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Friday, October 28, 2011

I can drive 100 miles on an empty tank of gas. Honestly.

My car is the most inefficient energy-efficient vehicle on the market.  It's kinda awesome, and it kinda sucks.  Sometimes, I get 80 miles to the gallon, and other times I get 0.5 miles to the gallon.  And it all happens at pretty much the same time.

This is how it goes on a typical day:  I start my car, and I see that I have just about 1/2 a tank of gas.  I back out of the driveway, drive less than two blocks to the stop sign, and the whole time the needle on the gas gauge is plummeting towards E.  By the time I turn and start driving down the road, my low fuel light has come on.  So, I drove less than a mile, and I used roughly half a tank of gas.  Not efficient.

But here's the beauty:  I drive ten miles to the grocery store (low fuel light on the entire time), I go in, buy a few items, return to my car.  And guess what?  When I start it up, I have about 1/2 a tank of gas.  Yep, that's right.  My car made it's own gas while I was in the grocery store.  Super energy efficient.

Of course, it's only a matter of minutes, and a few miles down the road, before my low fuel light comes on again.  Man, this car sure does burn through gas.  But that's okay because it makes gas, too.  Fair trade, right?

When I get in the car . . .
Just yesterday, I got in my car, and I had exactly 3/4 of a tank of gas.  Two miles later, I was on E.  Good news?  I didn't have to stop and get gas.  You see, with my low fuel light on, I drove all the way to work and back (including dropping off and picking up Gavin at daycare).  My commute is roughly 100 miles round-trip.  All on an empty tank of gas.  So, yeah, I used 3/4 of a tank going two miles, but then I drove 100 on empty!  It's such a crazy combination of energy-efficiency and inefficiency that I can hardly stand it!

Five minutes later ...

But, really, I can't stand it.  I'm gonna have to get that fixed.

(By the way, GM has generously offered to pay for half of the cost to repair my fuel sensor in my gas tank.  How kind of them because, clearly, this manufacturer's defect is partly my fault.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No offense, but . . .

People are easily offended.  Usually, they’re offended by things that aren’t meant to be offensive in the least.  Try to be funny?  People get offended.  Try being honest (in the nicest possible way)?  People get offended.  Try giving your opinion?  People get offended.  Try giving a compliment?  People get offended. 
For instance, you might say, “Wow, that sweater looks really nice on her,” to a friend.  The friend’s response, “Are you saying mine doesn’t look nice?”  Um, no.  That’s not what I said at all.  But thanks for putting words in my mouth.  No matter how nicely or humorously you word things, people always get offended by the things that you say when you weren’t trying to be offensive at all.
But, you know what people aren’t offended by?  Things that are clearly meant to be offensive.  There are people I know who have absolutely no problem saying exactly what they think – no matter how rude or offensive – and others don’t seem bothered by this.  At all.  (Of course, I won’t mention any names.  Why?  Because those people who have no problem openly offending others - they’re easily offended.  Oh, sweet irony.)
Also, people aren’t offended by things that are offensive because, in our society, we’ve come up with a way to be politely offensive to people.  And you know what?  They don’t seem to mind.  When I taught high school, I had this conversation with my students many times.  I tried to explain to them that you can’t just preface something offensive with one simple phrase and expect people not to be offended.  But you know what?  We do it all the time.  All.   The.  Time. 
What little phrases am I talking about?  These are just a few . . .
No offense, but . . .
Not to be mean, but . . .
No disrespect, but . . .
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but . .
If I can be completely honest without offending you . . .
Not to be critical, but . .
Don’t be mad when I say this, but . . .
For instance, someone might say, “No offense, but I really don’t like your new hair color.”  You don’t?  But why not?  That wasn’t a very nice thing to say.  Oh, but you said, “no offense, “so I guess I can’t be offended.  Yeah, that makes it completely fine with me.
Or, they might say, “Not to be mean, but that outfit does not look good on you at all.”  Well that wasn’t very nice.  Oh, but you weren’t being mean, so I’m totally not hurt by that.  Thanks for the feedback.
One of my favorites is when people say something like, “No disrespect, but you’re kind of a bitch.”  Oh, see, now what a respectful thing to say.  Thank you.  I’m totally not offended.
Unfortunately, no matter how many times I told my students they couldn’t start a sentence with, “no offense, but” and then just say whatever they wanted, they still did it.  I say we start a revolution.  How about we get offended when people are clearly trying to offend us, and we chill out a little when people are clearly NOT trying to offend us?  Crazy, I know.
*If you’re offended by this, it’s because I wasn’t trying to offend you.  And if you aren't offended by it, I was trying to offend you.  And if you're offended by my non-offensiveness disguised as offensiveness, then you probably should just not read anything I write because you clearly don't get it.   Oh wait, did I offend you?  Damn.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yeah, I'm not feeling sorry for you . . . not even a little.

Some days, there's a lot of whining and crying in our house.  I'm talking like every five to seven minutes.  These are usually the days when Gavin is cranky or tired or hungry or any combination of those things.  Normally, I'd feel bad for him.  It must be rough being three and not knowing how to effectively handle your tiredness, your hunger, or your crankiness.  But, the truth is, I don't feel bad.  Why?  Because I'm a cold-hearted person?  Well, maybe a little, but also because most of the dramatic events that lead to the crying are caused by none other than Gavin himself.

Scenario:  Gavin comes to me in hysterics.  Tears streaming down his face.  "Mommy, Charlie scratched me."  Why did Charlie scratched you?  "I don't know.  He just did.  And I didn't like it.  It hurts, Mommy."

Now, normally, I'd say "Bad dog, Charlie," give Gavin a kiss and send him on his way.  But, sometimes I know to dig a little deeper for the real story.

What were you doing when Charlie scratched you?  "He was digging a hole outside."  So, he was digging a hole outside and you were telling him to stop?  "Uh huh."  (I survey his person.)  Why do you have dirt on your hands?  "I don't know."  Were you digging, too?  "I don't know."  Wait.  Why do you have dirt on your feet?  Were you digging in the dirt with your feet?  (Now, he's laughing.)  "Yeah."  Okay, so you were digging a hole with Charlie, and he scratched you, and now you want me to feel bad for you?  Ain't gonna happen kid.  Go wash your hands and feet.

Scenario:  Gavin has been playing in a box all day (leftover from some probably unnecessary purchase).  Commence screaming and crying.  "Momma!  Charlie is chewing on my box!  Stop it Charlie; stop it!  Momma, make Charlie stop.  I don't want him chewing on my box."  I enter the living room to reprimand the dog, and I find that the dog is inside the box.

Why is Charlie in the box?  "I don't know."  How did Charlie get in the box?  "I don't know."  Did you put Charlie in the box?  "Yes."  Why did you put Charlie in the box?  "I don't know."  Okay, honey, you can't put the dog in the box and then get mad because he's trying to chew his way out.  If you don't want him to chew on the box then don't put him in it.  Seriously.

Scenario:  Loud crash.  Screaming.  Hysteria.  I run into the kitchen to find Gavin laying partway under the kitchen table.  What happened?  "Owie, Momma!"  What's wrong?  What happened?  "I fell."  How did you fall?  "I don't know."  What were you doing when you fell?  "I don't know."

The bench that goes with the table is tipped over, laying on it's side.  What happened to the bench?  "I don't know."  Well, how did you get on the floor, and how did the bench get tipped over?  "Because I was jumping."  You were jumping?  "Yeah."  Where were you jumping?  "On that."  (Points to the bench.)  Oh, so you were jumping on the bench, like you know you're not supposed to, and it tipped over and you fell?  "Uh huh."  Yeah, you're not getting any sympathy from me, kid.

So, we have a new rule in the house: You don't get to cry if you were being a goon, and you got hurt.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who's YOUR Daddy?

Over the past few months, I've been trying to explain family relationships to Gavin.  We've been talking about who his cousins are, who is grandparents are, who his aunts and uncles are, and so on.  He knows that Ashtyn, Hayden, Havyn, Braylen, and Keegan are his cousins, and he knows that some of them are brothers and some of them are sisters.  But, he gets a little confused sometimes.  For instance, when talking about Ashtyn or Hayden, he'll say, "Where's my sister?"  Well, they're not your sisters.  They are sisters, but they're not your sisters.  They're your cousins.  "Oh."

I also explained to him that Grandpa Ronnie is my dad and Grandma Paulie is my mom.  "Oh."  Except, he really seemed to latch onto this idea.  Shortly after I explained this concept to him, he started saying things like:

1.  (when getting ready to buckle him into his carseat) "No, Momma, I want your dad to buckle me."  You want my dad?  You mean Grandpa Ronnie?

2.  (when driving to my parents house) "Is your dad going to be there?"  Well, he does live there.

3.  I'll say something like, "Hey, Dad, can you hand me that?"  Gavin will immediately follow this by saying something like, "Yeah, Dad, can you hand me that?"  He's not  your dad; he's your grandpa.  That's why you call him Grandpa Ronnie.

Well, this past weekend we were all at my sister's house celebrating my dad's birthday.  All of the kids were very excited to sing "Happy Birthday" to their grandpa, but they had to wait until after we ate and presents were open.  As we're waiting to begin the cake-eating and sing-along, I hear Gavin, on the other side of the room, singing "Happy Birthday."  It went like this:

Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday, Momma's Dad.  Happy Birthday to you.

I just about died laughing.  And, as if he couldn't get any cuter (secretly I think he had been storing away this cuteness, waiting to bring it out at just the right time - right when I was ready to put him in a perma-timeout for his incessant naughtiness), he climbs in bed with my the following morning, gives me a kiss, and says, "Happy Birthday to your dad, Momma."

That may or may not buy him another week of life.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I See You Wore Your Sassy Pants Today

I've got a problem on my hands.  A serious one.  My 3 1/2 year old is full of sassiness.  You know - talking back, arguing, defying, negotiating - all that fun stuff.  I wasn't expecting this for a few more years, but he's already a pro at being a pre-teen in toddler clothing. 

It's not just him telling me, "I don't want to."  That would be a simple matter.  Gavin, pick up your toys.  "I don't want to."  ToughDo it or go in time out.   Problem solved.   No, it's more than that.  A lot more.  And, I'm not really sure what to do about it.

You see, one thing he's really good at is using my own words against me.  For example:

Me:  Gavin, get off of the table.  (For some reason he thinks it's completely appropriate to stand and sit on the table at all times.  Even in a restaurant.  I'm pretty sure he learned it from the dog.)

Gavin:  I will, Momma.

Me:  No.  Get off of the table NOW.

Gavin:  Be patient.

Huh?  Be patient?  No.  I told you to get off the table, and I mean RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.  Yes, I tell you to be patient all the time, but you don't get to tell me to be patient.  Children need to learn important skills such as patience so they can completely abandon them when they become adults.  So, get your ass off of the table or you're going to spend some time in timeout.

Example Number Two:

Me:  Gavin, stop pushing buttons on the computer.

Gavin: (cautiously reaches one finger towards the keyboard and slowly pushes down the A button).

Me:  Gavin, I asked you to stop pushing buttons.  Do it again, and you're going in time out.

Gavin:  But, I don't want to go in time out.

Me:  Then stop pushing buttons.

(fast-forward three hours)

Gavin: Momma, let's read Baby Bear again.

Me: (exhausted from reading it six times already) I don't want to read it again.  (I set the book on the table)

Gavin: Don't put the book on the table, Mommy!

 Me:  (ignoring him, I walk away)

Gavin:  I said don't put the book on the table.  (Grabs the book off of the table, marches over to me, and shoves it in my hand.)  You do it again, and you go in time out.

Funny story about that, kid. We're not equals, even though that's clearly the idea you've formed at this point.  You don't get to decide time outs, I do.  Wait.  On the other hand, please put me in time out.  In my room.  On my bed.  With a book.  That would be awful.

Gavin is not really a morning person - unless it's the weekend.  I have to work really hard to wake him up during the week - and he's often not very friendly.  (No idea where he gets that from.)  Of course, on the weekends, he wakes up bright and early, chipper and fully of energy . . . but that's another story.  The other morning, as I was fighting to wake him out of a deep slumber, I asked him what he wanted for breakfast.  Me:  "Hey Gavin.  You've got to get up.  What do you want for breakfast?  Cereal or toast?"  He opens one eye, glares at me, and says, "Will you just leave me alone?"  Huh?  And I was trying to be nice.

Lately, our on-going dialogue goes a lot like this:

Me:  Gavin stop doing that (this could be anything from drinking his chocolate milk like a dog, hitting the dog with a sword, or putting his feet in his applesauce).

Gavin:  I don't want to.

Me:  Then you can go in time out.

Gavin:  I don't want to go in time out.

Me:  Then stop doing that.

Gavin:  I don't want to stop.

Me:  Then go in time out.

Gavin:  But I don't want to go in timeout.

(Repeat previous conversation 60 times)

Me:  Gavin, stop doing that and stop talking back or you're going in time out.

Gavin:  (very quietly)  I don't want to.

So, at this point, I'm pretty much thinking I might sell him on eBay.  I'll start the bidding at $1.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Remember when I thought getting a puppy was a good idea?

It's okay.  You can say it.  Go on.  I know you want to.  Just say, "I told you so," so we can move on.  There.  Feels good doesn't it?

I thought getting a puppy was a great idea.  You didn't.  You were right; I was wrong.  I mean, I had all sorts of justifications and reasons supporting my decision, but turns out, I should've thought a little harder about it.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying I don't like the dog or that I want to get rid of him.  Nope.  I'm not saying that at all.  I'm just saying that I've made wiser decisions in my life.

My original justifications for getting a dog included the rock-solid reason of "Puppies are Cute."  Rock.  Freaking.  Solid.  And you know what?  Charlie is cute.  He's super cute . . . when he's not chewing up magazines, stealing socks and hiding them under the bed, climbing up on the kitchen table to eat Gavin's dinner while I stole off to the bathroom for five seconds, sneaking off to the basement with a shoe so he can nibble on it without getting caught, and so on.

I mean, I'll be honest.  He's a pretty good dog . . . when he's sleeping.  And he sleeps pretty well . . . when I take him on a long walk or a two-mile run and tire his ass out.  Just to clarify, though, when I say "walk" I mean he pulls on his leash so hard that he almost passes out from choking himself.  And me, I'm trying to pretend that I have some control of the situation - which I clearly don't.

Gavin loves to play with him . . . most of time.  Except when Gavin's tired and Charlie tries to lick the skin off of his face or body slam him to the ground.  And, Gavin's not really a fan when Charlie drops whatever dog toy he's chewing on in favor of one of Gavin's toys.  It goes something like this:  Gavin screams, "Mommy!  Help me!  Charlie has my toy!" while Charlie runs around the house, evading both Gavin and I at every turn.  And looking so freaking proud of himself.  Look at me.  I have a toy in my mouth.  Look at what I got. 

He is a sweet guy though.  He loves to snuggle and be around people - just like a typical lab.  He did learn how to jump up on my bed, though.  This means that I often wake up to find him laying across my neck.  Practically suffocating me.  Or he lays on me head.  Such a sweetheart.

So, it boils down to this.  I like the dog; he's sweet.  And he'll hopefully probably be a great dog once he reaches maturity.  In like a year-and-a-half.  Until then, I'll deal with the naughty puppiness, and you just gloat about being right.  Deal?