Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Perfect Mom

Last night while I was making dinner, Molly and Caroline watched an episode of “Everyday Italian” on the Food Network. They love Giada.

Now, I’m no Giada. That’s a given. But I can make a mean homemade spaghetti sauce: fresh herbs from the garden, home-grown tomatoes and onions, a bit of red wine. Yum! Caroline especially like spaghetti…and thinks my homemade sauce is just “ok”. She prefers Michael’s mom’s recipe: a jar of Prego.

Anyway, as Molly and Caroline watched Giada perform her magic on a pork roast, this is what I heard from the kitchen…

“I wish Giada was our mom!”

“I know! Then she could teach us how to cook.”

“Yeah, and she’s so pretty.”

I wanted to go in there and explain to these girls that, yes, Giada appears perfect in every way, but she also has a make-up person, a hair person, a stylist to pick out her clothes, and a prep staff to do all her chopping. But I said nothing. I gotta admit it: it stung just a bit.

This is not the first time I have been compared to another and fallen short.

But through all the seeming discontent, I remember the truth: They love me. They trust me. We have our own quirky routines and secret handshakes. And in the middle of a stomach-bugged night, who do you think they want holding their hair back and making sure the Cinderella trash can remains steady? Certainly not the everyday Italian. They want their everyday, sweatshirt-wearing, makeup-on-by-noon-if-you’re-lucky mom. That’s me. I know where I stand.

Later I got out some pots and pans and some odds and ends from the frig. Molly and Caroline like to pretend like they have their own cooking show. They even talk to the camera like Giada– it’s adorable.

So, maybe Giada does have a better wardrobe than me…and maybe her spaghetti sauce has that certain something that mine doesn’t, but I have something she doesn’t have, and that is Caroline and Molly. They are all mine (and Michael’s!)

Oh! Giada! If you’re reading this…no offense, ok?!!

Bless ya!

The Simple Life

Simplicity: Freedom from difficulty, complexity, or intricacy

Let’s face it…life is complicated. Since last spring I have been taking slow steps to rid my life of some complexity. One obvious place to begin was within my 4 walls. I’ve just been going room by room trying to take a good hard look at my “stuff”. Is it necessary? Do I use it? Does it just take up space? Do I have to clean around it?

I managed to rid my linen closet of 2 bags of stuff, from towels to sheets, right down to one of the vacuum cleaners. The kids’ possessions have been pared down as well (actually, just the girls so far…I’ve yet to muster the courage to enter the boys’ room).

In my bathroom, I’ve made some changes as well. No more moisturizers or products of any kind until the ones I have are gone. How did I end up with 6 bottles of lotion??

The most recent area to receive the treatment was my own closet. Yesterday evening I made the switch from summer clothes to fall/winter. I know that may sound odd to my central Illinois friends, but here in LA (lower Alabama) summer lasts at least until Halloween. It was almost 80 yesterday.

I went through every article of clothing. If it needed mending, out it went. Dry clean only? Buh-bye! (This may seem a bit extreme, but I just don’t live a lifestyle where I need much of anything fancy or high-maintenance. So, except for a couple things, I cleared that detail from my life.) The mountain of clothes in the “out” pile was bigger than the “keep” pile. I think I am the thrift store’s best friend. Was it scary? A bit. What if I need THAT black skirt? Forget the fact that there is another, lower-maintenance black skirt right there; what if I need THAT one?

The economic crises is affecting everyone, but I don’t really have many “assets” to fret over. And as the excess baggage is being purged from my life (and it's more than just clothes and bottles of lotion...other areas of life are having to be minimalized as well), it really is freeing me up to think about other things.

Now, I’m not going to go overboard or anything. The French Press will remain on my kitchen counter, and I’m not getting rid of ANY books – mine or the kids.

I guess my goal, ultimately, is to change forever the way my to-do list looks. Instead of it being filled with frantic attempts to maintain things that aren’t important in the whole scheme of life (organize linen closet, sort through bathroom cabinets), I’d like it to be more filled with things that are sweet to my soul (work on Mason’s scrapbook, take a picnic to the park, have coffee with _______ , write a note to_______ ). I’ve got to figure that if I have less “stuff” to organize or sort…there will be more of me to give to people I love.

What do YOU think?

Bless ya!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Painted Lattice

I was in charge of organizing the Women’s Retreat at our church. The retreat itself was this past weekend…our speaker was great, the retreat went according to schedule, etc. All was well.

Let me go ahead and say it right now: my husband is wonderful. He is a great dad and when he is home with the kids while I am out of pocket (as I was this past Friday and Saturday), I know the kids are going to have fun, and lots of it. Sure, the kitchen may be a little dirty when I get home, and the girls’ outfits may not exactly “match” (think purple pants and red shirt), but I am 100% sure they have been loved and cared for in my absence.

During this particular absence, however, things went a little more…awry…than usual.

For one thing, Michael decided to paint. The house. The rest of the house, I should say. The painting of the house is kind of a joke around here. See, it was a project that began mid-July. Yes, your calculations are correct: it has been 4 months in-process. We started with a bang, and we really did get the majority of the house covered in paint, but we fizzled out when we faced the lattice work around our deck. Michael was going to borrow a sprayer from a friend, messages were left. Then, we moved into Lovebug season. Imagine millions of little mating bugs floating around, landing on everything – especially everything white (the color we were using!). Painting was put off again.

The Saturday morning of retreat weekend seemed, to Michael, as good a time as any, so with no thought to my being absent from home (he is such a renaissance man!), the painting began. Imagine my happiness when I pulled into my driveway and saw a gleaming white, Lovebug-free lattice!

I was pleased as the proverbial punch. My husband – painter of lattice! I saw Ethan running to me as I got out of the car. Wait…is he covered in paint? Are those the new Oshkosh sweatpants? Ummmm…yep. And Caroline…are those the black GYMBOREE LEGGINGS that I bought to go with virtually everything this winter? Uh-huh (Alex…gasp with me!! Feel my pain!). Molly…did any white paint get anywhere other than your clothes?

OK – don’t panic. Don’t worry! It’s just clothing! They have more! It’s really no big deal.

Wait…are those white footprints? On the carport floor? In the VAN? ON THE COMFORTER IN THE GUESTROOM??? Yes, not only were the kids clothes (and hair!) coated in paint, so were the van floor and my guestroom comforter.

I tease Michael (because these kinds of things have happened before…also with paint) that he should just go into the kids’ closets, pull out their nicest stuff and pick a dirty project. I didn’t think he took me seriously.

I balled up the clothes and threw them out. The paint on the floor of the van will eventually blend in with all the other funk in there. The guestroom comforter? Well, that’s a little different…but I think that thing may be reversible. The important thing is that everyone is still alive, and the lattice is white. Michael is still wonderful, the kids had a wonderful time with their dad, and I got another lesson on what is (and is NOT) important.

One funny thing: the white paint on the comforter actually came from the bottoms of Molly’s shoes. See, Michael gave her some “discipline” for walking through spilled paint, and then purposely walking around in the van making footprints. Seems like if he was giving her discipline for making paint footprints, he’d have checked the bottoms of her shoes before taking her inside to administer said discipline. I’m just sayin’.

Bless ya!