Monthly Archives: August 2010

All Grown Up

Once upon a time, in a magical land filled with JC Penney underwear ads and energy drinks, there lived a young lad who turned 16 and was, therefore, totally and completely grown up.  The end.
Oh wait, that must have been the liquor talking.
I keep reminding myself that when I was 16, I was fairly certain I knew everything about everything that would ever be important to me.  No need to learn more.  No need to listen to adults.  Why?  Because I already knew it all.  That’s why!
So, when faced with this particular character trait in my newly-turned-16 son, I try to do a couple of things: 1)  Don’t kill him and 2) impart wisdom whenever I think he might have an earbud out of his ear.
Let me just clarify that this post is not about Jacob.  Because I would never ever (EVER) blog about him without his permission.  Maybe.
So, let’s just call this anonymous kid Scooter.
Let me tell you what Scooter has done in the last few weeks.  I assure you, it’s been an adventure.
Scooter recently started his first job at a company that shall remain nameless, but that I shall call the Food Store.  After the first day at the Food Store, a tired and exhausted Scooter returned home.  And do you think he maybe got something to eat?  Relaxed a bit?  Oh, no, he did not.  Instead, Scooter, in his infinite wisdom, decided he should post something about his workday on facebook.  Brilliant.  And it wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t specifically mentioned the Food Store by name right before the part about how employment at the Food Store ‘sucks.’
Imagine Scooter’s horror when, within the span of 24 hours, our entire family, the assistant manager at the Food Store, and probably the mayor knew all about his little comment.
Grown-Up Lesson #1 – Stuff you post online can be seen by anyone.  If you must complain, be vague.  Very, very vague.
And here’s where we get to the next lesson.  Stuff you find online isn’t always safe or legitimate or even legal sometimes.
Therefore, if you decide you need to find a band to play in immediately, craigslist is probably not the best place to look for this band.  I know I may be behind the times and all, but when Scooter told us he’d found a new band to play with and that he’d found them on craigslist, all I could picture was a serial killer swinging an ax at Scooter—right after he had stolen all of his guitars and gear.
Grown-Up Lesson #2 – craigslist is for finding used kitchen tables.  It is not for finding new friends.  OMG, you could have gotten yourself killed!  (Excuse the brief interruption as I release the fear I have had pent up inside me since he told me about his craigslist field trip.)
I know that Scooter fancies himself all grown up now, but believe me, Scooter, there’s still a lot to learn.  Enjoy being 16—you’ll be grown up soon enough.

School Bus Envy

Jadon is angry.  He has been wronged.  The world has done him an injustice.
No, his PlayDoh did not dry out, nor did his gallon jug of bubbles spill in the grass.  What has his pull-up in a wad is the fact that Jordan gets to ride the big, yellow, beautiful, awesomely-neato school bus.  Every day.  Every.  Single.  Day.
So every day now (well, Monday through Thursday anyway), Jadon has to stand on the driveway and watch as Jordan gets swooped away by the magical bus that may as well be filled with chocolate candy bars and little powdered doughnuts…because those are the only things in the world that could possibly make the school bus seem any cooler than it already is.
Never mind the fact that his brother is going for speech and occupational therapy to get him ready for Kindergarten.  Nope, all that matters is that Jordan gets to go and he doesn’t and it’s not fair and why can’t he go and he really really wants to go pleeeeease!
And to make matters worse, do you even know what Jordan came home with after his first day at school?  Can you even guess?  And no, it wasn’t head lice, and thank Gaawd, because I totally don’t do bugs (insert eye roll and gum smack here).
Wait for it…
He came home with the most awesomely awesome magical thing he had made—which was almost as awesome as the bus.  Which ticked Jadon off even more.  He came home from school with a hand-made—complete with staples and glue and stickers and string—set of toilet-paper-roll binoculars.  Could life even BE any more UNFAIR to Jadon?
After trying to rip the binoculars away from his brother and after throwing a monumental screaming tantrum right in the middle of the living room, Jadon turned to me and said, “I want ’noculars, too.”  Sniff, sniff, snot, snot.
And so after he apologized for letting Satan take over his body for approximately two minutes, during which time he kicked and screamed and chased his brother, we decided we would make ’noculars together.
Enter Marissa, an awesome big sister and crafty girl extraordinaire.  She volunteered (ok, I bribed her) to take Jadon upstairs to make his very own set of ’noculars, which turned out more like a telescope, but whatever.  He had his very own toilet paper tube, and life was grand.
Marissa and I decided that we should probably keep the art supplies close at hand, because we’re pretty sure this is going to be a daily occurrence.  As soon as one kid comes home with a noodle necklace or a picture made with beans glued onto construction paper, the other kid is going to want one.  Man the glue bottle, Cap’n, there’s a storm a-brewin’.

Déjà Vu

It happened again.  Noooo, I did not run over the curb and flatten a tire while attempting to drive and read mail at the same time.  And neither did I leave my car running after I had locked and shut the door.  (Although I’m pretty sure that nifty feature that prevents you from doing that was invented and made standard on vehicles in my honor.)
The poop thing.  That’s what happened again.  For serious.
Why?  Why does my kid think his poop is so much better than all the PlayDoh we buy for him?  Anyway, he does.  And it is stinky and awful and messy, and WHY do we need to paint the walls with it??!!
Because of all my unanswered questions and my overwhelming desire to see this happen again, oh say, exactly never, I have done some brainstorming and come up with a list of possible fixes to this problem.  In case you or anyone you know is also dealing with a similar issue, feel free to borrow ideas from my list.
How to Get the Kid to Stop Painting the Walls With Poop
(Oh yeah, and it would also be lovely if he would quit peeing on the carpet, too.  What, did we sign up for a puppy when I wasn’t looking?)
  • Duct tape the pull-up to his little butt.  After a few layers of duct tape, it would take an act of God to get that diaper off, and that’s exactly the kind of staying power I’m looking for.
  • Stop feeding him.  I know, at first this sounds drastic.  But you know what’s really drastic?  The fact that my walls have human feces all over them!  That’s drastic.  I say, hey, a few calories less, and there will be less poop.
  • Make him wear mittens all the time.  I mean, seriously, how much fun could it be to play with your own poop if you can’t even feel its luxuriant texture?
  • Paint the walls a rich shade of chocolate brown, and use a lot of Febreeze.  No, this is not my ideal solution, but hey, we’re really getting sort of tired of cleaning the stuff.
  • Tell him Buzz Lightyear is horribly allergic to poop and he will die a terrible death if ever exposed to it.  It’s a stretch, but the kid sort of thinks the planet revolves around Buzz and Woody, so it’s worth a try.
  • Rub his nose in it.  I’ve thought of this, but I hesitate on the follow-through for a couple of reasons.  1)  He might not be all that opposed to the stench and 2) those kid protection agency nuts would probably have an issue with it (same issue with handcuffs and any other kind of restraints that might keep his hands out of his poop-laden pants).
  • Install human feces-detecting alarms that will alert us every time there is a potential incident.  I’m not sure this sort of technology exists yet, but I’m sure those CIA people can think of something.
Short of these things, I’m at a loss.  So please feel free to enlighten me with any of your poop success stories that might help in this situation.  In the meantime, I’ll let you know if any of my techniques are successful.

Profound Apology & Other Formal Stuff

Dear Ms. S (Name withheld to protect the innocent):
It is with my most sincere apologies that I write you this post-meet-the-teacher-night follow-up letter.  While it was very nice to meet you, I am sure you are still recovering, probably with a martini in one hand and a fistful of Xanax in the other.
I’m sure nothing can quite prepare you for the start of each new school year, and I wish I could tell you it was an anomaly that Jordan was able to systematically destroy your classroom in the amount of time it took us to sign the parent forms.  Had I known you were a fan of Buzz Lightyear and his posse and that you intended to decorate your classroom with these characters, I would certainly have told you about Jordan’s probable reaction.
Please forgive him for licking the window and trying to remove your Buzz and Woody clings from the opposite side of the glass to which they were actually adhered.  I assure you, he is carrying no communicable diseases, so other than the pool of drool he left behind, there should be no adverse effects.  Also, had I known you would provide coloring sheets with his favorite characters, I would have promptly mentioned his propensity to eat said coloring sheets.
As for your question regarding his lack of speech…um, that’s sort of why we’re there.  We can’t seem to make him say anything other than a few select words, so we’re hoping that you, Buzz, and the gang can somehow entice him to start chatting up a storm.
Now would also be a good time to mention that cute little-person-sized cabinet you have in your room.  Since we’ve already had to drag him out of it once, it would be good to mention that it will most likely happen again—daily.  So if you happen to look up during story time to find him missing, I would suggest checking all the cabinets first.
Finally, it was nice of you to want to take his picture with his family, but I would like to add that anything that makes him stand still for more than a tenth of a giga-second sort of tends to turn him into a short-circuited version of R2D2…but the version that would be on crack, if you can imagine that.  So in the future, if you need pictures, I would suggest maybe a high-speed lens for action shots.
I wish you the best of luck this school year.  We will have him promptly on the bus, and should you need anything from us, we’ll be available to take your calls between 8:00 p.m. and 8:05 p.m. every night.  Other than that, well, you know…that whole good luck thing again.
Sincerely,
The Stahls

Back to School

Marissa’s school was first.  Right around the corner from our house, yet I thought the poor girl would never make it through that excruciating distance without having an excitement-induced stroke.
First of all, she got the teacher she was wanting.  (Insert freakishly high-pitched girl scream here.)
And THEN, to make things even better, her two best friends, who are also our neighbors, are in the SAME!  CLASS!  OMG!  (Another long and high-pitched squeal.)
So, off we went, and when we arrived at her classroom, she instantly fell in love with her teacher all over again…because do you know what this wise, wise teacher asked her to do?  She asked her to organize her desk!
Now, this may not seem like a big thing, but for Marissa, it’s sort of like offering a crack addict a free hit.  She instantly went into some sort of alphabetizing, straightening, organizing frenzy, and I’m pretty sure that she maintained a metabolically challenging heart rate the entire time.  I swear, the girl wouldn’t have been happier if a little Leprechaun had appeared and offered her her very own sparkly unicorn.
So, we met the teacher.  We organized.  We chatted, and then we made our way to Jordan’s school, a tale that will be saved for the next entry, mostly because I want this one to be all about Marissa and how excited she is about the new school year.
I have the whole spectrum of kids when it comes to excitement about learning, by the way.  It ranges all the way from ‘OMG, I’m so excited I could just pee!’ to ‘Aw, crap, that stuff again?’
And I feel a little twinge of excitement for Marissa, because I can distinctly remember the days when it only took the smell of new erasers and paper to make me feel like I could conquer the world.  Ok, maybe I’m still a little bit like that when it’s school supply time, but I’ll never ever admit to buying new notebooks and pencils for myself in the school supply aisle.  Because that would be lame…right?  Although, there was this really cool set of sticky notes that was calling my name.
And don’t even get me started about walking into an office supply store.  It’s like Christmas.  I think my girl might just be a little like her mommy.

Enlightenment

I’m taking a quick break from painting with watercolors and singing “You Light Up My Life” to post an important message.  I have somehow managed to go 38 years without ever crossing paths with this delectable creation on which I am now munching.  38 YEARS!
How, you might ask, did she manage to live this long without being aware of the existence of the single most delicious food on the face of the entire planet?
Because that’s what I’m asking myself!  Did I not get the memo?  Did I miss an important briefing about the food that would change my life?  Evidently.
I have been eating the stuff for at least a week without knowing what it is called.  All I know is that they hand it to me in the café…and I eat it.  ‘Nuff said.
But that was not enough.  I had to know.  I absolutely could not sleep another night or eat or drink until I knew (ok, yeah, that’s the exaggeration of a lifetime, but still) what this manna from heaven is called.
Enter friend at Hallmark.  (You know who you are.)  During a casual conversation, and while taking a break from sharing scoop about all our co-workers, I happened to say something to the effect of, “Wow!  I sure wish I knew the name of this cheese.”
She gave me the what-are-you-a-moron look, but then she ever-so-nicely proceeded to tell my cheese-ignorant self that I was eating smoky gouda.
SMOKY GOUDA!  This is big.  Huge…like discovering electricity or inventing the telephone.  That kind of big.
The entire world should, right this very moment, be gnawing on a block of smoky gouda and singing “Kumbaya” while holding hands in a circle.  Eureka!  I have discovered the path to world peace.  Thank you, Universe, for cheese that tastes this gouda!  (I know, I know…funny, in a sad sort of way.)

How to Recognize a Serial Pinchfist

I would have said ‘miser’ or ‘Scrooge,’ but those have such negative connotations.  I think ‘pinchfist’ sounds ever so much better.  (Not really, but when you think about it, it’s a very descriptive word, and it works.)
Now, as you go through life, you may suspect that you have come in contact with one of these special folks, the ones who seek out the hidden pennies under the car mat or the ones who pay with nickels when pulling through their favorite fast-food haunts.  But sometimes, it can be confusing to try to identify these people, especially in current economic times.
A lot of people are saving and not spending as much.  And a lot of people are shopping for bargains.  This makes it so that the pinchfist doesn’t stand out like proverbial sore thumb like he (or she, for the sake of anonymity) used to.
For this reason, and as a public service, I have come up with a helpful list that may aid you when you are attempting to ascertain the pinchfist status of certain individuals.   If someone you know has any of the below characteristics or mannerisms, you may safely identify them as part of this thriftier category:
  • Travels from place to place with glass jar of coins.  (This is handy when paying for just about anything, and the pinchfist will likely not be concerned with the fact that it may take him (or her) an hour to count out the stinkin’ pennies.)
  • Thinks a bag of apples is expensive.  (Noooo, a Mercedes is expensive.  Unless the apples are made of precious metal, they cannot be considered expensive.)
  • Has precisely two pairs of shoes, which are ‘quite sufficient, thank you very much.’
  • Is convinced that credit card companies are sent by Satan himself to destroy our happy home.
  • Refuses to purchase beverages at restaurants, because they are too expensive, and ‘we can’t get our money’s worth.’
  • Buys Ramen Noodles in bulk when they are on super-sale, marked down from 17¢ per package to a mere 15¢ per package.  (You know, in case we ever have to live through a nuclear war and need to survive on dried noodles.)
  • Has golden statue of Clark Howard displayed prominently on dresser or countertop.
While this list is not all-inclusive, if you know someone who displays even one of these symptoms, it’s likely you know a pinchfist.  And what, you may ask, is the best way to deal with a pinchfist?  Distract them with a big ol’ jar of shiny, pretty pennies…and then run to the closest mall for a shopping fix.

About Impossible-ness and Ridiculosity

Yeah, that.  It sucks.
You know how sometimes you feel sort of like you are attempting to climb the sheer face of Everest while wearing a pair of fuzzy slippers?  Well, those slippers suck.  And Everest sucks.
And if I could just get my hands on a freaking pair of clamp-ons for my shoes (is that what those spiky things are called?), then maybe I could get a steady enough foothold to move forward.
Ok, enough whining.
I need another workout today.  Big time.

Back At You, Mom!

Here’s a short conversation I had with Jadon.  Sort of sounds different when my own words are thrown back at me.
Me:  Jadon, you need to pick up your toys before we watch your movie.
Jadon:  Jay-Jay wants movie.
Me:  Ok, but we need to pick up first.
Jadon:  I’m not playing this game.
Huh?!  Hey, wait a minute…that’s my line!

Teenage Wisdom (I know this is an oxymoron.)

Exhibit A:  There is this one particular teenager in my life (ahem, Jacob) about whom I would like to speak. See, here’s the deal.  He’s good at a lot of things.  He’s funny, and he helps around the house (occasionally), and rocks as a musician.
There are many, many fine things teenagers are good for.  Let me list a few:
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Cleaning the toilets
  • Running to the store when we are out of milk
  • Teasing siblings without mercy
  • Making their mothers worry until they have ulcers and premature gray hair
BUT.
And that’s a big ‘BUT.’  There are simply some things that teenagers should refrain from doing.  For example, teaching 3-year-olds how to talk.  Or rather, teaching 3-year-olds funny new phrases to shock and dismay their parents.
So, last night, during bath time (yes, this is going to go downhill from here), Jadon announces the presence of his ‘baby boner.’  And let me tell you, he enunciated.  He spoke in a strong, clear voice—so clear that, should he ever use this language in public, I could never pretend that the little stinker was really just trying to say something like ‘I’m a loner’ or something equally ridiculous.
And yes, indeed, it was there…exactly as he announced, and he was quite fascinated with it.  But where, oh where, do you think he GOT that particular phrasing?  (I’ll admit, if I were a 16-year-old teenage boy, I might find humor in the clever alliteration and simply in the fact that I could get my little brother to say anything.  ANY-THING at all.)
And ok, it did sound funny.  (Hilarious, in fact.)  But how in the world am I going to explain that stuff to his kindergarten teacher in the next couple of years.  I’m really glad Jacob is working with his little brothers on their talking, but I’m wondering if he might be able to teach them something more along the lines of ‘May I please be the line leader?’ or ‘Would you like an apple today, Teacher?’
At this rate, I am going to be in the principal’s office a dozen times before he even hits 1st grade!