I’m not the mom I thought I’d be

The only time I’ve been really 100% sure I was an excellent mother was before I had any children.  Back then, I had absolutely no doubt, only supreme confidence in my innate ability to win the whole Motherhood Contest.  (Because it’s a contest, right?  Like a pageant only without the swimwear competition?)

On Sunday, I took my daughter to a birthday party.  We are acquainted with a pretty wide circle of people in our new area and this particular woman brought her 9-year old to my daughter’s impromptu birthday dinner back in September.  She returned the favor and invited us to her daughter’s party.

I dropped off my daughter, then returned an hour later.  When I returned, I walked past the bouncy house and slide crowding the driveway and walked through the open front door.  I found my daughter holding someone’s baby–she loves babies–and so I sat down and began chatting with another mom who was a complete stranger to me.

I began to look around and found that I was sitting in a room that was probably once a dining room but had been turned into a homeschooling room. The cursive alphabet bordered the top of the wall.  Scientific terms and maps and all sorts of school-related items were tacked to the walls which appeared to be covered in some kind of fancy bulletin board material (floor to ceiling).

My daughter does school at home, you know, through a charter school.  My twins are doing homeschool for their last year of high school.  And I don’t have anything school-related tacked to any wall in my house.  I don’t even have a bulletin board.

(I have a fancy pencil sharpener, though.  And ten packs of Crayola markers.)

I sat there feeling like such a failure as a homeschooling mom.  I’m just winging it as I go along.  We fit school into the nooks and crannies of our days.  I feel like an utter failure.

Even worse?  Today, my daughter had a Costco frozen yogurt for lunch.  I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t fed her an actual lunch until my husband called me from soccer practice to ask me what she had for lunch. That’s all she had.  Frozen yogurt.  (Please, fire me.  I deserve it.)

I recently read a blog post by the most delightful adoptive mother of many who homeschools and my heart just sank when I read about her systems and her order and her attitude and her children.  Why can’t I be like that?  Why can’t I try to be like that?  Why can’t I line my ducks up and make them swim in an orderly fashion? Am I just that lazy?  That ill-equipped?

I read on Facebook about other people’s kids volunteering and applying to colleges and and I do this horrible thing that I hate . . . I compare my kids.  That’s the worst thing ever.

I kind of wish I could go back to those days of dreaming about a velvety baby cheek, confident in my ability to raise SuperKids.  Being a mom was a whole lot easier in my imagination.  Then again, imaginary kids don’t ask for hugs or . . . money.  (Wait.  What?)


Saturday night live

Tonight, a brave older couple invited our whole family to their house for dinner.  She prepared meatloaf and twice-baked potatoes and corn–what a perfect meal for a family that includes three teenage boys–and then we all made our own ice cream sundaes.

Grace was delighted to feed their beagle Cheerios when the cute dog did tricks.

At the invitation of the gracious hostess–a former piano teacher–our guitar-playing son pulled out his guitar and wowed us with his fast finger picking.  Our piano-playing son played a rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” and sang along.  The former piano teacher taught Grace a quick duet on the piano and they played together.

Not to be outdone, our non-musical son proclaimed his complete mastery of the recorder.  Not to be outsmarted, the host and hostess pulled out a plastic box containing a recorder.  The non-musical boy made a great production of preparing to play his instrument, including posing for pictures and proclaiming his own greatness.

Then he played a heartwrenchingly awful tune–I think it may have been Hot Cross Buns–and fell to his knees in a great show of emotion.

And we laughed, which only encourages him.  There is a reason this kid was nominated Class Clown in the school he’s only been attending for two months.

Funny boy.

Free time. Ha ha. Ha.

My desk reflects the busy week.  It’s a haphazard jumble of paper stacks the used to make sense and random items that don’t belong to me including a broken cell phone and a Hello Kitty bracelet.

At least I unearthed the checkbook.

Last weekend (Thursday to Monday) a few relatives were here for a visit, so prior to Thursday was devoted to getting ready for company (even though they stayed in a hotel) while still keeping my regular plates spinning. Just one of my many party tricks!

And since they left, it’s just been busy.

If we aren’t driving kids to music lessons, we’re sitting on a field somewhere watching practice or a game.  We’re in meetings, coordinating schedules and working far too many hours.

My biggest achievement this week was ordering two cell phones to replace two broken phones (one due to overuse and one due to an encounter with the washing machine).  I spent an afternoon on the phone getting that arranged and I only wish I were exaggerating.  I spoke to four different people in three different departments.

But hey!  It’s Friday night!  Work’s done for the week and I get to sleep in tomorrow.  The weather is supposed to be lovely, as usual, and someone else is cooking dinner tomorrow night.  Grace has a soccer game tomorrow afternoon and a birthday party on Sunday.

Now, to sleep to dream about free time.

Uncreative title on a Saturday night

We have out-of-town, in-from-Texas relatives visiting this weekend.

We dragged them all to watch Grace’s soccer game today.  We insisted that they stand on the beach and watch the sunset the other night.

Watching the Show

The womenfolk went shopping at the local outlet mall this afternoon while the menfolk cooked.

My husband (aka Tom Sawyer) managed to get the menfolk to cook dinner last night and tonight . . . which has involved a lot of meat, a lot of butter and some mustard greens.  And cornbread and sweet tea.

Even though they arrived on Thursday night, Grace and I still went to the San Diego Zoo Friday morning on a school field trip.  We did invite the relatives to join us, but they declined.  Nevertheless, Grace and I had a great time at the zoo and look forward to visiting it again.

We want to see this little guy again:

So, that’s how it’s been going.

Hope your weekend is going well!

Want some banana pudding that Grandpa made?  He used almost a cup of butter in the pudding alone . . .







(You don’t even want to know what we caught the tortoises doing . . . but if Grace asks, just tell her that tortoises OFTEN give each other piggy-back rides.)

This one is for you

So, one of my Facebook friends asked me, “Are you ever going to blog again?”

Has it really been that long? Well, here you go. I’m blogging.

I’m recovering from the World’s Worst Cold. I’ve been sick for a whole week now, gradually getting better. Everyone in our household has been sick except for my husband. He seems somewhat smug about avoiding the World’s Worst Cold. I hope he doesn’t get it because I will have to raise my left eyebrow at his smugness if he does start sneezing and coughing. And that just wouldn’t be very nice.

My daughter brought me a plastic sandwich bag tonight. It contains her tooth and the label, “Grace’s tooth.” She got tired of waiting for me to remember to do the Tooth Fairy duties and just asked me for the cash outright. That child makes me laugh.

I gave her a total of $1.10 in coins. Basically, all the coins in my purse except for the pennies.

Last week I took eight hours off from work. I’d originally intended to organize my garage, but instead I was sick. So I napped as much as I could. Waste of time!

And why am I concerned about my unpacked garage at this late date? Well, my in-laws are coming to town! And they must not be allowed to see the haphazard garage. So, I think I will block the doorway with laundry baskets. Except they probably should also not be allowed to see dirty laundry. Or the baskets that contain it.

On Sunday, we went to the beach where I managed to get my shins sunburned. My daughter found an unbroken sand dollar and I had a nice time visiting with a couple other moms. While we sat watching the sparkling blue ocean, dolphins danced through the waves. All in all, a pretty fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon in October especially since the kids were not swept away in a rip tide or snacked on by a shark.

Last Saturday was our neighborhood garage sale. And there I experienced my greatest frustration of the week when I spotted a patio table and chairs . . . literally seconds after some other guy spotted them. The set did not have a price tag, so I followed that other guy to the garage where I overhead him ask the price. How much? Thirty-five dollars! I was prepared to pay up to $100! The other guy said, “Would you take thirty?” and the garage sale guy said, “Okay.” I resisted the urge to walk up to the seller and say, “I would have given you fifty!”

But awhile later, I came across a new-looking white IKEA desk for $25. (Originally purchased for $200, the owner told me.) So I felt a little better about coming home without a patio table. I’d wanted to find a desk for my son.

In other news, my son pulled on his window blinds so hard the bracket broke and the blinds came tumbling down. Why? WHY? WHY?!!

Okay, so there you go. This one was for you, Kris. :)

Stop and smell the ocean


It’s important to stop and smell the ocean as often as you can.

When my dad was my age, he was living his final three months on earth.

That is a sobering thought.  I really do feel like I have forever.  But one day will be the last time I see a sunset from this side of eternity.

And so tonight, we drove the fifteen minutes to the beach to have a front-row viewing of the sunset.

It’s always worth it to drive those fifteen minute to the beach.


Product Review: Febreze Set & Refresh Air Freshener

We moved into our new house at the end of June.  The walls and ceilings are white, the fixtures are gold (gold!?) and the windows let in a lot of southern California sunshine.

But . . . the previous owners had a big dog, a Newfoundland.  And despite the efforts of a carpet cleaner and a cleaning crew, as the weeks passed, I’d catch a whiff of the unmistakable odor of that big dog in the hallway leading to my laundry room and guest bathroom.  I imagine the previous owners left their dog in the laundry room from time to time?

So, that’s why I was interested in trying the Febreze Set & Refresh air freshener.  I’ve been a fan of the Febreze spray and I wondered if this air freshener would eliminate the dog stink in downstairs by the laundry room.

I received the “Linen & Sky” scent (the following scents are available: Natural, Meadows & Rain™, Linen & Sky™, Floral, Fruity & Refreshing, Exotic and Fresh & Clean).  I didn’t realize until I opened the package that this air freshener works without having to plug it into the wall.

Which is a plus, if you ask me.  I worry about the kind of air fresheners you have to plug in.  (No batteries necessary, either.)

Anyway, it’s been sitting in the bathroom for a week or so, emitting a pleasant scent–not overpowering, but just enough.  (It’s on my desk as I write this and from this proximity, it’s pretty strong, though.)

The Febreze Set & Refresh is meant to last for thirty days.  There are Dual Refills available which contain (the obvious two) refills per package. (You can use different scents–the following ones are available:  Linen & Sky, Hawaiian Aloha, Spring & Renewal, and Advanced Odor Eliminator scents.

The design of this air freshener is fairly unobtrusive and easily fit into the bathroom decor.  I like it!

And best of all, no stinky dog smell.

You can find out everything you want to know (and more!) about Febreze Set & Refresh at their website here. 

The new Febreze Set & Refresh Dual Refills are available beginning in August at major retailers nationwide with a suggested price of $4.49.

* * *

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Febreze and received a Set & Refresh unit plus refills to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”


Tonight, I looked up rattlesnakes on Google.

I can’t think of much more terrifying than encountering a rattlesnake in the wild.  I mentioned my fear to the lady at the dentist office back in Washington.  She assured me that she grew up in Orange County and never once saw a rattlesnake.

I felt comforted.

A couple of weeks ago, a news story described a young mom who was pushing her stroller on the sidewalk in my area.  And she didn’t notice the rattlesnake until after she rolled over it with her stroller.

The rattlesnake struck.  That mean viper bit her on the ankle.

Her husband went all Lone Ranger and tried to suck on the venom with his mouth.  (He was clearly a victim of way too many westerns on television as a child.)

The ambulance arrived and carried the snakebite victim (a mom pushing a stroller!) to the hospital where she was treated.

(She lived.)

I, however, died of fright.

The end.

No, actually, I did not die but my fear of rattlesnakes has been renewed.  I am going to have to learn as much about them as I can so I can avoid irritating them so they do not strike me with their deadly venom.

This sign at the park where Grace practices soccer does not put my mind at ease.  Help.

Keys without houses

They say you can’t go home again.  I know that’s true.

I can’t go home to that yellow house in Whispering Firs.  I can’t go home to that townhouse in Troutdale with the purple front door and the perennial garden in the back yard.   I can’t go home to that Cape Cod on ten acres in northern Michigan where the elk congregated behind the house.  I can’t go home to the house on the circle where my kids had snowball fights on those rare snow days in Washington.

I do probably have a house key for each of those homes.  Plus a few cars I used to own.  I can’t get rid of old keys.

It’s a quirk I have.

But I can’t go home to the past.  Those homes don’t really exist except in my  mind and heart.

My kids can’t go home either and that kind of breaks my heart.  They don’t know it now, really.  I know they think if we’d just get in the van and drive north on I-5 that we could just go home.  But home is gone.  Home is here now.

So I’m waiting for this house to feel like home.  My friend, Diane, once told me it takes five years to feel truly at home in a new place.  I’m trying to be patient.

Right now I feel detached.  I love my new house but we have some empty walls  and unpacked boxes and a dearth of memories here.

(To complicate matters, I find that I’m trying to let go of people who have already so easily let go of me.)

Life is a forward journey . . . so I’m trying to look forward and to stop looking over my shoulder to catch a glimpse of what I’ve left behind.

But it’s hard and sad sometimes.  I’m often too aware of what’s disappearing in the rear view mirror rather than grateful for what’s around the corner.  And I will never, ever get used to the absence of people who are no longer in my life.

Especially the people who never said good-bye for one reason or another.

Last week marked the twenty-second anniversary of my dad’s death.  I’ve lived almost longer without a dad than I lived with one.  I’m very nearly the age he was when he died.

I’m sad.   (But okay.)


Hiking through the weekend

I made soup from a Kabocha squash.  I felt all Martha Stewart about it until my family slurped it without enthusiasm only to be polite and I tasted it.  That was a lot of trouble for a very untasty soup.  So, no more.


My 9-year old spent a lot of time crying tonight because her friend’s bird died today.  I wanted to blot out that sad feeling so she’d not have to feel it.  But feeling sad is okay, I told myself, and maybe some day I’ll believe it.

I don’t really like feeling sad even though I tend toward that emotion.  (See also: Melancholia.)


Have I mentioned lately how much I loathe science experiments and crafting ridiculous things like barometers out of modeling clay and mason jars and balloons?  I am the kind of person who does not need to prove any scientific principle with my own two hands in order to believe it.

This is problematic because science experiments are expected in the curriculum Grace is using (through a charter school).   Therefore, I will spend my weekend “spare” time doing stupid science experiments and trying not to grumble.


An exterminator came this week to spray our house for teeny tiny ants.  Funny because in our Washington house we had the exterminator spray for big old carpenter ants.  I hope there are no medium sized ants in my future.

The exterminator had the nerve to show up at 7 a.m. even though our appointment was at 7:30 a.m., an ungodly hour in itself.


I am super overwhelmed by my schedule these days.  My job is a demanding–45+ hours a week.  Grace’s school-at-home is demanding.  There’s the whole feed-the-family and keep-the-family-in-clean-underpants thing . . . I keep doing the World’s Fastest Grocery Shopping trips and throwing together the most random meals.


Last summer, I took the kids to Mount Rainier.  It was so beautiful and I agreed to hike a trail with the boys.  I thought it was a short trail, but we trudged up and up and up . . . just around another corner, just over another hill . . . just when I thought the peak was close, the switchbacks appeared, the trail steepened.  I almost died and worried I’d rupture my Achilles tendon, not necessarily in that order.

That’s kind of how my life feels right now.  Up, up, up, around another corner, just a little farther, no, just a lot farther . . . look up and you’ll just see the trail steepening, switchbacks appearing.

I’d like to just sit down and stop.

But I can’t.

You know you’re overwhelmed when catching the flu sounds like an inviting one-way ticket to a day in bed.

Well, no time to contemplate how ridiculous that is because I have to get up in eight hours so I can go to a meeting, so I can meet my husband at the football field to watch my son play and pick up my daughter so I can take her to her soccer game so we can get back home and make stupid science projects and finish the laundry and clean up the house and cook dinner so I can get to bed at a decent hour so we can get up early for Sunday School and church so we can hurry home to finish up school work so we can go get soccer pictures taken so we can rush home to clean up and bake something or cut up some fruit–I sure hope we got to the grocery store at some point–just in time for our  company will arrive.

And then I have to start my four hour shift at 9 p.m.

Unless, of course, I come down with Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.

Wish me luck.

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