Stories from November 2011

Cheez Whiz™ and Kool-Aid™ Mustaches Ain’t So Bad

Karrie McAllister

I really do try to be a decent parent because when it comes to my children, I know that their general health and their behavior are the direct result of the upbringing my husband and I muddle through.

I correct their grammar. I watch their language. I encourage good moral character and am constantly forcing upon them such things as exercise, education, and healthy eating habits. Generally speaking, it’s exhausting. Parenting would be a much easier job if I didn’t give a hoot about how clean their bodies, mouths, and minds were.

But the universe has something to say to me about all of it. At the store where I do most of my grocery shopping, right on the end cap by the snacks and beverages is a full rack of something that seems to jump out at me every time I roll my cart by. It practically leaps off the rack and challenges my very parenting techniques no matter how I try to avert my eyes. It’s Cheez Whiz, that lovely cheese in a can with a nifty little squirty top so that you can make star designs in cheesy delight on top of your crackers.

I spent a good portion of my childhood eating Cheez Whiz. The stuff was amazing, especially when you could give yourself a Cheez Whiz mustache which was just a line of orange that lay overtop an already shaded upper lip, thanks to the gallon of red Kool-Aid I drank every day. (Read more…)

The Little Things

Sarah Logan

Since, here in the U.S., this week is about giving thanks,  I’ve been thinking a lot about my life and all the blessings in it.  There are the obvious things, like food and shelter and clothing, the health of our family, and the fact that we live in freedom.  This list isn’t about that.  It’s about the small things that make life easier on a daily basis.  This is my “Mommy Is Thankful For” list:

  1. Imaginative children. Caveman is never Caveman these days.  He is Batman, or Mr. Freeze, or The Flash stuck in bubblegum.  Sometimes he is a giant pickle (I have no idea).  We never know what we’ll get with him, and it makes things interesting.
  2. NO MORE DIAPERS! Something clicked in Caveman’s mind and he is now diaper-free.  It feels GREAT!
  3. It’s almost Christmas. This means I can use Santa to manipulate my kids into behaving.
  4. Lifesaver Friends. When life gets overwhelming, they step in to ease the load.  Or they just pour the wine.  Either way, it helps.
  5. On-demand television. Whether you get it from a streaming service or a DVR, the ability to turn on the show your child wants right when they want it (or when you need to cook dinner) is awesome and should not be taken for granted.
  6. Slow Cookers. Is there anything better than having dinner cook itself?  If only they were self-cleaning . . .
  7. Kid-friendly Apps that make dining out or doing anything that involves waiting less painful.
  8. My dog. Yes, he sheds all over the floor, but he also eats all the food my kids drop.  I figure we’re even.
  9. WiFi. I can sit outside watching the kids and play Words With Friends while updating Facebook and typing a paper.  Multitasking at its best.
  10. The discovery that a soak in water and vinegar will remove the mildew smell from the clothes I accidentally left in the washing machine.   Try it—it works.
  11. Children who sleep through the night in their own beds.
  12. Three-year-olds who mostly still nap.
  13. Baby wipes. Is there anything you can’t clean with a baby wipe?
  14. MP3 players. I can play music I like that is appropriate for my kids, and I don’t have to worry that a DJ is going to say something I don’t want them repeating.
  15. Children who like raw carrots and sugar snap peas. I can make anything a “complete” meal by tossing some raw carrots on the plate.
  16. A great, reasonably priced babysitter. No, you can’t have her number—I might need her!
  17. The public library. Free books, videos, and music, story times, and more.
  18. Hair detangling spray. I doubt we’d ever make it to school without it.
  19. Microwaves. I know people once lived without them, I just don’t know how.
  20. Princess’s smile. When she smiles, it’s not just her mouth—she smiles with here entire face, and her eyes light up.  You can’t be in a bad mood when she smiles.

For those of you celebrating, I hope that you have a wonderful, busy, Thanksgiving filled with family that drives you crazy and too many carbs.  If you were making your “Mommy” list, what would you include that I left out?


Linda Kennard

Fourteen years ago, Jay stood in a cardboard box swinging her arms and singing, “One turkey! That’s all I need!” In that moment, I sat across from her smiling at her made-up lyrics; in this moment, I sit next to her, helping where I can on her college applications. Jay is growing up, and the weight of my worries about her is growing in proportion to her age.

On the 4th of July 1993, I was pregnant but didn’t know it. As luck would have it, I partied that night like I’d never partied before, downing straight-grain alcohol from a watermelon on the shores of Lake Powell. When I later saw the plus sign, I spent eight months worrying that I’d damaged my baby. Then Jay was born, perfect, and one worry went away.

In pre-school, Jay was sometimes non-responsive, so her teacher expressed concerns about Jay’s hearing. I took Jay to the doctor for tests, and he found her hearing to be normal. Jay, I learned, has “selective” hearing, so this issue (while sometimes annoying) has not been an ongoing concern.

In the 7th grade, Jay had a crush on a boy and asked him to a dance. He stood up in class, and announced, “Can you believe that Jay asked me to the dance?” With those words, he successfully humiliated her and continued for weeks to bully her. Over time, Jay withstood the teasing, grew stronger and more confident, and that heart-aching worry evaporated.

When Jay was 15, we had a communication meltdown one weekend, and she ended up at an overnight concert in the middle of the desert, miles away from a paved road and further away from a cell phone tower. When I couldn’t reach her, I was sick. My worries that night were more frightening than any others I could recall. When she came home the next day, BigG and I talked to her, clarifying our expectations and her responsibilities, and Jay hasn’t been much of a worry since.

But Jay is leaving for college next year, and my own history makes me anxious about what’s coming up. (Read more…)

My Confession

Becca Sanders

My name is Becca, and I drive a minivan.

(Hi, Becca!)

My journey toward the inevitable mom-mobile began six years ago. We bought a house on a hill, a shingled cottage with window boxes and a curved front door that we call the Hobbit door. I loved that little house and on that beautiful hill until winter came — with its ice and snow — and my idyll was shattered: there was no way I could get up that damned hill without four-wheel drive.

Several times I wedged our spunky little red Corolla at the bottom of the driveway and had to rely on husband J. and a team of neighbor men bearing snow shovels to come to my rescue. (I think they kind of liked it.)

We sold the Toyota to a hill-less friend and I bought a tangerine-colored Honda Element. the boxiness of it that appealed to me. It was funky yet practical and so ugly it was cute, like a bulldog or Keen shoes.

Not long after, J.’s car — a thirteen-year old Subaru wagon with a gerjillion miles on it — began its death throes. The “check engine” light wouldn’t go out. Blue smoke roiled from the exhaust. The sides were rusting away.  Filling up the tank felt like an iffy investment.

We knew we wanted a third-row seat, and we narrowed it down to two possibilities before we embarked on our car-shopping day. Our first choice was a — well, I won’t say. But it was a great car. It was (like the Element)  boxy, a little quirky yet “nicely appointed.” There was nothing wrong with it, except  the third-row seat.

To access it, one must collapse the second-row seat upon itself, slide it forward, then climb awkwardly over it, landing with a relieved “OOF!” onto the third seat. (Read more…)

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This Weeks Tip

You would think at our age that we wouldn’t have to worry about these things. But, as Kate will attest, even at *ahem* 27, untimely breakouts can (and will) happen. What to do? Apply an ice cube for 30 second. Then soak a cotton ball in eye drops and press it to the “spot” for 3 minutes. The theory is that the ice and drop combination will cause blood vessels below the surface to contract—leaving you looking, well, a little less like Rudolph.