Monday, March 31, 2008

Siblings Without Rivalry, Eventually

Funny how your sibling relationships change as you get older. My oldest two have become very close in the last few years ever since my son moved out to go to college and he and Sis haven't had each other to argue with on a daily basis. Absence makes the heart grow fonder indeed.

Sis has been planning to spend a bit of her spring break visiting her brother with much anticipation and excitement. Of course part of the allure of visiting him is that he lives in San Francisco, but they were both truly looking forward to spending time together. She's no longer a pesty little sister, but more of a peer now that their 3 1/2 year age difference is not so pronounced.

Sis and her cousin traveled to the bay area on Friday and delivered Cam's Legos and Star Wars Monopoly game that he requested me to send along with them. I was glad to see that the hundreds of dollars spent on Legos in his early years was not wasted!

Sis and her cousin came back raving about the great time they had in The City. I was a bit worried about them traveling there by themselves. They are both mountain girls who've lived rather sheltered rural lives. I warned Cam to keep close tabs on them. I told him he couldn't just turn them loose alone in the city and expect them to survive, and that he must make sure they were supervised and kept safe at all times. Maybe I'm a bit dramatic, I don't know, but I have to do my mom-job of worrying. He assured me he would take care of them and I was glad to see them both back safe and sound with big smiles on their faces.

(The girls are 6 months apart in age and they look so much alike sometimes--silly faces or no.)

Now both Sis and her cousin are talking about looking into going to college in San Francisco. I sometimes wonder if growing up in the mountains in a small community makes city life all that more appealing. I know Cam loves it down there, and he adjusted to living in the city far easier than I imagined!

(A cute shot of Cam and his sweet girlfriend Cassie.)

At any rate, it was nice to see my kids having fun together and knowing that they're sibling bond is intact and that they are now at an age where they can love and enjoy each other. It really does pay off...eventually.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ya Might Be a Redneck...

So my hubby was saving cans--not for recycling, but for a special project he had in mind that he (wisely) wouldn't tell me about.

Now I know why. Apparently this is an okie alarm clock.

He hung it in the girls' bedroom and told them he would knock it around in the morning to wake them up. It serves it's purpose. It's both loud and annoying. He says he used to string cans together like this when he was young and hang them from his own bedroom ceiling. Ah, nostalgia. I'm sure back then that his mom was just as thrilled as I was when I laid eyes on this. In fact, I was literally speechless, but not one to knock the wind out of hubby's sails, I kind of just wandered off mumbling to myself, "Why, oh why, oh why?"

The girls think it's great. Sis nearly laughed her fanny off especially when she saw the expression on my face. I am just biding my time until everyone kind of forgets about it. Then one day it will just mysteriously disappear...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

One of our spring traditions is to visit a local winery that has beautiful grounds and tons of spring flowers blooming everywhere.

It was gorgeous, and I even warmed up enough eventually to shed my 3rd layer! When I'm down to wearing only 2 layers of clothing you know that spring is definitely in the air!

Later the kids dyed their Easter eggs.

Nat spent a lot of time getting these two just right. They're her little friends now and are not available for consumption purposes any longer!

Friday, March 21, 2008

SAA-Solitaire Addicts Anonymous

An evil little game lurks on my computer and calls to me when I'm at my most vulnerable. I'm sure you're familiar with it. Yes, that innocent looking card game is out to suck away your precious time. Avert your eyes and click at your own peril! I know. I've been there.

I seem to go in spurts of solitaire playing. I can leave it alone for months at a time, but then I get a little bored and decide one game won't hurt, and before you know it I'm hooked again.

Sis and I were in a little competition at one point. She would get a high score and I would beat it, then I would get a high score and she would beat it. Back and forth it went until I plateaued and she kept beating not only my high score but her own. She would leave me braggy little sticky notes on the computer such as, "New high score 7986, Ha ha!" to which I would leave a little sticky note in reply saying, "Whatever", or "Cheater" and the like. When it just got to be ridiculous and I knew that in my wildest dreams I could never touch her high score I left her a note that said, "You suck" (aren't I the model of good sportsmanship and parenting combined?) Sis laughed her butt off. Her high score is now 9431. We play the timed version of the game and honestly I don't know how she does it. She's a solitaire shark. You never want to play her at Mancala either. The kid is ruthless.

Well after that I kind of gave up on solitaire. It just wasn't fun anymore when the highest score I could get was in the low 6000s. I moved onto spider solitaire and that kept me busy for quite a while until I got about the highest score possible on it. It just wasn't challenging anymore.

So back I went to regular solitaire. Instead of playing against Sis, I decided now I would play against the computer. It would give me a percentage of games won along with my own pathetic score, so my new goal was to raise the percentage. I started out at about 25% because of my own bad habit of quitting a game that wasn't going well to go on to another. Now I was determined to win at all costs. Even to the point of hitting "undo" 50 times in a row to see if I could get the cards to go my way.

I'm convinced the computer is aware of my strategy and deliberately gives me unwinnable games. Sometimes it just gives me all the same color, like it conveniently forgot to shuffle in the other color. Yeah, right, I ain't buyin' it. It knows I want to get to that next percentage and it will do anything to trip me up. It lets me win just enough to keep me hopelessly obsessed. It's playing me like a fish on a hook. Sis thinks I've lost my mind, but hey, I'm up to 41% now!

I heard Larry the Cable Guy doing his shtick on owning a computer the other day. He said he might as well just bought an $1800 deck of cards. I tell ya, I'm kind of feeling the same way!

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way of Blogging

I've been a little MIA this week, just because of busy-ness (as opposed to business, I guess).

I started back rehearsing with my old troupe on Tuesday night. We will be performing at our local American Cancer Society's Relay for Life at the end of April. After watching other troupes perform at Rakkasah I am now inspired to re-vamp our old choreographies and "kick it up a notch" plus start working on some new ones. Luckily my troupe mates are into it too.

Suey got skunked. Not enough to make her really stinky, in fact by the end of the day we couldn't even smell it on her, but it was enough to bring the smell into the house and onto the carpets. I got down on my hands and knees and sniffed every foot of our bedroom carpet (not my finest hour, I'll admit) and couldn't smell skunk in any particular spot, but our room reeked of it. I've been using a lot of odor neutralizer and I think I finally got it to go away, well either that or we're just used to it now!

The funny thing about skunk smell is that when it's fresh on the dog like that it doesn't smell like skunk at first (and yes unfortunately I do have experience with this). It smells more like burnt rubber or something. It takes a few minutes for the smell to take on the traditional skunkiness. I think that Suey ran in from getting hit, and rubbed it off on our carpet while we were still wandering around wondering where that burning smell was coming from. But the good news--skunks are a sure sign of spring!

Thursday I spent time in Natalie's class helping the kids dye eggs for today's hunt which I'll be going to help out with as well. It was funny that to some kids dying eggs seemed a little foreign. They weren't sure what to do, whereas others were old hands and even knew about dipping them in one color then in another for different effects. Some didn't really get the concept of the egg being fragile and would plop it into the dye with a thud. There were plenty of dyed finger tips, including mine (and a few cracked eggs as well!)

Then there was the kids' Open House night-a night I always look forward to...we were one of the first there and one of the last to leave. We had to go to the book fair, then visit the girls' classrooms, then we visited the first grade classes so Nat could see what she's in for next year, then we visited nearly all the other classes. Since all my kids have gone to this little school, I know almost all the teachers and they like to know what Cam and Sis are up to now, and the girls just like to be social like their dad.

It struck me that I've had all of my kids go through the same kindergarten room. Each year I've volunteered in the classroom and each year was a lot like the others. The same little projects like the sunflowers in the fall, pandas at Chinese New Year, and portraits of Martin Luther King Jr. I'm very much a veteran of tempura paint and glue sticks. I will miss it now that my last one is finishing up her year.

I'm finishing up my week with last minute preparations for Easter. It's so early this year! I really am not ready yet. I haven't even bought eggs to dye yet. Tomorrow we'll be busy with that, and I know it will be a fun weekend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rakkasah Part II

It was a nice break for me to get away to Rakkasah. I went by myself and left my little girls preparing for a sleep over at a friend's house. This would be Nat's first sleep over ever, so I was a bit nervous to not be able to hover over the phone in case she might need me in the middle of the night. Of course she was fine and that was probably because I was already gone when she got picked up so my anxiety wasn't passed on to her.

I was able to stay at my best friend from college's house on Friday night, and it was fantastic to have time to catch up with her and her family. She, like me, has older kids and younger kids, and when I saw her 2 little girls I immediately missed my own and started "momming" them.

I made the girls laugh when they brought their hamsters out to show me because I picked one up and put it into my shirt like I do with our little hammy, Baby.

The next day I went back to the festival. I had the opportunity to volunteer for a vendor and help at her booth. She was short-staffed so I worked about 4 1/2 hours. My job was to fold purchases, wrap them in tissue, bag them, put fliers in each bag and then offer the customer a piece of chocolate. I know, tough job, but someone had to do it! It was quite busy, so time flew by and we were close enough to see the main stage. After my shift I was paid in store credit, and she was very generous, so I was able to come home with some cool new dance gear and all it cost me was my time!

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching dancers. There were several who traveled from as far Germany and Japan! It was terrific to sit and watch for as long as I wanted without having to worry if someone was bored, or hungry, or needed to go to the bathroom. True freedom for a mom!

I drove home that night and the next day I felt refreshed and invigorated and renewed. So much so that I actually tackled my bedroom, my bathroom AND the girls' room. It's amazing what a little me time can do for my attitude!

Rakkasah Part I

I danced at Rakkasah this weekend! It's billed as the largest bellydance festival in the world and I've always wanted to go, so this year I was determined to attend (as a spectator). However, a friend I met in a class this fall happened to call on the official "call-in" day and got a troupe spot. This in itself was nothing short of a miracle as there is only one day when all the dancers who desire a spot call in to try to get booked. My friend spent 3 hours hitting redial and somehow got through. She requested a troupe spot and quickly made up a name for her troupe. After this she sent out the word that she wrangled a coveted dance spot, but now needed dancers to form a troupe. Of course, I jumped at the chance.

As the event got closer, I kept getting more and more nervous. We rehearsed the Wednesday before, and I kept completely losing my place in the dances and was making stupid mistakes. Strangely when I arrived on Friday my nervousness was gone and replaced with excitement. Just before we went on I thought to myself, "Why aren't I a nervous wreck?" and while I was actually on stage I kept thinking, "I'm dancing at Rakkasah!!!" It was really fun, and I only had one minor screw up. Yay!

I guess the biggest thing is that when I took a local bellydance class some 5 years ago, I would have never thought of myself performing AT ALL, let alone at Rakkasah. You see I had never danced IN MY LIFE. I was so painfully shy that I never went to school dances, didn't dance at my own weddings (or anyone else's for that matter), and always made a point of avoiding any occasion that involved publicly moving to music.

I was so lame that when I started classes, my teacher suggested I take a few private lessons with her before even starting the beginning class. We're talking awkward. For some reason I stuck it out and started really enjoying it. I began to get to know other women who bellydanced and was struck by how accepting they were of their own (imperfect and poochy) bodies and how accepting they were of each other. It was also a great workout for my then 8-month post-prego body.

I find troupe dancing to be rather safe, so now my next challenge is to work on a solo performance.

So I've learned that it's never too late to try something new, and that one should never underestimate their own potential, after all, I DANCED AT RAKKASAH!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Let Me Explain Something

I just had a discussion with a couple of my daycare kids about sharing. It wasn't your usual sharing discussion though. These two boys had found one of Shelby's little trinkets she got at a birthday party this weekend. A cool little Transformer block thing worth about 25 cents, tops.

One of the boys said, "You can't play with that. That's Shelby's." And the other boy said, "Yes I can. It's daycare, I can play with it if I want to." Then they began to argue and Shelby arrived on the scene and confiscated the toy.

The one boy says, "She has to share it with me huh, Lesley." At which time I explained to him, "No she does not have to share it. If she has a special toy that she doesn't want to share with daycare kids then that's fine. She has to share her house and all her other toys, a lot of which get broken and lost. So no, this toy she doesn't have to share if she doesn't want to."

Yes, the sharing rules sometimes have to be bent even for 25 cent toys.

He Always Did Like Bananas...

Yes, this is my son. I'm proud.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Honestly, why do we need to change our clocks twice a year? It's such a pain. I always spend the week following the change looking at the clock and thinking, "Well it's 10:00, but really it's only 9." I really have no desire to fall back or spring forward thankyouverymuch.

This change has got to be the hardest-when we lose an hour. The girls and I could not get to sleep last night. In fact it was 11:30 (really 10:30...) when we finally all got tired and went to bed. We do get that extra hour of sunlight in the evening which is cool, I guess. Then in the fall I love when we get the hour back, but then it gets so dark so early and that's depressing.

Does this make anyone else crazy, or is it just me? And do I need to move to Arizona (aren't they the ones that don't do it)?

---and yes I realize I should apply the previous post to my attitude, and I plan on that...eventually. I need to whine right now people, and I need to catch up on my sleep first!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Extreme Attitude Makeover

So I was watching Extreme Home Makeover tonight. I love that show. I mean, what's not to love about deserving families getting a new home. It always makes me cry in a good way.

Tonight they had a family of 7 who were living in a 600 square foot house. They showed their tiny round dining table and they asked if the family ate there and the mom said every night all 7 of them sit down to dinner together. They must have shared chairs because there were only 4, plus a plastic lawn chair. This mom saw their small home as somewhat of a blessing, because she said that it was a way of keeping her big family close to each other. How cool is that? Instead of complaining, she saw the positive in it. Usually they build an unbelievably huge house, and this time I noticed that the kids had shared bedrooms and the home itself wasn't over the top, well relative to what they usually do anyway.

So I'm going to think of this mom's attitude when I'm feeling down, or that my life sucks. We're really struggling financially right now, but I'm going to start looking at what I perceive as a negative and see if I can find the positive twist to it. And if Ty Pennington wants to come knock my house down, build a new one and pay my mortgage off, well that would work too!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #2

Thirteen things I have run out of this week.

1. TP--yes the dreaded running out of toilet paper happened. My husband "borrowed" a roll from an outhouse at a construction site across the street. It is like very thin, very white sandpaper. Nice.

2. Cascade--I perched my bottle of Cascade on the counter upside down for about 10 minutes and then shook it and squeezed it and got just enough to run the dishes. Yes, it made very rude noises at me, and no, hand washing the dishes is not an option!

3. Milk--there was just enough for me and Nat to each have a bowl of Life this morning (and just enough left in my bowl for my kitties to have their little treat too).

4. Mini chocolate chips--my old standby for a chocolate fix. I love to put a bunch of them in vanilla yogurt!

5. Grape jelly. And not just any grape jelly. I need Mary Ellen grape jelly on my PBJ's or it just isn't right!

6. Pearatin--the only hair product that stands between me and natural dreadlocks. I swear, without this I can barely get a comb through my hair when it's wet, and yes I use conditioner religiously, but this stuff is some sort of liquid miracle in an expensive little bottle.

7. Make up remover--I'm either going to adopt the "raccoon look" or figure out a different way to get the mascara out from under my eyes.

8. Girl Scout Cookies--yesterday. I still have one box of Thin Mints that I planned on sending to Cam. Any wagers if it will actually get to him or if it will be "mysteriously" lost in the mail? If I had my chocolate chips for backup this wouldn't be an issue.

9. Money. My account was negative $3 today. Gah! Luckily Mike has some money to do some grocery shopping after work today. (See items 1-5 for shopping list, above.)

And the last 4 in no particular order; these particular things run out, and are replenished on a daily or sometimes minute by minute basis:

10. Ideas

11. Energy

12. Motivation

13. Patience!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Can We Say "Overwhelmed"?

For the last week the kids room has been a disaster area. I haven't been able to face it. Without my help the girls can't clean it up on their own, so I have been just ignoring it.

Then the mess migrated to the living room because there was no room to play in the bedroom. A bit harder to ignore, but I tried.

Then the dishes didn't get done last night, which has been fairly common in the last week. They were calling to me. Stupid dirty dishes!

Today I finally felt I had the fortitude to start making a dent in my house of chaos and I did pretty well, I must say, but lately I have felt so incredibly overwhelmed I just don't know what to do. It is so incredibly hard to stay on top of the mess while doing in-home daycare. Even with getting the kids to help clean up, it mostly falls on me to keep things organized and put away, and with little bodies constantly on the move getting more stuff out it just gets to the point where I can't keep up and then to the point that I just say, "screw it", but then I cycle back around to the fact that it won't get done unless I do it, and the vicious little circle continues...

I decided that I'm for sure quitting daycare when school is out this year. It's a relief to know that in 3 months, give or take, I'm done. Stick a fork in me! I really couldn't even contemplate doing another summer of full time, full capacity daycare 10 hours a day, every day. My hat goes off to the women who do this for more than 3 years, but for me that's it.

I look forward to when I don't dread coming home after being out for the evening, and to when I can keep the chaos mostly under control.

So today at least, was a good day. I got things done and I don't feel like my walls are closing in on me. The beautiful weather helps too---if nothing else it keeps the kids outside!

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Date with the Superstars

Mike and I had an actual date--just the two of us--on Friday night. This is a very rare occasion indeed. I think the last time we went out alone was sometime last April when we went to see Dr Laura's One Woman Show (I pretty much dragged him with me, but he ended up enjoying it). Even our last anniversary--our 10th, we had to take the girls to dinner with us for lack of a sitter. This time we went to see the Bellydance Superstars.

I bought my tickets as soon as I found out they were coming to our area back in November. I had seen their show last March, and couldn't wait to see them again. My niece was originally going to go with me, but with her on bed rest now, I had an extra ticket.

Mike is always a little bit clueless and I think it's because he really doesn't listen all that well, so he thought I was going to be performing! Ha! I had to explain that this wasn't a festival for local amateurs, but an actual show, with world class dancers. I still don't think he knew what to expect but he was willing to go.

I got fantastic seats, 4th row back right in the center. We sat next to an older couple and as Mike always does, he struck up a conversation with them. Turns out they were locals with season tickets to the performing arts center, and they come to every show. When Mike told the woman that I bellydance, she made a couple comments about him "reaping the rewards" and that maybe I would like a pole installed. Luckily I was in a good mood, and let the comments go. Usually I don't hesitate to put someone straight on the fact that it's not a dance to seduce men with and it has nothing to do with stripping. I just hoped that she would catch on to that by the end of the show.

The show was amazing! These women are so incredibly talented. The producer makes a point of putting on a very high caliber show to help promote bellydance in a positive way as a legitimate dance form and to get rid of some of the old false stereotypes such as the lady next to us expressed.

I realized when I was watching the show, and clapping along with the music, and smiling and oooing and ahhhing at the amazing dancing, that dance really is an expression of emotion for me. My teen daughter has accused me of being robotic in my emotions, and I think that dance is an outlet for me--it's a time that I really let go, in a way. My first teacher always said that dance should be an expression of your soul, and to me it really is.

On our way home, Mike says to me, "Not that you're not a good dancer or anything, but those women tonight were really good!" I told him I was not offended and in fact was pleased that he noticed their level of talent and not just their incredible physical beauty. That really was the whole point, after all. I told him that I know I'm just a "baby dancer" compared to them, but I'm totally ok with that.