Photo Credit – Nitro Circus

Last week my parents informed me that Erik Estrada – you know, the guy from Chips – was planning to jump a building in Las Vegas on a motorcycle. My first thought was “I wonder if VH1 has some new pseudo-celebrity series that is airing this”. It’s been a little while since some D list celebrity has had a turn in a boxing ring, rehab or semi-scripted vacation that has aired on cable. Danny Bona-douchebag must be making a living at a drive-thru somewhere. My second thought was “I wonder what the insurance coverage is on something like that”. Unfortunately that is just how my brain works. I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that my Mom obtained this information from watching Fox News.

A few days later I learned that the exhibition in Las Vegas was actually Travis Pastrana beating some of Evil Knievel’s records. I, of course, learned this while stalking Carey Hart’s Instagram account. It’s a good thing I have social media to report news of the non-fake variety. And of course that obsession with heavily tattooed smoking hot motocross guys helps.

When I first received the information about Erik Estrada’s big comeback to showbiz I didn’t think much about whether or not it was legit. As with a lot of information I get from my parents, I gave it a 50/50 shot of being accurate. You see, this is not the first time data has been lost in translation. My dad has left many newspaper clippings over the years about bands he thinks I like or concerts I attended that made the news (often by the amount of arrests). I determined the old man just didn’t know me at all when he left an article about Nickelback on the kitchen table. I almost disowned him right then and there. Over the years he has informed me of more dead musicians than I can count, and almost all of the names he gave me are still alive and well.

Receiving information from him is similar to playing a game of telephone with a three year old. Every now and then he throws something really bizarre at me that I know can’t be true. Like that time he told me Sammy Hagar was the new lead singer of Van Halen. Unfortunately this was one of the few he got right. He also told me some reality television star who bankrupted six companies was running for president. I wasn’t buying it. Once again, he was correct.

My mom is not a whole lot better than my dad, but her misinformation is usually about someone we know. She sometimes gets my cousins confused and I think the one who is pregnant is getting divorced and the one who is divorcing got herself knocked up. I end up congratulating the soon to be single and dropping hints about a great workout plan for the prego. At these times I would feel embarrassed if I were capable of feeling that emotion.

So congratulations to Travis Pastrana for crushing it. And congratulations to Erik Estrada for… well I guess for still being a household name. My parents think Ponch is up to some pretty exciting things these days.

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Lake Life

The view is worth the work

My parents bought a house on a lake seven years ago. Each year we seem to spend a little more time out there and each year my dad somehow acquires more toys for the water. He started out with a couple of wave runners and started adding rafts he could pull behind the wave runners as my daughter got a little older. Then he finally bought himself a boat. And of course he had to buy a bigger raft to pull behind the boat. My mom acquires her own water toys yearly, mostly of the floating pineapple and alligator variety. It now takes about three hours to get all of the water toys ready for us to use for an hour. My dad actually pulls a cart behind his riding lawnmower stacked 6′ high with every type of flotation device imaginable. But we love it.

My dad and the seven year old are the only ones who drive the boat. My dad is the only one who parks the boat because getting it pulled onto the boat lift can be challenging. Sometimes it takes my dad a few efforts to get there. Because of this he usually loads up the boat with enough people and provisions to stay out on the lake for awhile.

The other day my parents had a party for the Fourth of July. All of my cousins and their kids were there and most of them wanted to go rafting. We jumped in the boat and took a bunch of the littles for a ride around the lake. We went around and around, trading places on the four person bouncing couch until I had a permanent kink in my neck and the youngest was ready to head to shore. When we pulled back in we pulled the boat up onto the lift but didn’t raise it, since we would be heading back out. It had been hard to push the boat off and the front end was far enough out of the water that it wasn’t going anywhere. Or so we thought… 

My dad and husband headed into the house for some food as all of the other adults hung around on the deck and in the yard. The kids all took off to play some lawn games and take a rest from being in the water. Ten minutes later I heard someone yelling “you’re losing your boat! Your boat is floating away!” I looked down to the water to see my dad’s boat bobbing in the water about fifteen feet from the dock. It was in between two docks headed right for a bunch of women and children floating around on their little blow up unicorns and flamingos. Luckily my parents’ neighbor and one of his friends were right there and were quickly pushing my dad’s boat back toward the lift. On a side note – I’m fairly convinced that my parents’ neighbor likes our family so much because we are always ready to turn him into the hero of the day. He is fairly consistently bailing us out of some lake dilemma.

Of course this happened when the two people who would know what to do were nowhere to be found. All of the other guys were not even wearing bathing suits and nobody who was outside could be of much help. So, it was apparently going to be up to me to get the boat back with the help of the neighbors. I ran into the water and started pulling the front of the boat onto the lift as the neighbor pushed from the back. Luckily the boat had just started floating away when they caught it so there wasn’t far to go, but we still had to get it back onto the lift.

Luckily the big guns were there. My family has been calling me “the big guns” for a year. I got the name when three guys were trying to push the boat onto the lift last year with little luck. I walked up and said “get out of the way and let the big guns get it” as they all laughed at me. They shut up a minute later when I successfully pulled the boat onto the lift from the front. Truth be told, my ass did most of the work. I pulled on the front of the boat while sitting down into the water. It just sounds a lot better to be called “big guns” than “big ass”.

On this day, we were pretty much in the same position as the day I got my nickname. And I got myself in the same position as before and pulled as I sat back into the water. My ass once again did the work and my arms got the credit. Sorry ass, that’s the way it goes. I was at the tail end of pulling the boat onto the lift when my dad walked out onto the dock after someone had told him what was going on outside. He got in the boat after we had it in position and raised it out of the water a little bit so it would stay secured.

When the littles came running back to the beach to go for another ride my dad suggested we take the wave runners and pull the smaller rafts. I thought it was a pretty good idea considering my guns were done for the day. The kids like the small rafts even more anyway since they fly all over the place and fall off. I opted not to drive for this round of rafting since I had already run into the neighbors’ dock the day before after not being able to find reverse. I have very much secured my position of brawn and not brains in this operation.

You would think that after seven years of part-time lake living we would all be a little better at it. To date we have almost sunk a boat, almost lost a boat, got a boat stuck on the lift, been unable to get a boat on the lift and I have crashed into two docks and run over my dad with a wave runner. Every time I am at the lake I feel a little bit like Eva Gabor in Green Acres, but somehow that water keeps luring me back.

In honor of my big Irish Catholic family I of course wrote this while listening to Dropkick Murphys

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She might fall, but she might fly.

I was watching the news this morning and there was a story about how a toddler was injured at a playground that caught my interest. In the preview they kept showing a picture of a young mom sitting on a slide with her toddler on her lap, all smiles. I was already thinking that the mom was probably the one who accidentally injured the child, and sure enough when the story aired, it was the mom’s fault – although the story wanted to somehow blame playgrounds as a whole. The mom went down the slide with the child in her lap and halfway down the kid’s leg got stuck on the side of the slide and broke.

Things happen. Kids fall. They fall on playground equipment, they fall off of playground equipment. They fall in the grass, on the sidewalk and down the stairs in their own homes on occasion. The world is a giant test course for kids. But this child was hurt because her mom – who barely fit down the slide solo – decided that the child would be safer in her lap than alone. Her leg got caught because there wasn’t enough room in between the mom’s legs for the child’s legs so they were on top, flopping around unsecured. Of course her leg was going to hit the side of the slide and her rubber soled shoe was going to get stuck.

I have done this exact same thing with my daughter and at the time I had two concerns  – her leg getting trapped under me or both of us falling as one unit off the slide. The second situation was probably more likely since gravity and I have never gotten along very well. I remember thinking that I was much too large for the slide and I was about half the size of the mother I was watching on TV. The thing is, I knew that most times when my daughter was trying to climb something or play on something that my interference would muck up the works. She was better off doing things on her own. Me hovering would likely lead to me somehow falling on top of her or tripping her. The few slides that I did descend with her were at least 10′ tall and she was unable to get to the top of them by herself. If one or both of us had been hurt while on the slide I wouldn’t have blamed anyone but myself. This mom was acting as if she had no blame in what happened to her kid. She actually used the “everyone is doing it” excuse. There is some cult member out there just waiting to stumble upon this woman as their newest recruit.

One at a time please!

There are signs at every playground I have ever been to that caution people that the equipment is designed for children ages 2-12. Some even list the ages as 5-12. This mother was advocating there be warning signs at playgrounds of what could happen if an adult were to use the playground equipment. It’s the equivalent of the little pictures on fast food coffee cups explaining that you shouldn’t dump the coffee in your lap because it could burn you. Do we really need more cautionary signs for what could happen if we don’t use common sense? I think we should just start putting up signs that read “Don’t be an idiot.”

I really didn’t want to blame the mom in this story because we moms get blamed for enough already, but when I saw the mom holding her daughter up to hang on to the monkey bars at the end of the story I decided that this particular mom didn’t really deserve the benefit of the doubt. I imagined the child a few years in the future trying to hang by herself from the monkey bars, falling on her face when she couldn’t hold herself up. Kids don’t learn to hang by themselves when their parents always hold them up. I remember the first time my daughter was able to swing from one bar to the next and how proud she was of herself. This was because I told her for several years that if she wanted to play on the monkey bars she would need to do it herself. I wasn’t going to carry her across because that took away the future sense of pride she would one day feel.

Hang on honey, Mommy’s climbing up right behind you!

The most interesting part of the story was how much playground injuries have increased over the last twenty years. Even though the equipment has become safer, there are more injuries. I would suspect a lot of them are either kids falling off of things the first time their parents aren’t holding them up or the parents otherwise mucking up the works. Twenty years ago children were not having their legs broken on slides all over the place because their parents weren’t insisting on riding tandem. Kids can get hurt enough on their own, they really don’t need mom’s assistance in this area. And no matter how much the lady on the news program blames the playground and their lack of signage, her little girl is still going to grow up and tell the story about how her mom broke her leg when she was a toddler. Welcome to motherhood lady!

I wrote this blog while listening to Dropkick Murphys

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My daughter was looking through some of my old yearbooks last weekend. As I flipped the pages and looked at pictures of my class, I was a little shocked at how few of my classmates I remembered. I was also shocked that when I saw the picture of one particular girl I was brought right back to being a twelve year old girl and wanting to rip someone’s head off. Not so shockingly, it wasn’t even the girl, it was her mother.

I went to a very small school. There were less than 15 students in my grade and most of us had been in school together since we were very young. One girl that I was good friends with wore glasses the depth of the bottom of a glass soda bottle. Of course when some of the other girls teased her the words “Coke bottle” were often used. These are the words that I heard come out of the mouth of a girl we will call “Judy” that initiated my feelings of ill will toward her mother.

Judy was the kind of girl who defined herself by her looks. Her entire self worth was wrapped up in the emblem on her popped collared shirts and pink headbands. She spent more time in front of a mirror than a book and her school supplies consisted of glosses and powders rather than leads and paper. Looking back, I can’t really blame her for this, it was how she had been conditioned by her mother who was a walking Ralph Lauren advertisement. I think Judy’s mom was pretty, but it was hard to tell what she really looked like under all the mascara and hairspray. Sometimes her insides showed through which is exactly what kept her in the pageant runner up category. She would never be beautiful with all of her insides making an appearance like they did. She was full of gossip and snarky comments. It was no wonder Judy only felt good about herself when she was making others feel badly about themselves.

Judy never picked on me the way she did my friend. I think she knew better than to enter a battle of wits unarmed. Twelve years of smart assery had left me a relative wit warrior. Having an overly healthy self-esteem, her words would have been like paper airplanes attacking me. I threw grenades. And after she called my friend “Coke bottle” that day, I threw a pretty hefty grenade. I don’t recall my exact words but the message was that even the strongest braces were not going to fix her enormous buck teeth. Although I was a skilled verbal swords woman I was also a prepubescent girl so my natural reaction was to go directly for the jugular. She had no comeback for me other than to scream “BITCH!” which was, unfortunately for her, overheard by a nun walking down the hall. We were both taken to the headmistress’s office and our parents were called. I don’t recall any punishment. I do remember that our mothers had a telephone conversation that night.

In that conversation Judy’s bumbleheaded mother informed my mom that Judy was forced to call me a bitch. My mom asked if I had held her down and made her recite the word. I don’t think Judy’s mom understood what “personal responsibility” meant when my mom used the words and she certainly didn’t understand what my mom was getting at when she was trying to find out how I had coerced poor little Judy into swearing at me. Judy’s mom finally let her insides show and said “maybe if you stayed at home with your daughter these things wouldn’t happen…” My mom is a better person than I am. Where I would have said “maybe if you didn’t spend so much time with your daughter she wouldn’t know what a bitch was”, my mom remained calm and continued the conversation until they finally agreed to disagree and hung up. My mom has told me many times that there is no fixing stupid.

I know those words cut my mom. I know she often felt guilty about being a working mom in a land of stay at home moms. I know this because I used that guilt as a weapon on many occasions. Again, I was a prepubescent girl so my natural reaction was to go directly for the jugular – mother or not. Plus, I was kind of a manipulative little asshole. Those words actually provoked me to be a little more like my mom. I was pretty certain that Judy’s mom truly was a bitch and it was probably because she was miserable with her life decisions. I had always thought that my rebelliousness came from my dad, but I realized then that my mom had been bucking the system my whole life.

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Love Cats

Mommy’s Little Monster

Every child in my daughter’s class got a new pet last year. This is what I hear at least. I know of at least three that did in fact get a dog in the past year. But I’m pretty sure the majority of the remaining twenty two first graders did not get a new pet. Unfortunately, this is the one area where my kid wants to be just like the other kids and now she wants a pet.

She initially asked for a puppy but quickly decided that a kitten would be a better choice based on the ease of poop retrieval. We went through all of the things she would have to do to care for a kitten and she feels strongly that she is capable of doing them. I told her that she would need help that her dad and I are not willing to give right now but she was adamant that she could do it all herself. I learned quickly at the start of this conversations that all of her feelings about this subject were strong – vehement even. She is seven, so most of her thoughts and feelings are life changing. She is pretty sure at this moment her life is incomplete because there is no kitten in it.

I asked her how she would get her kitten to the vet, and asked if she would be driving herself there. She replied “Of course not. I’m a child. I can’t drive!” I thought this was a good place to end the discussion, but she proceeded to list the other ways she could get to the vet. My daughter may not be able to drive, but next time I leave her at school I can ask why she didn’t just call an Uber because she is clearly familiar with how to get a ride. Uber was one of five ways she listed to get to the vet. I didn’t even want to ask how she planned to pay for the veterinary services.

The problem with having a clever child is they have an answer for everything. She badgered me for three hours. She negotiated, cried, made promises that she was clearly not capable of keeping and batted her eyelashes furiously until I finally told her to go ask her dad what he thought. I immediately hid in the closet and read a book. She may be clever, but she is also afraid to go upstairs by herself. I had approximately fifteen minutes of silence. When we reconvened she told me that my husband had told her she should ask her grandparents to get a kitten at their house since she spends so much time there. The problem with this is she could actually wear them down or talk them into it and eventually the kitten would end up in my house. This was not a good plan.

I reminded my daughter that we had a cat when she was little. Said cat had actually been a resident in our house for years before my daughter was born, and I was pretty confident that she would be evicted the second we brought our newest member of the family home. Mommy’s Little Monster – Monster for short was an adorable little ball of neurotic fury. The cat was very clearly insane and very attached to me. Go figure. We were pretty sure she would completely lose her shit when we brought our daughter home, but somehow she didn’t. She actually mellowed for awhile until our baby became a toddler and was able to give chase. She finally turned on her after one too many close calls with sticky fingers and a tail and we had to find Monster a new home.

Monster getting her head stuck in a glass – a weekly occurrence

I thought some stories about all of the mischievous things Monster did would persuade my daughter that a kitten was not a good idea. That cat was truly a pain in the butt. I shared how she used to break half of the ornaments on the Christmas tree every year, and how she knocked over my water glass in the middle of the night while trying to take a drink. I shared how she attacked the paper in the printer and sent faxes by lying on the speed dial buttons at 3 am, and how she tried to escape the house every time we opened the door. I told her about the time Monster got trapped in a plastic grocery bag and ran herself stupid around the house until she got stuck behind our bed. When we finally got her out, we found that she had literally scared the shit out of herself and had been bouncing around in a bag full of her own poop for ten minutes. We had to take her into the basement and give her a bath in the washtub after cutting the bag off her body. Everyone involved came out of that experience with new scratches and teeth marks. Instead of being horrified by this, my seven year old found it all hilarious. I had forgotten that one of her favorite activities is terrorizing me, so all of this was incredibly appealing, not appalling.

Unfortunately, I think this is a conversation that will continue all summer. I can’t act surprised, I have seen it coming since she told me about her friends and their new pets throughout the year. She is at the age that pets are entering the picture for a lot of her peers and she is hearing about the fun they are having. I guess it could be worse. Her friend’s mom is pregnant. She could be asking for a baby sibling!




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