Monday, June 25, 2012

my favorite household product

101 Uses for Baking Soda (-86 )

1. Facial scrub. Great for blackheads. Mix with orange juice for some extra vitamin C.

2. Instead of shampoo. 

3. Deodorize your wooden cutting boards. Sprinkle on, and use a wet sponge or cloth (sponges gross me out personally). 

4. Sprinkle on carpet or mattresses before vacuuming. 

5. A counter top scrub.

6. Dip your wet toothbrush in it for a natural tooth cleaner. Mix with peroxide for some extra oomph.

7.  Soak your feet in hot water and 1/2 cup baking soda. Then use a little more as a scrub. Swirl a little olive oil in there and you'll have exfoliated, soft toes.

8. Boost your laundry soap by adding 1/2 cup to your washer.

9. Sprinkle in your teenager's stinky shoes.

10.  Add a good amount to your batch of hard boiled eggs in the water. This is an amazing trick that totally works. The shells slip right off and you won't have dimpled, dented eggs that are only good for egg salad.

11. Deodorize your drains. 

12. Clean your microwave with it.

13. Keep an open box in your fridge for getting rid of last night's Kung Pao Shrimp leftovers. 

14.  Take a box camping. It's your toothpaste, hand scrub, pot scrub, all in one.

All for $1 a box. Go nuts, and buy three.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Plans for the future

In the wee hours, my son is a squatter in our bed. This morning, he shook me awake.

"What?" I mumbled.

"I'm just letting you know that I'm going to snuggle now," he said.

Hmmm, it's an odd brand of snuggling that comes with a warning.

After we got up he proceeded to tell me how he was going to be a grandpa someday and he wouldn't have any hair, just like Nonno and Papa, but before that, he would get to be Daddy.  And then Daddy would move up the ranks, so to speak, and be the grandpa.
"How many kids are you going to have?" I asked.
"Ah. Boys or girls or one of each?"
"Two girls."
"Cora and Anna! Cuz, you know, our Cora is getting too old. She's up to your chin now."
"Yeah, I know."
"But don't worry, Mom, your brain is bigger."
"It is?"
"Well, not really bigger, but it's a lot straighter."


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Six Things That Happened This Week

In case your life was not complete without a rambling list put together by a odd blogger who should be folding laundry right now, have I got a post for you!

This week our dance studio had their big Spring performances which involved a seven hour tech rehearsal, a six hour dress rehearsal, and three shows. I be tired. My feet be hurtin - which is strange because I wasn't the one dancing. I was being a cat herder, a stage manager, and trying to recall at which age it is permissible to say "merde" to dancers. Not the cats, I decided. Also, I was somehow volunteered for the job of climbing up a ladder during Act I in order to strategically place satin cherry blossoms and risk my life. I think I was volunteered because I am 5' 3" so I was the logical choice. Anyway, the shows were great and I didn't cuss out any little sprites in French, which is also great. Also, I didn't fall to my death, which was also great.

My mommy and daddy were here which was also great, because I eat enough for a small continent when 1. someone visits me, or 2. I visit someone, or 3. days that end in "y."  We had rib-eyes and salads with feta and balsamic and salami and cheeses and decadent steelhead and tons of coffee and even went wine tasting at RoxyAnn.

Cora keeps growing or maybe her clothes keep shrinking, but either way, it's gotta stop.

Mike was rear ended by a crazy lunatic who totaled his car and drove off. Now we have to go car shopping, which is not nearly as much fun as it used to be when I was, say, nineteen.

I have to decide what homeschooling curriculum to purchase and then finish 47% of. I keep getting homeschooling catalogues in the mail and I don't appreciate them. I toss them in the trash with a yelp. Like I need more choices. For cryin' in the night, I lose a year in the fabric softener aisle and that stuff isn't even important.

Yesterday we were at the park and Papa gave Gianni a penny to throw in the fountain. This fountain/penny/wish making stuff was new to the moose and he took the tutorial seriously. He tossed the penny. It landed with a plop. Or maybe it was a kersplash. No matter. He closed his eyes tightly and clasped his hands, as if in prayer. Actually, he doesn't do that during prayer - he mostly pinches his sister, steals something off my plate, knocks over his water, and burps loudly. But he took the whole penny shenanigans seriously. Afterwards, being the nosy mom I am, I totally had to take back the part of the instruction I had given him only seconds before and I forced him to tell what his wish was. It was to get a penny with a dog on it. At first, I thought he meant a dog named Penny, which would have made more sense and also been easier to get for the little squirt, but no. He wants a penny with a picture of a dog on it. So, anyway, he waited four seconds for his wish to come true, which in Four Year Old Boy Years is like, three lifetimes, plus five. Then since a penny with a picture of a dog on it didn't drop from the sky, he thought he'd better cement his knowledge of what the word "wish" meant. Papa said it was like having a dream and then having your dream come true. So he laid down on the rock wall and closed his eyes.

"What are you doing?" I asked, taking the opportunity to munch on his chicken since he wasn't looking.

"Falling asleep! So I can dream! I can't sleep! How am I supposed to dream? How will I make it come true if I can't dream?"

The poor guy was really torn up about the whole predicament, so we had to buy him a hot chocolate because I can't afford therapy.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

366 days ago

One year ago this week, our world was rocked. I don't talk about it much for a lot of reasons, but I'll touch on it lightly today so you can understand where we were, where we went, and who we left behind.

We started out naive. People murmured we were crazy to go off and do what we were about to. Well, most of them said it to our faces actually, since we like our friends honest and straight forward like that. Selling every thing you own, after 12 years of marriage and three kids, is a weird thing to do. Trusting that they were just things, made it easier, but not easy. Moving 3000 miles away when your head is about to burst from all the over-thinking you're doing, is an adventure.

Actually, let me back up. Adventure was what we wanted. We were tired of living in an American rut. Working 9-5 just like Dolly, only without the figure. Mike worked and relaxed on the weekends and made the kids pray before dinner and helped with the bed time routine and plugged the holes in the fence with pants. I grocery shopped and homeschooled and went to play groups and MOPs and had a glass of wine in the evenings and changed diapers and potty trained. We got the bills paid, we went on road trips to see family, we exchanged the winter clothes for the summer clothes and vice versa. Life went on, pretty much the same as it had before. We wanted to adopt a baby, but it was too expensive. We went through foster care training, but never got a placement. Cars broke down and got fixed. The dog ran away. Life was uneventful.

So we did it. We packed up the minivan - Ol' Bessie, we call her - and we took a job as house parents for a group home, which is basically an orphanage but you can't call it that. We were told we'd get kids of all ages and genders, good kids, on the edge of the system, children of refugees. There would be safety always, we were told, and our own kids would grow through the process. We could live as we'd always lived, we were told, and just fold these kids into our lives.

The reality was we lived in a fish bowl. We were told what to wear, where to shop, what to drive, where to go to church, how often to go, what scriptures we were read to the kids, how to cook, how to clean (I had to sit through staff meetings on how to properly load spoons in the dishwasher. I wanted to jump out of my skin). We were told we were too laid back, too strict, too organized, not organized enough. There were no safety systems in place, other than the monthly fire drill. We were given seven teenage boys and one teenage girl. They came with baggage I will not talk about here. They had to ask permission to enter a room, and to leave. We were screamed at, there were fist fights, there were cops, there was drugs, there were sexual situations, there was thievery, there were nights I got up and just cried in the living room. I'd think, I want to go home, but we had no home any longer. I was shown that although I thought I had a lot of patience, I had none at all. I learned to be aggressive and to not take any crap from anyone, even if they were two feet taller than me and intimidating. I'd stand nose to ... well, I couldn't reach their noses, so nose to collarbone, and I wouldn't back down. We had kids lock themselves in their rooms, or escape out the windows. My own kids lived quietly on the back burner. I couldn't dedicate any time to them because I was constantly putting out fires. Any time we bonded as a family, we were raked across the coals for not loading spoons in the dishwasher properly. The paperwork was insane. It was a full time job in itself. We had a nice social worker...who was nice. And utterly unequipped to deal with these children, as of course, we all were.

We bonded. You do that when you travel down to the pits with one another. There is no other option. Eventually, down there, you huddle together for warmth. We were the only parents some of them had ever had. They all said I  love you, every one. Not every house parent can boast that.

When we were fired, it was probably the worst day of our lives. We were burnt out, exhausted, wanting out, but never like this. They boys were a mess. I had never seen or heard tears like the ones we all spilled in the kitchen that day. The organization treated us like criminals and removed them from our care with 15 minutes to say goodbye. We had no money and no hope of quickly getting any, since the state looked at our earnings from the year, laughed and said, that wasn't a job, that was a ministry! Our boss, who we thought was our friend, never even spoke or said goodbye. We were dismissed and called names. Whether we were simply not religious enough for our religious organization (of which I could tell tales...but I won't because I'm bigger than they are) or whether there were other agendas, we'll probably never know. I think they made us leave because we cared too much, and so did our kids. We had become a family, and they didn't like that. Maybe it made them uncomfortable. Maybe they thought I was secretly teaching them spoon loading incorrectly. Who knows. I no longer care.

We packed up what stuff we had and got on the road. I had no voice at all because of all the crying and I sounded like a sick frog. Gianni was too young to know what was going on and wouldn't take the goodbyes seriously. He didn't understand he'd never see these people again. The girls were scared because Mommy and Daddy wouldn't stop crying. The dog got neurotic again, like he always does if there's stress. Somewhere in Utah, we ran out of money and gas simultaneously. It was evening and it was a tiny town and they didn't have our bank and even if they did have our bank, they wouldn't have been open. Our debit card was declined because we had gone through too many states in two days so they put a stop on it. I literally thought we were going to be one of those couples out on the freeway, holding up signs for money, sleeping in our car with our children.

No good deed goes unpunished, is all I kept thinking. It was hard lesson, but one I hope didn't make us hard.

The kids call, they text, we Facebook. Eventually we found work and a house and we started collecting all those dumb items we had sold before. It took about 6 months, but we finally stopped dreaming every night about what we went through. I no longer lull myself to sleep by hashing up the past. I don't come up with better scenarios or better comebacks anymore. I don't think about the supposedly Christian group that went out of their little way to hurt us. They'll self-destruct eventually.

There are so many stories and photos and things I could write, things that are bottled up because I'm scared to talk about them. Maybe someday.

This post is linked with Emily:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why you won't be my friend

Originally published by Home Educating Family magazine/blog 
Article reprinted with permission by the publishers and the author (that's me).

So my youngest is at that age now where I start getting evil looks from other mommies in the park. I know why they’re annoyed with me and my frightful parenting ways, but let me take a moment to explain why I do what I do:
I am a very over protective mom, but like every parent, I have my pet peeves, soap boxes, personal creed, etc. For instance, I am very over protective about people watching my children. They could be crazed ax murderers, serial killers, homicidal kidnappers, or lawyers.  You just can’t be too careful. I am also very over protective about the things they learn and just who in the blazes they’re learning it from. Thus the sheltering – er, I meant to say homeschooling. I am very over protective about what they put into their bodies and like the cruel mother I am, I follow in my own cruel mother’s footsteps and serve them homemade granola instead of Sugar Frosted Sprinkled Cocoa Puffed Candy Balls for breakfast (an important part of your nutritious breakfast… when served with eggs, orange juice, toast, and a side of vitamins). I am over protective about the little things like wearing seat belts and having a buddy to take to the restrooms and looking both ways twice before crossing the street.
But here is what I am NOT over protective about (and the source of the evil looks coming my way):
For instance:  climbing. Climbing trees and play equipment is a child’s job. You get strange looks if you leave this part of childhood for when you are fully grown. Trees are made for climbing, folks! And climbing high. We’re not talking one branch up, a mere six inches from the spongey playground floor.  Sure, they could fall out I suppose and then I suppose they would more than likely break a limb, but they could also find a way to fall off your couch while watching other children climb trees on television, land on the coffee table, spill their snack which flings the fork into the air, only to be caught by their eyeball. Life has risks.
Anyway, though, my kids are climbers and this somehow warrants every well-meaning (or perhaps, meddling) parent to approach me and kindly tattle on my own children because they are not swinging properly on the swing at a perfect arc and in a five-point harness; they are instead three stories up in a tree, usually upside down, sneakers untied, ponytails dangling. Instead of swinging, they’re perched atop the swing’s supports. If I’m feeling a bit small from the rebuke I just got, I’ll give a half hearted, “Hey, kids, not too high, ok?”,  but inside I’m wondering if the adult next to me was ever a child. My three gremlins have been climbing since they could walk and yes, something bad could happen. But it wouldn’t be worse than having good old childhood fun taken away from them, or worse: being forced to only go down the slide. Going down the slide is boring, moms and dads. Going up? Going up is fun and requires some know-how, some gumption, a little upper body strength, and toes that grip like a spider monkey’s.
My eldest daughter used to put boys twice her age to shame by the way she’d shimmy up things, no fear, and they’d be staring at her trying to figure it out, and just when they’d get up enough courage, their mommies would yell at them (their names are usually Percival or Egbert or Cyril or something equally manly) and they’d scuttle off with disappointment in their perfectly groomed faces. Now I know we need these boys to grow up to become poets and poodle hair dressers and fashion designers just as much as we need cowboys and truck drivers and alligator wrestlers because together they all make the world go ’round, but I just can’t help being sorry for the boys and girls who are not allowed to play. Really play. With trees and mud and torn jeans and worms and swords and water guns and snakes and snails and puppy dog tails (preferably with the puppy dog still attached however, I do draw the line somewhere). I was at the park just last week and a mother was shouting across the grass at her son a threat to ground him for three days if he even sat in a tree. Another mom at the same time was royally irritated at her toddler because he wouldn’t go over to the proper play equipment but instead wanted to run circles around the tennis courts and splash in the mud puddle. It was as though she was smacking him down for playing incorrectly. Since when are there rules for imagination?
If it’s the end of a long summer day and my kids aren’t grass stained and holey and smell like a gym sock, exhausted and hungry and in need of a Bandaid, then I have failed as a mom. Sometimes I think we as parents need to have a good grounding ourselves, with a day of digging to China and building forts and having snow ball fights and just remembering what it felt like to play. Now, my kids are just as susceptible as anyone else’s at being bored or needing their eyeballs pried off the television with a spatula. Those are the days I unplug everything that has a cord (exception: coffee maker), gently prod them out the back door, and then cheerfully proceed to lock that same door until they get tired of knocking and hollering and yelling that they have to go to the bathroom and wander off in search of fun.
Back in the olden days, by crikey, my friends and sis would take off first thing in the morning, pack a lunch, hop on the bikes or the horses and be gone until dusk, when our bellies were growling for dinner and we could distantly hear Mom calling us home. And yes, it was uphill both ways and in the snow. Now that is a childhood. They only get one you know.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Teaching old dogs to make new friends

The other day, the Hubs and I were watching an old episode of Raising Hope, in our jammies, in bed, probably with a handful of crackers, which is pretty much how we roll. Rollin' in Cheezits. It makes our sheets feel like a salad bar, but such is life. I'm probably the only person who snuggles in deeply with her blankie, lulled to la-la land by the scent of Colby, but heck, if that's wrong, I don't want to be right.

Anyway, this episode was about trying to make friends as adults.

As kids, it's difficult enough and we look forward to the day when everything falls smoothly into place, socially speaking. That day never arrives. It never gets easier to make people like you, connect with someone, really feel that chemistry in a totally platonic way; you know what' I'm saying. And as you age, it's not socially acceptable to smack anyone or pull their hair or demand their lunch money in order to show that you want to be bosom buddies. BFFs. They're hard to come by. My personal creed is to make one per decade and then threaten them that if they ever die and leave me, I will ... - uh, well, I'm a little vague on the details. But I'd be super sad. And friendless.

Seeing as how I'm in my mid thirties and if you do the aforementioned math, you'd see that I have three and one half friends. This is accurate. The one half of one friend are those acquaintances who just may be THE NEXT BEST FRIEND OF THIS DECADE. Of course, I cannot decide until the last rose is given and until they've seen me without hair products or in labor, maybe both. Then and only then, is the title of Bestie bestowed. It's a prestigious honor that not just anyone can handle, as it involves the holding of my purse when I use a public restroom, allowing me to be a second mom to your kid, and French braiding my hair. Occasionally. You know, when the occasion calls for it? Oh, never mind.

Sometimes this search for my new buddy adds added pressure to my life. I search the crowds and think, she's here! I just know it! That woman over there has totally gorgeous shoes and I want her for my friend! That woman there has kids just my kid's ages and I want her! No, no, her! No, wait, that one! Everyone stop and pay attention to me so that I can weed out the lovers of thrift shops vs the lovers of malls! Stand still, this is a delicate process! Stop moving! Wait, why are you all moving away from me?

If I could just put together a questionnaire, it'd go something like this:

1. Will you tell me when I have spinach in my teeth? (the correct answer is no. I'd prefer to find out on my own and hope that no one ever noticed).
2. Will you buy my book? (The correct answer is yes. And all you trolls who insisted I put it in paperback are really bringing me down, man. I've sold 4 copies. 4. And three went to immediate family. You're all in trouble. Trolls, I say!).
3. Will you rescue my offspring from certain death on the days when I just need to veg out and calm down and say, NOT commit infanticide? (obviously, the answer is yes as my kids are too cute to die).
4. Will you meet me for movies and flea markets and paint your toenails with me? (Again, obvious answer, yes).
5. Will you answer my texts about underwater basket weaving with excitement and smiley faced emotions? Like, ten times a day?

And so on and so forth.

But anyway, back to Raising Hope. You really must find this episode( it's in the first season and I think it's called Romeo and Romeo...) because I can't do it justice. Suffice to say, I was laughing and laughing so hard I nearly wet the bed, which would have caused an unfortunate soggy salad bar thing.

Because Mike and I have moved far too much, we are forced to make friends. I say forced, because it is truly like pulling teeth. It's like dating. And I  never dated much. Plus, we are too conservative for liberals and too liberal for conservatives, so it's a delicate web we weave. "Wanna come over after church and watch Harry Potter?"  Is that the sound of crickets I hear?  "How about after the Dave Ramsey retreat I buy you a beer?"  Oh, look...a tumbleweed is tumbling by.

Anyhoo, my point is, thanks to new friends and old who have put up with me. Today we had some luffly newbies over and Gianni got kissed. After she kissed him he was a little enamored with her, so when she was on her way to her car to go home, he reached out for her. She walloped him but good and he lay sprawled in the grass for several minutes after. I think he's in love.

It's not any easier with men. Mike's best opening line a few weeks ago at church?

I just need someone who will talk theology with me sometimes and other times just play x-box and drink a beer.

After a pause, the other man raised his hand.

I am that man.

Wait. Maybe it is easier for men.

Stoopid men.