The A Team

My daughter’s last day of kindergarten was last week. After she picked up her prize for “her excellent French skills and for always being an active participant during class”, I picked up her report card. I was happy to see that she had mastered all of the skills expected by the end of kindergarten and had already begun working on her first grade skills. She was actually pretty far ahead in reading, which we were already aware of. She reads “chapter books” to us nightly. One of her teachers had also mentioned to me what a good reader she is. I had inwardly patted myself on the back for reading to her in utero – I take my wins wherever I can!
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Happy Holidays, You Bastard

I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but my family does everything a little over the top. We are an all or nothing kind of family which means I don’t sleep from Halloween until about January 3. My husband literally packs up the hand painted trunk or treat decorations and starts planning the theme for our annual Christmas card while I walk around the house with a glitter filled fire hose decorating and baking enough cookies to feed half of South America. Some years the theme for our card comes quickly, some years we have to brainstorm for a month, but we always have at least one theme that would offend half of our friends and family and my husband tells me no repeatedly while I beg him to hide a little easter egg of something offensive in the background. He and I have a different idea of “holiday cheer” sometimes.

Some past themes have included snowball fights, plans to kidnap Santa and baby Riley dismantling a tree. I think my daughter’s favorite was the year we strung her life sized bear up in the woods so she could have a winter wonderland themed party in the snow wearing a ball gown. She especially liked that I had to carry her into the woods to save her shoes and keep her bundled in a fur blanket until our perfectionist photographer was ready. I literally fell in the snow and used my body as a mattress to save her highness from wrinkling her dress. She really became the part that year, making demands like a seasoned super model. I was lucky to have walked away without having a cell phone thrown at my head.

Christmas Card 2018 Elf of the shelf takeoverMy favorite card to date has been the Elf on a Shelf takeover, mostly because it took a full day to shoot all of the photos used, and I got to play little elf to the photographer. We used 2 toy elves to create 100 of the little monsters destroying our family room, climbing shelves and ziplining from the fireplace mantle. There was even an elf wielding a cocktail sword holding the child hostage. Plus, she had to stay still tied up in lights for a large part of the shoot. I spent the day climbing ladders, hanging elves from fishing line and keeping out of the shot. The best part about this card is that we don’t even have an elf in our house. We don’t do that cliché bullshit (although I may get myself a Snoop on a Stoop next year). 

Based on the feedback we have received so far, our card this year has topped all others. Maybe it’s the magic of it, or the fact that we actually have the whole family in the photo for the first time ever, but the consensus has been that this is the fan favorite. I am the first to admit that I participated in approximately 3 minutes of the making of this card when I sat in front of the green screen that resided in our living room for a month. I didn’t even lend a hand when my husband was photographing himself flying through the air. Believe it or not, he took that photo entirely on his own. I was probably in the kitchen elbow deep in powdered sugar at the time. But sometimes that is how it works, and the final product is even better than expected. I wish I could say the same about my cookies this year. They are still a work in progress…

Terrorize

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I mean, what’s not to like about free candy and having an actual reason for peeing your pants in public. I have always decorated indoors, but since we are rarely home on Halloween night, we have not done much decorating outdoors in the past. I changed all that this year and decided to buy as much spooky décor for the outdoors as I could get my grubby little mitts on. For the last month I have been slowly turning our yard into a mess of zombies, witches and bones of all kinds. It’s hard to walk to our front door without being harassed by an animated doll or wolf.

Before going all out on the decorations, I talked to a few of the neighbors who have young kids. The people across the street assured me that they loved scary decorations and their kids weren’t afraid of any of it. Since their 5 year old told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny within an hour of meeting me last year, I figured they would be cool with a few screaming witches and howling wolves. As I watched them hang up their decorations in their own yard I quickly realized that “scary” is a pretty subjective term. It was clear that their idea of terrifying was a fuzzy spider, not a glowing eyeless doll head. The little boy has cried at least three times after our life sized witch asked him for a kiss and offered him candy. I guess at least I can say I asked them before I put it out. The mom informed me that the kids keep looking out their window at night at all of our floating heads and glowing eyes, afraid they are coming to get them. I told her just to tell them they aren’t real. I left out the part about how she already ruined Easter and Christmas for them with that line, she may as well turn another holiday into a giant dumpster fire.

The rest of the neighborhood seems to be enjoying the decorations. Almost daily I hear the grim reaper and witch screaming out to kids on the front porch and I have come out a few times to find a child crammed up under the witches dress trying to figure out what makes her tick. I even caught the UPS guy laughing at some of the one liners coming from the grim reaper. I suppose you see and hear everything when dropping off running shoes and tampons on suburban porches. I am guessing by the time Halloween actually rolls around, most of our visitors will have already heard plenty from all the animated ghouls posted in our yard.

My most recent purchase was a couple of howling wolf skeletons and barking dogs. As soon as I came home from the store I set the bones up in my flower beds and listened to them howl as the kids ran in front of them. I next heard the same howling and barking at 6 am the next day when it started raining. The screaming beasts actually managed to wake the dead, since that’s about as heavy as I sleep. I had to run out in the rain in a tank top and pajama pants to pry open their mouths and find the switches to shut them up. By the time I was done, I had a giant mound of plastic and cobwebs screaming and barking at my on the porch. If the glowing red eyes from the zombies didn’t traumatize the kids across the street, the sight of me beating up a bunch of bones at the crack of dawn surely did.

During the past month as I have been purchasing an entire gang of life sized decorations and their once furry friends, I failed to think about the future (as I often do). My basement is already packed to the gills with other holiday decorations and I have at least 5 orange and black storage bins of indoor décor to contend with. I’m fairly certain that at the end of the year we are either going to have to buy a bigger house or rent a storage unit. We already have one skeleton that stays out year round. I put festive hats on her for different seasons so I don’t appear completely insane. One house skeleton makes you quirky, a yard full of skeletons and witches year round makes you bat shit crazy. So at some point before the lights go from orange to green and red, I am going to have to find a home for all these beasts. I don’t know how the rest of my family feels about taking a shower with a talking witch, but the idea is growing on me. Either that we are going to have a receiving line in the foyer to ensure we never have house guests. That kind of seems like a win to me!

And in true Logan fashion, I just learned that we are not in fact going to be home on Halloween night. I guess I will totally deserve it when the first kid on the porch dumps the entire bowl of candy into his bag and eggs our front door. Hopefully the screaming grim reaper at least makes him wet his pants on the way out.

 

**Halloween is the best time of year to listen to the Misfits. Just sayin!

 

Queercore

While my daughter was doing volunteer work at school last week, the organization they were working at passed out a survey to get some background information about their volunteers. While in theory, this is a good practice, the volunteers on this day were fifth and sixth grade girls who didn’t even understand many of the questions, especially about sexual identity and orientation.

I received an e-mail later in the day from the head of school explaining what happened and offering an apology. The surveys were collected by the school since the girls did not have parental permission to be giving their phone numbers and addresses to strangers at a homeless shelter. I’m sure the surveys were pretty useless anyway since most of the girls had no idea what the options meant. I just felt bad for the teachers who had to field questions about the meaning of terms like pansexual and transsexual.

After reading the e-mail I asked my kid about the survey since she had not even mentioned it. She said her concern was that she couldn’t remember her phone number. Luckily an older girl next to her instructed her not to write her address or phone number on the form. I asked if any of the questions were confusing and she assured me she understood them. When I prodded for more information she told me that she answered “female” for her gender and “straight and homophobic” for her sexual orientation. This second answer gave me a little pause. I will concede that a lot of straight folks like myself are pretty vanilla, but we are not all bigots. Either she misread that question or the survey takers think all straight people are homophobes. I was leaning toward her not remembering the answers so I asked if she knew what “homophobic” meant. She informed me she did not and when I said it means you are afraid of and dislike gay people, she was horrified. I told her the term that meant the same thing as straight was heterosexual and she started laughing and said “yeah that was it!” I could not even contain myself to continue the conversation by that point. I guess we are getting to that sex education part of parenting a little sooner than I expected!

**Of course I am listening to the Queers while writing. How could I not?!

Running From the Cops

The other day we were talking about teaching my 10 year old to drive the wave runner by herself. She is tall and she always wants to drive, but having her sit in front of someone is difficult since you can’t see around her Amazonian body and Mowgli hair. In the middle of this conversation between me and my dad, my mom stopped us and said “you know it’s illegal for her to drive those alone right?” to which we both stared at her like she was speaking Greek. I quickly said “Only if she gets caught!” And this is where it is clear I am my father’s daughter, and my child is following right down those rebellious misguided footsteps. We all looked at my mom like she was crazy to say out loud that breaking the law was probably not a good idea.

My Dad gave me my first motorcycle ride before I was a year old. Apparently I caught a cold shortly thereafter and my grandma quickly put the blame on the bike so I wasn’t allowed back on until I was 3. I also got my first helmet that year. It was orange and loud and too big. I loved it, and I loved the motorcycle. So much in fact, that by the time I was seven I was demanding to ride alone. My dad made me show him that I could hold it upright unassisted and operate it alone before I was able to take my virgin solo ride. By the time I was ten I was a little terror in the trails down the street and ripping up the baseball field at the elementary school. I was also very clear on the rules which were “if you see a cop, turn off the bike and say you are out of gas and waiting for your dad to come back.” I was then to walk it home with the cops following me. I partook in this parade quite a few times before the police finally told my mom if it happened again they would see that I did not receive a license to drive at 16. I guess I shouldn’t have been all that concerned since I actually drove myself to driver’s education classes in my own car at the age of fifteen, but at the time it scared my mom enough to make my dad sell the bike. Although that was just the beginning of my tendency to push the limits, the lesson I learned was you don’t get in trouble unless you get caught.

This lesson has trickled down to my daughter. Fortunately, she isn’t doing anything she feels the need to hide from me yet, and with my experience in jackassery, she will probably have a hard time doing so. Right now she is still wondering if she is allowed to do things on her own and when she is given a yes by mom or grandpa she follows up with dad or grandma to get the real story. I just keep telling her not to worry. She won’t get caught and if she does, mom will be in trouble which is a pretty familiar place for mom to be. Apparently my kid is totally okay with me paying the price for her misdeeds as well since as soon as I explained I would be in trouble for making her drive, she grabbed the keys and tried to take off on me. Luckily, the wave runner takes a few seconds to start or we may not have seen her again until she ran out of gas. Although, she drives like a grandma, so I probably could have caught up to her with a quick doggy paddle.

I have had a lot of great experiences in my life, party because I was not afraid of much. I have had some bad experiences for the same reason, but that is a whole different story. Little things like laws and rules have rarely deterred me from trying something new and have often times made me learn a new skill, like jumping off a roof with a skateboard or moving through spaces that are too narrow for a cop car to follow. I am hoping that my kid can learn some of these life lessons from my stories rather than having to touch the ot burner herself, but only time will tell. For now, I am grateful that she will take a chance now and then but drive slow enough for her mom to still catch her.

Redemption Song

jokerMy daughter is making her first reconciliation this week. For you non-guilt-ridden-catholics, this is the act of confession. We have been discussing this sacrament since she made her first communion a few years ago. Every time she is a little asshole to me or her father I tell her she may want to add that to the list. Until recently she claimed she had nothing to confess. She sounds like her grandfather who claims to go to confession just to chat with the priest since he has no sins to repent for. I know both of them too well to believe either of them and I think they may want to add lying to their lists as well. But apparently sending her to a catholic school has instilled some of that good old fashioned shame into her and she is now ready to make her first confession.

Unfortunately, she is scheduled to partake in this event while I am otherwise occupied. I honestly didn’t make other plans to avoid repenting for my various sins, I just have a prior engagement. When we discussed this time conflict it was determined by my family that everyone is better off with me skipping out. My husband commented that the priest wouldn’t have time to hear anyone else’s confessions after listening to me for hours on end. My daughter’s only response was “yeah, it would be like you talking to your therapist!” which she apparently believes I do for hours on end while she is at school. I would try to disagree with them, but I can’t in good conscience say I don’t have a laundry list of misdeeds to atone for. This week alone I can name a dozen things I said or did. Fortunately, I can also name a dozen good deeds I have done as my little act of atonement. 

I didn’t want to point out to my family that I have improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years. If they had any idea how many times I actually hold back from expressing myself when some idiot says something idiotic, they would actually be impressed. Luckily for them, I keep most of my comments to myself, even when they are the idiots saying something idiotic. Who says people can’t change?!

*I wrote this blog while listening to my favorite.

Get Up Kids

We have been playing a lot of games as a family lately, and after the first few games, I really don’t know why we weren’t doing this more because it is hilarious. The best kind of game seems to be any kind where my child has to give an answer. It doesn’t even really matter what the question is because her answer is going to have us all rolling.

Last month we played a game my parents bought from some redneck comedian where you get a bunch of answer cards with phrases like “that’s what she said” and “you’re not supposed to do that to a melon.” A card with a scenario is drawn and everyone has to pick a phrase from their cards that they think fits best. No matter how hard I tried, my answers were totally inappropriate for a child to hear. Somehow I brought the game to a whole new level of dirty and we quit playing. On the plus side, my kid had no idea what I was crying about when I played the card that read “is it supposed to be that small?” repeatedly.

Last time we sat down with a deck of question and answer cards, they were a little more benign. My mom had chosen a game where kids answer questions that adults would know and adults answer questions kids would know. Strangely, my dad appeared to know the most kid trivia and none of us could answer a single thing about Sean Mendez or Ariana Grande.

Here are some of my daughter’s best answers:

Q: What was Flipper?
A: A clown

Q: Sikhs wear what on their heads?
A: Those things with feathers…. The tall things. Oh I don’t know…. to which I replied “do you mean a headdress? That’s the wrong kind of Indian.”

Q: Fill in the blank – Smokey the…
A: Pig! (In her defense, my answer was Bandit)

Q: What did Michele Obama plant in the White House garden?
A: John Kennedy (If this were true, Milania Trump would have dug him up….)

Q: What president was also a famous actor?
A: Kennedy (I guess she has a thing for Kennedy. Who knew?)

We learned a lot last game night. Mostly that we know nothing about the things most kids do (which explains a lot about our family) and that I can make any game dirty. If you don’t believe me, just challenge me to a game of Scrabble. 

*I wrote this while listening to the new Unsane.

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