Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's in a name?

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Romeo and Juliette by William Shakespeare

The name of my blog, “Beyond the Diapers and Spills,” is also the title of a manuscript I wrote a few years ago. It’s about stay-at-home moms - mostly about our daily feelings - not so much about the specifics of diaper changes, colic, baby’s first steps, etc.

I was inspired to write it because people would ask me, “What do you do all day?” Strangers at the mall seemed to be puzzled as I pushed my fully occupied double stroller with another child walking beside it. Some satisfied their curiosity and asked questions, expressing a little surprise when they realized that I wasn’t on maternity leave; that there was no job to go back to in six weeks. It occurred to me that my life was a bit of an anomaly; that lots of people didn’t get it – especially when I stepped outside of small town suburbia.

No job? What about money? Aren’t you bored? Don’t those kids get on your nerves all day?

But there were others who said they’d “stay home” if they could.

So with tape recorder in hand, I interviewed twenty-seven stay-at-home moms (a few worked part time), asking questions about their lives, like, “How do you handle phone time?” and "When you're socializing at an adult party, what do you talk about - your kids, or other interests, too?"
In all, about thirty questions. I learned that there is much diversity in our thoughts, actions, and lifestyles – just as there is with everyone else.

The manuscript got shelved when I discovered blogging – no income, but immediate publication and feedback from readers.

My blog name is meant to reflect my life as a complete person. Being blessed as a mother and having the great duty of taking care of my children is much of my identity, but not all of it. I had to get beyond the diapers and breastfeeding to have this realization, and I would never trade those days. To everything there is a season - Ecclesiastes 3:1.

But lately, I’ve thought about changing the name. When blog surfers see the word “diapers,” do they bolt? I hope that many will stick around because I love hearing from everyone - female, male, parent, non-parent, young, old, from the U.S. and around the world!

How did you come up with your blog name?
If you’re not a blogger, how about your club, band, Bunco group, sports team…? What’s the history behind the name?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Connections to the Past

My seventy-six year old mother has no pictures of her father who died of tuberculosis when she was three years old. Her widowed mother struggled with five children and lost many possessions during a few moves in the following years; pictures included. Mom has pieced her dad’s face together by looking at herself and her brothers and sisters, and by hearing them and her mother describe him.

Fortunately, my parents took pictures of my brother and me as we were growing up, and they managed to hold on to the tattered scrapbooks filled with black and white photos taken in the late fifties and early sixties. How exciting it was for them to be introduced to color soon after.

Because I treasure those old pictures and memories, I’ve inherited an appreciation for pictures, and also for video, letters, and journals. I have several photo albums, lots of video, and the recent addition of digital photos stored on computer hard drives.

My personal journal writing has been on hiatus for five years, but occasionally I write in three journals that I have for each of my daughters. When they were born, I started making entries – not many – just when I thought about it; mainly during bouts of insomnia when I was in my mid-forties.

I tell them how cute they are, about new accomplishments, habits, and difficult times, too.

No insomnia now, and I haven’t carved out time to write to the little darlings much. The last entry was in September, 2009, and prior to that was November, 2008. Still, I enjoy reading the journals; reminiscing.

I know people who run from the camera. (There are days when I do, too.) It may be during a special occasion or just an ordinary day. Sometimes I think, “We’re not here forever. Somebody is going to want to remember what you looked like, what you were interested in, how you felt.” So have pictures taken, write letters, step in the view of the video, leave a journal – don’t let your life have to be pieced together.
Do you have pictures, video, letters, and/or journals from your past?

Friday, January 22, 2010


Laundry is not my friend; never has been. Will we ever form an agreeable relationship?

What is it about laundry that makes it so difficult (for some of us)? I have a washer and a dryer just outside of my bedroom, living comfortably in a small laundry room, complete with two rolling bins and a closet for detergents, cleaning supplies, and miscellaneous.

Two of the three children place their dirty clothes in the sectioned bins, and I know where to find the dirty clothes of the other kid…still working on her.

The husband and I have a laundry basket in our bathroom that gets emptied in with the kids’ laundry when it begins to overflow.

So far, so good.

Okay…the bin with the darks is high. The kids are looking for their favorite jeans in the laundry room. When found, I do the sniff test, run the iron over them, problem.

Well… is a problem.

I’m behind…AGAIN…on the laundry!

I’m waiting to wash a load because the washer is filled with wet clothes that are waiting for the clean clothes in the dryer to be taken out and put on the top of the washer and dryer, but it’s occupied with the clothes that are waiting to be folded and put away, that are waiting for its owners (the kids) to come get’em…which could take an eternity.

So once again, I’m searching for the solution, which I already know, but can’t seem to get implemented.

My friend, Beth, told me that she gets help and motivation from One of the bloggy friends mentioned that site, too.

Another friend, Linda, told me that her boys do their own laundry - and they’re seventeen and fourteen! Talk about envy. My girls do an occasional load when their underwear drawer is empty. They know how to use the washer and dryer; why am I so slow to get them on a schedule?

My friend Robin and I decide to take action to get caught up - one complete load (from the hamper to the drawers/closets) per day. We agree to call or email each other to ask if it’s been started or done. I start off on a roll, and get half caught up. I email her, but no response.

The weekend comes along and I’m behind again, and I know she is too, so I email her and tell her we’ll start fresh on Monday.

Monday arrives, I call her, and she says, “I KNOW YOU’RE NOT CALLING ME ABOUT THAT LAUNDRY!”

Actually, I’m calling her to see if she wants to walk. Talk about sensitive. Umph!

Soooo…I’m going to catch up, then brag to her, and see if she’ll want to be like me, and have laundry bins that are not spilling over.
What's your "domestic chore" challenge?
If you don't have one, it's okay to let the rest of us know that you're perfect. Really. :)
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010


“I don’t know how you do it with three kids, Anita. I only have one, and she keeps us running non-stop.”

A friend said that to me years ago when my daughters were five years old and under. His daughter was eleven and already well seasoned on the activity circuit. I was a new mother, oblivious about what was yet to come.

When my husband and I were dating, we planned to have three children. I was already thirty-six, but somehow I felt that I would conceive easily…it helped that I was able to feel myself ovulating. TMI?

The children came, although not the way I envisioned.
- They were all born by c-section, but…the experiences were not that difficult. (Ignorance is bliss.)
- I thought I would have a boy (for my husband), but…I didn’t, and I don’t miss having one of the precious little testosterone filled creatures. (My nephew comes for a week in the summer, and a few other quick visits during the year. I kinda get the "boy" experience - just a little.)
- When I was in my early twenties, I thought I’d be married before thirty and finished having children before thirty-five, but…I didn’t get married until I was thirty-six, and I still feel like a mother - not a grandmother. :)

Having three children is work. (At one time, I wanted a fourth. Ahhhh!!!!) Having one child is work. Having eight children is work. For many, “trying” to have a child is work, be it physically or by adoption. Still, most of us desire children, knowing all that it involves – joy, fun, nurturing, time, energy, exhaustion, and love; but also sadness, concern, and heartbreak.

I’ve heard moms respond when asked questions about the number of children they have. One mom was asked why her children were so far apart in age. She didn’t actually answer with this quote, but reading between the lines, I heard, “Duh, because I didn’t get pregnant for ten years.”

I was once told that I was microwaving babies, which I didn’t get initially. It had to be explained to me that that meant I was having them quickly. “Ohhhh…” I said. Too bad I didn’t get it at first, because I think it was supposed to be friendly and funny.

Or many of you, I’m sure, have heard, “You’re having another BOY!” (or girl) And what about, “You only have one. Ohhh…”

But there’s also, "I’m so happy for you!” and, “Congratulations!”

I digress.

There was a period where I wondered if I would be a mother. My doubts led me to think of other ways to have a fulfilling life. Just as I was contemplating a huge change, the husband and kids happened.

Just wanted to tell you I’m glad I have my husband and children, even as I enter the teen years. Really…I do. :)
What influenced your decision to have children and how many?
The children of Haiti need our help. Contact your charitable organization of choice if you're willing and able to donate.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Never say what you will never do.

In early 2009, two friends and I were walking and talking. When the facebook subject came up, one friend had no input, and the other (also a blogger) said she’s not interested. I told them that I wasn't interested either, and told them why.

“I know a few people who are on facebook, and they seem to enjoy it. I think they “chat” with their friends and use it to find people from their past. I don’t have any interest in finding people I went to elementary school with, and I don’t have that much time to spend on the computer…blah, blah, blah..”.

In a nutshell, I didn’t get it; I didn’t know why people loooove it.

But that was…then.

Now…I’m beginning to get it.

When I started blogging, I announced my blog to family and friends via email, and added the link to my email signature. As I received replies, at least three people said, “I’m on facebook. Why aren’t you using facebook?”

Still, I was not fazed. Email was serving me well.

But one day, it clicked…I said to myself, “Anita, keep the blog link in your email signature, but also use facebook to let family and friends know of a new post to your blog!”

So…every time I publish a blog post, I pop over to FB and “write it on my wall.”

Example for non FBers: I type, “Today’s blog post is: Ebay,” then I click on “link” and type it in – and "attach." I click on "share," type the security words, submit, and voila! – my message and blog thumbnail (blog post picture) is now on my wall.

When my “friends” (people who I have a facebook link with) sign on, my blog link is on their homepage, ready to be seen with a simple click – although people who have hundreds of friends who update FB constantly, may not see mine unless they scroll down.

If I’m interested in one particular friend or organization, I can go to my “friend list” and click on the icon to see the friend’s wall. Typically, I will browse their “photo album” to see vacation, wedding, and birthday pictures.

The avid FB users write random thoughts on the cold weather and snow, biblical scriptures, vacation tidbits, sports…you name it, they say it. It’s there for any friend to see and comment on, and the comments will be sent to the email inbox of everyone in a particular "conversation" - similar to blogging.

That’s the basics; easy.

I can see the appeal; families all over the country and world share photos and conversations. A friend of mine is selling her daughter’s Girl Scout cookies using FB.

Currently, I only use it for my blog. There is a mail function, but I don’t put anything personal on it; I’m afraid I’ll hit the wrong key and it will be there for all to see - not that my life is that exciting. I don’t play the games, send the hearts, etc. It’s that “lack of time/interest” thing again.

So, PJ at "Seens from the backs of my eyelids," I hope this gives you a little insight into the facebook craze. Thank you for suggesting it as a blog post. I’m not a model user, but who knows…next it could be twitter!

Do you use facebook? What do you use it for?

The media is crediting social networking for its help with the Haiti crisis. If you are able to help, contact your place of worship or your charitable organization of choice.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Heebie-jeebies

I’m on Facebook three times one day, and every time I go to a specific screen, a particular advertisement shows up on the top right side; smaller than a wallet sized picture, but very distracting. I’m grossed out, but see that it's an ad for a massage (I think), then ignore it and move on.

Later, I check back in and there it is again! On the third visit of the day, I realize it has an exit square and I click it. Poof! It’s gone. But, a window comes up to ask what I don’t like about the ad. I type, “It gives me the heebie-jeebies.”

The ad shows a picture of a man’s back in a horizontal position. On it is nine triangular shaped black spots – four sets – one on the right and a matching spot the left, and then a single spot at his center lower back.

I’m itching right now just thinking about it.

I wonder if the advertisement is working for the company. It didn’t work for me because I don’t know whose company is represented. But on the other hand, if I see it again, I’ll probably look before clicking it away, therefore, its name will enter my head and the company will achieve its goal.

Another thing that causes me nausea is a “used” bandage – not a big wrap type – just one of those little beige Band Aid types. Seeing it in a waste basket, on a street or floor, and especially floating in a pool, really creeps me out. Ugh! It doesn’t even have to have the underside, body fluid part exposed; it just does something to me.

All you psychologists out there – can you explain this strange mental condition? Or, anyone else care to take a crack at it? :)

What grosses you out?

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Friday, January 8, 2010


I’m ready to jump on the eBay train! ...I think. Got my two books from the library, and thought about a potential first item to sell – now I just need to figure out how to do it.

In my previous post, Plan and Dreams, I mentioned that my friend Debbie and I were wannabe entrepreneurs back in the late 80s and early 90s. We never got anything off the ground, but what fun we had - brainstorming, researching, experimenting, and dreaming!

Life has changed immeasurably since then, but I still feel a pinch of excitement when thinking about a possible business venture, or even when someone else is doing something brave and new. It’s using ones creativity and independence. That’s why I like writing and reading the blogs, and the comments, too. It’s like having an unlimited connection to the world.

My eBay goal is simple. I want to sell some of the stuff in my house.

We’ve been blessed with a lot of stuff, but everything has its season, and after the season is over, it should go…not to the back of a closet, not to the attic, not to the basement, not in a cabinet, not in the trunk of a car, not to the garage, and not collecting dust within my view. It should go out the door – off the property.

If you’ve read my past posts, Collector or Packrat? and/or Decluttering #1 (because there will be a #2), you know that “stuff” is a recurring theme with me. So…in addition to giving things to charity, and trashing, eBay is coming on board.

What I hope to accomplish is to get my three daughters involved in all aspects of the process - taking photos, uploading, watching the bidding, packaging, mailing, etc. They will be more willing to get rid of their stuff (I hope), but more important, they will get some business experience; another exploration to help them figure out what they want to do as self-sufficient adults, living in their “own” homes.

So, I’ll be getting on the computer soon, figuring out PayPal, and whatever else I need to make the first dry run.

Wish me luck!

Are you an eBay buyer or seller? Give me all the advice you can! :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Plans and Dreams

I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions. Most of the specific things I said I would accomplish during a particular year did not happen. Simple things - like taking care of the mail everyday so that it doesn’t pile up. Difficult things - like finishing a manuscript and getting a literary agent. These are only two examples.

What I “do” hold on to, though, are my plans and dreams. I’m learning how to enjoy the journey of life without putting so much pressure on myself to “be” and to “do.”

A very good friend and I used to dream and plan our lives as future entrepreneurs. We dibbled and dabbled with ideas for seven years. Eventually, we went in different directions. I married and had children; she separated from her husband and began a new career (steady job with benefits) with a state government agency.

Reality struck both of us.

I learned from my relationship with Debbie. She spent so much time and energy chasing illusions. It was like, desperation - stemming from childhood issues, insecurity, and a bad marriage. She’d build herself up so high with an idea and the work she’d put into it, and then deflate like air coming out of a balloon when the idea failed - and then depression would creep in. But I give her credit – she was strong-willed during those wannabe-entrepreneur days. Somehow, she’d bounce back and do it all over again with another idea.

I’m not against New Year’s Day resolutions. I’m sure there are lots of people that find it helpful to make a commitment on January 1, and many are successful by year-end. For you, I sincerely congratulate you on your diligence.

For me, December 31 just flows right into January 1. Nothing changes overnight, but my plans and dreams are still with me, producing delightful little images that motivate me throughout the day when I need to get beyond that feeling of being overwhelmed.

Sometimes those plans and dreams can change before the day is even over, and I can evade the feeling of failure (didn't get that laundry done), and get excited all over again.

So I’m a little fickle.

Think back to five or ten years ago. Are you on the path that you thought you’d be on? Have you succeeded at the plans and resolutions you made in the 1990s or early 2000s?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cookie Jars

The first Santa cookie jar arrived in 1994. It was filled with the best home-made chocolate chip cookies ever, baked by my mother-in-law, Ruby. Little did we know - it was the start of a Christmas gift tradition.

For the next few years, we took Santa for a visit to Ruby’s house, where he’d get a fill of the delicious cookies, then return to the kitchen counter of his sweets-loving owners. (One of us has since reformed.)

After a few years, Ruby (now Grandma Ruby) filled and delivered a new cookie jar - a sophisticated, top hat wearing snow man.

One of our annual Christmas season visitors is Jim. He’d seen the first Santa displayed prominently every year, and decided to give him a companion, a snowman with a stylish blue and white matching hat and scarf.

Jim is Italian, so he named the snowman Tony Torrone and filled it with Italian candy - I think it was Barone’s or something like that.

Unbeknownst to each other, the two snowmen showed up the same Christmas.

A year or two later, Nutcracker Santa arrived carrying his candy cane and his bag of gifts, but most importantly, the nut-filled chocolate chip cookies.

It was the last cookie jar from Grandma Ruby. She died in 2003. The cookie jars are one of many things that give us daily memories of her.

Jim (now Uncle Jim) continued the tradition. Two more Santas would join the family in recent years.

The gold ball on the end of Santa’s hat had a little accident, but thanks to super glue, his outfit is back to perfection.

The array of cookie jars began drawing attention and remarks from our holiday visitors. One of our young visitors, Nirali, gifted my daughter Hayley with a penguin cookie jar. It was black and white with a yellow beak, until Hayley decorated it with colorful markers included in the package.

On two other Christmases, Uncle Jim broke the trend of the more common Santas and snowmen, by switching over to a moose and a reindeer. The reindeer has a big red nose, perhaps in honor of Rudolf. The moose is missing an antler. Hayley’s pitching arm was a little “off,” which caused the moose’s antler to break “off.” Maybe we’ll super glue it back on before it hibernates until next December.

Check out this snowman from Jim; isn’t he regal?

A couple of years ago, Uncle Jim began to fill the cookie jars with butter balls, made with his mother’s recipe.

My husband and Jim kinda have this “guy thing” going on. Each Christmas they give each other a gag gift. This year we received Maxine into the family. She came from an antiques store, so she’s peeling a little, but she’s welcome too.

The latest Uncle Jim cookie jar is our “Twas The Night Before Christmas” edition. It was an attractive centerpiece for our dining room table during our New Year’s Eve dinner with family and friends.

Hope you enjoyed the cookie jar tour!

p.s. In memory of my husband’s alma mater, another character cookie jar existed with the school’s emblem on it, but met with its demise, caused by yours truly. Oops.

What do you have “a lot of” that people notice when they come to your home?

My post titled "Passion" received heartfelt comments and was said to be one of the most thought provoking. Read it (the comments, too) to see what comes to your mond. Add it to the post if you'd like.
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