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.

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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,

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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,

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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),

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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,

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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,

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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,

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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,

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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,

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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,

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