Job Title: WRITER!

As many or most of you perhaps don’t know since I am a spaz at consistency (when did I last post here?), I got a job with a local parenting newspaper as a freelance writer/columnist! Remember that cheeky, not-too-professional letter I mentioned months ago? I used that baby to actually get a job writing. Job. As in, I’m getting paid. Doing what I do best. Doing what I love.

So why is it so hard to actually do it?

I mean, I’ll be driving down the road (as opposed to the field? Tarmac?) on rare occasions when my noise makers aren’t with me, and I’ll be so caught up in my writing in my head – full essays, short stories, brilliant ideas for articles – that I forget that I’m even driving. I sometimes forget that I’m breathing, too, and find myself sighing repeatedly because my breathing had been shallow while I was thinking so hard . . . is that weird?

I find that I’m not really all that good at writing when I want to/need to, but I’m super great at keeping up on the chores in the home like laundry, dishes, reading Facebook, dinners and brushing the cat. I FREAKING LOVE WRITING, so why the heck can’t I make myself do it?

I am trying out a new schedule in the coming weeks. It’s not going to be pretty, and neither am I because of it, but with three boys that need nearly constant attention and a hubby that needs almost as much, I have no choice but to wake myself at 5 am to get some writing done. Remember that whole song and dance about New Year resolutions? Seems like I’ll be repeating it again this year.

So, for anyone interested, below are the links for my articles in Toledo Parent News. Please feel free to read the entire issue – yes, it’s a local paper written for and about Toledoans, but it is a plethora of knowledge and camaraderie for all parents, regardless of locale. And, amidst my excitement for the freelancing position I got, I was told that I would also be allowed (what am I, six? What’s a better word for allowed in this context?) to also write my own column! It runs every other month when space allows and is titled – big surprise here – Alphabet Soup Mama, of course! Finally! Some writing income to counter the dough I need to spend to not let myself look like my kids are kicking my ass!

 Mother’s Day Favorites

Our Perfect Toledo Day

Muddy Gamer Kids

Be A Back To School Superhero

The Racing World

In Lieu of Kryptonite

Haunted Happenings

Sweet Not Sour Safety Tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bacayshun

So, when did my kids become good? I mean, really. We went on vacation for three days, spent a total of 20 hours in the car, purposely left the Focalin and melatonin at home and still I don’t have a single complaint about our vacation. I am wondering when it was that they woke up, had a meeting and decided they no longer needed to do really dumb shit in public. It’s kind of messing with my hobby of making fun of them.

I yanked them out of bed before the sun came up. I forced them to eat an entirely unhealthy breakfast of sugary cereal. I yelled at everyone to get off their asses and hurry up with the brushing of the teeth and packing of the toothbrushes. I hurried Hubby along, complaining that the cat was going to be alone too long. I complained that there wasn’t going to be enough room in the front seat for my camera, purse, book and snack bag (I’ve learned my lesson countless times when I’ve packed the snack bag in the back seat).

When we were finally on the road, they were all too happy to just chill and listen to music. If anything, the worst behaved person on the trip was my oldest child – the hubster. But that’s nothing new. I expected that, so I made sure there was at least one rogue Red Bull in the snack bag, a baggie of mustard flavored pretzels, and a few Slim Jims. The happy hubby trifecta. He still complained, but at least he wasn’t hungry and tired. We ate fast food lunch. We cleaned fast food wrappers from the van. We cleaned fast food chunks from beneath Jack’s butt. We cleaned fast food grease from the windows, seats, headphones and hands. We cleaned fast food crumbs from the van a week later. In case anyone cares about my opinion, I highly suggest a nice healthy picnic lunch to be eaten outside your car on long trips.

And after ten hours, we arrived at Great Wolf Lodge, the funnest indoor water park adventure we’ve been to. We’ve been here three times, I think. And let me note that I am biased as it is the only one we’ve been to.

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2011

2014

2014

As per usual, the kids and I wait in the car whilst Hubby checks us in. We wait. And wait. And wait. The kids are bouncing around as if they had been cooped up in seat belts for ten hours and were excited about something. Damn kids. I had a headache and anticipated a frown from Hubby as he walked out to the van (not because I’m a pessimist or because he’s an asshole, mind you. Because every time we go somewhere, something pops up that puts a kink in our plans. And neither one of us are particularly ‘fly by the seat of our pants’ people.) But as it were, he walked out smiling! A home run!

We found the room easily enough, after piling three days’ worth of luggage for six people, a crock pot full of Sloppy Joe’s and three grocery bags of groceries (more Red Bull, some chips, soda, chocolate . . . necessities, people) on top of one of those rolly luggage racks things. Being the ‘you need to work hard to earn this shit’ mom that I am, I did make all the kids carry their own backpacks. Our room had the promised ‘Happy Birthday’ sign on the door and a large bag full of the birthday package treats we paid for in this nifty little add-on appropriately called the birthday package.

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Let me go into painful detail here, as this thing was so cool:

At this water park, you pay for your room and you get as many water park passes as people you list staying in your room. So on this particular trip we had 11. Since it was Liam’s birthday, I thought, why the hell would I not add this $125 package to the mix? The Internet claimed that we would get a meal comp, a birthday cake, a poster, a scrapbook and tokens for the arcade for four kids. Let me tell you, at Great Wolf Lodge, they don’t skimp on their packages! I assumed we’d get a meal comp for four people, a crappy paper scrapbook with an ugly, flimsy cover and a tiny birthday cake. Instead, we got a meal comp for nearly all 11 of us (it was pizza, salad, breadsticks and soda. We had to buy one pizza because a. I like my fatty food, b. our three boys can eat an entire box of cereal in one breakfast, so dinner has to be large, and c. my Hubby is excessive in everything he does), a HUGE round birthday cake, decorated and personalized, eight arcade tokens for each kid, a chocolate bar for each kid and a scrapbook that cost $29.99 in the gift shop. I checked. Ooh, and I almost forgot what had me so impressed. The birthday child was to receive a ‘stuff the animal’ and outfit in the gift shop, akin to Build-A-Bear. I checked that out, too. The animal was $24.99 and the outfit was $19.99. So far, just the extras tally to $75, not including dinner, the cake and the arcade tokens. I’d say that the tokens should have been about . . . (ugh, maths) $8. That leaves like $40 for an entire pizza dinner and a birthday cake (don’t you dare refigure my math. That would be embarrassing. I did it all in my head with no paper and pen. I’m impressed, but I haven’t checked my work with a calculator). Regardless of actual birthdays, I’d say it would be a great idea for anyone going to GWL to add this package on. I mean, who doesn’t want to eat cake and pizza in their hotel room?

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Pizza party

Back to the main attraction – my sweet baby niece made her appearance at her first vacation! At seven weeks old, she was a vision in pink. Her dark skin and hair made everything she wore look custom-colored just for her. I’d also mention the color of her eyes, but that little booger kept them closed for like the entire time she was there. Seriously, if I were a jealous person, I’d be insanely jelly of my sister and her super duper easy, sleepy baby. And the pinkness. Yeah, the pinkness would make me jealous. If I were a jealous person. Which I’m not.

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Marley Renee, as pretty as her mommy

I got some great pictures of my mom sleeping in the water park.

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I got a few cute pics of my kiddos smiling. I got a great shot of the birthday boy blowing out his candles. I got a few cute pics of that sweet, pink little baby. With her eyes closed, of course.

And that’s it.

See, nothing even remotely funny in three whole days.

Except for when Jamie got pulled over and received a speeding ticket with all four kids as witnesses. I was a great wife and didn’t say a single word, though inside my head I saw myself pumping my arm in the air and screaming, “YESSSSSSSSSS! It’s about time!”

Just kidding. No wife wants her hubby to get a speeding ticket.

Right?

And that’s the end of that. I must really be into this blogging thing because as Officer Not So Friendly (actually, he was kind of a dick – is it normal for a cop to ask the driver what color their car is?) was running Hubby’s license and registration, I very seriously contemplated whether I would/could be reprimanded for taking a picture of said cop handing the imminent ticket to my speeding Hubby. I wish I had done it, in hindsight. A reprimand from a crabby cop would have been great fodder for this. As would the resulting photo of shame.

I wonder what else I would do just to be able to write about it.

 

 

 

 

 

The opposite of anonymous

When I started this blog, something told me it was best to leave the children anonymous. (Main idea derailment: Why is it that every time I write or say that word I picture the scene from Big Daddy – “Hip? Hip-hop? Hip-hop-anonymous?”

I thought that by naming them for their birth order (and I even did that innacurately), they’d be recognized by family and friends but concealed to the general public. This anonymization could come in handy when they are older and more prone to the deep embarrassment that often follows bone-headed actions, but I’ve since changed my mind about anonymizing them. Ooh, maybe they’ll grow up tougher for it. Here they are in all their glory:

 

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Juliet (Sissy), 16

 

Liam (Number One), 11

Liam (Number One), 11

 

Connor (Number Two), 9

Connor (Number Two), 9

 

Jack (the little one, the baby), 4

Jack (the little one, the baby), 4

 

A Case of the Broke-sies

Well, another broken TV has once again slapped this family in the already red-cheeked face.  If anyone out there is counting, this is the fourth TV from our household that has had a very short lifespan.  I’d love to say we’re idiots and keep buying the same type of TV and the short lifespan has to do with the crappy quality, but no.  That wouldn’t be as fun as, oh, the truth.  Which is, may I add, that we keep breaking them.

A few years ago, when Number Two was in all his undiagnosed and unmedicated glory, he climbed atop a very ridiculous microwave cart-turned TV stand and proceeded to pull our 30-inch, fifty pound Magnavox off the stand and nearly onto himself.  Luckily, he was able to sidestep injury and certain crushing with the maneuverability of ADHD boys that must be a defense mechanism they are ingrained with, because otherwise, there would be many more hilarious albeit grave injuries around here.We never replaced that TV because at the time we had a newborn slumbering in our room and didn’t require a TV – we were much too tired at 8 pm to watch anything.  When we moved to a new house, we not only bought a small TV for our bedroom, but a 55-inch flat screen for our new living room.  After the newborn was older and mobile, he started climbing onto the stand and behind the TV, scaring the bejesus out of me for more reasons than just the impending owie.

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Notice the smudges – this was not the first time he got up there . . . nor the last.

Eventually I taught him not to climb up there (spray bottles are not just for cats) and TV life was a bit more relaxed . . . until I started babysitting on a regular basis.  Every single toy was a weapon and the target was a thousand dollars of electronic heaven.  I saw stuffed animals flying through the air and pictured grenades where their eyes should be.  Toy guns were bazookas.  Building blocks were, well, building blocks and I was having tiny heart attacks nearly every time I had to duck into the next room for a blankie or to prepare a snack.  I was sweating the fact that every second of the day when there were multiple children in my home was a potential threat to my relationship (how does one tell her hubby about another broken TV?).

Well, one day near naptime, I filled two sippy cups of milk and gave them to the twin boys I was babysitting.  I went back to the kitchen for something, leaving them watching Disney Jr.  Within seconds, I hear banging and yelling and honestly?  I had been hearing banging and yelling all day and was at the absolute end of my rope with the noise level that seems to surround boys.  Marching into the living room to put an end to the yelling, I spied with my little eye two two-year-old boys smashing their sippy cups into the TV screen . . . that no longer had a picture.  Lesson learned: milk sippies and ten seconds can completely change a life.  Another lesson learned:  telling hubby and telling the parents was extremely awkward.  Still don’t know exactly how I got through it.

We bought another TV within a few days and I was back in my hubby’s good graces after I stopped babysitting, because, in his defense for sounding a bit like a lunatic for suggesting I quit after suggesting babysitting to make money to earn back the cost of the TV, more kids in the house equals more mess and more destruction . . . and more cost.  It was 11 months later when I was blow-drying my hair in the bathroom and Number Three comes in holding a Nerf bat that his brother had just gotten for his birthday.  He was babbling something that sounded a lot like, “wook at da bwoken TB.”  My heart thudded . . . thump, step into the hallway . . . thump, thump, thump . . . turn the corner, see black screen . . . thump, thump, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep . . . see very large cracks all over the screen . . .

“What did you DOOOOOO?!?!?!”  I semi-yelled, semi-cried.

“I hitted the TB wif da bat.  It bwoken, wight?”

Oh. My. Goodness.  Eleven months.  How do I tell Hubby that our infant of a TV, the third in three years, is destroyed?  Honestly I cannot recall how I told him, but I do recall lots of tears and a sore throat . . . that small TV we had in the bedroom was now to be moved to the living room much to the very vocal chagrin of Hubby.

A few short months later we put that house up for sale and Hubby and I decided that I’d start babysitting again once we moved to earn money for a new TV.  But Hubby, being the type A person he is, went ahead and bought a new TV to be delivered when we moved in to the new house.  Another 55-inch beaut, set atop the same TV stand we love (you know, the one the youngest liked to stand on). Sadly, the poor thing stood no chance at all in the Wilson house.

A few nights ago I asked Number Two to close the blinds in the living room.  He surprisingly surrendered to it, mutely and without a moment of opposition, shocking me into silence as he closed the first one.  Reach up on tiptoes, pull down.  I turned and bent to pick up some mess and heard a yell and crash . . . and upon turning around found Number Two standing on the TV stand which stands in front of a window, alone, with his hands over his mouth and eyes wide.  “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m soooo sorry!”  The TV was upside down on the floor.  The TV was upside down on the floor.  The TV was upside down on the floor.

“It’s broken.” I said in disbelief.  “It’s broken.”

“I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!”

“It’s broken?!”  I may have been in shock.  And all I could think was, “These things happen in threes.  These things happen in threes!”

“I’m sorry!  It was an accident.  I didn’t mean it!”  His hands were still on his mouth.

“Ohhhhh no.  Oh no.  You have to call Dad.  Oh no.  I cannot tell him about a fourth broken TV.”

“Noooo!  It was an accident!”

“Help me lift it up so we can see if it really is broken.  Oh jeez.”  We lifted it up and set it back down on its base.  The screen was blue with shards of colors jutting out of the point of impact.  Geometric art.

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The TV may be broken, but at least the blind behind it is closed.

“Get the phone now.  You’re telling Dad.”  I couldn’t stop myself from repeating.  And I’m making myself sound waaaay better that I actually was.  I may have damaged my throat from screaming in terror . . .

So folks, this is how you tell your Hubby that the fourth TV in four years has been broken:

“Dad?” My crying third boy said.  “I broke the TV!”

You pass the buck.  I’m not super ashamed of this.

And kudos to Hubby for not freaking out on him.  He asked which one, with great trepidation I’m sure as his pride and joy is the 80-incher we have in the basement.  When he heard it was the small one, he asked if it was an accident and, being assured there were no shenanigans going on – no toys being thrown from the catwalk, no wrestling in the living room – he asked to talk to me.

What does he want with me?  What am I going to say?

“Hello?”

“Are you crying?  What are you crying for?  It’s just a TV.”

Utter shock and disbelief.  Who is this guy?

“Yes, I’m crying.  Our TV is broken.  The fourth one.  I know how much it cost and I know it’s my fault.  I should have known he would try to stand behind the TV to reach the blinds.  I’ve been his mom long enough to know that everything is a playground.”

“No.  He was doing what you asked and it happened.  We’ll figure it out, but maybe no water park this spring because the cost of the replacement is about the same cost as the trip.” Great.

I got off the phone and went to hug Number Two, who was still crying about his impending punishment.  He was shocked when I hugged him and told him that I knew it was an accident.

“Mom, I need to go to my room,” he said, pulling away from me.  “I gotta get my expensive toys and sell them.  My iPod, my DS –”

“Yeah, me too,” Number One interrupted, “and I want to contribute this.”  He handed me a five dollar bill.

My heart grew three sizes that day.  We went to the kitchen and found a mason jar.  The boys put their money into it and I dumped out all the change from every change magnet in the house.   It’s a small jar and a small amount of money, but the thought is mighty.  Now, I’m not going to let them sell their expensive toys, but I will let them put their hard-earned money into the jar.  In the face of adversity, I love that they decided to work together to solve a problem.  Until the problem is solved, I’ll be babysitting again.  No sippy cups in the living room and no Nerf bats anywhere.  And I’ll be doing all the chores myself for a looong while.

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Although it serves as a reminder that something was destroyed, it also reminds me that my boys will give to benefit the entire family.

Fallible Friday

After perusing some other blog sites to see how I could better mine, I found that having a day during the week with the same theme every week is quite popular (and no, I am not too proud to admit that I scam others’ ideas  . . . but just the idea, mind you.  Not the actual word usage/theme/storyline).  Anywho, I’ve come up with two themes for the week: Mug Shot Mondays and Fallible Fridays, the latter of which we begin today.   Mug Shot Mondays will debut in a mere three days, so be prepared to see my kids’ dirty laundry aired . . . and no, that is not just a figure of speech.  I am certain that some dirty laundry will inevitably end up in their “mug shots” from the week prior – I promise to document anything stupid/silly/questionable I catch them doing . . . and Number One has a real winner from this morning.  Stay tuned!

So we begin with Fallible Fridays, where I will document the weeks’ transgressions, shortfalls, and utter failures.  Some weeks may have more than others as my moods fluctuate from stable to get-the-hell-out-of-my-way.  This week, however, is mild in terms of failure.

Huh.  Surprisingly, looking back on the week, there’s not much to complain about.  No big fails until Thursday/Friday.  Lookin’ good, Mama!

No matter how good the beginning of the week looked in terms of parenting/teaching my kids valuable life lessons, Thursday was a struggle.  It was a beautiful day, which was almost a thorn in my rose.  I stared out the window at a yard smothered in leaves and dreaded the foreseeable future, the one that found me raking all by my lonesome.  “Have the boys help you!” said my eternally optimistic neighbor.  Great idea, I agreed, until I thought about the ramifications of their “help” – bickering, complaining, whining, snacking, full out fighting, and the constant, never ending blabbering.  Sigh.  I was tired and hadn’t even picked up a rake, but I had made my first huge parenting mistake of the day by letting my kids off the hook because I didn’t have the patience to deal with them.  This is why I am still the only one (beside the other adult in the house) doing dishes, laundry, dusting, and picking up dirty undies from the bathroom floor.  Theirs, obviously.

It was near dark when I finally got a bee in my bonnet to start up the leaf blower (by myself, of course) and see if I could just blow the leaves into a pile (not exactly how that works, right?!).  Attempt number one to start the blower failed.  Attempt number two to start the blower failed, as did attempts numbered three and four.  I found myself kicking the blower, slamming the door and locking myself in the bathroom huffing and puffing and wiping tears of frustration out of my eyes.  As I got a hold of myself and left the bathroom, there was my former temper-tantrumming nine-year-old, eyes full of worry, asking me if I was okay.  How does one tell their kid they were just throwing a fit like the one their kid was put in timeout for?  Seriously, I need to know because I didn’t tell him anything of the sort.  I lied.  I told him I hurt myself trying to start the blower and not the truth (I threw a huge fit, kicked the blower, slammed the door and swore under my breath because of an inanimate object.  ‘Please do as I say and not as I do’ does not work for me.  But lying?  Yep, that’s something I can handle.).  I did end up getting that damn blower to start, but then it ran out of gas five minutes into the job.  And no, I did not know how to fill it back up.

Friday, Friday, fabulous Friday.  Seven am found one kid sick and one bouncing off the walls.  I had to turn that energy of his into something positive so we raked.

Hours of toiling over a yard smothered in leaves was surprisingly serene and beautiful.

Hours of toiling over a yard smothered in leaves was surprisingly serene and beautiful.

Well, I raked.  He de-raked, which wasn’t that big of a deal because let me tell you, exercise really is good for the soul.  I was loving the OCD-like methodology of dividing the yard into a quadrant of six . . .wait.  Wouldn’t that be a sextant? I guess not, but based on the mathematical (? Probably wrong there, too) fact that sex means six . . . anyway, it was smooth sailing for me.  My stress from the week was a meltin’ away.  I was even looking forward to mowing the whole yard after the leaves were gone, and wouldn’t you know it?  It was the mower that spoiled that fun for me.  That a-hole wouldn’t start.  All I wanted to do was mow the stinkin’ yard after the hours I spent raking all those leaves.  One would think that after the raking, my arm muscles would be bulging and pulling the mower rope would be a cinch, but sadly, no.  Hopefully none of my neighbors were within earshot of me muttering to the mower and myself, and thus doing my children no favors at all by my nonexistent approach to filtering myself and censoring my less-then-positive behaviors.

Soo, long story short, I’ll keep the griping and complaining to Fridays because we all know I’m going to do it anyway.  I might as well find the right outlet for it.

Love/Hate Top Five

As many stay-at-home mamas out there can agree, there is a definite love/hate relationship with the job that I think most women aspire to have.  While listening, once again, to my four-year-old’s incessant diarrhea of the mouth earlier today, I caught myself simultaneously hoping to stay home longer and hoping to get the heck out of Dodge asap.  I created a short pro/con list to assist me in my decision-making prowess.

The top five reasons I love my job:

1)   I get to hear everything my kids say. 

I really do love this – sometimes I overhear the older ones making plans about what game they are going to play outside and my heart melts a little at their collaborative kindness (“if we’re playing Hunger Games, no sissy fighting, okay?  Only real fighting.  Yeah, I know I made your nose bleed last time, but it’s not accurate if we don’t get hurt”).  Every once in a while I hear my four-year-old involved in playful chatting with his friends, the cat, or his toys . . . no matter who is on the other end of his soliloquy, he is full of vigor and passion for his topic.  Just this morning he was talking to the iPad about the game he was playing.  ‘Woohoo, I’m home.  It was cold out there.  Yay pirates.  It’s loading, that’s why I have to wait.  Oh, there you are.  I have a cold and I need a tuh-shoe.”  Who knew Siri was such a great listener?

2)   I do not have to be dressed well in order to do my job.

I can perform probably ninety percent of my job wearing pajamas.  Meh, scratch that. Ninety-five percent.  I technically could grocery shop in pajamas, though I try to be classier than that.  Oh, and I don’t grocery shop.  But I do wipe noses and butts, counters and toilets, floors and windows. Who wants to be wearing heels and a slimming cami while doing all that?

3) I perform nearly every aspect of my job when I want.

If I want to do laundry at ten pm, I do.  If I want to vacuum at seven am, I do.  If I want to wash dishes at midnight, I do. If I want to run to the post office while my kids eat dinner, shoeless and possibly shirtless in the backseat of the van, I do!  I wouldn’t suggest this, though, as the past few times it’s been attempted it has resulted in a messy van, crabby kids, and a closed post office. It’s a little exhilarating being able to freestyle like this.  My old boss wouldn’t let me behave this way.

4)   If I have a giant pimple, my kids are the only ones to see it. 

Need I say more about this, ladies?  We understand the importance of a little ignorance.

5)   If I have a sick day, I don’t have to be embarrassed to call in. 

If I’m sick, I can curl up in bed all day, not shower, blow my nose with no inhibitions . . . sleep when I need to . . .

The top five reasons I hate my job:

1)   I get to hear everything my kids say. 

Everything.  Every.  Thing.  The most disgusting things, like the little guy talking to Sissy tonight – “I have boogers.”  The most mundane – “And then Caden said hi and I walked down the hall and saw Merri at the library and she had a book . . . I can’t remember which one . . . wait Mom, I wasn’t done.  Then the teacher told us to get our books out and a pencil fell on the floor and I picked it up with the finger I slammed in the . . .” and I’m done.

2)   I do not have to be dressed well in order to do my job. 

Even in the middle of the day when a solicitor/FedEx delivery guy/neighbor knocks at the door.  How many times have I been caught in dirty pants (we’re talking food smears and cat hair all over), braless, and in a shirt with holes in it?  Too many I tell you!  I should probably try a little harder to be presentable at most working hours of the day.  It’s a bit damaging to my pride.

3)   I perform nearly every aspect of my job when I want. 

And in my world, that means if I don’t want to do it, then I don’t.  So most mornings I’m scrambling for clean pants with no holes for the big boys, or to make their lunches at the last minute, or doing four loads of laundry in one day.

4)   If I have a giant pimple, my kids are the only ones to see it. 

But while they are ignorant to many, many things, if they do end up noticing an imperfection, they don’t keep their comments to themselves as most adults do.

5)   If I have a sick day, I don’t have to be embarrassed to call in. 

Because I can’t call in.  That pretty little picture I painted about curling up in bed?  Yeah, that’ll never happen for longer than ten minutes, which is about the time frame in which the little one can go without a big orange juice or a snack.  And no, he can’t get it himself.  Unless I want to clean up another mess.

I’d say that after thinking it over, I’m still fifty percent sure I want a new job.

And fifty percent sure I don’t.

Feelin’ thirty-two

Yesterday was my birthday.  Thirty-two.  When I was twenty-two, that seemed so old. Not old like granny glasses and a housecoat, but old like granny panties and mom jeans.  I guess I wasn’t so far off with my one hundred percent cotton nude-colored hipsters and Wal-Mart jeggings.  At twenty-two, I thought anyone over the age of twenty-nine must have it all figured out – a house, insurance, fancy car, shiny hair, well-manicured nails, fashionably dressed kids and don’t get me started on responsibility (teachers!  Having to deal on a weekly/daily basis with teachers scared me to death!).  What I didn’t think about was that the process of aging had really begun way back then, and reared its ugly head right around the ripe, responsible age of thirty . . . and kept going.  It never occurred to me that I was going to age at all.  At one point around twenty-five I thought about using eye cream, then laughed at myself.  I’m not laughing anymore.  Shoulda coulda woulda. 

 As I sit here typing away with my semi-arthritic hands and dual carpal-tunnel syndrome (and the heating pad at my lower back), I glance at my brittle nails (one of which broke last night at this same keyboard) and admonish myself for not doing a better job keeping up with even the most minute beauty routines; after all, the more work you put in, the more you get out of a job well done.  I keep my toenails painted and wear makeup every day, but neither of these is done well.  As a matter of fact, I only recently found out that I was doing all my makeup backwards and incorrectly.  How do I get to be thirty-two without knowing that concealer goes on after the foundation?  Or that I should be wearing a primer before foundation as opposed to not at all?  Or that they (being the beauty powers that be) make something called eyebrow powder that one can brush into and on top of eyebrows to make sparse, fine brows look well kept?  Or that bronzer is a product that women use to look healthy and not just tanned.  And here I was thinking only Teresa from RHONJ used bronzer (and we all know she uses every other product out there, all at the same time and mostly on her eyes.  Will we ever get to see her sans makeup?).  

 As I blow dry my hair stick straight solely to make it look like I am at least attempting some semblance of “getting ready” and use hairspray only to tame my flyaways at my forehead to keep me from looking like Alfalfa, I am reminded that I am light years away from twenty-two (I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling thirty-two oooh-oooh ooh-ooh.).  No teasing, no braiding, no texturizing and no awesome products in this hair.  Not even a decorative barrette, unless you, like me, think a plain bobby pin is accessorizing.  And jewelry?  Only on rare occasions will I change my earrings from my small studs that exist to cover up the pierce holes to something a little more fancy, like the Meijer $3-on-clearance dangly rock-looking ones I seem to favor. 

 Don’t get me started on the difference in clothing, either.  I’ve never been a fashion horse, but I think there was a time in my mid-twenties when I had a little more self-respect.  Cute jeans, tighter shirts, heels.  Now?  The aforementioned jeggings are as fashionable as I get.  Sometimes I’ll wear a pushup bra.  And boots.  That’s hot. But not just a pushup bra and boots.  That’s not.  Shudder.  I recently caught sight of my not twenty-two-year-old body in the Kohl’s fitting room while I tried on cute dresses (no, I wasn’t having fun.  I was looking for a nice interview outfit in the hopes that I find a job).  Lo and behold, I must not have seen myself in a full-length mirror in years because guess what I was surprised with?  My thighs were folding over my knees (just there I originally typed knewws.  See the eww, as in, gross?  Subconsious disgust).  How did I go all summer wearing shorts and feeling semi-decent about myself with fat folds on my knees? (Jeez, did it again.  Knewws.  That’s what I’ll call ‘em from now on.)

 I’m old now.  Time for wrinkle creams, gloppy moisturizers and wearing a scarf on my head while I sleep to keep my fine, dry, elderly strands from breaking while I toss and turn with aches and pains.  No more time in the sun for me.  The last two summers have given me four wrinkles on my upper chest and a great many dirty birdy feet near my eyes.  I have melasma on my forehead and upper lip.  I can’t jump on the trampoline without feeling every ounce of my body jiggling around like pudding beneath my skin and without my back aching for hours.  I can wear only sensible shoes now – flats, flip-flops, clogs and slippers (and all in wides).  I tried wearing heels the other day for an important appointment and found myself carrying them while I walked through three levels of a parking garage in my pantyhosed feet (that dates me, too, doesn’t it?  Does anyone besides the Duchess of Cambridge wear pantyhose anymore?).

 Enter my cousin-in-law Mariah – a gorgeous gal and creator of the popular YouTube vlog, The Gal’s Guide (http://www.youtube.com/user/thegalsguide) – a guide for fashion, beauty and all things in between, it seems.  Picture a beautiful Barbie doll with brains, personality and all the beauty knowledge a single person could possibly have . . . and then some.  Just what a thirty-two-year-old mama needs to freshen her look when she needs it most.  My favorite tutorial of hers is her ‘no-makeup’ makeup look.  This is where I learned I am a four-year-old when it comes to beauty (watching her curl her eyelashes was a real eye-opener for me.  Pun intended).  Mariah is the epitome of fashionable.  Every video finds her looking flawless and effortlessly put together.  She is what I aspire to be in my down time (you know, when Hubby and I get to go on a date for about four hours every six months or so and pretend we are stylish and modern and young) and luckily for me, she gives lessons on how I can be just like her.  Her vlog is my new obsession.  Maybe she can add a little something about how she stays so thin, or how her skin is so perfect in the Florida sun and dry AC, or how a mama can do it all/have it all without missing a beat, or how . . . never mind, now I just sound jealous of her youth.

 The point, if there has to be one, is that one cannot turn back the hands of time. Luckily there are plenty of young women out there willing to help the elderly cross the road or apply foundation with a brush.