Raise A Child in 30 Years or Less

“Carry On My Wayward Son, There’ll Be Pizza When You Are Done” – (Me & Kansas)

A little brain power before heading off to take the menu test

A little brain power before heading off to take the menu test

It’s no secret that my boys eat me out of house and home. I’ve never been able to keep enough food in the house for them. This became apparent to me years ago, when James was about 7. I was chatting on the phone with the mother of his best friend, when she chanced to mention what she had fed the boys for dinner that night, which was odd, as James had busted through the door only minutes earlier asking what we were having for dinner because he, “was starving!”  That’s when I realized that James had been eating dinner with them every evening and then coming home to eat dinner here. When I asked him why he was doing so, he patiently explained, “Because, Mom, that’s how I can have 2 dinners!”

For that and a few other reasons, I was excited this week when James got his very first job at an upscale pizza restaurant that happens to be one of my personal favorites. I’m sure I came across a little over-eager when he asked me to help him study for his first menu test, but it has been years since I’ve had an opportunity (read: been qualified) to help him with his homework. I fetched my glasses and curled up on the couch with his study materials and started quizzing away, silently priding myself that ‘I may not know Calculus or Trig, but I sure as Hell know my Hummus and Figs.’

That’s when I discovered that I had actually managed to raise an AP Scholar, who powers his brain by eating 24/7, constantly and non-stop, yet is, ironically, a complete Culinary Illiterate.

In all fairness, I understand that a mere boy of 18 would not know how to pronounce “Aioli” but he also could not pronounce, “Arugula” or “Gorgonzola.” He claims he is not familiar with any of those delicacies. I was particularly dismayed when we hit another snag at the “Texas Goat Cheese,” as it is one of my favorite items on their menu. James simply couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that anyone would bake cheese over Fig Preserves. He scripted it as, “Fig Preservatives.” When I corrected him, he asked what “preserves” even are (jelly!) and then, exasperatedly queried,

What’s a *%!# ing Fig?”

I admit that in the interest of simplicity and convenience, I fed the boys at Little Caesers and Sonic, bought our jelly in those convenient little squeezy bottles, and opted to buy Oreos over Fig Newtons, but I had no idea the extent to which I had handicapped my own son. On a positive note, he breezed right through the “Buffalo Wings” “Meatball Sub” and “Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie,”descriptions, maintaining that those were foods that just “made sense” to him.
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By 8 pm, I needed a glass of wine…
By 9 pm, I needed my jammies
By 10 pm, I had dissolved into tears and we had only covered appetizers, salads and desserts.

IF he passes the test tonight, we get to move on to the PIZZAS tomorrow. There’s no question we are in more familiar territory with pizza, but this restaurant takes pizza toppings way past pepperoni and mozzarella – they serve National Merit Pizzas. At this point, I’m really wishing I could just help him with his Calculus.
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I’ll Never Be Your Beast Of Burden (Us & Our Christmas Letter)

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Dearest friends and family,

I decided not to write a Christmas letter this year, because I really feel that, for better or worse, Facebook has killed the oft-dreaded Christmas Letter, as we know it. Our friends and family and everyone else on the planet is fully aware what we’ve been up to this year, as few families have saturated social media like The Blanchards in 2015. However, like the proverbial tree that fell in the forest, my family feels like the year didn’t happen if I don’t write a Christmas letter..

If you are living under a rock (ie: not on Facebook) you may not know that Emilie, 29, got married in October. The Newlywedmans are now nestled into their first home, working non-stop to build their future. Occasionally, she tries to garner a little sympathy, by telling me and Jimmy how much they both work (24/7, Christmas Day, blah, blah, blah) but, when we were their age, we trod shoeless, over snow-covered hills to work on weekends and holidays, so her pleas fall upon deaf ears. On a positive note, she astutely pointed out the other day that she has noticed her “favored child status” with her Dad has soared ever since she ‘went off his books.’
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Not to be outdone in the approval rating polls, a couple of weeks after Emilie’s wedding, Mollie, 26, was surprised with an engagement ring from her boyfriend-gone-fiancé, Jace. We secretly arranged to fly up there to meet them to celebrate, just hours after he popped the question. Fortunately, she said “yes,” or it would’ve been an awkward 3 days. They are both in their second year of law school in Manhattan, she at Fordham and he at Columbia. As if New York weren’t far enough away, they plan to study a semester in Amsterdam this Fall. They both graduate in May 2017 and will marry shortly after.

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Gracie, 20, is studying Journalism at the University of Arkansas. Out of our 5, she is, without question, the most interesting blend of me and Jimmy. And, I’m not talking about facial features. After being, ‘Home for the Holidays’ for all of 24 hours, she had her fill of family and decided to dash down to Dallas for a night on the town with friends. I received an SOS text before she left, saying she was in my closet and needed assistance putting an outfit together. I received highest praises from her after the ensemble was cobbled together from:
-some pants of mine that I bought and haven’t worn yet
– a top she hadn’t yet seen that was supposed to be a Christmas present
-my cheetah boots
-finished off with 2 necklaces and a bracelet (all mine)
As she admired herself in the mirror, she said, “Thanks Les, you’re Clutch!” Could any mother ask for more than being “clutch” in a fashion crisis? I’ll take it.

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James is in his Senior year at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School. He divided his time this year between school, friends, football and his adorable girlfriend Annie. I went upstairs to clean his bathroom the other day, and all 6 light bulbs in both sections of the bathroom were burnt out. I couldn’t see any grime, mold or mildew for the darkness, and really wanted to pretend it was sparkly clean, but the scent contraindicated. As I clambered up onto the counter top with fresh bulbs, I wondered to myself,

“How does he manage to see himself in the mirror when he gets ready for school in the mornings?”

But then, I realized, when you’re a young manly buck of 18, you don’t need a few watts of light, or a mirror to affirm what you already know to be true.

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Sometimes Jimmy and I look at one another and wonder if we were foolish or just plain crazy to have 5 children. It’s tremendously validating that Tommy is our favorite. It’s really hard not to not feel like “practice makes perfect!” I casually remarked to Gracie the other day how great he is – smart, and kind, with an unparalleled work ethic, all topped off with red hair. She responded, “He’s only 15, give him some time! He may disappoint you yet.”

He did actually try my patience a bit today. After weeks of me asking him what he wanted for Christmas and him insisting that he, “didn’t need a thing,” I went ahead and spent the per-person Christmas gift money on some school clothes for him. He notified me by text TODAY that he needs an X-Box. Apparently, it can put one behind the 8-ball socially, if you don’t have the same gaming system as your friends. Of course I’m going to make sure he gets it. Gingers don’t let Gingers get in a bind socially; we have each other’s backs. It’s a thing.

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Jimmy and I went out for dinner last night to celebrate our 31st anniversary. We sat at the bar at Mahogany and gently debated who has had the harder job (greater “Ministry”) being married to the other. We never really settled it. We may never. But, we definitely agreed that if we ever allowed a camera in our “colorful” home to watch us co-parent, settle financial issues, navigate key marital moments and discuss world events, we would take the entire Kardashian Empire down. No one would find them interesting up against us.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Colorful New Year,
Jimmy, Leslie and (not) too many kids
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“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” – (Bing Crosby and My Kids)

I'll be back in 3 weeks to do this all again!

I’ll be back in 3 weeks to do this all again!

When my children head back to their various schools and universities, after the Thanksgiving Holiday, I just need a few things to get my life back on track: a maid, a diet, and a budget.

Truth be told, I’m sure I’m exaggerating about the maid.  When they stuff all their piles of junk back into their cars, and I can actually see my counter tops and floors again, I will probably realize that I don’t really need a maid. I cleaned before they arrived, so technically, nothing got dirty; I just need to unload and reload the dishwasher a few hundred times, and do a few mountains of laundry, that I couldn’t do while I was busy doing theirs. I know you’re probably thinking I shouldn’t do their laundry, but when I did Gracie’s laundry the other day, I found tons of things that were mine. BONUS! I felt rich-It was like being paid, albeit with things I already own, like leggings, jeans, my favorite running socks. Still, it was oddly rewarding.

I guess it isn’t really my kids’ fault that I need a serious diet and a Personal Trainer after they visit. But, it kind’ve is. Adult children fall into a weirdly ambiguous category when they come home for the holidays. They’re your kids, but they’re also your guests. I feel compelled to entertain them when they are home, even more than I did when I was raising them. And, like everyone else, I tend to entertain best around food. Whether we prepare it at home or dine out, eating is our chief source of entertainment. I’m sure right about now you’re wanting to tell me how, in your family, you play board games and charades. We do that too, we just do it with baked goods, creamy martinis, Baileys poured into hot cocoa. Jimmy and I have found that we enjoy our adult children infinitely more when we share a cocktail with them.

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When Gracie and I weren’t laying around eating, drinking, stalking pictures of her friends on Instagram or watching documentaries on Netflix, we were shopping. I was really motivated to have her help me buy toys for the two precious children we “adopted” for Christmas. I think it’s good to have one’s offspring participate in this activity. It builds character. The first day we went out, we never got within a mile of a toy (or character, for that matter) Before we knew it, it was getting dark, we were exhausted and it was time to go home and shake up some martinis. We did better the next day, Target was our first store and we managed to get every item checked off the list before we beat a hasty path to the boutiques. We squeezed in some regular Christmas shopping for our own family as well. Gracie likes to shop one-on-one with me, due to the “Shopping Principle of 1:1,” which simply states that, “Mom will buy one thing for us, for every one thing she buys for others!”

We managed to blow through all the money I had allocated for Christmas before the Thanksgiving turkey was even thawed.

I really think all I need is about 6-8 weeks to get my life back to normal. With minimal effort, I should be able to get caught up around the house, drop 5 lbs and restore positive fiscal relations with Jimmy and Citibank Visa.

The only glitch is that I don’t have that much time. My kids will be back in less than 3 weeks for Christmas. And Christmas vacation lasts way longer than Thanksgiving. In fact, sometimes Thanksgiving feels like a practice holiday, to remind me what it’s going to be like having everyone home for a month!

To keep my spirits bright, as she packs to leave this morning, Gracie is humming a Christmas Carol – And I am inserting my own lyrics:

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have dough,
so we can go
on a shopping spree…

Christmas Eve will find us
Sharing an alcoholic drink
I’ll be home for Christmas…

…Sooner than you think!

“The Waiting Is The Hardest Part” – (Me & Tom Petty)

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It’s been 9 long months since we found out on January 1st that we were going to be blessed with our sixth child.  A son that another family has already named Matthew.  He is due on October 3rd of this year.  At 6′, 170 lbs, Matt will be our biggest kid, but perhaps more significantly, the only one  to arrive promptly on his due date.

Since I am one of the first of my group to add a member to their family via marriage, many of my friends are watching me in earnest. Ever since Emilie got engaged, I have been besieged with friends telling me that they hope I will get some “on-the-job-training” at the Art of Wedding Planning so that I can assist them when their time arrives. While I don’t have any desire to be an actual Wedding Planner, per se, I am intrigued by the concept of becoming a “Wedding Midwife.” I’m picturing myself in a purely supportive role – standing by with experience, wisdom, sage advice and an endless amount of empathy.

Here is my step-by-step overview on how to bring a new member into your family. As with all gestational periods, it can be less daunting if you break it down into manageable sections:

The first trimester:
A flurry of activity! You will conceptualize the entire event during this time. A ring is purchased and a date is circled prominently on the calendar. Immediately following the excitement of conception, and before you can even catch your breath, the development process begins. You start to give shape to seemingly minor details that, while barely visible to the naked eye at this stage, are extremely important down the road.  A venue, caterer, florist, cake and DJ are selected. THE DRESS must be chosen with the utmost care and attention, sparing no expense.  And, don’t forget to buy something flattering for your Bride to wear as well- you’ll want her to look pretty that day too.

The second trimester:
The second trimester is a bit calmer, as the major components for success are all in place. This period of time can and should be spent primarily on Growth Management. Lamentably and per the usual, we didn’t do this very well – our wedding is off-the-charts enormous. This won’t be the first time we brought a kid into our family with an appalling lack of commitment to the curtailment of excess. Don’t panic if this happens to you. Maintain your focus and after you bring this whole thing to fruition, you can rein yourself in, exercise some self-discipline and, hopefully, get things back to the way they were before you were expecting.

The third trimester:
At the beginning of the third trimester, it will occur to you that you are finally getting close. This is the time to check and double-check that everything is “good to go.” Sleep will start to elude you while you lay in bed imagining the approaching day in your mind. Along with joyful anticipation, vulnerability, fear and anxiety become your closest companions, as you start to visualize every single thing that can possibly go wrong that day. Towards the end of your last trimester, exhausted and spent from waiting and fretting, you’ll just want to get it over with, no matter how it turns out.

Your Big Day:
When the long-awaited day finally does arrive, you’ll be surrounded by well-wishers, supportive friends and family. Sure, you’ll be nervous, but you’ve prepared for this day for 9 months.   Plus, there’s a really nice man who will hook you up to an IV and give you drugs to ease your way through the experience…

Scratch that last part, it’s just a bartender with a glass of champagne. I’ll probably say, “I do” and take two.

“Play That Funky Music White Boy!” (Me & Wild Cherry)

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It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose. There was undoubtedly going to be a point at which My Wedding Vision clashed with that of the Bride’s.

Naturally I hoped it would be over some minor detail; a wrinkle we could iron right out. I certainly wasn’t anticipating a conflict of such EPIC PROPORTIONS. According to some recent alarming remarks from Her Brideliness, it appears as though we don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on what constitutes excellent dance music…

As every wedding guest knows, the dance music is vitally essential to establishing the vibe of the entire affair. As such, on our RSVP cards, we queried our guests as to “which song is most likely to get you on the dance floor.” Just to be clear, I know EXACTLY which songs get ME on the dance floor, I just thought it’d be a nice touch, gracious and “hostessy” to sprinkle a few other songs into the Wedding Mix. You know,  songs other people like.

The response cards have been rolling in to the mailbox for the past few weeks. As expected, all the song suggestions prompted a conversation about our upcoming meeting with the DJ to construct the dance song list, which elicited this comment from Emilie:

“There are a few songs that I definitely don’t want played under any circumstances at the wedding!”

I  nod my head vigorously in agreement, assuming that Mother and Daughter were on the exact same page about some of the ridiculous songs out there that we definitely don’t want the DJ to play. I could only imagine which songs from my personal list of “TOP 10 MOST ANNOYING DANCE SONGS EVER” we would jointly agree to ban.

Instead, she irreverently references music from my catalog of “TOP 10 BEST DANCE SONGS EVER WRITTEN.” She goes on to say: “I don’t know their titles exactly, but one is something about a Brick House and there’s another one where a white guy is encouraged to play funky music!”

Instantly alarmed, I looked immediately over at Jimmy, who is not necessarily invested in dance music, but thoroughly  invested in me.  

There simply aren’t words to express the Joy-Vacuum that I will experience if these songs are unjustly boycotted from our wedding. Most of them are more than just songs, they are the ANTHEMS of an entire generation.

For example, every woman my age, give or take 10 years either direction, genuinely believes in her heart-of-hearts, that SHE herself, is in fact the aforementioned BRICK HOUSE. Maybe she doesn’t exhibit this behavior in her everyday life, but you can sure tell she embraces it when she dances. When she is out on the floor, she is “36-24-36,” the “winning hand,” most especially when she “shakes it down, shakes it down now.”

Impervious to my reaction and the depths of my despair, Emilie turns to Father-of-the-Bride and twists the proverbial knife:

“I’ll never forget all those eternally long road trips when Mom would crank up the radio and torture us kids for hours with her dance moves from behind the steering wheel.”

Apparently, all those years I thought I was making sweet memories, I was actually torturing my own children. Plus, isn’t “torture” a strong word?

I have a week before we meet with the DJ. I’m currently thinking of a few ways to Bribe-the-Bride. This isn’t just about ME, I’m equally concerned about all my Brick House friends, who will be sorely disappointed if they don’t get to “lay down their boogie” next month.

“Return To Sender” – (Me And Elvis)

Text from me to Emilie right after I mailed wedding invitations

Text from me to Emilie right after I mailed wedding invitations

As we get closer to our wedding date, people have started greeting me by asking, “How’s the wedding planning going?” My usual quippy response is, “I’ll tell you the day after it’s over!” I say that because I have been naively assuming that any WEDDING BLUNDERS I might possibly encounter, or be currently in the process of committing, would not be revealed to me until the actual wedding day itself.  I was a bit wrong.

Last week, after my little Bride spent the better part of a month painstakingly addressing invitations in her best Catholic-school-girl penmanship, I insisted on taking them home, so that I could give them a “once-over” and have the final say in Quality Control. I was not going to take any chances with these babies, as they were handmade in the UK, by tiny little English ladies. I found their company on Pinterest and ordered them post haste, (pun intended.) I don’t know if they have a little invitation factory there in Great Britain, but I rather preferred to picture them sitting around a kitchen table in their little cottage in Somewhere-upon-Somewhereshire gluing the ribbon and adhering the little embellishments.

I could not have been more pleased when I saw the finished product, squealing in delight. When the Father-of-the-Bride feasted his eyes on my little jewels, his first words were:

A. “Honey those are Divine!”
B. “Can I help you address them?”
Or
C. “Dear God, how much did those set me back?”

If you answered “C,” thank you for being a loyal reader of my blog.

The truth is, I couldn’t answer his question about how much they cost, because I paid for them in British Pounds. So, I don’t quite know, but it’s safe to say that they were a pretty pence. Which explains how relieved I was last week, when I finally handed 250 of them into the ever-so-capable hands of the United States Postal Service.

So imagine, if you will, the scene in my home the very next morning, when Jimmy walked into the house carrying an enormous  bin marked, “Property of the USPS” brimming over with my invitations…

I was sitting there working on my Wedding To-Do list (now that the invites were securely mailed out) and struggled mightily to process his words to me, “The best way to do this is just rip the proverbial Band-aid off quickly, so…here are your invitations back, it looks like they need more stamps!”

It seems the United States Postal Service took issue with the unorthodox shape (square?) of my English Envelopes. They RUDELY defaced most of them with large red rubber-stamping that screamed “ADDITIONAL POSTAGE DUE!” which necessitated the ordering of 130 additional un-American envelopes overnighted from Great Britain so we could re-address, re-afix proper postage and re-mail. That set us back a few more pence.

The following day, I received a ransom note from my local Post Office, saying that another 60 or so invites had been confiscated and were being held hostage there. I was welcome to drive over at my earliest convenience and negotiate their release, at 44 cents apiece.

As fortune would have it, things actually managed to go downhill from there, when word started trickling in that various members of the Groom’s family had received summons’ to report to their local Post Office to pay a small fine for the privilege of picking up their invitations…

It’s been almost a week since the debacle and I’ve spent almost every minute chasing down invitations, but I think we have recovered MOST of them. I was thinking about wearing a money-changer belt around my waist at the wedding so I could reimburse my Guests, but I’m concerned that between that and my Spanx, I won’t be able to breathe. Instead, I think I’ll just put out a jar full of change, with a sign instructing guests to reimburse themselves, HONOR SYSTEM style. Much classier…

Speaking of classy, I’ve decided that Mollie and Gracie’s invites will definitely be “Made in the USA.”  I’ll probably just buy them at Walmart!

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“Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon” (Me and Boy George)

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Remember those compromising videos that you allowed people to take of you when you were younger?

Videos you would be mortified today, for your friends to watch…

You know the ones I’m talking about…

There’s a video of that nature floating around this house somewhere, that caused me to flinch in embarrassment every time I was forced to watch it.

It’s the video of my first few hours of motherhood. The cameras were rolling 24/7 the day Emilie was born. An hour or so after my firstborn was conceived, My parents couldn’t beat a path to Best Buy fast enough to purchase a large and cumbersome Panasonic Video Camera. They diligently toted this contraption around for many years documenting every moment of Emilie’s life, beginning with the day she was born. (Regrettably, these videos didn’t disappear in 10 seconds like today’s Snap Chat. Our generation had to wait years for VCRs to become obsolete and erase the evidence of our youthful folly.)

There are several unsettling things about this video, starting with the fact that I exhibit the composure and maturity of a 12 year old. The most cringe-worthy scene is when my Mom picks up one of those pacifiers that the hospital provides and coaxes it into Emilie’s tiny little rosebud mouth. The camera pans to me, as I screech and lunge off the hospital bed announcing with plucky self-import:

First-Time-Mom: “Don’t put that thing in her mouth! We certainly aren’t going to be starting anything like that!”

First-Time-Grandma: (tossing pacifier aside and dragging out her syllables) “Ooookie-Doookie!”

It’s painfully obvious that I had done my research and knew everything about the “shoulds” and the “shouldn’ts” of parenting my newborn. Apparently, I bought into some crap I’d read about “Self-Soothing.” (If self-soothing was really a thing, therapists and Ambien wouldn’t be thriving like they are today.) But, it’s good to know I had a rigid Maternal Compass that first day.

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Fast-forward a few years later, and a few years after that, and a few years after that and a few years after that. Ironically, there’s no footage of me in FULL BLOOM as a mother, largely because no one cared to film it anymore. But, if there had been, it would’ve depicted me attempting in vain to coerce all 4 of my subsequent offspring to suck a pacifier. I tried every trick in the book from brushing the nipple gently around the baby’s lips to dipping the damn thing in Karo syrup, to dredging the Karo in granulated sugar (like I was rimming a martini glass, instead of a plastic nipple). All of my efforts were in vain, as not one of my belligerent and willful children ever took a pacifier despite my efforts. Karma had the last laugh. They say she is quite the Bitch.

I’m not exactly sure when I did an about-face, cashing in my high standards for peace, sanity and convenience, but it was definitely chameleon-esque. Someone managed to snap a picture of me sharing my Margarita with Baby Emilie at a Mexican Food restaurant a few months before her first birthday. (She was teething and I thought something icy and numbing on her gums would help, or possibly a little Baby-Buzz would knock the horns off?)

"Everyday is like survival" (Boy George - 1983)

“Everyday is like survival”
(Boy George – 1983)

The important lesson here, of course, is that the woman who managed to raise YOU, undoubtedly knows more than anything you’ll ever read in a book. I’m glad we got this all sorted out before my kids have kids and I’m a Grandma. In fact, the more I think about it, the word “Karma” sounds remarkably a lot like the word “Grandma.”

Maybe I’ll have my grandchildren call me that….

 

“I Ain’t No Fortunate Son” (My Boys and Creedence Clearwater Revival)

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A Spring Break letter to my Sons:

Dear Boys,

It blows my mind how many of your friends are on glamorous, luxury vacations this week. I apologize for not believing you, when you said, EVERYONE you knew was leaving town for Spring Break.

I really didn’t believe it was literally EVERYONE. But, it is…

I realized you weren’t exaggerating on Sunday, when we arrived late for Mass and the church was so empty that we still had our pick of the pews. I was completely convinced when there was zero wait time for a table at the restaurant afterwards. Later, last night, when I was casually skimming Facebook, I was inundated with even more evidence. There were hundreds of pictures of your friends hitting the slopes and the crystal white beaches of Mexico and the Caribbean. (I bet it’s hard to convince yourselves that your friends are laying around their houses, as bored as you are, when you are drowning in social media to the contrary).

So, you were right, apparently we do have the Great State of Oklahoma all to ourselves!

I know that you’re growing weary of hearing this, but, when Dad and I were growing up, things were way different. Of course, you know all about the ’70s because you have watched every episode of, “That ’70s Show,” but there’s a few things the show didn’t cover…

For starters, we didn’t have Spring Break in the ’70s. Spring Break, like many other questionable social ills, was born on the college campuses of this great country. Every year the media would cover thousands of college students flocking to the beaches of Fort Lauderdale and Daytona for Spring Break. But, grade schoolers and high schoolers stayed at their desks for the most part. We had a few days off around Easter, commonly referred to as Easter Vacation. We dyed eggs and spent hours hiding and finding them in our backyards for entertainment. This cost our parents less than $2.

But the most important thing we really wanted you to understand, when you innocently asked us last week,

“Where are we going for Spring Break?”

…is that, in the 70s, if we did have a day or more vacation from school, the last thing in the world we were going to do was advertise it to our parents!

Why – You ask? Because, our parents weren’t going to go skedaddle to a travel website to plan a luxury vacation for us. They were going to send us to fetch a pen and paper, so that they could make a list of things that needed to be done around the house. Our parents were delighted when we had days off from school so we could:
reorganize the attic
pull weeds
clean out the garage
and paint the house

I’m not going to go so far as to say, children were “a blessing” when we were growing up, (as in our grandparent’s generation when they genuinely needed more hands to work the fields) but, our parents were definitely not above using their children as Indentured Servants.

If my siblings and I thought we could pull it off, we would set our alarms on vacation days, get up early, get dressed and leave the house, hoping our parents would think we actually HAD school. Bottom line- We just weren’t as “in our parents faces” back then. We avoided them as much as possible. This is a concept that your generation isn’t familiar with; we called it, “making ourselves scarce”. It worked well for all concerned parties.

But, back to you- Please don’t think it didn’t make us feel super un-cool, remorseful and negligent when we saw your disappointed faces. We failed to plan and planned to fail, as they say. Nevertheless, it’s not too late to salvage your Spring Break! In an effort to make it up to you, we proudly announce:

THE TWO-FOR-ONE GRANDMA TOUR 2015!!!

That’s right guys, you are going on an all-expenses-paid Road Trip to visit, not one, but BOTH of your grandmothers!! Get your i-phones handy,  you’ll want to post tons of pictures, as we drive you all over our old “stomping grounds” reminiscing and pointing out places of interest, such as our high schools, Tiger Stadium, where we went to make-out and many other exciting locales. We will sing songs and share our favorite memories, as you sit captive and captivated in the back seat.

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We were able to pull this entire trip together at the very last minute, largely because we didn’t need advance reservations and the ladies aren’t charging us a dime for lodging.

Start packing! And be grateful we don’t think you can distinguish between a flower and a weed and we don’t trust you anywhere near our house with a paintbrush!

Love,
The Mom Who Saved Spring Break

The last time we trusted James to paint the house...

The last time we trusted James to paint the house…

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want, You Get What You Need” – (A Stocking Stuffer Strategy By Mom and Mick Jagger)

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want, You Get What You Need” – (A Stocking Stuffer Strategy By Mom and Mick Jagger).

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want, You Get What You Need” – (A Stocking Stuffer Strategy By Mom and Mick Jagger)

The stockings were filled by the chimney with care, in hopes that my phone charger still would be there!

The stockings were filled by the chimney with care, in hopes that my phone charger still would be there!

Sounds like the majority of the Moms I’ve talked to have completed their Christmas shopping, for the most part.

“I just have to pick up some stocking stuffers and I’m all done!” boasted one of my friends.

Not to be the voice of negativity, but that’s a more daunting chore than it sounds like… I’m pretty sure the tradition of stuffing stockings originated years ago, back in the Mother Country, when the only thing children received from Father Christmas, was a small (human-sized) sock filled with a few walnuts, an orange, a corn husk doll and a schilling or two. Nowadays, our kids get so darn much for Christmas, I’m actually bitter about stuffing their stockings. Not to mention, I can ill-afford this task, as the stocking stuffers usually cost more than the Christmas gifts…

So this year, I’m thinking that, since I probably can’t shirk my parental obligation to fill these obnoxious, oversized socks, (fit for a Clydesdale) the least I can do is make MY life a little easier with a strategic selection of fillers. This year, I’m going with the following theme for my stocking stuffers:

“CRAP Y’ALL BORROW OR STEAL FROM ME AND DAD THROUGHOUT THE YEAR”

PHONE CHARGERS: I know in advance, that I’m going to crawl exhausted into bed many a night in 2015, reach behind my nightstand for the end of the cord to my phone charger and find nothing. I’ll follow this trail of nothingness all the way to the wall socket, where I will be rewarded by more of Nothing. I know you will all deny having seen it and look at me dumbfounded and bewildered when I suggest that you may possess any knowledge of my charger’s whereabouts.

CAR CHARGERS: I can already picture the hectic day when my phone loses juice on my way to a basketball or football game in Bugtussle, Oklahoma, completely at the mercy of my GPS, fumbling through the console for my phone charger. Who am i kidding? It won’t be there.

EAR BUDS: Some days I never even make it to the gym to work out, because I burn the requisite number of calories, not to mention all my allotted time, taking the house apart and searching all the cars for just one pair of ear buds.

BATHROOM ESSENTIALS: These items disappear from my bathroom at an alarming rate. Are you taking hairbrushes and combs to your friends’ houses and leaving them there? If that’s the case, why am I not finding your friends’ hairbrushes and combs lying around here that they left? Due to the genetically ambiguous nature of my hair, I actually only need my comb/brush once a week or so, but there’s never one in my bathroom when I do. Ditto razors, soap and shampoo. Do y’all seriously wait until we fall asleep at night and creep into our bathroom to kidnap our toiletries? Any excuse not to shave my legs is great, but Dad really needs to shave, so….

COFFEE PODS: One of the best things Daddy and I ever did for ourselves was switch to the woefully expensive Keurig system of coffee brewing. One cup at a time! Fast and Fresh! I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s literally changed our lives for the better… Except for the mornings when we stumble bleary-eyed into the kitchen to discover that you and your friends burned through $20 worth of coffee pods, the previous night, during an all night study session. It’s rather pathetic that I have to hide Back-Up Emergency Pods in various places around the house to ensure that we can always get a cup of coffee to start our busy day of servicing your needs.   And, I probably shouldn’t say this, but it’d probably be cheaper if we had a “pot habit”, instead of a “pod habit”….

FOOD AND GAS GIFT CARDS: It’ll cost me a ton, but I’ll probably throw in a few gas cards and fast food gift cards. I reckon it’s “pay me now or pay me later”. I understand that it’s ridiculous for me to expect you to eat dinner at home or, God-forbid, on the costly meal plan the university requires us to pay for. I am resigned to the fact that your generation socializes at Panera, Whataburger and Starbucks. So, I guess the exciting challenge will be for me to predict which dining establishments will find favor in 2015 with “Generation I’m-not-eating-that”.

I’m super motivated to head over to Target now. I really like my plan and think this is Pro-active Parenting at it’s very finest! I just have this nagging suspicion that even after Santa Claus gives you a $30 Starbucks card, it’ll barely be February before I’m fishing around in the hole I slit in the bottom of my mattress trying to find a coffee pod for Daddy, so he can go to work to try to earn enough money for your sock to runneth over next year…