Sunday, October 31, 2010

Diminishing Returns

I had every intention of writing a well thought out, articulate, and relevant blog post for tomorrow.  But I realized a few minutes ago when I opened my laptop and stared at the blank screen that my good intentions would never get beyond wishful thinking.

My family and I went out of town for the weekend, and after racing around nonstop trying to squeeze in as much fun as possible for the past 3 days, I have hit the point of diminishing returns.  I intended to make myself stay up late so I could get everything done that didn't get done while I was on my weekend vacation.  However, the later I stay up, the more pointless it is for me to bother.  I'm fried.  I might as well go to sleep because I'm not doing anything effectively right now.

So no profound blog post today.  Just some random brain vomit before turning off my light and hopefully not moving for the next 7 hours.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top 10 Halloween Memories

I always loved Halloween as a kid.  When I was too old to go trick-or-tricking, the holiday was just another day.  And in college, Halloween was just another excuse to party.  But now that I've got kids of my own, I can't help but think about some of my favorite Halloween memories, both the ancient ones from when I was donning costumes to the more recent ones with my children.  Here are my...

Top 10 Halloween Memories

10)  I loved those elementary school parties and parades.  As a teacher, I'm bracing myself for the sugar highs and costume malfunctions, but it's worth it to see how much the kids enjoy it.

9)  Dogs love Halloween too!  Our family had a Great Dane when I was growing up.  He was tall enough to rest his head on the kitchen table, and whenever we carved our pumpkins, he was right there licking up the seeds.

8)  Speaking of dogs, my husband and I had a chocolate lab, and every Halloween we'd dress him up in a doggy college jersey from one of my husband's universities.  He had his name on the back and everything.  Even though he's no longer with us, I still store that jersey in my tub of Halloween decorations and think of him.

7)  When I was a rebellious sophomore in high school, my friends and I decided to dress up and see if people would actually give us candy.  I dressed up as a hooker.  I cannot believe my mother let me leave the house looking like I did.

6)  I'm not a big fan of adult costume parties, but one year my husband made me go to one.  I was very pregnant with Big C, and every costume looked ridiculous on me.  I ended up going as a cop handcuffed to my prisoner (Mr. Roller Coaster).  Symbolic?

5)  When Big C was in preschool 2 years ago, he dressed up and had to perform songs for the parents and their eager video cameras.  That boy didn't sing a single word.  But he sure did look cute.

4)  When I was a kid, my mother hand-made all of my costumes.  (Sadly, I did not inherit a lick of her craftiness.)  My favorite was my ET costume.  Still one of my favorite movies.

3)  The Japanese don't celebrate Halloween.  But when you're Japanese, and you live near a U.S. military base who cares about cultural differences?  When we lived on base, friends warned me to buy at least 30 bags of candy because the local Japanese nationals were extended an invitation to come on base to participate in this American holiday.  Thinking my friends were exaggerating, I purchased maybe a dozen bags.  But when a swarm of non-English speaking Japanese children dressed in crazy costumes invaded our front porch, I wished I had listened to my friends' advice.  We finally had to upturn our empty candy bowl to show them through our language barrier that we were out of candy.

2)  I was so excited the first year I was allowed to go trick-or-treating with no parental supervision.  I was dressed as a baby, and my friend and I walked around my neighborhood feeling very grown-up.  We were getting ready to head home when I heard footsteps behind us.  Suddenly, 2 boys raced up behind us and grabbed my candy-filled pillow case out of my hand and ran off.  Being the tough tomboy that I was, I ran after them.  And I'd like to think I would have caught up to them if part of my baby costume didn't include my footwear: slippers.  But what I remember most about that night was that when I returned home in tears and my big brother heard what had happened, he dumped out his own pillow case and gave me half of his candy.

1)  Nothing beats living vicariously through your children.  I love seeing the joy on my kids' faces as they ring a doorbell, say trick-or-treat, show off their costumes, politely say thank you, and run down to meet me at the curb to show me what goody they had just received.  My children make me love Halloween again.

What is your favorite Halloween memory?


Monday, October 25, 2010

Treasure It or Toss It?

Last year, when Big C was in kindergarten, he came home with the most adorable schoolwork. Art projects, worksheets, and my favorite, lined paper on which he practiced his handwriting and ultimately attempted to formulate words and sentences. At the start of the year, I kept EVERYTHING. I dated the back of the papers, hole punched them, and organized them neatly in a 3-ring binder. I couldn't bear to throw anything away.

About halfway through the school year, the binder was bulging, and I realized I had no choice but to start removing papers if I expected to have enough space through June. I sadly tore out generic worksheets and coloring sheets, stuffing them at the bottom of the recycling bin before Big C could spot them and ask how I could be so cruel as to consider his hard work trash.

I'm proud to say I fit most of his kindergarten year into that binder, with report cards tucked into the front pocket. I have frequently flipped through the contents, my heart swelling at the progress he made in 1 short year. That binder is almost as much of a treasure as his baby book.

Big C is now in 1st grade, and for the first few weeks I performed the same ritual as I had a year ago. Admire, hole punch, collate. But 1 day, as I placed the binder on the shelf beside his kindergarten binder, I wondered how long I was planning to keep this up. Would I continue to save his schoolwork until he graduated from high school? Where would I store these binders? And what exactly did I plan to do with them? I highly doubt he'd appreciate my efforts when I passed them on to him as an adult. He'd probably just wonder why I kept them all these years and then throw them away himself.

Add to that the fact that I have another child, which means twice as many binders.  Little C is already bringing home her own adorable schoolwork from preschool, and I don't have the heart to throw her papers out either.  Should I really save them all?

As difficult as it's going to be, I've decided to just keep the best of the best.  The first letters and numbers written.  The cutest drawings.  The best handwriting samples.  The funniest journal entries.  And of course the Mother's Day cards.  Maybe I can pick a dozen or so of my favorites from each year and make 1 big schoolwork binder for each child.  That way, when they go off to college, I can nestle into my empty nest clutching those binders and reminding myself how far they've come.

What do you do with your child's schoolwork?  Do you treasure it or toss it?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #7

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #7!  Come on mil spouse bloggers and join in!  Our host this week is JG over at Me and My SoldierMan.  Hope to see you linking up!

Enjoy your weekend!

Another PBS Post

My 3rd post for PBS's POV blog Regarding War is up!  It's called "Does Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder Or Fungus?" 
Please go visit me over there today!  Comments are turned off here in the hopes that you'll comment at PBS.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top 10 Reasons I Won't Be Nominated for Mom of the Year

A few months ago, I posted a top 10 list of reasons why I won't be nominated for domestic engineer of the year.  This week I thought I'd expand upon that list by adding my...

Top 10 Reasons I Won't Be Nominated for Mom of the Year

10)  I don't think I brushed Little C's hair all weekend.  My 3-year-old daughter has gorgeous blonde hair running down her back, hair that is so beautiful that I've only had it trimmed twice in her lifetime.  But that means daily maintenance.  A weekend without brushing means a weekend full of painful and unsightly tangles.  My daughter looked like a  ragamuffin by Monday.

9)  I don't think I brushed her teeth all weekend either. 

8)  I started the "10 minutes of cleaning rooms before bedtime" rule but most nights I'm too tired to enforce it.  Therefore, the kids' rooms are disaster areas.

7)  I sometimes wish I could do Big C's 1st grade homework for him so we could finish it in under an hour.

6)  I spilled wine on Little C's zebra mask she made at school, and instead of explaining to her why the black paint was bleeding, I hid the mask until I was sure she didn't notice its disappearance and then buried it in the trash.

5)  I was relieved when the neighbors invited both kids over for a playdate not because I knew the kids would have fun, but because it meant I had a couple of hours to myself.

4)  Both kids refused to eat breakfast one morning, and instead of forcing them to eat, I let them go to school with empty bellies.  I'm no good at tough love.

3)  I spent Big C's last soccer game catching up with a friend instead of watching him play.  At least I didn't miss much.  He spent half the game catching up with a friend on the field instead of kicking the ball.

2)  It's mid-October, and I still haven't bought a pumpkin.  And thanks to the never-ending bathroom remodel and equipment blocking my attic entrance, I still don't have Halloween decorations out either.

1)  According to Big C, I am the worst mother in the world because I didn't allow him to camp out in his friend's backyard.  To my defense, my Big C is 6 years old, and the participants in the camp out were ages 8 and 11.  The host's father DID NOT sleep in the tent with them, and I saw their flashlights still flashing at 10:30 PM, while Big C was fast asleep at 8 PM.  Bad mom or responsible mom?  I guess it's just the beginning of tough parental decisions.

What job of the year will you NOT be nominated for?


Monday, October 18, 2010

Retail Therapy?

I hate shopping. Call me un-American. Call me unfeminine. But I can’t stand it. If I could, I would gladly hire a personal shopper to replenish my wardrobe if it meant I never had to step foot in a mall. I have friends who could happily spend hours digging through the racks at TJMaxx and come out looking like a model for some high end department store. Not me. I like looking nice. I just don’t like the process of getting there.

When I went back to work, I knew I needed a wardrobe upgrade, but I had no idea how badly I needed one. I thought I had plenty of clothes that were somewhat fashionable and job appropriate, but in the last month, I’ve purged half my closet. I found shirts that barely hid my belly button, pants that pre-dated my love for low-rise, and skirts that were short enough to make to make me blush. These clothes haven’t been touched in years, and some have traveled with me through 3 PCS moves with the title of “I’m sure I’ll wear this one day.” Now they’re awaiting either a trip to Good Will or a trip to the dump.

Looking at my sad and lonely closet, I had no other choice but to hit the mall. Over the weekend, Mr. Roller Coaster watched the kids, and I had a whole afternoon to shop to my heart’s content and bust my paycheck. Most women would kill for an afternoon like mine. Not me. The clothing options made my head spin. The dressing rooms made me claustrophobic. And the checkout lines made me impatient.

But 3 hours later, I came home with bags bulging full of clothes I can’t wait to wear. My closet is already thanking me. And I was able to shop without 2 kids running around the stores and escaping under dressing room stalls while I was half naked. So I can’t complain too much.

But I think the next time I have an afternoon all to myself, I’ll skip the mall and head to a spa.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #6

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #6!  Make sure you go over to The Sand is Different Here and link up one of your blog posts from this week with our host Expat Girl. 
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Top 10 Ways to Be Productive on a Sick Day

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later.  I had to call in sick to work today.  Not because I'm sick (yet), but because Big C is sick.  And I wouldn't even go so far as to say he's sick.  He had a fever last night, and he's spending his day on the cusp of one.  I'm sure his teacher would appreciate that I didn't send him to school with that hacking cough and runny nose, but here I am at home with a little boy who is apparently well enough to fight with his sister. 

Since I'm home, I might as well make the most of this day off from work.  Here are my...

Top 10 Ways to Be Productive on a Sick Day

10)  Clean rooms.  If the kids are well enough to make the mess, they're well enough to clean it up.

9)  Cook.  My packed lunches have become so pathetic I'm resorting to those nasty sodium-saturated frozen meals.  Today is the perfect day to throw together a pasta salad, zucchini bread, and whatever else I can dig up and throw together to make a week's worth of lunches I can look forward to.

8)  Laundry.  It's really sad when your husband tells you he's out of clean underwear.  My washing machine is working overtime today.

7)  Catch up on blog reading.  Oh how I miss reading blogs!

6)  Clean out my car.  How in the world did the backseat of my car accumulate so many toys, books, trash, and goldfish? 

5)  Call up my surrogate spouse who has been neglected thanks to the double whammy of Mr. Roller Coaster returning from deployment and my new job.  We're long overdue for a chat.

4)  Clear out my inbox.  I don't think I've ever seen so many unread emails. 

3)  Write.  My blog looks so lonely with only 2 or 3 posts a week.  Must write more.

2)  Hang out with my kids.  There aren't many days that we just hang out and read books, create Lego castles, and color masterpieces. 

1)  RELAX!  I've been so worn out lately, but today is the perfect day to relax.  I'm cooped up in the house.  I can't run errands.  I can't go to the gym.  I might as well take advantage of this day to actually pick up a magazine, park myself in the recliner, and remind myself what it's like to not do anything. 

What do you do on days when you can't leave the house?


Monday, October 11, 2010

Wife on the Roller Coaster Meets Faith and Deployments

I just love guest blogging!  Today I have a guest post called "Life as a Sometimes Single Working Mom" over at Faith and Deployments.  Go on over, check me out, and visit with Lauren for awhile.  She is just adorable!  We both went back to work around the same time so we feel each other's pain. 

Hope you're having a great start to your week!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #5

It's time for Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #5!  I'm thrilled by the responses we've been rounding up every week.  Remember, you don't have to write a new post in order to participate.  Just link up with one of your posts from the week!

This week's host is Katie over at The Life of an Army Wife.  Go check her out!

Enjoy your weekend!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Top 10 Reasons I Have No Top 10 List Today

Wow, it's Tuesday again, isn't it?  Hmmm.  This is all I got...
Top 10 Reasons I Have No Top 10 List Today

10)  I'm too busy listening to Big C count to 200 and alphabetize his word sorts.

9)  My brain is mush.

8)  I'm too tired after being repeately woken up last night by Little C's coughing.

7)  My brain is mush.

6)  Mr. Roller Coaster came home after a short trip, and I'd much rather spend time with him than write a blog post.

5)  My brain is mush.

4)  I had absolutely no idea today was Tuesday.

3)  My brain is mush.

2)  My creative juices have dried up.

1)  Did I mention my brain is mush?

What's your best excuse for not doing something today?


Monday, October 4, 2010

Taking the Time to Stop and Smell the Stinky Feet

My daughter’s feet stink. I’m well aware that no one’s feet smell like roses after being stuffed inside shoes all day, but her foot odor is borderline offensive. I can only imagine what her preschool teachers are thinking as they remove her sneakers for naptime and stifle their gag reflexes at the stench emanating from those shoes that are equally as malodorous as the feet that run and play in them.

Despite the magnitude of my daughter’s foot funk, I don’t think about it until those tiny toes are right in front of me. In fact, as a new member of the working moms club, I find myself so consumed by my hectic schedule and parenting duties that the little things in life like stinky 3-year-old feet completely escape my attention.

Since my return to work, I’ve reached new heights in multi-tasking. I robotically pack lunches as I return phone calls and add items to my grocery list. I cook dinner and mop floors while overseeing my son’s homework. I clean the bathroom while the kids splash in the tub. And if I manage to find the time to catch up on my nearly filled DVR, I miss most of the story lines of my favorite shows because I’m busy paying bills, folding laundry, reading emails, and preparing for my next day of work. All of my energy is focused on the necessities.

I didn’t realize how much of life I’ve allowed myself to miss in my quest to get it all done until a thunderstorm literally jolted me to my senses. It was 5:32 AM when a crack of thunder woke me up. At 5:36, I heard the pitter patter of my daughter’s stinky feet approaching my bedroom and her croaky half-asleep voice asking to crawl into bed with me. I attempted to soothe her back to sleep so I could squeeze in 24 more minutes of shut-eye before my alarm kicked off the chaos of another day. But a few minutes later, my son wriggled under the covers, and any hope of sleep vanished.

As we cuddled and silently listened to the heavy rain pelting against our house, I discovered I no longer wanted those last 24 minutes of sleep. I wanted to savor every second of the cozy warmth of my children as I snuggled them in my arms and felt their breath against my cheek. When those 24 minutes passed and my alarm sounded, I pressed the snooze button not because I didn’t want to start my day, but because I wanted to prolong this rare and precious moment with my kids, a moment that will some day be extinct because they’ll no longer want to cuddle with me.

I finally had no choice but to peel the kids off me and face the day. But as I got ready for work, something strange happened. Instead of the typical morning grumpiness and wardrobe protests, we were all smiling and giggling through breakfast. Instead of the frantic dash to hustle out the door on time, our morning routine was seamless and punctual. And instead of hastily shoving my daughter’s feet into shoes peppered with odor-fighting powder, I tickled those tiny smelly feet with my nose. Then we all piled into the car with silly grins plastered on our faces.

The start of my morning changed the entire outlook of my day simply because I took the time to appreciate the little things in my life. I’ll think about that morning the next time I find myself consumed by necessities. And I’ll remind myself that it takes only a fraction of a minute to stop and smell the stinky feet.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #4

Time for Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #4!!!  Go link up your favorite blog post from this week with hostess Mrs. GI Joe over at ACU's, Stiletto Shoes, and Pretty Pink Tutus.  Can't wait to read all your posts!

Have a great weekend!
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