Archive | Parenting RSS feed for this section

The 20-Mule Team Saved The Day

8 Feb

They were on their last life line.

I thought they were done for … but they made the ultimate comeback. One by one falling in line giving it everything they got.

Two teams. Multiple efforts. One field. One battle. One winner.

And that was me.

This SuperBowl weekend while everyone was cheering on Lady Gaga and the Falcons to take down Brady and The Patriots, I was involved in my own battle.

The Guat vs. The Ants.

It’s supposed to be a seasonal thing where they come for a couple of days during summer, stalk up and then run away and hide in their awesome bachelor pad with their queen. Chillin’ on sugar and sweet nectar water. Seasons meant nothing to them. They were on the year-round system. And nothing seemed to stop them. Not even the power of a ZipLoc Bag. Not. Even.

Windex, bleach, soapy water, and then the kryptonite of all kryptonite for ants and bugs and innocent eyeballs … RAID! Yup RAID! One spray and that’s it paralysis for life. But these bastards were ruthless. These were not your ordinary ants. These were Bionic Ants! Hanging out with Lindsey Wagner and the 6-Million-Dollar Man, and laughing at me as they attacked Cheerios, MiniWheats, Skippy Peanut Butter, Quaker Granola Bars. Things that were still wrapped and boxed, they attacked. They weren’t even going for sugar anymore it was beyond sugar now. They were all up in my Nature’s Own Wheat Bread, and Rold Gold pretzels. So, I resorted to storing things in the fridge, for fear I’d have nothing left. I mean who has to put Wheat Thins in their refrigerator?

Me! Yeah, Me.

So, when I brought home five boxes of Girl Scout Cookies I knew this madness had to end. I asked a few moms if they’d ever encounter such madness and I found answers.

I brought in the secret weapon.

image

🙂

Borax! And The 20-Mule Team.

I had no idea of its existence, or of its MacGyveresque properties.

It. Was. On!

I concocted may magic solution of warm water, sugar, and Borax. I soaked cotton balls in that sweet poison and laid them out wherever they roamed. I found them hoarding an unopened and hermitically sealed bag of jelly beans on the third shelf of the pantry, dropped four cotton balls, and walked away.

A couple of hours later they abandoned the jelly beans and were in a cotton ball mosh pit of ecstasy, which for a minute made me doubt the effectiveness of this so called Borax. But I waited and, let Borax handle my business. I waited.

And waited.

I watched Lady Gaga rock that stage at half time and they were still under attack mode.

24 hours. I thought I’d give it 24 hours.

So, when I woke up in the morning, I opened the cupboard, hoping, praying for the destruction of these Ninja Warrior ants. But I saw nothing.

The party was over.

Only two lifeless ant corpses lay motionless on top of those cotton balls.

Fist pump in the air with a resounding YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!! Borax was now my superhero.

Although … I didn’t want to hold up the trophy just yet. I’m a little superstitious … I’ll wait a couple of days before removing my stash from the fridge. Because after all chocolate is chocolate.

Stay tuned.

I Hate Elections Part II, But Hockey Rocks

26 Sep

“I needed to know that regardless of all the mistakes I had made or how lost I was, I was loved.” Lesley Carter from Bucket List Publications.

 

I know that this isn’t always the case with people, especially with some families, where instead of being supportive all they do is use your mistakes, failures, or setbacks to tear you down. They look for any opportunity to push you down, instead of lift you up.

I get that not everybody has a family that’s got their back. I get it. The gossiping and behind-your-back plots that come straight out of a telenovela. I understand. It happens. So it was vitally important for me to lift my son’s spirit when he got word of his Student Council results.

To recap … Pajama Day/No Homework Week, and Pick Up Trash candidates seemed to clinch the two spots. He was heavily on a downer because of it, disappointed and definitely feeling beat down.

And while I was trying to find the right words to let him down easy, I found out there weren’t any. I saw it in his face and felt it in his chest when I hugged him.

So I had an after-school-special moment with him on Saturday about how courageous he was to put himself out there and read his speech. Not many adults can stand in front of a group and read a speech. Not everybody can do that. Not everybody is brave enough to put their ideas out there and it might not feel like it, but he was still awesome.

The fact that he cared enough about his school to try and make a difference was pretty cool. I admired that. I appreciated that he genuinely cared. It wasn’t for popularity. It was because he thought his ideas could help the school.

“Well, I guess there’s always next year,” he said.

“Yup, there’s always next year,” I replied.

And then I gave him all the love I had in that big hug in the parking lot. I wasn’t aware at the time, but I was doing exactly what Lesley Carter had said she needed … to feel loved regardless of the circumstances, just that you would feel loved no matter what happened.

I was worried that love wouldn’t be enough to help him bounce back, this weekend. But after his amazing defensive performance in his first back-to-back hockey game, I’d say he was definitely back.

img_6080-2

He didn’t let the bad news of yesterday effect his moment of today. He had left the Student Council elections in his rear view mirror, and when he got on the ice, he had a clear-eyes-full-hearts moment that lasted the entire weekend. The fact that his sister got him a chocolate doughnut with sprinkles also seemed to help.

 

 

America Ninja Warriors On The Playground

17 Sep

Feeling inspired by all the American Ninja Warrior madness, I decided to take my kids out for Worldwide Day of Play! Not that the Guats needed an official excuse to go outdoors, but having a Day of Play celebrated across all Nickelodeon Channels … well that just had Playground America Ninja Warrior written all over it.

I can’t tell you how inspired and addicted my kids are to that show. I feel grateful that they get pumped up after watching stuff like the Olympics, Spartan Races and America Ninja Warrior. As they watch, they’re leaping, running, climbing, and stretching across their kid-made pillow infused obstacle course in the living room. I like that they feel like they can come out in their own Gatordae commercial and that they push each other through these imaginary obstacles and time limits.

I used to wonder what kind of kids I would have when they were still in diapers. Whether they would be avid sports fans and enjoy the Saturday college football rituals, volleyball at the beach, 5K mini runs, Olympic TV watching marathons, or catching a game at the stadium. I was hoping they would be, but you never know.

So when they cheered on athletes during the Olympics that made me smile, when they root for the Kings on the ice it feels good, when they  raise their arms in the air and scream as our team scores a touchdown it warms my heart, but when they created their own obstacle racing adventures on the playground and crowned themselves champions because they  conquered Mount Midoriyama I was high-fiving them all day. When they fell off the course and splashed in the imaginary pool, I enjoyed hearing their post interview, explaining what they think went wrong and how they were going “to try harder next year”. However I will say that the monkey bars still leave me with tiny calluses … My badges of honor.

So … regardless of whether we had an invitation, The Guats celebrated Worldwide Day of Play the America Ninja Warrior way. Hope you guys got out too.

 

 

Starting This Year on a Good Note … The Justin Timberlake Kind

24 Aug

And so it begins …

 

Another year of firsts …

The older kids playground and then entering kindergarten. Two kids, two sets of Ticonderoga No.2 adventures and I felt both excited and little anxious about this new season. As you all know last year’s academic year with Miss Viola Swamp was a challenging one filled with bite-your-tongue-and-pick-your-battle moments so we’ll see how this year pans out. New teachers, new experiences but I’m not so much worried about teachers this time around as something different came up.

Not a bad concern, just a parenthood observation.

As a parent you know they’re getting older because their pants and shirts and socks don’t fit them quite right anymore, getting a little snug. So you make a trip to Target. You notice their little faces and the expressions are still the same, but they’re not so little anymore.

And you realize the season is about to change. Granted it’s not a giant step into middle school, high school, or college and you’re not balling your eyes out, but it’s still a step ahead and you pause because you’re actually feeling it. You’re feeling the step and the growth right in front out you. Not in a slow motion, but just right in front you and you caught it. The kind of moment you want to save in those mason jars.

Pride and smiles because they seem to be on the good path. You’ve done a good job … so far. They know when to act crazy silly and when it’s serious Crayola Crayon time. So as always, first day of school love-you-you-can-conquer-the-world-notes in their Star Wars and Minions lunchboxes and a great feel good song to start the day, the kind that rocks you into a good mood and good grove. Ready for anything that third grade and kindergarten can throw your way. Starting this year on a good note …

 

The Justin Timberlake kind. It was a unanimous decision, we’ve been listening to it all week. Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

Discover Challenge: Shared Journeys

1 Aug
IMG_4704 (2)

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Discover Challenge via The Daily Post

 

Changing The Current

20 Jul

It’s the downfall of every  parent.

You have your plan …the  snacks, a good attitude, and the sunscreen. You think you’re set. Until … the lines.

long-lines-at-disneyland-e1381152445575

Duuuuuude.

You’re there to celebrate …birthdays, anniversaries, milestones, vacations. All that.

And you thought you’d hit a couple of snags here and there, but when this happens and ugh … you just feel that vein in your forehead ready pop during your George Costanza moment.

Now mind you, I was prepared for it. I even prepared my kids for it, so when we encountered a 55 minute wait at the Radiator Springs Attraction at Disney’s California Adventure I was totally on top of it. I knew there would be a battle for the spot in front of the chain, for the one next to the rails so that climbing would be possible, for the spot in the shade, for the spot in the sun, for the spot in front of me, for the spot next to the wall, for the spot with of view of the attraction.

I knew there would be a lack of patience running rampant throughout the park and with the heat in the 90s I prepared. I did. I had all the snacks and the positive vibe going on, but nothing can really suck the air out of your balloon like long lines and tired kids.

And I witnessed this happening in multiple languages throughout the park, but the one Dad rubbing his head and having a George-Costanza-Serenity-Now! moment  … he seemed to be having the toughest day yet.

The amount of pressure used to rub his forehead was the first clue and his 14-year-old son was the second. Had the cause and effect right in front of me.

I could totally see this happening and I nodded my head like … yeah I know, I know.

But luckily for me I never got to that point that day. I was able to salvage some moments that could have really turned gruesome in that heat.

Thanks for the deep breathing and peaceful talks Deepak Chopra OnDemand.

But aside from this meditation guru helping me find the Zen, two complete strangers helped keep things in the right frame of mind.

We met these two lovely ladies that just happened to get in line with us. They saw the birthday buttons on my kids and began conversation. It was regular stranger-nice-day-good-luck conversation. But when we got on the rapids ride laughter ensued with all of us and all the waiting in line from the morning faded as we enjoyed moments of unexpectedness and fun on that raft.

These ladies had such a good vibe, and were totally digging our laughter fest, that everyone on that raft gelled.

The rest of the day followed the same pattern and I was glad to have met those two ladies. The universe had put us on the FastPass tip and we bumped into them, helping to improve the rest of our day. It’s really too bad that the father of the teenage boy hadn’t met them earlier as well. Things might have turned out differently for him. Never know.

So while reflecting about the day’s events, I remembered those two ladies and hoped that the universe had paid them back for crossing our path. Conversations with strangers are something I don’t do often, especially when I’m with my kids. Sometimes things get weird, like that time at Michael’s Craft Store when this guy swore I was a spy and was upset because he thought I had overheard his conversation with headquarters and knew I had told “her” to do “it.” I didn’t know who “it” or “her” were,  I almost had to call security.

But this time … this time the conversation changed the current of our flow. Their kindness and vibe was a good thing that day and I was grateful.

 

 

Extra Cherries …

16 Jul

It never gets any easier, people say it does. But it doesn’t. It hurts just as much today as it did six years ago and you just have to live with it.

It’s been six years since my Dad passed away and it’s always a tough week as I celebrate my daughter’s birthday one day and remember my Dad’s passing the next. I try to celebrate his life instead of agonizing about his death and why he got sick, but I end up just missing his presence everywhere I go that day.

In smelling his last bottle of cologne he left on the bathroom counter, or hearing the few messages he left on the answering machine, I still feel a sense of closeness. But most of the connection I get is from the stories and adventures we had together.

Like when I used to visit him at work back in my elementary and junior high school days. I’d have to sit in a booth, or at the counter while he was picking up his check or something. He worked two jobs a lot of the time. This one seemed more fun to me since I was able to eat all the cherries I wanted.

I’d wait for him, checking out the tiki torch lamps, totem polls,  the pink, green, and yellow drink umbrellas hanging out by the green olives, and the rest of the Hawaiian decor that filled the dimly lit room.

 

 

Their specialty was the the Hawaiian-style spare ribs, which were pretty awesome but not my favorite.

I’d sit down and look at the menu pretending I was a customer. I’d say hi to the manager and everyone setting up, and he’d ask me … “You want something to drink? A Shirley Temple?”

I’d smile.

“Yeah,” I’d say.

He’d smile and then walk behind the bar to fix it up. It’s a simple drink really, but I’d always thought it was super special concoction he had created just for me. He’d bring it out in a tall glass, with an umbrella. He’d put a small napkin on the counter, place my drink on it, and then tap the counter.

I’d smile when I saw it.

Extra cherries.

He’d always put extra cherries in it. We’d talk for a minute while I sipped my drink, and most of the conversations escape me at the moment. I don’t remember whether we talked about my day, his day, or if I needed money for sneakers. I don’t remember if he gave me any advice or if we cracked jokes, but we must have because it feels that way.

But the one thing I do remember were all the Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers I shared with him.I remembered the Hawaiian shirts he had to wear as part of his uniform and how he hated them years later, how he never wore a Hawaiian shirt ever again. Even when we went to Hawaii. He said he had worn enough of those to last him a lifetime. I thought they were cool though, I still have one of his in my closet.

We’d sit at the counter or in the booth and it felt cool just to hang out with my Dad for a minute.

When I finished my drink and we had to be on our way, he’d ask if I wanted another.

I’d smile because I knew extra cherries were part of the deal.

That was my Dad, he was an extra cherries kind of guy, and these were the things I thought about all day, and a sadness and hurt filled up my heart that night because he was gone and things would have been so different if he were still here, and my kids missed out on getting to know their grandpa.

But I guess that would mean that I would have to be the extra cherries kind of person in their life.

My Dad was great at it. Me? I’m working on it.

Buen Camino …

 

 

Introducing Me To Clint Eastwood

18 Jun

On quiet nights like this I miss seeing his briefcase by the door, his white butcher coat and shirt laying on the armrest, and the smell of the coffeemaker percolating the night’s brew. Night time coffee and HBO on a Saturday night. That was him.

Tonight it’s quiet, no briefcase, no white coat, no baseball caps, no coffee percolating and no HBO talk. Just me and some laundry.

I passed by the CVS the other day and saw all the Star Wars Father’s Day cards, I saw the funny ones with pets, the ones with fishing poles, golf clubs, and cartoons. I still read them, but it hurt. It hurts to buy cards he’s not going to read or keep in his briefcase. It hurts missing out on conversations about life and Father’s Day dinners.

dad over me fathers day

At times like this when breathing becomes hard because you miss someone so much, I find comfort in storytelling. Story remembering, really. I try to write as much as I can now so that my kids will be able to see how I saw my father and how I felt. So that my kids will know their grandfather had a good heart, that he had problems too, but that he tried. He tried and he kept his heart in tact during the process.

He suffered the loss of his Dad too, just when he was 10, and his life couldn’t have been easy, but he tried his best. He battled depression during my youth and adulthood, and often felt like giving up, but he still tried.

Adventures. Staycations. HBO marathons. Superbowl games. Boxing matches. Supermarket trips. Baskin-Robbins outings. Movie discussions. Costco adventures. Theater excursions. Joke telling stories. And talks. Lots of talks.

Sometimes the missing out is the worst part … my kids missing out on him, missing out on creating their own adventures with grandpa. So I’m hoping the storytelling will create a good picture. I’m hoping they’ll get to know him through my stories and through their grandpa’s adventurous and humorous spirit that lives inside of them.

He liked Westerns. He liked Clint Eastwood. So I found it interesting that Clint would be on TV the night before Father’s Day.

I found it comforting to know that I was watching one of his favorites, while folding laundry in the night time quiet. I figured he might be having a cup of coffee. Black. Two sugars. And remembering stories about me, remembering my dreams, remembering my laugh, remembering all the Father’s Day cards in his Samsonite briefcase, remembering how he introduced me to Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood … he turned out to be all right.

Happy Father’s Day …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Earned A Couple More … But That’s O.K. They’re worth it

10 Jun

Some people say that they sneak up on you, that you have no idea where they came from.

Dude, so not true on my account.

I have knowledge of all there whereabouts. I knew exactly when they showed up and why. I wasn’t surprised. Weirded out, maybe. Worried a little? Yeah, maybe at first. But as more started trickling in I thought … dude it’s becoming an epidemic. I might need to purchase a bottle Nice N’ Easy.

But no.

I’m sticking to the salt and pepper look of my long curls.

I earned one this week. A couple actually. Sadness, happiness, and concern all at once.

I had a parent moment as my youngest graduated preschool this past week. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. I mean I knew it was important, but didn’t think it would give me pause. I saw all the Facebook posts from people about their kids moving up a grade or graduating and I thought … hmph that’s cool. But nothing registered.

Then as I saw my own, walking down the aisle in her purple cap and gown, it hit me. She’s going to be walking down that aisle at age 18 soon. She’s going to be heading off to college before I know it, and then life.

I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want it going fast. Did it go fast?

People say it goes by fast, but so far I’m feeling every day. Thus the gray hairs. I notice them. It happened when my son graduated as well. I got a little parent-y.  I thought it was a one-time thing, but nope. It hit me again. And I needed a moment. Some time to bottle it up in a mason jar and close that lid tight.

I thought about how far she’s come, how she curls the J in her name, how she scales that rock climbing wall with no problem now, how she brings something to show-and-tell and says that’s it’s fragile, how she has friends and talks about her adventures, how she shares or high-fives her friends to make for an awesome moment, how she paints more than just snakes now, there are houses and trees and rainbows and sun, and me in those pictures, how she runs faster now and is able to reach the pedals on the mini bikes.

I look at how far she’s come and I see the gray hairs on my head and I know that so far … so far I’ve done good job. I earned a couple more, but they’re worth it.

 

IMG_4772

Lost and Found

28 May

Sometimes you give it 100% and feel like you failed anyway. It’s the Parenthood mantra.

People don’t like to admit their failures. I don’t know, they want to feel like they can be on the cover of Parents Magazine, looking like the weather chick on your local news with three kids in matching outfits, harvesting their organic produce and skipping in their garden. They want people to see them that way.

But it’s all good. I’m not one them. I’m a Failure Survivor. The gray hairs on my head are the scars that prove it. Parenthood is both a joy and a battle.

But most of the time at the end of the day you’re so exhausted that you forget about some of the joys that warmed your heart throughout the day. You forget about the small victories that took place during the day because the failures tend to overshadow such things, which is why practicing gratitude is so important when you’re a parent. Gratitude and finding the funny, those have been my compasses throughout these parenting years.

They help find things that get lost.

Whether it’s in the moment, or at night when it’s just you, Netflix and a cup of tea your compasses help you remember.

Moments of gratitude. They help when chocolate is gone.

 

IMG_4581

Celebrating at the finish line.

 

Like today … I remembered about the front-door parking at the stadium, the smiles of making it to the starting line for the first wave of the race, the laughter and dancing of the finish line party, and the hugs of knowing it was a good Parenthood day.