Monday, November 29, 2004

Even Moms have Firsts

I try as much as I can to enjoy all of my children’s firsts as they happen, and appreciate them individually. I stopped thinking of my own firsts… well, about 5 years ago while expecting my first child. Even the firsts I felt during pregnancy were more about her than me. Well, today, I had a first, and it was really cool.

My oldest daughter is in preschool three days a week. Her wonderful teacher, unfortunately, lost her grandfather this past weekend, and needed to attend the funeral this morning. Well, as life would have it, a substitute teacher was needed, and despite hours of calling, pleading, organizing, and rescheduling, I was the only option.

This was all figured out last night after dinner, but the full weight didn’t truly hit me until this morning. I walked into an empty classroom, with my daughter by my side, and realized that in about 10 minutes, parents would be arriving with their children. More importantly, the parents would then be leaving WITHOUT their children.

I had the help of two other mothers who were there as helpers, a job I had relished in the past, and had been scheduled to do this morning. I envied them in that moment. I appreciated their presence and silent support, but it didn’t change the fact that I was the one standing in front of 12 little kids waiting to rip me to shreds. Ok, so maybe they only wanted to hear stories, do art projects, and eat snacks, but their eyes told a different story.

First, fights over who got to change the date on the calendar and sing the “Days of the Week”, then arguments over whose turn it was for “Show and Tell”, followed closely by “That’s not how Mrs. Parsons does it”, and through it all was me, realizing I was going to have to stand in front of these little vultures and…..sing. I love to sing – alone in the shower, alone in the car, alone in the house. You see the problem.

Story time came and went with little fanfare. We read about firefighters. We talked about other adult jobs and what they entailed. We learned that Coldon’s dad is a firefighter, Jenna wants to be a veterinarian, and most of the Mommy’s “don’t have a job.” I opened my mouth in protest, but I was outnumbered. Instead, I smiled silently, patted their little heads, and asked them who brought them to school that morning. “Mom,” they all said. And who would pick them up? “Mom.”

It was a long day, and one of the biggest challenges of my life – certainly of my mom-life. It was crazy, unpredictable, and overwhelming. It was great. Overall it went well. I was happy with the end result, or maybe just that it ended. No one needed CPR, wounds tended, not even a Band-Aid. I cleaned the spilt juice. I zipped the coats and fitted the mittens. I emptied the trash and vacuumed the carpet. I walked out of the same empty classroom I had walked into 3 hours before, with my daughter again by my side, feeling proud of my first time as a substitute teacher.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Let it snow?!

It’s snowing! Yup, in central Michigan, from the sky, falls the big, fluffy evidence that winter is closing in on us. And with it, come the sounds of the season...

Somewhere at work, “I told her I wouldn’t have to mow the lawn again.”

Somewhere are home, “I knew he wasn’t gonna mow the lawn again.”

Somewhere in the neighborhood, “Looks like they’re not gonna mow the lawn again.”


Ahh, the first snowfall. It’s a beginning, a fresh start for the holiday season, a beautiful fa├žade for ghastly cold temperatures. The winter coats, hats, mittens, and boots will be a daily necessity now. Hot chocolate will be our night caps. As the saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Happy Thanksgiving all! I hope your holidays are full of good food, laughter, and love.

GO LIONS!!!

Monday, November 22, 2004

100 Things About Me

I've noticed in my blog surfing lately a new way of sharing a little about yourself. To that end, I've compiled a '100 Things About Me' list. It isn't fascinating or engaging, but it might just give you a little glimpse behind the blogger known as April.

Thanks in advance for reading. I tried not to get too wordy, but I'm not sure I succeeded.
  1. I am 5’ 8’ and mostly legs. Thank God the clothing stores have finally started stocking jeans in size “Long”.
  2. I have brown hair and brown eyes.
  3. I wear contacts, but have a lot of trouble with them because I have really dry eyes.
  4. Although I lost all of my baby weight from my three kids, I am unhappy with my body, and don’t see that changing in the near future.
  5. I lack motivation, but am very organized.
  6. I hate being late, to the point of major stress-attacks. But once I’m there, I calm right down. It’s as if it never happened. Drives my husband nuts.
  7. I am and always have been quite an introvert, but have learned to move outside my comfort zone now and then. It has really paid off.
  8. I love Mom’s Night Out with my neighbors because it makes for great gossip. I love gossip.
  9. I hate the idea of people talking about me behind my back.
  10. I can be a hypocrite.
  11. My biggest pet peeve is passive-aggressiveness. I am self-conscious to the point of shyness, but with the very real potential to be aggressive-aggressive if provoked.
  12. I am passionate about almost everything I have an opinion on.
  13. I’m very opinionated.
  14. I love sports, but only in moderation.
  15. I joined my first Fantasy Football League this year. It’s a lot of fun, and borderline obsessive.
  16. I can be very competitive and hate to lose, but really try not to brag if I win, except to my husband. I love to beat him and remind him of it over and over.
  17. My (extended) family is pretty nuts. Most days I like to think I’m the exception, but I often worry I’m just like them.
  18. I want to be the opposite mother to my children that my mom was.
  19. I want to be the kind of parent my dad is to his second round of kids.
  20. I love crafts, but rarely have time to do them. I scrapbook, cross stitch, sew, latch hook, and want to learn more.
  21. I would pay just about anything to learn how to knit or crochet. I don’t even know the difference.
  22. I am a magazine-a-holic. My favorite is US Weekly, which I mistakenly referred to a USA Weekly once to my husband, and then had a frustrating but important conversation about why he should have known what I meant anyway. I also read Parents, an occasional Redbook, Better Homes and Gardens, and Glamour.
  23. Despite my love of reading, I can’t seem to get through a book these days. I think it’s my short attention span.
  24. I like to think I’m quirky and eccentric, but overall normal.
  25. I’m funny and witty, especially right after my morning coffee.
  26. I’ve had lots of great one-liners, but I can never remember them.
  27. I loved breastfeeding.
  28. I loved being pregnant.
  29. I loved giving birth!
  30. We are not having any more children; at least that’s we’ve decided at this point.
  31. I have issues with both my mom and dad, and often blame my rotten childhood for my poor decisions, rather than blaming myself.
  32. Despite #31, I can be very hard on myself. Mothers Guilt haunts me.
  33. I can be both a pessimist and optimist in the same day, and often in the same conversation. I’m a woman, after all.
  34. I love Desperate Housewives. I am very much the frazzled mother, but long to be like Bree, the one who is perfect at everything.
  35. Math was my favorite subject in school. I have a very analytical mind when it comes to numbers, and I could pass that class without having to attend on a regular basis. That was ultimately my downfall in school. I learned I only had to do enough to get by.
  36. Science was my worst subject and I still hate it to this day.
  37. I can’t remember dates of anything important in history. I only know that WW1 came before WW2 for the obvious numerical differences.
  38. I am a pretty good cook and enjoy doing it.
  39. I am still searching for that one great passion in my life that’ll tell me what I want to be when I grow up. I hope to know by the time I retire.
  40. I love being a mom, but hate being mothered.
  41. I need for my kids to have cool clothes that don’t have holes, and weren’t hand-me-downs.
  42. I hope my kids find their passion in life and try everything that grabs their interest, without exception. I feel if I can help them with this one thing, they’ll be set for life. Well that, and good manners.
  43. My biggest challenge in my life right now is balancing being a mom, a wife, and just a woman.
  44. I’m not crazy, but I sometimes exhibit crazy behavior just for a change of pace.
  45. I love to be spontaneous even though it stresses me out.
  46. I worry about my kids probably more than what is considered healthy. I think there are bad people out there waiting to grab them or hurt them if they ever leave my sight.
  47. I am extremely ticklish and I hate being tickled. It causes me to laugh uncontrollably, and that makes me hate it even more.
  48. I love modern, simple lines, and clean, crisp colors in interior design. I have no idea how to achieve it.
  49. I enjoy country music, but don’t admit that to many people.
  50. Songs can make me cry very easily, as can movies, TV shows, and books.
  51. Few people have seen me cry. I prefer to do it alone, and not even tell my husband about it.
  52. I enjoy writing short stories. They often turn dark – not scary, but disturbing – or have unhappy endings.
  53. I don’t understand or appreciate poetry that doesn’t rhyme.
  54. I have a tendency to find every spelling and grammar error in published works, i.e. newspapers, magazines, technical manuals, etc. I have to email the editor about the mistakes if it is an online publication. I am blind to these mistakes in my own writing, much to my dismay.
  55. I have a chocolate tooth the size of Vancouver.
  56. I have no idea how big Vancouver is, but somehow always use it when I am describing how big something is.
  57. I don’t think size matters.
  58. I have no cavities, and keeping it that way has become a quest of sorts. I don’t go out of my way to take care of my teeth, but I’m hoping the powers of suggestion and osmosis will go a long way in ensuring my cavity-free status.
  59. I have a habit of using run-on sentences, and am not making any strides to change that.
  60. I am a drama junkie, although of a much milder sort now.
  61. I enjoy doing laundry, tolerate doing dishes and vacuuming, but loathe dusting and cleaning bathrooms.
  62. I am toilet-phobic. I worry things can come “up” them rather than just “down.” I will not use a porta-potty. They are full of diseases and probably even rodents waiting to attack.
  63. I am mildly afraid of the dark. I used to be terrified, but I can talk myself out of it now. However, if I had my way, it would be light all the time – not sunny, but light.
  64. I love clothes, but don’t have very many.
  65. I like men to dress preppy, and care about how they look, but not to the point of being a metro-sexual. My husband more than fits the bill – so much so, that I think he’s the only one who could actually be my “type.”
  66. I have a bad temper, but it’s much better than it used to be.
  67. I live in a yellow house, drive a purple mini van, and my favorite color is blue.
  68. We will soon have a silver Mini Cooper with black detail.
  69. My favorite type of food is Italian. I can eat any kind of pasta.
  70. I could do just about anything I put my mind to, except giving up carbs.
  71. I love fruits and vegetables, and cheese. I believe they balance out my chocolate intake.
  72. I could drink a Beaner’s (like Starbucks, but local) Tall Skinny Mocha Mocha everyday if we didn’t have 3 college funds to think about. It’s like dessert for breakfast, but I don’t feel guilty because my mind won’t go there after that much caffeine. The only other way I’ll drink my coffee is black.
  73. I’m a good driver, but sometimes get to where I’m going without any memory of the drive.
  74. I can multi-task almost to the point of insanity.
  75. I have to unload and reload the dishwasher after my husband puts things in it, or at least reorganize it.
  76. I watch one soap opera (General Hospital) and even visit online sites dedicated to their fans.
  77. I love Reality TV, but not the marriage shows, or the overly cheesy ones. To date, I have watched and enjoyed Survivor, Amazing Race, Big Brother, America’s Next Top Model, Newlyweds, The Apprentice, and Extreme Home Makeover, in no particular order.
  78. I loved the Harry Potter books, can’t wait for the next one, but didn’t think much of the movies.
  79. In the summer, when I drive down our road with the radio on (loudly), I change the station depending on who I pass.
  80. I own a small online business selling doll clothes, and am doing pretty well for my first year.
  81. I have big, ugly feet.
  82. I have a big nose, and from the looks of my ancestors, it’s only going to get bigger. I often muse about getting a nose job.
  83. I am going through a “pink” stage. I even bought a pink purse.
  84. I have two cats. One is a loveable rag doll; the other will bite anyone who tries to touch her.
  85. I don’t mind doing yard work, but I am not a nature girl. I don’t think I’ll ever camp again, unless my kids really want to.
  86. I hate bugs of all kinds, spare flies. Finding them in my house can be a huge incident.
  87. I am really jumpy and can be startled when someone just walks in the room quietly.
  88. I love milk, but only skim.
  89. I teeter on becoming a vegetarian quite often, yet eat meat almost daily.
  90. I go through stages where I can’t eat eggs because I think of how they’re little embryos. When you put them in boiling water, they even chirp.
  91. I believe in God, but don’t go to church very often, although I’d like to.
  92. I am uncomfortable at the thought of “never-ending life”, i.e. Heaven, Hell, reincarnation, etc. Everything is supposed to have an end, and the idea of doing something forever is disconcerting to me. So much so, that I get edgy if I think about it for too long.
  93. Due to watching Unsolved Mysteries as a child, I fear alien abductions, ghosts, and bombs that look like litter and go off when a Good Samaritan tries to clean up the community.
  94. I am the youngest of my mom-friends, and it bothers me. It’s the only thing that’s ever made me want to be older.
  95. I think I’m smarter than most people I know, but am wrong more often than I’d like.
  96. I get very nostalgic and am a sucker for old pictures, old houses, and old stories.
  97. I love to be by myself to just sit and think. I’m a dreamer. I imagine everything, from what my day will be like to reliving yesterday as if it happened differently, to pretending I’m someone in a completely different era.
  98. I enjoy an occasional night of beer-drinking, or a couple glasses of wine.
  99. I suffer from headaches on an almost daily basis, and have for as long as I can remember. They occasionally turn into migraines, to which I cry like a baby, swear I’m going to get help, and then forget it ever happened as soon as it’s over. It’s taken me 20 years to finally seek and insist upon help from a doctor. He heard me out, and we promptly moved into the “let’s monitor them” phase.
  100. I am the most stubborn person I know, and I think that is my worst quality, and not like some trumped-up-job-interview worst quality. I truly think my stubbornness impedes my happiness.

    Thanks for reading. This was really interesting to do. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you try one yourself. If you do, or already have, please link me; I would love to take a look. They're such interesting reads.




Friday, November 19, 2004

I Have a Dream...

Ok, I had a dream. Two nights ago I had what might have been one of the most profound dreams of my life. I often remember the images and thoughts that flash through my sleeping mind, usually with fogginess and confusion, but with an overall sense of theme. Tuesday night, I dreamt of something far different than my usual anxiety-ridden delusions. It appears the propaganda of this past election, although mostly dissipated, has managed to finally invade my sleep.

The following is the best way I can explain what I imagined. As with any dream, much of the actual events and dialogue are lost in translation, but the overall premise is clear, at least as clear as the words I could find to illustrate it. It is in two parts.

Part 1

A snippet of my life as it exists in reality. My husband, myself and our three children, all residing in our current home with essentially the same life we live now. The National news is on television, and sounds, sights, and political interpretations of the War in Iraq percolate through our home. The kids are lost in their imaginary world of dolls and dress up games. My husband and I are cleaning up after dinner, half listening to the reports of car bombs exploding, ambushes, and soldiers dying. It’s a solemn feeling, but overall detached from our lives. We know no one in the war, no family, no friends, and no neighbors. It’s much like listening to a history teacher or watching a sad movie. It’s touching and sobering. We turn off the television, and life goes on.

Part 2

Again, a snippet of my life as it exists in reality, but this time with one distinct difference. The television is on to the sounds of the 6:00 news. The same visuals of soldiers, and explosions, and chaos in Iraq flashing across the screen. The kids are playing together with their multitude of toys, alternating giggling and whining, as the normal interaction of siblings goes. The remnants of dinner have already been cleared from the table, and the dishes washed and neatly put away. This time, I am on the couch, perched on the edge, watching and listening to the network anchor for any news on the soldiers, specifically for news on my husband. I wring my hands in a damp dishtowel, trying to control the shaking, the fear threatening to overtake my senses. It’s a flash, a day in the life of a soldier’s wife. One day, or more accurately, one evening between dinner and bedtime. That’s all I saw and felt, and yet it had more of an effect on me than entire days in reality.

Both parts were seamlessly connected, and my perspective was clear throughout. There was no sudden realization of the difference of hearing about strangers on TV and the actual experience of a loved one at war. I felt the connection from start to finish. In Part One, it was as if I knew our family was on the verge of something. I knew what we had was fragile, but I knew it only as an undercurrent. It didn’t change the way I lived. In Part Two, I longed for my previous life, but much in the same way I knew fragility in Part One. A similar undercurrent reminded me what it was like to be detached from the war, to have my husband by my side. Every emotion of each experience overlapped and yet seemingly without effecting my actions, as only those of a dream can.

I awoke with a start and a cold sweat, my hand going immediately to my right to feel my husband next to me. I felt a bolt of panic when his place in bed was cold, but my mind quickly cleared, reality returning, and I remembered the girls had called for him earlier in the night. He had likely fallen asleep with them. My concern subsided, and the dream began to fade to that secret land of lost dreams. I challenged myself to recall as many details as possible, reliving them as I did.

I explained my dream to my husband the next day with as much detail as I could, and he was as moved as I. Now, sitting down with fingers to keyboard, I recall more than I initially thought I had. The effect it had on me upon awakening is still in tact. It was an eye-opener of sorts, I suppose. Like most of us, I have heard the stories of military wives and children many times in the past, but this past Tuesday, for just one small moment, I lived a fragment of it. Fortunately, for me it was just a dream. I got to wake up and return to my ‘life as normal’ with no residual effects, other than what I chose to take from it. I gained a little perspective, as much as is possible with a dream, and more than I ever wanted. I thank God for the dream, for my experience, for my reality, and then thank him twice over for the men and women fighting for our country, and the loved-ones who wait at home for their safe return. I know I cannot truly imagine what it’s like for them, and that my dream was no more real than any other reverie, and I cannot help but selfishly be grateful for that.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Knick-Knack Names. Do you have one?

Kids. They’re funny little creatures. Their growing vocabularies can be reason for pride, concern, and often laughter. My daughters (3 and 4) have taken to making up “Knick Knack names” for everyone in our family. Regardless of my repeat corrections, they insist on calling them “knick knack names.” I chuckle each and every time I hear it. I know one day they’ll learn to say it properly, and it will be just another cute memory. One of many that I’ll file away, and hope to never forget.

I find myself in a constant struggle to balance past, present, and future, to keep my memories of yesterday and dreams of tomorrow from impeding on the here and now. There is nothing that has brought me more joy, pain, excitement, sadness, patience, frustration, hope, and dread than being a parent. I’m still searching for the magic something that shows us all what we’re doing right, and how to fix what we’re doing wrong. Parenting footnotes?

Mommy of Myrtle, Twinkle Toes, and Squeekers.

Monday, November 08, 2004

TGIM?

Ok, yeah it's Monday. The day we all dread. The day we must kick our own butts, and the butts of those we love, back into line. It's back to work for many. For me, it's back to CrackMom. I don't actually use drugs, at least not those of an illegal nature. My drug of choice is very much legal, but no less dangerous. I assure you without it, I'm a ticking timebomb. Caffeine is my vice, in just about every form it's offered, spare Coca Cola, or any of its carbonated imitations. I am CrackMom for a plethora of reasons, not the least of which is my inane ability to breakdown, or "crack" if you will, under pressure.


It's an interesting balance with me, to be honest. I'm a drama junkie, well a reformed drama junkie, which is to say I still enjoy drama but rarely have the energy to partake in it or even watch from the sidelines as others mire in it. The closest I get is Reality TV, and let's be honest here, that's really a drug in its own right. At least that's how I reassure my husband when I do the Floppy Chicken after mistakenly tuning in to The Apprentice at 9:00, only to find out it was rescheduled to 8. Yes, that somehow leaves him reassured. That's what happens when your health insurance doesn't cover therapy sessions. I only hope, for the sake of my family's sanity as well as my own, that someone somewhere will start a support group for this one day. With my luck, I'll sign up, spill my guts until I'm drooling on my own clothing, as well as the much nicer, non-breastmilk stained clothing of those sitting close by, only to find out it's all been taped for the reality show to end all reality shows. Truly. This would happen to me.


Fortunately (or unfortunately if you know me and how I'll react to what's coming next), the lawyers for the 'show' will insist that everyone who partook in this human-lab-experiment-for-money-and-all-important-ratings willingly sign a release allowing the producers to air the footage in its entirety, or edit it down to elicit the most humiliation possible. Everyone will balk. The producers will quickly turn into used car salesmen, with money and fame as their pitch. Most will sign and smirk in lame protest for being used, then console themselves with hush money for the next 6 months until air. At that point, most will sell their souls to Hollywood in an effort to extend their 15 minutes, not to exclude baring all for Playboy after initial why I never's. For those who hesitated to sign, they'll be reassured by producers that everyone will be depicted in as accurate a way as possible, and their children shall now have the means to attend college thanks to their cooperation. I, on the other hand, will be disgusted at their violation, appalled at their suggestions, ashamed at my own naivete, and ultimately, excited at the prospect of seeing myself on TV. Yeah, I'll sign. I'll undoubtedly be embarrassed to paralysis once it sinks in, what I've just done. But for those few minutes of blind bliss, I'll envision myself as the next Julia Roberts, Halle Barry, or Nicole Kidman. For a few minutes, I'll be more than a mom.

So, yep, it's still Monday. I'm still kicking my butt into gear. And apparently, my mind could use a nudge as well. I've got weekend brain. You know, the kind that only half hears the kids, and refuses to touch a single dirty dish, or piece of laundry in hopes that your husband will find it within himself to join the crusade against clean houses gone dirty, often mistakenly referred to as Good Wives Gone Bad. I'm pretty sure there's already a support group for that - men who's wives expect to much and do to little. Bring me a beer woman, they say under their breaths, hoping we'll get the message but not the insult. I know around here they meet at the local bar for Monday Night Football, and call it therapy. Nevermind the women who are waiting on them, setting us wives at home back 10 years in our struggle. Damn those hot little waitresses, shaking what they have and we can hardly remember. Smiling and flirting with our grunting, guzzling, burping husbands who are too ignorant or drunk to realize it's all for their potential tip.

Ahhh, Just another Married Monday! ooh oo ooh.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day!

Election Day! Because it hasn't and can't be said enough, VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! Assuming anyone actually reads this, I hope you enjoy my commentary, have a small chuckle, a big pee break (those lines can be long) and head on out to vote! There's nothing better to do on this bleak, rainy day. There's nothing more important, more fulfilling, and empowering. For one day, ALL voices can be heard equally. I am not Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie. I don't have great hair, or a great body. Although I have not-so-great hair on unfortunate places of my no-so-great body. I don't lobby. I don't debate. I don't rally. But I do drink til I stumble, eat til I collapse, and cry til I dehydrate. So, No matter what your size, shape, color, religious beliefs, eating habits, drinking problems, attention deficiencies, anxiety disorders, personality flaws, or guilty pleasures, VOTE! Vote for Kerry to kick Dubya to the curb. Vote for the encumbant to squash Verry/LEftwards like smarmy little bugs. Vote! Vote! Vote! Then sit home, over-indulge, over-analyze, over-stress, and under-exercise your way to tomorrow's results. Yes, I think it will take that long. For those who have to return to work, ignore the last sentence, and hop on your hampster wheel. Now run. Back to normal. Back to reality. Back to the future?