Welcome to my less than perfect life!

Embracing the imperfections that make my life practically perfect in every way.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I Learned at the Playground

1.  Once kids reach about the age of 8, parents evidently feel that they no longer need any sort of supervision and let them wander the neighborhood alone all evening long.

2.  There isn't much that is productive for kids ages 8-15 to do on a playground.

3.  If you are the first to fall off of the monkey bars, you are a "punk-ass white boy".

4.  If the white lady glares at you when you say racist comments, you will, instead of understanding the intent of the glare, change your statement to: "punk-ass mexican".

5.  That pre-teen girls come to the playground to flirt with pre-teen boys.

6.  That it makes my stomach hurt to have to go to the playground when it is filled with the big kids.

7.  That practicing swear words while climibing the jungle gym makes you seem really tough to all of your friends.

8.  That I will, at some point, want to punch somebody's kid in the head.  That kid won't be mine.  I won't know whose kid it is, because I have never seen the parents though I have seen the kid many, many times.

9.  That the big kids need their parents more than ever.  That just when you think they are old enough to make good decisions, the rules of the game start changing and they need you to guide them through this new, rough territory.  That just because they might know enough not to run in front of a car, big kids can run in front of a lot of words and ideas and encounters that are just as dangerous.  That continued hand-holding will make crossing those "streets" easier and safer, too.

10. That I want to relish this moment in time, when I am still the center of my Nugget's world and I am still fun and interesting and smart to her.  That all of the values we teach her now will be the building blocks of her character, so they need to be made with solid material.  That it is never to early to teach my child compassion and love and tolerance and peace because, somewhere out there, another family is teaching their kids the opposite and she will need all of the skills she can get to combat those things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Newseum

We live near and are members of the largest children's museum in the world (who knew?  I guess there really is more than corn in Indiana).  We visit at least a couple of times a month.  The Nugget loves it, and I can motivate her to do almost anything as long as she knows that it will be followed by a trip to "the newseum".

Once a month, the newseum has a special event for members where kids can come and play late on Friday nights.  I recently decided to take advantage of this evening.  The Nugget and I spend every other Friday on a date alone due to The Mister's work schedule and I thought this sounded like a fun one.  The Nugget can act like a wild child all she wants, Mommy can sit back and relax and coast until bed time.

Or not.

The first sign I had that this late night at the newseum would not be a total success was when I arrived to pick The Nugget up from daycare.  She was taking a nap.  I know I have celebrated this fact in the past, but that was because it was a one-time thing.  Lately, all of the summer fun has led to nearly daily naps at daycare.  Which leads to a grouchy, half-awake child at pick up.  One who has not completed her nap in full.  One who will not want to go to bed at a normal time.  One who will make sure that the full level of her discontent is registered with mommy.

I know that many of you are already clucking your tongues at me and wondering why I didn't just give up on the idea of the newseum once I saw the state she was in.  I thought about it.  However, I pick her up around 4:00PM.  The newseum was going to be open until 9:00PM.  I figured if I took her straight there we would be headed for a certain meltdown.  However, if we went home and had a little down time, watched some cartoons, maybe we could do it.  In fact, she was perking up after about an hour of snacks and cartoons, so I decided to press on.

She was absolutely out of her mind with excitement about going to the newseum.  I figured we would enjoy an hour or two at the newseum and then head for a Nice Dinner Out (with a toddler, this equates to something easy, fast and in a place that is pretty clean).  I brought along some snacks to eat in between exhibits to hold us over until supper time.  I had clean diapers, wipes and a cup of nice, cold water.  I was fully prepared for a Friday night adventure.

We started out by climbing the big, purple stairs up to the Dora exhibit.  This exhbit is kind of like being at a techno club; there is loud, thumping music, lots of bright colors and there are people moving in every direction.  It is extremely nerve racking, but The Nugget loves it.  She and Dora are totally simpatico.  We tend to spend most of our time here these days.  I am okay with that - I love that she loves it.

After Dora, we stopped for a snack of peanut butter crackers and water.  The Nugget ate a couple of crackers but was so excited that I could hardly wrangle her to eat any more.  So we were on to the Barbie exhibit.  Funny, but the Barbie exhibit is similar to a techno club, too.  Loud, thumping music.  Bright lights.  People everywhere.  In addition, there is a fashion runway.  The Nugget danced.  She posed.  She played with dolls and drew dresses and had a fine old time.

At this point, we decided to go to the top floor.  This is where THE CAROUSEL is located.  In what I cannot believe is an unrelated twist of fate, The Nugget pronounces the word carousel as "kill youself".  The first time I heard her say this, I totally panicked thinking that somehow she had picked up the phrase "kill yourself".  Of course, she has decided that she hates this carousel with a passion and I haven't been able to get her to ride it for about a year.  In fact, she gets mad if we even get off on the floor where it's located for fear that I am going to force her to ride the "kill youself".  Which, of course, I am not.  Though I enjoy the ride, this particular carousel has the volume turned up so loud that I can hardly stand to be near it either.  There is, however, a really cool play area right next to it.

Our downhill slide started in the maze of mirrors next to the carousel.  We were wandering along, enjoying looking at the mirrors and the lights, when The Nugget decided to climb on a little step to look into a view-finder and promptly fell of.  And hit her head on the view-finder.

My kid hates falling with a passion.  Even if it doesn't really hurt, she is likely to scream in fury at the insult of the fall.  But if it really hurts, too?  Watch. out.  And don't you even think about coming over to help.  The humiliation is more than she can bear.  And all of that screaming inside the confines of the mirror maze?  That is more than mommy can bear.

We soldiered on, however, and soon were on to the next area where a variety of doll houses are on display.  each with little steps leading up to the viewing windows.  Steps designed exactly for a two year old to fall from.  Which she promptly did.  Cue the sreaming and the anger and the tears.  Cue mommy - it's time to blow this popcicle stand.  We are MELTING DOWN! 

I whisked The Nugget to the elevator with promises of pushing! the! button!  Down to the first floor we flew, merely an hour and a half into our big night out.  Me with visions of a Nice Meal Out still dancing in my head.  The Nugget with decidedly different ideas.

Once to the lobby, my attempts to wrangle her in the direction of the door set off an absolute rage.  Oh.  Well.  Maybe we need to delay our Nice Meal.  I can just try and nudge her in the direction of the food court and maybe buy a snack to tide us over until we have obtained enough calm to leave.  Because we cannot eat at the newseum.  It is very affordable to get an annual membership to the newseum, but it is ridiculously expensive to eat a meal there.  Clearly this is how they make all of their money.  So: snack, walk to car, Nice Meal Out.

Except the nudging. wasn't. working.  She wanted to stay planted RIGHT WHERE SHE WAS NO MATTER WHAT.  Why didn't you pick her up, you ask?  I did.  To which she turned into a stiff board and kicked me in the shins.  At this point, I could see my Nice Meal Out slipping away.  We went to set in time out while she raged and while I just prayed to survive the rest of the trip at this point.

Once time out was over, I carried her to the food court.  Because of it being a special night, only a few of the food stations were available.  I dropped any hopes of health food and went straight to burgers and fries as I knew this would buy some calm.  I ordered a cheeseburger basket.  After much waiting (and more tears), the waitress turned around and said, "just a cheeseburger, right?"

"No. No I want fries with that."

Turns back to station.  Turns around with a plain hamburger.  "Just a hamburger and fries, right?"

My internal dialogue went something like this:  No.  NO YOU MORON!  A CHEESEBURGER.  AND FRIES.  RIGHT THE EFF NOW BEFORE THIS KID MELTS ALL OF OUR FACES OFF WITH HER RED-HOT RAGE.

My external dialogue was a bit more socially appropriate: "A cheeseburger, please."  Weak attempt at a smile.

Finally I am able to hand The Nugget a couple of fries while we go to wait in line to pay.  I get her an apple juice and a pack of cookies, too (both of which are rare treats).  In total, we get one cheeseburger and fries to share, two drinks and one small pack of cookies.  Cost for these treats?  Eleventy billion dollars.

Ability of the newseum to manipulate parents into buying the overpriced food in order to squash a nearly guaranteed tantrum at the end of a long day?  Priceless.

You win this round, newseum.  You win.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shhhh....it's Saturday

High heels and overalls - what other dancing attire is there?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I've been Liebstered!



"The Liebster Blog Award is designed to bring additional recognition to those bloggers with less than 200 followers. If you receive the award, you should link back to the blogger that nominated you and nominate five more blogs. Also, don’t forget to let them know that you nominated them."

I'd like to thank The Academy, my mom, all of my managers and producers and, most importantly, Jennie at Fond of Blond (who, really, is the only one who had anything to do with my getting such an award).

Jennie is an awesome, honest mom to three beautiful boys and one cuddly puppy.  She writes about her triumphs and struggles as a mom, about her thoughts on lots of interesting topics and about her love of writing.  She also posts some really awesome fiction sometimes!  You should definitely check her out.

Now for my five nominees (this is so fun!):

1.  think.stew
Stew never fails to crack. me. up.  He is, in his own words, "a dad, a hubby, a hot fat-guy, an educator and a writer."  He can also wax thoughtful when the mood strikes him.  He is, by all accounts, awesome.


2.  Dances with God
Sharon writes grippingly honest accounts of her life.  She is a pastor and a wife.  She is a survivor of  abuse and a champion for others struggling with this issue.  She is filled with light, love and happiness despite any challenges she has faced and she is an inspiration!  I hope you will love her blog as much as I do!

3. Kate Takes 5
Kate is a SAHM to three beatiful children who are conveniently spaced exactly two years apart.  She has an awesome and addictive listography meme which is always fun and thought-provoking and really helps one get to know lots of other bloggers.  Go check her out - I'll see you in a couple of days when you come up for breath from reading all of the great lists!

4.  The Crying Room
Zoe is an awesome woman who JUST GOT ENGAGED!  She talks honestly about her life which is sometimes fun, sometimes challenging and always interesting.  She is currently planning her wedding, so I am hoping we will see lots of pics posted about the upcoming nuptuals.  When not blogging, she and her fiance can be found weeding the garden or eating quiche.  Go check her out!.  Now.

5. Because My Life is Fascinating
Hilljean is an absolutely adorable woman who writes in a witty, honest and fun way about what her life is like as a momma to two adorable kids, wife to one philosopher husband and student herself.  She shares a lot of beautiful pictures of her life as she is a great photographer!  She shares her struggles with rheumatoid arthritis as well as a lot of graphic photos of her surgeries:)  She's a delight and you are definitely going to want to follow this gal!  Oh, and I LOVE her page design.

It was fun picking nominees for this list (and a little bit hard to narrow it down).  Pretty much everyone I nominated has quite a few more followers than I, so I hope they are honored and don't wonder why little old me would feel the need to nominate them!  It's because we all need more love, y'all!

Now go forth and Liebster!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why I am pretty sure the cashier is trying to kill me

So, The Nugget and I went food shopping the other day.   I generally try to be super organized when we do this because I can only hold off her irritation for so long.  I always know exactly what we need and where we are going so I can bang through the shopping and get out of there.  We were doing great.  Until we reached the checkout stand.

I rapidly scanned the various aisles and decided on one where there was one full cart and one half cart in front of us.  It seemed the best we could do.  I was confident that we would move right along.

*Cue ominous music*

When you have a two year old, you really can't just relax and read the magazines while you leisurely wait on the line to move forward.  Standing in line equates to a million requests for all of the various things that are surrounding the aisle. 

"I want lipstick!"

"I want cookies!"

"I'm hungry!"

"I want a balloon!"

And then, of course, the invariable anger that follows the denial of said requests.  It's pretty exhausting.  So what I like to do is watch that conveyor belt like a hawk until I can start squeezing my stuff on behind the person in front of me.  This feels like progress.  This makes me feel like I have some control over the situation.

On this fateful day, however, the line would. not. move.  It appeared that the cashier was examining each product that she scanned with great interest.  I'm pretty sure she might have been reading the warning labels on each one.  I don't know what she was doing, other than driving my blood pressure skyward.

My typical shopping trip (which covers two weeks worth of groceries) last an hour from door to door.  We stood in line at least 15 minutes before the first cart in line even STARTED wrapping it up.

*Sigh*

The woman in front of me appeared to be having some sort of anxiety attack.  She kept looking back at me and smiling nervously.  Apparently all the cursing muttering under my breath didn't make me seem any less like a crazy person.  Of course, once she saw how achingly slow this cashier was moving, she probably regretted the cart she had piled to the ceiling with teeny, tiny items.  It looked like she had bought about ten thousand bottles of Visine or something.  Needless to say, it takes a bit longer to ring up ten thousand bottles of Visine that 10 extra large bags of dog food.  And it especially takes longer when the cashier takes the time to read each bottle before bagging it.

So we waited.

*Angry sigh*

*Shuffle*

*Huff*

*GLARE ANGRILY AT SECURITY CAMERA IN HOPES THAT THEY WILL COME ARREST THE CASHIER FOR HER RIDICULOUS INABILITY TO PERFORM HER ONLY DUTY*

Does the cashier not realize that I have bought some meat that needs to be used or frozen by the end of the day?  Sitting at room temperature cannot be good for my el-cheapo meat purchase!  Not to mention the ice cream I splurged on!  WHY?

*Grumble*

*Groan*

"MOMMY, I'M HUNGRY!!!"

*Consider ramming my cart into the cart in front of me but assume that causing injury to another shopper will only cause me guilty feelings and not address the root problem of my total hatred of the cashier at this point*

At this point, I FINALLY get to put something on the EDGE of the conveyor. 

*Thankyouthankyouthankyoupleasepleaseplease let it end*

I finally being loading my food onto the belt which is moving at a snail's pace.  The day old meat is warm to the touch.  The ice cream is literally completely melted.

At this point I begin telepathically willing the security forces behind those cameras to PLEASE HELP ME because it has become clear to me that the cashier is trying to kill me.  And it's working.  If she doesn't cause me a stroke or a heart attack here in the aisle, she will give me food poisoning after I get home.  She has all of her bases covered.

*Help*

*HELP!!*

"Mommy, I want that!"  Points to whatever she sees in the nearby bin.

We FINALLY reach the point of getting ready to pay.  It appears that the security overlords have heard my prayers.  Another cashier comes and changes places with the current one.  I am too relieved to even consider being annoyed by the extra time it takes them to change out their drawers.

HA HA, Marsha!  Your evil plan was thwarted at the last minute!  Take that!  I live to shop another day.

*Tears of relief*

All told, we stood in that line for 40 minutes.  Forty.  Damned.  Minutes.  But we survived.  By God, we survived!

And, yes, I'll still be cooking that old meat up later this week.  Send us your prayers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You do not know

Today a co-worker of mine shared with me some tragic news.  She had just attended a funeral for a baby of about 2 years old.  The baby had been visiting her father's house when she wandered out and fell into the pool and drowned. 

My heart broke for this baby and her family.  I don't know them, but when you have suffered the loss of a child, you become part of a family of sorts.  I can tell you when I walk into work who among us has lost children, and we all speak a bit more kindly to one another.  We give knowing smiles and nods.  We know what others do not, cannot, should not.  And for that, we are gentler souls.  I have sent notes to people whom I have never and will never meet, just to try and let them know that it is possible to survive such an unbelievable tragedy.  That they are not alone.

The co-worker who shared the news of the child's death took an unexpected turn in conversation when she said, "It took me a long time at the funeral to figure out who the child's mother was.  She was just wearing a red top and white jeans and she never even cried once."  After this, the conversation deteriorated and became a criticism of this mother and of how they would act if their child had died and why her behavior was entirely inappropriate for a grieving mother.  I managed to squeak out: "Don't you think maybe she was just in shock?" before retreating into my own shell of grief.

Perhaps the pre-loss me would have joined in this conversation.  Perhaps I would have been willing to stand in judgement of a mother who had lost her baby girl.  Maybe I thought, before I knew anything, that I knew what grief was supposed to look like.  I can't really say, because I don't even know that version of me anymore.  My whole life, my whole personality, my whole outlook and makeup and every reaction to everything that happens to and around me is colored by the loss of my child. 

I knew loss before my son died.  My mother died when I was 19.  I was as grief-stricken as any child would be.  But the loss of a child is a totally different experience.  The loss of a child bends time and space in ways that will never make sense.  I have healed, little by little, but I will never be "back to normal".

For this reason, I beg anyone who even thinks about judging any parent who has lost a child to remember just one thing: you have no idea what they are going through.  It's a good thing.  It's a good thing not to know.  Still, the shoes you are standing in are your own and you cannot begin to understand how your world can be spinning normally on its axis one moment and then, the next, go rolling through the universe without any sort of control.  YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

So, when you see a mother show up to her child's funeral in her everyday clothes, be gentle.  When you see a father who lost sight of his child for one moment and you want to judge him for his carelessness, be gentle.  When the parents don't even have the strength to attend their child's funeral at all, be gentle.  Let your first assumption be the fact that what they do, they do from a place of love.  Let your next assumption be that these parents are totally losing their minds with grief and that they deserve a get out of social skills free card for at least the next six months.

When you see a parent who is attending her child's memorial and she is wearing a ball gown and a tiara and she is laughing hysterically, BE GENTLE.  If the father is naked and screaming and totally irrational, BE GENTLE.  If they receive your words meant in kindness with biting anger or if they sob into your shoulder until you think you might drown in tears or if they seem to ignore your very existence, be gentle.   Hold them in their grief, be with them where they are at and, I beg of you, remember that you do not know.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Listograpyh - Kids Movies

Go over to Kate Takes 5 to check out more awesome lists.  Kate always comes up with great ideas that I just can't resist diving into.  So, without further ado, my top 5 favorite kids' movies:

1.  Labyrinth - This movie has stood the test of time, in my humble opinion.  David Bowie in tights?  Maybe not so much.  But Jennifer Connelly?  I just knew she was destined for greatness.  I still quote this movie all of the time (though others may not realize it).  It is a truly magical adventure and one of my favorites from childhood.  I recently showed it to my niece who agreed that it is still cool (perhaps she was humoring me, but still).  On a side note, I was sure I would wear a dress JUST LIKE the one Sarah wore in the scene after she is poisoned by Hoggle.  Which, ask anyone, is pretty much the polar opposite of exactly what happened!


2.  Finding Nemo - What is not to love about this movie (other than the fact that there is a lot of overwhelming sadness that takes place)?  Dori is possibly the best cartoon character of all times, and I still giggle when I think about her reading: "Eh-scapp-aye".  And Nemo is adorable and his father is awesome and everyone learns and loves and it's just wonderful!


3.  The Little Mermaid - Okay, as a feminist, some of this movie goes against my grain.  I am so not all about scantily clad children's characters and girls who are waiting on a man to save them.  That being said, I still love this movie and choose to focus on the strong, independent nature of our friend Ariel who had the courage to go looking for a life on land.  And I have always loved the music from this movie.  I used to sing it loudly and for hours on end in my room.  The only thing that bothers me: does anyone remember the rumor about the original animation and how the castles looked suspiciously like a phallic symbol?  I remember that someone said the artist had gotten mad at Disney and hence those castles.  Funny, I don't find those same castles when I Google the photo for this post.  Things that make you go, "hmmmmm....".


4. Aladin - I don't think I need to remind anyone how Robin Williams absolutely took the Genie character to a whole. new. level.  Frankly, the story of Aladin before this movie was pretty dull to me.  But this movie?  Total game changer.  Another movie with awesome music, too!


5.  The Neverending Story - Taking it seriously old school one more time, it just doesn't get a whole lot better than this for me.  There is action, adventure, fantasy and bravery.  This is another movie that I think fits right into the modern movie landscape and would absolutely still capture the imaginations of kids everywhere.  If you've ever seen it, I know you can hear the music playing in your head right now!


So many good children's movies out there.  I can't wait to introduce The Nugget to a few more once she has a longer attention span!  Thanks for providing thoughtful fodder, Kate.  And, anyone who is reading, feel free to link up, too!