Hey Good Lookin’, whatcha got cookin’?

The last couple of times I’ve cooked, one or both of the boys has thanked me. I suppose I could twist this around and say that I’m a great mom because I’ve taught my kids gratitude to the point where they even thank me for providing for their basic needs, but…..

I’m pretty sure that the fact that my kids thank me for completing a task that the majority of moms do regularly, just because that’s what moms do, is hard evidence that I’m failing as a mother. I cook so infrequently that they actually feel compelled to thank me when I do. I’m a pathetic excuse for a woman. I know. But I’ve been doing better:

Since the boys have been back in school, I’ve been making delicious breakfasts for them every morning. You probably think I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not. I’m talking farm fresh eggs, toast with jelly made from fresh raspberries from our backyard, orange juice, sausage. Real breakfast. My mom didn’t believe in breakfast (smart woman) so I’m not a big breakfast person, but the boys are loving it. They gobble it up and rush out the door to meet the bus. Then they ride on the bus for one hour and, during that time, they forget the delicious, filling, wholesome breakfast that they JUST ATE and they pay $1.50/boy to eat breakfast at school.

Me: So I see you ate breakfast at school when I already made you breakfast at home. Must have been something really good to make you want to eat again.

Boy Two: Oh yeah. It was a fruit frudel. It was delicious. 

What is a fruit frudel, you ask? I had the same question. Like I said, it must have been something good for both of them to buy one when they had just eaten. This is what Google says a fruit frudel is:

IMG_0119

I’m not sure if this is exactly what they serve, but how many things could there be called a fruit frudel? So yeah, they spent $3.00 on “heat and serve” fruit frudels when I just served them eggs so fresh that I literally picked them out of a pile of actual chicken crap less than five minutes before cooking. But they would rather eat a generic, processed, preservative-filled fruit frudel.

I wonder if they thanked the lunch lady for the fruit frudel? I’m sure they did. It probably went something like this:

Thank you so much for this heat and serve fruit frudel. We’re starving. Our mom never cooks so when she does try, it sucks and we  have to sneakily hide it so we can come partake of your delicious fruit frudel. 

Whatever. After only seven short days, Mother Swan’s Kitchen is no longer open for breakfast.

Let her cry

A couple of people have suggested that I try to write a “positive, uplifting” post. This one isn’t going to be it. I will, however, try to incorporate a little more positivity into my posts I guess. Even though that’s not really my thing.

The Girl is quickly becoming my most difficult child, a title Boy Two has proudly held since birth. Yesterday, we went shopping for school supplies and I was that parent with the screaming baby in Walmart. If you’ve been that parent before, you know how stressful it can be. I used to be one of those people that would think, “Geez, can’t you quiet that kid down?”  As punishment for all the times I had that thought, I have now been the Screaming-Baby-at-Walmart parent more times than I care to admit. I’m to the point now where I just tune it out and continue my shopping. Sometimes it’s best not to try to fix it, to just power through and get out as quickly as possible. I don’t care if it annoys the other shoppers. At least they get to go home. I have to take this thing home with me and listen to this all evening.

So anyway, we started off on the wrong foot because she had brought along a doll that she wanted to take inside. I stopped allowing kids to take toys into stores when Boy One was a toddler because he took it to the extreme by carrying 2-3 grocery bags of tractors with him wherever he went. He ruined it for everyone and I had to enact a blanket policy prohibiting toys in stores. I’ve fought this battle many times with more worthy adversaries than The Girl so she wasn’t going to win, particularly since the doll she brought had no clothes and was covered in some kind of brown substance which I pray was just dirt. So she was mad about the dirty doll and was already screaming when we entered Walmart.

Once we got started, she quieted down and started playing with one of the art boxes. This lasted about two minutes until she snapped it in half. Really, Walmart? You only had one art box option and it was so flimsy that a one-year-old broke it as soon as she laid her hands on it. Now, I’m not proud of this, but I put it back on the shelf and grabbed a different one. Is this stealing? Yes. Does Walmart make enough money off our family to come off of one $.97 piece of crap art box? Also, yes.

So anyway, the flimsy art box had been the only thing keeping The Girl sane and I, of course, couldn’t give her the new one because I didn’t want her to break another one so she went back to screaming. This time, I offered her a box of colored pencils. I thought she would just take them out of the box, look at them, hold them, whatever. We gathered the rest of our supplies and were just finishing when I looked down and realized she had completely shredded the box. I hate for my kid to be the one that doesn’t have his colored pencils in a nice, fresh box, but I had already put back a broken art box and I couldn’t, in good conscience, do the same thing with the colored pencils. At this point, I decided she could no longer be trusted in the cart so I removed her and tried holding her while haphazardly steering the cart with one hand. This wouldn’t have been so hard if she weren’t screaming, thrashing, and slapping my face.

We finally made it to the check-out and I sat her down to unload the cart. I placed the pile of shredded colored pencil box on the conveyor and began putting it together like a puzzle so the cashier could find the bar code. While I worked on that activity, The Girl went straight for the bottom shelf that contains all kinds of little toys and trinkets enticing to children. I know I’ve written about this before, but I’m going to touch on it one more time: I hate Walmart for screwing over all parents by putting those toys on that bottom shelf. I have never bought anything from that shelf, yet my children still beg for things from it every. single. time. At least 70% of the time, that shelf causes a meltdown from at least one of my children when I refuse to purchase anything from it. I understand it’s a marketing strategy, but I can’t imagine it’s making the store any money. How many kids have stealthily stashed a small item in their pocket and made it out of the store with it? More than the number of kids that are lucky enough to have a parent willing to buy something from it, I’m sure. Anyway, I hate that shelf, and I try to prevent my kids from even looking at it, let alone touching anything on it, but I was already stressed and I had to finish the box puzzle, so I let The Girl go to work on the shelf. Have at it, dear. Annihilate that stupid shelf.

So anyway, The Girl was distracted with rearranging the forbidden shelf as I finished up our purchase. Then I pried a bunch of tiny toys (that I had no intention of buying) out of her hands, kicked the rest of the tiny toys on the floor out of the way so no one would trip, and drug her out of the store the same way she came in: kicking and screaming.

She never did calm down as we headed home and that was when I realized that we had lost her pacifier. Yes, she is too old to still take a pacifier and I wish I had a better excuse than “I’m just to lazy to get serious about taking it yet” but I don’t. And it definitely isn’t going to happen today so, even though the last thing I want to do is go to another store, we have to stop at Dollar General. By the time we pulled in, she was in full-on tantrum mode: purple-faced, back-arching, sweating, shrieks. There’s no point in even trying to quiet her. I just scoop her up, hold on as tight as I can, and carry her in. Dollar General is a small store and there are rarely more than a couple people there at a time, but of course today is different. As soon as I walked in, I was met by a ridiculously long line of people waiting to check out and they all immediately looked my way to see what the problem was with this loud baby. I hurried by, clutching my psychotic baby, trying not to make eye contact. I basically sprinted back to the baby section, grabbed the first package of pacifiers I saw, savagely ripped it open, shoved it in her mouth, and she was instantly fixed. Who am I kidding? I don’t care if this kid takes a pacifier until kindergarten. That thing is magical.

So yeah, pretty much every part of this shopping trip was an absolute nightmare, but as per request, I will let you know that there was one positive part:

As I was standing in line to check-out (at a store that doesn’t have the forbidden shelf – thank you, Dollar General, that’s why you’re my favorite), a decent-looking guy in an American flag tank top (yeah, I didn’t know that was a thing either, but he was making it work) struck up a game of peek-a-boo with The Girl. He had witnessed our grand entrance and was impressed with her ability to recover so quickly and we had a brief conversation, comparing notes about our kids’ pacifier usage. When we went up to pay, he ended up buying her pacifiers. As he drove off in his truck which was, of course, outfitted with an American flag decal covering the entire back window, I thought, “What a nice guy…Wait – was he hitting on me?” As soon as I had the thought, I realized how far out of touch I am with the flirting game if I think that having a discussion about pacifiers then buying said pacifiers for a frazzled mom at Dollar General is some form of a come-on. Whatever happened to buying a girl a drink? Anyway, if I were a single mom, it might have worked, if the American flag tank top hadn’t already sealed the deal, but I’m pretty sure he was just a friendly stranger.

So thanks for the pacifiers, Captain America, and thanks for providing me the required positive element for this post.

 

We don’t need no education

Because we were irresponsible as teenagers/young adults, the first four years of our marriage were spent with one or both of us taking online college courses to catch up with the other grown-ups our age. The Husband finished his nursing program in July 2014 and I completed my bachelor’s degree in September 2015. After that, we both decided to take a break from classes.

It’s hard keeping up with coursework when you have a whole adult life, complete with kids, bills, and jobs, to attend to as well. Luckily, since we took a lot of our classes online, we could tag team them when needed:

If you want me to pick up this shift, you’re going to have to write this paper for me.

I have to clean the house, can you take this test for me real quick?

I’m not an advocate of cheating, but I’m also not an advocate of being forced to spend thousands and thousands of dollars and millions of hours on a degree with a curriculum that is made up of 90% miscellaneous crap and 10% information that is actually useful in your chosen profession. So sometimes we helped each other and I don’t feel bad about that. Between the two of us, we possess the knowledge. If The Husband is ever at work and needs to know the definition of “metacommunication,” he can call me and I will tell him it is “communicating about communication.”  We’ve got it covered. And I’m so glad I get to be the part of this partnership that is wasting my brain space with that ridiculous knowledge.

So anyway, our coursework was a team effort and, not to toot my own horn, but I was the MVP.  One semester, The Husband was short on electives so I suggested he take Spanish.  I had taken it a year before and it was easy since most of it was the same material covered in high school Spanish.

That doesn’t sound like an easy three credits. Because I don’t speak Spanish.

Neither do I, but it’s just the same things we learned in high school Spanish.  You’ll be fine.

Well apparently I had retained much more of high school Spanish than he had.  He needed a lot of assistance with this one. It worked out fine and he went into the last week with a high B. Then came the final exam. The final was a problem because it was a phone call with the instructor during which you were supposed to answer her Spanish questions. In Spanish. And I have a girl voice and The Husband is a boy so he was on his own for this part. This is how it went:

Instructor: Hola, gracias por llamar para el examen. ¿Cómo estás?

The Husband: Uh-oh

Instructor:  ¿Te preparaste para este examen?

The Husband: Umm…gracias?

Anyway, we somehow made it through. He got his nursing license and we are both enjoying our jobs and I think we are both pretty good at what we do despite the questionable integrity of our degree completion. However, we’re always looking for our next conquest, so this fall we’re putting our thinking caps back on and sending The Husband back for his bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration. He did the first round of paperwork last week and was expecting a call from the admissions counselor.  The call came while he was peeing and, of course, he didn’t want to miss such an important call so he reached for his phone to answer.  This is what the admissions counselor heard:

Hello, this is *splash*

as his phone landed in the urine-filled toilet.

Maybe if he knew more about communication and metacommunication, he wouldn’t have made the poor decision of answering his phone while peeing. Anyway, I may help him here and there with the classes and he won’t be able to put on his resume that he is bilingual, but I know he will make a great administrator for a long-term care facility. You wouldn’t expect it from his demeanor and personality, but he really cares about his residents and their families as a nurse and I think that will carry over to his job performance as an administrator.

So August is back-to-school for all of the men at our house. Here’s to a great year of learning!