Archive for September, 2008

My reputation proceeds me

I lived in the land of the environmentally conscious.  We fight for open spaces.  We’re tree huggers, literaly.  We recycle.  We reduce.  We reuse.  And we bring our own bags to the grocery store.  Here in the valley, the environmental bug hasn’t caught on so strongly.  I rarely see anyone bringing their own bags to the store, let alone someone living in a tree for reasons other than financial.

I bring my own bags with me almost always.  Did you know that Savemart gives you a nickel for bringing your own bags?  Who knew that being environmentally conscious could earn you some money.

Sometimes if I’m not buying a lot I will flat out refuse the bags.  “Paper or Plastic?”  “Neither, thanks.”  The poor baggers, it always throws them for a loop.  I tell them, “I’m just trying to save the environment, one plastic bag at a time.”   It’s my tag line.  When I forget my own bags at home, I have them shove as much as they can into the plastic bags.  It goes against all of their bagging training.  They have such a hard time putting more than two things in a bag.  I throw out my tag line to encourage them.  I’m just trying to save the environment, one plastic bag at a time.

I  say it often.  It’s cute and rather ingenious, if I do say so myself.  I’m bringing environmentalism to the stay-at-home mom crowd.  Maybe I say it too much though.

Last night at the grocery store I bought the necessities:  2 gallons of milk (because we drink a LOT of milk), 3 loaves of bread (because I have a family of locusts parading around as kids) and 2 bags of brown sugar (its a major ingredient in everything goood).  I forgot my bags in the car.  I told the bagger I didn’t need a bag.  I had my reusable ones in the car.  He must have remembered me.  He didn’t give me any gruff.  The bagger from the next aisle raised his eyebrows and said, “No bags?”.  My bagger said, “She’s saving the environment, one plastic bag at a time.”

Awesome!  My tag line used by someone other than me.

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McKayla wants to babysit. She wants a babysitting empire. She bought a book at the bookstore, she made business cards, she’s signing up for a class. She has the babysitting bug. She wants some of her own hard earned cash.

Like always though, I ruin her life. I’m so mean and never let her do ANYTHING!!! I just think eleven is too young to be responsible for some one else. I definitely wouldn’t hire an eleven-year-old to watch my babies. But then, I’m so MEAN!!!

Despite what she thinks, I’m trying very hard to give her more freedom. To let her test the waters of responsibility. Last week she had her big babysitting break. She watched my friend’s 3-year-old, Jackson, while we walked around the park. We were always within a few hundred yards. We walked and gabbed. McKayla watched her brother and a three-year-old.

Every time we walked near the playground, the little one would make his way over and I’d remind McKayla she was watching him. We’d convince him to go back and play and keep walking.

When we finished walking we called the kids over and McKayla said the dreaded sentence: “Where is Jackson?”

My heart nearly fell out of my chest. I tried not to panic, we looked around the park, we looked around the field, and finally we turned around and Jackson was about 100 yards behind us. Who knows how long he’d been walking behind us.

McKayla was closest and she walked towards him. This middle aged lady comes charging towards them, “Does this kid belong to you? She starts to yell? She begins to get louder and starts to lecture my daughter. We walk over to find out what the problem was.

The lady starts yelling, “What kind of mother walks so far ahead of her kid? I walked behind him making sure he was okay, he said he belonged to you, but we couldn’t believe that a MOTHER would be so careless”. We thanked her but she wasn’t ready to stop lecturing us. She wasn’t ready to let it go. She yelled at Elaina for awhile. Then she went to a group of moms and started to share her heroic experience.

Elaina was mortified. She was upset. I joked that we got to be table conversation for dinner. Maybe even blogged about.

When we got in the car, I yelled at McKayla about how lucky she was that we found Jackson. He could have been kidnapped. He could have gotten lost. Child Protective Services could have gotten involved. Basically I scared the crap out of her and made her feel really really bad. I felt really bad.

I felt really bad because McKayla should have known better. She’s the oldest of five. I felt really bad because I was terrified for Elaina and Jackson. But honestly, I felt really bad because as mothers we are supposed to stick together. We all make mistakes. I’m sure this won’t be the last mistake we make. I’m sure this won’t even be the worst one.

That other mom just idly sat by as a bystander and waited for something terrible to happen. She could have yelled to us and told us that Jackson was behind us. But she didn’t. She wanted to scare us and make us feel bad. She could have encouraged Jackson to move faster. She could have ran up to us. But she didn’t. She waited for us to fail and then she made us feel bad about it. Where was her sense of sisterhood?

I know that I do it too. Sometimes someone I know will do something stupid and I won’t say anything. I’ll just let them do it. Maybe I don’t say anything because I’m waiting for them to fail to make me feel better as a mom. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to step on any parenting toes or offend or seem like a know-it-all. But when one of us fail, we all fail. Who cares about our egos? Who cares who’s the best mom? Who cares what others think about us? Who cares about any of that.

We’re all here raising our kids. Raising them the best we know how. We all screw up. Sometimes much more worse than others. Sometimes we screw up out in the open, sometimes in the quiet of our own home. But we all screw up. We need to extend a little grace to each other, we need to always have each others back. Because we’re all moms and we all fail a little bit. Mostly though we fail more often than we want to admit.

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I was making dinner the other day and I heard this little voice say “Mommm-muh”. I replied with my standard response, “Nate”. Because we play this game a lot. He says my name like it’s the beginning of a conversation. He says it like he’s just testing it out. He calls it out like a declarative sentence. I probably hear him call me 1,000 times a day, and I never get tired of it.

He called me a few times until I finally looked over and he was sitting in the doll buggy. He was waiting for me to take his picture. Talk about a ham. That kind of stuff makes my ovaries overact.

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messy room

Please notice: all the clothes on the floor, the trash bag (why?), all the drawers open, the bed, the lamp on the floor, did I mention the clothes? The expensive American Girl dolls sticking out from under the bed. The mirror facing her bed, umm who can sleep with a mirror facing your bed?

I read somewhere that a messy room is a sign of growing up. It was an article about tweens. I’m pretty sure that it was in Parents magazine. I didn’t read the whole thing because, well, that’s just the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard. That kind of logic means that all grownups are messy and that little ones are neat. I’m sure they must not have seen how tornado-like the babies are. If I would have read the whole thing it may have had something to do with claiming space and making things their own. The kind of psycho babble I just don’t do well with. I don’t care though, clean your room!

I did read the side column with helpful hints. It had things like “shut the door”, “buy lots of baskets and shelves to help them stay organized”, or “work together”.

Maybe it’s because I’m turning into my mother. I expect more than just shutting the door. Having expensive things means that you are responsible for them (doesn’t that sound like something a mom would say). I don’t want to find your ipod laying on the floor under a pile of dirty clothes. Seriously, I paid good money for that clarinet, put it in it’s case and on the shelf.

I have learned that baskets are just a short name for quick-stuff-everything-on-the-floor-in-them-so-mom-doesn’t-see junk collectors. It’s amazing the amount of junk/crap/trash that I find in all of the “organizational” baskets.

Work together to an eleven-year-old is torture. Torture for both mom and daughter. I get irritated by all the crap shoved everywhere. Books under the stuffed animals? jewelry in your bed? paper stuffed in your underwear drawer? It’s a trial in patience. I’m sorry to say that I lose it more often than not. McKayla gets irritated by my purging. “Don’t throw away those pencil shavings. Sarah gave them to me from her favorite pink pencil”.

I know that I just need to be more on top of her. I need to make sure she cleans her room. Because if I let her clean it on her own whim, it will end up like our turtle tank; swampish and green, she’ll be sloshing through dirty clothes and trash. If only she’d do it compliantly without complaining and whining. If only that wasn’t a part of growing up.

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Nathaniel is sick. Again. He is the kid that if anyone is sick in a five mile radius, he’ll get it. if someone was sick at the park a couple of hours before, he’ll get it. He’s my perpetually sick kid. When he does get sick he takes FOREVER to recover. A cough lingers, the nose runs for a couple more days, he needs to sleep longer. This is the kid that I’m going to have to pump up with vitamin C and echinacea and force him to drink lots of orange juice. While on the other hand Jacob is Thor. He never gets sick. When he does, it’s quick and painless. He may whine a little louder, but he usually recovers rather quickly.

A couple of weeks ago they got sick. Nothing big, a runny nose, a little cough. Now two weeks later, Nate is still sick. He’s not hospital sick, He’s not pathetically lethargic sick. He’s more of a lingering cold sick. He has a cough though. Not a deep throaty cough, but a kind of dry, tickle-in-your-throat cough. The kind of cough that keeps everyone awake.

Last night it was a marathon coughfest. After watching 300 Dave and I finally went to bed at 11:30. Side note: This was the most violent movie ever. Limbs being sliced off, arms chopped, eyes missing, walls of dead. It was gross. Serious and gross.

We laid down. The coughing began. Or maybe continued, I don’t know we were watching loud gory battles. We brought Nathaniel in our bed. He fussed and tossed and turned. We put him back in the crib. I tried to tune it out and fall asleep. But I’m overprotective and worried he’d choke in his sleep. So I went in and rocked him and loved him and rocked him some more. I laid him back down. He threw up. I changed the sheets. I changed him. I rocked him and loved him and rocked some more. I laid him back down. He threw up again. This happened 4 times. Thank goodness all the puke was contained to the crib, but I ran out of sheets. By this time Jacob is awake. They’re both crying and coughing. I brought them into my bed. They coughed and tossed and turned and coughed. At about this point I was grumbling, “I need my sleep to. For the love of all things good GO TO BED!” I put them in bed together. They cried. They coughed and around 3 they FINALLY fell asleep. I stayed and checked on them a couple of times, but I figured if Nathaniel threw up, someone would cry and wake me up. I finally went to bed.

They woke up at 7. 7! Now, at 9 am, we’re all heading back to bed. To cough and sleep.

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Don’t jinx it.  But I have a potential friend coming over today.  Instead of taking a nap, I’m cleaning my house.  Because you know, the kind of friend I want is the one that judges me by how dirty my floor is.

Marshall invited all the boys in his class to come over for lunch.  We only had one rsvp.  And the mom is courting me to be her friend.  She’s coming too.  So say a little prayer that more than one kid shows up and that this mom and I have something in common besides 8 year-old-boys, and that I don’t run out of caffeine.

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our yard…

backyard before pictures, originally uploaded by chanelireli.

I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden.
Abraham Crowley
The Garden, 1666

Enough said. That speaks to my heart. Now who wants to help us master our garden?

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Turns out I’m an Ageist

that photo is jake’s random cuteness that everyone should be subject to.

I guess there could be worse things to be. I could be a sexist, or a fascist, or a racist, lucky me, I’m only an ageist. I’m not even sure if I’m a hard core ageist. Just a little bit discriminatory on first glance. I think old people are totally capable of lots of things. Ghandi was hecka old (do you like that Manteca slang?), but totally qualified for the job. Einstein was hecka (there it is again, I’m trying to blend okay?) smart when he was old. Lots of old people are good at their jobs and good at being grandparents (I think that was ageist in itself). It’s not so much that I don’t think old people are capable, just when I’m out whoring for friends, I’m a little dismissive of the “older” crowd.

I wrote about the older mom at my table at mops. The cool mom, but older. She was TOO old to be my friend. I got a few emails from my “older” friends. Friends who haven’t seen 29 in awhile. Of course they were too classy to outright call me an ageist, but it was subtly implied. I immediately felt like a heel.

These “older” women are probably my favorite women to be around. I don’t just love to be around them because they are smarter and more experienced and learned. They are fun. Seriously fun. Probably way funner (that’s Manteca slang too) than me. These women are jumping-on-the-trampoline, running-in-the-bay-to-breakers, Champion-Wii-boxers, being-silly kinda fun. These women are the homeschoolin’, lovin’ God, raisin’ missionaries kinda women. These women are the kinda women that I want to grow up to be like.

So, it’s not so much that I don’t want “old” friends, it’s more that I’m looking for the crazy and wild young friend to help me hold on to my youth. Because I’m getting hecka (I’m blending) old. Next year, it’ll be official. I’ll be middle aged. So, for now, I’m trolling for the young friends. You know, the ones who you can get drunk with, and talk about sex with, and then you find out that they smoke out in the bathroom and then you realize your old kinda friends.

If I made you feel like I love you any less, I’m sorry. I love you, it’s just an aging thing. I’m sure when you were creeping up on being old, you got it too. (That was my ageist humor).

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graduation friends, originally uploaded by chanelireli.

We’ve moved. I’m sure you guys noticed. We don’t live were we lived before (hopefully that was a big clue for all of our old friends and neighbors) and I haven’t blogged in forever (unpacking 8,475 boxes will do that to you). When you move you’ve got to make new friends. Sure, I have people to hang with, my sisters and Dave’s wives friends, but I’d like some just Chanel friends. Girls, that I like for themselves, someone that I have something in common with, someone that is funny, and smart, and shares the same values and morals, and someone to encourage me, and push me to be a better person. I’d like them to be cool too. I know, I don’t ask for much. For now, Dave gets to be my girlfriend.

Making friends as an adult is totally different than making friends as a child. If only things were as easy as they were when you were five. According to Mike all it takes to be his friend is telling your name. “Hey Mikey, I’m Caleb R.” Done deal, friends for life. If you want to be part of the Mikey fan club, that’s another thing, then you have to like everything Mike likes and take a little bit of bossing around.

Making friends as an adult though, that’s a little bit tougher. First, you’re not thrown into a social situation EVERY day where you get to form relationships with people. At school, you have eight hours a day to play with people, to get used to them and understand them. As an adult, a stay-at-home adult, I’m lucky if I see the same moms every day. In the second place, there’s so much grey area. When do you move from casual acquaintance to hanging out at predesigned functions to talking on the phone or even just hanging out for the sake of hanging out?

I’m really making an effort to meet new people. I’m moving outside of my comfort zone. I’ve organized a “Meet your friends” for Mike’s kindergarten class. We’re going to throw a “Welcome us to the neighborhood” party. I’m going to story time. I’m chatting up some of the kindergarten moms. I’ve contacted the local Twins club.

Yesterday, I went to a MOPS meeting. Talk about pressure. As I was getting ready I was thinking how silly I was acting. I changed my outfit like ten times. I even put make-up on. I probably would have curled my hair if I had some extra time. I thought long and hard about what the kids were wearing. I even put shoes on the babies. I wanted to make a good impression. I want some friends dammit!

It turns out, it was kind of a dud. Not a total waste, but kind of a waste. I didn’t have to bother with the makeup, lots of women were sans makeup and I think one of them might have even had sweats on. I’ve never been to a MOPs meeting (which apparently stands for Mothers Of PreschoolerS). My expectations were rather high, which is always a good indicator of dashed hopes and dreams (just call me Pollyanna).

There was assigned seating. Yes, ASSIGNED SEATING, are we 10? My table was a dud, I wanted to be at the cool table. The table with the loud funny young mom, and the smart cute homeschooling mom, and the quiet blonde mom. I got the table with the 42-year-old mom (cool but a little bit old for me), and my sister-in-law (I’m trying to meet NEW people), and the nice chola, and a very quiet pregnant lady. I’m stuck there until December.

If this was the world of dating, I wouldn’t be looking to go steady with these people. I’d rather MOPS be more on the speed dating setting. I’d like to get a little bit of a taste of all the woman and then figure out who I want to ask out as my friend. This assigned seating is more like an arranged marriage. This marriage costs me $5 twice a month. I’m just not sure if I’m willing to make that kind of financial commitment to a marriage to an ugly smelly old guy.

Sorry Dave, you’re stuck being my girlfriend for a little bit longer.

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