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I do my best thinking in the shower.

Now, I’m sure there are many medical reasons why this is possible- maybe the warm water increases circulation or the water pressure from the shower head helps knead out the stress from my shoulders, which lowers my blood pressure and THAT helps with better circulation.

I personally think, though that it has nothing to do with medical reasons and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that its the ONE place in this house where I can hear myself think without fear of interruption.  With the water raining down on me, it drowns out the incessant pestering.  For the 5 minutes I get to take for myself, I get a chance to recoop and relax.

Yes, 5 minutes.  I learned long ago how to take “Army showers”.  5 minutes is the perfect amount of time to get the necessary stuff done while ensuring I’m not gone long enough for fires, explosions, or massive bodily harm to occur with the boys.

It IS long enough, however, to get some serious thinking done, and today I was thinking about my life.

Its amazing to me how we measure ourselves by what we are rather than who we are as individuals.  People in our lives- not our personalities- usually define us.  I  get it- its difficult to really find a distinction

  • I have kids- I’m a mom.
  • I have a husband- I’m a wife

We even measure ourselves by what and who we are NOT.  In my case, I’m not a career driven woman- I’m a stay at home mom.  I’m not like my brother and sister, with their medical field goals- I’m…

What?  Lacking a true career path?  Lazy?  Without ambition?  Settling?  Ordinary?

During those precious 5 minutes, I thought about who I really was- not according to others or labels thrust upon me- but ME.  What makes me, me?

  • I’m outgoing.
  • I’m sarcastic.
  • I’m a wanna-be chef.
  • I’m goofy.
  • I’m friendly.
  • I’m a neat freak.
  • I’m determined.
  • I’m sensitive.

Its true- I’m also ordinary.  My job is SO ordinary and boring that -not only do I NOT get paid for it- but most people don’t even want to waste time writing it out, so they write SAHM.  Its not considered a career choice; its an in-between- something you do when you’re in between jobs.

I’m called a “housewife” which -horror of horrors- evokes images of Peggy Bundy, sitting on a couch, eating Bon Bons.  Even worse, that’s what MANY people imagine when I tell them what I do for a living.  I’m curious about the title “housewife”, by the way.  No one ever refers to a woman as a “workwife”.  Its funny- even as I’m writing this, my computer recognizes “housewife” as a real word and there’s a red squiggly line under “workwife”.

I’m asked frequently when I’m planning on “going back to work”, as if I’m on vacation.  If this is vacation, I’ve been gypped. 

I’m just sayin’. 

I’m also told constantly about work at home opportunities- because I’m OBVIOUSLY not busy throughout the day.  I get it, times are hard and they know I’m not getting paid for what I do, but when I WAS working, we managed to still have money troubles, so what it looks like to me is that #1- you always find a way to do what you REALLY want to do, #2- a lot of money does NOT equal financial security, and #3- God apparently thinks pretty highly of our decision to have me stay at home because He always makes a way for us to get by.

Its true- I’m an ordinary, SAHM and housewife.  Just so we’re clear on what my “non-job” entails, though:

  • I’m a referee, breaking up fights.
  • I’m a cop, determining who’s at fault.
  • I’m a judge, deciding the punishment.
  • I’m a nurse, aiding the wounded.
  • I’m a chauffeur, driving to and fro.
  • I’m a nanny, taking care of kids.
  • I’m a day care provider, taking care of my kids’ friends when they’re over.
  • I’m a maid, cleaning constantly.
  • I’m a cook, feeding the hungry.
  • I’m a sales clerk, trying to get my kids to buy what I’m selling.
  • I’m a banker, lending money to my kids.
  • I’m a pastor, teaching my kids about God.
  • I’m a spin doctor, putting a twist on any bad situation.
  • I’m a lawyer, defending my kids.
  • I’m a pet store owner, taking care of our cat and fish.
  • I’m a plumber, cleaning hair and toys out of drains.
  • I’m a hairdresser, fixing cowlicks and constructing “faux hawks”.
  • I’m a teacher, helping my kids learn.
  • I’m an event coordinator, putting together birthday parties and such.
  • I’m a hostess, welcoming friends and family into my home constantly.
  • I’m a therapist, listening to people’s issues and helping them through it.
  • I’m a drill sergeant.
  • I’m a mommy group organizer.
  • I’m a friend.
  • I’m a daughter.
  • I’m a wife.
  • I’m raising 3 of tomorrow’s best and brightest men.
  • I’m a mom.

And all this WITHOUT getting paid.

Maybe ordinary is really quite extraordinary.

Public Service Announcement

Do YOU or someone YOU know suffer from an MTD?

MTDs- or Mentally Transmitted Diseases- are a growing concern in our society. To date, 1 out of every 2 people suffers from this condition, and with the advancement of technology and breweries -combined with the declined use of birth control- that number is on the rise. Studies have shown that by the start of 2012, more than 75% of the U.S. will come down with some degree of an MTD (w/ nearly ALL of California being affected).

Mentally Transmitted Diseases -also referred to as ‘Chronic Stupidity’ in most medical journals- is a tricky condition with a quick progression and no known cure. After contracting it, most patients won’t notice a difference, but their condition will most definitely be visible to the rest of the unaffected population- often through words and actions, but sometimes through just a few wordless expressions.

The horror of this disease is that, if you don’t know what you’re dealing with, you could accidentally and unnecessarily expose yourself. More often than not, it can take repeated exposure to contract an MTD, but for some -the really young, really old, or those with a hereditary connection- it can sometimes take just once.

So, how can you protect yourself and those you love? Nothing is guaranteed, but with a few simple precautions you can decrease the chances of contracting what can be a lifelong, debilitating disease.

~Remember ‘the 3Rs’

  • If you have found yourself in a situation where you’ve noticed that the person you’re speaking with is particularly stupid, REDUCE your exposure, if at all possible. Obviously, if this person is your boss, this will be next to impossible, but there are 2 other Rs to ensure your safety: REVIEW all information given to you and RECHECK all facts that pertain to you. (The chronically stupid often offer up needless information. For example, a coworker says to you,”I heard its going to rain today- it rained in Germany yesterday.” Chances are, they’re wrong on both accounts, but you only need to recheck the weather in your area, since even stupid people can be right 50% of the time. You can disregard the Germany reference OBVIOUSLY, unless you’re planning on traveling there anytime soon.)

~Wear Sunglasses

  • Ok, so maybe this form of protective eye gear won’t always work, but the theory is that if they can’t SEE your eyes, then there’s a chance they won’t be able to look directly into them. Direct eye contact seems to be a frequent source of transmission for MTDs. Why? Well, the most we can deduce is that since stupid people TRULY believe what they’re trying to convey to you, their words mixed with eye contact can cause you to question all you believe.

~Ignore them and/ or stare at them with a blank expression

  • MTD patients enjoy back and forth banter, so if you take this away, they will often leave you alone. Use this precaution with care, though, because stupid people often carry blank expressions and you take the possibility of passing for one.

~Distract them

  • Its a long shot, but if all else fails, you will need to distract the infirmed with something shiny and RUN.

So, what are some of the signs and symptoms, and what can you do if infected? We’ve already discussed a couple, but in the event that there is an infected person reading this, here’s a run down:

~a glazed over look when you ask a simple question (an exception should be noted not to necessarily worry in the early morning/ pre-coffee hours)

~an affinity for offering up pointless information during important times

~an inability to distinguish between the gas and the brake peddle (an exception should be noted for those with the occasional mental lapse during frustrating times- like driving with kids or stupid people)

~the confusion over what a turn signal is and how to use it

~noting a long line, and then deciding to either stand aside and make their own line and/ or waiting til their asked to get in line and cutting to the front

~the inability to ever admit wrong doing and/ or the inability to apologize when wrong

~the idea that all their thoughts and opinions will magically be known to you, although they have failed to open their mouths

~the idea that you CARE about all their thoughts and opinions

~the inability to distinguish between thoughts and opinions that matter

The list goes on and on, but I’m sure that you’ve gotten the point.

If you’ve found yourself in any of these descriptions and you’re wondering about what to do next, here’s the answer:

~Do something that requires you to use more brain-power than normal and DO NOT STOP until you feel your mental capacity increasing.  If you’ve gone for too long without help, it may take a while and you may not remember what it feels like to be using your brain, so try answering a few simple questions, such as:

  • Is it a good idea to text/drink and drive? (the answer should be ‘no’)
  • Are raising animals EXACTLY like raising kids? (you might want to answer ‘yes’ because of how they can act, but as long as you truly realize the answer is ‘no’, you’ll be fine.
  • Is it ok to leave your baby in the bath by itself while you play games on Facebook? (um, ‘no’)

The feeling that follows  will be like a light turning on or like you’ve just woken up- you might feel groggy and out of sorts.  Eat something, you’ll be fine- you’re on your way to recovery.

~If, however, that exercise doesn’t work, I’m sorry, but there’s no hope.  RUN, don’t walk, to the nearest clinic and get a prescription for birth control, or better yet, ask for sterilization.  You shouldn’t feel bad, though- you probably don’t understand anything I’ve just explained, so… Look!  Something shiny!

Remember- only YOU can prevent MTDs.

Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!

“Is she awake?”
“I don’t know- check.”
“How do I check if she’s awake?”
“Poke her.”
“If I poke her, then she’ll definitely wake up.”
“Mom, you awake?”
“I TOLD you to poke her.”
“I’M AWAKE!”
Thus begins the start of my day. I could try and act like I’m sleeping for a little bit longer, but it just postpones the inevitable.
Every day is like this- a fight to sleep a little bit longer, a fight to get them dressed in an outfit resembling something other than an extra from Les Miserables, a fight to get them to do their hair so they don’t -once again- look like street urchins…
My life, as much as I love it, has started to look like a dialed down version of a WWE match- without the pile drivers and what not…
…though those MIGHT not be far behind.
My parents got me a program by one of those M.D.’s with all the credentials that promises “for $400, you’ll have your kids saying ‘Yes, Ma’am and Sir’ in NO time!”
The problem isn’t always them fighting with ME, though. I often find myself shouting out to the Heavens, asking if there’s a program that will help with sibling bloodshed/maiming. I’ve yet to hear God answer me back, but it could be because I can’t hear Him over the cacophony in the background. To be honest, though, I think -if we’re going to go down the Biblical route- if God allowed Cain and Able to fight like cats and dogs for a reason, well, maybe there’s a reason for the continual boxing match in MY house; and if THAT’S the case, it shouldn’t be too long til I hear one of them shout out, “I’m not my brother’s keeper!”
And all this happens before breakfast.
When I pictured my life with kids, the daily battles weren’t part of the sweet scenery I envisioned. I know I was naïve, but I had a lapse in memory of how things had been with MY parents. I briefly forgot about the grand confrontations my brother and I had- one of which broke the back of a recliner and involved a stick.
I let it slip from my mind that “Yes Ma’am and Sir” weren’t part of our vocabulary- that we had embraced the word “No” from the time we could talk.
I had discarded the memory of when my mom tried DESPERATELY to get me to dress in something she had wanted me to wear, and I adamantly refused.
I don’t get to deny it any more, though. Those thoughts drift in and out of my mind- poltergeists, intent on tormenting me; reminding me, in every action my boys do, that I am their mother.
“Go do your hair.”
“I like it this way.”
“What way? You didn’t even DO it.”
“And that’s how I like it.”
They may win the battle, but I will win the war…
I hope.

You, too, can raise an Einstein!

I fell into the trap.
You know the one- “Act now and you, too, can teach your baby to read by hooking them on phonics by the time they’re 2!”
In my defense, I didn’t buy the program with this kiddo. No. With THIS child, I’m a little older, a little wiser, and a little poorer.
Nope, I bought the entire $5,000,000 system when Cameron was a baby. I had dreams of him lying there, in his crib, reading Nietzsche, Poe, Mark Twain…
Or, at least, Dr. Suess.
They made it seem SO easy. “All you have to do is slip a flash card under his sippy cup with his morning cereal every day and you, too, can have your baby reading ‘War and Peace’ in NO time!”
So, I gave it a go.
The problem is that they didn’t ever stress HOW MANY sippy cups I’d have to slip flash cards under. At this rate, I’d have to give him 50 sippy cups with every meal. He would HAVE to lie in bed reading- he’d be too full of liquids to slosh anywhere else. And I wasn’t going to have a life outside of that first bright yellow box- was I really ready to do that?
Luckily, Cameron was one of those kids that just happened to absorb the material through the box.
Ok, so it wasn’t that.
In any case, the ultra expensive system sat in our closet, and the “free” backpack we got with our order was the only thing put to use with our first child.
With Jacob, I knew things could be different. With him, we could finally see what heights his intelligence could take by using the reading program. With him, we could FINALLY unwrap more than just the flash cards! With him, we could show up all our friends babies with a child that could read Shakespeare at 2!
Of course, first we’d have to find it in our storage.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t going to happen with our second child.
But we’ve got another chance at toddler brilliance with Nicholas. And don’t they say that reading comes easier with kids that know a second language? And don’t we have that sign language program around here somewhere?
Why stop at reading? Why, if we REALLY work at it, we can have a child that reads AND knows 2 languages before his first birthday…

Queen of Coupons, I am not

Last night I was watching a show on Extreme Couponing and I was completely enthralled.
These people were able to walk up to the check out lanes with over $1000 worth of groceries and walk away spending somewhere around $.06 or less.
Much like with food and weight gain, anytime I walk into a grocery store, I’m pretty sure they charge me $100 immediately just for LOOKING at the food. The idea of couponing seems like a great idea, but I question how great of an idea it would be for ME- especially since, when I saw the extreme couponers (ECs, if you will) walking around with briefcases full of coupons, my immediate thought was, “Ooo, and I could get a pink one! Maybe Coach makes one I could buy with all my savings!”
Yeah, wouldn’t work for me.
Its a lot like how I am with dieting. I lose 3 pounds and I think to myself, “Awesome! Now I can eat that whole cheesecake!” Or worse, I go walking for a half an hour, don’t even weigh myself, and think, “Ya know, I should reward myself for my effort.” And off I go to buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
I’d really like the benefit of using coupons, but I’m just not that dedicated to the cause. Every time I heard one of the ECs say how long they would spend clipping coupons and getting ready to go on their shopping trips, all I could think of was, “I’m tired just from listening to this- I need a break”, and off I would go to make a cup of coffee and relax.
Shouldn’t I get brownie points for WANTING to save money?
I know I sound naïve, shallow, what have you, but I’m not. The idea of being able to spend -$50 on 10 carts of groceries sounds amazing, but it also sounds exhausting because at the end of the day, I would have to do that shopping trip with a 10 year old, a 4 year old, and a 4 month old. While trying to figure out how many tubes of toothpaste I have to buy to save $7, I would end up hearing why my 10 year old wants one he saw on TV and my 4 year old wants the one with Thomas the Train on it- neither of which, I’m sure, would give me bonus bucks or whatever. While trying to get the necessary amounts of Gatorade to save $1000, I would have to listen to my 10 year old tell me that he doesn’t like Gatorade, he likes Powerade, and my 4 year old would be asking me for Twizzlers… because he saw them as we shopped in the candy aisle when I went to buy the 1000 packs of gum to save $2000 off my purchase, but I wouldn’t buy them for him because it might cause my shopping trip to equal out to $.05 when I didn’t bring a nickel with me…
I’m getting tired just writing this.
In the end, couponing to save money for MY family wouldn’t work BECAUSE of MY family.
Or maybe I’m against it because I’m lazy.
Yeah, there’s always that.

The things we say…

You know you’re a mom when you find yourself saying things like, “You need to stop killing your brother” while on the phone with Sprint and it doesn’t hit you that maybe -just MAYBE- you might need to explain. Not once does it cross your mind that the nice person on the other end of the line has all your vital info and if you don’t follow up your statement with “on that video game”, they might easily send the proper authorities to knock down your door.
Is it just me, or has any other mom found themselves saying things they never thought would come out of their mouths now that they have kids? And I’m not just talking about hearing things your parents said to you come from a voice that sounds stunningly like your own. No, I’m talking about those times that you feel the need to say in a very stern voice in the canned vegetable aisle, “Grabbing yourself and shrieking is NOT appropriate here.” Or “Why must you poke monkeys with sticks?”… by the way, that did not occur at a zoo.
I’ve learned that its just a part of life- well, MY life, anyways- to hear myself say, “It is NEVER ok to ACTUALLY hang your baby brother up by his toes.”
Mental note- I need to watch my threats.
I’m starting to fear that its only a matter of time until CPS comes a’callin’, and would I really blame them? The last time I was on hold with my son’s school, it wasn’t until AFTER they had picked up that I realized the operator had just heard me tell my 4 year old, “No, cats do NOT like peanut butter and jelly, and kids should not eat cat food, so no sharing.” Maybe THAT’S why we quickly became qualified for the reduced lunch program…