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Friday, March 27, 2009

McMorons

We had to drive to the next town over to sign some tax forms in order to complete our return this year. As soon as Greg got off of work at noon, we piled in the car to head out. In order to minimize the trauma of an early afternoon strapped in a car seat, we decided to take the kids for a fast food lunch. They could eat it in the car during the drive, and when they were finished could stare quizzically at and question the meaning of useless toys given to them with their meal. “But what does it DO, Daddy?” Your guess is as good as mine, kiddo.

Our little playa girl doesn’t like the meat in cheeseburgers, so we always order her a cheese sandwich with ketchup. Today was no different. Our conversation through the drive-through went something like this:

“One kids meal with a cheese sandwich, ketchup only, fries, and an apple juice.”

“So, no meat?”

“Yes, that’s correct. No meat. Just cheese and ketchup.”

I paid at the first window, thinking this was an oddly expensive trip through the drive-through, but we were in a hurry to sign our lives away at the Tax Depot, so I just paid it. I paid the guy who didn’t even respond when I said “hello” to him. I always LOVE that.

I pull up to collect our food (if that’s what you call it) and notice right away that there is an extra deluxe burger in the bag. I explain that we didn’t order that many burgers, so please take the extra one back. But the lady just looked at me like I was an idiot, because it in fact wasn’t an “extra” burger considering we had PAID FOR IT. I insisted that we did not order it, nor did we need it, so they took it back and gave me the three bucks and change I had paid for it.

Then, we drive away. Greg’s doling out food, drinks, and cheap ass toys to the kids, and I’m driving toward our tax destiny. That’s when Greg discovered Emily’s sandwich was wrong. What did we get instead of cheese and ketchup on a bun? A hamburger. No cheese. No ketchup. Just meat on a bun.

Of course we were practically back on the highway, but I did an illegal U-turn to take it back to get the right thing for our picky little eater. Greg runs in to the joint to get it corrected, assuming he’d get the right thing if he stood there and asked for it in person. Here is how his conversation went:

“This burger isn’t what we ordered. We asked for a cheese sandwich with ketchup only. No meat.”

“So, you want just cheese and ketchup. No meat.”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“OK.” Then he turns to holler the order to someone else, who in turn repeats the correct order request back to him.

Greg gets back to the car with a new sandwich in a bag. He opens it up to give it to Emily, and what do we get THIS TIME? A cheeseburger with ketchup. Holy McMorons, REALLY? At least he could peel off the meat and leave the cheese with this burger flub. He turned to Emily and said, “Here’s the right sandwich, Emily, because I MADE IT.”

Golden arches? More like golden pain in the ass.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Three Things

There are days when I wonder where my children get some of their habits and traits from. The next three things however are no mystery. Emily gets them FROM HER FATHER.

First, her eating habits, such as drinking ranch through a straw:

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Second, her addiction to hummus:

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And third, my personal favorite, the career choice:

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What can I say? Like father, like daughter.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Um, Who Am I Again?

For almost four years now, I have focused most of my energy toward raising my children. During that time, I have learned a tremendous amount about parenting – discipline techniques that work and those that don’t, what green goop or red bumps are manageable and which ones are worthy of a trip to the pediatrician’s office, which cries mean drop everything and run to a child and which ones are just a ruse. I have learned ways to try and teach a four year old the concept of context – you can pick your nose in your room but not at the restaurant, you can joke about toots with your Daddy but not at the dinner table. I’m in no way a perfect parent, but I do strive to give my children the tools they will need to grow up with the critical skills necessary to make good choices in their lives.

So, during these last four-ish years, I have simultaneously learned some things about myself and lost a few things about myself. I’ve learned that I really do enjoy writing. My high school creative writing teacher always knew I’d never end up as an engineer as I had meticulously planned. If only I could find her so she could waggle her finger at me and say, “I told you so!”

I feel I have also lost some of my identity. With each iterative cleaning of the kitchen, changing of a diaper, breaking up a sibling fight, I have lost a bit of my previous identity and replaced it with one of “parent”. This isn’t a bad thing, but my life has been a bit out of balance lately, leaning a little too heavily on the “parent” side of things and not focusing enough on myself – my creative needs, my interests.

I am working on rebalancing my life. I am trying to do more for myself. This has become much easier now that the kids are a little bit older and no longer need the infinite and always present wisdom of my body language/cry/tantrum translation skills to see that their every basic need is met. What I have learned about this rebalancing act is that it is a very personal process. There are mothers and fathers out there that can be a nurturing being 24 hours a day; it oozes from their perfectly patient and giving pores, and they don’t require “get-away” time for themselves. This is not me. Do I wish it were? No, not really. What I wish for is a balance of the person I was before choosing to stay home with the kids with the person I have become. And to me, my children will benefit greatly from seeing their mother do things for herself. Being away from them for a while will teach them self-confidence. It’s a win-win all around.

These are some of the things I have done to bring balance to my life:

I joined a gym. I don’t go as often as I should though, shhhhh!

I joined a supper club.

I have invited people and families over to our house that I want to spend more time with.

I have a book club. It’s one night a month out where I get to discuss books that don’t always have pictures or a superhero in them.

I blog. Again, I don’t do it as often as I’d like, but pfffft.

And lastly, with the help of my friend, Amy, I now have two half days a month where I can drop the kids off at her house and do whatever the hell I want to do. In return, she gets two half days a month to drop off her daughter and go do whatever the hell she wants to do.

Today was the first day of this pilot program, and there was only one problem. I didn’t know what to do with my free four hours! Last night Greg asked me, “Well, what do you always wish you had time to do but don’t?” I couldn’t answer this question because I hadn’t thought about it since, well, forever. Don’t get me wrong, Greg is awesome at kicking me out in the evenings to go to the gym, encouraging me to go have a drink with a friend once in a while, and for putting up with my weekly early Saturday morning garage saling. This time is different though – it’s during the day! There won’t be anyone waiting for me to get home! There’s no agenda!

Should I go to a movie?

Should I go salivate over house stuff while wandering through The Home Depot?

Should I go to a coffee shop, sprawl out at a table, and brainstorm freelance writing ideas with my new copy of Writer’s Market?

Should I go pick a new paint color for our glaringly white master bedroom?

Should I volunteer somewhere for a few hours?

I opted to get stuff done around the house that I just can’t ever seem to carve out time for. I finished up a burdensome amount of filing, emptying an eye sore of a catch-all bin in our bedroom. I moved my dusty and never used scrapbooking table from our bedroom into our spare bedroom. So, there. I am two big steps closer to turning our bedroom into the retreat I desperately want it to be.

Maybe I’ll get better at figuring out what I would like to do with my free time once I’ve had a little more practice.  Now that is a challenge I completely welcome.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Wanna Be A Rock Star

I already have the attitude.  Checkout the facial expression around 37 seconds.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mental Arm Wrestling

I think everyone in our family is a bit out of sorts due to a couple of things that have happened over the last few days. First, on a whim we drove to the coast FOR THE DAY. Not for the weekend. FOR THE DAY. It was truly awesome! There is nothing like the sounds of the waves crashing and the smell of the ocean air. We loved playing on the very chilly beach for a few hours, and I loved racing through IKEA for a half hour on a break during the drive back. A half hour race through IKEA should be its own blog entry, being the major feat that it is and all. To get to the coast, we had to drive five hours there and five hours back, which included a shortcut through a scary neighborhood and a drive past San Quentin. And no, interestingly enough, those are not one in the same. So, to sum up, it was a great day, but a long and tiring day.

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The second thing that happened is Daylight Savings Time. In college I despised “spring forward” and longed for the extra hour that came with “fall back”. However, as a mother of small children, the reverse is true. We still put the kids down at the same time, but they lie in bed and toss and turn for that extra hour before finally going to sleep. The glorious part is they finally sleep until 7 a.m. instead of that horrendous 6 a.m., giving us that much sought after extra hour of sleep. However, the time change gets us all out of whack. The extra light in the evenings is fabulous, but the kids are like, “You want me to go to bed? Now? Say what? The sun is still up. You’re crazy, lady.” To which I reply, “Why, yes, yes I am. And I have you guys to thank for that. Now, hurry up, American Idol is about to start.”

Today we had a great play date at our house, and when it was over it was time for our daily ritual of quiet time. Emily finally hit her emotional wall with all the excitement and changes over the last few days and was a complete shrieking mess when I asked her to brush her teeth. I know, I’m just so mean. There was no reasoning with her. There was no threatening her with the fear of sugar bugs rotting her teeth. There was no getting a word in edgewise. BECAUSE THE GIRL HAS A SET OF LUNGS ON HER Janet Leigh would have gone psycho for. After she hit me, I told her she wasn’t going to get a story before quiet time, to which she replied with more shrieks. I put her to bed and hung out right outside her door. She’d get out of bed, and I’d put her back. She’d get out again, and I’d put her back. All the while she is screaming at the top of her lungs how she wants a story.

AN HOUR LATER, she finally caved that she wasn’t going to get a story. I sung her the ABCs and Twinkle Little Star, and she told me she was sorry for being mad at me.

And thus, I emerge victorious from the mental arm wrestling today. Both kids are asleep, and I get to blog about it. Lucky you.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Butterflies Molt – Economy Doesn’t Recover

I was hoping when these little guys were “born” into the world it would dawn a new day like they would in a movie.  A metaphor for a new beginning.  But alas, they spread their wings and the world economy is still stuttering, wars rage on and nothing changes.

But I will tell you something.  They sure are fun to watch, and they put smiles on these little faces.  Maybe that’s enough.

From 3-4-2009