Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys...and the Death of Me

I've always heard boys are so much easier to raise than girls. I can see that in some respects. I mean, you don't have the mood swings, the drama, OH THE DRAMA!, and the shopping for bras and other delightful, coming of age, girl specific experiences. Hello, puberty talk of 5th grade, I'm looking at you. But easier? Well, that depends on your definition of easier is. If by easier you mean, less drama and mood swings, more dirt and roughhousing, then yes, I would say easier. BUT, what all those wise scholars forgot to mention is that raising boys has its own set of joys. Joys that include but are not limited to, a constant bathroom battle (if you have boys you understand) to not knowing what you may find in the washing machine after you wash their jeans, ex: fishing lure, a once living frog, fruit rollups, worms, etc. Also, in the Raising Boys manual there should be a warning sign similar to those in front of the scary roller coasters at amusement parks that says, "Warning: For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure."

It's becoming increasingly apparent this week especially that raising boys is not for the faint of heart. And mine is getting weaker by the second.

It all started with a nail biter football game on Saturday morning, in which Blade's team pulled out the win in the final 50 SECONDS of the game. 50 WHOLE SECONDS wherein I couldn't breathe and thought my head was going to explode. Now I fully understand why my father in law had 2 heart attacks shortly after his sons graduated high school. Clearly, it was from watching his boys' football game all those years (and other sports contributed too I'm sure) because my word, at the intensity. My sister Heidi, sat next to me during the game and said at one point, "Wow, this is so STRESSFUL and INTENSE and it's only 4th grade!!!" Preaching to the choir sister, and to think we have at least 9 more years of this. Better step up the cardio workout in preparation. (As if.)

Then there was Monday. Monday, the first day of our "Free Week." It was our free week because football ended on Saturday and basketball and wrestling haven't started yet so that meant that Mama could take the taxi meter out of the Princess Mobile for the week because the only place I had to chauffeur anyone to was Dakota to piano lessons on Wednesday. Which sure beats running someone somewhere 4 nights a week as I've been doing for the past 2 months. I was so looking forward to staying home once I got home from work on Monday night. I had high hopes of pajamas, quality time with the Tivo, and perhaps some cupcakes thrown in for good measure. Because I'm borderline OCD, I can't fully relax until the house is tidied up so I sent the kids to their room with the simple task of straightening them up. I gave them 30 minutes to do so because they weren't that bad just needed some minor cosmetic work aka picking up the underwear off the floor. I kept hearing loud pounding, yelling, and such from that area of the house but ignored it because I was cleaning the kitchen. I even gave them an extra 15 minutes to get their rooms presentable just to make sure they had plenty of time.

Oh they had plenty of time alright. Plenty of time to LOCK THEIR SISTER IN THE CLOSET.

Finally, the pounding and slamming got so incessant that I went to the boys' room to investigate. There I discovered Dakota was locked in the closet and the boys were pretending to clean their room while conversing with their sister.

"THE BOYS LOCKED ME IN THE CLOSET!" a muffled Dakota said thru the door.

"She walked in there! We just shut the door behind her!" the boys retorted with *innocent* smirks on their faces.

We don't actually have locks on our closet doors so I figured it couldn't be that hard to open it. But it was. Somehow it was jammed and the doorknob acted like it was stripped because no matter how many times I turned it nothing happened. I found a screwdriver and thought maybe I could jimmy it open but no such luck. I got out the drill thinking I would take the door of the hinges, which would've been a great plan except that the hinges were on the inside of the door so plan failed. I was getting exasperated and irritated. Not because I was concerned for my daughter's safety but moreso because all I wanted to do was lay on the couch in my cozy pajamas and watch CSI, dang it!

It didn't help matters that Dakota was in the closet saying things like, "Blade, when I die, tell Vicki she gets all my Pokemon stuff. And Ryder, when I die, you STILL can't play with my Pokemon DS game. I may not make it out of here alive!"

Remember what I said about girls and drama? Case and point.

I called GI Joe who was working late to gave him the lowdown and also to see if he had any helpful tips for getting the door open. He LAUGHED. I was not in the laughing mood but I'm glad he was entertained by it. He told me a few things to do, which I did, to no avail, and then said he'd leave his office and be home in 30 minutes. The only comfort to Dakota that she would remain imprisoned for another 30 minutes was Ryder slipping her DS under the door for her to play. See? He really does care!

You know how when you tell your kids to do something and they don't and then something bad happens and then it's really hard for you to feel sorry for them? Umm, yeah that's how I felt. No sympathy here. If she'd been in her own room cleaning it like she was supposed to she wouldn't have gotten locked in her brothers' closet. And as for the boys? They stuck to their "she walked in" story but don't think I bought it for a second. They got the "if you would've been doing cleaning your room like you were supposed to, you would've been done by now and wouldn't be going to bed early tonight for LOCKING YOUR SISTER IN THE CLOSET!" talk. To be honest, I was actually trying to figure out which closet to lock THEM in!!! I tease...maybe.

Finally, GI Joe got home and rescued her. It took a sawzall to get her out. A SAWZALL?!? Our boys don't do anything halfway. Well, EXCEPT for cleaning their room.

So last night when I came home to find a cute, little gift wrapped package that said "To: Mommy, Love: The Koons Kids", taped to the front door, I figured they were trying to make up for their prior infractions. They had gotten into the Christmas wrapping paper, ribbons and all, so it was one good looking package. My heart swelled with love as I gushed, "Oh you guys are so sweet! I can't believe you got me a present!" Blade watched me like a Hawk with this small, sweet grin on his face. He seemed so excited and proud of himself. I began opening it, slowly, because I was savoring the moment, this outpouring of love from my children.

I peeled away the paper and saw something, something that did NOT look sparkly or shiny or handpainted in art class. At first, I saw packing tape and then I slowly peeled back more paper. And then I threw that sucker up 10 feet in the air and ran away screaming. Why? I'll tell you why. Because *they* had gift wrapped a DEAD MOUSE and given it to me! A DEAD MOUSE! A REAL LIVE DEAD MOUSE! Blade and Ryder thought it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen and were laying on the floor laughing hysterically. Finally, Dakota made an appearance and said, "Didn't you hear me telling you not to open it?" Obviously, I didn't. But I appreciate that she at least made an attempt to save me. We girls have to stick together at our house.

When Blade was finally able to breathe again after laughing so hard, he said to me with a big, mischievous grin on his face, "That's your payback for making us go to bed early last night. You don't want to mess with us."


Never mind that they went to bed early because they LOCKED THEIR SISTER IN A CLOSET!!!!!

I'm not even safe in my own home with these 2 boys around. And I have a feeling it's just the beginning.

They're so much like their father it's frightening. Seriously, it's ALL him. I'm as straight laced as they come. Or will be just as soon as I figure out how to get them back for the gift wrapped dead mouse stunt. Ideas?!? ;)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Parents in Low Places

Ever hear yourself say something to your kids that you instantly think, "I can't believe I just said that, what kind of parent am I?"

Don't be shy, it happens to the best (and worst of us).  Including yours truly, which probably comes as no surprise since I am a repeat recipient of the prestigious "Worst Mother of the Year" award.  In the spirit of full disclosure and helping others learn from my mistakes, I'm going to share it with you.  If someone becomes a better parent after reading my parenting faux pas, well, then I'm willing to sacrifice my dignity.

Recently, the kids and I were driving in the car, jamming out to the radio, country radio to be exact, as I heard those familiar notes that took me right back to the 90's.  Even though  I was "black" when the song came out it doesn't matter, everyone who was the ages of 12-25 knew every word to this song and still does.  Even if you hate country (like I did when I was black) you probably know at least a few words to this song.  Am I right?

Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots.....

I immediately cranked it up as loud as it would go because that's what you do when Garth Brooks circa 1990 comes on the radio.

And then you sing as LOUD AS YOU CAN. 

And ruined your black tie affair, the last one to know, the last one to show, I was the last one you thought you'd see there..

"Mommy, why did you turn it up SO LOUD?!"  At least I think that's what they were screaming over the blaring radio and my awesome singing...

And I saw the surprise, the fear in his eyes, when I took his glass of champagne.  And I toasted you, said honey we may be through, but you'll never hear me COMPLAINNNNNN...

"MOMMY?!?  What is this song?"

"This is Garth Brooks "Friends in Low Places", listen and learn my children," as I cranked it up a few more notches.

"CUZ I'VE GOT FRIENDS IN LOOOOW PLACES...." (hand motions included)

"Kids, listen closely because this is one of those songs you need to know in life.  Everyone knows this song and you'll be expected to sing along when it comes on no matter where you are."

"But why Mommy?!? It's SO old."

"Because kids, this song is played in every bar you'll ever go to."


Record scratch, rewind, wait, what? Am I really singing this loudly and telling my kids to learn the words to "the whiskey drowning and the beer chasing their blues away" because it's played in every BAR THEY'LL EVER GO TO?!?

Turn off the radio Casey Kasem, we've got a parenting FAIL on our hands. 

Scrambling to recover, "Uhhh I mean, every dance you'll go to in school, and at lots of concerts artists will play this song, and weddings, it's always played at weddings, because it's a classic country song.  And you'd better NEVER EVER hear it in a bar because you have no reason to be in a bar."

"How do you know they play it in bars, Mommy?"

"Uhhhh....I've just seen it on TV, now how about we listen to some Elmo or some Veggie Tales?"

But they are so over Elmo and Veggie Tales, so instead I rewrote the lyrics to this classic, everybody ought to know song. 

Friends in Low Places (Kid Style)

Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots
And ruined your black tie affair
I was the last one to know, the last one to show, I was the last one you thought you'd see there (because it was past my bedtime)
And I saw the surprise and the fear in his eyes when I spilled his glass of KOOLAID
Then I toasted you said Honey, we may be thru but you'll never hear me complain! (unless you make me eat spinach again)
Cuz I got friends in low places (because they're 4 feet tall)
Where the Pepsi drowns and the CHEER chases my blues away
And I'll be okay
Well, I'm not big on social graces
Think I'll slip on down to the O-aaaaa-sis
Cause I've got friends in loooooow places

I would think as a parent himself, Garth would've recorded this kid friendly version of the song but my internet searches for it have proven fruitless. 

As for me,
Well, I guess I was wrong
I just don't belong (in the good parents club)
But then, I've been there before (like alot)
Everything's alright
I'll just say goodnight
And show myself to the door
Cuz I'm a parent in low places.  :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Brain Cupcakes and Blade

At the beginning of the school year, Blade's teacher sent out an email recruiting Mystery Readers.  A Mystery Reader's duties included but were not limited to, showing up on a Friday afternoon to read a couple of stories to the class.  I was ALL OVER THAT.  Mainly because it was a one parent gig.  Meaning, there were no other classroom moms to coordinate with, no who's bringing what and who wants to plan what games emails back and forth, and no PTA politics (VMPEC as it's called in our school).  None of which I am fond of, by the way. It was just me, a book, and a room full of 4th graders, one of which happens to be my Blade.  I emailed her back and told her I was in and she gave me a date of Friday, October 7th and then asked me to send her 4 clues about myself that she would read to the class to see if they could guess before I made my grand entrance.  After much deliberation and thought, I sent the following clues: 
1) I love to read and usually read at least one book a week.  It's an addiction. 
2) I love pink, shooting stuff (just not hunting, gross), riding 4 wheelers, playing with my animals, cooking, shopping, blogging, going to concerts, travelling, oh yeah and my family. 
3) I have met and had my picture taken with 12 country and pop stars.  If you want your picture taken with me because that kind of makes me a celebrity, please stay after class. 
4) I graduated from this very school in 1996, which may seem like a very long time ago but it really wasn't THAT long ago. 
And then I asked the teacher if I could bring cupcakes because "baking is my love language." 

She responded and said never mind she didn't think I was cut out for the Mystery Reader program because they are trying to encourage the kids to say NO to drugs and it probably wouldn't be appropriate to have someone who is so obviously on drugs read to the class.   
Just kidding.  She loved my clues and gave me the go ahead to bring treats.  Keep in mind that this is a new to us teacher as none our kids have had her before.  In the few times I've interacted with her I've liked her but we didn't really know each other much.  I think that's changed now and I wouldn't be surprised if she calls and wants to do lunch.  Except I'll probably have to pass on lunch because 15 minutes in the teacher's lounge @ 10:45 a.m.?  Ummm, nothing personal but no thanks.  ;)

Once the details were squared away, I began the search for the perfect book to read to the class since the Mystery Reader was to bring their own choice of books.  TALK ABOUT PRESSURE!  I wanted something quirky, something funny, something cutting edge.  Something the kids would associate with me and forever think of me as THE COOLEST MYSTERY READER/MOM EVER.  I ordered this book.  Listen, any book whose complete title is "Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Other Stories You're Sure to Like Because They're All About Monsters and Some of Them Are Also About Food.  You Like Food Don't You?  Well, Alright Then," is speaking my language and a winner in my book. 

Then began the painstaking process of deciding which cupcakes to bake for the occasion. MORE PRESSURE!  I'd seen a recipe awhile back for Brain Blood Clot Cupcakes and thought they fit the bill perfectly, to go along with our monsters/food/creepy theme.  And I felt with a degree of certainty that no other Mystery Reader had ever or will ever bring BRAIN BLOOD CLOT CUPCAKES when they read so...SOLD.  My goal was to be the best Mystery Reader ever, the Mystery Reader Mom that made all other MR Moms or Dads past and present pale in comparison. 


Sorry other Mystery Reader Moms and Dads, you don't have a prayer going up against this killer combo. 

I wasn't supposed to tell Blade when I was doing it so that he would be just as surprised as everyone else. And I didn't.  I wrote it on the calendar in the kitchen that no one but me ever looks at.  Or at least they have never looked at until Tuesday night before when Dakota loudly asked, "WHAT IS THIS MYSTERY READER THING ON THE CALENDAR FOR ON FRIDAY OCTOBER 7TH?"  Really Dakota, REALLY?  Did the "Mystery" part of that not make you stop and think that maybe it's supposed to be, oh I don't know, a MYSTERY?!?  Of course, Blade heard her and came over to inspect the calendar and then grinned because it was no mystery to him.  No amount of back peddling I did convinced him otherwise, not even when the next day I told him I had switched with another mom so he wouldn't know which day I was coming.  He didn't buy it at all, he's a smart one, that kid.  But he promised to play along and not ruin it for the other kids in his class.  I had my doubts. 
Finally, Friday arrived and I went into work at SUPER EARLY THIRTY, so early Starbucks wasn't even open yet, so that I would be off work in time to head to the school for my very important gig.  The things we do for our kids. 

Timing was crucial because at exactly 2:45 Blade's teacher would read the 4 clues and then open the door to the classroom and I would sashay walk into the classroom amid cheering, applause, and paparazzi.  Blade told me that when she read the clues some kids guessed "Lady Gaga" as their Mystery Reader so when I walked in I heard, "That's NOT Lady Gaga that's Blade's mom!" Darn it, I KNEW I should've worn my meatsuit! 

I sat down in the MR chair at the front of the room and before I could open the book, I was bombarded with 563 questions. "Tell us about your animals", "Have you MET Lady Gaga?" (NO), "My sister says she's been past your farm and you have some PREHISTORIC BIRDS is that true?" (EMUS?), "Do you know who my brother is?  Blade's dad helped him join the Army remember?" (YES).  They had lots of questions about the Koons Zoo and many invited themselves over saying, "I want to come to your house, you have so many animals AND Blade says you make cupcakes!" I told them the story about how I was a city girl but then married Blade's dad who was a farm boy who said he could never live in the city and so I moved to the country and decided all this wide open space needed animals to fill it and thus began the Koons Zoo.  "You were a...CITY GIRL?!?"  Gasp. That took my credibility to a whole other level.  To convert from urban, city girl to a country girl with a farm full of animals?  I am an inspiration.  :)

After an intense Q & A session, the teacher told them it was time for the story with the promise that they could ask me more questions once we were done reading. 
Then I read Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich to them and they laughed at the silliness of the book and the awesome illustrations and my occasional commentary.  They were especially enthralled by the last short story in the book titled, "Godzilla Pooped on My Honda."  Perhaps I should've read the book entirely through before reading it to the class and maybe censored some, but no, that's not how I roll. 

Then it was CUPCAKE TIME. 

I solemnly announced to the class that I had brought treats but I didn't know if all of them would be able to stomach them since they were made of BRAINS and BLOOD CLOTS.  Eyes got wide all around the classroom and they waited with bated breath as Blade proudly distributed the cupcakes.  Then we got to answer the question, "Are these real brains/blood?" approximately 30 times.  Rest assured the answer was no, they were not real, the brains were just frosting and the blood clots were just cherry pie filling.
The consensus of the class?  MOST AWESOME CUPCAKES EVER. 

I would love to be a fly on the wall when they went home to their parents and told them they read a story about Godzilla pooping on their Honda and then ate brain cupcakes with blood in them.  Or when Susie's mom asks her what kind of cake she wants for her birthday and she replies with, "BRAIN CUPCAKES WITH BLOOD CLOTS IN THEM!"

While the kids were eating their brains cupcakes, I had a chance to chat with Blade's teacher.  She gushed, "I love having Blade in my class, he's just such a cool kid.  He seems so old in his mannerisms and how he talks and just everything about him, that I forget he's only a 4th grader.  And he's SO smart.  It's just really enjoyable to have him in my class."  It could've been the cupcakes talking or the fact that she had just gotten a 30 minute reprieve while I read to the kids but either way that was the icing on the cake of my great day. 

Then the sound of 18 kids clamoring around me wanting to play the "Do you know my name?" game brought me back from cloud 9. 

The good news is that I now know by sight the names of every kid in Blade's class.  Also, which of the 18 to avoid if possible because holy cow at the annoying.

The bad news is they're demanding a class field trip to the Koons Zoo and they want to see PREHISTORIC BIRDS and EAT MORE CUPCAKES and can I call LADY GAGA and make sure she's there too?!? 

I asked Blade on our way home from school, "So was I like, the BEST mystery reader EVER?" 
"Umm, well, we've only had one other one so I can't really say. But the cupcakes were good."

Who taught this kid to be so matter of fact and honest?   It was kinda like Godzilla had just pooped on my Honda. 

Pooping on my Honda aside, I had a blast and I still have hopes that I will go down in 4th grade history as the Greatest Mystery Reader of all time.  Hey, if Frankenstein can make a sandwich, I can aim high too. 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Let Me Count the Ways...

GI Joe turns 34 today.  He's soooo old, I know.  He's so lucky to be  married to a spring chicken that keeps him young.  I cherish those 7 months a year that he's older than me. In honor, I thought  I would do the most cliche thing on the planet and list 34 fun facts about him.  Actually, I take that back, I'm kinda busy tonight baking birthday cupcakes, making PRE birthday cookie dough truffles for him, and watching Mike and Molly, so I'm only going to list 17 things.  I did some math and it turns out that 17 is half of 34.  Who said I was bad at math?!?

Here we go... 

1.  He loves chocolate chip cookie dough (don't we all?) but it makes him really happy if I dish him out some BEFORE I add the chocolate chips.  He's not a fan of the chocolate chips in cookie dough, says their "waxy". 

2.  He has a severe sweet tooth.  All those cupcakes I bake?  He's my official taste tester and enjoys every second of it.

3.  He has amazing willpower.  Which is how he keeps his boyish figure in spite of the cupcakes.  He limits himself to just one.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?!?  :)

4.  He LOVES LOVES LOVES the Detroit Lions and has since 1985 when Chuck Long of the Iowa Hawkeyes (another one of his first loves) went to the Lions.  That's like 25 years, people!!  He's been with them through many a losing season and you can imagine his elation at their so far undefeated season.  Every year he tells me, "THIS is gonna be their year!" and this year, I actually believe him.

5. He's a homebody.  He'd much rather stay home on the prairie than anything.  I'm exactly that way too, except NOT AT ALL, so we're a good balance.  I drag him out occasionally and he shows me the beauty of staying home sometimes.

6.  His newest and most delicious hobby is smoking stuff.  Not stuff as in illegal stuff but stuff as in delectable meats, cheeses, and even the occasional frozen pizza (seriously, it.'s delish).  I commissioned his brofriend John, to build him a smoker last year for his birthday and I have to say, SMARTEST, BEST, present EVER.  :)

7.  His musical loves are country, real country "not this new crap they keep playing on the radio" (he's talking to you Band Perry).  But it might surprise you to know that he also loves Michael Buble and 50's and 60's music. 

8.  He is freakishly strong.  He can bring a grown man to his knees while shaking his hand just by squeezing.  Probably from all that farm boy work. 

9.  He's a talk radio junkie and says it makes him smarter.  I say it makes him seem REALLY old and a little nerdy.  :)

10.  He reads online newspapers from all over the world, specifically the Middle East, on a daily basis just to stay in the know and so he can enlighten the rest of us, whether we want him to or not. 

11.  He lettered in every sport in high, baseball, track, basketball, and was really good at all of them, especially football (see #8).  Obviously, our mutual athleticism is one of the ties that binds us....or not. 

12.  Winter is his favorite season.  Winter is the bane of my existence.  He loves the snow and gets giddy excited when there's substantial snow in the forecast.  I love him in spite of this character flaw. 

13.  He's been in the military for 15 years and recruiting full time for 9 years.  9 YEARS!  Average tenure of a recruiter is 3-4 years max given the demands, the stress, the hours, etc, so 9 is kind of a big deal.  We should both get some kind of award for this. 

14.  He can quote every word of the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".  It's really unfortunate that space in his brain has been wasted on this. 

15.  He had a higher GPA (3.5) in high school than I did ...barely.  But I'm still better at spelling SO THERE. 

16.  Bacon is his favorite food group. 

17.  He hates having his picture taken, which is unfortunate since I'm kind of a camera Nazi.  But he grins and bears it...usually. 

Happy Birthday GI Joe!  The world became a brighter place 34 years ago today when you came into the world.  I can't even imagine my life without you.  Looking forward to celebrating 100 more birthdays with you.  And yes, I'll bake cupcakes and even puree them for you if you need me to when you're really old. ;)  You're the perfect one for me , love you to infinity and beyond!