Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Love...(continued)

I love...

...driving the boys home from football practice with the windows down and blasting "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" by the Beastie Boys and singing along at the top of our lungs.

...having the windows open on these cool evenings and smelling wood smoke.

...teasing Maggie about her love life (such as it is in 8th grade) and her fickleness (don't get me wrong, I applaud fickleness in 8th grade) and watching her blush.

...the great big hugs I get from Mary and her classmates when I see them in the halls at school.

...the phone calls from my husband when he is on the road and how we discuss the small things about our daily life. It makes me feel more connected to him.

...watching the dog dream. I love how her feet move like she's running and how she has these muffled little barks and yelps. Cracks me up.

...that there are only a few more weeks of football left. Those white football pants are starting to take a toll on me. I can justify having popcorn as a meal because "I am an adult."

...that Sean still wants to hold my hand when we are walking somewhere. Maggie still calls me "mommy" when she is feeling happy.

...watching James swagger on field with his buddies at football practice. It's like catching sweet glimpses of the future man he will become.

...that Mary has grown her hair long enough to wear in a little ponytail but that she can't stand the way it feels after a few hours and always takes it out. I'm thinking of starting a pool with the teachers to see how long she'll have it in each day.

...that my parents are coming for a visit. It's been too long since we've seen them and we are all looking forward to them being here.

What do you love?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Letters To The Past: What I Wish I Could Tell My 13 Year Old Self

Dear Sara,

You are all right. You need to know that no matter what they show on the outside, just about everyone lacks confidence in themselves at one time or another--even the pretty or popular kids. When you are thirteen, half of the game is believing that you are all right. The other half is making other people believe it.

You know what else? There is nothing wrong with being smart; learn, grow, question, thrive. There is also nothing wrong with letting other people see your smarts. Beauty fades and popularity wanes, but knowledge will last a lifetime.

On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with "not getting it." It's okay to ask questions. It's okay to fail--just don't let failure define you. Use your failures as a springboard to learning more or learning better. People who give you a hard time about failure either a) haven't experienced it yet, or b) are jack-asses because at one time or another, everybody fails. It's not failing, it's what you do with your failures that count.

And hey, you know that girl? The one who is your friend but talks about you behind your back and flirts with the boy you told her you liked? NOT your friend. Now is the time to figure out how to treat your friends and to decide how you want to be treated.

And those boys? Treat them nicely--ALL of them--even the ones who like you but you'd never dream of "going out with." Remember, what goes around comes around. (Or what comes around goes around. I never can remember that.) Either way, kindness counts, and how you treat people will be remembered for a long time.

And your parents? They are not as dumb or old or out of touch as you think they are. I promise. They really are in your corner. They really do love you. They really want what's best for you. They really were kids once. They really do understand you.

Be good to yourself. You are smart. You are smarter than you give yourself credit for. You are pretty. Someday you will look back at yourself and wonder what you were thinking when you thought you weren't. You are talented. Don't be afraid to share your talents. Don't be afraid to be yourself, even if it's different--especially if it's different--from everybody else. It's okay to fit in, but it's okay to stick out too.

In ten years, most of this stuff--the ins and outs of every day--and very many of these people will not matter.

Hey. Everything is going to be all right. You are all right.

Hang in there,
Sara at 42

Monday, September 27, 2010


We are in the midst of a very dry season, here in Central Indiana. I haven't seen the latest weather report, but the last time I checked, the graphic they were using to show how dry things are around here, the drought line was creeping ever closer.

There have been field fires almost daily. There are bans on open burning in nearly 50 counties, including ours. The temperatures have been high, the humidity low, the winds strong, and the rain non-existent.

So of course on Saturday night, the first cool evening of the season, we decided to roast marshmallows. In our patio fireplace. Right out there in the open. Where we weren't supposed to be burning stuff. We live on the edge, y'all.

It was fun and sticky.

We were extra careful, keeping the hose handy. We didn't need it for the fire, but I was pretty close to hosing down a couple of the kids before allowing them into the house.

Yes. We are scofflaws. Scofflaws with extra giant marshmallows (seriously--they were twice the size of the regular big marshmallows. A hamster could have used them for a pillow!) that were begging to be roasted. I dare you to have a package like that sitting on your counter and then tell your children that you were just kidding, you weren't really going to use them for roasting, you were just keeping them there for looks.

That's what I thought. You'd be joining me in my jail cell. Outlaws. All of you.

*To be fair, we did call the city and received no answer. Then my husband stopped by the nearest fire house to ask if we could use our patio fireplace and found it empty, so we just made an executive decision that the marshmallows could indeed be roasted as long as we kept the hose handy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alive And Kicking

Sort of. I am, indeed, alive. As for the kicking part, maybe not so much. I might kick, but then I would require a two hour nap.

The reason I haven't posted since last week is that posting requires energy, coherence, and being in a vertical, upright position. You may remember that I have been fighting a cold for well over three weeks. Well, it seems that everything converged to cause a perfect storm on my immune system and I woke up Saturday feeling feverish and like someone punched me in the throat. And because I am kind, I won't mention the buckets of yellow snot copious amounts of nasty coming from my sinuses and lungs.

A quick trip (and by "quick" I mean long, torturous, and filled with shivering chills and uncomfortable chairs) to urgent care confirmed that I had strep coupled with an upper respiratory infection. I have antibiotics and a cough medicine that looks and tastes like poison, but because it contains hydrocodone, it not only works well and lets me sleep, it also keeps me from caring that I look like Death's older sister. Interestingly, this medicine has the word "tussin" in its name which has been a great source of humor for me at a time where humor has been pretty absent. Why? Because it reminds me of Chris Rock's routine about Robitussin cough medicine. (Seriously. Go to youtube and check it out. Still cracks me up.) My beloved and I still quote this routine when one of us isn't feeling well. Apparently Tussin is a miracle cure-all. After having this prescription, I believe it.

I am feeling better than I did even yesterday, but my energy has fled. I went to the store this morning for milk and bread. I came home and slept for two hours afterward. Obviously I haven't been to work. I can't manage to walk from the couch to the bathroom without needing a nap. First graders would kill me. This is the first time since Friday that I've even had the energy to think about sitting at the computer. The idea of writing didn't even occur to me. I had to talk myself into getting up to pee, so believe me, blogging was way down on my list of priorities. Really I think I was mostly saving my energy to whisper the words "kill me" to anyone within hearing distance.

My house is a wreck. My laundry has taken over. I have enough dog hair on my floor to make a boom for another oil disaster. My kitchen is buried under papers, dirty dishes, and recycling. Guess what? I don't care. You know why? Because caring requires energy and I need all my energy for blowing my nose.

Okay. So now that I've told you why I've been absent and reassured you that I am indeed, alive, but definitely NOT pretty, I'm going to go sleep. All of this typing has worn me out.

I think I'll go do a comparison study to see if that Tussin is as effective in the daytime as it is at night. I'm all about using my body in the service of science.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Love**

I love:

---the smell of the air after a rainstorm.

---waking early and then remembering it's Saturday and I can sleep in a little.

---the smell of sawdust. It reminds me of my dad's workshop and makes me feel 8 years old again.

---snuggling with my youngest children and the unexpected bear hugs I get from my older ones.

---watching the dog tear around the house when she has the "zoomies" and then the subsequent full-body flop she does when she's worn herself out.

---receiving good, old fashioned snail mail.

---laughing in bed at night with Patrick as we talk about the "stuff" of our lives.

---the rare evenings when everyone can be around the dinner table at the same time and nobody has any place they have to be. Dinner is relaxed and easy and there is usually plenty of laughter.

---how Kristen and her family from We Are THAT Family are taking a big leap of faith and doing something to make a difference in the lives of God's children in Africa.

---watching all the butterflies and bees that have gathered on my sedum as I sit on my patio in the evening. Butterflies (and birds) just make me joyful.

---the excitement that comes when I'm starting something new--a new book, the beginning of a trip, a new project.

What do you love?

**This post was shamelessly stolen from Karen at Chookooloonks and Mir at Woulda Coulda Shoulda. I love both of their blogs with their spectacular photography and writing and just all around awesomeness.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Did You Do All Day?

I used to get a little irritated when my beloved would ask me what I did all day. We might be sitting down to a meal with our children and everyone would be reporting on their day and my husband would look at me and say "And how was your day? What did you do all day?"

Now, I know that deep down, he meant it in a kind and loving way and was just including me in the conversation. But the insecure, bored, tired-of-the-laundry mama of little ones would feel a kick to the ego and would often come back with a snarky comment.

As my children have grown, the list of things that occupy my time has changed from chasing toddlers and changing diapers and making sure that all of my offspring stayed alive from moment to moment to things like driving children to practices and movie theaters and working part time. Less stress about choking hazards, but still stressful. And sometimes the stress is all mental; things like "who is Child X meeting at the movie theater?" and "did Child Y get enough studying done for Super Hard Class?" and "did Child Q offend one of our neighbors?" My life is not all rainbows and unicorns since my children are older, is my point.

Today, my beloved called me from the road and in the course of the conversation he used those six words: "What did you do all day?"

Without missing a beat and hardly stopping for air I said:

I woke up, showered, and dressed, took the dog out and fed her, said goodbye to the oldest child while taking note of what she was wearing in case I might need to report it to the police in an emergency. I asked the second child if he'd remembered to brush his teeth and countered his sarcastic remark with a sarcastic remark of my own while emptying the dishwasher and making two lunches. I bid him goodbye and forced him to hug me while reminding him to take it easy on his injured knee. Then I battled to get third child out of bed because he didn't want to go to school. As I was helping fourth child get dressed, brush teeth, and comb hair, I argued the merits of an education with third child. After getting third and fourth children downstairs, I made them breakfast while loading the dishwasher and scheduling a doctor appointment for first child. Then I took the dog out, guaranteeing that she wouldn't have a repeat of Poop-Gate: The Turds of Doom in the house again while coaxing the children to gather their backpacks and lunch bags. I dropped third child off at the bus stop and waved to the neighbor who always pretends not to see me while calling "have a spectacular day, unfriendly neighbor!" through the closed windows.

I made it to work 15 minutes before I was to officially start work so that I could get things done before the duties that I'm required to do made it impossible to get these other things done. (Not complaining here, just stating fact. Sometimes I need to get there a little early or stay later than I'm officially paid because there's work to do and if I only do it during my paid time, it would never get done.) Then I corralled, cajoled, corrected, admonished, admired, attended to, laughed with, led, and listened to 24 first graders. I supervised and cleaned up after two lunch shifts. I battled both the copy machine and a stubborn stapler. (I am happy to report that I won both battles, although it was a little dicey for awhile.) I waved goodbye to 24 students, got hugs from two and captured blown kisses from one more.

After leaving work, I ran two errands and made it home in time to eat a cheese stick and some couscous while phoning first child's school to tell them that I'd be picking her up early for a doctor's appointment. I took the dog out and made happy noises at her so she wouldn't feel neglected while I checked email, verified football practice times, and cruised school websites for events calendars and homework. Then I went to get first child and ferried her to a doctor's appointment for her injured ankle. (Who knew that band class could be so dangerous? Seriously. That is some talent to injure an ankle during band. Not marching band, mind you, concert band.) After the doctor recommended x-rays, we stood around killing precious time while we waited for the office staff to figure out which printer the orders were coming from. Then I hustled first child back to our neighborhood for her afternoon babysitting job, hovering just over the speed limit so that she could get there to meet the kids at their bus.

As I walked in our house, fourth child was dropped off by our carpooling friends. I met her at the door with a hug, took her gear, and was rustling up a snack for her while second child peppered me with questions about first child's ankle. Meanwhile third child came in the door and immediately said he wasn't attending football practice because football was stupid. I debated the merits of football and its relative "stupidness" while washing out drink coolers and gathering up cleats and pads. Then I threw some chicken nuggets (where exactly is the nugget on the chicken, anyway?) in the microwave while checking email and Facebook (priorities, here, people!). As children two, three, and four were eating and I was checking homework folders and cleaning out lunchboxes, child one came home from babysitting. First child then asked "What's for dinner?" causing me to temporarily lose consciousness due my head exploding and my brain melting. When I came to, I informed her that she could eat whatever she could make and eat on the fly, as we were getting ready to go to football and then the imaging center for her x-ray.

After getting everyone in the car and having my eardrums blown out from a very loud, screaming argument that children three and four were having over the placement of fourth child's car seat, I managed to put the car in gear while mediating the argument so that we wouldn't all asphyxiate from the fumes in the garage. Then I very kindly threatened to make children run to the exit to the neighborhood if they didn't shut their big, sweet mouths. After dropping second child at his practice, first child and fourth child hit the playground. Third child and I did homework in the van. Then fourth child needed to use the bathroom. I helped third child finish his homework and get his gear on while telling first child that I was taking fourth child across the street to the gas station. After hearing fourth child talk about the similarities of gas station bathrooms for longer than anyone should, we headed back to the field, got third child to practice and then I took first child and fourth child to the imaging center.

First child sat slumped in a chair--motionless and dejected--after being told at the imaging center that she needed to turn her cell phone off. I sat with fourth child on my lap and answered 367 questions about what was going on and why we were there while checking first child in. After 20 minutes, first child's name was called and she was gone for 5 minutes. In those 5 minutes, fourth child and I took turns reading a book about Mickey and Goofy skiing in the Alps with Mickey's nephews Morty and Ferdie. (I cannot make this stuff up, folks.)

As I drove first child and fourth child home, I played Tweeter with a cheating first child while explaining why I wouldn't stop at a fast food restaurant when there was plenty of food at home. After dropping those two off at home with instructions to feed the dog and take her out, I headed back to the football field.

When I got there, I saw Clean Your Windows Neighbor. I walked up to her and started chatting, forcing her to talk with me like neighbors are supposed to do. After doing that for a very uncomfortable 15 minutes, I ran to the other field to get second child and then brought him back to third child's field where practice was wrapping up. Then I drove a very smelly van full of two very hungry boys back home while they called my beloved so that they could report about their practice.

After arriving home, I fixed yet another dinner for children two and three, got fourth child into the tub, looked through my children's book library for books by a certain author to take into school, started a load of laundry, took out recycling, checked homework, picked up the family room, checked the lunch calendar, took the dog out, and got out my clothes for work tomorrow.

"So you know. Not much. The usual," I told my beloved. "And what did you do all day?"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ten Percent

You remember my Life List? Well, I have been steadily working my way through number 17--taste 100 different labels of wine. I hit(? drank? slogged through? quaffed?) my 10th wine, meaning I have finished 10% of the total for that particular item.

Meet #10: Oliver Camelot Mead.

It has not been my favorite, by any means, as it leans toward the very sweet. It is, after all, made with honey, so yeah, there's some sweet. But I felt I would be remiss if I only stuck to Pinot Grigio, which as you shall see, I have leaned heavily toward this summer. (Hey! It's summer! I like a nice light wine in the summer. But don't you worry. Fall is coming. Reds are on their way!) I am trying (okay, I'm going to start trying) very hard to get out of my comfort zone and try some different wines.

The problem comes when I don't particularly care for the bottle and I've only had one glass. What do I do with all that's left? Any ideas? (Because I have a feeling that I'm going to need some for what's left of this mead. Just sayin'.)
A run down of the labels 1-10:
1. Gabbiano Pinot Grigio (Um, YUM!)
2. Three Blind Moose Pinot Grigio (Easily a go-to wine)
3. Little Black Dress Pinot Grigio (Light, but a little bitter to my taste)
4. Crane Lake Pinot Grigio (Nice)5. Rex Goliath Pinot Grigio (Also good)
6. Pacific Rim Pinot Grigio (Not bad for a screw top!)
7. Oliver Mango Honey Wine (Thank goodness I had a friend to help me with this one. I let her have her share and mine too.)
8. Lagaria Pinot Grigio (I don't remember this one. And no, it's not because I drank too much of it! I've just forgotten it. Shut up.)
9. Kendal Jackson Chardonnay (Like buttah, baybee)
10. Oliver Camelot Mead (Any ideas for leftover mead?)

100 different labels seems awfully ambitious right now.Okay, my friends, it's your turn. Help a girl out. Any suggestions for bottle 11? Or 12? Or 13?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Mary begged me to come out and take her picture with the happy face balloon that was left over from her big sister's egg drop project. I happily obliged.

When I came outside I found her perched on top of the large, steaming, stinky pile of mulch that had been left in our driveway (at the butt-crack of dawn on Saturday by a loud, equally stinky dump truck, I might add) so that my beloved could finally, after talking about it for months work like a madman to mulch our desperate landscape.

What? Don't your kids usually climb to the top of a rotting, smelly heap of hardwood to have their portraits made?

Monday, September 6, 2010

It Was An Egg-stra Special Weekend

Maggie's science class is doing an egg drop. Each student must design a package that will allow an egg to be dropped from 20.3 feet and survive the fall without cracking or breaking. Then she has to write a paper documenting her data and procedures.

Guess what I got to help work on this weekend? To be fair, all I really did was hot glue straws inside a tissue box because I thought it might be important for my firstborn to retain her fingerprints. It's not so important for me--I've already burned half of mine off in previous hot glue gun incidents. I could totally commit a crime and leave no fingerprint evidence. But I digress...

Maggie came up with the design--including using the rather ingenious idea of cushioning the egg between two rolls of streamers.

(The students were given a list of materials that they were not allowed to use, including: cotton balls, bubble wrap, Nerf balls, marshmallows or peanut butter. Really peanut butter? Someone has a much more creative mind than I.)

After putting the box together

we headed outside to have Patrick launch it from the roof.

Okay, from a ladder. I cannot quibble. This picture gives me the heebie-jeebies. I cannot tell you how many times I said "be careful, don't fall" while he was up on that ladder.

It fell.

And then Maggie and I went inside to take the package apart and see how the egg fared.


Okay, so I didn't get my house completely clean over the weekend. But at least now I know how to safely package an egg.

Also, why didn't I get to do fun stuff like this in science? Lucky kids. They don't know how good they have it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oh CL, How Do I Love Thee?

Dear Craigslist,

I don't know what to say. You know that I call you "Crack's List" for a couple of reasons. First, I am certain that a good number of the people posting their 1970's fiberboard furniture and asking $700 for it are only doing it because they are either on crack at the moment of posting, or they have previously indulged in the substance and have crack-addled brains and are not aware that they are asking ridiculous prices for crappy furniture.

I also call you "Crack's List" because you are addicting. While I get wildly frustrated looking through your overpriced postings on furniture, I am also amused by the crack-addled brains and the listings they write. Do you understand the sheer entertainment value of reading about someone's "Chester Drawers: four draws. Reel wood. Vintage. Some minor damage from where my dog chewed on it $350 FIRM" or "ENTERTANEMENT ARMIOR: Bearly used. Heavy wood not that cheep stuff. You must haul and I cant help load it cuz i hav a bad back. $500 obo."? That alone would keep me coming back.

But the fact that every 25th posting has something that is priced well, written by someone who has passed 8th grade English, and has, oh, I don't know, something that I might actually consider buying and doesn't look like it was rescued from a curb on garbage day keeps me coming back.

Sometimes, though, Craigslist, I get frustrated with you and your overpriced, crappy furniture, bad grammar ways and then I stay away. I just simply refuse to look or be taken in.

But sometimes? Well, sometimes, dear, dear Craigslist, you come through with something like this:
and then, even though I drove through Egypt to get there and had to move 300 lbs. of heavy wood, I fall back in love with you all over again.

And so, Crack's List, you may call me yours forever.