Friday, October 30, 2009

The Day the Grim Reaper Came to Visit Cinderella

I'm happy to report that after this photo was taken, Cinderella beat the tar out of the Grim Reaper with her magic wand. Bippedy, Boppedy, Boo!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's the Small Things

I tend to get easily overwhelmed when I think of motherhood on a large scale. I start to hyperventilate when I think of Hannah as a college student, or when I think of Cassie dating. When I wonder if there is some big something that I might forget to teach them, or show them, or a tradition that I forget to start, I panic. It's also hard work, really hard.

But when I squint I can't see the big, scary stuff anymore, and instead I see the way Hannah's little legs swing and dangle in the chair while she sings to herself, and I beg myself to remember the way her sweet arms feel around my neck when she leans over to give me a kiss, or how very soft and plump her cheeks are when I kiss her. I see the way she makes up beautiful names for annoying weeds (bumble-fuzzies) and picks them to save "forever and ever because they are so beautiful."

I love it that she thanks God for Build a Bear Workshop and for gum in the same breath that she thanks Him for her family and the "wonderful day." My heart almost bursts when she asks me if I will always be her Mommy, even when she is an old lady. It makes me so happy to be able to say, "Yes, I will always be your Mommy."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Organizing Myself

I swear this is not my binder. The person that created this binder is seriously ill, but I feel certain they work at a Barnes & Noble store somewhere!

How could I have let this happen? I am typically a very organized person. I love all things school supplyish and can spend hours in Staples just petting binders, notepads, and planners. So how is it that I have a mess of a blog that is not organized in any way? I see nice, organized blogs with categories and think, "Oh yes, I must do that some day." Then I never do. Instead I think, "Oh, that's a good idea for a blog post. Wait! Didn't I already write about that?" Then begins the search through all the old posts until I forget what I wanted to write about and instead spend the time reminiscing. I guess it's now time. Be prepared to be wowed with the level of organization coming from this blog!

Friday, October 23, 2009

As Seen On T.V.

Hannah is obsessed with the Touch N Brush hand-free toothpaste dispenser. I'm not sure why, but apparently (based on an informal survey) most 3-4 year olds feel the same way. I'm convinced that there is a subliminal message in the commercial that forces children to include this item on their Christmas List. Don't forget that you can also upgrade to the deluxe chrome model:

At least she isn't asking for these:

The always stylish Metal Detecting Sandals

Friday, October 16, 2009

Inappropriate Things To Do at Barnes & Noble

  1. Talk on your cell phone while in the bathroom, while going to the bathroom.
  2. Yell at an employee while turning in an application.
  3. Bring a large group to the cafe and smush all the tables together, then spread out your ChicFilA bags.
  4. Pick out every decorating book that is in stock and leave them piled on your table until 5 minutes after closing time.
  5. Drop your children off while you shop next door at T.J. Maxx.
  6. Spill your decaf soy white chocolate extra hot mocha all over a table of books and not tell anyone (I know who you are!)
  7. Stay in the store after you hear the closing announcement, then tell me that you are "Wrapping things up."
  8. Take off your shoes and curl up in our cushy chairs. I don't know how to clean toe jam off cushy chairs.
  9. Ask me where the copy machines are.
  10. Try to convince me of the wonderfulness of the Kindle while at the customer service desk.
  11. Act like you know more about espresso than any other person could ever know. Coffee is coffee, dude.
  12. Hide books in my store because you are reading them and you don't want anyone to purchase them, then get annoyed when we put them back in their proper locations.
  13. Steal
  14. Lie
  15. Be mean to my employees.
  16. Be mean to me.
  17. Buy a piece of cheesecake and leave the best part.
  18. Act like I'm a dummy because I don't know the book you are asking for. You know, that one that you claim is a bestseller? There are a gajillion bestseller lists out there, people.
  19. Repeatedly tell me that you are in a hurry. This tends to slow me down.
  20. Ignore me when I smile and say hello, as if I am just a piece of the cash register.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Ex-Wife

I married a man with 3 children and an ex-wife. I naively thought my challenge would be with the children. It didn't take long to discover that the power lies with the ex. I realized that if this was going to work, I was going to have to take her on as well. This is by far the most challenging relationship I have ever, and probably will ever, have. There's a lot of good that comes from having an ex-wife; you have an instant co-mother to help with the difficult decisions and troubling conversations with the kids. She can take care of homework struggles with one child while I handle texting restrictions with another. Then we swap when one mom becomes ineffective. We can gang up on them when the power begins to shift a bit in their direction. We talk often just to touch base and relate any incidents that may have occurred, big or small, so that we can provide at least a little bit of consistency in their inconsistent worlds.

I realized pretty early on that I was going to have to set some boundaries for myself with this relationship: I never talk smack about my ex-wife, and although I don't know for certain what happens at her house, I get the feeling that she holds her tongue as well. One of the first lessons I learned as a new parent is that there is no room for ego. There are days when I feel a little bit like the jealous, unloved, evil stepmother and am tempted to say something snarky about their mom. And although it might make me feel better for a millisecond, ultimately, all I have done is criticized, out loud, the person they love more than anyone (except maybe their dad!) and how can that ever turn out good for anyone? Another rule I made was to never talk smack about my husband to my ex-wife. Tempting? Oh, of course, who else understands his quirks and weirdness on the same level? But as tempting as it is, I will always remain on his side. Which brings me to the other line I had to draw: I sometimes have to remind myself that we are not friends. I tend to get chummy quickly. I love talking to people, especially women with whom I have a lot in common, so it is only natural for there to be a level of friendship. But truly, that is not the appropriate relationship for us to have. I'm not sure that it is even very practical.

I remember being a year into my marriage and a year into my relationship with my ex-wife when I asked her for a performance evaluation. Coming from the corporate world, I was used to being reviewed on an annual basis and I wanted the same from her. I believe I even started the conversations by saying, "Well, it's been a year now, I was just wondering if you feel there are areas in which I need to improve?" I was prepared for the feedback, but all I got was an uncomfortable giggle as she told me that everything was just fine. How can I reach my goal of Best Stepmom Ever in the Entire Universe without some constructive criticism? After all, just 12 short months ago, I had been a very single girl raising two cats in my own home. Now I was a part time mother of 3 with a new husband and a new ex-wife, there had to be a learning curve.

Of course, having an ex-wife is not as glamourous as it sounds. After all, she is an ex-wife for a reason. The main reason being she dislikes my husband. A lot. So imagine, you have this person that you talk with daily about your children but she doesn't like your husband and your husband definitely doesn't like her. And while I'm grateful for that fact (since otherwise I couldn't have him!) it is hard. Also, while we agree, or at least can come to some good compromises regarding how to raise our children, we absolutely will never agree on the logistics. It just won't happen. We both want more time with the kids. This is really the only uncomfortable area in our relationship. This is when things get heated and she begins to talk with her hands and my neck gets red and splotchy. After we hold our biannual calendar discussions of summer break and Christmas vacation we generally need some space for awhile. We will go to our corners for a week or so until something comes up that requires direct conversation. Slowly things become "normal" again.

Another down side is that decisions are made via committee and my ex-wife has ultimate veto power. I believe for most parents if you think your kid needs a haircut, you just go get their hair cut. Not in this scenario. Maybe my ex-wife has a master plan for bang growth, or all-one-length-hair that I am not aware of. Most parents can register their kids for activities without committee approval. Or better yet, decide to not sign their kids up if you think everyone just needs a break from running here and there.

It's strange thing. We are a family; a big, weird, magnet family, where the strongest attraction is with whomever is the closest. Our job is to ensure that these kids are happy, secure, well cared for, and loved. At the end of the day I think they are lucky to have such a team of people working for them.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Symmetrical Face, An Asymmetrical Face

Stitches were removed today followed by a flu shot, because the Boddekers know how to party. Dr. Kniery was on vacation so he got to be the hero and poor Dr. Garrett had to be the fall guy (girl.) Hannah dictated a letter to me for Dr. Kniery that said (in her most proper voice) "Please may you come back and fix me when I am sick? Thank you, Hannah" Then she drew telescopes all over it. I think because Cassie learned about telescopes last week in school, but maybe because she loves telescopes. I don't know. Whatever, at least she has matching scars. I love symmetry.
The Scar of 2008

The Scar of 2009

Can we all hope for no scar of 2010? Please?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


We just got back from a whirlwind trip to Chicago! We were only there for 4 days, but we packed in as much as possible. We arrived Saturday afternoon and after checking in to the hotel and getting unpacked (sort of) we decided to walk to dinner. I brought several umbrellas with us, so even though it was raining we arrived intact. We started ordering when Hannah decided to check out things on her own and fell on the wet floor. She cut her head pretty deep and of course there was blood everywhere. Paul kept pressure on the wound with a billion napkins, Christian ran out and hailed a cab (I'm not sure how he knew to do this, t.v. maybe?) Holly and Cassie covered their eyes and for some reason I grabbed a cup and filled it to the very top with ice. Now you all know to NOT go to the Boddeker women during an emergency. We rushed to the ER where Hannah was quickly stitched up. We ate at the hospital cafeteria that night.

Even after all the drama, we found time to go to Navy Pier to ride the Ferris Wheel and watch the fireworks. Paul was in heaven after finding a McDonald's inside the food court there. He is a man of simple tastes.

The next day we headed to Lincoln Park Zoo. The monkeys and seals were our favorite (based on the informal survey I took on the drive home.) We spent a good 4 hours there until everyone was sick of animals.

Hannah fell asleep in the cab on the way to the Hancock Building and slept through lunch entirely. The view was great from the table, but even better from the women's room.

Holly and I ventured out to Michigan on our own for some serious shopping while the rest of the kids and Paul went swimming back at the hotel.

That night we ate at Ed Debevic's, a really fun, inexpensive place where the servers are quite smart mouthed and really cater to the kids. Their motto is, "Eat, Pay, Get Out!" It just happened to be their 25th anniversary so we also got free cupcakes for everyone!!

The Field Museum was next on our agenda.

We spent a long 5 hours there and still missed most of one floor. Someone (I can't remember who) told me that going through the museum with kids was going to be pretty quick, and they were right. It was Paul who slowed us down...way down. He was interested in everything so he had to read every single sentence. It is a beautiful museum, and much to Paul's delight, again came equipped with it's very own McDonald's. Oy. This night we finally got to eat some real deep dish Chicago style pizza from Gino's East. The most delicious pizza I have ever had!!! The kids loved it and especially enjoyed being allowed to write on the walls.

The next day, and our last, we went to the free day at the Shedd Aquarium. This was a pretty quick tour because we all wanted to spend some time on Michigan Ave. Cassie had been patient long enough and this was finally her day for American Girl Place. We started with a full bag of wish list items, then narrowed down to three stacks, "Can't live without", "Christmas or birthday lists" and "Never mind." She did a really good job of thinking things through and budgeting her money. She has been doing extra jobs around the house for months now to save up so I was pleased with the outcome. (As pleased as I can be while purchasing a sleeping bag for a doll.)
Christian had a field day at the Hershey store and got a tin bucket filled to the brim with his favorites. We went to Niketown and found him some shirts and a cool bag.

At the Disney store Hannah got a tiny, pink, princess soccer ball. Holly and I bought some makeup and Paul got a new coat. Exhausted, we went to Portillo's for dinner. Later that night we rode the subway just for the fun of it.

We couldn't consider our tour of Chicago complete without going to the......wait for it........ yes folks, the 3 story McDonald's for desert. Paul had been dying to step foot inside so I had to grant him his one Chicago wish.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Lucky Girl

My friend and her husband has a foster child living with them. This little girl has come to them from a world of hurt, literally. She is cuddly and is aching for love and affection and really just for someone to pay attention to her. My heart hurts for her; for the system that she is a victim of and for the future that she has if she is forced back to her mother.

But what really amazes me is the act of selflessness shown by her foster parents. These people signed up for a job that is 24/7 and heartbreaking. But what they are doing for this little girl is going to shape her life forever. Hopefully she will stay with her foster family for a long time, but if she doesn't, she is being given the best possible communication and reasoning tools for the future. She is seeing for the first time in her little 6 year old life a family with a mom and dad who love each other and stay together no matter what. She is seeing faith in action. She has expectations to live up to and consequences if she does not. For now, she is a very lucky girl.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm Annoyed with my Chocolate

I love Dove Dark Chocolates. When I was in the hospital after having Hannah I had quite a bad bout with postpartum depression. The nurse practitioner prescribed dark chocolate daily and since I take my health and doctor recommendations very seriously, I have followed orders and consumed one square of dark chocolate daily. Since one square is good for you, occasionally I have 2 squares, sometimes if I want to feel really good I have a third piece. But the problem (other than the expanding waistline) is the annoying messages that Dove feels the need to include in my treat..ahem...medicine:

"Do one more thing than you think you possibly can today" Seriously? I don't need pressure when I eat my chocolate.
"Send flowers to your best friend" Mary Jo, I love you. But I can't afford to send you flowers every time I eat chocolate. I'd be broke, and your house will look like a funeral parlor.
"Start a good habit today" I know they mean exercise, but they can't really say exercise because, you know, they make chocolate.
"Take a bubble bath" Well, I'm at WORK. Work is not conducive to bathing.

I hate my chocolates.
Yummy chocolates.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Playing "Neighbor"

Hannah and I play a lovely game of pretend just about every day. She calls it "neighbor." Here's how it goes:
Hannah is in her "house" acting busy and talking to herself in a low voice. I am supposed to knock on the door. She takes her time answering because obviously she is busy doing something. Then we introduce ourselves and shake hands. We usually exchange some pleasantries such as, "Very nice to meet you, ma'am". She explains to her neighbor (me) that she was making an apple pie for us to eat. Although I never get to actually eat this pie because she tells me that it is too hot. Always. Sometimes she tells me that she burned it. Too bad.
This game ends when one of us gets bored (usually Hannah because I can pretend all day!)

We also play "Customer" quite often. The type of store changes depending on where we are. Upstairs in the play area we have a table set up with all her plastic food and a toy cash register. I always have to be the grocery shopper and Hannah is always the cashier. I load my basket up with pizza slices, cookies, bell pepper and eggs and go up to the cashier who helps me put them into old Walmart bags. Again, we exchange pleasantries and more often then not I invite the cashier over to my house for dinner. (This is very similar to how my mom's real life shopping experiences end.) We discuss her children (she named them Stick and Toots) and mine and then the game is over.

Sometimes "Customer" takes place in a pretend Cafe very similar to Barnes & Noble. Hannah is the cafe server who makes me drinks and scones. Don't bother asking for anything special to go with that because this cafe is bare bones. One time I asked for a fork and was told, "I'm afraid we don't have forks, only spoons." I asked for butter and again, "I'm afraid we are all out of butter."

I'm usually all about the make believe games and like to encourage them. I'm thinking maybe I've gone a little overboard. The other day Hannah told me that she and Cassie play a game called "Poacher and Baby Jaguar." Not. Good.