Tag Archives: parenting

My Things in Song: Thing One

Ah, irony.  Once I had published Thing Two’s post, I realized that I would now have to think up a song for Thing One.  Oh oh.  I should have thought that song thing out better.  What if I couldn’t think of one for Thing One?  What if I was too lazy to think up one for Thing One, kind of like how I was too messed up with a four-year-old and a baby to make a proper baby book for Thing Two like the massive scrapbook I did for her sister, a fact she has never let me forget.  (No matter, she has started filling in her own baby book with magic marker.  If something needs doing, Thing Two does it).

Hey, how come MY books ends with

Hey, how come MY book ends with “She was born on June 10th?”

But I digress.  This is about Thing One, the first, the guinea pig, the one  you supposedly get all this parenting experience with so the second one is easier. Hahahahaha.  Yeah, you might as well adopt a daisy and then a rottweiler and expect the two to involve the same care.  This is not to say I think my eldest is a plant and my youngest is a guard dog.  It’s just a comparison.  I can say when a baby and toddler my eldest stayed still like a daisy.  She liked it in her little secure pot of dirt.  And she was super quiet and cute, like a daisy.  In fact, she didn’t really talk for three years, relying on the occasional scream or look of annoyance to get you to do her bidding.  Everything good will eventually come to you, that was Thing One’s child model.  There is no reason to go grab a gallon of milk and haul it across the room at two (hello Thing Two), magical mother or some big human will do that for you.  Just wait.  Also, diapers are awesome.  Heck with that potty.

Does mom really think that's going to work?  Pffffft.

Does mom really think that’s going to work? Pffffft.

Now that I’ve surely embarrassed the poor – good gravy – 15-year-old – I will say that Thing One has changed.  For one thing, no more diapers!  Though she has entered puberty, which, she claims, is kinda like going back there, what with having to wear certain things for that one time of the month we will not discuss.  Nor will be discuss anything else about puberty, because if you don’t think about it, chances are it might just go away.  There is always hope.

As it turns out, the teen years are not like the shows on Disney.  Thank goodness.

As it turns out, the teen years are not like the shows on Disney. Thank goodness.

But while she doesn’t like a lot of the physical changes that come with growing up, she is definitely growing up.  That mind of hers, much like her sister’s, was always working.  It’s just that we don’t always hear it all at once.  She spends a lot of time in her own little world thinking.  Maybe a little too much time thinking, as she’s told me it’s hard to shut off and go to sleep.  Sorry kid, you came by it honestly.  Yet she continues to amaze me with her insight, her empathy, and her sense of self.  Both girls have more of that than I do now.  She knows what she believes, and she goes through with it.  When another kid was being picked on by a friend, she protested it.  That took a lot of guts.  She also told other kids in her class (we’re in Bible Belt Texas) that she’s a Democrat.  That took guts too, and possibly a bit of masochism.

I did not dress her in political baby clothes.  I swear.

I did not dress her in political baby clothes. I swear.

Both kids are into politics, and have been since they were very young.  Part of this is because many parents around here have decided it’d be awesome to talk about the President of the United States in not-so-nice-and-respectful terms.  Even though they surely didn’t know what Republican or Democrat really meant when little, they knew what MEAN meant, and they didn’t like it.  Thing One asked me if what they said about Obama was true.  So we looked some things up.  And she bought a children’s biography of the President.  And she not only read it, she schooled her classmates on it.


See Thing One fact check.

See Thing One fact check.

Alas, it does little good.  But it doesn’t stop her from trying, or from being herself.  Like Thing Two, she dresses the way she wants, and she wears her hair the way she wants (even when Mommy desperately wants to pull it back in a pretty clip).  She isn’t a social butterfly like her sister, but she’s no recluse either.  She can fit in when she wants to – it’s just that she often doesn’t really care about social graces.  What she does care about is social justice.  She wants peace, though she finds it a bit much that everyone in Star Trek really gets along so awesomely (I do too).  She cares about the poor and disadvantaged, she believes in equality, in kindness, and while she is strong in her Christian faith, she does not just take it in blindly.  She reads, she thinks, she discusses.  And she applies, such as when her father said there was nothing wrong with being uber-rich.

“It’s easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into Heaven,” she told him while I secretly made a “YES” fist pump in the background.

Ooooh snap!

Ooooh snap!

And so this is why the song I chose for Thing One is “Rhythm Nation”, a Janet Jackson song that happens to also be one of her favorites.  It’s a good choice, because who can forget that awesome music video with Janet getting down in that military-like dance?  It’s still fun to watch today.  And it’s wonderful to watch my Thing One grow up.

“With music by our side
To break the color lines
Let’s work together
To improve our way of life
Join voices in protest
To social injustice
A generation full of courage
Come forth with me”

I love you, Thing One.


Frozen Lego Castle Review or Maybe I Should Stick to Duplo

I saw a cute little lego castle – and it was Frozen, so I thought GREAT. I bought it before the scalpers could jump the price up to even higher than legos are normally priced.  I figured, hey, the girls and I love Frozen and building the thing together should be tons of fun!

I am very dumb sometimes!

See, what I didn’t realize was that the castle would be so small.  By small I mean like slightly over microscopic.  This is not to say there is no detail, oh no.  There is a LOT of detail.  Like 5 thousand pieces worth or so.  The box claims there are only 292 pieces, but I think they’re lying.  I personally would have given up on the first level (yeah there are three) but luckily I had Thing Two with me, the Master Builder.

Objects may be tinier than they appear

Objects may be tinier than they appear

You might notice on the box that it says this set is for ages 6-12.  WTF.  I happen to be much older than 12, and I was about to lose it.  I can only imagine a six year old putting this thing together, unless said six year old is incredibly brilliant and dexterous and comes from Oz which is probably also a set made by Lego in 5 billion pieces.  My Thing Two is ten, and yes happens to be brilliant, so brilliant she made her own youtube channel right under my nose on the computer in the living room after I told her not to do it and also made her own videos which I don’t even know how to do.  I didn’t discover this until 2 months later.  That’s how to be a “with-it” parent, you guys.

In this instance, her devious tenacity came in very handy.  After only 6 or 70 hours or so, we had the entire thing together.  By “we”, I mean “she”, although she did allow me to put some pieces in, as she said “So you can feel involved, Mommy.”  Here is a picture of our fabulous work.

It's the size of my freaking hand - my real hand.  That is not a stunt hand.

It’s the size of my freaking hand – my real hand. That is not a stunt hand.

It really is a very neat set.  It comes with three figures – Anna, Elsa, and Olaf.  Olaf gets his own picnic set like in the movie, which was great cause I could just shove him over to the side that way.  There’s also a sled which Anna and Elsa can ride, as well as ice skates, and skis, and a tiny hill they can slide down or hide cookies inside, if they choose.  I don’t know why they’d choose this, but whatever.

You’ll notice the side of the castle has some cool stairs.  Those were neat.  There’s also a tree.  Don’t ask Thing Two about the tree.  It about drove even her over the edge since the instructions told us in intimate detail how to put together the three parts of Elsa but not any steps on making the dumb tree.

Inside on the first floor is an ice cream and popsickle machine.  I don’t recall this being in the movie, but then again, Elsa had no furniture that I could tell in the movie.  I guess she was too busy running around doing dramatic Broadway numbers to care.  Anyway, it’s cute.

The whole set.  Note the giant hill Ana can slide down - ooooh.

The whole set. Note the giant hill Ana can slide down – ooooh.

Upstairs you’ve got Elsa’s balcony so she can belt out her “Let it Go” tune for the 564,493,206 time.  Also she has a bed and a book to read – it looks like it’s the Snow Queen.  I bet she didn’t like the reading there.  There’s probably a reason they named the villain after the original author.

On the top story there’s mostly just a seat and a torch.  Not sure how the torch doesn’t burn down the castle, but I guess it’s her magical powers and all that.  Anna has a torch to hold as well, in case she gets mad at Elsa and decides to test those magical powers.  Elsa was supposed to have a frozen scepter, though that got left out of the set.  Fortunately we have an extra arm for Olaf, more giant cookies, and other extras we didn’t need to make up for it.

Kristoff, Sven (he’s the reindeer), and my favorite sociopath, Prince Hans, are not in this set.  I hope they make another set soon so I can add them to my collection after Thing Two builds it for me.  Right now, the three have to play with Vadar whose head fell off and a Ninjago figure.  She does have some handcuffs, though, which will come in handy when we get a Hans figure.

Hope you enjoyed this review and be warned.  Legos are cool, but evil.


Parenting Then and Now

You know, it’s hard to keep up with all your personalities.  I’m just so many people at once!  Mom, wife, daughter, librarian, Alice here, Mary Alice on the Wonder Twins (she’s returned, check it out), Squirrel on facebook, and at least a quarter of the time, I’m a depressed pony.  Oh, and I almost forgot my subconscious and my inner goddess.  Whew.

But my most important role is blogger.  I mean, wait, mother.  My most important role is being the mommy of my Things.  In case you haven’t been reading long, I call my children Things.  Because

You betcha.

You betcha.

A little while back I wrote about how not to be a crappy parent, and it was pointed out to me that parents often get a bad rap and we should support each other.  Good point.  I mean, we all have our own styles, right?  But my, times have changed just a bit, haven’t they?

For instance, now they say it is best to breastfeed.  But back in the 1950s, they had other ideas of what constituted good baby food.  For instance

Nothing like a little carbonated formula.

Nothing like a little carbonated formula.

Of course, now we have real formula and I don’t think anyone actually feeds their babies soda in their bottles.  I’m just going to keep thinking that because it makes me happy.

Anyhoo, there were also different opinions on TV.  Now we say it will rot our children’s brains.  Not true – it rots the brains of parents, as I clearly show in my reviews of children’s television.  (I’m planning to do more of these, so if you’ve got a show that makes you want to poke your own eyes out, let me know.  If I haven’t reviewed it, I will.)  But back in the 1950s, TV not only wasn’t bad, it was good!  And I’m sure the ad coming from a company producing television wouldn’t lie!

You just can't get too much of that educational Howdy Doody.

You just can’t get too much of that educational Howdy Doody.

So I guess what I’m saying is, if you feel like a lousy parent, all you have to do is look a few years back.  There are much worse things, and you can find many of these on The Wonder Twins (yes another LINK DROP!), my retro blog with Merbear, who also shows some funny stuff on her blog as well.  One example – clothes called “Chubbies” for plump little girls whose self esteem apparently wasn’t already low enough.

At least we know that now we are doing the best for our kids.  It’s not like parenting trends come and go, and come back again or anything.

poster from the 1930s

Poster from the 1930s.  Good to know we’ve been judging moms for decades!

So in the 1930s, they’re saying breastfeed.  In the 1950s, you can feed ’em 7-up and carnation milk.  Later, we have actual regulated formula.  I was fed formula, and so were a lot of my peers who are now afraid to feed their kids formula, because they might have damaged brains.  Like, um, they do?  It’s confusing.  As you can see, views have flipped flopped over the years, and flopped again.  Sort of like sleeping positions for babies

I actually had one of these with Thing One.  It didn't work.

They must sleep on their side!  I actually had one of these with Thing One. It didn’t work.

No, wait, keep the kid on her back.  Our bad.

No, wait, keep the kid on her back. Our bad.  Be sure to squeeze her in really tight like a vice.

HEY, baby, you're doing it wrong.

HEY, baby, you’re doing it wrong.

My mother was told to lay me on my stomach.  When Thing One was born, they told me to lay her on her side.  When Thing Two came around, she was supposed to lie on her back.  But Thing One rolled onto her back.  And Thing Two startled every five seconds on her back, and rolled to her tummy.  They are both still alive.  I’m sure in a few years, we’ll be back to the tummy sleeping.  Or perhaps we’ll be suspending them in midair.  Who knows.

I’m just glad my days of being a new mommy are over!  I wish luck to my readers with little bitties.  Just remember – you’re doing it wrong.  But so did everybody else.

How NOT to be an annoying parent

Ah, good, you’re thinking.  Now Alice is going to tell us how to parent, just like she told us what to name our children. In my defense, I wouldn’t have to tell people what to name their children if they didn’t decide to name them stupid stuff like North West.  And I wouldn’t have to gripe about parenting, if there weren’t also annoying parents.

You can find annoying parents everywhere.  STFU parents is a blog devoted purely to parental overshare on Facebook – and on that venue alone she’s gotten years worth of hilarious and / or painful Facebook posts.  I am not surprised.  Now I’m going to shock you here, but I am not Betty Crocker Reed.  I rarely cook and rarely clean that well because I decided to take that class where you raise the egg babies over homemaking.  My egg baby, though, was the best egg in the class.

My awesome parenting skills were obvious from an early age.

My awesome parenting skills were obvious from an early age.

But on to the annoying parents.  Try not to be one of these, at least not too much.

1. Psychopathic Political Parents

It’s one thing to let your kids know your political views.  It’s another to tell them you’re going to lose your job because someone got elected.  For one thing, unless you’re working in the President’s cabinet of the opposite party, you’re not going to lose your job because of an election, at least not in the immediate future.  And second, and most important, wtf with worrying your child about your job status?  It’s not healthy.  If you do not like President Obama, fine, but at least stick to actual facts when you gripe.  No, he was not born in Kenya.  No, he is not a terrorist.  Even my 13-year-old knew enough to fact check on that stuff a few years ago, and guess what?  She figured out it was mostly B.S.

Obama is hiding under your beds, kids.

Obama is hiding under your beds, kids.

But the very worst of these are the parents who talk gleefully about wanting to harm the President of the United States in front of their young children.  I think there’s just something wrong with this.  I’m not sure if it’s merely the parents constantly shrieking about Obama this or that, or if they simply plop the kids in front of Fox News for babysitting, but it really is unreal what kids pick up.  I know because my daughters tell me, and just so you know rabid conservative parents in my area, you’ve about created two more lib’rals simply because you are acting like freaked out maniacs. Your children absorb this and spew your hatred.  It’s not pretty, especially from nine-year-olds.  Although this little reported exchange had me rolling:

Kid: I want to punch Obama in the face!

Thing Two: Hello?  FBI Calling.

I love my kids.

2. Parents who buy expensive personal electronics for young children.

Thing One told me a friend got an Iphone 5 for Christmas.  That’s right.  A 500 dollar freaking phone, and that’s before you add in the service, for a kid whose brain has not completely developed.  But at least that kid is 13.  When Thing Two was in second grade, most of her classmates already had phones.  And they were all better than mine.  I wish I was kidding.  Seriously, parents.  What kind of social life does your seven-year-old have that she must have a phone at all times?  Or an I-Pad.  We’re talking hundreds of dollars here, and you’re trusting it to a kid who picks his nose and thinks the word “underwear” is hilarious.

I got my kids dolls and I wouldn’t trade a second of listening to them make up bizarre stories with them.  Most of these stories are somewhat violent, as some doll is always losing a limb, but they certainly have fun.  For the price of the dolls, I could have bought a much-cheaper-than-an-Iphone phone or a tablet. But I figure they have the rest of their lives to stare at computer screens.  Making Barbies advertise Ken as “boyfriend in a box” is priceless.

Some of the Things' dolls after an apparent all-night bender.

Some of the Things’ dolls after an apparent all-night bender.

3. Parents who brag about how much OR how little they give their kids.

Are our kids spoiled?  Yes, indeedy.  I just said that while I think spending ludicrous amounts of money on what I consider adult “toys” is crazy, I do give my kids lots of dolls.  I like dolls and I’m much more socially acceptable when I buy them for my kids.  But there are some people who go on about how much they give their kids and it’s a bit nauseating.  If kids get computers, phones, game systems, the fad shoes, and on and on now, they are going to be really disappointed when they’re on their own and can’t afford crap.

On the other hand, it’s also annoying to hear parents say “WE didn’t give junior those awful plastic toys made in China.  Junior got a block of wood marked three prices that stimulates imaginary play, plus it’s totally organic!”  Or the equally smug, “We donated to a charity in their name!”  I’m sure the kid was thrilled with this.  Don’t get me wrong, I think charity is important, but seriously no gifts at all?  That’s crap.  I wouldn’t put up with that.  How about giving something to charity, giving some gifts your kid actually wants even if it is a dreaded plastic, and a trying out a little something called moderation?

The possibilities of this toy are endless!

The possibilities of this toy are endless!

I’ve got more, but I’ve already given you what in my mind are some of the most annoying parenting types.  Do you have any to add?  Also, can I borrow your kid’s phone?

My Nervous Breakdown

Thing One has had a hacking cough that’s been going on for the last six years, er weeks and has not abated.  It goes like this HACK HACK HAAAAAACK HACKHACKHACK HAAAAAAAACK.  As delightful and not at all grating on the nerves as it is to hear, I can only imagine how fun it is to actually have the cough that annoys teachers and students both but which you have absolutely no control over because CONGRATS you won the genetic lottery and got Mommy’s allergies.  In two more weeks we’ll get a test telling us what we already know, ie that she has allergies, and she will probably still have the cough.  This morning she had the cough.  She took a breathing treatment.  She still hacked her way to school.

Thing Two has snaggle teeth.  Her grandfather is very obsessed with her snaggle teeth to the point of telling me I need to get her an orthodontist roughly every five freaking minutes.  Yes, I know.  What I don’t know is how I’m going to pay for it.  He’s afraid people will make fun of her teeth.  One kid noted that her tooth was crooked.  Thing Two said, “You just now noticed that?”  She has said appointment this afternoon and her grandfather is taking her and as far as I’m concerned, if he wants to chip in for that orthodontist to torture my kid for a few years, I am more than willing to LET HIM.  This morning’s daily Thing Two emergency was a missing hat and it is Red Ribbon Anti-drug Week and as we were walking out the door SHE NEEDED A HAT DID I NOT UNDERSTAND THIS?

The same grandfather called me just this morning to inform me that Thing Two was in trouble with her teacher for me not going to her parent /teacher conference which you know she told me about THE MORNING OF THE CONFERENCE.  So I didn’t go, because this was one of those stupid conferences they have just because not because your kid actually did something bad (which is kind of miraculous considering) but honestly, I have this little thing called WORK and with everyone being SICK it’s hard to have time off to go to something that is POINTLESS.  But I was polite about it in the note in which I instructed the teacher to go hit up the kid’s father.

Thing One was making noise getting ice out of the freezer this morning and I finally was like WHAT ARE YOU DOING and she said oh someone left the door to the freezer open so the stuff in the freezer had melted so she was getting ice to keep her lunch cold.  The stuff in the freezer had all melted.  Hundreds of dollars of food . . . it was still cold.  Wonder if I can risk food poisoning and just refreeze it.  People refry beans, right?

You know it’s going to be a good day when all three females in the house are crying before 8 AM.  I’m trying to pencil in a good time for my nervous breakdown, but I can’t seem to find an opening.  I’ll get back to you.

The Noxzema Incident

I know several bloggers with small children.  Mostly I think oh thank GAWD that’s not me.  But if there’s one thing I occasionally envy, it  is their ability to chronicle all the goofy stuff their children do so they don’t forget.  I know my kids have done hundreds of things I don’t remember that were absolutely hilarious at the time.  But there are some incidents that stick out in my mind.

One we just call the Noxzema Incident.  A friend, I’ll call her L, and I were hanging out at her house one day.  Our usual activity was to sit in front of the TV with Thing Two, who was about two years old at the time, while her youngest (4) and my Thing one (6) ran off to play.  As long as we didn’t hear blood-curdling screams, we figured they were okay.  Since we had young children, and she had few stations, we OD’d daily on PBS.  She’s the one who came up with the idea for “Reefer Tree” which made much more sense than the nauseating “Big, Big World”.  Haven’t heard of that show?  Oh oh, LINK DROP!

Anyway, we were, as usual, sitting on the couch amongst piles of laundry (we looked at it sternly every once in a while, but rarely moved it), and Thing Two was on the floor putting marbles in her mouth, when I noticed an unusual smell. (Click to enlarge pictures I actually didn’t steal off Google Images!)

noxema 1Then we noticed, hey, the kids have been awfully quiet.  This is often a much worse sign than hearing actual screams.  So we got up and walked to the hallway.  The smell grew stronger.  Yup, definitely that delightful chemical smell of Noxzema.  WTF.  We kept walking toward her daughter’s room.  The smell got even stronger.  Then we heard her daughter, E, shout a warning to Thing One.

Uh oh.

Uh oh.

We reached the door and opened it.  There, attempting to hide in the toy box, were Thing One and E.  E was in her underwear, covered from head to toe in Noxzema.  There was also Noxzema on the floor, the furniture, and her older sister’s favorite dress.  Only Thing One had no Noxzema on her but only because she didn’t like to get messy at that age (This changed with therapy.  Why did we give her therapy again?)  I guess because of her cleanliness, she thought she could get away with it.

No honor among thieves.

No honor among thieves.

I informed her that she was in just as much trouble as her friend, even if she was only the getaway driver.  It’s not as if she attempted at any point to stop her little buddy.  The only problem was that while we were telling them they were in SUCH TROUBLE we were having to not laugh.  But our voices were wavering “You are in trouble, clean up this mess . . . no really, trouble, so . . . we’ll be back . . . to tell you . . . your punishment.”

Then we went back to the living room and laughed our heads off.

View from a Baby Room: Part One

Turn back . . . turn back now!

Turn back . . . turn back now!

I’ve worked a lot of different jobs.  One of these jobs was at a daycare center, and yes it was after I’d already gotten two degrees.  They were in English, though, so no one cared.  (Kids: don’t major in English.  Just say no.)  Thing One was nine months old and I was staying home with her, but needed extra income so we could enjoy the luxuries of life like eating.  So I discovered I could work at this daycare and my kid could stay at the same daycare for free as a “perk”.  This sounded like a great deal at the time.

For an educated person, I can be really stupid.

First they stuck me with the two-year-olds.  Bootcamp for daycare workers.  At that time, in the state of Texas, you could have up to 11 two-year-olds for every adult.  Yup.  11.  Even Octomom never watched 11 two-year-olds at once.  They put two workers in the room, which meant 22 toddlers.  And two people.  No problem.

22 of these?  NO PROBLEM!

22 of these? NO PROBLEM!

Unless you wanted to remain sane, that is.  When there’s an 11 to 1 ratio, you’ve gotta be a clever toddler to get attention.  One such toddler was Jaycee, who claimed to be potty training.  “Have to go poop!” she’d say, so I’d go into the bathroom with her and stand.  And stand.  While Jaycee swung her legs on the potty and talked incessantly.  Not one poop was had.  Not even a pee.  But you never could tell, so you always took her.  Score 1 Jaycee.

You also had to put them all down for naps.  At the same time.  Now putting ONE toddler down for a nap is tough.  Imagine putting down 22 toddlers – I mean without a hammer.  The “trick” the director taught us was to pat them on the backs as they lay down to get them to drift off.  Right.  Guess who demanded the most pats?   “Pat meeeee, pat meeeeeee!” Jaycee would cry.  I’d lay down with her and pat, pat, pat zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Pat meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Pat meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

We couldn’t just let them play either.  No, we had to make sure they played correctly.  So no gun play.  The little boys still played with their fingers.  “Booda –booda.  Booda-booda!” they’d yell, pointing their fingers at each other.  “You can’t play guns,” I said wearily.  Wes, the little boy in question, looked confused.  “We were just playing booda-booda.”  He said.  Sometimes I do think we might be a bit too P.C.

After a couple of weeks of working with the toddlers I was about ready to run screaming from the daycare.  The director sensed this, and told me there was an opening in the baby room.  This was infants from six weeks up to crawling age, usually around six months.  I liked this idea.  Sure babies are tough, but at this age they cannot move and no one expects you to potty train them or stop imaginary gun play.  I jumped at the chance.

I mean, who wouldn't?

I mean, who wouldn’t?

You could have four per person.  Yeah, quads, who hasn’t raised a set on their own, am I right?  We had around ten babies, I think, which meant there were usually three of us.  Sue was older and did not want to move.  Like ever.  Sue also wasn’t too bright.  She had never heard of “A Christmas Carol.”  How the hell did you miss that?  Jennifer was about my age.  She had one child and went to tanning beds partly because they said you could burn out your ovaries that way.  Mary came to help especially at lunch time or to fill in for another, or when our baby load went up, which it sometimes did.

Seven of the babies were boys.  Anyone who says infants don’t have personalities has never dealt with an actual infant.  We gave some of them nicknames because you have to get your jollies somehow when you work minimum wage with a bunch of babies.  But I was talking about the infants.  Though there’s some I can’t quite recall now, I can fully remember a few of them.

. . . To be continued!

Mother’s Little Helper

What a drag it is getting old.”

                                            -Rolling Stones

If you blur the picture, they look much hotter.

My vision is blurry . . . too much helper

Oh, Rolling Stones, you do know what you’re talking about.  And I’m not just saying that because all of you are incredibly old.  I mean, Mick Jagger is 70.  Fortunately, he was always ugly, so it’s not like he could look much worse.  And I’m fairly sure Keith Richards actually is dead, but is now performing onstage as a zombie.  But, looks aside, you guys write some pretty good songs. Songs with maybe a bit too much truth.

“Things are different today,”
I hear ev’ry mother say . . .”

That’s for sure.  I mean, yes, we have a lot more technology than mothers did 50 years ago.  On the other hand, we have a lot more technology than mothers did 50 years ago.  We have washers and dryers, which makes cleaning clothes easier, which means we clean our clothes more often.  Wait – what did we save here?  We’re no longer trapped in the home.  Nope.  Now we get to work and get trapped in the home after work.  Yes, it’s – it’s different today.

I have to wash all of Ken's pink clothes.  Dream wedding?  WTF was I thinking?

I have to wash all of Ken’s pink clothes. Dream wedding? WTF was I thinking?

“Cooking fresh food for a husband’s just a drag
So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak.”

Hell, yes.  I do love frozen food.  I mean, it’s food, and you heat it up.  And then you can eat it.  But wait – that’s not good, they say.  Oh, no, you should eat only organic.  Organic vegetables.  And then you should use one of those things, you know, those cookbook things.  And cook from scratch.  It’s so much healthier that way.  What do you mean you’re tired because you worked all day, either racing after children or digging through paperwork, or both?  You are woman!  Roar!  But not too long, you have to get supper on the table.

Unless you have your husband do it.  Me, me! I’m raising my hand here.  Not only that, I often get my husband to cook with frozen steaks and cakes!  I am a horrible mother, according to Parents, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and every other women’s magazine.  Well, except for Cosmo.  All you really have to do in Cosmo is find unique ways to give your man pleasure.  Well, Cosmo thinks you need unique ways, but really, all you need is you minus the clothes.  At least that’s what humor writer Dave Barry says, and I’ve yet to have a man disagree with this assessment.  But there’s just one problem . . .

Without Cosmo, I never would have known to wrap myself up in Saran Wrap.

Without Cosmo, I never would have known that wrapping myself up in Saran Wrap makes me sexy and keeps me fresher longer.

They just don’t appreciate that you get tired
They’re so hard to satisfy. You can tranquilise your mind . . .”

No shit.  I mean, you do get tired.  In fact, I do believe I’ve been tired ever since I got pregnant with my first child.  And it has never, ever stopped.  Tired. Always.  So much so that I made my username in one forum Tired42.  And I’ve devoted more than one blog post to this phenomenon.  Kids + Spouse / Significant Other + Life = Freaking Tired.  It’s a complex equation, but you’ll figure it out if you decide to let yourself become an adult.  I’m told that people without children also get tired.  I don’t know.  I got married and 18 months later I was a Mommy, and I freaking don’t remember anything before that.  Really.  I mean, I think there was a childhood in there, and some college, and a wedding . . . and . . . yeah I’m getting nothing here.  Sometimes my husband and I just sit together, both exhausted, and ask “What do people without kids DO?”  We have no idea.

What would we do if we weren't watching this?

What would we do if we weren’t watching this?

“Life’s just much too hard today,”
I hear ev’ry mother say
The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore . . .”

Yes, it’s the whine of the privileged American.  Life is hard.  I realize it’s nothing like what people in third world countries go through.  On the other hand, those people, if you look at pictures, often look happy!  I highly doubt poor African women spend time criticizing the child rearing techniques of their neighbors.  “Hey, Nala, I practice attachment parenting.  I wear my baby all day and nurse her and sleep with her at night.”  Nala looks at her and says, “Yeah, so do we all.  It’s cause if we set baby down, she’s eaten by a wild animal, you idiot.  And we breastfeed because our water sucks and using formula is unhealthy here.  And we sleep with the kid because hey, we don’t have another bed.  You are not so special.  Pick up a hoe and get back to work.”

Okay, maybe they don’t have conversations quite like that.  They also probably don’t consider the pursuit of happiness.  Like, hey, I have a hut and some crops and most of my family is alive – I’m good!  Whereas here in the states, it has to be a house with at least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, and you must have a high earning job, and your kids must be involved in several activities as well as make straight As, and on and on and on . . . And after all of that, a woman gets to bed, and she can’t sleep, because her mind still turns.

I won this award after I beat all the other mothers.  I mean beat them up.  Then it was mine!

I won this award after I beat all the other mothers. I mean beat them up. Then it was mine!

“Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill
There’s a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day.”

This song was originally written back in 1966.  Three years before, the drug Valium was approved for use in the United States.  Valium is a tranquilizer in a class of drugs that revolutionized the treatment of anxiety.  It was safer than drugs that came before it.  You could get it through your family doctor.  And guess who most users were?  If you said women, bingo, you get a gold star.  Or maybe a little yellow pill.  Take your pick.

This song touches a bit of a, pardon the pun, chord in me.  I take a tranquilizer.  At first I feared that I would get addicted.  I asked my psychiatrist’s nurse.  She said, “Yes, Alice, you could get addicted – if you took half a bottle every day.”  See, I take a very small dose.  But still, I need that dose.  And sometimes it feels like I need it more and more.  How else to get through my busy day?

No problem I got this!

No problem I got this!

How do any of us get through our stressful, busy days with the many, many demands upon us?  They’re different for different people, but everyone deals with stress. Whether it’s work stress, or being without work stress, or children stress, or chronic disease stress, or holy crap why did I get married stress – whatever it is, it’s stress.  And we have it in spades.  And we all need helpers.  But at some point, we have to figure out how to relax.  Or no pills, or yoga techniques, or spa treatments are going to help us.  As the song says,

“They just helped you on your way through your busy dying day.”

Personally, I’d rather live.  But the rest of the world won’t slow down.  I’m not sure when I got on this ride, but I wanna get off.

The Legend of Monchhichi

This is one of those times I think they should probably revoke my parenting license.

A while back, Angie over at Childhood Relived once again brought back one of those nightmarish 80s memories.  She’s really good at that.  This one involved a monkey.  Or is it a baby?  No, it is some bizarre conglomeration of the two, like Frankenstein’s Chimpbaby.  It was originally an import from Japan, so you know right there it’s gonna be weird.  The toy is called Monchhichi and this is what it looks like.

Is it a baby?  A chimp?  Or a MONSTER?

Is it a baby? A chimp? Or a MONSTER?

Yeah, I know, right?  Creepy.  So not so long after that post, my father returns with, you’ll never guess, a Monchhichi !  He found it at a garage sale.  My first thought, after freaking out just a little bit, was hey, I can get money for this thing.  No such luck.  A search on Amazon revealed that this was an earlier reissue in the 1990s.  You can tell because it has blue eyes, not brown, or something stupid that only people who collect these freaked out creatures would notice.

So I went ahead and gave it to Thing Two.  But it still wigged me out a little.  And so – this is when we get to the parenting issue – I had an idea.  I’d make up a back story for it.  It’s not the first time I’ve done this.  When the kids were younger, I was reading one of those irritating children’s stories.  This one was about a bear named Hug-Me which naturally provoked the Gag-Me response.  Hug-Me can’t decide what sort of day it is so he walks around his house and asks all his friends, who do various things like tying him up as part of a game (I’m not making this up).  Also, there is a clown doll (called Clownie, of course) that just randomly appears, prompting  a scream of terror from me.

Kinda like this guy.   Everybody scream!

Kinda like this guy.
Everybody scream!

But it gets weirder.  See Hug-Me is a stuffed bear, and all his friends are stuffed, and never once do you see any real people.  I found it suspicious that a bunch of animated stuffed animals lived alone in a human house. Where were the people?  What did these animated clowns, bears, and whatevers do to them?

I decided that it had to be foul play.  And to entertain myself, I started changing up the story as I read.  See the stuffed animals launched a revolt and ate the humans (or imprisoned them in the basement) and now they are livin’ it up in their house.  The girls, predictably, loved the story and wanted me to reread it. They still do.  I had to tell them we couldn’t read it at Grammy’s house.  She already has her doubts about me.

But I was going to tell you about Monchhichi .  See, I got this bright idea one day to make up a story about him, a legend if you will.  A bright and cheery one, sort of like the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  This legend tells that the chimpbaby Monchhichi is actually a tiny monster that comes to life while children are sleeping and likes to live in their armpits.  It’s warm there.  The girls found it hysterical.  Now you do NOT want to be around that stuffed animal because it WILL find its way into your armpit via one of my children.  There is no stopping it.  So I’m actually starting to fear a creature of my own creation.  Where will he pop up next?  Will I be sure to have both arms down?  You just never know.

So that’s why, if there were a parenting license, I would probably not get one.  Generally parents are supposed to protect their kids from nightmares, not create them.  Wouldn’t you like me to babysit your small children?  I’ll bring the Monchhichi .  They SAY Monchhichi means happiness, but I think it means armpit goblin.  You decide.

Guard your pits, people.

Guard your pits, people.

Thing Two is Nine

Behold Lord Vader - and my bad job in Paint!

Behold Lord Vader – and my bad job in Paint!

Today my baby is nine-years-old.  She has grown taller, but her personality was set before she was born.  No one can peg that kid down – she even ran away from the doctor’s stethoscope while still in the uterus.  She was born screaming her little head off, and hasn’t stopped making noise since then.  There’s never a doubt that kid is around, because she is constantly on the move, another project in the works.  She is beautiful, smart, clever, creative, funny as hell, and a sneaky little thing.  But if you know Thing Two and you don’t love her, you don’t have a heart.

Thing Two is a jubilant extrovert in a family of introverts.  We all wonder where she came from.  She’ll try to befriend absolutely anybody and very little embarrasses her.  Once when she was around two or three we were waiting in the doctor’s office.  A lady sat next to us and Thing Two talked to her about the wildest things as if they’d known each other for years.  The lady looked at me with a confused expression.  “She’s shy,” I said.  Another time when she was around four the nurse asked her if she’d had her shots.  She said “Yes, see?” and dropped her pants – right there in the waiting area.  So I had her with her pants down and Thing One (8 years old) flailing around like she was about to have a seizure because OMG little sister was showing her panties!  At least we provided entertainment.

Thing Two is dramatic, no matter the situation.  She is quick to anger and tears, but just as quick to laughter and smiles.  Don’t get on her bad side, though, or you will become, in her words “her mortal enemy.”  In reality, though, few people are enemies of Thing Two.  Most are friends, whether they are adults, children, stuffed animals or invisible creations.  Everything and everyone is worthy of celebration – with a party.  A big party with decorations and cue cards in case you forget your lines.  Once she even planned a surprise birthday party – for herself.

. . . to me!

. . . to me!

Speaking of parties, Saturday we had her birthday party. I’m not a fan of birthday parties.  Those involve things like other children, noise, mess, other children, lots of chaos, and other children. But her father (the tallest child at the party) planned it and he did an impressive job.  The theme was Star Wars since Thing Two is a tad obsessed with it, to say the least.  Four of her guests were boys.  My husband was thrilled – a party without Hello Kitty or My Little Pony or pink!

Each child received a light saber – a pool noodle cut in half.  They also got to create blasters with PVC pipe and black duct tape.  For another activity, they put her new stuffed Yoda in a backpack and ran a timed obstacle course like Luke while training with Yoda on his back.  He cut holes in empty washer fluid jugs and Thing Two stuck on them pictures she made of Padme and a bounty hunter and the Death Star, among others.  Did I mention she’s an awesome artist?  Anyway, for this game they NEEDED a Nerf rifle that shot little disks into the jugs.  And all over the church gym we had rented ( If at all possible, do not have parties at your own house.)

There were Darth Vader masks for each kid.  These did not come assembled, which really should have been explained on the outside of the bag thanks so much.  Thankfully, a few dads were around to do the mechanics of mask making.  For refreshments we made cupcakes and decorated them with Vader and  storm trooper rings and  light saber picks.  I ordered these decorations off Amazon.  Behold our amazing work.

Clearly I am not Martha Stewart.

Clearly I am not Martha Stewart.

The kids had a blast (literally).  Including the Things, there were eight children running around, “shooting” each other with their pipe blasters, whacking balloons (oh that delightful POP) and smacking the daylights out of each other with pool noodles.  My husband was in the middle of most of this, targeting small children with the Nerf gun.  I was in the corner practicing yoga breathing techniques.

After the party, my husband and I collapsed.  All done!  Until next Monday, when Thing One becomes a teenager.  Oy.