From the top: The Brainiac and The Athlete dressed as Sarah Palin and a gangsta, My nephew The Prince in his lion costume and my Chiropractor's dog Bumbles dressed as a bumble bee.
|Turnips or rutabagas|
|Green cabbage heads|
The correct answers are: Ireland, Spirit Day, turnips and ruatabegas, Haddonfield, Ill. and princess.
These are the gravestones the Brainiac made with her dad when she was nine years old. They cut them out of wood and used a burning tool to write the messages, which I dreamed up.
Every year since then we make a little graveyard on either side of the walkway to the house to scare the trick-or-treaters.
Last year I had to ask a neighbor kid to put up the graveyard with me. The Athlete was too busy and The Brainiac was clearly not interested.
This year it was just The Entrepreneur out there with me, pounding the stakes into the ground and hanging the bats and cobwebs.
Part of me wanted to avoid the dangerous climb up the ladder to the crawl space over the garage where the tombstones live the rest of the year. But Halloween would feel kind of wrong without them.
That's how it is with traditions. Pretty soon you are doing them because it feels weird not to.
I have a little prediction that one day those tombstones will be like the cookie jar that my dad got his Oreos out of every night after dinner. They will be fought over by the very children who now think they are a little bit silly.
How smart that there are four of them. One for each kid to carry on the tradition.
I made the mistake of reading my horoscope (above) this morning. Just back from my mini-vacation and finally at the end of fall cleanups for my gardening business, I was actually considering loafing about this morning.
Now I've got my horoscope bossing me around, asking what I plan to accomplish.
- Order the invitations for The Overachiever's graduation party
- Wrap the Halloween gifts for The Athlete's gym buddies
- Order the packaging for my Christmas candy
- Call my Mom
- Make my Christmas budget so I can break it
- Clean the one kitchen cupboard that is supposed to set me on a path of eventually cleaning them all
Sibling Number Eight sent me a link to this funny post yesterday. It got me thinking.
Sure, the goals these boys had were silly ones, but they were goals anyway.
I have kind of a love/hate relationship with goals. Sometimes I don't like the process of getting them, like when I was training for my first 5K run this summer, but I do like having them.
This guy I knew once was a Goal Getter. He was fascinating to have dinner with. He had traveled all over, been a dealer in Vegas, a teacher, a writer and a chef. He had a personal anecdote for any topic that came up.
I think it would be fun to be one of those people.
I think one big goal a year is reasonable for a not-so-young mom with four kids and a business to run, so that's what I'm going to start with.
I also think this next goal should utilize my mind, since my body is still recovering from meeting the last one.
Any ideas? I'd love to get a sibling or reader to join me.
Let's get our Bucket List going.
My sister Anne, Sibling Number Four, has a new little boy in her life. He is the seven-year-old son of her boyfriend Joe. Her kids are grown and out, and now she is helping to raise another boy. She is a good sport about it though. She sees it as an opportunity to re-do all the mistakes she made as a young mother using all of her new wisdom.
She calls him her Mulligan.
This weekend I went to visit The Prince, my much adored nephew and the son of Sibling Number Eight.
She is a first time mother in her late 30's. And I have to say that so far I don't see any reason she will be needing a Mulligan. But I think I might be using The Prince for mine.
It's kind of tricky to pass on any parenting advice to this sister, because she has always been kind of the overachiever of the family and has researched many aspects of this parenting thing.
She has sticky placemats for the restaurant tables, Purell for the germs after Kindermusic, toys that sing "hello" in five languages and baby food that doesn't come from a jar.
I am happy to report, however, that this weekend I have added value to the life of The Prince by finding and purchasing the rattle eggs that he loves at Kindermusic, discovering that he won't cry during his diaper change if he has a sticker to play with and teaching him to say his first word (and making sure it was not "DOG" as his father requested).
His first word is his favorite toy in the whole world. It is what his dad plays with him every day when he comes home from work. I said that word to him 1000 times and signed it 100. And then he said it!
The Prince said "BALL!"
That beats the first word record of my daughter, The Overachiever, by one full month.
And that is an excellent Mulligan for me.
This is The Prince. He is the adorable son of Sibling Number Eight. I am flying on a plane to visit him today as I promised I would try to do as often as I could when I agreed to be his Godmother. This time it has been almost four months since I have seen him and I know he has lots of new tricks to show me.
I am leaving my children and pets in the capable hands of The Entrepreneur, who will be lots more fun than I am and disregard the rule about sugar only once a day.
I may try to blog or I may just play with the Prince and the new boats I am bringing him for the bathtub.
Anyway. I know I will be having fun!
There are so many goodbyes coming up.
The Brainiac is spending her last winter with us before she heads off to college.
The Overachiever has landed a job in the big world and is moving out with her two cats in December. I knew I would miss her but who knew I would miss those cats?
The Athlete has bid us a mental farewell, keeping most of her thoughts to herself and spending more time in her room the way that teenagers do.
A feeling of panic is setting in.
After I finishing closing down my gardening business this week, I think I need to spend a day or two with all the old videos and photo albums and remember that these are the quiet days I used to long for when I was completely responsible for the lives of four little people.
My plan is for it to make me feel accomplished as in: "Look at how nicely they all grew up!"
But who am I kidding. There will need to be Kleenex. I'm going to be a Sentimental wreck.
Here is the way your life gets more complicated as your kids grow up: They start to have Significant Others that they bring home for you to meet, and then suddenly you feel like you have eight kids instead of four.
But when it gets REALLY complicated is when your grown-up kid has a BIG LONG relationship with someone, and they start to come to all of your family functions, and you start to love them like they were your own kid and then your kid for some reason BREAKS UP with them and you don't get to see them any more.
I was thinking about this last night, because Mr. Nice Guy asked us out to dinner to meet his new girlfriend.
I really liked the new girlfriend. She is smart and pretty and has green eyes just like me and she told me a really funny story about a migrant worker working at her parent's orchard who is stalking her.
But I'm afraid to like her too much. Because maybe later I will have to go to the restaurant where she works to visit her like I do with Mr. Nice Guy's old girlfriend.
I know I have to keep my opinions to myself, but does Mr. Nice Guy know that any girl would be lucky to have him?
Does The Overachiever know that just because she found love early doesn't mean she won't find love again?
Does The Brainiac know that she has found her perfect match and should hang on with a tight grip?
And why can't The Athlete figure out that her best friend down the street with the beautiful blue eyes, who calls her his Jenny (Forrest Gump reference) is her soul mate and not the guy who broke up with her in a text message last week.
Hopefully, in the end, we will end up with the perfect cast.
The Opinion Shirts
My hubby, The Entrepreneur, is becoming very opinionated. It started when he ditched his corporate job a couple of years ago.
All of the suits and shiny shoes in his closet began to get dusty, along with the classy crew-neck sweaters and Polo shirts I had gotten him for gifts.
And then something horrible happened. He started wearing T-shirts.
Not just ordinary T-shirts, the kind that advertise the little race you just ran in or with a subtle swoosh to advertise a sporting company, but shirts with messages, the kind of messages not everyone agrees with.
Getting ready to go watch The Athlete compete in a gymnastics meet, he might show up to breakfast wearing his shirt that says: Silly Liberal. Checks are for Workers, or his famous Hilary Scares Me shirt.
These two are always a sure bet to draw some looks and comments, since half of the population thinks they are great and the other hates them.
He always gets a lot of comments from the guys on his shirts that say I'm Kind of a Big Deal and I Bring Nothing to the Table.
He is very attached to his many O.J. Simpson shirts. They say things like:
Drink Apple Juice 'cuz O.J. Will Kill You
Liberals Love America Like O.J. Loved Nicole
Sometimes at a party I will look around the room at another guy and admire his nicely pressed white linen shirt. But then, over in the corner is The Entrepreneur, wearing his shirt that says: I'm Tired of Being My Wife's Eye Candy.
And I have to admit that funny trumps dashing for me.
All week long I search about for contests for my readers to enter to win things. I do this because I found out that the most popular blogs are the ones about winning things and I am trying my best to increase the readership of my blog.
So, if you are like my husband, The Entrepreneur, who rolls his eyes at the give-away blogs, just come back on Monday and my blog will return to it's regular self.
But now it's time to give the Give-away Junkies what they want:
Take this short quiz if you want to know if you are Comfortlicious or Griptastic and also have a chance to win a cool spa package.
If you are a coffee-lover like I am, but sometimes have guilt over the cost of a Starbucks, enter here to win a Starbucks gift card (scroll to the Oct. 13 entry).
Because I LOVE flowers, I really hope I win Redbook's contest of the day for a $100 gift card to 1-800-flowers.com.
O.K. this one is not free, but it's great. What can you do with all of your kid's art? You can send it to this artist and she will frame a few pieces together for a lasting and beautiful piece.
Every Sunday all summer long we had a deck party.
Now I talk about the deck party a lot and people kind of look at me funny. They want to know what a deck party is.
A deck party is when you invite your friends over and you all sit on the deck and relax. Also you drink wine or pop if you so choose. Most of the grown-ups choose wine:)
You eat things with lots of calories like pistachio nuts or chips and salsa or maybe a dessert if you are lucky enough to have friends that make those (I AM!)
You can bring your kids if they can be trusted near the fire pit, where they are allowed to throw things in and watch them burn, which is big fun for any kid. Later they can make S'mores and sell them to hungry adults for a dollar if the marsmallows are cooked just right.
It is good to invite the same three or four couples to the deck party all summer, because there begins to be private jokes that only the people who attend frequently will understand.
You will make BIG PLANS at the deck party. You will make an elaborate plan to tour the Napa Valley with this group of friends. There will be a BIG DEBATE about whether or not to bring the kids along and whether to stay in a resort with seperate rooms or in a big house all together.
None of the debates will really matter, because you won't all go on that Napa trip due to lost jobs, kids schedules or college kids laying claim to your vacation funds, but it is fun to pretend.
Last weekend was our final deck party. It is too cold to sit out there now. But we'll be out there again the first weekend of June, building memories and making impossible plans.
Thanks for coming to the Madel deck party. We had a great time!
The Athlete is having a bit of trouble staying organized. There are a lot of contributing factors to this problem: Massive amounts of homework required for eighth grade, 17 hours of practice a week for her sport, an active cell phone life and lastly, TOO MANY BAGS.
See, the problem with The Athlete is that she is not only a Jock, but also a Fashionista and therefore the backback she stores her books in each day must coordinate with her outfit.
But what happens the next day when she switches bags, is that sometimes important items get left behind in the previous bag, and that is how her copy of the book Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, which she needed to complete a book report this weekend, went missing.
Since we were having some folks over for the weekly deck party and I was rushing around trying to make my house look way more clean and organized than it actually is, I was a bit aggravated by the loss of the book, since I had to stop what I was doing to help look for it.
At this time I began what I think is called a rant where I began with a louder and louder voice to preach on the benefits of being organized. To illustrate my point, I grabbed one of the Athlete's zillion bags from a hook in the back hall and dumped the contents on the newly cleaned kitchen floor.
Here is what fell out:
The lost book
A crushed Poptart
Three bracelets (one said HOPE, and I thought that was funny)
One giant brown hoop earring
A pink tank top
A label from a bottle of orange soda
A Chinese finger trap
A yellow goofy golf pencil
Guava Splash lip gloss
A plaid hair clip
The Entrepreneur, who is nicer than I am, rushed her off to CVS to buy her some organizational tools and I ran around the house confiscating some of the book bags.
But there might not be much hope for the Athlete's disorganization problem. I took a look at my desk this morning. I think she comes by it naturally.
I want to take a second to tell you all about a great new business that my friends Susan and Betsy started called Shop Your Closet.
These girls are really passionate about dressing women and giving them the confidence that comes from looking fabulous (that is their favorite word).
And they are so qualified, with degrees in Art and Fashion Merchandising and more than 15 years of retail experience between them. Whether your style is Gucci or Gap, these girls can really whip a closet into shape. And that is just what they do.
For a fee of $65 an hour, they come to your house, tear through your closet and assemble outfits for you to wear for any occasion. They take photos of the assembled outfits and later provide you with a darling pink notebook with the photos inside that you can refer to when getting dressed for a special event or even just your everyday life.
I am really excited, because I won three hours of their services, and they are going to come over and help me get my winter look in order. Maybe there is hope for me to look FABULOUS!
If you want to look fabulous, you can contact Betsy and Susan through their website at www.shop-your-closet.com
The garden I am going to finish installing today is a perfect example of how you can cut a few corners in order to adjust to the horrible new economy and still get what you want.
At this house, the homeowner has hired one company to tear out the existing landscaping, one to install the lighting and sprinkler system and Little Old Me to design and install the plantings.
The house down the street has hired THE landscaping firm in town to install their new landscaping and I am really interested to compare the two when all is said and done. The Entrepreneur and I are guessing my guy will be saving at least $10,000 in the end.
Now there are some challenges with the system my homeowner is operating under. I have to coordinate things with the tear-out guy, who has hired some young guys I am a little bit scared to work around because I overheard them comparing jail stories and also because they were singing "I shot the Sheriff" with a little too much gusto.
But I did learn that if I bring them donuts they will plant my trees for me.
I also noticed that The Lighting Guy and The Tear-out guy are very close to puching each other out over how to backlight the house. Sometimes they smack each other on the back after these word wars, though, so I think it is all good.
Anyway, tomorrow I am going to blog about another way you can save some money and will be talking about a new business in town called Shop Your Closet.
But now I have to rush out to pick up the donuts for my tear-out boys before they start singing Devil Woman.
This week I had some terrible insomnia, but that's all good for my readers, since I was up in the night lost in Cyberland looking for some great contests for you to enter. I was careful to pick things I know my regular readers would like to win.
Here you go:
Great Bakers like my friend Wendy can enter to win an awesome orange cake stand to display your Halloween treats.
And any girl would love to win the prizes given away every day at 30 days of Beauty.
The prize here is always changing, but always fun, so put it on your favorites.
A couple of weeks ago I blogged about cloth grocery bags and promised to try to find some cute ones for you to carry. Well I did and you can get four of them for free by entering a contest posted on my friend Carol's blog. Once you hit the page, scroll down just a bit and you will see the contest for Shop Wise Bags. Just leave a comment about the bags on Carol's site for a chance to win. To check out all the great bags visit www.shopwise.com
Shutterfly is running a great coupon that you can use if you are the on-the-ball type who is already picking out Christmas cards. Just use the code HOLIDAY when placing your order to receive $10 off a $50 purchase. If you order 50 cards by October 29, you can get 25 more for free.
And free is always a good thing!
The Athlete had a assignment this week for eighth grade Language Arts (that's the fancy new name for English class) to find five phrases or slogans that represent valuable lessons she has learned about life.
I loved them all, and they really taught me a lot about her as a person. I got special permission to share my favorite. Here it is:
Here’s my day on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: Wake up. Time for school! Drive to gymnastics. Do my homework from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the gym. Start practicing gymnastics at 4:00 p.m. End at 8:00 p.m. Drive home. Get home at 8:15 p.m. Wake up… repeat.
Saturday: Wake up at 8:00 a.m. Get ready for practice. Leave for the gym. Get there at 9:00 a.m. End practice at 1:00 p.m. And somehow I love my life!
I have been doing gymnastics since I was three. Eleven years of gymnastics! I get better every year. I compete against more and more people. I do more and more skills. One skill in particular needs lots of practice. My bail. Every day on bars I work on this one. I have been doing it for about two years. The reason that I don’t mind continuing to do this skill almost every day of my life is because I get better every day. I practice and practice. One day, maybe it’ll be perfect. Like they say, “practice makes perfect.”
I think “practice makes perfect” is always a good thing to keep in mind because it helps get me through things. I always keep in mind that the more I practice things, whether it’s in school, sports, or any other activities, I will just get better and better! More people should keep this life lesson in mind and they will succeed in a lot of the things they do. They will get better and better.
All of the great times I remember from when I was a kid were times I was allowed to prowl around the neighborhood unsupervised.
I know that statement could open up a big debate involving people who think you should never take your eyes off of your kid and people who think the parents are ruining childhoods because of the paranoia caused by the media, but I am way to chicken to open that up for discussion here. (You can if you want to though. I have a place for comments).
I merely want to mention that I am sorry my kids missed out on a unique opportunity like going to Mosey's candy store with a quarter in their hand every Saturday morning.
When I go back home to Good Old Sioux Falls South Dakota and drive the distance to Mosey's, which is long gone now, I am a little bit surprised that my mom let us cross Minnesota Avenue, which was the busiest street in town, and walk through two or three unknown neighborhoods to get there.
Probably she was a little bit tired after spending the week doing 28 loads of laundry and dreaming up dinners that nine different children might like, and needed some alone time.
It was all good for me and my little sister, Kate (Six of Nine), because you could buy A LOT of candy with a quarter at Mosey's.
This time of year there would be Black Jacks and wax lips and fangs. Peanut butter candies in orange and black wrappers and orange Zots with their exciting exploding center.
Favorites we loved all year were Whistle Pops, candy necklaces, which could last a whole week and candy lipstick, which was used for playing dress-up when we got home. Necco Wafers were perfect for when I was helping Kate learn the proper way to stick out her tongue for first communion.
The other day I walked into a store with a display of all of this old fashioned candy. I decided to buy some for my Halloween trick-or-treaters.
Even if the kids don't appreciate it, the parents will.
Because you know they will be coming along.
Sometimes things happen in your life and you are like: "What the heck was the purpose of that?"
They are things that don't fit in with the little vision you had for your life and then you have to spend all of this effort readjusting.
I hate it when that happens.
But sometimes things turn out exactly how you always wished and hoped and then you really feel like God is on your side of the field shaking his giant pom poms.
One of those things happened to me recently.
The Overachiever got her Big Career Job Offer. And that's not even the best part. The best part is that she's not moving away.
She is going to be just a half-hour away, and I can go over to her trendy new apartment and bring her things and plant flowers in the pots on her patio.
Maybe she will meet a boy who thinks that Ohio is the most fabulous place on earth to live and they will live happily ever after and give me some cute grandkids to spoil rotten.
I have a really good feeling about this one.
Team Lisa is out in front!
Even though I am almost always in the mood for shopping, I had gotten a big bill from the doctor that I had to pay and I was feeling very poor and not in the shopping mood at all.
Turns out it costs $1,000 to find out that your kid is allergic to grass.
Anyway, you know how sometimes your mother and the pastor at your church will tell you that good things come out of adversity? Turns out that they were right this time, because I was messing around on the internet doing fake shopping (that's where you find things you want to buy but you just tag them under favorites and never actually purchase them) and I found this great new website that tells you how to get free stuff.
I am going to be getting free address labels, deodorant, Pledge Wipes and lastly, a free cloth grocery bag, which leads me to my second thing.
You may have noticed my little plastic bag counter at the top of the blog. I found this on the internet the other day after I looked out the window and saw it was raining and did my little victory dance around the kitchen because I didn't have to go to work.
Because my big family (the one I came from) are very crunchy granola and big fans of saving the environment, I am going to step up and do my part as well.
In the spirit of the mailbox (see Running post) I am going to start small by eliminating plastic bags from my life. This is going to mean being organized and always having cloth bags in my car to use. And that is going to be fun because I am going to be able to BUY them and that means SHOPPING!
But until I get over the shock of that doctor bill, I think I will just have a free one sent to me. Get yours and lets go green together!
Right now I am really frustrated.
The Brainiac just called to tell me that The Athlete left her giant tri-fold board that was to be used to assemble her science project in the back of her car.
There is big trouble for her from The Science Teacher if she shows up to class without that board.
My inclination is to throw on my Superhero Mom Cape and fly to the high school, remove the board from the littered back seat of The Brainiac's car and bring it swiftly to the middle school to hand over to The Athlete before science class begins.
But I can't do that because there is a new policy in place at the middle school that does not allow parents to help their kids out of a jam. Absolutely no materials may be brought to the school that have been forgotten by your middle-schooler.
In addition to having two hours of homework each night, they must now have perfect memories.
I don't think that The Middle School Policy Makers know that The Athlete was paired up with two underachievers who have done next to nothing for the project.
They don't know that she came home from a four-hour practice at 8:30 last night and re-wrote their portions of the assignment, which were filled with misinformation and bad spelling. Then she got out her big craft box and began cutting and pasting things to make the tri-fold board more appealing.
Before she went to bed, she set the big board by the back door so she wouldn't forget it.
Then she placed it in the back seat of her sister's car on the way to school.
She probably forgot to write BOARD on her hand so that she would remember it when she got out of the car (see My Traveling Post-it Note). And so she forgot it there.
Well you know what? Sometimes a Superhero has to be Clever in addition to being powerful.
So I am going to go over to the school at lunchtime carrying the big board under my arm and walk casually back and forth in front of the giant windows in front of the cafeteria until she sees me and rescue The Athlete from her dilemma.
I hope she is not embarrassed by my Superhero cape.
The whole idea behind this Start Your Own Business thing that I did a few years back was not to have a boss.
I mean, who really likes their boss anyway? All of the bosses in my life have always been, well, really bossy.
So when I started my Garden Design business, I was very happy to leave behind the world where I was an underling, guided only by the demands of someone who may or may not have been smarter than me.
But now something bad has happened. I had to get some people to help me with my business because it got too big and now I'm a boss.
I think I am really bad at it though. I am so afraid people will think I am the kind of bossy boss I used to hate that my ad in the newspaper for helpers read:
Gardeners needed for local landscaping company.
I think everyone is looking for a nice boss, because about 200 people responded to that ad.
Now that I am a boss, I say things like: "get to it when you can," and "whatever you think looks nice."
I am noticing a confused look on the faces of my helpers like they are thinking:
"A little direction here would be nice."
So this week I gave the boss thing a try. I left a location where I was supposed to meet one of my helpers when she was 10 minutes late and made her find her way to the job on her own.
I even stopped by a job to check and make sure it was done properly and then made my helper go back and clean up a mess she had left behind.
But it hurt me to be so mean like that. It really did. I'm just not cut out to be the boss.
"Say Thank You."
From the time they first talk, we are teaching our kids to be polite.
We are so impressed by that child who gets out of our car and says: "Thanks for the ride" or leaves our house and says: "Thanks for having me."
But we wonder if our kids are really being polite when we're not around.
The other day The Brainiac came home with a big bag of groceries and went to work on some cookie bars to thank several of her teachers who had written her letters of recommendation for a scholarship she is in the running for.
I was a little amazed because it was not my idea.
Now I am not dissing The Brainiac. She has many good qualities. But even though I'm a big fan of random acts of kindness, they have never really been her thing.
And I had kind of gotten used to that, because when your child is almost an adult you have a little talk with yourself and you tell yourself that you did the best job you could and they are who they are. You tell yourself that it might be O.K. if they don't value some of the things that you value. You even admit that maybe your expectations were kind of high.
But I am here to tell you that sometimes you see a late change. Sometimes something happens when your child is almost out the door that will make you feel like they heard you all along.
Listen carefully. They might be saying Thank you.