Another Blogger Idol!

Last year, I submitted the worlds worst Blogger Idol audition.  I don’t know, maybe I was drunk after the inhalation of too many cleaning products, or suffering from mom-brain, or perhaps I just cracked under the pressure.  It was embarrassing really.  This year, I have decided to try again.  So try again I will.

What does this mean?  This means that all 6 of my blog followers (thanks mom and dad and Aunt Sally) will be inundated with sappy and whiney requests from me on a fairly continual basis to VOTE for me each and every week.  And hopefully you will, not because you are family – but because you actually like the things I write.

On a more serious note, I am constantly telling my kids to follow their dreams, to take risks, to put themselves out there. The reality is that while I am a freelance writer who has become fairly established and actually gets paid to write – I don’t put ME out there.  Maybe its the fear of criticism, or the fear that people who disagree with what I write will turn internet trolls, or maybe it’s just because of FEAR  PERIOD, that I make excuses of being too busy (blah blah blah) as a reason for NOT putting ME out there.  Whatever it is, telling my kids to do something that I am not willing to do makes me a hypocrite.  Which is exactly why I am trying again.

So here’s to Blogger Idol 2013!  If you are hiding behind fear, you too should audition!  Here’s a link to help you do so.

3 Ways Cash-Strapped Parents Can Save for Their Kids’ Summer Activities

clip-art-sale-096045

Remember when we wrote about buying clothes for girls when you’re broke? Well, if you’re still broke – which most of us are when we have kids (even if our income tax returns don’t quite reflect that) – and you’re heading into a season of summer sports and activities, you’re about to find life gets a whole lot more expensive and you’re probably pulling your hair out trying to determine how you can afford to do it all.

You know, you’ve got your kids whining (errrr, asking?) if they can go to horseback riding camp, take swimming lessons, or play baseball. You know that these are activities that would enrich their lives. You also know that it’s going to be a very long summer if you don’t get them out of your hair while they’re out of school for the season.

So, even if you don’t think you can afford to do it all, desperate times come to desperate measures and there are ways you can make it work for the sake of your sanity.

  1. Find ways to save on  activities - many children’s activity programs offer discounts if you register early. They want to have registration completed well in advance,   that way they know whether the program is worth running, and so they can staff it accordingly. What these activity programs also know is that  parents just are not well-organized in advance without motivation, after      all, we’re extremely BUSY! But money is motivation, so they offer these  discounts. Seriously, they do, you might just not know it if you’ve never  asked early enough. So, try it, you may find that you get something out of it that helps your budget on your kids’ activities!
  2. Save on other things for  the kids – even if you’re saving on things that are unrelated to the  activities, you can “find” money by saving on the kids’ usual expenses if you are a smart shopper. If you’re sneaky enough about it, the kids will never notice that anything’s changed in their lives either. If you promised your little boy or girl a room makeover if they get good grades,  that’s still an option. Just look for a Pottery Barn Kids promo code instead of buying furniture and decor at full  price. You can also shop wisely for their summer clothes, using some of  the tips you learned when you read my other blog about how to cut back on kid-related expenses. Your kids won’t know the difference, but you will when you have extra money available to you.
  3. Spend less on  activity-related equipment - there are coupons at NerdWallet and  other coupon and discount sites that can help you reduce the cost of  sporting equipment, and virtually anything else kids might need when they are getting out of the house. If your kid is trying a new activity for the  first time, it’s also wise not to drop a bundle because they might only  use that baseball bat for one season and decided they’d rather do ballet instead. You can buy used, shop when there are sales or use coupons to  help save money.

If you implement these tips, you might just find that your kids and all things that you have to provide them with are a little less expensive.

 

The Little Lemon Tree That Wouldn’t Quit

Its December.

There are tell-tale signs of the transitioning seasons perfectly orchestrated by Mother Earth everywhere around me.  Squirrels are in a frenzy, harvesting all the nuts from under the baron pecan trees that drape our rural Georgia property.  The leaves from the now sleepy tree limbs that no longer provide protection from the hot searing rays of summer have been collected off the dying grass and piled with precision into the garden where they will eventually be tilled into the soil that will grow delicious spring and summer vegetables.

The air is cool.  Not as cool as it is in the rest of the country.  While we have had our first frost, we still have days that call for short sleeves or light jackets.

It was almost 70 degrees on the day we put up our Christmas tree and hung garland on our fences.  Yes, the weather in Georgia is one of the beauties of living in the south.

And then there is THIS.

The little lemon tree that produced one sole piece of fruit last year, that we thought was dead, that although we knew wasn’t being planted in the optimal climatic environment, was planted among peach and pear and apple trees in the orchard behind our house.

This little lemon tree, despite the cooling temperatures, despite the frost, and despite the fact that the entire landscape around our home is void of color and looks dead, drab and dull like winter in full bloom, despite the fact that it is December and just a few days from winter solstice -  has remained vigilant, and vibrant green and neon yellow.

During the day, this little lemon tree shines brighter than all the holiday lights hanging on the fancy lights in town. 

Beneath the tree, the crispy straw like grass has been littered with what looks like buckets of passionate lemons and the branches are still clinging to the softball sized lemons that are not quite ripe, or ready to fall off the tree.

It’s December.  I have been told time and time again that lemon trees don’t grow in this part of northern Georgia.  This little lemon tree should be dead, and at the very least paying attention to the cries of Mother Earth, or Mother Nature – who say it is time to sleep.  But this little lemon tree is not ready to die or quit.

This little lemon tree is a mother. A father.  A parent. 

It has work to do that cannot be hindered by bleakness.  And apparently, it is determined to shine despite the dozens of huge fruit trees, now completely empty and raw, that over shadow it in the orchard.

Every day, I expect to see signs of winter death.  And every day, I see more lemons on the ground, and the determined refusal to wither. 

A beacon of light in a world that sometimes can feel so dark. 

A remarkable, beautiful and natural testament to faith and possibility, growth and life, love and endless devotion! A statement about life, persistence, and promise.  A defiance of the odds.  A glimmer of hope during a season of bleakness.  And most of all, a vision of promise.

I don’t know about you, but if this little lemon tree – so small and frail, can do the impossible – then I believe that we can too.

Maybe it is naïve of me to find peace and comfort in something as simple as the little lemon tree in the backyard that refuses to give up.  But this works for me, and serves as a very powerful reminder of the work that we, as parents – have yet to do in this world.  With our kids and with the children of the world. 

Now, I just want to be the lemon tree!

 

 

 

 

All I Want for Christmas

The strangest thoughts hit me when I am in the shower.

This is probably why I often forget to shave my legs, as I am so busy over thinking the world as I know it that the water runs cold before I can find a razor that the teen kids haven’t completely ruined.

Today, it hit me.  All these people asking everybody what they want for Christmas.  People asking me, what I want.  And of course, I say I don’t want anything.  You know, “I just want the kids to be happy, eat good food blah blah blah.”  Truth is, I’m just glad when Christmas is over so I can relax a little.

Then today as I grabbed for the shampoo bottle and had to maneuver the stupid top off, mix some water in it in order to get a smidgen out to wash my hair with, I realized I wanted shampoo for Christmas.  When there was no conditioner left, I wanted conditioner.  And as I searched for the refreshing bar of Irish Spring to lather with….it too, was gone.  So I bathed in hand sanitizer because it was the only thing I could find.  Then, I added soap to my mental list of Christmas gifts.

As if the Universe was guiding me toward my perfect Christmas wish, I got literally one freaking squirt of deodorant out of MY can of deodorant, which means my left pit is going to be foul before the day is through.  Deodorant for Christmas would be nice too I thought.

My wanting didn’t stop there either.

I was almost out of laundry detergent, didn’t have any fabric softener which is one of my favorite things in life, and only had half a bottle of dish detergent left.  Not to mention, there were two rolls of toilet left, and the 500 pack of Q-tips I swear I bought last week, was almost empty.  No hairspray, and my face powder which I use regularly, was busted up into tiny little pieces.  Since no one said anything about it, I am assuming the Elves did it.

I imagined how amazingly nice it would be to have a refrigerator sized box filled with all those necessities in life that I keep running out of.  A huge massive box filled with LIFE SUPPLIES.

With four girls in this house, we go through lots and lots of stuff.  Shampoo, toilet paper, conditioner, soap, deodorant, make-up, paper towels, laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets, Lysol, Clorox Kitchen and Bath cleaner, ziplock bags (because I pack lunches), aluminum foil, female hygiene products and of course several packs of pens because I can never seem to find one when I need it.

You get it, we go through a lot of stuff around here in record speed.

I wouldn’t even mind if the box had some make-up, baby powder, several extra bars of soap, a pack of  Red Solo cups and paper plates (because I hate doing dishes), double a batteries and anything else that some creative person could think of.

And since it would be a Christmas present, Suave conditioner would not do, I would want Pantene and Duracell batteries.  Throw in some razors and a few extra packs of lipstick and mascara and perhaps a few bags of Fritos honey barbecue twists, two boxes of the ‘good’ kitchen trash bags I am too cheap to buy,  and I think it would be the best Christmas gift ever.

Instead of running to the pantry or looking under the sink only to be disappointed with the realization that we are yet again, out of something that I need, I could carve a door in my refrigerator box, open it – and find my goodies.

This would be the gift that would keep on giving.

This would seriously make me the happiest mama/woman in the world

And sadly, I am being completely serious. 

Screw jewelry and new tennis shoes and clothes I will never wear.

I hate hate HATE shopping for this stuff.  I hate going to the grocery store and then having to hike all the way across the damn place to the cosmetics/beauty section to get hygiene products.  I hate buying toilet paper all the time.  I hate always being out of those little things that you don’t think about until you don’t have them.  What a load off my mind this refrigerator box full of goodies would be.

What do I want for Christmas this year?

I want a Honey Boo Boo childs’ Mama stockpile of goods for Christmas wrapped in a super sized refrigerator box.  That’s what I want. 

And then, when its empty – I would have a nice, safe place to hide.

The Wh@re List

The day before Thanksgiving, I checked my teens Facebook pages, feeds and phones to see what the teen culture was up to.  I do this often, and take it upon myself to delete friends and pages that I find to be inconsistent with the values I am trying to raise my children with.

And to be honest, I don’t care if you think that it is controlling to go through their phones, or that it crosses a boundary of privacy, or is wrong in any way - because I STRONGLY feel it is a parental right and RESPONSIBILITY to do so.  I do not want to be one of those parents caught with my pants down because I wasnt paying attention. 

The truth is that today, the teenage diary has been replaced with text messages, Facebook, instagram and twitter.

The only difference (and its a big ONE) is that while a diary was private, and kept under the mattress – these online diaries are a part of SOCIAL MEDIA.  Social, being the keyword.

And while I would never discount the intelligence of todays teens – the truth is from what I see on social media – they are pretty damn naive when it comes to ‘airing dirty laundry’ and completely ignorant when it comes to posting inappropriate things online.

On this particular routine check of Facebook there was post after post after post about ‘the list.’

“This list” the kids, ranging in age from 4th graders to seniors in high school, were talking about was a “WHORE LIST’ where some kid with too much time on their hands and not enough supervision, decided they would name the top 30 male and female whores from all of the area high schools.  WTF?

I saw the list.  Right there for the world to see on some teenage boys Facebook page, with a bunch of girls tagged and labeled like cattle for all the world to see.  WHORES. 

It had been shared numerous times and was spreading like wildfire on twitter and Facebook.

The thought of this list, made me weak in the knees and sick to my stomach. I wanted to vomit and wished in that moment that I had the power to completely shut down Facebook.

I imagined the girls who woke up that day, checked Facebook – only to find themselves shamed in such a huge way.  I imagined the parents – some who will never know what was going on, having to deal with this situation and console their daughters in the meantime.

I imagined how so many lives were likely changed in an extremely profound way - within seconds – because someone chose to spread their ugliness within the buzzing world of teen social media. I imagined the kids making the list in the wee hours of the night, not just unaware that their actions were going to emotionally scar so many people – but also uncaring of the repercussions their words, ONLINE, would have to others.  (Probably even people they didn’t even know)

Sadly, the whore list has escalated and hurt even more people since Thanksgiving.  While the kids have wised up a little and are now mass creating and sharing the lists over text messages, there are still a bunch of parents asleep at the wheel.  And now, instead of whore lists for high schools, there are whore lists for each individual grade in the high schools.

The principals and school administration is  now involved.

And yet REALIZE THIS no adult, even in authority, can keep up with the quick pace of social media when teens are using smartphones and tablets, computers and passwords to perpetuate the meanness.

It is the snowball effect and the only way to stop it is to PREVENT IT!

My girls were not involved in any way, and I told them that they were not to comment, like, share or participate, and I made them delete the people who were involved.

I tried to explain how awful this whore list was, and tried to describe how those girls must be feeling.  Even if they pretend they don’t care, they do.  Even if they dress provocatively, they didn’t deserve this.  Even if they are laughing about it on the outside, there is a piece of them – a piece of their innocence, that is forever gone.  That has been forever taken away by mean and heartless bullies hiding behind a computer screen. 

I know this. I know this firsthand, because I was called a whore and a slut once in high school, and I know how badly it hurts, especially when you did nothing to deserve the label.  I know how it bites and eats away at self esteem and self worth when you are just trying to fit in, and be liked.

But thank God in my day, there wasn’t the fertile soil of social media to help produce massive trees of emotional pain.

I’m sorry for this generation of teens growing up with social media.  I am deeply sorry for any of the girls that ended up on the whore list.  And I am really sorry for the kids who created it in the first place, who have somehow also set the wheels of karma in motion for themselves.

Imagine if your daughter was on the list…..

All I got to say is this….Check your kids goddamn online accounts! 

Dear Life #9

Dear Face,

I am not 16.  (Obvious from my wrinkles).  I am not pregnant. (Thank GOD!)  I am not pre-menstrual (Hallelujah shouts the family) I am not under a great deal of stress, at least nothing beyond the normal stress of life. I havent even been sweating profusely as of late.

And NO, I have not been eating chocolate lately as if it is the last food on earth and I have  avoided oranges and orange juice as of late because they both give me heartburn.

So tell me, WHAT. THE. HELL. IS. UP. WITH. THE. FRIGGIN. ZITS?

I am too old for acne.

I havent had four zits on my face at one time since I was like, 15.

Are you playing some cruel joke on me?  If so, its sooooooo not funny!

What Do Bumbo & Momspirational Have in Common? Lessons in Common Sense and Responsibility

We’re both being sued.  :(

Okay, let me clarify.  Momspirational is not being suedAnd I am personally, not really – in the see-you-in-court-and-take-all-your-money sense of being sued, being sued. 

But a crazy lady who lives up the street from me, did have an attorney (Who I think is probably a friend of hers, although I cannot imagine this lady has friends) send me a demand letter for $85.00.

Here’s the scoop?  On July 4th  - just as I was about to leave the house to attend a parade that my children were in, a 60ish old crabby lady came riding down my street on her bike.

Realize that my street has no shoulder, no sidewalks, and is literally caressed with woods on every side of the road.  People drive like 80mph down my street, and there are some pretty bad turns by my house where people have been killed in accidents.  (Probably trying to avoid idiots who ride their bikes on this part of the road)

We happen to live on 67 acres of this land.  And when she rode her bike down the street, my dogs – doing what dogs do….barked.  And barked.  And barked.   (The mean and aggressive dog that I own was barking from inside his dog pen because we have to keep him locked up)

So idiot does what any sensible person does, right?

She leaps off her bike right in front of my house, in my driveway in fact – un-holsters her BEAR spray (Yes,BEARS PRAY) and sprays our huge, but amazingly friendly Great Pyrenees.

Only, the plan backfires, and the spray hits the wind and hits her instead.  She called an ambulance and the police.  The police called animal control.  Meanwhile, Gator (My Great Pyrenees is nowhere to be found), and I am standing in the road with a crazy, and I mean C.R.A.Z.Y person.

So, now months later – she is suing me for $85, for damages to her bike and likely to replace her $62 bottle of BEAR spray.

Okay – no big deal, right?  I am reasonable person – and I will pay crazy her $85, because my dog frightened her and made her spray herself with Bear Spray. I understand that had she not been afraid of my dog, she wouldn’t have sprayed herself with Bear Spray – and subsequently damaged her bike. I also understand that our Great Pyrenees is like 130 pounds and could be perceived as threat.  I get all of that!

My QUESTION IS – Whatever happened to common sense, responsibility and courtesy?

First of all, we only live a few miles apart.  We are ‘neighbors.’ right?

Even while she was OFFENDING me in my own driveway by acting as if my home, where I LIVE with my family, was the scummiest place she has ever laid eyes on, I offered to take her and her ‘alleged’ broken bike home.

I apologized profusely and even tried to offer her advice about better places in the area to ride a bicycle.  Certainly, if you feel the need to troll around with bear spray, you might be on the wrong road, right?  (BTW – No Bears here in western Georgia).

I explained that I personally wouldn’t walk, ride, or run down our road because there are dogs, and deer, and wolves and coyotes everywhere – just waiting to take a bite or scare the hell out of CRAZY people.  (Her response – was that she should be able to ride her bike where she damn pleased)  So watch out for this crazy person on the interstate, where she might likely be riding next.  

I told her on the spot that I would be glad to pay for damages (okay, well not GLAD, but you know the spiel), while she threw her finger in my face – almost touching my nose and actually slinging a little spit -spewing lies and hate.  I composed myself despite the fact that this woman thought she was better than me in nearly every way a human can be better.  

I gave CRAZY my phone number.

So, why doesn’t CRAZY just call me and tell me that she has a receipt and that she wants me to pay her for ‘damages?’  Why get a nasty lawyer, who didn’t even graduate from an accredited law school to send me a letter?  Why not handle herself like an adult and assume FIRST that I will be a responsible and reasonable adult.  Then, if I don’t – hire a lawyer.  And honestly, what lawyer can you retain for damage claims of $85.

Same thing with Bumbo.  I personally loved the Bumbo seats. (No, they aren’t paying me to say this)

My kids never got hurt using one, because I never left them on countertops or near fireplaces, or decided to go in another room and have sex with my husband while my infant was in a Bumbo seat.

Let’s be real – when you got a little baby, the potential for danger is literally everywhere.  Which is precisely why – everything baby comes with the SUPERVISION REQUIRED warning.  Common sense says don’t use a Bumbo in the bathtub – don’t use it as a car-seat, don’t leave your child on a tabletop, or put the Bumbo on the countertop RIGHT next to the stove while you are frying chicken.

Where the heck has common sense and simple decency and RESPONSIBILITY gone?

Do McDonalds and Starbucks; really need to put a disclaimer on hot chocolate and coffee that warns people that the contents are hot?  (You’d be pissed if you ordered hot coffee and it was cold, right?)  Do people who have horses really need a sign that reminds people that horses can be dangerous creatures hanging on their barn?  Does Wal-Mart really need to continue printing “Suffocation hazard” on plastic bags?

Apparently, they do.  Because people are freaking crazy. And the world is full of idiots with no common sense.

I whole heartedly believe in the laws of attraction, and that we somehow get back what we put out there in this world.  So of course I have to wonder what it is about ME – that attracted Crazy.  Being treated like a piece of trash by her and her so-called attorney, really hurt my feelings even though I am joking about it now.  Maybe it was simply another urge from the universe to use my voice rather than always take the ‘high road.’  (I still havent figured it out!)

But I would have NEVER in a million years, treated another human this way.  If my baby toppled over in a Bumbo seat, I would never sue the company.  I would take responsibility and use my common sense.

It’s simple, treat others as you would like to be treated.  Why is that becoming so hard for people to do these days?

This is exactly why as bad as I want to pay CRAZY her $85 in pennies delivered via a 5 gallon bucket filled with manure at the bottom, I won’t do that.  (Even though it would be considered legal tender – I checked)

Anyone got answers for this one?

 

 

Want More Children? Are You Sure

I recently shared a post over at Professors House that sort of details how I feel about giving up the baby making phase of my life. For me, the decision that I was done was clear-cut. In other words, I was ready. Once my husband got clipped, I never once looked back or even felt twinges of regret.

I do realize however that for many women, this decision doesnt come easy. There is always that inkling in the back of a moms mind that perhaps they are meant to have another child.

Please take a quick clicking leap over to Professors House and let me know what you think.

Are you ready to give up on having more children? How did you come to the decision, or what is holding you from being certain one way or the other?

 

Bottom line, there is no right or wrong decision. This is a personal, individual decision! Blessings..

Momspirational’s First Parenting Poll -

SMOKING HOT MAMA’S

Wow, this has turned into quite a cat fight.  Amazing how moms can be so judgmental against one another. 

What are your thoughts.  Join in NOW!

http://www.planningfamily.com/blog/smoking-hot-mamas/