All moms should be divas...this one just happens to be in Jersey!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Let's play.... The Match Game!

Ok- on to round two. To recap the rules, one question per week, with winning answer worth 10 points. The first player to reach 50 point wins. Best answer is selected by scientific method of what cracks me up the most. In tie, my huband votes. If still deadlocked, your fate is determined by my 10 year old who has a stronger sense of wit and irony than my 12 year old. Multiple answers may be posted, so enter early, enter often.

Last week's winner was Les. Congrats Les, you passed the 10 yr old tie breaker! : )

I am happy to say prizes have been selected. The lucky, diligent winner will receive a choice of a "Jersey Girls Don't Pump Gas" shirt OR a deliciously decadent choclate pack - both from Bellisimo-The Giving Basket of Chester, NJ.

Ok- Round Two, inspired our prizes:

You can always tell a girl from Jersey, because she'll ______________ you(r) ____________ when you least expect it.

Cue the funky theme!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Volunteer Wrangling Ninjas

If you've read any of my posts, you know my sons are "energetically challenged." By this I mean their energy is an immense challenge to anyone in charge of controlling them. Cutting to the chase, it's meant many a nerve racking phone call waiting to be told that "perhaps" my son(s) may not be the "best fit" for that school, camp, team, etc. They have ADHD. It is what it is. We work through it as best we can, and life goes on. Any of you that have or know a child with ADHD knows it's not always smooth sailing.

Now while I sound all calm, cool, and collected, clearly in the heat of the heartstopping calls I never am. I feel badly for my son. I truly do. We are also left scrambling with what to do for work. Every new place used to send shivers down my spine as I dreaded the locale's name on caller ID. I hated to schedule anything for work the first 10 days the boys were in any new setting, even in my own office. More than once, I had to quickstep from a client for one of "the calls." Ugh, "the calls."

But then, my Eureka moment! If I became indispensable, they couldn't kick out my kids. Well, they could, but they'd have to think twice. I had been in enough business groups and volunteer orgs to know you never wanted to piss off anyone volunteering for anything. Do so, and risk having to do it yourself. They'd lose fees for one boy with adHd (they're all about the H)... but they'd have to say goodbye to the recess monitor and the go-to-gal for color copies. It would be, "Sayonara!" to the willing field trip monitor. Need 600 phone #'s entered into an XL file? Sure! New website?  Right on it! But, boot the kids, and you boot your volunteer. It was evil genius.

Only the thing is, now, this key strategy is beginning to backfire. My sons are beginning to control themselves slightly, so there are fewer phone calls. BUT-- The things I'm now getting hit up to do are taking up as much time as my business, leaving critically low time for exercise, reading, organic gardening, or TMZ. I can't set foot near the place without a request. If it's not a fellow parent/ committee head, it's the principal. If it's not the principal, it's a teacher my kids have never even had who has bought into the urban legend I can cure all paper reproduction needs, bake 48 cupcakes, and run networking cable through a two story building simultaneously. It's gotten to the point that as soon as I hear "Oh, Mrs. L....." I'm actually praying son 1 or son 2 has thrown a book.  I mean, not AT someone. God no- then I'd have to sign on to paint the building every August.

The joy I feel when my husband says he's picking up the kids at school is frighteningly immense. One less time to get caught in the crosshairs. At pick up time, I enter the building and move toward the playground, sweat starting, eyes darting side to side, heart racing like I'm ready to rob the Louvre. I see my 10 yr old. I wave him over; I dare not raise my voice and be heard. I know he will scream, "Mommy!" leaving me only precious seconds before detection. Where's the older one? I can't spot him. Don't you know I have no time or they'll see me? I'll get asked for SOME committee slot? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD where are you, 12 yr old?

They're very good, these volunteer-wrangling ninjas. They're like waiters who approach after food is in your mouth. They know when you can't object. They pounce when I'm at my weakest. If even the slightest signal is shown that I'm in a rush to go, requests are fired at me. In my stressed state I am not thinking and therefore the words, "Sure, no problem," tumble out of my mouth. When it is clear I am trying to keep it in check because my 12yr old has forgotten his Science book in a now-locked classroom this final night before his final (and every night preceding), I get peppered with enough would you, can you, and could you to keep me busy through the End of Days.

And so, around the corner strolls my older son, looking relaxed and carefree. Bully for him. In those fleeting moments came request 122, this time to join committee 10. And since the request came with the parallel statement that highly inappropriate words were used today by the prodigal 12 yr old, they know fear over "the calls" is renewed, and therefore my consent is sealed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Match Game

So here's how we play. Each week, I pose a question- Match Game style. (no copyright infringement intended. Consider it an hommage.) I may get one of those super-skinny-Gene-Rayburn-stick microphones. Kelly Red- I need a Brett Summers fill-in STAT!

So while I'm hunting Ebay for my mic and some shag carpet, you enter your answer as a comment. Easy peasy. Use real life or sarcasm. Or both. Winning answer each week will get 10 points. First to hit 50 points wins. I'm not sure what you'll win yet. That would imply I've thought this thru at least 5 weeks. Trust me, it'll be good. running to peruse Bellisimo of Chester NJ 

 Let's do this all official-like:

 I knew I was maybe not cut out to work with the general public the day that I ______________ someone in ___________.

Click here to cue the funky music

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why wouldn't we burst into song?

Yes, managing family & a small business requires military precision. So without further delay, (with a nod to those whacky guys, Gilbert & Sullivan), I bring you a working-parent's song:

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information parental, professional, logistical.

I know every shop for coffee, and school reports historical
From start of school to early June, in order categorical;

I'm very well acquainted, too, with lost books mathematical.
I hate each morning’s mayhem, with chaos so unavoidable.

With shouting kids while on work calls, my patience I think I shall lose,
And more junk food from the drive thru, I’m gonna look just like a moose.

I'm very good at committing to volunteer time ridiculous;
And my kids don’t seem to care that I’m trying to run a bus-i-ness.

In short, in matters parental, professional, logistical,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

I know so-called life/work balance, is one of hist’ries biggest crocks;
I work with crazy clients, and dioramas in a shoe box.

I race to school with tardy kids trying to catch the field trip bus,
My husband & I swear this whirlwind won’t get the better of us.

Whilst I tell you tales of scheduling that would bring a grown man to his knees,
In reality, dawn through dusk, regardless of costly fees,

I dream of sleep’way camps for a week or two, heck- let’s try for four.
I love my kids, I really do, but weeks of peace are things of lore.

I cherish quiet moments at my desk, they’re so far from my norm,
Then scribe a check to replace my son’s third lost soccer uniform.

In short, in matters parental, professional, logistical,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

A working parent’s day calls for adjustments quite chameleon,
When bedtime’s passed, we sit down to tonic with a hearty splash of gin.

When such affairs as snow and school vacation breaks I'm more wary at,
I know my husband signed willingly as my compatriot.

I bring work home, pleas for calm fail, so then resort to bribery,
The stress of which makes me want to dash to join a nunnery.

In short, when you’ve seen the lengths of my home/career balance strategy,
You'll say a better Major-General there never was than she.

If you saw my lively sons and home run like a penitentiary,
It would be very clear I’m the true mother of the century;

But still, in matters parental, professional, logistical,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

Friday, May 14, 2010

See the thing is, Mommy's a little numb right now

I should be... wrapping up work to go home, getting uniforms ready for tomorrow's games, maybe going so far as getting some groceries so there's more than an apple as old as Eve, two Gogurts, and a bottle of Guinness in the fridge. But, the thing is kids~ Mommy's mentally and physically numb right now.

This week, I stood and watched as my company's server crashed. And by crashed, I mean the box spewed smoke. Now's not the night to wait until 9:30 pm to say you received three days of detention starting tomorrow. If you have a brain in that beautiful little head, you'll give me at least 48 hours notice of any science project. You'll not stand there and tell me it's due tomorrow morning. You got your progress report? Great. Throw me a bone and "forget it" in your locker one night. You'll understand that a bowl of cheerios IS dinner. I'll pretend I didn't see you add Skittles to it, nor ask where the heck you got Skittles. I think there's enough milk for the bowl. (?) Go ahead, kids. Divvy it up. And please don't start hitting each other AGAIN with the spoons. Or the bowls.

Wait- where was I? Oh, right~ I'm numb. There are times in life when work and family can coexist. They have to. Tonight- with server-smoke still in my nostrils, I'm numb and I don't know how they can. Massive chunks of client work from the past two-three years may be lost. Gone- like some hapless, mysterious sock inexplicably evaporating from our laundry room. Maybe tomorrow, when I'm surprised to learn the back up covered what I needed after all, I'll feel better. But my numbness comes from knowing that now, only skilled (read as way expensive) specialists in clean suits and rooms have a shot at salvaging any of it.

I'm a mom, right? I know you always need a back up plan. I thought I planned. I thought I was a good little data-backer-upper. Not so much it turns out. Now I know you must explicitly specify to those responsible which data to back up. It turns out IT people aren't intuitive. They live in the world of logic only- Yes or No. Not my "wellll, yeah you should..." world. My business loss which earned the phrase "potentially catastrophic data loss" has left me feeling unable to handle the drive from office to school right now, let alone the evening that awaits.

So now, I am heading to the school to pick up my sons who live their only little bubble of a world. They will not understand insurance phrases like "business continuation coverage." They won't notice I've aged ten years today. They'll asked if I signed them up for lacrosse summer camp, and not comprehend why I am turning toward them so slowly, so inquisitively, yet so maniacally. Like a confused dog who then eyes a squirrel. At this moment, my mind can no longer process how much information my server no longer can. It can only process that I'm being instructed to FedEx the dead drive AND the dead ghost drive to Northern California. From what the kind man on the phone said, they will open them up and attempt to recover info. While I'm blindly wandering through his instructions (in a manner I pray my kids would for once), they will climb on the Kinko's counter, assault each other with packing peanuts, and succumb not to my obvious numbness, but to bribes for Maggie Moo's ice cream if they stop. Children~ my precious ones~ just stop. now. seriously. now. Mommy is numb.

Well, hard drives, off you go tonight to Novato, CA, which I just looked up online. In the map graphic, it appears close to Shangri-la. (Napa for the uninitiated) I should be going there. I should not be bribing kids with toxic blue, cotton candy flavored ice cream. That's where I should be making myself numb.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Anatomy of a School Project

It starts innocently enough. Your child is given the task of picking a place, a person, a mammal, etc. to write about. Said “writing assignment” is undoubtedly teamed with a “creative portion.” By project’s end, one of these two elements will become the bane of your existence. Behold this NJ mom’s descent into madness.

Step One: Selection Process
4th Grade state report:   He could have selected my beloved-NJ, MS perhaps where PopPop lives, Maryland where his sister lives. But why pick someplace we (I) may actually have knowledge of? That’s just silly. Let’s pick a state where we have no friends, so we can enjoy this learning opportunity. And the winner is… Oklahoma?

I now present to you the dialogue over the course of 10 days…

Step Two: “Independent” Research
Did you read your state book yet? “No.” Did you read your state book yet? “No.” Did you read your state book yet? “What book?” Sit down, read the OK book, and get ready to do the answers. “I have a book?” PLEASE PLEASE just read… the… darn (alright, damn) book… NOW. “why do you have to yell at me?”

Day 11 of my captivity…

Step Three: How’s It Going In There?
(Mutter this section’s title 4 times, before walking over, neck tightening) What are you doing? “What? Oh, my report.” Really? Is your report on Oklahoma or on Canada’s Labrador province since that's what's occupying you now? Let me just finish folding this laundry and I’ll help you. (insert “du du dunnnnn” noise)

Step Four: Um, Maybe This Would Be Good Idea?
I really think these answers should be complete sentences. “Nu-UH.” Ok, fine. “Don’t say ‘fine’ because whenever you say it doesn’t mean it’s really ‘fine.’”

Two days elapse during the arc of this phase alone:
Um, you seem to be struggling on this part. I mean, drawing postcards for someplace you’ve never been is hard. You’re maybe about ½ way done and it’s due day after tomorrow. “Ok Mom but you can’t give me the answers.” OH- I know THAT. I'll give you some choices, but you have to decide. What would YOU put on OK postcards: A horse, an octopus, or a polar bear? Next question: What souvenir would you bring back from OK? (and you need to draw it, honey): a jet propelled rocket ship, a manatee in a Hawaiian shirt, or a lasso?— Good, moving right along. Zip it- you can color it later let’s keep moving.

Step Five: Hey- I Know What We (I Mean You) Can Do!
Basically just the same as Step Four, only a day later. Tensions are running high, with increasing urgency, decreasing patience, and depleted Chardonnay. Desperation sets in as you watch your child struggle over sticker selection, the finer nuances of plagiarism, and an intense need to watch everything else in room. Compulsively, you are now shifting chair to 3” from the child, asking for the pen, and turning paper toward you. You may not even realize it. You are heading into the next and final phase, and you are now on the Due Date Eve.

Step Six: Well maybe I DO know what I'm talking about
Oh for the LOVE of GOD JUST LISTEN TO ME! Just trust me. Really, it’s due tomorrow. 11 hours from now. I know you don’t want to do it this way but I did 4th grade already and I was good at it. Now—please---hand---me---the—crayon. Mommy is just going to help you color this section. What do you mean you left your crayons at school? Whatever- grab one of the extra boxes. Your brother did what with them? But why would he melt six boxes of crayons in the backyard? Forget it, I don’t want to know. Faster idea—I mean better idea. Of course a computer print collage is fine. No prob. (Agitation brewing. Eyes wild) Ok, now please step away so I can glue stick this please. I said please. I said move. I said glue stick. Don’t let the glue stick dropppp….. Damn it! Eric!!! Get the glue stick out of the dog’s mouth-- He’s coming your way!

Look, I know you’re tired. “no, I’m NOT!” I am and you are. “NO I AM NOT! I JUST HATE OKLAHOMA!” Well who told you to pick Oklahoma? Huh!? You think I’m loving Oklahoma now? I don’t care if we never set foot there—as long as you set foot in your classroom tomorrow with this, we never even have to think about Oklahoma! Now wipe the dog’s slobber off the glue stick and give it to me. Good. Perfect. Done. Voila! Now roll it up so the dog doesn’t get it. “It will be fine.” No, wrap it. “No, I want to look at it.” Do you remember what happened to your brother’s clay, toothpick covered hedgehog for his book report in 2nd grade when we left the room and forgot the dog was in there. “Oh, yeah.”

Two hours later: Cherubs in bed. Glue dry on paper. Glue off of dog. Project packed up by back pack—elevated. Kids in bed. Ahhhh.
Ps. I’m so excited. We got an A. Fabulous. Now on to the 6th grade Mongolia report.