• Great Mom, or Pelted With Candy Corn?

    I volunteered to help with Drew’s Halloween party, and since someone else had signed up for paper products (damn!), I am bringing drinks.  On Halloween, day of sugar and tooth decay.

    I am a hardass about many things (see: TV, video games, computer time, chores) and drinks is on the list, at least for the boys.  They drink milk or water except for Porter’s occasional four ounces of coffee in the morning.  When there are special circumstances they’ll get soft drinks.  This happens when I buy them out of the blue as a huge surprise and they freak out and think “Whoa!  Mom DOES love us!”.

    I also use carbonated beverages as an upper, when I need the boys to be especially hyper.  For example, I got them all jacked up on Coke and Mountain Dew before the Maroon 5/ Counting Crows concert so they wouldn’t fall asleep and piss me off because geez, those tickets were not cheap.  It totally worked and Drew was able to appreciate the bass, Finn marveled at the drum set-up, and Porter commented on everything and asked a thousand questions.

    Anyway, I’ve purchased 21 waters to take to the class party.  Bill says I’m a huge party pooper and I should wear a protective gear because the kids are likely to revolt.  He says it’s a Halloween requirement that I ply them with a sugary soft drink or primary colored juice.

    I can’t do it.

    I told him they are lucky I didn’t buy V8.
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    Here’s a picture of the guys in last year’s costumes.   Drew didn’t look quite as pimpy once he ditched his Mac Daddy hat.

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    That may have been Finn’s last year to dress up– he seems unsure about this year, but I have a huge box of costumes in the attic and can make him into anything from a biker to a dancing girl in moments.

    Yesterday I came home to find Porter skating in the driveway.  He was wearing the tattoo sleeve, the mac daddy jacket, a necklace with a large peace sign dangling from it, and pants.  He told me he was going as “a peaceful tattooed roller-blading guy who’s voting for Obama.”

    He has certainly come a long way from his previous political beliefs.  That’s the beauty of childhood; you can change your mind on a whim without anyone saying you’ve compromised your principles.

  • The Electric Slide & Tiny Prints

    Prying information out of boys is like interrogating a particularly recalcitrant prisoner.  Often I get the best anecdotes purely by accident.  Bill has a passel of first cousins in Columbia, South Carolina, who are now getting married one by one.  We refer to them affectionately as “the dancing Glamores” because they showed up en masse at our wedding and proceeded to lead the entire reception in a risque version of the Electric Slide, and everyone is expected to participate in that activity at each subsequent nuptial.  The next one is in November, and the boys came home as I was scheduling it on the calendar.

    “Are they listed as “the dancing Glamores” in the phone book?” Drew asked.

    “No, we just call them that because of their dancing prowess, which is another name for talent,” I answered.  “They’re expert Electric Sliders.”

    “I know the Electric Slide!” Porter said.  “We do that in gym.”

    I don’t think I’ve written about the strange activities that pass for gym these days.  I’m befuddled by the fact that at other schools the kids are learning the rules of real games like tennis and lacrosse, while our children spend an inordinate amount of time on square pieces of wood with wheels, engaging in a game called “scooter hockey.”  Drew says that between the wheels, the flailing legs, the hockey sticks and the balls, it can get dangerous, so he usually scoots to the corner of the gym and spins in circles until he falls on the ground.

    But although the boys cannot stand learning the Electric Slide, it clearly has real world application, so I told them to pay attention because they’d be needing those skills soon.

    “But it’s such a joke, Mom.  The coach is like, kick your leg higher, Glamore,” Finn complained.

    “You don’t even go to that school anymore,” Porter said.  “When I do the Electric Slide I wiggle my butt and the girls laugh.  But only when Coach isn’t watching.”

    “Dude, wiggling your butt is a major part of the dance,” I said.  “Keep it up.”

    Sounds like we have dancing Glamores of our own here in Alabama. They have until November to learn the steps and add their own style to the dance.

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    People write me asking me to review all sorts of things and generally I refuse, because the requests are generic, or the products have nothing to do with me and my family.  We don’t do princesses or baby toys, and organic baby food isn’t big at our house.  If you’ve invented a non-odorous soccer cleat, or a food that results in a friendly, cooperative teen, however, I’m your target audience.

    I did agree to review Tiny Prints cards because I am a paper product whore.  I’ll admit, when I first heard about Tiny Prints I pictured those wee frames with your baby’s footprint in it, and that is not at all what this company is about.  (To set the record straight, I don’t have any of those footprints, nor do I have any bronzed baby shoes.  I’m unsentimental like that.)

    Tiny Prints makes full sized cards for all occasions, including invitations, holiday cards, birth announcements and so forth.

    Here in the South people seem overly fond of flowery cards, in my opinion, but I have a definite bias against flowers in any form — fabric, wallpaper, upholstery, and so forth– except for real flowers themselves.  I especially liked the Tiny Prints funky holiday party cards, not because I ever throw a holiday party, but because the cards did not have a single poinsettia leaf on them, and that is a good thing.  You should check out the web site if you have an event in your future.

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    While I don’t have bronzed booties of my boys,  I do have a hunk of sand with three indentations I made at the height of my craftiness, years ago.  It was the end of a long, hot summer, and The Voice of Reason and I brought back sand from our annual beach trip, which was no small feat considering all the toddler gear we had to lug back as well.  She’d read about an “easy” project where you mix sand with concrete or plaster of Paris, pour it in a mold, have your child put a hand print in, and then save it for posterity.

    It seemed simple enough.

    But if you are going to do this, I’d pick a day where it’s about 70 degrees, and limit yourself to one well-behaved 10-year-old.  Somewhere I have a picture of us, which either 5 or 6 kids (we’re not sure if her youngest was born yet) and pails of plaster, bowls of sand and kids running amok.  There’s another picture, too, where we’ve come to our senses and brought the highchairs outside and put Drew and Porter in them so that we have two fewer boys running around.  I won’t speak for the Voice, but my padded bra is slung on the van, because it was well over 100 degrees and we were both sweating like big dogs.

    An outsider wouldn’t really be able to tell that the sand has three boys footprints in it, but by God, I’ve saved it, because it reminds me of a sweltering afternoon that was rescued only by juice boxes and a large gin and tonic.

    The fact that I can’t find the picture pains me.

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    Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Virtual Book Club #4

    (with many book suggestions!)

  • Anne Glamore: Master Mathematician

    This week we added the Maroon 5 and Counting Crows concert to our usual busy schedule of work, school and musical and athletic activities.  The concert didn’t start until 8 p.m., when the boys are usually winding down, so Tuesday afternoon I got them all jacked up on Coke and Mountain Dew so they’d be wide awake for the festivities.

    Drew kept his eyes glued on the bass player.  Porter dragged Bill all over the amphitheater in order to view the show from every possible angle.  Maroon 5 flashed green lasers over the audience from time to time, which drove Porter wild with jealousy, as his latest heart’s desire is a laser pointer that he can use to burn holes in things that he refuses to identify with more specificity.

    Finn stayed put, trying to achieve that “I know I appear to be with these parental units and little brothers but I don’t actually know them” look by remaining one foot in front of us at all times and refusing to look me or Bill in the eye when answering our questions.

    During the break between bands, Drew, Finn and I went to check out the T-shirts (we decided to find them cheaper on eBay) and on the way back the boys waited while I stood in the line and finally used the bathroom.  I saw a girl in Finn’s class and introduced myself before ducking into a stall.  Upon hearing this, Finn came undone, and made it clear that my role was to ignore her, not to approach her, smile at her or engage her in conversation so help me God.

    Finn and his friend must have talked about me at school the next day.  He reported that I “said some highly inappropriate things” while waiting in line for the bathroom.  Sure, I was reminiscing about the days before the amphitheater had seats everywhere, and had a large lawn in the back where you could toss a blanket and relax and listen to the music, but I wasn’t talking to a seventh grader about this. I was chatting up the other ladies in line.  About nineteen years ago Bill and I had gone with a group of people to a low key concert of the Jimmy Buffet or James Taylor ilk, and we spent the entire concert macking on a blanket under the stars with a live soundtrack below.  Occasionally we came up for a sip of beer and a bite of fried chicken but mainly it was lips and tongues and Sweet Baby James.

    The other ladies in the bathroom line had similar tales to tell, although they may have been smooching to Randy Travis or Metallica, and I think Finn and his friend are just jealous that they are going to have to drape themselves over hard stadium seats to make out (when that time comes) instead of laying back on the grass, swatting mosquitoes, assuming they notice them, which they won’t.

    This week has also been dominated by Algebra, which is Finn’s most challenging class this semester.  For a few weeks Bill was in charge of ensuring that Finn was employing appropriate study habits, while I checked up on the duo.  However, when Finn brought home a couple of bad grades and was nonchalant about them, Bill freaked out to the Nth degree and I decided that Bill was too personally invested in Finn’s success.  We switched kids and he’s now in charge of Drew and Porter’s fourth grade curriculum (and my God, Porter, George Washington Carver did a lot of great things with peanuts but he did NOT write To Kill A Mockingbird, that was Harper Lee, who hung out with Truman Capote, who was sort of a peanut, so I can see how you might get confused).

    Finn has a big test today, and I am such a stellar mom that if he asks (and only if) I will write him out a practice test to help him get ready.  He has some big things riding on his grade this semester (like an apparatus that rings and dials numbers).

    He had a packed afternoon yesterday.  He got home from cross country around 4:30 and I dropped him at the high school so he could play drums at the football game at 5:00, and he returned around 8:30.  By then I had thirty math questions written out, along with my answer key.  All my algebra from the 1980’s has come flooding back, so if you find yourself butting heads with an equation that contains a variable and it needs solving, or maybe graphing on a number line, or you need to apply the distributive property, reduce the numbers down to the least common denominator and solve for X, head back over here because I can help you.  My talent is wasted here, though, because algebra never comes up in the law, or at the grocery store, or while doing laundry.  I haven’t told Finn that.

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    Hot tip for the day:  Any number to the 0 power is 1.  I have no idea why.

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    Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom:It’s Good News, So Why Am I Crying?

  • Why You Should Buy Plenty Of Birthday Hats

    Because you’ll need more than one for every head.

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    Drew steadies his boob while setting out the milk.
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    Porter models the Birthday Hat Mohawk

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    Ladies wear mohawks, too.

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    Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Tackled By Football