Tuesday, December 29, 2009



Another bad parent admission - my kids learned how to cuss from dear ol mom. Yep, I can out swear their bad boy biker, once-upon-a-time Marine daddy any old day.

So, I'm standing in the hallway of my dinky 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom "bungalow" doing the pee pee dance, begging my twelve year old to hurry the hell up. He even asked if I was doing the pee pee dance, meaning he was going to take his sweet ass time trying to torture me. I reminded him that I can and will get even.

"AUGH! That's NOT fair," he wails from the bathroom, still dawdling.

"Yeah, well life's a bitch," I inform him, "and so is your mother."

He giggles

And then I say, "you know... if your mother is a bitch... that makes you.........

a son of a bitch!"


"Mom, you're not right"


Now hurry up before I go pee in front of you

FINALLY, I get the bathroom. Geez. Whose stupid idea was it to move into a house with just one bathroom????

Monday, December 28, 2009

One Upping At Christmas


Christmas and Grandparents - a combination that just screams "SPOILED CHILD"

It's kind of cool to see the grandparents go gaga over the kids, to give to the grandchildren things they weren't able to do for their own kids. It also makes it easier for us wallet-strapped parents as we know we can get away with just buying practical and cheap stuff like underwear without totally screwing our kids out of an awesome Christmas experience. It's all fun and games until grandparent rivalry kicks in.

What your parents and in-laws co-exist without any such rivalry?



Here's how it rolls, my father-in-law (FIL) is allllllll about Christmas. He must have suffered one too many underwear-only holidays and goes way overboard. His house, I'm sorry, mobile home, is a tribute to ol' Saint Nick in the highest degree. His artificial tree comes out of storage as the Thanksgiving Turkey is cleared from the table. It's lit up with antique ornaments and his house is draped in garland from room to room. The presents gush out from under his lush tree filling his tiny living room. He answers the phone in a HO HO HO merriment from Thanksgiving to New Years.

Then there's my mother. She is the shopping queen finding everything on sale in February and stockpiles her load. It would be a total shame if one of the other grandparents gave more gifts to her adorable grandchildren. So the race is on. Christmas lists are requested by late summer and she has shiftily taken note of what and how much was spent on the kids the year before.

One year, after a few spousal fights over the excessive back and forth trips between four or five households over Christmas we thought we could bring together my mother and his father for Christmas Eve festivities. You know killing two birds with one stone? I mean the two are friends for crying outloud, this is a no brainer! We were smacking ourselves on the forehead for not thinking of it sooner!


Take a close look at my livingroom. It's a large enough space, especially compared to father-in-law's place
There were presents from end to end, most from "santa" - some in my mom's handwriting, other's in FIL's handwriting, a bare minimum in my handwriting. Totally insane.

To add to the fiasco, my sister-in-law (SIL) and her two kids attended the soiree. She and my mom do NOT get along in the least, but were at least civil for the evening.

After hours of ripping open presents - oh, you know one present at a time was distributed and everyone had to sit and wait for it to be opened before someone else could open one - further extending the exhaustion of the evening. So as we neared the end, the big, cool presents were saved for last. And this is where the rivalry really showed. There was near armwrestling as to which grandparent got to have the grand finale. My mom relented and allowed FIL to go last. It was, in fact, a grand present... so grand I forgot what all it was.

OH but we weren't done! Oh no. That's right, my mom got in the last word after all and asked my spousal unit to go get the large items out of the back of her car. WHAT?

This grand finale I DO remember because it was so underhanded, so lame, and the gifts, so underwhelming. She bought the kids SHELVES. OOOOOOOHHHH bigass bookshelves.

That was the one and only time we combined Christmases between the grandparents. SIL insisted that she would never do it again because she felt like the whole emphasis was on my kids - it was. As we assured her, we wouldn't ever make that mistake ever again. It was so stupid and so exhausting. NEVER again.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sting Christmas

Every kid has one, that one singular must-have gift, the one that gets toted to the ends of the earth, sleeps in the same bed with the child and even sits at the dinner table. Every parent who bends to obtaining the cherished toy also fantasizes about hiding it for all eternity.

Keith's prized toy was Sting, the wrestler. His father had turned him onto professional wrestling almost from the point of me announcing my pregnancy with the child. Going down the toy aisle he would gravitate to the action figures so for Christmas 1992, Santa loaded up little Keith with not only wrestling action figures but also a wrestling ring!

Keith also found under the Christmas Tree a large doll resembling his favorite wrestler of all time, Sting!

Mr. Sting accompanied Keith EVERYWHERE. I insisted that Sting could not go into the store as the security guards would take him away, so Sting stayed behind in the car. He went on overnight stays at Grandma's and swam in the bathtub. I don't remember how long Sting stayed as Keith's constant companion, but it was well after Sting lost a lower portion of one of his legs. Eventually he was relegated to the lower depths of the toybox and a new toy took front and center.

What were the prized toys of your children?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Not Because I Love You

I just got off the phone with my older son finalizing plan for Christmas. I told him that if the roads are too gross not to come out. He accused me of being a Grinch.

Wellllll pardon me for not wanting to pry my ass off the couch on my day off to visit one of my children in the hospital - because I would feel obliged and shit. So don't screw up my day off.

Be safe dammit! And Merry Christmas!

Weather was indeed crappy and my children followed my instructions to call me if they didn't feel safe making the trip. Christmas has been postponed until New Years Day. I'm a tiny bit sad, but very proud of them doing the responsible and SAFE thing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mother-Daughter Over The Years


Being a person who thrives on being "involved" it's no wonder when my daughter joined Girl Scouts that I got sucked into being a co-leader. Of course it doesn't stop there, oh no, Linda and I, co-leaders of like mind (uh, actually we share a brain - she has the nice, benevolent side; I am, of course, owner/operator of the evil side) we got active at the neighborhood level. Who knows what stopped us from climbing the ladder to meddle at the district or council-wide levels?

Every year our neighborhood organized a Mother-Daughter camp weekend at one of the three council campgrounds. It was during the winter so we stayed in the heated cabins and got to use the commercial sized kitchens. We dutifully took our troop and their mothers for our first camp weekend and absolutely loved it. The following years, Linda and I weaseled our way onto the committee (actually we were coerced and being schmucks who can't ever say no we were called to duty). Our daughters, both named Amanda, also enjoyed being behind the scenes.

One of the arts and crafts activities was to decorate a picture frame and someone took polaroids of the mother-daughter duos. It was such a popular activity that we did it every year. Even after we parted ways with the Girl Scouts, Amanda and I have continued to snap pictures of the two of us smooshed up close.

Scanning the GS pictures are a little difficult as the scanner grabs the frame decorations, blurring the pictures. These are fun memories and I love seeing how she's grown from a little girl.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Leasburg Exit

Nothing like a flash from the past when cruising down the highway. Signs alerted us that the next exit would be Leasburg and suddenly I recall a little camp trip back in 1997.

Leasburg isn't a stop on the traintracks, not even back in the day. It looks like maybe there was a grocery once, but not any more. Beyond Leasburg is Keyes canoe rental - one of our annual haunts. That year, however, I had just given birth. Ian was all of two months old when I finally broke loose for a little vacay on the Huzzah and Meramec rivers. We took Amanda and Keith camping with my friend Booty and her daughter, forgoing the canoe trip because I am a total freak about my kids EVER getting near the Meramec River. EVER. I still shudder at the thought.

The plan was to camp and then meet up with friend Piranha and her family to help her parents move to Lake of the Ozarks. Baby Ian had spent the night at Grandpa's house, but Grandpa couldn't keep him for the entire weekend so Piranha was going to pick up Ian and bring him for the rest of the trip.

That was the plan.

Oh, did I mention that Ian was a puke monster for the first year of life? And totally incapable of sleeping for long periods of time? Basically he was a completely delightful baby.

So imagine Piranha's delight as she sat with her husband, twin seven year olds and her own brand new baby all of 2 weeks old at a gas station in the middle of nowhere BEFORE CELL PHONES, holding my cranky, crying, non-sleeping, puking baby. And me nowhere in sight.

For a really long time.

I'm not sure what led her to call my house to leave a message, however she was none too happy to have my then husband answer the phone. His happy ass was supposed to be pulling up at the gas station not answering the fricking telephone. Well he got an earful before he was able to explain that I was still coming to retrieve my cranky, crying, non-sleeping puking baby, that he had left the party early as he was feeling sick (that would be excessive drinking and overexposure to the sun).

Booty and I had misjudged our time, arriving a tad late to our meeting location. Piranha quickly handed over the car seat with my puking bundle inside. She also delivered a letter mysteriously written by my wee bundle of joy while staying at Grandpa's house. I am sooooo not kidding about that letter. I know I have it buried here someplace and one day will share it with the world. Sharing that letter with Piranha had us laughing so hard that she quickly forgave the extended stay at the gas station, sitting on cases of soda as she unsuccessfully rocked my cranky, crying, non-sleeping, puking baby.

Any time we pass the Leasburg exit and the now remodeled gas station, Booty, Piranha and myself will recount that miserable day.

Sunday, December 13, 2009



They fight. It's a fact of life. Pretty much every damn day. Actually EVERY damn day, multiple times a day.

My kids don't fight like I did with my brothers - that was brutal. The kids brand of fighting is more of taunting and teasing. Well, except the whole nut sack punching between the boys, but since they both think it's funny no harm is intended. And that is probably the whole gist of it, no harm is intended.

With two of them no longer living together, family get-togethers become boxing rings. I shouldn't be too surprised. Whenever I'm around my brothers we exchange all sorts of niceties as well. I hadn't seen one brother for a several years and his first comment to me was "you got fat". Without missing a beat I came back with "you got ugly".

It's all fun and it's bonding. Amazingly my kids are quite close. It's hard to remember watching my kids rip into each other, toss insults back and forth, smack and trip each other in passing. Then I remind myself that they really do like each other.
(Don't you just LOVE the snow boots? Yeah, she wore those all year long until she couldn't squoosh her foot inside it any more.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our Million Dollar Video


Sadly I don't have the video digitized, maybe one day I'll hook up the ol VCR to make the transition.

I remember standing in my mom's livingroom laughing so hard I was gasping for air. Actually EVERYONE was laughing so hard they were gasping for air. The snorts and squeaks made it even funnier so we were laughing at ourselves laughing.

In the middle of the floor was my son, my second child. He was all of eight months old and somebody (probably my mother) thought it would be "cute" to see his reaction to her musical stuffed Rudolph. She turned it on and set it down on the floor opposite of the baby.

It would take four steps, nod twice and then the nose would blink.

And baby Keith's eyes LIT UP. He wanted that blinking thing across the room BAD and started to commando crawl towards it. Every time Rudolph stopped to blink, Keith would stop crawling and flutter his feet. Uproarious laughter - awww, isn't this cute? Quick somebody grab the video camera!

To move things along we moved Rudolph closer, impatient to see what Keith would do. They were practically nose to nose and Keith refused to blink, captivated by the reindeer. As Rudolph would nod, so would Keith. Even more laughter.


Then, Keith propped himself up and latched onto Rudolph's nose with his mouth! As Rudolph would nod so would Keith's head. And when Rudolph's nose lit up, SO DID KEITH'S CHEEKS!

Funniest damn thing EVER!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Death Of A Christmas Tree


It happened one Christmas day back when my youngest was just a wee toddler. I was sure we had a future baseball star on our hands as he had been scolded for the umpteenth time not to swat the ornaments on mommy's pretty tree with his wiffle bat. Oh but he had perfect form and his father was quite proud, if only he would aim for something besides my precious tree.

We will never know exactly how it happened although the offending bat was later found at the scene of the crime. I was in the basement in quiet conversation with my husband when we heard a loud crash. We jolted up the stairs to find the Christmas tree splayed in the middle of the livingroom floor, our two older children standing on the couch plastered to the wall with wide eyes and a beseeching look that screamed "I didn't do it" and their little brother stranded UNDER the tree, little red TellyTubby slippers poking out in desperate kicks to be freed. I instantly pictured the Wicked Witch under Dorothy's house in The Wizard of Oz*.

Scrambling to lift the tree off our smooshed baby, we found he was quite alright, just a little shaken. We lost a few ornaments, but fortunately the tree is home to mostly plastic and fabric decorations. The tree stand, however, died. Since Christmas was over it didn't make any sense to try to find a way to rig it back into an upright position. We swept up the shattered pieces and then left the tree lying prone in the middle of the floor until we had more time to properly pack it up.

Later that day, the youngest was found behind the tree stand (still attached), turning it as if he were driving a big truck.

I totally failed to photograph a single portion of this epic tale. BAD MOM! BAD BAD BAD MOM!

*I type for shit and originally had "The Wizard of Ox". Typos of this magnitude truly amuse me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Sense of Direction Is Hereditary


Waiting for daughter to arrive at a meeting I get a call from her in near panic. I know this sound. She's lost again.

Me? I'm descended from homing pigeons. I'm not above getting lost or a little turned around, but with a little diligence and a few choice words I manage to get to my destination albeit a little late. But those moments are rare. More often than not, I know exactly where I am geographically. I definitely got this trait from my mother, the AAA Queen. She will proudly tell you that she can whip up a trip-tik with the map laid out on the counter facing the customer, upside-down to her, and perfectly wiggle that orange highlighter across the entire US of A!

The geography trait was passed down to my youngest son. I recall him chirping up from the backseat, barely able to talk, pointing out familiar landmarks. His siblings staring at him awestruck because THEY had no idea where they were. When Amanda finally had her drivers license I would send her youngest brother along for the ride just to make sure she could find her way home. And no, I am not kidding.

Amanda inherited her lack of direction from her father. I used to joke that he would get turned around in a cardboard box. It never failed to amuse me how he would be completely lost in a shopping mall - me totally secure, willing to place money, which end was anchored by Sears.

Keith got a mix of the two. He needs solid directions, but has managed his way around town. Only once have I received a frantic call as he took a wrong exit off the highway and landed in downtown St. Louis. And to be honest, I've made that mistake and it's not an easy one to undo. Between Google Maps and him rattling off street signs I finally got him to terra firma.

Amanda read street signs to me and while the streets were familiar, they weren't so familiar that I knew their intersections and I certainly couldn't discern which direction she was headed. She was following MapQuest which had directed her some fucked up way into the neighborhood. Had she called me to begin with I would have had her there in a total of three turns. Finally I asked, "is the sun on your left?"


"turn left." I told her major streets to look for and gave her right/left directions.

I really have NO clue where she was. It's too bad I've finished her Christmas Shopping because she really needs GPS.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Can I ever get a decent picture????????

Is it at all possible for my children to pose for a happy family picture? EVER?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fund Raisers


'Tis the season for schools, sports, clubs and churches to hit you up for their latest round of fundraising. The slick sheets of candy, cookies, wrapping paper and trinkets galore dazzle you just in time for holiday shopping.

Today I'm delivering live wreaths to my co-workers and collecting the last orders for butterbraids. It's never ending. And having three kids has meant multiple order forms overlapping left and right. At least I'm down to one child now, but that hasn't slowed the activity any - how the hell does that happen????

I know some people who flat out refuse to sell, buy, or even discuss fundraisers. In fact, I've had to tell a dejected child more than once that we just cannot participate - the project, whatever it was, could do just fine without me passing around that stupid sheet.

Some places have gone the short route of just asking the parents to donate $50 at the beginning of the year and be free of the fundraising hassle altogether. And trust me, I've plunked down well over $50 per child per year in buying crap from their fundraisers, so that really is a bargain.

But I like some of the stuff.

The wrapping paper is good, solid stuff. The cookie dough comes in cool buckets and tastes delightful unbaked. And our local fundraiser thing, TJ's Pizza, is the BEST EVER! Girl Scout cookies? Just go ahead and mark me down for 3 thin mints, 2 samoas, 1 peanut butter... better make that FOUR thin mints and THREE samoas and one peanut butter.

And having been the adult leader of a few groups trying to raise funds? Totally sympathetic to anyone else in the same shoes. It's like it's my duty to return the favor. I do try to be selective and only buy what I can use or gift and try really really hard not to order anything out of guilt.


So what are you opinions about kids fundraisers? Gobble them up? Avoid them like the plague? Pick N Choose? Something from everybody? That $50 idea is the best ever?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Art of Shampoo


Husband has noticed that the shampoo bottle is not emptying at a rate consistent with two people showering everyday. I don't take notice because I use the frilly girl stuff in the pink containers, figuring two able-bodied males can mention when their supplies begin to run low. And who would think to look if one wasn't running out fast enough?

It came out in the course of conversation that Ian is only using conditioner, not the shampoo. Husband thought it was completely ridiculous, why on earth would somebody go to that much trouble to NOT wash his hair?

My thought? Maybe nobody TOLD the child about the difference between shampoo and conditioner?

I don't exactly recall ever having that conversation with ANY of my kids. But, I also have to remember that for the past several years Ian has been practically BALD and didn't need much instruction on hair care beyond "rub a washcloth across your noggin". So, no, I can't imagine anyone HAS explained the difference.

And so last night we had a quick instruction on shampoo and conditioner.

Rinse, lather, repeat