Monday, July 28, 2014


Did you guys look at my tiles?
Is "zo" a word? 
You looked at my tiles, didn't you?
I think "zo" is a word. 
"Zo" is not a word.
Are you looking up words on the Internet? You can't do that?
Ok. Then I'll just keep playing random letters and looking them up when you challenge them.
 Will someone please go?
That's cheating!
How is that cheating? You're cheating. You played "waify"!
Did you guys look at my tiles?
"Waify" is a word.
Oh, look at the cat. He's laying on the score notebook. He wants to play.
You guys want to hear your horoscopes?
Will someone please GO?
We'll do Pisces first.
Double word score! That's 15 points!
You mean 16 points?
We really need to play this game with smarter people. All our words are like 4 letters long.
Hey, I played "waify". That's more than 4 letters.
I hate playing bored games with you guys, because two of you cheat together and the other one takes forever to go.
I'm trying to be a D-list celebrity. Hold on!! (Playing the Kim Kardashian app.)
Wait? Where is the score notebook and the pen?
On this Kardashian game, should I mingle or socialize?
They're the same thing! 
Can we turn some light on? I can't find the score notebook.
I hate the lights on.
We can't see the  board!
I found the notebook. The cat hid it under the ottoman.
Next horoscope.
Under the ottoman! Ha! The cat hid it. Isn't that funny?
Who's turn is it?!?! that blank tile a "D"?
A "D"? That would make the word "zed". "Zed" is not a word.
Yes it is. Like Zed Neplin.
I know you guys looked at my tiles.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How I Saved My Daughter's Sanity or Scarred Her For Life--The Jury's Still Out

We've always claimed that Carmen is our family’s best hope for normal. I often wonder if she wasn't shamed into it. By her mother.

You see, when she was younger—maybe nine or ten—she started showing definite OCD behavior. She had to touch certain spots on the floor before she left a room. She had to touch certain pieces of furniture or sections of the wall. She counted stuff. I handled this quirkiness in my usual fashion—with humor because patience has never been my strong suit.

Then it happened. An OCD quirk I couldn't laugh away.

The Quiet and Calculating One developed this truly awful habit of interrupting her speech with little humming patterns.

“So, Mom, when are we…mmm mmm mmm…going to the pool?”
“What’s…mmm mmm mmm…for dinner?”
“Can I…mmm mmm mmm… have friends over?”

I think I managed to ignore it a total of two times. Then things got real. My loving and compassionate response was, “Stop doing that! It’s annoying and people will think you are weird!”

Eventually I shortened it to, “OCD!” Every time she would start the hum, I would yell, “OCD!”
And when she asked what “OCD” meant, I snapped, “It means Oh Carmen Don’t! Because it’s annoying and people will think you are weird.”

Fast forward 7 years. I’m watching a documentary that followed kids with OCD from grade school through high school. I’m truly amazed at the struggles and challenges these kids and their families faced. One girl had to move in with her grandmother because she thought her family was contaminated. Another girl stayed home from school for three months for the same reason. Yet another took four hours to get dressed every day because of the washing rituals.

Why had my daughter not succumb to her OCD tendencies which, even though I’m making light of them here, were very real?

So I asked. She answered, “Because you shamed me out of it. You told me it was annoying and everyone would think I was weird. I didn't want to be annoying and weird, so I forced myself to stop.”
It’s true. She actually was shamed into it by her mother! I’m putting this one in the win column anyway. After all, I did stop her from a life of struggle and possibly never being able to enter a department store. Right? 

Besides, she is still our best hope for normal even if I have to shame her into it.

Even Roaring Moms don’t always get it right. What’s your not-so-proud parenting moment that somehow worked out anyway?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Movies Make Good Memories

Our children cannot escape media!!

As a mom and a teacher of teens, I have to tell you that most of what media offers is crap—terrifying, humiliating, soul sucking, IQ lowering, demoralizing crap.

Nevertheless, what is on media is also woven throughout the fabric of our lives. Celebrating Independence Day last week helped me realize it’s okay. In fact, it can be celebratory, educational, inspirational, laughter inducing, memory making stuff. You see, while my kids enjoyed blowing stuff up, their celebration was not complete without partaking in our traditional patriotic movie time! 

I first knew my oldest would be an actress when at 4 years old, she berated me consistently for not being able to recite all of the lines correctly from certain scenes of The Wizard of Oz and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

My second oldest was a sickly toddler. She had sky-high fevers. We would have to cool her down with cold wet rags. It was pretty awful for her, but she was always, without fail, calmed and comforted by one movie—Dumbo. The song Dumbo’s mom sings to comfort him become my baby’s nighttime lullaby.

My third daughter wasn't sickly, but she cried for the first 2 years of her life. Not colicky, just stubborn and serious. Her calming comfort came in the video of the Broadway musical Cats. We’re still not sure if she was terrified or mesmerized at Macavity's red eyes. But, hey, she quit crying for an hour, so…

Looking back, I can’t believe I let my little boy watch Lord of the Rings at 5 years old. That’s pretty violent stuff for a little guy. His dad actually let him miss a day of kindergarten to go see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Yep, that’s the one where Anakin kills all the younglings and then his wife. It was quite a graduation from his first favorite—Toy Story. And by favorite I mean that by age three, he embodied Buzz Lightyear and had a collection of action figures to rival Disneyland.

Even today, as my oldest introduces her toddler to Hollywood, we hold our movie traditions dear. Independence Day can’t happen without a viewing of 1776. Halloween can’t pass without Hocus Pocus. Christmas is decorated with every holiday clay animation film ever made. In fact, not too many dinner table conversations pass without someone quoting Galaxy Quest or The Sword and the Stone or SpongeBob or Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean, or even (to my deep disappointment) Anchor Man.

So maybe the ubiquitous media isn't all bad. Still, I do very often wish they’d get their faces out of their phones so they can actually experience life, or at least long enough to watch a good movie.

Here's a short movie for you. The clip shows what is probably her 500th viewing a favorite movie. We take our cinema seriously. BTW--we're beautiful criers, aren't we? 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fighting the Good Food Fight

We try. We really do. We understand our food obsession and we fight against it. And then most of the time, we fail.

I remember when I realized this food issue of ours might be a little more serious than I originally thought. I was watching one of those extreme weight loss shoes. The man on the show simply could not lose the weight. He was sabotaging himself with drive-throughs and doughnuts stores. In the end, they said he had a food addiction. Food addiction, they explained, was characterized by eating even when you're not hungry and continuing to eat past the point when you are full on a regular basis.


In our home when someone answers the question "Do you want something to eat?" with "No, I''m not hungry," it confounds us. Uh, since when do you have to be hungry to eat? And since when do you stop just because you are full?

But we do try.

There was the time I tried the cabbage diet: 7 days of cabbage soup. I like soup.

By Day 2, I was ready to eat my desk, I was so hungry.

So the Quiet and Calculating One thought she'd give it a try. Show mom how it's done, right?

She started on a Monday, which is consequently the day they return from their father's. That evening, she came home starving, with a side of food anger! I told her to have a bowl of her soup. She could eat as much as she wanted. She informed me she hadn't made the soup. Her dad didn't have the ingredients. So she'd eaten nothing all day because she wasn't supposed to eat anything but soup, and she didn't have any soup, so she ate nothing. Then the food anger kicked in, and she ate everything!

She lasted a bit longer when she decided to become a vegetarian because it was healthier. So I was confused when she picked all the veggies off her Jimmy John's veggie sandwich. She explained, she doesn't like veggies on her sandwiches. The next day, it was back to her usual #4 Turkey Tom.

The kid with the longest success rate is my Food Nazi daughter (and former peanut butter addict) who comes home from college and goes through the pantry describing every single noxious chemical in every single food item.She guilts us into eating nothing but bean sprouts and air--as long as the bean sprouts are organic--while she sneaks Jiff by the spoonful behind our backs!

We should all weigh 500 pounds. Luckily, we aren't afraid of exercise--even if we have been known to go the extra mile only so we can eat the extra cookie.

If there is something I've learned through our food trials, it's this: Life is too short to eat only bean sprouts and air, even organic ones. Also, I'm kinda glad there's a doughnut store on the way to the Y. It gives me incentive to go the extra mile!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

For the Love of Food

During a serious parenting conversation with one of my favorite Roaring Moms, she divulged a problem with one of her children frequently stealing food from her siblings and hiding it. Stuff like treats from school parties or special snacks would disappear. Then they would find the wrapper in the culprit’s room. My heart went out to her as she was truly disturbed by what had become a real point of contention in her family. I racked my brain for the right thing to say, but my mind was stuck on one thing: the contraband two liter bottle of Dr. Pepper I was currently hiding in the trunk of my car!

When she asked how long I thought her daughter would have this problem, I came clean. Yes. I’m forty-something and fabulous and I hide soda in my car, smuggle it into my home, and hide it from my kids. All the time.

I have food issues, and I have successfully passed them on to my kids.

Back when I was a married Roaring Mom, it wasn’t uncommon for us to sit down to dinner and have at least one kid ask for soda. I would explain we didn’t have any soda. Water was better for them anyway. Then one would lean forward and whisper, “Go get it from dad’s secret stash.” Then another would take me by the hand to their dad’s closet and point to the top shelf.

It’s also not uncommon to find sticky notes in the fridge threatening death or worse to anyone who touches the last helping of banana pudding. My kids are not above the Lick Method, either. “I licked that cookie. It’s mine!” As for school party treats? Anything not eaten within 24 hours of said party is fair game. Halloween candy? Well, you better sleep with your bag under your pillow if want to have anything other than popcorn balls left in the morning.

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to teach will power by frequently reading Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad Story “Cookies.” They try everything to not eat all the cookies. Finally, they give the cookies to the birds. They have no more cookies, but lots and lots of willpower. So, Toad goes home to bake a cake.
After all, what’s willpower without cake?  (Click here to check out the story for yourself.)

All I can do is try to set a better example, right? So when I bake the weekly cake because I’m an emotional baker and I still get depressed when the kids go to their dad’s, but there’s no one there to eat it but me, I work up my willpower! I don’t eat a single piece. I do take a nibble, just to taste, but I don’t actually serve a single slice. A day later when I notice it’s half gone (even though I never actually served a slice), I realize I’ve got a problem. I can’t let them come home and see I’ve eaten half a cake myself, so I do the right thing. I make the sacrifice. Then I have no more cake, but lots and lots of willpower.

Just so we’re clear…I didn’t feed it to the birds.

It’s sad, but the best advice I can give my Roaring Mom friend is a wish for willpower. In the meantime, go buy a case of sticky notes.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

When Abe Lincoln meets Jack Daniels

"We don't find vulgarity funny."
I should have known that's what my mother would say when I offered to share a Comedy Central video clip that I had to preface by asking her not to be offended. I should have possibly rethought my decision to show (with my children watching, in fact reciting the clip word for word) a video entitled Drunk History. But, come on, what's not funny about drunk people explaining historical events?

Click here to see for yourself.

And my mom's response? "Well, that's an interesting type of humor to teach your children. Now they know what drunk people sound like."

At moments like that, I wonder how can I truly be a product of this family?

Can I help it if I appreciate the strategic use of a handheld fart machine? Is it my fault that I believe an F-bomb dropped for effect can be, well, effective? Is it so bad that my daughter was in only the 4th grade when she was teaching Cheech and Chong's "Sister Mary Elephant" to her fellow students on the Catholic School playground? Is it so wrong that How I Met Your Mother is considered family entertainment at my house? Ok, it probably is wrong. In fact, when my oldest two were the age my youngest two are now, I wouldn't have permitted it. I remember my very first viewing of Family Guy with my oldest. I hated it. I thought it was unnecessarily, stupidly vulgar. I was disgusted with  the movie, Anchor Man  the first time I saw it, but just this week actually paid for all of us to see the sequel. In truth, I was pretty disgusted with that too, and I will never get those 2 and a half hours back or the IQ points I lost watching it. However, it was 2 and a half hours spent with my children belly laughing and that is priceless.

It seems the older I get, the less my appropriateness filter works. That fact was proven over Christmas when my kids and I were playing the Awkward Family Photos card game. The picture was of an unattractive man in a disturbingly tight Speedo, standing in a flower garden and holding a bouquet. The question asked for a title, and before I could stop myself, I responded, "Scratch and Sniff." In front of my children. And their friends. I'm not sure if the teens laughed more at my own embarrassment or theirs. But, hey, at least I was adequately embarrassed by my lack of filter. I'm sure my mother would not have laughed at all. In fact, she might have disowned me or at least put my name before her prayer group...again.

Now, before you all judge me too harshly, let me just say that  we really dig the high brow stuff, too. We can chuckle inwardly at sophisticated wit. We really can. In fact, unless you understand the intellectual irony of Abe Lincoln dropping the f-bomb, you really can't fully enjoy the humor of Drunk History, right?

I wonder at what age we can stop worrying about offending our parents with our language or off-colored jokes, or appreciation of vulgar humor. I also wonder where I got the idea of weighing the funny against the inappropriate, and if the funny factor weighs heavier, well... I sure didn't get it from Mom and Dad.

Seriously though, how am I a product of my parents?

Come to think of it, I wonder what our neighborhood milk man's sense of humor was like back in the fall of '68? Dad was out of town a lot.

Ooops, sorry. That wasn't funny. Was it, Mom?