Beware. This post contains too much information.

Okay. Um. Okay. I have something that I'm itching to discuss, but I've got to warn's a little, um, I don't even know how to describe it, so just...beware.

So the Golfer overheard his players yesterday. He often eavesdrops to get the latest scoop.

Player #1: "Man, I mean, she had hair down there!"

Player #2: "Really? Hair? Wow!"

Now, I'm just going to stop right there. I'm not going to take the conversation any further than that. But I'm hoping from that two sentence blurb you'll get the idea of what they were discussing. They were totally shocked that a woman (or in this case some poor college girl) would have hair "down there." They thought it was weird!

They are college boys--college boys discuss all sorts of things, especially things that have to do with pretty girls and their body parts. But this wasn't really about body parts--it was about body parts with hair. Or should I say, lack there of.

From what the Golfer could gather, it seems that girls nowadays are totally into...shaving...totally. I believe that everyone's personal hygiene is just that...personal. Personally, I have enough trouble keeping my legs shaved. But this particular discussion really got under my skin. I guess it was the fact that the players thought that it was so strange, bizarre even, that a girl would have hair "down there."

"So did you tell them that being hairless isn't the norm?" I asked the Golfer.

"No, I just laughed."

"Uh-huh. Of course you did."

Had I been there...well, they wouldn't be having that conversation in front of me if I had been there. They are all nice boys who I adore. But they are clueless college boys and if for some weird reason they were to have the "hairless" conversation in front of me, I don't think that I could have kept my mouth shut.

Here's what I probably would have said:

"Guys, women come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. This includes hair. We all have it. It's the way God intended. It serves a purpose. Some have a lot. Some have a little. Some shave a lot. Some shave a little. And some don't shave at all which is perfectly normal.

And one day when you're married and your wife is at home all day with your children, making sure that all of their needs are met and that your laundry is washed and there is food cooked when you come home from work, the last thing that she is going to have time to do is SHAVE...ANYWHERE...let alone 'down there.' You will be lucky if she has even had time to bathe that day and is wearing clean underwear.

Guys, learn to appreciate women for who they really are...naturally...and not what they are trying to be in an attempt to make you happy. Fake boobs aren't natural. Bleach blond hair and black roots isn't natural. Being hairless from the neck down isn't natural. Because believe me, no woman shaves bald to make herself happy. That's all about you. Get over it."

And what do you think the guys would have said when I was done?

"Man, Coach's wife is one crazy, hairy lady."

A mama's morning prayer...

Dear Lord,

So far today I am doing pretty well. I haven't screamed at the kids or thrown anything in a burst of anger. I have not grumbled or gossiped or whined. I haven't been greedy or self-centered. I have not yet changed anything to the credit card, and I haven't pigged out on the chocolate cake in the refrigerator.

However, in a few minutes I will be getting out of bed, and I am going to need your help to make it through the rest of the day.


from The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd

Weekly Column: Health Week

©Stephenie Freeman

Last week was “Health Week” at the Cheese’s school. There were a plethora of fun and fit activities planned by the PTA for the kids to participate in, but I believe the activities were secretly geared toward the parents. I think a better title perhaps might have been “Hey Parents, Get Off the Couch and Be a Healthy Example for Your Kid Week.”

Yeah, that title would have made more sense.

One of the activities planned was something called “Stay and Play” where parents were invited to come and play with your student during recess. Personally, I was looking forward to a good game of kick ball or Red Rover. Instead, I got to participate in school’s new running club, Turbo Tigers, where the kids get special tokens for each mile they run. There’s nothing that will make you feel more out of shape than a 7-year-old running laps around you…literally.

This whole Health Week was a new one for me. Even though I’d never heard of anything like it before, I was thrilled that his school would focus on instilling healthy habits. When I was growing up, there wasn’t much about elementary school that was considered healthy other than learning how to square dance in P.E.

One of my favorite school memories were the days when cinnamon rolls would appear on the cafeteria menu. This was back in the day when the school lunches were actually cooked on the school’s grounds and the smell of the enormous sweet rolls that were as big as my head would fill my little, one-hallway school.

Those days were blissful. The smell of cinnamon and sugar seemed to make everything about the school day easier and more pleasant. No one seemed to care that they were feeding us a dessert with a kabillion calories that would send us crashing from a sugar high during the middle of math.

My children will never get to experience the joy of the school cafeteria cinnamon roll. Sweets are all but banned at elementary schools nowadays. No sweets or candy allowed of any kind, not even a mini candy bar leftover from the Halloween candy stash. That $24 cupcake carrier that I bought from the Tupperware kiosk at the mall? It’s collecting twenty-four dollars worth of dust in my pantry. Seems that surprising your child’s class with cupcakes on his birthdays is a huge taboo and forbidden by school rules. Instead, they suggest you donate a book to the school’s library in your child’s name to celebrate his or her birthday.

Nothing quite says “Happy Birthday” like a brand-new copy of “Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants.”

There was also “Walk to School Daily” during Health Week. I see lots of kids walking to school every day. I know this because I see them walking hand-in-hand with their parents as I am driving the 500 yards in my car to drop my kids off. I guess this activity should have been called “Hey Stephenie, Quit Driving Your Kids to School in Your Robe and Walk to School” instead.

Naturally, there was “Get Caught Eating Healthy” in the cafeteria. Throughout the week, students who were caught eating healthy would be praised and given stickers to encourage them to continue their healthy eating habits. Great idea, but packing the Cheese’s lunch, I suddenly felt pressure—the pressure not to look like the bad parent who packs her child’s lunchbox full of junk.

What could I pack my child that was considered healthy and still be considered edible by my first grader? Was peanut butter okay or had that been outlawed due to allergies? I couldn’t remember. Would he enjoy turkey and cheese on wheat? Probably not. How about a small green salad? Definitely not.

So I ended up making a lovely lunch filled with cheese sticks, wheat crackers, carrots, celery and a little tub of hummus and after a moment of clarity and thinking better of it, kept the lovely lunch for myself.

“So were you caught eating healthy today?” I asked my son that afternoon.

He mumbled through his answer with a smile on his lips, telling me that no, he didn’t get a sticker.

I’m not sure, but I think that maybe it was the cinnamon roll that I stuck in his lunch that did it.

My new favorite picture...

a monkey chasing the bruins at the farms

Clueless Husband: Installment #304

Ten minutes before time to leave for school, Mama walks down in her bathrobe.

Mama: "Did you pack him a lunch?" she asks the Golfer.

Golfer: "What? Huh? No."

Mama: "Why wouldn't you pack him a lunch?"

Golfer: "How was I supposed to know that I needed to pack him a lunch?"


Golfer: "But how was I supposed to know that I needed to pack him one?"

Really? Really? See, this is why I can never die. Because my family would never eat lunch ever again.

Weekly Column: T-ball and Tears

©Stephenie Freeman

While the rest of the world is busy filling out their basketball brackets, our families already moved on to the next sport. There’s no rest for the weary when it comes to children’s athletics. Back during football season, we were already plotting our next move.

“Buddy, you can pick either soccer or T-ball. What would you like to play?”


“Hockey isn’t one of the choices. Besides, you don’t even know how to ice skate. You have to learn how to ice skate before you can learn how to play hockey.”

“Okay, then I want to do ice skating.”

A picture unexpectedly pops into my head of my son wearing sequins and spandex while skating to “Eye of the Tiger.” It was like something from a bad “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

“Sweetie, ice skating isn’t a choice either. Soccer or T-ball, which is it?”

“How about skateboarding?”

“T-ball it is.”

Lucky for me, he quickly fell in love with the idea as was evident at his first T-ball practice.

Totally fired up, the Cheese ran up to the coach full speed informing him, "I’m really good at baseball" to which his coach replied, "I can tell! You look like a great baseball player!" I liked the coach immediately. Practice started and all of the moms settled into their lawn chairs. Five minutes into it, somehow the Cheese’s face got in the way of a ball. That's right, ten minutes into his first official team practice and he already had a major sports injury. I was instantly worried that he had inherited my athletic ability (or lack thereof.)

Despite the fact that he was way out in left field—literally—I could see the blood gushing out of his nose. His mouth was open wide and even though there was no noise coming out, I knew that he was crying. My motherly instinct was to run out to him, but I figured that running onto the field in a crazed panic might do my son more harm than good.

Surprisingly after a quick hug and a messy wipe down, the Cheese headed back out with a renewed enthusiasm and took his new spot on first base. No matter where it went, the coach would yell, "Throw it to first! Throw it to first!” The Cheese didn’t catch a single ball and after about the tenth ball began to cry. Again. At this point, he was the only child at practice who had both cried and bled.

Practice ended with a mommy passing out animal crackers and apple juice which of course made everything better. As the kids enjoyed their snacks, the coach handed out the team jerseys and hats. They are the Dodgers and the coach had already had their last names ironed on the back. The Cheese was given number 11. We got home and called the Golfer on our web-cam. The Cheese filled in dad in about his first T-ball experience, bloody nose and all. Then he held up the jersey for his dad to see.

The Golfer smiled from ear to ear exclaiming, “I can’t believe that you are number 11! That’s so cool!”

It turns out that the Golfer had good reason to be overly enthusiastic about our son’s jersey number. The number 11 was the Golfer's dad's number all through college. The Golfer's dad played both baseball and football in college and was quite the star. (Some of his records still stand at Northwestern in Weatherford.) The Golfer's very first jersey number had been number 11 as well. It was a family tradition.

We didn't ask for the number 11, it was just given to us. The Golfer's dad passed away a couple of years before the Cheese was born. We miss him dearly and can hardly stand the thought that he won’t be around to see our boys grow up. But seeing the Cheese at his first game wearing that jersey with a big number 11 on it was like he was saying, "I'm here. I'm watching."

Now I'm the one who's crying. It's going to be a long season.

Weighty Issues: Week 10

"I'm stronger, I'm thinner, and gosh darn it, people like me."

I did something today that I have never done before. Ever. I worked out because I wanted to.
Any time that I have ever worked out it was because I had to, because I needed to, but never, EVER because I wanted to.

You know that your trainer is doing a good job when you have some free time without kids to do whatever you want and instead of shopping or getting a pedicure, you choose to spend it in the gym.

I used to hate working out. I've never liked it. Didn't want to do it. Even though I knew that I needed to, I could never find the motivation. But after 1o weeks, I finally think that it's become routine that I can't live without. I feel bad if I miss a day. Now, there are plenty of days that (for whatever reason) I haven't worked out. But the point is, I actually feel bad about it and won't go more than two days without getting back into it.

I always heard about the high that people get from working out--that good feeling, those endorphins that get to pumping. I've gotten used to that good feeling--gotten used to looking in the mirror and liking what I see.

I wish that I had a recent picture to share. You know, that before and after picture like in the Jenny Craig commercials. But it's too early. It's only been 10 weeks, not nearly enough time to lose everything that I still need to.

BEFORE...January 1st (workouts started four days later. Oh, and that's a thick coat--that's not all me.)

AFTER...still to come.

Weekly Column: As usual, Mama's to blame

©Stephenie Freeman

I’ve often said that God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave me boys instead of girls. I’m not sure how much it’s saved my sanity only having boys, but it sure has saved me lots of money.

Just walk into a babyGap or any other children’s clothing store and you’ll know what I’m talking about. The girls’ side of the store is darling, filled with complete matching outfits from head to toe. No good mother would buy just the pink polka dotted tutu dress without also buying the shoes, tights, sweater, and hat to match. Not buying the whole outfit would require massive amounts of willpower we mamas should be saved for things like chocolate cupcakes and that third glass of wine.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to worry about any of that. I’m over on the boys’ side buying a couple new pairs of jeans and a few T-shirts for under fifty bucks. Easy. Done-and-done.

For all of the money that I save by not having girls I have certainly made up for in other areas. God might be saving me money, but he sure is making me earn every penny.

Take the area of potty talk for example. Potty talk has become a very big deal at our house lately. We don’t call it cussing because the words that they are repeatedly using aren’t cuss words; they are words that involve, well, using the potty.

And let me tell you, my 4-year-old, the Monkey, thinks potty talk is about the funniest thing going. He’ll be in the back seat, all alone, lost in his own thoughts when all of the sudden out of nowhere he’ll say, “Poo-poo!” and totally crack himself up.

I have no understanding of this kind of humor, but apparently my older son, the Cheese, totally gets it. He, however, is smart enough to know that using potty words will only get him into trouble, so he encourages his brother to do his dirty work for him (no pun intended) and the Monkey, being the dutiful little brother that he is, falls right into his trap, loving every second of it.

It’s not the way that I’ve envisioned my boys bonding together as brothers, but I have to admit that it’s a beautiful thing to see them getting along for a change, even if it includes breaking rules and defying their mother.

I’ve told my boys a thousand times, “We don’t use potty words. Potty talk isn’t okay. Other people don’t like to hear potty talk. Potty talk is for the bathroom only!” but my boys just don’t get it or they just don’t want to get it. When you’re 4- and 7-years-old, you’ll take you’re adventures wherever you can get them.

Unfortunately for me, potty talk involves a lot more than just bodily functions. It also includes any and all body parts, especially related to the male anatomy.

At our house, we call things what they are. No whoo-hoos, peanuts, or whatchdoodles around here. It should be no surprise to me that body parts are often used by my boys as the butt of their potty talk jokes (pun intended.)

I’m not sure why I’m such a stickler about this whole potty talk business. I’ve been saying words to them like “poo-poo” and “pee-pee” since the minute they were born. And between diapers and potty training, potty talk has dominated the bulk of their vocabulary for the majority of their young lives. Maybe that’s why it strikes me as odd that words that they’ve known their whole lives are suddenly so taboo and funny.

It’s because Mommy made it that why. Potty talkers aren’t born—they’re made.

My boys didn’t know that yelling the word “poopy” in a crowded restaurant was bad until I told them that it was. They didn’t start whispering potty talk words behind my back for entertainment until I made it seem so forbidden and enticing.

So I’ve decided to back off for a while; stop being the potty talk police. This is one of those times that it’s better to pick your battles, because one day the potty talk will take on a whole new form and the battles will be much bigger and so will the potty talk words.

I just sure as hell hope they don’t learn any of them from me.

My soap box: Pink Slips for Teachers

I have a simple question.

Why is it when a state starts to have trouble with their budget and starts talking about all of the cuts that need to be made--why is it that education is always the first thing that gets cut?

You don't have an answer to my question because there isn't one. Ask anyone and they'll agree; it makes absolutely no sense.

At my son's elementary school there are 7 teachers who will be receiving pink slips in the mail today. My heart hurts for those teachers. The trickle down effect of the state's budget crisis has landed in these teachers' laps. Our district is having the teachers rally around the city on busy intersections to show that they are taking a stand for our schools. I like this idea, but considering that the pink slips are arriving today, it's really a day late and a dollar short.

Along with firing teachers, they are also increasing the class size in the K-3 classes. Now, anyone who has ever been in a class full of 1st graders knows that adding a few more kids, even if it's just by 2 or 3, makes a huge difference.

I love it when politicians tell you that they don't want to make any cuts that will affect our children and then they always go right along and do it anyway. It's like when I catch my boys doing something bad and they just look at me and say, "I couldn't help it."

Yeah, right.
When I was a teacher we rallied at the state capital one day in an effort to raise teacher pay. We were trying to put as much pressure as possible on our legislators (Oklahoma was, like, 48th in teacher pay at the time.) Long story short, we got our raises, however minimal they might be. What was funny was that in order to compete and keep the teachers in the state (we were losing a lot of good, new teachers to Texas) they would have had to quadrupled the amount that they gave us. Was the rally worth it? Of course, but it was such a small, tiny step in the right direction it hardly felt like a step forward at all.

I don't understand all of the politics in this new state of mine, and I'm not going to pretend to understand how budgets work. (I have enough trouble with our home budget.) I'm not saying that I have all of the answers to solve the state's money problems. All I want to know is why education--of all things--is one of the first things they always go after?

And of all things in education, they always go after the teachers first. How about going after some of the administrators? I'm not talking about the principals. I'm talking about all of those other jobs within a district. I'm not saying that those people don't do good work that helps the district, but do they directly impact our children on a daily basis? No. So how about trimming the fat in the district offices instead?

I know that when it comes to financial issues within a school district there are no easy answers. No matter what you do, someone somewhere is going to be upset. But the teachers? Can we just leave the teachers alone to do their job, please?

And that's all I have to say about that.

Weekly Column: This ain't no disco...

©Stephenie Freeman

Until recently, I’ve simply seen myself as an underpaid babysitter who was busy watching the clock, wondering when the parents to these two kids were coming home.

But while running errands the other day, I was forced to recognize the reality of my life. This whole motherhood thing is a permanent gig.

Walking into the bank with the Monkey, I noticed our reflection. There we were, mother and son. We weren’t apart of some reality show gone horribly astray. I wasn’t trying to be the biggest loser. The Supernanny wasn’t feeding me instructions on the best ways to bring up my babies. I wasn’t in the middle of an amazing race or trying to get a weepy bachelor to marry me. This was real life, and somewhere along the way I had gotten the starring role as Mommy.

It was a typical scene, much like that of any sitcom where the frazzled mother is stressed and frantic. The Monkey was holding my hand; I was telling him to hurry up. I had just brushed Goldfish crackers out of the carseat and into the street, wondering if edible crumbs counted as littering as I did my best to kick the evidence under the car.

My son was in desperate need of a haircut and a clean shirt. He was asking me why we needed to go to the bank, what errands were, and why they were running. I tried my best to answer his questions while fishing for the deposit slip that I knew was hiding somewhere in my purse.

Instead, I found a Toys ‘R Us gift receipt, a coupon for fifty cents off three cans of Chef Boyardee Beef A-Roni, and a one-legged Batman figurine who had seen better days.

I couldn’t have been more of a mother in that moment if I had tried.

It might surprise you, but this whole thing—this image of me as Mommy—hit me as a little odd. I guess I’ve never really seen myself as a mother, but instead as some young, fit, rested woman that has her whole life ahead of her. I have wants and needs that I expect to be met. I crave attention and affection from the people who love me and become very impatient when I don’t get what I want, when I want it. Somewhere in the dark corners of my mind, I still see myself as I a child. Maybe it’s because I can still throw one hell of a tantrum.

You see, I go about my days as a mother, mechanically doing my job of tending to others’ needs without giving much thought to what the whole scene looks like. While I’m busy scrubbing the toilet, I don’t stop to look in the mirror—I stop to clean it. I don’t stare dreamily into the mirror, contemplating my life as a mommy. There’s never any time for that. Any minute the dog might pee on the floor or a fight over whose Hot Wheel is whose might spontaneously erupt.

Good mommies are like star quarterbacks. We don’t stop in the middle of the game to ponder how it’s all going; we stay two steps ahead of the game so we don’t get blindsided by the ball.

But that day, in the clean reflection of a bank’s security door, I was forced to look. There I was, a mother in all her unwashed, unshaven, sweatpants-wearing glory. I adverted my eyes, but it was too late. I had seen the horror and like a bad “Friday the 13th” movie, it had made a permanent impression that would haunt me for nights and nights to come.

How had it come to this? When did this whole parenting experiment go so horribly wrong? Having kids had always sounded like a fun idea. But like experiencing a devastating trauma, somewhere I lost huge chunks of time—the chunk of time where I suddenly went from being a girl to being a mother.

I think those huge chunks of time are what some people refer to as “Happy Hour,” which, of course, is how the kids got here in the first place.

Look out Olan Mills!

There's a young photographer honing his craft at our house. The Cheese got a new camera for his birthday from his Papa. Here's just a little taste of how he sees the world and what he feels is worthy enough to take a picture of.

Star Wars Legos....shocker. What I love about this picture is the perspective that he has going on. Kind of an action shot, don't you think?

This is a picture of the bottom of his closet. In all fairness to myself as a mother, we just cleaned his whole room yesterday to make room for the new toys. There's an hour of my life that I can never get back.

And yet another perspective of the newly crafted Star Wars Lego battleship. And yes, he built that all by himself. The mess that Legos make sucks, but the quite time that they provide Mama while he's building is well worth it.

And finally, the proverbial self-portrait. (Notice the red mark on his nose. That happened at Barnes and Noble the other day. The four of us were quietly sitting, drinking coffee and cocoa while we looked at books. I had just said to the Golfer, "This is so nice!" when the Monkey got a little pissy and decided to smack his brother with a book. Funny how much pain a little Go, Diego Go book can inflict.)

A Love Poem by The Cheese

"Love is....when my mom is nice.

Love is...when my dad gives me dollars."

So apparently, I'm a total grumpy butt and my husband has been paying off the children to like him.

I laughed, of course, when I read the poem at his school yesterday. But the more I thought about it, the more depressed I got. I mean, I know that I have to play the bad guy most of the time. I'm the one constantly saying things like, "Stop it", "Get of the Wii", "Eat your fruit", "Your room's a mess", "Don't hit your brother", "Hurry up", "You're driving me nuts", etc., etc.

Which is why I'm now reading this book...

Let's hope it helps or I might have to start paying off my children to like me too.

Decorating Bug

I'm in the mood to redecorate. I've lived in this house for a year now, and things are starting to feel stale. (Guess that's what happens when you get used to moving once a year. The Monkey keeps asking, "When we moving to our new house?" Poor kid's lived in 4 houses in 4 years. Wow...)

I feel a trip to Lowe's for some paint coming on. I want to paint a stripe somewhere. The Golfer's leaving town soon--he'll never notice.

I'll take pics when I'm done!

One more reason to hate Wal-Mart...

I don't do plastic photo courtesy of jenna mcintosh photography

Weekly Column: 3 Ring Circus

©Stephenie Freeman

As a columnist rarely do I get requests, but a recent bit of motherhood pop-culture has changed that.

“I can’t believe that you haven’t written about her yet.”

“I bet you could write something really funny about her.”

“So are you going to write a column about that whole nightmare?”

People keep asking me when I’m going to write about the Octomom. And for the past several weeks I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it.

Until now. Oh, but where to begin.

So much has already been said and written about Octomom, Nadya Suleman, that I’m just not sure that I have anything new to add. I don’t think that I can come up with a new description or narrative that hasn’t already been used to describe her. But today thanks to my own chaos, I think I finally thought of one: a three-ring circus.

Today was just one of those days. I had more things to accomplish than I had time in the day. I not only had the regular daily routine to deal with, I also cleaned up a vacuum bag that had spilled all over the newly cleaned kitchen floor, ordered two dozen balloons for a birthday party this weekend, and tried my best to explain to my almost 7-year-old why holding up your middle finger all by itself is not a good thing.

“My friend at school said that when you do it, it means something,” my son told me. “Mom? What does it mean,” he asked while flipping me off.

I took a deep breath. Explaining this one was going to take a while.

When my children were babies they consumed my days. Everything I did revolved around them and their needs. I remember looking forward to the time when my daily life wouldn’t be driven by their feeding and napping schedules. I kept thinking about how my life would be so much easier when I didn’t have to worry about breast feeding in the middle of Target.

I was clueless. Children are never as easy as when they are immobile and unable to speak. My kids’ schedules have only gotten worse now that they include things like carpool and homework. They make bigger messes, have more opinions, and are constantly asking questions. Mom will you? Mom can you? Mom can I? It starts every morning when they ask for their first waffle and doesn’t end until they ask for their last drink of water at night.

I recently asked my own mother when my kids would stop needing me so much. She just laughed as she handed me the box of laundry soap that I asked her to pick up for me.

My kids fight for my attention while I’m fighting with the washing machine. They need me to find missing LEGOS while I need to be paying monthly bills. They want to sit in my lap while I’m trying to do sit-ups. It’s never ending and apparently, it never will be.

My kids will always need me—need my time, my attention, and my love. But I’m lucky. I only have two who need my time and attention. Octomom has seven times the neediness that I do which brings me back to the Big Top.

“In this ring, ladies and gentlemen, we have six previous children brought into the world by the now famous Octomom. Some have special needs; all need lots of love, a happy home, and individualized attention from their mom.”

“And in this ring, ladies and gentleman, we have eight new babies. They are fighting for life and costing the taxpayers a fortune in medical expenses. They will need just as much love as their older brothers and sisters and just as much time from their already overscheduled, overbooked mom.”

“And finally, we come to the final ring where we find the mother to all of these beautiful children. Along beside her you will find Dr. Phil, the paparazzi, and even an indecent offer from the porn industry. She has no plan, no home, no job, and no help. She has fourteen children who will need her every day, all day for the next…well, forever.”

Yes, a needy three-ring circus indeed.