Well, Crap.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been M-I-A (that’s missing in action for those who don’t speak acronym.) The horribly bad news is that my tiny little pink netbook, my baby, has been inflicted with some terrible virus. Some awful, mind-numbingly damaging virus. Some disgusting virus that by all rights, given the supposedly technologically-minded savvy of my computer geek spouse, should not have been granted access to my hard drive. Remember those shoeless cobbler’s kids? Apparently that little metaphor translates directly over to anti-virus software, as well.

So, my personal laptop is currently standing by, all alone, waiting for assistance by myafore-mentioned technologically-minded savvy computer geek spouse.Leaving me with no internet. Or email. Or access to online celebrity gossip. I’m totally dialed out of the matrix, people. And I hate it.

Luckily for me, this morningmy spouse is currently sawing some major logs due to a late-night session of XBOX Live Modern Warfare-sparring with a bunch of thirteen year-olds who probably should have been in bed, no doubt.Now, granted, I’ve heard the voices of Jeremy’s onlineplaymates and they all soundold enough tobe sprouting armpit hair. But, as I like to remind my husband who swears they must all be of the adult-persuasion,puberty comesearly for some.

Anyway,my man is always on his computer (the other woman, as I like to call her) and rarely am I afforded an opportunity to borrow the little hussy.

But, alas, here I am. I have hijacked his baby so I could send out the following message to my loyal readers:

Please don’t give up on me. I shall return one day. My Samsung netbook will be restored to its original beauty and I will blog once again. (Rest assured, if my husband continues to abate his marital duty of restoring my broken electronics I will *gasp* seek outside help by way of some nineteen year-old college student who has nothing better to do than tackle computer viruses and most likely believes inprotecting his shirt pockets from ink.

Don’t forget about me,

Mindy

I Never Would Have Made it on the Prairie!

I was first introduced to Laura Ingalls Wilder at about the age of 8 and grew immediately enamored with her life. I used to dream about “Ma” and “Pa” and would imagine myself gallivanting my little country selfaround the prairie, wheat rustling against my skirt (because, um, it was the 1800s and every chick wore skirts.) I would daydream that the tiny little second-story bedroom I shared with my sister was actually a tiny little loft in a clapboard prairie house and I slept upon a strawtick mattress. I would pretend that my bicycle was actually a horse and we’d gallop all over the neighborhood, houses morphing into rolling grassy hills in my mind. I remember going to school and pretending my Care Bears lunchbox was actually a towel-lined tin bucket. In place of my peanut butter & jelly, I imagined freshly baked bread, homemade jam and a ripe, crisp apple.

And, as much as I loved the television show (I mean, come on…who didn’t think Michael Landon would be the coolest dad ever?) I relished the book series with even more gusto. I would lose myself in the Big Woods and on the banks ofPlum Creek, imagine being courted by Almonzo “Manley” Wilder and picture myself teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. I read each and every book furiously, all the while wistfully wishing I had grown up “on the prairie.”

Um.

Fast forward about, oh, uh,25 years.

We’ve had a run of some beautiful weather here recently that has forced me to leave the comfort of my temperature-controlled home and venture “out of doors.” Both of my kids love to be outside and I took the brief respite in rain as the perfect opportunity to spend some time with them and reconnect with nature.

Which totally reignited my love affair with “Little House on the Prairie.” The shining sun and gentle wind shuttled me back to a time when my biggest worry was tracking down the next book in my favorite series. I decided to take full advantage of my renewed inspiration andchannel my inner “Laura Ingalls” by reuniting myself with Mother Earth.

My first task? Weed something.

I could totally do this. I started looking around my yard, my eyes attempting to zero in on some obnoxious weeds. Okay. Has anyone ever noticed how some things that aren’t weeds totally look like weeds? I mean, I tried to explain this to Jer but he wasn’t seeing it. And I calmly explained I would be more than happy to relinquish this specific task right back to him.

Have no fear, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have not given up.

Second task? Water the plants.

What could be more organic than providing nourishment to God’s bounty? Okay. Has anyone ever noticed that when applying too much water pressure to a flower bed filled with loosely packed mulch it results in a virtual dirt shower? Yep.I was over that quickly.

Okay, so I’m less of a “work outside” kind of Laura and more of an “appreciate my surroundings” kind of Laura.

Third task? Breathe in some fresh air and meditate on nature.

I’m going to be upfront with you here, folks. I didn’t last long at this task. I had the breathing down, alright. But the meditating? My first (and only) attempt at this soul-searching practice resulted in getting hit upside the head with a piece of flying sidewalk chalk. After spending a reasonable amount of time outdoors with my kids I have to admit I hightailed it back into my safety net…the house.

So, after 25 years I have finally come to a startling realization. Laura Ingalls Wilder, I am not. I obviously greatly romanticized what would have been a tough and trying way of life. I never would have made it on the prairie.

I would, however, have totally made it as Nellie Oleson’s nicer and much prettier next-door neighbor. In town.

Mindy

Conversations with Avery

I’ve recently determined that I owe a lotmore than a corrected crossbite and an empty pocketbook to my daughter’s orthodontist. I also owe him for a newly developingrelationship with my daughter, Avery.

You see, if you happen to be one of the lucky few steeped in orthodontia (sarcasm fully intended) then you will understand that it is a very time-consuming process. And if you are also the type who likes to choose an office located in what could be potentially the farthest section of town, like me, you soon learn that there will be many a car ride to and from appointments in your future.

What I’ve alsocome to realize is that the long car ride is not only the perfect arena tobust out some serious”Mamma Mia”but it also allows a prime opportunity to converse with my daughter.

And she’s funny. Her seven year-old intellect is still young enough to be adorable but mature enough to come up with some thought-provoking topics.

On our most recent journey to the orthodontist’s office she was throwing out some real doozies.

“I want an iPhone,” she says, rather randomly.

“Um, why? You’re seven. What would you do with an iPhone?” I asked.

“Uh, make phone calls. It’s an i—phone, mom.”

Riiight. Thanks for pointing that out.

Not long after the iPhone conversation, I threw in a Christian music CD, Point of Grace. Although I’m not a huge Christian music fan, I’ve always loved this particular group and honestly think I should have been invited to join. I mean, I can sing me some Point of Grace. Granted, in order to fully appreciate my sound, it’s necessary for me to perform from my vehicle. But I’m pretty sure I could have phoned my part in. Anyway.

Avery was listening intently to the music and said, “This song is really good. It’s about Jesus.”

“It is a good song,” I agreed.

“Hey, did you know that Jesus is in our hearts? It makes Him happy when we sing about Him,” she preached.

“Yes. And we should be very glad that He’s in our hearts,” I added.

“Yeah. God was really busy when He made the world. Did you know He’s got the whole world in His hands?”

Now, at this point I must admit I was a bit flustered. We are a Christian family and have attended church services (full disclosure: nowhere near as often as we should) but Avery’s sudden interest in conversing about God was a little startling. I had to check the backseat to make sure Billy Graham wasn’t riding shotgun, feeding her lines. She seemed so resolute. I was proud of the little gal.

After the mini-sermon, we reached Avery’s orthodontist’s office, heard the standard “another six weeks, yada, yada, yada” and headed back towards home.

On the drive through town I made a startling observation. In almost 12 city blocks we had not yet had to stop for a single red light. It was as if my car had been equipped with some little “green light guarantee”doo-dad. We cruised through each and every intersection, smiling broadly atthe cross traffic sitting at their respective traffic lights as we blew through ours.

I said, “Wow, Avery. We got really lucky with the traffic lights. Not a single red one. That almost never happens.”

And then Avery, in all of her newly acquired spiritual wisdom, said…

“Yeah…I bet it’s ’cause of allthe Jesus music.”

Man, I love that girl.

Happy Friday All!

Mindy

Mixed Media Messages

Okay. Those of you readers who have not been around young(ish) kids for quite some time will most likely not understand this post. I apologize in advance. But I feel it is my obligation to make what I consider a ‘public service announcement’.

During my stint as a stay-at-home mom I have observed many things that have gone awry in the world as we know it. Recently while tryingto placate my crabby child with television (I know…I won’t be winning any Mother of the Year awards anytime soon) I stopped from my daily regimen of laundry and dirty dishes to watch some child-centered programming.

I actually enjoyed a few of the shows. Which only goes to substantiate my self-diagnosis of what appears to bemy slowly diminishing IQ, no doubt accelerated due to my main source of human interaction being…a three year-old boy.

Anyway. While I found myself chuckling at some shows,I also found myself gasping at others.

I have decided to pinpoint a couple of Jack’s favorites. It would stand toreason.

Please read on:

Dora the Explorer: This adventurous child and her traveling companion, Boots the monkey, can’t be more than 7 or 8 years old. Which would be fine if she were exploring her way through supervised playdates with friends or dinner at Chuck E. Cheese. But, alas, this is not the case. The young ladyexplores her way all over the blasted country. Her and her monkey. Not an adult in sight. Occasionally, she hooks up with her *slightly older* cousin, Diego, but these meetings are far and few between. And where are her parents, one might ask, while the young lady is traisping all over the countryside?They are usually waiting for her with open armsat the end of her adventure offering up a huge congratulations for surviving the snake-infested jungle…making it across the rapid rushing river…sneaking past the gigantic hungry crocodiles, all the while avoiding contact with the fox that’s been stalking her. Responsible guardians? I think not.

The next time I find my 3 year-old son trekking around the neighborhood with a backpack strapped to his back and a very reluctant shih-poo following in his wake I know who to blame. (Some might say me. I prefer to blame Nickelodeon.)

Max & Ruby: Cute little bunny children. Catchy little theme song. But…where in the heck are thesekid’s caretakers? Due to the lack of any parental involvement I’ve gathered that they live alone with only an occasional check-in by their seemingly worldly Grandma, who I have a sinking feeling is engaged in some pretty sordid pasttimes. And whenGrandmaeventually decidesto show her furry little face, hervisits are shadowed by an utter lack of discipline and total disregard for rules. Who sends their3 year-old grandbunny trucking several blocks home pulling a trailer full of cake and ginger ale? Why no chaperone, grandma? You got some swinging party to attend?

I’m pretty sure this idea of minor bunnies living alone is sending the wrong message to my kids. I can only imagine that Avery and Jack lie in bed at night wondering how Max & Ruby got so lucky with their bachelor pad while they’re saddled with a couple of old people who are interrupting their swagger.

Now. The real question is this: what do I do with this garnered information? Shall I strike these shows from the kids’ collective television repertoirs? Or, shall I spend some time reinforcing the house rules, including, but not limited to:1) no unchaperoned trips through the jungle or over a raging river, and 2) no moving into their own place until they reach, at least, eighteen years of age?

Perhaps.

While my immediate defensehas yet to be determined, one thing is for certain.

Rest assured. I’m watching you, Nickelodeon.

Mindy

Mother’s Day

First of all, I would like to wish a Happy (belated) Mother’s Day to everyone! If I’ve learned anything as a mom it’s that the title “Mother” carries a very broad definition. There are many people out there who deserve recognition for being a loving care-taker who may have no traditional “children” to speak of. I hope everyone celebrated the holiday with gusto!

Now, to those naysayers who claim that Mother’s Day is “just another commercialized Hallmarkholiday” I would have to beg your pardon. I disagree. Who am I to mock a holiday which enables me to take full advantage of my family’s obligation to honor me? I choose to embrace Mother’s Day as I believe it was originally intended…with respect for my own mother and pride that I am a part of those celebrated. I choose to celebrate it in its entirety with tissue-paper flowers, hand-scribbled greeting cards…and Ferrero-Rocher. (I’m pretty sure this particular confection is a form of legalized narcotics.)

I was woken up on Mother’s Day morning with a warning to not enter the kitchen. Apparently, my gift was featured front and center on the kitchen counter. And by some miracle (or, perhaps, due to the massive amounts of sugar consumed the night before) my kids were still asleep. Which meant I had to wait. Lying in bed. Because I have never been a proponent for waking sleeping children. This is due in large partto the experience I have had with the semi-psychotic behaviors displayed by half-asleep, grumpy children. No one should be subjected to that.

Once the kids began to stir, Jer hightailed it into the bedroom to herd them out to the kitchen.

I heard, “Shhh…We need to be quiet.”

“I am being quiet.”

“Mom can hear you.”

“No, she can’t. She’s still feeping.”

“Not anymore, Jack. You’re being so loud.” (At this point, Avery is definitely the louder of the two.)

“You guys both be quiet.” Hey. It wouldn’t be a holiday if someone wasn’t yelling at the kids.

Jer came back to the bedroom to let me know it was time to “wake up” and come out into the kitchen, the kids and my gift were awaiting me.

Now, I have to be honest here.I did this with a bit of trepidation given my history with this holiday and the gifts it has previously entailed.

Toaster oven.

That’s all I’m saying about that.

With my eyes closed, Jer lead me out of the bedroom and into the kitchen where I was immediately squeezed by my son, Jack. He loves any reason to celebrate.

“Happy Mudder’s Day”, he yelled.

“It’s your Happy Mother’s Day,” Avery added enthusiastically.

I opened the cards (which somehow manage to always bring out slight feelings of insecurity about my motherly attributes), teared up quite a bit, hugged my kids and then prepared myself for the gifting portion of the holiday.

Remember? Toaster oven?

I was very pleasantly surprised by my gift.

Jer had researched at length and then purchased me a Cricut Expressions machine. For you scrapbook lovers out there, you probably already know what this is. For those of you who would much rather get your teeth pulled out than entertain the idea of crafting (I can somewhat relate) it is a very cool paper-cutting machine with loads and loads of graphics and various lettering fonts at your disposal. This machine enables you to create personalized cards, quotes, sayings and could make scrapbooking your memories a cinch. And since I’m about a year-and-a-half behind inchronicling my own memories, I could use all the help I can get. With the memory part. Seriously. My memory spans about a two-hour period, and then only if I’ve been keeping notes.

I’m very excited about having this machine at my disposal but will have to admit that I’m a little intimidated by all it can do. I am envisioning many practicesessions in my future and have already began preparing myselfa defenseagainstJer’sexpectation that creative brilliance will automaticallycome pouring from my soul.

I’m not holding my breath.

Iam, however, cranking out some pretty sweet versions of “Mindy” die-cuts.

Mindy