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.