Friday, December 28, 2007

Clean Sweep

I got a Roomba for Christmas and I am in love. Today I did some writing, painted my nails and cooked some dinner, all while my new love was cleaning the floors. It cleaned my kitchen, living room, hallway and kid's rooms effectively and quietly while my kids screeched with delight as they ran from "the robot."

Let's take a closer look at the Roomba: It cleans without complaining or taking shortcuts. It entertains my kids better than a circus clown and it makes cute little noises when it is done cleaning. Why did I get married again?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Much-Anticipated Hale Family Christmas Letter

Here it is folks. The competition was fierce this year and I lost the Christmas letter contest to my friend, Jacquelyn. Her letter was done in Microsoft Publisher and was witty and graphic-y and professional looking, everything my lowly, single-sheeted letter was not. Sometimes it sucks to have talented friends. Here's your gold-star Jacquelyn:



2007 has been a great year for the Hale family. Our son, T-Mackeral, got accepted into MENSA, the youngest member in history; and our daughter, T-Minnow, won several national beauty pageant titles. Sean won the lottery and now owns a Prius (Yee-haw!) and Julianne is a regular contributor to "O" magazine.

Wait, sorry, that's the dream life (except for the pageant thing. I just thought it was funny). Let's stick with the meaningful tradition that I started last year: the brutally honest Christmas letter. Here goes…


T-Minnow turned two in May. She is a beautiful child and could probably win pageants if that was something that both her parents did not have major ethical problems with (and if T-Minnow would stop picking her nose).  T-Minnow's major accomplishment this year was becoming "toilet learned" (that's the new PC term for potty training—I don't want to offend anyone) and expanding her vocabulary. Our favorite word that she says is, "Otay," Buckwheat style. We can't get enough of that.


T-Mackeral turned five in November.  He's getting pretty close to outwitting his Mom and Dad and could not be more ready for Kindergarten. He's a little bored in preschool but loves it none-the-less. T-Mackeral's most impressive talent was handed down to him from his late, great Great-Grandpa Mortimer who could touch his nose with his tongue. T-Mackeral takes it one step further and can actually put his tongue inside his nostril. This will no-doubt take him far in life. Julianne fully intends to send David Letterman a video and get him some exposure for his "stupid human trick."


Sean got transferred this year from the Chattanooga office to the Cleveland office and, although it was a lateral move, he has a larger staff and is closer to home. His piece of junk car is still running but has some serious malfunctions, including a faulty heater and no defrost. He has asked for a window scraper for Christmas as if that is some sort of luxury item. How sad is that? Sean continues his slow progression towards Grandpa-dom with his many projects in his workshop and homespun gardening ideas.  T-Mackeral is a carbon-copy of his Father, which, although she'll never admit it, Julianne relishes.


Julianne has had a pretty good year. Her New Year's Resolution to get published actually came true several times over. She now writes regularly for a couple of regional magazines. At 32 years old, this is the first time that Julianne has ever made good on a New Year's Resolution. This new career of hers does impact the family and causes her to, at times, under tight deadlines, neglect her children. They all survive, though, and Julianne continues to embarrass the family by documenting their daily lives on her blog (shameless plug) but they love her anyway. Thank goodness the children can't read!


The Hales had some great travels this year thanks to cousin Janet (thank you Disney Discount!) and Grandma and Grandpa Mortimer. We went to the Bahamas (just the grown-ups), Disney World and Destin, Florida. Even under the microscope of brutal honesty, we really do have a great family and a blessed life. We are so thankful for all of our friends and family. Happy Holidays to you and yours!



Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bah Stomach Bug

I've been a blogging slacker this week. The holidays are stressing me out and my son and I were both hit with a case of the stomach bug yesterday. Yuck! I'm in recovery, still trying to wake up from the  phenergan, seriously. I took a 1/2 dose yesterday evening and am still fighting the urge to doze off (it's 2:00pm!). I don't know how people take full doses of that stuff.

I'm signing back in to prove that I haven't fallen off the face of the blogosphere and to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a vomit-free new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Baby Daddy

Just when you thought your small Tennessee town couldn't get any lamer, you get news that knocks your socks off. News that could change the face of your sleepy, little town. News that could bring the Jamielyn
Paparazzi. That's right, folks, Jamie Lynn Spears (Brit's 16-year-old sister) is knocked up. What does this have to do with Cleveland, Tennessee you ask? Well, it turns out that the Baby Daddy works at a paper mill here in town.

Why does this please me so? I guess the prospect of seeing my little town on the pages of In Touch Weekly excites me more than I care to admit. I can just see the new welcome signs on the edges of town:

Welcome to Cleveland, Tennessee: Home of Britney Spear's sister's Baby Daddy.

The tourism industry is bound to explode.

***CORRECTION: My friend Alyson has informed me that The Baby Daddy's Father lives in Cleveland, TN; not the Baby Daddy himself. Bummer. I guess the sign would actually read:

Welcome to Cleveland, Tennessee: Home of Britney Spear's sister's Baby Daddy's Daddy.

Not quite as good, but I'll take it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Shortage of Holiday Postal Cheer

Too all of my friends and family:

I ordered about 15 too few Christmas cards this year and, as such, will not be able to send them to EVERYONE on my list. I apologize.

I'm going to post my Christmas Letter on the blog one day next week and send you all cyber-wishes.

As Virtual Tiny Tim said, Cyber-bless us. Cyber-bless us everyone.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bring on the Snow

I couldn't fall asleep last night because I was feeling leftover guilt about our solo East Tennessee snowfall last winter. The kids and I got one fleeting chance to play in the snow and I missed it for all of us. This happened nearly a year ago and I am still torturing myself. Perhaps it is because my son reminds me of the incident on a fairly regular basis, "Mommy. Remember when it snowed that time and you took us outside too late and the snow had already melted?" I REMEMBER! It went something like this:

East Tennessee received a dusting (and I do mean dusting) of snow during the night. Most moms realized the immediacy of the situation and got their kids up at the crack of dawn to play in it. Not me. I spent a good chunk of my teenage/young adult years in Central Illinois where snow tends to stay on the ground for days and weeks at a time. I rolled out of bed, did my morning cleaning, took my shower, took my time. Big mistake. By the time we walked out the door at 7:50, the snow was all but gone. My son collapsed immediately into a ball of disappointment. My daughter stood staring at him, wondering what the heck was going on and why she was in that ridiculous get-up. I felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart with a santoku knife. Did I really just miss the first chance my kids had to make a snowman? Did I really miss the snow angels? The snowball fights? The wet socks? The sledding? The photo-ops? My son was crushed. CRUSHED. And it was truly my fault. I could attribute this incident, 100%, to my laziness. I sit here, at the keyboard, hanging my head in shame.

There is a slight chance for snow this weekend in East Tennessee.  Bring it on! I will set my alarm for 5:00am, get my kids dressed and coated and enjoy the snow until the sun comes up and melts it away. Bring on the snow Jack Frost! I've got some penance to pay!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I read this article in Brain, Child magazine and it really caught me off guard. Did you know that in some Eastern African cultures, a high percentage of infants are diaper-free by 4-6 months of age? Did you also know that there is a Diaper-free movement right here in the good ol' USA? I didn't. I had heard of EC (Elimination Communication) during my cloth diaper-makin' days from some of those crazy diapering Mamas on the message boards (No offense ladies but you guys can get a little nutty about cloth diapers!) but I dismissed it as completely absurd. The prospect of potty-training an infant seems ridiculous. I'm still wearing a big gold star on my lapel for toilet learning my baby girl at age 2. Go me!

My daughter (and her non-diaper-free Mother) would be behind the curve in the EC circles. Those mamas would take one look at my gold star, roll their eyes and laugh at me, "Two years old?" they would say,  "Try two months old! What kind of Mother waits until her child is two years old to take off the diapers?!" According to a spokeswoman for, there are 37 U.S. states that offer organized Diaper Free Baby support groups. Surprise! Tennessee is NOT one of them. We're still sitting on our back porches in our rockin' chairs, chewing on weeds and watchin' our babies run around in the grass in landfill-bound diapers that we purchased at Wal-Mart. We listen in awe to the stories about babies who learn to use the potty before they reach their second birthday. We consider that these children might be prodigies, headed off to some Ivy League college on a potty-trainin' scholarship.

What about those Elimination Communication babies who are toilet-learned by 4 months of age? Well, I just don't know what to think about them. Who knows? Maybe I'd be a believer if I actually met a Mom who'd used this practice successfully but I haven't. I've read a couple testimonials and frankly, it seems like entirely too much effort to save yourself and your baby a year or two of diaper duty.

Monday, December 10, 2007

He Likes It! He Really Likes It! Wait… No, Maybe Not

I was forced to be creative with my dinner tonight. I usually work with a plan when it comes to dinner. I know what I'm going to have and I have all of the ingredients for each dish. I lost track of time today. It got late and I ended up with nothing defrosted. I had to improvise. I combined all of Nuggets
my shredded cheeses together, cut up some onions and peppers and combined them with hashbrowns for some surprisingly delicious hashbrown casserole. I defrosted some chicken and made chicken nuggets and I steamed some broccoli. I thought to myself, "Damn. You're a great Mom. You threw together a delicious, kid-friendly meal in no time flat. You go girl!"

Here's the exact response I got from my son after he finished his first bite:

When I first put it in my mouth I liked it just a little bit but when I started doing this (makes dramatic chewing motions with his teeth), it started to taste bad. The taste just got worse and worse until I swallowed it. When I eat the next bite, I'm going to try to take a small one so I don't have to chew much.

It's good to be appreciated.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Manger Mayhem

In an effort to reinforce the true meaning of Christmas, my
mother purchased a Playmobil nativity set for my children. It’s really cute
and, in the grand tradition of Playmobil, has about 10,000 teeny tiny parts. My
son has a grand imagination and can play with Playmobil sets for hours at a
time. He makes lots of loud crashing noises and explosion sounds and small plastic
men are often seen flying through the air in my living room. Unfortunately, the
nativity is no exception.

My son has a tendency to keep toys made by the same toy
manufacturer together so he automatically paired the nativity up with the
Playmobil pirate ship and castle. The Baby Jesus has been on a wild ride in
recent days. He’s been attacked by rabid sheep, smuggled aboard a pirate ship
and forced to defend himself with against an angry Angel with a knight’s sword.
Mary and Joseph, tired from their trek to Bethlehem, are weary time travelers
in the Hale house, going from the stable to the middle-ages at warp speed. They’ve
been kidnapped by pirates, lost at sea on a life raft and ridden on camels over
a castle’s drawbridge.  I’ll spare you
the plight of the poor shepherds and wise men. Suffice it to say, they never
saw my son and his arsenal of weaponry coming.

I’ve read the Christmas story to my kids a couple of times
this year and have done my best to explain to my son that the story of the
Nativity is to be treated with a certain amount of reverence. I piece the scene
back together each night, moving the Baby Jesus from the basket on the upper
part of the pirate ship mast to his rightful place atop the pile of hay in the
manger. I put Mary and Joseph back by Jesus’s side and strategically place all
of the other major players in the Christmas story in and around the cardboard
Playmobil backdrop. It’s a tedious task but I do it, day after day, because I
feel like I should. I have always taken a great deal of pride and pleasure in
my son’s vivid imagination and I can’t help but chuckle when I watch him create
scenarios for the folks in Bethlehem, “But the Baby Jesus likes it Mommy.” Who
could argue with that?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Quick Quiz

How many pounds of candy would you expect to receive at a small town Christmas parade?

Perhaps you think even one pound is a ridiculous estimate.

What if said town was home to an M&M Mars plant? Would that change your answer? Maybe not, but it would probably change the quality of the candy.

My children came home with two plastic grocery bags full of candy. Good candy. We're not talking candy canes and Bit O' Honey's here. We're talking Twix bars, M&M mini bags, Smarties, Skittles and Starburst. The bags were so heavy and full that my husband decided to weigh them. He hopped on the scale holding the bags and then jumped on bag-free. The difference? Eight pounds. Eight pounds of high-fructose corn syrup delight. Eight pounds of preschool crack. Eight pounds of, well, pounds on the hips and guts of my growing family. My kids think its Halloween again, only all they did was sit on the side of the road with cow-eyed looks and open grocery bags.

The parade may have encouraged sugar-induced comas and tooth decay but all was not lost. One of the last floats was sponsored by a local gym. Floating atop the sea of candy, just below the handles of the grocery bag, were several 14-day gym passes. I won't tell you where those ended up.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Creative Ways to Downsize the Holidays

An article I wrote was published in the e-zine Simple Joy. Check it out:

Friday, November 30, 2007

World's Worst Poet

I've never claimed to be a poet. Nor will I ever. I suck. Sure, I wrote my share of melodramatic prose back in high school and college, including the perennial classic, A Corningware Casserole Dish with a Pimp. I wish like hell I was kidding. But they all stunk. My creative writing professors raved about my fiction but were less enthusiastic at my attempts at the written verse. I just don't have the poetry gene. I can rhyme but it is always a stretch and my attempts at poetry that doesn't rhyme typically end up sounding like the coffeehouse musings of a goth-clad eighth grader.

It is with great humility that I present to you my Christmas poem. I'm doing my darndest to institute some Hale Family traditions this year and this poem is one of them.  It will be accompanied by a package containing an adorable stuffed gingerbread man. Both of my children will receive this instant classic (I'm pretty sure you'll be reading it to your kids on Christmas Eve along with Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Christmas Story) along with their Gingerbread Men on the last day of November. Here goes:

I am your first Christmas gift
Sent here by santa claus
I was delivered by his elves

To keep an eye on you

Santa wants to make sure
you’re nice
And that you always do what’s
I’ll send Him regular updates

About your behavior, day
and night

Please put me to sleep in
your stocking each night
And in the morning when you’ve
You’ll find me hidden
somewhere in your house
With an envelope you’ll need
to open

The note will tell you what
task awaits
You And your family
You must do it together
until it’s complete
So santa can watch with

He’ll use  me to keep tabs on you
And youR sister as well
As long as you’re good and
complete your tasks
Christmas morning will be

So Please Take care of me
I’m santa’s number one guy
And return me to santa on
Christmas eve

And back to the North Pole
I’ll Fly.

Each day, I'll hide the Gingerbread Men in some part of the house with a note attached that gives a simple task that the family has to do together:

  • Make a gingerbread house (OK--not so simple)

  • Go to the parade

  • Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas

  • Make cookies

You get the idea.  It's not the most  genius or innovative idea I've ever had but I think it will make for a nice little  tradition and one that  includes forced family time. Feel free to steal it, along with my poem. You better do it fast, though, I'm bound to get publishing offers out of this as soon as this phenomenon of a holiday poem is released to the public!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Imitation Manure

My friend Jacquelyn is getting her daughter a horse stable set for Christmas. We were IM-ing tonight and comparing stable possibilities when we came across this. Check out the "product features." If you think your kid doesn't need one of these, you're dead wrong! Every kid in America needs to learn how to shovel imitation manure.


We're back from our Thanksgiving trip to Central Illinois. We got back on Monday night and are childless until Friday evening. Living my day to day life in the absence of my children certainly has it's advantages. Here's some I've noticed in the last 48 hours:

  • The toy fairies seem to have moved out. I tidy up the house in the evening and it is still clean in the morning. I don't have to step over a matchbox car, two lone socks and a Lego to get to the kitchen. I just walk there on a clean floor. Freakin' miracle.

  • The process of getting out the door is simple. I put on MY coat, get in MY seat, buckle MY seatbelt and go. I listen to MY music and drive in peace.

  • Grocery stores with no kids? A breeze. I even got to stop and take 5 minutes to pick out the perfect nail polish. It was mundane perfection.

  • Meals? Peaceful. Quiet. Lonely.

  • Bedtimes? Peaceful. Quiet. Lonely.

  • Silence? Deafening. I miss my kids.

I think breaks like this are wonderful and maybe even essential. I am well-rested, refreshed and ready for the chaos of the holidays.  I plan on savoring the next 48 hours but I look forward to the mess, the noise and the glorious  disorder that is my house when it is bulging at the seams with the presence of my entire family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Half a Decade

I have to take a moment to wish my first born a happy 5th birthday today.  He rolled into our lives like a hurricane five years ago and we haven't recovered yet. He's full of energy, imagination and contagious happiness and I cannot imagine my life without him.

Happy 5th Birthday Bubba! May your life be filled with love, happiness and limitless possibilities.

Much love,

Your proud Mama

Gobble Gobble Gobble

A turkey is a funny bird.
It's head goes bobble, bobble, bobble.
But all he knows is just one word
That's gobble, gobble, gobble.

This is the poem my son's preschool class recited while in their pilgrim and native American garb at school yesterday. It was adorable and I'm proud to report that my son sang and did the hand motions with no reservations. I don't think I ever have to worry about stage fright with him.

We're off tomorrow morning for Illinois. We're spending Thanksgiving with Sean's family so I am looking forward to gathering some priceless material from the In-laws. Happy Holidays!

Temporary Insanity

I used to think the temporary insanity plea was bogus. I didn't think it was possible for a completely rational human being to lose all reason and touch with reality in an instant. I have changed my tune.

During the wee hours of Thursday morning (and I do mean wee: 1:30 am to be precise), I awoke with a jolt to the sound of my daughter's labored breathing. I leapt to my feet and ran downstairs. I found her sitting up in bed struggling for air. She was whimpering softly in a heartbreaking attempt at crying. This is where the sane switch was turned off in my brain. I freaked. Faced with the prospect of my daughter's impending death, I went ape-shit (sorry-I could not think of a better description of my state of mind). I screamed for Sean to come downstairs. He did, and in a sleepy haze, he attempted to comfort me. Big mistake. I bit his head off, chewed on it for a while and spit it back out. I was furious. How could I possibly remain calm? Couldn't he see that my daughter was struggling to breathe?

I ran upstairs, daughter still in my arms. I threw on some pants and some shoes and raced to the door. I couldn't go alone because I had fallen asleep with the aid of Ambien and could not be trusted behind the wheel. I waited for my casual, relaxed husband to tuck in his shirt and rouse my son slowly out of bed. I felt like he was moving at a snail's pace and it infuriated me. I have no idea what words came out of my mouth during the time that I waited for my husband to get his Zen butt out the door but I'm certain that they were not the words of a rational human being. I lost my mind. I was temporarily insane. No doubt about it.

My daughter had croup. Go ahead Moms, nod your heads in collective unison. Of course it was croup. If I had one iota of rational thought left in my brain during the time when my daughter was struggling to breathe, I would have considered this possibility and taken her outside for some cool air. I might have even noticed when her breathing improved in the short distance from the front door to the van. Like I said, I was temporarily insane. If I had committed a felony during that time, I would be in court right now trying to convince the judge/jury that I lost my mind for about 5 minutes on Thursday night. It's true. And it is a disturbing reality. My husband and I are left to wonder: What will happen during an actual crisis?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Hugh Heffner


Our little east Tennessee town has a mall. I use the term "mall" loosely as it has neither a GAP nor a Spencers. We used to have a Spencers but it went out of business. That coupled with the fact that Kmart serves as one of the anchor stores may clue you in on the quality of our shopping center. I was listening to the radio this morning and heard that Santa was arriving at the mall this evening. It was slated to be a big event: Santa would arrive in a horse-drawn carriage and a Christmas dance recital would Rudolph
follow shortly afterwards in the food court. I was optimistic. It sounded fun. And it probably won't be crowded since this is the first I'd heard of it (this is the kind of ego-centric world I live in—If I haven't heard of it, how could it possibly be crowded?).

I called a few friends. We made some plans. I told the kids. Santa? Yay! The Christmas spirit was alive in our house tonight and I was pumped. The temperatures have recently dropped, Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I'm ready to start this holiday season.

How was the event you ask? Here's some things I overheard at the so-crowded-it-made-me-sweat mall festivities.


Kid: Mommy. Look! There's Santa. Why's he so skinny?

Friend: Yeah, what's up with the anorexic Santa?


Kid: Mommy. Who is that? (points to a person in an odd looking deer suit wearing pin stripe pajamas with antlers that hung like hair in his face and a microscopic red nose)

Me: It's Rudolph. (In friend's ear): That's the jankiest Rudolph I've ever seen.


Friend: Did you see that guy with the afro in line to see Santa? Holy smokes. That's a big afro.

Me: I did. I can't stop staring at it.

Friend: It's a woman.

Me: You're right. It is a woman. Wow.

Friend: Ever heard of hair gel?


We left early, right after hitting the Super K for some toilet paper and milk. I guess having a Kmart in the mall is really a blessing in disguise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pajama Boy

What do you do when a pajama-clad kid is trying to bite your
son? I had to figure that question out quickly yesterday. I noticed the kid in
question immediately when he walked into the play area yesterday. He was wearing
a camo shirt that was clearly a pajama shirt, probably left over from the night
before. His pants were camo as well, a different print but, I’m happy to
report, not pajamas. His hair was disheveled and he looked like a force to be
reckoned with. I made a mental note of him, sensing trouble, and went back to
chatting with my friends.

About an hour and a half later I noticed an altercation between
my son and pajama boy. My son’s arms were flailing wildly and he had a look of disbelief
on his face. Pajama boy was inches away
from my son’s arm with his teeth bared, ready to strike. I ran towards my son,
screaming at him to stop fighting, hoping that my pleas would be met with obedience
and PB’s teeth would not actually break my son’s skin. I watched my son in what
felt like slow motion thinking, “I really need to get that kid in karate or tae
kwon do.”

I got to my son’s aid just in time. He was crying but very
angry and ready to pound that kid into the ground with whatever spazmatron
ninja moves he could muster. I glared at pajama boy and told him to keep his
hands and his teeth away from my child. I considered confronting his mother but
decided against it, reasoning I might
need some karate lessons to engage in a confrontation with the mother of a boy
in pajamas at 12:30 in the afternoon. I decided that my glare and harsh words
were probably enough to stave off another attack.

So it appears that I am that
mom, the one that handles confrontations with the kids instead of the Mom. It’s
much easier to intimidate someone who’s less than 3 feet tall than an actual
adult. This will all change, of course, when I earn my black belt.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Random Acts

I have always had romantic notions about random acts of kindness. I'd like to incorporate more of them into my life but it's just not American. We aren't inclined to walk up to strangers and pay them a compliment. It's not our style. We're more of a suspicious, avert your eyes kind of people. Sure, this might be a generalization but I cannot remember the last time a stranger said something kind to me just for the sake of kindness.

I was pumping gas this morning when a white pick-up truck pulled into the pump next to mine. The driver was wearing a military uniform and looked to be in his seventies. I assumed he was on his way to some type of Veterans Day event. I thought to myself, "How hard would it be to walk up to the guy and just thank him for serving our country and wish him a happy Veteran's Day?" Turns out, it was incredibly hard. I ran through every scenario in my neurotic skull: What if he's a serial killer? What if he's a Vietnam vet and goes into some sort of violent flashback when I remind him of his service (yes, I've seen a few too many war movies)? What if he's bitter about his service? Then again, he was wearing the uniform. I decided that his most likely response to my kindness would be appreciation and that I owed it to him and all the veterans out there to utter some words of gratitude. What did I have to lose?

After I finished pumping gas, I walked over to his pump and told him that I noticed his uniform and wanted to thank him for his service to our country. He smiled proudly and thanked me. I wished him a happy Veteran's Day and walked back to my van. I survived unscathed, feeling high from gratitude. It was fabulous. I'm still riding this wave of kindness. I hope it follows me (and him) for several more hours. Have you thanked a Vet today?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Aqua Dots

Holy crap! I told my Mom just yesterday that this would make a great gift for my son's birthday. I guess it still would. It would just have the unfortunate side-affect of putting my two-year-old daughter into a drug induced coma. I'm speechless.

Note to Mom: please ignore my previous Aqua Dots suggestion.

Daylight Satan’s Time

I'm seriously considering filing a civil suit against whoever started the Daylight Saving's Time tradition. I mean, really? Would it kill us to just keep the same hours all year long? My children have morphed into insomniac meltdown machines. They have been on a nap sabbatical since the first day of DST and, by 10:30 today, my son had four all-out meltdowns under his belt. It was a delightful morning.

My kids have been locked in a cycle of no sleep since Sunday morning and my parenting and, as a result, their quality of life has suffered. I am used to going to bed at 11:00 and waking up at 7:00. It works for me. This getting up at 6:00 nonsense has got to stop. Both my kids were standing two inches from my face this morning begging me for milk at 6:03 am. I walked downstairs to the refrigerator, poured them each a glass of milk and forbid them to get out of their beds until it was light outside. I did my best to remain in a semi-conscious state as I did this to maximize the potential for additional sleep. It didn't work. I watched with dread as the morning light broke outside my window and waited, clinging to the darkness, for my children to trot up the stairs.

They didn't disappoint and I knew I was in for it when my son began our first conversation of the morning with an all out tantrum. Ughhh… I wasn't ready for this. I managed to survive until mid-afternoon and then, in no uncertain terms, demanded that my children take naps. Mission accomplished! My daughter woke up three and a half hours later and my son quickly followed. I noticed that the insomniac meltdown machines that invaded my children's bodies were hanging on by a thread and I knew that we were on top of the Daylight Saving's Time hump.

Both my kids are asleep now. They went to bed at their normal time without much protest. I'm clinging to the faint hope that their sleep schedules will normalize tonight and I will not see their beautiful faces until morning has broken tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


There is a new book coming out on November 8th  by Amy Goldwasser called Red: The Next Generation of American Writers—Teenage Girls—On What Fires Up Their Lives Today. Let's be honest, the title is less than subtle and a little long but the content absolutely demands to be red. Red
I am terrified by what I might find but, for the sake of my daughter and teenage girls everywhere with something to say, I must read it.

I remember what it felt like to be a teenage girl. I remember being consumed with my social missteps and my weight and my wardrobe. I remember feeling absolute despair when my best friend stayed home from school and I had to face the day without her. We were partners in the teenage survival struggle, Heather and I. Her absence meant that I was alone and loneliness was unbearable.

Teenage girls are perhaps the most interesting creatures in the world and they are an absolute mystery unless you happen to be one of them (and even then they can be a mystery). I'm pretty sure that I would have pounced on the opportunity to publicly share my personal struggles as well as my penchants for writing as a teenager.  A sense of purpose (other than the quest to stay thin and the desperate need to piss off your parents) is something that many teenagers are severely lacking. These young writers got it and I can't wait to read what they did with it.

Bring it on teenage girls! I can take it! It might just make me a little less judgmental when I see you walking through the mall, wearing stripper-esque duds, text messaging and smacking your gum.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Brown Eyed Girls

I had a very profound moment with my daughter this morning. I had just finished getting dressed for the day and we started our walk down the stairs. It was just her and I because my son was at school. She asked me to hold her hand. This is unusual for her—she's normally quite independent. I looked at her like I always do, taking notice of how incredibly beautiful she is. I said, "Sweetie, you look beautiful this morning."

She replied, "Mommy, you look pretty too."

It was a simple exchange but it filled me with joy. I got to see myself through her beautiful brown eyes and, wouldn't you know it, I did look pretty too.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Fallout

Top Eight Signs that Halloween is Over:

  1. You had your first Tootsie Roll at 8:30 am.

  2. Your children woke up in their costume, confused because they passed out in a sugar coma last night.

  3. You keep reliving your interaction with the fifteen year old, costume-less punks who rang your doorbell, asking you to fill their pillowcases with candy. Why the hell did you give in? Next year's plan: order custom fortune cookies with the message, "You should have worn a costume" printed on the fortune slip to pass out to unsuspecting teenage punks.

  4. You start putting away money for your child's next dentist appointment.

  5. You have to resist the urge to throw the contents of the plastic pumpkins into the garbage disposal to save your growing waistline.

  6. You don't care if you never see a piece of candy corn again. Good riddance high fructose corn syrup nuggets.

  7. You hear this come out of your mouth, "Yes, you can have another piece of candy if you eat this baby carrot."

  8. You call your husband at work and accuse him of stealing all of the Snickers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Exercise Endorphins

I have weight loss fantasies on a regular basis. They usually occur while I'm at the gym, listening to 90's hip-hop music. I guess it may have something to do with the exercise endorphins that we've all read about. I have always been suspicious of these endorphins. Do they really exist? Is it all just a scam to get us to buy gym memberships and Nike athletic wear? My predominant emotion when I exercise (pre iPod) was anger along with a running dialogue in my head that screamed, "When the hell is this torture going to be over?"

God bless my iPod. It has completely changed my workout attitude. I start jamming to Heavy D & the Boyz and completely forget that I am working out. I know I look like a fool because I do a little white girl dancing on the treadmill from time to time. I can't help it. Who can listen to Toni! Tony! Tone! and NOT sway their hips?

Back to the weight loss fantasies: Apparently exercise endorphins encourage elaborate delusions of beauty and fitness. It is not uncommon for me to imagine my reunion with an old friend after my inevitable dramatic weight loss. I like to imagine what jeans I'll be wearing and what they will say to me when they see the lesser me for the first time. I indulge myself in these fantasies on a regular basis and I usually look like a Barbie doll, complete with perky breasts, a tiny waist and the complete absence of a muffin-top.

Last Friday while on the treadmill, I was feeling great. My mind was going 100 miles an hour. I was thinking about my new body and how much better my life will be when my outside finally matches my inside. It was like watching a movie on fast forward. I couldn't catch all of it but I saw bits and pieces. I had to slam on the breaks when I saw some Mary Lou Retton moves and hit the fantasy rewind button. I slowed down the scenario and had to laugh at myself.

My deluded Barbie doll self was meeting an old friend for lunch. When I arrived at the restaurant to meet her, I walked in the front door and did a back handspring, a round off, a couple cartwheels and some aerial somersaults. I executed a flawless landing directly in front of her and nonchalantly shook her hand. My spry Barbie body not only gives me self-confidence, it also gives me super human gymnastic ability. When was the last time you saw a thirty two year old woman do a back hand spring? I learned two things from this incident:

  1. My expectations about weight loss are not at all based in reality.

  2. Exercise endorphins are not a Nike conspiracy. They exist and they are dangerous.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Femme Fatale

I have learned from experience that
anything on the TV or radio that is within earshot of my son will be heard,
pondered and internalized. This is why we don’t watch the news in my house, or
anything that might be construed as disturbing or scary. My son will hear it
and internalize it. My parents were not aware of the "no news" rule when the kids spent the night with them this weekend.

I’m not sure if he saw the entire news cast or just bits and
pieces but my son has been obsessed with an armed robbery that took place sometime
last weekend near my parent’s house. We have had a crash course in felony theft
in the Hale household this week.

What is armed robbery?

Why would someone rob
a gas station?

I didn’t know girls
could be robbers?

I wonder if that
robber lives near Grandma and Pop-Pop.

They didn’t catch her.
We’re supposed to look for her.

Since his sleepover we have seen the armed robbery suspect
no less than five times. Any woman walking along the street or standing on or
near the road is immediately thought to be the robber.

Son: There she is
Mommy. I think that’s her. Maybe we should call the police.

Me: Why do you think
that’s the robber?

Son: Because she looks
like the lady on the TV.

Me: What did the lady
look like?

Son: That (points to
suspect in question).

I have yet to find any similarities between the women that
we have identified as potential suspects other than the fact that they are all
women and they prefer walking to driving or riding the bus. Walking women of
the world, watch out! My son is onto you and your gun-wielding ways.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Live Active

Anyone seen this product? Is it cheese? Is it a laxative? Who knows? And who, in their right mind, is going to make the connection between
constipation and cheese?

I’m constipated. Hmmm…
I think I’ll head to the dairy aisle.

And why are these products always marketed to women? Are we
the only ones who ever experience irregularity?

Sorry. I'm done now.

Potty Prodigy

What is the most gratifying developmental milestone of early childhood? Potty training. It's an Tp
accomplishment for both child and parents and sets you free from the expense and the hassle of diapers and diaper bags. My daughter, who is not quite 2 and a half, is officially potty trained. I put her in panties last Monday and she has had one accident in the 9 days since. The "training" part of the process took all of 15 minutes. She wanted to wear those panties. She's my little potty prodigy! This whole experience is her little way of apologizing for waiting so long to walk and all of the anxiety it caused me. In your face early walkers!

On a related note, did you know that there is actually a PC term for potty-training? It's now called, "toilet learning." I guess the use of the term, "training" is somehow offensive.

Muffin Mission #2

Just yesterday, I had to explain what a muffin top was to my
husband. He was clueless and very skeptical of this new term. He contends with
gusto that I do NOT have a muffin top. Can’t you see why the home fires are still burning strong after 10 years
of marriage? He might be completely deluded but he’s a keeper. It’s clear from
my husband’s cluelessness that we have work to do.

Muffin Toppers of the world, it’s time to gain muffmentum
(is it me or does this sound a little dirty?). We’ve got to spread our message
of flattering fashion for all. If you’ve accomplished last
week’s mission
of tossing out an old pair of ill-fitting jeans, you are
ready to move on to mission number two. If you haven’t made it there yet, don’t
worry. You can cling to those jeans as long as you want. Just know that when
you are ready, we will be waiting for you in the wonderful world of clothes
that fit and flatter.

Here’s mission number two:

Community Service:
Seek out unsuspecting muffin toppers in your community and give your testimony
to them. You don’t have to insult them to make an impact. Take a friend along
and print two or three pamphlets out so that the unenlightened muffin topper thinks
you are community servants (you are!) and does not feel targeted. Take her
aside, explain your mission and tell her what the movement is all about.
Remember, you are doing her a service, one that she desperately needs whether
she knows it or not. Make sure you wear attractive, age-appropriate clothing to
ensure maximum effectiveness. We want people to see results, not just hear
about them. Keep in mind that it is quite possible that the muffin topper may
have no idea what a muffin top is, despite the fact that she could be a poster
child for the movement. We must be sensitive to this possibility. Some visual
aids might be just the ticket to bring the message home for the
as-yet-to-be-converted muffin toppers among us. Show her some before and after
pictures of yourself or someone else. Encourage her to spread the muffmentum by
telling her friends. Before you know it, muffin tops will be a thing of the past (or the small majority--we all know there are hopeless MT-ers out there).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Delicious Drama

If you haven’t been sipping mojitos under a rock somewhere
for the past few weeks, you know about Jessica Seinfeld’s new book, Deceptively Delicious. She’s made the
rounds on the talk show circuit, hitting the mother load (quite literally) with
her appearance on Oprah on October 8. Her book, which has been touted as borderline
revolutionary by some pretty powerful people, offers sneaky recipes that slip broccoli
and squash in under the radar in such dishes as chicken nuggets and brownies.

This is hardly a new idea to most moms out there. We’ve all
tried sneaking veggies in our kids’ food. I throw broccoli in my spaghetti
sauce and mix carrots with my rice, hoping beyond hope that my kids don’t
notice it and accidently slip some nutrients into their high-fructose corn
syrup-lined mouths. It has never crossed my mind to put vegetables in sweets so
I will give Mrs. Seinfeld props for that one. But should I?

Several days ago I was perusing my favorite blogs when I
read about the drama surrounding Deceptively
on Moving
Mama’s Blog
. The drama has elevated to a national level. Check out this
. Apparently a very similar cookbook entitled, The Sneaky Chef by a lesser-known Mary Chase Lapine, was released 6
months earlier. It appears Mrs. Seinfeld’s book was hardly revolutionary. It
was a redo, a second act. Deceptively
has topped the New York Times bestseller list and is on a sales
roll, hardly a surprise given Jessica Seinfeld’s coveted Oprah appearance.
Lapine’s fans are not happy. They feel slighted by
Oprah’s move to back Seinfeld’s book without giving any credit to it’s
predecessor.  Does anyone really think
that Jessica would have appeared on the show if her last name wasn’t Seinfeld?
Come on.

This isn’t Oprah’s first time down this road. Anyone
remember James
This is a much less sensitive situation but it still relates to
readers and their acute sense of justice and loyalty for the craft and
consumption of writing. I wonder if Oprah will address the controversy by
having both mom chefs on her show. Maybe they could have a kid cook-off. The
chef that sneaks the most veggies into an unsuspecting panel of toddlers wins
the bragging rights. Now that’s a show I’d watch!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Muffin Toppers Unite

I was talking to my friend Jacquelyn this afternoon and had an epiphany. Actually, she had the epiphany first and was kind enough to pass it on to me. Here it is:

We are not 21 years old anymore.

Sure, it sounds simple enough but it is quite profound. One look in my closet will reveal why: I have every conceivable shade of Old Navy T-shirts, several  graphic Tees, a couple thermal printed tops and a few button-downs that are just a little too snug to wear in public. Open up my pants drawer and you'll find a couple pairs of jeans that are low-riders with a couple flashy embellishments, some black stretchy pants and a few pairs of gouchos. I'm a thirty-two year-old mama with a muffin top living in the wardrobe of an impoverished college student. And it's not even a cool wardrobe for a college kid.

We've started a movement, Jacquelyn and I. It's the "Surrender the Fantasy" movement.

Note to any moms out there who are actually hot: go ahead and skip this paragraph. It was written specifically for the muffin-toppers among us.

We're throwing in our low-rise, muffin-top-encouraging jeans for some high-quality flattering alternatives. We're not talking Mom-jeans here (at least I'm not—Jacquelyn may be another story), just jeans with a reasonable waist line. Is that too much to ask? Also, we're trading our Old Navy T's (I can't part with mine yet but I'm going to make a concerted effort not to wear them 24 hours a day) for some blouses that might draw the attention away from the midsection rather than right to it.

The Surrender the Fantasy movement won't be easy but it will be rewarding. Join us!

Our goal for this week: pick one pair of jeans that you hold onto because they remind you of the body you used to have and donate them to Goodwill. I guarantee that it will be a liberating experience.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Announcements Announcements Announcements

I've got a few random musings today. First, my Halloween article was published and I am quite proud of it. It's the type of writing that I would like to do on a regular basis.

Second, I have been working on my personal website for the past few days and have published it. Check it out:

Please send me some feedback if you have any thoughts. My friends have informed me that I need more color.

Finally, my friend, Bianca Pierce, took some pictures of my kids this morning and managed to capture this shot:


Isn't it fabulous? The girl's got talent! Here's her website:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

There Oughta Be a Leash Law

So my friend Laura puts her kid on a leash. I told her that if I ever saw her out in public with her son attached to that stuffed-monkey-backpack-cleverly-disguised-as-a-leash I would judge her harshly. And I will. As long as she can keep the jerking-the-leash-to-make-the-kid-stop business to a minimum, I'll love her anyway. She's a great Mom and a good friend and I promised her I'd blog about her tonight. So, Laura, this one's for you.

Just don't be surprised if I give you a shock collar for a baby shower gift :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Conscientious Consumer

I was introduced to a new blogging term yesterday, meme. Wikipedia, the very pinnacle of reliable information, defines a meme as follows:

At its most basic, an Internet meme is simply the propagation of a digital file or hyperlink from one person to others using methods available through the Internet (for example, email, blogs, social networking sites, instant messaging, etc.). The content often consists of a saying or joke, a rumor, an altered or original image, a complete website, a video clip or animation, or an offbeat news story, among many other possibilities. An Internet meme may stay the same or may evolve over time, by chance or through commentary, imitations, and parody versions, or even by collecting news accounts about itself. It is spread organically and voluntarily on a peer-to-peer basis rather than by trickery, compulsion, predetermined path, or completely automated means.

Jennifer Neisslein posted this meme on her blog yesterday:

Here's how it works: post the directions on your blog, tell everyone who tagged you, answer the questions, and tag five or more people. That's it!

The purpose of this meme is to inspire some reflection about how we shop and what we purchase. The idea isn't that consumption itself is somehow bad, but that we all could probably stand to put a little bit more thought into what we buy. And, of course, it's supposed to be fun.

So here goes! Pick a recent shopping trip -- for clothes, shoes, groceries, doesn't matter. The only guideline is that it will be easier to play if you purchased at least a few things.

Now tell us, about your purchases:
1. What are you proud of?
2. What are you embarrassed by?
3. What do think you couldn't live without?
4. What did you most enjoy purchasing?
5. What were you most tempted by?
(This last one may or may not be an actual purchase!)

Given my recent obsession with my family's uncontrollable accumulation of stuff, I thought this would be a good exercise. The best version of myself is a conscientious consumer. I'm not the best version of myself yet but I hope to be soon. Here goes:

About my purchases:

  1. What are you proud of? The toys and clothes that I bought at yard sales last weekend. I put them in a storage bin and am saving them for Christmas.

  2. What are you embarrassed by? The number of Polo shirts hanging in my son's closet (why do I care so much about that damn horse?) To my credit, though, every one of them was bought at a consignment store or yard sale. I don't buy them new. It's still shameful. If I care then my son is going to care and I don't want that.

  3. What do you think you couldn't live without? My food processor. I love that thing.

  4. What did you most enjoy purchasing? The ingredients for a vanilla caramel cake that I made recently.

  5. What are you most tempted by? Anything with the word, "Clearance" written on it.

My grand conscientious consumer plans include more shopping at yard sales, doing my best to buy American made products—a REAL challenge, reusing and recycling everything and anything I can, purging myself and my family of wearable advertising (polos, GAP shirts, etc…), and shopping less at large retail chains. I have a long, LONG way to go.

Now, tell me about your purchases…

Monday, October 8, 2007

How to Prepare for a Yard Sale When Your Husband is a Pack Rat

  1. One
    word: roofies. If your husband is asleep, he can’t protest the fact that you
    are selling his pewter flask from the 1992 wedding he was in, despite the fact
    that the couple is now divorced.

  2.  If
    you have an ethical problem with number one, consider turning on one of his
    favorite television shows. For my husband, this would be the History Channel or
    the World Series of Poker. If he is in visual range of either of these
    programs, he falls into a trance-like state. This creates the perfect
    opportunity to slip his Dwight Shrute-esque short-sleeved dress shirts out the
    front door and throw a price sticker on them.

  3. Give
    him choices. Tell him that he has to choose between one of two items to sell.
    The choice between his dress shoes from 6 years ago (“All they need is a little
    polish.”) and the darth vader carrying case from his childhood might be a
    difficult one but at least you can bid farewell to one thing.

  4. Use
    reason. Sure, a non-working avocado green refrigerator might be difficult to
    part with but if you can tout the virtues of a
    faux-stainless-steel working refrigerator, perhaps you can convince your husband to haul
    the old one out of the garage.

  5. When
    all else fails, bribe him. We all have a price and men’s seems to be fairly
    universal. It might just be worth a little bartering to get rid of the 5 x 8
    watercolor he painted in his college dorm room during his long hair hippie

Friday, October 5, 2007

Faux Potatoes

Whose bright idea was it to create “healthy mashed
potatoes?” Isn’t that an oxymoron? Anyone who tells you that, when blended to
the right consistency, cauliflower is a dead ringer for good ol’ fashion
russets is a liar.

Mashed potatoes are a delicacy that should not be forsaken.
They are usually the first sampling of “real food” that babies have the pleasure of tasting. They are a
Thanksgiving staple and they can be made an infinite number of ways dependant
upon the herbs and spices added, the variety of potato, the presence of skin,
texture and the ratio of milk and butter. No matter how you make them, mashed
potatoes are magically delicious.

Low-carbers of the world take notice: feel free to eat
mashed cauliflower to your hearts’ content, just spare us the diet-speak. You and
I both know that no matter how much cream cheese and garlic you throw in the
mix, blended cauliflower tastes like cauliflower. God help the poor soul who
serves me mashed cauliflower with my Thanksgiving turkey.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Po Po Zow!

It’s official. Britney lost custody of her kids. They will
now be placed in the capable hands of Kevin Federline. Here’s a man who has
fathered four children (that we know of) with two different women (that we know
of). He frequents strip clubs and wears a fedora on a regular basis. What is
the world coming to?

We can all learn something from Britney’s mistakes:

  1. Don’t marry a man whose ex-girlfriend is seven months pregnant with his second child.

  2. Don’t immediately have children with said man.

  3. Never add the name, “Paris Hilton” to your list of friends. If you do, seek counseling immediately.

  4. Never talk to a man in a fedora. Really, what good can come of it?

  5. Listen to your Mama.

  6. If the man you are slated to marry shows up at the rehearsal in a shirt with the word, “PIMP” embroidered on it, call off the wedding immediately.

  7. Stay away from the Hennessy and wacky weed after you pop out your first kid.

  8. Always wear panties. No exceptions.

This is, by the way, the speech that I plan to give my
daughter when she reaches adulthood. I should probably copyright it but I have
decided, out of the goodness of my heart, to offer it to each of you. Feel free
to copy and paste it and use it for your own family’s needs.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Delusions of Craftiness

In a rare moment of crafty mom energy, I helped my kids put
together a “Happy Halloween” banner. Don’t give me too much credit. It came
from one of those foam cut out kits and took very little creativity. My kids
love that stuff though and making things with them provides me with the pleasant
illusion that I am, in fact, a crafty mom. We got out our glue and attached the
ghosts, pumpkins and witches to the ribbon. Once it dried, we ceremoniously
hung the banner on our living room mantle.

It greets us in all of its Halloween splendor each morning.
Normally, this would be a pleasant experience but my son has a meltdown every
morning when he finds out how far away Halloween is.

Five weeks? But that’s a long time. Halloween’s NEVER
going to get here.

32 Days? Mommy, why did we put the decorations up? It
never gets any closer.

Every day it is the same reaction. I do my best to ignore
his dramatic body movements. He typically falls to his knees and drops his
hands by his side in an exasperated way as if I just told him that Santa Claus
didn’t exist. The banner has been up for one week today and I tried to tell him
the good news this morning that Halloween was seven days closer than it was a
week ago. It didn’t go over very well.

I’ve considered taking the banner down to avoid confrontation but I really like it.
I feel like giving myself a pat on the back every time I walk by it. What a
good Mom I am! What a crafty lady! I’m going to have to suck it up and take the
good with the bad, completely ignore my son’s ridiculous tantrums and seriously
consider putting up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. If he’s this excited
about trick or treating I can only imagine how he’s going to react when he’s
greeted by the Christmas tree every morning.

Friday, September 28, 2007



My son cannot imagine taking a photograph without the
instant gratification of seeing it immediately on the LCD screen of the camera.
Our digital camera broke while we were at Disney World and we had to buy a
replacement in the form of a 35mm disposable camera. My son was mystified. What
was this curious contraption covered in cardboard with no screen? How did you
get the pictures out? These were some of the many questions that he asked
post-camera purchase. I gave up after the first 15, giving a generic snippy
answer to every question:

Why doesn’t it have a screen?
Because it doesn’t.

How will we get the pictures onto the computer?
We won’t.

We won’t. We’ll have the film developed.

What’s film?
Film is film.


It’s what makes pictures.

How does it make pictures?

It just does..

 You get the idea. I'm probably not the person you want to come to for advice on explaining things to your children.

After the experience with the 35mm camera, I remembered what
it was like to actually hold a photograph in your hand. What an enlightening
experience to have a tangible photo that is made of paper instead of just
pixels. It made me consider actually purchasing an old school camera so that I
would be forced to keep up with my hard copy photos. Right now, the pictures on
my hard drive are piling up and, along with them, the guilt. I’ve got 13 months
of pictures, well over 800, with nary a hard copy to show for them. Plus, I’ve
still got 12 months worth of hard copy pictures, for a total of 25
months worth of backlog.

What do I do now? How do I catch up? I’ve met moms who are
ten years behind on their family pictures. They’ve thrown in the towel and plan
to take up scrapbooking in their twilight years. Surely there is a feasible way
to handle this backlog without giving up completely, comforted only by the fact that your grandchildren may catch a glimpse of your family photos before they reach adulthood. Perhaps a support group would help.

Anyone interested in joining Moms on the Verge of a Nervous
Breakdown due to Digital Photo Backlog (MVNBDPB), please contact me as soon as
possible. We've got work to do.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Middle Management

Most preschool boys have lofty occupational goals. Some of the
most popular at this age seem to be fireman, policeman, astronaut, train
engineer and Spiderman. My son has dreams of driving a train or a monorail but
his fantasy role of the hour seems to be that of someone in middle management.
I don’t think this necessarily makes him a realist (I see him headed for upper
management at the very least) but it does make him unique.

Here are some of manager musings from the last few weeks:

One of my workers has been to the South Pole. He stayed
warm because his coat was made of bricks.

Mom, we need to bring food to my workers because they
don’t have any money.

I have to make ramps for most of my workers. They are in
wheelchairs and can’t climb ladders.

It’s my workers birthday and we are having a party for
him so we need to make some cake.

 I take pride in the fact that my son seems to be a pretty
good boss. He throws birthday parties for his employees, makes sure that the
disabled among them are accommodated, listens to their elaborate vacation
stories, and brings food to them when they are in need. My only concern is that
his workers seem to work for him out of the goodness of their heart. I asked
him once if he paid them for the work they did. He laughed and said, “No Mommy.
They don’t need money.”

Entitlement rears its ugly head yet again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rockin' Girl Blogger Award

Many thanks to Keli, a faithful reader and my favorite cynic, at Counterfeit Humans for bestowing the prestigious Rockin' Girl Blogger Award on Another Gray Hair.  Sorry it took me a while to pick it up (sound familiar?). I've been a lazy blogger of late and have been playing catch-up today with my favorite blogger Mamas.


I'd like to thank my family and friends for providing me with endless amounts of material,  all of the faithful readers of Another Gray Hair, and Bret Michaels for bringing hundreds of visitors to my blog in their honorable quest to solve the mystery of his mane. I'm the king of the world!

I'm passing this award on to Leeanne at Tired Mama . She's one of the most consistently funny bloggers I've ever read and she gives me a little bit of hope (that I am not alone in this parenting gig) and a little bit of despair (that it doesn't get easier just because the kids get older). Check her out!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why Men Shouldn't Take Messages

I'm lacking inspiration today and a friend sent me this. It made me laugh out loud. Enjoy:

(You may have to click on it to enlarge it so it is readable. The blog auto-shrinks it)


Friday, September 21, 2007

Parental Bliss

At this very moment, my son and daughter are sitting on his bed. He is teaching her the words and motions to "Wheels on the Bus" and she is doing her best to sing along. They are on their fourth or fifth round. My heart is in a puddle on the floor.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hula Hoops

I was full of motivation this morning. I was up in time to
take a shower, make the kids a relatively healthy breakfast, brew some tea and make myself a smoothie, all before walking out the door at 7:40 to
take my eldest to school. This is a small miracle. Most days I’m forced to
throw a baseball cap on to cover the disheveled mop that graces my
sizable head. I try to wear glasses on those days, instead of contacts, because
I have convinced myself that they somehow shield my face from onlookers. Yeah,
I’m a heaping pile of self-esteem.

My public persona in tact, I decided to go to my local gym to partake in a class that I had highlighted on
the Group Fitness Schedule a few weeks ago called, “Dance Aerobics.” I love to dance and I hate
kickboxing and yoga so I thought this class might be something I’d enjoy.

Fast forward to 10:00. I dropped my daughter off at the
nursery and cruised to the aerobics room. I hesitated before I opened the door
because I noticed that all of the women were card carrying members of the AARP. I asked one of the women doing
laps around the room, “Is this the Dance Aerobics class?”

“Yes, and it is super fun,” she said in a very enthusiastic
voice, pumping her arms to the beat of a 70’s Motown tune. They were all
smiling and laughing as they danced their way around the room. I considered
running in the opposite direction and never looking back and then I realized that I had
nothing to lose. What if I loved the class? So, I got in step with the rest of
them, doing my best white girl dance/walk around the room.

Our warm up complete, we were each given a hula-hoop and told to revive our schoolgirl moves. I felt like a fool. These old ladies were
tearing up those hula-hoops and I couldn’t even keep it off the floor for 5

The hula-hoop humiliation behind us, we were told to get into a circle and given
medium-sized plastic balls. We passed the balls (there were several in play) to each other in a
constant motion. My fellow dancers laughed like schoolgirls the entire time. It
made me slightly uncomfortable but I decided to throw caution to the wind and commence giggling. It felt great.  I thought of my Mother and her Silver Sneakers class. I was
pretty sure I was in the midst of one. After our coordination and reflex work,
we moved onto the dancing. The teacher asked for requests. Request number one:
YMCA. This request was met with roars of laughter. Oh, the irony! We did some
grapevines and some kicks and had a grand old time.

My Silver Sneakers class was an experience I won’t soon
forget. I took the instructor aside when we finished stretching and asked her
if this was, in fact, a Silver Sneakers class (it wasn’t labeled as such on the
calendar). She looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Oh no.” I shrugged. I
guess the over-60 set is taking over the world of dance aerobics. I can only
hope that, when my time comes, I’m giggling and hula-hooping with the best of

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Bandanna Chronicles

I just had to acknowledge, for all my Rock of Love
cronies out there in the blogosphere, that Bret Michaels does, in fact, have
hair under that bandanna.

Why does this please me so?

Friday, September 14, 2007

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab, I Said, "No No No."

I promised myself I’d never get political on this blog but I
have to break my silence and lay the cards on the table. Did everyone catch the
Britney Spears performance at the VMA’s? Holy guacamole. What a disaster.

I do my best to maintain the illusion that I am above all of
the Hollywood tabloid nonsense but I’m not. The simple truth is that I did care
about Britney’s performance. Her recent public personal debacles and possible
comeback intrigued me. I watched the Video Music Awards with great interest,
taking a little bit of pleasure in her obvious failure. I felt pity for her but
I also felt vindicated or, perhaps, validated that she had lost her magnetism.

Why is this? I have no idea. I’m pretty sure that it means I
am a hopelessly flawed individual. I take pleasure in this young girl’s pain.
Her poor decision making, her youth and her early fame have all led her to this
place. And we (at least the losers among us who are faithful readers of “In
Touch” magazine) have been on the ride with her. I’m pretty sure that I
wouldn’t have handled myself much better in her shoes (I wouldn’t have married
K-Fed but, hey, you get the point) but I continue to judge her harshly. Britney
and I, we’ve got some work to do. If only I could afford a couple rounds of rehab.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Holiday Havoc

The holidays are making their way into my mind already. It’s
a curse. I finally get a handle on our budget only to realize that Christmas is
right around the corner and I’ve got to find a way to buy gifts for all of our
family members. I wrote an article entitled, 8 Creative Ways to Downsize the
that will be published in the December issue of Simple Joy. I’ll
post a link when it is available. I only hope that I can follow my own advice.

I’d like to hear if anyone has any genius ideas on cutting
down expenditures over the holidays. My son already has a working Christmas
list that includes, among other things, the complete monorail/castle set that
he was admiring at one of the seven million gift shops on Disney property. It
costs a ridiculous amount and we have nowhere to put it. How can I steer his
attention to some books, DVDs and smaller toys? What about making it his
mission to give? How can I be the mother of the kid that they feature on the
news who, at the ripe old age of five, starts a toy donation campaign for
children in need? I want to be that Mom. If you have any ideas about how to
turn my greedy five year old into a prodigious philanthropist, please pass them
on. I’m all ears.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Civilian PIs and Creme Brule

It is taking every ounce of will power I have not to
dedicate an entire blog entry to the creme brulee that I had on Wednesday night
at Jiko, an African restaurant known as as €œThe Cooking Place€ nestled in the
Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World. Those of you who know me are
probably not surprised by this. I love food, especially high quality food. That
is part of the appeal of Disney World: you can take the whole family out
to a five star restaurant. I can€'t think of any other place on earth where you
can order from one of the best wine lists in the country while your child
feasts on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on rainbow bread.

Back to the
creme brulee: it was flavored with ground pistachios, situated atop a bed of
dark chocolate and perfectly torched to a candied shell deliciousness on top. It
was perfect.

I digress.

On Friday night we took the whole family to the California Grille, one of the
nicest restaurants on Disney property. A couple feet down from us, seated at the bar, were
some familiar faces. We enjoyed our sushi and flat bread appetizers while the
kids feasted on an elegant plate of goldfish and tried our best to figure out who those people were. My husband, his curiosity peaked,
got up to take our son to the bathroom. He came back and said, "We'€™ve got some
Doodlebop action at three-o-clock."

I was surprised by my own reaction, "€œNO WAY!"€

We had just seen the Doodlebops in concert the day prior and
the kids loved it. They danced with much more enthusiasm than good ol Britney at
the VMA'€™s this weekend
and Sean and I were pleasantly surprised at the quality
of the show. It felt like a preschool rock concert.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Doodlebops, they are an
extremely popular preschool singing group that have a half hour show on the
Disney Channel. Unlike their Australian counterpart The Wiggles, the Doodlebops
wear a great deal of make-up and elaborate costumes so they have the benefit of
a relatively normal existence outside of the whacked-out Doodlebop world.
Except of course, when they are in the presence of civilian PI€™s like my
husband who can spot them a mile away, even without the blue hair. We decided
to keep our Doodlebop sighting on the DL to protect our kids from the harsh
reality that Moe Doodle is, in fact, a small man with black hair in designer
duds munching on flat bread at the bar. My husband, always stretching the limits
of his own dorkiness,  couldn'€™t resist a little poke at Moe on the way out. He
tapped him on the back and said, "€œGreat show Moe!"€ I averted my eyes and ran
towards the elevator.