Friday, May 29, 2009

They Know

So, we've just finished with Beanie's birthday party. 10 8 year olds, held in a park (lots of running around), on a week-day night, fed them KFC and DQ, played a few games. And it left us DRAINED. And a little scared. Scared that our now 8 year old behaves the same way when she is at other children's birthdays. Because frankly, I was horrified. But, I'm trying to put it into perspective. It is an out of routine for most children and they test limits. Still, I think future birthdays will be dialed WAY back.

Which brings us to last night. Yesterday the shrimp truck* was in town and I availed myself to it. I brought home pieces of shrimp to freeze for homemade potstickers, plus 2 lbs of jumbo shrimp for dinner. I fried them and served them with a caesar salad, freshly cut pineapple and some garlic bread. On the deck as it was gorgeous. With a glass of wine or two. This was when we got "hit-up".

Our 13 year old came and asked us if it was possible for her to have an end of the school year party. Now, this coming on the heels of the 8 year old's birthday you would think we'd have said unequivocally NO. Thus we see the effects of a glass of wine on; short term memory. And the negotiation begins. When? Thurs. No (but that was only because *I* have Thursday plans which puts the husband in charge). Fri? Yes, Friday will work. 6-midnight? NO! 5:30-10:30pm? Accepted. How many? How many can I have? Uh, no, we need a number from YOU and we'll negotiate that. 15-20? We agreed to 18. Co-ed. Mostly outside. Snacks and pop. DONE.

Kids are smart, almost diabolically so. They know the EXACT time to hit you up for something they want. They know a glass wine will aid in their cause. Or two. Timing IS everything.

*shrimp truck =every 3 weeks fresh seafood is flown up from Galveston TX and is sold out of giant coolers in white truck about the Twin City area. For someone who LOVES fresh seafood, it's about as good as it gets in Minnesota

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's a Hard Knock Life

We had an awesome Memorial Day weekend. For the first time in ages, the weather cooperated and we were able to take full advantage of that. We had friends over and grilled, we went to a friends house's who grilled, we took the boat out on her maiden (this year) voyage. Super soakers were out in force as were water balloons. It really was a perfect weekend. Except for...

We gave my oldest daughter a season pass to the local amusement park for her 13th birthday. She went Saturday with two friends (and a list of rules). About 6pm we got the phone call from her. Her camera was stolen along with the few dollars she had left.'s always around the time that I start feeling that there is more good in the world than bad that crap like this happens. Maybe we need it to shake us out of complacency and make us be a bit more vigilant. Anyway, she was in the water park section, had used her camera, was putting it away to go on a ride and actually commented that she hoped no one stole her camera. And someone stole her camera. A little prophetic. Oddly enough, hers was the only bag the "thief" went through. The other girls' items were untouched.

I feel bad for her, especially since the camera was a gift for her 12th birthday. Since she doesn't download pictures as she takes them, she also lost all the pictures on the camera. And while there weren't any compromising pictures on the camera, there are pictures of the girls being...well girls. Doing all sorts of posing, giving different looks: pouty, silly, sultry...etc. The upshot is that this is another learning situation for her. It sucks but it's reality. She's too cheerful of a person for this to turn her into a cynic, but I think it may have helped her see how she needs to really think through what "safe" really is. While being expensive, it was really a "soft" knock. Hard knocks really hurt.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

20-20 Hindsight

You know that point in your life when you look back at your mistakes with perfect clarity and really REALLY wish you could go back and "do the right thing"? Even when that thing will raise the ire of someone you love?

Our son chose to take a pretty intensive school schedule this, his freshman, year. He was taking the following honors classes: English, Civics, Biology and Geometry in addition to Spanish and the Coup de Grace IED (Introduction to Engineer Design) which is a college level class. We knew at the beginning of the school year that he could earn college credit for the class this year if he passed an end of the year exam, BUT in order to be eligible to take the exam, he would have to maintain an 85 average for the whole year. The first 2 quarters he was right at an 85.

Earlier this spring, we gave our son 14 year old son texting. At the time, I knew, really KNEW in my heart that it was a mistake. But I wanted to be the "kewl" mom. Plus, he had wanted it for Christmas and we made the conscious choice at that time NOT to make it a Christmas gift. So, as his disappointment played out, we told him he'd have to earn it and for a couple weeks, he worked hard at earning it. We felt it was deserved so we acquiesed. And since it added just $10 to our plan we gave him unlimited for a penny, in for a pound.

Well, the inevitable happened. The phone was permanently affixed to his hand. AND the grades started to slip. His third quarter grades were less than stellar. Not horrible, but not what we knew he was capable. I wish I could just write this off as, hey, it's 9th grade, he has plenty of time to bring the grades up, but that is really just parental rationalization.

We screwed up. It's that simple. We saw the effects of texting on him and instead of doing the right thing and removing the distraction, we threw out threats of taking away the texting/phone. The texting should have been removed from the phone as soon as the grades started slipping. Instead we used it as leverage. Bring the grades back up or we'll take away texting. Now, to his credit (or it may have been just luck) he DID bring the grades up. The problem: his 3rd quarter IED grade was low enough that for him to be able to take the exam, he would have to receive a 98 for the 4th quarter. Currently his 4th quarter grade is the best yet, but it won't come close to a 98. So, he will not be able to take the exam, or earn college credit for the time spent, instead, he will have to retake the class in college. With us footing the bill.

Parenting teens is very much a learning experience. We are conservative enough to NEED our children to feel a little pain of their actions so that they can learn from them. We frequently waver walking that fine line between wanting them to learn from their mistakes and wanting to protect them from HAVING to learn from their mistakes. Let us make the mistake and tell you how NOT to make the mistake. But I have concluded that, in most cases, teens NEED the "pain" of their mistakes to learn.

I can see that clearly. I have perfect 20-20 hindsight.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Delegating...It's a Good Thing

Of my 4 children, it's my youngest that is the most...extreme. And I mean that in both a good and bad way. Some days, I'm tempted to take her in and have her tested for attention deficit, but then I remember...she's 7. She needs those carefully explained instructions, followed by the 4-8 reminders, then the ensuing losing of the maternal temper. Right? This is 7.

Then there are the moments that just CRACK.US.UP. Saturday is her birthday. This is the first time that her birthday has fallen on Memorial Day weekend. So, we really can't plan a party for her this weekend. Last weekend we were too busy. Next weekend we're headed camping. Timing wise, we're in a bit of a pickle as school lets out on June 3 and we want it done before then. We have decided to have a week day/early evening party for her. *pause to hear all the parents groan*.

My first thought was let's take it somewhere ELSE. Else being ThoseRidiculouslyExpensiveJumpingPlaces. Then I checked out the website, saw the price for an early evening party of a 2 hour duration and thought ARE.YOU.KIDDING.ME? That didn't include the cake, the inevitable dinner (because who sends their kids to a 6pm party having EATEN dinner?), AND the expected goodie bags. PLUS...the "package" included a ridiculous number of children (14-25) and I don't want to be paying for children who are NOT going to be there. OK, that was out.

She wants 9 friends, both girls and boys. *I* don't want anyone in my house. Yup...that's me, being self absorbed. I did a big home birthday party for her last year, a Tea Party, and if I do say so myself, it was FABULOUS!(exclamation point) But it was A LOT of work and I don't want to do that this year. So, I did what I rarely do: I threw the ball into the husband's court and said, "YOU deal with it."

His idea? Take all the kids to a local park. Order KFC. Set up some games. Do DQ with late pick up ice-cream cake at the park too. And pretty much let them run wild. I am SO good with that idea. Since it was his idea, I decided he would get the honor of telling her (because frankly, I'm not sure I could have dredged up the amount of enthusiasm necessary to convince my soon-to-be 8 year old daughter that a couple hours in the park was infinitely better than 2 hours of jumping heaven). She called him, at my request, and he told her of his idea. And her eyes grew round and her face cracked in half with a smile that I can't seem to get off her face. She LOVES it.

Now, she's taken to calling her father and requesting "details". Her side of the conversations goes like this:

Beanie: Daddy, go over the details of the party again.
Pause for daddy's response
Beanie: Yeah....Yeah...uh huh...FUN!

My guess is that what she is doing with these details is what we told her not to do: talking this up at school. I'm sure she's making it out to be THE event of the season and woe be it unto you if you haven't made her exclusive guest list.

Please...pray for a dry day. Otherwise, this practice of avoidance will all be for naught.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wonders DO Never Cease

The weekend turned out better than expected (and worse). Husband and son came home early Sunday, sans turkey (OK...FIL was still with them ;-p). There was a bit of a medical issue that needed attending and I'll leave it at that. I know he was disappointed. Last year, they had heard the turkeys on Sunday and Sunday WAS a beautiful day...perfect for a turkey to take his lady turkey friend out for a walk through hunter infested land.

On the perm front, my middle daughter decided to wait on the perm, cutting about 2-3 inches off and doing a front taper, letting the older daughter wallow in her "perm glory". Actually, it IS pretty cute, which I never doubted. She had some layers cut into it, leaving it long enough to catch in a pony and the front tapered from the "bangs". Yeah!

So, we had big fluffy waves. I won't say what it cost me, beyond...OUCH! Still, we didn't have arguments over who was getting what. We had support for one another. Wonders do in fact, never cease.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wanting What You Don't Have

My husband and son (with 76 year old grandpa along) just left to go spring turkey hunting. They'll be gone the whole weekend or until they get a money's on the whole weekend. They go to my SIL/BIL's land down in southern Minnesota where last year, they got skunked (unless you count hearing turkeys), although my son did get his first deer there last fall. It's a time of male bonding that, quite frankly, I can do without. We (the girls and I) have gone with them a couple times and stayed at a hotel while they hunt but I really think it's better this way.

So, the girls and I will do what girls do. I'll take the two older girls for their post dance recital haircut. For those not in the know, most dance recitals require the girls to wear their hair in a certain fashion; that being one that is usually pulled away from their face, so having longish hair is pretty much required unless you want to use an entire can of Aquanet and a full package of bobby pins. So, I invoke the mom law* that states that there will be NO haircuts until after the recital, starting at Christmas, just to be sure. My youngest (almost 8) was VERY anxious (as in excited) to get her hair cut and we did that on Tuesday, cutting off enough to send to Locks of Love. She was easy. It's my older two (13 and 10) who will drive me to PROZAC, (yes, in this case it IS capitalized).

I guess I'm to blame for being just as opinionated as they are (so, they get it honestly), but frankly, I don't GET it. I seriously do NOT like the style girls (that's girls in general) their age are wearing their hair. The most popular being the ironed straight, side sweep that just looks stringy (because it's cut to look like that) and is perpetually in their face. Seriously. IM(everso)HO, it is completely lacking in style. Now, here is the struggle that I am planning on surrendering to: my girls...they won't actually style it to the cut. They'll just pull it back into a pony (with the ever present fist full of bobby pins) and call it good. Uh...we can do that now so why bother cutting it, or cutting it into a style? If we just leave it as it is at least I won't be struggling next dance recital trying to figure out how to wrap 3/4 in of hair around a sponge roller in order to achieve the required curl. Oh, and let's be clear...*I* am the one responsible for the curl.

So, because I am so totally opposed to the straight stringy style, I'm going to 'bribe' them with perms. OH, it won't be the tight geri-curl perm (like that of Sister Purification, my 9th grade French teacher), but rather using probably the white and purple rods (yes, I am well acquainted with the rod colors) for the oldest, and the peach for the 10 yo. The oldest has thick AND dense hair. By that I mean I typically have to struggle to get the biggest pony around her hair 2x (she'll be lucky to get the pony around once AP). The 10 yo has hair that is fine but she has a lot of it. Hers is the hair that tends to look stringy. I need to know that for either one, they just will need to dampen their hair for it to be anything other than a stringy mess. A perm was my only option (for them...heh, heh, heh).

Of course, no one is ever satisfied with what they have. When you have straight hair, you want curly. When you want curly, you have straight. It's a the epitome of no-win situations. So what's a mom to do? We cave (although not gracefully) and let them learn to be careful what you wish for.

On that note...wish me luck. The "she is getting a perm too?" argument has already begun. And to think, I was thankful for a testosterone free weekend. I might be ready to join the boys turkey hunting next year.

*the law that states what I say goes because it makes MY life easier and for no other reason