Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zero

There are few things that I've finished in life besides high school, dessert and birthing a baby.  So I'm pretty amazed that I finished this  A - Z challenge especially when I didn't intend to participate in the first place.  Also, it's worth noting here for you people that are taking notes that unlike school, I was not bound by law to finish the challenge, it was not particularly satisfying like dessert, and there was no huge amount of pain and discomfort to motivate me to finish.   

So, Z is for Hector Zeroni from Holes, or Zero.

Everybody calls him Zero because they think he's nothing.  But Zero knows better; he knows he's something.  Which kind of reminds me of a quote from the movie, Cool Runnings which is pretty awesome if you haven't seen it. 

Irv: Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you're not enough without one, you'll never be enough *with* one.
[Turns to leave]
Derice Bannock: Hey coach, how will I know if I'm enough?
Irv: When you cross that finish line tomorrow, you'll know.

So here's to Zero, here's to being enough, and here's to crossing the finish line.

Cool Runnings -- Peace Be the Journey!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Your Mama

My kids think I'm hilarious because I always say your mom's ____ after everything they say.  Usually.  Okay, if truth be told, I'm the only one who thinks I'm hilarious; my kids just think I'm annoying.  But if you can't annoy your kids, what's the point of motherhood, so here's how it works.

Kid:  Mom this dinner's hot.

Mom:  Your mom's hot.

Now you're beginning to see how this can be fun and annoying.

Kid:  Mom, does this look cute?

Mom:  Your mom's cute.

You can also annoy other people, like solicitors.

Solicitor:  Is your mom there? (This works if you happen to sound young.)

Mom:  No, she's dead.  (Okay, techinically this isn't a "your mom" response; but it's still fun and annoying and only works if your mom is dead or if you're a liar.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Whistle

My mom was a whistling sort of woman.  She could emit a piercing sound that could round up stray dogs and stop misbehaving children in their tracks.  Yes sirree, her whistler was a real show stopper, an attention getter.  And when I was 13, that's what I thought I needed--attention--from one particularly tan, shaggy blond haired boy who worked across the street at the farm, usually with his shirt off.  Man could that boy drive a tractor.

I spent most of my summers drooling at him from my bedroom window, or from my horse when I galloped past him with my hair flying behind me, or from the bushes across from his house when I was stalking him. 

Yeah folks, I had the jump on stalking way before Facebook even thought about it.  That's why I needed an attention getter or maybe a life or perhaps a therapist.

So I spent half of the summer of 8th grade learning how to whistle.  I spent the other half of the summer whistling.  At the guy with the sexy tractor.  Or the sexy guy on the tractor.  It's all a blur now. 

In case you're wondering, I did not marry the shirtless boy on the tractor.  In order to marry someone you have to converse with them at least enough to say, I do which happens to be two words more than we ever shared. 

I don't whistle at farm boys on tractors any more mostly because I would get arrested, and I don't live by a farm or a tractor.

But I do break out the "whistler" to get the attention of a dog or two and hush a room full of 7th graders, so my 8th grade summer wasn't a total wash, right?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vegetarian. .. almost

A decade and a half ago or so our family was at the Happiest Place On Earth and I'm not talking about Costco.  Although when I go there, some people look like they're at the happiest place on earth.  What is so happy about parking a mile away and pushing a cart the size of a flatbed truck through crowded isles and waiting 20 minutes to check out?

Back to the H.P.O.E.--which looks almost like hope only hope is free and H.P.O.E. is the price of one of your kidneys on the black market.  But hey, we've all got two, right?

Anywhoo, after a day of fighting about which rides to go on because we had family one--the 4 kids we had in 4 1/2 years and family 2 the 3 that we had every 3 years after the 4--we were famished and stopped to eat at a chicken place after my husband sold the youngest child to pay for the meal.  Just kidding.  Mostly. 

As we're devouring the chicken, my sweet Cassie turns to me and asks, "Where does chicken come from?"  Uh oh, the Happiest Place on Earth just got a little less cheery. 

What you have to know about Cassie is that she loved animals more than people at that age.  And maybe still at this age.  And that she adopted a stray cat which she named Lucky Chicken.  That about sums it up.

She was so hungry, yet so disturbed.  With tears and big heaving sobs, she ate every bite of that chicken. 

But here's the kicker or the clucker:  After we'd finished eating Cassie said, "Don't you dare throw away those bones!"  She arranged them all carefully on a plate.  We then followed her to a nearby flowerbed where we dug a shallow grave with our heals.  And I don't want to burst your bubble about the H.P.O.E. but there was a r-a-t in that flowerbed.  I saw him with my own eyes while I was burying his lunch 2 inches under. 

After a short graveside service which may have involved some praying, words of thanks to the chicken, and a song or two, we wiped the chicken grease on our pants, rubbed our muddy shoes off in the grass and made our way back to what makes the H.P.O.E. so darn happy, which apparently is not the chicken.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Unity

Sometimes we think life is about getting to the finish line first.  But it's not about "winning."  It's about how we run, and who we run with, and how we help each other along the way.  You've heard it before--united we stand, divided we fall--but seeing it is so much better.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for the Tonight Show

My husband is one for putting things out in the universe.  He's pretty good at it.  You can read about it here.  If I put something out in the universe, I'd never be able to find it again because I can't find my way out of a paper bag because I have a little Dori fish (from finding Nemo) swimming around inside my head. 

Ellen Degeneres is also one who believes in putting things out in the universe.  She was not too many years out of high school, living in a lice-infested basement apartment with no heat or air and the only furnishings being a single mattress on the floor when she was driving home from work and saw an accident.  She drove past it and later found out that one of her friends was killed in the accident.  While thinking about how unfair it was that her friend was dead while the horrible fleas in her apartment were still alive, she wrote an imaginary conversation with God where she asked Him this question. 

After she wrote it, she said to herself---to the UNIVERSE, someday I will perform this monologue on the Johnny Carson show.  She wasn't doing comedy at the time and had never done comedy.  A few years later, the universe delivered.

So, what do you want to put out in the universe?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Someday

"Conditions are never perfect.  'Someday' is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.  If it's important to you and you want to do it 'eventually,' just do it and correct course along the way."
                                                                         Tim Ferriss

I've been living for someday for a long time now.  There's never a good time for anything--except to procrastinate.  Someday I'll go back to school; someday I'll write that book; someday I'll clean my house (okay probably not); someday I'll have more time for the people I love. . .

Someday I'll figure out how to get where I want to be without actually doing anything.  Someday.

What's on your someday list? 

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rigor Mortis

Ever met someone who has stiffened up a bit and they're not even dead yet?  Even worse, have you ever been that person?

My mom, who was fighting cancer the last five years of her life, was not one of those people.  Neither was my mother-in-law who fought this same ugly disease.  Although their bodies may have stiffened a bit due to this horrible disease, their minds and spirits remained limber and unhindered.  The last days of their lives were filled with service, work, play--you know, life--the kinds of things that the living do and enjoy.

On the other hand, I know people that have been dying for years, whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. This is a slow, painful way to go; this is when rigor mortis sets in long before the heart stops beating, essentially turning them into walking corpses or the living dead or ZOMBIES!  (Crap, there goes my Z post.)

Sometimes I wonder if I get too rigid in my ways--too holier than thou; too my way or the highway; too woe is me; too the Jones' have more, therefore I don't have enough.  Rigor mortis is like that.  It can creep up on you in lots of different ways.

So the moral of this story is, don't be a dead beat.  Be open to new ideas.  Help somebody with their problems instead of worrying about your own.  Look at what you have instead of what you don't have.

And if that doesn't work, try eating chocolate, Silly Stringing something or someone, or burping the alphabet.

Lighten up folks:  Live, Love, Laugh, Burp the Alphabet.
(Somebody should put that in vinyl on a block of wood or something. . .)

or maybe "Just so no to rigor mortis."

Do you ever feel rigor mortis setting in?  What do you do to "keep loose?"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Questions

Just a few questions:

What could Victoria's secret possibly be? (Because to me, it looks like she's not hiding much.  Just sayin.)

If my phone WAS dry clean only, why didn't it have a label or something?

Why do people say, "No offense right before they say something offensive?"

Why are squirrels so much cuter in the woods than in your attic?

If money is the root of all evil, why doesn't it grow on trees or some other plant?

What color are dinosaurs because you can't tell by looking at their bones?

Why does cottage cheese look good in a bowl but not on your thighs?

Why do some people wear more makeup than clothes?

Why does my bank chain their pens to the desk and leave the safe door wide open?

If love isn't a game, why are there so many players?

Why do fools fall in love?


If love makes the world go round, does that mean we have a bunch of fools running the world? 

Just wondering, that's all.

What do you wonder about?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for well, you know, pee

My earliest memory is of my brother peeing on me.  He was new, home from the hospital, and my mom was bathing him in the little, baby tub on the kitchen table.  I was peering over the edge of the table for a better look when something squirted me in the face. . .

My second memory is of my brother peeing on me.  It was the next day or maybe the next--what is time when you are 18 months old?--and my mother was bathing my brother at the kitchen table.  I peered over the edge for a better look.  Remembering previous events, I ran to the other end of the table.  But boy parts being what they are, and water doing what it does, things kind of drifted the other way just in time for me to get squirted again. 

I didn't do much peering after that although my brother has continued to do plenty of peeing.  I don't know if I actually remember this or if I heard the story so many times that I think I remember it.  Nevertheless, I can picture it all vividly in my head, inspite of my pee-soaked brain. 

What is your earliest memory?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Okay

When I asked my fam what I could blog about for the letter O, I got groans, moans and lots of eye-rolling.  Unfortunately, none of those things begin with O. 

My husband, who is practically an island (they say no man is, but he's pretty darn close--there's a post about that that I should link to, but can't find it. . . There's also some posts about not being able to find things that I"ll spare you from reading by not linking), broke it to me gently, "Nobody really cares whether or not you can blog about each letter of the alphabet.  Nobody wants to read your blog or anybody else's blog every ding dong day. (Okay, I added the ding dong for some dramatic flare because that is obviously something that my husband would NEVER say.)   He then reminded me that obnoxious and over-kill begin with the letter O. 

And I said, "Okay, for once you might be right."

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Never

I will just apologize right now that this is going to be another serious, preachy post because posting a different letter of the alphabet everyday has made me over-analyze everything.  It's also made me stop exercising, neglect my writing and sing the alphabet over and over in my head.  Okay, I wasn't really exercising or writing, but I was thinking about it.

One Sunday morning a long time ago there was a mother who was was much younger and thinner and uptighter than she is now, who was trying to do 4 girls' hair before church.  Unfortunately, her daughters had their own opinions about how their hair should or shouldn't be done.  There was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  There might have been some running through the house with a hair brush, yelling threats at toddlers and preschoolers done by the mother.  There might have been some crying and scratching and biting done by the daughters.   Or the mother.  Where was the father???  He was probably at some meeting discussing the worth of souls or the importance of families, or how essential the father figure is in the home.

The mother finally realized that she was at dangerous precipass as she brandished her hairbrush and roared her ferocious roar.  Not knowing what else to do, the mother went to her closet, fell to her knees and said, "Help!" 

This is the answer she got:  "Hair is not worth going to Hell over."

The mother came out of the closet, put down the brush and took her kids to church.  The girls' hair did not look great.  But that's okay.  The mom was happy and so were the girls.  Until they got older and examined family pictures and home videos and said to the mother, "Why did you let us look like that!" 

A very smart man (President Thomas S. Monson) once said, "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."

That one statement sums it all up.  LOVE is the answer.  Even though this is an N post so we are focusing on the word NEVER here, remember that LOVE is always the answer.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Loser

When I was in high school the cross country team would begin their race at the beginning of the football game and come back and take their final lap around the track sometime during the game.  I don't remember the runners, except for the 3 boys I had crushes on and one girl. This girl was NOT fast.  This girl came in last--way last as in everyone else has finished, showered and had a hot dog last.  There wasn't a single race that year that she didn't place dead last.  And still she ran.

I've been thinking about her.  I don't even know her name, but that's okay because sometimes I can't remember my own.  What I've been thinking is that she had some serious courage going on because when you train hard (I'm sure she must have gone to practice each day along with her team mates) you expect to win or at least get better.  You probably don't expect to be the ultimate loser every single time, especially in front of your whole high school.

It's easy to be a winner.  Okay, I know all the practice, hard work, effort part can be grueling, but winning is fun.  It's why we work; it's what we work for.  But, not all of us can be winners.  Some of us will be losers and losing sucks.  It isn't fun. 

So I want to give a big shout-out today to all the losers.  The people who don't win but have the courage to try.  You amaze me; you inspire me.  My hat is off to you.  Actually I don't wear hats, but my glasses are off to you--mostly cause I keep losing them--but just know that I am doing mental high kicks and jump-splits for you, only don't try to picture that or you might throw up. 

So picture my friend here instead--your own personal cheerleader!

And keep trying, even if you're losing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kindness

When my kids were younger, every Family Home Evening we sang this song:

Kindness Begins with Me

I want to be kind to everyone
for that is right you see
so I say to myself
remember this
Kindness begins with me.

Okay, usually everyone would replace me with Bri--my 4th child--and then we'd have more fighting.  But you know what "they" say, Family Home Evening is the only fight that begins and ends with a prayer. 

Anywhoo, I've been thinking about being kind for the last 3 minutes because I was actually going to blog about L until I noticed everybody else's posts were on K and I thought, you people messed up big time.  Then I sang the alphabet song.  Slowly. 

This screw-up probably would not have happened if:

a.  I was a list maker
b.  I didn't have 7 children
c.  I had a perfect chiseled nose and deep, dreamy green eyes
d.  I had learned more in kindergarten . . .

What I did learn in kindergarten was that our teacher did not think it was funny when we sang "Happy Birthday Ms. Jones.  You sure have nice bones!" every single day.  And that being the wake-up fairy just gave the boys a free peek up your skirt.

Yeah, I HAD to wear a dress to school every single day in kindergarten and we had nap-time (killer then, but would be bliss now) but hey, they gave us milk and cookies too.

However, I am not blogging about kindergarten even though it starts with a K.  I was trying to talk about kindness here.  And sometimes it is hard to be kind.  Especially to small, whiny children, and senile adults, and rabid dogs, and delusional family members, and postal postal workers.  But in the words of a famous song: Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.

Sometimes, it is especially hard to be nice to yourself.  Just this week, I have had two women say unkind things about themselves.  Okay, three if you count me.

Be kind even when others are not.
And while you're throwing all that sticky, sweet love and goodness around, be sure and throw some back at yourself.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for . . .

In the words of Jo March from Little Women, I am hopelessly flawed.  With a capital F.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't do something I regret or that somebody else regrets.  Especially today.  And yesterday.  I can live with a lot of things like my big nose, bad hair days, a dirty house, and socks that don't match, but I can't live with guilt and shame and regret and remorse.  Those things my friends are cancer to the soul.    They eat at me until I feel like a stale piece of swiss cheese.

That is why I am so grateful for Jesus Christ.  He patches the holes, He makes the bad things better.  He is like Mr. Magic Eraser, only tons better because He can get you cleaner.  Plus He also soothes your soul in the process.  And yes, it is a process.  But definitely a process worth following.

Other great things about Jesus are that He is my ally, my advocate.  He is the only one who has experienced my every pain and sorrow.  Because of Him, I can experience joy.  With a capital J.  Not only is He all of these things for me, He is all of these things for everybody.

So I am having a hallelujah, praise the Lord, joyful sort of day because I really can't do life without Him.

That's all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Impossible

Over the weekend besides taking care of my injured daughter who had ankle surgery,

and eating way too many Cadbury Eggs,

and watching a couple Harry Potter movies, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and
Sister Act--if laughter is the best medicine, Whoopi is a pretty strong drug,

I watched an ESPN documentary about Terry Fox, someone I'd never even heard of.

Terry did the impossible with a capital I. In 1977 Terry had his right leg amputated because of cancer.  He was 18 or 19 at the time.  Being an athletic kid, and being strongly moved by all the kids he saw die in the cancer ward, he wanted to do something that would make a difference.

Terry decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer awareness and research.  Terry ran a marathon every day for 143 days covering 3,339 miles before the cancer, which spread to his lungs, forced him to quit.  He died 9 months later.

It should be noted that when Terry began his run, nobody cared.  Once he stopped in a town of 5,000 people to give a speech and nobody showed up.  He ran in the heat and in the cold, up hill, down hill, when he was tired, hungry,  and sick.  On one leg.  Terry never quit. 

The annual Terry Fox Run, first held in 1981 is the largest one-day cancer fund-raiser in the world with 60 countries participating.  Five hundred million dollars have been raised for cancer research in Terry Fox's name.

So, I is for Terry who did the Impossible.

What do you want to do that seems impossible?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Good in the Hood

I am bombarded with so many bad/sad stories that when I read this story in the Deseret News today I did a little happy dance--just in my head of course because to do a real one would have required putting down my Cadbury Eggs and standing up.  Hoo-ray for good people because they seriously rock my world. 

If I could accomplish any one thing in life, it would be to be truly good.  The kind of good where kind words and sentiments are spilling out of my mouth without thought.  The kind of good that jumps up to help someone without even thinking about it.  The kind of good that loves people even if they do drive me insane.  If I could, I would be so good that love would stream from every pore of my body like rays of sunshine or Silly String or something like that.

I'm blessed to have good neighbors and friends who have brought me dinners when I'm sick and when I'm not sick, who have helped me plan three weddings and a couple of funerals, who have looked after my kids as if they were their own.  These people have seen my worst, my most vulnerable self and still love me. 

Yes good people are worth their weight in gold--another good g-word.

Who are the good people that rock your world?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Too bad today's letter isn't Q because quit starts with Q. 

But today's letter is F for flaky and fear and failure.

For almost cough-47-cough years I've been trying to figure out what I want to be when I grown up.  The problem isn't that I can't think of anything to be, I can think of lots of things to be besides old and cynical, and a chocoholic, but nothing that I want to do more than a few months.  At best.  

I was going to be a nurse, mostly so I could wear scrubs, but then I kept accidentally taking my daughter's medicine after her surgery.  She'd ask for it, and I'd take it.  Then she'd say, "Aren't you going to get me my medicine?"  And I'd say, "Stop whining.  I feel good.  Why can't you?"  Then I'd walk around in circles, put groceries in the dryer and cry watching dog food commercials. 

So yeah, I got that flaky thing going on and I also have this big thing called FEAR.  It stops me from doing all kinds of things like going into my  kid's bedrooms in the basement, cleaning the fridge, and surfing. 

And it steers me away from doing things that I'm pretty sure I want to do when I'm not taking my daughter's meds.  One of those things might be writing--more than a grocery list--although that scares the heck (yes I'm a Utah girl) out of me too, because then I'm actually committed to doing something with that food I bought or turning it into a 5th grade science fair project. 

So, I need to work on not letting the fear stop me from doing stuff that I feel I'll fail at.

Thomas Edison was good at trying and failing. 

He said:

 “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”   

“We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work”


Vision without execution is hallucination.”   

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Ellen

My husband said to me, "Your D post was kind of a bust," (unlike my B post which really was a bust).  He might have also said something like, "Are you ever going to do laundry again?"  But that's more of an L post. 

Apparently he had never heard of Ellen's Dance Dare so my D post was a disaster for him.  I don't watch Ellen, mostly because I don't know how to work the t.v. even when I can find the remote. 

But hey, I've got teenage galz who must watch Ellen at school during their Citizenship in the Nation class or something because they -- T and her friends -- were all over Ellen's Dance Dare. 

So, if D didn't make sense, maybe after you read/watch E, it will.


To see more, you could try this yourself and then watch them, or you could go to Ellen's Dance Dare at You Tube.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Conference

I love Conference.  It's like a spiritual all you can eat buffet only you aren't gassy and bloated at the end unless of course you eat during all the sessions.  But hey, I only do this to stay awake because I'll be darned if those guys don't all look alike and dress alike and sound alike, except sometimes you get a speaker with a really cool accent.  Maybe if we had a pulpit pounder or two to wake me up I wouldn't have to eat. 

It might help if the Mo-Tab did a little bit-o clappin' and swayin' and busted out a tambourine or two. . . just sayin.  However, I found this (click on Come Thou Fount)  number absolutely beautiful.  It moved me to tears (always does) and even Cool Beans has been singing it all week.

My friend does fun things during conference to help her kids watch.  Basically I just yell a lot but try to do it in a nice voice.  My baby L, whose birth I'm still recouping from, drew pictures of the speakers to keep himself awake.  Here are a few:

Not quite sure why the right side of the picture didn't scan???  User error???

If I was one of those good moms, I would have immediately labeled the picture with the name of the speaker.  But I was too busy writing in my journal and being kind to the rest of my family.  Let's just say these are two of the older apostles, with sparse hair, that were wearing suits and ties.

I told him to draw a picture of Sister Beck when she spoke, but he said girls are hard.  So, he drew a picture of me instead.  He put me in a suit because after drawing for a whole session of conference, he pretty much had mastered the suit. 

Notice my heart necklace which I always wear.  And by all means, don't overlook the halo because it's not everyday you'll see me wearing one of those.  (BTW the halo was his idea, not mine.)

Yes, I love me some Conference.  And if you're wondering which talk I liked best. . . too hard to pick just one, but let's just say I was particularly moved during Elder Hollands.

Two of my favorite conference quotes:

(Pres. Uchtdorf)

"Don't judge me because I sin differently than you!"
(Pres. Uchtdorf quoting a bumper sticker)

I'll leave you with my baby's final Conference picture.  If you figure out which talk it is about, let me know :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

To B or Not to B

There is an A-Z blogger challenge going on right now.  If you're one taco short of a combination like me, this means that every day you blog about something that starts with a different letter of the alphabet in ABC order.  So some people thought my Mr. Anderson post was my letter A post.  Ha, I fooled them without even trying because when I saw that A to Z challenge I gave it a wide berth because I have a hard enough time remembering my phone number and where the children are that I birthed without trying to blog alphabetically.

But, today I have two brain cells to rub together and am full of B things to blog about like wide berths or births or brain cells, but the b thing I'm thinking about today is something that I wrote almost 15 years ago that I sent to a few magazines.  Almost all of them said, this is hilarious but not quite right for us.  Try ____.  Inevitably they would name one of the other magazines I'd sent it to.  Now it's sat in my filing cabinet long enough for shoulder pads to go out of style.  At least I don't think they're in style anymore.  Not even remotely.  I think.  But what do I know about style??  So without further ado:

To B or Not To B

I've always taken pride in the fact my self-esteem is not contingent upon the size of my bra.  That's easy for a 36C to say, but I'm not.  I'm a modest 34B, the "B" meaning barely.

In high school I danced.  Our troop did a modern number called Boomers.  We put our hands above our heads and jumped across the stage.  The dance had an Egyptian quality.  When this routine debuted at our annual spring concert; the "jock club" affectionately renamed it "Boobers."  As you can imagine the bustier troop members did more bouncing than dancing.  But not us barely 34Bs, which was fine with me.

In college, my more buxom roommates complained of backaches and bra straps cutting into sore shoulders.  The less endowed wished that the more endowed could share.  My "A" and B roommates anxiously explored the world of padded, under-wire and push-up bras.  Not me.  I had all I needed, all I wanted--just enough to distinguish me from the boys.

But that was then and this is now.  Now is 15 years and 5 kids later.  Five nursing kids later.  My breasts are the size of mosquito bites and I don't need a bra, I need two Band-Aids.

When my last baby quit nursing, I hung onto that nursing bra, stuffing it with nursing pads like I'd always done.  Besides, we'd moved and I couldn't find my old bras anyway.

Then from out of nowhere, one day while I was at ShopKo with my 5 children, a wave of guilt swept over me.  Why was I still wearing that nursing bra with the pads 6 months after I'd quit nursing?  I bravely reigned in my charges and headed for the lingerie.

"Why are we in the middle of the underwear?" my seven-year-old son asks uncomfortably.

"I need to buy a bra," I discreetly tell him.  He rolls his eyes.

"How about this one?"  My nine-year-old holds a purple lace number across her puffed-out chest.

"White, I want white."  There's an edge to my voice as I try to find an A cup and keep tabs on my four daughters who have infiltrated the lingerie section eagerly fingering bras, panties and negligees.

"Just look for something white that has an A on it," I bark a little too loudly.  Out of the corner of my eye I see a red-faced, middle-aged man quickly sidestep the pantie section.

"Oh Mom,choose this one," my four-year-old gushes.  "The woman on it is so beautiful."

I take the bra from her eager hands.  On the tag is a woman with cleavage to her nostrils.  She's smiling seductively.  The only time I've been anywhere close to that size is right after I've given birth and been engorged, and I wasn't smiling.

"Mom, will you buy this for me?"  My nine-year-old is draping a bra across her chest.  "You know I've been needing one."  The cups hang to her knees.

"You don't need a bra," I say a little too loudly. 

"I do to."  She matches my tone.

"Your breasts haven't even started to grow yet," I fiercely whisper as I quickly retrieve what must be a D cup fro off my toddler's head.

"Mom, they just don't start growing all at once!"  There's an implied "duh" at the end of her sentence.  "And besides," she continues lowering her voice and edging closer, "what if a boy bumps into my chest?  At least this way I'll be protected."

"Protected from what?" I ask.

"Well you know, b-o-y-s," she says.

"Bras do not protect you from boys," I tell her.

"But mom. . ."

I snatch the bra from her.  "Besides, I don't need a bra that big."

"I need new underwear," my five-year-old reminds me.  She's got a pair of leopard spotted panties pulled over her sweats.  They're French-cut to her arm-pits.

My son is shuffling his feet at the edge of the underwear section pretending he doesn't know us.

My cart has a dozen bras in it and I know the store patrol has this thing about three items or less in the dressing room--obviously a rule invented by someone without children.

Little heads and bodies are poking in and out from underneath my dressing room door.  I try on all of the padded, under-wire and push-up bras that ShopKo carries in an A cup trying to get some kind of lift.  But they all sit squarely on my chest oblivious to where my breasts are.

"You look beautiful," my 4 year-old gushes again as I stand there in lacy, padded push-up that's doing absolutely nothing for me.  I quickly redress as my toddler screams from somewhere outside my dressing room cell.  I round up the rest of my girls and retrieve my toddler from the men's side.  Then I emerge from the dressing room feeling like an ugly, grey moth who thought she was going to be a monarch.

"Which ones are you going to get?" my children want to know.

"None of them," I answer feeling defeated and deflated.  What can I do?  Go braless?  Every woman I know wears a bra.  People expect those lines on your back.  And besides, what if I bump into a boy?  At least I'll be protected. . . Yet no manufacturer makes a bra my size, that's because nobody my size needs a bra.  But wait, I vaguely remember being this size before.  I was eleven.  I direct my troops toward the girl's lingerie section.  You know, Pocahontas panties, Lion King undershirts, black, red and pink tights and ah yes, the training bras.  These bras are little more than undershirts with the bottoms cut off.  I grab two 34As and head for the exit.  No need to try them on.  They'll fit.  I hope.

Everybody has their cross to bear and now I have mine.  I wear my new bra much the same way Hester Prynne must have worn her scarlet letter.  All it does is put those expected lines on my back, not to mention a few on my front.  I slouch.  Why should I stand up straight and draw attention to something that's not there?  My chest is so narrow that it makes my hips and thighs feel extremely wide.  I find myself apologizing to people for my small chest--"you see I used to look normal until I had five kids and they sucked my dry. . ."

I go home and take a long look in the mirror.  I grab those saddlebags on my legs, suddenly realizing where my chest has gone.  Now I'm not a likely candidate for augmentation.  I've always thought that pumping silicone into ones chest was shallow, not to mention possibly painful.  Besides, I don't want to be voluptuous, I just don't want to be mistaken for the opposite sex.

Do I regret nursing five children?  No.  The thought of getting out of bed in the middle of the night and making a bottle is still more than I can bear.  And even now that I have a AA- cup size, my husband is grateful that I nursed so he didn't have to get up in the night and make bottles.  Besides, maybe that's not even what caused it.  I have friends who nursed and aren't flat.  Maybe age did it.  Everything's slipping down, down to my thighs.

But what am I to do?  I can't go around slouching and making excuses to total strangers about my flat chest. 

And that is how and when I discovered a whole new use for shoulder pads.  And why not?  They're cheaper than silicone and safer too.

(FYI-- It gets better;  you get older and fatter and it all comes back. . . more or less.)