Friday, December 28, 2012

15 Things Moms Need to Teach Their Sons (and then there's reality)

Ever since my sons were born, I have read numerous blogs on parenting. Particularly ones concerning life lessons that need to be taught, just in case I'm missing something. And while these blogs tend to be heartwarming, I am met with the reality of those lessons on a daily basis. So I've created my own list based on these wonderful blogs, and what REALLY happens in my household:

1. Teach him to express how he feels with words.

Unless these words include, "You big jerk!" or "Quit being a butt face!" I am failing miserably at this one. If I calmly interject and try to suggest other words, I am met with, "Leave me alone!" hands over ears, stomping to a bedroom and a slammed door.

2. Teach him to do laundry.

Riiiggghht. Dirty shirts, socks, pants and underwear are my breadcrumbs to the bathtub. Towels, barely used once, are dragged along my wood floors picking up every piece of dirt and strand of dog hair and deposited in the middle of the living room. Even CLEAN laundry that's been folded, sits on the dang chair until it's all considered dirty again...having never found its way to its proper drawer or hanger.

3. Read to him and read with him.

Every book they bring home from school contains zombies, world's grossest records, superheros who wear underpants and nearly every line contains a fart joke. Not to mention there's a fight over who can and can't see the page and where mom sits to read.

4. Encourage him to dance.

We do a lot of this at home. My oldest has "moves." They're something between break dancing and jitterbug. When we were invited to a wedding, he spent hours perfecting these 'moves'. He constantly asked me when we were going. The wedding took forever (roll eyes and drag arms), and the big moment came. He wouldn't budge from the sidelines. The bride grabbed him and he nearly crawled out of his skin to get away from her. For some reason, he didn't understand that there would be a crowd! I pulled him to the dance floor, got a couple of hip shakes and we were done. *sigh* I bought him dress clothes for this!
Dress clothes AND tie!

5.Make sure he has examples of men who are powerful because of their brains, integrity and determination.

In my kids minds, this includes the soldiers in Halo, any superhero whose name ends in "man," and James Bond. Hell, I only got my oldest interested in history and Abraham Lincoln when old Abe was seen wielding a silver axe and killing vampires.

6. Be their superhero.

I've cleaned house in a single bound, kissed away ouches, used x-ray vision to find the elusive blankie every. single. time., hurdled every obstacle from a dead the rush a kid to the bathroom when I hear him about to throw up, am able to carry a 50 lb rag doll to bed under one arm and 3 stuffed animals in the other. I've used super sonic hearing to know that the kids are up to something even though they are in the backyard 'playing.' THAT'S the superhero I am.

7. Teach him manners.

Okay, my kids are pretty good at this one...until we're in public.

8. Teach him to be gentle.

I've rescued guinea pigs, dogs, precious electronic equipment and newborn babies from their 'gentle' on many, many occasions. 'Gentle' is about as familiar to them as 'quiet.'
One of our two guinea pigs...still breathing.

9. Teach him to be a good loser.

If "good" means how far you can throw the dice across the room, quitting when you're behind, or suddenly thinking this game is boring...I got this one.

10. Teach him to aim when he pees, someone has to clean this up.

Yeah, and it's usually me...because some of the places I have to clean, they can't even reach! I cringe when they walk into the bathroom in the early hours of the AM, eyes half open, blanket on their head and whip it out in the near vicinity of the toilet.

11. Teach them it's okay to ruin their clothes once in awhile.

Finally! I have this one down pat. And it's usually socks. Why do boys believe it's okay to wear socks outside...rain, shine or snow, without shoes?! I've had to ask their dad that same question more than 100 times.
That's about 1" of mud coating.

12. Teach them to hold the door for women.

They are also fairly good at this. Except that I stand at the entrance of a restaurant as they hold the door for EVERYONE. And at what point do you pull them away without being rude to the people still coming in?

13. Let their dad teach them things.

Does this include belching, farting, drinking out of the milk jug and slapping their mother on the butt every time she bends over?
Notice any similarities?
 14. Teach him that sometimes people will break their promises.

I'm pretty sure that kid on the bus isn't going to pay you $5 for the comic strip you drew. Just know, that if I promise you something, it won't be broken. (But I have to say the word "promise," pinky swear AND do the elaborate secret handshake, THEN it's a promise.)

15. Teach him to be independent.

As sweet as it is to hear that my youngest is going to, "grow up, get married and live with mom and dad," it's not going to happen. You WILL go to college, you WILL get a job, and you WILL move out. Not only for my sanity, but because if you're old enough to get married, you're old enough to provide for your family by whatever means it takes...nothing should be "beneath" you when it come to putting food on your table to feed your kids. But hopefully, with all these life lessons, you will be successful enough to not only take care of yourself, but also your elderly parents. 'Cause honey, I'm going to live with YOU.

I think these lists provide a rose-colored vision of everything we can pass down to our children. Sometimes, my life-lessons are shouted, or learned because I'm "mean," but my best way of teaching my children is going to be through example. People aren't perfect, I'm not perfect. But I try, I do my best, and if I'm not home enough, it's because I work hard to provide for you. I can only hope that as much as my kids may seem to take me for granted right now, they will look back and say, "You know, my mom always..." and hopefully that sentence will end with something that makes them a better person.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Garage Sale Personalities

We're moving in the next 3 to 6 months. I decided to have a garage 4 months ago.

I started early, because there was clearly a lot of crap that I didn't want to move. I sorted, discarded and priced room by room. I came across a lot of stuff where I questioned my sanity as to why I chose to hang on to a particular item in the first place. (i.e. a fake feathered bird, a spider Christmas ornament...what the heck was I thinking?!)

There was stuff that I knew had to go, but couldn't part electronic keyboard reminiscent of the 80s (hey, it's exactly like the one Van Halen used to play "Jump"!), tons of arts and craft stuff (I can always use beads shaped like dragonflies, right?) and stuff that I just knew I wouldn't get the price I wanted (like genuine lead crystal bowls, a model train from the 60s, still in the box).

Anyway, I worked my ass off for 3 months. I didn't have much spare time, so had to do it little by little. There were times I actually cried because of items that brought resounding blankets that I swear I could still smell sour milk on (but not true because I washed EVERY piece of clothing and every toy...anal. I know.) I forced myself to get rid of anything in my closet that I hadn't worn in the last 3 years, no matter how much I tried to convince myself I could still fit in it if I just put in a little effort. And all that stealthy work I did behind the kids's back to price toys that they don't even remember they had, and to avoid the protest, "HEY! You can't sell this, I play with it ALL. THE. TIME."

Anyway, I gradually put everything in my basement, and when the day before the big day came, I put everything in the garage.

My husband FINALLY commented, "You did this all by yourself?!" Really? You didn't pick up on all the pot shots I took at you for NOT helping? Did you not see me popping Ibuprofin like they were Skittles?

We had 40 mph winds the first day, and every time a big gust blew through, I was racing after my perfectly folded clothes, and double checking that nothing fragile broke. I nearly cried when several boxes of puzzles went flying. What do you do then? Put together a 1000 piece puzzle to make sure all the pieces are there when the box top landed in your neighbor's yard...two doors down? Trash it. No other option.

My youngest was hilarious. He greeted everyone. Took them to every table to introduce them to items HE thought they should have. But the people watching? That made everything worth while. I have shoved them into categories:

The Early Birds. Usually couples that are 60+ and show up a half hour before we are open. I don't know if they assume my sale is going as popular as Best Buy on Black Friday, but they're there early to stake their claim. They usually don't buy anything, but they feel better that they were there first.

The Slummers. I don't mind them. They have money, but they're always looking for a bargain. They don't haggle you on the price if they find something they want, because they're used to paying twice that much without blinking. They are also the people who paid a $1 for my son's 50¢ glass of lemonade at his lemonade stand (who am I to stand in the way of entrepreneurship?), even though it was only 50º outside. Love them. And thank you.

The Drive By's. Do all their shopping from their car at 15 mph. But don't stop.

The Barginer's. It doesn't matter what price you have on that sticker, they're going to offer half. "Hey, you willing to take 15¢ on this?" and the sticker says 25¢. Hell, I made it a bargain in the first place...fine. You need to win? You win.

The Groupies. Usually women who shop in groups of three or more. They compliment each other on their "find" but are secretly jealous they didn't find it first.

The Unexpected. Like the guy who looked like a former member of ZZ Top band member or roadie and showed up on his Harley, yet bought my entire cat figurine collection without batting an eye.

The Double-Take. They show up, offer you a ridiculously low price on something. You refuse. They leave. They return the next day and if the item is still there, they pay the full price. No questions asked.

The OMG, I Can't Believe That Just Happened. A guy who shows up, looking like someone you'd search on sight at an airport. He tries on all of my husband's sweatshirts, right there on the driveway, exposing his pot belly and extra hairy back before buying. At that point dude, just take them! I'm not touching them any more.

The Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Won't buy anything until you run a 50 ft extension cord from the back of your house, through the garage, to the item he wants to buy, just to make sure it turns on.

The Wish I Knew You. People who wanted to buy items and told me stories about themselves and I felt like I could have sat and listened for hours. We had a guy show up, he knew what he wanted. Deer antlers, old ammo, or anything to do with hunting. He told me his wife died not too long ago. He seemed to just want to hang out and talk. Before he left, he gave each of my sons a $2 bill and a 50¢ piece. I loved him.

And last but not least, the Random Act of Kindness. I had a couple of brothers ride up on their bicycles. They were nice, polite (and without being racist) ethnic. They looked over the toys and asked if we had anything for free. At the same time, a petite woman examined my clothes, looking for her daughter. To be honest, I focused my attention on her. What size do you need? What type of clothing? Thy boys played in the background with some of the toys. Finally having her fill, the lady came up to my table and asked, "How much for the wrestling ring and action figures?" I told her $5 for all. She walked back, near where the boys were playing, plucked the items out of the box and laid them before me. She handed me a $5 bill and I thanked her for her business. As she left with the toys, she stopped by the boys. "Here guys." She said as she handed over the items to the two boys, "Have fun." And she left. The boys came up to me and said, "Did that lady pay for these?" I smiled. "Yes." I said. They grabbed their bikes and left.

Honestly, I felt humbled. I wish I would have said something to her. I wish I would have given them something "free." But I inwardly promised myself, I would pay it forward.

And I did. Everything I didn't sell, I donated to a group at school who were trying to raise money by having a garage sale. I borrowed a dear friend and her pick up. We boxed everything up, acquired more bruises. And felt entirely great about the whole thing.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Short Prayer

Dear Lord,
It's me again. It's been a long day, and I'm tired. I hate getting up at 5 AM, but thank you for granting me another day.

I hate having to drive an hour every day to get my kids to school on time, but I thank you for having a vehicle to drive.

I had to take another test at school today, but thank you for giving me the courage to be back in school at my age, and thanks for the determination to get through it.

I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to eat yet today and it's 1:30 in the afternoon. Thank you for the food that is in my refrigerator.

I'm stuck in traffic trying to pick up my kids from daycare. Thank you that I'm not the one in the accident that is causing the back-up.

My child is not moving fast enough because he hasn't finished his dinner at daycare. Thank you for the providers that feed him healthy meals and care for him when I can't be there.

The long drive to pick up my other son can be frustrating. Thank you for allowing me the time in the car to talk to my oldest child, to connect and know how his day was today.

It's a long walk inside the school to find my youngest child in the gym. Thank you for the opportunity of a good education and amazing teachers available for my him.

My kids are so loud in the car, I can hardly think. Thank you for the laughter that fills my car, even if it relates to pooping and farting.

It's a pain in the butt to have to go door-to-door selling coupon books to support Kaiden's 3rd grade mission to raise money for iPads for their classroom. Thank you for such kind, understanding and generous neighbors.

I have to take time out of my busy night to run my son to my brother-in-law's to try on a tiny tux for Kam. Thank you for family and being able to participate in their celebrations and special moments in their lives.

I need to take more time out of my nightly schedule to help my husband with an estimate for his work. Thank you for providing us with income and a job.

Can't my children just go to sleep when I ask them? Thank you for children who feel that can't sleep unless they get hugs, kisses, and secret handshakes from their parents.

I take one more hour out of my day to talk to my mom on the phone. Thank you for my parents who are still here to talk to.

I have tons of laundry to do and must stay up late until it's dry, or else my kids won't have anything to wear to school tomorrow. Thank you for the clothes on our backs.

I'm tired, Lord. But thank you for everything in my life that has exhausted me.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

What Every Waitress Wants You To Know

As you may or may not know, I have had to find some sort of employment that is part-time, is flexible enough to bend around my school schedule and random moments of childhood puke-fests that force me to stay home and kill bacteria with Lysol, and allows me to make some money. And when I say money, I mean at least more than panhandling the corner of I-94 and 32nd. If I owned a puppy, I might make more on the street corner.
Not me...but could be...

Anywho...there are some things, that as a waitress, I believe you should know before you decide to eat out. (Just because it turns out, that what I thought should be common public knowledge, obviously is not.)

1) We may be considered a "casual" restaurant, but that does NOT mean you show up in your pajama bottoms and flip-flops. For Pete's sake, if you're going to take the time to drive somewhere and actually pay to EAT...take a moment and at least slip some real pants on. Hell, we don't even serve breakfast.

2) If you're 23 years old, you have no right to be offended when I card you when you order an alcoholic drink. And if you're over 30 and I card you? You should be grateful. If I don't card you, serve you alcohol, I get fined...the restaurant gets fined...and they won't let me work for 2 weeks to make money to pay the fine. So naturally, I'm going to err on the side of caution.

3) If you're coming to sit in the bar to catch a buzz...leave the kids at home. We are not your babysitter. Just because we have a game room does not mean you can let your kids run wild, annoy the crap outta everyone else that's there for a quiet dinner, and potentially have your child suffer 2nd degree burns when the 20 lb. tray I'm holding on my shoulder with one hand (and tray jack in the other) comes crashing down because he's running in the aisles between tables. I have my own children, and it's parents like you who are forcing some restaurants to not allow children...and I can't say I blame them.

4) And since we're on the subjects of kids...(and remember...I have two...and this is what happens when WE go hell). There are certain behaviors that need to be corrected NOT continue to let your kid scream. Do your best to calm them. I will help you if I can with crackers, or getting their food out first. (Helpful hint: if I suggest these options to you, I'm not only doing my job, I'm telling you your kid is TOO LOUD.) And if they are inconsolable, take them outside...or home. If you're sitting in a booth, it is inconsiderate for them to drop spaghetti onto the head of the person sitting behind you. Also, I will clean up the table and floors and high chair when you leave, but this doesn't mean that you can let your kid throw his crayons, pizza crusts, napkins and silverware on the floor. If you don't allow it at home, why is it okay in public???

5) It is UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES okay for you to change your baby's diaper on the table. (Seriously?!! I even have to tell you this?) We have changing tables in the bathroom. And after studying parasitology, I now have to bleach that table. Not to mention I will personally avoid ever touching it again, let alone eat off of it.

6) I will do everything within my power to cater to whatever food allergy you may have. But may I suggest that if you're allergic to choose somewhere other than an Italian restaurant? Just a thought.

7) There are 30 in your party? Why in the hell do you think we will be able to seat you immediately? This is especially for those parents who travel with their children to various sporting events and cater to their every whim. First of all, call first and give us a heads up. If you say there are 15 of you in your party, I am NOT going to assume that 40+ will show up. We only have so many servers on that night even IF the banquet room is open. It doesn't help that all the parents sit at one table, you have one son waaayyy over there (jersey #14) and your daughter is somewhere in the middle of that table and your husband is at the end of the table with the guys. If this is you, you now have the following rights automatically taken from you....NO RIGHT to complain if the bill isn't correct, NO RIGHT to complain if we can't fit you all in the same area, and NO RIGHT to complain if your food take more than 20 minutes. (By the takes every ounce of my strength not to slap your child silly when he says, "How much longer for my food?!" while not even bothering to look up from his iPAD). How long would it take you to prepare appetizers and entrees for 40+ people on a moment's notice? Not to mention the other 100 people in the restaurant...and you're allergic to garlic.)

8) When I ask the table, "Is there anything else I can get you?" I am speaking to everyone at the table. Each individual does not need a special trip.

9) If there's something wrong with your food, I will do everything within my power to remedy the's just harder for me to believe you are of pure intention when all that's left is two bites and you ask for a box. Also, it would have been nice for you to have mentioned that when I asked you how everything was tasting 3 minutes after you received your food.

10) The restaurant I work at has 110 beers on tap...forgive me if I haven't tasted them all (but believe me, I'm working on it!)

11) When I was just old enough to drink, we had maybe 2 kinds of shots...whiskey and Everclear..that's it. So if YOU don't know what's in a "Wonder Woman" or a "German Chocolate Cake" don't expect me to.
What the heck are these?!

12) I work for $4.86 and hour. No lie. The kitchen is 90º F, I'm on my feet for anywhere from 5 to 13 hours at a stretch and I'm pretty sure I could compete in the Olympics as a speed walker...carrying an extra 30 lbs on my shoulders. I don't get to sit down and I don't get to eat. I depend on tips to feed my children. If you can't afford to tip me when I give you the best possible can't afford to eat out.

13) If you'd like to linger and talk after your meal...please feel free to do so. But take in to consideration that I only have so many tables in my section and if you and your friends are taking up two of them to drink water for 3 hours...remember that when you tip me.

14) If you're looking for a's going to take about 15 minutes, because he's probably 15 years younger than me and is hanging out in the bar talking to the "cute chicks."

15) Here's something totally truthful, and it's not really common knowledge...if you pay with a card...try to tip in cash. Here's why...the restaurant is charged a fee every time we swipe a card on our machines. That fee comes out of my tip at the end of the night. So if you mean to tip me $5, it's actually less after I run your card.

16) It should be required that before you are actually considered an adult, you have to wait tables for one week. Because that's all it would take.

I actually love being a waitress. I enjoy meeting new people, and I come from a generation who knows what customer service is. I generally make good money (and good tips) but I think it's because I enjoy what I do and it shows. Unfortunately, my body is not young any more and waiting tables is a cardio workout and weight lifting all in one. I can actually feel my heartbeat in my feet by the time I get to sit. And if I sit for more than 5 minutes at a time when I get home, I can barely stand back up. But just remember, this is a taxing job, a draining job, and entirely dependent on you for what kind of money I make. And believe me, I totally get the people who are pissed off when they don't get good service. I work with a lot of "kids" who come to work hung-over, are in a hurry to get you out of there so they can go party, or who may not show up at all. In a nutshell, if you have a good experience, let your waitress/waiter know...and even though the verbal compliment is always welcome, tip them too. You never know what their story is.

*All of these stories are true and witnessed by other waitstaff...just so you know.

Had a good or bad experience? I'd like to know...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Things My Kids Will Never Know

Since I'm an older than average waitress while going to school, I have a tendency to feel my age at certain moments...such as A) having a feeling of disgust when people come to work hung over and still sweating alcohol B) wanting to be done with their shift by 11 PM so they can still make a "party bus" and recently C) mentioning the song "Yellow Submarine" and someone looking at me with a complete blank stare. Wwwhaaa?!! How can ANYONE not know who the Beatles are?! Good Lord, has it been that long?

But it got me to thinking, what is it that I feel should be common knowledge, but my kids will have no clue?

So here's my list:

1) A rotary phone with a cord. And so many things that go along with that. They will never know the limitation of having a phone call ONLY when you're home, and then only 10 ft of cord length. Privacy? You had to shut yourself in a nearby closet, and your parents only had to trace the length of the cord to find you. AND they would always know who you were talking to, because you are RIGHT THERE. Not like you could disguise your conversation. AND I was from a Pierre, SD, so at one point, I didn't even have to dial the prefix. Only the last 4 numbers. I had to wait for that stupid phone to rotate all the way around, (7...tick, tick tick tick, tick) and if you had a lot of zeros in your number, you had to be a good friend, or you just weren't worth the effort.

Along with this, add an answering machine. They will only know voice mail.

2) Microwavable anything. NOTHING could be cooked in less than 10 minutes. Even now, when I cook a potpie for 4 minutes and it ends up still frozen in the center and I have to put it back in for 45 seconds...the kids complain!! Are you kidding me?? If I wanted a hot dog, it didn't take 20 seconds...first, I had to boil the water, then put the hot dog in and wait for at least 3 more minutes. Popcorn. Worse. Heat oil, put in 2 seeds, wait until they pop, add more popcorn wait an ungodly amount of like 6 minutes for it to finish popping. AND you had to stand there or you would start a fire. Which I did. Several times.

3) Television without the ability to fast forward through commercials, record your favorite program...or hell, even a remote! If you didn't set time aside to watch your favorite show, you were SOL. You had to pee? You waited for the commercial...and sat through them all. You missed something? Well too bad. Gone. You had to actually get off your fat bum to go turn a dial. You were considered rich if you had more than 5 channels. I remember the birth of HBO, and MTV. And MTV played music videos (gasp!) of bands in front of a psychedelic background. You adjusted antennas. Your TV was a huge box, not "flat." Your favorite program was on? You made time to all view it together, it was almost as important as the family dinner. If your favorite cartoon character farted, you couldn't rewind and play it over and over. (But, wait, farting and burping and vomiting weren't a part of our cartoons...)

4) We washed our dishes by hand, and you divided the chore into "wash," "dry" and "put away" and there were marvelous conversations held over hot water and bubbles.

5) We couldn't "Google" anything. You went to the library or you were lucky to own a set of encyclopedias.

6) We had "typing" class in Jr. High. With real life typewriters that didn't have a backspace or delete. Just "white out."

7) We played outside, made-up games. We knew our neighbors and we came home when it was dark. No worries. I remember a time when my parents had a camper parked in our driveway, and a friend and I spent the whole day drawing, coloring, and cutting out paper food for our "restaurant" in there. We sold lemonade, and painted rocks at the end of our driveway.

8) Parents (and Teachers) were allowed to "spank" us without fear of a 9-1-1 call or some sort of civil suit filed.

9) We behaved in public places without the aid of a "tablet" a "a Kindle" or any other electronic device. We behaved or we were spanked. End or story.

10) If you were a bully, you did it in person...not on Facebook, or via email. It's so amazing how brave certain people are when they don't have to confront someone face-to-face.

11) Obesity was not an issue.

12) Everyone suffered from chicken pox at least once.

13) Birthday parties were simple. You played pin the tail on the donkey, or pop the balloon by sitting on it and you blew out your candles on a lopsided cake.  It wasn't a competition of which parent could outdo which parent by rental blow up games, or rental of facilities or entertainment.

14) Roller skates that involved a key and a sturdy tennis shoe.

15) You had limited brand names...Wrangler, Levi's and that was about it.

16) College was affordable.

17) Video games were Pong, Donkey Kong, Centipede, and pinball. And they cost 25¢ to play.

18) Gasoline cost less than a dollar a gallon.

19) If you were lucky enough to own a video camera, it had a huge battery pack you strapped around your waist large enough to make Rambo proud.

And once you got older (18 was legal), choice of liquor shots consisted of whiskey, Everclear, Jack Daniels. Not a Chuck Norris, not anything involving Red Bull, or anything tasting like cake. Beer was American and was limited to brands such as Olympia, Pabst, Miller High Life, and Schlitz. We didn't care how many calories it had.

20) Barbie didn't have several Kens to choose from, or a mansion, or a car, or a Pet Shop. Most of mine had homemade clothes.

Ahhh, the simple life. Makes me wonder what my grandparents thought of as evolutionary....

My youngest is turning 6. He wants to play laser tag. He hasn't been to kindergarten yet, so I have to invite MY friends to be bait. Just so he has something to shoot at. Sad.

We look at everything wrong in the world today...drugs, shooting sprees in schools and public places, sexual and physical abuse, a disconnect with parents and children, violence, puberty happening sooner than 13....I think sometimes our world has allowed us to be more 'disonnected' in an all too connected world.

Family suppers have disappeared, holidays like "May Day," are gone, kids growing up too fast and exposed to so much too soon, families gathered around the TV instead of enjoying one-on-one interaction with one another...


Too many distractions, not enough interactions.

Life should be simple. It seems to have a greater impact.

Friday, July 13, 2012

And Now on the Lighter Side

I thought that as my boys grew older, the cute things they say would diminish. But as it turns out, they just have an understanding of a wider range of subjects. For example:

One early morning, I was having a private conversation with my husband about a woman' "friend" for lack of a better word. I didn't realize that my oldest was within earshot and suddenly, he had all kinds of questions. If you tell him, "Never mind Kaiden." It only fuels the fire, and he will pepper you with questions until you are brow beaten and worn down. So I handled it the best way I saw fit, I left the room. In my absence, my husband explained in gentle 8-year-old terminology what it was. It causes pain, makes mommy tired (and Lord knows what else!) After the short lecture, my son found me and sat next to me. He put his arm around me, and with genuine concern, looked me straight in the eye and said, "Mom. I'm really sorry about your spin cycle."

Well, that's one way to look at it.

My youngest was an early talker and hasn't quit since. He starts conversations with complete strangers. He usually will introduce himself and then add a little tidbit about him that he thinks you'd like to know.

"Hi, I'm Kamrin Schweitzer, and I can whistle!" or "Hi, I'm Kamrin Schweitzer and I like guns." (Which goes over great with authorities and concerned parents.)

Look for this picture on the news someday.

He has a slight lisp where "s" sounds like "th" and "th" sounds are pronounced as "d's". So when he's talking a mile a minute, you can see everyone just nicely nod their head.

He IS obsessed with any sort of weapon of destruction. We visited the museum in Pierre while at Grammie's and Papa's. After having lengthy conversations with both the greeter AND the gift shop lady, he was all over the place. He didn't seem to be listening to anything. But when we got home, he was able to tell his dad that he saw an "AK47, a REAL grenade and a purple heart medal from WWII." That's what's amazing about him, he doesn't seem to be paying attention at all, but he is actually absorbing everything you say.

He has his own language. A doorbell is a "ring bell." So he will tell you to, "ring the ring bell."

If you sneezed, you "bless you-ed". So he may tell me, "Mom I bless you-ed 3 times!"

Along the same lines, if he 'accidently' did something, he oopsied. As in, "Momma, I oopsied peed the bed."

He looks for his swimming 'gobbles.'

He asked me if he dressed up as Santa Claus on Halloween, could he get presents AND candy?

When dad takes him fishing, he brings his "fishing hooker." (Umm, is there something I should know about?)

Anyone who waves to him is an instant "best friend." Which I find disturbing and endearing at the same time.

He is concerned about Kaiden's 'love life.' He told Kaiden that he should be ready for a girlfriend, because he will have 45 of them when he turns 10.

He randomly visits our neighbors and chats with them until we discover him missing and have to go look for him. (That earns us a 'parent of the year' award.)

The dynamics between the two is, for the most part, sweet. Yeah, Kaiden will hip-check him into a wall and then immediately ask if he's okay like he had NO IDEA how that happened!

Kaiden mothers him. Holds his hand at the dentist, even if they're just showing him how to floss. He holds him back at the curb when crossing the street to make sure he's safe. Reads to him.
A quiet moment.

But he manipulates him as well. There have been several occasions when I've told Kaiden, "No. He can't do (something)" and it won't be 2 minutes later that Kamrin is there asking again.

They have common interests, usually concerning the size, shape and smell of poop, which they feel the need to discuss in the bathroom at the same time. They care about their hygiene, especially the way they smell, "for the ladies" (Kaiden's term), which involves a cloud of dad's Axe body spray. And they are constantly perfecting their dance moves.

No matter how trying the day has been between the two of them, how many verbal and physical injuries have occurred, or one is considered a "butt cheek" by the other, they absolutely CANNOT be separated at bedtime. I love that time. I often check on them to find them sleeping soundly, but snuggling one another.

I swear those are NOT the only PJs Kam owns.

They're a perfect match. A yin for one's yang. I hope someday when they are older and they read this or are reminiscing together, they are still this humorous, this connected, and still best friends.
Peace out.

Insight On Moving...According to My Kids

Without trying to incite a pity party, I have wanted to write this post for a long time. I held off, hoping not to embarrass my parents or to classify myself as a "failure." I've battled this a long time, and feel if I write about it, I may somehow, relieve myself of some of the guilt I've been feeling.

About 3 years ago, when my husband lost his job, I decided the best thing we could do was to consolidate our debt. I went to Wells Fargo, a bank who considered me a VIP for nearly 20 years. They referred me to Wells Fargo FINANCIAL, who, using a salesman pitch so slick they could sell ice to an Eskimo, convinced me take a loan which would allow us one payment a month, rather than several payments to credit cards, car loans, etc. I was under the assumption that they needed to appraise my house as collateral. What they were really doing was giving me a home equity loan. I didn't understand that, and I have no one to blame but myself. They told me that they would start me out at 9+% interest, and every year that I made my payment on time, they would re-evaluate me and lower the interest rate. Sounds good, right? Except they went out of business 2 months later, and I was stuck at the high interest rate.

We sacrificed as much as we could to make those payments. We robbed Peter to pay Paul, we gave up Netflix, went to basic cable, bought our kids' clothes at second hand stores, gave our kids haircuts at home (bad idea), had to forgo fresh fruits and vegetable for frozen (they suck), didn't take any vacations, clipped coupons, and gave up our health insurance (not the kids), and worried ourselves to ulcers. But we did it.

I called every person I knew to try and help, the mortgage company (who informed me that I was making "empty threats" when I genuinely asked them if they wouldn't want payments vs. a foreclosure) I called the head of their complaint department, other banks, everyone I could think of. I said "no" so many times to my kids because "we didn't have money" that every sentence they asked me, started with, "someday...when we have money...can we..." I'm worried I've warped them.

Then I lost my job. I went back to school and worked part time. We had to file bankruptcy. I was ashamed. Humiliated. Degraded. And after cautiously telling my closest friends we had to do that, found it was more common than I had thought. Two weeks after we filed, we had to transport my husband to the hospital by ambulance for vertigo. Where he stayed for 2 days. Without health insurance...well you get the idea.

After consulting a lawyer, she said we would be better off giving up our house. I can see why Kleenex boxes are common in their offices.

Long story short, after 8 years of on-time-payments and more than 20 years of VIP status, we have to move.

Now to tell my kids. Thank God for my kids...they put it in perspective...

I told them, "We have to find a new place to live."

They say, "We need a new house, ours is old."

I told them, "You might not have your own rooms."

They say, "Yea! Can we get bunk beds?"

I say, "We need to go through everything because we might not have room for everything."

They say, "I think other kids would like this toy."

I say, "I'm going to miss our fantastic neighbors" (And, Oh Lord, I so will.)

They say, "Can we be somewhere with more kids?"

I say, "I can't imagine packing!"

They say, "We have so much junk."

I say, "We have to have a garage sale."

They say, "Can we have a lemonade stand?"

I say, "It might be a longer drive to daycare."

They say, "Can we be close to a place where we can go for bike rides?"

I say, "Our new place will be so small."

They say, "You won't have to clean so much, mom."

They are so excited to move. I hate it. There's not a day that goes by that I don't look around and miss a part of my house. Kamrin may not even remember this house. I'll miss the height marker in the garage.

A patio that my husband and I worked on in 90+ degree heat to create. My faux painting that I have received so many compliments on. My Sponge Bob mural in the kids' playroom I painstakingly painted. An extra bedroom for my parents to stay in. The piano I've had since I was 8.

The faucet my husband installed for me, the bathroom remodel that happened because my kids chipped a very soul in each and every space. A place I can navigate in the dark. Every ding, every scratch, every stain, every memory. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't have a part of me die because I have to give something up.

My oldest once asked me if we could move somewhere where they had a pool. I said it would be very hard to find a place like that with our two dogs. He replied, "I'm sure going to miss Bo and Ripley."

I see it as a mountain, a chore, a devastating life experience. They see it as an adventure. A new start.

I'm trying so hard to see it that way. But I LOVE this house. I LOVE the people around me. I'm mad at me, I'm mad at the economy...we tried SO hard. We didn't live off the government! We struggled to not be "those" people.

And we don't know WHEN we have to move. That sucks the most. I can't even plan on what to keep and what not to keep, because I don't know where we are going.

And you assholes on Craig's List, who advertise an affordable house for rent, only to find out you are "missionaries in Africa, have a sick wife," may you rot in hell. I hate you people. Because you give me hope and then rip it away.

I made this house. It's mine. I know every crevice, every nick, everything I had hoped to improve...and Wells Fargo, I'm not even going to tell you what I think of you. So glad you covered YOUR ass.

Oh I know, things could be worse. And my parents have been supportive beyond belief, but I hate this. I hate letting go. I hate having to prioritize my belongings into keep and not keep.


God isn't suppose to give you more than you can handle...but sometimes...I wish He didn't have so much confidence in me.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How My Kids Murdered My Type A Personality

I have reluctantly resigned myself to the fact that I am a type “A” personality. I get it from my mom. Both of us are planners, or at least that’s a nice way of putting it. We’re in control. Not because we necessarily WANT to be be, it’s because we feel we HAVE to be and no one else it capable of running things. If we don’t do it ourselves, no one will. We worry not only about ourselves, but everyone close to us. We’re “involved” in our families lives and do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone receives the best outcome. We are full of advice. We don’t always volunteer this advice, but if you ask our’ve just opened a whole can of worms that you hadn’t anticipated. We fret. We worry. We toss and turn in our beds. We plan every outcome to every scenario possible.

It’s hell for us. And probably hell on our loved ones. But only because we care, and because we want what’s best and we just love you so much! At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

Not entirely, but for the most part, my kids have done what they can to demolish that side of me. And I don’t mean they’re like water and have gently eroded away my control...they have taken a 50 lb. sledge hammer and shattered it to bits.

So now comes the week that I look forward to every year. I relish it more than Christmas and Halloween rolled together. It’s the week my parents take the kids. It means the world to me. A week without interrupted conversations with my husband. A week where my house stays clean for more than 5 minutes. A week of not working around schedules. A week of being spontaneous! But not for my mom.

She adores this week and does everything within her power to plan a fun-filled week with Grammie and Papa that would revile Disney World. But in so doing, she fills her schedule with allotted times, cleans her house, and worries about what isn’t going to get done.

Here’s some things I have reluctantly realized:

1) EVERYTHING takes more time than you allow for it to take. A 15 minute trip to the grocery store? Plan on 45. You need to consider the time it takes them to get their shoes on, the time it takes you to tell them 7 times to find their shoes, and the time you spend looking for them in the grocery store after you turned your back on them in the produce aisle.

2) All that time you spent making your house look so nice? Gone. In less then 10 minutes. Guaranteed. And picking up? Yeah, they’ll help...for about 5 minutes and then they get distracted and you end up doing it yourself.

3) The most awesome thing on your agenda for them...a plane ride. The thing they will tell mom and dad about when they call...the time they spent at the City Pool. With a slide.

4) You have to tell them it’s time for bed an hour before their bedtime. Not kidding. Because there will be glasses of water, having to pee, and someone needing, “just one more thing” before they actually hit the bed. And it doesn’t end there. Count on 20 more minutes of giggling and laughing, farting, burping, and “it was his fault” before they actually fall asleep. On top of you. In a king sized bed.

5) Something will get broken, scratched, or lost and it will be nobody’s fault. And there is NO WAY you can prove it.

6) Nice clothes for public, washed faces, and combed hair...will be stained or messy 2 seconds after you’re in the car.

7) You think you can “wear them out” so they will go to sleep early (and so can you!) HA! They somehow find an adrenaline shot of energy 6 seconds before bedtime, even if they were asleep on the car ride home.

8) The reward you said you would give them if they ‘promised’ to be good? You will end up giving it to them first because of all the begging and pleading and they will disappoint you. I tell myself over and over again that I won’t do that the next time, and yet...inexplicably, I do. (Grammie has more self control on this one than I do.)

9) All the parenting advice you have given me over the years? Don’t yell. Don’t threaten. Don’t take your frustration out on them. Be patient. You will find yourself doing within the first few days if not hours. It’s okay. It happens. If you don’t’ sometimes raise your voice to them, you end up taking it out on your spouse, then everyone’s mad at you.

10) I don’t care if you paint the worse case scenario of being bitten by the dog...stitches, a trip to the doctor with shots, losing a limb...they will still tease the dog. And not understand when he bites them. Maybe they need to be bitten so they stop (not hard, mind you.)

They will leave every light on in the house, they will feed the dog “people food”, better check your hoses at night to make sure they’re not running, you will retrieve items of clothing from you backyard at 10 o’clock at night, your refrigerator will be sticky and have hand prints all over it’s stainless steel surface, they will want to play your computer 10 hours a day, they will “surf” in your bathtub and “accidentally” miss the toilet when they pee.

So just remember...sit back...enjoy the time they spend with you even if it doesn’t coincide with your schedule. Because when they come home, they talk about are how Grammie read them bedtime stories, or how Papa played the Wii with them. Go with the flow, and if it isn’t what you planned, and you still enjoy what you’re doing, then so be it.

I have to admit, I get a little jealous. Because you have taken this time out of your busy life and dedicated it all to them. You are able to sacrifice a busy work schedule to cater to their every whim. Something I can’t do...yet. I have school, I have work, I have to get up early, I have to study. I have laundry. I have to clean the house. They anticipate this week probably more than I do because they realize that they are going to be the center of attention. And they are so lucky to have you in their lives. Able to do the things you do together. What a wonderful opportunity for them to have the relationship they do with you, since there are a lot of grandchildren who don’t.

And I am lucky too. Because the week allows me not only time for myself, but also allows me to realize how empty my life would be without them.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The List

Oh my gosh, I can't believe how long it's been since I've been able to write! I'm sure most of you thought I was dead. I'm not. I'm in school. Which is almost the same thing. And I swear it takes up every waking moment of my time. But I have lots of posts swimming around my head, and now that I'm on my three week "summer" break, I can write some of them!

Spring and summer is also my husband's busiest seasons with his handyman business as well. And together, we are trying to manage time with our sons and time to get the every day things done around the house. With all the time constraints, I have become a slave to 'lists'. They come in several different formats; a white board calendar on the 'fridge-color coded for appointments vs. work schedules vs. (now past) school activities. Sticky notes with "things to do..." like laundry, so I don't have to send the boys to daycare with mismatched socks...again. That list is also my 'ego list' since I can judge how productive my day was by how many things I was able to cross off. And if I accomplished something that wasn't originally written on my list--I will write it on there just for the satisfaction of crossing it off. OCD, I know. Also, my 'bible' which is also known as my day planner for school. It not only includes when assignments are due and when tests are scheduled and ward care (when I take care of animals), but also my work schedule, just in case I missed it on the whiteboard.

But the most sacred of all the lists is the grocery list. This list takes more than one day in the making. Without being able to cook as much as I used to, I worry that I may be the sole demise of my family's health. That my sons will be on Dr. Phil with some sort of eating affliction that will be traced back to their mother's neglect. Diets cannot consist of hot dogs, ham sandwiches and 78¢ potpies alone. No. For my own peace of mind, I must include things like, fresh fruit, yogurt, and popcorn for snacks. Then somehow I can feel I have done my motherly duty in making sure my family eats healthy! (Even if "fresh fruit" comes in the form of Scooby Doo shaped fruit snacks.) What? Don't judge me.

Not our actual shopping trip, but close!


My husband, who has a sweet tooth the size of our refrigerator, will "pick up a few things," to fill the vast hole my list has left...junk food. If, after spending several hours planning, and ordering my groceries online to be delivered (did I mention the greatest idea on earth?!), there is no chocolate, my husband will either, A) intercept the Schawnn's man with a flying football tackle in the driveway to order ice-cream sandwiches, or B) need to pick up something essential I left off the toilet paper. (Or so he claims.)

One day, against better judgement, I had no time to order online, nor run to the store myself. I should have known better when he volunteered to run for me.

Now I must interject here, my husband, no matter how good his intentions are, can only remember things for about 20 minutes. (Don't even get me started on how he left the dryer with a broken timer running for 6 hours!) So I decided to write him a list. We needed mayo. Which I tried to burn into his brain by singing, "MAYO! MAAAYYYO! Daylight comes and I wanno go home" about 50 times that day. (From Beetlejuice, and yes, I'll include the awesome scene for you. You're welcome.)

I wanted some kettle corn (which had become my 'studying snack' and new addiction).  I wrote these things down. On a list. I gave him coupons. One of which was $5 off a $45 purchase. He told me he wasn't going to spend $45. I said, "take it anyway, you never know."

When he came back, he had about 5 bags worth of groceries and I started unpacking. There was Ho-Hos, Oreos, a package of brownie mix, oh...and mayo, frozen pizzas, and various other garbage food. As I was unpacking the bags, he slaps his forehead, "Urgh. I forgot your kettle corn!" Ok. He made the run. I forgave him...until...

"How much did you spend?"

"About $45."

"Well, good thing you had that coupon then..."

(blink. blink.)

" mean to tell me, you bought all this junk, PLUS AA batteries, which wasn't on THE LIST and didn't use the coupon?!"

At which point he opens his wallet and hands the coupon back to me. "It's good until the end of the month."


No wonder the kids like him best.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crap My Kids Have Ruined

I have decided that even if I DID have the money to buy nice things, there would really be no point in doing so until the year 2025 or later. It all depends on where my kids decide to go to college (note I did not say "if"). I started learning this lesson the hard way when I had my first, and the realization has become more concrete ever since.

1) I haven't owned or wore anything white, excluding socks, since 2004. From spit up and overflowing diapers, it has progressed steadily to Chef BoyArdee fingerprints and unidentifiable stains that are only noticed AFTER leaving a public place. No matter how many times I've washed those clothes, there is a faded orange spot that refuses to detach itself from the white fibers of my shirt (or pants...or coat).

2) The arms of my couch. Scotch-Guard...pshht. Doesn't stand a chance against my kids. The dirt and grime from their hands, and feet for that matter, have worn its way past any sort of protection barrier that chemical may have attempted to provide. I have scrubbed them so many times, they have become nearly translucent. Finding banana peels and Popsicle sticks left there hasn't helped either.

3) Along the same lines, Shawn's Laz-E-Boy has acquired a slight tilt. Apparently, when the floor becomes lava, it is necessary to get from one end of the room to the other by hopping from arm to arm of whatever available furniture is close at hand.

4) Shortly after we bought and hung custom cut blinds for our kitchen, I noticed a bite mark in one of the slats. And although both children claimed the indentations just miraculously appeared out of nowhere, it bears a strong resemblance to my youngest's mouth size. Along with the coinciding hole where he is missing a tooth.

5) At least 3 walls have been written on. PLEASE! Do not tell me you didn't do it when you wrote your own name!

6) My piano has one key that "clunks" every time it's depressed and I don't know enough about pianos to get in there and see what's causing it. I'm not really sure I want to know. Also, that piano bench has multiple scratches in it from being a Hotwheel ramp.

7) I actually have to purchase the 2 year insurance policy on any video game that is purchased. Just as leaving them out on the floor to be stepped on by kids and dogs alike, they didn't hold up well when "cleaned" by scouring pads.

8) My vacuum accessories have been missing for 18 months.

9) The hallway ceiling is in need of repainting due to an experiment in how long "slime" will hang before they can try to catch it when it falls.

10) Baseboards didn't stand a chance against soccer balls, monster trucks and rollerblades.

11) Shawn and I decided that purchasing our own carpet steam cleaner was the best investment we ever made. Although it works well enough, I have yet to find something that will remove chewing gum remnants. I'm hoping it wears off on its own.

12) I own more plastic glasses than real ones and can never have more than three people over at a time, since none of my wine glasses match. My dishes are a mishmash of colors and styles...the survivors of once complete sets.

13) Might as well lump the rest together...a vent cover, a space heater, several toilet seats, an oven burner, many window screens, knick knacks to numerous to count, a huge glass-top table at grammie's house and a set of outdoor patio chairs. However, a bath tile repair job did turn into a complete makeover that I am not unhappy about.

14) And lastly, my figure. Although they are not completely to blame...THEY STARTED IT!

15) Don't even get me started on the intangible things, such as privacy in the bathroom, spontaneity, an uninterrupted phone conversation, or any quality study time before 9 PM.

The reason they will not have a choice about attending college is obvious, they are going to need well paying jobs to replace the things they've ruined. But by that time, I'll be too old and senile to enjoy them. Oh well, in the meantime, I'll have to make do.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Yep, He's Mine...

If you're any of my family or facebook friends who have already seen my son's Christmas concert excerpt, you can skip the rest of this blog.

I have talked about Kam often. About how he marches to the beat of his own drum, resides in his own world and lives by his own rules. To say he is a "people person" is an understatement. Do you remember that statement about living life where it says something like, "Dance like no one is watching?" Well, everyone is watching and my son doesn't care. In fact, I'm pretty sure he enjoys it.

This video is of my son's Christmas concert. At his school. Christian school. It starts a little slow, but keep watching. A little less than a minute in to it, and Kam has truly tapped his "inner performer." At one point, the guy sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, "There's one in every crowd." And before he could say anything further, I replied, "Yep, and that one's mine."

I'll admit, I was somewhat embarrassed, even though I nearly wet my pants laughing. When we left the concert to claim our child in the school hallway, my first tendency was to look around to see who was watching to glimpse of the parents of "that child." But luckily, my husband set the tone and actually surprised me. He saw him first and shouted, "Hey Hollywood, give me five!" I couldn't have loved him more at that moment.

Anyway, this video gives you an insider's look into my son's personality. I couldn't be prouder.

Take a minute to watch, and one's watching:
Kamrin's 1st Christmas concert

Monday, February 20, 2012

You Better Hope Nothing Happens to Me...

How many moms have said that? To their husbands, kids...usually in the heat of the moment. Of course we're implying that there is no possible way that life as they know it could continue to be as good as it is for them without us there.

Now, I'm not saying that I am more the grease that keeps this family running as smoothly as it does (okay, I'm lying, that's exactly what I'm saying). And Shawn will quickly point out that I pamper the boys. I don't see it like that. I see it as utilizing every available minute with as little drama as possible. I have often considered writing down my "tricks" in a tiny spiral-bound notebook and placing it somewhere that Shawn would be sure to find it, if for some reason, (ahem), ANYTHING SHOULD HAPPEN TO ME. It just makes everyday a little simpler, a little less tantrum filled, a little less stressful for everyone. If that's pampering, I guess I'm guilty.

Some of the things I'm talking about...

1) Lumpy socks. Instead of putting on boots/shoes and taking them off over and over again, with tempers rising, causing a boot/shoe to be shot across the room (by parent or child) because a sock, "just doesn't feel right," turn them inside out. Use ones that don't match. Or if you're just going to the store, or somewhere they won't be taking the boots/shoes off...let them go without. If you decide to be the dictator in this situation, you may win the battle, but trust me my friend, you will NOT win the war. On your way to school, the bus stop, wherever, your son will calmly take his boots/shoes off, which you will only discover when you have stopped the car to get them out and only have 2 minutes left on your timetable. They will REFUSE to put them back on with the willpower that only a child has, and you will end up carrying said child into whichever facility you're at. And if this place needs shoes, good luck to you. One other thing I've learned...if you put their socks on them when they are still half awake in bed, you're chances of lumpy socks decreases by about 80%. Not sure why.

2) Waffle presentation. Trust me, I know it sounds ridiculous, but you must fill EVERY square of the frozen waffle with syrup. And honey, you can't take the shortcut of ripping the waffle into pieces and pouring syrup over it...they know. It may take a couple of seconds longer than random strings of syrup over the dang thing, but this method as been proven time and time again to prevent spontaneous explosion of our youngest one and wasted waffle. Do not listen to what the dogs are telling you, they just want the waffle after it's been rejected.

3) Bedtime is actually 30 minutes earlier than you think it is. Don't worry, it doesn't mean that you're sending the kids to bed at 7:00, because I guarantee it will take you AT LEAST 30 minutes before they even reach the bedroom. Also, you can't say, "Time for bed!" and expect them to jump up and race one another to be the first under the sheets. Oh no. I know it defies explanation, since you're ready to be asleep by 9, but they don't actually want to go to bed. In fact, it is best to give them some sort of warning that you will be telling them it's bedtime. For example, "10 more minutes, then bed." Also, don't expect them to think to themselves, "Hmmm, only 10 minutes? Well, sheesh, I better get that glass of water/go to the bathroom/read that book/get that snack, because I'm almost out of time." Nope. Those excuses are saved for when you think you've actually won and have the covers tucked around their chins.

4) Even though you think it takes 10 minutes, it takes 20. Keep this in mind. I don't care if you're not due to be somewhere for another 20-25 minutes. Get out the door. It's amazing what will catch you're child's undivided attention in that mere 7 ft from door to car. It will also prepare you for that last minute realization, "I gotta go to the bathroom. NO I can't hold it!" (Refer to #3)

5) Everything is your fault. I don't care if you've told them to look for their shoes and put them on 50 times, in the end, if you yell at them for being late because they didn't get their shoes on, it's YOUR FAULT because you didn't tell them where to look. Just so you know. Oh, and if you throw your hands up and go to look for the aforementioned shoes, DO NOT expect one to be in the same relative vicinity as the other. In fact, they may not be in the same room. If you have exhausted all possibilities, it is not considered out of the ordinary to look in the backyard. Again, I have no idea why this happens.

6) Dum-dum suckers are a secret weapon. Anywhere they are given away free, and you're alone. Stock up. They make great bribes if you're in a pinch. A good place to store them is in the car.

7) Watch your language. I don't care if you're on the phone in the bathroom or out in the garage, one slip of the tongue and it will come out of your kids' mouth at the worst possible time. If you scold them, they will say, "But YOU say it!"

8) What happens in the house, does not necessarily stay in the house. So if you're thinking anything pertaining to pooping, farting, picking your nose, the word "butt," "penis," or anything similar in nature will be "just between you and the boys," think again. It will make it's way out of the house and come back to bite you in the butt. Ahem. I mean behind.

9) Eats and drinks stay in the kitchen. It doesn't matter how 'spillproof' you think you've made something, or how 'safe' you'll think they'll be, they will manage to slop kool-aid on the carpet, make a mark on the couch with ink, or leave chocolate fingerprints on the remote. Oh, and it will be YOUR FAULT.

10) You are responsible. I don't care how much you hate to go places, attend activities, or may not enjoy the same things your kids do. You will have to suck it up and go. YOU NEED TO BE INVOLVED. I know it takes up your time, I know it's hard to keep one kid occupied when the other is playing baseball, I know you don't like to dress nice for concerts, but at some point, it needs to stop being about you and you need to remember it's about them, even if it's out of your comfort zone. If you don't take an interest in what is important to them, they will stop trying new things. And who knows what wonderful possibilities that could rob them of. Oh, and also, make an effort to introduce them to some of those new outdoor concerts, art in the park, bike trails, etc. Remember, if you're involved in what they do, then you know what they're doing. (that sounded profound for a moment).

11) At some point, you will have to push. I think our biggest hope for our children is that we want them to be better people than we are. So there may be times where you won't be their friend. But that's okay, you're the parent. And it will mean probably pushing yourself as well. It's our job to be hated at moments.

Anyway, I know you think I'm morbid when I say, "If anything ever happens to me..." but just in case...I'll leave you a constantly updated spiral notebook. Look for it.