Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Underwear is Fun to Wear

In our family, not only is underwear fun to wear, but it’s also become something of a competitive sport around here. Complete with sound effects.


“King Kong! Aarrgh!!”

“POW-er RAN-GERS!!” (in a sort of superhero sing-song)

“SPI-der-MAN!!” (I can’t spell the noise they make with this one, but believe me, it’s pretty impressive)

They pose like mini body-builders trying to psych each other out. Really, a new package of underwear spawns more excitement around here than the new fall collection in Milan. Even a new pair of sneakers (Teen Titans and flashing lights!) doesn’t compare to a fresh pair of Spiderman Boxer Briefs. Throw in a new Captain Underpants book and the adventures last all day.

At least until the Queen forces them to cover up their superpowers with “street clothes” in public. (evil queen!)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Finding My Own Pathway

(This was originally published in the Beacon News, April 22, 2005.)

There comes a time when you have to make a decision. How far are you willing to go to stand up for your principles? How quickly will you bend, just to keep everybody happy?

As a lifelong individualist, I’ve practiced the balancing act almost to perfection. With the outward appearance of conforming, I still made some unusual choices. When my friends all wanted to take dance lessons, I went ice skating. When all the girls signed up for softball, my mother dutifully signed me up for Little League. And in high school, when all the girl athletes were playing field hockey … there I was on the soccer field. The crowd I hung out with was always a bit small, and somewhat unusual.

Most of the time, to outward appearances, I follow the straight and narrow line of what’s expected of me. I went to college (picked one nobody heard of , six hours away) and finished in the prescribed four years, with a major I created myself. Any radical ideas that may have been picked up along the way were assimilated into my mild-mannered conservative demeanor. Never dressed too outlandishly, never too trendy, never attracted too much attention.

Soon after graduation, as everyone expected, I married my high school sweetheart and settled down to a life of work (at an art museum), staying close to home and family, keeping all the same old friends, going to the same church, hoping to eventually start my own family. Ever the non-conformist, that spirit that is usually kept so well-hidden broke out of the mold and moved me from the Northeast to the Midwest, a thousand miles from home and family and all those old friends.

Away from my comfort zone, but still with my faithful companion by my side, I stuck by some of the old rules … back to another full-time job. Or rather, a series of them. A relatively brief series. And finally to starting my own family. And that’s where the armor started falling off.

Motherhood gave me a power and a conviction in my choices that wasn’t there before. Being given ultimate responsibility for a helpless babe turned on a switch. Having to stand up for my children, for what I believe to be in their best interests, has given me the confidence to stand up for myself when necessary. Well, as long as it’s not at their expense, anyway.

Like many mothers, I went back to work after my first was born, thinking that was best for the family, still bowing to that all-important paycheck. Yet, I no longer fit into the work world; I couldn’t switch easily from my role as new mother back to loyal employee devoting all my energies to the company bottom line. I couldn’t look my boss in the eye and tell him his priorities were my priorities, at least not with a straight face. And the Christmas gift watch with my name printed on the face, Mommy, probably sealed my fate, as it soon became my job title as well.

As much as I love being a full-time mom, the lure of the paycheck beckons. Yet there are always compromises that come with employment. How far am I willing to go to stand up for my principles, when I know those closest to me will not agree? Maybe principles aren’t all that important when facing a pile of bills and rising gas prices.

And maybe those principles are strong enough to stand on their own, without any backing from my wishy-washy self. After all, the children are watching, and learning, from what I do as well as what I say. So the time has come to stop following the lemmings toward the security of a weekly paycheck, and to follow my heart down the path of the freelancer.

Whether it leads to poverty or riches doesn’t even matter. Life is too short to follow someone else’s path while my own lies out there still.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Space Between

There’s a space between what’s going on in my brain and what gets written down on paper. It’s a vast chasm today. There’s no rhyme or reason as to what makes the leap, and what gets sucked into the void forever. I’m convinced there’s some literary genius mired in the muck at the bottom with my usual drivel.

I was in the middle of one of my rare brilliant surges of inspiration this morning, just after finishing my first cup of coffee, but it got pushed over the edge by the sound of my husband’s voice. I just lost my train of thought, my fingers poised at the keyboard, blank screen waiting to be blessed with my genius … oh, there it goes again.

There are lots of trains, one right after the other. But instead of stopping and dropping off a few characters, they just head on down the tunnel, into the abyss. Occasionally one slows down, waits on the other side for just the right moment to cross over. Trouble is, I never know when that is, or what’s waiting on the other side.

There must be a narrow bridge over that space, the great between. And it’s a perilous crossing, often crashing into a pile of debris once it makes it to this side … the page. But once in awhile one really long train makes it across, slowly and confidently, unaware of the editor just waiting to derail a car or two, or three. Or the child, waiting to scribble on the nice shiny engine once it comes to a complete stop.

I like to delude myself that I’ll find a way to close up the between, or at least make it smaller. Maybe it’s just a hiding place, and the really good stuff will come back and make to it the other side one day.

And maybe someday I’ll have a quiet space in which to write, free from the interruptions and distractions of family life. A girl can always dream.

When it's not enough to be Queen ...

I had to know. This being the home of superheroes and all ... surely I have some superpowers of my own. But of course! But just to be sure ... I took the quiz:

My results:
You are Supergirl (I KNEW IT!)

Wonder Woman
The Flash
Green Lantern
Iron Man
Lean, muscular and feminine.
Honest and a defender of the innocent.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Keeping up with the children

Yesterday I was able to post my very first picture to this here blog. Yep, quite proud of myself, really. I didn't even have to ask my son for help!

I used to be the Techie Queen of the household. Don't get me wrong, I'm still In Charge of all things relating to the family computer, as long as we have only one. All repairs, anti-virus and firewall protections, new software installations, all my domain. But for anything new and cool ... ask the boychild.

I got a new digital camera for my most recent birthday. It took awhile to load my new pictures to the computer, as in a couple weeks. I had to try out a few online sites for sharing them with the various friends and relatives (and their various levels of techno-geekiness and/or cluelessness). A couple more weeks. And a couple more weeks. And now, finally, I put one up here on the blog (see Scooby Van below). For those who are counting, we're now up to SEVERAL weeks.

In one evening, my son grabbed my precious camera, took pictures of all his Bionicle Piraka, even taking them apart and building a new one out of their parts, and posted his pictures to the web site. Just like that.

At least I can program my own VCR. I know, that's so last century.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On our way to the candy store ...

Scooby van2
Originally uploaded by momsworking01.

We always look for a candy store when we travel. Every town has one, somewhere ... but every town does not have it's own Mystery Machine. Our two superheroes discovered this one parked in Galena, IL (which I know has some very nice candy stores!)

Unfortunately, our travel plans did not allow enough time to wait for Scooby to return to the van.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

In search of ... Jr Mints!

I'm always in search of something around here, usually misplaced socks or tiny pieces of legos.

One of the inhabitants, who prefers not to be named, (although he doesn't mind being referred to as the king) happens to like Jr Mints. In the Big Box. And he has come to expect to find such a box on the kitchen counter after I have just done The Shopping. The weekly gathering of boxes of stuff whose ingredients I can't pronounce but yet it puts a smile on the faces of the natives so I keep on buying it -- that's called The Shopping (as opposed to the semi-weekly gathering of stuff that grows out of the ground and has to be washed and cut and comes in pretty colors and causes the natives to make all kinds of distorted contortions with their faces).

But lately there have been problems with The Shopping. At first, I thought it was just me hitting the store at the wrong time, like maybe just before they stock it, when they're out of everything. Then it was the re-decorating, which became a re-configuration, which morphed into a Total Upgrade. In other words, I couldn't find a damn thing!

And when one store goes into Upgrade Mode, they ALL do it. So now I can't find anything in any store I go into. Every shopping trip has turned into a great big SCAVENGER HUNT! At least the kids are having fun.

Yesterday was yet another Grand Re-Opening Extravaganza! Mob scene ... concession stand out in the parking lot, taking up at least 4 parking spaces ... free samples of exotic concoctions all over the store. All I wanted was a couple gallons of milk and ... of course ... JR MINTS!

No Jr Mints. But I won a free DVD player.

We're making do with York Peppermint Pattie Bites, but they're just not the same. Still searching for Jr Mints.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Fireworks Scrooge

I love a good fireworks show. A good, PROFESSIONAL fireworks show. Watching them last night with the boys screaming and dancing around ... now THAT'S A SHOW!

The amateur let's-go-light-some-bottle-rockets-in-the-driveway do not impress. In fact, they're quite annoying. Especially when your driveway is barely 20 feet from my driveway. And particularly when your bottle rockets land in my yard for me to clean up.

All in the spirit of the holiday, I have kept quiet about all the illegal firworks in the neighborhood. Even though my local police have advertised a zero-tolerance policy for this year, I have not reported any of the neighborhood shenanigans. I'm sure there's worse goings on somewhere else, so I leave well enough alone.

But the holiday is over. So, for the next month, I become the Fireworks Scrooge. Until every last one is confiscated and the noise finally dies down, I will rant and rave and complain and YES, I WILL CALL THE POLICE.

Because ... I'm the Fireworks Scrooge.