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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Charles Barkely and Why I'm Crazy (Reason #257)

If you're a faithful follower (Thanks, Mom!), you are not surprised at my admission of insanity.  I mean, I thought it was a great idea to bake cupcakes while hanging out with three toddlers.  From scratch.  I had a brief love/hate affair with a raccoon from Phi Kappa Alpha (Okay, so there was no love.  It was just hate.  I admit it).  And, I have all kinds of delusions about my son being the next winning goal-scorer for the U.S. World Cup team.  Just to name a few.

Well, today, I'm adding to the seemingly endless list of evidence confirming my craziness.  The other day, I was sitting there thinking to myself, "Wow, life is pretty nuts right now.  I have a lot going on and a lot coming up."  Let's see, I have a month left of summer vacation; I have approximately 2.6 million adventures I still want to take Gavin on; I'm finishing up teaching three online classes; My creative writing class ends this week, and I only have to add about 8 pages to my short story.  I have a really big meeting coming up next week that I need to prepare for (and probably should be doing that right about now).  And on, and on, and on.

So, what did I decide to do??  Get a new planner?  Nope.  Lock myself in a cave and get a bunch of work done?  Wrong!  Take Gavin to daycare for a few hours so I could get some house work done?  No way!  I decided to . . .


Of course!  That's the perfect solution to my "Holy crap, I've got a lot going on right now" problem.  I'll get a puppy!  Now why is this the perfect solution?  Because nothing says stress-reduction like a tiny, adorable, shoe-chewing, carpet-pissing, toe-biting, underwear-destroying black lab pup!

On top of that, I thought it would do Arnie (and his doggy insanity) a little good.   Why wouldn't he feel better with a feisty pup jumping on his head, biting his ears, and following him everywhere he goes?  You're welcome, Arnie!

How did I possibly come up with this super-amazing-brilliant idea?  It started awhile back when Gavin tried (rather unsuccessfully) to play with his dogs.  Oh, he tried to chase them, throw them a tennis ball, entice them with dog toys, etc. but, they're getting up there in age and really have no desire to do much more than lay around and pester people for food.

As I'm known to do, I decided to make a pros and cons list to help me decide.  My lists looked something like this:

1.  Gavin would like a puppy to play with.
2.  Puppies are cute.

1.  Puppies require a lot of training and attention.
2.  House-breaking a puppy is an enormous task.
3.  Puppies chew on shoes, socks, and underwear.
4.  Puppies bite (especially your feet).
5.  Arnie would be pissed.
6.  Gavin just started sleeping past 6 a.m.  I don't want to have to get up at 5 a.m. with a puppy.
7.  I already spend half my life picking up Gavin's toys, do I really want to pick up after a puppy, too?
8.  Puppies (especially labs) are hyper and destructive.
9.  I don't feel like whipping out my Bissel Clean Machine every 30 minutes.
10.  Did I mention I don't have time for a puppy?

I had a lot more things to put on the "Cons" list but I kept going back to "Puppies are cute," and then these people walked by our house with a boxer puppy.  Gavin was all like, "Oh look, Mom, a puppy," and the puppy was all in love with Gavin.  Later that day Gavin said, "Mommy how about we get five puppies?" Then, he proceeded to sing me a song that went like this: We are going to get five puppies.  They're going to lick our faces.  (He also said, "Mommy, can we get a new puppy instead of Arnie," but shhh! don't tell Arnie!)  So, I was like, "Sold!  We're getting a puppy!" And I guess we'll keep Arnie...

Now, before I even got the puppy, I knew I would let Gavin name him.  In my mind (scary place), I started thinking of ways to talk him out of names I thought he would choose:

- Buzz
- Woody (I could just imagine myself standing outside yelling, "Come on Woody!")
- Lightning McQueen (I'd have to avoid yelling at the dog because it would be too much effort to get that name out every time)
- Finn McMissile (What is with these Cars names?)
- Slinky dog  (Any name with the type of animal in it just makes you look like an idiot.  Like you only included the "dog" part in case you forgot you had a dog instead of a cat.)
- Buster (I might have mildly considered this)

In the car on the way home, I asked Gavin what he thought we should call the puppy.  In all seriousness he says, "I think his name is Charlie."  What?  Really?  Where the hell did that come from?  I was totally braced to talk him out of any of the names above, and he pulls 'Charlie' out of nowhere.  It wasn't a bad name, and I love giving my dogs people names.  It always makes for interesting conversation.  "Oh, hey, Dan.  This is my dog, Dan."  (Really, I have a dog named Dan.)  Also, it confuses people as to who I'm talking about.  "Wait, who's Charlie?  Is that your brother?  Boyfriend?  Husband?  Kid?  Brother-in-law?  Dad?"  Nope, it's my dog.  So, Charlie it was.  It wasn't the greatest name, but it wasn't the worst . . . until I got a text from my mom.

I had sent her 4.6 billion pictures of Charlie via text, and to one of them she replied, "Hi Charles."  Immediately, what popped in my head?  Charles Barkley.   Do you get the humor here?  Charles Barkley.  That totally sealed it for me.  I can just imagine how people everywhere are going to read this, share it with everyone they know, and somehow it will get back to Charles Barkley (the former NBA player and basketball analyst.  Oh, and I think he ran for mayor or governor or something.), and he'll be like, "Seriously?  Someone named their dog after me?  Not cool."  Then, he will wage a media war against me (think Al Gore v. Murphy Brown), and people will flock to support me.  I will then become famous, which will eventually lead to my being independently wealthy, and all will be well.  Or, I will just secretly chuckle every time I see Charles Barkley on television.  Whatever.

Image c/o

So far, Gavin and Charlie are BFFs (except when Gavin's tired and laying on the couch and Charlie decides to pounce on his head), Arnie doesn't seem to mind him too much, and we haven't had any accidents. (Okay, so we've spent 99.9% of our time outside.  I consider that 0.1% a victory.)  By tomorrow, I'm totally going to regret the thing about the accidents because I'm certain it will come back to haunt my carpet.  All is well, and you get the pleasure of looking forward to 1.8 million posts about all the shit Charlie does (and by "does" I mean "destroys") and how I'm going to kick myself (at some point) for getting a puppy!  I'll keep you updated on the Charles Barkley thing, too!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Dog is Nuts. It's Only Getting Worse.

When I say my dog's insane, people think I'm being mean or over-exaggerating.  "But he's so cute, and you love him," they say.  Well, he is cute, and I do love him, but he's freaking nuts.  And really, what's not to love about a dog that lays under your bed for 2 hours, starting at 5 am, scratching and licking constantly?  Well, today, I discovered that his craziness is only getting worse.  But, don't you worry, I decided to document all of this with photos.  It's about to get all National Geographic up in here.

Reason #1:  He refuses to lay on the floor.  You know, like a dog.

What?  The floor?  Screw you!

Reason #2:  He licks incessantly.

Nothing like licking my paws for 45 minutes.

Oh, and of course, the vet said it was allergies then proceed to load Arnie up on steroids which only made him crazier (but at least he increased his batting average).

Reason #3:  He is afraid of non-carpeted flooring.

I'm just gonna stand here whining for 15 minutes until I decide to hurl my body across the flooring, which will make me slide and hopefully slam into the wall, thereby decreasing my fear of the floor.  Or not.

Just to add to the above list: He's afraid of his water bowl.  He won't eat if anyone is in the same room.  He's afraid to walk from the kitchen into the living (for reasons I cannot begin to fathom).  He acts like I'm torturing him if I make him go outside for more than 35 seconds (What do you think I am?  A dog?  Seriously, lady.).  In fact, he hates outside so much that he learned how to open the screen door (so now he can let himself and a million flies in whenever he wants!).  Now, I could write 15 pages on all the crazy things my dog does, but I have to get to the real point here.  His insanity is increasing quickly.  Lately, Arnie has been spending the majority of his time hiding out under my bed. I admit, I just chalked it up to him needing his Puppy Prozac increased. Today, I discovered the real reason:

9:00 am: Minding my own business.

9:01 am: But not for long.

9:03 am: Whew!  Safe under the bed.

9:07 am: I hear something.  I should check it out.

9:08 am: The coast looks clear.

9:09 am: What's this?  Cinnamon Toast Crunch?  For me?  Hooray!

9:09 am: Meanwhile . . . 

9:10 am: Oh shit!  There's a box flying at my head!

9:11 am:  Back to safety.  For now . . .

Now, don't worry.  Once I finished documenting all of this with my camera for the amusement of others, I quickly put an end to the lure-the-dog-out-with-food-and-then-scare-the-shit-out-of-him game.  And, I gave Arnie an extra doggy Valium just for good measure!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The World's Most Annoying Toy

A few months before Christmas last year, I sat down with Gavin, and we looked through some toy ads.  I was attempting to have him write a letter to Santa about what he wanted for Christmas.  It was a struggle because he didn't quite understand the concept.  Who is this Santa guy?  Why is he bringing me toys?  Why do I have to tell him what I want?  Oh look, I'm going to go jump on the dog's head.  What?  We're not done? But I gave you 45 seconds of my time, now I'm off to do something else - like make a huge mess! 

Needless to say, it was a bit of a challenge, but we got a few things down.  Of the things he had seen in the ads, he was fixated on this garbage truck toy.  Stinky the Garbage Truck to be exact.  Every time we talked about being good "so Santa will come and bring you presents," Gavin's response was always, "And Santa will bring me my garbage truck?"  Sure kid, Santa will bring you the garbage truck.  Truthfully, I had no intention of buying this garbage truck - What the hell kind of toy is that? - but Gavin kept bringing it up and bringing it up, so as it got closer to Christmas I knew we'd have to get the damn garbage truck.

As with most things, this was easier said than done.  Little did I know that Stinky had been rated one of the most sought after toys for Christmas 2010.  Really?  Seriously?  And, of course, why wouldn't it be?  I mean, it is a garbage truck after all.  Don't we all remember our first garbage truck toy?  How excited we were to rip open the wrapping paper on Christmas morning, and there it was: our sweet, sweet garbage truck.  Ah, memories.  I have to admit, I had no idea what Stinky actually did, but I knew I had to get my hands on one.

Despite the fact that we had already done our "Santa" shopping (and went overboard, of course, and bought all kinds of ridiculous things and spent oodles of money), I knew that Stinky had to be under that tree.  I am not a fan of crowds - especially holiday shopping crowds which I can only compare to a bunch of starving lions going after a nice hunk of zebra leg - so I wasn't too keen on the idea of going to the store to find said garbage truck.  (In my mind, I imagined having to wrestle a much larger, frazzled, mother for the last one on the shelf, and it wasn't pretty.)

Image c/o taylorlifesciene
My solution: online shopping!  I logged onto, and ordered Stinky.  He would be there by Christmas - crisis averted.

Me after I successfully ordered Stinky!

Until two weeks later when I got an email from Target saying they were oh-so-sorry but Stinky was all out of stock.  But, not to worry because they would refund my money.  Sheer panic engulfed me.  I had to have Stinky.  If there's no Stinky under the tree, then Gavin may never believe in Santa, and then I wouldn't get to good-naturedly lie to him for the next several years only to steal away the magic of Christmas when he finally figures out the fat guy does not exist.  This was now a full-blow holiday crisis (and not like the ones where you burned the turkey, Uncle So-and-so is sloshed and may have passed out in the bathroom, and you feel like maybe you should see a doctor about prescribing you Valium before you decide to invite your in-laws over again - and not my in-laws because I love them.  Really, I do!)

Stinky is OUT OF STOCK??
I immediately began emailing and calling everyone I knew begging them to go to their nearest Wal-Mart or Target and try to find me a Stinky.  I offered a monetary reward and was willing to spend three times the listed price to buy one on eBay.  I said I would reimburse people for their travel expenses AND the pay they might lose because I needed them to leave their jobs right that second and find a Stinky or I wouldn't be able to sleep.  Little did I know, every store had them in stock and I had overreacted just a teeny tiny bit.  So, by the end of the day, there was a garbage truck safely tucked away in my basement and Christmas was saved.

Little did I know, my peace and quiet would forever be ruined by this garbage truck.  (Just a slight exaggeration.)  Fast forward to Christmas:

How I imagined it would go:  Gavin awakes Christmas morning, rushes to the tree, grabs the package containing Stinky, rips open the paper, and his face breaks out in a smile of pure joy.  He jumps up and down, maybe even screams a little, and forever remembers this day as the best day of his life.

How it really went:  Gavin rips open most of his gifts and moves on to the next one within 5 seconds.  He finally opens Stinky and is all like, "Ooh, a garbage truck."  Stinky is removed from his packaging and Gavin is terrified.

Stinky in what I refer to as "attack mode."

Why is he terrified?  Well, first, Stinky is LOUD.  And by loud, I mean it screams at you.  It screams and it does all these weird jerky movements and makes all of these strange mechanical noises and you can't even understand what the hell it's saying.  It has some kind of New York accent, it has a moving mouth, it lights up, stands up, and says all sorts of, well, dumb things.

Things it says:
- "Hi, I'm Stinky.  Are you?"  (Well, no, I don't think so.  I mean, I did shower recently and I even remembered deodorant.)
- "You are stinky.  I love it!"  (Great, let's encourage kids to smell bad.)
- "Hi, I'm Stinky.  I love garbage!"  (Who doesn't?  Trash is amazing!)
- Sniff, sniff.  "Ooh, you're stinky just like me!"  (Sweet.  We have something in common!)

But, I must say that my favorite saying is when you lift up the door in the back of the truck:

"Hey, hey, hey!  Watch it back there!"  (I cannot even begin to explain the inappropriate images I get in mind.)

Unfortunately, Gavin has overcome his fear of Stinky and plays with him all the time now.  All.  The.  Time.  Sometimes, I cannot even concentrate on what I'm doing because I'm so distracted by Stinky's yelling.  I have to turn the t.v. up full-blast because I cannot hear anything over Stinky's shouting and vast assortment of noises.  At night, when Gavin's tucked into bed and I'm picking up the last of his toys, I often pick Stinky up, and he's still on.  The house is completely quiet and suddenly he's yelling at me, and it always scares the shit out of me.  I literally jump and shudder and consider calling 911 for fear I've had a heart attack.  Normally, Stinky shuts up if he's not played with for awhile, but sometimes he gets stuck in "play" mode when no one is even in the room.  From clear across the house (I say this like my house is enormous), I can hear Stinky yelling and moving and preparing to terrify children all over the world.  Lucky me!

And that, my friends, is why Stinky the Garbage Truck is the world's most annoying toy (to date).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

But I Have to Take My Hat

Here's how I know I'm crazy: I let my son do things like take a cowboy hat to the grocery store without even questioning his motives.  I prefer to make up my own innocent and unrealistic justifications in my mind, which (if you haven't noticed) usually doesn't work out well for me.  (See Toddler Takeover or Late-Night Visitor for further evidence of my delusions.)

So in my mind, this is how the cowboy-hat-at-the-grocery-store-saga was going to unfold:  Gavin would take the cowboy hat in the car.  He would wear it on his head for about five minutes.  Then, he would grow bored and discard the hat.  Once we got to the grocery store, he would completely forget the hat existed, and we would be on our merry way to buy some Poptarts and frozen waffles sans hat.  (To be completely honest, my grocery store delusions always include this scene where Gavin walks next to the cart, selects the items I kindly request off of the shelf, and places them ever-so-gently in the basket.  Oh, and there's butterflies and fairies and puppies and rainbows and smiling strangers commenting on how polite and sweet and kind my kid is.)

Well, our grocery shopping trip actually went something like this:

Just wrangling up some ground beef.
Yep, he wore the hat the entire time.  Every last second.  He wore it in the car, in the parking lot, through the frozen foods aisle, and even the toilet paper aisle! And, just to add more emphasis I suppose, he continually yelled the following statements as I carelessly tossed items into the cart:

Ride like the wind, Bullseye!

There's a snake in my boot!

Somebody poisoned the waterhole!

Me?  I just smiled at the people snickering, pointing, and gawking, and pretended like I was oh-so-thankful to have Sheriff Woody there to escort me on my shopping adventure.  I mean, Meijer can be dangerous, you know.

Still, I couldn't figure out the hat.  Usually, he asks to bring things like action figures, cars, or even juice on our grocery shopping trips, but never a hat - especially a cowboy hat.  But, as we finished checking it out, it started to become very clear to me what his motivation for the hat was:

Aha!  I get it now!
Really?  All this because you wanted to wear the hat while you rode the penny horse?  Huh.  Interesting.  And then you don't even look like you're enjoying yourself or having fun as the pony slowly totters back and forth at a pace that would only give a snail motion sickness?  

Oh, kids.  They sure do some funny shit.  (P.S. I don't mean funny shit as in shit shit.  Actual shit is rarely funny (and by "rarely" I mean as long as it's not my kid or my dog).  If you don't believe me, read this:  Wait, He Did What?)  In the meantime, I'll be bracing myself to be taking that cowboy hat to the store every time we go.

There's a Reason It's Called "Parenting"

I'm going to preface this post by saying this: I am not a perfect parent.  In fact, I am far from it.  I have made multitudes of mistakes when parenting, and I humbly acknowledge those.  I'm not a super mom, nor do I claim to be.  I don't view myself as a parenting role model, and I don't think that everyone should parent the way I do.  But, here is my rant about the way other people parent.  Feel free to ignore it if it pisses you off.

What bothers me the most about other parents is that they seem to forget the fact that they actually have to "parent."  You know, pay attention to their children, interact with them, discipline them, teach them things, spend time with them, play with them, and so on.  It seems we have this reoccurring ailment in society where people have kids and then act as though they're this incredible inconvenience.  I get that parenting is exhausting and it's a difficult and complex job, but we signed up for it.

What saddens me is how much we miss out on our own children's lives because we're so involved in other things: working, messing around on our computers or phones, watching television, gabbing with our friends, etc.  Kids grow up really quick, and time really does fly, and you can't get it back once it's gone.  I fully admit that I was once a person who spent so much time working and trying to take care of my dreams and goals that I missed out on some great things with my kid - but thankfully I learned my lesson before it was too late and I missed out on his entire childhood.  I'm constantly evaluating opportunities that are presented to me with my son in mind.  I want to be an active participant in his childhood, and that is my number one priority.

I also enjoy interacting and playing with my son.  Sometimes, I get looks from people like I've utterly lost my mind.  As other parents sit around, sipping cocktails, engaging in adult conversation or simply watching the action, I like to get right down there and be part of it.  Kids do a lot of fun stuff, and I want to be part of that fun, too.  So what if I'm freezing, I'm having a great time sledding with my kid.  So what if I'm getting all wet, Gavin and I are having a blast running through the sprinkler.  I choose to be a participant in the action rather than an observer, and that allows me to make a lot of memories with my kid and spend some quality time with him.

I understand that my sole purpose in life is not to be my child's playmate and constant entertainer, but the fact is, Gavin doesn't have any siblings, so I often have to play with him - and I enjoy it.  Even if he did have siblings, what kid doesn't want their mom or dad to come and play with them, spend some time with them, and give them some undivided attention?  I don't know of a child that doesn't enjoy that (except maybe teenagers, but they're a completely different life form).  And, is it really so hard to log off of Facebook for thirty minutes and play a game with your kid?

I'm not saying we should all abandon our personal dreams and goals, quit our jobs, and spend every waking second with our children - that's completely unrealistic and not feasible.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that we should strive to find some sort of balance - a balance between really making time for our kids and making time for ourselves, a balance between working and relaxation with our families, a balance between our own personal desires and a commitment to enjoying our children's short childhoods, a balance between housework and playing catch in the yard.  It's something I struggle with, but I'm committed to finding that balance.

So, that is my rant - my intent was not to offend but rather vent-, and now I'm off to pretend that I'm Buzz Lightyear while Gavin pretends to be Woody.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Embarrassing Moment #3957

Today, I'm linking up with a fellow blogger, and the topic is "Your Most Embarrassing Moment."  Now, if you're anything like me, your first thought was: Which one?  The older we get, the more we can add experiences to the category of Oh My God, How Embarrassing.  So, I muddled for awhile.  I could write about the time when, meeting my future mother-in-law for only the second or third time, I gracefully plummeted through her glass coffee table (which she claimed she didn't like, but really she LOVED) sending shards of glass all over the living room.  Or, I could revisit the time my son shit on the playground at daycare, but I just discussed that not too long ago.  There are a number of mommy-related or pregnancy-related moments I could share, but I thought to myself, "I haven't really shared any stories about my teaching (given that it is July and I'm trying to pretend that I don't have a job right now but am really independently wealthy)."  So, a teaching story it is!

Now, I'd like to preface my story with this: I love teaching, and I like to have fun with my students.  (Somewhere, hundreds of students are shocked to hear this.  Wait, she likes to have fun with us?  I didn't know she was capable of having fun!)  Now, I have to be careful with how much fun and the type of fun I have with my students (you know, lawsuits and crap).  For instance, my freshman rarely see the "fun" side of me.  Why?  Because one minor joke turns into 55 minutes of me trying to refocus them and their out-of-control hormones.  I probably have less fun with my sophomores than anyone.  Why?  Because somewhere between freshman and sophomore year, students make a pact with the devil.  They come back to school thinking they are sneaky, sly, and smart (oh, look, alliteration!).  Funny thing is, they're none of these things.  So, not only do I have to deal with their romance drama, but now they know everything there is to know and they're not afraid to share it (at inappropriate and inconvenient times, too). Needless to say, I don't have a lot of fun with my sophomores because I'm too busy perfecting my death glare.

This past school year, I was lucky enough to have seniors.  And, by lucky I mean I didn't have to deal with a lot of the issues that come with underclassmen, but (believe me) they came with their own unique challenges.  The senior class I taught was Calculus.  So, here we have a small group of hard working, intelligent students, who are choosing to take a challenging class.  So far so good.  In addition to that, I had most of these students at one time or another so they were what I fondly refer to as "well-trained."  They knew what I expected, what I tolerated, and what I absolutely wouldn't put up with, so I didn't have to put them through 12 weeks of How to Behave in My Classroom and Don't Think for a Second that I Didn't Try that Shit, Too boot camp.  Alas, I digress.  Point is: I had a lot of fun with my seniors because I didn't have to break them down.

Part of the reason we were able to have fun in that class was because they knew if they got out of line, I could give them the most difficult test they had ever seen, thereby ruining their almost perfect grade point averages.  A little something I like to call leverage.  Plus, they're slightly more mature than the rest of my students (emphasis on slightly).   Warning: Everything I'm about to say is going to contradict my previous statement.

So, when we weren't finding the second derivative of trig functions, finding f-double-prime and setting it equal to 0 before solving for x, or integrating by parts (confused yet?  Me too!  This is why I have my principal do my evaluations in my Calc class.  He has no clue what I'm talking about!) we were having fun.  (I had the most fun because my gpa was not at stake!)  In an effort to amuse themselves, my students would do silly things like make up a dance routine when I was out in the hallway and then surprise me with it when I returned.  Or, someone would always hide under my desk before class started, and I would forget and be shocked.  (I had to finally tell them that they had to make sure I wasn't wearing a skirt on a desk-hiding day)  I even offered to let them do the Thriller dance for their final exam, provided they all learned the moves, but they declined.  (And, you're sitting there shaking your head thinking, "She gets paid for this?  She's teaching our children?"  Relax.  They learned a lot of stuff, and I gave really hard tests and quizzes to balance out all the fun.  Don't worry!)

In an effort to be funny and make everyone laugh, one of my students started this trend where he would wear various items of mine.  For instance, I would often find him sitting at his desk, wearing my coat.  If I wore a hoodie that day and left it on my chair, he would be wearing it when I came into class.  On more than one occasion, he would come out into the hallway wearing my coat, scarf, hat, mittens, and carrying my purse.  All in good fun.  Chuckle, chuckle, laugh, laugh.

Now, a lot of embarrassing things happen to teachers.  There are all sorts of words and phrases you just can't say because they could totally be taken out of context, so you really have to stay on top of your game.  Well, on this particular day, I was not on top of my game.  At all.

On this day, said male student came out into the hallway wearing my mittens and my fleece.  It was one of those days where funny things weren't so funny, and I was a little exasperated by him.  So, with a look of exhaustion, I looked him square in the face, and what did I say?

"Take my clothes off."

Lucky for me, there were many witnesses in the hallway.  It got very quiet.  Mouths hung down to the floor.  Everyone looked at me like, "Wait.  Did she really just say that?  Did she really just tell him to take her clothes off."  Yep.  Even though I meant "take off my fleece and my mittens and go study for your damn quiz," that's not at all what came out.  Oh, I spent the next few minutes (red-faced of course) trying to justify what I meant and how it just came out wrong, but it would take me months to live that one down.  Hey, at least they didn't put it in the yearbook, right?  Oh, wait . . .damn!

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Monday, July 18, 2011

You're Not the Boss of Me

My kid is smart.  I know all parents say that, and you're probably thinking, "Yeah, yeah.  Every kid is smart."  Well, that's true.  Most kids are pretty freaking smart, and mine is no exception.  I'm concerned that it won't be long before he's smarter than me and then develops a plot to single-handedly take over the world (or at least my house).  Why do I think this?  Well, it would appear that my precious little toddler is becoming really good at two things: 1. manipulation and 2. using my own words and actions against me.

Example #1:  Saying sweet things to get his way.
Ever since Gavin was born, he's been a snuggle bug.  He loves to sit on my lap, sit right next to me at the dinner table, and pretty much follow me everywhere I go.  (I'm really not joking about the everywhere I go thing, either.  It's like having a hungry puppy follow me, nipping at my heels.  I'm still fighting the battle to go to the bathroom alone.  I'm no longer interested in having an audience.  It has ceased to be cute and endearing.)  I love nothing more than being with my kid and getting those snuggles, but he always seems to want attention at the most inconvenient times.

For instance, I will be working on an assignment for the class I'm taking, typing away at my computer, and he decides at that moment that he wants to crawl up in my lap.  When I tell him that he can't, I get these kinds of responses:  But Momma, I love you.  I'm going to miss you if I can't sit on your lap.  I want you to hold me like a little baby, Momma.  And so, like the sucker I am, I give in and snuggle him.  Oh, he uses this trick all the time.  I'm constantly stopping whatever it is I'm doing to give him some love whenever he feels he needs it.

Or, he's been coloring on his toys lately - mostly his Toy Story action figures.  He's trying to mimic the way Andy writes his name on Buzz in the movie, I get that.  But, I've constantly told him that he needs to stop or I'm going to take his toys away.  He'll say to me:  But, Momma, I love writing on my toys.  It makes me so happy.  I don't like to be sad.  What the hell am I supposed to say to that?  (I usually say that he's making his toys sad by writing on them.)

I'm really concerned as to how he's going to use this with the ladies when he gets older.  Sigh.

Example #2: Using my actions against me.
Lately, we've been working on not spitting.  It seems Gavin has mastered this action and likes to test it out a lot.  I continually tell him not to spit, that it's "yucky" and not very nice.  His response:  But, Mommy, you spit when you go running or Mommy, you spit when you brush your teeth.  Both of these facts are true (gross, but true).  I feel like he's saying to me, "Hey, Momma, you're a giant hypocrite!"  No, I don't give in and let him spit whenever he wants, but it does make me stop and think.

Example #3: Using my words against me.
Me: Gavin, I've asked you to stop doing that.  You're making me angry.
Gavin:  You're making me angry, Momma.
Me: Why am I making you angry?
Gavin: Because you said, "You're making me angry."

Me: Gavin, I told you not to do that ("That" is usually hitting the dog, climbing on the counters, cutting up paper, dumping all his toys out into the middle of the room,or various other naughty things.)
Gavin: Well, I told you that I'm not doing it anymore, Momma.  (This is usually followed by a look of disgust.)

Gavin: Momma, it's a red light, you need to stop.  Stop, Momma.  Stop right now!
Me: Gavin, don't be bossy.
Gavin:  Well you boss me.
Me: It's my job.
Gavin:  It's not your job.  You're not the boss of me.

It seems that, no matter what I say, he turns it right around and uses my own words against me.

So, it looks like I'm going to have to find a way to get a whole lot smarter in a hurry!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Soccer Class: Third Time's a Charm???

This past Saturday was Gavin's third of six soccer classes.  We were coming off of a one-week-soccer-class-break due to the holiday weekend, and I'm not gonna lie, I needed the break.  If you read about the first soccer class, then you know it would have been silly (crazy? stupid? choose your adjective) for me to have high hopes about the second class.  Oh, but you should have figured out by now I'm hopelessly optimistic (some might call this "out of touch with reality," but whatever).  Needless to say, my hopes were sky high!  It was going to be GREAT!  The first class was a fluke.  He was tired, he just needed to get all the "first-day jitters" out of his system, his dad would be there to cheer him on this time, and on and on.  (I promise on I'm not on drugs, but I'm pretty sure I have some chemical imbalance that makes me believe things that are so contrary to reality)  Oh, foolish self, do you ever learn?

The second class was as painful as the first.  We all went out on the field ahead of time, ran around, kicked the ball in the goal, and it was fun . . . until class started.  Commence tears, whining, pitiful excuses about being tired, laying on the ground, clinging to legs, etc.  So, the decision was made that instead of letting him sit out on the field and cry, he would come sit in the bleachers and watch.  Well, watch we did.  For the entire class, we watched.  Of course, Gavin tried to be squirmy and get up from the bleachers, but we just put him right back on his whiny little butt and made him watch.  Unfortunately, this didn't bore him to tears enough that he wanted to go participate and have fun.  I gladly would have done something other than sit there.

To be honest, I was dreading class three.  While I still hoped he would relax, participate, and have a good time, I also envisioned sitting on the bench again for 45 minutes watching every kid but mine play.  It was one of those things where you'd rather poke yourself in the eye with a hot piece of metal, but you still go anyway.  (I liken it to sitting through a college graduation in a cramped auditorium with no air conditioning on the hottest day of the year.  You don't wanna, but you're gonna.)

We were early getting to class, so we stopped into Tim Horton's for some much needed caffeine.  (It takes a lot of caffeine to stay awake while you're pretending to enjoy watching other people's kids play soccer.)  I would, for a moment, like to applaud myself for my perpetual "getting there thirty minutes ahead of schedule" problem, because this allowed us to discuss our strategy.  Yup, we had a game plan.  Rather than going out onto the field with Gavin ahead of time, we were just going to stay on the bleachers.  This way, when class began, he wouldn't start crying when we left the field and he had to stay.  (Do you like how I'm making it sound like this was my idea or even a joint idea?  It wasn't.  I confess.  I had little to do with the plan-of-attack other than to nod my head in agreement and say, "Oh, that's a really good idea.  I didn't think of that.")

Upon arrival, we sent Gavin off onto the field by himself to "score goals" for us.  (I kind of convinced him to do this by using his Buzz Light action figure and pretending like Buzz was the one asking him.  Pretty sure I should start setting up his shrink appointments now.)  And, surprisingly, he did.  He ran around for a few minutes before class scoring goals for each of us (Buzz included) and then running over to give us each a high-five or a "pound it."  Once class started, he wanted to keep kicking goals.  He wasn't really interested in listening, following directions, or interacting with others, but he wasn't crying and he wasn't begging us to let him off of the field.  (I also confess there was bribery involved.  I'm not above bribes, and I have no problem admitting it.)  But I thought to myself, "I'll take it!  I'll take him just sitting there, on the field, staring at everyone else.  He's not crying or clinging to my leg, so I'll take it!"

Getting ready to shoot!

After a few minutes, the class took a water break (they take a lot of those), and the "coach" came over to say hello to Gavin.  She asked Gavin if he wanted to shoot some goals with the rest of the class, and he said he did.  He wanted to!  And you know what, he did!  He participated!  He listened (sort of)!  He followed directions (for the most part)!  And he had FUN!  Okay, so there was a lot of rolling around on the ground and weird interpretive dance moves, but he played along with the rest of the class and did a pretty darn good job!

Little girl helping him.  Aww.
I cannot begin to describe the sense of relief that I felt.  My whole goal from the start was just to get him involved in something where he could interact with other kids, have fun, and burn some of his infinite energy.  It was disheartening that he seemed to dread, even hate, soccer class.  But this time, he had a blast - which is all I wanted.  He ran and kicked (and rolled and frolicked and danced) his little butt off.  He played so hard that he was literally dripping with sweat by the time class was done.  (I had no idea little kids could sweat so much.  Disgusting and endearing all at the same time.  Weird)  I was able to sit back, relax, and just enjoying watching my kid have a really good time - and that alone totally made my day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Typical Conversation

Before we begin a thorough examination of a typical conversation that I have with Gavin, I would like to set the scene.  It is a hot and humid July afternoon, approximately two hours before dinner, and the temperature inside the house is a balmy 86 degrees.  Until it reaches 88 degrees, I refuse to turn the air conditioning on.  Why?  Self-inflicted suffering, perhaps.  Gavin has thoroughly destroyed the living room, scattering cars, blocks, and action figures so that they cover almost the entire surface of the carpet.  It is in this moment that I have the most brilliant idea.  I'm going to rearrange the furniture.  Yes, that's it!  I'll rearrange the living room!  

Imagine this times 10.

No big deal, right?  Just move a chair here, an end table here, and the couch over here.  Presto!  I'm doneOr, I could decide to move every piece of furniture (i.e. a love seat, a couch, a chair, the entertainment center, and two end tables), and while I'm at it, why don't I just move the TV over here so that I have to rerun the cable under the basement ceiling.  Perfect!

I'd like to thank Arnie for his help.  Don't know how I would've done it without him.

So, in my complete-living-room-over-haul-frenzy (which I assume was caused by the fact that I had so many other, more important things I needed to be doing but didn't feel like doing them), this is the conversation I have with Gavin:

Gavin:  Mommy, can I have a piece of gum?

Me:  (Carrying an end table into the hallway) No.

Gavin:  Why?

Me:  Because you'll just swallow it.

Gavin:  I won't swallow it.

Me:  Yes, you will.  You always do.

Gavin:  I won't swallow it, Momma.  Please, Momma?

Me:  (Shoving couch closer to the far wall)  No.

(Ten seconds elapse. and at this point I've moved every piece of furniture into the middle of the room so that there is barely anywhere to walk. Toys are still covering every inch of carpet.  I'm starting to get sweaty.)

Gavin:  Mommy, can I have a piece of gum?

Me:  No.  (I look to see that he has found a piece of gum, unwrapped it, and is holding it in his hand while licking it.)

Gavin:  Please, Mommy?

Me:  Okay.  You can have that piece of gum after you pick up all of your toys.

Gavin:  (Kicks a car)  Now can I have this gum?

Me:  (Moving the end table to its third location) Are all your toys picked up?

Gavin:  Yes.  Look!

Me:  No, you need to pick up every toy before you can have that gum.

Gavin:  (Picks up one car).  Now can I have this gum?

Me:  No.  All your toys are not picked up.  Keep picking them up.

Gavin:  (Spreads some toys around on the floor with his foot)  Now can I have this gum?

Me:  (Sitting on the entertainment center, wiping sweat off my forehead, thinking about how I hate the current arrangement) No.  You need to pick up all of your toys and then you can have the gum.

Gavin: (Places his bean bag chair on top of the toys that are on the floor).  Now can I have this gum?

Me:  No.  Your toys aren't picked up.

Gavin:  But I can't pick them up, they're under the bean bag.  (Clever, kid.)

Me:  (Moving the chair to the other side of the room)  Then move the bean bag and pick them up.

Gavin:  (Moves the bean bag and picks up two action figures)  Now can I have this gum?

Me:  No.  You need to pick up all of your toys.  Every single toy needs to be picked up before you can have that piece of gum.

Gavin:  Okay, Momma.

*Repeat previous conversation 33 times in the next 45 minutes while I continue to contemplate the current furniture arrangement, decide I hate it, and try five different ones before I finally settle on the first arrangement.  Once I have everything where I think I want it (for this month), Gavin places his last toy in the toy bin. 

Me:  Good job, Gavin.  Now you can have that piece of gum!

Gavin:  (Puts the gum in his mouth).

I begin putting all the DVDs and extraneous items in their place, dusting the furniture, and trying to figure out why the damn cable won't work (funny story).  Approximately 5 minutes elapse. Gavin comes over and sits on my lap.

Gavin:  I love my new living room, Mommy.

Me:  Do you like it?

Gavin:  Yes, I like it!  I like my new living room!

Me:  Good!  Wait, where's your gum?

Gavin:  I swallowed it.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reflections on 30

First, I apologize for the lack of humor in this post.  I like funny, but sometimes I need to get the serious out too.

For those of you that know me well, you know that my 30th year has been crazy, challenging, and life-changing.  I started out my 30th year with BIG plans.  Thirty was going to be amazing - it was going to be my most successful year.  I planned to advance my career, buy a new house, maybe expand my family, continue my education, and the list goes on.  Well, if 30 taught me nothing, it taught me that life never goes according to plan and there's not much you can do about it.

The good news is that I learned a lot more than that.  In fact, in my 30th year, I learned more about myself, life, and love than I have in the previous 29 years.  It was a year of personal growth like I never imagined, and it happened in ways that I never dreamed of.  Needless to say, none of my plans worked out, and my life is very, very different now than I ever thought it would be.  But, life rarely goes along with our plans.  Instead, life gives us what we need, and I am thankful for all of the things I have learned in the past year.

The most important thing I learned is that there are a lot of people who love me and will stick by me no matter what.  I am amazed at the people who stepped forward to hold my hand through some difficult times.  For that, I will be forever grateful.  I learned that self-confidence is a gift that you give yourself and that no one else can give you that gift.  I learned that it's really easy to lose track of who you are, where you're going, and what you want out of life, but life always has a way of bringing you back to the right path.  I'm so thankful to be back on the right path. 

In my 30th year, I discovered how strong and competent I am and that I can accomplish almost anything if I put my mind to it.  I found true happiness in pursuing things I am passionate about rather than pursuing the almighty dollar.  Within me, I found traits that must've been buried, because I never knew I had them.  I found incredible patience, forgiveness, and acceptance.  I discovered that I have a lot of love to give, and that it feels great to give that love without expecting anything in return.  I realized that relationships with anyone you love are easier and more enjoyable when you let go of all of the expectations and just enjoy being with the people you love because you love them.

I found an incredible source of joy in being kind, empathetic, and understanding.  I realized that the smallest things - holding my son's hand - bring me the greatest sense of happiness.  It's the little things that really make life worth living.  I've learned that my desire to live my life in the way I want greatly supersedes my fears and self-doubts.  I have tried and accomplished more things in the past year than I have in the past decade.  I felt what it was like to truly live without letting fear get in my way or rule my life.

I learned the value of listening, not just hearing.  I've learned that it's best if I don't say anything when I'm angry.  I've learned that, when it comes to friendships and relationships, you get what you give, so if you want something more, you'd better start giving more.  I've found that humor makes life more fulfilling and that I don't have to be so serious.  I've discovered that life hands you a lot of shit sometimes, and all you can do is learn from it, keep moving forward, and maybe even laugh at it.  Rather than being pissed or wallowing in self-pity when you don't get what you want, you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and find a new direction to head in. 

My 30th year showed me what I really want out of life and what's truly important.  Life is about the people you love, the time you spend with them, and the love you give them.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

I wish I could go back and tell all of this to my 20-year-old self, but I can't.  All I can do is really take to heart what this year has taught me, learn from it, and look towards a simpler, happier, more fulfilling future.  And that makes it all worth it.

Mommy Guilt

If you haven't already read this, please check out my post for TheModeLife.  This is the reason why I write.  I enjoy writing this blog because I like to find humor in every day life.  However, this post is serious, and if it helps just one person then my mission has been achieved.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First Cavity: Part I

A few weeks ago, Gavin had his first dental cleaning, and we discovered that, unfortunately, he already had a cavity - even though he's only three.  This was a little disheartening to me for a few reasons.  First, I've had my fair share of dental work done, and I hate it.  I absolutely dread going to the dentist.  Second, Gavin's going to have enough procedures in his life to deal with, and I was hoping that we would be able to tackle the dental work later on in life, but that clearly is not the case.  So, off to the dentist we went to get his first cavity filled.

I'll admit, I was nervous.  In fact, my hands were sweaty and I had a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about how this could potentially go.  Mind you, we weren't going to a pediatric dentist, just my regular dentist.  When I had asked the hygienist how they go about filling a cavity on a small child, she simply replied, "Oh, we numb it."  Yeah, of course you numb it, but what else?  You give him laughing gas right?  Or you completely knock him out?  Correct?  Nope.  Just a shot.  Nothing else.  Hmm, this doesn't seem right to me.  I can't imagine that this is going to go very well.  I mean, he's 3.... Should've listened to my gut.

Waiting for the dentist.

Surprisingly, Gavin did really well . . . for awhile.  He was a champ when the dentist put the numbing gel on his mouth.  He was GREAT when the dentist gave him the shot (which the dentist referred to as a "mosquito bite."  If I ever get a mosquito bite like that, I'm moving to Alaska.  Or, better yet, Antarctica.).  I didn't even have to hold his hand or sit next to him when they gave him the shot.  He was such a brave boy.  Then, well, things sort of went downhill from there, and they went downhill fast.  The dentist had to put a piece of foam in Gavin's mouth to hold it open wide enough so he could get in there and work.  Despite the fact that this made Gavin choke and gag, he did pretty well with it.

Not a big fan of sitting still.

Then came the drill.  The dentist explained to Gavin that this was going to "tickle his tooth."  At that point, I thought, "This guy has no clue.  I'm sure he's a great dentist, but you don't tell a three-year-old that a drill is going to tickle."  I'd say he drilled for, oh, maybe 10 seconds before all hell broke loose.  First, there was mild squirming and a small whine.  Then the legs starting flailing around.  I went and sat on the chair to help calm Gavin down, but it was too late.  The next thing I know, he's bawling.  Just crying.  Giant crocodile tears running down his cheeks.  Arms are flying through the air.  His little body is quivering.  I wanted to shove the dentist aside, pick up my little guy, and hold him, but I knew we had to get this done.

The dentist was trying to calm him down by saying things like, "I'm trying to help you by fixing your tooth, so I need you to help me by relaxing."  Seriously?  I want to punch you in the face right now.  The hygienist was trying to calm him by saying things like, "You're doing such a good job.  It's okay."  Well, that's a little better, but it's clearly not working considering the fact that he's trying to bite the dentist's fingers off right now.  So, I tried.  "Gavin, if you settle down and let him finish, I'll take you to the store and buy you a toy.  Any toy you want.  Mommy will take you to the store and you can pick out whatever toy you like."  That had to work, right?  He's been asking for a new toy all morning (I mean, he only got a new toy, like, two days ago.  He's clearly going through withdrawal.).  Nope.  Not buying it.  We are clearly done at this point.

Shaking out his hands from Gavin's death-like jaw grip, the dentist, too, realizes that this is a lost cause.  The filling is not done, but it's very clear that we are not getting any more work done.  We convince Gavin to lay back down so that the dentist can put a sealant on it (He told Gavin he was "painting" his tooth.  Sigh.), and luckily he finally cooperated.  Then the dentist looked at me and said, "I'm going to have to refer you guys to a pediatric dentist to finish this."  No shit.  Really?  "He did so well with his cleaning that I thought he'd do well with the filling, but I guess not."  He did a good job letting you brush and floss his teeth that you thought he'd be fine with you jabbing him with a needle and sticking a drill in his mouth? 

At this point, I feel kind of awful.  I have no doubt that this was somewhat traumatizing for Gavin, and the worst part is that we're not done.  We have to go to a different dentist - probably next week - and try again.  And, I have no doubt that experience will be working against us since he now knows what to expect.  All I can do is hope they knock him out.  Until then, I will help lessen my guilt by allowing him to watch Toy Story and eat all the pudding he wants (We are currently on cup #2).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Forgive Me, but I Like to Bake

I'm sure many of you read the title to this and starting breaking out in hives, gagging, or even rolled your eyes in disgust.  Whenever I tell people I enjoy baking, they look at me like I've suddenly contracted some incurable disease or have completely lost my mind.  Or, I'm lying through my teeth trying to impress them.  I've noticed that saying I like to bake is like saying I love cleaning toilets or I love cleaning up dog shit.  I mean, no one really likes to bake, do they?  But, I do!  Oddly enough, it's a stress reliever for me, and I've found that it's something I enjoy doing with my son.

Yep, you heard me right.  I let my three-year-old son bake with me.  And, he actually gets to help - not just lick the beaters (which, of course, he also gets to do).  If you didn't doubt my sanity before, I'm certain that you are now.  It wasn't always a fun experience, but I wanted him to be able to help me, so I've learned a few tricks along the way that have helped make baking with Gavin easier and a lot less stressful.

Making chocolate pie.

The first thing I learned is to always have extra ingredients on hand - usually enough to make TWO of whatever I'm making.  Why?  Well, I let Gavin do things like pour ingredients into the bowl, whisk ingredients together, even measure out items such as sugar and milk.  Of course, no matter how many times I tell him to be careful, watch what he's doing, and stir slowly, he always seems to forget one of these things.  I'll say, "Stir this nice and slow," and the next thing you know his arm is moving so fast that the bowl of ingredients goes flying off of the counter and onto the floor.  Oops.  Or, he'll get distracted and accidentally dump an entire cup of milk onto the floor rather than into the bowl.  Uh oh.  So, I've learned to be prepared for these situations and always have back-up ingredients.

Frozen Strawberry Pie

The second thing I've learned is that once we're done mixing, all bets are off.  The moment he gets to lick one of the beaters or lick the bowl, it's like he goes into a batter-eating trance.  He has no interest in helping me finish or even in the final product.  The batter is his ultimate goal, and I don't really blame him.  I mean, it is the best part - salmonella be damned!

Ice Cream!
Most importantly, I've learned to let go of a lot of control.  Gavin's three, and he's very opinionated about what he wants to do and what he thinks he can do.  For instance, he really thinks he can crack open eggs, and I'm not going to stop him from trying.  So, 11 eggs later, we finally have a cracked egg we can use.  Only three more to go . . .  So, while it would be a lot faster if I just did all of it myself while he watched some annoying cartoon, I'm willing to spend the extra time so we can bake together (and by extra time, I mean give or take an hour - minimum).