Friday, October 29, 2010

A Productive Weekend

One week ago today, I was in Surprise, Arizona with eight 14-yr-olds (actually, one of the girls is only twelve but she acts 16, which averages out to her being 14) for the USTA Junior Team Tennis National Championships. Following a summer of matches and a sectional tournament, sixteen out of 6,000 teams from around the country made it to this tournament and after some amazing tennis, our team won the championship.

In addition to watching some matches that probably shaved a few years off my life, a couple other amazing things happened that, even though they're not more impressive than our insanely fit and slightly scary to look at mixed doubles team, definitely made the weekend memorable.
  • We arrived at the airport for an early morning flight with all of the kids and luggage accounted for, on time, without stress.
  • Zoe woke up at 5:30, got dressed and got in the car without one trace of opposition.
  • Since the matches started at 7:30 each morning, the kids had to get up really early in order to have time to eat something and not play tennis in their pajamas. Shockingly enough, out of eight kids over three mornings of getting up, only one kid (mine) overslept one time.
  • I successfully navigated unfamiliar streets while driving a Suburban crammed with eight kids and myself, with the music cranked, and never acquired a speeding ticket, parking ticket, dent or flat tire.
  • However, while running out for a 6-pack of beer, another mom did manage to blow a tire. But to tell you how kick ass this woman is, in addition to returning to the hotel with a flat, she also returned with the 6-pack.
  • Not one sweatshirt, water bottle, tennis bag or cooler was left behind at the tennis courts.
  • I taught the kids how to suck helium out of a balloon.
  • I impressed a few boys with my ultra-efficient method of putting peanut butter on a toasted bagel. Apparently, it's the little things that matter.
  • Another mom and I shared a hotel room (with Zoe) and managed to not make each other crazy. In fact, we're now even better friends than before we left.
  • Four adults and nine kids checked out of four non-trashed hotel rooms, on time (because we had to request late check-out), without anyone bursting into tears, screaming or, most importantly of all, forgetting anything.
  • No one sustained any injuries or illness.
  • Although I did drink a few beers over the weekend, I somehow managed to survive without any vodka.
And then there is Zoe. This girl basically skipped and sang through four days of being told what to do, when to do it, when to get up, when to go to bed, that we didn't have time for her to swim even though we were in Arizona and the sun was out, when to be quiet, when to cheer louder, when to sit still, when she could eat, no she couldn't have ice cream, no I'm not spending $5.00 on cotton candy and for crying out loud just go to the bathroom now because we won't have time to find one later! She sailed through two turbulence-filled flights at weird times of the day, including a return flight that landed after midnight. Throughout all of this, she figured out exactly how to cheer against the opponent and discovered that she had the confidence to look a boy (from Texas who was more than twice her size) in the eye and tell him "You played my brother and you called a ball out that was actually in. You cheated. We're mad at you."

There were only a couple times that I detected some exhaustion and potential crabbiness coming out, and one of those moments was so obvious that a USTA photographer saw it, snapped a picture and then promptly posted it on their national website.

So thank you, Zoe, for managing to pull out some good behavior when I needed you to, not driving all of Zach's friends to insanity and not making me look like that crazy lunatic stressed-out screaming mom that can't even survive one weekend without vodka. You know, the mom that you see when you're at home in Minnesota.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just Admit Failure

I know that there are several people that struggle with infertility, but for me, getting pregnant was pretty easy, meaning that for the first two babies, all it required was uttering the phrase "Maybe having a kid/another kid would be cool," attending a Christmas party at D'Amico Cucina, washing down gnocchi with large amounts of white wine and then tearing one off. Even Zoe's pregnancy was accomplished without any disappointment, except for the fact that I found out I was pregnant right before we took the boys on a four-day mini-vacation, which meant no beer or tequila for me. Just the first of many inconveniences that this girl has created for me.

And although these babies all arrived with ten fingers, ten toes, a set of eyeballs and what appears to be a pair of ears, I'm pretty sure that the ears don't actually work. Or maybe it's that they do work, but there's a defect somewhere between the ears and the brain, causing the words that they hear to fall down somewhere around their belly button. Or maybe they don't understand anything I say because I bonked their heads on the door frames one too many times as I raced through the house carrying a suddenly-longer-so-now-their-head-sticks-out-two-inches-past-my-elbow-baby in my arms.

Whatever the reason, I'm sick of repeating myself. It's to the point where I'm physically incapable of pretending that I'm not annoyed when I say things two, three or seventeen times, and then having to repeat myself again the next day, week or even two months later. So now, every time I have to remind someone of something, it comes out embedded in sighs, eye rolls and arm flailing, and honestly, all the extra effort is kind of exhausting.

About a week ago, with Zach in the passenger seat, I pulled up to an insanely busy intersection and prepared to take a right. Yes, the light was red but everyone knows that you can take a right at a red light. Unless, of course, there are three ginormous signs that say "NO TURN ON RED" staring you in the face. Just as I was about to turn I noticed one of these signs and, since Zach is going to start drivers' training in the near future and I need to start setting a good example, promptly slammed on my brake. Then I said "Ugh. I hate those signs. I failed my first license test because of that stupid 'No Turn on Red' sign."

"I know, I remember you telling me this story," he said. I was shocked. When had I told him about this? I had no recollection of ever having a conversation with this kid that included the topic of hey guess what mom is kind of a moron because she failed her drivers' test once. And since when does he remember me telling him things?

And that's when it hit me: they will always remember stories that involve a parent screwing up and/or embarrassing themselves. So from now on, when I remind them to do something, I'll tack on a little tale of personal woe from my own fucked up past and maybe that'll make our conversations more memorable. For example:
  • Please rinse the hunks of food out of your braces with a couple gulps of water. I had to wear a headgear when I was little and my brothers teased me relentlessly.
  • I need to initial your practice report every week. After I didn't practice, I used to forge my mom's signature on my band practice reports in high school.
  • No, you can't swipe two gummy worms out of the bulk bin because stealing is wrong. I once got busted for shoplifting at a ShopKo in 7th grade.
  • Please use two hands to carry that plate. I once walked into a screen patio door carrying a full plate of BBQ ribs and dumped them all over myself.
  • Don't run around the store because you might bash into someone. In junior high, while quickly walking into The County Seat at Maplewood Mall carrying an extra large cherry ICEE, I tripped on the edge of the carpet and launched my ICEE all over a rack of clothes.
  • We're leaving at ___ o'clock. After arranging to take my brothers to a Wild hockey game for their birthdays, we arrived at Xcel Center, and because I forgot to double check the game time, we arrived a little early. Seven hours early, to be exact.
  • You need to study for your social studies test. I hated political science in high school and slept through most of the class, especially when we were learning about Watergate. I bombed that test, but now know that Deep Throat is more than just a porno.
  • Stop talking to me and expecting me to hear you while you're three rooms away and I'm standing next to the dryer/doing dishes/rocking out to Metallica/screaming at your brother. Sorry, but I have no embarrassing story to share when it comes to this request. I will, however, start requesting that they pull their heads out of their butts, scrape the poop out of their ears, and START LISTENING!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Fashion Dead End

Now that I have some time to myself during the day, several people have said things like "Ooooh! You have tons of time to go shopping now! You can go to the mall by yourself! You'll be able to go shopping every day!" These people obviously don't know me at all, since for me, having to shop everyday would be the equivalent of being subjected to waterboarding. Or being that guy that gets trampled in the first five minutes during the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Or having to walk across the Sahara with only a juice box and no cell phone service.

Unfortunately, though, trends come and go, seasons change and my damn kids continue to grow, which means that occasionally I find myself having to shop. And since I can't get everything done online (believe me, I've tried), I occasionally have to go into actual stores where actual people work. People that say things like "Are you enjoying the beautiful weather? What else are you going to do with your day? Do you need a gift receipt? Oooh, I just love these tops! How is your morning going? Would you like to save 10% and apply for a store credit card? Sorry, we're all out of that size but I could check another store that's 57 miles away! Would you like the receipt with you or in the bag?" I'm still waiting for a salesperson to say what I'm really thinking, which is "Would you like to slap me in the face and tell me to shut the fuck up?"

On my most recent outing I was searching for black pants for Zach, a jacket for myself and a shirt for Zoe that would be suitable for school pictures. Since shopping with something specific in mind is an entirely different level of torture, I bribed a friend with caffeine and forced her to tag along.

Store #1: No jackets to be found, except for a tweed number that wasn't even long enough to cover my bottom rib. I did find one cute pair of pants (for myself, not for Zach), but unfortunately they were designed for someone that had lower legs shaped like pipe cleaners. The tops all had ruffles, gathers, bunches, sewn on jewelry, bows, frilly shit and/or beads that resembled poppy seeds. This is exactly why I hate shopping.

Store #2: I see jackets! The first jacket I found had a weird buckle across the front, the second jacket was cut for a person that possessed negative amounts of shoulder strength, but shockingly enough, the third jacket fit, and I loved it. I almost passed out from the shock of it all. And then I wandered over to a rack of white long-sleeved shirts because, after all, a girl can never own too many white shirts. Maybe shopping isn't so bad after all.

Store #3: With the jacket checked off my list, I moved on to Zoe's shirt and pants for Zach. After browsing the contents of two racks, we determined that the girl shirts were all -- how should I say this -- designed by colorblind, tasteless, clueless morons that were obviously hell bent on dressing all young girls like hookers in training. It seemed that every shirt we found was either some freakish shade of pink, had a leopard print, was constructed of 98% lace, was freakishly short, and would have only been suitable for school pictures if she happened to attend Whore School. At least we had fun laughing at the ugliness, I managed to find pants for Zach that aren't too nerdy, and my friend and I both found cute shoes for our daughters.

Since we had some time to kill, we actually spent some time wandering around store #3 and found a couple of unexpected surprises. For the first time in a long time, shopping wasn't totally stressing me out and, thanks to my friend, I was actually having fun! And that's when I made the fatal error of checking out the men's department, thinking that I'd maybe find a shirt or something for Doug.

Hanging amidst the True Religion embellished pocket jeans, Affliction t-shirts and cruise wear was this:

So even though I've never seen my husband dress up on October 31 as anything besides himself, if he wants to dress up as an asshole in a couple weeks, I know just where to pick up his costume: Nordstrom Rack.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary

One year ago today, thanks to a particularly crapalicious day, The Mean Mom blog was created.

Throughout the last year, I've complained about my kids, bitched about my neighbors, griped about science projects, shared embarrassing stories about my family and revealed some equally embarrassing facts about myself.

I've posted pictures of strangers and ripped on annoying people, including the clueless guy that walks diagonally through crosswalks, assholes that text while driving, women that think they're the first person to ever carry a baby, skinny bitches that fish for compliments by talking about how "fat" they are, pretentious vegetarians, people that use the term "play date" multiple times in one conversation, lazy parents that expect everyone else to watch their kids, plus about 87 other people that obviously lack a common sense gene.

Also within the last 365 days, I've lost a pet, acquired a new puppy, shared a story about the loss of a child, taken a couple much-needed vacations, welcomed a new niece and survived an entire school year.

So, 250+ blog posts, a few hundred Facebook updates and 800+ tweets later, a lot of people (including the 1700+ fans on Facebook) know that all three of my kids play tennis, I live in the suburbs, I spend a lot of time in my minivan, my cooking skills are nothing compared to my cleaning skills and I have an incredibly thoughtful, very nice, super funny husband.

Because I don't want to known as The Boring, Redundant Mean Mom -- writing about the same school year woes and the same holiday disasters -- the upcoming year may not include quite as many posts. But as long as my kids manage to occasionally screw up, people insist on annoying me and I maintain my goal which is to always avoid those pesky AA meetings, I'll continue to write stuff.

And who knows, I may just find the time to write that book that so many of you have suggested I do. In fact, if anyone knows a publisher that's interested in cranking out a book written by a booze-loving, obscenity-using mom that's annoyed by pretty much everybody and who's current favorite show is about a chemistry teacher dad that cooks meth, send 'em my way!

So, I want (and need) to say thanks for reading the blog, being fans on Facebook, taking the time to leave thoughtful comments, following me on Twitter and sharing me with your friends. Tonight I will definitely be shaking up a few cocktails, putting my feet up, opening a bag of crack-seasoned potato chips and locking my kids in their rooms so that I can say "Cheers!" to another year of The Mean Mom.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Coveted Notebook

Now that Zoe is six, Monday night piano lessons have been added to her schedule. Surprisingly enough, she was really nervous for her first lesson because, as she put it, "I can't play those long songs with all those notes all crazy and stuff like the brothers can." I wanted to tell her that it's really okay because that one song that Zach is playing right now? Well, let me just tell you that I really, truly, honestly despise that song, but since I have to be a supportive parent all I can say every time I hear it is "that sounds nice, dear." But as soon as he is done with this piece of music that sounds like nothing but cacophony, that sheet music will be known as kindling before either of my other kids has a chance to play even one measure of it.

Since she was nervous, I made sure that she was completely prepared for her first lesson. Cute bag (aka repurposed dance bag), new piano books (aka new workbook, two-times-hand-me-down lesson book) and a new box of crayons for the workbook -- check, check and check. And after seeing that the piano lessons required new things and finding out that they would cost money, her excitement level ratcheted up a few notches.

At the end of the first lesson, everything seemed to have went smoothly, her nerves had disappeared and she was genuinely excited for the following week. That's when her teacher said "Zoe, where is your lesson notebook so that I can write down what you need to practice?" DAMMIT! A notebook! The boys have been hauling a lesson notebook for the last nine years, HOW COULD I FORGET THE NOTEBOOK?

As soon as we got home, I immediately started searching for a suitable notebook. Since I love browsing through office supply stores, small notebooks and pens tend to accumulate in my house so I knew I would find at least one. And that's when I spied it: medium size, covered in multicolored daisies, with a translucent plastic laminate cover. I hated to part with it, but I knew that Zoe would love it.

Just as I was about to stick it in her polka-dot piano bag, I looked at the front of the notebook and noticed something stuck to the first page, under the laminate cover. Upon closer inspection, I realized that this notebook would never work.

For those of you that are fans of The Mean Mom on Facebook, you know (or maybe you don't) that the kick ass cross-stitched Mean Mom profile picture was created by an amazing girl, aka Stitch Out Loud, and given to me as a birthday gift from my husband. Well, when I received the gift, there was a sticker attached to the packaging that I loved so much that I stuck it inside a notebook. My favorite daisy-covered, plastic laminate notebook:

Sorry, Zoe, but I guess you're just going to have to use a plain black spiral notebook for now. However, if you promise me that you'll never, ever play "Toccata" from Khachaturian's Children's Album, Book 2, well, then maybe someday I'll buy you your very own daisy-covered notebook. But your's won't have a special sticker.

To get your own pieces of cross stitched greatness, look no further than here:

Monday, October 11, 2010

He Started It!

Believe it or not, I love to be generous and enjoy doing spontaneous things for people. In the past, I've been known to:
  • Leave ready-to-bake dinners in friends' refrigerators;
  • Bake cookies for people, for no reason in particular;
  • Deliver a birthday gift, even when it's not their birthday;
  • Bring beer and pizza to the hospital after a baby is born;
  • Supply baseball, basketball and concert tickets;
  • Break into a house, only so that I could clean and leave flowers;
  • Rake my leaves out of a neighbor's yard; and
  • Not follow through with my ultimate dream, which is to replace my neighbor with someone that I don't despise.
I'm not really sure how this happened, because I don't remember ever doing anything that justified punishment to this extent. But for some reason, I ended up with a neighbor that makes me crazy. And the thing of it is, the majority of people would look at this family and the home that they inhabit and think that I was obviously insane. I mean, what's there to hate? The cars are spotless, the lawn is manicured, the shrubs are trimmed, the kids are clean, the wife is skinny and there isn't one spot of peeling paint on the siding. But the fact is, we have nothing in common with these people because we:
  • Don't mow our lawn at 9:00 at night.
  • Don't bounce basketballs in our driveway at 7:00 am.
  • Don't wash our cars every other day.
  • Don't speak to our kids using a chromatic scale voice, always including words like "dude, super cool, awesome, neat-o and FANTASTIC!"
  • Don't leave voicemail messages for people that A) we're not even friends with, and B) we have no idea what their schedule is and tell them that they should water our flower pots while we're gone for the week and oh by the way, the water spigot on our house is broken so you'll have to haul water from your house and while you're at it, please watch the mail and newspaper boxes. 'Kay? Thanks, bye.
  • Don't listen to shitty music.
And don't even get me started on the sports teams that they cheer for, the political party that they contribute to, the religion that they bow down to every Sunday or the choices they've made when it comes to who's going to raise their children. I mean, it's not like I'm saying my way is the only way or even a slightly more superior way, it's that I'm saying their way sucks donkey ass.

Needless to say, I don't bake cookies for these people.

In our neighborhood, there aren't very many trees and any trees found in yards are not naturally existing, aka they were put there by the original homeowner less than 13 years ago. Some people think that it's insane to voluntarily move into a neighborhood that isn't filled with mature trees and nature, but after growing up in a house located on a yard with 100+ mature oak trees, I was more than happy to live in a house that didn't require hours, if not days, of raking leaves every Fall. Plus, being able to run barefoot through a yard without having the bottom of your foot impaled by an acorn is an added bonus.

Now, though, the small trees that only dropped a handful of leaves 13 years ago grew into biggish trees that justified a quick once-over with a rake, and then those biggish trees went off and grew into fairly large trees that require actual raking. Like, with a real rake and a tarp and everything.

Since most people have only a handful of trees (or, in our case, one tree), it's pretty easy in the Fall to determine which leaves came from which tree. And in years past, before my car washing neighbor moved in, I would kindly rake my leaves out of the neighbor's front yard because, after all, it was my tree that dropped the leaves there. But since Dick has lived there, I haven't continued with the courtesy. Why, you ask? Well, because he started it.

A couple years ago, I watched him go out to rake an area between our yards that clearly contained nothing but leaves from his trees. The leaves extended about three feet into our yard and would have taken him about five minutes to blow back into his yard. After all, the guy's more than a little obsessed with using his leaf blower, so you'd think he'd be more than happy to be able to play with his blower for a few extra minutes. I was wrong.

I watched as he carefully raked the leaves on his side of the property line, leaving all the leaves in my yard completely untouched. Total dick head move, and definitely something that I wasn't going to forget about. Ever.

This year, despite the pinched nerves in my lower back, I went out and quietly did the raking first and -- as you can probably already guess -- left a perfect line between our yards, maybe even throwing a few extra leaves in his direction. He, of course, rushed out after I was done and, after firing up the leaf blower, lawn mower, string trimmer, lawn mower and leaf blower again, picked up the leaves in his yard too. And that's when I looked at the leaves that still remained on the trees and realized something: I fucking lost.

Our yard is on the left side of the picture, and the property line is about two feet away from the ginormous rock bed, which makes all of those trees his trees, which means that all of those leaves still remaining on the trees are his leaves. But where are all those leaves hanging? Over my yard! And if I know one thing, it's that I'm done raking for the season because all the leaves have already dropped from my tree.

I guess it's a good thing I also happen to own a leaf blower. In fact, I think I'll make sure it gets used this week, possibly while the neighbor kids are in daycare because both parents are workaholics. I just hope they'll be able to focus on their jobs and aren't still mourning the fact that the Packers lost in overtime.

And then, after I'm done making sure that the leaves that aren't mine are out of my yard and are back where they belong, I'll make dinner and cookies for someone. Anyone want some lasagna?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Job Recognition

It's a well known fact that I'm sure non-moms/working moms/ working non-moms and virtually the entire male species gets tired of hearing: Stay-at-home-mom's don't get enough credit for the work that they do. Sure, Oprah chirps away with her belief that "being a mom is the hardest job in the world," but has she ever taken an audience full of moms to a kidless, spouseless, all-expenses paid exotic destination? It could very well be that she has, but I wouldn't know because I don't watch Oprah. And this is when so many people gasp and say WHAT? NO OPRAH? BUT ALL STAY AT HOME MOM'S WATCH OPRAH! No, they don't. Why? Because in addition to her being completely annoying and punchable, her show is on during the day when the sun is out, right during the time that I'm trying to figure out what to make for dinner while simultaneously picking Zoe up from school and making sure the boys get their homework done and piano practiced. And did I mention that Oprah is punchable?

And then there's the people that claim they understand how overworked/underappreciated you are and nod their heads sympathetically while you talk about pink eye, field trip forms and the need for yet another oil change, but the second you have a free hour to do something really indulgent like get a bikini wax, they're all OH SURE! GO AHEAD AND GET THE HAIR RIPPED FROM YOUR CROTCH AREA! MUST BE NICE!

(And actually, it is. Because trying to explain a bikini wax to a toddler that is standing in the corner of the esthetician's room with her mouth hanging open and wondering why mommy is whimpering like she's giving birth all over again is tricky territory. So being able to go to that appointment by myself? It's a dream come true.)

So instead of always being pissed because people think my job consists of nothing more than cooking, shopping for groceries, wiping noses, eating mac and cheese, playing Candyland and making sure the pajamas don't have any weird stains on them, I figured I'd try to get the job recognition I deserve by handing the doubters a copy of my resume. Maybe after reviewing it, they'll finally see that I'm entitled to a little respect. And a lot of booze.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jody Adkins
4321 Cul De Sac Hell
Overpriced Suburb, MN 55___
Home phone: Just call my cell, because I'm never home
Email: Yes. Checked? Not always


Seeking respect and recognition for a job that not many people want to do because it involves bad hair days, arguing with short people, bodily fluids and the preparation of food that will always include carbs as an ingredient.


Excellent leadership qualities; 99% success rate in solving the case of the missing library book; ability to teach even the youngest children the difference between "blended" and "on the rocks"; able to determine with frightening accuracy, without leaving the car, which are the most violent children on the playground; knowledge in the areas of car maintenance, computer tech support, Xbox and home theater installation (including programming the remote control), pet care, accounting, groundskeeping, how to cook a nutritious meal with five minutes notice, how to fling dog poop with pinpoint accuracy and um, about 9500 other things.

(please note all positions are from 8/1996 to present)

Chauffeur: Delivered kids at required times to appointments, lessons, recitals, tournaments, concerts and birthday parties, and have done so without ever denting my minivan, running out of gas, killing a small animal or locking my keys in the car.

Errand Runner: Manage to complete seven stops within an hour and a half, using minimal amounts of gas, without ever letting the ice cream melt. I have also displayed superhero-like abilities when having to wait for people like Change Counting Old Lady, Check Writing Old Man, Cell Phone Addict Teenager, Aisle Hogging Car Cart Pusher and Mr. I'm Going To Turn These Deli Samples Into A Free Lunch.

Coach: In addition to actually coaching one year of soccer, a couple years of baseball and gymnastics before I was even a parent, I am currently responsible for building confidence, coming up with words of encouragement even when they're sucking, consoling bruised egos, and managing the sports calendars.

Medical Technician: There is always a cold ice pack in the freezer, an assortment of Band-Aids in a designated jar and a tube of hydrocortisone in case someone gets bitten by a bug. I am also able to treat stomach aches by saying "go poop," differentiate between a fake cough and a real one, administer Advil, send kids to bed early and show sympathy for bruises by saying "Where? Right there?" as I forcefully point at it.

Not-Quite-A-Short Order Cook: Just because I enjoy eating zucchini, red onion, mushrooms and giant salads, would be content never eating cheese again and have a tendency to put sriracha on everything, I don't expect my kids to follow the same dietary habits. Therefore, since I still want to eat what I enjoy without listening to them complain, I often make them a modified version of whatever it is I made for myself. Except for the oldest kid -- he'll eat anything. As long as it's not too cheesy.

Schedule Coordinator, Activities Director, Therapist, Arbitration Mediator, Professional Organizer, Cleaning Lady, Personal Shopper, Psychic, Tutor, Stain Removal Specialist...: Yes.


No, I don't have an MPA, BBA, B.Eng, Ch.E., DPT, DDM, Ph.D., or even an AS. But I did manage to graduate from the Forest Lake school system somewhere near the top of my class and then survived a short stint in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota before acquiring the coveted distinction of SAHM.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Less Bad, More Good

Newton's Third Law of Motion states that "any time a force acts from one object to another, there is an equal force acting back on the original object." For example, if you pull on a rope, the rope is pulling back on you as well. Or if you shove a little girl on the playground during recess, her mom might surprise you by suddenly popping out of the bushes to shove you right back.

This Law could very easily be applied to the last few days I've had, and could even be renamed Adkins' Law of This Week Can Kiss My Ass, which is best summed up as "just when things seem to be going well, something comes along and wipes out any joy or success I may be stupid enough to actually think is permanent." For example:

Good News: Kid #1 has been going to bed on time, without being reminded 23 times. In fact, what is that thing I see there, on his nightstand? Is that a...a book?
Bad News: I opened kid #1's door to put some clean laundry in his room after I noticed that his light was still on, even though it was way past his bedtime. Wow, he must really be enjoying that book! Or, as I discovered, he must really be enjoying whatever YouTube video he's watching on his phone, even though he has been reminded about the rules regarding phone use past bedtime about, oh I don't know, 482 times!

Good News: Kid #2 is managing to keep track of the alternating orchestra/phy-ed schedule at school and hasn't left his violin at home once! He's even practicing!
Bad News: When I asked him why I haven't initialed any of the practice reports (You know, the ones that I calmly reminded him about at the beginning of the school year and said don't forget to fill that thing out because it's easy points so don't forget about it, and don't forget. Hey by the way, don't forget about the practice reports.), I received a look of "oh shit I can't believe she asked me about the practice reports shit I am so dead oh my holy hell can I just disappear right now shit I am in so much trouble how quickly can I pack my bags and get out of here, ummm... what practice reports?" Needless to say, after he pulled the form out of his folder I discovered that I wouldn't have had anything to initial anyway, because THE PRACTICE REPORT IS BLANK! Even the days he has practiced, he DOESN'T BOTHER TO TAKE 15 SECONDS, GRAB A STUPID PENCIL AND SCRIBBLE A 20 IN THE STUPID BOX! He would rather watch fire shoot out of my eyeballs, sweat form on my forehead and see little wads of spit fly from my face as I flail my arms around RAGING ABOUT A STUPID PRACTICE REPORT!

Good News: Zoe loves first grade and has made a lot of friends.
Bad News: Zoe talks a lot. And is impatient. And has a hard time waiting her turn to talk. Even if the teacher is talking. Or they're supposed to be working on a project. Quietly. Without talking. And she's so sure that what she has to say can't wait until later, she has to talk RIGHT NOW. Parent/teacher conferences are in two weeks and not only should that half-hour be interesting, but I think that in addition to an apology note, I'll be bringing a form of bribery.

Good News: I have settled into a really great workout schedule that incorporates running, walking, elliptical, strength and core. Plus a little tennis.
Bad News: I woke up on Tuesday with no fewer than 1,327 nerves jammed into the lower portion of my spinal column. It now hurts to stand, sit, twist, stand on one leg, jump, bend over, put on underwear, get a coffee mug off the top shelf and get out of the car.
Worse News: It's so ouchie and I felt like an old lady while grocery shopping. Standing up straight is not happening so there I was, hunched over my cart, leaning on the handle, wincing in pain every time I bent down to snatch an item off the bottom shelf. When I got to the cashier, I was kind of surprised when I didn't start counting out the exact change.

Good News: The new puppy is house training like a pro.
Bad News: The new puppy is house training like a pro -- but only for me. He'll occasionally pee when Charlie takes him out but when Doug takes him outside, the dog just runs back and forth, anxiously looking around and wondering where I am and unless he really, really has to go, runs back into the house without peeing. Yes, that's correct -- I've created another individual that is completely dependent on me and occasionally incapable of wiping it's own butt.

Bad News: The elementary school BBQ is today, which means that I'll have to deal with a parking lot that, for this event, is 1000 times worse than even drop-off or pick-up, all so that I can sit on the gym floor (in pain) and watch Zoe eat the ham sandwich that I brought her from home.
Good News: My friend, and an East Coast version of The Mean Mom, is in town and immediately after I escape the BBQ fiasco, I will place my ass in a pedicure chair right next to hers, pour a couple cocktails and inhale a non-school BBQ lunch. Then I will haul my cute toes home and enjoy a Wednesday evening with nothing on the calendar.

Bad News: Except at some point, I'm going to have to call the mom of the boy that keeps punching and pushing my daughter into the gravel at recess. Maybe I'll call her right after I make a surprise appearance at the playground and accidentally bump into him at the top of the slide. After all, according to Einstein, what goes up must come down.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spreading it Around

Like I've mentioned before, I don't make chore charts for our kids. You'd think that the genuine happiness I derive from being organized and my love of making lists would result in an affection for chore charts, but that would be wrong. Sitting down to make a chore chart would just be another chore, and the time spent A) creating the chart; B) color-coding the thing; C) coming up with chores (I know there are plenty of chores to choose from, but I need to think of ones that I don't care how they're done because after all, it's the kids doing them, not me) and then D) making sure that everyone was doing what they are supposed to, is time that I could have just done the stupid chores myself. In addition, I'm able to complete the chores nag-free, do a much better job and be done in a fraction of the time that it would have taken them, only letting out an occasional sigh or glare of frustration because no one is helping me.

Oh the joys of being a martyr.

Yesterday was one of those days that I never stopped moving and everyone was smart enough to pretty much just stay out of my way. Bathrooms were de-gunked, floors were vacuumed, baseboards were scrubbed and cobwebs that had not even formed yet were abolished. In addition, because I was washing every piece of bedding in the house, I made about 1,832 trips up and down the stairs while hauling comforters, pillows, blankets and sheets.

Because I didn't want to make trip #1,833, I asked Zach to bring one last blanket up to his room. It was fresh from the dryer, folded, and had been placed right next to him on the couch with the simple request of "please go put this in your room."

"Oh. Kay." was the reply, but with a very detectable hint of gruntish caveman accent. And then not only did he not spring to his feet, grab the blanket and bound up the stairs two at a time with a sure mom, and thanks for doing all that laundry, but he sat there, staring at his iPhone, continuing on his quest to make a permanent butt dent in the couch cushion.

Three hours later, the blanket was still sitting on the couch untouched, unless you want to count the fact that it had been briefly used for his feet. I think what happened next included hissed phrases like "thanks a lot for a whole bunch of nothing" and "oh that's okay, it's not like I've been doing anything for you today, don't feel like you need to do something to help me out" as I snatched the blanket off the couch and threw it on his bed, resisting the urge to sneeze on it and/or wipe the dog's butt with it.

Zoe, however, was more than happy to help out. While I was in her room (which was completely picked up) I found a white microfiber rag on the floor. When I asked her what it was for, she said "I saw you cleaning, so I thought I'd help out by dusting all the tables and door knobs." Yay for the creation of one helpful kid! This is completely kick ass! Soon enough she'll be scrubbing soap scum, washing the hardwood floors and...wait a second... is that orange trim on that microfiber rag? Zoe, where did you find that rag?

"It was on that bench, by the front door. It works really good, after I got the little pieces of grass off of it. You can have it now, though, cuz I did all the tables and stuff."

Our new puppy, Danger, has the cutest paws -- kind of chunky and covered in wispy curls of cream colored dog hair. Since Danger is in turbo house training mode, he goes outside, on average, 382 times a day. Sometimes he goes out, does his business, and then heads right back in. Most of the time, though, the business is preceded and followed up by mad dashes back and forth through the wet grass and leaves, occasionally running through the spot where he just peed, sufficiently coating his cute paws with not-so-cute goo. Also, because we have a boy dog, there is the um, issue.

Let's see, how can I put this... You know how when you turn a faucet off there's often one last drop of water stuck to the end? And then if you were to touch the end of the faucet (often not intentionally) that small drop of water ends up on your hand? Well, Danger is the owner of a faucet. Except his faucet also has a little tuft of hair on the end.

Because I hate having wet, grass-covered puppy paws running through the house, and because I really don't enjoy having dog pee on my hands, I keep a microfiber rag by the front door for paw and faucet wiping purposes. An orange-trimmed, white microfiber rag.

And now, in addition to paw and faucet wiping, I can add table and door knob cleaning to that list.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Cheering Section

I remember a time when Friday night's schedule included nothing but unwinding from a busy week via happy hour, maybe hanging out with friends or occasionally going out to dinner. Now that my kids are older, though, the last four Friday nights have meant packing up for a weekend tennis tournament that has included a Friday evening match time. Does this make me a candidate for parent of the year? No. Since I'm not able to crack open a bottle until after 9:00, do my kids realize the happy hour sacrifices that I've been making? Absolutely not. Does this make me borderline insane? Definitely.

After spending so much time at such a wide variety of tennis matches over the last month, I've had the displeasure of coming into contact with pretty much every type of annoying sports-watching parent out there. Therefore, I have decided to write a little list of rules, guidelines and basic tips so that people can get a clue, stop embarrassing themselves and, most important of all, stop pissing me off.

The Mean Mom's Guide to
Parenting and Not Being Batshit Insane
While Watching Junior Sports
Like (for example) Tennis
  • During the game/set/match, don't sit by the opponent's parents. You may be best friends, but that doesn't mean you need to be best friends while your kids are taking the current situation very seriously and trying to beat each other, preferably without splitting sets. It's kind of awkward for everyone, especially for your kids who definitely notice you guys sitting next to each other and can't help but wonder what it is you're laughing about during the changeovers.
  • If you do insist on sitting by the opponent's parents and your kid is the one getting beat, don't say things like "Oh man, little Johnny is playing like crap today. Little Johnny is doing so bad. Wow, is little Johnny ever having an off day." Instead, stop making excuses and give a little credit to the kid whose great playing skills are being rewarded with a win.
  • If your kid is acting like an immature little shit and displaying horrible sportsmanship during a match by yelling, smashing equipment, screaming obscenities, cheating or any combination of the above, do not rationalize his behavior by saying stupid things like "He's just so passionate about winning and is such a competitor" or "He's still young and gets so emotional about big points." You honestly think that the kid acting like a civil human being isn't passionate and doesn't care about winning? And if you think that your kid isn't old enough to be able to handle himself on the court and behave for two sets, then your kid probably isn't old enough to be playing tournaments.
  • Pay attention to what other parents are doing around you. Do you see them coaching their kid from the stands? Are they cheering for each and every point by clapping loudly and screaming? If not, then please notice that everyone else is looking at you while thinking "PLEASE GET A FUCKING CLUE AND SHUT THE HELL UP!" and come to the conclusion that you shouldn't do these things, either.
  • Come prepared for the day. Kids get hungry after running around a tennis court for an hour and a half, sometimes longer. I always pack a cooler for my kids, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I've packed enough for your kid, too. Stop assuming that everyone is always going to be so generous with an extra sandwich or granola bar. We may not always be able to remember the first names of every single tennis parent, but eventually, after enough tournaments, no one will be able to forget yours: Mooch.
  • If your kid loses, try to refrain from talking to him about the match for at least 20 minutes. He needs time to process what just happened and the only thing that will result from an immediate barrage of advice or criticism from you is anger from him. It doesn't matter if you say "It's amazing you managed to hit any forehands out there since your head was up your ass" or "Wow, that sure was a fun match to watch!" Even if you say "I thought you played great," the result will be the same: tears and anger and a kid that is now 100% sure that his parents absolutely, positively, without a doubt, do not get it.
  • If you do insist on confronting your kid immediately after losing a match, please go outside and do it in private. We don't want to see him cry.
  • Try to remember that no one is perfect, no one wins every single match or every tournament they enter and even the best players have off-days. And even though this rule is hard to remember, after a lot of practice it does get easier. I should know, since I've had the opportunity to remind myself of it every Friday and Saturday for the last four weeks.