Friday, December 21, 2012

No Elf on My Shelf

Our elf left a little note this morning.  He was obviously experiencing some guilt for his complete incompetence.

I now contribute to the parenting blog on (! Please visit weekly as I post twice a week.  The above link takes you to the post that explains the elf situation in our house.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy New Year on December 18

I am way too excited about my new desk calendar.  I dragged Monkey Man to the Holy Land in the cold rain tonight because I just couldn't wait another day to give this $5 gift to myself.  When I arrived home, I tore off the plastic, armed with a freshly sharpened pencil and promptly wrote in some January "things to do."

God, that was soooo good.  I hope it wants to cuddle now.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pillsbury Cookie Perfection

I spent 5 hours on Saturday baking Christmas cookies with my mom, sister and husband while Monkey Man played Minecraft and called out the occasional, "I'm hungry!" or "I'm thirsty!" or "I just farted!" We baked chocolate chip cookies, butter cookies, snickerdoodles, m&m cookies and ricotta cheese cookies (they sound weird and gross but they are dee-lish-us!).

Hubby and I were in charge of the M&M cookies and they came out flat and hard.  Totally edible with a big glass of milk, but not worthy or giving to a neighbor or teacher. Their presentation screamed more cardboard with red and green circles rather than chewy, delicious confections with m&m surprises.   My sister's specialty is the ricotta cheese cookie and after rolling about 120 balls and baking three cookies sheets of said balls, she realized she forgot to put the ricotta cheese in the ricotta cheese cookies.  Oops.

Next year, I'm sticking with the much-loved Pillsbury sugar cookie.  No mess, all ingredients included even if there is a preservative here or there, 8-10 minutes and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Welcome to the Scholastic Crap Fair

‘Tis the season for America’s children to come to school with envelopes, baggies and fistfuls of dollars just waiting to get into the doors of their schools’ Scholastic Book Fair, or as I like to call it, “Book Fair with a table of crap that all the kids want.”

I LOVE the book fair.  I would easily let Monkey Man buy whatever he wants, provided it has a front cover, back cover and pages in between with words on them.  You know, books. But these kids walk into a wonderland of books and target the crap table.  Erasers and pencils.  Okay, fine, we all need erasers and pencils, but the pencils are always the kind that write too light or when sharpened, the funky plastic design peels off.  Then there are pens that light up or have other distracting fluffy, feathery things on them.  And we all know that it’s always the children that need the least number of distractions that make a beeline for those.  A big hit at the Book Fair is pointers with fingers on the ends in which to poke the sh*& out of their little brother or mother or to inevitably turn into a weapon of some sort.  Then there are the book marks.  Don’t even get me started on book marks.  Why would one pay for a strip of paper when there are perfectly good scraps of paper lying around our homes just begging to be repurposed as a book mark?

I volunteered to help today at the Book Fair.  As a parent, I love the book fair and giving Monkey Man the opportunity to shop for BOOKS.  As a teacher, I know the Book Fair sucks.  One teacher taking a class of young children to a store, armed with blank checks or not enough money to buy even the crappiest of crap on that table?  Children standing tugging on teacher’s arm asking if they have enough money while little Jimmy spins in circles and Annie calls from across the room that she really has to go to the bathroom.  Teachers need back up at the Book Fair.

I was there to help the Kindergarten class and then Monkey Man’s 2nd grade class.  Kindergarten really needs budgeting advice, standing there all wide-eyed with paper and coins having no idea how to use these objects in exchange for other objects, so I was happy to help.  One boy said to me, “I have 5 bucks. Can I get this book?”  I looked at the price and told him in a super-excited mommy voice, “Yes, it’s 5 dollars, so you have the exact amount!”  He said, “Nooo, I have 5 BUCKS.”  See why teachers need backup?

Then Monkey Man’s class came in.  He smiled at me and I waved him over.  I told him he could pick a few books and show me.  He asked me how much he could spend (we have taught him about budgeting and he is very budget conscious.  He's either going to be well-prepared for adulthood or crazy cheap).  I told him he could shop then show me what he wanted and we would decide.  While he shopped, I sweetly helped the other children with the, “Hi, do you need some help?” and a, “Let’s see, sweetie, if you have enough money,” and a “Good choice!  You are all set!”  While I was in the middle of my helping-other-children-kindness, Monkey Man came over to me with a chocolate bar eraser. 

“Mom, can I get this?” I turned from Nicest Mom and Book Fair Helper to Now It’s Time to Deal with My OWN Child: “NO!” and then proceeded to re-channel my sweet mommy-helper voice to continue helping little Joey

Thanks for shopping kids, and have a super fantastic day!  Except, you, Monkey Man.  We already went over the rules this morning about buying crap at the book fair.  But I guess I’ve taught you to ask questions, can’t hurt to try, what’s the worst someone will say, no?  So yeah, good job, but you’re still not getting an eraser.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Memo from Mom

To: First Lady Michelle Obama
Re: United Cafeterias of America and their Right to Bear Snacks

Dearest Mrs. Obama, 

I have a Quick Quiz: Which one of these foods does not belong?
A. Hot dog   B. Mozzarella sticks  C. Sauteed Swiss chard   D. Nachos

If you picked “C”, ding ding ding!  We got a winna’!  A quick glance at my son’s school lunch menu for the month reads “Hot dog on a wheat bun with peaches” and “Mozzarella sticks with baby carrots” and “Macaroni and cheese with sautéed Swiss chard.”  There are several things wrong with these selections:
  1. A wheat bun makes not the hot dog healthy.
  2. Adding a fruit and vegetable to each entrée is a nice try, but it cannot offset the fact that they are serving snacks from every circus and baseball game and calling it lunch.
  3. SWISS FREAKIN’ CHARD?? I don’t even know if I would eat that!  The mac n’ cheese? Well, of course!  But Swiss Chard? By the way, what IS Swiss Chard? 
Ah, but you remedied the situation, as that was September’s menu.  Now enter October 2012 and it’s a whole new ballgame in America’s cafeterias.  There was an “AHA!” moment and cafeteria food-service companies across the nation are now not allowed to serve four mozzarella sticks to our ever-expanding waistlined children.  We’re down to two fried cheese sticks because of the carbs.  Oh, the upheaval at our school!  Outcries from parents, “Only TWO mozzarella sticks?  How could you do this to our babies?”   

Even Pizza Fridays – as in EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME – is pizza two Fridays in October.  And Tony’s Cheese Pizza is now called Tony’s Cheese WHEAT Crust Pizza.  I guess Tony got in on the act, too, and realized, “Crap.  I’m never gonna sell this nasty frozen pizza unless I throw a little wheat flour in the crust.”  Mrs. Obama, I really do like you.  But taking away Pizza Fridays?  You are killing our kids’ childhoods.  How will they reminisce about all those Fridays spent eating cardboard pizza in the cafeteria?  It’s just not fair.

Apparently, the schools are offsetting this mall-food deficiency by offering “unlimited” fruits and vegetables making it sound like upon entering the school cafeteria you will feel as though you’ve stepped into a European open-air market with apples, peaches, bananas, grapes, and broccoli falling at your feet!   However, word on the street is nary an apple is present.  But the ice cream freezer is plugged in and raring to go!  And the cookies and chips are lined up on the counter beckoning the children with their sugary and salty delightfulness.  I’m not quite sure where you were for this part of the meeting when snacks were discussed.  Perhaps you stepped out for a moment to take a First Lady tinkle and Mr. Corporate Lobbyist Frito-Lay and his sidekick Nabisco stepped in? Because I don't know how you wiped out the high-fat, cholesterol-filled, battered and fried mozzarella stick but the sugar-filled cookies and chips fried in saturated fats loaded with calories remain on our cafeteria counters. 

I will continue to send my son in with his lunch on most days of the week preferring not to pay money for garbage disguised as nutritious food.  He’ll complain to me about how I don’t love him because I send in a half of a whole wheat bagel or whole grain pasta accompanied by fruit, baby carrots or graham crackers.  But as mean as I am, I will help Tony turn a profit every now and then because I simply cannot let my child not know what it’s like to grow up eating crappy cafeteria pizza.  It’s a rite of passage even if it only happens once or twice a month nowadays.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Stuffed with Incentive

This is bribery at its finest.  You see, I live with Alex P. Keaton.  However, money-hungry Monkey Man is a much cooler dressed version of Michael J. Fox’s character in “Family Ties.” My Alex wears Converse sneakers and would look at me like I lost my done-mind if I attempted to put a tie around his neck.

Monkey Man will do just about anything for money.  He has written books and sold them to his grandparents for $9 a pop.  He sweeps the floors for 4 minutes and expects $2.   He will happily sell every toy he owns to make a few bucks.  He asked us to sell his superhero and Star Wars action figures online and we give him the earnings.  I love it because it clears out the toys that he doesn’t use.  He loves it because he can roll around in his singles and cackle with joy.  Thank God this child is not aware of “Gentlemen’s Clubs” yet.  He would be armed and ready.

However, stuffed animals do not sell online or anywhere.  Nobody wants someone else’s dusty stuffed animals that were sneezed on, slobbered on and very possibly puked on.  But our problem, like many child-filled households, is that Monkey Man has the equivalent of the San Diego Zoo in his toy chest.  He loves all of them, but some of them are buried and forgotten, just collecting dust that makes me have to buy more Allegra.  Here is where my brilliant idea occurs:

Pay Monkey Man for his stuffed animals so that I can donate them! Yes!  I’m a genius! Our school has a clothing drive coming up and they accept stuffed animals.  I can get these cute and fuzzy guys outta here for a small fee.  For every animal I pay for, Monkey Man donates one out of the kindness of his heart.  It’s called incentive, people!  He understands what it means to donate and help people, but I get many more from him when I give him a financial incentive. 

Choose your price: I paid him $1 a piece, but some kids might accept a quarter or $.50.  Trust me, if I could’ve gotten away with a quarter, I would have.  Monkey Man turned on his heels when I suggested it and said, “No deal.  I want $2,” then he said something into his blue tooth and rolled his eyes.  I brought it up to $.50 and as Pawn Stars has taught him, he held at $1.  I fully expect him to become a hostage negotiator or a lawyer.

With a little creativity and good old-fashioned bribery, those kids will clear out their toys chests in no time. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Thought for the Day

Just in case you are wondering, it IS okay to use your treadmill (or other piece of exercise equipment) as a drying rack when you do actually use said piece of exercise equipment.  So go ahead, dry away!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Polly Want a Cracker...Or a Parrot

Ironically, this conversation had both Monkey Man and me talking like 2 brightly colored, tropical birds.

Monkey Man: I'm saving money for a parrot.

Me: We are not getting a parrot.

Monkey Man: But I'm saving money for a parrot.

Me: We are not getting a parrot. Walt (our dog) would eat a parrot and I will not have any other animals except a dog in my house. (side note: birds and fish freak me out for some strange reason.  And I see no point in reptiles or amphibians as "pets" nor do I see a hamster, guinea pig or other rodent as a pet).

Monkey Man: But I'm SAVING money for a parrot!

Me: That's fine.  But we are never getting a parrot.

Monkey Man: But I AM SAVING MONEY for a parrot!

Me: (Exhausted) It's good to have goals.

Monkey Man's perseverance will serve him very well one day.  One day when he is not in this house anymore driving me crazy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Great (Disney) Depression

Walt Disney World is like no other place in the world.  A beautiful castle, fairies, pirates and princesses are awaiting your arrival.  They snicker and cackle as they invite you to buy their cheap, plastic toys for $18 when you know damn well you can buy that sword at the dollar store for a buck.  But still, it’s magical.  Or at least that’s what the “pixie dust” they put in their Magic Kingdom Main Street Bakery brownies makes you believe.

We visited Walt Disney World two weeks ago and followed it up with a voyage on the Disney Fantasy Cruise to St. Maarten and St. Thomas.  This was our 6th Disney Cruise (Monkey Man’s 3rd) and my 26th time visiting Walt Disney World.  Monkey Man has been to Walt Disney World 6 times, so yes, we have definitely drank the Kool-Aid and hit the big ol’ bong of Disney pixie dust.

Each time we visit, I cannot help but to get goosebumps.  Sometimes the goosebumps are from heatstroke because we go in July or August, but usually they are from the sheer wonder and excitement of this magical place.  Since Monkey Man has been with us, it is even better.  He absolutely loves to see the characters, take pictures with them and give them hugs.  I know Disney sucks my hard-earned money from me, but it is so worth being piss poor upon our return home to see that kid’s face light up when Goofy dances with him.

And I fall for their sappy crap every time, too.  When I hear “When you wish upon a star…” pumping through the speakers in Fantasyland, I actually believe it.  For a fleeting moment, I think, “Yes! If I wish upon a star that Rick Springfield will ride Space Mountain with me, it really WILL come true!”  And when I also take my picture with Mickey, I am completely unaware that there is a 5’2” 20 year-old college girl in that suit.  Hell no!  It IS Mickey Mouse!

It simply is the happiest place on earth.  Children sleep-deprived and kept running for 16 hours a day on Mickey Ice Cream Bars and Goofy’s Sour Power Candy.  Exhausted little ones curled into their parents on the Disney bus ride back to the resort trying to seek warmth on a bus that has its air conditioner set to 55 degrees while dreaming of Tinkerbell and Donald Duck.  There is nothing like stroking Monkey Man’s hair as he sits on my lap all drooly and sleeping and adorable knowing that he had the greatest day ever and tomorrow will be just as good or even better.

And the cruise? The cruise is like Disney World on crack, and that’s meant in the nicest, best crack comparison possible.  In addition to bumping into Disney characters everywhere you turn, you get tropical islands, too!  Had enough of Goofy’s shenanigans? Have a rum punch on St. Thomas that is 99.99% rum and will have you thinking that YOU are, in fact, Goofy.  Seriously, people, nobody knows how to make a mixed drink like those that live in the islands. 

And the Disney Cruise has FREE CHILD CARE!!!  Well, free as in you paid $5,000 for a cruise 3 months ago and this was included.  The Oceaneer’s Club & Lab are open from 9 a.m. until midnight.  Hundreds of children all in a Disney craze wrangled by insane counselors who choose to be at sea with these kids for months on end.  What could be better for Mom and Dad?  Monkey Man had a great time attending special activities and my husband and I even sent him on his way when we wanted to see a Big People’s show or string more than 3 words together to each other.

My bed was made 2 times a day on the cruise.  Chocolates awaited my arrival on my pillow each evening and cookies and milk were delivered to my stateroom within minutes of a phone call.  Upon entering the dining room one night, we were greeted by all of the servers with applause, and Monkey Man beamed while marching on beat to their clapping.  When the atrium lobby band played, I didn’t think twice to sing out loud and dance while I passed them en route to the restroom from dinner.  I enjoyed wine with dinner almost every night and totally rocked an 80s Name That Tune Game.  The cruise was fun and carefree, two things adults need a lot more of in our lives.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end, back to reality, etc.  And the kids know this.  On the last night of our Disney Fantasy cruise, the last evening of our 13-night Disney land and sea adventure, Monkey Man cried.  He figured out how Disney builds you up during your stay, makes you feel like a prince or a princess, gives you this highly unrealistic thought that, just maybe, this IS reality.  Then BAM!  Time to go home! 

No more waking up and spending 12 hours in an amusement park with your entire extended family.  No more leisurely afternoons spent swimming, playing pool games, and eating ice cream 3 times a day.  Back to waking up and forcing fruits and vegetables down Monkey Man's throat to make up for 13 days of vitamin deficiency.  Back to cooking lackluster meals instead of having a 4 course-dinner every evening in a pretty dress with a show and walk around the cruise ship to follow.  Yeah, Monkey Man.  I totally get it.  He cried those tears while I choked them back.  I was sad for him because this is a kids’ dream and if I could have stayed with him on that cruise ship forever, I would have gladly done so in a heartbeat.  I was sad for me because I really, really hate to cook and the thought of grocery shopping was making my heart break.  Clearly, no one is greeting me at my front door asking me to be their guest.

So thank you Disney for not only giving us wonderful family memories, but for providing the Great Disney Depression that never fails to follow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Let's Not Spoil the Fun

We are leaving for our much anticipated two-week pilgrimage to the Holy Land today.  This Holy Land has Mickey Mouse as its Supreme Ruler and sucks the money right from your wallet the moment you set foot on its soil.  Yes, we are leaving for Disney World and the Disney Cruise.

My parents left two days ago as they decided to drive while we chose to fly.  When I say I chose to fly, that means I chose to not be in the car for 20 hours hearing the ever-melodic, “Are we there yet?” and instead will be double-fisting Xanax like a PMSing woman eating M&Ms while pretending for Monkey Man’s sake that being on an airplane is as natural as walking.  Inside my head I will be an absolute lunatic until that plane lands.

We spoke to my parents last night when they arrived at their overnight stop in Georgia.  Monkey Man asked to speak to my mom and when he got on the phone with her, this was the conversation from our end:

Monkey Man, whispering: “Aga, can you hear me?  I need to whisper this,” he said while walking to the other side of the dining room that both his father and I were sitting in.  He then faced the wall and crouched down.

“Aga,” he said still whispering, the way a 7 year-old whispers.  Which is to say, he was talking.  “You can’t hear me? Okay, I’ll talk louder,” he said as he raised his voice to above a regular speaking volume.

“Listen, I need you buy me as many things as you can buy me.”

You have to hand it to the kid.  He didn’t mess around, and went to the source.  If my mom loses her shirt because of this child, I will be sure to buy her a new one that says, “I went to Disney World and all I got was my grandson ripping me off.”  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Little Squirt

Monkey Man had diarrhea for the first time in his life since he could actually remember.  I think he had it when he was a baby, but honestly, other than his life-threatening nut and shellfish allergies, this kid stays pretty healthy.  Must be his mother’s OCD and the fact that we essentially live in a Lysol can that is disguised as a house.

He had a really bad stomachache the other night that came on suddenly.  He cried and I stayed with him in the bathroom.  I just had this stomach thing the night before and it was still fresh in my mind how badly my stomach hurt, so I was feeling extra empathetic for the poor kid.  After the first round of butt-yuck, he felt better and was a little amazed at what had just spewed out of him.

The second round he had his dad in there with him.  The following was retold by my husband, since I did not have the awesome privilege of being in the bathroom to witness…

The 3 Stages of Diarrhea as told by a 7 year-old:

  1. “Daddy! It’s like my butt is peeing out poop!”
  2. “Oooh, my butt is on fire!”
  3.  “Ouch.  It hurts to wipe.”
 Leave it to a 7 year-old boy to not only give a play-by-play of bodily functions, but to cut right to the chase and tell it exactly like it is.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

The End of the (F'in) Innocence

During our car ride to yet another baseball game (Monkey Man has been to 3 minor league games and one Yankees game in 16 days) Monkey Man asked me this from the confines of his soon-to-be outgrown booster seat:

“Mommy, is fuck a bad word?”

The angels of Route 80 must been all around me because surprisingly, I did careen off the side of the road.  Normally, the "F" word doesn’t really cause a reaction.  Yes, it’s annoying to hear teenagers saying it trying to be cool, and sure, I might know someone who blurts it out when she drops something or bangs her toe into the corner of my, um, er, HER wall, but when it comes out of MY 7 YEAR-OLD child’s mouth, it’s a bit alarming.

So I launched my attack.  “YES! IT’S THE WORST BAD WORD THERE IS!” I did not divulge that the even worse bad word is the gross, ugly C U Next Tuesday word.  For now, he just needs to know the basic facts on bad words, not disgusting terms for lady parts.

Then I calmed down and asked him where he heard it, silently praying that it wasn’t when I dropped that huge pasta bowl a few weeks ago and it shattered into so many pieces that I am still stepping on shards of glass weeks later.  And maybe continuing to slip out an “Ooooohhhhh Fuuuudddge” ( a la “A Christmas Story) each time.

Monkey Man responded, “Maybe camp?”  “Or maybe (INSERT FRIEND’S NAME HERE) told me it was a bad word?”  He clearly was either very confused and startled by my reaction or was not ratting out his friend. 

He also asked me what the word means.  I simply told him it’s just a mean and yucky word that people use when they aren’t educated enough to use real words.  Yep, mommy is an uneducated fool who throws around mean and yucky words.  Only occasionally, though, like when that wall gets in the way of my friggin’ foot or some a-hole driver cuts me off.  That’s it.  Really.

It made me sad, though, to have to explain this word to him.  As much as his own mother has let one slip, he has never said a bad word.  He has walked past teenagers in the mall saying them, even had some older kids at baseball camp saying a certain choice word that is a synonym for the more juvenile word poop (I was there to witness it), but he has never repeated a word or asked about the words until now.  I almost want him to start running around the house saying, “Poopy Head” just to bring us back to a more simpler time.  He is 7, going into 2nd grade and I feel my baby slipping away.  And I’m not f’in happy about it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

School’s Out but Learning is Still In

I have been writing articles for parenting and family magazines throughout the U.S.  This article appeared in Northeast Pennsylvania Family in their June 2012 issue.  Here's the link:

School’s out for the summer and the cheers of children can be heard far and wide. Summer is a time to relax and enjoy the endless days of sunshine and play. It is also a time to reinforce all the skills learned during the previous school year.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, all young people experience losses in learning when they do not participate in stimulating educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.

Maybe parents are somewhat resistant to the idea of summer learning, too, for different reasons. Some parents do not quite know how to reinforce the skills, while others simply do not understand the benefit. “Let kids be kids and enjoy their summer vacation,” some parents might say remembering their own youthful summers full of play. However, according to a study by Dr. Harris Cooper, professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, when students return to school after a long summer vacation, they've lost one to three months worth of learning.

“Academic regression is real,” says Dr. Richard Tomko, Superintendent of Schools in a K-12 public school district in NJ and partner of Tomko, Tomko and Associates, an educational consulting firm. “Parents who do not foster plans to extend their children's learning into the summer are usually parents of children who struggle at the beginning of the school year.”

Summer is a time for fun and relaxation, and keeping learning in summer can be just that, too. “It is important for every parent to realize that it is the summer, and summer must be fun!” Tomko says. “Children have worked hard all year and now they feel the payoff is the fun-filled days of summer vacation. The learning component must be incorporated in summer fun activities and cannot be hours in length. Quick learning interventions will help reiterate topics and stall regression.”

Start thinking creatively and allow your child to learn naturally in real-life settings. When you think about the various topics your child learns about in school, you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy and fun it can be to incorporate “lessons” into everyday summer life.

Ready, Set, Read!
Get the whole family involved and start a Family Book Club. Depending on the age of the children, assign 10, 20, or 30 minutes per day (or most days of the week) to read together as a family. “Parents must emulate the learning activities with their children,” Tomko says. “Independent reading is the best source for children to maintain a level of literacy. Parents should make sure that they are also familiar with their child’s book so they can discuss themes, characters, likes and dislikes about the book with their child.”

Elementary school teacher Juliann Meletta agrees that reading is the best way to reinforce skills during the summer. “My number one priority for students in the summer is to read, read, read. There is no other product or procedure that packs more for its punch than getting kids to read independently.” As for her own two children, Meletta says, “I do everything I can to get books in the hands of my kids. We visit the local library and devour as many books as we can before taking a pile home.” In addition, many libraries offer summer reading programs with various incentives for completed reading.

The Write Stuff
There are many creative ways to keep children writing throughout the summer without asking them to write a book report or an essay about the Civil War. Kids can write emails to grandparents about their summer plans and activities. Parents can work with their children on a summer scrapbook and have the child write the captions for the pictures. Even something as simple as having a child write the grocery list will help engage children, especially younger ones, in forming letters and sounding out words.

Math Matters
Flash cards might be fun, but don’t forget about everyday activities to engage children in math. Preparing a recipe helps children use measurement. “Asking a child to make his favorite recipe will strengthen his ability to process, create, and complete an important project,” Tomko adds. Encourage your child to do a few chores if he hasn’t started already and to save money for something special. This will help teach math skills as well as necessary life skills in budgeting and financial responsibility.  

Technology Tie-In
Kids love all things techy – computers, iPods, and smart phones are all great ways to keep children interested in learning throughout the summer. There are many websites like and as well as apps available to facilitate learning in all academic areas and for various ages. Kids can practice the alphabet and sounds, review multiplication facts through games, and watch videos about their favorite jungle animals. Simply search academic games according to age or grade level on the internet and get started.

Magical Materials
The most basic skills can be reviewed in creative ways when different kinds of materials are used like sidewalk chalk, fingerpaints and window markers. On a sunny day, sit on the driveway with sidewalk chalk and write a story. “My 4 year-old draws a different picture on each sidewalk block, and then I tell the story based on what I see,” Meletta says. “The best part is that he often disagrees with my story, and he'll say, ‘Mommy, that's not what I mean!’ and then he's using his own vocabulary to narrate his story. For my 7 year-old son, I do the same, but sometimes I change it up with a spelling test, math problems or true and false quizzes. They love these!”

When summer days are gray, camp out by a window and use window markers to write rainy day stories, solve word problems, or play a game of Hangman using rainy day words like “thunder,” “lightening,” and “raincoat.” Even a simple review of addition facts becomes much more fun when kids are writing on the windows!

We all know that a plain cardboard box can lead to hours of creativity. Add construction paper, markers and paints and children have all the necessities to create sets for plays and puppet shows. “Creating summer plays helps younger children enhance diction and interact with dialogue,” Tomko says. “This type of activity can incorporate friends, costumes (as an art component), music, and other learning tools to help maintain and even advance literary skills. One can even use historical characters and stories with this as well.”

The newspaper is a powerful resource for cross-curricular, everyday learning. Where else can you find reading, math, science, history, geography and the arts all in one place?
Children can report on the weather in their town as well as in a city in another state or country, depending on the newspaper. Sports fanatics can look up their favorite baseball team’s most recent batting statistics and keep a record for the summer. The newspaper includes tables and graphs as well as information about cultures not only in their region but around the world.  

With some creativity and a little planning, summer can be fun and relaxing while keeping children’s minds active and enjoying lessons learned in everyday summer settings. With mom or dad as the teacher, summer days can go from hazy and lazy to getting kids yearning for learning!

Real Housewives + Paying Job = Blog Neglect

Please do not call the Division of Mom Blogs on me for wrongful neglect of my cyber-baby.  I am so saddened to see that it really has been three months since I cared for my blog, nurtured it with words of sarcasm, pessimism and snarkiness.  During this unintended hiatus, I would hear my blog crying out to me at night, but I was just too exhausted after a day at my paying job to give it any attention.  That and a few Real Housewives had their season premieres.  So on the delicate scale of cyber-baby vs. Real Housewives of New Jersey, Theresa and mind-numbing dumbness won.

Ah, but my paying job is no more until September as I hold the much coveted title of School Teacher.  People wish they were us in the summer when we can be seen tending to our own children in parks, at pools or at the beach.  While the rest of the working world sits in their offices and cubicles they forget that during the other 10 months out of the year teachers are standing to lecture, pacing to observe, sitting to read, listening to understand, and disciplining to correct in an XXXL cubicle with 20+ children all needing, wanting and deserving our attention in some way.  There is no online shopping during work hours, checking Facebook, or taking an hour lunch plus a few breaks at the water cooler to talk about last night's Real Housewives of Orange County episode. These two months help teachers recharge a much-drained battery that gets sucked dry.  

What recharges my batteries during the summer?  My true passion -writing.  I love teaching, love being in the classroom full of energy and learning and fun, but nothing is better for me than sitting in a quiet room and writing.  So readers, please stick with me this summer and I will try to get some posts published to make up for time lost.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Break: Mom Vs. Co-ed

Back in the day, which is to say back in my day circa 1994, spring break conjured up thoughts of college-age kids gone wild.  The formula for a successful and memorable (memorable sometimes only by photographic evidence) spring break was: book a flight to an island that served alcohol to anyone + rum punch + clubs + bikinis + 12 girls staying in one hotel room = the vacation of one’s dreams.  One being someone with very low standards.  Fortunately for many of us, YouTube did not exist in 1994.  I’m not saying it was fortunate for me because I would have nevvver participated in such debauchery, mom.

When I was 20 I had the great pleasure of broadening my knowledge of the world and what lies beyond our great United States and I visited the Bahamas. I am not saying that the above was anything like my experience but what I will say is I most definitely did NOT bungee jump over the pool at that club.  I might have been crazy but I wasn’t stupid.

Let’s fast forward 18 years.  It’s my spring break once again and it got me thinking about the contrasts and comparisons between a spring break of carefree college students versus one of a mom.   The similarities are startling, actually.  And although there are differences, they are quite subtle.

Moms and college girls both participate in activities involving wet t-shirts.
I guess wet t-shirt contests were (still are? I have no idea) all the rage during spring break, according to MTV’s wildly popular spring break series.  Again, this is based on scientific research with the help of MTV, not personal experience.  However, in the first few days of my spring break this year, I came across some wet t-shirts.  Yes, they were all my husband’s white t-shirts in the laundry, but still.  I almost threw one on to wash the car in the driveway just to remember that feeling, um, I mean, see what it was like, but I decided to continue to be a respectable adult in my neighborhood.

Moms and college students both get excited when someone yells, “Shots!”.
Yell “Shots!” near college students and they will flock to you like baby birds waiting for their next meal.  However in the house of a mom, when “Shots!” is yelled during spring break, it’s most likely because she scheduled every doctor’s appointment known to man during this one week when the kids have off from school.  For a mom to have one week when the kids are off from school (and being a school teacher, I’m off, too) is awesome.  Every appointment and errand can and WILL be accomplished in a Monday through Friday timeframe.  So although it’s no shot of tequila, a shot to prevent little Joey from getting the TB? Now that’s a good time.

Moms and college students can laze about in the mornings.
During spring break, moms who are home with their kids for the week have a less harried schedule.  We don’t have to yell, “Go brush your teeth, we are late!”  We can move a little slower, enjoy a cup of tea, and get in a snuggle with our little ones before our day blasts off.

College students during spring break laze around, also.  Most likely in a hungover state of, “I’m not so much lazing, as I am unable to move my body off the couch, floor, or table that I passed out on last night.”  And snuggling? Yes, that happens, too.  With a certain lady or gentleman friend who might have accompanied said college student home last night.  One big difference with the snuggle?  Unless my little one also has a stomach bug, I probably won’t get puked on as a mom.  I cannot guarantee that with the college spring break snuggler.

Moms and spring breakers don’t sleep alone.
Spring breakers are either sharing their beds with friends because 21 college students are stuffed into a room meant for four due to budget issues. Or else they are “smushing” (please refer to a Jersey Shore lingo manual for definition if you are not already cool enough to know what this means).  We moms share our beds, too!  What’s hotter than a snoring husband who occasionally “lets one fly” mid-slumber?  How about a first-grader stumbling in the room at 3 a.m. because he had a dream that a giant spider under his bed ate his dog and now he’s too scared to sleep in his room? 

So, you see, we really aren’t that different.  At this point in your life, would you want to continue life as a “Spring Break Mom” or go back one more time and experience spring break in its purest, most primal sense?
Disclaimer: This is not to say that all college students engage in binge drinking and sexual activities.  This is just what I’ve been told can happen and through extensive research through MTV.  Maybe you spent your college spring breaks helping your grandma buy groceries and studying, and if so, good for you.  But some of us, ahem, some other people, have other recollections of their spring breaks. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Downsizing and Outsourcing: A Child's Birthday Party

When did children’s birthday parties become so overblown that they deserve their own reality show?  Whatever happened to the ol’ fashioned stay-at-home birthday party?  Before we go back to throwing parties 1980s style, though, a few things need to happen. 
  1. We need to be able to invite just the friends our kid wants at the party
  2. Children need to be entertained by chairs and music instead of lasers, enormous inflatable structures, and dressing up like miniature street walkers
  3. An expectation for birthday party food should be cake.  Not chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, cake, ice cream with an accompanying sundae bar and a separate buffet for the parents with alcohol.  Although booze would make some of these soirees more bearable. 
Let’s begin with #1.  We have raised our children to include everyone, to be everybody’s friend.  This is not the real world.  Buck up kid, and learn early that you will not like everyone, and not everyone will like you.  When you are sitting at work one day and 3 of your co-workers go out to lunch and don’t ask you, it’s going to be a hard lesson to learn.  You will not be able to march into your boss’ office and demand that lunch invitations be placed in everyone’s mailbox.  Therefore, this difficult lesson must begin with birthday parties.  When we have to invite everyone in the class, that’s a lot of kids, a few of whom my child has no desire to spend his special day with.  And his mother has no desire to spend 15 bucks on to watch said child spin in circles and hit my kid on the head every 10 minutes. 

#2: When I was in first grade, I had a Strawberry Shortcake-themed birthday party.  In my living room at home.  Everything was Strawberry Shortcake – my dress which I was so excited to wear to my birthday party, my cake which my mom made for me, the tablecloth, plates, and napkins.  A family friend who was an artist made me a big poster of Strawberry Shortcake without the strawberry on her hat and we played “Pin the Strawberry on Strawberry Shortcake’s Hat.”  We played musical chairs and drop the clothespin in the empty soda bottle.  We ate our cake, drank juice and VOILA!  It was a super-fun birthday celebrated without my parents having to forfeit buying groceries for the week to pay for my 7th Birthday Extravaganza.  I wasn’t at all upset that Pat Benatar didn’t show up because I had no expectation or experience with such outlandish and lavish birthday party scenarios.

Fast forward 30 years, and we are living in an age in which elementary school-aged children celebrate their births for no less than $500.  We parents have given in to peer pressure and feel the need to have our kids’ parties at The Bounce House-Gymnastics-Dress Your Daughter Like a Whore-Karate-Pottery-Kindgom otherwise we will suffer the criticism of the girls on the playground.  The 30-something year old girls known as other moms. 

And #3: Although I appreciate that some hosts want to feed my child and all the party-going adults to the point of vomiting, it really is not necessary.  I can handle two hours without a sub sandwich or slice of pizza.  A simple water bottle is sufficient.  I don’t want it on my conscience that the birthday girl just lost part of her college fund because her parents wanted to keep up with the Jones’ and offer complimentary ice sculpture tequila shots at their kid’s “Lil’ Diva” party.

And this is the part where I let you know that I am a hypocrite. This is the first year in which I have sort of fallen prey to all of this birthday party hoopla.  Prior to this year, I organized Monkey Man’s parties.  Each year was a different theme with the games (researched and executed by yours truly), cupcakes, and goody bags all coordinated.  I had the parties in a church hall because my father-in-law is a pastor and we could get a bigger space than my living room which was and is not spacious enough for 20 preschoolers.  And last year we had it at the movies, and I provided all their snacks by sneaking them into the theater.  There are several reasons I snuck the snacks in: 1) C’mon, everyone brings their own food to the movies 2) No one needs to eat 1,000 calorie popcorn 3) I live and die by a budget.  Call me cheap if you must.  My husband does.

Getting back to this year.  I am working full time and don’t have the time or energy to party plan.  I love planning parties, but I also love to sleep, so I decided to hand this one over to someone who does this as her job and I’d just catch some zzz’s instead of googling party games.  However, in my defense, I did not spend anywhere close to $500.  I found a local YMCA that has sports parties and Monkey Man loves all kinds of sports.  Add to that the price, which was pretty close to what I would have spent organizing it on my own, and I was sold. We invited only the boys in his class, so although I farmed this party out, I did not do it to keep up with the Jones’.  The kids played basketball, dodgeball (the parents even played a round against the kids!), and flag football for an hour, ate some chips and a cupcake with juice, then played in the Wii/X Box arcade for 45 minutes.  Monkey Man played with his friends and said several times during the party, “This is the best party ever!”  It was a simple party that I could’ve done at my house, but because of time of year, and the need to keep my sanity, I outsourced it.  Simple, fun, and yes, Monkey Man, the best party ever. 

Happy 7th Birthday, Buddy.  I love you to the moon and back, bunches and bunches. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Status Quo?

Disclaimer: If you read this, don’t worry.  I am not talking about you.

Before you type in your next Facebook status, just know that we are on to you.  Because what you think you are presenting to us and what we hear are two very different things.    

Following are various status updates, their translations, and insightful observations about the status.  It’s a simple reference in case you are tempted to use any of these or their variations. 

First, a helpful key to guide you:  
Status - What the person projects to the world, wants others to think and believe, whether true or not
Translation - What the readers hear
Keen observation - The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Status: “Played Monopoly with the kids, baked cookies and now it’s Family Movie Night!  Nothing like cuddling with my kids on a Saturday night.”
Translation: I want everyone to know what an awesome mom I am.  Or that I was awesome for three hours today when I stopped playing Farmville and paid attention to my kids.
Keen Observation: Wow, girlfriend.  I remember when there was nothing like cuddling with that guy you hooked up with in Hoboken on a Saturday night. 

Status: “Hubby just gave me a Louis Vuitton bag!  And peep-toe Louboutins! I am the luckiest girl in the world.”
Translation: Look everyone!  My husband buys me things. Expensive things.  I’m pretty sure he’s cheating on me, but at least I have a new Louie bag and Louboutins.
Keen Observation:  You’re husband is totally cheating on you.  With his boyfriend.  What straight guy knows to buy his woman the two Lous?

Status: “I love living in Hawaii. There is nothing like starting the day with a jog on the beach while watching the dolphins in the water.  Life is Good!”
Translation: Sucka! 
Keen Observation: Alright, Miss Rosie Rub It In.  Good for you.  Hope a shark doesn’t eat you while you are paddleboarding. 

Status: “After months of careful consideration, I have decided that I am getting my tubes tied.  My family of 4 is now complete.” 
Translation: I have a weird need to tell everyone my really, really personal business.
Keen Observation: Your family of 4 is not giving you enough attention.  Maybe you should reconsider and go for baby #3. At least when the little one is suckling your boob, you'll get some attention.

Status: “Just booked our summer house.  Now off to pick up our new Benz at the dealership.”
Translation: We are in massive credit card debt, but at least my friends think I’m rich.
Keen Observation: You are a pretentious jerk.  But let me know when your house goes into foreclosure, I might know a buyer.

Status: “Dinner with my besties!  My besties are the best besties ever!”
Translation: Hey, everyone, I have friends!  And I talk like I am 6 years-old! And I end every sentence with an exclamation mark!
Keen Observation: I have never seen more women with so many best friends since the dawning of Facebook.

Status: “Just put the kids on the bus.  Drinking my cup of joe in a quiet house getting ready to go to the gym. Then it’s off to lunch with a friend and maybe a nap afterwards.”
Translation: Jealous?  I don’t have a job.  My kids are all in school.  My husband is at work.  And I am so bored.
Keen observation:  WTF?  Yeah, I am a little jealous of all that free time.  But, c’mon!  Get a job, go volunteer, get a hobby.  And by hobby, I don’t mean sleeping with your personal trainer every Wednesday and Friday.

Status: “Work all day then grocery shopping.  Oh, then I have to pick up a prescription for this hacking cough I’ve had for 3 weeks.  Making fire-grilled shrimp with honeydew gazpacho for dinner tonight.  Then I’m relaxing and watching The Office and Parks & Rec.  I will be in bed by 10.  Yawn.”
Translation: My life is average, but by throwing in that tasty dinner, I want you to think that at least I am an amazing cook. 
Keen observation: You got that right with the yawn part.  And there cannot be such a thing as honeydew gazpacho.  Oh, and WHO CARES?

Status: “I was going to wait for the kids to go to bed, but I’m thinking it’s Wine o’ clock NOW!”
Translation: I cannot function without alcohol.
Keen observation: Get help.  You cannot function without alcohol.

Status: “Is it summer vacation ALREADY?  Two months home with these kids might drive me crazy.”
Translation: Well, there go my days of pedicures, lunch with my besties, and hitting the gym in the middle of the day.  Guess I’ll have to drag these kids grocery shopping now.
Keen observation: See #7 – Haha!  They’re baaaack! Now that the little cherubs are home messing up your mojo we are sure we will see you at the local park or town pool, heavily engaged in titillating conversation with other moms about other moms.  And I’m going to guess your kid is the one that just kicked the other one down the slide.  But you wouldn’t know as you are that mom feverishly texting on that bench over there.    

Status: “Joey puked all over his bed last night.  Hubby’s staying home with him, but I have to work.  I’m exhausted and have to teach a roomful of 8 year-olds. Being a mom is hard!”
Translation: Being a mom is hard.
Keen observation: Keeping it real, sista. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Memo From Mom

To: My Readers
 Re: Let’s Do This Thing!

This memo is in reference to you being so awesome for joining me here! I have a big favor to ask, one that will make you even more awesome. I just started a new blog called Memos from Mom at  Please join me over there, too!

I secretly wish I could be the boss of everyone (C’mon, I am a mom. All moms want to tell everyone what to do and how to do it) and tell them exactly what they need to do in order to make my life easier. Memos from Mom is a blog done in the style of business memos. Well, maybe not quite the exact style, as I’m sure professional business memos do not reference child vomit, Entenmann’s Pop ‘ems binges, dog diarrhea, and a mom’s crush on Rick Springfield. However, like business memos, I will address various situations and problems and even throw out a thank you here and there.

Moms want to rule the world, but want to feel like they are not alone in their quest for power in a role that sometimes feels powerless. Memos from Mom will be full of memos to my son, my husband, the moms on the playground, corporations, the government, rock stars, you name it. My hope is that just when you think you will self-implode from the stress of mommyhood, you can read a memo, laugh, and know that you are not alone.

No worries, though. You Are Kidding Me! isn't going anywhere.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Mom and Dad are Livin’ La Vida Loca

My mom and dad got sucked into American Idol last year when Scotty McCreery was on and won. My dad would call me every week to tell me about him, getting more and more excited as Scotty made his way through the cuts. My dad is a huge country music fan, like country crooner music fan. You’re not going to see him tapping his foot to Sugarland. You’re going to hear him, in the next town, yodeling to Hank Williams.

Apparently Idol started up again last night. I wouldn’t know, I’ve long since stopped watching it. My mother and father are keeping me in touch with this world. I think I stopped wasting my time when that guy with the gray hair won. You know the one. The American Idol that was so memorable that no one knows his name.

But Poppy and Aga discovered a love for all things pop music last year, and last night was the season premiere with judges Randy, Steven Tyler, and Jennifer Lopez. And this is the phone call I got when the show ended:

Phone rings, I answer:
My dad: “Hey, who is Jennifer Lopez’s husband?”

Me: “Oh, Marc something, Marc…”

My dad: “Anthony. Marc Anthony. That’s it.”

Me: “Yeah, but they’re getting a div…” and I hear my mom in the background telling my dad, “I told you it wasn’t Ricky Martin.”

My dad: “I thought it was that La Vida Loca guy,” then I hear my mom yell, “No, he’s gay.”

My dad: “Even if he’s gay, she could be his cover up.”

Me: “Dad, he’s out. He has twins and has a partner.”
My head is spinning. Am I really having this conversation with my father??

My dad: “Mommy wants to know who she was married to before that, some rapper?”

Me: “She dated P. Diddy…”

My dad, laughing: “What? P WHO? Who is that?”

Me: “Some rapper but he goes by Sean Puffy Combs, Puff Daddy…”

My dad: “What the hell is a Puff Daddy? Wasn’t she married a few times?”

Me: “I think she was married to one of her dancers a long time ago. She was engaged to Ben Affleck.”

Again, really? What happened to our conversations about whether I have enough washer fluid in my car, or am I going to our credit union’s luncheon on a Saturday afternoon when I have absolutely nothing else to do just for the chance to win a television?

My dad: “Ben Affleck. He’s an actor right? I’ve seen him before. Hey, do you have enough dog food? Make sure you have milk. I’ll pick some up for you if you want.”

Whew, he's back. But it got me thinking about the perfect birthday gift for him. His birthday is next month and I think he might love a subscription to US Weekly.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The following was overheard on an unusually warm, 60-degree day in New Jersey in January at my local Subway sandwich shop:

“Hey dad,” the young boy said, looking about 6 or 7 years-old. He motioned to his father to look at the teeny-bopper blonde girl with too short-shorts for this boring mom’s taste. “That girl’s booty is shakin’ like bacon!”

Go ahead, gasp in horror. I did. Who raises their child to speak this way about girls? Apparently, I raised my child to speak this way. Yes, that boy was Monkey Man, the dad was Hubby, and I just stood there, shocked. Okay, not really shocked. This isn’t the first time Monkey Man has shown us very clear signs of his fondness of females and the trouble we will be in when there are pubescent hormones raging through his body.

If there isn’t a male chastity belt, you can sure as hell bet I will be inventing one.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ice, Ice Baby

Monkey Man broke his collar bone, or as they say in the medical field, his left clavicle. Or as a New Jersey mom says (that’s me), “&%#$, he broke a friggin’ bone.” It happened last Sunday. I think most moms, of boys especially, expect this several times in the lives of their sons. But I am the absolute worst person to have around in an emergency. So it only makes sense that when he broke his collar bone, he was with me and not Hubby.

We went ice skating. We went round and round the rink lots of times and Monkey Man took several spills as everyone does. He fell on his butt, he fell on his hands, he fell with his legs sprawled out like Bambi sliding across the frozen pond. But the last spill, which looked like an “easy” fall, landed him on his shoulder, which I’ve since learned is one of the two common ways in which the collar bone breaks. Being a parent has proven to be very educational. I would have gone to medical school if I really desired to be so knowledgeable in the field of bones and blood.

As soon as he fell, he cried. Hard. Monkey Man doesn’t cry unless something is very wrong. So there I was, the parent who sucks in an emergency in a situation where something was very wrong. But I am proud to say I was a big girl. I kept myself together. And clearly this was all about me and how I could actually be a mother in this situation and not scream for my own mother. What kept me calm, though, was that even though he was crying and clearly in pain, I felt like he was okay because I saw him fall and it wasn’t hard. And that’s why I do not have a medical degree. Doesn’t matter how hard the fall is, it’s how they fall. And he did it perfectly.

Fast forward. The Sunday afternoon ER visit showed us a break to his left clavicle. As soon as Monkey Man heard that it was officially broken, he declared, “I have a broken bone just like Danny!” Danny is his 16 year-old cousin who broke his arm very badly (like steel rods, surgery badly) a few years ago. And when Monkey Man was given his sling, well, you would think the child just got a trophy for “Most Badass Fall on the Ice” because he was beaming.

The rest of the night, he just kept saying, “Well, I guess it’s confirmed. Yep, it’s broke.” He would go check himself out in the mirror. When he went to school, he wanted his jacket zipped only so far so that you could see the sling. Thanks to Hubby’s suggestions, he wondered if the girls in school would be all, “Aww, how are you? Do you need help?” He got to have ice cream for dinner that night and some sucker bought him a new Wii game just 2 weeks after Christmas (sucker=me). This kid is going to milk this long after the pain subsides.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Do...I Don't

Some Things I Know How to Do

Eat almost an entire box of Entenmann’s Holiday Pop ‘ems. In less than 24 hours. But you are already privy to this information if you read this blog.

Roll my eyes just enough to give myself the satisfaction that I’ve rolled my eyes, but not enough so that the receiver of the eye rolling has a clue. Except Hubby. He is totally on to my eye rolling.

Boil water for pasta. Take that, Rachel Ray!

Change the belt on my vacuum without looking at the instruction manual. Says a lot for my vacuum. Yep, it sucks. Pun intended.

Organize. “Donate, throw away, keep,” is my mantra.

Never have to mow the lawn. It’s the one chore I DON’T do. “Hubby, I have really bad grass allergies. AACHOO!” I actually really do have bad grass allergies. Seriously.

Use our snowblower. I had to do it once, 2 years-ago, when Hubby went on a business trip during a blizzard. I am certain he made these travel arrangements with Mother Nature just to see if I had it in me. He and my dad gave me a tutorial a few days before when we knew the storm was coming. And I rocked that snowblower all up and down our street. Only because I was afraid to shut the thing off for fear of having to start it again.

Watch “Real Housewives of (insert any city)” and not feel like I just wasted an hour of my life. It is time for my brain to rest (read: melt).

Sleep. I am sooo good at going 10, 11, 12 hours when given the opportunity. I’m like a long-distance sleeper or something.

Do 7 things at once. I might forget during the process the first 5 things I started, but at least I started them.

And Some Things I Don’t Know How To Do

On the sleeping note, I don’t know how to function on less than 8 hours of sleep. I wake up a cranky, headachy, miserable person. I actually need 8 ½ hours to work at peak performance. Peak performance being not snapping at the grocery girl for putting the groceries in the bags in all the wrong order. Seriously, if I line them up a certain way, that is the way they go in the bags. (Oops, looks like someone didn’t get enough sleep last night!)

Blanche vegetables. I know Blanche is from Golden Girls, but I have no idea how that translates to cooking. I also don’t know how to cut a tomato or onion the right away. So let’s just say I don’t know how to cook. Period.

Change a tire. My dad has taught me dozens of times, but I have no attention span for things of the automotive nature. Mom, I know you are reading this. Please don’t tell Dad.

Use coupons. I occasionally use a coupon, and get very excited when I save 2 bucks, but I will never come home saying I bought $352 worth of groceries and spent only $17. And usually, those two coupons that I do actually have for my shopping trip stay safely on the kitchen counter and forget to make their way into my pocket.

Look at a super wiggly tooth without gagging. Monkey Man is in his prime tooth-wiggling years and laughs hysterically when I’m about to lose my lunch over his loose-tooth antics.

Balance a checkbook. Again, Mom, look away. But by some miracle, I have managed to keep this family afloat for the past 12 ½ years.

Bring Monkey Man for ice cream and not get it myself. I am shocked when I see parents bring their children out for ice cream and they sit there all ice cream-less. That’s just craziness.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ur-ine for a Surprise!

I am vigilant about closing the toilet lid at home after doing my thing and before flushing. I saw a captivating, gag-reflex inducing 60-second clip on some news show a few years ago about the “spray” that occurs during the flush. The spray that includes droplets of your Number 1 or NUMBER 2. Oh, dear God.

But I took control of the matter and began insisting that toilet lids be put down when flushing. I explained to Hubby that the super-spray will travel right over to our toothbrushes standing clean and pretty in their toothbrush holders and attach itself thereby allowing us to brush our teeth with our own pee. Need I say more?

For a while, I put the toothbrush holder in the closet because I was just so repulsed by all of this. But what about the towels? The faucet? The doorknobs? Do I turn the entire room into a bowl with 4 walls and that’s it? So toilet seat down is the rule in this house.

And then a few days ago, I was watching the Today Show, my only source of any kind of news. That, and The Daily Show. Actually, it was Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda, the so-called “4th Hour,” so I don’t even know if that counts as news. I was informed that a new study found that using the paper towels in many public restrooms may leave you with unwanted bacteria on your hands. WHAT? The paper towels that I use to dry my CLEAN hands?

And then I had not an “AHA!” moment, but a “DUH!” moment. It’s the spray, people. The SPRAY! There are no lids in most public restrooms. If I’d been grossed out by my own family’s bodily fluids spewing back at me, why hadn’t I even thought of the strangers’? Oh, wait, I know why. Because I would’ve set myself into the very panic that I’ve been experiencing since seeing that mind-shattering news clip on Wednesday. Do you want to know how long the spray lasts? I bet you do! The bacteria can float around in the air for 10-20 minutes. So when you walk into that bathroom, you are basically getting pee’d on. Or worse.

Now that I’ve vowed to never use a public restroom again, I realize this may not be very practical. Especially since I have had the pleasure of carrying a child who sat on my bladder for 41 weeks then made members of the urinary tract decide they ruled the roost. My urinary tract cackles and conspires, “We know she just relieved herself before leaving for Target, but we’ll have some work to do about 10 minutes in!” So all my intentions of never stepping foot into a Ladies’ Room again will either end with me peeing myself in Housewares or braving the restroom.

In anticipation of the germ-infested, other people’s poop-ridden lavatory, I will pack myself an Emergency Excretion Kit. EEK for short. Because that’s what I’ll shout when I have to walk in there. It’s either this or a full-on hazmat suit. And what’s weirder? Walking around with a hazmat suit or your own adult potty bag? Well, you decide.

The EEK will include:
1.A face mask just like the people of Asia wore during that whole bird flu breakout. This will prevent all the floaters from getting in your nose and mouth.

2.Latex gloves. You know it’s serious when latex gloves are involved. Or kinky. This, though, is totally NOT kinky.

3.A roll of Saran Wrap is not only useful for practical jokes in the potty. After elimination and before flushing, cover the seat to prevent your spray from literally smacking you in the face. Because you are right there, hovering over the toilet as you flush, with your FOOT. Unless you are superhuman and can bolt out of the stall before the toilet actually flushes.

4.Paper towels. I thought just bringing my own papers towels would be sufficient, but don’t forget about the spray. It’s not only on the paper towels; it’s on the walls, the faucets, and lingering in the air ready to get on you.

5.Your own soap. Do not touch the soap dispenser. Your mantra should be “The Spray.” It’s everywhere. Of course, if you are wearing your latex gloves as suggested, you can’t really wash your hands. That’s a glitch we may have to work on in the EEK!

6.Rubbing alcohol and cotton balls. Skip the hand sanitizer and go straight to the good stuff. As you exit the Bowels of Hell, you must wipe down every square millimeter of exposed skin with the magical sanitizing powers of alcohol.
*It is assumed that no one is actually sitting on the toilet. If you need to actually place your cheeks on the Throne of Bacteria, use those paper towels to cover the seat, about 5 layers thick.

Of course, you could skip the EEK and just wear Depends.