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  • It Doesn’t Get Much Better

    December 16, 2008

    Awhile back our church had a food drive of some sort and there were rows of filled grocery sacks lined up in the lobby.  As we walked past,  Sean noticed  that one of the sacks had a big bag of marshmallows on top.  “Oh Mom!” he exclaimed, “Do you think we could get some marshmallows some day?”  I told him I thought we might be able to swing that.

    * * *

    For his recent birthday,  he said he wanted a headset that had a mouthpiece so he could be an air traffic controller.  No problem.  I dug out an old telephone headset from the obsolete electronics box, wrapped it up and called it a birthday.  And he was thrilled.  Since then, many an airplane has been safely landed in my den.

    * * *

    And this! This is what he said he wants for Christmas. It just so happens that his teacher at school has one.


    A trip to the teacher store this morning and $3.99 and my Christmas shopping is done.  Oh I’ll get him something else too — what kind of mom do you think I am?   I’ll probably spring for a nice orange or maybe even a new pair of underwear.

    * * *

    These days when I can make his every wish come true are golden, especially given that I can grant any wish for for $5 or less.  When his desires move beyond a bag of marshmallow or a roll of scotch tape, I could be in trouble.

    Birthday Party Theme: Obscure Minimalism

    November 9, 2008

    Last Saturday, Sean had his first ever birthday party beyond the standard cake and ice cream at home with family and friends.

    Last school year, we attended approximately 187 birthday parties thus making him fully aware that he was being rooked out of a party and that his mother was somewhat of a slacker in this regard.  So this year, we agreed to a class party.

    Earlier in the year, Sean attended a birthday party at a nearby gymnastics place and it worked out well, so I totally copied and rented the same facility.  Why re-invent the party wheel? I see no reason.

    So then this past week I spent my spare time trying to pull together the details for said party.  I really had no idea where to start.  Although I’ve attended kidlet birthday parties, I guess I wasn’t paying attention. There were midget barbarians and cake and that’s all I remember. I self-medicated with icing and the rest is a blur. 

    So I set off to Party City looking to get a clue and buy a party. 

    When I got there I trolled up and down the aisles looking for shindig supplies and hoping what I needed would become apparent and jump in my basket.  I settled in a row that seemed to have boy party stuff.  I stood looking at a wall of party hats and party favors and party napkins and all manner of party crap supplies wondering what in the heck I was doing.  Another mom was in the aisle filling her basket like one of Santa’s elves.  “I have no idea what I’m doing,” I said more or less to myself. 

    “What’s your theme?” she asked helpfully. 


    She nodded expectantly. “Batman? Spiderman?” 

    “Well, I really haven’t decided on a theme just yet,” I lied. 

    A look of horror came over her face.  She seemed shocked and appalled by this bit of information. 

    “Well, once you decide on a theme, you can decide on a center piece,” she chirped.  

    “Oh,” I said and nodded knowingly as liars often do.  It had not occured to me that five-year-olds would give a flip about a center piece. 

    I stood there for another 30 minutes scratching my head and looking at “themes” from Batman to Sponge Bob.  Nothing seemed right.  By design, Sean has no idea who any of those characters are.  I finally decided the theme was Birthday and the center piece would be Cake. And for a creative and unexpected touch I would have balloons.  

    I ordered 15 theme-less balloons and left the store. 

    Fun and cake was had by all the midget barbarians in spite of the lack of theme. 

    However it is highly likely that I will not be put in charge of class parties any time soon. 

    See? There is an upside to being incompetent.

    Snack Mishap

    October 10, 2008

    Here’s one more thing I don’t get about parenting:  snacks.

    Apparently, if children are gathered, there must be snacks.  I had no idea about the snacks. The nurse didn’t mention this at the hospital when they handed Sean over.

    We are in our second season of baseball and last year I learned the hard way about the snacks when one of the moms asked who was bringing the snacks.

    “Snacks?” I blurted. “What do we need snacks for?”

    And everyone looked at me like I was Joan Crawford weilding a coat hanger.

    I just didn’t get it. It was an 8am game. I had just fed Sean breakfast. We would be home at 9:30.  I thought I was a pretty good mom because I had remembered to bring him a bottle of water. Why the snacks? Why? I really do not need another thing at which to fail.

    So that I would not have to endure the wrath and contempt of the baseball moms who intuitively understand about snacks, I signed up for snacks. And then I went home and wrote SNACKS! on sticky notes and put them all over the house so that I wouldn’t forget and get stoned by an angry mob of snack demanding moms and 4-year-olds.

    We are in our second season of baseball and I am now in the know.   I know about the snacks, oh yes I do. I found the snack coordinator and signed up right off the bat.  (Oh how I crack myself up.)

    Sean’s games are on Saturday morning, but due to Hurricane Ike a few Saturday’s ago, we had a makeup game on a Monday evening. And no one brought snacks (cue audience gasp).

    The next Saturday, I was sitting in the stands behind some baseball moms and I overheard one of the moms telling the others in a hushed tone about the Monday night “snack mishap”.

    The phrase “snack mishap” cracked me up. I laughed out loud — which if you were sitting two rows in front of me would appear to be for no apparent reason.

    So then, now I’m the weird anti-snack mom who also laughs inappropriately.

    I’m hoping Sean will take up golf. I hear there are no snacks in golf.

    Child Labor

    October 7, 2008

    So yes, since the economy has totally tanked, I thought it would be a good time to re-do my guest room.  We may be taking in boarders or relatives. You never know.

    Actually, I’ve been wanting to re-do my guest room for – let’s see, we’ve lived in this house for eight years – so that would be eight years that I’ve been wanting to re-do my guest room.  The good thing about procrastination is that by default you bypass a lot of really bad home decor trends, trends like the Northwoods plaid and cabbage roses, that somehow made sense at the time. 

    So for whatever reason, this was the week that God laid it on my heart I decided to re-do the guest room and so I set off this morning to find bedding, which is where I always start with design, the fabric. I should say here that I’ve been looking for bedding for — let’s see — eight years, and nothing has really grabbed me. So I decided that if nothing is really going to grab me, I might as well not be grabbed by something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. 

    As luck would have it, I found myself in Dillards today and their bedding had just been marked down to 75% off.  It was 40% off yesterday, but today 75%.  Now I’m not one to ascribe the will of God to bedding because who am I? I don’t know anything.  But clearly God wanted me to have some new guest bedding or He wouldn’t have marked it down.  So, I got the quilt, skirt, two shams, sheets and a decorative pillow for about $70.  Yay me.

    After I picked Sean up from school, I told him we were going to do something really fun and then I introduced him to the joy of stripping wallpaper.  At one point when we were up to our knees in postage stamp sized bits of gooey red wallpaper, he turned and pointed the scraper at me and said, “This is the funnest day EVER!” And he really meant it.

    Is it considered child labor if they like it?

    I promise to show y’all before and after pictures just as soon as I have some after to show you, something more than little red pieces of wallpaper.

    Standing On The Oven

    September 19, 2008

    One day, when Sean was somewhere beyond a year old but not yet two, I was walking by the oven and unexpectedly, he reached out and grabbed the handle to the oven door. He grabbed so tightly that it yanked me backwards and backed me up a few steps. And he wouldn’t let go.

    So being an irresponsible but fun-loving parent who often uses her child solely for her own amusement, I set his teeny tiny feet on the door of the lower oven and removed my hands from him (about an inch). He let out a squeal of joy that was heard in the heavens.

    Thereafter, anytime I would walk past the oven, he would grab onto it and I would let him stand on it removing my hands from him a little further each time. Eventually it got to the point where he would crawl in front of the oven, pull himself up and point upwards and grunt. I know. The weirdness, it is genetic and it comes from my side of the family, my mother’s people. He is also an amazingly strong, sure-footed little fella, a trait that also comes from my side of the family.

    All that to say, in the picture in yesterday’s post, Sean is actually standing on the oven and I am barely out of the frame spotting him. So I may have overstated the creativity of the cropping. It wasn’t all that creative. However, In the 45,000 times he stood on the oven, he never once came close to falling.

    Here’s a picture of him post-oven standing so you can see the joy and why I was unable to say “No my child, you may not stand on the oven.”

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    This picture was not taken in 2002. However it was taken before we figured out how to change the date on the camera. I guess I could have Photoshopped that out.

    Are The Cookies Done Yet?

    September 18, 2008

    I thought I’d show y’all this picture of Sean when he was about a year old so that you might realize that letting him ride his bike on the front lawn without a helmet is not even close to the most questionable of my parenting practices.

    And now you can say, “Well at least I never let my baby hang off the front of the oven!” and go away feeling better about your own parenting. I am here to serve. My gift to you.

    * * * * *

    Note: Creative cropping people, creative cropping. And, the oven is not ON because, Hello!? Safety first.

    Chain Yankin’ Episode #7

    August 29, 2008

    One of the many many delicious things about having a four-year-old about the house is that you can really get away with yankin’ their little chain, because, you know, they are only four and they’ll believe almost anything you tell them.

    I know. I know. It really says something about you when you can trick a four-year-old.

    On the other hand, I once convinced my Cousin Cheryl that I had won a trip to Zimbabwe in a random drawing when I purchased some luggage at Foley’s. None of it was true – no luggage, no drawing, no trip to Zimbabwe. I don’t even know why I brought it up. At that moment, it just seemed like fun to yank Cheryl around a little and luggage came to mind. It almost made me sad when I had to tell her the truth a day or so later. She used to live in Africa and I think she was trying to figure out how she was going to go with me.

    It’s kind of thrilling to see if you can come up with just the right detail and insert it in just the right spot with just the right amount of nonchalance to convince the victim and then gauge their expression to see if they are buying into it.

    I also once convinced AD for more than a week that Rhode Island was named after my mother’s ancestors who came to America in the 1700s. My mother’s ancestors did come to America in the 1700s but so far as we know, no one named a state after them, even a small one. (He just reminded me that he recently convinced me the remote control was voice activated. For a full five minutes I was talking into the TV remote saying, “Volume up! Volume up!”  So you see, it works both ways.)

    Be that as it may – story telling or chain-yankin’ as the case may be is one of my many non-income producing talents and makes me very popular and well-loved among family and friends as you might well imagine.

    And now I have a four-year-old to mess with (rubbing hands gleefully).

    This morning, Sean slept in a little later than usual and so I took the opportunity to make some muffins. When he finally got up and followed his nose to the kitchen they were done and sitting on the stove cooling.

    “Oh mommy, did you make muffins?” he asked.

    And I could not stop myself.

    “These? No I didn’t make these.”

    “Well, who did?”

    “Well, funny you should ask,” I said with just the right degree of nonchalance.

    “I was here in the kitchen working on my computer at my desk, when I heard a little bell in the distance. Sounded just like an ice cream truck and I thought, ‘That’s weird, an ice cream truck this time of day?’ but I didn’t think anything more about it and I went right back to my computer.

    Well, the next thing you know, I heard a little tap tap tap at the kitchen window and I looked up and there was a little round man wearing a white hat standing in the shrubs and motioning me to the window. I raised the window just a bit and oh my goodness, the sweet smell of something filled the air, like cake or cookies or something. ‘Yes?’ I asked him, ‘Are you here to check the meter?’ ‘No ma’am’ he said ‘I’m the muffin man and I was wondering if you’d like some muffins.’ ‘Why yes!’ I told him, ‘My little boy loves muffins! What kind do you have?’ He said he had blueberry and bran and so I said we would take six of each.

    Well, he walked down the driveway to his little white truck and when he opened up the two little doors in the back – oh my! The aroma of fresh baked muffins filled the entire neighborhood! The smell was so captivating that the birds fell right off the telephone lines. He had a little bitty bakery right in the back of his truck! Can you imagine such a thing?! Well, he came back with the muffins and I handed him some money through the window. I turned to set them down and when I looked up to thank him he was gone but for the sound of a little bell in the distance.”

    Sean cocked his head and squinched one eye shut. “Are you teasin’ me?” he asked skeptically.

    “Sean,” I said, “I would not tease about something as serious as muffins.”

    “I think you’re teasing,” he said.

    Then he got up and looked out the front window.

    Blue Berries

    July 22, 2008

    Saturday morning, after breakfast, I scooped Sean out of the barstool he was sitting in at the breakfast bar and spirited him off to the kitchen counter to wipe blueberry goo from his face and hands and legs before he ran off to spread blueberry goo throughout the kingdom. 

    As I carried him around the breakfast bar, he clasped his sticky blue hands behind my neck and wrapped his long legs around my waist and tried to plant  bluberry kisses on my nose which I pretended to rebuff. 

    I looked into his blueberry blue eyes and thought about how I used to sit him on the counter in a blue feeding chair and sing silly made-up songs to him to get him to eat.  He would laugh a toothless laugh and then open his mouth wide like a hungry baby bird.  My spirit would float up to the ceiling as light as a feather to think that I had made him laugh.

    Now he feeds himself and my made-up silly songs annoy him more than amuse him. 

    At that moment I was hit by that invisible chest crushing blow that I sometimes get when I realize that I am no longer a new mom and he is no longer a new boy.  That season of our lives is over.

    I plopped him down on the counter and began rubbing blue residue off his hands and face and legs with a wet washcloth.

    “Oh Sean,” I sighed, “I’d like to put you back in my tummy and do it all over again.  Only this time I’d do it better,” I said.  “I know what I’m doing now.”  I allowed myself to retreat to a quiet place in my mind as I scrubbed and imagine the joy of doing it all again and the mistakes I wouldn’t make.

    Just then the air was pierced with a jarring yelp.

    “Ow!” he screamed. “Stop rubbin’ Mom! That’s not blueberries!  That’s my boo boo!”

    I had rubbed a little scab off his ankle and it was bleeding.

    Huh. Whadya know. Looked like blueberry goo to me.

    Or then again, maybe I still don’t know what I’m doing.

    Strutting Away. Not In The Bible.

    June 26, 2008

    There’s a particular little boy that Sean plays with sometimes who I would describe as “all boy”.  He is a bit more rough and tumble than Sean and uses language that we don’t use  try not to use don’t approve of at our house.


    Periodically, Sean will tell me he doesn’t like playing with Billy and then gives me an earful of what kinds of things this little guy says.  With great judgment and condemnation Sean reports that Billy calls him a poo poo head and says idiot and butt and that he doesn’t like that.


    He looks to me for agreement.


    I can see in his face he wants me to jump on his bandwagon and say, “Yeah! That Billy!”  But I don’t say it. Out loud.  He then folds his arms across his chest with a harrumph, furrows his brow and pokes out his bottom lip to demonstrate the disdain he has for Billy.


    I stop what I’m doing and look into his face.  “Well Sean, some people use those kinds of words, but we don’t.  We don’t think those are nice words,” I tell him.


    “Well I’m not going to play with him anymore!” he says and harrumphs his arms to his chest again, this time adding a little foot stomp for effect.


    “You know Sean, sometimes it’s better to continue to play with someone and just try to be a good example by being kind and not using ugly words,” I tell him.  As I say this, I realize it’s asking a lot of a four-year-old.  


    And then I add, “But sometimes, you just have to find someone else to play with.”


    He considers this for a moment.


    “Well the next time he calls me a poo poo head, I’m just going to strut away!”


    The mental image of Sean Travolta strutting across the playground made me laugh.


    And then the mental image of a strutting Christian made me queasy.


    The Self-Judgment Starts Around 8am

    January 18, 2008

    When I was growing up, my mother fixed my brothers and me a hot breakfast every day before school — usually an egg and toast, sometimes a bowl of oatmeal. Never cold cereal.   Breakfast bars hadn’t been invented yet.


    My mother isn’t one to look down upon or feel superior to others, but she definitely frowned upon women who sent their kids to school on an empty stomach.  Still does.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Then happy hour.


    Consequently, I am in the 50% of the population who likes to eat something of a morning.  Consequently, I try to get my child to eat something of a morning. Unfortunately, he seems to be in the 50% of the population, along with Antique Daddy, who don’t want to eat anything before noon.  Weirdos.


    Yet, every morning I get up, I make eggs and toast, or pancakes, or sometimes I even offer him a cereal bar, trying to get him to eat breakfast, trying to squish him into the me-shaped box.  Then after breakfast, I scrape the untouched eggs and toast into the trash and pour his cold coffee down the drain.


    And then I frown upon myself for sending my kid to school without breakfast.