Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You're going on a BEAR hunt? Dude. What's up with that?

I love reading to my kids.

I savor it more as my children get older. When they were toddlers, I remember the many times that their chubby little hands clutched a board book as they waddled over to me, popped down in my lap and said, "Read, mama!"

And of course, I would happily oblige.

Kids have their favorite books, and sometimes I would find myself being requested to read the same book over and over. And then over again. Until I would want to scream.

Fun fact about me: I know the book, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" (by Bill Martin, Jr.) completely and totally by heart. Every word is etched in my memory, and I can't imagine a day that the words will leave my overcrowded brain. But someday the words will leave because they are no longer needed or requested by a small child, and that makes me sad.

The more birthdays that my children see, the less they want me to read to them. They are too busy reading like "big kids" do, all on their own. I am proud that they read so well and I am proud that they devour chapter books such as, "Harry Potter", "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", and "Magic Tree House", among others. However, if there ever comes a time that ANY of them, especially my older, more independent children, asks me to read to them, I drop whatever I am doing and read.

That's how much I've learned to appreciate it and savor it. The moments are fewer and farther between.

To all the newer parents that are SICK of reading the same book over and over again to their toddler, I say to you, ENJOY it, because all too soon they will say to you, "I'm good mom. I'm just going to read here on my own."

My 3-year old daughter is still at the age that she loves to be read to, and Bill or I read to her nightly. My youngest son, at the ripe old age of 5, loves to read to us now, with our help on the really big words like, "fantastic" or "horrible" of course.

But as I was reading my daughter one of our family's favorite books the other day, I was struck by an interesting thought, which I'll get to in a moment.

The book we were reading is, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt", retold by Michael Rosen, and it features adorable pictures illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. This book is a classic, and our copy has been read so many times that the cover is missing, and the spine is broken. I believe that I have read it approximately 1,472 times. Not that I'm exaggerating or anything.

For realsies.

Anyway, as I was reading it to my little girl the other day, something struck me.

Dude. The parents in this book are MEAN. And slightly stupid. And probably not mentally fit for the job. Who thinks that it would be fantastically fun to hunt for bears with their kids? Answer: Not sane people.

I don't know why I never thought about it much the other 1,471 times that I have read this book, but let's consider the title. It's called, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt".  As in, they're taking their sweet, unsuspecting children on a frolic through the woods to hunt for BEARS. Bears that are in NO way people friendly.

Dude.

Who does that?

Did you ever hear of the guy who called himself the "Grizzly Man"? Remember that he was the guy who hearted bears with all of his heart? He lived among them, but he was eventually EATEN by a grizzly bear a few years ago. May he rest in peace. But that is what bears do, peeps, so don't be surprised if you're goin'-a-huntin' for one, and you return sans your head, that has been eaten clean off your body. Bears are beautiful creatures and all, but lookie. No touchie. No huntie. Especially with your kiddos.

Perhaps this book also struck me as hilarious because the kids and I were just at the zoo two weeks ago, and it was that perfect time of day when most of the animals were not lying around and sleeping, but awake, and doing what animals inately love to do. We stopped by the grizzly bear area and the two grizzlies were walking around and playing together. They were wrestling and pawing at each other, and they had each other in an authentic, true-blue BEAR hug. The kids and I stood there and watched, because it was fascinating.

But FYI you guys? Grizzly bears are HUGE. Like unbelievably so. One of their paws is as big as your head. I know I haven't seen all of your heads, but take my word for it. One swipe at your noggin, and we'd be seeing your gray matter. If I happened upon a grizzly during a leisurely frolic through the woods with my children, I might die of fright. Or at least tinkle myself. Which would probably leave a scent for the grizzly to follow and track me down, so even if I tried to run away, there would be no such luck. Grizzly bear - 1, Clare - 0.

So this book. This adorable, sweet, classic children's book that was originally a song. Maybe I was just over-tired, but it got me thinking as I read it. Why? Of all the topics to write a children's book about, why bear hunting? I mean, really. I took my kids swimming in a pool of hungry sharks the other day, but I didn't have to go all literary and write a children's book about it.

If you haven't read this sweet little book yet, then you  do so, just so you'll know what NOT to do as a parent.

Get a load of parental stupidity at its finest:

"We're going on a bear hunt.
We're going to catch a big one.
We're not scared!
What a beautiful day."

I'm scared. Anyone else want to join me in being scared? I'm sure it's a beautiful day and all, but how about going to the park or having a picnic? Is it really necessary to take your three young children, one of whom is a baby and can't even walk yet, on a bear hunt?

"Oh-oh! A river!
A deep, cold river!
We can't go over it.
We can't go under it!
Oh no!
We've go to go through it."

You know, just like sane people do with their children.

On and on this family goes, walking through COLD rivers, carrying small children that aren't wearing life vests, walking through DARK forests, and...GET THIS. A snowstorm. They walk through a snowstorm, with wet, muddy, tired kids, all because they are looking for Teddy Ruxpin. (No, I will not explain who Teddy Ruxpin is, and if you do not know who or what he is, then congrats to you for being so young.) Finally, this family goes into a cave, a BEAR CAVE, and they are all, "OH SNAP! THERE'S A BEAR IN HERE!"

Um...duh...Brain Trust #1 and #2. That's because bears live in bear caves. Imagine that.

As they run home being chased by a bear, going back through the elements, they finally make it, but then. THEN. Then.

They forget to close the door.

I know. Shocking.

How did this couple even manage to get pregnant ONE time, let alone three times? Who does the thinking in their house?

Luckily, they close the door just in the nick of time, but the bear in the picture is growling as he looks through the panes of glass in the door. The bear's face is all, "Gee whiz! Can't get in now! Foiled again!"

Really now, Mr. Bear. I'm pretty sure with just one swipe of that furry paw, you could get your way. But thankfully not, since this IS a book for children.

I would love to read the sequel to this book. Would it be named, "The Department of Children and Family Services Called and They Said Bear Hunting is No-No"?

Or, how about, "We're Going on a Piranha Hunt"? That would be a great topic for a children's book.

"We're going on a piranha hunt.
It's in the Amazon!
We're not scared.
We've got it goin' on."

Excuse my feeble attempt at busting a rhyme. Rhyming is not my strong suit.

Anyway, what is my point of today's blog?

1.) Children's books are enjoyable, sweet and wacky, and they make me think random thoughts, like how wrong bear hunting is, especially with small children.

2.) I love reading to my kids, even if it's about two cuckoo parents who go on a bear hunt.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Who knew that Aisle 12 could be so romantic?

Couple time has been in short supply around this house as of late. Bill and I needed a date.

Today we got it.

We got to spend two hours of pure bliss at....

The grocery store.

Our grocery store has FREE babysitting. Right in the store! While you shop! And it's safe! And it's secure! And my kids love it!

Did I mention that it is F-to-the-R-to-the-E-to-the-E?

Thomas Edison, you might want to scoot on over a little bit to the left and make room for the inventor of FREE babysitting at the grocery store. Because the light bulb? That was a cool invention and all, but the guy or gal who invented FREE babysitting at the grocery store? I would like to sit down and have a beer with him/her just to offer up my eternal gratitude. And I don't even drink beer. I'm more of a wine drinker. But I'll make an exception and pop open a frosty one for that occasion.

So I had this long list of groceries that I need to buy for the week, and of course, I needed an Easter ham and all the Easter meal accoutrement. I probably could have gone to the store with Annabel one day during the week while the boys were at school, but I decided that my man and I needed some alone time. And if it had to be for a two-hour stretch at the grocery store? Well then, I'll take it.

There are plenty of things to keep the kids occupied at the babysitting room at the grocery store, such as video games, toys, coloring and crafts. They have a big glass window so you can see your kids the whole time, and the security? Well, let's just say that it is top-notch, at least to my overprotective mommy self. We have to carry a walkie-talkie around the store in case one of our kids had to go to the bathroom or there was a problem. And there better not be any problems, kiddos. It's Mommy and Daddy date time.

When we were first married, one of our favorite things to do as a couple was to go grocery shopping together after a long day at work. We would wander the aisles, talk about our day, plan future meals together and buy ingredients. And then Baby #1 of 4 came along and it was all either of us could do to make a mad dash to the store and pick up a few groceries when we could. Then Baby #2, #3 and #4 came along, and...well...grocery shopping went from being a fun, leisurely activity to a dreaded chore.

For my readers who have no children, or for the readers whose children are still little infants who don't squirm or get out of their baby carriers, let me explain what it is like to take children to the grocery store. Four of them. (Although, as all parents know, having to take even ONE young child---especially a toddler---to the grocery is a challenge.)

  • First of all, the grocery store aisles are long. To a little brain, long aisles say, "it's time to run laps!" At least if you are aged 2 years and up. So while you are checking out the price of Chex Mix, your kids are using that as an opportunity to run to one end of the aisle. And then back. And then to the end. And back. And then to the end. And...well...you get it.
  • The ground meat is squishy. Squishy meat is irresistible to little fingers. Little fingers like to poke squishy meat, and they will poke it right through the layer of Saran Wrap. Thank goodness for hand sanitizer.
  • You will try to corral one or more of your children in the grocery cart, but inevitably they will either grow too large to fit in the basket, or they will see another child running free, and think, "Hmm...that kid isn't strapped in his seat. Look at him! He is as free as a bird, walking the aisles with his mom! Screw this stinkin' grocery cart. I will just sit here and scream and moan and whine until Mom gives up and frees me from the confines of this cart." And of course, you give in. Because you are a sucker. And you cannot listen to the whining for ONE. MORE. SECOND.
  •  You will end up buying crap that you had no intention of buying. A few years ago, I came home with can of wasabi peas that I did not have any intention of buying, but somehow got placed in my cart. What are wasabi peas, and who buys them on purpose? One of my children decided that he had to have them, my back was turned, and VOILA! Congratulations, Clare! You are the proud owner of a can of wasabi peas. That you will never eat. In fact, I never ate them, because I do not like wasabi peas. Not that I have ever tried wasabi peas. I'm just guessing I would not like wasabi peas. Although, it is fun to say wasabi peas. Wasabi peas, wasabi peas, wasabi peas.
Back to date day at the grocery store. 

Bill and I dropped all four of our kids off at the babysitting room at the grocery store today, grabbed a cart and began our date.

Chicka, chicka, bow, bow...

Or is it bow, chicka, bow, bow?

Forgive my attempt at "romantic" music. I was just trying to set the scene for you.

As Bill started pushing the cart, he looked lost. I don't think he knew what to do with himself. After all, there were no kids to chase, no kids to corral, no kids to say, "Stop touching that!" to.

I said, "Do you think people are looking at us and thinking, 'Aww...look at that cute yuppie couple! I wonder if they're going to have kids someday? They would make adorable children together, for sure.'"

"Clare, where do you come up with this stuff?" Bill said.

I'm always surprised when my husband is surprised at my vivid imagination.

Anyhoo, Bill and I continued through the grocery store. Did any of you know that a half wheel of Parmesan cheese costs $118.72? I did not know that! Do you want to know why I now know that? Because I was in the specialty cheese section today with my man! I never go in the specialty cheese section!  But that is what I did today! Because I had the time! And the freedom! No Kraft Singles for me today, baby. I officially became a specialty cheese snob. Bill decided that when we are retired, we are going to become specialty cheese connossieurs. I agreed. We are going to be snooty about our cheese and have snooty wine and cheese parties and throw around words like, "camembert", "queso del pais", and "manchego". We'll be known as the Snooty Cheese Snobs who frown upon the more pedestrian "cheddar" and "mozzarella" cheeses. For now, however, we'll stick with Sargento and Kraft, and keep our Snooty Cheese Snob dreams to ourselves.

Next, we headed to the card department because I needed to buy two birthday cards. I NEVER go into the card department with my children, because cards are colorful. And bright. And they beckon to be touched by little hands. And picked up. And moved around into different spots. And the cards that play music? Oy. A few months ago, my 3-year old daughter and I were in the card section of Target. She picked up a card with a picture of a hot dog on the front of it, and when she opened it up, it screamed, "WIENER! WIENER! WIENER!" Therefore, she decided that it was imperative that she open it again and again. Of all the hundreds of cards in Target, she HAD to find the "Wiener"-screaming card? Really now, what are the chances?

After the card aisle, we headed to toiletries. Who knew shaving cream could be so interesting when you actually have the time to browse?

Bill gave me a kiss in Aisle 12. But, it's not like we "made out" as the young'uns like to say. It was just a smooch. I guess you didn't need to know that, but I'm telling you because that's what people on dates do. They smooch. People corralling four children at the grocery store do not have the time or energy to smooch at the grocery store.

It was finally time to pick out our Easter ham. As I leaned over the refrigerated case, our eyes locked. I looked at Bill longingly and said as I caressed the pork, "Honey, how many pounds of meat can you handle?"

Perhaps I should give up blogging and start writing romance novels about harried housewives with vivid imaginations who think the grocery store is romantic.

Bill and I headed to the check-out and while he loaded the groceries on the moving belt, I got the chance to skim People and US Weekly to find out why Sandra Bullock is so heartbroken, and why Jesse James is a jerk. Really though, with a name like, "Jesse James," one of the most notorious criminals of all time, is it that big of a shocker? Poor Sandra.

Once the check-out was complete, I headed over to the babysitting room to retrieve my children. According to my 5-year old son, "It was the best day ever." Ahh...to be young, and to have such low standards for a day.

It was win-win for all. The kids had a fabulous time, behaved well, and want to go back soon. Bill and I got to reconnect for two hours and have an adult conversation.

Romance. It's what you make of it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Babies are like so totally awesome. Like totally.

I had the most riveting conversation today with two college-age girls at Target.

As you are well aware, Target is my jam. My boo. My home base. My happy place.

Target completes me.

I was in the kids' shoe aisle with my 3-year old daughter, checking out adorable summer sandals by Miss Trish of Capri. We came across a saucy little pair of lime green thong sandals with a strap in the back and a hot pink flower in the middle. I tried to find a picture for you, but to no avail. All this cuteness could be my daughter's for a mere $16.99.

Oh Target. You go. You get down with your bad self.

Anyway, my daughter loved these shoes in theory, and she squealed in delight when I mentioned that she could try them on to see if they fit. But alas, it was not meant to be. Three-year olds do not like things between their toes, and she complained the entire 34.7 seconds she had them on her feet.

Goodbye cute sandals.

As I was taking the sandals off her feet, the aforementioned two college-age girls rounded the corner. I guess they were about 19-21 years old. Ish.

They took one look at the sandals, and they both let out a simultaneous, "AWWWW!!!" over the cuteness of said footwear.

Girl #1 said, "O. M. G.! HOW. BANGIN'. CUTE. ARE. ALL. THESE. KIDS'. SHOES?!?"

Do people actually say O. M. G.? Out loud? Not just in a text? Dang. I feel old. And B. T. W.? Bangin' cute is now my new favorite phrase. Shame on me for never realizing that cute could also be bangin'.

Girl #2: "YES. THEY. ARE!!!! Oh! I want a kid! Look at all this cute stuff!"

At this point, I swiveled my head in their direction and smiled.

You want a kid because of all this cute stuff at Target? Seriously? Target has inspired you that much? I'm not laughing with you, girls. I'm laughing at you.

Girl #1: "I know, right? This stuff is like waaaay cute."

Way.

Girl #2: "How old is your baby?"

Well, ladies. When they can walk and talk and try on sandals and say their name, then they're not actually babies anymore. But yes, by all means. You should totally, like, get one. A baby. Like totally. Because of the stuff.

"She just turned three years old in February." I responded.

Both girls: "Awwww!!! She's like so cute."

Ahhh....to be young and blissful, and to overuse the word "like" without a care in the world.

Girl #1: "You are so lucky! You get to buy all this stuff! Don't you just love it?"

Like totally. After you buy the much-desired kids' shoes and clothing, then you might also want to pop on over to the Health and Beauty section and pick up some Preparation H and breast pads. You know. If you decide to get one of these new-fangled things called a "baby". Because you'll need them. Just an FYI.

"Yeah. I love shopping for my kids! It's a lot of fun." I said, reigning in my inner snark.

Girl #2: "What's her name?"

Oh. By the way, while you're over in Health and Beauty, head on over to the cleaning supplies area and pick up some carpet cleaning chemicals and some Lysol. You know. For when they barf on you. In the middle of the night. Just when you thought they were sleeping. And not sick. 

Girl #1: "Awww...I love her name! That is totally one of the names that I wanna use some day!"

After you buy some cleaning supplies, head on over the baby section and get one of everything. Except for diapers and wipes. You'll need more than one each of those. Buy a bunch. Fill up a cart, in fact. The whole lot will set you back at least a few thousand bucks, but no worries. Everything is like so totally bangin' cute.

Girl #1: (kneels down and got in my daughter's face) "Hi, sweetie! I like your green shirt for St. Patrick's Day! Nice to meet you!"

My daughter: (puffs up her chest with pride) "My shirt is green."

The "baby" speaks! It's a St. Patrick's Day miracle.

Both girls: "AWWWWW!!! SHE'S SO CUTE!!!"

Wow. It doesn't take much to get an"Awww" out of you girls. All she said was, "My shirt is green." You should hear her when actually has a conversation. Then again, forget it. You might have an 'Awww!!!' attack. Or you might, 'Awww!!!' yourselves to death.

Girl #1: "Well it was nice to meet you!"

Both girls turned the corner and continued into the womens' shoe section and I overheard one of them say to the other, "So, like, what time are we meeting everyone at [local bar] tonight?!?"

Oh, one more thing. If you get your desired accessory, a baby, they don't babysit themselves. So you can just kiss that evening at [local bar] good-bye. Unless you get a babysitter, which will set you back about 10 bucks an hour. But don't stay out too late, because Mommy + Hangover + Baby = Not Fun.

"I'm so glad the weather is so nice! It's gonna be so much fun tonight!"

Yes, ladies. You are soooo ready for a baby.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What have I become?

Fun Fact O' The Day About Clare: I ate a chocolate chip off the floor this morning.

Do you care?

Are you queasy?

Is your life better or worse?

I thought so.

Because I'm the self-anointed Queen of T.M.I., (at least in my own little corner of the internet) I was compelled to tell you this. And it's also a little embarrassing, so I thought, "Hey! Why don't I put it out there for the whole world to read!"

You know, like normal folk do when they are embarrassed about something.

I never thought I was the eating-food-off-the-floor kind of gal, but I honestly didn't even think anything of it until after I did it.

In my defense, I cleaned the floors myself this morning. They are somewhat sparkling. The floors might even be cleaner than my counters. But still. It's a floor. Where people walk. Wearing dirty shoes that have trod lordy-knows-where. Probably in some kind of poo product.

Not that poo is a product. It's really more of a by-product. But you know. You get it.

Yet another reason to ban shoes indoors.

My daughter was eating a delectable, over-sized chocolate chip cookie that my mom baked this weekend with the kids when she came to town for an impromptu visit. As she walked around the kitchen where I was filling the dishwasher, leaving crumbs in her wake, I saw a little chocolate morsel dropped off the cookie and onto the floor. Never one to let a perfectly good piece of chocolate go to waste, I immediately leaned down, picked up the chocolate, popped it in my mouth and then continued to load up the dishwasher.

I invoked the power of the five-second rule.

It didn't sink in until a few seconds later that what I did was mostly disgusting. But let's face it. It's not like it's the first time it has happened.

My kids are sloppy eaters.

As the realization set in that I, Clare, ate a piece of food directly off of the...ahem...FLOOR, I wondered exactly at what point in my life did I decide to lower my standards to a whole new level of low? Because not only do I occasionally eat cold, left over, half-eaten chicken nuggets off my kids' plates, but now I'm eating food off the floor?

Shame on me.

But I'm a busy mom who apparently has low standards for the food that I eat. And it was kind of yummy and milk chocolatey.

I didn't always used to be this way. In my not so distant past, I could never foresee a day when it would be okay in my mind to eat the breakaway crumbs and morsels of SOMEONE ELSE'S FOOD off the floor. At one point in my adult life, I used to dine more frequently in restaurants without kiddie menus, and I would have fascinating adult conversations with other adults that didn't usually end with statements like, "I can't wait to go home and steam clean my carpets today! Rock on!" I also never had to bribe said adults with promises of dessert if they would, "go ahead and eat two-and-three-quarters more bites of that chicken, then you can have that yummy dessert!"

As if.

I still enjoy a gourmet meal in a restaurant when I can get it. But I will take my chocolate chips directly off the floor, please.

Really. I'm a gal with a my fair share of healthy brain matter up in the ol' cranium. Yet why didn't it also occur to me that if these boys of mine have a slight peeing-on-the-bathroom-floor problem that I may have mentioned...oh...say...8,765 times, then I PROBABLY shouldn't eat little, brown, turd-like pieces of food off the floor? That is not an idea I should get behind.

Actually, come to think of it, that's the most convincing argument against eating food off the floor that I have ever heard.

Lesson learned.

No, you cannot have this life o' glamour that I lead. But thanks for asking.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And thus, an evil plan was hatched...

Okay.

Dude.

Hold on a sec. I'm just trying to formulate actual sentences in my head right now that will help me accurately convey my next story to you. Because it's gross. With a capital "G".

How about I lead with this statement: Today I broke up a terrorist cell.

Let that sink in for a second.

Okay. Now here's a disclaimer to my story. This story is not for the faint of heart, or for people who disgust easily. If you can't handle talk of simple bodily functions, then I will see you at my next blog entry, and you best stop reading HERE.

Wow. You're still reading? Don't stay I didn't warn you.

Now back to little ol' me breaking up a terrorist cell. Yes, I, Clare, wife, mother, mommy blogger, kiddie chauffeur, Mess Cleaner Upper Extraordinaire broke up a dastardly, evil, diabolical terrorist cell.

Before someone from the FBI finds my blog and calls, trying to recruit me to their ranks, let me just say, "Not interested. Flattered, but not interested. Because who's going to find stuff around here if I'm off trying to bust up the bad guys? Who's going to whine and moan around this house about stepping on yet another Lego piece that I am positive left a permanent imprint in my foot? Who? I ask. WHO?!? And really. I have naturally curly hair, and if I have to go to the hot desert, then the air will turn my wig of hair into a big ol' 'fro. And we can't have that, can we? So thanks for the offer, but my services are much-needed here."

I live with this terrorist cell, and they go by the oh-so-original moniker of, "Young Boys, Farters Extraordinaire." Yes, I know it sounds eerily similar to "Clare, Mess Cleaner Upper Extraordinaire," but sorry. I'm fresh out of monikers. Adding "extraordinaire" to the end of a phrase is how I'm rolling today.

Anyway, it seems like EVERY time we all get into the car together, which is, oh...say...SEVERAL TIMES A DAY, a wave of noxious fumes is released into our minivan. Then I say, "Alright. Who gassed? Say, 'Excuse me'!" and it is a phrase that I repeat over and over and over daily. (By the way, I always say, "gas" instead of "fart" with the kids. It's soooo much more civilized. But here in my blog, anything goes. I'm crazy like that.) Usually one of the boys will say, "It was me!" and bust into a fit of giggles, and then offer up a half-hearted, "'scuse me". And that is all I require. I understand that people have to gas, but for the courtesy of others in the pressurized cabin of a minivan, then PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, apologize for it with a simple, "Excuse me."

Years ago when Bill and I realized that with four kids, the most sensible family car option would be...sigh...a very utilitarian, and non-sexy minivan, we decided to get a "luxury" minivan. First of all, let it be known that there is NO SUCH THING as a "luxury minivan". The dealer will sell you on the details, like the DVD player, the leather heated seats, the upgraded floor mats, the extra cup holders, remote door openers, additional storage and all the other etcetera. You will think to yourself, "Yeah, I know it's a minivan, but look how sexy it is! Who needs a Jaguar when I can drive this bad boy?" But it's LIES, people. LIES. Now, I adore my minivan for the fact that it has fabulous amounts of storage, and I do enjoy that my seat warms my tush on those cold mornings, but the fact that it is allegedly a "luxury" minivan, in no way stops your kids from trashing it. Those extra cup holders? They're just another place to stash even more Pokemon cards. So save your money and go for the still very nice, but slightly less "luxury" minivan. You won't feel so bad when it turns into a crushed-crackers-ground-into-the-carpet-mobile. By the way, only idiots...ahem...BILL AND CLARE...buy minivans with beige leather seats. Always, always, always get gray or black seats with kids. I know that black is hotter in the summer, but you won't see the imprint of those muddy football cleats as easily.

Random question of the day: Why do I have footprints on the CEILING of my minivan? Riddle me that, peeps. 

So my car. It's kind of messy to begin with, even though I fight that battle on a daily basis. But lately it is not only messy, but smelly. Like...fart...smelly. More than usual.

I was not entirely convinced that my boys just conveniently had to "gas" when we got into the car. I smelled (pun intended) a conspiracy. Coincidence? I think not. I just needed some evidence. This morning, I overheard my 8-year old son say to my 9-year old son, "I'm saving it. Are you saving it?"

And I immediately knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were talking about their own FARTS.

Now, other more gullible mothers might hear what my 8-year old said and think to themselves, "Aww...he must be talking about saving his allowance. Or the planet." But NO. I am two steps ahead of those little punks that I helped bring into existence. I just knew that what they were talking about was diabolical. Evil, in fact! I'm not sure how I knew it. Call it a gift. That dastardly duo must be stopped.

"Do you save up your farts until you get into the car?!?" I queried.

Yet another question I never thought I would ask. Ever. In my life.

Giggles spewed forth from my boys. "We save up our farts, Mom!" one of them said proudly. Seriously. My boy was beaming. I don't think I've ever seem him so proud.

THEY. SAVE. UP. THEIR. FARTS.

Dude.

How does one actually go about "saving up" one's farts?

Wait. Don't answer that. I don't need to know the answer. I'll just assume it's another one of those "guy things" like not being able to thread a roll of toilet paper, that will remain an eternal mystery to women. And let's keep it that way.

Because yuck.

Exasperated, I snapped at them and said, "You two are disgusting! You better not gas in this car on purpose!"

And here's the part where afterward I thought, "Really? This is my life? This is what I have been reduced to? A sergeant of farts?" I looked at the two of them and said, rather loudly, "You two are NOT getting into this car unless you get all your gas out. Right now. Here in the garage."

Did I actually just order my boys to fart? Seriously? In the garage? That phrase just came out of my mouth?

Oy.

Sorry to my neighbors who may have overheard Loud Mom saying the above sentences this morning at 7:20 a.m. Hopefully the rain drowned me out. But yes, you didn't hear it incorrectly. I actually said that. Whatever it takes to bust up a farting terrorist cell, right?

Boys. And they say women are hard to figure out.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Spazzy Mom.

On Thursday afternoon, I looked into the eyes of a spazzy mom, and I saw myself.

 I have been there too.

Spazzing out, that is.

We all have our moments. Well, most of us have our moments.

Do you like how I'm trying to "out" all of you as a bunch of spazzes too? Whatever makes me feel better in my own mind, right? 

For all of the mothers reading this who are all, "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Clare? I do NOT spazz out. Surely, you must be talking about somebody else!"

Allow me to explain.

My definition of spazzing out has nothing to do with anger. Anger is just that. Anger. No, spazzing out is that feeling you get when you cannot control a situation. Because sometimes, no matter how much you try to perfectly order your little world, things happen. Kids get sick. Kids get hurt. Kids get lost. Stuff happens.

It feels like somebody spun your body around 20 times and then delivered a roundhouse kick to your stomach. Hence the need for a spazz-out.

I encountered Spazzy Mom at Macy's on Thursday afternoon in the women's department. Annabel and I were at the mall wasting some time before we had to pick the boys up from school at 2:30. She is at that age where she is fiercely independent, yet still my 3-year old little girl who wants to be carried and cuddled. I still foolishly bring the stroller into the mall, hoping I will get her to sit in it and ride, thus making it easier for me to shop, but to no avail. It becomes a bag carry-all.

As I was thumbing through the countless racks at Macy's on Thursday, Annabel was at my side, but of course not riding in her stroller. Another mother was positioned nearby, pushing her stroller/bag carrier as well, while keeping a watchful eye on what looked to be her similarly independent non-stroller-riding, 3-ish year old little boy.

"Tommy. Stay by Mommy," I heard her say repeatedly.

In turn, I offered up several, "Annabel. Stay right here. Do not walk away from Mommy."

The two of us kept calling out to our children, keeping them with in eyeshot, while also glancing over at the racks, looking for bargains. We even offered up a knowing glance to each other from an aisle over, that basically said, "I'm feelin' ya, sister. I know what you're going through. 'Sup with little kids who hate to shop?"

Then I heard the mother say again, "Tommy." Silence.

"TOMMY." Nothing.

"TOMMY." Crickets.

"TOMMY!!!"

Dude. We have a situation at Macy's. Tommy still hasn't surfaced. At that moment, I looked over at the mother, and I saw it. Full-on spazz mode.

Not that I blamed her.

Like I said, I have been there. The panic. Feeling frantic. Sweating. Tears brimming. The roundhouse kick to the stomach.

I immediately grabbed Annabel by the hand, and pushed my stroller out of the crowded racks and into the aisle. I had to help this mother. I said, "Did you find him yet? Can I help you?"

"PLEASE!!! TOMMY! WHERE ARE YOU? COME OUT NOW!!!"

Nothing. Not a peep out of any 3-year old boy, and the racks are deep, and the sales floor is vast, not including the many dressing rooms, which would also be a super-fantastically-fun hideout for a 3-year old boy wanting to make his mother urinate herself in the middle of Macy's out of sheer fright. And let's not forget the spazzing out part, because at this point, Spazzy Mom was shaking, wringing her hands, and had tears streaming down her face.

Not that I blamed her. Like I said. I have been her. The Spazzy Mom.

I shoved Annabel into her stroller quickly and went to look for Tommy, whom I didn't know, nor have any idea what he looked like.

The chances that a complete stranger would waltz into Macy's and just grab Tommy were slim. However, that simple fact in NO WAY stops any mother from thinking of that right away. Logic, schmogic. Your head suddenly fills with visions of Amber Alerts and every scary mass email and Oprah episode about kids being kidnapped at Wal-Mart, taken to a bathroom, having their head shaved and being shoved into a van with blacked-out windows.

It's almost impossible to stop your mind from going to that place.

I could tell that Spazzy Mom was thinking of these very things as she started to hyperventilate and almost tossed her cookies all over Michael Kors' new spring collection.

Not that I blamed her. I have been her. The Spazzy Mom.

The two of us called out Tommy's name, looking under clothing carousels for what seemed like an eternity, but looking back, was barely five minutes. Five minutes of a lost child is an ETERNITY.

A few people glanced our way, but then looked back at the racks, apparently deciding to mind their own biz. Believe me, I am ALL for people minding their own biz. Except when a child is missing. Then there should be much less minding your own biz, and a lot more helping to find the lost child. I'm just sayin'.

It was at that moment that I fervently wished I was one of those ballsy, loudmouth women that could be all, "LISTEN UP, BITCHES SHOPPING AT MACY'S ON A THURSDAY AFTERNOON. I KNOW Y'ALL ARE ALL TERRIBLY EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW OFFERINGS BY RALPH LAUREN FOR WOMEN, AND THE FACT THAT MACY'S HAS A CURRENT COUPON OFFER THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO TAKE 15% OFF THE TOTAL PRICE OF YOUR PURCHASE EXCEPT FOR REGULAR-PRICED ITEMS AND CERTAIN EXCLUSIONS, AND YOU KNOW THAT COUPON IS A SUCKER SCAM ANYWAY BECAUSE THEY NEVER, EVER LET YOU USE IT ON ANY BRANDS YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT, BUT A CHILD IS MISSING. A CHILD THAT SPAZZY MOM OVER HERE, WHO IS A TOTAL STRANGER TO ME AS WELL, LOVES MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD AND WOULD CUT OFF HER RIGHT ARM TO SAVE. IF YOU COULD JUST FIND IT IN YOUR MATERIALISTIC LITTLE HEARTS TO JUST GLANCE AROUND YOUR LITTLE AREA OVER THERE TO SEE IF YOU HAPPEN TO NOTICE A LITTLE BOY WHO IS MISSING, THEN THAT WOULD BE FABOO. HE IS A LITTLE BOY WHO IS VERY MUCH LOVED AND ADORED, BUT ONCE RETRIEVED WILL ALSO PROBABLY NOW BE GROUNDED FROM NICK JR. FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK FOR SCARING THE POO OUT OF HIS MOM. IT WOULD BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED."

But I could never say such things out loud. They exist only in my head, which is a very colorful place where I often shout at strangers. In all CAPS.

Finally Tommy was found hiding under a clothing rack all the way across the expansive room. Spazzy Mom scooped him up, started hugging him and continued to shake and cry. There would be time for scolding later. Hugs were in order.

Tommy sheepishly grinned at his mother, giggled and said, "I was playing hiding, Mama!"

Understatement of the year, buddy. Say, "buh-bye" to your friends Dora and Diego for a few days. Or is that a-hole Caillou one of your cohorts? In fact, this whole situation has that cueball Caillou written all over it. This is totally a trick he would pull on his mom. And then he would whine about it, of course. Whatevs. As I have said before, Caillou is dead to me. I will speak of him no more.

Spazzy Mom looked over at me, still shaking, with tears in her eyes and said to me, "Thank you so much. I feel so stupid for getting so upset. I knew he was just hiding somewhere."

I actually felt myself getting choked up over this mother's tears. This woman, who was a total stranger to me, almost made me cry. Because I have been there. I know what she is going through. Even one minute is too long to have your child go missing.

Damn girly hormones.

"Oh my gosh, no! I would have done the same thing!" I responded quickly. "This has happened to me before," I reassured her. "I have four kids, so I've definitely had this happen to me."

And with that, I wished Spazzy Mom a nice day, and I let her have her moment back with her son in private. I walked away with Annabel, who was still in her stroller trying to comprehend what just happened. I pushed her off to a side aisle, got down into her little face, wagged my pointer finger for emphasis and said, "Did you see that boy? He ran away from his mommy and now he's in big trouble. THAT'S why you have to stay by me. Look at that mommy. She is sad because her boy ran away."

Annabel was all, "Whatevs, Mom" about the whole situation, like any 3-year old would be.

It was time to go pick up the boys at school at this point, and as we headed toward the exit, Spazzy Mom was behind us, also trying to leave the store.

"I'm ready to go home now, Tommy, " she said, clearly exasperated. "This was not a very fun day at the mall."

I didn't blame her for wanting to leave. Like I said. I have been her.

The Spazzy Mom.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Goobers.

They really should have renamed this episode, "The Lady and the Tramp."

For obvious reasons.

First of all, mad props to Jake's family for "getting it" about Vienna and Tenley. Word to his mother.

NASA should somehow find a way to harness and use a woman's intuition. That's how powerful it is. I'm not saying that women all make snap judgments about people, but most of us women just get a feeling about people or situations, good or bad, and we are usually right. In other words, they're called "red flags," and they are "red" for a reason. Because they are supposed to warn you.

Vienna is one big red flag. She has red flags shooting out of every pore in her body. She has draped herself in a red flag and is dancing on top of another red flag. That's how much of a red flag she is.

It's not that men don't have intuition and use it properly. They just don't always think with their...ahem...BRAIN. Not all men, of course. Just some men. Jake said it himself when he, "wants to make sure that just because I'm so physically atttracted to Vienna that it's not kinda clouding or getting in the way of what my heart's telling me that I need in a wife." Of course, every relationship has to have attraction and chemistry. However, common values, goals and beliefs? Those are kinda important too, and Jake admitted that it is not his BRAIN he is using for the above-referenced thought process.

You're not supposed to think with that other organ, Jakey Cakes.

Poor Mrs. Pavelka. She must have eaten some bad goober peas when she was pregnant with her dear little Jakers, and her boy came down with a permanent case of "Gooberitis." When's the telethon for the cure? Can they line up some celebs for that, or are they all to busy with the really important causes, like Haiti Relief efforts? Dang.

Perhaps I can use my blog and my tens of readers for Gooberitis awareness. Here goes.

It's Gooberitis Awareness Week, peeps. There are Goobers in the world. Be aware.

Despite the fact that Jake's family seemed to "get it," I am convinced that ABC bribed them to be nice to Vienna and say that they loved her and say that she would be a "perfect fit". That's really the only explanation. I mean, come on. If I were sitting in a luxury villa in St. Lucia with my favorite people in the world, and some outsider (Vienna) came in to try to impress me, then sure, I'd probably say she is the bees knees too. Because of St. Lucia. And the beach. And the free trip. And the cameras. And the villa with the ocean breeze coming through the windows.

Wait. Hold on. I need some Scope. I just threw up in my mouth thinking about Jake and Vienna mud wrestling on their date to the sulphur springs.

Okay. All better now.

Oh wait. Pass the Scope again, please. I need to rinse and repeat. I just remembered that Vienna gave Jake the "Promise Ring" that her Dad gave her. You know, the one in which she promised her Dad not to be a slutbag anymore, and not to get married to someone for three weeks. Four weeks? That's cool. But three weeks is a total no-no. Right, Pops?

Hold on. I need to run to CVS for more Scope. I'm fresh out. I just thought of Jake's proposal to Vienna.

There is not enough Scope in all of CVS.

Sidenote to Tenley: You are much better off now. Much. 

Here is my major bone to pick with "The Bachelor". Imagine for a second that you and 24 other random girls from random backgrounds, random jobs, random upbringings, and all hailing from Randomtowns, USA, all stood in line together and then entered a random conference room in a random city. One random guy was led into the room. He was also from Randomtown, USA, and he had a random job, random religion, and came from a random family. Now really. What are the actual chances that you, and ALL of the other 24 random girls would fall madly in love with Sir Random Guy? Probably slim to none.

I agree with Jerry Seinfeld's character when he said on an episode of "Seinfeld" years ago that "95% of the population is undateable." At least to his standards. And it's okay to have standards. Because what fits into the 5% of what you would consider dateable wouldn't make it into another person's 5%. And that's okay. As my mom has always said, "There's a lid for every pot." So who says you should settle, and make a "lid" fit on your "pot", just because ABC picks some guy for you and throws you into a pit with 24 other bitches to let you battle it out?

That is why "The Bachelor" has such a low success rate. It becomes all about the competition with the girls. Their thinking is clouded. They want to be crowned Queen Prettiest Most Desirable to the Man, rather than finding the perfect lid to their pot. And once the cameras are off, they realize, "Hmm. This guy? I don't like him so much. He's kind of a goober."

The other load of crap that "The Bachelor" has been shoveling our way for the last few years is the fact that it's A-OK for the man that you are about to marry loves not only you but another woman almost equally. Really? Is it that hard to decide, Bachelors? Do you really need to hold two rings in your hand and play "eenie, meenie, minie, moe" with them? Because as a woman, I cannot think of anything more insulting. If you are married, think of the moment that your husband proposed to you. What if, just an hour before, he had a ring for his ex-girlfriend as well, but he decided, "Nope. I love you more. You win. I am the prize, and I have decided that you are worthy of me. Wanna make it official?"

As my mom also frequently says, while shaking her pointer finger with one hand and putting her other hand on her hip, "I DON'T THINK SO." Red flag? You just got hit in the face with one.

But will I stop watching? No. Because of the bitches. The crazy ones. And the Goobers.

If this season of the Bach has taught me anything, it is this:

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be Goobers.