Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hello, Summer!

At last. It has come. Thanks to ridiculous amounts of snowfall and close to two weeks of snow days, today is the last day of school. I am gladly bidding farewell (but not adieu) to some of our everyday habits. Give me a couple of months, and I'll be begging for them to return...So, have a cool summer, see you next fall, HAGS, BFF, TLA, LYLAS and KIT.

Goodbye, alarm clock beeps. 5:20 am has not been my friend.

Goodbye, sending off kids to school in the dark.

Goodbye, lunch packing.

Goodbye, ziploc baggies. I will return to singlehandedly destroying the earth with your non-biodegrading in September.

Goodbye, bedtime Nazi. Look out, 8:30. My kids are coming for you. Nothing but reckless abandon here.

Goodbye, crumpled up and forgotten homework.

Goodbye, jackets on the floor--maybe I'll finally put you away.

Goodbye, Nick Jr. Spongebob and Phineas and Ferb are moving in full-time. Ferb, I know what we're gonna do today.

Goodbye, kindergarten, second, fifth, seventh and ninth grades. We'll catch up with you in a couple of years.

Goodbye, bed head. The Buzz Cut Bros are back in town.

Goodbye, stomping 13-YO at 7:00 am. We'll see you at 9:00.

Goodbye, looooong walk to the bus stop with a reluctant 3-year-old.

Goodbye, tear-filled IEP meetings.

Goodbye, heart palpitations. I will take a break from panicking when I see the school's number on the caller ID.

Goodbye, imagined hand-held signs*. We'll need you again in the fall, so stay cool and remember your order. No, nothing is going on at home. Yes, he is being fed regularly. No, he is not abused. Yes, I am aware--I live with him. Yes, he is taking medication. Trust me, you can't tell me anything that will surprise me anymore. No, I really don't have any idea how to fix that--I'm sorry. Your guess is as good as mine.

Goodbye, clothing drama. The 8-YO redhead can wear anything she pleases, and I don't even care if it's dirty.

Goodbye, dirty socks all over the house. Flip flops and Crocs work wonders for the housekeeping.

Goodbye, peaceful afternoons. I will miss you.

Goodbye, Tuesday folders, signatures and library day.

Goodbye, homework that really should not be done in the morning.

Goodbye, semblance of order.

Hello, Entropy. Mi casa es su casa.

*Each year upon getting new teachers, administrators, etc for El Nino Espicy, I imagine myself holding up auction-like paddles with these phrases. I get tired of repeating myself until they believe me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Company Manners

Recently a friend of mine gushed over my 13-year-old son. She was so complimentary, at first I thought she was joking. She described how tender and sweet and fun he was while working with other teenagers to babysit during a parents' church activity. Apparently he played games with the kids, held them when they needed it, and even was thoughtful enough to cut up a pizza slice for her 2-year-old. The fact that he even recognized that the little boy needed food in the first place was surprising! I had to ask her if she was really talking about my son--the one who only leans in for hugs occasionally, and the one who literally runs everywhere he goes in the house. We call him "Broad Strokes Boy" for his less than stellar attention to detail. I was so proud of him for behaving so well. I was also wondering where he learned how to do all of that, since he certainly didn't look like he was paying attention when I taught him.

What is that magical something that prompts my (and your--I'm sure of it) children to zip on their best behavior suits? It's something I call Company Manners.

I love company manners. I choose to believe that they are, in fact, a reflection of my children's "real" selves that they save up for special occasions. Why waste them at home, right?

Company manners are proof that my children's ears are in working order. They don't need hearing aids after all.

Company manners allow my children to visit other people's homes more than just once.

Company manners allow me to have other people fooled into thinking I've done a good job.

Company manners also make me feel better about all of the meltdowns we've endured, because I have a theory. I've convinced myself (read: coping mechanism) that when my children freak out, it's because I have provided such a warm, caring environment, that they feel totally and completely comfortable sharing all of their feelings, without fear of rejection. See what a good mom I am? It's a good sign that they yell and scream and stomp on the floor and call the elephants to come and play, right? I feel so much better. Company manners mean that they've held all of that crazy together for someone else all day, and when they come home, they lovingly give the crazy to me. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Company manners are the primary reason I do not homeschool. I have a degree in Elementary Education and plenty of teaching experience, by the way, but I can't handle the crazy for that long or in that context. Besides, they wouldn't believe me anyway.

Beware. Company manners have a loophole. They specifically do not apply when company visits the children's own home. No, no. There is some kind caveat that says when guests arrive (especially home teachers), it is acceptable (and even expected) for a child to unleash the worst behavior possible. Parents find it difficult to maintain their own company manners at these times, and the children can smell it like a dog smells fear.

Despite this loophole, I will take company manners any day of the week, as the alternative is less than desirable. No one else deserves our kind of crazy.

P.S. Tell someone how well her children behaved sometime. It will save her sanity and make her day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Measure of a Mom

See if you can pick out which one is my child:

Gets straight A's--always.
Considers an A- to be a failure
Wants to do what's right to the very letter of the law
Gets anxious when rules are bent or broken, because that's just not supposed to happen!
Says sorry for the smallest infractions
Asks if I need any help
Is kind and thoughtful to every sibling
Has the confidence and poise of Miss America
Can converse with adults just as comfortably as with peers
Makes bed every day
Scores perfectly on standardized tests for the next higher grade level
Is in the Gifted/Talented program
Is in the process of writing a novel
Is the best dish-doer in the house
Always does homework on time and without being asked


Has passing grades, but just barely, in math and reading comprehension
Considers not having "N's" (Needs Improvement) or "U's" (Uh oh! You're toast!) on a report card a marvelous achievement
Weighs whether or not the crime is worth the consequence (it usually is)
Wails "I'm SORRY!" when caught
Requires a finger-point to the job chart to prove that we already require very specific help
Pokes and bothers each sibling incessantly
Previously disposed to wailing and howling at the mere thought of standing up in front of a group
Has no problem mouthing off to adults as well as peers
Has a top sheet? You're kidding, right?
Did not pass state standardized math test
Is in the GenPop
Covers every last inch of a school folder with drawn Star Wars scenes
Requires a dish-doing tutorial each and every Wednesday
Crumples, hides or lies about homework

Well, you're half right. They are both mine. The top one is my 15-year-old daughter, and I'm not kidding. I'm still waiting for that other teenage shoe to drop. Well, actually her 13-year-old brother picked it up, and he's dropping it all over the place. But that's another story.

By now, you've probably guessed that the second one is my Spicy Boy. I promise, he is not that negative all the time, but it is a pretty fair sampling of his life, which is why he's so spicy. Sometimes that spice is rather sweet, like mango salsa, and other times it's like wasabi. Hot, hot, hot.

I have come to understand that I can no sooner take the credit for my daughter's achievements, than I can take the blame for my son's shortcomings. It's very freeing. The measure of a mom is much, much more complex than that. It had better be, or I quit. Did I just say that out loud?

I am certain that it is precisely because of his imperfections that I have become a better mom.

So is it appropriate to tease my daughter for her overachieving ways when she earns 6 academic awards? Can I laugh because she is a foot shorter than all the juniors up on stage (because I did, and so did the whole audience)? Because I must laugh when I talk to Grandma after docking in L.A. from the cruise, and she tells me that my son was suspended for two days from school for hitting someone. And I most certainly laughed when she told me she made him scrub my kitchen floor which stretches down the hall and to the front door. Go Grandma!

Yin/Yang, I say.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

For Sale

Ever have one of these days?...I just did.

For Sale

Kids for sale!

Kids for sale!

One crying, one stomping--young kids for sale!

I’m really not kidding,

So who’ll start the bidding?

Do I hear a dollar?

A nickel?

A penny?

Oh, isn’t there, isn’t there, isn’t there any

One mom that will buy stinky kids for sale,

These crying and stomping young kids for sale?

My apologies to Shel Silverstein, of course.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Things I Learned While Cruising

Click on the collage to see the pictures in their most glorious light.
I loved it.

I've never seen so many tattoos in one place in my entire life. Blech.

People drink on cruises. A lot. Wow.

Cruise ships must lose money when Mormons get on board.

10,000-calorie days are probably not good in the long run.

We can't resist taking Brady Bunch stair pictures.

The Filipino band that sang "Moon Ribber" was awesome! Also, my brother-in-law, who speaks Tagalog, met every single Filipino on the boat, I am sure.

Cabo San Lucas is exactly like Lake Havasu, but with prettier water.

When sitting on the beach in Cabo or Mazatlan, it is necessary to wear the "NO" shirt. Otherwise, each and every vendor of crappy clothing, jewelry, hats, sunglasses, purses and kites will violate personal space and ask for money.

Bring money to the beach, because you might just buy one of those purses.

Neither of those beaches was relaxing in the least.

My husband has a "Keep Out of Direct Sunlight" T-shirt. (I already knew that, but you perhaps did not.)

I'm pretty good at haggling. Who knew?

I love watching my husband speak Spanish. He loved being back in Mexico, too, after 20 years.

I can climb a rock wall, but I am shamefully slower than my husband and my 81-year-old father.

The first thing I saw when I looked out the window in Puerto Vallarta was a Sam's Club. The second thing? Wal-Mart.

Going shopping at a Mexican Wal-Mart is the exact same experience as shopping at any American Wal-Mart. Weird.

"Los pollitos go like this, 'peep peep'"

My dad is Superman.

Sliding down the zip lines in the jungle was AWESOME!

Parasailing runs a close second.

Definitions--Trip: Going somewhere with kids. Vacation: Going somewhere without kids.

Cruise ship singers and dancers have been away from land for far too long. And not in a good way.

It is nigh unto impossible to shave one's legs in a stateroom shower. It was also suggested that in order to shower properly, one should lather up the walls of the shower and just spin around. Forget about picking up the dropped soap.

Our waiter, Yatendra, from India, was awesome. I don't think he knew what to make of all 15 of us, though.

This particular ship had some wildly interesting artwork. My favorite was the flying Barbies. The Big Booty statue ran a close second.

I have mad skills when making a frozen yogurt cone. Frozen yogurt just fills in all the cracks after the 10,000 calorie meals. No worries. It's open from noon 'til nine.

My sister makes an awesome Nacho Libre.

The early rulers of Puerto Vallarta were also luchadores. See?

My family collectively rocks at Name That '80's Tune.

Puerto Vallarta looks suspiciously like Utah Valley with palm trees.

My husband has a weird Chandler Bing smile in every picture.
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