Friday, May 31, 2013

This is why men can't be in charge.........

Today Jeff and I are heading off to an overnight getaway to a cute little Bavarian town a couple hours from here. When he first mentioned it, I thought it sounded like a nice little road trip, just the two of us, in a quaint little town that I happen to enjoy a lot.

But of course there was a catch. The REASON for this trip (because, you know, there has to be a REASON.....who goes on spontaneous getaways just for the sake of romance? Psh!) is that Jeff has a Trout Unlimited meeting. Yeah, trout. Fish. A fish club of sorts. Or a political organization. Or something. Anyway, he's the secretary and that alone cracks me up. So, basically, I'm tagging along for company in the car and because there's a free hotel room in it for us. (Wink, wink!) this particular moment, the morning of the trip, we are not sure which hotel we're staying in. Because Jeff made the reservation. And he can't remember. Because he pays no attention to details. Thankfully, there are only a handful of hotels in this small town, but this means we will have to do some detective work to track it down. He "thinks" the number he called is on a sticky note attached to his credit card. Of course. Excellent filing system.

So, I asked him, "Is this hotel a dive or what?" and he replied "Well, yeah, I mean, they usually pick kind of divey hotels - like it's not the Hyatt!" Um.......

So I'm not too particular, but I do enjoy a clean hotel room. One without bedbugs. That doesn't charge by the hour. With no hair wads in the shower, or used condoms behind the bed (true story). One with no stale Cheerios on the ground that my toddler eats immediately upon arrival ('nother true story). Ok, I'm a little bit picky.

But seriously? He cannot remember which hotel we're staying in? Or if it's skeevy? And he's perfectly fine to just drive up there and wander around until we find it. I need to KNOW. I need a PLAN.

While packing, he was careful to pack a shirt from a race that Trout Unlimited sponsored. He said it would make "that guy" happy to see he was wearing it. "That guy" from the race, who we talked to for a long time, who he's seen multiple times at meetings......."that guy" with a name he can't remember. Whaatt? Details.

We are having guests next week - a bunch of my family members who are traveling nine hours to attend my daughter's graduation. This means nine extra people in the house, which means some shuffling and planning for who is going to sleep where, etc. In the big scheme of plans, this involves purchasing a queen-size bed for our ever-growing son who has outgrown his twin size captain's bed. My husband has conveniently planned a "guys only" camping trip during the last two crucial days before "Zero Day" when the family arrives, extending one day into their visit.Which means he will likely not be around for bed procurement, moving furniture, cleaning the house.....the details. I know, grounds for divorce, right?

But he promises me he'll do all the things necessary before he leaves. Like the heavy lifting, heavy cleaning, and "whatever else" needs to be done. What he doesn't realize are all the small details that go into planning for such an event - the graduation party, the actual graduation, the fact that we're having a house full of guests  for the first time in.....ever. He says, "Just tell me what needs to be done!" And to his credit, he will do it. But it is I who attends to the details.

If I had made the hotel reservations for this weekend, I would have shopped around. I would have compared prices, paid attention to the little extras, printed a know, the details!

So, we're off to the mystery hotel. It's only one night and I spent one memorable night at a $59-a-night TravelLodge in La Grande, OR in a snowstorm with my entire family of six crammed into a room that barely held two double beds and may or may not have had a used feminine product on the floor when we arrived. We laughed, we cried, we hit the road so fast in the morning we didn't even partake of the stale danish and nasty coffee in the lobby. I can handle it. I can.

But just in case, I'm packing the Lysol.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blog in a blog.........

My cousin, Alex, passed this link on to me today:

I can SO relate to this mom. Although she has younger kids, I've been there and now, even with teenagers, I always feel the slow crawl to summer starting around April. I think the biggest part of this is that starting around April, all of the "end of the year" stuff starts happening. As in, teachers try to cram in the stuff they haven't covered (I know we're doing it in MY classroom!), there are year-end banquets for sports, recitals for dance, last games and the time June rolls around, we've been known to be busy almost every night of the week.

This year it's not too bad. No one is playing sports, or taking dance. We have a couple concerts coming up, but mostly the kids are just in actual physical pain from having to go to school for ten more days. They contort and twist their faces in despair each day and put desperate pleas on Facebook for summer to PLEASE GET HERE ALREADY!

Of course, after the first day, they'll be bored. It's the same story every year. Unless I'm jumping through hoops and acting like a circus ringmaster to entertain them, they can't seem to find anything to do. I love to read their yearbooks: "Let's hang this summer!" "We're gonna tear it up this summer!" "We HAVE to hang out this summer!" But they won't. They will sleep until noon, drape their bodies over the couch and floor and watch TV for hours while simultaneously playing monotonous games on their iPads and texting on their phones. Most days will pass without them even knowing if the sun was shining because they will stay inside all day.

I bust my ass to plan outings. I put every outdoor concert I can find on my calendar, only to attend maybe one (if I'm lucky) because no one wants to drag themselves out of the house at 6 p.m. because they haven't showered yet. I always wait too long to plan camping trips so that by the time summer rolls around, I'm scrambling for a good spot so we can go "camping" (otherwise known as two full days of work for 1.5 days of sleeping in the camper in a marginal spot at a state park).

But I am counting down the days as well. My kindergarten class is not immune to senioritis, it seems, and they are getting a little squirrely. Ok, a lot. Most days I feel like having extra recess - for the whole day! Yesterday the math lesson was so boring and not one child was listening. I watched the teacher keep trying to slog through it and finally said to her under my breath, "This is so boring, we really need to move on to something else!" Improvise, teachers! You're losing the kids anyway, at least try to keep them engaged. One little boy asked me today how many more days until he was in first grade. I wasn't sure if that was because he couldn't wait to be a first-grader or he couldn't wait to get the heck out of dodge.

I will NOT miss making lunches every day. Oh. My. God. I hate making lunches. For one thing, how can you be creative with lunch 180 days a year? I get so bored with what to pack for the kids and the whole process just gives me a rash. Next year they are making their own lunches. I'm done. I feel a tiny bit bad because the younger kids always have to grow up faster than the older ones, but I don't feel bad enough to change my mind on this. In fact, I don't really enjoy feeding people at all. Unless it's at a restaurant. Cooking has lost all its charm for me and just throwing together a dinner every night at this point is like fingernails on a chalkboard - so irritating! Why can't we just have cereal and call it good?

The best part is that I also get the summer off. Working at a school has its advantages. But that also means I have to spend my days with four teenagers, two of whom will be out of high school, and only one of whom drives. That means I can't just send them all off on an adventure because they are scattered in a million different directions which means at least half of them are home at any given time. I really miss being alone in my house. A LOT.

I have big plans, too. Just like every summer: I'm going to get caught up on scrapbooks and photo albums, I'm going to write a best-seller, I'm going to exercise every day and get in the best shape of my life. I might sign up for a class! Go on a lot of hikes! Get a fabulous tan! Psh. Before I know it, summer will be gone and none of those things will have come to fruition because I've spent my summer ferrying kids around, pushing them out the door to get some fresh air and planning big adventures that turn out to be duds because everyone is fighting.

But, good news! I know from past experience that there will be lazy days that end in a delicious BBQ on the deck, lots of nights around the fire pit consuming too many s'mores, watermelon galore, iced tea and lemonade and some crazy road trips. Mostly the mind-numbing slogging through each day will be over and we'll wake up every morning for ten weeks with the promise of a whole day ahead to do whatever we want.

Like the mom in the blog, I haven't checked backpacks, homework or anything pretty much all year. I trust that my kids will do what needs to be done so they don't flunk out of school. My daughter is graduating by the skin of her teeth, which makes me both happy and sad. I'll have successfully (?) raised half of my children to adulthood. One year I found a half-eaten sandwich covered in mold and a bag of carrot sticks swimming in goo in my kids' backpack in August. I hadn't bothered to go through it at the end of the year. I probably won't bother to go through them this year either. They rarely bring home "keepers" these days - artwork, cute projects and things worth saving. I do love their writing, but they rarely show it to me anymore. I'll tuck their awards and certificates away in their keepsakes.

But boy, do I have some chores for them! C'mon, summer!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why you should never drink and drive..or eat and drive..or do anything and drive!

I like to think I'm the queen of multitasking. Well, maybe not the queen, but one of her ladies-in-waiting. Ok, her cleaning lady.


I eat in the car. A lot. Like every day on my way to work, and on my way home, or to run errands or whatever because I am never at home to sit and eat a meal until dinner time. So, I pack both my breakfast and lunch and just eat throughout the day. And it's a hazard.

I always, always, always, drop crumbs down my shirt between my boobs. I mean, I should wear a turtleneck. I don't even care anymore who sees me plunge my hand down my shirt to retrieve the crumbs. Because those suckers are annoying.

I also have a bad habit of dripping things on my shirt. At home, nary a meal goes by that I don't drop a blob of something on my "shelf" and my kids delight in making fun of me. My husband has even been known to tuck a napkin into my shirt when we eat out. Smart ass. I avoid this during my "commuter meals" by not packing messy stuff. Do you know how hard it is to eat yogurt in the car? Oatmeal? I've done it. It wasn't pretty.

Today while driving I attempted to drink my water while driving. I don't know why I have not remedied this situation yet, but I have a stainless-steel water bottle that I pack with me every day with a wide-open mouth, not a nice convenient straw. Needless to say, this makes it difficult to drink while driving. For one thing, you tip that sucker back and go over a bump and suddenly you're drowning while driving. Or, like today, you pour a little too fast and your mouth fills up to capacity in 1.2 seconds and you dribble all that water right down your chest in in between your boobs (you know, where the crumbs are!). And, really, there is no solution to that. Or any way to explain the wet shirt. I'm demanding one of those $900 titanium straws that Beyonce drinks out of. It's a safety issue.

A few weeks ago I was eating carrots dipped in peanut butter (I know, shut up) whilst driving and I somehow managed to choke on my carrot. I mean, for real, Heimlich-maneuver-necessary choking. I almost pulled over when I suddenly recovered, but I had that shaky, adrenaline, oh-my-God-I-almost-just-died feeling for hours.

Clearly I should not eat and drive. I mean, texting and driving is bad - so distracting! But no one ever says anything about eating and driving. Where are the billboards? The public service announcements?

Besides, imagine there being nothing in my bra but boobs. No more crumbs, water, or other foreign objects.

Or maybe I'll just get a really stylish bib.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


As I sit and watch a little girl - blonde-haired and wearing a pink coat, probably less than two years old - run in the sunshine and laugh while her parents gently guide her with outstretched, cautionary hands, I can't help but think "She is going to grow up and break their hearts."

I never claimed to be a perfect mother. I made - and continue to make - mistakes. I've called my kids "stupid." I didn't always want to sit on the floor and play Barbies or cars. I did love reading to them and doing art projects. I love watching them perform - singing, acting, dancing, sports. They make my heart swell with pride almost daily.........and they break it.

I remember when my own little girl was that toddler laughing and running through the grass; I, the mom who ran just behind with my hands out in front of me to catch her should she fall. My little girl - so smart, so cute, so sweet - so many compliments on her strawberry-blonde hair and her precocious nature. She was my sidekick, my constant companion. When she was sixteen months old and I lost the sibling I was carrying for her, she somehow knew and was extra-sweet to me that awful day, patting my cheek and cuddling up to me.

Now all she has for me is contempt. At nearly 20, living back at home after a year at a university, she is caught between child and woman; too young to see how her choices and actions now will affect her future and too old for the restrictions, rules and chores of her childhood home. If I ask her to clean her room, she accuses me of wanting a magazine-perfect house, or challenges me by asking "What does it matter? It's MY room, how does it affect you?" She cannot respect that it's my house, my rules. If I ask her to do dishes, she says "They aren't mine!" or sighs heavily. If I comment that she should embrace the full-time job she's been offered for the summer, she shoots back that she hates the job and "deserves" a summer break.

She spends most of her time on the internet, scrolling through Tumblr or Skyping with friends. When I tell her she needs to focus more on face-to-face relationships, she becomes angry and defensive, saying I am insulting her friends or that she "hates people." She's a cynic, a self-proclaimed atheist who can't stand anything remotely conservative; a staunch Democrat with a basic distrust for people. She is angry and bitter and prefers to be alone. She is anxious and depressed, on meds and in therapy.

And she blames me.

"It's not a coincidence," she states, "that all four of your kids, one of them not even biological, are all in therapy. You're the common denominator - because you're so condescending and mean."

I rack my brain and try to figure out how a request to clean her room leads to this - words that slice and dice my heart into little pieces. I can't un-hear those words.

There is a saying, "People might forget what you did for them, but they will never forget how you made them feel." Did I make her feel unloved? Not good enough? Not smart enough or pretty enough or accomplished enough or nice enough? Can she not un-hear my words when I called her a slob for having a messy room or an ungrateful bitch because she says living in my house is like living in a "hell hole?"

I've given her permission to leave. Told her she could go live with her dad. Welcomed her to grow up instantly, get a place of her own, pay her own bills. But she is not motivated to be on her own. It's too easy - this free life where there is always a good wifi connection and food.

Is it really too much to expect her to do her part? To not eat in the family room and leave dishes all over? To rinse out and toss the tuna can after she makes a tuna fish sandwich instead of leaving it on the counter overnight to dry out and attract flies? To run a load of dishes without being asked or wash a load of towels so we don't run out? To keep her room picked up, take care of her own laundry, not throw clothes on her floor? To pick up after she's used the common bathroom, not leave her contact wrappers on the counter right next to the garbage can?

When I was her age, I lived on my own. Paid my own bills. Worked, and went to college. She says not to compare; she is not me. But I did those things because I was motivated by wanting independence, by what I felt was society's expectation of someone my age, to please my parents. It was a struggle at times, not always fun, but I would have felt foolish being my parents' child when I was an adult and could take care of myself. She wants independence with no responsibility.

And yet.....she accuses me of only hearing the negative. I accuse her right back. I know in my heart that she, my firstborn, is the reason I stayed home to raise my babies. It was such a privilege to be a mother, to be given that gift by my first child. It's the only job I've ever loved and felt I was really good at. Until now. Now, I question my wisdom - did putting my kids first send the wrong message? She seems angry me all the time if I am not singing her praises. But who gets sunshine blown up their ass all the time? No one. Every day we are beaten down by the world and it's our own self-worth that keeps us getting back up. The little voice that says, "I'm ok. I'm a good person. I am worthy." No one has their own personal cheerleader. We take the good with the bad and keep on going.

My parents didn't sing my praises all the time. Sure, they celebrated my accomplishments but they also yelled at me, spanked me, screamed at me when my room was messy (which was all the time). I knew to listen to them, to do what I was told. But I also grew up knowing that they busted their asses to raise four kids in sometimes trying times. They had my back and supported me in whatever I wanted to do. They encouraged me and helped me reach my goals, and, yes, we had some big fights along the way. I don't blame them for my shortcomings or bad decisions I've made. It's not their fault I got divorced, have had financial difficulties, lost friends, or made bad decisions. Those are all on me.

So, is my daughter's hatred of me a result of being raised in the "me first!" generation? Where everyone "wins," and everything is equitable and praise is handed out so often it becomes meaningless? So that any ounce of criticism is seen as an insult or a means to beat her down and make her feel terrible about herself? Eleanor Roosevelt said no one can make you feel inferior without your permission. And while I know words can sting - and I'm still reeling from hers - can she make me feel inferior about my role as a mother? I never promised to do a perfect job. I knew I would do a good job and make some mistakes. Are we destined, as parents, do be hated by our young eventually? Is it a necessary rite of passage to fully enter the world of being an adult?

And do I even have a fighting chance of defending myself in her one-sided therapy sessions where she can create a fictional world that no therapist could ever see through? It certainly seems like a lost cause. Is it fair that I should fee like I'm fighting a battle in my own house - that asking her to contribute in the most basic human ways - to pick up after herrself, put things back, keep her own space clean - is often so much emotional strain that I find myself not saying anything at all? But when I do, I ask nicely, only to be met with the eye roll, "I'm busy," "I'm relaxing," or "It's not my job!" Is it any wonder with that reception I might get the least bit angry or lose my fucking mind? Especially since I'm almost always overwhelmed with a job, four often difficult kids, a big house to take care of and clean, all of the errands, grocery shopping, calendar-keeping and juggling.

What if I had pursued a career, hired a nanny to raise the kids, a housekeeper to clean the house, and fed my kids fast food every night before I spent a couple of hours with them until bedtime? Would I be happier? Have more "me time?" Feel more fulfilled as an individual? I'll never know. I like to think I made the right decision, because I never imagined any other life for myself. But sometimes parenting seems so futile. Like, no matter what you do, you're bound to fuck up and give your kids a million reasons to trash you in therapy, in public, or in a tell-all book.

I feel like things will come full circle. Like one day, she will come back to me and realize that we're a lot more alike than we are different. Maybe when she has her own daughter on the cusp of adulthood. Maybe when she goes through a divorce of her own. Or maybe the first time the novelty of being alone in her apartment wears off and it's too quiet, and she longs for the noise and laughter and chaos that was once her home.

But what if it doesn't? I've been around long enough to know that sometimes the mother-daughter relationship doesn't work out. What then? What if she doesn't want me to be a part of her life when she lives separate from me? Can it really come to that over an argument that started with "I want you to clean your room" and ended with "You're the reason I'm in therapy!"

As I sit in the car, alone at the beach, hearing the rumble of passing trains and watching the people around me, I see moms and kids, dads and kids, grandparents and kids, and I wonder how many other broken hearts are all around me and if this is just the beginning.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Abercrombie THIS, bitch!

Certainly by now, you've heard of the Abercrombie and Fitch debacle? The one in which CEO Mike Jeffries unabashedly admits that A&F clothes are for the cool kids and the fat chicks need not apply? If you need a refresher, you can read this:

There has been a huge backlash over this douchebag's CEO's comments, including this nicely-written letter by Amy Taylor:

So, here's my Abercrombie story:

I never paid much attention to A&F. But once my kids hit a certain age, I noticed their friends wearing this brand and I thought I might like to buy my kids a ticket to the "cool kid" club so I went to the store - once, and only once - and perused the racks.

Let's just say that my style of shopping is to head immediately to the sales/clearance racks. At A&F they were hard to find. I did finally find some "sale" and "clearance" signs, which amounted to a t-shirt for a little girl on sale for $20.

For $20 at Target, I was able to buy my little girl four t-shirts! Cute ones, too, albeit not with an A&F logo. Now, I've never been a fan of name brands. When my kids were growing up, I made fun of the neighbor ladies who bought their child's wardrobe at Gymboree, citing the "quality" and that the clothes would "last forever." Um, yeah, but your KID won't last forever. In fact, they grow so fast, that one year my daughter's feet jumped four shoe sizes in two months, and another year my son grew out of his jeans every two months as he got taller and taller. So am I glad I bought them bargain (but still cute) clothes? You bet!

I've also never been a huge fan of clothing with writing on it. When my daughter was ten and playing softball some stupid well-meaning parent decided to order sweats for all the girls with the team name across the butt. Now, I don't know about you, but I didn't want anyone looking at my ten-year-old's butt anyway, so I didn't see any need to emblazon it with words. Thankfully, the team name was a lot less inappropriate than the 11-year-old I saw wearing similar pants with the word "hottie" on the butt.

I like a smart-ass t-shirt with a sarcastic saying as much as the next person, but when my kids were younger, I avoided "writing" on clothes as a general rule, which immediately nixed Gap, Old Navy, and stores like A&F from our closets. But at some point they asked for specific things - like the Gap sweatshirt my daughter requested in 3rd grade. It was $40 and I had never spent that much on a single item of clothing for a kid before. But she had never asked for anything brand-name before so I decided to indulge her. Of course I bought it two sizes too big and she wore it for three years. Old Navy won me over with their cheap-o prices, but I still tried to avoid the logo stuff.

The thing is, I love clothes. I love having cute clothes for myself and my kids. But I am NOT willing to spend $40 on a t-shirt. And I'm certainly not willing to wear clothes from a store that discriminates against real people. There are enough bullies in the world - now we have to have CEOs of companies tell us we're not cool enough to wear their clothes? And if we don't fit into a size large we're too fat? Ouch. I'll keep my money, thanks.

I don't care where I get my clothes. I buy what I like, what fits well, is comfortable and stylish. I just dropped a whole $24 on six new-to-me shirts at a thrift store. I wore a dress to work the other day that I paid almost nothing for, and got many compliments. I frequently get nice comments about my style. No one knows or cares where I got my clothes or how much I paid for them. And yes, I do have some brand-name clothes, but only because I bought them second-hand. I have NEVER paid retail for a designer brand.

I did acquire an Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt eventually. It was on sale for $2 at my local thrift store and I bought it for my son. He wore it for a while and I re-donated it. No one ever told him he was cooler because of it.

Today I came across this little gem:

I love the idea that this guy suggests - gather up all your A&F clothing, buy it from the thrift shops, and donate it to the homeless. Will they be cooler or skinnier wearing clothing from a discriminatory store upscale retailer? Not a chance. Will they have clothes to keep them warm and dry? Yep. Will Mike Jeffries cringe every time he sees a homeless person wearing his iconic brand? I hope so. Oh, wait, clearly he won't ever see a homeless person. I doubt he very often gets out of his pristine world where the beautiful people reside.

But that doesn't mean we can't make sure he suffers for his callous comments. #FitchtheHomeless. And don't shop at Abercrombie. You'll just look like an asshole wearing the brand. Or maybe you already do.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Bullying is on everyone's mind these days, as the news stories pour in, from kids mercilessly teasing each other to tragic stories of suicide. Kids are mean to each other; that hasn't changed for decades, and I applaud programs that teach tolerance and acceptance to reduce bullying.

But what if the bully is a teacher? Three of my kids have had the same science teacher in junior high. When my oldest child had this teacher, she once told my daughter that she "just didn't like" her, as justification for giving her a low grade. Another time she asked her to repeat the instructions, and when my daughter couldn't do it, she walked away, muttering under her breath "f**king idiot!" She also told a student to "f**k off" and leave her room.

When my middle daughter had this teacher, she told the class they were "retards" and remarked to one boy that he would spend his adult life "living in a box."

This year, my younger daughter has the same teacher. From the beginning of the school year, my daughter has been anxious about the class - it's very difficult for her and she's struggled with the content. As a result, the teacher has called her out on several occasions, embarrassing her in front of the class and ridiculing her when she doesn't answer something correctly. Earlier in the school year, we had two meetings with several teachers and school personnel to see if we could get our daughter some extra help in the areas she was struggling in - math and science. She didn't qualify for any interventions or specialist help, but all of her teachers were aware of her struggles - math and science.

She dreaded going to class. She was up at 3 in the morning one night making science notes, worried about the test the next day. Still, she maintained good grades. But her interactions with the teacher - at times seemingly normal, even "nice" - other times stressful, continued to keep her anxious and on edge. Her number one stress was that teacher and that class.

Today, that teacher crossed the line. When she singled out the group my daughter was in, and asked her to answer a question with a mathematical answer, my daughter got it wrong. The teacher, exasperated, asked her again and when she got it wrong a second time she said "You DO know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide don't you?" When my daughter answered "yes" the teacher said "Well, then, are you just mathematically challenged or what?"


I probably don't have to go into how awful that made my daughter feel, how out of line it was, what a blow to my child's self-esteem, or any of the other obvious things those words did.

I'm a big proponent of letting kids learn to deal with adversity and one of the ways they learn that is by dealing with the not-so-favorite teacher. But I'm also a big proponent of being a good advocate for your children, and I believe in my job to support and protect my children. As such, I emailed the teacher right away, copying the principal and several other key players in the school administration.

I asked the teacher - would you call an obese child fat? Would you call a Down Syndrome child retarded? My husband was livid - we exchanged a phone call and he was most angry about this teacher instilling a hate of science into our daughter. He studied science; he has degrees in chemistry and biology and science is a love of his. Not long ago, our daughter loved science; now, she loathes it.

Why is it acceptable for a teacher to bully a child like this? It's not ok with me. I asked for (and was granted) a meeting with the teacher and principal. I asked that my child be removed from the class (also granted). I do not know what kind of discipline this teacher might face, but I do know that many, many students and a great number of other parents have their own similar stories and I can't help but wonder why she is still teaching. I intend to ask her that when we meet face-to-face.

The teacher did call me right away after I sent the email. She said she was "humiliated, embarrassed" and could not provide an explanation for her "very bad behavior." She also said she would "not defend" herself when questioned by the principal because what she did was wrong and she was very sorry. When I brought up the history - the repeated bullying, with more than one of my kids - she became tongue-tied and didn't have much of a response. We left the conversation agreeing to discuss it further with the principal.

My daughter never wants to speak to her again. And she won't have to. But that won't take away the inexcusable harshness of her words. We all have bad days. But there's a line, as teaching professionals, that we have to stay behind - these students are just that - our students. We must keep our criticism to ourselves and put their learning first. Even on our worst days.

Tomorrow we meet with the principal and counselor to figure out how to complete my daughter's science class through independent study. There are 31 days of school left and then my daughter will be free of that teacher, that class and that school forever as she moves on to high school.

Bullies.........they come in all sizes. How very sad.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

You're fat, now starve!

Today Hannah and I went to her follow-up for the sleep study she did a few weeks ago. I had to take a day off work because the only time they could get us in was a morning appointment. We were anxious to see if the study revealed the reason she might not be sleeping well at night, and was tired all day long.

The doctor informed us that there were no "significant" findings, certainly not enough obstructive sleep apnea to warrant a CPAP machine, and only a "slight sleep obstruction" occasionally, that could "probably be fixed if you lost 20 lbs."

Fair enough. Hannah wants to lose some weight (what girl doesn't?) so this didn't come as a huge surprise to either of us. However, that's where the discussion of her sleep study ended. Dr. Sleep rambled on about how she could "join our ACG program for weight loss" to which I asked "What is the ACG program?"

Apparently I didn't hear him quite well. What he said was "our HCG program." As in human chorionic gonadotropin, or for those of you who have been pregnant, the hormone that rapidly builds up in the early days of baby-growing. The "program" he described involved injections of HCG (which, by the way, is derived from the urine of pregnant women - yuck!), under the guidance of their on-staff naturopathic doctor. Apparently this pumped-up pee suppresses hunger (if the mere thought didn't already make you lose your appetite), and trigger your body's use of fat for fuel. As the doctor described "they're energy molecules - you won't be hungry and you'll be able to do cardio for hours, although you might have some trouble with resistance training."

As a side note, he mentioned that she would also be required to follow a 500 calorie a day diet, consisting of   small pieces of lean meat, leafy greens and, if she was REALLY hungry, some cottage cheese. YUMMO! I guess that explained the difficulty with resistance training. Because, you know, all that muscle loss from starvation.

Who wouldn't lose weight on 500 calories a day? Why even inject the HCG - you'll already be starving your body. Not to mention putting yourself at risk of gallstones, irregular heartbeat, and electrolyte imbalance.

I sat there in disbelief: minutes before I just wanted the results of my daughter's sleep study and suddenly this doctor was spewing forth a diatribe about how we, as humans, are meant to starve occasionally, but thanks to Red Robin and Cheesecake Factory's ginormous portions, we are surrounded by food and eat all the time, and, basically, we don't need to slay the antelope anymore because the antelope is all around us. So, obviously, if one needs to lose weight, we should inject ourselves with this hormone and nibble on lettuce and  a sliver of chicken breast and join in our forefathers' starvation brotherhood. (P.S. they also only lived to age 20 or so.....)

While he was preaching from his swiveling leather chair pulpit, both my daughter and I could hear his stomach growling audibly, louder and louder as he spoke. Irony is a bitch, and I'm guessing that Dr. Sleep hadn't had his tablespoon of cottage cheese that morning. I wanted to jump up and shout "Have a fucking pop-tart!" and run out of there.

Now, I'm all for nutrition - good choices, reasonable portions, cutting back. I need to lose plenty of weight myself. I buy healthy food for my family. I'm aware of the benefits of losing weight, eating healthy, and exercising regularly. And we try. Like every family, we put forth some effort, and we realize when we might need a little extra help (like Weight Watchers and an amped-up exercise program). But alarm bells were ringing in my head as he spoke and suddenly, the nearly 24 hours we spent doing the sleep study seemed like a ploy to get us to sign up for what sounded like pure torture.

Feeling pressured, we made an appointment with the psycho doctor who runs the HCG program.  Dr. Sleep also mentioned that if our insurance didn't cover the naturopathic doctor, we could just make sure to come in when he was in the office and he'd just sneak the charges under his care. Wow, superb diet advice and insurance fraud rolled into one! Bonus! I'm cancelling the appointment tomorrow.

Because, here's the thing. I brought my 17-year-old, beautiful, curvy, perfectly fine daughter into that office and that nut-job told her she was too fat and should starve herself. This same girl who, just a few months ago, spent time in a hospital because of severe anxiety and was surrounded by girls who were also there because they starved themselves to the point of not being able to walk and needing feeding tubes. What the actual FUCK? Who in their right mind, especially a medical professional, would recommend this "diet" to a teenage girl, especially without exploring other, more reasonable approaches. He didn't even say she HAD to lose weight, that her health was in jeopardy - he just said her "slight sleep obstruction" might be improved if she lost 20 lbs. Might be. Or, he might be opening the door to the eating disorder gingerbread house and enticing her in with tantalizing promises.

The more I thought about it today, the more appalled I became. What message does this send? All my daughter heard was "I can lose 20 lbs in six weeks - yay!" Nothing about keeping it off, lifestyle changes, regular exercise. When I asked him to show me the data about how successful this program was, and how long the participants had kept the weight off, he said it was "not compiled yet" but that he was hearing "great anecdotal evidence" about it. Well, I've heard "great anecdotal evidence" about fat-flush water (it was on Pinterest so it must be true!). No scientific evidence? No dice.

I did my own research online and found everything from "don't do it" to the FDA recommendation to "steer clear." Red flags everywhere. I still cannot figure out why Dr. Sleep recommended such a drastic, unproven program to a young, impressionable girl who just wants a good night's sleep.

Maybe because he's a raving lunatic of an ass-hat who was so calorie-starved he began hallucinating. Because he sure as hell didn't make any sense to me.

I spent the drive home talking to my daughter about safe and sane ways to lose weight that involve eating real food and exercising. We discussed joining Weight Watchers together and going to meetings for the accountability. We talked about the reasons why we wanted to lose weight (for both of us, being healthy and strong was number one, looking good in a swimsuit wasn't on top of the list!). My daughter will lose 20 lbs - probably more - by eating right and exercising.  What she WON'T be doing is injecting the urine of a pregnant women into her thigh on a daily basis and starving. Or thinking she needs to go to such extremes to "fix" herself. Because the last thing I want for my daughter is to end up with an eating disorder because some "professional" told her she was too fat. Did we go to a sleep clinic or a front for a gimmicky weight-loss clinic? I'm really not sure. But we won't go back.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The love note.............

Last night, after staying up until almost midnight paying bills and doing otherwise responsible things, I finally headed to bed to find this on my side of the bed:

I thought, how sweet! A love note! This morning, I waved it in Jeff's direction and said "By the way, this was sweet!" He smiled and said "I want you to know, that took a lot of effort!" Effort? To write "I love you" on a piece of paper? But then he told me this story: 

"I knew you weren't coming to bed for a while and I was getting really tired so I just thought I'd write you a sweet note. But then I couldn't find any paper so I had to rummage through my drawer to find something to write on. I was too tired to get up and get paper off the desk, so I finally found this and when I ripped the paper out, all my stuff went flying, and I had to clean it up. And then, when I was doing that, the paper sailed out of my hand and landed over there (gestures towards desk in room) and I had to get out of bed anyway and pick it up! And all I wanted to do was write you a note!"

See? It's the thought (and effort) that counts! :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The long way home...........

Me and my ideas. I woke up at 8 a.m. to sunshine and blue skies! So excited that I slept in until the ridiculous hour of 8 a.m., I promptly fell asleep again until 9. Then lolled about in bed till 10. What a luxurious morning! I lazily asked Jeff what was on our agenda today and he said "Nothing, and it makes me nervous!"

You have to understand my husband. He makes the Energizer Bunny look like a sloth. If he is not working on one of the approximately 4,962 things on his "to do" list (neatly typed and categorized), he really does not know what to do with himself. He even schedules naps. Busy is how he likes to be, and unstructured time is often met with restlessness and feeling scattered.

He mentioned working out so I suggested we take a nice, long walk down to the shopping area near us. Last weekend we walked down to the Starbucks and back and it was a lovely, long walk and a great workout. This time, though, we also knew we needed groceries for a Cinco de Mayo feast we decided to have for dinner, so I suggested that if we wore backpacks, we could cart the groceries back (uphill!) to the house. THEN I got all crazy and shit and suggested we make the kids go, too.

Surprisingly, that went pretty well. I mean, there was a bit of complaining (Hannah) about having to turn off "Criminal Minds" and a bit of primping (Harrison) when it was decided that a shower was needed if we were going to appear in public. Mind you, I put my hair into pigtails, threw on some workout clothes and skipped the makeup. I was looking just perfect for "public." Coupled with sweat and a bright red face, I'm quite the looker when I work out.

Once the kids were all dolled up and we procured one backpacking backpack and two school backpacks, we headed down the road. First stop, Walgreen's to pick up prescriptions. Once I stopped walking and went indoors, my body responded as only a 45-year-old menopausal woman's can, and I started sweating, which I'm sure was a nice compliment to my beet-red face. As I wiped drips out of my eyes, I instructed Harrison to go get me one of those cool little fan/spray bottle combos, which I dropped $9.99 on without even thinking and didn't even blink at the $5.99 batteries I needed to purchase to make it work. It was Heaven!

Next, we took a break at Starbucks and enjoyed some cold drinks. Of course, we walked in the door at exactly the same time as three girls who exclaimed "Harrison!" so I guess he was right about needing to be presentable for his fan club.

Then we did our shopping at Fred Meyer, trying to stick to the list and not buy any extras (but of course we did!). We checked out and distributed the food and drinks among the three packs. We had two 2-liter bottles of Sprite, a bottle of tequila, a six-pack of beer, about 10 lbs of produce, meat, bagels, lunchmeat (might as well stock up for the week!), frozen orange juice........all in all about 55 lbs of groceries!

We started the trek back, me secretly hoping a neighbor with a minivan and no extra passengers would happen by and take my sherpa family home. But it was not to be. Under a cloudless blue sky, and 75 degrees (shut up, we live in Seattle, that's HOT!) we trekked up the hill towards home. I felt the warm sun on my skin and the slight breezes, all the while feeling my muscles work packing the groceries home, thinking "wow, I am really getting in shape!"

About halfway up the hill, my skin suddenly caught fire (ok, not literally, but I sort of understand what spontaneous combustion might feel like now), and I was breathing heavily. My heart was beating in my ears, cheeks and the back of my head. My breath was a cadence of "put one foot in front of the other...." and I felt my shoulders being ripped from their sockets from the weight of the backpack.. I stopped for a breather while the kids trudged ahead. Jeff, in his infinite wisdom, stopped to wait for me, and then used my new spray bottle/fan to cool me off, but the water just evaporated the minute it hit my skin, and those slight breezes were not enough to offer my overheated skin any relief.

I wanted to lay down. In the shade. Jeff jokingly said "you can rest here in the shade and I'll run up and get the car" and for half a second I considered it. But I just kept going. I pulled my already ample frame, plus another 16 lbs in a Winnie-the-Pooh backpack up the hill toward home.

Sweet Jesus, we finally turned the corner into our neighborhood and Jeff said "I'm really hungry" and then it hit me - that wonderful overly-hungry, shaking, sweating hypoglycemic reaction that reminded me I needed some calories, stat! I made it into the house, dropped my backpack, toasted a bagel, slathered it with cream cheese and INHALED it, while resting my feet on ice packs, with another pack around my neck.

And I realized these things:
1. Urban hiking is hard work (we walked six miles).
2. I really, really, really love my minivan.
3. I can't believe I actually got my kids out, in the sunshine, exercising.
4. I'm not sure I'll be able to stand up once I try to leave this chair.

Have a great Sunday. Get out there and DO something! :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I was in a really bad mood yesterday. And I woke up in a bad mood this morning. Mostly it was because it appears that everyone around me is full of fabulous news, exciting new opportunities, and big plans. And I feel like I'm spinning my wheels waiting for something to happen, knowing it will not unless I take action, and being pissed off that I'm too busy to do anything about it.

It doesn't help that this week has been particularly busy, and by that I mean there have been evening obligations which mean getting home much later. Which means no time to cook dinner. Which means eating crap food. Which means no time to work out. Which means feeling even worse about eating crap food. And so the cycle goes.

Also, I work part time but I almost never come home after work. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I came home and actually had half a day to do what I wanted/needed to do. Most days I am picking someone up right after work for an appointment or other obligation, then often repeating that cycle until at least dinner time, usually arriving home with starving offspring and no plan for dinner. By the time I get everyone fed, everything cleaned up, make lunches for the next day, and try to squeeze in a few extracurriculars like laundry or paying bills, it's 10 p.m. and time for bed again. Not that I ever go to sleep around 10 p.m. No, it's a good night if I am in the vicinity of my bedroom by 10 p.m. Sleep happens around 11:30 p.m.. And ends at 6:30 a.m. Blarg.

So, yesterday, I was feeling particularly sorry for myself because a couple of friends, and several bloggers I follow are experiencing success with their writing (i.e. book deals, paid gigs, etc.) and my writing is currently confined to this blog, and nothing else. What I really WANT is to write for pay, write a book, have time to write, write every day. But I have this job. And this family. And blah, blah, blah. If I knew it wouldn't strap us financially, I'd quit my job in a New York minute and write full-time. Because being a writer, you have to write. A lot. And often. And yesterday, my day went like this:
6:30 a.m. Alarm goes off. Lay in bed till 6:45 ish. Pick up phone and scroll through email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
7:05 a.m. Get ass out of bed and into shower.
7:15 a.m. Get dressed. Change clothes five times, even though I had a basic idea of what I'd wear the night before (capris since it was going to be warm out).
7:45 a.m. Finally go downstairs, and lament, once again, that I never have time for breakfast and should be leaving for work right now, or five minutes ago.
8:00 a.m. Actually make it out the door even though I'm technically supposed to be at work right now. Know I can be a half hour late at most because I stay a half hour extra once a week for planning. Still get to work ten minutes after "grace period."
1:15 p.m. Leave work late to make up for late arrival this morning.
1:35 p.m. Arrive at school to pick up Hannah, sit in car finishing lunch for ten minutes.
1:45 p.m. Meet with Hannah and her teacher.
2:00 p.m. Leave school, go home, make phone calls, check email, clean up dishes, make snacks, fill water bottles, gather stuff for rehearsal, etc. Arlie arrives home.
3:00 p.m. Leave to pick up Harrison.
3:15 p.m. Pick up Harrison, drive to high school for musical rehearsal.
3:30 p.m. Drop all three kids off at rehearsal. Make a beeline out of there before someone asks me to volunteer.
3:40 p.m. Drive to consignment shop. Enjoy some browsing/shopping while kids are at rehearsal. (Note: I thought about bringing my laptop with me and going to Starbucks to write, but by the time I got the wifi working, it would be nearly time to go back to get them and chances are I'd be in the middle of writing something truly sensational. Ha!). Buy two dresses and three shirts, and a sensational evening gown/prom dress that was on the clearance rack (and by that I mean I paid TWO DOLLARS FOR IT, even though it had never been work and still had the original tags attached). With store credit for consigning, pay $2.80 for everything. Feel smug.
4:30 p.m. Drive back to the high school and wait for kids to finish rehearsal. Check email, FB and Twitter on phone. Make lists. Eat veggies from my lunch because I'm supposed to be eating more veggies. Realize that eating a bunch of cherry tomatoes leaves tomato skin in your teeth and spit that out for the next ten minutes.
5:15 p.m. Finally leave high school after kids socialize too long.
5:25 p.m. Pick up teriyaki for dinner.
6:05 p.m. Arrive home, rip open containers, eat teriyaki standing up at counter, while trying to catch up with Jeff.
6:15 p.m. Grab keys, head out with Harrison for band practice, while Jeff prepares to head out with Arlie for   driver's ed final drive.
6:30 p.m. Drop Harrison off, head to Target to buy sports bras and cat litter.
7:00 p.m. Really only buy sports bras and cat litter, don't even browse at Target, leave with minimum purchase (gasp!).
7:05 p.m. Go to Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble. Order iced mocha and toffee crunch bar. Remember when I was addicted to toffee crunch bars when they used to be in every Starbucks. Wonder why they stopped carrying them. Wish I hadn't discovered these. Hello, new pastry I don't need!
7:30 p.m. Back to band practice, waiting for Harrison. Check email and FB on phone.
8:00 p.m. Harrison comes out to car, head home stopping by neighborhood with good sunset views to snap a few pictures of the sunset.
8:30 p.m. Home. Clean up. Make lunches. Realize how exhausted I am. Pack up laptop, portable office, purse and reading material and head upstairs - if I have to do work, still, might as well do it from the comfort of my bed.
9:10 p.m. In bed surrounded by bills. Do paperwork and bills for over an hour.
10:30 p.m. See low bank balance, become depressed, decide I've paid enough bills and push everything off bed to settle in for the night.
11:30 p.m. Turn off light after "winding down" playing Solitaire on my Kindle for an hour (!)
6:30 a.m. Start all over again.

So, see? When am I supposed to write? And how am I supposed to write with all that chaos going on? Or without sitting in a chair, with a cup of tea and a beautiful view outside my window? Gah! Not to mention, I did not have time to eat healthy, work out, or do any type of housework (badly needed) in that whole day. So, I went to bed feeling defeated, unfulfilled, and fat.

Plus, when I took my capris off, the zipper broke! Seriously, I just unzipped them and saw something fly across the room. Turns out it was two teeth off my zipper. The zipper on one of the FEW pairs of capris that actually fit me. Great. And who really can fix a zipper? Not me! I'm certainly not going to pay anyone to fix the zipper on a 10.99 pair of capris I got at Ross. But am I pissed off that a pair of pants that actually fits my ass are now junk? Of course I am!

Also, when I tried to talk to Jeff about how I was feeling, he just made some stupid "man" comment like "well, you have to MAKE time" which is about my least favorite phrase in the world.

So, I woke up in the same bad mood I went to bed in. I repeated yesterday, right down to changing my clothes five times (again, after I already knew which pants I was going to wear!). I did NOT want to go to work, and moved quite slowly (although not as slowly as yesterday - I made it to work a little less late than the day before - still not on time - ugh!).

And when I got there, I saw this through the sunlight in the door's window:
Mrs. Moo. As in cow. As in fat. Great. Even my classroom door is mocking me! But the sun was shining. And it was (finally!) warm outside. And Thursdays are pretty straightforward, easy days in the classroom.

And the day actually did turn out o.k. My class was fairly well-behaved, work went fast, I still had to pick up a kid after school, but I had time to stop and get coffees for us first (ok, yes, I went back to the B&N Starbucks just so I could have another toffee-crunch bar!). The doctor appointment didn't take very long, and I had time to go home for a half hour and check my email and print out some stuff before heading back out for my evening obligation.

Which was getting my hair done. Which is like therapy and "me" time rolled into one. Thank you, Marie, my wonderful hairdresser!

And when I left, I had new hair, the sun was just starting to set, and on the drive home, as I crested a hill, I saw the Olympic mountains in full glory bathed in the early evening sun and I actually said out loud "God, those are beautiful mountains!"

And then I got Taco Time for dinner and stopped at Dairy Queen at the request of Arlie and Hannah for Blizzards and a Dilly Bar for me.

So, there's still the fat thing. But I'm working on that.