Thursday, September 20, 2012

Monkey Cupcake Shirt and Surveys

I knew the honeymoon wouldn’t last forever. The morning shitshow has started, but now there are two stars of that show versus the one that I’ve been dealing with for the last few years. It’s so wonderful to have both girls in big-kid school.

Yeah right.

It is my feeling that we are all old enough and big enough to get ourselves ready for the day. I allow the girls to choose their own outfits, I simply ask that they adhere to their schools' dress codes… meaning “cover the important stuff.” I allow them to make their own choices for several reasons. First, when they look back at pictures of how they look I can say, “That was all you, baby!” And second, I imagine that I will not be involved in any drama in the morning.

Not so.

The only rule I really have is that you can’t wear the same thing more than once in a week. I know this goes back to my own childhood… I just don’t want anyone making fun of my girls for being poor and only having one shirt. We know kids can be cruel so I try to save them from commentary any way I can.

When I got home on Monday, Spice was wearing her monkey cupcake shirt (technical term). Because I had been gone, I immediately did several loads of laundry. The monkey cupcake shirt was washed and put away. Wednesday morning, Spice wants help choosing an outfit. We picked one out and I went off to make lunches and breakfast. She appears wearing the monkey cupcake shirt. I told her, “You wore that already this week, you can’t wear it again today.” She stomped off to change but still didn’t wear the outfit she insisted I help her pick out.

Then this morning, I’m doing my hair and she’s at the bottom of the stairs, “Hey Mama, can I wear the monkey cupcake shirt?” OMG, REALLY?!?! Step away from the fucking monkey cupcake shirt, Spice! I knew I would somehow be punished for doing the laundry during the week.

Meanwhile, I was a bit late getting Sugar up. It’s been nice this year that she takes a shower every day. For the first time EVER, I don’t have to lecture her about having a dirty face at the bus stop. Every. Single. Day.

Anyway, I got her up and apologized for being late then headed off to finish putting myself together. There I was, blow drying my hair upside down (still waiting for the volume and lift that procedure promises) and I see feet. Sugar feet. Unshowered Sugar feet. I stood up and asked her what was the matter.

Sugar: Can I fill this out? [As she’s shoving her iPod in my face]
Me: What is it?
Sugar: It’s a survey. Can I fill it out? It’s really important. They picked me!
Me: No, I don’t know who it’s from. And hey, haven’t you showered?
Sugar: Well, just because I do, doesn’t mean I have to shower every day. Can I fill out the survey?
Me: No. I don’t know who it’s from. Go get ready for school.
Sugar: It’s from The Weather Channel. Can I fill it out?

I scowled and gave her the look that said, “Run fast before Mama loses her shit.”

Now I’m in the kitchen, lunches and breakfast in process when EN comes out to “help.” Mind you, lunches and breakfast were his jobs so I had help in the morning. As is typical, he wandered off. So I followed to ask if he’s heard all the morning drama. I told him about the survey and he laughed in my face. In fact, he giggled because Sugar’s ability to drive her mother nuts is nothing short of hilarious.

So I sprayed him with my perfume. If nothing else, when he’s sitting around contemplating all he has to do for the 17th day in a row, he will smell me.

Back to the kitchen and cereal is poured. Spice showed up in pants that fit her last year. I mentioned that and she said she didn’t care, she was comfortable. Then I said, “We still need to brush your hair.” She said, “No I put a headband in, it’s good.”  

At that, I had enough. I grabbed my purse, gave kisses goodbye and headed out the door.

I’m sure we’ll do this all again tomorrow. 

Ice Princess

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lessons from the South

I have returned from my weekend in Alabama, where I went to attend the wedding of EN's youngest sister. As always, I learned many new things... 

Lesson 1: 
Sissy carries several coozies in her purse with her when she goes out, so she always has one for her beer. Because she’s so young and cute, people overlook the oddness of this tendency and make comments like, “In all my years of waiting tables I've never seen anyone do this!” with a wink and a smile. 

When I shared this story with EN, he was initially impressed with his sister not wanting her beer to get warm. He was deflated when I told him that the real reason she does that is because she doesn't want her hands to get wet from the bottle.

Lesson 2: 
Gay male wedding planners do exist in the South. And his name is Bruce. I had the good fortune of meeting Bruce years ago when Stepmommy and Senior got married. Our first meeting was memorable because I was left behind at the house to wait for Bruce to come set up for the rehearsal dinner. I started to panic when no one showed up. When Bruce finally arrived he looked around for his staff and asked where they were. I shrugged and he called them to discover that they were setting up IN THE WRONG HOUSE. 

When I saw him this time, I was delighted to find that he still was as twinkly as ever. I laugh simply being around him. Watching him in action makes me howl. It seems as though he’s always late, so he’s forever rushing around. He flipped a tablecloth and knocked the pull cord off the ceiling fan. He scrambled around for it, held it up to his ear and said, “Ohhh, mah earrin’!” He yelled at his help and had to scramble back to his shop for the wedding flowers, but the man sets a mean table and makes killer chocolate covered strawberries (stuffed with bits of cheesecake).

Was never a fan of orange before, but this
looked stunning!

Even though I watched Bruce put this together, I could
never do this myself. I want to bring the picture
to a store and have them make me one!

Lesson 3: 
The craziest items can be bought in bulk. Stepmommy does not “need” glasses but she can’t see to read, so she stocks up on readers. By “stock up” I mean she buys them in bulk from QVC. She leaves them scattered throughout the house and her car, because you just never know when you might need a pair. She even keeps a basket of them on the counter in the kitchen so she can match her outfit. I thought this was hilarious, Bruce about wet himself when he got a load of that.

Lesson 4: 
Crack can be a tasty treat. Stepmommy’s sister-in-law puts together this concoction of Cap’n Crunch, mini marshmallows, peanut butter and white chocolate that is TO DIE FOR. They call it crack. I brought some home yesterday and Spice declared it “delightful.” Sugar said, “You need to tell Angie she’s awesome.” I’m sure this stuff won’t have a long shelf life here.

Lesson 5: 
A pinky wave tends to bite you in the ass within minutes. I was having a nice chat with Stepmommy’s brother and wife (the crack dealer) when I was called away for pictures. Tim had the audacity to give me a little smirk and a pinky wave when I groaned and got up from the table. When I saw that he was called out moments later I was thrilled to return the smirk, but sad that my little pinkies are unable to wave as nicely as his.

Lesson 6:
Southern folk really do say “Bless her heart.” The first person I heard do this was Bruce, right before he talked shit about a difficult customer. I couldn't help telling everyone how much that line pleased me and that I was going to use it on a regular basis. Later on, someone said, “Bless my heart” before she made fun of herself. I told her I didn't realize that one could bless their own heart and she said, “I am Samantha and can say whatever I want.” We laughed and she continued on with her funny stories.

Lesson 7: 
Southern women can cook the shit out of food. I ate more good food than I can shake a stick at. I am now anxiously awaiting emails with recipes for the aforementioned crack, chicken soup, grape salad, white gravy, and cornbread. In fact, before the weekend I had no idea one could make cornbread without a mix. I did say that out loud and am pretty sure I heard a few “bless her hearts.” 

Lesson 8:
It is possible to change your ways. This weekend I ate several items I wouldn't normally try. I enjoyed the sausage and egg breakfast casserole so much that my plate of seconds counted as thirds too. I tried marinated cheese, which I normally wouldn't be in the same room with. I can’t lie though, I’m guilty of fishing out only the chunks of cream cheese.

I’m also usually unwilling to let someone else drink out of my glass or bottle. However, when a stressed-out Stepmommy goes flying by, I absolutely let her have some of my beer. Several times. I am a sharer after all.

Lesson 9: 
It’s never a good idea to start drinking at 11 am and stay up until 3 am. I’m glad that I think I’m a rock star, but clearly am not. I contend that I only opened that first beer as a service to Stepmommy.

Lesson 10:
They grow some big fucking snakes in the South. I was on my way out with Sissy on Sunday and we had a run-in with a 15 foot boa constrictor on the sidewalk. I immediately put my ass under my elbow and took off for the house while screaming “HOLY FUCK!” Second lesson here, it is possible to swear in the South on a Sunday without lightening striking.

Lesson 11:
Southern folk take their football seriously and are not shy about asking to watch the game during a wedding reception.

Lesson 12:
A function is as much fun as you make it. I tremendously enjoyed myself with people that I really love being around… and those I don’t like so much? I steered clear. It made for a wonderful day and I stayed out of trouble.

Lesson 13:
You are always left wanting more when you spend time with people that you love. 

Ice Princess

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Flying the Coop

Every once in a while I take off without the family. Sometimes the trips are for pleasure and sometimes I’m off to help a friend (or family member) in need. This weekend I’m flying south to see EN’s youngest sister get married.

We talked a long time about this trip: should we all go, should EN and I go, should just he go? When you have a house and kids and pets, traveling isn’t as easy as it used to be. There’s endless coordination of caretakers, school schedules and kennels, plus the expense of it all.

The decision came pretty easily when we realized that EN might be able to get ONE day off, which meant we’d leave Friday and come back Sunday. Given that you can’t really get there from here, which would have meant that we arrived there around 10 pm Friday, only to fly home Sunday morning. I’m too old for that shit. Plus EN’s company has started to force people to work on weekends… So it was decided, for sanity’s sake, that I would fly to Alabama to represent our portion of the family.

Fortunately, this is a casual wedding (leather bustier and daisy dukes were approved as attire by Stepmommy just this morning! No not really!!) and a quick trip, so there isn’t a lot I need to worry about. Except…

Except that I am German and unable to leave a dirty house. I am unable to leave behind mountains of laundry. So tonight, after I feed the girls and attend an orientation meeting at Spice’s school, I will be cleaning and doing laundry. Of course I couldn’t start the laundry any earlier than today, the baskets would have refilled already.

And I will need to pay bills. This is always done on the last day before I leave as well. It’s my theory that if something dreadful should happen to me while I’m gone, EN will have approximately one month to get his shit straight and figure out who needs to be paid and when. By then, perhaps the life insurance will have kicked in as well and he’ll be on easy street.

I will also need to make lists for EN. He’ll need to know what’s going into the lunch boxes, when sneakers and musical instruments need to go to school, who has birthday parties this weekend, homework. Holy crap, until I started typing this, I didn’t realize how much information lives in my head now that we have two kids in full-day school.

I spent part of the week contemplating what to bring and have a list in my head. I had my nails done and hit the drug store for a few items today. I impressed myself by remembering to buy a wedding card.  Last time I flew to a wedding I made a last-minute panicked trip to Walmart to buy a card.

So tonight I prepare, tomorrow I pack. Tomorrow night I’ll be with EN Senior, Stepmommy and my favorite sister-in-law. The bride and groom will arrive on Friday and the wedding is Saturday. Sunday will be relaxing and Monday I fly back home. 

There have been a flurry of texts and emails this week as we talk about the upcoming nuptials and how excited we all are to see each other. I sent this to my sister in law:

She said, “I’ve never had a mugshot taken before.” I said I hadn’t either and that I thought it would be a nice “first” for us to experience together. A good time is bound to be had by all... 

Ice Princess  

Friday, September 7, 2012

We Heart School!

As Sugar has gotten older, she has stayed in love with school… despite the dramas of being sat on by an older student, then picked on by a group of girls that she had considered friends last year. However, her love for learning and school overrides the playground drama and she looked forward to the first day with breathless anticipation.

But she’s cool now. She lets her excitement show at home and will spend an hour showering, dressing, creating elaborate hairstyles (braids are hot this year, thank you Katniss! That's the first place I saw braids anyway!). As soon as she’s at the bus stop or around her friends, she’s cool as a cucumber. She doesn’t let the others see how much she loves this place called “school” and this process called “learning.”

I’ve always told myself that she is that way because she’s easygoing and loves to be around people. She loves to see old friends and make new ones. Any time she’s ever learned that there would be a new student in her class, she sets out to make the new kid feel welcome. There’s no one she won’t talk to. She even made an effort to befriend a severely handicapped girl we knew. Any time Sugar saw Michaela being wheeled down the hallway she’d run over and squeeze her hand and say hi, knowing full well that Michaela couldn’t see her, couldn’t respond, and probably had no idea what was going on. However, Michaela would smile at the physical contact of her hand being held, which Sugar processed as, “Michaela knows who I am and is happy to see me.”

She is a genuinely nice girl… she was born that way. That is not to say that she is “perfect,” I have blogged many times about the joys of her fighting with her sister, her head spinning when we do math homework, her forgetfulness. She is a spectacular human being armed with the gift of driving her mother batshit crazy on a regular basis. But that’s her job as a kid, right? To push her limits?

Spice is a different creature altogether. She’s sassy, rambunctious and one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Her school career has only just begun, but she’s adored the time she spent in preschool with Pinky and she loved kindergarten last year. I am blown away by her reaction to her new school, teacher and classmates.

Spice is in love with everything first-grade related. She is mad about her teacher and is already bringing her handmade cards with pencils duct taped inside them. I'm sure the card will be followed up with treasured rocks, leaves and used stickers. She talks about new friends within her class and running into old friends on the playground. She tells me about who gets in trouble in class and is quick to point out that she does not, in fact her behavior is excellent (her words).

She is attempting to rearrange her bedroom a bit so that it looks more like her classroom. She specifically mentioned that her books are on her shelf all wrong. That took me right back to being in first grade myself and discovering the school library. Like a fat kid loves cake, y’all… being surrounded by books makes me feel like a junkie getting a fix. I felt that way at six, still feel that way today. In fact, my six-year-old self loved that library so much that she came home and made little labels for the outside of her books and lined them up in alphabetical order. There may have even been check-out cards inside the books. If that doesn’t scream dork, I don’t know what does.

I’m dying, waiting to see if Spice will make labels and check-out cards for her books, or if she’ll just line them up in alphabetical order.

I loved school as a kid. In fact, I STILL love school. If I could find someone to pay my salary and have me be a student for a living I would do it. The only thing I hated about school was gym class and you don’t have to take gym to get a Masters-WIN/WIN!

I delight in hearing the stories from my daughters’ schools. Every day is an adventure and there is no end to the number of good things that happen. I wonder if I somehow, with my love of books and learning, passed this excitement on to them?

I’m fully aware that many others I know (even within my family) don’t have the love of school or value education as I do. I also know that at any given moment either of my girls could decide that they HATE school and the days filled with dancing unicorns and sparkly rainbows will end. I am the mother to a first and sixth grader… I know these are the easy years. I am hopeful though that if I keep listening and helping and working alongside them, they’ll want to keep teaching me what they’ve learned every day.

Supporting their educations and encouraging them to do well in school can be the one thing I did right as a mother. After all, isn’t education one of the most important parts of childhood?

Education is one of the few things in this world that once you’ve received it, no one can ever take it away from you.

Cherish every opportunity to learn new things. Even if that new thing is, “Don’t sit next to Tommy during lunch because he’ll sneeze boogers all over your sandwich and then you’ll be hungry all day.”  

Ice Princess 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Best First Day Ever

After weeks of shopping for clothes, supplies, lunch boxes and backpacks, the first day of school is finally arrived today. Ok, I lied… I didn’t spend WEEKS shopping for supplies and lunch boxes… I did that last week, when we finally got the supply list from Sugar’s teachers.

Let’s take a moment to discuss school supplies. It’s impossible to shop when school supplies are well stocked, because you haven’t yet received the list from the teachers. There are a thousand variations to binders, notebooks, pencils even. I know my luck. I will buy everything I think they’ll need and promptly lose the receipt. Then the school supply list will come out, and wouldn’t you know, everything I bought was WRONG and now can’t even be returned because the receipt is long gone.

And because I’m ridiculous in my way of thinking, I couldn’t buy lunch boxes or backpacks until we school supply shop either. Everything must be done at once. Why? Because that’s what makes sense in my world. Fast forward past the thousands of lunch boxes and backpacks we saw displayed over the summer to last Friday when I was finally willing to buy such items, and you’ll witness me shopping at four stores with Sugar and Spice in tow and NO DECENT LUNCH BOXES! No decent lunch boxes because they wanted the freakin’ PackIt lunch boxes they saw infomercials for all summer and Target was sold out. I know. A nice mother would have bought them via the infomercial and paid the exorbitant shipping costs. I know, I know…

Last night I was giddy with excitement to get back into the routine of regular bathing (regular pool swimming negates the need for a bath. Chlorine kills), bed times, etc. I nearly sang and danced through bathing Spice and following our regular bedtime routine. This is the first year that they are both in school full-time and since there is a 4 ½ year age difference, I am trying different bed times for them. Spice was tucked in at 8:00 and I told Sugar lights out at 8:30. They were so excited that bedtime was without issue. I’m smart enough to know that won’t continue.

We were up early and attempted our new routine. It was made somewhat easier by the fact that I worked from home today so I didn’t have to get myself ready. Aside from nearly forgetting to feed Sugar breakfast and having Spice taste test “chewy” (her word for it) milk, I think things ran pretty smoothly. Oh, then I realized after the bus left that I didn’t kiss Sugar goodbye. What kind of mother am I?

We headed off to see Spice get off the bus at her new school. Her school used to do a big “First Grade Parade,” and it wasn’t until last night that I found out they no longer do this but still invite the parents to see their first graders new classroom. Spice jumped off the bus and we went to her classroom. It was only afterwards, when I looked at pictures of her getting off the bus that I saw the anxiety all over her face. I wish I would have noticed it immediately, because then I wouldn’t have been so surprised by her behavior in her classroom.

Girl grabbed onto Mama and did not let go. I tried to lead her to the circle where the other kids were sitting, but she was having none of that. She clung to my hand and didn’t want to do much of anything for a few minutes. Her teacher noticed and said that she was about to sit down but had a special spot right next to her. BINGO. We stayed until the principal came onto the intercom and politely told the parents it was time to get the hell out.

We left and I was surprised I didn’t cry. It’s not that I wasn’t sad that my baby was in first grade, I definitely was sad seeing her off. I guess it had more to do with holding my own shit together so she didn’t see me upset. I can’t imagine that me bawling in front of her class would have helped her let go of my hand and join her classmates.

And EN says, “Wow I got a little choked up there.” WHAT? Why? Before we left Spice at the school, it never really hit home with him that for the first time in years, he was without someone to hang out with in the mornings. Since he works 3-11, he’s always kept the girls with him as long as he could… until they started “big kid” school versus daycare. Thankfully the daycare we used was pretty lax about letting the girls come in a little later even though most of their academic stuff was done in the morning. For the foreseeable future, EN now has mornings completely to himself. I’m sure MUCH will be accomplished.

I spent the day working from home, wondering if Spice got into the swing of things… Wondering if Sugar was sad that I didn’t kiss her good-bye, and suddenly the phone was ringing. It was Spice’s school. Despite the endless forms I filled out, there was some confusion regarding how Spice was getting home. I heard the story second-hand, from the secretary of the school. All I pictured was Spice arguing with them, hooting and hollering with her hand on her hip, telling them exactly what she needed to do. I was happy to get the “first call” out of the way on the first day. I immediately emailed her teacher to reiterate our schedule and to ensure that Spice had a good day and to make sure she hadn’t gotten irate discussing her transportation home.

This is part of the response I received from her teacher:

Hi Ice Princess,

It was nice seeing you today too. Thank you so much for coming and making Spice's first day extra special!

I know you realize that Spice will need a note if anything changes other than this schedule we have on file. Just pop a note in her homework folder for me, so will know in the morning and can give the note to the office. As always, if there is a change during the day that happens after Spice is here, just call the office and they will be sure to get that information to me and Spice at the end of the day.

I was so proud of Spice today. Absolutely no problems at all all day. And, I applaud her because she was the one who spoke up at dismissal when I told her she was going to the after school program she politely said, no not today, I think my mom will be picking me up today. She is so sweet!  She did not seem confused or dramatic at all, just said what she knew was right, what you had told her! She is just adorable!

Feel free to e mail me anytime. I don't look at it as being "high maintenance" ! I would never want a question to go unanswered.

Have a wonderful first night of first grade! See you tomorrow Spice.

Mrs. B

A few points:
  1. Yes, she is this nice in person.
  2. Pretty too.
  4. My kid has her snowed. 

Both girls called this the “Best First Day Ever.” I’m hopeful we’ll have a fantastical school year. 

Ice Princess