So Do You Think…

…that I take too many pictures?

I am almost never without my camera these days, lately so sometimes when I try to capture my kids on camera, I get the “don’t take my picture” gestures, like this one from Pumpkin who collapsed on the kitchen floor to hide from my lens.

Thursday Ten: Big Fat Orange Moon Edition

1. I hate that it gets dark so early now, but as I left the house this evening to take some DVDs back to the movie rental place (“Baby Mama”, in case you were curious – but man, I can’t look at Tina Fey now without seeing Sarah Palin) and to go to Pumpkin’s preschool parent/teacher conferences (Seriously – more later) I looked up and the moon was rising and it was this huge big nearly perfectly round ball in the sky. I looked several times, not sure at first it was really the moon. I’m not sure what else I thought it might be, but it was just too perfect looking. As I drove, I kept looking up and the moon became more and more orange. Now it’s just obscured behind clouds (it IS Michigan, you know), but man, how beautiful.

2. And YES. Parent/Teacher conferences for Pumpkin’s preschool/daycare program. It was excruciating actually. When The Princess was this young, they didn’t do this kind of hooey, and though I’m relieved about that, I’m sure it would have been different because The Princess is this freakishly brilliant kid. Not saying Pumpkin’s not – she’s just…different. One of the things they assessed Pumpkin on is her knowledge of the alphabet – knowing the letter name, the Zoophonic animal representation, the Zoophonic “signal”, and if she could recognize the letter by sight. According to her assessment, she didn’t recognize any of the letters – a fact I know to be complete crap, because I’ve seen her identify letters. It’s really dumb to test kids like that – especially since three year olds tend to be free-wheeling, stubborn, controlling beasts who seem to like to do what THEY want to do WHEN they want to do it.

3. My grandfather seems to be doing well. He’s a little hoarse, but he’s home. I’m so relieved he spent less than 24 hours in the hospital this time. Whew. For those who extended positive thoughts towards my family – THANK YOU.

4. Music for the week: I have been listening to Seal’s “Soul” nonstop all day and I’ll be writing more about it soon, but OH MY GOD it’s incredible. So incredible. While I was all, “Oh Seal!” a friend sent me “I Wish”, a song by DMX featuring Seal, and I LOVE THAT ONE TOO. Also jamming to, “It’s a New Day” (, and “White Horse” (Taylor Swift). All good tunes. All of them. Not a rotten apple in the bunch this week.

5. In guitar today, my teacher taught me “Jesu, The Joy Of Man’s Desiring” (? Is that right?) by Bach. I told her I’d never heard the song before and she said, “What?! It’s in weddings all the time!” Well, not MY wedding (my dad wrote my music). Am I just an idiot?

6. My cousin rocks – he gave me free passes to see an early screening of “Four Christmases” next Wednesday. I’m so excited. I like Reese Witherspoon and I adore Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. And it’s FREE. Wheeee!

7. New season of Top Chef started last night. My goodness, I love that show and it always blows my mind what they do with food and yet I remain a fantastically unenthusiastic cook. Go figure.

8. Three days a week, I pack a lunch for The Princess. I got this cool book of little note card dealies to put in her lunch (I bought the book from Target). I had no idea that she even liked getting the notes from me until Monday morning. She packed her own lunch and then came tearing through the house looking for me so that I could write her a note to put in her lunch bag. The past few days, she’s been waiting for me to put the note in. I’m glad that she appreciates the something special I do for her. I was doing it to make myself happy. Added bonus that she likes it too.

9. The closer we get to the holidays the more my calendar fills up – and not just with kid related activities, but things that might be fun for ME too. I keep meaning to pester my BFF about plans for this weekend, but next weekend we’ve got a massive day of baking on our horizon (Seriously, my best friend’s sister-in-law tallied up the ingredients we need and we’re looking at 22 cups of powdered sugar in use. 22. 22. Let me say that again: 22 cups of powdered sugar — oh and TWELVE sticks of butter). But, how much fun is that gonna be? So much fun.

10. I need to get a new treadmill. Or an elliptical. I am getting VERY SICK of Turbo Jam.

Thursday Ten: The Detours Edition

1. This afternoon on the way home from my guitar lesson I ended up getting detoured about five miles out of my way around an accident (several police cars and a fire truck were at the scene), which added about fifteen minutes to my drive home somehow.

2. I don’t love detours. Scratch that – some detours are okay. The figurative kind. I can’t think of how many good things in my life were things that I had never planned on, things that sort of happened along the way. And I’m a planner – I love to know what’s going to happen when… (Ask my best friend who fed ex’d my planner to my when I was on my honeymoon. I’ve relaxed a BIT since having kids – because it’s a necessity – but… I still love having a clear idea of what’s in store for me). So, sometimes when something unexpected happens… it’s cool. And life is better for it. But the literal detours? They suck.

3. In guitar lesson today, I started learning “Sweet Home Alabama”. You can ALMOST recognize it, but still… it’s slow. Way slow. I’m gonna get it though.

4. New music this week: “Love Lockdown” Kanye West (And I don’t love Kanye West – AT ALL – but like this song), and “Spaceman” by the Killers. Slow week for me.

5. I took both girls to see “Horton Hears a Who” last weekend. My mom scored free tickets for me to take them to see “Madagascar 2” this Saturday (Free popcorn too – which is awesome because my girls eat a LOT of popcorn). I love going to the movies but go so rarely. It’s odd that I’ll have been three times within seven days.

6. This morning as I was leaving the library, I walked past my van and saw a dead bird hanging out of the grille of my minivan. Gross. I left it alone, got in the car and Twitter’d about it, figuring I’d deal with it later. By the time I got home, fortunately, the sucker had fallen out. Now just a lone feather remains where the little birdy was. There’s something you don’t see everyday.

7. Starbucks is not making a sugarfree version of their gingerbread latte this winter. Means I cannot get a gingerbread habit going again or I will end up needing someone to rip the roof off my house and pull me out with a crane. Starbucks, why did you let me down?

8. Just over two weeks until the “Twilight” movie comes out. My sister wants to go, and my mom is now getting drawn into the books. We may all go see the flick together. We’re such nerds.

9. Still having trouble adjusting to the time change. For example, it’s just after 6 p.m. and so dark outside now that I feel like I should be winding down and my kids should be tucked in their beds. No go. Two hours til bedtime. The Princess has learned to tell the time so I can’t even try to trick her anymore.

10. Thank you Target, Walmart, Toys R Us and Meijer for sending us your big ginormous toy catalogs for Christmas. My girls have gone through ALL FOUR of them and have circled EVERYTHING they want. Their wantyness is annoying the hell out of me on one hand – on the other hand, I could go online and be done Christmas shopping for both of them in five minutes. It’s that easy. I’ve already started buying stocking stuffers for the kids. Has anyone else started Christmas shopping yet?

Thursday Ten: It’s Because of the Arpeggios Edition

1. Guitar lessons continue to go alright – today, I learned “We Three Kings” (which I can now add to my holiday music arsenal, along with “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night”). I also learned the first bit of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – because my teacher was trying to teach me about arpeggios. Yes, I have heard of Blue Oyster Cult. No, I probably wouldn’t know the song if I got it in “Name that Tune”. Next week, she says she’ll teach me parts of “Taylor” by Jack Johnson, which makes me very happy because I love Jack Johnson.

2. Cheetos? They are good. I love Cheetos. Every Thursday, I manage to forget to eat lunch before I go to guitar lesson, so when I got home today I was starving. I cracked open some Cheetos. I was chatting with a girlfriend of mine, telling her my keyboard was now covered with artificial cheese – she replied: “Cheetos: ur doing it right.” We decided that Cheetos were like cheesy, orange crack – which under most circumstances we all agree would be bad. When it comes to Cheetos, though, we make an exception.

3. This weekend is the Michigan/Michigan State football game. GOOOO BLUE. (However, I am not terribly optimistic).

4. I got another HUGE pile of magazines in the mail today. I’m not even caught up from the last round. Today’s mail included another copy of Cookie magazine (which I would NEVER pay for, by the way – it was a free subscription and I don’t love the magazine), Rolling Stone, Good Housekeeping and Health. I love magazines.

5. It’s my mom’s boss’s birthday tomorrow and he’s on some diet plan that allows very few sweets but apparently gives the thumbs up to rice crispy treats. My mother, however, is “baked goods” inept (I hesitate to use the term baked goods, because I hardly would put the rice crispy treat in that category). She actually asked me to make them for her. This is why I know how to bake. As soon as I could read, my mom had me take over the baking projects. This morning she dropped off marshmallows and rice crispies and tomorrow she’ll pick them up on her way to work. Like I’m the freakin’ snack drive through.

6. The Princess came home today and told me a mean boy in her class gave her a piece of paper today with the words “Poop you” written on it (Kids. What the hell are they thinking?). I asked if she showed the teacher. “No, mom,” she said, “but I recycled it.” That’s my girl.

7. New music this week: LOTS. Some of it isn’t so “new”, but new to my collection anyway. “3×5” John Mayer; “U Want Me 2” Sarah McLachlan; “Bad Girlfriend” Theory of a Deadman; “A Sorta Fairytale” Tori Amos; “Bizarre Love Triangle” New Order; aaaaaaaand “Miss Independent” (not Kelly Clarkson) Ne-Yo. Why yes, I’m working on a birthday iTunes gift card.

8. I miss Project Runway.

9. Pumpkin is doing much better with her sleeping… and if she sleeps through tonight, I’m taking her out for donuts for breakfast tomorrow. Bribery – I never thought I’d be that kind of parent but when it comes to me getting my sleep, it’s totally worth it because I need my sleep.

10. Soooo, “High School Musical 3” – how many people getting suckered into taking their kids this weekend?

So, It’s Been Fifty Days (And Other Hooey)

Today is day 50 of the Envisage 365 project (Y’all see that link to the right – you can click on it). I can’t believe it’s been 50 days already, and that I haven’t missed a day yet. I’m keeping my images in a few different places – the E365 blog, my Facebook, and Flickr. So many of the women involved in this project are amazing photographers – me? Not so much. But it’s been cool trying to define my day with a picture and already checking out the pictures from the past fifty days and remembering the past month and a half-ish.
In other drama, Pumpkin has taken to waking up each night at 3:30 a.m. and she doesn’t appear to really need anything: sometimes a diaper change (she wears a diaper or pull up at bed) and to be covered up with a blanket so she can go back to bed. HOW DO I MAKE HER STOP? Seriously, getting up at 3:30 a.m. means that I’m often awake for at least an hour following that. She isn’t teething. She doesn’t seem to be sick. It’s just DRIVING ME NUTS. So, if you have kids that sleep and like sleep, can you please tell me how you made that happen?

Selling Your Kids on eBay Is Probably Frowned Upon

There are some days that my kids can be screaming terrors and I, with my limitless patience, can roll with the punches, unphased by the obnoxiousness. And then there are days like today where the whining, whinging and nit picking gets to me and my “endless” stashes of patience are more like patience? What patience?

Tonight after dinner, both girls took good scrubby baths and got all scrubbed up and ventured downstairs to watch some television. A friend of The Princess’s came over to see if she wanted to play, so she dashed upstairs to get some play clothes on (Note to my neighbors: Why are y’all sending your kid over to get my kid at 7 p.m.? Note to myself: Why did you let her go?). She played with her friend until I yelled for her from the back deck at 7:40, and when she came home, she wanted to make a peanut butter sandwich for her bedtime snack.

Problem? No bread except the loaf in the freezer. Whine, whine, whine about frozen bread. I told her that she needed to pick something else, and that for whining, she’d be going to bed five minutes early. Pumpkin started hounding her older sister, “Make me some too!” (The alternate snack being peanut butter on graham crackers).

And that’s when The Princess, my beloved six-year-old said to her little sister: “You are soooo annoying!” To which Pumpkin (in her glorious copy-cat phase) repeated, “YOU are so annoying!” Then The Princess hit her little sister. Then Pumpkin hit her big sister.

And then I proceeded to lose any miniscule shred of patience that was hovering in the far recesses of my brain. I bumped up bedtime thirty minutes and The Princess essentially got so extremely pissed off that she was stomping and whining (you know, in that voice that only dogs and parents can hear). Pumpkin started crying about her freakin’ graham crackers. And me? I sat on the couch, cracked open my book and said, “I’m done with you both. Eat your graham crackers and then GO. TO. BED.” (I honestly can’t send my kids to bed hungry – they are like I am, and hunger escalates irrational behavior).

I sat on the couch, tuned them out and Hubby came downstairs. He tried to talk to The Princess and she tried one of those “talk to the hand” gestures at him. He yelled that if she ever did that again, he’d ground her for a month (Ugh! You know who suffers when kids are grounded for long extended times like that? ME! ME! ME!). The Princess stomped upstairs, crying and hiccuping and doing that horrible breathing like she was hyperventilating.

A few minutes later, I went up to knock on her door. She was holding it closed. I knocked again, “It’s mommy and you need to let me in. I want to talk to you.”

“You already talked to me!” she sobbed.

I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her down to sit on the floor with me. She squirmed and wriggled and tried to resist me. “You know that even when I don’t like the way you are acting, I love you very much?” I told her.

“Uh (deep gasping breath) huh…” she said.

“You need to remember that in our house, it’s not okay to hit people.”

“She hit me first!” (I was watching and know this is not the case, but let it go.)

“Even if someone hits us first, it’s still not okay to hit. And Pumpkin is going to bed early too – because just like we don’t want you hitting her, it’s not okay for her to hit you.”

“Well, if hitting is wrong and we’re not supposed to do it, then WHY DID THEY INVENT IT?”

And that’s where I just squeezed her a little harder and gave her a big smooch on the noggin. She then started rambling about mosquitos suck our blood so they can have baby mosquitos that will also suck our blood and just this neverending lifetime of mosquito suckage. I am not really sure where she was going with it, to be honest.

I’ve just read her a story and tucked her in. Some days, being a mom is the most gratifying job on the planet, and some days it’s so hard I wonder who the jackass is who forgot to give me the parenting manual when my kids were born.

Where I Reveal A Love For Fried Dough that JUST AIN’T RIGHT

For our local high school, it’s been homecoming week. A few weeks ago, The Princess’s school sent home a note saying that the first graders would be singing “God Bless America” before the game, so hey, on to the calendar it went: Homecoming Game.

Remember, this is a small town and people generally follow one of two paths: a) Never Leave, or b) Leave And Never Come Back. Or if you’re wild and crazy like me and Hubby, you’ll leave, swear you will never in a million years go back to that little corn-growing hick town… and then you’ll go back. Homecoming games are really no different than any other Friday night game at the high school – remember, a lot of them never left.

I try to never go to games – and not just because the football team never wins or because I get a little nostalgic for my short little polyester skirt. I avoid them because running into my past constantly gets a little bit too much. I can take it occasionally, but for every Friday home game? Um, nope.

But today we had to go. We went early for the Homecoming Parade (to which I say, WTF – we didn’t have a freakin’ parade for homecoming when I was in high school!), then ventured to the high school parking lot where they were serving free hot dogs and popcorn and food for everyone (my tax dollars hard at work, y’all. Hot dogs. We can’t get a community recycling center, but dangit, processed meat byproducts for everyone!). Standing in line for the (ugh) hot dog, I heard someone calling my name. I turned around. My old high school cheerleading coach. Heeeeeeeeeeeeeey. There’s a face I hadn’t seen in awhile.

I sat on a hill with The Princess watching her eat her hot dog and people watching (hooray for big sunglasses!), seeing face after face that I recognized. I then led The Princess to the spot where she’d be meeting her teacher and classmates to prepare to sing – then it was like bullseye – face after face of people I went to school with. Including a girl I cheered with, only recognizable because she was wearing one of our cheer sweatshirts… from SIXTEEN YEARS AGO… with her name on it. Now, I’m a packrat. I’m a pretty bad packrat. But I’m fairly sure I tossed my sweatshirt better than ten years ago. Then again, if I didn’t see her name screen printed in that megaphone on the back, there is no way in hell I’d have known who it was. NO. WAY.

While I was with the girls, Hubby was on an IMPORTANT MISSION. To fetch for me an elephant ear. I love elephant ears – they go against everything I believe in, healthwise, but there is seriously nothing better. It was amazingly greasy, sugary, and cinnamon-y. I shared (a little bit of) it with Hubby and Pumpkin, but that sucker was history within minutes, and I have to say, I’m reasonably certain I would knock small children out of the path if they interefered with my getting an elephant ear. So so so wrong. Come to find out, like the hot dogs and popcorn, my elephant ear was free. Free. (Had I known that prior to eating it, I’m sure it would have tasted that much better).

We left The Princess with her teacher and Hubby and I took Pumpkin to find a seat. I ended up two rows in front of my BFF’s ex-hubby, who either didn’t notice or acknowledge me (that’s alright, I didn’t acknowledge him either), sat through a painful marching band rendition of Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You” before my kid came out on the track to sing.

And there was such a huge group of first graders, I couldn’t see her. Every picture I took is just this giant mob of little kids. Fun. After her performance, I had to walk over to the end of the field to get her – and seriously had one of those weird flashback moments of walking on that track on Friday nights before football games (yes, I loved cheerleading – and that is why I was MOST SCHOOL SPIRIT 1994). I passed my senior year boyfriend as I walked down the track – walking in opposite directions, we smiled and said hi and kept walking like it was an everyday thing (Funny isn’t it, how for a time someone seems like your whole world and then life happens and they are just extras in the background?).

Now that I’m home, I am in a near vegetative state from my massive fried dinner. That’s alright though. Typically a maybe once-a-year treat, I won’t get this gorged, stuffed to my gills feeling for at least twelve more months.

Thursday Ten, Coffee is NOT A Food Group

1. Despite my consciously thinking, “I better eat lunch before guitar lesson, I better eat lunch before guitar lesson…”, guess what I didn’t do? Um, yeah. I hit the Starbucks on the way home, and I’m reasonably sure that cappuccinos aren’t anyone’s definition of healthy lunch (but it’s skim milk in there – so… dairy…?).

2. Obnoxiously Proud Mama Moment: Of the three groups established for reading in The Princess’s class, she’s in the highest one. Aw yeah. I’m insanely proud of her – I read constantly, and love that she’s loving it (Hubby hates reading, so there was a 50/50 shot there).

3. Project Runway last night. Sigh. Where to start? Well, you can read my recap here. Otherwise? Man. I wasn’t enthused with it – how about that? How come at this point in the game, no one can make a gown that doesn’t suck? Despite her generic dress last night, I’m rooting for Korto. Girl broke my heart crying on the Runway last night, and I’m usually immune to that stuff (Kenley, I’m talkin’ to you).

4. Soooo, the VP debates are on tonight. (And that’s all I’m gonna say about THAT!)

5. Latest music purchases: “Light On” by David Cook and Taylor Swift’s cover of “Umbrella”. First of all, skip Taylor’s “Umbrella”. It’s about 90 seconds – not the whole song – it’s cute, but… not really worth it because it’s not the whole song. The new David Cook single… it’s alright. Lyrics-wise, I love the verses but I don’t adore the chorus. Someone told me it sounds like an 80s generic ballad, maybe like it ran away from the Footloose soundtrack. Yeah, I guess I can hear that in it (it’s the chorus. Really. I don’t love that part).

6. I’ve gotten so few work emails today that I would think my email was broken if I wasn’t getting so much of the gobbledygook ( Why? And those crazy Red Envelope e-blasts… wait. I like those!). Oh, and the Systems Admin messages that keep reminding me I have until October 12 to change my password. Got it.

7. Just in case you were counting and keeping track – my birthday is two weeks from today. Add it to your calendars, and celebrate appropriately wherever you are. Don’t worry, there will be more reminders. I love my birthday. You should love it too.

8. Fall has come on hard here in Michigan. It’s been gray for days – with moments of sun through it all. When I left for guitar lesson, it was 57 degrees. Coming home, 54. So, no, it’s not warm. Not even a tiny bit.

9. Halloween is coming up. I hate Halloween. Pumpkin wants to be a dalmatian, and some awesome folks on Twitter have given me suggestions for places to check for costumes (I’ll be checkin’ Costco tomorrow) and even how to make one. I am not the crafty costume-making mom. If I actually make a costume, know the whole world will get knocked off its axis – it will be a life-altering experience. Seriously.

10. Still working on reading “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle”, which is one of Oprah’s picks. I’m about halfway through. I’m actually pleasantly surprised. I almost cried at one point in reading last night. But then I remembered my heart is made of rocks and I moved on without emotion. Really, it’s one of her better picks in awhile. Or so I’m guessing. I haven’t read one of her picks since they were a little lighter (“She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb is still one of my all time favorites). It’s definitely worth a try – particularly if you are an animal lover – as it has A LOT to do with dogs. Really.

Sarah’s Weekend High/Lows


I think there is a permanently saggy spot on the couch from where my husband’s butt was glued all weekend watching football.

Michigan lost. To Notre Dame. Boooo!

Rain, rain, rain.

The panic-y feeling of watching Pumpkin’s swim class.

Getting the death glare for pointing out that SOMEONE in the room smelled like armpit (My guess? The 12-year-old approaching puberty that sometimes forgets deodorant). I guess the two males in the room took offense.

Ohio State lost their game too.

Got to take the kids to the merry-go-round, which they L-O-V-E

Despite my panic, both girls loved swim class

I re-colored my hair and I didn’t screw up.

It’s a Little Damp Around Here

Though The Princess took swimming lessons this summer, I wasn’t sure if Pumpkin was ready to join in the fun. Sure, she’s three, but she’s kind of a young three – and she doesn’t have her big sister’s fearless nature when it comes to… well, everything. But she’s tough and she’s starting to really love being in the water so we figured it was time to start swim lessons for Pumpkin, as well as advance The Princess to the next level.

Watching swimming lessons was a bit of a brutal experience for me, and I’m a bit embarassed that I was so nervous. While The Princess can swim and I could be completely confident that she’d be a-okay, Pumpkin can’t swim yet and her instructor had her and the six other little peeps hanging on the wall of the shallow end for most of the 45 minute lesson. Sure, she’d pull them away for a second – to help them float or kick, but beyond that, for the bulk of the time, these kiddos were just hanging on to the wall.

At one point, I could see Pumpkin’s arms getting tired and she let go, and her head just went under. Of course (silly mom!) she popped right back up, spitting out water and rubbing her eyes, but frankly (and I say this because YES, I have brutal mama bear tendencies) I was a little pissed off at the instructor for the countless times she turned her back on these kids who DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM.

I was relieved when a gentleman came to stand by the side of the pool, keeping a more watchful eye on the little people while the instructor took her time with each kid – kicking, floating, whatever. He was REALLY watching (I think he worked for the pool – but I have no idea. I don’t care, actually – I’m just glad that someone was paying attention).

When the instructor tucked two pool noodles under each kiddo’s arms and sent them floating towards the deep end, I sat at the edge of my seat, watching… watching… When Pumpkin turned around to come back, she didn’t have the know-how to get herself back to the edge. The Princess, hanging on the wall for her class started calling to her little sister, “Come this way! Here you go! Come on! You can do it!” and when Pumpkin got closer, The Princess pulled her back to the wall.

And my eyes filled up with tears. The Princess’s instructor said, “Pay attention! You need to be paying attention!” and my Princess told her, “But that is my sister.” And I was so happy.
Leaving the pool, we sludged through puddles and hovered under a french blue umbrella as the rain pelted us. It hasn’t stopped all morning, and after hours of rain, it still shows no sign of stopping. We needed a little rain. Our lawn was starting to look like crap. But now, hours later, the sandbox now resembles a wading pool and everything is soggy.