Things I Forgot Today

Mar 31 2011

I want my own version of the TV show 24.  It can show at every hour all the things I forget to do.  I’m pretty sure I can fill an entire series.

I’ve had too many things to do this week.  Eighteen after-school appointments and activities in the past four days, to be exact.  And that’s after I canceled three things I couldn’t fit.

I’m hoping that garners me some sympathy, because that’s the only excuse I have for what you’re about to learn.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve flunked at being a responsible niece, an organized mother, and a thoughtful daughter.

That’s a lot to pack into 24 hours.  I find you have to really focus to fail on that kind of level.

Do everything to the best of your ability, I say.  Especially failure.  Go big or go home.

To be a responsible niece, all I had to do was return a key for the beach house to my aunt.  That task takes approximately 10 minutes total.  It’s not hard.

My aunt was kind enough to loan me the key.  The least I can do is return it on time.

I had the key in my purse.

I made arrangements to drop it off.

I set myself an alarm to remember.

I reset the alarm twice.

I didn’t remember.

I didn’t remember because I was in my son’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting all afternoon.

IEP meetings are a special way to torture teachers and parents with voluminous paperwork for kids with special needs.  This was Ian’s annual IEP meeting.

I did remember to confirm that my mom would pick Ian up after school.

I blithely chatted with my mom at the school’s entrance when I arrived for the IEP meeting, as that coincided perfectly with the time she was there to pick him up from school.

I walked into my son’s classroom for my meeting with his uber fabulous teacher, whereupon I was asked if Greg, my husband, would be able to join us for the meeting.

“No,” I replied.  “He’s home with Ian today because Ian’s sick.”

Ian’s sick.

Hello?  Beth?  Anyone in there?

You’d think that somewhere between the time that I called Greg to check on my sick Ian… and confirmed with my mom that she’d be picking up that SAME Ian from school… that it would have dawned on me to — oh, I don’t know — maybe tell her that he wasn’t at school?

Not only did I leave my mom hanging in front of Ian’s school today, I also just remembered that my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary is this coming weekend.

40 years!

Forty years of not using your pillow to smother the person who wakes you up with super sonic snoring every single night.  That’s aMAZing!  A very cool and important milestone.

The kind of milestone one’s children should remember.  Preferably before it’s three days away.

What I should have done was lied.  Called them and said, “Just wanted to confirm that we’re on for your anniversary dinner on Friday.  You know, since we haven’t talked about it for a few months.”

Dang it all.  I missed an opportunity there.

Instead, I was super cool and smooth. “Hey, there!  Soooo… the Big 4-0, huh?  This weekend!  Um… ya got any plans?  No?  Want that your neglectful daughter should make some?”

My parents need new kids.

So, to recap, things I forgot today include:

  1. To be responsible enough to be allowed to borrow stuff
  2. To honor my parents
  3. My son



Review: Got Dinner?

Mar 30 2011

My blogging buddy, Susan at The Confident Mom, asked me last week if I’d review her new quick and easy recipe compilation.

Hmmm.  Let’s see.

Someone who solicits my opinion.  Requiring me to be opinionated.  Opinionacious.  Opinionable.

I thought about it for four seconds.  That’s how long it took me to find the reply button on my smart phone.  (Notice that the sellers of smart phones don’t make any promises that the user will be smart.  That’s been a disappointment.)

I wrote something like, “Um, yes, please!” back to Susan, because I’m pretty sure I was born for opinionation.

Also, I finally (finally, finally) get to be like all the hip bloggers out there who review the books they’re reading.  I normally can’t do that because the books that pass as literature for me may be more like mind fluff for the rest of y’all.  So I just choose not to embarrass myself by ever admitting titles.

In my own defense, you should know that I have read exactly four books in the past year and a half that were reviewed on National Public Radio.  If you push me into telling you what’s on my reading list, I’m prepared to use them.  Don’t push.  I will pull the NPR trigger.

Besides, this is way cooler than reviewing what I was already reading.  This is the author asking me to do the review.  Fancy!

And, even better, it’s all about recipes.  Ah, recipes.  I’m good at those.

I cook.  In enormous quantities.  I eat.  In quantities I don’t want to, well, quantify.  I’m pretty sure I’m completely qualified for this kind of review.

So here goes.

I have some good news and some bad news.

Good news:

  1. Susan’s recipe compilation is great.  It’s called “Got Dinner?” and you can find it by clicking here.
  2. It’s for busy families, and Susan totally delivers on the words “quick” and “easy.”  She could also have added “family friendly” and “delicious,” but that might have made for an unwieldy title.  And no one wants an unwieldy title.  Except, perhaps, for Donovan Hohn who just published “Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Enviromentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them.” Mr. Hohn = not so concise.  He and I should never have dinner together.  Our lack of concision would be our doom.
  3. The download is cheap.  I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to use the word “cheap” in a review.  “Inexpensive” is more elegant.  Or I could say something about how this is for the “frugally inclined.”  But I like cheap.  I like to buy cheap.  Susan’s 40+ recipes cost $5.95 to download.  And she’s offered a 20% discount to my readers if you use MOM5 at check-out. Thanks, Susan!  I did the math, and that’s less than $0.12 per time-tested recipe.
  4. Susan uses common ingredients that are easy to find at the grocery store… well, in the U.S., anyway.  And I bet you’ll do OK in Canada, too, Gwen, if you can manage to snowshoe out of your igloo, past the mooses (meese?), and make it to a trading post.  I’m not familiar with Dutch, Romanian, or Kiwi grocery stores, so I won’t speak for the rest of the world.
  5. It’s immediately downloadable, which means it’s easy-peasy to start using right away.  I’m a big fan of “immediate,” as patience has never been in my repertoire.
  6. Let it be noted that I didn’t have to use auto-correct on “repertoire” because I spelled it right the very first time I tried.  I strongly feel this accomplishment deserves its own place on the good news list.

Bad news:

  1. I’m not getting any sales kickbacks here.
  2. OK, technically, that’s good news for you since it means this is an honest review.
  3. Not that I’d lie to you even for a kickback.  I’d just like to have the moral dilemma sometime.  “Integrity or money?  Ummm, I piiiick…. integrity!”
  4. Susan has me thinking a lot more about food.  What I think about, I blog about.  That means I’ve got posts coming soon on my frozen food co-operative, Julia Child, what we talk about ’round the dinner table, and how fantastic I am at teaching table manners.  If you don’t like it, you should contact Susan.

In conclusion…

Yay, Susan!  I’m naming and claiming your Taco Cornbread Bake for my food co-op this month.  And I just used your dinner conversation starters at the table last night with the anticipated blogilicious results.  Which sadly have to wait for another post, as I must away to my bed.

Wishing you all a good night and good eating,

The Reviewer


Mar 29 2011

Everyone’s safely home.

I have brought the littlest ones back from the beach.  Greg, Ian, and Abby made their triumphant return from Mexico.

After 10 days apart — days when we missed each other terribly — everyone’s back to irritating the heck out of each other.

My 11-year-old son, Ian, is having a timeout in his room yelling, “My mom is SO BOSSY!  Ahhh!  My mom is SO BOSSY!  Why?  Oh, why?!  WHY is my mom SO BOSSY?”

I don’t know, sweet darling child.

I don’t know why I’m so bossy.

I know you’re right, though.

Right on the money.  I remember my mama telling me so when I was 8 years old and I was busy perfecting my bossy technique on my younger brother.

Ian, I guess it’s your special blessing in life to have such a bossy mom.  It’s my pleasure to be your provider.  Your dealer.  Your bossy-ness life-blood.  Yes, indeed — I’m here for all your bossing needs.

As my son shouts his woes to the sky, I hearken back to the time Ian was 4.  That’s when we began to realize the extent of his special needs, as Ian was essentially non-verbal if you discount a constant repetition of “Eesh.  Eesh.  Eesh.”

I despaired.  I stressed.  I said things to my husband I’d like to take back.

I ate.

I begged God to help my son.  I begged God to help me.

I pleaded for patience and understanding.  I felt very alone.

I concluded I bond most deeply with children once they start talking.  Which made me freak out.

Did I say I freaked out?

Because I freaked out.  Freaky Freakish Freakazoid FREAKED OUT.

Slowly, Ian started to talk.  “No” was his first word.

Actually, “no” may have been all of my kids’ first word.  A portent of things to come.  And perhaps a teeny, tiny bit of their mother in them.

Ian’s 11 now, and he speaks at a low 4-year-old level.  The BEST part of that sentence?  He SPEAKS.

Like he’s speaking right now.  In his room.  At high, high volume.

Poor, tantrum-throwing kid.  His efforts are backfiring, even as he puts extra umph into his bossy accusations.  I know I should just be super, duper, extra irritated that he’s yelling his little heart out.  I think that’s part of the point of all the yelling.

I mean, don’t misunderstand.  His Majestic Attitudeness doesn’t thrill me at this exact moment.  I feel a discernible bloom of irritation in my gut, just under my breast bone, rippling in spirals through the rest of my torso.  (Is that unusual?)

But, oh, Child.  The speech.

The speaking.  The talking.  The verbal expressing.

If someone would’ve told me 7 years ago that my Ian would be having a timeout in his room yelling, “My mom is SO BOSSY!  Ahhh!  My mom is SO BOSSY!  Why?  Oh, why?!  WHY is my mom SO BOSSY?”… I would’ve kissed them out of gratitude for the hope.

Big or small — major or minor — adjustments are hard.

Sometimes, my kids need attitude adjustments to remember that their mama is worthy of respect and kindness.

Sometimes, their mama needs an attitude adjustment to remember to live into gratitude.

The Beach Rocks

Mar 28 2011

Single parenting, days 8-10.

The final days.

The finale, if you will.

What’s a mom to do to cap off all this excitement?  (“All this excitement” referring specifically to cows.  There hasn’t really been much other excitement, but, around here, cows are usually enough to hold us for a long while.)

Why, I added a 4th kid and took ’em all to the beach, of course.

‘Cuz the beach rocks!

The beach rocks:

So tropical.

(Not at all.)

So warm.

(Not even a smidgen.)

Sun, surf and sand!

Right, guys?

Ignore the skeptical look on the short one’s face.  He’s still not sure how he got stuck with us for the weekend.

I kept telling him how lucky he was.  A whole weekend at the beach with his cousins!

He didn’t really buy it, but that didn’t keep me from insisting it was true.

Now, Aden on the other hand…

Aden agreed with me.

Aden though the beach was awesome despite the fact that the cuffs of her white coat were the kind of brownish-yellow that makes a mama want to bow her head in shame.

(Aside:  Why did I buy Aden a white coat?  What was I thinking?  What in my bevy of experience with children made me go, “A white coat!  Perfect!”?  Someone please check my brain for leakage.)

Aden also thought the beach was awesome despite the fact that she wore her Tinkerbell PJ pants because, um, I didn’t pack her any pants.

So her one pair of pants… the pair she wore in the car to the coast… was in the washing machine while Miss Aden played  in the tide pools with Tink.

Nevertheless, Aden managed to have fun.

Well, she managed to have fun after she glared at mom for a bit.

‘Cause sometimes, a no-pants-packing mom must be punished.

But after that, the beach was awesome!

It was even more awesome for me, because I brought my friend Leanne.

Why would Leanne come to the beach with me and four little kids?

I don’t know!  But I’m so glad she’s nuts and did it anyway.

Now, Leanne actually managed to avoid the camera except for one shot I got of her butt while she was leaning over helping a kid with something.

I want to keep my friendship with Leanne, so I’m not going to put that shot in here.

Here’s the only other photo I have of Leanne:

She’s that peach speck of at the top of the photo.

See her?


Then, in the absence of any reliable photographic evidence, I offer this proof that someone exists in the world who’s crazy enough to join me and 4 kids for a relaxing, care-free coastal vacay:

  1. I brought all the kids home in one piece.

OK.  That’s all I’ve got.  But I’m sure you’ll agree that I couldn’t have accomplished that by myself.  Therefore, Leanne exists.  She’s my friend.  She’s nuts.  And, like the beach, she rocks.

Among other memory builders like breaking up fights and visiting the post office (doesn’t everyone spend vacation time finding the post office?), we went to the aquarium.

We saw fish!

We saw jellyfish.

We posed enthusiastically for photos with mama.

(Now there’s a kid who wanted his picture taken.)

We saw super cool art made out of ocean trash.

Yep.  That’s a fish made out of ocean trash.

I’m pretty sure its purpose is to make me feel horrified at all the garbage in the ocean.  I mean, I’m not happy about that on principle, but this fish made me go, “Wow!  Cool!  A fish made out of trash!  I wonder what the artist could do with the stuff coming out of my house?”

Pull-ups, mac and cheese boxes, and bread crusts.  What can you do with those?  If anyone wants to find out, let me know.  I’ll be your supplier.

Turns out, Mr. Cael was as inspired as me.

When we finally made it down the long and winding path to the kids’ play area…

… and while sleepy Cai took a little rest on the bigger-than-life aquatic animals…

…or under them, as the case may be…

…Mr. Cael perfected his own art medium.


The other parents at the play area were extremely impressed with Cael’s gravel angel.

I could tell by the way they kept saying to their kids, “No, you can not lay there in the dirt.”  And, “No, just because that little boy is doing it and his mommy is taking pictures does not mean it’s cute.”

Well, maybe they didn’t say those exact words, but the rolling of the eyes and the hushed whispers at their kids were fairly telling.

Just think.  When gravel angels become all the rage, you can remember that you saw it here first.

And you’ll never, ever wonder again how my kids’ jackets become so incredibly filthy.  Asked and answered.  That’s why I’m here.

Caffeine: Strong, Dark, and Yes, Please

Mar 24 2011

Today is Day 8 of Single Parenting.

And today is the day I’m doubling my daily caffeine intake.

Ah, caffeine.

I love you, caffeine.

Several years ago, I cut caffeine out of my diet entirely.  I felt so self-righteous.

“Do you want some coffee, Beth?”

“No, thank you.  I don’t drink caffeine.  It’s poison, you know.”

I don’t really know if caffeine is poison.  I just felt much more self-righteous  saying that as if it’s so.

“Beth, are you eating chocolate?”

“Of course I am.”

“Did you know chocolate has caffeine in it?”

“I choose not to believe that.”  Always practical, that’s me.  Facts?  Who needs ’em?  No one likes a chocolate alarmist.

I quit caffeine one day while pouring myself a cup of coffee.  The sunlight was streaming through the window in one of those perfect ribbons that cuts through the dust particles and makes you think that the light has split itself into tiny, bright, glittering chunks of luminescence.  As the light hit the coffee on its way from the carafe to my cup, it shone like liquid gold.

I whispered to my coffee, “You’re so pretty.”

My own personal Gollum moment.  Precious.

You know how people say they can quit any time?  Yeah, well, I decided I’d better see if I really could.

I could.

I did.

No caffeine for me for 6 years.  Yay, me!

Then I had twins.

And I haven’t quit drinking caffeine ever since.

So, despite the fact that I’m doubling my caffeine intake for today (just today — yeah, right), I’m not worried.  I haven’t once, all week long, talked aloud to my coffee.

Maybe once or twice in my head.

Maybe I thought she looked particularly sassy and darkly delicious sitting in my cup.

Maybe I sighed as she warmed my hands.

Maybe I winked to her.

But I didn’t talk out loud.

No, sirree.

This girl has boundaries when it comes to talking to inanimate objects.  (Please ignore the post where I talked to my pneumonia meds.  Thank you.)

Why all the caffeine today?

Because a) I’m tired, and b) I planned to0 much.

Sure, the cures for regular people are to a) sleep more, and b) slow down.

Silly, silly regular people.

As for me and my kids, we’re headed to the beach.

Come on.  We only have 2 more sleeps ’til the whole family is back together.  We have to live it up!

More soon.  Hopefully from somewhere wet, cold, overcast, and sandy.  Now, if that doesn’t sound like fun, I don’t know what does!

Pre. Tend.

Mar 23 2011

Aden, playing the mommy in a game with Cai and Cael:  You ALWAYS have to be nice to the Mommy!  That’s the rule.

Me:  Really?  That’s the rule?  Wow!  I love that rule!

Aden:  No, Mom.  It’s just a game.  It’s not real.  It’s called Pre. Tend.


Listening Ears

Mar 22 2011

My girlfriend Leanne watches my kids when I work.

The problem with Leanne is that I like her.  When I pick my kids up, I talk to her.  So then I’m late to stuff.

See how that’s Leanne’s fault?

Yesterday, Leanne’s likability meant I buckled Aden, Cai and Cael into my car at 4:23pm.

The vet, where our dog was waiting to be picked up, closed at 5:00pm.

The post office, where I needed to mail a package that had to go out that day, closed at 5:00pm.

And, of course, I had to drive home with the dog to drop him off before going to the post office because my dog is a Houdini-level escape artist.  If I’d taken him to the post office, a well-meaning but slow-moving child would’ve inevitably let the dog escape from the car, whereupon we all would’ve witnessed the dramatic and horrifying death of the dog in the middle of street when he was crushed by oncoming traffic.  It would’ve been an excellent lesson in staying out of the street, but not an altar on which I’d willingly sacrifice either the dog or my children’s hearts.

Why not go to the post office first?

Because I honestly didn’t know if I’d have time for both errands, and not picking up the dog meant boarding him another night.  Not an altar on which I’d willingly sacrifice my checkbook.

37 minutes… aaannndddd… GO!

Me, urgently: OK, kids, we have 37 minutes to pick up Chip, drop him off at home and mail a package at the post office!


Me: Did you hear me?


Me:  Hey.  Guys.  I need some listeners here.

Insert long lecture about limited time, listening kids, cooperation, and cookies.  Cookies being the bribe for the listening kids.

I’m not proud of the cookie part.  Just FYI.

Me:  Got it?

Kids:  Got it!

Me:  Do I have listeners?

Kids:  Yes!

Me, making sure:  So.  What do we do with our ears?

Cai:  Keep them to ourselves!

Me:  Well, that’s great guess, but that’s what we do with our hands and feet.  We keep hands and feet to ourselves.  Anyone else? What do we do with our ears?

Cael:  Don’t touch them!

Me:  Um… it’s actually just fine to touch ears.  But you should probably just touch your own ears.  That’s a good idea.  You wouldn’t want to be bugging someone else by touching their ears.  So that’s another good guess.  How about you, Aden?  Do you know what we do with our ears?

Aden:  Yes!  It’s OK to touch our own ears.  But we should only do that alone in our bedroom or in the bathroom.

Me:  Hmmm.  Well, that actually applies to other body parts.

Kids: excitedly list exactly which body parts to which that rule applies

Me, interrupting:  OK, guys!  Great guesses, but I’ll just give you this one.  I was thinking we could listen with our ears.  What do you say?  Can we listen?


Me:  Guys?


I want it noted that I tried.

I really, really tried.

So it turns out it’s a good thing I had cookies, or we might have accomplished nothing.

As I type, my package is zooming toward its destination, Chip is safe at home (unless he escaped again, which is likely), and the cookies are a distant memory except where I carry them on my thighs.

Who needs listening ears anyway?  Overrated.

Tonight’s errand?  The store.

For more cookies.