Monday, November 21, 2011

Other Duties As Assigned

I worked in Human Resources, what feels like a lifetime ago, and I used to always laugh at the job descriptions that I wrote for literally every single job in our company. The last responsibility was always, "other duties as assigned," basically saying that your job is defined by these other 8 bullet points... but if we ask you to do something, your job is to do that, too. It's a "cover your ass" way of telling your staff that there ain't nothin' outside of your duties, so be ready to work.

I always laughed, because my "other duties" always seemed way out there and very frequent. I would be assigned anything from planning Christmas parties to helping my Director write a slide slow presentation at 10p on a Friday night to forging letters from our Commissioner to put in the annual report. My other duties sometimes seemed to outweigh and outnumber my real duties. But now that I am a stay home mom... I have found that my "other duties as assigned" category has gotten way out of hand.

Apparently one other duty is puke clean up. If one of our four legged family members loses their lunch, it is my duty to clean it up. I didn't know that. I figured whoever found it first should be the one to remedy the sitch asap. But, I learned this morning that if someone other than me stumbles upon the lovely gift (aka literally steps into it at 6:01am), they are to wake me.... begrudgingly clean up the large chunks when it becomes clear that I am not waking up for puke clean up.... and leave the ugly orange stain for me to take care of later.

My "other duties" also seem to include breakfast. Now I realize that I blogged about turning over a new leaf and providing a home cooked, healthy breakfast for Mark and Tabbi in the morning, but sometimes, that new leaf gets tired and it wants to sleep in. On Thursdays, when I drop Will off at school and don't have to get in the shower til 7:30.... my new leaf thinks that Mark and Tabbi can get their own food. And sometimes, on Mondays when I don't have the groceries for something fresh, my leaf decides that it should just sleep an extra 30 minutes because Mark and Tabbi can nuke their own food.... but, no. That leaf is wrong. I get huffy sighs and sarcasm if I don't provide the food. I thought I was being nice.... but apparently it's my job.

Other duties can also deal with bobby pins. I didn't know I was the bobby pin supervisor, but I must be, despite the fact that my hair is so short I can't use them. But, Tabbi had a fun up do on Saturday, and apparently asking our hair stylist to do something fun with her hair means that I have to then clean up the 47 pins when they come out and are spread all over the house by child and beast.

My other duties could go on forever, but I can't... because it is almost 7:50a and my real duties need to be done.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I have become a bad person

I used to stand on very high moral ground. When I was in college, I was the president of our Amnesty International group for a time and a strict believer in the sanctity of life.... all lives. I fought against the death penalty and argued it still while working at the Department of Correction, walking in front of my state's death row, claiming that the murderers and rapists on the other side of that brick wall deserved to live. I stood on my soap box and looked down from on high and I preached and believed that murder, even when it is a bad person, was wrong. Then I had kids.... and I can't seem to get my soap box up on that high ground like I used to.

I read the headlines today, and I can't get there. I read about Penn State and that monster who attacked so many children... and I can't get there. I read about the staff that did nothing and think about the children harmed AFTER someone could have stopped it... and I can't get there at all. I think about those mothers who have to look at their babies (no matter what age these boys are now) and know what that man did to them... took from them... and I can't get anywhere close.

I read about a father who tied up his child and then beat him to death, today and the saddest thing is, you can read a similar story every few weeks. People whose children were neglected, beaten, abused.... and I can't defend my old position any more.

I have become a totally different person since I had kids. I don't fight for all humans to have rights anymore. Instead, I see my kids.... everywhere. I see my boys in those victims in Pennsylvania... I see my sons as the one in that closet tied up. I see them... and I know that I can't defend saving certain lives anymore.

There was a father on the news awhile back, and his son was murdered in the 70s by an evil man. The child was tortured for days and later killed, and the killer chronicled each sadistic and evil act in a journal that the father heard read aloud during the trial. Each suffering moment outlined in graphic detail. The news story reported that the killer was due to be released soon, and the father is being watched because he has declared openly that he plans to kill the man who killed his son. 30 years have passed.... and the father swears that the killer will not walk the streets long. I know in my head that this father is wrong and that killing this man will not bring his child back or give himself the peace that he is searching for.... but after having my own kids and turning into this new person, I can say this... That father's reaction is the one that I now can understand. I could put my soap box on his ground.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Sing Songer

So, I don't allow myself to be photographed, videotaped or recorded thanks to confirmed reviews of past appearances where I bear a striking resemblance to Corky from Life Goes On (evidence dates back to Good Morning America crowd appearance.... not pretty). Actually, as I get older and far more frightening, I look more like Chaz Bono. And my voice sounds like a Muppet gone wrong. So, I don't record myself. Today, however, I am kinda sad about that because today's blog post really ought to be a vlog. I am never going to do my annoyance justice in type... but the desire to not be mistaken for Chaz wins... so a-writing I will go.

Last Thursday, I took Jack to Chik Fil A for lunch. We'd had a hard week... Will was sick (which may end up being a later blog post), and I felt like Jack became the invisible kid for awhile. So, Will finally made it back to school and I decided it was time to do a little bonding with old Whatshisname. But, much to my dismay... in the Chik Fil A play place we encountered the most feared creature of all time... The Sing Songer.

Moms, I know you know her. She's the one who sits OUTSIDE the play place reading her iPad listening to her iPod sitting in her iPants doing iParenting. Which means, she will look up once in a blue moon and confirm that her child is in the play place, and then she'll go back to iAnything other than watching her kid. If said glance shows that something has run amok in the play place, she will sashay her iWay in and as her 8 year old son is straddling a toddler punching him in the face like Ralphie to Scut Farkus (although this time an unwarranted beating) and she will say in her sing songiest Disney princess voice, "Honey, you're beating someone up again." And her kid will shrug and stand up, wipe the blood smears off his face and say in an equally fake song from the Disney movie from hell, "Sorry, Mooooom."

In this case, the kid was a diaper wearing little mini boy. But man, despite his size he took a swing at every kid that walked by. Older kids came sliding down the tube slide bawling over the punch the little brat man gave them. One little boy burst into tears as the hell beast (I mean toddler) punched him square in the nose and demanded his hat. (It was a really cool Transformers hat, so I had to give the little killer that one). The older hatted boy thought for a minute, until I jumped in from the mommy bench and said, "Hey... you don't hit, and you don't give that kid your hat." The brat man just ignored me and went on his way. Moments later The Sing Songer noticing the distress wafted in and said, "Hooooney, keep handsies to your selfie." I said in Lynn/Muppet voice, "he's hitting everyone." And she said, singing to me, "Oooooh, he is in such a phase." And, out she drifted as if I had imagined her there.

Maybe TechnoMom would have a lower likelihood of mothering the next Jeffrey Dahmer if she didn't sing to her child and instead used a little bit of what I like to call "Old School Mom" voice. It's the voice that was used back when people didn't worry about psychiatrist bills and CPS knocking on their door. It's the voice that put the smack down so hard actual smacks were never needed. Maybe then her little 2 foot tall torture machine would have actually stopped hitting. It will help him to not be hated in the play place by parents and children alike, and one of these days the older, bigger kid isn't going to be scared to fight back and her little munchkin will go down singing a different tune. One of these days, the dude he hits may be Jack.... and your future mini mangler ain't got nuthin' on mine. And while I use that Old School Mom voice to get Jack in line.... if your dude hits him.... I may just sing song my "no," too.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Post Where I Bash Men... (love you, Mark!!!)

So, I was talking to my friend yesterday, and she was telling me about how her fiance (who shall remain nameless so he doesn't know she is complaining about him to her girlfriends all day long) carried in her work laptop into their apartment the prior evening so that he could use it, and then he forgot to tell her it was in their apartment, and then forgot to get it in the morning, therefore making her insanely late when she commuted all the way to her office and promptly had to turn around and go all the way back home to get it. And, hearing this story, I wondered... how is it our capable men, successful and able to function at work, can be such nincompoops at home (love you, Mark!!!!)???

I wrote about Mark's condition once here, and it occurred to me yesterday after talking to Amoh (names have been changed to protect the guilty), that is it true of most men... and I devised a theory.

I think that these men are actually quite bright. I think they are capable, and I know for a fact that when Mark steps outside this door for work purposes, he is. He can manage it, fix it, do whatever the nerd world of IT men do, and do it well. But, when he steps back into family mode.... something happens (love you, Mark!). And I think it is the fact that he married a super smart and capable woman (good taste, Mark!). I think Nayr (Amoh's fiance) is doing the same thing. Once these men hitch their home lives to capable women, they are magically transported back to the last time they were hitched to capable women... THEIR MOTHERS. Suddenly they morph back into "care for me" mode coupled with "I will happily do what you tell me to, you just have to ask several times and remind me a lot" mode. Not unlike their behavior at home with their mothers. Obedient, not take charge.

Here's an example. Last night, Mark kindly went to CVS to get my prescription refill and get cash for Tabbi who needed it for school. Mark comes home. Cash goes on the counter. We head upstairs to bed, and I get ready for bed missing only my pill I pop at bedtime (thyroid disease, not drug addiction... FYI). I ask where it is... and he looks at me and says, "uh... CVS." So, basically he went to CVS, got cash, forgot prescription. I questioned why he would think going to CVS to get just cash made sense, and he said, "I did feel like I was forgetting something." Uh... drug store.... drugs. Drug store..... drugs. Hmmm... But, like a good mom, I sent him back to the store... offering to make a list this time so he didn't forget. And he willingly went... so it's not like I am ordering him around and being mean... it just takes a couple nudges to get him going in the right direction (love you, Mark!), whereas at work, he tends to get the task done the first time.

So, here's my conclusion. If you want your man to step up and be a little more independent, you have to be a little more dependent. If you need him to be on the ball, you have to get off of it. So, the choice is up to you. Either deal with the fact that you play the role of wife and mother (to your children and him sometimes, too) or step down, loosen the reigns and watch him thrive under the responsibility. I know which one my control freak side chooses, but that might not be the answer for you. All I know is that I know now where this comes from.... and in the immortal words of G.I. Joe (who would have this same problem if he married uber-independent She-Ra) "knowing is half the battle."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm Sorry, Mrs. A

I was just at my son's elementary school this morning, volunteering in his Kindergarten class. I got to cut and tape and wrap string around cardboard squares, and it could have been the most peaceful hour of my life... except for all those pesky kindergartners running around.

I was struck by the magnitude of what Will's teacher does every day. The number of kids and the size of their personalities.... I truly walked up to her and said, "I don't know how you do it!" She shrugged and smiled humbly, but did share that it is a bit harder this year because she has 11 more kids than she had last year, and last year she had an assistant. It took me a minute to process the mathematical logic where the district would add kids and then subtract an aide... and it hit me. "Vote no." Last spring there was a referendum to raise our property taxes a meager amount in order to maintain the school's budget. But, the public spoke... and what's worse, they voted... and the referendum failed.

After sitting in that room today, with a fantastic teacher in a 4 star school, all I could think is that all of those vote no-ers owe that teacher an apology. I hope that some day those people that couldn't spare $25 a year (I am sure you can find them eating McDonalds or spending money at the movies, but couldn't spare even that small amount for the school district) can see what their lack of generosity has caused. They sit back and say "down with taxation" and criticize the school district's money management, and I get it. The superintendent has some fat he could trim, but when the federal and state government slashes education budgets, there ain't enough fat to be trimmed to earn all that funding back. And interestingly, I wonder how these people will feel if the schools stop being 4 star award winners. What happens when my generation decides to flock elsewhere because we want our kids in the best school district, but this one can't even pay the phenomenal teachers and aides that it takes to be the best. What happens to your home values when the buyers look away and the market drops? Is it worth your $25 a year then?

I want to apologize to my son's teacher today, and to all the other teachers who heard "we don't care about you" when they heard the result of that vote in the spring. I want to say that I am sorry that their jobs are the harder for it, and our extremely high expectations haven't changed. I am sorry that they got the message loud and clear, that we expect them to do more, earn less, work harder and put in more time... and we will sit back, drink our Starbucks $8 lattes and bitch about the state of the economy and education in this country. I am sorry that for some reason people don't realize that the building blocks of education should be more important than, well, anything else. I am sorry.... not because I voted no... but because I didn't work harder to make everyone else vote yes. I am sorry... and I hope that my volunteering, and that of the other parents who actually support our schools can be a little help in what must be a very uphill battle. I'm just really sorry.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jack's Credit Rating

So, I have recently come to the realization that I do not give jack enough credit. Somewhere between an infant seizure, helmets and speech delays, I concluded that Jack was special. Not the "all parents think their children are special" special, but a "protect him from everything and keep him close to (if not fully inside) the nest" special. But, in recent days both Jack and I have been forced out of our comfort zone, and while I think I am still a little shaky, he is passing the tests with flying colors!

First, Jack has had to embark on the wonderful world of speech therapy in a school. He has aged out of the miraculous program that brings the therapist to your home once a week for a free play date, and now goes to one of the local elementary schools once a week to meet with that speech teacher. So, we've left the house AND he leaves me behind. Even with his beloved Anna, I was always right near by on the couch. Now, he walks down a long hallway into a foreign room in a foreign school with a foreign person. (Actually, probably a domestic person, but you know what I mean). And, he isn't 100% yet. I walk him down the long hallway (at his request), but he just pushes right through the door and goes on in. HE GOES IN!!!

His other test is preschool. My Jack started preschool last week, and while there were tears on day one... it was not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. I expected clinging and screaming and having to dig his face out of my butt (where it was planted during the entire "Meet the Teacher" night). But, no. He cried in the car, walked to his seat in the class and sat stoic as I walked out. Day two... just a bottom lip, single tear. Day three... minor frown. Day four... NOTHING. He pleasantly walked in and said goodbye to me. I fully expected to be pulling him out of preschool to spend another year at home with me, praying that it would work when he turned 4. And, it works. Now.

These milestones, while major in every child's life, are epic for Jack (or at least for my version of Jack). He even played at neighbors' houses twice this week, with other kids... something he has never done before. My amazing boy who has been called "scary smart" by two separate speech therapists is finally coming out of his shell. He's no longer just sitting silently, he is joining the world and he is doing so with relative ease. All my fears, all my hesitations and stress.... He has shown me that (like the relationship between Visa and me), I am not giving him enough credit. Like my bills if my credit limit were higher, Jack is being given opportunities now, and he is choosing to soar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We All Know

Dear Bullies,

I had a lot on my to do list today, all of which I was hoping to get done while Jack was at school. But, first was "have some breakfast" and I turned on the ABC Family movie "Cyberbully" when I sat down to eat, and before I knew it, two hours had passed. The credits were rolling and my anger was boiling over.

While I know bullying existed when I was a kid, I was never really a target. Aside from the "new kid" jokes when I moved in 8th grade, I was pretty much left alone. Not the homecoming queen or the victim, but a member of the nameless blob in between. But today, the bullying is even worse, because as the movie put it... you don't get to go home to safety anymore. Thanks to the Internet and social sites, the bullying is everywhere, a beast you can never outrun. It follows you, finding your every hiding spot. Infiltrating... attacking.... violating.... hurting... And, it never stops.

So, here's the thing I think the bullies of the world don't know... While you may be successful in ruining your target's life, the rest of us are on to you. We know why you are doing it, and we are not under the misconception that it is because your victim is a loser. It's because you are less. And we know. You don't strike out at person unless you need it to feel like you are more. And if you can't be enough without hurting someone, then you certainly aren't more.... you aren't even enough. You are less. And we know all it.

The things is, if you are really strong, you don't have to tell someone else that they are weak. Smart people don't prove it by making someone else feel dumb, and if you are beautiful, you don't show it by calling someone else ugly. Strength is measured not by picking on the weak, but by going toe to toe against equal strength and coming out victorious. Heavyweights don't take on a featherweight, do they? The smartest people solve problems, they don't create them. The beautiful people are the ones that shine from the inside, as well as the outside. You make yourself ugly when you use those terms. And while you may get a boost from showing that you have something someone else doesn't, the reality is that another person is stronger, smarter and prettier than you. And, the rest of us know it.

So rather than try to put someone else down, just to make yourself feel good... try another tactic. If you are strong, stand up for the weak. If you are smart, use that to defend someone else, and if you are beautiful, realize that through kindness you can be that much prettier. Because until then, the more you try to hurt people to show how good you are.... you'll really just end up being less. And everyone will know it.

Note: If you have tween or teens, watch this movie. It gives a realistic and terrifying portrayal of what our children are facing today, and the extent to which the bullying can push the victim over the edge. Watch it, and know that because this was a movie and not real life... it has positive resolution. But in the real world, the fade to black doesn't always come after a happy ending. Go to to learn more, and do it before it hits home.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Momunists

There are days, like today, where I feel like no matter how old I get or what I do with my life, I am stuck permanently back in middle school. No, it is not because Tabbi's 7th grade experiences are bringing back vivid memories, but because no matter where I go and what I do... I cannot escape "those girls." But today, instead of mean girls, pop tarts, or whatever we dubbed them at Bett Middle, they are what I call "The Momunists."

I blogged about them a long time ago here, but I have found that now that I have a kid in 7th, a kid in Kindergarten and a kid in preschool... they are everywhere! I am sure you know them, too, but just in case.... here's how you spot them. At the bus stop, they will be the ones in the yoga pants and sports bras or Under Armour shirts, just waiting for little Kiki or Maxwell the 3rd to climb onto the bus so they may plug in their iPods and jog the day away. At the school, they are the ones hugging the principal and calling her by her first name, and then greeting each lunch lady and janitor with a polite "you are less than me, but I will appear to be benevolent" nod. At sporting events, they are the ones with their daughter's name on their sport specific t-shirts, and at all outside of school events like PTO, they are the ones running the show.

Here's how they can tell you are not one of them. 1. You are always either under or over dressed. At the bus stop you are wearing capris and a t shirt, and let's get serious... the only place you are jogging is to the bathroom during The View's commercial breaks. During outside of school events, you wear your normal style, whereas they don Land's End polos and matching khaki shorts and look at your sequined "I wish I was from Jersey" sweater with disdain and whisper "I bet that's not even Eddie Bauer." 2. Your son's name is written on his backpack with Sharpie, not embroidered and express shipped from L.L.Bean. 3. Your son has a temporary tattoo of some sort of dinocrocmonsterturtle on his forearm, and has for the past 4 weeks. 4. At sporting events, you are the one wearing whatever you had been wearing all day, and sweating like a pig trying to keep Jack from tumbling down the bleachers and Will from yelling "TABBI RULES" right as the other team serves. 5. At PTO, you are the one again wearing something either too casual or too formal, and trying to get involved, but your ideas are shot down in order to have a "sock hop" which both you and the kids attending are too young to appreciate for the nostaglia and retro factor, plus you are the mother of a robust little boy who isn't interested in dancing the jitter bug or whatever they did in bobby socks days.

These creatures kept me out of PTO when Tabbi was in elementary school, and I find myself shrinking into the background again. Rarely do I walk into a world where I feel "less than" others, but there is something about these Stepford moms. While I strive to be involved in the kids' schools, I don't want to be a part of their regime. But I kind of wish that my exclusion was on my terms and not theirs. Then again, there is one benefit to being on the outside looking in. I am not being forced to wear a poodle skirt any time soon.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor

I've been toying with this post for awhile now, fearing that I will insult a large majority of my friends... but I tend to be insulting anyway, so I just decided to embrace it. But, before you read, know that I am not criticizing a religion or any of my friends who practice it... and in fact, am only targeting a small group of that population who seem to extol its virtues a lot more than they actually live them. Thus endeth my disclaimer (and possibly some friendships).

There is a family that I know that is Christian. You can tell that they are Christians because they manage to include it in virtually every conversation you ever have. If you mention what a nice day it is, it is nice because God made it so. If you mention that you like their new patio set, it is because they prayed on which set to buy. If you mention that it's 2:00pm, then it is 2:00pm on the Lord's day. And that's fine. I respect their devotion and their general attitude of gratitude and happiness. Then, their little boy (who attends a private Christian school, which they also work into every conversation), will basically take a dump on mine, all while they smile and explain how very Christian they are. And that, my friends, is what I don't get.

I don't attend a church right now, and I am not a theologian (I leave that area of expertise to my brother). I am not an expert on God or religion, but I have always believed that at the heart of every religion, is to be a good person. Maybe I am naive, but I have always thought that was the goal. So, when I see these people with "SUPER CHRISTIAN" tattooed on their foreheads, I often wonder why they have to say it so often, rather than show it. I understand that these are children, and that kids will be kids, and am in no way implying that private Christian schools created this monster, but I am surprised that parents will stand there and profess to be so good, and let their child behave so bad. Aren't there key quotes like "Thou shalt love thy neighbor" and "Anyone who says he is walking in the light of Christ but dislikes his fellow man is still in darkness" that should indicate that at the end of the day (and in the beginning and middle), we should all just strive to be good people, and be gooder to the people around us?

I like to live by the mantra "I don't know nuthin' about nuthin'," and that is probably the most true when speaking about religious topics (and parenting). But, I do know that I have always made my kids live by the rule that they will be good to others. At times, that means forcing Tabbi to play with or talk to younger kids, but too bad. Including them when they are around is a must. Period. I think that is because way down deep, under all of my meanness and cynicism, I am really trying to just be a good person and raise my kids to be good, too. I am not professing to be a better Christian than anyone else, but at least I know I have that one criterion down. I may not include it in every conversation, but I will live that part every day. And, whether it be Biblical teachings or that of Bill and Ted... I wish we all could just live by this theory and "be excellent to each other."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Scream at Ice Cream!!!

So, Will has a little pudge on him. The pediatrician is not concerned at all, and said his excessive height and weight are proportional, and his BMI within the range of normal. So, the pudgy bits that Will has are normal little boy pudgy bits. Good to know. My pudgy bits and Mark's pudgy bits are not normal. So, my goal is to make the kids better than we are. I want them to eat healthier. I want them to stay fit. I am a champion of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. I am making their breakfast and snacks to ensure that they aren't processed, but rather full of protein and fiber. But, despite my best efforts at healthfulness... I learned something yesterday. I learned that Will gets ice cream cones... with his school lunch!!!

Apparently there is an "extras" table filled with everything a growing boy needs (if you mean growing outward instead of up). After inquiring about them, I learned that Will has had chocolate cupcakes, an Oreo drumstick cone, and rainbow popsicles. Also offered are chips and salty goodness. Um.... childhood obesity, what?!?!?!!?

When I was in school, I was not introduced to the world of "extras" until 8th grade. Even then, I can freely admit that my lunches were transformed from healthy to "ice cream chip burgers." And at that age, I should have known better. But, Kindergarten?!?!?!? Elementary school?!?!?!?! These are their formative years here people.... how could you expect him to eat the pile of green beans when he has an Oreo drumstick cone instead? Even he admits that by the time he eats the cone (which has to be eaten first or it will melt, duh...), he barely has time to eat the rest of his lunch. Will is a veggie, fruit, meat eater... and the school is transforming him into an ice cream junkie.

I am calling the cafeteria today, and stopping the extras, except for Fridays. I have decided to let him have a special treat to celebrate the end of the week. (See, I am not a monster). So, the fact that I can get this under control for our family is fine. But, I just question the logic of it and worry for the parents who don't realize that this is the nutritional school lunch we've signed our kids up for. Thank goodness Will wears his lunch on his sleeve, or I wouldn't have had any idea of the junk he is consuming at lunch. So, parents in our district and others.... be concerned about the quality of lunch your kid is getting. It may just make you scream!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pants on the Ground

As if Justin Bieber's music and constant presence weren't enough to make me dislike him... he has finally crossed the line. It has come to my attention that the man (and by man, I mean young boy) is trying to bring back a fashion tragedy from the 90s. Luckily, his power seems to only reach out to the 7 to 12 year old girl set, so I am not sure he can spread this about the male population... But, just in case, we need to be aware that in his desire to be the next Vanilla Ice, Justin Bieber is sagging.
Seriously?!?!?! First of all, that look was never a good one. There may have been some whacked out fashion trends for the ladies, and I may have participated in some of them, but nothing compares to the misguided notion that a butt crack on display and a 3 foot long empty swath of cloth crotch is a good idea. As sexy as it is to have to waddle like a penguin and hitch up your pants every third step, it adds the extra wardrobe coordination of matching your drawers to your clothes. I mean really.... navy undies with a black shirt? Not a good plan.

And let's take Justin just one step further.... a step I call "The Identity Crisis." Sagging skinny jeans? Are you Hip Hop or Hipster, because you can't be both. Otherwise, you'd be Hopster, which just sound like a gangsta Easter Bunny. So, unless rapping mythical creature is the goal here.... I only have one thing to say.... PULL UP YOUR FREAKING PANTS!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

I mentioned in my last post that I was getting up at 6:15am every morning to cook my family breakfast, and I mentioned that mornings happen to suck. But, what I failed to mention (and am marveling at today) is how smoothly our mornings are going thanks to this new routine. Barring day two of last week, even Tabbi is managing to make it downstairs on time. Suddenly what was a nightmare, has become almost effortless. (Pause, while I knock on wood for awhile).

Last year, mornings were a nightmare. Mark was in charge of getting Tabbi up and out the door because I wasn't willing to wake up. (Now that I see it in type, that doesn't make me look like a great mom, does it?) Will's school was only three mornings a week, and not until 9:15, and my reasoning was that Mark was up and moving getting ready for work, so why shouldn't I sleep in til 8:00? But, most days I was awakened by one or both of them screaming at the other for something or another. Tabbi went back to sleep. Mark is being too naggy. Tabbi is late. Mark is loud. Lather, rinse, repeat. Every. Single. Morning.

This year, we have settled into a little routine that seems to be working. Mark gets Tabbi up at 6:00a, when he wakes up. Tabbi knows that she needs to be downstairs at 6:30a. I am not willing to do anything between those two time points. Mark goes about his business to get ready for work, and I climb out of bed perky and upbeat (aka grouchy and moody) and trudge down the stairs to prepare whatever I've scheduled for the day. At 6:30, breakfast is ready and I walk up the stairs and say two words to Tabbi, "get downstairs." And you know what? She does it! She knows that I am making her go downstairs at 6:30 and I don't care what her "get ready" status is. If she ends up at school looking foolish in her pajama shorts and bed head, too bad. That potential embarrassment coupled with her unwavering knowledge that I will do it has become the most powerful motivator of all. That, and the fact that a fruit and yogurt parfait or scrambled egg pita pocket is waiting for her, has made this school year start off right.

Even though it means that I am up at the buttcrack of dawn (actually slightly before), and I don't want to talk to a soul, and I am exhausted by 10p..... I watch Tabbi and Mark sit down to breakfast and see that their days are starting out right. No fighting. No yelling. Just a healthy breakfast, father/daughter bonding time... and out the door to start their day. It may not be Wheaties... but it is the breakfast of champions in my book.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Life at 6:00am

Anyone who has ever met me before, or shared a zip code with me before 8am, knows that I am not a morning person. At my last job, I was late so many times that my boss finally changed my hours from 8a-5p to 9a-6p. I got in around 9:30. Ish. However, I am trying to turn over a new leaf. I have decided to get up before the rooster at my house and be the one getting/keeping Tabbi moving in the morning and making a healthy breakfast for her and Mark. However, my new leaf... sucks.

Thanks to that freaking leaf, my day started today at 6:00am, and I learned a few things that had I slept in til my usual 8am time, I wouldn't have known. I will share them with you.

1. Mark talks in the morning. He wants to actually carry on some sort of a conversation. Even when you tell him to stop talking, he'll still feel the need to tell you "goodbye." Does he not realize that "goodbye" still counts as talking?

2. Recipes that say they bake for 20 minutes just might be lying. And when they are lying and they bake for 35 minutes and it isn't even done in time for Tabbi to eat it, thus making my awakedness at 6am fully pointless......... there is nothing you can do about it. I hate those recipes. I hope those recipes burn in hell... or my oven... which is basically the same thing.

3. Pretty much everything that takes place is my fault. Actually, only the negative things. It is my fault that Tabbi's black bra is showing through her orange shirt and that the bus was coming and there is no time to fix it. I never should have flown to Asia and told the sweatshop children to make the bras that color. Then, I never should have held a gun to the Kohl's buyer's head to make her carry that orange t-shirt in their stock. Then, I should have never threatened to beat Tabbi until she agreed to wear said bra and shirt together, laughing maniacally as I saw that the bra would show through. And finally, I never should have hijacked her school bus and forced it to arrive at the time that I previously forced the school planners to assign. I've been busy, all thanks to my secret plot to ruin Tabbi's wardrobe.

So, in conclusion, I have learned that making Mark deal with Tabbi in the morning, and letting them dine on processed frozen waffles might just be worth the extra sleep that I would get and quite possibly, would keep me from taking over the world with my evil dark bra plans. So, in other words... screw you, leaf.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pour In Equal Parts and Blend

I was sitting in Meet the Teacher Night last night, paying rapt attention to every word Will's new teachers was saying (aka, staring blankly around the room) and I noticed a group of three crowded around one desk. There was clearly an awkwardness to the two women, and the man in the middle seemed to want to be anywhere but there. I thought the dynamic odd until I realized what it was: Mother... Father.... Stepmother. It was a blended family, like my own, and a realization hit me.... no matter how easy it is to throw fruit into the Cuisinart and come out with a smoothie... it is never that easy to throw in kids and come out smoothly.

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless and blameless, has been married much longer than me, however her family just hit the blender last year. Kids' ages and numbers are different than my situation, but what was a happy and functioning family is currently a work in progress.... even though the adults and kids have been a semi-blended family for 14 years. It becomes a whole different thing when the blending takes place all in one home. The love is there, like it always was, but parenting styles and behaviors come to light and sometimes are not what was expected. It's a process... and like processed foods, sometimes it just isn't good for you! Other times, like a Costco hot dog, it tastes delicious. (I must be hungry today, since apparently all I can use are food metaphors.)

Another friend (who would have thought I had so many friends???) is dating a man with children and asked me how our blended family works so well. After I was done laughing hysterically at the thought of ours working well, I finally had the answer.... and that is (as cheesy as this sounds), equality. Our house functions (if you consider 50/50 functioning) because each part is equal in my eyes. Tabbi may think I am hard on her, but the reality is that I am because I treat her like my own kid. And, as the boys get older, I think she is seeing that more and more. I have high(ish) demands for my children, and to lower them for her because I am not her mother is not going to happen. She's in the mix, whether she likes it or not.

Likewise, I demand the equality from others. I have said to people all along that when it comes to my friends and family (even my extended family far away), I would never tolerate anyone treating her as if she is not my own. There would be a serious problem if anyone ever treated the boys better than her, and the lucky part is that I am blessed to have such an awesome family that is has never ever been an issue. My family embraced her as one of us from day one, and so our family is always much more a smoothie than a parfait. We are one, even if it came from different parts.

But, the reality (aside from Food Network) is that blending was never easy, and I can't state here that it ever was. It wasn't seamless bringing Tabbi into our home full time, and no one should expect it to be. The only advice I can give (not that I am qualified to give any) is that all children deserve to be loved equally.... and if you can't do that... best to stay out of the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Kindergartener

Once upon a time there was a boy named Will. He was born many years ago, right after Taylor Hicks won American Idol. (Doesn't everyone know where they were at that fateful moment?) He started out a disgruntled child, crying a colicky wail from 5p to 11p every night for 5 months. Then, the day before his parents decided to leave him in the woods to be raised by wolves, he became a joy. And a joy he's been ever since. And one day... (today, in fact) this joyful boy started a new adventure. One we call Kindergarten.

The last time an adventure like this started, I wrote a letter to his preschool teacher (via this blog, of course), asking that she protect my precious boy in that scary but exciting time. And then, a letter to Will about how his life was about to change. Today, we start again.... and in typical me fashion... I have more to say.

Dear Ms. A,

There's something that you ought to know about Will..... and that is that he is big. And, I don't just mean in size. Yes, he is the largest kid in your class, has the loudest voice, and will trample those four blue bean bag chairs a million times with those ginormous feet.... but when I say he is big, I mean everything he does is big. He loves big, and in 15 seconds or so, you will be welcomed into that big heart of his just like his two beloved teachers from preschool and you will stay there forever. He plays big, his excitement is big (as you undoubtedly have already witnessed this morning) and his enthusiasm is big. The downside though, is that he feels big, too. Things are going to hurt Will's feelings in a big way, and when he can't do something perfectly, he is going to feel like a failure big, too. So you have a sensitive giant on your hands, Ms. A. Handle with care. But, I am pretty sure Big Willy C is worth it.

To My Will,

You are the bravest boy I have ever known. There is no hesitation to go to a new school, board a giant new school bus for the first time, and meet new people. You have a zest for life that most people could only dream of. You are so unafraid and ready to go, and I pray that never changes. You have so much to do in your life, and today is just step one. I could write more, but I think someone else already said it best. In that book we love at bedtime, Dr. Seuss says everything I want to say. "Congratulations! Today is your day! You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!" Stay great! Move mountains! And remember not to leave me too far behind!


Friday, July 29, 2011

The Day the Reading Died

My brother just posted a news article today about a high school in Missouri that is banning a couple books. The request came from a moral standpoint, but the principal has stated they are being banned because they are not "age appropriate." That is interesting, because both my brother and I were assigned one of the books in high school. Maybe our school was just more mature than this one.

I feel bad for the students of that high school, but I feel worse because I feel like this is another symptom of an ever larger problem. And that is.... the death of the book in America. Mom and Pop book stores were consumed by the big box book sellers, and now even they are a dying breed. Rest in peace, Borders, for you have already succumbed. Now, the argument may be made that the e-book is the cause, but I don't think so. I think it may contribute, because I love me my Nook and my ability to have a new book magi-ppear in an instant, but that isn't the problem. The problem is... the readers of the world are getting old and dying, and our children, our younger generations aren't being taught the love of reading.

Children these days (yes, I sound 80 years old) are not reading. They are not being read to. Their parents are blackberrying, Angry Birding (Hello, my name is Lynn and I was an addict until I beat all the levels), and DVRing Cake Boss (Hello, my name is Lynn and I've never seen this, so I am sorry if it really is worth watching). We used to have fewer options for activities than kids do now. We recorded a few things on our plastic VHS tapes, but if we missed Who's the Boss?, we missed it. We couldn't record that, plus Family Ties, Dallas, and Full House so that the second we got home we could park ourselves in front of the boob tube for the rest of the night. We had our Commodore 64 set up to play Pac Man and Avoid the Noid, but we didn't have hand held rectangles where you could instantly download an app any time of day to avoid boredom. We got bored. We had a swimming pool in the backyard, and we still got bored... and speaking for myself, when I was bored, I read.

I see kids all the time, mine included, with an iPod touch permanently glued to her palm and her library book collecting dust, untouched. We are raising a generation that believes, "gtg, ttyl" is good writing, and their imaginations are as unused as a card catalog.... and yet we ban books that speak to people for fear that they aren't age appropriate?

Tabbi read The Hunger Games series, three long books, in a couple weeks because it spoke to her. She put her phone and her iPod down and she read. She talked about it with passion and excitement in a way that she had never spoken about a book before. Now I realize that it isn't being banned, but still... if a random teenage boy could have that reaction to Slaughterhouse Five (like my high school guy friends did), isn't that reason enough to keep it around? It made them turn off the Xbox and discuss literature, and if that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is.

We are raising a generation of cyber humans. Kids who play cyber guitar, not real ones. Kids who would rather use iPod apps than their imaginations, and we as adults aren't helping. We are letting them, and we are stripping away the books that could one day make them actually want to unplug. Right now, I can say that my little boys love reading, but I can also say that we own no Xbox, Wii, or Nintendos (do those exist anymore?). And, we don't, because I fear the future if we did. I fear for the day my boys crawl onto the couch with a controller, instead of up on my lap with Cat in the Hat, and I fear that on that day I will let them play so that I can watch my DVRed Celebrity Rehab in peace. I get why this is happening, but I also get the tragedy it is causing, as well. Books are dying.... and our kids' imaginations and minds will go right along with them. Rest in peace....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Fairy Tale

I watched the replay of the USA/Brazil World Cup soccer game that was played on Sunday and I was inspired. Obviously, USA won... so that helps, but it was more than that. This was more than a game, or at least it should be. This was magical.
There are sports movies galore that try to capture the spirit of what these women did for real on Sunday. Well, I should say that there are men's sports movies that depict heroes... titans taking the field of battle. There are women's sports movies about... uh... ice skaters. Truly, I can think of maybe two movies (A League of Their Own and Million Dollar Baby) where the women were more than just sparkly... they were heroes. As I watched the game, I realized that I was witnessing an inspirational moment that movies would kill to recreate. The dirty, sweaty, scrappy women that came back after terrible calls and one player down to win against a formidable opponent. They didn't quit. They didn't cry. They fought, they dug deep, they fell and got back up and made plays so beautiful they made dancing look clumsy.

The game is over, and the moment passed... but tomorrow Team USA advances to play France in the world's most respected sport. Watch it. Make your young girls see this for what it is... this is the stuff real fairy tales are made of. No sitting around waiting for a prince... these women made their fairytale ending by themselves... and attention should be paid.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Out of the Guns of Babes

A tragedy happened in my area last week. An 11 year old boy shot and killed his 6 year old brother while they were home alone. Debates are raging as to whether or not this 11 year old should be tried as an adult, and whether he should have been released from custody to attend his brother's funeral yesterday. It is interesting to read the interwebs and look at the discussions people are having, because one thing is eerily absent.... the same thing that was absent the day this young boy died... the parents.

Hold on... let me climb up onto my soap box. Ahhh... that's better.

I consider the questions I posed last paragraph to be easy ones. 1. Absolutely do not charge this child as an adult. While the crime he committed was very mature... he is not. And, I am sickened by the thought of what this child would endure in a male adult prison facility. I've been in them. It's not pretty. 2. The child should have been allowed to attend the funeral, unless it brought great discomfort to the immediate family. This was not a premeditated act of evil (ahem Casey Anthony), it was a child with a loaded weapon acting on impulse. Punish - yes. Punish in accordance with the goal being the best possible future - absolutely. But here's the thing I still fail to comprehend... if our prosecutor is considering charging the child as an adult for Murder 1... what are the parents going to get?

Man, the view is great from up here....

When you are an adult, you can choose to have a gun for safety, sport, serial killing... whatever. Actually, I don't endorse the third one... but wait... I don't endorse any of them! But in any case, it is your choice. When you have a child in your home, though, that choice ought be to rethought and rethought one hundred times over, picturing every possible scenario that leads to a gun being put in an 11 year old boy's hands. Where was the gun safe (oxymoron)? Did the 11 year old know how to open it, therefore defeating the purpose of having one or did the family just think they could stick it in their underwear drawer and hope for the best? Was it locked? Was it loaded? Was this boy ever taught that death is forever and guns aren't toys? Did the parents ever give it one second of thought before they left a deadly weapon within reach of children? Did they ever consider that between target practice and duck hunting, that maybe they should make sure the gun disappeared when not in use? Would they let the kids throw lit matches at gasoline? Did they juggle steak knives? Were they allowed to hold each other underwater until they stopped kicking? Probably not... but by God they'd let that gun be available at any time.

There are a million things in this world that could take our children from us, and the bulk of them are completely out of our control. Tornadoes, drunk drivers, cancer.... they are all out of our hands. But, guns.... you are potentially putting those in the hands of your children every time you bring them into your homes. And I am left wondering, not about trying the boy as an adult or letting him attend the funeral... I am wondering for the parents who lost one boy forever and another is on his way... was it worth it? Was the idea of safety or sport worth the lives of both of your sons? And for all of the opinionated masses sitting at home with guns either un- or under- secured... is it worth the lives of your children? I bet not.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What a Difference 730 Days Make....

Two years ago, my family and I spent the 4th of July weekend in Kansas City with my brother. You may remember reading the post, or hearing my retelling 400 times, but the visit was not without incident. At Deanna Rose Farmstead (a lovely place to visit, to which I will never return), Will fell off the dock into the fishing pond, and scarred me for life. However, I am proud to say that my return this weekend showed me just how much we've both grown.

This 4th of July, we went back to Kansas City and did all the things there is to do in that fantastic town. Science was done in Science City, dinosaurs were built and watched at T-Rex, and despite my frequent panic attacks, my family attended RiverFest.

Now, I realize that a normal person only fears the great unwashed when attending a fest like this one, but I am far from normal (insert joke here). Instead, I am afraid. I am terrified of Will going anywhere near scary water. My definition of scary water is... any dark, murky water with any sort of current that could sweep my son away to a watery death. So, pools... no problem. There isn't a swimming pool around (except maybe the one in Massachusetts where the lady drowned and the water was so cloudy her body bloated on the bottom for three days before anyone found her) that I can't get my boys out of. I am a strong swimmer and am confident that I can rescue them out of a clear pool, but what about a river? An ocean? A lake where they sink to the depths that we can't dive down to? That thought has kept me up nights when things like cruises, or RiverFests are mentioned in my presence. And this fest was no different.

The drive out to the river made me physically sick. I had barely slept the night before for all the images of my boys falling into the swift current and being swept away. I was nauseous, my heart pounding, my mind racing with panic. But, we went. I repeated 100 times to my family that the boys couldn't go near the river and forced the boys to hold someones hand when they walked through the fest even though the riverbank was 40 feet away. But, I went. I can't say I enjoyed the fest, as I was completely consumed with the single thought of "KEEP THEM AWAY" replaying on a constant loop in my brain... but, I went.

As I sit here, back at home today, and reflect on the weekend... I realize that Will and I have both come a long way since that trip to the bottom of the fishing pond at Deanna Rose Farmstead. He can now paddle along in a deep end (with adult supervision) and has turned into quite the water baby. No fear of water developed for him. And I can now walk along a river walk with my boys and even though I am not yet calm, I can be there. I went. A fear that came into being in Kansas City two years ago, was met in Kansas City again this year, and while I am sure it will stay with me forever... it may have gotten just a little bit smaller this weekend. And that, for me, is a bigger feat than even Will's giant, dynamite cannonball jump.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meet The Kiddos

There are moms out there who see their children through rose colored glasses. Their child can be at the playground kicking another child and the mom will see nothing but spirited play as opposed to bad behavior. I don't do that. I see my kids for what they are. Nothing better, nothing worse. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for other people, even those whose titles would imply unconditional love. But, since their glasses are apparently poo colored, I thought I would take a moment to introduce them to my kids.

First, let me introduce you to Tabbi. She's the oldest, and while she didn't spring forth from my loins (and at times pushes me to declare no association with her whatsoever), she lives in my home and is treated like my daughter. She is a tween going on 18 and her teenage angst leaves little to be desired. She's moody, sullen at times, and difficult. She wants to be a teenager, dress like one and act like one... and when you say no, she isn't always cooperative. But, here's the secret that even I don't realize sometimes... She is also a really good kid. The scope of her misbehavior is so small in comparison to what it could be, that sometimes I sit back and say "did we really just have that fight about skinny jeans and tight tops?" She is a straight A student, has been for two years now, and she tests off the charts on standardized testing. She is bright, creative, and while she would like the world to think that her little brothers make her crazy... when she thinks no one is looking, she holds Will's hand as they walk to the pond outside my parents' house. And when you least expect it, she offers to help you clean the house (and doesn't even ask to be paid). She is fighting her way through the pubescent nightmare that is a 12 year old girl, and while sometimes it seems otherwise... she is coming out the other side a beautiful young woman, inside and out.

Will is the next in line, and though he is the middle child in our small Brady Bunch, he is not to be missed. He is loud and he is active. He wants nothing more than to be the center of attention (unless it is a school music program... then he wants no part of it), and he has never met a stranger in his life. He wants to be BFFs with the world, and play trucks and run around from sun up to sun down. He is lively, active, maybe even a little wild at times... goofy and nutty and sometimes you just wish he would sit down and couch potato it, just for a few minutes. To sum it up, he's exhausting. But, when you walk through the door (be it me, Uncle Mike, Grandma or a friend of mine he hasn't seen in awhile), you will be met with such excitement that even the worst days can be completely turned around. He is the boy who goes out of his way to befriend a child who is left out of play, even when he sees that the other kids aren't giving him or her the time of day. He will run around in circles, and then pause to crawl in your lap and snuggle so deep into you it's like he never wants to stand up... and then its off to the races again. He's smart, he loves books, and the only thing in the world that he wants (besides trucks) is for you to return the love that he will give to you unconditionally.

And lastly, there's Jack. Jack is a tough one, because most of the time I describe him as evil. He is the child that will see you perching on the edge of your seat, and he'll walk up and push you off. He is stubborn and delights in rough housing, the harder the better, and laughs when someone gets hurt. He will walk up to you and scream "hit hit hit" while punching your leg as hard as he can. And then, he will crawl up into your lap and hug you with the same gusto and squeal loud and clear that he loves you. He is almost 3, and all snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, but at the same time he'll get your attention, smile big and say, "YOU!" like you are the light of his entire life. He is a scruffy, scrappy giant of a boy with so much more to say than his speech delay will let him. He's a scary one, because you never know if it is going to be a body slam or a hug when his arms encircle you, but either way you know that it is with the utmost love and affection... even when it's the body slam.

So, these are my three children that some people think are vile. Tabbi can be quiet and moody, most likely pouting while the boys are shouting. The younger ones run in restaurants and you practically have to pry the iPod out of Tabbi's clenched fist. But, they're mine. And, I love them. And, their family (those who matter most) loves them. And, guess what? We do that unconditionally. Like our titles say we should.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Losing Faith

Despite what most people assume when they meet me, I am a person of great faith and hidden optimism. There are rarely situations where I sit back and assume the worst. Be it the person that I didn't support winning an election or a vote going a way that I didn't prefer, I usually just assume that everything will work itself out. I am believer that our politicians do (for the most part) have this country's best interest at heart, and while I support my opinions with gusto... even if I lose, I assume that everything will be alright in the end. But, after a week of political movement in my home state of Indiana, I am faced with the feeling that maybe all my faith and optimism were misguided. Maybe it's not really ever going to be OK.

I don't know if politics are changing or if I am just paying attention for the first time, but I am left confused and for the first time, really nervous about where we are going. First, our town offered a referendum raising property taxes an almost negligible amount in order to fund the community school corporation after the government slashed their budget. Alternatives to the tax money is firing teachers therefore increasing class size, cutting programs decreasing exposure to our children and God knows what else. I supported the tax hike. I support our schools. I support my kids. I support my property values, which increase with the quality of the school district. And I was in the minority. A tiny minority.

Now, I am not naive. I get that the schools could manage money better, and I demand that they do so. But, money management cannot make up the difference alone. And now I sit back and I fear what is to come. I question whether or not Will is going to have art, music and PE and if Tabbi will keep her straight As if she isn't in a class with a teacher and a teacher aide that give her a lot of attention. Will she be swallowed up in a 45 kid classroom with one teacher? What's next for our education system and why oh why is that not one of the most critical concerns of our citizens, local or federal government? Our kids are free falling compared to other countries and yet we've slashed the money and turned our backs hoping that our overworked, underpaid teachers can somehow maintain their standards. How can they? 65% or more of this town just basically told them that it sucks to be them, and good luck with nothing... and yet we say, "but you still better make my kid a genius." Head's up, people... you don't get it both ways.

Then yesterday, my state's governor made national news by slashing funding yet again. This time to Planned Parenthood, an organization whose purpose is to provide health screenings, prenatal care, and birth control options to the disenfranchised. The federal government decided not to make good on their threats, so our local guy decided to step in and take care of the evil beast that is free medical screenings and education. I realize that they also do the A word, but this isn't about that. I can admit that I am not pro-A word, but I can also admit that it isn't my place to decide whether or not you are. But, I can also open my eyes and ears and see that the money Governor Mitch "Hates Women" Daniels just cut doesn't go toward those anyway. So, like them or not, they aren't a part of this conversation.

He cut the money that goes to the 16 year old girl who thinks that she may have an STD and is too afraid to tell her parents or go to her family doctor. But, thanks to Mitch, she can just suffer and spread it. It goes to the 22 year old young woman with a drug problem, whose mother is already raising one grandchild because she knows enough to see that she can't. So the woman's one responsible act is when she goes every month to Planned Parenthood for birth control shots. Thanks to Mitch, she can just get pregnant over and over again. It goes to the 36 year old woman having horrible cramps and no health insurance, and her free pap smear just showed that it's cancer. Thanks to Mitch, it can go undetected and she can die. And, it goes to the teenage couple with the raging hormones, who know all about abstinence but are contemplating having sex, and they need to know their options when it comes to the realities of life... that right or wrong, they probably are not going to wait until they are married and therefore need to be effectively educated on disease and pregnancy prevention. But, thanks to Mitch, they are left without any education, and open to unwanted pregnancy and even worse, HIV or AIDS.

I sit here and no longer feel assured that everything is going to be OK. Our country has real problems, and my state and town are no different. It is going to take real solutions to fix it, not sticking our head in the sand and hoping that schools just somehow find a way to get funded, and underprivileged women miraculously avoid getting diseases. I feel like our heads have been in the sand long enough, and maybe.... just maybe... it's time to face some problems head on and actually find an answer. Maybe it's time to inspire a little faith in our government again. Maybe it really is time for a change...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Keeping Up With the Joneses

I have an admission to make... I don't keep up with the Joneses. I don't keep up with the Smiths or the Farouks either. In fact, I pretty much keep up with no one, and you know what? I think that's OK.

Here's one of my many dirty little secrets. I don't have a smart phone. I have a phone that is red, makes and receives calls and even sends and receives texts. It doesn't do a whole lot more than that. Well, I guess it takes pictures.... but it doesn't send them anywhere, and it sure doesn't take quality shots that make me look like Heidi Klum, so what's the point? And, I have no apps at all. I can't buy movie tickets at the press of a button or GPS my way out of downtown if I get lost. I can only make a phone call. And you know what? That suits me just fine.

Here's another secret... I don't have an iPod either. Not an iPod Touch, Nano or even skittle (or whatever those little ones are called). The closest thing to an iPad that I have is a pad of paper. It's mine, therefore it's my iPad. I don't laptop, I don't gadget and I don't want to. I am typing on my desktop with my actual paper calendar with actual ink on it behind me. And you know what? I manage to survive in my slightly better than Amish lifestyle.

Despite my lack of techy prowess (or desire), I am confronted on a near daily basis about people's fancy stuff. They got the new iPhone Whatchamacallit that actually vacuums floors while doing your taxes. Not only that, they upgraded to a million inch flat screen 3D TV that shows movies while they are being filmed. No more waiting for it to hit the theaters. The picture's so good, you can see the pimples on Julia's face! Huzzah!!! And thanks to the advanced 3D technology, you can reach right out and pop it! They just bought the new quatro hydra minivan that runs on hamster farts and is the hottest thing in automobiles and don't get me started on the house buying, yard keeping nonsense. I grow dandelions. Hundreds of them. Beat that!

It has become ingrained in our culture that not only should we throw all our pennies at any material thing we want, but we must do so in such a way that it is flaunted at all of our neighbors and friends. It is not enough to own the iPhone with the dishwasher app, but we must present it at the next PTO meeting so that all the mothers with dish pan hands may drool over it. Luckily, there's an app to wipe off the drool smears or we might start to question this practice.

So, be aware all you Joneses and Smiths and Farouks out there, and all you owners of techy stuff and bigger and better things than I have..... I am a Lynn. No one has to worry about keeping up with me, and believe me... I've got better things to do than worry about keeping up with you. After all... there's no app in the world that will keep up with these children I've got, and until there is... I'm not buying.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Former Hippy

My name is Lynn, and I used to be a hippy. There. I said it. True story and I earned the street cred to back it up. I was heavily involved with Amnesty International in college, even serving as the Co-President of the Kansas State University chapter for a year. I earned many a callus from writing anti-death penalty appeals to virtually every lawmaker in the country. But, I learned something last night as President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was killed.... I'm not that hippy girl anymore.

I am not proud of my change of attitude, but I am willing to admit it is true. Other people, my wise and better hearted brother for one, immediately pointed out that if you believe in the sanctity of life, then no death should be celebrated. I wholeheartedly agree, but yet in my heart... I celebrate. Mark Twain once said, "I've never wished a man dead, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." And, I will admit it.... that's how I feel. Not proud, but honest....

I read about man on the east coast whose son was brutally murdered in the 70s. The killer is set to be released from prison soon, and the father went on a national morning show and announced that he will kill that murderer if he sees him on the street. Not a threat.... a promise. And, I have to say... though I am not proud of it, I sided with that dad. I could have those same feelings if someone came near my babies. I am not right... but I would feel justified.

In any case, while I am not glad for the death of this human being, I think his death can promote some healing for this country. Ten years ago, this country suffered a great tragedy and I pray that this man's death will allow for some of that pain to subside. And if it does.... this evil man deserved it. He had it coming. And I'm not sad.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

TRONK!!!! (Or Why It Is Better To Sleep In Separate Rooms)

So, I have a really hard time falling asleep. It's been an issue since my freshman year of college, and has never improved. I think part of the current problem is the laundry list of TV shows cluttering up my DVR that calls to me after the kids go to bed.... and the other problem is that well.... I just can't sleep. So, last night was a landmark occasion because I actually started to drift off almost immediately.

I turned off 90210 (yes, I admit to watching that horrible train wreck of a tween show. I can pretend that it's so I can stay in touch with Tabbi's generation, but really... I just plain love it). Immediately, I was in that comfy place where your whole body just relaxes and my eyelids got heavy and I was just about asleep when suddenly this horrible noise startled me to full alert.


What the hell? I sat up in bed, and looked around trying to figure out what the hell that noise was. Mark didn't wake up, so I started to wonder if I was dreaming. I settled back in and drifted off again after awhile only to be met with the sound again.


Holy crap! What is that freaking sound? I sit up in bed, waiting. Waiting for that horrible noise to happen again. Waiting.... waiting... waiting.... TRONK!!!! Tronk! Tronk! Rapidly more tronks come until I look over at my peacefully slumbering husband and realize that he is tronking in his sleep. He is literally sound asleep saying "TRONK!" over and over.

Being the loving wife that I am, I let him continue sleeping (for about 1 millisecond) and then I smacked his arm and said, "Why are you saying clonk?" He replies sleepily but matter of factly, "I wasn't saying clonk, I was saying tronk because that is the sound that the heavy things make when I put them on the ground." Duh.

After my hysterical laughter subsided, I immediately began house hunting for a 5 bedroom home. TRONK!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Assley Furniture

I rarely use my power (translation.... blog) to solve my battles and in truth, only one other company has felt the wrath of the Cyber Lynn. But today... today, I think I have the right to go a little cyber pissed on none other than Ashley Furniture. Before I go on, I will admit that I have never worked in retail sales, and I certainly recognize that it can be a difficult job. However, I also expect the term "customer service" to actually result in servicing the customer, and when that doesn't happen.... the world ought to know.

I ordered a bedroom set from Ashley Furniture on January 30th. I went into the store looking to replace some shady nightstands and fell in love with.... Naomi. She had rich mahogany(esque) wood finish, a leather upholstered inset on the headboard and knobs so silver you could practically see yourself in them. At that point, there was no stopping at nightstands (with velvet lined drawers). Instead I bought the whole set. I counted the days til it arrived, and on February 24th (Tabbi's birthday, but I got the present) it was installed.

I loved Naomi even more in my house than I did in the store.... until six days later when she let me down at 3am. Literally. Down. As in the side rail of the bed collapsed. Six. Days. Later. Fast forward through a bunch of crap and finally, FINALLY, the new side rail arrived and the Ashley installation crew came out. I only had to wait a month and 3 days (yeah... how's that for quick service), for Naomi to be back in action. She was a little scarred from the fall and the month and three days living in a pile (thanks for that, Ashley repair guy), but I still loved her. I sat down with care, rolled over with hesitation. Then after a night or two, I became confident that she really was everything I wanted her to be.

Until April 19th. WHEN SHE FREAKING BROKE AGAIN!!! This time Naomi crumbled under the weight of my two year old. He stepped onto the side rail (the NEW ONE) to climb into the bed, and instead it gave way. Again the bed was on the floor, only this time, it was a miracle that Jack didn't fall underneath it. This time, instead of the head of the bed collapsing, it was where the foot board meets the side rail, leaving me to ponder.... is this furniture just crap... or are the installers not the sharpest tools in the shed???

Unfortunately, Ashley Furniture doesn't seem to care about finding out the answer. Through my numerous calls to the call center and one trip to the local store, they care much more about the almighty dollar than the fact that my son (MY TWO YEAR OLD SON) could have been injured. "Just order another Naomi bed," the call center genius said, as if she just couldn't quite grasp that no parent in their right mind would take another chance at injuring their kid. I explained that while Russian roulette with a bed seemed like a lovely idea, I think I'd pass. I explained that I would like a new bed, but unfortunately there was only one in that entire store that matched the dresser, mirror and two nightstands that came in the Naomi set. And it was $300 more. But, the poor, disenfranchised, giant national chain store apparently can't afford to give me the extra $300 for the bed, because clearly Mr. and Mrs. Ashley would have to go without their caviar and champagne for dinner tonight if they did that. Instead, their crackerjack customer disservice team thinks that I should either replace my deathtrap with a new deathrap (because that worked so well last time), or go in and find another set of equal or lesser value. Really, Ashley? If this bed can't last a month, do you really think I want cheaper version? And if I did like a set of equal or lesser value...wouldn't I have bought that the first time?

In any case, I've been doing a lot of research on this company and apparently poor customer service is what they are known for. What an honorable reputation. It's just too bad that I had waited to do the research until it was too late. I just hope for my friends and readers out there, that this may help them in their hunt for furniture in the future. Just say no to Ashley Furniture, where you get more pain than pleasure.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Curse

Blogging is meant to be cathartic. When something is bothering me, be it trivial like my saggy boobs or political or a current event... I sit down at my computer and tap out my thoughts and suddenly things don't seem so... serious, emotional, scary. Whatever is keeping me up at night then just fades away... even when the problems aren't solved. Just speaking to the masses about my issues makes me feel better. But sometimes, like tonight, as I sit here at 1:31am and type away... blogging can be a curse.

It's a curse because I know that I could pound out my frustration on this keyboard. I could work out the angst like a 1950s housewife tenderizing meat. I could "out" the people that caused it and I could shell out a thousand word essay on why I think what I think and what they can do about it and then head upstairs to peacefully go to sleep. I could do that, because I have a blog. But, I can't. I can't because some things are too close to blog about.

I can't really talk about everything on blogs, because blogs can't be taken back. I can't address people in my real life and say hey, you're an idiot and here's why. Instead, I lay in my bed and compose a post that I can't post and my mental version never has the same desired result. I want to calmly explain to the cause of my mental strife via a computer screen and then show them the way to right the wrongs. But, I can't. I can't and that is why my blog tonight is a curse. Because, I know I could use it eliminate my frustrations and sleep like a baby in about 3 minutes when I spell check and click post. But, I can't. So right now this thing that I so often am thankful for... tonight it is a curse.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Navy Men

Some people are just better than others. I really believe this. My grandpa was one of them. He died almost 6 years ago, and in the 26 years that I knew him and the stories I have heard about him since, it has solidified my opinion that he fell into that category. He did so much for other people, he lived joyfully and meaningfully. He was better.

As my cousin trains to be a Navy rescue swimmer, putting his life on the line to save others, I have come to the realization that not only does he look like my Grandpa.... but he might be one of those "better" people, too.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wanted: Sister Wives

I talked to my friend Laura the Famous the other day and she is suffering from the age old dilemma of the "working mom." When she is at work, providing the administrative side of her family's chiropractic office, she is overwhelmed by the multitude of things that she needs to do at home. At home, the office work haunts her. So, being the fantastic friend that I am, I suggested the most obvious solution... a Sister Wife. Duh. All Laura needs is someone at home doing the home stuff. Men don't seem to have this guilty pull toward housework and duh... that is because they have wives. So, the answer to a woman's dilemma is the same. Get a wife.

Then it occurred to me. Why don't I take my own genius advice? Polygamy is the way to go, because I too could benefit from a wife or two. In fact, I have even gone so far as to pick out the old balls and chains. (I haven't discussed it with Mark yet, so if my future wives are reading this.... it isn't an official offer yet.)

First, I would like to add Antonia from Top Chef Allstars to my marriage. I don't know her, but she is a single mom so she would probably like some help with the daily grind, too. And, no more cooking meals for me! I am pretty sure my husband and my children will welcome her, and her delicious dinners with open arms.

Then, I think I would need some help with all the kids. I have three, Antonia has one.... clearly we are going to need some maternal help around here. So, I am thinking Mother Goose would be an excellent addition. Antonia can cook, Mother Goose can raise the kids.... life is getting better by the second.

Last, I realize that adding three people (and a goose) to our already maxed out household is going to put a strain on Mark's paycheck, not to mention the fact that we will need a much larger house. So, I would need to add Oprah Winfrey as my last sister wife. That way, she can pay for the stuff we need, and really... who would oppose to her keeping Stedman (and by Stedman, I really mean her secret lover Gail) on the side? At least with the marriage and kids, she would finally have some street cred when she does her "how to make a marriage stronger" and "how to raise children the right way" episodes of her show.

I know plural marriages are looked down upon in our society, but women just need to expand their horizons and think this through. Imagine sleeping alone three out of four nights! Imagine full control of the remote and no football (or Project Runway, in my case) cluttering up the DVR! Imagine not having to fake headaches all the time because you are sharing that duty with three other people! Imagine having a cook and childcare in house for FREE! In the immortal words of Charlie Sheen, I call this idea "WINNING!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Jack

I am reading the new Jodi Picoult book called Sing You Home, and the main character suffers from major infertility issues. Right at the beginning, she loses a baby at 27 weeks. Or, as the character says, she doesn't lose it, she knows right where it is. It just isn't alive anymore. I read the book, and for some odd reason, it made me cry. It seems silly to say that it is an odd reason because lots of people will probably tear up, as the description Ms. Picoult uses is an emotional free fall, but I don't cry. Ever. But, this made me cry because I cried for Jack.

I've never lost a baby, but my pregnancy with Jack was rough. I almost lost him twice, and I hovered on the brink of losing him for most of my pregnancy. It didn't occur to me at the time, but now as I read this mother's story, that I never really dealt with anything that was happening. Because I didn't cry then, I cried the day I read those pages. Not for the character, but for my baby boy that could have been, and odds were that he was going to be, exactly like the baby boy in the story.

At 12 weeks, I went to my OB for an appointment where I would hear my baby's heartbeat. I laid on the table not thinking about anything except my exposed nether regions when the doctor put the mic on my belly. There were the usual swish swoosh sounds that come from her moving it across my abdomen, but not the thump thump thump of a baby's heart. I watched Dr. A's face as her brow furrowed, only to suddenly hear the strongest thump thump thumps I'd ever heard. I smiled. She looked at me and said, "you hear your own heart right now." It took me a minute to realize she wasn't speaking metaphorically. She moved the mic more and the only heart beating was mine. Pounding louder and faster with every swipe that resulted in silence. As her face grew more serious, I felt like my heartbeat was slowed down to a near stop. There was a blur of words after that, possibilities that maybe my placenta was in the way, or if the baby wasn't.... whatever the word she used didn't register, maybe viable is the way she put it... they do a D&C at the hospital and.... more words that didn't register. I went home that night, told my family and friends, and didn't shed a tear.

The next day I went in for an ultrasound to "confirm the heartbeat." Apparently that is a better way to put it than to say it's to see if the baby is alive or dead. My mom came and when the tech put the picture up on the monitor, I looked at my mom. I didn't look at the screen. The tip of my mom's nose turns red when she starts to cry and I saw her blink a tear back. Only then did I look at the screen and see the blob that was my baby. Still. No flutter from where his heartbeat should be. I don't remember if my mom spoke or if it was me, but words of... there is no movement... came from someone in that room. The tech smiled and said, "That's a still photograph." She pressed a button and Jack suddenly fluttered to life. He was fine.

At 27 weeks, the same time as the character of this story, I suffered unexplainable bleeding. I had just gotten dressed, stood up after putting on my socks, and suddenly I felt a gush where gushes shouldn't be. I was diagnosed with placenta previa/rupture. Initially there was talk of delivering the baby, but at 27 weeks the likelihood of his survival was slim. So, talk turned to what it would take to keep him (by then we knew it was a him) inside as long as possible. At one point in the triage suite of the Women's Hospital the OB took my hand and said, "Are you ok?" I teared up at the moment, and then blinked them back and just said that I was fine. After 24 hours I was sent home with a prescription for bed rest and the knowledge that if my placenta tore the rest of the way, my baby would be dead before we reached a hospital. Good luck.

During both of these incidents (the latter lasting until I delivered Jack at exactly 39 weeks during a scheduled and beautifully uneventful c-section), I didn't cry. I regurgitated what my doctor told me to my husband, my parents, my friends... each time building a stronger attitude of "God's will" mixed with "it is what it is." I didn't cry. It's not that I couldn't be emotional, because I have a support system that rivals any in the world.... but instead I was the strong one for people that needed strength, the positive one for people who were negative, and the unemotional for those that were emotional. I sugar coated the odds for Mark, who tends to panic. I smiled for friends that looked on with concern. And I steadied myself for the worst, without really letting myself even think about it. I put all my efforts into presenting a strong front, so that then I wouldn't have to feel anything at all. And in the end, I didn't have to. In my happy ending, my Jack was fine. So, I read Sing You Home, and read of a woman whose baby boy didn't come home in her arms, and I cried. For the first time I felt what I really wasn't strong enough to let myself feel in those moments... and I cried.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Thoughts on God's Plan

There is a Facebook status circulating these days that basically blames New Yorkers, Haitians and now the Japanese people for the disasters that devastated their homes. Apparently the terrorist attack on September 11th, the Haitian earthquake and now this earthquake and tsunami that has killed thousands in Japan are all to punish these people for their sins. Even supposedly intelligent society commentators like Glenn Beck (and yes, I emphasize the word supposedly when I call him intelligent) are getting in on the "God did this because he hates you" bandwagon. Granted, Glenn was smart enough to say that he wasn't saying this, but "he's not not saying it either". But, that cover his ass crap doesn't really mean anything. So, little Glenny and the Facebookers feeling the need to kick a country while they are down, let me just say, your theory is as crapped out as Glenn's grammar.

I am not a religious person. I pray every night with the kids, and I am baptized Catholic... but I didn't even go to church this Christmas so I can't even call myself the "C&E" Catholic that I used to be. My son attends a Christian preschool, and I often plan on attending that same location's church services but my selfish need to sleep in on Sundays always wins out. I've never been to a seminary and I am not expert on the Bible. In fact, I often have to call my brother when Will tells me Bible stories because I need an interpreter to understand why Will thinks we are going to put people in our fiery, fiery furnace. But, I believe in God. I believe in a higher power (yes, Lori, I do, too). And I believe that he doesn't strike thousands dead just to teach us a lesson.

I believe that people like Glenn Beck fuel the fire of hatred to promote themselves and their TV or radio shows. I believe that like the Westboro Baptist Church's rants on homosexuality, Beck's message (a.k.a. load of bull) is hate speech taking advantage of our country's emphasis on free speech. I believe that if anyone is sinning and will feel God's wrath, it is him and others like him that take advantage of the gift of a voice and an audience for the purpose of making others feel small. I believe that God is indeed listening, and I believe that Glenn Beck and his ilk just make God sad.

I believe that the people on Facebook who spread this message are scared. I believe that the idea that a natural disaster can strike anywhere and wipe out a population is a nightmare beyond belief and it is comforting to think that these people somehow had it coming. It is easier to think that it happened to them because of their religion, because then it isn't going to happen to you. But it could. Disasters happen around the globe and to demean the devastation by acting like the people had it coming is disgusting. And, where does it stop? Does that mean the babies killed in the Oklahoma City bombing had it coming, too? What about the elderly people or the 9 year old girl murdered by a mad man in Arizona? Were they sinners, too? How about the nursing home destroyed in a Midwest tornado? Did those elderly people sin and therefore God smited (smote?) them?

Could it be that while this may be God's plan, it is not a punishment for sins? And, is it possible that maybe we just can't understand why the bad things happen to these people, and instead of coming up with justifications, we are just supposed to put our faith in the fact that God's plan is too complex for us to understand. And maybe we should spend a little effort trying to rebuild and comfort those in pain rather than inflicting a second round of terror by saying, "oh yeah, about your dead family... you deserved it." Just maybe instead of promoting God by saying he's punishing those affected, just maybe we could honor him by loving our fellow man... kinda like the way the Bible tells us to. Just a thought.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan Relief

I just saw on the Yahoo page that there is a link to donate money to help Japan recover from the horrific earthquake and tsunami that has killed roughly 10,000 people. Do you know how much they have earned? Roughly $564,562 as of my writing this. Now, at first glance, I thought wow... that is a lot. Then I started thinking. How many of us click on the Yahoo page every day? My guess is millions. And that is all we could come up with?

I was thinking about the money I spent this weekend, so far. I helped throw a shower for my friend and spent about $20 on fresh flowers to add to our already maxed out decor. I know Mark and the boys had McDonalds for lunch while I was at the shower, then we ate out for dinner, too, so that had to be about $50 on food. He gassed up my car for $66. He gassed up his car, probably for around $40. We are going shopping today for new kitchen chairs. I have no clue how much they are going to cost, but I am sure we'll end up picking up lunch, and maybe some other decor for our house, too. So, we're talking a decent amount at the home store we're going to run to. I didn't set out to do these things, they were/are whims. I feel like doing this today. I am blessed to be able to do these things and not give them much thought. But, I saw the Yahoo tally and thought..... maybe I should spend some money elsewhere, too.

I'm not going to lie and pretend like I am Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey. My amount for charity won't go too far. It won't rebuild Japan, that's for sure. But, it will help. And I want to help. I'll take a cue from my 4 year old who asked if we could go to Lowe's and buy wood, paint, cement and bricks and send it to Japan to rebuild their homes. If my 4 year old knows that we should spend some money to help others.... so should I. And really, after seeing the photos.... how could we not?

Japan is miles away from where I live. But, this woman is every woman. She is any woman whose entire life was just washed away in seconds. It is our job, not as Americans, but as people who share this planet to pass up our McDonalds lunch today and send those people the 15 bucks we would have spent. It's our job as the blessed people sitting in our homes with our families and our possessions to help those that have nothing. To help please click here for a list of credible charities where you can make a difference.