Cha-Ching!

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     They always say that you don’t see yourself the same way that others do, but do I look like a friggin’ ATM machine to you?  I don’t have a drive-thru lane, I don’t require a pin number, and I most certainly don’t regurgitate money.  So, why is it then that every time I turn around, someone is expecting me to shoot out money left and right?  I thought we sent our kids to public schools since that is what our hard-earned tax dollars go to support.  Ha!  So much for that theory.  

     Last year at the end of kindergarten, we were sent an order form for school supplies for the next year.  Each kid’s kit cost a whopping fifty bucks and included such randomly stupid things as Clorox wipes and boxes of Kleenex, which by the way, why am I paying for cleaning supplies and tissues for little Joe Schmoe’s boogers?  In addition to the supply list fees, we were also expected to pay $155 per kid for an “instructional materials fee,” which is about as clear to me as a window smeared with mud.  Since I have twins, that meant that my total was actually going to be $310.  I don’t know about you, but that seems like a shitload of money to me to shell out for something so obscure.  I decided to shoot an email to the district office for a better explanation of just what that particular fee covered.  The response I got back was, “It’s to cover the materials that are used in the classroom.”  Oh, well thanks for that completely vague explanation and for not clearing that up for me whatsoever. That would be like asking someone what a stop sign is, and they tell you it’s a sign that stops.  What the hell?!  Apparently, that was code for, “we don’t have a friggin’ clue what it covers.”  I actually waited until just yesterday to finally pay this ridiculous fee because I have such a problem with it.  I was hesitant because it makes me wonder if it’s really helping to fund some big wig’s luxury car or vacation home somewhere in the tropics.  I finally bit the bullet and paid, though, since I didn’t want my kids to be kicked out for being illegal aliens.

     And thank God we only live a few blocks from the elementary school so that we can walk.  When my kids get to middle school, though, they’ll take the bus, which costs a colossal $300 per kid!  I find this insanely expensive.  There was absolutely no fee at all to ride the bus when I was in school.  But apparently, I’m expected to shell out hundreds of dollars a year for my kids to bounce up and down and all around on a rectangular box on wheels, all while praying that they don’t fly right out of those pitifully unsafe lap belts.  Yeah, that’s really worth all that dough all right.    

     In addition to the school fees, there’s also all the millions of after-school activity costs.  I am flabbergasted by how people are able to afford to put their kids in five thousand different sports and activities. I mean seriously, each activity is anywhere from $75-$150, plus the cost of any extra equipment that is needed.  That adds up to a lot of freaking dough!  My kids would probably sign up for every possible thing under the moon if I’d let them, but I don’t.   I usually allow them to do two after-school activities at a time, and I think that’s more than enough.  They’re only gonna be six once in their lives, and they need some time to enjoy it.  (And I need some money to pay for it!)

     When I look at families around here who have four, five or even six kids, I am completely baffled.  I honestly don’t know how they do it. It makes me wonder if my kids’ friends’ moms are pimping themselves out on the street corner at night or if perhaps they’ve got Tony Soprano on their side.  Whatever the case, it’s becoming more and more clear to me that there really is no such thing as a free education.  Even though our property taxes are insanely high, we still are expected to dig even deeper in our pockets for all kinds of other school-related crap.  I really wish that old money tree in the backyard wouldn’t have dropped dead on us.  In the meantime, I guess I’d better go stake out my corner with all the other suburban hos….

The Costume Conundrum

     Since it is now officially Fall and also since the stores are all but shoving the merchandise down our throats, thoughts of Halloween keep creeping into my mind.   It’s gotten me to thinking about the yearly debacle we always seem to have when it comes to finding the perfect costume.  My daughter is typically a piece of cake when it comes to this department.  She usually chooses something easy that I can just order out of a catalog or buy from a store.  My son, on the other hand, is quite the challenge, since for the past three years, he has insisted on dressing like something that can only be handmade. What’s the big freaking deal, you ask?  This mama’s sewing capabilities are about as good as Paris Hilton’s singing abilities.  I suck so badly at it that I actually sewed the pocket shut when trying to repair a button on a coat one time.  So, yeah, it is a big freaking deal when your son insists on having the most imaginative get-up in town.

     The first year that I encountered this predicament was in preschool.  My husband and I must’ve listed every costume known to mankind when trying to get him to settle on something.  We were pushing Spiderman, Batman, and every other superhero under the sun, all to vehement cries that said no way in hell.  The child refused every single idea we came up with and announced pretty emphatically that he was going to be a leaf.  I have absolutely no idea where on earth the boy got this crazy notion, but he was dead set on being a piece of foliage. And he didn’t want to be just any old leaf either — oh no!  He insisted on being an oak leaf.  After hours of Google searching, I came to the dire conclusion that I had no other choice but to make this damn costume myself.  I ended up tracing and cutting two pieces of cardboard into the shape of a leaf and hot-gluing green felt to them. I attached the two leaves with a ribbon so that he could wear it like a walking billboard.  He was adamant that he wanted acorns attached to the leaves, so I also had to glue those little suckers on, as well. When all was said and done, it was truly the most half-assed-looking, pitiful leaf ensemble I’d ever seen — correction, it was the only leaf ensemble I’d ever seen.  Here, you judge for yourself:

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Nevertheless, the kid couldn’t have been more proud to strut his stuff in it. Sadly, he didn’t have the thing on at preschool for more than thirty minutes before acorns started falling off and one of the straps had snapped off his shoulder, resulting in some last minute emergency repairs before trick-or-treating that night.  

     Our next confrontation with the costume challenge was last year for kindergarten. Once again, my son rejected any type of costume that could be bought or slopped together.  Instead, he was dead-set on being a lightbulb, and like the year before, I found  no place on this planet whatsoever that sold a lightbulb outfit.  And because the kindergarteners would be parading through the school in their costumes and wearing them for the remainder of the day, using cardboard was not gonna be a viable option.  After days of agonizing and brain racking, I realized that I was gonna have to just suck it up and get out my needle and thread.  I went to a fabric store and bought a huge piece of foam and cut out two lightbulb shapes.  I then sewed white fabric around them and again made shoulder straps to attach the two shapes together.  This whole thing could then be slipped over his head, thus transforming him miraculously into a human lightbulb.  (Of course, I poked the shit out of my fingers throughout the entire process and even “accidentally” left a couple of red stains on the material as proof of all the blood, sweat and tears that went into its creation.)  At the request of my ingenious son, I took a sharpie and wrote “100 Watt” at the top of each bulb. We then wrapped the skinny bottom part in duct tape and stuck a battery-powered light underneath the costume.  Here was the final result:

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Surprisingly, it actually turned out incredibly cute, and he was by far the most creative costume in the parade.  

     This year, it seems as if he is continuing with this same tradition. He is bound and determined to cut his mama absolutely no slack whatsoever and has made up his mind to be a friggin’ t.v.!!!  So, it looks like the ole’ seamstress will be slaving away once again.  I suppose I gotta hand it to the kid for not being afraid to think outside the box.  He is definitely not what I would catagorize as boring.  The boy sure knows how to put the “wee!” in Halloween, and I gotta give him mad props for that.

My Little Pisser

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      Wonders, especially my twins, never cease to amaze me.  I swear, just when I think I might have seen it all, my kids go and do something that once again makes me stop dead in my tracks. Yesterday at the beach, my daughter did something that made me contemplate whether anyone can truly know what goes on inside the mind of a six year old.  

     As I was chatting with the nannies of my kids’ friends down by the water, my kids decided they wanted to go up to the beach playground.  Typically, this has never proven to be a problem in the past.  They play tag, they dig holes, and they do what kids do. Apparently, though, my daughter decided to do something that I wasn’t aware that kids do.  I was in the middle of a conversation when one of my daughter’s friends came running back from the playground to report the big story of the day.  

     It’s become a common little game amongst our possy of six year olds to steal the Cubs’ baseball cap of this one little boy in particular. It then turns into a game of keep away, whereby everyone is trying to steal the hat and run.  The owner of this hat just so happens to be the boy that my daughter has declared is her boyfriend., and for reasons unbeknownst to me, my sweet little innocent daughter, took it upon herself to steal the hat and pee in the freaking thing!  Yes, you read that correctly, and your eyes are not deceiving you.  She took the hat and used it as her own personal toilet.  I mean, seriously, what the??!! As soon as I was finally able to wrap my mind around the story that my daughter’s friend had just reported, I stomped my way on up to the playground to have a word with my little cap pisser.

     When I called my daughter over to me, I was a little surprised to see that Cubs hat boy was following right along behind her.  I tried to focus my attention on my daughter and the reason for this insane behavior, but I was having a hard time not being distracted by the fact that the kid was still wearing the pee–soaked hat!!  I asked him if he had at least rinsed the thing, and he claimed that he did.  Still, though, I would be washing that thing on super wash in scalding hot water if it were me!  

     I made my daughter come and sit back on the towel for a time-out next to me.  I wasn’t really sure what type of punishment this type of incident even warranted.  I was so flabbergasted as to what on earth possessed my child to do such a thing. We most certainly do not make it a habit to pee in other people’s clothing in our household, so I don’t know exactly where she even got the idea in the first place.  I finally got her to admit to me that she thought it would be funny. Honestly, I was just speechless.  This is something that a freaking frat boy does, not something you’d expect to see a cute little kindergarten graduate demonstrating.  I’m quite sure that this was not in the owner’s manual that came with my babies when they were born.  

     Because the new puppy was the biggest piece of collateral I could think of at that moment, I warned her that this was her first major strike against her and the quest to bring a dog into the family.  Three strikes equal no dog.  She knows I’m extremely disappointed in her behavior, but I think the dog threat is my best bargaining tool at this point.  Truth be told, I have to just make this crap up as I go, because who wakes up and thinks to herself, “Hmmm…I wonder how I can punish my kid for pissing in someone’s hat today?”

Graduation Day, Continued….

     Well, kindergarten graduation could not have been cuter!  All the kids had permanent grins plastered on their faces and seemed to be bursting with pride. To say that they were excited would be a severe understatement.

     Because my twins are in separate classrooms, it was a bit chaotic trying to bounce back and forth between the two rooms, but we managed to make it work.  We went to my son’s classroom first, where he immediately presented me with a tissue paper corsage that he’d made for me.  Even though it was incredibly HUGE and felt somewhat like a third boob, I proudly wore it on my sweater for the duration of the morning.  My daughter very sweetly gave hers to my mother-in-law.  We kicked off the celebration with an ice cream social, giving every kid a chance to drip chocolate all down their adorable little outfits.  Next, each child was presented with a “diploma” and given the opportunity to shake hands, high-five, or hug the teacher.  As expected, almost every girl gave a hug and every boy a high-five.  I had requested that the teachers somehow stagger the presenting of the “diplomas” so that we wouldn’t have to miss one of the twins’ big moments.  The finale of the morning came in the form of a performance of the song “New York, New York” in which they’d changed the words to “First Grade, First Grade.”  They sang their little hearts out and even had hand motions to go along with it.  

     As I sat there and watched these amazing little people before me, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh or cry, so, naturally, I did both. To add even more emotion to the whole ordeal, my daughter had lost another tooth last night, so watching that little gap-toothed mouth sing with such oomph was enough to just completely melt my heart. And then I glanced over to see my son concentrating so hard on his words and his movements that you would’ve thought he was on American Idol.  He was putting on the show of his life.  I couldn’t help but think about how much I simply adore this age. It was definitely one of those moments you just want to freeze-frame forever. Luckily, we videotaped almost every single minute, so we can do just that….

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Graduation Day

1213295148b5208o     I can hardly believe it, but my babies are graduating from kindergarten today!  I must’ve blinked and the time just fast-forwarded six years. People have always forewarned me that kids grow up way too fast, and that has never felt more true than today.

     Throughout this whole school year, I’ve thought about how nice it would be for them to be in school all day, instead of just the quick two and a half hours that they’re there now.  I’ve thought about how lunchtime is such a frustrating and chaotic experience on most days. And, I’ve thought about how much I’d love to have time to myself in the afternoons.  Now, I’m suddenly realizing that I’m most certainly going to miss talking to them about their day at lunch, and that my afternoons are going to be a little lonely without their sweet little faces and funny little remarks.  Quite simply, I’m going to miss the little boogers.

     I’m also realizing how little by little, they are becoming less dependent on me, which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing.  However, I know that the more time they spend away from me, the more time they have to be influenced by others.  I cannot control what their little ears hear from their friends at school.  Some of the things they’ve picked up from others even this year makes me grit my teeth.  They are so innocent and naive right now, and it makes me sad to think about that purity slipping away.  

     I just wish I could preserve all the things that I love about this age — if I could just bottle it up and save it forever.  Right now, they love being with me more than anyone in this world.  They are always telling me they love me and giving me hugs and kisses.  They believe pretty much everything I tell them.  They constantly make me laugh with all the goofy stories that come out of their mouths.  They truly are my favorite two people on this earth.

     So, given my current emotional state, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make it through this graduation “ceremony” this morning. I’ve got a giant lump in my throat and a waterfall ready to spill from my eyes at any moment.  Stay tuned, because if I can see through my tears to type, I’ll post another entry about the big event later this afternoon.  Bring on the Kleenex….

My Brain’s Vacation Day

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     Yesterday was one of those days that I either wanted to rewind and start over or fast-forward and get to the end of it.  (It’s probably safe to say that I was leaning towards the fast-forward to get the freaking thing over with and behind me!)  I just couldn’t seem to get anything right.  My brain was scattered here and there and pretty much everywhere.

     It started with me realizing that I had completely confused the date for Kindergarten Field Day (where the kids play a bunch of games outside instead of doing school stuff — yes, they actually get to play! Imagine that!)  I had told my husband that it is this Friday, so he had rearranged his work schedule in order for him to be there.  Well, it turns out that it’s actually TODAY! I got an email YESTERDAY from one of the room moms detailing the activities that are to take place. (In my defense, though, I am not the only parent who had the date mixed up — many of the kindergarten events throughout the year seem to be better understood through word of mouth.  If you don’t ask questions, you will be left behind in the dust.)  Needless to say, my husband will not be going to Field Day with me today — he’s not too happy about that.

     Then, I completely had a brain fart about my son’s soccer game last night. His team was supposed to have a make-up game for one that was rained out a few weeks ago. I was rushing everyone around, trying to get them dinner, dressed, and packed up for a 6:00 game.  It dawned on me at about 5:20 that I should probably double-check my email to make sure I knew what time he needed to be there to warm up.  Turns out it was a 5:00 game!  I wanted to just punch myself in the face.  I felt so bad telling my son that once again, Mama had goofed.  Luckily, he didn’t seem to be too heart-broken about it, especially when I told him that we’d go out for ice cream with sprinkles.  I guess when you’re six, sprinkles make everything better.

     At the end of the day, I was so glad to finally crawl into bed. I had to take Benadryl for yet another allergy attack, so I slept like a baby. The day is still young, but I’m hoping my brain is back from vacation today.  

     What kind of spacey mama moments have you experienced?  How did you CYA and recover from your blunders?

Smack Talk

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     One of the big topics of conversation in our house this weekend was about good sportsmanship.  I never thought I would be discussing this with my kids about KINDERGARTEN soccer, but I guess I was sadly mistaken. Just when you think you really know your kids, they go and do a 180 on you….

     Apparently, my daughter was smack talking on the field with some of her teammates at her soccer game on Saturday morning.  They were giving their goalie a really hard time for not blocking a goal. Luckily, their coach overheard them and completely busted them. She gave a big talk at half-time about supporting each other and being a team player.  I was listening on the sidelines, trying to figure out what mean little brats she was referring to.  I asked my daughter if she was one of the smack talkers, and she looked me right in the eye and told me no.  Of course, I believed her because I never could’ve dreamed that my sweet little baby girl would purposely hurt someone else’s feelings.  I mean, we’ve talked many many times about how it doesn’t matter if they win or lose — I’ve got her trained like a seal to say that what matters most is having fun, or at least I thought I did.

     When we got home from the game, I was telling her how proud I was of her for trying her best (she did actually score the WINNING goal!) and how disappointing it was for her teammates to be such bad sports to their goalie. For some reason, I started to have a weird suspicion that she was somehow involved in the trash talking.  I asked her about her involvement again and instantly knew she had lied to me when her eyes became fixated on the ground.  She finally admitted it — the little stinker was most certainly right there in the middle of the meanness.  I could not believe it! All those times she’s robotically told me that it’s ok if her team didn’t win — but, apparently, it’s definitely not ok with her!

     We had a long talk about how much it would hurt her feelings if her teammates were giving her a hard time about making an honest mistake, and that team work is about cheering each other on at all times.  She seemed to be listening (although with six year olds, you never really know). I really hope she understands this very important lesson.  I’m definitely not trying to raise some little punk.  We shall see — their next game isn’t until next Saturday, and I pray that I don’t have a little Tonya Harding on my hands…..