Weekly Column: Maybe I'm doing something right after all.

©Stephenie Freeman

Last week a letter came home from the Cheese Eater's school. It was addressed "To the Parents of...”. As a parent, you can’t help but wonder if something’s up when an "official" letter like that comes home. We figured it was too early in the school year for anything to be wrong. Besides, we had asked the Cheese Eater every single day for the last two months how his day was, always receiving the repetitive answer of "good" so we assumed that it was.

The letter read:

Dear Parents, Your child has been selected to receive a special award at our school assembly. I would like to invite you to join your child in receiving this honor.

Well, you can just imagine how pumped I was to open a letter like this. I immediately called the Golfer at work and read him the letter.

"That's great!” he said. “So what's it for?"

"Um, well, I'm not sure. The letter doesn't say."

I looked over at the Cheese, who was busy enjoying his after-school snack and catching up with Scooby-Doo.

"Buddy? I got a letter saying that you’ve won an award. Do you know what it’s for?"

"What reward?"

"Not a reward. An award.”

"What award?"

I’ve had these sorts of “Who’s on First” conversations with the Cheese before, so I decided to stop before it got any worse and turned back to the phone.

"He doesn't have a clue. Guess we'll find out at the assembly."

So there we sat. With cameras poised and ready, parents lined the school's auditorium. The Monkey quietly sat, munching on a granola bar. He pointed to the Cheese as he told the man sitting closest to him, "That's my brother."

Yes, we were all very proud.

There were to be a total of four different awards given. The first awards were given for Effort. Six children, one from each kindergarten class, we given the award for "always trying their best." The Cheese Eater's name wasn't called.

The next award was given in the area of Scholarship. As the principal explained, this award was given for a lot of reasons. "Maybe you're a good reader, or writing, or good in math," she explained. Six names were called, but the Cheese wasn't one of them.

At this point our award winner started to tear up and put his face in his hands. He has watched two of his classmates go up and receive their award, and suddenly he was afraid that there had been a mistake. He looked over at me, looking for reassurance. I smiled, gave him my best thumbs up, and nodded trying my best to let him know that it would all be okay, that his award was coming, even though I was starting to wonder myself.

Turns out, third time’s a charm. The next award was given for Outstanding Citizenship. The principal explained that being an outstanding citizen meant that you do things to make the community around you a better place. You are considerate of others, you are polite, you use your manners, etc.

When his name was called, I tried my best not to tear up while looking through my camera lens. I was so proud that my young son had been recognized as being a kind and considerate person. To know that when he is out in the world alone he is doing his part to make it a better place, well there simply isn't a greater compliment as a parent.

And every time I look at it tapped up on our refrigerator, I'm reminded that maybe—just maybe—I'm doing something right after all.

(note: originally published 2007, family.com)

Still my baby.

{he might be 4, but he's still my baby}

Awards, experiments, and games

Don't you hate it when people brag about their kids? They just go on and on and you're like, "Okay, we get it!" but the obnoxious parent just won't stop.

That parent is about to be me.

Last week we received a note in the Cheese's Tuesday Folder. "You child will be receiving an award," it said. So yesterday we headed to the school for the assembly. The Cheese was given an award for Outstanding Work and Study Habits. I couldn't have been more proud (of course, I would have been proud no matter what the award had been for.) But this was an award that wasn't just about him being good at something. It was about being awarded for making good choices and being a good roll model. I'd like to take all of the credit, but I think most (if not all) of the credit goes to the wonderful teachers that he's had.

Speaking of making good choices, this past weekend the Cheese said that he wanted to do some science experiments. The Sooners had already lost and the Bruins were on their way to losing, so a little time away from watching football sounded like a good idea. After a little research on the computer with Dad, he printed off instructions for "Dancing Raisins" that included a clear glass, raisins, and a can of Sprite. I'm not sure what he learned exactly, but he was delighted when the raisins did indeed dance.

So while they were busy experimenting, the Monkey and I were busy playing games. He always asks me to play and I'll be honest--90% of the time I tell him to go ask his brother to play or come up with some other excuse why I can't play. But this weekend I actually got down on the floor and played because I was tired of feeling like such a slacker mom.

Right now he's really into this Scooby Doo Haunted Mansion game; kinda appropriate for the Halloween season. We played and played and I tried my best to make sure that he always won (because he's 4 and I wasn't up for the tears of losing) and I tried to not fall asleep on the floor. I hate to admit it, but the game was actually kinda fun. Does that mean I want to play 10 times a day? No. But fun nonetheless.

There. I'm done bragging about my kids. Done patting myself on the back. That wasn't so bad.

Was it?

Weekly Column: Life is muy bueno!

©Stephenie Freeman

My life is filled with memories and most of them involve Mexican food. It is easy to make memories when they full of baskets of chips and dripping with cheese queso.

There was this one time when my mom and I were waiting in the drive-thru at Taco Bueno on 38th Street. It was a warm evening and the windows of her brown Audi were rolled down. We couldn’t help but listen as the man driving a truck in front of us tried to order.

Every time the man started to order, the German Sheppard riding in the back of his truck started barking. The man would stop and so would the dog, but the minute the man started to order again, so would the dog.

From what we could tell, it was clear that the dog wanted his own taco, and as much as he was barking possibly a mexi-dips and chips and a bean burrito too. My mom and I were crying we were laughing so hard, like it was the funniest thing we had ever seen. Perhaps for us right there in that moment it was.

Along with Taco Bueno, I loved going to Salas’s as a kid. Who didn’t? There was nothing tastier than their chips and queso. Knowing it was one of my favorite places, my dad took me there one night to meet his new girlfriend.

As I sat in between them at dinner, I wanted to make it clear that my mother had taught me well. So when the waitress asked me what I wanted to drink, I replied in my snottiest nine-year-old voice, “Milk, please.”

The girlfriend, who later became my step mother, just smiled at me sweetly and tried not to laugh. For twenty-plus years now we’ve joked about my bratty milk order at Salas’s.

Which reminds me of the time that my Uncle Bud made fun of me for ordering milk with Mexican food. “Milk with Mexican food? Yuck!” he teased and then continued to tease me about for years and years. I’m not sure why, but apparently there is something about ordering milk with Mexican food that makes people uncomfortable.

The Golfer and I returned to the Taco Bueno on 38th Street twenty years after the drive-thru dog incident. Out of all of the places that we could have chosen to eat after getting engaged, we decided that cheap Mexican food was the best choice because, well, it usually is. We talked about our future over soft chicken tacos and Diet Cokes. No more milk with Mexican food for me. The teasing had cured me of that. Besides, I was a big girl now.

It should come as no surprise that the night before I gave birth to our first child we decided to eat Mexican food for dinner, this time at Ted’s in Oklahoma City. I nervously ate my taco salad and enjoyed my chips and queso, knowing that the next time that we ate Mexican food together we would be needing a table for three.

Now as a family of four, we have started something called Taco/Movie Night. It’s my boys’ favorite part of the week. We eat homemade tacos on T.V. trays and watch old movies. Mexican food has now become a family tradition.

I’m not really sure why I have so many memories attached to Mexican food. Maybe I eat it much more often than I realize. Maybe the memories are really about the teasing and laughter and loved ones that accompanied the chips and queso. Maybe all of these memories aren’t really about the food at all. But I doubt it.

A perfectly pleasing day at a pumpkin patch with preschoolers.

:: preschooler ::

:: picking ::

:: petting ::

:: partaking ::

:: perfection ::

I highly recommend it.

I really wasn't kidding about being a bargain shopper. See these receipts? They say things like:

"Today's Total Savings: $59.05"
"Verified Total Savings: $98.57"
And the best yet, "Today's Total Savings: $139.59"

I know you're probably saying right now, "Yeah, but I bet you had to spend a lot to save a lot." Not at all. A fellow football mom, Heather, turned me on to a way of stretching your grocery store dollar as far as it can go. Yes, these are the receipts from the grocery store since I started playing The Grocery Game. It truly is a game people and if you play it correctly, you can save a whole lot of money.

And what a fun game it is. When I went to Ralph's on Sunday, out of the 66 items that I purchased, I only paid full price for 3 of those items. When I checked out and the check-out lady told me my savings (98 bucks!) an older woman behind me said, "Wow! Good for you!"

That's right. Good for me.

You have to change the way that you think about grocery shopping. No more only what you need for right now. The Grocery Game is all about stockpiling. Some may call this hoarding, but The Grocery Game calls is stockpiling. Supposedly it takes about 12 weeks to get your stockpile completed. Once that's done, all you have to shop for are the perishables and weekly needs. No more spending $200 every time you go to the grocery store.

Since I've started playing, I've been saving around 50% every time I've gone to the store. I won't go into how it all works--you can go to the website and watch the tutorial for that. Basically it's all about using the right coupons at the right times in combination with the in-store sales to make the most of your savings. I'm telling you that it is worth the time and the small fee (you're charge $10 for the first store list and $5 for every store after that every 8 weeks.) I've already saved enough to pay for the service for months and months to come.

Why do I care enough to share this all with you? Because #1--I love to brag about a bargain, and #2--I hate wasting money on things like groceries. Waste money on the important things, like trips to Target and expensive jeans.

As my mom used to always say, "Try it. You might like it."

Breaking News: It's Raining!

{a view from my "office" window}

It's hard to tell from the picture, but those are serious rain drops on the window. This is a big deal when you can't remember the last time that you actually saw rain in real life. Ahhhhh, it's like being washed anew!

But what's really funny about this is how people here in SoCal react to the rain. Yesterday I overhead a lady on her phone in the grocery store.

"Yeah, Madge. I totally forgot to tell Gladys about the HUGE storm that's coming our way. I mean it's just supposed to be awful. Yeah, uh-huh. I'm at the store getting some stuff now. I'm not gonna wanna get out for the next couple of days I have a feelin'."

I was cracking up. She was acting like my grandmother used to before an ice storm would blow in. She'd head out to stock up on toilet paper (see previous weekly column) and other staples because who knew when she'd be able to get out again (usually it was only a day or two.)

This lady was acting like the Wicked Witch of the West--afraid a little rain might do her in. First of all, we will be lucky to get a full inch of rain by the time that this HUGE storm is over. And second of all, this HUGE storm is only bringing with it a little rain. No thunderstorms, lightening, or anything else really exciting. Besides, when it rains heavily here it doesn't really rain, it just sort of...spits.

Perhaps a girl raised around tornadoes doesn't get how people can react so dramatically a little rain. Of course, I'm not worried about a bunch of mud sliding down into my family room either like the poor people in the burn areas.

Oh, but it is so very, very nice to see the rain. It's chilly, cloudy, and wet. I'm thinking about starting a fire in the fireplace (because in SoCal you've gotta take advantage when you can) and getting ready to fire up the Keurig for a little coffee.

I can't believe it. It's actually Fall.

Weekly Column: Stephenie the Sale Shopper Shops on Sundays for Super Sales

©Stephenie Freeman

Every Sunday my grandparents came over to visit, my grandmother toting with her a loaf of her freshly baked sourdough bread. I remember being a teenager, trying to sleep in on the weekend, and hearing the two of them come through the door. My granddaddy would always ask how the Cat Crop was doing (we only had two cats) and my grandmother would be talking about buying cheap toilet paper.

Buying things like paper towels and toilet paper on sale was a very big deal to my grandparents. It seemed to always make its way into any conversation. As a kid, I never understood their fascination with paper goods. The older I’ve become the more I’ve come to understand that their true interest was about finding a good deal.

My grandparents had lived through the Great Depression, through the hard times of the Dust Bowl, and many lean years on the farm in Southwestern Oklahoma. Saving money and stockpiling was simply a way of surviving and having a table full of food was security. My grandmother constantly lived like it was the 1930’s. Her pantry and refrigerator contained more groceries than her local grocery store, and of course she always had plenty of toilet paper to keep the entire neighborhood wiping for years to come.

My grandmother was also the first recycler that I ever met. She saved every butter dish, every Twist Tie, every bread bag that came into her house. She would use the bread bag to store her small umbrellas, tying them up neatly with one of her many Twist Ties. Twenty years ago, there was no such thing a curbside recycling, and she did her part to keep even the smallest of things out of the landfill. Besides, you just never know when those little plastic squares that your earrings came on might come in handy.

The older I am getting, the more I am turning into my grandmother. My refrigerator is so full I can never find a place to put the pickles. I find myself always searching for a sale, purchasing two of something just to save a dollar, and buying more groceries than my kitchen has room for. It’s like I’ve inherited some kind of grocery hoarding gene that is going to land me on “Oprah” one day.

Slowly but surely, I am creating my own stockpile of groceries and saving a ton of money in the process. Our garage proudly holds our grocery reserves. On the shelves sit stacks of Cheerios, beef ravioli, granola bars, and bottled water waiting patiently for the next natural disaster. And toilet paper. I have stacks and stacks of toilet paper. And batteries. And light bulbs. And red wine. Because, well, you just never know.

I knew I had hit a new phase of my life when I started talking to the Golfer about buying a deep freeze. I excitedly told him how much we could store and save and stockpile. He just stared at me with amazement and, I like to think, a little bit of pride. Yes, you know you’re getting older when buying half a cow and freezing soup for the winter excites you.

I am proud to be a sale shopper and find myself, much like my grandparents, telling anyone who will listen how much I saved. I now understand why they spent their days hunting down one good deal after another. It’s like this weird high that only you and the other coupons cutters and bargain hunters can understand.

Besides, I’d rather flush cheap toilet paper down the toilet than my hard earned money any day.

Little pumpkin.

painting pumpkins, october 2009

Taco Movie Night

I've always been a big fan of starting family traditions. Some have worked, lots haven't. Most of the time we start traditions and once I figure out how much work it is, the tradition slowly fades into oblivion.

Then there is the tradition that we have remained faithful to, on a weekly basis no less. It is Taco Movie Night. This tradition started out as simply Movie Night. Most of the time we ordered a pizza to eat while we watched our family movie. Then one Friday night, tired of pizza, I decided to make tacos instead. They were a hit. No, they were a huge it. Now Mama's homemade tacos are one of their most favorite things.

Of course, everything tastes good when you get to eat it off of a T.V. tray. There are only two rules on Taco Movie Night: eat over your tray and Mom and Dad get the final say on the movie choice. I figure, the fewer the rules, the better the chance that they are actually followed.

Usually the movies have to be voted on. Lately, we've been making our way through our collection of Disney movies. The boys are aware of it, but this is all about my secret preparation for our big trip in January. I even forced the boys to watch "Cinderella" with me one night (obviously the Golfer was out of town.) And you know what? They actually liked it.

It was the talking mice that did it. Who doesn't like talking mice?

The boys could care less about the "love scenes" and could not understand why the Evil Step Mother was being so mean to Cinderella. They became very interested in their tacos when the Prince and Cinderella were dancing at the ball. But during the scene when all of the animals were making Cinderella's dress for the ball, the Monkey announced, "I want to be a red bird with funny hair for Halloween." (There was a cute red bird helping to put the trimmings on the dress. Why he chose that animal over all of the others is beyond me. Thank goodness I've convinced him to be Batman instead.)

I'm guessing I have until they hit junior high to continue this tradition. One day in the future they'll figure out that there are lots of fun things to do on Friday nights, and sitting in front of the T.V. with your parents isn't one of them. Instead, Taco Movie Night will turn into Date Night with a cute girl from their biology class down at the mall. I'll be left with my Friday night memories of who was arguing over the Blue's Clues tray and how I agreed to watch "101 Dalmatians" for the millionth time.

Yes, I'll have nothing left but a few cold tacos and my memories to keep me warm. I can only hope that no one will ever make tacos as good as their Mama can.

Weekly Column: Mama has ways of making you talk

©Stephenie Freeman

Usually the Monkey is a very talkative little fellow. He’s the kind of kid that talks just to hear the sound of his own voice. His favorite thing is asking the same, exact question four times in a row. Yes, my little guy is a great talker. A good listener? Not so much.

The Monkey’s verbal skills are strong, but ask him a simple question like, "How was school today?" and he is at a total loss for words. If I want to learn anything about what my child does for the three hours that he is at preschool, I have to be like a "C.S.I." detective or Magnum P.I. and try to solve the mystery of my son's school day with the small samples of evidence that I find lying around.

A green, construction paper snake, cut out and glued to a stop sign? He must be learning about the letter "S".

A little sand on the inside of his school shoes? He must have played in the sandbox during recess.

Orange and black paint under his finger nails? He must have done some kind of Halloween finger painting.

Just a little mama detective work usually gives me more information about my child's school day than his words ever will. Even when I get creative with my questions, believing that the more specific I am with the questions the better answers I will be, he barely speaks.

"What was your favorite thing that you did at school today, Monkey?"

When I asked him that yesterday, he just stared at me, expressionless, just like he did when he was a newborn. Just two seconds before he was chatting up a storm, asking me over and over and over again when we were going to the pumpkin patch. Now he had unexpectedly gone mute. I tried again.

"Tell me something that made you smile today."


My line of questioning was obviously boring him. Not wanting to go down that same wordless road again I quickly ask, "Like something you did that made you really happy. Tell me about that."


As long as there has been school, the favorite part of any kid's school day has been recess. But when you are in preschool, it is probably the truth.

"Recess is fun. How was snack time today?"

"I sat next to Kelly. She's my girlfriend now."

I smiled. Just last week he was asking me to marry him and now this.

"She’s your girlfriend, huh? What did you and Kelly talk about during snack time?"

He doesn't answer. Instead, he just gives me one of those “Mother, you’re bothering me” sighs and rolls his eyes. My 4-year-old has turned into a teenager before my very eyes.

"Why is she your girlfriend?" I repress my smile, anxiously anticipating his answer.

"Because she is."

Exasperated by my line of questioning, he left me sitting alone at the kitchen table as he stomped upstairs to play in his room. Suddenly and without warning, I had a teenager walking around my house; a 4-year-old teenager that still wears Underoos, sleeps with his stuffed puppy named Woof Woof, and wants to be Batman for Halloween.

I was right back where I started. I still didn’t know much about what he was learning in preschool, but at least I did learn a little about my son’s developing social life, which left me with a whole new set of questions: Who is this Kelly person? How did they fall in love? Will she make a good daughter-in-law? Yes, this Mama has lots of questions. And somebody better start talking.

Bread Baking and other Fall Break Adventures

This week is the start of Fall Break for my boys. They get a whole week off school, which means I need a whole week's worth of activities to keep us occupied. We finally got into our regular school routine and bam! it's summer all over again.

Today we are headed to the Pumpkin Patch to spend a whole lot of damn money on produce that will sit on my front porch for the next 2 months until they rot or we start to hang the Christmas lights--which ever comes first. (Because we all know that there is NOTHING tackier than Christmas lights on a house and pumpkins still in the yard.)

{Cheese (i.e., little punkin' head) circa fall, 2002}

Then on Tuesday we are off to Dinseyland for 2 days to say hello to The Mouse. In all of my years of visiting Disneyland (I've been going almost every summer since I could walk and yes, I'm fully aware of how spoiled I am) I have never actually spent the night at a Disneyland hotel. The boys have been asking and asking to go and stay, so when I saw a good deal at the hotel, I decided to jump on the opportunity.

This leaves another 4 days worth of time to fill. The temperature has finally dropped and even though the grass is still very green and there isn't a single leaf on the ground, it's finally starting to feel like fall. It makes me want to make things like homemade stew and fresh baked bread. It makes me want to stockpile things and prepare to hibernate for the long winter.

So one of the things that I am planning to do this week is make Holly's Apple Friendship Bread. This bread just smells like fall. You'll hate yourself because you'll eat it until you make yourself sick. My friend Holly made this for me when I first met her. It's called Friendship Bread because the recipe makes 2 loaves, one of which you are supposed to give to a friend. But believe me, this bread is so good, you might just want to keep them both for yourself.

Holly's Apple Friendship Bread (Makes two loaves)

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups coarsely chopped and peeled apples

1. Prepare two, 8 inch or 9 inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and sugar in the bottoms and sides of the pans. (This might seem like a step that you could skip, but it adds an extra bit of yumminess that you do not want to skip!)

2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and apples.

3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well. The batter will be very stiff--stiff enough to make you think that you need to add more wet ingredients, but don't! Keep stirring by hand.

4. Divide batter between the two pans. Sprinkle a little more cinnamon sugar mixture on the top. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. (Make sure the center isn't too doughy before pulling it out of the oven.)


The 3 Year Itch (or so it would seem)

My first book came around by way of desperation. We had just moved to California and I found myself in a total funk. No money to spend on things, no friends to do things with--I was held up inside my little townhouse in a bad neighborhood with two small children and a husband that was always at work.

I needed an outlet. I needed something that would keep my hands busy and away from the Ben and Jerry's.

I had started writing seriously before we ever moved. My first writing effort went into a young adult novel that I have yet to ever do anything with. (Ironically, I took an online writing course through UCLA when the Cheese was just a baby.)

By the time that the Monkey came around, I had started a blog and was trying my best to officially become a columnist. I had wanted to be a columnist ever since high school. Don't ask me why, but I decided early on that I wanted to be a syndicated columnist and what makes that funny is that I had no idea what the word "syndicated" even meant.

Everything hit at once. I started and published the book, was picked up by a paper to run a weekly column in the Sunday paper, and received an email from Disney asking me to be a blogger on one of their many websites. Prayers had been answered. It seemed that I could finally call myself a writer/blogger/columnist--all of the above--because when you get paid, you can call yourself a professional.

Now here I am, 3 years later. My column's still running. My voice as a writer getting stronger with each new week. The Disney gig ended almost as soon as it started, but it was great while it lasted. My book sits proudly on the shelf, nothing making me happier than knowing that it makes people--especially mothers--laugh. The best was when it was for sale recently at our elementary school's book fair--so proud to see it displayed next to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and classics like Superfudge. (Which is all due to Lisa bringing up the idea at a PTA meeting and Monique for making it all happen. I'm blessed to have made such sweet new friends.)

And now I've gotten the itch again. The itch to write another book. The kind of itch that the more you think about it, the more you want to scratch it. Since I've done it once, the whole publishing thing, I keep thinking, "It'll be a piece of cake this time!" but writing a book is just like giving birth--a lot of time, effort, and misery goes into it before you ever see the final product.

So, will I? Will I stay up to 4 o'clock in the morning like I did the first time revising and editing? Will I invest the energy and time that it takes to get it done?

Sure. Why not.

Weekly Column: What Not to Wear

©Stephenie Freeman

When I went to bed last night, I knew that today was going to be busy. I had lots to do and had everything scheduled back to back, leaving little room for error. There was no time to waste, so of course that’s exactly what I did.

The day didn’t start well. I couldn’t even make it out of my own closet. I wasted a good thirty minutes, thirty minutes that I didn’t have to waste, on staring at my clothes. Not trying on, not sifting through, just…staring.

Yes, you know that it’s going to be a bad day when you decide to spend the day in your granny panties since your underwear looks better than anything else hanging in your closet.

On a typical morning I walk into my closet and throw something on within a matter of minutes, and every day I look like I walked into my closet and threw something on within a matter of minutes.

Oh, but not today. I was bound and determined to find something cute to put on. I hemmed and hawed over what I should wear. I haven’t hemmed and hawed over anything for years, but I felt that perhaps a little hemming and hawing might do both me and my wardrobe some good. Sadly, the longer I looked at my clothes, the more miserable I became.

Nothing’s grumpier than a mama who suddenly realizes that she is the perfect candidate for the reality show “What Not to Wear.”

You see, usually when I wake up in the mornings, I turn off the alarm and turn on my mama auto pilot. I am a robotic mama machine. I move through the morning toasting Eggos, dressing boys, and making lunches never actually having to think about what I am doing. My morning routine is mindless and I find comfort in the fact that it doesn’t require any actual thought.

When I’m in robotic mama mode, I certainly don’t waste any time or brain cells on what to wear. I grab my flip flops, my workout shorts, and my T-shirt that says, “I love cupcakes!” and I am off to conquer the world. The last time I checked, world conquering didn’t require anything fashionable. Besides, who doesn’t love cupcakes?

Then today, for reasons only God understands, I decided to break the routine and re-discover, re-introduce myself to the “real” clothes hiding deep in my closet. Clearly it did not go well. After all of that staring and all of that time wasting, I ended up in a pair of baggie boyfriend jeans and a T-shirt that read, “Housework is Evil” because, of course, it is.

To top it off, my hemming and hawing, my sudden, unwarranted need to feel fashionable made me run incredibly late, throwing off the delicate balance of our entire morning. I barely got the boys to school on time, and as I was dropping them off realized that in my vain attempt to look nice, I hadn’t spent one measly minute on my children’s appearance. Both of them had a horrible case of bed head, the Monkey was wearing his favorite Star Wars T-shirt that he had fished out of the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper, and neither of them was wearing socks.

And what’s really sad is with all of that extra effort, all of that extra time spent being re-introducing to my closet, they looked a whole lot better than I did.