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NOLA December 1, 2009

My new chap book is ready for purchase! To see a preview and place an order, click on the link below. If you purchase this chapbook, I am happy to sign and number this limited edition run. **Now through December 15th you can get FREE 2nd day air shipping on THREE books. Use the promo code BUYTHREE when checking out.

By Amie Charney

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Laundry Day Blues September 3, 2009

A song for the Fly Lady’s

Jake sings the Laundry Blues

What is it about underwear that five year old boys find fascinating? My two children are on spring break here in our fair city. After a few days of running wild, it is now clean up the house day. We live in a two story home, and getting laundry from the top to the bottom can be a real chore…especially if you only do laundry once a week…or so. I know fly-lady says, “a load a day will keep laundry blues away.” Such organization, is lost to my creative mindset. When someone invents a fun way to do laundry everyday, maybe I will.

Perhaps, a slot machine washer…that rewards the beleaguered housewife with spa tokens every load completed.

For me, it’s not over-stuffing the washer or transfer to the dryer that I despise. I can even handle the folding (if I have a great movie on). No, the bain of laundry, is stuffing the drawers….

Conversation with my nine year old daughter…..

“Go upstairs and get dressed….we are already late!”

“I don’t know what to wear ….will you pick it out for me?”

“You never like anything I pick out, so no.”

“But mommmm….I promise, this time I will wear whatever you pick.”

“Whatever?”

“uh-uhhhh…” (add whimpering puppy dog sound effects, complete with blinking and pouted lips)

…… 3 cute shirts and several jeans later…

“But I don’t like any of those.”

“Then pick it out yourself, we are beyond late now.”

“Fine….”

Danger, Danger!!! This is the moment that all my hard work is about to be overturned, crumpled, thrown on the floor and generally smashed onto the top sedimentary layer of Barbie shoes and Polly pockets. It is why I despise laundry. I mean, truly you are just rewashing clothes never worn. The ones they do wear, they are willing to wear dirty because they are the “Only cool things I have!”

Which gets us back to the five year old. In order to make laundry day more exciting, I have reinvented the laundry chute. One sibling stands on the top landing, and the other at the bottom of the stairs. The one at the top upends their laundry baskets over the head of the sibling squealing with delight below. It keeps them occupied for at least an hour. After they dump all the laundry down, they rake up the fallen clothes into a big pile and jump into them… (palm trees don’t allow for fall leaf piles…so this is novel to them. )

After a while, you are supposed to switch positions (equal opportunity tormentor)…my daughter however, refuses to give up the power position. My son, wanting to dump out his clothes on her head, starts demanding surrender. After unsuccessful threats and pleas, he decides to take action. As the cascade of clothing falls on his head, he picks out his underwear from the stream and starts taunting his sister above with them.

“Underwear, Underwear, Unnndder-ware” gleefully, he takes steps two at a time.

“Noooooo,” she squawks, and starts to run into the castle keep.

He sings, “Dirty underwear….dirty unnndderware” and cuts her off at the pass

gagging sounds…. as it is dangled in front of her nose

“My dirty underwear…it touched my privates.” he laughs, flicking it at her… he has invented a weapon more powerful than the super soaker. A little brother’s equivalent of a plague victim being catapulted over castle walls.

“OOOO, it touched me!…..MOM, he threw his underwear on me.

I laugh. I am an evil mom, I find the whole thing hilarious, and can’t hold even close to a poker face. I remember similar exchanges between me and my little brother. I wish that I would have thought of a weapon that powerful.

“MOOOOMMM, stop laughing.”

“Why? It was funny, now give your brother a turn upstairs.”

Hmmppfff….said in the way only an 7 3/4 year old can… complete with upturned nose, eye roll and back turn. She plops down on the floor and waits for the clothes to cascade down.

My son has a highly developed sense of the dramatic. Instead of a fabric waterfall, he sends a constant drip of shirts, pants, socks (ewww)…

and of course scooby doo underoos…piece by piece.

….MOOOOMMMM

 

What, no shoes? November 20, 2008

clover.jpgAs a special treat for my daughter last week, I took her to the mecca of fur-tastic capitalism for the under 10 set…Build A Bear. Actually, to be specific, Friends 2 Be Made (their doll division).  We were on a hunt for the elusive Jayden, a celery hair fashion doll. Now, I am not completely altruistic in my motives, I am tired of hearing “I have to have it in order to have the Gem Band with my purple, pink, blue and orange jammin’ jewel dolls…plleease.”

 So, to get you “in” the doll only costs twelve dollars. Big deal right? Totally do-able, I mean twelve dollars, you can’t even get a Barbie for that much. Then they up-sell you on the extras that your doll simply must have to live a fabulous life. Being a savvy customer, I am wise to their ploys. Between my own guilt purchases, and grandparent’s sprees we could probably host a decent table at a collectors show. We walk into the bubble gum pink and candy blue store. Hannah Montana is playing softly, and the store looks like daylight on a 1000 watt binge.  I steel myself for the saccharine doll salesmen pitch from the teenage doll-ologist.

Bring on your best….we are only getting the doll.

My daughter be-lines for green yarn hair. She knows what she wants…five trees have been chopped down to make the promo mailers featuring “Jayden” that flood our mailbox alone. “Her Perkiness” bounces up to us and asks my daughter what her doll sounds like. My daughter looks up at me, I stand firm. No way! I know this trick, I am not buying the five dollar voice box that sounds like Cheerleader Chuckie when the batteries start dying in a month. Her perkiness looks a little miffed when I say:

 “She doesn’t need one.”

“All jammin’ jewel girls need a voice!” reproof from a teen queen.

I let this slide. It is after all, supposed to be a happy day for my daughter, not a lecture in the cold reality of the world. Her perkiness starts in on the ritual of endowing the doll with attributes like artistic, talented, responsible and my favorite … superstar. She hands my daughter a satin taffeta heart and commands her to rub in on her tummy so the doll will never hunger, rub it on her brain so the doll can be brilliant like she, kiss it to let the doll know she is always loved…and on…and on. Finally, she stuffs the darn thing, and we can go onto the all important wardrobing.

I have already given into my daughter’s protest that you can’t bring home a naked doll. Why not? was my argument. The minute you get it home the clothes come off anyways, I am saving you time and me money. I concede though, but not the expensive one…. the outfit that cost more than the doll. We pick through the possibilities, it takes an hour. The doll has more clothes in her wardrobe than I have owned in my entire life.

Her perkiness has now turned into a personal shopper for our new acquisition, newly dubbed Clover. She trots out Lycra, satin, bags, glasses, dresses for cocktail and for the prom, karate Gui’s and soccer outfits so that Clover can be a well rounded girl. I glare at her. No I don’t think we need the Lycra rock star suit, and we don’t do karate. I find a cute little green satin shirt and capri’s. Feeling a little cheap under the accusatory eye of her perkiness, I turn my back to check out the price tags. I breathe a sigh of relief, we can still get out of there for under $30. As long as I can talk my daughter into it.

My winner argument…if we pick this outfit out, maybe we can find you one to match.

Bingo! We negotiate. She now likes the outfit, but really wants the shoes and guitar that matches the rock star outfit. She barters like a trial lawyer. 

“No shoes”

“But mom” 

I find myself almost agreeing to the plastic guitar that does nothing, not even make a noise. Even Happy Meal toys make noise… I am sticking to my guns.

“But mom”

“No way! You always lose them 10 minutes after we get home, and all your other dolls have never worn their shoes past the parking lot.”

“Mommy, pllleeeease.” Blink, blink.

“Guitar or shoes….not both,” did I just say that?

“Guitar”

I smile. We hug. Relieved that I have won the battle…I think… at least stood some ground. I go up to the register, and look around for her perkiness. She has given up on us long ago. We obviously are not her kind of customer.

She bops up, ignoring me…the one with the credit card…and hands my daughter a “special invite” for Bella Blue’s Birthday party. She is the blue yarn head doll. “You get to sign a big birthday card to her, and even get a special gift if you come!”  

Recognizing me…finally… she tells me that there is even a special party dress for the doll we can buy, only twelve dollars. My arm starts hurting from the entire 60 pounds of my daughter pulling on it….”Pllleeeease.”

“Just the doll today.” I hand her my card decisively. I won!

Her perkiness looks into the box, and looks up at me with a horrified expression…as if I have abused the poor doll.

“Is there something wrong?”

“What,” she says disgusted. “No shoes?”

We finally escape. I feel like a bad doll mom. I let the poor piece of material stuffed with fluff leave the store without shoes on. What will all the other doll moms think of me?

My daughter looks at me, what about her outfit? She always remembers that stuff. The stuff that I say hoping she will forget it. But I won, so I am filled with largess. I steer her into the kids gap. We found this great shirt and capris to match…on sale…twelve dollars. I am euphoric. My daughter thinks I am a great mom.

We get up to pay.

“You know, we have great shoes that match this.”

…says her perkiness 2.

 

Shoveling Out June 19, 2008

One room clean, ugh many more to go My kids and I are on an epic “adventure” in cleaning this week, I call it shoveling out the house. While I am pitching bagfuls of cheap plastic, I think to myself, “Why do I buy so much (well I must say it) crap?”

I am struck by the words of a wise friend who was channeling her inner Peter Walsh… “You won’t have to clean so much if you don’t keep so much.” Or, as my good Midwestern, sensible husband might add… buy it in the first place.

I love a clean house… I really do… I enjoy sitting on my cozy couch, my warm and fuzzy blanket drawn up…a cup of warm jasmine tea in hand… a great book open on my lap (my children blissfully asleep in their OWN beds)… and looking over the vastness that is a clean house… the Lego and Polly pocket free floors, the stacks of paper gone from all horizontal surfaces, the fact that I can stretch my legs out on the couch without knocking over two weeks of junk mail and seven loads of unfolded laundry… Awe BLISS.

However, I am not a talented homemaker… in fact I despise the tasks that it involves all together. I have distinct memories from childhood praying for angels to come overnight and clean my room. Alas, I hadn’t learned yet that God uses room cleaning to teach patience, discipline… needless to say, I never had any angelic maids feather dusting at night… and have tried to avoid as much as I possibly can ever since.

Good on you Fly-Ladies, but… I just can’t seem to make cleaning the house EVERY Day work for me. Instead I choose to marathon clean… meaning when the house starts to have Pre-Cambrian layers it’s time to start shoveling… Indiana Jones style. This is not the method I would recommend, however it seems to be the pattern that I am stuck in…and sick of.

So, I have decided (for the tenth time…at least) that I am turning over a new leaf. That it is time to teach my children to live clean and relatively clutter free lives…and do OTS…(Opportunities to Serve… fancy acronym for chores) I am not without a heart, and realize that it is easier to maintain and do said OTS’s in a clean house, so it’s “kill the first week of summer and get rid of everything” time.

Now, if you are a parent… the dilemna is this…motivating said children to 1) clean at all 2) not move into the clean areas you have just finished, because it’s so much “funner” to play in the part that is not at critical mass 3) get rid of the toy that has been collecting dust behind the couch for 3 months…because it is their FAVVORITEE…  Awe, I can see you sympathise.

So my answer and advice is to bribe with abandon. Instead of popping a coronary…this time… I make up great rewards for achievement… Sure mommy will sit through Kung Fu Panda with you… for a price, just your room clean. Laser Tag?? No problem, the living room is all yours, make sure you dust.

And hey, guess what…

It still didn’t work 🙂

So 3 bags of trash, 5 bags of old clothes and toys to give away…I have 5 rooms down, 3 more and 3 bathrooms to go… I have come to this conclusion and written a sign that is posted on the door out to the garage… it reads

People/Time over Things: 7 days of bleach fumes is not worth buying ___(insert items)____.   

So, You Fly-Lady’s who love to write me whenever I moan over housework…bring it on. I would love any suggestions that actually work…not in theory, but are time tested and successful. I will post the good ones to encourage us domestically challenged…come on, I know you are out there…

See you on the Flip Side! Amie

 

 

STOP RANDOM acts of kindness April 26, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness, the “movement” started a few years ago.

It is time for it to end.

Instead, let’s start doing them on purpose!

You say, this is only semantics Amie….well look at what the “semantics” say about it…

Def of random: without definite aim, direction, rule, or method. synonyms haphazard, casual mean determined by accident rather than design. Random stresses lack of definite aim, fixed goal, or regular procedure.

Let’s start looking… actively looking… for ways to lend a hand, meet a need, support and encourage our communities.

Let’s be purposeful…intentional…meaningful.

If we looked at our fellow humans intent on meeting their needs, not only would we start to change humanity, but ourselves. It doesn’t have to be large gestures… so often, all people need are simple things to make their day easier and brighter.

I recently was on Camp Pendelton, a large Marine base out here in So-Cal.  Ahead of me was a young women, a marine, juggling an arm full of packages. Everytime she got one settled, another would drop. I wasn’t in a particular hurry, so I asked her if I could carry some of them.  To be honest… (I am ashamed to say) if I had been in a real time crunch, I probably would not have stopped to help her…

At first, she said no. Then another package dropped. I picked it up, and took a couple more in my arms.

She teared up.

“You really don’t mind?”

I teared up.

“The post office run is always the errand I hate the most.” I reassure. “I know what it’s like to have to juggle a ton of packages, a baby car carrier…with another in tow.”

She said that the care packages were for her husband in Iraq. All Copenhagen 🙂 He didn’t want anything else. It was his third time over there, and he would be getting home about a month before she was leaving for her second tour.

As I walked with her to the post office, I could tell she was a little shocked that someone would go the distance with her…which I thought was sad. She thanked me profusely.

We parted ways with a brief hug between strangers, and I left truly honored that I could lend a hand. I felt light and giddy….and on the hunt to find someone else to help. It had taken less than five minutes, but it changed my outlook forever.

We are the only Jesus that people may ever see. What we do reflects Him. We are His hands extended in charity, in sympathy, in love…

I challenge you to step out of your house every day and look forward to doing a Purposeful Act of Kindness…and not just one here or there… lets start a revolution of people acting out the simplest and most profound truth of all……Do unto others, as you would like to have done to you…

So what am I doing? Slowing down and letting people get by me (a feat on So-Cal freeways), I am smiling and saying hello to the people I pass, giving more hugs, looking for people who need an extra hand …and actually extending it, I am setting aside a little pin money each week to treat someone to a meal, to gas in their tank, to mailing a care package for them. I am actively looking for someone, every day, to be kind to.You might say, that you aren’t aware of anyone in need…or that it’s to big an issue to tackle.

I have your first mission… please accept it.

Being a  military wife about to face deployment, I can tell you the families back home can always use an act of kindness. Every little bit helps. I would encourage you to not only display your solidarity with a ribbon, but to display it with actions. If you know a family affected by this; write a note, offer a lawn mow, a game of catch with their children, a laundry folding party, a home-cooked meal that they don’t have to make, rake up fallen leaves or change light bulbs in places they can’t reach… a hug. Simple actions say more than 10,000 words sometimes. 

…and these ideas are just a start… we need to take the blinders off and take a long look at the world around us… noticing need is the first step… now meet it.

…be purposeful in the way we treat one another, I guarantee you will get back in happiness 10x’s more than the effort it took to do it.

Care to join me? Comment about what your plan is today… 

 

 

Just Go Naked April 17, 2008

Well, now that I have your attention…(I feel the click counter go up even now)….

I don’t get 20 somethings anymore. I always wondered when the disconnect would happen, and here I sit…memorializing the moment. My husband refers to the realization of aging as “going to the dark side”. Okay, so I am not old…this year I turned 34. (I hear the collective cyber-groan around me… you know who you are.)

The pull of the “dark side” started two weeks ago on spring break…

One of my childhood friends brought her three sons and ….gulp…. nanny (sorry, Personal Assistant) to a beach house we rented for the week. Her PA, a lovely young woman… I mean, really lovely…. was cold on our little tromp down the jetty. Having nothing at her disposal, save her 5 year old charge’s sweatshirt… she did what I imagine all 100 lb nannies CAN do…. slid her arms into it and zipped it up. It made for a charming bolero gap sweatshirt.

My husbands eyes popped out… not in a lewd way, but in the shock and disbelief the feat deserved. If Jude Law’s nanny can do that, well, no wonder….

“It’s a good way to save money, children’s clothes are so much cheaper…” says she.

…funny, as a mom, I think kids clothing prices are outrageous…and refuse to spend more on their t-shirts than what my wedding dress cost.

…but, as usual, I digress…

the second slash of the light saber came two nights ago. I, as most writers are, am an insomniac…(I used to say night owl…but now that I am over thirty… it is called insomnia)  Up late… can’t look at the sentence I have rewritten 50 times again…flip on the television…and am treated to a “Retrospective of Spring Break.”

Holy cow…have you seen what goes on these days? Gone are the simple great legs and bikini contests your parent’s warned you about. No kidding if the “g-string margarita wrestlers” and “who can rip each others clothes off the fastest” contests don’t make it for you, how about the “best simulated sex” and who has the “best make out with a complete stranger” competition should convince you that….we are missing a link somewhere…

I began channeling my parents…. Not in a million years will my daughter (or son) be allowed to wear a swim suit that looks like strings and quarters… go on Spring Break anywhere near sand… and none of that…. “staying at college to study”. I am wise to that….

“But mom, I love it in the dorms so much, how can I leave…”

“But mom, we’re just going to Disneyworld in Florida…honest.”

So to combat we go. My kids are 5 and 7, perfect ages to start a full on assault. My husband and I devise a gameplan… Spring Break is family vacation time. Later, if our kids refuse to go on vacation with us….it will be the perfect opportunity to visit them.

“Oh honey, we won’t hang out all day with you…we will just take in the sights… and then we can all have dinner together each night. And then…on the weekend…you can show us all your favorite places. Don’t worry, you stay at the dorm you love so much, and we will stay at that great (insert favorite swanky hotel here) down the street.”

Since we have a few years to perfect this battle plan… here is my thoughts for those who fall under the above category… now…

just go naked already…okay?  Why bother buying scraps of clothes at all. You might as well enjoy showing off those quarter bouncing abs and barbie boobs while everything is in it’s anatomically correct place.

You can use the money you save to pay off your college loans…

the national debt….

enjoy it while you can…

gravity is the great equalizer of all!

Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polk-a-dot Bikini by Patsy Briscoe

 

 

 

 

A Marriage Turns Nine April 14, 2008

The Second Wedding

Nine years has flown by. I joke that we are still newlyweds – If you take out the four years worth of deployments we have weathered.

Michael holds the distinct honor of being the only man in his family to have been married twice…to the same women…within three weeks of each other. I had been planning what we dubbed “the big wedding” for about four months when the Commanding Officer (CO) of Michael’s squadron told us they were depolying to Kosovo…at the end of the week…and it was Wednesday.

We are a part of the F-18 jet community, my husband is like “goose” on Top Gun (His opening line at Pat Obrien’s in New Orleans where we met…a whole other story). That community is pretty accepting of fiancee as a status, but to the Marine Corps… unless you are married… you are persona non grata. If he had died or was injured, you would get no notification, benefits…anything.

Which takes us to the “Oh my word… we better get married quick..your going to Kosovo wedding”

Which makes me a war bride… I get a kick out of that.

I, like most girls, dream of their wedding…and this was not it. We were only three weeks away from “Martha Stewart Perfection”, and I wasn’t about to blow it on a judge. We got word Wednesday morning that they were ramping up for a Friday departure. I whirled into action, by noon I had our pastor and photographer set for five, the jeweler racing from Hilton Head with the rings, the florist putting together a quick bouquet and boutonniere, a hair appointment and a decorating force (the squadron wives) ready to transform the tower where Mike proposed to me. The hardest sell was dry cleaning. In Seattle, where I am from, you can have your clothes in an hour… it’ll cost you….but you can get them. In South Carolina, they have 7 day martinizing. So trying to convince them to clean Mike’s suit in less then 7 hours was a miracle almost of Genesis proportion. I arranged the restaurant down the street for a little reception, got a cake, brought my boom box with the sampler wedding music CD, and we were set.

The only challenge…Michael had no idea. And the groom was up in a really fast jet, only God knows where, with no way of telling him he was getting married at five. The Corporals and Sergeants were on the lookout for him the minute he landed….which was about 4:15. In which they informed him to get home, put the suit on and show up for his wedding. Fortunatly he is a man of action and takes orders well 🙂

It was a great wedding. The photograph still hangs over our fireplace. We were surrounded by surrogate family, and even managed a first dance and cake smash. We decided not to tell anyone except our heartbroken parents, thinking perhaps we would still be able to pull of the “Big One” later. The next morning we went to turn in paperwork, and got the news…

…the squadron is NOT going anymore…

shock… what do you do now?

…which leads us to the second marriage of my husband. We made it to our wedding day, May 8th. It was everything a Southern Girl at heart could ask for… Big and Glorious.

He did deploy to Kosovo, two weeks later.

And yes, I make him celebrate both dates.

I thought it would mean double the gifts, but he got wise to me. On our first anniversary he gave me diamond earrings. On April 14, 2000 I opened the beautifully wrapped box, and saw one blinking at me. The card read, you get the other on May 8th. Outsmarted again 🙂

I have been blessed. My husband is the most considerate, kind, loving and supportive husband anyone could ask for (and he looks crazy sexy in those flight suits). I know there is a God and that He loves me every time I look into Michael’s face. God blesses us, even if we feel unworthy of it sometimes. You are irreplaceable honey, and truly I am at a loss to imagine my life without you… we are epic.

There is a famous movie line that says “You complete me.” It is WRONG. Part of the reason our marriage works is that we came into it two complete individuals, and we enhance each other. I am the delightful color that livens Michael’s black and white life, and he grounds me. Together we have grown, and God willing, will continue for many decades to come. Nine years feels like we are still just beginning our journey together. I can truly say that I love him more today, nine years later, than I did on that South Carolina tower…

Honey, here is one to add to the soundtrack of our lives. After nine years, this is what marriage means to me…

Across a crowded room
I know you know what I’m thinking
By the way I look at you
And when we’re lying in the quiet
And no words have to be said
I think to myself, I think to myself
This love is a beautiful gift
I have been blessed
And I feel like I’ve found my way
I thank God for all I’ve been given
At the end of every day
I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones that love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed. from Blessed by Martina McBride

Blessed by Martina McBride

Michael, I love you.

 

 

 

 

 
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