You might want to look away...

Eight years ago today I was sitting in Ted's eating Mexican food knowing that the next day I was going to become a mother.

February 25, 2002 I was the huge pregnant woman sitting in Ted's eating her weight in chips and queso.

We headed to Ted's after the doctor had said, "Why don't we induce you tomorrow?" The Golfer and I shrugged in agreement and headed off for our last quiet meal alone. Ted's seemed like the obvious choice (those of you who live in the OKC Metro area are nodding in agreement.)

I went home and did all of the normal things that a woman does before she has a baby. I called my family with the news. I did some laundry. I fed the dogs and checked my hospital bag just to make sure that I had everything. In other words, it was like any other ordinary day.

Except that it wasn't. I was about to become a mother and I had no earthly idea what that meant.

I can't really remember what I did the rest of the evening except for one thing. I remember the Golfer wanting to take my picture; a picture of my huge, enormous, 2 days overdue belly. I was a little mortified by the idea (I wasn't one of the women who chronicled my ever expanding waistline) but now I am so glad that he made me do it.

Now for those of you who are delicate, you might want to look away. Please forgive the lovely white bra and the leopard towel. Please also excuse the horrible state of my hair (or should I say roots) and lack of makeup but frankly I was about to give birth in less than 12 hours and I really could have cared less.

Remember that I warned you...

:: As Frank Barone would say, "Holy Crap!" ::

Yep, this was me, 8 years ago today. 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I look at that now and simply cannot believe that my son who is all glasses and teeth and can read and multiply and ride his bike and loves Legos more than life itself was inside my belly!

And tomorrow he will turn 8.

When Tuesday still feels like Monday.

I wish I took more time out to twirl, to play, to enjoy the day.

I wish I yelled less and smiled more.

I wish my children would listen...the first time.

I wish I could fix problems that are bigger than I am.

I wish the to-do list would remain empty, for a little while at least.

I wish things could just be easy instead of always difficult (although I tend to do difficult quite well.)

I wish things would stay clean.

I wish dogs could only pee outside.

I wish I always knew what to make for dinner and that the fixings were always in my pantry.

I wish there was more time to read.

I wish there was more time to spend with friends.

I wish there was more peace and quite.

Because even after almost 8 years of motherhood, this mama still wants more.

Just your typical four-day weekend.

We were in Newport Beach (the Newport Coast to be exact) over the four-day weekend. Not a bad place to kill a little time, let me tell ya.

Officially we were there on business (a golf tournament which the Bruins won) which meant while the Golfer and the boys were busy on the course, I got to amuse myself with a little local shopping.

:: The Monkey watching a little golf at Pelican Hill ::

Shopping in the O.C. is an adventure. Beautiful people everywhere. Even their dogs are beautiful. It's sickening. Everyone is thin, driving expensive cars, and look like they have nothing better to do but spend a lot of money because, well, they probably don't.

Heading into the fancy shopping center, I parked my Tahoe in between a Rolls-Royce (not kidding) and a Mercedes. On the other side of that was another Mercedes and yet another Mercedes. Mercedes as far as the eye can see.

Yeah, I fit right in.

Not only are the people and the cars in Newport beautiful, so are all of the surroundings. Let's just say the Newport Fire Station has better landscaping than my own house. But that's not really saying much I guess.

:: One of the views from the course during the tournament. Yeah, that's the ocean in the background. ::
Even the grocery stores are better there. I ran into a Pavilion's to grab a few things with the boys and they immediately found the shopping carts for kids that have the cars in the front. You know the ones that I am talking about? Well, these carts not only had the cars for the kids to "drive" but they also had little televisions for the kids to watch.


I mean, I'm all about have distractions to keep my kids occupied while I shop, but more T.V.? Kids have televisions at home, in the cars, and now in the grocery stores? Please.

So we took our time looking around the store (because there was T.V. to watch after all) so we got a Jamba Juice for the boys (there was a Jamba Juice bar inside the store), a Starbucks for Mama (there was one of those too, never mind that there was a Starbucks 20 yards outside of the store), and then we just wandered around.
It was like window shopping at a mall filled with produce.
And to answer your burning question, no, we did not see any of the Real Housewives of Orange County. It's a good thing too because I don't know that I could have refrained from wanting to drive them over with my Tahoe just to put them out of their brainless misery.

I can't wait to go back.

For the love of reading.

I own more books than I can read. But I can't help myself! I just keep buying and buying and buying...

I love to read. It is my favorite thing to do. It's all I want to do in my free time. I am a four-eyed, book-loving nerd.

The older I've gotten, the more I have fallen in love with books. I remember exactly when it happened too. I was pregnant with the Cheese, throwing up and feeling awful 24/7. All I could do was watch T.V. and read. I read 9 books in 9 months. It was like some kind of record for me. It was the beginning of a slow building addiction.

Now I read about a book a week. I recently heard a story of a woman who read a book a day. She didn't have any children and had lots and lots of money to spend on books. I don't know if the story is true or not, but I'll admit, I'm pretty jealous.

Going into a Barnes and Noble is like going to church for me. It's peaceful. It makes me happy. And I usually learn something while I'm there.

I've debated recently on whether or not to buy a Kindle or a nook, but there's just something about a plain, ol' book. I love to feel the cover. I love the way that a book feels in my hands. I like seeing that I've half way through. I love finishing it and putting it up on the shelf, pointing to it and saying, "I read that.

The Cheese is a good reader. He's a better reader as a second grader than I was as a sophomore in high school. For Valentine's Day I gave him Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It's filled with lots of words like "jerk" and "moron" and I realize that I am probably filling him with lots of ammunition against his little brother, but if it helps to continue his love of reading then I think that it's worth the risk.

:: The Cheese and his new book on the golf course ::

It seems to be working. Last night I couldn't get him to turn off his light and go to bed. I have a feeling that the Harry Potter series probably isn't that far behind.

I keep a running list of what I've read, what I'm currently reading, and what I want to read over on the website (There's a box showing my books over in the sidebar to your right.) You can check out my page and become my "friend" if you want to over here.
Now I'm hopping off of the computer because I have better things to do. Like read.

Just passing it along.

During some of my free time this weekend, I actually read a newspaper. Now, I read the newspaper every day (give or take) but I usually just breeze through it within a matter of minutes. This week I found an article worth reading in its entirety.

I thought I'd take a minute to share some of it here. A man by the name of Cary Quashen has a column, "Action", that shared the following tips on showing our children some love this Valentine's Day.

The tips aren't anything mind-blowing, but I thought were a nice reminder; something to cut out and stick on the fridge for those days when the act of parenting drives you to drink--a lot. (Of course, if you've had a lot to drink, you probably won't be able to read it, but it's there anyway...just in case.)

  1. Remember that children often reflect what they have or have not been taught

  2. Be patient, not just tolerant

  3. Remember that children often need love the most when they "deserve" it the least

  4. Help them learn the feeling of regret, not just say they are sorry

  5. Help them learn the feeling of gratitude, not just say thank you

  6. Answer their questions

  7. Know that a child experiencing love will express love
  8. Say the word "love" a lot

There were 44 tips in all, but these were just a few that really spoke to me. Maybe they'll do the same for you.

Urgent Care Characters

Last night I found myself headed to urgent care at 5:45 at night even though there were Dino Nuggets still in the oven and some yummy steaks waiting in the fridge to be grilled.

Surprisingly I wasn't there for my children. No, I was there for myself. I had woken up yesterday with a...well...let's call it a girly issue. I had a pretty good idea that I had a...well...a...UTI (there I said it) but I had a Valentine party at the Monkey's preschool and two hours worth of soccer practice to endure. The UTI was just going to have to wait.

But the funny thing about UTI's is that they only get worse no matter how much water or cranberry juice to try to drink. And we were leaving the next day for Orange County to watch the team play in a tournament, so I made the quick almost impulsive decision to head to urgent care.

Now, you're probably wondering why I am sharing so much this morning. It's to say this: If you want to people watch, go to an urgent care center. Sitting in the waiting room I saw all sorts of characters.

There was this old man holding court, talking loud enough for the entire valley to hear, spouting his supposed knowledge about newspapers and government and politics. No one was listening or responding to anything that he was saying (he was there by himself) but that didn't stop him from talking. I wondered if he came to urgent care for just a a little company.

There was another man who didn't want his daughter sitting next to his sick wife. His sick wife didn't look sick at all and the daughter, probably about 10 or so, clung to the mother for dear life which annoyed the husband who could only talk about how hungry he was.

There was an old lady who, with her bag of pills, told the receptionist that she wasn't sure why she was there, that her doctor had told her to come.

There was a guy with a bandaged hand, a baby with a big cut in his forehead, and lot of people (like myself) who didn't look sick but seemed to be in some kind of pain.

Instead of reading magazines from 2004 or watching the news, I just stared at everyone. I'm not sure why, but I was so curious to know what brought everyone here on a random Thursday night.

The doctors got me in and out of there pretty quickly (within an hour of arriving which is so totally unheard of) and I could tell that my fellow sick people weren't very pleased with me. But when I woke up this morning feeling better, I couldn't help but wonder what happened to all of those people last night.

Did the old lady figure out was what wrong?

Did that husband ever get to eat?

Did the little baby have to get stitches?

Did the annoying old man ever get anyone to talk back to him?

Who knows. But I pray that they're all okay.

Children say the darndest things.

Sitting in the barbershop waiting for his brother to get his hair cut, the Monkey looked at me and said, "My penis is standing up."

What am I supposed to say to that?

No, I mean it. What am I supposed to say? Because I seriously have no earthly idea. I do not have a penis and I do not know what to do (or say) when it is "standing up."

Well, before I even had a chance to say anything, he reaches into his pants what he needs to do so it won't stand up anymore. Whatever that may be.

And please know that this isn't the first time that we've had this problem. And for whatever reason it keeps happening when we are out in public. I guess they are just really excited to be out of the house. Who knows.

But I'm not kidding. I need some advice on what to say because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this won't be the last time that this happens. As a matter of fact, it probably will only get a lot worse. Luckily, I know that eventually they will not want to tell me about it.

Weekly Column: Hot Rolling Nerdiness

© Stephenie Freeman

I curled my hair with hot rollers the other day. I haven’t done that since 1989.

Hot rollers used to be a staple at my house. I learned everything I know (which isn’t much) about hairdos from my mother. When I was a little kid, my mother had this thick brown hair that could usually only be tamed with the power of the spiked hot rollers that would heat up on her bathroom counter next to a bright blue can of Aqua Net, a large bottle of Chanel No. 5, and a variety of wine colored lipsticks to keep you busy kissing the mirror for hours.

I have memories of her getting ready for a night out, her high heels clicked along the floor, the hot rollers hanging from her head very Medusa-like. As my mother would bend to kiss me goodbye, I would cross my fingers and pray that I would grow into my very own set of hot rollers one day.

I wasn’t allowed to use my mother’s hot rollers. Instead I was forced to endure the embarrassment of the spongy plastic pink rollers. Mom would roll my wet hair at bedtime and ten hours later I would wake with a rat’s nest of rollers, leaving my hair curly, kinky, and crazy. As if the glasses and braces and pre-teen awkwardness that were plaguing my young life weren’t enough.

Even though I never actually said the words “I am a nerd” out loud, that is exactly what I was and no amount of hair rolling could change that. In truth, the 1980’s were not kind to me and those of you who knew me back then are probably reading this and politely shaking your head in agreement.

Regardless of my nerdiness, trudged through my teens holding out hope that one day I would emerge, blossom as they say, into something better…prettier. All I needed were some hot rollers—and the long thick hair to go with it—to turn my life around. Unfortunately, I had a long way to go.

Let me paint the nerdy picture for you: I wore big, thick glasses and had a mouth full of metal. I liked playing with stuffed animals and was intensely proud of my sticker collection. I always had a horrible haircut, played the French horn in the school band, and spent my free time at school in the library. I wish I was making this all up, but the truth is not always pretty and neither was I.

I saw something the other day on the Internet about celebrities ushering in something called “Nerdy Chic.” There were pictures of said celebs wearing large, black horn-rimmed glasses, sporting preppy attire, and doing so in a very cool way. For me it was like looking at an answered prayer that happened to come 20 years too late.

Eventually I grew out of braces and into contacts and a new self-confidence. In high school I began to see that my self-esteem didn’t have to be solely connected to my looks or lack thereof and in doing so emancipated myself from the nerdiness that was keeping me from my best self.

But any true Nerd will tell you: once a Nerd, always a Nerd. It doesn’t matter how many hair styles I try (and I’ve tried a lot) I’m still my geeky self deep down inside. The last few years I’ve let my hair grow longer and I recently found myself standing in Target, starring at a box of hot rollers.

I brought them home filled with hopeful anticipation. Perhaps with a quick spritz of Chanel No. 5 and a touch of wine colored lipstick, I could be the woman I have always wanted to be.

But maybe, in my own nerdy way, I already am.