Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday? What holiday?

Here we go again. This time of year is always a bit of a nightmare considering all the crap we have to cram in between Halloween and New Years. And everyone hates each other by the time it's all over.

Just like last year, we're insanely busy and everyone is all cranky and completely over it. And THIS year, it's like Halloween barely happened and Thanksgiving was just the day we drove all over the place to eat too much...and then stayed up til after midnight so we could go get the Macy's coffee table we've been stalking for months. (Damn thing wasn't on sale. Fascists.)

Enter the Christmas season. Not only have I not purchased a single gift for anyone other than myself (relax, I bought myself a new blender) but I have no clue what the kids want.

Two nights ago I asked both kids to get with it and write their letters to Santa. This was just after the Macy's red mailbox commercial came on, to which they replied "there's no way that mail goes to the North Pole, I'm sure it just sits in the post office".

Punks.

I know my kids are almost 11, but Santa was the LAST mythical being they believed in so it would be a bummer if they decide not to now. They know the Tooth Fairy is just Mom trying to sneak a dollar under their pillows (busted) so I'm certain this is just another thing to question.

Alexander told me the other day he has "doubts about all this Santa stuff".

So back to the letters....Clifford managed to scratch one out right then and there, which I could barely read so I'm planning to ask him to rewrite it, I think it included a Pocket Bike, so....NO, and Alexander just asked for "a wonderful Christmas".

Where's your list of crap???

I hate this age. Too old to ask for Tonka trucks and believe a collection of garden gnomes put them together and had a fat man drop them under the tree...and too young to move out of my house, get jobs, and be happy with an unwrapped bottle of vodka.

Lose/lose.

And let's not forget their birthday is 3 days beforehand. At least I don't have to plan any elaborate parties this year, thanks to all those Cs.

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to grieve like a 5th grader

Report card time is officially upon us. This middle-of-November annual ritual of finally seeing how things went at school during the first quarter can go one of two ways....

"You made honor roll?? Sweet, let's party elementary school style"

Or

"Mannnnn the holidays are gonna suck for you"

This year being the kids' final year before they have to be all responsible in middle school, I've been extra diligent about following them around the house hounding them about doing their homework and making sure their assignments were completed and turned in. I've been stressing this for months.

"If you don't fill out your reading log, your teacher won't know you actually read, and you won't get a job and you'll have to live in a box."

It was working....for a minute,

The problem is (if you can call it a problem) my kids are very bright. They ace most of their tests and score incredibly high on those crazy aptitude tests and SOLs that I completely bombed when I was a kid. They just hate the extras. Extras being actually filling out the reading log to PROVE you had your nose buried in The Hunger Games for the last hour. So the extras, the EASY stuff, didn't get done no matter how many times I reminded them.

So about two months ago I warned both of them that I knew they would be easy-ins for the honor roll if they would just keep up with the simple stuff like reading logs and using colored pencils in your Science notebook because your Science teacher is a little nuts and a regular pencil just doesn't cut it....and oh by the way, if you don't get all As and Bs like I know you should, privileges are gone for the entire second grading period.

That includes no iPods, Wii, TV, birthday party. I've been warning them almost daily. They assured me they were fine.

This is where the 5 stages of loss come in.

Today report cards came in. Clifford: C in Writing, Alexander: C in Reading and a C in Science. (Damn colored pencils).

Peace out, privileges.

So after the initial "I'm terribly disappointed" conversation where I was certain I could guilt them into trying harder, I reminded them of the dreaded consequences for not making grades. And this is what I heard.....

"But what do you meannnnnn???????" (Denial)

"You can't take away our birthday!! Who would do that?? That's so meannnnnnnn!!!" (Anger)

**I considered chiming in at this point to explain that the Mayans have managed to do that job for me this year since the kids' birthday falls one day after the calendar supposedly ceases to exist, but I held onto that one. For the time being.

"But 3 whole months?? What if we do chores, what if we behave?????" (Bargaining)

.....Silence.......... I think this is the Depression stage.

They're both downstairs right now not making a sound. Alexander had his head in his hands with the meanest look he could possible conjure up when I walked past him earlier so I'm hoping that by simply leaving the room they'll both move on to the Acceptance stage and we can still eat dinner without any incidents.

We'll see.

I'm super mean (according to them) and this may end up being somewhat of a punishment for me....but I warned them.

I should probably sleep with one eye open for a little while.




Friday, November 16, 2012

And just like that...it's gone

Snarky kids get things taken away. I keep telling mine if they don't stop running their mouths and being generally nasty toward each other and everyone in the house I'll start to take the really big stuff away.

Lately it's been a week of TV here, no iPods for a month there, writing "I will not yell at my mom" 100 times, none of it seems to have real impact. They just holler louder and I just drink more wine.

Enter the end-of-soccer-season party at Johnny Rockets.

This party was one of those where the other parents on the team thought that having the party the same day and time that soccer practice was originally scheduled would be a fabulous idea. Unfortunately it was from 5-6 on a Wednesday requiring me to leave work early to grab the kids and get them to this thing, so not very convenient, but still doable. AND to pile it all on, the kids had a "come see all the crap I've been working on in school" night later that same evening. Ugh.

I'm pretty sure all this impending excitement was the reason for Clifford's well-timed meltdown that morning. Alexander had the same meltdown just a day earlier so there was either a full moon, or the kids were just being little turds. I leaned toward assuming it was latter.

So the morning of the party as we were all attempting to get ready for school and work, as if that isn't difficult enough, Clifford decided to open his mouth. From the moment he cracked an eye he was in a crappy mood and made everyone aware.

I couldn't even tell you what the actual problem was, aside from a case of "pain in the ass kid" but after the 47th nasty comment came flying out I blurted "HEY! You know that all I have to do is stay at work today instead of leaving early and taking you to the soccer party."

You would have though that just the idea of the party disappearing would have made the kids shut it, but no.

He kept on and I made the grand announcement that there would indeed be no party. So there.

Clearly they don't believe a word I say, let alone believe I would ever follow through with such a threat....that is until I didn't pick them up.

At about 5:15 the calls started to come in, which of course I let go to voicemail. Sad and very pitiful little voice messages from Clifford asking me if I was "still planning to pick him up".

Nope. Not til 6:00 little man.

I finally got over to the school which was already packed full of other parents prepared to wander the halls looking at all the crap their kids were doing in school, and down the hallway I see Alexander. All puffy-faced and red-eyed with a look of shock that I could actually NOT pick them up for the party.

After explaining that there was no party because behavior was bad and that his behavior actually WAS crappy the day before and no, everything doesn't reset the next day, I spy Clifford....angrily kicking his lunchbox down the hall.

"Told ya I would follow through. Next time maybe you'll listen to me when I tell you to knock it off."

 I also made it clear that if they melted down over this then I would also take away the arts thing so they had better watch their butts.

I think they finally got it. Maybe.

Until the next time when they decide that no punishment in the world could deter them from beating the crap out of each other in the living room.

Wine......

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Everyone likes surprises

Unless of course it's a surprise shot at the pediatrician's office.

It was once again well-visit time for the kids and since we were already home bound due to the election, I thought to schedule their check-ups for yesterday.

Naturally, the most frequently asked question from either of the kids is "do we have to get any shots?" and the answer is always "no". I can't remember the last time they had to have a shot. They definitely opt for the flu mist, so that alleviates any doctor visit anxiety automatically, but most of their vaccinations were done years ago. So no shots.

Well, apparently you can't go into 6th grade without a shot of something called TdaP. Couldn't even begin to tell you what it's for, but the doctor just blurted out "oh, they need a TdaP shot so they can go into 6th grade next year blah blah blah..."

Clifford got a somewhat concerned look on his face, but managed to man-up and decided to be "okay" with it. He wanted to tough it out. Good man.

Alexander, on the other hand, was sitting on the exam table and proceeded to curl himself into a ball tight enough for me to actually go bowling with him and dissolved into a pile of tears and "I'm about to be marched to my death" anxiety.

"No no no NO NO NO NO NO, YOU SAID NO SHOTTTTTTTSSSSS!!!!!"

What followed was a series of "I can't do this"s and "I WON'T do this"s and despite my best efforts to use calming statements like "hey, Clifford will go first and he can tell you all about it", he was a mess. He cried all the way through his exam with a look of terror on his face. 

Begging and pleading, unfortunately (for him) to no avail.

Cut to the poor nurse coming in with the little tray of stuff, which included the dreaded death needles, along with the flu mist.

Considering Alexander was experiencing a psychotic break and had stuffed himself into the most remote corner of the teeny exam room, we opted to take care of Clifford first. Flu mist...check. Super easy. Shot in the arm...he took a deep breath, closed his eyes preparing for the worst, and just like that it was over. Nada. Hooray.

He immediately tried to convince Alexander there was nothing to be concerned about, but that worked about as well as if he had said "oh hey, it's gonna feel like someone just pulled your arm off".

We got Alexander back on the exam table, managed to get him to deal with the flu mist....and now it was time for the physical restraining.

I've had to do this before, like when the kids had to have their blood drawn for allergy testing a few years ago (that involved me, Alexander, 4 nurses, and we all broke a sweat).

So, I pulled him off the table, bear-hugged him attempting to reveal his left shoulder while the nurse, God bless her, was just as calm as can be and through all the screams rivaling that of a 1970's slasher film, got that TdaP in that arm of his without skipping a beat.

The SECOND she said "see? all done", Alexander spins around and through tears and a face full of agony looks at me and says "mom, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry....It didn't hurt at all and I was expecting it to feel like the shots I got when I got stitches".

Ahh, the beauty of the guilt trip.

Of course I said it was fine and he no longer has anything to worry about since he now knows what to expect when it comes to shots. All was well with the world again.

Until today when he got a fever from that TdaP shot and had to be snatched from school.

Anxiety reset.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stolen grapes taste better

How do you turn a long weekend into a really long weekend? Throw a hurricane on it.

It was time once again for my pesky birthday. This year, however, I managed to win the title of "Megan's Plus 1" to her friend Neil's wedding in San Francisco.
Don't have to ask me twice.

So we were off. Off to spend 2 days in Napa and 2 days in San Francisco. Delightful.

We arrived without incident, snagged the rental car, and headed up to California wine country. It was beautiful. A tasting here, some cheese there, we stomped grapes, we got souvenir shirts, we took great pictures. Perfect weather, couldn't ask for a better time.

I even stole grapes to bring back for Richard because they tasted better than any other grape he's ever dragged me to Korean grocery stores to buy.

Two days later we were headed back down to San Francisco for the wedding. By the time we sat down to dinner I had a voicemail from United informing me the flight back was cancelled due to the crappy hurricane that was about to pound the East coast.

We knew it was coming. We'll deal with it tomorrow.

The next day, after wandering the city for a while, I waited on hold for about an hour and finally got us rebooked on another flight....3 days after the original one.

Well, looks like we're makin' this a longer trip. Whoopsie. Sorry, Work, you won't be seeing us in the office for a while.

Meanwhile, back at home, Richard was dangerously close to throwing himself in traffic because the kids were nuts, school was being cancelled, and I was about to miss their first Halloween since they were born.

But we still had those grapes on ice. I was proud of us.

Thankfully we could get a friends and family discount (thanks Kim!) at the airport Marriott, even though it meant Megan having to pretend to be Kim's mom. That's what it said on the form, it must be true.

Time to check into hotel number three.

We extended the time on the rental car an extra day so we could take a day trip south to see what's what and we found ourselves in Santa Cruz for an entire afternoon. It was there I decided sorry kids, but I'm just going to have to move here. It was gorgeous.

We stopped in Cupertino on the way back to thank Apple for forcing us to spend all our money on their stuff. Considered stopping at Facebook to give that Mark Zuckerberg a smack in the face because his mobile app sucks, but decided against it.

Instead we ditched the rental and spent our last day bumming around the airport Marriott watching hours of HGTV and hurricane coverage eating all the snacks we bought. Snacks for stranded people, they're the best kind.

We stopped posting pictures of awesome weather on Facebook because all our friends on the East coast dealing with the hurricane were getting pissed off. It was the least we could do after all the devastation the Northeast endured.
Thoughts and prayers to my peeps.

The stolen grapes were still all cozy in the hotel room fridge. And at that point it was my mission to get those things home still looking like grapes and not just a bag of mush.

The flight home was actually on time, which we considered a small miracle, but was leaving from the international terminal so it was highly likely we were going back to Washington by way of Shanghai. We were on a plane so we were happy.

Delays aside it was a great trip and getting stranded wasn't all that bad. Especially since it was in the SFO airport Marriott.

Now on to the kids' Halloween candy-induced diabetes.

Fun times and a great birthday!