Two weeks

11 Aug

That’s when we leave to take Mr. T to school. Never mind. I’m going back to my happy place in downtown denial.

On a side note, on a scale of 1 to pure evil, how bad is it that I resent my neighbor’s sister’s cancer because it means I am now stuck with the care of my other neighbors’ cat while they’re on vacation for 10 days? Maybe don’t answer that.

Rip Van Bythelbs

27 Jun

I am continually surprised by the passage of time. How is that even possible? Being continually surprised? What kind of idiot does not eventually stop being surprised by the same thing happening over and over?  This kind, apparently, because here I am all, “Dude, where has the time gone??” Seriously.

It’s 9 am. I woke up at 6:30 am and could not get back to sleep, so I’ve spent the past 150 minutes reading trashy romance novels, watching inane youtube videos, reading exhaustive blog posts about annoying and exhaustive subjects, peeking at a couple non-exhaustive and non-annoying blog posts (thank you, madhousewife), and finally ending up here. I was curious to see just how long it had been since I had posted anything. Did you know this is my first post in 2014?? Good. Honk.

So what am I doing here, you ask? Or maybe you’re not asking. You’re probably not asking because you’re probably not reading because why on earth after 9 months of silence would you think to check in at Bythelbsia, in which case I am just talking to myself which is really nothing new. And I’m okay with that because I really like listening to me sometimes. Have you ever gone back and read your old blog posts or old journals or old letters and been completely enamored of yourself? No? It’s just me? Sometimes I go back and read old blog posts or comments and think, “Ahhh, there you are. I’ve missed you, my funny, witty, thoughtful, slightly more interesting than not friend.” (Yes, I am still speaking to myself.) Seriously, it’s a healthy exercise to remind yourself you are more than the trashy romance novel reading, inane youtube video watching, exhaustive and annoying blogpost devouring waste of space you’ve been pretending to be for the past however many months it’s been since you’ve done anything more constructive than keep your children alive.

Wow. I am beginning to sound like I am in a not so wonderful place, which is really inaccurate. I am in a could be more wonderful place, which is entirely different.

Tomorrow I leave on vacation.  I am overwhelmed by the volume of tasks I have to accomplish in the less than 24 hours I have until departure.  Overwhelmed.  I am drowning in whelm.  I think I’m feeling a lot of pressure to make this vacation good because it is entirely possible this is the last summer vacation the entire Bythelbs clan will take together.   Mr. T graduated two weeks ago and will be heading off to university (I love the way foreigners say university) in the fall and has plans to leave next summer on a two year mission for our church.  I guess it’s unlikely that our family will NEVER vacation together again, but it is possible.  And it’s very possible this will be the last time we’ll vacation together as the family we are now.  Next time we could be saddled with annoying spouse in-laws or obnoxious grandchildren (what the frick? Did someone just say grandchildren??).  Things may never be the same again.  (And now I can’t stop singing, “I keep forgettin’ we’re not in love anymore.  I keep forgettin’ things will never be the same again.”  *Sigh*  They just don’t make them like Michael MacDonald anymore.)

So, the pressure.  Which is rather silly, really, since surely by now my kids know me well enough not to expect vacation perfection.  There are at least three certainties in the life of a Bythelbs womb fruit: 1) I can expect at least 2-3 whatever night dinners a week (4-5 in summer), 2) I will never have to listen to country music in my parents’ home, and 3) At some point, Mom WILL completely lose it on vacation.  But there’s comfort in the known, right?

Aw gees, it’s 9:47 am.  Things must be done, people.  Must.  So I’m off–like a dirty shirt.


The return of the traveling notebook

21 Oct

So I have the notebook.  Actually, I’ve had the notebook for about a month.  It’s pretty fantastic.  I laughed, I cried, I ignored my family for two straight hours and neglected to make them dinner.  I think they had cereal.  It exceeded my expectations, and I’m very grateful for each of you who contributed.

Originally I was thinking I could just make each of you your own copy and send them out, but that’s really not very practical expense-wise considering the size of this project.  But I want you all to see it, so I would like to send it around again.

We can talk about any adjustments we’d like to make to “the rules” to keep things fresh and exciting.  I have a couple of ideas.

Who’s in?  If you didn’t participate the first time, I’d love to add you to the list this time!  It’s good times, ladies.  Good times.


At last

22 Feb

We the sisterhood hereby instate the following rules to govern the use of the traveling notebook:

1. The Notebook should be kept for a period of about one week.   The Notebook should be circulated in a timely manner.   (No one should have a chance to forget its existence before they’ve had a chance to see it.)  See the list at the back of the book for the next sister to send it to.

2. There is no minimum/maximum entries requirement, but keep in mind the Notebook is for everyone, not just you. (Don’t be a page hog.)

3. Don’t use the Notebook for your blog. Don’t blog/tweet/fb about anyone else’s entries. Don’t duplicate your own entries for your blog unless you’re using the Notebook to tell the “real” story you would be too embarrassed to post on your blog (which would actually be encouraged).

4. You must identify any foreign substance that makes its way into/onto the Notebook for the peace of mind of everyone else who will be using the Notebook. (You may lie if necessary.)

5. The Notebook must never enter a bathroom. In case of emergency (ie: being in a public place and having to use a restroom and there’s no one to hold the Notebook while you’re in the bathroom, the Notebook must be safely tucked inside your jacket or purse or something so that it never touches the facilities.)

6. Don’t share anything too private. We are all interested in the intimate details of your life, but not the intimate details.  It may also be wise to leave out anything that could be used against you in a court of law.

7. You must never tear pages out of the Notebook. There will never be a time when this will not be tacky. This isn’t a time to be perfect, but a time to be real.  (Exceptions would be in cases of violations of some of the above rules–use your best judgement.)

8. You may comment on other entries, but be respectful.  And witty.

9. For the last page you write on before mailing it to the next participant: On the left side of the page, write the most exciting place you have been while in possession of the Notebook. On the right side of the page, write the most important thing that has happened to you while in possession of the Notebook. Also, affix some kind of memento of your week to the cover, taking care not to interfere with what others have already contributed to the cover decorations.

10. Remember: The Notebook=Love.  Love your sisters.  Love yourself.

Sorry it took so long, but I decided I would wait until I had finished my week with the Notebook so I could make them up as I went along.  I think I managed to include everyone else’s contributions as well.

The plan is to send it on its merry way tomorrow.  You’re up next, Tawnya, so keep an eye out for it.

Have a great weekend, ladies!

Hi there

7 Feb

Just a quick reminder to those of you participating in the Traveling Notebook to check your e-mails.  I sent off an e-mail this afternoon to get/verify your mailing addresses. For most of you, these were sent to whichever e-mail address you use when commenting on the blog.

I had planned to get a finalized version of The Rules posted by now, but I have a eBook that expires in the next 24 hours that needs my immediate attention!  Hopefully The Rules will go up tomorrow.  Or possibly Monday.  I commit to nothing.


Put a lid on me

4 Feb

So, um, it’s February.  I woke up with a backache two weeks ago and promptly used it as an excuse to do basically nothing.  It’s still sore, but improved.  What started out feeling like labor pains is now just a dull ache.  Sometimes I don’t even notice, other times not so much.  Nothing like a few aches and pains to make me feel every day of my 39 years.

But I’ve decided I  can’t carry on this way.  My back is dead to me–time to move on.  (It’s really not that bad.)

I still have to put some finishing touches  on The Rules (like, write them).  Hopefully that will be up tomorrow and this week I will begin this little experiment.  Thank you for the contributions and suggestions.  (That is a sincere statement to those who actually contributed and a little bit of sarcasm to the rest of you slackers.)  I will need to double check everyone’s address. I’ll be sending out an e-mail to the account you use to make comments, so keep an eye out for that in the next couple days.  And it’s not too late to join in if anyone else is interested.

I had a mental list of things to talk about, but I’m currently unable to locate it.

I could tell you about my mini-breakdown over my dad’s announcement that he’s moving.  I guess I didn’t really expect them to live in our old house forever, but it was still upsetting. I’m pretending to be over it, though, since a) it’s not like I can do anything about it anyway and 2) it’s not like I can do anything about it anyway.  Have I ever told you how sentimentally (and irrationally) I get attached to things?  No?

It didn’t help that the day before my dad’s big announcement an acquaintance (the mother of one of my daughter’s friends) lost her mother.  There were things already stirred and stewing, and my dad’s call kind of made it all bubble over.  I guess some things you just never get over.

On a related note, I’ve discovered that even the deepest empathy does not give you the words to comfort someone in the midst of sorrow.  While there are definitely wrong things to say, I’m not convinced that there is any right thing to say.

Man, I hadn’t intended to be such a bummer.

On a lighter note…

Me, to whichever child was eating the Pringles: Put the lid back on so they don’t get old.

Mr T:  If only you could do that with people.

If only.

The Rules

22 Jan

I’m excited by the response to the traveling notebook idea!

Here is the list of willing participants I have so far:


It’s not too late to join if anyone else is interested.

Before I get started (I assumed I would be first if that’s OK with everyone else), I thought we should establish some rules.  I think everyone who is participating should have a say in the rules.

Here are the Sisterhood of the  Traveling Pants rules to help you get the ideas flowing…

We the sisterhood hereby instate the following rules to govern the use of the traveling pants:

1.  You must never wash the Pants.

2.  You must never double-cuff the Pants.  There will never be a time when this will not be tacky.

3.  You must never say the word “phat” while wearing the Pants.  You must also never think to yourself “I am fat” while wearing the Pants.

4.  You must never let a boy take off the Pants (although you may take them off yourself in his presence).

5.  You must not pick your nose while wearing the Pants.  You may, however, scratch casually at your nostril while really kind of picking.

6.  Upon our reunion, you must follow the proper procedure for documenting your time in the Pants:
On the left leg of the Pants, write the most exciting place you have been while wearing the Pants.
On the right leg of the Pants, write the most important thing that has happened to you while wearing the Pants.

7.  You must write to your Sisters throughout the summer, no matter how much fun you are having without them.

8.  You must pass the Pants along to your Sisters according to the specifications set down by the Sisterhood. Failure to comply will result in a severe spanking upon our reunion.

9.  You must not wear the Pants with a tucked in shirt and belt. See rule #2.

10. Remember: Pants=Love. Love your pals. Love yourself.

Obviously our own rules will be very different.  For example, I was thinking of something along the lines of:

You must identify any foreign substance that makes its way into/onto the Notebook for the peace of mind of everyone else who will be using the Notebook. (You may lie if necessary.)

OK, your turn.

I have an idea

18 Jan

Over the holiday break my nieces were home from college, and one day I overheard them watching The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  The idea of having an item that connects a group of friends and allows them opportunities to share experiences appeals to me.  Obviously, a pair of jeans that fits and flatters everyone is crazy ridiculous, especially when you move beyond the realm of young Hollywood starlets.  (And don’t even get me started about the kinds of things that went on in those pants! And they weren’t even allowed to wash them!)

I think I’ve mentioned briefly before that a group of girlfriends and I have a birthday club.  Each year we have a different gift theme where we take turns being the gifter for the birthday girl.  We go out to dinner and stuff our faces, talk, laugh, talk and laugh some more–sometimes into the wee hours.  At our age, and with 19 kids between us, the wee hours is 11:30pm, but still it’s a good time!  One element I don’t think I’ve mentioned is the birthday club quote book, in which highlights from the evening are recorded in a small journal.  Quotes are generally out of context and always unattributed (to protect the guilty and the innocent).  It never ceases to amaze me how many hilarious and/or witty, profound, thoughtful, eyebrow-raising things come out of our mouths on these nights out, and if my house should ever catch fire, that birthday club journal would be one of the first things I grab!

So getting to my idea–I thought it might be fun to have a Sisterhood of the Traveling Notebook where the citizens of Bythelbsia take turns recording their thoughts, special (or not so special) events of the day/week, witticisms, helpful hints, hopes, dreams, disappointments or whatever.  I’m imagining a list of willing participants who will each keep the journal for about a week before mailing it on to the next gal and so on and so forth until it ends back with me again.  I would then make a copy for each contributor to keep and treasure forever or until your next big clutter purge, depending on your sentimentality level.  Along the way you could make comments on other people’s entries, add a “decoration” of sorts to the cover, and other things that I haven’t thought of yet.

I know many of us have contact through the blogosphere, but I thought this might be an interesting experiment.  This isn’t a fully conceived idea yet (can you half conceive something? or partially conceive something?).  We will need to come up with a list of rules to govern the use of the traveling notebook, and I’m thinking I could send out friendly reminder e-mails to you lovely busy women so the notebook doesn’t spend too much time in one place (i.e. you flake out on us!).

So what do you think?  Anyone interested?  And don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know anyone–I think that would be part of the fun of the experience!

Leveling the playing field

16 Jan

No, this is not a post about Lance Armstrong.  I could not care less about Mr. Armstrong or his cheater-cheater pumpkin eater liar-liar pants on fire ways.

So Goose, who is now 11 (11!), received an iPod touch for Christmas this year and has started playing games with her dad and me.  When I play games with my kids I don’t necessarily bring my A game.  I don’t believe in letting them win all of the time because I think it’s important for them to learn to lose and lose gracefully.  Good sportsmanship, accepting defeat and trying again, and playing for the fun/love of the game are important life lessons. At the same time, I don’t think an almost 40 year old woman massacring her 11 year old daughter  at Words with Friends on a regular basis (or maybe even at all) is an especially effective way to teach sportsmanship or confidence or self-esteem.

Chuck does not share my philosophy. It’s really more like he doesn’t have a philosophy–he doesn’t think about it. He plays the Z on the triple word every time. He does not instinctively hold back or go easy just because his opponent is a child.

I remember as a kid being excited for a new high score on some game only to wake up and see MOM on top of the leader board.  And not just at the top but in every slot.  My hard fought victory completely obliterated in a single night’s sleep!  That’s a fond memory for me now, mostly because pretty much all of my mom memories are fond now. But I also think she knew me well enough to know it wouldn’t break my spirit.

It’s a fine line to walk sometimes–pushing our kids a little harder so they can grow, but still giving them the confidence to believe they can.  We all need a victory now and then, however small.

This is the world that we live in

10 Jan

Yesterday I got an automated call from the school district informing me that a student at one of the high schools was expelled and arrested for bringing a fake hand gun to school. (An email sent later in the day said the student had been taken into police custody, which is not the same as arrested, I think.)  Three other schools were placed on lockdown as a precaution.

My first thought was what kind of idiot brings a fake gun to school?  Of course I was grateful (so grateful!) it was a false alarm, but I still find the whole thing very unsettling.

Given our current social climate, I understand the idea of zero tolerance policies. It seems you can never be too careful these days, and any perceived threat must be taken very seriously.  But what if this kid really did just make a stupid mistake with no intended malice?

I don’t know the whole story or whether or not this is a troubled or potentially dangerous kid, but I can’t help but wonder what comes next for him.  And it makes me more than a little sad that my kids live in such a (necessarily?) unforgiving time when their youthful choices can have such devastating consequences.