Friday, September 30, 2011

But what does it mean?

Look! Up there! It's my new header! How many exclamation points can I use before you get annoyed and click on to the next blog!?! !!!!!!!

So, yeah. I'm excited about it. It was created by the lovely and talented Meridth Gimbel. I met her at her baby shower, and she mentioned she was an illustrator. So I Googled her (because I'm too awkward and shy to just ask her for her website). And I loved what I saw. So I asked (well, e-mailed--awkward and shy, remember?) if she'd consider doing a header for me. Even though she had just given birth, and even though my budget was ridiculously small, she agreed.

And here we are.

(This was one of my favorite illustrations of hers that I found while stalking her looking at her blog and portfolio.)

Luckily, she reads my blog now and again, so she had a pretty good idea of what it should be right from the beginning. Which is good, because I didn't really even know myself.

However, since I put the header up last night, I've had a few people ask what "My Summer Cottage in Babylon" even means.

Waaay back when I had approximately 14 readers, 13 of whom were also Mormons, one of our church leaders gave a talk telling us to give up our summer cottages in Babylon. Meaning, quit sinning. Stop hanging onto a few a of your favorite sins even though they're ridiculously fun.

About the same time, I wrote some posts that really rubbed some of my fellow church goers the wrong way. For a time, this became the Blog of Sin, leading everyone astray. Obviously.

I was not only on the expressway to hell, but I was in the carpool lane with a full minivan.

Sin, schmin. If sex between a married couple, or believing all people are entitled to the same rights regardless of sexual orientation, or wearing thigh high fishnets to church is a sin, then yes, I guess they were right.

Anyway, some of my friends joked that my blog was my summer cottage in Babylon. And it stuck. And slowly the readership grew. And now most of you have no idea what that phrase means, or what the new header represents.

So, there you go.

Welcome sinners!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Number Three

So, I realized a couple of weeks ago that I rarely write about Amelia. I should do something about that so she doesn't grow up, find this blog, and require more therapy than she'll already need after reading it.

Amelia is six going on 76. She has her moody, teenage like moments, but mostly she's like an old lady who doesn't give a crap about what people think anymore. Also, one who smoked three packs a day. Seriously, for such a tiny kid she has a deep, gravelly voice. Like Kathleen Turner in size 4T.

Her favorite food in the world is gingersnaps. Hard, old fashioned gingersnaps.

Speaking of food, she'll only eat things that are highly processed and/or white.

She has an obsession with cats. She will be the crazy cat lady someday. Her most coveted Christmas present last year was a stuffed cat with magnetic nipples and three kittens with magnetic lips. This year she wants both a basket of stuffed Siamese kittens and stuffed versions of our actual cats. In case the real ones die. Her reasoning, not mine.

I bought her a set of Amelia Bedelia books when she started reading fluently. At first she liked them, but by the end of the series she asked me to throw them out. When I asked why she said, "Amelia Bedelia is DUMB. People are going to think I can't follow simple directions because I have the same name."

She rarely pretends that she is the mother of her dolls. She's always the older sister. Her reason? Because moms have to do all the work but a sister just plays with them.

If I'd allow it, she'd wear pink cowgirl boots and short shorts every day.

She's irrationally worried about her feet stinking. So worried, in fact, that I used it to my advantage in getting her to drink Kefir at breakfast. I wanted her to drink it because she gets almost no protein in her diet (see processed and/or white foods above). But I told her that it has things in it that prevent stinky feet. Guess who drinks a big cup of Kefir every morning?

She loves to watch Rugrats, but whenever Angelica has been on for more than two minutes she usually throws the remote and storms out of the room.

She has no qualms about passing gas. Loudly. In public. If someone says anything about it, she responds with, "Get over it. Everyone farts. I said excuse me."

I have to go to great lengths to avoid the lingerie section of any store we go to. If she sees a bra, she will have a meltdown over the fact that I refuse to buy her one. This has been going on since she was three.

Maybe not so coincidentally, she has decided she wants to be Dolly Parton. She saw a commercial for Dollywood, and then announced that Dolly Parton was the prettiest lady she'd ever seen. And she has her own amusement park. And breasts. Dolly is now her unofficial mentor.

Both her kindergarten teacher and her first grade teacher have written nearly identical comments on her progress reports. "What she lacks in size, she makes up for in volume and bossiness."

That's my girl!

Monday, September 26, 2011

OCD like me in 12 easy steps.

Yeah...I can't help you with this.

So, I feel kind of like an egotistical jerk (or Martha Stewart) (same difference) writing this post.

Who am I to be telling people the best way to do things? I mean, sure, I tell people how best to live their lives all the time. It's just not usually to their face.

Anyway, I've gotten enough e-mails asking me for advice on this topic over the past couple of years--at least one a week--that I guess it warrants a post.

The question: How do I keep my house clean and organized without killing someone/spending every minute of my day doing it/giving myself an aneurysm and STILL have time to go to the gym, shop, cook and waste countless hours cluttering up the internet with my pointless rambling?

The short answer is that I was blessed with a heaping helping of cleanliness OCD tendencies and control freakishness. Also, a loud yelling voice.

But for those of you not blessed with such attributes, I've made a list of some of the things that make my life easier and my house cleaner. (I know. You're bored already. Here, go look at my cat dressed like Princess Leia instead.)

1. Have a place for EVERYTHING. You can't expect things to get put away if they don't have a permanent home. If you're out of places for everything, you have too much stuff. You should get rid of some. Or apply to be on Hoarders.

2. Make sure the people in your house know where those permanent homes are. I get crazy with my label maker on a regular basis, but it really helps.

3. Make it easy to put things away. For example, I tried traditional book shelves for my kids' books when they were littler. Guess what? Kids are not very adept at standing books up to put them away. So, I now store their books in small piles instead (I have several of THESE, which are great. They hold lots of kid books at an easy to get and put away angle). And now the books always get put away. Another example--if you have a toy box, make it a small one, and only keep larger toys in it. Your kid will inevitably want the toy on the bottom, which means everything will have to be taken out to get it. The less stuff to be taken out, the less stuff to clean up.

4. Speaking of toys, I don't allow the kids to take their toys from their bedroom (or playroom when we had one). Obviously when they were very young--one, two--I kept a small basket of their toys in the living room because that's where we mostly were. But once they could play more independently, it became an iron clad rule. That way, the mess is contained to one area. If I'm tripping over Barbie or impaling my feet on Legos, I'm more likely to become mean screaming mom. By keeping them in their room only, they have more freedom to keep toys out until clean up time.

5. Also, have a designated space for toys. Once the space is filled, that's it. No more toys until they get rid of some to free up space. Kids need far less than many parents think they "deserve." I'm not saying you should give them a can and some string and tell them to make do (although that's not a horrible idea). But no child needs a room like a toy store. I limit my kids to one of THESE each. It's more than enough for lots of toys. We go through them and purge A LOT before Christmas and birthdays to make room for anything new they may get. The fewer toys kids have, the less they have to clean up. This goes for grown ups, too.

6. Get rid of broken stuff. You're never really going to fix it. It's just cluttering up the place.

7. Clean up right away. Clean up from meals immediately after they're done. Wipe up spills before they dry. Empty the dishwasher as soon as it's done so there's no reason to pile dishes in the sink. Fold laundry (and put it away!) when it's dry.

8. Make it easier to clean. I keep cleaning supplies upstairs and down. Make sure your cleaning equipment works (I put off mopping for a month because my mop didn't work quite right).

9. Set a schedule and stick to it. I do my deep cleaning on Wednesdays. If you stop by before noon on Wednesdays, you'll find me in my underwear, gloves and a toilet brush in my hand. It's scheduled, like an appointment.

10. Have hiding spots for clutter. I have clutter. I have stuff that doesn't really have a permanent home. (Don't tell!). My saving grace is that I allow a few places around the house for it to accumulate. A junk drawer in the kitchen. An empty cabinet in my bedroom. Wherever you choose, make sure it closes so you don't have to look at all that crap everyday. It'll stress you out.

11. Have an assigned daily clean up time for your kids. For us, the littler kids go to bed at 7:30, so 7 is clean up time. If they're not done by 7:30, there is no story, AND anything not cleaned up goes in a bag and goes away for a very long time. It may take having nothing in their room for a few weeks, but they WILL eventually learn if you're consistent with the consequences. And if you yell. Loudly. (Just kidding.) (Not really.)

12. Don't let your kids/spouse be pigs. Really. Sometimes you just have to be a bitch. Sometimes you have to mean business. The earlier you start, the better. And you have to be consistent. After two months of no TV or computer and keeping the bathroom door locked (they had to get the key from me), there is miraculously no urine on the back of the toilet or the floor. After a few times of scrubbing the carpet on hands and knees, they miraculously remember to take off muddy shoes. After losing $1 per item not turned right side out, I miraculously no longer have to waste time turning clothes before I wash them. Have a kid who writes on walls? Guess who gets to not touch pens/crayons/markers/colored pencils for a month?

I'm not saying any of these tips are EASY. Or PLEASANT. Cleaning isn't pleasant. If you're looking for a way to make it enjoyable, good luck. But these things make it easier for ME. Maybe some of them will make it easier for you too. Or maybe you're just happy living in a pig stye. That's O.K., too. Just don't invite me over for dinner.

*This post is NOT sponsored by Ikea. I just love them. And they're cheap. And their crap works for organization.

**While these really are things I do, please take this post with a big dose of sarcasm.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The only thing pets are good for.

Sometimes you hear stories about pets dialing 911 and saving their owners, or waking them when the house is on fire. Those are great stories, but they don't happen often enough to make it worth having a pet.

No, the only thing that makes a pet worth it is if you can dress them up like your favorite movie character and put the pictures on your blog.

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope. No really. This woman is crazy. Who puts a wig on a cat?"

"I hear Vader approaching. Or maybe it's just those kids who never leave me alone. I don't know which is worse."

"Alright, I'm out of here. I'll see you later when I come to eat your face while you sleep."

Friday, September 23, 2011

One stop holiday shopping.

(Note: This post contains boobs. And very tiny penises. And Greek men doing I don't even want to know what. They're all statues, not actual people,
I wanted to warn you just in case.)

So, I'm kind of a catalog junkie. I love them. Home decor catalogs, especially. I'm addicted.

Yesterday one arrived that I'd never seen before. I flipped through a couple of pages and it was mostly things like suits of armor and custom chess sets. Not the typical Pottery Barn and Ikea stuff I usually get.

This morning I looked at the whole thing.

It was the most disturbing home decor catalog I've ever seen.

While it does have some beautiful antique replica furniture and cool, unique items (a couple of Ben's Christmas presents will be coming from this catalog, I think), mostly it was all just very bizarre.

You know, every throne needs to be guarded by a knight.

Speaking of thrones, why not drop $1900 on your very own?

And what's a castle without a little statuary, right?

What frightens me most about this is that it's a replica of a classic statue from 1550, sculpted by a student of Michelangelo. Is it just me, or do you ever wonder if sometimes the classical artists made some of their work as a joke? Like, maybe he just made this one to see what Michelangelo's reaction would be. Like a Renaissance version of Lolcats.

And then we have the modern interpretation of classic art.
I have a sudden urge to send this one to Mario Batali, except I bet he already has one.

Once you've finished the interior of your castle,
you'll want to adorn the grounds.
While on one side of the garden you can display a
lifesize sculpture of the holy family... can finish off the other side with Rachel.
While this picture may lead you to believe this is a small figurine, it is in fact a nearly 6 foot tall life size statue. In a thong.

I think it would be extra fun if you put this one directly below Rachel.

And then have this guy watching it all from afar. Because nothing completes a zombie eating a stripper scene quite like a voyeuristic Sasquatch.

Speaking of Sasquatch, I NEED this. Truly. This would make my whole year.
Not only do I collect Christmas ornaments, but growing up my parents often referred to me as Sasquatch (No, I don't have any issues. Why do you ask?). So really, there couldn't be a more perfect gift.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sisters in inadequacy.

I had a different post planned for today. A funny one. But after comments and e-mails from my last post poured in over the weekend, I decided they really needed to be shared. I know a lot of you read through a feed, so you don't see the comments unless you click through, so I'm posting those as well.

Also, I've added another one of mine, but I'm not saying which one.

Thank you for sharing. Really. I started personally responding to each one, but I got overwhelmed. Just know that I read each one, and wept over them.


My real is that I can't stop drinking. It's my escape from everyone else's real that creeps into my life that I can't handle. I'm a family therapist. I get a lot of other people's real.


My imperfection is that I only had my children, all six of them, because I felt I had to for God to love me. I resent all of them every single day. I never wanted children at all, and now I'm tied down with six. When I was pregnant for my last one, I tried everything I could think of to cause a miscarriage. At least then the spirit would have its body. My duty would be done and there would only be five children sapping me of my will to live.


I think my husband committed suicide because I was always yelling at him and telling him nothing he did was good enough.


I think I'm broken because I can't accept affection from or be affectionate to my friends. I can tell my family "I love you," and I can hear it from them without a problem. But when a friend is genuinely nice, I don't know how to react. When a friend says I love you--and I know they mean it--I freeze. I physically can't respond. And I'm jealous of how freely people seem to be able to give and accept affection. I do love my friends. I don't know why I can't force those words from my lips (or fingers). I usually resort to sarcasm. I wish I could just say I love you too instead.


I'm bipolar. For the rest of my life, I will have to take several different meds in order to not be a raving lunatic. But with those meds, I'm stable and happy and generally a good mom. Here's where it gets iffy: those same meds make me tired. OH SO TIRED. No matter how much sleep I do or do not get, I feel exhausted much of the time. My house isn't filthy, but it's far from spotless because I just don't have the energy to keep it up as well as I should. And I'm often found napping or sleeping in when I really should be reading to my little ones or otherwise caring for them. That's not to say that they're going hungry or wearing dirty underwear or not getting to school on time. Just that I could be doing better, and I'm not. So there you go. Totally imperfect.


I cuss around my kids, though never AT my kids. The F word is probably my favorite word. Especially since I am married and can F my husband pretty much any time I want, :).

Also, I have 2 boys, am an active member in the LDS faith, and I plan on teaching my boys that it's ok if they masturbate, that the thing to focus on isn't NOT masturbating, but rather to focus on their relationship with their Heavenly Father--do they always have a prayer in their heart? Do they read the scriptures? Are they kind to other people? Because occasionally touching yourself isn't a bad thing (and it's NOT cheating on your spouse, future or current), but letting it overtake your life IS.

And I'm going to teach them when/where it's acceptable to do such things--ie in their bedrooms/bathrooms, NEVER in public.

And maybe it's an imperfection, but I don't think it is.


Whooo. Real is hard. Here goes. I take up to 12 laxatives a day to stay skinny. I'd rather be on the toilet all day than puking and ruining my teeth. And I'd rather be on the toilet all day than get fat. Even though it doesn't bother me when other people are fat, it's THE WORST thing that could ever happen to me. I'd rather be dead.


I took a bottle of pills because I had sex before marriage. Dying was better than talking to my bishop. I wish my mother hadn't found me and called 911, because now my family thinks I'm crazy AND a whore.


I felt like I had to get breast implants to save my marriage. The husband is now gone, but at least have a great rack. (That's just what I tell myself when the depression starts to take over. They weren't worth it and neither was he. And now I'm alone and I hate my body.)


I have a blog. I have only told about 3 people.... I am very honest about my current struggles and though I would love people to read it and see their comments and know that we all struggle. I want to be a supporter of REAL. I am very afraid that I would just be seen as totally weak and incompetent in the path I have chosen.

When my husband tells me I'm sexy I have to scream at myself in my mind to believe him otherwise I dismiss it as false. I find it nearly impossible to believe that someone as fat and imperfect as me could ever be seen as sexy.


My real is that my husband and I sleep in separate rooms. People on the outside think we're the perfect happy couple, but the truth is that we are merely roommates. We have been for more than twenty years. We figured we'd divorce once the kids were grown, but now we rely on each other too much. We just don't love each other.


I have taken down every mirror in my home because I despise the way I look. People have no idea. They tell me I'm beautiful. They lie.


my real is that i have an eating disorder. and on most days of the week i want it, need it. i try every day to be good and eat and be healthy bleh bleh. but i just wish deep inside that i could just keep it. and not be ashamed of it.


I've been having sex with my math teacher for two years. I pretend I'm a lesbian so no one will suspect. Now I'm depressed because I get bullied for being a lesbian.


My real is that I spend almost zero time with my kids. I joke about it, but it's the truth. I hate making them do things, so I just let them do whatever as long as they don't interrupt what I've got going on...and I have a lot going on. Teaching piano lessons, my job at the gym, my bunco nights, my computer time, my reading time, etc. I never seem to make the time to spend with them, so they're all tv junkies and ds addicts. I don't cook for them. I don't clean for them. I don't bathe them. I barely take the time to tuck them in at night. I feel like the worst mom in the world. I love them, but taking even 10 minutes to focus on one child to find out how their day was takes a lot of effort for me. And what kills me the most...when I finally do find the time to talk, they blow me off. I deserve it. I'm working on it, but I'm not perfect.


I feel like a failure because I can't have children. Why would God give me a commandment I can't keep?


my real is that Im scared if I were real my friends wouldnt like me anymore.


My real for today: I often feel like a joke as a mother/ wife. I know that really these insecurities are because my mom wasn't the world's most stellar mom (that's putting it mildly). I fell like (even though really I know I'm doing my best) that I'm not doing enough for my kids. Like I have check off all parenting blocks: volunteering in my kids' classrooms; doing (extra) after-school stuff for my kid- the list could go on and on honestly. Truth is there's only so many hours in the day. I only have so much energy (and motivation). So I'm okay w/ not being the perfect mom.


I'm in love with my best friend and it kills me that I can't tell her. I don't know if she'd be more repulsed by me being a woman or me being married. The secret is tearing us apart and she doesn't even know it.


I have to be liked, unless I don't like the person or know that I can possibly never cross paths again, I want them to like me. And it's more then that too, I want to be popular, I want a ton of friends who look up to me, who always want to hang out with me, who invite me to all the events. I just need to be noticed and included. Whenever I find out people don't invite me to a BBQ or a Girl's night, I take it really personally. I know I shouldn't, but it stings. I'm so afraid of not having friends, of losing friends, I am often checking with the ones I do have to make sure I haven't offended them.

I'm not my real self because my real sarcastic, kinda crass self doesn't make friends out here, at least not many. I don't want anyone to be offended by me, or I want to not care, but I haven't mastered the second, so I just overly censor myself.

I'm just so afraid of being judged or ostracized. Even when I was a kid nothing got me attention, being good, being bad, no one but my family noticed or cared. I've never had a birthday party since I was 15 that more then 3 people actually showed up to, I've never had a friend throw me a baby shower (my mother-in-law did, but only 1 of my friends showed). I just want people to like me enough to want to spend EXTRA time with me, not just the bare minimum, it'd just be nice to have someone call me up for a playdate or want to come over to MY house for once. That's my real.


My husband is depressed and has blown every penny we have. I work three jobs but we still can't even afford for him to get medication to get better. I want to leave him but I'm afraid that would push him over the edge. Everyone thinks we're happy and well off. I just want to scream at people to look more closely and see that I'm barely hanging on by a thread. Help me, don't envy me!!!


Everyone thinks I'm selfless and wonderful because I'm caring for my ailing mother. The reality is, no matter how much I love her, I wish she would die and release me from this responsibility.



Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Imperfection Challenge

(Picture stolen from Single Dad Laughing)

So, I was blog hopping the other day to kill some time, and I landed on Single Dad Laughing. I always love his posts. I don't know why I haven't added him to my blogroll yet. I need to remedy that immediately.

Anyway, posts from his archives flash across the top of his main page. One popped up with a picture that reminded me so much of myself three years ago that I had to click on it (see above). I'm so glad I did. It was THIS. (Please click it and read. Please? It's totally clean and appropriate--no worries that I'm taking you to a profanity riddled porn fest or anything).

For those of you who are too lazy or stubborn to click, here's a very brief summary: Most of us--probably all of us--hide parts of ourselves because we feel the need to be perfect, and exposing that part would make us unbearably imperfect. He gives some real life examples of how sometimes this "disease called perfection" can be deadly. Really, I can't do the post justice. Please, just go read it.

Anyway, at the end of the post, he asks this:

Will you help me spread “Real”? Tell us below just how perfect you aren’t. You never know who might be alive tomorrow because you were real today. You never know who needs to feel like they aren’t alone in their inability to be perfect. Even if you comment as an anonymous guest, please comment. Tell us what you struggle with. Tell a sad or dark secret. Get vulnerable. Get real.

The post moved me so much that I'll accept the challenge. And I'm asking you to do the same. Here in the comments, or on your own blogs. If you post it on your blog, let me know and I'll link it here.

So, here's my dose of real.

I've been extremely open about being morbidly obese and documenting my weight loss through gastric bypass. I even showed you all the skin the weight loss left behind. But I've been a lot less real about my struggle with regain over the past 14 months.

I've gained 30-35 pounds (depending on when I step on the scale). I've gone from a size 4 to a size 10-12 (mostly 12). I feel like a failure. Those 35 pounds may as well be 135 pounds because that's how they make me feel.

I know that I'm not the only person who has regained after weight loss surgery, but I feel like I am. I feel extreme shame that I couldn't stay in those size fours. I'm embarrassed to have people who saw me as a size four see me now. I seriously considered skipping my annual get together in Las Vegas this year because all those people would see how fat I'd gotten. Logically, I know that's probably the last thing on their minds, but no one ever said shame was logical.

Adding to my sense of failure is that I really have been working hard to lose it. But it's not working. I even got so desperate that I tried weight loss pills. I know, I know. I would chastise any of you if you said you were taking them. But that's how desperate I got. 1200 calories a day and intense 90 minute workouts five days a week weren't doing anything, so maybe the pills would. Obviously they didn't. I just felt like a squirrel on crack. I got a lot done those few weeks, just didn't lose any weight.

So, that's my real for right now. I'm a big fat weight loss failure. I couldn't beat it. I want to hide everyday because of it.

I don't want you to tell me I'm not fat. That's not the point here. I'm not looking for people to tell me I'm wrong. I'm just putting it out there because I know that there are others out there in my shoes, and I want them to know they're not alone.

So, now it's your turn. Get real.

Here's a post from Crystal, who beat me to it this morning.
Here's a post from Tex.
Here's a post from Rena.
Here's a post from AngelButton.
Here's a post from BlueCodeRed.
Here's a post from Bennett.
Here's a post from Jen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Special" Delivery

Will sent Amelia this bear from Afghanistan for her birthday.

It took us all day to notice he was...different. Special, some might say.

According to Liam, "He's from Afghanistan, Amelia. That's how bears are there. They're not like American bears."

Can you spot it?
(It's not as clear in the picture as it is in person.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dropping Hints.

A sure sign that you've been too sick
to cook for way too long?
Your kids start playing drive-thru.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's O.K. to smile.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

It's a big deal, and I know I should probably write something about the loss of innocent lives that day, the sacrifices made by people trying to save others...

Those are important, and we should always, always remember those things. Not just on the anniversary.

But I don't feel like revisiting the horror and sorrow of that day. I'm reminded of it every day that my husband is in Afghanistan fighting the war that was precipitated by this day ten years ago.

So today I'm going to share a story that always makes me laugh, and is as big a part of my September 11th memories as watching the horror unfold on TV.

(Originally posted September 12th, 2008)

Ben, Booze and Benadryl

Ben, 4 months before the booze incident

I've had several e-mails since yesterday asking if it's true that I got Ben drunk.

Yes, it's true--but I had a really good reason!!

In September 2001 we were living in Germany. I decided to take Ben, who was 2, and fly to New Hampshire to visit my family. Our flight was 2 legs: Paris to London and then London to Boston.

Ben slept for the one hour Paris to London flight, but then started acting up while we waited for our flight in Heathrow airport. So...I slipped him a Benadryl. It normally knocks kids out. I even had a doctor recommend it.

An hour into our 4 hour trans-atlantic flight, Ben starts going crazy. Squirming, kicking, screaming, crying...Nothing I did calmed him down. I walked with him, held him, you name it. He just became more and more agitated. A kind family in front of us, who were getting the brunt of his fit, offered him things to play with and eat. He was not having it. People around us were offering to pay money to be moved up to first class to escape him. They were yelling at me to calm him down and make him be quiet--you know, because I was enjoying having him like that.

By the second hour I was crying as much as Ben.

The flight attendant came over at one point and said--to a two year old, mind you--"You need to sit and mind your manners now. It's time for high tea and we're tired of this nonsense." (The effect is better if you read that in a snooty British accent).

About thirty minutes before we landed, one of the pilots came back. He informed me that my return ticket would be honored, but that in the future I would be banned from British Airways. Banned!!!

We finally landed in Boston, getting dirty looks and fingers pointed at us as we waited for our luggage.

I told my mother, a nurse, about what happened and she told me that sometimes Benadryl makes kids feel like their skin is crawling rather than making them sleepy.

Now she tells me.

While we were visiting, September 11th happened. I couldn't bear the thought of a repeat performance on the way home, especially with everyone nervous and edgy after the attacks. I was pretty certain his behavior was a result of the Benadryl, but I couldn't be positive.

So, my mother suggested we get him good and liquored up.

We bought a fruit flavored wine cooler (which has a pretty low alcohol content) and mixed half of it with Hawaiian Punch in his sippy cup. I had him drink it at the airport.

That kid slept not only from Boston to London, but all the way to Paris and during the 2 hour car ride from Paris to our house in Germany.

Sometimes a mother's got to do what a mother's got to do.

*If you try this yourself and something goes wrong, I am not liable and you're an idiot for getting harebrained ideas about drugging your kids from a blog.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I guess I'm a free range helicopter pilot.

So, yesterday I got a call from Ben's math teacher. She wanted to let me know that she had changed a math test grade from 65 to 97.

I asked her why she would do such a thing.

She said that when she asked Ben why he did so poorly on the test, he said it was because he had traded his calculator for Pokemon cards. She wanted him to have the opportunity to take the test with a calculator, and when he did, he got a 97.

I knew about the Pokemon card/calculator trade already. He's had extra chores to pay off the $20 I spent on it, and the other $20 I'll have to pay to replace it.

Anyway, I told her he deserved the 65. He's twelve and a half and has an IQ higher than Hitler. He knows his calculator is required for class and needed for the tests. If he's going to be dumb enough to trade it for Pokemon cards, then he needs to suffer the consequences of his stupidity.

And she argued with me! She thought it was only fair to give him the 97, since he clearly knows how to do the work--he just needed the calculator for the complex equations. And I reiterated that it was only fair that he get the 65, because every other kid in that class remembered to bring their calculator. Heck, one even gave up his Pokemon card collection to make sure he had one. He needs to get the 65.

Ultimately, it's the teacher's decision. I'm sure he'll get the 97, and I'm sure it will reinforce that he can be an asshat and get away with it.

What was particularly ironic about the whole thing was that the same day this took place, numerous friends posted a link to this article. It's worth the click to read it, but the gist of it is, good teachers are leaving the profession because parents are jack-wagons who won't allow them to do their jobs. It talks a lot about parents fighting teachers for higher grades for their kid, or making excuses when their kid doesn't do their work.

I can guarantee you I'm not one of those parents.

I hear a lot about helicopter parenting and free range parenting. I don't feel that I fall into either of those categories.

On the one hand, I don't ever try to protect my kids from consequences they deserve. Do I like it when they feel bad or get a bad grade? Of course not. But I also don't want them to grow up to be the kind of person who whines that they got a ticket when they knowingly parked illegally.

I don't want them to think for one second that mom and dad will bail them out of jail. I want them to know that mom and dad will still love them no matter what, and will visit them regularly at the penitentiary, but they will sit in jail until they've paid their debt to society for whatever it is they've done.

Consequences for stupid choices are hard. The sooner they learn that, the better.

Consequences for smart choices are awesome. The sooner they learn that, the better.

On the other hand, they will be in booster seats until the recommended age/height/weight. They will wear bike helmets. They will wash their hands often, and brush their teeth daily. They will not eat junk instead of dinner.

They will not ride their bikes out of my sight until I know for sure they won't get in a stranger's car. They will not play inside a friend's house if I haven't met the parents and know that parents are home.

I will not let my 5 year old use the stove or a knife without my help.

When they were babies, I put them to sleep on their sides and didn't put bedding or toys in their cribs.

I didn't eat soft cheeses even though I lived in Europe for my first pregnancy.

I hear people go on all the time about how they never wore a seat belt or a bike helmet. How they weren't put in a car seat as a baby. How their mother smoked a pack a day and washed it down with a six pack of beer when she was pregnant. How they ate lead paint chips for snack every day and look--they survived.

Just because you survived doesn't make those things safe or O.K. It just means natural selection had bigger fish to fry that week.

Yes, most of us survived those things. Our parents didn't know any better and we got lucky. But too many didn't survive them, and it's sad because it could have been prevented had people known. Of course we can't completely protect our kids from harm and injury, but I'm certainly going to do all I can.

So, I don't know what you'd call me. I don't know where on the spectrum between helicopter and free range I fit in.

All I do know is that my honor student can kick your honor student's ass, but they'll be grounded for a week if they do.

(Ooh! Speaking of school, The Oatmeal had this today. Read it right now! (There's some swearing, so beware if swearing offends you.))

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I don't understand it either.

Apparently last Tuesday was my three year blogiversary. I didn't even realize it until my statistics provider sent me a congratulatory e-mail.

In the e-mail, they listed the number one most viewed post on this site over the past three years.

I've had 21,372,568 page views as of five minutes ago, and a full 6,186,489 have been of this particular post. Before I clicked the link to see which post it was, I had a few ideas about which it would be. None of them were this one.

I still don't understand why it's number one, but here you go. Apparently you like it. A lot.

Now, go have some fish for dinner. It's brain food, you know.

(Originally posted August 10, 2009)

Taking care of business *Edited*.

Did you know I thought you spelled business buisness up until about a year ago? I did. Sad, I know.

Anyway, I need to take care of a little business, but if you stick it out and keep reading, there's a tale from Wal-Mart at the end.

Business Item #1:

*Based on e-mail response, it apparently wasn't clear that this item of business should be read with a heavy dose of sarcasm. SARCASM, people!!*

It has been brought to my attention that several people have been offended because my friends and I refer to ourselves as The Fat Frumpy Five (FFF). First of all, really? Really? Why on Earth do you care? Is it because of the terms fat and frumpy or is it because we said "five," making it appear we're some uber-exclusive club?

Here's the deal: We are fat and frumpy. Maybe we're not always fat or always frumpy, but I'm sure even supermodels have days when they feel fat and/or frumpy. We choose to embrace our inner fat frumpiness. Get over it.

If it's because of the Five aspect, I'd like to remind all the offended parties that we only became a fivesome because we were never invited to take part in the other girls' reindeer games. The only difference between our "clique" and your "cliques" is that we gave ours a name and didn't pretend it didn't exist. Don't be jealous of our creativity.

However, in the interest of keeping the peace, The FFF has decided that we will change our name, eliminating the elitist "five" from our nomenclature. Henceforth we shall be known as The BFFs. Big. Fat. Frumpies.

Is that better?

Business Item #2:

As today is our first day of school, I'd like to remind you that Ashbellum began at 4:00. I hope you're not working!

Business Item #3:

Bad Girl's book club, right here, Saturday the 15th. We're reading The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds.

O.K., and now for the promised Wal-Mart story.

Click on this for a larger view. It's worth it.

I was in line today and the woman in front of me was chatting up the cashier. I'm basing this solely on memory, but it's as close to word for word as I can get.

"Hoo boy, it's going to be hot today. I was going to go down and fish in the pond by Joseph's Creek, but I don't know. Maybe we'll just go to Red Lobster. I got me a coupon in the mail. I need me some fish. I'm taking a GED class and fish is brain food. Ain't no lie. I been eatin' fish for two weeks and my test scores went up. Brain food, fish is. That's why them Japanese are so smart. Daddy don't like it much, but since he ain't got no teeth he can't eat red meat. Sos I make him eat the fish. I'm the one doin' the cookin' , sos he eats the fish or he goes hungry. Sometimes I'll fry him up a pork chop and put it in the blender with some gravy. It makes it like mulch, but he ain't got no teeth and he loves them pork chops. I tell him the fat will just kill him faster. Maybe that's why he wants it. Fish, now. Fish is good for the heart, too. That's why them Japanese live so long. They're smart and live longer than roaches. It's because of the fish, I'm tellin' ya."



(Note: I no longer live there. And one of the few things I miss is the free entertainment of a rural Georgia Wal-Mart. Also, I've gotten some e-mails over the years complaining that I'm making fun of the way Southern black people speak. For the record, fish lady was white. That's just how a lot of Southerners speak. I'm not sure why people think it's racial. The further South you get, and the further from a major city, the less grammatically correct the spoken language, regardless of skin color. I mean, isn't it kind of racist that you assumed it was a black person?)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Could be hormones, could just be that you're a jerk.

So, I've had a bad couple of days, internets. I should warn you upfront that this is pretty much just going to be a premenstrual pity party.

I feel kind of picked on this week. Like the kid at school whose friends suddenly turn on them and start stealing their lunch money and giving them wedgies. Except that instead of school it's Facebook. And instead of wedgies it's judge-y private messages.

I know. I'm going to be that person who whines about people being mean to them on Facebook. It's O.K. if you want to leave now.

First, I commented on a friend's picture. The comment was mildly insulting, but it was a joke. It's just how it goes--I insult her, she says something to make me feel sexually uncomfortable and it all works out in the end. She knows I'd give her one of my kids' kidneys if she needed one (What? I need mine). But a well-meaning mutual friend messaged me and chastised me for being cruel and questioned why this person remained my friend.

Which then made me question if my friend really did know I was kidding. Sometimes I can be really oblivious. If this random person who doesn't really talk to either of us thinks I'm mean, maybe I am. So I asked. She knew I was kidding. It was all fine. And then she made me feel sexually uncomfortable again. (Not really, but I'm sure it's coming.) (That's what she said.) (Sorry.)

But I stayed annoyed about it. I was annoyed that this person stuck her nose in my business, but more annoyed that I let it make me doubt myself.

Then yesterday I posted about an incident with Ben. The incident doesn't matter. It wasn't a huge deal--I just wanted to know if my reaction was warranted. Through the course of the comments I said something that was apparently akin to sacrificing puppies in a pagan ritual.

I came home from running errands to find several messages from people telling me I was a bad, bad person. I don't love God and I'm selfish and really, I shouldn't be allowed to breathe their air.

You should probably know that this was about cleaning a church bathroom. So, yeah. Not helping to clean the public bathrooms once a month is right up there with, I don't know...murder or not liking Jell-O.

(And there's no need to comment on church bathroom cleaning policies. It's not about that. I was just making a point about how trivial a thing it was that caused so many mean spirited messages.)

The thing with Facebook is that these are friends. I don't randomly friend people for the sake of friending them. In fact, I almost never send friend requests (so if you've gotten one from me, consider yourself special because it meant I liked you enough to put aside my social anxiety and fear of rejection to send the request. Usually I just sit back and hope people send me a request).

I get nasty e-mails ALL THE TIME from this blog, but they rarely bother me. They're strangers, and more often than not, they're commenting on something I cared about two years ago but that they just barely found and read.

But the messages I got on Facebook were from people I know. People I kind of like. So it sucked a lot more.

And I know that people think it's better to send a private message when they have an issue with you. Normally I might agree. But sometimes I wish people would air their grievances publicly in the comments so that everyone else could see what jack-wagons they are.

Oh, and as the final cherry on top of the self esteem crushing sundae Facebook has been this week, I discovered that several family members have un-friended me. I went to send one a message to ask about a recipe and discovered we were no longer friends. I know sometimes Facebook does weird things and it could have been unintentional. But then I noticed that that whole branch of my family tree had un-friended me. Nice. I know who's off the Christmas card list this year. Sucks to be them, because my Christmas cards are going to be awesome this year.

I should wrap this up with some sort of resolution to stay of Facebook or how I'm not going to let jerks on my friend list get me down, I wasn't really going anywhere with this.

I just wanted to vent. Sorry.

(That's what he said!)