Monday, June 28, 2010

Failing the test

I once read that God gives you patience by testing your patience. I am failing the test today, Lord and I need some help. My oldest daughter just told me I am cool. She and her friends say that cool means constipated over-rated out-of-style loser. She got a time-out. So, while she's in her room, she says "this isn't doing anything. This is just you trying to act tough." Please help me. It's hot and sticky. The kids are bored with everything I give them to do. The oldest thinks it's okay to entertain herself by hitting her little sister. I need a tutor if I am ever going to pass this test.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

High school

Yesterday, I covered a high school graduation ceremony for work. It was a nice event and it brought back so many memories. Funny, because the girls were in white and the boys in hunter green, just like when I graduated high school. They had caps on though. We weren't allowed to have caps because they were banned after one of the graduating classes threw their caps at the administration. I guess they figured if the one class hated them, everyone else would too. Anyway, it was strange to watch these kids walking down the aisle and to listen to the speeches about these being the best years of their lives and how nothing should stand in their way. I wish I could remember what it is like to have that kind of ambition - to think that nothing can stop you and you can achieve anything you want. Most of the kids at this event don't understand what a struggle or hardship is. They all have expensive phones and ipods and laptops and probably even cars. I could barely afford to buy textbooks when I went off to college. Man, what would I have done if I was in the class of 2010 instead of the class of 1988? Just watching the parents trying to get a good camera shot of their kid and hearing them laugh at the speeches and seeing them nod in agreement when they heard something enlightening - it was just a prelude to what I will deal with in 10 years. I know those 10 years will zip by me way too quickly. I just hope that by the time my oldest graduates high school, she is ready to tackle her future. I know I wasn't. I was so lost. I felt so alone and unprepared. Sure, I had lots of fun in college, but I wasn't ready for it - not by a long shot. High school doesn't prepare you for college. All it does is teach you how to pass standardized tests. For those parents who are getting ready to say goodbye to their sons and daughters, I admire you and send my heart out to you. And to those kids who are sad to go but excited for the new challenge - good luck. Do the right thing.... even when no one else is watching.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The measure of a man....

I used to think you could learn everything about a person by the way they treated animals. Seriously, if you can't be nice to a defenseless animal, how can you have true compassion in your heart? So, I was thinking of that today when I came up with a new ethical standard. Shopping carts. What kind of shopping cart person are you? (And, yes, for this lesson we will call it a cart. Not a carriage. Not a buggy. Not a wagon.) Will you walk all the way back to store to get back the quarter you put in to get the cart? Do you just leave the cart in between your car and the one next to you? Or will you be extra rude and leave it behind the car next to yours? Have you ever been a victim of a wayward shopping cart? There's nothing worse than coming out of the store and seeing a scratch and/or dent on the side of your car because someone can't be bothered putting the thing back. I try to park close to that cart station in the middle of a parking lot so I can return it there. If not, it goes back to the store. I know there is someone who comes out to get them, but come on - make their job a bit easier and put it where it's supposed to be! Think about how you would feel if that was your job and people just left the carts all over the place. The worst has got to be the person who goes out of their way to leave the cart on a curb or steady it somewhere that is about three or four feet from the cart station. Really? You couldn't take those extra five steps? So, do you think I'm crazy for judging a person based on what they do with the shopping cart? Maybe I am crazy. Crazy like a fox! And are you the person who left their cart behind my car today? If so, shame on you!

Mother knows best

There are certain things in life that can only be done right by your mom. And, more specifically, certain foods that taste best the way she makes them. Well, not in my house, apparently. Today, my daughters asked for soup with their dinner. Don't ask me why since it was in the 90s outside. Who wants hot soup on a hot day? Anyway, they wanted soup and I said I would make it. And they both said NO!! They both said "We want Gammy to make it." My mom looked tired and cooking soup looked like the last thing she wanted to do. I persisted. I'll make it, I told my little angels. Leave Gammy alone. NO, they yelled. What's the big deal? Gammy makes it better. I stepped back like I just got a blow to the stomach. How could my offspring refuse chicken noodle soup from their momma? They just dissed me hard. I wouldn't mind so much if they chose their aunt over me - she was trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Or they could pick their nonno over me - he's been a chef longer than I've been alive. But, no. Smacked in the face, kicked to the curb over chicken soup. I was so ready to make it too. I had some nice egg noodles all ready to go. Oh, well, their loss, right? Nah. No loss. I have to admit, I like my mom's soup better than mine too. I don't know why it's so different. It's just better. There are a lot of foods I make better than my mom - probably because she doesn't make many of the foods I make. But, I'd rather eat her cole slaw than anyone else's. She got the recipe from her mother-in-law and actually still makes it in my grandma Vera's old bowl! I can't remember if my grandma's was better than my mom's, but I wouldn't tell her if it was. My mom also makes some awesome potato pancakes - so good in fact that the CIA-trained sister will stand by the stove and eat them the second they hit the plate. So, I'll give my mom the props. I'll let my girls diss me a little. Because I know tomorrow night, when they want chicken piccata for dinner, they'll come running back to me!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Leaving normal

Today is the last full day of school this week for my oldest. She then has three half-days and is then off for the summer. What are we going to do? You get so used to having a routine. The kids go to school. You do your thing. Even if you are over-booked during the school year, you're still in a routine. Now that the lazy days of summer are here, the routine is changed. Maybe you're lucky enough to send your kids to camp. That puts the onus of entertaining your children on someone else. But, if you're like me, your kids will be home all summer. Sure, the excitement of being done with school will last for a little bit. But, once the first day is over, my kids will want to know what's next. When there isn't a full day of activities planned, they will be asking me "what are we doing today?" and "who is going to be there?" Here's my big dilemma. No camp. No real organized activities. The kids say they don't want them. I think the oldest is afraid of any more structure in her life! The youngest just does what her big sister wants, so there's that. That would be okay, except they are both very different creatures. One likes to go one way, the other in the opposite direction. My problem is getting them to meet in the middle. What do you do when you have two kids that don't want to do the same thing? There is only one of me. Even when we're in the pool, they want to play different games and they each need me to help them play, so I'm torn (almost literally) between the two. I was thinking of some type of system where they can pick from a pre-printed list of activities. Actually, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Well, I wrote myself a note to do it, so it's on my list of things to get done. Hopefully, I'll have it in place by Friday. Wish me luck. I'm going to need it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Miley's in the dog house

What is it with famous people? Why do these guys and girls get a little bit of fame and then go a little bit nuts? Maybe they were just nuts to begin with and the fame brought it out in the open. I don't know, but I do know I am sick of trying to shield myself and my children from tasteless, untalented, vulgar people on television, magazines - well, just everywhere you look. Miley Cyrus is just the latest in a long line of women who have fallen into this downward spiral. She is the new Britney Spears. I watched a bit this morning where Cyrus appeared live a New York City park signing for thousands of fans. Many of those fans were little girls. Their parents let them skip school and come to see their apparent idol. They could have saved the train fare and went to a peep show. It was bad enough that she was dressed like a person ready to do a pole dance, but her actions on that stage are almost like she is trying more than she should to degrade herself. During the first line of the song, one of the male dancers put his hand on her breast and she pushed it away. Then, she put her hand on her vagina. WHAT IS THAT? I didn't even hear the words of the song - just a part where she says to "go to hell". Wait a minute. This nation nearly blew a clot rushing to chastise Janet Jackson for showing a boob during the Super Bowl (a "family" event) and here is some teenager getting felt up at 8 in the morning on a news program in front of kindergartners! Where is the outrage? I am hard pressed to find something suitable enough for my kids to watch on TV - all the shows these days portray parents as either absent or absent-minded and that just doesn't work for me. I don't think I'm above any of these people and won't judge their morals, but I do have to say the actions I saw today were extremely disappointing (if not nauseating) and I have to draw a line. There are still some decent shows and actors/singers that it is okay for my kids to look at I realize that it's a huge burden to ask someone who isn't even 20 to be a role model for a generation of children. But, if it wasn't for these kids, Miley would still be Destiny, strumming a guitar on her front porch. They made her and I hope their parents agree that this type of public display is unacceptable for their children! So, young Miley/Hannah is okay in my house. That girl was wholesome and sweet and listened to her daddy. The new Miley/Hannah is no longer welcome here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fashion nightmare

I have been very blessed lately to have gotten some clothes from a friend for my oldest daughter. She is 8 and in a place now where she's too old for stores like The Children's Place and too young for the other stores in the mall. Yes, those mall stores would put a major dent in the wallet, but it's more than that. I don't like how these stores sell to us or our kids. Did I ever tell you the story about Bloomingdales? I was in there shopping once and happened to grab some shorts for my daughter. Well, you couldn't really call them shorts because they were the size of briefs. My biggest complaint? They said JUICY on the butt. Yes, I know there is a label called Juicy Couture. I know this because my sisters in law seem to like this label and buy stuff for my girls all the time. Some of the stuff is cute - charm bracelets with little pieces of fruit on them. But I draw the line at anything that says Juicy on my daughters. Nothing about them is juicy. And if you think anything about a girl is juicy, well, you're a pervert. So, I complained to Bloomingdales and wouldn't you know the store's general manager called me to discuss it. He told me he had daughters himself and wouldn't let them wear those clothes. So, why do you sell them? Because "we sell what people buy." Okay, that is twisted logic, but I guess I can't blame him. It would be awesome if this man would take a stand and convince this retail giant to not allow such trashy clothes in the children's department. He probably thinks he would lose his job if he did something like that and he's probably right. We can't keep blaming "the man" for our letting this nation fall into a moral hole. Don't give me that nonsense that "everyone does it" or "it's harmless". It's not harmless. If you let your daughter wear shorts that basically show the world her business, you have got to know that boys and grown me will look at her and have thoughts about her. Why give them that option? Why let someone have the opportunity to look at your child like that? And if you don't think that clothes give people the wrong impression of you, you're living in a dream world. Yesterday, I tried on a shirt that had been sent to me. When I tell you it was like putting on a bodysuit, I am not lying. Granted, I am not slim. But I think she mistakenly sent me an XL for a child instead of an adult. I think she figured that because it was for a college reunion, that I would somehow want the type of shirt that college girls wear these days. Wrong. So, while we were at the mall, I figured I'd go to Old Navy, where I was sure I could find some appropriate clothing. I was looking at a t-shirt for myself. I opened it up (because you know they have those military-style folds!) and when I did, I could see the stacks of clothing beyond it. When I say that, I mean I could see through the shirt. What is that about? Since when did this clingy, gauzy fabric become so popular? Girls, do you realize you are being duped? This whole fashion trend of wearing two (or even three) shirts? Yeah, you think it looks good to pull the undershirt down so you can see it. I get it. But, guess what? You were just dumb enough to shell out money for TWO shirts. Instead of paying 20 bucks for a shirt, you paid 40. And, no one can even see the one underneath, so what's the difference? Who would know if your undershirt came from Abercrombie or the aisles of WalMart? It's just another conspiracy. Double see-through shirts and trampy clothes - just say no.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The best laid plans

What makes kids think that what they are doing could possibly be a good idea? Before they start something, do they ever stop to think that they might be making a mistake or that something might not work out the way they want? Usually, as adults, we're not so impulsive. We consider the risks and the possible outcomes before we do something crazy. Sometimes, a bad outcome isn't enough to make us reconsider. Like, the thrill of jumping out of the airplane outweighs the slight chance that the parachute won't open and we will plummet to our death. But, at least we've thought about that possibility. Do kids do that? Do they think "I might fall out of this tree and break my arm, so maybe I shouldn't climb so high." I notice that my children do a lot of goofy things and then apologize for them. I remember hearing an adult once say "If you were sorry, you wouldn't have done it in the first place." And I've even noticed myself saying that I would rather they not say sorry. I would rather they do the right thing in the first place. When I say that, I'm usually talking about something minor - like don't spray the bathroom walls while you're in the shower instead of apologizing when I find the sopping wet ceiling and floor. Little things like that. It makes me wonder if it's just a trait of children to be impulsive or it it means my kids will make rash decisions when they get older. I guess I'd rather deal with it now then when they're teenagers. I'd rather them not be impulsive when it comes to drugs, alcohol, sex - you know, the bad stuff that we give in to. How many times have you thought back to the dumb decisions you made as a teen and wished you had the chance to do it over again? I guess they have to make their own mistakes.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spring cleaning

What is it about spring that makes us want to clean? I get that whole idea of opening up the windows and letting the breeze come on in and clear out the stuffiness of winter. But wasn't that something people did in the 1800s? I mean, in the days when people would cover the furniture in their summer home with white sheets when it wasn't in use? Isn't that how it all started? Well, I'm saying that's how it started and I think that should be where it stays! I just dropped a bunch of stuff off at the dump and goodwill in the past two days and I'm sure there's a ton more that can go too. I'm no hoarder, but I think I just have too much crap. I just hate throwing stuff away. I mean, I paid good money for that - why shouldn't I keep it? And those things that I haven't used in a year? I know that I will use them some day right? And then there are those things that I might just need one day. I will need it and then I won't have it because I threw it away during spring cleaning. Do I just sound lazy? Maybe I am. How about this - since the weather has taken an odd turn and it's been in the 50s and 60s the past couple of days, I'm going to say it's still winter and put off the rest of the spring cleaning until next year!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Four square

The other day, a friend asked me if I knew the game four square and I figured it must be an upstate thing or something because I had never heard of it. Today, while visiting with my dad, I asked him. "You're old," I said, "maybe you've heard of this game." Not four square, said the old man, it's box ball. Oooohhhh, now I get it. Box ball. So he and my sister started arguing about the physics of the game and the proper strategies and how to get your opponent out and, well, who cares? My oldest told them that's not how you play the game at all! You have a square with four numbered squares inside it and people stand on the numbers and take turns bouncing the ball to each other. Huh? That sounds super boring and nothing like the kinds of game the kids I know play at recess! My dad did know what Wall Ball is, even though I had just heard of it recently. Apparently, it's like handball. I don't know why they don't just call it handball. One kid was explaining it to me and I thought it sounded like Butts Up - the game where if you miss the ball, you have to run to the wall before someone pegs you with the ball. Ouch, right? The kid didn't think that sounded like a very fun game. It's a lot more fun when you're the one throwing the ball and a lot less fun when you're getting pegged! How about Flys Up, dad asked, when you throw the ball against the curb and.... um, dad, there are no curbs around here. And, come to think of it, I don't think I've seen a stickball game in at least a decade. What's going on? Since when did wall ball become the game of choice? I've got to get myself over to school at recess one day and see what the deal is. All these kids with soccer balls and skateboards and lacrosse sticks. This is not what I am used to. When I was a kid, we didn't even have grass at our school - we played on the blacktop. I guess it made us more creative. Back then, kids played basketball or dodge ball. We've got to get dodge ball back. Kids need that in their lives, don't they? I just bought my girls a Chinese jump rope. And I'm going to go outside and teach them to clap to Rockin' Robin. My oldest can jump double dutch and the little one digs hopscotch. I'm getting the urban into them little by little.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer's coming

The idea of summer just scares me! Tomorrow is the little one's last day of preschool and then she will start big-kid school in September (my sadness about that is a whole other topic!) Yesterday, the girls and I were talking about summer. When I remind the oldest that all her friends will be in gymnastics camp, she doesn't care - she won't go. So, I ask her what she plans to do every day. Go in the pool, call my friends, watch TV. Um, no. TV? No, sorry, you won't spend the day watching TV and talking on the phone. You will be outside playing sister! I'm gonna pull the "back in my day" card on that one. Don't you remember summer? You would wake up and run out the door in the morning and not come home until dinnertime. Then, you couldn't wait to go back out and play until the street lights came on. What happened to that? Do kids still do that in city settings? Is that I live too far away from the next closest kid's house? My kids need to be outside. Even if they're bored. They need to be laying in the grass and watching an ant carry a bread crumb. They need to build a clubhouse. They need to get excited when they hear the ice cream truck. It can't always be about going somewhere or being with someone else or doing something that requires packing up the car and spending a ton of dough. I hope they can find some adventure in the backyard.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I feel pretty?

Tonight, my little one was hopping into bed when she spied a picture of me. I don't know why I have it. The photo is from college and the girls took it from my mom. Anyway, she says "Mom, I didn't know you were so pretty in college." What do you mean, I asked my little girl as we snuggled into bed. Well, your hair was curly and you were wearing makeup. Do I look like that now? No, she says, your hair is very different. Can't explain the concept of a perm to a four-year-old. Well, do you think I'm pretty now? Sometimes, she says, because you have earrings. Would I be pretty if I didn't wear earrings? Yes, because sometimes you wear makeup. Would I be pretty if I didn't wear makeup? Maybe. She didn't say it with much conviction. Apparently, the more I gussy up (yes, I just said gussy), the prettier my girls think I am. I guess it's because they don't see it every day. I wonder if I should go out of my way to get dolled up every day. Should I do my hair and makeup and put on jewelry and nice cloths every day? Or should I just be me and continue to wear regular old clothes and wear my hair however it falls? Am I teaching my children to not care about looks? Oh, I hope so! I don't think my daughters have ever once seen me wear high heels. If they think getting dressed up means wearing earrings, maybe I should try a bit harder once in a while. I know they rave when I wear perfume, so I could do that this week. That will be my fancy!