Bad News For My Kindergartener

  • Yes, school is every weekday.  For the next 16-21 years.  And then you’ll work a similar schedule when you grow up.  Only there will be no summer breaks then.  I told you to enjoy your life of leisure while it lasted.
  • No, you don’t get to eat lunch at school.  For one more year you’ll have to suffer through healthy, home-prepared (notice I didn’t say home cooked…there’s a difference!) meals.  Next year you’ll be stuck at school all day and you can gorge yourself on Little Smokies and mushy tater tots then.
  • I don’t believe that after all these years they have changed the direction that the letters of the alphabet face.  I also don’t believe that the rules of addition have changed.  So, we will do your homework the way I learned it.
  • You don’t need to ride the bus.  Your mommy picks you up at school.  And yes, someday you’ll be embarrassed to be seen on school grounds with your chubby, old mom who may have woken up late and thrown on her best sweat pants/plaid shirt/crocs combination before strapping on a fanny pack and rushing you to school.  But, bear in mind, the first time you bitch about it or fail to kiss me good-bye, I’ll start putting curlers in my hair and I’ll personally walk you to your classroom every day.  (And to everyone else, I don’t really have wear a fanny pack).
  • Sometimes, you’ll have to learn stuff that you don’t think you’ll ever need in life.  I had to learn the metric system because they swore to me that the whole world would be using it by the time I graduated.  The U.S. didn’t convert but I did go into the medical field where the metric system is used.  The lesson is…just learn the crap they tell you, you never know what will happen.
  • Get all you can out of school because you’ll have to support yourself.  You can’t live here forever.
  • And one last bit of bad news/advise for you dear son: get good grades so you’ll qualify for scholarships.  Sorry, it was the big screen or the college fund.  I’m not good with delayed gratification.

Back From “Quality Time” Hell…And I’ve Got Some Bitchin’ To Do

Yes, I have been gone.  For a very long time.  A long, long, long time.  And believe me, I’ve got some things bottled up that need to get out.
I used to wonder, “Where the hell did blogging come from?  Whose idea was that?” Now I know.  Blogging had to have been the brainchild of someone with children, who had a whole lot of “quality time” and very few vices with which to fall back on.  You know, somewhere out there was a thirty-year old in a housecoat she swore she’d never wear, with a runny-nosed toddler on one hip, a toad in the microwave, a dog and a kindergartener sharing Coco Puffs under the kitchen table while the Backyardigans blared in the background, and she realized there was no way she could crack open a beer without dropping the baby.  So, what’s a girl to do?  How do you cope with that “This Is Your Life” moment?  Go online, of course and rake your family over the coals for the perverse amusement of others who are trapped in the same inescapable, parental hell and searching for the one person in the world who may be worse off.  And so, blogging was born.  (Okay, that’s how it happened in my mind, I don’t want to know how it really came about so please don’t destroy my vision!).
So, what has happened in my absence?  I had a birthday.  The kids started school. One of my stay-at-home jobs is sucking the life out of me occupying a lot of my time. We got a puppy.
Let’s talk about back to school.  By now I think everyone’s kids are back in school.  My kids started in August.  The Oldest is in second grade and The Middle started kindergarten.  We spent the last couple of weeks of summer trying to cram in as much quality time as we could with the kids.  We drug them to fishing trips, movies, parties, outings, and even a trip to that damn, wretched palace of childhood glee, Chuck E. Cheese’s.  All of which I’m pretty sure was done to assuage my guilt at the daily countdown that was running through my mind, “15 days until they go to school…14 days until they go to school…13 days…”.
I barely survived back to school shopping without my head rocketing up into the metal beams of the store.  Let’s first talk about back to school clothes.  In my area, school starts in mid-August.  It is still freakin’ HOT here.  Why in the hell are my choices long sleeve shirts and jacket combinations?  Yes, I know, some people think ahead and get their shopping done early.  I am NOT a Martha, nor will I ever be.  (Martha- a noun.  Meaning: An uptight, overachieving bitch A female caretaker who consistently demonstrates significantly superior organizational, creative and culinary skills.  A member of the Martha Stewart minions).
School started on a Monday, I was back-to-school shopping a week and a half before, and that was early for me.  Not only do I not get my shopping done when the clothes I’ll need are still in season, there’s a good chance I’ll be stopping at the 24-hour super center on the way to school to pick up the new shoes and socks I forgot to buy.  Since it is almost impossible to find the short sleeve shirts we need, I’ll have to introduce my boys to the stylish world of cutting the sleeves off and rolling up the frayed edges.  Paired with a long sleeve T-shirt and we will be ready for winter when it finally arrives…in December!
What about school supplies?  I don’t know how every other region does it, but in mine the stores carry lists from every school that tells what supplies you need for each grade.  What a great idea, only why don’t those stores also put the listed supplies in the back-to-school section?  The Middle needed a box of 8 crayons.  The list said, quite specifically, “8 count crayon box.  Traditional colors. No more than 8 crayons, please”. I finally hunted down a box that only had 8 crayons, and I only had to walk to the complete opposite side of the jumbo-surplus retail hell to find it in the Office Supply section.  There needs to be a compromise.  Either stock the 8-count crayons with the rest of the school supplies or let us bring a box of 24 crayons.  They’re 5 year olds, there’s a good chance that 60% of the crayons are going to be eaten or stuffed up somebody’s nose anyway, so why not let us buy the extra crayons to make up the difference?
A week later, at Back to School Night, I was happy that I had The Baby in my arms because I was handed a list of supplies specific to each classroom that I now had to buy.  It would have been a shame to strangle a teacher in front of all those eager school children before they had the benefit of her teaching.
Now I need to mention coordination.  When they called to print up the lists for school supplies why not ask the teachers, “Hey anything else you need them to buy?  You know, so the frazzled, school-poor schmucks who are breathing with relief because their school shopping is done don’t flip out and strangle you when they get a new shopping list.”
Then I looked at the list for The Middle’s class.  The last item, I kid you not, was an empty frosting container.  Where the hell does such a random need come from?  That isn’t the kind of thing I have just laying around the house.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m no Martha.  To have a frosting container implies baking, and I don’t expose my kids to that kind of behavior (it will just lead them to have unreasonably high expectations of my maternal skills if I start trying to develop them now).  So, now I have to go to the damn store, buy a container of frosting, and eat the whole damn thing to meet my obligations.  I bought chocolate.  Wiped the residue out with my finger and licked it off.  Hey, it only said empty, didn’t say nothing about clean.
So, there I am walking out of the store with arms loaded down with school supplies.  A screaming baby in one arm, The Middle and The Oldest fighting over who gets to push the door open and then blaming each other when the automatic door opened and dumped them on their butts, car keys dangling out of my mouth, and only one thought occupying my brain.  But there was no way I could crack open a beer without dropping something.
And so…I blog.

The Real Housewives of Middle America

I’ll admit it.  Sometimes I stay up late at night and watch the most vapid television shows known to man.  Some of them are completely inane, even by reality show standards (wait, did I just pair the words “reality shows” and “standards” in the same sentence?).  My favorite late night indulgence has become Bravo.  Not only does that channel offer some of the best (and by best, I don’t mean quality!), late night programming on television, but if you miss a show, they play it all night and several times a week so that you can catch it again.

The other night, while looking through the schedule of programs I noticed one that caught my eye.  It was a preview for “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”.  Now, if you aren’t familiar with the whole “Real Housewives” conglomerate, let me enlighten you.  It all started with “The Real Housewives of Orange County” a reality show that followed five rich women in, you guessed it, Orange County, CA.  That was followed by “The Real Housewives of New York City, and now, apparently “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”.

Here’s the thing.  These women aren’t like any of the “real housewives” I’ve ever met.  They live in HUGE houses, drive top of the line cars, wear designer clothes, host gala events, and, oh yeah, most of them have jobs, which goes against the entire idea of being a housewife.  These women would never survive if they were expected to be a housewife in the rest of the world.  Drop one of those women off in some town in Middle America and she would be cowering in a corner of the first Wal-Mart she was forced to drag three screaming kids through.  And where the hell is Wife Swap when I want to prove a point?

Now I find myself wondering, could a reality show ever succeed if it portrayed the reality that most of us live with?  What would it take to make “The Real Housewives of Middle America” a hit?  True, it would lack some of the glitz and product endorsement opportunities of our more financially endowed sisters, but deep down, don’t we really have similar lives?

I submit that I do very similar things during my days as they do, only on a smaller scale.  We have the same joys and the same aggravations it’s really just a matter of perspective.

For instance:

  • I have a gardener and, yes, I’ve been known to nag at him.  But, it’s his house too and the dog that’s crapping in the front yard isn’t mine alone.
  • I too support the arts.  Every year I buy extra crayons, markers and supplies for the entire classroom.
  • I enjoy the theater.  I actually attended a gala event at the local theater.  OK, it was opening night for the new 14-plex cinema and we were only invited because The Hubbin helped build it, but still…
  • I enjoy shopping and I prefer brand names.  That’s right, I prefer to spend the extra money for Del Monte instead of saving a few pennies on the “store” brand.  I admit it; I can be a wasteful consumer.
  • I am involved in community service.  I gave all the clothes that didn’t sell at my yard sale to the Catholic Outreach.  I supported the building of a rehab for meth addicts in our community (I supported it in a “yeah, I’d support the building of a rehab” kind of way, not a “yeah, I’ll donate a huge amount of money to build a rehab” way).  I’ve attended a ball for charity, and even spent over $100 on silent auction items to support the neutering of cats.  Hey, after 3 pregnancies, I’ll sign up for any neutering project.
  • I have a pool boy (aka The Hubbin) who refuses to wear a Speed-o when cleaning the pool. He does have a point, it’s a little pool he can clean it without getting his jeans wet.  He just has to tip it over and refill it.  I just think the Speed-O would be a nice touch.
  • I consider myself a “foodie” and enjoy attending soirées hosted by my family and friends.  It’s true that these events usually involve pizza and a keg but sometimes they go very chic and add one spinach & feta pizza instead of the usual stack of 32 meat lovers.  And as a proper guest, I always bring the hostess a box of the best wine in town.

So, you see, we really are very similar.  And it’s time that the real “Real Housewives” of America stand up and demand to be appreciated for the ranch-style home owning, Chevy driving, Levi wearing, warehouse store shopping, domestic goddess lives we’re leading.

Confessions of a Slacker Mom

I was raised right. My mom provided me with the basics that I would one day need in order to care for a family of my own.  Through her example I learned what it takes to support a husband and children; how to provide them with a good home to house their souls, good food to nourish their bodies, and a kind, caring manner with which to nurture their hearts.  So, what the hell happened to me?
The fact is that I am a slacker mom.  While I started out with an idealistic view of the kind of mother I would be, that ideal died the same agonizing, torturous death that most of my parenting rules have suffered.
I know.  Some of you are getting short of breath right now.  Your heart is racing and your chest is constricting.  You’re very dedicated to your family.  You’ll do almost anything to provide them with warm, comfortable, memorable lives.  And now here is a mom who has fallen from grace.  One who has given up the holy grail of motherhood—perfection.  Now you’re worried.  “Will I give up and become a slacker, too?” Or worse, “Who is DisgruntledMom?  Do her kids play with mine?”  The answer to both questions is—maybe!
Some of you know you’re slackers, some only suspect, or worry, that you’re headed down that path.  I’ve put together a few things that I know about myself (I’m not proud but I’ll own them!).  As you scan the list, if you notice any similarities between my life and yours, sorry, but you may in fact be a slacker mom!

Cleaning:

  • I’ve been known to dust around lamps, books, etc.
  • I will sometimes vacuum the hairballs & big piles of dust off of the hardwood floor rather than sweep.
  • Mop???
  • I will lay towels under the toddler’s chair to catch dropped food.  It’s so much easier to fold up the towel and shake it over the trash than to sweep the food particles off the floor. This rule isn’t even necessary if you have dogs!  Helpful little creatures.
  • For years I didn’t buy cookware, dishes or utensils that couldn’t be washed in the dishwasher.  The Hubbin did recently shell out some cash for high quality cookware that has to be hand washed.  It literally takes about 40 seconds to wash each pot, and there’s no scrubbing the burnt crap off the bottom (and there’s always burning involved because I’m no damn Betty Crocker!).

Cooking:

  • I cook a lot of one-pot meals more for convenience than for a love of casseroles.
  • I’m not above the occasional McMeal.
  • I love the summer because I can make entire meals of cold foods.  I don’t have to cook and nobody minds cold foods on hot days.
  • I love to barbeque.  (Okay, I love for The Hubbin to barbeque)

Around the house:

  • If I can’t use Gorilla Glue, it isn’t getting fixed!
  • I don’t buy clothes that I’ll have to iron
  • If my clothes do wrinkle, I hang them in the bathroom while showering to “steam” out the wrinkles rather than iron.
  • I utilize a creative relocation method of my mail stacks to make it look like I’ve cleaned the counter.
  • I haven’t had window coverings over two windows because I just don’t know what the measurements are.
  • I’ve been known to buy The Hubbin new clothes rather than sew a button on the old ones.

So, maybe you’re not a slacker mom, but aspire to be one.  If so, I think I’ve just given you several helpful hints to get you headed on your way to that goal.

I know that my home may not be as perfect, warm or comfortable as that of a more dedicated mom, but it’ll create some lasting memories of it’s own!  And the memories will have to suffice because I have no idea where the hell I put all the memory books I had planned to fill out!

3 Generations of Potty Pics

A warning about my family.  If you are using the bathroom near any of us, you better hope there isn’t a camera around.  Here are three generations of evidence to support that warning…

OK, not actually USING the toilet but still, someone thought it was a good time for a picture!
OK, not actually USING the toilet but still, someone thought it was a good time for a picture!
I've got the crown, the throne, no wonder I've always thought I'm the queen!
I've got the crown, the throne, no wonder I've always thought I'm the queen!

And the most recent victim…

Just because your busy saving the world doesn't mean you can't stop and take a crap
Just because your busy saving the world doesn't mean you can't stop and take a crap

The Underground Escape Network

There are a growing number of items in my house that have gone missing.  Not little things like my watch or that crappy mechanical pencil that I got to commemorate my tenth year of working at that crappy old job I had (although that’s missing too!).  No, I’m talking about things that are either very important or are big-ticket items.  They are the kind of things that just shouldn’t be disappearing and when they do, I walk around the house, asking the universe, “are you kidding me?”  It’s incomprehensible that these things can just vanish.  They have literally been disappearing in a “there one day, gone the next” kind of way.

Among the things that have gone MIA are:

  • The keys to the new front door we just installed: This complicates our comings & goings but the children still fit nicely through the window and usually let me in right away
  • My tool kit: It wasn’t a huge tool kit but I was always very careful to put it away because The Hubbin’ doesn’t always know where his tools are and it was handy to have a screwdriver available when I needed one.
  • The telephone: Yep, no kidding.  The phone is gone.
  • An exercise ball: One of the big ones that you sit on.  You know, really big, hard to lose.
  • A stroller: We took this on vacation and I know it made it home.  Now, it’s gone.

All of these missing items, along with the toys that seem to disappear by the hundreds, have me convinced that there is some kind of an organized escape plan among my household items.  I’m pretty sure that they have mobilized to form an underground escape network in order to get away from us.  Now don’t get me wrong, if I had a good opportunity to flee, I probably would too.  I’m just a little miffed that they’ve banded together against me.

I’ve been suspicious for a while.  I frequently walk through the house and find toys on the floor and something about them seems off.  Like they’re trying to be still.  Especially when they’re close to the doors.  Sometimes they’re even camouflaged.  Hiding behind a wicker basket, on the lower bookshelf, hanging from the dog’s leash.  Almost hidden.  Every time I find them, they’re very still and stare straight ahead with a blank look.  Like they are trying to avoid eye contact.

So, when does this escape happen and where do they go?  They must wait for the times that The Oldest and The Middle leave the door open.  That, right there, gives them 30-40 opportunities a day.  Once they get out, where do they go?  Is there a nexus of escapees that meet the fugitive on the other side?   Do chewed-up GI Joes and one-legged superheroes guide them to a better life?

I’ve tried to figure out which direction they would go once they escaped.  Going East would be a bad idea because the people who failed to secure the early intervention that would have made me a more well adjusted member of society (aka The Parents) live just East of us.

Now, The Parents do come over a lot, always carrying a bag of toys that I don’t remember the kids having taken to their house.  And when everyone has left, and I’m alone in the room, I open the bag; laugh my Wicked Witch laugh and whisper, “Welcome back, you little bastards.”  And they stare straight ahead.  Avoiding eye contact.  Those unshakable bastards!

The Death of Rule #178

Before I was a parent, my YCS (Younger, cooler self) was an idealistic young thang. She had very lofty plans for her future children and her role as a mother. Everything would be perfect. She would go above and beyond to be the best mom she could be. In her mind was a list of rules to which she would adhere and use to raise the healthiest, most well behaved and well adjusted children in the neighborhood. Of course, as you can guess from my previous posts, those rules all died vicious, horrendous deaths. The following is an account of how one of those rules went down in flames.

Rule #178- I Will Never Buy My Children a Portable DVD Player.

My rationale behind the rule was solid. I thought that kids should be able to entertain themselves on a road trip (OK, maybe it was an “if I had to do it you can do it too” mentality, sue me!). There are plenty of things to occupy a kid during a road trip. There are books, toys even hand-held video games (another rule; different dreadful end; we’ll talk about that one later). Looking back, my rule and the ideas that spawned it were based on a delusional idea of what it was like to have kids. I also overestimated my ability to withstand torture.
It was the middle of summer. We were embarking on our yearly trip to our state’s capital. Essentially we take the kids to the zoo so that we can see how real animals behave and feel better about our parenting skills. Plus, the boys get to see animals pooping and humping in a simulated “natural” environment. Everybody wins!
The car was packed, we hit the road and before we got off the ramp and onto the interstate the kids had been through every book, toy and snack I had packed for the 4 ½ hour drive. The Oldest was only four at the time. Now, we knew he talked a lot at home. He had developed a continuous stream of conversation that lasted throughout the day. An RSS feed, if you will, of every thought that entered his mind. And believe me, this kid has thoughts ricocheting through his brain at an unbelievable rate. We never thought about how that chatter would translate to an even smaller, enclosed environment.
Another unfortunate decision on the part of me and the Hubbin’—we chose to take the scenic route over a gorgeous pass that is so mountainous it is impassable during any other time of year. How were we to know that the road was under construction in several areas and that most of the pass was down to one lane. The trip took 5 ½ hours and that kid talked THE ENTIRE TIME! I found myself bouncing my head against my window as I fantasized about biting off a piece of the glass and chewing on it. You know, just to ease the pain I was feeling. That boy talked so much that I was actually worried about his oxygenation level. All that talking, combined with the high elevation, it couldn’t be healthy!
Before we even made it to our destination, the Hubbin’ and I looked at each other and, with a shrug of resignation, I asked, “So, we’ll get a DVD player before we head home, right?” RIP Rule #178

An Amazing Offer…For a Seven Year Old

I was up to my elbows in dishwater and Gerber Peas. The Baby and The Oldest were laughing in the living room, The Middle was screaming in his bedroom (he was there for his own safety; bad day, long story, never mind that), and the dog was panting and cowering at my feet (thunder storm!). The phone rang and I knew when I had to say, “Hello?” the second time that some telemarketer on the other end was scrambling for the line and about to spew a pitch at me. The call wasn’t actually for me though.

Now, I know enough Spanish to know who the telemarketers are calling for. They call for my and The Hubbin all the time. But, I was a little shocked that they were already calling for my son. How did they get his name?

I politely informed the caller, “he doesn’t speak Spanish.” That usually sends them away. Not this time. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said “may I please speak to Mr. (The Oldest)?” I peaked into the living room in time to see his Sponge Bob underwear get snagged by the handle of the rocking horse as he ran by. The ricochet effect threw him to the floor and his baby brother immediately belly flopped onto his head. “Alright,” I said. “Telephone,” I held the phone to The Oldest and he looked at me with a mixture of fear and awe. In all fairness, he had a reason to be concerned about the phone in my hand. I’ve been promising for years to call Santa…and the police. “It’s for you,” I told him and snuck into the kitchen to the extension.

Needless to say, it didn’t go as well as the caller had hoped. My son didn’t quite get the low APR and cash back on certain purchases offer.  The dud eventually hung up and The Oldest is back to the “Do Your Chores and Save Your Money” plan for making new purchases. Is it wrong for me to have denied him his 1st credit card offer?  Especially now, when his credit rating is the best it will ever be.  He does have Plan B- as in Beg Mommy and Daddy until they give in.

I would kill for that child.

I couldn’t help it. He hurt my baby (okay, DMS is 5 yo, but still…).

He came into my yard, and he attacked my child. I heard DMS screaming and before I heard the entire story, I knew I was going to kill him. Not only did he attack my child but he brought his friends with him. Now, I don’t know how old he was or even if he had a rational explanation for what he did, I only reacted. The way any other sleep-deprived mother would. I went after him.

I found him at home. At least, I think that was him. I took DMS (the victim) and his older brother with me to do a witness identification. They led me right to him. Him and his posse. They were hanging out, buzzed, acting like they had been busy all day and had no time to assault my child. Whatever! I aimed and shot and then I watched as they writhed around, dying yet still trying to escape. There was no escape. I even invited the boys to come and watch. They wouldn’t, they were too scared. But now they know, Mommy gets things done.

And then, I’ll be damned if that kid (DMS) didn’t go to the other side of the yard and get stung again! I swear, I’m running out of wasp spray. And my relationship with the Buddha is in the crapper now too.