Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Such a Small Thing

This is a picture of a piece of peanut Colin found tonight in his ice-cream sprinkles (always ordered "on the side"). The last time there was a trace of nut in something from an ice-cream shop he accidently ate it and we had to administer an Epi pen and spent a couple hours in the ER. Based on that experience, Colin has a heightened sense of look-out that tops even his parents. There he is happily eating his sprinkles and he pulls out this little nut and says, "Look! I found a nut!" I examined it and praised my child for being so smart and so alert. This tiny little piece of nut, such a small thing, could literally kill my child. I stand amazed and grateful for this time of grace (again!). Our lives are so fragile. Our time is so uncertain. Our care for our own humanity is so truly careless. 

Sunday, August 17, 2008


If you read my blog at all, you know that I know that I have too much stuff. Let me give you a brief summary. JD and I married late in life. We combined two entire households. When we first married we have 14 wooden spoons, 2 coffee pots, 2 toasters, 6 9x13 pans, 3 sets of silverware, 2 sets of dishes and pots and pans, three beds, 5 couches, etc. But we also bought a new big house together and it all fit. We got rid of some things but for the most part, we just found a place to put it all. We were married 4 years and through those years bought more, then we had a kid and it is difficult to measure the amount of "stuff" that comes with one of those. Then we moved from Las Vegas to Dallas. We didn't downsize but instead increased our living space by 1000 square feet. We were under the sickness of needing to fill that space too and instead of getting rid of anything we got more. Then we are called to CA where we had to downsize 2000 square feet. We had a huge~!!~ garage sale and I thought we got rid of a lot of stuff until we tried to "fit" into the little house in CA and I realized that no, we didn't have a lot of stuff, we instead had a ridiculous mountain of crap. Over a year we got rid of more and more in order to fit a car into the garage. We rented some storage and got things under control. Then we just moved and again, we arrived at the house, organized and found more things that didn't need. We were burdened with stuff so we had two different piles taken away by charity and had a garage sale and got rid of more. We are now down to a normal level of crap and the storage. I'm going to have another garage sale and get rid of it all. But in the end, I know we will still have a lot of stuff. 

Recently, a lot of people I know have moved, including us. One of my pals just moved into her brand new house and has commented on the amount of kitchen stuff she has and didn't realize she had and wondered where it all came from and is probably wondering where it all is going to go. Another friend just moved and her kitchen in the new place is significantly smaller where storage is concerned over her last place and is in the dilemma of what to do with the rest of the stuff. She and her husband are realizing that they have a lot of stuff as they are trying to reconfigure their lives into a new house. 

It's a common disease of Americans that I now call "Alottastuff". Everyone's got some of it. There are stages like cancer. There are also a lot of people who don't realize they have it but enjoy giving others a hard time about theirs. For example, when JD and I moved into the current house, our neighbors across the street were watching because that's what you do when new people arrive into your territory, you watch them to see how weird they're going to be. In a conversation with the husband of this couple he said to me, "Saw ya move in. You guys got a lotta stuff." Really!? I of course didn't say what I was thinking but said, "I know. We're learning to downsize but we've had to learn in stages. Came from Dallas...blah blah blah". He said, "Oh, yeah, we've lived here over 14 years." This is what I was thinking but didn't say, "You think I have Alottastuff? You're the pot calling the kettle black. Have you looked around your house lately? You, my friend are going to die from Alottastuff if you're not careful." I happen to be in the entryway of their house borrowing some baking soda for a cake I was making (the @**#% friendship bread). 

Then another neighbor who was doing a handyman job for me commented again. "Boy, you guys have a lot of stuff". Classic. This guy just had his first kid. He has no idea the "stuff" he's about to have in his life and house. Wanted to tell this guy, "You just wait pal. Just wait until you realize the stage of Alottastuff you have. Then we'll talk!

My point? Not really sure other than I'm tired of people telling me I have Alottastuff when they have no idea about their own. Take the plank out of your own eye before you comment on the speck in mine! We all got it. And if you think you don't, here's a criterion for you to measure your stage of Alottastuff. 

Just got out of college - stage 1
Just got married the first time - stage 2
Just got married the second time - stage 4
Just moved from an apartment to a house - stage 2
Just had your first kid - stage 3
Lived in a house more than one year - stage 2
Lived in a house more than 5 years - stage 3
Lived in a house more than 10 years - stage 4 (there is no stage 5)
If you're sentimental about your crap - stage 4
If you can't throw stuff out because "you might need it some day" - stage 4
If you redecorate often - stage 4
If you have off-site storage - stage 3 or 4 depending on the size of storage
If you have a garage but can't fit a car in - stage 4
If you work from home - stage 4
If you're a pile person - stage 4
If you spill from the master closet into the guest closet - stage 3 or 4
If you own more than 100 pair of shoes - stage 4
If you have a hobby - stage 3 or 4
If you live in over 500 sq ft - stage 2 or higher
If you have more than one vehicle in your family - stage 3 or 4
If you have more than one child - stage 3 or 4
If you have grandchildren - stage 4
If you can combine any of the above - stage 4

You got it. Admit it. You're plagued with the disease Alottastuff. Searching for a cure. Maybe I'll start a support group. In the meantime. Get rid of some stuff people. It feels good. If you don't know where to start, try moving. That'll reveal your stage of disease, I guarantee it. Hi, my name is Celeste Cunningham and I have Alottastuff.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mom, where's my....?

I have a husband and I have a son. They are of the same breed of most family members in America where they know the Mom knows and if she doesn't know then no one knows. I hear this phrase more than any other: "Mom (or Sugie) where's my ....?" It fascinates me on two accounts. One, that they think I know where the misplaced item is, and two; that I almost always do. I attribute this incredible knowledge of the location of all things to the fact that I'm usually the one that put it where ever it is. But even if I didn't, I have (as all mothers do) the ability to observe the household as a living breathing thing that keeps its occupants' things like secrets. Therefore, I have a pulse on the house and all things in it, hence, I typically know the answer to the question, "Mom, where's my....?" I also have an instinct of where one of my boys will have usually put something down without realizing it and then later wonder where it went and regardless of where that is, they know Mom will know if asked.

Today, Colin had a juice cup with white grape juice in it. He of course had laid it down somewhere and decided that he was thirsty and asked for more. The following was the conversation: 

Colin: Mom, can I have more juice? 
Me: Where's your cup?
Colin: I don't know.
Me: You're going to need your cup for more juice.
Colin: I'll get another one.
Me: No, find the one you just had. I believe it's blue.
Colin: It's lost.
Me: It's probably in your play room.
Colin: No, it's lost. 
Me: Go look for it. 
Colin: You find it. It's lost. 
Me: What do I get if I find it? 
Colin: The cup!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Great Water Battle

It's innate. Born in them. They just know. To fight. To protect. To battle. To explore. To adventure. Boys need no teacher. They just know and every time I get a demonstration of it I marvel. I love that I have a boy. I'm a girl and grew up with a bunch of sisters so watching a boy be a boy makes me laugh out loud with joy. 

Colin is a warrior. He is enamored with super heros, the bad and the good, weapons, fighting and battles. Everything can be a gun or a sword. Action figures are cool. The latest spy gear toys fished from the endless McDonald's happy meal plastic river of paraphernalia is high on his list of cool things that have to be in the "take with us" bag. If we go to Disneyland he wants a gun or "light saver" from the Star Wars collection. The child has only seen 15 minutes of one of the six episodes. He has no idea who any of these people are or he at least didn't until we went to the Jedi Training Class in Tomorrowland. Now he's very aware of Darth, Storm Troopers, Jedi Knights, and that ugly red and black dude. Thank you Disney. Thank you very much! UGGG! Anyway he wants the gear so he can shoot bad guys. Just the other day I said in my rare sweet tone, "Get in the car baby, we need to go." He retorted with great authority, "I'm not a "baby",  I'm a super hero!" Of course you are, let me rephrase, "Get in the car super hero!" 

Anyway, this latest trip to Disneyland I watched my son fight a battle. He was extremely serious about this battle and at the same time I watched the element of surprise cause great glee. He fought, chopped, karate kicked, stabbed, sliced, and destroyed the spitting water fountain in the bug's life section of California Adventure. The water became the enemy and he was there to fight. It was a water battle as ferrous as a white squall. 

Take that!
And That!
I Fight Water!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Little Ducklings

Yesterday, I had the privilege of knowing what it might feel like to have twins. Tanner and Colin (only 4 mo apart) were together all day as Tanner's parents and sibling were out doing the tourist thing in Hollywood. Knowing Tanner would be bored out of his mind I suggested the little kids stay with me and we would do some fun things and make dinner for the group when they got home. 

Now I've never kept Tanner so although he was okay with the idea, he was leary of me. He's seen my military approach to discipline and knows deep down that I don't put up with much crap. But I promised we would have a fun day and he and Colin would have a great time. And I know that all kids are better for other adults than they are for their own parents so I expected Tanner to have a perfect day. I was right. 

Tan and Colin played perfectly together. We went to the grocery store. They ran around and I shopped for dinner needs. We also picked up some Cherrios to feed to the ducks. While at the deli counter, the man asked, "How old are they?" I said, 3 1/2 and 4. He looked at them, looked at me and then with compassion in his eyes said, "You have a nice day Miss." I said thanks and was happy he didn't feel the need to call me "Mam". 

The next stop was the duck pond / play ground. They had a ball feeding the ducks. It was so fun to watch. They played on the playground stuff, etc. We went to McDonald's for lunch and played some more on the air conditioned play ground and they climbed and climbed. Played hide and seek with the other kids. Ate all their lunches. Never once fought or complained. So for that, I drove across the street to the 99 cents store. Told them they could have two things each. Had to talk Colin out of a kitchen timer that I was pretty sure wasn't working properly and was not a toy. Then we came home and they played and played some more. Ended the day in the bathtub and soaked the floor (good opportunity to get it cleaned) and went to bed tired, full and happy. 

It was a good day. Had fun with two little ducklings trailing behind all day. 

Saturday, August 9, 2008


About 2 years or less ago JD and I were discussing how his T-shirts were getting stretched out by hanging on wire hangers and plastic hangers and a miscellaneous collection that for the most part just pissed me off and looked cheap. We had a variety of hangers but mostly our clothes were hung on wire hangers. Mommy Dearest would've shat her panties. Also, important to the story, I don't fold anything that will eventually have to be ironed in order to be worn, so since JD's main wardrobe is jeans and t-shirts, I iron and hang everything as it comes out of the dyer. I don't like to iron everyday, I like to get it done once and move on. (We can talk about my need for therapy later.) Anyway, one day while in Home Depot I spotted wooden hangers and wondered if those might preserve both the t-shirt quality and my ironing. I purchased many and took them home excited to try my idea. 

A week or so went by and I felt that the hangers were doing their job as I was keeping my eye on two or three troublesome tees. They were staying in place and the way the wooden hanger was made, kept them in a better position to preserve the neck line as well as the shoulders. Another thing was all the shirts hung at the same level and actually looked cool. You were also able to finally see everything you had without moving the shirts through an assembly line because they hung too close together. It looked like something out of a magazine or some closet store ad or The Container store pics. I was hooked or in this case, hanged. I decided I was going to transfer the entire closet. 

You should be coughing a little. This was not a cheap transformation. This was a major expense. Each hanger works out to be about fifty cents. But I tell you, when the job was complete and I walked into my closet it made my heart happy! I already color coded and hung each item the same way, by category, all ironed and neat but when they were on the wooden hangers, hanging at the exact same level, very little could top such beauty. Mommy Dearest would've been proud!

Fast forward to about six months ago. My friend decided she needed to do the same to her closet to, get this, "help sell the house" that was about to go on the market. Her husband points out, "as if!" but he complied with her wishes and she also transformed her closet. Then she moved, here. This was first of June. Her closet here is all wooden hangers, looking pretty, etc. 

So, last night, her family and another family from out of town visiting, were at our house for a cook-out, fire-pit, summer night of fun. As it came time to light up the fire pit to have our dessert of smores, it occurred to me, as JD asked if we have anything to roast the marshmallows on, that we have no wire hangers. We have nothing of the kind. "NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!" I had sworn them off forever. The discussion went on of what to do, my friend's house was obviously of no good. Then the out-of-town guest asked, "Don't any of you people ever go to the cleaners?" I love it when the obvious is spoken. Now remember that in my house the wardrobe requirement for JD's job is jeans, tees, and flip flops. So, no actually, we don't go to a cleaners. I am the cleaners. But my friend is reminded of a handful of dress-shirts that her husband used to wear everyday and were professionally dry-cleaned and that were still on the beloved and coveted wire hangers. I say used to wear because he now has the same kind of job where his wardrobe consists of jeans, tees and shoe of choice. So these particular shirts were picked up, packed, moved, unpacked, hung in the closet and promptly forgotten about. Also, I must mention in defense of my friend who spent unnecessary money to make the closet look good in order to "help sell the house," her husband now appreciates the preservedness of his tees on the wooden hangers. 

Saved. The kids could have their smores. So could the adults for that matter. The evening not lost.

The moral of the story? Other than roasting something over a fire or unlocking a car door from the 1960's, I cannot think of a good use for wire hangers. So if you decide to transform your closet and rid yourself of all wire hangers,  this is a little note to keep a few of the wire hangers in the back of your closet for those "just in cases" so as not to get hanged at a dinner party. 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance

If by some chance you have happened to check to see if I'm still alive, I am. Instead of a monologue of where I've been (I'll do that later), I thought it would be more fun for you to see this.... 

TV does and will have a great influence on your children. Be careful what you let them watch. Due to SYTYCD, my child thinks so indeed. Using his American Idol toy from McDonald's that's at least two years old, he does "his moves" for me on camera.