Monday, May 31, 2010

Lessons Learned

The Memorial Day weekend is providing me with three sun-filled days of quality time with my family. It is also three days of catching up on homework, playing outside, several clothing changes and a whole lot of beer. Throughout all of it, a few things occurred to me:
  1. Never sit down until you look at the toilet paper holder first.
  2. For the first six months of life, the first kid lives in their parents arms, the second kid lives in a front carrier, and the third kid lives in the car.
  3. That whole "five minutes until we need to leave" warning is a bunch of bullshit, especially when there is a hungry five-year-old involved that wants something to eat now. Like, now. Not later in the car, NOW!
  4. My neighbor's lawnmower is incapable of starting before 8:30pm.
  5. When the youngest child says "hey look at this I found a new way to show the number two" and then promptly holds up her two middle fingers, it's best to display no emotion.
  6. Likewise, when the same kid says "wow the garbage smells like Doritos" it's best to just take their word for it and not "come and smell it" like they suggested, because I'm pretty sure that's not what Doritos smell like.
  7. Junior high really hasn't changed that much and if anything there's more bullshit to deal with now than when I was that age. You know, back in the day when dinosaurs were kept as pets and we used a rock tablet and chisel to take notes about the latest fire starting techniques.
  8. Just because a soon-to-be teenager gets up on their own before 9am doesn't necessarily mean that the kid is waking up in a good mood.
  9. Rosie was completely taken for granted, and although I hate this phrase more than anything else, it makes me wonder: What the hell did Jane Jetson do all day anyway?
  10. Not every day requires a cocktail. Some just require shots of tequila.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Anti-Crafty

Depending on who you ask, there are several adjectives that a person might use to describe me, but one word that would never be used is "crafty." Sure, I can assemble furniture, wrap a gift, follow the directions included in most kits and usually color in the lines, but when it comes to creating something out of construction paper, glitter, glue, styrofoam or popsicle sticks, chances are that the results will not be very presentable.

Yesterday I volunteered at the kindergarten Letter Luau. This event consists of games like Musical Chairs, a snack station and a table where the kids could make their own leis, which is where I ended up. I'm still trying to figure out why I voluntarily put myself at this station because the only thing I hate more than doing crafts by myself is having to help a bunch of kids with crafts, but I think it's because I thought that the assembly would be five-year-old friendly and just require some simple stringing skills. I was wrong.

I opened up my bag of supplies to find pre-cut lengths of black yarn, construction paper flowers in two sizes, 1" lengths of drinking straws and a box of Fruit Loops. After glancing at these items for a total of two seconds and thinking "Oh shit," the first kids showed up at my table, eager to get started. This is when I started cursing the fact that there wasn't a pina colada station at this luau.

No one had punched any holes in the construction paper flowers, so while the kids sat there and whipped each other with the black yarn, I hurriedly started punching holes. Of course the little paper-catcher thingie on the hole puncher was busted off, so there were little bits of confetti-sized paper flying everywhere, making the kids shout out like they were in a parade. No sooner did they grab the first flower and straw when I heard someone say "Zoe's mommy, I need help." This phrase was repeated no fewer than 8,752 times over the next 45-minutes. We also quickly discovered that black yarn does not thread through eight out of ten Fruit Loops because the hole is too small, and instead just mashes and frays. And I now know that trying to thread black yarn that now resembles a fuzzy black hamster through a drinking straw is no easy feat, especially when that black fuzzball is soggy with spit because some gross kid has been sucking on it.

Since I was strongly discouraging the kids from using the Fruit Loops, I decided to just drop handfuls of them on the table and let the kids eat them instead. Suddenly, my table was really popular. Kids were shoving those things in their mouths by the handful and in addition to "I need help," I was now hearing "I need some more Fruit Loops." At one point, I stepped back to observe the chaos as if I wasn't directly involved and saw: kids licking their hands, licking the yarn, grabbing cereal, wiping their noses, rubbing their eyes, picking at their ears, sucking on the yarn, eating cereal off of the floor, and then asking me for help. This is when I decided that soap and water just wouldn't do -- I would have to just chop my hands off when I got home.

I suppose you're wondering how the craft turned out, and let's just say that I considered attaching an apology note to more than a couple dozen of the leis. A few of the girls that were actually excited about the concept of wearing paper flowers somehow managed to make a pretty presentable craft. But for the most part, the kids sat there for five minutes of threading-induced frustration and ended up with, honestly, something pathetic. Even the girls, who had patiently threaded straws and flowers one after the other to make a pattern threw their arms up in frustration when they held up their leis, only to have all of the flowers slide into a clump because the punched hole is just that much bigger than the diameter of the straw. One kid, after finally succeeding to thread two things only to have them slide right off the other end of the yarn proclaimed that "This craft sucks!" All I could do was look him in the eye and say yes, you're right. Here's some Fruit Loops.

Now, let's compare: we all know what a Hawaiian lei looks like, and in case you've forgotten it looks like this:


And here's how ours turned out:


I don't know about you, but looking at this thing does not put me in the mood for a luau. It does, however, put me in the mood for a pina colada.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An Educational Experience

It has taken a few days, but I think I have finally recovered from attending the kindergarten field trip to the zoo, and it was definitely a good news/bad news kind of day:

Good news: Even though it was cloudy, it didn't rain. (At least not until right after we left.)
Bad news: The weatherman was wrong (again) about the temperature, so the kids in tank tops were freezing and Zoe is now the owner of yet another fleece jacket. This one has a polar bear on it, though.

Good news: We saw a tiger in action.
Bad news: It was eating action, and the vegetarian kids were a little freaked out.


Good news: Yay for monkeys!
Bad news: Apparently monkeys do some pretty great drugs, which contradicts what the DARE program is trying to teach our children.


Good news: We saw a baby orangutan swinging around.
Bad news: I had to stand next to a dad that insisted on speaking with falsetto.


video

Good news: There was a great photo op for a picture of Zoe with her friends.
Bad news: Four kids don't fit on a turtle.


Good news: We saw the giraffes.
Bad news: We smelled the giraffes.

Good news: We saw a buffalo. Or maybe it was a bison.
Bad news: The buffalo/bison was in the exact same spot/position/mental state as when I saw him last year.

Good news: After hearing animal sounds, we thought we were going to get lucky and see a monkey in the parking lot.
Bad news: It was just a deranged black-socks-wearing-dad making insanely loud monkey sounds at his kid while his butt was sticking out of the car door.

Good news: I remembered that lunch was going to be later than usual, so I threw a couple snacks in my purse for when the kids got hungry.
Bad news: A granola bar and a bag of fruit snacks split between four kids is not exactly satisfying.

Good news: Luckily, I knew to avoid some road construction on the drive back to the school, and therefore managed to not sit in traffic.
Bad news: The two bus drivers hauling 125 kindergartners with full bladders were not so lucky.

Bad news: Zach had a varsity tennis match and needed to get out of school early, so I had to race back from the zoo in order to get to the junior high. I got there just in time to deal with the fact that the front office completely screwed up his early release, which meant that unless I drove like a crazy person (which, fortunately, I manage to do most of the time anyway) he would be late for the tennis bus. I was so irritated with the incompetence of the attendance office that after we finally got in the car I said "fucking" for the first time in front of my kid, as in "I can't believe how fucking stupid the women are in that office."
Good news: Zach's brain was still in junior high mode, so he didn't even flinch when he heard me say it. After all, it was probably at least the 247th time he had heard it that day.

Good news: I managed to be a good person/mom and made it through an entire field trip surrounded by other people's children without having to bring a flask.
Better news: Since I hadn't brought any booze to the zoo, it meant that there was more booze at home. Or at least, there was more booze at home.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Baby Has Zits!

A little over a week ago, at 2:30 am on May 13, my niece entered the world, changing my brother and sister-in-law's lives forever. Since then, she has been introduced to her new surroundings, the milk truck arrived just as she discovered hunger, my sister-in-law is finding out just how little sleep a person is capable of surviving on and my brother is tapping into new levels of patience that he never knew he had.

To say that the initial weeks with your first baby are a little bit of a shock to your existence is like saying that having your leg amputated might create a little bit of a limp. There's just no way to completely prepare for having a newborn in the house, no matter how organized you have the changing station or how much you used to babysit. And since attempting to read anything longer than one page causes immediate narcolepsy in a new mom (or in some cases, this mom), I thought I'd briefly cover a few newborn topics that Ali might need to address in the next month or two, but aren't always covered very honestly in those "how to care for your newborn" books.

Sleeping, or more specifically, not sleeping. Sorry to tell you this, but your baby will not sleep. There might be a night here or there that she manages to sleep for more than three hours at a time, but this will not last. She will fake you out in the beginning by sleeping for hours and hours, only waking up to eat and crap, and just when you're telling strangers that you have a miracle baby that is sleeping through the night before her belly button fell off, she'll discover that she can be awake. Really, really AWAKE. For hours at a time, in the middle of the night. After a couple months, you'll have something resembling a "bedtime routine," which probably means that by the time the kid is fed, bathed, fed again, diapered again, and finally ready for bed, it's 11:00. At this point, you'll wonder how in the hell you'll ever manage to have this kid in bed by 9:00, or even 8:00 so that you can have a fragment of your old life back. Eventually this happens, but for now you have a newborn. That doesn't sleep. And if anyone is dumb enough to say "How is she sleeping?" as a joke, you have permission to not laugh and instead say "You are an unfunny dumb shit and if I wasn't so tired right now I'd probably kick your ass."

Why is my baby in puberty? Around three weeks of age, your baby will wake up looking like a giant zit. Her once-perfect skin will be covered with an even smattering of baby zits and you will have to resist the temptation to pop and pick at them. Of course, there is no known cause of baby zits and if you ask an "expert," they will probably blame the zits on hormones. Because after all, everything that is unexplained and sucky is categorized as hormonal. Woman goes psycho at the gas station and tries to strangle the asshole at the pump next to her with the hose? She was just hormonal. Lady cries because she feels taken for granted and her day is going down the shit hole? She doesn't need a hug and a "thank you" because she's obviously just being hormonal. Anyway, the best way to treat baby acne is to just ignore the zits and occasionally wash the kid's face.

I've seen fewer flakes at a poetry reading. Around one month of age, your baby's hair will probably start to fall out. In addition to being partially bald, she will most likely develop the most disgusting case of dandruff, aka "cradle cap," that you have ever seen. The books will tell you that it is "mild flaking," which I guess is accurate, if mild flaking is defined as a thick, yellowish, scaly, scabby, falling-off-in-chunks, oily residue. Cradle cap (which, shockingly enough, is probably caused by a shift in hormones) can sometimes be treated by massaging a small amount of almond or olive oil into the baby's scalp and then washing it out. Unfortunately, in order to get all of the oil out you need to shampoo the baby's hair about 27 times, which ends up pulling even more hair out, and then the baby gets cold, so then you end up with an even balder baby that is now crying inconsolably. And most likely, within half-an-hour, the cradle cap will return.

I used to have a beer bong, but now I have baby equipment. Put a bouncy seat in the bathroom for when you take that every-third-day shower, since this is one age when your kid can see you naked without hearing her say "What's wrong with your belly, mommy?" Keep a swing near an exterior door, because it's a great place to put the kid when you want to sneak outside on a beautiful day, do a shot of tequila and pretend like you're on vacation in Mexico. Those Boppy pillows are really useful for nursing, propping up the baby in front of "Sesame Street," and also come in handy as a headrest when you're laying on the floor doing crunches in an attempt to get your abs back. Front carriers are great to have when you bring your baby to parties, and don't worry if a little bit of your cocktail dribbles out of your mouth onto the baby's head. After all, the kid is probably hot in that thing and the cold beverage probably feels good. And who knows, massaging a little bit of booze into the kid's scalp might be good for the cradle cap.

Does she need a snowsuit in June? Here is where you have to use common sense and not listen to nosey strangers. Is it kind of coolish outside? Then put some socks on the baby and a blanket over the car seat. Is it 80 degrees and humid? Then the baby probably doesn't need a hat, sweater, blanket, socks and an extra blanket just in case. And this summer, when some pain in the ass know-it-all says "Goodness gracious, you should really have a hat on that little baby!" you can tell them to shut it.

My baby is crying! Yes, babies cry. A lot. Some more than others, but all of them cry at some point, and the crying may or may not be for the following reasons: tired, not tired, over-tired, hungry, too full, gassy, constipated, constipated and gassy, overstimulated, hot, cold, just right but felt a draft, too bright, kind of dark, too noisy, needs white noise, wants to be held, wants to sit in the swing, wants to lay on the floor, doesn't like the barking dog, doesn't want to be held by the woman that smells like Ben Gay, is being poked by a tag on her outfit, doesn't like that you ate onions before nursing, wants motion in the form of being held while you walk 35 miles in your pajamas. And sometimes, they'll cry because they can.

Who fed my baby cottage cheese? If, after two months of nursing, you're suddenly tempted to rip off your nipples because they itch uncontrollably and you notice that your baby doesn't seem to enjoy eating, chances are that both of you have thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection of your baby's mouth and your nipples. It's really super fun and is often something you don't hear about until you are suffering from it. If you look in your baby's mouth and see white chunks on the insides of her cheeks and on her tongue and if, when you scrape the white chunks away you see a red, raw patch that may or may not bleed, that is thrush. It's completely treatable with antibiotics, but if you don't treat yourself, too, you'll end up passing it back and forth, and back, and forth, and back, and forth. Like I said, really super fun. So, when you get the prescription for the little person, grab an Rx for Diflucan, too. And then when you're waiting for the pharmacy to fill the prescriptions, use that extra time to drive across the parking lot to the liquor store.

It's really hard to believe that a bald seven pound baby that cries, doesn't sleep, is covered in zits and has a yeast infection in her mouth can be so easy to love. Maybe that's why they get the hiccoughs, because honestly there is nothing cuter than a baby with the hiccoughs, especially when that baby isn't mine.


video

Friday, May 21, 2010

What? We Don't Live in Cupertino?

Since we live in Minnesota, spring weather is never predictable and sometimes it seems impossible to dress appropriately. One day it will be 75 degrees, but the next day might include snow. Therefore, I never fall prey to the first nice day and instead delay storing the long & warm and pulling out the shorts. But now that it is the end of May and the daytime temperature is consistently above 70 degrees, I have pulled out the sandals, stocked up on sunscreen and completed the laborious task of switching the clothes over in my kids' closets.

Since I'm trying to encourage a little bit of self-sufficiency and also didn't want to be known as a fashion bitch for an entire month, I decided to put a few pairs of shorts in the boys' rooms and told them to start checking the weather forecast on their phones each morning. If the high for the day was over 65 then by all means, wear shorts. Otherwise, pull on some pants.

Even though the weather has been nice lately, a couple weeks ago it was the absolute opposite of nice. Rainy, windy, gross, cold, depressing, a little bit of snow, below-freezing mornings, basically a typical Minnesota spring. So sure enough, one morning when it wasn't quite 40 degrees and the high was supposed to be 43, Charlie came down the stairs wearing shorts.

"Why are you wearing shorts? The house is freezing! (because I refuse to turn the furnace on in May) Didn't you check the weather? You have your phone in your room and I told you two weeks ago that it has to be over 65 for you to wear shorts."

"Duh, I did check my phone. It says it's supposed to be 74 and sunny today." This was one day that the alarm clock managed to wake up Charlie's body, but obviously not his brain.

I didn't say anything, but instead gestured toward the window. The snow-specked, soaking wet window that looked out onto a saturated yard under nothing but gray skies.

"Oh. Well that's weird. I checked the weather, see? It says 74 and sunny in Cupertino. And why does it say we live in Cupertino, anyway?" I am not making this shit up. He was being completely serious.

After I pointed out the fact that Cupertino, CA meant CALIFORNIA and added Minneapolis to his weather forecast app, he looked at his phone and discovered that it was nothing but 40's and rain in the forecast for the next week.

"Crap. I guess that means I have to go change. I kind of wish we lived in Cupertino."

I said yeah, that would be nice. But then we would have missed out on having this whole conversation, and what would I write about then!?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Busted at Bedtime

Even though it seems that my kids are incapable of consistently using an alarm clock to get out of bed on time in the morning, at least bedtime around our house is pretty straightforward and efficient. I have definitely learned from past mistakes and therefore the bedtime routine has been streamlined more and more with each kid. It's similar to something I heard once about kids and baths: The first kid gets a bath every day, the second kid gets a bath a few times a week, and the third kid gets sent outside when it rains.

Zoe's bedtime lasts, on average, about five minutes. This includes occasionally flossing, always brushing, peeing, turning on the requisite nightlight and white noise, a quick kiss on the forehead and then shutting the door. (No, I do not actually lock it because some dreams are meant to remain just that: dreams.) Most of the time, she goes to sleep without a peep, but occasionally there is a plea for a glass of water or the need to kill an invisible bug that is supposedly lurking on her ceiling. Last night, however, falling asleep was delayed by a flying tea party.

**Just for clarification, Zoe hates most toys that are girly and I was shocked that she even allowed this tea party set in her room. But then I discovered that she doesn't host typical tea parties, judging by the fact that at one party, after Fluffy White Kitty repeatedly told Floppy Pink Bunny to eat her lunch, Fluffy White Kitty lost her temper and said "Just eat the freakin' food, stupid!" We're currently working on her hostess skills.

No sooner had I shut her door and plopped my ass on the couch when I heard a loud CRASH come from her room. Since it wasn't immediately followed by shrieks of pain, I knew that she was fine -- physically, anyway.

When I opened the door, she was sitting on her knees with her arms outstretched and her wood tea party set was scattered all over the floor. "Look at this! What a mess!" she proclaimed, like the tea party suddenly became animated all on it's own and went flying through the air.

After a few failed explanations that included phrases like "The saucer almost made me fall out of bed" and "I wasn't exactly jumping, more like moving up and down" she decided to play the crying card and burst into tears. I said yeah, well, you should probably quit crying because the only reason you're sad is because you got busted. She wailed "I know! I hate getting busted! Being busted is no fun!"

Since so many people have said things like "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" and "like mother, like daughter," something tells me that this is not the last time I will be hearing this phrase from her.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Highs and Lows

Over the last week, I feel like I've been the poster child/spokesperson for the phrase "two steps forward, one step back" or "two steps back, stumble and trip forward" or maybe it's "big hop forward, fall backward on my ass," because every time I've received a piece of good news or something has went right, something less-than-desirable immediately happens that yanks me back to reality.

High: I finally received a letter from our health insurance company informing me that, after reviewing the information provided by our doctor regarding Zach's allergies, they have decided to provide coverage for Allegra-D after all. While waiting for them to finish their review, he's been taking a combination of Sudafed 12-hr. and Allegra (I love having friends that are nurses and thank you for the wonderful advice, Billi Jo), which means taking two pills, twice-a-day.
Low: I went to Target to fill the new prescription and was informed that even though BCBS is providing coverage, they've also increased the co-pay for Allegra-D to $85.00. So, let's see: Am I going to pay $85/month for the convenience of Zach being able to take only one pill, or will I pay a total of $8.50/month for what he's currently taking?
Lower: I guess technically I could just pay $0 and not look like I'm cooking meth by making weekly trips to the pharmacy to stock up on the Sudafed, since unless I specifically say "Take your allergy pills" or put them right by his breakfast, he forgets to take the damn pills anyway.

High: After hosting several group meetings to complete Zach's Ring of Fire science project, and after the teacher delayed the presentation day two times, the project is complete and has been performed.
Low: Despite the fact that they did extensive research, wrote the song and included all of the necessary requirements, they got a shitty grade because their props and costumes weren't homemade. Apparently they were supposed to make their own keyboard, whip together a sombrero, weave a Mexican poncho and also kill a whale, skin the whale, tan the hide and fashion it into a warm coat for the Eskimo costume. Maybe then they would have earned 20 points.
Even Lower: We have now been assigned science project #20, which is a group project (yippee!) and consists of doing a presentation on the abominable snowman.

High: Minutes after considering sending Doug a text on Friday afternoon that said "You should come home early because I could use a drinking buddy," he walked in the door.
Low: Since Zach's tennis practice ran an hour longer than usual (but, despite everyone having a cell phone, no one bothered to let me know), after Doug came home early he watched me leave twice, listened to Zoe wail after she got hit in the face with a basketball, and ended up drinking a beer by himself while I hurriedly grilled chicken between trips to the high school.

High: On Saturday morning, the kids got up on their own and were ready to go to tennis, on time, without extensive nagging. In fact, we were out the door five minutes early.
Low: No sooner had I turned onto the freeway entrance when I realized that I forgot to put Zoe's tennis bag in the car, and Zach said "Oh, wait. Did I need to grab my water bottle?"
Random Question: Why in the hell is it that all Buick sedans come with Beanie Babies and boxes of kleenex in the rear window as standard equipment, but don't come with a gas pedal?

High: Zoe's tennis coach called to reschedule her Saturday lesson, and ended up moving it to a time that was much more convenient for me. Unbelievably, Zach's coach was also able to move his lesson to the same time, compressing two hours of tennis into one.
Low: I still had to deal with the other mom during Zoe's lesson, and somehow she managed to squeeze 43 condescending remarks, 17 eye rolls, eight braggy comments, 82 loud sighs and nine insults into one hour. I think it was a new record.
Brutal Reality: I spent four hours at the club, but managed to get a zero minute workout done.

High: The weather over the weekend was absurdly nice and Charlie had a great time playing outside with one of the neighbor kids.
Low: Charlie is now on Amazon.com, shopping for an airsoft pistol of his own.

High: While pulling weeds out of the garden so that I can eventually plant something that's actually edible, Charlie voluntarily offered to help.
Low: After pulling one, and I mean exactly one weed, Charlie suffered a loss of all motor skills and was unable to pull anymore weeds. Miraculously, he was somehow capable of shooting baskets and sucking down Capri Suns.
Owie: I hate thistle. And while I'm excited to eventually have fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, I think I would enjoy my garden even more if I could grow bacon.

Low: Justin Bieber is still on the Billboard charts.
High: Godsmack has a higher ranking.

High: I discovered a 12-pack of diet ginger ale in the refrigerator.
Super High: I also had fresh lemons. Big Ginger, baby!
Oh So Low: I'm out of Jameson.

Friday, May 14, 2010

You're Really, Like, Annoying

Since I'm not a kid anymore, I don't really go through any withdrawal or feelings of depression after Christmas or birthdays. If anything, the days following these once-a-year events are usually spent nursing a mild hangover, cleaning up after the hoopla and maybe initiating a short-term detox program. This year, though, there is one holiday that has left me wishing that it wasn't only once-a-year, and that is Mother's Day, because I not only had just a great Mother's Day, but an entire weekend. Doug and I got out without the kids on Friday night, I was lucky enough to make it through an entire Saturday without a kid forgetting about or losing anything, and then there was Sunday:
  1. Everyone behaved and listened (proving that, with a lot of effort and concentration, anything is possible).
  2. No one cried (at least not in front of me).
  3. I got handmade gifts from the kids, and while I won't say specifically what Doug got me, I will say that I love it, it's made by a company that is also a fruit and it rhymes with iMad, or iFad. Or even iBad.
  4. The dog never threw up (well, not in the house anyway).
  5. Zach's science project group ended up not coming over to rehearse the "Ring of Fire" project.
  6. The sun came out for the Twins game.
  7. The Twins won 6-0.
  8. While at the Twins game, Zach and I had a great bonding experience, thanks to four of the most annoying women in existence. Within minutes of these women sitting down in the seats directly behind us, Zach looked at me and said: "Oh man. This is gonna suck. They are going to talk non-stop about the most annoying crap. I can just tell." I took one look at them, listened in for four seconds and then thought wow, I am raising a smart child.
Visually, it was boob jobs, giant sunglasses, tight t-shirts with "Twins" bedazzled across the chest, skinny Hudson jeans, and stilettos. Yes, stilettos. At a baseball game. And even though I attempted to block out most of their riveting conversation, I couldn't help overhearing a few things because after all, a deaf person wearing noise-cancelling headphones wouldn't have been able to avoid overhearing a few things.

"Oh my god! Did I, like, tell you about the costume drama that I am going through for Amelia? It's just, like, too much. I can't even believe it. She has to be a dragon for the extravaganza and I am just, like, beside myself trying to make a dragon costume. I tried to incorporate the horns and tail from the Sassy Satan costume, but then she looks too much like the second dragon. It's just, like, so time consuming. And Kelly, you know Kelly, she's like, the one that threw a half-birthday party for her daughter and is just so over-the-top in everything, well you just know that she'll have the most decked out costume of all and I, like, can't compete with that. It's just too much, like, pressure."

"Has Gretta started doing talent shows yet? Wow. She'd love them. They're just so, like, super fun and they really bring out personalities. But Kelly is obsessed with these talent shows too and I guess it's fine if it's her thing and all but, like, I just don't see why she has to be so involved in absolutely everything and be so dominating. I know that she's just trying to make friends and stuff but, like, she doesn't have to be so perfect all the time."

(This is when I sent Doug a text and warned him to plug his ears, otherwise he'd probably end up hurling himself over the railing and onto the field.)

"Ooooh, lookie! Beverage Guy! What kind of beer do you have? Oh, hmmm, do you have Michelob Ultra? No? Oh, well, I guess I'll just have a margarita then. What? You don't do complicated drinks? Well, then, how about a mojito then. Oh, well, like, what do you do? Okay, well, then just a Michelob Ultra will be fine. Oh, right, no Ultra. Then a Michelob Golden. Okay honey, thanks sweetie. Yay!"

"So you guys all look so super cute today. I love your jeans. Me? Oh, thanks but I do not. No, really, stop. No, really. Really? You think this is cute? Well, thanks. I guess I do like the shirt. But you look, like, super cute."

"Cheers guys! I'm so glad you could come to the game! Happy Mother's Day to us! These are such great seats. I just love them. Cheers. Cheers. Cheers to us. Cheers. Cheers. Cheers. Yay us! (Smooch Smooch)"

"Oh did you know that they are showing a video about the body at school next week? Our little babies are getting so big! And I haven't done Friday folders because I've been, like, so busy with the dragon costume. Did I tell you about the dragon costume? It's like, totally taking up all my time right now, but it is going to be so great. And those Sassy Satan horns are just to die for."

(text from Doug: Enough with the fucking dragon costume already.)

"Ooooh, this beer is good but I have, like, no food in my stomach so I'm like, becoming really chatty. Can you tell? Oh, did I tell you that Amelia has a boy with downs syndrome in her class? Well, when she talks about him she says "the special needs boy." Isn't that just so sweet? She's so sweet. And she loves giving kisses and hugs and is so, like, lovey. Special needs, how sweet."

"I was just at Costco and they have just the best organic chicken right now. It's to die for. And the organic beef and organic crackers, too. Just delish. Absolutely, like, to die for. Amazing."

(Here, one of them said "damn" but then noticed Charlie sitting in front of her so she quickly said "Oops, I mean darnitt." Imagine her shock if I would have turned around and said what I wanted to say, which is "shut the fuck up.")

"Wow. You guys all look so super cute! This is just so super fun. We are so lucky because we have the best neighbors, like oh my god! I totally love you guys because we all get along, all the guys like each other and our kids all love each other and, like, play so super well together. Oh, I forgot what my point was. Anyway, like, it's so super. Love it!"

"My husband laughs at me because he says I'm high maintenance and hard to take care of. He thinks I'm like that mom from 'Modern Family,' you know the cute blonde one. Really? You think I look like her? You're so sweet! But really, It's such a good show and we DVR it. What? You don't DVR? I thought everyone DVR'd. You really should DVR. DVR-ing is, like, the only way I watch TV. I would DIE without my DVR."

(text from Doug: If a screaming line drive comes into our seats, I will be ducking and letting it go by me.)

"Oh, my god. Did you hear about Kelly telling everyone how, like, she and her husband basically just had to look at each other to get pregnant? How rude. She's so inconsiderate. I really felt that I owed it to her to point out how immature and mean she was by saying something so hurtful, because some people, like, struggle with that fertility stuff. So I did her a favor by telling her to stop being so mean and telling people that she can get pregnant."

"Seriously. We're all so lucky to know each other. I mean, like, you and I were friends, and then we were friends, and then you were friends, and then she and I were friends, and now we're all friends and oh, can I have some of that popcorn?"

(This is when Zach said "Can I be really obnoxious right now and make fun of how dumb they sound? Why did they even bother coming to a baseball game if they aren't even going to pay attention. I'll bet they don't even understand the game." I told him yes, he's probably right but no, he can't be obnoxious. That's my job.)

"Oh, I should take a picture and send it to my husband so he can see how much fun we're having. Look here and smile! I just love my phone because I can just text pictures all the time. See? I'm texting a picture! Isn't texting amazing!? And to be able to text pictures. I text all the time. Texting is, like, really cool."

"Hey, are those acrylics or your real nails? They really look amazing. I'm, like, bad about getting my nails done every week. I'm lucky if I get in there twice a month. But I guess that's what happens when you're a busy mom. And I'm so busy making that dragon costume right now."

All this, and more, before the top of the third inning. I'm hoping that at this point, my oldest kid loved and respected me just a little bit more than he did before we sat down. Even though I'm not, like, making him a dragon costume.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Parenting Tips (for the insane)

I recently came across some interesting parenting tips and figured that since my attempt at incorporating "positive discipline" was such a huge success, maybe I'll put some of these tips to use, too. But then after reading the tips and envisioning myself actually using them, I couldn't stop laughing.

Start kids off on plain (unflavored, unsweetened) yogurt in an attempt to help them develop an appreciation for foods that are not sweet. This sounds like a simple enough idea, if it weren't for the fact that Sour Patch Kids are so good and unflavored, unsweetened yogurt tastes like pus and has the texture of silicone caulk. And I think that kids are naturally attracted to eat things that aren't sweet, considering all the little kids I know that have eaten dirt.

Continually build upon responsibilities into adolescence until one day your children are responsible adults with the ability to live independently! Yeah!!! Oh yeah, that all sounds fine and good but there is this little thing called "reality" that interferes once in a while with the whole giving the kids responsibilities plan. Like the reality that kids forget, or decide not to do something, or roll their eyes before they say "I'm not going to do that," or are busy completing the 864th goddamn science project of the year so they don't have time to even say "I'm not going to do that." What this tip failed to include after the word "adolescence" is the phrase "by repeating yourself three times each day for 15 years, and occasionally hurling a clean basket of laundry across the room while simultaneously pointing out the fact that slavery ended decades ago..."

How many other words for "No" can you use instead of "No"? Ideally, you should divert attention to another healthy activity, but what other responses do you have? Okay, seriously, where do I begin? Do I include just the words I actually say out loud, or should I include the ones that I say to myself, too? I guess I'll do both: Nope, nuh-uh, no way in hell, not unless you want to experience massive amounts of physical pain, what the fuck are you thinking, are you mildly retarded, seriously oh my god, who are you, that's a good idea if you were a moron, I'm going this way please don't follow me, stop it, stop it now, stop it now before I call the cops on you, and of course -- NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Need a diversion for those long car rides with your toddler? Make a sock puppet, give it a name & keep it in the car. This is a tip I may actually try to use. I think I'll name my puppet Martin E., and he'll be made out of stitched together cocktail napkins. I'll glue a couple cigarette butts to his head, give him bloodshot eyes and tape an acrylic martini glass to his side. Then, when I'm driving around retrieving various forgotten items and passing myself on the highway, Martin E. can tell my kids that instead of going to the school or the tennis court, mommy decided to drive to the bar, because Martin really needs a drink.

Take care not to use language that identifies a child with any physical, emotional, or behavioral challenges. So, yay for me because I already knew this before reading the handy dandy tip. For example, if one kid has a giant zit growing on his chin (you know, the kind that if it were to grow it's own face and start talking you wouldn't be surprised) instead of saying "Wow, that's gross and looks painful, glad I don't have to go to school looking like that," I say something like "I hope you don't get hit on the chin today and by the way, have you been using that facewash I bought you?" And when a kid is behaving in a way that I find unacceptable or really, really embarrassing, I never say "No!" but usually opt for things like "Your behavior is making me consider walking that way and you shouldn't follow me" or "That's a good idea if you're trying to piss me off." Or if a kid suddenly bursts into tears because someone looked at them wrong, I never say "Quit crying and being a pathetic drama queen" but instead say, oh wait...I actually do say that. Never mind.

Singing silly songs is a wonderful way to disarm a cranky kid. Seriously. If you ever see me doing this, especially in public, you have permission to pull that machete out of your giant purse and chop my head off.

For improved sleep & strength, get kids to climb up and down stairs whenever possible. The only question I have is: who in the hell doesn't make their kids use their own two legs to climb up the steps? Is this some sort of joke? Like, climbing the steps is the only physical diversion this person could come up with? How about kick a ball, or jump rope, or play tag. No, no. Let's climb up and down the fucking stairs! Oh, maybe I could trick them, like "Go get me that ___ upstairs. Oh, wait, just kidding! I don't need it after all. Put it back and bring me the ____ instead. Ha ha, gotcha again! Isn't this fun? Now go get me the ____ downstairs and put it all the way upstairs." I agree that this type of activity may wear a kid out, but it may also create a kid that, when he gets to school and his phy-ed teacher tells the class to run stairs, discovers a violent side that he never knew existed.

Spring is the perfect time to increase outdoor time and explore the birds, bees & butterflies. There are two birds nests in our yard: one in a front yard shrub and another under our deck. While it's fun to watch the baby birds grow after the eggs hatch, it's not fun to see the dog maul baby birds immediately upon their departure from the nest. Also, I hate butterflies and have really, really bad reactions to bee stings. There's also the fact that I'm pretty sure that Zoe is afraid bees, considering the fact that every time she sees one within two feet she says "A BEE! IT'S A BEE! GET IT! GET IT! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! A BEEEEEEEE!" So, while I'm happy spending time outside and gradually teaching my kids about the birds and the bees, I will not be exploring any actual birds or bees.

Kids should yell and scream outside. Teach them to use their "Fairy Voices" inside, giving quiet voices a magical quality. If a kid grows up hearing and saying "Let's all use our Fairy Voices" and then that kid goes to school and has to go outside for a little free-time commonly referred to as "recess" and says "Oh goody, now I can be loud and I don't have to use my Fairy Voice anymore" that kid might get laughed at and be like, gee mom, thanks for making me sound like an idiot.

Get kids in bed 1/2 hour early to give them time to decompress, talk about their day & sleep peacefully. Let's see, I think it's time for some basic math skills: If I were to spend 1/2 hour each night with each of my three kids individually, that would mean that bedtime would take me an hour and a half, every night, not including the time spent saying "Go to bed, go to bed, please go to bed, get your ass to bed." I'm all for a good night hug, but spending two hours on bedtime? Not so much.

Since we all love to hear people say our name, address kids by their names only for good events, NOT bad! Then what exactly am I supposed to call my kid for the majority of the day!? "Hey you, over there, stop picking on your brother. Kid upstairs that lives down the hall, you need to get your ass to the bus. I wish that this person standing in front of me with the attitude would stop being crabby. Boy with buzz cut, you were supposed to take the garbage out." Not only would this make me sound like an idiot, but my kids would wonder what the hell happened to me because usually when they're in trouble I (like most other moms) not only use their first names, but their middle names too.

Unless, of course, I said these things while using my Fairy Voice. In that case, they'd just laugh at me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

User Error

The school year began last September and that means, if my calculations are correct, we've had eight months of mornings that include getting up at the same time, putting on an outfit that doesn't say "Hey, look at me, I'm a colorblind idiot," grabbing a backpack and heading out the door. I thought that after eight months, this routine would be drama-free and dependable. Since Zoe's still in kindergarten I'll cut her a little slack, but I thought that I'd be able to rely on the people in this house that are between the heights of 4'9" and 5'5" to get their asses out of bed on time and be able to dress themselves.

These thoughts can now be found in the same category as "I thought that someday I'd grow boobs" and "I thought that my feet had reached their maximum width after two pregnancies," and that category is labeled: I WAS WRONG.

Over the last couple weeks, Charlie has been busted a couple of times for oversleeping, even though his alarm clock was set correctly and had went off. The problem isn't that the alarm clock is defective, but that it's suffering from user error. You see, Charlie was getting annoyed that the music waking him up in the morning was annoyingly loud, so he turned the volume down. Way down. So he couldn't hear it down. Because then, you know, it wouldn't annoy him. Apparently he didn't consider the fact that it would then NOT WAKE HIM UP!

His solution was to then turn the volume up a little bit, but then for some reason he also set the alarm to go off twenty minutes before he needed to actually haul his ass out of bed, kind of like a snooze button for morons. This would have worked fine, if it weren't for the fact that after he turned the alarm off, he fell back to sleep. And unlike the actual snooze button, a second alarm didn't go off 9 minutes later to wake his barely functioning brain back up. I have a feeling that he's going to get up on time by himself now, though, since he's discovered that waking up to your mom shouting "APPARENTLY YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO OPERATE AN ALARM CLOCK, BECAUSE YOU ARE STILL IN BED! GET UP! NOW!" is even more annoying than waking up to music.

Zach gets up earlier than anyone else in the house (well, except me, of course) and uses the alarm on his iPhone. In a perfect world this would work great, since there are several times when he has to wake up earlier than normal. The night before one of these mornings, he told me "I have choir rehearsal in the morning so I need a ride to school early. I'll get up at 6:15." I said okay, that's fine, don't forget to change the time on your alarm and he assured me that "duh, yah, it's been done already. Geez."

The next morning, I got up to make him breakfast and myself a keg of coffee and waited to hear his feet hit the floor. And waited. And then did shots of coffee and waited some more. Finally, I went upstairs and asked him if today was in fact the day he was referring to when he said he needed a ride to school, and if it was then "WHY ARE YOU STILL SLEEPING IF YOUR ALARM IS SET!" He sat up and gave me a look that pretty much said "why in the hell is my mom standing in my room what day is it I'm completely confused what the fuck is going on right now," and then said "Oh crap, what is going on? Something weird must have happened because I know I set it right. I don't know why it didn't go off." I said yeah, gee, it's really weird how every other feature on your phone works perfectly except that pesky alarm. Hmm, I guess it must be broken, since it couldn't possibly be because it's being SET WRONG and suffering from USER ERROR! I guess I should just return the piece of crap and park a rooster on the roof outside your window!

Yesterday morning, on Mother's Day, I got up at my usual time and was emptying the dishwasher when I got a text. I thought it was from someone wishing me a happy Mother's Day, but instead it was from Charlie, who was still laying in bed, saying "I want Apple Jacks for breakfast." Although my boys have difficulties operating the alarm on the iPhone, at least I know that they're always able to text, and apparently Charlie has developed an interesting variation of a Breakfast in Bed App.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Note To My Momma

In honor of this being The Mean Mom's 200th post, and for Mother's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to write something about my mom. For those of you lucky enough to personally know her, you know that I'm lucky. You may have memories of her voice, her personality, her temper, her ability to motivate and especially, her generosity. It is because of this generosity that she is spending her Mother's Day weekend out-of-town helping others. While it's too bad that I won't be able to spend Sunday with her, it's okay too because if she disagrees with something I wrote, she won't be able to come over here and kick my ass. And believe me, kicking ass is something that she's very familiar with.
  1. When I was little and wanted to play soccer, there wasn't a team for girls. So my mom contacted the park & rec department and, after making herself clear, was assured that there would be a spot for me on the boys' team.
  2. When I wanted to play softball, there wasn't an organized softball league in our community. So, not only did my mom form a team for me and my friends and spend several years coaching, but she formed about a dozen additional teams. And lined up coaches. And organized equipment distribution. And oversaw the construction of three new softball fields. And hired umps. And then the parents felt left out so she organized an adult league for them.
  3. When she realized that there was a shortage of certified softball umpires, she decided to become ASA certified and started umpiring games at every level, including high school and men's bar leagues.
  4. My brothers and I all did gymnastics, and my mom was always arranging fundraisers, running the concession stand at meets and making sure that we had great coaches and a great facility to train in, even if that meant helping to provide the financing necessary to build a great facility.
  5. My brothers were wrestlers, so of course my mom didn't just go to wrestling tournaments as a spectator. She organized the tournaments, prepared the draws, coordinated the score runners and helped manage the concession stand. She also organized registration nights and always made sure that my brothers made weight, even if that meant dieting on Thanksgiving.
  6. She likes to drink beer. Dark beer.
  7. Which reminds me -- when deciding on a vacation a couple years ago, she chose to do a pub crawl. In Ireland.
  8. Her birthday is on Halloween, but she never made us feel guilty for trick-or-treating.
  9. When my kids were little, she was always willing to stay at my house for several days in a row so that I could go somewhere with my husband, get drunk and have sex.
  10. She knows how to operate a wet saw.
  11. She isn't afraid to say "Fuck." And it's sometimes followed by "You."
  12. She keeps herself insanely busy, so busy that she ends up missing some of my boys' tennis matches and piano recitals. This fact kind of pisses her off.
  13. If babysitting her grandkids means that sometimes she has to get on a plane, then she gets on a plane.
  14. One of my brothers owns a gymnastics center, and if she happens to find out that a student is having trouble paying their tuition, she quietly steps in and pays it for them.
  15. My other brother is a Division I gymnastics coach, and she and my dad fly around the country to watch his girls compete, because if they are his girls, then that means that they are their girls, which makes it important.
  16. She will keep a spice bottle forever. And I mean forever. Because after all, one of these days she's going to need that turmeric.
  17. She never comes over to my house without a bag of gummy bears and/or a new DVD for the kids.
  18. Through all of my fuck ups, she has always stood by me and reminds me that she is proud of me.
  19. She is nice to my husband and truly considers him part of the family.
  20. She understands the infield fly rule.
  21. She used to do that trick when I was little -- the one where she stands somewhere and silently farts and then says "Hey, can you come over here and reach up and get that thing for me?" Ha ha, apparently it's very funny to almost kill your daughter.
  22. One time, while I was visiting her in the hospital after she had had some surgery, I was walking with her in the hallway and she started getting sick because anesthesia always makes her nauseous. Anyway, I really hate it when people throw up, so I kind of took off running down the hall. I claimed that I was looking for a nurse to come help her, but I really just needed to get away from the sounds and sights and thoughts of someone throwing up. I know, real mature. Anyway, she has forgiven me for this.
  23. She refuses to slow down, give in, settle for anything short of her original goal, and most important of all, she refuses to stop loving.
Happy Mother's Day Sylvia Graba/Mom/Grandma/Kicker of Asses. I love you. And so do a lot of other people.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Belated May Day

It's Cinco de Mayo today, which means that in addition to being able to justify the consumption of numerous margaritas and tacos, it also means that it was May Day a few days ago. I guess I sort of knew that it was May Day since I briefly glanced at an article in the newspaper about how no one distributes May Baskets anymore and what a travesty it was, because May Baskets make people happy. The first thing I thought of was gee, maybe it's because all of the people that have normally put together the May baskets have dealt with people like my neighbor (no, it's not the weed wacker neighbor, it's a different a neighbor) and have realized that no matter what you do, it's never enough and no one appreciates it, and contrary to popular belief, sometimes May Baskets end up just pissing people off.

Before we moved into our neighborhood about a dozen years ago, I stopped by and introduced myself to our new neighbors. Hi, my name is Jody, this is Zach, yes I'm pregnant, no I'm not from China, yes I speak English, etc., etc. I learned later that she then mentioned to other neighbors that she had "met the new buyers" but couldn't remember much about us because "due to the accent, she had a hard time understanding me." This was not a good sign.

Shortly after we moved in, May 1st arrived. Now, I had no idea that a stupid thing like May Baskets even existed until she called me and asked me if we wouldn't mind putting one together and leaving it on their front step to surprise her youngest daughter. Since I didn't want to be known as the neighbor with the accent who also happens to be a tightwad, un-fun and cranky, I said sure and took Zach to Target. After all, I'm sure we needed toilet paper and a couple other things anyway.

Turns out, it was kind of fun buying small gifts for a little girl. We filled a beach bucket with lip balm, stickers, some new crayons, a small book and some candy, put a ribbon on top, brought it home and then ding dong ditched the thing.

While I wasn't expecting a thank-you phone call or even a May Basket in return, I for sure wasn't prepared when I got a phone call for the sole purpose of bitching me out. What did I think this was, some kind of competition? Why would I be so blatantly indulgent and over-the-top? It was just supposed to be a May Basket, not a gift-giving holiday. Didn't I know better? Apparently I didn't, because this whole "request gifts for your own kid from a complete stranger thing" was kind of new to me.

Needless to say, since that year, May 1st has always come and gone without a May Basket in sight. Throughout the years, there have been random requests from this same neighbor for a cup of flour here or a stick of butter there or hey, I'm making baked potatoes for dinner and do you have six potatoes? (Seriously, if you're going to make baked potatoes, but then realize that you have no potatoes, make the damn rice.) For all I know, maybe when I say "sure, I'll leave the contents of my pantry on the front step" someone is hanging up the phone and complaining about the fact that I didn't deliver the requested item, or didn't just offer to make dinner for her, or how dare I actually have the ingredient on hand because now I made her look bad.

It's frustrating that for some people, doing what they ask or having what they want still is never enough to make them happy and no matter what, they'll always find something to be pissed about. And with that thought...I think it's time for a margarita!

Monday, May 3, 2010

All I Need Is Love. And Vodka.



The ads that arrive with the Sunday paper the week before Mother's Day always make me laugh because they are covered with phrases like "Gifts to Wow Mom, Make You're Mother's DAY, All Mom's Favorites" or my favorite so far: "Get Mom a FREE! Fleet Farm Gift Card with the Purchase of Ladies' Apparel by Carhartt Woman." Really, just what every mom wants: A hideous t-shirt, and a gift card so that she can go stock up on Tootsie Rolls, trailer jacks and bird seed.

Doug has already wrapped my Mother's Day present, and I'm dying to know what he got me because he always gets me great gifts. The only thing that I told him I wanted was foldable, portable lawn chairs that don't suck ass, and the box he wrapped is much too small to be lawn chairs. He told me that I could open it early, but I'm going to act like an adult, resist the offer and force myself to patiently wait until Sunday. Or at least Saturday night.

The best thing about Doug's gift buying skills is that he doesn't sit around until the last minute and then rely on the Sunday ads in order to figure out what to get me. Plus, he pays attention to what I like, and what I absolutely hate receiving:
  1. Everything listed on the "Don't buy me this for Xmas" list.
  2. A wall hanging that says things like "Where Hope Grows, Miracles Blossom" or "Family is a little world created by love."
  3. Gift sets by Yankee Candle, because if there's anything worse than having one Yankee Candle in the house, it's having two. Or more.
  4. A Perfect Brownie Pan, Pancake Puff Pan, Perfect Omelet Pan, or any other type of pan that would result in me spending time in the kitchen making food that I don't even enjoy eating.
  5. A gazing ball, garden globe or whimsical yard figurine, unless I also receive a new baseball bat.
  6. Perfume, no matter how enticing the gift set may seem. And specifically, if I were to ever receive a bottle of Britney Spears Circus Fantasy perfume, I can guarantee that there would be one less gift giver in existence, which would mean more oxygen for the rest of us.
  7. A Nintendo DSi XL, because buying one of these is like telling me "Here you go, honey, because you're old. And in addition to this gift, I also bought you a subscription to the large print Reader's Digest."
  8. Any undergarments that incorporate the word "Shaper."
  9. A gift card to any store that may very well sell cute shirts, but also sells toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
  10. Any makeup that includes the words "Bobbi Brown, MAC" or "Stila" is fine. But if it includes the words "Kit, Madame, Shitty" or "Value Set," just get a gift card.
  11. Any apparel that has a floral pattern, horizontal stripes or an empire waist. And anything that has a...actually, you know what, just don't buy me clothes.
  12. Board games, unless it's the kind where I always win.
Now that I'm looking at this list of all the things that I don't want, I'm worried that maybe I am kind of picky and hard to buy for. But then I came across the ad insert for MGM Liquors and between the Absolut vodka, Sailor Jerry rum, Fat Tire beer and Fetzer wine, I realize that I'm not picky at all. In fact, if all of the above were wrapped up in a box and given to me next Sunday, that's a gift that would definitely make my Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Eerily Accurate

On Thursday night, Doug was out of town for a client meeting and after I had spent the entire day trying not to put more than 4,782 miles on my car, the thought of making dinner, or even picking dinner up and taking it home, seemed like more work than I wanted. I was also facing the reality that if we went to a restaurant with a bar, it was very likely that I would have a beer, or four, and end up not being able to drive my kids home. And seeing a five-year-old standing on a chair playing endless rounds of Big Buck Hunter while her mom sits at the bar and self-medicates is, well, actually, now that I am envisioning it, it seems pretty kick ass. But since Zach had just finished a tennis match and Charlie had just finished a lesson, and they were still wearing tennis clothes and smelled like they had just been playing tennis, we ended up stopping at a Chinese restaurant that also smelled and had a small buffet. And just to be on the safe side, no beer.

After I watched my boys eat multiple egg rolls and piles of lo mein, and Zoe ate a chicken wing and four grains of rice, we all cracked open the fortune cookies. Normally the fortunes are completely lame and seem more like lecture cookies with lottery numbers, but the fortunes from these cookies seemed frighteningly accurate.

Charlie: You are considerate of others. On Wednesday, his sixth grade teacher was gone so they had a substitute. Charlie came home and said that no one really likes this particular sub, and then proceeded to tell me about all the shit that these kids did in an attempt to distract, and quietly torment, this poor woman. After listening to him, I resisted the temptation to send this lady a blank check and said "I would never, ever want to be a substitute assigned to your class. And you know that I would have to inflict some serious pain if I found out you were horrible to your sub, right? Please tell me that you were not part of the moron convention." He assured me that he sat at his desk and didn't participate in the mayhem, and actually felt kind of bad for the sub. It turns out that the following day, half of the class got busted for being little shits and after admitting their guilt, had to stay in for recess. Was Charlie part of this group? No, he wasn't, because even though he has listening issues and often loses coats and sweatshirts, he is considerate of others.

Zach: Others appreciate you more than you think. Lately, it seems like Zach and I can't get through a day without one of us taking something the other one said completely wrong, and it sucks. But even though he and I get pissed at each other, I know that Zoe appreciates him because he'll listen to her jokes and play with her. Charlie appreciates the fact that, if he needs it, he's always willing to help him with his homework. Doug appreciates the fact that he has a great sense of humor and loves sports. And I appreciate him because even though he can be a smart ass and his vocabulary seems to be limited to "Whatever, yeah, got it, GOT IT, uh huh" and "that's NOT what I said," he's a great kid.

Zoe: You will make a change for the better. Well, she did just get four inches of hair cut off, which means that maybe now I won't have to torture the poor girl when there is dried sucker goo stuck in her hair. And she's trying really hard to be more patient and a little less bossy. Like yesterday, instead of saying "Give me a napkin!" and "STOP LAUGHING AT ME!" she said "I need a napkin. Now. Please." and "Oh yeah, ha ha. Now stop laughing at me. Please." In fact, I think I had a tear in my eye.

Me: You have an excellent capacity for making people feel at home. I guess this is sort of true, as long as they take their shoes off.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Except for the occasional re-posting, I realize that I have written/ranted/bitched about something everyday since mid-October. Since I: a) don't want the blog to become boring or monotonous; b) have an insanely busy May; and c) tend to live outside during the summer, this will be my last weekend blog post and from now on I am only going to be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I may occasionally write something on a weekend (if it rains and someone happens to really piss me off), but for the majority of the summer I'm going to stick to three days a week. Sorry!