Creating a monster of a reader

Every time we drove by the new public library, which wasn't often but often enough, Bentley would ask when we could go in. Would beg, actually. To say that I was shocked and pleasantly surprised by his request would be the understatement of the decade.

This love for the library was a long time coming. When he was around 2 years old, I decided that he was old enough to sit still and listen to story time at the library. Driving to the library with my first born for the first time, pregnant and nauseous with the next little Freeman, I had a vision of what my boy's first experience would be like. We would find a few books to read on the carpet together, maybe a classic or two from my own childhood like Where the Wild Things Are or maybe Ezra Jack Keats' Snowy Day. We would then quietly move into the room for story time, where Bentley would quietly sit and listen to the librarian. Maybe we'd even make a couple of new friends. It would be a lovely, memory-making experience.

You see, I loved the library. My mom always took me there when I was little. We'd go to story time and then to the drug store down the street for chocolate milk. The library was a happy place and now that I had my own child to take there, my expectations were high.

The children's section in the library, however, had changed a little bit since I was a kid. Along with the brightly colored carpets and the rows of miniature bookshelves, now there was a LEGO table, a Thomas train table, cool artwork hanging from the ceiling and posted on the wall. And don't forget all of animals behind glass cages to look, at including new born baby hamsters. This place was a toddler/preschooler paradise!

I tried several times, unsuccessfully, to get Bentley to sit in my lap and read a story. I'd get through half of a page and he was off to something else. And the actual story time with the librarian? Forget it. He had no interest. Granted, he was only 2 and expecting a child that age to sit and listen was a large ask. But he continued to do the same thing when he was 3 and 4 and 5 years old. Of course, we didn't know then what we know now--that sitting down and paying attention just wasn't going to happen for Bentley no matter how badly I wanted it.

Eventually I gave up on story time and the library. He never wanted to just sit and read. I would have his little brother in my lap reading Trashy Town yet again (Palmer's f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e library book) and Bentley would be everywhere. Not in a bad kid type of way, but of a kid with ADD type of way. A child who is so overly simulated that he can't focus on any one thing for any length of time. I finally decided that grabbing a few books at Target or Barnes and Noble was a lot easier than the frustrating experience the library had become.

When we first moved to California in 2006, I decided to try again. Funds were low and free entertainment was a must. Turns out that although the location was different, the experience was the same. Except this time I had an old man yelling at me, telling me what a bad parent I was because I was allowing my children to talk in a library. When my kids are misbehaving, I own it. But in this particular case my boys were using their whisper voices, quietly asking me questions about this book or that. But this man continued to berate me, even after I politely explained that in the children's section my children were allowed to act like... children. So instead of punching him in the mouth like I wanted to do, I left in tears. Tears because my library experience with my children had just gone from bad to worse.

Jump ahead to March 23, 2013. We head as a family back to the library. As we crossed the street and ascended the stairs into the building, Bentley asked, "Can I get my own library card?" I told him probably so and that we would certainly ask. I was so proud and excited that my son and I were going to share in something that I loved. It was the memory-making moment I had been waiting for.

You see, in the last year Bentley has become a crazy reader. Crazy as in "put the book down we're at the beach!" type of a reader. It took a while, but that preschooler that I thought would never, ever be a reader had finally become one. And a voracious one at that! In fact, the book that he check-out that day (or "rented" according to his little brother) he finished reading before he went to bed that night.

"Mom, can we go back to the library tomorrow?"

"Probably not tomorrow, but soon. We will go back very soon."

"But I want to go today..."

Looks like I've created a monster and I couldn't be happier.

The one where I talk about my talented friends.

I have the most talented friends on the planet. No really. I really do. I could write a never-ending blog about all of the talents that my friends possess. Today, I will limit it to one. My friend Kim Frakes.

Kim and I have been friends since the fourth grade. She is dear and precious to me in so many ways. It kills me that we have to live so far apart and I'm reduced to only seeing her a couple of times a year. Especially now that she has started her Sassy Sawdust classes!

In her retirement from teaching (she was a very talented teacher, by the way) she has gone crafting crazy! She's always been crafty (she makes her own homemade vanilla and has the best handwriting on the entire planet) but she's recently taken her craftiness to a new level.

Kim has gone jigsaw crazy!

See that darling Easter egg hanging on my door? That's from one of her "Make and Take" classes. (And since I can't go to any of her classes and make one for myself, and because she loves me, she made this one especially for me.) She's had classes where you take home a mitten (for those winter months), a heart, a bird, and most recently, an Easter egg.

The coolest thing about all of this? Kim is taking her talents and putting them to use. And best of all, she's having fun doing it (and maybe making a little bit of spending money too!) Check out Sassy Sawdust's Facebook page to learn more about her classes.

Or even better, just have her make you own of these:

I told you. My friends are talented. Crazy talented.

Love you, Kim.

The one where I talk about my Honey-Do list.

There is nothing I like better than looking back on a day and seeing everything I've accomplished. So, looking back on an entire weekend of accomplishments makes me really, really happy.

This weekend I decided to be intentional about getting things done. I had the hubs home for three days straight and I wasn't going to waste him. I never create a honey-do list for him. (He hates those.) Instead, I try to make my honey-do list that doesn't exist sound as appealing as possible.

Honey, I want to add a little color to the back yard. Will you go with me to Home Depot to buy flowers?

And before he knows what hit him, he's covered in dirt and doing most of the work. He's pulling weeds and fixing sprinkler heads and I'm, well, I'm a happy lady.

That is exactly how our weekend went down. I made several suggestions disguised as "favors" and the hubs dutifully agreed to each. He cleaned out his closet and then promptly took the five (yes, five) large trash bags full of clothes to Goodwill. He took P to the park so B and I could stay home and read our library books (more on than adventure in a future post.) He helped me cook (i.e., he did the grilling) and then helped me clean. The best part was that we did it all together. He is a good husband and I will keep him forever.

Most days, for both me and the hubs, are filled with tasks. Things we have to get done. Things we have to do in order to be successful in life. We aren't always good at it; good at getting it all done. It's chaotic. Busy. Hectic. We're forgetful. We're disorganized. We get frustrated and embarrassed at our constant lack of ability. And we're constantly tired. Always tired. And that is what it's like. Week...after week...after week.

So why on earth would we intentionally fill a weekend, a free weekend together, with more stuff to do?

Why? Because I discovered the hard way that life doesn't stop just because it's the weekend. Every weekend can't be a mini-vacation no matter how much we want it or need it. There are things to do and taking a weekend off only makes those things pile up. And when those things pile up it makes me crazy and I'm no good when I'm crazy. Just ask the hubs. Which, of course, is the reason why he's always quick and willing to be so helpful around the house. One completed honey-do list a day helps keep the crazy wife at bay.

Yep, there's nothing I like better than checking everything off of my honey-do list that doesn't exist. And let's face it. There's freedom in getting stuff done. Even when it's the smallest of things like putting the laundry away, there's a serious sense of accomplishment when that laundry basket is empty. I realize that makes me sad and pitiful, but I don't care. Check it off. Sigh. And smile.

Honey...can you do me a favor?

The one where I talk about why my dreams won't come true.

Turing 40 has caused me to realize several things:
  • I will never be interviewed by Barbara Walters. I used to have this reoccuring daydream of Barbara Walters interviewing me for her "10 Most Interesting People" show. That's never going to happen and I'm okay with that.
  • I will never sing on stage. This was another daydream, usually involving some type of Christmas spectacular. I was always wearing a long red velvet dress while singing Mariah Carey's version of "All I Want for Christmas is You." That's never going to happen and I'm okay with that.
  • I will never host Saturday Night Live. (Disappointing, but okay.)
  • I will never be a cover model. (Which is probably a good thing.)
  • I will never become a best-selling author. (This one still makes me sad, but I have to be okay with that.)
  • I will never host my own show on HGTV. (Although I'd totally rock it and it would be everyone's new favorite show. Yeah, I'm not quite ready to give up on this one yet.)
  • I will never star on MTV's show "The Real World." I always thought I'd be the perfect candidate for the "good girl" roommate that is constantly shocked by all of the nutty shenanigans of her fellow roommates. MTV is never gonna call and I'm more than okay with that.
  • I will never win the coveted, quadruple E.G.O.T. (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) hence the reason why...
  • I will never walk a red carpet. The only red carpets I'll ever be walking on will be the ones that lead into Mexican food restaurants and I'm okay with that because who doesn't love Mexican food? Speaking of food...
  • I will never have a six-pack. I love food. I love food that is bad for you. I will struggle against that love my entire life. It's not the greatest but it is what it is and I'm okay with that.
  • I will never be a fashion icon. I prefer a good pair of yoga pants over a sequined gown any day of the week and twice on Tuesday. My face/body/clothes will never grace the front page of the Image section of the LA Times. I will always be one of the fat armed women wearing a boring black dress in the background and guess what? I'm okay with that. Although I would like to do something about my arms.
I will never be famous or have some massive talent to display on stage. I will never have a reason to wear gorgeous couture gowns or have the body to fit into them. I will never look into a camera and scream, "Live from New York..." and students all over American won't be standing in line to buy my next book. The fame game doesn't need me as a participant. Because the truth is, it was never God's will for me to be anything of those things and that is the reason why I'm okay with that.

The one where I talk about my Easter candy addiction.

Some people can sit and eat an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting. I can do that with a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs and a bag of chips. And just in case you're wondering, sometimes I eat both at the same time. One after the other. Salty followed by sweet. In that order. I wish I was exaggerating for comedic effect, but I'm not. Yeah, I don't know how I don't weigh 400 pounds either.

I am ready for all of the holiday candy to go away. It has been present and readily available since Halloween and I'm ready for it to stop. Like some kind of shady, back alley dealer, all of the grocery stores have been pushing these sugar-laden drugs on me for months now. Today my will power finally gave out. A choco-holic can only hold out for so long.

I had been good. I didn't buy the candy corn at Halloween, avoided the peppermint bark at Christmas and didn't eat a single candy heart during Valentine's. I have been so good for so long. But now the Easter candy has appeared and I just can't take it.

This morning, after dropping the kids off at school, I headed YogaWorks. I learned the hard way that it's best not to eat prior to this Sculptworks cardio class, so after a 55 minutes workout that made me want to throw a kettle ball at my instructor, I was starving. And that was putting it mildly. I was what a friend calls "hangry." Hungry+Angry=Hangry. You know that person that gets extremely grumpy when they're hungry? Yeah, I'm one of those. And as luck would have it, the errand I needed to run after the class just happened to be to the grocery store.

You probably know where I'm going with this.

I only needed a few things: a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter. (If you don't get that joke, you didn't watch much Sesame Street in the 70's). You've probably heard the saying, "Never go to the grocery store hungry." We'll add to that, "...especially after just coming from a workout that has left you believing that you have earned the right to eat whatever your heart desires."

I didn't even pretend to avoid the Easter Candy aisle. All of my enemies were there waiting for me: Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. Jelly Beans the flavor of Starbursts. Whoppers Robin Eggs. And Peeps. Don't leave out the Peeps. Those things are made by Satan himself.

My grocery cart was filled with a lot more than just a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter. The amount of junk that I loaded up with was embarrassing. The guy at the cash register saw all of the candy and asked, "Working on the kids' Easter baskets?" Yeah, sure that's it. It's all for the kids.

Except it wasn't. It was for me. And I took it home and ate it as quickly as possible to avoid having to share any of it with my children. If I can't be proud, at least I can be honest.

Stop judging me and hand me another Peep.