Friday, December 17, 2010

A Bride's Story

Once upon a time, there were four women setting out on an adventure. They were in search of the engaged lady's holy grail, otherwise known as... The Wedding Dress. And, the story goes....

First the foursome entered Demetrios, a store that had done a different friend of ours a great service, as it provided her "the one." That dress that you put on and know that it is the absolute most perfect dress for her special day. Homa, the bride, didn't feel quite the same. When I entered the store, she had that same look on her face that a deer has right before a semi turns it into ground venison. Veronica, the lovely sales rep who served our other friend so well, had a look of confusion. I stepped in, we looked, and suddenly Homa started seeing things she was interested in. All things positive ended right there. Once the dresses were hung in the fitting room with care, all hell broke loose.

You see, Demetrios, while a lovely establishment in theory, is actually evil. In the same way that Cruella Deville seemed nice when all she wanted to do was buy a puppy, and then she turned out to be a dog skinner/coat maker, Demetrios is a self esteem skinner. Their sample sizes are itty bitty, and if you yourself are not itty bitty, they send you out to face a firing squad of reflective surfaces with all your parts and pieces hanging out. Oh wait, they actually clip someone's used hanky to your back as if that somehow hides the fact that your dress is unzippable. And, my friends and readers, those were the good ones. The bad ones were the dresses whose sample sizes are too small for Kate Moss in her coke days. Those, Homa wouldn't even leave the dressing room in, as they did not cross her midsection. So, after disappearing into the abyss for some time, Homa emerged looking defeated, broken and pathetic and she said, "That's it. I'm done. And I'm not going anywhere else either." Insert hang dog expression, slumped shoulders, and pity here. Luckily, though, she trudged onward, and actually, upward.

Our next store, Poesy Patch Bridal Superstore went much better. There were sample dresses there, that (get this concept) actually fit people of the non-toothpick variety. And, Homa tried on this.

And she looked like this:

Which is great, because that was the highlight of the day. She hasn't purchased the dress yet, but she looked gorgeous, and if she chooses this one, she will be a knock out.

But, after that, we went on to lunch. At lunch, a discovery was made. During the entire shopping trip, both stores, Homa's beautiful mother had a distasteful expression on her face. After awhile, I started to wonder if that was just her natural expression. My dad's resting face is a tad surly, so I started to wonder if perhaps Homa's Mama was the same way. It was a face that looked rather like she ate something sour and was pissed about it. Something like this:

We started discussing the fabulous plans for Homa's bridal shower, when Homa's Mama made that same surly face. She did have lemon in her soda, so I thought perhaps she sucked some of the fruit through her straw, but then Homa's sister issued the threat that clarified everything. She said, "if you make that face every time we discuss my wedding, I will kill you." Homa's Mama replied in her thick accent, "it will depend on the man you marry." A ha. Homa Mama doesn't just look perturbed as her natural expression. She is perturbed. Then, I realized, I was making that face back at her. While I appreciated her generosity in paying for my chicken tenders (which I did eat, and yes, I am over the age of 5, but I was trying not to order anything messy wearing my winter white sweater vest, and yes I order food based on my clothing), I didn't appreciate her stinginess when it came to supporting her daughter. The reality is that very few parents get the privilege of marrying off their children to the identical spouse that they would pick themselves. (I know mine sure didn't. Just kidding, Mark. I threw that in just for you.) But, I think all parents should have the goal of making their children happy. And if the man that your daughter picks is at heart, a good man, then I think you do your part and get past it. A little support from something other than Homa's Spanx would have been nice.

That, my dears, leads us to the third place. A store that I would like to refer to as a fiery pit of hell, David's Bridal. Now, there is nothing wrong with this store. It has been the vendor to many of my friends' dresses and the bridesmaid dresses at my own wedding. But, I knew that Homa's clan wasn't thrilled about going to such a cheap chain store. It was like taking people who wanted a Morton's filet to Applebee's for their sumptuous sirloin. But, I knew they would have things that wouldn't reduce my dear friend to jello, and so we entered. Zain, Homa's sister, had the expression on her face that contestants on Fear Factor used to have right before they had to eat Bison testicles. I am pretty sure that is why Tameka, our sales rep, hated us with the fire of 1,000 suns. That, or it is because Zain said really loudly, "If you buy something from here, I am not going to your wedding." Those or it was because Homa walked up to the first four dresses Tameka picked out and said, "I am not trying those on." Any of those options could be why Tameka finally just pointed toward the wedding dresses and said, "Go look yourself" (which sounded really a lot like "go f--- yourself").

After looking (and not f-ing) ourselves, we found a few for Homa to try on. That's when the last debacle occurred. Homa tried on a dress that I encouraged. It was fun. It was flirty. Here, I'll show it to you, oh wait... they are a bunch of Nazis and won't let me copy the picture. Punks. Anyway, it was... out of the box, to say the least. Zain hated it. I loved it. And let's just be honest, Zain had already issued the threat that she would boycott the wedding if Homa wore anything from that store. And let's be honest again. This is Zain:

And this is me:

Pretty sure no one is going to assume that we have the same aesthetic. So, Zain liked the one pictured above, and I like the funky flirty one that David's "Scrooge Face" Bridal won't let me publish, and poor, poor Homa was in between. Luckily, on that tense note, we called it a day.

So, four women who started the day bright eyed and bushy tailed, ended it battered, beaten and worst of all.... right where we started, without a dress. Oh, and did I mention her wedding is 6 months away?!?!? Yeah. The end.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Grrrrr.... Part Two

So, I was just unloading the dishwasher when Jack ran by with his pointer that I never should have bought him and basically whipped me in the kidney. While I sit here and read it, it makes me chuckle, but in the moment I froze, truly somewhere between a scream and crying. Luckily for Jack, I did neither, but it occurred to me... Why put a post (meant to be funny) about things that make me go grrrrr.... when there are some very real things that I should talk about. Maybe if I talked about it, I would find that other people feel the same way. Or, I will find out that I am a horrible mother, but I get comments like that on a regular basis, so what else is new?!?!?

1. I cannot stand that Jack is a hitter. And actually, he is rough all the way around. He is a sweet little boy, but his idea of cuddling is plowing his head into yours at record speeds and then wiggling it around. His idea of play is standing on your lap and slapping your cheeks. For the record, I do time outs and correct him, but he is still such a rough kid... and at times (like when I am slapped with a pointer finger), I just don't want to deal with it anymore.

2. Things with Tabbi have not been going well. I am back to dreaming about fighting with her and dreading her coming home at 3:15p because you just know your day is going to tank. Truly, it is just too hard. She is at the age where friends of mine rave about how much easier parenting is, and I sit back and just say.... it's not fair. I want it to be easy. I want it to be fun. I want to take her shopping and enjoy our time together, not act like a prison warden. I want the joy.

3. I cannot get that bleeping bleep bleep of a cat out of my Christmas tree!!!!

So, I've typed it out and I still don't feel much better. Sometimes I think the motto of a stay at home mom should be "Treading Water" because my arms and legs are moving constantly, and I am not getting anywhere. I met a 4 year old last week who can read better than Mark can. (I was going to say me, but that isn't true so I am throwing Mark under the bus for the sake of comedic value. Shut up.) So, am I failing Will, too? Jack is a beast, Tabbi is a brat and Will is basic at best. Is that what I have accomplished in the last 4 and a half years? Sex and the City 2 has a great line when Miranda and Charlotte are comparing notes about motherhood and Charlotte breaks down and says that she didn't know it was going to be this hard. I don't even have it hard, and I feel that way. Miranda replies, "Motherhood kicks your ass." And, I think today I am feeling a lot like I took a size 12 boot to the butt.

Things that Make You Go Grrrr

Remember that song from the 90s "Things that Make You Go Hmm?", well I am having a "things that make you go Grrrrr" kind of day. The thing is, I am not really angry or annoyed at anyone in particular, but I have my panties in a bunch about life in general, I think. So, because everything I know in life comes from Desperate Housewives, I am going to write down my annoyances in the hopes that they go away....

1. Mark. (Just kidding).

1. (for real)... Yogurt. Ok, all five people in my house eat yogurt, so I go to the Yoplait Fat Free area and grab one of every flavor. I skip banana, because Mark doesn't like it. (So, I guess this one is Mark related). Last night he tells me that we now have 6 Pineapple Upside Down Cakes and no one likes them, so quit buying them. Seriously? Remember when I had better things to think about then vetoing yogurt flavors? I mean, really? This is what I have to ponder on a given day!?!?!? Maybe it is time to go back to work.

2. Neighbor Guy, Dude, Strange Man who is in his 40s, but his Mom and Dad still come once a year to do his yard work (Hi, Pot! My name is Kettle. I'm black.) You are one man. You live alone. Just you. Why in God's name do you have four cars? Really, dude. Jay Leno you are not, and that beat up Honda, beat-er up-er more truck, Explorer and Mazda does not a car collection make.

3. Disney Channel... It is 10:06am. My preschool aged children are at home. Older kids are at school. Explain to me why Wizards of Waverly Place (which appeals to, well, someone) is on four times in a row this morning? What do I have to do to get some Oso or Chuggington on in here so that I may eek out half an hour of PEACE AND QUIET!??!?!?!?!

4. Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree.... you are the pain in my bootie! Cat in tree. Dog brushing up against tree. Cat in tree. Jack in tree. Cat in tree. Angel falling off tree for the third time. Cat in tree. Will trying to fix tree. And, did I mention cat in tree? I am about to convert to Judaism just to get the damn tree out!

5. The neighbors who don't shovel the snow off their sidewalks, driveways or front stoops.... really? Would it be that hard to stop watching last week's The Apprentice and go take care of Mother Nature so it doesn't get all tracked into my house. And yes, by "neighbor", I mean me!!! And by me, I mean MARK!!!!

6. Laundry. I love clean clothes. I don't even mind doing the laundry, but if I have to put one more load of the boys' laundry away, I am going to build a big bonfire (with our Christmas tree as kindling) and heat the 'hood for the rest of winter. I hate hate hate hate putting laundry away.

Ok, so I think that gets the majority of it off my chest. And hey, I do feel a little better. Or I did, until I turned my head to the left and saw that HUGE PILE OF JACK CLOTHES ON THE LANDING WAITING TO GO UPSTAIRS! AAARRRGGGGG!!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stage Fright

Ok, so Will had his Christmas program at preschool on Sunday, and like the two programs from last year... he failed to attend. Actually, he did attend, he failed to participate. Actually.... he did participate for 3.5 seconds, then he panicked, then he crumpled, then he left. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

It never ceases to amaze me (and apparently everyone else that has met him) that Will can't perform on stage. As his classmate's mother told me yesterday, "he so loves to be the center of attention any other time." (Hmmm, wonder where he gets that?) Anyway, I quipped back, "Well, he just prefers to perform in smaller, more intimate venues." We both chuckled that "silly little kids" laugh and moved on, but it does leave me wondering... why can he perform any other time, just not on stage? And do I push it, or let it go?

He was nervous going in, but I kept using peer pressure to get him to hang in there. (Wait til that bites me in the ass in high school when he blames that preschool conversation for why he's using crack.) When I left him with his teacher, he seemed nervous but ready. When they paraded into the church for the performance, we were sitting toward the back and off to the side. (We learned that lesson during program number one last year when he saw us front and center and never even made it to the stage.) His head flew back and forth like he was a crash test dummy as he searched the crowd for us and we sat lower and lower in our seats like we were melting. Then, he spotted us.

He swiped at a tear or two while he stared at me, and I gave him the thumbs up and clapped and whispered "you're ok. Stay there." He tried. He really did. He swiped the tears, not making a sound. He set his mouth in a flat line and he stared at me. Cue the music. He swiped tears faster, his chin dimpled and quivered, and finally, his face crumpled into mush. To his credit, he didn't make a sound, and his teachers rescued him before he disrupted the song (or followed through with my fear that Willzilla would trample the two rows of non-giant children in front of him to escape like that horse in the parade in Iowa). He then walked calmly along the outside of the church until he got to our row and settled into my lap.

During his controlled collapse on stage, my mind was reeling. I watched the tears come faster as he fought to keep control and my every impulse was to push the crowd aside and get him down. This was a preschool music program, for God's sake, not a summit to create world peace. If it was that terrifying, I should save him. Then my rational side said no. Let him learn that this is ok. He's with his friends, it should be fun. And that argument won until Will and his two teachers (last year's and this year's working together to save my boy and the program itself) settled my internal debate. But it lingers....

There is another program in the spring and a graduation at the end of the year. Will he do it? Do I force him? Letting him out of it only reinforces his fear, but then again... he's four. Does it matter if he is too afraid to sing silly songs in front of a crowd of parents that only care about their children? When do you push and when do you let it go? And, seriously how is he ever going to thank me in his Oscar speech if he can't get up on the stage?!?!?!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Exhausted, Lemme Tell You Why

Ok, so I have difficulties falling asleep. I would heart some drugs for the problem, except my insurance sucks big time and I am perennially terrified that if I conk myself out, a kid will need me and I won't be able to help them. So, I just keep staying awake. All. The. Time. (Plus, there is a little issue of the really good book I am reading on my brand new Nook, so that may be part of the problem, too. But I digress....)

So, last night I stay up til 1am (way past my bedtime) reading. Then it takes me awhile longer to fall asleep. So, the last time on the clock that I see is 1:45am. Then it is peaceful slumber. Ahhh.....

ARRRGGGGG.... Why is Mark shaking me? What time is it? Ugh... It's 2:09a.

Mark: Hey... Look at my foot. (As he points his leg up so that he is a human right angle).

Me: Wha? What? Huh?

Mark: (Giggles like a school girl). Look. There's nothing on it. (Chuckles like a 10th grade stoner).

Me: What? WHAT? What are you talking about?

Mark: (Doing his best Dazed and Confused impression) Look! There's a band on it. But, there's nothing on it. (Laughs again).

Lynn: (Smothers Mark with a pillow. OK, not really). What? What are you saying?

Mark: (Suddenly, sounding more like himself than Pauly Shore). What? What are you talking about? I didn't wake you up? What? I was asleep.

Lynn: I am calling a divorce lawyer tomorrow. (Pondering if pain and suffering can be included in divorce settlements as Mark drifted back to sleep immediately and I was still up at 3:15a).

Monday, November 29, 2010

I've Created a Monster

This year, Will's school participated in the Operation Christmas Child program where you fill a shoebox with toys, art supplies and hygiene items, specifying the age and gender of your intended recipient, and they get sent all over the world to needy kids.

It was a great experience for him. He loved picking out the monster truck, crayons and balloon animals with great care and lovingly packed them into his shoebox earmarked for another equally car crazy 4 year old boy. We had some moments when he decided that maybe he would like to have all the stuff in the box an play with it himself, but after explaining that the little children who aren't as fortunate as us would really appreciate his generosity, he changed his mind and decided to send it. He carried it into his school and proudly set it atop the pile and wished it good luck on it's journey around the world.

But, in this act of generosity and love... I have created a monster.

Since that date, he has packed several boxes of his own toys to go to "kids who don't have toys or sompthin'." And today, he took my last homemade chocolate cluster from my neighbor and forbade me to eat it, as he is "sending it to children who don't have candy." How do you argue with that?!?!? I said in my nice, seriously, don't take my chocolate away voice, "Will, Mommy was kinda planning to eat that last piece" and he replied, "But, Mommy... Do you want to tell the poor kids that they don't get candy because you wanted this last piece." Touche, kid. Touche.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Let's Put the $ Back in $chool

I just got a phone call from a professional survey company in Minnesota. Ok, I don't really know that it came from Minnesota, but my survey question asker lady said "Doncha know" a couple times, so I am going to assume. Anyhoo, the survey was all about our school district and whether or not I would be willing to fork up some dough to preserve it. You see, in this mighty country of ours, when we have cities and states with financial problems, we cut really unimportant things... LIKE EDUCATION. Our district's budget is 3 million dollars lower this year than last, while the student population is much larger. So, our administration is conducting this survey to determine if the taxpayers are willing to pitch in some moola, or if the teachers need to start submitting resumes to Starbucks and Speedway Gas Stations.

I gotta tell you... I just don't get it. I do not understand why this would even be a question. America's education system is in the crapper. If you don't believe me, check out the acclaimed documentary "Waiting for Superman." They outline exactly why our system is poop, and I have to tell you.... it ain't pretty. (Yes, "gotta" and "ain't" speak volumes for our educational system.) If our governments don't have brains enough to realize that education is one of those "must do" items, then I pray to God the average family can see that.

The survey lady asked how much my house was worth, and then based on that amount, asked if I would be willing to pay an additional $12, $16 or $20 per month to subsidize the schools. I said, yes, yes and yes. I spent more than the first amount at McDonald's today, and rich we are not. I spent more than the latter two at Meijer on Monday buying crap we probably didn't need. And we're not talking about spending that amount per week here, we're talking a month. Now I realize that some people don't have extra money and that is fine. Those of us fortunate enough to grab Mickey Ds for lunch today ought to do our share. Granted, I have three kids going through this school system, so I have a vested interest in class sizes smaller than 60 kids and music programs more extensive than recorders, but really.... we all should. I don't care if you aren't having children or if yours are 60 years old. The kids in this district will be your neighbors, your coworkers, your caretakers. Do you want them to know how to read and be successful? Or do you want them to mug you for money instead?

$12, $16, or $20 per month for our future.... How much can you afford?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pepper's Lesson

So, Pepper is DYING to be an outdoor cat. She screams through the screens whenever we open the windows and she tries to bolt out the back door every chance she gets. When she was younger, I tried to let her be a feline who swings both ways, but she took off and Mark and I had to spend the midnight hour searching and calling for her to return, so she promptly got sequestered back into mi casa. That's what you get if you break curfew. Take note, Tabbitha. But, yesterday we may have curbed her craving for freedom... forever.
During one of Jack's 4,000 trips in and out of the house, Pepper made the mad dash out the sliding glass door, and actually made it... tail intact. Luckily, Will and I were sitting on the patio and so I knew she wasn't going to get far. We watched her skulk about, preening and prancing in her new found freedom. She surveyed her territory and decided to sun herself in a particularly bright spot near the patio table. That is when Will decided to teach her a lesson (or at least, that is how I am going to assume his thought process went). Otherwise, it is just mean and I don't want PETA after my 4 year old. So, let's just assume he saw this as a "teachable moment."

He grabbed the cat, and I decided since he had her in his clutches, he should just throw her back in the house. He did as he was told, but picked the "play house" instead. Pepper looked a smidgen put out, as every cat does when someone makes them do something that they didn't choose for themselves (apparently, I was a cat in my past life)... but eventually just laid down. Jack decides to join the club and lumbers up the rock wall to check out the cat in the play house. I make the crucial error of saying, "Be careful, guys. There's not much room up there and you don't want to push Pepper off the side." Apparently what I said and what Will heard were fraternal twins, not identical, and he heard "Hey Will, push Pepper down the slide."

I have never seen a cat's eyes literally bug out of its head before. Needless to say, Pepper ran straight to the back door and into the house. I think she learned an important lesson about safety. The outside world is a dangerous place. Oh wait... I guess Will is inside, too. Good luck, Pepcid.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Husband's Disabled...

I haven't mentioned this in past blogs, but I think today is my day to admit it. I don't want to feel ashamed and I don't want your pity. I just want to be able to admit that Mark has special needs and not be embarrassed. Deep breath.... ok.... Mark has partial blindness and partial deafness. Whew... there... I said it.

Apparently the blindness is sporadic. It doesn't seem to affect his driving or anything that needs to be done at work. It seems to kick in when he walks into this house and there are messes around. Suddenly, when he encounters such issues, he goes blind. He cannot see the crumbs on the counter from his breakfast preparation, and he cannot even see our dishwasher. He is forced to leave his dishes in the sink or on the counter. Sadly, the issue is so devastating that while he can see the coffee pot well enough to make coffee, once his mug is poured, he cannot see it to empty it or clean it. It really is amazing how he powers through the hard times.

The other side to his disability is the selective deafness that he experiences. Luckily for my family, this doesn't seem to affect his work, unless I call him at work and ask him to stop by a store and buy bread on the way home. Then he becomes instantly deaf and is unable to complete the request. Luckily, that only happens when I call, and not when his boss speaks. Thank God!!! When he comes home, I may ask him to do laundry, but how could he? He can't hear me ask and he can't see the pile of laundry overflowing the laundry room. And, how could I expect him to know that Tabbi has Girl Scouts or volleyball on a particular night? He can't hear me when I tell him. But, he suffers without complaint. He's a trooper.

I feel like a burden has been lifted by coming out with Mark's disease. I no longer need to be ashamed of the coffee grounds spilled all over the stove top. I need to embrace them and realize that this cannot be helped. He is a fully functioning partially blind and selectively deaf person, and I should be grateful for the sight and hearing that he does have. Thank you, Mark, for being so strong despite all that you suffer from. I will strive to pick up the pieces. OH WAIT!!! I ALREADY DO!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nature versus Nurture

I was at a friend's house on Saturday night and got to visit with a group of women that I used to work with, and now don't see very often. Somehow we got onto the conversation of how our children are so different from one another... meaning that my two boys with the same parents, being raised the same way are so very different. It almost makes the argument that nature shapes our little people more than we do.

I described Will as fearless when it comes to physical feats. He could climb our big wooden play set before he was a year old. He flew up the rock wall while he still toddled on our living room floor. Jack just made it up this year, and he turned two this summer. Will rides his big girl scooter (yes, he has a girl's scooter. Shut up.) with no fear, flying down our street at lightening speed. (At least, it looks like lightening speed to me when I have the 9 and the 1 already dialed into my phone, sure that he is going to break his neck at any moment.) The other signature Will characteristic is that every single person in his presence is his best friend in the whole wide world. He wants to talk to, play with and love everyone. And he lets you know. Immediately. Last, Will is sensitive. If someone at the playground (usually slightly older girls) shun him... it cuts him deep, yo. Strangers or not, he gets deeply wounded by people's actions and it lingers.

Jack is two, and while they say that personalities change significantly until a child reaches 4ish, you can tell that Jack is not a little mini-Will. As I said, when it comes to the physical stuff, Jack is not as adventurous. He is leery of dangerous things. Now, eventually he gets over it in most cases.... but where Jack has to size up the situation, Will flies by the seat of his pants without a second thought (and sometimes without the pants). Jack is also shy. That could be his speech delay, but I don't know. I think that he sizes people up, too. You really have to rate as pretty interesting for Jack to bother giving you the time of day. It's not an easy task. And, sensitive? I think not. I believe Jack will have rhinoceros skin. He strikes me as a dude who will go his own way and do his own thing without giving critics a second thought. He will be him (hopefully he'll get over his hoarding), and I am not sure that he will care who likes it.

I had never really thought of the boys in these parallels before Saturday night. But, really... it is kind of amazing. I grew these little creatures from scratch, and yet their little personalities are growing on their own, and in very different ways. Maybe everyone else knew about this, but I just find it amazing. I grew little creatures... and they are growing into little people. Amazing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Let's Get Loud

So, this is the sequel to last night's post about Tabbi saying that she hated us. It isn't fair to portray her as the bad guy, when I have to admit my faults, as well. Ok, I don't have to, but I always do. I screw up and I shout it from the rooftops (aka blog it from my desktop), because I am an equal opportunity caller outer. And last night, I lost it. While I may have forbidden Tabbi to open her mouth again, I opened mine. A lot. And a calling out must be done.

Tabbi would attest to the fact that I don't raise my voice. Actually she says that I am way scarier than most parents, because the more mad I get, the calmer I get. I don't yell hardly ever. I speak. Firmly. However, last night post my post, I got mad. Really mad. And I yelled.

The conversation started with me trying to talk out what was going on, but rational talk and 11 year olds is an oxymoron. So, she yelled. She yelled that she hated her life, she's hated it for the last 4 years and why can't she just go to her mother's. Her mom is the only one that loves her and her dad hates her and while I am pretty sure that more words came out of her mouth after that, all I heard was a dull roar. And then I realized that the roar was probably coming from me.

I am not going in to detail about what was said, because it is all personal business of this family. What I will say is that I had zero tolerance for her assertion that her father doesn't love her, and I made that clear. CRYSTAL clear. I demonstrated voluminously how much her father loved her and that things may not be perfect, but she doesn't show love so well herself. The more I said, the louder I grew, telling her that maybe she would have a better relationship with Mark if when he walked in the door at night and asked how her day was... maybe she should answer. Maybe an eye roll and one syllable response to every question asked isn't necessarily the most loving response either. However, I said this all at possibly the highest decibel level this house has ever heard. And if you know this house, that is saying something.

The good news is that by the end of our "conversation" (which has left me with a scratchy throat today like I just cheered all night at a double header), Tabbi and I came to an understanding. Then, of her own volition, she came downstairs and hugged her dad and they both apologized and told each other that they love each other. At the end, we went from the Osbournes (minus the drugs and cursing) to the Cleavers (minus only the pearls). The lesson learned: Blended families like ours are not easy things, and tweens can push you to within an inch of your sanity... but in the end, we all survived. And people thought it would only be the cockroaches left after a nuclear war....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Silent Night

Ok, so Tabbi didn't drop the "I hate you" phrase on us tonight, but instead she went for "when I am 13, do I get to pick where I live?" So, it was similar to the typical "I hate you," but with a slight variation because she thinks she has an escape route that most kids don't have. And, this will probably come as a shock to many... but I was stunned. I truly didn't think that she would ever want to move back in with her mother. But, I recovered nicely and banned her from speaking for the rest of the night. Seriously. Banned. No speaking for her. I didn't yell, I didn't lobby for our house over her mom's... I just said, "Ok, you don't get to speak for the rest of the night." And by God, it has been pretty quiet here ever since.

It doesn't matter what tween drama lead to this statement. I am not writing about her behavior or anything that is happening here. I am only interested in those three little words that any kid can throw out that just stops your world. "I HATE YOU."

Interestingly, one of Tabbi's friends texted that she hated her mom not too long ago. I read the text. I sort of know the mother. So, I briefly wondered about telling her. But, I didn't. I felt that like tonight, those words were said in direct retaliation against a punishment the girl had earned. It didn't need to be brought to the mom's attention and a simple issue then explodes into World War III. And, now that I am the wide receiver of the sentiment... I feel even more vindicated in not saying anything.

I know that Tabbi's words were chosen out of anger and revenge, but that doesn't ease the sting. It's like a good right hook and it landed exactly where she wanted it to. So, I was pleased that I didn't give her the satisfaction of knowing how that statement felt, but still. Ouch. A little sliver of a relationship that was at one point good just got squished.... and I don't know when or how it is going to heal.

Monday, November 1, 2010

High School Remix

Today I found myself in high school. Again. Ok, not really. Been there, done that about (ahem) 10 years ago. But, sometimes I kinda feel like I am back. Apparently while our acne and perms may go away, that insecurity does not.

I feel the cliquishness while I drop Will off at school. My brood and I go in alone and drop Will off with a few smiles and polite nods to a couple of the other mothers. But, for the most part, I am alone. But, there is a group of women who parade in together, highlights flapping in the wind and you just know... they are those girls. The ones that everyone wants to either be friends with or date, depending on your sexual persuasions. They waltz in wearing whatever the "in" sportswear is of that moment and even though it may be a Columbia jacket and Pumas, they still make you feel frumptastic. When I got dressed this morning, I was fine in my brown cords and orange sweater. Then I see them and my reflection turns from the warm and casual look I intended, into a Halloween costume of a construction cone on two tree trunks. My hair suddenly feels uber cropped into man locks and my dweeb factor sky rockets. They are smiling, texting and sashaying to their 4Runners, an army of put together momunists. I am grunting, lugging and hauling toddler to my minivan. They are those girls.... and I am still not.

The funny part is that I wasn't this girl in high school. I had my fantastic group of friends, and the girls in the popmosphere just didn't matter to me. I have no idea what they did in their spare time and who they dated. None of that registered on my "things to care about" list. While I may have admired their attire from time to time (though as I try to recall, I am not sure that is even true), I was an overalls and ARMY t shirt (from a thrift store) kinda gal. I liked my flannels and my jeans, and none of the above came from The Gap or Abercrombie or any of the like. I wore what I wanted (I still miss my bright yellow Doc Marten mary janes), and I didn't really care. I didn't change my opinion of me based on the looks on their faces, so why now?

I find myself in a world where my self confidence (or don't care-edness) has gone away. I remember back to being 22 and walking into my first real job one day with blond hair with pink tips and the second in command said "Your hair is two different colors." I looked at his more salt than pepper mop and said, "So is yours." I cracked back and didn't care who liked my look and who didn't. But now... I care. Maybe it is because I have morphed into a person I don't really know yet. I traded who I was for a person that I want to be... the stay home mom. But, maybe she and I haven't really melded yet. Or, is it that with each year that passes, the pounds pack on and I feel unsure in my own skin? It's not what they are wearing or driving, but that they are a mere sliver of myself and I would still feel ashamed of myself even in the same outfits and vehicles? Is it that I have finally grown up enough to recognize that impressions we give to others actually do matter? My "self confidence" was really just immaturity with a better name?

Whatever it is, I don't know. I know I want to feel the way I used to in a dog collar and jet black hair. While I realize I looked more Marilyn Manson than Mama Bear and do not wish to head back to punkland, I wish I could still stand as tall and feel as good. Until then, I guess it is back to high school for me. Maybe this time I can get better grades!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Advice for the Soon-To-Weds

I have two friends that are planning their weddings right now. As a marriage veteran (5 L-O-N-G years under my belt), I feel like I have some wisdom to impart on them.

1. My mama told me that the key to a happy marriage is a king size bed. Amen, Mama. Nothing says "happily ever after" like the ability to roll over and sleep as if you are completely ALONE. That being said, separate covers and ear plugs turn mere happy to insanely blissful.

2. Never go to bed angry. Stay up and discuss the issue and move forward. Then, stay up a little longer to plan all the ways you are going to subtly throw this fight in his face for the next 12 months to further demonstrate why you are right and he is wrong.

3. Split the chores. Even if you are a stay home mom (like someone I know), your life will be infinitely better if you split the household duties. Once they are split, reserve the right to change them frequently using the term "but, you're better at it." Then settle in to watch Hoarders as he does whatever chore you are just not in the mood for.

4. Make him feel special. See number three for backhanded compliment that really just gets you out of the yucky stuff.

5. Know that some things just aren't on the table for discussion. Super Bowl Sunday, for example, is non-negotiable. It is not a day to spring "hey, let's scrapbook together" on him. (In my case, it's more of a Project Runway is an inalienable right thing, but whatever floats your man's boat). Just remember, the wedding day was your day... Super Bowl Sunday is theirs.

6. Go into the marriage knowing that your last day of bliss and happiness is probably your wedding day. After that, it's work. It's bills, then kids... then you're too tired to acknowledge each other with anything more than a "I am watching The Bad Girls Club, so if you don't want to, go away." That being said, if you can find someone willing to hang with you while you watch The Bad Girls Club, keep him. That, my friends, is the key to happiness.

Good luck! Godspeed! And remember, if it doesn't work happiness can be only a divorce lawyer away.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rose Colored Glasses?

It is a funny thing to see your kids through other people's eyes. I have three, and most of the time I think I am pretty good at cataloging where they stand in most instances. Tabbi is scary smart, and I can see that. But, she has the makings of an evil genius more so than Bill Gates the Second. She has potential in many things from music to sports, but her drive or motivation (or lack thereof) will end up keeping her pretty average. Will is a lover. He is sweet and playful, but overly sensitive and stubborn. He is LOUD beyond belief and his mommy-centrism keeps him from really exploring and enjoying new activities. Jack is Jack. He is funny and goofy and stubborn and sometimes down right mean. That little man will put his nose right on yours and smile like he is going to give you an Eskimo kiss and then WHACK! Here's a right hook to your cheek from out of nowhere. He thinks he rules the roost and he doesn't take no for an answer. See? I can admit the faults in my kids.... but then I get faced with someone else's opinion of the kids and suddenly... I have to wonder. Could I have rose colored glasses on and not even know it?

My friend Homa calls Will "lively." It's not really a slam, but it isn't a compliment either. I consider him active until someone points out that his activity isn't necessarily the most endearing quality. I sit here and say that I would rather have him be moving and shaking rather than zombied out in front of the boob tube, but then people will call him "active" or "lively" with a more annoyed tone and I am left to ponder... is he obnoxious? Are we heading down the ADHD super highway, and I have blinders on? How do you know if what you see as a positive because you love your dude so much is really a negative?

Other things have been called to my attention, too. Will has some pretty unsavory table manners right now, and I work really hard during meals to get him to behave. But, I chalk up his short comings to the fact that he is four and really... if the shrimp is too spicy, I would spit it into my napkin, too. But, then even my mom will say things like "I wish he would get past that already." Not an insult, but a wake up call that maybe I am not doing enough to get him back on the manners track. Jack will only let the person HE wants do things like buckle his car seat or turn on his Mickey Mouse show on TV. He wants who he wants, when he wants them. I realize that this is annoying, but sometimes I would rather pick my battles and avoid the tantrums and just do it his way. Not always, but sometimes. But, am I just reinforcing his moods? The assumption that he will grow out of that stuff dissuades me from getting all upset about it. But then I see the upset in others and wonder if my complacence is the problem after all.

It is hard to see the negatives in your own children. When some people are so clearly annoyed with what you kid is doing, and you see it as just a kid being a kid... who is wrong? I used to be a card carrying member of the "Kids Don't Belong in Public Unless They Sit Down and Shut Up" club, but now that I have the non-sitters and non-shutter uppers, I can see that I was wrong to be so judgemental and harsh. Or, when I let my little boy walk around our table as long as he stays out of the way... maybe I am wrong to be so lax and permissive? Maybe it is time that I get new glasses, and maybe this time I need to make sure they are clear... not rose colored. Then again, maybe my kids are OK, and the rest of the world could just sit back, take a deep breath and enjoy them for what they are... children.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seriously, This Was My Morning

So, let me tell you about my day. It all started when I was making the boys pancakes for breakfast. I am standing there and decide to check Tabbi's cell phone. I consider it my "lying/cheating 6th sense" that I have developed thanks to her. It is a super power that will come in very handy when the boys reach her age and realize that there is nothing that she hasn't tried. The thing is, Tabbi is grounded from her phone until Sunday. But, I get that niggling feeling that I need to check it. I see that she was texting this morning before school. GROWL!!! Then, I realize that the number she is texting isn't programmed into her phone, meaning it isn't someone she knows. DOUBLE GROWL!!! Then I realize that this conversation warrants action.

The conversation goes as follows:

Stranger: I can see u little girl

Tabbi: Who r u?

Stranger: I can see u

Tabbi: Who is this????

Stranger: IDK. I got your number from a friend.

I decide that this is stupid. I am over the kids (Tabbi included) thinking that cell phones are toys and texting is a game. If you don't have something to say, then shut up. No more nonsense texts. So, I call the number. I tell the caller's voicemail that I saw the texts on my daughter's phone and it needs to stop. "I am a police officer and this falls under harassment so do not call or text again or the cops will be at your door." Yeah... I lied. But, I felt it would make the kid stop. Last spring we were getting heavy breathing pranks one night until I said "Do you realize I am a police officer?" and suddenly no more panting. But today... I realize after I hang up that the voicemail wasn't a kid. That was a man's voice. At least 18, definitely not 11. So, I move on from the "this is annoying" mindset into, "what the hell is this?"

My friend Amoh (name changed to preserve her anonymity) does a reverse number search online (yes, we think she is going to leave her job and start her own detective agency) and the cell is linked to a tow truck company in a southern Indianapolis suburb. My "what the hell" feeling grows. So, after consulting my mom, Amoh and my friend Arual Eht Suomaf, I decide to call the police. If this is truly an adult male, and he is acting like he got the number from a friend, but already knows she is a little girl... I decide we are embarking on Law & Order: SVU territory and I jump to action.

I call the police. Then I remember that I impersonated a police officer and start to worry. Are they going to get Mr. Pervyton or are they going to arrest me? I begin to panic over the thought of me pretending to be a cop. Then, after I have set up a babysitter for the kids and someone to pay my bail... I make the call. They take my information and basically confirm that this is a big freaking deal. The dispatch officer says, "You have no idea how many perverts there are on our streets." Really? My street in particular or is this just a general statement? So, dispatch sends Officer Big Strong Man to my house. I did admit to dispatch that I pretended to be a cop on the voicemail and subsequently begged him not to arrest me. Luckily, he laughed and promised he wouldn't. Whew!

Officer BSM takes the matter seriously, but not as seriously as dispatch guy did. He agreed that the voice was in the 18 to 25 category, but was quick to assume it was an older brother of some kid messing around. And, maybe it was. Maybe I was stupid for calling the police and bringing Officer BSM to my house. But, what if I wasn't? What if Mitchell the Tow Truck Guy is a pervert and is watching my kid? Then, I want Officer BSM to call and leave the message that he left so that Mitchell or his little brother wet their pants and in the process come to grips with the following: 1. Don't screw with me. While I may not be a cop, I have no qualms calling them. So, pick another little kid to phone stalk. And if I hear from you again, you are toast. Or, 2. If you are a kid in her class messing around, cell phones are not freaking toys. Read a book. Get a hobby. Leave people alone unless you have something REAL to tell them. 3. Lose Tabbi's number because stalker or kid... either way... you don't want to mess with me and mine again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mr. Sensitive

Ok, so Will is a weenie. I mean that in the most affectionate way, but he is a little sissy pants. And not when it comes to getting hurt. I have watched my little man fall forward, backward, upside down and round round and he bounces back up like he's made of rubber. But, his feelings... they don't bounce quite as well.

Last night I was putting him to bed and he wanted to read the book "Oh, The Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss. If you don't know this one, it is the consummate graduation message. It's about going off on your own and sometimes you'll succeed, sometimes you won't, sometimes you'll be alone, sometimes you'll be waiting for something new... but you are special so get out there and do great things. The end message is "Kid, you'll move mountains!" Will immediately starts in with the questions. Why would you move a mountain? Mountains are too heavy to move. Why would you want to? Etc. It is hard to explain metaphor to a 4 year old, so I just say that it means that he is really special. He turns to me straight faced and said "No, I'm not." Insert mommy heartbreak here.

He explained to me that he isn't special because sometimes he doesn't do the right thing. Sometimes in school he gets in trouble for not listening and sometimes he is mean to his friends... like the other day when he sprayed Martin in the face with his squirt gun. He isn't special because he isn't good sometimes. Insert mommy heartbreak the size of the San Andreas Fault here.

I explained to Will that even people who are special sometimes make bad choices. I reminded him that he is a great kid at school and has never had to move his animal (a way to track their behavior in class) which is a great way for him to see that he is being well behaved. I reminded him that sometimes Martin makes him mad, too, but that he always forgives Martin and Martin will always forgive him. And even if he makes a mistake, like squirting lotion all over mommy's carpet (yes, that was yesterday's activity during quiet time), I still love him and I always will. He will always be special because he makes his family and friends super happy, no matter what.

Will was soothed with that conversation and quickly moved on to watching 4 minutes of his favorite video with Dad before bed. But, it lingered with me. I love that Will is so cognisant of other people's feelings, but sometimes it feels like he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. I want him to strike a balance between the loving and caring side of him and this tension that he carries that he has somehow wronged someone. Not to brag (as I brush off my shoulders), but Will is LOVED by all the kids in class and all the adults, because he is such a lover himself. But if someone comes close to a frown in his presence, he takes that like a shot to the heart. He feels things so deeply, which I dig about him... but I just want to spare him the pain that comes with. That is the mountain I want to move.... now I just need to figure out how.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Time To Make A Stand

I am not very eloquent this morning. (Insert comment similar to "when are you?" here). My dudes have been sick and I am exhausted, so the brain is firing on hamster wheel power not horse power (much like the Geo Metro of my past). But, something is happening in our universe right now and it is worth talking about, even if it is in fragments, parentheticals and a wee bit of gibberish. That situation is the rise of teen/young adult gay suicide that seems to have statistics climbing on a daily basis.

Your kid is one of these kids. I don't know which side they are on, but I know from having an 11 year old, that children fall into one of two categories. They are either the bullies or they are the bullied. It may not be because they are gay... but there is something. And, until we attempt to thwart this army of mean girls and boys that we are sending into our schools every day, no one is safe. And people are dying. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Tim Gunn and Dave Navarro are coming out to tell gay kids that they are not alone, and that is fantastic. But, the message can't come from the talking heads on TV. The message needs to come from home, that's our ground zero. It's time for us parents to put down the Blackberries and step away from the clutter of our lives and talk to our kids. It may just keep them alive.

There is a book that Jack likes that is called I Love You Through and Through. It talks about loving top sides, bottom sides, insides and outsides. The end is "I love you through and through... yesterday, today and tomorrow, too." I don't know if anyone else has read it, but there is no asterisk saying "unless you turn out to be gay." The message of the book is fantastic, because it is all about unconditional love that a parent feels for their kids. "I love you running and walking, silent and talking." There's no place where it says, "I love you if you marry a woman and live a traditional heterosexual life." Maybe we should distribute this book to new parents, because it explains what parental love is supposed to be... and clearly, some people are missing the boat on it. Four teens have taken their lives in the last month because they were bullied about their sexuality. I don't know what the home lives were like for these kids, but I have a feeling that if the parents were supportive, the bullying could have stopped or at least counteracted enough to save the child's life.

It is not Ellen's, Tim's or Dave's job to save our children. It is ours. And maybe it is time to send the message that gay or straight, they are still our kids. Let's go ahead and spread tolerance and acceptance to our kids, instead of judgement or hate. Let's turn the army of evil that we've raised so far into kids who are actually kind to others. It can't be corrected on tv or through celebrities. It starts here, and it starts with the message that we love you. I have two boys and I dream of a day when they will be sports stars, cure cancer and become President of the United States, but if in the process it turns out that they are gay... then I will love them. I will. Unconditional love is just that, unconditional.

I have never been gay and I don't yet have any experience with a gay child. But, I can only assume that parents would rather have a gay child than a dead one. If your son or daughter is struggling with their sexuality, then let them know that whatever they determine, you will love them. And if your child is one of the bullies, let them know that they are killing someone. With every "fag" and "homo," they are taking away a bit of someone's life. Four lives have been taken away this month alone. None of those kids had the intention of pushing someone to suicide, but it isn't intention that kills someone. It's the words. It's the actions. Don't let your child live with that guilt. Don't let them be a murderer. Some things are just wrong... so why all the sudden it is so widespread? We let our kids become this... now it is time to fix our mistakes. Mean Girls, Bad Girls, and bullying Jersey Shore boys are not funny. It's not kids being kids. It's wrong. Unconditionally wrong.

So, it is time for us to stop being buddies and start raising children that we can be proud of. Step up and maybe if we stop the bullying, the life that you save may be your child's. It's time for us to make a stand. We love our kids. ALL of them. And if no one else will say it, then I will. No matter whose child you are, no matter what... I love you through and through... yesterday, today and tomorrow, too.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reason for Divorce: Romantic Comedies

If video killed the radio star, then what has the romantic comedy genre done to relationships? Per a study from some country that mass produces hot romantic comedy actors, women who watched a large number of romantic comedies were less satisfied with their relationships. Go figure.

I do think that the romantic comedy, or modern day fairy tales, are to blame for our ridiculously high expectations. Take Pretty Woman, for example. I don't know of any actual prostitutes that get picked up by rich dudes and turned into Mrs. Donald Trump. That movie makes prostitution look glam and fruitful. You are even encouraged to have good dental hygiene for God's sake. But, flossing doesn't mean some rich dude is going to whisk you away in his odd grey limo and support you in paradise. Just ask Divine Brown. I haven't seen her on Hugh Grant's arm at any premiers, have you?

Ok, so we now know that you can't trust the career success in a romantic comedy, but what about the fact that they portray men and classy, loving and downright romantic. Give me a break! Ok, so I love Mark and blah blah blah, but come on. Romantic comedies are men standing outside holding up jam boxes blaring great songs. Real men are snoring and farting in their sleep. Romantic comedies are couples holding hands and strolling through the park. Real men are checking their Blackberry for the Colt's score and wondering how many walks it takes to get some action. Romantic comedies are happily ever after, romantic proposals and gorgeous weddings and then the credits roll. Real life... after the romantic proposals and wedding... you actually have to have marriage. Kids. Dirt. Bathrooms that smell of poo after the dude leaves and coffee grounds on the counter tops. It's laundry day when their socks are all inside out and when you turn them the right way, you feel his foot sweat. It's work. It's not romance. It's not comedy. It's life. And the movie makers are too smart to show you that part, or you go from Bed of Roses to War of the Roses in 60 seconds or less.

So, just say no to the romantic comedy. Our expectations are raised by men like Richard Gere, Will Smith and Mel Gibson (pre-psychotic rants and racism, of course) and our real life men just can't live up. I suggest instead that we watch hours and hours of Lifetime movies. I can say for sure that my man can stack up pretty well against the alcoholics, wife beaters and racists on that channel. Suddenly a little sleep fart won't smell quite as bad... ok, yeah it will... but at least I will fall back asleep with the knowledge that it could be worse. He could be running a dog fighting ring in our backyard.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dancing with the.... what the hell???

Dear Producers of Dancing with the Stars,

What the hell is this stupid ass cast of people on your show this season?



OK, no one gets off that easy First, let me say this.... My name is Lynn and I like Dancing with the Stars. There, I said it. Admission is the first step. I know the show is terribly dorky, but I like it. Admittedly, I have an addiction to all reality competition shows that ever appears in front of my eyeballs. And, I like the pretty sparkly costumes (although costume is too big a word when certain professionals take the floor in their bedazzled Kleenexes taped to certain "not seen on TV" body parts) and I like the dancing. No blood, no sex (at least not too overt), no mystery... it is what it is and sometimes I like that. And, just to up my ballroom cred a little, I have even attended the finale show. Granted, the tickets, hotel and airfare were free (I wouldn't pay money to be there), but still, at a time when my Will was a wee little baby and I rarely left him to even go out to dinner, I left him for three days to attend the Mario Hosting Guy versus Emmitt Smith finale show. So, like I said... I am a fan.

But, not today. Today I deleted the recorded season opener (unwatched) and I deleted the results show (unwatched) and I deleted the setting to record future shows. Today I deleted my show that I typically made a priority to watch. And why, you may be wondering? Because I don't watch idiots on TV. If I did, I'd be DVRing Jersey Shore not Dancing with the Stars. Granted, AC Slater is no MENSA candidate, but still... The Situation? He doesn't even have a name... he has a noun. This is a man famous for... well... being drunk, overly tanned and obnoxious? I realize George Hamilton was once on the show, but his younger, dumber version just isn't needed. There is more to life than abs... After all, didn't we learn that from Jake Pavelka's demise???

And Bristol Palin? Really? I almost can't dignify her presence with comment. But, no one is that lucky, so comment I shall. Just a little clue to the yayhoos that picked her to be on the show.... she is not a star!!! She is the child of a wack job (ahem... I mean politician) who is only known because she got knocked up in high school and then on again off agained her baby daddy. FYI, I used to work with like 5 middle aged women whose teen daughters followed that same path. Let's put them on next season and have a dance off! If Bristol hadn't entered teen pregnancy statistic land, we wouldn't know her name. Case in point... what are the names of the other Palin offspring? Beside Bristol, I can't name a one, although I think Twig or Twithead might be in there somewhere.

That leads me to The Hoff (really, now we're taking other reality show "has beens"???), Florence Henderson (who they had to bring in an aged partner to dance with so didn't go all pervy Mrs. Robinson on us), and Audrina Pap Seeker from The Hills whose name I know only because she had a nudey picture scandal a couple years ago. Maybe if this stint on DWTS doesn't kick start her "career" maybe she can release a sex tape or have 10 plastic surgeries in one day like that other Hills moron (I mean star).

So, in closing... count me out. I won't watch the train wreck (I mean Tango) being done on the ballroom this season and I politely request that maybe before contracts are done for the next round of dancers, you might want to gauge their annoying and/or idiot factor before signing on the dotted line. Until then, I guess it's House and Hoarders for me on Mondays.

Monday, September 20, 2010

If you see my mind, let me know...

Wanted: My mind. My marbles. My sanity. The sandwich that will complete my picnic. Something!

I usually have it mostly together. I want to say that I have it all together, but that is not true. I may let something little slip like putting out a check for Tabbi's lunch money or leaving out Will's trucks the way he requested, but on the whole I have the big stuff handled. I know when the bills are due, I know when the paychecks are coming, I know volleyball is Tuesday and Thursday and I can throw in tracking on Laura's mom's birthday party, too. I can juggle it all... until today. Today I dropped the ball. Balls... actually.

I got dressed up today for the Parent/Teacher coffee at Will's school. You drop your kid in his class with a substitute teacher, and then his teacher and the parents sit in a different room getting to know one another. It's a cute little gathering to meet the other parents and chat. I shoved Will into his class and was ready to hit the snack table in the coffee room when his teacher handed me a yellow paper. It was an invitation. To the coffee. Next Monday. Oops.

Fast forward to picking Will up from school today. He and Jack want to hit the playground, but I say no. Today we need to book it home, eat the fast "special" lunchable at a decent pace and zip over to the doctor for Jack's 2 year old check up. I shove them in the car, unhappy about missing playground time. They are thrilled about the lunchable, but a snail could lap them in the eating process so I begged, I threatened, I pleaded and finally they were done. We use the restroom, wipe faces and back into the car. We hit the waiting room in record time and I sign Jack in. The receptionist asks for his name and plugs him into the computer. I wait. She looks. I wait more. She looks more. I am still waiting. She is still looking. Then she sees it. Jack's appointment... 1:30... on the 30th. So, I am roughly 5 minutes, and 10 days early. Great.

I used to track on things. I used to be able to manage my little family of five and all of our commitments. Now... I think I may need to be managed by something, and I certainly need to be committed. So my next task for the day is either finding a new CEO of our family or finding my freaking mind... and I am not sure either one is very likely.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kids Text the Darndest Things...

Ladies and gentlemen, we have entered a new realm. An era where we as parents don't have to just worry about what our kids say and do when they are at school or friends' houses.... oh no. Now they have access to other wee ones 24/7. They have cell phones and Facebook and all sorts of techie mediums they can use to spread their kidiocy throughout the universe whenever they want and we, the parents, cannot keep up. We are losing the battle for our kids to the machines. Insert Terminator reference here.

Here is the situation we encountered this weekend. Tabbi spent the night at a friend's house and apparently she, her friend and another guest decided to spend their free time harassing some boy via text messages. Now, I am not going to lie... I distinctly remember a sleepover in someone's basement where many a prank call was dialed to many a boy from our school. I also distinctly remember being the speaker for most calls because I am a killer liar (sorry, Mom) and can do so without laughing. But, the difference between then and now is that you could really only prank the same dude two times before his 'rents got involved and we were toast. In this case, the boy Tabbi targeted received 67 texts in a 2 hour period of time. Gone are the days of just saying "Is your refrigerator running" and here are the days of 12 texts of "asjdkjadjkkj" in a row.

To make things worse, I later found out that the other two girls involved have told their parents that Tabbi knows this boy two years her senior, from another school district and she has been texting pictures of herself. Upon hearing this news, my head exploded. The end.

Ok, my head is still intact, and amazingly so is Tabbi. Turns out that the part of the story that made me the most upset isn't true. They came across this boy because he initially texted Tabbi on accident. It was a wrong number. He had no idea who she was and most importantly she never sent him photos. She wanted to seem older and cooler to her friends so she made a "they'll think I'm cool" story into a "Lynn Nightmare!!!"

All of this has been resolved and Tabbi has learned a really hard lesson on what type of behavior is ok on a cell phone. She has lost her phone/Facebook for a week and knows very clearly that if this happens again she loses both for good. But, punishments do not really fix the problem. Tabbi is 11 years old and fighting all the same demons that I fought 20 years ago when I was her age. She wants to fit in, she wants to feel good about herself and she wants to be accepted. But... she has all these tools to make the lack of these things scream so much louder than before. At least in my day, you went home and unless you received a phone call, the lamb stopped screaming til the next day at school. I remember a note from friends that temporarily ended my world in 7th grade.... but the issue was only between us. I see similar messages come across Facebook pages daily and instead of a private fight, it goes viral. This world is a new frontier for kids and parents, and I for one am scared. Scared for her, scared for us as parents... and most of all... scared that the Amish community I am planning to join to avoid all of this won't have us.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day!!!

So, Mark has his new job and he is all "hey, my new server works" and "hey, my boss took me out to lunch again because I'm kinda awesome" and while I am thrilled for our family's financial status (which hovers around "adequate but not ritzy" right now), I have to admit that I am a little bit jealous. He's all meeting new people and doing new things, and I am all Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Every single day I wake up is virtually identical to the one before. Ok, yesterday we went swimming and today we're going school shopping for Will, but still... substitute children fighting over pool toy for children fighting over check out toy and it is the same freaking day. And you know what... tomorrow is right on schedule.

Let me paint a picture for you... I wake up when Jack does. We watch one and a half Blue's Clues in my bed and then he wants to come downstairs. He asks for apple juice and when I give it to him, he gets pissed that it isn't chocolate milk. He didn't ask for chocolate milk. Every day I ask him if he really wants chocolate milk and every day he screams "APPLE JUICE, YOU IDIOT!!!" Ok, I added the last part. One day, in my infinite wisdom, I handed him chocolate milk instead of apple juice and thought I was one step away from the MENSA presidency.... and he chucked it at my head. I gave in and got him apple juice. He chucked it at my head and screamed for chocolate milk. I give up.

Will rolls out of bed an hour or so after Jack. Then the fighting begins. They fight over who sits where on the couch, who gets the blanket, who gets the toy that the other one doesn't even really want to play with but will fight to the death over it, what to watch on tv (when neither one will really sit down and watch anything), what to watch on Netflix online (when neither one will really sit down for more than 30 seconds anyway), who gets to sit in which chair at the computer, whose foot touched the other, whose hand slapped the other in the face once the one foot touched the other... You see my point. They fight. They start at Will's wake up and they stop at Jack's bedtime, only pausing for nap time/quiet time in between.

During nap time/quiet time, Will fights with me. He doesn't nap anymore so he gets to lay in my bed and watch tv. He is not to leave my room until whatever show is over. I threaten... I cajole... I implore. He leaves. He comes down to tell me that it is a commercial. He comes down to tell me that he has to go potty. He comes down to tell me that Olivia is super funny today. I send him up. I talk sternly. I swat him on the butt and put him back. And he comes down. Every day.

Later, Tabbi comes home and is vehemently opposed to anything I say. I remind her that she has girl scouts and she flips her lid over having a meeting. I remind her that I gave her the opportunity to quit over the summer and we had many a long talk about it, and she reminds me that she is never ever ever going to just willingly do anything in her entire life. She does her homework, and then we have to fight over her practicing the violin... this instrument that she proclaims a deep and profound love for... until she has to touch it. Then, when that is done and I ask her to watch the boys while I make dinner, she reminds me that her version of babysitting is being within 30 feet of the children, but not really knowing that for sure because her eyes are too glued to her phone to see them.

Lather.... rinse.... repeat. Every day.

I am jealous that Mark is doing something new. I am jealous that he likes it and that he gets to do new things and that he actually has something that measures his success. I can't migrate over to a new server as proof that I can accomplish something. I can't do anything but laundry, dinner and dishes, and there is no gratification in that, because I just start over again tomorrow. The alarm goes off (which is not Sonny & Cher, but rather Jack's screams of "MAMA!!!!") and my day starts again. No change, no..... oh wait, I gotta go. The boys are fighting.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dear Hailey...

Hailey is 11 and she doesn't understand why her grandmother is so sick. She doesn't understand why she may die when the rest of us are just not ready to lose her. Her grandmother is in her 50s and no one is ready to say goodbye. But, her grandmother is sick and while we pray that it is still far away, one day her grandmother will die. Hailey's mom said, "if we don't understand it as adults, how the hell am I supposed to make her understand it." Well, the answer is that you can't. Death sucks and no matter how many people tell you that it's God's plan and that at least she won't hurt anymore... it still sucks. So, here is my answer to Hailey. I don't know why people leave us before we are ready, but it feels like this:

When someone you love dies, you feel like your heart is ripped out of you. There is a gaping hole left behind and it feels empty and numb but excruciatingly painful at the same time. You will wrap yourself in memories that will bring some comfort, but that hole will be there forever. And people will tell you that the pain will go away with time, but it doesn't. Instead, you find comfort in places you never would have noticed before.

One day you will be out somewhere and you will see a flower in the perfect shade of yellow that your grandmother would have loved. You'll see that flower and you'll think of her and at first it will hurt, but then you'll get a feeling like maybe that flower doesn't just remind you of her. Maybe she sent it to you, and suddenly you realize that maybe she isn't as far away as you thought.

Then another day you'll sit outside and the sky will be clear and blue, and there won't be a cloud anywhere. The weather will be so warm that your whole body relaxes and a gentle breeze will rustle through the trees. At that moment, you will think of her and you won't even really know why. And again you will realize it's because in that perfect and peaceful moment, she is there.

Some day you will have a really bad day. School will be hard or you'll fight with a friend and you'll just feel miserable. And maybe on this day when you are feeling so low you will wish that she was there to talk to or hug. But in that moment, you'll hear a song that she used to love or a stranger will say something to you that sounds exactly like something she used to say and you'll hear her in their words. She'll speak to you in ways you wouldn't expect to hear and you'll know that she is with you.

When you are much older, you will have your own babies. And it will hurt that she isn't there to meet them. You will wish that your babies would have known this woman who meant so much to you. But when your baby first looks at you, you will see your grandmother in the twinkle of your newborn's eye. You will see her in your baby's first crooked smile and you will see that she is a part of your baby, even though they didn't meet.

And later, much later you will have your own struggles. You will have to battle something you don't think you can face. You will want to give up and quit, and you will look yourself in the mirror thinking that life shouldn't have to be this hard. And when you look into your eyes staring back..... you will see her. You will see her face, strength, heart and love in yours and you will know that she never really left you at all, because she is inside of you. The very best parts of you came from her and you'll have that forever.

None of that will make losing her any easier. It isn't meant to. Losing someone you love is hard and no explanation of life and death is going to make you feel any better when it happens. All you can do is see that having her in your life has turned you into an extraordinary person and you'll feel her still when you least expect it. The hole that is left when she is gone will remain there forever, but day by day you'll take a little more comfort in the little things that are working to fill it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rice Krispie Treats Don't Fix Everything

There is a commercial on TV right now where a worried mother is taking her son to his first day of school. She wants to walk him in and coddle him, but he declines. Then he gets to his locker and realizes that he has forgotten his combination and worriedly sticks his hands in his pocket to reveal that his mother slipped a Rice Krispie Treat in there complete with his locker combination. Insert "awwww" and single tear here. But, the thing is... you can't predict what is going to happen to your kids at school and you sure can't fit the entire solution on a Rice Krispie Treat wrapper.

SuperMom of TV and most commercials just doesn't exist. Real Mom would have sent her son in, and ran out to Starbucks for some R&R while he wondered how in the world to get into his locker. Real Mom would have listened to the son moan when he got home and would say, "I asked you if you wanted me to walk you in and you said no. Sorry you were embarrassed when the green-toothed janitor had to open your locker, but what would you like me to do about it?" But, Real Mom doesn't sell Rice Krispie Treats. And, Rice Krispie Treats can't sell what's real. (Just, look at the ingredients!!!)

Tabbi's first day of school didn't result in locker issues. Instead, she was faced with 6th grade girls in all their glory. She walked into a classroom run by a popular "Mean Girl" and none of her friends were in the class with her. So, she was confronted not with the green-toothed janitor, but with the well coiffed, make upped priss who didn't want to let Tabbi into her inner sanctum. Does Tabbi suck up to be accepted by her? Does she ignore her and risk permanent ostracizing by Miss Mean and all of her minions? Does Rice Krispie make a king size bar so that I can fit my advice on it and stick it in her pocket?

The reality is that Tabbi had to find her own way through that dilemma and most of the other dilemmas to follow. My ESP is on the fritz and I don't know what conundrums are coming up on a day to day (or hour to hour) basis, and I can't hide an answer in her pocket even if I did. And, I am not really sure I want to. I liked hearing about how she handled herself and I liked her decisions even more. I see her becoming a stronger kid because of it (not to mention having better dental health because we don't solve our problems with puffed rice and high fructose corn syrup). So, marketers out there take note... I think I'll buy the product where the mom-mercial doesn't involve flowing capes and saving the day, but instead creating little independent individuals that work it out alone. Put that on your Rice Krispie Treats and I'll go buy a box.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Amen, Mr. President

At long last, President Obama has finally come out in support of building the mosque/community center near ground zero in New York. The President said, "As a citizen, and as a president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country." And I say to that... Amen, Mr. President!

The entire religion of Islam did not attack our country, nor does this building have anything to do with the faction that did. It should not be seen as a slap in the faces of the victims of 9-11, but instead a huge outpouring of American pride. Freedom is what we are founded on, and terror cannot make us take that away. We can stand up and show the world that while we will never forget what happened that day, we will never be so insecure and afraid that we will fear an entire group for what a portion did. We will stand up for all the victims of September 11th, including the Muslim ones, and we will say that this beacon of hope, spirituality and community will be welcomed, not feared. We will be Americans. And no one can take that away.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mute Button

My house is loud. Crazy loud. I have three kids and a husband who sounds like he has a megaphone permanently glued to his lips. So I spend most of my evenings yelling "MUTE" or "VOLUME DOWN" as if they had voice triggered remote controls attached to their butts. And they don't. For the record, it never works. My voice just adds to the din until I finally just give up and pray for bedtime to come quickly. But, today, instead of wishing for a mute button... I wish I could have a talk button and aim it right at Jack.

My world is a blur, so I don't know if I have written about this or not, but Jack isn't talking yet. Well, that isn't true. He is great with repeating words right now and will scream them at you whenever he thinks it will get him what he wants. "ILCHK" (which means milk in Jackanese) and "NANDY" (candy) are yelled at me constantly. But, by this age he should be putting whole sentences together. Instead, we throw a ticker tape parade when he says "Jack ouchie." Two words and suddenly he's a MENSA candidate.

The good news is that there is nothing wrong with Jack cognitively. He is actually advanced, says our Speech Therapist who comes once a week. He just has an expressive delay. This delay never even bothered me until we had his 6 month meeting this week and suddenly there was talk of meeting with the special education department of our school district when he turns three and the special preschool that they offer. Granted, he just turned two so we have a long time, but still. God forgive me, but I don't want my baby in a special ed program.

I mean no disrespect to that profession or those classes, and I am grateful they exist. A good friend has twins who benefit immensely from the special education programs inside and outside of schools and I am so so glad that they do. But I, like every other parent, just want life to come easily to my child. I don't want him labeled, I don't want him to struggle and I want him to just be fine. I know that makes me sound selfish, but it's true. What seemed like just a minor hurdle in his communication is now looming over me like a permanent disability and I guess I never thought of it that way. Granted, he may still catch up and I am not gonna lie... I pray that he does before he turns three. But, until then I feel like I have a pit in my stomach and what I used to be excited for (both kids in school), I am now terrified of.

So, if you happen upon a magic speech inducing remote somewhere... let me know. And seriously, I'd take that mute button too!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Eat Pray Puke

Ok, so I just heard Julia Roberts confess in an interview that the book Eat Pray Love moved her so much that it changed her life. Duh, Jules.... it gave you a job. And, what person pimping their new movie based on a book would say "actually I think the book was boring, predictable and a bit lame." No one but Shia Lebeouf would be so stupid as to bite the hand that feeds them (caviar), so Julia blinked her doe-eyed blink and professed her undying love for this book. But, since I don't get no money from the eating praying loving group, I am just going to say... I don't get it.

I have known a lot people who have claimed that this book is a life changer, but I disagree. I get about as much inspiration from this book (which I admittedly haven't read and will not go see the movie based on it) as I do from Oprah Winfrey's weight loss success. Give me a personal chef and personal trainer and I'll show you a size 8 Lynn, too. And, from what I have heard and the excerpts I have read, this book is the same way.

First of all... if I am going to be inspired by some person, it isn't going to be a person who is so financially yippee-ki-yay that they can afford to abscond to lovely countries around the world to "find themselves." Show me a stay home mom that can't get out for three hours without juggling guilt that they've left their kids versus the strong desire to run away forever... and I will find that person inspiring. Show me the wife that struggles with the lifestyle she wants, but lives within the means she has... and if she somehow manages to eek out a wardrobe that isn't from WalMart, then I will be moved. If I want to watch a rich person travel, I will just check in on Paris Hilton and her spiritual journey. I am quite sure she has stumbled upon a Buddha or two and found the monks to be really "hot."

And while I am bitching about a book I can't read for fear of changing the title to Eat Pray Puke, why is the person so gorgeous she has a man in every port? I mean really? Can us mere mortals really relate to Julia Roberts's struggle with men? Put a size 18 in that part and maybe I can sympathize with her love life plight. Don't put some skinny bitch on screen and expect us to feel bad that young Italian hotties are throwing themselves at her. Ahhh poor thing... she is forced to settle for true love with Javier Bardem. Damn the suffering!!! If you had Kirstie Alley starring and a love interest of John Goodman, then give me a call. Maybe that will seem a little more noteworthy. Julia Roberts and her love affair with Javier relates about as much to my world as Jersey Shore and I am not lining up for a Snooky inspired bump it any time soon.

So, next time I want to watch a portrayal of one woman finding joy and true love, I may as well turn on Pretty Woman. That Julia epic about a clean and healthly non-crackhead hooker winding up with the attractive version of Donald Trump is about as realistic as ditching your life to eat pray and love yourself across the world. For inspiration, I will just turn to The Bad Girls Club instead. At least they don't pretend to be deep, yo.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lost a Baby, Gained a Bathroom....

My little boy is growing up.... you know how I know? Not because I can follow a calendar which said his second birthday was yesterday, but because of the little changes taking place in my house. I didn't notice it while it was happening, but today as I got ready in my bathroom, it hit me.

Get this.... my trashcan is actually on the floor! I know that may sound like a given, but for the last almost 4 years that pupper has lived on top of the hideous square cabinet over my toilet. You know the kind... those huge boxes that hold all your important stuff, like medicines that expired with VHS tapes.... that cabinet. But, luckily it was there to hold my trashcan so that my little ones weren't emptying it across the bathroom floor. But, I realized today as I threw my Q-Tip away that it was on the floor. Sometime in the past few weeks, someone put it on the floor and it stayed there! That means no little hands got in it! Knock on wood (or wood-looking plastic desktop.)

Another thing I realized this morning is that our toilet paper is reachable. I would say it is on the roll where it is supposed to be, but that isn't true because sometime during the last few years when the toilet paper had to be hidden from my children, we lost the little center holder oner bit. So, it will never be on the roll again. But, it can now sit on the sink. No more days of going to the bathroom only to realize post wee that the toilet paper was on top of that same nefarious cabinet as the trash can. Or worse, hidden under Mark's sink. One then had to look for alternatives like drip drying (which usually allowed me to read another chapter of my book) or grab Kleenex, or worse... waddle over to the TP in a crunched, half seated position. But alas, those days are no more. My son hasn't unrolled fresh toilet paper in a long enough time that we can actually set the roll somewhere near the potty and feel confident that it will remain in tact.

I realize some parents out there are probably shaking their head (and not just from the image of me crab scuttling across the bathroom looking for toilet paper) but because they don't hide their trashcans or toilet paper rolls. They taught their kid "no." Well lah-dee-dah for you. I tried to teach my kids no, and it somehow got lost in translation. My version of "no" was heard as "not right now, but as soon as I get in the shower and get shampoo on my hair so that I can't possibly jump out right away and it will buy you time to spread the contents of my trash and the entire roll of toilet paper all over the second floor of our house." So, we hid things... and now I have this great reminder of the fact that my baby boy is growing up, and in some respect so are we. If only I could find my toilet paper holder oner thingy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Breastapo

Guess what everybody.... it's World Breastfeeding Week! Woo hoo!!! Drink it if you've got it!!! Ok, are we done yet? I am sorry for the sarcasm (no I'm not), but after having two children I am about done with the "breast is best" pressure. How about something along the lines of World "It's ok if you can't breastfeed and we appreciate your effort, but the reality is that you aren't the world's worst parent if you choose formula" Week!

For the record, I am not anti-breastfeeding and actually tried to do it with both my boys. But, because I have deforma-nipples (Hello, TMI), it didn't work. So, with Will I pumped for 5 and half months and bottle fed him breast milk, but for Jack... even that didn't work. You cannot be attached to a milking machine and run after Will at the same time. So, after tears, blood, blisters and agony... I gave up after about a month and let Similac take care of my son's nourishment. And you know what? It's ok. But, if you asked any of the Breastapo members (aka Lactation Consultants) that infiltrated my hospital room the second Jack met the world, I am the worst mother in history. I can still hear them chanting "If it ain't the tit, then you're unfit!" Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration. SLIGHT!

From the first baby book you read, it is clear that breast milk is the best for your baby. But, what they don't tell you is that it may not be the best for you. And here's a hint... what is best for mommy is 100% best for baby. I have had friends who suffered through breastfeeding at it's worst, but they never wavered in their need to do it, and why? So that they could be on edge, depressed, freaked out and feed their kids virtually constantly because they aren't producing enough milk to sustain the baby for any period of time. All that in the name of "bonding." Anyone who knows me and my boys know that there is no greater bond than ours. Our relationship isn't lacking because there was a plastic beverage holder in my hand as opposed to my own milk jugs. And, despite what my friend Lori says, my little dudes are healthy. They have ear infections, sure, but that's it. Even Jack, the one I clearly don't love at all because he only got pumped boob juice for a month, is healthy as a horse. He's had a cold here or there but that's it. No H1N1, no flu, no strep throat. Nuthin.

So, while I applaud all the mommies who can just roll up their shirts and let their babes tie one on, I feel the need to defend those that go with the shaken, not stirred approach. We love our babies. Our babies are healthy. And, we deserve a World Week, too. Then again, we got to have margaritas and infants at the same time. Maybe that is celebration enough!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Just call me Bad Ass...

I don't know if you have noticed this or not, but I have a serious mean streak. I also have a temper and a lightening-fast tongue and the mean plus the temper times the tongue equals BAD ASS. And this time, my alter ego was unleashed on the teenage swimming teachers. Ok, that makes me sound mean, but read this before you judge. That explains how they threw my little boy off the spring board. And, what you don't know is that they did it again yesterday... even after the discussion we had the first time where his teacher and I came to the understanding that they were NOT TO DO IT AGAIN. So, the following is the recreation of my discussion today. And by discussion, I mean verbal bitch slapping.

I tell Will's teacher Nagem (names have been changed so I don't get sued even though I should sue their teenage asses) and the "Supervisor" of the swimming lessons (and by Supervisor I mean the head teenager in charge "HTIC" because the adult that organizes lessons but is never there doesn't have the balls to return my phone calls) that I need to talk to them.

Me to the HTIC: Hi. You don't know me. I am Will's mom and he is the little boy you threw in the deep end yesterday and I am beyond furious about it.

HTIC: I am sorry you....

Me, interrupting: Stop talking. I want the name of your supervisor now.

HTIC: I am the supervisor.

Me: No, the actual adult person who runs the program. I want his name and his number now.

HTIC: Ok, but he will back me up 100%.

Me: Then I will explain to him how you are all wrong. Now start writing. You have no business throwing my 4 year old child off the diving board.

Tabbi's Teacher Who is an Adult But For Some Reason Still Answers to A Teenager While Teaching Summer Swimming Lessons and is Basically Pathetic "TTWABFSRSAATWTSSLBP": I have been teaching swimming for 30 years and that is the only way to get kids to get over their fear is to throw them in enough times.

Me: No! All you did yesterday was confirm that going off that board is terrifying. Imagine if someone three times your size ripped you away from safety and forced you to do something you are terrified of. Then imagine how you would feel if you were only 4 years old! Not to mention the fact that he went in screaming and came up with a mouthful of water! All you managed to do is teach him that all of his fears come true if he goes off that board. Good work!

TTWABFSRSAATWTSSLBP: Well, I have done it that way for 30 years and....

Me, interrupting as I often do: Well I don't care if you've done it for 30 years and the Aquatic Director, the President and your mom all approve, I said no. I spoke to Negam last Wednesday after the first incident and made it clear that it was not to happen again. When I say no the answer is no. I don't care how you try to justify it.

More argument ensues where I explain to HTIC that her other justifications are crap and basically point to gross negligence on the part of Nagem, but it ended like this...

Me: Here's the bottom line. I brought Will to lessons today because I am not going to have him end on such a negative note. I am not going to have that be his final memory of swimming lessons. He is going to get in today and have a great time and if anyone even thinks about putting him on that board I will end this program. Believe me when I say this... I will end it. And let me make this very clear... you do not want to have a third conversation on this topic with me.

HTIC, mumbles looking down at the floor: Well, I am sorry.....

But I walked out before I heard the rest. Luckily, Will had a great day in swimming lessons today and we ended on a fabulous note. Then, we swam at my neighbor's house where he proceeded to repeatedly jump in off the board without any force at all. Swimming instructors my ass!