Words of Welcome for a New Baby Boy (aka- Words of Warning for Parents of a New Baby Boy)

Friends from work welcomed a new baby boy early this morning.

Of course, every time a new baby makes an appearance on the periphery of one’s life, it causes one to sit back, reminisce, and then assault the new parents with a litany of advice and rules (most of which we rolled our eyes at and chalked up to complete bullshit when we were on the receiving end!).

So, I’d just like to take a moment to welcome little Colton into the world and offer him some support as he makes this transition into the exterior world. So, little baby, these are the things I’ll tell your parents. It’s real-world advice that most people won’t discuss in “mixed company”, but I’m here for you. It’s really what I do best (and because after three kids, I still don’t really know shit about layettes and how many onsies a person should have–which may explain a lot about my parenting journey, but back to your parents…).

I’ll tell them that:

  1. You’re going to pee on things. Lots of things. Like, not even now, or when you’re potty training, but a few years later. Just when they assume it shouldn’t be an issue.
  2. In the first few months, as they transition into the sleep-depraved, coffee-fueled parents they thought only existed in sit-coms, the magic words are: Always cover the wee-wee. They may be too tired to take the extra step, they may think they can change a diaper fast. But nothing on earth is as fast as the sudden breeze that sweeps in from tinkle-land and causes a baby boy to respond. As fast as that stream is, it’s also multi-directional, and nothing will wake them up faster than the light tinkle of urine spraying the window blinds over their shoulder at 2 am.
  3. Never put the baby directly on the couch, bed or carpet. Always have a blanket or towel (cheap ones that you don’t care about, but not so cheap that they give off carcinogenic fumes when you burn them!). You may think a diaper and clothing serve as a barrier, but there will be blowouts of such magnificent proportions that you can’t get into the same room without getting some on you. Trust me people, poop travels…far!
  4. Speaking of poop–never, ever, ever again assume that something is chocolate.
  5. You will do and say things that will make them question their own sanity. You’ll also say things that–however innocent–will sound completely inappropriate. Usually in public. In a very loud voice. In that two-second time span when every other sound on earth has paused. And everyone will look at them with the judgiest of judgemental faces. And just when you have everyone’s attention, you just feel free to say one more thing to really tip the balance out of their favor (trust me, they’ll just smile and shrug. There’s really nothing else they can do!).
  6. They’ll have to make rules they never imagined they’d have to verbalize: a) You cannot pee on your brother; b) Sneaking food in your underwear isn’t a good idea; c) You can’t put sausage patties in a toaster; d) You can’t use the plastic bins just because you’re in the middle of a LEGO project–get up and go to the bathroom. (I’m really not profiling–a lot of things boys do just involve pee)

But despite the exasperating, appalling, confusing, and human waste covered moments they’ll never be the same. They’ll barely be able to recall a time when you weren’t in their lives, they’re first and last thoughts each day will be of you, and every cell in their bodies will be finely tuned to where you are in the world and will know on a cosmic level if you are safe, well, and happy. And if you do nothing else in the world, the fact that you exist has made them exactly who they are right now, and it is the very best of everything!

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Mother’s Day 2017

Happy-Mothers-Day  Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies out there who answer to the name “Mom” (also “Mommy”, “Momma”, “Ma”, and sometimes, “Worst Mom EVER!!!!”).

For all of you who have stumbled from the warm cocoon of your blankets at all hours of the night to chase away bad dreams, feed hungry babies, change the wet, clean vomit and to administer a cuddle because a small voice called out in the middle of the night to request it, Happy Mother’s Day.

For all of you who’ve ever spent hours pureeing fresh vegetables (even those of use who gave up that dream rather quickly!), baking birthday cakes, making halloween costumes, experimenting (and, maybe, failing) with Pinterest projects, and slaving over school b6fa1b1bf93319761fb4b557c7e88993projects with a day’s notice, Happy Mother’s Day.

For all of you who have handed over your soda on a hot day because your child spilled theirs, who eat cold food because you make sure everyone else has been served first, who’s “tv time” involves folding laundry, and who haven’t had an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom in years (maybe even a decade!), Happy Mother’s Day.

For all of you who are rocking this motherhood thing, and those who struggle, but keep at it because you know how important it is in the long run–for your kids and yourself–, Happy Mother’s Day.

And for those who have lost, and those who have craved or dream of motherhood, and those who care for others in mothering ways, Happy Mother’s Day.

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Tráeme Una Cerveza Now, Punk!

As a parent I’ve done one thing right over the past year. Well, maybe there were…well, there was the time when…wait, no…yeah, just the one thing.
Anyway, I did one thing right. We were faced with an upheaval with regards to the kids’ school. One was going to be going to middle school, one going into the fourth grade and, after five years at the same school, we were told that our kids wouldn’t be allowed school of choice. Both boys would have to go to a new school.
Since we live very close to the local charter school we took a chance, filled out a mountain of paperwork and got The Oldest and The Middle onto the waiting list (numbers 20 and 21 respectively). A couple of months later we got the call that they were in.
Right away I was impressed with the advanced curriculum. My kids were both learning Latin and Spanish in addition to the other core classes. Having taken quite a bit of Spanish myself during college, I was excited for the chance to share this new language with them. My mind was in constant motion trying to remember what I had learned so many years ago. Not just the nouns and sentence structure, but how to conjugate verb forms.
I began to realize that there are certain words and phrases that are easily recalled and others that I struggle with. It makes me think a lot about the science of memory. Why do we remember some things so much easier than others? Is it that I learned and remembered certain things because they were so important to me at the time? Did I recognize these words as fundamental to my future survival and lock them away in a special file for easy retrieval? Or, is it because of the importance these things hold in my life now? Did I search more deeply through my files to retrieve them because they are fundamental to my survival now?
Either way, it’s troubling. The fact is, based on my current understanding of, and ability to use, the Spanish language I can order food, cocktails and find a bathroom in any Spanish-speaking nation (not only can I order a beer, wine or vodka in Spanish, it seems I’ve retained the ability to do so in sign language as well).
Even more disturbing is the fact that I can clearly instruct someone “take off all your clothes” (I’m sure there’s a story there and you can be sure I won’t be sharing it).
The fact is that all of my imagined bonding with my children over a new language isn’t shaping up the way it was supposed to. There won’t be any leisurely afternoons spent talking about our gringo family members behind their backs. No long conversations about Bless Me Última after we’ve all read it (in Spanish, of course). My kids will be just like me, using every bit of Spanish they know to order enchiladas a là diablo and una cerveza at a dive just outside of Cancún. Oh, and ordering people to take off their clothes.
That’s the whole apple & the tree thing at work (or: la manzana y el árbol)

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Karma’s a Bitch With a Needle

We all go through phases in our lives and I’ve been through my fair share. There was the new wave/punk phase, the “experiment with everything my parents hate” phase, the “This is FlyBoy and I LUV him” phase (which coincidentally occurred in the height of the “experiment with everything my parents hate” phase).

Not all phases are of our choosing. The “poodle permanent, oval plastic frame glasses and braces” phase was definitely NOT my choice (though I did cap it off with the Madonna inspired neon ankle socks & fingerless lace gloves).

Right now I am in a phase that I didn’t choose. Oh, sure, I played a part, I admit that I can’t keep my opinions to myself. Particularly when I: 1.) am asked, and 2.) am paying the mortgage, doing most of the laundry, cooking , grocery shopping and managing the schedules of 4 out of 5 members of the household. And so, I now find myself firmly entrenched in the “You’re the worst mother in the world” phase of my life.

It isn’t a phase that one actively seeks out. No mother aspires to reach that status. You just kind of fall in to it. And once you do, it’s a bitch to get out of it.

The “You’re the worst mother in the world” phase is a bit of a catch-22. You can’t get into it if you don’t really care about your kids, but it’s so hard to get out of it because you care about your kids. I could easily get out of this phase by just deciding that I don’t give a shit anymore. Believe me, I’ve thought about it. I’ve run through the scenarios and here’s how I see that playing out: I tell my kids that I don’t give a shit anymore. “I don’t give a shit if you clean your room, use shampoo in your hair, flush the toilet or do your homework.” They, in turn, grow up to be lazy, smelly, under employed idiots–though arguably the most dedicated video game players known to mankind–who can’t keep a roommate or job because of their slovenly ways. At some point, they are going to need rent, or bail, money (again due to said slovenly ways). They are going to swear to pay it back, or work it off, and because I know better, I’ll have to say “No”. And at that point, I’ll once again enter the “You’re the worst mother in the world” phase.

So, here I am stuck in this phase while it plays out. Which brings me to Karma. And the needle. You see, my precious, darling children–the ones who talk back, indignantly break rules, and try to tattle to my husband when I punish them–had a little surprise after school today. Oh, yes, my friends, it is flu shot season. And I admit I took a very sick and perverse pleasure this year in hauling my brood to the flu shot clinic.
don’t judge, I’m not in the mood. EVER

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Why Doesn’t Anyone Take Ca$h Anymore?

There are so many cyclical events in my life–and they all seem to involve the almighty dollar. Either I’m shelling out the cash or involved in some scheme to reel it in on behalf of some entity. Right now, we are in the middle of Little League season. Since Day 1 of practice I’ve had my eye keenly tuned to the group of parents in the stands, huddled together against the bipolar Colorado spring weather (tanning one day then ass freezing cold the next). I’ve been waiting for the day she would make herself known. You know who I mean: the Team Mom. The over-eager, ultra-organized, Delegator-type who has over-the-top ideas about all the great things we, as parents, should accomplish for our team. Not only does she have all of these crazy-assed schemes ideas, but she comes with charts and graphs about who has been assigned to do what, and when it’s to be done. Every day we went to practice, and every day she didn’t rear her head. Then I realized maybe, in order to throw off the parents who were avoiding the Team Mom/Delegator they had enlisted a Team Dad. And so, I waited.  No dad. No team snack lists. No overly decorated four-wheeler tractor/parade float plans. Could it be? No fund-raising? No parental responsibility (beyond delivering the players to the game and yelling at the umpire, of course)?

Don’t get me wrong, I know that all of these activities my kids are involved in require funding. I just don’t understand why so many people think its easier to bake two dozen damn cupcakes and take my kids out to peddle them at the feet of all the un-registered offenders  in town than to just hand over the cash.

And then, four games into the season, just when I thought we were home free, Coach announces that he has a list of dates that our team has to help run the concession stand and we have to send three parent volunteers–and for the record, they use the word volunteer incorrectly, they are actually referring to parent draftees–to work for 2 1/2 hours. So there I am, in a group of parents and facing the coach, what else could I do? I picked the first night and sent The Hubbin’ off  to sling soda and snacks for an evening. So, don’t ever let it be said that I won’t do my part and sacrifice for the kids.

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In the Words of Van Halen: Go Ahead and Jump!

I (so, so, so) frequently find myself in the position where I think I am about to congratulate one of my spawn on a job well done, only to find out that their boisterous claims are really about something that’s going to make me  go all Linda Blair on them. I try not to make that jump– from smiling, pleasant Stepford mom to head turning, pea puking, demon– too quickly.  Don’t want to frighten the little buggers!

This morning The Oldest came into the room, bragging about how he’d just broken his all time world record.

“You did?” I asked, with true enthusiasm, as I imagined some wad of gum that I didn’t know about that had been chewed in secret every night for 62 days, or a some other Guinness-worthy record breaker.

“Yeah,” he responded, so proud and excited. “I broke my teeth brushing record.”

Now, there are a few times, as a seasoned veteran at this whole parenting thing, when you catch whiff of something stinky. Ironically, just last night, that thing I caught whiff of, was The Oldest’s breath. That little puzzle piece paired with this new claim set me onto a path I didn’t really want to get to the end of.

“What teeth brushing record is that, son?” Like I don’t already know where this is headed.

“Umm,” he starts, realizing he may have painted himself into a corner he isn’t equipped to escape from, “the record about how long I (muffled mumble) brushed my teeth.”

“How long you what?” Innocently, but again, like I don’t know what he’s suddenly decided was a bad idea to come bragging to me about.

“About how long I (muffled mumble) brushed my teeth.”

“How long since you have brushed your teeth, or haven’t?”

“Haven’t”

–cue the jump to pea-puking demon

 

For the record, because I know some of you really want to know, the record stands at 10 days!!!

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Drinking Games For The 10 and Under Crowd

One of the great things about Christmas is that there are still people out there who will save a kid the torture of an ugly sweater, a foreign-language biopic that “he’ll learn to appreciate later in life”, or a festively wrapped summer sausage and will just give ca$h! This year, with those kinds of people in our lineage, my kids cleaned up!
Now, considering that today is a full five days after the celebration for the blessed birth of the baby Jesus, my kids couldn’t stand to let that money go unspent for even one more day.
After a simple act of bribery on my behalf (“if you want to go spend your money, you need to get your rooms and bathroom cleaned,”– having that carrot to dangle is a little Christmas miracle for mommy) we headed through the snowstorm to the mall (or the “galleria” as The Middle has taken to calling it in preparation, I assume for his big move to California where he will become a pro skateboarder and share trick tips with Tony Hawk and Ryan Sheckler over a 6 pack of McNuggets!).
The Oldest and The Middle have two distinctly different buying styles. The Oldest takes for-ev-er to decide what he wants to buy. Then, he is struck with buyers remorse, before he’s even left the aisle! He changes his mind 10 times before leaving he store–sometimes without having bought anything at all! The Middle, on the other hand, is a swirling tempest of untapped buying power. Each selection he makes is followed with the question, “Now how much do I have left to spend?”. He won’t stop until every penny has been sent out into the world to do it’s part to help stimulate the economy.
So, after having spent most of his money at the alter of XBox, The Middle went in search of some toy that would wrap up his little spending spree. What he walked away with would, in the marketing and retail placement world, be described as a “game”. My stomach rolled a little as I realized that I had, indeed , played this game, and another very similar version, myself. This game consists of a cup and a couple of ping pong balls. The goal, if you haven’t guessed this already, is to bounce the ball onto the table and have it land in the cup (yes, some of us used to play that game with quarters…hmmm, now what was the name of that game? Oh, yeah! Quarters!).
Initially I was a little concerned that my son is getting such an early introduction to drinking games. Then I remembered how the games where played. It’s the person who lands the ball/quarter in the cup who gets to make the rules (remember the thumbs rule?) and ultimately takes the fewest shots. The best player is really the most sober kid at the party! I’m actually preparing my son for a more successful college experience and I owe it all to some product development guy at Hasbro (who, quite honestly is probably some 20 year old intern who stayed up late playing beer pong or quarters the night before the big “new product brainstorming session” and could think of nothing else to offer as an idea). Now, I need to find a way to “borrow” the new “toy” for the next wine & cheese Beerfest I’m throwing in our kitchen.

A kid can go far in life with a mom who'll let him get a faux-hawk & teach him drinking games...right?

 

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Bad Parenting, or Just Clean Fun?

Certainly every parent out there has laughed at one of their children being tortured, right? No? Just me? Well, to make matters worse, not only am I laughing at the torture being inflicted upon The Oldest, I am also the proud mother of the perp, or as I like to call him: The Middle.

To set the story up there are a few things you need to know about my two oldest boys. The Oldest has wanted to be a soldier since he was two years old. He lives & breathes the military and his ambitions have been unwavering. He shows a deep reverence for all things military & still has the letters from his soldier pen pal and a plastic bag that his soldier’s wife gave him that had pencils & other military themed objects. I cannot stress how obsessive serious this boy is about his future in the armed services. Now, as devoted as The Oldest is to all things military, The Middle is just as steadfast in his ambitions to continuously fuck with his older brother.

The Oldest went in to shower this evening. Being very careful about one of his most precious items, dog tags actually engraved with his name (imagine Gollum stroking the ring while cooing, “My Precious…” and you get the idea), he closed the drain & put the tags in the sink.

Feeling a shift in the universal balance between the good and evil–and finding an unlocked door– The Middle made his way into the bathroom, discovered the cherished item and made off with it.

Here is how I came into the story: I had just finished the dishes when I heard a funny noise. click-click, click-click, click-click. I went back and forth from the kitchen to the living room. click-click, click-click, click-click. It was then that I noticed the dog following me…

Notice the appropriately placed "Dog Tags" hanging from her neck?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I immediately knew who the perpetrator was and called him into the room to chastise him. “You know how mad he’s going to be,” I told him. To which The Middle responded, “I know. When he asks where his dog tags are I’m just gonna tell him ‘I don’t know, did you check the dog?'” At that moment my heart swelled with a very conflicted sort of pride. And I knew that, although I should use that moment to make him more aware of how his actions, even in jest, can affect another person, it just wasn’t in my heart. This was too damn funny!

(…and before you send me a shocked nasty-gram about this: The Oldest thought it was damn funny too!)

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If You Build It–AND Leave It Open 24 Hours a Day–They Will Come

I awoke to a beautiful site today. I opened the blinds of the kitchen window to find my new back yard covered in snow.

There was a time in my life when I hated snow. I believe that time closely correlates with the time in my life that I realized that being “treated like an adult” required me to get my ass out of bed and be to work. Yes, even if 8 inches of packed, white, cold powder covered every road in town, I was expected to be there & ready for work at 6 am.

As I’ve grown older I’ve reconciled my feelings about snow with other things that are important to me. Christmas, for instance. I am semi-fanatical about really love the Christmas holiday season. From the minute the Thanksgiving Turkey is wolfed down until the Christmas decorations are put away in March I am filled with holiday spirit. And, recognizing that snow is a very important part of that time has helped be become more tolerant of, and even learn to enjoy, the snow.

And so, when I found the world outside of door covered in snow this morning I was at peace. Christmas carols filled my head and I gave a silent nod, welcoming the true arrival of Father Winter. I woke the Oldest and the Middle, excitedly telling them about the snow. And then set about to make their breakfast so they could go off to school with…wait…school. Snow. Cold. “Oh, shit!,” I yelled, “We don’t have winter coats for the kids!”

Now, in my defense, the weather in western Colorado is a little unpredictable. A clear, 65-degree day can be followed by the worst snow storm in centuries, which will be followed by a week of 65-degree days. We had barely broken out the light jackets so winter coats hadn’t really entered our minds yet…and that’s partially due to my slacker tendencies.

So, there I am, rummaging through the closet to find a matching pair of shoes for my own feet, while shucking my coffee-stained T-shirt for a more appropriate “public” shirt.

Gotta run to WalMart. Snowing. Need coats. Kids eating breakfast. Love you.” I called to The Hubbin as I hurdled two dogs and rushed out the door.

As I stood there, in an almost empty super center, holding three coats, three hats and three pairs I gloves–and faced the post-retiree cashier who knowingly appraised my purchases and sized up my parenting skills in one glance–I had to hand it to Sam Walton and his chain store posse. Years ago they recognized parenting trends across the US, postulated that a time would come when parents could need any number of items at 5 am, and they built 24 hour SuperCenters within 30 minutes of every American home. And, from this underachieving mom I’ve got to say, God bless them for that!

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