My Superman

Tonight’s post will be short and sweet. I haven’t been as committed to this slice challenge as I had hoped I could be. It is harder than I expected to be able to find the time to write each day!
Having said that, tonight my thoughts are with my Dad. My dad is one of the most influential people in my life. My dad spent his whole life, and still does, by instilling the values of love, security, hard work, loyalty and humor to our family.
As a young girl, my dad could make me laugh so easily. My favorite “trick” was when he would pretend to walk into our bedroom door. He would open the door and stop it abruptly with his foot while jerking his head backwards at the same time. This action always followed with a dramatic “ouch” and it would create the deepest belly laughs I have ever known. I remember asking him over and over to do this and each time my laugh would get louder and longer and deeper. To this day I lose it when he does it for my girls!
My love of music and appreciation for truly great musical geniuses is owed to my dad. I’ve been belting out Neil Young songs before I could talk. Every Saturday I would awake to the sounds of The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Janis Joplin (the list goes on) echoing from the living room. Dad was doing his morning chores and it was time for us to get up and help! I remember going through my “hippie” phase in high school and I was blasting Led Zepplin. My dad knocked on my door and I was assuming he was going to tell me to turn the music down. To my surprise he said “Turn that up!” We then started belting out the words together.
When I was in college and met the man of my dreams, I knew he was the one because he exemplified the values of hard work and determination. There was no question that anyone I brought home to meet my dad would be anything less than a go getter. Laziness was never accepted and he would never respect it. People say girls marry men just like their fathers, and I did! My husband shares the same qualities that my dad does and I know my girls will always love and respect him as I do my dad.
I love my dad more than words can say. He is the strongest man I know, the bravest man I know and the greatest man I know. He is my hero. My superman. And when your superman is down it’s terrifying. He’ll get through this because he knows no other way. I love you Dad.

Teenagers=headaches

This January, I became the mother of a teenager. Not just any teenager, but a girl teenager.  The drama, the tears, the appalling looks, the hormones and the feeling of always doing something wrong is just about killing me already! It’s emotional for sure and I’m lucky to have a pretty easy kid!  The past few months have made me realize the hell my awkward adolescence put on my parents.

Things that used to be hysterical to my daughter now bring the risk of sudden death. She used to laugh at my singing and silly dancing but now I get a look of “Why are you trying to ruin my life?” Cheesy jokes used to bring on belly laughs but now the only reaction I get is a “You’re so lame mom.”   That one hurt.  Who doesn’t think knock knock jokes are to die for??  Now I know how my Dad felt when he would retell one of his 3 recycled jokes and I would shoot him down.  Sorry Dad.

It never fails. Regardless of what the situation, if she thinks I’m in the wrong there is no changing her life.  Even if common sense and logic are on my side….I’m still wrong.  Perfect example.  Every morning I drop my girls off at school.  It is usually uneventful.  It’s the only non-hectic part of our morning!  On this particular morning, I pull into the parking lot.  Julia is quiet in the back seat but alert and looking out the window for her teacher.  Mia on the other hand has never been as tired in her life as she is at that moment.  At least that’s what she said about 6 times.  She’s using all of her energy to just stay upright.  I pull up to the drop off and there are a few cars ahead of us.

“Girls. Do you want me to pull up or do you want to get out now?” I ask.

“Let’s get out now! I see Mrs. Reid!” yells Julia.

“Nooooo. Can you pull up? I don’t want to get out” Mia groans, as she scrunches up her face to fit her mood .

“Ok. I’ll pull up” I said.

I start moving the car forward when out of nowhere Mia jumps up, opens her door and starts to exit the car.

“There’s Liz! There’s Liz!” Mia yells as she spots her best friend walking towards the school doors.

“MIA!!!!! The car is MOVING!!!” I yell as I grab her arm to keep her from leaving the car.

“Moooom. Stop” whines Mia. She’s giving me the “you’re so lame” look.

“Mia! The car was moving! You tried to leave a moving vehicle!” I snap back.

“Moooom. Stop.” Mia whines again. The look.

“Mia! The car wasn’t stopped! You could have been hurt!” I scolded. I’m trying to reason with her.  Surely she’ll get it.

“Mooom. Stop.” There’s that look again.

Is this all she can say?

The car stops. Both girls get out.  Mia finds her friend and Julia finds Mrs. Reid.

I drive off and can’t help but feel like I did something wrong.  How the hell could she possibly be mad at me??? And why do I feel like a child who’s been reprimanded?  And shouldn’t Mia feel like this instead of me??? And why does my head hurt???

God help me!

Irish Temper

I like to think of my family as good neighbors. We keep to ourselves, but we aren’t reclusive.  We wave to the people on our block. Mike snow blows the sidewalks. I get the neighborhood gossip from the old ladies. We keep our lawn nice and our Christmas lights are taken down the week after Christmas.  Our girls have yet to break someone’s window and our dog hasn’t attacked a small child.  I’d say we are doing good.

Well, one of our neighbors had a different opinion. Here’s the back story.

The great blizzard a few years ago was horrific for me.  At the time I had a 6 year old and 6 month old.  My husband traveled and was clear across the country.  My 6 year old had pneumonia and I spent the evening into the next morning at the ER.  Mike couldn’t get home because the airports were closed and I was left with a really, really sick kid, a 6 month old who insisted on getting in my sick kid’s face and a pile of snow in my driveway.  My father-in-law dug me out but those helpful snow plows buried me back in.  Luckily, my neighbor was really kind and offered to dig me out again.  Nice guy.  I thanked him every time I saw him and told him what a huge help that was.  Well, he must have forgotten.

Several months later we noticed our “friendly” neighbor was acting strange. He was angry.  At us.  He would glare at us and went so far as yelling at my husband from across the street calling us “snobs.”  Now, I’ve been accused of being many things but never a snob.  What is his deal?

We soon found out. Picture this.  It’s a lovely spring evening.  My husband had just come home from work and I greeted him in the front yard.  We were inspecting our newly planted flowers.  We have become so domesticated.  Angry neighbor starts yelling/mumbling/slurring loudly at us from across the street.  Oh crazy Walt. He’s yelling at the tree again.  He starts walking down his driveway towards us.  Shaking his finger he yells, “You know what you are?”

Here we go. It’s finally happening.  I’ve been waiting to confront him and put an end to his odd behavior.

“What are we Walt? I’d love to hear your opinion of us” I say.

“You’re snobs!”

“Oh really Walt? Enlighten me. Why?”

“Not so much a thank you for shoveling your snow!”

Wait. What did he just say? Is he crazy?

He keeps walking towards us mumbling but I can’t hear what he’s saying.

So I walk towards him.

“You know Walt. I’m really sick of your accusations. Who do you think you are talking to us like that?! You know damn well I have thanked you repeatedly. Apparently you were looking for a monetary reward. That won’t happen so give it up!”

Oh I’m fuming. I can feel my face reddening.  My Irish temper is going. I’m getting loud and the other neighbors are coming out to see what’s going on.

He starts yelling. “You people think you’re too good for everyone!  You people are no good snobs!”

Now I’m almost across the street, I’m rolling my sleeves up. I’m going to tear him up.

I feel Mike grab my arm.

“Jess. Let it go.”

“No way! He’s talking about my FAMILY!!”

Pulling at my arm and leading me up the driveway, “Not now,” Mike says.

Walt continues yelling.

I’m confused.

“He’s being a jerk Mike! I can’t ignore that! Why should I let it go?”

“Because he’s drunk.”

Oh. I did NOT pick up on that.

His bark is bigger than his bite

My fur baby, Jack, is my pride and joy. He’s a beautiful, 65lb Australian Shepherd.  The love I have for him is immeasurable and slightly abnormal.  He’s the perfect dog.  Well, in my eyes he is.

He is extremely protective of his family and having two children I find that to be a major plus. He has a loud bark, which scares solicitors and religion hawkers clear off our porch.  It’s great because I used to simply say “I’m Catholic” and that would put an end to the Bible preachers, but now Jack does the job. My husband is less impressed with Jack but agrees that his ability to catch a Frisbee is pretty cool.

His bark is strong but is he as tough as he claims to be? We found out one afternoon when my brother-in-law came over and instead of ringing the bell, he wonders in the house through the back door.  This would be Jack’s moment to defend his family at all costs.  This is going to be ugly.  A long hospital stay will definitely be required.  Will homeowner’s insurance cover this? As the back door opens and a man that Jack was not expecting enters our home, Jack proves his fierceness.  He cowers and urinates on the kitchen floor.  Of course his fear turned to excitement and joy within a millisecond when he realized who the intruder was.  Ok.   No big deal.  That was a fluke.  It happens to me all the time.

Fast forward a few months and my husband’s best friend comes over. Doorbell rings. Cujo barks.  Door opens.  A big, strange man is at the door.  Jack is going to redeem himself.  Never mind.  Jack cowers and falls to the floor in utter submission.  Something is not adding up.  This is getting embarrassing.

Fast forward again. My husband, Mike, was painting the shed in the back yard.  He was wearing his baseball hat and his sunglasses.  Not his typical outfit.  I go out onto the deck to see how it’s going and naturally Jack follows me.  He sees Mike and begins to bark ferociously.  What is his problem?  It’s just Mike.  Then it dawns on me.  He can’t see Mike’s face.  He doesn’t know it’s Mike!  Mike then makes eye contact with Jack who is visibly angry and barking louder.  This is not good.  My dog is going to maul my husband.  Now I’ll have to choose between them….will homeowner’s insurance cover this?  I see Mike walking over and I know he is going to calm the dog.  Think again. My husband goes into full sprint, towards the angry dog and mocks him by barking loudly.  So Jack does exactly what I feared he would do.  He runs away from the “stranger” barking at him and hides behind me.

Our dog is defective.

I’ve turned into them!

We all swear we won’t do it. We say we’ll “never” or “over my dead body” be as horrible to our kids as our parents were to us. I was about 16 when I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would never, under any circumstances, be just like my parents. I would never refuse my daughter the experience of seeing her favorite band in concert. I would never be that uncool. I would never deny my daughter a life changing moment as my parents did when they wouldn’t allow me to see Bush in concert when I was 15. Just because Bush was a rock band known for violent mosh pits, and the concert was on a school night, 2 hours out of town and without parental supervision did not give my parents the right to deny me fun. Gavin Rossdale spoke to my soul. He understood me. I knew if I didn’t see him, I’d just die.

Well, I didn’t. Fast forward 20 years and here I am a parent to a teenager who wants to be involved in all aspects of the social circle. My daughter hasn’t asked me to go to a concert without a parent yet, but she has asked me to open an Instagram account. This is a tough call. On one hand, I want my child to be included with our ever changing world and that includes social media. On the other hand, I want to protect her from unnecessary exposure and dangers that so easily come with the internet. Thankfully, my daughter is highly mature and intelligent so I can have a rational conversation with her about it.

Me: Why do you want Instagram?

Highly mature and intelligent daughter: Because so and so has one.

 Ok. I can appreciate that. We all want to feel connected to our friends.

Me: What would you do with an Instagram account?

Highly mature and intelligent daughter: Take pictures.

 Ok. I still need a bit more.

Me: Why can’t you just share your pictures through text?

Highly mature and intelligent daughter: Because. That’s stupid

 There it is. Her well thought out, persuasive attempt to get something she wants. She’ll never be a lawyer. After some careful considerations following my in depth discussion with my daughter, I’ve decided to shut it down. I’m feeling she’s still just a bit too young to take on the responsibility of social media. I want to protect her just a little bit longer before she is thrown to the wolves of reality. Is that so wrong?

So, here I am. This is what I’ve become. Exactly what I swore I wouldn’t be. Like Casper and Connie many years ago, I am being the out of touch, uncool, secretly trying to squash any chance of fun from my child, heartless and horrible parent. And I’m doing it because I love her.

Common Sense Housekeeping

I love my girls. They are amazing, intelligent, and brilliant. However, they suck at cleaning. For years we have relied on chore charts to keep them both on track and to ensure they are completing their daily chores. We have bribed them with allowances or special treats to provide motivation. The chores on the chart might get done, but the other little things won’t. And when I say little things, I mean the basic things. Common sense. For instance, if you throw something away and miss the trash can, rather than walk away you should pick it up and place it in the trash can. Or, throw away your yogurt tub and put your dirty spoon in the sink. Because, let’s be real here. No one would leave it at their seat with the foil top stuck to the table and the yogurt filled spoon creating a sticky paste on the cloth placemat. Right? And you certainly wouldn’t open a packet of string cheese and put the wrapper on top of the empty yogurt tub. And you wouldn’t ignore the pile of garbage in front of you by attempting to eat around the mess. Right? Wrong. I know 2 people who would.
I can go on and on and on and on but for my own sanity I won’t. These are the most recent scenarios that sparked the “Common Sense Housekeeping.” I offered (more like forced) my girls to attend my Cleaning with Common Sense 101 course. The course consisted of me reenacting the ridiculous situations in which common sense was lacking while dirtying our home. After a few giggles from the little one and a few “I can’t believe I’m stuck with you” glances from my teenager, I think I made an impact. This weekend the girls would gently remind one another to use “common sense housekeeping” to keep the house clean. They would put their belongings away without being told. They would make sure garbage made it to the trash. They cleaned up water that spilled without being told. They rinsed dishes before putting them in the sink. They put the dog’s toys away. Life was good. This was going to work! I’ve created more than just a catch phrase.
Until today. I overheard my husband ask “Is that common sense housekeeping?” Pop Tarts from breakfast left on the table. *Facepalm.*