Well FOK you too!

I’m a sports mom again!

My kids’ sports are in full swing, or kick, or tackle because my kids don’t swing anything in their sports.

I have 3 kids, which means I won’t make it to all the sporting events. Last Saturday, I went to my daughter’s soccer game. My 5 year old HATES going to soccer games and would rather be at big bro’s football game… but he had to go with mom this time.

Because he makes it his life’s mission to not watch even one second of soccer, Riley decided he’d bring something required a lot of Mommy-attention: a preschool workbook. And! Because he knows I love when he learns, he got my attention.

We sounded out words like r-r-rug and m-m-mop together as I taught him about letter sounds, while also making sure I didn’t miss the moments when Anya got the ball (all other soccer is boring unless your kid has the ball).

Next came fog. F-f-o… whoa! Anya’s got the ball there she—


Riley mistook the G sound for a K and enthusiastically yelled what sounded like an expletive during what I would describe as the quietest moment in sports history. You could here a pin drop, and you heard “FOK!” as plain as day. What followed was the most boisterous laughter ever heard at a sporting event.

Red-faced I explained to Riley that it was “fog” and the parents were laughing at something else (I have a sensitive kid).

Some of the nicer parents came up after the game and told me to make sure to read him something a little less profane next time.

There goes Riley’s favorite bedtime story, “Go the Fuck to Sleep.”

Turn the radio up for that sweet sound!

“Um, Dad, can you turn that music up?”

The few times my dad actually had music on in his truck, it was on audio level 1. I’m not sure why there even is a level 1 on the dial. The sound level this low was loud enough to compete with the heater fan… and the heater fan usually won.

CB102572When I asked Dad to turn the music up, he’d comply, unless he didn’t want to “because.” He’d generously turn it to 4, nope, too loud, back down to 3. I’m assuming this is why I know the melodies of many oldies station songs but have no clue what the words are.

As the notes barely tickled my eardrum, I imagined I was really rocking out. Sometimes I would sing, unless singing was prohibited at that particular time “because.”

Just as we’d approach the chorus, the only part I knew (presumably from hearing it at the grocery store or in doctor’s office waiting rooms), we’d hit a stop light.

When we stopped, the road noise silenced. My dad turned the knob ever so slightly (because, really, the knob only needed a 2/10ths turn) back to 1. When the light turned green and the road noise grew louder, the music was all but gone. I’d clear my throat, “Um, Dad, can you turn the music back up?”

Usually my question would receive a slight tap in decibels, unless it was a no “because” and “you’ll be fine.”

This game of turning the volume up and down continued through 5, yes 5 lights. My dad always “forgot” or “didn’t notice” the music was back at, let’s face it – zero, at every light.

The other night, I thought about this stressful game of “Um, can you turn that music up?” I was driving back from my 8-year-old’s basketball practice blasting on of my favorite songs “Turn the Radio Up (make me lose control)” Riley yelled, “Mommy, turn it down, it’s too loud!”

I said, “No” and “because” followed by “you’ll be fine.”

I’ve been blaring my music in my own car since I was 17 years old and I NEVER turn it down at stoplights.


Couples who idealize each other are happier

Michaelangelo believed that his sculptures were resting in the stone, waiting for him to release them. The way I see it, that’s how we all are. We are resting in stone and over time, we are sculpted. Into what, well, it’s determined by the sculptors.
For better or worse, we choose our sculptors. They are the people with whom we choose to spend our time. Our friends, our family, our spouses. They sculpt us. Most importantly our spouses. I think it’s because this is the person with whom we are most invested.

Generally, the Michaelangelo Phenomenon means, “Couples who idealize each other are happier.” But it’s not just idealizing, it’s helping each other become our ideal selves. 

I’m not always so certain that we’re doing this marriage thing right (we learn as we go).  

Are there times when we might have a bit of an inflated opinion of each other? Yes.

Are there times when we annoy the crap out of each other? Yes.

The Michaelangelo Phenomenon exists between us. This is one area in which I know Donnie and I are killing it. We believe in each other, we idealize each other, we sculpt each other. Without that support, it would be damned hard to achieve our dreams.
In fact, I think we annoy other people with our blind support for each other. Donnie regularly thanks me for my “unbiased opinion” of his work. And he knows that this blog has got some pretty eloquent writing in it, and he doesn’t have to read a word. (I’ve read some out loud to him, he’s not much of a reader.) If you asked him if I could be president, he’d probably say “Yes, if she put her mind to it.” That’s how annoyingly supportive he is.

The downside to the Michaelangelo Phenomenon is when one or the other is not working toward his/her ideal self. It can be really frustrating when the person who supports you, believes in you, motivates you, sees you failing. I know I want to write a book. Each day that goes by that a book isn’t being written makes me feel guilty. Not only am I letting myself down, but I’m letting him down. Because he believes in me.

This is the part we try to work on. It may not be the right time. It may not be the right goal. So, we must back off or redirect our annoying support.

All in all, I think, with the right sculptor, the Michaelangelo Phenomenon does make couples (people) happier.

When the sculpture is finally revealed, it’s going to be amazing.

Rainbow Riley

Tonight, I had a date with my 4 year old.

He held the door open for me. He ordered his own food. He got his own drink. He sat across from me (instead of nearly on my lap). He ate his food with a knife and a fork. He used a napkin (a napkin, people). He made conversation.

This 20 minute dinner on our way to basketball practice was very personal, very one-on-one. It was a definite aside from our usual hustling around, me yelling at him to keep up and then chasing after him as he runs across the parking lot. 

I’m pretty impatient with Riley. I think it’s partially because of his being the 3rd kid and partially because he’s so mature. But Riley has a very special place in my heart. 

I got pregnant with Riley after two previous pregnancy losses. In some circles (pregnancy forums), babies after loss are called rainbow babies. The idea is the rainbow after the storm. Not that my other pregnancies were a storm but that they were painful, scary. 

As such, we wanted to add Rainbow to Riley’s name in remembrance and celebration. His full name Riley Reyn resembles that notion. We just wanted a simple thing, not over the top. No rainbow walls, no rainbow bedding, no rainbow striped hair colors. Just his middle name. 

Not knowing the origin of his name, Riley’s favorite color is rainbow. 

I think I should go on dates with my 4 year old more often. 

You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

You is also illiterate, but… I choose to look past that part to see the message from the gut-wrenching, infuriating, inspiring movie, The Help.

I love how “kind” is in there. And it’s first!

I think we (I) spend too much time worrying about whether our (my) kids are at the top of their classes, the best on the soccer team or the fastest runner, first to tie shoes, first to learn ABCs.

We spend so much time and effort molding our kids into perfect, successful human beings that we forget about the human part.

Your kid may be the smartest kid in the class but I just watched him push a little kid out of the way, look back at the crying toddler and keep going. I don’t want my kids to be that way.

I won’t tell my kids “You is smart” because then they will think, “I know all I need to know and don’t need learn anymore.”

I’m not perfect though, in the past, I have focused a lot on grades and excellence in sports (nee every aspect of life). I’ve recently come to the realization (parents are always learning) that if my kids fail 5th grade science, it doesn’t mean they will become losers. It doesn’t mean they will be homeless, or worse, live with me until they’re 30.

I’ve started focusing on what makes them special, what makes them happy, what they work hard toward.

My son is below average in reading, but off the charts in math. I decided not to worry so much about the Cs he got in spelling and reading. It’s obviously not his thing. He will have to work at it, but I won’t set unrealistic goals for him in something that he already struggles with. That kid has a heart of gold. “You is kind” is his life’s motto. He’s got empathy for miles. Practicing empathy is not always easy, believe me, I know, so if kindness is your kid’s thing, I think he’ll be alright.

I know he’ll be alright because that kid has a heart of gold. “You is kind” is his life’s motto. He’s got empathy for miles. Practicing empathy is not always easy, believe me, I know, so if kindness is your kid’s thing, I think he’ll be alright, too.

The fact that I notice but choose to ignore the illiteracy of “You is kind. You is smart. You is important,” shows that I’m growing (as a mom and a perfectionist) and focusing on the very important message and not the delivery.

Also, watch The Help. It’s good for your heart.


The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Every year at Christmastime, I notice the Ugly Sweater tradition. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s cool (not literally). It’s fun to make everyone dress ugly ironically. Whoever has the ugliest sweater wins. And then the one who wins is Aunt Denise who actually didn’t know there would be a contest. If you think about it, it is a little mean.

That didn’t stop my family from hosting its first Ugly Christmas Sweater party several years ago. I went out to Goodwill because that’s where you could find all the really ugly Christmas sweaters. (Conveniently, Old Navy has a line of ugly sweaters now. If you go this route, you better hope Uncle Carl doesn’t pick the same Old Navy ugly sweater. You want to dress ironically ugly, not actually ugly.

Anyway, I found the ugliest, most ill-fitted bags of wool available at Goodwill that year. One for each member in my family. We wore our sweaters proudly and laughed at the horrible looking sweaters my relatives showed up in.

I’m not sure if it was my cousins spiked wassal or the ridiculously effective sweater I was wearing, but I started really sweating. It was soooo hot. Everyone was hot. We were miserable and uncomfortable and sweaty and we couldn’t wait for the contest to be over. We opened the doors and window to let IN the draft. These sweaters were super effective. After the contest, all the sweaters were peeled. The fun was over.

And my family never did Ugly Sweater Christmas again. Every time I hear of someone doing an Ugly Sweater Christmas party, I think, “How fun for them!” and immediately feel an empathic bead of sweat rolling down my forehead.


The cool kids don’t get it.

Last night Anya had her 6th grade music program. I think 6th grade is about the time I stopped doing music programs and started doing choir.

I joined choir because it was “cool” at the time. Yes, in 6th grade, choir is cool. But what wasn’t cool was that I had an alto singing voice. All the “cool” girls were sopranos. You know? That princess-y soprano sound you’d hear in all the 90s Disney movies. Still, I sang in my alto voice. I liked choir. It was nice to belong in a group.

For days, Anya has been swearing to me that she “hates” music and singing. She tells me after this, she’ll never be in choir or anything lame like that. It’s embarrassing and the songs aren’t cool and “We don’t have to go to the concert. It’s not mandatory.”

I know Anya doesn’t hate music and singing because I hear music and singing blaring from her room every day. Even Mozart. I hear her practicing her program’s songs.

Tell me she hates music and singing.

At the concert, I watched Anya walk onto the stage with about a thousand other “cool kids.” When the songs started, I could hear singing but few mouths were moving. Eyes were darting around the risers to see who was “uncool” enough to care.

Then, I noticed. A smile on Anya’s face. She was into it. She was belting out the songs and smiling, and maybe even dancing a little bit. She knew all the Hebrew words to the Haida Song.

Tell me she hates music and singing.

The group received a standing ovation. I was proud of my little 6th grader for letting her vulnerability show at the risk of appearing “uncool.” She was proud of her performance. She had a great time and it showed.

After the concert, Anya comes over to me, “I’m so glad that’s over. How embarrassing.”

Girls can play hockey too.

I am a tomboy. As a girl, I always ran with the boys. Whatever they were doing, I wanted to do it too, especially if they told me I couldn’t (which they often did).

When I was 12, I asked for an Easton street hockey stick for Christmas. Street hockey was all the rage in my neighborhood and I was determined to join the boys’ little “league”. When I got the stick, I was so excited that I didn’t care that it was the Wal-Mart knock-off version. If I’m going to compete among the boys in street hockey, I had to start somewhere.

I roller-bladed to the street hockey cul-de-sac on the day after Christmas with my hockey stick in tow. I was ready to show them what I was made of. They made fun of my stick because it was “cheap” and “for girls” and consequently, so were my roller blades. I’m not sure how my blue Wal-Mart hockey stick was “for girls” but it didn’t matter, their comments only fueled my desire to prove myself.

Neither team wanted me.

These were my friends. The boys I ran around with. We played kickball. We played foursquare. We went to the drive-in with our families and ate brats on the curbs in front of our houses. It didn’t matter, street hockey was like Fight Club for 12-year-olds and the first rule of Neighborhood Street Hockey was that “Girls were only invited to watch, enamored.”

I begged to play. I demanded. It wasn’t until a kid had to go home, that they let me play (because the teams were now uneven). I was thrilled.

After enduring a hockey lesson from each of the boys, we finally started playing. No one passed to me. No one tried to steal the puck from me. It was like I was just skating back and forth for exercise (which is pretty good exercise if you think about it). I was getting frustrated. I decided I’d just steal the puck (which was extremely difficult with cheap Wal-Mart wheels that barely rolled. It was like gliding on the pavement with ski boots on, you know the ones you put on that attach to your skis? That’s what it was like.).

Breathless but determined; I finally stole the elusive puck from a slower kid. My team was in awe that I actually did something athletic and it had nothing to do with tumbling. The other team said I’d cheated. I didn’t care; I stole that puck fair and square. It’s not my fault the boy fell back and was crying, and maybe broke his ankle.

I like to think that my team was impressed by my courage and skill, but looking back now, I’m guessing they were just relieved I wasn’t being a “total girl”.

It got easier to join the “league” after that. The boys still fought over which team had to have “the girl.” (I have a name, you know). And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the best player out there but I definitely wasn’t the worst… and they knew it.

Am I still a good mom if I just want my kids to leave me alone?

I’m having one of those mom guilt days.

Saturday morning. 7 a.m.
Riley’s daily chanting, “Mommy get up, Mommy get up, Mommy get up” has a melodic, soothing sound. I’m almost lulled back to sleep by his baby baritone.
All I want to do is sleep.

I get up. Blindly feel my way to the coffee pot and make a pot.
I pour a bowl cereal for Riley and me and sit at the table.
I’m halfway down to my seat when there are technical issues with cartoons,
All I want to do is eat.

This repeats throughout the day.
I sat down with a book.
I started cleaning a room.
I opened Pinterest.
All I want to do is what I want to do!

But something keeps coming up. It’s 10 am. I send the kids outside. 5 min later, crying and knocking on the back door. Riley’s covered in mud and poop. (Long story but we have a toilet in our backyard and he thought he better run to that toilet and go.)

Finally, I decided to negotiate and try something fun the kids and I can do together. I tired Pinterest but all of that crap looked boring as hell. Logan wants to make something yummy. Ok, Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispies. Let me clear something up first. When a 6-year-old wants to make something with you, translation: “Mommy, make this yummy thing super fast so I can eat it.” So I sent the boys outside again.

Logan comes running in, “Mommy, I found a key!”
Me: “Where’s Riley?”
Logan: “Playing outside.”

I take off running. As soon I pass the door jamb, I see Riley conversing with the neighbor. He informed me that “They key your boys found goes to the mailbox here.” And then we chatted a bit as the boys ran back inside.

Maybe 3 minutes later, I followed.

As soon as I enter, Logan’s yelling, “MOMMY! Riley drank the vanilla!” I look at Riley who looks grossed out and says “Dat gucky” pointing to the puddle of vanilla schnapps (I mean extract).

Now, I know it’s frowned upon to put the kids in front of the TV, but that’s exactly where I sent them so I could write this blog post. And they’ve only called me about 8 times to come help them with something or get Riley’s arm untangled from the drawstring on the blinds. Now, mysteriously my keyboard has peanut butter on it.

All I want to do is write a blog post!

I know it’s ok to want to be alone sometimes but that doesn’t stop the mom guilt.

Unrealized productivity

Logan’s sick. But if you asked him, he just bumped his head the other day and he’s cold because he didn’t put socks on today. And he’s, well, he’s just not hungry today. His eyes look tired because he looked at the lights too long yesterday. And, can he go play?

As I sat here on my couch for the 4th consecutive hour, my mind is full of guilt and irritation from not getting any chores done, my body aches from literally just sitting here… Watching movies with Logan, sketching, and playing pretend with Riley.

Today, Logan made me think. When was the last time I ignored illness, fatigue, boredom, or chores all for the sake of fun?

As I started this blog post, words at the top of my mind were laziness, guilt, unproductive, wasted day. But, in a way, it’s days like these that could be considered my most productive. I just didn’t realize it.



Children living dangerously

I’d like to consider myself a somewhat lax parent when it comes to kids taking risks for entertainment purposes. I’m not completely hands-off but I’m no helicopter mom either.

I like to give my kids the freedom to make mistakes. If you ask Donnie maybe a little too much freedom at times.

When Logan wants to jump from the top step of the stairs (into a pile of pillows), I say “Go for it!”
When Riley tries to balance on the giant cement ball outside the Y, I say “sure!”
Climb on the slide.
Stand on your bike seat!
Run as fast as you can and then slide on your sweat pants through the kitchen!
Hurl Riley over your head across the room in hopes that he lands on the couch and not the sharp corner of the coffee table.

Wait a minute. I definitely did not approve that last one!
“LOGAN!!! No! You’ll hurt him!”

But before I could cue up my “mom voice,” Riley was mid-air. I began to slow-motion run (or at least that’s how it felt) Riley, giggling all the way over the coffee table and onto the edge of the couch. He grips the cushion to keep from rolling off the side and then shakes with laughter.

I turned my attention to Logan.

Logan looked me right in the eye, his eyebrows raised ever so slightly and the corners of his mouth slowly curled upward.

“See Mommy? He likes it!”

Country concert or Fight night?

Last night, we were lucky enough to watch the Jason Aldean concert from great seats at Intrust Bank Arena. You can’t really tell from this picture because Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan walked all the way to the to the other side to give those peeps some attention.

As you can see, the place was packed!

It’d be great if the story ended there, but sadly, it doesn’t.

You see, my husband Donnie is a very tall man (6’9″) and constantly self conscious about his height, which I usually make light of and try to get him to do the same.

Having the great seats we did, he was worried about blocking someone’s view. I said, “Oh those stadium seats make it to where almost anybody can see over you.”

So we get to our awesome seats and we’re sitting, waiting for the show to begin. Luke Bryan comes out first and he friggin’ rocks! Everyone stands up. It looked almost like the wave. Row 1, then Row 2, then Row 3 and so on. Pretty cool effect considering it wasn’t choreographed.

When it was our turn, we stood. I turned around just to see if the people behind us could see. No one was there. Yes! What are the odds? Were those the only 2 empty seats in the house? We continued to rock out.

Randomly, I turned around again about 20 minutes in and saw two women sitting. The only two people sitting in the entire arena. Donnie said, “They probably think it doesn’t matter if they sit or stand because they can’t see over me.” I’m thinking, “Please. All these 5’7″ guys can see over him at this angle. No problem. These people are just party poopers.” (They had stink faces on).

Then, there was a lull in the performance. Everybody sits down almost simultaneously. From behind, I hear, “Finally, we can watch the show, sh*t!” I ignored that. Then, “F#c%!n& a-hole!” I’m thinking, did I just hear that?

I told Donnie. Immediately he stood up. (This is the guy I’ve seen sit through entire concerts to make sure people behind him could see, but they pissed him off).

I saw him take a glance as he stood, the little lady yelled out, “You’re an a-hole!” Donnie’s glance darted back and he said, “Just don’t talk to me. Why don’t you just enjoy the show and leave me alone.”

The lady continued to belt out expletives and derogatory comments as we stood with our backs to them, trying to enjoy the rest of Luke Bryan’s performance.

Donnie’s mom Annette was sitting next to me and leaned over, “What’s going on?” She could tell something was up but it was so loud in there, she couldn’t hear anything. I told her, “These ladies are bothering Donnie. They’re calling him names and being jerks. He’s just trying to ignore them.”

Suddenly, Annette pushes me forward and reaches over to the “ladies” and gives them a talkin’ to.

Annette is in a heated “Mind yer business” “He’s my son, he is my business” screaming debate them. Annette took off.

Donnie’s used to mama bear getting involved. She is very protective mom. Donnie was mad, “What is my mom doing? OMG.”

I turn around and they say, “What are you doing with him? He’s an a-hole.” Being a lover, not a fighter, I’m tongue-tied, “Because he’s awesome and you’re stupid.” Good one Danielle.

The fighting continues. Donnie’s like, “Can’t you just enjoy the show?” Then a bunch of fighting words were exchanged between Donnie and one of the ladies. She flashed her tattoo while the other one yelled out “5-O, 5-O.” Not sure what that meant.

One of them kept pounding her chest saying, “Let’s go! Let’s go” Donnie’s like, “Please.”

Annette returned and said she’d asked security to watch them. I wasn’t worried about these 5 foot nothing ladies but, the whole 5-0 thing and the fact they didn’t search any women in the search lines, had me thinking I was going to get stabbed in the back the rest of the show.

Annette asked if Donnie was mad at her and I said, “Well, he was trying to take the high road by ignoring them.” She said, “Well, when you told me that, I looked over and they were throwing popcorn at him and they opened their pop like they were gonna pour it in his seat or, worse, down his back.”

What’s with people? Donnie cannot help being tall, just like they couldn’t help being short. One step to the left or right and they could’ve seen just fine, but they had to be biotches about it.

Luckily they left before the encore (probably to round up the other 5-0 gang members roaming downtown with crowbars and pocketknives). Donnie turns to me, “You see why I’m self conscious now? I’ve been dealing with people like this my entire life.”

I felt bad. But, really, Donnie did not let those fun sponges ruin his night.

See? He even took a selfie of us after they left.

So, yeah, I had a good time at the concert, but if nothing had happened, this blog post would’ve been way shorter and way more boring.

For the win!

I went to one of Donnie’s games today. It’s the first game I’ve been to this year and IT WAS STRESSFUL! I don’t even really know the players on his team and yet I felt connected enough to care how well each of them played. There were ups. There were downs. There were infuriating calls. And, of course… calls that infuriated the other team. They ended up winning! And it was a big win for them. They needed this win. There wasn’t a dry seat in the house!

I’m proud of my husband for his win today, both physical and psychological.

Don’t you LOVE your gift?

Today, Donnie turns 33, which is totally not old at all. If that’s true (and I believe it is), then why do I think I’m old at 31?

Anyway… I pride myself on my ability to choose the perfect gift for someone.

If it’s the thought that counts, then I win because I put A LOT of thought into gifts.

If it’s the gift that counts, I win on that too because I’m pretty damn good at it.

It’s almost a selfish satisfaction I get from seeing someone enjoy a gift I carefully selected (or sometimes crafted) just for them.

This time, I took a chance and bought Donnie a guitar.

“Does Donnie know how to play a guitar?” No.
“Does Donnie know how to read music?” No.
“And yet, you bought him a guitar and you think you’re some sort of gift master?” First, rude! And second, yes, I AM the gift master!

Donnie LOVES music. I’m pretty sure that’s an understatement. I think he loves music so much he wants to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. There, that did it.

At some point in the time we’ve known each other, Donnie mentioned to me that he’d always wanted to play guitar, but that, “It’s too late now, I’m old.” I don’t believe that. There are few things to be too old for and learning to play guitar is not one of them.

People told me I was crazy to take a chance on such a gift. The risk-taker I am, I did it anyway.

And you know what? HE LOVED IT!

He’s already learning songs. He picks it up when he gets home from a stressful work day and said (quote) “This is the perfect gift.”

HA! I DID IT! The gift master wins again. And my prize? Watching him enjoy his new gift.

My baby saved my life

At this time, 10 years ago, I was sitting in a hospital recovery room scared to death. I’d just had a beautiful baby girl at 21 and my life was not where I’d wanted it to be. What can I say: Shit happens and sometimes smart people make stupid decisions.

I sat there alone in the hospital bed, begging the nurse to let me stay another night. For some reason, I didn’t want to take my new baby home. I wasn’t scared or anything like that. It’s just that, I didn’t want to let her down. As if she, as a newborn, had some sort of expectation already. I knew she didn’t know any better and that my love would be enough for her. But, I had expectations, and I was letting myself down. I think maybe I just needed her to open my eyes to that.

They say everything happens for a reason. I wouldn’t have seen it at the time but I think the reason I had Anya so early was to save me from a life of poor decisions and bad influences.

When Anya was born, I could see more clearly what I was supposed to do. I picked up the shambles of my life and, for Anya, I put myself back together so I could make a better life for her.

And today, 10 years later, I’m happy where I am. I’m proud of my life and I’m deeply in love with my family. In a way, I have her to thank for that.

Happy Birthday Anya.

Celebrate good times, COME ON! $&(@&$

I’m a big celebrator. I’d celebrate a good hair day if it was socially acceptable. Ok, I still celebrate good hair days.

One of my absolute favorite things about celebrating is giving gifts. I discovered that when I give people gifts and it’s not their birthday or Christmas, they may the wrong idea. I AM NOT HITTING ON YOU and I WILL NEVER BUY YOU COFFEE AGAIN.

I sorta stopped with the random gift-giving due to the mass confusion. (To people other than my close friends and family.)

So when it comes to actual reasons to celebrate, I am ALL ABOUT IT.

Anya turns 10 tomorrow. Oh MY GOD. Anya will be 10 in about 24 hours (but who’s counting 8:53 pm). Anya reminded me that it’s her golden birthday (as if I didn’t know!). It’s the date of your birthday. As in she turns 10 on the 10th = Golden.

I planned a party.
Made invitations.
Bought stuff to make a homemade tie dye cake.
Bought cupcakes for her classmates (because I know they wouldn’t appreciate a homemade treat).

And still today I was thinking “What can I do to make her feel extra special (low cost) on her 10th birthday?”
photo (9)
Yep, that’ll do it.

Skate Park: Not without my game face.

Tonight we went to a park. Not just any park. It had a skate park too. I thought, “Hey, the kids could take their scooters to the skate park while I push Riley around the park?” Never actually, personally, going to a skate park, I was a little naive to the skate park ways.

As we approached the outskirts of Maize, it may as well have been Compton, I saw several tween and teen boys on their bikes hitting the ramps (and hitting them hard) and using cuss words in all the wrong contexts, “F-in M F-er get your sh1ttn bike off my hella leg, yo.” GULP! This did not look like a good idea. Are those boys in a gang?! (I felt so white even typing that). Why did I get the kids all pumped up for this ghetto skate park? “Damn you, self and your unbridled enthusiasm!”

We very slowly approached the fenced park. The kids kept saying, “Can we go?” I took as long as possible to get the stroller out of the car. I guess I was hoping that if I stalled enough, they’d forget all about the skate park and go play in the sand with the safe-looking toddlers. Or maybe, the skate park thug wannabes would see my helmet-laden, fresh-faced cutie pies sidling up on their scooters and wander off saying “This place is wack, yo.” (Can you even sidle on a scooter?)

I finally unfolded the stroller, and threw in my Thanksgiving ham (Riley) and pushed it awkwardly through the grass, all the while maintaining my game face. A face I use to intimidate tween and teen boys (it works at the grocery store).

As we neared the gate, my heart raced. Would they bully my kids? Or worse, cuss in front of them and teach them poor grammar?! To my utter astonishment, a hush fell upon the group, one thug in a sideways hat and half-rubbed off neck tattoo, said, “Watch yo mouth, yo.”

We stayed far away from them on one side of the park. But, from then on it was just the sound of wheels on the ramps. Yes, it was a little awkward and we (I) felt a little out of place, but the thugs left one by one. Turns out they were just killing time after school until their moms could come and pick them up for soccer practice (or to take them juvey, who could really know these days?)

Maybe Maize isn’t the ghetto town I once thought it was (remember when I referred to it as Compton? Slight exaggeration). Maybe I should stop judging books by the cover. Maybe tweens should quit saying bad words and sporting realistic-looking rub-on neck tattoos. Until either of those things happen (highly unlikely), I’ll go ahead and keep my game face on.

Can I work next Labor Day?

Ah. Labor Day. No Work Day. Family Day. Relax Day.

I made enough lasagna to last the winter (or about a week). Folded about 20 loads of laundry. Watched 3 episodes of Orange is the New Black. Played ball with Riley. Vacuumed. Practiced my presentation and even wrote some stuff for Donnie.

When I realized this Labor Day seemed a bit laborious, I decided to sit down and relax.

But it’s tough to relax when…

My baby whines incessantly because he has four teeth coming in at the same time and I don’t know whether he’s hungry or he’s tired because he just woke up from his nap and is crying between bites of lasagna. The only time he’s happy is when he has a magnet in his mouth (should I be worried?).

And then I discovered that in the morning when I’d asked my 4-year-old to throw his laundry down the laundry shoot, he actually emptied all of the contents of his drawers down the laundry and that, that, was why the laundry pile was so mountainous. I look at the empty drawers, look down the laundry shoot, then back at the drawers. It looked as if most of those clothes were in the washer and dryer. Neat.

And then just as the night is about to wind down, the kids are literally getting in bed and my 9-year-old says she has homework. I tell her she has to wait until morning to do it because it’s too late and subsequently search her bookbag for other papers I might have missed. She sobs, “I don’t like people going through my bookbag!” Me: “I’m your mom.” Her: “You don’t understand me!”

I tell her to go make her lunch (10 min post bedtime) while I put the other delinquent into bed. At this point, he’s submissive. He’s already got his PJs on and teeth brushed. I kiss him goodnight and duck out of his room just in time to witness Anya staring at her crying self in the bathroom mirror. I try not to laugh. She apologizes, hugs me and heads to bed.

I think it’s more relaxing at work.

The B word

Not that B word. I’m talking about “Bully.” Although, at times, the other b-word could apply. I know the word Bully is being thrown around like crazy, but it applies here. I’m not saying we need to file a restraining order, I’m just saying… there’s this bully.

Anya is being picked on by a boy at school. I actually think he likes her but you wouldn’t think so by the way he talks to her. You definitely don’t call someone fat if you like them, right? (If you do, you’re doing it wrong).

I had a bad feeling when she saw her class list said “Great. So-and-so is in my class.” (She didn’t say so-and-so. I’m protecting the alleged from public scrutiny. As if he’d do my daughter the same courtesy.)

Anya’s been in school about a week and 3 out of 5 of those days, she’s come home complaining about So-and-so.

Day 1: She said, “Teacher told us to ignore each other.”

“That’s good,” I thought. Although if I were the teacher, I’d probably try to therapize it out (could be why I’m not a teacher).

Day 2: Anya said, “So-and-so kept screaming at me at recess so I told the teacher. We both got in trouble.”

Not sure about the method here. I’m guessing the teacher didn’t know who started it so, by default, it’s everyone’s fault.

Day 3: Anya said, “So-and-so is talking about me just loud enough so I can hear and quiet enough so the teacher can’t hear.” When I asked her what she did about it she said, “I just ignored him. I don’t want to get into trouble.” Me. “Did it work?” Anya, “No, he kept writing notes and throwing them on my desk. One said the M-F word.”

Me, “Ok, what the hell? I’ll calling his bitch-ass” (that’s where the other B-word comes in). If you’re wondering. No, I didn’t call him. Donnie reminded me that when he got bullied in school, his mom called the kids parents and they just went at it 10-fold. I definitely don’t want that.

So said to Anya, “What are you going to school for?”
She replied, “To learn.”
I said, “Then just focus on that. If he interferes with your ability to learn, let me know and we’ll talk to your teacher. Until then, just write it down in your journal when he torments you.”

I figured, if we do talk to the teacher, I want to have documentation of these events, rather than just emotional recounts, you know, in case we need to file a restraining order.

Kids are worth it.

I know I sometimes seem overwhelmed, irritated and stressed by my kids. I know I post about it a lot on here. In case you aren’t a parent, parenting is hard. It’s irritating. It’s stressful. You will constantly feel overwhelmed and helpless.

Today one of my friend’s 14-year-old daughter died in a car accident. I was at the park when Blendra text me. I was actually mid-sentence yelling at Anya that she needed to do a better job playing with Logan.

I gasped.

I put my hand over my mouth and I put myself in my friend’s shoes. It was a scary place to be. Sad. (RIP Aubrey Mcneill)

I scoured Facebook for details but there were none yet just nearly a hundred people flooding her Facebook page with prayer and well wishes (the official announcement had not been made yet). I posted a “sorry” message and put my phone back in my purse.

I went back to play with my kids. After all, that’s what I think I should take away from this. I can’t focus on the what-ifs and worry about my kids. If anything, this unfortunate, extremely sad circumstance reminded me that I should be enjoying my kids more.


And as I slowly drove (with my flashers on) behind my scooter-riding kids to another playground at the park, I didn’t care one bit that other drivers were annoyed, shaking their heads and flipping me the bird (one lady even honked).

As I watched my kids scoot (is that the right verb?), I thought of how much fun they were having and that me dealing with the “distractions” was worth every second.

Allergy medicine or child sedation?

Stupid allergies. Stuffy nose, ear ache. I’ve had a sore throat for a month… and a HALF. Doc told me to take Benedryl at night before bed. She made the comment, “Usually I don’t recommend sedation but you’re an adult and this will help during all this rainy weather.”

So I grabbed the packet and read the warnings, looking for something like “instant sedation.” (I don’t take medicine too often.) I came across this:

Do people really do that?? Not to be all judgmental but, yeah I’m judging you, people who sedate their children! There’s got to be another way (like, I don’t know, parenting).

Well, I guess at least one person has sedated their child with Benedryl. That’s scary and it made me a little sad. But not sad enough to not take any. I mean, I’d had a sore throat for a month… and a half, I was desperate.

My friend’s dad

I have a friend. My friend has never had a good relationship with her dad. Growing up, he was really strict. She felt she couldn’t talk to him at all, about anything. He gave away very little in the way of affection. She still tried her best to impress him; trying to go above and beyond anything he’d ever expected from her. But how was she to know? He never told her what he expected from her. Other than quiet in the backseat.

As she got older, she still tried to please her dad. Telling him about her goals met and achievements earned. He’d shrug, “So you graduated Cum Laude? You know your cousin graduated Magna Cum Laude, right?”

Now that she’s an adult, she doesn’t even bother sharing anything with him. Well, sometimes. Other times (when she’s feeling extra proud of something), she’ll say “Check out this height ruler I made for the kids!” Then he’ll respond with something like, “You know people sell those at our craft shows.” Then she’ll wink and say something like, “Mine’s better though, right dad?” Confused, he’ll say, “Why is yours better?” Still undeterred, she’ll respond with, “You know? Because I made it.” He says matter-of-factly, “Those people make theirs too and theirs are good enough to sell.”

Then, she’ll say she’s never sharing anything with him again, ever. Then, she may drink her dinner and angrily vent to her husband, who’s come to expect it.

After all the drinking, and all the venting, and all the anger, she’ll get over it. And she’ll probably try again, relentlessly chasing the “I’m proud of you” she’s been looking for, for 31 years.

8 Seconds, Circle of Fear and Ball Stomping

We went to a bull-riding competition last night!
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Before last night, the closest I’d been to a rodeo was watching Luke Perry get his balls stomped on by a bull in 8 Seconds. Damn, that’s a good movie. Mental note: Watch 8 Seconds again.
If it weren’t for those many, many hours watching 8 Seconds in my pubescent years (I was in love with Luke Perry at the time), I wouldn’t have had any bull-riding knowledge at all.. For example, that they have to stay on the bull for at least 8 seconds to get a score and also, how they get those bulls to buck. Spoiler alert: It has to do with their balls… Let’s just say it’s not nice. Maybe that’s why the bull in 8 Seconds stomped on Luke Perry’s balls? The bull’s all “Pay back, mutha-fucka.”

The actual bull-riding competition was very, very cool to watch. Mainly, I was concerned for the riders when they got bucked off. About every 8 seconds, I gasped and put my hand over my mouth, thinking “That’s what happened to Luke Perry in 8 Seconds!” It wasn’t really though, no one got hurt too badly.
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We decided we’d leave after the “short program.” I’m not sure why they called it that because it had been 2 hours already. Doesn’t seem short to me.

At the end of the not-so-short short program, they announced sort of an intermission entertainment called Circle of Fear. Or as I like to call it: Circle of Organ Donors. Basically, they brought out 9 volunteers from the audience who could stand their ground inside a hula hoop against a bull. Last man (or woman) standing wins $100! Even the bull riders jumped on the fence when the bulls were near. I’m guessing you had to be all kinds of inebriated to participate, but they got 9 volunteers! I was intrigued. It felt like we were in ancient times watching gladiators who are set up to pretty much fail. Internally, I questioned the morality of this entertainment, but we watched anyway.

The 9 hoops lay in a circle in the arena. The first volunteers went to the back of circle furthest away from the gate and were commended by the announcer for such a wise decision. It seemed as if some of the volunteers had backed out because they were asking for 2 more volunteers and upped the prize money to $200. The only woman to volunteer occupied the last circle (closest to the gate). I’m not sure she knew what she was in for but I’m guessing her last words before she entered the arena were, “Here, hold my beer.”

Check out this video. The chick is right in the middle of the screen. If you listen closely, you may be able to hear me yell, “OHMYGOD!”

Donnie’s phone died right after this but basically the bull pretty much bull-dozed everyone. They started crouching down at the end which seemed like a good strategy at first but the bull would just run right over them increasing the ball-stomping chances. The last guy who got bull-dozed stared down the bull for at least 10 seconds without flinching, once he flinched though, the bull charged. I thought for sure his balls were a gonner, but he hopped right up! It was awesome! To me, he was the real winner. But… the guy who crouched in his hula hoop last won the $200.

First bull-riding experience= win. Maybe next time I’ll join the Circle of Fear.


A walk! A walk! Oh Boy! A walk!

Lately, I’ve been feeling really bad for Maggie, our black lab (or Donnie’s black lab when she pukes on the floor). Maggie’s been really down lately. The past few weeks, we’ve been so active, it’s like our house has revolving doors.

Tonight, I decided to take Maggie with us on our walk. She knew it too. It’s like she could read my mind! Or maybe it was the jingle of her leash. She perked up –  did that run in place thing they do in cartoons – and ran to me. Jumping and spinning and jumping and tap dancing around. She was so excited I worried she’d be bouncing around in her own puddle of excitement (if you know what I mean).

I wish I got as excited about anything as Maggie does about walks.

Logan manned his scooter and declared, “I’m going speed-fast the whole way!”
I replied (effectively deflating his bubble), “As long as Mommy can see you, you can go as fast as you want.”

I loaded Riley up in the stroller and we were off.

Halfway to the first sidewalk (about 10 feet), Maggie veered (drunken with excitement), cuts me off and I run her over with the stroller, Yipe! The handle bar jabs me in the ribs. Ouch!

“Well, I hope you learned your lesson Maggie.” As if she knows what “lesson” means, or “learned,” or “hope”. She got the message though. It’s all in the tone.

Maggie went on to cut me off about 5 more times over the 2 mile walk. She’s was just too excited (and she can’t hide it.)

About halfway, Maggie started getting tired. This was my favorite part, because she started falling in line. However, fatigue didn’t stop her from trying to beat Logan. (She’s very competitive). So now she’s walking straight, on the sidewalk like a good dog, but she’s picked up her pace. I’m doing that hip swing, speed walking you see only in the Olympics and at the mall on weekday mornings. In hindsight, I coulda picked it up to a jog.

We speed-walked past a couple of women. I waved awkwardly. Although, It looked more like I was swatting at a fly. I didn’t want to let go of either the leash or the stroller for very long. One woman called out, “Looks like you got a motor on that stroller.”

I tried to think of a clever comeback but only “YYYep,” managed to escape to my mouth as Maggie’s leash somehow disconnected from her collar. In seconds, Maggie was bathing in the nearby pond scum with what appeared to be a smug smile on her dogface. Me? I stood there, at a halt, holding a dog-less leash and looking dumbfounded .

Logan laughed.

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Maggie swam laps as the kids at the park giddily yelled, “Doggy, doggy!” but then screamed when she shook her pond scum at them. Ha!

Maggie’s swim was the perfect end to her favorite thing the world. She calmly walked the rest of the way home. Dripping all the way.

Logan: a bully?!

Yesterday, Donnie got a call from Logan’s daycare. Uh-oh. They told Donnie that Logan had “pushed a toddler to the ground and was holding ‘it’ down. (yes, they referred to the child as it) And then when we told him to apologize, he laughed about it.”

What? Not my Logan! Logan is incredibly non-violent. It’s not just mom goggles either, I can get written testimonials from his past teachers who would call him “a teddy bear” and “very loving.” So you can imagine my shock when the daycare lady then asked Donnie, “Does Logan hit your baby?” Logan? Hit? Baby? OMG, I was livid.logancowboy

Upon my insistance, Donnie went up to the daycare to get the whole story. After talking to Logan, who said, “The little kid was in my way and I was trying to go first,” Donnie talked to the lady who called him. He told her he didn’t appreciate the assumptions she made about Logan’s character, making him out to be some sort of baby-beater. Then he said, what really happened? She didn’t know. She wasn’t there. “But you can wait here for the teacher.” Donnie waited.

When Logan’s teacher got back from lunch she explained the whole thing:

Logan’s class went to a water park. The kids were all running through one of the tunnels and there was a 2-year-old in a tunnel. Rambunctious like he is, Logan pushed his way around the child. As he was getting passed, the toddler’s mom (suddenly realizing her 2-year-old was in the tunnel clearly labeled 5-8 years old) starts screaming “DON’T TOUCH MY BABY!!!” Logan freezes. His hand still resting on the toddler’s arm (caught redhanded, if you will). The mom, hysterical (with her mom goggles) yells at Logan and grabs her kid. She demanded Logan apologize to her. Logan just stood there. Then he sorta started smiling, probably because he was embarrassed. 

Logan’s teacher was empathetic with him. She said, “He was being a boy. They were racing. He should been more careful, yes. But the little one should not have been in the tunnel. That toddler’s mom made the whole situation much worse. And, I could tell Logan felt bad when he was put on the spot by her.”

Well, at least someone has Logan’s back. That front desk lady might have thrown Logan under the bus the first chance she had. B-word.


Don’t call my daughter beautiful

If you read the title of this post, you would probably infer that I’m jealous of my gorgeous daughter. NOT true! Maybe a little. Just kidding. (Or am I?) Read on…
I took my daughter with me to a family event recently. I walked her around and introduced her to all my friends. Several of whom commented, “Oooh you’re so pretty” or “You’re beautiful!” Anya was beaming, grinning from ear to ear. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Everyone likes compliments (except maybe Blendra). It may have been my imagination but I’m pretty sure she began to strut a little after that. Oh sheesh, here we go. I overheard one woman say “You are so tan, you must play outside a lot.” Anya responded “Not really, this is my natural skin color.” OMG, she did NOT just say that.

It’s not that I really mind that people tell her she’s gorgeous – or any of my kids for that matter. I mean, they are cute, but that’s beside the point.

I don’t want Anya to think that being pretty is an accomplishment. “There, I did it. I was born. I played the genetic lottery and did quite well. So now I’m going to ride that wave until someone marries me for my looks and then when I lose my looks he’ll divorce me and I’ll be alone and only then (when it’s too late) will I realize that maybe I had something else to offer besides good looks.” Seems a little farfetched, eh? Well, this is how moms think.

I know. I know. At her age, it’s a little unrealistic for me to expect people to say things that may boost her confidence in other areas. I mean, if you don’t know anything about someone, it’s difficult to compliment them on anything past the cover of the book. So, for now, I (and, of course, Donnie) will continue to comment on her work ethic, creativity, etc…, rather than say, how well her molecules are formed.

Logan goes to the dentist.

Logan had his first dentist appointment yesterday. It was hilarious. He was so stone-cold and shy.

Dentist to Logan: How old are you?
Logan: (Nothing. Not even a glance in her direction).

Dentist to Logan: Does Mommy help you brush your teeth?
Logan: (Nothing. Not even a glance in her direction).

Dentist to Logan: Do you like those birds in the window? (where he was averting his glance)
Logan: (Nothing. Not even a glance in her direction).

Logan knew he was there to have his teeth looked at, so he kept his finger in his mouth the entire time he was in the chair. Almost as an extra security measure to make sure his teeth remained in his mouth throughout the appointment.

The dentist had to pry his tight lips open to see his teeth, but let him keep that finger there. It was almost as if his finger was the pin to a grenade. Pull that pin, and we all knew what could happen.