Monday, August 30, 2010

How to Embarrass Your Teenager

A couple of years ago my oldest daughter started middle school.

That was part of her transition from Sweet Little Girl to Evil Teenager. It’s a process, I’m sorry to report, that seems to have come to completion.

Anyways, before school began the administration sent out a letter saying that parents would be allowed to attend with their sixth graders on the first day. The letter said that parents were “encouraged to share” this happy day with their children, and were invited to go from class to class with their student to help ease the transition into middle school, and reduce the stress of the first day.

As I have not forgotten the experience of being a middle-schooler myself, this letter caused me to laugh out loud.

When I was in sixth grade, I’m pretty sure nothing could have made my first day MORE stressful than having my MOM along!

So I decided to share the chuckle with my daughter, by reading her this letter aloud and pretending I might actually accept the school’s invitation.

As I was reading, her eyes got so huge I thought they might pop out of her head.

It was hysterical.

I let her mouth hang open in horror a few seconds before letting her know I wasn’t planning on going along with her to middle school.

I think her relieved sigh was heard for miles around.

It turned out that one or two clueless parents actually DID take the school up on this offer, however.

Sure stinks to be THAT kid!

Well, I am bringing this up because I just recently read a review of a new parenting book called “My Teenage Werewolf” by Lauren Kessler.

This is totally real; NO LIE!

Allow me to quote from the version:

(I capitalized some phrases for emphasis. You’ll have to add the tone of horrified incredulity yourself.)

“Kessler, the author of five narrative nonfiction books, explores the mother/daughter relationship at a PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE POINT—the cusp of her daughter's entry into adolescence. At 12, Lizzie is often at odds with her author mom, who describes her chilly relationship with her own mother. Not wanting to repeat a distant and dissatisfying relationship with her offspring, Kessler decides to dive into her daughter's world. She embeds herself in middle school, FOLLOWING LIZZIE FROM CLASS TO CLASS, probing her peer relationships, online pastimes and cyberfriends, athletic and summer camp life….Mothers of girls in particular will be alternately amused, horrified, and entertained as they view the turmoil and triumphs of adolescence from Kessler's insightful perspective.”

Oh. My. Gosh.

I could NOT make this stuff up, people!

It REALLY stinks to be THAT kid!

What could be worse than a distant and dissatisfying relationship with your mother, Ms. Kessler?

Hmmm…how about a mom stuck to your left arm like a LIMPET all through middle school?

Of course I had to share this story with my (now 13-year-old) daughter too.

She agreed this woman makes me look like Mother of the Year.

I know that’s not much of a compliment, but I’ll take what I can get.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Solitaire was a Laura Branigan Song

Bicycle Guardians Playing CardsSo, I learned to cheat at computer solitaire. Is that pathetic or what?

I like to play spider solitaire, and it always bugged me that I had such a low win ratio on my statistics, which the computer helpfully flashes up EVERY TIME a game ends.

I discovered that when I save a game in progress, it is saved until I replace it with another saved game. EVEN IF I’ve already played that game to completion.

So all I have to do to up my win ratio is to save an almost-won game, and keep playing it over and over.

I have now played the end of the same game about ten times.

It’s really helping my stats.

Seriously, though, IS that pathetic?

Wait. Don’t answer that….

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Me vs. Nature

So on Thursday I went on a hike.

Yes, ME. I know it’s shocking.

All right, close your mouth now.

What happened was, on Monday my friend told me there is a beautiful hike she takes up every day in the mountains near here. And I said casually, “I’d like to see where that is. It sounds nice.” And she said, “Come with me later this week.”

You see how expressing a passing interest in something can get you into trouble?

She told me it wasn’t particularly stroller-friendly and suggested we meet on Thursday morning when I’d already told her the twins would go to the daycare center on post.

So, I said I was game. After all, my excuses had all been removed at this point: I’d already said that the twins would be taken care of, and that I didn’t have anything in particular to do. So, short of breaking my ankle between Monday and Thursday, I was stuck going on a hike.

Okay, I’m making this sound like I didn’t want to go. Which to be truthful, I didn’t.

But I knew that I SHOULD want to go. Because I really do need to get more exercise, and all of that.

However, I’m not exactly what you call a fitness enthusiast.

(Note to self: Write that last sentence down on my list of nominations for Understatement of the Year.)

Anyways, I know it’s always more fun to exercise with a friend. So on Thursday morning we set off.

On a hike.

(Sorry to reiterate; I still can’t believe I actually DID this!)

Conversation in the car winding our way up the mountain:

Rain Forest in Akaka Falls State Park, Hawaii - Peaceful Photographic Print by Brendan Reals
My Friend: (Experienced Hiker) The trail is in a loop. It takes me about two hours to do the whole hike.

Me: (Vastly Inexperienced Hiker) Um, how FAR is that?

My Friend: About six miles, I think.

Me: uh….

I’m thinking, will I make it off this mountain alive?

My friend is Korean. We were accompanied by another woman, a Cambodian, and an older Korean man, who is a Tae Kwon Do instructor.

I mention that everyone but me is Asian just to give you a picture:

Me=Big Hulking White Chick.

Them=All at least four inches shorter than me; MIGHT weigh as much as me if you stacked them all up on a scale at once.

Also I am the youngest of the group by at least ten years.

Despite my relative youth, they kick my BUTT at hiking. Big time.

I spend most of the time stravaging along behind them, feeling like Hurley at the beginning of “Lost,” dragging behind Jack and Kate like T.P. from a shoe.

Actually the whole hike I kept thinking of “Lost” because everything looked like it does on the show. Not surprising since it was filmed here on O’ahu, right?

(Please forgive me the Lost references; my husband and I have been watching the show on Netflix. BTW, we are only on Season Three, so please do NOT tell me what happens at the end!)

Anyhow, the hike: Narrow mountain trail, sharp drop-offs, slippery mud, lots of tree roots and fallen logs crisscrossing the path.

In short, it was not only a hard hike, it was one big tripping hazard.

I was struggling, not only to keep up, but to not fall down while doing it.

Also, since it was all on a loop, once I was on, there was no way to go but forward.

At one point my foot slipped as I was clambering gracelessly over a fallen tree, but I caught myself. My friends’ faces blanched, then cleared when I announced I was okay.

The three of us women rested a moment after that. (Mr. Tae Kwon Do was often well ahead of us, likely regretting his choice to hike with the ladies, or at least THIS lady)  I made a joke about how it would be tough for them to have to carry me out if I hurt myself.

They exchanged panicked looks.

Finally one of them ventured, “We could call 911...”

1/48 Scale Franklin Mint "Hero in the Sky" Bell UH-1B Fire and Rescue Helicopter Limited EditionI didn’t have the heart to tell them there was no way an ambulance could reach us either, and I doubt they’d send a rescue chopper for a fat chick with a sprained ankle.

Anyways we kept walking after that, and I concentrated on placing one foot in front of the other and NOT falling down.

Some of the time I barely refrained from lying down in the mud and calling, "Just leave me to DIE!"

Most of the time I couldn’t see much about where we were; there were a lot of trees on both sides, but every once in a while we’d come to a place where you could see down the mountain. I was shocked to see how high up we were.

That’s when my friend mentioned that some people get altitude sickness when they were up so high. I laughed, “So THAT’S why I’m so out of breath, not because I’m so out of shape, right?”

She didn’t comment.

In any case, I made it back down. And the hike only took me three hours. More or less.

If it really was Me vs. Nature, I can't say who won. I do know I brought quite a bit of nature home with me: mud, leaves, etc.

On the way back, my friend said, “You might be a little sore later.”

Forgive me a Miley Cyrus moment: “Ya THINK?!”

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Fish Story

Goldfish in Bowl mousepad, mouse pad, mousemat [Office Product]My niece, who is in college, was watching her friend’s fish over the summer.

That means, all summer long, she’s feeding the fish, and cleaning their tank, and all the other stuff you do for a totally boring pet like a fish.

As the summer drew to a close, she was looking forward to turning the fish to their rightful owner.

And then ONE WEEK before school started back, the fish died.


First off, a fish is The Most Thankless Pet on Earth. I mean, really! A pet you can only look at, never touch? It’s the animal equivalent of that china doll your great-aunt got you for Christmas as a kid.

Beth Little Women Madame Alexander DollLittle Girl: Ooh, what a pretty doll!

Great Aunt: Now don’t play with it; you just let it sit on this high shelf and look at it!

Little Girl: What the heck kind of present is THAT to give a kid?

(Little Girl earns a spanking, or a turn in the Uncoopertive Chair, depending on progressiveness of parents.)

So, to recap: My niece is stuck taking care of the fish for three months, and WHAM! It kicks the bucket right before she’s supposed to give it back.


She might as well have just killed it on Day One, because it would have been the same result then as the one she’s getting now.

Dead Fish=1
Good Friend Points=0

Now THAT stinks!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What We Learned This Summer.... in Pictures

Well, summer is over. But I've got a few pictures to prove it really happened.

And we learned a few interesting lessons along the way.

For example, this lovely group shot I call "Just Be Still For Five Minutes, Kids! It's All I'm Asking!"

We were all dressed up for a wedding (I had on MAKE-UP, for goodness' sake!), standing on a beautiful beach, and all I wanted was a nice family picture.Could they co-operate for once?

As you can see, they couldn't do it. Not really a new lesson, but it just seems to keep cropping up.

We also learned that you can still have a nice wedding on the beach, even during the worst oil leak on the Gulf Coast ever.

I know, I posted this picture before, but aren't they PRETTY?

Some of the kids were exposed to new technology this summer as well.

Baby Boy enjoyed perusing the features of the new iPhone when it came out in July. I think he learned a lot.

We also visited a science museum, just to keep up our education during the break from school.

There were plenty of cool things to see there.

Here we learned about air-conditioning. It's better when every child has her own.

Also we explored the use of a green screen in weather broadcasting.

Everyone was amazed by the effect caused by my green shirt.  It was all very interactive.

Later I was able to beam the three older kids off the planet.

Okay, not really. They're all still here.

We learned some other things this summer, too.

My mom taught us that pyrex dishes are only for the oven, not the stove.

There was a minor explosion.

(My husband explained to me, in a scientific way, why this happened.I regret I cannot relay this information now, however, due to the humming noise that appears in my ears when he talks about things like this. By which I mean, boring things. Sorry.)

Of course, we also did regular summer things, such as look for shells...

...And have a picnic on the beach...

(Peanut butter and jelly tastes better with sand in it!)

....And blow bubbles. (The twins had a little help from their aunt.)

(I think Baby Girl is testing the non-toxicity of the bubble solution. Good news! It's okay!)

Also the twins learned the fun of riding the dinosaur train at the mall with their sister.

Okay, there's no scientific lesson in riding a train around a group of anamatronic dinosaurs next to a glass elevator. But aren't they cute?

And the last lesson of the summer: Always have your camera ready, because you never know when a great photo opportunity will crop up.

You might be a redneck if your neighbor lets his dog drive his jeep.

I just couldn't resist this picture. I mean, a pink stretch limo? REALLY?

All in all, a pretty good summer. How was yours?

Monday, August 23, 2010

What's Your Favorite Bible Verse? IDK...

Holy Bible, Giant Print Presentation Edition: King James VersionRecently I was in a group of ladies from the chapel here on post. We were supposed to be talking about our favorite Bible verses.

Of course, I hadn’t done my homework on this, and was hoping I wouldn‘t be called on to answer.

Not that I don’t have a favorite Bible verse; it’s just that…Well, okay, I guess I don’t have a favorite Bible verse. I tend to give a different answer every time I’m asked this question. But anyways, I digress.

One of the newer ladies said her favorite verse was Colossians 3:6.

As she began quoting it, I got out my Bible to follow along. She was talking about how the verse had really spoken to her, and reminded her of all the fellowship and good friends she’d had at church she’d attended at her last duty station.

That sounds like a nice verse, I thought as I reached Colossians chapter 3.

I looked down at verse 6 and read, “Because of these things, the wrath of God is coming.”

What?! I read it again.

Okay, verse 6... “Because of these things, the wrath of God is coming.” Yep. That’s what it said.

I looked back up at the lady who was speaking, thinking, What kind of fellowship was THAT?

Then I thought, Maybe she's just being equal-opportunity. I mean, those wrath-of-God verses never get any airplay these days.

No, obviously I knew either I had misheard or she’d misspoken the number.

As she quoted the whole verse again, I began scanning the chapter.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

Aha! It was verse 16! I had just heard wrong.

The Bible for DummiesAnd it WAS a nice verse.

And I thought, Now to find something else good real quick before it’s my turn. Perhaps the book on the right would not come amiss...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Too Many Kids, Obviously...

So yesterday I lost Boo for a while.

Don't worry, I got her back.

It was just that I was ready to take GG to her guitar lesson, and Boo was inside a friend's house instead of at the playground like I thought, so she did not come when I called her.

I was also distracted by the fact that my kitchen sink had been stopped up all day (standing water mixed with food scraps--ewwww), and the repairman arrived just as I was getting ready to leave, and ET's friend had also just arrived for a visit as well.

So I delegated. I sent GG to look for Boo. She came back with a shrug and a casual, "Couldn't find her."

By this time my husband had arrived home, so he could babysit the repairman (and the twins!). Which was great. Except that I couldn't leave until Boo was accounted for.

So ET rolled her eyes and said she and her friend would go find Boo.

In the meantime I quizzed GG on exactly where she had looked for Boo. It turned out she had not canvassed the homes of all four friends in the area; she had only checked one house. So I sent her out to look again, and resumed hollering Boo's name.

At that point Boo popped her head out of her friend's upstairs window, and I called GG back.

So we were ready to go, except for the fact that ET was still out looking for Boo. I texted her, "Got Boo," (the best way to communicate with ET--she NEVER ignores a text) and waited in the yard for her to get back.

While I was standing there my neighbor walked up. I told her I was waiting for a child I had sent out to look for another child, and that we were going to take a third child to her lesson.

After she deciphered THAT statement, she joked, "Well, you know what the problem is. You just have too many kids! There's no one to blame but yourself for that one!"

I laughed, but really. Is five SO many? We're not the Duggars here, you know.

Who are, by the way, according to the latest issue of "People" magazine (currently sitting in my bathroom), ready for MORE kids!

So ET finally showed up, all in a snit because she'd climbed a fence while looking for Boo and gotten dirt on her skinny jeans.

Well, who asked you to CLIMB A FENCE?! I mean, really, in what universe is that necessary?

Then she spent the next ten minutes complaining about having to look for Boo, and suggesting various punishments Boo should receive for inconveniencing her so severely.

Thanks SO MUCH for the parenting advice, 13-year-old child!

I told her that when she had her own kids she could punish them all she wanted, but to please STOP telling me how to raise mine.

She retorted, "Don't WORRY Mom, I'm not going to HAVE any kids! Thanks to YOU! You just have TOO MANY!"

So I've been told....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Short and Sad Tale (With Photos!)

Folk Art Acrylic Paint 2 Ounces - ThicketToday GG had a friend over and they decided to do some painting.

Since the twins were taking a nap and couldn't get into the paint, I said it was okay as long as they cleaned up after themselves.

So they painted until the friend left, and GG only had to be reminded twice to clean up. Which was not too bad.

Or so I thought.

But then I got the twins up from their nap. I changed their diapers and deposited them over the gate into the living room while I went to the bathroom.

I came back a minute or two later to Boo screaming, "The babies have a bottle of paint! The babies have a bottle of paint!"

I yelled to GG, "How could the babies have PAINT when you CLEANED IT ALL UP?!"

I entered the kitchen to find Baby Girl and Baby Boy, who were still in their church clothes, on the floor amid drops and smears of black paint. Baby Girl was still holding the offending bottle, and GG was frantically trying to wipe the floor and Baby Boy's hands with a paper towel.

Boo was still sounding the alarm.

Apparently, GG had left an almost-empty bottle of black paint on the counter instead of putting it in the trash can as she'd planned. As I may have mentioned before, EVERYTHING on the kitchen counter is vulnerable to baby attack.

Did I mention Baby Girl was still in her church dress? Her HAND-SMOCKED and BEAUTIFUL church dress?!

Let's hope for GG's sake that this comes clean.

Baby Girl knew she'd done SOMETHING wrong, but she figured she could get by on her general cuteness.

As in, "How could this sweet little face have EVER done ANYTHING bad?"

But GG is in big trouble here!

It's looking doubtful if she'll EVER be allowed to paint again.
She declined to be interviewed for this story, and refused to be photographed.
I guess she realizes she just can't put a positive spin on this one...

"No pictures, PLEASE!"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Have a Pleasant Dining Experience

Kids Eat Free Extra Wide Swooper Feather Business FlagSo we decide to go out to dinner.

I had a meeting to go to and didn’t get back until after five…I don’t really feel like starting dinner so late…I don’t have anything thawed….

All right, all right, enough excuses! I’m LAZY and I want to go OUT! Is that so terrible?

So to justify the whole thing I want to pick a “kids eat free” place.

First I go to Yes, that is a real website. No, there is no free food on it.

In fact, it’s not very helpful. For Hawaii it only gives the names of hotels where kids are free. Because everyone in this state is on vacation I guess!

(See my previous rant [“Crib Tents I Love Thee”] on how Hawaii is still PART OF THE UNITED STATES, PEOPLE!)

So I just check some restaurant websites because I think I remember someone around here having a kids eat free promotion going on.

IHOP Gift CardAnd there it is! It’s IHOP!

So off we go.

Now, let me just say, when a family of seven enters a restaurant, especially when included in that number is a pair of toddlers, the noise level in the place goes up two or three notches right off.

And that’s just walking IN!

So we finally get ourselves all seated.

Hostess: You need TWO highchairs?
Me: Um, yes. There‘s TWO babies here!

By the way, we didn't actually GET two highchairs. we got a highchair and a booster seat. Here's Baby Girl bouncing on the seat, filled with glee over her freedom.

Baby Boy didn't care much for the situation.

Then we have to get everyone to order.

That seems like such a simple proposition, doesn’t? Well, it isn’t.

Waitress: Can I get you guys something to drink?
Me: I’ll have a diet coke and two milks for the babies.
My Husband: I’ll have water.
ET: (looking up briefly from texting and using the minimum words possible) Diet coke. (going back to texting)

Pause. Silence. Waitress looks expectantly at the children.

Me: (sigh) Boo, what do you want to drink?
Boo: (something unintelligible)
Me: What?
Boo: (whispers to me) Hot chocolate.
Me: (to waitress) She’ll have hot chocolate.

Pause. Silence. We all look at GG.

Me: (sigh) GG, what do you want to drink?
GG points to the menu.
Me: No, not what do you want for dinner; what do you want to DRINK?

GG gets out the menu again. I am briefly distracted by Baby Boy shrieking for no apparent reason (maybe he's still mad over being the only twin stuck in a highchair) and when I come back to the conversation the waitress is walking off.

Me: Did you ever order a drink, GG?

GG shoves the menu towards me and points again. She has ordered some specialty drink called “Minionade,” one of their promotions from the movie “Despicable Me.” It’s just like lemonade, only twice as expensive, with a cool name and something sprinkled on top.

Way to slip one by Mom there, kid.

Here's a photo of Boo drinking the Minionade. Yep. GG didn't even FINISH it!

Ordering food progresses in much the same way, with the added twist of the waitress thinking I want a kids’ meal instead of an adult meal. Maybe because there are so many kids.

Or maybe because I ordered the chicken fingers.

Hey, you don’t have to be a kid to love chicken fingers!

The food comes in a fairly timely manner and we continue to be our noisy selves. Baby Boy and Baby Girl shriek intermittently. The kids engage in their usual dinnertime activities: insulting each other, making rude noises, and occasionally attempting to use each other for footstools.

And these are GIRLS! I can’t imagine what a bunch of sons would be like!

The nice quiet (normal) family at the next table is starting to look as if they’d like to flee.

We are seated in an oversized booth with parents on the outside, so OF COURSE every child in the family has to get up to use the bathroom. Some of them twice.

Boo tries the climb-under-the-table technique of getting out of the back of a booth, popping up in the aisle in front of a lady heading for the door, who jumps in surprise.

Then after the poor woman was nearly frightened to death by a kid rising from the floorboards, she trips and nearly falls over the shoe Baby Boy had flung into the aisle.

Here's a photo of Baby Boy chuckling over the whole thing.

Yes, we can really enhance everyone’s dining experience when we go out.

By the time we are (finally) ready to go, I think the manager was reconsidering that “kids eat free” promotion.

I mean, are we REALLY the kinds of people the restaurant wants to attract?

Oh, by the way, here's GG in the car on the way home.

I forgot to take her picture in the restaurant. Because she was in the bathroom. Again.