Wednesday, May 28, 2008


For all my high and mighty bitching about the end of school, taking the moral high road on teacher's gifts, and complaining about the # of days I am actually required to be in attendance at school towards the end, I am the first one to admit, I love me some school days.

And by school days, I do not mean school that would take place within the confines of my home. Oh hell no. That to me is torture. I'm not cut out to be a homeschooler, or for that matter a housewife, a cook, but I digress...

So anyway, this actually is my prek daughters last week o school. The other kids are done in the middle(two of them) and at the end(one of them) next week. Needless to say, I am having a massive panic attack, and wondering what will I do with all them everyday, all day?????????

Having five kids kinda makes camp cost prohibitive. And that is not to say that they won't go to camp at all. There are some community/church programs that offer camps at a nominal charge, although anything times four, baby is too young for camp, is expensive.

I am not above sending my children to religious camps for religions that I do not subscribe to. One summer, my friend, Holly, who went from a drinking realtor to a sober born again Christian extended my kids an invitation to her church summer camp. My kids are loosely raised as Catholics, and I knew that this was an attempt at conversion, but nevertheless, the camp was free and all I had to do was sign my name to a piece of paper. She transported them every evening for two weeks, from 6-9, and I had three hours of peace and quiet with my third child, who at the time was a newborn.

It did bother me a tad when my son came home singing a song "my heart was black as sin until the savior came in", but I rationalized this experience as a test of faith. None of my kids converted, so it was all in good fun.

Since Holly has since switched over to the Mennonite church, those camp invites have ended. I wonder if the Mennonites have camps? I can see my kids milking cows with somber faces dressed in plain clothes that they made themselves. Unfortunately, no invite has been extended, so at this point they're all mine for the summer.

So here are some of the strategies that I am working on this week in order to ensure that we will have a relatively smooth summer.

* I am printing out a calendar of June, July and August, and marking down any plans that we might have for any of these months. I know, you ladies probably already have this done, but I like to stay a little behind the eight ball. Then I will record any plans I make this week, even little plans like going for ice cream on the calendar. If I plan ahead, it will actually get done- that's theory behind why I will do this.

* I am surfing the web for local attractions and things to do. By doing this, I can see in advance what ticket prices will be and decide when and where we can go for fun outings. Since I now have a navigation system in my car, not built in- just one that you can stick up, I don't have to worry about printing out directions. But if you don't have this gadget, and like me you can't read a map or find your way to your front door in the am, you might want to print out this information as well. Do it this week, before the kids are home, and before the day that you are to leave. Days when we are going somewhere are always so hectic, so less prep work the better. So that you don't loose the directions, stick them in your glove compartment right now.

* I am amassing schedules for free activities, or nearly free activities. Look, I don't exactly live in a booming metropolis, hardly, but there are still plenty of things to do with the kids that cost little or are completely free. The local library and bookstores offer free story time. I let the older kids walk browse for books for themselves during this time. The movie theatre here has free summer movie camp every week. It shows two movies, one G and one PG, two mornings a week for the entire summer. I will get a schedule of what's playing so we can decide in advance who will see what. Also the craft stores have kids project days weekly, and they get to make seasonally appropriate crafts. They usually charge a nominal fee for materials, but the kids have a blast.

* I am searching for websites with great ideas. Today, I discovered the Crayola website. Since we don't live too far from the factory itself, and since tickets are only 9. per person, under three free, I am thinking this will be one place that I will take the kids. Anyway, while I was looking at the attraction, I also browsed the website, only to discover that it has a lot of great projects and print outs on it. There is also an online store where you can order supplies. New customers receive 15% off.

So I am feeling a little bit better. Let's promise that we'll be in this together, and that by the end of June we won't be seeing yellow because our eyes are tricking us into thinking that there is a school bus in front of our house, waiting to take the kids away.

Also, if you have a great idea for how to spend summer days, please leave it in the comments. Laurie

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I have been talking a lot about the end of school recently because for me it really is a major event, and I'm sure that a lot of you can sympathize. All you angels who home school, what can I say except clearly, compared to you, I am absolutely inadequate- but really, is that news?

In any case, one of "rituals", at the end of school every year is that the a mom or two from each class attempt to organize a "class gift" from the students of the class to the teacher. In the years that my children have been going to this school ( my oldest has been there for eight years), this process has varied, with some things remaining constant. Generally speaking, what happens is that one or two moms get together, come up with what they believe is an appropriate amount for each family to contribute, decide what gift will be purchased with that money, typically it is a gift card or cards of some sort, and then they send out a typewritten letter to each family, which they put in your child's bookbag. You then can decide, whether to return the envelope with $$$ to contribute to the gift, or you can not contribute.

The gift. is. optional. In the same way that giving your mother-in-law a Christmas gift is optional.

The first year, I did not contribute. I wasn't very fond of my daughter's first grade teacher, who told me in the first few weeks of school, that no she could do nothing to prevent my daughter from being pushed on the playground by her classmate. This is private school people! My daughter was in a class of thirteen children. This woman had to watch thirteen children, and she couldn't, after the problem was brought to her attention, be bothered to maybe say, if I see anything, I will address it. No, instead, she said "there is nothing that I can do." Fabulous effort. And this was her attitude about everything. She was just nasty, never smiled, and so when they came a collecting for her gift, I declined to give. Instead I bought a five dollar coffee mug with candy, and even that pained me.

Of course, what I didn't know was that during class time, that I was paying for, some of the mothers organizing the gift came in and had the kids sign the card for this teacher. My child, naturally, was not allowed to sign the card, because I didn't contribute. Then they presented the gift to her, and of course, my child felt left out. All afternoon, I had to hear about how she was the only child in her class, and how she wasn't allowed to the sign the card, and all I could think was I should have just given the damn $15 bucks so that bitch could have a gourmet dinner and could buy some freakin books at Barnes and Noble.

From then on, I always gave. Not always happily, but I gave nonetheless. And most times, I gave double, because I subscribe to the notion that it should be a gift from MY CHILD to the teacher. I know teachers get a lot of shitty presents, things they don't want or need, but last time I checked people don't become teachers for the gifts. And I know that teachers are underpaid,and for this reason, they should be shown appreciation and gratitude, but is it my job to make up for their salary? I don't know.

This year, my daughter in pre-k got a letter asking for $50, which is double the normal amount per teacher. Granted it covers gifts for the teacher in her class, the teacher's aide in her class, and the teacher and aide in the other section. The aide in the other section is leaving, so she gets $20 allocated to her gift; while the others get $10. Why am I giving money to teachers who don't even teach my child? And should I be giving more money to the teacher's aide in the other class than I give to my own child's primary teacher? Why am I giving the same amount of money to my child's teacher that I am giving to the other teacher? To me, it doesn't make sense. Although the letter reads, " a consensus has been reached" , no mom that I have asked was asked about the gift prior to the letter being issued by one mom from one of the two sections. The letter goes
on to say, "here's the deal" it says, followed by "this is optional, but we hope that you can all help out."

I spoke to a couple of the other moms about this at Field day, and it became apparent that no one was willing to rock the boat, even if they felt $50 was a little much to ask. One mom said, well I guess you can always not give...

Well, as I said before, when I didn't give in First grade it was disastrous. Last week, there was also a lot of gossip surrounding a mom in the first grade who wanted everyone to contribute $5. "That is so cheap" another mother told me. That mom took the letters out of the bookbags when she found out the amount, and rewrote them, and then re packed them in the bookbags. I don't know, but it seems wrong to me that random mothers are rifling through bookbags of children who are not their own.

There are consequences to not giving.

So what's a mom to do. On the one hand, I feel this entire "gift" thing has absolutely gotten out of hand. Why should one mom tell every other mom how much to spend, on what, and for whom. When I went to Montessori school many moons ago, Teachers were not allowed to accept gifts. Not potted plants or boxes of candy. It was viewed as unethical. I am certainly of the belief that a potted plant, or even a combined gift of a dinner certificate is not out of the realm of appropriateness, but in one first grade class, a mother purchased a twelve hundred dollar bracelet for the group gift for the teacher , at a discount it came to 500, which wound up being 22 a family. Again, I think, personally, this is in bad taste, and not appropriate. And I have to question the motive of this woman making such an elaborate purchase for teacher, and I have to wonder is it reasonable that she make all the other parents contribute to this? Should the school step in and say that group gifts can not be organized in school, presented during school time ( by mothers, not by children), and that cards may not be passed around in the classroom unless every one can sign?

Should I shut my mouth again, pay my money, and thank god summer is here? Or should I CHOOSE not to pay in which case: my children will be pariahs; the teachers will think me cheap and ungrateful; and the other mommies will not talk to me on the playground? What's a girl to do?

On a side note, when did it become acceptable for people to be openly ungrateful about gifts. I mean I have no problem per se with registries, gifts cards; etc., but if Aunt Ethel wants to knit you a pot holder, or if you want your kid to help bake banana bread for her teacher's gift, shouldn't the recipient still be grateful? What's with all this, oh you can't buy anybody a present anymore for fear they won't like it. To me, a gift is about the thought, and if you really appreciate the person's thought, you'll appreciate the gift. You'll like what you don't like or you'll give the gift to someone else who will like it, happy in the knowledge that you were remembered, appreciated, loved. Gifts should be given and accepted freely, in my opinion, but I'd love to know what others think. Feel free to leave comments.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Haven't spent too much time writing posts this week. Trying to explore the blogosphere and lure new readers to the site. Also extremely busy with end of school. At the end of the year, its as if they start to prepare parents for summer by making them spend every waking moment with their kids at the school.

Here, my week in review:

Monday: a.m. was 10yr's guitar performance which was actually super cute, but also had to stay for some art dedication thing because it would have been rude to just walk out after I saw my own kid do his thing. Had to pretend I was renaissance mom, who just loves all things related to the school.

Tuesday: a.m. and p.m. went with daughter's preschool class to see Winnie the Pooh play, which was also cute, however, would liked to have been able to pass on the after play park trip. It was about 50 degrees and pouring rain. I was dressed for the theatre, and therefore did not have on knee high boots. Couldn't really understand the point of this stop. The kids couldn't play at the park, but could merely point at the playground equipment and say sadly, why can't we go on that? Under the pavilion, where we ate lunch, we all huddled together trying to steal the children's body heat so that we did not get hypothermia. The kids were freezing, teeth chattering, but as the teacher pointed out, it did get them out of the classroom. So would have a trip to the local nuclear reactor. Maybe that is on for next week?

Wednesday: a.m. 10 yr old had D.A.R.E. graduation and won a french award from a standardized french test he took. "I don't want to have a tube inside my stomach to feed me because I want to be able to go to places like Outback(steakhouse) and Longhorn's with my family, and that's why I won't do drugs". That's an actual line from his D.A.R.E. report. Whatever works, I'm proud.
p.m. was supposed to go back to school for an informational meeting about fifth grade, which 10yr old will be in next year. 5th grade is Upper school. Since my oldest has already been there done that, actually skipped this, but the other mommies drug me out for the after party to this meeting at a local bar. Maybe we mommies should have gone to the D.A.R.E class. Obviously, we learned nothing from our children's reports.

Today was my day off, but spent most of my time cleaning in preparation for my in laws who are coming tomorrow (yeah!!!!!!!!) to watch the kids while we go to a wedding. Also, my cousin, his wife and two kids came in today from Chicago, so went to visit them.

Friday: a.m. Field day. I have to go and get nails done for the wedding. My mother, who just returned from her cruise vacation, wants to know why I am not planning on going to field day. Don't the kids want you to come? Won't they be disappointed?
Perhaps I should just park my van in the school parking lot and sleep there, in case the school needs me in the middle of the night for something.
Of course, mom doesn't want to watch the baby while I go for manicure, she wants to get her nails done before her next vacation, which is less than 72 hours away, but I should be more available to my kids.
p.m. The drama play in which Isabelle, 5, will play a little dutch girl. Wouldn't miss it for the world.

I'd like to say that next week will better, but it probably will be worse. On the upside, am actually looking forward to kids coming home so that the madness will stop. It's a cruel mind trick. At the end of May having kids home all night and all day seems like such a great idea, but by the end of June, Moms everywhere will be wondering WTF was I thinking when I couldn't wait for the end of school?

Friday, May 16, 2008

F is for Fridays, and Fantasy Island

*Don't know how to add clips yet, will learn soon I promise, but for now, please humor me and use your imagination.*

Good God almighty hope some of you are reading this masterpiece.

Cue the music....

Doo du du du doo du du dadu

High mountains, water falls, a seaplane, a bell, a little person with a french accent in a white suit, a tall dark, handsome man, with a dignified Puerto Rican accent, in a white suit...

"Bosth, De Plane, de plane"

Ah, yes. In my house, growing up, Friday nights meant Mom and Dad went out to dinner, we got a babysitter; Swanson t.v. dinners; filled with rubbery meat, powdered mashed potatoes, tasteless vegetables and the piece de resistance, chocolate cake, that typically had to be sawed off of the plastic tray in order to be eaten; and jiffy pop. It was late seventies and maybe early, early eighties, I was about ages four to six. Kids t.v. was not on at night, and vcrs did not exist. Yes, children, I did grow up in the prehistoric era. On Friday nights, we watched the Love Boat, and if we were still up Fantasy Island.

Last week, when I was out some girlfriends, I happened to mention that I was perusing through the guide on my t.v. and I saw at the bottom an ad that said, "watch Fantasy Island on tube time, on demand." Of course, I have not seen this show in decades. Fantasy Island isn't easy to find in reruns, and in fact, I probably haven't thought about watching this show in years, even though I remember it vividly, as a part of my childhood.

Now, when I mentioned this to some of my friends, I had already had several drinks. I am weird and I think under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn't have mentioned my finding Fantasy Island on t.v., not because I ashamed, no, I'm am open about my oddness, but because I probably wouldn't have thought that anyone else would be interested in my information. Much to my surprise, however, everyone was asking me for specific instructions as to how to find these episodes on t.v. Yes, their Fridays were very similar to mine. The Love Boat was all happy, good times, and then Fantasy Island scared the shit out of you right before you went to bed.

My friend Beth even mentioned the episode that I was permanently scarred by as the episode that she was permanently scarred by. "Remember the Jack the Ripper episode"... do I ever... it's part of one of my seven stories...

My cousin, Luann (those of you who have read my post, Sharks and Dwarfs, is it any wonder I am crazy? will remember my cousin Luann) was babysitting. She is deaf, but can read lips and speak well with her hearing aid, and so remained, as interested in watching t.v. while babysitting, as any normal teen. We had watched the Love Boat, all good and happy times, and then I wanted to have a bath. Luann was determined that my bath would not interrupt her viewing Fantasy Island. I was about four or five and had seen Fantasy Island enough times to know that I did not want to watch it, I was afraid. I also did not want to go to bed until my Mom and Dad came home, so I tried to linger in the tub. Luann turned off the water once the tub had about one inch of water in it.

"It's time to get out", she barked.

But I didn't want to get out, I wanted more water. That's when Luann scalded me with the hot bath water. Well, maybe she didn't exactly scald me, per se, but she did turn the water on hot, and when I moved up from the back of the tub and touched my toe to the new water, it did burn my toe and I screamed and, she said, "now are you ready to get out?" And so I climbed out of the back side of the tub, because the front side contained scalding hot water, this was in the time before people turned their hot water heaters down obviously, and I put my pajamas on and followed her down to watch Fantasy Island, because my only other option was to go bed by myself.

Maybe it wouldn't be a scary episode. Ha! It was the Jack the ripper episode. I pleaded with Luann to turn it off, but she absolutely wouldn't. I was scared shitless, and was paralyzed with fear. After only seeing seconds of the show, I was definitely too scared to leave the room, but I was also terrified to be in the room where I had to watch the show.

The next day, I was at my Aunt's house telling on my cousin, her daughter, when her older sister, who had to have been on drugs at the time, I mean I can't imagine a sober twenty year old telling a four year old what my cousin Sandy told me, said that I was silly to be afraid. She was studying to be actress at the time, and she said, "oh you shouldn't be afraid, that man is just an actor trying to make money to feed his family!"

I think on this and I wonder WTF my mom was thinking. Sometimes when she evaluates my babysitters or my choices as a mother, I remind her of this story, and she just stares blankly ahead, pretending that she can't hear me.

In any case, you would think I would never want to see this show ever again, after hearing that story. Not so, though, for a couple of reasons. First, fantasy Island also reminds me of the many happy Friday nights that I spent safely inside my house, in the rec room eating my t.v. dinner that my mother would have let me pick out earlier in the day at shop rite, and later watching the jiffy pop erupt on my stove, before my brother and I would snuggle down on the couch under an afghan to watch the love boat and fantasy Island. Not all of our babysitters were evil, and sometimes even our mom and dad would be home on Friday, usually if they had plans to go out on a Saturday,and we watch these shows with them, secure in the knowledge that with Mom and Dad, nothing could hurt us. Second, one of the greatest pleasures of being an adult is being able to go back to things that you feared when you were a child and laugh at them, because, in fact, they are not really scary at all. Doing this makes your mind feel all balanced, like a reconciled checkbook.

So finding Fantasy Island on t.v. again has, for me, been like uncovering an old scrapbook full of childhood mementos. Since so many of my friends also have fond memories of Mr. Rourke saying "Welcome to Fantasy Island" in his debonair accent and stylish yet slimy white suit; and since we all want to watch and realize how truly not scary, and actually cheesy the show was, I decided that I would host "A fantasy Island" slumber party of sorts at my house. A girls night in. A night of t.v. dinners, jiffy pop, and a tray full of island drinks adorned with flowers and laced with a lot of liquor.

I have yet to set the date for the party, and am still working on the details, but I thought it would be fun to also hold a contest on my blog with this theme. I have put together a Fantasy Island prize pack, and I will pick a winner from comments to this post next Friday. Let me know what your fav. episode was, or if you have watched recently, or about any memories of Swanson dinners, jiffy pop, Mr. Rourke, tattoo ;etc.;etc.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I interrupt my regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important news...

I am sorry to say that Jeff, the 2cm frog died yesterday in the aquarium.

Jeff was Aidan's frog (Aidan is six) that lived in Ethan's tank (Ethan is ten).

I am upstairs, supposed to be putting laundry away, but the draw of the computer is too much. Just want to check my email for one second, when I hear Aidan frantically screaming "Mom, mom, where are you?"

Due the decibel of scream, I figure someone is either dead or very near death. I leap up to run to the rescue, and greet Aidan in the hallway of my bedroom. His little white face all red, and ruddy, and runny with tears and snot.

"Aidan", I say, "what is the matter?"

"Jeff diiiied", he says and on the word died, he completely collapses into a teary tantrum. Poor little soul, he is heartbroken, and so I call in Ethan for verification.

Ethan, my little crocodile hunter in the making, comes down, fish net in hand, and starts to detail how he found Jeff dismembered in the tank. "His eyeballs are out, and his head skeleton..."

"Okay, Ethan, enough" , I say putting my free hand up, as I hold Aidan to my chest.

"Aidan, Ethan asks sweetly, why does death bring out the best in us?, do you want to come flush him with me?"

Sobbing hysterically, Aidan says no. I can't get him to stop crying, and so I decide we will make an impromptu trip to Petco, where we wind up buying a little five dollar tank, in addition to two new frogs, because according the sales girl, these little frogs sometimes can't get enough air or food in a large aquarium.

I call my husband from the car to tell him where we are. So much for it taking fifteen minutes. Sierra, the thirteen year old, wants to know, can she get a dog like Lauren from the Hills? What would she have to do? Ethan wants a bull frog. Isabelle wants a cat, even though we already have two at home; and Tasha and I really like the parakeets. To top it off, we get in line behind some wacko buying a ferret. She is letting it crawl all over her shoulders, and telling it about its brothers and sisters at home. Of course, she is writing a check. The trip has now taken over an hour, and that's just the time that we have been in the store.

So I call my husband to ask him if he wants to cook or if I should just get take out. He agrees to cook, and asks me why I rushed out to get him a new frog- shouldn't I be teaching him that this is what happens in life. "You're a softee he says to me".

The truth is though, I am not at all bothered by this label. Yes, there was a moment on the way to the store where I thought, am I handling this situation properly? But it was only a moment, and the answer that came to my head was yes, I am.

In my earlier years, I might have been filled with more self-doubt, might have questioned myself a bit more, but now I know. Moms can't fix everything. Even if Ethan deserves to be on the travel soccer team, or Sierra should have the lead in the play, there is nothing that I can do, or nothing that I am willing to do. Those are the lessons of the life that they must learn. I can't force kids to invite them over to their houses,can't make them the most popular, the richest, the smartest, the most athletic. They all do just fine in their own right, but their little lives aren't perfect, and you know who it's hardest on- Mom.

As a mother, there are so many times that you just want to step in and fix everything, and make their lives like a day at Disney World, but then you realize that you have to resist for their own good, and sometimes it seems as if doing so could kill you. So when you can be a superhero simply by driving to Petco and purchasing two little two dollar frogs- well it's awfully to resist, because what is the harm?

By the way, was going to write today about either naming your baby, in reference again to a post by her bad mother (seriously am not stalking you, but your posts keep making me have flashbacks), or about my BF who turned into an F'ing B ( crazy how that term turns around just like so many BF's turn into F'ing Bs), or about the Fantasy Island sleepover party that I am planning (yes, I am serious, yes, there something wrong with me, and yes I actually know people who are not only willing, but excited to come.)

Well, two weeks are up, so I have to go and clean for the cleaning ladies (another post I promise to write soon) Thanks for stopping by, come back again- Laurie

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You look too old, so how do you like that?

It's not everyday that someone tells me that I "look too young" to have five kids, or that I "look too young" to have a teenage daughter, but I would say, at least once or twice a week, someone, somewhere tells me this in some way or another. That number is ,of course, way down from a decade ago, when I was twenty three ,and the mother of one four year old, and one infant, but I still consistently hear comments like this.

In part, I guess, I do look younger than I am. In fact, on a recent vacation some woman told me that I looked eighteen, which at this point, is nearly half my age. I don't personally think that I look that young, but maybe, I do look a little younger than I am. Some woman at McDonald's, who was stunned when I told her my baby wasn't my first, but my fifth, guessed that I was twenty- three. She was twenty five herself and was obviously impressed by my youthful look and not trying to be passively nasty, so I told her thank you, and asked her for all her contact info, so that we can be best friends.

For every one person who means the phrase "you look so young, or you look too young" as a complement, there are ten people who are trying to be nasty. How do I know? I am not an idiot. I can hear it in their tone, see it in their faces, sense it from the air that they give off. Most recently, a mother in my oldest daughter's class saw me at school and said, "oh, you look too young", I didn't even see YOU there, I thought that you were one of the kids.

This woman has known me now for over eight years. For the most part, up until this point, our contact has been friendly. On this particular instance, I chose to sort of ignore her comment. I am fairly certain that she knows approximately how old I am. If she doesn't think that I am old enough to be my oldest daughter's mother at this point, well, what I can tell her? Not too many people want to adopt thirteen year olds...

A couple days later, I ran into her again at the school auction/fundraiser. I greeted her pleasantly, and she made the comment again. This time, I gently lobbed the ball back at her? Is there such a thing as looking too young?

Her answer, "well I wouldn't want to be thirteen again" didn't really answer my question, and I was quite frankly appalled by her bold face rudeness. I had my daughter young, admittedly, I was two months shy of turning twenty, so technically, I was a teenage mother- there I said it. But, hey , by the way, for all smug mothers who think that you have to be in a state of advanced maternal age to give your child a fighting chance in this world, please note that Barack Obama's mother was also a teenager when she gave birth to him. Pity how he turned out- probably he will be the first African American presidential nominee, and he will likely also become president(sorry Hillary, I'm still with you- I'm just sayin).

This woman, who repeatedly insisted that I look "too" young, probably had her daughter in her mid thirties, because my guess is that she is now in her late forties to early fifties. I may note that our daughters applied to the same secondary school, and only one of them got in- and it wasn't mama Grannie panties daughter. Maybe that's why she now scowls at me. Maybe she is jealous. Idk, as my daughter would say.

Whatever the case, I can't understand why people, in general, feel it is okay to make derogatory remarks to women that they think look young to be mothers. Maybe, a woman did have a baby at a younger age then planned, but then, hey don't you think that might just be a sensitive subject? Maybe strangers and semi acquaintances ought to back off and not poke and prod at such a sensitive subject. I mean do they want an honest answer...

Yes, I was a whore in college. I was so drunk/high/stupid, that I got pregnant. I wanted to become a drain on society, so I chose to keep the baby and not to have an abortion or give her up for adoption. So kind of you to recognize how I failed my entire family and myself. It wasn't at all painful feeling isolated, as all of my friends were at frat parties, and I was at home folding laundry and breastfeeding. I love to talk about the good old days. Please be sure not to give me any credit for the sacrifices that I made. Don't count the fact that I went on to complete my college degree, while being a mother to my child, hundreds of miles away from all my family and friends. Simply treat me as a complete piece of shit that you spew offensive things at without making any type of apology. By the way, my brother is alcoholic, perhaps you'd like to talk to him about why he doesn't drink anymore? Maybe you can ask him where he thinks the best rehabs are- he has been to five of them across the country.

Or do they want me to return the favor...

I don't know if you can look too young, but Jesus Christ, you sure as shit can look too old. Did you know that grey hair makes you look like some one's grandma. I mean I have a great hairdresser who can perform miracles. A little botox, a new wardrobe, have you seen the show ten years younger? I'd be willing to write into the website for you.

And by the way....

I know that I look young, but last time I checked girls can start getting pregnant by about age twelve. So, unless you are certain that I am under twenty five, and the mother of five, do yourself a favor and do not say to me " You look too young to be a mother/her mother/ their mother- okay, you mothers?

Monday, May 12, 2008


So on Friday, I was invited by my five year old daughter to come to a Mother's Day tea in her pre-k classroom. Absolutely so cute! She made me all of these adorable things which if I was more adept I would post pictures of, but since I'm not, you'll have to use your imagination.

One thing was a fill in the blank paper that was laminated.

My mom is as pretty as.... most of the kids put a flower, my little lady wrote "pumpkin." Hope she really loves Halloween, and does think that I look orange and, or round.

The favorite thing that I do for her is read her stories, which is also what, according to her, I am best at. I am really smart...because I know what 10+10 is. Oh, if only everyone I knew was five.

At the end of the tea, the teachers passed around a class scrapbook, made by one the teachers, chronicling the pre-k year with pictures of all of the kids in the class. There were pictures of the first day, of field trips, of special events,etc. and they were all arranged beautifully. This scrapbook was one of the items up for bid at the school's annual auction/fundraiser held this past Saturday night. Of course, on Friday, all of the kids were clamoring for their mommies to buy it.

Since, I rarely ever have a camera, and if I do, it is usually without the memory card, or about to die from lack of battery power, I decided that I would bid on this item. I have loads of pictures of my first, and a good amount of my second, but pretty much that is where the picture taking ended. No one has a scrapbook, so I thought this would be a great thing to get.

At the auction, however, the mom of one of my daughter's best friends made it clear that she was determined to have this album. Since my limit was extremely low, I knew that she would win. Even though I attempted to shame her, and make her feel sorry for me, and guilt her into not using her insane wealth to gather all the goods, she wouldn't budge. Her daughter wanted to buy it for her for mother's day, and so she was willing to spend any amount of money.

On Mother's Day morning, my little Isabelle came upstairs to give me flowers that she had picked out at the supermarket. She was beaming and proud. She came into bed and cuddled up with me. She asked me about the auction because by the time we got home, the night before, she was already in bed.

It was fun, I said. I tried to win your picture book, but K's mommy won it instead. Why? she asked, did she win it?

Well, I said, because she paid more money.

Oh, she said, well I can go and visit it.

Yes, you can, I said, and I smiled and hugged her, and thought to myself what a gift that all she needs to make her happy is my love, and a few bites of the egg that my husband made for me breakfast.

She never asks for anything directly, coy little angel that she is. As my husband brought up breakfast in bed, she looked at my tray and said, "why do sometimes mommies share their mudder's day breakfast with their little girls?"

Because they love them, I answered, putting a fork full of egg up to her mouth.

The smile on her face, while she ate the egg, sitting on my lap, absolutely priceless. And while I don't have a picture of it, I 'm certain, it's an image that I'll never forget.

Friday, May 9, 2008


It seems so many moms in the blogosphere are pregnant. Two of my favorite daily reads, Mrs. Fussypants and Her Bad Mother are due any day, and there have been various showers and comment forms in their honor, most of which I have missed out on, either because I had my head stuck up my arse, or because every time I pressed submit I got some sort of default page. Very frustrating!!!!!!!

Not nearly as frustrating as false labor, however, which has been the topic of many of Her Bad Mother's recent posts. Having spent 45+months of my life pregnant, believe me, I can completely sympathize.

So in hopes of cheering up expectant mothers everywhere, I submit to you my own philosophies and stories about false labor.

But before I go any further, I would like to address the whole term "false labor" as I believe it really is a misnomer. In my opinion, there is no such thing as "false" labor. The word false implies "not true", so if someone is in false labor, who is it exactly that is not being true, or more bluntly, lying? No one, valuing their own life, would want to suggest that a woman, forced to pack pounds, and deprived of sleep, alcohol and seeing past her feet, would lie about being in labor, would they? I prefer to refer to, what is commonly known as, "false labor" as warm up labor.

Warm up labor occurs as the body begins to ready itself for the marathon that is childbirth. You can't just run a marathon without training for it; and your body can't just burst into labor and then spit out a baby. Your body has to practice, and just like training for a marathon is strenuous exercise that can be painful, warm up labor can be as exhausting, though typically not as painful, but painful enough in its own right, as actual labor that eminently leads to childbirth. Women should not be accused of not being in "true" labor, rather it should be explained to them that their body is just in the warm up phase. They should not feel ashamed or embarrassed or they like they are crazy or wimpy. None of that is true. And while, on occasion a woman will just drop her baby like nothing happened, the norm really is that most women suffer with labor pains for days and even weeks before the actual birth of their babies.

And yet the story, told by Her Bad Mother, of going to the hospital and being made to feel foolish by said medical doctor because she came in too soon, is a tale many of us moms know all to well. Not, of course, that any of us want to admit it. We all want to pretend that our only trip to labor and delivery ended happily. Who wants to relive the embarrassment of being told, "oh, this is false labor, you can go home"? Who wants to recall the shrill sound of the doctors and nurses laughing as you leave, and whispering to one another, "can you believe that she thought THAT was labor. Wait til she really is in labor, she'll be a doozy!" Who wants to remember that even your own family turns against you when you are in "false" labor. Your husband demands to know why you can't tell the difference, your mother shakes her head as if to say, you should have known better.

You know who I blame for the whole "false" labor phenomenon? Hollywood. I know, I know, it's an easy target. We blame them for everything. The sexualization of children, the self-esteem problems of people everywhere;etc., but this is legitimate ( not that the other accusations are not, let's face it, Hollywood is blameworthy for many offenses) . In almost every movie that I have seen where a character gives birth ( off the top of my head am thinking: Jerry Maguire, Nine months, and most recently, Baby Mama) labor lasts all of sixty seconds. One minute the pregnant woman is dressed up and dining, as if the past nine months have been a walk in the park, and the next minute she is in the delivery room pushing out, the largest, most perfect looking newborn ever born. Even though we know better, we are conditioned to believe that labor is a one time event. Something that just comes up out of blue, and happens quickly and dramatically.

So when we are nine months pregnant, and we start having symptoms, we figure this must be it! Warm up labor is one of those secrets that other women withhold. No one tells you at the shower," oh just wait til the last month when everyday seems like it's THE DAY." As pregnant women experience, "false labor", they begin to wonder "what is wrong with me?" I remember thinking with my third that my body was playing tricks on me. By the time I had baby number, I finally knew that what I was experiencing was normal.

Don't be fooled by the medical professionals, either, and don't let them make you think that you are dumb because you came into early. Sometimes, they, themselves, don't know.

On Christmas Day, 2006, I gave birth to my youngest daughter. For a change, I was hoping that the baby would not be born early, because as I told everyone, "I just want(ed) to get through Christmas." The baby was actually due New Year's Eve, but I never had made it to my due date in the past, and had previously been almost two weeks early. So I was nervous. I spent the month of December acting like Santa on speed. I was trying to prepare everything just in case...

December twenty-third, I was not a right jolly old elf, I was an absolutely miserable bitch. I was nauseous, exhausted, constantly having contractions, and then my plug came out. My husband ordered me on bed rest. He took the other kids to dinner. At one point that night, I was ready to head for the hospital because I wanted to make sure that I got the pain medication I had missed out on with the last two. I was somewhat reluctant to go, however, because I didn't want to be sent home. I imagined how the nurses would snarl. "You've had four babies and you don't know the difference..."

On the twenty fourth, I spent most of the day resting, but got up to go to a Christmas Eve party, and to help my husband with toys;etc. On Christmas morning, I really felt fine as I watched the kids open gifts. Maybe, that day I thought, I'd make it to New Years. And then, I put the kids in the tub to get ready to go to my brother's house for Christmas Dinner, and the contractions started again, Dun Dun Dun...

My husband, who has never believed that any of our children would actually come out, said to me, "Oh, you'll be fine." We got to my brother's, and I thought better of stuffing my face, didn't want to see it coming back up in a couple of hours. I went to the bathroom and noticed I was gushing blood. I was having contractions that nearly knocked me to the floor, and I decided it was time to go.

Of course, no Doctor was at the hospital, or wanted to come to the hospital. The nurse checked me, and I was only 3 centimeters, which was what I was at the OB office a few days earlier. She hooked me up to the monitor, and quickly concluded that I should probably be sent home. Not only was I seriously disappointed that I was wasting my Christmas, I felt like a fool and a wimp because I really was in a lot of pain. and I really believed that it was time.

The nurse suggested that I walk before I leave, and I obliged. I made about three trips around the floor, stopping from the pain every few feet, and cursing like a sailor- at that point, I was truly deluded by the pain. "If this isn't fucking labor", I told my husband, "I don't know what is."

We passed the nurses station and I told them I was ready to go home. I heard the snickering and the laughing and the whispering, but I didn't even care. I went back to the room to wait to be released. I sat on the bed and immediately my water broke. I told my husband, "my water just broke." Calmly, he stated that I must be wrong and that I probably just peed my pants.

Wanting to kill him, but in too much pain to do so, I said, "then go and get the nurse and tell her that I just need to go the bathroom."

The nurse came in and said in an uppity voice " you need to go to the bathroom?" "No", I said, "my water just broke, but my husband didn't believe me. So I told him to go and get you so I that I could go to the bathroom.

She looked at me like I was crazy, but she checked me and sure enough, my water had broken. "Well, she said, now we have to admit you."

For about another half of an hour, no one really thought that I was going to have the baby anytime soon, but they were going to let me stay. Then all of the sudden, the storm became violent. I started vomiting, the contractions were beyond intense, and I could hear the nurse on the phone with the doctor, saying "yes, she is ready to deliver RIGHT NOW." They were fumbling about putting bracelets on me, drawing blood, and bringing in all the equipment.

Being the person that I am, I found a moment of solace in knowing that I was right, and when the nurse came back to my bedside, I looked up at her and said "see, I WAS in LABOR." Poetic justice and on Christmas, no less. As if our beautiful baby girl wasn't gift enough...

Our baby girl was born at 11:30p.m. on Christmas night. Now fifteen months later, I have to say even memories of false labor are fond. Remember that, expectant mothers everywhere. Too soon, this too shall pass, and you'll look back at these moments and wonder, where has the time gone?

best of luck to Mrs. Fussypants, and Her Bad Mother, and expectant mothers everywhere... Happy Mother's Day to all and to all a good night.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Things that haven't worked for me

This post is part of the Rocks in My Dryer assignment to tell about things that haven't worked for you.

I have been a mom now for 13+years, so I probably won't be able to list everything that hasn't worked for me, but here is a quick, stream-of-conscious list.

Birth control- something about having to take it everyday, at the same time, really was a problem for me.

Getting organized- I like to buy the bins, read the books, and even get it all set up once, but that whole maintaining thing, not so much my thing.

Cribs- They are really cute look at, and I love all the baby bedding, but actually putting my kids down in them well, never happened. I was a super nut about SIDS and I thought sure if I put my little loves into the bed with bars, it would be all over for both us. I know the AAP and supernanny swear by these devices, I'm just telling you it didn't work for me.

Chore Charts- oh, they are very excited about them when they first go up, but like everything else, once the magic wears off, they're were another piece of junky paper hanging on my bulletin board, and believe me, I do not need that.

For everything you bring in, get one thing out. This goes back to the whole getting organized thing. Great theory, but not so simple to practice.

Moving so the house will be cleaner, in better shape, whatever. Was hoping that our most recent move to an over 4000 sq ft house would somehow magically make my house spotless. I'd have places to put everyone and everything. Unfortunately, having a place for something and actually putting in that place, are two entirely different things. Don't be fooled by the model home, unless you are Martha Stewart, your house will NEVER look that way.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Story #- Barbie has had a terrible accident.

Growing up, I was a princess tomboy. I was always willing to play "ran sack the quarterback", another one of my brother's fab games, in which I was the quarterback, all forty seven pounds of me, and he and my cousin, T.J., were the defense line. Basically, I would try to run past the two of them with the ball for about two seconds until they tackled me. But, on the other hand, I liked to be girlie, dress in pink, watch beauty pageants, and play with my barbie dolls.

All of my Barbies had names, and occupations, and family members. I was always having barbie beauty pageants, and weddings, and I would often force my family to play along with me. I would plead with my mom to judge my beauty pageant. I would beg my oldest brother to play piano for the wedding. Tim, often, was a good sport and would play along- truthfully, I think he liked judging my barbie beauty pageants.

One day, however, my cousin T.J. was over at our house and he and Tim were playing outside. I was in the house minding my own business, when Tim came running into the house to tell me that "Barbie has had a terrible accident." I ran outside to see one of my barbies and one of my kens burned on my driveway in my Barbie corvette.

I screamed and demanded to know what he had done. My brother, being my brother, just spoke calmly. It can't always be beauty pageants and weddings, Laurie, he told me, as if somehow I would see the merit in what he had done. I'm just trying to teach you about real life.

For once, however, he was unable to charm his way out of the situation. He and my cousin were both grounded and forced to earn money to replace my barbies and my barbie corvette, which they had doused in gasoline, that my dad had in the garage, and then lit on fire with a match. Little bastards, they were.

Story #3 The Cadbury Egg explosion

Another one of my brother's hair brained schemes involved my Easter basket. Do you remember when cadbury eggs were first introduced? The bunny in the commercial made chicken sounds before laying those delicious cream filled eggs. I wasn't even sure, at first, that I would like them, but just because of the commercial, I wanted them.

As it turned out, Tim and I both really liked cadbury eggs. If I remember correctly, they came in a three pack box, and so these were the prized possessions of our Easter basket. I liked to save mine and eat them gradually over time. My brother, who at the time was a little chunky, which is funny because now he is the skinniest person I know, and also the most health conscious, would gobble his all up on Easter Sunday.

Like the idiot that I was, I never thought to hide my basket. It was like leaving sheep out for a wolf. Days later, the cadbury eggs were gone. Where did they go? I wondered. My mom and I looked everywhere, but nothing. My brother, knowing, he would be the obvious suspect, "came clean". Oh, he said, I'm really sorry. I saw your eggs still in your basket, and I didn't want them to melt, so I put them in the freezer. I went to make sure that they were still there, and that's when I saw that they had exploded. I'm really sorry, he said.

Even my mom believed him,, although pretty much to this today, she treats anything that either of my brothers say as Gospel. A little while later, however, my brother's burning desire to tell me how he had pulled one over on me won out. Since, it was so much after the fact, he didn't even get in trouble. I didn't learn from the experience, either, so I guess it served me right when the next year he stole my Easter candy and sold it at lunch to his friends. I only found this out because one of his friends had a crush on me and ratted him out.

My brother's worst punishment for all the wrongs that he perpetrated against me is that I do have a razor sharp memory. I often recall these incidents to embarrass him. Of course, he always denies that these events ever transpired, but deep down inside, he knows, and I know... and I have a wealth of funny stories to tell, and now I am grown up and I can buy as many cadbury eggs as I want, and I play with my daughter's Barbies, so all in all, in retrospect, I am glad that my brother was the little shit, I mean, prankster that he was.

Monday, May 5, 2008



As the title of this post states, cinco de mayo is also my brother's birthday! Tim, my older brother, turns thirty six today. How can this be? I remember when he turned ten like it was yesterday. I remember when I was younger and people would ask me how much of an age difference there was between us. We are about two and a half years apart. In the old days, I would lower that number to an even two years, and sometimes, I'd even say eighteen months- like when he brought his friends home from high school. Now, I'm thinking, really, he is a solid three years older than I am.

In any case, Tim and I are very close, and in fact, he created the nickname, Laurie of the seven stories for me, on account of the fact that he says I am always repeating the same stories from our childhood over and over again. To be an ass, now when I recount a tale from our youth, he will often shout out a number, that's # six, he'll say. He has also enlisted my husband to help him number the stories. Mentally, they are both still about ten.

No matter what story I tell, Tim always says, I don't remember that. Of course, I know that he does. He always says to me, how can you remember that? In honor of his birthday, I will tell three of my favorite Tim and I stories. I am quite certain that you will agree, they are rather memorable, and not easily forgotten. For today, I only have time for one, so tune in again tomorrow for stories two and three.

#1 My brother wasn't a pro wrestler, but he played one on me.

My brother was a huge fan of wrestling when we were kids, not real wrestling mind you, WWF, which is now WWE. I know this because, through no fault of mine or my husband's, our boys also love wrestling. Must be some genetic weak link. Anyhow, thank god, they have each other to wrestle, although on occasion they can be found attempting a "fake" choke slam on one of their three sisters.

But back to my brother. He had only me or my older brother, John, to wrestle, so I was his victim, I mean partner. Not only did my brother wrestle me, he would simultaneously announce the match, and provide commentary.

One particular Sunday morning, my brother was up on the top ropes of my mom's brass bed, when he jumped onto my wrist and snapped the bone in half at the growth spot. The wind was knocked out of me, so it took a few minutes for me to vocalize my pain. When I finally was able to breathe again, and thus cry, my brother said, you're faking it. It took you two minutes to start crying.

I couldn't breathe, I told him. He didn't believe me. He told my mom that I was trying to get out of going to church. My mother threatened to take me to the ER. I'll take you to the ER room, she said, in a threatening voice, so that I would stop acting. I replied, please do.

I was hospitalized for two days because the swelling needed to go down before they could set my arm.

How did it happen? everyone wanted to know. I knew if I told the truth, my brother would be in big trouble, so I said that we were playing around on the bed and I hit my arm against the post. The doctor's didn't believe me. They questioned my mother about child abuse, probably thinking that someone had helped me make up a story.

I was nine at the time,and I made the story up on my own. My brother didn't ask me to, either. I knew it was an accident, that he didn't mean to hurt me, and I didn't want him to get in trouble on my account. He did play along with my story, though. I guess he figured if I wasn't telling, neither would he. He did come and visit me in the hospital, and he brought me a gift that he bought with his own money.

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for my brother. He can be extremely self-centered, and temperamental at times, as he was my parent's favorite and the middle child; but all in all, he is a really good brother, and a fun person to be around. Years after, the broken arm event, I out ted him as the culprit, and he admitted blame- sort of- in the sense that he didn't deny my accusation.

Today, I still enjoy listening to l00ny songs that he makes up about people; he often changes words to real songs, and sings them to friends and loved ones. He was always making up songs about his girlfriend, now ex, and singing them to her. It was strange, but entertaining. When we were little, he made up a song about me and my cabbage patch doll. I can't remember to what tune it was to, but the lyrics were "Lor is mental case, Lor is a mental Khayhayhayse, Lor is mental case, and so is Dena Denise." My brother was always the ring leader, so he also had all of my cousins singing that song all summer long. Is it any wonder why I remember?

Tim also does a great impression of someone taking out their false teeth, and someone using a voice talker, you know the automated voice things people use when they have lost the ability to speak. I know it's not very sensitive, or politically correct, but it is funny as hell after a few drinks.

My brother is also a great cook, and an accomplished runner. He is a friend to all who know him, and the source of many of my best and worst childhood memories.

Happy birthday, Tim. Hope you have many more.

P.S. - if forty is the new twenty, he's only sixteen, and I've just become a teenager. Yes, I believe that is true.