Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Second String" Player Steals Home!

My husband rocks.

Who else would read my post and send me an email reminding me of a little girl, with pipes, who once turned a "second" into a moment in the spotlight? I mean, I'd expect to hear this from my mother, who to this day, brings up my gutsy "All About Eve" moment of 1979, but my husband? Out of which bag of conversations we had eons ago did he pull this out?

I can tell you one thing.

That man deserves some lovin'.

Annie was THE musical for "little girls" in the late '70's and '80's. I was one of those obsessed Annie fans, and still regret not getting to see the original Annie with Andrea McArdle on Broadway, having to settle for Shelley Bruce in the title role. Not even Sarah Jessica Parker! But, she was fine. But Andrea was THE Annie. As a kid, I loved every piece of the show that focused on Annie and the orphans, and zoned out during all the songs I found unimportant in my 10 year old world, like Easy Street, and We'd Like To Thank You Herbert Hoover. Oh, how our tastes change. I'd return to the stage to take a stab at the role of Miss Hannigan if it were offered to me and I didn't need to audition.

Our Elementary School, dear old Edsall Park, was one of those schools that took on the goal of doing a musical in concert version of Annie. The Annie dress was even being sold at JC Penney, so all the school needed to do was find our Annie, hire some orphans, and put on a show. There were 5 of us who auditioned for the title role and I can remember every face, and all their names sans one. There's probably something behind that.

I even remember my audition and the choice I made to sing Tomorrow with a more upbeat quality, as in my mind, the song was about hope.

When I exited the audition, one gal said to me, (paraphrase), "You did that wrong. In the musical, which I saw on Broadway, Annie stands still next to her dog for the whole song. She's sad." We went into a debate about what the song meant and why I chose to take a different direction. After all, isn't Annie saying, "The sun WILL come out tomorrow?" Whatever. Talk to the hand.

I didn't get the part.

The double casting of Annie went to two other girls who were apparently chosen because they had lighter hair and therefore looked more like Annie. Or so I was told by the director.

Good night woman! Ever heard of a wig?

Flash forward to dress rehearsal. One of the Annie's, (the one whose name I can't recall), who looked soooooo much like role (not), couldn't project past the first row. I'm not exaggerating here. There was no amplification, and no one could hear her singing. This was definitely no McArdle. This was a "Sing out Louise!" moment if ever there was one.

I was pulled aside.

Lame music teacher: Joline, would you mind standing directly behind xxx and sing "Tomorrow" with her?

Me: During the show?

Lame music teacher: Yes, during the show. Just make sure you stand directly behind her.

Me: Sure.

As if.

On the night of the show, I did what I was told. I stood directly behind this miscast Annie and began to sing the song in all my belted glory. I stood directly behind her.

And then I didn't.

I took a step to the side. Am I to be blamed for being a hair off from standing directly behind her? Or two or three hairs? Ten? Ok, it was intentional. Pre-meditated and calculated. I admit it.

But, give me a break! This wasn't a Hollywood musical of time gone by where the non-singing actor's voices were dubbed. This was an elementary school. A place of learning and growth. Perhaps I was supposed to learn how to be gracious in defeat. And I probably could have, had I not been asked to actually SING THE SOLO THAT I HAD BEEN DENIED. And invisibly, at that.

I did feel a twinge of guilt when Annie's parents played back their daughter's "solo" on their handheld tape recorder.

But honestly, I don't think they would have heard her regardless of whether I was standing directly behind her, a few steps to right, or crooning from inside a stall in the girls bathroom.

And this is what my husband wanted me to remember after reading my last post.

"I read it . . . and I understand . . .and sometimes you just have to step out from behind the kid and sing your heart out. You have to take a risk."

I'm encouraged. I still have alot of "firsts" in me.

And I'm cool with hanging in the wings until my name is called in the writing world. And I will continue to seek out avenues to broaden my reader base. But don't dare ask me to stand directly behind someone who will then take the credit for the "songs" I belt out on paper.

Especially if that person goes by the name of Annie.

Hey! Wait up!

This is kind of how I feel.

As if I'm always right behind the winners, yelling, "Wait! I can do that, too!"

As a child, I competed in gymnastics. I never placed in the individual all around until the meets that came after the qualifying meets for the BIG competitions. I'm not at all disappointed in my performance at the meet where I took 3rd all around and 1st on bars, and 3rd on, what was it? Beam? Vault? I don't know . . . I was 10, I think. But, even then, I knew that at this particular meet, my accomplishments were kind of, sort of, second best, as placing in the all around at this point didn't qualify me for the Regional meet or whatever it was called. I needed to clinch a spot for that meet months earlier. And hadn't. I'd missed that opportunity.

I remember my coach telling me that I had a choice. I could either compete in the Regional in order to help the team competition, but couldn't be considered for the all around, OR I could opt out of Regionals altogether in order to re-compete in a secondary meet where I might actually win the all around. This is what I chose. I chose it because I knew I would be compteting against other "second" gymnasts and that out of those "seconds" I could be FIRST. I could win the individual all around.


And I got one (and two huge ribbons). And I stood on the podium. But, I didn't advance any farther.

And looking back, I'm ok with this. I like eating junk food and having boobs.

However, I see this as a recurring pattern in my life.

I'm a pretty good actress. And yet, while acting professionally, I always had this lingering feeling in my gut about being just a step behind the frontrunner's in the city, even though I too had the goods to pull out a solid performance. That feeling nagged at me whenever I entered the casting director's office and overshadowed the truth that I had indeed been called in and selected for an audition. A feat in and of itself. Even so, I felt like the "catch up" girl. Second string. And while 2000 and 2001 were HUGE for me in terms of booking jobs, I never felt like I'd truly crashed the Chicago acting scene.

When I began teaching children's music, I realized that there was already this whole children's music scene that I knew nothing about. I sing. I play guitar (barely). Kids at SLC love me. And yet, I'm out of that circle. A circle, which in my mind, encompasses the best of the best in children's artists. The legitimate one's. Not the "wannabe's". Here again, I find myself a step behind in terms of really getting in on the success of being a children's music artist. Ok, not that I really ever wanted to be a kid rock star. My point being that I could have gone this route. I just didn't know the opportunity existed.

Now, I come to find out after alot of research that there is this HUGE network of mother's who blog. Mother's who have sponsors from advertisers. Mother's who receive a PAYCHECK for writing. There is even a Chicago Mom's Blog! There are conferences. There are segments about them on the The Today Show. There are hobnobbing sessions with mother's who blog. There's a book coming out this summer called the Best of the Mommy Blogs, or something along that line. The entire idea of this has me screaming . . .


Did I miss yet another wagon????????

Just as I'm figuring out what I would love to do, and am positioned on the cusp of generating a new form of creativity and income, I look up to see that the train has already left the station. I'm left on the platform looking into the windows of the women with their laptops, being paid for their ideas and stories. I knock on the window to get someones attention and write a note in the circle of breath I have left on the glass, "Hi. I blog too."

I don't mean to sound pathetic. Forgive me for the whine. However, I often wondered what it would be like to be at the forefront of something. To be one of those people who gets a killer idea and runs with it. Like the person who invented Post-it notes, or that genius blond woman with sickeningly sweet voice who started Baby Einstein in her basement and then eventually sold the company to Disney, or the inventors of the Pee Pee Tee Pee.


(Like the Pee Pee Tee Pee people. Every parent learns very quickly to cover that tiny and yet powerful member when removing a baby's clothing, lest one gets an uninvited shower . . . but the idea of a beautifully designed miniature flannel tent for such a situation? Brilliant. And THIS is what I'm talking about.)

Even now, as I write this, I think, "Good Lord, Jo, you sound desperate!"

And yet, that's what blogging is. It's an online diary, right? A place to spew my frustration. So, why censor the aggravation I feel about trailing behind . . . again? About getting an idea after someone has already had it and run with it? About missing another opportunity to initiate something new?

I don't want to merely crash the mommy blogging party. I don't want to lag behind like the younger sibling. For I am no longer content with being best at being second.

Ah! So maybe this means I'm best at no longer being content with being best at being second.

Oh, good grief.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pink Ink

I'm going to assume that it's ok to copy this comment made on my site by Jeanie Martin, Executive Senior Sales Director and #1 Mary Sales Director in Illinois, (with whom I held a bit of a grudge based upon her convicting words about the state of my life during a speech she gave at Career Conference), here, into this new post.

That was a really long winded, run on sentence way of sharing that she responded to Untitled Novel.

Many readers don't necessarily go back to read older posts, and thus I wanted to insure that those of you who are all up in my business (in an "I have faithful readers!" kind of way), would get to read the comment she left in response to this particular post. I actually sent her a link to it, so that she could read, firsthand, the impact she had on me on that Saturday in April.

If you recall, (or go back and read the post if you don't), her words infuriated me. Over the next few days following the conference, my repulsion, (I thought her words were trite and useless - sorry Jeanie), turned to confusion. Confusion then led to an emotional paralytic state. The state of numbness then then doubled-back and sent a surge of motivation through me, the likes of which I've not felt since the "A-ha" moments of 1989, when God told me to go out to lunch with George already, 1997, when I left a full-time job to act, 1999 when I felt called to begin a family, and 2005 when I knew it was time to leave teaching acting classes in favor of exclusively private coaching.

Not even coffee can jolt my system as this event did. Well, coffee does still give me a pleasurable jolt, but not a surprise jolt. I'm pretty used to its effects now. Especially since I'm an addict.

I won't rehash that post. Here is her response:

Well, first of all, I've never been on a blog. Second, I've never left a comment. Third, I'd have loved to have you in my English class when I taught high school. Fourth, I want an autographed copy when the book is published. Fifth, I was captivated by your story because you were writing from your heart, what was on your heart and I felt like I was sneaking a peek into what an incredible family you have. Thank you for all you shared..I hope you know that there are days when your words will help me continue when my dreams seem way out there. Love your life and live it out loud! The Jeanie that may have started it all? :)

I completely forgot that she used to be an English teacher. How amazing is that? The little Mary Kay peddlin' writer getting props from the #1 Director and former ENGLISH teacher? Do I really need any more encouragement?


Honestly, I really do think there is something to this Writing and Mary Kay dream.

It's right around the corner.

Oh, and I'm buying myself the book pictured above for all my writing ideas.

That, and some Mary Kay After Sun Replenishing Gel to heal the sunburn I got while playing softball yesterday, the likes of which my sister would have been proud. I did impress my softball playin' daughter with my hits, slides, and "the roll".

I tend to get a bit competitive.

Now, if only I could redirect that competitive fire into something for which I have a passion.

Hmmm. What would that be?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

No, It Is Not What It Looks Like: Through the Eyes of Harper

At PetSmart today . . .

Harper: Look Dad! Those two dogs are forming a conga line!

George: Why, yes. Yes they are!

Remind me never to check Scout into the Pet Hotel at PetSmart.

It's a seedy dive which temporarily houses dogs of ill repute.

Harper Atkins, DDS

With the rising costs of health care, why schlep your child to the scary dentist, when you can just hang with Harper.

Harper can offer the lightest and gentlest of touches while pulling your child's loose tooth - even while riding on a bumpy school bus.

Just ask Leia Sohn, satisfied patient, and proud owner of a pulled tooth which was removed in transit from the Art Institute to Lincolnwood School during a field trip.

With assistance from Linda Beckstedt, first grade teacher extraordinaire, and apparently just as skilled in serving as a dental hygienist, Harper put into action her extensive knowledge and infinite skills in tooth yanking using just a napkin and her fingers.

Just like MacGyver.


Harper's need for the computer is beginning to surpass her desire for the television.

"Mom! In the name of Lord, can I PLEASE use the computer?"

"Ask Him." Was my response.

He said no.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Yes, It Is What It Looks Like

Upon entering his room to get him out of bed from his non-nap, I found this.

Yes, Zane is wearing underwear on his head.

Two pairs.

I only hope they aren't used.

Tiny Tour Guide

"There's no curse of King Tut! Harold Carter died of natural causes!"

Yep, that's my daughter taking all the fun out of the curse of the mummy. Sorry kids.

What's next? Santa Clause?

Harper and all the first graders from Lincolnwood School visited in the fabulous Art Institute of Chicago yesterday. George went along as chaperone, celebrating his 39th birthday by basking in a sea of youth. He had a great time, and learned alot about Harper while he escorted his group (Harper, Leia, Maya, and Jordan) through the rooms of the museum.

He learned that Harper knows alot about art.

He learned that Harper likes to share what she's knows about art.

He was reminded about how much Harper knows about Egypt.

He was reminded about how much Harper likes to share what she knows about Egypt.

He discovered that Jordan thinks Harper talks too much.

He discovered how easy it is to defend his daughter.

Jordan: Harper, do you have to talk about everything?

George: Yes, Jordan, she does.

George's girth does certainly help in silencing a crabby first grade boy.

Jordan wasn't sporting the best day having already been told off by Harper's pal Kelly, after he threatened to push her. Kelly, barely as tall as Harper and even thinner responded to his empty threat with a pointed finger in his face and stony, stand your ground stare,

"Just you try."

Jordan backed up.

Just the gal pal I want Harper hanging with. Today they had a 4 hour playdate, with no squabbles or knocking of heads. They are becoming really great friends. Harper plays softball. Kelly plays little league. They are the same size - which is pretty tiny for first grade. And they both have an inner confidence that is unique in girls. Kelly's confidence is very understated, and then, BAM, you are wow'ed by this little pint sized dynamo. Harper's confidence is outwardly bold, and then, BAM, she backs off when she feels anxiety. (Except on the softball field).

They are amazing for each other.

Anyhow, while Jordan was hot and cold during the entire field trip, Harper, with map in hand, led the group from room to room. They were all sad to find that Starry Night was no longer being exhibited having been packed up and prepared to head to another museum.

She located Georgia O'Keefe's "Cow's Skull and the Calico Rose", and Picasso's "Old Guitarist". She recognized and named these paintings, as well as Marie Casset's "Child's Bath", and others. But she was at the top of her game as they came upon the room housing ancient Egyptian artifacts. She certainly does love explaining the deal with the canopic jars . . .

She adored Monet's "Water Lilies" and exclaimed it as her favorite set of paintings.

And just as Kelly can speak straight to the point with a laser beam directness, so can Harper. Especially when it comes to paintings depicting Christ's crucifixion.

Leia: That's Jesus. He died.

Harper: (full on serious eye contact). Hey! He rose from the dead.

There was no more discussion.

Harper asked me to accompany her to museum on one of the free nights they offer. I think a little dinner, and a tour by this tiny guide sounds like a perfect night out!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Used What?

Yep. I've posted yet another pic of boy's underwear.

Because apparently, my site is just ripe for shoppers who need boy's underwear. Even used boys underwear.

Not to tick of the nice folks at AdSense, as this is my first day posting ad's on my site in the hopes of getting even the tiniest of extra dough for my shameless plugs, but used voys underwear? Really? Used?

Ok, yes, my son does wear hand me down underwear from his cousins. But, you know, that's keeping it in the family. I am a huge consigner of my kids clothes, but I don't send my children's used underwear off to Hand Me Downs for resale.

I don't know, maybe I'm missing yet another money making opportunity. Pre-owned Spiderman trunks. Gently Used Buzz Lightyear Tightie Whities. Can Barely Make Out the Stain Shrek Drawers.

Ah, but truly they would need to be pristine and, well, Zane is having a difficult time with a certain type of potty training of the messy variety. So, I'm afraid his drawers wouldn't help the family budget.

Enough with the potty talk? Sorry, you're here and this is my life. If you've been reading, I warned that while Zane's potty training is "done", "done" has a very unique definition.

"Done", with respect to Zane, doesn't quite mean what it implies. We're still at it.

Oprah A-ha moment! Maybe I should get some used underwear for him to wear during this transition time. This way we won't mess up the really nice one's. I could just pitch 'em if the outcome is too much to bear.

And I'll give up caffeine!

No, on both counts.

Wait! The ad's have now changed to coffee sites.

Much better.

Welcome Back

Welcome back.
Sorry for the hiccup.
When I don't drink enough coffee I do things like . . .
delete my blog by mistake.
Won't do it again.
Trust me.
So, after a few days of quiet panic, (and I truly did keep my emotions together much more than I expected after the fatal "click"), ample emails to blogger, which were never returned, frantic emails to Julie, who I think is a genius, a joyous reunion of my posts via Google Reader, and 3 days of re-designing (I came up with the coffee theme, George came up with the description about the fully caffeinated life and Harper chose all the colors) and cutting and pasting, I'm back up and running.

Why is this blog so very important to me?

Because writing is both my prayerful and creative outlet.

To understand fully, I direct you to my post titled, "Untitled Novel". Like every other post, it's under May.

No, I didn't write 58 posts this month . . . please. I do have a family to care for, skin care to sell, and children to amuse with catchy little songs.

This is a new start, not only of the blog, but of an exploration of breaking into the Mommy blogging world . . . so, no doubt . . . you will begin to see ad's on my site. There's a wagon I want to hop on and it involves blogging and making money. The opportunity does exist. I'm going to find it.

Thank you to those of you who wondered where oh where my little blog went.

It's back now.

So, pour yourself a cuppa Jo and enjoy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Green Discipline

Prior to breaking into a discussion about the plight of polar bears, I found Harper disciplining Scout in the kitchen. I'm not sure what Scout had done to receive a wagged finger in her face, but Harper was dead serious as she exclaimed,

"Scout, that's your global warning!"

I was pretty surprised that my earth-savvy daughter, had confused the phrase and its context, but I soon found out it was just a slip.

"No, Mom, I know what global warming is. I was just pretending."

"What is global warming, Harps?"

"It's pollution that is melting the earth. Ice is melting where Polar bears live and they are dying."

When I was growing up everything was about nukes and the U.S.S.R. We had air raid drills. I remember these fondly, because I always tried to get next to the cutest boy in class, Doug Brown, while we cowered in the hallway for drills.

Now, it's the actual air that is killing everything off.

I'm glad they talked about this in school on the very day that the news reported that polar bears have now been added to the endangered species list.

My kid will grow up to be more earth conscious then I will ever be. Although I am trying to do my part daily.

Let's just hope Scout gets with the program and doesn't receive anymore global warnings. If she's going to live in this house she better be a green dog and get on board and follow suit or the finger wagging will continue.

The Full Monty: The Preschool Years

Zane ran to the bathroom at school yesterday on his own initiative in order to, well, go. His pants weren't soaked all the way through, and yet, he didn't like that he was even a tiny bit wet. So, he removed his pants.

He removed his underwear.

He did his thing, and then reentered the classroom in the buff from the waist down.

"Can someone get me some pants?"

"Do I get jellybeans?"

Payment for nudity. That's my boy!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


In Harper's own words:

"I can't believe I just did that!" (as in, played the softball game)

"I was totally scared this morning. But it was fun!"

"I am good at this!"

"I got around all the bases!"

Self discovery is a good thing.

Thank you to Linda Beckstedt (Harper's teacher), Melody, Michelle, and neighbor Bradley for coming to support Harper. She wasn't too sure she wanted guests at the first game, (due to nerves, which she was completely honest about yesterday morning). Next week will be a different story, I'm sure.

This picture describes everything she communicated verbally. Every time she reached first base she would turn to the stands, let out a "Whoo Hoo!" and dance around.

So, enjoy.

We are.

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

What better way to celebrate than by spending the day nursing your husband who has flu-like symptoms and keeping the children occupied with reading, baking, the computer and anything else you can pull out of your pocket on a rainy day. For instance, how about experimenting on your daughter? Yeah, cool idea!

Figuring that we'd be in all day, (we skipped church today) I decided to fore go Harper's medication today.

Let the races begin!

Oh. My. Word.

In George's words as he lay on the couch attempting to sleep, "My daughter is a whirling dervish."

Folks, I've said it once.

I've said it twice.

I'll say it again.

ADHD is real and coming to a theater near you.

Seriously, while her spirits are bright, her energy is non-stop. And her volume? Insanely loud. Ok, some of this is a learned behavior of projection from observing dear 'ole Mom, and yet the sheer enormity of her sound surpasses even what I can do.

It's noon. So administering her medication at this point would be ridiculous as it wouldn't wear off by bedtime. We'll get through. It's not like she's combative or incredibly disruptive. She's just . . . bouncy.

Let's play on the computer!


Let's bake a cake!


Let's go through every piece of costume jewelry and untangle each and every piece and then separate them into different catagories such as "sell", "keep", and "needs to be sorted", and then open a store at home, using Scouts crate as a strip mall.

I mananged to scrounge up enough coffee to make myself 1 1/2 cups. That should hold me.

No more experimenting.

I've really never excelled at science.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What I Have NOT To Wear

I am being stalked by Stacey and Clinton. They are trying to track me down with their voodoo fashion magic.

I can hear them talking to me as I stand bewildered and naked in front of my closet staring at the little I have hanging there, most of which are pieces from a season gone by.

Wait a minute. I'm not talking about turning over one's closet from season to season. All my clothes fit in my closet. All at one time. Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall. There is no packing away the Winter clothes and airing out of the Spring ones. They all live happily together all year round. What you see is all I have.

Do I sound selfish? Probably. However, before you accuse me of selfishness, read on with an open mind, for this post isn't so much a whine about a lack of clothing as much as it is about the lack of a wardrobe that actually fits. A wardrobe that actually fits both my physical shape and my personality.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that the past 6 months have brought about many changes. Actually the changes began 2 years ago, but I've only been writing about them within the past year. As a family, we've dealt with job issues for George, issues that permeated into our daily lives at home, health issues for George and Harper which were heavy and draining, a restlessness of my creative desires urging me to seek ways to further my talents, the decrease of personal finances as I left a lucrative coaching business in order to be present for my kids, the beginning of new business with Mary Kay, and now, the faithful leap into writing.

You've read how all these things have effected me emotionally and spiritually. I have not shared how they have effected me physically. And once again, before you say to yourself, "You are fine. You look great!" Let me say, I don't feel great.
Daily exercise has become an activity of the past except for a Saturday morning workout class and a rare hustle on the elliptical machine. A shoulder injury and possible foot surgery have been a part of this, to be certain, but mainly, my lack of exercise has been solely due to physical fatigue.

I have desired and hoped and tried and tried again at getting back to a good solid workout routine. And yet, I've never been able to recover the discipline I once had.

However, this post is not meant to be a pity party, although it may sound like I'm having one. Nope. This post is a release of what was and the acceptance of of a new design for me.

No one can come out of the 2 years that I've had and be the same person with the same disciplines, same schedule, same desires and goals, same daily structure, and the same physical body. I've been trying to return to what I knew and how I lived, when in truth, I'm not the same person any longer. I've been attempting to regain my old workout routines, only to find myself frustrated at my inability to keep up the schedule, and thus, I stop trying completely. It's a cycle that just goes on and on and on.

What I've not realized until today is that I am in the process of painting a completely new picture of my life and thus, working out as I once did, just doesn't make sense anymore. I have already repainted the picture of my professional goals and have made changes to further them. Why not the same with my physical goals?
So, why all the talk about Stacey and Clinton?

Because if they saw my wardrobe, they too would say I am trying to live in the style of days gone by. By my own admission, I am not built for the majority of the clothing in my closet. It is filled with pieces that emphasize what used to be my best physical assets. I really don't care to spend day after day working on a flat stomach any longer. And thus, the lower waist jeans or the tighter shirts need to go. AND THAT'S OK!

My favorite outfit, the one which I feel looks the best on me and fits my personality to a T is my Easter outfit from this year. When George saw me in it he went nuts . . .:) I think it was mainly due to the shoes. The red shoes. When I saw myself in the outfit I felt like me. It's not a teeny bopper outfit. It doesn't cause muffin top. It's not a tank top. It's not fitted. It's fun and artistic.

I'm not giving up exercise. That's just plain unhealthy. I'm not copping out. I am, however, changing the way I approach it. My body image from my commercial days (where I had to be trim) continued on into my non-commercial days and post baby days, where I worked and yearned and begged to continue being trim. I don't need to be trim. I need to be healthy. Who am I trying to impress? I will continue my Saturday morning class. I will get on that elliptical 3 days a week and I'll try and pick up a yoga class here and there. And that's just fine for the me I am now! And later, when I have kids in school all day, that may change. I am going to choose to live for now - not what was - not what will be. Now. No more quitting because I can't keep up with how I used to exercise. A new plan for a new time.

What does that mean for my closet? I want clothes that feel great. That don't tug. That are my personality. That don't necessarily rely on Spanks. I've already loaded up a bunch to be donated . . . and I picked up a few "new" things today at the thrift store where I always find treasures.

Stacey and Clinton, you would be proud of me. And, if you feel like putting me on your show, I'll get rid of all of it all just to see you. To be honest, it's not that I have a ton of crap, like many of your guests, but rather, I hardly have anything. So, if you choose me, I will come willingly. And I'll bring everything.

Everything but the red shoes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Back on April 2, we went the cold turkey route of potty training Zane. Just a bit over a month later, he is in underwear everyday, and aside from the bout of normal constipation which can indeed occur with potty training, we're done.

Done, meaning, that Zane no longer wears diapers during the day.

Done, meaning, that he will still have accidents (as no kid, no matter what anyone says, is really completely toilet trained until right around 5).

Done, meaning, that he will continue to wear diapers during nap time and bedtime.

Done, meaning, that we do have to be responsible for taking him to the bathroom about once an hour, as a reminder that he does need to go.

Ask a toddler IF they have to go to the potty, and inevitably their answer will be "No." Tell a toddler that it is potty time, and they will pretty much follow you there. Especially if following you there, doing the deed, and washing one's hands secures that jellybeans will follow.

Zane knows that he gets 3 jellybeans every time he goes. We do not hold back jellybeans if he has an accident, nor do we scold him for it. We learned our parenting lesson from the first time around (with Harper) that punishment doesn't further the cause at all. Only positive reinforcement works. So much so, that yesterday, Zane asked if he could have four jellybeans if he pooped. He has been terrified of doing so, and thus constipated. After using some miracle over the counter relief, everything is relaxed and moving again. And, apparently the stuff also helps your kid with math as Zane knows that one more jellybean makes four. Isn't he smart. He poops AND he adds. Brilliant.

So, while done doesn't mean "good luck with all that", it does mean that we've moved forward from changing diapers everyday.

I believe it is time for the diaper genie to retire. She's had a good run of 7 years.

Anyone who would like to congratulate Zane may purchase him some cool briefs. He has whitie tighties, spiderman, elmo, shrek, and cars. But through the potty training experience we did just opt for throwing some away rather than attempting to wash them . . . so now I'm on the lookout for batman, superman, micky mouse, and construction vehicle underwear.

Feel free to give Zane the gift of big boy independence! He's a 3T. No Nascar please. I just can't handle my cute son walking around in something that reminds me of Will Ferrell in Talladaga Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. ("Dear Baby Jesus . . .") On the flip side, Anyone who can find Super Why (the PBS show) underwear will be the talk of this house for years to come.

Next up . . . crib removal.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Extra! Extra!

Oh, those pesky headlines.

Rarely do they serve to add comfort to ones day. There are wars, natural disaster's, financial woe's, political slinging, celebrity downward spirals, food shortages, real estate market crashes, and scandals galore (I mean, come on, did you catch the big snafu on American Idol the other night? That one kept me up.)

And this morning? TWO, count 'em, TWO headlines on MSNBC that struck a deep seated nerve in my gut.

"U.S. kids get 6 times more ADD drugs than in the U.K."

Phew, then I guess it's a good thing we live in the good ole U.S. of A. I just broke off my love affair with England.

And to add insult to this mother's injury,

"First-born kids really do have it tougher."

Ah, dearest Harper, all I can do is continue to tell you I love you every day, because apparently, I am really screwing you up.

The article continues, "The oldest kid in the family really does bear the brunt of parental strictness, while the younger brothers and sisters generally coast on through."

Yep. It's true. We even allowed Zane to tell a potty mouth joke to several of George's co-workers today.

"Knick Knock. Who's there? Alligator poop." (Typo, you say? Nope. Zane tells knock knock jokes with one knick, one knock, no "alligator poop WHO?" and no traditional punchline. Joke's over at this point, so just laugh and move on.)

We have really done it now. How do we undo this lenient mess we've made?

Oh, right! We've got the medication, which we are entirely loosey goosey about and just pop at leisure without any intelligent forethought or research. We'll give one to Harper and she'll be just fine handling her first born pressure. And, while we're at it, why don't we just give one to Zane too since he seems to be so out of hand.

The problems of the world solved.

Where's the headline patting me on the back?

What's Your Point?

In my defense (always great to start on the defense) while my blog has seemed silent, my "pencil" hasn't. Over the last 3 weeks, I have stayed true to my challenge of April 12th's blog. I have edited a personal narrative written back in 2002 and have submitted it to a collection of stories. I have contacted a PR firm in Evanston seeking a PT Writer (10 hr. a week from home) and submitted samples. Just last night I completed yet another personal narrative about Harper's birth (minor edits aside) and will be sending it off to a company seeking stories for a collection geared towards new mothers.

And as I wonder if I too have a bit of ADHD in me, I laid awake last night composing a story called Fringe. After being knocked flat with a sinus infection this week, I hadn't the energy to get up and jot down notes, but I do believe if I were to just start typing today, without self-editing, I could retrace my mental steps.

So, only 3 weeks after stating my "dream" (ugh, there goes that word again. I just can't seem to state that word without a bit of a cringe. It's a problem with my perception of the word, rather than the word itself), I have indeed been writing.

George has been running.

Harper joined a softball team (not soccer, but so much better suited for her).

And Zane has successfully taken out 3 vampires.

Look at us!

So, last night, I did a reading of my new story, "Flood", for everyone at dinner. Harper was flattered that I would write about my birth experience with her (I didn't use her name in the piece) and listened very intently. She was impressed.
She came downstairs later that night when she was supposed to be sleeping. As if knowing I would chastise her for being up, she announced, "Wait! I need to read you my story!" as she descended the stairs. Indeed, she had been up in bed WRITING A STORY.

I love mom beczus of her story. I can not bulev she put me in her story. I love her varey much. I can not beleve she is raiting storys. It is like so cool. I like the sect [second] story the best becus it has me in it. the End.

This comes a few days after receiving the following:

Dear Mom, thack you for bing the best mom in the wde wrod! I like having a mom like you. I like your crazy hiae doo. Love, Harper.

So do our actions rub off on others? Does our personal inspiration inspire others?

Seems that way.

If you know me, then you know that I have a great love of popcorn. It is one of the foods that I refuse to share. Don't even ask. I will make you your own bag, but don't touch mine. Popcorn and Buffalo Wings are my selfish foods. Get your own. Last night I was popping a bag of corn when Harper came down to read to me . . . I was so distracted by her sentiment that the microwave popcorn bag burned so badly that even this morning the house still reeks.

My little writer disappeared upstairs after her reading and we thought she was off to bed. Nope. About 20 minutes later we hear crying, "Mommy!" She is crying, whining, really, and is terrified. Apparently, while writing, she had stuck the pencil UP HER NOSE (I know, HELLO!) and the tip had broken off inside her nose. She couldn't get it dislodged. She was freaked out.

George ran for a flashlight.

I tried to keep her calm and told her to try and blow out although being nervous and crying, she kept sucking IN!

Finally, I closed off one nostril with my thumb and yelled "BLOW!"

Out came the sharpened point of her colored pencil drenched in snot.

We all stared down at it and broke into laughter.

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

That's my point. I'm writing from my life experience. These are my truthful daily musings. They are real and they are mine. I share them as I would share myself when on stage. On stage, you are fully out there, body and soul, for all to watch. As cheesy as it sounds, the paper is my stage now. I think I'm more honest and real on paper than I ever was on stage. For on stage, I second guessed myself, I edited, I censored, I questioned my choices. Writing is much more freeing for me. I'm certainly not as self conscious on paper as I was on stage (except for when I played Lucy from You're a Good Man Charlie Brown . . . she is the only character I really believed I completely conquered, both times I played her). I may have come across confidently on stage, but there was an element of fake out. There is no faking it here.

I love playing myself now . . . through writing.

I'll try to keep the pencil out of my nose.