"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for the ‘embarrassing’ Category

Choosing Your Battles

cracked egg

The young mother cast a weary glance my way over the top of the squirmy toddler’s head.  She moved the bag of chips towards the back of the cart, just out of reach from those stretched-out fingers.  The little boy’s lip stuck out, but he didn’t shriek or cry.  I gave her a sympathetic smile as we passed and we went our separate ways in the grocery store.  I’d been there once.  Another Mom vs. Child battle won!

When the kids were little and I found myself exasperated with them, my husband would remind me to pick my battles.  It was hard.  I wanted them – expected them – to just behave how I wanted them to all the time simply because I was “The Mom”.  When they didn’t listen to my logic (good, sound, Mom-logic!) I felt like minor situations escalated from disagreement to battles to war in the space of a few short minutes.  The problem wasn’t a matter of me picking a battle.  The problem was that I thought three-year-olds would listen to reason.  Ha!

One of the things that I had to learn was that I didn’t have to win every battle to win the war.  Again, it was tough lesson.  I wanted to be right.  I wanted the kids to know I was right.  I wanted the kids to be little grown-ups in those tiny little bodies and see how I only had their best interest at heart.  The most selfish part of that equation was that I also didn’t want others to judge me as being a bad parent.  After all, if my kid had on a horrible, mis-matched outfit at pre-school it was obviously because I was the worst Mom ever, right?

There was a time in my life when I thought I’d just never be able to go in public again—especially restaurants and stores.  I suppose if that were true, I’d have a few more dollars in the bank account right now.  When I found out Erin was on the way, one of the first thoughts I had was, How in the world will I be able to keep track of three kids in the grocery store?  Someone’s gonna lose a finger…or an eye! 

When I look back now, especially when I see people in the store with their kids, I have a completely different take on toddlers and parents. I am quick to NOT judge, because I’ve been in their shoes.  I’ve had my exhausted kid scream about how much he hated me in the parking lot because we had to leave the dance party at the elementary school when it was getting late and his sisters were tired.  I’ve been the mom whispering through clenched teeth about how they were going to really “get it” when we got home if I got any more sass.  I have had to go to the store manager and alert them to the egg on the floor and apologize because my kid grabbed one out of the container and chucked it in two seconds when I opened it to check for cracked eggs.  Been there, done that.

All in all, my kids were actually pretty well-behaved youngsters in public.  It’s just that my memory doesn’t recall the times we peacefully strolled the aisles or sat at a restaurant.  I can even laugh a little bit at those battles won and lost.  Ultimately, we all won a little bit, because with one in college and two now in high school no one is throwing eggs at the grocery store and their clothes match quite well.  They even give me fashion advice.  I sometimes bribe my kids with promises of gum purchases to get them to go to the store with me now.

I can’t say I saw this mother with the chip-loving toddler and eyed her with envy.  Those years were not always easy, but I cherish them now.  We look back on those once-exasperating moments and laugh a little when the kids actually remember certain incidents and tell me what was going through their minds at the time.  Those years were a rite of passage in the journey of Motherhood, and now it’s definitely in a different stage, where our trips to Costco involve me trying to get out of the store without indulging in the frozen yogurt sundaes with the kids at the end of the trip—a battle rarely won.  And that’s a whole new war.

My Tribute to Misbehaving Dogs

Grendel

Grendel

Chester

Chester

Last week, Erin and I took our crazy dogs to the vet to get their Bordatella vaccine for the kennel. I love these dogs, I really do, but when they are together and excited/nervous about something they morph into two lunkheads who completely tune out my voice. I’m glad the Dog Whisperer lives in California so I don’t have to worry about accidentally running into him at the park. Chester and Grendel have a lot to learn about being in the calm-submissive state Cesar Millan teaches people to work towards in their dogs.

Personally, I don’t think Chester (the Beagle) has ever forgotten that after one particular visit to the vet, he came home with a cone on his head, missing a dew claw and a certain other part of his anatomy I won’t mention by name. He has not forgiven the people at Harvester Animal Clinic, and has made it his quest in life to make every subsequent trip there miserable for all involved. See Chester in Action. Sure, he looks like a cute, roly poly Beagle, but inside Beelzebub awaits, complete with throaty growls and clawing.

Dogs chilling on a stop during their walk

Dogs chilling on a stop during their walk

My dear husband is ever faithful in taking them for nice, long walks that manage to work out some of that pent up energy. We have a large, fenced backyard for them to run around in, but it just doesn’t compare to exploring the great big world at the park. I, as a runner, have often thought it’d be great to have a four-legged running partner, but when I’ve tried it before it was a lot of tangled leashes and near-miss face plants. As a result, Darrell ends up taking those two on walks while my friend and running partner, Amy, and I run in the park. Over this past weekend, we had beautiful, sixty degree weather—uncommon for January in Missouri—and took them out to the trail in Woodlands Sports Park. They had not been out to take a park walk for about two months, so just getting the leashes out got them wound up.

We're on a walk!  As you can see by their faces, they get a little excited in the beginning of a walk and try to one-up each other.

We’re on a walk! As you can see by their faces, they get a little excited in the beginning of a walk and try to one-up each other.

Have you ever heard a Beagle’s bark? Bark is a term I use loosely to describe the sound Chester makes. It sounds more like a pig stuck in a barbed-wire fence trying to yodel. On the other hand, Grendel, the larger lab mix, has a squeaky little bark that really does sound like the honk a goose makes. The combination of the two is slightly more pleasant than nails on a chalkboard, and the volume is ear-splitting. This sound is repeated when we A.) Harness them up. B.) Get them to the car. C.) Arrive at the park and get them out of the car and D.) Encounter any other living creature on the path (but mostly when it’s other dogs). Once we get about two miles in, they are a little better, but they always seem to get their second wind. I am more exhausted when we take the dogs for three mile walks than when I do a ten-mile training run.

After a walk on a hot day, we get a little peace and quiet from two tired pups.

After a walk on a hot day, we get a little peace and quiet from two tired pups.

All of that being said, one would wonder why on Earth these two smelly, shedding, mess-making and obnoxious creatures bring so much joy into my life.

This is what happens when the guinea pig's Timothy Hay is not secured and we dare to leave the house.

This is what happens when the guinea pig’s Timothy Hay is not secured and we dare to leave the house.

My dogs, ill-behaved as they can be, are also a tremendous example of unconditional love. Even when I am sick, sad, stinky or grumpy, they want to be in the same room where I am—usually the closer the better. When I pull into the driveway, their little faces are there in the front window, greeting me with happy tails wagging. They wag their tales when I sing the goofy little songs I make up about them—even when the lyrics are not very flattering to them. They know exactly when I’m cold, and snuggle up to me. And they absolutely NEVER, EVER complain about my cooking.

      Grendel

So yes, those two yapping, anxious pups, who have the ability to make my blood pressure jump and my patience reach its end, also bring me the gift of peace. When I rub a round, plump dog-belly or scratch behind floppy ears I am reminded to slow down and enjoy the comforts of home. I watch them playing in the backyard with an old stick and remember joy can be found in simplicity. I see the two of them curled up snoozing and I’m reminded that a little nap is good for the spirit. And I know that I don’t ever return to an empty house—I always come home.

Snoozing Buddies

Snoozing Buddies

As the Kitchen Goes, So Does the Rest

I’ve posted before about how I continually seem to battle the natural disorder that likes to take over my house when I’m not looking . With the kids back in school, I’ve decided that I want to tackle some overdue projects that would simplify and make my life a little easier. My pantry has been bothering me for several years now, and I just felt overwhelmed by the whole premise of where to start. That could be because I started with Pinterest and the types of posts there about pantries have alphabetized spice racks and color-coded expiration date systems. I’ve not reached that level of organization. If I live to be 178 years old, I might.

My pantry is HUGE comparable to the size of our home. It’s a walk-in pantry that had some very deep, ill-spaced shelves. Not a good combination for people like us. Or more specifically me. I’m just a bit of a food hoarder. I don’t know why—we never went hungry as kids or anything and it’s not a result of my stocking up in bulk on the cheap. My friends have been known to say that in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse they are coming over to my house. I think I just grocery shop too much when I’m hungry and everything looks good. In any event, lots of non-perishable food would be brought home and get stashed in the pantry. So eventually there would be three opened boxes of Cheez-Its because the kids wouldn’t bother to dig out the already-opened box.

The more the problem pantry grew (literally), the less I felt inclined to deal with it. Quite the metaphor for life that contains all the elements of a First World Problem—overabundance breeding the problem of “too much” and then an overwhelming inability to know how to handle it. Or more accurately, the energy and desire to “fix” it.

Because I’ve found that as the kitchen goes, so does the rest of my life. When my kitchen’s a mess, it’s generally a reflection of how we’ve been spending our days. When it’s non-stop activities and not enough time at home, the kitchen is the first place to becoming the family dumping ground, minus the great family time around the kitchen table that’s supposed to be there. It’s living in survival mode, and it wears me down very quickly. Once I take an hour to just put away everything that’s wandered its way into the kitchen and polish up the stove top, I feel like I’ve regained a bit of myself.

Before I could get a decent before picture, Darrell had the shelves out.  This is what it looked like empty with builder's grade primer on the walls.

Before I could get a decent before picture, Darrell had the shelves out. This is what it looked like empty with builder’s grade primer on the walls.  Probably just as well–I cringe at the thought of my “before” pantry being out there for the world to see!

So over Labor Day weekend, with the help of my talented and very patient husband, we took every single thing out of the pantry, including those shelves. Darrell patched the walls and painted it a very generic color with a pole-dancer-sounding name, “Vanilla Delight” and we started over again. We came up with a different configuration of the shelves. We purged and re-thought how to organize the various types of foods, paper supplies, small appliances and baking sheets and pans that have been haphazardly put away over the last few years. A small step for mankind, to be sure, but a huge one for Amy.  It feels terrific, even if not everything has found its permanent home yet.

In all her painted glory. It took almost three quarters of a gallon of paint to cover just the pantry because the walls soaked it in.

 

I never want to revert to how we had the pantry before. Even if it means following my kids into the pantry and pointing out where the bread goes. Because, although I may never color code the expiration dates, it still looks pretty damn good. If you’ve got any great tips for pantry organization that don’t involve alphabetizing or color coding, share them with me in the comments.  I’d love to hear them.

The after. Still need to put a few of the shelves back in. Although you can’t see the exact contents, it made a difference having similar items put together and lesser used items put in the back corners. What comes naturally to some people was an epiphany for me!

Bloggin’–Yeah, It’s Personal

embarrassing

I’m pretty good at embarrassing myself and laughing about it. Probably because the types of things that embarrass other people I find amusing and as a person, I’m pretty much an open book. I am comfortable with who I am—I know I spend/eat/drink too much, laugh too loud at inappropriate things, and I’m not getting any younger. Most of the time these things don’t bother me, because they tend to make my life unfold in unexpected and humorous ways. Heck, I blog about them for the world to see. (Well, my wonderful 49 something followers at least!)

But this week got off to a rough start after dropping off Erin at camp. As much as I wanted to find humor in the moment, I still can’t personally. When I tell my close friends about it, I do make a point of highlighting the SNL skit-worthy parts, and glossing over the parts that aren’t so pleasant; it’s still too much of an open wound to laugh about.

I told my loyal, faithful, wonderful friend Amy, who played the role of angel-on-earth in our little drama, that hey, at least I have something to blog about. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would not be fair to my family to air dirty laundry on a blog—even if it’s just my take on things. Because while it’s one thing to laugh at my own follies, dragging my kids’ stories onto the internet for even just 49 people to see is violating the trust they have in me as their parent. And I don’t want to pay for their therapy when they’re 30.

I remember being a kid and not wanting my mom to tell friends and relatives “stuff”. And this was long before the internet was a forum to do it. We used to travel to visit relatives and take road trips. Long road trips in rural areas where there was not always a clean restroom for hours. I remember more than once having to make my dad stop so I could use the great outdoors, and I didn’t want anybody to know that I had to stop to pee in the weeds somewhere out on a country road. Of course, it was one of the first things talked about when they asked how our trip down had been. Oh, the embarrassment!

So, even though I occasionally forget that some things embarrass people more than they do me, I will never forget how being embarrassed feels. And feelings are pretty important—especially when you’re a kid.

Besides, when it comes to embarrassing stories I have a lot of my own material.   Did I ever tell you about the time….?

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