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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Heart You, Paul Mitchell

I've got a thing for hair.

Let me explain...

I LOVE to get my hair done!  I love to cut it, I love to color it.  I love to style it, I love having someone else style it.  (I ADORE the hot mama, Brooke, who does my hair!)  I like trying new things:  A flower clip.  A leopard print headband.  A pink hair extension in my bangs.  A new product.  I collect hair products the way little boys collect bugs (eeewww)--with vigor and fascination!  Much to McHubby's chagrin, I've got pomades, hair sprays, gels, and mousses.  I've got a sea salt spray for "volume and texture" and Moroccan oil for "anti-frizz."  I've got a spray wax to add an element of "funky" to my hairdo; another spray protects my hair from heat and humidity.  I've got goop for shine and goop for hold.  I own stock in Paul Mitchell.  (Okay...not really.)

I have had MANY hairstyles over the years.  In high school I rocked a hairstyle I affectionately refer to as "Baby-from-Dirty-Dancing-hair."  When I was fifteen, and at a conference for a church youth group, a much, MUCH older guy said to me, "Hey!  You look like Baby from Dirty Dancing."  He must have noticed my crest-fallen face after he said that (I wasn't sure if he was paying me a compliment...I mean, IS Baby cute?), because he quickly said, "And that's a good thing!"

(You that I think of it, he WAS older.  Hindsight forces me to see the situation in a different light:  That dude might have been pervy.)

When I got to college, I started cutting and cutting and cutting my hair.  I started changing the color of it too.  (Actually, I started doing a lot of things:  wearing vintage thrift and hemp, burning incense, reading Eastern philosophy, not wearing much makeup, and listening to Cat Stevens.)

I dyed my hair various shades of red--strawberry, auburn, burgundy, mahogany.  I dyed my hair various shades of brown--caramel, mocha-choca-latte (ya ya), fudge brownie.  (YUM.)  I had blond hair.  I had black hair.  I even had purple hair.  I affectionately refer to that hairstyle as "Eggplant Hair."

How does one procure eggplant-colored hair?  Go to a salon and have your hair dyed a bad, bright red color--like a fire engine.  Be sure to leave the salon resembling Bozo the Clown.  Go home and have all your roommates pass-out from shock.  Tearfully return to the salon the next day and beg for a re-do.  A who lotta black hair dye later and...viola!  Eggplant.

When James and I started "hanging out," I was Eggplant Head.  When we started dating more seriously, my hair was a dark brown shade.  When we started making-out, it was highlighted.  When we fell hopelessly and madly and endlessly and passionately in love, it was blond.  When we got married, I was a redhead!  (Not like "Bozo the Clown"...thank goodness!)  My McMan has been with me through hair color depicting the spectrum of a rainbow.  That's love, baby.   

(Adorable side note:  When we were dating, James frequently commented on how good my hair smelled.  It was my curl enhancing mousse.  It reminded him of pina colada; hence his pet name for me:  Colada Hottie!)

Imagine my elation when my beautiful, precious baby girl was born with oodles and oodles of hair.  As we were checking out of the hospital, a nurse confided that she and some of the other nurses had been styling Lilly's hair during her intermittent stays in the nursery.  They were rolling it in their fingers, making curlicues on top of her head.  By the time Lilly was eight months old, I was doing her hair in little pigtails.  (And I had fully converted to the flat iron!) 

Fast forward several years to the birth of the Cam Man.  He had a nice sprinkling of baby hair when he was born, but it soon went "bye-bye" as he began to grow.  That little man's head is a cue ball, an onion.  He is a miniature version of Mr. Clean.  He is my lovable "buff and shine" baby.  And there is nothing wrong with that...we're just anxiously awaiting the growth of his hair!  (Comparable to the way Mama Leisha anxiously awaits her next hair appointments.)

Last night, something wonderful happened.  (That was the initial provocation for this "hairy" post.)  I discovered enough hair atop Cam's head to warrant a little styling.  Oh happy day!  I ran to my bathroom, threw open my cupboard, and dug out the wax and the mousse and the gel and the hairspray and the pomade.  Look at the masterpiece I created!

A PART!!!  THAT IS A PART, PEOPLE!!  A part, a part, a part!  Can you believe it??!  I'm so tickled I feel like singing and dancing!  Oh wait.  I can't do EITHER of those.

I guess I'll just go do my hair. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Ms. Lilly is a hoot; a genuine kick in the pants!  The hilarious verbiage that comes out of her mouth never ceases to knock my socks off and crack me up!  Here are a few faves from the last week. 

*I was attempting to vacuum the living room.  Cam was chasing the vacuum cleaner (he's got a thing for anything with wheels), and Lilly was perched safely on the couch with her feet protectively tucked beneath her.  (As if I would try to suck up her toes...sheesh!):

"Oh no, Mom!  Mom!?  You have to stop vacuuming!  I don't want Cam to get sucked up.  Don't you dare suck up MY little brother!" 

*Pre-bath time:

"I think I'm ready to get in the tub now.  I really want to be all shiny and clean." 

*After paying a visit to the toilet:

"Hey Mom!  I just went one big poop in the potty!  Isn't that neat?!  Isn't that great?!"  (Yes, this one IS positively disgusting, but I include it in this post to illustrate how undeniably kooky my life as a mother can be!) 

*We have a sliding glass door/window in our kitchen.  I was wiping sticky (and kind of adorable) little fingerprints off of it with a paper towel and some Windex.  (I heart Windex!)  Lilly asked me if she could help.  I gave her a paper towel and sprayed some Windex for her:

"Aaah!  You just sprayed my hand!"
"Sorry, Lil!  I didn't mean to," I said.
"Oh, that's okay.  Sometimes in life, things just happen."  (Said like a wise sage; like Buddha.  Meditate on that!) 

*While grocery shopping:

"Hey!  I just realized something.  Boys are gross.  Boys are really gross." 

*While playing the hilarious (and oh-so-addicting) game, Angry Birds, on our iPad:

"GREEN birds!  Oh my gosh, there are green birds in this level!  It's a Christmas miracle!"  

Ha ha!

Ready for "the recap"?  Boys are gross, green birds are miraculous, and everybody poops.  Things just happen, beware the vacuum, and if you really want to shine...take a bath.

Aaah, life with YOUNG CHILDREN!!  Ain't it GRAND?!

(And if you ask me, that Lilly Girl doesn't need a bath to shine.  She does that naturally.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A fish swam into a cement wall and said, "DAM!"

Looking for something fun to do with your kiddos?  When the "blahs" and the "stir-crazies" have got your children down in the dumps, when the looong winter is sending you running for the Dunford donuts, might I suggest planning a "Fish Day"!?

You might be asking, "But Mama Leisha, what does 'Fish Day' entail?" (Or "en-fin"...ha, ha!  Get it?!  I know, I KNOW...bad!)

Well, let me just tell you...

First, pick a day for aquatic celebrating.  Second, raid your local party store for decorations.  Be sure to visit the "Hawaiian Luau" aisle--you'll most likely find cut-outs of tropical fish attached to shiny, bright-colored streamers.  While you are out and about, you may want to pay a visit to a craft store or a scrapbook store.  They will have the best selection of fish stickers.  Pick up a couple of packages.  (And remember, when faced with the option to buy glittery fish stickers versus non-glittery fish stickers, go with the glitter.  Duh.  "Sparkle" is always a good thing.)  Thirdly, stop at the grocery store for Swedish Fish and Goldfish crackers.  Fourth, DECORATE your abode with your fishy finds!

Kick off "Fish Day" by reading some books to your little ones.  My favorites include:

1.)  Ten Little Fish by Audrey and Bruce Wood
2.)  Smiley Shark by Ruth Galloway (All of hers are wonderful--Clumsy Crab, Tickly Octopus, Fidgety Fish)
3.)  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Suess

Next, have the kids put the fish stickers all over plastic baggies.  Fill the baggies up with the Swedish Fish and Goldfish cracker snacks you got at the store.  Then...


And take those cute bags of snacks with you!  That way, the kiddos can munch, and munch, and munch while viewing jellyfish, sea horses, and sting rays.  (Brilliant, right?!  Are you loving this?  Are you?  Are you?!)

Make the day extra special and invite Granny and Auntie to come along!

End the day with a game of "Go Fish."  Or play "Hide and Seek" with plastic, bath-toy fish.  (We already had some, but I've seen similar stuff at dollar stores.)  Hide the fish behind couch pillows, in cupboards and drawers, and under beds.  Have your children search for them!

We did a couple of fish crafts.  Lilly glued colorful paper fish to blue construction paper, to create her own "Under the Sea" scene.  Pipe cleaner can be cut, bent, and then glued to the paper, to represent seaweed or coral.  Googly eyes are great for the fish eyes...just as long as your four-year old glues them to the paper fish, instead of sticking them up her nose.  (That, my friends, is a different blog post for a different day.  *Sigh*)  Have fun.  Get crazy.  Be creative.

And remember to have a FISH-TASTIC day!!

"Fish Day?  I think my mom might be nuts!"

Beware the Piranhas!  (Yep, that's my impression of one.) 


Monday, March 14, 2011

Polly Pocket, COOKIES, and Moses

One night, not too long ago, Polly Pocket went missing.  I'm certain all the weeping and wailing that was resounding from my little home, led neighbors to believe we were hosting a wake.  Ms. Lilly was that distraught.

Lilly informed me (right as I was tucking her into bed for the night...that child's timing is impeccable) that she couldn't find Polly Pocket anywhere, and that we "HAD to find her" or else she (Lilly) would be "too, too sad to sleep."  In a moment of utter exasperation, I threw back the blankets and said, "Fine!  Hop out!  Let's go look for her."

We searched everywhere!  The kitchen, the bedrooms, the Polly.  The closet, the drawers, the Polly.  "For heaven's sake," I grumbled to myself, "She's a tiny plastic doll, which means she could be anywhere!"  It was getting late--way past Lilly's bedtime--and we had looked in every corner, nook, and cranny for the doll, and to no avail.  I was tired and frustrated.  At that point, there were only two options left:  put a bawling Lilly to bed, or pray.

I quickly grabbed Lilly's hands and sat her down on the floor of the living room.  I explained to her that God is always there for us, and that He will help us if we ask Him.  I told her we can even pray to Him for help when we've lost something special, something we love.  "He'll help us find it," I said.  We knelt together and offered a simple prayer to heaven.  Afterward, Lilly jumped up and ran to the front door.  She stood vigilantly in front of it and watched the doorknob.

"Lil?  What are you doing?", I asked, gently.

And in beautiful, child-like innocence, she replied, "I'm waiting for God to come to our house, to help us look for Polly Pocket."

I have thought of that sweet incident many times since then, and most especially in the last month.  Wouldn't it be great if God made house calls?  In times of trial, in times of need, in times of heartache and sickness, in times of discouragement and despair, He'd literally knock on your door.  You'd open it and weep and cheer with elation--pleasantly surprised to find God on your doorstep, ready to come to your aid.  Just imagine it!

So when the I'm the sole survivor left standing on the, I mean home-front...after the "influenza bomb" has dropped, when my whole family is sick with a bug for the second time in three weeks, when I've been to the ER with Lilly for stitches and to the Pediatric dentist with Cam for a crown, when I've been overwhelmed and exhausted by all of it, God would walk in and say: "Why don't you lie down?  Put your feet up.  Relax.  Have a cookie.  I've got this."

Or what if  He wasn't able to come down because He IS God and He's got a pretty hefty job to do... What if He sent someone else in His place instead?  Like Moses?  I imagine Moses coming into my house, looking like Charlton Heston, and "parting" my dirty laundry like he parted that Red Sea.  And what if "parting" the dirty laundry entailed washing, drying, folding, and putting it all away in one great big WHHOOOOSSSSHH?  Wouldn't that be something?

You know what I realized last week?  He HAS done it; God HAS sent His angels to my rescue!  No, He didn't make a house call, and no, He didn't send Moses to me.  He sent dear friends, neighbors, and family members.

It was President Spencer W. Kimball who said, "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs."  My needs have been met by emails, phone calls, voice mail messages, text messages, Haagen Dazs ice cream, Skittles, and hugs.  My needs have been met by loved ones offering shoulders to cry on.  There have been those willing to listen with a compassionate ear.  My needs have been met by encouraging (and often humorous) words of comfort.  My needs have been met by a visit from a lovely friend, who brought chicken enchiladas for dinner for my family.  Another friend came bearing soup and a bag full of goodies.  It is wonderful (and a bit funny) to me that friends have met my needs with cookies--lots and lots of cookies!  (They know me so well!)  Monster cookies.  Girl Scout cookies.  Oreo cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies.  I've decided cookies should be the universal symbol of love and support.  I don't think anything else can say, "I'm here for you," better than a cookie.

And my needs have been met by my kind, angel mother, who swooped into town with caramel popcorn and a smile. (I swear that woman is hiding a cape beneath her clothes!)  She didn't even hesitate to pick up the broom and start sweeping my kitchen floor.  When I grew weary after another trip to the ER (to have Lilly's stitches taken out), she sent me to bed and played with Lilly all afternoon.  I believe a mother always knows how to lighten a burden.

God does notice us.  He helps us find Polly Pocket.  He helps us through challenging times; no house call or appointment with Moses necessary!  He notices when we are at the end of our rope.  He sends our loved ones with nets to catch us.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Goldeneye" and an ER Adventure!

I learned a handful of interesting things last weekend:

1.) Putting your toddler on the dryer in "time out"--because she wickedly shoved her brother and copped some serious, smart-mouthy attitude to her McPapa--is a VERY BAD idea because she's likely to fall off and bite completely through her bottom lip in the process.  One look at that nasty gash and you'll know you are in trouble.  One drive to the Intermountain Medical Center and you'll know you are in Dante's seventh circle of hell...or rather, the ER.

2.) The real ER is nothing like the ER you see on TV.  It is NOT "Grey's Anatomy" in there.  It is a circus.  It is the freak show.  It is more like that "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" program that showcases a man removing and then reinserting his eyeball.  It's terrifying.

3.) You can hear all sorts of things while sitting in an ER exam room that has a curtain for a door.  You hear a woman hacking up her lung in such a frightening way it leads you to believe she's dying.  You hear a chorus of squeaky Croc shoes on a sterile-white tile floor, as doctors, nurses, and paramedics zip up and down the halls.  You hear a man puking, and find yourself "going to a happy place" by singing, "Give Said the Little Stream."  You hear snippets of doctor-patient conversations  regarding CAT Scans and meningitis and migraines.  You hear a man insisting he be checked in under an alias because his ex has been stalking him since 2008.  What you DO NOT want to hear is, "All available ER doctors to Trauma Bay 4, STAT," because that means it doesn't matter that you've waited three hours for the gorgeous doctor who looks like Anderson Cooper to come stitch up your daughter's lip--you'll wait another two.

4.) If you have to spend five hours in the ER, you'd better hope to heaven you get put in an exam room that has a spiffy flat screen TV mounted to the wall.  That way, when doctors are responding to multiple life threatening traumas (and when your toddler has fallen asleep in your arms), you can channel surf.  If you're lucky (and if you have a hubby who's in charge of the remote control), you'll catch "Goldeneye" at 1:00am.  And who would want to miss out on witty quips by a British Casanova super spy?  Like when that disturbing, deranged woman, Xenia Onatopp, says to James Bond, "You don't need the gun," and he says, "Well, that depends on your definition of safe sex"....classic.  (And don't even get me started on how much I enjoy when Dimitri Mishkin, the defense minister, and James Bond are arguing in an interrogation room and the Russian babe, Natalya, says, "Oh, stop it!  Stop it, both of you!  You're like boys with toys!"  It's my favorite line to quote, in my best Russian accent.  Modestly put, I nail it.  It gives me the giggles every time.  And yes, you CAN giggle in the ER at one o'clock in the morning...who knew?!)

5.) When your sweet baby girl--after being laid out on a board, and bound with giant Velcro straps to resemble a mummy or a papoose--cries and cries for you to help her and to take her home, you'll discover you are more brave than you thought you were.  You'll hold her hand and tell her it will be alright, in spite of all the bleeding and the swelling and the needle moving in and out of her lip.  You'll promise her popsicles and chocolate ice cream--rewards for her bravery.  You'll stand by her side the whole time, even though the experience is probably one hundred times more awful for you than it is for her.  You won't cry; you're a mama soldier.  You'll prove to yourself  how courageous you really are.

Bond?  Bond who?  007's got nothin' on you!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kiss Me, I'm IRISH!

As an Irish woman, I am looking forward to celebrating St. Patty's Day this month.  Okay, okay!  I'm not really Irish.  I am married to an Irishman, which makes me Irish by marriage.  Come to think of it...that's just a snappy way of saying I'm not Irish at all!  But my man is.  Our clan is.  I think that calls for some "top o' the mornin' to ya" celebration!  Right?  Right?

I approached McHubby a couple of days ago about this very thing:

"I think I've had a stroke of sheer creative brilliance," I said.  (A little something I like to call "mommy genius.")

James glanced my way with wary eyes.  "Oh really?", he said.

"Yes, indeedy," I said, because "indeedy" seems to be my new favorite word lately. 

He sighed (probably because deep down he knows he's in for something that will prove to be either really crazy or really expensive or really embarrassing) and said, "Let's hear it."

"I think we need to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year.  Go all out.  Make it fun for our kids!"

"Why would we do that?", he asked.


"Because we're Irish," came my retort.  He raised his eyebrows at me.  "Alright!", I exclaimed, "YOU are Irish!  OUR CHILDREN are Irish!  It could be a party."

"I don't know," McHubby said, slowly, hesitatingly.  You'd think I had asked him for a piece of the Blarney Stone!  (Some would argue I already own a piece.  My dad would argue I ate it.) 

He explained, "We've never really celebrated it before.  And we never celebrated it in my family, when I was a kid."

What a boyo!  At this point in the conversation, I started to think my McHubby is really a McDowner who is trying to snuff out my candle, rain on my parade.  (My St. Patrick's Day parade.  In Chicago.  With a green river.)

"Are we talking about going to the pub?", he asked.

"NO Jamesy, I'm talking about decorating the house with shamrocks and checking out St. Patty's Day books from the library.  I could do some research on the internet, find a couple of cute games and activities for the kids.  We could teach them the history behind the holiday.  We could hide chocolate gold coins around the house and 'hunt for the pot of gold' at the end of the rainbow.  Stuff like that."

No immediate reply.  No excited response.  There was a pause.  I waited.

"You're not going to make corned beef and cabbage, are you?"

I sighed (probably because deep down I know McHubby exhausts me for one simple reason--he can't seem to keep up with my eccentricities).  "No," I said, "we'll order pizza and try to figure out how to make that Irish...while apologizing to the Italians, of course."

With an "alright" from my McMan, I knew I had received the "all clear" to start plotting.  Grand!  I couldn't wait!  Like a leprechaun, I kicked up my heels.  (They do kick up their heels, don't they?)  I'd get in touch with my inner "Galway girl," and the results of tapping in to her (and not any Guinness) would be spectacular!

To be continued...

And in the meantime, I think we'll have Lucky Charms for dinner.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stinky fridge! Stinky housewife?

A couple of days ago, McHubby graciously informed me that, "Aleisha, the refrigerator stinks.  Bad."  So, in all my "domestic goddess" glory I decided to whip out the Lysol Dual Action Scrubbing Wipes (can I just say those things are ahh-mazing) and an empty garbage sack and get to work.

Somewhere between throwing out old hot dogs (at least I think they were hot dogs) and cleaning out the crisper (which contained excellent material for a chem lab), Ms. Lilly walked in to the kitchen:

Ms. Lilly:  "Eew, Mom!  It stinks!"

Mama Lysol:  "I know, Lil."

Ms. Lilly:  "What are you doing?"

Mama Lysol:  "I'm cleaning out the fridge."

Ms. Lilly:  "But you never do that."

Mama Lysol:  "I know, Lil."

Ms. Lilly:  "Well, it smells disgusting."

I thought of something in that moment, as I tossed a bottle of poppy seed salad dressing (that had expired in 2008!!) into my garbage bag:  I stink.  I stink at being a housewife.  I had let the refrigerator go to pot.  My four-year-old had noticed.  Is it possible that...gasp...I might not be a domestic goddess after all?!

As I sat on my kitchen floor--surrounded by moldy produce and FOUR different jars of old salsa--I looked up at my daughter and noticed the raspberry jam that was still on her left cheek, remnants of a breakfast eaten hours ago.  I noticed the wispy strands of hair in her face and her droopy and disheveled ponytail that made her look like a child from a polygamist compound.  She had circles and swirls, drawn in pen, on her hands and arms.  (A princess pen given as a reward for good behavior backfired.)  Ms. Lilly was in as much disarray as my refrigerator, and as I watched her pinch her nose and scowl at me, I realized I might stink at being a mom too.

I tossed barbecue chicken (funny, I don't even remember the last time we had barbecue chicken) and thought about my roles, my life, and how I seem to be clunky and clueless in all of it; bumbling around in a stay-at-home-mom state.  I try to be a rock star housewife!  I certainly do try to keep a clean house.  Sure, the toilets need to be scrubbed and sure, my fairy godmother needs to show up and wave her magic wand and make my soap-scummy shower disappear......but I vacuum.  I do laundry.  So what if the Cam Man has to wear his Halloween costume during the day and Lilly's Tinkerbell pajamas at night before I'll get my act together and do the laundry I've let pile up.  At least I do it, right?

I dust with Pledge.  I grocery shop.  Sometimes I clean out a closet or wash a window or two.  But, I am a bit cluttery and I have a tendency to let the dishes pile up in the sink.  I've been known to hide the stale, barfy smell of crusted-on spaghetti dishes that are two days old, by opening a window and lighting a "Kitchen Spice" candle.

I try to be a rock star mom!  I put bows in Lilly's hair for church on Sunday, to make up for the days during the week she runs around looking like a "Lost Boy" from Peter Pan.  I suppose Cam looks like a Lost Boy too when I take him to Target after lunch, with dried applesauce on his face and peanut butter in his ear.  (Why do I always forget to clean him off beforehand?!)

I try to keep their noses wiped.  I pray Lilly doesn't cuss around my mother.  I hope no one notices the bruise on Cam's head that developed shortly after he hit it on the toilet seat while trying to reach down into the bowl.  I try to scold less and play more.  I play "Chutes and Ladders" with Lilly.  I play peek-a-boo with Cam.  We go to story time at the library.  We make Jello jigglers.  I hug and kiss them often.  Every day, I tell them I love them. 

(Funny how cleaning out a refrigerator can lead to meandering, existential reflection!  These are the things a stinky fridge and a messy kid will make you think about.)

And hey, all I can do is try.  All I can do is my best.

Later, when James got home from work, he noticed the sparkling kitchen and the sloosh and slosh of the dishwasher in action.  He noticed the gleam of the sink's chrome and the clean, sweet smell of the refrigerator and said, "Thank you for cleaning the kitchen and fridge.  Everything looks really great."

What?  Has "domestic goddess" status been reinstated?

And even later, as I was tucking Lilly into her bed--preparatory for her trip to "Slumberland"--she looked up at me and said, "Mom, you are the best."  I gave her a big, noisy SMACK of a kiss on her head.  She said, "Really, Mom.  It's true.  You are the best mom in this whole city.  You're even the best mom on this planet."

Hmm....maybe I don't stink after all.

Bet my refrigerator looks better than yours!!