Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Costumes and Christmas Lists


Halloween costumes and Christmas lists are two things kids will obsess over at a frantic pace, nearly all year. You can drive across three states with a non-stop stream of babble gurgling from your backseat detailing either or both of these topics. Mind numbing doesn't even begin to describe it.

I figured when preparing for Easter that maybe discussing the upcoming Halloween and Christmas gifting seasons is a tad early. But just a tad. I declared many years ago that I will not entertain any discussions concerning Halloween until September. None. Zilch, nada. And I cannot accept any Christmas lists or magazines marked up for my reference until AFTER Halloween. One holiday at a time dammit!

We got the Halloween costume completed several days ago (a major feat for my procrastinating ass) and guess what was handed to me last night? A lego magazine marked up all of the fabulous Bionicles he wants for Christmas. I DON'T EVEN HAVE *MY* COSTUME FIGURED OUT!!!! We cannot have this conversation. Well, there wasn't a conversation at all - it was not so slyly slipped under my book. hint hint hint

Well the joke is on HIM! He's getting underwear for Christmas, so there!

Friday, October 30, 2009


I have circle of friends who gather every time a beauty pageant airs on TV. They wear their tiaras and feather boas and share platters and bowls of fattening food and, most importantly, pitchers of margaritas. Then they pick the contestants apart and squeal with laughter.

How rare they would land such a flub as the little girl from South Carolina wanting to get maps into the hands of the kids in South Africa!

But what do you do when your very own daughter announces she wants to enter a pageant? Of course you ooze supportive sentiments and keep your doubts hushed up and quiet. I mean how can she compete against girls who have had years and years of experience of toddling around with vaseline on their teeth and duct tape on their boobs?

That was exactly the situation when my daughter proclaimed that she wanted to run for Miss Missouri. It came with a hefty entry fee that she managed to scrounge up through various sponsorships. A friend offered her a fabulous dress for competition and she mustered enough tanning bed trips to hide her lily white skin.

I sat in the audience that night, holding hands with my mother in a white knuckle clutch. We were in awe of actually being at a real beauty pageant. She and I had spent many years bonding over Pageant shows, not laughing at the contestants like my friends, but genuinely admiring the dresses and hairdos. And here we were at one live, with one of the contestants our own flesh and blood.

When she came down the stage stairs in an elegant glide, not tripping or stumbling like I would do, suddenly my eyes started streaming in nothing but pride. She was so beautiful, so graceful. We were sure she was well placed to actually win. It was devastating when her name wasn't called as a finalist, but she bounded out afterwards, tired but not dejected. It was a glorious experience, she said, and she landed a meaty scholarship to a school where she later found her calling.

Pageants come in many forms, not all of them for beauty queens. Amanda also ran for Miss Missouri for her favorite organization, Job's Daughters. This was more about her participation and knowledge of the organization as the winner would spend the next year promoting the group. This time she did place among the finalists, but no title. She came out of this one more dejected because she could really see herself winning. Just the same though, she came out with the most trophies and a killer smile.

Pageants can offer so much more than a tiara and title. Some come with scholarships, but they all offer an experience. A wise woman will take it for what it's worth and add it to her life resumé. Our job as parents is to clap like crazy and urge her on - neither of which is too difficult.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Great Pumpkin

So we're watching the classic Peanuts, The Great Pumpkin. My kids never got the glory of these old cartoons, the ones we middle agers continue to insist on watching with the same intensity as we did thirty years ago. I still moan when I miss the old Rudolph cartoons and my kids look at me cross-eyed.

I'm pretty sure a PowerRanger Reunion, a Pokemon Christmas Special, or something from the 1990's will make a come back in another 20 years and my kids will be all agog over it. The payback will be the dismayed look on my grandchildren's faces wondering what hokie crap is that? With any luck I can lure the little ones to the glory that is Snoopy and Rudolph and Frosty The Snowman while their delusional parents pant over the Japanese influence that ruined the cartoon world. Yes, that is a political stand - I do not like the new animation. Of all things I could possibly say, well... it looks... fake.

Oh well. Last night I pulled out an extra blanket for the bed, a twin sized one to cover me since my partner in crime is a walking furnace. It was covered in a faint print of Ariel, The Little Mermaid. A deep sigh, remembering this to be the prized blanket of a little girl decked out in Little Mermaid paraphernalia from head to toe. The child who watched the VCR tape a million times before I finally viewed it from beginning to end in one sitting. That was a little surreal, being able to quote a movie I was watching for the first time. Maybe this will be the treasured cartoon of one of my children?

Things come and go, trends fade away. But we fiercely cling onto those happy remnants of our childhood. We try to share their glory, but the retelling is never as good as the actual experience. So the memory lingers in our mind and we are sad that another generation will never understand sympathizing for broken toys on a stray iceberg or the sheer anticipation of the song "Kiss The Girl".

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pink Eye

My kids are past the pink eye days, but lo and behold I've managed to get the nasty disease. It's forced me to take off work (yes that IS the cause of tears streaming down my face, not the infection... riiiiight). I don't miss having sick kids, but I do somewhat miss having random days off because of sick kids - you know what I'm talking about, right?

It took me a while to figure out the source of the contagion, but sometime this morning I recalled using a computer at the library on Saturday and touching my face. I know better. I work on computers for a living and just last week pleaded at the monthly staff meeting for my coworkers to wipe down their laptops with antiseptic wipes because when they get sick *I* get sick. Total self preservation there. After using a public computer I should have gone directly into the restroom and washed my hands. But I didn't and I'm pretty sure I wiped something off my face. After touching my face I always manage to remember my mother admonishing me when she showed up at my job at Taco Bell twenty odd years ago, you know in that screwed up way that mothers do just to embarrass you, and her pointing out that I touch my face a lot. I can't remember this motherly advice/observation/social embarrassment BEFORE I touch my face. No, always after. And thus, I infect myself with something crusty and gross in my eye. Lovely.

As I lay on the couch I think of sick days from school. It's mandatory that sick days are spent on the couch. Well I assume such for the entire world, but maybe it's just my family. You're really super sick if you can't even get out of bed. My ever so helpful mother would leave a pot and a wooden spoon to serve as bell if the invalid needed anything. In retrospect I'm sure my mother intentionally never obtained a real bell because she would be forced to do bodily harm to the first of us miscreants to ring it out of pure amusement... or need... whichever.

Since none of us had acquired the taste for tea, she would make jello and make us drink it hot. In case you have never had the pleasure, it is sweet. Too sweet. And when you vomit, it adds unnecessary color. I'm sure that last detail was also unnecessary, but the world needs to know. In case. Drink your tea and be glad of it!

With my own sickly children, they also got to drive the couch, but no banging device as everyone is right there anyway. A few times I even made the evil hot jello for them, but they fortunately LIKE tea and quickly opted out of grandma's tonic, waiting, instead, for it to set up and eat it like proper American children. I do insist that my kids drink orange juice when they are sick. They choke it down like troopers and pretty much avoid the stuff the rest of the time. I swear by it.

As I talk to friends and coworkers, I discover that not everyone is privy to the restorative powers of driving the couch, watching Scooby-Doo, eating jello and sipping orange juice. They were forced to stay in bed and drink broth, or worse, tough it out and go to school/work.

So what was the sick day options when you were growing up, and what do you offer to your own children?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

School Pictures

By now most of the kids across the country have had their school pictures taken. And so we wait for the outcome. Will they even be presentable to share with family or do we need retakes? Personally I block out that pictures are even due to come in and am totally surprised when the kids pull them out of the backpacks.

Of course with my bouts of A.D.D. having me forget that picture day is even coming up in the first place, I remember about three hours after the kids left for school that I should have given them the once-over before letting them out the door. It was several years after the fact that we noticed that my son, Keith, wore the same version of shirt THREE years in a row. Granted it wasn't the same exact shirt, but it does leave one with the thought that he's a huge St. Louis Blues fan.

Then there are the pictures the kids HATE. My daughter, Amanda, detests that she's missing teeth in this picture. Personally I adore it.

What do you do about pictures where the kid refuses to smile? Again, I find these priceless - these are me in first grade and Ian in Kindergarten.

And then finally the one that elicits commentary from the grandparent gallery, "you really should see if they can touch that up" Come on, she got a hold of stamper. It captures the time in the child's life when stamps and stickers MEANT something. Again, I find it priceless - my mom, not so much

So what treasured school pictures are in your stash? Any crossed eyes or tongues sticking out? Stray hair or food dribbles?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Crazy Kids

My mother has a load of stories about my youngest brother with some really off the wall "stunts."

When my brother was learning to walk he did the strangest bear crawl with both hands and feet on the floor as well as his HEAD! And it left a lovely rug burn on his forehead that caused strangers to ask about his accident - no accident, just a dumb crawling position. He had a respiratory problem since birth requiring that mom to be vigilant about keeping his airways clear. One night she was cleaning out his nose and started pulling out goopy green gunk, thicker than anything she had ever seen before. She took him to the doctor the next day who was also stumped by the strange substance coming out of the child's nose. It turns out that my brother had dismantled a green sponge and shoved it's bits and pieces up his nose! He was the one as a teenager who thought it would be fun to ride his bicycle off a store loading dock... and breaking his arm in the process.

Likewise, my youngest son carries a unique resume. He has been caught holding a wiffle ball bat in proper form in front of the Christmas Tree. He stood in front of my lit three wick candle, singing Happy Birthday... of course he blew out the flames. One day while on the phone with a friend, Ian was investigating the new entertainment center and managed to get his body stuck inside one of the cabinets. He has dropped pennies into a fax machine and cottonballs in a VCR.

One Christmas I was standing in the basement, jolted by a crashing sound sending me flying up the stairs to find the two older children standing on the couch, flatted against the wall with eyes wide as saucers. On the floor in front of them was the Christmas Tree splattered on the ground and two little feet decked out in TellyTubby slippers sticking out like the Wicked Witch under Dorothy's house. None of the children have ever been able to explain exactly how the tree came to land on top of Ian. A couple ornaments were lost in the great Christmas Tree crash, as well as the tree stand. After sweeping up the mess, we left the decorated tree in the prone position until we were able to package it all up the next day. My youngest, not daunted by a killer tree, was later found at the base of the tree, turning the broken stand as if it were a steering wheel. *sigh*

There has to be something about youngest children, or is it youngest sons, that manage the most off-the-wall stunts. I mean if it were the first child doing these things, she would be an only child, right?

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I'm not an expert, just a survivor. I don't promise solutions or even advice (although I do love to dole it out), but a place to find someone else who will say "hey, I've done that too!" or "I've been there". Knowing you're not alone in this crazy journey of parenting is sometimes just enough.

I have three children - a daughter 21, a son 20 and another son 12. I am in the midst of round three of puberty (his voice is changing and he spends countless hours in front of the mirror willing his mustache to grow - when he can sprout something thicker than the women in the family then he can brag) and two college students muddling through the beginning of adulthood and it's various and not-so-fun dilemmas.

I thought I would start my first post wondering about crazy stunts kids pull. A messageboard friend lamented just a few days ago about her toddler dashing out of sight only to be found several frantic moments later gleefully sitting in the bathtub.

Ah yes, the climbing years! I remember them so fondly. Fortunately I had only a few climbing episodes with my kids. I've heard horror stories of little ones sitting on garages, stranded in trees and hiding in kitchen cabinets. My middle child had a thing for the bathroom sink.

So here is child #2 after climbing up on the toilet and into the sink on two different occasions in two different houses...
One teeters between dashing in there and scooping him up before he topples over or grabbing the camera for posterity. Clearly I had my priorities in order as I opted for the camera over child safety.

So what are your climbing stories? What odd and unsuspecting places have you found your children?