Wednesday, July 31, 2013

No New Back Pack; We're Going For the Shabby Chic Look

It seems that yesterday's rant post about back to school supplies resonated with a few of you. Let me add fuel to the fire by stating that I won't be getting the kiddo a new back pack or lunch box this year. The ones she has are both in decent condition and I refuse to be swayed by consumerism. OK, I know that next year, year after that at the latest, the kiddo is going to want the "It" back pack (no licensed characters, please!), and I know that I will have to compromise a bit, for the sake of my sanity. So, as long as I can get away with it, I am going to reuse and recycle. The back pack is a little dingy and has a small hole in it--but it can be washed and repaired. I may even use a cute patch on it instead of plain, ugly duct tape. Oh, and for the record, neither her back pack or lunch box is monogrammed. Instead, they both have her name and initials written on them with a Sharpie, in my relatively neat, steady hand writing. Don't get me wrong--I would spoil the kiddo if I could, but that would result in (1) a spoiled kiddo, (2) money wasted on said spoiling, and (3) the lesson that things like new, monogrammed back packs and lunch boxes every year is the norm. By the way, did you know that in Guatemala, children are not allowed to attend school if they don't own a pair of shoes? In families with many children, the boys are provided for first, so that means that many girls are not able to go to school because the parents can't afford shoes for them. Instead, they often help their mothers by preparing food to sell on the street, sometimes right outside the schools they are not allowed to attend. I visited a school in Guatemala and was heartbroken to see girls looking wistfully in the windows. Is getting a new back pack or lunch box every single year really so important?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I'm Keeping One of These Darn Glue Sticks For Myself (Sniff, Sniff)

It's a month until school starts, but we have already been inundated with sale flyers featuring back to school products and clothes, and the dreaded school supply list. I say "dreaded" because such lists tend to raise my blood pressure. Last year, I branded myself as a rebel when I refused to buy a "rest mat" for the kiddo to lie down on at school. Hey, they cost $9.99, and I knew that for all the napping/resting she would be doing, she could get by very well with a soft towel. When I ventured into her classroom for the first time and noticed that every single cubby but hers had such a mat in it, I felt a momentary pang of guilt, then I silently cursed the system that made me feel that way. A towel was perfectly fine in preschool. Why a fancy schmancy mat in kindergarten? The kiddo never mentioned it, so she was either OK with her fluffy towel or, as I suspect, didn't need it often enough for it to be an issue.

This year, the kiddo is going int FIRST GRADE (tear), and while the school supply list doesn't include a rest mat, it does include a few items that make me scratch my head and think of creative curses. Here's a few:
  • 6 glue sticks. OK, I get it, they use a lot of glue. Or maybe someone's sniffing it. I'll buy the glue, darn it, but I don't like it. (If someone's sniffing it, that makes me a supplier!)
  • 2 boxes of crayons. Sure, I'll buy 2 boxes, but I'm only sending one in at a time. 
  • 2 boxes of #2 pencils. When I was in school, we got a brand new pencil at the start of every 9-week period. Just sayin'. 
  • 2 pair of scissors. Because...they expect kids to lose the first pair? Because they teach kids how to cut with both the same time? This one is causing me no end of confusion. Am I really buying a pair of scissors for a child who can't afford their own? I'm OK with that, but not if I'm tricked into it. One pair. Maybe even the pair from last year. Will that jeopardize the kiddo's social standing? If the mat thing didn't do it, will scissors?
  • Box of small baggies (girls - sandwich; boys - gallon). If there are roughly 16 kids per class, and each kid brings in the requested box of baggies, and each box contains 50 (sandwich) or 40 (gallon) bags, that is over 600 individual baggies. What the hell do they need all those bags for? Are they really for teachers to use to pack their lunches? Really--somebody please explain. This one makes no sense to me.
  • 2 dry erase markers. Per child. Again, if we estimate 16 kids per class, that's 32 markers. I don't expect teachers to have to buy their own supplies, but golly, can't the county do it? If the administrators can't afford to buy markers for their teachers, perhaps they should look at reducing their football budget. Please don't burn my house down.
  • Suggested supplies to promote and maintain healthy habits: 2 boxes of tissues, hand sanitizer. If healthy habits are so important, why can't the schools provide these supplies? Oh, don't worry, I will be sending in my share of tissues and hand sanitizer, mainly because I don't want any viruses to make their way back to my house.
Now, where's that glue stick...?

Monday, July 29, 2013

I'm Cutting You Off! End of Story!

It has been one of those days: one of those perfect, sunny not-too-hot-not-too-cold days, lots of fun stuff to do but not jam-packed. Ahh, summer...

It is 10:34 P.M. and I just go the kiddo to bed, and I'm fairly certain she's not asleep yet, even though she is exhausted. She was up early for camp, then played at home, then went to Nana's house and did lots more stuff while I was at a meeting. Heck, I'm tired, and I took a nap this afternoon.

But back to the kiddo. Kids thrive on routine, and even if bedtime gets pushed back a little (or a lot), the kiddo needs to stick to some semblance of her typical bed time routine: get a shower, brush her teeth, books/stories/snuggles/hugs and kisses. I have tried to have Nana read a few books to the kiddo before I pick her up on nights she has kept the kiddo, which works out fine because (1) the kiddo loves her Nana and (2) the kiddo loves books. However, those are bonus books, and she still expects the usual amount when she finally gets home and is ready for bed. Tonight she had an abbreviated shower (to wash off sunscreen and bug spray) and I only read her one book. Not the typical three or four or five. I was going to try to get away without even reading the one book, but it was clear that that was not an option. She argued half-heartedly for more, but gave up. It is 10:45 now, and very quiet. The kiddo must have fallen asleep...shhhhh.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mean Mommies Don't Get Vacay?

So, I took the week off. Well, from blogging. As a mommy, especially a mean mommy, I don't get a lot of time off. Hubby had some vacay time--most of which he spent working from home--so I decided to take it easy, too. (Yeah, right.)

During the week, we went berry picking, to a pool (the "Frog Pond", for you locals), a "cash mob", a "pub run", a local farmers' market, and a kids' race. Hubby and I also took a day off and took a day trip to do some wine tasting and then some shopping at Trader Joe's. Whew! With all the gallivanting around, I had plenty of opportunities for mean mommy moments. The highlights:
  • The kiddo insisted on doing the pub run with hubby and me. We didn't have a babysitter lined up, so we said OK. Big mistake. Although she can happy trudge along for over the 3-mile distance, she chose not to do so and complained the whole time. Hubby and I (mostly hubby) took turns walking with her, but she still complained. However, I had a little mishap and ended up bloody and bruised in two places. I kept running, reminding the kiddo how I had major boo boos and yet kept going.
  • Right after having seen her friends at the berry farm, the Frog Pond, and the race, the kiddo asked when she could have a play date with her friends. Excuse me? She got to see a whole bunch of her friends; I'm not sure who else she expected to see.
Another mom brought her kids to the kids' race, and she had some trouble with one of them:
"Don't you hate it when one of your kids behaves so inappropriately that despite your warnings, you have to leave an event, thus disappointing your other kid (and you). Luckily other kid isn't that bummed or else I'd have two pissy kids in their rooms. Gotta follow through and stay in control. And note to difficult kid, if you think I'm mean now, just wait until you're a teenager." -- mean mommies don't get time off...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Opera Drives Me Bat5h!t Crazy!

In a perfect world, no one would annoy us, irritate us, or drive us crazy. We would live together in harmony, appreciating and valuing our differences. But no, not in reality. Every day--some days, multiple times--I must grit my teeth and suffer through the recurrence of a kiddo habit that drives me crazy. Well, there are several of them, but the one that is my current pet peeve is when the kiddo speaks and/or sings in an extremely high, shrill, screechy voice. It is so high, words are indistinguishable, except maybe to a dog. Once, I saw a glass vibrating and was certain it was going to shatter. Is the kiddo role playing--taking on the persona of a favorite TV character or imaginary friend? If so, should I yell at the offending character? Or is she channeling her inner Mariah Carey? No Grammy for you, my dear! Generally, I approve of her creative endeavors, unless they cause me pain. While I haven't yet had to pop an aspirin because of her shrillness, I can't say that I'm a fan.

So, my question is, do I have to put up with a habit that drives me bat5h!t crazy?

Mothering is the ultimate sacrifice: we give up part of our bodies to grow our babies; we sacrifice sleep to attend to them around the clock. We grudgingly accept the loss of huge chunks of hair while those extra pounds refuse to budge. Our schedules shift to accommodate play dates and mommy-and-me classes, then drop-off and pick-up, and finally, extra-curricular and after school activities.

Been there, done most of that. Why, then, should I also lose both my sanity and my hearing?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ignoring the Emotional Blackmail of a Pint-Sized Terrorist

It's only noon, and I feel like it has been a long day.

First, the kiddo and I went to the gym--I went to two classes and she hung out in the child care area with some friends. Typical Tuesday. What happened on the way home, however, was far from typical. At least it better be. It better be an isolated incident.

When we left the gym, the kiddo was her normal, happy-go-lucky self, until we got in the car. Then, it was as if someone flipped a switch and she started complaining about being hungry. Mind you, she had breakfast. She just chose not to eat all of it. That, too, is fairly common, so I wasn't concerned. Apparently, I should have been. The kiddo started whining about how she was starving, and asked if we could go out to get something to eat. I said no-can-do, since we had food at home and I didn't feel like going anywhere but the shower. That set her off. She insisted that she was starving and demanded that I take her somewhere and buy her something to eat. When I asked if she had eaten all her breakfast, she said that she hadn't. (Um, could that be the reason she was so hungry??) Finally, I had to tell her that I refused to have the same conversation over and over, and that she already knew the answers to the questions she was asking. That was when she exploded. "You always do that!" she bellowed, and started throwing her paper around the back seat. OK. Enough of the 'tude. I pulled into the turning lane, put the flashers on, and told her that I wasn't taking her anywhere until she calmed down and started acting like a lady. She pouted the rest of the way home. Then she ate the rest of her oatmeal and politely asked for some apple sauce. After she ate that, I offered her a Lara Bar and that made her day, and she thanked me and was back to being my sweet kiddo.

OK, so the kiddo was hungry because she didn't eat enough before we went out. I get that. I can remind her when we will be gone for several hours and encourage her to eat a good meal so she doesn't get hungry, but I can't force feed her. I could have packed a snack, but I was planning on coming straight home. The real issue seemed to be that the kiddo wanted to go out to eat. We went to the pool yesterday and had snacks in the car on the way home, and Sunday, hubby took her to the fair and they came home with milkshakes, so I think she is going out enough and getting sufficient treats. The rest seems to be pushing my buttons and testing me to see when I will cave. So, did I cave when I gave her the Lara Bar? I was going to give it to her anyway...

Monday, July 15, 2013

She Wore A....

Today at the pool, a mom was observed smacking her son because he tried to pull down her strapless bathing suit top. I don't know if he was anywhere successful, but please. If you are going to wear a strapless top around kids, that's what's going to happen. Have some common sense!

One More For The Arsenal

Another Mean Mommy clean-up trick: when cleaning out your car, empty it of toys and shoes and clothes when it is parked outside. Just toss the items out of the car onto the ground. Once your child sees where her stuff is, suggest that it might rain. She will bust her butt picking everything up and hauling it inside. Of course, she might dump it right inside the front door, but at least your car will look a little better.

I devised this trick yesterday when I was fed up with the amount of stuff in my car. Most of it was in the back seat. Now, I'm sure it seems unfair that I get to keep most of my stuff in the front seat (you know, first aid kit, backup sunscreen, notebook, backup sunglasses, bug spray...), but I felt that the back seat was a little out of control. In addition to the inevitable crumbs, cups, wrappers, and tissues, I counted:
  • 1 Barbie 
  • 4 Princesses (mini)
  • 1 stuffed animal/backpack thingie
  • 2 empty totebags
  • 1 3-D puzzle 
  • 1 drawing pad
  • some play food
  • 4 pairs of shoes
To be fair, some of this was leftover from a recent day trip, but it's still a lot of stuff (I'm trying hard not to call it "crap"). And, it looked bad. I mean, I take my car out, you know, like, in public. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Burn For Eternity?

Sunscreen. It's sticky, goopy, slimey, and annoying. It's also a necessity, even a life saver. I have had several bad burns and a bout with basal cell carcinoma (AKA skin cancer), and I don't want the kiddo to go through that. However, thanks to common sense and sunscreen, the pain and misery are avoidable. The trick is to actually get the sunscreen on the skin. 

The kiddo and I have a routine during the school year: every morning before she gets her bookbag (and before I squirt her hair with the lice repellant), I smear sunscreen on her face. Yup, in winter, too. The school's policy is that the kids will go outside for recess as long as it isn't raining/snowing and the temperature is above 40° F. Sometimes they go out for gym class, and yet again before packing up, and then I pick the kiddo up and walk her home. That's a lot of potential UVA/UVB exposure. 

Other times, we don't really have a routine. Of course, I slather sunscreen on the kiddo when we go to the pool or the beach, but in the summer, since we don't have a set routine, it's often a last minute thing. On those occasions, she's not as patient as she is when she's getting ready for school. Then I have to hold her still and smear it all over her while she complains. However, she has seen firsthand and in pictures what can happen if you don't protect your skin, so she relents and helps rub it in. (When she was little, though, I had to chase her down and smear it on her real fast before she slipped away!)

I will share my pics with you. This is a basal cell carcinoma, the least serious skin cancer. It's still ugly, especially with the spontaneous bleeding. Yuck. Getting stitches in my nose isn't on my list of favorite things, either. It was numb, but I could still feel the tugging.  This was really a small spot (but I had to have it removed FOUR times!), but at least one relative of mine has been diagnosed with melanoma. I'm all for preventative medicine, which in this case means sunscreen.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Ah, summer...

This past Saturday, hubby, kiddo and I went to a fantastic outdoor festival; there was live music, vendors, food, and wine tasting. Even though there were tents, I anticipated being out in the open much of the time, and I made sure that we were all slathered in sunscreen. All over. Except for two small patches on my back. Later that evening, my mistake became quite evident as those two patches turned lobster red. Ouch! Hubby put Solarcaine spray on my sunburn, and life went on...until yesterday. It started to itch. And itch. And itch. I sprayed it, but it took a while for the spray to work. In the mean time, I started to scratch it. Yes, I know, not a good idea. No, I don't want it to get infected. Here's where things got tricky. The kiddo didn't like seeing me writhing and twitching and squirming, so she offered to scratch it for me. Noooo! I knew that she was offering out of the goodness of her heart, sincerely wanting to ease my suffering, but I couldn't take the chance that she would hurt me by scratching too hard. So, over and over, I had to tell her "no", while trying to reach the affected area with a hairbrush. Not confusing or anything.

Being helpful is a big deal to kids, my kiddo included. There are many things that she wants to do that she can't do yet. Most things with knives, tools, cooking on the stove...I don't want to always tell her "no" and put a damper on her enthusiasm. So, yesterday, I gladly accepted her sympathy hugs and kisses, and then let her husk the corn for dinner.

Today she tried to touch my sunburn to rub the cream in, and I jumped a foot and screamed "don't touch it". I know, I know, she was just trying to help...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Would You Like a Side of Snark To Go With Your 'Tude?

As moms, we want to protect our kiddos from all kinds of dangers, injustices and disappointments while encouraging them to embrace their uniqueness and discover their true identities. We realize that, as they get older, we need to do less of this work for them and prompt them to do it themselves. We hope that we have taught them well. And then, sometimes, we must say "screw it" and go all mama bear on bullies who don't play fair.

Mean Mommy H says: "At Mc D's in line when 2 boys, who were a couple (ages 17 to 20?) were making comments about C's shorts and they walked away they said " I'm gonna go get an ugly cowboy hat and some cut up some daisy dukes" in a smart snotty way referring to C's I called them out on it with a few choice words". H's daughter is 14 and exploring her personal style, but gosh, she's still at an age when snide comments from strangers can sting. I was quite excited to hear the "choice words" H had for those two young men: "I said "real f-ing cute"...and then gave them the "mom eye". Bullies, they were just mean bullies and no one messes with my babies", she stated. 

Now, C is pretty and blond and thin, and quite confident, but as I said, she is 14 years old. What are those two "gentlemen" going to do next? Steal french fries from a 5-year old?  Push an elderly man out of their way?

I'm wondering what the guys' moms would think about their comments. Whatever happened to "Pick on someone your own size" or "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" or "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? And the part about them being a couple? It's unlikely that they have never been on the receiving end of negative comments, don't you think? 

A confession: I was expecting H's comments to be a bit stronger. I say this because I know that she is devoted to her kids, and I was thinking of something more along the lines of "What, did you leave your manners at home?" or "You know, we can hear you. We know you're jerks. You can stop now." or even "Go be an a$$h013 somewhere else."

Of course, it's one of those situations where it's easy to come up with something clever to say when you are not the one on the spot. If I were in that situation, I probably wouldn't think of anything good to say until I was ruminating on it later. However, I would still stand up for my kiddo, because no one messes with my baby, either.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ha! Copy This!!

"Stop copying me!"
"Stop copying me!"
"No, really, stop copying me!"
"No, really, stop copying me!"

All kids do this, to one another, but also to parents. It gets annoying when it gets to this stage:

"Honey, please pick up your toys."
"Honey, please pick up your toys."
"Funny. Now, please."
"Funny. Now, please."
"If I have to pick them up, they will go in time out."
"If I have to pick them up, they will go in time out."

Seriously, that drove me crazy when I was a kid; I have low tolerance for it as an adult. So when the kiddo does it and it has gone on too long, I will say something in Spanish*. She will do her absolute best to mimic me, and if her pronunciation needs some help, I'll just say it again. And again, as necessary. She thinks it fun for a while, but when she realizes that we're having a lesson and I'm enjoying it way too much, she will stop. Until next time, heh heh heh...

*Don't worry if you don't speak another language! You can always say things like "I'm going to help Mom clean the house today", then, after they repeat that, get all excited and thank them profusely and give them a chore. (OK, I haven't gone that far--yet--but it's on my list of tricks. I'm kinda looking forward to it.)