Monday, November 10, 2014

Pal-e- Oh, My Gosh, No!

I've been trying to eat healthier lately. As any mom knows: it's a challenge to find healthy foods to suit the entire family. Actually, successful meal plans are a challenge on any given day. I'm pretty sure kids conspire to see who can get Mommy's eye twitching when they complain about the food. It could be donuts, but one of them will whine and push the plate away in disgust because that's the agreed-upon rule.

My quest has been somewhat successful. I'm eating healthier and losing weight. My kids are... well, they're losing weight too. Mainly because they pretend to be full when they see the dinner that's in front of them. "Uh, I ate earlier. That banana really filled me up. But, it looks uh... great mom. I'm just not hungry." And then I find them eating their third bowl of cereal an hour later.

I've been focusing on a diet low in carbs and high in protein. For me at least. I'll have my chicken with vegetables and the boys get additional pasta or bread with their meal. Inevitably one boy complains because he "hates chicken" and swears I'm torturing him because he's a vegetarian (even though he devours In-N-Out burgers). The other boy complains because I put something green on his plate. The horror! It's like Kryptonite - it weakens him until he's slumped over in defeat, slowly dissecting each green bean pod to smash the individual beans before gagging them down.

I turned to Pinterest to find new recipes to torture them... I mean, to find amazing new food creations to tantalize my sweet sons' palates. Thankfully, each post has a picture so I can quickly judge the time from presentation to rejection. "Nope, too many weird colors. That one has a brown sauce that will make him cry." Some experiments have met with mild success, meaning that only half of our family hated it. I keep trying, going back to the drawing board - or pinning board as the case may be.

When you start looking for Paleo recipes or anything low-carb you stumble into a world of food substitutions. Vegetables masquerade as grains in any number of ways. I have to say that I enjoyed cauliflower "fried rice" and even cauliflower "pizza dough". Both were a bit different, but not horrible. (That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but it's hard to compare cauliflower to a good doughy pizza crust). Instead of traditional flour there are a million other "flours" that qualify as Paleo. Coconut, almond, tapioca. All of which require a special trip to the store. You don't just have this stuff sitting around in your pantry when you decide to start a low-carb diet. It becomes a hunt. Does the regular grocery store carry this stuff, and where is it? I lucked out and found a wall of bins filled with various flours, millets, seeds, and other mystery materials I've never used before. I had to Google whether I could use Coconut oil in place of Palm oil because I don't even know what this stuff is but it's supposedly good for me and I must have it for my no-carb muffins. Don't even try to figure out what "ghee" is.

I'm becoming better acquainted with some of the Paleo ingredients and tricks to cut the carbs. But some substitutions surprise - and scare - me. I found a post for a "meat bagel". Seriously. It's a bagel-shaped ground beef creation. People! That's a burger with a hole in the middle. Just because you sliced it in half and stuck lettuce in the middle it's not magically a "bagel"! No one is fooled by food masquerading as something else. Even turkey-shaped tofu knows it's not real turkey just because it donned a disguise. Broccoli "breadsticks" would never stand a chance with my kids. "Chia" and "chocolate" should not be used in the same sentence. And just because a recipe has the word "cake" in the title does not mean it should be in the same category as an actual sugar-rich, flour-heavy creation. Raw avocado vanilla cheesecake anyone? Um... No.

I believe we've come full circle and are back to the strange food combinations that some people tried to pass off as "creative hostess dishes" last century. Have you seen the Vintage Recipe pictures that feature meats, veggies, and gelatin in ever-stranger configurations?

Why did anyone think this was a good idea? And why do most of the jello salads feature olive-eyes that stare straight into my soul? I guess next time my kids are complaining about a meal I will just pull out a few old-time recipes and see what they think. I bet they'd eat their meat bagel and be happy about it.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

When Moms Have Free Time, Look Out!

I've been waiting for this day since my kids were born: the day that I can finally do the things I like to do. For me. Without guilt.

It's been a long time coming. When my boys were babies people gave the typical advice to sleep when the baby sleeps, yada, yada, yada... Seriously, who do they think is going to do the dishes and laundry when I'm sleeping all day? I quickly figured out that you get as much done as possible when the little ones are snoozing. No other way around it. Yes you're exhausted and irritable - but hey, welcome to Motherhood! Get used to it.

This year marks the first time that both of my boys are able to ride to school on their own. You know what that means? When I close the garage door at 8:05 I AM FREE!!! No schlepping grumpy kids to school, or fighting for a parking space with other harried, caffeine-deprived moms. If nobody sees my face on campus they can't talk me into another volunteer position. Ladies and gentlemen, I am on my own for the next seven hours (so long as my husband is not home, getting in the way of my newfound freedom)!

So what's a girl to do with all this free time? Well, herein lies my problem. I have lots of ideas for projects and I can find a million more ideas online. Pinterest is like the devil on my shoulder whispering, "Sure, you can do that! Try it! Go for it! Who wouldn't want a life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex made out of wine corks???" My dad was an artistic, crafty kind of guy with lots of project ideas as well. When we cleaned out his house we found countless bags from Michael's with random supplies that were never opened or put to use. Who needs 6,000 rolls of wire ribbon? Beads, wreath supplies, styrofoam birds... I have no idea what he thought he'd make with all of this, but he's passed on the mentality that you can create something extraordinary in your time off.

So I signed up for a painting class!

I've promised myself that I will work out more.

That novel I'm writing is finally getting more words on the pages. When people ask me how it's going I can reply "It's coming along, thanks!" instead of screaming "I'm still on page 103 just like 3 months ago goddammit!"

I've been meaning to paint our coffee table and side tables in the living room, so that's on my to-do list.

I will definitely recover that ugly recliner that we "inherited" from my mother-in-law. I can't get rid of the thing because it's comfy and all the testosterone-people in my house insist it's the best thing ever. They don't care that it looks like a reject from Sanford and Son's junkyard. So I just need to get some hip fabric, sew a custom cover, staple it in place, and then screw the wooden arms (freshly painted to match the tables of course) back in place. Should be done sometime soon, I'm sure.

I decided that since I've been enjoying the painting thing I should create custom paintings of peoples' pets for them as an additional source of income. (Before my novel gets published and lands on the New York Times Bestseller List, giving me millions of dollars just like all other debut novels). I should get a few examples done before the school's holiday boutique so I can show my work and rack in the orders. Orders that would need to be filled right around the holidays. No stress there.

You know what I don't like to do on my time off? Grocery shopping. Cleaning. Cooking. I'm pretty sure that my kids won't appreciate the fancy "new" furniture if there's no food in the house. In fact, they might find me snoozing face-first in crusted acrylic paints.

I'm thinking that all of this free time has destroyed my sanity. As a mom I can't just slip into selfish-mode without some residual guilt that I'm not doing enough for my kids. I should probably go to school and see if they need me for yard duty today. Maybe I can shelve some library books.

On second thought, I think I'll go take one of those naps I neglected early on.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back-to-School Shopping Hell

Here's the dream version of how it would go down:

I take both smiling, happy boys to a few stores. They pick out stylish new clothes and shoes, try them on willingly, and then we go to the register where everything is on sale. We leave the store with bags in hand and cash in wallet and they return home to clean their rooms and get ready for the next school year to begin.

Ha! Yeah, right. Obviously, that would never happen. No school kid is this excited.
Image courtesy of photostock at

I wasn't prepared for the full rebellion. I would absolutely love it if someone took me shopping every year for a new wardrobe. No complaints here. But I'm not a teen or pre-teen boy, obviously. I had to endure eye-rolls, giant sighs, and whining. (I forgot to mention that my husband came with us.)

My older son didn't mind having new clothes thrust upon him, he just didn't want to actively choose them. He couldn't believe I'd ask him to walk around some racks and pick out things he liked. What a terrible mom I am. And then, when I told him to go try stuff on? You'd think I was putting him in a torture chamber instead of a dressing room!

"Why do I have to try these on? Medium looks like it fits fine."
"I'm not buying this unless you try it on. What if it's too small?"
"Fine, then just get the large. If it doesn't fit me now I'll wait until it does."

Um, how will that give you clothes to wear for school? You'll just wait until November to attend class when your clothes might fit you? Come on! 

He did get excited about some items. He wants all of the tee shirts with rude, sarcastic sayings or questionable images. I'm not paying for that kind of first impression. Teachers don't need a shirt to tell them you're sarcastic and snotty.

My younger son was somewhat easier. He doesn't mind shopping or trying on clothes. It's his fashion sense that concerns me. If I'd let him, he'd wear super-tight skinny jeans with neon compression shirts. I'm glad he's not self-conscious, but nobody wants to see that much physical detail if you know what I mean. And yet, you can't quite look away either.

When we'd found some acceptable shirts and shorts we headed to the shoe department. My older son tells me, "I didn't wear socks." Sure enough, he had his flip-flops on and his toenail talons on display for the world. The disposable stockings the store offers were no help. They barely covered half of his foot, and he wasn't going to be slipping into heels anytime soon. So, he surreptitiously tried on a few pairs in his bare feet - I know, gross! But listen, I was ready to get the hell out of there and I knew I'd never be able to drag him back to a store before next year, so no judging!  

We slumped out, defeated, with large bags of mostly-overpriced clothes that they may or may not even wear. You'll probably see my kids in exercise shorts and tiny shirts all year. Because even though we've had all summer to clean out the closets it hasn't quite happened yet. Heck, we might even find new clothes from last year when we finally get around to hanging stuff up.

It's the ritual of the back-to-school shopping that's important. It'll leave my kids with nightmares for the rest of the year. And I wouldn't know how to start a new school year without a headache and a hangover from all the "therapy" I need to make it through.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

School's (Almost) Out For Summer!

Are you one of those parents who is counting down the last few days of school before summer?  Or do you dread the prospect of having your kids home with you for the next few months?  Either way, you gotta make it through the last few days of school before the kids are free!

We are just barely making it to the finish line.  Backpacks are bulging at reinforced seams with textbooks that need to be returned to school.  We tried to reattach my son's lunchbag handle with staples. That didn't quite work.  My kids are lucky they even get a lunch at this point.  I don't want to add more money to their lunch cards, yet I can't face the thought of braving the supermarket for another batch of healthy school snacks.  I'm getting creative with whatever is in the pantry.  Bread crumbs?  Could I send those as a snack?  Probably not.  What about brown sugar?  Still no?

I expect that they'll live in swim trunks and flip flops most of the summer, so I don't have to worry about buying new clothes.  But they have clearly outgrown most of their normal clothing.  Can I pass those basketball shorts off as running shorts?  I hear midriff-baring shirts are back in... but not for boys you say?  Thank goodness they can soon live like savages.

So I have compiled an End-of-the-Schoolyear BINGO game for you!  You can use whatever you'd like as markers.  The broken nubs of crayons that return home with your child.  The petrified remains of raisins that you find at the bottom of the backpack.  Bottlecaps from the beers you open to cope... Whatever works for you!

Enjoy the last bit of school!  Or, have a drink instead!  I'm sure you've earned it.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Epic Parenting Fails: Nailed It!

Anyone who has ever tried to be a good parent feels like this at some point:

I have ruined my child forever and have surely sentenced them to a lifetime of therapy.

Personally, I don't know too many people who are in therapy thanks to their own parents.  And I have to believe that the older generation felt they were failing us too.  Guilt goes hand-in-hand with parenting.  Because there's no manual.  No flow chart to tell you exactly what to do in each situation.  A friend who went to a parenting class and came away with a wealth of knowledge admitted that when she found herself in a challenging situation, all of the proper responses vanished and she was reduced to yelling.  Haven't we all been there?

Sorry, I don't have any advice for you fellow parents.  You're in the wrong place if that's what you're looking for.  What I do have are funny examples of my own parenting fails.  Stories that my boys can print out for future therapy appointments.

  • I used to do my boys' laundry routinely until they started signing up to wash their own clothes for money. We call it an "optional chore" but really it's just bribery.  I know it.  Anyway, I've fallen out of the habit of collecting dirty clothes; but they don't always sign up to tackle the stinky underwear either.  Recently, laundry piled up and Logan admitted that he's been re-wearing his stiff, stinky, graying socks all week because nobody would provide him with clean clothes.  Picture him begging, like Oliver, with a smudged face - or feet rather: "Please mummy, I want some clean garments."
  • Everyone likes to sleep in on the weekends, right?  It's nearly impossible when you are a parent because your kids wake up before you, demanding food and activities.  Or, if it's still quiet when you get up you know that they are up to no good and they're most likely hanging from the exposed wiring of the highest light fixture.  I lucked out and enjoyed a few blissful late-mornings (after 8 seems late when you have a toddler).  My boys were out of their rooms, playing together, the pets were still alive, and the mess seemed minimal.  I'd sigh with relief and head to the coffee maker.  About a year ago Zack informed me, "You know how we used to wake up earlier than you guys sometimes?  Well, if we were hungry I would get us some dry dog food and we'd eat that."  Wow.  My neglect had turned them into hobos in their own house.  I guess I should be happy that my oldest shared the kibbles with his younger brother.
  • My husband and I had a date night planned but couldn't find a sitter for the evening.  (Settle down, we didn't leave our little ones unsupervised.)  We researched a child care drop-off site online and convinced our boys it would be fun.  They were too young to stay home alone, but probably too old for this place.  But the online pictures showed some video games, an air hockey table, and movies to keep them occupied for the next few hours.  Turns out the pictures were of their other location - the one with the fun stuff.  This one had a miniature bouncy house, a dress-up corner, and drooly youngsters playing with old blocks.  Eh, they'd be fine.  We paid extra for the "dinner option" and found out later they were each given 2 bagel bites.  And maybe some water.  By the way, while they were trapped, we enjoyed multiple rounds of tasty tapas and mojitos.  My boys still won't let us forget it.
  • I dragged my kids with me to an outdoor wine fest one weekend.  My friends were there, and had been "tasting" wine for the past two days.  I told my boys that there was a kids' area with bounce houses and tasty treats - which there was.  The problem was, I got there at 4:30 on a Sunday evening and the event finished at 6, so by the time we were finally headed that way the bouncy houses were mounds of whooshing, deflating plastic.  And my empty promises were the only things full of hot air.  Someone in my party bought the boys a snow cone (it wasn't even me, making up for the letdown).  We all walked to a friend's condo where my boys begged to go swimming.  I let them go in the pool with their shorts on (seeing as we had not brought swimsuits).  As it grew later I realized we still had to walk a ways to the car and drive home - remember, it was Sunday and they had school the next day.  I gathered my soggy boys and we set off on the trail that I was sure would eventually lead to my car.  It didn't quite go in the right direction and as the sun was setting and we turned around to retrace our steps one of them moaned, "I sure hope we don't get eaten by a mountain lion!"  I couldn't even tell them that their fear was unfounded because there truly are mountain lions in that area.
Well, kids, I think that is enough of storytime.  You get the message.  Don't call Child Protective Services.  My boys are well-fed, mostly clean, generally looked-after kids.  

My point is, sometimes you forget to make dinner, you call the kids by the pets' names, swear in front of them, forget things they need for school that they've asked you for a million times.  We've all yelled some inane thing in the midst of frustration, and threatened to take away their whole room or drop the kids off on the moon.  You know, the usual.  Kids go through phases and we learn along the way.  We create our own user manuals and sometimes they need rewrites and extensive editing. Just don't beat yourself up too much.  

Sometimes you can look back and laugh... and occasionally your kids will even join you in that moment.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

They Told Me This Would Happen

I am sitting in a state of shock.  I'm not quite sure how this happened so suddenly.

As of today I have a teenager.


Everyone told me as I held a tiny baby, "Make sure you enjoy every day.  Take lots of pictures because he will be grown up before you know it."  I nodded politely thinking that I had plenty of time.  Of course I would remember all of the important milestones.  They were etched in my brain.  No need to run to the baby book to write things down - how would I ever possibly forget this stuff?

I mean, his first tooth came in right before... well, it was some holiday or other.  (Counting on fingers, trying to guess what month it might have been).  OK, so maybe the exact date is a little bit fuzzy. But certainly I'll remember every detail of his childhood likes and dislikes.  Right?  Oh, why didn't I take more videos so I could hear his little voice and see his diaper waddle and the sweet way he would pat the dog with his sticky, pudgy hands?

But I cherish the memories I have.  And many make me laugh - now.  Maybe not when I was sleep deprived.

He used to throw his bottle or plate when he was done eating.  Sometimes over the rail to the sunken living room couch below.  On more than one occasion he knocked warmed baby food meat off of his highchair to splatter all over the kitchen (gag). But man, did that kid love Lil' Smokies.  We could not feed him enough tiny weiners (OK, that doesn't sound right, but you know what I meant).

We used to go to the park frequently and the Ice Cream truck would inevitably show up, with its tinny music blaring from the speakers.  Kids would run to the parking lot for frozen goodness, but we kept my son in the dark for a while.  He had no idea what the van was all about and we were thrilled with his lack of knowledge.  He just liked the songs.  He would joyfully announce, "Music truck!" when he'd hear it, only... he had a problem saying "music" so it came out "Mucous truck!"  Not quite what you want to think of before shelling out money for a giant astro pop.  And then we'd distract him when the kids came back to the playground slurping their melty Spongebobs-on-a-stick.

He loved the "cozy car" at preschool.  You know, the tiny plastic push vehicle - predecessor of today's Smart cars?  He played in that thing as long as you would let him, but being that there was only one, you'd have to pry his body out of it so other preschoolers could have a turn.  I'm not sure he learned very much that year at the play-based school other than "sharing sucks" and "how to make revving engine sounds".  He hated any tactile activities that got his hands gooey.  No finger painting or shaving cream fun for this boy.  It's ironic then that he wouldn't use a fork until he was about 4 years old.  He shoveled handfuls of pasta (and lil' smokies, remember) into his mouth with glee - and just try to wipe his hands or face.  Yeah, right.

He loved Teletubbies - so help me.  And, though I hate to admit it, we took him to see Barney and the Wiggles live.  Oh, the things you endure for your children.  Thankfully he moved on to the Justice League and was infatuated with Transformers for a while.  I've watched Disney movies and all the Star Wars movies countless times with him (even the godawful episodes I-III).  Now he watches some of the "classic" 80s movies with me that I watched when I was his age and I love to hear his heartfelt, unrestrained laugh when something tickles his funny bone like it did mine.

He loves music and reading and sometimes I like to spy on him when he's in his own world and doesn't know I'm looking.   I think, "I made this beautiful creature".

He recorded his phone's voicemail greeting two years ago before it deepened into a man's voice.  Although I know he's going to need to change it soon, I love to call just to hear what he used to sound like.    But you can't keep them little forever.  I feel proud of the person he is today, so I guess I can pat myself on the back and take credit for some of it.  Who cares when baby teeth erupted if you have a mature, caring, self-assured individual at the end of the day.

Of course, I'm just starting this teenager journey so I may have a different take on it soon.

Happy Birthday to the boy who will always be my little baby.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The New Cast of Disney Characters

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls...

Welcome to Disneyland - the self-proclaimed "Happiest Place on Earth"! Yeah... I don't necessarily agree with that description.  I mean, it's fun and entertaining and all but what would Walt think about the current state of the park and its visitors?  Having just spent a "vacation" there, I noticed an interesting shift in the traditional park-goers.

Meet the New Cast of Disney Characters!

  • The Gropers - These couples are so in love they can't stop gazing into each other's eyes. God forbid they lose physical contact, or they might wither away and die.  We had the pleasure of standing in line behind The Gropers for an hour while they kept rubbing up against each other.  My son (who abhors any kind of kissing) pulled his hood over his face to block out the offensive show of emotion.  Come on people!  It's Disneyland for Christ's sake! Please notice that none of the gift shops sell Mickey-themed condoms. 
  • The Oblivious -  Apparently the Magic Kingdom distracts reasonable people and they can no longer focus on their surroundings. They've been Disney-fied.  They don't notice their kid staring like a psychopath for 10 minutes before viciously hitting me with a custom-made lightsaber.  Or their other kids swinging from rope dividers that were never meant to be used as a pre-ride form of entertainment.  Those sweet little maniacs constantly bump people on either side before the post gives way, sending them on a quick ride to the hard cement.  Oh, that's too bad.  The Oblivious are the ones who walk against the traffic flow, stop suddenly in the middle of a walkway, and try to step in line right before a ride, not realizing that said line stretches through 2 different lands and you've been waiting half a day to get where you are.
  • The Heavy Rollers - We have become the society pictured in Wall-E.  Half of the patrons are too fat to walk around Disneyland nowadays and must drive themselves in their giant Jazzy Wheelchairs, bumping against everyone who has the nerve to walk anywhere near them.  One obese man was gesturing with his corn dog in one hand, holding cotton candy in the other, and steering with his belly.  
  • The Loaded Stroller Rollers - I'm not sure if kids ever ride in the strollers or if these are just traveling lockers.  They are loaded down with gear as if they're heading to the Iditarod Trail. Better strap in that 5-gallon bucket of popcorn!  I hate strollers.  I used them, sure, but they were the bane of my existence when I had little kids.  Now that I have independent walkers, I loathe them.  Damn ankle biters!  They take up too much room, clog the walkways, and roll out of control when The Oblivious are in charge.  And don't even get me started on the double-wides!  Who brings those to an amusement park?!?!  They should be banned.  Wouldn't it be great if Disneyland had a "No Stroller Day"?  I might pay extra for that.
This is Dante's 7th Circle of Hell
photo: "Stroller Parking" - Joe Shlabotnik
  • The Time Travelers - These people must have been frozen in Carbonite and recently released.  Where do they come from?  Wearing fanny packs and talking on walkie-talkies. Seriously?  Not an annoyance, just an interesting anomaly.
  • The Anti-fashionistas - Any time you have large crowds you have some great people-watching opportunities and the various fashions are always amusing.  Unfortunately for me this spring marks the reemergence of "Daisy Dukes".  First of all, let me just say that only about 5% of the general population can get away with wearing these short shorts.  Roughly 80% of the females at the park were wearing these, so you know the odds were not good that they looked cute.  Holy Thigh Rub Batman!  I was chafing just walking near them.  And sadly, some things cannot be unseen.  Even with bleach to the eyeballs.
  • The Freaky Fanatics - I have never seen so many people sporting Mickey and Minnie ears of all types and styles as I did on this trip.  Headbands, baseball caps, big fuzzy hats, you name it.  Then you have the people with pins to trade!  What?   Lanyards and vests adorned with things that can potentially poke the hell out of you on roller coasters: best idea ever!  There's all the adult freaks who want to hang out with costumed characters while impatient little ones wait in the blazing sun for an overpriced autograph.  But here's where it goes completely wrong: adults with Disney-themed tattoos.  I've seen the full-back Tinkerbell masterpiece, but there's a lady with multiple piercings and the castle tattooed on her foot.  Or how about the guy with Mickey's silhouette on his neck.  Did Mickey make you his bitch in jail?  I clearly don't get it.  
I have a whole new appreciation for the cast members who have to endure all of these characters.  They work tirelessly to make the park a clean, beautiful, enjoyable place.  While we were waiting for fireworks I sat on the Main Street road.  Not one speck of gum, dirt, or garbage to be found.  Seriously, I think it's cleaner than my own kitchen counters.  I might need my own personal cast member.  

I should also make a recording that plays as my kids leave the house.  It's always good to have a safety reminder!

Para su seguridad mantenga sus manos, brazos, 
pies y piernas dentro del vehiculo
 y cuiden a sus ninos por favor. 

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Rain, Rain, Go Away... Or Don't!

California has been hurting for rain.  Talk of this year's drought abounds, water districts are about to institute mandatory rationing, and local news stations report potential rain showers as if it was the second coming of Jesus:

Countdown to Rain! 2 days!

Well, here we are in the middle of a very needed Storm System! And I've realized that I have a love/hate relationship with rain.  I never much cared about it before but all the hoopla has me thinking about the effects of each Pineapple Express! on my life.

I've tried to be objective by listing the pros and cons of this latest deluge.

  • The earth needs this rain.  Plants, crops/ farmers, reservoirs, animals - all breathe a sigh of relief.  Our lawns can go from dead brown to muddy crabgrass.  Whew!
  • A downpour is the perfect excuse to be lazy.  The size of puddles in my yard are directly proportional to my lack of initiative.
  • It cleans everything off.  Your yard looks fresh and clean again.  Even those cushions on the outdoor furniture.  Yep, they are absolutely soaked because I forgot to bring them in and will probably grow mold soon.  (This is quickly turning into a 'con'.)
  • You can take a shower just before the kids come home.  If they accuse you of being lazy all day you can say your hair is merely wet because you went running in the rain.  Sure.  They'd believe that!
  • I love to curl up inside with a book and listen to the sound of rain outside.  So cozy.  Add a nice crackling fire and I might never leave my couch.

Cons:  Let me just say, I have dogs.  Dogs + Rain = Major Suckage.

  • Wet dog smell - enough said.
  • Muddy dog prints on my floor and carpet.
  • The annoying sound of dogs whining and whimpering to go out in the rain so they can pee, or get a drink of water, or bark at the neighbors, or stare up into the cloudy sky.  Who knows why dogs always want to go out when they're in or come in when they're out.  Oh my God, just choose already!!!
  • Some dogs don't actually want to go out in the rain.  They leave indoor puddles for me to clean up.  Awesome.
  • My older son and his friends can't reasonably ride their bikes to school, so my friends and I need to plan and text and review schedules to come up with daily carpool plans.  I tend to be on pickup at the end of the day.  I believe I mentioned wet dog smell earlier. 
  • My kids have chosen sports that do not get cancelled in the event of rain.  I get to sit under a big old umbrella cheering on lacrosse and rugby players, faking enthusiasm while checking my watch, counting down the minutes until I'm on my couch again.
  • I don't want to venture out into the rain to run errands.  Therefore, we run out of food in the house and my kids are left eating cereal for dinner.  Or we have to order pizza and Chinese food delivery. (This one is actually turning into a 'pro').
  • Driving to work late at night when everyone else is sleeping is bad enough.  Doing it while hydroplaning on the freeway is exponentially worse.

Well, look at that.  It appears that my list has more cons than pros.  I must not like the rain.  But wait, it just dawned on me that


Bring on the RAIN!!! 
Stay dry my friends.  

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thanks Anyway

Parents are always trying to teach their children how to behave appropriately and not like a pack of wild animals.  We explain the rules of society and hope that respectful interactions will follow.  Nobody has a baby and says to themselves, "I sure hope he's a real jerk someday!" (I said "jerk" instead of another word, but you all know those people and have more colorful terms for them, right?)

Last month my younger son had a few friends join him for a birthday party.  I bought Thank You cards for him to send, but not until a week or two after the event.  So we were already behind in the etiquette timeframe, but what the hey?  He sat down after a little prodding and wrote out each card, sealed it shut, and addressed it.  Actually he didn't quite address it.  He wrote his friend's name on each one at the very top of the envelope, most likely screwing up the automated postal service sorter and delaying mail deliveries to all of the people in our area.  Sorry 'bout that.

The cards sat on our counter for another week because we were out of stamps.  Yep, even the Christmas Santa Claus ones had been used up.  Finally, days later, the food-stained envelopes hit the road and were delivered to children who had probably forgotten what it was they'd given for a gift in the first place.

So, that is that, right?  All finished, everyone's happy, and we are on to the next event.  Except... my son has a sense of humor very similar to mine.  So you know that can get us all into a bit of trouble.  I've already written about how sarcasm genes are passed down through the generations and I can see that my younger son will follow in the footsteps of my ancestors.

I got a text from my friend regarding the note that was sent to her twins.  She sent me a picture of the card because her family was laughing at the content.  In his desire to be funny, or just honest, my son may have been offensive as well.  Here's what it said:

Dear Jacob,
Thank you for the chemistry set, I have made poisons and different explosions.
I know you couldn't blow up the school because I think that (is) illegal.
Dear Katy,
Thank you for the gift and it was fun to have you at the party.
I know Jacob probably thought most about the gift but thanks for the effort.

Obviously, the comment about blowing up the school is a concern, but he clearly knows he'd get in trouble for that, and being the "square" that he is, I immediately forgot about that part.  But, the "thanks for the effort" comment????  Oh.  My.  What a jerk (this is where another descriptive word could be used)!  My eyes rolled to the heavens and I sighed that familiar put-upon-Mom-sigh and massaged my temples.

I asked my son if he thought that line might have offended a friend.  He looked perplexed but agreed it maybe sounded rude.  

So what do you do when your child says something funny but inappropriate?  We've all had those moments where you hide your laughter because you don't want to encourage your child when they inadvertently say something hysterical.  The snort-cough, the hand over the mouth, leaving the room... you know.  My friend told me that she recently had to employ these tactics when her son explained that "homosexual" meant you "stayed home alone with your parents".  Ohhh-kay.  Huh.  I was not aware.

Maybe some of it is a boy-thing, or just a thank-you-card thing, I don't know.  Logan's friend sent a similar one last year that said "Thank you for the lacrosse head and the gift card to the lacrosse store, even though the amount isn't enough to pay for a new stick".  Yep, we are all so grateful!!!

Last night we had him write a new card just for Katy, apologizing if he'd hurt her feelings.  I think it says something like, "I didn't know what I was writing, so sorry!  See you soon!"  Eh, it's a start.  At this rate, he can offend all his friends and then he will be living alone with his parents when he's older.  

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Monday, January 6, 2014

I'm Never Gonna Stop The Rain By Complaining

Raindrops keep falling on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turning red
Crying's not for me! 

Sometimes, as a writer, you wait for inspiration to come knocking.  And then other times, inspiration comes splashing down all around you... if you're willing to laugh at what can be a frustrating and annoying situation, that is.

Earlier today I heard a strange hissing noise in the garage.  It seemed to be coming from the area around the water heater.  Upon close inspection I didn't see anything leaking, I didn't smell gas fumes, and it didn't seem to be getting any worse so I did what any sensible mom would do when her kids are at school and the house is empty.  I called to alert my husband and then I went to my friend's house to play Just Dance.  (You mean, that's not what responsible adult people do on a regular basis???)  It turned out that a pipe above the water heater had sprung a tiny leak and was spraying a small stream of water out like a cute little fairy shower.  My husband shut off the water to the damaged pipe, made the trek to Home Depot, and eventually began to fix stuff .

Of course, as always happens when things go wrong, it was at an inopportune time.  I made dinner and sat down with the boys, thinking that my husband would be done soon enough.  We eventually finished our food and moved on to singing "Yes, we have no bananas".  (Huh, that  seems even weirder when you write it down.)  We then heard sawing sounds coming from the garage.  That can't mean anything good, right?  Do you think we investigated?  Nope.

My husband came in and began a detailed explanation of the steps he'd taken to fix everything.  I think he was just coming to the part about sawing copper pipes when we all stopped what we were doing and looked around.  My son asked, "What is that noise?" at the same moment I said, "That sounds bad".  We opened the door into the garage to see Niagara Falls cascading all around.  Water was shooting up from the water heater, splashing angrily against the sheetrock ceiling, and then spraying over half of our two-car garage.  My husband yelled some kind of half-swear word, slammed the door shut, and then opened it again when he realized one of us would have to brave the monsoon in order to make the water stop.  As he ducked out into the downpour, my boys and I looked at each other and immediately burst out laughing.  Not a supportive thing to do, but knowing I couldn't go out and help while still snickering, I waited for the giggles to subside.

Here's the thing: this is not our first - or even second - foray into "Flooding Your Garage" territory.  This is at least our third time drenching our own belongings, and yet we still have not taken proper precautions to prevent damage should it happen again.  Maybe this time we will raise our stuff up off of the floor?  Um, I'll see if I get to that after some more dancing.

The first time we flooded our garage, it was due to a small rag blocking the bottom of the basin where laundry water is meant to drain.  We bought an industrial fan to dry out everything and then put our crap back where it was.  The second time, we inadvertently set bricks across our side walkway, creating an effective berm which directed water right under the door into the garage during a major rainstorm.  It sucks walking out into your garage and seeing an unexpected lake.  We again set up the fan and dried everything out.  And put it... yes, right back.  I guess some kind of raised shelf or pallet really would have come in handy after those experiences.

So my point is:  pick your junk up off the garage floor if you don't want it ruined!  And laugh at your own ridiculous circumstances!  What else are you gonna do?  (Pssst... just don't let your soaking wet husband hear you!)

Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complaining
Because I'm free
Nothing's worrying me

(You're singing it now, aren't you?)

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