March 19, 2009

if John Hancock can do it . . .

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776: John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later. Five. Years. Later.


I’ll tell you why: because men can’t make decisions.

Example: Today as Kevin was driving into town at a speed of 55 mph, the light ahead turned yellow. Being in that “iffy” state between stopping too hard and the risk of running a red light, he STARTED to stop hard, changed his mind, sped up, decided he really couldn’t make it, then stopped again . . . in the middle of the intersection. He then drove on through the red light. It was, quite literally, like playing “Red Light Green Light”. His big mistake: INDECISION.

Now, lest you think this to be a male-bashing blog, let me say, in all fairness, we women are just as indecisive. We have all had this discussion with our significant other: “Where do you want to go for dinner?” “I don’t care.” “Come on, honey, I want you to choose.” “No, I truly don’t care, you pick.” . . . ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Why won’t SHE pick? Because she truly doesn’t care. Plain and simple. She is hungry or tired or just totally grateful to not have to cook dinner. Whatever you choose really is fine with her . . . unless, of course, you choose someplace she doesn't want to go.

Why won’t HE pick? Because he doesn’t know how.

I believe this starts because boys have attention spans equivalent to the length of time it takes to blink.

We diligent moms know our boys are easily distracted. We try to keep it simple. We try to be specific. We try to communicate.

At age 6:
Mom says: “Go pick up your Legos, put them in your Lego box, and put the box in the closet.”

He hears: “Legos.”

Three minutes later he is floating a Lego-boat in the toilet because when he began picking up the blocks he ran across the little “sail” piece and got distracted.

At age 9:
Mom says: “Go get ready for bed.”
He hears: “Bed.”

So when you go tuck him in, you find him in bed, clothes still on, teeth unbrushed, still needing to use the bathroom.

At age 12:
Mom says: “Go to your room, hang up your clean clothes, and put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket.”

He hears: “Go to your room”

Fourteen seconds later the amnesia has kicked in and he is standing in the doorway of his bedroom wondering why he is there.

So, in an effort to eliminate frustration (mainly mine!), I began to give step-by-step instructions to my little man:
“Kevin, go to your room, tell me when you get there.”
“Okay, mom”
“Hang up your khaki pants. Tell me when you have done that.”
“Okay, mom”
“Pick up your dirty socks. Tell me when you have done that.”
“Okay, mom”
“Go put your dirty socks in the laundry basket. Tell me when you have done that.”
“Okay, mom”

This has gone on for years and has succeeded in rendering him incapable of making decisions. Don't hear me wrong - he is a GREAT kid. He always does what he is told, but ONLY what he is told, then he waits for someone to tell him what to do next.

There is a solution to this. I just don’t know what it is. I want him to make decisions. I want him to show initiative. I want him to be able to change his own child’s diaper one day without having to call me for the play-by-play. Really I do.

Men may be incapable of making decisions, but as psychology has proved time and again . . . it’s still mom’s fault.

Whatever John Hancock’s mother did, it must have been right. Then again, maybe she was in the back of Independence Hall whispering, “Johnny, pick up your quill, walk to the front table, write your name nice and big so everyone can see it . . .”

March 16, 2009

this house ain't big enough fer the two of us

The cowboy loves to be spontaneously hospitable. It is not unheard of for him to ask me if it's okay for him to invite people over for dinner . . . only he will ask me at 5:45 when I am just walking in the door from work and the house is a wreck and there is no food in the fridge. Seriously. When I respond with, "No. No you may not." and explain why, he comes up with things like, "Then let's just build a bonfire outside and roast hot dogs." Of course, we don't have hot dogs in the fridge either, 'cause, well, yuck.

Gotta love his simplicity though.

He recently invited a complete stranger to spend the night with us. Okay, she was a complete stranger to Kevin and me. My husband had met her once in Fort Worth at the "Saddle Boy" competition. She is an insurance claims adjustor and had been working about five hours east of us, and her home is about five hours west of us. Anyway, she called to see if she could stop by on her way home and see the cowboy's new "Extreme Mustang Makeover" horses. (Yeah, that's plural. Remember, he decided to go with two horses this round, you know, because of all his extra free time.) So . . . instead of just saying, 'Yes, that would be lovely,' he says, "Yes, but why don't you come early and stay the night at the Reynolds' Bed & Breakfast?"

She thanked him politely but said she would be staying the night elsewhere and would see us on Wednesday morning. A couple of days later she called for directions and he asked her again to spend the night with us. "Really," she said, "I appreciate the offer, but I've already got a place to stay."

This is when he decides to inform me he has invited a complete stranger to stay with us. On a night he will be at work. On a night I already have other plans. But since she has declined the offer twice, I don't give it much thought. (Not that I mind her spending the night. Really, I don't. It was just that he made the offer twice before conferring with me.)

So, Tuesday comes along and the cowboy calls just before leaving for work at 5 p.m. "Are you coming home?" he asked. "Not planning to . . . why?" I responded. "Just wondering. I'm going to leave a key for Karen just in case she changes her mind and decides to show up."

Knowing that this lady had no intention of spending the night with us, and knowing that Sara and I were planning some girl time, Kevin decides he want to go home. So I took him home around 5:30 for a quiet night of frozen pizza, Facebook and X-box.

About 9 o'clock he is in the den and hears the front door open. Thinking this strange, as I always come in through the garage, he goes to the safe, gets out a gun and hollers, "Mom?" (You know, 'cause my kids always greet me at the door with a loaded shotgun.) To which a complete stranger's voice answers, "No? This is Karen?"

Sufficiently freaked them both out, as neither was expecting the other.

By the time I got home she was holed up in Kacey's room sound asleep. Kevin and I had a good laugh about it. Apparently, once he regained his bearings, he became quite the host and offered her food then showed her where all the essentials were. I asked him all about her, but since the Y-chromosome makes men oblivious to details, the best he could tell me was that she walked upright on two legs and she was not bald. So I try to get specific: Is she tall? Short? Young? "Oh, no, she's not young. Definitely older than you, mom." Okay, so we have a bit of information.

The next morning I met her and was pleasantly greeted by a VERY sweet, gracious and MUCH younger woman. Kevin gets big brownie points.

We had a great visit. She helped the cowboy feed the horses, they went for a ride, I fixed a big breakfast, we had the "get to know each other" talk, then she was on her way back home. She called the next day and left a message:

"Hey guys! This is Karen. Thanks so much for letting me play with the horses. Stephanie, thanks so much for your hospitality and the best breakfast I have had in weeks. Oh, and Kevin . . . BOO!"

I liked her. She can come back and stay anytime. :o)

March 13, 2009

mirror, mirror on the wall

Recently I had a friend ask me to do the unthinkable. . . she asked me to tell her what she needs to improve about herself. Seriously?!?! This is not something I do well. Sure, I could tell YOU what she needs to do, but tell HER? To her face? So, instead, I’ve just decided to blog about what she needs to improve.


Being honest with one another is difficult. And intimidating. I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to be unkind. I don’t want to be hurtful. But mostly, I don’t want to open myself up to return criticism. I might hear the truth and, well, EW.

This leads to me a little story about a friend’s son, Davin. He is 2. A few months ago I took his picture with my cell phone, then pulled up the photo to let him see himself.

I said, “Who’s that, Davin?”
“Dat baby,” he replied.
I said, “That’s you, Davin!”
To which he adamantly responded,
“Dat NOT me!”
I assured him it was, but his repeated, indignant response was still, “Dat NOT me!”

At first I thought it was pretty funny, but then I went home and stood in front of the mirror, cell phone in hand. I looked at myself as long as I could (you know, without frying my retinas). I muttered, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the whatever whatever . . . " Then I held the phone up and took a picture of my reflection. Immediately I scrolled through my phone to locate said picture. IT WAS NOT THERE. All I could find was one of a woman, dressed like me, who looked vaguely like my mother. There was certainly not one of me looking the way I see myself. I tried it three more times, hoping for better luck. Luck was nowhere to be found.

A mirror rarely, if ever, depicts us as we encounter life - silly, contented, curious, angry - showing what we “really look like”. Instead, it returns a bland, slightly dull reflection. It does, however, reflect what is ACTUALLY there. Our eyes do not possess the same ability as our mirrors. Our eyes see what they want to see, and apparently they do not perceive reality, neither about appearance nor personality.

If you think back really hard to your senior year of high school English you might remember a Scottish poet named Robert Burns and a poem entitled, “To a Louse”. It’s pretty funny, actually. He writes a dozen or more stanzas about this proper church lady, thinking she is “all that and a bowl of haggis” and all the while he is watching the lice in her bonnet. The poem ends with the phrase (I’ll Americanize it),

“Oh would some Power the gift to give us,
To see ourselves as others see us.”

Since we rarely see ourselves as others see us, we have to rely on those who love us. Those who can be honest with us. Those who care about us enough to want us to be more than we are today.

This takes me back to the unthinkable. I have immense admiration for this friend’s request. It takes a lot of moxie to want people to be honest with you so you can improve. I hope I can honor her request with the same grace that she asked it.

March 11, 2009

temptation wafers and thumb wars

Lent Update
9 days and counting. Haven't had a single granule of sugar. No Happy Hour cokes. No Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Not even a single bite of the Reece's Pieces dessert pizza at Pizza Inn earlier.

Then I got home tonight and opened the freezer. And there, between the California Kitchen Sicilian Pizza and the Pillsbury Frozen Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls was a commitment test. A little green box of temptation wafers. God's Perfect Food. GIRL SCOUT THIN MINTS. Kevin bought a box for himself. It's a cruel Catch-22 . . . if I buy some for myself, you know, for AFTER Lent then I fear I will give in and eat them before Easter. However, by the time Lent is over, Girl Scout Cookies will be unattainable for another 11 months. Oh, the horror. The horror!

So, my Eastern-Time-Zone daughter had to be at work at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. What does she do? Text me. Thirty-seven times.

For those of you not gifted with math skills, this would be 5 a.m. in my bed where I WAS sleeping. WAS being the operative word here.

KC: "Yeah, so my arm hurts a LOT!" (4 follow-up texts confirming she had pulled a muscle)

ME: "Two words - chiro practor"

(11 more follow-up texts saying it was so bad her husband had to drive her to work, and she didn't think the chiropractor would be much help, and it REALLY REALLY HURTS A LOT MOMMY, and she wanted my opinion on what to take for it.)

ME: "One word - Heating Pad"

(I finally conceded that an Aleve might be her best choice though she knows my feelings about drugs.)

KC: "Chris has some Aleve, I'll take a couple in a bit." (I insisted she read the dosage instructions, as I feel Aleve is one of those "take one tablet twice daily" things. She then informed me that my prescriptive pharmaceutical advice must be a mistake, as she needs 12, not one.)

Then the texting ceased. It is still COMPLETELY dark outside, but I am now wide awake.

ME: "Hey! Customers and their mocha lattes do not come before me!" (As you may recall, my daughter is currently putting her $80,000 college degree to good use brewing Java for yankees, and loving it.)

(After a 10-minute intermission she returned to call me names)
KC: "Grouchy Pants"

(Then, upon realizing that I was still in bed, revised it to "Grouchy No-Pants".)

ME: "I am going back to sleep now. Stop texting."

So she proceeds to text a bunch of randomness in rapid sequence.


KC: "Don't wanna. Can't make me. :oP "

ME: "Shhhhh. Mommy sleeeeeeeping now."

KC: "Lazy Bum." (This is how she speaks to the woman who gave up caffeine for 9 months and endured 32 hours of natural labor, just so she could now pollute herself with Aleve over a wee bit of arm pain.)

ME: "I'm sure you mean 'Busy Mom' not lazy bum. Your phone must have made a predictive texting mistake."

This went on for about a dozen more texts incorporating the need to pee, her "awesomeness", one "That's What She Said" reference (which, BTW, I hate!), and the awakening of her father. Then one of my texts failed to send, so it threw off the entire linear conversation and things became increasingly confusing until she said,

KC: "I'm so lost. It's prolly 'cause I'm all hyped up on 12 Aleve."

Goofy, goofy girl.

March 09, 2009


The Pros and Cons of being "this age":

PRO: I have WAY more patience with people.
CON: I have way LESS patience with THINGS.
PRO: I no longer have oily hair.
CON: My crow's feet personally keep Oil of Olay in business
PRO: I enjoy reading more.
CON: I have to have my 1.75 reading glasses to see the 12-pt font.
PRO: I have more money to spend.
CON: I spend more money.

PRO: I have a multi-layer personality.
CON: I have a multi-layer neck.
PRO: I am a better listener.
CON: I can’t remember what you told me.

Just a little food for thought. :o)

March 02, 2009

the mom who cried wolf

My son honked at an old lady today, and I was proud. Seriously. He had already asked me not to make him drive on this particular road because of the ridiculous traffic, but I felt he was ready for it and needed the experience. I love being right.

Speaking of right, he was turning that direction. “She” was across from him and turning left. She did not have her wheels turned, nor did she have her blinker on. The light turned green. Kevin turned right into the right lane. The blue-haired lady turned left . . . into the right lane. Kevin stopped hard and fast, honked loud and long, and saved his mommy’s life. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but he definitely avoided a nasty little accident. Yea, Kevie-poo!

So after this and his drum lesson (where his instructor had a killer-headache and wasn’t exactly in a good mood), we decided Happy Hour at Sonic was just what he needed. We placed our order for two large vanilla cokes with no ice, then Kevin said, “I’m gonna rest my head on the steering wheel. Tell me when she comes out.”

So, being the good mother that I am, I waited 3 seconds and said, “Here she is.” Which she was not. He looked up and then growled at me.

He put his head back down. I waited another 6 or 8 seconds and said, “Kev.” (Implying her impending arrival with the aforementioned drinks.) He looked up, realized he’d been duped again and replied, “Mother!”

Again, down with his little head. About 12 seconds later I said, “HERE we go!” which again prompted him to lift his head and then look at me with disdain. “Just for that,” he stated, “I am freezing you out!” Then he rolled down my window and turned on the air conditioner. Mind you, it was 37 degrees outside.

After a little begging and pleading and a lot of wrestling and laughing, he rolled up my window, turned off the a/c and put his head back down on the steering wheel. He warned me not to do it again and then mumbled something about "ending me with his wrath".

“Kev,” I said. He did NOT look up. “Seriously, honey.” So, he looked up. Seeing no Sonic employee, he declared his intense displeasure for my existence, and declared he wished he had not previously saved my life from the blue-haired lady.

“BUT I GAVE BIRTH TO YOU!” I proclaimed.

“Now we’re even,” he stated flatly.

“EVEN?” I proceeded to describe 10 hours of labor and the size of a 7-pound baby’s head, which caused him to further regret my existence.

I love being a mom.