When I was in elementary school, I had a lot of friends. I was a safety patrol, got good grades, was in a close-knit group of girls, and was basically a pretty confident and happy kid. My life was happy and safe and I had no idea that things would ever be different.
That is, until I rolled into the halls of Jefferson Davis Middle School in sixth grade.
Before then, I knew I was a little chubby and that the glasses I had to wear weren't the height of fashion. I didn't think much about clothing or hairstyles. I was just a kid who loved horses and riding my bike and having sleepovers with my friends.
But sixth grade changed everything. Most of my friends ended up at different middle schools so I was forced to make friends with all new girls who had mostly come from the same school and had already formed a tight bond with each other. Evidently my clothes weren't the "right" kind of clothes and I was developing a lovely case of pre-pubescent acne, so things weren't off to a great start.
I remember two episodes of really, really horrible bullying when I was in 6th grade. I know there were more, but two of them really stick out in my mind when I think back.
The first was a Wednesday. I know it was a Wednesday because I had piano lessons on Wednesdays and my mother picked me up from school. She was running a little late this afternoon so I was waiting around for her, my multi colored folders clutched to my chest. I was wearing an outfit entirely of red plaid. Red plaid button down shirt and red plaid shorts. I paired the outfit with my red framed glasses, red socks, and black knock-off Keds. Picture it.
A group of girls came to stand around me. They were older, probably eighth graders. They started talking to me, asking me questions. "Who are you waiting for?" "Where are you going?" "What's your name?"
I answered each of their questions politely as they asked them... but every once in a while I would feel a sharp jab in my behind, like a tiny bee sting. I didn't know what it was and it would happen so fast. Finally, I noticed one of them had a safety pin hidden in her hand. They had been poking me with the pins as they talked to me. There was nothing I felt I could do, either. I was so much smaller than all of them and there were at least four of them and just me. There were no teachers around, no adults at all. I was at their mercy.
Finally my mom pulled up and I quickly got in the car, bursting almost immediately into tears as we drove away.
The second time that really sticks out was on the bus. Our bus was really overcrowded, to the point where we had three kids sitting to each seat. The bus driver assigned us seats to make sure we'd all have a seat. My seat was in the middle of two popular eighth grade girls. I remember sitting between them, trying to take up as little room as possible, my arms crossed so they wouldn't encroach on anyone else's space, my legs tightly together and my books on my lap. It was then that the eighth grade boy who was assigned the seat directly in front of me turned around.
"Don't you know you're too fat?" he taunted me "You shouldn't be allowed to sit anywhere near girls as beautiful as these. You don't deserve to breathe the same air as they do. You're ugly and fat. You're an ugly, fat cow." He went on and on, the whole hot, sweaty, and sticky four mile bus ride. It felt like an eternity.
I hated him, but again, there was nothing I could do. I wouldn't cry in front of him. I didn't talk back to him. I stared him in the eye the whole time he talked to me. The girls giggled and told him to stop, but they enjoyed it.
There were other small events where I was bullied that year. It got to a point where I refused to ride the bus home at all and started bumming rides from my best friend whose mom was the school crossing guard or I'd walk across the street to my cousin's house and tell my mom I'd missed the bus. A few times I just walked the four miles home.
I never told my mom and dad how bad things were. I was humiliated, embarrassed to be such a dork, ashamed that I didn't stand up for myself. I felt weak and powerless and I didn't want my family to know that side of me.
That year crushed me. I went from a happy and confident kid who made good grades, to a sad, uncertain girl who didn't do her homework and barely skimmed by. I wonder how things might have been if I hadn't undergone that bullying.
Now I'm all grown up, with two kids of my own in middle school. I try to talk to them about bullying, try to ask them how things are for them. I try to give them a leg up and make sure they have the "right" clothes and whatever else they need to feel confident. So far, I think they're doing okay. They don't seem to be facing the same kinds of torture I faced. And I attribute a lot of that to awareness and education. (October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.) I think the schools, at least around here, have done a lot more to prevent bullying and make schools a safer place for our kids.
I don't deal with bullying anymore as an adult. Even though I'm still overweight and I still occasionally wear glasses and I often don't wear the "right" clothes. As an adult the game has changed and if someone were to call me fat or make fun of me, they'd probably not do it to my face. (I'm sure it has been done behind my back.)
So I was saddened to read about a message sent to a morning news anchor in Wisconsin, a clear case of bullying in adulthood. Check out her response to her bully here. Go ahead. I'll be right here with a tissue when you get back.
What an incredible role model she is to everyone. Not just her daughters, not just young women, but everyone. If only we could all be as gracious and beautiful as this amazing woman. If we could all teach our children to be kind and open minded, to stick up for what is good and right. Just imagine how our world would be.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
When I was in elementary school, I had a lot of friends. I was a safety patrol, got good grades, was in a close-knit group of girls, and was basically a pretty confident and happy kid. My life was happy and safe and I had no idea that things would ever be different.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I don't know if your house is like my house, but if it is then you know a little something about what I like to call "The Shoe Dilemma".
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
I know I'm not the only one that fumes over this. I know there are other parents out there that also get the urge to jump out of their minivan and bitch slap another parent in the wee hours of the morning. I know it's not just me.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
(I don't really call myself a liberal. But most of my family does. Hi guys!)
Two posts in one day. It's a record!!
Okay, it's not a record. I think I've done it before. Just not lately.
But today I'm doing it. And why?? Because I posted that last one. And when I did, as I always do, I viewed the post on my blog so I could see how it would appear to all of the four people who might read it.
And I saw this:
When I was in 7th grade I joined academic games. I was a little bit of a dork. Whatever. I loved academic games. They taught us about propaganda and taught us how to identify it. My 12 year old brain latched on to that concept and has been holding tight ever since.
I understand that some of my posts could be labeled as a sort of propaganda. They're my opinions and I express them and I'd love it if everyone in the world agreed with me. Sort of. That might be boring. But I'm not shady about it. It's all out there for the world to see. And in case I need to put it more bluntly: (ALERT! Dirty Liberal Opinion Ahead! Conservatives, click away now!)
I think Chick Fil A makes a darned tasty milkshake but I refuse to give them another penny of my hard earned money so they can give a portion of that penny to organizations that wish to take rights away from other citizens.
So any way, I clicked the ad.
And it brought me to this page:
Not since my last blog post. Clearly, I can't manage a post more often than every few weeks. :)
It's been a week and a half that I've been sleeping like a normal person.
I sort of hate the term "normal person" as if you're supposed to feel somehow less than human if you don't do something the same way everyone else does it. Viva la resistance!
Except for in this instance.
I've talked about my desire to be a morning person before. I've tried a lot of different things to get myself on a "normal" schedule. Melatonin, warm milk, chamomile tea, exercise in the morning, exercise at night, not eating past a certain time, I could go on all day.
In the end it took a bout of ridiculous insomnia and the resulting pure exhaustion to reset my body. It's not exactly something I'd recommend, but it's just what happened. It wasn't planned. I had actually sort of given up on that whole "normal" routine.
I don't think I slept in July. I'm fairly sure I must have dozed off a few times, but I really think there was no real sleep that happened. My brain never shut off, I never stopped thinking, worrying, obsessing over things that had to be done or created or organized or cleaned. I would lie down in bed, feeling nothing but tired, and not sleep. And when I did finally drift off, some noise, movement, something would inevitably wake me up and I'd go back to thinking.
It was really bad, y'all. It all culminated at Munchkin's birthday party a couple of weekends ago. I was going, going, going, planning, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, laughing, lathering, rinsing, repeating. And when it was all over I just collapsed into bed.
And I slept for over 12 hours. Nothing would wake me. Evidently The Man went to bed and woke up, the cat jumped on my head, the dog barked, the kids fought over who had control over the remote control. And I slept.
Ever since I've been falling asleep with no issues whatsoever every night by 11 pm. And I often wake up completely unassisted by the alarm clock around 6 am.
It is the craziest thing ever.
And it's not just awesome because I'm asleep when I'm "supposed to be sleeping" and awake when the rest of the world is bustling around. It's awesome because I am in such a better mood.
I'm becoming (I'm a little nervous to say it) a morning person. I don't even need coffee. I'm just awake. And sort of happy.
There's no mad rush in the morning because I overslept, I'm awake before everyone else and my mornings are peaceful and calm for the first half hour. If the kids can't find their shoes I don't even snap at them. I sort of think it's funny.
I sure hope I can keep this up for... well, forever.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
The Spaz mourns the loss of Chick Fil A's Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake laced with hate and homophobia
I think it was about a year ago that I learned that Chick Fil A donated a portion of its proceeds to organizations that support "the traditional view of marriage". I know it's been at least 8 months or so because I went through the entire holiday season without one of their incredible Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshakes that they make during the holidays because I refused to give the company a dime.
Even though those shakes are incredible.
Seriously - the chicken sandwich has nothing on that shake.
But I digress, y'all. Just because a company can make a fabulous milkshake, doesn't mean they're doing anything good for our society. Not to mention that the desire for a Chick Fil A chicken sandwich actually almost killed me and burned down our house once.
So when Dan Cathy, president of Chick Fil A opened his mouth last week and told the Baptist Press that the company was "guilty as charged" for backing "the biblical definition of a family" and facebook went all wonky with people posting and sharing anti-Chick Fil A images and articles, I was sort of happy.
It's like when you know that your best friend's boyfriend is a jerk but she doesn't realize it... and then she finally does. While you're sad that she's sad and you're sad that he's a jerk, you're just so darned relieved that she finally dumped his sorry ass.
That's right, Chick Fil A... you're like a jerky boyfriend. All pretty and alluring on the outside, but filled with nasty ugliness on the inside.
Reading the arguments for "traditional family values" that have been sweeping the internet over the past week seriously make my stomach turn. They're such bad arguments with no real basis on fact or research.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Seriously, y'all. What is it?
As most of you know, I have three kids. I think, so far, I've done a pretty good job with them. They're relatively well-rounded and well-mannered. I mean, I guess Bug could stand to see sunlight a little more often, but he's my oldest and therefore my practice kid. I'm entitled to a little bit of screw up with him, right?
We have never had a playdate. I don't think we have anyway. I'm not really sure what it is exactly.
My kids have friends and they play with other kids. They have friends from our neighborhood, they have friends from scouts and other activities, they have friends they met at school, they have friends by proxy because I am friends with their parents, and they have cousins. Occasionally they ask to go over to someone else's house and hang out for a while or spend the night.
They've spent lots of afternoons over at one or another of my friends houses playing with my friends kids because I wanted to go see my friend.
But have I ever met another mom at the park and exchanged numbers so my little darlings and her little darlings can have a playdate? Ummm... no. Do people really do that?
What happens at these "playdates" anyway? Do the mom's hang out with each other and make painful small talk while the kids do crafts? Or do I get to drop my kid off at your house for two hours and go read a book in the park?
Maybe the ultimate question is actually why? Why do mothers feel the need to arrange play for their children when, based on my personal experience, kids do a great job of arranging play for themselves?
When my kids were younger, before school and activities where they met other kids, we just went to the playground to play. There were always other kids there and they made friends in all of 30 seconds. Sure, they never say Billy or Sally again, but I'm fairly sure the lack of long-lasting bonded friendships at age 3 isn't causing my kids any stress.
Bug, Munchkin, and Goober are pros at making friends at any random place. The beach, the park, the library, wherever. I've never once felt like I had to arrange a playtime for them with another mom. But I hear about it so much. Like it's the norm.
It is a mystery to me.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Yesterday was one of those days when nothing would go right. It was as if a general cloud of gray funk had settled over the Spaz household and it was stinking up the place. I won't go in to every little thing that went wonky yesterday, but suffice to say that by the end of the day I was drinking a mason jar full of cheap, boxed red wine and reading O Magazine in the bathtub... a sure sign of a rough day.
Friday, June 29, 2012
We're about a third of the way through the summer and things have been busy!
Munchkin has been spending most of her summer at La Petite Cheval Farm, riding horses, mucking stalls, having lessons, and getting dirty. If I would let her throw a sleeping bag down in a stall and spend the night there she would, but alas, I do need to bring her home in the evenings and make sure she eats dinner and showers. She reminds me so much of myself when I was a kid, rushing to the barn as soon as I woke up and only coming home when the last little bit of light was escaping over the horizon. If I can keep her interested in horses instead of boys throughout middle and high school, I'll consider it a job well done.
Goober and Bug have been driving me crazy here at home. Bug has met a girl who he talks to online... all day long and late into the evening. But she's NOT his girlfriend and don't you even dare to say that she is! Goober spends his days playing with the dog, building gigantic LEGO creations, watching television, and asking me if we're going to leave the house at any point in the day. I think he might be bored.
I've been selling Fifty Shades of Grey tee shirts like hotcakes. This is a major phenomemon, I tell you. They're going all over the world. Australia, the UK, and all fifty states. Everyone needs to express their love of Christian Grey. And I love it.
But I'm really hoping to branch out to some new designs soon. We're working on our off-etsy store (to be unveiled soon!) and spending all of our time getting that in order so I haven't had a lot of time to work on designs. But soon... soon!
Monday, June 18, 2012
Today is one of those days when I don't think I'm ever going to get it together. It's quarter to 4 and I have no idea what I'm doing or what I'm supposed to be doing. The Internet and its beguiling shininess has distracted me from reality for hours now and I'm preoccupied over the fact that I've been sneezing non-stop since I woke up. Is it a cold or is it allergies? I won't know until it stops or I'm laid out in bed whining about how I feel like death.
I know there were important things I was supposed to do today. This is why I can't have a real job where I go somewhere and people pay me to accomplish things for them. Surfing the Internet and sneezing doesn't pay.
I think it might be a cold. I will distract myself with my next thought.
Do you ever feel like you are on a precipice? I feel that way right now. I feel like my life is about to change... and though I'm not sure which way it's about to go, I feel that it must be a good change.
I have never been too afraid of change. You see people all the time, stuck somewhere... maybe in a job they hate or a marriage that makes them sad or living in a town they feel chained to. They're on reality shows all the time and some therapist will diagnose them with the "afraid of change" label.
I've never understood the fear of change. If something is making you unhappy - change it. Do something different. If it gets worse, change it again. It's amazing, this ability to change.
It's probably why I may have appeared flighty for a lot of my young life. Flitting about from one thing to another, moving, changing, learning a little from my mistakes (not nearly enough - but a little), and making new ones.
Change is one of the luxuries of life that is taken when you have children. Because every day I want to be something different (I still don't know what I'll be when I grow up) and every day I fantasize about what life might be like somewhere else. Just today I found myself pricing lofts in Brooklyn's Williamsburg district. Maybe living there would provide me the inspiration I would really need for my writing, maybe there I'd write the next great novel. Maybe I'll just continue to live vicariously through Hannah from Girls.
For now my life must remain somewhat constant. Living in our aging ranch house in the boonies with suburbia rapidly encroaching, sending my kids to ethnically homogeneous schools, and driving a minivan with character.
Whatever precipice I am at will not include Williamsburg or a third floor walk-up with exposed brick. It will still include all the main players in my life and probably the minivan, too. I'm still excited to see where I might be going next.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
At 24 years old I was a bit of a lost soul. I had spent the majority of my life floating around like a piece of paper blowing in the wind, letting life take me wherever it decided and not doing a whole lot to guide my future. I found myself a mom of two children under 2 years old, on a fast path to my first divorce, and living at home again under my mom and dad's roof without much of a clue as to how I had gotten there or how I would ever get back on my own feet again.
Then The Man walked back into my life. The Man was putting himself together. He had been taking care of himself a lot longer than I had and he had some stuff figured out. A lot more than I did, anyway. I'm not sure he quite understood the magnitude of what he was getting himself into when he made the commitment to me and to my children to be there for us, but regardless of the crapstorm that was about to rain down upon him, he held fast and stood by us.
And he's still here. Over a decade later, The Man is still standing and being the kind of dad to my children that any woman would dream about. He's strong when they need to be disciplined, soft when they need to be cuddled, silly when they need to laugh, and understanding when they need to vent. He's absolutely amazing with them.
People always ask me if Bug or Munchkin ever ask about their biological father and the answer is no. They don't. I honestly don't think they give him much more than a tiny passing thought every once in a while... because that void has been so completely and wholly filled by The Man. He has never treated them any differently than Goober, our youngest who is The Man's biological child. They know they are loved just as much and that The Man would do anything for them just the same.
There are no words to express how immensely thankful for him I am. How absolutely lucky I feel to have been blessed with him.
Happy Fathers Day to The Man - and every other dad who is there for a kid that needs guidance and love that their "real" dad isn't providing. You are amazing.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Yesterday was Munchkin's moving on ceremony from 5th grade. I'm going to confess something here and it's not popular with other moms, I know it. But I'm all about honesty.
I didn't realize it was that big of a deal.
She's moving on from 5th grade. She's not graduating from college. She has managed to pass through the most basic level of our educational system. I'm sorry that I don't feel overwhelmed with pride.
Yes, I get a weepy when I reminisce and realize my little girl is growing up. I understand the importance of recognizing that she is moving on from one stage of childhood to a new stage where she will begin learning to be a young woman. I have all the normal mom emotions that go along with watching her grow and change and advance.
I just don't think that the fact that she has passed the 5th grade is something to throw a party over and I didn't realize that this ceremony, held in the middle of the week, in the middle of a work day, was supposed to be one of those things you drop everything and put on eyeliner to attend.
The ceremony was at noon, yesterday, a Wednesday. Obviously, in reality, the school doesn't think it's that big of a deal, either, or they would have scheduled the thing at a time when most parents could actually attend. But they sure made it out to be a big deal to the 5th graders because Munchkin made a big stink about making sure The Man and I attended.
So we did. It was important to her and we're all about being there for our kids, so we were there.
We sat in the cafeteria with a bunch of other parents, grandparents, and siblings and their digital SLR cameras. The Man decided that everyone was out of work due to the economy and that's why they could all attend. I wondered how they afforded thousand dollar cameras with no job.
And then the ceremony began. Kids were being called up for all kinds of awards. Presidential, Honor Role, $500 scholarship funds for being a good person, and more.
Munchkin was called up for nothing.
And while I was a little annoyed with the fact that we were attending a ceremony to watch a bunch of kids I didn't know stand up and get awards, I realized that it was important to Munchkin that we were there when she walked across the stage to get her "diploma." Really? Diploma?
So she walked across the stage, we watched a little slideshow presentation of all the kids as babies and now. I chose to send in a picture of Munchkin at the horse show and realized that due to the helmet, I don't think any of the kids realized it was her, oh well - I'm sure she let them all know.
And after the ceremony we were told that we should go back to the classroom where the teacher would be handing out some other awards that the kids had earned.
Here was the chance. Munchkin was sure to be awarded something in the classroom, right?
The Man and I took a seat in the classroom in chairs made for 5th grade behinds, and waited to hear how awesome our kid was.
Every kid came up and accepted something. I counted. Every kid.
You guessed it.
Oh, but never fear, we didn't leave empty-handed. I was given a slip of paper that let me know which library books Munchkin had checked out and neglected to bring back, and told that she would not receive her report card until they were paid for.
I cannot tell you what a proud mommy moment that was.
Y'all, I'm not proud of what I did next, but I hope you can understand what place I was coming from when I did it. And if you can't... well, what amazing children you must have and how lucky you must be to have never been in my shoes at this moment.
The Man described it as me being "harsh".... but I know I was just downright mean.
As we walked to the car after leaving the school, Munchkin was all bubbly and happy. And it made me mad. And the anger boiled up inside of me and came right out of my mouth.
"Maybe the next time you beg for Daddy and me to come to one of your awards ceremonies, you might want to make sure you ACTUALLY GET AN AWARD!"
It was venomous, too.
Listen, I told you I wasn't proud of it.
She cried, I felt sort of bad... but at the time I was still so mad. Now I feel really bad. It's one of those moments she's going to be talking to a therapist about in 15 years and pointing to as the reason for all of her life failures and struggles. I do realize this.
So today I'm going to eat crow and apologize to my daughter and let her know that I am proud of her... even if I don't do a very good job of expressing it sometimes.
Sometimes it sucks to be a grown-up.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
The kids have exactly 2 days left of school this year.
I am scared.
I'm completely, 100%, unprepared to have them home all day, lounging around, fighting with each other and making me want to pull the hair out of my head in giant fistfuls.
I. Have. No. Plan.
Munchkin will spend time at the barn. Thank heavens for the barn. But the boys? They're likely to kill each other.
I don't know exactly when the mayhem began, but it really feels like it's been going on forever. The boys are arch enemies. And it's exacerbated because they share a room.
As much as I'd love to be able to give the boys each their own room, it would require me to make a ginormous sacrifice. I'd have to give up my office. My lovely, happy place. My retreat.
I hate to admit it, but since I've put the kibosh on eBay, I probably could manage it. I mean, I could probably finagle a space in the bedroom for a desk or get one of those nifty armoire thingies where you just close it all up and your office disappears into the formal living room. I'm sure I could do it.
But.... my office....
I love coming in here and shutting the door and having my own little world. It's the only room in the house that is really mine. Granted, my office is sandwiched in between Munchkin's room and the boys' room so I occasionally hear things hitting the walls (mostly on the boys' side and I think it's mostly because they are throwing each other into the walls in an attempt to maim each other). I could probably manage to make a little corner of the living room even quieter than my current office.
But..... my office!
Bug is currently 12 and Goober only 8. Bug is in middle school and interested in girls and technology and Goober is still playing with LEGOs and laughing at fart jokes. Okay, Bug still laughs at fart jokes, too, but you see where I'm going with this.
They're different. And they need their space.
I'm going to hold out as long as I can, though.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Sort of. Almost. Pretty much.
I quit eBay. I just plain can't stand it anymore. eBay has become an ugly place. A place where small sellers like me have to work their tails off for very little pay just to get anywhere at all. Or at least that's how my experience has been over the past few years. I know it's not the same for everyone else. I know some super awesome sellers in other parts of the country, even outside of the country, who are doing great with eBay. And that is awesome for them.
It just became too much for me.
As my kids have gotten busier, as my life has gotten crazier. I've found I just couldn't invest as much time into eBay as I used to be able to. People always tell you life is crazy when you have tiny little children, but no one warns you what it's going to be like when they're all in school and they have their own interests and friends and schedules. You think it's going to get easy because they're in school for a few hours every day. And it is, sort of. But it's also not. Because there is homework, projects, scouts, classes, all kinds of avenues of enrichment that you want so badly to allow your child to participate in. Band concerts, award ceremonies, meetings, and tournaments. You get the idea.
But I digress.
My busy life isn't the only reason I'm kicking eBay to the curb. The biggest reason is the stress. eBay has little sellers like me by the short and curlies, if you know what I mean. One dinged star, one red doughnut in our feedback profile, one missing package and our livelihood is threatened. Not only that, but there is so much competition and the buyers are so willing to nickel and dime every seller, that our profit margins are teenie tiny. One scamming buyer can quite literally take food right out of our children's mouths.
It wasn't until earlier this year that I realized just how much I hated it. The shopping stopped being fun, the photos started to be pure drudgery, the describing, the research... all of it was like one of those jobs you wake up for in the morning and immediately start thinking of reasons you can call in sick.
And it's so very sad, really, because I used to absolutely love eBay. I was eBay's biggest cheerleader. When I was laid off in 2001, eBay was a safe harbor for me. I put food in my newborn baby's mouth with eBay and sometimes even felt a real sense of security.
Those times are long gone for me, though.
(Okay, okay, I still have one eBay store running and I might list some stuff in it soon. But it's purely to get rid of inventory I already have. I swear. And to unload the Yudu for our Girl Scout troop. That's it. Really.)
So I found something different. Something I love to do and a reason to check my email with a smile every morning.
I talked about it a little bit before. But I've expanded, y'all. And I'm having so much freaking FUN.
It started with the girl scouts. And then a little summer camp action. Before long I was making shirts for bowling leagues and 4H clubs.
And then a few friends and I read Fifty Shades of Grey . You've heard of it. The scandalous novel sweeping the world with it's tantalizing scenes and bondage and discipline themes? Yep, that one.
We giggled over it, we shared our favorite scenes, we joked, we had a lot of fun with our significant others. Ahem.
And I made some tee shirts. <- click that y'all!
At first I was just joking. But y'all, they SOLD. And they're still selling. They're selling so well I'm making more with them than I was with eBay or the scout shirts. So I expanded. I added some other designs to my new Etsy store - no, I didn't put them in the same store as the Girl Scout stuff, silly, these babies needed a whole different kind of showcase - and I'm absolutely having a ball with it.
I gave some love to marriage equality and Neil Patrick Harris - two subjects I hold hear to my heart. And every day I'm putting up more and more. It's so much fun I have to literally tell myself to stop working and go spend time with my family.
So eBay can sit on it. I'm done.
Monday, May 14, 2012
It's not often that I consider using my blog as a place to actually discredit a local business. Like, if I get bad service at a restaurant I'm not going to run here and let y'all know about it or if someone does bad plumbing work I'm not going to shout it from the rooftops. But when someone tries to bully me or my children, I think it's time to use the blog.
Last May, The Man and I decided to enroll the boys in a karate school. We figured it would be good discipline and exercise for the boys. The Man had trained his whole childhood and earned the rank of black belt when he was a teenager. Though he hasn't formally trained in years, he continues to practice on his own and I truly believe that karate has made him a stronger, more disciplined and focused adult.
Earlier that year I had taken the kids to the movies and was given a business card for Florida Genbu-Kai Karate. At the time the school was located in Royal Palm Beach, which was pretty close to us out here in the boondocks. So we went and checked the school out.
Sensei Keith Moore gave our boys a trial lesson and the boys really enjoyed it so I decided to sign them up.
SIGNING THE CONTRACT
Now, my spidey sense was tingling when I was presented with a year long contract for the boys. It seemed kind of irrational to sign a year long contract committing a 7 year old and an 11 year old to any activity for an entire year. But the boys were so excited and I really felt good about Florida Genbu-Kai, so I went ahead and did it. The school would have our credit card on file and take tuition out at the beginning of each month. I begrudgingly signed.
That was my first mistake.
Now, when we signed the contract I was told that after the boys passed their yellow belt test, there would be an additional class during the week for sparring practice, but that there would be no extra charge for additional classes.
THE FIRST HITCH IN THE ROAD
Oddly enough when the boys took and passed their test, Sensei Keith Moore and his wife, Karin, began harassing me to pay an increased tuition rate. When I refused, I was given the option to call a list of potential customers and try to book appointments for the dojo. In the spirit of helping out the dojo, I agreed to call this list. The list I was given was over 6 months old and the people on it often didn't remember adding their name to whatever fishbowl or ballot box the school had collected them in. I had terrible results calling them and only managed to book one appointment.
There we were, committed to the school for a year. There were times it was tough to keep it up, honestly. Goober had to give up football for the season because karate conflicted with practice times, but he truly loved going. Bug had practically no time after school before karate and complained constantly about having to go three days a week. It was a lot of dropping everything we were doing to rush to karate, a lot of driving, a lot of sitting around waiting for the boys to be done, and a few minor injuries.
My email inbox began to get regular emails from Sensei Keith Moore, most of them not related to karate at all - but silly forwards and chain emails. All emails were sent to all of the dojo customers with all email addresses clearly apparent to all readers. It irked me, but we had made a commitment and we were following through. I didn't want to bring up these "petty" little things as complaints because I started to fear that Sensei Keith Moore and his wife Karin might treat the boys differently if their mother were labeled a "problem-parent"... so I kept my mouth shut and carried on.
My spidey sense started tingling again when I was presented with a fundraising pamphlet that asked the boys to sell Domino's Pizza (or Papa Johns? I don't remember) to their friends and family. This fundraiser was presented to us on the very first day of the new school year. You know the day... when you're overwhelmed with new routines and paperwork and school uniforms and drop off circles. Not a great time to ask a mom to sell pizzas to help supplement their FOR PROFIT business that I was currently contracted to support.
Later on, just before Christmas, I was handed an envelope containing 20 raffle tickets with a note asking the boys to sell them for a dollar a piece for a 50/50 raffle splitting the prize with the school. In other words, the school was asking my boys to participate in a gambling effort so Sensei Moore could have more money for Christmas.
Now, I understand fundraising for non-profit organizations. And I can even understand if Florida Genbu-Kai had sent a letter home stating that more funds were needed for new equipment or maybe scholarships for underprivileged kids. Something. But to just send home raffle tickets with no explanation of what the money is to be used for is not acceptable. Especially since the parents can only presume that the money is just going directly into the owner's pocket. We did not sell any tickets.
So came the winter holiday. Florida Genbu-Kai was closed for a few weeks due to the holidays and because they were moving from Royal Palm Beach into a new location in Wellington. We were told that we would receive a credit on our tuition for February to make up for the lost time.
Before we could even address the issue of the dojo being closed for the better part of a month, I received an email from Sensei Keith Moore in the second week of January. This email was sent to every customer of the dojo - just as they all had been. This email shocked me. I'll just post it here in all its glory.
Yeah. Now, even though we hadn't been with the school for a year at that point I was horrified that Sensei Keith Moore would publicly admonish his students and their families like that. Was Florida Genbu-Kai really the kind of place I wanted to be sending my boys?
I had to sit on my hands not to respond to that email. Thank goodness the school was still closed at the time because it was several days later before I actually had to face Sensei Keith Moore and I had calmed down a bit at the time. He still had my boys in a contract for the next 4 months and I didn't want to make waves.
When February came, our tuition was charged with no discount. Again, I didn't say anything. I'm sure it would have really hurt the school to have to discount tuition for every member and so I just kept my mouth shut.
THE SAD, SAD ENDING
So finally, we were nearing April's end and the subject of renewing the contract came up. After such a year with the dojo, The Man and I had decided we would not renew the contract, but would be fine with Florida Genbu-Kai taking payments month to month for the boys to continue with the school. This was solely because Goober really loved the school and Bug had set a goal to get to a purple belt for himself. We didn't want to keep the boys from reaching their goals and we knew they were happy at the school.
So I approached Sensei Keith Moore to try to compromise with him on signing a year long contract again for the boys. I mean, our card was on file, they got their tuition at the beginning of the month, he had nothing to lose, right?
He stood tall next to me, arms crossed, and told me a story of another kid who refused to sign his contract. "I kicked the kid out" he said, seriously.
Sensei Keith Moore refused to compromise. Month to month was not acceptable, a shorter term was not acceptable, nothing but that year contract would suffice for him.
On the last Friday of the month, when I picked the boys up from the school, Karin Moore, Sensei's wife was there. She stopped me and again attempted to get me to sign a contract. I let her know that we weren't comfortable with it and that Bug didn't want to continue for a full year anyhow. She turned directly to Bug and started making a deal with him about what he would do at home while Goober was at class.
I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I didn't know how many times I had to tell them that we were not signing a contract. Not for Bug, not for Goober, not for anyone.
We did not return to the school for the class the next day that would have been their last class. I, honestly, just wasn't willing to be pressured into signing a contract again.
Today I received a new email from Sensei Keith Moore.
I will edit this one slightly because it has some personal information in it, but you'll get the gist:
Friday, April 27, 2012
Every few months I go all haywire with social media. I start tweeting real, actual tweets rather than just the automated ones I've set up to tweet when I list new stuff on eBay or write a new post. I update my facebook page. I get all tweetdecky and diggy and read some blogs and try to figure out how to actually make it work for me.
And then it overwhelms me, I throw up my hands and go back into Internet hibernation for another couple of months.
So yesterday began the ascent of my social media climb for the current term (we'll call it the 2nd quarter of 2012) and I started up the Tweet Deck and started interacting and reading some blogs. And I think today I'm already on the descent. It appears now, the thing to do is to follow people on Instagram. For the love of all that is holy, now I need to constantly be snapping pictures of my life, adding cool hipster filters to make my life look more edgy than it actually is, and pester people to follow me on yet another social media site.
Will the insanity never end?
I'll probably jump on board. At least for a little while. I can't resist the pull. Now Munchkin's horseback riding lessons can have a faded vintage feel to them and Goober's football practice can look even brighter and more vibrant than it actually is when bathed solely in Florida's super hot sun.
Because that's all this really is, isn't it? People portraying a little glimpse into their lives - but constantly editing it so no one ever sees what is real. Which only feeds our delusions that our lives aren't as good as the ones that we are viewing through our little LCD screens. So we buy more, we do more, we feed the monster that is consumerism and hope that we, too, can live in a hipster filtered world where everything is bathed in cool blue tones and cleanliness.
I'll update with my info when I've jumped on the bandwagon so y'all can envy the delusion I create for you.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
"It's not the easy times that make you the person you're going to be, but the hard times and how you handle them." - My Father
It's been a while since I've posted because I haven't really felt like I had anything much to say. The normal goings on of the Spaz family haven't stopped - we've had karate, and horses, and girl scouts, and family get-togethers, and camping trips, and melt downs, and messes, and all of it. I just haven't felt like reporting everything.
But today I feel like I need to reach out to a friend. A friend who I've never met in person, but who has shared her life in the blogosphere and in private groups with me and on the wonderful world we all know as facebook. Sometimes our lives seem to parallel each other and I have a special place in my heart for her.
My friend is having a tough time with her child. Her oldest child, a senior in high school... she's traveling a path I have yet to travel... so what advice can I possibly give her?
She wrote today about how she told him "I give up".... words uttered in a moment of despair but words she doesn't mean. And she wrote about how she'll never give up. My heart breaks for her and for her child because, though I'm not in that place where I have a teenage child who is experiencing a particularly painful time of growing up, I remember being one.
My parents never gave up.
When I say that to my parents, when I thank them for never giving up on me, my dad always looks at me like he can't believe I would possibly think that he could ever give up.
"Of course we never gave up on you, Beth. You're our child."
But I grew up with other kids whose parents did give up. I had friends that had no safe place to go back to when they failed the first, second, or tenth time. I had friends who struggled and fought to stay alive... and some of them didn't. I can't speak for their parents - maybe they didn't have enough to offer, maybe they couldn't handle the pressures of their own lives and therefore couldn't be there for their children. I don't know the situations. I just know that I saw kids who were falling and no one was there to pick them up.
I gave my mom and dad a hard time growing up. I was defiant, I thought I knew it all, I made all the wrong choices. I went through dark periods of sadness and confusion. I pushed my family away, I told them I didn't need them. I caused them so much pain that there is nothing I could ever do to make up for it. I loved them, I hated them, I lied, I deceived, I did things I would be ashamed to write here.
But when push came to shove, my parents were there. They were always there to pick me up and try to set me back on course when I was ready for help. They never gave up.
I don't know if my mom and dad have any idea how much I appreciate them today. I don't know if they understand how absolutely proud I am to be their daughter. I don't know if words could ever express it.
My friend, my amazing friend who is fighting for her son, some day when he has pulled through all of this darkness and come out the other side a stronger grown up man, he will turn to you with an incredulous look on his beautiful face and thank you for never giving up.
Friday, March 2, 2012
So Sudo takes a ride with us every morning to drop Munchkin and Goober off to school. The other morning we all piled in the minivan and were ready to set out on the 5 minute ride to the elementary school when I turned the ignition and realized I had hardly any gas in the van.
"Jump out, kids, we're taking Daddy's car."
So we all piled into The Man's SUV and were off to the school. We pulled into the drop off circle and stopped in front of the entrance. Munchkin hopped out of the front seat with nary a look over her shoulder and was off. Goober, on the other hand, found difficulty with the door and therefore took way longer than is typically allotted in the drop off circle. That's what I get for spoiling my children with a minivan with automatic sliding doors. At any rate, by the time he actually got out of the car I was so nervous about getting out of the way of all the minivans that were piling up behind me that I accelerated a little too fast and hopped up on the curb.
Now, in actuality, I'm sure the tire barely even raised on the curb and perhaps no one even noticed. But in my head I had driven up on to the sidewalk like the Dukes of Hazzard with reckless abandon. I was horrified.
I pulled away, avoiding eye contact with the car that pulled up next to me at the light exiting the school, lest they be giving me the evil mom stink eye (you know the one), and drove home.
Upon arriving home I unlocked the front door and stopped.
Something was wrong. It was... quiet. And that's when I realized Sudo was no where to be found.
Frantic, I ran out to the front of the house and saw him, ears perked and goofy doggie grin on his face, sitting in the front seat of the van waiting for his ride.
Good thing dogs don't hold grudges.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The Internet is crazy.
The other day a couple of little girls from a high school not too far from here posted a video on the Internet that was truly sad. You can watch it yourself if you'd like to, just like I did (unless the video is deleted again because it violates hate speech policies).
But I'll give you a recap to save you the trouble.
Two ignorant white suburban girls go on a diatribe about how everyone at their high school is black, how they have real hair and black girls have weaves, and how the white people at their school speak like black people (while they do imitations). The girls appear to be about 14 or 15 and clearly have no clue what sort of negative impact their statements are going to have.
And people are mad - understandably so. The stupid little girls in this video even say to the black people watching their video "Please be offended, because we are making fun of you."
I couldn't bring myself to be mad, though. Watching this video broke my heart. I was instantly sad that these girls thought it would be funny to make a video like this and post it. I feel terribly for everyone affected by it. Not just the people the video addresses, but the girls themselves. Because one day they will grow up and they'll realize how much impact words can have on other people.
But today they're just ignorant little girls who don't think past what they're going to wear tomorrow. Obviously they weren't thinking when they posted this. "Don't post this on facebook because all our friends are black." Not for long, bitches, not for long.
The saddest thing is that there are little girls all over the country, maybe all over the world, that are thinking just like this and acting just like this. Most of them evidently have enough foresight not to record themselves and post videos, but that doesn't change the fact that there are tons of them.
I hope these girls have parents who are striking down upon them with great vengeance and furious anger (Pulp Fiction reference, check). I hope their parents are feeling waves of shock, mortification, and disappointment - because somewhere along the way they failed those girls. They forgot to teach them that words can never really be taken back. They neglected to teach them that being different is good, that we need diversity and open minds for our world to keep improving. They never took the time to show those girls the value of stepping outside of their little box and really looking at the world around them.
I hope these little girls are learning that what they've done is gross and sad. I hope they're beginning to understand that, as they brush their real hair and show off their skinny little bodies, they're only showing how incredibly ugly they are. And if they don't understand that now - I can only hope that they will one day soon.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
The other day I went into the bank to make one of our final cookie sale deposits for Girl Scouts. Cookie deposits are always fun because I get to walk into the bank with thousands of dollars in cash - mostly one dollar bills. Then I get to unleash my evil upon an unsuspecting teller who has to spend the next half hour with me, counting out all that cash and occasionally giving me the stink eye.
I pulled into the bank parking lot at around 3 pm with Munchkin and Goober and my ginormous wad of cash. Munchkin asked if she could stay in the car and read her book but Goober wanted to go inside in the hopes that a bank lollipop would be available. I told Munchkin she could stay in the car since it was cool and overcast and let her read her Babysitters Club book.
So Goober and I go in the bank and after a short wait in line, a poor teller who knew not what she was getting herself into, called us up.
She was a trooper, though, and just smiled and started counting. About half way through her count - we heard a loud POP, the three tellers emitted an in unison high pitched scream, and the power went out.
And I thought "OH MY GOD SOMEONE IS ROBBING THE BANK AND MUNCHKIN IS IN THE CAR AND THEY'RE GOING TO STEAL MY GIRL SCOUT DEPOSIT!!!!!!!!!"
And I nearly passed out.
But it was not the case. The POP we heard was the backup generator's fuse blowing or something and not wimpy gun fire. So this was just a simple power outage and not a robbery.
My teller just continued counting like nothing had happened. It barely even slowed her down.
Though, I don't know if you've ever been in a bank when the power goes out because this was a first for me. They lock it down. If you're in, you're in, if you're out, you're out. So I said to the teller "My daughter's in the car!"
And she looked a little alarmed and said "Well, how old is she?"
The teller looked at me with an eyebrow raised "She'll probably be okay, Ma'am."
And of course she was. She was happily engrossed in her book when I returned to the car a short time later and had no knowledge that any power outage had occurred. But from now on, she'll be coming in the bank to read her book in their waiting area. Lesson learned.
Friday, February 17, 2012
I have a love/hate relationship with February, that I think I've mentioned before. In the beginning of the month we're always wrapping up our Girl Scout cookie sale which always proves to be hectic. By the Superbowl Sunday my co-leader and I are usually ready to pull our hair out and put a formal ban on the words "Tagalong" and "Samoa" within our earshot.
Then we have Valentines Day, which can either be the most wonderful day or the most disappointing day, depending on our expectations. This year I was happy to pick out my own roses at the grocery store and remark on how beautiful they were every day as they opened up. Bug, still a little tender from his break-up, had moved on to another cute face and had a less than favorable response from her when he attempted to woo her with chocolate and a teddy bear on Valentines Day. Middle school can be brutal, y'all.
Rounding out the end of the month is my birthday, which has officially moved from being the happiest day of the year to another reminder of time's constant passing. I'm less than a week away to the big three five and I'll be happy when it's passed, I guess. I wish I could be more like those people who, no matter the year, are elated when it's their day. They look forward to it, they plan it, they get excited about the attention and the gifts and the hub bub.
Don't get me wrong - I do enjoy celebrating the day with my family. I just enjoy it a little more when it's one of their birthdays we're celebrating, not mine. This year I plan on sitting on the beach with my toes buried in the sand and a cold margarita in hand, and I'll try to just look at it as a beautiful day with my family.
I do love a good margarita.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Today my sweet Bug had his first real heart break and my own heart broke just a little to see him so sad. His first girlfriend (or whatever qualifies as a girlfriend when you are in 6th grade) broke up with him today. Their romance lasted just about one month and mostly consisted of nearly constant texting back and forth, but he was pretty upset when he arrived home from school today.
He didn't want to talk much and after he went to karate tonight he seemed to be in better spirits, but there was still a little part of me that wanted to call this girl up and tell her what a fool she is for letting such an awesome kid as my Bug go.
And then I realized I just might turn into that mother. You know the one. You probably dated a guy who had that mother. The mother who thinks that no girl is good enough for her golden son. That just might be me.
See, this time it's just a little thing. Bug's going to be sad when he sees this girl at school on Monday and there might be some weirdness between them for a little while that will be forgotten by Valentines Day when he'll more than likely be eyeing some other little girl who will be glad to have his attention.
But there will come a day when it's not a little thing. When he really loves someone and they're careless with his heart. And I really, really don't want that day to come.