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Archive for May, 2013

How Did This Happen?

May 20, 2013 6 comments

I try to be respectful to my husband and not write about his quirks, as he does not blog and has no opportunity to tell the world about the many ridiculous things that I do.  However, I have to speak on this particular issue, because I’m led to believe that it’s a widespread phenomenon.  Also, it probably reflects much more poorly on me, so therefore it’s fair game.

I’ll start by admitting my clumsiness.  I get in a hurry and I hurt myself.  I have a toe that has been broken so many times that it’s barely a toe anymore.  I have closed my front door on my hand.  I have broken my thumb trying to get a bottle of water out of the fridge.  I regularly close the car door on my hair, without realizing it until I try to move my head.  I own this peculiarity of mine.  I’m a klutz and I get ridiculous injuries.

Now, since this is not a new thing about me, you might think that my husband of seventeen years might be used to it by now.  You might suspect that when I get a new injury, he will rush to my aid without question.  You would be very wrong on that front, my friend.

A couple of weeks ago, I was getting something out of the refrigerator.  Things went downhill rather quickly and before I even knew what was happening, an avalanche of bottles fell out, a shelf fell onto my hand (a direct hit on that previous broken bone…SCORE) and one wayward water bottle was steadily pouring 16.9 ounces of water directly under my oven.  Trapped by the shelf and hypnotized by the flood of water, I couldn’t do anything but call for help.

Hubs arrived at the scene promptly and I breathed a sigh of relief, waiting for my rescue from the wayward shelf.  I was sorely disappointed as the scene before him was apparently more than he could process.  I didn’t hear, “Oh, let me help you from that salad-dressing induced trap.”  What I heard was what I always hear when these things happen.  “What the hell happened here?  How did you do this??”

I don’t know, I don’t know.  I never know how I did that.  It’s as if I black out while aliens and/or malicious ghosts wreak havoc upon my life and all I know is that something stupid has injured me yet again.  Now, I understand that my catastrophes are laughable.  I don’t, say, fall down the stairs and sprain my ankle like a normal person.  I get thirsty and my refrigerator attacks me.  I don’t know why and I certainly don’t understand how this happened.  All I know is that I now have a mini-flood under the oven, which is, incidentally, busy cooking and I have a heavy hunk of appliance resting on my abused thumbbone.  The very last thing I am capable of at this moment is any coherent explanation.

To his credit, he has, over the years, gotten much quicker at springing into action.  He just needs a bit of prodding in the form of “I don’t know!  It just happened, please just help me.”  I have tried to include this in my original cry for help, but it’s not terribly effective.  He’s always frozen for at least a split-second when he arrives at the scene.

Recently, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in my children.  My son asked me for at least a week after this event, just how that happened.  I still have no answer for him, no more than my daughter can answer just how she fell down while walking across a room.  I have come to believe that both of my guys possess an orderly type of brain that can’t process the chaotic events that seem to stalk my daughter and me.

So this is my message to the world of orderly brains who encounter people like us.  Bizarre things happen to us.  We get into inexplicable situations from which we require rescue.  You are wasting everyone’s time by asking how that happened.  It will forever be a mystery.  Please just extricate us from the part of our home/car/world that has attacked us and try not to laugh too loudly.

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Pug Hunting

May 20, 2013 6 comments

Hubs and I have recently decided to get a puppy.  We’re fairly locked in on a pug puppy.  When I say fairly locked in, I mean that Hubs actually spoke the words, “We will get a pug puppy or we will have no dog at all.”  Before anyone jumps on me about adoption and rescues, I feel I must mention that we have two cats and two kids and, for a variety of reasons, it’s important for us to have a fresh new puppy that we can bend to our will socialize from day one.  So, as much as I know about all of the older dogs who desperately need homes, that’s not going to be a successful story for our situation.

Let me tell you about pug puppies.  People who have pug puppies are PROUD of them.  Like, $600-$2000 proud.  These numbers may not shock you, but as a cat person who has never paid for a pet in my entire life, I’ll tell you, they floored me.  Hundreds of dollars for a dog.  I just can’t see it.  It makes me re-evaluate my whole dog plan.  Cats are free, you know.  You can practically walk around the neighborhood and find a couple of kittens who need a home.  Sadly, there are probably no kittens on earth who need a home with a cranky, seventeen-year-old Queen cat who hates every other feline on earth and just barely tolerates the one with whom she shares living space.  And if the kitten could win her over, it would still have to deal with our monster cat, who literally does try to eat everything that doesn’t eat him first, humans included.  This is much of the reason that we’ve decided that our new pet should be of the canine variety.  A kitten would just be an annoying snack around here.

So, here I am, longing for a pug puppy and resolutely unwilling to fork over hundreds of dollars for one.  What’s a girl to do?  The way I see it, we have a few options.

  1. Decide that a pit bull is an acceptable substitute for a pug.  This town in covered up in pit puppies.  Hell’s bells, people, have you never heard of spaying and neutering?  Was Bob Barker just talking to himself all those years?
  2. Find a reputable breeder that offers payment plans.  I jest, although this is a real thing.  I will finance a house, I will finance a car, I will never, ever finance a dog.  A dog that must be bought in installments is a dog that is way too fancy for me.
  3. Scour all pug owners in a 200 mile radius for one who is expecting a litter and doesn’t know that they can make money on those babies.  In other words, a pug owner who is a hermit with no internet connection.
  4. Find a nearby pug breeder who likes to give bargains to close friends and make him/her my new BFF.
  5. Find a pug owner with a cake addiction and work out a cake-for-puppy barter.
This tastes better than a puppy.

Tastes way better than puppies, I assure you.

Okay, okay.  I know what’s going to happen.  At some point, I’m going to come off the checking account and pay for a puppy.  I know that.  I’m just not at that point yet.  It’s going to take a month or two of searching the interwebs and fielding “when are we getting a dog” nagging from my firstborn before I reach that point.

Now come on, isn’t there someone out there who has a pug puppy who wants to come live with us?  I have cake.

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I Am Dying of Standardized Testing

May 20, 2013 2 comments

I bitch a lot about our school system.  I’m aware of this unattractive trait, but I’ve just decided to just go with it.  My latest gripe?  SOLs.

If you’re unaware, SOL stands for Standards of Learning, and also Shit Outta Luck, meaning that toward the end of the school year, you are shit outta luck if you were planning a life that includes fun, relaxation, low levels of stress or anything outside of studying massive study guides that may or may not cover the information on the test.  These tests are a much a measure of the quality of education in the school as the students’ ability.  Big Brother gathers these test scores to determine if the student is promoted to the next grade, and also determines if the school is doing well enough to, I don’t know, receive government funds, keep their teachers employed or avoid a governmental finger-shaking.  I’m actually not 100% clear on the consequences of low test scores, but I do know that most of my children’s teachers are freaking the hell out about it.

via apsva.us

via apsva.us

Here’s what I’ve got.  I have one child who has a brain like a computer, does not forget information (ever.  literally. ask him sometime about oceanic upwelling.), and takes a standardized test like a boss.  This one is also pretty high-strung and tends to shut down in high stress circumstances.  I have another child who is equally as brilliant, but does not test well and tends to forget everything she has ever learned in her entire life when someone puts a Scantron sheet in front of her.  When in a high stress situation, she starts throwing up and gets migraines.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going here.  I get that these tests are important.  I am willing to sacrifice my free time in the evenings to review all this mind-numbing information with these children.  I will make sure they get plenty of sleep and a good breakfast before the test.  I will find practice tests on the internet and force them to take them on Sunday afternoons, which is clearly just shy of cruel and unusual punishment, won’t someonecalltheauthoritiesplease!  My point it, I’ve got this.  I know how these kids learn and I know how they best prepare for testing.  I know that one needs all the math practice she can get in order to pass and I know the other one damn near needs medication to get through the essay-writing portion.

I also know that what neither one of them need is the incredible pressure that the schools put on these children.  There are ways, I am sure, to impress upon these kids the significance of the tests without crushing them in stress.  And I’m certain that our teachers are experienced enough and well-trained enough to understand the impact that this has on some children.  You want my kid to have a nervous breakdown?  Use the words “fail” and “test” in the same sentence, then sit back and enjoy the show.  There will be many tears and much vomit.

So, I’m okay with spending a whole night discussing 5th and 8th grade science, only to find out that virtually nothing we studied appeared on the 8th grade test.  I’m okay with signing off on my son’s math notes, ensuring that he studied.  (This was a lie, but considering that this kid has earned a perfect score on every math SOL he’s ever taken, I’m pretty sure he’s good.)  I’m good with you reminding the kids to get a good night’s sleep and I think it’s really rather touching when you give the 8th graders a juice and a snack on test day.  I am just not down with the stress-inducing lectures and I promise every teacher out there, for every scary speech you give my children about testing, they get three more at home contradicting everything you’ve said.

I’m just trying to keep the crazy to a minimum around here, you know.

Not Cool, Bill Gates.

May 6, 2013 10 comments

Hubs and I recently bought a new computer.  I almost never use it, preferring to navigate the web on my phone or work computer.  You see, our new computer came with a scourge worse than that fake FBI warning virus.  It came with Windows 8.

What fresh hell is this?  Admittedly, I am not a fan of change, most especially when it comes to my technology.  But I know Windows.  I can deal with it.  You tweak Windows a little bit?  No biggie, I can work through it.

But this.  This is not a tweak.  This is a Frankenstein monster of an Xbox and a smart phone.  My damn computer asked me to tap something.  I am not ashamed to admit that this precipitated a major fit of rage in which I shouted at my computer that, “You do not TAP a computer!!  You CLICK on a damn computer.  I’ll be ***damned if I’ll TAP MY DAMN COMPUTER!  I’m going to CLICK AND YOU’RE GOING TO LIKE IT!!”

My computer should not induce these feelings of anger.  My computer should be a computer.  I should not have to hold the mouse just so in the this corner or that corner, waiting for another screen to offer itself.  I should not have to ask someone how the hell I get to Google.  I leave my computer on at all times, not only because it’s convenient, but also because I don’t know how to shut the uncooperative thing down properly.  There is no start menu.  There are TILES.  TILES!!  What the hell is this bullshit!

diylol.com

diylol.com

I’m led to believe that the powers that be at Microsoft are trying to make things easier for us.  Oh, fiddlesticks.  This is not easier.  If you can’t navigate from your Xbox to your computer without understanding that they are DIFFERENT, then you probably have no business owning these devices.  If you possess the intelligence to operate technical devices, I think it’s fair to assume that you are capable of using a start menu.  You are probably capable of finding your “My Pictures” file without it presenting itself to you on a tile.  And, in case all my assumptions are wrong here, I shudder to think of how frustrated you will be when you actually do try to tap on your monitor.

Look, I am not a computer whiz.  I am not a techie.  However, I’ve been using computers since the days when you had to program the damn things yourself if you wanted them to do anything.  A computer doesn’t have a whole lot that’s going to stump me.  But this!  This is just outrageous, Microsoft.  Unless you were really out to make a bunch of otherwise intelligent people feel incompetent and embarrassed by their computers, then this is a massive failure.  I beg of you, please bring Windows back!  (Does this new one even have windows?  Isn’t that why it’s called “Windows?”)

Until someone at Microsoft comes to their senses, (ahem, Bill Gates, ahem), then my life is a sham.  I’ll have to pretend that I’m endlessly fascinated by Solitaire, the one application that I can find without fail.  I have to continue to pretend that I’m too busy to help my kids if they encounter a computer problem.  I have to pretend that I prefer to do Google searches on my old, slow phone with the three-inch screen because it’s more convenient.  Microsoft, if this goes on, you’re going to be responsible for some serious trust issues in my family.  I hope you’re prepared to live with that.

**Hubs repeatedly tells me that Bill Gates is not responsible for this atrocity.  I hold that he is ultimately responsible for everything that Microsoft does.  There is a time when the parent must put his foot down, is there not?

A Mother’s Day Wish

May 6, 2013 2 comments

Last night I dreamed that I had another baby.  In the dream, I held the new baby and looked at Hubs with joy, saying, “I got a do-over!”

Mother’s Day quickly approaches and, as always, it makes me deep and contemplative.  I don’t know a single mother who doesn’t beat herself up relentlessly for not being perfect.  I also know that there is no such thing as a perfect anything, let alone a perfect mother.  It’s a path fraught with obstacles, complexities, fears and a deep and abiding love and responsibility that threatens to swallow us whole every minute of every day.

I am flawed.  I am not a perfect mother.  I am impatient.  I get angry quickly.  I forget things.  I have impossibly high standards.  I do things wrong.  I make bad choices sometimes.  I get loud.  I hold grudges.

With all of that (and even more that I haven’t shared), I’ve not ruined my children.  They don’t cower in my presence.  They laugh with me, they bring me their problems, and they know, above all else, that I will always, always have their backs, even when they screw up.  That is what a mother does.  Let’s face it, they’re not perfect either, and even if I had never made a cringe-worthy mommy mistake, they still wouldn’t be perfect.  And if their imperfection sometimes makes me grind my teeth and/or want to throw them through a wall, well, then, at that moment my restraint goes down as good and loving mothering.

When I was a new mother, I often gazed upon my babies in wonder.  In those quiet moments, I was filled with awe at these marvelous little people who had been given to me and filled with a terrible fear that I would not be up to the challenge.  Now, as I gaze at my children, they stare back and make faces and I am filled with the knowledge that I don’t know anything about these strangers.  Sometimes I wish for the days before they were mobile and vocal because I would happily take a string of sleepless nights with a colicky baby when faced with the terror and uncertainty these adolescents strike in a mother’s heart.  And I am still pretty sure that I’m not up to the challenge.

via scienceofrelationships.com

via scienceofrelationships.com

But we grow with our children.  That’s what mothers do.  That’s why we worry and dream about do-overs.  We want to go back to the stuff we know because we make it up as we go along and we whisper fervent prayers that we’re not doing too much damage.  We cry when we can’t fix it.  Our entire day can be ruined by a kid who’s grumpy before school.  We define ourselves by these unpredictable, unbalanced little people who won’t  hesitate to tell us that we don’t understand and furthermore, we obviously don’t love them.  They cut us to the bone with the most passing, careless comment.  We are chronically insecure.  We hold ourselves to standards that no one could meet and we quietly, secretly hate ourselves just a little bit (or sometimes a lot) for not being better.  We see the so-called perfect moms and we’re tempted to believe that they are better than us, when really, they’re just better at hiding all the ugly parts.

And so, my wish for all mothers that are, that were and that will be, is that we love ourselves a little more.  That we celebrate our successes more loudly and forgive our mistakes more easily.  That we stop trying to be perfect and keep trying to do our best.  That we understand that our best isn’t perfect, but is enough for our children.  That we stop comparing ourselves to other people and understand that we all have private uncertainties.  That we will have the courage do what’s best for our children when we know that they will hate us for it.  That we will continue to walk this path of uncertainty and fear with confidence that we will find joy and happiness.

That we see our children smiling and know that we are, in fact, up to the challenge.