Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Should NEVER Happen

Tuesday morning, one of the boy's scout leaders lost his 19 year old son in a car accident. Hearing the news felt like a punch in the gut. Any parent, upon hearing such a thing, can't help but to feel it. Even just imagining what they are feeling is worse than anything any parent wants to feel.

And while it's always a surprise, when it's a kid who is responsible and good and hardworking, and who wasn't drinking, it's even moreso. That's how it was when our family went through the same thing.

I met mr b's sister before I met him. She told me all about her family and showed my photos of her kids. In the week that I got to know her before I met him, she already felt like family. So when I met her kids for the first time, I immediately loved them. her daughter (Scabs - I talk about her all the time here) was the same age as me and her son, Ricky, was a few years younger. I was taken by this kid right away. He was different from any 13 year old boy I had ever met. he was polite and respectful and he actually liked spending time with his mother and family.

He was smart and funny and a hard worker. He did well in everything he did. He was an amazing hockey player - even at a young age, he was being watched by scouts. He and a friend started a band and got themselves gigs immediately. When he was 15, he knew he wanted to have a truck when he was able to drive, so he got a job. He worked and saved every penny and by the time he turned 16, he had enough to buy a beautiful truck. Unfortunately, it was a manual transmission, which he hadn't learned to drive yet. I still laugh at the memory of him calling me and asking if I could go with him and his mom to drive the truck home (since his mom & sister didn't know how, either).

We brought the truck home that night and he asked if I would take him to the zoo parking lot & teach him to drive it (they lived just up the road). After eating dinner, I was tired, it was dark, and I really didn't feel like going, but he flashed me his beautiful eyes & smile and I couldn't resist. We headed out and in a very short time, he was able to drive. I am so glad I took him that night.

He loved that truck and he was increwdibly responsible with it. He took great care of it and never asked his mom for gas money - he earned it himself. He drove safely and he ALWAYS wore his seatbelt. Until the day he didn't. he wasn't driving that day, his friend was. We'll never know why he didn't buckle up. His friend was driving fast - not crazy fast, but too fast for the curvy neighborhood road they were on - I don't think it was intentional, but a common new-driver's mistake. And when they lost control, his friend got banged around a little. but Ricky was thrown from the car. He landed in someone's front yard and that's where the beautiful light behind those beautiful eyes went out. That's when the light behind his mother's eyes went out.

I still remember the call. I was at work & my roommate called to say that my sisters-in-law had been calling all morning and that it sounded urgent. I immediately thought about mr b's aging mother - she hadn't been well. But I called sister after sister and no one was home. I finally reached one SIL's husband and I can still remember what he said word-for-word. I can still - 19 1/2 years later - "Oh man - I hate to be the one to tell you this, but there was a car accident and appretnly little Ricky was killed." I still remember the inhuman sound that came out of me. I remember falling to the ground. I don't remember going home - I know someone drove me, but I don't remember who. And worst of all, I remember having to tell mr b. He didn't want to believe it. No one did, but it was true.

The next week was a blur. It was the worst week of all of our lives. Because we never thought it could happen to us. Especially not to him. He was smart and kind and good and most of all - responsible. Just like the 19 year old who it happened to on Tuesday. He wasn't wearing his seatbelt either.

There's nothing anyone can do or say to make sense of this. All I can do is keep trying to instill the importance of wearing a seatbelt to my kids. They get sick of it. I hear "I know, Mom!" again and again. But they don't know. They don't know what it feels like for a parent to have their heart ripped from their body - to lose their will to live. But I have seen it firsthand - people I know and care about have lived it. So I keep telling my kids over and over until I'm blue in the face. I'll tell your kids, too. And another kids in earshot. Don't assume because your kid is responsible when you are around that they are always that way. Drive them crazy if you have to. Because crazy and alive is OK.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Small Town (and Big City) Magic

Growing up, we never ventured into the city (except for an occasional trip to the zoo or museum, but never downtown). We never had to – we had everything we needed in my small town. We had a large discount store (Fisher’s Big Wheel) and three department stores - one large chain (Montgomery Wards), and two smaller, independent department stores (which were part of smaller chains), which were awesome – multiple floors of stuff to buy, old fashioned elevators, and free gift wrapping. We had tons of shoe stores – one even had a wooden, pedal-driven merry-go-round you could ride while your parents shopped. We had boutiques that catered to women, and men, and kids. We had card shops, gift shops, and a record store where you could listen to 45s before buying them*.

We had a big 5 &10 (GC Murphy’s, but everyone called it the 5 & 10) that was two floors – we’d head downstairs to buy angora to wrap our boyfriends class ring and then head upstairs to eat lunch in the restaurant (best hot dogs ever). We had grocery stores and small markets in just about every corner. We had a book store, we had photo studios, and coffee shops, and jewelry stores.

We had two (TWO!) movie theaters, and another in a nearby town (in fact, our town was home to one of the first movie theatres in the country). We had our very own radio station (WESA). We had more restaurants than you can shake a stick at – everything from little places like Isaly’s, to fast food (as it was then) like Winky’s & Pickle Barrel, to nice, fancy places, to the “buffeteria” at Montgomery Wards (where my grandma worked). We had several pharmacies – back in the day when pharmacists were chemists & actually made stuff. One of them had a real, honest to goodness soda fountain where you could get vanilla cokes and chocolate malts. The parades & light-up night brought people from all over – they were that good.

But sadly, those things are all long gone – what the onset of shopping malls didn’t kill, the downfall of the steel industry finished off (or vice versa). So when I moved to the city, I was enthralled by downtown. I spent many, MANY days wandering around, shopping, eating, seeing the sights. Pittsburgh was magical to me. When I started working full time, I used to head to Kaufmann’s department store on my lunch hours, sometimes to shop, but mostly just to wander around or sit in the café & read.

So after we moved back to my small town to raise our family, I made a point of taking my kids to the city as much as possible, so they could experience that magic. And Kaufmann’s was always one of our destinations – especially at Christmas. Seeing the beautiful window displays & wandering around the Christmas floor became some of our favorite activities. This year was no exception.

But a few years ago, Kaufmann’s was taken over by Macy’s, and slowly, over time, our beautiful, local gem of a department store has turned into a huge, cookie cutter conglomerate store. Instead of 11 floors to shop in, there are 6. The candy counter is gone. The spa, and café, and some of the restaurants are gone. The Christmas floor is now the Christmas Teeny Tiny Patch of Carpet That Has Less Stuff Than The Mall Macy’s. Santa’s Workshop (where kids can Christmas shop) is still there, but it’s smaller and far less personal. And the windows! Oh man. What used to be a beautiful display, with a theme across all the glittering, sparkling, animated, breathtaking windows is now the most half-assed, cheap-looking, sad little excuse for a window display I have ever seen. I’ve seen nicer in your windows. It was a huge disappointment.

I’m happy to report, however, that while Macy’s was disappointing, downtown Pittsburgh in general was still magical. We missed out on the carriage ride (despite getting there early, they were already long sold out), but we did get to ride the trolley. Emily took advantage of the free balloon animals & face-painting**, we had a delicious lunch at Las Velas, we saw lots of decorations and lights. And best of all, my girl and I went ice skating with Santa and sang Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. All in all, it was a good day and I can’t wait to do it again.

*If you read that sentence and thought a what store? Listen to what?, then get off my lawn! Whippersnappers.

**Emily waited patiently in line, and was getting very excited to have her turn after the two sisters in front of her. And when the second sister was done, she headed to the chair, only to be told that she would have to wait a little longer, because those sisters’ mother wanted to get her face painted. Don’t get me wrong – everyone has a right to do what they want. And there is nothing wrong with an adult doing something fun and childlike now and then. But when it is being offered free to kids and there are 15-20 of those kids waiting in line, perhaps mom could find some other childlike thing to do instead of adding wait time to the excited, impatient children. Just a thought.

Facepaint (I think she sees it as a legal form of makeup):

















































Skating:


























Our beautiful city:

























Unrelated to anything above - Christmas Dog:







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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crisis of Faith, Christmas Style

I’ve been having a sort of crisis of faith for a while now. Long story short, I grew up going to church (with my aunt- my parents never went, which makes it super funny when my mom starts nagging me about taking the kids to church, claiming, “You always went to church!” and accusing me of being disrespectful to her non-churchgoing ass. Good times.) Anyway, the point is, I miss the community of church, I miss the fellowship, I miss the spirituality, and I want to find a church where I feel at home. Growing up, I had that – I made friends and performed in pageants and sang in the choir and gave the children’s sermon.

Then, when I was on my own in the city, I found a new church that was even better – welcoming and friendly and community & service oriented. But when I moved back to small town USA, I ended up back in the church I grew up in. And over the years the congregation started to wane, growing older, until no kids’ services were available anymore. No nursery or Sunday school or junior church. And suddenly, going to church with kids wasn’t easy anymore. Eventually I stopped.

And as much as I want to find a place like that again, I find it hard to get past the fact that churches are so often the least Christian places around. Haven’t seen that side of it? Try walking into a new church in a small town. And good luck finding a seat that Marjorie So and So hasn’t been sitting in for 40 years.

I hate that a place that represents all that is good and loving and welcoming is often the place we are most judged. Judged for what we are wearing or how much we give or if our kids can sit still. And instead of telling me I’m welcome in their house of worship, I find that they would rather tell me other things.

They want to tell me who to vote for.

They want to tell me what to do with my body.

They want to tell my friends they are an abomination and don’t deserve rights.

They want to tell me that science is wrong.

They want to tell me all the reasons why their way is the only way.

And the more they want to tell me what to do, the more I want to do the opposite.

Now that it is the Christmas season, it will only get worse. This is the time of year when , many people (churchgoers and not) decide to start singing their annual “Keep Christ in Christmas” jingle far and wide. And I agree – I do. Despite the fact that most of the traditions of Christmas began as pagan rituals, the point of Christmas is a Christian one – the birth of Jesus. So without Christ, you have no Christmas.

And I agree that we go overboard with political correctness, calling them Holiday trees instead of Christmas trees and the like. But that’s where my opinions and those of a lot of other folks differ. So many take it further – this is a Christian country, they say. If you don’t like it, you can leave, they cry. Pretty soon, Christianity = patriotism and anyone who doesn’t agree is a communist America-hater, terrorist sympathizer. And it’s all because Jesus isn’t allowed in the schools anymore! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

And then I – and all the people out there like me, who feel the same way – go running screaming in the other direction, away from the thing I just moments ago was longing for! I find myself arguing the opposite side of what I believe, playing devil’s advocate (Devil! One Nation UNDER GOD!), when I don’t even want to!

It’s funny how the only thing that seems to be standing between me and religion is religion.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Healthy Choice Top Chef Inspired Café Steamers











I was recently invited to try some new frozen entrées from Healthy Choice. I have eaten Healthy Choice entrees in the past and liked them, but I was especially excited to try these because Healthy Choice has partnered up with one of my favorite reality shows – Top Chef – to come up with some new and different meals that are both tasty andout! Finished! DONE! I can’t even think about taking another bite. But I hadn’t had a problem with Healthy Choice meals before (though I have tended to buy non-chicken meals in the past), so I was hopeful.

And, as it turns out, I had good reason. I’m pleased to report that the chicken in both of these meals tasted fresh, and was without even a trace of anything gag-worthy. I realize that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but I know there are other chicken-phobes out there like me who will be happy to hear it. Anyway, on to the meals.

The first one I tried was the Grilled Chicken Marinara with Parmesan, which was grilled chicken tenderloins & broccoli in a marinara sauce over whole grain pasta. I had to threaten my son with bodily harm to stay away from it, because he thought it sounded and looked delicious. In the end, I shared it with him because he put on his “poor starving me” face. We both really liked it. I didn’t tell him that the pasta was whole grain (because heaven forbid he know it is healthy), and he didn’t notice any difference. I’ve never been a big fan of chicken and tomato sauce pairings, but this entrée had just the right amount of sauce – it didn’t overwhelm the flavor of the chicken, which I liked. And the broccoli was perfect – not mushy, like it often is in microwave meals.

My son liked it even more than I did, because he loves chicken parmesan, so I will definitely buy this again for him, since this – at 280 calories, 6g fiber, 20g protein, and only 4.5g fat – is far healthier than your average chicken parmesan, which often has more than twice the calories and more than three times the fat. Sometimes even more in popular restaurants.

Next up was the Chicken Linguini with Red Pepper Alfredo, which I was pretty sure I would like, and I was right. In fact, I loved it. As most of us know, on the “healthy scale” anything with the word “alfredo” in it falls somewhere between Heart Attack on a Plate and SATAN. In fact, a popular Italian chain restaurant lists their fettuccini alfredo as having 1,220 calories and 75g fat! So, at only 260 calories, 6g fat, 5g fiber, and 22g protein, it’s already a win. But even better – it was good. Again, the pasta didn’t have that weird texture that whole grain pasta has, the broccoli was perfectly cooked, and the chicken tasted fresh and was perfectly seasoned. And the red pepper gave the alfredo sauce an extra flavor boost.

I think the one if the reason these entrees are better than most of the microwave meals I have tried in the past is the unique way of cooking them. Instead of all the ingredients in a frozen chunk, which usually cooks unevenly, these are steamed in the microwave, with the sauce cooked separate from the rest of the meal, which you then stir together. This gives it a much fresher taste and better consistency than your average microwave meal. The pasta is al dente, the vegetables stay crisp and the meat stays tender. I will definitely be trying more varieties. In addition to the ones I tried, there are:


-Barbeque Seasoned Steak with Red Potatoes

-Chicken Fresca with Chardonnay

-Chicken Margherita with Balsamic

-Grilled Chicken Pesto with Vegetables

-Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean with Rice

-Roasted Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms



I think they all sound delicious! Like I said, I have enjoyed Healthy Choice in the past, but the partnership with Top Chef is bringing new, bold recipes that are often missing in meal choices for people looking for meals that are lower in calories and fat.

You can go to the Healthy Choice website to get more information, and their Offers & Promotions page has a $1 off coupon you can print and use if you want to try them out for yourself.



I was compensated by Healthy Choice & The Motherhood for reviewing these products, but I was not asked for a favorable review and the opinions expressed are all mine.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Late

Before I met my husband, I was an “early person”. Not only was I never late for anything, I was early most of the time. Sometimes to a fault. But honestly, I’d rather get to where I am going too early and have to go in search of a cup of tea or spend some time reading a book until it’s time to do whatever it is I am doing than keep anyone else waiting for even one minute.

I’m not sure why I’m like this. My family, while not “late people,” certainly aren’t early-to-a-fault people like me. And I know that my early-itis isn’t exactly normal. I try not to show up too early and inconvenience anyone. I don’t expect other people to be as early as me, and I try (TRY) to be patient when others are late (and believe me, it is NOT easy). But while waiting for other people who are running late can drive me crazy, actually being late makes me absolutely INSANE.

So who did I marry? I’ll tell you who I married: Latey McLatepants, that’s who. He comes by it naturally. His family is chronically late for everything. Their last name should seriously be LateForEveryGoddamnedThing. And before you think I am exaggerating, here are some examples: There is one niece who – despite being charged with bringing food – will show up hours after an event starts. So four hours after the party starts, we finally get to eat. An entire branch of the family was so late to Mr b’s 50th birthday party that half the people already left before they got there (with some food and the cake, of course). One of my sisters-in-law’s surprise birthday party was unsurprising for her because several relatives showed up late: Just as she herself was arriving. And my own personal favorite: one sister-in-law was my wedding florist. And she was late. Despite my having told her that she time to arrive was a full hour earlier than reality. So all my pre-ceremony photos are sans flowers.

Sigh.

And now I have two kids, who are also making me late because a) they take after their father, and b) because they are kids and kids are slow-moving pains in the ass. So needless to say, my life is a constant struggle to try to be on time. A failing, miserable, anxiety-riddled struggle. Here is an average “getting ready to go somewhere” experience:

2 hours before we need to leave: I am ready.

1 hour 50 minutes before we need to leave: Start telling the other people in this house that we have less than two hours.

1.5 hours before we need to leave: I start asking people politely to start getting ready.

1.25 hours before we need to leave: No one is moving. I remind them again, still mostly polite.

1 hour before we need to leave: I make the girl start getting dressed.

50 min before we need to leave: I try to make the boy start getting dressed.

45 min before we need to leave: The girl is dressed. I tell her to brush her near-dreadlocked hair.

40 min before we need to leave: I yell at boy to start getting ready. I notice the girl still has dreads. She can’t find her brush. I find the brush & tell her to brush her hair.

35 minutes before we need to leave: Boy still not dressed. Girl? Dreads.

30 minutes before we need to leave: I rip the plug out of the TV/Xbox/computer/whatever it is that the boy is doing. Girl? Dreads.

25 minutes before we need to leave: Boy is (mostly) dressed. Can’t find socks. Girl? Dreads.

20 minutes before we need to leave: Boy still can’t finds socks, despite my very specific instructions. Girl has brushed her hair, but only the front and sides. The back? Dreads.

15 minutes before we need to leave: I have retrieved socks for the boy. Girl is crying about me brushing her hair.

10 minutes before we need to leave: Girl is ready. Boy is sitting on bed holding socks, looking dazed. I notice Mr b isn’t dressed. I tell him to GET DRESSED DAMMIT! His reply? "I can’t just get dressed – I need to shower!" Me: WTF?

5 minutes before we need to leave: Mr b is checking email. I threaten him. Boy is now holding one sock. The other is missing. I notice the girl has no socks on. Repeat missing sock dance from above.

Time to leave: Mr b in shower. Boy has one sock on. Girl is ready.

5 minutes after we needed to leave: Mr b can’t find clothes. Boy has found second sock, but is holding it, looking blank. Girl is loading up 17 bags with all her “necessities.” I am dying a slow death.

10 minutes after we needed to leave: Mr b is dressed, but can’t find comb/socks/belt/whatever. Boy? 2nd sock is halfway on. Girl? 18 bags. Me? Dying!

15 minutes after we needed to leave: Mr b is ready. Boy? Still only halfway with the 2nd sock. Girl is ready.

20 minutes after we needed to leave: Heading out the door. Oh wait – Mr b needs to take the dog out. The rest of us stand there, me fuming.

25 minutes after we needed to leave: Mr b is ready. I am ready. Boy? Needs his headphones. Can’t find them. Girl wants to change her shoes.

30 minutes after we needed to leave: Boy losing his shit because someone must have taken his headphones. Girl losing her shit because she wants different shoes. Mr b getting pissy because the rest of us (!) aren’t ready.

35 minutes after we needed to leave: boy is ready and still pissed about headphones. Girl has now added another bag of crap to carry. Mr b now has to pee. Me? DEAD.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Look at that dog!

Last night was my small town's annual Halloween parade. We go every year - local businesses open up to trick or treaters, and afterward there is a parade through town with firetrucks & marching bands and social clubs throwing candy to spectators. It's something I have been doing since I was a kid, and it;s always fun. This year however, there was an added bonus.

In addition to the previously mentioned groups, individuals can walk in the parade and show off their costumes. you will see a lot of regular, store-bought costumes, along with some really creative ones. This year, the best I saw was a kid dressed as a Lego man. I don't have a photo, because I was so mesmerized by how perfect it was that I forgot I had a camera.

One staple of these parades is dogs in costumes. You will see dogs dressed as Steelers, dogs as bumblebees, dogs as princesses. One year, there was a tiny Cinderella in a carriage being pulled by dogs. This year, there was a Cruella de Vil with a bunch of dalmatians. And being the dog lovers that we are, if you sit anywhere near us, you will hear repeated, excited cries of, "Look at that dog!"

Toward the end of this year's parade, I saw a cute dog heading our way in a tutu and fairy wings. I pointed it out to the girl & her friend, knowing they would love it. But then it got a little closer and I noticed that Wait! That's not a dog! And those of you that know me will understand how much it pleased me to see what it really was:




















Yes, my friends - that is a goat. A Tutu Fairy Goat. The only thing that would have made it better for me would have been if it had fainted from my camera flash. Best goat ever.

And as a bonus, her's my little Flamenco dancer:

























And my insane son:

























(he almost didn't wear it bevcause it was supposed to rain and apparenty wearing one of those in the rain can cause drowning. Or something)

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Random Crap

I’m sick. But I won’t say much about that because I hate whiny sick blogging. Also – I refuse to accept sickness because I have too many things going on, like the girl’s birthday and Halloween madness fun drunkosity. And dammit, I refuse to be sick.

I will, however, say this about being sick: My mother will drive me crazy one of these days. I know she loves me and cares about me. And I know she worries. I do it myself – one kid sniffles once and I’m running through all the horrible diseases on earth (and perhaps the universe) in my head, while remaining calm on the outside. So I get it. I really do. But, I swear, if I hear one more accusation & demand that “You better start taking care of yourself!” I will punch someone.

Despite what she seems to believe I do take care of myself. I’m not diving into biohazard bins at the hospital in my free time. I take vitamins. I try to eat (somewhat) healthy. I get a flu shot. But a few years back, I had H1N1 and it did a serious number on my immune system – I still get sick more easily, and illnesses seem to hit me a little harder than they did before. And I have these two things in my house. These germ-filled pastries known as “kids”. So, Mom? When I am sick, if what is coming out of your mouth is anything other than the following:

“Poor baby!”
“Let me make you some soup!”
“Can I take the kids for you?”
“Here is some Nyquil/Advil/wine.”

Then, please – I’m begging you: SHUT UP ABOUT IT ALREADY!

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In other news, I have the only golden retriever in the entire world that is not a love pig. Which is what makes the slobber & hair worth it. What the fuck?

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And I just got back from my annual work retreat at a lovely resort on the bay, where I had great food, lots of (free) booze, a massage, bike-riding, shopping and a sunset cruise. Only to return to a house that looks like pigs live in it. Not figurative pigs – actual farm pigs. And lots and lots of bullshit drama. So I am just going to think about this instead:

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PSA

A Public Service Announcment to you men out there: If your wife/girlfriend is freaking out about the Buick-sized, clearly evil, (wo)man-eating, hell spider, do NOT attempt to reassure her by saying, "There's probably a lot more than just that one." It will help her sanity and is probably better for your own safety, as well.

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And while we're on the subject of creepy crawlies, I had the opportunity to take the girl to the Bugs & Butterflies Ball at the Carnegie Museum this weekend. When I forst read about it, I was all set to take her. then I saw that the tickets were $125 and $50 and I figured we could stay home and have a Stinkbugs & Spiders Soiree for free. But I was lucky enough to win four tickets on the radio (by knowing my world geography, which I didn't think I knew), and not only were we able to go, we were able to take some friends.

It was a great event and the girls had so much fun. There was a yummy dinner, and open bar, crazy, beautiful, delicious desserets, anoyther open bar, crafts, a hilarious stilt walker named Carmen Louisa Conchita Miranda Chiquita Banana, a scavenger hunt, balloon animals, an opportunity to get a photo with Dino Dan, face painting, and lots of other fun stuff. We loved it. Oh, and we got to go behind the scvnenes to the Alcohol Room and see the creepy crawlies in jars. And there was fake poop to touch. What's not to love?




























































































































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Monday, September 26, 2011

Like a Lightbulb Suddenly Went Off in His Head

The girl is in her second year of cheerleading now and to say that her 14 year old brother is not particularly interested in watching 7 year olds compete in cheer competitions, or cheer on the football team is a vast understatement. Don't get me wrong, he'll drag along on some of the games to support her (and sometimes because we remind him that she has sat through approximately 5,000 hours of band concerts & festivals, jazz nights, musicals, basketball, soccer, baseball and football games). But in general, the words, "We're going to a cheer competition today" isn't generally met with celebration.

So when my BF invited him along with her family (her son is the boy's good friend) to her daughter's cheer competition, followed by a baseball game & a concert, his attitude was basically "Ugh! I have to sit through a cheer thing, but I'll suffer through for the game and concert." My response was to laugh at him. He came home that night & reported that he had a good time. I assumed he meant after the "cheer thing."

The next day, I was talking to my friend and she mentioned that the boys enjoyed the cheer competition after all, because they apparently let go of their "Eww, cheer" attitude long enough to notice that the cheer competition was filled with...wait for it...CHEERLEADERS!

Of course, as soon as I got off the phone with my friend, I teased him a little about trying to pick up cheerleaders. Instead of getting embarrassed like he sometimes does when I tease him he said, and I quote,

"Mom. Four numbers. FOUR! I'm going to ALL the cheer competitions now!"

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Women vs Men: The Stress Edition

This morning I was stressed because:

Despite me having woken him up TWICE already, the boy was still sleeping 15 minutes later. I started worrying about him being late and missing the bus and not eating and I yelled.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

I yelled & disturbed him


This morning I was stressed because:

I discovered a stealth pile of dog poo in a most inopportune place. I was already dealing with the sleeping boy and now this. I swore loudly.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

I was being loud


This morning I was stressed because:

I hadn’t finished filling out the girl’s fundraiser papers, and I was running out of time because I was dealing with the aforementioned sleeping boy and dog poo. I had to ask for help.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

I asked him for help.


This morning I was stressed because:

Despite the fact that it has been burned out for a week, the light in my closet room was not yet fixed (because I can't do it myself) and I couldn’t find the clothes I was looking for. On top of the sleeping boy, the dog poo and the forms.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

I asked him to fix it for the 8th day in a row


This morning I was stressed because:

After dealing with the forms and the poo and the boy and the burned out light, I still needed to found my clothes, but the flashlight wasn’t in the house, but in mr b’s van. And I needed it.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

He had to go out to his van to get me the flashlight.


This morning I was stressed because:

I left the house late after finally resolving the boy, the poo, the forms, the light, and finding the clothes, knowing I would be even later because I needed gas since mr b used my car a couple of times this week and I didn’t have time to stop on the way home last night because the girl had practice & I was rushing home to pick her up and get her fed & changed & dropped off, and then picked up & wait the fundraiser is due when and the dog needs a bath and oh great drop-bys from not one but TWO relatives and how is it 11:00 already, dammit? And now I was going to be even later which sucks because I have to leave early today to rush home and deal with dinner & picking up kids and getting the girl to practice and making it to the boy’s open house on time. And as I left the house, I heard mr b say, “What a morning!”

It all comes back to the Responsibility [[]]

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Locked Out

When I was growing up, my mom stayed at home with me. I always had a hot breakfast (unless I demanded Raisin Bran), always had snacks & dinner waiting when I got home, and always had a mom available during the day to come to school parties or pick me up if I got sick. Not that being a stay at home mom itself made her a good mom – I work outside the home and I’m a good mom - I’m just making the point that she was present – always at my beck and call.

Once I got into junior high, however, she stopped being quite as available. Which is fine – she had a right to a life – but it was more of a problem in 1980 than it is today. Remember – there were no cell phones, so if she wasn’t in the house and I or the school called – she couldn’t be reached. At times, I liked this. I loved the solitude of coming home to an empty house. I enjoyed following the recipes she left for me and getting dinner started. I felt grown up.

But at other times, I hated it. Like when I forgot something that I needed. Or if I wanted to go to a meeting or a friend’s house after school and couldn’t reach her to get her permission (I knew better than to just go). It was frustrating and there were times I resented her not being there (for many reasons). I learned to call my grandma (her mother) when I wanted to go somewhere, because Gram would always tell me yes and would stand up to my mother if she had a problem with it (Gram was – and at 92 – still is a badass).

My first year of junior high, I didn’t use the bathroom in school. I was terrified of stories (urban legends, really) of hazing that I heard went on in the bathrooms. So usually, by the time I got home, off the bus, and walked half a mile to my house (none of that right out front bus stop stuff back then), I usually had to pee relay bad. Really, REALLY bad. I would run into the house, drop my books all over the place (backpacks in those days were NOT cool), run like hell to the bathroom, and pee for about 5 straight minutes.

But one day, I got home and the door was locked. This was 1980 in a small town – we rarely locked our doors. But this day, for some reason, my mom did. So when I rushed down the walk & slammed into the door, only to find it locked, I pretty much lost it immediately. In addition to having to pee, I was tir4ed and freezing. There was about 8 inches of snow on the ground.

I immediately tried to get in a window, but my dad had recently painted them and they were stuck. We had a neighbor next door (the other neighbors were a lot further away) that we were friendly with and for a second, I thought about running over there, but I knew that I didn’t have time. I wouldn’t make it. And a millisecond later, it happened. I started to pee myself. Having a full bladder after avoiding the bathroom all day, I couldn’t stop it. And it went on and on. I was mortified. 30+ years and a couple of kids later, I wouldn’t even blink, but back then, I was filled with shame, even though there was no one around to see it. And since it was clear I had had a “potty” accident, there was no way I was going to the neighbors now. I just stood there, crying my eyes out and wondering what to do.

And for some reason, in my 12 or 13 year old mind, the solution was to sit in the snow. I guess I figured that if my pants were wet all over, it wouldn’t be obvious what had happened. So I did it. I sat down, already wet, in the almost foot deep snow. I rolled around. I let myself get good and wet. And when I was satisfied that I had camouflaged the problem, I got up & realized that I still didn’t know what to do. I stood there freezing, wet and tired and ashamed and cried some more.

Eventually, I found a tool my dad had left on the porch and used it to work at the dried paint around the window. I climbed in & immediately ran to my room to change. I was mad at my mom for not being there, mad at myself for not being able to hold it, mad at the hazers in the bathrooms that kept me from going in. I threw my pants in the washing machine (which was something I never did – my mom handled ALL the laundry) and jumped in the tub. My mom came home a few minutes later and I claimed I was cold and wanted a hot bath. I told her I threw the laundry in because I just wanted to help out.

As much as I wanted to yell and scream at her for not being there (and a lot of my anger went further than what had just happened – I was really mad at her not for not being there, but for being somewhere else), my shame was greater. So I kept my mouth shut. I never told her what had happened – how her not being there affected me. Instead, I just started getting hall passes and going to the bathroom during class. And I asked for a house key so I’d never get locked out again.

This post is part of Mama Kat's Writers Workshop

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Christopher M. Panatier

















I didn’t know Christopher M. Panatier. I had never even heard his name until I heard it read along with 2,995 others. And though I know I heard it read, I don’t know that I really even took notice of it. 2,996 is a lot of names. It’s especially a lot of names when we’re talking about people who lost their lives.

Christopher Panatier was 36 on that day. Seven years younger than I am now. Many, many years younger, I’m sure, than anyone ever imagined they would lose him. Christopher was a foreign currency trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. I imagine he left for work that day in the towers thinking the worst thing he would deal with was traffic, or irritable clients, or a busy day. Instead, he – along with almost 3,000 others, lost his life in the one of the worst tragedies we have seen in this country.

Christopher was a husband, a father, a son. He married his high school sweetheart, Carolyn, and they had two children, Annie and Christopher. His children were only 6 and 4 when they lost him. Too young to lose their father. Especially to lose him that way. Too young to even understand how something like that could happen. But really, there is no age, no amount of knowledge or wisdom that could ever make sense of what happened that day.

Everyone who talks about Christopher seems to mention what an amazing, adventurous, and funny man he was. People were drawn to him.

So even though I didn’t know Christopher, I am remembering him along with the other innocent victims of the September 11th 2001 attacks. He was a good man, a good husband, a good father, and a good friend. Because of that, his legacy lives on.

He will be remembered not only for how he died, but for how he lived.


This post is a part of Project 2,966. Go there to see more tributes.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Blinked

I blinked and my sweet, silly little boy:











































Turned into a long-legged, mustache-sprouting, sometimes angsty, taller-than-I-am high school student:




















































































I blinked and my tiny, loving, bean of a baby girl:











































Turned into a social butterfly, princess, cheerleading, fashionista second grader:




















































































































I blinked and my teeny, fuzzy, wobbly puppy:













































Turned into a ginormous, hairy, clumsy, cat-fighting, garbage-picking dogbeast:





























































I really have to stop blinking


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shameful Excess

Last night, I was flipping through channels and came across a show called Outrageous Kid Parties. This show is just another in a long list of TV shows whose sole purpose seems to be to celebrate greed and selfishness and brattiness in both children and their parents. We’ve all seen or heard of (and most likely been disgusted by) shows like Toddlers & Tiaras, Dance Moms, and My Super Sweet Sixteen. And while some of the kids in these shows are pretty unappealing, it’s the parents who are truly heinous.

Outrageous Kid Parties is no exception. The basic premise is that the parents (usually the mother) of a child decide to throw a party for their child’s special day – whether that be a birthday, bar mitzvah, whatever. But the one that I found the most disturbing was a preschool graduation. No, really – preschool graduation party! Perhaps I’m a negligent mother for taking my preschool “graduates” to McDonalds & the like, because this mother spent almost $32,000 on a “Candy Fantasy Party” for her little 5 year old genius. He must be a genius, right? I mean – he graduated preschool! Only the super smart hard workers accomplish that and therefore deserve a party that costs more than most weddings.

I mean – it’s a tough job, that preschool. There’s coloring and circle time and songs and snack time! Oh wait – even the stupidest kid in the preschool gets to graduate. But they still deserve a party for their 300 closest friends! And don’t forget the $8,500 rock climbing wall as a “graduation” gift – every five year old you passes not shitting their pants 101 needs that, right? And professional dancers and an original song and multiple bouncy houses and $1000 of candy and circus acts and a mother that dresses in fishnets and a whore skirt & climbs the rock wall. Or in the case of the 6 year old’s birthday party, horses and petting zoos and a dog show and a specially designed tattoo and a monster truck limo and more professional dancers and a goddamned ferris wheel!

People - this is why the world hates us! I know there are times when I go too far and spend too much on my kids. I think we all do. But a trip to Build-a-Bear or a new Xbox game is a world different from what amounts to more than the median individual income. And in some of these examples, more than the median household income. The excess seen in these shows is disturbing and shameful. So very shameful.

The US economy is in the shitter. The unemployment rate is out of hand. People are losing their houses, their cars, the lives due to poverty. And around the world, famine is killing children - babies! And these people having $30,000+ parties because Junior graduated from preschool is like a slap in the face to all those people.












































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Monday, August 15, 2011

Of Course

What we said:

"You can go in, but you can only get your feet wet."



























What they said:


"OK - we'll only get our feet wet."


























What actually happened:

























































































































.


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