I Lost My Sexy

Posted on February 11, 2010. Filed under: children, humor, marriage, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

My swish has gone asway. I lost my sexy and can’t get it back.

It didn’t go away all at once, though. I lost my sexy a little at a time:

  • I lost my sexy when my husband brushed his hand across my hair. Thinking What a loving gesture, I was brought back to reality when he said, “There’s baby cereal in your hair.”
  • I lost my sexy when our standard form of birth control became a child sleeping between us, runny noses, and smelly diapers.
  • I lost my sexy when one of the junior high girls in the dugout asked my daughter if I was her grandma.
  • I lost my sexy when my waistline grew faster than my age.
  • I lost my sexy when I heard boys refer to my daughters as “HOT.”

Is there a lost and found for sexy? Can I take out a classified ad?

LOST: My Sexy, loving companion to middle-aged, graying mother of four. Last seen somewhere between childbirth and teaching teenagers to drive. Used to answer to complements by good looking men. Needs tender loving care, has sentimental value. Fragile: If found, do not expose to elastic waistbands, dirty diapers, hungry children, dirty laundry, or full-length mirrors.

This ad was paid for by the committee to restore my youth. Any contributions would be appreciated.

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Not Me! Strikes Again

Posted on January 25, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

In my book, Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels, I talk about one of my invisible kids, Not Me. Here’s some of the shinnagins little Not has pulled recently:

1.  Not Me! took a gray sweater that the youngest swore was right there LAST MONTH!

2.  When we looked for the sweater, Not Me! had put it right back.

3.  Not Me! failed to do the dishes. I know because when I asked who was supposed to do them today, both of the girls said “Not Me!”

4.  Not Me! left long strands of hair in the bathroom sinks, mascara on the mirrors, towels on the floor and makeup on the vanity. Obviously a well-groomed little tyke, little Not also has psychadelic hair, both blonde and dark brown of various lengths. With clues like this, I think I’m getting closer to identifying just who Not Me is.

5.  After the girls ate the plain ones, Not Me! ate the peanut M & Ms that I bought for dad.

6.  Not Me! piled the garbage sky high in the kitchen, without bothering to take out the trash.

7.  Not Me! continued to put trash on the kitchen counter next to the garbage can because the trash can was over capacity.

8.  Not Me! took my new lip balm and put it in Emily’s bedroom.

9.  Not Me! ate a half gallon of ice cream in two days. How did little Not have room after devouring the M & Ms? Reminder: Not Me may need Jenny Craig intervention soon.

10.  Not Me! broke the retractable eyeliner pencil I bought the day before.

11.  Not Me! signed me out of my email every time I got up from the computer this weekend.

12.  Not Me! shut down the computer, causing me to have to rewrite two chapters of a book and fall behind in my work again.

And now, Not Me! gives me a rest. Little Not quietly disappears from 7:15 to 3:45 Monday through Friday so I can get something done, like wiping out sinks, emptying the trash, loading the dishwasher, stocking the fridge, and whipping out reruns of book chapters.

Thank you, Not Me, for the reprieve.

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Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels

Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: books, children, Parenting | Tags: , , , , |

An excerpt from my book, Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels (published by Urban Edge Publishing)

Chapter 5

CAUTION:

No Means Yes and Yes Means No

Green Means Stop and Red Means Go

When Heather was just old enough to ride a bike, she eventually grew bored with riding up and down the driveway.  We live in rural subdivision which doesn’t have sidewalks, so when Heather asked if she could ride her bike in the road, like her big sister, we said yes.  But, we gave her conditions.

We live in the middle of the block, so we told Heather that she could go to the end of the block and no further. My husband pointed out the stop sign. “When you get to the stop sign, that means you have to stop, turn around and come home.”

We’d stand in the driveway and watch her as she executed her instructions without a flaw.  This safety net soon was given a name.  She could ride her bike as long as she remembered to “stop and go home.”

What do you know?  It worked. We told a child to do something and she listened—not just the first time, but every time!  Before she’d head out of the driveway, we’d ask, “How far can you go?” and she’d respond, “Stop and go home.”

We were sure she understood the rules, but we didn’t know just how literally she took our words until we packed up the family and took a road trip. The front door became a revolving door as we retraced our steps in and out, carrying luggage, pillows, snacks, blankies, dolls, games, and anything else we could find to appease four children stuck in the back seat for eight hours. Then, one last trip in the house to make sure we hadn’t forgotten a child or added one since we packed, and we pulled out of the driveway.

We weren’t two miles from home when we came to a stop sign.  The whining hadn’t yet begun, and the girls were quiet, anxiously anticipating the little vacation we were taking. My husband stopped at the intersection, and Heather must have taken the opportunity to look out the window and take in her surroundings.  The next words out of her mouth broke the silence.

“Oh, no!”

“What’s the matter, Heather?”

“We’re not there yet, and now we have to stop and go home!” she wailed.

What?  It only took a second before we both knew what she meant.  Heather saw the stop sign, and we’d done such a good job manipulating her mind to think that the stop sign at the end of our block meant that she had to go home, that she now thought all stop signs mean you have to “stop and go home!”

Yes, we had manipulated her young, impressionable mind, but it was for her own safety.  Kids, however, have an uncanny knack for manipulating words and sentences for no reason other than to drive their parents past the stop sign and into the brink of insanity.

It’s called the “No Means Yes and Yes Means No Game.”  Now, any child who plays this game is not a naïve, innocent dimpled darling, but rather a scheming and cunning little shyster intent on getting their way, thinking they can outsmart their parents by reversing the meaning of two simple, but very important, words. If there was a Heisman Trophy for little manipulators, I know four girls who deserve serious consideration for the title.

The No Means Yes and Yes Means No Game is often played in the car, while the mother is driving and being driven crazy. 

“Mom, can we go to McDonald’s!”

“Mom, I want to go to the park.”

“Mom, can we have ice cream?”

“Mom, can I have a puppy?” “Mom, can I have a bird?” “Mom, can I have a kitty?” and “Mom, can I have a white rat?”

No, No, No, and NO!  Managing to answer all their questions in under two seconds, all that was left was the whining and the begging.

Until one of the little darlings got the bright idea that it was time to play the No Means Yes and Yes Means No Game.  The game is remarkably easy to play and even the youngest catches on fairly quickly. 

“Mom, can I get my ears pierced?”

Not one to mince words, I got to the answer right away, “No.”

“I can!”

“No, I said you can’t.”

“No means yes and yes means no.”

Oh, no—not this game.  The game that tests every parent’s patience as they try to figure out how to out manipulate the pros.  This is the one game that mom and dad cannot win.  We’re doomed from the start, set up by our own little offspring.

Well, the only thing they didn’t figure out was that no could mean yes all they wanted, but it wasn’t going to change my mind—it was only going to make me lose my mind. Children can play this game for hours on end without tiring, and it seems that the more frustrated and irritated mom or dad get, the more intensely they strive to push them over the brink.

But, they don’t know one little thing.  Parents have a trump card.  For every no means yes and yes means no, we have an ace in the hole which is guaranteed to get on their nerves as much as, if not more so, than their little game.

It’s called “We’ll see.”  Far better than yes or no, we’ll see can postpone an answer until your little one gets married, and then it can become somebody else’s problem. 

Moms and dads have to say no often, but there’s nothing worse than the preplanned whining and begging which strategically begins with no and doesn’t stop until that no becomes a yes.  Avoiding this situation is your best bet, and we’ll see is a parent’s secret weapon.

The wonderful part is that, for a long time, they actually believe “we’ll see” is a “maybe.”  Well, it’s not.  If I meant maybe, I would have said it.  Instead, I say “we’ll see,” which basically means that I don’t want to tell you no right now and I’m in no mood to listen to any pleading or crying. 

We’ll see works for quite a while before they catch on.  They’re smart like that.  Suddenly, one day you pull out the “we’ll see” response and you’ll hear them grumble, “Great, that means no.”  Then, you try to save face because you like “we’ll see” and you want it to work for a long time to come, so you reply that it doesn’t mean no—yet. 

I tried that and our girls chose that moment to reveal their photogenic memory.  They recalled each and every time I said “we’ll see” from the time they wanted the shiny red shoes, not the black ones, to the time they asked for a Playstation III.  They pointed out that they didn’t get a hamster or a pony and that we didn’t take them out to eat when they asked on February 2, 1997. 

They had my number and had figured me out.  But, that didn’t stop me, and I continue to fall back on “we’ll see” at every opportune moment.  While it certainly doesn’t work like it used to, I now am the one who gets a certain amount of pleasure watching them cringe the same way they made me cringe when they twisted the words that came out of my mouth. As they say for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

No might mean yes, but we’ll see always means no, and paybacks—they’re always priceless.

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Another Symptom of Peanut Allergies

Posted on January 8, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Another symptom of peanut allergies

My neice just turned one. Her mom knows not to give peanuts or peanut butter to a child under the age of two, but yet she found out that her child is allergic to peanuts in another way.

As mom was eating a peanut butter sandwich, she reached across to wipe something off the baby’s cheek. Within minutes, the spot was a flaming red and swollen mark on the child’s face. Quickly, she washed it with soap and water, and watched it closely. The washing did the trick and it started to fade and return to normal little by little til it was gone.

But yet, it troubled her. Why did her daughter’s skin react that way? She then realized that she had a peanut butter sandwich and must have brushed it along her cheek. To be safe, rather than sorry, she asked their doctor who suggested that she get the baby in for allergy testing.

She did, and the tests revealed that the baby is allergic to peanuts! We all know that this is a life-threatening allergy and one parents must be very attentive to. But who knew that merely having peanut butter on the skin can produce an allergic reaction?

I’m sharing this in the hopes that another mom or dad might find the information useful. Sometimes, the skin tells you more than you think. Pay attention; it might be telling you something you need to know.

Peanuts on the skin can produce an allergic reaction. If they do, follow up and get your child tested right away!

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Open Letter to My Son in Law

Posted on October 24, 2009. Filed under: books, children | Tags: , , , , |

Dear Son in Law,

That sounds strange. I’ve never had a son in law. It’s new; it’s nice. I had four daughters and haven’t had the pleasure of having a boy grow up in our home. So, welcome and bear with me as I get used to it.

I never thought of myself as a mother in law, you know, the one member of the family who has historically gotten a bad rap and been the butt of many a bad joke. So, I’m going to start out differently. I’m going to be your friend and let you in on a few things that just might make your life a little easier. Now, that’s the kind of mother in law you wanted, right?

So here goes. I’ve compiled some survival tips for you. You see, you married her, but I made her. I’ve shared parts of her multi-dimensional personality in my book, but there’s more.

1.  She owns the phrase “Otay Pine” and tends to use it when she unhappily resigns herself to the fact that she’s not going to get her way. Your first order of business should be self preservation. Duck when you hear those two words, as Otay Pine has been known to be followed by flying bottles which don’t have cocoa in them.

2.  She has a shoe fettish. Actually, she has a foot fettish and a shoe fettish, but for now, we’ll focus on the shoes. I know that you’re already aware of this and aren’t happy with the fact that she hoards shoes like she’s afraid that shoe factories are a dying entity. Because I sympathize with you and your bursting closets, I want to share a tip that just might work. Always go shopping with her. While you’re distracting her with other awesome things that she just-has-to-have, slyly make your way to the shoe department and hide every pair of size tens. Be on the safe side and add the nine and a halfs to that stockpile. Pay the shoe attendant $10 to say “We don’t have that in your size.”  Be a good guy and teach the shoe attendant the fine art of ducking if your wife responds with “Otay Pine.”

3. When she gets that high-pitched, fast talking voice, go missing in action. Go to work. Go to the dentist. Go somewhere, anywhere and fast. When you return, make sure you have a new pair of shoes in your arms. I know that’s contrary to #2, but drastic times call for drastic measures.

4.  She likes to be in charge and be pampered at the same time. Now, I know that balancing those two things is very delicate and few can pull it off. She has it down to an art. Sargeant Carter is a diva. Give in to the small stuff so you can stick to your guns on the ones that really count.  Two word responses usually work well, “Yes dear,” “Otay pine,” and “hell no.”

Those are just a few things that I never got a chance to tell you. You have now been forewarned. But before I close, I want to forewarn you of one more thing. She’s worth every bit of it. Take good care of her.

Love,

Your mother in law

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I Love You Enough to Let You Hate Me

Posted on August 19, 2009. Filed under: Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

When our daughters were little, we used to play the “How Much Do You Love Me” game. Spreading our arms wide, we’d say, “I love you soooo big!” Sam always had a cute way of saying it–“I love you huggy much and sweet.” Those were the cute days, when love was enough to satisfy almost everything, except for their ferocious appetites, that is.

Now that they’re older, we say ‘I love you’ differently. A text message Luv u or a quick Love you – Love you, too, as the girls are flying out the door. But once in a while, I find it necessary to say I love you a little differently.  Today is one of those days, and today this is how I’m telling my daughters that I do, indeed, love them.

Sometimes when I say no, it’s because I love you. Really.

Sometimes when I say yes, it’s also because I love you.

Sometimes I let you spread your wings and fly, visiting friends and spending the night with them. I know you need friends and fun, and I say yes because I love you.

But when you’re gone for three days and nights, I’ll yank you right back, just like a momma bear would do. So, fly, but always know that when you fly too far, I’ll clip your wings.  Why? Because I love you.

I got you a cell phone because I love you. I know, everyone has one. But I love you enough to check in with you and make sure you’re okay. I love you enough to encourage you to check in with me and let me know you’re okay. But when that phone is at somebody else’s house on a charger and I can’t reach you, I love you enough to take it away. You don’t get the awesome privilege of texting your friends 24/7 if you don’t respond to me.

As I have with every one of you, I love you enough that I will not – ever- let you drive to school. Oh, I know that you think I hate you because of that, but it’s 100% based on love. I’ve attended the wakes of too many teenagers who never made it to school or home from school on that same route.

So, while you’re sitting here in our boring house tonight hating me because you want to spend the fourth night away from home, there are some things you need to know. When you push, I’ll pull. When you want more freedom, I might impose more limitations.

You see, everything is great – in moderation. Friends are wonderful, but they aren’t eveything. You have a family, too. We also need you. You also need us, though you don’t always know it. You need rules, restrictions, and reminders. You need to learn respect and gain the values you’ll need when you don’t need me anymore.

The only thing that doesn’t require moderation is love.  Whether it’s SO BIG or huggy much and sweet, there’s always room for more.

Sometimes, the greatest way to show that love is provide limits, even though I know that, right now, you’ll hate me for it.

I love you enough to let you hate me.

Someday, I hope you’ll thank me for loving you that much.

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I’m Touched

Posted on August 14, 2009. Filed under: Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Oh, it has been a whirlwind of weeks, one with many ups and a few downs.

I’ve been working on marketing my book, but as in life, the best of all plans sometimes gets sidelined. And the sending off of our second daughter to college and getting another ready for marriage were the reasons for it.

On Monday, we addressed, stuffed, and mailed 159 wedding invitations. Tuesday, I picked 6 lbs. of green beans. Wednesday, we took Heather off to college.

If you’ve never sent a child off to college, I can tell you it’s a major endeavor. Buying new bedding, towels, robes, shower kaddies, and enough water bottles and snacks to feed our family of six for two weeks takes a lot out of you. Running around town, picking up immunization records, signing into the federal loan site 26 times to verify or print out the latest urgent, priority email, and still trying to work have left me zapped. Zipped and zapped, in fact.

There was no time for emotion, just a to-do list that grew, instead of getting smaller. Then, after packing everything, off we went, turning the page in our book as yet another child moved on into the big, wide world that didn’t include us. After standing in line, pushing, pulling, dragging, and kicking (yes) her belongings foot by foot for a good mile, we finally got to the elevators, which naturally don’t go to every floor – just every 3rd floor of the dorm. So, we hauled it all off the moving box and into the hall, where we took turns carrying everything up the stairs to the next floor, where her new room waited.

Hot, tired, and irritated, those were my emotions. Cool down time meant lunch, a chance to relax and refuel. Then, came the moment, saying goodbye. Along with the moment came the tears – mine, not hers. They started at around 3 PM and to tell the truth haven’t quite ended.

And she’ll be back today…for her big sister’s wedding shower tonight – I did say it’s been a busy week, right?

But it won’t be the same. Never. Again. We’ve turned the page, and she’ll never be here EVERY morning, having a cup of coffee with me, telling me what she needs me to do, or telling me what she wants to do. It’s changed. It’s scheduled now, and it’s intermittent. She’ll change, too. I know I already have.

The melancholy that struck me is backed up by the double whammy of a family bridal shower tonight for our oldest. Today, she does a trial hairstyle for her wedding day, gets fitted for her dress, orders her veil, and then off tonight we go to her shower.

And I have to come to grips with the fact that they’re leaving. Maybe they’re already gone, I’m not sure. But there’s a finality that was never there before that comes to me now, triggering stronger emotions than I thought. It is the price I pay for having their love and laughter for 18 plus years.

It’s stirred memories of their younger days – running in and out of the house, needing me by their sides, having to be closely watched at all times as they learned new things.  For some reason, one memory ran through my mind. Meridith was two, maybe three, years old. She was outside with her dad, and I was in the house. Dad went around to the back yard for a minute, and Meridith didn’t follow. She walked across the neighbor’s yard, and he came to the door to let me know.

“Patti, your little girl, Big Time, I think you call her, just walked across my yard, you better catch her.”  By the time I got out there, her dad already had caught up with her, so she was okay – and yes, we called her Big Time, an affectionate name because everything she did or felt was at maximum levels.

It occurred to me when I remembered this, but not when it happened, that it’s strange – unfortunate, really – that the people we trust with our children are afraid to go near them. He could have scooped her up and brought her to the door, but society tells us it’s wrong to touch another person’s child. Ironic though, isn’t it, that the people we don’t trust are the ones who aren’t afraid to go near our children.

So, now that the two oldest are gone or leaving, and yes, I’m crying again, I can only hope that people I trust aren’t afraid to touch them, and the people I don’t trust don’t get close enough to try.

I’m here, girls, always here. Ready to touch you whenever you need me.

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Playing Dress Up

Posted on June 22, 2009. Filed under: Parenting | Tags: , , , , , |

When my four daughters were younger, their grandma kept a large bin full of dress-up clothes–prom dresses and bridesmaid gowns she’d purchased from garage sales over the years. With many granddaughters, the dress-up store in grandma’s basement was a crowd favorite, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed putting on fancy dresses and feather boas, with mardi gras necklaces and high heels.

Now, they’ve grown up, and they no longer play “dress up,” but do the real thing. Pretty, glittery, shiny, and flowing Homecoming, Winter Ball, and Prom dresses abound the closets which once held a toy box full of dolls and balls. It’s special, seeing them in glamorous dresses instead of blue jeans and tee shirts is spectacular. But, I’m not quite ready for the ultimate daughter dress up of all time.

Our oldest is getting married. Her wedding dress is all picked out, and she’s naturally a vision of beauty in white. Teary eyed and all, I watched her try on dress after dress, and like they say, when you put on the “right” dress, you know it right away. Then, her three sisters all tried on bridesmaid dresses, and they, too, were just beautiful in their gowns. They finished with their fitting and looked over at me. “Mom, it’s your turn. You have to have a dress, too.”

Mother of the bride. I never thought of myself as a mother of the bride. I’ve always been the bride here at our home. Well, the bride, the mom, the cook, the nurse, the laundress, the chauffeur and the maid, but never the mother of the bride. And on September 26th, I’ll have to sit and watch our four growing or grown daughters in their crowning beauty as they stand at the front of the church for what is the biggest day in our family’s life. It’s the first time that I won’t be in charge, at the head of the program…I’ll be sitting back and watching it unfold, taking a new role, the mother of the bride.

But, I need a dress – a dress appropriate for a mother. One that still has a hint of the style and class I had when my waistline was pre-children, but one that also says I’m Old Enough to Have a Daughter Who Is Old Enough to Get Married. The dress must depict the style of the wedding, but also be just enough different that it isn’t confused with the wedding party. It must be tailored and expensive, yet, understated enough that it blends in so it doesn’t compete with the bride and her three sisters. It must say that this is the final chapter in my role of raising Sam, and acknowledge that there are still three books yet to finish. The perfect dress must say that I’m proud, yet be forgiving enough to still look elegant when I’m crying. And, the only head it must turn is that of my husband.

Alfred Angelo, can you design a dress for a slightly middle-aged, proud mother, that fits the description? Because I can’t seem to find one that is special enough for the occasion.

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