Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Productivity I Seek, Love I Have Found!

If you haven't made that New Years resolution yet, let me be the first to remind you that there are only 2 days left.

I'd like to say that I have something original up my sleeve, but the truth is, one resolution just isn't enough. In a nutshell, I guess my resolution this year is productivity.

While millions of people will spend January on treadmills, stationary bikes and crowded gyms; I will take pride in the fact that those 4 pounds I lost in August have taken refuge on someone else's thighs. And while it may have taken 4 whole months to loose just 4 pounds, it took only 4 minutes to engulf a whole cinnamon bun this morning. (Where's the fairness?) Needless to say, weight will not be at the top of my resolution list.

Many of you know me as Mommy Maestro; the woman who pops out essay after essay about the daily adventures of being a Mom. This blog has become home for some of the craziness that I experience every day. And although 2009 may have been a productive blog year, I failed to produce the book I've been working so hard to finish. Year 2010 is my goal to complete this project, and the many other's that have unfortunately been allowed to collect dust.

This year I will stay on track. The first three months I will work on the business I set up last year (I am half way there!) I will take my continuing education courses; and yes, maybe even loose the next four pounds.

Productivity comes in many forms, and I think some of us loose site at just how productive we really are. Sure, I thought I would have a book done by now. I thought I would be in a classroom teaching at some prestigious school. I thought there would be enough money in the bank for a rainy day. But here's what I've been really doing: "I've been a Mom!"

I've wiped floors,butts and noses. I've given up sleep so that I could watch a child breathe when they felt sick. I've walked, carpooled and been towed. I've searched high and low for a child's favorite toy only to find that it was in their bed the entire time. I've read stories, written stories, and reenacted stories. I have praised and I have scolded. I have taught one how to hold a fork, pencil and their tongue. I have laughed. I have cried. I have felt total exhaustion. I have known many feelings, but they all hold a close second to the one I get when the arms of my children are wrapped tightly around me.

Productivity I seek. Love I have Found!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fa La La La La......It's Over!

A month and a half of total hype, and it's finally over. That's right. I'm talking about Christmas.

Seems like I've been preparing for the day right after I carved that lovely Halloween pumpkin. And every year, it seems to begin just a little earlier. At the rate commercialism is going, I figure we'll be celebrating July 4th and Christmas together soon enough. Christmas in July will have a whole new meaning.

On a positive note I have to report that Christmas at the Brennan Ranch was near perfect. As usual, Toys R Us set up a satellite store right in the middle of our Living Room. As if we had room for all that stuff before the holiday arrived. Even with my consignment action plan in full swing, I failed to empty the house as quickly as it filled back to the brim Christmas Eve...Damn Claus!

Although Santa forgot the fruit cake and Figgy Pudding, he made up for that small lapse with a brand new Kindle. Oh Yes My Friends, despite my failed relationship with technology, the stars aligned, and the man in red, or shall I say the man with red hair (Hubby) contributed to the spirit of the holiday and satisfied Mommy's materialism. And although it is still in it's box next to the fireplace, I promise to report on this magnificent present by the end of next week.

It's always great when the kids appear to love everything they received on Christmas morning. It's even nicer when their parents love the toys just as much as the kids do.

I'm not bragging or anything, but let's just say there's a new Guitar Hero in town. Toy Story Mania for Wii also kept me busy for a while. Along with Leapster 2 and a amazing amount of stocking stuffers.

I did make one mistake however while choosing a present for Scooter. I purchased a Lego Winnebago from the Toys R Us online outlet thinking it would make a great stocking stuffer. Too bad I didn't read the dimensions. Needless to say, in between hitting flying targets and guitar riffs I was made to build an amazing double decker trailer equipped with sleeper, mugs, bike and surf board. It included 75 pieces and took the greater part of the entire day to complete. Imagine my face when the grandparents walked in with the Lego Fire Company (700 pieces). And you wonder why I dye my hair?

I'd like to mention one last present I received over the holidays. It was a Kreative Blogger Award from my friend at The Adventures of Fred and Ethel

Now, as some of you already know, I don't get caught up in the blogging awards. Although I find it flattering that there are people out there who actually spend their precious time reading my thoughts, it becomes quite time consuming to follow all the steps required by the award, and before you know it, another day has passed, writer cramp has set in, your popping Tums in record number because you haven't left the couch for a decent meal in hours, hence you have been forced to munch on those chocolates that expired sometime last month.

So, in an effort to add a few years to my life, I must keep my acceptance of awards to a minimum. But it comes with great gratitude to acknowledge this award. If you have not already stopped by The Adventures of Fred and Ethel, I insist you do so today.

I believe it was this wild woman who found me first (where, I do not know), but upon reading her blog I can honestly say it was love at first sight. Her honesty and well written material will have you addicted immediately. Not to mention her humor. I once read one of her blogs that she swears was entirely written by her cat (a truly talented family). A million and one thanks!

My Christmas is now complete!

Monday, December 21, 2009

When Hubby Holds The Remote

While the 50/50 rule may apply in my marriage, I think I would have to say that there are just those things in our home that belong exclusively to one of us.

Take for instance the television. Now while it may sit in our Living Room (a spot which is shared by the entire family); I can say with absolute certainty that the television belongs to Hubby.

It's been a year since we purchased "Freddy Krueger" (the nickname I gave to the oversized scary appliance that's disguised as a television). With it's many remotes, endless assortment of channels and surround sound; it makes a girl wish for the days when one had to turn a dial and rely on clear weather for good reception.

Since the installation of "Freddy," an influx of reality TV has been previewed on the Brennan Ranch. So much reality TV is viewed in fact, that at times it's difficult to decipher reality from fiction in our home.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a little reality TV. It's just that since the first installment of Survivor, everything is reality. Unless your willing to watch an entire day of Lifetime Originals (which by the way is based on real stories), you're out of luck.

I literally cringe when the remote is in Hubby's hands, for I know another segment of reality TV will find its way into our living room.

As I sit and write this blog, Hubby sits just 10 feet away watching Pawn Stars: a show about a family run pawn shop in Las Vegas.....Yawn! O.K. Maybe it's not that bad. There is a bit of humor, but the thought of someone making a show out of poor souls who can't pay their rent so they have to sell every valuable they have left really makes no sense to me.

But then there are the days when Cake Boss rules the air ways. Cake Boss follows the daily life of Buddy Valastro and his family owned bakery. There's never a dull moment in this show. If it's drama you're looking for, you'll fall in love with the family. If it's unusual cakes you're looking for, you'll fall in love with Buddy. If it's a happy husband you're looking for: Google recliner.

Ahh, but reality TV would not be complete without some of the best moments in television this year found on some of Hubby's favorites: Parking Wars, Dirty Jobs, Deadliest Catch, and last but not least: Jon and Kate Plus Eight (A reality trapped inside a reality).

In the last 12 months I've learned how to talk myself out of a ticket; how to clean a Port A Potty; how to distinguish between a male and female crab; and last but not least: how to make a million dollars on a book deal and hide it all from my husband.

Who says all reality TV is pointless?

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Fire In The Hole!"

I don't claim to be Paula Dean. For that matter, I am no Julia Child or even a Sara Lee.

I microwave with shear precision. I can reheat a dish like no one's business. I have mastered the art of kilowatts, which in layman's terms comes down to knowing the difference between High and Low heat.

If there was such thing as the Microwave Queen, well, my dear friends, I would have earned my crown years ago.

Despite this fascination I hold with appliances that cook food in the blink of an eye, every now and then I turn to that square piece of steel for added support....the oven.

It was another simple night of fast food at the Brennan Ranch: spaghetti and meatballs with a side of garlic bread. "What could go wrong?"

I had cooked this dish many times before. I generally heat the water and the sauce on the stove. I defrost the mini meatballs in the microwave (sometimes they are made from scratch, but only on the weekends). I dump the meatballs in the sauce, and the spaghetti in the boiling water. Once the oven is preheated, I place the garlic bread on broil.

I stir, sniff, then taste every minute or so until things are just right.

But sometimes, despite your greatest efforts, every minute or so is just not enough. Every minute or so can be the difference between a tasty cuisine and a charcoal brick.

One minute I was starring at a delicious loaf of garlic bread; the next minute I was starring at a fire ball.

It's amazing at how quickly these things can happen. I was looking so forward to a nice meal, even if it wasn't made from scratch.

I quickly removed the flaming pan from the oven, chucked it into the sink and blew it down with a stream of water. What began as a loving family meal ended in a mushy burnt mess.

And just when you think you've destroyed the meal for the night, out of the corner of your eye you catch your children nibbling on that fantastic dish.

They're field mice I tell you! You can't get a vegetable in them, but serve a loaf of charcoal, and it's a feast!

I savor these moments because I know that I will most certainly burn more meals. But there will come a time in my children's lives when they realize that charcoal belongs in the bottom of a grill; not in their diet.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Naughty or Nice?

Let's face it, we all have rules. The rules we have for our children may be based on safety, love or just passed down through the generations. Sometimes we don't even know who made the rule; it's just that it seemed smart at the time.

With all the hustle and bustle of the season, I have suddenly noticed an influx of rules around the Brennan Ranch. Maybe because there is so much extra stuff laying around that we are forced to keep our children in some kind of holiday bubble just until the last key of Auld Lang Syne is sung.

For whatever the reason, here are just a few of the newest antidotes quoted by Mommy Maestro:

1) "I told you to put on your socks, not your Christmas stockings. Good luck on trying to get your sneaker over those things!"

2) "I'm sure there are wiser places to stick that candy cane than in your nostril!"

3) "It's a train track, not a race track. Thank you very much Mario Andretti!"

4) "They're called Christmas lights, not strobe lights. Kindly remove your fingers from the receptacle."

5)"Go ahead, I dare you to ring those bells again. I'll make wings myself for that damn angel!"

6) "You have how many kids in your class? All right, candy canes for everyone!"

7) "The dog is not a reindeer. I repeat, the dog is not a reindeer!"

8) "Yes, hot coco is hot. If you wanted it cold, could you kindly next time request a glass of chocolate milk?"

9) "No, we can not buy a reindeer, we have a dog. You may remember me already warning you that she is not a reindeer."

10) "If you have any plans of climbing a tree this holiday season, you better check for roots first!"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

By the Chimney With Care?

So I found this great Toy Store in my area. A little higher priced than that Big Boxed Famous Giraffe Toting ("Sorry Mame, we're out of Zulu Pets") one you may have heard of.

There are no carts, so you don't have to worry about banging into Ms. Gotta Have The Last Star Wars Figure. In fact, they don't even sell things like that.

The toys you find here are the ones you play with (I mean the kids play with) for hours. These aren't the toys you find stuffed at the back of closets. No sir!

These are the toys your children beg you to bring to Show and Tell their first day back from Christmas Vacation (despite it's net weight being heavier than said child). These are the toys that show up in every picture ever taken of your children whether it be in their hand, or in close proximity, making a really cool backdrop for the holidays.

So there I was salivating at the front of the store wondering where was this diamond in the ruff when I was a child. I quickly tried to regain composure. "Must buy stocking stuffers," was my mantra. "What a cool magic set," I thought aloud. Wait, no, "Must buy stocking stuffers!"

This is a dangerous store. I should have gone in with horse blinders. And within minutes, I was back on track. And within a few minutes more, I was wishing my children's stockings were much larger than the standard Santa regulated size. "Why couldn't they be more like pillowcases?" I mean honestly, Martha Stewart knew what she was doing: standard, Queen, King, Super King, California King. Does she even know that California isn't the largest state? If I were to get to be a kid again, I would definitely invent the Alaskan King Stocking.

As I began loading my basket with the coolest trinkets known to man it got me thinking about the things Santa left in my stocking as a child: toothbrush, shampoo, perfume, nail polish.

No wonder I have a complex. Was Santa trying to convey a message? "Hey kid, take a bath!" "Here's a few things to get you started."

I finally made it to the checkout in just under 30 minutes. Not too bad I thought. And then I received the result.

"That will be $120.00 today!"

"Are you serious?" I asked. "I only bought stocking stuffers! Did you get that coupon I handed you? Can I have a recount? I only have 2 children!"

She just smiled, and reached for my credit card.

Well, that mantra worked like a charm. Next years mantra will be better: "Save Money On Stocking Stuffers.....Insert Foot!"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Zumba Stole My Soul

I love trying new things. I say this in reference to experiences.

So there I was in the gym the other day looking over the class schedule.

Now mind you, although I joined this awesome gym back in August, I have yet to take a class.

Why? you ask. Well, it's like this....children!

As most Mommies know, when it comes to scheduling your day, it's a crap shoot. Let's face it, if something doesn't spill at the breakfast table, your day is off to a good start. If you make it out the door without someone declaring they have to pee; they already peed in their pants; or something is stuck in their zipper (and it's not a shirt); you have in essence had a miracle bestowed upon you.

So when Hubby told me he was taking off on Monday, I jumped at the chance to become Jane Fonda for a day.

Since I've always loved to dance, I decided to give the Zumba Class a try. Set to Latin music, this class combines dance and exercise for an hour of exciting caloric burn.

"Did I just say that out loud?"

What I can tell you is despite what you may have been able to do with your body when you were young- things change!

So there I was in the middle of the studio surrounded by women twice my age, who thought it would be nice to share their stories about how hot flashes work, and how 2 out of 10 were experiencing one that very moment.

"Good Lord, I thought. "Someone call 911!"

I'm trained in CPR, but I really had no plans of testing out those skills during Zumba.

Well, as the story goes: "Never judge a book by it's cover."

I don't know what supplements these ladies take every morning, but sadly I have to report that they were in better shape than myself. I've never seen anything like it in my life since the 80's when the movie Cocoon became a big hit.

I was stuck right in the middle of some cosmic geriatric conundrum. I watched as these older women swayed side to side demonstrating the Charleston with unfounded Super Powers, while I gasped for air with a load of kryptonite on my back.

When the girls informed me that Zumba is an hour long class rather than the 45 minutes I expected, I felt my heart skip a beat. Despite my CPR training, I had never learned to perform it on myself.

The words: "You did it ladies, you're done!" came none to soon. Suddenly angels were playing harps, and I regained consciousness.

I received many pats on the back from the troops who watched in amazement my stunning finish. I'm sure they each secretly called Vegas and placed bets on whether that finish would really occur.

And so, I have just six days to recover before I do it all again.

"What you ask, why would I do such a thing?"

Well it's like this...children!"

If this class gives me the energy that some of those other women have; I should have this Mommy thing down in oh, 18 years.

"Zumba, you stole my soul, but not my spirit!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If Everyone Could be Pet....Smart!

Funny story: Just yesterday I was sitting down petting my dog Harley. I began talking to her like any good owner does. I asked her how she was feeling and what she wants for Christmas.

Now, you can act like that's all crazy; but seriously, I know you do it too. I continued to tell her how I had to get her groomed again soon. I love picking Harley up from the groomer. Her coat shines, she smells so wonderful (for about 24 hours, then reverts back to Doggy Scent), and if I'm lucky, the groomer finds some cute ribbons to place in her hair.

As I continued my vision of Doggy Utopia, the phone rang. I quickly looked at the caller ID which read: Pet Smart. That's odd I thought. I usually call them.

As I picked up the phone, I heard a friendly voice on the other end: "Hi, this is Julie, we we're wondering if you would like to make an appointment for Harley for her Holiday Grooming?"

"Holy Crap," I thought. Who is this Julie girl? Apparently some medium who sucks the thoughts from unsuspecting housewives. Frightened as I was, I quickly made an appointment with Julie. I began to tell her that I was just talking to my dog about how she needed a grooming. As the words left my mouth, I realized how ridiculous I sounded. Julie politely laughed, but I know what she was thinking: "If I have to call one more crazy person this season, I'm throwing in the towel."

After I hung up, I began to think about that strange coincidence....or was it? Maybe I need to talk out loud more often. Maybe I should just share my thoughts with my dog? What could it hurt? And so I began:

"So Harley, do you think Hubby will get me that Kindle this Christmas?"

Quickly I ran to the phone searching for the words Amazon.com on my caller I.D.

But aside from the word Pet Smart, it remained blank.

"Would I stop there, oh, probably not."

I continued talking aloud about other items that needed to be bought and/or repaired:

"So tired of the automatic doors opening by themselves on my car."

"Wish the food would actually rinse off while in the dishwasher."

"My house looks like crap, but boy does my Home Page shine."

"The account can't be empty, I still have checks left."

I checked the caller I.D. once more:

Mercedes Benz? (Nope)

Maytag? (Nope)

Merry Maids? (Nope)

Publisher's Clearinghouse? (Not a chance)

And so I must face the harsh reality: There is a difference in going to Pet Smart, and being Pet....Smart!

The phone did ring again that night, but you know the saying: "If it's not one thing, it's your Mother!"