Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unconventional thanks

I may be a housewife and stay at home mom, but that's where my conventional life stops.  I have never been a cookie cutter gal, and I hope I never am.  I change hair colors every month, I don't talk baby-talk to my kids, and if I could only pick one genre of book to read the rest of my life, it would be true crime.  Yeah, it's a little weird.

So you'll understand why my thankful post isn't going to be about the normal stuff.  Of course I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my home, my health, and all of the amazing intangibles in my life.  But I'm also selfishly thankful for lots of things that make my life easier or more fun.  Or maybe I'm just not in a shlocky frame of mind tonight; I don't know.

So here is my list of top five things for which I am thankful this holiday season.

1.  The Otterbox
I am really hard on electronics.  Actually, that's an understatement.  I lose them; I break them; I mangle them; I render them completely useless.  I'm on my third iPhone: I swear I don't know what happened to the first two.  When Trevor brought home the third phone for me, he also brought home an Otterbox case and suggested demanded that I use it.  It's big, bulky, black, and ugly, but it does the job.  So far, nothing has happened to my phone, and I guarantee the Otterbox is to thank.  I do have the pink version on my Amazon wish list, though, just in case anyone wondered.

2.  Earth Balance
I have become a master at substituting dairy- and egg-free ingredients in my cooking and baking.  For a while, butter was an issue, though.  I found a fantastic vegan margarine that comes in sticks as well as in spreadable form.  It's a totally random thing to be thankful for but now I can cook and bake without having to freak out too much.  And it's really delicious.  I made chocolate chip cookies for Dallas's class a few weeks ago, and no one could tell the difference.  Even the teachers asked me for the recipe after they tasted the cookies.  So, rock on, Earth Balance!  Thanks for making my life easier.  

3.  The Ford Flex
So this one is completely vain: I recognize that.  But for quite a while, I was a mini-van mama.  No big deal as a car is pretty much just transportation, but sometimes driving the brown Quest was a little demoralizing.  I lucked into a maroon Ford Flex, and I love it.  It's hip, it's roomy, it's fun, and it's not a mini-van.  (What?) I don't have the automatic sliding doors anymore, but I do have Sirius Satellite Radio.  Trust me, the trade was worth it.

4.  The Kindle
I never, ever, EVER thought I would be such a huge Kindle fan.  Trevor has had his for quite a while, and he loves it.  I'm pretty old-school, and I love the feel and smell of books.  However, for my birthday a few weeks ago, Trevor got me a Kindle, and now I'm a new woman.  I mean, I'm never giving up paper books, but the Kindle is pretty darn awesome.  I can get books anytime I want, which is fiscally dangerous but totally cool.  I can even check out ebooks from the library.  The selection isn't the best, but it's free and easy.  Plus, there are some awesome games on the Kindle.  I'm completely obsessed with Grid Detective; if you have a Kindle, check it out.  I would be happy to get Kindle gift cards for every occasion for the rest of my life.  And a new Otterbox.  Pink.

5.  DVR versus Magic Shell
This is a hard call for me.  On one hand, the DVR is incredible.  I can record shows at 3:00 AM and watch them whenever I want.  I can record a series by touching a few buttons.  Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the Real Housewives franchises on Bravo, but I can record all of them without even thinking.  (And watch them without thinking, too.  Zing!)   I can pause recorded shows or even live TV when Dallas comes out of his room at bedtime for the seventeenth time at night or if I need to get a drink.  Brilliant, no?  On the other hand, there's Magic Shell.  You pour it over ice cream and it becomes a hard shell of tasty goodness.  Can there really be anything better?  Maybe watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and pausing it to dish up some Magic Shell?  Winner, winner.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

'Tis the season...

Yup, it's holiday time.  We're not quite to Thanksgiving, and the Christmas decorations are going up.  The Christmas music is in the stores, and I have even seen some Christmas trees up along our street.  But for me, right around the beginning of November doesn't signify holidays.  No, no.  Chez Wells, November always seems to begin the season of sickness.

With two kids in preschool, we definitely get our fair share of germs.  And despite the hand-washing and Lysol applications to every surface in the house, those germs eventually make everyone sick.  We seem to stay sick, too, until about May.  And by "we", I mean me, too.  That's about the only downside to preschool that I can see.  So far, Lottie has had two or three colds and strep throat.  Dallas, not to be out-sicked, has also had two or three colds, a double ear infection, and two cases of croup.  Winning!

Right now both kids are on antibiotics.  Lottie is almost finished with her ten day regimen, and Dallas has just started his.  By the time next week rolls around, I have a feeling that Lottie will be back on meds again because that's just the way it goes.

I decided to change the lyrics of one of my favorite Christmas songs to reflect my feelings about the season.

I'm dreaming of a well Christmas
Just like the one we've never had
Where the noses don't glisten
And mothers don't listen
To hear coughing in the night

I'm dreaming of a well Christmas
Without Amoxicillan
Without tissues, cough drops or phlegm
And no fevers or glassy eyes.

I'm dreaming of a well Christmas
With kids who just won't cough and sneeze
May the days be sunny and bright
And may all our Christmases be without blight

Happy holidays, y'all!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Attack of the clones

It's annoying to be compared to other people, right?  But that's human nature.  I think we compare people as sort of a comfort factor, like, "Hey, she reminds me of my favorite cousin in Paducah!  Awesome!"  Or even, "Gee, that guy totally wears his hair like my douchey-ex-boyfriend.  I'm gonna steer clear."   I think I'm always looking at Lottie and Dallas and wondering who they're going to be when they're older, and I tend to compare them to two of my favorite people.

(Apparently I need to get a newer picture of the cousins together.)

Lottie is a lot like my niece, Kate.  As a little girl, Kate was always...busy.  I don't remember a time when she wasn't moving: running, leaping, dancing, playing.  Her mind was constantly working, and she always had something going on.  She was a big fan of putting on "shows" in the backyard and making her younger brother be a part of them, sometimes against his will.  Lottie is exactly the same way.  From the minute she wakes up in the morning until the minute she falls asleep, her head is spinning with stuff.  She climbs into our bed in the morning ready to make believe that the bed is a boat, and we're surrounded by sharks.  She plays dress-up before she even gets ready for school, which does not leave a lot of time for breakfast.  But, like Kate, Lottie basically eats to live.  Her days are filled with stories, games, thoughts, plans, and dreams.  She's very physical: she likes to practice ballet, run, jump, slide, and dance.  Man, that kid likes to dance.  Our house has been the scene of many a dance party, especially on rainy days.  Also like Kate, Lottie tends to wander a bit during conversations.  I remember being at dinner with my whole family discussing an upcoming vacation to Disney World.  We all knew it was coming, but Kate seemed stunned.  She swore that no one ever told her we were going though we all knew that wasn't true.  Lottie tends to zone out like that as well.  For example, I can send her into her room for a pair of socks only to have her return twenty minutes later carrying a stuffed animal.  Kate loves to be in the center of the action, and Lottie wakes up every day wondering where the party is.  Both girls are kind, funny, extroverted, whip-smart, and beautiful inside and out.  They're both wonderful big sisters, too.

Dylan, my fantastic nephew, has always been a sweet boy.  (Sorry, Dyl.  I hope that's not embarrassing.) From the time he was little, he was always snuggly, serious, and sensible.  He has always known when he needs time alone to recharge himself, and I have always admired that quality.  Dallas is the same way.  Sometimes when Lottie's constant bossy prattle gets to him, he simply gets up and walks away.  (Then again, sometimes he bites her, but that's another story.)  But Dallas also understands the need for solitude from time to time, something that his sister doesn't ever feel.  Another thing that the boys have in common is the need for food.  When Dylan was little, he wouldn't realize he was hungry until it was too late.  By the time he got to that point, he would claim he wasn't hungry, and we would all look at each other in horror.  There would be a frantic search for a snack and then the push to get Dylan to eat it.  After one bite, he was always back to himself, but before the food, watch out.  Dallas tends to get a wee bit insanely cranky if he hasn't eaten.  There have been times that I have literally forced food into his mouth and ordered him to chew and swallow.  Cruel?  Maybe.  Necessary.  Absolutely.  I have learned in three short years to feed Dal often because one missed snack could be a bad, bad thing.  Both boys also have food allergies.  Dylan is allergic to tree nuts, and Dallas is allergic to dairy and eggs.  Dylan's allergy hasn't stopped him from doing anything, and I take comfort in that for Dallas's sake.  The boys are handsome, introspective, brilliant, kind, and amazing younger brothers.

One of my greatest hopes is that Lottie and Dallas turn out like Kate and Dylan.  Not only are Kate and Dylan superlative human beings, but they genuinely like each other.  They enjoy spending time together, and their affection for one another isn't forced.  I thought about their relationship this afternoon
while Lottie and Dallas were having a snack.  Both kids had bowls of popcorn, and, of course, Dallas hoovered his up in about five minutes.  He held his bowl up without looking at me and sang, "More popcorn!"  Before I could even open my mouth to respond, Lottie picked up her mostly-full bowl, walked over, and put half of her popcorn into Dallas's bowl.  When I told her that I would proud that she shared without even being asked, she just smiled and said, "That's what best friends are for, Mama."  My heart about exploded.  Best friends.   They're already on their way to becoming like their cousins, and that makes me smile.  If Trevor and I can do half as well raising Lottie and Dallas as my brother, Matt, and my sister-in-law, Kaye, have done with Kate and Dylan, then we're going to have some pretty awesome kids.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Warning: A Rant

Even though I tend to avoid the news, I don't live under a rock.  I would have to be completely in LaLa Land to have not heard anything about the horrible abuse that took place against innocent children at Penn State.  The whole story is sickening and horrifying on so many levels, and I truly hope that the victims in this case - the children - are not forgotten.  THEY are the true victims here: not Graham Spanier, not Michael McQueary, and certainly not Joe Paterno.

I don't follow college football; I find it tedious and a complete waste of my time.  Actually, I don't follow a lot of sports.  Over the years, I have become pretty disillusioned with the way many Americans view sports figures as golden gods.  I don't know any professional or collegiate athletes personally, but I can guarantee that they're all just normal human beings.  (Of course, that does not include my niece, Kate, who will be playing volleyball at Purdue next year.  She is no mere mortal.)  These are men and women who get paid disgusting amounts of money to PLAY GAMES for a living.  Sure, they provide people with entertainment, and relaxing is definitely an important part of life.  But, all in all, sports are games, pure and simple.  I can appreciate that professional sports employ a lot of people and feed a lot of families, but why do so many people see athletes as special beings?  (Hello, NBA players and owners.  I'm talking to you.)

When did this happen in our country?  When did it become acceptable for athletes to be treated as if they're larger than life?  When did it become okay for athletes to act like spoiled brats?  And when did it become de rigueur to excuse athletes or anyone associated with athletics from their bad behavior?  If Jerry Sandusky had been in almost any other profession, he would have been in prison faster than he could blink.  Obviously, his case takes it to the extreme, but other athletes or figures in the athletic world have been down a road that showcases their bad behavior.  Tiger Woods, anyone?  Sure, the public was disgusted by him for a while, but now he's back.  Ben Roethlisberger?  Yep, he's still playing.  Michael Vick?  Uh huh.  He's around, too.  And, apparently, for a long time, Jerry Sandusky was protected by his posse so that his despicable actions didn't spoil the Penn State football program.  Bravo.

Why do we accept this?  Why is this okay?  Certainly sports can give a sense of community, of trust, of purpose.  For some kids, sports may be the only family they have.  And that's exactly why we shouldn't allow this type of hero-worship to continue.  In the grand scheme of life, does it really matter if your favorite football team has a winning record?  Do you really care if you get to watch professional basketball?  If it does or if you do, sorry.  Maybe you could channel some of that energy to adoring people who really make a difference: teachers, soldiers, therapists, police officers, firefighters, human rights activists.  Let's stop giving the power to the people who play games for a living and the people who surround them.  Cheating on your wife isn't a game. Sexual assault isn't a game.  Making two dogs fight to the death isn't a game.  Taking away childhood and innocence isn't a game; it's a disgrace and we should be better than this.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Such strange things

When I found out I was pregnant with Lottie, there were lots of things I swore I would never do as a parent.  I wouldn’t get angry, I wouldn’t feed her any junk food, I wouldn’t let her watch television, etc.  Most of what I promised I wouldn’t do went out the window pretty quickly.  I mean, I figured out within a pretty short time that parents have to do whatever it takes to get through the day sometimes.  One thing I didn’t count on was the weird, odd, and hilarious utterances that would come out of my mouth as a mom. 

The other night, I was reading to Dallas before bedtime.  As of late, Dallas’s nighttime routine involves going to bed with his shoes on while clutching a sword in one hand and a hook in another.  In the middle of a book, I noticed Dallas slowly reaching for his face with his hook.  As I watched in horror, the hook went straight for his nose.  “Dallas!  Don’t pick your nose with your hook!”  And if that’s not weird enough, two minutes later I had to say, “Dallas!  Don’t pick MY nose with your hook!” 

When I was planning all my supermom tricks while I was pregnant, I never once thought about how I would deal with nudity.   Mind out of the gutter, people.  Not MY nudity, the kids’ nudity.  Dallas prefers to be fully dressed at all times, preferably like a pirate, but Lottie would be all nude, all the time if I would let her.  She tends to run around the house in just her underwear.  While it was cute when she was two years old, it’s not so cute now that she’s almost five.  (By the way, when did that happen???)  About two weeks ago, she was flitting around the house in her Tinkerbell underpants when the doorbell rang.  A normal person would think, “Gee, someone is ringing our doorbell.  Perhaps I should hide myself or put on some clothes.”  But not my girl.  She yelled, “THE DOORBELL!” and sprinted to the front door.  I ran down the hall after her shouting, “Lottie, answering the door in your underwear is totally not cool!” 

And when both kids are playing together, there are usually lots of opportunities for me to get in some zingers.  Lottie recently went through a rather bizarre licking stage.  Instead of kisses, Trevor and I got good night licks.  Needless to say, that phase didn’t last very long because it was gross.  But I lost count of the number of times that I had to say, “Lottie, please stop licking your brother’s head!” 

Just this morning, I had to have a stern talk with Dallas about spitting.  “I know you’re pretending like you’re a bloody skull, Dal, but you can’t spit on Lottie’s head and tell her you’re bleeding on her.  That’s nasty, buddy.” 

What can I say?  My conversations with the kids go from serious to funny to exasperating to hilarious.  One thing they never are is boring.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sweet November

I adore November.  It's my birthday month (yay!), Thanksgiving, the beginning of winter in my mind, and, most importantly, November signifies that Halloween is over.  I'm not a complete humbug, but Halloween is not my favorite occasion.  I can't even really call it a holiday because it's not something I want to celebrate.  I have no beef with the whole idea of Halloween; I enjoy being freaked out just as much as the next gal.  But what I cannot stand is the hype and the candy.  Well, I personally love the candy, but I don't love what the candy does to my kids.  And when did Halloween start becoming like Christmas?  School parties, greeting cards,'s all too much.

This Halloween has been especially trying for me.  Dallas is in a stage where he is scared of pretty much everything.  The Halloween decorations all over our neighborhood didn't help anything.  A house down the street from us had two blowup Halloween decorations in the yard: a giant pirate ship manned by skeletons and a giant treasure chest with a skeleton that popped out like a jack-in-the-box.  Dallas was so freaked by the whole scene that I have spent the last week driving out of my way just so we don't have to pass "the chest guy" in the car.  The chest guy has haunted my poor boy's days and nights.  He talks about the chest guy all the time.  Seriously, all day.  If he hates the darn thing so much, why does he play it over and over in his head?  Who knows.

Surprisingly, Halloween night went pretty well.  It started off a bit bumpy because Lottie refused to eat dinner due to sheer and utter excitement.  She couldn't focus on anything other than the promise of trick-or-treating.  The lack of food in her system caused a few meltdowns before her costume was even on.  Thankfully, she was able to pull it together and get her Jessie groove back.  Dallas got dressed with no problem, unless you count the fact that he changed his mind about his costume on an hourly basis.  Fireman.  Pirate.  Fireman.  Pirate.  Pirate, for sure.  Definitely fireman.  He finally picked pirate, and he was ready to go with his hook and sword.

We trolled our street as it started to get dark outside.  At first, Lottie wanted either Trevor or me to go up to the doors with her, but that ended quickly.  She was a real pro, striding confidently from house to house with one mission on her mind: more candy.  She chastised the rest of us for not walking fast enough.  "Quickly, you guys!  Quickly!"  She was so grown-up: confident and independent.  It was so gratifying and heartbreaking all at the same time.  Dallas was a little more timid, but he was beyond sweet.  He very politely spoke to everyone we saw, he thanked the people who gave him candy, and he even told most of them he'd see them again soon.  He was quick to reassure people who greeted him as if he were a pirate, "I'm just pretending.  It's really me, Dallas!"  He begged to go to a house that had an inflatable haunted house in front of it: the whole love/hate thing rearing its ugly head.  I eventually agreed to take him to see the spooky house, and he just stood in front of it for a long time.  He didn't want to walk through the inflatable, so we walked around it together.  I was proud of his attempt at bravery even though it must have cost him dearly to be within two feet of something that scared him so much.

The evening started off bumpy and ended with two tired kids who were past their bedtimes.  But they had fun, and that's all that really matters.  Of course, now we have to deal with the loads and loads of candy, but that's another blog...