Graceful, Like a Dried Leprechaun

This just in: I am not graceful. (And since we're truth-telling, I'm also not really a chicken.)

I have had this dilemma recently with a new acquaintance. Although I think I have been pretty friendly and welcoming, even watching her kids and helping her out when need be, it seems she just doesn't like me. So, after a random encounter with her I asked Kurt about this.

"I just don't understand what it is about me she doesn't like," I said, feeling a bit too middle-school-aged for my own good. "Did I do or say something to upset her or does she just not like who I am? What is it?"

And it was then that Kurt informed me, in the most loving and caring of ways, that well, "you are just not, um, graceful" for lack of a better word. (Loving and caring like the warm fuzzy you feel when snuggled up to an alligator....ahhh.) When he saw the hurt in my eyes....ok, the theatrical pained look I gave him, knowing full well that you can't be graceful-like-a-chicken AND "graceful" (insert the flourishing wave of a well adorned and pedicured hand)....he explained that I could be abrasive and blunt, saying things that although may be true, others would simply keep to themselves. (Ok, maybe I didn't have to tell her it was rude for her to send her kid to school when he had been vomiting all day the day before...but seriously, who does that? And yes, I know it is also rude to tell someone that their actions are rude but at least my honesty, as I prefer to call it, doesn't end up spreading the plague....)

And then Kurt went on to tell me that I just don't fit the profile of aristocrat with whom some people like to surround themselves....blah, blah, blah, something about not caring about fashion, or trends, and lack of proper etiquette....blah, blah....

What? Is it because if I saw Larry the Cable Guy walking down the street I might think he was a relative?

Or because my 91 year old grandmother is more tech-savvy than I am, chillin' with her iPhone while I am happy with my free-with-plan-because-it-doesn't-know-apps-exist-phone, and I don't have an iPod and think that an iPad sounds far too much like something we learned about in health class back when they separated the boys and girls for the day?

Or is it because my idea of "dressing up" is wearing my "good" pair of jeans and the less wrinkled T-shirt? (Hey, it means I am not in my running clothes and have showered! That's pretty big around here.) In full disclosure, in middle school my dad took me to a trendy little store in the mall to buy a new set of clothes, you know, one of those daddy-daughter outings that really meant a lot to me, but I don't think I have ever felt as uncomfortable wearing clothes in all my life. Seriously, why bother with making sure 'this top' gets worn with 'those particular bottoms' when I can wear any top with my jeans and never fear that I don't match! And get this, you stick a "nice" top with my "good jeans" and hey, we're ready to party! Right? What's that you say? I'd have to have my hair cut more than once every 18 months? And styled, too? Isn't that what my black scrunchy is for? (I admit, on some things, I am truly hopeless.)

So, anyway, I just wanted to clarify, in case you missed the memo (or at least the last two years of blogging), for the most part, I am not graceful in any other way than "like a chicken."

Now that we have that cleared up, I'll end with a few funny conversations I had recently.

So, the other day had been a hard one with our first born. He was just ornery and irritating and a bit um, abrasive (hmmm), and by the end of the day, I was very happy he had a Scout meeting to go to with his dad. When they got back, the house was quiet, (the girls and Liam were in bed), I was reading and Kurt sent Aidan upstairs to bathe.

"Hey hun, can you put Aidan down tonight?" Kurt asked sweetly.

"Oh! Which vet will do that?" I responded. (What was that about saying things other people wouldn't?)

Hey, some days are better than others....


Then there was a conversation, if you can call it that, that I had with Liam. You see, he doesn't actually talk much, except for the sign language he has really been picking up these last few months. But he sure gets his thoughts across well. So, I had just bathed him and had to take him down to the basement where the laundry was sitting, waiting to be folded. I picked out some pajamas and took Liam to a better place to dress him when he started freaking out. He squirmed and wiggled trying to get away from me.

"Liam, hold still so I can put your clothes on," I said. He immediately put his arm under his chin, wiggling his fingers which signs the word "dirty."

Oh come on, et tu Brute? Not even my two year old can cut me some slack!

"No Liam, those clothes are clean. They just haven't been folded yet..."

Since when do two-year olds notice these things, or care for that matter?!


My favorite conversation though was in the grocery store this last week. We were walking through the produce section when Madeline blurted out:

"Hey Mom, look! They have those little dried things you like to eat so much!"

"What are you talking about, Madeline?" I asked from a few fruits down.

"You know, those little dried Leprechauns you really like to eat," she shouted, pointing to a display of dried apricots.

Hee hee....well, you know in the south, when we could catch those lucky little buggers, we preferred 'em fried (tasted like chicken that way) but up here in the north, you can only find them bagged and ready-to-eat and in the produce section no less. I wonder if I need to put on my "good" jeans for those...


The Green Goober and Other Such Lessons From the Week

We try to make St. Patrick's Day a special day in our house. Starting with our kids placing their shoes outside their bedroom door the night before (to see if any leprechaun happens to stop by with green and golden goodies) and ending with a big Irish feast (this year: corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and homemade Irish Soda Bread topped off with our own version of Shamrock Shakes: vanilla milkshakes with a bit of green food coloring...and a much appreciated hint of Bailey's Irish Cream for mom....)

So, when a friend announced she set up a play date at a place called The Green Goober, I thought it sounded like the perfect addition to our St. Patty's Day fun. I didn't bother even looking at it online because, heck, with a name like that, I'm in! Bringing me to this week's first lesson:

Lesson #1: Names can be deceiving. (Or perhaps I need to reconsider what I think sounds exciting?)

For all intents and purposes, The Green Goober is located in the city, far off our usual path. So, after a short workout at the gym, we got on the highway and headed in that direction, completely missing the exit due to road construction and a lack of any warning that the exit was about to jump out at us....seriously, why bother with a sign at all if you're going to hide it! After a mile or so, we got off at the next exit and seeing as how there was bumper to bumper traffic going the other way, I thought, 'shoot, we'll just cut through the side streets'.....famous last words.

Ten minutes later, Madeline says: "Mom, it looks like we are downtown."

"We are," I grumbled, turning the car around...again...while making sure I didn't lose sight of the highway, just in case. The girls watched the pretty "artwork" on the signs and buildings as I got my bearings straight and figured we had a much better chance of finding the place if we were actually on the road we needed to be on, which, by that point, I had to assume was on the other side of the highway. Oh, how a GPS would come in handy at times like those!

Twenty minutes later we arrived at The Green Goober. While I am not entirely sure what I was expecting, what we found was FAR less interesting. The Green Goober is a neat little Eco-friendly toy shop situated right next to a huge Frozen Custard store. (I probably would have opted for the latter of the two myself but figured we ought to go ahead and check it out.) The owner is very friendly, offering organic cookies and milk to the kids upon entry (a tradition she may have to forfeit after the amount my kids inhaled, having eaten very little of their green pancakes in order to indulge in green and gold candies that morning.) The store contains things made mostly in other countries from mostly wooden or organically grown and produced or otherwise all natural materials. This place is right up so many of my friends' alleys and as much as I would like to buy in, I just can't. After all, my kids are NOT going to be eating that sand bucket that excitedly claims it is free of BPA, lead paint, toxins, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, trans-fat, hormones and whatever else. And the sand that will be going into the buckets and subsequently finding its way into their mouths, well, I am guessing it isn't organically grown or toxin free. Maybe I'm supposed to buy the $25 sand bucket, melt it down and serve it with a side of organic fruit. I don't know. But, I do know, as wonderful as it sounds, I can't justify spending money that way. They obviously haven't seen what kids do to buckets (or what gets put in them) or they would reconsider the hefty price tag. Seriously. Just two days ago my kids were excitedly digging for worms with which to fill their buckets and "keep as pets." ("Mom, don't you have a BIGGER bucket? We are going to find FAR more worms than this one will hold!" Woo hoo...) And guess what? The worms were perfectly happy in our $2, and I am guessing quite contaminated, bucket....well, at least we didn't hear any complaints.

And to my dear friends, who do everything as "green" as possible: I love you all dearly and truly respect you for living what you believe, I just don't know how you afford to do it. I mean, I paid close to $4 for a small bag of organic gummy worms so that the kids could what? Experience an organic sugar high? (I'm pretty sure they are just as bad for you either way.) In less than ten minutes, they ate every last one of those babies, too....oh wait, I take it back. They ate all but one which I found hanging on the bottom, inside of my shirt later that night. Very odd. But I am okay with it because at least it was organic and gummy and didn't come from their bucket!

Lesson #2: If your actions draw your sister's blood, they are probably not okay.

This morning began with two hysterical screams from upstairs. One, an unidentifiable shrieking of garbled sounds and the other, a princess-like squeal from Madeline because, "Lily is getting her blood on me!" Never mind the fact that it was Madeline having hit Lily upside the head that caused the nose bleed. And can you believe Lily had the audacity to bleed on her sister, and all over the toys, the playroom carpet, the hallway and loft before finally settling in for a thorough drenching of the bathroom? And no, the chemicals I reached for would not be found anywhere close to The Green Goober (in fairness, they were mostly red goobers...). But they sure as heck got the blood out.

Lesson #3: Computers and gymnastics don't mix.

Lily did it, the computer won....need I say more? Actually, I am not even exactly sure of what happened other than she was doing gymnastics and somehow ended up needing an ice-pack because of the computer....some things are better left unknown.

Lesson #4: You can't walk a cat....at least not easily.

So because Leroy at times seems very "dog-like," we decided it would be a lot of fun to "walk" him. We bought a harness and leash and got Leroy all hooked up. The first time out was mostly spent with Leroy crouched down, freaked out by all the sounds: airplanes overhead, birds chirping in trees, a dog walking by (twice), 10 minutes spent chasing a bug in the mulch and other such things.

Then yesterday, we thought it would be fun to meet Aidan at the bus stop with Leroy. Seeing as how the cat doesn't actually move much, at least not on our terms, we fastened Liam in one side of the double stroller and put Leroy in the other (fully harnessed and leashed of course) and slowly made our way up the hill. Let's just say, there is a reason people do not walk cats. But, when the mailman came back by to tell us our "lazy" cat had made his day, it was all worth it, even if it means becoming "that crazy neighbor."

Lesson #5: Don't carry a cat with it's back legs against your face.

Really Madeline? Did you need to carry the cat with it's bum in your face? I was pretty sure the scratches running under her eye and across her cheek definitely got the lesson across until I saw her running across the room holding a squirming cat just moments later....

Lesson #6: Tie the kids up BEFORE trying to sweep and mop the floors. (Or how to have more fun with the ol' Snap, Crackle and Pop!)

You'd think I would know these things by now but I can't tell you how, um, "delighted" I was, after having moved all the kitchen furniture and then sweeping the entire main level in preparation for mopping, to glance over and see Lily and Liam playing in a pile of Rice Krispies they had poured out in the adjoining room. They poured out at least three quarters of the box, which by all accounts, makes a much better Snap, Crackel and Pop when you STOMP, STOMP, STOMP it into the ground. After I SNAPPED and CRACKELED a little myself, I wondered why it is I never use the ol' POP on my kids....oh, some days I wonder....

Lesson #7: There is a reason children don't get to name babies.

Today's car conversation went like this:

"Mom, you know what?" Lily asked.

"What, Lily?" I replied.

"When I am older and hatch out babies, I am going to name one Junior and the the other one Wee-wee," she told me.

Hee hee...hee hee hee.....it's a good thing she chose good, traditional names for her hatchlings, you know, those that can't cause any heartache or humiliation or....reminds me of the other night when I was playing indoor soccer. There was this one Asian guy on the other team who was a decent player and as I went one-on-one with him I heard one of his teammates call out: "Come on, Wei-lei!" (You know, kind of like Pele...get it? Ok, so you have to know soccer I suppose...)

But really, how can you not find that amusing?

And finally, Lesson #8: It is unwise to throw a temper tantrum in the bathtub.

Liam has been testing the hypothesis that if you throw yourself face down in the water while screaming and thrashing about, you will drown more quickly than if you just, say, take a normal bath, in happiness and good cheer. Shoot, why bother going green when shades of blue are so easy to come by! (And far less expensive too!)

Have a great weekend, whatever color you may choose!


The Walk

During the forty days of Lent, we remember the forty days Jesus spent in the desert before he began his public ministry. It is often thought of as a time we are to reflect on (and endure) our own personal wilderness. It is a time of preparation for believers: a time of prayer, penitence, giving and self-denial. Sometimes the experience stays on the spiritual level. Often it is experienced alone. And then there are those literal wilderness journeys through which we must travel on our own while surrounded by those we love the most....


We are currently living in the middle of a mirage of spring. March is typically our snowiest month, yet so far, we have had none to speak of. As a matter of fact, on Sunday it reached nearly 50 degrees and we started to see the great big meltdown begin. Given such beauty and warmth, Kurt, his visiting buddy, the four kids and I decided it was a perfect day for a walk around nearby Starring Lake. Ok, in fairness to the kids, they had no choice in the matter but happily hopped in the car anyway after I let each of them choose a riding vehicle to take with us.

My version of the story:
We arrived at the lake where I unpacked the truck, got Liam situated in our jogging stroller and watched each kid delightedly ride down the first little hill which was covered in melted snow (a.k.a. water) where Aidan lost his balance and fell over and Madeline and Lily barely escaped a similar fate. Aidan took it in very good spirits though, picked himself up and began again. We hadn't gotten but 50 feet when Lily started hollering because she couldn't get over the un-melted spots and we turned around to watch Aidan take an ugly spill, sandwiching himself between ice and his scooter. With two kids already crying, we quickly realized there was still too much ice and snow covering the path for the kids to ride. After calming down, Aidan started complaining about being cold. That's when I noticed he had failed to put on his jacket and was only wearing a thin and overly-worn Steelers jersey...you know, the kind with little holes in it. I asked Kurt to please bring back the jacket that was in the car when he and his buddy took the scooters and bikes back and the kids and I "eagerly" walked on. (You might be wondering, with that kind of start why we would keep going....surely you know me better by now!)

Ten minutes or so passed before the guys caught back up with us, empty handed.

"Where's the jacket?" I asked.

"He'll be fine," Kurt assured me. (A few minutes later, Kurt gave his jacket to a whining Aidan.)

We were maybe a quarter around the lake at this point. On we walked, sometimes the kids would walk with me, other times with the men but pretty soon, it didn't matter where they were walking; they were all tired and complaining. I attempted to allow them to take turns sitting in front of Liam on the stroller but each time he kicked and screamed, not wanting anyone in front of him. I tried distracting them by finding big sticks for them to carry and quickly realized that was a bad idea as they were practically taking out other walkers as well as each other. I tried to get them to pretend they were ice skating with me which erred on the side of dangerous and even the men tried distracting them with the old hold-hands-and-swing-on-the-count-of-three- trick. Nothing put a permanent kibash on their exhausted whining yet on we walked, through the wilderness, complaining kids and all.

About half way around the lake the kids were begging me to turn back.

"Well, there's no point now. We are half way around," I assured them. "Just keep walking. You'll be fine."

The next mile went something like this:

"Are we there yet?"
"Are we almost there?"
"Why do we have to walk the lake?"
"Are we there YET?"
"You always make us do things we don't want to."
"You said it wasn't much longer."
"Are we EVER going to get there?"
"MOM! It isn't FAIR you make us walk so much!"
"Are you trying to kill us?"
"You told us we'd be there already! YOU LIED!"

With about a quarter of the 2.3 mile lake to go, the two men a good 30 feet or so ahead, I had Madeline balancing on the handlebars of the jogger in which Liam was now crying, Lily (wearing her two unmatched rain boots on the wrong feet) riding my back, and Aidan, having stopped about 10 feet behind, screaming at the top of his lungs:

"MOM! My crack hurts! My CRACK hurts! I can't move any longer because MY CRACK HURTS!"

And I am laughing hysterically, tears rolling down my face, because none of the other dozen walkers passing us at this point know that he is speaking of the cracks on the bottom of his feet from having had some dry skin issues and not the crack that might come to mind otherwise.

In the end, Aidan rode the front of the jogger, enduring Liam's frantic kicking, Madeline stayed on the handlebars and Lily pranced at my side. With the extra weight of Aidan up front, I couldn't turn the stroller so every time we needed to straighten out, the kids would lean one way then the other to get us on track, making the time much more roller-coaster like, and the kids much less miserable. I also used this rather peaceful time to tell them about walking the lake in the summer when we can hunt for treasure with a real (mom-made) map! (Even with the abundance of enthusiasm I mustered, their response told me it might take a little more convincing!)

About ten feet from the car I asked:

"Ok, who wants to go around again?" (hee hee hee....) Shocking, there were no takers.


His Version:
Sunday: Great day out so I took a nice walk with Brooks and the family around the lake. The fresh air, peaceful surroundings, and great conversation were just what I needed to start the week. I wonder why Karen looked so haggard afterward? Strange. The End.


Just goes to show that one person's wilderness is another person's walk in the park.

But hey, at least I know what to give up for Lent next year: walking lakes with four kids attached.


Grrr...(The Laughter Continues)

"You do not know what you are doing to me...now, STOP TURNING PAGES!" -Grover in The Monster at the End of This Book

All right, which one of you failed to knock on the wood like I requested?! Seriously. The only thing I can say is:


Aidan and Kurt were down Monday with what seemed like a very mild performance from our pesky old friend. And no sooner did I write that last sentence than Lily was back in the bathroom needing help cleaning up both ends (as well as the floor and toilet and...) Argh. I can only imagine that the rest is coming. Thus, I have given up the whole superstitious stuff for now and have gone ahead and spoken with thy Holy One upstairs about perhaps visiting another family for His entertainment for a while.

And He said (insert voice of James Earl Jones): "Ha, Ha, Ha, As if!"

And I think I heard Him mumble something about 'what's with all the superstition mumbo jumbo' but then, I was bathing in the last of the Clorox Clean-up so might have misunderstood. And here I was praying for at least partial immunity when I heard of that last plague going around (see former post on The Plague.) In all due respect God, seems like I might as well have been praying for Oreos to rain down from the heavens! (Just guessing, but that's not going to happen either, is it?)

Speaking of heaven, I have come up with another ingenious idea: The Stomach Bug Apron (Ok, so I might need to tweak its name for marketing purposes...how about The Hot Zone Helper? Any better?)

But get this. It would be a full size apron (maybe more like a latex body suit complete with face mask and surgical shoe covers but that is yet to be determined) and would be kind of like the cargo pants of the apron world: a place to hang the bleach spray bottle, another for backup (the Lysol bottle), several pockets for housing rags, gloves and plastic bags, a simple paper towel holder and maybe a special place for a jar of valium and a few phenergan suppositories while we're at it....Comes with an inflatable Biohazard Protection Suit able to withstand Biosafety Level 4...

And if you order now, I will double the offer! That's right, now you can get TWO Hot Zone Helpers for only $19.95. (Must be 18 or older to order. Some restrictions may apply.)

In all seriousness though, did you hear that laughter just now?