Who's Thirty-Two?

Thirty-two years ago today, I was busy squeezing through my mother's nether-regions (maybe I should send her an apology card). Actually I like to think of myself as "bursting grandly forth into the world" instead of "squeezing" ... but tomato, tomah-to.  Any way you slice it, it's my birthday and I'm 32 now. Which is good because I was totally tired of being thirty-one. Because when you look as vibrant and youthful as I do,* people get confused and I was sick of being all, "No no, I don't sell purses, thirty-one is my age."

*This actually may be a slight exaggeration since I did recently purchase alcohol without even being carded. Boo hiss.

Anyway, seeing as I'm kinda old-ish now, I'm going to start a new tradition. Every year on my birthday, I'm going to have a picture taken of my hands. Un-retouched, just as they are. Then in like forty years I'll get one of my tech-savvy grandchildren to make it into a time-lapsed video showing the age. With each photo, I'm going to write a little description of what my hands have been busy doing that year.

So here goes: year one. (Or year thirty-two, whichever.)

These are my hands today, at thirty-two years old. See the chipping DIY manicure? That's the story of my life. I try my best to keep things - including my nails - looking decent, but it's next to impossible sometimes. After all, I'm responsible for the care and keeping of a seven-year-old, a four-year-old, an almost-three-year-old, and a 12-week-old. And a husband. That's a lot of laundry, a lot of butt wiping (though thankfully not the husband's), a lot of dishes. 

Right now in my life, these hands are helping me teach Zumba. They clap and wave and give pats on the back and encourage.

These hands are bathing three little boys who can still fit into the same bathtub, though not for much longer.

These hands are gripping the steering wheel of the minivan as I chauffeur my kids back and forth in the endless cycle of school obligations and doctor's appointments and extracurriculars.

These hands are holding the hands of a husband who, after almost fifteen years together, I'm still crazy about. Even if he does work too much at this point.

These hands are constantly cooking, cleaning, doing the thankless tasks that moms do to help keep our house feeling like a home.

These hands are clicking away on the laptop keyboard, though more in a personal capacity (blogging) than professional right now (working), which bugs me.

These hands are soothing a three-month-old baby, and changing tiny diapers, for the very last time. And when I think of it like that, it kinda makes me want to cry.

No time or expendable income for a professional manicure. It wouldn't stay intact for long, anyway. But that's okay, because this season of my life is more precious to me than having nice nails.

So there you have it. The first installment of my new yearly tradition. Be sure to check back in forty years for the time-lapse video!

I Plead the Fifth (to Go Away!)

My children have never been accused of being "normal" ... but for the past couple of days, both Cameron and Coby have been as normal as they ever hope to be. Except for this.

Yep. A heinous-looking rash. All over their arms, a little bit on their legs, some on their chests and backs, and some on their cheeks. Whee!!

In case you're wondering, it's called fifth disease. Sometimes it starts out with mild flu-like symptoms, but in many cases there are zero symptoms until the rash appears - which was the case with my kids (thank goodness). Once the rash appears, they're no longer contagious ... but that's ironic because when the rash appears is exactly when they look like *insert demonic voice here* FESTERING HARBINGERS of DEATH!!!!!!

And that's the bad part. Unless I get T-shirts printed up that say, "Don't worry, they're not contagious, it's just a harmless rash," our lives pretty much have to be on hold. Because despite the fact that they are otherwise as normal as can be - no fevers, no runny noses, no itching, acting like their usual rambunctious selves - they look like they could infect anyone within a five-mile radius.

I didn't send Cameron to preschool this morning, because I didn't want any of the other parents to bristle with indignity that I sent my son to school with this horrible rash and are putting all the other kids at risk and OMG WTF BBQ! But seriously, he's fine as feathers. He just doesn't look that way.

Same with Coby ...

Okay, so maybe this isn't the best picture to illustrate "normal."

We've seen fifth disease around this joint before, and the rash has cleared up within a few days (knock on wood!). But sometimes it can hang around for weeks. Let's hope this time it goes away soon.

Because we've got stuff to do, and I'd rather not look like my kids are infecting the entire town in order to do it.

PS - Remember when I had the giveaway from eShakti? Even if you didn't win, you can use this code → RZ23TXN to get 10% off your custom clothing order! It's good until August 31st so go do some shopping, y'all!

The Restaurant Radar

And now for your regularly scheduled blog post ... :)

My husband, Curtis, has a problem. It's an urge he can't seem to fight.

I can tell when it's overtaking him; his eyes glaze over, and even though he's looking at me, I can tell he's not really looking at me. 

Curtis is ... a restaurant eavesdropper.

It drives me crazy, y'all. 

We rarely go out to dinner because it's expensive to feed our hungry little brood who now insist on getting kids' meals instead of eating off our plates. And it's even more rare that we get to go out to eat by ourselves. But either way, kids or no kids, I like to enjoy the experience. And that means having a nice, relaxed chat with our meal.

I can always guarantee that when we go out, Curtis will be totally focused on the conversation. Problem is, it's never our conversation. The last time we were at a restaurant, he started answering me with distracted nods and polite "Mm-hm"s and I knew that he was eavesdropping on the table behind me.

"Curtis," I hissed. He knew he'd been busted.

"Sorry, sorry," he whispered. "It's just that - this guy with the mohawk at the table behind you, he's being racist."

I rolled my eyes because frankly, I don't care if the dude is singing opera at his table - it's his table and his conversation and his bidness. And I mean, hello, I was surely talking about something super-important like the fact that tomorrow was garbage day or how Cameron keeps tying his shoelaces into knots. Why would you need to look elsewhere when you've got such vibrant and engaging conversation at your own table? Sheesh.

Not only that, but Curtis knows as well as I do that it doesn't matter the topic of conversation. The next table can be talking about their trash day or their knotted-up kids' shoes and it's apparently still infinitely more interesting than what's going on at our table. It wasn't like Mohawk Man's conversation was so uniquely riveting - racism or not - that Curtis just had to stop and listen. He would've been listening anyway.

I'm dying to someday just secretly plant somebody he doesn't know at a table near ours, and then have them start talking about him. 

At least then we'd both be amused.

Nightmares Do Come True

Last week was the first week of school, and I managed - every single day - to get four children AND myself fed and dressed and completely ready before dropping the boys off. I was feeling pretty cocky proud of that accomplishment.

But then there was yesterday.

The kids kept sleeping and sleeping, which they rarely do. And you know how painful it is to wake a sleeping child, right? Even when I know it's going to make me late, I almost can't bring myself to go and purposely wake them from the peaceful slumber I spend a huge portion of time trying to induce. I mean, hello ... quiet time! How difficult it is to willingly forfeit the quiet!

So we got a little bit of a late start yesterday. And by the time we needed to head out the door, everyone was ready ... except me. No makeup. Unbrushed hair. I did throw a bra on under my pajamas, but that was the extent of it.

"Oh well," I thought. "It'll just be a quick trip anyway. Dropping the kids off. There and back. Boom."

We drove to the school and I waited my turn in the dropoff line. And my internal monologue for the next couple of minutes went something like this:

I wish these kids would stop bickering. WHY are they BICKERING? Oh great. Now the baby is crying. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up ...

Oh good, the van in front of me is getting ready to move. Now I can pull up and drop two of them off and the bickering will cease, thank the LORD.

Oh, the van's going to back up first. 

He's ... still backing up.

He's ... OMG, he's still backing up! Does he even see me behind him? Lay on the horn! Lay on the horn!



Oh. Mah. Gah. He seriously just hit my van. And now I have to get out. In front of everybody. And talk to someone. IN MY EFFING PAJAMAS.

Is it sad that I thought about being in my PJs before worrying about possible vehicle damage? Because that's totally how it went down in my head.

It was an old dude and he was all, "I'm sorry, I was up half the night!" and I felt sorry for him. And so we didn't even exchange insurance information. Part of that was because the only damage was a broken license plate frame, but I'm not gonna lie, the other part was that I just wanted to get back in the car and spare my pajama-ed self any more public humiliation.

If you've been reading me for a while, you know that this scenario has been one of my worst fears. And wouldn't you know! It could have been worse, though. At least the police weren't involved.

Because the only thing worse than being in a car accident while you're in your pajamas is being in a car accident while you're in your pajamas with a hot cop around.

I'm a Crotchety Old Lady

I can eat Wheat Thins until my jaws and temples are literally sore from chewing. They're like crack. Anybody else?
Oh Wheat Thins, you are my kryptonite.

Just had to put that out there.

It's raining here today (finally!). But as much as I love the rain, it would be much MUCH better if I could spend this type of day doing nothing but chillin' in my bed. Unfortunately, I have to drop the kids off at the school. No, that is not a euphemism for having to poop; that's "dropping the kids off at the pool." And yes, I said kids, plural; Colin started second grade on Monday, and Cameron started preschool yesterday. They're in the same building, so we've entrusted Colin with the job of guiding Cameron to his classroom and signing him in. He did a good job yesterday, when we were with him, so I hope he doesn't just flake out and forget what to do today.

Anyway, the rain makes people act like idiots when it comes to dropping off their kids at school. Nobody wants their precious darlings to get sprinkled on (whereas I, unless it's pouring buckets, am just like, "Put your backpack over your head and run!"). They must be afraid their little sugars will melt when exposed to the big bad water droplets. Either that or turn into Gremlins.

So they want to get their cars as close to the front door as possible. Okay, I get that. But seriously, I sorely wish people would use some common sense (not to mention common courtesy!). These are the same people that (hopefully) tell their kids it's wrong to crowd and push and shove, and then what do they do? Crowd and push and shove. Well, figuratively, anyway. With vehicles, it's more like crowd and cut off people who have been waiting patiently for their turn and then just because the person waiting in front of me is texting and doesn't immediately notice the space opening up you maneuver your damn Suburban in there like you have a right to butt in line and I did NOT load my four kids into the car and wait for them to dawdle into their seats while I got soaked to the skin and schlep them all to the school twenty minutes early just to let you take my effing place in line damnit!

*heaving breaths* What? Oh. I mean ... yes. People should be more courteous at dropoff, is all. Whether it's raining or not. *smooths hair, wipes drool from chin*

Then when I got home there was poop on the floor. A lovely present left by a chocolate Lab who thinks that every time we leave we're never coming home. So to cope with this she takes a dump, and I guess that makes her feel better. Ugh.

My 32nd birthday is two weeks from today. (Email me for my wish list.) What's sad is that I'm now having to stop and calculate how old I'll be instead of just remembering it. Isn't that funny? When you're young, you know your age right down to the month: "I'm ten and three-quarters!" But when you're older, and you have your own kids whose ages you also have to remember, your age starts to get blurry, and you're all, "Am I going to be 31 or 32 this year?"

My age really sucked the other day. I use red wine when I make spaghetti sauce, and I was out, so I went to the grocery store. But there was construction going on and so the trip to the store, which usually takes like two minutes, ended up taking almost fifteen. When I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that I had forgotten my ID. Crap. So I went back home to get it. Rather than deal with the detour again, I decided just to go to an easier-to-access liquor store close by. And y'all? I didn't even get carded. Even though there was a big-ass sign that said something like If Customer Appears Under 45, Must Present ID. I mean, I might not look under 21 but do I seriously look over forty-fricking-five?

When I got back into the van I just sat there for a minute and absorbed it. I had just gone into a liquor store ... to buy wine for cooking. Wherein I did not even get carded. And was preparing to drive home in my minivan.


Coolness card officially revoked.

Speaking of uncool, it's almost time to hop back into the Swagger Wagon and pick up Cameron. Yay for preschool, boo for it only lasting two hours.

At least it's stopped raining.

Ooooh, Grade Two

I don't know how many times over the last few months I've wished this day would come. It was practically all I could think about during certain moments. It's the promise that I repeated to myself every time I broke up yet another brotherly squabble or cleaned up the result of overly-imaginative play: school will start soon. School will start soon. School will start soon.

But no matter how many times this summer I said, "Put some pants on!" or "Enough tattling!" or "Leave your brother alone!" (and I said those things approximately 4,627 times a day), apparently it wasn't enough. Because y'all? School started today. And I'm surprisingly sad about it (although not like when he went to Kindergarten, thank goodness, because that was ugly.)

I don't think it's necessarily because I'll miss Colin so much. I know I won't miss the constant refereeing between he and Cameron. I guess it's just because, no matter how old your child is, it's still your child and you hate to just thrust them out there into the relative unknown. I mean, Colin has been in school for two years now - but each year has presented its own challenges (remember this? And this?). There are new teachers and new rules and procedures to adjust to, a new set of classmates, new concepts to grasp. And I wonder: will he flourish or flounder?

Colin is so sweetly excited about it all. Last night he picked out the outfit he wanted to wear, and asked if he could put it on and "try it out" before this morning. He made sure his brand new shoes were still spotless and his brand new Mario Bros. backpack was hanging by the door. And when I put him to bed, he writhed around under his covers for a minute shrieking, "Mommy, I'm so excited!"

His enthusiasm tugs at my heart. I want it to stay like this for him. I want him to go to school and have the most fabulous year he's had so far. I want second grade to be an amazing experience: nothing but progression and discovery and enrichment and delight. I want to shield him from everything even remotely unpleasant.

But that's impossible.

So, like I've done on the first day of school for the past two years, I took a deep breath and sent my little lamb into what could either be a pretty green pasture or a lion's den. I blinked back tears as I watched him walk in, proudly prepared on the outside but with a whiff of insecurity about him. I acted like it didn't bother me when he refused a goodbye kiss. I pretended I was nothing but one hundred percent excited and confident that he was going to have an awesome and fabulous year yaaaay!

And then? I cried my face off. Because I can't protect Colin.

But I have to trust him.

Looney 'Coons

Last evening my husband went outside to chat with the neighbor, and he came home carrying - inexplicably - a shotgun and a steak.

"I'm just manly," he shrugged by way of an explanation.

When I stopped laughing thought about it, I realized what the gun was for. And I went all blah inside.

You see, last weekend we had a pretty decent storm. It blew down some big branches in our yard and flooded our creek. When Curtis went out to survey the aftermath, he realized that we had some messed-up shingles on the roof, which we assumed was from the bad weather.

But when the insurance adjuster came to look at it yesterday morning (before which I cleaned my house and made coffee and put on a bra just in case and he didn't even come in, ugh) he had a different diagnosis: raccoons.

Apparently we've got one trying to get into our attic to nest, and it's tearing through the roof to get there.

Curtis is a rare kind of dude who can adapt to any situation. He would fit right in at an upscale social event or important business meeting ... but this is also a man who was raised in a rural-Missouri community that's smaller than some high-school graduating classes. He can catch a fish with his bare hands, y'all. And I guess when it comes to dealing with the raccoon, he's going back to his country roots, where shooting stuff is always a viable answer.

Welcome to Redneckville, population The Templeton Family.

I oppose his method. But that's mostly because I tend to personify animals, or anthropomorphize them or whichever term means "to give human characteristics to non-human things." (I could look it up but you get the idea.) I glaze over the roof thing, and the piles of raccoon crap on the deck, and instead picture a motherly raccoon, like, tucking her little raccoon babies into a fluffy bed of leaves and chirping, "Mommy's going to find us a wonderful place to live, my darlings! Kisses!" and then blam!, she's coon-skin cap material.

"I look especially rugged in my faux-coonskin hat from furhatworld.com. It'd be even better with a shotgun and a steak." 

And I hate that.

But, you know, the roof. As in, we can't afford to let a raccoon ravage our shit.

So Curtis is determined to put an end to it in what he's deemed the most efficient (and least expensive) way. And as much as it bugs me ... *in my best Kanye West voice* ... I'ma let him finish.

Besides, raccoons are nocturnal. So considering Curtis would have to be awoken by its presence, get out of bed, put his contacts in, load the gun, and sneak up on the thing ... I'd say it's got a pretty good chance anyway.

I mean, you remember how we were with the burglar.

Mama Got a Big Ol' Head

The other day I took Corbin to his two-month well baby checkup. At the doctor's office, they took the standard measurements: his weight, his length, and his head circumference. When the doctor came in, he was looking at the chart, and was all, "Corbin is in the 50th percentile for weight, 50th percentile for height, and ... oh ... his head is a little bit above average-sized."

Okay, so apparently my little dude has a big dome. I shouldn't have been surprised since even in utero it measured roughly the size of a basketball (I might be exaggerating just a little). But honestly, it doesn't look all that big to me. He may be a pumpkin-head, but it's not obvious. He isn't rockin' the "orange on a toothpick" look or anything.

So I said to the pediatrician, half-jokingly, "Should I be worried about his big head?"

"Not at all," the doctor replied. And then ... then ... he added:

"It's a family trait."

Seriously?? Did my son's doctor just imply that I have a big head??

Maybe that's why my hips and thighs have a tendency to grow so quickly ... they're trying to support the weight of my gigantic noggin. Perfectly plausible explanation, right?

*cricket, cricket*

... I said maybe that's why ...


Anyway, I'm blaming Curtis for our son's big head. The doctor could have been talking about him, right?

... RIGHT???


This and That, but Mostly the Other

I just sent the boys to their room with an economy-sized box of crackers, which is probably the dumbest thing I will do all day (knock on wood) but hello, ten minutes of quiet. I'm fairly certain (okay, 100% positive) I'll regret this action later, when I realize their room has been re-carpeted with Cheez-It crumbs, but the prospect of a few silent moments is too enticing to resist. When food and silence are combined, though, it's almost always bad news. Yesterday while I was feeding the baby and I *thought* Daddy was watching them, Cameron and Coby used the kitchen scissors (don't worry, they're as dull as a cat-loving spinster librarian's Friday night plans) to hack ruthlessly into an unopened pack of pudding.

Sneaky critters, these boys. Thank goodness I was able to intercept before there was, like, pudding dripping from their ceiling fan or something.

I'm so ready for school to start, except I'm not, because that means getting everyone - including myself - up and ready and dressed and fed. This year, Colin will be in second grade, and Cameron will be starting preschool for a half-day. So I'll be loading all four children into the car, chauffeuring Colin to school, chauffeuring Cameron to school, puttering back home, picking up Cameron, puttering back home, picking up Colin. Oh, how I wish the preschool had a bus. Or that we lived far enough from the elementary for Colin to take one.

It's also time for back-to-school shopping, the time of year when I fervently wish I were one of those coupon-savvy people. But as you know, I'm just ... not. Scouring fliers and newspapers and whatnot for coupons and price-comparing and price-matching and doubling up and stuff makes me glaze over, kind of like when I try to do a math problem. (Yes, I'm the sort of girl who perpetuates that stereotype. Sorry, feminists everywhere.) It just activates the part of my brain that's all, "Uhhhhhhhhh?" and I can't seem to accomplish much.

So I end up purchasing the best deals I can find, and then living with the nagging feeling that I could've gotten the same thing for half the price somewhere else.

In unrelated news, the Mississippi Valley Fair started yesterday. And I have this compulsion to go, even though almost every other trip there has ended on a decidedly sour note. I feel like it's my obligation as a parent to give my sons fond memories of going to the fair every summer, but damn, it'd be a lot more fun if Curtis and I could just go by ourselves. It does give me plenty of blog fodder, though ... and I did snap one of my favorite pictures ever at the fair one year:

Ha ha ha!

I'll tell you one thing, though: if I'm going to suffer through hauling the kids to the fair, I'm going to eat some deep-fried food.

Because nothing soothes the pain of schlepping four kids through a carnival like a funnel cake.


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