Thursday, August 30, 2012

What The Expletive Is That?!

About thirteen years ago, Jeff and I tied the knot.  With the dogwoods and tulips in bloom, we had a beautiful spring wedding surrounded by our family and friends.  It couldn't have been more perfect.

After celebrating with our family and friends, we hopped on a plane and headed to where else - the beach.  We were young and in love in the midst of sun, sand and surf.  It was lovely!

Our days were spent lounging by the pool, walking on the beach, biking on the island, sleeping late and eating.  Oh man, did we eat!  (And since we had just gotten hitched, you ladies know I dieted for several months so I could rock my wedding dress. I mean I was eating like I was going to get a grade for it!)

We ate the most decadent food, as well as all of the bad greasy stuff.  Some nights, our dinner was simply wine and cheese.  All kinds of awesome. *Sigh.*  
Memories in the corner of my mind... Scattered pic -. Oops sorry.  I digress.

Anyway, one particular day, we were out walking on the beach enjoying the sun on our faces and the pleasure of each others company. We had no agenda.  We were just 'living in the moment'.

Now, we had been at the beach for a couple of days so both of our confidence in getting into the ocean had increased a bit.  When I was little, I would get out in the ocean all the time with no fear at all.  As I got older, I became a little more hesitant. (I mean "Hello Jaws"!! Did you SEE what happened to Quint?!)  Hubby had never been a fan of the ocean and never wanted to get farther than ankle deep. Hubby doesn't like being where you can't see what's going on around you. (True dat.)

So, this particular day, chalk it up to bravery or liquid courage, we start to wade into the ocean.  One foot here, a couple of inches there, another foot here.  We are holding hands and laughing, feeling super brave as we are out in about waist deep water.

When all of a sudden, Hubby points and says, "What the expletive is that?!"

I look at where he is pointing and see the water moving and this giant shadow heading our way.

Hubby says again, "WHAT THE EXPLETIVE IS THAT?!"  In the few seconds that I turned to look at Hubby and turned back to the shadow in the water, it is upon us.  I mean it is RIGHT BESIDE US.

I hear movement to the side of me so I turn my head and see my Hubby walking on water.  Actually, it was more like running on water.  NO JOKE.  (See you thought Jesus was the only one to walk on water. Not true.  Hubby also performed this small miracle.)

What was it you ask?  What did we see?  Well, here's a picture:

A stingray

BUT THIS WAS NO ORDINARY STINGRAY!! This stingray must have been at least five feet across.  NO JOKE.  I think this ray must have been on steroids. And the tail...cheese and biscuits!  The tail must have been at least two feet long.  I am not making this up, people!  

Come on. You know they can be dangerous! Look what happened to poor, crazy Steve Irwin! Yeah, see I told you. They are ruthless killers.

I am telling you this story as it may save your life one day.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Do What Your Heart Tells You

To help or not to help?

While we were out running errands the other day, we stopped at a red light waiting for our turn to go.  As we were waiting, I noticed there was a young couple (probably mid-20's) holding a sign.  Not sure if they were a couple or siblings. I don't remember the exact wording of the sign but it was something like:

My family and I are facing hard times and we could really use your help.  Anything you can give will be appreciated. God bless you.

(From the backseat) J says: Mama, what are those people doing?

(Taking the obvious route) Me: They are holding a sign.

J: What does the sign say?

Me: The sign is asking for help.

J: What kind of help?

Me: I'm not sure, J.

J: We should call the police so the police can help them.

My sweet, sweet boy.  He has such a big heart. We tell him that the police keep people safe and help people who need it. J thought the police could help these people who needed it.

My heart went out to these people.  For them to stand on the corner of a busy intersection and hold a sign asking for people's help, they had to swallow their pride and risk being ridiculed. I imagine they are boldly putting themselves out there to ask for help as they felt they had no other options.

Were they really in need?  Did they really need my money or someone else's money to make ends meet? Or were they just running a scam?  Trying to see how many poor saps would stop and dole out their hard earned cash to them.

The answer is: I don't know.  I don't know if these people really needed financial assistance or were dishonest people taking advantage of kind souls.

They looked nice enough.  But how many times have we discovered that you can't judge a book by it's cover?

See, I choose not to help those people that day.  I wasn't sure if they were really down on their luck or if they were trying to make some quick cash.  Since I was on the fence, I decided not to help out. 

So herein lies the question: If you are not sure if they honestly need help, do you help or do you not? I've been thinking about this question a lot lately as it has been weighing on my heart.

And this is what I think.  You need to do what you feel led to do.  If you feel led to help these people by giving them money, or food to eat, then that is what you should do.  Maybe you will help them by praying for them. If you have a bad feeling about these folks or feel they are trying to scam you, then you should pass on giving them assistance. Or maybe you don't want to help for whatever reason and I respect your decision.

If these people are dishonest people and they're running a scam, then that is on them. They will have to carry that around with them. You do what you think is right regardless of what someone else does.  You can't make people do or say the right thing.  You are responsible for you.

Regardless of whether or not the people asking for assistance are honest, I believe that if you decide to help them, it shows you are a person of strong character and a generous soul.  And I also believe you will be blessed for doing so.

Yes, there are dirt bags and scam artists our there. But there are also really good, decent people out there too.

In the end, do what your heart tells you.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mama: The Human Kleenex

Once upon a time, I was svelte. Yes, I just said svelte.

Before kids, I would shop at only places whose names ended in "Republic" or "Taylor". Whenever I left the house, I made sure my make-up was expertly applied and I wore a well put together ensemble. Yes, I said ensemble.

In the past, my style was referred to as "classic". I chose well made items that were timeless pieces made from nice materials. I had sassy heels, some might even say strappy heels, that I wore to work each day.

Oh those days! I remember those days. I remember that Michelle! *Waves.*

Don't get me wrong. I still love those stores and getting all gussied-up. I like being pretty. However, my current lifestyle doesn't lend a lot of time for a beauty regiment right now.

Why not? (Those of you who are moms who are reading this right now are chuckling.)

Well, being a SAHM with two boys under the age of four, there's not a lot of time for "playing dress up."

Super nice clothes are out.  My kids wipe their Cheeto fingers, Oreo mouths and runny noses on me. I'm mama, The Human Kleenex.

My favorite clothing stores are now places that end in "arget" or "Navy".  Why would I want to spend a crap load of money on something that is going to resemble a Jackson Pollack painting at the end of the day?

They are always wanting my attention. They will often pull on my pants, shorts, shirts, sweaters and hair to try and get it. No folks, I'm not homeless. My clothes are just misshapen due to my little rug rats climbing on me. I'm mama, The Human Jungle Gym.

You've got to make the most out of that two minutes you have to get ready for the day. If my hair is combed, teeth brushed, and deodorant on, I feel like a beauty queen. Bring on the paparazzi! I am mama, The Speedy Beautician.

Even though I miss being dolled-up sometimes, I wouldn't trade my yoga pants, hair ponytailed current self for all the money in the world. I get to spend everyday loving on my two sweet boys and NOTHING is better than that.

However, I would like to be able to go to the bathroom by myself..,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'm Chopped Liver

Remember in high school where there was always that girl that was so pretty and all the boys seemed to be in love with her?  Yeah well, I wasn't that girl.

I always had tons of guy friends.  They called me by my last name, would casually throw an arm around my neck and flirt harmlessly with me.  I was always one of the guys.  I had as many girlfriends as I did guy friends.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm no super model but I'm also not BoBo, the Dog Faced Girl.  I'm somewhere in-between.  (Actually, I guess everybody is somewhere in-between, well, except for the supermodels and BoBo, The Dog Faced Girl.)

My Auntie Em told me once that I would have guys falling all over me once I went to college. I thought she was trying to make me feel better and I didn't believe her. And why that isn't exactly how it played out in college, I did have several guys who wanted to be more than friends.

So while in college, I started to become comfortable in my own skin and with how I looked. 

Now, at this point, even though I have good self-esteem, that doesn't mean I don't get my ego bruised every now and then.  What woman doesn't have her "homely" days? Or feel like she is Captain Of The Ugly Ship? (Am I right ladies?)

Several years ago, I remember when my cousin, A, was getting married and she had her bridesmaids luncheon at Keeneland.  (For those of you not familiar with Keeneland, it is a beautiful horse racing track in central Kentucky.)  

As a bridesmaid, I got all dolled up, and along with my mom, cousin A and Aunt C, went with all the bridesmaids for a fantastically fun day at the races.

We ate, drank, bet on the horses and gossiped like young women do.  We watched the horses parade around the veranda before each race and also people watched which was just as interesting.  What a super fun day!

On our way out of the parking lot, we stopped at a red light waiting for our chance to turn.  At this point, mom (who drove) and I notice a car full of cute college-age guys behind us.  They are all talking and motioning to our car.  Mom and I are laughing wondering what in the world they could be talking about.

Right before the light turns green, the driver gets out of his seat, scampers over to mom's window and says, "You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.  I just have to know if you are married."

Mom smiles and says, "Well, thank you. And yes, I am married."

He smiles and says, "He's a lucky man." Then he kisses her hand and heads back to his car.

So mom is laughing and smiling saying, "What a cute kid?!  Wasn't that nice?!"

I look over at mom and say, "Oh yeah.  That was very nice.  I guess I'm chopped liver."

Mom says, "Oh no, honey."

I say, "Oh I think so mom.  When someone my age comes over to you to tell you that you are the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and ignores me who is his same age, I'd say yeah, I'm chopped liver."

As if this memory doesn't smart enough, there is one more recently that dealt a swift blow to the old ego.

Recently, at my grandfather's funeral, many family members who I haven't seen in a while attended to give their condolences.

One of my grandfather's pass wives, comes over to my cousin, A, and myself. (Yes, I said one of his past wives, as in plural.  My grandfather was a pimp.  What can I say?)

Anyway, she hugs A and says, "A!  How are you?!  Look at you!  You are so pretty!"

Then she turns to look at me.  I can tell she is not sure who I am so I say, "Hello so-and-so.  It's me, Michelle."

She says, "Michelle!  I did not even recognize you!"  (This is code for "What's Up With Your Dog Face?")

I get it.  It's been a long time since she saw me last.  And now after two kids, my shape is a bit different. *Ahem.*  But, I would have been okay with her not recognizing me if someone else didn't say the EXACT SAME THING. *Sigh.*

Now, as a wife and mother, I realize I am uniquely beautiful in my own way and I accept the person I am.  I have a nice smile, a wicked sense of humor and I am fiercely loyal to those I care about. I am beautiful because I am me.  I'm the only me in the whole wide world.  And that's kind of cool.

But some days...yep, I'm chopped liver.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Next World War Will Be Over Blankets

Over the centuries, wars have been fought for many reasons.  Wars have been fought in the name of religion, freedom, tyranny, wealth, power and love.  There have been large scale world wars.  There have been small wars within one's own countries.

Now, you may find it difficult to believe but I can predict what the next world war will be fought over.  (No, I'm not a psychic so don't start emailing me asking me for the winning lottery numbers or who is going to win the next Super Bowl.  This is my one psychic fugue, psychic episode if you will.)

The next world war will be fought over blankets. Yes, blankets.

You see, in this world, there are two different types of sleepers.  There are the pocket sleepers and the messy sleepers.  A pocket sleeper is a person who likes to sleep with their blankets evenly spread over them and who often times cannot go to sleep if the bed is not made.  Most mornings, a pocket sleeper can wake up, get out of bed, and it hardly looks slept in. A messy sleeper is a person who can fall into the bed with their blankets in a pile and can sleep with several different blankets covering various parts of their body.  When a messy person wakes up, it looks like a tiny tornado has swept through the bed.

Ideally, a pocket sleeper will want to marry another pocket sleeper, or a messy sleeper will want to marry another messy sleeper.  This makes for the best scenario. (Trust me on this.)  If you are thinking of getting married and do not know this about your future spouse, you must inquire immediately.  It could save lives! (Okay, that was a tad dramatic, but still! It will avoid many arguments.)

Here's the deal.  I am a pocket sleeper and Hubby is a messy sleeper.  He can plop into an unmade bad with blankets strewn everywhere, grab a couple of pillows for his head and he's all set.  Now, for me.  That's a negative, ghost rider.

There is NO WAY I can get into an unmade bed and rest, let alone, fall asleep. (Just thinking about it makes my eye twitch.)  The pillows aren't at the top of the bed, pulled slightly away from the headboard as to not touch?  The blankets aren't spread evenly across the entire bed so there's a 50/50 distribution?  Madness!!  Madness, I tell you!!

Because I am a pocket sleeper and cannot go to sleep in an unmade bed, I can sometimes be found making my bed at 11:00pm, and sometimes with my Hubby IN the bed.

Our conversations go something like this:

(As I'm making the bed while Hubby is laying in the bed reading) Hubby: What are you doing?

Me: I'm making the bed.

Hubby: It's 11:00pm at night.

Me: I know.  I can't go to sleep unless the blankets are all spread out evenly.

Hubby:  Michelle, just quit messing with them.  It's fine.

Me: I'm almost finished.

Hubby: You are mental.

Me: Yeah, well. You married this mental, sucker.

Hubby: *Shakes his head.*

What I always find amusing about this is that Hubby always asks the same question as if he is surprised to see me going through my OCD nighttime routine after 13 years of marriage.

So, if you hear the sirens go off and the news reports that we are at war, you will know how it all started.  The next world war will be over blankets. 

 At Home Take 2

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Put On My Big Girl Pants

Last week, I took the boys with me to drop off J's preschool registration papers.  He will be starting preschool this fall. *Gulp.* Yes, as in a few weeks from now.

I know. I know. I'm late getting this stuff together.  I was born two weeks late because I was all "heck no I won't go"...and I've been running late ever since. Story of my life.

Anywho, on our way back home, we passed my old high school.  I say, "Look J! That is where mama went to high school.  High school is where the big kids go to school."

Taking in the huge school with the stadium, he looks at me wide-eyed and asks, "Mama, were you lonely there all by yourself?"

(Oh my heart can't take it!) I say, "Oh no sweetie!  Mama wasn't lonely.  I made some friends just like you will.  You will make friends, learn new things and play fun games. You won't be lonely."

Cautiously, I peer into the rear-view mirror to look at his sweet face to see if my words have made him feel any better.  I see him looking out the window with his face full of doubt and worry.  My heart is simultaneously so full yet threatens to break into a million pieces.

My baby.  My sweet boy will be going to preschool.  He is going to be under someone else's care.  He will be away from me for several hours at a time for a couple of days a week.

For our little family, this is a huge, ginormous, gigantic deal.  J has stayed at home with me since he was born and he, well if I'm being honest, we are nervous about him heading out into the world.

Why?  Well, there's a million reasons.  But it all comes down to this. There is no one other than my husband or myself who love this child more.  And because we love him so much, we are the best people to care for him. 

Admittedly, I am a wigster.  (What is a wigster you ask?  Well, a wigster is one who wigs out about any and all things, also known as a worrier.) Before kids, I was somewhat of a wigster, but after kids, I have full-blown wigsteritis.  (For clarification, I just suffer from wigsteritis in regards to my kids.  Most of the things I worried about before kids, don't seem so important now.)

Here's the thing.  My rational self tells me that going to preschool is good for J!  He will learn how to do things on his own and he will gain confidence and independence.  All good characters to have because that is what we want for him.  We want him to grow up to be a hard-working, compassionate, confident, God loving, independent person.  This is one small stepping stone on his journey.

But my emotional self tells me that he is still just a baby.  The thought of handing him over to someone else even for just a few hours threatens to break my heart in two.  No one will take care of him like I will.  No one knows better his likes and dislikes.  No one will know how to best comfort him when he gets upset.  No one loves him like I love him.
So, my brain is going to have to whip my heart into shape. I know this is going to be great for J!  Here he will start to develop independence and confidence that he will need for his own 'Journey of A Thousand Miles'. This is the first act in his story of life and I know he will be a great starting lead.  

Looks like I just need to put on my big girl pants!  I'm sure there will be tears for both of us that first day.  But that's okay.  Because at the end of the day, I will be greeted by that sweet little face, a big hug and he can tell me all about his great first day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Go The Flip To Sleep

 A baby is in there somewhere...

I love my sleep. In the past, there was nothing I loved more than snuggling in my comfy bed with my soft pillows and cozy blankets. I could sleep for 10 -12 hours at a time.

When we were first married, if we woke up early on the weekends, we would go back to sleep. Sometimes we would even eat breakfast, then head back to bed for a catnap. Awesomesauce.

Yep, Sleep and I were BFF's.

After kids, sleep and I don't talk very much any more. I don't have the luxury of sleeping late.  And if I get to sleep six consecutive hours, I feel like I stole something!

Now my children, well, apparently they don't feel the same way about sleep as I do. Every night there's bedtime drama. And when I say every night, I mean EVERY NIGHT.

The boys have the same routine every night.  There are no surprises.  We have tubby time, get into pajamas, watch Kipper, brush our teeth, L (21 months) goes to bed first, followed right behind with J (3 years).  

Both boys are read two stories. We talk about our day and what they did that day to make us proud. We say prayers, then kisses/hugs good night.

Boom. Done. I'm out.  Mama's off duty. Mama turns into a pumpkin at 9:00p.m. Don't come looking for mommy because she isn't here.


With sweet baby L, he starts to cry and puts his hands over his little face when I start saying prayers.  Is this because he is devil spawn?  Nope.  It's because this little guy knows that when it's prayer time that he will be going to bed.  He would continue crying up to 15 minutes after I'd put him to bed.  

One day, I wised up and started giving him a board book to take to bed. 

BOOM. No more crying. One problem down, one to go.

Now, J has his own separate drama. Since he has not been confined to a crib for over a year, he can just get up anytime.  But before I have even left the room, he starts trying to bargain.

"Mama, just one more story."

"Listen, mama, listen.  Just stay in here for one more minute."

"Mama, I love you." *Cuddle* "Please stay in here with me."

"Mama, your my best friend." *Hug and kiss.* "Just one more story."

I'm strong folks but I'm only human!!  Admittedly, these last two sucker me in for about 10 more minutes or so.

Then, I am ready.  It's time for J to go to sleep.  So I do what most parents do when they are trying to get their kid to stay in bed, bribery.

I say stuff like, "You can pick where you want to go for breakfast tomorrow if you stay in your room."  Or "If you come out of your room, no Kipper tomorrow."

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

In the time it takes me to walk back to my room, climb in my bed and get comfy, J walks in with one of his many excuses.

"Mama, I'm scared."

"Mama, I'm lonely,"

"Mama, I can't find my blankie (which he hid in his room so I'd have to find it). I can't sleep without big blankie!"

(Carrying a closed box of tissues) "Mama, we have to open this Kleenex box."

"Mama, there are spiders in my room."

(Carrying the tiniest piece of paper visible to the naked eye) "Mama, we have to throw this piece of paper away."

Cheese and biscuits, baby!!!  I love your guts but you are driving me crazy!!

What once started out as a nice, calm, relaxing process ends with me trying to control my temper and failing miserably. *Sigh.*  I can hang with these sweet boys all day long but when it's nighttime it is time to "Go The Flip To Sleep"!