Safe

During one of the first weeks of Kindergarten my daughter came home and told me they practiced hiding.

Huh?

“You know. In case a stranger comes to school, so we be safe,” she told me. “Mrs. J locks the door and turns off the lights and we all go to our hiding places.” It was all very matter of fact. I asked JP if his class practiced hiding, too. “Oh yeah. It’s like a fire drill or tornado drill, you know, just in case.”

“So we be safe.”

If there is one place on the planet that I thought my child would be safe from random acts of violence it was her Kindergarten classroom.

“So we be safe.”

I couldn’t fathom the kids ever needing to use that knowledge. Middle school? High school? Sure, maybe. But elementary school? We don’t need to scare them. It’s too much. Right?

“So we be safe.”

The news that a gunman killed 25 people, mostly in a Kindergarten classroom, some (and, if reports are correct, most) are children. I can’t fathom. I don’t understand. They are just babies. I can’t reconcile how anyone could look at a five year old and pull a trigger.

Last week we had to talk to the kids about what to do if anyone tried to take them. Why? The grandson of one of our school’s teachers was nearly abducted at gunpoint. Tonight we’ll talk to them about what they should do if a stranger comes into their classroom. It feels so wrong.

“So we be safe.”

What I want to do, right this very second, is go to school and put my arms around my babies and know, unequivocally, that they are safe. My heart breaks for the families, the lives lost, and the parents who had part of their heart and souls torn from them. Thinking about what they are going through makes it hard to breathe.

“So we be safe.”

Our kids deserve at least that, right?

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It’s Liz’s fault

Elf on the Shelf.

I hate, hate, Elf on the Shelf.

How’s the introduction of the elf work anyway?

Mom: Hey kids! Not only is an old fat guy watching you, here’s a creepy, floppy piece of felt with no discernible appendages, a permanent smirk, and a head that can rotate all. the. way. around who is reporting your every move to the aforementioned old fat guy.

Kids: YAY!!!

Mom: Isn’t voyeurism fun?!? Scoot along and behave. The elf is watching!

Except, according to my FB feed, that elf is a prick.

Throwing flour all over the floor and making an elf angel? Drawing mustaches on all the pictures? Fishing goldfish crackers out of the toilet? Taking a bubble bath in marshmallows? Toilet papering the living room? Not only does the little bastard creep around, he makes a mess?

Thank you, no.

Good thing my kids don’t give a rat’s patoot about ye olde Elf of Shame, amirite?

Until this year.

The Universe decided it needed a giggle and my daughter came home from school regaling her brothers with tales of her friends’ elves’ antics. Then came the request I’d been dreading: CAN WE HAVE AN ELF?

And I said, “No! The elf is creepy! No way. NO ELF!”

Confession: at our house it sometimes take the tooth fairy three or four nights before she actually gets around to collecting her bounty. Elf Shaming 24 nights in a row? During one of the busiest times of the year? Yeah. Not likely. The weird factor + the lazy parent factor does not make for a good formula in the Elf of Shame Game.

I kept repeating my mantra, “NO ELF! NO ELF!” and my heathens, little bastards that they are, kept begging, spurred on by Tales of Elfin Awesomeness.

My friend Liz’s elf was especially creative and charming and I most often heard all about his antics. Until, that is, he was dismembered by the family dog.

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[*snicker*]

But her second grader (who’s in SG’s class) was so upset that Santa dispatched another elf tout de suite and her kid came to school talking about the new elf and Santa’s note…

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You’re such a dick, Liz.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that we own an elf. I picked up the kit for $3 at a garage sale a couple years ago because another friend was all, “ZOMG! It’s SO FUN!” and me, being an idiot, believed her. For the record, she LIES.

Frustrated, I took to Facebook, calling out the Pro-Elf Shamers:

elffb

And then this happened:

elffb2

With that declaration, Liz and I confirmed our tickets to Hell, and off we went. The goal: pervert Elf on the Shelf as much as humanly possible.

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D**k in the Box elves. Unoriginal, yes. But! Those are custom made and wrapped Lego d**k boxes. Plus, the styling of the picture feels authentic to the elves’ personalities. Or something.

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50 Shades of Elfin Naughtiness. You’ve been bad? You’ll take your fir branch spanking and you’ll like it! (Photo, staging, and idea credit go to S____.)

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“Why hello, Ladies. Do you know what my favorite Christmas song is? That’s right. ‘Jingle Bells.'”
Anyone else surprised by the striped elf winkie?

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Christmas Dinner

elf

Elf, fed-up with years of hard labor and no glory (or cookies), decided it was time for the lazy old fat man to get what he deserved.
And to all a good night, indeed.

It’s so fun. Like, this, THIS, is what Christmas is about. Giggling. Being inappropriate. Not spending any money. Collaborating on subversive scenes. The Baby Jesus.

Wait. Not the Baby Jesus. Clearly, Liz and I’s version of Elf on the Shelf is not appropriate for an infant. Or Jesus. And, really, none of this has anything to do with Christmas. It just gives us an excuse to be inappropriate and avoid housework.

Anyway.

It’s all fun and games until you get caught.

My kids saw the damn elf in the top of my closet (thank goodness it was not longer bound in the leather straps from my purse) because my husband, funny man that he is, wrapped it around a lint brush.

Shit.

So now? Now we have the mØth3rf***ing elf. It doesn’t do anything but move around the house and I feign irritation, anger, and outright indignation that the little fucker had the audacity to wander our house. The kids, little weirdos, are like “ZOMG! IT MOVED!” and then I get good and huffy and declare, “It better stay there because we are NOT doing the elf.”

Except we are.

And it’s all Liz’s fault.

I hate Elf on the Shelf.

Food allergies are really real (see also: believe the hype)

A mom in Canada wants the oak trees near her kids’ schools cut down because of peanut allergies. Here’s the takeaway if you don’t have the time to read a story about Stupid:

“The acorns are not only presenting a risk to the tree-nut-allergic students, but it is also becoming a great cause of anxiety among all students with nut allergies.” Donna Giustizia also said, according to The Star,   that “acorns can also be used to bully and torment children.”

1. Peanuts are not actually nuts, they’re a legume. Acorns? Those are actually nuts.

2. Peanut plants and oak trees are not in the same family.

3. The protein structure of acorns and peanuts are not remotely similar.

4. Who the hell eats acorns?

5. I can almost see the point about acorns being used to “bully and torment children”…except the trees are on school grounds so one would assume an actual grown-up authority figure is around to stop the little heathens from pelting each other with acorns.

Side note: Our oak trees are evil bastards that harass all who pass by dropping their nuts right on your head. It hurts. Sometimes Mr. G wears an honest-to-god hard-hat while he’s raking the yard so he doesn’t get a concussion. TRUE STORY. That’s just the front yard acorns. They’re teeny and little. The acorns in the backyard are the size of golf balls and could knock you out if the wind was blowing just so. Stupid trees.

I digress.

Thanks to people like Donna Giustizia I once again feel compelled to defend my daughter’s allergies from people who take the bullshit acorn claim to foster their idea food allergies are hype.

The comments I read from a Facebook thread:

Bubble Boy. Fucking hysterical.

Hyperbolic snail comment. Yes. That’s exactly what a mom like me wants. NO NUTS FOR ANYONE. Guess what? No more peanuts means my mom won’t be able to make peanut butter fudge at Christmastime and that would just really suck. My kid may be allergic to peanuts but the rest of our family likes peanut butter. So…you know…bite me, unfunny dude. And? NO PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE FOR YOU!

But, really, the it’s the Panda’s comment that freaks me out and pisses me off.

My daughter’s allergies are real. They are real and they are scary and they are not hype.

Were SG to ingest a peanut (or cashew…or pistachio- you get the picture) she could actually die.

I promise she’s not holding her breath or being overly dramatic, her airway is really closing. Her body is really shutting down.

She can’t magically make the splotchy red hives, swollen eyes and lips, and horrific itching come and go at will. She’s REALLY having a reaction to something she’s REALLY allergic to.

I’ve watched it happen. I’ve literally watched her body become covered with hives, her face swell, her little hands itch at her skin so hard it draws blood.

I wish her allergy was hype. I wish I didn’t worry that some little shit at school is going to flick peanut butter on her because they want to see what will happen. I wish I didn’t have to worry that some asshole adult would disregard her allergy and try to slip her something she shouldn’t eat (to prove SG’s not really allergic) because they thought food allergies were bunk. I wish I didn’t have to write a dissertation and spend a couple hundred dollars on medication to have on hand just in case at the beginning of every school year. I can think of at least 200 ways I would rather spend $200 and none of those ways would include prednisone, Benadryl, or an EpiPen.

I love, really love, that her school, her friends, her teachers, and other parents have been so accommodating. She has a couple of buddies who stopped bringing peanut butter for lunch because they didn’t want to make SG sick. The paras in the cafeteria wipe down her table with a clean cloth as a precaution. Other parents ask, “Can SG eat _____.” just in case. Last year her teacher called me more than a few times to double-check that the snack they were having that day was okay, “She says she’s had it before, I just want to make sure.”

Am I some sort of anti-allergy tyrant mother? No. Hardly. In SG’s backpack is a safe snack. I send her with her own lunch that is contained (re: doesn’t touch the cafeteria table just in case). I’ve assured the school that I don’t want her isolated at lunch, so she sits at the end of the lunch table and the child across from her and next to her don’t have nuts in their lunch. Her classroom is nut free and the other parents know it’s because of SG. I’ve also told them that if they have any questions or concerns to please call or email me. SG doesn’t remember her life before allergies so she knows what she can and can’t eat. She will ask. She is responsible. I am responsible.

I know there are parents out there (I’m looking at you Canadian Acorn Mom) who think the world needs to turn upside down and inside out because of their child’s allergies- you can’t expect that. You can’t. You educate the people in your kid’s life, you educate and empower your child and teach them how to be responsible for themselves. You teach them how to stay safe in a world that is full of people who don’t always wash their hands or wipe down surfaces after eating. You answer questions like, “What can she eat?” with a smile and patience even though it makes you want to pull out your hair. People who don’t live with food allergies find the subject mind-boggling (which it is. it SO is.). You cannot ask a city to cut down trees, pave over all the grass, or prevent gardeners from growing a tomato or strawberry. You cannot ask other parents to not let their kids eat peanuts ever. It creates an environment of resentment and puts children with allergies in the position of being the pariah. It paints parents of kids with allergies as controlling, demanding, and unreasonable which ultimately makes our kids unsafe because it fosters resentment.

And if you’re dead set on believing that food allergies are hype? Fine. Believe it. Just stay the hell away from my little girl.

You’ve been warned

If, the words “President-elect Romney” and “Vice President-elect Paul Ryan” are uttered on the morning news tomorrow the entire tenor of this blog will change. People think I’m liberal, opinionated, and political now? They haven’t seen anything yet.

I’m thankful for sarcasm

It’s November which is every blog reader’s dream. Such a plethora of riveting, mind-blowing posts await us in November.

IT’S EPIC, Y’ALL.

Except it’s not.

(#sarcasm)

Why November Blog Posts Make Me Cranky
(while numbered, they’re in no particular order regarding the level of irritation)

1. Daily thankful posts. It would  make me thankful if you didn’t. Or, if you’re going to insist on doing it, put something personal into it. I eat that stuff up. Those thankful posts are lovely.

2. Daily thankful posts taken via Instagram. It’s like #1. But worse. Instagram does not a photographer make. And, yeah, that includes you (YES YOU).

3. Daily NaNoWriMo updates. Go get a nifty badge or word counter thingy and put it on your blog. Please.

4. Pictures of food. Unless they’re pretty. Instagram photos are not pretty. Please see Pioneer Woman et al for pictures of pretty food.

5. Pictures of food you ate. No one wants to see how clean you were able to get your plate. Half eaten chicken, leftover mashed potatoes…gross. Really. IT’S NASTY. STOP IT.

6. Link ups. Ugh.

7. Memes. See #6.

8. Thanksgiving Day recaps.
(Actually, recaps that are a play-by-play of what you did on any given day/weekend/holiday are boring even when a turkey is not involved.)

9. Any and all Christmas posts that go up prior to November 22, 2012. Your tree could have a real damn angel sitting on the top bough and I will still be grumpy about Christmas jumping the damn shark.

10. Recipes copied straight from another blog or website. Please. don‘t. If you make something that’s really delicious, tell your readers what it was, embed a link to the original recipe. No exceptions.

Turkeys are ugly. This hedgehog, while having absolutely nothing to do with anything, is freaking adorable.

 

So! You don’t want your daughter to dress as a slutty [________]

It’s November 1st which means this post is one of two things: too late, and slightly irrelevant -OR- the first Halloween 2013 post. For the record  (because this could win me an interoffice contest probably sometime in June), it is my contention of the latter: Earliest Halloween Post of 2013.

For Halloween 2012 (re: yesterday) SG decided to be a flamingo after she saw this costume:

 

So cute. Age appropriate. Fun and sparkly. NOT SLUTTY. Winner!

…or not. Halloween is my favorite but even I draw the line at spending over $150 on a costume.

Time to pull out the glue gun.

I started with a long sleeve t-shirt and a pink skirt:

So Jenni brand from Macy’s- I think the cost was less than $20 for both.

A flamingo is not a flamingo without feathers. Enter three, seven-foot long feather boas from Hobby Lobby. They’re $7.99 a piece BUT I used a 40% off coupon on all of them (separate trips but whatever) so a whopping total of $15 on boas.

I tacked the boas (the feathers are attached to a soft rope) using a needle and thread (I sewed? I SEWED.) and just scalloped the light pink boa and 1 1/2 of the hot pink boa around the skirt. I used the other half of the hot pink boa and lined each of the outside arms of the t-shirt.

It’s also worth noting- because I lost my fucking mind- that I also made feathers by cutting out and layering three different colors of pink tulle. Each color was a different size feather. I made hundreds. I wasn’t going to admit to this but I’m nothing if not honest.

Or something.

I pinned the tulle feathers all over the skirt and shirt, in layers (for extra beauty and poofiness) and then, against the advice of pretty much everyone with any sewing ability whatsoever, I glued the tulle feathers with fabric glue. Much to everyone’s surprise (especially mine), it worked.

My original intent was to *just* make a tail feather using the boa. But it looked so.damn.cute. that I chucked the hours I spent cutting, pinning, and gluing and went ahead and boa’d the front.

Her shirt looked really cute…but was lacking that special something.

So I bought a bag of loose feathers and glued them around the neck.

(Between JP, SG, and XC’s costumes I no longer have fingerprints from all the hot gluing. Life of crime here I come!)

I bought a plain mask and Mr. G painted it.

After:

Mr. G painted it (free, because we already had the paint), we lined it with the silver beads (free, they were leftover from the epic Glinda costume of 2010), the false eyelashes were purchased at Sally’s Beauty Supply for $4.50. I bought one sprig of pink glittery floral spikes for $2 (on sale for 50% off at Hobby Lobby) I cut strips of tule to use in place of a ribbon or elastic band to keep it on her head. Total cost for the mask (ish): $10.

We didn’t put feathers on the mask because SG is sort of weird about things touching her face but she had to have feathers on her head somewhere. Channeling Kate Middleton I designed and made (re: completely winged and hot glued) a fascinator. I used a fascinator base (I think I maybe paid $4.50 for it on sale) and glued other feathers and spikes that we already had:

We she sported her old ballet tights and silver boots. Free and free because we already owned them.

The finished flamingo girl:

Her trick or treat bag (which is so rudely blocking her skirt) was a pink sequined satchel that her grandma purchased to coordinate with her costume.

The individual pieces:

Flamingo shirt

The skirt survived the Halloween parade and party at school plus three hours of hardcore trick or treating.

All in all I spent a little over $50 on the costume. That sort of sounds like a lot BUT store-bought costumes usually run around $25. Then you *have* to buy accessories so I don’t feel like I spent way beyond the usual costume budget, you know? SG LOVED it, she was warm, she looked like a little girl, not some tiny street-walker or Vegas showgirl.

Had I skipped the tulle feathers (and I really should have skipped the tulle feathers), I could have made this costume in few hours. I just tacked the boas (threaded a needle, pulled it through the center of the boa, then started knotting like crazy)- even my no-sew self handled it just fine. As for the mask, were I not married to Mr. G (and thank goodness I am) I would have painted it pink, then glued sticker gems in a swirly design. I wouldn’t have been intricate as what Mr. G was able to paint, but it still would have been fun, inexpensive, and easy.

There’s no beak because SG is weird about smells (really weird) so we went with an abstract interpretation of a flamingo.

Something like this could easily be translated onto another kind of foul: blue bird, red bird, whatever. They sell boas in a ton of colors. Plus, you have 364 days to gather the materials and get started. Halloween 2013, here we  come!

We don’t skip a beat

Five years…10 years…15+ years between visits.

Twenty years (and then some) of friendship.

Moves, break-ups, marriages, babies, grown-up jobs, houses, life.

We just pick up where we left off.

So. much. laughter.

And love. Lots of that, too.

It’s not conventional, or even remotely normal (heh), but it’s our family.

Good times never seemed so good…

 

Soup weather!

It’s cold, dreary, rainy, and blustery and that means today is the perfect day for soup. If I’m brave and not lazy, I will take all the children* to the store and acquire the following ingredients:

2 lbs. of pork

1 T. oil

1 t. Chinese 5 Spice Powder

1 T. minced garlic

1 t. ginger powder

1/4 c. soy sauce (since we try to stay soy free I’ll use coconut aminos)

1/4 c. brown sugar

3 chopped green onions

1/2 oz. dried mushrooms soaked in 1 c. water

2 c. fresh spinach

1 c. bean sprouts (not necessary but I like the texture)

2-4 cups chicken stock, the amount depends on if you want a brothy soup or a stew

Then I will do this:

First up, braise your pork. Heat your oil in a heavy stockpot. Sear your pork on all sides until it’s brown and pretty. Remove it from the pot and toss the garlic and ginger in for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped green onions and stir ’em around for 30 seconds or so. Add 2 c. chicken stock to start, brown sugar, soy sauce and Chinese 5 Spice Powder. Stir, stir, stir and get all the good bits off the bottom of the pot. Chop up your pork into cubes and return to the pot. Cover and let it simmer for a couple of hours, stirring every once in a while. Trust me, this is worth the time.

After two or three hours, throw in the mushrooms with their soaking water (you could cut them but Mr. G and SG don’t like mushrooms so leaving them whole makes it easier for them to pick around the offending fungi bits). At this point decide if you want soup or stew. I want soup so I add a cup or two more of chicken stock (which is usually, actually Better than Bouillon). Bring it back to a simmer and toss in the spinach and let it wilt.

And then? I will ladle that awesome goodness into some bowls and eat up.

But.

If I’m lazy (and, let’s be honest, this is the perfect weather for laziness), we’ll have egg drop soup because that doesn’t require me to leave my house wearing real pants.

OR!

Someone who loves me very much could go to Blue Koi for their braised pork soup and save me the trouble of cooking at all.

*ahem*

Anyone?

No?

Damn.

*It’s parent-teacher conference time so the big kids get a FOUR DAY effing weekend. Yay.

Sunday morning airing of grievences

1) My dogs. They’re assholes. Barking, muddy paws, and suddenly becoming incontinent because ZOMG it’s raining outside. Fuckers.
2) Three- year olds. THE HELL? I bribe you to poop, every meal is hand delivered, you have more toys than FAO Schwartz. Yet you still have tantrums? A little over-dramatic, don’t you think?
3) Not. sleeping. through. the. night. See points one and two. Four times. Each.
4) Sibling rivalries/arguments. Get the fuck away from each other and stop talking. Seriously? It’s not that hard. WHY MUST IT BE THAT HARD?
5) Not having a live-in maid. That’s just horseshit.

The *hilarious* realities of parenting

“I NEED TO POOP!”

It was the tenth time X had yelled that very obvious statement while pacing back and forth between the living room and kitchen. Perched on his tiptoes you could tell he was clinching his tush just as hard as humanly possible.

“So go poop.”

“NOOOOOOOOO!”

“Do you want a diaper?”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

“Well, honey, everybody poops. I don’t know what to tell you. You can go on the potty or you can go in a diaper. You let me know.”

Note: I really didn’t want him to take me up on the diaper offer because he hasn’t used a diaper at all in two weeks and I’m just fine with that thankyouverymcuh.

TMI: I also needed to poop too (Everybody poops, people. Don’t be grossed out.) but I was holding off because I knew- I knew– that the second my ass hit the toilet seat XC would decide he had to go potty.

So I waited…and waited…and waited. A half hour. And then, I couldn’t wait anymore, so I headed to the bathroom.

I NEED TO POOP RIGHT NOW!”

Oh of COURSE he did.

So I paced. With my ass clinched. On my tiptoes. While XC took the longest poop of his life.

And then, when I finally got to take my turn, the little nugget came up and pushed on my tummy. “Your belly is jiggly mom!” he said with glee.

Turd.