Monday, February 27, 2012

How To Annoy, Embarrass, And Otherwise Irritate Your Children

If I were to consider myself an expert in any area of life, it would have to be in a tiny subset of parenting called "Annoying Your Offspring." I do believe I could write a book. It's sort of my theory that if your children don't find you annoying, embarrassing, or otherwise irritating, then you aren't doing your job as a parent correctly.

I can make no claims on tricks to make children behave. I have no great understanding of raising children to be Respectful Young Adults Who Are Responsible Citizens Of The World. But driving my kids nuts? Stand back. I got this.

Here are a few things that have led me to excel in this particular area:

1. Insist on dental hygiene. At a certain age, this is the number one way to annoy your child. For some reason, they have no concept of why teeth brushing is important. They have even less concept of how their own rancid breath can make others want to curl into a fetal position to avoid the stench. So insisting that they brush their teeth once a day is akin to asking them to rebuild the Great Wall of China. Asking them to brush twice is devolving into utter madness. This is what you are aiming for.

2. Insist on dental hygiene, Part 2. Older children who have orthodontia are the targets here. Make sure to remind them 999 times a day to wear their rubber bands or retainers. Remind them that the more they do these things the better off they will be. Teenagers, in particular, are reluctant to take good advice. And hearing it more than one time will set off a chain reaction from their brain, causing neurons to fire and eyeball rolling to occur. You know that you have done your job here when eyeballs are rolling.

3. Ask them to pick up their dirty laundry and transfer it to a designated location. This is especially effective if you ask them to do it in the middle of their favorite television show, while they are in the midst of a video game firefight, when they are heading outside to play, or when they are staring at the wall doing nothing and they insist they are busy. Success is achieved when there is stomping by one or more of your offspring.

4. Or, the converse of number 3--Ask them to come get their clean and neatly folded laundry and put it away. Follow the same time/activity/success guidelines as stated above.

5. Dig for details on where they are going and who they are going to be with. You get bonus points if you volunteer to be the parent who drops them off at their designated location.

6. Be the parent who drops them off at the mall/movie/friend's house. You get bonus points if you yell something that cannot, on it's face, be construed as embarrassing but nonetheless is, out the window at them as they walk away. I have found "I love you!" to be the most effective for this. You'll know you are successful when you see their back stiffen and they walk quickly away pretending that they didn't hear you. Bonus points if they request the other parent to take them places.

7. Talk to their teachers. Note: this is really only effective with boys in the 3rd through 6th grade. Females seem to be impervious to this one. In fact, they often encourage it. You'll know you've met your goal when your child blushes, hides his face, or goes off to a far corner with friends and pretends not to notice you.

8. Make them all sit together someplace for an extended time (e.g. over 30 minutes.)--like church or the dinner table. Occasionally this will lead to the opportunity to both annoy and embarrass them. For older children, just acknowledging that they have parents and that they didn't spring forth fully formed from an American Eagle store at the mall, and having to be in their parents' presence in public is all that is needed to embarrass and annoy. For younger children, it's about placing expectations upon them that they not act like rabid ferrets in public, that will cause the annoyance/embarrassment. You will know that you have achieved success here when: a) they whisper "I hate you",  b) they fight with their siblings before, during, or after (or on particularly successful ventures, all three!) the occasion, and/or c) they ignore you and/or afterwards, they stalk off to their bedrooms and play very loud music.

9. Wake them in the morning. For younger children this is effective on weekdays when school attendance is compulsory. For teenagers, this is effective on weekends when school is not compulsory. Success is achieved when at least one child mutters or screams that "school/waking up is dumb and stupid and who ever thought of it anyway?" Bonus points if your child invokes the Free Country defense. (You know: "I don't have to wake up! It's a free country!")

10. Ask them to apologize. Any type of apology to any person for any offense will often result in blustering irritation. This is good. You will have achieved success if they deliver the apology in a sullen manner. Bonus points if the apologist (the person doing the apologizing) goads the apologee (the person receiving the apology) into an argument that causes the apologee to have to become the apologist.

So there you have it! 10 simple things that you, too, can do to annoy, embarrass, and otherwise irritate your children. It's a hard job, but someone's gotta do it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Queen Of King Cake

Over the last several years when I've wanted King cake to celebrate Fat Tuesday, I've just bought one at my local grocery store. But this year, thanks to Pinterest--and no small level of Pinsanity--I decided to attempt to make my own.

I won't tell you it was simple, because it was a bit of a time consuming process. Making a yeast bread always involves time. But I will tell you it was delicious. I think it turned out pretty good--even if the kids did use up all the purple sprinkles on the Christmas cookies. (Really, children? Really? Purple as a Christmas color? Why back in my day we only had red and green. Only the rich people had other colors. And the really rich people had the silver dragees that would break your teeth if you bit them wrong. What did the really rich people care? They could afford to have their teeth replaced! Also, we had to eat them barefoot. Up hill. In the snow. Or something.)

Anyway! It was tasty. And I would really declare myself the Queen of the King Cake, but I guess by rights that title should go to Maggie, who found the baby.

She's really excited about it. Can't you tell? She made me take about 25 pictures and they are all various forms of her mugging it up for the camera. I just don't get her. We are sooo different. That apple fell so far away from the tree it's just a dot!


So.  Let's recap.

King Cake = easy but time consuming
Eating King Cake = delicious
Finding the baby in the King Cake = yippee!
My daughter + me = so similar that sometimes it's scary.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Of Paint, Cake, Horseshoes, Sleepovers, And Musical Geekery

I've been busy y'all. First, I spent a few days last week changing our dining-room-that-isn't-a-dining-room from this

to this. It's not done, by any stretch, but this is a little sneak peek. And I am so much happier walking by that room now than when it was the depressing yellowy beige/dark brown.

We also had a celebration. It was touching to watch my daughter who most of the time regards her dad as an obstacle to fun and a walking, talking lump of embarrassment decorate a cake for him to celebrate his belated birthday. She worked and giggled and he complimented her work. I told her perhaps she would be the next Ace of Cakes and she promptly rolled her eyes and told me to stuff it. Ahhh, love.

In addition to cake, we celebrated with these:

If you are from central Illinois, you will know this on sight. If not, let me introduce you to the artery-clogging deliciousness that is a Horseshoe Sandwich--toast, meat/shrimp (we usually do chicken), a super fab cheese sauce, and fries (the nails on the horseshoe). We don't have them often, maybe once or twice a year. They are usually the special dinner request of someone who is celebrating a birthday.

And then there was this:

The aftermath of my boys and two neighbor boys watching a pay-per-view wrestling match and allegedly sleeping over. I speculate that there was very little sleeping. Although when I came downstairs this morning, I found one boy asleep in the recliner, one on the floor, one on the air mattress, and James face down on the hardwood floor of the dining room whatever room, covered by his Steelers blanket laying down some z's, two televisions on,  and every light ablaze. I confess, it was a little like walking into a junior version of The Hangover minus the tiger in the bathroom.

I woke them with the call of these:

Later today, I will attempt to make King cake for tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, because it has made me happy in a music/science geek way, you should watch this.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Say What?

So I am, as my Granny used to say, knee deep to a tall Indian around here these days. I am in the midst of painting my dining-room-that's-no-longer-a-dining-room. It required me to move out the furniture, tape off all the trim, and prime the spots we patched and the very dark brown paint under the chair rail. Seriously, if there is a color sucking palette, the dark brown/yellowy beige that's going on in that room is it. Blergh. (Why yes, I am spending my Valentine's day painting. It's how I show my beloved, who is out of town for the week, that I love him. "Look dear! I did all this painting while you were gone because I love you" {said in my best Dug from "Up" voice} What? Don't you celebrate the international day of love with paint and primer? Well you should. It's way better than chocolate. Or something.)

Anyway! (Digression. It's what's for dinner.) (Or something.) (Parentheticals are my bestest friend.)

I wound up at the paint counter at Lowe's last night to get the paint I needed. After I told the gentleman behind the counter what I needed, I headed off to get the other supplies required for the job and then looked in vain for the ever elusive "looking glass" spray paint. (I swear this paint is my Bigfoot. Other people have found it and used it, so it must exist, but I sure can't find it. Someone point me in the right direction, please.) Then I headed back to the counter to see if my paint was done.

As I strolled up to the counter, the paint man muttered something and dropped a paint can lid.

"I'll be right with you," he said. "The nozzles on this machine got clogged and sprayed yellow paint everywhere and then I dropped this lid. Let me just clean this up right quick."

"No problem," I chirped. (Yes. I was chirping. It was my first time out of the house without a kid all day as Mary had been home sick. Pity me. I was at a home improvement store, and God help me, I was ecstatic!)

I waited, watching him clean up the mess. He did a quick clean up of the big splotches and then stepped up to the counter.

"How may I help you?" he asked.

"Um. You already did. I just need my paint,"

"Right. That paint spill got me flustered. Your paint is ready. Let me just clean off my hands. I want to have clean hands when I touch your can."

He stopped, winced, and apologized. "That didn't come out right. Sorry about that."

I was too busy laughing to answer.

And that? That little exchange is one of the reasons I blog.

Now excuse me, but I've got a gallon of Pebble Gray calling my name.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What's On My ______?

Just thought I'd take a few moments to share with you some good things that I'm enjoying. Some you may know, some you may not, but as I've stated many times in the past, I'm a giver. Maybe you'll enjoy them, too.

What's on my bedside table: 

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp--a book of gratitude that I am taking my time reading. Her writing is dreamy, her beliefs solid.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green--this is a book designated for Young Adults, but I enjoyed it. Really well written. The premise is agonizing, and you might cry a little, but you will laugh, too.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close--I haven't seen the movie and I know it has had some mixed reviews, but I can say that the book is very good. It's different and I'm really enjoying it. I've laughed out loud several times and I've also had my heart good and wrenched.

What's on my ipod and Spotify:

The Head and The Heart--folksy and delicious.

Scars on 45--I want them to follow me around everywhere I go and sing.

Gotye--intriguing and cool.

Trombone Shorty--I dare you not to dance. Or at the very least tap your feet. And there is no way you can be in a bad mood after listening.

The Temper Trap--I love them in a way that borders on stalkerish.

Fitz and the Tantrums--retro, cool, funky, fun.

Rachael Yamagata--I want her to sing to me in my kitchen while I'm fixing dinner.

Sara Gazarek--ditto.

What's on my DVR:

Downton Abbey--I watched the full first season late last summer and couldn't wait for it to start again in January. Yes, British soap opera, but boy howdy! It's good!

The Middle--Wednesday nights are my Kids Take Care Of Yourself Mama's Busy Night. And this show is one of the reasons why. The writers have a spy camera in my house. I'm sure of it.

Modern Family--Again. I make it known to my offspring not to need me for anything unless their hair is on fire. And even then I might tell them that that they are smart and they can problem solve this one on their own.

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon--Really, what's not to love?

What's at the top of my internet favorites:

Chookooloonks--if you've never visited Karen Walrond's site (and why wouldn't you? It's right over there on my blogroll!) you are missing out on some beautiful photography and much more. Karen has a wonderful take on life. She's 'wildly convinced you are uncommonly beautiful.' And she's right! In addition to her vision of life, and her fabulous skills with a camera, she's got a great sense of humor.

Bedtimes are for Suckers--this might not be for everyone, as there is some "salty" language now and again, but if you want a take on life from a cranky 5 year old and the opportunity to have some snorting laughter, this blog can't be beat. (Thanks to my Supah Genius brother, Jon for leading me here. You da bomb, bro.) (Let's pretend I didn't just add that last part.)

Pronunciation Manual--you can find this on YouTube. Not to be confused with Pronunciation Book, which gives actual pronunciation for learners of English, Pronunciation Manual packs comedy gold into 8 seconds. I particularly enjoy the pronunciations of "escargot," "Aeropostale," and "Kanye West." blog devoted to color. Searching for a color palette? You can find it here. happens when a man teaches his cat to instant message. I don't have a cat. I wouldn't call myself a cat person. But I love this blog and crack up--like big, snorting guffaws--when reading it.

So there you have it. The things that have been keeping me occupied lately. What about you? Have you come across anything good? Well, you should really do like your kindergarten teacher taught you and share. (Like right here. In the comments section.) It's always more fun than keeping the good stuff to yourself.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Before And After: Side Table

It's been a bit since I've had any before and afters to show. It's not that I haven't been on the hunt for stuff, it's just that the stuff hasn't been there for me to find. However, I did recently come across this table. I wasn't in love with the rattan, but I did like the lines. And I knew the rattan was something that a few coats of spray paint could fix.

Here it is before, sitting in our forlorn--but not for long--basement. (Okay, our basement will still be forlorn for a bit longer. But it's less forlorn than it was and it is the project that has my beloved's focus now, so you know. Hope, and all that.) That white stuff on it is primer. Because I had started in on it, having sanded and started to prime it before I remembered to take a "before" picture.

And here it is in our baby poop brown living room. Can you tell that I am tired of living with other people's decorating choices? Because actually, even though the room photographs baby poop brown, it's not. The brown is an okay color. In fact, it's very close to the brown we painted in the master bedroom of our old house. But that's the problem. I am OVER. IT. Done with the brown! In fact, if I were to show you the whole wall there, you would see white patches where my beloved (finally) filled and sanded holes from the previous owners' decorating decisions. Soon--perhaps as soon as next week!--I will be painting our dining room--can you call it a dining room when it no longer contains dining room furniture and instead has a couch, desk, t.v. and gaming system?

Hmm...I seem to have digressed. Have you gathered that I have my mind on several things? That other things are afoot in the decorating department? Yes. The table is nice. It fits the spot and was just what I needed.

For now. It may end up painted bright yellow and be an accent table in the dining-room-that's-not-a-dining-room somewhere down the road. Or not. I am nothing if not indecisive.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Through My Lens

I went out the other day and took a walk. And then I took a drive. And then I almost ran out of gas. But I didn't, so the world was saved. Or not.

But I did go out, and I took my camera with me. That was something I hadn't done for awhile. On Facebook, I've been posting a photo a day of things for which I'm grateful. That has been a good exercise both for my photo skills and for my heart. But it's been a long time since I've just gone out with my camera for the sheer pleasure of shooting. I ended up with lots of images, but these are the ones I'm happiest with.

And yes, I know there are lots of images of trees, but for some reason that day they made me really happy. Especially the sycamores. There's just something about a sycamore tree that I love--I'm not sure if it's their height or their variations in bark color or their gnarled branches, but I'm drawn to them.

In the end, I came home with a full tank of gas for my van and a full tank for my spirit. Looking through a lens helps me see the world in different way and appreciate it all the more.

I hope your day is especially bright and that you can look at things in a way that you never have.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


So, we went downtown for this little party last night. I have to say it was super in every way: Super Sized, Super Crowded, Super Friendly, Super Exciting, Super Fun.

And alas, Super Disappointing in that I did not get to tell Jimmy Fallon how wicked ahhsome he is. Apparently I was a couple hours late to see him on the zipline. Bummer. But we did get to see some other great stuff.


And look, here's where the zipline ends.

And here is where it starts--several stories above the ground.

And here's someone ziplining!

Shoot. That's a tame one. We saw people upside down! And several taking videos of their trip. And I became a big "woo girl" once again because every time someone flew by overhead I gave a big "WOOOOOOOOOO!" I'm happy to say I caused many others around me to "woooo" as well. If someone decided to put one of these somewhere in Indy permanently, I think they could make a million billion dollars. Lots of people--including me--would have loved to ride, but didn't get the chance.

Inside the NFL experience, there was a lot of standing in line. See?

We felt rather like cattle being herded and I found myself mooing out loud rather than just in my head. Hey. It helped pass the time.

Once we got out of all the various lines, we found a good spot for a commemorative photo.

I love the look on my beloved's face. It says gee-these-are-mighty-good-times-I'm-having-can-we-please-find-another-line-to-stand-in-because-that-would-make-my-night. I'm not sure what James is doing. Trying to look cool like a SuperBowl champ? The world may never know.

Then we found other places for photo ops. Like the photos spots for each team. We have a friendly Giant

and a terrifying Steeler.

I'm not sure why we didn't take some of the rest of us behind the Colts dummy.

And we hit the mock locker room and found the gear of some favorite players. #10 with #10.

My Steelers fan with Mike Wallace's gear.

I was all "Hey, isn't Mike Wallace a little old to be playing football? He should stick with 60 Minutes." And James was all "60 Minutes? Whatchu talkin' 'bout Willis?" Whatever. You kids get off my lawn.

Then we hit the Play60 field and watched Curtis Painter (Colts QB and former Boilermaker) have some fun with bunches of lucky kids.

We also saw the NFC,


and Lombardi trophies.

And some more jerseys.

Now there's a jersey!

Oh! Watch out girls! Don't get trampled!

Then we headed outside and heard some music and watched people and made our way to the Circle to see the giant XLVI letters. At this point, I had to carry Mary piggyback because she told me that she had walked enough and had enough exercise for the entire week.

We encountered some officers and their mounts.

Thanks, horses, for providing awesome entertainment for Mary just by being horses, and for pooping, so that my 10 year old would be delighted, too.

And finally made it to the Circle.

It was a party there like I've never seen. Maggie said that she thought it must be a little like Times Square on New Year's Eve. She's probably right. But it was much warmer. (Crazy weather for January, but this girl's not complaining!)

I've never seen our downtown so crowded. Or so wonderful. Indy, you shone like a jewel last night. Thanks for the great time!