Monday, December 27, 2010

Reluctant Parental Supervision

Merry Christmas from 2 days ago! And now, Merry Have-Fun-With-Your-Wild-Home-From-School-for-a-week-Kids.

Just an observation or two today. Larry Potter and Hoover are 8 and 5 respectively. Aside from maybe 2 of each of their presents, all of them have to have parental supervision in some way. Isn't the point of toys to occupy the kids without my help? But, I am sucking it up because it is Christmas vacation and I'd rather assign a schedule to the adult-supervision-required "toys" than walk downstairs and see the glitter/slime/gummy apocalypse. A small sampling of what they received: The Dairy Queen Blizzard Maker, A Smithsonian Gummy bug kit, 550 piece puzzle, Mine your own gemstone kit, a book and supplies for inventing things, and Orbeez. Merry Christmas to me, apparently.

It's like playing with gigantic caviar, but less fun.
And a note about those Orbeez. They should be called "Grow Your Own Choking Hazards" because that's exactly the point of the product. You dump in little bits of their special sandy-pebbles in their special used-to-house-a-seahorse-farm aquarium, wait 3 hours for them to grow, and then dump them out. That's it. Fun over. They're like squishy marbles, only they bounce and apparently will poison my kitten if we can't keep track of them. (Editor's Note: On the box, it says if 5 or more are ingested to induce vomiting. Five. Really? I'd love to watch the test trial where they determined 5 was the magic number.) LP did this earlier and now where are the Orbeez? Sitting in a glass on his desk. Oooh! HOURS of fun.

Must go now. I have to soak a Chia Spongebob. The fun just doesn't stop around here!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snow or get off the pot

Like I've said several times, I live in the land of beer and cheese. It's not exactly a tropical location, and we all know this, are okay with this, and somehow, even sort of like it. We have about 16 inches of snow on the ground right now.

The night before last, it snowed. Woo. Big F-ing deal. We got maybe 4 inches. Not a big amount for around here, but not something to sneeze at either.

Snow. Wisconsin. Who woulda thought?

Now even though we're in Wisconsin doesn't mean we're exempt from snow days. Sure, it's not like the south that gets an inch and calls off school for a week. (Nothing against my family/friends/perfect strangers in the south...I know how it is.)

So, I went to bed Monday night thinking there might be a chance at a snow day.

Tuesday, I woke up to snow and a 2-hour delay.

To the decision-makers in my school district: Grow a pair.

A 2-hour delay? What the hell is THAT? I'll tell you what it is...a giant pain in the rear. A two-hour delay is inconvenient to working moms and stay-at-home moms alike.

"Oh, we're not going to call off school entirely. Just the first 2 hours. We don't care what your kids do in that time, but they're doing it with you. At home."

My friends that work have an even harder time. Back when I was in the workforce, I had a much easier time finding day care for 8 hours rather than 2. And let's not forget the back-and-forth rigamaroo. Driving someone to school on your way to work-- pretty easy. Driving someone to school after you've been at work and have to leave to do so--it's like negotiating a treaty.

I always feel like I'm rushing around on the delayed days. Like no amount of rushing can get me to catch up. And what are my kids doing for those 2 hours? Let's put it like this, I'd pay if they'd sleep in, but mostly it involves Spongebob and attempted fratricide. It would be different if I had a whole day to plan. But two hours? Mothers across the arctic circle are throwing in the towel.

Two hours of fighting and noneducational TV? Sign me up!

You know, have a snow day. Or not. But would you please choose?

What really smacks my erasers is that they do this because there's some rule saying they get all their daily school money if they have more than 3/4 of a day of school. (Note: also the reason my kids are getting off an hour early today. Early release? Two-hour delay? Bite me.)

Now, all of this made for a pretty snarky entry on its own. But then I turned on the news.

The next town over, where many of my friends live, had a school bus flip over on its way to school. WAY scary. Here's the story:

So. In order to make-a-buck, or save-a-buck, 15 kids were involved in a pretty horrific - yet miraculous - bus accident. The two-hour delay was to ensure the roads were clear and safe for buses to go to-and-from school. Crystal, how's that working for ya? Was your 3/4 of a day's worth of school money worth it yesterday? If you had to do your day over, would you have called a full-on snow day?

My friend JW was following the story pretty closely, as she lives in this town and just put her kids on the bus. From what I heard tonight, the first responder on the scene is the father of 4 of the kids on that bus. Thankfully, everyone is okay. But can you imagine?

Ironically, before we spoke about this story, she and I were bitching to each other about the whole "shit-or-get-off-the-pot" mentality about snow days.

I hope the higher-ups take a little more time the next time they want to delay school rather than call it off. For my snarky reasons or the ones that could cost them their students.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sugar and spice, and redbull, and some Christmas carols

Sometimes, you just don't know why your kids do the things they do.

I mean, you can guess why, make some educated deductions, but sometimes, even logic makes you scratch your head.

For example, this is a video of Mini-Me tonight. She did this for about 20 minutes straight tonight. Now, logic would tell me that she had eaten an entire bag of sugar or gotten into the Red Bull, but I know neither are true. Sometimes, kids are just as random and batshit crazy as the rest of their families.

And if you can't tell what she's singing, you're not alone. She's singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." While running in a five foot circle in my living room. While I'm trying to watch "Miracle on 34th Street." And the people you hear laughing are Larry Potter and Hoover.

Merry Christmas ya'll. Now go sing some Christmas carols while spinning in your living room. It's what we do around here, apparently.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ode to Wisconsin

If you've been following the news at all, or if you're in the midwest, venture outside in the past 4 days, you know that there is a weather system slowly eating the midwest and moving eastward.

It started nibbling here Saturday morning. We woke up to lots of snow. And it was pretty. And picturesque. And very holiday-ish.

Then there was more. And more. And more. And then the wind started.

Suddenly, my Lexapro-induced holiday fantasy went from Hallmark card to Armageddon. Sure, we got the tree up, baked some cookies, even sent Disgruntled Husband out for some Dr. McGillicudy's to add to my hot chocolate. (Funny how willing they all are if they think the alcohol will somehow make you un-frigid.)

We watched Christmas movies and played on the NORAD web site. There was a whole lot of family togetherness on Saturday.

And Sunday, when the weather was so bad, CHURCH was cancelled. [Editor's Note: I know at least Sunday School was cancelled for our church. I didn't check on the actual service. But I know many around the area were cancelled. It was too cold even for God.]

I was cookie-d out. My kids were whiny and moody because they couldn't run around. DH took one look at the Grinch stand-ins he was left with and headed for the basement to watch football.

The Diet Dr. Pepper and Dr. McGillicudy's started around noon. [I'm going to start calling this drink the Medical Convention.]

Why didn't my kids go outside to play in the snow? I'm so glad you asked. And also, you must be from California or New Mexico or something.

Let me put it this way. Today's local headline is that tomorrow we warm up to a high of 19.

Once the snow left, the bitter cold came. And it's days like these that most people in Wisconsin wonder what we're doing here.

Santa, have fun with this.

School was delayed yesterday by two hours, so things would have a chance to warm up TO 0. It was a nice surprise to a.) find out that DH got a ride to work because his car wouldn't start and b.) to go out to my van and find out that though DH took care of the bottom of the driveway (read: had a friend with a plow move some snow), he failed to let me know that I would have to dig out the van. Awesome!

[I will post tomorrow about our cars....and DH....and his new cell phone...and how he might have said the F word while on the phone with the courts.]

In all of this, I am reminded of a story my friend C told in her weekly column. She's from North Dakota and a few years ago, she and her husband were out of town with her parents watching the kids. It was winter, and there either was a snowstorm or bitter cold - I can't remember which - and her parents, being North Dakota folks, bundled the kids up and sent them to school. Only to find out that school was cancelled. Once they got there. If I'm re-telling the story correctly, her parents called Wisconsinites a bunch of wusses.

These same friends had their annual Holiday Bash on Saturday, during the snowstorm. I got an alert on Facebook. "Is the party cancelled? Hell no! We're made of sturdy North Dakota stock. See you there!"

I admire their tenacity. And yes, it could always be worse. No matter how much snow we get, it's never as much as Buffalo, NY. We bow to them. And apparently, we need to bow to North Dakota.

I'm proud to be a wuss. Bring on the spring.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Important Things

Remember back at the beginning of November how I asked someone to remind me mid-December that I actually like Christmas? We'll, we're at that point, about a week ahead of schedule.

I have been tough to live with for the past few days. Ask Disgruntled Husband, who has been walking on eggshells so much, we could make a fritata with his feet, I am no fun. (Note: DH, this is not permission for you to stop...)

For the last week-and-a-half, I have been moonlighting as your friendly neighborhood call center agent at one of the greatest companies on earth. I really do love my job...about an hour after I'm done. It's not rocket surgery and it pays pretty well. But it's the actual getting-up-and-going that I have a problem with. And also the not-having-my-whole-day-to-do-what-needs-to-be-done-ness. It's like I excuse not doing laundry or showering because I have to leave for work AT 5 P.M. It's ridiculous and I'm the first one to admit it.

In an e-mail today to a virtual friend (read: a friend I have never personally met or spoken to on the phone) I admitted that I am in full Holiday Bitch mode. I'm making cookies with a grimace and hanging lights with my middle finger up. Merry F-ing Christmas.

While getting my nails done today (the one and only thing I seem to do with any sort of reliability and thought), I had a chance to listen to Christmas music and chat with the ladies at Truvy's Beauty Spot, all with Mini-Me in tow. I needed a little sit-down-ness to absorb it all. It's Christmastime. I have kids. Kids love Christmas. And...Christmas is not about me anymore.

I've been a royal Holiday B. and my kids don't deserve it. Sure, they may be subject to DH cooking dinner 6 nights in-a-row (Chili for every non-breakfast meal over the weekend? Sure, why not!)

I'm thinking back to my own childhood and how much I loved this time of year. I loved the holiday lights, the school parties, the Christmas programs, the caroles, and the cookies. I'm sure if I had interviewed my mom back then about her opinion of it all, it would be more of a pain-in-the-tush then magical to her. But she sucked it up, and so should I.

Right now, I'm watching one of my favorite Christmas movies The Family Stone. Normally, I watch it for the set decorating and costumes, but today, I'm watching it to remind me that it could all be over in an instant, and I need to savor it while my kids are young.

(Also good for this sort of feeling is the crap-tastic Lifetime Christmas movie with the chick from Charles in Charge. Don't know the name of it, but I catch it every year. Oooh..and the old 80s one with Mary Steenburgen.)

So, Larry Potter, Hoover, and MM, because I am your mom and the one that tries to make things magical for you, I will suck it up. I will put down my middle finger. I will be jolly and pleasant if it damn near kills me. And, side note, I will also fill my prescription for Lexapro. All so your memories of childhood Christmas don't include your mom barking orders at your dad while dressed in yesterdays sweats, complaining.

But come on, you know that if Santa was always so happy, it's because he had someone else making the toys and packing his sleigh. He left the house all night because Mrs. Claus was getting her Holiday B on.

Hey Santa, I'm not waiting up. You better be home to take out the garbage. And feed your damn elves yourself.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tryouts for 16 and Pregnant

[Note: My thoughts on this subject have been swirling around in my head for close to a week now, and I'm still not sure that I have them organized enough to not be written verbal diarrhea.]

As I mentioned in my last post, I went shopping on Black Friday with a gaggle of women and women-in-training. It's our usual post-Thanksgiving tradition...even down to where we eat (A&W on the lowest lower level of Woodfield).

Generally, it's just the adults women that go, leaving the men-folk to deal with all 10-12 of the children. But this time, my beautiful nieces whom I'll call Ducky and Kitty came along too. Ducky is 12 and Kitty just turned 9. This is important to my story.

As we were winding down our trip to the mall, Ducky and her mom were looking for a coat for her, and we found ourselves in Hollister. Now, the things I know about Hollister I can count on one hand...I know teenagers like it and the outside looks like its own house. So, I venture in with everyone on the search for a coat. (And important to the story...I know Hollister is no angel. But even they have their limits.)

As we were leaving (okay, they were leaving, I had already toured the store, become bored, and was waiting on the fake front porch for everyone), the cashier had apparently told all that came through the line to visit their new sister store in the mall, called Gilly Hicks. Earlier that day, my step-sister and Ducky had noticed bags with that name on it, and saw some people wearing Gilly Hicks sweats at lunch.

So, we head to Gilly Hicks, which I keep calling Gilly Hopkins, because I read it in 5th grade. We were looking for cute sweats, because Ducky is a kick-butt basketball player. We find Gilly Hicks and go in. It's got that same house feeling that Hollister did.

Oh Gilly, what happened to your self-esteem?

But then we went in.

I don't think we're in Kansas puberty any more, Toto.

This is a teenage lingerie store. For real. I actually saw see-through nighties here.

I walked around with my mouth open, quite literally, for the majority of our time in there. And what's worse than the teen pregnancy-inducing outfits in there (and calling them outfits is being very generous) is what the employees have to wear.

I tried like the Dickens to find a picture of what these girls were wearing. Smart-move, Gilly Hopkins, for not putting that outfit on there for google to find. Here's my artist's rendering:

Yes, those are plaid short-shorts with just a hint of butt cheek. And my stick figure has no head, because even my stick figure has too much shame to show her face. Now imagine 5-7 of these girls squatting, bending, reaching, and doing the other things any clothing store associate has to do. Chris Matthews was waiting in the back with a camera crew and two police officers.

(And these girls are GIRLS. If they are 18, they are the kind of 18 that's of the Barely Legal variety.)

(In my mind, I keep thinking some of their employees go on to work at cheerleader car washes and test Valtrex samples.)

Now, I never thought of myself as a prude. I can laugh at a funny dirty joke. I answer my kids questions as well as I can about body parts (there was a run on bra questions here a few months ago). I'm not ashamed of my body (though I probably should be). But this store made me uncomfortable (that's like saying childbirth is uncomfortable).

Remember, this store was recommended to us by the people that work at Hollister. Hollister. A place I've only seen the teenage crowd wear. So, using logic, Sluts R Us Gilly Hicks would be targeting the same demographic. Right?

And here is the kingpin in my argument. This is the 15 ft long picture at their checkout:

So, let's do a rundown here. You are a pre-teen and another store -seeing you are petite 5 foot 12 year-old- tells you to come to their sister store to look for cute sweats. You get here and are faced with a library of bras (okay, not so bad), thongs as far as the eye can see, porno stand-in employees, and and a trousseau big enough to make sure your first time with the football team is classy and special. Then, you go to pay for your one pair of sweats, and you are staring at some 8 foot naked dude checking out what's under his girlfriends too-tight-and-low jeans.

And this okay?

I've heard kids are growing up too quickly and becoming sexually active at a younger age. I know there is debate about public schools giving condoms to those that ask (it was a debate even when I was in high school 10-14 years ago), but with a store like this in your midst, I think condoms are one of the lesser worries.

(I feel like there should be a sign like Free Pregnancy Test with Every Purchase or You'd Put Out if you Really Cared about Him. Also, a few pamphlets like "How to lose your self-esteem before you enter high school" would be helpful for their bottom line.)

That all said, my daughter is only 3 1/2. I hope for my Xanax consumption that store (and God help us, more like them) are out of commission in 10 years. But if they're not, the only way my daughter is going into one is a.) if she's over the age of 21 and b.) doing a piece of hard-hitting investigative journalism.

What happened with my family and our encounter there? Well, Ducky's mom was appalled, too. I heard her say that she would NEVER let her daughter work there. Ducky did buy her sweats and some body lotion. I kept my snarky comments to myself, and we continued with our mall trip.

Gilly Hopkins Hicks, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. At least Victoria had a SECRET.