Saturday, May 30, 2009

Good Thing I Like Me

Note to Self:

Before letting your 7 year old daughter watch you shower, make sure you have a very strong sense of self.

Apparently Molly would rather forgo puberty altogether if it means turning into such as vile, disgusting specimen as her dear mother.

All said in the nicest of ways, of course.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Picture This

I try to put a picture with every post, but I can’t always come up with one. Sometimes the photos of me are flattering, other times not so much. I’m not too happy that the recent pictures of me show significant signs of aging. Photoshop isn’t my thing, but it would be nice to touch them up a bit.

So why don’t I just leave the pictures of me out altogether since the kids and the dog are much younger and cuter and are such willing subjects? Because I’m the mom, that’s why.

After my mother died, I searched through piles of photos, absolutely hungry for images of her. I found quite a few from her younger years—homecoming queen, college student, young bride-- or as I used to so eloquently say to her, “Back when you were pretty, Mommy!” I had a collage made for my dorm room wall, all featuring pictures of her, but still I wanted more.

I watched our few home movies, by then converted to VHS, but I saw only one fleeting image of her, merely a second long. Her voice, which I forgot two days after she died, remained elusive as I listened to tiny answering machine tapes in the hopes of hearing it just one more time. My friends still had her voice in their heads, but for me it was gone.

It seems that moms just aren’t in that many pictures. Either we are always the ones taking them, or we avoid the camera because we think we won’t look good.

Indeed, our kids sometimes wield the camera and snap pictures straight up our nostrils or of the cellulite on the back of our thighs. Not pretty. Every picture Molly takes of me looks like a surprised Hillary Clinton. This is one of the LEAST crazy looking ones she's taken of me...

More likely, however, child photographers will take pictures of Lego creations or pets. I don’t mind, since cameras are digital and images now limitless, but that didn’t go over very well in the 70’s when I was growing up.

One roll of film usually carried my family from the first day of school through to Easter, so my mom didn’t look too kindly on what she considered “wasted” pictures taken by the kids.

My personal favorite was my series entitled “Cat in a Paper Bag.”

Unfortunately, none of the cat showed. Mom finally put her foot down after yet another set of blurry hamster pics and made the NO ANIMALS or SCENERY rule. To this day, I have a hard time taking a picture without a person in it.

In the 80’s, we got more leeway and camera rights and we got my mom in a few more shots, but I will always regret that she died during the Disc Camera era—crappier, blurrier pictures there have never been.

I still can’t seem to get it together enough to have professional pictures taken of my family. I guess it’s too late to get those gorgeous, artsy pictures of the kids with naked hineys or tiny hands curled around mine. 7 ½ and 10 years old would be pushing it, right? But I do try to have my little camera ready to capture special moments when they arise.

And I’m determined to make sure the camera turns around on me, too.

When I look at shots of myself, I may see wrinkles, a stubborn lack of exercise and an inch of gray, but someday my kids will just see…MOM.

And So It Has Come to This...

Fine. Consider it cruelty animals, but those mousetraps aren’t set (right now, at least) and someone in this house needs to learn that a kitchen table is for eating dinner, not being pranced on by a 60 lb lab every time we leave the house.

Friday, May 22, 2009

In the Blink of a (Red) Eye

Have you ever seen one of those TV shows where you get an inner monologue of what’s going on inside a person’s mind? I think this is highly unrealistic, because I KNOW there’s a heck of a lot more going on in the average person’s mind than just a random thought or two. At least this is true of my own mind at any given moment.

The running commentary in my head ranges from the mundane to the wacky to the outrageous, and I am glad it stays private. It could be a personal pep talk, a petty gripe, or an irrational fear depending on the second. If I tried to share this info with you, you would either die of boredom, think I’m crazy, or both.

I can be driving in the car, looking out the window, and I’ll go from, “Whoa, I didn’t know they even made pants like that anymore,” to thinking about pantiliners or my bra, wondering why people call Alzheimer’s “Al-timers” or “Old-Timers,” feeling lonely—or itchy—or witchy, wondering what a shmoo is, or pondering my faith all in the time it takes to blink.

The good news is that women are known for being great multi-taskers. Grocery lists during intimate moments anyone? Yeah, NEVER at this house either, but you know what I mean.

We also have pretty good filters, preventing us from indulging in TMI, except occasionally in the blog world. A blog can be a great place for a brain dump, now and then, and the sharing of stuff you wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing up in the line at Target. What I like about blogs, however, is not hearing every little thought that goes through someone’s mind, or happens in her day, but knowing what she thinks about it, and what significance it has to her.

For instance, I could tell you that in the above picture, one of my eyes is killing me because I inadvertently left a tiny sliver of Irish Spring under one fingernail after my shower And in the middle of my kids' music concert I touched my eye, thereby lodging said sliver in it. Then, to avoid screaming in pain and disrupting the concert I ran out of the room and began flushing it with water in the bathroom sink. And when I got back I had to sit with my head in my hands for the duration of the concert. And then I looked like a red-eyed freak as I avoided the sweet lady who had called me to help her with the post-concert reception, but whom I never called back because I'm a loser. And the whole time I was extra tired anyway because I'd just started my period....

You get the picture, so I won't go on.

God is the only one who is privy to everything going on in our lives and to our unfiltered thoughts. Fortunately, He’s big enough to handle them.

If you are still awake reading this, I’d like to apologize for the times I veer (and will continue to veer) toward the side of TMI.

Let me just say, tip of the iceberg, baby.

It's Child's Play

Sorry for the blog silence. I’ve had a busy week being away and then dealing with end of the school year stuff. Just wanted to pop in for a quick shout-out to Blockbuster.

Thanks, Blockbuster, for putting freakazoid movie covers featuring “Chucky”—of “Child’s Play” fame-- near family friendly titles like “Firehouse Dog,” which my family rented while I was away.

You see, I didn’t get quite tired enough helping out at the church retreat. Three nights of sleeping in the church basement on an air mattress didn’t wear me out completely.

I had to come home just in time to surrender prime real estate on my side of the bed because my kids were so terrified by the scissor wielding psycho doll you so kindly introduced them to.

In Your Debt,

Anna See

p.s. As least my bed is made.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Suite Life

The above photo is of Molly’s bed.

Here’s Jake’s:

Which kid do you think is earning $1.00 a day to make Mom and Dad’s bed?

Yep. Bereft at the idea that he is broke and there are apparently more Legos in this world not yet residing in our house, Jake had to find money to feed his habit.

His birthday is almost 10 months away, and the kids don’t get an allowance, so things were not looking good. When he proposed making the bed for me, I said sure. Now I’m realizing that if he keeps this up all year I’ll be out $365!

I’ve got to say, he is a great bed maker. All 6 pillows plumped and lined up. Sheets tucked in, not just pulled up the way I usually do before I sneak out my side.

There is something to be said for being able to climb into a bed made my someone else. It feels decadent and luxurious. I get the same feeling when I eat a meal someone else has cooked.

I'm not sure how long this will last, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s kind of like being in a hotel but without having the whole blue light, body fluid heebie-jeebie thing going on-- or am I the only one who thinks about those things?

Anyway, I plan to enjoy this luxury while it lasts. Do you think I can get him to put chocolate on the pillows next week?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sleepy? Meet Grumpy.

We are always telling our kids to “use their words” instead of lashing out in anger or frustration. Sometimes in the few minutes after school ends, but before we can get a snack, our minivan seems more like it's carrying zoo animals, instead of a mom, a dog, and two kids. Sometimes there is sluggish silence, other times guttural groaning, and occasionally animated interaction.

When I think about everything that could have taken place while the kids have been at school, I wonder how they can even be lucid at this point. We’ve heard how asking kids, “How was your day?” is generally ineffective, and I think it would take a lot of maturity and self-awareness to be able to put into words the essence of all that transpired: sitting still, writing, navigating social waters, taking tests, playing musical instruments, getting in trouble, wondering who is best friends with whom, being hungry, using self-control…

The highs and lows in this 6 ½ hour time span are boggling to me. During that same 6 ½ hours I’ve had time alone at home, in my car, on the computer, and at work. These 2 little introverts of mine have been “on” all day long.

Sometimes we don’t always know what makes those around us grumpy. It took me 10 years to realize that Tom’s occasional stony silence and sourpuss looks probably had more to do with the Yankees losing than anything the kids or I had done. I know now to ask my generally pleasant husband, “Was there a big game last night?”

For the kids, grumpiness can come from anything from a scratchy tag to feeling left out in the neighborhood or wondering if a friend still likes them.

The things that get me grumpy are endless. Have I been fed in the last 3 hours? Do I have to pee? Did I get enough sleep? Okay, I know I sound like a newborn, but, truly, any of these can throw me off.

What about the morning newspaper? Can I find the Style section? Have I had caffeine? Ok, what about shoes? If my shoes are uncomfortable, watch out!

So if physical discomforts can send me into a tailspin, what about the larger issues—spiritual, social, relational? And people who are really, really needy? Yep, that throws me off, too.

I remember standing in the high school hallway with a colleague who insisted on detailing his Julius Caesar lesson plan to me at 5 pm. I tried to be polite and interested, but after a while, my mind went elsewhere. I had been there since 6:30 am for heaven’s sake-- would this guy ever stop talking?

He accused me of not giving him my full attention, which was true, but would he have chosen reality over my superficial nodding? Would he have preferred knowing that I was in a dire tampon emergency situation and that my mind was…elsewhere?

I guess what I’m saying is we don’t ever know what’s really going with other people. Sometimes we aren’t even self-aware enough to know what’s going on with us.

I was super grumpy to Tom and the kids this morning because I’m feeling stressed about being away Thursday through Sunday. Was I really pissed that Molly couldn’t find a uniform shirt to suit her fancy, or was I thinking about all the laundry I’ve done and have yet to do before leaving tomorrow?

When my kids are grumpy, I try to give them grace, knowing that while they can’t be disrespectful or hateful, home should be a safe place where they can relax and recharge.

When I’m grumpy, they tend to give me my space—“Look out—here comes Mom.” I know my grumpiness is NOT good model of “using my words”—as I huff and puff and sigh and pace throughout the house.

But home needs to be a safe place for Mom, too. I guess I could wear a little sign that says, "It's not You, it's Me" unless, of course, it isn't.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Smell a Mouse

Some things I can’t stand:

Being Sweaty
Waiting in Line (If I don’t have something to read)
Paying Full Price
Being “Marketed” to

These reasons are probably why Tom has stopped inviting me to professional baseball games.

Why am I telling you this? Because I am going to Disney World. In June.

You may be thinking what a great mom I am to forgo my personal pleasure for my children, but I’m not going with:
No, Molly and Jake have yet to go to Disney.

I’m going with:

My dear college friends. Sorry to leave you out of the pic, H, but I didn’t have a current one of all of us, and I’ve gained 7 lbs since this one was taken, so I’m feeling a wee bit nostalgic for last fall. Blogger’s rights.

Anyway, we are all either on the verge of turning 40 or have recently done so, so we’re taking a trip to celebrate! One friend’s parents have offered us their condo in Florida, so we are flying south! The Disney thing is a fun day trip, I think.

Now before you think I’m a hater and all, let me say that I have attended “Disney Princesses on Ice” and “Disney Gymnastic Superstars” But both were inside, in the winter, and I did have a child with me, my own.

When my dear friends asked where I wanted to go on our big trip I do remember waxing on with great hyperbole…. “I don’t care! The inside of a Don’s John is fine with me as long as we’re together!” But Disney? Never crossed my mind.

Am I worried about my friends reading this and thinking I’m a party pooper? Heck no. We’ve known each other since 1987 and my party pooper-ness has been long established.

We’ll be reminiscing about college. “Remember when we **** all night at the ***** with ***** and *****? That was hilarious! Oh yeah, you weren’t there, Anna.”

Some college activities freaked me out a bit, because I am a worrier, so I was not privy to them. Usually, my friends didn’t even tell me about them, either so I wouldn’t feel left out, so I wouldn't be a wet blanket, or so my head wouldn’t explode.

I’m not saying I didn’t go to parties each Thursday-Saturday night, but during the more colorful activities, or games of "I Never," I was likely to be in my fuchsia sweat suit emblazoned with the words “Tab’s Got Sass!” on the front, hair in a scrunchie, pounding Little Debbie Snack cakes while watching tv on my one channel in my apartment.

If Al Gore had perfected the Internet by then, I might have been blogging. But PLEASE don’t confuse me with those nerds who hung out in the computer labs next to the huge mainframes, staring at black and orange screens, "chatting" with people from all over the country whom they didn’t know, when they could have been having face to face encounters with real human beings. I knew that would NEVER catch on.

So, it is true—I hate being sweaty. I hate lines. I hate being marketed to and paying full price. And oh yeah, other people’s kids bug me… a lot. Yet I am going to Disney World.

If my college friends are reading this, I hope they don’t disinvite me. It really is all about the company, and I’m beyond psyched about catching up with them. I'm actually counting the days.

As long as I have enough caffeine, food, sunscreen, and possibly alcohol, I should be fine. One question: Is it okay to bring a book to Disney?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Word to the Wise

If this post looks familiar, it's because it's a repeat. I'm following in the footsteps of many of my fellow bloggers and re-posting something from early in my blogging days-- last year-- in the hopes that some newer readers will enjoy it. Have a great weekend!

I was spellchecking my blog recently when the words “J.C. Penney” got flagged. I don’t expect all proper nouns to make it through, but guess what handy alternative the computer offered me? “Japanned.”

This sounded weird and vaguely racist, so I looked it up online. If you are unfamiliar with the word, here goes:Japan –verb (used with object) 5. to varnish with japan; lacquer. 6. to coat with any material that gives a hard, black gloss.

I think my spell-check is pretty snooty for suggesting an obscure lacquer technique from the 18th century. As if I don’t feel intellectually inferior enough spending my days writing about diarrhea and cellulite, now I have to be shown up by my own spell-check.

Hello? I guess J.C. Penney is a bit too pedestrian for its tastes.

This reminded me of a crazy thing that happened to Tom with his Blackberry last summer. He was branching out business-wise and needed an office manager. He approached me, “Anna, do you know of a stay-at-home mom who might like to get into the business world by working part-time while her kids are in school?”

When I stopped waving my arms yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!” I recommended my friend Jane for the job. Before Jane’s interview, Tom got stuck on a business trip and needed to reschedule. He emailed her from the airport on his Blackberry.

When he typed, “We are stuck in California,” his Blackberry immediately changed it to, “We are stuck in validpenis.” Tom was not aware that “validpenis” was an acceptable substitute for California, so he didn’t bother proofreading his message.

For good measure, he signed off with, “I’ll contact you when I get back from “validpenis.” Someone had put this little glitch in the Blackberry software.

When Tom returned from, ahem, CALIFORNIA, he re-read the email and nearly died. He was mortified. I almost wet my pants laughing. We didn’t know what to do.

Should he explain to Jane during the interview that he wasn’t a perv, or would it too inappropriate to even have the word “penis” floating around during a job interview? Should he pretend that nothing happened, in case she hadn’t read her email closely? Perhaps she would think it said, “Valparaiso?”

I encouraged him to ignore the situation entirely. Tom said nothing, and Jane took the job. About a month later, over a glass of wine, I broached the subject with Jane. She had, indeed, noticed the offending word right away when she read her email. For a few moments she stared at her computer screen with a serious case of the heebs.

She lamented the fact that working for a weirdo wouldn’t be the best way to jumpstart her transition back into the workforce. She wondered how the wholesome See family could harbor such a sicko in its midst. She wondered how to break it to me, her good friend, that my hubby made Clarence Thomas look as tame as a beanie baby.

Then Jane did something I never would have thought of: she Googled “validpenis.” Jackpot. In an online chat about phones was mention of how this Blackberry keypad turned the word California to “validpenis.”


Technology got us into this crisis and technology quickly got us out. I don’t know whether today’s blog proves we are smarter than computers or they are smarter than we are, but when I spell-check it in a moment, I’m curious as to what choices it’s going to give for “validpenis.” California, perhaps?

Thursday Night Sadness

I miss E.R.

Sometimes I'm relieved when a show ends because then I can get part of my life back.

Not feeling that way this time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brand New Look, Same Low Price!

Several of you have sent me dear compliments on my blog’s new look! Thank you so much! I just LOVE it, too. It seemed like the right time to make a change from the basic Blogger template, since I knew my subtitle was no longer accurate.

It said, “A 30-something At-Home Mom…” Well, in a few short months the “30-something” will no longer be true (yikes!), and now that I have new job, my time “At-Home” is greatly reduced. Not that At-Home moms are home all day anyway, but I know you know what I mean.

When I consider my new look I wonder—is it too pretty and pristine for me? The colors and style reflect the things I love, and even the way I try to decorate my house. But, I wonder, does it fail to capture the Gray Areas? The gray on my head, along with the gray areas of mothering, being married, or being a friend?

Ever since I became a mom I’ve tried to be transparent with others, according to my own experiences. That’s one of the reasons I love the blogging community so much and wish I’d known about it when my kids were tiny. Everyone needs to be able to be real with someone. Face to face, this is sometimes hard.

I was lucky to have a few friends and my sister when my kids were very young, to whom I could say things like, “About 3 weeks after your baby is born you are going to start hating your husband for a while,” or “Are you so tired you wish you could go to sleep and never wake up?” or “Do you ever get mad at your baby when she won’t stop crying?” I think letting others know of our struggles, through blogging or face to face, and being real about the gray areas in our lives, helps both us and them.

I think of the idea file I keep of the dream kitchen I hope to have one day. You know I’m a house junkie, right? My idea files are my House Porn. Every kitchen in my file has creamy off-white cabinets, carrera marble or black soapstone countertops, and stainless steel appliances.

Throw in a laughing model dishing up dinner for well-dressed friends or placing a nutritious after-school snack on the capacious breakfast bar for a well-dressed (barefoot, flowing white dress—preferably smocked) child and the picture is complete.

The file holds the ideals, yet I know if I ever do get my dream kitchen, there will still be a stack of papers on the counter, waiting to be dealt with. Dog hair will still be ever present, and the pile of shoes will still seem to copulate and multiply when I’m not looking. A mudroom area, deep storage doors and even a walk-in pantry (oooh, sigh!) could help with this, but real life is still real life.

So I guess my new blog look is an ideal. It’s a peaceful break from the clutter that is every day life, just as my magazine photos provide an escape and a fantasy for me. Most importantly to me, however, is that this pur-ty blog is a place where I can write openly about my days—and some days ARE better than others.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What The???

We’ve been talking about dirty words around here a lot lately. The kids being told by some helpful soul that the “F word” starts with the letters “f” and “u” and hearing someone say “Ass Head” helped get the ball rolling. “My Dog Skip” added “titties” to the word bank. Let’s just say that the days of the “S” word meaning “stupid” are over in this house.

Anyway, as soon as Jake hears a dirty word, he starts to talk about it in lightly veiled terms (“the S word, the D word”) which while under the guise of protecting Molly’s innocence, just gets her more intrigued.

We’ve talked about how certain words or phases can be problematic because they are right on the verge of cursing. Thus my aversion to the current preschool trend of little kids saying “What the??? What the????” Ewww, I do not like that.

Anyway, now that they are 10 and almost 8 we have been giving the kids more freedom of speech than before: Toot has become Fart and Bottom has become Butt.

This pleases them to no end. I’m sure the slight hesitation and sheepish looks that precede the use of these words will not last forever, if they last till the end of the week.

During our most recent conversation they quizzed me on what is and isn’t allowed in our house (“Is darn allowed? Yes. “Suck?” No--use “Stink” instead. “Oh my God?” Absolutely not. “Oh my Gosh?” Well, yes), then Molly came up with this phrase crammed full of Mom and Dad-sanctioned expression.

“So you’re saying it’s okay to say,

Darn it my stink butt farted. Oh my Gosh!”

Much giggling ensued.

I’m sure we’ll look back at these as the Good Old Days.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Should Have Skipped It?

If it’s Saturday movie night and your kids want to watch “Penguins of Madagascar” and you think it looks stupid, DO NOT strongly suggest that they watch the charming and beautifully written 1999 flick “My Dog Skip” on VHS unless you are prepared for the fallout.

Do not insist to your 7 year old dog-lover that the dog WILL NOT DIE because even though the handsome neighbor boy does not die in WWII (whew!) and Skip does indeed survive his harrowing run-in with the blunt end of a shovel, all dogs do indeed die. Even an off-camera implication of dead dog is not going to fly in your house.

Your desire to watch a well-reviewed movie with good actors (Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson and cute as a button young Frankie Munoz) should not outweigh your daughter’s desire to avoid ever contemplating her own precious dog’s demise, particularly now that as a second grader, she can “do the math.”

If you do insist on watching it, be prepared to miss much-desired Saturday night blog time while the 7 year old screams, “I don’t want Shadow to die!” over and over in your ears until they feel like they are bleeding and she finally falls asleep in your arms at 10:30 pm.

And that 99 cent VHS tape of “Old Yeller” you also picked up at the thrift shop? Forget about it.