Tag Archives: teenagers

A Tail Not Hers

We have dramas, again. First: rain. Now I like rain. Well, not freezing rain, but a nice downward mist or refreshing summer rain – even if it’s bordering on tropical storm variety – or a spring rain that brings the promise of a new season of gardening… yeah, I sort of like rain. I prefer not to be out in it too long, and the cats prefer not to be out in it at all. So, rain, this means Jingles was inside being all angsty. That’s the second problem: the angst of a cat trapped indoors by her mortal enemy: water.

I have a theory on why Jingles tolerates Nimoy. Sure, I know the plan was to get a kitten so there wouldn’t be any question about dominance. Well, there shouldn’t have been any question about dominance, but Nimoy is a little dim, as I’ve mentioned before. I don’t think it’s the “she’s a kitten, I’m dominant, therefore I can afford to be gracious” attitude that Jingles has so much as “there’s something clearly not quite right with this one.” It’s just not polite to pick on the mentally disabled; apparently that extends to felines.

Nimoy means well. She tries very hard to keep me from falling into the toilet – she knows from experience it’s unpleasant. And while Jingles likes to ‘play’ with me while I take a bath (I have to take bubble baths if she’s going to join me so she can bat at the bubbles), Nimoy seems genuinely concerned about my welfare sitting in all that water for so long. She paces along the edge, throwing worried looks my direction and peering into the depths to see if the tub really is full of water. Every now and then Nimoy reaches out to try to catch my shoulder or arm and pull me to safety. I really wish she’d stop  because she uses claws to hook me and reel me in. For that matter, I’d be fine taking a bath on my own, but I’m not trusted alone in the bathroom. It’s kind of like having a toddler again.

The problem that arose the other day when Jingles was inside because of the rain, and angsty, was this: Nimoy persisted in playing with a tail that was not her own. The owner of said tail quickly lost patience, then the beatings began. For the most part I sat back and watched Darth Jingles set Nimoy straight on tail-etiquette, but after an hour I decided to intervene. Yes, an hour. No, you don’t get to lecture me on my slow response time, focus instead on the persistence of this absurd kitten.

I mean technically she’s still a kitten, but she’s eight months old now; at a certain point they’re supposed to learn things. When the grumpy black cat reaches out a paw and whaps her on the nose, Nimoy could conclude she did something to earn the rebuke. Maybe pause to think – skip back on the 8-track in that thick skull of hers and review the data – what did she do that made Jingles feel the need to beat her? Don’t blame Jingles either. Occasionally it really is the victim’s fault. If I were beating her that’d be different, but this is cat on cat action here. Jingles has patience, but it can’t be endless or Nimoy would never learn. I will pamper and spoil my cats, but only to a point. No paws on the kitchen counters or table, or pantry or cabinets (remind me to tell you about how we learned that one from experience). Jingles made those concessions in kittenhood and everywhere else in the entire house seems to be fair game.

Darth Jingles can’t be held responsible for the other bits of drama, instead The Girl steps up to take her place in center stage. First, a reminder: I’ve mentioned our invisible spiders before. They’re small to medium sized arachnids that happen to be the exact same color as the carpet. On the wall, they stand out – not like a black spider on a white wall, but enough. It’s that time of year where spiders are once again on the move, and because the temperature keeps bouncing up and down, some are finding their merry way indoors.

The arachnid migration is causing a problem in a few ways: primarily in that The Girl is terrified of spiders and can’t bring herself to step on them even with shoes on. She’s eighteen now and we still have to save her regularly from being trapped forever in a room by a spider lingering a foot away from the only door. Worse is when she sees the spider, screams, scares it causing it to lose its footing, we come trudging to her rescue with a tissue only to find the source of all horror has disappeared. The Girl (now supervised with the promise of immediate intervention should the creature appear again) sprints from her room and refuses to enter it again until she’s found Jingles and confined the cat to her bedroom for two hours to make sure she’s had sufficient time to hunt, kill, and devour the spider. Then she’ll sleep on the sofa in the living room anyway just in case. I’d like her reasoning on why the living room is safer, but I’m honestly afraid to point out the hole in her theory.

A similar and related problem with the new influx of spiders is Nimoy. Now when I say influx, I should clarify, I see maybe one a week. We’re not talking infestation here, just more than mid-winter levels of legs in the house. Now, our darling kitten has taken on a new tendency that has much of the household on edge: staring. Not just staring, she stares, wide-eyed and startled, at a spot on the wall just above your head or over one shoulder. And keeps staring at that spot. Now however much I tell myself I’m being paranoid because I’ve fallen for this before, she won’t stop until I break down and look.

Nothing. Just wall.

Either Nimoy finds the texture of our walls absolutely fascinating, or she’s hallucinating. It’s possible she’s toying with us, much like Jingles does with the occasional mouse, but I doubt she has the intellect. Given The Girl has seen spiders recently, she’s completely freaked out by this new behavior in her kitten.

It gets worse.

The Girl isn’t the only one who’s discovered bugs, Nimoy has too. You guessed it, she discovered the invisible spiders. Now Jingles did this once upon a time – spent time seeming to play with an empty spot in the middle of the living room floor. Closer inspection might reveal something we didn’t want to find, so after the first discovery we all decided closer inspection wasn’t necessary – Jingles picks up her toys. Unfortunately Jingles is stealthier in her maturity and we don’t see her doing this anymore so we sort of forgot about it. Extra unfortunate is that while Nimoy isn’t known for picking up her toys in terms of tidiness, she does pick them up – to move them to a more convenient location. Her claws get caught in the carpet.

Invisible spiders become visible on tile.

Sigh. That’d be fine if Nimoy actually picked them up to move them, because I bet that’d be the end of it. I mean given the relative size of a cat and a spider, I can guess the final result. No. That’s no fun, she herds her new toy to a better playground where she can play with it easier – and The Girl can see it easier. The Girl shrieks, sending Nimoy scampering off to hide and leaving a frantically sprinting spider unattended. Not once have these spiders still been either findable or reachable by the time Hubby or I arrived for damage control.

The Girl is freaking out about all the spiders in the house. All? Hubby got clever. He floated the idea to our little bundle of anxiety that there’s only one, and it’s toying with Nimoy as much as Nimoy’s toying with it. Intellectually they’re probably evenly matched. She wanted to believe that, so she did.

Then the highly improbable happened: Nimoy actually made her first kill. Intentional kill. I suspect she learned not to bite spiders before because it puts a swift and premature end to play-time, and she’s never exhibited hunting behavior so she was never in it for the kill. Any spider mortality at Nimoy’s paws & jaws was purely accidental. This time though …. If The Girl was there it wouldn’t have happened, but she was busy and The Boy was happy to not only recognize Nimoy’s changed behavior, but leave her to it. Nimoy corralled and herded her toy spider for nearly an hour before cornering it and pouncing. The cat may be a little dim, but she’s dedicated. Then she sat by her prey and meowed to get our attention. Of course we fawned over her, rewarding the behavior and all, forgetting Hubby’s story that there was only one spider in the house and Nimoy had just killed it. Another apparently moving in a couple of days later didn’t settle well with The Girl. I haven’t seen the newcomer yet. It was gone by the time I answered my theoretically adult daughter’s high-pitched shriek of dismay.

Speaking of rain, two cats trapped inside, and a high-pitched shriek of dismay, I need to go rescue something from something. Reminder: we only have one invisible spider in the house. One. It lives in the living room and plays tag with the kitten. One spider. That should keep The Girl from sleeping on my couch.

 

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Feeding The Finicky

Darth Jingles with Ritz in plastic bag

Meals in our house are tenuous affairs. First, The Girl: she’ll eat most things, but only two bites. Then an hour later, she may eat something else. The Boy doesn’t want whatever is presented, but neither does he want to participate in the choosing of meals. Hubby waffles between preparing comfort food and experimenting with gourmet food, sometimes he tries a hybrid of the two. Occasionally this doesn’t go well. No matter what the kids aren’t in the mood for, I have a talent for picking that exact thing to make when I prepare a meal. I’m not sure how that works. At least I can count on The Girl to eat two bites.

Now the cat is another matter. First, let me just say up front, Jingles is an idiot. She’s never figured out meat is edible. Hamburger, chicken, pork – no, it’s not food. Salmon? No. Tuna? That’s complicated. Tuna is edible, but only if it’s drinkable. She enjoys her tuna beverage. The fewer solids the betters. She doesn’t want to chew her tuna fish. Jingles doesn’t like moist cat food either, it’s dry and crunchy all the way for her. Although she’s particular about brand and occasionally changes her mind. Usually after we find big bags of her preferred cat food on sale and stock up. Foolish humans.

Okay, now that we have that behind us, let’s talk about what else she considers food. Our cat loves her carbs. She won’t chew meat, but she will snarf down Cheerios. Oh yeah, loves those Cheerios. And pretzels, the crunchy not the soft ones. And Ritz crackers, but one is enough for her, usually. Hubby lets her lick curry off his finger, which I keep telling him is a bad idea and he’s going to pay for it, but she hasn’t proven me right yet. Some day.

So the cat isn’t very cat-like, but some things aren’t far off, just a bizarre twist on nature. Sort of. She took off on us for a week and lived off the land, and demonstrated once that she knows how to eat a mouse, so she is a cat. It’s good to know.

Did you know you can get Twinkies with Minion costume stickers to apply to the Twinky itself to dress it up? Hubby bought a box because A) the kids love Twinkies and B) Minions freak out The Girl. He dressed one up and offered her a treat. She flipped. The cat was intrigued and came to investigate. Hubby offered Jingles a Twinky dressed in a little jumper, smile and eyes. She glanced at it. He wiggled it. She gave it a closer look.

Let’s look at this from a feline point of view: it’s prey-sized, it has eyes, it moved, it isn’t aggressive, it’s now motionless – clearly frozen in fear. This is prey. Fast forward ten seconds to her next discovery: this is easy prey. Fast forward again another five seconds: this is edible. Again ten second: this white stuff on the inside is good. And again another five seconds: this white stuff on the inside is sticky.

I plan on checking to see if Jingles has learned anything from her first encounter with a Twinky. Anything like: it’s still prey even if it doesn’t have eyes and is dressed in little stick on pants, how to handle the white stuff without getting it everywhere, and how to get it out of the wrapper or box on her own. I’m not really keen for her to learn that last bit.

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Back To School – Kids vs Cat.

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The kids are back in school and even Darth Jingles is smarter than me: she’s staying away from this mess.

I should be thrilled my teenagers are now spending most of every weekday being someone else’s problem. That’s how it should be, not how it is. First, The Girl started her senior year the Wednesday before last. Yay! It’s almost over, just one more year, and she has mostly fun classes so less stress. Dream on. Her schedule was messed up. We fixed it. She discovered all the kids in her Introduction to Statistics class were morons, then discovered the same about the kids in her Wildlife Biology class. Apparently someone had to ask how to spell “gills.” That rant lasted … actually it’s still going on. I get texts throughout the day as she tells me things she can’t say in class in the interest of polite society/not getting beat in the hall. (She’s a snarky little thing but knows when to rein it in. Usually.)

With The Girl being back in school, we’re faced with her usual last minute catastrophes. I would have thought at some point in the last 17 years, she would have learned the concept of “advance notice.” Alas, this is not the case. We still get her panicked race to our room at 11 pm to tell us she needs something for class and she it needs tomorrow. When did she learn of the requirement? At least two days previously, but we still have to drag that gem out of her. How does this apocalyptic event change our lives? We have to listen to her whine when we refuse to go to Walmart in the middle of the night, praying they have exactly what she needs. No, she can wait until after school and we’ll take her to go get whatever it is. I don’t do Walmart. Ever. Yes, that means she won’t have it for class – as was specifically required. Tell us in advance next time. We fix that problem and three days later repeat the exact same scenario. It’s amazing.

That’s The Girl, her little brother is very different. When The Boy needed something for school, he mumbled it upon walking through the door (that’s his version of telling us) and then never mentioned it again. He could be docked points class after class for having a loose-leaf binder instead of a spiral notebook or something inane like that, but we wouldn’t know until Parent-Teacher Conferences rolled around. Sigh.

The Boy started school last Monday, several days after his sister. A reminder: near the end of third term last year we switched him to an online/home school. I’m his “Learning Coach,” a title I desperately wanted to pass on to Hubby this year. He declined. The good part about this is there’s no more mumbling of things as he walks in the door. I know (generally) what he needs to do and what he needs in order to do it. Unfortunately his teachers don’t always copy me in their emails to him, and there’s no way he’s volunteering information, so there’s still that.

The Boy’s schedule is also messed up and I’m having some trouble getting that sorted. Getting him to go to bed at a reasonable hour, get up in time for his lessons, and give up video games during the day is fine. So far. Getting him to give up his 2 hour mid-afternoon nap is already becoming a problem. Let the battle of wills begin!

That being said, I’ve already been outsmarted by Hubby (he’s not The Boy’s “Learning Coach), and Darth Jingles (she’s refused to come in until this whole “beginning of school” thing gets straightened out and her children calm down), so I’m concerned about this mid-day nap dilemma. Is it sad that I looked over his schedule and penciled in when he can take a nap? I go check to make sure he gets up again to finish his work. That feels like giving in. Now I have to wake him up twice a day when I’m already tired of doing it once. Maybe he’ll ease out of it. (Last night he fell asleep on the rug in front of the refrigerator after going downstairs for a midnight snack. Yeah, he’s going to give up his mid-day naps, sure.)

All right, now that we have that sorted out, the kids finished their first week and survived, the cat came home over the weekend. The little brat usually is very sensitive to the needs of her children. She snuggles with them when they’re sick. She sleeps with them when they’re upset. But she cleared out when they endured their first week of school. In high school – she was there for them in junior high. Brat.

Jingles came home bearing a gift – a dead mouse. This is a little unusual, she doesn’t bring her playmates home with her. Whatever. We gave her big smiles and ‘good kitty’ assurances from afar. The Girl made sure she turned away before adding ‘ewww!’ We gave her tuna so the kids wouldn’t complain about her having ‘mouse breath,’ hopefully that won’t encourage her to keep bringing home dead vermin. Jingles later gave her boy lots of loves, tucked her girl in each night over the weekend before prowling the house. She checked in on her boy throughout the night to make sure he was doing okay with his video games then settled down when he hit his curfew. You know, being cat-like.

She woke me up at 3am and then Hubby with demands for aggressive petting. Then she finally snuggled down between us and stretched to push us both to the edges of our bed. She’s a smallish cat so that was a remarkable feat.

And Monday morning, she was off to go play like nothing happened. Like she wasn’t MIA for five days straight while the kids were having a rough time in school. Like she didn’t bend the house to her will all weekend (which is as it should be in her mind). Nope, just business as usual. We’ll see if she’s home before the weekend or if the threat of homework will somehow keep the cat at bay.

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A Different Family Vacation

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I’ve been largely vacant from social media sites and remiss in blogging regularly lately. I apologize. This is due to a couple of things: First, The Boy & high school – I’ll come back to that. Second, it seemed June was vacation month.

Family vacations are something unique to individual families. Some go to the beach, the mountains, or the desert; others choose specific destinations like parks or cities. I camped as a child, hubby’s family thinks roughing it is a three star hotel.  We try to shake things up for our kids, but there is a specific type of family vacation that comes up regularly: shooting. Specifically, machine gun shoots.

There are several machine gun shoots in the country, Knob Creek is (I believe) the oldest and we’ve never traveled back to that one. Big Sandy is the biggest, although I remember it when was much smaller. There’s an age limit for most shoots (for obvious safety reasons) but occasionally there are machine gun shoots that allow kids.

This particular shoot was a machine gun shoot for charity so it was more of a family-friendly environment. It’s held in a small town every year to benefit some part of the town. One year it was the fire department because they needed equipment and it simply wasn’t in the budget. This year it was the school for the same reason. The town has its own people donate things to raffle and to shoot at. One of the local farmers has a piece of land that’s used for the shoot and for camping. The hotel offers a discount. The grocery store donates meat and one of the restaurants donates a cook to barbeque it and people can buy their dinner each night. They truck in cold drinks and ice for us to buy. All proceeds go to the cause because everyone in town is donating their time, products, and services to get money out of the shooters and spectators. Old beat up cars that would get towed off for scrap are saved and shot up first. We blew up a van this year. I’m serious, there was a reactive target under it and it flipped the minivan and broke it in half. Kind of cool. Sponsors put up prizes to be raffled. Lately even some of the chain sporting stores have been putting in some things to be raffled. It’s good PR.

We all have a lot of fun, see people we only see once or twice a year sometimes, and the town brings thousands of dollars into a depressed, floundering community in addition to what the actual charity rakes in. It’s a win all the way around.

Now, that being said, I was supremely happy to go sit in the desert because I needed a break. Really. The Boy (I said I’d get back to it) had some difficulty at school – not his fault, we confirmed it, but neither was it the sort of thing we could ignore. And the school couldn’t fix it. So he chose to switch to home/online school instead of regular public school. And it was an uphill battle from there.

Actually the first few weeks were fine. Then for whatever reason he decided he needed to be prompted to do anything. I honestly feel like I slid back into high school myself. Seriously, I sat with him through the last half of ninth grade. The thing is, I already passed ninth grade and felt no need to do it again. That didn’t matter. To make him sit through it, I had to do it too. The upshot is: I got next to nothing productive done in the last few months with my writing, although I have had a lot of teen-related angst. I should be angst-proof.

So he finished his classes, barely, and we take off on vacation. The Girl has lost interest in shooting after the first half-day and sat with her nose in a book, enjoying the chance to peacefully read something that wasn’t assigned. I sat in whatever shade I could find frantically trying to finish A Thousand Words #4 because I’m behind where I wanted to be courtesy of her little brother. We both had earbuds in under hearing protection to make it easier to ignore the pop, pop, pop, boom of gunfire in the background and occasional explosion as someone hits a reactive target. The cows didn’t seem to mind, although I noticed the sudden lack of ground squirrels every time the firing line was active. Hmm. Rodents have a sense of self-preservation after all.

The Boy threw himself into the predominate activity with gusto, especially since discovering his back-up plan of playing games on his laptop wasn’t going to happen. There was no internet. No Wifi to connect with his friends at home, and no cell service as a back up to text/call/skype them. I’d love to say I laughed at that last bit, but I was one of the three out of four family members who succumbed to a panic attack thirty miles from the site when service cut out. GPS still worked, but that was of limited interest. Hubby doesn’t live and die with his phone in his pocket, so he was the one who laughed at the rest of his adoring family when mountains finally killed our weak signal. I called him names. It wasn’t my finest moment.

On the plus side, that’s one less distraction. It was just me and my laptop. Until they closed the line for dinner and the ground squirrels came out to play again. They’re cute. (The farmer doesn’t think so, but they are.)

As soon as the shoot ended, we headed home to trade in a very heavy load of weapons and ammo for a lighter but almost as bulky cello and left on Family Vacation 2.0 – Mount Rushmore. Yes, it added a couple of days to our vacation to return home to switch out luggage and head out again, but it just seemed like a poor idea to go to a National Monument armed to the teeth, you know? Besides, The Girl wanted to find the Team America theme song and load it on her MP3 player so she could play it at Mount Rushmore. I saw this as another bad idea, but The Boy sided with her and they so rarely band together anymore I hated to break it up. I had days for that partnership to crumble before nixing her rebellious streak. (That didn’t quite go as planned.)

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Out of the Mouths of Babes

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The Girl just spent her allowance pumping quarters into one of those silly machines at the mall trying to get a complete collection of one-inch plastic Adventure Time figures. She failed. She still doesn’t have the Ice King. She has a lot of little hard to open plastic containers to comfort her in her failure, and extra figures to give to her friends at school (why high school students need small plastic figures from a cartoon I have no idea) but it isn’t enough.

She knew, somehow, that I just didn’t understand how great these little bits of plastic were, so she brought some in to show me. She set up a tiny Jake (the dog) on my computer, and he promptly fell over because he was molded at an angle where physics simply wouldn’t allow him to remain upright. That’s fine, a bit of Plasti-Tac on the base can compensate for that. Also, his eyes weren’t white, they were grayish. The girl licked a finger and tried to clean them. She was careful not to lick the same finger on round two.

“Lead-based paint,” she explained.

Good girl, she understands where her tiny treasures were made. I reminded her that we have white nail polish if she wanted to fix Jake’s eyes, or someone at school might have white-out. Even white paint might be obtained. She acknowledged the plan as sound and stopped licking fingers in an attempt to fix the problem.

I have not, however, agreed that these things are the greatest thing ever and this disturbed her. She went and got more. Soon my computer keyboard was covered with little figurines falling over in an attempt to look … cute, I think. I’m not sure. I’m not into Adventure Time in the first place so that could be where the problem is rooted.

Hubby came in and was appropriately excited to view her finds. He’s usually the one who sits and watches that ridiculous show with her. It’s their thing, I’ll let them have it. They somehow wandered off topic from Adventure Time to school, to Interstellar (the movie and that line where they invented something new every day – it was amazing), to it really seemed you could find almost anything in this country. Case in point: inch-high badly-painted Adventure Time figurines that don’t stand up. The Girl gathered her herd of small toys and smiled.

“Isn’t America great?”

“Yes. Especially the bits made in China,” I replied.

“Mom, that’s most of it,” she said with an exasperated huff and walked off.

Out of the mouths of babes. Yikes.

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A Valentine Nightmare In The Making

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Ah, Valentine’s Day. And that quirky twist when it follows Friday the 13th – awesome. How can you not love that? If you don’t, do you have teenagers?

I mentioned on various social networking sites that I was mildly concerned about Valentine’s Day this year. The Girl is single this year, but has plans to go out and play with friends. (Had plans, Friday the 13th struck and she’s now a bit under the weather. Poor baby. Poor whiny baby.) The Boy also had (past tense) plans to hang out with friends (online) and play video games. Note: he’s not single. Well, he is, of course, but his new girlfriend doesn’t view the world the same way he does no matter how understanding she is. Hubby and I are simply astounded at how understanding this little freshman girl is. Really. I mean I wrote an understanding girlfriend, but she had dark ulterior motives and I’m sort of freaking a little here, except my son is not the character that teenage vixen had her sights on. Thank God for small miracles.

Anyway, that The Boy was planning on ignoring his new girlfriend for their first romantic opportunity had me a tiny bit concerned. First, where did I go wrong? Second, what was his scorned girlfriend going to do to show her displeasure. Was I lucky enough that it would simply be a breakup? Not likely. How would The Boy react? Would The Boy react? Had I unknowingly raised a sociopath? No, just an idiot.

As I planned a subtle talk with my youngest child to spare him from who knew what later drama, previously mentioned would-be creator of later drama took matters into her own hands. Somehow suspecting that The Boy was clueless, probably because he hadn’t initiated a damn thing so far in their relationship except for a couple walks to Dunkin Donuts or Menchie’s with her simply because A) he wanted to go B) he didn’t want to go alone C) no one else was available, and D) she was more or less on the way. Sigh, smart girl. Anyway, she showed up on our doorstep, on a skateboard, and asked if he’d take her the Valentine’s Dance. Point blank. There’s no wiggle room there. No more shrugs, we’ll see, later, nothing evasive – an answer was required and his parents were behind him, but backing her. And he knew it. And it’s short notice so he doesn’t have time to freak out. It’s make a decision, take time to shower, dress, pick her up, and go. Clever.

So The Boy voluntarily went to a dance. For just a short bit, long enough to make an appearance, quick run around the room so she could show off her tall, skinny boyfriend who took the time to put on a suit jacket with his jeans – not the entire suit, just the jacket but close enough. Then they ditched and went to a movie. No clue what they’re seeing. Hubby is hanging out playing chauffeur. Dinner and/or dessert may or may not happen after. No one tells me anything.

Meanwhile The Girl and I are watching TV and making Valentines. This is a big holiday with wide appeal so surely there’s a niche for our Valentines. What do you think?

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Shopping With Teenagers

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Every so often, Hubby decides it would be nice to just pick a store and wander around. We might find something we need. We usually don’t, but you never know, it could happen. On Monday, he had such a whim and chose Target. Sigh.

First, I should mention we’d all been in this particular store before, but not often and not recently. Kjkugyhjvgstdfrdfrerdfrfrgtmnhtj <-this is The Girl’s efforts to sabotage my ability to tell you this story. As if that were possible. She’s going to pass out from sheer exhaustion shortly. (It’s from running through the aisles like some sort of sugar-crazed lunatic.) No, seriously, don’t lick that.

Anyway … (now you understand why I don’t get writing done with the kids home, don’t you?) so we were walking around, discovering that I need to turn off the formatting symbols in Word or she’ll read EVERY DAMN ONE – so we were walking around, discovering more what they didn’t have than what they did and found their no smoking aisle. The Boy immediately told his sister to leave. He clearly wasn’t thinking. She was.

“Are you trying to say I’m SMOKING?” (Flips hair and saunters away with what I assume was a 16 year old version of a nightclub walk. Yes, I’m talking to you, girl sitting next to me in giggles.)

The Boy blushed and ignored her bum wiggles. The Girl was very keen that I use that phrase “bum wiggles.”

Moving on … DON’T LICK ME! Did I mention she’s 16?

Oh thank God, Hubby distracted her.

Moving on, we made it to the toy aisles, as they were. The Girl immediately found a 3D puzzle of The Empire State Building, which we decided you assembled then hung a sock monkey on. Then we found Minecraft Legos, which seems odd. They were both the most redundant toy there, and the most realistic Legos designed to date. (For those not familiar with the video game Minecraft, it’s 1980s level graphics and all you do is build things from square blocks. Oh, and a few blocky monsters very slowly chase you. It’s Legos for video gamers, assuming they don’t want to play with the Legos games.)

And The Girl is back. She’s draping herself over me, demanding to be blogged like a French girl. Um … what exactly have you been reading? Oh, Titanic. Go away and sink it. She said okay, but when the police ask … “But my mom told me to do it!” Right, like she ever really listens – so I have nothing to worry about.

Further on I spy some little girls’ Disney Princess dresses. I pointed them out to the kids and asked The Boy if he thought his sister would still fit in them. Naturally The Girl gave me a horrified look, and said “No! I have hips and boobs now!” (This despite the fact she otherwise has barely grown since she was thirteen. Little girl. And I got a dirty look for that.)

“But if there was a dress for Vanellope Von Schweetz you’d try.” I smiled at her. Wreck it Ralph is one of her favorite movies and she loves that character.

“I would,” she squeaked.

I laughed, then as I am now as she relives her pain. Of course she rounded on me.

“Are you laughing at my pain?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s funny.”

And she is once again demanding if I’m entertained. Thumbs up or thumbs down? (Gladiator reference there. She’s in fine form tonight.) And The Girl and Hubby are now off on a tangent about thumbs up and thumbs down used to have reversed meaning back in ancient Rome and why and … whatever, it has nothing to do with our trip to Target.

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Spring Cleaning: Spoiled Children Must Go

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I am dying for spring to get here. My attention keeps wandering to plans for the garden. I long for blossoms to turn my fruit trees pretty colors. The sweet smell of pollen in the air and the buzz of the first bees – which I promptly run away from because I’m allergic to the suckers.

I miss going out to water my garden in the early morning and having The Cat chasing imaginary things in the grass. I would say she’s chasing bugs, but I really think she’s just nuts and it’s in her tiny, walnut-size brain. Not that it matters, it’s cute. 

Being able to enjoy sunrise and sunset at decent times of the day, remember that? And starting the epic battle to get The Boy away from his video games and outside behaving boyish. Wait, no, I’m not looking forward to that. Maybe this year the kids will mow the lawn or weed a bit more. Probably not, they’re spoiled. 

I was just talking to Mrs. Patience, who lives with her husband – Gandhi reborn, I swear – and their four children a couple of houses down. We let our kids get away with so much now. She thinks it’s innately ingrained in parents, mothers especially, to want to give their kids at least what they had as a child and preferably more.

Makes sense. My mother was raised with few money problems and generally spoiled. I was spoiled to the point of having few chores and given almost anything and everything I asked for. I never had to wait for Christmas or my birthday for things. Although wrapping paper was nice. Hubby’s parents had a tight budget, but they somehow found ways to give their kids things that they didn’t have when they were children. 

My kids are spoiled. The Girl is a good sport about it because I told her when she was younger about The Mother’s Curse: All the trouble you give me, you’ll get back with interest when you have your own kids. (I pointed to her little brother that she considers the bane of her existence as proof that I wasn’t a perfect child). As good as she’s being, I still wonder what that’s going to mean for her kids when she tries to give them everything she had and more. How old will my grandkids be when they get their first cell phones (my kids were seven), or laptop (The Boy was five), or TV in their room (about four although The Boy doesn’t have one anymore – he has to earn it back)?

Mrs. Patience complained that her kids are picky eaters. I’m on board with that one. We feed The Boy almost anything he asks for because the kid is underweight and we’re desperate to get protein in him as he grows into his adult height. He knows this and uses it mercilessly. Except we won’t feed him junk food. He’s not happy about not being able to eat Goldfish crackers for every meal, but I’ll get up in the morning and fry him a ham steak. Hubby will make a full breakfast on a school day without blinking. I ate cold cereal every morning before school. Where did this change come from? If we make spaghetti for dinner, and he doesn’t feel like it, he’ll ask for – and usually get – a different meal. Mrs. Patience reports her husband has taken on the skills of a short order cook, sometimes fixing each child a different meal at their request. 

When we were young, you were taking your life into your own hands to first: saying that you didn’t feel like this or that for dinner – when it was already on the table – and second: requesting something different. Why do they get away with it? I know I would have gotten slapped or spanked, depending on how old I was, and that’s not an option any longer. Send him to his room? Why? That’s where his laptop, tablet, and phone are – all with video games and a lifeline to his friends to complain we’re mean. Ground him? Yeah, I try. Enforcing it is a whole other problem. 

I told hubby I’m going to start changing the wifi password weekly and they have to earn the new password. That’s a hassle and as annoying for us as it is for the kids. If they don’t like dinner – from now on they can make their own PB&J or Ramen to have instead. That’s more than I would have gotten. 

 This trend of spoiling the children has to end, or I fear for the world by the time my grandkids are grown.

 

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Baked Goods Exchange: and the Winner is . . .

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So, the annual ‘exchange of baked goods’ marathon has finally reached an end. Or, in the case of my small cul-de-sac, a temporary reprieve until pie-like fruits and berries are widely available. The final results: I am ahead in the production quality of chocolate chip cookies, although lagged sadly behind in sheer quantity. I blew away the competition in spritz and lemon cookies, in part because I’m the only one of German descent and makes the blasted little spritz, and the only one who made lemon cookies as well. Although it was widely agreed mine are the best. It’s true. On that note, The Girl managed to break the indestructible cookie press I have to use for spritz. She swears it was an accident and I believe her because they’re her favorite. Also, she’s accident prone.

I lost the race in pies and cakes, having not made any. But I am moderately ahead in meringues, not because I was the only one who made them, but because I was the only one who shared. Oddly, there was a suspicious lack of sugar cookies this year. I didn’t make any, and I didn’t receive any, and The Girl’s friends in the neighborhood reported they also had not seen any. Bizarre.

As compensation for the cosmic lack of sugar cookies, we did receive more than the usual amount of boxes of chocolates. I take this as a sign people were not withholding sugar cookies in a subtle effort to tell me I’ve put on a couple pounds during the seasonal bake-a-thon. (I’ve always been of the opinion that you can’t gain weight by eating meringues because they’re mostly air.)

Oh, and toffee. I missed the toffee and vanilla caramels. Not that I can’t make them myself, but that I usually don’t. Unfortunately, I had other confections slated for production that I didn’t get to. This creates a problem. I have all this unrefined sugar and accessories on hand, so I sort of have to make them. Pecan-brittle, for example. (I prefer not to put peanuts in my brittle and instead use pecans or almond slivers. I’m a brittle snob.) But if I make it, I have to eat it or find a suitable occasion to pass it off on others.  Everyone’s still recovering from feast and sugar-induced indigestion, they don’t need more.  And in a couple days, everyone will swear off calories and call it a resolution.  

Of course I do have two teenagers in the house. Last year I wasn’t successful at bribing them into doing extra chores with sugar at a time that’s overflowing with sweets, but I can give it another shot. What do you think? Toffee for vacuuming, caramels for dusting, brittle for putting away their laundry which they should be doing already . . .

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Christmas Addict

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‘Tis the season! I’m not a fan of Halloween, although I humor the kids to excess and, in return, I demand they humor me for Christmas. I have no idea why I like this holiday. I am never on top of things. My cards are almost always sent later than I planned, usually the cookies are too. Frequently I am done with the bulk of my shopping before Halloween, let alone Black Friday, Still-Going Saturday, Catch-a-Breath Sunday, and Cyber Monday; but I’m usually still wrapping Christmas Eve morning.

I prefer to get all the decorations up the day after Thanksgiving, but that hasn’t happened as planned in years and I have no idea why. Actually, I do have one clue. Things started going awry when the kids became old enough to genuinely help as opposed to “help” in that almost cute underfoot small child way. It seems teenagers make more work than toddlers. Who knew? All right, put your hands down.

The good thing about having teenagers (there are a few perks here and there) is that when I make spritz every year, I can make them work the cookie press. For those not of German descent, spritz are a mild flavored cookie that come from stiff dough that’s firm enough to break most of the cute modern cookie presses. If you make it right. You can cheat, and I’ve considered it. I have older relatives who can tell the difference, damn them. But it’s okay, I keep an old, metal, turn-screw style cookie press that I think was my grandmother’s and may have come from the fatherland itself just for making the cookies with. And since using said torture device gives me carpal tunnel, I have two youngsters who still have all their cartilage and tendons to task with pressing the cookies into neat little tree, wreath, and star shapes. Sprinkle colored sugar on them, bake, then carefully pack them so they can be tossed to hell and back and broken in the mail. Voila! Christmas tradition.

Speaking of tradition, I have my grandmother’s old fake Christmas tree. When I was little we used to go out in the forest and cut down a tree. Grandma had no patience for that though. She’d had enough of pine needles on her carpet. Then having to take it down based on fire hazard instead of your time scale. And let’s not forget the pitch.

For the record, I agree. When my kids were little, we did the real tree thing a couple of times so they’d have the experience, although we don’t live close enough to any place where you can cut your own. I just had to tell them about bundling up until I could barely move and traipsing through snow banks up to my waist. They thought that sounded great. As a kid, I thought it was too. Looking back at it, I can’t imagine why I thought so.

Anyway, the kids got real trees a couple of times, then they were happy to help me put together my grandmother’s antique tree because we could leave that thing up for over a month! And the real trees you buy in the city lots don’t really smell like the pine trees you got in the woods. They’re old and dry by the time you get them. I put little scent packets under the tree so it’ll smell like a tree, then go burn candles elsewhere in the house that smell like other things so you only smell the tree where you’re supposed to smell the tree. It drives Hubby nuts to have every room have a designated scent for the holiday season.

Antique trees are kind of a pain in case anyone’s wondering. Pretty, but a hassle. So one year Hubby got me a new tree. Pre-lit, multi-colored lights. It was nice. Except the next year I didn’t want multi-colored lights. So we got another one, pre-lit with white lights. Then the next year my son wanted a flocked tree. Then I had to have a small one for the kitchen. (I’m really not sure of the rational, just go with it, this is my holiday.And ‘small’ means four feet high, in case you’re wondering.) And I have two more tabletop trees. The one with multi-colored lights got donated somewhere along the line, but I still have the rest. Oh, and now I have two more medium size ones to go outside, and a potted Norfolk pine in the master bathroom. Plus I have a different box of ornaments for every tree. I should tell you about my hangup with wreaths sometime.

Hi, I’m Tori and I’m a Christmas Addict.

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