Saturday, July 26, 2014

We did it!

Back in January, Shawn and I started discussing what we should do for our summer holiday this year.

And, like a couple of idiots, we were all, "hey!  You know what we should do?!  We should trap the four of us in the van for 57 billion hours and DRIVE TO CALIFORNIA AND LAS VEGAS AND HOME AGAIN!!!!"

Truth be told, this epic road trip was a great idea in January.  But once the beginning of July rolled around and we were a mere week away from leaving, we started to panic a bit, wondering what the hell we'd gotten ourselves into, and have we not heard of airplanes, and we are going to be alone with these kids for the next 3 weeks, and WHY DIDN'T WE THINK TO MAKE GRANDMA COME WITH US, because surely we are going to need a break!!!!!!!

But, on July 9th, as planned, the four of us piled into the Big Silver Turd (I just named it that) and we were off.

Before I go any further, I will say this about the entire 2 and a half week trip:

It.

Was.

AMAZING.

Day One had us cruising down the I-5 all the way to Eugene, Oregon.  We liked Oregon.  It's beautiful, very green, has no sales tax (YAY!!) and we didn't even have to pump our own gas!!  Also it had this awesome donut place called Voodoo that served things like bubblegum donuts, bacon donuts, and one rather large chocolate-covered monstrosity called the "cock and balls".  I'll let you imagine what that looked like.  Of course, that's the one AJ wanted - he didn't know the name of it, or even what it was supposed to be - but it was the biggest one, so he wanted it.  I was not about to let my kid chow down on a giant donut shaped like a dude's junk, so he had to settle for a smaller, much less raunchy, plain old chocolate covered donut.

Day Two had us crossing into California and staying the night in Sacramento.  We stopped at Old Country Buffet in Redding, CA, because the kids love it there and on Thursdays they eat for 99 cents - and this momma ate like her life depended on it.  There was no stopping me.  Mac and cheese, pulled pork, omelettes, fried chicken, tacos, rice, pizza, garlic bread, soup, ice cream - I made that buffet my bitch.  I needed to be rolled out of there but I didn't even care.  It's a buffet, man.  Go big or go home!

Finally, on Day Three, we reached our first major destination: West Hollywood, California, where Shawn's Uncles S and K live, along with their little doggies Ginger and Lola!  They opened their home to us for 9 days, and it was so awesome to see them - it's been almost 9 years.  There is so much to say about our time in California.  S and K have lived there a long time and are about the best tour guides you could ever ask for.  We saw all the major sights with them - Grauman's Chinese Theater, Dolby Theater, the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, downtown LA, the Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Rodeo Drive, and more.  My kids swam in the ocean for the very first time ever at Venice Beach, and it is a moment I will never forget as long as I live.  Their screaming and laughter and sheer joy as the waves came crashing in and out was a highlight of the whole trip for me.  And, to boot, while they were playing in the waves, a bunch of dolphins (a school of dolphins?  Pack of dolphins?  Herd of dolphins??) kept swimming back and forth not far from where they were at all.  It was incredible.  Even K jumped in with them, and he hasn't been swimming in the ocean for like 20 years!  Just amazing.

California, of course, also meant a day at Universal Studios and two days at Disneyland - again, both firsts for our kids.  I have to be honest - while I was looking forward to this part of the holiday, I was also a little nervous.  I'm OK with crowds but I HATE STRANGERS TOUCHING ME, especially sweaty strangers, and I knew damn well that many sweaty strangers would be touching me.  Also, I'm not big on rides.  I hate the fair (as you know) and I am not a fan of waiting in lines.  But, I put on my big-girl panties (extra big, thanks to the Old Country Buffet incident), took a deep breath, and jumped right in.  I created a system in which I walked with my right arm extended behind me as far as it would go to stop people from coming too close to me from behind and stepping on my heels, and it totally worked!!  I also might have loudly called out "personal space!!!!" every once in awhile, you know, just as like a public service reminder.  I like to think it was helpful for everyone!

Universal Studios was great fun - the kids absolutely loved every ride and show, with the exception of Mackenzie on the Jurassic Park Water Ride - she wasn't expecting to be plunged down a 50-foot embankment and subsequently soaked from head to toe when she got off, and she was pretty pissed...but it made for a great photo!  While I enjoyed the rides at Universal, I also spent most of them screaming like a loser and closing my eyes so I wouldn't get sick - I saw about 12 seconds of the Simpson's ride, for example, before I started making an ass of myself screaming "OH MY GOD MAKE THIS STOP THIS IS HORRIBLE I'M TOTALLY GONNA HURL!!!!!!!"  A definite highlight of our day at Universal was when AJ was being kind of a brat to the purple Minion - sticking his tongue out, being silly, etc.  Well, that purple Minion took it at first, but then decided he would have no more of it - so he started to pretend-chase AJ.  AJ screamed, then tripped over his own feet and nearly fell on his ass trying to run away from the purple Minion.  Hey, that's karma, kid.  Don't piss off the Minions!

Next amusement park - DISNEYLAND!  S and K joined us for the first day, and we did all sorts of rides - Indiana Jones (the only one AJ hated, but Kenzie loved it so much she rode it twice), Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, and so on.  It was an awesome day and we were so glad S and K came too!!  We made the kids ride "Its A Small World" at like 11pm, we told them it was Disneyland Law to ride it, so they were super excited, but then of course they were like - what the hell, this ride is dumb.  AJ says, "I don't even get this, you can't even put your arms up and yell WOOOHOOO!"  Touche, buddy.  That's why nobody likes It's a Small World.  (Don't tell anyone that I actually think It's a Small World is kind of cute and sweet.)  Those crazy kids also rode the teacups repeatedly.  Vom-IT!  I rode them once and nearly lost it.  And by "it", I mean "my lunch."

Day 2 at Disney, we hit it hard.  9am-11pm straight.  By the end of the day I was feeling rather Hulk-Smash'y, like if one more stranger came near me or one more ride attendant was rude or I had to wait one more minute for a ride, I was going to start throwing things - but man, we did a lot!  The Cars ride at California Adventure was well worth the wait - we even rode it twice - the second time as single riders so it was only a 20-minute wait instead of 2 hours.  Shawn got to go on his preferred rides that the kids and I wouldn't touch - California Screamin' and Space Mountain - so he was super excited about that.  You just can't help but act like a kid when you are in Disneyland!

While we may have missed out on the "magical" age of taking the kids to Disneyland (say, 2 and 4), we also missed out on the tantrums, the meltdowns, the need for naps, the constant need for snacks, the strollers, the whining...I could go on.  At (almost) 8 and 10, they understood we had to wait in line.  They knew the characters were just dressed up people, but were still young enough to be excited about them.  They could also ride by themselves, which was great for those of us parents who can't handle the teacups and Merry-Go-Rounds.  It was absolutely worth it to wait til this age to go - especially after watching hot and tired parents trying to wrangle strollers and Baby Bjorns, control screaming toddlers, heat up bottles in the bathroom, explain a 2-hour wait for Elsa and Anna to an impatient and crying 4-year-old...I'd say 8 and 10 are perfect ages!!

Since we were already in Anaheim, the next day we took a small road trip down to Huntington Beach to go for another swim in the ocean.  The waves were crazy.  They were so strong they literally knocked us over and sent us crashing to shore on our bellies.  It was awesome (except perhaps for the sand we found in all sorts of surprise places later on!)  Then we continued down the Pacific Coast Highway to Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, where clearly the people who live there shit money.  I've never seen anything like it.  Yachts docked outside people's homes; yacht and ship dealers everywhere; plastic surgery places literally on every corner that look like fancy condos; and some pretty exclusive car dealerships that had Shawn drooling all over himself and probably needing to change his undies when we got home - McLaren, Ferrari, Porsche, and Bentley, to name a few.  Amazing.  We stopped at Ruby's, a little place overlooking the ocean along the Pacific Coast Highway, for fries and milkshakes at sunset, and it was beautiful.

Then, it was back to S and K's place to recover for a couple days before heading up to - VEGAS, BABY!!

Let me just give you this little piece of advice: as a rule, you probably shouldn't get your information from Bradley Cooper's character in "The Hangover" when you are planning a road trip.  In the movie, he's like, "oh we can get from Vegas to LA in two hours."  So I thought it was going to take two hours.  It actually takes like, 5.  So thanks, Bradley Cooper.  Thanks for nothing.  You might be hot, but you know nothing about geography.

Anyway, despite being a smidgen later than planned, Vegas was a hoot.  We met our friends D and G there, along with their kids, and we had such a fun time.  Wandering the strip, heading to Fremont Street, Circus Circus, the Eiffel Tower, and having some drinks and pool time - they only had one night, so we made the most of it!  Mackenzie actually celebrated her tenth birthday in Vegas (side note, OMG, she is TEN FREAKING YEARS OLD and I HAVE BEEN A MOTHER FOR A DECADE, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!?) and we spent the evening at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, Kenzie had her eyes made up at Sephora, we had Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity, and enjoyed watching the Bellagio fountains going off to "Billie Jean".  Lucky girl, turning 10 in Vegas!

Side note...cute (?) conversation in Vegas...
AJ: "You can walk around with your beer here??"
Me: "Yup!"
AJ: "But you do that at home too."
Me: "What??  I do not!!"
Mackenzie: "Oh, no, AJ, that's different.  She always hides it in something, so nobody knows it's beer.  So then it's OK."

After 3 days of 44-degree (celsius) heat in Las Vegas, it was time to start the journey home.  Day one was as far as Boise, Idaho; Day two had us arriving in Seattle; and last night we rolled in to Kamloops at about 8pm, with 5,559 kilometers added to our van.

Through it all, I learned that my kids are amazing.  Ah-may-zing.  They didn't complain at all in the car.  They tended to get a little stupid and hyper as we would approach each destination, but overall, they were awesome.  They waited in lines like a couple of champs.  They walked what I'm sure would total hundreds of kilometers, in some pretty majorly intense heat.  Their entire eating and sleeping schedule was flung waaaaaaay far out the window, and it didn't even faze them.  Cheese strings, granola bars and bananas for dinner at 10pm?  OK!  McDonald's for the 3rd day in a row?  Sure!  Bed at midnight?  Yup!  They were rock stars pretty much the entire time and I am so proud of them.

I learned that 9 years is MUCH too long to go without seeing S and K, and we will not let that much time pass again.

I learned that while I love love LOVE the heat - it's DRY heat that I love.  It wasn't too hot in California at all, but the stickiness made it a little less enjoyable to me than the smokin' hot Vegas-type heat.

I learned that if I had to live somewhere that had rush hour traffic, I'd have gone to jail a long time ago.

I learned that on such a long road trip, you will see license plates from every state in the US except for Hawaii, DC, Rhode Island, and Delaware.  I know this because we wrote down every single one we saw on a napkin; a napkin that, by the way, flew out the window at Huntington Beach and had this crazy Canadian running across a 6-lane Pacific Coast Highway like a lunatic, chasing down the napkin in the wind (I finally got it back when it stuck to a tree!)

I learned that sometimes, it's good to let go of some control and anxiety and just let things happen.

I'm happy to be home, back to normal life and not living out of a suitcase.

But man, that really was epic.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Appendectomy Adventure.

Wow, this Monday is sooooo much different from last Monday.  In a good way.  Because today, I do not have my head in a toilet, and I'm not all curled up on the floor crying because my stomach hurts so bad I just want to rip the whole thing out of my body Alien-style and throw it out the window.

Let's rewind a bit, shall we?

So last last week - like two weeks ago - I was complaining to my girlfriends about my horrific case of PMS.  My exact words were, "I think this period is trying to kill me."  I felt dizzy, lightheaded, stupid, and my poor belly was very very sore.  Cue Monday morning, 3am - I woke up with a sudden jolt of sharp and intense pain in my stomach, and shit went downhill lightning-fast from there.  I spent all of Monday feeling like 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag, until finally I tearfully admitted that clearly this was not PMS, that something was really wrong and that I had better get my sorry ass to the Emergency Room, pronto.

Now, it needs to be noted that this girl does NOT do hospitals.  I have had two children and that is the extent of my medical history.  No broken bones.  No stitches.  No high fevers.  No tonsillectomies.  Nothing.  In fact, once I was there, I realized that this was actually my first trip to the ER (for myself), ever.  And, funny enough, as soon as I got there I started to feel better - it was as though my body decided to self-heal and thought, 'you know, this doesn't look fun, in fact this looks like a whole shit-ton of NOT fun, let's get you better through the power of your own mind and get the hell out of this joint.'  Long story short, I was there for four hours just to be told to come back the following day for an ultrasound.

So, I spent most of Tuesday convincing myself that I was actually OK, that these sharp, jabbing, sometimes-debilitating pains were just indigestion or too much Hydroxycut, and when the woman from the ultrasound place called and told me to come in at 2:30, I seriously considered telling her not to worry about it, that I was totally all better now.

Good thing I didn't.

The ultrasound showed an inflamed/enlarged appendix, my blood work came back with high white blood cells (or something like that, I don't really listen that well), and before I knew it I was being stabbed with IV needles and put into a gown and told to lay in a bed and wait for the surgeon to call me up for an appendectomy that night.

GOD.  As if I have time for this nonsense.

And you know, I am not a very good patient.

Proof:

1. I told Nurse #1 (who was very nice, by the way), to...uhhh..."go away".  But I didn't exactly say "go away".  I said something a teeny bit more colorful than that.  She was trying to put the IV in my hand.  I told her that when I was having my son they missed four times and I passed out and that was awful, so please please please don't miss.  She said she'd try not to miss.  Whoa.  Hold the phone.  Excuse me?  She'll TRY not to miss?  Doesn't she know that dumb saying "do or do not, there is no try"?  So then my already-high anxiety shot up about 500 million times higher, and I was crying and flopping around dramatically and just overall losing my shit.  She told me very nicely that I needed to calm down or she couldn't get it in.  I told her not so nicely that it would be best if she, uh, "went away."  She did.  Then I ugly-cried into Shawn's chest for 15 minutes straight.

2. Nurse #2 came a half hour later to attempt the whole IV business again.  He had a friendlier approach - trying to chat with me about summer holidays, my tan, people we knew, etc.  I wanted no part of this small talk.  I wanted him to take his big stupid needle and, well,  "go away".  He got it into my arm on the first try (points for Nurse #2).  However, when he finished, I informed him that I was quite sure it was in the wrong spot.  He very nicely told me that it was absolutely in the right spot.  I insisted that he obviously did it wrong, and that it was for sure going to break in there and I'd be left with needle chunks floating through my veins and would probably get an infection and die.  He politely told me that none of that would happen.  Then he left.  I don't know why - we were having a perfectly delightful conversation.

3. I had an argument with Nurse #2 about my underwear.  He told me to take it off when I put on my gown.  I told him that I was not going to do that.  He said I had to.  I said too bad.  He said you have to for the surgery.  I said I don't really care.  He said seriously, you have to be naked under your gown.  I said seriously, I will NOT be removing my underwear.  We went back and forth like this for awhile.  My underwear stayed on.

4. When it was finally time to have the operation, at about 8:30 at night, the anesthetist guy that gives you the good drugs came over to get some information.  He asked if there was anything they should know before going in.  I said, "actually, yes, you should know that I really hate this, I think it completely sucks and I really don't want to be here, and do people ever die from appendectomies?  And also I'd like to go home now."  He just nodded and made a little note on his clipboard.  I'm pretty sure it said "this bitch is crazy."

5. Once I got wheeled in to the Operating Room, I started to freak out because it was very cold in there.  I was sure something was wrong.  I demanded to know if this was the appropriate temperature for an OR.  I was assured that it was.

6. I informed everyone in that OR that I was, quote, "their worst nightmare."  Then I asked the surgeon if he was SURE he knew how to do this.

7. When the anesthetic guy started pumping something into my IV, it was very very cold, and I started to panic. I was crying and yelling that my arm really hurt and it was much too cold and that I was totally going to be paralyzed on my entire left side now because clearly, YOU PEOPLE USED THE WRONG STUFF!!!  He said no, they did not use the wrong stuff, then the OR nurse gave him a little nudge, raised her eyebrows, and held up the rubbery mask full of gassy druggy goodness as if to say "shall we shut her up right now?", and he quickly nodded and she quickly stuffed it over top of my face and while very sweetly wiping my tears, told me to breathe...breathe...breathe...

8. ...and then I woke up.  And immediately asked if I could have a Diet Coke.  I wish I was making that up.  I'm not.  (For the record, they said no.  But I did get to have some lemon Jell-O.)

And now, here I am, almost a week later, minus an appendix but with my first ever ER story to tell.

Worth it?

All of the medical professionals who had to deal with my crazy ass probably don't think so!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Adventures in Alberta

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I haven't been on here in awhile and you've really missed me.

Whatever.  You're fine.

So we just got back from a family vacation to the exotic destination of...

...wait for it...

Alberta!!!

It was a great time.  We had friends to visit in Edmonton and Calgary, and Shawn's family to see in Lethbridge.  So, we started out at 9:30am one Friday morning, made our way up to Edmonton, and stayed in each place for three nights.

It was a shit load of driving.

There are a few things I learned during this family vacation, and I've decided that your life might be better if you learn them too.

1.  After driving for 9+ hours through nothing but freaking mountains and trees and those sheep with the big-ass horns, the flat prairies are actually kind of a welcome change.

2.  But then after about two hours, you're like holy shit - I NEED SOME MOUNTAINS, and WHERE THE HELL ARE ALL THE TREES?!

3.  Sometimes, when you get to your destination after all of that time in the vehicle, your friend who you haven't seen in three months will be like, "let's drink some vodka!"  And because you've been in the car with your kids and husband for seven thousand hours listening to Blake Shelton's song 'Boys Round Here' on repeat because it's the kids' favorite, you're like "that's a great idea, make mine a double!"  I'm going to stop you right here and let you know that actually, it is NOT a great idea.  Because chances are, the vodka drinks your friend mixes up, taste just like fruity bubbly water.  But it is NOT just fruity bubbly water.  It has VODKA in it.  And so the next day, you will have to change your plans of going to the waterslides at West Edmonton Mall to the following day instead, because when both mommas want to hurl, swirling waterslides and wave pools sound like a TERRIBLE idea.

4.  Speaking of the waterslides at West Edmonton Mall, if you are wearing a swimsuit with a fairly deep cut in front, please be aware of the fact that there is a 100% chance that your boobs will pop out of it while you're bouncing around in the wave pool.  The poor souls nearest to me were very, very happy that I have lightning-fast reflexes when it comes to wardrobe malfunctions.

5.  This one here is a guarantee: about 10 minutes after you pull away from a town and pass the sign that says "no fuel for 150 kilometers", somebody in the vehicle (and not necessarily a child) is going to announce that they need to go poop.  RIGHT.NOW.  That person will also refuse to use the outhouses along the way, so you get 150 km worth of Dad doing his best Mike Meyers "got a wee bit of a turtle-head poking out" impression, along with the whining and the bouncy-poop-dance courtesy of whoever it is that needs to go.

6.  The iPod Touch is the best invention ever invented, EVER.  If Steve Jobs wasn't dead and I got to meet him in real life I would totally kiss him right on the mouth.  Thank you, Apple.  THANK YOU FOR EXISTING, and making road trips with children bearable.

7.  All that shit you packed, just in case?  You don't need it.  You do NOT need any of the following: lacrosse sticks and balls, along with other various pieces of sporting equipment; three bags of electronic shit; two bags for EACH kid filled with random crap from their bedrooms that they threw in last minute because they suddenly decided that living without said crap for 10 days sounded like torture; the stuff you use to make your hair look fancy (holidays = ponytails); enough food for six days trapped in the woods; your workout gear (let's face it, you're not going to be working out when you're too busy slamming back vodka like it's your job).  You DO need underwear, shoes, some clothes, your phone, your camera, and your wallet.  That's it.  And maybe a few snacks.  THAT'S IT.  Stop. Packing. Now.

8.  Wine is VERY cheap in Alberta.  We (I) spent an embarrassing amount of time in the Costco Liquor Store.  My favorite wine is Cupcake Red Velvet.  The cheapest I've ever gotten it for here is about $20.  IT WAS $9.89 IN ALBERTA!!!

9.  Gas is cheap, too.  Cheaper than here, anyway!

10.  Riding the bus to the Calgary Stampede at 8:00 in the morning with 100 million other people is NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT FUN.

11.  When you get to the Calgary Stampede, a large part of it is the carnival.  And you know how I feel about THAT.  Only instead of 1000 people being there, there are 125,000 people.  I'll let you go ahead and imagine just how delightful I found that experience to be.

12.  125,000 people were at the Calgary Stampede on the day we went.  Far too many people touched me that day.

13.  As it happens, the Calgary Stampede was a lot more fun when I was younger.

14.  I think I'm narcoleptic when I am a passenger.  I fell asleep on the bus in Calgary, complete with snoring and my mouth wide-open (yes, Shawn took a picture.  No, you absolutely can not see it!)  I also tend to fall asleep while Shawn's driving, but it happens so quickly that often he is mid-sentence when I do the ol' head-bob and wake up 10 minutes later with drool running down my chin and into my lap.

15.  Finally, family vacations are, overall, a pretty good time - even with all the driving and arguing and getting lost and needing to pee at the worst possible times.  That said, I'm glad we're home!

Wherever it is you're off to this summer - have fun and be safe!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cake Boss. Or not.

I think I'm a pretty decent mom.

My kids don't want for much.  I'm around all the time.  They get awesome birthday parties and they have a pretty fair amount of freedom for their ages and they have nice clothes and lots of toys and they're involved in lots of activities and our house is always clean and welcoming to their friends at any time.

Also, I bake.  Because moms are supposed to bake.

And I will tell you, I am a damn good baker.

My friend C loves my banana bread.  One time we were at their house and she was in their baby's room feeding him and I was digging through their freezer looking for something (probably ice or maybe a frozen snack, I don't really know, I make myself at home at my friends' houses) and I noticed some frozen bananas and I said to her husband S, "hey, want me to take these and make some banana bread for you?"  And he's like, no, that's OK.  And then C yelled from the baby's room down the hall, "WHEN JAMIE OFFERS TO MAKE US BANANA BREAD, YOU SAY YES!!!!!!!!!!!"

I make these white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies that are so good they would make you cry.

I bake muffins, scones, brownies (not those kind, don't be weird), all kinds of cookies, tarts, pies...

But I cannot, to save my life, bake a decent cake.

Most of the "good mom" boxes are ticked.  But my kids totally lost the mom lottery when it comes to cake.

This one time, I decided to try to bake a red velvet cake from scratch, complete with cream cheese frosting.  It took me forEVER.  And it was the single most disgusting thing I have ever put in my mouth.  I tried to pawn it off on my parents because my dad will eat anything, but his exact words were, "This must be what evil tastes like."  I have no idea what the hell happened, but that cake was absolutely awful.  And the frosting (sugar and cream cheese, not sure how you screw that up, but I sure did a good job of it) left an aftertaste that I swear I still taste every time I see a red velvet cake.

On AJ's second birthday, the cake I made (from a box) refused to come out of the pan in one piece.  It kind of fell out in chunks and I scraped the rest out with a spatula.  So, I put it all on a plate and covered the whole entire mess in (canned pre-made Betty Crocker) frosting and dumped a box of Smarties on it.  He was only 2, but I swear to God he looked at that cake and then at me and thought, "you crazy woman, I might only be 2 and you might think you've pulled a fast one on me by distracting me with all of those Smarties, but if you think I'm actually going to eat that shit you are out of your ever lovin' mind."

Even the cake mixes from the store hate me.  They fall flat in the oven and then they laugh in my face.

It's very sad.

Anyway, Mackenzie has been dying to try to make cake pops.  She knows I suck at cakes, so really it was kind of insensitive of her to even make such a request, but I found a kit at Costco and it was like $3.97 (in retrospect, I should've known from the price alone that this was a terrible idea) so I bought it and after school today, we attempted to make cake pops.

And guess what?

They didn't work.

I have no idea what I did wrong.  I followed the directions.  But the stupid balls of cake were just sliding down the stupid sticks and they wouldn't stay and my hands were disgusting and sticky and covered in this slimy sticky cake/frosting concoction as I tried to roll them into balls and then the sticks would get all dirty because HOW are you supposed to use BOTH hands to roll the stupid cake balls AND use the same hands to put the cake balls on the stick WITHOUT getting the stick all gross and dirty?!?  HOW, I ASK YOU?!?

And the kids were watching me in amazement, and Mackenzie's like this is SO not what they look like in the commercial, you know, Mom, this is not going well...

And I'm like SHUT UP, I CAN DO THIS!!

And AJ's like, Mom, it kind of looks like poop on a stick...

And I'm like YOU ARE GOING TO EAT THESE DAMN CAKE POPS!!!

Then they're like, well Mom, the cake balls are sliding down the stick...and when we try to pick them up and dip them in the melted chocolate, it gets too heavy and the cake falls off the sticks completely...

And I'm like OH MY GOD, I NEED A GLASS OF WINE!!!

And then we rolled the whole thing into a giant pile of sticky cake pop mess and picked off pieces of it and dipped it in chocolate and sprinkles and ate it with our hands.

It was disgusting.

And the worst part?

I BOUGHT TWO OF THOSE DAMN KITS!!!!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It gets better. I promise.

OK, so maybe I can't "promise", turns out I'm not actually that powerful (wait, WHAT!??!)

But I can say with a fair amount of certainty that no matter what kids might be thinking right now, high school is not the be-all, end-all of your life.  In fact, it actually has no bearing whatsoever on what your life can, and likely will, become.

I just finished watching a special on bullying on CNN (I know, right.  Look at me, watching the news!)  It was done in conjunction with the new movie Bully, which is a documentary put together by Lee Hirsch that follows five different families for one school year, documenting their problems with bullying in different U.S. schools.  I haven't watched the movie yet, and frankly I'm not sure I'd be able to - just this CNN show had me in tears - and it made me worry for my kids and their generation.

Bullying is an epidemic.  Does that sound dramatic to you?  Because I really don't think that it does.  And it frustrates me to absolutely no end that it is allowed to continue.  So why is that?  WHY is it allowed to continue?  Who do we blame for this?  Who is allowing this to happen?

Well, let's start at home.

How many parents have talked to their kids about respect?

Hopefully all of us.

How many parents have talked to their kids about including others?  Or speaking nicely to, and about, people?

I'd say, again, hopefully all of us.

Now, how many parents are guilty of pointing out someone in a store - maybe someone largely overweight, or with some crazy outfit on, and perhaps making fun of or rolling their eyes at that person?  How many parents have talked about a friend of theirs, a coach of their kids', a teacher, an in-law, etc etc etc, either to their faces or behind their backs, in some mean or inappropriate way?

Don't lie to me.  We've all done that.

And here's the thing:

Kids understand a hell of a lot more than we give them credit for.

They see you roll your eyes at someone who looks different than you.  They hear you making comments about that family that has less than you do.  They heard you call their sports coach an asshole, or make a derogatory statement about someone who's lifestyle choice is one you don't agree with, or have a name-calling argument with your spouse.  So no matter how much you try to teach them respect and to treat others fairly, until you can do it yourself and actually model the behavior, you're totally wasting your time, because learning appropriate behavior and the value of respect all begins at home...and it starts a hell of a lot earlier than the beginning of the school-age years.

How many parents have told their kids that some people are gay?  Or that some people hold different religious or political beliefs than your family does?  And furthermore, that it is all absolutely OK, and that people are individuals who are allowed to think whatever thoughts they want, and make whatever choices they wish, so long as they aren't hurting someone or infringing upon the rights of others?

How many parents have told their kids that if someone chooses to wear an outfit that you think is weird, or be friends with someone you don't like, or spend all their time doing an activity that you think is stupid, then that's their choice and...news flash, kids!!...you actually don't get to have any say in it?

Tell your kids that it's OK to be different.  That's it's OK to love whoever you love, and believe whatever you believe.  That other people have the same rights you do - which means THEY are allowed to wear what they want, and THEY are allowed to love who they want, and THEY are allowed to believe what they wish and do what they like.  Remind them how much words and actions can hurt.

Tell your kids that it's OK to be brave, and to stand up to people who are bullies, and remind them that the bullies are the ones with the real problem - and use the opportunity to teach them a little empathy.  Maybe the bully needs a voice. Maybe he (or she) isn't being heard at home.  Maybe he's the one who's really afraid.  Maybe he needs a friend.  Maybe you could be that for him.

The show on CNN made a great statement.  It said that this is not an anti-bullying campaign; it's a movement.  So as fearful as I am for my kids and their generation, I am also a tiny bit hopeful that as they grow, the problem of bullying will get less and less, as kids learn to stand up for themselves and for each other.  Hopefully, parents, teachers, coaches, extended families, big kids, little kids, everyone, will understand and teach that bullying in any form is wrong and unacceptable.  It is NOT "kids being kids".  Anything that is done to another human being that violates their basic rights is not OK, ever, EVER, and our kids need to start being taught that, as early as possible, by us - their parents - at home.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My quirky kids.

You already know that my kids are awesome.

I mean, really.  They are.  OK, yes, sometimes they're a pain in the ass.  No doubt about it.  But they are both just hilarious, smart, spirited (which, really, is a code word for kinda bratty sometimes), and just generally pretty cool little humans; and I totally love that each kid has a mind of their own.

Take my 6-year-old son, for example.  After school today, what do you think he wanted to do?

No, he didn't want to play with his friends.

He didn't want to play video games.

He didn't want to play Lego, or have a snack, or watch TV, or play outside.

No, my boy was absolutely gagging to get to his MATH HOMEWORK.  (Right.  Math.  Sometimes I do wonder if he's actually mine).  And not only did he rip it all out of his backpack the minute he walked in the front door and then hightail it over to his workstation in the kitchen, but he called out every question and answer with such excitement in his voice that you'd think I told him he'd never have to eat vegetables or get a haircut or clean up his room ever again.  All the while, he was singing at the top of his lungs, his very own acoustic version of "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers.  So it sounded like "...I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetHEEEEEARRRRRRRTTTTTT..."  mixed with "and 8 plus 9 is 17!  And 6 plus 5 is 11!"

I think it's the "Ho Hey" remix.  Watch for it on iTunes.

Then, there's my girl.

She wanted to watch TV after school.  I said sure, and we flipped through the guide to see what was on.

She didn't choose Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

She didn't choose Shake It Up, or ANT Farm.

She didn't even want to watch Wizards of Waverly Place - and she idolizes Selena Gomez.

No, my 8 1/2-year-old daughter nearly peed her pants with excitement when she saw that a STORAGE WARS marathon was on.

She knows everyone on the show by name, she knows exactly what they do, and she'd even seen this particular episode before, so she was super excited to tell me exactly how much money they made, and how much cash was stuffed behind some ugly oil painting, and then she explained to me what a "spitoon" is because one of the guys finds one in this episode.

Then she asked if House Hunters was on.

God, I love my kids.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Private parts.

AJ: "Mom, will you lay with me before I go to sleep?"

Me: "Of course, buddy."

We climb in to his bed.  Normally, we use this time to talk about our day, hockey, school, Pokemon, video games, cool new apps...if I only I knew the turn our conversation would take tonight.

AJ: "You know, it's always the Daddy who makes the baby."

Me: "Um.  Really?"

AJ: "Yep.  But how does he do it?  How does a daddy make a baby so it gets to the mom's tummy?"

At this point, I'm thinking it's best that I pretend I'm asleep.  So I start to fake-snore.

AJ: "MOM!  YOU ARE NOT SLEEPING!  I want to know how the daddy makes the baby!"

Sigh.

Me: "AJ, it takes a daddy AND a mommy to make a baby.  The daddy doesn't do it by himself."

AJ: "Oh, he does."

Me: "Trust me, dude.  He doesn't."

AJ: "Well, then, how?"

Jesus Murphy, where the hell is Shawn when I need him!?!  Why is he NEVER around when these questions are randomly tossed out???

Me: "Um.  Well, there's a special kind of loving that mommies and daddies do together, that make a baby.  It starts out a teeny tiny little dot and grows into a baby in the mom's tummy.  That's why her belly always gets so fat."

AJ: "And I know the babies look weird when they're in there."  Touche, kid.  They totally do.  He continues: "Animals give birth, you know."

Not sure where he learned the term "give birth".  But whatever.

Me: "People do too, buddy, that's how the baby gets out."

AJ: "But when animals give birth, the baby comes out of the mom's butt."

Oh for God's sake.  I better clarify this before he scares his sister into severe constipation by telling her she might poop out a baby one day.

Me: "NO, IT DOES NOT."

AJ: "Well, not exactly her butt.  It comes out of her private parts, and there is A LOT of blood!"

OK, never mind, clarification not needed, he's clearly schooled in the subject.  And he's not finished yet:  "It's a good thing people babies don't come out of private parts.  They come out of tummies, and that is NOT a private part."

Then, as quick as it all started and before I could think of what to say, the conversation was over.  He said he was tired of talking and fell asleep in about two seconds.

And I quietly left his bed, thankful that I had c-sections and have never had the need to explain that babies sometimes come out of va-jay-jays.

Whew.

Hopefully it's another 5 years before this topic comes up again.

I need a glass of wine.