Containing The Dork.

This is E with Amadeus, their mascot in his theatre department. There’s a story behind her being their mascot, but if I told it to you I’d have to kill you.

I leave today to chaperone a 2-night trip with E and the rest of the theatre kids at his school.

AND I AM SO EXCITED.

This is the third year E has done this trip but my first year chaperoning due to various reasons that I pushed aside this year because this is MY LAST DAMN CHANCE. He graduates! No more! I’m going! Screw everything else!

I’m stupidly excited about this because everyone always comes back from these trips having had SO. MUCH. FUN. It’s the state-level theatre competition so each of the kids are competing in something, but that doesn’t take long, so the rest of the trip is spent watching other performances from other schools around the state.

But the reason I’m really excited? I get to be in close proximity of E and his friends.

I don’t mean to sound braggy or anything, but E and his friends are – by far – the coolest people I know. They’re fun, they’re smart, they’re witty, and I try my best not to dork out around them.

It never works. It’s hard to contain a force as powerful as my dorkiness.

E’s friends don’t come over to our house as much as I’d like, I think mainly because he has two young siblings that tend to annoy the crap out of them all. And Nikki thinks it’s really fun to pick on E when he has friends over. And of course – he doesn’t fight back because he’s nice – which makes her act 10 times worse. It’s ridiculous.

So when E asked if I’d cook dinner for his friends last night? The kids were on STRICT orders not to pester them at all.

But no one gave me the strict command not to dork out too much. Which I did, as usual.

I can’t help it! They’re cool! And I’m not! And I want their coolness to rub off on me a little bit!

So, I’m totally excited about the trip. I’m going to try my best to be cool and not dork out around the teenagers. This is E’s Senior trip to the state Trumbauer competition, I want it to be filled of wonderful memories of good times with his friends, not with memories of his Mom embarrassing the crap out of him.

Although, let’s be honest. This is my kid we’re talking about. I dress up for midnight book releases and have Pajama Movie Nights. His tolerance for embarrassing behavior from me is unusually high.

Need For Improvement

Recently I’ve been missing praying. I’ve mentioned it a few times here, but that’s what I miss the most about being religious…the praying. Lately, I’ve still been praying at night. I’m not sure who I’m praying to, but I’m doing it anyway. And I’m quickly remembering that I used to pray for the same thing every time I prayed.

Strength and Patience.

Last night I quit thinking about who to pray to and I just sent my prayer out to the universe at large and said, I pray for strength and patience. Saying those words brought back the hundreds of times at all levels of faith I’ve prayed for the same things.

I was raised with a true understanding of prayer, not to pray for stuff. So I guess I learned that the qualities I needed in my life to solve whatever problems I was having always went back to: Strength and Patience.

Last night I prayed for strength because I’ve been so bad lately with my eating habits. I’ve gained back the weight I lost (AGAIN) plus some thanks to the stress eating that always will be my albatross. But I remember praying for strength when I wasn’t disciplined enough to keep up with my assignments. And I’m praying for patience because my kids deserve more that I give them. But as long as I’ve been a Mom, I’ve been praying for patience. The one trait I feel like would always improve my parenting.

So last night I found myself praying for strength and patience…the same thing I prayed for during any point of my life that I felt needed outside help, especially when I was a believer.

Strength and Patience.

It was weird thinking about that last night. I think I’ve struggled so much with who to pray to that I never actually was able to formulate a clear prayer. Last night I really just went for it and quickly realized I prayed the same way to the Universe as I did when I was sending the prayers directly to God.

Strength and Patience.

I guess when you bare it all in the darkness before you fall asleep, and you weep to the Universe to help you with your struggles, you find what is really important. I didn’t pray to be skinny or fast. Rich or smart. Fashionable or trendy. Popular or Loved. I would love to be/have all of those things…but deep down all I really want, all I really need…is strength and patience.

Maybe I turn that inward. Maybe the person I need to pray to? Is me. Because let’s be realistic – who is in charge of how much strength and patience I demonstrate? Me. I just need to figure out how. So maybe instead of stressing out so much about who to pray to…I should try to figure out how to simply be the change I want to see…not in the world like Ghandi said…but in me.

But…of course…easier said than done.

Oh! I wish I could have more strength to not binge when I’m sad and patience not to yell at my kids all day! I’m just going to be stronger and more patient! End of story!

Yeah. Not that easy. But it was a little enlightening to just remember whenever I’ve needed help in my life, it’s always for the same thing. While some people might find that depressing that I never simply improve, I find it oddly comforting.

So…strength and patience.

Do you have traits you consistently wish you could improve about yourself? Or in 37 years do you maybe change things up a bit? Do you get better in some areas eventually or are you like me and destined to be deficient in the same areas for eternity? And if you pray, does it matter who you pray to? I have decided I like praying too much to be burdened by who is listening. I’m just putting it out into the universe simply because – even if I’m praying for the same things all the time – it still makes me feel better. Who cares if anyone but me is listening, right?

Because – in the end – it’s me who needs to do the changing.

Getting Over It.

After Dad died I realized how few photos I had of the two of us together. Or of him in general. He loved to take pictures once we entered the age of digital cameras, but growing up there just aren’t a lot of photos of us with Dad. I was sad when I made it through all of the boxes of photos to find so few of he and I together.

Before I found myself so very sad about the lack of photos of Dad – I used to HATE having my picture taken and always joked that my kids were going to think I was an absentee Mom considering I was always behind the camera.

But since he died? I’ve said, SCREW. IT. I’m having my picture taken.

I try now to makes sure that my picture is taken with someone pretty regularly. Even if it’s just an arm’s-length, crappy-resolution, front-facing iPhone picture…I still do it. When we’re going to movies, or out to eat…at the park or in our living room…if we’re just enjoying a moment together I try to find someone to capture it.

Now…I still hate almost all of the pictures. There’s a vein in my forehead that someone I used to live with made fun of constantly. There’s my red face and the wrinkles around my eyes. I often feel like I look 20lbs heavier than I am and find myself wondering why my teeth are so big. I don’t like the way I look in hardly any of them…but the girl in me without her Dad? She loves them for the sake of my children.

And if I’m having a good hair day? WATCH OUT. I’ll demand everyone take 42 pictures of me in every pose with every person within a 1-mile radius of where I’m standing. And our Thanksgiving trip to Louisiana? Gave me a lovely hair day that I demanded be documented.

I even let the kids use my expensive camera, at the risk of them destroying it with the slip of one finger. Wes wanted to take a picture of E and I, so E hopped in my lap like the little ones always do for pictures. Since he’s about 8 inches taller than me, this was freakin’ hysterical. We were laughing so hard I almost peed everywhere and my 4-year old was moments away from dropping my very expensive camera and lens on the ground.

But this is the picture he captured. And even if Wes had dropped the camera this picture alone would have been worth all of the money I spent on it. And suddenly I realize – I’m not making sure I’m photographed just for the kid’s anymore. No…I’m doing it for me too. Because E hates this picture and probably won’t ever cherish it, but me? I adore it. I want to put this picture on every wall in my home. This is me: Eye wrinkles, forehead vein, giant teeth…laughing my ass off with my first-born. And if there is any photo worth subjecting myself to the humiliation of being photographed regularly? It’s this one.

P.S. This entry was slated for Tuesday, but since Babble listed me in a list of Undiscovered Bloggers I thought I’d better have an entry on the front page NOT talking about crotch chaffing.

Yes. We’re Going There.

Okay. This blog entry is going to be full of TOO MUCH INFORMATION for the faint of heart. But I learned this weekend that the information in this blog entry is invaluable to female distance runners so I’m putting it out there since some other blogger putting it out there 5+ years ago is what saved me.

SO! If you’re a male, or a female who has no interest in ever running long distances? Then feel free to GO AWAY.

Okay…everyone still here ready to get a little personal? Good! Let’s go!

LADIES, You really SHOULD wear underwear when you’re running long distances.

Now…because SO many women are more comfortable running sans underwear, let’s get into the why.

When fabric rubs in one place repeatedly for 2 hours or more, you chaffe. That’s just a fact. Now, everyone chaffes differently but at some point in time, every long distance runner will chaffe on some part of their body. The goal is to try to avoid the common chaffing issues. And a common chaffing issue in the winter with women is, um…let’s just say “V” chaffing because there are certain words I don’t want Google to index on my blog at the risk of unsavory search strings leading the wrong people to this Mommy blog.

So…V chaffing! In the winter, we tend to wear longer running gear. The extra fabric in longer running tights or capris tends to lead to extra fabric bunching up around the V area and you get chaffing that is HORRIBLE and PAINFUL and never EVER something you want to experience.

Wearing underwear under this winter gear will protect the sacred area because underwear will not bunch up and will add a protective layer against the fabric that does bunch up.

NOW…let me say that I have still experienced some chaffing close to the area, on my inner thighs, where fabric still bunches up. And that chaffing is painful enough that I never EVER want to experience it anywhere more sensitive than my inner thighs.

I mean, did you know that you are not really allowed to walk around nude in the general public? It’s true! But if you experience chaffing in or on super-sensitive areas, then the thought of continuing wearing clothes that rub those areas? IS AWFUL. So you get dressed and you wince with every step and motion throughout your day.

DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU.

An entry like this saved me years ago so I never had to experience it as bad as some women I know, and from what I understand? I SHOULD BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL. So I’m putting this entry out there in hopes that it will save a new runner the way this information saved me.

WEAR UNDERWEAR ON LONG RUNS IN WINTER GEAR, LADIES! Some women will never chaffe in the V area – with or without underwear – but I decided I do not want to find out where I fall on that spectrum. Ignorance is completely bliss. Especially when it comes to V chaffing.

Follow-Thru

DANGER is right.

My Daughter has two flaws that combined together are fatal.

1) She has too much crap.
2) She is a slob.

I’ve been on her for months about taking care of her stuff. I threatened to ban clothes as gifts for her birthday if she didn’t start taking care of the clothes she had. I’ve threatened to throw things away that are not cared for. I’m constantly telling her that I don’t expect her to keep her room immaculate, by any means. If she’s playing with stuff and leaves it out? NO BIG DEAL! But we’re talking clothes spread on the floor wall-to-wall. I can’t tell what’s clean or what’s dirty. Books everywhere. Pens…pencils…papers covering every inch of carpet not covered by clothes or shoes.

I literally could NOT find a piece of carpet to step on two nights ago.

Wes isn’t that much better. His room stays a bit cleaner because he doesn’t have as much stuff as she does, but the playroom looked just as bad and most of that mess is probably his responsibility.

So…last night? I followed through.

I took two giant garbage bags and filled them full last night. I threw away every piece of paper and random pieces of toys that have been destroyed. I bagged up books and some toys for Goodwill, although honestly? There wasn’t that much salvageable. Most of it was garbage because they don’t take care of their things.

So it’s all in the garbage. And you know what? They probably won’t even notice. WHICH IS PROOF THEY HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF.

We don’t buy them anything but clothes or the periodic book/craft supplies between birthdays and Christmas. BUT – they get enough during those days that they have officially more things than they even know what to do with.

But my point? I did it. I threw that crap away.

While it felt awesome? It also pissed me off because they didn’t seem upset at all. I mean – no more than usual. I thought when I showed them the bags they’d freak out and would DEMAND to know what was in them. Nope. They didn’t. They were upset they were in trouble but not as much as they SHOULD have been! I WAS THROWING THEIR STUFF AWAY. Why weren’t they freaking out?

And…yes. I realize I’m probably not winning any parenting points wishing my kids were more upset when I was yelling at them. But I threw their crap away, I’ve obviously lost my chances at Mom of the Year.

So…while throwing away their stuff was cathartic for me. And knowing I’ll never have to pick up those items again makes me thrilled. But I’m not sure if it did any good. They probably won’t notice the stuff is gone. I could probably donate half of Nikki’s clothes to Goodwill and half of Wesley’s toys and they still would have plenty to wear and play with so – essentially – it wouldn’t matter in the slightest that I got rid of the stuff.

EXCEPT…it does make ME feel better. Because it’s still less crap that I have to eventually deal with. So, while it’s not a total win this time? I’ll savor in that silver lining.

And I’ll be issuing a mandate to Santa and relatives at Christmas. Gifts can not involve more than one piece. No games. No blocks. No crafts. And no clothes for Nikki unless it’s something she specifically needs, which isn’t much. No markers. No pencils. No flashcards. No books. Basically? One piece toys that can be throw in a toybox in one second by me when I’m on a rampage.

Because we know they’re not going to be the ones putting them up.