Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Joseph on the Shelf

When we hauled the Christmas decor upstairs, Joseph lost his head.


For several years, part of our holiday traditions include re-gluing Joseph's head back on. My brother gave us this manger scene the first year that we were married, and it has had a place of honor every year since. The scene depicted is, after all, what our family holiday centers around.

But, like Mary and Joseph, we had some kids. And like all but one of theirs, our kids are not perfect. One of ours knocked Joseph to the ground and he lost his head. My first line of repair is always the hot glue gun. It seemed to work for this project,too.

Every time. Enter that tradition.

But this year, now almost two weeks since the arrival of Joseph to the living room, I was a little slow on the repair. The fact that it didn't horrify the kids was my chief excuse.

"I see Joseph still has no head," they would say. It was as if they thought, "Don't all manger scenes depict a headless patriarch?"

But I should fix it.

Yesterday I hauled the glue gun upstairs (yes, it's soooo heavy). Then I located ammo sticks.

And that's as far as I got in the process that day.

Today I passed by Joseph and grabbed his head with the full intention of reuniting it with his body. But then I thought about the Elf on the Shelf (EOTS).

I can't say anything that hasn't already been said about this Elf creature. If he's your thing, I'm sure it's a very charming family tradition. Much sweeter than my headless Nazarene.

I'm not a fan. It seems like more work than I want to add to my plate at this time of year. If I have to make excuses for the Tooth Fairy not arriving, then I'm pretty sure I won't be able to keep up with EOTS.  And  I have  used so many excuses for why the Tooth Fairy didn't come through, that I created a TOS for her several years ago.

Tooth Fairy Terms Of Service:

You must notify a parent when a tooth falls out. A parent MUST call the Tooth Fairy Hotline (TFH) and set an appointment. The secret number of the TFH is only given when an adult becomes a parent, a ndif the number is given to a child, all services to that household will cease. If a scheduling call is made past normal office hours, the Tooth Fairy MAY choose to postpone the visit by a night; if the child attempts to trick the Tooth Fairy in any way, she will also postpone for an additional day. If the child complains, the parent may call to postpone another day. The Tooth Fairy is a very busy woman, works by appointment only, and sometimes misses appointments due to unforeseen emergencies, or inclement weather in other parts of the world.  If this occurs, a representative of the TFH may call a parent after the child is asleep and reschedule.


Inspired by several PinterUberBloggingBSMoms overly saccharine EOTS posts- I decided to let Joseph play Elf on the Shelf. I figured that if the elf could narc on kids to Santa, Joseph certainly had a direct line to Jesus.

Am I right?

At first I thought it might be offensive- this is, afterall, a statuette of the human father of Jesus. But then I figured it was just a statuette. If someone worships a statuette I think that falls under worshipping false idols and God would have more issue with them, leaving me free to scoot around that person, and badda bing- heaven.

Besides, if you think that this Anglo inspired fella looks anything like the real Joseph, you might need some geography and history lessons.

File Joseph's Head on a Shelf under: That's Not Creepy At All.

Right next to Elf on the Shelf.

He seas you.

Actually ON a shelf

This probably smells a lot better than the stable

Cheese Head or Head Cheese- you pick

I seriously might keep this here

This would totally freak out my husband

Sweet dreams, Joseph

Friday, November 23, 2012

Picking A Side: Black Friday Shopping

This is not a shocking revelation. It's not a thought unique to me, I'm simply picking a side to stand on.

I've been debating Black Friday shopping in my head the last couple of days. I've read cute posts on facebook and twitter about waiting in line and the comradery of being with loved ones and friends. I've seen the sales ads with the great deals, and yes, if you can score one of those limited quantities, and it's something that is on your list and in your budget- that would be something. The thrill of the hunt and all.

I've seen the pictures, the video of the worst of the mayhem. I can only assume that most scenarios aren't quite that greedily horrific, most shopping experiences don't have the level of ugly consumerism that are in those images. They can't can they?

But the potential is there.

While I won't piss on anyone's fun- everyone has their things and if Black Friday shopping is one of yours- you go for it! Have fun! Enjoy! Share the cost of all your hard won deals and get all your Christmas shopping done before I even finish off the pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving.

Score those discounted items and have that special time with your people! That really would be the only appeal for me because, honestly, I don't think I have the stomach for it.  The worry and wonder alone of possibly having to witness one of those worst case scenarios would suck any joy out of  the outing.

Like I said, it's not shocking or earth shattering or even all that important...but Black Friday shopping is not my thing. I spent the day helping my kids clean out closets and toy chests full of their own former materialistic dreams.

I also ate pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Part of my planting...

As part of my planting season, as in the past couple of years, during November I am participating in NaNoWriMo.

Oh great, another wanna be novelist talking about how awesome NaNoWriMo is...


But not really.

I firmly believe that the best way to grow is to push yourself. See what you are made of. Challenge yourself as you have never challenged yourself before. Do this in WHATEVER your thing is and you will learn a lot about YOUR THING, but also heaps about YOURSELF.

(I'll stop yelling now.)

Last year I finished NaNo in 19 days. I loved my story. I loved it so much that I went back and started to rewrite it...then I found another story that I loved, so I wrote that. And I loved that so much that I started NaNo.

Yeah, so logical. I know.

Today, Day 7 of the NaNo challenge to write a 50K novel in 30 days, I hit word number 25K.

Week one, half done.

But being ahead of my pace isn't all that I am challenging myself  with this NaNo. I also am collaborating on  the story with my 16 year-old daughter. Her 16K and my 50K is a nice sized story, and we thought that it would be fun to take the solitary activity of writing and make a parent/kids activity out of it.

Our novel is a mother-daughter tale about life, loss, love, and learning to accept, embrace and polish what you are given into a unique and wonderfully gleaming gem of a life.

It's also a love story about mothers and daughters...and there is a mermaid, because both my daughter and I kinda love mermaids.

It might suck in the end, but I don't think it does. My gut tells me otherwise.

See, one of the lessons that I have learned since doing my first NaNo was HOW to listen to my gut. And, I don't know if this is universal, but when my gut talks, it's actually IN MY GUT. It's this weird glowy feeling warming up my belly and radiating to my heart.

Once this challenge is complete, then I will leap with joy into the next challenge unlike last year.

I am going to stop writing novels.

Well, I'm going to stop STARTING them and stopping before they are rewritten. I'm going to accept, embrace and polish them. I'm going to listen to my gut and not start another until the two that I have done this year- and the one that I did last year -are polished bright and shiny into unique and wonderfully gleaming gems.

A lot of bloggers post chapters or excerpts from their NaNo's- but I'm not one of them. I'm not comfortable doing that right now.

But I will share the goofy cover that my daughter and I made for this project.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I suck

I don't really think I suck. Not now, anyway. I have a fairly healthy level of self-worth that outweighs my level of self-loathing by a pretty high margin. But I suck at following through on my promise to this blog. Last post I promised that I would be,"back in a sec" and I'm only just doing that now. Gonna claim Mom Time (that abstract and highly subjective measurement system) on this.

So, where have I been? What's up with this epiphany I had? Here it is:
I made these stones years ago for my garden. Then my whole self-worth was tied to being a good mom- which is not a bad thing, but being a good mom isn't the only thing.

At the beginning of this year I was poised for change. The year previously had been full of exciting changes as I morphed from full-time SAHM to some pretty exciting roles. It was fun and I wanted more!

That year I began to write a weekly newspaper column and- most importantly- began to be paid for my writing which did a hell of a lot in justifying the time and energy I put into it. It also gave me a sense of validity and purpose.

And mail.

Have you ever gotten, oh this sounds pretentious- fan mail? I never did, why would I? OK, the " Worlds Greatest Mom" notes my kids have given me through the years are pretty much the most fabulous fan mail ever and very, very valuable.

But from strangers?To know that someone who has no reason to read what you write, hear what you say... to listen, is listening? It's heady. And flattering. And humbling.  And I hope that I never get used to it and take it for granted, but I also hope that I never let it be the only voice that tells me I'm doing a good job. I need to know that internally. But not excessively. That's a pretty fancy dance and I hope that I learn it with the grace an important dance like this requires.

But that wasn't the only change that year- I also began to co-host the podcast at the same time. Also life altering for the amount of work that it requires, and the people that I have met because of it- but the most amazing part for me was being asked to participate. I was a SAHM, a blogger- not a historian. But the prospect of the challenges and personal growth was overwhelming. I had to do it. Had to. Just like I had to have kids, and I had to marry the man that I did- I can't really explain it more than that.

2011 was a crazy busy and changing year and I was ready for it to continue into 2012. I was excited to see where life would take me and what windows of opportunity would allow me to leap through them. I was open for change and convinced that change would happen.

So, what happened?

Nothing. Changed


Standing at the open door and screaming, "Come on change! Show me my destiny!" did nothing.

(That was figurative, by the way.)

I worked editing one of the novels I had written the year before; I started a new one. I studied and wrote and wrote some more- but nothing changed. A couple things did cross my desk- one I tried and failed, one I decided wasn't worth the time that I would have had to devote to it and never leaped at it.

I felt like I was working hard and had nothing new to show for it. It was wheel-spinning at it's worst. I was frustrated. And disappointed. And really did feel like I sucked. My marriage suffered, some other personal relationships suffered- I didn't even want to be around me.

But then I had an epiphany when I stepped outside and saw those stones in my garden:

Not all years are meant for big, visable change. Some years you plant, and some years you harvest and both are of equal importance. Both create change.The harvesting years are more exciting, more visably rewarding for sure. You have something to show for the work.

But the planting years? No appreciative mail for planting, no visable ( or financial) reward for it either. But without it, you have nothing to harvest.


So I am still happily planting. Change will come. It may not be loud and flashy- it may just sneak up on me like it had always been there. I don't know. But until it does, I'm focusing on planting.

Friday, September 14, 2012

I'll be back in a sec...but take a moment to think about your joy

Yes, I know it's been a long time. And I'm sorry. And I'll post about why soon. BUT I wanted to slap this down here because it made me smile.

I write. I love to write. I get high writing. It is not my end all and be all, but it is one of the greatest joys in my life

A parental optimal scenario is when our kids find our life joys for themselves and you both get to splash around and play in that joy together.

Brian has Luke and sports.

I have Bekah and writing.

And then there is Noah.

He is only in second grade. He's fairly athletic but there isn't one particular sport that he seems to find his joy in. He is smart but I don't see him as being drawn to one pursuit. It will happen, Noah will find a joy. Luke found joy like that, slowly over time through grade school. I found joy like that and it took me even longer. I'm simply thrilled to be a part of his personal search and discovery journey.

In the past year or so he has been writing. School assignments, a journal, simple one page, one paragraph essays...he seems to be able to put his moods onto paper. I want to save them all, even the ones with all the spelling mistakes and anger and cross outs. But he is very prolific.

Yesterday he brought home this. He seemed very proud of it, told me that his teacher always smiles when she reads his papers and that he likes making her smile. Maybe she smiles at every paper from every kid, I don't know. But when I read this answer on a test about a book that they read in class it made me smile, too.

"Real frogs don't spend there hole day raking leves. real frogs swim all day and eat bugs so they are way different from each other. Thank you and good night."
He may still be on a journey to find his joy, but reading my kid's voice in an essay question on a test is another one of mine.

Thank you and good night!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nothing dies on the internet

We all know (or we should) that anything that is posted online is going to live forever. OK, it might not, but we should treat everything that we post online as if it were to live forever. We should also assume that the person we would least want to see it, will. Remembering those two things will ensure that online life stays fairly drama free.

If we wanted to add on another thought- we should remember Rule 34: if it exists, there is porn of it. I'm not into that, but I twist the rule around a bit to remind myself that whatever I put on here, this blog that gets only nominal hits, can be used for gross and perverse acts. I do put  some pictures of my children here, because I use this space to keep far flung family and friends caught up on their antics. And some of those pictures are funny. And this is sort of a family memory space.

So I try to think of any possible outcome of my words, and I weigh the pros and cons before posting things on here. Obviously, I can't think of every outcome, but live with my choices to post.

Sometimes I look at my stats (they are on the rise, thanks for reading!) and today I found this way down the list of searched words that landed people here:

The post that linked to this one was a tale I recounted back in 2009 of a sweet older woman who helped get me into some icy Maine water. But the only picture on that post was this:

Not the older woman who got me into the water, but me in my (arguably) old lady swimsuit and sarong sitting on the beach in Maine.


Now I have to wonder if that is the old lady on the beach image that someone was looking for....and if there is an application of Rule 34 of it floating around the webs.

On the flip side, when I AM an old woman I will have this to look back on as me in my younger years. Maybe I won't cringe.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

We're Just the Girls

Today Bekah and I went shopping. It was a rare trip for the two of us, usually one, or both, of the boys come along. But today, it was just us girls traipsing through Walmart, Target, a resale shop and two grocery stores. (What? I like to spread my retail expenditures all around.)

The first two stores are necessary evils as far as I am concerned. When the highlight of the trip is a new shower curtain, you know it's low on the thrill scale. Also, the music was so horrid, I won't even comment on it.

As we shopped in the first  grocery store, it was disco music that got us. This store plays 70 and 80's music loudly, which tells me that they know me. OK, it tells me that they know their demographic and I am it. My teenage daughter knows some of this music, mostly because she hangs around with me. And because she hangs around with me, she has learned to not be embarrassed. Embarrassment is futile. It won't stop me, and probably will encourage me.

Her motto: What the hell, do as Mom does.

We did our best disco moves in the bread aisle. Although, my Tony Manero saunter to the check out lines probably will appear on the Shoppers- Cam Blooper Reel at the next store employee party.

At the second grocery store they like to play more recent (last ten years) pop music. As we were leaving, pushing the final cart out of the final store into the incinerator disguised as a parking lot, we both started head banging at the same moment. And not in a subtle mature way either. Hair flying head banging. Hang onto the cart, Mama or you will fall over head banging. At the end of the chorus my daughter turned to me, laughed and said, "I love us." Heart melted like ice cream in that parking lot. Heart melt. I love us, too.

Monday, July 2, 2012

What the heck?

June 4th? That's the last time I posted?

Am I blog fading? Taking a long, slow spiral to non-postland?


Have I been hospitalized or have I experienced a painful demise of key electronics?


Have I been working on some really exciting new project that I'm just waiting for the right time to reveal?

No, not really. Sadly. That would have been a great excuse, but no, the reason I haven't posted isn't as exciting. It's my kids. They are fine, but active. And loud. And home.

We are planning a special vacation later this summer, one of those when personal history meets new adventures meets a really beautiful location with a lot of people who are dear to us. But this vacation is sucking up all our fun money (not that we had a lot of that to begin with), and we can't really afford many fun jaunts in the meantime. So the kids and I have been home. Together. Doesn't that sound like fun? (It can be, but usually it's not. And, before you ask, it doesn't equal a really clean house either)

So I have been home and distracted by three very different children- one of them likes to watch reality shows with me (Oddities is our newest one);one likes to make videos of him playing video games; and one likes to read, and if I sit down to read my books at the same time, she smiles. To her, this is spending quality time together.

We have been hanging out at home. except when the boys played baseball. The long, hot and painful (to me) season just ended. Luke didn't have his greatest year playing wise, and Noah is starting to figure out how to  play well and hates to lose. Luke was a great sport who didn't have a good season; Noah was a poor sport who had a pretty good season that ended with a heartbreaking nail-biting final game.

Luke has moved on to football, Noah has moved on to memorizing everything about Indiana Jones. And me/ I'm opening up the projects that have sat dormant for a couple of months. Re-reading them, re-editing them and maybe one of these days one of them will morph into one of those exciting new projects that I can share.

Monday, June 4, 2012

That's a "Duh"

The other day I was wondering why I am having such a hard time getting work done this summer. I carried on about it in a post: I feel like I am chasing my tail, getting nothing done but being exhausted from the actions.

Then I saw the forest through the trees.

OK, THEN I mixed metaphors- which is pretty much how I have been feeling this summer, so it works. But I came to see if there are any comments (you like to read, not write, I get it) and my eyes fell to the blog header.

The name of this blog. The tagline of this blog. THAT is why I am having such troubles. If the kids are home, then I am a SAHM. That is the job that needs so much of my energy. The kids questions, wants, and presence are the top and middle of my To Do List. That's what my head is telling me, anyway. (And my wallet, too, since a lot of what I do isn't exactly a huge revenue creator)


Now...how to fix it?

All I'm seeing is trees and tail.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Got some 'splaining to do...

Can someone explain this to me: My kids are now older- 15, 13 and 7. They don't require a great deal of supervision, and the older two are more than capable of taking care of the younger one for long stretches of time. They can be given complicated lists of chores and will complete them with minimal nagging.

None of them need me to entertain them, constantly keep an eye on where they are or scan the room for dangerous objects. If I provide ingredients they can create a meal and feed themselves and- on a good day- clean up their own messes. I never vacuum, and rarely do the laundry on my own any more. It's that sweet spot of time when they are still home, still look to me for guidance, still enjoy being with me but don't have to.

Yes, they make dumb choices sometimes. Rare is the day when Luke and Noah aren't sopping wet from the hose or water-ammo'd firearms by noon. They squabble and need a referee. They want an ear to share a tale of teen drama  woe. But, for the most part, they are pretty self sufficient. At least more-so than they have been for their entire lives thus far.

So, how come I don't have more free time this summer? In theory I should have almost as much Susan Scheduled Work Time as I had when they were in school. I should be editing that thing I wrote a few months ago. I should be writing more posts on here. I should have ample time to research podcast topics. I should be ...I should be... I should be.

But no.

It has been a non-stop activity fest around here. Door slamming, "MOOOOOM" screaming, "Can I.." filled days. Some fun, some filled with projects, some not much more than a whole lot of taxiing kids hither and yon. Busy. And not at all what I thought this summer would be like.


I just don't get it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Last week I took what felt like a big step. I wrote my final regular post on the site that has been very kind to me for the past couple-plus years, M2MKC ( That link will take you to my final post). I had thought about it for a very long time, weighed everything that I have going on in my life and made the decision.

When I found out that one of my friends would be taking the spot, I was so thrilled for her. It wasn't that long ago that I was in her (writing) shoes and the exposure a spot like that gets is invaluable in so many ways. And her name is Susan! It's still Susan Saturday!

But I wasn't sure how I would feel when I saw someone in "my" spot. I do have a touch of competitiveness, would I feel that way toward someone I am supportive of?I would hate myself if I did so I was worried about hating myself.

Friday, after recording a podcast, and taxiing kid to baseball I had a moment of panic that I was missing a deadline. But no, I wasn't. I used the extra time to work on another project that I have mid-completion.

Saturday morning I  sat down at my computer, took a deep breath and clicked. And felt.....happy. Happy for the other Susan. Happy for the mutually beneficial arrangement she and this site that I feel loyal to now have. I feared ugly emotions, and got beautiful ones.

This past week I have gotten some notes from people asking what my plans are. I was touched, but not ready to share because I don't have anything to share. Nothing concrete anyway. But I know this: I am in need of something substantial and am willing to do the work to make it happen.

Whatever "it" is.

Change is in the air, but still off in the distance. I'm ready for it, though.

Go check out the other Susan's blog!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"...and it was still hot."

So...I gave in to curiosity and read 50 Shades of Grey. (More on that another time) (maybe)

ANYWAY...I read it, now I see it everywhere. Which is, mostly, not terrible- usually it's kind of giggle inducing (the most wonderful sound on earth, right? Yeah, you read it, too, I can tell).

Every time I take a sip of wine, I think,"it's crisp and sweet".

If I have to kneel on the floor for something (like to clean out under the sofa), I stop, put my hands on my thighs, lower my head and then I giggle because I am alone and look like an idiot.

When I'm doing the laundry, and get to my delicates, I almost hurl thinking of someone sniffing them. On purpose. Gigglehurl.

I giggle because I am immature like that.

Today, with the passing of Maurice Sendak, I took out my copy of Where the Wild Things Are.

The copy that I own was the copy that my mother read to my brothers and me as kids. When I moved out of my folks house as an adult, I swiped it along with a couple of other beloved children's book - Trumpet of the Swan, Charlotte's Web, Peter Pan, Jonathan Livingston Seagull (don't judge). When I had children of my own many years later, these are the copies that I shared with them (and will lock up when they move out of the house- Nuts. Tree. Fall.)

I took out the thin book with the sleeping Beast and the tiny sailboat on the cover, and marveled that it had survived all these years. It may be a first edition, I can't tell, but it was written the year I was born and Mom was really into books. I could see her getting it as soon as she heard about it. The edges are a little worn, but no pages are ripped. It's a miracle, really. Six childhoods, almost 50 years and no ripped pages?

I sat down to read it, thinking about what a gift this story was. How Max getting into trouble, being sent to his room  for being naughty,and escaping via his imagination mirrored many a night in my own early life.

How Mom still loved him when he returned.

I read the book this morning and got misty imagining Mr. Sendak writing the story. I looked at the illustration detail of the Wild Things, and smiled at the innovation for the times.

And then I read the last sentence and cursed myself for reading 50 Shades of Grey. There are so many good books out there, and this is what I chose to spend my reading time on? I chose to put the details of 50 Shades into my brain along with such cherished memories like the ones surrounding all my childhood favorite literary memories?

I really am an idiot.

So today I am filling it with good things that have already been written, spoken, filmed. And then I will let my brain speak to me through my fingers and see what happens. My only hope is that there is more good in there than not.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

..and now a word from Klout

I have said it before: I don't get Klout. 

Sure, I sort of  understand it, I just don't see a purpose for it in my life. I have a profile and sometimes I will check it, but honestly, I don't play the Klout game. I don't give +K to other people, mostly because I am never on there. I never invite friends, rarely play around with the tools and understand about half of what the stats show.

I also am not as prolific a social media poster as some, so my score and reach will always be limited. I'm fine with that, not competitive about it and really I only am on there for one main reason.

Sometimes the stuff Klout tells me that I am influential in makes my freaking day. Today I saw this:

Nice guess, Klout. If I am on the internet, I MUST be influential in cats. It's a requirement. And not even, cats...but with a capital C- Cats. All formal like.

I don't have a cat. I am highly allergic to cats, so much so that I can't even go to some people's very clean houses because of one cat. (And, FYI, putting the cat in the bathroom/bedroom/basement makes no difference to cat allergy sufferers. The stuff is in the air, no matter how often you vacuum. There isn't anything you can do. But thank you for trying.)

When we have home shopped, and the place is vacant, I had to lay on the carpet to see if I had a reaction before we would sign on the dotted line.

Cats crap in my flowerbeds and dig up my bulbs attempting to hide said crap.

I can't stand cats.

So, saying I am influential in cats cracks me up.

Although not as much as the second thing I am most influential in (according to Klout): 

I laughed about that one a while back. Ok, yeah, I sort of have a little pride in that one.

But the list is 11 items long! What's on the list? After those three:

Football? I can't stand football! If I was influential  in it at all, there would be NO football. And Texas teams? Huh what? I have never lived in Texas and if I had to pick a favorite team, it would be the Patriots- who are not on the list because I never talk football. Ever. OK, sometimes I do...to say I don't like it.

I have to say, the end of the list kinda stings:

After football, which I can't stand, comes family and blogging. The two things that if asked, I would like to think that I knew a little about.


After vodka, cats and football  Klout thinks I am influential in things that I actually care about.

That makes me laugh at Klout.

(And at the smartasses who +K me in stuff. Thank you for the laugh! You are my people!)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dreading 40? Read this.

When I turned 40 almost 10 years ago I was excited. Leaving my 30's behind me meant re-evaluating my life and gave me a great opportunity for change. It was a fresh, blank journal of  time, just waiting for me to fill it with direction and accomplishments.

The How of Change was a big mystery to me. I still had a child at home, although he was in preschool, but I knew that his going to kindergarten the following year would alter my days and give me some space to figure out the changes.

My 20's had been about meeting the grown-up me, and finding someone to share her with. My 30's had been about babies and toddlers and children. The challenges of having them, the challenges once they arrived, and the challenges of raising them.

My 20's and 30's had been spent learning, I was always a newbie at something. New at self-reliance and career, new at being a wife, new at motherhood, new at babydome. In the 10 years of 30, we moved several times and I always felt like the new guy. This newness brought certain anxieties. The new was a hurdle and only in retrospect can I say that I didn't feel comfortable with all these hurdles.

While I wasn't looking forward to leaving the springiness of youth behind, I wanted to not be unsure and new any longer. I was ready for the changes of 40 even if I didn't know what they were.

If you have been following along in this blog you know: the big change was another child. Days before turning 42, I gave birth to Noah. The year prior, I had a miscarriage late in my first trimester. So the beginning of my 40's looked an awful lot like my 30's.

But, sometime after I turned 40-even while it still looked like my 30's- I realized something: I didn't sound new anymore. The words that would tumble with a power beyond my control from my mouth and fingers sounded wise. (OK, wise with a dose of wise-guy.) Apparently along the way I learned something. It continues to shock me each time it happens.

My 40's ended up being about using that acquired knowledge to learn MORE. Ask more questions, develop new interests, meet new people. Being new to things wasn't a stumbling block any more, it was a stepping stone. I was no longer worried about looking like the new mom, the new woman, who didn't know much and had to prove herself. I was the experienced person who had a base of knowledge and an eagerness to learn more.

I had wonderful experiences all through my 40's- even when it was bad and hard, life was developing me to be something. To do something. And I did what I could when it was presented to me. I didn't hesitate, I leaped.

Because of those leaps, I have landed where I am today. It may not be any grand, highly visible stage, but I am happy with where I am. Internally, it feels great and that is all that matters to me. I feel like I am, again, at the precipice of some changes, and I am looking for the next path. The path that will lead me to 50 and beyond.

You see, in less than a year I enter my 50's. Right now I have no idea what path to follow next. I am trying to look ahead, see which  steps will be the most rewarding- which are right for me. I know that I am on that journey even though on any specific day it might not feel like it. Change is slow and best viewed farther down the path. I try to make changes as I see fit: some little, some big, but I change while still holding tight to all that is dear to me.

I may have stepped into my 40's but because of what has happened in my life in the last 10 years, I don't plan to step into my 50's.

I plan to stage dive.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Monday, Tuesday...SAHMday

I posted a blog at my other blogging spot, where I carried on in polite terms about a conversation that I had with a good friend of mine while the Cyberworld threw daggers around moms. Well, not AT moms, about them. Moms who get a paycheck, moms who don't, blah blah. The point of that post was that while the drama flew, real moms were doing their thing. Whatever that thing is. We may have mentioned it to one another, but it wasn't with the vitriol of political commentary. I think that real moms have realized that the MommyWars are stupid and a fabricated method of distracting from (insert some political issue here). We have more real and important things to do. In my case it was an  honest and unheated conversation.

My friend wanted to know what stay-at-home-moms with kids in school did on a daily basis.

On the surface, a very unpolitically correct question. It oozzes of swarm. But, I love this woman, and I know that she was sincere. It's not a life that she leads, and to her, it looks very good. Managable. Satisfying. She wondered why it was considered so hard.

I didn't write out the answer to her question in that post for a couple of reasons:

1-It would have distracted from my point, and I was already way long on my wordcount.
2- It is a very public forum frequented by, mostly, women and I did not want trolls to attack them in their own home. THAT would have been a paradox: the antithesis of my point AND proving my point.

This page is also a public forum. But it's my house. And I have control of what comments get posted and what ones do not. ( Oh yeah, I will. I have.)

So here I shall answer her question because I know that it is an honest question for a lot of people. The life of a SAHM with pre-school aged children is well documented elsewhere. It's crazy and chaotic and boring and wild and energy-sapping and hard. Really hard. I'm not going to talk about that SAHM, I'm going to talk about the one who has made it through those years and is now faced with time home. Alone. Ish.

This is not a contest about which is harder, to be a working mom or a SAHM. And it's not a debate about politically correct terminology. Here in my house a working mom gets a paycheck, a SAHM does not. BOTH work. yeesh. Move on about that, k?

I'm answering one question from ONE point of view. To compare the different days of women would be futile. ALL OF THEM ARE HARD. Some are less and some are more hard, but it's like an argument about the best fruit.

Most of the former SAHMs that I know took on paying jobs or went back to school themselves as the children headed off. The ones who did not either homeschool their children, or their children have medical needs and are home because they are frequently shuttling them to appointments. The rest (which are very much in the minority) fill their days. That is the SAHM I am talking about here. (And I'm going to call her Sam, the acronym is impersonal).

But I know this: when we have time to fill we have more than enough things to fill it with. Sam is cleaning her house, paying her bills, and running errands.She is volunteering. She is writing a blog, or a book or scrapbooking or making quilts for hospitals and homeless. She is helping her husband out in his business. She is running the Band Boosters or Room Moming or Driving for Meals on Wheels.She is organizing and maintaining the County Public Gardens. She fills her time with a cobbled together job that has no income but requires a great deal of energy and time.

"But", say you (and said my friend) "I do all those things AND work from 8-5. I never take a lunch, and I manage to volunteer at my kid's school, I shop, I clean, I run errands, I am a room mom, I do all of that, too!"

(And this is where the piss you off part comes in.)

 No, you don't. Not the same way.

When Sam left the corporate world her standards changed. The usable portion of her corporate skillset and drive were put towards her new duties.  She is always looking for ways to improve, and does more of the same thing volunteer activities. She isn't a better Room Mom, but she may be Room Mom for two classes, library volunteer on Mondays and copier room volunteer on Wednesdays. (And if she is trying to make you feel bad about the time, and the methods that you use to volunteer, send her my way. We'll have coffee and I will make sure you and she are on the same page, because she is being a bitch ...ahem, she obviously needs to know that she and her project arenot the center of the universe)

For instance, if my friend were to go to Sam's house right now, she would think it pretty tidy. But Sam sees a mess. She see things that she wants to clean, or tidy or repaint or change. She sees her house as much of a mess as you see yours. She knows that her list of To-do's is unending and she has deadlines for herself. Her day is just as task oriented as yours, even if you don't think that her tasks are all that important.  And, you know what? This is a sore spot for Sam- she might not either. Because ('nother piss off moment) she doesn't get paid for them.

This pay thing is a big deal. It most likely has created a power-struggle between Sam and her breadwinner. His expectations are high because he works hard, too, and now her "excuse" of having the kids underfoot and requiring 24/7 supervision have all gone to school. He wants proof that she is working as hard as he is, and if he doesn't say it, she knows he is thinking it. They fight about this a lot.

But Sam does have free time to schedule as she sees fit. And that is nice. Maybe she has lunch out or sees a movie with a friend in the middle of the week. It's a perk. (I do this maybe once a month. Never more, usually less) Although she wonders if the money that she is spending  at lunch could go to something more worthwhile for the family. Sometimes she buys something that she knows her husband would not approve of. She knew that, but it was just a little FU moment for her. A moment where she had all the power and exercised it to her advantage. Selfishly.

See, Sam is no saint. Sure, she took some time to organize a bunch of Pinterest boards that make her look like an Interiordesigningmasterbakerfahionista, and she *may* have overdone it at the last birthday party when they took 15 OPKs ( Other People's Kids) to the amusement park and bought them all matching shirts. But she decided that this was important. For whatever reasons. And for Sam,one of those reasons is what  is impeding her saint status: Sam is grasping for some sort of measurable success. She wants some type of tangible proof that she is worthwhile and contributing something to the family and society. And she likes to hear,"I don't know how you do it!" which, to her, means she appears to have her shit together and someone noticed.

Here is her average day:

6:00 Wake up, shower, get kids up and fed, make lunches

7:00 First kids out the door,(may require trip through drop off lane)/organize day/maybe get her daily chores started

8:30-9:00 Last kids out the door, eat breakfast, clean kitchen

9:15 One blissful cup of coffee in silence, read social media/paper

9:30 -12:00 Laundry/clean a kid's closet/clean whatever gets cleaned on that day of the cleaning schedule/get ready for next week's garage sale/volunteer obligations/tackle that list the husband left for her/maybe she goes to the gym or works out for an hour in there.

12:00-12:05 Lunch of leftovers or something that she can eat in the car

12:00-2:30: Car based errands. Maybe visiting grandparents and cleaning their toilets, maybe it's her day to laminate at the elementary school, or grocery shopping or any number of scheduled volunteer jobs

3:00 Home to meet the bus as the first kids come home/ computer based tasks (yes, this may be when she screws around on pinterest or facebook or some message board)/work on projects from morning

4:00 Last kid comes home

4:00-5:30 Spending time with kids, helping with homework, making several runs for after school activity shuttling,cleaning out backpacks/ kids in and out, OPKs in and out/ iron or fold laundry or something domestic while yelling,"close the front door!" or " Who is in the fridge NOW?"

5:30- Make dinner/empty dishwasher. Maybe dinner went into the crockpot earlier, but now it's Get That Supper on the Table time.

6:00 Dinner. Husband comes home.

6:15 Dinner over, clean kitchen.

7:00-9: Drive kids to evening activities/ do something as a family/have a gullywasher of a fight about something stupid.

9:00 Wrestle kids into bed/ watch the showtime series you DVR'd that has a lot of boobs in it so you  have to wait until the kids are in bed to watch/ clean the house if spent day out at other obligations

10:00 Bed. Maybe. Or maybe stay up and work on a hobby, or a newsletter or blog.

6:00 Repeat.


Because, like all working moms, every one is different. There is no typical day.  And we can't say what should be important to another person. We might not share, but to say it isn't important is critical. And we can't be critical because it serves no purpose. It does nothing to support our friends.

This Sam is not me. On paper, I suppose I am a SAHM,- I don't make a lot of money from my work. But I fill my non-kid at home time writing, or researching topics to write about, or reading writers who write better than I do. That is my important thing.This post took up most of my Saturday morning hours. Oh sure, I stopped to take one kid to ball practice, then the other two to the library and to get a present for a birthday party tonight. Now I have to go clean the bathrooms and dust the house because I neglected that all week in favor of the aforementioned work. Just like a lot of other women I know.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Morning Mind Blow

Do you know RealAge? You take this wicked long test, and the program tells you how old your body thinks it is based on the information you give. Don't brush your teeth, live in a cabin alone and only eat carbs-- you're gonna add some some years to your age. If you are 30, your body might think it is 38.

Eat a lot of the good stuff, move around a bit, take your meds as prescribed and talk to real people on a regular basis and your body is going to think it's younger than it is.

And then, based on your answers, you get some emails telling you how to make yourself healthier. I haven't answered questions from them in a very long time, I can't even remember the last time I logged on to the RealAge site to find out how old my body thinks it is. Because I am diabetic, and was born when JFK was still alive I get emails about diabetes, menopause, and old people exercises. 

I also get emails on that account  from Powerschool. Poweschool tells me my kid's grades on a weekly basis so I can helicopter them better. I mean, so I can see what classes they may need extra help in.

Today I opened my email and saw this:

Monday Morning Mind Blow.

I'm not sure if I should call a tutor or a travel agent.

 Well played, RealAge.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Your Two Things

I haven't really gotten out of the house yet. Well, again, did the shopping, went to church once and house sat another day but haven't been able to have a fun escape. Too many things are keeping me here. 

But I still crave social interaction. With our first internet connection in the mid '90's I learned a very valuable lesson: there are people out there accessible through this machine.

At that time I was a SAHM of a bitty baby girl. We had been relocated from Chicago to a teeny tiny town in Iowa. Actually, we had been relocated three times in less than two years so the opportunities to meet people were very, very slim. I was lonely and while my Mommy Susan was flourishing, My Inner Susan was withering away.

The internet changed that for me. 

And it's what I go back to when I am stuck at home like I have been lately. Doing that today I was led by a woman that I follow on twitter, but have never met in real life, to this article:Article from a country I have never been to, brought to my attention by a woman I have never met- but one that got me thinking. 

Basically, the article is about a blog started by a man who was an economist. This economist met someone in a bar who sort of changed the way he thought. (Sounds like the beginning of a joke,"This economist walks into a bar...")

Anyway- at that meeting the new acquaintance asked him to narrow economics down to two things. Two statements. From that column (This Column Will Change Your Life, by Oliver Burkeman) in The Guardian:

" 'You know, the Two Things. For every subject, there are only two things you need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.' " 

 This game got the economist thinking, and really I am about as far from an economist as you can get, but it got me thinking, too. It must, therefor, be a universal thought generator. 

Think about what you do. Maybe not even what you get paid for doing, but what titles you associate with yourself. Can you narrow it down to two things?

Can I?

Let's see:

1) Love with your heart 
2) Love with your brain

1)Open mind to possibilities
2)Close mind and edit

1)Prepare, prepare, prepare
2)Make it sound like you didn't have to prepare

Here is a link to The Two Things Blog if you want some ideas. The economists name is Glen Whitman and it sounds like he is a former economist, current writer which sort of makes me smile. Why? Because if I had to narrow life down to two things I might say:

1) Love your choices with all you have
2) Be prepared for change

If you want to follow the bouncing red ball across the internet it looks like this: twitter led me to a website that led me to a blog that prompted me to write this blog which I will share on several social media sites. And you can, too, if it gets you thinking.

And if you want a recommendation of someone very interesting to follow on twitter: Howlinow

I know, you aren't a commenter, but I really would like to hear your Two Things.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I need to get out of here

I have been trapped at home for a couple of weeks now. Oh, I went "out": Walmart, the grocery store, dropped my kids off at school, took one to the doctor. Last week I house sat for a relative who had surgery. whoopie.

But I'm not one to whine, ok, I am trying not to be. So I won't.




Ok, that was fun....I need to GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE! I know that this is a common issue with work at homes, stay at homes...when my kids were tiny I would try to get out at least once a day. Sometimes we went to the grocery store to buy a piece of fruit we had never tried before. Sometimes we would go to the library. Sometimes we went to the fire station to see if we could look at the, uh, yeah... the trucks (seriously...this may be the greatest reason to have kids EVER.)

A lot of the time we would go to Target and walk around and see all the other Mommies and little kids who had to get out of the house. If finding new mommy friends is like dating ( it is), then Target is the club. THE CLUB. If you can't find a new Mommy Friend in Target, then your social skills are seriously lacking. And no one's social skills are more lacking than Moms who spend all day with toddlers, so we are talking skills that need some work.

But I tried to get out of the house every day. I had to. My sanity was at stake.

But the kids are in school now.  I have no reason to go to the library other than to pick up the books I have held online. Or pay the hefty fee for not dropping off the ones I had at home. I never go for a piece of fruit, that's just stupid. The whole list, once a week. And forget Target. I don't have the cute babies in the carrier. Now I just look like a creeper when I admire someones baby. Or a little old lady. And I am neither. (I'm not! Shut up!)

And the fire fighters look at you weird if you show up without a kid and ask for a tour. Just trust me on this.

Anyway, now my days are home based, and rarely do I get out. I have to force myself. And force myself I shall.  I will. Tomorrow. '

Or maybe the next day, tomorrow I have a lot of work to do. And it's dusting day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And let your Klout be your guide

Apparently I am talking about this just a liiiiitle bit too much. In all honestly, if I have three cocktails in one week it's a lot. I can go weeks without any. I have a small.... (ok, it's not a bottle, it's a carton--are you happy? Yes, keeping it classy one box at a time.) I have a small box o'vino in my fridge half consumed for three weeks now. I'm going to use it for cooking at this point.

But the point is, I am not a heavy drinker. But apparently, the Klout algorithm thinks I talk about it a lot.  
Don't know Klout? It's a ranking device attached to social media. I allow it access to my facebook and blogs, and it gives me a readout of how influential I am. It tells me the area's where I have influence, the number of people I reach.

Which, like the above announcement, cracks me up every time.
I'm not influential. I can't even get my boys to aim properly in the toilet. I have been married for 20 years. In that time I haven't been able to influence my husband to do anything! 

And yet, based on whatever I post Klout thinks they know me, know my reach. 

uh huh.

My reach is about 2 feet above my head which is only about 5 feet off the floor. I'm pretty sure my reach is quite limited. 

There is a whole science behind Klout, I get that. And really, the science bores me. I know I shouldn't say that, but it's true. I would rather spend my time researching childbirth in Tudor England than worrying about how to increase a Klout score.( I did that today! The Tudor childbirth thing...it's very interesting...). I'm fairly certain that my future is not as a mommy blogger- I realized that about a year ago. I enjoy it when I do it, but don't have the heart to monitize. I like to think of myself as a recreational mommy blogger.

And, as such, I am not a huge Klout fan. I signed up to see how it works, leave my account up to check in periodically for humor, but aside from that, I don't have a real purpose for it. An algorithm isn't a content generator, it's a reporter. And not a very accurate one at that.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Of course...

My camera is flipping out. I can take pictures, but not upload them to anything. 

Why should you care? You shouldn't, it's one of those things that will either be resolved, or not. Although if it was two weeks sooner, I could have asked those people who say,"what would you like for your birthday" for cash. I mean, cash is really an impersonal gift. If you don't know me well enough to know what I would like, then maybe you don't know me well enough to get me something. It's ok, REALLY. I would rather not get something than get something that makes me turn my head sideways and think," you saw this and thought of me?"

Although, those extreme gifts are rather humorous. But I mean, a token just so you can cross, "Get Susan Gift For Her Birthday" off of your To Do list? If someone just wants to get me a Cross This Off List Gift- cash will work.

Back to the camera issue, I should look for a picture that might entertain you. How about this one? He is turning seven. This means that I have succeeded in getting three children through the age of six without giving in to the question,"why don't we eat our young?"


The cake is chocolate. The frosting is cream cheese. The M& Ms are plain, milk chocolate. The outfit was selected by the Birthday Lad that morning. He was trying to put together and outfit that was,"colorful, and fun, and matches this cool shark tooth necklace Kevin gave me."

 Now I have to describe the picture that I just took but can't get on here. Just because it made me want to drop my head to the keyboard and cry.

Luke is 13. He is looking older each and every day. This, naturally, makes me wonder what kind of man he will grow to be. I shudder with most of the images that flash in my mind. Surely, they outgrow this...age. I know they do. I have brothers. And a husband. And I shudder again.

No, not really.

So today, the 13 year-old fixes himself a snack. We had many leftovers from the Superbowl Table O'Snacks that I provided. He chooses: 3 slices of pizza, a handful of carrots, three chicken wings and a puddle of ranch dressing. Then he sees that we never finished the bottle of sparkling juice (the spiffy 7 year old likes to play mixologist with sparkling and other juices and fancy glasses. He really was born past his time.) So here is the picture:

Teen boy, scruffy hair, sleeveless white t-shirt( the kind called a,"wife beater" if you don't find that term offensive like I do.) Plate heaped high with gross greasy food ( and a handful of carrots!). With his free hand, he grabs a highball glass, opens the top of the juice bottle--that really is a wine bottle, and he pours himself a highball. I mean, juice. Then, he takes the bottle, puts it to his lips and swigs the rest that won't fit in his glass.

That's when I snap the picture. Shaggy teen wearing a tank top t-shirt, gross food, highball glass of 'wine' and drinking from the bottle.

My head hits to keyboard gtttttttttttttttttttdfs"enh vcewq- Basement dweller in my future?!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alive and well and smiling

You hate me, don't you? I'm so sorry for not posting for so very long! Life. Life got in the way of retelling life here.

And then the lives of others, whose stories I can't share because they are not mine, took over my life. Or I let them take over. Welcomed them as a matter of fact. Pursued them even, if can imagine that.

But it wasn't you. And it wasn't this forum. I took the entire month of January off from the other place that I blog at every week; one week off at the place that pays me to tell tales. See? Not you.

But I will be back soon, oh, very soon, to share some more tales. I promise. Ok, I feel bad for neglecting things over here. ONE short tale:

This is me. I'm going to church. I almost didn't go that day, but decided that was the wrong message to send to my kids. So I fluffed my hair, donned my pearls and contemplated, but did not decide upon, a lowcut top.

Contemplating lower cut top

I was healthy, awoke in plenty of time, and really had no good reason to miss church, so why did I not want to go? Because, apparently, menopause is the new adolescence. My face had decided to head in the Way Back Machine to age 13. I had a breakout like I have not seen since I would smudge my Leif Garrett posters with Lip Smackers each night.
Look at the chin! I have the chin of a teenager!

"I'm not going to church today." I announced at breakfast.

"Why not?" Brian asked.

"If she's not going, I'm not going, I'll keep her company," Bekah offered oh. so. generously.

"Because, I uh..." I looked at the faces of my kids, faces that would probably face a similar situation in the not so distant future," ugh, I'm going. But not one crack about having a third eye!"

So I went. Concealer as in place as it was going to be, head held high, as many distracting techniques as I could come up with (although it was a communion Sunday, and I don't like wearing anything that might accidentally give the elders serving an eye full as I bowed before the alter so the top was not low cut.)

I have age 50 right ahead of me and I'm trying to conceal pimples. It's just wrong. 

I have to point them out, don't I? Oh, you can see some, even caked with concealer they are hardly concealed.

Sorry about that. In person, they  really were quite obvious. I caught people looking at my chin all morning, and it wasn't my imagination either. The blemishes were there, but I couldn't let a hormonal outbreak stop me from going places, doing things that are important to me. I couldn't let something so superficial hold me back.  What would be the point in that?  There really wasn't anything I could do but smile.

Which is probably a really great life lesson on several levels, don't you think?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Because every Saturday should begin with a police report, duct tape and Press 'N Seal wrap?

Happy 2012! (a number I keep repeating because I'm  determined to write the correct year before March!)

The last day of our 2011 began at 2:30 AM. That is when Brian and I woke to a loud KEEEEERASH!

In that moment between sweet slumber and waking terror - the moment of shattered dreams- I thought an M80 had gone off outside the window. Brian thought it had been someone crashing through the glass of our backdoor.

He guessed better.

It was Noah's bedroom window to be exact.

I have a confession-- falling asleep in Noah's bed after prayers, and mid 6 year-old pillow talk is something that I frequently do. I was sleeping there when the window broke- mere inches from the glass shards, Noah was on the side away from the window.

When I peered out the unshattered portion,  there was no culprit to be seen. But on the lawn was a ball that had not been there when we went to bed. It didn't belong to my kids, either.

I should back up just a bit.  Our neighborhood is very active at night. We have had a long history of late night ding dong ditching. So have most of our neighbors. It's just a fact of subdivision life. Even the hooligans who decided that they didn't like the conventional style of our light up reindeer and rearranged them one late night was annoying. (But it was sorta funny.)

You giggled. It's ok, so did I

But a middle of the night breaking of windows? That's criminal.

"Clean up this room, it looks like a crime scene in here!" I told Noah first thing in the morning.

" It IS a crime scene!" Luke countered.

"Yeah, but the police don't have to see what slobs we are!" I said as they headed to tidy and I called the sheriff's office.

The officer arrived quickly (He had a name that screamed for commentary, but I resisted. Really, the guy probably hears crap about his name all the time and someone with Vollenweider as a last name probably shouldn't be mocking other people's last names, anyway). He took pictures, recorded my story and asked me to call if I figured out who did it.

The town I live in is small. One of the downsides of small town life is that everyone knows your business. One of the upsides of small town life is that you can very easily find out any one else's business.

It didn't take long.

"Hey!" I said when my neighbor Christy came to her door, "do you recognize this ball?" I tossed it in the air like the jock I wish I was.

"Yeah, I was looking for that, it's my kid's."

"It came through Noah's window last night."

"Never saw it before."

This was not our first detective case. A year of so ago, Christy and I broke the case of " what happened to the full bag of security guard gear that was taken from an unlocked truck?" We found the physical evidence in her shrubs, and figured out the timeline based on the activity of her dog the night before. We resisted the urge to make commentary about the wisdom of leaving such items in an unlocked car...well, at least to the police officer who came to collect our findings.

For the Case of  Shattered Dreams, we headed off to another neighbor's house channeling our inner Cagney and Lacy. Only, you know, no firearms...or badges, simply armed with our combined knowledge of human nature and our degrees from the School of TV Cop Shows.

Within 20 minutes, we had answers.

We know who did it.

We have witnesses.

How it all plays out is up to the kid's parents.

And because I like to inform of handy things you may not know:

This is not my first Ball v. Window episode. I have boys...and a husband. If you need to board up a broken window (because it breaks on a holiday and the glass company can't come out for 4 days without paying extra), reach for the Press 'n Seal wrap. This time I added a layer of Reynolds pan liner ( the one with aluminum foil on one side, parchment paper on the other) and sealed it all up with duct tape. Very cold resistant, and the glass sticks to the Press 'N Seal wrap and doesn't fall on the floor.
Recipe for repair: Press n' seal, Pan Liner paper, 2nd Press 'n Seal layer, duct tape

Done. And classy.

And that is how my Saturday began, and 2011 ended,  with a police report, duct tape and Press 'N Seal Wrap.

***UPDATE*** The parents did the right thing. There are good people in this world who do things that aren't comfortable to try and  teach their kids to right thing. I applaud them. Nicely done, Parents!