He Sees Dorky People

Posted by ZenMom Sunday, September 19, 2010 Comments

Today the Little Stinker had a friend over to play.  There they were playing with Legos, catching moths and engaging in other boy-like endeavors when the friend made a profound statement.

"Your mom's not cool."

Truer words were never spoken. I passed cool a long time ago on my way to frumpy and fugly.  No big surprise, here.

But what did take me back was the fact that this enlightened phrase came from a four-year-old boy.  My other kids were at least seven or eight before they started noticing mom's fashion sense wasn't exactly trendy.  And they were probably nine or ten when they decided I was an embarrassment of epic proportions.

Kids are certainly growing up faster these days.  But four?  Don't you think that's a bit young?

When I look back, I've never been the popular type.  I was an all-out dork in elementary school, which morphed into a nerdy, smart kid in middle school, to a bit of a misfit in high school.  But my secret was tucked away safely -- along with my old school photos and yearbooks -- until I was exposed by a preschooler with the insight of that kid in Sixth Sense.

The gig is officially up.  I'm doomed to live the rest of my life as pitifully uncool.  Very sad. Very sad.

I think I'll need a trip to the mall to cheer me up.

Touching up my image,

P.S.  Mr. Shyamalan, if you happen to be reading...your career can use a good boost and this kid's got a real gift.  You may want to check him out.

I Drive, Therefore I Am

Posted by ZenMom Tuesday, September 14, 2010 Comments

Colorado is not a small state.  One of those nice, neat rectangular states it travels 387 miles from east to west and a mere 276 miles from the north to the south.  It's terrain is quite varied, with the Great Plains to the east, the Rocky Mountains smack-dab in the middle, and then the more arid and desert-like Western Slope.

Why this little lesson in western U.S. geography?

School is now in full swing for my family.  And while that means that I have between three and five glorious hours to myself each day, mornings and afternoons are anything but peaceful.  I honestly think that while carting my dear children from home to school, school to home and activity after activity, I have now covered the perimeter of Colorado about ten times over. And that's a lot of driving.

As you may know,  I, in all my infinite wisdom, have four children at four different learning establishments.  Yes, its true.  Now, when you stop laughing hysterically, I go on with my tale of woe.

Last year wasn't so bad.  Our oldest took the bus to our neighborhood school, my youngest was in a preschool a few blocks away and the others were placed in their respective carpools.  There were days where driving presented some problems, but all-in-all it was doable.

This year...

No such luck.   My oldest is now in high school.  If that alone isn't scary enough, our cheap fine district doesn't believe in buses.  I'm not sure why, but rumor has it research has shown riding in all those goldenrod vehicles is bad for their self esteem.  Whatever the reason, given the fact that she is seemingly allergic to walking or biking, and she's still too young to drive herself, the task falls on yours truly. It doesn't help that our up-and-coming athlete is doing two sports and a youth group too.

This year also finds my other kids in activities of their own.  Even the four-year-old is playing soccer.  So, the Mom Bus has been put to good use this year.   So much so, I feel like I should start charging a fare for riding.

Hmmm.  That gets me thinking.  Self esteem be damned, maybe I should trade up for one of those beautiful goldenrod vehicles after all. The one pictured above is a real looker, don't you think?  I could put a bed in the back, a small fridge for snacks and maybe a bathroom for those emergency pit stops. 

Am I scaring you?  I'm scaring me too.  I've been driving way too much.

Just Truckin' Along,

An Oldie But Goodie

Posted by ZenMom Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Comments

Three down, one to go.
As of this morning, I have three of my four back in school.  So to honor this glorious day, I decided to repost a little something I wrote last year around this time.  And without further ado, here is Twas the Day that School Started:


Twas the day that school started, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
My gym clothes were placed by the door with care,
In hopes that some free time would soon be there;
The children all nestled in classes where they read,
While visions of peacefulness danced in my head;
And me in my sweats, ready for a lap,
Had first settled down for an overdue nap,
When out from the house there arose no clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away down the stairs I flew like a flash,
I tripped on the cat, and stepped on the trash.

The sun shedding light on the orderly show,
Gave the lustre of midday to the neat scene below:
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the kitchen still clean, and a floor that was clear,
No toys on the counters, no arguments to fix,
I knew in a moment something must be amiss;
Then quickly I remembered, and smiling went to work,
I mastered the laundry; fixed every little quirk,
I put make up on, even sported a pose,
then gave a quick nod, sad the day would soon close;
I got off my feet, to my dog gave a whistle,
And away the hours flew like the down of a thistle.
As I leave you today, there’s just one thing to say,


Doin' a little happy dance,

Yeah, Sure It's Free

Posted by ZenMom Monday, July 26, 2010 Comments

Sorry all, but I think I'm suffering from a little sticker shock today.

Am I planning a big vacation?  Buying a new car?  Maybe new appliances for the kitchen?


I just tallied up how much it's going to cost to get my kids back to school.  And let me tell you, it ain't pretty.

Here's a breakdown of what we've got so far:

Registration and school fees: $429
School supplies: $300
School photos: $100
New clothes: $500

That's $1300 before anyone even enters the building.  Mind you -- but for my youngest who is still in preschool -- all of my kids are in public school.  You know.  Free education.


And this doesn't include the perpetual stream of requests that pop up once school is back in session.  Sports fees, art fees, party fees, field trips and fundraisers.  Why, it's a bottomless pit.

So now, instead of enjoying what's left of our summer (did I mention school starts in mid-August in these parts?), I'm sitting here scratching my head trying to figure out how I'm going to pay for all this stuff.  You think I can get a Back To School loan somewhere?

We were thinking of taking a long weekend up in the mountains before school started.  But no.  Now I'll be spending the money on paper and pencils and highlighters instead.  How lame is that?

Trying to find gainful employment (or a long-lost rich relative),

Ode to Beau

Posted by ZenMom Friday, July 2, 2010 Comments

Today is a sad day in the Zen household.  It is the day we said goodbye to an old friend.

He was a part of our family for the last 14 years. Come to think of it, we've known him longer than most of our kids.  And while I know he lived a long life for a big black goofball of a mutt, his time with us was too short.

He went by many names.  Beau.  The Big Lug.  And Big Bad Beau Dog.  There were a few others sprinkled in there on bad days, but I think I'll leave those out.

A stray, he had no papers, no pedigree, but still he was as good as they come.  He didn't have a mean bone in his body, and I can proudly say he never bit a soul -- even when the kids would ride him or dress him up or torture him in various other ways.

Whenever we came home, he always greeted us the same way.  Not only his tail would wag, but his whole back end would join in the action.  It was like we'd left him for days, when in fact we'd just returned from a trip to the store.  That back end wag was what I remembered most of the day I picked him up and continued to be his signature move for years to come.

He loved to swim, he loved the snow and he absolutely loved to run.  In his younger days, could be seen outpacing us even on our bikes.  Unfortunately, he was not the best trained dog in the world, with his running abilities far surpassing his recall.  There were many a time I was left cursing in his dust as he took off in the ranch behind our house.

But what I will remember most was his disposition.  Even when he was old, deaf and in pain, he was a lover.  As a matter of fact, he lay their licking my face as we waited for the vet to put him out of his misery.

I have to say, this was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.  I know it was the kind thing to do, the right thing to do, but still I sat there crying like a baby as the vet did what needed to be done.  I came home to a house was a little quieter, a little emptier without him.

So this is my tribute to a wonderful stray pup from Montana who made his way into our home and our lives so many years ago.  Rest in peace Beau Dog.  We miss you terribly and will never forget you. 

With a Heavy Heart Today,

Something is Very, Very Wrong Here

Posted by ZenMom Tuesday, June 8, 2010 Comments

Everything seems all right.  My house is the same boring house,  It has the same dirty carpet, the same broken tiles.  You might even be able to see them but for all the kid's stuff sprawled out on top of every floor in the house.

But you can see the furniture.  Too bad its the same crappy stuff we've had for years.  And the kitchen.  Don't get me started on the kitchen.

But with all this sameness, something is decidedly different.  There is an eerie sense of calm, an uncharacteristic quiet that, quite frankly, is a little hard on the ears.  The messes are not as mountainous, the chaos cut clear in half.   Why its been so freaky, I actually pinched myself this morning to see if I was in the middle of some sick, bad joke of a dream.

Alas, I was awake.  I have the bruise to prove it.  Ouch.  I shouldn't pinch so hard.  And just as I resigned myself to the fact I that I was now living life in another dimension, I remembered.

This is my week.  My one and only week.  The one where most of the kids are gone most of the time, leaving me not knowing exactly what to do with myself.

You see my youngest daughter is away at camp in the mountains until Friday.  Her brother started day camp this very same week.  And, the Stinker is in vacation bible school every morning for the next five days.

That only leaves my oldest here.  she is prone to sleeping in until 10 or 11, it's like having the house to myself.

This would all be great if I had something wonderful to fill my time.  Instead, I'm like a deer in headlights.  Stunned by silence, totally frozen and dead in my tracks.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

That's because after months -- oh who am I kidding -- years of not having a moment to myself, of not being able to finish a thought or a sentence in over a decade, my to-do list has gotten a tad lengthy.  And me being the focused, organized type that I am, has no idea where to begin.

The pressure is on too.  Considering how little time I have, I feel like need to use it in the best, the most productive way possible.  Every project that I've ever dreamed of dances through my head, along with a hundred to-do and grocery lists.

And yet, unable to corral my many unruly thoughts, I sit here playing solitaire on my computer, contemplating a nap.  Oh well, so much for efficiency.

Scattered and Sleepy,

Ordinary People

Posted by ZenMom Saturday, June 5, 2010 Comments

We live in an ordinary neighborhood.  Look up and down our street and it's nothing special.  No flashy cars, no monstrous houses.  Just common folk going about their everyday lives.

My house is small by today's standards.  A throwback to that lovely era that was the '70s, its a horrid tri-level.  Whoever thought this was a good idea must have been snorting some other trendy drug of that era.  So what made us buy it?

Three simple words: Location. Location. Location.

We in the Zen family tend to like our privacy.  And our lot -- not horribly big or beautifully landscaped -- backs up to a ranch owned by the county.  It extends our yard by about a mile or so of open prairie.  This is a rare commodity in these parts, so we snapped at the chance to purchase our not-so-wonderful abode.

At the time we said it was just a starter home.  We'd be out in five years max.  On to something bigger and better and definitely less common.

Yes, famous last words, I know.  That was 15 years ago.  Here I sit, in my little not-so-special house on the prairie, always looking longingly at those big houses in nicer neighborhoods.

But looks can be deceiving.  As I look back over the years, this unimpressive neighborhood is home to some pretty outstanding people.

When I was pregnant with my last, I was very sick in bed.  And I could let my children play on the streets unattended, because I knew my neighbors were all watching out for them.

When my oldest son, who is autistic, was having a difficult time last year, the neighborhood kids, many of them teens, would willingly take time out of their days and walk him down to the pond to go fishing.

When things were tough and our yard a mess, no one complained.  Instead, I had neighbors over helping me clean my house and cooking us meals, because they knew we were having a rough go of it.

I can honestly say, we have never had a major problem with a neighbor.  Whatever minor disagreements there were have always been solved by a simple knock on the door or a ring of the phone.

Tonight, the kids in our neighborhood -- all 25 of them -- will put on their annual play.  Totally written, produced, directed and starring the diverse group of young ones, they've been doing this for six years.  Everyone is included and many schools and organizations could learn a lesson or two from this success display of inclusiveness.

Tonight, as we sit and watch their production, I'll be very proud of my four.  But I'll also be thankful for my ordinary neighborhood and its not-so-ordinary people.

Humble and Thankful,

Call Me Crazy...

Posted by ZenMom Thursday, June 3, 2010 Comments

...but I like camping.  Always have.

It may have something to do with my love of nature, sitting by a campfire or drinking some nice strong camp coffee.  Or maybe it's the big, bad-ass trailer I have sitting in front of my house right now.

OK, I admit it.  We don't exactly rough it.  Sleeping on the ground is just too much for my old bones these days, so we opted for a few creature comforts.  Like a memory foam mattress.  And a microwave.  And a potty.  That wonderful, glorious potty. Bet you never thought you'd see glorious and wonderful in the same sentence as a toilet?

Even with all this stuff, it still took three days for me to recover from our weekend camping trip.  But all in all,  I'm happy to report that we made it through the first Zen Family camping trip of the year -- and everyone lived to tell the tale.

While the trip was by all accounts a success, it was not without its highs and lows. 

Day One:
We were only an hour late in heading out.  Not bad for our crew.  Everyone was in a decent mood and no tantrums or meltdowns.  We were definitely on a roll.

Too bad the same couldn't be said for our tire.  About half the way to our destination -- in the middle of nowhere, of course -- we heard a low rumbling noise.  This quickly turned into a What-The-Hell-Is-That? kind of noise.  We pulled over to find out that our front tire was totally trashed.

Thank God for Roadside Assistance. One hour and a few hundred dollars later we were on our way with a new tire and a passel of grumpy kids.  It might of had something to do with the bones we saw on the side of the road.  My husband said they were cows, but no one was entirely convinced.  Except for the dog, who tried to have them for a snack.

Day Two
Would have been great, if we hadn't encountered hurricane force winds.  Nothing ruins a picnic like getting dirt and dust embedded in the eyeballs.  By the end of the day, everyone (including me) was convinced that camping was evil and wanted to click their heels and get the hell out of Dodge.

Day Three
What a difference a day and a little less wind makes. We went to a local zoo, waded in a mountain stream and actually enjoyed one another's company by the campfire that evening.  Camping was good and order was once again restored in the universe.

Day Four
My teenage daughter was so anxious to get back home to her texts and the mall, she was actually helpful in packing up.   Note to self:  we need to take her to the wilderness more often.  Its great motivation in getting some much needed chores done.

Call me a glutton for punishment, but in two weeks we head out for a week-long, thousand mile trip to the Grand Canyon.  Now that should be fun.

Brushing up on my cleansing breathes,

Cujo is Alive and Well

Posted by ZenMom Friday, May 28, 2010 Comments

This has been a wild and crazy couple of weeks.  Literally.

I've already told you about Diablo.  Well, I'm happy to report that our devil-dog, guest-from-hell has finally found a new home.  Hopefully one without phones to chew or carpets to worry about.

No sooner did Diablo make his exit, we had the Bird Incident.  Yesterday, it was the Giant Bug Scare. I'm not going to get into these now -- they're really worth a post all their own.

Whoops, digressed again.  Back to the story.  Today, the kids and I had the most bizarre experience we've had in a long time.  Given the insane nature of our lives, this is really a major accomplishment. 

It all started when we picked up our son from his last day of school.  Yes, the last day of school.  The words that should not be spoken.  Just to let you know, I wore black.

Well, I decided to get the dog (the good one) out of the house and bring him along for the festivities.  All was well until we were headed back to the car.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a cute little terrier attached itself to our Angel Dog's rear. 

Chaos ensued, but all was still well.  Our car was not too far and then we'd be gone.

Not so fast.

This was no ordinary dog and this is no simple story.  Cujo followed us, the whole time no more than an inch away from the Angel Dog.  Looks like he was totally enamored with our big guy.  I finally got our dog into the car and slammed the door shut before the little canine could follow.  After jumping up on my car door for a while, it decided (in protest, I'm sure of it) to lay down right under the wheel of my car.

No amount of coaxing would make it budge.  In one failed attempt, I put my hand out and sporting my best puppy sweet-talking voice, I was met by a nasty set of teeth lunging toward me.  I swear I would have run over it at that very moment if the kids weren't with me.

Not wanting to traumatize my kids with a pint-sized pup under the tires, we kept trying unsuccessfully to dislodge the beast from the car.  This went on for fifteen minutes, until a kind man across the street took pity on us and joined the cause.  Three attempts and one bite later, he finally succeeded in relocating Cujo.

At that very moment, I gunned the engine and made my escape, only to hear my kids yell, "Mom, its following us!"

And so it was.  For two blocks, the surprisingly speedy dog was right behind us, until it spied yet another mom in another minivan and decided to terrorize her instead.

I'm happy to report that we made it home safe and sound.  But after this incident, I have Animal Control on speed dial in my phone, just in case.

Right now, we're off for a weekend of camping with the family.  I'm sure I'll have some adventures to share upon our return.

In the meantime, have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

The Dog Catcher is My Friend,

The End Is Near

Posted by ZenMom Wednesday, May 19, 2010 Comments

I know what you're thinking.  Here goes yet another Armageddon-like doomsday prediction.

Nope.  Not exactly.  It may be the end of my world, but yours should be just fine.  Unless you have a preschooler that is.

Today, when I dropped off the Stinker at preschool, I went to sign up for Wednesday Lunch Bunch as usual.  Too bad there were no sign up sheets.

And then it hit me.  This is THE last week of preschool before summer break.  Its filled with field trips and water days and other fun stuff, so no enrichment for the little ones.

This will truly rock my world.  Gone will be my 2 1/2 hours of bliss...usually spent running around like a crazy lady trying to accomplish at least a few of the millions of things I need to get done sans a four-year-old.

And my five hour stretches?  I guess I can kiss those goodbye until sometime in late August too.

I am taking some deep cleansing breathes right now to ward off the stress, but something tells me its a losing battle.  In the meantime, I'll be repenting for all the sins I will be committing over the next couple of months...before its too late.

Enjoying my last days of freedom,

How Diablo Got His Name

Posted by ZenMom Friday, May 14, 2010 Comments

Last night I was watching one of my favorite shows of all time, LOST -- at least what's left of it.  This episode gave the back story to the mysterious Jacob and the ultra-bad Man-In-Black.  And while I was engrossed in my weekly dose of paranoia, death and destruction, it hit me.

Why the parallels were uncanny.  OK, maybe I'm reaching here, but I'm gonna share anyway.

We have two dogs...at least officially.  We have an very old, very grumpy guy who sleeps most of his days. Then there's our young guy.  He's a gorgeous yellow Lab, as laid back as they come, and yes, even well trained -- no thanks to us, he's just THAT good.

Oh, I almost forgot, there's also Diablo.  He's our Angel Dog's brother and had to vacate his home due to some severe allergies (or so they claimed).  When the breeder asked if we could watch him for a little while until she found him a new home, we happily agreed.  After all, being related to Angel Dog must mean that he would be equally as celestial.  Right?

He's a Lab and a male, but that's about where the similarities end.  He's black, not light, he's a tad on the energetic side, and no one -- I mean, no one -- would mistake him for an obedient pup.

Why, he's single-handedly been responsible for the majority of the destruction in our humble home.  He's officially passed up the kids in this department, and that's no small feat.

Our list of casualties now includes one dog crate (he broke out on his first day), a box of tissues, a paintbrush handle, and old purse, numerous stuffed animals and a phone.  Yes, you read that right...I came home today to find one of my phones chewed to pieces on the floor.

He's also been reason all the dinosaurs in my son's beloved collection now have no tails.  And did I mention his propensity for sprints as soon as the front door opens?  Or how about the fact that he really, really likes to climb up on the counter and munch on the cat's food for little snackeral?

You may ask why we haven't booted his bottom out the door by now?  Believe me, we've threatened.  But we happen to owe this breeder big time.  You see, Angel Dog is a service dog for our son, and because of this she has our undying gratitude.  Diablo is supposed to follow in his brother's footsteps, but something tells me he may not make the cut.  The other thing that keeps him here is the fact that -- when he's not in full destruction mode -- he's really, really sweet.  One look into those big brown eyes and he is once again granted a reprieve.

So these days, we are anxiously awaiting word that our resident Tasmanian Devil has found a new home.  In the meantime, I can be found hiding the phones, stuffed animals and any other inanimate objects he might take a liking to.

I So Don't Need This Right Now,

Diablo and the Imp

Posted by ZenMom Tuesday, May 11, 2010 Comments

Our story begins with a little imp.  Cute as a button, with gorgeous big eyes and a deceptively angelic face.  With the uncanny ability to charm all he met,  many a good man would find themselves unknowingly bending to his iron will.   With a smile on his face and a chuckle under his breathe, he left a path of destruction everywhere he went.

Then one day, Diablo strolled into town.  Tall, dark and quite handsome, he went by many names, but for our story, let's just stick with Diablo.  It is the most fitting, after all.  He could be a lover one minute, a terror the next.  Under the guise of "passing through" he inched his way into every part of the local's lives until it was clear that he was never leaving.

When the imp first laid eyes on Diablo, he knew he was in for trouble.  He was not one for competition and after all, this was his territory.  Needless to say, their relationship was a contentious one, both showering the other with a daily dose of mayhem and torture.  Ill will and childish pranks spread like wildfire, leaving no one unscathed.

Until yesterday, that is.  It seems a friendship was forged, a deal struck.  As Diablo bounded into the car, his tail wagging furiously, the imp reached out from his carseat and boldly declared, "I love you, Diablo."

This peace offering was met with a huge lick to the face -- until his attention was diverted by some crumbs on the floor, of course.  But I am happy to report that -- although boy and dog still terrorize the rest of us -- they have made peace with each other and will probably live happily ever after.

Life is a Fair Tale,

If Its Not One Thing, Its Another

Posted by ZenMom Thursday, May 6, 2010 Comments

Yes, I totally dropped off the face of the earth.  And yes, I'd say I was sorry if I hadn't already profusely apologized for my absences a million times before.

What floors me is, after just checking this blog after a month-long hiatus, I still have people following me.  You guys are great.

Now if any of you continue to read my ramblings remains to be seen. 

Things have finally settled down in these parts.  I am just now able to breathe and think.  I've even been able to catch up on some things around the house.  Its just an unfortunate that my timing happens to suck. That's because, just when I think I might actually get my act together, the kids gets out for the summer.

Hold me back.  I feel a full-fledged anxiety attack coming on.

Four kids.  Three dogs  (yes we added a third temporarily, and yes, I'm insane).   One small house.  And one eternally cranky mom.  This should be fun.

Don't get me wrong.  I adore summer.  I'm definitely a warm weather kind of gal, and I love the idea of having no intense schedule to keep, like during the school year.

But then again, we have no schedule to keep.  And this means way too much free time.  I've told you before I'm not one of those crafty moms.  Fun, creative activities that keep my kids wildly entertained don't just pop into my head. And somehow we missed out on that delivery of cash, the one that would have allowed  me the to fill my children's days with movies, shopping, trips to the pool and other budget-draining activities.  Guess I'll just have to wear ear plugs when they begin the never-ending I'M BORED chant.

I think to worst thing about summer is what it does to my alone time.  And I love my alone time.  I live for it some days.  I also tend to get a tad grumpy without it.  Yeah, I didn't believe it at first either, but by all accounts, I am sad to report that it is very, very true.  

My only saving grace is that, unlike last summer -- a time I try to block from my memory entirely -- we at least have SOME plans this year.  One child will be enrolled in a summer-long day camp.  I know you can't see me right now, but believe me when I tell you I'm doing a little Happy Dance as I type.  The visual might not be a pretty one, but too bad.  I take my excitement where I can get it.

Another child will be going to a week-long away camp.  And yet another will be heading out on a ten-day mission trip. Too bad none of these happen to be the same week.  So at any given time, I'll have at least three of them underfoot.  Crap. I think I feel myself hyperventilating again.

We also have a week-long family vacation on the calendar.  But before you get too excited, did I mention its a camping trip?  To the Grand Canyon, no less.  I'm just hoping no one falls off a cliff -- or even worse, gets pushed after seven days together in close quarters wrecks havoc with our family bonding strategy.

So as we head into the warmer months, I will try to keep you posted on the comings and goings of our lively bunch.  No promises, however, considering it may be hard for me to type when I'm sporting one of those fashionable jacket with the extra long arms.

I will stay sane, I will stay sane,

Lemonade Stand

Posted by ZenMom Sunday, April 18, 2010 Comments

Once again, I find myself unable to write like I used to.  No witty remarks are forthcoming, no funny glimpses into daily life.

My heart has grown increasingly heavy.  Lately, we've been dealt some rather large blows, but amazingly we continue to muddle through.  I don't have the energy to go through all the details, but suffice it to say that life has provided us with an overabundance of lemons.  In turn, I'm up to my eye balls in lemonade.

Instead of partaking in my favorite pastime of writing, I've been concentrating on my family, my home and my sanity -- what little there is left of it anyway.  Some things never change I guess.

The good news is, what is important in life remains in tact.  The kids are alright.  My husband and I remain a tired, yet united front.  And we have been graciously blessed by the kindness of so many around us.

I also find myself saddened by the struggles of some of my dearest friends.  It seems I'm not the only one overflowing in citrus.  I've been hit over the head hard with the fact that life sometimes sucks -- for so many people out there --  and how I'm not alone.  Its time to stop wallowing and to reach out to somebody else for a change.

Just this morning I was reading a post on Califmom's blog.  If you aren't familiar with her, follow her.  IMMEDIATELY.

She is writing about her wonderful husband, who happens to be dying of cancer.  Her words are poignant and full of strength.  Her story is a sad one, but demonstrate the undying power of love so beautifully.

Her experience reminds me how resilient we humans are.  How we can overcome so many horrible and terrifying events.  And it puts into context my own  rather trivial issues. 

So, if anyone happens to still be following this blog, sorry in advance if you find my new found seriousness a downer.  Its just where I'm at and if nothing else, I'm honest.

Do me a big favor, will you?  This morning, give your loved ones a big hug.  Hold onto them close, because you never know what tomorrow brings.  And never ever underestimate your own power and strength.
Lost in Melancholy,

A Blockage of Epic Proportions

Posted by ZenMom Friday, April 2, 2010 Comments

Stagnant.  Immovable.  Stuck.

Things are a bit backed up around here.

No, not my pipes.

My thoughts.

I've gotten myself into a rut of the same old, same old.  I've officially lost my edge and just go through the motions each day.  That's why no posts.  I can't seem to think of anything  word-worthy.  It all seems so...BORING.

So what's a girl to do?  Turn to her virtual friends to lift her spirits, of course.   What do you do when you hit writer's block?  Inquiring minds want to know...

Bored to the Bone,

Its All the Same to Me

Posted by ZenMom Friday, March 26, 2010 Comments

If I had a keen eye, I'd see it.  If my ear was more in tune, I'd most certainly hear it.. If I had a discriminating palate, I'd taste it.  If any of my senses were finer and wiser, I would feel it in my bones.

But that is not my fate.  No matter how hard I try, how deep I look, it doesn't change.  When I look at the days of the week, they all look the same to me.

Now I know that many of you get all giggly and excited when the weekend comes.  But are those two little days THAT special?  Really?

Not in my neck of the woods.  I still clean, I still do laundry, and I most definitely still watch the kids.  All while desperately trying to fit in all those projects and errands that didn't get done during the "work" week.   I actually find myself biding my time, waiting patiently for Monday to roll around.  At least then I get a couple of hours of quiet time while the kids are at school.

But that doesn't stop me.  I still find myself with a little skip in my step come Friday.  Every week, I still have hope that maybe, just maybe, this week will be different.  Oh when will I ever learn?  Instead, like clockwork, my bubble is burst by Sunday evening. 

There are no gourmet dinners, not wild parties.  Just another day in the life of a frazzled stay-at-home mom. 

So as we head into the weekend, I hope you all have a great one.  Sorry if I don't share in the excitement -- its all the same to me.

Your Friendly Curmudgeon,

Productivity Redefined

Posted by ZenMom Tuesday, March 23, 2010 Comments

Once again I find myself apologizing.  Life has this pesky way of getting in the way of my blogging.  I will get around to visiting, commenting and posting again.  I promise.  But all in good time.

This has been just a symptom of my entire existence these days.  Every day I seem to fall further and further behind.  Papers to the ceiling, bills unpaid and dishes piled high and wide. I just can't keep my head above water.

Being the Queen of Disorganization, I'm always looking for ways to mend my evil ways.  So my predicament started me thinking.  Why am I having so much trouble?  What's getting in my way of being efficient?

And this, in turn, set off a whole other chain of events.  The result?  A slew of rather philosophical inner discussions centering around the meaning of productivity.

What does it mean to be productive, anyway?

From an early age, outward signs of accomplishment are drilled into us.  You know you're making progress when you can check stuff off your list or see the fruits of your labor in a nice, clean environment.

Lately, my little guy has been more needy than usual.  He follows me around and in a constant, extremely endearing manner, he chants:

"Mommy, will you play with me?"

All too often, my response includes one of the following lines.

"I'm too busy right now.  Maybe later."

"I need to clean the dishes."

"We need to go to the store."

And this situation, my friends, let to yet another revelation.  It all began when I asked myself a simple question.  In 20 years, what will be remembered?  Will it be that my sink was always cleaned or that I actually found the time to build a relationship with my kids.

So today, productivity has taken on a whole new meaning. 

It involves lounging in my rocking chair.  With the Stinker in my lap,  we watch Land Before Time for the eleventh time together.  Or maybe it is that mid-day trip to the pond to feed the ducks and play make-believe fish.

Now don't get me wrong -- this doesn't come easy.  To the contrary.  I constantly feel a pull to "get something done" instead of just enjoying the kids (or anything else for that matter). 

That's when I force myself to remember how quickly they grow.  I know, right now that seems like such a fantasy!  But when that day finally does come, I know I'll miss Ducky, Little Foot and all their friends.  My kids will be on their own and then I'll have plenty of time to be productive.

Doing Nothing (and loving it),

Zen is Overrated

Posted by ZenMom Friday, March 12, 2010 Comments

OK.  I need to breath.

No, not just short, shallow breathes.  You know the ones.  My kids are famous for these, especially when I tell them to turn off the TV.

No, I'm in need of some cleansing breathes.  Ones that reach deep into the diaphragm then work hard to blow out all that stored stress.

That's the theory at least.  If the truth be told, I've been huffing and puffing all week long and those great moments of calm are nowhere in sight.  And that, my friend, bites.

What's got me so worked up? 

In short, my life.

What was I thinking when I had four kids?  They were just so darn cute, I guess.  But now? Not so much.  Between the laundry, the homework, the messes and the meltdowns, I'm about ready to blow my proverbial top.

And then there's the house. The projects I look at everyday, only to run away hyperventilating. There's also the bills.  These just happen to go hand-and-hand with the lack of money to pay said bills.

Last but not least, there's me.  Imaginer of many, finisher of few.  Its already the end of March and I'm nowhere with my This-is-My-Year kick.  I am sad to report my Couch to 5K exercise plan has now morphed into Couch with Doritos.  As for my diet?  Let's just say if I was on a weight gain regime, I'd be doing great.

There are days when everything seems to swirl above my head and put me in the front-row seat for my very own Beat Yourself Up show.  And if you haven't noticed already, that day is today.

The one thing I'm thankful for today is this blog.  Yes, I realize you may not be feeling the love as you read this written venting session, but for me, this outlet keeps me sane.  OK, maybe not sane, but as close as one gets in these parts.

Hopefully the show will end soon and I'll be back to my in denial normal self tomorrow.

Its My Pity Party and I'll Vent If I Want To,

I Hate Winter

Posted by ZenMom Tuesday, March 9, 2010 Comments

This has been an exceptionally bad year around here.  Seems we've gotten every bug, sniffle, sore throat and cough known to man.  Why it hasn't been this bad since the older kids were younger.  Back then, with three little ones under the age of three, everything came to a grinding halt whenever one of the kids got sick.

But its different now.  This time I'm the one who's fallen for every germ that's come within a five mile radius of the house.  And, unlike the days of old, I still have to complete carpool duty, run my errands and entertain the little guy -- all the while wishing I could just curl up and take a nice, peaceful nap.

This time its a good old-fashioned cold that's got me down.  Contrary to popular belief, there's nothing common about this one.  Its a dozy and has me actually looking back on my time with the Swine Flu fondly.

So tonight I'm typing from bed, with Kleenex strategically place on my right and cough drops to the left.  I can't wait for the warmer weather to get here so I can feel human once again.

Sniffling Away,

Houston We Have a Problem

Posted by ZenMom Monday, March 8, 2010 Comments

Our Little Stinker's done it again.  And just when I thought that I had heard and seen everything.

To say he has an active imagination is most definitely an understatement.  Like most boys his age, he's way big into dinosaurs, tigers, lions and any other predatory beast past and present.  But, as usual, he needs to take things a step further.  Not only does he have a passion for these creatures, he now things he's one of them.

I've already told you how he growls at new people he meets.   This has caused many a problem as little kids run crying to their mommies when the mean kid roars in their faces.  Yep, that would be my kid.

The other day, I realized I've been remiss in the hygiene department.  I looked down and saw his fingernails were longer than mine.  But when I got the clippers out to remedy the situation, my efforts were met with a big, loud "NO!"

Determined to push through this I continued, "We need to trim your nails, bud.  They're way too long."

"But Mooommm.  They're not NAILS, they're my claws."  This last point was emphasized by drawing up his hands, giving a good swipe and a mean growl in the process.

What's a mommy to do?

This went back and forth a few more times like a good game of ping pong.  Would you be horribly surprised to hear that I lost?  Didn't think so.

  I know my boy and there is no way, no how I'm going to get him to do something once he has his mind set on it.

So go ahead and laugh if you will.  I might just have to sneak into his room tonight and separate him from his claws. If that doesn't work, we may be making a trip to the salon. Hey, those suckers are long and strong and, well, claw-like.  If they're here to stay for a while, might as well make them look good.  .

Keeping me on my toes,

Silly Walk Central

Posted by ZenMom Friday, March 5, 2010 Comments

The Little Stinker's been having a hard time getting to school lately.  This is quite perplexing, considering who he is.

He's the youngest of four.  From the day he was born, he's had all sorts of people holding him, caring for him and babysitting him.
He's not exactly what you'd call shy either.  Of all my kids, he's the most unflappable of the bunch.  Noises don't phase him.  Nor do crowds or big events.  Why, he's my kid who would take off at preschool to go play with his favorite toy without even a backwards glance.

That's why this new found separation anxiety has left me scratching my head.

At first I thought it would just go away. 

Not a chance.  Every time we'd go, he'd cry a little longer and a little harder.

On Monday, he was so distraught he clung on to my leg and wouldn't let go for anything.  No one could pry him off, leading me to give the little guy a mental-health break from preschool

By Wednesday, I wised up.  I brought out the big guns.  Dad was enlisted to take over drop-off duty.  And I'm happy to report, it worked like a charm.  It never ceases to amaze me the crap the kids will  pull with me.  But Dad?  No way!

Today, preschool duty was back in my trembling hands.  I really, really needed the day off.

We were off to a good start.  He got ready without a fuss, even got in the car without undo force.  But as I opened the car door, I saw it.  His face fell, his fists were tense and those dreadful words were uttered.

"I don't want to go to preschool."

At that very moment I knew I had to do something...fast.  So I whisked him out of the car and started walking.  Not just any walk mind you.  But the silliest, goofiest gate ever seen.  Then I asked him to join in.  Together we skipped, hopped, leaped and shuffled our way through the parking lot, up the stairs and right into his classroom.

As the other parents stopped and stared, I was sporting a huge grin.  That's because as my steps became more absurd, all I could think about was our friend above in his official capacity as the Minister of Silly Walks. 

I do believe that the Era of Shy is officially over.  And so ends today's installment of Parenting Tips by Python.

With a skip in my step,

What's R Got to Do With It?

Posted by ZenMom Thursday, March 4, 2010 2 comments

We interrupt this normally light-hearted blog for a very serious topic -- one that is near and dear to my own heart.


Just last weekend, I read two editorials for and against the campaign to end the "R" word.  In case you don't know what this is referring to, there are those out there that would like to ban use of the word retarded.

I look back to when I was a kid and how this was used to describe those with developmental disabilities or one of your friends that had a particularly bad blond moment.  No harm, no foul, right?  After all its just a word. 

Yeah, right.

Today, I have a totally different perspective.  You see, I am the mother of a child with autism.  Brilliant, quirky and able to think on a totally different plane than the rest of us, he's a genius in the making.  Yet, over the years, this one little word has cut my child to the core more times than I can count.


He's different.  He doesn't always know the right words to say, is a bit uncoordinated and tends to goes on and on about his favorite subject.

Kids can be cruel.  And grown ups can be stupid.  I don't know how many times I've heard boys will be boys, after my son was beaten up or called the "R" word by the "popular" kids. It was not taken seriously and nothing was done.

And so it continues.

The worst of all is the result.  After hearing this so often, my little guy began to believe it.  For so long, he thought he was dumb -- too stupid to do anything right.  And he's not alone.

He's just one boy in one school.  There are so many others like him.  So tonight, I'm here to tell you this is so much more than just a word.   It is a symptom of a bigger problem.  A society where intolerance is not only ignored, but sometimes encouraged.

So I will do what little I can to change the world.  I'm going to take the pledge.  Won't you?

Fighting the good fight,

Inquiring Minds...

Posted by ZenMom Wednesday, March 3, 2010 3 comments

I think I'm back.  For reals this time.

While I was a tad obsessed with tweaking my design, many of you have offered me a wonderful suggestion.
Yeah, if I had any active synapses still firing, I would have heeded this wise warning.  I still might, but in the meantime, I just needed to figure out how things worked.

Why must I inflict pain on myself in this manner?  Good question.

I realize there's something inside of me that is just  too curious.   I can't seem to leave well enough alone.

There was the time I was determined to paint the house myself.  Why hire a nice, tidy painter, when I could do it myself.  How hard could it be?  Two years, a hundred cans of paint and a whole set of professional painter supplies later, I realized the error of my ways.  But I am a damn good painter, if I do say so myself.

Or how about the many pieces of junky furniture I've lugged home from yard sales because I was certain that I could transform them into works of highly creative, inspired art.  Part of my collection still graces our garage, while most have gone on to live out their useful lives in some thrift store or another.  Whenever my family sees me making my way down the street -- the trunk of the van ajar, holding my latest find -- they just shake their heads and smile.

Too bad I never seem to learn.  My inquisitive nature may offer a challenge or two, but when it comes to results, I'm no Martha Stewart.  Instead I'm sporting an eerie resemblance to our furry monkey friend, George.

After a few weeks spent developing a totally uninspired, average design, I've come to a decision.  When it comes to a creative outlet, I'd better stick to writing.

 Intelligence is Overrated,

Long Time, No Write

Posted by ZenMom Saturday, February 27, 2010 9 comments

Wow!  Its been so long since I last posted, I don't know where to start.  I'm not even sure what happened to cause my daily venting sessions to cease.  Its not like we had any huge crises or major announcements or anything remotely interesting.

It all started a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to do a little work on my blog design.  And that's never a good thing.

Let's just say I got a tad hyper-focused in the process.  For a whole week, I ate, slept and dreamed tweaks.  Why, I spent an entire weekend in my room on my computer trying to figure out how different programs could help me accomplish the beautiful vision I had in my head.  Yep, its true, I really know how to have a good time.

God, I've come to hate those visions.  They're always the same. The idea seems so simple and amazingly straight forward.   Why I can pump it out in a matter of no time. 

Too bad that's not the way it works -- at least in my world.  Hours (or days) later, I'm left swearing at my trusty little laptop and my family is left to figure out who the strange, crazed woman is...the one seen emerging from her bedroom from time to time, looking more like a psych ward patient than their beloved mother.

All because I can never seem to recreate the stupid idea that's dancing around in my head.  And being the flexible, take-it-as-it-is kind of person I am, I can't seem to let go and move on.

So after all that, my blog remains untouched. 

Kind of.

As I tried to input my new, mediocre design, I totally screwed up my posts, my sidebars and everything else.  For the first time in my life, I can totally understand why Mr. Van Gogh went after his own ear.

Being creative is overrated, totally obsessive and wreaks havoc with family life.   So next time I try to implement another totally inspired, yet illusive idea, you have my permission to do an intervention.  Or maybe just politely remind me to read my own blog.

Sanity is fleeting,

Sweet Sixteen

Posted by ZenMom Friday, February 19, 2010 14 comments

It was sixteen years ago today.  During a torrential downpour, in front of all our friends and family, I walked down the aisle of a small church in Palo Alto and said I Do to my one and only.

What a ride its been.  We had no clue back then of what life had in store for us.  It was all so romantic and new.  But as the Gods must be crazy, so must we, because we've managed to hang in there through thick and thin.  So today, as we were just able to steal away a couple of hours to celebrate, I remembered why we embarked on this journey in the first place.

Happy Anniversary, Honey.  Here's to many more.

Staying Blissfully Married,

Zen and the Art of Motherhood

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