Monday, December 13, 2010

Best Mom Tip #115: Invest in a HazMat suit

If I am honest, I have to admit that I do not own an actual HazMat suit. What I do have are my husband's candy-cane-print pajama bottoms and a maternity tank top covered in goo. I have been pooped on 3 times today. I was barfed on once. It is easier to point out the spots that my toddler has NOT drooled on than to explain the various wet spots and stains covering this ensemble.

Although I am making the baby wear a bib constantly to attempt to avoid getting spit-up everywhere he seems to know this and therefore leans over to spit up on his mattress, my bed, his blanket, my pants, and Griffin.

If I had a HazMat suit on I guarantee I'd get a better reception from the people at Starbucks than I do when I walk in with my kids while wearing sensible flats. I would also feel a lot more like a person with a job. Where do you think you buy these things?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Best Mom Tip #114: Buy multiples of your jeans

I have mentioned, once or twice, that I cannot currently wear a lot of my clothes. This is primarily because of the 55 pound swing in my weight over the last year during my third pregnancy. Regardless of the reason, the result is that I have one pair of jeans that I wear pretty much every day.

Yesterday, I wore a hole in the thighs of these jeans. This happened to me once before with a pair of ridiculously expensive designer jeans, but I chalked that up to the fact that they were really soft to begin with and were probably not meant to be worn on a regular basis. The jeans I wore a hole in yesterday were Levi's. I'm pretty sure that the Levi Strauss company started as a product for miners during the gold rush days.

I can't help but feel a bit self-conscious that my thighs seem to have the same erosive properties as the California rivers miners were panning in 150 years ago.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Best Mom Tip #113: Repeat after me

I can not do this all by myself. I can NOT do this all by myself. No matter how hard I try, I can not be or do all I expect without ever failing.

Week before last I failed my daughter and I can't let it go. For about 10 minutes she was alone and unsupervised in the world. She did just fine. She didn't seem upset, just confused I wasn't there as she made her way home by herself. Nice neighbors kept an eye on her so she was never really alone.

But I wasn't there. I failed. I fell asleep and didn't go get her from the bus. The boys were sick and I had been up most of the night. I was sick and had that achy joint feeling and was cold from the inside out. I sat down for two minutes and I fell asleep.

I keep thinking about it and wondering what in the world I can do to prevent something like that from happening again. My most important thing is to keep her safe and protected. I am eaten up with guilt and fear.

Part of what is hard is that I regret her having to grow up and be responsible for herself. When I was growing up I felt a great weight to be responsible for myself--far more than my parents themselves placed on me. The circumstances of my family's life made me feel like I needed to take care of everything I knew how to do in order to do my part for our family.

Here I am, with no external stresses, having given up my career to focus on my children and I STILL required my child to step up and take care of herself. When I went to work I paid people a lot of money to make sure my kids were watched at all times. I could (and did) chew people up one side and down the other when I didn't feel like they took care of my children the right way.

There is no one here to blame but myself. I can't threaten to take my business elsewhere. It is humbling to know that I am not worth the money. Of course, I am unpaid so I guess you get what you pay for.

I just can't seem to get over the fact that even after devoting my daily life to taking care of my kids, I have still managed to let a pretty big ball drop. I am humbled. And it is not a great feeling.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Best Mom Tip #112: Hug your kids again and again and again and ....

Schmaltzy, I know. But my very dear friend Cheryl lost her father in an accident this week and every day since then I've over-hugged my children. I know that it is over-hugging because they keep trying to squirm away.

I know that life is precious. I know it can change in an instant. Even so I get caught up in the minutiae of my life and I forget the big things. I get weighed down with questions about my purpose and my usefulness. I feel pointless and like I'm not really doing anything particularly interesting with my life. I wonder what I could be doing to live bigger, but I don't have any good ideas and that is somehow even more depressing.

When I hug my children these doubts go away. They snuggle their sweet faces into my neck and I feel like the most important person in the world. I am not sure what I should be or will do with my life. Until the lightening bolt of inspiration strikes, my children's hugs tell me that I am where I need to be. That is enough for now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Best Mom Tip #111: Buy an duster extension pole

I hosted a baby shower over the weekend and since it was at 10:00am I had to actually dust the house. When I have parties later in the day I just assume that there won't be enough light for people to see all the dirt.

But this one was when the sun shines on the most of my house so I decided to dust the chandelier. I bought this new extender thing with a "microfiber duster" and it worked really well. It also allowed me to discover the spoon stuck in one of the lights of the chandelier.

That's right. A spoon. It's a Mickey Mouse spoon, in fact. I have no idea how a spoon wound up in my light fixture that is approximately 20 feet off of the floor. It's still there. I have faith that my extender duster is going to help me out just as soon and I have time for a pointless, tedious task.

(diet update today)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Best Mom Tip #110: Kiss a baby's fingers

I realize that if you don't have a baby, this is the kind of advice that might precede your meeting a policeman. But I do have a baby and he really loves it when I kiss his fingers.

He giggles and coos and sometimes laughs out loud. His sweet little eyes look into mine and he seems absolutely content. Although the baby phase is tiring, I love how easy it is to make their whole world feel complete. Sweet baby.

In other news, Ricky Gervais made ME laugh out loud when he was the celebrity guest on Sesame Street. Imagine him trying to convince Elmo that he is, in fact, a celebrity. Pretty funny stuff.

Get your laughs where you can, I say. Even baby tickling and children's programming.

(another diet post if you're interested)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Best Mom Tip #109: Step away from the candy

I am stealing my children's Halloween candy. I know that it is expected, but it is not helping with my problem of not being able to wear any pants without elastic in them. Also, the children seem to notice that stuff is missing.

Charlotte separated out a very large pile that she said we could have, which I thought was awfully nice of her. Griffin just keeps asking if he can eat the giant tootsie pop. Speaking of tootsie pops, Charlotte ate a mini one and when she got to the center she said, "what is this in the middle?" I said, "that's the tootsie roll. Do you know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop?" Then I sang "whatever it is I think I see..." She looked at me funny and said, "soooo, I can eat it?"

Last night after I got them out of their Spiderman and Spidergirl costumes I snuggled Charlotte in her bed and said, "I love you, Spidergirl." She replied sleepily, "I love you, Spidermommy."

It's worth the damage to my diet to see their delight, explain tootsie rolls, and watch them throw their webs. I love Halloween.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Best Mom Tip #108: Make pork chops for the whole family

I don't usually list recipes, largely because I am a dismal cook. But I make some decent pork chops so I thought I'd share. This is really easy and can be made with just about anything you have.

2T butter
4-5 boneless pork chops
1/2 sweet onion (like Vidalia)
2 cups chopped fruit (pears, peaches, apples, blueberries, grapes or a combo)
1 cup fruit juice (or wine if you're not feeding small children)
salt and pepper

Use a pretty big pan and melt the butter on high heat. While it is melting, chop the onion and throw it in the pan. While the onion caramelizes (gets sweet and yummy) chop up the fruit and put it in the pan. Salt and pepper one side of the chops and put them seasoned-side down in the pan. Just move the onions and fruit over to one side to make room. Salt and pepper the naked side of the chops and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Flip the chops over and cook another 5 minutes. Add your juice and bring the heat down to medium-high. Let it finish cooking for about 10 more minutes or however long it takes you to set the table. The juice will cook down into a kind of sauce with the onions and fruit. My favorite combination is pears with white grape juice, but I've used just about anything I found in the fridge. It is easy, takes one pan, and gives you 5-10 minute increments to make side dishes. And it's completely done within 25 minutes.

If I can make this taste good there is no way on earth you can't. We had this last night for dinner and I'm still happy about the leftovers.

(check the diet page for another entry)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Best Mom Tip #107: Do some yard work

Our yard has sucked out loud for the last decade or so. We've only owned the house for 3 years, but it had to have sucked before we moved in. So over the last few weeks we have had trees removed, the yard re-graded, and sod laid. This weekend was for spreading mulch, watering the new sod, and cutting back some offensive branches.

My kids absolutely loved it. My son went through three pairs of pants and at one point ate dirt. The baby kicked in his seat and watched the leaves move. My daughter daintily shoveled wood chips while wearing her yard work accessories.

The sun was out, it was about 75 degrees, and the yard looks really nice. I love October in Atlanta. And I loved watching my little ones get really messy, feel useful, and wear themselves out all at the same time. Maybe we'll start on the side yards next weekend...

(p.s. there's an update on the diet page)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Best Mom Tip #106: Get back into your skinny jeans

So I gained 55 pounds with my latest pregnancy. That is more than my children weighed at birth combined. And multiplied by two. Anyway, I can't fix that now, but I do plan on losing each and every one of those unfortunate pounds.

I always like hearing about other people's lives so I thought I'd add another page to my blog that is dedicated to my progress. It is certainly not a how-to page because I don't think any diet in the world involves eating Little Debbie snack cakes and I am not willing to give them up.

You'll notice a tab now with Home and Best Mom's Diet on it. If you care to see how my diet is going just click on the diet one.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Best Mom Tip #105: Realize you are probably NOT the worst mom today

Today I used my meanest voice when talking to my 5-year-old while she was in the middle of a fit about an irrational problem. This event lasted for about 45 minutes, during which time I even attempted to lay guilt on her by telling her that she was being a terrible example to her brothers. I was also sarcastic. Now, when there are no longer 3 small people vying for my attention, I am really embarrassed about my behavior.

My 2-year-old is currently sleeping with his Cars sippy cup because he woke up about an hour after he went to bed and asked for milk. Then he refused to let go of the cup and kept hugging it to him like a snuggly. Nothing like the comfort of a cold plastic container to make mom feel like she's done her job.

I am weaning my not-quite-4-month-old because there are some medicines that I want to resume taking that I cannot use while nursing. I feel all sorts of guilt about that and the fact that he now has smelly diapers and spits up makes me feel worse.

I feel mostly like today saw me short on patience, long on frustration, and without much of a sense of the kind of calm, loving mom I want to be. I can only hope that somewhere out there someone else did a worse job of mothering and that my kids will wind up competing with that woman's weirdos for jobs one day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Best Mom Tip #104: Enjoy the celebrity guest star

I've had several moments over the last week that made me sigh at my current job. And by job I mean 24 hour on-demand concierge for 3 irrational beings.

I sighed when my 2-year-old yelled at me, demanding that I immediately change his dirty diaper, but who refused to sit on the potty 3 minutes earlier when I noticed that a diaper change would be imminent.

I sighed when I woke up to realize that, while the 3-month-old slept for 8 straight hours, I was woken up by the other two kids 4 times during those 8 hours.

I sighed when my husband attended a dinner at my favorite (and very expensive) restaurant with some head honchos from his company while I ate blue pancakes, green eggs, and yellow milk with my kids. We are out of red food coloring.

I sighed when I cut my son's hair with a set of clippers and my daughter pitched a fit because she wanted to have a hair cut at home, too. It did no good to explain that the only time I had ever cut girl hair was the day before 8th grade picture day and thus explains my crooked bangs preserved for all time. I don't think she heard me over her moans about the unfairness of life.

I sighed when I realized that if Sarah Jessica Parker and Jimmy Fallon were the guests on Sesame Street this week, it means that they are talking to me. I'm the grownup that is being thrown a bone by the producers in the hopes that of the 43 hours of children's television on in a given day, I will pick them. It may be the only way I can see people I used to watch before I had children. Back when it was Sonny Bono and John Denver, I didn't really get it.

On the plus side, SJP was waiting for Big on a park bench who turned out to be Big Bird. There was even a Sex and the City theme song fade-out. Jimmy Fallon did a pretty funny Bear Grylls impression while "lost" in Sesame Street. If I have to watch Muppets, at least now I'm getting all the jokes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Best Mom Tip #103: Get an orthopedist

In order of appearance, the following are all of the orthopedic problems I have had that are directly related to motherhood:

Number 1:
Problem--Wiggly kneecap due to overly elastic joints because of that chemical that loosens joints during pregnancy.
Solution--physical therapy and lots of leg lifts in front of the TV

Number 2:
Problem--Compression fracture in one of my tail bones due to underestimating how much I weighed while trying to sit down at 8 months pregnant.
Solution--horrible shots to my tail bones to stop the pain. It involved a nurse telling me "I'm just going to put this washcloth here in your bottom."

Number 3:
Problem--pelvic pain due to bone spurs caused by pressure on my pelvic bones while pregnant.
Solution--letting the pain "burn out over 6 months or so after birth." Also, not wearing any of my beautiful high heels because they exacerbate the pain

Number 4:
Problem--horribly bruised/possibly fractured foot from stepping on a back stroller wheel while attempting to jog to the bus stop to meet my eldest kid
Solution--don't know yet, but it still hurts 3 weeks later so I'm going to the doctor again

Number 5:
Problem--horribly bruised/possibly broken toe due to 2-year-old pushing over a bar stool onto my foot
Solution--probably nothing, but since I already made that appointment for number 4, I figured I ask about the toe, too

Parenthood is literally bad for my health.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Best Mom Tip #102: Cover your bases

And by bases, I mean breasts.

Charlotte had ballet class this afternoon which means that I got to spend an hour in a linoleum hallway corralling my 2-year-old and eaves dropping on other people's overly personal gossip. Which is interesting, but not enough to make the kid-wrangling all that enjoyable.

The baby needs to eat about 15 minutes before the class ends so I usually start nursing about 20 minutes before the end of class so that I'm about ready to go when Charlotte gets done. Today Harry had other ideas so I was still nursing about 5 minutes after the class had ended.

Charlotte decided to try to carry Griffin down the hall, but of course she tripped over her own feet, dropped Griffin, and landed on top of him. I, and everyone else in the hall, heard Griffin's head smack against the concrete floor.

I jumped up and rushed over to help the kids up while trying to hold on to Harry and check Griffin's head for lumps at the same time. Multiple women rushed up to me to offer help--which was nice, but I couldn't figure out exactly what they could help with or why they all seemed so concerned.

Then I realized that Harry had let go when I jumped up and the blanket I was using for privacy had fallen off and my bare boob was out there for the world to see.

It is a really good thing that my brother and I both seem to have been born without a sense of modesty or the ability to get embarrassed.

Because at 34, I feel that I am going through a decidedly awkward phase.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Best Mom Tip #101: Be handy

I like to fix things. I like to figure out what is wrong and solve the puzzle. And I like to learn new handy-man kinds of tasks. This serves me quite well because things break a lot in my world.

Whether I'm just buying cheap crap or whether it's just tough for products to be around my family, I find myself with the vacuum cleaner turned upside down or trying to wrestle the power drill from my son on a regular basis.

Yesterday I had to refit the belt that makes the brush roller on my vacuum cleaner spin. The instructions said to loop the belt around the motor shaft and then "slip the belt over the portion of the roller with no brushes."
It should have said, "attempt to force a 1/2 in thick piece of rubber around a tiny metal thing while a two year old sits on your head."

I feel that would be a more accurate reflection of what vacuum repair looks like. I did get the upstairs vacuumed, which is quite a feat in my world. Good thing I like fixing stuff or we'd never get to use our tools and minor appliances.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Best Mom Tip #100: Make good time

According to the stories of Moses that are taught by the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths, Moses spent about 40 years of his life as a shepherd. This was before the bush lit up and he brought the Israelites out of Egypt.

My preacher talked about Moses this morning and gave a message that centered on living intentionally and not wasting our time on earth.

What stuck out to me, however, is that Moses spent 40 years doing a really mundane job in a really mundane setting. That resonated with me because I often feel like I have a pretty boring path right now. Being a stay-at-home mom is the same thing day in and day out except that sometimes I get a different kid's poop on me.

When I was in high school I honestly thought that I'd be more important than that. I thought I'd be doing something more exciting or at least more unusual than suburban bliss.

I don't, though. I stay at home with my kids except when I teach high school. I drive a minivan. I belong to the YMCA and go to church.

So the fact that when Moses was my age he thought he would just tend the sheep every day until he died makes me feel better. This is a phase. It doesn't mean that there is nothing else for the rest of my days. This is what I'm doing now.

I'll be honest, though. If I can't settle in to this routine pretty quickly I might try setting the yard on fire and see what happens.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Best Mom Tip #99: Take the phone with you

I have learned this one undeniable truth: If I do not have the phone with me at all times, it will ring. If I hold on to it, it will not ring.

If I take the phone into the bathroom with me I will be that poor, sad Mommy sitting on the toilet holding the phone. (Don't worry, it's always the upstairs portable and you are highly unlikely to ever touch it.)

If I do not take it into the bathroom I will be that poor, sad Mommy with her enormous mom shorts around her ankles scrambling for the phone before it wakes the baby up.

A corollary to this truth is that if I have nothing to do and feel really lonely and useless, the phone will not ring.

If, however, I am trying to keep 5 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years from climbing into the monkey cage at the zoo, I will get 3 phone calls.

I can't wait for those cell phone sunglasses to become reality.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Best Mom Tip #98: Add bilingual to your resume

I have a working knowledge of German. And I am fluent in 2-year-old Griffin. Here is an example:

"Buh, Gah. Mommy. Ameh."

That's Griffin for "Dear, God. Thank you for Mommy. Amen."

I can tell that because of the cadence of the words and the fact that he had his hands folded while he spoke. And he looked at me with love and delight and the knowledge that I would like what he was saying.

That's why, later on in the day, when I said "No, baby, diapers don't go in the freezer" I really wasn't annoyed at all. I mean, really. The boy thanked God for me today. And I'm the only one who could understand a word.

Maybe that's why he's grateful.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Best Mom Tip #97: Take the self-guided tour

We took our three kids (ages 5, nearly 2, and 5 weeks) on a little road trip this week. It was not relaxing, but they seemed to have fun. What I learned on this trip is that we are those people who ruin vacation for others.

Griffin, the nearly-two-year-old one, yelled like an angry Cookie Monster throughout our underground tour of Ruby Falls. Through a series of shrieks that reverberated off the cave walls he demanded to be held my Mommy, who was also carrying Harry, the new baby. I only bumped my head once, though.

Then there was the tour of the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. Griffin decided that he needed to sing "Mary" by the Zack Brown Band actually ON the stage at the site of the original Grand Ole Opry. He needed to stand in the footsteps of Johnny and June and Minnie Pearl. That is, unfortunately, not part of the tour of the theater and I spent a lot of time trying to haul him back behind the ropes.

Charlotte had a meltdown because she lost her place in the song SHE was singing and Harry just began crying--probably from embarrassment at being a part of our loud, off-key group.

We also ate bar-b-que in the live music district, listened to a little bluegrass (much loved by Griffin), and climbed all over every playground we could find. The kids seemed to enjoy sharing a sofabed about as much as anything else on the trip.

Oddly enough, I had a pretty good time even though I kept thinking that Jay and I used to go on spur of the moment trips to Paris, not Chattanooga. We'll save that for next year.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Best Mom Tip #96: Check the pantry

Today I found the Raisin Bran in the refrigerator and all of the silverware thrown haphazardly into the drawer. This was a direct result of the help I received from my very cute, not-quite-two-year-old son. He helped put away the groceries and empty the dishwasher all without my asking. He was very proud of himself.

He also tried to pick up the new baby and bring him to me to eat. He picked up some garbage with his toes (a family trick he inherited from me) and tried to put it into a garbage can that was above his waist. He showed his 3-week-old brother that he had put on his shirt by himself. He rearranged a series of boxes to create a giant tower and pretended to cook and bring me things that were "hotz."

He told his bath bye-bye and wanted to brush his teeth by himself. He was very grown-up today and entertained me a lot. But I got worried when it was time for lunch and I couldn't find the turkey we'd bought at the grocery store today.

I looked all over for it--was it left in a grocery bag, or the car, or did I put it in a drawer in the 'fridge?

I eventually found it on the bottom shelf of the pantry where we keep paper cups and plates. I'm glad I have so much help, but it explains why it takes me a while to get food on the table.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Best Mom Tip #95: Count to three

This past Saturday I gave birth to my third child, a very cute baby boy. I thought I'd share my birth story since I always find other people's stories interesting.

I'd been having contractions for days and weeks so that was nothing new, but something about how they felt on Friday night at dinner made me go ahead and pack the overnight bag for the other two kids. Jay and I hung out, did the dishes, and watched TV. I made cookies, which Jay took as a sign of my version of nesting.

At about 3:30am I woke up with contractions that felt stronger--like weird gas pains--but not exactly painful. I timed for about an hour and then woke Jay up to hang out with me.

I took a shower, drank some water, and called the midwife. The contractions felt shorter than I remembered them being and that confused me some. The midwife told me to come to the hospital when the pain got worse since this was my third baby and she didn't think these contractions would back off.

At about 5:30am we called Jay's mom to come over and stay with the kids. I dried my hair, put on makeup, and headed on out to the hospital at a little after 6.

We got into the labor and delivery room at about 6:35 or so and worked on paperwork with the nurse who was going off duty at 7. She didn't check my progress because as Jay put it, "she's just working out her shift." Sandy, my new nurse, checked me about 7:15 or 7:20 and told me that I was at 8cm and asked if I had planned on an epidural.

I said that I had had one for my other two kids, but that I was o.k. right then. About 7:40, when my contractions were getting pretty intense, there was a nurse trying to get an IV in my arm when my water broke and I felt a LOT of very painful pressure and in my head I lost all control of myself.

Jay says that I was not flailing about moaning like Fred Sanford having a heart attack, but that I did say "oh, God, it hurts a lot" 2 or three times.

There was some confusion among the staff because my doctor and midwife were expected to come in at 8, but it was about 7:50 and I was telling the nurses I had to push. At one point, the nurse actually yelled into the hall that they needed someone to deliver the baby NOW!

Baby Harry was born at 7:55am after 2 1/2 pushes (the nurse corrected me when I told my mom I thought there were only 3 or 4 pushes and showed me the graph with 2.5) and a lot of fear on my part.

So, that is how I wound up having a natural childbirth experience, complete with leaving for the hospital in the middle of the night and scrambling hospital staff.

Jay and I are very grateful to have our healthy little guy at home with us to be snuggled and loved (and occasionally shunned) by his brother and sister.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Best Mom Tip #94: Develop a taste for blood

Here's my last trip to the Publix:

ME: I'd like a 1/2 pound of Boar's Head Ovengold Turkey, please. (It's good stuff, you should try it.)

Deli Meat Counter Lady: When are you due?

ME: Ummm....about 3 weeks.

DMCL: So, you'll have July babies?

ME: Well, he's due on June 26th, so it could be July, but hopefully not.

DMCL: There's only ONE???!!!! But you're so BIG!

ME: Uh, this is my third kid. The turkey is all I'd like, thank you.

By the way, the deli counter lady was too short to see over the counter so maybe I looked especially large to her because my stomach is at eye level in her world.

Then I walked by the butcher counter, but I did not stop, make eye contact, or look at any meat. The butcher called out to me and yelled, "It's a boy, isn't it? I can tell. Is this your first?" I mumbled something about it being a boy and my third and I'm due in a few weeks and kept walking toward the juice aisle.

The lady bagging my groceries also said she could tell it was a boy because she had three of her own. I didn't realize that procreation gave you medical diagnostic powers.

What in the world makes people think that they can discuss my physical appearance? Hence the taste of blood. I'm getting tired of biting my tongue.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Best Mom Tip #93: Plan to fail

Last weekend we traveled to North Carolina to see my sister-in-law and her husband who are stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville. This is about a 6 hour ride from our house so Jay and I decided to leave at about 7pm after the kids had been fed and bathed and put in their pajamas.

The idea was that as it got dark, they would fall asleep and we'd get to enjoy adult conversation in the middle of the night as our sweet children slept in the back seat. This is not what happened.

Our daughter was very chatty until about 8:30, which kept her brother awake. He finally fell asleep about that time, but she unfortunately began moaning and keening about how she couldn't put her head down. She was pitiful and loud and it was pretty horrible.

We were in the middle of nowhere and there wasn't a hotel I felt like we could stay in. I will admit that I am a bit of a hotel snob, but really, there wasn't anything in sight for miles. She finally fell asleep about 9:30, but woke up again at 10:30. At 11:30pm we finally found a hotel and we rounded up the kids and enough stuff to stay the night.

She fell promptly asleep but our son, delighted to be awake in the middle of the night, began jumping up and down on the bed and throwing pillows onto the floor. We woke up exhausted, 2 hours from our destination, and 120 dollars poorer.

We had an absolutely wonderful time seeing Julie and Christian and I'll share some pictures later---once they're uploaded from the camera and phones we took them on.

Our ride home took 10 hours, involved several torrential downpours, an entire closed freeway that we had used four days earlier (and added 40 miles to the trip), and unexplained stop-and-go traffic on I-85.

We were so tired of traveling that we stopped at my parents' house 30 minutes from our own home just so we could have dinner and bathe the kids and get the hell out of the car.

It takes a lot for me to abandon my plans, but motherhood is definitely trying to get me to change that personality trait.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Best Mom Tip #92: Park for two

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to eat lunch by myself outside of a school building. It was a beautiful day and I was thrilled to be able to eat outside at a local sandwich place.

When I got there, I pulled into a parking space that was a little tight, but I was proud of myself for being able to squeeze the giant minivan into such a small space.

Then I tried to get out of the car.

I was trying to hop my way far enough out of the car to retrieve my right leg when I realized that even if I got out, getting back in holding my sweet tea was not going to be possible. There was simply no way to get myself out of the car with my protruding belly and then get back in with any sense of dignity.

So I heaved my left leg back into the vehicle, turned the car back on, and moved my enormous mom-mobile two spaces down.

That's when I spotted a former coworker who is a 5'7" size 2 walking to her own car.

I didn't say hi.

It was pretty demeaning to have to actually re-park the car because I'm too damn big to get out. I will be parking in remote spaces for the next 4-5 weeks.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Best Mom Tip #91: Buy longer shirts

So my stretch marks have returned.

I will be honest, I really don't have very many body problems. I'm tall and I lose weight relatively easily when I try to do so. And I eat a lot of junk food so there is always that excuse that I COULD be skinnier if I tried.

I am, therefore, fully aware that I have very little to complain about when it comes to the challenges of what motherhood does to one's body. I certainly have my variety of aches and pains, but it is the damage to the skin of my stomach that annoys me the most. Well, that, and the digestive issues I suffer while pregnant, but no one needs to hear about that.

I've always rather liked my stomach but after my last pregnancy, my skin got loose and wrinkly after the baby weight came off. And I got stretch marks (which didn't happen the first time--I know, I'm lucky, but it was still shocking to me).

The return of said stretch marks just reminds me that even after I can lie on my stomach again (in about 7 weeks) and after I lose the weight (in about 8 months) I will still have an oddly wrinkly stomach when next summer's bathing suit season rolls around.

So I'm buying longer shirts. It's either that or plastic surgery and I just can't justify voluntary operations. Maybe someone will invent Botox for your stomach...I'll let you know what I find out.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Best Mom Tip #90: Don't cry in public

This morning I took my sweet daughter to register for kindergarten. She did her own hair, as usual, with a matching bow to coordinate with her shirt.

She practically danced off with the complete stranger who was doing her screening process. She was trying desperately not to run when she returned from her screening, so proud of herself for knowing her numbers, letters, and how to spell her name.

She also got a new pencil that says, "Kindergartners are #1."

While she was gone, I proved that I live in the school district, handed over copies of her birth certificate and social security card and chatted about our county's teacher furloughs with the registration lady.

And I managed not to cry. I didn't even tear up in front of anyone. She is beautiful and so big and really, REALLY not a baby.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Best Mom Tip #89: Be grateful for your birth control

The cover of Newsweek for this week is about the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. It's actually the 50th anniversary of The Pill becoming legal in the U.S., but still, it is a momentous event.

I am a dorky history teacher so patterns in work forces, changes in societal structure, and roles of traditionally marginalized segments of society (like women) are all things I study and, in turn, teach to adolescents. Birth control is one of those things that I teach about very delicately when talking to teenagers.

The Pill is a big deal for a few reasons. Being able to plan pregnancies allows women to have careers instead of "jobs" for the first time in history. The American workforce of the last 50 years certainly reflects that. It also opened the discussions about the roles of birth control methods--and unless you have 1 kid for every year you've been married, you're practicing SOME form of birth control. And, really, I don't think the Duggars read this, so I'm talking to you.

At the beginning of the 20th century it was illegal to sell condoms, teach women about their reproductive cycles, or advise married couples on ways to avoid additional pregnancies. Families had more children than they could afford and women placed themselves at increased risk for complications during pregnancy.

I know there are a lot of problems that come with hormonal birth control. But there are quite a lot of benefits and the idea that we can actually have choices about when we have kids is great in my world.

Every time I teach about the changes that come with women's rights and the advent of legal birth control options I am grateful that I live now. I have been well educated about how my body works and what I can do to try and keep myself healthy.

I don't have to have more children than I can afford to feed in order to have a normal marital relationship. I can buy condoms, an IUD, a diaphragm, the female condom, the O-ring, spermicide, AND a wide variety of hormonal options--in patch, pill, and injectable form. I can even choose to track my fertility cycles with a wide variety of books, websites, and doctor resources if I want to use "natural" family planning.

The Pill, for all it's faults, opened the door for that knowledge. So thanks to Margaret Sanger (who received death threats for trying to teach working class women how to limit their number of children) and Frank Colton (who invented the first hormonal pill) and all the researchers who have come since then. I appreciate it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Best Mom Tip #88: Hang a DIY headboard

I like to do home improvement projects. I like learning new things and using power tools. And I like avoiding regular house work. Unfortunately for my husband, my version of nesting means that we now have a really long list of projects to do in the next two months. The one we just finished making is a headboard for our new king-size bed and since I had a hard time finding out how to hang it, I thought I'd post what we did here.


Here's our room before the project. Notice I left it like it really looks and without nice lighting.

STEP 1: I went to Lowe's and bought a piece of 4'x8' birch plywood. We had Lowe's cut it down to 76" inches (2 inches wider than the bed is) and then had it cut in two. You don't have to have that last cut, I just liked the way it looked with a seam once it was finished.

STEP 2: I put the two 2'x6'4" pieces of plywood on folding card tables in my garage--because I don't actually have a woodworking shop--and sanded the wood with an orbital sander. You can use sandpaper and do it by hand, but it is a LOT harder--and, besides, this way you get to use a power tool.

STEP 3: Apply a coat of wood conditioner (sold in the stain section at Lowe's--I got Minwax because that's the kind of stain I got). After it soaks in for about 10 minutes, you're ready to stain the wood.

STEP 4: Apply the stain. I used Minwax Polyshades because it has the stain and the polyurethane protective coating in one. This is their Bombay Mahogany shade--I applied 3 coats (with 1 day drying time in between each one).

STEP 5: For this project, we needed to attach the two pieces of wood together so that they could hang as one unit, but if you didn't cut the plywood in two you wouldn't have this step. This is Jay using brackets to connect the two pieces together. The boards are face down on our bedroom floor.

STEP 6: Attach the mounting hardware. This was the part I couldn't find online, but I found a great product at Lowe's called The Hangman Picture Hanging System. One metal strip is screwed into the wall (it even comes with a level in it) and one metal strip is screwed into whatever you want to hang. The strip on the item to be hung then slides down on top of the one on the wall. You can even slide the item along the strip if it isn't quite centered. It is wonderful. We got the 18" one, but it comes in several lengths.

STEP 7: Hang the headboard. With the wall mounting strip drilled into 2 studs (used our stud finder again) and three anchors, the 45lb headboard won't be going anywhere. The Hangman thing says it holds up to 200lbs if supported by studs, so I will definitely be using it again.

FINISHED PRODUCT: In true before and after fashion, here is the headboard complete with made up bed, new wall sconces, and new bedside tables. I also spend a lot of money while pregnant.

I don't have a fancy camera and the lights in my ceiling fan are all burned out so the headboard looks quite dark in this picture. You also can't really see the seam that I wanted to have with two pieces of wood. But trust me, in person it matches my grandmother's vanity nicely and is very shiny. This is one of my more successful home projects and I'm really glad to have found that Hangman thing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Best Mom Tip #87: Invest in good carpet cleaner

Last night I got the opportunity to go to the bathroom by myself. I know... you're jealous of my fabulous life.

During that time, my husband was getting the kids into the bath tub when I suddenly heard him yell, "Ahhhh! Buddy, are you peeing? Stop! Don't pee on the floor!"

A moment later I heard, "Oh, God! Are you pooping? STOP!"

I decided that it might be time for me to finish my alone bathroom time and see what was going on.

It turns out that Jay had helped our son get undressed for bath time and then walked toward the bathroom. Our cute little boy apparently stopped to relieve himself in the hallway. When Jay went to go get a towel and the carpet cleaner he returned to find our boy squatting over the floor.

Jay was able to take care of the problem and clean up the unfortunate flooring with our amazing series of carpet cleaners. We already owned several because of the special barf that this kid has hurled up in the past.

When I asked Jay about this later, he said his favorite part of the moment was when he tried to reason with the 20-month-old and get him to stop peeing mid-stream. As he put it, "it takes YEARS to develop that kind of control." I'm not sure what that means and I didn't really want to ask.

But with another boy on the way, I'm thinking I need to invest in carpet cleaner by the gallon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Best Mom Tip #86: Average your days together

Yesterday, I was Supermom.

I woke up and played with the children before work, convincing my 20-month-old that his sippy cup was just as wonderful as his bottle (for which he has an abnormal amount of love). I got to work and taught a great and interactive lesson on the Cold War. I then raced to my OB during my planning period for my 30 week checkup. (Baby is fine, but sitting upright so I'm supposed to walk a lot to encourage him to flip over).

I rushed back to work, taught several more classes and finished the workday feeling accomplished and on top of things. I picked up my kids and took them for a 30 minute walk (as suggested by my midwife) while pulling them in a wagon. Which was very hard.

I made "rainbow dinner" to the delight of the preschoolers and got them ready for bed. (BTW, rainbow dinner was bagel with strawberry cream cheese, a red-orange banana, green eggs, and yellow milk followed by funfetti cupcakes with sprinkles.) Then I watched 24 with Jay and finished a novel.

Today was somewhat different. I woke up late and left grumpy children who were disappointed in the amount of snuggling in our morning. I was very late to work and didn't get to eat breakfast. I fell asleep during my planning period and didn't get my work done. And, honestly, that's pretty embarrassing on several fronts. I was lightheaded when I got home so I let my kids watch TV for almost 2 hours while I lay on the couch keeping my eye out in case my lovely son decided to climb the DVD tower.

I had Jay bring home fast food for dinner and we all ate in front of an episode of Dinosaur Train on PBS.

Yesterday I was Claire Huxtable. Today I'm Roseanne Barr.

Maybe if I average my days together I could end up being Marge Simpson by the end of the week.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Best Mom Tip #85: Keep looking ahead

I am an impatient person. When I decide to change something about my life or to move on to another phase, I go just about crazy waiting for the "new" to start. The result is that I often wind up missing the fun of the here and now. I try to relax and enjoy the moments because I know that the next phase will be here soon enough, but I'm still just biding my time.

This week, however, I got a letter that made me freak out for a minute about my next phase.

I have decided to quit my job as a teacher in order to stay home with my kids. I started teaching in the 2000-2001 school year and I student taught before that so this has been a big part of my life for the last decade. I love teaching--I love the students, the creativity that comes with my job, and having a captive audience that is forced to listen to what I like about history. My own children do not seem as enthralled with the Roman Empire as I am.

But daycare is really expensive, my children are really little, and the Fulton County Board of Education has decided to "furlough" us, which is a euphemism for "don't come to work and we won't pay you any money." So on Tuesday, I gave my principal my letter of resignation.

And in an amazing burst of efficiency, I received an official separation from the County in the mail on Friday. These are the same people who have fingerprinted me 6 times, who took 6 weeks to send me vital insurance information to prevent my entire family from being uninsured, and who made me take a class on how to be a substitute after I was already a certified teacher.

To actually get a processed piece of information 3 days after my initial letter was amazing. And it made me cry.

It spells out that I have resigned after several years of service and that it is not because of a lack of work that I am leaving my job. It is official and important looking and made me afraid for the significant change that is about to happen to my life.

I'm not a teacher anymore. I'm not on leave, as I was in the past when I took time off with my kids, and I have no connection to the public school system for the first time since I was 5.

This time, my ability to look ahead is a good thing for me. I am excited about our third baby to come, grateful that I am able to walk away from a job, and scared to death that I will be a bad stay-at-home mommy. I really don't like the PTA, you know.

So, here it goes. My attempt at a different career path. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Best Mom Tip #84: Pretend you're at the fun house

So today my lovely mother-in-law offered to pick up my children from school, feed them dinner, and bring them back to me for bath and bed time. This gave me almost 2 hours of free time this afternoon. So I went to get a pedicure. I also bought my daughter shorts for her school uniform at Target, but for an entire hour I was selfish and alone at the nail salon.

I read a book, had my feet and legs massaged, and got very pretty toes--which is nice because I have a hard time bending in half enough to hold my hand steady while I paint my own toes at this point.

On the way out I was relaxed and carefree and a nice looking guy in a truck paused and smiled at me while I crossed the parking lot to my car. I felt cute and young and happy that I still bring out chivalry in random strangers.

Then I saw my reflection in my minivan and laughed out loud. For a moment, I had forgotten that I was hugely pregnant with my THIRD kid and that guy was just thinking about his mom when I walked by.

So I decided to pretend that I'm living in the fun house and the bizarrely rotund reflection is a result of warped reflective surfaces. And not the result of swollen breasts and a protruding belly. And sometimes the carnies hit on me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Best Mom Tip #83: Keep your thoughts to yourself

You are not actually allowed to say the things you think. Most of us follow this rule--this is why no one says "yes, you look fat in that outfit" or "that new haircut really makes you look like your mom."

But people seem to completely forget this social nicety when you're pregnant. They say things like "Wow, you're really big already! I guess that happens when it's your third kid." This was from a person who I'm pretty sure had gastric bypass surgery.

Or, from a coworker, "I guess you must be in the bathroom more than any of us, right?" Why are my bodily functions a topic of discussion?

I am also asked how I'm feeling by people whose names I don't even know. And we wear name tags at work.

I feel fine, thank you. And fat, and unwieldy, and unattractive, and like I don't like my hair. None of that is really any of your business if you can't name the father of my children.

So let's keep our thoughts to ourselves. You don't comment on how "round" I'm looking and I won't comment on how low your ass has gotten. Agreed?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Best Mom Tip #82: Keep your receipts

Last month, I decided to remodel our laundry closet based on an idea I saw in a magazine and I decided that this needed to be done before our new baby comes in about 3 months.

The idea was to stack the washer and dryer on one side of the closet and install cabinetry on the other half in order to make workspace and extra storage.

The stacking kit finally came in and the men came to stack the set yesterday. But the drip pan was too small to move the new washer over so the door to the closet could open so we bought a new drip pan. And removed the old one and painted the closet. All before the men came yesterday with just Jay and me doing all of the appliance moving.

We went to Lowe's and bought the cabinets we wanted--one 36" base and a 36"wall unit. The guys came and stacked the washer and dryer. Which, as a unit, was deeper than the individual pieces because of how the stacking kit works. Which made the drip pan too far away from the wall for the hole in the pan to actually be OVER the drain pipe in the floor.

So we spent some time trying to figure out how to jerry-rig a drip pan alternative. Then we slid the new cabinet into place and tried to figure out how to create an appropriate top for it that didn't cover the slightly low electrical outlet.

Honestly, we spent all of Saturday, 3 trips to Lowe's, and a lot of our mental capacity trying to figure out how to make this work in our space. Although everything technically FIT, it just didn't look right.

So we unstacked the set ourselves, heaved the cabinets back down the stairs, and returned them to the store. After we dug the receipt out of the outside dumpster in the rain.

The result is that we have a laundry closet that looks a lot like it did last week and we bought a new king sized mattress just so we could cross something off of our to-do list. It doesn't really make sense, but I am excited about the bed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Best Mom Tip #81: Rely on your training

I have two family members with really badass jobs. Both involve weaponry, government paychecks, and crazy schedules. I often hear about what they're doing at work and think, "I can't believe that's what you do for a living."

They are well trained and taught how to survive on little sleep and with impaired judgement. Most of the time I feel like their world is legions beyond my own. And then I have a night like last night.

I went to bed at 11:30pm because, due to evil daylight savings time, I was not tired. At 4:08am my son woke up and cried and cried. I walked into his room and he yelled, "Up! Up!" I picked him up and asked if he wanted to rock or snuggle.

He took his paci out of his mouth, pointed toward the stairs and demanded "BA-BA! MUK!" Which is how he asks for a bottle of milk. He does not drink bottles during the day. He does not eat in the middle of the night anymore. But last night he was Napoleon--complete with the short stature and minor hissy fits.

At 4:20 I put him back in his bed and went back to my own.

At 5:00am I heard a thud and then the quiet crying of my daughter. Jay went in to check on her and it turned out that she needed to go to the bathroom but couldn't figure out how to get out of her pajamas because she was really still asleep. She was just standing in her room dancing from foot to foot with her eyes closed.

After she took care of business she came back to my room to snuggle with me where she kept trying to steal my pillow until I woke up at 7:30, late for work, and disoriented by the lack of light outside.

So, no, it is not likely that the "Ballad of the Suburban Mom" will be a hit song that inspires the nation. There will probably not be a cool movie titled, simply, "MOM" that details the excitement of my life.

But I can take sleep deprivation. I can take massive amounts of bodily fluids covering my clothes, hair, and nails and be grateful that everyone still seems relatively healthy when its over--and do it all without throwing up.

I can also lactate.

So, bring it on, crazy problems when I'm at my most tired. I've been trained for this.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Best Mom Tip #80: Take advantage of the weather

I left my children crying at the bedroom door when I had to go into work early today. They were upset that I wasn't able to snuggle longer and that I wasn't taking them downstairs with me. It was horrible.

To have to leave the house with little wails of "Maaaamaaaa, maaaamaaaa" when my son has really only recently begun making an obvious differentiation between the words "more" and "mama" was a pretty crappy way to start my day.

So after work, instead of heading to the Y to work out, I picked them up from school and took them to get ice cream. Then we went to the park for an hour. Then we played in the front yard until dusk. They got to bed a little late, but we had a great time and we welcomed the first really warm day of the year in fine style.

Although my feelings change almost hourly, today quitting my job seemed like a really good idea.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Best Mom Tip #79: Get a good washing machine

Depressing though this is, I am happy about my new washer and dryer. Yeah, they're blue. And the washer is front-loading.

Granted, the drip pan was bolted to the floor by the previous owner of our house so the installers had to just put the new washer in the same place as the old one. The bi-fold doors on the laundry closet-thing take up too much of the door frame when they're open, so our front-loader can't open if the bi-fold doors are open. So, if you come to my house, you can see the new appliances because there aren't any doors at all right now.

Actually, I think you may be able to see them through the 2nd story picture window if you stand at just the right angle in the cul-de-sac.

But even with their new prominence in our decor, I am still happy. Largely because my day involves things like my daughter landing butt-first in a bowl of chili. That's right. Her behind. In a bowl of chili. This is why I need a really good washing machine. She somehow mananged to flip over the back of the sofa and catapult herself onto the coffee table during our playroom picnic time. She was actually sitting upright in her bowl of chili on the coffee table.

The new washer got that chili out of the seat of her footy pajamas in no time. And it didn't sound like the washer was trying to escape our house--which was a problem with the old one.

So, I am pleased with appliances. I think I'll go get in my minivan and buy a new blouse at Ann Taylor to celebrate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Best Mom Tip #78: Wait for Tuesday

To be upfront, I feel I should tell you that this post is really complain-y. I will be whining a lot. I blame that on pregnancy hormones. And also my penchant for whining.

Right now, I just look fat, not pregnant. I also am growing out my hair and I am in an awkward phase that looks like a cross between the Dorothy Hamill haircut of the 70s and that episode of Friends when Phoebe gives Monica a haircut like Dudley Moore instead of Demi Moore. The maternity tops that have been loaned to me aren't quite filled out by my belly and my pants either fall off or won't button. I just don't feel good in ill-fitting clothes.

My ipod got washed in the washing machine and I didn't get a chance to work out today. Those two things are loosely related, but I will spare the details to protect the innocent.

I haven't gotten to spend much time with Jay lately that didn't involve us talking about tasks.

"Have you packed the kids' bags? Has the baby had his medicine? Are the sheets dry yet so I can go to bed? Do you think the tax return looks right? How long has that water spot on the ceiling been there--isn't that under the kids' bathroom? What do we need at the grocery? Any ideas on how to make that stupid drawer front in the kitchen stop falling off? Can you do the dentist this week if I do the checkup next week?

None of these topics are very romantic. And none of them encourage loving conversation. Actually, they tend to encourage accusations, frustration, and exasperation.

I need a vacation.
One where looking like you've dressed with clothing exclusively gleaned from your grandmother's closet is considered the height of fashion.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Best Mom Tip #77: Keep getting up

I don't really have a choice about whether or not I get up in the morning, I suppose. But I wish I did sometimes. This past week was a bit wearing. Work wasn't great, Griffin STILL has some sort of cough, my throat is killing me, and I haven't had my full voice since last Tuesday. That is difficult when you're a teacher.

So, I have to remind myself to keep getting up. I am certainly not in extreme circumstances like my friends and family members who are or will be serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't know hunger or poverty. So guilt for being whiny actually helps me get my act together and get going.

But I am tired. And whiny. And I really don't like it when it rains constantly. We've been in a drought for the last few years and it seems like the heavens are making up for it all this year.
We even cancelled school for flooding, which really never happens in Atlanta. By the way, our county just announced that we would not be allowed to make that day up and, instead, our pay will be docked.

Decisions like that make it hard to feel loyal to my profession and employer. Maybe it's just a phase in my pregnancy and I'll snap out of it in another week or two. Until then, I will keep getting up. Mostly because it is hard to make sub plans from my house.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Best Mom Tip #76: Put labels on your storage bags and boxes

I have lost my maternity clothes. All of the pants and skirts I'd compiled over the last two pregnancies. The various sizes of maternity shirts I've needed. The dress I liked so much I bought it twice after I left the first one in a hotel in Miami. The one pair of maternity shorts I've ever tried on and been willing to wear. The tank tops I wore as undershirts almost every day.

All of this is because I don't label things. The best I can figure, I got the bag of maternity clothes mixed up with a bag of clothes to be given to Goodwill. Somewhere out there pregnant mothers who wanted to dress like me and shop at Goodwill are very happy. Although, I'm not sure anyone wants to actually dress like me so maybe they're still there and I could go try to buy them back at very reasonable prices.

I am an idiot without clothes to wear during the months of March, April, May, and June. Maybe I'll just wear the same thing every day and focus on accessories. Of course, I only have two pairs of shoes to wear because I can't wear heels so the variety will be limited.

I realize that this is not a real problem and that I am very lucky to be able to just buy new clothes, but I am still annoyed. Booooooooo, me.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Best Mom Tip #75: Eat your words

I bought a minivan. I have sworn for as long as I've been aware of minivans that I would never drive one.

My mom had one of the first versions of the minivan in the early '90s and I had to drive it to work at Ruby Tuesday on occasion. One fine summer evening I was driving my 17-year-old self home in the van with the windows rolled down and the warm wind blowing. I felt young and free and like I was capable of anything. Then I remembered I was driving a minivan and that it is simply not possible to look cool in a minivan. Even at 17.

So I am traumatized. Our 4Runner proved once and for all that it is possessed on Christmas Eve when it began locking and unlocking its doors on its own. It made me think of that movie Christine where the car starts killing people. Anyway, we determined that the only vehicle we owned capable of carrying our relatively-soon-to-be family of five could not be trusted.

Thus, the need for a new car. We got rid of the 4Runner and got a Honda Odyssey. It is really roomy and has all sorts of crazy places to put cups. I have equipped it with paper towels, tissues, hand sanitizer, diapers, large trash bags (lesson learned from the barfing incident of Christmas Eve '08), and a make-shift trash can. None of this is visible to the passengers. All of it makes me feel older and older by the minute.

I have already hit the garage door with it and Jay has already scrubbed the paint off the fender. I have already been waved at by perky teenage students riding in their moms' minivans while driving to work in it. I have already had cheerios spilled in the floorboard.

One of my students told me I was too young to have a minivan. She is now my favorite student.

I have embraced my mom-hood on a new level. I'm already thinking about how nice it will be on family road trips. So I humbly take it back. I own a minivan. And I'm really glad that I do.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Best Mom Tip #74: Keep warm

It is really cold here. I realize that other parts of the country have temps in the teens on a regular basis, but those places also have things like double-paned windows, snow plows, and actual winter coats. Here in Atlanta we really don't invest in any of those things. So the weather forecast that predicts highs of 35 for the next 7-10 days are really depressing.

I combat this by sitting directly in front of my space heater while snuggled up in my fleece blanket until I feel uncomfortably warm and ready for bed.

Last night I got to stay warm by sitting in front of the fire and visiting with friends I've had for 15 years. There were 5 families who came to celebrate the New Year at our house, and although not all of them actually made it to midnight, it was still a lot of fun.

Jay, Jason, Allison, Candy, and I all met in the fall of 1994. I met Kim and Cheryl a year later--technically I met Cheryl before she graduated from high school--when they came to UGA. Swami (not his real name--obviously) I met somewhere during that sophomore year of college, but really got to know him our junior year in 96-97. Josh, Millie, Adam, and Jon all "married in" between 5 and 8 years ago.

I am very lucky that I know such wonderful people who continue to encourage and sharpen me after such a long time. I can't even begin to explain how fun watching and holding the 11 children we have between us was.

I'm a little chilly, but my heart is warm. Thanks, guys. We had a great time.