Friday, May 31, 2013

You WILL Nurture Your Artistic Abilities, Darn It!

I foresee a lot of crafting in our future. Summer vacay is almost here, and the kiddo has some camps planned, but we will be doing a lot of creative stuff here at home, too. It will be a fight to drag her away from the TV, but if she thinks she is going to veg out all summer, she's mistaken. We are going to be creative, because, face it, like anything else, "use it or lose it". I don't have any specific projects in mind, I just want to foster the kiddo's creativity (mine, too), and have some fun in the process. Look at the pic above: this might be the best use of creativity ever!

Photo by Quinn Miller. Article by Sarah B. Weir at

Thursday, May 30, 2013

To Quote the Rolling Stones, "Let It Bleed"

The Rolling Stones released their album Let it Bleed in December 1969. My theory is that the title was inspired by a lack of band-aids. By then, several members of the band had joined the ranks of fatherhood, and they were most likely forced to make due without that most important first aid item. Why? Young children love band-aids. Every little scratch requires at least one band-aid. Sometimes, band-aids are worn as accessories--no boo boo required! It's way too easy to run out! Large, gaping wounds gushing blood? Go to the Emergency Room. Just a minor booboo?  Let it bleed, 'cause I can't get no band-aid.  Seriously, if the Rolling Stones can't keep band-aids in their medicine cabinets, how can I?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Betrayal is an Ugly Thing

I'm feeling the bitter sting of betrayal today.

First, my body decided to betray me. I have been taking good care of it, eating healthy food, trying hard to avoid sweets and succeeding most of the time, and actually exercising. That means that the shin splints and the sinus infection hurt even more than they normally would. How could you, body? I've been doing everything right!

Then, my kiddo betrayed me. Even though I feel crappy, I took her to a friend's house for a water balloon fight, which lasted all of 2 minutes (as long as it took them to go through a ginormous bucket of water balloons) but we hung out for a while afterward. Imagine my surprise when she (1) jumped in the car and pretended to drive, pressing the gas pedal all the way down; (2) once we got home, grabbed hubby's sprinkler so she could play with it outside; and (3) wouldn't come in from the garage.

Now, I don't know much about cars, but I do know that, at least in the "olden days", "putting the pedal to the metal" could flood the engine. I also know--as does the kiddo--that hubby's tools and accoutrements are off limits unless she has his permission to use them. And it goes without saying that she is not allowed to play unsupervised in the garage, due to the aforementioned tools and accoutrements. So my question is, WHY? After a wonderful afternoon, WHY ruin it all by making me mad? I even had to yell, and even though I don't still have this morning's Crazy Demon Voice, my throat wasn't amused.

What's next? Is the cat going to betray me? Will I find a puddle on the floor?

Wanna Scare Your Kids?

Of course you do!

Try yelling at reprimanding them with a Crazy Demon Voice. I have a sinus infection, thus the Crazy Demon Voice. Seriously, I sound like a horror movie version of myself. So, imagine the look of surprise and the wide eyes when I had to raise my voice this morning...

Now, if I can just do it again for Halloween...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pushy Mom Can't Keep Her Mouth Shut

Part of my job is to correct my kiddo when she makes poor choices. Sometimes, I must correct her when she lashes out because she doesn't like being corrected. In either case, she considers that to be "mommy nagging". In other cases, when I caution her about making a good choice, she perceives my concern to be worrying. It is often helpful if hubby backs me up, but sometimes it is even better to have a neutral third party chime in and offer their insight--as long as they are on my side, of course.

Today at the Kindergarten picnic, I noticed one of the kiddo's classmates giving his mom a hard time, and kicking his leg out at her. It wasn't clear if he meant to kick her or if that was just a nonverbal way of expressing his anger, but I stopped and told him that I couldn't believe he would act that way, since I thought he was such a nice boy. His mom asked him if I was a teacher, and I quickly jumped in and said, no, just a pushy mom. She nodded her head and told her son that I was right, and he wasn't being nice at all.

I realize that some parents would take offense at that, interpreting such an interruption as a criticism of their parenting skills. That is certainly not what I meant. I was trying to get the boy to think about his actions (and, OK, feel bad about treating his mom that way--let's face it, guilt can be a great thing). Legal disclaimer: I would never insult a child's parents, nor would I touch someone else's kid, and, as much as I appreciate third-party input, I expect the same from others. But, remember, it takes a village...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Goal: Bad Ass Mom From Hell

(She will always be my baby!)

My kiddo will be a teenager one day, and teenagers are apparently sneaky and devious, so I'm getting prepared for such behavior now. I'm gonna be the Bad Ass Mom From Hell. I will know where she is at all times (even if I have to micro chip her) and I will have no qualms about tracking her down and spying on her. If her behavior is inappropriate, I will embarrass her and shame her in front of her friends, and if anyone harms her, they will have to answer to me. (My lawyer is Bad Ass, too.) Read why here (especially the part about the "classic teenage ploy").

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wet Feet and Squishy Toes

Spring is finally here, and the weather has been beautiful. Perfect for a walk to and from school! True, there has been quite a bit of rain, and the ground has been rather squishy and spongy. But then, even on rain-free mornings, there is a good bit of dew on the ground on a normal warm morning. Hubby and I have been walking the kiddo to school since last August, so she should know by now that wet ground is a possibility. Now that the weather is warmer, though, she wants to wear her sandals and take her sneakers for gym. That's all very well and good, but her feet get wet on the morning walk to school. No big deal--mine do, too. That's why I wear my hiking shoes and take them off when I get back home. Hubby dries his wet shoes on a towel we keep by the door. The kiddo has insisted on wearing her sandals on the walk to school, and the natural consequence of that is--you guessed it--wet feet.

The other day, though, the kiddo's wet feet were more than she could tolerate; she had started complaining about them the second they hit the grass. Since going another way is not an option, we kept going. With every step, the kiddo's complaining and whining increased, in frequency, intensity, and volume. Hubby tried to make light of the situation by reminding the kiddo that "some kids don't even have feet" (wth is that about??) She was so irate that she didn't care if her classmates saw her having a fit over wet toes. Hubby and I have given her some options: wear rain boots, wear sneakers, wipe off with a towel...nope. Kiddo wants to wear sandals. So, I did the only thing I could do: I laughed and sent her into school.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Jumpsuit as Punishment?

Another entry in the journal of public shaming: punishing a bully with...a bad wardrobe?

This punishment was in response to perceived bullying about a classmate's choice of clothing.
Pros: The clothing that Judgmental Girl was forced to wear was ugly, but not provocative, restrictive, or hazardous;  JG claims to have learned from the punishment and supposedly now understands how she made her classmate feel.

Cons: JG was critical of another student, but I'm not sure her comments qualify as bullying (the article states that the situation had been going on for 3 weeks, but only one comment was mentioned); even though she claimed to have learned her lesson, she made similar comments to another classmate after serving her punishment.

Of course, the psychologists jump in and say that a better option would have been to sit down with the alleged bully and try to understand why she made the disparaging comments, and to encourage communication between the bully and the victim so that the bully can hear the victim's side of the story. What happened to "an eye for an eye" or "giving her a taste of her own medicine" or letting "the punishment fit the crime"? I'm not trying to lessen the importance of communication, but, honestly, whether the term "bullying" is applicable or not, Judgmental Girl made her classmate feel like crap. She found out what that feels like.

Scream and Shout, Or...

A while back, I posted about my grandmother, AKA The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe--mainly, because she "had so many children, she didn't know what to do". This, of course, was back in the days before video games and Wii, wearing helmets when riding bikes, not talking to strangers...with all those kids, Grandma couldn't exactly stand on the porch and yell all their names when it was dinner time or bed, instead, she relied on an old police whistle. She would stand on the porch and blast it, and my mom and aunts knew that when they heard it, they better drop everything and run home or they would be in trouble (courtesy of my grandfather, no doubt. Grandma knew how to delegate.).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Last Night's Dinner, Revisited

Today was the kiddo's first sick day. We almost made it the whole year without one, until today. I could tell that she didn't feel well, but she insisted that she wanted to go to school. She didn't want to eat her breakfast, which was a red flag, and I expected to get a phone call later telling me to come get her. But we started out and I swear we were exactly at the halfway point when she was sick to her stomach. One time. Two times. Three times. Four times. Kind of a fifth time, but by then there wasn't anything left.

We made it home and I made sure she didn't have a fever. Then, I got her comfortable on the couch in the sun room, since the floor is tile and the upholstery on the couch is suitable for patio furniture--I figured that it would be easier to clean, just in case. With her fuzzy blanket and Hello Kitty toy to keep her company, she settled down and drifted off to sleep...only to wake up and make one hurried trip to the bathroom. After that, she was wide awake, feeling yucky, back on the couch and needing Mommy.

Believe me, I was sympathetic to her plight. I hate puking. So, I sat with the kiddo and patted her back and kissed her forehead, and tried to avoid any transmission of the virus that had set up shop in her intestines. My official rationale is that I can't afford to get sick, but my honest to goodness underlying fear is that I will get the bleeping virus and puke. The last time I had a stomach virus was two years ago, and after a morning of confinement to the bathroom, I felt like crap the entire day. The kiddo had one incident later that day, then was bouncing off the walls as usual.

Really, I can't afford to get sick! (I don't wanna puke!)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are YOU Ticklish?

My kiddo is ticklish. She will say coyly to me "You can tickle me if you want to!", fully expecting that I will. I usually oblige, since her giggles are some of the happiest sounds on earth. I've noticed, too, that the kiddo and her friends like to tickle one another, which is usually accompanied by the words "tickle, tickle, tickle!". In the relatively few cases where a friend of hers wasn't interested in being tickled, the kiddo backed down immediately (or in one case, after being pushed away). However, at home, she likes to tickle me, and doesn't always back down when I say no.

You see, I don't like to be tickled. In my opinion, it's akin to torture. Heck, go ahead and water board me, it would be the same thing. But when I say "No", "Please don't" or "STOP IT", I really feel like I'm ruining the kiddo's fun. But, to quote Gretchen Rubin, author of the blog and book The Happiness Project, “Just because something is fun for other people doesn’t mean it’s fun for me, and vice versa.” I seem to be hyper-sensitive: a loose hair or string, spider webs, a persistent breeze on my skin all irritate me and make me unhappy.

So, while the kiddo is always disappointed when I don't want to be tickled, it doesn't last long because she reverts back to begging me to tickle her, and I don't have to tolerate something I find unpleasant.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Leave Me Alone or I'll Vacuum!

I've mentioned my furry child before, who, like most cats, loves to eat and will bug me for food. While he isn't a butterball, he isn't exactly wasting away, either, so I try to regulate his food intake. He doesn't get it, and doesn't appreciate it. Meow! Meow! Meow! Sometimes, the meowing is accompanied by aggressive head butting. Yes, I love cats and I think this is cute--to an extent. Sometimes it's aggravating, and I need him to stop, but the surefire way to get him to stop is--you guessed it--to feed him. So, when it's too soon for food but he's getting on my nerves, I run the vacuum cleaner. He hates the noise and runs away, and that will buy me a good ten minutes after I turn it off.

Interestingly, this technique works on the kiddo as well. When I get the vacuum out, she runs around in a panic, picking up her toys from the floor so that they don't get sucked up into the vacuum. (Yes, it could happen. My mother in law called me "dangerous" because she once saw all of the things I managed to collect in the vacuum.) Then, once the kiddo is sure that her things are safe, she runs and hides. If I pause, she will poke her head out from her hiding place and ask if I am done. Sometimes I keep vacuuming just to get some peace and quiet...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Count to 10, Smile, and Rephrase

I have no problem being a Mean Mommy--hubby even wrote "you're a great Mean Mommy" on my Mother's Day card*--but I don't want to be a nagging mommy. So, when faced with The-Shoes-On-The-Couch, I hesitate to say "Get your shoes off the couch!". Asking in a more polite tone "Could you please not put your shoes on the couch?" is kinda wishy-washy, and doesn't really convey the dread I feel in my heart that I going to end up scrubbing the bleeping couch (I hate cleaning!). My approach has been to express my expectations in such a way that the kiddo knows what she needs to do and has a chance to correct any behavior that is less than desirable: "I know you aren't going to put your shoes on the couch, right?".

However, if I have to say something like that more than once, or if I have to comment that way about more than one thing, I worry about its effectiveness. Today, the kiddo sat down on the couch and immediately put her feet up to get comfy--with her shoes on the couch.

 [The simple act of removing her shoes would save me time, energy, money, would keep my blood pressure low, reduce my carbon footprint, and lower Walmart's profits, and really, don't we all want that?!]

My blood started to boil as I mentally cataloged my cleaning supplies, resigned to the inevitable marks I would have to remove. Ideally, the kiddo should have to clean up any dirty spots she puts on the furniture, but I know that, since she is 6, I would end up with a chemically-saturated couch that would still have dirt on it. So...I counted to 10, forced out a smile, and asked "Isn't there something you're forgetting?", while looking directly at her feet. Success! She said "Oops!" and immediately moved her feet. Every time I checked on her after that, her shoes were still on her feet, but not on the couch. Of course, she heard me coming and had time to move her feet, but kids aren't that sneaky, are they??

*love him!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The 10 Best Things About Being a Mom

The everyday: 
1. Hugs and kisses and holding hands.

2. Notes from my kiddo.

3. The smile that lights up her face when she sees me after we've been apart.

4. Compliments about my kiddo from others.

And the humorous:
5. Blaming being late on the kiddo.

6. Being able to use the kiddo as an excuse to do or to not do something.

7. Being "forced" to go out for ice cream or cupcakes.

8. Leftover Halloween/Valentine's Day/Easter candy.

9. Snowball and autumn leaf and dandelion fights.

And the obvious:
10. Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

10 Things I Want for Mother's Day

Dearest Daughter,

Mother's Day is coming up, and I know I will be asked what I would like for a Mother's Day present. I also know that you and Daddy will disregard my answer: hugs and kisses and a hand-made card are all I need. After all, I have the best family I could hope for. I want to thank you for giving me a reason to celebrate Mother's Day. I don't need the flowers and candy and breakfast in bed and jewelry that are associated with this special day, but, if you're up for it, there are a few things you could do that would make me happy:

1. Be happy. Don't let others make you feel bad about yourself.

2. Be enough. Your interests, actions and dreams are what make you unique. Don't take on someone else's if they don't inspire you.

3. Be curious. Don't stop learning.

4. Be strong. Sometimes things are hard, unpleasant, or sad. Keep going.

5. Be loving. Care for your family, friends, and nature, but be sure to save some love for yourself.

6. Be healthy. Mind, body and spirit.

7. Be honest. Little white lies are one thing, but never lie to yourself.

8. Be forgiving of others and of yourself.

9. Be confident in who you are and what you believe.

10. Be yourself. I love you the way you used to be, the way you are now, and the way you will turn out to be.

I hope you see that everything I do, whether I'm loving, silly, impatient or "mean", is to help you to be all these things...and much, much more.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

All Mommies Must Do This!

Part of being a Mean Mommy means fiercely protecting yourself  as well as your children. After all, 

"If a fire isn't stoked, it soon turns to ashes. MAMAS... Take care of yourselves!!! You have a passion, a beauty, an energy that your children and husband need to see and feel. Your fire will help your entire family thrive. Don't neglect YOUR FIRE!!!" ~Susi Sivkov

I know that when I neglect myself, it turns into a vicious cycle. Once I start neglecting myself, I go into survival mode. I put all my energy into taking care of my kiddo, which leaves me less and less time for the things that re-energize me, and my energy levels drop even further.

So, all you Mean Mommies, this coming Sunday is Mother's Day! While it's not cool to demand presents, if you are asked what you would like, choose something that will stoke your fire. It could be time to read, solitude to listen to your favorite music or watch your favorite TV show without interruption, being able to go out with girlfriends or do an activity you enjoy but too often give up...or it could be preparing a meal with your family instead of for your family, taking a long walk or hike with your family, getting everyone in their best outfits and on their best behavior for a family photo shoot...the possibilities are endless!

Feel free to leave a comment telling me what stokes your fire!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

For Mama Bears

I am just catching up with the news about the Cleveland kidnapping victims, one of which disappeared at age 14 while on her way home from school. Gasp. Gulp. Vomit rising in my throat. Last fall, I wrote about my concerns about letting my kiddo play outside in the front yard in Get Your Paranoia Right Here! because the potential for disaster seems so obvious to me. Some people think that I have a morbid obsession with this type of story, but that is not true. As a "mama bear", I have a duty to protect my child, and I take it seriously. It's not that I glare at every stranger who passes by my house (just a few of them, and I only take pictures of the really suspicious looking ones. Just kidding. Kind of.)

Because this story prompted me to read all of the related reports, I have a link to share with you that you might have missed if you are not as paranoid as I am. I recommend Red Flags: How to Keep Our Kids Safe from Predators , which has great tips that all mean mommies and daddies need to know to keep their kids safe (even if you will seem uncool or unreasonable). These tips are geared toward tweens, which encompasses ages 8-12, but it's never too early to lay the ground rules. My kiddo will be entering tweendom in two years! Objectively, that seems like a long time, but time has a way of moving at warp speed. I remember 2011--two years ago--like it was yesterday.

At the end of the article, the author cautions readers that "...we live in times where we need to strike the balance between prevention and paranoia...We can all agree we are always better off being safe rather than sorry when it comes to our kids A double dose of caution never hurt anyone...". So, I'm pondering enrolling my kiddo  in self defense classes, getting a dog, and chipping her (my kid, not the dog. Or OK, maybe both. Just kidding. Kind of.)

Happy Moms, Happy Kids, Happy Meals

The pressure to consume, consume, consume can be overwhelming to us; it is probably even more so to our kids. Fast food restaurants capitalize on this, offering kids' meals full of unhealthy, addictive food and including a cheap plastic junky toy along with it. Smart moms know that they have to fight back and limit, or better yet, prohibit these bad food choices. However, when a mom is overworked and out of time and facing increased pressure because the tasty food comes with the hottest "it" toy, it can be easy to cave.

Great mom "S" has found a way around that with her family's tradition of Healthy Happy Meal Day. On a day when she is tempted to stop and buy happy meals for her kids (and probably equally non-nutritious food for herself and husband), S whips up something healthy like frozen (store bought) veggie burgers, sweet potato fries, broccoli and a salad. When she has time, she might make something from scratch, but the clincher is that her kids' meals come with an inexpensive toy or something to keep them occupied. Healthy Happy Meal Day isn't every day; maybe once a week if that.

I couldn't call S a mean mommy, because it seems like she never really let her kids have fast food much in the first place. However, if you have gotten into the habit of stopping at McD's every week and you try to switch over to a healthy version, I'm sure your kids will think you are mean and even torturing them. It's also important to note that, in order to make your own happy meals at home, you need to have ingredients and toys on hand, at least somewhat in advance. The idea of a happy meal is that it's the food and the toy, at the same time, on demand. If you want to go this route, you need to make the commitment.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Shocking Update!!!

It finally happened: I ended up driving the kiddo to school today! It was rainy and soggy and miserable and her field trip was cancelled, so I gave in and let her be a car rider for the very first time in the whole school year. It was a relief for her, not having to trudge through the wet grass, and it allowed me to give her a special treat. I know, I know, the haters are going to be on me for considering such a simple act a "special treat". Whatever. She was excited and she stayed dry.

And you know what? It actually takes longer (and we have to leave earlier) to drive than it does to walk!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Battle Between Junk Food Mom and Health Food Mom!

Today on her Facebook page, "A Healthier and Happier You", personal trainer and fitness guru Jessica Clark posed the following question: "For you moms and you try your best to keep...sugar filled and processed foods from your children...?" She admits that she feels "judged by some people when I don't allow [sugary, processed foods]", and wonders  "Isn't that strange to be judged for good choices but no one thinks it is strange when you load your kid up with crap?" I felt compelled to to share with her two of my previous posts that deal with the overabundance of crap that our kids have access to: Oh Yum, Fresh Chemicals and Eat Healthy, Eat Healthy, Eat Healthy...Here, Have Some Crap. As you know, I am concerned about the same thing, and I have been judged for nixing crappy food. 

If you think about it, a mom who insists on a healthy diet for her child (and herself) is probably intimidating to a junk food mom. As any mom will tell you, 99% of us are not confident and often worry that we are screwing up the whole motherhood thing. Moms are notorious for  judging one another, and the fear of being judged by another mom is enough to strike fear into a woman's heart. Junk Food Mom looks at Health Food Mom and thinks "Oh, she probably makes all her kid's food from scratch using only organic ingredients that she grew herself, when she wasn't busy working full time, running a marathon, and coaching her kid's soccer team. She must think she's way better than I am." Maybe Junk Food Mom is judging Health Food Mom's "holier than thou" attitude, without realizing that Health Food Mom doesn't have an attitude to begin with. Junk Food Mom probably loves her child every bit as much as Health Food Mom, but isn't as informed or convinced or passionate about making healthy choices and has talked herself into believing that she is being condemned by Health Food Mom. Health Food Mom's food choices can be perceived as a personal attack, questioning Junk Food Mom's love for her own child! If Health Food Mom would just buy a candy bar or a Coke or a box of Twinkies, she wouldn't have the right to question Junk Food Mom's maternal love! 

Junk Food Mom would probably argue, "jeez, a Big Mac or Krispy Kreme doughnut or Slurpee won't kill you", and technically, she would be correct. Sure, those "foods" are full of empty calories, fat, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, but one serving won't kill you. It might even taste good. However, researchers are telling us over and over that these "foods" contain ingredients that are addictive and keep people wanting more and more and more. Once you fall into that trap, it's hard to get out, and your waistline, blood pressure and overall health will suffer. Health Food Mom has learned that--perhaps the hard way--and wants to keep her child from suffering such a fate. Fast Food Mom hasn't made that connection, or naively thinks the effects of a bad diet can be undone easily, at a later time. And after all, Junk Food Kid loves his junk food. Junk Food Mom shows her love for her child by providing him with what he loves.. 

So that's my take on Ms. Clark's post. Unless Junk Food Mom is just a lazy slob who can't be bothered to provide decent nourishment for her kid. In that case, she deserves to be judged. Rock on, Health Food Mom!