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Kids these days need to just deal.

Take your lumps. Suck it up. You know. Kids these days are coddled. What, with their Starbucks and iPads. Often I play good cop/bad cop by myself not just with James. And yes, I’m talking about parenting, not our bedroom secrets.

My parents raised me with respecting me as a person. Not the ‘children should be seen and not heard’ method. They respected us as individuals, people with independent thoughts and needs. There was little tolerance for any misbehaving. We were given expectations and we met them. But we were also nurtured and loved openly with affection, affirmation and freedom.

With that said, I try to incorporate that into the upbringing of my children.

But gosh darn, this day and age is making it really difficult. I’ve been clear before in posts that I don’t sugar coat my parenting much. Yes, my children have it good. They know this too. Which is what I think, eliminates them from being spoiled. I think ‘spoiled’ is when kids have it good, don’t appreciate they have it so good and are rude and disrespectful to those around them, misbehave and act entitled. This does not describe my children (most of the time). BUT every now and then, Ugly Mommy comes out. I will lose my temper, raise my voice and scream something like, “Get your little self up to bed before you really regret it!” or “Don’t make me take away your cell phone!”. “If you use that tone of voice with me, you will be sorry you were born!” Which is really a stupid thing to say since I brought them in to this world. I don’t think children need to be beholden to their parents for giving them life. They didn’t ask for it. You choose them (sort of), they don’t get to choose you.

Also, I am not afraid of saying no. There are a lot of books on this, articles on this and I can give you the 101 in two words. Say no.

Saying NO makes the YES that much sweeter. I say no when I think there’s any chance my child might get kidnapped or hit by a car. I say no when it doesn’t work out with the family’s plan, makes (too much) extra work for me, interferes with school, or is expensive.

Mom, can I go to the ice rink at 10 on a Friday night. No.

Mom, can I walk to Blockbuster with so-and-so. No.

Mom, can I go with so-and-so and her mom to the mall and help her pick out a new outfit. Yes.

Oh thank you, you’re the best.

Mom, I don’t like this zucchini, can I have carrots instead- YES. (I hate zucchini too)

Pick your battles.

So your daughter wants to wear a shirt that says, “I’m too pretty for homework”. Uhm, this is a NO. It falls in the ‘interferes with school’ category.   She wants to color her hair with a streak of hot pink on the side. Sure. This isn’t permanent (tatt00 or piercing permanent), doesn’t cause harm, and isn’t that expensive. Pick your battles.

Wasn’t that easy?

Principles of lumping it:

If you are at Starbucks and the pastries in the case are not what you are looking forward to, i.e. lemon pound cake- you will not cry or whine. You choose something else, or do without.

If the XBOX game you got for Christmas is too hard to do without dad’s help- you will not whine and throw the controller into the couch. You will take a breath, take a break, and wait for daddy to come home from work to play it with you.

If your cell phone runs out of charge because you left it by your bedside to text your friends late at night, it is not your mom’s fault.

If the show you DVR’d on Nickelodeon or Discovery didn’t get recorded because of mommy’s recording of Whitney- we do not throw a fit.

It’s clear to everyone in this household that really, I am the only one who can throw fits. Usually about two days out of the month I go all ‘honey badger’ on the family. It’s not too bad really. It keeps them on their toes.  I don’t like to yell. It tires me out and makes me feel awful. Especially when Owen gets tears in his eyes and looks at me like I kicked a puppy. He’s very sensitive and always tells me, ‘mom you don’t have to scream at me, just ask nicely’.

I hate it when they’re right.

Things you’ll do because you are parents

I’m using someone else’ s blog as a springboard per se, for this blog post. He had a list of things you would never do since you became parents. Then he made a list of things you NEVER thought you would do but have done and don’t think twice about,  since becoming parents.

Here are my additions to that list:

1. catch puke in your hands. (not your puke)

2. catch puke in your hands while riding in the car. (again, not your puke)

3. put boogers in your pockets, not your boogers, your kids’ that they’ve handed to you.

4. use spit as a universal cleaner.

5. lick your fingers and use them to wipe on your kids face to get off whatever it is- boogers, chocolate, ketchup…

6. go to the bathroom while breast feeding a baby.

7. go to the bathroom while breast feeding a baby and talking on the phone

8. not be phased that there’s children’s underwear, chewed gum, Legos or My Little Pony figures or countless other pieces of random crap in your pockets or purse.

9. lie (what do you mean by this you ask? Answer- Tooth Fairy, Santa, Easter Bunny…need I say more?).

10. tell your son that the funny q-tips in the blue box under the bathroom sink are only for mommies. Touch them and your ears will fall off.

11. Lie again. i.e.- ‘sorry, we are all out of batteries in every shape and kind that would provide power to that remote control car with sound effects and horns’.

12. Assemble a 1200 piece Playmobil pirate ship in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, for four hours while drinking a bottle of single malt scotch.

13. Take a catnap while stopped at a traffic light (see number 12).

14. Disguise pureed spinach in cookies you bake.

15. Go out on a date night and be home in bed by 10:30.

16. Cry at every Pampers commercial.

17. Cringe at every Cialis commercial you watch with your son during Monday Night Football.

18. Pretend the sounds coming from your bedroom at night that your son walks in on and hears from his room, is just the neighbors dog having a tummy ache.

19. Steal KitKats and Twix from your kids’ Halloween baskets and hide it in the pantry behind the bag of Kale Chips.

20. Leave the house without brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or changing your underwear and not really care because sometimes getting out alive is all that matters.

Dedicated to Ashley

It’s been two + years my dear friends, the Lefkows, have endured a battery of Leukemia treatments for their little girl, Ashley. I’ve blogged before about cancer since I know many who are fighting cancer, have lost the fight to cancer, or have lost a loved one to cancer. So this is for Ashley and her journey. Normally I would say, “Hey cancer- knock, knock, mother f****r”, but this is about a 6 year old girl so I will keep the swear words to potty talk only.

Hey Cancer, you’re a poopy headed, boogery fart-face that needs to go down the toilet!

This week marks the end of her treatment, the end of daily chemo pills and weekly/monthly  trips to Children’s Hospital to access her port. The end of a lot for her mom and dad and big brother. But the start of something wonderful. Life as it should be.

I remember September of 2009, the text I got from her mom, my good friend Christin- it said, “she has Leukemia”. My knees buckled and my head started to swim. I have no idea what they were going through on that day. I can’t imagine getting that call from the doctor. Immediately they began her treatments, surgeries and making Children’s Hospital in Seattle their reluctant, second home.

There were late night fevers and trips to the ER, oh, on Christmas EVE mind you. There was the ongoing and whole summer of surgery and C. difficile. If you don’t know what it is- Google it. Nasty stuff. There was the steroids. Which was like having a pot smoking teenage wrestler in your house in the middle of the night with the munchies- 2 am nachos, sliders, ramen noodles, scrambled eggs, hash browns and waffles, for a SNACK!

The good thing about something awful happening to your life is that there’s a bunch of people that will come to help you. The Lefkows used all their connections and community that was there for them and turned it into a foundation to help others. Within months after starting treatments at Children’s, they began Ashley’s Team. A non-profit that gets video games, dvd’s, iPods, and other games and toys of entertainment for patients and their families. It’s not research, it’s not ground breaking medicine, but it makes those 72 hours, 12 hours or even 4 hours, that much better for everyone involved with the treatment of a child. Can you imagine what it’s like sitting in a hospital for 8 hours while your child is waiting for test results and you have their siblings with you bored out of their minds? Me neither. And God help me that I never do.

They used their company, Bacon Salt to promote a Bacathalon fundraiser that raised thousands of dollars for Ashley’s Team! It was a crazy bacon-eating contest, tricycle riding obstacle course of madness and Makers Mark, but hey- it worked!

Ashley today with blond, luscious locks, and her new kitty, Payton.

Little girls should be able to play, to wear their hair long and pretty in braids and pigtails if they want to, instead of wearing non-itchy fleece hats on their bald little peach-fuzzed heads.  They should get to go to a playarea or a birthday party without worry of infection.  They shouldn’t  have to worry about the sore on their leg that’s gotten infected. (oh that’s a whole other story!) But there’s millions of families dealing with this very crap. And for that I am truly sorry.

The blessing of Ashley’s story is that all her treatments at Children’s worked with textbook effectiveness. They can gratefully say she is cancer free. Which is like telling Leukemia it’s a poopy-headed fart-face. See ya Mother Fucker. Oh crap- and I was SO NOT going to swear!

But for today, it’s hooray for Ashley and her family of Christin, Dave, and her super awesome brother, Dean (7) to say- We did it.

I love you guys.

********

If you want to contribute to Ashley’s Team check out their website http://www.ashleysteam.org

Families need financial help for uncompensated care, if you’d like to help with this you can donate to http://www.miraclehouseguild.org

If you’d like to check out Bacon Salt, they’re pretty cool too. http://www.baconsalt.com

Stupid Christmas commercials like cars with bows and jewelry on the tree.

You know those commercials where the wife goes outside on Christmas morning. It’s snowing, she’s dressed perfectly with makeup on like a Kardashian, and everything, probably wearing a pretty mohair sweater, that’s white, yeah, cuz moms always wear fuzzy, WHITE sweaters, and there sits a new SUV with a big red bow on it. Or the jewelry commercial where the guy is hanging the ring box on the tree and says so smoothly, ‘ OH, what could THIS ornament be?? Why, maybe YOU should open it’.  Gag.

If you find those commercials nauseating too, raise your hand. Thank you.

I’m not sure why those jewelry and car commercials at Christmas time drive me batnuts. Is it because that will never happen to me? Am I jealous? I shouldn’t say never. Maybe one day, James and I will hit pay dirt and he’ll buy me a Mercedes for Christmas and put it in the driveway with a big red bow. And Hugh Jackman will step out of it with a cup of espresso and whisk me away to Australia to be on his Oprah reunion special. I’ll be so happy and grateful, Oprah will ask to be my friend and then Gayle will get jealous and run off with Steadman. Then Oprah will just have to adopt me (and my family) because she’ll be alone and need a friend. We’ll move in to her Chicago mansion with all her dogs and read books and have Dr. Oz over to talk about our bowel movements. It will be so. much. fun.

Instead of ridiculous commercials that only cater to a small, and I mean, small demographic, let’s have a commercial where the husband gives his wife a carpet steam cleaner and an Ov Glove, or a Ped Egg. Her eyes will well up with tears and she’ll offer to do all kinds of ‘favors’ for him. Or maybe he gets her a Victoria’s Secret nightgown that’s see-thru, she can only wear when the kids are in bed and she feels like lounging in underwires and shiny, cold satin. That would be a very realistic commercial. Really.

To James’ credit, one Christmas he did give me diamond earrings. It was the Christmas Owen was a baby. Sort of a delayed Push Present maybe? If I remember correctly, I had a sinus infection and bronchitis that Christmas, which I did pretty much every Christmas the children were little. I didn’t have make up on, I was in some kind of fuzzy jammies with teapots on them, and had one of those heated rice pack thingys on my head to relieve the sinus pressure. I think I asked him to turn OFF the video camera as to NOT document this moment in history since we didn’t want to traumatize our children in the future should they happen to find the tape and see mommy with suitcases under her eyes, no voice, and heat pads on her head. No makeup, no white mohair sweater. nada. zip.

It’s okay. I’m not bitter or anything. Really.

There’s more to Christmas presents than jewelry and luxury automobiles. There’s gifts that can’t be bought in stores. They’re made with love and glue. Lots of glue.

When I unwrap one of those gifts that the kids make in class with their school picture hanging in a foamy wreath, or a  pipe cleaner tree, THOSE are the ones that make my eyes well up with tears.

I’ll take those over diamonds and German engineering any year.

And then Emma said we should get the cat a hooka

The cat and Emma were playing together. Emma was taking the soft, cushy ottoman and putting it on top of her while the cat hopped on it to chase her fingers. I thought, what cat hops up on something that a person is carrying or lying under? This cat is like a circus cat! He’s amazing! He does all sorts of weird things. He will eat Cheetos out of your hands and nibble your fingers for the orange powder residue. He likes to climb up high places, like the stair rail and bookcases.  He used to use my leg like a tree and shimmy up it when I least expected it. I imagine he would swing on a trapeze if we had one of those too. By the way, I can swing on a trapeze. But that’s not what I’m writing about.

So I said to James, “We have a perfect cat. He’s fun and does really cool stuff. Too bad he’s a little crazy. If only we could calm him down some.”

And then it occurred to me like in an Oprah A-ha moment; “Do they have cat marijuana? you know something to mellow him out, the opposite of catnip?”

James, “Kitty marijuana?? The cat needs weed??”

Me, “Yes, maybe the cat could have a mini kitty bong. Do they make those?”

James, “No, they don’t make kitty bongs.”

Me, “Oh, wait, cats don’t have lips, so they couldn’t suck from a bong or pipe anyway. OH MY GOSH, (another A-ha moment), this is totally how Lewis Carroll got the idea for the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland! We need a pipe smoking cat. That smiles.” (Somehow, I’m thinking this is not what Oprah meant as an A-ha moment.)

Emma says from the floor under the ottoman, “we should get the cat a hooka, that’s what the Cheshire cat smokes in Alice in Wonderland.” See all the practical things classical literature teaches our children??

Genius. The girl is a genius. Thankyouverymuch.

That’s Emma underneath the ottoman with Pluto the wonder cat.

I know why the holidays might suck for some of you.

We are supposed to be happy. Yeah like in Disneyland, it’s supposed to be so frickin’ fantastic. I’m tired, my kids are driving me crazy, and I can’t buy anymore of this crap. No. We’re not in Disneyland. It’s Christmas.

But there’s more to this holiday being depressing than just the nonstop Macys commercials, drippy “Christmas in the Northwest” song on the radio, getting all the crap done that everyone expects of you and if you don’t do it all, you feel less of a woman- depression.

No, I’m talking about the pain in your heart and the hole in your gut from knowing this holiday is the first since losing a loved one. Or maybe it’s the second or third since they’ve passed. How do you fake happy? How are you supposed to be cheerful and live through the four weeks (make that eight weeks thanks to the annoying mass marketing our commercial society has created…) of holiday hoo-ha?

But maybe, just maybe going through the ornaments, pulling out the photos, getting out the stocking that was theirs is like pulling off a band-aid. Painful at first, but better afterwards. Why is it the ones we love hang on through the holidays and then seem to pass in January? It seems those I know that have died and usually from cancer, have hung on to Christmas and then had to let go come January or soon after. Hanging on to spend their last holiday with family.  But no matter what time of year you’ve lost a loved one, the holidays seem to lurk and you might resent them instead of embrace them.

My friend Julie who passed away almost 10 years ago, would bake the most amazing Christmas cookies. Every Christmas I would wait for her goody bag of delicousness. That was her gift to her friends. Even when she was having chemo or recovering from a surgery, she made those cookies. Her last Christmas before she died in January, she made those cookies. I didn’t get to see her on Christmas day at my parents like we had done in years past. She was too weak.  I swung by her apartment the day after Christmas and her boyfriend gave them to me. She was sleeping he said and needed her rest. I wasn’t aware how close she was to death. I took that bag of cookies home. Inside was also a tea tin of Murchies tea from Canada. Our favorite. I had one of her biscotti and made a cup of tea. I had a cookie a day or so. Savoring each one. The powdered sugar on the wedding balls, the jam inside the cutouts, the chocolate ganache between the butter cookies…I couldn’t believe that she made them despite being so sick.

When I got the call she died on January 13, I still had cookies in the bag in my pantry. I stopped eating them. I just left them there on the shelf. I would see the bag and her handwritten note that was attached with a raffia ribbon every time I opened the pantry door. I didn’t dare move it or eat any more of those cookies. As if it was a sacred shrine to her. That the cookies were my last bit of her I had.  A whole year went by and I had those cookies in my pantry. And then one day, I thought, Julie would be so pissed if she knew I wasted those cookies!! Not only was she a stickler for neatness, she wouldn’t let anything go to waste. She had a very sophisticated palette and she kind of scared me, because everything she did was perfect. Every time she cooked it was like a Bon Appetit magazine spread. She insisted on quality and taste, never cutting corners or falling into the traps of ‘boxed’ or ‘name brands’. Heaven forbid I open a box of Kraft!!

So I took the bag and emptied the hard and crumbly cookie remains in the garbage. I apologized to the spirit of Julie, wherever she was. I kept the gift bag and the note with her handwriting among my keepsakes of cards and notes from loved ones and I drank the tea from the tin and saved it to keep more loose tea in it still today. I knew that she would’ve thought it silly not to actually EAT the cookies she baked, but she would be glad that I’m at least using the tea tin.

The pain of a friend passing is not that of a son, daughter, parent or spouse even. I won’t even pretend I know your pain.  Sometimes your sadness puts you in that dark hole of wishing everyone else wasn’t so damn happy. But then I think there’s a purpose to the world that keeps turning. With each year, the happiness can start to outshadow the sadness. Like a moon waxing from new to full. There’s a little sliver of brightness coming around with each season. It starts with darkness and ends with a ball of light.

I hope that any of you facing a painful Christmas, that first or several after, can see the light that comes around. That knows even though you are aching inside, it’s okay to be happy sometimes. It’s okay to laugh at Elf, to sing along to Perry Como or enjoy the lights on the neighbors house, to get a little tipsy at the cocktail party with friends. Because those that we miss, would want us to enjoy what probably gave them the most happiness. And for the rest of us, hopefully we can stop and appreciate the joys of the season and not just dwell on the craziness and stress.

Glee — ‘coming out’, ‘first times’ and more parental anxiety…

I let Emma (11) watch Glee. Owen, (8) does not. He doesn’t want to. And I’m so glad for now!

It’s not really his cup of tea- all that dancing and singing (snooze) and then there’s the kissing. And that’s just disgusting to an 8 year old boy.

Some parents would object to the content of Glee. It’s not all singing and dancing. It covers homosexuality, teen pregnancy, adultery, bullying and sex. Lots of undertones of sexuality.  BUT- – if you think your child isn’t mature enough for it- don’t let them watch it. But do we need to ban a show? Really people? Isn’t that the idea of parenting? I don’t let my children watch Family Guy either. I think it’s rude, offensive and vulgar. Inappropriate? Very much so. Does it have any value? No.  I think Glee does however. If it offends you- don’t watch it. But for the millions out there that gain insight, feel acceptance from it, or are just entertained by it, it’s a quality show.

I asked myself if I was comfortable with letting Emma watch a show where teenagers come to grips with their sexuality. Where teenagers realize they’re gay, and dealing with coming out to their parents, their peers and their crushes. And my answer is- yes. If there’s a vehicle of positive examples of children trying to understand all those feelings that jumble around inside of them during the teen years, then what is wrong with that? I watch it with her. We discuss the topics. If I’m uncomfortable with her seeing something, I ask myself why? She knows about the birds and the bees. That’s just the mechanics, I realize that. Nuances and romance and innuendo are entirely different! But talking about these things is what opens doors. It’s what brings children closer to their parents. Helps them trust us as confidants. It doesn’t fill their head with salacious thoughts of going out and losing their virginity!!  And isn’t it better they are talking to YOU than just the kids at school? Or they overhear disgusting ‘locker room’ talk on the bus ride or in the cafeteria? Face it- it’s out there. And some of it is shocking. So if Emma is equipped with an understanding of what is disrespectful vs. respectful and compassionate, then I don’t care if she’s 11 or 20.

Some conservative groups want Glee off the airwaves. (http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/11/08/glee-teen-sex/)

Not just because of homosexual story lines, but teen sex story lines where 16 and 17 year-olds are talking about their ‘first time’. Yes, technically they aren’t adults. They have adult raging hormones though! And if you’ve ever seen a Glee episode, there’s a lot of talking, but not a whole lot of ‘doing’. You see characters kiss, embrace on the bed, sit on the bed talking. Yes some things are implied. But yes, the characters are clothed. Most of the time the characters rethink their emotions- decide not to go through with something. Think of themselves first instead of acting out in the moment or for peer pressure. These are all things I want my children to do. Seeing the discovery process of young adults who make those important decisions can have a lasting impact. And I think for the  better more than for the worse.

We saw the Glee movie in the theaters. A lot of it was fan testimonials. There are so many kids out there that felt Glee saved their lives. They needed something to relate to, something to help them know that what they were going through was ‘normal’.

I feel I’ve been so lucky that Emma and I talk about almost everything. No topic is really off limits. She trusts me. I honor that trust and continue to do what I can to nourish the ‘talks’ we have. I hope those talks don’t end. Especially as the boyfriends start to line up!!

Thankfully, right now Owen is still in the girls are gross stage. When that changes it will be James to take the lead. Right babe? Owen is quite frank with his ‘body talk’. He asks questions and points out anatomical things for me. (Some I don’t want to know!) But I always react with respect, integrity and understand his sensitivity. He is much more private than Emma, but as long as he knows he can share when he’s ready, I’m here. And so is James. Oh thank goodness!