Category: Squalling Infant

Actions speak louder

IMG_0301I say “I love you,” to my kids so often I’m sure they don’t hear it anymore. Well, to be honest, they don’t hear much of what I say these days. I can give a direction five times before anyone even acknowledges it.

But I persevere. I’m a doer, so I’m convinced that the little things I do will cut through the fog and instill themselves as some kind of ghost memory of my love in the minds of my kids.

Am I dreaming? Maybe. But if you think about all the annoying things you do just because you love your kids it gets to be a pretty long list.

No one who didn’t love you would do this:

  • Cut up a mango. It’s a giant pain.
  • Go to Chuck E. Cheese or one of its for-the-younger-set counterparts.
  • Change a diaper. Any diaper.
  • Use $10 in gas so you can go to a job that will pay you $40.
  • Invite a friend to be the 6th at dinner when I only made enough food for five.
  • Host a sleepover with more than two children at it.
  • Let you eat in the car.
  • And while we’re at it, prepare a homemade meal whose primary asset is that it was designed to be eaten in the car…
  • …but skip dinner myself to drive you to your activity.
  • Watch The Teletubbies while sober.
  • Drive you to school in my pajamas.
  • Pay your phone bill.
  • Volunteer at a school event that requires me to produce an attractive and educational display…
  • …or carve a map of Africa out of a pan of brownies.
  • Spend the afternoon in a wet bathing suit.
  • Play the same children’s CD in the car, every day, for a year.
  • Make a 5-hour round-trip for the sole purpose of adopting a stray cat.

I could probably stay at this list all day. But I need to go drive some people around.

What’s the most annoying thing you do for your kids?

Read some other perspectives on love or link up at The Wounded Dove.


Good-bye 2013 – a tribute to the passing of the seasons

One of my favorite blogging goddesses suggested a 2013 retrospective. “What a good idea!” I thought. “Then I don’t have to come up with any original material today!” Anyway, here is my tribute to the passing of the seasons as we head into the new year.

One sad-looking inventory – a late-winter’s lament – in which I describe the horrendous state of my children’s outerwear and really offer no useful advice at all.

The work-at-home personnel manual – A few guidelines for the parent who works at home and is blessed with the presence of their children. All. Summer. Long.

Are you really in the weeds? An ode to my favorite season, Weeding. Is that a season?

…and the changing of the seasons – How do you measure change? I measure it by what is in my car.

And finally, a salute to the current season, and I’ll guess you can figure out just what I’m saluting with. 9 things to hate about winter

Happy New Year to all – and a sincere thanks to all who read and comment. You are truly a blessing to me. It keeps my cynicism (just barely) at bay.

A Christmas decorating don’t

Alert: This tip could save your reputation!

One year as I shopped the frenzied post-Christmas markdowns, I happened across a  store selling off all its leftover Christmas lights for about two dollars a string.

“Score!” I thought. They were a little picked over but there were plenty of festive red lights so I bought a few boxes. Most of the lights I owned were shot, and I love a lot of lights on a tree.

The following year, I painstakingly strung four long strings of lights on our tree and plugged it in. It looked fantastic! All those sparkly red lights! Feeling a rare sense of domestic pride, I hauled out the ornaments and the kids and I decorated the tree.

I left the room and the kids flipped off the lights to enjoy the sight. That’s when I noticed a nearly atomic-red glow from the other room. “Hmmm,” I thought, “That glow could get a little annoying.”

heartThen I glanced out the kitchen window and realized that the red light was emanating from the house, the shocking color reflecting off the snowy yard. It looked like a…like a…bordello. No two ways around it.

After my hysterical laughter died down, I realized that I was going to have to remove all the ornaments to restring the lights. What a pain! Fortunately, I am the queen of shortcuts. Aided by a trip to the hardware store, a glass of wine, and an additional hour, I interspersed a couple of strings of white lights with the red ones. The white light cut the red glare just enough to save my reputation…and the time it would have taken to remove and rehang the ornaments with three young kids.

So let the buyer beware – if you’ve got your eye on those bargain red lights, make sure to include a few white ones.

It’s almost here! I’m participating in the Blogfestivus challenge sponsored by the blogging goddess at Blogdramedy – 5 days, 5 posts, 200 words. Please stop by Monday to read my first post.

12 days of Christmas – a redux

I confess – to me, the run-up to the holidays feels like one long to-do list. With my apologies to the original, I’ve adapted a favorite carol that you can sing, too. If you want to prolong the agony, repeat the refrain until you are so desperate to finish you’ve quadrupled the tempo.

(Not based on actual events. Ahem.)

On the first day of Christmas, I desperately backordered one hot holiday toy.

On the second day of Christmas I guiltily regifted two cute but useless knick-knacks.

(2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the third day of Christmas I  waited in the post office behind three really slow people.

(3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the fourth day of Christmas I went to a party, and consumed four unusually strong eggnogs.

(4 strong eggnogs, 3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the fifth day of Christmas I absently bought FIVE TEACHER GIFTS!

(4 strong eggnogs, 3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the sixth day of Christmas as time was running out, I bought six last-minute Kringles.

(6 last-minute Kringles, 5 TEACHER GIFTS! 4 eggnogs, 3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the seventh day of Christmas I cleaned up my house and stuffed things in seven different closets.

(7 stuffed closets, 6 last-minute Kringles, 5 TEACHER GIFTS! 4 eggnogs, 3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the eighth day of Christmas I made myself some tea, and wrapped eight oddly-shaped  packages.

(8 odd packages, 7 stuffed closets, 6 last-minute Kringles, 5 TEACHER GIFTS! 4 eggnogs, 3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the ninth day of Christmas I wrote a Christmas letter, and rejected nine unflattering family photos.

(9 family photos, 8 odd packages, 7 stuffed closets, 6 last-minute Kringles, 5 TEACHER GIFTS! 4 eggnogs, 3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the tenth day of Christmas I did my Christmas baking, and ate ten slightly singed cookies. 

(10 singed cookies, 9 family photos, 8 odd packages, 7 stuffed closets, 6 last-minute Kringles, 5 TEACHER GIFTS! 4 eggnogs, 3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the eleventh day of Christmas I spent on groceries what felt like eleven hundred dollars.

(11 hundred dollars, 10 singed cookies, 9 family photos, 8 odd packages, 7 stuffed closets, 6 last-minute Kringles, 5 TEACHER GIFTS! 4 eggnogs, 3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

On the twelfth day of Christmas I awkwardly arranged twelve ugly, scraggly spruce tops.

(12 scraggly spruce tops, 11 hundred dollars, 10 singed cookies, 9 family photos, 8 odd packages, 7 stuffed closets, 6 last-minute Kringles, 5 TEACHER GIFTS! 4 eggnogs, 3 slow people, 2 useless knick-knacks, and 1 hot holiday toy.)

Oooh…my apologies to the original. Probably sounds better after a few eggnogs.

In order to brighten my holiday, I’ve elected to participate in the Blogfestivus challenge sponsored by the blogging goddess at Blogdramedy. Watch for my uninspiring entries starting next week.

Of course I can write a book – I blog. Right?

Oh, how wrong I was. Surely, I’m not the only one? I’ve been laboring (pardon the pun) over a Parent Your Business book for over a year. If this was a gestation period I would have given birth to two baby elephants by now. OK, that’s a huge exaggeration, but that’s how it feels.

What I didn’t realize when I set out was:

  1. Writing a book requires some discipline. Blogging, at least in my case, requires a complete lack of discipline since I typically find myself blogging when I should be doing something else (like now).
  2. Blog posts can be irrelevant, irreverent, and wacky and people will still read them – and even like them! A book has to have structure and purpose. Plus, the reader should ideally get some value out of it. Hmmm.
  3. Blog posts are short. You can write them in a few minutes if you’re on a roll. Writing a book takes a long time. (Duh, I should have seen this one coming.)
  4. Blogging is instant gratification. You write a post, publish it and right away someone will read it. Writing a book feels more like casting out a fishing line and then waiting for all of eternity for a bite.

I think I need a writing buddy to keep me on track. Any takers? Understandably, this will not be fun. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just take some solace in the fact that I’m not a pregnant elephant.

How do you stay motivated to write? How do you keep a project on track? Share, please!

I’m grateful, really – I just forget to notice

In the past, I’ve tried keeping a gratitude journal without much luck. I start out with good intentions but establishing habit is not my strong point. In fact, the last gratitude journal I started has entries for exactly four days. And they’re not even consecutive. Ouch.

But given that this is the season of gratitude, I decided to try again. Inspired by the efforts of 30 Days of Thanks, I vowed to tweet a note of gratitude every day during November. It seemed easy enough to do, a way for me to keep a gratitude journal of sorts. For a month anyway. Here’s how I did:

Day 3 – I’m late to the game so I tweet three things I’m grateful for to catch up.

Day 4 – Remember to tweet, but feel put upon because the kids have a day off school, can’t resist adding a snarky related comment.

Day 5 – Learn a friend has suffered a loss, tweet my gratitude that I still have my parents in my life. Feel truly grateful.

Day 7 – Realize late in the day that I forgot to tweet on Day 6, but sneak in a mention of gratitude that the Vikings won. Since that means I don’t have to tell my rabid-fan sons in the morning that they lost, this gratitude stretches into Day 8.

Days 9 through 18 – Forget to be grateful.

Day 19 – Find out to my relief that I didn’t damage my husband’s skis when I ran over them in the garage. Tweet my gratitude and determine to get back on track.

Day 20 – Sick. Forget to be grateful again.

Day 21 – Get all ready to tweet a note of gratitude and then notice it’s snowing. No longer feel grateful but fake it and tweet anyway.

Day 22 -Tweet gratitude. Almost immediately, receive an email for which I am decidedly not grateful. Tell myself grateful is grateful, even if it just lasts a moment.

Day 23 – Realize I can get a blog post out of my wayward gratitude. Feel grateful but too embarrassed to actually tweet that so tweet something else.

Day 24 – Have a quiet day at home ALL TO MYSELF! Truly grateful but enjoying it so much I forget to tweet about it.

Day 27 – Really grateful that someone else is cleaning my house – don’t tweet but leave them a gratitude-saturated note of thanks.

Days 28 -30 Thanksgiving weekend. Gratitude abounds. Truly grateful for all I have. But don’t take the time to tweet about it.

My evaluation? All in all, high on intent but lacking in execution. But maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the point is to pause, even if it’s only every once in a while, to give thanks. And then get on to the business of living.

What are you grateful for today? (I’m grateful I actually finished this blog post.)

Feng shui for the amateur

As with most things, I know enough about feng shui to be almost completely ineffective. But I love the idea – in fact, am completely romanced by the idea – that I can change my life just by moving some stuff around.

My first exposure to feng shui was in a book I bought for a friend. She was only vaguely interested, but I fell for it – hard. Completely infatuated, I recruited my husband and we spent the better part of a day trying to figure it all out before he died of boredom. (RIP, dear.) Particularly mystifying was the concept of the four celestial animals. After poring over it, we determined we had too much tortoise. I can’t remember why it was a problem to have too much tortoise, but it seemed alarming at the time.

Too much tortoise?
Too much tortoise?

I eventually enlisted the help of my friend, Susan Nelson, feng shui consultant and trainer extraordinaire, to give me the run-down on my chi. Here is what I learned. Am I too caught up in the metaphor? You tell me:

  1. There’s too much kids’ stuff in our playroom, also known as our partnership and romance area. No kidding. Would that be the amorphous blob of toys that encroaches on the rest of the house like a lava flow? Or the fact that we can’t have so much as a 5-minute conversation without being interrupted by one of our children?
  2. The extension to our partnership area (usually a good thing) is vast, empty, and underutilized. It’s called our deck. Without much thought, we built this huge, once-lovely structure under a 300-year-old oak tree that drops about 5 million acorns a year, as well as branches, leaves and other crud. Not only is it dangerous to stand out there, but as I mentioned in a previous post, it looks like a shipwreck that’s been raised from submersion and plopped in our backyard, barnacles and all.
  3. Our career area is in the toilet. Literally. Which explains a lot. Not much I can do besides relocate the bathroom to another part of the house at great expense, or perhaps paint it red, ugh. There is something just fundamentally wrong about a red bathroom.
  4. The prosperity area of the yard is overrun with weeds. At the height of summer you can hardly get to it. Oh, and it has a compost heap in it. We all know compost is only one organic step up from garbage.
  5.  The power corner of the house is the place the cat sleeps. Enough said.

I’ve tried to correct some of these deficiencies. Heaven knows I’ve weeded my prosperity corner, but who would have guessed it? Weeds grow back. I’ve followed some of Susan’s easier suggestions – hanging bells, moving furniture. I’ve decluttered, washed windows, and changed lightbulbs. But I don’t think I’ve made any great strides. While I’d like to tell myself things are changing for the better, I’m not sure I don’t just have bad energy flowing through a much cleaner house.

I guess I should ask Susan to come back and take another look. Maybe she’d be proud of the progress I’ve made. Maybe she’d have more suggestions to keep me on track. Or maybe she’d just tell me I’m still a little heavy on the tortoise.

Are you a believer? What miracles has feng shui wrought for you?

The ghosts of turkeys past

The holiday has me reminiscing about Thanksgivings past. For the last few years, we’ve celebrated quietly at home. I find it a relaxing alternative to some of the holidays we’ve celebrated.

The first Thanksgiving I hosted, with my two roommates, was an unqualified disaster. After suffering through the anxiety of preparing a turkey for the first time (and neglecting, out of ignorance, to remove the plastic bags full of innards from the interior before we cooked it), we discovered that the plumbing in the upstairs bathroom of our townhouse was leaking. The result? A huge, water-filled plaster bubble forming right over – you guessed it – the dining room table.

imageA few years later, my then-new husband and I hosted Thanksgiving for a few transplants who, like us, could not make it “home” for the holidays. My much-beloved but chronically late sister was in charge of appetizers. I had stocked up on wine and beer but had no back-up snacks. By the time she arrived, my guests were, shall we say, slightly more basted than the bird. Attempts to carve said bird resulted in a scene so brutal we probably could have been picketed by animal activists.

Fast forward a few years. Because Christmas was on a Wednesday my family was unable to gather for that holiday. In my infinite wisdom, I invited them all to our home for the earlier holiday, suggesting we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday and “Christmas” together on Saturday. Thus began perhaps the wildest holiday weekend of all time – a huge feast followed by tree trimming, gift shopping, wrapping and celebrating again in the space of a couple of days. If you find it hard to prepare for Christmas in the four weeks that follow Thanksgiving try doing it in 48 hours.

When our first two kids were young and I was still working full-time out of the home, I found it hard to prepare for Thanksgiving at all. This included actually purchasing a turkey. One year, by the time I got to the store late on Wednesday there was nothing but tiny birds left. I actually considered cooking two until I snapped out of it. The next year, determined to get to the store earlier, I did the exact same thing, only this time the smallest bird I could buy was 18 pounds. All this for a house that contained two adults and two toddlers who hadn’t eaten more than a teaspoon full of food at one meal ever. I’ve never been able to decide which was worse (read Help me solve my turkey dilemma).

The best I can say about these Thanksgivings is at least I put food on the table (as supported by my post about the Christmas that almost wasn’t). But this year I’m going to do it right. Now if I could just find that shopping list…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy (and pay homage to) your bird.

How to procrastinate in 10 easy missteps

We had friends to dinner this weekend and while I love to entertain, it means I have to do  detestable things like vacuum and go to the grocery store on a Saturday. So I did what any experienced procrastinator would do – everything but what was on my list.

In case you are not a natural procrastinator, here are some things you can do to suck time out of your day:

  1. Pick up the newspaper. Read the whole thing, even the Saturday business page.
  2. Pick up the phone when it rings and talk for a very long time.
  3. Make tapioca pudding for breakfast. Bonus for this one – because it has to cool you get to procrastinate twice, once when you assemble it and once, later, to eat it.
  4. Wash your hair even though you are headed to the gym in the afternoon.
  5. Check email frequently because, as you know, you receive many meaningful work-related emails on Saturday.
  6. Browse a few million websites on how to assemble a perfect antipasto.
  7. Engage in spontaneous discussion with daughter about what color you might paint her room. Actually pull out paint swatches and tape them to the wall. (Daughter is Junior Champion procrastinator in her own right.)
  8. Spend an unwarranted amount of time deciding which dinner napkins to use.
  9. Clean out the refrigerator.
  10. Blog about procrastinating.

And thus went my day so that even though I had ample time to prepare, I was still pressed for time as dinner approached. Perhaps the saddest thing of all – I didn’t publish this post until Sunday. In other words, I even managed to put off my procrastinating.

(By the way, in case you’re wondering, I would say my antipasto platter was merely average.)

Professional procrastinator or rank amateur? What’s your best procrastinating technique?

Because I have time today – embarrassing admittances

I don’t know why, but I’m feeling the urge to disclose some things I’m sort of embarrassed about. Perhaps it’s a step on my path to self-awareness. Or maybe it’s just Monday. Anyway, here goes. Feel free to  share your own and purge your shame.

  • I have not cleaned out the cabinets in our master bath since it was remodeled 9 years ago.
  • Though I pride myself on my professionalism, I once said about a colleague, “Don’t worry, I’ll find some way to get him to stop bugging us,” not realizing he was standing in my doorway.
  • I eat my breakfast (and sometimes lunch) off whatever plate happens to have been left in the kitchen so I don’t have to wash two.
  • Some of the pajamas I wear are older than my high-school age daughter.
  • I have been hit by bird poop in public three times, and two of those times I was at a work event.
  • I once entered a high school class late because I had been off registering for college courses, something I was really proud of, only to discover that my zipper was wide open as I sauntered in.
  • When tasked with turning around a really crappy line of business, I had to present a profit improvement chart to our CEO in front of my colleagues where the trend line never hit break-even.
  • I wash out and reuse Ziploc bags – but only the storage type bags, not the sandwich bags (typically).
  • My bank once lost a sizeable check and I had to ask a brand new client to reissue it.
  • One day, in front of a room of 300 students, a college professor absent-mindedly patted me on top of the head.
  • Even though I make my living as a business writer, I had to double-check that I was spelling embarrassing right.

I’m sure I could think of more but I’m not feeling that self-aware. Hope you enjoyed a laugh at my expense. And in case you haven’t already guessed it, I’m going to clean out those bathroom cabinets this morning.