Tuesday, May 2, 2017

You Come to My House, Into My Yard, and Do What?

You should fix...basically everything.
Someone from "TruGreen" stopped by my house and did a "free lawn evaluation." Completely unsolicited, unexpected, uninvited, etc. And a lovely checklist was left on my door telling me all (probably just some) of the things wrong with my yard. Thanks a lot.
I know landscaping and lawn care companies exist. Does anyone not realize these services are available? If my lawn is ugly, I probably already know that, too. You aren't delivering breaking news by pinpointing specific flaws.
Maybe my lawn looks great and/or I like my yard exactly the way it is. Are you trying to make me feel insecure and bully me into asking for your company's help?
You suck, and so does your grass. Luv Always, TruGreen
You have been weighed, you have been measured,
and you have been found wanting. (--A Knight's Tale)
Giving me a list in that manner causes me to hate your company. And now I am absolutely guaranteed to never ever ever call or use your company.
A card or flyer with your name and type of business would have sufficed. If I ever feel the need, and have the money, to hire a lawn company, maybe you would have gotten a call. But you won't. Instead, you get a blog post.

If I walk up to a store's beauty counter asking for a makeover, and the person there suggest ways I might be able to improve my face or my overall look-I'd be okay with that. If I'm walking around the appliance department, and an employee runs up with a checklist saying my skin is bad, I'm too fat, my hair is stringy, and my face is ugly-I'd probably punch him in the gut. (Actually, I would probably just cry because I'm more of a Gorgonite than I would like to be. But, the feeling would be there!)

Even if the things on the evaluation are all true... the delivery method of the message is still rude. So, TruGreen, think up a better way to solicit business. Here's my "Free Marketing Evaluation" of your practices: You suck.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bizarre Scolds

Don't run with scissors. Wear a coat in the snow.
Those I expected to say.
But, there are things I have found myself saying, or yelling, which I never expected.
Here are some things that have actually come out of my mouth and flown towards my children:

Don't put your eyeball in your nose!
No throwing potatoes!
Don't put that minion under your shirt!
But it's ok to pet the snake.
Don't put avocados in your shirt.
This is not a kicking place, and those are not kicking carrots.
Don't make her eat her hair.
Don't put your fork in your shoe!
Don't yell at the clouds!
Do not color your armpit!
You can throw the hot dogs at me, but not the buns!

I'm also weird enough to have written them down.
So, yeah.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Things People Without Children Don't Appreciate, But Should

Putting on shoes and never finding Cheerios in them

Being able to pee--any time you want--without having to figure out what to do with the kids, and then completing the task without interruption

Watching TV shows during the day that include bad words, bad deeds, bad ideas, and bad examples

Shopping without considering what will make an infant or toddler or child or pre-teen happy

Leisurely scrolling through feeds, reading emails, posting blogs, playing games

Having a clean car

Having empty space in your house

Talking on the phone without a barrage of questions and "shows" happening on your side of the call

Not being randomly tackled and smothered with hugs and kisses when you're trying to get something done

Alternative list title:
Things That Will Make Me Sad When I Notice Them After My Kids Have Grown Up


Monday, April 25, 2016

Self-Popping Paint Bags!


A BIG thank you/shout out to growingajeweledrose.com for this great idea. You can read the real directions over on that blog. This is my "I don't have cornstarch, but it's a nice day today & I want to do this now while I'm thinking about it." version.

Prep: I filled 6 plastic zipper-bags with vinegar and food coloring. I used a bunch of vinegar, and a new pack of food coloring. You can see in the photo how much was left of each color after filling the bags. I also cut some mini paper towels into quarters, filled each with baking soda, and folded them into little packets sealed shut with a dab of glue stick glue.

I put on "ok to get messy clothes," and told my sons to change from pants into shorts--no need for shirts or shoes. Then we went outside for some messy fun!

Exploding paint: We found the best method was for mommy to carefully slip a paper towel packet into a baggie, and hold the packet at the top, away from the vinegar, while sealing the bag. Then, one of the boys held onto the top of the bag, including the packet, and carried it to a spot on the ground where it was dropped. Finally came the short wait for a big pop and bubbling color spilling out!


Playing: After all the bags had exploded, the kids liked making footprints with the puddles of vinegar, and throwing the wet paper towels. Each boy  also enjoyed putting colorful hand prints directly onto his brother.
I often think I could be labelled "The Best Mom in the World" or "The Worst Mom in the World" for the same thing --depending on who's making the labels. Letting my kids toss vinegar and food coloring soaked paper towels at each other is one of those things

 Dried blobs: When the vinegar dried, and only colorful shapes remained, we talked about what the shapes looked like to us, and grabbed some sidewalk chalk. The yellow become a sun, and was joined by lots of other (blob-related and not-blob-related) drawings.
"Expert" Tip: Don't give your kids a kiss when you do this, or you'll end up with a mouthful of chalk and vinegar. Bleh!
Other than the gross kiss, this was a very fun activity!
I'm glad we wore play clothes, because it was even messier than I had anticipated, but I didn't have to tell either boy to stop so he wouldn't get messy. Messy was part of the fun!

Thanks again to Growing A Jeweled Rose for a great afternoon!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


(If you are pregnant right now, and like to be super-prepared, I totally understand if you are reading this to make a secondary "just in case" bag.)
Parents with babies in the NICU rarely knew they were going to be there. Sometimes the baby was born so early, the family is not even prepared to bring the child home, and they certainly weren't ready for a long stay in the hospital. There is a lot of stress and worry, frustration, and fear. There are a lot of big decisions.

But there's also a "practical" aspect to the stay. And that's something with which you can help. Even if the baby wasn't born early, a two or three night stay turning into several weeks is still a big change to any plans.
So, what can you do to help out your friend(s) who are unexpectedly in the NICU? Here are some things friends did for us (and a few things no one thought to do) to make our stay a little easier.

1. Congratulations cards
Even though this is a tough time, there's still a beautiful new baby! Some hospitals even offer free eCards you can order online which the staff will then print and deliver to the hospital room.
2. Books
Story books to read to the baby, and a book or two for the parents. I recommend lighthearted books with short stories.
3. Socks
Grown-up socks that can be worn, then thrown away. Your friends have basically moved into a place with very dirty floors.
4. Laundry detergent
If you can stay, an offer to do the laundry would be nice, too.
5. Toiletries
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, a bath puff, a washcloth, a fluffy towel. Some people will already have taken these to the hospital, but those travel sized bottles only last so long.
6. Tiny clothes
If the baby was born very small, one or two outfits to wear in the hospital or on the way home are nice. Most baby clothing stores sell "preemie" sizes.
7. Cash
You don't need to start a fundraiser. Just some dollar bills and quarters for the vending machines and/or parking fees are very useful.
8. Snacks
Things that don't need to be refrigerated or heated are a plus. If it needs to be eaten with a utensil, include disposable utensil(s.)
9. A home cooked meal
Food may or may not be permitted in the room, so make sure the recipient gets a chance to eat it too, if you can.
10. A babysitter
Sort of. Offer to sit in the room with the baby while another visitor takes the mom and/or dad out for a walk or to eat—even if it's just around the hospital. (Or let Mom & Dad go together.) Sure, there are nurses. But it's heart wrenching to leave your baby with strangers--even good, trained, capable strangers.

Also offer the family “house help.” If parents are putting in time at the hospital, there may be older children who need a babysitter or rides, plants to be watered, grass to be mowed, pets to be fed and walked, mail and newspapers to be retrieved, etc.

In your cards and your words, be sure to mention the baby is sweet. Don't just focus on what's wrong. (And try not to use "it could be worse" as a comfort. It's a go-to thing to say, but it's really not comforting.)

Don't be a backseat driver. Offer advice if it's solicited, but don't judge or scold choices being made, and don't criticize how your friends are handling the hospital stay.

Visit. Hug your friends. Take pictures. Tell them happy things and quietly laugh together. Even if the hospital is far, or hard to get to, or has difficult and/or expensive parking—Visit. (Unless, of course, they sincerely ask you not to visit.)

Remember--your friends aren't happy to be there. And they probably don't want to think about their new baby possibly being in the hospital for a long time. They aren't a special breed of “parents of a sick baby” who have gained infinite wisdom or magically been granted superhuman strength. They are just people—people who probably thought they would be bringing home a healthy baby, but suddenly found themselves in this awful situation instead.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Is Age Just A Number?

Two of A Kind
It's easy to forget my kids are actually several years apart in age. I guess it's because they play together and imitate each other all the time. Neither really "acts his age," probably. A while ago I surprised myself when I realized I often think of them as being about the same age. I know how much of an age difference there actually is. But it's almost automatic to think there's just small age difference.
I know when I treat my kids the same, it's unfair to both of them. It's unfair to be treated like you're a "baby." It's unfair to have someone expect you to be mature beyond your years. Maybe I subconsciously "split the difference" in the ages, and lump them together. Maybe it's my brain being lazy. Maybe it's me being lazy.
When you throw in how different they are, it gets really confusing. My older son would have happily sat through a movie in a theater when he was younger than my youngest son is now. But I can't even get the younger one to sit still for one song at a concert designed for children.
Things like this gnaw at me. I feel so guilty. And it's just one of a thousand things. Then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. How selfish! I should be thinking about my kids, not myself.

Sarah: That's not fair!
Jareth: You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is.
-- Labyrinth

Friday, April 24, 2015

My Son The Mermaid

I searched the consignment shop for clothing in appropriate shades of green. I found some, and was glad the sizes/styles would require minimal adjustments--sewing is not one of my strong skills, and I'm also quite lazy. At home, I disassembled the skirt and used it along with a tube top to make a tail. It was actually pretty cute, and fairly close to what I was trying to accomplish. I was going to be taking my son to see the musical, "Disney's The Little Mermaid," and kids had been encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters from the show/movie. I had been hoping he would want to be Sebastian the crab. A fun costume to make, and it would allow for a bit more creativity than Prince Eric. But, my son's favorite character was Ariel. I told him he got to dress up for the show, and asked which character he wanted to be. He confirmed his original choice. Ariel. For sure. I listed off some of the other choice, mainly to reduce the possibility he would change his mind before the show in a couple of weeks. He was positive he wanted to be the main character. He even started coming up with ideas for the costume right away. It wasn't about gender – it was about a character in a movie. Just like a girl whose favorite character happens to be a boy. (I imagine a lot of those little girls get very annoyed when the Buzz Lightyear costumes in the girls section at the Halloween store all have tutus and skirts.)
I had no problem with it, but I know people do/would/could. However, I could not think of one good reason why he shouldn't dress up like Ariel, or any girl. Because girls are members of an inferior gender, something to avoid being mistaken for at all costs? Because when a boy wants to wear girls' clothing, he should feel ashamed and hide away those horrible feelings? The 'best' reason I could put into words: "Because of what people will think." And that felt so wrong to say, I didn't even consider saying it. Why should people's opinions about something like that change what you do? Should whispers in the hall cause you to drop out of Mathletes? Should you throw away that sweater your grandma knitted because a 'friend' thinks it's stupid, even though you love it? He wasn't masquerading as a girl for any evil reason. He wasn't trying to trick anyone. He wasn't even trying to make a statement on society. He just wanted to be Ariel because he loved "the way she swims and because she collects human things."
So, we put together an awesome (if I do say so myself) costume. It had springy-sproingy red hair, a seashell shirt, and mermaidish sandals under his almost-tail. (It was an almost-tail so he could walk – I did not want to carry him the whole time.)
I knew most people would simply assume he was a girl. Side note: People also say, "She's so cute" about him when he's wearing sports clothes, camouflage, or even going shirtless in the summer. So, as we were making the costume, we talked. He and I decided if people said something about him being a girl, he would just go with it. He would be acting, staying in character.
People did think he was a girl, and he did just go with it. He shyly giggled when people called him Ariel and asked if he was in the show. It was a wonderful show, we had a great time, and we both got lots of compliments on his costume.

A few months later, we bought tickets to another show by the same company. Peter Pan. Kids were, once again, invited to wear costumes. I was prepared for Tinkerbell, especially since he has seen a lot of Disney's Tinkerbell/Fairies movies. I thought a Hook or crocodile costume would be fun to make. His favorite character? Peter. I named other characters, just to be sure. (Kids do have a tendency to change their minds a lot.) Yep, Peter Pan. So, we shopped for (more green!) supplies and hot-glue-gunned together a Peter Pan costume.
At the show, he shyly giggled when people called him Peter and asked if he was in the show. And, once again it was a wonderful show, we had a great time, and we both got lots of compliments on his costume. We looked at the cast photos on display in the lobby, and I read some of the actors' and character names for him. While a group of ladies was talking to him about his costume and the show, one of them said something about "her" costume. My son smiled and said, "I'm a boy." Then he said, "I know why they think I'm a girl. It's because Peter Pan in the show is played by a girl."
And there's nothing wrong with that, either.