Friday, June 26, 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

I asked my husband if he would guest blog about the sudden passing of Michael Jackson but no such luck. It's too bad too because while I, like most people, love(d) the King of Pop, Billy is a Michael Jackson fan. At least, that's what his second grade poster all about him read: Billy is a Michael Jackson fan. I looked and looked for the photograph of him standing next to it (I know it's here somewhere) but no luck with that either. I did, however, find the collage I made for his 30th birthday party and on it was one of the photos I wanted to share. Check it out - right there in the middle is a photo of Bill dressed up as Michael Jackson for Halloween in 2nd grade.

If you look real close you can see his one silver sequined glove and a Beat It shirt poking out from beneath his leather jacket. Is that a wig? you ask. No! It's his 7 year old hair DYED and PERMED to look like Michael Jackson's! What's up with his face? His nanny (the woman conveniently located to the left of young Billy on the collage) used her make up to turn him into one hell of a convincing young Michael. I wish I had some of the other photos - you know, the ones of him going to school on a normal day with a jet black jheri curl. I wonder how long it took to go back to normal...

I think it's very sad that Micheal Jackson is gone. He was a true American icon who changed the face of music and video and celebrity forever. I can't even begin to imagine how many people he impacted. Have you ever met a musician who wasn't inspired in some way by Michael Jackson? I haven't. And as a non-musician, he totally changed my life too. If it wasn't for my sister needing to listen to Thriller every night as she drifted off to asleep, I may never have gotten my own room (I couldn't sleep with the music on and she slept on her side so headphones didn't work). Now, I find myself listening to classic Michael Jackson at least once a week. It just makes the house feel good.

It seems so crazy that on the very same day Michael Jackson passed away Farrah Fawcett died, too. I must admit I only really know her from her hair and the poster. I think I was a little young to watch Charlie's Angels when it was in its prime but then again, I never saw Star Wars as a kid either. Maybe it wasn't that I was too young - maybe I was just kind of a dork.

Here's how you know she was an icon: I never saw the show yet I still knew who she was. I got a hand-me-down Farrah Fawcett head (with "real hair" to practice feathering on!) from my neighbor and never for one second questioned who it was supposed to be. And in between fourth and fifth grade, I found a Farrah-esque wig at a yard sale and wore it around the house all summer long.

Yeah, I was totally a dork.

Speaking of hair...

I got a hair cut! Here are some photos Liam took this morning:

It will probably never look like this again because, even though I had years of practice on the fake Farrah head, I still cannot replicate a professional blow out at home. But, then again, these photos were taken after riding in the car with the windows down, drinking beer in the back yard on a very sweaty night, and sleeping all night long. So, I guess there's hope yet.

I like it because it's versatile.

It looks good with a sombrero...

...and a hunter's cap!

Playing dress up is fun.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Because knowledge is power.

Just a quick public service announcement:

Death by chocolate is NOT POSSIBBLE. If it was, I wouldn't be writing this right now. I would be dead. By chocolate. Brownies, specifically. A whole lotta brownies...

Do you remember that Sex and the City episode where Miranda bakes a cake because the one she really wants at the bakery is like $70 and that's just ridiculous even for Manhattan? So then she's home alone with a whole entire Duncan Hines cake (with chocolate frosting from the can!) and everyone knows, This is not going to end well. She eats a slice and then another slice and then, since no one else is around to judge her, a third slice. Then she covers the cake with tinfoil like, Okay lady, walk away from the cake. But then she uncovers it and stares at it for a minute before slicing off a teeny tiny sliver all along one side like you do when even you don't want to know you went back for fourths. Then she shoves the entire slice into her mouth like, What the hell is wrong with me? and throws the rest of the cake in the trash and leaves the room. But then, not 4 seconds later, she comes back and eats more cake. Out of the garbage!

Everyone was watching like Ew, gross! Please tell me she did not just eat cake out of the trash? But I was thinking, That cake was totally taunting her. What the hell was she supposed to do?

It's kind of like that with these brownies. I haven't eaten any of them out of the trash yet but that's just because I haven't gotten to the point where I'm ready to throw them away. We're so close to being done with them, you know? I am certain we can get rid of them the old fashioned way. One thin little slice after another.

Baked goods just don't make any sense unless there are lots of hungry people around to eat them. Two people and a picky three year old are no match for an entire pan of brownies. Typically I know better than to stack the odds against us like this but it was Father's Day and everyone knows Father's Day is incomplete without brownies and Pepsi. My hands were tied.

After I ate several brownies for dinner last night, I woke up this morning with a firm resolve to try harder. I had a healthy breakfast smoothie, took some vitamins and went to a Pilates class downtown that I had never tried before. As luck would have it we were doing lots of twists and other moves designed to help flush out the system and get rid of excess baked goods. I'm pretty sure our instructor was looking at me when he advised us to drink lots of water after class, "not beer or wine or hard liquor" but I think that was more to do with me falling off my ball and getting church giggles in the middle of class than anything else. I mean, there's just no way he could have known I was going straight home after Pilates to eat more brownies. Right?

Anyway, the point is, while eating excess chocolate may be somewhat problematic, it will definitely not kill you. So go nuts. Like walnuts. In, say...double fudge chocolate brownies? With a Pepsi. The Dad in you life will thank you for it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Going, going green.

Drum roll please...

This week I cleaned the bathtub TWICE.

That's a No Mommy Brain first! I mean, where do I think I am, La Quinta Inn? Twice a month, maybe. But twice a week? Never before.

But, I really didn't have a choice. Right after my last post Liam and I were at the grocery store when I accidentally stumbled upon this:

Don't let the natural setting or eco-friendly looking label fool you - there's scrubbing bubbles in there!

Hello, old friend.

I was looking for more Nature's Source Windex which is really great and totally helped wean me off Mrs. Meyer's Lemon Verbena Spray. I could go through that stuff by the bucket full if I'm not careful. It's like crack cocaine. Someday when I'm rich beyond my wildest dreams I will have a whole closet full of Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products (and while I'm at it, my own clothes closet and a coat closet too!). But, until then the Nature's Source Windex is a good inbetweener (not as cheap as vinegar but less expensive than Mrs. Meyer's).

Imagine my surprise when right next to the Windex I saw the little scrubbing bubbles guy staring up at me like, Check it out, lady - I've gone green! I was so excited. I threw it in the cart and raced home to give Liam a bath.

Here he is telling me he's three.

Here he's like, "Is that enough bath crayon for you?"

And here he is going all Sean Penn on me like,
"Get out of here you paparazzi scum!"


I let the crayon sit over night before trying to scrub it off. I would have let it sit for a couple of weeks like usual but we had more friends coming over for dinner last night (frequently inviting people into our home is my trick for staying on top of the cleaning - if it was just the three of us, this place would have fallen apart years ago).

Nature's Source - meet your match.

First I tried scrubbing the bath crayon off with water and a scratchy sponge just so you could see what we're working with. The blue came off fine but the red? Yeah right.

Next I sprayed on the scrubbing bubbles and watched them go to work.

Wahooo!!! It's just like on TV!

Here is the finished product:

Nature's Source Scrubbing Bubbles: Take a bow.

I was very surprised and impressed but also kind wondering, do you think this line of cleaning products is really more eco-friendly than the original? It seems legit but I keep hearing a voice of reason say, "Yes my dear but don't you know that arsenic is also natural."

When this stuff runs out, I'll be sure to try some of the great suggestions you left in the comments. Thank you!

*************************************

In unrelated news, someone opened my bathroom window really, really wide to take an earthy looking picture of some cleaning products and in the process totally broke the frame and let one of the window panes fall into the overgrown depths below.

So, while I may not have to worry about asphyxiating the next time I clean my bathtub, there is a very good chance I will be eaten alive by mosquitoes while I sleep. (Well, there would have been had Bill not placed a magazine over the gaping hole - now why didn't I think of that?)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Don't blame me, I'm high on fumes.

Damn you, generic scrubbing bubbles and your unholy ability to clean a bathtub. You are making it next to impossible for me to fully go green.

I mean, I want to be all eco-friendly and biodegradable or whatever - because it's good for the planet and our health and Oprah has told me on more than one occasion that it's something I need to do (WWOD) - but I also really want to get the bath crayon off my bathtub once in a while. Ain't no vinegar in the world gonna make that happen.

Who needs elbow grease when you've got this little guy?

It's not even me that keeps buying the stuff. It's Bill. If we lived in a Dateline NBC episode, he would be buying it specifically to poison me with noxious fumes. He'd get Liam to draw all over the bathtub with the red bath crayon (the worst offender) and then invite someone over for dinner so I'd be forced to clean it. I wouldn't know until after I'd pulled on my rubber gloves and sprayed every inch of the bathroom with magic bubbles that the window and door were "broken" and I was stuck. Eventually I'd asphyxiate and die - Death by Scrubbing Bubbles - and he'd show up to my funeral with some buxom blond dripping in diamonds he bought with the money from my life insurance policy.

But, obviously, that stuff only happens on TV. In real life, my husband buys scrubbing bubbles because he likes to use them when he cleans the bathroom. Yeah, I know - real life is so much sweeter than the crap on TV.

I have tried to stay away from the scrubbing bubbles but they keep calling me back. There's just nothing I don't like about them. Even the fact that they make the air around me turn to poison is somewhat of a selling point. I can almost always get Liam to leave me alone for five minutes when I cite something serious like toxic gas. My usual excuse - because alone time is good for us - just doesn't have the same ring.

PS - Vinegar? You smell like douche and everyone knows it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

American boy.

Sometimes I forget that we live in Music City USA. Not that we're not surrounded by talented, amazing musicians, because we really are. I mean, how cool is it to turn on the Tonight Show or NPR and see or hear people you know?

The coolest.

But I'm pretty sure the music in Music City USA is strictly reserved for country music which seems totally unfair and is just not my cup of tea. I mean, I appreciate a good boot stompin' tune as much as the next guy and will never pass up an opportunity to raise my beer and sing a little Hank Williams at the honky tonks, but I wouldn't necessarily listen to country music by choice.

Especially not in my car.

My car is typically reserved for NPR (which during the day plays nothing but classical and yes, I'm an old lady who at this rate will be taking Liam to kindergarten in mom jeans) or "hip hop" (a loose translation meaning anything that inspires car dancing).

I like classical music because it keeps small children calm and I'm pretty sure it makes their brains grow but sometimes, like last week when I decided very last minute to squeeze in a trip to the zoo before lunch and it was already 10:30, it keeps them a little too calm. That glassy eyed stare that means a nap is on the horizon is fine right before nap time but right before a long walk around the zoo with two kids and one stroller? Not so much.

So I pulled out the mixed CD my friend Melanie gave me and turned to my favorite song at the moment - American Boy by Estelle featuring my man Kanye West. It perked the kids right up (Liam and the little girl I baby sit for) and by the time we got to the zoo they were raring to go.



Okay, wait a minute. Is anyone else totally shocked by this video? I mean, the whole time I've been listening to this song (which is to say like 10 times back to back every time I get in my car), I've been picturing a saucy duet between Kanye West and Estelle wherein Estelle equals Adele who is a completely different girl!

Adele. Not Estelle.

I'll be honest. I'm actually a little bummed out. I mean, I'm sure Estelle is great in her own way but I really liked the idea of Kanye West getting down with a chubby white girl. Every time I'd hear (not) Adele say, "Don't like his baggy jeans but I'm gonna like what's underneath them..." I'd think, You go girl! Get down with your bad self! The song had a total girl power element to it but now, well, shoot - I'll have to watch the video like a thousand more times to give Estelle (not Adele) a fair shot. Maybe I'll end up liking her just as much.

Liam couldn't care less who is singing with Kanye West as long as they're singing American Boy loudly over and over again. Yes, that's right, it's his favorite song right now too! A few days ago I was listening to it in the car when he asked, "Is this the song we were listening to with Baby Sia?" I told him it was. "Can you turn it up louder?"

So me and my boy have been cruising all over town listening to Kanye West and Estelle on LOUD with the windows rolled down (my AC is broken), car dancing and singing along when possible (me, not him). It feels so much more like summer vacation than when we listen to NPR with the windows rolled up.

The other day we got stuck in traffic downtown and were stopped in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame for several minutes wondering what the heck so many people were doing out and about in the middle of the day. There were old people in American flag t-shirts and bright white tennis shoes crossing the street, groups of girls in cut off jean shorts and cowboy hats posing in front of a statue of a guitar (you might say they had 10 pounds of stuff in a 5 pound sack...), and a large tattooed man in a tank top selling bug spray, sunscreen, and bottles of water out of a big blue cooler (my mom's dream job). As American Boy ended and immediately started again ("Mama, could you turn it up a little bit louder?"), I noticed a bunch of booths and tents and a stage with a big banner that said something about the CMAs.

(The what? The Country Music Association something or other. From what I can gather it's like a week long event with tons of different outdoor concerts and cowboy hats and drunk girls in short shorts screaming I love you! at Kenny Chesney. Good times.)

Ha! We totally cruised the country music festival listening to "hip hop" and singing and dancing with the windows down! I hope the tourists who were within ear shot of my car realized that we appreciate more than just country music here in Music City USA. We like hip hop. Rock and roll. Estelle. Adele. Classical...

A picnic with the Nashville Symphony, June 11, 2009.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The get up kids.

Ever since last week when I put my foot down and decided I would no longer be bossed around by my child, things around here have been almost unrecognizable. That whole, "as soon as he wakes up we'll get dressed and go somewhere" thing has turned us into (dare I say it?) a family of do-ers. We're, like, busy. It's weird.

I thought we had completely outdone ourselves on Saturday and was sure that would hold us over for at least a week or two. Heh. Turns out that was just the beginning.

Sunday morning we woke up with a two hour bike ride. I know! We're totally not that kind of family either. We easily get tired and thirsty and would just as soon be at home watching a two hour bike ride than attempting to enjoy one for ourselves. But, in the spirit of get up and go, we had to do something. It was a pretty day so we pumped up our bike tires and hit the nature trail near our house (Shelby bottoms for you ambitious locals).

Once we got out there we just kept going and going, taking in the sights and sounds and enjoying the feeling of the wind in our hair helmets. By the time we stopped we were clear across town at the Two Rivers Skate Park. I was so blown away! We didn't have a bottle of water or a cell phone or a cent on us (not even my camera...) - and we had ridden our bikes across town. (With Liam on the back of my bike, thankyouverymuch.)

And that wasn't even it for our Sunday! Bill went golfing while Liam napped and then we all went to our friends' house to grill out and watch the kids get naked in the baby pool. We even played darts!

Monday Liam and I went to the beach (which is impressive considering who the heck knew Nashville had beaches? Thanks, Sunshine!).

Anderson Beach - Percy Priest Reservoir.

Tuesday we went swimming at the YMCA. Twice.

Today we went to the art museum and had lunch in a restaurant.

We learned about architecture and Liam built "Nashville, TN"

AND all three days Liam has gone to the YMCA childcare without crying while I worked out.

Who are these people?!

Are you starting to see why I'm not posting that often? Keeping a blog up to date is hard enough but when you're all go go go! all the time, it's nearly impossible. One minute it's 7:20 in the morning - my eyelids are half closed, my coffee cup is half full, my ability to make words out of letters is just beginning to take hold - then the next minute Liam's bedroom door opens and it's like, Oh crap! I almost forgot! Um, um...what should we do? (Hey buddy! Did you sleep well? Let's get dressed!) Think, Mama, think! Put down the laptop!

But it's not just my writing that is suffering. I rushed off to the pool the other day without a proper shave and spent the whole time trying to hide my pube stubble from the 30 or so moms and kids we kinda sorta know. Poor Liam was like Um, mom? I think I can walk. But I had to carry something if I wasn't in the water or under my towel.

I'm definitely not complaining though. Liam has been so much more cooperative and happy. He hasn't thrown a chair at me in at least a week! The only thing he is still struggling with is getting dressed in the morning. He loves wearing his pajamas and pitches a fit every single time I try to change him. (He likes the look of pjs - he thinks they make him look like The Aquabats or DJ Lance Rock. No one he idolizes wears shorts and t-shirts.) But I just do it quickly without reacting to his protest and within minutes it's as if he never cared at all.

Why can't they have a summer wardrobe change?

I have also cut out snacks almost completely which means Liam is actually hungry at meal times! Yesterday he even ate french fries which, I know, it's not like a big step up from Goldfish crackers or even something I should be pushing (don't some people call fries the new cancer sticks?) but it's something new! And that's exciting.

Oh crap! There's Liam! Gotta run...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A beautiful day in the neighborhood.

What a Saturday! It's like we're on a holi-stay or a stay-cation or whatever it is they're calling it these days. Maybe it should just be called life. As in, we had a great day today living life!

It started off with our buddy Owen's very first T-ball game. It seems impossible that our children are old enough for organized sports but I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. Sigh. Owen did great and, even though Liam was feeling a little "melancholy", I had a great time cheering from the bleachers. (Except for when I got in trouble for talking to a couple of little girls who were there to watch their sister. Evidently, some children are meant to be seen and not heard. Ahem.) After the game, we stormed the field to run the bases and play in the dirt.

Future T-ballers? We'll see...

The coolest kid on the team. Just look at that hat!

The entire bleachers were filled with Owen fans and after the game we all headed down the street to cool off with a sno-cone, or rather a sneaux-ball, which is what the New Orleans style treat is technically called.

As you can see, I had cola and Liam had blue bubblegum.
Wearing white was a bad decision.
Jolly Rogue Sneaux Balls is a welcome addition to our neighborhood and a perfect fit parked next to the hot dog stand. As my favorite weenie slinger (and owner of I Dream of Weenie) Alisa likes to say, "WEENIES and BALLS together in 5-points!"

Love her. And her weenies.

As we finished spilling colorful syrup on Mama's lap, our little buddy Dylan tried his best to convince Liam to "come see the plants". Eventually we all followed him and were pleasantly surprised to find a rock show taking place in the middle of the garden shop. You just never know in East Nashville!

We hung out for a bit, listening to music and talking to our neighbors, before heading home for a little lunch and an afternoon nap. While Liam slept, Bill and I lounged around on the couches, eating BLTs, reading books and watching TV. After some really great downtime, we headed to the pool.

Liam loved to swim last year but has been kind of slow to warm up to it this year. He likes to sit on the side and watch, every now and then throwing a ball for Mama or Dada to fetch. When we do get him in the water, he is clingy and fearful and won't let us let go or even just hold onto his hands. I think it might be time for swim lessons.

In typical East Nashville YMCA pool fashion, we got ourselves a groupie the second we got in the water and couldn't seem to get rid of him no matter how hard we tried. He followed us wherever we went with a constant stream of commentary: "Look at me. Look! I'm not even a full grown man and I'm already huge!" and (after slapping the hairy back of some man he didn't seem to know), "I don't even like that guy, I just pretend like I do." and (when we passed a girl who looked about his age - 10? 12?), "Ooh whoo! Hot tamale! Hot tamale!"

Even though we were having a very entertaining time at the pool, we couldn't stay long - we had a kids' music parade to get to! Our neighborhood coffee shop Bongo Java invited kids and parents to meet in the parking lot with a musical instrument and parade around the block together. It was inspired by the owner's son who told his dad he wanted a parade. "What kind of parade?" "Um...a music parade!" And so it was!

Trying to get the kids together for a picture.
Liam's on it - just look at that cheesy grin!


Are we done yet? Did you get the picture?

You guys are way too slow. I'm outta here.

Let the wild rumpus start! The parade route was designated with sidewalk chalk drawings of guitars, drums and music notes and the kids carried balloons and made music as we walked.

Bill told Liam if he marched and sang the entire parade, he would get ice cream at Pied Piper when we were done. So, for the first half a block or so, Liam sang one song after another, breathlessly, as if he was afraid to stop. I could tell he was going to run out of material soon and saw a look of panic wash over his face. I felt bad for the kid. So I struck a new deal - as long as he kept marching and playing the cymbals, the ice cream was his.

I rocked a triangle and we all wore our swimsuits.
Ain't no shame in coming in last. It's all about the journey, baby.

We got Liam his ice cream and made plans to meet up for Mexican food with some of our fellow marchers.

Being in a parade makes us thirsty!

Hungry, too! (Liam's working on his ice cream; we're all still in swimsuits.)

We got to sit on the patio overlooking downtown which was a super way to enjoy the sunset (probably more for me than most - I was facing away from the blinding sun and had on sunglasses). It worked out pretty well for the boys, too. They could go to the far end of the patio where no one was sitting to blow bubbles and bust out drum solos on the chairs without driving our fellow diners crazy.

Paletas. What?

By the time we got home, it was dark and time for bed. On the way into the bathroom to brush his teeth, Liam shrieked, "A firefly! I see a firefly!" I'm not sure if we believed him or not but we all laid down on our bed in the dark to see if we could see it too. Sure enough, a moment later it lit up again! We named her Flicker and ended the day cuddling in the dark, watching her light up our house.

On a scale of one to ten for totally perfect days, this must have been an eleven.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Move over Tony Danza.

Who's the boss? I'll give you a hint. It's NOT this guy:

As you could probably guess, this comes as somewhat of a shocker. What do you mean I'm NOT the boss? You've got to be kidding me. If I'm not in charge around here then why are you and that man always at my beck and call? Huh? Answer me that. I saaaid, answer me that. NOW!

It's the damnedest thing being bossed around by a kid. It's one of those situations I never thought I'd be in because I am totally not a pushover parent. I stick to my word. I enforce the rules. I give time outs wherever I need to (I've left Liam sitting alone in a Costco shopping cart while I went to another aisle for a minute so he could think about his behavior). Honestly, I think I err on the side of being too strict if anything.

But, if that was really the case, our Tuesday morning would have looked something like this:

8:15 - Get up, eat a healthy breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth.
9:10 - Leave for the YMCA.
9:30 - Drop Liam off at YMCA childcare, get a BIG sweet hug, head to Zumba class.
10:30 - Pick Liam up, change into swimsuits, go swimming in the outside pool!
11:45 - Drive home for a healthy lunch, a few stories and a nice long nap.

Instead, it was more like this:

8:15 - Liam gets up, whines about not wanting anything for breakfast, watches TV while his pancake and smoothie sit completely untouched.
8:35 - First attempt at changing clothes. Liam does not want to take off his pajamas. Especially if it means putting on shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Lots of, "But I want to wear long sleeves and fuzzy bunny slippers! I'll be too cold in short sleeves! I'll freeze!" ensues. It's eighty degrees and sunny.
8:45-9:00 - Watches TV naked while I beg him to eat.
9:00 - Second attempt at getting dressed. The clothes are on but he's pissed. And suspicious. "I don't want to do anything! I want to stay home in my pajamas! Where are we going?" I drop the bomb. "We're going to the YMCA for a little bit. And then we're going swimming!" Before I even get to the swimming part, he's lost it. "Just leave me home alone! I don't want to go! I don't like the YMCA!" He's really crying now. Damn. I really wanted to go to Zumba. I try reasoning with him - It will only be for a little bit, Mama always comes back, we'll get to go swimming... - but the more he carries on crying and bossing me around, the more it starts to affect me. After a few minutes, I'm pissed.
9:15-9:45 - Fight with a three year old.
9:45 - Take the fight outside so our neighbors can see what a good mom I am.
9:50 - Stubbornly drive to the YMCA despite the fact that class will be halfway over by the time we arrive.
10:00 - Realize I am in no mood to play nice with others. Flip the car around and keep driving. Get mad at Liam all over again.
10:05 - Pull into a Shoney's parking lot to take deep breaths and have a heart-to-heart with my son. Apologize for yelling and getting mad. Tell him that he needs to be able to go to the YMCA once in a while or he'll have to go back to school. Decide to drive to a different YMCA to go swimming.
10:15 - Try to ignore Liam talking about how great it will be to go back to school.

I swear, about 99% of the time I'm a really good mom. I don't yell. I treat my child with respect. I do the right thing. But then along comes that pesky 1% and totally undermines all my hard work. I mean, how do you get mad at a three year old? It's insanity!

By the time Bill got home that night, I was still mad (he always corrects me - you're not mad, you're angry - but I think this time I have it right). I had spent all day stewing and was in no better mood than if Liam had been screaming at me right then and there. Liam was fine, of course, and had totally gotten over our little fight hours before. While it makes me happy that he's able to let go of things and move on, it also makes me feel guilty and embarrassed that I'm more stubborn than he is. Even when mid-fight he says things like, "Just be happy, Mama," or "Do your lips like this (pushing the corners of his mouth up into a smile with his little fingers)" I still find it hard to give in.

I went to my hip hop dance class which always helps me shake a bad mood and came home feeling like a new person. Bill was on bedtime duty which was great for two reasons: 1) I was off the hook, and 2) he got his own taste of Bossy McBossypants (and even lost his own temper a little!). While he didn't come anywhere close to having a knock-down-drag-out like I had, he did see just enough to understand why I was feeling beaten down.

We had a long talk and realized that while we're pretty strict with some things, we're sort of loosey goosey with others. Yes, Liam has good manners and would never even think about going in the street without permission, but he also tries to call the shots whenever he can. Case in point: If I want to go to the YMCA, there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't go to the YMCA! End of story. I don't need to ask my three year old for permission; I need to tell him what to do.

Because I'm the Mommy, that's why.

So Bill and I came up with a game plan. Every morning when Liam wakes up, I will get him dressed immediately in what I want him to wear (he'll have more choices eventually but for now, I need to reclaim my throne). Once he's dressed and has been given breakfast, we'll leave the house right away. If he doesn't eat, fine. If he pitches a fit, fine. No matter what, I will not get upset. I'm not going to whine or beg or try to convince him to go along with my ideas. I don't even have to tell him where we're going! I'm just going to do what I need to do to get us both out the door as quickly and painlessly as possible. No matter how he responds, I will stay positive and unaffected. Never let him see me sweat!

After Tuesday, which felt like the lowest of the low, the rest of the week has been relatively great. I moved his big boy bed into his room without asking if it was okay or wondering if he would be upset and you know what? It has been an absolutely seamless transition. I even went to Zumba yesterday! As soon as we pulled into the parking lot of the YMCA, Liam started crying and saying, "I don't want to go there!" (as soon as we walked through the front door, he stopped himself: "I don't want to go here!"). I left him in the kids' room crying but was not the least bit surprised to return an hour later to a happy, cheerful boy who was reluctant to leave his new friends and insisted on saying goodbye to every last person we passed on our way the door. "We'll see you next time!"

Of course, we still have some work to do. Last night, for example, we were watching Yo Gabba Gabba! together when I started singing along to one of the songs. Liam freaked out. I mean, like totally lost his shit. He was screaming, "Don't sing! You need to stop singing!" and crying like he was going to hyperventilate and die. Bill and I looked at each other like WTF? and I kept right on singing (which was not easy considering how hard it was not to laugh). I even took my character voice, which was painfully bad to begin with, up a notch, making it even more high pitched and nasally. He was stomping his feet and flailing around screaming, "Stop singing! You need to stop!" When he picked up his chair and threw it, we decided that was enough.

After a time out (that Bill and I sang through from the living room), we had a long talk about choices and control and the fact that he doesn't always get to make choices or have control. Someday, sure. But right now? No. (Three year olds make bad decisions.) If Mommy wants to sing, Mommy is going to sing. You can ask her nicely to stop, leave the room or ignore her. But you cannot throw a chair or tell her what to do. And that's not just for singing. In fact, pretty much across the board, throwing chairs and telling Mommy (or Daddy) what to do are always going to be no-nos.

(Here's a video of Liam singing the song. He sings much better than I do but it's my house - I can sing if I want to!)

video

I will be working on my own rules as well. I have to remember (and not just 99% of the time) that my reactions can take the slightest blip of a misbehavior and turn it into an all out tantruming war. If I can just focus on what Liam told me in the Shoney's parking lot, I am certain everything else will fall into place.

"Liam, when you get mad, I get mad. And when I get mad, you get mad. Do you see what I mean?"

"Let's just be happy, Mama!"

"Okay. Yeah. That's a really good idea."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Inspired.

I was having a little morning writer's block so I went on Facebook looking for some inspiration. This is typically a very bad idea. Facebook may seem fun at the time but really all it's doing is wasting our time. Right? I mean, is there an easier way to blow 30 minutes without realizing it? Nope.

But sometimes, like this morning, we forgive its time sucking ways and appreciate it for what it has to offer.



30 minutes for a totally funny video interpretation of a song I secretly love? That's a deal I'll take every time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Almost paradise.

I try my best to be a bloom where I'm planted kind of girl, enjoying where I am at the moment instead of always wishing I was somewhere else, but ever since we returned from vacation, I can't help but feel a little discontented with the here and now. I blame these amazing backyards we were lucky enough to hang out in:

I mean, you've got to be kidding, right? Who knew it was even an option to have a beach in your backyard? Don't get me wrong, we love Nashville and we've got a great backyard, but come on. Once you know such awesome possibilities are out there, it's hard not to get a bad case of the wants.

Since picking up and moving to the beach is not really in our cards right now (although we're perfectly open to it if you've got suggestions), I decided I would need to do something to what we have to make it more like what we want. Like build myself a backyard beach! I mean, how hard could it be? All you really need is a little sand and some water. Add a couple of beach chairs and an umbrella and you've practically got your very own five star resort!

I was picturing something like this accentuated with a beach entry pond:

I mean, really. Could that be much cooler? (Click the photo for more info.)

There's a low spot in our grass that we affectionately call the sink hole - you would never notice it unless you were chasing after a soccer ball and suddenly felt your legs disappear beneath you - that we thought would be the perfect place for the pond (we'd hardly even have to dig!). One side would have a mini waterfall for ambiance and functionality and the other side would gently wash onto the sandy shore of our very own beach - essentially the back corner of our yard filled with sand. I could sit under an umbrella with my feet in the sand while Liam made sand castles at the water's edge. It would be like we were on vacation all summer long.

But then some friends came over for dinner and told us that the pile of sand they have in their backyard has become an enormous cat box that stinks to high heaven. Bummer. They also mentioned that our good ol' sink hole probably is a sinkhole (an old, unused cistern) and may or may not be the best spot for a water feature (unless we were hoping to add a well or a super deep diving pool).

Good to know.

We still really wanted our own little piece of paradise so we decided to improvise. Instead of a crazy deep pond washing onto our very own cat box beach, we decided to go with an inflatable kiddie pool and a covered sand box. Not quite as exotic but probably a lot smarter and more likely to happen in this century. And as long as the end result is my family spending time outside together, I'm happy.

We spent almost the entire day yesterday working on the project. By the time we were done shopping, blowing up not one, not two, but three baby pools (a big one for swimming and two small ones for sand and water), removing all the grass, rocks, walnuts and sharp objects from a 6' circle in our yard, and filling everything with sand and water, we were pretty stoked. Our backyard beach was a far cry from what we initially wanted but we would have no problem making the most of it. A whole summer of fun in the sun stretched out before us and we felt like a couple of kids on the last day of school.

We couldn't wait to show Liam.

But he woke up from his nap kind of late and we had a birthday party to get to (totally fun, by the way) so we didn't have time to play before we left. We quickly showed Liam what we had done and then spent the rest of the night talking on and on about how much fun we were going to have in the backyard. Our excitement was contagious - by the time we were ready to go home, even Liam was inviting people to come swim in our new pool.

So, you can probably imagine how we felt when we got home and found that the not-quite-a-beach-but-pretty-great-anyway-pool we had spent all day inflating and setting up and filling with water was already entirely flat and useless.

We were deflated.

I instantly blamed the cat because that's the reason we have pets - so they can take the blame for things. But today, after spending more time than I'd like to admit scouring every last inch of the stupid pool, I have to let her off the hook. I cannot find a single scratch or claw mark or any hole whatsoever. In fact, I have absolutely no idea why the pool went flat. Or what the heck I should do about it now.

The whole situation is making me kind of pissed off. Which is stupid, I know, but that's just the way it is sometimes. I think I just have beach envy and vacation withdrawals. Try as I might, this:

Is never going to be this:

And this:

Is really making me miss this:

The fact that our home has been ruthlessly invaded by fruit flies and pet hair is not helping the situation. I was planning to just go in the backyard and ignore the whole thing but now that that's not an option I'm not sure what to do. Thank goodness we still have a front porch to retreat to. If that let's us down, we're running away.