Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stomping & Romping

Do you remember Romper Room? It was a children’s television show when I was a kid. I watched it often and what I remember most about it was the sweet-voiced hostess who closed (and/or opened, I can’t exactly recall) the show by looking through a small open “mirror” to “see” the children who were watching. “I see Joey and Amber and Mikey. Oh look! There’s Tracy and Robert and Millie,” she’d exclaim.

And we believed her, her young viewers. We believed that she did see us watching. Except that she never saw me. Not once did she call out that she saw Lara. I listened carefully every time to hear my name, sure that this would be the time that she finally saw past all the other children and managed to see me. But it never happened. I was un-seeable, unnoticeable. I’m sure it scarred me for life. In fact, I blame all my insecurities on the Romper Room lady’s broken mirror thing.

I don’t know what ever became of that program – how many years it ran or how successful it was. But it did have one marketing success: Romper Stompers. These were a pair of plastic yellow “cups” with long flexible green tubes attached so that you could hold on and walk around on them. They were the commercialized version of tin cans with strings that my mom’s generation would have played with.

Romper Stompers were cool. They lifted you up a few inchers taller and made a clomping sound when you walked around on the linoleum floor or the sidewalk. But they never worked well on carpet. I know. I have a pair.

My children and their friends had a blast clomping down the road of our campground this weekend on those same Romper Stompers. They’re even cooler toys now because nobody else has them. They wouldn’t pass current safety tests (too much chance for slipping and falling or choking on the tube ties). But they still make you taller and allow you to make loud stomping noises.

And you know what? I’m sure if the Romper Room lady were still around, she’d find a way to see Little Miss History, Timid Daughter and the Uber-Princess. I’d make sure of it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On Behalf of Overly Pregnant Women

Warning: I am about to rant here. I try not to do that often in this forum, but there are cases where I feel it's warranted. This is one.

If you are pregnant and have not yet reached full term (and not the fakey, "you could go any day" full term, we're talking 39 or 40 weeks pregnant), unless you are of advanced maternal age or have a high-risk pregnancy or are expecting multiples - do not act like it is owed to you to have your baby as soon as possible. And do not complain about how hard it is and how big you feel. We all feel that way during the last few weeks.

But no one feels that way more than the woman who is 41 weeks pregnant. How dare you claim that you have a right to what she hasn't gotten. She deserves the sympathy for how long she has to wait. Not you!

And to the woman who demands that her doctor induce her ASAP even though she's not even at 39 weeks (I've sat next to her in the OB office before) I say, "shame on you! Get a spine - if you're about to become a mother for the first time, you're gonna need it."

Honestly, I am only this angry because of the affront to women who really have to tough it out and who do so with dignity and in silence. I have been that woman - three times (okay, maybe not the dignity part, and I'm not so sure about the silence, but still). My first child was born a full week past the due date and weighed in at 8 pounds 12 oz (mind you, I am a smaller person - 5'5" and 115 lbs. before that pregnancy). Only once I hit my due date did I start talking about getting induced. And even during pregnancies 2 & 3 I waited to be induced until my due date had passed by at least several days, if not a week. I never took it as my right to have that baby sooner.

As for people asking about your pregnancy - they're concerned. They see how tough it is on you and want to be an encouragement. Or else they're just excited for you. So get over yourself! Until your due date passes and people start asking, "You're still here?" as they gaze at your exploding belly, you are insulting every woman who has ever endured what you're going through with your expectations to be treated any different.

'Nuf said.

Inbox ballooning to 73 messages

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Butterflies and Growing Girls

I'm beat! I sit here in my big chair with my feet up, longing for a neck message and maybe a hot cup of tea to go with it. I've worked hard today on one of my favorite kind of projects: a transformation. We are painting the bedroom that two of our girls share (on a rotating basis - the Uber-Princess is on her way out and Timid Daughter is joining Little Miss History). The older two had decided it was time to do away with the sweet pink walls dotted with purple butterflies and fushia flowers. They are ready for a "bigger girl room". They're ready. Me? Not so much.

Amusing Dad & I painted the first coat this afternoon. It's a deep teal color "Tropical Tide". The girls decided on that for the base color and we'll add "Victorian Purple" dots later. Each stroke of the brush brought us further from little girl room and more committed to "big girldom". Each butterfly I covered in teal sent tingles down my spine. When I reached the final few feet of pink, Timid Daughter & the Uber-Princess helped roll a bit and then stood back and watched me finish.

"There goes the last butterfly," remarked Timid Daughter.

The last one indeed. Like butterflies that flit in ever-widening circles away from my garden are my daughters. This summer we've given little bits of freedom to LMH, like riding her bike to the pool with a friend (and without us). I sigh as she goes, say a brief prayer and return to my housework. Timid Daughter wants to follow as soon as she can.

The transformation from little girl pink to big girl teal" Tropical Tide" just confirms what is already at work. They are growing quickly.

Which makes me anxious to move on to decorating the room the Uber-Princess will occupy next. She's asking for - get this - princesses on her walls. Who'da thunk?!

And so we'll still have one "little girl" room. For now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Works for Me: Summer Chore Jar

Right now as I type, my children are happily setting about getting their morning chores done. Did you get that? They're happily doing their chores. In fact, breakfast is rarely over before they start asking about the special chore for the day.

How do I do it? A "chore jar". Each week I make a bunch of slips of paper containing the chores that I want my children to get done for the week. I usually use flylady's zone for the week as a starting place and often follow her suggested zone chores (if you haven't checked flylady out, she has a great method for simplifying the job of housekeeping). I put in enough chores for each child to do one a day, minus one day off (so with 3 children times 4 days, I usually come up with 12 tasks). Every week I also put in a slip that says "bye" - meaning no chores for the day. If one child draws that slip, all the rest of the slips go back (except for the "bye") and we take the morning off.

So here's how it works: each child draws a chore. I keep them simple like "wipe the baseboards and door frame", "dust the fan blades", "clean the bathroom sink". And with using one zone/room for the week, a lot of those putzy spring-cleaning type chores get done. They're allowed to trade if they want (rarely) and they get one "do-over" for the week if they really, really don't like the task they drew.

And that's all it takes to get some happy workers. I think it's a combination of the element of surprise and the simple tasks that make it work. They know once they've done their regular morning routine (get dressed, make bed, collect laundry, etc.) and completed the chore for the day that they are pretty much free from work. And me? I make myself available to assist on the daily chores, but usually I also manage to get in one or two cleaning tasks too before calling it a day on house cleaning.

It works for me and it might work for you too. For more Works for Me Wednesday tips check out the list over here.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Making Iced Tea & Making Do

My iced tea machine broke today. My new one, that I got for Christmas last year. It's July. I live in Chicagoland. And I need my iced tea.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure I sometimes made iced tea before I got the fancy machine. Sometimes. But I can't remember how I did it. It certainly couldn't have been as simple or as fast.

I started thinking, 'I sure was looking forward to that iced tea this afternoon. And there are people coming over tonight and those people deserve iced tea, if they so want some. But my machine just up and broke.'

Then I thought something else: I thought of the robin I saw this morning. He startled me as I stepped around the corner of our house to collect a bag of yard waste to put by the street. I was picking up the bag when I heard a splashing sound behind me. There, in a small amount of water that had pooled in the depressed lid of an old plastic trash can, was this male robin, rolling his roly-poly belly all around in that water.

I watched him for a few moments. He had no modesty, this little bird. He cared not at all that some lady was watching him. Nor did he care that he wasn't washing in a proper bird bath. He was making do with my rain-filled trash can lid.

Like that robin, I'm making do. I unplugged the broken machine, started the flame under my tea kettle and set some water to boiling. Once it was hot, I poured it over the tea bags in my fancy brewing pitcher. And I made iced tea. It didn't come as simple or fast, but it's made. And with a whole bunch of sugar added, it will be some good sweet tea for me and my company.

Inbox is at 35 - I'm going backwards!

Monday, July 06, 2009


I'm on my own for the next three days. The kids are off for some fun with their second cousins out at Grandma & Grandpa's Lake House. Amusing Dad is mostly at work. So it's just me. Solo. Alone.

This fact was not lost on the Uber-Princess. As we were driving to their grandparents' local residence to drop them off for their trip, she suggested a puppy.

"You know, Mom," she explained. "Once I go to first grade you're going to be alone every day. You might get lonely. You need a puppy to keep you company."

No matter that first grade for her is still a year away. She was thinking ahead. And she was thinking of how I'll feel with her gone all day. It worried her. Need I say that this speaks volumes about the Uber-Princess herself? She is a social butterfly. The concept of being alone all day would be torturous to her. And of course, she wouldn't wish that on anyone.

I'm not getting a puppy any time soon. Being alone does not bother me. In fact, I sometimes rather like it. Like today. I did wake up early enough to see Amusing Dad and wish him a good day. But since then I haven't seen or spoken to another soul. And it's been grand!

There is more room for my thoughts in this empty house of mine. And space to relax. I've done some straightening in different rooms with the glad thought that they'll still be that way tonight...and tomorrow... and even for a while the next day. And I'm disciplining myself to hack away on some writing and speaking projects that would otherwise progress in only fits and starts with the children around.

Here's another odd thing, I'm listening a little more to my own voice. Not my spoken voice - I haven't heard it since I talked to Amusing Dad this morning (and I couldn't hear it when I was singing while out on an early morning bike ride because my headphones blocked it out). I'm listening to my internal voice, the voice of my thoughts. In writing, the big hairy objective that most new writers fail to achieve is finding their "voice", that is, getting the voice in their brain down onto paper. I'm wondering if I've found it. But it means getting time and space to listen. So that's what I'm doing today.

And my inbox is down to 20!