Weekly Column: Pockets full of treasures.

©Stephenie Freeman

I thought that boys carrying frogs in their pockets died back in the 1950’s.  Apparently not.  My son doesn’t carry a frog in his pocket, but he does carry around just about anything else that he can find.

I’ve never checked my husband’s before doing laundry.  He’s always been very good about removing everything from his pockets before putting them in the hamper.  A couple of times a forgotten tube of Chapstick found its way to the laundry room, but after ruining two pairs of prized golf slacks, it hasn’t happened since.

My son's pockets are a different story.  While doing the laundry the other day, I noticed my child’s jeans felt a little heavier than usual.  His pockets were full of...stuff.  Inside I found three small LEGOs, two large chunks of gravel, a piece of plastic from a clothing hanger with the letters “MED”,  a dirty pennies that came from God only knows where, a broken rubber band, and a piece of unused dental floss obviously confiscated from the dentist’s office last week.

If this is a sign of things to come, it looks as if my son is going to grow up to be a pack rat.  Either that or his wife is going to have one hell of a time doing his laundry.

I’m not sure when all of this collecting started, but there is something about it that I find fascinating.  I can just picture my little boy waiting patiently for me in a clothing store, biding his time while I work the clearance rack at Target as he is scouring the floor, discovering all sorts of cool things.  Only he knows what beauty he sees in each, this random collection of trash that has now become pure treasure.

What a boy thing to do, filling his pockets full of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.  I’ve always thought that my son resembled Dennis the Menace.  The next time I do laundry, I half expect to look inside his pockets and find a sling shot and a bag full of marbles.

My husband collected coins when he was little.  His brother collected baseball cards.  Both collections are now worth a pretty penny although neither is willing to trade them in for the cash.  I only collected stuffed animals.  At one point I think I counted a total of 278 in my collection.  Unfortunately for me they aren’t worth a darn thing.  I didn’t even get a single bid on eBay.

But in the midst of collecting, most of us don't worry about how much they might eventually be worth.  Our collections are about the chase—about the finding and keeping—and even though my son’s collecting doesn’t have the tidy symmetry of a stamp or rock collection, it is the thrill of the chase that fills his pockets.

Yesterday I scrounged up and old empty shoe box for him to keep his treasures.

“Do you have more of these,” he asked me.

“What for?  Isn’t this one big enough?”

“I like it.  I want more just like it,” he said.

It seems that my son has decided that women’s shoe boxes are cool enough to add to his collection.

If I were a controlling mother (why are you laughing?) I would probably try to steer my son toward collecting something that actually made sense.  When I was his age, I collected stickers.  There was a gift store at the mall that sold Mrs. Grossman’s “Stickers by the Yard.”  I would buy a yard worth, take them home, and oh so carefully put them in a sticker book.  It was a quiet, mess-free activity that kept me busy for hours.

I think I now understand why my mother pushed me to collect them in the first place.

This collecting of random things has come naturally to my child.  It wasn’t something that I had to teach him how to do or something that is part of his school curriculum.  In fact, this whole collecting habit might have started at school.  In his pockets I’ve found a couple of blunt pencils without erasers and several paper clips right next to a small plastic gorilla and a toothpaste cap.

I think we’re going to need a bigger shoebox.

Beating My Personal Best

Try to ignore the fact that I look like Gigantor next to my perfectly petite friend, Lisa and the beautiful professional runner, Karin.  Believe me, I thought twice about posting such an unflattering picture of myself.  But the fact is, this was another proud moment in my running history and I had to share.

Two weeks ago I ran in my 2nd 5K--the Santa Monica 5000.  The Santa Monica Pier is in the background, but the marine layer was too thick that morning to actually see it.  There were several great things about this race, so many that it didn't matter that we had to be up at 5AM for the run.  My facebook status declared early that morning that "apparently I have lost my mind."  I mean, who gets up at 5AM on a Sunday to run?!?!  Well, apparently I do.

1)  You couldn't beat the scenery.  Yes, it was foggy that morning, but running down Ocean (the street that runs parallel to the beach) is hard to beat.

2)  I did it with two of my special friends.  We ran at our own paces, we finished at different times, but we did it together.  More importantly, we celebrated together afterwards with a delicious breakfast and shopping.  That right there is reason to run in my book.

3)  And best of all--I beat my personal best.  Before the race started I told my friends, "All I want to do is beat my previous time.  Oh, and beat that little girl in the dress over there."  Well, unfortunately I didn't beat the little girl running in the dress (she was pretty darn cute and fast too!) but I did improve my time.

My total time was 34:05, with a pace of 11:00.  That is almost a 3 minute improvement on my previous run!  It doesn't sound like much, but believe me when every second and every step counts--it is!  (And if I hadn't walked for 10 second to drink a little water, it would have been even better.)

Our next run is on Halloween down in West L.A.  This time we're getting the husbands and the kids involved--costumes and pumpkin pancakes included.

I'm going to wear a dress.  Maybe that will make me run faster.

list six: 7 reasons why I like blogging

Well isn't this nice?  You stop blogging for a week and when you come back you find that you've been given an award! What's the award for?  Um, yeah, I really have no idea.

Regardless, I'd like to give a big "Thanks, ya'll!" to the Real Housewives of Oklahoma for thinking of me as a worthy blogger.  If you haven't checked out the ladies over at RHOK then you need to get right over there right now.  They are some funny ladies.  One housewife considers herself to be the Susan Lucci of reality shows while another "was forced as a child to hug her outdoor dog as punishment when she got in trouble."  So see, when your visit their site, not only do you laugh but you also get lots of great parenting advice.

So one of the things that you're supposed to do with this award is give 7 truths about yourself.  Since I've already done that
here on one of my lists, I won't bore you with more.  However, it's been a while since I've posted a list so I will bask in my new found versatility and come up with a new one for you.

list six: 7 reasons that I like being a blogger

1.  I like that people (that is, people who actually read my blog) know everything about me and choose to like me anyway.

2.  I like to hear people say, "I read your blog yesterday..."

3.  I like that it's basically scrapbooking without the mess and expense.

4.  I like the honesty of it all, just throwing it all out there on the table for everyone to look at (...and hopefully not judge.)

5.  I like it when I finish writing something funny and I read over it, pat myself on the back and think "Yeah, baby.  I've still got it!"
6.  I like to pretend that other people find my life as interesting as I do.

7.  I like that blogging allowed me to meet new people that I would never have met otherwise.  Like some of the following ladies who I'd like to give the lovely "The Versatile Blogger" award to.

And here they are in no particular order:

Me & My Shortloffs--a friend from college that has continued to be a friend through the glorious wonders of the Internet.  (Oh, and she is funny and has really cute kids to boot!)

Sarah's Fab Day--because how can you not love a blog that has a post entirely dedicated to jello shots?

Dawn's Diversions--I have never met her in person, but I consider her a friend.  That's what blogs do: turn strangers into friends (and also, she always has great ideas for recipe sharing parties.)  

hula seventy--because I stole her idea for lists and she always has lots of cool pictures posted.

Amy Storms--because she's another Okie transplant who's writing inspires me every time I read it.

stephmodo--because I love the versatility of beautiful pictures posted on her blog (and it doesn't hurt that her name is Steph.)

Be Different...Act Normal--because with a blog name like that, how can you not like it!

Happy Friday!

"Fashion is made to become unfashionable." ~Coco Chanel

Once upon a time, I was a fashionable person.  I had a closet that others envied.  Not any more.

I always swore that I wouldn't spend my days in yoga pants and T-shirts.  Just because other mothers did it didn't mean that I had to.

So what am I wearing today?  The same thing that I've been wearing for the majority of the last 8 years: yoga pants and a T-shirt.

Do I want to look cute?  Of course!  What girl doesn't?  But the effort required (and often the money) just isn't there.  But occasionally I'll get the fashion bug.  Suddenly all I want to do is shop and be in fashion and look like a person who cares.  Why just the other day I was on a fashion website that listed the "Top Trends for This Fall." Here they are in order with--unfortunately--my immediate reaction to each:

1.  Over-the-knee boots.  I have a hard enough time getting regular boots to zip up over my fat calves. Trying to get a pair over my knees and my thighs will only make me hate myself more.  Besides, over-the-knee boots reminds me of Pretty Woman and looking like a girl workin' a corner isn't a look that I personally want to achieve.

2.  Military.  If this includes camo print yoga pants, I'm in.

3.  Lace-up boots.  What is the damn fascination with boots?  And ones that lace up?  Yeah.  Not gonna happen.

4.  Vintage details.  Is my sorority sweatshirt that I cut the neck out of in 1991 (and is the softest thing in the entire universe) finally old enough to be considered vintage?  Sweet!

5.  Skinny cords.  (Snort.)  Whatever.  You lost me at the word "skinny."

6.  Faux fur.  I already wear fur on a daily basis.  I spend my days vacuuming up fur from my three dogs.  Fur naturally covers every piece of clothing I own.

7.  Blanket sweaters.  Now this is something to be excited about!  And leopard print is in, which means that I will totally rock that leopard print Snuggie this season.  I'm gonna look hot!

8.  Spat boots.  More freakin' boots.  I'm already tired of boots and Fall isn't even officially here yet.

9.  Saddle bags. I already have these!  (But I have a feeling it's not the same saddle bags that they are referring to.)

10.  Feminine jewels.  My mother always taught that my feminine jewels were precious and that I shouldn't just give them away to the first boy that asks for them because it's more important to love...but...wait, that's probably not what they are talking about either.

There's a quote I read that says, "Fashion is what you adopt when you don't know who you are."  Well people of the fashion world, I know exactly who I am.  I am a mother who is busy and tired and looks hot in a clean pair of yoga pants and a semi-wrinkled T-shirt.  And it makes me very happy.

Hope you're wearing something that makes you happy today.  Happy Friday!

forgive me, but it's just so darn funny

The Monkey had his very first flag football game last weekend.  He's that cute one there running with the ball. He didn't score any points or make any big plays, but he had fun doing it.

And isn't that the whole point?

So I'm busy looking through my camera lens and the Golfer says to me.  "Point your camera at that kid over there.  You're going to want to blog about this."

"Why?" I asked.

"Just look," was his only response.  Because he was laughing and couldn't explain.  And when the Golfer says I'm going to want to blog about something, I pay attention because it's probably pretty good.

Now before I go any further, I just want to say that I don't know this mom or this child that I'm about to expose.  I'm sure that she is a wonderful woman and mother and the child is no doubt a total delight. Usually I only use this blog to point out my own flaws as a woman and a mother, but this was too good not to share.

I point my camera to the other end of the field and this is what I see...

The next play is getting ready to start and I see this mom, carrying out her son onto the back field who is kicking and basically throwing a fit.  This mom stays out on the field with her small child who CLEARLY does not want to be out there.  She stands behind him, putting him in between her legs with her baggie full of treats.

And he suddenly spots the treats and starts to calm down...

...and then the mom stands there during the game and feeds him like some kind of five-year-old baby bird. (i.e., Pavlov's dog--get him to do what you want by feeding him.)  Do you think she's read anything recently about the child obesity epidemic?  Mighty Mite flag football is supposed to be a time to get our kids to run off the calories, not consume extra.

What killed me was that there was an actual football game going on during this whole time.  Kids running the ball, pulling flags, and making plays all without their parents feeding them on the field.  So what happened when the play started to come his way?  The mom grabbed his shoulders and ran him in the direction of the play.  And what did the kid do?  He started to cry, dug his heels in, and desperately reached for his baggie full of treats.

I'm shocked I was able to take pictures I was laughing so hard.

Now, don't think I'm mean.  Please don't think I'm awful.  But really, I had never seen anything like it (and I've seen some parents act like real idiots at these games.)

Yeah, um, I'm not the brightest or the best parent out there, but I would think that if I had to FEED my child throughout a football game to get him to "participate" then the chances are fairly good that he DOESN'T WANT TO PLAY.  And as much as we parents want them to play a great game like football, sometimes we have to stop and think that what we want and what the child wants might be drastically different.  And that's okay.

Take the Big Cheese for example.  He's played flag football for the last two years and then this year he decided that he didn't want to play.  We were sad because we love football and we saw his potential.  He was our little Rudy Ruettiger.  But he simply didn't want to play.  He wanted to take art classes and soccer lessons.  So you know what he's doing?  He's taking art classes and soccer lessons and I don't have to feed him to make him do it.

God bless this sweet mom for trying, but I don't see the NFL in this child's future.  I don't think she couldn't find a baggie big enough to keep him out there.

There's too much organic produce in the house! (And that's a good thing.)

Last Saturday morning I got up early to pick up this crate.

Every Saturday, for around 40 bucks, I bring home fresh organic produce.  Straight from the farmer to my family.  (I'm not getting paid for this endorsement, but I suddenly feel like I should be.)

Through a program called Abundant Harvest, my family will be eating fresh veggies that they probably wouldn't be otherwise.  It costs about the same as buying organic in the grocery store--that is, if you can find these kind of veggies freshly picked at your local store. It's just like going to a farmers market--everything's locally grown.  They just take the headache of shopping out of it.

You don't get to pick what's in your crate.  As the Monkey would say, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."  All I have to do is go to a nearby parking lot, hand over a card with our name on it, and they hand me a big beautifully filled crate that I will return next week to pick up another beautifully filled crate.  The fruits and veggies in the crate are always seasonal, and in this week's crate I opened it up to find this:

green leaf lettuce, arugula, grapes, basil, granny smith apples...

and figs, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, avacados....

red onions, carrots, pears, eggplant, a melon, an acorn squash, yellow summer squash, zucchini, and red potatoes.

90% of what was in my crate were things that I would buy normally.  The eggplant, figs and arugula are about the only things that I wouldn't normally buy, but that's a good thing.  It's forcing me to cook new things.  It's forcing our family to try new things because you just never know.  As my mother was known to say when I was a small, picky eater, "Try it.  You might like it."

list five: 22 reasons why I love football season

:: photo courtesy of daisy70 ::

1.  College Game Day on ESPN.

2.  People who walk down the street and randomly yell, "Boomer!"

3.  The excitement in a college town on a Saturday morning.

4.  Something to look forward to every Saturday.

5.  Owen Field--the one constant in my life.

6.  All of the Facebook quarterbacks.

7.  Watching 5 year-olds playing flag football.

8.  The bowl game talk before the season starts.

9.  Game dogs.

10.  Breakfast beers.

11.  The In-and-Out truck at the Rose Bowl.

12.  Rose Bowl kettle corn.

13.  Realizing that the majority of my love of football season has to do with food.

14.  Choking up at the end of the National Anthem.

15.  The sea of crimson at the Cotton Bowl.

16.  The Eight Clap.

17.  "I need every man, woman, and child..." (From the UCLA yell leaders.)

18.  How it brings people together.

19.  How it tears people apart.

20.  The Bruins.

21.  The Sooners.

22.  The love.

**Coming Soon! Fellow bloggers--soon you'll get to play along and make your own list.  That's Baloney enjoyed my lists so much she recommended that I make a weekly MEME so everyone can play along.  So look for it soon!**

Project Central: Magnetic Paint

I'm a person that likes a project.  I like seeing ideas in magazines and giving them a try.  And this one, that I saw in Better Homes and Gardens, seemed like a good one: magnetic paint.

In my kitchen I have had a magnet board for the last several years to display our "stuff" because our stainless fridge isn't magnetic.  But it was a small little thing and was usually so overcrowded that you couldn't read anything on it.

I started by taping off the majority of the wall, careful to make sure my lines were straight.

After that I prepared the paint.  Not surprisingly, I bought a paint try that could be recycled.

Then I got busy painting.

This was after the first coat.  According the the can, it should only take 2-3 light coats.  Yeah, not so much.  It took me 5 coats and could probably have used a few more.  But considering that you have to wait 30 minutes between coats, after 5 I was ready to stop my lovely project and watch the Emmys.

It turned out...okay.  Not the greatest project because some of my little magnets just don't have enough power to stick to the paint and hold up Kindergarten artwork.  Also, I wanted to paint a border around the board, but unfortunately my blue painter's tape would not stick on the magnetic paint and I did not leave enough space around the edge.  Also know that you don't have to leave it black.  You can paint over the magnetic paint to make it disappear--or so the paint can claims.

Now I just need more magnets. Powerful magnets. Magnets that say funny things with dirty words and hold pictures of my kids.  Just not at the same time.

Airbrushing. It's a good thing.

:: the getty ::

:: airbrushing courtesy of picnik ::

He's a heart breaker. He gets it from his father.

:: the cute couple ::

Is that not the cutest picture?  That was taken last June during Water Day at preschool.  And that cutie patootie in the pigtails is the Monkey's girlfriend. (The one that looked at me and told me that she was going to marry my son but I would not be invited to the wedding.  Yeah, that one.)

Or should I say she was his girlfriend.

A couple of days ago, while enjoying an after-school snack, I asked the Monkey who he had played with at school that day.

"Uh, Tommy* and Jenny*.  They're my friends."  (*Names changed to protect the innocent.)

"Oh, I know Jenny," I said.  "She's that cute little girl with dark hair.  Is she your new girlfriend?"

Perhaps it's wrong to be encouraging such young love, but the kid has brought it on himself.  He's made no bones about being in love.  Holding hands on the field trip bus, playing "Princess and the Frog" during recess. Yeah, he's quite the ladies man at a whopping 5 years of age.

But I wasn't prepared for his answer.

"I don't have a girlfriend anymore.  I'm moving on."

Moving on?  Hahahahahaha!  How can you not crack up with that kind of an answer?  Where on Earth has he heard that kind of a line?  

But wait a minute.  My heart was starting to break for the little cutie patootie that was going to be my future daughter-in-law.  She is the sweetest!  Whenever she sees the Monkey she blushes and tilts her head and waves.  Not to mention that she always gives me a big hug too. I mean she's the cutest!  Now all of the sudden my son thinks he's a big boy, a big Kindergartner, and feels that it's time to move on.

Somebody is gonna have to talk to that kid.  I mean he's gotta learn that he just can't suddenly change his mind whenever he feels like it, leaving a trail of broken hearts behind him.  I will not have it!

"You're not going to handle it very well when they really start dating, are you?" the Golfer asked me as I was telling him the story later that night.

Obviously not.