Pretty in Pink-Eye

   I came down with an outrageous cold the other day. My sinuses full, my throat scratchy,  my head pounding and my eye watering. That’s right. Just the one eye. That should have been a clue.

   By the end of that miserable day my sinuses felt like they were clearing but the fluid in my eye was steadily increasing and thickening (you didn’t just eat did you?).  I woke up in the morning with this…

Don't look at the wrinkles...just the color of the eye!
Don't look at the wrinkles...just the color of the eye!

   What the hell? Am I nine? I get pink eye?

   So now I’m on isolation precautions (Let’s face it, I look hideous and I just shouldn’t be seen in public).

   Even more troubling…where the hell did those wrinkles come from around my eyes? The crappy skin tone I’ll blame on the early hour, bathroom lighting and poor quality of the cell phone picture. But those wrinkles? When the hell did that happen?

A Thirty-Second Rant From a Computer Neuter

  That’s right. 30 seconds. Because that is about all the time I have before my damn computer shuts down. It has been doing that randomly. I tried to be optimistic. “It’s just the power cord. It doesn’t seem to be connecting properly. If I just prop it up with a Snickers bar ,a remote control and some tape it’ll stay in place. See, it’s working just..what the f*@! kind of a piece of crap is this. I just hit the damn “Save” button right as this absolute piece of f*@!ing sh*@ shut down again. Oh, son. I didn’t see you standing there. Yes, Mommy was using her naughty words. Yes, I know I just grounded you for that.”

So, yes. I am a computer neuter. (Makes me regret what I did to that dog a month ago!)

I thought I would be fine. I could just use the Hubbin’s computer. Here’s the problem with that philosophy: His computer bites ass is a bit on the obsolete side. It literally takes 17 minutes from the time I hit the Power button until it’s fully operational. Every time I click on a link, it takes a minimum of 53 seconds for the page to load. That thing has been debugged and defrag’ed so many times it barely remembers that it’s a computer and capable of being a highly advanced method of information sharing and retrieval. At this point, I could send the dog after the proper encyclopedic volume and have the information within a comparable time frame. And, while the computer itself doesn’t randomly shut down (it takes 4 minutes and 49 seconds for it to take that leap!) I have found that the word processing program does and so, before I lose my rant, and am forced to polish off that bottle of Vanilla Absolut (well, I say forced, but we all know I’m looking for an excuse, and it is the first Thursday of the only month that ends with the letter “l”, which is a perfectly good reason to have a cocktail!), I will bid you all, adieu!

 

Sick Day Hell

The Oldest is home sick. I got that dreaded call from the school yesterday afternoon; “The Oldest has a fever and you need to come pick him up”.

Now, the really selfish, crappy (and dominant) part of my mothering personality kicked in initially. The thought that almost jumped out of my mouth to take its rightful place in the world of That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Verbalized-But-Suddenly-Has was, “what the hell do you mean come and get him? He’s been ok to be there for the past 6 hours, but now with one hour left, he’s too sick to be at school?” Luckily I just shut my mouth and went to pick him up.

The recessive mothering impulse came out and I did make an appointment. He is now on antibiotics but the physician’s assistant said he has to stay home from school for one or two days.

You should know that this is the child that this is the child who caused the untimely death of Rule #178. The child who talks…and talks….and talks…you get my point. He talks ALOT! And now I am at home with him. My blessed hours of quiet relief from the incessent babbling all the delightful conversation are gone.  By 7:40 am I was contemplating my first drink. At this rate I’ll be drunk by noon.  The Middle has half-day kindergarten, I don’t think it’ll go over well if show up for afternoon pick-up with a cocktail in my hand. Those first kid in school, over-achieving, PTA converts in the pick-up line wouldn’t be impressed. But, my YCS is still alive and thriving in this well-nourished, slightly wrinkling body and she doesn’t give a shit what those bitches think, so…maybe just a single shot of malt whiskey?

Actually, I’ll be ok without the drink. Today, anyway. I’m still flying high from the power of having neutered a male yesterday. It was the dog, but still…there is one fewer set of testicles in my house today because of the actions I took yesterday. Ahhh, I feel centered again.

Dealing With My Children’s Expanding Vocabulary Base

The second grade is a time in which—I am finding out—children really expand their vocabulary base. They learn new s-words like “satiate” and “sentiment”. New p-words like “perceive” and “pachyderm”. And, now, with the guidance of my dear 7-year-old, The Oldest, the entire second grade has apparently learned a new f-word.  That’s right, my son dropped the f-bomb, right there in the morning recess line.
He flat-out told a classmate to keep his f*@%ing hands to himself. I swear I don’t know where he gets the language. True, my first thought when I heard what he said was, “what the fuck was he thinking?” But, in all honesty, I rarely say the word out loud.  I actually gave up the f-word for a while (a little nod to Lent one year, and my first effort—albeit a weak one—to prove that I could make the necessary changes to be a good mother). It was several years before I used the word again. Of course, it was inevitable that someone would eventually piss me off enough that the word would come spewing from my mouth like the green vomit from Regan’s in The Exorcist.
Right now, I’m definitely blaming The Hubbin’. If it wasn’t for the fact that his head would explode, leaving me widowed to single-handedly raise three male children, I would love to sing, “I told you so, I told you so, I told you that you wouldn’t be so happy when those words came out of your children’s mouths” (cue the exploding cranium).
Now I find myself thinking back to all the times I heard one of “those” words uttered by my children. There was the time The Oldest called my husband a f***ing jackass (he was 2; I laughed). The time my very religious mother-in-law asked The Middle why he thought a wasp had stung him and he responded, “Because he was pissed off!” (again, I laughed). I’m also recalling my indecision about how to react when The Middle started using the word “damn” at two years of age. True, it was an inappropriate word for a two-year-old to be using, but he was using it appropriately within the context of the sentence.
So, now we are dealing with the results of our shortcomings as parents.  Well, a few of our shortcomings. Who could deal with the results of all of them at one time, right?

Well…

Now That I’ve Put My New Years Resolutions Behind Me…

That’s right.  It’s January…wait…what the hell is the date?

Eh-hem…It’s January 28 of the year 2009.  It has taken me 28 days to fully embrace, and then abandon, my new years resolutions.  The bad news is that I will still be a chunky, grumpy drunk by the end of the year.  The good news is that I now have more time to share my misery with all of you!

So as a late update on my holidays, because even though I know nobody gives a damn, they are my kids and they sat still for 3 photos so I am going to share them with the world!  (In all fairness, the Baby was strapped into a stroller and confronted with a large animal so there was no way he was going to move).

I have to preface this little slideshow by saying that, in general I am opposed to putting animals on display in environments that aren’t natural to them and exposing them to imposing crowds of unsympathetic gawking crowds.  But, for some reason, I still felt compelled to drag my kids to the straw littered linoleum floor of a local store to watch as the holiday creatures attempted to shield their eyes from the harsh flourescent lighting while enduring the excited screams of the human spawn.

Why doesn't he just fly away?
Why doesn't he just fly away?
Don't stare into his eyes!  He may think your challenging him.
Don't stare into his eyes! He may think your challenging him.
I think it was only a matter of time before this peaceful creature got pissed and spit at someone
I think it was only a matter of time before this peaceful creature got pissed and spit at someone

Now this picture was taken at one of the most exciting moments of the entire reindeer display.  While you’ll see my kids crouched down at the fence getting a good look, right up close and personal, you can’t see all the other kids that crowded around the periphery with their camera’s getting a REALLY good picture of the action!  I may have to add this to the potty pics!

That's right...the reindeer took a crap and the crowd gathered 'round to behold the magic of the holiday season
That's right...the reindeer took a crap and the crowd gathered 'round to behold the magic of the holiday season

How My Personal Philospohy and Behavior Have Ruined Any Hope For The Future of My Kids. Reason #43

Yes, I have a negative attitude.  Yes, I reject anything that I am “expected” to do.  Yes, I avoid traditional mother/wife activities.  I take great pride in being a little different, a little edgier.  My kids may not know how to bake (and if it’s based on what they learn from me, they may never even understand the concept) but they are learning how to Ollie a skateboard and they have a healthy appreciation for the music of AC/DC.

That said, there are moments when I realize how my mothering style affects my children in subtle, imperceptible ways, but in ways that might inhibit their ability to exist in harmony with the rest of the world.  I realize that they are missing some fundamental knowledge about the world, and everday skills that their peers are privy to.

Case in point:  I was helping the Oldest with his homework sheet.  The lesson was in reading comprehension.  Each problem presented a riddle about an object that is held in your hand and can be helpful.  Each problem was paired with a partial picture as a hint.  The Oldest easily answered most of the problems: a toothbrush, a hairbrush, a fork, etc.  He called for help because he had one problem that he just couldn’t figure out.  The riddle was “when your shirt has a rip or a tear/my friend thread and I/can do the repair”.  Now, if you know anything about me, it’s that I. Don’t. Sew.  I actually blogged about some issues I had with my slacker mentality while making Halloween costumes this year.  I have long admired the beauty of the iron-on bonding agent for seams and hems but that is where my clothing repair expertise ends.  But, I am aware of the concept of sewing.  So, the answer was pretty evident (needle!) and I sat down to try and guide the Oldest to that answer.  I posed to him several different ways of thinking about it.  This was, essentially, how that conversation went:

Me: Do you know when you get a hole or a rip in your clothes?

The Oldest: Yes

Me: Sometimes it can be fixed, right?

The Oldest: (with a skeptical look on his face) Yes

Me: So, to fix the rip you need something to help close up the hole, right.

The Oldest: Oh, yeah

Me: (head nodding in excitement as I see the wheels of comprehension turning) So, to fix the hole, you get out an….?

The Oldest: An iron!!!

Me: (Stunned silent with the awful, horrible truth of the moment and the realization that I caused this blistering lack of awareness as to how things actually work in the world).  Or, (gulp!) you, know how Grandma uses thread and a needle?

Crap!  So, there you go.  My kids don’t even know that if you wind a needle and thread around and around, you can actually mend clothing.  Aren’t I so proud of my nontraditional viewpoints now?

Sometimes, When You Pose a Hypothetical Question, The Answer Will Drop From the Skies

I admit it.  I asked the question.

This summer I was on a kick about a certain reality show that follows a group of rich women and refers to them as “Real Housewives”.  I pulled up my soapbox, perched on top of it with my laptop and created a long, rambling post about “The Real Housewives of Middle America”.  Before I got too far into my post (3rd paragraph, last sentance) I, rather bitchely, stated that if the lives those women were living were those of “real” housewives, then where the hell was “Wife Swap” when I needed them.  Well, today I got my answer.

Right there, in my little ole “in box” is an e-mail from someone at Wife Swap announcing that they are now casting.  WTF?  How come I’ve suddenly been invited?  I can think of only two reasons: 1) Someone at Wife Swap read my post or 2) Someone who knows me thinks my family is fucked up enough to make for good prime-time television.  Either way, I can find a positive slant: 1) Yay!  Someone is reading my blog (and they have a tv show!) or 2) we’re good enough for prime-time, baby!!

Just for fun, and let’s admit it, I enjoy being a little bitchy, I will share part of the e-mail with you.

The premise of Wife Swap is that one parent from each household swaps places for a week to experience how another family lives.  It is an incredible family experience and opportunity to both learn and teach different family values.

Wife Swap is a fascinating story of what happens when two couples see themselves and their partners in a whole new light. The New York Post says, “It should be called ‘Life Swap’ because it’s not just the wives who learn something here. It’s the families.

Doesn’t that sound like a fascinating experience and interesting study in interpersonal and family dynamics?  Yeah–if you haven’t seen the show.  There’s no doubt in my mind that I’d end up scrubbing pig testicles in a barn while a toothless charmer named Joe Bob lectured me on “women’s work” from the top of a cheap tractor.  The unfortunate thing is that my kids would live the rest of their lives with the image of me handing some chauvinistic douche bag his ass on national television.  We could discuss it on visiting days at the penitentiary.

Actually, I think I could handle two weeks with just about anyone.  Only the first week would be a nightmare, the second week, we play by my rules, bitches!  But, in all honestly, there is no way that I would ever allow Wife Swap into my home.  It is the same reason that keeps me from calling Super Nanny: I suck at cleaning my house and I can own that behavior but that doesn’t mean I want it broadcast for the world to see.  So, no thank you, Wife Swap, I will not be applying.

Wait, they pay money?

Scream Free Parenting Works. For Some People. Apparently.

I came across it quite by accident, I assure you.  Really, I’m not one of those self-help book, “how can I better myself?” kind of people.  If I can’t get better through trial and error, then I’m prone to continue in the same, dysfunctional life patterns that have carried me through this far.  It isn’t an honorable way to go through life but the apathy comforts me.  In my perception, there is something insincere in most self-help books.  First, it isn’t really self-help if someone else is telling you how to do it.  Second, if the author of the book or developer of the program were really interested in helping people better themselves, they would just put the information out there instead of making us spend $30 for the hardcover, or wait a year to spend $15 for the paperback.
So, there I stood in my local library looking at the books on CD section.  Again, way outside of my normal pattern because I don’t listen to audio books.  Primarily because the only place I could listen to one is in the car, and secondly my ADD-ridden mind tends to drift and I lose huge sections of what was being said forcing me to repeatedly rewind.  And, if I’m driving a car, and already not paying attention, do I really need one more thing to distract me from the narrow strip of pavement that I’m maneuvering several thousand pounds metal and combustible fuel across?
With a business trip to the pacific northwest coming up, and a bit of a road trip once I got there to look forward to, I decided to try an audio book (I wouldn’t have the kids with me, which removes one of my distractions, so by adding the CD, I’m still at par on the old distraction tally sheet).  As I stepped in front of the metal shelves that hold the audio books my eyes rested on one in particular.  Do you know that angelic music that accompanies an “a-ha” moment of divine intervention in most movies?  I swear it was like that.  Faced with a wall of small square CD cases, my eyes settled on one in particular.  Scream Free Parenting.  Now, this audio book stood out for a number of reasons.  While I don’t scream at my kids, I have been known to get a certain kind of pissed off that leads me to yell.  It is a kind of yelling that I know all too well.  And I hate to yell.  Swore I’d never use this yell when I had kids.  So, as I stood there that morning, with my throat still a little raw from my latest tirade I wondered if I were being guided by a higher power.  I wasn’t really looking for a self-help/parenting book.  Fiction was what I was really after, but you can’t really argue with the planets when they line up just right, can you?  So, I checked out Scream Free Parenting (as well as a fiction audio book, because a business trip is really like a mini-vacation for work-at-home moms, and who wants to focus on self-help when you only have 30 hours to yourself?).
So, I’ve not only listened to the (entire!) CD, I’ve actually been implementing some of the strategies with my kids.  Don’t get me wrong–it isn’t easy.  In one week I’ve gnawed a hole through my inner cheek and bitten chunks out of more plastic items than the puppy has (sure is handy to have a puppy to blame that on!).  To anyone who doesn’t know better, it must seem like I’ve been stricken with some strange affliction that causes me to breathe deeply with closed eyes before every sentence.  I’ve also solved the problem of having spare liquor hanging around the house (notice I didn’t say that I’ve quite drinking, only that there’s no spare liquor around!).
I’ve only yelled once in a very stress-filled week, and it was for a very short-lived period, seconds really.  And I patted myself on the back for my reserve.  Then I surveyed the battle scene.  The Oldest and the Middle dutifully picking up every goddamn toy that I’d just tripped over (after having been threatened several times that if they weren’t picked up they’d be in the trash), looking back over their shoulders at me as they did so, eyes wide and glistening with tears as their lower lips quivering in defeat.
And I was 4 1/2 feet tall, and I could feel the wall against my back and how the sound of the yelling reverberated in my ears and rattled every bone in my body.  And how small I felt.  How very, very small and insignificant.  And I realized what an asshole I was to be standing there, patting myself on the back because I’d only yelled once this week.  This week.
So, now I’m off to the damn library to find that damn audio book again so that I can listen one more damn time and commit it a bit more to my damn memory.  And, while I know how important it is, how critically consequential, I have to admit that it pisses me off to have been showed my ass by self-help (audio!) book.

My Halloween Journey to Self Discovery

I think I’ve finally recovered.  I had to take some time for self-reflection and I think I’ve finally rediscovered my true self (not my YCS…she’s long gone and I still haven’t really dealt with that, which is why I drink, dress and party in a manner that is just sad for someone of my age!).  No, I’ve had to reconcile my inner self with my public persona.
I came to a crossroads recently that left me questioning myself.  I think that at some point, everyone is faced with that one defining moment when you have to decide where your values really lie and what kind of person you truly want to be.  Do you quietly acquiesce as life pushes you into newer, uncomfortable decisions or do you stay the course, remaining steadfast to the path you’ve set for yourself?  These are decisions that don’t come easy.  Even if you hold tightly to your true course in life, transient thoughts will often invade your mind, making you question everything you’ve ever held dear.  And so, I faced this question myself.  Do I want to continue to acquire new skills that, were I a traditional female, I should have mastered years ago, or continue on my course as a slacker mom?
Okay, enough with all the soul-searching verbiage.  Basically, it was before Halloween and I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to skate by and throw the kids into some crappy, but easy to assemble costumes or show up the other mothers make my kids happy.  Well, The Oldest wanted to be Indiana Jones, not too hard, right?  The Middle has been practicing his Jedi mind tricks (which means he’s been fucking with my mind a lot lately).  The Baby was clueless about the concept, which is a HUGE bonus for me, and yes, I realize that this precious time won’t last long.
After I spent some time considering my options, and the overpriced, poorly constructed, commercial Halloween costumes available in our local chain stores, I decided that even I could come up with a decent costume (and at a considerable savings!).  Now, don’t get bent out of shape just yet.  I haven’t belied my skills as a mom.  I don’t do many most of the things that traditional moms are expected to do.  I don’t iron, I barely cook or clean and I don’t sew (oh, and don’t even think about inviting me to your damn scrap booking party because I’d rather hot glue my labia together).  Not only do I not sew, my husband once had to buy new shorts because we were about to go on vacation and the button had fallen off of his favorite shorts.  Don’t judge me, he could have picked up gone out and bought a needle and thread just as easily as I could have!  So, what was it that made me think I could pull off Halloween costumes?  Well there is a secret arsenal available to slacker moms like myself.  If you are a traditional mom, you may not even know that these things exist, but if you look very closely at the hemlines or cuffs of your children’s classmates you may notice…fabric glue and iron-on adhesive.  That’s right, there are moms who use that crap for actual clothing repair and construction.  Now, I did mention an iron.  However, it doesn’t involve true ironing skills, you simply hold a hot iron against something that melts, and who hasn’t accidentally done that a million times?
So, my Halloween plans were lining up.  I bought all of my supplies and carefully planned each step of my creative process.  Here’s what I didn’t figure on: making a damn Jedi costume out of iron-on adhesive and fabric glue takes a long damn time.  It is too much work to try to slack at!  In my darkest, most exhausted moment, as I peeled the dried fabric glue away from my blistered burns, I confessed to my husband, “I never thought I’d say this, but it might have been easier if I had a sewing machine.”  He got me another beer to drown out the sound of the unreasonable voices in my head—I love that he knows me so well.
So, next Halloween, no matter how much the kids beg, no matter how much I want to prove that I’m just as crafty as the other moms, I will not subject myself to that kind of torture.  I will accept that I am not that mom; I will not pressure myself to conform to unrealistic maternal ideals.  I will simply buy extra toilet paper and send everyone damn one of them out as a mummy.

The cause of my breakdown (the costume--not the kid--well, not this time!)
The cause of my breakdown (the costume--not the kid--well, not this time!)

After all the preparation, he forgot his brown leather jacket for the photo shoot!
After all the preparation, he forgot his brown leather jacket for the photo shoot! Oh, and it's a fake beard--he isn't a mutant!

The poor child who had to accept that he was just getting ears sewn onto a brown hoodie!  He got over it once the M&M's started rolling his way!
The poor child who had to accept that he was just getting ears sewn onto a brown hoodie! He got over it once the M&M's started rolling in

Why Is Your Underwear In The Toy Box? And Other Questions You Don’t Really Want To Know The Answers To.

Sometimes you know, as soon as the question passes through your lips, that you really don’t want to know the answer.  So why is it that we can’t stop asking the questions?  The list is endless but these are some of the ones that have come up, just this week.

  • Why is your underwear in the toy box?
  • What is that smell?
  • Did you eat all of the cupcakes?
  • How much is that going to cost?
  • Is that my bra?
  • Why is it so quiet in the kids’ room?
  • What did you just flush down the toilet?
  • Where did my tampons go?
  • Did you like the new recipe?
  • What did I just step in?
  • How many calories could be in that?
  • Should we invite your mom?
  • Are you gonna throw up?
  • How long have you been standing there in the dark, son?  No, really.  How long?

Note to self: stop asking the questions.  And close the bedroom door!  (FYI, it was only a near-catastrophe).