Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ningal Balls

When you live with a three year old, it's a lot like living with a stand up comedian.

If you can get past all the things they do to drive you insane, they are quite funny.  Like, completely hilarious.

I'm convinced that this, combined with their propensity to profess their love of their mommies at random is what keeps them alive.

They're lucky they are cute.

AJ dropped Jello on the carpet last night.  RED Jello.

He ground PlayDoh into the carpet last week.

Wrote on the kitchen wall with a dry erase marker a few weeks ago.  (For those of you who have not yet experienced the joy of dry erase markers, let me just warn you that they are WAY worse than Sharpies.  It's so not coming off.)

He peed on his Dad at McDonald's last night.  At least they were in the bathroom, and it wasn't intentional.  But still.

And yet he's alive.

There are reasons.

One of the Christmas decorations around here is a singing snowman with his dog.
The snowman sings Jingle Bells, and the dog barks along, then shakes and rings the bells.  When Aidan was two or three, we got it for the first time, and he'd shake right along with the dog every time he pushed the button.  It was so damn cute.  Everyone we knew went out and got one of these so that Aidan could do his jiggle for them.

Now, all these years later, the snowman is still singing.  I had to change the batteries this year, but it still works great.

AJ's preschool class is singing Jingle Bells the last day of school, and he needs to practice.  What better way to get him to learn the words than with this adorable little singing toy?  He practices and practices and practices.

He does the shimmy too, just like Aidan did.

Except the song AJ is singing sounds a bit more like Ningal Balls.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bow Worthy

I'm not in the Christmas spirit.

I may get there at some point, but I don't anticipate it being anytime in the immediate future.  Unless someone makes me sit through watching The Polar Express.  Damn that movie, gets me every time.

I even put up all the decorations, but I'm just not feeling it.

The Christmas songs have taken over the airwaves of a few local radio stations, and I flip right on past every time.

You know what irks me the most though?  What seriously makes me roll my eyes and want to scream every single time I see them?

Those stupid ass Lexus commercials.

You know the ones.  The December to Remember Event crap.

Now, apologies in advance to those of you out there who drive Lexuses.  Or know people who do.  Or care about me offending people about a commercial in the first place.

These commercials make me hate Lexus owners.  

Especially the ones who just got a car for Christmas one day.

Really, we all know you are rich.  We get it.  But do you really have to remind us in 15 minute increments?   Tell all the rest of the world that no matter how good a gift you get this year, you'll never measure up to this?   Do you really have to have a specially programmed video game made just so you can tell your trophy wife you got her a new car?  Do the bows really have to be that big and ostentatious?

It's the in your face yes, we're really better than you are nature of these commercials that just pisses me off.

Show me a commercial with this in it, and I might get a little car envy.
Sorry, Spence.  I totally pimped your picture.
Now, that is a car worthy of a bow.

Crazy thing is, a Lexus is just a Toyota that got dressed up fancy.  Bet that makes you think about the commercials a little differently, eh?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Hoppers

That's it.

I'm convinced.

We just need to change our last name.  We should be the Hoppers. We are the Hoppers.

It would make more sense.

I completely laughed out loud yesterday when we were unpacking the Christmas decorations.  Sitting on top of the first box I opened, an ornament.  A broken, now one legged ornament.

You have to appreciate the coincidence.

Ashley is still in a cast.  Still.  This is the injury that never ends.  It's been ongoing since mid-August.  We're crossing our fingers and toes and legs and arms and everything else we can cross this week.  She has an appointment on Wednesday, and could actually be getting it off.

Not that it will happen overnight, but someday soon she might be back to running around.  Her inability to get the excess energy out of her system has taken a toll on her.  And me.

Anymore, it's like she has one of those early warning alarms on her forehead.  You know, like the ones they always have in movies with imminent nuclear fallout.  Danger. Danger. Danger.

My mom is staying with us, figuring out how to maneuver through life after her surgery.  It's a huge change for her, and it's definitely a learning process.

Then there is Aidan.  Oh, that child.

He's the one who got a concussion on the way to the dinner table this summer.

He fell down the basement stairs last night.  The unfinished wood stairs, the ones that go straight down the the concrete on the bottom.  Thankfully he was carrying an empty box and it broke his fall somewhat.  Could have been worse.  At least he didn't land on his head.

He did hurt his leg.  The xrays didn't show a clear break, but I've learned not to blindly trust xrays on the day of the injury.  We'll have to wait it out and see how it does in the next couple of days.  In the meantime, he's in an air cast.  Can't put any weight on it.  Now using the scooter that his sister has had forever.

It's a good thing we didn't return it.

As we were walking out of the hospital last night, Aidan hobbling through the parking lot, trying to use his sister's crutches and failing miserably, I laughed a little.

Maybe this is all part of someone's bizarre plan.  Maybe this isn't just a weird coincidence, that now three people under one roof are casted and hopping.

Maybe we're unwillingly building a one-legged army.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This version of me

I feel a bit like I'm not doing anything right these days.

It doesn't matter what I do, it always seems like I'm messing something up.

I am usually the one who can fix things, make them right.  I can't.  I can't fix anything anymore.

I've neglected the things I am supposed to be in charge of.  I've flaked on others.

I'm too busy, too tired, too exhausted to even think about it most of the time.

I'm not one for excuses, but I seem to have a bunch of them lately.

I haven't been the most patient mother.

I haven't been a very good friend.

I haven't been a lot of things.

For a long time.

If it's worth anything, though, I think that things will get better.  I hope they do anyway.

Though this version of me is far from perfect, this version of me is still standing.

That's got to count for something.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nice try

Ashley started running a fever yesterday, again.

I don't even flinch until the kid is over 103.

And she was.  Head buried in the corner of the couch, rhythmic swaying, and the moan that tells me she feels way more awful than she looks.

I know this kid pretty well, and I know that once she's over 103, we have no choice but to ride it out.  If I give her anything for pain or the fever, she's going to throw it up almost immediately.

She didn't eat dinner, but by the time she went to bed she seemed to be feeling a little better.

All the other kids were camping out in Aidan's room for the night, and she wasn't about to miss out on the fun.  Of course, my mind immediately started dreading the aftermath of her throwing up on all of them, if it came to that.  Reluctantly, we agreed to let her go in there.

A few hours later, she woke us up.  Crying.  Said she had to throw up.  Wanted to sleep with us.  No thanks, honey.

We told her to go in the bathroom if she felt like she was going to be sick, and that she could sleep on the floor as long as she brought her bowl.

Eventually she went back to sleep.

I knew she felt better this morning when Ally came in for her morning cuddle.  Tom was talking to Ally about taking her to the pool later today, when Ashley sat up bright eyed and bushy tailed, full of attitude.  Said this:

You know, Ally, I threw up two times last night.  So you should be nice to me.

Tom and I both laughed.  She never threw up.  I called her on it, then scolded her for lying.  Not getting any sympathy that way, sweetheart.

Oh, and I'm going to guess you feel better.  ;)

Friday, November 25, 2011

That's how it goes around here

Aidan's barking like a seal again, and Ashley is running a 103 fever. It's coming around again, whatever it is. Welcome to my life.

My days have been full of things I never thought I'd have to do, and I'm feeling perpetually overwhelmed.

Poor me.

Boo freaking hoo, right?

At least there is beer and there are margaritas.

Through circumstances I'm still not ready to disclose here, I realized again that my Dad's birthday is in a few days. Was in a few days.

I hate semantics that way.

I miss him something fierce right now, but then again I always have this time of year, even long before he was gone.

For as long as I've been around, as for sure before then too, this weekend of Thanksgiving also always meant that it was his birthday.  The two so historically intertwined that at least in my head and heart they will never be separate.

Thanksgiving will always be his that way.

After we moved away, Thanksgiving, and his birthday by default, usually meant that I'd spend half my days wishing I hadn't moved. The other half would be spent playing phone tag with him.

It was that way every year except the one that AJ was born. That year, we scheduled his baptism on this weekend on purpose. I'd get the baptism and Thanksgiving and his birthday and him all here. For once. Even my brother and sister in law made the trip with him and mom.  I'll always have that night.

Then, the year after that and only two years ago now, we were there. In a hurry.  To celebrate a holiday with the man who we knew wouldn't see many more. The day before Thanksgiving, he'd started chemotherapy. Thanksgiving night he was too sick to eat. His birthday was no different, though he tried to eat the cherry cheesecake he loved every year before that.

Last year, we were home here. I'd just as well forget last year. He was there and we were here and there are so many other things about that day that I'd just as well force out of my memory forever.

And here we are, now.

This year, Thanksgiving was really not the least of my worries. I could have cared less about turkeys and pie and tradition. I had other things wholly distracting me from the holiday itself. Which is probably better anyhow. And then today, I was reminded of what lies before us in a few days. The inevitable day that falls sometime this weekend.

His birthday.

The first one he won't be here for.

I got in the car alone this afternoon, needing to run some errands.

As I turned the key in the ignition, this song started on the radio. If I die young, by The Band Perry. Dad loved country music, but he started not being able to listen to it after songs like this hit heavy rotation. I hate music sometimes even though I love it all the rest.
Just like that, I was crying. No warning sometimes, that's how it goes around here.

I looked up at the gorgeous sky, the storm moving over the mountains, the sun heavy in the horizon. Just above, a heart shaped cloud.

Hasn't happened in a while, but I know he's out there somewhere still. Just making sure his baby is okay.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. I love you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Full

In the chaos of my life, today is a break.  A time to reflect on the things going right.  A day to try and push aside all the rest.

I'm thankful that my Mom made it here in time.

I'm thankful that my brother, his wife and babies will be with family today.

I'm thankful for the years of memories I have with my Dad.

I'm thankful for the chance to fall in love with my husband again.

I'm thankful for my children.  Even if they drive me crazy, I know how lucky we are to have them.

I'm even thankful for my dog.  I taught him to talk this year, and that's pretty awesome.  No, seriously, he talks.  Every time I come home he says, "hiiiiiii".

Okay, I know you don't believe me.

I'm determined to record it.

I hope that each and every one of you have a day filled with reminders of what you have to be thankful for.

We can be pissed off together again tomorrow, honest.  ;)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In defense of big families

I've had a lot of time to think about this lately.

There are all kinds of reasons to only have a couple kids.  Money, space, sanity.

I'm not intending to diminish the importance of those reasons at all.

I am just at a place in my life where it would be better to have more siblings.  More people to lean on, turn to, need.

This is more a long term, big picture argument.  Preparation for the what ifs in life.

I'm eternally grateful that I'm not on this road alone, that I've got my brother to drag along with me.

I do have to admit that there is a piece of me right about now that wishes there were more of us.

At the same time, I'll obligingly deal with the challenges of parenting my herd of children if it makes things easier for them later on.

Freedom?

The times we live in are not calm and settled.  Our government is proving time and again that agreements are not easy to come by.  Elected officials on both sides of the aisle forgetting that their most important job is the service of the people.

In this post 9/11 world we live in, things are just different.  We know now that we are vulnerable to attack on our own soil.  We've fought a few wars that may or may not have had anything to do with those attacks since.  We've spent billions, if not trillions of dollars on the idea that we can defend ourselves and keep the peace in the rest of the world.  Thousands of our men and women have been sent off to combat zones, never to return home again.

We live in a world where a man spends 13 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread, but those who set up huge fraud schemes and steal millions sometimes walk free.  We live in a world where money and influence govern our nation, not fairness and good judgment.

We live in a country where the wealth has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few, at  expense of the many.  The gap between the haves and the have nots widening.  People have been unemployed for months, if not years.  Many of those employed have seen their salaries stagnate while the cost of everything went up.  Do more with less, the theme of all the downsizing companies.  Put more on the shoulders of those still with jobs.

All the while, the pay for high ranking corporate officials hasn't taken a hit.  There was never a requirement of a cap on salaries and bonuses for all the bailed out companies.  Go ahead, take home your multi-million dollar bonuses and ask the American people to save your ass.  Sure.

We'll bail you out, then sit idly by as the government that just shelled out all that money decides to cut spending on education.  Right.

Trouble is, people are mad as hell and don't want to take it anymore.

All across the country, people have been staging protests.  And no, not everyone involved in these protests are left wing extremists.

Some have involved clashes with the authorities where the protesters actually initiated the conflict, but the vast majority of them have been non-violent.  Cities have enacted new laws to keep people from gathering in public spaces.  Riot police have been called, hauling off those who sat and refused to leave.  College students have been sprayed with pepper spray for no good reason at all.

I don't know about you, but that last one really makes me angry.

In this country, we are all guaranteed freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly.  We are guaranteed the right to speak up about the injustices in our government.  These are our rights as citizens of this nation.

In the words of our forefathers, the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Our forefathers would be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not this year

I made up my mind.  I'm not going out shopping on Black Friday this year.

It's not because we suddenly have an unlimited Christmas budget.

It's not because I don't love a good deal.

It's not because the thrill of the hunt is suddenly gone.

It's just that this year is a whole lot different than years past, in a whole bunch of ways.

This year, I have help.  All of a sudden, for whatever reason, Tom wants to be in charge of shopping for the kids.  He hasn't been for many years.  Half the time, he was just as surprised as they were when they opened gifts.

This year, he's calling the shots.  Looking for deals.  Ordering things online.

We'll go out together sometime before the big day to get the little stuff.  Together.  Which is weird, but in a good way.

I have one store I plan to buy from on Black Friday, but will do it online.

I have no desire to fight the crowds this year.

It's not worth saving five bucks.

Besides, I'm more than a little bit annoyed with the retailers this year.  It seems like every year, Black Friday starts earlier and earlier.  This year many have pushed it back to midnight Thanksgiving night.

Having worked in retail myself, I can tell you that this move benefits one group only: the retailers.

It doesn't help the shoppers, who aren't being lured with any more deals than before.  Quantities are still extremely limited.  The ads that get you in the store hardly are worth it, since they only have a few in stock of whatever is on sale.  A few will get the deals, everyone else is left to fight for the scraps.  Oh, and to even have a shot at the deals now, you'd better forgo that time with your family.  You've got a line to stand in.

It doesn't help the employees, many of whom are now being plucked from the families in the middle of their holiday meals.  I've been in their shoes, I know that the amount they are getting paid an hour is completely not worth being forced to show up at work in the middle of the night.  Many retailers forbid employees from asking for time off this time of year, and will fire them if they don't show up. This year, lots of them will be required to report at 8pm on Thanksgiving night for a few bucks more than minimum wage.

So if you remove the shoppers and the employees, who is left to benefit from this change?

There's only one answer.

The retailers.  Corporate greed.  The powers that be, the people making these decisions, they aren't the ones standing in lines desperate to stretch their limited budgets.  Instead, they are fooling people into believing that the move here is being made for the benefit of everyone.  They aren't the ones being forced to work on Thanksgiving night.  Nope.  They will be home, with their families, where all the shoppers and employees are supposed to be.  They are perfectly capable of buying their kids whatever they want with their over-inflated salaries, and are now lining their pockets with another day of sales.

I'm boycotting Black Friday.

In fact, that term needs to be discarded.  Black Friday no longer exists, by and large.

Now, it's just another day.

And another way that the retailers have invalidated a tradition in this country, made Thanksgiving just another day on the calendar.  First it was the early decorations going up, then the commercials, then the radio stations playing Christmas music in the beginning of November.  Now, they've gone too far, trying to strip Thanksgiving of all it's meaning.

Stay home with your families.  Tell the retailers no.

Maybe you'll spent a few bucks more, but maybe next year the retailers will reconsider.

Thanksgiving isn't just a speed bump on the way to Christmas.  It's a holiday, all it's own.

I say we take it back.

Monday, November 21, 2011

When I grow up

As a parent, possibly your most important job in the world is to be supportive of your children.  To encourage them, but ultimately let them choose their own path.  To give them the tools to be a morally upstanding, productive member of society.

To remind them that they do need to learn multiplication tables and geometry for the simple fact that one day they will use that information all the time.  To encourage them to speak properly and learn how to write clearly and concisely, to communicate well.  To learn about history, in part so that they can understand how our society got to where it is today, but also because you don't want to be humiliated if they ever get interviewed for something on TV and sound like an uneducated bumbling idiot.

You've seen the shows I am talking about.

Every child has their interests and loves, every child has their inherent strengths and weaknesses.  It's no huge surprise to me that Aidan wavers between becoming a pastry chef, an engineer or an architect.  Those careers involve specialized knowledge and require a degree of out of the box spatial creativity, which the kid has had since he was born.

As for AJ, who knows?  I'm holding out hope that he could be my kid that makes it in professional sports, then buys his mom a huge beautiful house someday.  It's kind of scary how fast he picks up on things, and the dude can already throw a spiral with a football clear across the house.  He has been riding a razor scooter for well over a year.  He's also a crazy good dancer, with a natural sense of rhythm.  I have a feeling his future career will have to involve something physically demanding, no matter what it is.

Then there are the girls.  Both of them are insanely good at math, but for whatever reason have already picked up on society's judgment of girls like that.  I keep trying to tell them that smart girls are really the cool ones.   Besides, there is nothing wrong with being a dork anyway.  I am a dork, I own it.  I Fight Dragons song The Geeks will Inherit the Earth playing on the radio right now is helping a little.
I hate how much they already care about what other people think about them, and fight it at every opportunity.  Having girls is complicated.  Sigh.

It doesn't help that they have me for a mother.  The smart dorky girl who was on the way to a wildly successful career until life got in the way.  The smart dorky girl who is just a mom now, whatever that means.  I struggle, as I think all moms of little girls do, with giving them the "right" example.  Is it better to work full time or is it better to put that aside and stay home?  No one can answer that question, and we all want to believe we are making the right choice.

Anyway, trying to guess what they will be someday is harder than it is with the boys.  Ally is pretty sure she's going to be a pop star.  Not sure what the likelihood of that is, but I'm going to assume she should have a back up plan, just in case.  So far, she doesn't think she needs one.

Then there's Ashley.  Since she was a toddler, she's had a thing for animals.  Cats, dogs, birds, mice, anything at the zoo.....you get where I am going with this.  She often has a hard time communicating with people, but can speak to animals in a unique way.  Her kindergarten teacher predicted that she'd one day be a veterinarian years ago, and it's still on her short list.  She added nurse after realizing that it would take at least 8 years after high school to be a vet.

I'd be perfectly happy for her to be either, but the most recent addition to her list has me slightly more concerned...maybe because she is the most excited about it.

Ashley wants to be a waitress.

Which, honestly, is fine.  But it's not a career goal.

When I was her age, I wanted to be an astronaut.   You're still supposed to have high hopes and aspirations at eight.  Even if, like me, life will come along and squash your dreams eventually....aim a little higher, honey.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

You can't fix it

Some people are just stupid.

I'm not talking about whether someone is intelligent or not, whether they are educated or not.  I'm not referring to whether they can somehow get through college or hold down successful jobs.  That really has nothing to do with it.

The kind of stupid I'm talking about here is something completely different.

It's the complete and total lack of awareness at how idiotic their choices are.

The open-mouth-insert-foot, rinse and repeat phenomenon.

The inappropriate things they say.

The allegiance they pledge to things that are completely contradictory to the way they live their lives.

The dumb ass things they write on Facebook.

The times when they do or say things that force everyone around them to stare in disbelief, thinking REALLY, did that actually just happen?

How could someone be that stupid?

Trouble is, stupid happens everyday, in every town.

Friends don't let friends be stupid.  Unless you have stupid friends...then you're shit out of luck.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rawr

I'm sitting here watching Jurassic Park 2.  I think.  I've never actually paid enough attention to the second and third movies to tell them apart.  As a general rule, I'm not much a fan of sequels.  It's pretty hard to ever compare to the original films.

Except The Godfather, Part II.  And, (showing my dork again) Return of the Jedi.

Anyway, whenever one of the movies from this series is on, I make sure to scare the crap out of my kids with every possible opportunity.

Some might say that makes me a bad mommy.

I think it makes me awesome.

Aidan was probably about six or seven the first time we let him watch the movie.  The girls, by default, were younger.  We told them that they could choose to watch something else in the other room if they wanted.  We reassured them that it was just a movie, and that dinosaurs have never roamed the Earth at the same time as humans.

They would get scared and hide behind blankets and us whenever some dinosaur was roaring or chasing someone.

Aidan decided at some point to try and freak his sisters out by turning the lights off.  He went around, giggling, turning off every single light in the house.  The darkness coupled with the surround sound made for a pretty good viewing experience, even if the girls were constantly begging for the lights to be turned back on.

We'd turn them on, the giggling older brother kept turning them off again.

When it got to the scene with the raptors in the kitchen....you know the one where they think they are safe, but realize that the raptors can open doors....I decided to mess with him.

It was only fair, right?

I suggested that if he wanted it to be even darker, he should close the door to the laundry room.

Of course, I knew that if he did that, the dogs would scratch at the door within seconds.  And they did.  He looked around, a little uneasy at the sound of the scratching.  Asked me what the sound was.

I told him that maybe, just maybe, it was the raptors.

Panic filled his eyes.

He rationalized he was safe too, with the door being closed and all.

At just that moment, the raptors in the movie opened the door.  Jake hit the handle of the door with a timing and precision I never could have dreamt of, like we'd been rehearsing this for years.

Aidan freaked out.

He wouldn't go near that laundry room door for a long time, and still gets mad at me all these years later when I tell him to check for raptors.

Careful, they can open doors.

The lesson to be learned here....Don't mess with your sisters.  You'll pay for years.  Years.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The rest of it

I feel a bit like I've been to hell and back.  A few times.

I tried not to think about what yesterday was, but then I found myself sitting a parking lot crying.  I knew why.

Two years ago yesterday, on November 17, 2009, my father was formally diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

These past two years....just wow.

The diagnosis wasn't a complete shock, at least not to me.  Once he'd told me about the mass that showed up on the MRI of his shoulder, I knew that probably wasn't going to be indicative of anything good.  Then the doctors suddenly started moving faster, and tests were ordered and blood work done.

I'd walked the scary path of medical urgency before, and I knew what it probably meant.

Still, it's one of those days that I'll always remember.  I'll remember who I was talking to on the phone, trying to distract my mind from impatiently waiting from them with news.  I'll remember sinking to the floor against the wall and sobbing once the receiver went dead on the other side.  I'll remember walking outside and telling my husband the news.  I'll remember making up my mind at that exact moment that though we weren't prepared for a trip at all, we were going to California for Thanksgiving in a few days.  We had to.

They didn't give him a lot of time, they tried hard not to give him false hope.  He fought like hell for as long as his body would let him.

He softened.  He loved a little more.  He grew patience quickly.  He saw the beauty in simple things.

Often, he didn't need to talk about anything at all to feel comforted.  He just wanted to share the same space with us, and that was enough.

Things became less important, time became more.

He spent more of his effort on taking care of things that needed done, far less on worrying about the things that most people occupy their minds with all day.

He was doing this on his own terms.  And he did, until the day he died.

I thought for sure that losing him would be the hard part.  I know now that it wasn't.  In many ways, it was the easiest.

He made sure of that.

He found peace before he went, and that was a gift to us all.

It's everything else that has been harder.  The tragedies in my own life since then.  The tragedies in the lives of others.  The things he wasn't here for.  The things he couldn't help with.  The times when I'd have given anything to call him.  When I've needed encouraged that I was making the right choice, when I've needed reminded that I am strong and capable and can get through anything.  When I've wanted him in my corner, ready to fight.  When I just needed someone to tell me that everything would be okay.

Those are the hard times.

This year has been the most catastrophic of my life.  I have lost so much, far more than you all are aware.  Questioned who I am, who I should be.  Doubted everything I thought I knew.  Wondered where I go from here.  Worried if I can do it all.

His voice in my head tells me I can.

I have to trust that he's right.

Life's not about worrying about what already happened, it's about what you do with the rest of it.
My Dad, Thanksgiving weekend 2009

God, I miss him right now.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stuck in the middle

As promised, I am writing about my oldest child yet again.  Poking fun at him.

That's how I roll.

In my defense, I completely warned him that I was going to do this. Even offered not to if he'd finish his chores in a timely fashion.  He chose not to.  I cautioned him again, vowing to write this story.  He said go ahead, mom.

Make my day.

Okay, so he didn't actually say that part, I just imagined it my head.

I have been insanely busy today, which explains why this is the first time today that I've sat down in the same place for more than a few minutes.

Phew.

This story, I promise, was worth the wait.

We took the kids out to dinner last night at Red Robin.

Yum.

Sorry, it's just automatic.

Incidentally, please tell me that I am not the only parent who, upon thinking that going out to eat is the easier option, quickly realizes that it's way more work to take them out in public.

We sat down at the booth and the kids were on their first of three trips to the bathroom. We ordered their drinks.

Aidan came back to the table and saw 4 plastic kiddie cups sitting on the table, with their protective lids and bendy straws.  He gave me the face that says this:

Really, Mom?!?!?!

I apologized, and told him that's what they brought.  Now shut up and drink your soda, you ingrate.  Just kidding, I didn't really say that, just thought it in my own head.

Anyway, he quickly asked if he could order off the regular menu, and I told him that he probably couldn't.  The kiddie cup committed him to the kids menu by virtue of it's existence.  Sorry, dude.  Besides, the menu is for kids 10 and under.  You're still 10.  And I'm the mom.  So there.

He frowned and reluctantly ordered from the kids menu.  His animosity towards the kids menu stopped when he remembered that he could color it.

After the second trip to the bathroom, the food arrived.  He ate every scrap in his tiny basket, of course.  Then pleaded for more food.  He pulled out his menu again and circled the top, where it says "10 and under", as if to say, "See, Mom....I told you I need more food than this".  Slid it across the table, pointing to the crayon encircled line at the top.

I reminded him again that he was indeed still 10 years old, and to take his complaints to the boss when his birthday rolls around in the Spring.  At that point, he will be rightfully excluded from the kids menu.

Until then, mama's getting her cheap on.

He sat in the corner, very much resembling the angst ridden pre-teen that he is, sneaking fries off my plate and finishing his sister's salad.

After the third trip to the bathroom, we headed to the exit.  AJ and Ally has stopped to get a balloon on the way out, I was dragging the hopping gimp (also known as Ashley) towards the door, her insisting that she needed the white balloon.  Aidan looked at me, then looked at the balloons.

Then I looked at him like this:

Really, Aidan?!?!?!?!

Yep.  My 10 year old boy got a balloon.

Then proceeded to skip through the parking lot with it, as happy as could be.

Guess he'll live with eating off of the kid's menu as long as he gets a balloon.

My boy, smack dab right in between being a kid and being a teenager, and loving every confused minute of it.  Balloons and all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I was kidding

Honest.  All my flippant remarks about my family's medical misadventures are intended to be jokes.

These days, I am actually starting to think that someday a wing of a hospital will be named for us.

Ashley got her fifth (yes, I said FIFTH) cast put on last week.  She's been in one for three months now, and we've officially reached the point where they have to start ruling out other potential causes.  Other, far scarier causes.  She was a trooper when they told her she'd have to get blood drawn.  She sat still and didn't even freak out at all, which is a dual victory for the girl.  Now, we wait and hope that by the next check-up everything is healed.  If not, more tests.  And more casts.

The spring soccer registration came out already, and she's itching to get back on the field.  I'm hesitant to sign her up at this point, because who knows what the future holds at this point?  Even if she gets her cast off in a few weeks, chances are she's going to be needing physical therapy at this point to rehab it.  Whether she'll be strong enough and healed enough to play in a few months isn't something I can promise her.  And I hate that.

I've been spending a lot of time at the hospital lately, for another reason.  A reason that will eventually be shared, but not until I get approval from the involved parties to post information like that.

I was already there in the hospital when Tom texted me to tell me he was on his way with Aidan.  After I left the surgery prep area, I headed to ER.  Aidan sliced through the end of his finger with the lid of a can.  How does that even happen, you may ask?  The dog got into the trash, and he was cleaning it up.  Sigh.

He too was a trooper, though I heard his initial reaction wasn't a calm and collected one.  Tom managed to get him calmed down, get the other kids taken care of, and got to the hospital without almost passing out, like he usually does when there's a lot of blood.  FTW!

Aidan even sat quietly while they injected the lidocaine into his finger, which is awesome considering he climbed into the basket beneath the double stroller at 6 when it was time to get his flu shot.  (For the record, he wasn't a small six year old and it was extraordinarily entertaining to see him try to wedge himself in there.)  Kid doesn't like needles, never has.  He toughed it out this time, and then proceeded to entertain the entire ER staff with his giggles and comments about how gross his finger looked.

At dinner the following night, we were sitting around the table just trying to add up the number of ER visits and hospital admissions and surgeries the six of us have had this year.  Aidan's had 3 ER visits now and a surgery.  Ashley has been to the ER once when she almost broke her wrist, has been in a cast for 3 months for her foot and had an MRI.  Ally got her nose cauterized in the ER after the nasty nose bleed/flu induced/vomiting episode in March.  AJ went to the ER for a concussion and had surgery on his feet.  Tom's broken his left arm and right hand, at different times of course.  Even I took a trip to the ER last month, thanks to my asthma.

The DeBie family, keeping Longmont United Hospital in business since 2005.

We need some bubble wrap.  Stat.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One of those days

There are days in the life of every person that will forever be remembered with full clarity.  The day you got married, the births of your children, the moment you walked into the first home you bought.

Not all those days are good ones though.  For me, there have been other days.  Bad ones.  The day my husband was diagnosed with cancer. The day I found out my baby had died.  The day my father took his last earthly breath.

And yesterday.

Another day that will change the course of my life, another day that will remain etched in my memory forever.

Realizing again that life doesn't much care what my plans are...there is another plan already made for me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

For Reals This Time

 I know that I've said here plenty of times that I'm not one to ask for prayers.

If you've got it in you though, and you're willing, we could use them right about now.

xoxo

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Necessary Evolution

When you are the mother of a ten year old boy, sometimes you find yourself issuing threats.  These threats evolve necessarily as the child ages, and now involve public humiliation.

Before, it used to be things like this:

You'll be sent to bed early.

You'll be sent to your room.

You'll be forced to clean your room.

You'll have to stand in the corner.

Those threats don't work anymore.  Except the corner thing, that is.  I totally will still put my 10 year old in the corner if he pisses me off.  He's old enough now that he's acquired plenty of reason to want to be sent to his room.  There's a phone and a TV and his ipod in there, all his LEGOs are housed in the confines of his room.  He's got books and art supplies and toys.

Hell, I want to be sent to his room.

Now, the threats are different.  And he's different.

He's always been a kid to enjoy lounging around in his pajamas at every possible opportunity.  I can't blame anyone but myself for that one.
As he's gotten older, though, he decided that just wearing his underwear now counts as wearing pajamas.  I find myself constantly pleading with the child to put on some pants.  I actually find myself issuing this threat at least five times a week:

Put some clothes on now or I'm going to take a picture and post it on Facebook.

As a mom, you've gotta do what you've gotta do.

And trust me when I say it, this child needs to wear some damn pants.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Manufactured humor

I feel a little bit like Dory in the movie Finding Nemo.

Just keep laughing, just keep laughing, just keep laughing.

I have to.

If I lost my sense of humor, I think I'd really be crazy by now.

Someday, eventually, I'll probably get around to writing about all the things going on in my real life.  When I do, hold on to your hats and glasses.  Keep all arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.  It's going to be a hell of a trip.

Until then, though, I'm just going to keep manufacturing reasons to make people laugh about inappropriate things.

It's what I do.

Earlier this week, Aidan had to stay home from school.  His stomach was upset.

For those of you who don't know much about my boy, he's got the weakest stomach in the free world.  The mere idea of barfing can send him running to the bathroom.  He's spent a good chunk of his childhood toting around a bowl.  I've shampooed more carpet in the middle of the night than one person should ever have to.

It's that bad.

Of course, for the moment, I will ignore the fact that his quick draw gag reflex is probably related to the fact that he was intubated at birth.  He was a preemie and his lungs were underdeveloped and I was as terrified as any new mom could be with a baby in that situation.  He was a very sick little boy.  Unfortunately, it seems as though the ventilator tubing caused permanent damage to his epiglottis and trachea, even if it saved his life at the time.  Damage that can likely never be repaired.  Which sucks.

It's more fun just to call him barfy.

In fact, he earned a new nickname this week.  Barfy the Wonder Boy.

I wasn't sure if Barfy should wear a cape.  I decided against it only because of the chance that he'd throw up on it.

Because, honestly, he's thrown up on just about everything.

Even the stairs.

I wish I was kidding.

Don't worry about Aidan, he's inherited his mother's self deprecating sense of humor.  He's good.  He voted for a cape.  ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Shame

Saturday morning, the Penn State Nittany Lions will take the field for the first time in 45 years without their head coach.  


In a scandal that has rocked the college football world, his Assistant Coach, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested this week, accused in the molestation of at least eight boys over the last 15 years.

The carnage has extended far beyond the office of the Assistant Coach.  As of this morning, Joe Pa is gone, as is the University President and a handful of other high ranking school administrators.  

According to reports, he was made aware of an abuse situation in 2002 by a graduate assistant.  Joe Pa in turn told the Athletic Director, but never alerted the authorities.  No one else involved at the school did either, even though it appears that several people knew of the situation.  Some are accused of actively suppressing it.

It's a sad day in Happy Valley.

And it's a shame.

This man, this legend of football, this constant presence in the heart of this university for nearly half a decade is gone.  

I will not today, nor will I ever defend the actions taken in this matter.  I do believe that Joe Pa had a moral and ethical, though not technically a legal, obligation to turn in his assistant and friend.  I also believe that a huge part of him probably thought he'd done the right thing, by going to his supervisor.  

If only that had been enough.  

Instead, here we sit today, with the career of a man who in large part made college football what it is, tarnished and over.  He is a legend and an icon, who will now be judged for how his tenure ended, not for everything else he accomplished while he was there. 

Happy Valley is happy no more.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You had me at rooster

I wrote about the Duggars yesterday, and mentioned on my Facebook page that I was writing about "that news story".  Most people figured I'd be writing about them, but my brother had to go another direction entirely, pointing me to a very different news story.  Bless him.

I bet he never in his wildest dreams thought that he'd eventually become an accomplice to my writing.

In case any of you wonder where I got my twisted sense of humor from, it's genetic.

For as long as I can remember, and probably a long time before that, it's been the case that most people think the legal system in Mexico is rampant with corruption.    There were always allegations of bribes.  Stories about people being hauled off to jail with no justification.  Fears about being pulled over by impostors.

Growing up in Southern California, kids were always warned about the dangers of crossing the border into Tijuana to party.   The gangs and the drug lords and the human trafficking were all bad enough on their own, but you also had to think about the fact that the police there didn't always seem too concerned about the "protecting and serving" of the people.

Easy targets, those clueless American teenagers.  The allure of shady nightclubs and bars full of sweaty college students, I never did understand.  I did my underage drinking on this side of the border, thank you very much.

I knew a lot of people that went down there to party though.  I even know a few people that have actually seen the donkey show.

True story.

When my brother told me about this news story yesterday, I was immediately intrigued.

Any international news story involving roosters is going to get my attention.

According to news reports, the men's jail in Acapulco was swept for contraband this week.  Trying to see if anyone had managed to sneak in drugs or other illegal items.  What they found, though, was far more interesting.

In no particular order:
- Drugs!  Shocker, I know.
- Weapons.
- Over 100 televisions (not allowed)  Seriously, we didn't notice those!
- 25 women, 19 of which were prostitutes.  The rest were female inmates.

Yes, these were found inside the jail.  WHERE exactly are you going to hide a TV to smuggle it in during a visit?  Just wondering.  As if that's not bad enough, here's where it gets weird.

They also found a few peacocks and over 100 roosters.
I'll be your Bubba.
I'll just go ahead and ask the question for you: What the hell?????

I'm not even sure I want to know why to be honest.  Some questions just don't need answered.  You can read the story here if you don't believe me.

In case you were wondering...all those stories about corruption...I'm gonna guess there's a hint of truth there.

Just sayin.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Nice Round Number

Praise God.

In his infinite wisdom, he's decided to bless the Duggars with yet another child.

This makes number 20.

Maybe they'll stop now, since it's such a nice round number and all.

One could hope.

I have so many ways to go on this one.  Try to follow my disjointedness if you can.

First, I have more kids than most people, so I'm really not one to sit and preach about the overpopulation of the Earth or how big our carbon footprint is or how we have to drive giant cars or any of that. (Though we own a super low emissions Honda and do live in Boulder County, so if you happen to watch South Park, you now are wondering if we also like the smell of our own farts.  The answer is yes, of course.)  I'd even have more kids.  But I would draw the line WAY before 20.  So there.

Second, there is something to be said about the fact that they support all those kids on their own without any assistance from the government.  They have reality television junkies to support them.  Of course, they parade their herd around on TV like it's totally normal and healthy to produce enough children to staff a restaurant.  I take issue with anyone who exploits their own children on reality shows, and they are no different in that respect from the parents on Toddlers and Tiaras in my eyes.  Bet you didn't see that comparison coming.  ;)

Third, it's always bothered me that the division of labor in their family puts a LOT of parenting responsibilities on the older children.  I've got a lot of kids, and I make them work around the house, but I don't expect Aidan to parent his younger brother except for the designated time I schedule with him a day.  It's weird.  And it's robbing those kids of a normal childhood to some degree.

Fourth, their last baby had serious health issues.  Mom developed pre-eclampsia and had to deliver the baby very premature.  You would think that everything they went through with that experience would have told them to stop.  That 18 healthy children and one very sick one was enough.  But no.

God decided they should keep going.

And, according to Jim Bob, they "didn't want to stop on an odd number".  Yes, that is an actual quote.  I wish I was making it up.

The thing that bothers me the most about this situation is that, at it's core, it's an issue of choice.  They make it seem as if all these children exist only because God wanted them to produce them.  Hmmm, not exactly.

They chose to have sex plenty of times, obviously.  Plenty of couples successfully practice natural family planning as a method of birth control.  You don't have to rely on modern science to prevent pregnancy, but you do have to make the effort.  ;)  How they even find time to have sex, I'm not sure.  Probably has to do with the fact that they aren't the hands-on parents in the house.  The nannies older kids are.
And this was taken a few kids ago...
They choose not to prevent pregnancy.  It's not God choosing here.

It's them.

Which is fine.  Whatever.  Just stop acting like there isn't a conscious human choice happening.

The fact that she can even get pregnant and carry most of her babies to term after all the abuse her uterus has taken is an anomaly.  Most women's bodies simply cannot do it, not that many of us have tried.

I hope, for the sake of this family, that her pregnancy is uncomplicated this time.  I hope that they stop, having settled on their "round number".  I hope that maybe the younger kids will live at least part of their childhoods without having to be parents to their siblings.

I have to wonder sometimes.  Having suffered through infertility myself, and knowing many friends in that place, situations like this one frustrate me.  I have a hard time believing that God would really choose for this family to have more kids than they can reasonably parent, but leave countless others without even one child.

I am not at all convinced that God has anything to do with it.

This isn't about any divine choice.  It's about a couple that simply cannot get enough.  And that, my friends, is the real reason the Duggars are about to have their 20th child.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm Trying

Really, I am.

I want to hop on board the gratitude bus.

I want to spend a little time every day this month proclaiming my joy at something in my life.   Instead, I'm throwing up sarcasm at every opportunity.  That's just how I roll.

Real gratitude, well it just ain't happening right now.

This month has already been shitty.  This year is epic.

Even today, I've got to figure out a way to get to the hospital while simultaneously taking care of three of my four kids home.

One is recovering from surgery, the other two are barfing.  Which is awesome.

I am not enjoying my role in the middle of the generation sandwich right now.

We ran out of beer last night.  This is terrible news, I have to tell you.

Right now, I'm grateful for a few things though.

Like the fact that I have more than one huge bowl in my kitchen, just in case more than one kid is actively barfing.

Like the fact that my husband programmed the coffee maker last night.

Like the fact that I already bought a new bottle of carpet cleaner, just in case I need it today.

Like the fact that I have a handful of friends who totally get why I'm so unreliable right now.

Like the fact that I've survived the last four months, and have done it without ending up on the news.

That last one, it's legitimate, I swear.

There have been times I wasn't so sure.  The fact that I've avoided it is something I am pretty proud of.

Here's to making it through the next four.

Preferably without news coverage.

May your Monday suck less than mine.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's been a long weekend

You'll have to forgive me.

Things around here have been a little more chaotic than normal.

I've barely even been home for days.

I just took this picture of my dog, Jake.  It's not even a good picture. I'm aware.  That's as good as it's getting right now.

Who doesn't love a dog picture on a Sunday night?  Not only is he adorable with his head on a little pillow and all, but he looks like I feel right now.

Worn out.

I'll work on something more impressive than a dog picture tomorrow.

Promise.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's hard to be a fan

I've confessed here before my love of football.

I'm no fair weather fan, I'm not one to stop caring if my team is having a shitty season.  I actually plan my weekends around games, and will go to extreme lengths to avoid any contact with people who may know the outcome of the game in the event we have to tape it for some reason and watch it later.  I'm a purist.

I've spent years making sure my son understands the intricacies of the game.  I don't take my football lightly.

I'm pretty sure that I was one of the happiest people in the state of Colorado when the rumors of PAC-10 expansion started flying a few years ago.  The chance to see my team live again was what I hoped for the entire time the negotiations were happening.  Once it was official, I nearly peed my pants.

My Trojans were heading to Boulder every other year to throw it down.

Yes.

The day the tickets were released to non-season ticket holders, both Tom and I were online immediately.  We got a pair.  Not the greatest seats, but close to Ralphie, which is awesome all in and of itself.  Ralphie is, by the way, seriously the most kick ass college mascot.  At least as far as the live animals go.  Frankly, I'm a little disappointed that there isn't a more high quality video of Ralphie.
We didn't sit in those seats though.  Papa and Aidan did.  We got these seats:
5th row up, 45 yard line.
The game was last night.  Walking in the stadium and hearing my band (the best band in all the land, so they say) brought me back to my college days.  Of course, our stadium never had the distinct odor of pot smoke hanging in the air all the time, but I guess that's what you get when you're in Boulder.  ;)

The game was a good one, it ended with a W.  It wasn't a close game by any stretch, but it wasn't a blowout either.  

We were so close we could hear the coaches talking to the players.  One SC player amused me pretty much the entire game with his jokes and dancing.  Clearly, they keep that guy around for the comedy relief.  His uniform wasn't dirty at all, no grass stains or mud...but he had a smile on his face the whole time.
Love that.

What I don't love, though, I have to discuss too.  Why, you ask?  Well, because it's me.   And I'm snarky.  So there.

I hate dry campuses.  College kids are going to drink like fish no matter what limits you put on them.  The schools just encourage them to binge drink before and after the game instead of spreading it out.  Plus, everyone else gets punished.  I want to drink a beer with my football, dammit.  Promise I won't barf on the seats.

I am fully cognizant of the fact that we were fans from the visiting team, in the house of a rowdy home crowd.  I get that.   I walked into the stadium in my cardinal and gold knowing it.  What I'll never understand though is the fact that people can't just be fans of their own team without being completely obnoxious and rude.  

I don't need some jackass to provide a running commentary on the game.  Especially one who knows nothing about the game.  Or the players.  Or the teams.  Honest.  Yeah, good for you.  You can read the name on the back of a jersey and yell it.  Good job.  Oh, and there really should be an age limit on being a douche bag.  Once you hit your mid-30's, you've graduated from being a mouthy smart ass to a pathetic has been.  Shut the hell up.

I can't stand the skinny little white boys who taunt the players, but would never in a million years think of doing it if they were on the other side of the fence. Seriously.  Dude, you didn't even make your high school team.  Sit the hell down.

I can't stand people who scream inappropriate things, like "sack him!", when the offensive play call is so clearly for a run.  The quarterback isn't even going to throw the damn ball, people.  He's handing it off the the running back immediately....he's so not getting sacked.  But I guess you would know that if you actually understood the game.  Again, shut the hell up.

I hate dumb drunk girls.  You know the ones.  The ones who know nothing about football, who don't care, who are just there to flip their hair and hold their girlfriends hands while they parade around the stadium.  Who constantly pose for pictures and can't understand why people are cheering when they are trying to talk on their phone.  The girls who stand on the benches in front of you just so you have to watch their asses jiggle.  Honey, it's sad.  Really.  If you could see what an embarrassment you are making of yourself, you'd knock it off.  Again, sit the hell down.

I hate whiners.  There's no crying in football.  When the winning team puts in their second string and backup quarterback in the fourth quarter, they clearly aren't trying to run up the score.  They are letting everyone play the damn game.  If your defense can't hold back the second string, that's your problem, not mine.  Don't start accusing the coach of being an asshole at the top of your lungs when he's fifteen feet away.  He's not.  You're a whiner, and a sore loser.  Oh, and you're the asshole.  Again, shut the hell up.

Some of us are trying to watch the damn game.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Here's Your Sign

I'm showing my whiteness today.  Haha.  Maybe someday I'll write about all the proudest moments of my upbringing, the ones associated with shooting beer cans in the desert, sitting in trash bags in the pouring rain to watch monster trucks and the like.  Maybe.

Told you my white was showing.  ;)

My Dad liked to laugh.  A lot.  Often at completely inappropriate things.  You all now know where I get that from.

When the Blue Collar Comedy Tour came out, it was like his dreams come true.  He watched every one of their specials, quoted the comedians, all that.  Loved it.  Though most people associate Jeff Foxworthy with the tour, I'd have to say that Dad was the most partial to Bill Engvall.

Then again, the first thing he wanted to do when he came to visit us here for the first time was to head to Mecca. His Mecca.  The Coors Brewery, tucked in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  You know, so they can "tap the Rockies" and make Silver Bullets.

So my Dad was thinner, but this really isn't all that
far off from what he looked like in the early 80s.
I swear you could hear angels singing as we rounded the corner and the giant complex came into view the first time.  He was a happy, happy man that day.
My Dad and Aidan at Coors, 2005

My Dad.  He enjoyed the simple things in life.  You have to appreciate that.

Anyway, I was thinking about him today.  I saw something and his voice was immediately in my head quoting Bill Engvall, telling me, "here's your sign".

What I saw was this:
If ever there was a time in my life when I needed to heed the wise words of this sign, it's now.  Put your head down, get in it, get through it.  And try not to freak out completely.

Here's my sign.

Now, I just need to shut up and listen to my father.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

School of Rock

My husband is the leader for Aidan's Webelos den.  They are in the home stretch of their journey with Cub Scouts, and almost all of them have been in it for over 4 years now.  We've known these kids a long time, watched them grow up.

One of the badges they have to work on is Showmanship, which includes lessons about musical genres and composers.  For whatever reason, the guidelines dictate that the composers have to be American, which almost by definition excludes all of the most famous classical composers.  Sometimes I wonder about the ultra-American stance of the program, especially on topics like this.  This country hasn't been around long enough to have as deep and rich a musical history as other parts of the world.  But I digress.

Anyway, Tom decided to pick a Gershwin piece and two other songs that most of the boys would be able to identify a little easier.  The theme from Star Wars, written by John Williams and the theme from Batman, written by one of my favorite composers (and former front man for Oingo Boingo), Danny Elfman.  Of course they all knew those last two songs, but only Aidan could identify the first piece.  He immediately recognized it from the movie Fantasia.  The rest of the boys were too busy fighting each other with imaginary light sabers to care about the other songs.

The other part of the lesson was to play songs from different genres of music, to discuss what puts a song in one genre or another, what the fundamental differences are between the genres, and so on.

That's about the point in the night where my jaw actually hit the floor.

One of them said that Elvis songs were ancient, like from hundreds of years ago.  Only two of them could pick out instruments in a few songs.  They couldn't tell the difference between pop and rap or between folk and rock.  The only artist all of them could identify immediately was Eminem.

Some of the kids had never heard anything by Bob Marley.  At all.  No Buffalo Soldier, no Jammin, no Could You Be Loved.    Or AC/DC.  Who doesn't know who AC/DC is?

Maybe it's the fact that I spent a good portion of the summer teaching my son the history of rock music.  Maybe it's the fact that there is always music on in our house.  Maybe it's the fact that my husband has, let's just say, an eclectic taste in music.  Maybe it's the fact that Tom voluntarily took a music history class in college and fell in love with it.  Maybe it's the fact that all three of our older kids got MP3 players for Christmas last year, pre-loaded with a huge range of music.  Maybe it's the fact that I can bust out all the words to gangster rap songs, country or heavy metal while the kids laugh at me from the back row of the car.

I'm sure it's a combination of all those and more.  The truth is that we love music in this house, plain and simple.  We love all kinds of music, we share all kinds of music with our kids.  We encourage them to branch out.  We support their desires to sing and play and dance.

I have known for a while that music plays a larger role in our lives than it does for many other people, I just never realized quite how much.

Seeing how little variety the kids had been exposed to last night did it though.  And it really made me want to resurrect the history of rock lessons from the summer and share them with the boys.

Here's my challenge to you all out there: find something outside of your norm, learn about it, and share it with your kids.  Flip the dial on the radio to a station you don't normally listen to.  Play them the songs from your own childhood.  Tell them about the first concert you went to.

They will love it, and so will you.  Trust me on this one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The policy of corporate desensitization

I was asked by a reader yesterday to chime in on the Hawaiian Safeway incident.

If you've not heard, a pregnant mother and her husband were arrested for shoplifting, their child taken from them overnight as a result.  The item they were accused of shoplifting?  Two deli sandwiches that they had eaten while shopping.  Two sandwiches that the woman claimed she forgot to pay for when she got the the check stand.

Here's the story if you haven't read it.

I have a few points to make on this one.

1.  Pregnant women forget things.  All.the.time.  It doesn't make them criminals.  Sure, she forgot to pay for the sandwich, but offered to pay cash immediately after they brought it to her attention in the parking lot.  The wrappers were still in the cart.  She didn't throw them away, there was no intent to hide the evidence made.  The store employees should have noticed the wrappers while she was checking out.

2. I'm completely grossed out by people that walk around grocery stores eating.  The produce testers annoy me too.  Buy the food first, then eat it.  And don't touch the cart with your nasty saliva covered hands.  Grocery carts are germ festivals on wheels.  Why anyone would want to eat while pushing one, I'll never understand.  But just because you are gross doesn't mean you are a shoplifter.

3. The store manager claimed that store (i.e. corporate) policy dictated that the customer accused of shoplifting could not attempt to pay for the merchandise in question when confronted.  The authorities are to be contacted immediately.  Really?  There is no room for discretion here?  One major tenet in our system is that someone is innocent until proven guilty.  If the accused immediately expressed that she "forgot" to pay for two items in a full cart and offered to pay, shouldn't she be given that chance?  Corporate policies exist to protect the store's bottom line only.  They do nothing to address individual situations, and this example is a blatantly obvious time where the policy failed.  The store manager didn't use discretion here presumably because his or her ass would be on the line with the higher ups if they caught wind of the story.  An unbending corporate policy here dictated the course of events.  Back in the day of the small town grocer, something like this happening could have tarnished the reputation of the store owner forever.  People made choices differently back then.  They treated people like people, capable of making mistakes.  They didn't automatically assume that every mistake was an intentional crime.

4. The woman and her husband should have never been arrested, obviously.  Yet they were.  And their little girl had to spend the night in state custody because of it.  That's perhaps the hardest part for me to digest.  In this wonderful world we live in, people are accused of far worse offenses than stealing sandwiches, but skate the system.  People who steal millions of dollars get probation and are forced to pay restitution, but may never see the inside of a jail cell.  But these people were locked up and had their child taken away for an alleged crime that they would never be found guilty of.

There are outcries in some circles to boycott Safeway because of this incident.  I'm not sure that would matter though, at least not if it was just contained to that chain.  Safeway, like everything anymore it seems, is run by corporate officers sitting in a high priced office somewhere far away from where decisions have to be made in a split second like this.  Their obsession with the bottom line negates the ability of their store managers to make choices about people.

This issue is larger than Safeway.

Corporations exist for one purpose only, to make money.

Corporations run this nation, in case you haven't noticed.

Corporations do not care about people.  They are legal fictions created to make rich people richer.  They don't care about hungry pregnant women and their children.  Never have, never will.

Not unless we make them care.

If you can figure out how to make that happen on a scale large enough to make a difference, maybe things will change.  Maybe.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Apparently my rants are quite popular....

I guess I'll just keep writing them.

So there. 

I know that there are some (okay many) people out there who don't agree with me.  That's fine.  Read or don't, comment or don't, share it or don't.  I'm good either way.  I welcome open discussion.  I post all the comments I get (well, all the ones except phishing scams or blatant advertising) because that's how I roll.

Me = flaming liberal.

The post from yesterday got picked up by BlogHer as a spotlight piece, which is pretty awesome considering I haven't submitted anything to anyone in so long I don't remember when the last time was.

It's taken just about all I have to keep writing here every day with all the stuff going on in my life.  You know, the real stuff that I don't write about because it's hardly as funny as my rants.  That stuff.

Anyhow, since my rants appear to be downright hilarious, I'm just going to keep on keeping on.

I was actually not planning to write about the whole Kardashian debacle yesterday.  I was planning to write about this instead...until the post about the 72 day long sham of a marriage spewed from my fingers.

What is frustrating me in real life is this: people who volunteer to be in charge of things, but don't actually do what they are supposed to.

Who like to take over duties from other people, but never seem to do a better job than the ones who came before them.

Who complain about the way things have been done, but don't make them better.

Who step into leadership roles, but half ass their efforts.

Who don't actually want to do anything, truth be told.

Who just want lots and lots of credit for it.

It particularly annoys me when these people take over things that are important to kids.  Who feign leadership, but walk away the second it gets difficult or complicated.  Who let the kids down.  Who never see the disappointment on the faces of the children, the disappointment there because they didn't try hard enough.

These people need to stop being so preoccupied with patting themselves on the back for all the good they think they are doing, and actually do something.  Either that, or step back and let someone else take over who honestly cares enough to do it better.

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