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Friday, October 31, 2008

ToT for Unicef and a not so charitable Top 5 list

The folks over at UNICEF have figured out a way to combine old-fashioned charity -- trick-or-treating for UNICEF -- with new-fangled technology -- text messaging.

You can "text or treat" for UNICEF by texting the word “TOT” to 864233 (UNICEF) to make a $5 donation and help UNICEF save kids’ lives. The $5 is charged one time to your mobile phone bill.

Click here for more info.

Now on the not so charitable front, keep reading...

Top 5 candies I will definitely steal from my kids' ToT loot:
  1. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Vanilla Tootsie Rolls
  3. Chocolate Tootsie Rolls
  4. Snickers
  5. M&Ms
Then, once I'm done sneaking what I want, I'll let them keep 30 pieces of candy and will buy back the rest for a $5 gift Target gift card. That way, I don't have 500 pieces of candy begging me to eat it and the kids don't have 500 pieces of candy rotting their teeth.

They don't love the idea, but I feel like the $5 gift card is a good exchange. Of course, when I take them to Target to spend their gift cards, they'll probably want to buy candy.

The family that is awake together...

...will probably be crabby together tomorrow. It's 12:47am and everyone but Annie and Dungy is awake. Seems like insomnia must be a genetic trait in our house.

I'm awake because I fell asleep in the bathtub earlier and got a little re-charge, until I awoke in extreme neck/shoulder pain, which is probably a good thing so I didn't drown. So now I'm finishing up some work while catching up on my DVRed shows.

Mike just emerged from the basement, where he was doing something in his office. Maybe work. Maybe watching videos recently resurrected from his high school days and uploaded to Facebook.

Charlie had a bad dream about falling off a cliff and woke up screaming. I felt bad for him -- he was really scared when I got up to him.

And Robbie is awake for some unknown reason. Maybe Charlie's screams woke him? At any rate, he's awake too, having had his own six hour re-charge.

Right now, this is feeling like a 3am night. As in that's about the time it seems I'll be shutting down for the night. This is not a new issue for me. I am generally fairly nocturnal.

Fortunately, tomorrow is Halloween, so there will be enough sugar around to keep me -- and the rest of the family -- raring to go.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I survived the pumpkin patch...barely.

I chaperoned Robbie's class trip to the pumpkin patch on Tuesday. I was worried about being freezing, so in preparation for the trip I bought new gloves and pulled out my snow boots. In hindsight, I should have bought Depends and scheduled a post-patch appointment with a massage therapist or chiropractor -- or both.

pumpkin patch

The day turned out to be pretty nice. A little chilly, but the bright sun kept us warm enough. We -- 17 kindergarteners, 2 teachers and about 5 parents -- breezed our way through the "easy" corn maze. Unchallenged, we opted to try the "intermediate" maze. I headed up the group and let each kid have a turn at deciding which path we should choose. I didn't bother to tell the rest of the adults that my husband might argue that putting me in charge of directions might be criminally negligent. But the kids were making the decisions, anyway, so I figured we'd be ok and we were, although somehow, even though we entered the "intermediate" maze, we came out at the "hard" maze. Guess we were just overachievers.

From there, it was on to the haystack and the inflatables, where the kids jumped up and off and on, wearing themselves out to their little hearts content. Not much learning going on, but a great activity for kindergarteners nonetheless.

It was at the second inflatable -- the caterpillar -- that my initial injury occured. Inside the caterpillar was a slide. To go down the slide, you had to be able to climb up the slide, which was tough for several little girls who were creating a back up. Now, why I decided I would go in and hoist those girls up and over is not quite clear to me. In hindsight, I should've said "if you can't climb up, you can't slide down." But really, who would say that to adorable kindergarten girls with little orange and black ribbons in their hair and winter coats in 100 shades of pink?

So I crawled in through the caterpillar's mouth -- a lovely sight from the rear, I'm sure, made my way to the slide and started lifting, pushing and tossing those cuties to the top of the slide. On about the 5th and final girl, I felt something snap in the muscle between my left shoulder and my neck. Game over. Got to get out of here now.

Of course, any sane woman would have turned around and gone out the entrance. But not, I had to try the slide. I'm praying that video does not exist that shows what looks like the caterpillar having a seizure as I struggled to climb the slide, heaving and rolling the sides of the inflatable as I tried to force my not so slender self over. Finally, I tumbled down the slide and landed in the soft mud at the end of the caterpillar's butt.

It was almost time for the hayride and the pumpkin picking. After a short detour to watch a T-rex chomp and spit out a few pumpkins (which was pretty cool, I have to admit), we loaded on to the hay wagon. The trip out to the pumpkin patch was short and enjoyable.

Rob & Mom & pumpkin

The trip back, however, had me wishing that I'd gone to the bathroom before we left and adding "call the chiropractor" to my to do list. Let's just say the shock-less ride in a tractor over enormous ruts on a path around multiple fields made my bladder loose and my already aching shoulder tight.

I'm happy to report that the repercussions on my bladder were short-lived and unnoticeable. My shoulder however is still leaving me wincing in pain and as of this morning has made my left arm somewhat numb.

Would I do it again? If it means spending time with my little guy, you betcha. As long as I can spend time with the massage therapist right after.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: The Election Edition

Don't forget to vote!

United States of America

Sweet vote

Note: This is not my kid. But I loved his costume at the school Halloween party!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

His and Hers DVRs

Tuesday night is Biggest Loser night in my house. Once I get the boys in bed, Annie and I sit down to watch and discuss who we hope goes home that night.

Often, by the time we are ready to watch, the show has already started. No worries. I have the DVR set to tape it every week. Besides making sure we don't miss a single challenge or trainer tip, watching Biggest Loser on the DVR allows us to fast forward through the commercials.

Tonight was no different until...

...the weigh in had just started. After winning the challenge, the blue team decided that Michelle's weight loss wouldn't count toward the black team's total this week. She weighed first and only lost 2 lbs, which minimized the blue team's advantage.

All the commercials before the show teased that tonight someone was going to have the biggest weight loss in the show's history. Bring on the next contestant...

But NO! All of the sudden the show stopped. The DVR was full and the recording stopped before the end of the show. GRRR!

So, I went to the list of recorded shows and here's some of what I found:

Godzilla -- 3 hours
Star Trek -- 2 hours
20th Century Battlefields -- 2 hours
Meet the Press -- 1 hour
Transformers Animated Series -- 2 hours (oh yes, that's Mike's show, veiled as a choice for the boys)
Jurassic Fight Club -- 2 hours (another one "for the boys")

So because my nerdy (yet lovable) husband wanted to indulge his inner geek, I was denied the opportunity to commiserate and celebrate with my fellow fatties.

To be fair, there were also a handful of my shows in the recorded list:

Ace of Cakes -- 1 hour
Desperate Housewives -- 2 hours
What Not to Wear -- 2 hours
Food Network Haunted Gingerbread Challenge -- 1 hour

(Boy -- what a picture that list of shows paints of me!)

Some couples will tell you that one key to wedded bliss is separate checking accounts. I think that his and hers DVRs might be just as important.

So -- if you watched the Biggest Loser tonight, PLEASE tell me who had the record weight loss and how much it was, what the reactions were all around and who got voted off.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's rain, not rocket science.

The fifth game of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays was suspended tonight because of rain.

Pretty simple idea, right? Well, apparently the people who watch ESPN are either too dense to understand something so straightforward or have forgotten that baseball is indeed just a game because the sports network played FIVE minutes of a press conference discussing why the game was suspended.

Now, admittedly, I don't enjoy baseball. It's too slow and I'd rather not watch grown men re-arrange themselves while spitting nasty brown stuff on the ground. So, I probably don't have a proper appreciation for the fact that this could have been the deciding game of the World Series.

I only caught this press conference because I didn't bother to change the channel after the Colts mixed performance in their loss against the Tennessee Titans. Sigh...

I was happily checking my e-mail when my attention was drawn to the somber proceedings playing out in front of me on the TV. By the tone of the speaker's voice, I thought that someone had died or had at least been indicted for steroid use. But no...all the hushed discussion was about precipitation.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig spoke about being "nervous" in the 4th inning and about making decisions with "trepidation."

C'mon Bud. It's only baseball. It's not like you were trying to decide whether to put your ailing dog to sleep or how you were going to tell your wife that you forgot to get her a birthday present.

As if Bud didn't communicate it clearly enough, he passed the mike over to one of the umpires who spent too much time to say, essentially, "it was raining buckets." Pseudo-meteorologist #2 then handed the mike to yet a third person who at least seemed to have an understanding of how un-hard the situation was to grasp.

"That pretty much covers it," he said, going on to say that they stopped the game when the slipperiness of the ball threatened to make the game "comical."

Which is exactly what this press conference was.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


So I went to this women's fellowship meeting at a Missionary Baptist Church yesterday, which may not seem significant or out of the ordinary, except for the fact that I am a cradle Catholic.

But my friend Jane invited (read: blackmailed) me to go with her. She's been inviting me to attend one of these gatherings for six years. Sometimes I've declined because of legitimate conflicts. Other times, I've turned her down for fear of having my Catholic-ness corrupted.

Yesterday, I tried to tell her I couldn't go because I had plans to clean out Annie's room and that was going to require a large dumpster and a haz-mat suit. So she offered that if I went with her, she would come help me with Annie's room.


"How long are we going to be gone?" I asked.

"Well, we'll leave here at 2pm. The fellowship is from 3 to 5pm," Jane answered. I figured I could manage that.

So, we drove to the south side of town to where Jane lives to pick up a couple of other "sisters" who would be attending the fellowship meeting as well. Now, in my faith, "sister" means one of two things. An actual relative who shares the same parents -- or a nun. These women were neither.

As Jane was driving to the church, I recognized the names of many neighborhoods, apartment complexes and streets -- because I'm used to seeing them on the nightly news in connection with a shooting or other violent crime.

"What have I gotten myself into?" I wondered, thinking that if I got shot Mike would be eternally perplexed as to why I was in that area of town it the first place.

But I trust Jane and just said a little prayer that my heart would be open -- and that no one would ask me if I've been saved.

We arrived at the little cinderblock church and went in to set up the meal. In addition to getting help with Annie's room, I was going to get to eat Jane's cooking, which is always delicious.

As I walked to the kitchen, which was directly off the sanctuary, I notice a large red drum set right in the front of the church. I think the Pope would faint.

The fellowship was set to begin at 3:00pm. So at 3:45pm, things got underway with a prayer over the food. Now, the most common Catholic prayer before meals starts with "Bless us, O Lord and these thy gifts..." and is pretty short. Can't let the food get cold!

But this was an extemporaneous prayer that started soft and slow, then quickly gained speed and volume. It was led by Sister Someone, but as she went on..."and Father we thank you for your presence here..." other women chimed in "Amen to that!," "Yes Lord!" and "mmmhmmm!"

Prayer was over, the food was on and the fellowship study was about to begin. The topic of the day was having a servant's heart -- a lesson I can certainly use some schooling in. Sister Williams made copies of the lesson for me and I just listened as the discussion went on.

I was pretty amazed at how these women -- there were about nine in the room -- could quote Scripture like I quote...well nothing. I can't quote anything like they could spout Bible verses.

I have to admit that my brain wasn't fully there all the time. I was thinking about what I needed to do when we got home. Of course, I didn't have a watch and Jane informed me the two clocks on the wall were both broken. But finally, Sister Someone asked for the time. 5:09pm.

"If I could have just 15 more minutes of your time," she said.

Sister Someone was determined to end on praiseful note. She offered up two Scripture passages -- Old and New Testament -- that talked about how the Lord does not change. (Of course I can't quote them to you here.)

Then, she really got going.

"If you have an need in your life, ask Jehovah Jireh -- the Lord who provides!"

"Amen! You know it!," cried the other sisters.

"If you have an ache or an illness, ask Jehovah Raffa -- the Lord who heals!"

"Praise Jesus!"

"If you want to know what's going to happen tomorrow or next year, call out to El Roi -- the God who sees!"

"Hallelujah! Amen!"

About 30 minutes later, Sister Someone asked Jane to lead the final prayer. I love Jane and I've asked her to pray for intentions before. But when that woman prays, she PRAYS -- long and hard. So she started the closing prayer, again soft and slow, and again like Sister Someone's opening prayer, got faster and louder. The other women in the room seemed to catch the spirit from the air and echoed with their own shouts of praise.

Then all of the sudden, someone started singing the kind of singing I've only seen in the movies. The soulful, joyful, clappy singing. It was what my Annie would call a "Praise Jesus! Hallelujah!" moment.

When it was finished, many of the women thanked me for joining them and I genuinely thanked them for having me. The invited me back and I said I'd think about it. Frankly, I'd like to see that big red drum set in action sometime.

Now, before my mother faints reading this, I'm not going to abandon Catholicism. But being there was a good reminder that we are all -- regardless of our denominations -- children of God.

And it was 6:30pm.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Honestly, Officer, it was just a little mix-up...

Mike called me this morning from his parents house around 8:30am -- which is 7:30am in Southern Indiana. I was a little surprised to hear from him so early, but even more surprised when he said, "You're gonna want to blog about this!"

Apparently Charlie woke Mike up early this morning and said, "Dad, I want to get my Nintendo DS." He had left it in the car when they arrived at my in-laws last night.

"I'll get it in a minute," Mike told Charlie as he rolled over to go back to sleep.

A little while later, Charlie woke him again. "Dad, I want to get my Nintendo DS but the door is locked."

Realizing that Charlie had already been outside and didn't know to turn off the security system before he opened the back door, Mike quickly got up. Heading downstairs in his boxers and t-shirt, he saw the back door standing open and heard the soft "beep-beep-beep" of the alarm system, indicating that the silent alarm had been triggered.

Mike walked to the back door and reached for the knob of the storm door just as a police officer was reaching for the knob on the other side of the storm door. The officer moved back quickly and put his hand near his holster.

"Sorry, Officer, there's been a mix-up," Mike tried to explain. He informed the officer whose house it was and that he was visiting from out of town.

"My son wanted to get his video game from the car and opened the door without turning off the alarm."

The officer seemed unconvinced.

"I can get my driver's license," Mike offered.

"Yeah, you're want to get something," the officer answered, though upon hearing the story, I wondered if the officer was referring to Mike's driver's license or his pants.

"The security company has already called a neighbor to come over, too," the officer informed Mike.

The neighbor turned out to be Buck, Mike's 89-year-old grandmother who said, "Well, now I know that you made it to town!"

A few minutes later, the officer was on his way to a real emergency, Charlie was breathing a sigh of relief that he wasn't arrested, the rest of the house was awake and hungry from all the excitement, and I had a topic for today's blog entry.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My new favorite number

For as long as I can remember, my favorite number has been 7. Not real original I know, but whenever someone says "pick a number," 7 is what I come up with. But not today.

Today, my new favorite number is 48. Why?
  • Not for the 48 contiguous states of the U.S. (can't leave out Hawaii and Alaska)
  • Not for Indianapolis Colts tight end Justin Snow (though he does have beautiful blue eyes)
  • Not for the book 48 Days to the Work You Love (I've never actually read it)
  • Not for the 48 flavors of ice cream offered by Morgan's Dairy Bar and Calf-A (though if I ever get to North Carolina, that's gonna be my first stop)
The reason that 48 is my new favorite number is that the next 48 hours are ALL MINE! Blissfully, independently, quietly ALL MINE!

It's Fall Break and Mike left with the kids to visit his parents until Saturday night. We were all going to go and I was really looking forward to it. But work has been crazy busy -- I have about three projects due by November 1 and there is just not enough time to get it all done. On top of that, my house looks like a Goodwill store exploded inside of it. And I've been so overwhelmed by it all that by yesterday morning I could barely breathe and felt on the verge of a breakdown. (Well, breakdown might be a tad dramatic, but I am not a crier and I was crying.)

So, my 48 hours will not be spent eating bonbons and sleeping in (ok, well maybe I'll sleep in a little). But I can work without interruption and without feeling guilty that it's the kids' Fall Break and I'm sitting in front of the computer while they are glued to the TV. Instead, they'll be spending time with GoGo and Poppo, going to the children's museum, out to dinner and probably to see High School Musical 3. And Mike will hopefully get a little extra rest as well, since his Mom and Dad can look after the kids a bit.

In addition to work, I'll be happily and ruthlessly getting rid of anything in this house that is worn out, does not fit or that I'm tired of looking at. I'd like to think that I can have the entire house finished by Saturday night. Alas, I realize that I am only one woman. But if I can tackle the first floor, my bedroom and Annie's bedroom, I'll be happy.

As incentive I've planned a movie night out with the girls (though so far no one else has said they can come). And if I'm really on a roll and get LOTS done, I'm going to the cheap Chinese place next to the dry cleaner for a long overdue mani and pedi!

Boy, I hope Mike doesn't read this blog. I'd like him to believe I'm here slaving away. No sense in letting him know that I've built in a little vacation as well.

So, until Saturday evening, my favorite number is 48. At which point, it will change to 40 -- for the 40 days until my annual holiday shopping getaway.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Walrus Mind Meld

walrus, mind meld

Mike is the real photographer in our family, but I actually took this picture of Robbie and the baby walrus at our local zoo. It's one of my favorites.

For more (semi-) wordless photos, visit Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I can't take it much longer.

I don't know what it is about a looming vote that brings out the worst in people. I am just so over it -- the negative campaigning against the opponents, the nastiness, the veiled threats, the calculated scheming.

If things don't improve soon, I'm not sure I can keep watching The Biggest Loser. I'm beginning to wish it was like American Idol and I got to have a say in who stays and who goes.

If I had my way, Heba would have been gone last week. My "ick" antenna has been up about her since she and her husband Ed (kicked off a few weeks ago) double crossed the Gray Team. Then last week she got all mad because Phil ate some Reese's cups without permission, so she used the power she won in the challenge and banished him to the other team. She's vindictive and arrogant and also, I think, dumb.

Heba can't see that Vicki and Brady (formerly the Brown Team) are playing her. She thinks they've got some great alliance built up and that they're watching her back. Yeah, watching it so they know just where to put in the knife when it suits them.

These two are total schemers. I'm pretty sure they fabricated a story about Phil tonight just to make Heba hate him more. If Heba makes me feel "ick," then Vicki and Brady make me feel "ewwww," as in "I just stepped in something slimy."

I suppose the good news is that I don't have to wait until November 4 to cast my vote about this show. All I have to do is reach for the remote.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Musical beds

I have mentioned in this blog before that I have some sleep issues. But truth be told, the sleep challenges are actually a family affair in our house. To help you understand, I've drawn this little diagram that illustrates the musical beds that took place here just the other night:

Sleep Drawing

Please try to follow along. There will be a quiz at the end.

Dad starts in Mom & Dad's bed and moves to Robbie's bed when Robbie calls for him. Charlie is already in Robbie's bed (didn't want to put away the clean clothes on his bed). Dad sleeps in Robbie's bed for a little bit. Mom (that's me) is asleep on the couch. Annie and Dungy (the cat) are sleeping in Annie's bed. Dad moves back to Mom & Dad's bed. Robbie cries and Mom moves from the couch to Robbie's bed with Robbie and Charlie. Annie moves to the couch. Charlie moves to Mom and Dad's bed because Mom and Robbie are snoring. Robbie pees in Robbie's bed and moves to Mom & Dad's bed. The alarm goes off and for some reason everyone is exhausted.

Got it? Let's see how closely you paid attention.

The quiz:
1. Where did Mom wake up in the morning?
2. What bed was empty in the morning?
3. Who did not move all night?

(Play Jeopardy music and insert Unisom commercial here.)

The answers:
1. Hugging the edge of Robbie's bed so as to not be laying in the pee spot
2. Charlie's bed (except for the clothes still waiting to be put away)
3. Dungy the cat

Maybe I should wear my pedometer to bed. It's a shame to miss out on all that nighttime movement.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Guess it depends on your perspective

Since I started this blog in July, I think I've done a pretty good job of not skewering my husband for the kind of minor transgressions that husbands tend to commit and wives tend to blow out of proportion. Today, however, I am choosing to break my silence.

In mid-August, Mike moved his business to our basement office. With the kids all in school all day, it seemed to make sense to save the rent money he'd been paying and take advantage of the quiet in the house.

I know from having been a freelance writer for several years that one of the perks of working from home is the opportunity to take a few minutes here and there to throw in a load of laundry or get dinner started.

Jennette Fulda, aka, Pasta Queen, recently posted a recipe for Crockpot Applesauce Chicken that sounded easy and yummy. I knew we had all the ingredients for the recipe at home, so yesterday from work I sent Mike this e-mail:

To: Mike M.
From: Amy M.
Subject: Can you do this for dinner? Needs to cook all afternoon.

Crockpot Applesauce Chicken

4 frozen chicken breast halves or thighs (in the freezer)

1 1/2 cups of applesauce (in the fridge)

1 yellow onion, chopped finely (use the leftover onion that's in the fridge)

1 T apple cider vinegar (in the pantry on the shelf w/the blue canisters)

1/4 tsp cinnamon (in the cabinet above the toaster oven)

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced (use garlic powder -- in the cabinet above the toaster oven)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional) (think we have some of these in the cabinet above the toaster oven)

  1. Put the frozen chicken pieces into your crockpot.
  2. Add the onion to the crockpot.
  3. In a bowl, mix the applesauce, vinegar, garlic, and spices together.
  4. Pour on top of the chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours, or on high for 3-4. Serve with rice or quinoa.

Seems easy, right? I mean I even told him exactly where in the kitchen he would find the ingredients. Apparently "easy" means something different to me than it does to my husband.

Now, I don't know if the "needs to cook all day" scared him. Or the "serve with rice or quinoa" (what is quinoa?) was the turn off, but this is the response I got:

To: Amy M.
From: Mike M.
Subject: Re: Can you do this for dinner? Needs to cook all afternoon.

you're joking, right?
A little too labor intensive

This from the man who thinks nothing of spending an hour moving a 37-inch TV, connecting it to three different video game systems and then hooking the whole thing up to the surround sound for optimum gaming experiences.

But taking 10 minutes to throw basically three ingredients into a crockpot and walk away is too labor intensive.

Guess I won't suggest that he sort the laundry today.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Don't hire a colorblind label writer.

"white" glue

Or alternatively titled, "Don't buy generic glue." For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here.

How to break a heart in 5 words or less

This morning as I was dropping the kids off at school, I said "Everyone give me a kiss."

Annie and Charlie quickly complied. But Robbie, my baby (ok, he's 5-1/2, but he's still my baby), said, "I don't need a kiss."

Ouch! My heart is breaking again on the recall.

"Well, I do," I told him.

Thankfully, he obliged. Otherwise, I might have had to go home, crawl back under the blanket and hide from the fact that my baby is growing up.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday morning lessons at Starbucks

It's barely 8am on Monday morning and already I've learned 3 valuable lessons:
  1. Pack your lunch.
  2. Use the drive-thru.
  3. Clean out your purse.
In fact, all 3 lessons stemmed from a single incident. I dropped the kids off at school this morning and realized as I was leaving the parking lot that I'd forgotten to pack my lunch. So I decided to swing into Starbucks to pick up something. Unsure of what I wanted, I chose to go inside rather than use the drive-thru. That way I could check out all the salads, sandwiches and fruit plates in the case.

Being a die-hard Diet Coke drinker, I'm not really used to the Starbucks crowd. I casually noted that the line was made up of mostly well-dressed, executive-type men. I walked over to the cooler, selected the "protein plate" -- hard boiled egg, cheddar cheese, mini bagel, apples and grapes -- and took my place in line.

"That's $5.40," the cashier told me.

At which point, I reached into my purse and whipped out my wallet with such force that something went flying out and landed right at the foot of one of the well-dressed, executive-type men. We both reached down to pick it up and realized at the same time that it was a maxi pad!

Well-dressed, executive-type man backed off. I quickly picked up the plastic wrapped instrument of embarrassment, paid for my lunch and made a mental note from here on out to pack my lunch, use the drive-thru and clean out my purse.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why Charlie will get the biggest inheritance

I love my children. All 3 of them -- equally, well, as averaged out over time because, you know, they each have their moments. But I think I'm going to have to leave Charlie the biggest inheritance.

It's not because he's my favorite -- seriously, I don't have a favorite. No, I'm going to have to leave Charlie the biggest piece of whatever is left of my estate (which won't be much anyway if Wall Street keeps it up) because I owe it to him. Poor Charlie...forget the college fund, this kid is gonna need a prepaid therapy account.

What I am about to describe to you is, to borrow a phrase from modern literature, a series of unfortunate events. All unrelated, all un-premeditated, but all which could paint a picture of me as a rotten mother.

* When Charlie was just a baby, about 4 or 5 months old, I accidentally put Icy Hot on his diaper rash. Twice. Let me just say in my own defense that the two tubes looked remarkably similar from behind to a woman averaging 4 hours of sleep a night.

* When he was about 2 years old, he hurt his arm, so I took him to the ER to be checked out. Only we didn't quite make it to the ER in an expeditious manner because I locked him in the minivan...with the keys inside...with the van running...with Charlie still buckled into his car seat.

* When he was 3 years old, I decided to try the "let him run around naked" potty training method. It had worked well with Annie --only she didn't have eczema. The first time Charlie peed down his legs, it stung so bad I had to put him immediately in the bathtub. That was the end of that training method.

* When he was 4 years old, he hurt his arm at preschool. I DID take him to the doctor that time. She looked him over and said she didn't think it was serious and I didn't press any further. Over the next few days, he played as usual, though by the end of the night, would baby that arm a bit. About a week went by and he fell while we were at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. It was quite obvious by his reaction that something was wrong with his arm. So I took him to the ER, where x-rays revealed a "wrinkle" fracture in his wrist, likely from his first accident at preschool.

* When he was 5 years old, I accidentally closed the sliding door of the minivan on his hand. He was ok, but I felt guilty for a good while.

Fortunately, years 6 through 8 were pretty good. Then of course, there was the Eating Crow incident this fall. (He got his cast off on Friday and is wearing a splint for added protection for a couple of weeks.)

And now tonight. I had just put fresh sheets on his bed and had just covered his eczema-ridden legs with ointment. It was time for prayers, so I turned off the light and plopped down on the bed next to him -- or so I thought.

I'm not sure what registered first, his voice crying out or the lump that was his bad arm under my body. After I stayed a bit to a.) comfort him and b.) make sure I hadn't done damage to the arm, I headed to my room and wrote myself a note.

"Increase Charlie's inheritance. Again."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A supersize revelation

Like many American families, we often hit Costco on Saturday mornings to re-stock our pantry and to scam the free samples available at every turn. On a recent excursion, we walked into the store, pausing for a few minutes to watch Speed Racer on a line-up of big screen TVs. Moving on, we began to pile our oversized cart high with:
  • a giant carton of 3 dozen eggs;
  • a box of frozen waffles that could feed our family of 5 for several weeks;
  • a super-sized pizza;
  • a bag of frozen mixed vegetables the size of my bedroom pillow; and
  • a 2-pack of ibuprofen that might have been intended for the entire defensive line of the Indianapolis Colts
On this particular morning, I exercised great restraint and told the kids that we could not buy:
  • a box of muffins, each bigger than a softball;
  • a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough that would make enough cookies to put the local Girl Scouts out of business;
  • an economy-sized bag of potato chips; and
  • a bag of Halloween candy big enough to treat every kid in the neighborhood, twice.
There were, of course, other things that were on my shopping list that I didn't purchase at Costco, including reading glasses -- I barely need one pair, let alone 3; paper plates -- where would I store 1,000 paper plates?; and a box of 500 band-aids.

No trip to Costco would be complete without a quick trip up and down the book and DVD aisles, and then a pass through the tables of clothing. With Fall weather approaching, I thought I might pick up a few new shirts for myself.

That's when I discovered that this mecca of supersize, oversize and economy size apparently does not believe in plus size. In light of that revelation, I'd like to suggest a new slogan for the wholesale giant.

Costco: Big on stuff. Small on fashion.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I was beginning to get a little worried.

I looked at the calendar the other day a little surprised at the date. I hadn't been paying attention and didn't realize that it hadn't arrived yet. So for the past week or so I've been expecting it, anxious for it to show up. But nothing.

I started to get a little nervous. Certainly it had to arrive soon, right? I mean, usually it's like clockwork, arriving by the end of September, for sure. Now it was a week into October and still nothing.

Maybe this is just how it is when you get older? It doesn't arrive with the predictability of your younger years?

But finally, yesterday, as I was walking through Target it showed up...

My Christmas shopping obsession.

Can't wait for more funny stuff? Check out!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lessons learned in 15 years of marriage

Fifteen years ago today -- October 9, 1993 -- Mike and I got married. We were (too) young and in love and declared that love in front of 300 of our closest friends and other people our parents told us we had to invite.

The priest who married us told us that the key to a long and happy marriage is "communicate, communicate, communicate." Our families gave us advice like "never go to bed angry" and "marriage is not 50/50 -- it's 100/100."

We took it all in and practically skipped into our "happily ever after." (I told you we were young.)

Over the past 15 years, I've learned a few things:
  1. "Communicate, communicate, communicate" sometimes sounds like "nag, nag, nag."

  2. E-mail is the best way to make a "honey do" list -- it leaves you with an electronic rebuttal to "you never told me that."

  3. Mowing the lawn really is man's work, especially when the woman is too weak to get the mower started.

  4. Laundry really is woman's work, unless you don't mind fishing for your clothes in a five-load pileup on the couch.

  5. The side of the bed you choose on your wedding night is yours forever, so choose wisely.

  6. Being married with three kids is ALOT like having four kids.

  7. My style of parenting is not the only way -- it's the right way, but not the only way.

  8. Hiring a babysitter and getting out of the house without the kids is important. Even better if you actually do something together.

  9. When your husband tells you how much he paid for something unnecessary, automatically add 20% to his answer.

  10. You don't realize how fat you are when you're both getting fat together.

  11. If you want an honest answer, ask your wife. (Is my hair thinning?)

  12. If you want a politically correct answer, ask your husband. (Do I look fat?)

  13. When he said, "All I ever really needed to know I learned from Star Trek," he was serious.

  14. When his parents say "thank you, thank you, thank you for marrying him," they are serious.

  15. "In-laws" is not a four-letter word, though they may occasionally cause you to mutter a few.
Happy 15th Anniversary to My Huzzzband.
Love, Your Wyfe.

If you liked this, check out "Wedding Vows: A Reality Check."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: "Darkness Follows"

In honor of my Star Wars loving husband of 14 years, 11 months and 364 days. I found this picture through Stumble Upon. (There I go breaking the "wordless" rule again.) For more wordless wisdom, visit Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Jumping for joy: A new look for my 50th post

When I started blogging last July, I promised myself a treat when I reached my 50th post. And THIS IS IT!

Contrary to my usual self reward of Maggie Moos, this time I treated myself -- or more accurately my blog -- to a new look. Dontcha just love it?! Thanks so much to Lindsay at Designs by Splat for the awesome new home for the 4th Frog.

Of course, there are plenty of other thanks to be given:

* To my dh Mike, who provides mucho technical support in the form of uploading pictures, blurring out identifying information and other techno-type stuff that I don't have a clue about -- remember, I'm a technofraud.

* To my three tadpoles -- Annie, Charlie & Robbie -- who provide great fodder for this blog.

* To Diva Mom Vicki and Sharon of the Bird's Nest who have been blogging for much longer than I have (Sharon recently logged her 1,000 post!) and who have introduced me to some great ideas, including Wordless Wednesday.

* To the members of the Smaller Indiana writer's group who led by example, convincing me that I should jump in and start this; blog

* To those people who are reading (I can see you -- or at least where you are from -- in the Live Traffic Feed), but not commenting. Although I love comments like frogs love flies, I'm happy that you're here to read.

* To "Jill" who gave me my first frog chotchke -- a lighted ribbiting frog keychain -- I love it!

* To my family and friends who just might be sick to death of hearing me say, "I think I'll blog about that!"

If you're not covered in the above list, thanks for stopping by. Hope you come back soon -- and bring some friends with you.

So, whether you're visiting for the first or the 50th time, please leave a comment and tell me how you like the new look -- or whatever else is on your mind.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bursting my bubble (bath)

We've lived in our current home for a little more than 10 years. We moved here from a 30-year-old, 3-bedroom ranch with no basement. When we started thinking about moving and considering what kind of house we wanted, Mike really wanted to build. Although I would have been happy moving to another older home, I agreed to new construction with one caveat.

The new house HAD to have a garden tub with whirpool jets.

As construction got underway and we began to choose paint colors, carpet and trim packages, not surprisingly, the costs of construction began to rise. So one day, Mike said to me, "You know, that whirpool tub is $1,500. We could really save a lot by going with a plain garden tub."

Now, if I were a more sacrificial, fiscally responsible wife, I would have nodded my head and said, "You're right, dear. Whatever you think is best."

But I wasn't. And I didn't. Instead, I think I said something like, "No way! That tub is the ONLY thing I have an opinion about in this house and I am not giving it up."

It wasn't that I was just being stubborn. It was that after three years of bathing in a cramped tub stained rusty with iron deposited by well water, I was looking for a little luxury and relaxation. I was looking for this:

(And yes, in my bathtub fantasy, I was a skinny diva with flowing hair and flawless skin.)

But like most mothers, I've come to accept that dreams and reality are often on divergent paths. Oh, don't get me wrong. Grand bubble baths do take place in my whirlpool tub. But unlike the "relax" picture above, they look more like this:

Fast forward to tonight. Cooler temperatures have arrived. My body is weary from too much time spent in the car, from too little sleep, and, alas from the sheer effect of nearly 40 years logged on these bones.

The kids are all asleep. Mike is engrossed in the new Knight Rider series. These are the times that my garden tub with whirlpool jets were made for. So, I headed for the bathtub -- MY bathtub -- and this is what greeted me:

There was no Godzilla with one arm in my relaxing bath dream. No triceratops waiting to impale my tush, no giant squid or miniature pterodactyl.

When we built this house, had I realized that the kids were going to take over the only space that I planned to call my own, I would have called dibs on the washer and dryer.

If you'd like to read more bubbly fun, check out Humor Blogs.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Burns me up

About six months ago, our 4-slice toaster died. It had served us well for 8 or 9 years. But when it gave out, I decided to upgrade to a toaster oven. So I did my research -- read up on toaster ovens on, talked to people about their toaster ovens, went several times to the store to look over the options.

Basically, I spent way too much time obsessing about a kitchen appliance the size of a bread box. Finally, I made my selection and brought home a EuroPro toaster oven big enough to cook a 12-inch pizza.

And it does cook a 12-inch pizza pretty well. It's great for bagel bites and french fries. Chicken nuggets for two small-ish kids. No problem.

But what my toaster oven can't seem to handle is toasting. It doesn't toast evenly on top and bottom, so you have to reach in and flip your bagel or bread or whatever. Never had to do that with my dearly departed 4-slice toaster.

Most regrettably, it doesn't have a "doneness" sensor. In the past week, I have burned 6 frozen waffles, 2 pieces of bread and 1 bagel.

And then I did what as a child I swore I would never do when I was a mom.

I took out a knife and attempted to scrape the burned layer off the top of the waffle, bagel or whatever, smothered it with a condiment -- syrup or peanut butter generally -- and tried to pass it off as breakfast. Never mind that the waffles were so hard they could have been used as frisbees, the bagel for a hockey puck and the pieces of toast as stone tablets for the 10 commandments.

So, here I sit. Pining away for my old 4-slice, while my kids have started asking for "just cereal" for breakfast. Can't say that I blame them.

(PS -- Another thing that burns me up is that I was going to share with you a picture of this morning's waffle disaster, but Blogger won't let me upload the photos. Use your imagination!)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wedding Vows: A Reality Check

It may not be June or February, but love is in the air around here. Tomorrow, we're headed to Cincinnati for my cousin's wedding. Next Thursday, Mike and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Our friends Denise (of Adventures in Painting fame) and Jim just celebrated their 15th yesterday.

So I find myself reminiscing about my wedding, pausing to recall the vows we made:

I, Amy, take you, Mike, to be my husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

And vice versa.

And I wonder what those vows would be if we stood before family and friends today and pledged our love to each other. I think they would go something like this:

I, Amy, take you, Mike, to be my husband. I promise:
  • to try to always park left of center in the driveway
  • to not act disappointed when you come home from the Red Box with "Iron Man" instead of "Made of Honor"
  • to pretend like I really care that the Cubs have lost two in a row at home in their first chance in 100 years to go to the World Series
  • to not try to pass off macaroni-n-cheese as dinner (very often)
  • to try not to roll my eyes when you tell me you can't get out of bed because you have a cold -- or to at least turn my back before rolling them
  • to encourage you to "have some fruit" when you say you're hungry and want to order a pizza
  • to let you sit around in your boxers and watch Serenity once in a while
  • to immediately dial 911 when the day comes that you have a stroke hollering at some idiotic call/amazing play in a Colts game
I, Mike, take you, Amy, to be my wife. I promise:
  • to believe you when you say you need a new pair of shoes, even though you have 17 pairs in your closet right now
  • to fill your gas tank when I see it getting low because I know you don't like to do it
  • to not sigh in frustration (too loudly) when you complain that the computer is broken, when really it just needed to be plugged in
  • to not smother you with the pillow even though your snoring could wake the dead
  • to suggest that we skip dessert, and then to not say anything when you order it anway
  • to go to the store for feminine supplies, even if it does cause me to lose my man card
  • to put up with your online Scrabble addiction, er, hobby
  • to upload your pictures, download your songs and in whatever other ways possible to be your own personal "Geek Squad."
Now that's love.

What would be included in your "reality vows?"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Try this at the office...

Looking for a way to inject a little fun into your workday? Try this game I call "Hello? Is Anyone There?" Here's how it went down at my office the other day.

Many of us in my department have offices along the same hallway. One of my co-workers -- let's call her "Jill" -- has the office two doors down from me. Jill is alternately the flightiest and the smartest woman I know. Because she would eat me alive if I tried to go head to head with her on strategy or project management, I take great delight in exposing her clueless side.

About mid-morning on Tuesday, I heard the clop-clop-clop of Jill's shoes in the hallway. After she'd gotten about 3 or 4 feet from her office, her phone rang. CLOP-CLOP-CLOP-CLOP sounded as she double-timed her way back to answer it, arriving a few seconds too late.

"Darnit! I hate it when people hang up before I can get to it," I heard her say to no one in particular.

At that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head.

So I waited for the next opportunity, which came about 20 minutes later. Clop-clop-clop -- Jill left her desk again. As soon as I heard her heels strike the hallway, I dialed Jill's extension. After the first ring, I heard the rapid CLOP-CLOP-CLOP-CLOP. Then I quickly hung up before she got within reach of the receiver.

"Ugh! Again?!" she cried out.

And again later that hour, upon the sound of her footsteps, I dialed the four numbers to her office, giggling to myself.

"Hello? Hello?" Jill called into the phone, obviously irritated. "This thing isn't working," she asserted, sure this was another failure of office technology.

Throughout the course of the day, I dialed Jill's extension numerous times -- on at least half of which I heard her fruitlessly running back to pick it up and growling at the dead air that greeted her. This was too much fun to keep to myself, so I let a few people in on the gag and even got the boss to fabricate a reason to summon Jill so I could dial her back again.

Now, the success of this ruse was based on my correct assumption that Jill was oblivious to the fact that there is a LOG button on the phone. At the end of the day, when I decided to 'fess up, I was nice enough to show her the log feature, displaying my own extension on her call log 16 times!

After calling me a few expletives, Jill, always a good sport, laughed and vowed her revenge. I'll keep my eyes open -- as I'm plotting my next move.

Wordless Wednesday: "Time Flies"

Visit Wordless Wednesday to find links to some really amazing wordless entries.