Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Super Mega Rant

I've noticed lately that I'm turning into a crotchety old fart.  This is disturbing, because I'm only 37.  I know for sure I'm 37, because any time another adult asks the Peanut Butter Kid how old she is, she pipes up with "I'm six.  And Mommy is 37."  I've tried to explain that she doesn't really need to offer that extra tidbit of information, but she likes to be helpful.  She's like Heloise, that one.

Maybe it's the lack of sleep that's making me cranky.  I finally have Little Dude sleeping through the night (most nights) and now the Peanut Butter Kid keeps waking up.  Last week it was the Pork Lo Maniac waking up.

Ohmygodgotosleepyoucrazylittlepeople.

Or maybe it's the juggling of Individualized Education Plans, 504 Plans, and Homebound Schooling.  Visits to my children's school are feeling more and more like trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Just when you think you've got everything all set, they tell you you've been waiting in the wrong line for the last 45 days minutes.

Whatever the reason, I keep finding myself making (or at least thinking) Andy Rooney-esque comments about things.  Seriously.  As in, Did you ever notice that health insurance companies pull their policy decisions out of their collective giant ass?  


Along the same line, but with less emotional investment: Did you notice that January Jones' Emmy dress appeared to be made out of cupcake liners?  A lot of cupcake liners?

Also, now I want cupcakes.  But all we have in the house is sugar-free Popsicles.  Which is making me even more cranky.

I installed a dual-switch ceiling fan by myself this weekend.  Although I was proud of myself for the accomplishment, all I could think "Five Minute Installation?"  Hunter Fan Company, you're out of your damn mind.  Seriously, I don't know who could install that thing in five minutes.  I don't even think a professional electrician could do it in five minutes.  Maybe a team of fan installers could train with an Indy pit crew and get it down to ten minutes, tops.

And I say things like, "Kids these days.  They're all brain-damaged from having iPod buds in their ears for so long."  I see kids with their pants low and their boxers hanging out, and the first thing that pops in my head is, "Pull up your pants, Son."  Oh my God.  I'm old.  Next thing you know I'll be letting my eyebrows go all crazy like Andy Rooney.  Or collecting neighborhood cats.

Speaking of cats, I had always planned to be a crazy cat lady when I'm old.  Our current two cats are changing my mind on that.  One cat has cat acne (also known as Feline Gross Scabby Bald Spot) and is actively trying to kill me.  Seriously, he weaves around my feet on the stairs. You know what, cat?  You have chin funk and I am the only one who's willing to deal with it.  And if I cartwheel down the stairs and break my neck, no one will scrub your chin with Dial soap.  And then you will be hideous.

The other cat is, um, "Special Needs."  No, really.  She's deaf, which is fine, and she has a balance problem, which is also fine.  And funny, truth be told.  Except for the time she fell into the fireplace, which was totally not funny.  But the annoying thing about that cat is she doesn't cover her poops up.  She scratches the side of the box, but she just can't seem to scratch any litter over her stinky poops.  Even the most spectacular kitty litter cannot combat the odor of cat poop that just sits there on top of the litter.  The last time I bought litter, there were about twenty different formulas.  There's even some kind of sparkly Glitter Litter with stench-fighting crystals or something.  But no "Uncoordinated Cat" formula.

The more stressed I get, the worse my own sensory integration problems are.  Every little sound is screaming at me.  At one moment, the television was on, one of my kids was reading a story out loud, and another kid was munching an apple.  The various sounds converged into a giant spine-stabbing auditory dagger that left me twitching on the couch.  I finally let loose with "OH MY GOD WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE TURN OFF THE IDIOT BOX BEFORE I THROW A BRICK THROUGH IT?"

The kids giggled.  Mommy's got a thing with sounds.  They think it's funny.

My husband, the ever-charming Absent-Minded Professor, flicked the TV off.  "Why so tense?" he asked.

He's hilarious.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dear Paris Hilton

Dear Paris,

Obviously, I'm shocked and saddened to see that you were arrested on charges of possession of cocaine this weekend in Las Vegas.  Mostly because it disproves the "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" ads, and it always makes me sad when advertisements lie.  But also because, now who will I tell my daughters to look up to?

I was totally planning on having my daughters grow up to be just like you.  Except that I don't have millions of dollars to hand them on a silver platter. But still, a mom can dream, can't she?

You had always seemed like such an excellent role model.  Sure, you've had a few several run-ins with the law.  And for you, drugs and driving seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Or like hotel heiresses and sex tapes.  Bimbos and reality TV.  It's a shame, because sometimes you make such good decisions.

Marketing Paris Hilton dolls in Germany, for example.  Excellent decision.  I mean, those people like David Hasselhoff's music, so presumably they will go bonkers for your dolls.  And designing a line of children's clothing.  That's a can't-lose business proposition right there.  Certainly, every mom I know wants to dress her  daughter in gold sequins for First Communion.

You've also shown that you're obviously just pretending to be a complete moron.  Really, I think you're brilliant.  When you were arrested in South Africa in July, you had the best excuse: you said it wasn't your dope.  This time, when police officers found a vial of cocaine in your purse, you said it wasn't yours.

That, my friend, is some quick thinking.  Awesome excuse.  The fact that you're still using the "holding it for a friend line" like a 14-year-old caught with cigarettes is mind-blowing.  Possibly your mother deserves a slap upside the head for letting you get away with that kind of stuff your whole life, but that's beside the point.    

Another example of your great decision-making capabilities: early on, you learned that you had a "good side" for the cameras.  You almost always turn your head to hide that wonky eye of yours.  Very clever.  It took me forever to figure out that something was actually wrong with your face.  For the longest time I thought you were just too stupid to wink correctly.

You are so good at posing for the camera that even your many, many mugshots look great.  Your side-swept hair in your 2007 mugshot is slightly over-sprayed for the setting, I think, but overall I think the look is just right for a probation violation.  Your 'do in your most recent arrest is much less polished, more "beachy."  This seems like a perfect choice for an arrest that happened because police officers saw a plume of pot smoke coming from your car.

Also, you are awesome at keeping yourself in the limelight while contributing nothing of value to society.  You just keep on keepin' on with your seemingly-endless 15 minutes of fame.  I wish I could get that kind of publicity for my blog, but happily for everyone, I don't have any sex tapes to leak to the press.  It's also unlikely that I'll get pulled over for leaving a trail of pot smoke behind my minivan.  Maybe a cop will notice a trail of juice boxes and Goldfish crumbs, but we try to pick up after ourselves. In any case, I don't think that headline would garner much publicity: "Mommy Blog Writer Has Sticky Van; Judge Orders Detailing and Disinfectant."

So you go, girl.  Keep on being a total train wreck.  Because you're teaching my kids the best lesson of all: money doesn't buy happiness.  It also doesn't buy the ability to keep your pants on, string a coherent sentence together, or keep out of trouble.  So you're actually setting an excellent example for my kids.  Thanks!

Loves it.

xoxo,
stark. raving. mad. mommy.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sneak Preview: Dear Paris Hilton


Dear Paris,

Obviously, I'm shocked and saddened to see that you were arrested on charges of possession of cocaine this weekend in Las Vegas.  Mostly because it disproves the "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" ads, and it always makes me sad when advertisements lie.  But also because, now who will I tell my daughters to look up to?

I was totally planning on having my daughters grow up to be just like you. Except that I don't have millions of dollars to hand them on a silver platter. But still, a mom can dream, can't she?

Check in Monday for more of my love letter to Paris Hilton!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Discipline Rules


Yesterday should have been a total suckfest, but it wasn't half-bad, as it turned out.  I had back-to-back meetings at the elementary school, and I have to say, hooray for teachers.  And, dare I say it?  Hooray for administrators.  These people just could not do enough for my kids.  They were bending over backwards to help like they were Nadia Freaking Comaneci.  Maybe somebody put Prozac in the coffee, I don't know.

Homebound schooling set up for the Peanut Butter Kid: check.  Gifted program included: check.  Entire team totally impressed because the PBK was doing second-grade-level math during our meeting: check.  

Then I mentioned my next meeting with the fourth grade teachers to deal with the Pork Lo Maniac's fine motor skill delay.  I was encouraged to set up a 504 Plan, and enthusiastic suggestions were made as to various accommodations that would help my daughter with homework, test taking, and classwork.  Yay, yay, oh yay.  Then I saw the teachers and they were all how can we help right now?

So I was all kinds of happy and excited, even though sitting in those munchkin-sized chairs for a formal meeting is the weirdest thing ever.  But then as I was leaving I saw my friend's daughter fourth-grade daughter crying.  And another boy being hauled into the front office for kidney-punching the girl in the back. 

The girl is my older daughters' best friend in Texas.  And her mom is my only Texas friend, Peggy Sue.  Peggy Sue's daughter is one of those girls that everyone wants to be friends with not because she wears the coolest clothes, but because she is kind and smart and fun.  

(Note: No one in our school wears the coolest clothes, because everyone wears a uniform.  Which I love.  Except the part about tucking in the shirts.  The shirt-tucking is enforced like nothing I have seen outside of the U.S. Armed Forces.  In the morning before we leave school, I tell the kids, "make sure you have the keys to learning," and they all check their shirts.)

(Another Note: I just image-googled "shirt tucked in" to look for graphics to illustrate this post.  You know what I found?  A boatload of images of guns that you can hide even with your shirt tucked in.  So I just totally figured out why schools want the shirts tucked in.  But now I'm even more baffled by the fact that our school district has a uniform policy for elementary school, but not for the upper grades.  But then again, it's Texas.  Maybe you're just expected to be carrying by the time you're in high school.)

(I will stop with the notes now.)

Anyway, that whole bullying scene kind of broke my heart and turned my day back into the original suckfest I had been expecting when I woke up too early with a tension headache.  Because you know what?  Sometimes I feel like this whole world is going to hell in a handbasket.  My friend and her husband are going in for a meeting tomorrow to find out what the school's action plan is.  I hope it has the words "Shock and Awe" somewhere in it.  And also the word Suspension.  And maybe the words School for Bad Kids, which is what my kids call Juvie.

At dinner we got into a whole discussion about school rules.  The Peanut Butter Kid summed up appropriate school behavior with "You have to behave nicely.  And you can have fun, but not too much fun."

I asked the kids what they would do about the bully if they were in charge of the school.  It turns out my kids are even more strict than me.  Here are their answers:

Peanut Butter Kid: "I would send him back to pre-school so he can learn how to behave at school."

Little Dude: "NO!  I don't want him in my class!  He needs a TIME OUT."

Cookie: "I would suspend him for five days.  That would be nice because then everyone in my class would get a break from him for five days."


Pork Lo Maniac: "I would suspend him for five days and then put him back in third grade."

Cookie: "That might actually be helpful.  He isn't doing very well in school and it's only the fourth day."

Pork Lo Maniac: "That's not a very good start to the school year.  If he does anything else they need to send him to the School for Bad Kids."

Cookie: "Can you imagine what he's going to be like when he's a teenager?"

Pork Lo Maniac: "Yeah.  How come teenagers don't walk on the sidewalk?  Why do they think it is cool to walk in the street?"

Peanut Butter Kid: "He's going to be a criminal.  And have to go to jail."

Little Dude: "I don't want him in my class.  Send him to time out in jail."

They're like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.  Off with his head!  They also clearly subscribe to the the Not In My Backyard Class school of thought.  I can't say I blame them.  I'm sure this kid has all kinds of problems, and I hope that the school can give him counseling.  But I don't love that he's in my daughter's class, causing problems and kidney-punching girls.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Triage

I have been so focused on getting Little Dude's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) set up, and getting him settled into preschool, that other things have been falling through the cracks.  Like cleaning.  And laundry.  And possibly, paying attention to my other kids.

The thing is (see, there's those things again), it's not so much a case of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease," as it is a matter of triage.  Just like Hawkeye and Trapper on M*A*S*H, I have to decide which problem of which kid is the most urgent.  Also like on M*A*S*H, my triage process involves a lot of wisecracking while stepping over bodily fluids.

For most of the summer, Little Dude's new Asperger diagnosis was topping the priority list, followed immediately by the Peanut Butter Kid's health issues.

Now that Little Dude is kicking and screaming his way into preschool each morning, and all I can do is wait for the Peanut Butter Kid's next GI appointment, I'm focused on making sure the PBK actually learns something this year.  So far I am basically winging it while I wait for her homebound schooling services to start.  I have some experience with homeschooling; we used two online charter schools last year during our move.  The online charter schools provide a curriculum, teachers, and materials, though.  It's professionally developed.  By real educators with credentials and experience and lots of extra letters after their names.  I, on the other hand, have a workbook and a list of skills I found on the Texas Education Agency website.

Incidentally, the homebound schooling thing presents a little problem for me: every morning while we get ready for school, Little Dude rants about how he said he wants to be homeschooled.  Remember, Mommy?  And he knows perfectly well what homeschooling is, and I have the Peanut Butter Kid home with me.  So he must be thinking, what the hell?  Why can't I stay home?

Anyway, I have a meeting with the school counselor tomorrow, which hopefully will involve being given a date and time when a tutor is going to show up at my house.  Hopefully it does not involve the school bringing in Child Protective Services, because I'm starting to pick up a vibe that they think I have Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.  Which is particularly hilarious, given that they don't even know that I'm about to ask for a 504 Plan* to accommodate the Pork Lo Maniac's fine motor skill delay.

The PLM's hands had kind of slipped down on the triage list.  But then today it took her an hour to get two-thirds done with her math homework (rote copying of multiplication tables).  At that point I told her she could stop and move onto spelling.  Forty minutes later, she had finished her spelling assignment (rote copying of spelling words).  At the end of this lovely afternoon, her hands were fatigued and cramped, and she was near tears.  Up the priority ladder she goes.

The Pork Lo Maniac has had years of occupational therapy.  Her pencil grasp is so bizarre, I can't even physically duplicate it.  At this point, the occupational therapists have given up trying to change it, and instead have termed it an "adaptive" grasp.  I think that's the medical term for "wow, your kid's hands are whacked."  In the last few years, we've been blessed with teachers that accommodated the PLM's situation "on the down low."  This year, the PLM is in fourth grade.  The fourth grade standardized test in Texas involves a written section.   Houston, we have a problem.

I doubt my request for a 504 Plan is going to be met with streamers and balloons. The principal is really sick of me.  Yesterday I walked Little Dude to the cafeteria, where his class waits for their teacher.  It turns out that me entering the cafeteria must be some sort of breach of national security or something, because apparently I need to carry my screaming, kicking child into the main office first, show my ID (which they have on file anyway), and obtain a hall pass.

You know what's generally not a security risk?  Carrying a screaming child into a school.  I could see them becoming alarmed if I was carrying a screaming child out of the school, but that was clearly not the case yesterday.

So fine.  Whatever.  I will carry my flailing son, screaming and crying, into the office and obtain a pass.  Except this morning an aide was waiting for me in the lobby running interference.  She took him, so that I "didn't need" to take him to the cafeteria myself.

And yet I still got a telephone spanking from the principal today for walking my kids into school instead of using the drive-up line.  The Mind Punch principal is willing to let me walk Little Dude into the lobby, but Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac have to walk down the sidewalk and enter through the side door with the other car riders.

Fine.  Whatever.  I will walk Little Dude into the lobby.  My nine-year-olds will enter through the side door, like servants or orphans in Oliver Twist.

And I'm still asking for the 504.

.......................................
*For the uninitiated, a 504 Plan allows for accommodations in the educational setting; e.g., a child with a hearing disability might need to sit closer to the front of the room.  Legally, it is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and is intended to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities.  The IEP, which falls under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), allows for specialized instruction.  In this case, I'll be asking for a 504 Plan to accommodate the Pork Lo Maniac's fine motor skill delay; she may need extra time on essay tests, for example.  For more about IEPs and 504 Plans, see the WrightsLaw website.  Now you know everything I know.  Don't you feel hip and awesome?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bullies and Skanks and Mind Punches, Oh My

One of my biggest fears for Little Dude is that he will be bullied.  According to one ABC News report, 90 percent of children with Asperger's report being bullied on a daily basis.  The thought of that makes me positively nauseous.

Not that special needs kids are the only ones being bullied, but they are perhaps less able to defend themselves.  Kids on the autism spectrum, in particular, are less likely to be able to read social cues and can often end up being the odd one out.  But bullies know no bounds.  A couple years ago one of my daughters was being bullied, and I swear I just wanted to punch that mean little girl in the throat. 

Do you all find that? If another kid is mean to one of your kids, do you go from being really nice homeroom mom to seething psychotic in 2.3 seconds? The Pork Lo Maniac kept having problems with another girl in her class. The girl would make comments about how slowly the PLM writes (she has a fine motor delay), until the PLM cried. Then, at recess, she would make fun of the PLM for crying in school.

That kind of stuff turns me into Drew Barrymore from Firestarter. Isn't that awful? Some little punk trash-talks my kid and I'm ready to go all pyrokinetic on them? What kind of person am I?

The kind that makes little kids go *poof* when they mess with my babies. The mommy kind.

I think it's because I know what it feels like.  When I was eleven, my family moved to a new school on the first day of seventh grade.  Literally, we left a house in one town, my mother drove me to a new school, and at the end of the day I went home to a new house.  Seventh grade is already a delightfully awkward time, but of course I couldn't be at least half-normal walking in the door of a new school.  Oh, no. 

The weekend prior, I had been at my dad's house.  My sister's kitten had treed itself, and (not out of love for animals, mind you, but to impress my little sister with my tree-climbing abilities) I rescued the kitten out of the tree.  The poison-ivy laden tree.

Sweet.

So I wasn't just the new girl at school.  I was the new girl with that stuff on her face.  What a lovely, lovely time in my life that was.  My new school was tougher, and the seventh grade girls girls wore a lot of makeup, and heels with jeans, and feathered hair.  You know how at the end of Grease, Olivia Newtown-John is all skankified and whorey?  That was kind of the "in" look at my new middle school.  Also, Marshall's didn't sell Benneton shirts.  I was screwed.

Once, in the locker room, I was cornered by one of the meaner girls.  Her confidence bolstered by her shiny new parachute pants, she made fun of me for being a "prep" and said something brilliantly incisive like, "we don't want no preps in this locker room."  Because I have always had this mouth on me, I commented that at least I wasn't wearing plastic pants.  I can't believe she didn't deck me on the spot.  I think she would have, but that's about when the gym teacher strolled in. 

Basically, I lived in terror after that.  Eventually, my luck ran out and there she was, in the girls' room.  Finally, years of battling with my brother paid off.  She threw a punch and I blocked it.  She grabbed my arms and I twisted free, which surprised her long enough for me to land a punch on her shoulder.  I didn't really hurt her, but I shocked the hell out of everyone in the bathroom.  She never physically threatened me again.

Doesn't it seem like one of those wonderful moments in the movies?  In Hollywood, after someone has a triumph over a bully, they become instantly popular.  That did not happen in my case.  Also, I was still terrified of Ms. Parachute Pants.  Fortunately, her electric blue eyeshadow and made her easy to spot in a crowd.  She couldn't sneak up on me because the parachute pants made that helpful zip-zip-zip sound, and I swear I could smell her Cover Girl liquid foundation from a mile away.

Even some of the girls who weren't expressly mean girls seemed happy to target me.  I was new, I had poison ivy on my face, and my clothes were wrong.  At the time, I lumped them in with all the other mean girls.  Later, in high school, I realized they were basically nice kids who were probably relieved and thrilled there was someone new to deflect Ms. Parachute Pants off of them.

It's possible that I am hyper-aware of the bullying issue with my kids.  Particularly with Little Dude.  I brought it up during the IEP and was reassured that bullying doesn't happen.  Yeah ... I'm hard-pressed to believe that bullying isn't happening in that school right now.

One of my wise readers suggested that I can punch bullies in the throat with my mind.  In fact, she suggested that I could start calling idiots "Mind Punch" instead of other obscenities I might be thinking.  This seems like an excellent idea.  Here are some suggested usages. To an irritating bully: "Hey, Mind Punch, leave my boy alone."  To the principal, "If you think autistic kids aren't being bullied, you're a bigger Mind Punch than I thought."  Out loud in the car, while you're driving with the kids: "That Mind Punch just cut me off!"

Little Dude can probably actually punch people in the throat with his mind, because, you know, he's a Jedi Master.  I don't know what else to do right now, while bullying weighs on my mind.  But at least now when I talk to the principal, I am buoyed by the thought: "Mind Punch."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Day of School. Yay?

Little Dude started school yesterday.  His morning teacher dragged out a big ol' box of Legos, so all was well for the first ten minutes.

Then I said it was time for me to leave.  And he lost. his. mind.  He melted to the floor and clung to my knees.  He went into uber-Aspie mode: no eye contact, rocking, guttural noises.  When his teacher asked if she could hold him, he sprang into action. 

I think there is some kind of arachnid called a jumping spider?  That is what he became.  He skip-stomp-hopped around the edges of the room, leaping and scootching away from the teacher and her aides.  It would have been seriously funny if he wasn't so traumatized.

Okay, actually?  It was pretty funny anyway, in no small part because it took four grown women to catch him.  Those jumping spiders are tricky.

I picked him up and hugged him, and then handed him off to the teacher.  She held him, literally kicking and screaming, while I walked out the door. 

When I went to pick him up in the afternoon, he was all smiles.  His afternoon teacher gave me the thumbs-up sign that is the preschool teacher's universal signal for "your kid didn't bite anyone, strip naked in the lunchroom, or otherwise totally go insane today." 

Awesome.

You want to know what's really weird?  (Um, everything in your life?  We know.  You covered that yesterday.)  Okay. Moving on, then.  You know what else is weird?

He says that he "held it in" and didn't pee or poop the whole day so that no one would change his diaper.  Now, I have no idea if that's true or not.  He came home in a dry diaper, but I have no idea if it was his first diaper of the day, because he came home and promptly peed and pooped in it.  But, really?  I can't hold it that long.  Of course, my bladder has been stomped on by four babies in three pregnancies, and I'm about one sneeze away from being a loyal Depends customer, so what do I know?

I commented that if that if he can hold it from 7:30 to 2:45, maybe he could try to let some of it go in the potty.  He did not like that idea one bit.  And today didn't seem like a good day to push the issue.  Fortunately, our special education teacher has all kinds of professional experience in potty training kids with a wide range of special needs.  She's got a game plan.  My plan is to do exactly what she tells me to do.  We're going to wait until he's a little more settled in before freaking him out with that agenda, though.

It was incredibly hard to hand him off to the teacher today.  If she wasn't so darned fabulous, I don't know if I could have done it.  She's one of these special education teachers who has seen it all and yet still loves the job and the kids.  So I was able to leave and believe it was the best thing I could do for him as his mommy.

Otherwise I would have been very happy to stay.  I don't need to participate, or anything.  I'm not one of those helicopter moms, hovering and being all overprotective.  (Except that I am, a little bit.  Or a lot.  Sue me.  I'm his mommy.)  I just want to be there.  Watching.  Making sure he's okay.  Seeing that he's happy and that the other kids are being nice to him.  When other kids aren't nice to him, I want to kill them.  It's some kind of mama lioness thing that is triggered in me.

But today, the mama lioness had to walk away.  Little Dude has leaps and bounds to go to get ready for Kindergarten next year.  Having me stay, to hold him and comfort him, would only hold him back. 

I did mercilessly snuggle him when we got home, though.  To the point where he was sick of it.

"How much more smuggling do we have to do?" he finally asked.  In his head, snuggle and smuggle are the same word, apparently.

"Just a little," I promised.

"Nah," he said.  "I'm good."  And he walked away.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nothing Can Ever Be Normal

Nothing can ever be normal for us.  I remember once calling my friend Lisa to announce that the Pork Lo Maniac had Scarlet Fever, and she said, "man, it's always something with you guys, isn't it?"
Yes.  Yes, it is. 

Lisa has been there from the get-go, in the NICU, and so she knows.  It really is always something.  And then when she started to crack jokes about my crazy life, and her crazy life, all I could think was thank God I have friends who get me.  Because then I could laugh and take a break from worrying that the Scarlet Fever would cause the Pork Lo Maniac to go blind like Mary on Little House.

There's always something.  For nine years, there's always been "the thing."  As in, "we'd love to [whatever], but the thing is ..."

The thing is, there is no food at the snack bar my children aren't allergic to, and that place doesn't let me bring a cooler in.  The thing is, we're having asthma flares and there's nowhere for me to plug in the nebulizer.  The thing is, we're busy having a panic attack.  The thing is, the other day a plane flew overhead and the sound triggered some weird auditory processing problem and now we just can't leave the house this week.  The thing is, we're all stark raving mad and can't function in the outside world.  Sorry.  Other than that, we'd love to go.

Today is the first day of school.  The Pork Lo Maniac and Cookie are going into fourth grade.  The Peanut Butter Kid is starting first.  Little Dude is going to full-day preschool, in a special program arranged just for him during a two-hour Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting last week. 

Lately my normal weirdness is starting to feel weirder than usual.  Obviously, nothing about the IEP is "normal."  That's why they call it the Individualized Education Program. They have to individualize it for the things.  The thing is, I'm bringing diapers into an elementary school. Another thing is that he can't tuck his shirt in, and at this school, tucking in your shirt is the key to learning.  I hope nobody gives him crap about it because I don't want to have to go back into another IEP meeting just yet.  I can't handle that much fun in such a short period of time. 



Today I should be bringing them all to school and then crying in the parking lot.  But I'm not.  I'm bringing them all to school, filing papers to arrange for homebound schooling for the Peanut Butter Kid, and then bringing the PBK home with me.  She's sad enough about that without me crying about leaving my youngest in full-day preschool.

The thing is, she has some health issues that have brought us to  the point where she can't go to school.  It's complicated and personal and I'm not going to get into on the Internet. Our pediatrician thinks the situation just needs a little more time to resolve itself, and we're waiting, patiently.  Waiting for our appointment with a specialist in case waiting isn't the answer.

Another thing?  Is that sometimes I am sick of all our things.  I feel like there's always an explanation required, backstory to be given.  Maybe I should just come up with new things, just to keep myself amused. 

I'd love to get the laundry done, but the thing is, we're out of coffee so I'm busy lying on the kitchen floor crying. 

We'd love to come to your party, but the thing is, your child is obnoxious.

I'd love to visit the zoo in 100+ degree weather, but the thing is, I have to check Facebook.  All day. 

We'd love to keep our yard exactly as described in the Homeowners' Association Rules, but the thing is, we're going to take a nap instead. 

I'd love to help out at the PTO meeting, but the thing is, I'm too drunk to drive.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Whining Time Station

The kids were sick this week, and so was I.  I was so sick I couldn't drink coffee.  Good thing Diet Coke is always there for me.  It never scolds me for running out of milk the way coffee does. Oh, Diet Coke.  Let's be best friends forever.

It wasn't the dreaded family stomach virus or anything, it was just one of those exhausting colds.  I went three days without doing laundry, and now I am entirely screwed on that front.  And the house is a disaster.  At a time when we should have been getting things organized for school to start next week, we were laying on the couch watching The Empire Strikes Back and whining. 

The whining gets old, so we try to keep it to designated Whining Times.  When we're all sick, we whine once an hour for two straight minutes, as loud and whiny as we can.  During that time, our living room is Whining Time Station.  It's like Shining Time Station, only more annoying and without the fun of seeing Mr. Conductor but thinking of George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television."

We were sick, we whined, we got over it.  Two days of trying to eke every last shred of energy out of my soul to take care of four sick kids when all I wanted to do was go back to bed.  We've had worse.  There was, of course, the Great Swine Flu Debacle of 2009, in which our family infected most of America with the H1N1 virus.  (I'm still really, really sorry about that, America.)

There was also an illness that our family still refers to as the Valentine's Day Massacre, which was a couple years ago.  This was during a time when I obviously had more time on my hands than I do now, because I was running obsessively every night at the local Y.  Actually, I guess I had the same amount of time as I do now, except I'm using that time to write these blog posts, which I can do from the comfort of my couch.

When I left to go a-runnin', the kids were already in bed, and the Absent-Minded Professor was mumbling something about not feeling well.  I suggested he sleep in the guest room and keep his cooties to himself.  I went to the gym and ran 10K on a treadmill, a feat I have never been able to repeat.  I hit one of those runner's highs people talk about and I just. kept. running.

I got home and was like, yay me!  I'm all sporty and stuff.  Until about 11 p.m., when I heard a plaintive call from Cookie.  By the time I got upstairs, it was too late.  Her bed was now Vomit City.  To her credit, she had managed to push most of her extensive menagerie of stuffed animals out of the way, but some of those Beanie Babies were hit and were unable to be saved.

Now, my twins are fraternal.  They are not the same height, they have different color eyes, and very different personalities.  But they always vomit within 60 seconds of each other.  They would probably hate for me to tell you that, because they're not really into the whole twin thing so much.  If they accidentally dress alike, one of them will change.  So they probably find their special Twin Vomit Connection really annoying.  But it's true.  They'll probably be those twins that vomit at the same time as adults, even when they're miles apart.  So before I even got Cookie cleaned up, I ran to get a waste basket for the Pork Lo Maniac.

Alas, once again, I was too late.  I was now faced with two moaning little girls in the Bunkbed from Hell.  It looked like an exorcism had taken place.  I changed their sheets, left bowls next to their heads, and put the old sheets in the wash.  As I went up and down all the stairs, I noticed that my fabulous run was causing all my joints to ache and my thigh muscles to lock up.

Over the next 48 hours, every member of my family got sick except me.  I washed endless amounts of laundry.  I sprayed Lysol constantly.  I got to a point where I thought, yeah, I'm just going to have to burn the house down to kill these germs.  I didn't, because I didn't have the energy to go down to the basement again to look for some sort of flammable liquid.  Also, my whole body still hurt from my damn runner's high-induced fiesta at the gym. 

Instead of burning down the house, I swabbed the place with bleach.  Bleach is one of my favorite things ever.  It's almost as great as Diet Coke.  Bleach makes me feel like I have a shred of control over my life.  If Yankee Candle made a "Chlorine Morning" scent, I would buy the whole line, including the "car jars."  In a perfect world, even my car would smell like bleach.  That would be heaven.

Eventually, my family got better.  Many, many Beanie Babies were lost in the Valentine's Day Massacre.  Also, the kids had to miss their Valentine parties at school, which was devastating.  At some point, the Peanut Butter Kid asked me why I never got sick.

"I don't know," I said.  I was really careful about washing my hands a lot.  Maybe I sweated out the germs at the gym.  Or maybe I just got lucky."

Six months passed.

Apropos of nothing, the Peanut Butter Kid welcomed some friends into our home for a playdate with the announcement, "I want to get lucky like Mommy did on Valentine's Day."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Should Totally Teach a Birthing Class

A friend of mine, pregnant for the first time, just took her birthing class.  After spending eight hours watching a nurse pull a felt baby out of a crocheted uterus, and watching videos of, you know, untamed va-jay-jays, her head was spinning.  Her husband went into shock and needed to be revived with a Victoria's Secret catalog shot of whiskey jar of smelling salts.

When I was pregnant with our twins, the Absent-Minded Professor and I dutifully went to our birthing class.  We went early -- during the second trimester -- because twins can come early and all that.  Despite the fact that all the other women were three months ahead of me, I still had the biggest belly in the room.  We had to go around the room and say our names and when we were due.  When we explained we were having twins, all the other moms smiled at me, and all the other dads gave my husband a horrified, stricken look.

The most disturbing thing about the birthing class was the videos.  I had watched tons of those Baby Story and Birth Day shows, so I thought I knew what it was going to look like.

I was wrong.  So wrong.

First of all, on Discovery and TLC, even when they show the baby crowning, they actually blur out the pubic hair, so the whole experience seems a little softer.  Also, they edit out a lot of grunting, apparently.  Like hours of it.

By the time they gave us a break for lunch, I was glassy-eyed and much more accepting of the possibility of a Cesarean section.  I had spent the last 20 weeks so focused on being pregnant and staying pregnant, that I'd kind of forgotten about the part when I'd have to get two actual human beings out of my body. 

After lunch, we had a nice tour of the birthing suites, which were adorable.  Of course, they were not for me.  Oh no.  The twin mommies deliver in the Operating Room, regardless of the type of delivery.  The birthing suites looked like cushy hotel rooms.  They had couches and artwork and queen-size beds.  Because I was there, the entire class had to march past the Operating Room.  The OR was somewhat less cozy than the birthing suites.

The nurse mentioned that maybe she could get me a quick tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but that didn't happen.  Maybe because I ran screaming out of the hospital she forgot.  I eventually became all-too familiar with the NICU, after Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac were delivered via emergency c-section five weeks early. 

Side Note: Because my life is entirely surreal, my anesthesiologist for this c-section was Dr. Doug Swift.  As in, Super-Bowl-winning-Miami-Dolphins-linebacker-now-he's-a-top-notch-doctor Doug Swift.  Which was possibly more exciting to my husband than the birth of his daughters. 

When my ob/gyn, who was also awesome but not a former NFL linebacker, so there's no reason to drop her name, pulled the first baby out, she said, "Baby A, 10:57 p.m."

And then Baby A was whisked away.

"Baby B, 10:58 p.m."

And then Baby B was whisked away, too.

No one said, "It's a girl! It's another girl!"  The many, many ultrasounds had shown two girls, but still, you don't really know until they're born.  Wasn't that what the doctor was supposed to say? 

The babies were taken to a small area off the Operating Room.  While my doctor finished tidying up my insides with a shop vac, I listened.  And eventually heard both babies crying.  My husband went with them, and eventually came back to me, and I asked him if we had two girls.  He said yes.  I asked if they had all their fingers and toes.  He said yes, but of course he hadn't really looked, he just wanted me to stop freaking out.  (Good news: they totally have all their fingers and toes.)

When I was pregnant the second time, I wanted it all to be different.  There was only one baby this time.  I was half as pregnant.  I was going to have a midwife and a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and music and incense and all that happy stuff in the cushy birthing suite. 

It turned out, not so much.  Because I had a c-sec with my first delivery, the hospital wanted me to deliver in the main hospital in case something went wrong.  Like my uterus accidentally splitting open like a ripe tomato.  Fair enough.  But I was going to have the midwife, damnit, and we were going to re-do the birthing class.

So my husband trooped along to another birthing class.  A series of birthing classes, actually, in an intimate setting and possibly with Joan Baez playing guitar and singing Kumbaya.  Before you go thinking that my husband is too much of a trooper, please know that the Absent-Minded Professor forgot to come to one of the classes.  I totally lied and told the other hippies that he was stuck at work.  They all looked at me sadly, thinking, that poor baby is not being born into a tofu-enriched loving home.  It honestly didn't bother me too much, because when we partnered up for massage, the birthing instructor gave me a kick-ass back rub.

Besides the birthing class, I gathered helpful tips from my friends, like:

  • If they offer you a mirror, for God's sake don't take it.  No one needs to see that.

  • Don't worry about pooping during the delivery. (Which totally made me worry about pooping during the delivery.)

  • You should totally curse out everyone in the room, because it's the one time it's socially acceptable to be a complete nutjob. 
All good advice. I pushed for forevah, I had the baby, she was enormous, and in the morning the hospital told me not to let the door hit me on the ass on the way out.

Then I got pregnant again.  In four years, we'd had two pregnancies and three babies.  I'd had an emergency c-section and a VBAC.  I'd had to leave the hospital with two babies still in the NICU.  I'd brought home a brand-new baby 24 hours after the birth.  So we felt like we pretty well had our bases covered, and it was all still scarred into our brains fresh in our minds.  Plus, we were already on a first-name basis with half the Labor and Delivery staff at the hospital.  Or at least we were telling people we were on a first-name basis with Doug Swift.  When my midwife, possibly out of sheer politeness, offered me the brochure on the birthing class that time, I declined.

At some point I'd like to teach a birthing class.  I would tell the moms to buy granny panties for after the delivery.  Oh, you'll have those sexy one-size-fits-all mesh panties at the hospital.  (Note: one size does not fit all.) But for going home, and for a couple weeks after, it's nice to have plenty of granny panties on hand. Cheap ones, because you will totally want to throw them out after The Carnage.  But definitely granny panties, because if you end up having a C-sec, the elastic of bikinis is going to hit right where your staples are.  Despite having had many nerve endings severed, it's an ungodly pain when an abdominal staple gets caught on underwear elastic.  And, if you've had a C, you won't be able to drive yourself to the store, so you'll have to send your husband out to buy you the unsexiest thing on the planet.  Which is the last thing your fragile hormonal state will be able to take.

So that's it.  I would tell the moms to buy granny panties.  Then we'd watch maybe one video, and then I'd send them home for a nap.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Toxic Sock Syndrome

Today's post has a give-away!  Woo-hoo!  Just like the big-time blogs!  You can win THREE PAIRS of sensory-friendly Seamless Sensitivity Socks by SmartKnitKIDS.  To enter to win, just comment on this post and "like" them on Facebook.  And wait, I need a way to contact you if you win the socks.  So make sure you "like" me on Facebook too. Because then I can stalk you let you know if you win.  Okay?  Winner will be chosen using random.org.

My two most sensory-spazzy kids, Little Dude and the Pork Lo Maniac, love these socks or I totally wouldn't be doing this.  First of all, they are seamless.  Secondly, they are designed to be easier for kids with fine motor skill delays to pull on (there is no heel).  Thirdly, they are very smooth "slide-y." Slideyness is apparently a very important factor in selecting socks when you're suffering from Toxic Sock Syndrome. 

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The more I learn about Little Dude, the more I see weirdness in the rest of our family.  Specifically, every one of us has some form of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  SPD is basically a malfunction of how your body interprets sensory input -- whether that input is visual, auditory, tactile, or whatever. 

Our pediatric neurologist, Dr. Orville Redenbacher, believes that Sensory Processing Disorder is just a form of Obsessive Compuslsive Disorder (OCD).  But the general consensus among my SPD mommy pals is that Dr. Redenbacher is out of his corn-poppin' mind.  Either way, there's some definite weirdness going on in this house.

Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac were diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder when they were 18 months old.  Their quirks were hard to miss: the touch of Barbie doll hair made Cookie cry.  They could not be barefoot, ever.  The Pork Lo Maniac would tire of chewing and keep a lump of meat in her mouth, like a plug of tobacco, for hours.  Please note that because of their allergies, the meat was always ground lamb.

Vacuuming had to be done "after hours," when they were asleep.  The sound of lawn mowers was so traumatic that I had to close all the windows and doors, and crank the radio anytime anyone on our block mowed the lawn.  Once, a small plane flew low overhead while we were playing in the backyard.  They wouldn't leave the house again for three weeks.

I don't mean they were just overly sensitive to sound.  I mean they were terrified.  Panic attack style.  Because lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners and small planes hurt their brains. After a couple years of occupational therapy, I guess their wiring got fixed and they're pretty much normal now.  Well, they're definitely not "normal," but you get what I mean.

The Peanut Butter Kid has some of the same auditory issues.  My husband took the girls to the Independence Day fireworks in town this year, and she lost. her. mind.  She was so traumatized she literally peed herself.  The best part of that story is that I did the same thing exactly 31 years ago at a Fourth of July Mets game at Shea Stadium.  I vividly remember trying to hide under the grungy stadium seats, screaming less like a little girl than like Janet Leigh in Psycho.

I believe I must have looked and sounded pretty much like this:



I still have auditory defensiveness.  Having more than one electronic noise in the room at once is a killer for me.  If Dora's on and someone's playing Guitar Rock on the DS, I start twitching.  Something's gotta give.  When Little Dude freaked out at the Children's Museum of Houston, I knew just how he felt.  It's the way I feel I feel in a casino.  Lights! Noises! Someone is trying to kill me!  Must. get. out.  The only thing that makes noises and lights worse for me is drunk people.  Basically Mardi Gras would be the Tenth Circle of Hell for me.

One of Little Dude's biggest sensory problems is the feel of sunblock.  No matter what brand I try, whether the sunblock is cream or lotion or gel or stick or spray, he can't stand it.  Which is a problem here in the Melanoma Belt.  He's the same with any type of moisturizer, which is a problem when his eczema acts up.  He is wired in a way that he experiences goo on his skin as painful.

Little Dude and the Pork Lo Maniac have the most tactile issues, still.  Shirts with collars are like some kind of medieval torture instrument for the PLM.  Tags in shirts are excruciating to Little Dude.  And socks. 

Oh, the socks.

Socks are an issue for both of them.  One problem is that they both have a fine motor skill delay, so they're hard to put on.  The PLM is nine and she still struggles with it.  She'll complain that her socks are lumpy in her shoes, and I realize they're on heel-side-up.  Little Dude -- forget it, he just can't put on socks for himself.  Or really anything except maybe a Darth Vader helmet, if he's really motivated.  The other problem is that most socks are distractingly annoying for both of them.  This is a major issue for Little Dude, because he has to wear socks and sneakers every day.  We tried sandals but sometimes grass touched his feet.  Gaaahh!

Sensory Processing Disorder seems to be pretty common in kids on the autistic spectrum, but not everyone with SPD is on the spectrum.  For us, it's just another of those "Little Specks of Autism" we keep noticing in us, and around us.  Sometimes we work on these issues, and sometimes we work around them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Weekend Shopping: Vodka, Enemas, and Untamed Va-Jay-Jays

I went out this weekend for a Day of Leisure with my only Texan friend, whom we'll call Peggy Sue, because it was good enough for Buddy Holly, and that's all I need.  Our Day of Leisure was not quite the spa day one might imagine. It was more like trolling through consignment shops and eating lunch at Five Guys. 

At Five Guys, we met some cool women who happened to be deaf.  And Peggy Sue happens to be a translator for the deaf.  And so I got to learn some sign language, which was so cool.  All the other Five Guys patrons were totally jealous, and for once in my life I felt like I was sitting at the cool kids' table.

We had to stop to buy vodka, because I was out of vodka, and that wasn't going to be good for anyone. Just so you don't think I'm developing a problem, you should know that I had actually only gone through one bottle of vodka in the entire time we've lived in our new house, which is now almost six months.  We also had to stop at the pharmacy because I needed lipstick and pediatric enemas.

To recap: If you spend the day with Peggy Sue, you will meet cool, interesting people and learn a new language. If you spend the day with stark. raving. mad. mommy., you will shop for used clothing, vodka, lipstick, and pediatric enemas.  I cannot believe she agrees to hang out with me, but she does.

Another thing that might happen if you spend the day with me, is that I will see the words "va-jay-jay" and "style" in the same headline on the cover of Cosmo, and start reading the article out loud.  (I swear there were no kids around.) 

I don't normally read Cosmo.  In fact, I pretty much don't buy magazines at all anymore because I am too poor, too cheap, and too easily annoyed.  I used to read Cosmo sometimes at the drugstore while waiting for my anxiety asthma meds, but I had to stop even that when I saw a headline that screamed about "What Men Want In Bed Now!" All I could think was, "What the hell do they want now?"

But then I saw this month's cover.  And it was so hilarious, I had to buy it, so that I could tell you about it and save you the $4.50.

This month's cover hollers, "Untamed Va-jay-jays: Guess What Sexy Style Is Back."  I had no idea that there were pubic hairstyle trends, but there are.  Trends, people.  And if by untamed they mean not giving a damn unless it's a pool day, then I am all kinds of trendy right now.

I know a few of my friends get ::shudder:: Brazilian waxes.  Personally, I find that I have enough surprisingly painful things happen to me that I don't really need to also pay a stranger to rip hairs out of very sensitive parts of my body.  Also, I'm a little skeeved out by the whole looking-like-a-five-year-old scene.  But, you know, whatev.  To each her own.

Also, I had heard about vajazzling, because Jennifer Love Hewitt made a weird announcement about that on national television, chirping about how her crotch shines like a disco ball.  I had heard about vajazzling, but I was mistaken about what it is.  I thought maybe it was a couple of glued-on rhinestones, kind of like a Troll Doll, only sluttier.  Or maybe even a small design, kind of like the iron-on Hello Kitty transfers you can get at the craft stores. And I thought the stuff would get glued on, um, slightly higher up.

I was only half-right.  You can get those, but if you want Jennifer Love Hewitt's "disco ball" look, you need to think more in terms of pavĂ©.  All over the place.  Which is why you need the Brazilian in order to do it.

But vajazzling may be old news to you.  Don't worry, there are lots more new product options available to today's Cosmo Girl.  There is makeup.  Makeup.  A "simple-to-use genital cosmetic colorant."  I had to look that up online in case the fine journalists at Cosmo had been huffing spray tan fumes.  In fact, the website for My Pink Button proudly proclaims that their product is "a temporary dye to restore the youthful pink color back to your labia."  The Internet is a weird, wild place, my friends.  Also?  I feel like slapping the evil anti-aging marketer who decided to give women yet another thing to feel insecure about.  Doesn't it seem like we have enough to worrying about without fearing that our labia has lost its youthful glow?

There are also leopard-print panty liners. And something called a Cuchini that helps prevent camel-toe.  Since jeans are now being sold so tight they're called jeggings, I can see how that could become a fashion essential.

And there's hairstyling.  Apparently the Brazilian is so ten minutes ago, it's now considered more shocking to leave some hair there.  So all of a sudden I felt uber trendy, until I realized Cosmo doesn't mean all of it or anything.  It turns out that Cosmo's "untamed" sexy style still means waxed and trimmed and possibly highlighted by a professional stylist named Jacque-Paul.

All this seems like a lot of work.  I definitely can't get this kind of stuff done in the four minutes I have in the shower before someone starts banging on the door, crying that no one will play Lego Star Wars with him.  And all I usually do with the hair on my head is wash it and comb it.  I also have a history of allergies, so I can't imagine the reaction I might have to vajazzling glue and labia dye.  (That can't be a fun conversation with the ER nurse.  "So, my labia had lost its youthful glow, and ...")

Plus, professional vajazzling is really not in our budget right now and DIY vajazzling sounds like a recipe for ending up looking like one of those freakish craft projects on Regretsy. 

I think I'll just stick to my sexy old style.  And by sexy old style, I mean not giving a damn unless it's a pool day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh, Dina. Check the Oompa Loompa in the Mirror

There's been a rash of blaming in the news lately.  Dina Lohan, in all her orange-hued glory, got a lot of press for blaming the paparazzi a judge everyone but herself for her daughter Lindsay's drug and alcohol-related jail time.  I guess it's easier to blame someone else for your child's poor behavior, than to take a look at the Oompa Loompa in the mirror.

Dina Lohan went on the Today show on Friday and blamed Lindsay's current mess on "propaganda," the tabloids, the state of California,  and pretty much everything and everyone but Lindsay.  It seems that almost the entire situation can be blamed on one particular hardball-playing judge, who has now recused himself.  Recused.  Dina seemed pretty proud of herself for mastering that new vocab word.

Granted, Lindsay is now a grown woman, but perhaps she would have had a better chance at moral character if her mom had taken a moment away from the spray-tan booth to, I don't know, read a book to her.  Perhaps a childhood favorite like Goodnight Moon or The Cat in The Hat or Ned Learns to Say No: A Lesson About Drugs or something.  Also, it's hard to lecture your daughter on the dangers of drugs and alcohol when you're out partying with her.  I know this from personal experience: when I was fourteen, my mother put drinks on my tab at a local bar.  (I also know that pretty much everything in that last sentence is completely wrong.)

In Arizona last week, a group of parents sued their school district to prevent five teenagers from being suspended.  They were suspended for drinking beer while on a trip to China this summer.  The students, members of the school's Jazz Bog Band and Wind Symphony (I am not making that up) all admitted to drinking the beer.  The parents said the punishment wasn't fair because the district "failed to properly supervise the students."

Listen, if one of my kids is ever suspended from school for drinking beer on a field trip, I'm going to be all, "That's right, and you're grounded forevah."  Also, the suspended child will not be spending those suspended days watching Jersey Shore reruns and eating all the Doritos in the house.  He or she will use that time clean up vomit at the nearest alcohol treatment facility while listening to an endless loop of "Achy Breaky Heart" on a Walkman.  Do you hear me, young lady?  A Walkman! (Note to my readers born after 1980: a Walkman was a personal listening device for music, back in the Ye Olden Days before iPods.  They played cassette tapes, which contained small reels of plastic ribbon -- oh, never mind.  It's too weird and complicated.  Just trust me.  It will be humiliating.)

Last month, my favorite buzzkills, the Center for Science in the Public Interest threatened to sue McDonald's because putting toys in Happy Meals contributes to childhood obesity.  They said the toys sucker in the kids with deceptive marketing and the parents have to listen to the pestering.  Um, actually?  The toys are the part that aren't causing obesity.  Those crappy little plastic McToys are calorie-free, generally speaking.  Even more importantly, you don't have to listen to the pestering.  They are children.  You are in charge.

Also? As in the case of skanktastic children's clothing, overweight children are not driving themselves to McDonald's and ponying up tooth fairy money for the Happy Meals.  Here's a thought: if you are concerned about your child's weight, don't go to McDonald's.  Or go to McDonald's and get the apples instead of the fries. And the milk instead of the soda.  But mostly, stop blaming McDonald's that you can't say no to your kid when he asks for the GigantiSize Coke and the second third order of fries.

McDonald's is also under the gun from a group called Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood for using "violent" Marvel comics characters as Happy Meal Toys.  They are particularly concerned about Spiderman's friend the Human Torch, or as the CCFC put it, "the horrifying spectacle of a man on fire."  We recently went to McDonald's and Little Dude happened to get this very toy.  It has a tiny light inside that makes it glow when you press a button.  He played with it for a while and now it's lost in the rest of the crap wedged into his carseat.  I will admit that the amount of crap in my van is a horrifying spectacle. Also terrifying: Spiderman's cheap plastic suction cup hands may not actually stick to your refrigerator.  Bummer.

Clearly, these people are placing too much importance on these toys.  Yes, we eat at McDonald's sometimes.  More often when we're driving across the country and our choice is between the golden arches and Uncle Creepy's Roadside Wiener Shack.   However, we don't keep the McToys for very long.  They get put in the McTrash while the kids are McSleeping.

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Update: Turns out it's Fiesta de Dina Lohan Day in the blogging universe.  Because crazy writes itself.  Want more Dina?  See my friends Mom-in-a-Million and Minky Moo.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Moms' Night In: The Aftermath

I am finally going through my photos from our road trip, and I thought you guys would like to see a photo from the Twin Moms' Night In I wrote about in Love to the Single Mamas.

The event was hosted by friend Meredith, who is a beautiful woman and an awesome mom who happens to be single.  You may remember Meredith, or more specifically her annoying ex, Jim, from my post Happy Father's Day (No, not you, Deadbeat, I'm talking to the good ones.)

Again, we're all really sorry about spilling that Frodka on The Single Mother Book, and that it had to go back to the library reeking of vodka.  But I'm sure the next single mom that checks it out will understand.

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