December 31, 2010

A Conversation About Sex

Does my title surprise you a bit?  Sorry to be blunt.  I have always thought that when approaching the topic of the birds and the bees that we shouldn't bring insects and flowers into the mix.  It's just confusing.  And I hate the symbolism of the bee flitting from flower to flower without commitment to any one flower, spreading pollen willy nilly without a care.  I know the flower needs the pollen to produce more flowers and it's part of the cycle of life but when comparing that to human interaction, it leaves me a bit miffed.  I believe in being up front and not giggling about it when you tell your kids.  Practice saying all the body parts without smirking so your kids will follow suit and take you seriously... It's a good thing.

Tonight I had a conversation not involving birds or bees with my daughter Big Girl.  I like to explain it to my kids before the playground version gets to them.  She will be 8 in a couple of months.  The others before her already knew the facts by this age. So, while I was wrapping presents for Little Girl's birthday party, I sprang the subject on her.  Of course I was gentle.  I told her about the sacred nature of intercourse.  I emphasized the commitment levels that should be involved first.  I told her that our bodies are amazing gifts that are sacred.  I told her sex was enjoyable and that it was a way to show love, but only within the right boundaries.

I am always a bit surprised by the various responses I have had over the years having this talk with my kids.  My first son was amazed by the biology aspect, my second son asked me a very important question "Are we done talking about this now?"  and my third son said "So you guys have had sex 5 times!?"  Big Girls reaction made me think that perhaps I had spoken to her about this sensitive subject a bit too soon.  Her big query was if Santa and Mrs Claus did this with each other.  I said I think most married couples do have sex, and we left it at that.  When I told T this he laughed and said that Mr and Mrs Claus definitely do have sex.  After all, they have all that mistletoe around the place.

So, what do you readers think?  If a kid is young enough to still believe in Santa that they are too young for "the talk"?

Maybe it is time for us to have another eye-opening chat about St Nick....  Just not this close to Christmas.

December 28, 2010


I am currently enjoying a break with T home for the holidays.  He goes back tomorrow and then I will officially start my Christmas Mourn.  Today we decided to brave the wintery winds and go see a movie.  I cannot recommend Tron I am afraid.  I was warned too.  I heard one reviewer on the radio who claimed to have a brain tumor caused by watching that movie.  Seemed a bit severe I thought,  and then I saw it.  I now see his point.  I told our friends who recommended the movie choice that I sure liked the ending.  That was code for "I was sure glad when it was over!"  So do yourself a favor and skip that movie.

Before our Tron experience we tried out our the brand new Five Guys that opened up in our fair city a couple weeks ago.  We were standing there waiting to order and looked behind us to find two Mormon missionaries.  We can spot them you see, because we are also LDS. (Latter Day Saints).  I said hello to them.  They had been figuring us out too I think.  A family of 7 you don't see often around these parts, and if you do they are either Mormon or Catholic.  Looking back I wish we had bought their lunch for them.  I wasn't thinking.  I know they are on a budget while they serve their missions.

Tragedy hit when I made a discovery at the movies.  Just as we were getting out of the car I looked around and found that my purse was missing.  I had left it at the hamburger place.  I was just about to return to Five Guys when my cell phone rang.  It was a friend who was dropping off a gift at my home.  She and I see each other 2-3 times weekly but couldn't seem to ever remember to exchange our neighborly gift.  We'd meant to do it several times and it had begun to be a bit of a joke.  Now here she was at my door and what just happened to be right on the way home from my house to hers?  You guessed it, Five Guys!  So she graciously agreed to go and check on my purse.  I sat there at the movies looking out at the freezing geese on the pond hoping that humanity would be on my side and that some honest person out there would turn in my purse preventing a huge headache for me.  Luckily someone did the right thing (I think, I haven't looked in the purse yet) and they turned in my purse for me.  I am grateful!  And now this gives me a perfect reason for gift giving (two days after Christmas) to my purse rescuing friend.  I think I should throw in a little something extra.

December 24, 2010

Are You Ready?

Are you ready for Christmas?  I hope so.  I'm ready in that I have purchased all my gifts and I would even declare myself ahead since I have started wrapping.  However, today I am in a sticky spot.  My youngest is home and I would love to wrap more but there are only so many movies I dare let her watch.  Not wrapping when I would like to is like having an itch that needs to be scratched and I can't reach it.  I need to wrap but alas, I cannot.  I am beginning to understand why the Santa I had growing up didn't bother with the trimmings and trappings of wrapping things up.  We'd rush in to a feast for the eyes taking in each unwrapped present all at once.  I thought I liked the idea of taking our time and appreciating each present individually.  So I wrap my kid's presents.  Instead we now get a glimpse of parents scolding children for not waiting and taking turns and we also know how each present is received (good or bad I might add).  I don't like the idea of staying up into the wee hours wrapping, so  maybe our Santa needs a new approach.  But how do you change something like that mid-stream?

Yesterday I tried wrapping while Little Girl slept and it totally backfired on me.  She snuck downstairs and walked right in on me!  She saw a Christmas gift intended for one of her brothers and asked what it was.  I just didn't have time to hide it.  I was lucky to get the stuff intended for her put away fast enough.  Now I am in a quandary as to what to do with this gift.  Do I still give it as a gift from Santa?  Will she be smart enough to remember?  Do I count on the distraction of her gifts to mask my mistake?  Then, to make matters worse, this morning she was foraging for stickers in a drawer in my bedroom and instead found some candy intended for our stockings.  I had been separating packages of Ande's mints out for everyone's stockings and had an extra so I stashed it unsafely away.  Now what?  Does everyone have to sacrifice for my foolish mistake?  Do I just tell her that Santa has the same taste in after-dinner-mints as me?  Will she even notice?  I know she probably will.  I hate to spoil the magic of Christmas for my 3 yr old.  It's almost over for Big Girl.  She plays along pretending to believe in Santa, and she is a terrible actress.  I have been down this road before and I know what I will say when the truth comes to the table.  Believing in Santa is believing in the true spirit of Christmas because we give without the recognition of being the giver.  Santa was once a real person on the earth (wasn't he?) who inspired these charitable acts and we follow in that tradition choosing to give on Christmas because that is the day that we recognize the biggest gift ever given.  The gift of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Then I tell them that I am just one of Santa's helpers.  I will never forget the reaction of my oldest son when I broke down and told him to prevent him being teased at school over it (he was getting too old and still believed).  He looked up at me and said "so it was you all the time?!"  and I thought he was going to lose it.  Then he surprised me by saying "Thank you for all those gifts Mom."  Yeah, he was once a sweet sweet boy.  Now sometimes I am tempted to put coal in his stocking, but overall he's alright.

I hope all you friends out there in bloggy land have a wonderful holiday!  And don't get caught with Andie's mints in your drawers two days before Christmas now you hear?

December 13, 2010

Spoiler Alert! If you are on our Christmas card list don't read....Unless you are the type who peeks into closets finding out what you get for Christmas early each year. Then you can go ahead : )

Here is our 2010 Christmas card letter.  It may have lost something in translation due to the formate and name changes I have made for use on the blog.  It may be a bit too long for those who don't really know my family.  It may be great writing or it may be a lame attempt.  But what you should know is that we usually take the writing of the Christmas letter pretty seriously around here.  This year we have a newspaper theme and it's the first repeat idea we've recycled in about 10 years of writing this stupid thing.  Do I sound bitter?  Well that is because it hasn't been mailed yet and I am in the throws of finding addresses, folding paper, getting stamps, wondering why we have 89 people on our list, etc...  I will be much better in a couple days.  Happy Holidays!

(Our Last Name) Times
December 2010

Little Girls’s Beat
Little Girl is on the case, with reporting skills like no other 3 yr old we know.  Her powers of observation know no limits.  Some may call it ‘tattling’ but that is just their bitterness talking.  Freedom of the press reigns supreme in this household.  In other Little Girl news, she reports that she is enjoying being “home schooled” by her Mother and is at the head of her preschool class.  Maybe next year Kelly will be able to cut the apron strings and send her last chick off to school.  Even though she is the youngest in the nest she rules the roost! 
Ask Big Girl
Big Girl is so thoughtful and she loves giving advice.  Just ask! She will solve any problem you readers have.  She is also our talented staff artist and now has a claim to fame with a fist full of ribbons, and $16.00 in prize money from our local fair this year.  Who cares if the dusty, un-mastered two-wheeled bike still taunts her from the garage.  She’s a friend to one and all.  Her other activities include piano, girl scouts,  and pretending she is a teacher to her many stuffed animals. We adore our Big Girl.
Little Boy About Town
SMMSS (single male middle school student) has recently discovered girls and is not ashamed.  He likes hot chocolate with whip cream, digging holes on the beach at sunset, and trying out new dance moves.  Anyone interested may find him in the middle school cafeteria each day at noon with a white carnation in his teeth and a peanut butter sandwich he’s willing to split with you in his sack lunch (peanut-allergic females need not reply).  In his spare time, he can be found practicing violin or running cross-country.  His parents are not trying to get rid of him any time soon.
Middle Boy For Hire
Whatever you need, Middle Boy’s your man.  He’s more than just your average handyman.  His handy texting skills are unmatched!!  He works hard at almost everything he does.  He also finds great pleasure in relaxing. Middle Boy’s baking is impressive and he is officially in charge of making our staff’s Sunday afternoon treats.  Middle Boy plays piano and lacrosse.  He does a good Justin Bieber impression for your next BGP (boy-girl party).  However, you’d have to pay him a million dollars first.  Hire him now, he needs the money for a new cell phone.
Big Boy News
Big Boy is growing by leaps and bounds and the only thing going faster around here is the food from the fridge.  His parents can’t understand where that cute little frog-loving boy went.  He has turned into a handsome prince who runs cross-country and plays violin beautifully.  He has been known to shave, drive and even date (usually in that order).  He will be leaving the nest in a few short years and we will all be crying into our pillows every night when that happens.
T and Kelly
These two have successfully completed another year of parenting together.  T ran a marathon in Baltimore.  Kelly watched him run a marathon in Baltimore.  Both felt very satisfied, but only one still has all her toenails in tact.  They are happy to still be together running in the marathon of life, and trying to pace themselves for the long haul! 

We hope this letter finds you well and happy.  Thank you for your friendship and love.  Please feel free to check in with us if you are ever in the DC area.  We love visitors!  Please visit our family website:
*All facts were accurate at the time this edition went to print. To renew your subscription to the Times please keep in touch!

December 11, 2010

Naughty...or Nice?

So of coarse I do what every mother does this time of year.  When a child misbehaves I tell them that "Santa is watching."  I even told my teenaged son that Santa was watching him just the other day.  He knew just what I meant too.  Santa can see into the rear view mirror in the van and see just what he is up to.  In years past I have even gone so far as to make a pretend telephone call to St Nick in front of the naughty child.  Why wouldn't any self-respecting mother resort to this tactic?  I say milk Santa for all he's worth while you still have kids believing and influenced by his magic mirror ball. This year I have had an interesting reaction from Little Girl.  No one has ever taken this message so internally before.  Each day when we go through the process of getting dressed there is stress.  Girls are so finicky about clothes.  What gives?  And it always seems that when time is short there will be some sort of clothing dilemma followed by short tempered mothers and crying girls.  Sometimes we make it through unscathed.

Anyways the usual conversation this Christmas season, after we have finally put clothing on her back, goes as follows: She looks up at me with her big blue eyes asking for an honest behavior evaluation.  She says sincerely "am I still on the good list?" I always assure her that she is still good in my book.  She refers to Santa's list of course.  Ever since I told her about it she seems obsessed with being on the right list.  In fact when things are not going well, I need only to mention the list and I get quite the reaction from her.  It is good in some ways but it has me wondering what windows to her personality I am getting a glance at here.  Since I have older kids too I know that some things they displayed as young toddlers are still with them later in life.  Does this mean she will be overly concerned with what people are thinking (or writing) about her.  Seeking too much for approval from others could be bad right?  Or good... Naughty or nice.  Only time will tell I guess.  I wish I had a magic mirror ball to see into the future for her.

December 09, 2010

What She Said

I found this essay on Facebook this morning.  Written by my lovely and newly engaged friend Stacey G.  Enjoy.....

Dear John Edwards,

We’ve never met.  I’m a 33 year old single mother of two.  I’ve been studying for the LSAT all day and getting less than desirable scores on my practice tests, so I’ll admit from the outset that I may be blunt, even coarse.  I’m too tired now to be anything else. 

I realize that it is bad karma for me to judge you at all.  Not just bad  karma, but a bad idea altogether.  I’ve made a myriad of mistakes in my life.  I don’t have the answers to the universe.  Actually, I don’t have any answers at all.  I especially don’t know the private battles that you’ve waged. I haven’t been inside your head or walked in your shoes.  I have no idea what sorts or scopes of emotions you have experienced.  It isn’t really that I want to judge you, however.  I don’t want to judge you.  I want to question as a means to understanding.  It is my own questions I want to answer, not yours.

I suppose by existing as a public figure, you are susceptible to this imposing of my personal questions upon your personal struggles.  I admired you. Some time ago I endorsed your candidacy, wrote blog entries on your qualifications.  But in actuality, you could be anyone.  You could be Tiger Woods.  Tony Parker.  Bill Clinton. Prince Charles.  The list. The list goes on.   

What I really want to know: Was she worth it?  Or if I was going to ask Tiger: were they worth it?  Even as I ask the question, I’m not sure if I’m asking about people or orgasms or flattering words pressed against ears or texts jumping off cell phone screens.  But in any of these cases, I would love to know:  Were they worth it?

What was the motivation? I’m dying to know. Was it a need for power?  An ego thing—an intense need for approval, flattery, attention?  Was it part of an addiction?  Was it for no discernable reason at all?  Does it even matter?

You see, I guess I am old-fashioned in that I still believe that people who love each other should be true to each other.   It’s hard for me to understand what proves difficult about this.  Isn’t it possible?  I don’t want to hear about the evolutionary baggage that you carry as a man, the instinctual and continual urge you may have to reproduce and guarantee the continuance of the human race (that was millions of years ago, surely you can rise above it) or the pressure involved in being a public figure.  I’m sure it presents its challenges, but we all choose our paths and we all have to deal with the effects of those decisions.  Some people have to bust concrete all day and can barely feed their families and they find ways to deal with their stress which doesn’t involve hurting and humiliating their significant other.

I guess I am also old-fashioned in that I believe that if you aren’t happy in a particular situation you find yourself in, then you should definitely change something or many things, but change them in the correct order.  If you don’t want to be with someone, tell them that and get out.  Then move forward and begin again.  Sometimes I feel like the world I live in finds these ideas horrifically antiquated.  And that makes me sad.  I’m not a traditionally religious woman.  I don’t think that God will smite me if I hurt others.  I don’t believe in any real concept of hell.  I do believe that a basic humanity exists in love, kindness and compassion.  I do believe that we should have a basic reverence in our interactions with other people.  Whenever our actions significantly affect another life we should tread cautiously, thoughtfully, purposefully.

Was it worth it?  I have no idea.  I’m asking.  Maybe Elizabeth yelled at you daily over breakfast and hit you over the head with a frying pan each time you walked in the door and you felt so claustrophobic in your marriage that you had trouble sleeping.  How should I know?  All I could see was a beautiful, intelligent woman who stood by your side in so many ways.  Beautiful children.  Something that maybe you would want to see in a tribute video projected on a backyard screen for your 85th birthday party someday.  Something worth fighting for.   Maybe?  I hear stories like yours and I wonder how a moment or even a string of moments could be worth risking something you have been laboring for your whole life.

Why do I care about your life?  Why am I spending whatever free time I have at the end of this long day pounding out an imaginary letter to you on my laptop keyboard?  Maybe because the media doesn’t let me ignore the list.  And  maybe because these questions float above me like a trailing cloud.  Just as I haven’t lived inside your head, you haven’t lived inside mine.  You don’t know the personal sorrows I’ve experienced or the battle wounds that have resulted in my own personal scars.  I see Elizabeth and I see that she was one woman.  And at the same time, she was every woman.  She worked hard for her family, she suffered personal sorrows.  She supported her significant other.   For every individual, the details vary, but a basic desire remains the same.  All of us, male or female, want to know that the person who we labor beside is truly in our corner.  On our side of the river.  We have to trust.  We have to believe in that.  We hope, with all of our hearts, that it is possible. 

I wish you all the best John Edwards—politician, father, estranged husband.  I hope you can find happiness in your life and live out the rest of your days in peace.   May Elizabeth rest in peace.  Her work will not be forgotten.  I hope many find it in their hearts to donate to the Wade Edwards foundation.  I also hope many find it in their hearts to treat others as they would like to be treated.  A basic humanity that encompasses honesty, trust and compassionate love.  I don’t care if it is antiquated.  I’m standing by the definitions of what I hope to be able to live and experience.

December 04, 2010

My Christmas Rx

This holiday season I am trying to keep a level head.  I love the Christmas season but I do not enjoy the stress of Christmas preparations.  I also feel the over indulgence of this season to be a bit of a downer.  I look at the toys tossed aside and broken from last year's Christmas holiday (or even this past October's birthday) and I get a bit sick inside.  Why are we training our children to be selfish and to look for their happiness in the next new thing?  Why is it that on one of the most thankful days of the year (Thanksgiving) I find myself wondering what things I can shop for the next day on black Friday?  What kind of example am I setting here?

I found myself in a cranky pre-season mood the other day and I diagnosed myself with the stress-of-the-Christmas-season blues.  I think I may have just concocted a cure.  Quiet time, and service to others.  Recommended dose? One time daily.

The other day on the radio I heard that as a society we spend over 80 percent more time taking in information in one form or another (TV, computer, cell phones, emails, etc) than we did just 40 yrs ago.  All this uptake of information isn't necessarily good.  We need to make time for silence.  One caller pointed out that Einstein used to take long quiet walks to reflect on the deep things he was thinking about.  I thought to myself, now that seems like a good idea!  It's just that as a mother of 5 I find quiet time a bit hard to come by.  I am always thinking of what stuff needs to be done and I can't really sit still for long without feeling guilt.  But like I said, I had this cranky day and I needed to think about how to make the next one better.  I am a repentant person generally, and if I can make things better I will try.  So after a long day of decorating the house for Christmas I decided to just sit back and admire my handiwork for a spell.  I  sat there for over 15 minutes just taking in the pretty mantel in my banana rocking chair on the floor.  Someone called me and I ignored.  I thought of something I needed to do, but brushed it aside.  Middle Boy came down and we had a nice chat.  I just stared into the twinkle lights on the mini-trees.  Then in my stillness came the idea to do something nice for my grumpy oldest teenager.  Melt his cold winter heart a bit.  So I enlisted the help of my two youngest girls who are always up for some niceness.  We decorated a one foot white plastic tree that we had sitting in a box and we placed it secretly on the desk in his room.  We propped up with orthodontic wax under one side since it's missing one of it's legs.  Then we excitedly waited for him to be surprised.  It was fun.  He really did like it I think.  Although, with teens it's hard to tell sometimes.  All I know is that he has been more charming to me ever since.

And since that day I have managed to find (at least one time a day) time to reflect and do nothing.  And in that time I usually think about what I can do that day (however small) to serve another person.  I find this is helping my perspective on the season to be much more in focus.  And just so you won't think me a bragging patron saint of service I will divulge that today my act of service was to not lose it with my 3 year old when she had a mega tantrum about her hairdo minutes before we had to be out the door this morning.  I just walked away and let her scream her "I hate Moms" at me from afar.  As it turned out, she managed to turn her frown upside down much sooner than usual.  And we weren't even late for school : )

Fa la la la la la la la la!