Thursday, April 30, 2009

To worry, or not to worry... that is the question.

Should I worry about the Swine Flu? Everywhere I look tells me I should be afraid. The TV, internet homepage, newspapers - all the headlines are the same. Epidemic. Pandemic. The destruction of humanity as we know it. I don't know what to think, but I have been trying my best not to worry, and now I am afraid that my worry is imminent. As imminent as the destruction of mankind by the Swine Flu.

Didn't we freak out like this about SARS a few years ago? And what about the Bird Flu? West Nile Virus? Every couple of years, it's something new. Something I am supposed to be very afraid about and could possibly kill me and my entire household. And I am really just freaking tired of it.

It is enough to push someone right over the edge of insanity, I tell you. Makes you not want to be in a crowd of people at all. Just two weeks ago, as I sat in the American Family Care with David on a Sunday morning, I listened to the coughs of all the sick folks in there. I remember thinking I hoped we didn't walk away with something much worse than what we arrived with. Little did I know the possibility then - it wasn't until a few days ago that I caught wind of all this Swine Flu hype.

Anyway - I am still trying to not allow myself to be freaked out by this pandemic. In other words, I will have to cut off all ties with the outside world. No TV. No internet. No nothing. (And yes, dear friends, I am aware that's a double negative. I am using creative licence here.) I am considering a gas mask - screw those paper surgical style masks. I want the real deal that will protect me in a nuclear attack or flu epidemic. Might as well cover all my bases.

In the mean time, I am going to go cut the grass in my back yard. This is also a good protection mechanism as the more time I spend exposing my body to outdoor allergens, the more swollen the inside of my nose gets. And the more swollen the inside of my nose gets, the less likely for any virus, Swine Flu included, to actually make its way into my mucous membranes. Just a thought.

Happy worrying, everyone!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Little Klepto

On Thursday, I found a little McDonald's Happy Meal toy in Madalyn's backpack. Knowing full well that I had thrown away all McDonald's Happy Meal toys in my house months ago, it couldn't be hers. Besides, I had never seen this one before. It looked kinda retro - it was a little sail boat with a Ronald McDonald in it, and I really can't recall ever seeing one quite like this. When asked about said toy, Madalyn told me it belonged to Pey-Pey, one of her classmates at preschool. So I went into my mommy teaching mode all about how we don't take things that don't belong to us and we should return it on Tuesday when we return to school. I put it in the outside pocket of her backpack, and I really didn't think anything else about it.

Until this morning.

I opened Madalyn's backpack to put her snack and lunch in and found yet another item that does not belong to anyone in my household. This time, the little thief took a door off her teacher's Little People house in the classroom. The door. What use she thought she would have from this item, I have no idea. But it just sealed my acknowledgement that she doesn't really listen to me nor care about what I have to say. My mommy speech from Thursday didn't sink in at all.

I put both stolen items into a brown paper bag and told Madalyn she would have to carry in the bag and return both items to their owners. I repeated the speech about taking things that don't belong to us, and I informed her that if I found another item in her backpack that did not belong to her, she would not be allowed to watch TV for one whole day.

Does anyone remember being spanked as a child and your parent saying, "This will hurt me more than it will hurt you." I used to call BS on this point, but this no TV for one day thing is definitely a punishment that would hurt me more than Madalyn. Because, as much as it might embarrass me to admit it, I don't know if Madalyn and I could make it through a day with no TV. I mean, the TV has become such a buffer for me. It is the only thing that drags her away from me for a solitary minute when she is home.

I really hope Madalyn doesn't steal anything else. Really.

I know it isn't a big deal, but I have to take the opportunity to teach her now when it's little. I certainly don't want to come home from Belk with a shirt stuffed down into her little purse. Why is being a parent just so exhausting? Just like the other day, I was trying to explain the word hell to David - how sometimes, it's a place, and other times, certain people use it in a derogatory manner, but it isn't a terrible word, rather it just doesn't sound nice. I need to make a chart of words and divide them into classifications - these are the not nice words, these are the bad words, and these are the words I better not ever hear you say though I have said them but not in front of my parents. AGHHHHHH!!! I ended the whole word conversation with this statement: "David, I don't really know how to explain this to you other than to tell you that it's not so much the word itself, rather how it's used. When you get older, you will better understand." So basically, I am just confusing the hell out of my kid. See - I just used the word myself. But not in front of him.

Anyways - it's just a crazy mixed up deal trying to be a parent in a world where on the radio the words damn and hell are just as common as is and the. And the songs that have the catchiest tunes talk about drinking at the club and spending money on a stripper. David will ask for certain songs to be on his MP3 player, and when I refuse, he doesn't understand why. And I just have to tell him that one day he'll understand. One day - when these words and thoughts and ideas are constantly being thrown at your kids. Or your kid comes home with a door to a Little People house in their backpack.

I know that these are the easy days, because I know things will only get more difficult the older they get. But sometimes I feel like I can barely make it through these easy days. Oh, me. Exhausting, I tell you. Exhausting.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Alone with my thoughts

Being alone with your thoughts is sometimes a strange place to be. At least it is when you are inside my head. I can only vouch for myself on this one...

Today, I headed out for a walk (it's all a part of my de-stress myself plan - eating better and exercising more). I got Buddy all ready and leashed up and headed out the gate before realizing I didn't have my MP3 player. It's loaded up with any and all kinds of music - current pop hits, older country stuff, rock hits from the 80's and 90's, and contemporary Christian to boot. I do have some more questionable booty tunes on there as well, but I won't get into that right now. Anywho - I didn't want to turn back, and I quickly remembered that I used to walk without music like ALL THE TIME before I became technologically savvy and purchased said handy-dandy MP3 player. In other words, who needs music to burn calories?

So there I was, walking, hearing nothing in my ear except the birds and the breeze and the hum of the lawn mowers. And I must admit, it was rather pleasant.

Some observations from today:

What kind of animal would poop on the sidewalk? Not in the grass or the mulch of a flower bed, but right on the concrete sidewalk. I have wondered this for at least four years since walking in my neighborhood. It is only in one small area of the neighborhood, so it leads me to believe it could be some one's pet. But the overall appearance of the evidence is unlike anything I have ever seen before. And I have just never known a dog or cat to poop on the concrete. It must be some sort of critter. I am perplexed every time I see it, and this really captivated my mind today. So, without music in my ears, I think abut what animal poops on the sidewalk.

I really feel sorry for the fiance of the Craig's List Killer. I can't remember his name, and it really doesn't matter. But I really wish I knew her name so I could pray for her by name every day. She is suffering greatly right now; her whole world has been torn apart and turned upside down. I know how that feels - to find out that someone you love and who claims to love you isn't who you thought they were at all. And that's a very painful reality. I just kept thinking about her and wondering how she was doing.

Why are they painting the sign posts brown? All the signs and mailboxes and light posts in our neighborhood are black cast iron. Now four of them have been sanded and painted brown. I saw two workmen sanding them yesterday. Surely they aren't painting them all brown; surely the brown is some sort of primer to block the rust from bleeding through. I am not huge on matching colors - Scott will sometimes wear black shoes with a brown belt, and I have certainly been known to not switch out a purse just for the sake of matching. But this was really disturbing to me today as I walked. The brown poles stuck out like a pink flamingo would in the grass, and I honestly hope this was not approved by the home owner's association. If so, I want a recount of the votes because there must be some mistake.

Okay - so I just gave the world (well, the handful in the world that read this blog) a glimpse into the mind of me. Scary, isn't it?

And for the record, the song that was stuck in my mind today during my walk - that has been stuck in my head for the past two weeks, really - is "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus. Or is it Hannah Montana? Oh, I don't know which ego gets credit for the hit, but we (being me and Madalyn) are off to see the movie tomorrow. So I'll be sure to give a review.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Econimic Crisis

This country is an a strange and trying time. Everywhere I look, I see signs of struggle. Just yesterday, I set out for a walk - you know, a de-stress yourself kind of walk. Not four houses down from where I live, I saw the gas man ringing the bell of a neighbor. I think we all know why he was there, and it wasn't to ask them if they had been pleased with their natural gas service for the past several months or if there was anything they could do to better please them. People are struggling. All types of people. People I have always considered to be lower class are struggling even more than they were before. Single mothers. The wealthiest of the wealthy are fighting to keep their jobs or struggling to find another at half the salary they were accustomed to making.

These are trying times. Perhaps the most trying my generation will ever live through. Perhaps times my grandchildren will read about one day in their textbooks and ask me questions about.

Just now, as I logged onto my computer and my homepage popped up, my eye was drawn to this headline. It's a story that has been heard all too often in recent months - a relatively young, successful man doing something so incredibly drastic because of the strain of these desperate times. This particular story focuses on a suicide. Does anyone remember the man that jumped out of the airplane over Alabama in an attempt to fake his own death to avoid the circumstances of his business and personal life? All around us, people are hurting, are afraid, are uncertain of tomorrow or even tonight. Marriages are failing. Children are losing their parents. So many are out of a job or without a home - or both.

I don't really have a purpose for this post. I think it's more or less therapeutic for me. I often try to look around me when I am stressed and see those that are struggling more than me so I can remind myself of my blessings. Because I do have many blessings. So, so many. I just wonder, today, as I sit here and type, how many people are out there hurting and scared to the point that they are considering taking their own life. It really humbles me and challenges me to look at the difficult times in a different way. And it reminds me to pray for all of those out there who are facing desperate times, no matter what the cause may be.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Loaded Question

I am not a huge fan of pageants. When I was younger and still in my parents' home, My mom an I would pile into her bed and watch the national pageants. Miss USA. Miss Teen USA. Miss Universe. I would dream of a day when I would look like a pageant girl - tall, skinny, big boobs, the perfect tan, and long blond hair. It didn't take me long to realize that I would never have all those attributes no matter how hard I wished or willed them. I abandoned the watching of pageants as I've gotten older, unless it was the only thing Scott and I found amusing on the 200 channels we pay to watch.

This year, it didn't matter if we found it amusing or not. Our channels were dominated by severe weather coverage - tornado warning after tornado warning. And all the Blairs were glued to weather. I mean, if we are going to be swept away by an F2, we want to know it's coming. Anywho - we missed the Miss USA pageant in all its glory and loaded questions.

This morning, Miss California was on the Today Show to discuss her answer to the question (and I paraphrase here), "How do you feel about the legalization of same sex marriage?" The question was posed by the ever-amusing Perez Hilton. I'd like to say I don't know who he is, but I do know. I have visited his website and read his star gossip and honestly found it to be mainly cruel and incredibly similar to the things eleven-year-old little girls do and say in the play ground during recess. Captions over photos. Pure mean-ness. But I guess there's a certain demographic that finds him entertaining - even so much that he had a brief stint at his own show on VH1. I never watched it personally, but I remember seeing the commercials for it while I watched my trashy reality shows. In other words, Perez Hilton has a segment of the country that follows him, and, for some reason, he was selected as a judge for the Miss USA pageant.

Apparently the same segment of the population that actually pays attention to people like Perez Hilton were also offended by the fact that Miss California stated that marriage should be an institution between a man and a woman.

That's funny. I hold that opinion as well. And, I would think if 100 people were polled and asked the same question, one would find that about 85 out of those hundred would agree. I would like to believe that even in our crazy times that the majority of Americans believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Even Barack Obama, as liberal as we know him to be, had to concede during one of the debates last fall that he believed in the traditional definition of marriage. Is this scandalous - this traditional definition of marriage? Is it new? Different? Crazy? Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the very first book of the Bible, don't we get into the relationship between man and woman? Wasn't woman made for man? Not man for man, or woman for woman. Seems pretty simple to me. Call me crazy, but I will agree with Miss California on this one.

And the biggest irony is that she's from California - the state in our country that prides themselves on being so liberal.

Mr. Hilton was also on the Today Show this morning to discuss his side of the controversy. In his opinion, Miss USA is selected to represent us all - straight, gay, Christian, and atheist. He feels like she should have left her personal political or Christian views out of the answer of the question. But if she left her personal (or dare I say Biblical) beliefs out of her answer, what would be the point in asking the question at all? Have we sunk to this level in America that everything we say has to be guarded and hidden in smoke? Can we not answer questions as we really feel and believe? I mean, we are all protected by the right to free speech. All of us - gay, atheist, and even Christians.

When asked by Matt this morning if she regretted her answer at all, she answered a firm, "No." That she had answered the question honestly, and obviously that God didn't intend for her to win the crown that night. It just wasn't in His plan.

I am amazed at her maturity and poise. I wonder what I would do if in the same situation. No - not if I was tall and beautiful and blond, but if I were asked in front of millions and the likes of Perez Hilton, who gets his kicks off of stirring up unnecessary controversy and saying hurtful things about others, a question that challenged my beliefs. Would I have the courage to stand up for what I believe in, or would I cower down?

Huge lesson for all of America - tolerance and love are one thing. But when it comes down to it, you must always follow your beliefs, no matter how unpopular that decision may seem to the few who disagree. There is still more good in this world than evil - I do believe it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Busy, Busy Lately

I've just been busy lately. Not with anything fun or important, but just busy. The everyday. Baseball. A little jewelry party at my house. And the laundry... goodness gracious, the laundry! I don't know where it all comes from here lately, but we seem to produce so much more dirty laundry than ever before. Basically, I stay so busy, but at the end of the day, my list is never all crossed off, nor do I feel I have done anything at all. And I'm just exhausted.

I haven't really done anything proactive to help how I feel, either. I'm not eating well. I'm drinking too much. I haven't exercised in I don't know how long. I really need to get a handle on myself and start making some changes in my life to help cope with stress. I know the media is reporting that car sales are up, but they really aren't. We hope that we are at the bottom of the low here with sales and repossessions. What most people don't understand about finance managers in the car business is that they not only get paid for deals done in a month's time but are also charged back the interest and warranty fees for any cars repossessed. So right now, when sales are already down and getting someone approved for a loan is incredibly difficult, our pay check is vastly effected by the immense number of people defaulting on their car loans. This combination has made for the most financially stressful times of my life. And though I try really hard not to allow that stress to show, it's still there. The stress sits right atop my shoulders all day long, day after day. And I feel so helpless to it. I know it's just an earthly stress. I know that in twenty years it will be irrelevant. But right now, it's here staring me in the face every second of the day.

So today I want to start fresh. In fact, I want to try to start fresh and cleansed every day. That's something I have always struggled to do - beginning each day fresh and new. But that's what the morning is, right? A new beginning. A fresh chance to do what I need to do for myself and my family. And the night is the opportunity to refresh. I just need to take better care of myself, and I believe this simple act alone will make me feel better. There's no need to overdose myself with carbs or alcohol - this doesn't make any of life's problems any easier to deal with. I just need to start making better decisions all day long with the food I eat, the decisions I make, and the thoughts I allow to dominate my mind. Out with the worry and in with the peace of God. Out with the bad foods that completely drain my energy and in with fresh foods that provide the energy I need. You get the drill.

So, today, I have my little man home with me today. Saturday evening, he began running a fever and had a horrible headache. Then he yacked. And then Sunday morning, he yacked again. I know this doesn't sound like strep to you or anyone else in the world, but this is what he does every single time he gets it. So I took him to the American Family Care yesterday morning, and though the strep test was negative, the doctor treated like it was positive because of the way his tonsils looked. So we are all home today - sick, but not really sick. Hopefully the kids won't kill each other. Hopefully I won't kill both the kids. And hopefully I can find some time to get my old yoga/pilates dvd out to have some healthy, relaxation time today. And manage to tackle that pile of laundry from the weekend. And get things straightened up a little around the house. And get the pool vacuumed. And run to the drug store.

Deep breath in. In with the good - out with the bad.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A boy obsessed...

My son is obsessed with multiplication. Yes - as in math. As in "four times two equals eight." I don't know when or how it started, but it has just in the past few days reached an all time high. He is asking me all these questions at the most random times during the day. Having not really used multiplication that often in the past eight years - not a whole lot of math needed to do laundry and vacuum, you know - I am not so quick on my feet.

"Mama - is nine times eight 64?"
"Wait - wait a minute. Nine times eight is... ummmm... oh, it's 72!! It's 72!"

I am just as excited to know that I can still figure out the answers as David is to discover that he has actually gotten one out of ten correct. Ridiculous.

I keep telling him that he needs to perfect addition and subtraction before branching out into multiplication. I don't remember doing multiplication in the second grade. I thought that was more fourth grade or at least the end of the third. But, granted, when I learned multiplication, things were a little different. That was back when you asked someone to roll down the window, they actually had to roll it down, not just press a button. Those were the days when you wanted to watch a movie, you actually had to get dressed and go to the theater. And for the most part, unless your family was extremely technologically savvy, you had to get up to change the channel on the TV. So, I would assume that even math has changed. Well, I know it's changed as I was the one who had to teach my son how to add two digit numbers together and explain to him that I knew no other way to do it than to carry the one. David swore he wasn't supposed to do it that way, but I assured him that it's the way it had been done for so long now that there couldn't be too much wrong with it. If they want them to do it differently now, they should teach the parents first.

Anyway - David came home yesterday from school talking about I didn't really believe that it was a real website until we looked it up. David believes you just put a .com behind any word or phrase and it makes a website. I have had to explain over and over again that it just isn't so, and we've gone round and round about him not Googling to find such websites. If you had asked me twenty years ago what I'd be arguing with my seven-year-old son about, I would have never said, "Googling." None the less, the website is really cool, and you can find it by filling in the exact web address David gave me - It's just that simple.

Still - second grade and learning multiplication. David is still incredibly slow with simple addition and subtraction. Are we not filling the brain too quickly? Does this mean I will have to use my brain more and more everyday? Will these math quizzes for mom never stop?

I think I had better brush up on my skills. Or, I should just find a calculator small enough to fit in any pocket so I can quickly check my brain's answers. Oh, there is a day coming all too quickly that my child will officially become much smarter than me - with math, anyways.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

For Me, It Was...

Here's a great thing about Easter Sunday - even the Blair's can manage to make it to church on this most sacred day. I was born ridiculously honest, so I make it no secret to anyone that we struggle with going to church for various reasons. But I can only think of two Easter Sundays in my life that I haven't made to church - one was when Madalyn had the flu two years ago, and the other was a more personal intestinal issue I had and won't get into right now, no matter how honest and forthcoming I tend to be.

There seemed to be a running theme this Sunday with the service. A video was played where several people talked about when they were saved, and all through the service, various members of the praise team and band gave their date. They all said the following: "For me, it was..." They each inserted the month and year they accepted Jesus as their Savior. So it got me to thinking about when I was baptized.

For me, it was - well, I don't remember the month or the year. I just remember I was seven. I can remember that because I first told my dad I wanted to be baptized when I was six. He asked me a few questions and quickly told me I was too young. And I was too young indeed. Then a year later, I asked again. So my father obliged my desire to become a follower of Jesus. I think I still have the card I passed to the preacher when I walked down the aisle that night. It simply said that I wanted to be baptized and that I wanted my father to be the one to baptize me. My most striking memory about the event was that I wore my undies in the baptismal, and afterwords thought the whole world could tell I didn't have any on underneath my dress.

Probably, if your most striking memory of your baptism is that you didn't have any panties on under your dress afterwards, you were too young to understand the depth of the act in which you just participated. I didn't have a clue what it really meant. I just remember being completely terrified of going to hell as a child - completely terrified. And in my mind, baptism was the one act that could most certainly save me. If only it were that simple.

I had no idea the road that lied ahead - the mistakes, the wrong turns, the blatant disobedience. I was still completely innocent at the age of seven. I am sure I never dreamed I would taste a sip of a beer much less get drunk. I never dreamed I would be confronted with drugs. I never dreamed I would be disrespected and violated by men who claimed to care about me. I just never dreamed about what life would really be like - to me, it was so simple. I'll be baptized and just be a Christian. It was such a black and white existence then. So when did all the grey seep in?

Who knows where it started - the spiritual battle within. Good versus evil. Right versus wrong. But it is clear to me now as I look back at the decision I made some 25 years ago that I had no idea what it meant or what it would take to be a child of God. And I still don't. But I am trying. Maybe some days better than others. Maybe my life doesn't look like another's journey. Maybe it's not that pretty and still uncertain. But it's mine. All the twists and turns and screw ups. Every last detail is mine. And I only hope that one day all these parts will come together and make perfect sense.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Back and Forth

This weekend, we traveled back and forth to Cullman three days in a row to play baseball. Four games in three days. So that's approximately six hours in the car for about three hours of baseball. Sounds crazy when I spell it all out like that, doesn't it? But you know what... I would travel to the ends of the earth to watch my little man play baseball. Anywhere. Anytime.

Friday night, we played a local team with several boys we have played with in our city league. David was struggling at the plate his first two times at bat, popping up once for an easy out and then thrown out at first the other time. When he took his place on deck for the third attempt, I told him to hit it for me.

"Relax, David... hit this one for your Mama!"

And so he did. He sailed it into left field, brought in two runs, and managed to cross the plate himself. I believe it's the fastest I have ever seen him run in his little life. As he touched the plate and came running back toward the dugout, the smile that was spread across the entire width of his face was worth a fifteen hour drive to play.

It was an amazing weekend of baseball. David made some great stops at first base. Our little Bandits finally got their first real double play. They have been working so hard on it, and all these boys wanted to pull it off so bad! And they did... it was amazing! Our second baseman made a great stop, touched his bag, and threw the ball to David at first for the out. You would have thought we had won the World Series the way we all cheered for our little men. It's just such a joy to watch these boys play with such heart and pride. So pure - the joy, the effort, the pain of loss - everything in the purest state. The lessons they are learning on that field - digging in your heels and fighting, composure under pressure, encouraging your team mates. These are all lessons they will carry throughout their lives. Some of these boys will be friends for life and bonded through their experiences. It's just been such an amazing opportunity to be on this team with such talented boys and great parents. Every hour spent in the car is worth it to see those smiling faces and red clay spread on their pants.

My ride home yesterday was fretful, however. I knew I had to have a talk with my stellar baseball player when I got home about his performance off the field. He is learning new words at a rapid pace these days and was overheard by another parent trying to teach some little ones a new word - the "bad word for butt" that "rhymes with Alaska." I was mortified. This is not his typical behavior (I don't think - I hope not), and I had to address it with him. He simply can't be teaching anyone bad words. What made it even worse was that this was just days after I heard him using a foul word with my own ears. I know it's just a part of growing up - learning new ways to express yourself, thinking things sound cool, not understanding why you hear certain words in our music on the radio but are not supposed to say them yourself. I know he is reaching a difficult age as he tries to sort through what he has been taught and what he sees in the outside world. And as I told him last night during my painful confrontation with him, I expect more from him. Maybe I haven't shown him enough through my own life that we should be better and different than those around us; I know I haven't, and it's a challenge I struggle with every day. To set myself apart from the rest of the world. To challenge myself to be a better person. What a humbling experience it is to be a parent and be constantly reminded of your responsibility to another human being. I owe these kids everything - discipline, love, example, honesty, righteousness. So as I handed down my punishment to David (no MP3 player, DS, PlayStation, computer time for two weeks - and running two extra laps around the field at each practice for the duration as well), I admonished myself inwardly. Maybe I do okay holding my tongue around my children, but I have not been the best light in their world. I am a light, just not nearly as bright as I could be.

So, like my little Bandits that practice so hard and work with such passion on the field, I will continue to work on my soul. More studying of God's word. More prayer. More self control. Every day working on a better me, and a better example for my children. Less spiritual back and forth.

Friday, April 3, 2009

WHY is there a whole banana in the bathroom trash can??

There are so many ongoing random questions that go on in any house with children. I would venture to say there are all different questions, but much the same. In my house it's questions like, "Why is (insert name of a particular food item) in the bathroom trash can?" or "Whose empty Publix soda can is this?" or "Who threw this perfectly good piece of half-eaten chocolate into the bathroom trash can?" You get the drill. These are the questions I find myself repeating day after day after day in my house, all the while knowing who and why and where, yet asking them anyway in hopes that these crazy children will wake up with some sense in between their ears and quit doing the things that aggravate the fire out of me. But they don't.

I don't know why my kids insist on throwing food items into the bathroom trash, but they do. And I don't know why I feel like I am the authority on what items belong in what particular trash can in the home, but I most certainly am. Food items just don't belong in my bathroom trash cans. I don't mind wrappers, but half-eaten bananas, Fruit Loops that Madalyn doesn't want to eat, spit out gum not wrapped in paper, Pop Tarts - these are things I don't like to find in the bathroom trash. My kids will bypass ten trash cans just to throw something away in the bathroom. I just don't get it. Both my kids had little trash cans in their room but lost their trash can holding privileges when I grew weary of cleaning food items out of the bottom. I have enough to do around here without having to worry myself with soaking a plastic trash can to remove the gooey inside of a chocolate Pop Tart.

I kid you not, yesterday I found an entire banana, uneaten, in the kids' bathroom trash can. I knew who the culprit was - definitely Madalyn for multiple reasons. David was at school, and the banana had clearly experienced trauma from a four-year-old trying to open it and not succeeding. So, instead of calling for Mama to help, she just threw it in the bathroom trash can. What a logical decision! So I found the banana and then I found myself saying these words aloud: "Why is there a whole banana in the bathroom trash can?"

The worst question to have to ask around here is, "Who threw away this perfectly good piece of chocolate?" It drives me insane, no matter what kind of chocolate it is. I bought two bags of York Peppermint Patties a couple of weeks ago thinking my kids didn't like them. Selfish, I know, but it's nice to have something in the house that they don't enjoy that you can savor for yourself. My kids quickly discovered that they do love the peppermint patties, and they also moved chairs to the high counter to reach them any time they felt the desire. I found countless half-eaten patties in the trash can, and I did not hesitate to explain to Madalyn that it is not right to throw away half-eaten food - especially dark chocolate covered peppermint fluff. I mean, times are tough, and she is piddling away a small guiltless pleasure. Is there nothing sacred to these children?

My kids probably throw away more food than they eat around here, and that is something that drives me up the wall, whether chocolate or not. Madalyn never hesitates to throw something away and tell me she has eaten it all. I hate to actually admit this, but I have retrieved a perfectly good sandwich from the trash can and made her eat it. In fact, I told her she would not be allowed to eat anything until she ate the sandwich. I am glad to report that she didn't die from the experience nor has she thrown away a whole sandwich since then. But that doesn't mean I won't find one next week - in the bathroom trash can, no doubt.

I have finally answered a burning question in my household - the one about the cat. Why was Millie - my dear, sweet, old-lady cat - eating from a torn hole in the bag of cat food? I have always kept her food on the top of her covered litter box. Always. But just the other morning, I witnessed her hesitation to jump on top of the box to eat. She just really didn't want to do it. So I politely moved her food down to the floor for her. Poor old lady. And I've been fussing at her for eating out of the bag - not that she really cares because she's a cat, but still, I was aggravated with her for no reason. So, mystery solved.

If only I could figure out the children as easily as I can figure out the animals.