Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Are They All Yours?" and Other Things I'm Asked as a Mom of Six

Today, a teacher overheard me talking to my friend about my kids’ grades. “Three of them made honor roll, two are in college and I’m not sure what their grades are yet, and one … well, we just won’t talk about him right now.”
“You have six kids?” she asked, incredulously.
I shrugged and gave her my standard response: “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Kids’ Idea of Self-Expression Looks a Lot Like a Mistake to Me

“Look at that guy,” my son whispered to me as we passed a heavily tattooed man with enormous gauges in his ears, piercings on his lips, nose, and eyebrows, and a blue Mohawk. Part of me wanted to respond with, “Wow! What a freak show!” But the mechanism in my brain that keeps me from blurting out things or swearing at bad drivers in front of my kids responded nonchalantly, “Yep, that sure is some blue hair, huh?”


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

You Just Might Have a Teenager If . . .

Four of my six kids are teenagers. Do you understand the magnitude of that statement? I have FOUR TEENS in my house right now! FOUR! I think I deserve a medal for that. Or a nap. Yes, a nap would be nice. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I absolutely love the goofiness of them, but it’s almost like parenting toddlers all over again. Maybe they no longer melt down if I do something as evil as putting ketchup on their hotdogs, or making them wear shoes when we go to the store, but they certainly have unexplained moodiness and attitudes that occasionally make me wonder if they had lobotomies when I wasn’t looking.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Who Promised Us We Could "Have It All?"

I read a piece written by Babble’s Suzanne Jannese, Jennifer Garner Nails What’s Wrong with the Work-Family Balance in America. In it, she makes the point that society still expects the woman to do all the juggling and compromising needed to raise a family while dad can go about his business of bringing home the bacon with little worry about childcare and running a household. I understand what she’s saying. Families have changed over the years, but attitudes about roles within the family haven’t kept up. I get it. She makes some valid points in her article. What I don’t get is this – who ever said that having a family would be easy? Where do we get the idea that we are all inherently entitled to balance? Why is juggling and compromise seen as a bad thing? Why do people believe they deserve to “have it all?”


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Does a Teen Have a Right to Their Privacy?

Last night, I watched the movie Blended. At one point, single mom Lauren (played by Drew Barrymore) goes on a blind date. Her son questions her about her date, asking her things that he could only know if he’d read her email. Realizing that her son had invaded her privacy and looked in her computer, she talks to him about the importance of respecting privacy. A little later, while gathering laundry from under her son’s bed, Lauren discovers a bikini-clad centerfold with a picture of their babysitter’s head taped over the model’s face. Shocked and disgusted, she rips the page to shreds. However, her conversation about respecting privacy comes back to haunt her and she instantly regrets tearing up the picture. Which leads me to the question – is it important to respect your child’s privacy (especially if you expect him to respect yours) or, as a parent, do you have the right, or even the responsibility, to invade your child’s personal space to monitor what he’s doing?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Little Halloween Celebration for the Younger Set

My kids and I haven't had cable TV for years. It's not that I don't like TV, but it's just so darn expensive! I haven't been able to justify spending money on cable TV when my kids and I spend more time at their sporting events than we do at home, and don't really have much time to watch TV anyway. We do, however, have Netflix. It's inexpensive and it puts some of my kids' favorite shows and movies right at our fingertips. We have a family movie night several times a month. When Netflix asked me if I'd like to be part of their Stream Team and talk about the movies and shows we watch on Netflix, I happily agreed because it's something we do anyway.

My older kids like binge-watching shows like The Walking Dead and Orange is the New Black. My younger ones enjoy watching Phineas and Ferb, Good Luck Charlie, and The Wizards of Waverly Place among others. I personally like watching chic flicks and old movies like Roman Holiday, Sabrina, While You Were Sleeping, It Could Happen to You, and Sleepless in Seattle.

This week, my older kids went to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. That is way too scary for my younger kids (and me too!) so we stayed home and had our own little pre-Halloween celebration! We watched Curious George Halloween Boofest which was more to my liking than having zombies jump out at me! And my kids helped me to make these adorable desserts to enjoy while we watched our favorite monkey!

I hollowed out some oranges and carved little jack-o-lantern faces on them. My kids filled them with ice cream and put gum drop "stems" on them.

I realized that you need to serve them right away or it will look like they're throwing up chocolate ice cream. My kids, however, thought that barfing jack-o-lanterns were pretty cool.

Curious George Halloween Boofest with my Littles and barfing jack-o-lantern desserts while snuggled up on the couch! Who could ask for a better evening?

Monday, October 13, 2014

15 Crazy Get-Out-of-Work Excuses Only a Parent Could Use

I have to leave work to meet the plumber so I can find out which kid flushed what down the toilet.

I read a rant on Facebook that struck a nerve with me. The tirade was written by a random person who was complaining about parents who miss work because of their kids. “It isn’t fair!” she whined about her breeding counterparts. “Why should they get a day off just because their kid is sick or has some assembly at school? 

Yeah, that’s it. We parents just sit around and think of ways to get out of work. We like worrying about losing our jobs. It’s fun wondering if we’ll have enough money to pay the bills this month if we miss a couple days. And really, there’s nothing more enjoyable than feeling like we’re horrible parents when we’re forced to choose work over our kids (or even when we merely consider choosing work.) 


Sunday, October 12, 2014

This, my Friends, is Online Dating

my last blind date
Since all my friends on Facebook have been stalking the guy I'm dating and asking me where we met, I figured I'd explain here. Although I was very tempted to create an entertaining story of how we met that does not include online dating in any way, shape, or form, I opted for the truth. I met him online. Now I know that sounds pretty lame, but it was actually quite an adventure. Before I met Frank, I had to weed though 300-some emails from men who are single for a very good reason. Don't believe me? Here are a few of the emails I received from guys on the dating site. They are copied and pasted, word-for-word, with no editing, here. I don't know why, but when a potential date can only come up with - Hey hot stuff, for an introductory email, I feel the need to bang my head against the wall (and then blog about all the idiocy and social ineptness out there.)

Really? That's the best you can do?

See above.

hi there

Hello beautiful
Wow again.

Hi how r u..
I'm speechless.

Hey hows it goin?
Is this rhetorical?

Hi how are you?
I give up.

Hi there. How are ya?
:::banging my head against the wall:::

Hi beautiful. How are you? I am Billy. I would love to meet you.
Well, you might want to meet a stranger based on nothing more than a profile picture, but I make it a habit not to meet anyone who addresses a stranger with "Hi beautiful."

So sexy
That's almost a complete sentence. Keep trying.

I adore your smile you are awesomely beautiful my name is Karl what is yours and your favorite color
Hi my name is Dawn it's nice to meet you my favorite color is pink and my hobby is trying to decipher writing that doesn't contain any punctuation.

You seem like a real spitfire. 
Uh thanks?

How do you like online dating?
I like it a little less with each email I receive.

Yep you're quite hot
Gee, thanks. It IS Florida in August, after all.

just a quick message
Yes? I'm listening. Oh wait, you mean that was the message?

I am a recent FL transplant From CO (native) Looking to meet some new people and make new friends. I would like to know if you would be interested in setting up a date sometime for dinner, drinks or a cup of coffee to get to know each other better let me know what your schedules like and let's see if we can't set something up.
You're asking for a date and giving me your phone number in your first email to me. Either you're some sort of sociopath who wants to make a suit out of my skin or you're selling something. Surprisingly, I'm not interested in either.

Can you turn those eyes off? It's like cheating!!!
And this, kids, is why you should never do drugs.

Grew up in a house full of kids knew right wear your coming from
You were educated in Florida, weren't you?

we would look great together !!! :- )
Well, now that's a matter of opinion.

i agree
That's great! Wait, what?

Okay where to start. Here's a little something about me and what you could except. When it comes to a relation honesty and trust are key. I consider myself a gentlmen and will treat you like a lady. Looking for someone to enjoy eachothers company and hopefully lead to a future together. I have quite the busy schedule do I perfer to plan although I don' t mind being spontatious. Enjoy making people laugh, good convertsation, good food, music and out door activities.
Okay, where to start? Thank you for all this information I didn't want. Also, thank you for helping me to practice patience and restraint because my first inclination was to correct all your errors and send this back to you with a big red, D- scrawled across the top.

Good morning mom.
Mom? Don't tell me my kids are doing online dating!

how's the laughing going
How's the learning to write an email going?

Hey sweetie!..your eye's keep catching me everytime is shown...have to say hello again..i'm Gregg..your looking right through me!....
Oh, I'm looking right through you, alright.

very, very funny....... :)
My profile is funny? Or my pictures are funny? Or your attempt at an introductory email is funny?

Hello, im stephen
We breaking up already?
It's been a while since I've dated, but I'm pretty sure you have to have a relationship before you can break up, and since this is your very first email to me . . . You know what? Yes, yes we're breaking up.

Beautiful eyes...and that's no joke...
Oh, I'm glad you specified! I almost laughed out loud at your compliment! Whew! Faux pas averted!

Good Afternoon my beautiful queen. When I first saw your profile, all I could say was WOW a beautiful queen that knows how to write and get straight to the point lol
I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Go Pack Go
Yep, that's how to win a Chicagoan; talk about the Packers.

You look lovely .. and your funny . I like your eyes cheers randy
My funny what? What are eyes cheers randy?

Hello there, wanted to let you know as I've been swimming around this big ole sea its easy to swim right on by most of the fish. And the bright flashes of some catch your attention and after closer examination many are nice enough but not quite what I'm looking for. But for a barracuda life on the reef is waiting for that one combination of brilliance and looks evident at once to swim by. So when prowling the shoals what should arrest my attention, but an auburn haired beauty that reached thru the masses and grabbed me instantly. So what say you gorgeous, then but repent and I shall speedily whisk you up in my strong arms and share our blended lives together.
Sincerely Your
How exactly would one go about obtaining a restraining order?

How long does a guy have to know you before you show him your blog?
Ah, but then I wouldn't be able to write about all my awful dates. And let's not underestimate the possibility of a potential date finding the post I wrote about my colonoscopy. I'm pretty sure I'd have a hard time looking someone in the eye, knowing he'd read the details of my explosive diarrhea.

Very beautiful
Hello and how are you? You have very beautiful eyes..
Hi beautiful would love to find out if your heart is as beautiful as you
Very attractive lady
Just wanted to compliment you on your eyes. Very Niiiice!!! Joe
You're gorgeous
You're gorgeous..will u marry me :-)
Wow are sure are strikingly beautiful!
you have amazing eyes
great profile very beautiful woman
You are gorgeous!
you are beautifull
I'm in love with your eyes
your eyes are something else
Wow, you are simply stunning. Tim
You look absolutely Breathtaking! Matthew
Hi, my name is Don. How are you?
Wow. What a pretty lady. : )
very pretty
Dear every single guy who has written something along the lines of the above emails, stop. Just stop. Please, for the love of God, stop! Try reading the profile. Find something else to comment on, something of substance, anything else. Thank you.

This is merely a tiny fraction of the insanity that's out there, my friends. Suddenly your husband's dirty laundry on the floor doesn't seem so bad, does it? When faced with this dating pool, your spouse's incessant football-watching is no longer that big of a deal, is it? So when I got Frank's email which sounded normal and sane, AND referenced The Brady Bunch and Seinfeld, I had to respond. That was over a month ago. We haven't stopped talking since.  :)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Stepdad Requirements

The other day, as we were getting ready for school, Brooklyn asked me if she would ever have a stepdad. She proceeded to give me a list of her requirements for a potential stepdad. When I got home from work, she immediately asked me, "Did you find me one?"

"Find you one what?"

"A stepdad!" (Duh!)

"In the 8 hours I was at work?! Uh, no. No, sweetie. Not quite yet."

I asked her to repeat her requirements for a stepdad because I thought they were funny. Here she is . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

And the Short Guy Laughed

Friday evening, I was sitting in my family room and I heard the noise that indicates my kids have turned on the water outside. I yelled out the back door to the kids, “Stop playing with the water! You have 10 minutes before you need to come in and get ready for bed.”

“We’re not playing with the water,” they all chimed.

“Well, just turn it off, please,” I instructed.

They insisted, “But we didn’t turn it on!”

I closed the door and listened more carefully to the sound that I had thought meant the water was running. I followed the noise through the kitchen and traced it to my refrigerator. Uh oh, I thought. My refrigerator is making really strange sounds! I opened and closed the doors a few times (like that was going to stop the sound and make everything okay.) Any technician would agree. “Well it was broken, but since you opened and closed all the doors, you fixed it!”

I decided I’d probably have to call someone to come look at it on Monday. In the meantime, I just plugged in my ear buds and cranked up The Psychadelic Furs. Voila! No more annoying noise.

At some point on Saturday, I asked Jackson to mow the lawn because I was pretty certain if he didn’t mow it soon, he was going to need a scythe just to clear a path to the front door. This is when we discovered that he couldn’t mow the lawn because a small lake had formed on the side of the house. You know, where the water was running. Where the water had been running full blast for nearly 24 hours straight. Yeah, there. Apparently I was right the first time. It wasn’t the refrigerator; it was the water spigot on the outside of the house.

I walked outside my house and was greeted with this sight.

I started hyperventilating, envisioning my water bill. I remembered my parents yelling at me for taking such long showers as a teen. “Do you want to pay the water bill?” they demanded. “You don’t need to take a 30 minute shower!” Ohmygosh, that was nothing compared to this!

I kept calm and tried to figure out the best way to go about stopping the leak. To an outsider, it may have looked like I was running around in circles, flapping my arms like Chicken Little, squawking, “My water’s leaking! My water’s leaking!” But I assure you, I was busy, using my cerebral cortex to formulate a logical plan for curbing the steady flow of water.

Thankfully, my level-headed friend told me to call the emergency number for the water department. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I called, explained my situation, and was informed that some guys were on their way over to check it out.

In the meantime, I figured I could keep the water from gushing out by screwing a spray nozzle onto the hose. I ran across the street (I didn’t actually run. I don’t do that. It’s an expression) to borrow one from my neighbor. I realized I’d have to screw the sprayer onto to the hose with the water rushing from the hose in a torrential stream. I’ll give you a minute to picture this. Yep. 

Me + hose + sprayer = me drenched from head to toe. Just as I realized the sprayer didn’t even fit on the hose, the guys from the water company showed up. They took one look at me, my wet hair stuck like seaweed to my cheeks, my tank top plastered to me, my shorts dripping down my legs, and started laughing. Well, the short guy laughed. A lot. The tall guy was all business.

“Uh yeah, I tried to screw this sprayer on the end of the hose. I didn’t work. It wasn’t one of my better ideas. Then again, it wasn’t my worst idea either,” I stammered.

The short guy laughed some more.

The tall guy screwed some sort of fitting onto the end of my hose. He didn’t get wet at all. Apparently the secret is to fold the hose in half, effectively crimping it and stopping the flow of water while screwing the fitting onto the end. The short guy looked at me as I wiped the mascara from my cheeks and attempted to smooth my dripping hair back off my face, and he laughed some more. Not liking the short dude.

In the end, the guys stopped the surge of water and left. I walked inside so I could change clothes before heading back to the football field. No sooner did I get upstairs than the doorbell rang. I ran back down and answered. The water guys stood there. “I’m sorry to bother you, but you know, instead of calling a plumber, you could just go to Ace and ask for a . . .”

I interrupted at this point. “Thank you, but I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’m pretty sure I can’t fix this, and I’m scared to go to Ace because I’m convinced the guys there all take bets on what crazy fix-it problem I’ll come up with next.

And the short guy laughed again.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

10 Reasons Why I Wish my Kids Grew up in the 80s

I’m proud to say I grew up in the 70s and 80s. Well, I’m not so proud of the plaid, flared pants I wore as a kid, but overall, I think it was a great time to grow up. Come to think of it, it’s pretty amazing that any of us from that time period even survived to adulthood – no seatbelts, second-hand smoke everywhere, heck, cigarettes for sale in vending machines! — running around outside by ourselves with no cell phones until dark, scorching-hot metal playground equipment positioned over asphalt and guaranteed to give you a concussion, 3rd-degree burns, and/or Tetanus, and lawn Jarts (which were basically little spears that children were supposed to throw in a target on the grass, but inevitably ended up impaled in some kid’s skull every summer).


image: flickr

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I’m a Parent. I’m a Teacher. How Back-to-School Is Putting Me at Odds with Myself

It’s back-to-school time — that most wonderful time of year when the backpacks don’t smell like sour milk, the pencils are sharpened, and the brains are like dry sponges just waiting to soak up all the knowledge their teachers can impart. As a parent, I yearn for this time of year. Don’t get me wrong — I really love spending time with my kids all summer. But when those last couple weeks roll along, it becomes clear that they need to get back to school — for everyone’s sanity!

For the past few years, however, instead of doing a little happy dance when August comes around, I have mixed emotions. Working in a middle school, I know that back-to-school time for my kids also means back-to-school time for me. And although it’s exciting to begin a new year and it’s refreshing to get back on a normal schedule, it can also daunting.

So I find myself conflicted inside. I approach the following same 10 back-to-school themes as two selves — two sometimes opposite, opposing forces — all within the embodiment of just one parent. I meant teacher. I mean person.


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