...because we all have our motley moments!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That....

I do some things out of habit. Never thinking of why or how I do them that way. It makes sense to me.

The other day, RM innocently pointed out that I remove dishes from the cupboard from the bottom of the stack instead of from the top "like a normal person." Without giving it a thought, I replied that I didn't want them to be sad because we used the top dishes more often. I wanted equal use. RM looked at me like I had three heads and then told me that dishes don't have feelings.

Right. I knew that. But I am still using the dishes from the bottom of the stack just in case they DO have feelings. Next time I'll tell him it's because I want equal wear. That sounds more normal, don't you think?

While I was pregnant with THE Princess I craved Skittles. That fruity little candy that comes in about five different colors/flavors. Well, I have developed a "scientific method" of eating Skittles. You have to separate them by color. Then eat them by even numbers only (like 2 or 4). And in backwards rainbow color order. Remember the mnemonic Roy G. Biv? Then throw or give away any odd numbers. I'm not even sure how I came up this. I have several other "scientific methods" for eating certain foods, but I don't want to overwhelm you.

I hang my clothes up by color. Roy G. Biv order, of course. They go in my drawers the same way. I am not sure why I have this obsession with the rainbow colors and their order. It's probably just part of my warped psyche. Or maybe it's Roy G. Biv's fault. He's practicing some sort of mind control.

If I think of the outfit I am going to wear the night before or even before I get dressed and then I don't wear it, I have a really bad day. Seriously. Really bad. I call it the, "I Wore the Wrong Outfit Karma." I can change the underwear, that doesn't seem to have any bearing, according to my own very scientific studies. Although it is my personal feeling that underwear should match each other whenever possible. Bonus points if it matches each other AND the outfit you wear.

What it is that makes me come up with this stuff? OCD? ADHD? Restless leg syndrome? Some other acronym? If they make a pill for it, I probably need it. But until I solve this mystery of the universe, make sure you use those bottom plates. I don't want them feeling neglected.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Decision-making Anxiety --- aka Mommy Guilt

Back when I was a high school teacher, Bryssy who still teaches and the rest of you who once did will be able to relate, I had students who literally suffered from test-taking anxiety. They were often bright, attentive students who for whatever reason feared taking tests and usually bombed them even when they knew the information being tested.

While I tried to empathize with these teens I couldn't really relate as I had been the youngster who played school (my role was teacher) before ever leaving elementary school, the classic type-A overachiever who would have loved being a full-time student for the rest of my life (I'm not joking) had someone paid me to do so.

I never really faced clinical anxiety until I survived a life-altering car accident back in August of 2002. I can say from experience that PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) exists and panic attacks are extremely frightening.

But perhaps the biggest anxiety I now face is what I term "decision-making" anxiety. It began the first day I stepped into the large medical clinic that housed the specialty OB doctor I had to see for my "high risk" pregnancy. Before I even met the doc, as part of the intake process, I was asked if I planned to breast or bottle feed. Say what!!??? First of all, it felt like a highly personal question for someone that was not a licensed medical professional to ask me. Secondly, I was still reeling from the news that I was 17 weeks pregnant at nearly 40 years old and after almost 20 years of marriage. I had not thought that far ahead yet. However, I found out that this was the first of MANY critical decisions I would have to make as a mom.

Decisions since then have included: cloth or disposable diapers, co-sleeping or separate sleeping, which foods to introduce first, which pediatrician to use, whether or not to use a pacifier or other comfort item. The list is endless. I even face future decisions like whether to send our child to preschool or not, whether to send her to public school or to home school, etc.

Some of these decisions have been easier than others to make, but each one comes with the moment of "mommy guilt" about whether or not I have make the "right" decision and the "what ifs" that plague me when I'm not so sure.

As a Christian mom, I have to get past the anxiety and guilt and put my trust in the One who gifted me with this child -- the One who trusted me enough to make me a mom, even though I've often questioned His judgement in that area. I am human enough to forget that He is my ultimate source for guidance in how to "train up" my daughter. That's why I am grateful to be surrounded by like-minded women, older and younger, who can remind me of these truths, pray for me during tough times, share their wisdom with me, and love me through it all.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I was recently asked this question during a Bible study: "If you could do or be anything you wanted now, what would it be?"

I enjoyed hearing the other ladies tell of their hopes and dreams, and I learned so much about them that I never knew. In our meeting room sat pilots and sopranos and writers--I twitched nervously in my seat as each shared her passion with us knowing that it would soon be my turn.

I honestly couldn't think of an answer to the question. If I had been asked this as a little girl, without hesitation I would have said Nancy Drew. In high school I would have immediately responded that I would be a doctor, of course. Fast forward to my senior year of college and I would have been a French teacher (I actually did do this). I've always had dreams and goals, and I've always been working towards them, but now I sat dumbfounded as I pondered the idea of having more dreams and more goals.

Nowadays my dreams lean more towards effortless housecleaning and finding ridiculous deals at the grocery store. My goals involve teaching my son what he needs to know and being the best wife and mother I can be (and, well, finishing a cardio kickboxing class without feeling nauseous). I sometimes dream of baking my own bread from scratch or making my own pillows and curtains, but I certainly would never be able to open my own bakery (bakers wake up way too early) or become a seamstress (I'm afraid of sewing machines. Really). I would love to have the knowledge of a chef so that I could cook whatever I wanted when I wanted, but to actually be a chef and run a restaurant kitchen sends shivers down my spine. I would fall apart during the first dinner rush (with visions of Gordan Ramsay flashing through my mind)! All of these professions are wonderful, and I am so happy that there are talented people doing those very things, but for now, it's just not my cup of tea.

So what or who would I be? I very nervously gave my answer, that, well, I would be me. I have dreamed of being a wife and mother for several years, and now that I am here, I love it. I've had my "paying" career, and I still use my education from time to time on new projects that fit more into my current lifestyle, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything or (horrified gasp) wasting anything. I don't have any passions that are waiting in the wings until I have time to pursue them. I actually like play dates at the park and spending time with my guys on Sunday afternoons. Being me is not always a piece of cake and I do not walk around wearing perpetual rose-colored glasses, but most of the time this is what I wanted (minus the loss of sleep that apparently comes with the job--I'm sure I never requested that).

Maybe tomorrow will bring another dream (I am quite enthralled with a few characters in some of the books that I read), but for now, I'm pretty happy being here and being me. What about you? If you could do anything or be anything, what would it be?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Inconvenient Bag: It Ain't Easy Going Green

So I probably have about 12 of those reuseable shopping bags. Some say Walmart on them, some say Publix. I have storage issues in my home, so they get stowed on the back porch (our family entry and exit) where I can grab them and go.

Except, I keep forgetting to grab them. I go to the store and don't realize I've forgotten them until I'm in the checkout lane and the bagger asks me, "Paper or plastic, ma'am?"

Defeated voice: "Plastic, please." Crap.

Once I actually did remember to bring them in with me, but they were stowed underneath the cart - out of sight, out of mind. I felt like such an idiot when I loaded my trunk with plastic grocery bags and then had to lay my reuseables on top...argh!

And the times when I do remember to use them, I'm a bit embarrassed because my bags get mildewed out on the back porch from all the moisture in this sub-tropical air. I've washed them, but mildew just doesn't come out. So they look nasty. So I bought a few more.

But now I don't know what to do with the nasty mildewy ones, cause I certainly don't want to use them. And I can't throw them away...the Green Police might find out and arrest me.

Okay, I realize the "Green Police" are only in my head, but throwing away these bags is like a sin against the environment. I have guilt issues.

Then I read "An Inconvenient Bag" at the Wall Street Journal yesterday, which really did nothing to assuage my guilty conscience. The first line is a good example: "It's manufactured in China, shipped thousands of miles overseas, made with plastic and could take years to decompose." And further down, "Many of the cheap, reusable bags that retailers favor are produced in Chinese factories and made from nonwoven polypropylene, a form of plastic that requires about 28 times as much energy to produce as the plastic used in standard disposable bags and eight times as much as a paper sack."

The good news is, you can make up for this energy consumption during production if you consistently use your reuseable bags. They say if you use them once a week, 4 or 5 reuseable bags can replace 520 plastic disposables in a year.

The bad news is, you actually have to remember to take them with you and bring them all the way into the store...they can't help you if they're still in the trunk of your car when you reach the checkout.

Or the bottom of your loaded cart when you return to your car.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oatmeal Apricot Cookies

Baking has become a special time in our house. It's a time when I can get the kiddos to peacefully help me work toward a common goal. Who wouldn't want to help out when the goal is cookies!?!

As soon as I ask "who wants to help me make cookies?" I hear little feet pattering down the hall ready to pull up a chair. They arm themselves, with a whisk in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other, anxious to help with whatever special task is assigned.
Here is a new recipe we have been thoroughly enjoying.
Oatmeal Apricot Cookies
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk shortening until smooth. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Whisk until well combined. Stir in eggs. Stir in the flour. Stir in the rolled oats and chopped apricots.
  2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are golden. Cool on cookie sheet for one minute. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

I hope you all enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Office

My responsibilities include the accounting, strategic planning, and maintenance of our small corporation. Although I work from home, I can usually be reached at my satellite office or by email. My hours are flexible but I'm always on-call.

Who am I? A Mom. Mommy. Mother. Mama. The Big M.
Sometimes I feel like Pam in the show The Office, except she keeps her desk neater than I do. She's the glue that keeps everything together.

My satellite office is my Chevy Tahoe. It's equipped with everything I might need. My beloved Bluetooth, phone chargers, GPS, pen, paper, notecards, snacks, extra clothes, wipes, sunscreen and bug spray. It's where I make my important calls.

Let me tell you a little something about Bluetooth. It has made it sooooo much easier to talk and drive with two hands, carry in groceries, do the wash, etc. It is one of the best Mommy tools out there. For about $60, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and in some states, a police ticket while driving as you are talking on the phone.

I am guaranteed virtual silence as I drive. While I make my calls, my kids usually watch a video (highly educational of course!) with their headsets on. They are seatbelted in and not going anywhere. They are happy and I am happy that they are happy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Home Remedies

I think I am the lone working mom of our little Motley Moms blog. Working outside the home, that is. I am a teacher at a local high school and interestingly enough I teach parenting courses. Officially called Parenting Skills and Child Development.

One assignment that I give during my course is to research a childhood sickness or disease. All of my students pick an ailment out of a hat and then they have to find out what to do about it. I give them the American Academy of Pediatrics book, Dr. Spock's Childcare Guide (an oldy but a goody), the Internet (don't you just love WebMD?), and I make them ask their mother. Isn't that what we do? We call our mom's when we aren't sure what to do.

This last on is what I really love. I am always amazed. On teething, one mother told her child to put an egg in a sock and hang it from the doorknob, another recommended giving the baby a clothespin to chew on. For rashes, rub the baby's feet with Ivory soap. For cradle cap, use lard or Crisco if you don't have lard. Babies with colic need hot water from a bottle.

I always love when I ask my mom something and she says, "Let's ask Mimi [my grandmother], she's a nurse!" I am then compelled to remind her that she was a nurse during WORLD WAR II. I have a feeling that science and health care may have change a little since then. I still ask her, though.

And if you happen to stop by my house, don't worry about that sock hanging from the front door, the baby is teething right now.

Tell me about your home remedies! I'd just love to know.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008


"He gives power to the weak,

And to those who have no might He increases strength." Isaiah 40:29

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Boyz Allowed!

We've started a little tradition here in our community that brings women of all seasons of life together for an evening of fun. We call it "Girls' Nite Out." Our church provides the meeting space and advertises our events in the bulletins and mailings, but it's open to any woman who wants to meet up with friends or make new ones.

Once a month, we gather with our brownies, cakes, snacks and friends to learn something new or just have a little fun. No kids, no boys--just grown-up girls! It's a beautiful time of mentoring and fellowship.

Sometimes we have as many as 25, other times as few as 4, but no matter how many of us show up, we're bound to enjoy this time of girl-talk and fun activities.
Some of our favorite activities so far have been:
  • Breadmaking
  • Chick-Flick Movie Nite
  • The Grocery Gurus: Getting the Best Deals at the Grocery Store
  • Craft Nite: Textile Art

We were honored to have a local textile artist this month to lead our project, and she went above and beyond our expectations! She arrived with mounds and mounds of designer fabric samples, some of which were quite large!

"Take what you want!" she instructed us, after demonstrating the project of the evening: flag garlands. To see some inspirational examples, go here.

Sewing machines at the ready, several ladies created totally cute garlands. I wish I had taken photos of them all! Others of us just loved sifting through the piles of fabric and exclaiming over the "nuggets" we found for later projects.

Kay, we had a blast! To those who took home fabric for other projects, we'd love to see what you create with it!

Next month, we'll be making freezer cookie dough (probably several different kinds) before the holiday season really hits. See you ladies in the kitchen!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Are You Ready Yet?

"Okay kiddos, we have ten minutes and then we will need to head out the door."

This is an all too common line that I hear coming out of my mouth. I start my countdown to try and ensure we will all arive at our destinatino on time. Weather we are headed to the playground, church, or a restaurant, my goal is to arrive promptly on time.

Well, we were all doing well with heading out the door last night, until....
  • Has my daughter gone to the bathroom? Check
  • Does my son have a new diaper on? Check
  • Everyone has their shoes on? Check
  • Diaper bag is packed? Check

Okay, everything seems in order, now all I need are my keys and we'll head out the door.

Keys? Where had I last seen the keys?

Oh, that's right. I handed them to my 18 month old to entertain him while I put on some lip gloss. Oh goodness, that was in the bathroom, but the keys aren't there. I'm sure he probably put them in a toy basket.

Okay, I just checked every toy basket in the house, and the keys are nowhere to be found. Alright, keep my cool. Let me call my husband. He is the best in situations like these.

Yes, I've checked behind the rocking chair. No, they are not in the toy car. Under the bed? Yep, I've looked there. Yes, I also looked in the curtains. They aren't there.

20 minutes later I found the keys. Where were they? Under a pile of clothes that I had on a chair in my bedroom. Yep, my 18 month old threw them off of the chair and somehow managed to sneak the keys under this pile. Why hadn't I looked there in the first place?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Call to Action Ladies!!!!

Did you catch the Oprah show yesterday? Well by chance I did and boy was I surprised by a few things.

It was about child pornography and child rape, yes rape, on the internet. The statistics blew me away. According to law enforcement, the problem is rampant and the police are having a really hard time catching these people not because they can't find them, but because they lack the resources to apprehend the crazy numbers of them.

The police have to go home each night knowing that the children they saw on the internet will have to go another day of torture because they just can't get to their case.

These child porno people are sickos and need to be stopped. ASAP.

Here's what you can do.

We can make a difference by contacting our Senators before they convene again Sept. 26th. They will be deciding on important issues such as this one and if you agree that our children can benefit from these predators getting caught and stopped, take the time and email, call and/or write to your senator. BE HEARD LADIES!

Oprah makes it super easy for us!

Go to Oprah's website http://www.oprah.com click on "Child Predators: How Bad Is It?". Then click on "Help pass the Protect Our Children Act" line. Just follow the directions.

If you have any questions, let me know and I'll help you email your senator. The show made me ill, but I'm thankful that I saw it and did something about it. You can too.

Your voice matters. Do it for all the children in your life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Flat Tire

Last week I had a flat tire. It went right along with the wonderful [read:sarcasm] week I was having. When it rains it pours, I guess.

We had a teacher work day last Wednesday and thankfully didn't have to be at school until 7:30 am. We were suppoesed to get an extra full hour of sleep. That in itself seems like a good thing. Frankly, it just threw me off. Our little King of the Jungle was up at his usual 5:30 am. But, I digress.

We got dressed. I was happy not to wear my usual business casual. I wore jeans and a t-shirt. Excellent, indeed. It was light out as I was loading the car with all of our usual accessories. The diaper bag, my purse, THE Princess's lunch bag, her backpack, paperwork I had been working on, and my sling for KOTJ. THE Princess was running and dancing around the car. She hopped around and around. She had a plastic screwdriver and was sure to tell me it was a Phillips. She was "fixing" my car. She had a bit too much energy for my taste, but she's 3. I went back in to get more coffee.

We loaded up in car seats and went to pick up Grammy. We got to school and unloaded everybody and everything. Things seemed good. I got to my first meeting of the day and a teacher who's room we parked close to came to tell me I had a flat in my right front tire. Super.

I thanked him and called AAA. A really nice man came and changed my tire in the rain. (Thank you to whoever invented AAA!) A couple of men on campus came to supervise [read:make fun of me]. I could take it. I asked them to be useful and look at my flat. Did it have a nail or screw in it? Nothing they could see.

We went on our merry way home. We went to Musikgarten. We went to church supper. My hubby, RM, was super awesome and went home early to look at my tire. He dunked it in soapy water to try and find the puncture. Nothing. Then he looked at the stem. The cap was loosened (a lot) and air was bubbling out. THE Princess promptly announced that she fixed my tire this morning by undoing the valve stem cover!

Yes, my 3 year old gave me a flat tire. Seriously. I am not even kidding.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Silver and Gold

During a very brief period in my childhood, I was privileged to become a member of the Girl Scouts. I began in Brownies and transitioned up to full blown Girls Scouts. Though I have a few pictures of some of the activities we did, including the one pictured below that looks like marshmallow roasting, my memories of the specifics are a bit blurred. I have a vague recollection of the uniforms and the requisite sashes on which each girl could proudly display the badges she'd earned. Unfortunately, my brief foray into this exciting world was cut short by my parent's divorce.

However, one thing I remember with crystal clarity is a song we learned about friendships (which was sung around like "Row, row, row your boat"):

Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
And the other gold

I think of this song often these days as I treasure my golden friends -- many who are older, yet wiser women of faith -- and my newer silver friends that I've met through our local MOPS group, generally younger women of faith who are in the life stage of mothering preschoolers.
When I first found out I was expecting our daughter, my golden friends were my cheerleaders through what was often a difficult pregnancy. They nurtured me and loved my child before they even knew her. WOW!!

Once I became a mom, I gravitated towards finding other women in this life stage of early parenting. I incorrectly assumed that my golden friends, who are mostly grandparents and great-grandparents, wouldn't remember or understand what I was going through. I truly did them a disservice in that assumption. Motherhood is a univeral language and experience for all who have gone through it, no matter what calendar year it was and how things have changed.

So, I enthusiastically embraced MOPS and made several terrifically shiny silver friends, many of whom have more than one child already and had lots of wit and wisdom of their recent experiences to share. I am so grateful to be going through this stage of my life with such talented and insightful young women.

Finally now the pendulum of these relationships has found its center again --- I'm reconnecting with my golden friends while maintaining connections with the silver ones. I have been blessed with the best of both worlds.

My advice is to do the same by making connections in both worlds. Don't assume falsely that the "older" generation of women in your church, workplace, or neighborhood have nothing to offer you as a mom. They have time, experience and wisdom. They too will benefit from your energy, enthusiasm and spirit.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

I really meant well.

We went to the Science Center last weekend, and I took a moment to steal away to the gift shop while my husband and toddler were busy turning a crank. I found a bag of plastic insects, and I couldn't believe how detailed they were. There were various beetles, a beautiful Monarch butterfly, and a very cool Praying Mantis, as well as some other neat night crawlers. My soon-to-be two year old just loves his plastic animals at home, including a cute little ant that he "won" on a trip to Chuckie Cheese with his grandparents, so I thought that he would just love these, too. I bought the bag of bugs and stashed them in my tote until it was time to go home.

Our little guy isn't always excited about leaving places, especially fun ones, so I persuaded him to go to the car with promises of bugs. He was so excited, thinking about his little ant at home, and he chanted "bug, bug, bug" all the way to the car.

We arrived in the parking garage, but he was reluctant to sit in his car seat. I told him about the bugs again, and he sat like a little angel while his daddy buckled him in. I reached into my tote, ripped open the bag of creepy crawlies, and with as much animation as I could I thrust the first bug I found toward him and echoed his chant: "BUG, BUG, BUG!"

My poor toddler's eyes welled with tears and he whimpered, "NOOOOOO! SCARED! SCARED! SCARED!"
"Bug," Toddler View

"Whoops!" I thought, "That one is a little big. I'll show him the beautiful butterfly. He'll love that one!"

"Butterfly," Toddler View

This, of course, produced the same results.

I terrorized him with a few more creatures that looked like characters in a SciFi Saturday night movie before I realized what I was doing. He finally stopped crying, and I learned a valuable lesson that day--the world looks quite different to my little guy's ever-exploring eyes, and I, sometimes unfortunately, have much to do with what he sees.

Epilogue: Since the dreadful bugs in the car episode, my toddler has made peace with the new tenants of his toy box. He is still very careful around them, but he does allow them out to play from time to time, especially if his loving but sometimes misguided parents are nearby.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Brooding: When is enough...enough?

I'm extremely tired as I finally collapse into my office chair to develop this post idea. It's Friday night and the end of a very long week. A week that started out with the threat of yet another major hurricane making landfall here in Florida as a Cat. 4...I'm saying a prayer for you right now, Texas.

When you live in Florida, the dangling participle of North America, hurricane season is always in the back of your mind. Then, during hurricane season, each hurricane that barrels across the Atlantic and trips over Cuba into the Gulf becomes a nagging concern in the forefront of your awareness. In mommy terms - it's just one more thing to stress about.

Which makes me wonder how powerful must our hormones be if, even through a stressful week like this has been for me, dragging myself into bed each night, awakened several times a night by a toddler who isn't sleeping well, struggling to meet the demands of outside obligations I have committed myself to, I'm actually pondering...dare I say it?...could I possibly just be a little crazy?...having a third baby?...surely I didn't just say that. We got rid of all our baby stuff. We were sure.

I love being a mom. I don't love every single thing I have to do as a mom (I'm thinking of a particular line from Karly's post yesterday - "Mooooommm! WIIIIPE MY BOOOOOOTY!"), but as a whole, I love my job. I don't even really think of it as a job. It's part of who I am. I'm Mommy. And I'm good at it. I should be putting more of these awesome little people on the planet, right?

But, as women - aside from how our husbands feel on this issue - in our heart of hearts, when and how do we know that enough is enough?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anticipating Family Traditions

Can you believe it's that time of year again. Autumn months are upon us and before we know it, Halloween will be coming around the corner.

Looking back through our old fall photos, I love seeing the warmth of fall colors. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Besides all of the great decorations, tasty treats, and giggling children filled with anticipation, Halloween is an exciting time for our family to spend quality time together.
It is our family tradition to head to the pumpkin patch where we each pick out our own pumpkin. We spend the night before Halloween carving pumpkins, pouring our individual personalities as we create a few jack-o-lantern masterpieces. We toast the pumpkin seeds, filling the house with the aroma of fall treats. The kids come up with a dream, a desire for their costume - which I then, with fingers crossed, try to bring to life after spending a few hours at the sewing machine.

I look forward to seeing what my kiddos dream up this year and I can't wait to share what this fall season will bring!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Made My Day

Something really little made my day last weekend.

I'll start from the beginning. A couple weeks ago while shopping at my other home (Walmart), I spotted in the deep, dark reaches of the handbag display a super cute handbag. After brushing the dustbunnies off of one, I realized how a gold-digger from the past must have felt as he panned a bunch of rocks and found a golden nugget. I was so excited about this bag! It was cute and cheap - my kind of bag!

Well, I thought it was so cute that I went back and bought one for a friend's birthday. She loved it too! I figured that was the end of that.

Much to my surprise, when going out to dinner with family, a woman stopped me in my tracks. As I walked past her and her group of friends, she said "Excuse me, can I ask you where you bought that FAAABulous bag? Is it Pucci? Maybe another designer? I just love it!". After I realized she wasn't making fun of me and she was serious, I told her, "Actually, I bought it at Walmart.". I didn't have the heart to tell her I bought it for nine dollars.

Wow! I now owned a designer looking bag without even trying to! Don't get me wrong. I love nice handbags. I admire them on the shoulders of other people. It's just that I don't want to spend the money for one.

Anyway, don't you just love a deal? I gotta go now. I'm going to Walmart to see if they have any more of them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What's In A Name? We Have A Winner!!

There has been much debating at our house this week. Some screaming. A little crying. Lots of teeth gnashing and lip biting. All this over the name of an airplane. Hard to believe. Just take a look at the names you offered:

1. Wingin' a Prayer
2. Wales Snail
3. Sky Crawler
4. Sky Dreamer
5. Winged Whale
6. Turtle Wales
7. The Lake Grazer
8. Lopneteip
9. Wale's Trails
10. Wales' Flying Blue Whale
11. Jefferson
12. Blue Bell the Sky Cow
13. SSF Clipper
14. The Highlander
15. A Flight in the Attic
16. The Upper Room
17. SSF Clipper
18. SSF Clover Flyer
19. Piet's Dragon
20. The SSF Slow Streaker
21. The SSF Take Luck
22. Piet's Draggin'
23. Plane to See
24. Plane Sailing
25. Jonah and the Wale
26. Daddy's Escape
27. Sky Smurf
28. Snail Male
29. Sweet Chariot

I banned my hubby from the blog so that he would not be influenced by who submitted what names. I then I gave him this exact list on Saturday night. Have I ever mentioned that the man is seriously indecisive? I am not even kidding. How hard can picking a name from the list be? Well, he takes his airplane very seriously.

He called his dad for his opinion. Then he called his brothers for theirs. He asked mine (and I had a pretty strong opinion). Then he refused to talk to me about it. So, there we were at a standstill on Sunday evening. I was annoyed, I came up with the contest didn't I? You would think he has the decency to let me in on what he was thinking. He didn't.

Finally, Monday evening at 7 pm he finally let me know his choice. Before he told me, he made me guess which one he picked. I was wrong. I don't even know why I would presume to pick the name of his plane. I am not of all things aeronautical, as he likes to remind me.

Karly gave us "A Flight in the Attic" and that was RM's pick!! I personally like the reference to the book. As my students say, "Miss, that's old school." Word.

Karly, your prize follows. Please email me and let me know what your would like your personalization to be and where. The reverse of the bag is blank and I can put it there or on the stenciled side! If you have a favorite font (yes, I am weird enough to have favorite fonts) let me know!

Congrats again Karly and thanks everyone for playing! This was fun!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Keeping Childhood Memories Alive

Having grown up "up North" as Floridians refer to it (Bridgeport and Chesire Connecticut to be specific), I had the awesome pleasure of experiencing all four seasons. While I realize that older folks who transplant here permanently or even seasonly do so to avoid the harshness of winter, I have only a child's memories of making snow angels, trying to catch an elusive snow flake on my tongue, being warned of the dangers of eating "yellow snow" (too gross to explain), and flying down a hill on my flexible flyer (sled).

Though I have lived in Florida since age 13, married a native Floridian, can eat fried okra and make buttermilk biscuits from scratch with the best of them, I still become melancholy at this time each year as I yearn for the beauty of autumn -- so much so, that last week I dug out my fall decorations and have them up throughout (read in almost every nook and cranny of) the house already. Though he doesn't say much about this, my husband did question my sanity a bit as I did this on September 1st and Autumn doesn't officially begin until September 22nd.

I still have a now yellowed article I had clipped from the October 15-17 1999's USA Weekend on my office bulletin board that gives websites (back when I was completely new to the internet) for fall foliage hotlines and live foliage webcams. We only had dial-up for the longest, so the live webcams were not too great then, but now that we finally upgraded to high speed, I'm looking forward to seeing the magnificent show God produces for us to enjoy.

Having these bits and pieces of the season I miss the most helps me to keep my childhood memories alive -- like picking out our pumpkin at a place that made fresh apple cider with an old fashioned press that you could watch, raking leaves into piles to jump in, and making our very own scarecrow using those raked leaves and our dad's old clothes. Now that I am a mom myself, I have someone to share these treasured memories with.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

These are days...

Motherhood has truly made me feel like a kid again. True, I don't look so much like a kid anymore, but I don't mind--it comes in handy when I need to buy spray paint and super glue. It's the excitement of seeing the world through my soon-to-be two year old's eyes and actually getting to live in that world that takes me back to my early years when Grandma's house meant Tang and Kraft Singles, sleeping outside was actually fun, and staying up late to finish the latest volume of the Nancy Drew Files didn't give me a headache the next day.

It's really not so different these days than when I was growing up--Sesame Street still begins with the all-too-familiar song and Cookie Monster is still eating the letter of the day. I'm still playing school like I used to, but my "student" is now our little boy instead of my captive, I mean captivated, little sister. I'm still playing in the kitchen, but now my tools are a little bigger, a little more expensive, and a little less likely to break (particularly the oven!).

What is most exciting to me is getting to step back into the world of our toddler and "grow up" with him. The opportunity to read the books I never read as a child just excites me, and one of the most relaxing afternoons I have had in months came the other day when my son and I sat on his play carpet and pushed cars around a make-believe road. And, you know, it is more fun to eat sandwiches cut into silly shapes (particularly when they're made with Nutella! lol) I had forgotten the sense of accomplishment that comes from having colored every inch of a page from a coloring book, and stacking blocks to see how tall they will go could keep me busy for hours (if my son didn't get tired of it after 10 minutes and move on to something else!). I am seriously looking forward to the LEGO and Lincoln Logs years. Don't even get me started on the joys of playdough--especially now that I have the pleasure of making it before I play with it! We add spices to it that complement the colors of the dough--ground cloves in red playdough is just amazing...

So, why the nostalgia? Today is my birthday and God has blessed me with 32 wonderful years of life on this little planet. I am so grateful for the ordinary miracles of life and for my dear family and friends, and I am so humbled that on top of all of this, I get to have a little fun, too.

(Me, three years old, with my baby sister)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Toughest Years

My husband and I have been married for over seven years now, and it amazes me that there is still more to learn about how to be a better partner to him, and vice versa. But I know I can be, and I know he can be, and this challenge is what keeps our marriage fresh. I think it always will.

The funny thing is, before we decided we were ready for kids, I had this epiphany: we needed to be married for at least 2 years before we had any children. My theory in support of this was that we needed plenty of time to get to know each other as partners in marriage before we complicated it with kids. Important things like:
  • Which side of the bed was mine?

  • Who takes out the trash?

  • Who does the grocery shopping?

  • Is he a safe driver? Are his reflexes fast enough to dodge sudden obstacles in the road, thus preventing a life-altering (or -ending) crash? Maybe I should drive...?

  • How do I know when he's sick of me and needs some space?

  • How do I let him know, kindly, when I need some space?
  • I was raised Catholic, he, Methodist...where would we go to church?

Some of these things turned out to be silly...

  • I'm left-handed. I like the left side of the bed. Duh.

  • He takes out the trash, of course.
  • If he crashes the car, at least we'll go together.
  • And it's pretty obvious when we need some space. We speak in 1-2 word sentences, terse and to-the-point. Can't waste energy required to hold myself together on speech.
Finding the right church was harder. We church-hopped for a while before having kids. We knew this one was really important in the life of our future family, so we didn't make the decision lightly. We also didn't make this decision until after our first child arrived! All of a sudden, with the birth of our baby boy, our priorities and spiritual needs became crystal clear.

Presbyterian seems to be the happy sticking place for us. We love our church family! They support us in every aspect of our family life, as individuals, as partners, and as parents. Awesome. I feel so blessed by all the ministries that touch our lives: my circle group, The Breakfast Club Sunday school class (our grown-up class), Mother's Forum, Lil' Kidz programs, Vacation Bible School, Preschool Sunday School, Girls' Nite Out, Musikgarten, Wednesday night Ekklessia dinner and classes, and inspirational Sunday morning worship services.

Our church is also the home of MOPS in this town, yet another wonderful ministry that supports me in my mothering adventure while my kids are preschoolers.

Without all this support, looking back over the past seven years, I don't know how I could have handled these soul-searching, sleep-deprived, tidal wave years of becoming new parents. These are the toughest years of my life thus far, as a wife, as a woman.

But as a Christian, I am thriving.

No, we didn't have it all figured out before becoming parents. We don't have it all figured out now, either. How boring would that be?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Feeling the Beat

This week our church started their third year of the musikgarten program. If you have never heard of musikgarten, take a look over here. It is an early childhood class for parents and children to attend together. The little ones start to learn the basics of music while having a blast dancing and clapping along to the beat!
With the start of this new year, I am looking forward to the new stages my kids are in. My daughter is at the age where every Wednesday she is asking "Are we going to music today?" My son, who was in the baby class last year, is now old enough to actively participate in class. Yesterday he sat in the middle of the circle happily clapping along to all of the songs!
This is one of my kids' favorite activities; Do your kids have a favorite?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Old Friends of Mine

I'm kinda piggy-backing off of Donna's blog about friends from this week. She got me thinking about the whole friends thing especially after my Labor Day weekend.

This Labor Day weekend, we invited friends from our college days over to hang out and have some fun. We were non-stop! We went bowling, rode the coasters at Cypress Gardens, and went water skiing at the lake. It was a real blast.

It made us all realize how much we missed each other all these years. We were all so close in our 20's. Later on, we moved away and life just got busy. It was all about work and getting "established". Old Friends had their busy lives, too. Next came our children. Suffice to say, these past few years have been a happy blur. We tried to maintain our friendships, but we were just so tired and really just hanging on day-by-day.

Now, almost 20 years later (I can't believe I can say that), we are starting our old friendships all over again. We are making new memories while talking and laughing about our old ones! It is a special treasure to be able to do that. Even though we are all at different places in our lives, our base friendship has made it possible to just pick up where we all left off. No hard feelings.

I consider us so very blessed to be able to count our many friends both new and old ones. Our new ones know us as the adults we are now. Our old ones know us as those silly kids that loved all things fun - as we still do!

If while you were reading this an old friend popped into your mind, I want to encourage you to consider contacting that friend. Face Book has made it so easy to try to find friends. I found an old friend a few months ago that I've since called. It was great talking to her and I hope to find some more!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What's in a Name? With a contest at the end!

Names are a big topic in our house. My own name is a bit strange and I am always being asked about it. My parents had very common names and didn't want there to be 8 other Bryssy's in my class at school. My dad was a preacher's kid (yes, one of those) and didn't want any names from the bible. Finally, they wanted to use letters from my great grandfathers name. So, they made up my name.

My younger sister, has a strange name, too. They found it in a baby name book and changed the spelling to reflect how they wanted it pronounced. I was always mad she had more A's in her name than I did. Weird, I know.

Being a teacher, I wanted an uncommon name for my first child, but old fashioned sounding. I vacillated but finally decided on it after my water broke and I was on the way to the hospital. She shares her middle name with my mom, her Grammy.

Many people have asked me if my son's name is a combination of my name and my husband's. Actually, it's not (although it sounds like it could be), it was my great grandfather's name. His middle name is my husband's grandfather's name.

My family has always been big on naming things. Our farm was Stepping Stones Farm. We registered all our horses with SSF in front of their names so it was easy to recognize us as the breeders. The only doll I ever played with, I lovingly named Sarah Kaduce (and you had to say the whole thing). I called my first car Hollister.

Strange but interesting animal names abounded on our farm. My first pony was Skipper. Our stallion was Fearnot. Two mares I remember with great fondness were Amarata and Ferria (Arabian names). One filly was Bryama (after my sister and I). After a first attempt in trimming the hooves of a little colt ended in hog tying and sitting on him, he got the name Thrasher.

An especially regal rooster was Chant-a-clear. A pet Guinea pig, Howard Henry. A shar pei puppy, the Emerald Empress (called Emmy). A big slobbery basset hound, Ruby Begonia. I had a fantastic golden retriever named Chester Theworldsgreatestdog, I am not even kidding.

To this day, my mom and I like to play a rummy card game sometimes. The winner of the best 3 of 5, has to call the other one "Princess Queen Empress Czarina Power Woman of the Universe Ruler of the Wind and Tides" for the entire day. Yes, we are bizarre. But, it's hilarious, especially when you see people reacting to the fact that you just called someone that with a straight face.

Most recently, we have been trying to name the airplane that my husband is building. It's a small 2-seater Pietenpol that goes low and slow. He likes the name the Clover Clipper. I think it should be more specific to us or Lake Wales. There is already a Piet named Icarus' Plummet which is the kind of name that I like.

So, what should it be? Respond to this post and let me know. The winner will get this green tote, personalized with your own name or slogan of your choice!

Let the naming begin, unlimited entries....I'll announce the winner next Tuesday!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

According the the Department of Labor's website, the celebration of Labor Day, "a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country," dates back to the late 1800's.

As I read this site to glean some historical perspective of this holiday, I thought back to my own history with it. As a child, the meaning of it was an extra day with daddy home to play with me. As a school-aged girl, it marked the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the new school year (I grew up in Connecticut and school began after Labor Day). My family used to watch the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon that weekend, so our special treat was being able to stay up "all night" -- my sister and I would drag our pillows and blankets to the living room (back in the dark ages when we only had one TV per househould) and bunk there. That brought back some great memories for me.

I wonder what memories our daughter will associate with Labor Day as she grows up and looks back on it and what memories you may have. Whatever they are, enjoy the day with those you love.