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  • Make Up Bag, Then and Now

    January 31, 2007

    If you are under the age of 27, you probably don’t want this information. Go on then and enjoy your firm skin and lip gloss and live life ignorantly blissful for another 20 years. And when you see me tweezing my chin in the car, just look the other way.

    Then: 1987
    Now: 2007

    Then: Lip Gloss (sparkly strawberry)
    Now: Lipstick (age-defying, non-bleeding, matte-finish)

    Then: Concealer for zits
    Now: Concealer for zits and dark circles

    Then: Mini-pad (in case I start)
    Now: Mini-pad (in case I sneeze)

    Then: Eyelash curler
    Now: Tweezers

    Then: Hair spray
    Now: Ponytail holder

    Then: Spare contact lens
    Now: Magnifying glass

    Then: Altoids
    Now: Skittles

    Canned Peaches

    January 29, 2007

    At what point in life do you start keeping canned peaches in the bathroom? And what does it mean?

    a) Collecting canned goods is my hobby
    b) I spend way too much time at the grocery store
    c) Sometimes I crave peaches at the mostly unlikely of times
    d) All of the above.

    On a recent visit to Tuna, I opened the linen closet in my father-in-law’s bathroom expecting to find, oh I don’t know, a washcloth or a towel or maybe even a Q-Tip. But no. Out rolled a #10 can of peaches onto my foot.

    Given that, I couldn’t resist the urge to snoop see what else might be lurking therein. Sure enough, there was a cache of Christmas presents dating back to 1998 (an impressive museum of Ronco gadgets, World’s Best Dad statues and soap on a rope) as well as a case of Allen’s green beans. It was like a little mini-convenience store. I almost expected to find a man named Apu and a Slurpee machine in the back.

    In the same way that life is about the journey and not the destination, and as hunting is about the thrill of the chase and not the catch, Papa George, my father-in-law, is not so much about the procurement of edibles, but about the bargain. And ladies, you yourself know that when you find a bargain, the first thing you want to do is burn up the phone lines to spread the good news. Papa George is no different. Except that for him it’s about canned goods and not shoes.

    AM: Hello.
    PG: Kroger got purple hull peas on three for 39.
    AM: Oh. Hi George. How ya doin’?
    PG: Smithfield bone-in ham, 99 cents a pound.
    AM: Oh me? I’m fine. My throat is a little sore. Thinking about seeing a doctor.
    PG: Allen green beans, the big cans, 49, usually 69.
    AM: Sean’s fine too. He’s at school today.
    PG: Love ya. Bye.
    AM: Love ya too Papa George. Bye.

    It’s Papa George’s own sort of love language. If he’s not calling to give you the market report, he doesn’t like you that much.

    But I digress. We were talking about peaches. It’s hard to imagine how one could wander off a topic as fascinating as that.

    Yes. So then. In case there is a quiz later, the answers to the original questions.

    From what I can surmise, the point in life at which one starts keeping peaches in the bathroom is about the same time the social security checks start rolling in. Now I know what you’re thinking – I would never keep peaches in my bathroom. Just wait until you get that AARP invitation before you start making judgements.

    And what does it mean? I don’t know. But, it’s really convenient when you get a hankerin’ for peaches while taking a bubble bath.

    PP Protocol

    January 26, 2007

    Overheard from the bathroom:

    Antique Daddy: Okay, aim…. Very good…. No Sean, you don’t need toilet paper.

    Sean: But Mommy give me toilet paper.

    Antique Daddy: Yeah, but she’s a girl and she doesn’t know any better.

    I’m Thinking Of Taking Up Tennis Again

    January 24, 2007

    Back in September, on the first day of school, Sean bounced right into the classroom and started playing with the train set. He didn’t look back or take notice when I left the room, so I left feeling smugly satisfied with how well it went. I flashed “poor you” glances at the mothers whom I passed in the hall on my way out, sobbing mothers pulling unwilling children down the hall like stubborn mules, mother’s whose children aren’t as secure and well adjusted as mine. Tsk.

    And that was the last time I took Sean to school without incident.

    Anytime I mention the word “school” the whining and negotiating begins.

    “Oh I don’t like school! I don’t want to go to school! I have too many important things to do at home!” he informs me. “Oh really?” I ask, “Like what?”

    “I have to play with you Mommy!”

    I should probably stop here to admit — I am fun. So there’s no countering that argument.

    Nonetheless. He needs to go to school two days a week because I have important things to do at home too. Like blog. Or go to TJMaxx.

    To no avail, I have tried everything I can think of to foster the idea that school is fun. “Sean!” I encourage, “There are little people to play with at school – people who are not in their 40s and peri-menopausal!” Even given that, he remains convinced that it’s more fun at home. I am quite certain that most of the dramatics are for me. I am certain that once I leave, he has swell time.

    To make the drop off a little less stressful (for me), at his insistence, I carry him into the school. I carry him, his coat, his backpack and whatever other crap I’m hauling into the school that day. And it’s a lot — more than my middle-aged joints appreciate. And I usually try to soothe and comfort him as I carry him hoping that he will brighten by the time we reach the door to his classroom. All the while he digs his nails into my neck and pretends to sob. All the while I suffer “poor you” glances. And if there is anything that will lift your spirits and bolster your confidence as a parent, it’s walking away as your kid screams for you while the other parents cast their eyes downward as they pass you in the hall.

    Be that as it may.

    One day recently I had had enough. The soothing-calm-super-nanny approach wasn’t working, so I opted for tough love. On that particular day, I was laden down like a pack mule with schtuff and I simply could not carry him. But I could drag him. And so I did. I no longer cared what anyone thought. He of course wailed and flailed the entire way, which drew gasps and disapproving looks from the tennis-skirt-wearing moms, but frankly, I did not care because with my elbows I’m not playing tennis anymore anyway. And then at 2:30, when I picked him up, we did it in the reverse.

    As I was dragging him across the parking lot like a drunken cowboy riding on his spurs, a tennis mom, who has never once spoken to me or acknowledged my existence, flashed me a Crest white strips smile and oh so helpfully observed, “Hey, didn’t I see this same scene on the way in this morning?” And boy was that edifying.

    Lucky for her I was armed with only an empty backpack and not my tennis racket. Because I still have a pretty mean backhand.

    The Poo Poo Driven Life Redux

    This post was originally published in May of 2006.

    The Poo Poo Driven Life

    After years of extensive research, okay really just a few days, I have developed a thoughtfully considered potty training system. By “thoughtfully considered” I mean it came to me the other night while I was sipping Sangria. Actually it’s not really a sytem, but a plan. Well, actually it’s not even a plan. It’s more like a whim. A whim that I’m marketing as the “The Poo Poo Driven Life”.

    Since Sean began showing an increased interest in using the toilet, I decided that maybe I should just talk about it more so that eventually he might think that eliminating, wiping and flushing in the potty is his own invention. So about a hundred times a day I will ask Sean if he has to a) pee pee or b) poo poo. And then for a follow-up question I ask, if so, is there any chance that he’d like to do either, a and/or b, on the potty like a big boy?

    “The Poo Poo Driven Life” potty training system is largely based on the concept that if you want to get a guy to do something, you’ve got to get him to think that it’s his idea. I learned this about my dad when I was a little girl and about men in general when I was a big girl. Batting your eyelashes doesn’t hurt either.

    Sean assumes a certain pose and glazed over expression that lets me know that poo is pending. So in keeping with my plan to eventually rule the world and live a diaper free existence, I ask him if he has any ideas about where one could go potty, perhaps, oh I don’t know, the potty? Just thinkin’ out loud. And then I batt my eyelashes.

    Perhaps I need to improve my technique. Perhaps I ask a little too anxiously, perhaps I smile a little too broadly and perhaps when I gesture like a crossing guard towards the bathroom a little too vigorously he gets the idea that this whole potty thing is really my idea, something that I would like. So then he says, “No (grunt) I need to (grunt) go poo POO in my DIIIIiiiyiii (grunt) PURH (grunt). And so then I say as evenly and off-handedly as I can, because why would I care, it’s not MY idea, “Whatever you need to do dude.” And I drop it. I do not want to make this an issue.

    However, when he does use the potty, I cheer and clap my hands and give him a lot of praise for a “job” well done so that he might think this is a good idea, an idea that he himself might even think of one of these days. This is what the child-rearing-potty-training-experts tell you to do. And this is the part of the system that is flawed because the other day after going poo poo in his diapers he started clapping his hands and giving himself a rousing round of applause. If you’re crappy and you know it clap your hands?

    “The Poo Poo Driven Life” potty training system needs more research, more thought and more Sangria before the book tour.

    BM For 3M

    January 22, 2007

    Earlier this week I was visiting with a friend whom I had not seen for a while. I was catching her up on all things Sean when she asked me if he was potty trained yet. I said good heavens no, but we were kind of working on it. Sorta. Maybe. And then she said, “Oh really? What do you think the problem is?”

    Problem? PROBLEM?

    For some reason that word got my hackles up. I did not think I had a problem.

    And to be clear, this is a dear friend who meant no offense and none was taken. But still. I felt defensive.

    And then I felt defensive about being defensive.

    While continuing one conversation with my friend outside of my head, I was having this one with myself inside my head: “He’s intelligent, he’s funny, he’s cheerful and he’s a good boy. So what if he’s still in diapers? Who cares? And another thing! It’s not like being potty trained at two is something you’re going to put on your resume.”

    Nonetheless. I do notice that many of the kids in his class are potty trained. But I’m pretty sure they aren’t nearly as funny as Sean. And when you are busy making your mother laugh, you can’t be bothered with stopping to defecate.

    I am convinced that when he decides that he’s done with diapers, it will have very little to do with me or anything beyond his own readiness. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

    In the meantime, I’m doing all I can without making it an issue. I am encouraging him with rewards from big boy underwear to a basket full of the coolest poop prizes you’ve ever seen including an entire new roll of Scotch tape! I mean really! Who wouldn’t poop for their own personal role of Scotch tape?!

    Just this morning I showed him the sugary array, the gummy splendor, the bounty of plastic that could be his if only he would just consider… He reached in the basket and fondled the roll of tape for a moment and then handed it back. “No thank you. I like to poo poo in my diaper.”

    And all you can say to that is, “No problem.”

    When Things Are Askew

    January 21, 2007

    This morning I was trying to get Sean dressed for Sunday school and made the mistake of trying to help him put on his socks. After he yelled, “NO! I DO IT MYSELF!” I deduced that he didn’t want my help. I’m intuitive like that.

    For three or four minutes, I watched him wrestle the sock onto his little square Fred Flintstone foot and somehow I managed to resist the unbearable urge to DO IT FOR HIM. After he got his sock on, I noticed that he had the heel part in the front and I advised him that perhaps he might want to turn it around.

    “You need to turn your sock around dude,” I said, “Your sock is askew. Can you say askew?”

    And then without missing a beat he said, “Okay, but then you have to say God bless you.”

    God bless you my funny little boy. How you make me laugh.

    The Freezer

    January 18, 2007

    The freezer is the place where you store food for two years before you throw it away.

    The End.

    No, not quite the end.

    After you chunk six cubic feet of unrecognizable two-year-old frozen gray matter into the trash, you haul it out to the curb for your most favorite of civil servants, the trash collectors — the saintly men who take away the diapers. And then the next morning, when you go out to get the newspaper, you find a ham bone on your driveway, the same ham bone that two years ago, you were going to use to make some gourmet soup. The soup you were going to serve in your delusional Martha Stewart world where you make quaint Christmas ornaments out of tin cans and paperclips and edible entrees out of chunks of frosty gray stuff. And then you scurry around in your robe in 29-degree weather picking 2004’s leftover Thanksgiving dinner off your neighbor’s lawn before the sun comes up.

    The End.

    Sorry Clarence Birdseye. It’s true. The only things I’ve ever used out of my freezer are: popsicles, Cool Whip and…. let me think – oh, ice cubes! And Margarita mix. That’s it. The four basic food groups.

    I hear of these large families who buy food on sale and they grow vegetables and they freeze it all. In a freezer! And then from the bounty of their freezer, they are able to feed their families of 29 for $1.37 a year! And I don’t know how they do it. Because for me, once something goes into the freezer, that’s the end of it – outta sight and outta mind! For two years!

    Well, out of sight until I’m picking it out of my bushes at 5:30 in the morning.

    Some Occasions Just Call For Fancy

    I went to Wal-Mart today and there was no incident. I just wanted to report that.


    Last week when Sean and I went grocery shopping, he was very insistent that he wear his dress shoes. With his sweatpants. I tried to tell him there was no reason to get all fancied up, that we were just going to Wal-Mart and he might not want to go to the trouble. But he was insistent saying, “I need to be fancy.” And well, I can understand that. Sometimes one needs to be fancy, even if it is just at Wal-Mart.

    The extra effort was not lost on the greeter.

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    Nothing To Complain About

    January 17, 2007

    After three months of freezing weather, too much cookie dough and entirely too much plenty of togetherness at the House of Antique, I am feeling the urge to complain. I am not a winter person. It seeps into my bones and settles into my soul. Like a chest cold. (Correction: Someone just mentioned that it hasn’t been three months, just three days. Sorry. My bad.) Ironically it was just this time last year I was feeling the same way. After I dislodged my nose from my navel I wrote the following post.

    Ode To Granny McKee

    Dear Granny McKee,

    You had long passed away by the time I married into your family, but I feel like I know you from the stories your children and grandchildren like to tell of you. Now that I have a child of my own, it is all the more that I admire you.

    On those days when I’m exhausted from the constant struggle of trying to shape one pint-sized caveman into a civilized human being and I’m up to my eyeballs in self-pity, I try to imagine what your life was like living out on the North Texas prairie in the early years of the century with seven children. It is then that I sober up and laugh at the absurdity of my mistaken notion of hardship.

    Sometimes I feel put upon to have to make yet another trip to the store (in my nice car and with my bottomless credit card) to buy disposable diapers and wipes to manage the never-ending cycle of diapers. Then I think of you with your two sets of twins less than three years apart. No indoor plumbing and no electricity — nothing but a bucket of water from the well and a scrub board. I know you could tell me a thing or two about never-ending diapers.

    Then there are times I imagine myself a martyr because I occasionally sacrifice the few hours of free time I have in a week to lend someone a hand. But then I recall my mother-in-law telling me how as a little girl she would hear you leave the house in the middle of the night to go deliver a baby or care for someone who was sick or to sit up with the dead, as they did in those days. I guess the fact that I no longer have time to sit down and read a novel anymore doesn’t really qualify as a sacrifice, does it?

    You would probably find it ridiculous that I groan about having to go to the grocery store when everything on your table was put there after a season of planting, tending, harvesting, peeling, chopping and cooking. And when the Texas skies were stingy with the rain, as they often are, then even all that work didn’t yield enough to feed nine mouths sufficiently. Your children like to tell of how never a Sunday passed that you didn’t invite the traveling preacher and his family home for Sunday dinner and then how afterwards you would send them on their way with a basket of leftovers. In spite of having to work so hard for so little, you shared what little you had, often at the expense of your own family.

    And after you had raised all of your seven children and were at a point in your life when you could indulge your own desires, you raised your oldest grandson, who in my book is one of the finest men I know. Except for Sarah Lee pound cake in your later years, self-indulgence was something with which you were unfamiliar.

    Thank you Granny McKee for the example of your noble life. I am so proud that my son shares in your heritage. I pray that he has inherited your steely spine and your heart for sacrifice and service.


    Sean’s Mom