Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wild Rumpus

Yesterday was my nephew TotTwo's birthday. He wanted to see Astro Boy, but our little theater wasn't showing it and trekking 45 minutes to Joplin on a school night wasn't an option, so we all loaded up to go see Where the Wild Things Are.

First off, let me just say that I have the rawest emotions right now - my family is in a bit of upheaval, it's been rainy and gloomy for weeks now and my self-diagnosed SAD is kickin' in early this year, we are feeling that $2 an hour pay cut my husband took several months ago (How convenient that we just start to feel it this time of year...), and the holidays are closing in quickly. I cry at stupid stuff, I tend to over-emote over minute details and everything is cataclysmic. Yeah, I'm pretty much a wreck.

When I first saw the trailers for Wild Things I teared up, even though it was previewing before the dang Harry Potter movie I saw with my then 12 year old who merely rolled her eyes are her mother who had the audacity to cry over a TRAILER. I came home gushing over how I HAD to see that movie and Kady immediately picked it as her "And Me" date.

Explanation: Paul and I try very hard to spend one-on-one time with our kids when we can. Whether it's a trip to Walmart with one child, an afternoon making cookies or even a "Hey, I've gotta go pick up a loaf of bread, wanna ride with?" type thing. Not very often we also do an "And Me" night with the kids - you know, Mom and Me, Dad and Me. Get it? Back in the summer Abby and I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Paul and Sam saw both Transformers movies. Sam and I are going to see AstroBoy and Abby and I will see New Moon next month. Kady and I .... wait.....something just occured to me. Our dates should be "And I" date. Dude, my mad grammar skillz are slipping. Oh well. We've called them And Me Dates for so long, why switch now?


Kady and I have planned for months to go see Wild Things but TotTwo's AstroBoy-less birthday party kind of demanded a change in plans. When we got there Kady asked if I was okay with her sitting with the "big girls" (her cousin and her cousin's friend) and I said that was fine by me. Not every day your big bad 7 year old self gets to sit with full-fledged BIG GIRLS WHO ARE NOT YOUR BIG SISTER, ya know. Well, all it took was watching poor Max destroying his big sister's room in a rage of hurt feelings too much for his little self to handle to send Kady running back to me in a blubbering, sobbing mess of tears and emotion. It wasn't that long ago she taped all of her brother's books shut in a fit of frustration and hurt feelings and I'm guessing she totally knew what Max was feeling.

At one point she and I had to get up and leave the theater for a few minutes so she could calm down. She is a very emotional child, to say the least.

I loved every bit of the movie - even the loud, visually intense scenes and was able to enjoy them despite my mother saying, "Oooh I'm getting nauseous from that camera wiggling like that." I was able to dwell internally on the underlying themes of familial conflict and acceptance while my oldest daughter and sister yawned loudly and repeatedly. I was able to nod my head in complete agreement at the unconditional love the Wild Things had for each other even when all they wanted to do was eat each other and run away, even though everyone else around me was checking their cell phones for the time and fidgeting in their seats.

I was riveted. I was mesmerized. I was Max. I was a Wild Thing. I was a mother with my arms wrapped around my sobbing 7 year old, silently crying into her hair, hoping she never grows up and never loses her imagination and always hangs onto those emotions that grab her the way they do right now.

When the movie was over and Kady and I had at least stopped sobbing to the point we could walk, we all got up to leave. Mom patted Kady and said, "Honey, I'm on the verge of tears, too - I paid money to see this movie." Pops chuckled. Mom said, "No, I'm serious. I didn't understand one thing that went on on that screen!" Abby rolled her eyes, flipped open her phone and sent a text updating her Facebook status to say that she had just seen a movie that was dumb and confusing.

Standing in the theater lobby tried to explain to them what they had all just experienced, but they all stared back at me blankly. Finally I gave up and said they were all dumb and shallow-minded. Fortunately, they love me enough to know that I said that in the nicest way possible and don't hold their inability to understand wild rumpuses and gobbling someone up because you love them so against them in any way.

When I tucked Kady in last night she asked if she could be Max for Halloween. I said, "Honey, Halloween is two days away and I just don't have time to sew you a wolf costume by then."

She nodded, yawned and said, "Okay, next year then, Momma...."

I turned her light off and hoped beyond hope that next year she still believes in Wild Things. Really, I hope she always does.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's Spooky How Awesome I Am At This Mother Thing

Normally when it comes to Halloween and my kids' costumes I am one crazy stage mom. I mean, seriously, in years past those gals on Toddlers and Tiaras would have had NOTHING on me. We don't just dress up - we get into character. We suffer for the sake of the costume. We rehearse. We research. We live and die by the costume. We meaning my kids. See also: the year Abby pushed a shopping cart as a bag lady and nearly had security called on her when she walked into the Library Administration building at the college. Or the year my kids were Goth.

This year I just haven't been feeling it. I was totally in a zombie frame of mind and all three kids were going to be zombies - Abby a zombie cheerleader, Sam and zombie nerd and Kady a zombie ballerina. I already had my little zombie family pictured in my head, we talked about it constantly. But then something happened and suddenly my zombie dreams just staggered out the window and into the path of an oncoming truck.

Abby decided that dressing up was lame. Sam decided that he wanted to be something from Star Wars (which I nixed). Kady said if she was going to be a ballerina she at least wanted to be a clean one that wasn't oozing brains. Apparently, they didn't want the zombie family dream as much as I did.


Plus, with Halloween being on a weekend this year, it would require TWO separate days of costuming and since we have all of three houses to trick or treat I wasn't feeling the whole drama of doing it twice in as many days. The elementary kids will dress up Friday for school and then we'd have to dress up again Saturday night and fight what I fear will be a crazy wicked insane night full of people. People who might be carrying a flu virus!

Yes, our Halloween has been drastically redirected because I am terrified of the pandemic that is upon us. I admit it. Feel free to send your leftover Paxil, Prozac, wellbutrin or Xanax my way since, ya know, I don't have health insurance.

So anyway, I bribed the kids with the promise of exorbitant amounts of candy, DVR'd spooky shows AND A NEW PUPPY.


You can either boo me or send me an award. I figure it could go either way.

I asked Abby last night what she wanted to do on Saturday night. "You want popcorn AND candy? Or just candy? Movies? What?" She looked at me blankly and said, "Play with the new puppy. That's it. Nothing else." Sweet. Saves me money on candy.

Yesterday I made a quick run to Joplin to buy Sam a pair of black, low-top Converse shoes and a Fred t-shirt because he just wants to be Fred now. Please be warned: If you have not yet experienced Fred I hereby disclaim any auditory injury you may incur by clicking that link. Also, don't play it around your 10 year old son, otherwise you, too, will live that life I live right now - where every sentence is spoken in a false-preschool voice and seventy-leven times a day I hear, "HEY, IT'S FRED!"

Kady is resurrecting the gypsy costume her older sister wore in the 2nd grade. She doesn't really understand what a gypsy is, she just knows she gets to wear makeup and gigantic hoop earrings. This morning she asked me, "Exactly what is a gypsy, anyway?" Apparently yesterday she was trying to explain to her friends what a gypsy was.

She told them she's dressing up as someone who dances for money.

I am just glad she didn't ask me if she gets to carry around a pole.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Observations from the Yard

* Saying you'll never have another garage/yard sale doesn't necessarily make it so.

* I used to think that ads saying "NO EARLY SALES" was rude and unnecessary - until we had someone show up at 5:45 this year. Sis and I were bringing things around from the back yard and as we got into the front yard we saw Mom talking to people in a car in the driveway. We said we weren't ready. The driver shouted out the window, "Well, can we just hang out here until you are? We don't have any place else to go!" I felt like I was on a reality show as I finished putting things out with all the watching they were doing.

* There is one lady who comes to EVERY yard sale we've ever had. Over the years we've come to call her Snake Light Lady because one year she showed up before dawn and had a snake light wrapped around her forearm so she could see. She will try to bargain with you on EVERYTHING no matter how cheap you have it priced. I absolutely refuse to come down for her on principle alone. We price yard sale items to sell because we have no desire to bring them back into our houses. Plus, she buys our crap and RE-SELLS it in her own flea market! I think not, Snake Light Lady. I'm onto your clever and cheap ruse.

* I posted this as a Facebook update Saturday morning and it bears repeating: Rude yard sale people that unfold EVERY SET OF SHEETS may get sissy kicked in the back of the head. Yeah, you heard me, grandma. Your bun will not protect you. She didn't even buy any of the dang sheets and I had to refold them all.

* Most disconcerting thing I heard all day: A child barking his head off like he had tuberculosis and as he touched every toy on the table his mom repeatedly put his hood up on his head and said, "Put yer hood up, Johhny. Yer sick, remember?"

* Sometimes a .50 pooping Barbie dog is the best toy a kid could ever get at a garage sale. Just ask my mom's neighbor's daughter.

* Normally on yard sale day we do a sleepover at the host's house, but this year I didn't have it in me to sleep on my sister's couch. Paul was already borderline whizzed at me for having another yard sale to begin with, so we came home around 10:30 Friday night. Also normally, I get up in time enough to shower, fix my hair and put on makeup. This year I didn't. Two cousins, my optometrist's wife, a kid I was in band with in high school, a teacher at my kids' school, a girl I was in youth group with at Picher FBC and several thousand other people I knew came to our garage sale this time. Of course. I looked like a skanky street walker by day's end. Heck, I probably looked that way before 8am.

* I simply cannot - CANNOT - have a garage sale with my sister and not buy something from her. It's something in my DNA. Or maybe I'm just stupid. This sale's booty? Two ginormous coffee mugs that hold roughly 2.6 gallons of liquid apiece because really I need that much coffee at a setting, a copy of The Portable Pediatrician to give to my cousin because it is THE BEST book to have if you're a parent and neurotic like I am and two of my niece's Pixel Chix that are totally going in Kady's stocking this year because I am cheap.

* Some people will bargain with you, not because they are poor or really even looking for a great deal - some bargain with you just to tick you off. You can see it in their eyes. I once had a guy bargain with me for five solid minutes over a food dehydrator. I had it priced at $7 and considering I had used it once, that was a great price. He thought he'd eventually wear me down and maybe that I'd give in just to get rid of him. I did not. I also did not sell the dehydrator and at day's end I hummed a happy tune as I loaded it up to be donated.

* I just remembered I haven't paid Sis for that stuff.

* I will never, ever, EVER have another yard sale.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009



The kids do a Career Walk in the 5th grade where they go to school. They pick a career and then dress up and give a short speech over and over and over throughout the day as people come through the building. Abby did it two years ago, my niece did it last year and this year Sam is doing it.

When Abby was Sam's age she wanted to be a gymnastics coach. She was told that was a dream job.

My niece said she wanted to run an orphanage. She was told that was a dream job.

My son wants to go to Julliard. He has dreams of being an actor. He was told yesterday that being an actor is a "dream job."

Now, I realize that choosing a job for this career walk isn't setting in stone their career paths, nor is it feasible to let all the firemen be firemen and the all the teachers be teachers for this project. Then you'd have a room full of firemen and teachers and the waitresses and business owners would be under-represented. I realize this is a project about jobs and careers and it's for enrichment purposes.

But these kids are ten and eleven years old. They are not in college prep courses. Most of them aren't even standing on the front porch of puberty yet, knock knock knockin' to get in. Most still think the opposite sex is gross and holding hands will give you cooties. But they have dreams. When Sam was little he wanted to be Superman. Guess who wore Superman pajamas every night. My cousin wanted to be a dogcatcher. His mom told him it was a noble profession and bought him a net. Someone told me last night that her brother-in-law wanted to be a police dog. Did his parents tell him it wasn't possible? No, they let him sit under the table and bark when someone came in. Did he grow up to be a police dog? No. But for that brief moment in time he totally thought he could. He thought he could until he realized on his own that he truly could not be a dog. My cousin, a Kindergarten teacher, wrapped a little girl's legs in aluminum foil once because she wanted to be a mermaid. She was a mermaid that day.

Joe Don Rooney, a member of the country group Rascal Flatts, is from Picher, OK. Carrie Underwood is from Checotah, OK. Mickey Mantle hailed from Commerce, OK. Jamie McMurray is a NASCAR driver from Joplin, MO. And J. R. Conrad played for the New York Jets and he is from the town where the kids go to school. My cousin is from Picher, as well, and he has done acting on the History Channel, has done standup at the Gotham Comedy Club and has been on other TV shows. They're all from relatively small towns, but that didn't stop them. These people were kids once and they pursued a dream. They didn't give up on it.

If we tell our kids that they should always aim low, they will. We need to point them toward the sky and tell them, "See that? It's yours. THERE IS NO LIMIT."

When I was a kid I wanted to be a mommy. I was told I was selling myself short. I was told I was wasting myself. I was told that because I was settling for motherhood I would amount to nothing. Why, I was college-bound! I scored a 32 on the English section of my ACT! I made straight A's and had scholarships! WHAT WAS I THINKING??

I see those three kids walk up my driveway every afternoon and my breath catches in my chest. They are amazing, they are wonderful, they are full of limitless opportunities....

They are my dreams come true.

Just got off the phone with the school counselor who apologized profusely for the misunderstanding. He assured me he wasn't a dream basher (although I kind of feel like he was making such a title akin to "kitten mangler") and that he wasn't telling the kids they couldn't achieve their dreams, just that they needed a plan B, a way to put food in their mouths until they hit it big. He said he would stop calling them dream jobs and would make doubly sure the kids understood what he meant. I also assured him that I would be having a talk with my extra-sensitive boy-child who apparently got his feelings hurt wayyyyyy too easily over this. A talk that may very well begin with, "Stop acting like your sister. You know, the sister that cries during Annabelle's Wish and at Kodak commercials just like her mother. Wait. You know what, just stop acting like your mother. Oh and by the way you are going to make a GREAT actor, son."

And let me just take a moment to tell you that a personal phone call from a school employee who calls me by name is just one more reason why I'm glad my kids attend this school. I wigged out, sent an email in pure advocacy for my child and wasn't met with criticism or defensiveness, but instead with an apology and an explanation. Let the above post just remind us all to refrain from kitten mangling - I mean, dream bashing.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mouse Gone Wild

We've lived in this house for eight years now. We live 1/10th of a mile off the road and have 30 acres of field on one side, brush and pasture in the front and back and brush to the side. I think it pretty much goes without too much explanation - we have critters. We have armadillos, coyotes, window possums, mangling raccoons that love dogfood, window snakes, not baby copperheads, closeted yellowjackets and various other varmints. We also have mice. Lots and lots of mice.

At this particular moment in time we have four cats - a tom named Floppsy (because he got caught under the truck and broke his foot and it flopped for awhile), two kittens, Zeeb and Carbon and our rather prolific momma cat, recently renamed Michelle Duggar. (What? She's had like, 174 litters over the past seven years, it just seemed like a good name change.) This merry band of felines usually keep the mouse population from entering our house, but apparently Michelle Duggar has morning sickness or something and one got in our house this week.

Monday morning we were going through our usual routine when the discovery was made. I had been sitting on the edge of the couch for probably a good 20 minutes, fixing Abby's hair and then Kady's. We had VH1 going, I had quizzed Sam on his spelling words; in other words, we were not being quiet or still at all.

The kids had cleared out of the room, leaving me alone to watch that song that Abby says sounds like there are ducks in the background (I don't hear waterfowl in it, but she swears that's what it sounds like) when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked to my left and there stood ....... the mouse.

He was wearing a little cowboy hat and had holsters criss-crossed over his hairy little mousy chest. He stared at me, moving the cigarette dangling from his lip as he grinned casually. Raising his mousy paw, he removed the cigarette and spit on the ground. *patooey!* Small claws tapped slowly on the butt of the gun resting securely in its holster. He winked.

That's when I screamed.

And began shouting expletives as I hoisted myself from the edge of the couch to a standing position on the middle cushion. Of course, all three kids came running up the hall. Suddenly the mouse was naked as he fled under cover of the ottoman, thus ruining my chances of the children witnessing the fact we had a Clint Eastwood look-alike rodent in our house. Dang sneaky mouse.

Abby finally shouted above my screams, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, WOMAN??" I managed to articulate the word MMMMMMMOUSE!!! and because she is the oldest and the one who likes to control every situation she asked, "What do you want me to do? Who do you want me to call? Daddy? Kevin? (the neighbor) WHO, MOM? WHO??" I shook my head and continued screaming.

Instead of allowing her mother to have a stroke right there on the sofa in front of her two younger siblings, she said, "Sam. Get me the broom. I'm going to kill it."

She. Is. My. Hero.

My daughter who is one day short of being a full-fledged, card-carrying teenager and at that moment had eyeliner on a full 1/4" thick below her eyes, was wearing a shirt that plainly stated, "I didn't slap you. I just high-fived you in the face," and was reeking of Butterfly Flower body splash, grabbed my kitchen broom, kicked the ottoman and when the mouse ran out proceeded to attempt to beat the living snot out of the nasty thing. She got a few hits in, but ya know, those mice are incredibly flexible and if you don't hit 'em hard enough they just kind of squish, they don't die. He eventually managed to flee to the safety of the cabinet that houses Wii, PS2 and board games and the battle was over.

I was disappointed for two reasons: 1. I really wanted Abby to be able to brag about a fresh kill to all her friends, which would in turn make them all squeal and turn pale because Abby is one stylish bad-a*s and 2. because I knew that meant I had to leave the house because there was no way I was staying here with a dadgum battle-weary rodent all day with only a 15 month old to protect me. He's just not coordinated enough to deliver a deadly blow with a broom just yet.

Conner and I did indeed leave the house as soon as the bus picked up the school kids and we didn't come back to the house until noon. I called Paul after I bought snap traps and sticky traps and boy howdy, every person that worked in the vault at the casino that day had a good ol' laugh at my expense, especially after I asked him what I needed to bait the sticky trap with. Hey, I didn't know! In my mind it made complete sense to put a tasty, tempting morsel in the middle of the trap so the little bugger would be more inclined to walk on it. Apparently not. Apparently mice are stupid enough to walk across a sticky piece of cardboard for no reason whatsoever ALL ON THEIR OWN.

So far the mouse is still managing to avoid capture, but late at night when everyone else is asleep and the house is quiet and dark......I swear I can hear the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly being whistled from under the ottoman.

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...