Monday, January 31, 2011

Yowza! The Things I Learn At Kroger!

I was in a time crunch on Saturday as I headed into the grocery store. I flew through the aisles and quickly grabbed the things I needed. It was crowded and I headed for the express checkout, praying that no one would call me out for having 17 items in the 15 items or less line.

As I loaded the last thing onto the counter, the man behind me suddenly spoke up: "Have you ever seen a man cheat on his wife?"

Nonplussed, I merely turned to look at him with what I'm sure was a deer-in-the-headlights face. My brain raced as I thought of how to respond.

Yo, dude that is the worst pick up line ever!.......
This guy can't be hitting on me. I'm old and look like hell. And he's older and looks worse!.......
Why, no, sir. I can't say that I have, but I don't go around asking people about the relationship status of the people that they are with......

Just as my brain decided to go with the last option, the man answered his own question. "Well you are seeing one today!"

My brain jolted, I cringed internally, and I willed myself not to say out loud what was clanging in my head--namely "EWWW Pervy Guy!! Get away from me!" The cashier and I exchanged glances that showed we were in solidarity with our thoughts.

Again, before I could answer, the man said, "My wife is out of town today and so I am taking to opportunity to cheat. Here's my mistress."

At this point, he pulled a carton of Edy's Somoas ice cream from his cart and put it on the counter. As the grin cracked over my face he said, "And I'm cheating on her with these," at which point he produced a rather large bag of Archway glazed oatmeal cookies.

While those are not my personal preferences for cheating (mine would be mint chocolate chip ice cream and Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies) I was greatly relieved that I was able to respond in a way that wouldn't make me look stupid.

"Well, why not?" I said. "In for a penny, in for a pound, right?"

He pointed to his wedding ring and told me that he took his vows very seriously. I agreed and might've told him that he was a righteous dude. I told him that I took my vows very seriously too and that if he had to cheat, well, this wasn't a bad way to go.

As I readied myself to pay my bill, the cashier looked at us both and breathed out a big sigh. "Whew!" she said. "I'm glad y'all worked that out. I was about to start freakin' out!"

We all agreed that if the only cheating that occurred in the world involved ice cream and cookies, the world would be a much different place indeed.

Now, I often strike up conversations with people when we are waiting in line, but this one? It will go down as one of the best by far.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Say What?

Mary came home from school with a feather. She was delighted with it. She had big plans for it. When we walked into the house, she went to the planning desk in the kitchen straightaway. This is where the computer is as well as being the home to several drawers full of kid junk and old phone books well organized school supplies and art materials.

After rummaging around in the drawers a bit, I saw her head to the table with a little plastic tube of mechanical pencil leads. My own head was busy with thoughts of preparing dinner, so I didn't pay much attention. Mary sat at the kitchen table fully absorbed in her project and I proceeded to bang around the kitchen opening and closing cabinets and doors hoping that some sort of dinner would magically appear.

As my head was in the pantry, Mary said, "Mom, do you have any ink?"

I was up to my elbows in canned soup and spaghetti noodles and wasn't really paying attention. "What?" I responded.

"Ink!" she said. "I need some ink!"

"Like for the computer or an ink pen? What do you need ink for?" I quizzed as I eyeballed her from the pantry.

"No," she said with a disparaging tone. "I want ink! You know....INK!! I tried putting these pencil things into my feather, but that didn't work. So I need ink so that I can dip my feather in it and write with it..."

Ah! The light bulb went on in my head.

" when you were a little girl."

Do you think if I share with her that we didn't use slates at school and we didn't ride dinosaurs she'll believe me?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

At Least The Axe Has A Home

I know that you all think that my light posting is because of my being all purge-y and that I'm probably headfirst in some closet throwing out shoes and sprinkling fairy dust to make it beautiful and shiny.

You are wrong. I have plans. It's just putting them into action that's giving me problems.

Yesterday I decided to run errands because SNOW IS COMING!! THERE WILL BE SNOW!! IT WILL ACCUMULATE!! STAY TUNED HOUR BY HOUR AS THIS STORM SHAPES UP AND WE WILL KEEP YOU ALERTED!! and I didn't want to have to drive around in THE SNOW!! with all of the frightened Hoosiers. (Okay. Probably need to rant about my hatred for weather reporting in this state in another post, right?) I didn't have much on my list. I needed to hit the bank and cash my kids' Christmas checks. I needed to find a shower caddy for the kids' bathroom. (Seriously. My boys have discovered Axe and we have about 7 different bottles of the stuff in the shower. Not to mention Maggie's 4 different razors, the enormous warehouse club shampoo and conditioner bottles, 4 different scrubbies, three Barbies, and a bottle of scented bath gel or 12. Bathing in there was getting treacherous.) I was also hoping to find a shower curtain for the kids' bath so that I could then find paint. I was looking around for--or at least be inspired by--some bedding for our master bedroom. I needed to head to Petco to get the dumb dog some food and tennis balls. All told, these errands should have taken me about an hour. Easy, right? Hit it and then get home and get busy, right?

Three hours, people. Three. And I have no one to blame but myself. I don't know why, but I can no longer make a decision. No, I must debate the merits and hem and haw and worry over the what ifs. Have mercy, Sara! It's a shower curtain, for the love of Pete! I think I took less time to decide my major in college than it's taking me to decide on a shower curtain.

I walked around looking at shower curtains longer than anyone should. When I found nothing to my liking, I headed to the bath caddies. And there, I found a wall full of them. This is why making decisions is so hard. I have too many choices. Do I want the floor to ceiling kind? Do I want the hang over the shower head kind? Do I want coated plastic? Stainless? Brushed steel? Copper colored? Three tiered? Two tiered? With or without hooks for washcloths? A saleslady walked by me three times while I was standing there and each time she asked me if I needed help. I do, but probably not the kind she was offering. Unless she has a degree in psychiatry. Then maybe she can help.

After finally making a selection (a three tiered, brushed steel, oversized caddy with slots for razors, hooks for scrubbies and washcloths, and suctions cups to help it stick to the wall!) I made my way to the bedding where I nearly burst into tears. Row after row of blankets, quilts, comforters, and duvet covers in every color, stripe, and pattern was there. And it was all quietly mocking me to just try to make a decision. Yeah. That didn't happen. I seemed to just sort of stumble around, glassy eyed and mutter things all while knocking stuff over with my giant, oversized shower caddy every time I turned around. (Carts. Who needs 'em?)

When I eventually made my way to the checkout, the saleslady--who managed to see and speak to me at least another six times--grinned at me, the way you would grin at someone whose elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor--and said, "Finally made your way around the store, eh?" See? I was there for a while. Seriously, though. That place was like "Hotel California." They say you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

It was like that every place I went. I took forbloodyever to make a decision and get what I needed. Also? At the bank, I forgot my own social security number. Sweet cracker sandwiches, I'm lucky they let me out unaccompanied!

So, no. I haven't done any purging or cleaning. The closets still need going through. Mary's room looks like a library exploded. My pantry has stuff in there from the Eisenhower era, and yo, I wasn't even born then, so that's saying something. Other than my family room, I have no window treatments anywhere in my house because I am paralyzed by indecision and the idea of all those windows is too overwhelming to think about so I just don't think about it. And the kids' bathroom is a special little circle of toothpaste encrusted hell which may require a jackhammer and some new drywall. There's plenty to be done, is what I'm saying.

But hey, at least if guests come over, I can show them the very well organized bottles of Axe in my lovely oversized, brushed steel shower caddy. That'll totally impress people, right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I'm not sure what it is about January that makes me crazy. Perhaps it's the letdown after the holidays. Maybe it's the weather that keeps me inside and induces a bit of cabin fever. Could be that I'm just a little bit tetched to begin with. Whatever it is, it seems that about this time in January, I can't stand my surroundings. I feel the urge to purge and the itch to rearrange.

And so it was that when my beloved took our children sledding on Saturday, I found myself in an empty house. I turned on the music and started cleaning. While I was moving the furniture in the family room to vacuum, I had the brilliant idea of rearranging it. In no time at all, my house was a mess. Worse than when I had begun because now I had furniture strung out willy-nilly between three rooms.

I moved the loveseat out of the family room and into the living room and replaced it with a chair and ottoman that had been in the living room. I moved tables and lamps. I grunted and shoved and sweated. I am fairly certain that I scared the dog with all of my grunting, shoving and sweating.

Happy with the family room and how it now seemed bigger, I found myself dissatisfied with the living room. It had too much furniture. This, however, was a problem quickly solved because back in early December, I had finally donated our underused formal dining room furniture. The plan is--apparently someday faaaaaaaar into the future when we've tackled the 3,726 other projects in this (not so) old house--to turn the dining room into a den of sorts where we can casually dine, yes, but also where we can study/craft/read. Right now all that is in the room is a desk/table on loan from my parents, two chairs that used to be in my kitchen, and a television that my husband was offered for free and that he couldn't turn down. Grrr...

(To be fair, the t.v. had been located in the loft and was set up for the kids to use for gaming. However, when we enclosed the loft and turned it into Mary's room, the basement wasn't finished--still isn't--and we couldn't put the t.v. there. So it wound up in our dining room along with our formal furniture. Nice.)

I decided that moving the loveseat into the former dining room made sense. My eldest son, James, thought that his own personal genie had granted his wish when he came home and saw the dining room. He didn't say one word. He just looked around the room with his jaw hitting the floor, grinned from ear to ear, and then came over and gave me a bear hug. It's the little things, y'all.

Seeing everybody's reaction after they came home was fabulous. You would have thought that I had completely redecorated using red velvet and black satin instead of just moving a couple pieces of furniture. Change: the thing my family least loves.

After the last couple of days of getting used to it, everyone seems to be taking the new arrangements in stride. And I have to admit, it's nice to actually use the dining room for something more than a warehouse for crap. The family knows, though, that when I get in a mood like this, nothing is sacred, nothing is safe. I will be burrowing into closets and digging in drawers and Goodwill will be seeing me on the donation side of things for a while.

I think they were all a little nervous about going back to school because they can't be sure what they'll find when they get home. And they're right, you never know what will end up in the back of the van.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How To Bring Them Back

In my last post, I shared some ideas on how I get my children to make themselves scarce. Now, there are definitely times that you need to have your children nearby--like when you need to get them to an appointment or you want them to do a job that they would normally hide from (like setting the table, taking out the garbage, and so on). So today, I will share some things that I have found can make my children magically appear from wherever they have hidden themselves.

1. Pop popcorn for yourself. I don't know exactly what magical qualities are in popcorn kernels, but somehow when they pop, something is released from within them that draws my children out of the woodwork.

2. Sit down to read a book. Not only does sitting quietly to read bring my offspring near, it makes them unusually talkative. Suddenly, I'm forced to reread the same sentence 20 times while being regaled with tales of broken crayons, Madden 11 stats, play-by-plays of WWE wrestling matches, or who broke up with who, when they did it, and what everyone in the vicinity was wearing.

3. Turn on your favorite television program. This will either guarantee the same results as #2 or it will cause a sudden outbreak of my children speaking Whinese because they really need to watch just one more cartoon, sporting event, wrestling match, or truly crappy reality show. *If you want to watch your children fall over themselves to get to your side, combine #1 and #3. This gives the added bonus of being able to see the looks on their faces as you tell them that you are now controlling the television and that you are consuming the last bag of popcorn. Double score!

4. Have a phone conversation. The minute you pick up your phone, you can be guaranteed of locating your children by either their immediate presence in front of you requesting your help in an emergent need--like what to have for a snack because they are starving, or you will locate them through the sound of their raised voices and body slams as they begin WWIII.

5. Bring in groceries. Nothing draws my children out faster than food. When they know that I've been shopping and they hear me come back in the house with the groceries, they are on me like white on rice. If I am feeling supremely cunning, I am able to wrangle help with the unloading and putting away of the groceries before they can snatch stuff and run off, but if I'm being honest, I'm only able to accomplish this about 25% of the time. Most of the time what happens is I bring in the groceries and then there is a loud noise and a rushing wind as my children run by and pillage the food and then disappear.

6. Say you are going for a walk. Any announcement that I'm about to go somewhere or do something by myself is nearly guaranteed to bring at least one child to my side with the question "Can I come too?" flowing from their lips.

7. Take a bubble bath. Take a bubble bath and have a book with you. Take a bubble bath with a book and a glass of wine. That my friends, will bring them flocking to your door.

8. Have a private conversation with your spouse. Any time my children hear us speaking in low tones, they are certain that their presence is required and that they must have all access to the conversation.

9. Start tickling one child. If you really, really need all of your offspring to come to you posthaste, I cannot recommend this one highly enough. All I have to do is start tickling one child, and suddenly I am irresistible. The only drawback to this one is that it often leads to dogpiles in which I am the bottom dog and possible loss of bodily fluids because I end up laughing so hard I almost wet myself.

Well, it's almost time to fold some laundry. Maybe I should check to see if I have any popcorn first.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sara's Surefire Tips for Shooing Away Offspring

Sometimes I find myself wanting a little quiet time away from my children. Smart as they are, however, my children are oblivious to subtle hints and oblique suggestions. Through trial and error, I have arrived at a varied list of things that are sure to make my children vacate the area that I want to myself. Because, as I may have stated before, I am a giver, I will share them with you. And if you have found a way to make your children vamoose, please, share. I am always looking to add to my repertoire.

1. Turn on music that is not to their liking. In my home, classical, opera, and anything recorded before 2002 qualifies.

2. Sing. Sing loudly. Sing loudly and off key. Sing something from #1 loudly and off key.

3. Ask someone to do a task. The tasks that clear the room most quickly around our house are, in no particular order: setting the table, clearing the table, taking out the garbage, cleaning the bathrooms, taking the dog outside.

4. Kiss your spouse. Don't just give them a little peck, really lay one on them. If you want to make sure that your children stay gone for a good length of time and you wish to scar them a little bit, grab your spouse's booty. Works every time. (This is my go-to of choice to make all four children instantly disappear and gross them out. Two birds, one stone. I just need to make sure I keep adding to their therapy jars...)

5. Begin rambling about what life was like when you were younger. I have found that while this doesn't always make them leave the area, it does cause my children to go into a sort of temporary catatonic state wherein they tune me out and are only corporeally present and not so much mentally present. In other words, they turn on their selective attention and optional hearing and suddenly I am alone in a crowd.

6. Say you are going to the grocery store. You must be cautious and judicious with this one, however. At least one of my children actually likes going to the store, so I have to make sure that I only use this one when she is otherwise occupied.

7. Ask for a foot rub. It's creepy, but it works.

8. Say that you are getting ready to get in the car for church or some other important event or appointment. I don't know why, but this announcement has the opposite effect than the one you intended when you made the announcement. Rather than everyone making their way to the automobile, suddenly they scatter all over the house. It's like herding cats.

9. Ask lots of questions. The questions that work best vary depending on the age and gender of my children, but these are some that clear them out or quiet them down: What did you do at school? Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Did you get in trouble today?

10. Hug and kiss them. This is most effective when they have friends around and you want the area to yourself. Although sometimes just threatening to lay a big, lipsticky kiss on them is enough to watch them scatter.

So there you have it--Sara's Surefire Tips for Shooing Away Offspring. The next time you are craving a little time to yourself try one out and see how it works.* Now, excuse me, but I want to watch some television and my children are bothering me. I think I'll go make out with my beloved and watch them flee.

*The author is not responsible for the effectiveness of these tips as children's tolerance for opera, kissing, foot rubbing, and chores may vary.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Love Thursday: Loving Myself

You know how when you are on board an aircraft and the crew explains that if the oxygen masks drop, adults should put their mask on before they place the masks on their children? There is a good reason for that. If the adult doesn't care for himself first, then it's possible he won't be able to care for the children later as he will be deprived of oxygen.

Lately I have felt deprived of my own sort of oxygen. If you are a parent or a spouse, you know how easily this happens. Your kids need you. You have obligations. Your spouse has needs, too. You spend so much time caring for others that you put yourself on the back burner and pretty soon, you are not much good at taking care of anyone.

I know it's January and this is the time that people make resolutions. I don't do resolutions. But I do like to be mindful at this time of year about things in my life that I'd like to see happen. And right now, the thought that keeps popping into my head is about loving myself as well as I love my family. So in that vein, I have decided to make sure that I do something for myself more often. Maybe it's taking a walk by myself. Maybe its saying "no" to something I really don't want to do. Maybe it's saying "yes" to something else. Maybe it's spending time with friends who support and encourage me. Maybe it's taking time alone with my husband to enjoy his company without interruptions. And maybe it's spending time looking through a lens.

I don't think the activity matters. I think it's the idea that I am as worthy of my time as my family is that matters. It's hard to say it, for sure. It feels a little wrong and selfish. But I think that those feelings are a lie--a trap of sorts--that women in particular have been swallowing whole. I know for certain that I am better able to mother and that I am a more giving spouse when I have taken care of myself.

So that's it then. I want to take better care of myself so that I can love others better. How about you? Is your oxygen mask on?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Listen. Do you hear that? It's the sound of silence and it is delicious. Don't get me wrong, I love my children. It's just that after two weeks of banging, stomping, slamming, rummaging, running, screeching, yelling, laughing, and requests to be fed yet again, my ears are ready for a break.

The kids headed back to school yesterday and I spent a good chunk of the day either making out the grocery list, shopping for the groceries, or putting the groceries away. My children, they eat. A lot. And then I ended the day with a migraine, natch, so all in all it wasn't how I'd planned on spending their first day back in school.

Today, however, I am going to tackle the dining room. Or what used to be the dining room before we gave our dining room furniture away. Now it's a catch-all room and it holds what we emptied out of the mudroom so the cubbies--the beautiful, lovely, wonderful cubbies--could be built. In other words, much like me, it's full of crap.

Yes, it's full of crap and it must be dealt with. So I will be trying to organize stuff and figure out where it will go. I really have to be in the mood to organize and I'm not but I will do it anyway. This is similar to how my offspring are feeling about school right now, I'm sure. Poor babies.

I'm enjoying the silence right now while I can. Because later, as I'm sifting through all the crap junk endless piles of whatintheworldisthis necessary and completely useful stuff, I'm sure I'll be filling the silence with muttering and uttering words that I can't write here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Am A Whiner And It's All Good.

I have told my children for years that whining won't get you anything you want. In fact, whining will probably get you a whole lot of two things: nothing and trouble. It would appear that I am, in fact, a big fat liar.

You know why? Because whining got me this:

This is what all the pounding (and sawing and measuring and extra trips to the home improvement store) was for. I whined enough about 2oo metric tons of crapola in my mudroom. I bemoaned the lack of storage. I wailed about the inadequate coat pegs. I whimpered about having no place for the children to put their backpacks, shoes, boots, lunch bags, mittens, hats, cleats, knee pads, helmets, baseball gloves and all the other detritus of childhood. And all of that whining, moaning, wailing and whimpering paid off!! (Note to self: Begin whining about kitchen stove and counter tops, unpainted rooms, and flooring that needs replacing.)

My beloved and my father spent several days last week constructing the cubbies in our mudroom and I am beside myself, absolutely giddy, with glee over them.

I used to dream of having a mudroom. Our old house had a one-butt room--like a closet--that you walked through from the garage. It held our washer and dryer and coat rack and other shelving as well. Anytime you walked through, it was impossible to do it without knocking coats off the wall. It drove me crazy. It was dark and cramped and awful.

When we walked through this house I nearly refused to leave the mudroom. It's double windows, ample space, and laundry sink nearly made me weep. I remember standing in that room, before seeing any of the rest of the house and saying "We are buying this house! I don't care about the rest of it. Buy it! Now!"

And then, after living here awhile, the mudroom drove me berserk because it was just a room with two shelves and a pegged shelf. I don't have any before pictures, because I am too stupid to live, but this might help you:

And now? Now I have this!!

My children are even happy. (I know, crazy, right?) Today they said, as they were hanging up their coats after church, "Ooooh! I have lots of hooks!" and "Man! I can hang a coat, no, TWO coats, a back pack and still have hooks left over," and "Wow! Now company has a place to hang their coats!"

I still need to get another basket for one of the kids because I didn't have enough (these were baskets I already owned) and possibly some kind of tray or liner for where the boots/shoes go, but I cannot complain about one thing. Even the stiffness in my old, out of shape body after I spent four hours painting it. All totally worth it. Sometimes I just go stand in the mudroom and gaze at it and sigh.

Also? It's apparently a really awesome place to hide and scare the bejeebers out of your mother when she is taking the dumb dog outside.

Guilty parties in pink pajamas should watch their little backs.

Now, if you'll pardon me, I have to go sit on the cubbie bench and dream of the next project to whine about.