Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

An Invitation to Minimalism

Our next house will have stone walls

Today, and yesterday, and definitely tomorrow, I will be packing.  And de-cluttering, emptying closets, filling bags with charity donations, and generally removing stuff from my house.  A painter will will be sanding and painting, and then I will scurry in behind him and finishing cleaning up.  All this is due  to sticking 8 people into an 1830 square foot house that would usually hold 2 to 5 people, (not optimally hold, just mostly likely hold,) and the sheer volume of necessary stuff required to keep us takes up a lot of room.  Tables for 8, high chairs, bunk beds, a really big sectional in the front room so we can all watch TV.  But when you are trying to sell your house, like we will be doing right away, you need it to look spacious, empty and like a Wonderlandesque rabbit hole of storage possibilities.  So everything that is not nailed down (nearly) is going into a box.

Which is great.  It’s lovely and liberating.  Why?  I really hate stuff.  Not always — when I was a kid I used to have drawer of “special things” that I only pulled out and looked at twice a year.  I was a hoarder raised by hoarders, surrounded by piles of Woman’s Day and Chatelaine, and reprints of baby care books from the 1930’s.  “It could come in handy one day,” I always heard.  It never did, but it could.  But what they, we, were really saying was “That’s someone I could become one day.”  Someone caught up on her reading who had delicious recipes cooking up on the stove, someone who knew exactly what to do with a crying baby (if it was 1936,) someone who made crafts and seasonal centrepieces, who finished afghans because they started them, who was always fashionably dressed, who has lost that baby weight and can wear that dress again.  Someone who looks just like me, but only a little bit better.  And, by saying “good-bye” to all these better-me projects, I am forced to admit that I am okay just they way I am.  Sure, there is always room for improvement (patience, perhaps?) but how much true self-improvement and growth have I delayed until I finish whatever I have stored in my closet.  It’s the classic refrain of the procrastinator:  “Oh, sure, I should do that.  I just need to do this first….”

Looking out at my newly patched and pristine walls (yes, I know it won’t last a week, but let me have my moment,) it reminded me of being a kid and looking out over a field of freshly fallen snow.  Snow so deep that it spilled into the top of your Sorels when you tried to clomp through it.  It was so randomly perfect, a complete feat of nature impossible to replicate by human means.  In my desire to capture that feeling of pristineness, I would run out into the snow leaving a gash of my footprints behind me.  As I turned around to look, I would realize that by trying to consume it, I had destroyed the beauty I was trying to possess.  Some things can only be appreciated, and not consumed.  As soon as you try to take them home and stuff them into your crammed cupboards and over-scheduled weekends, they’re lost.  The beauty leaves us when we try to grab too tight.

I am shocked, again, how much better the kids are playing with a ¼ the toys they had, how much easier they get dressed without 6 pink t-shirts to choose from, and how much faster the bathrooms clean up without having to move 10 different vials of Face-This and Skin-That.  It’s liberating and lightening, and hopefully it lasts.  Maybe instead of the 100 Mile Diet we need the 150 Item Household (is it possible?)  All I know is that benefit #1 of the move is a new appreciation of nothing.

Happy Birthday Sweetie Pie!


Sweetie Pie. You are 9 years old today, and for you I wish…

that you never take off your hat.
that you start causing some trouble.
that you never stop drawing beautiful ladies wearing beautiful clothes on beautiful days.
that you want to bother me with what is bothering you.
that your smile could warm the whole world the way it warms us.
that everyone could taste your cooking.
that you keep on trying and trying.
that you tell us all your jokes because they too funny.
that they let you wear your scarf in school.

I’m so glad…

that you carry Baby everywhere.
you’re the best big sister.
you have such style.
you can dance, and sing, and play piano.
you do things that make you so nervous, but you do them anyway.
you always love God.
you are always kind, even when others aren’t.
you forgive everyone.

But most of all, I’m so glad you’re my daughter. God bless you Sweetie Pie.

My Jonah Moment

Sorry, I haven’t been around much the last week.  I haven’t fallen off the blogging map, just had some stuff come up around here that has taken all my time.  I figured it was better to lie low for a while rather than just post any ol’ thing, though that is pretty much what this blog is about — any ol’ thing that pops into my head, but I digress…

It all began while I was gently encouraging in a loving, yet persistent way, (ahem) my husband to get cracking on those extra bedrooms we need in the basement for the kids.  God may have blessed us with six beautiful children, but throwing one boy into a stew of all girls, certainly makes the sleeping arrangements rather tricky.  When I sat down and took a hard look at this work schedule and did a preliminary budget for the renovations, I realized that a monkey wrench has been thrown into our attempt to stay put in this house.  Or rather, has thrown us out the door.  While we are not moving to any McMansion, we have finally had to admit that three bedrooms above grade just doesn’t cut it for us right now, and that we need to look for something with 4 bedrooms and no immediate renovations required.  That means moving, which I hear only works if you sell your house.  If I were sitting beside you speaking this, you would hear me insert one of the many language intensifiers I have been using lately, but since I’m the one typing right now, I’m going to sanitize my image and leave it clean.

Sitting in Church on Sunday morning, in between distracted thoughts about whether or not I could survive on 3 hours of sleep nightly for the next week, I overhead the a reading from the Book of Jonah, and I realized that this whole house thing is my Jonah Moment.  Jonah was the prophet that God sent to the city of Nineveh, or at least he would have been, if Jonah had actually gone the first time.  That’s how he ended up inside “the belly of the fish” — he was tossed overboard in a storm trying to sail in the opposite direction.   And that’s what I’ve been doing.  No, I am not going to bumper sticker my car with “Providence is my Realtor.”  But I have been running away from a difficult decision, even though the answer was staring me in the face.  I just didn’t like the answer.  So, I kept asking the question.  And rephrasing it.  And doing some internet research.  And asking other people’s opinions.  And sleeping on it.  And so on and so on….

And now, I’m just stuck with boxes and boxes.  My sweet, overworked husband and I are both INTJ personality types, which is nicknamed “the Mastermind.”  This means that we have set an insane deadline to get the house ready and, of course, we want to sell it ourselves to save the commission.  Don’t worry — Sweetie Pie (9 tomorrow) said that she would help with showings.  I’ve already read two books on selling your house, and two on staging your house (just one more to get through!)  Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Thanks for sticking with me as things get a little intermittent.  I promise I’ll be back to normal soon.  Or may a whale swallow me whole.

 

 

Big Lip Stamp

When someone is whinging around here, we chase them around the house threatening to give them a “big lip stamp;” to basically, plant a pouty lip on them.  This is supposed to cheer them up and snap them out of it.  Whether this works, or if this is some therapist’s future summer home remains to be seen, but with the frequency that protruding lower lips seem to fly up and down the stairs, I doubt it’s being retired around here any time soon.

Except that today I need a big lip stamp, because I am sick and it’s about -1 zillion degrees outside.  Actually, it’s -35° Celsius with wind chill.  That’s -31° in Fahrenheit and 238.15 in Kelvin.  (Aren’t conversion widgets great?)  It’s so cold that the birds that bother to rest on our front tree are twice their normal size.  The kids have to leave for the one block walk to school covered with so much winter wear, only a sliver of eye is exposed.  Both the worst and the best time to be sick.

The best?  Because you can’t really do anything anyway, so it’s a good excuse to let the kids watch a Rugrats DVD and recuperate.  Except that I’m not, really.  Just like on Sunday morning after spending all night being sick to my stomach, I was up folding laundry.  Same thing today.  In between swoons, I was stacking little boy pants and little girl pj’s.  It reminded me of when I took some time “off” over the Christmas break.  No one got dressed and we all just sat around eating Caramel Pecan Squares and leftovers.  One afternoon, I stole a nap.  While I slept, I dreamt that I was doing laundry — folding, stacking, running around with hampers.  And when I work up I felt, well, great.  I hadn’t realized until then how much industry begets cheerfulness.

Those Puritans used to say that idle hands were the devil’s workshop.  And for the first 29 years of my life, I sure was glad we were all done with that attitude.  I was constantly “taking it easy,” “needing a break,” and I forever was “stressed out.”  I didn’t know from what.  I never had to toilet train a 2 ¾ year old, who really couldn’t care less what happens to the carpet in his bedroom.  Or stay up all night with a teething baby, only to be up by 7:00 the next morning to get the big kids out the door.

Whatever I did, I did it for me, and that was the problem.  I really was stressed out and burnt up.  I thought that by running after a life based on the virtue of “that sounds fun,” I would have a fun life.  But I didn’t.  I had a life increasingly without meaning.  It took me a while to realize that we were made to be useful, and live in a community.  Not necessarily a community of a common Postal Code or socio-demographic grouping, but one of connections based on interdependence.  For years I thought that if I only got enough time to do what I really wanted, I would discover my purpose in life.  Instead, I found my purpose when I did what someone else needed.

No man, or Mother is an island.  As I stand in surrounded by my sea of laundry and Kleenex boxes, I realize that I am not afloat, but finally grounded.  Just another of many surprises on this journey as a Mom.

Happy Birthday Art Girl!

Dear Art Girl,

You are 7 big years old today and yesterday you gave me your last hug as a 6 year old. Last Art Girl hug. I try to think of words to describe you, but you aren’t words. You are colours and noises and jumping around at the dinner table. You are sketches of bunnies, and kitties, and rainbows in the sky. You sleep sideways underneath 10 different stuffed animals.

If a feeling is worth feeling, it’s worth feeling with every fibre and sinew of your being, you say. You show love by picking someone up and carting them around if you can, running down the Kindergarten hallway with your baby sister only a few weeks old in your arms, me chasing after you trying to wrest her away. Or by grabbing your big sister and hoisting her 4 inches into the air. If you can’t do it with your body, you do it with your heart, by making them love cards and giving them your last cookie, and telling them they are the best Mommy in the whole world.

You truly love beauty, and seek it always and everywhere. In your piano music, in your sketches of God’s earth, in a flower petal that you found abandoned in the dirt of the garden. You coddle and protect it, and try to preserve it. But a most beautiful thing Art Girl, is your own sweet heart that loves so much and so deeply, and feels so much and so greatly.

Happy Birthday, Art Girl. You rock.

F is for Happiness

Since I am so bad at sharing links, today I will share two. So there.  Since I came across these two articles, today’s topic is happiness, :  the first on why parents should make their own happiness a priority, and the second from Gail Val-Oxlade on contentment and money (h/t Simply Frugal.)  These got me thinking on how to be happy, and why I am happy, and what makes me happy.

Look at all that matching going on

And the answer is:  Finishing.  I finished my bloody match-matchy Christmas Stockings that cause me so much guilt and grief.  Been there, done that, got the craft.  Next November 21, no longer will I sigh longingly as I gaze out on the freshly fallen snow, pensively wringing my hands, muttering “Oh, those stockings.  I have to finish the stockings.”  Nope, ‘cuz I’ve got 8, count ’em, 8 identical, hand-embroidered, handmade, personalized stockings sitting in a storage tub in my basement.  And as soon as I turned that last cuff out and I saw that it wasn’t backward, or crooked, and was generally OK, I felt great.  I made something neat from nothing.  It felt freaking awesome.  And like birth, I immediately forgot all the swollen ankles, heartburn, nausea, not to mention 20 hours of labour.  I looked at my brand new thing and thought “When’s the next one?”  Yes, I am now looking for a new craft project.  I know. I’m sick.

Part of the reason I need more crafts, is that we finished watching Battlestar Galactica.  Every Friday night, my sweetheart and I would pop some corn and sit and watch two or three episodes of BSG.  It was like a date without a babysitter.  And with a baby.  I’m sort of glad it’s over because for the last eight episodes I couldn’t figure out what the frack was going on.  And why is Bob Dylan channeling some kind of otherworld music?  My sweetheart told me that I am not allowed to shout questions at the TV anymore.  But still we couldn’t stop watching.  These two in the clip could have been us.  Scary.

Family is an F word for happiness

Happiness is finishing.  And faith.  Faith in God first.  And some in yourself to figure out an answer and in the future, that it will turn out okay.  Faith enough to trust to go with the flow when you need to, and put your foot down when you don’t.  Faith to decide to be happy.  Which reminds me, years ago I arranged a “Mom’s Evening Out” with a gal down the street.  We signed up for a Pilates class together, and I thought that since we both had two kids, we would just use it as a time to chat, and blow off a little steam.  I was thinking relaxation.  Boy, was I wrong.  As soon as my backside touched her bucket seat the onslaught began.

“Do you know what happened to me today?  It was Emily’s birthday on Saturday so I had to go to Sears get photos and then Mackenzie started crying and then Emily had a temper tantrum outside the elevator and then I still had to go to Costco to get a cake and then….”

This went on for 5 F-ing minutes.  Finally, I couldn’t take it.  My kids were young, too.  I put up with enough hissy fits and spilt milk all day, I didn’t need my night out to be filled with someone else’s brat attacks.  In one of my least proud moments of my life, I found my mouth suddenly open and I blurted out,

“Yeah, well.  I know someone who’s daughter had cancer.  Twice.  That was really stressful.”

She stopped talking and stared straight ahead for a moment. Then she said, “Our friend has cancer.  He told his wife that now she had to make him spinach dip.  It was really funny.”

My husband suddenly had to work every Tuesday night, the same night as those Pilates’ classes.

The final F of happiness:  fib.

**********

P.S. If you want to see what happens when some Japanese retails decided to use English in their signage and certain language intensifier that starts with, you guessed it, an F, click here.

All Sixes and Sevens

My Mom had an unique expression for describing being out of sorts. “You’re all sixes and sevens,” she’d say.

I’ve felt like that for a while now, but haven’t had external validation until a few days ago. I was looking for large family blogs on the web, and stumbled on a few that were collecting links from any Mommy who was interested.  Except for one condition:  7 kids or more.

It’s official.  I don’t have a big enough family to be “special” and I have too many kids to be “normal.”  In the gigantic game of family match-up, no one is picking our family for their team.

However, I’ve noticed that most big families that make a point of getting out there to represent “Big Family-ism,” the “many-kid boosters” as it were, seem to be pretty interested in boosting a whole bunch of stuff that I don’t necessarily go for, either.  I hear a lot of advice and bite my tongue:  Homeschool or they’ll lose their faith.  Natural health because drugs just make you sicker.  Juicing cures everything.  Organic food because that’s what people who love their kids feed them.   If your kids are bad, it’s because you don’t eat whole grains.

Until this blog, I never made a big deal about how many kids I have.  I try not to bring it up (unless I have all six with me and they are bringing up the rear.)  I don’t want an award, a prize, or young Moms to follow me around looking for advice.  I also don’t want excuses.  I can get everyone to Church on time, as they say.  I think that I should try to have a family dressed in clean clothes, well-mannered, with enough social skills to carry on a conversation with someone their age.  If you have two kids, you pretty much do what I do, except I’ve got a couple of babysitters waiting in the wings.  I am not a specimen nor a spectacle.

In retrospect, I doubt I belong in the official big family club.  I’ve never been much of a joiner, not since I got kicked out of Brownies for a dispute over Easter Egg dye.  I’ve always been the loner, like when I took shop in Grade 7, just to make a point.  But this point is a little bit bigger — the next time these folks make you feel like you don’t measure up, remember that they even get under the skin of the Gal with Six.

Good mothers support each other.  They don’t look for chinks in others’ armour to play a game of “Who Loves Our Kid the Most.”

All Together Now

The one thing that surprises me most about having six kids, is the togetherness of it. One moment this Sunday found two girls making an Epiphany cake with Mom supervising, two pre-schoolers giggling over Rugrats on the couch, the tween trying to sleep-off a sleepover (she didn’t and just played DS) and Baby chasing Dad upstairs. Wherever you went in our house, there was something going on and someone to talk to. We have a built-in community.

This morning when the three big girls left to return to school, they had a right send off. Kiss and hug twice from Mom, twice from Princess, twice from Big Boy and then all four of us stood at the door and waved good-bye. Or at least we tried, until Big Boy realized that the girls forgot to say good-bye — and kisses! — to Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy. Finally they were allowed to leave for the three minute walk to school, with enough noise that you wouldn’t have thought they wouldn’t be back as soon as 3:30 — more like a week.

I’m always struck by what a big group I’m in when I’m out and trying to find a seat. Those “Find Your Own Seat” events at halls with the big banquet tables set up, as well as Malls, present their own challenges. At Pasta Dinners and Church Barbecues, once we commandeer a table, everything’s dandy. We’ve brought our own party, often sharing the extra chair with some hapless singleton who has no one more intimate to eat with. At the Mall it is the polar opposite. All the tables are built for two and taken by one, sharing their meal with their text messages, a magazine, or just staring out into space. Here, we can never seem to get a table to fit and are forced to take over whole rows. Everyone stares. Perhaps that’s our mission in life; distract food court patrons from their lack of dinner companions.

I used to be a loner before the kids came along. I would walk alone, eat lunch alone, and browse the bookstore alone. And I was obsessed with the lack of community in modern life. I was always yammering on about block-parties, new Urbanism and useful power outages. Little did I realize, that especially in the days when people tended to stay in the same area that they were raised, much of the capital of community was actually the coinage of blood relation. Sometimes my Sweetheart and I like to play a game called How Many for Supper?, where we imagine the head count at a Christmas Dinner sometime in the future. Right now, immediate family only, we have 8 for dinner. If 5 of our 6 kids marry, with spouses we’ll have 13 around the table. If those 5 couples have any average of 4 kids each, including grandchildren we will be setting 33 places. Change the event to our 88th Birthday Party, add in spouses for some grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, and number climbs even higher. Of course this excludes people moving far away, and “never speaking again” feuds (God forbid!), but you get the picture. The very crowded picture.

My Grandmother (oldest of 8) used to tell me that no one could afford to raise a large family “now a days.” And yes, I would agree that sometimes our grocery bill gives my the vapours (not to mention Christmas Dinner for 33!) But there is something that double entry bookkeeping cannot capture — the cost to cure loneliness. Money will come and go. Someone will always be willing to sell you their stuff. But warm hearts aren’t so easy to come by.

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The Peanut Allergy Mambo

I will subdue you, Peanut Butter Sandwich!!!

Ten plus years ago, I took then infant Tall Girl (Tall Baby) to visit a Mom and her son I met at our church’s Mom’s Morning Out.  We had a very pleasant visit, but two things disturbed me.  The first was that she had the kids’ TV blaring non-stop in the background for the entire visit.  The second, was a bucket of cleaning supplies, including a huge jug of Pine Sol without a child-safety cap, left out in the open in a hallway right beside the kids’ play area.

“My God!”  I thought.  “Doesn’t she read parenting magazines?!?”

So, the news that more educated parents produce more allergic kids didn’t surprise me at all.  When we Gen X’s were children, the occurrence of allergies was almost non-existant among our playmates, way lower than they are among our children.  Something must have changed in the environment that we raise kids in, or the way that we raise kids, that has led to this change.  Obviously, it is the more educated parent who follows all the “latest and greatest” advice, dispensed by in demand pediatricians, hospital websites, and parenting magazines.  I’ve also heard the theory that autism is caused by a Vitamin D deficiency, the reasoning being that upper class parents are mostly likely to listen to warnings about the sun, leading to a steady increase in the number of autistic kids as income rises.

I have a weird perspective on the childhood allergy “dance.”  (Well, if you’ve got to dance, it might as well be something Latin and spicy.)  During my pre-kid 20’s, I was diagnosed with hayfever and cat allergies, and began taking Reactine(TM).  What started as ½ a small tablet every two days, soon turned into one extra-strength pill daily.  After about 8 months, I just decided not to take them anymore.  I suffered a little at first, but by the time my daughter was born 4 years later, I was virtually allergy free.  So, I definitely had an opinion on the allergy situation.

Fast forward 5 years to Art Girl.  Her persistent sniffles were identified as something called environmental allergies.  She took a daily nasal spray.  One day at the breakfast table (it’s always at the breakfast table,) she rubbed something – probably peanut butter – into her eyes that caused her whole face to swell up like that blue lady from Avatar.  Then, she lost her voice.  The nurse on the other end of the Health Hotline thought it might mean her throat was closing.  I hung up and tried to get into my doctor.  That lady told me that I could only bring her in if I waited 4 hours.  I rushed to the Walk-In Clinic, and the doctor thought that maybe we should try eye drops.  I started shouting about her airway, and he gave her a steroid inhaler that was lying around in the supply room.  Later at a follow up appointment with our regular doctor, I had to tell multiple people what happened, and none of them bothered to tell the doctor.  He thought we were just there to get a stronger anti-histamine for her sniffly nose.

That was 2 ½ years ago and Art Girl still hasn’t seen an Allergist, or had a “proper” allergy test (she has had a blood test which seems to support her  throat feeling itchy whenever she eats peanuts.)  She is off the nasal spray, her ear tubes have fallen out, her hearing loss is gone, her reading has caught up to grade level, and she’ll eat chocolate covered almonds by the handful.  But because of the Bureaucracy of Childhood that us parents function in, I am constantly going on and on about this peanut allergy.  I had to fill out a two page form for school,  paragraphs for the Girl Guide Sleepovers, and had a one-on-one consult about it with her summer camp leader.  Everyone official I speak to about my sweet little girl, I have to stop the conversation and say “Oh, I have to tell you:  she has a mild to moderate peanut allergy.  We think.”  No matter how well we function with that green 2 kg tub of Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter sitting in my pantry, she is an Allergy Kid, and I am an Allergy Mom.

While I bristle when people try to support me by crying for school nut bans, I understand some of the crazy.  There is only so much of telling people over and over about one little, almost insignificant part of your kid, before I starts to twist your reality.  I’m guessing that Art Girl will outgrow this, like her other allergies, but who wants to be the Mom who nearly kills their kid testing that theory?  So I guess we wait.  And fill out forms.  And all the while I wonder if it was something I did to her that caused all this trouble in the first place.

Parenting Advice I Learnt from TV: The Christmas Edition

I’ve learnt a lot about parenting from television, but not from an “expert” giving me the latest advice.  No, I mean from the actual medium of television itself.  And quite a few lessons applied this Christmas, for example…

Commericals Really Do Make Kids Greedier

I never really noticed until we got rid of commercial television during the spring and switched to Netflix/Boxee/iTunes.  For some reason, I honestly thought that by shouting back “No” to their constant chorus of “Can we get that?” I was dealing with the gimme problem.  This Christmas though, our kids gave us sensible lists early on, and everyone was genuinely grateful after the gifts were opened.  Having grown up watching hours of commercials I never realized what a corrosive effect they had on my childish wellbeing.  It’s shocking to think that my lifelong dream of a house with The Clapper in each room, may ultimately have originated outside my soul.

Nice Things Don’t Make Kids into Good People

It’s one of the oldest plot devices out there, whether prime time soap, Masterpiece Theatre, or reality TV — super rich people acting badly.  They have everything you could possibly want, all the advantages, all the toys, and they still stoop to worst behaviour possible.  And on the surface, I don’t think that anyone would disagree with this.  But spoiling our kids just feels so good, it’s pretty easy to start sneaking in a little bit of justification into the mix, too.  I mean, it would be great to be the hero of Christmas and make our kids into living saints.  Which would be acknowledged by all after they receive the Order of Canada for jumping into a frozen river to rescue a toddler they saw on the way  home from volunteering at the soup kitchen.  Alas, I have never heard a selfless person upon reflecting say “I did it all because my parents gave me every damn thing I wanted.  Booyah!”

If It’s Not Working, It Gets Cancelled

No matter how popular a show was, as soon as the ratings do a nose dive, it’s history.  So too with holiday traditions that just don’t work any more.  No one likes Grandma stuffing recipe with the pecans and dates — gone!  No one can sit still without whining for 4 hour of present opening — figure a way to speed it up!   Kids cranky and irritable waiting in itchy dress clothes for 8:00 o’clock formal sit down dinner — comfy clothes and dinner’s at 4!  Just like syndication, you’ll always have the memories, but life is too short.  Make space for stuff that you actually look forward to doing.

“Inspiration” is Not Theft

Ever notice how two or three of the same “theme” will appear in different shows on different networks each fall?  TV folks know that if it seems like a good idea over there, it just might work back home.  While I tend to decry this kind of creative laziness, I’ve decided that in parenting it’s OK!  So, if you see something cool that another family is doing — cookie decorating party, Christmas treats for the birds in the yards, carolling parties, whatever — take it!  It’s yours!  There is no copyright on Christmas fun, baby.  Now, go for a walk tonight and see if you can get any tree ideas from the people who haven’t drawn their curtains.

Tradition is Framework for Innovation

Here’s an example:  the award show format.  Every year the producers try to mix it up.  But think if they decided to go “crazy” and have two stand-ups ad lib the entire 3 hours, who told us who won everything in the first 15 minutes.  Even if it was the “best thing ever,”  it would stink.  Why?  We want an award show to follow some simple rules — the change up comes between the parts we expect.  Christmas with kids is the same way.  I love to be spontaneous.  However, you have never heard a room so quiet as when I suggested we get together on Christmas Eve, rather than the 25th.  And my husband had to duck for cover when he floated the idea of roast beef instead of turkey.  People like what they like.  Put the new and improved between that stuff.

Hopefully this proves that all those hours in front of a cathode ray tube has not rotted my brain, but in fact made me a better Mother.

And extra TV time for all who agree.

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