The single most IMPORTANT piece of advice you will EVER read!

alert

ALERT!!! ALERT!!!

THIS IS A PUBLIC SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENT!

Organization? Not my thing. Meal planning? Ugh, no thanks. I’m like a child when it comes to food, and my tastes change daily- so while it might sound like an awesome idea to plan out a week of meals ahead of time, I would probably take a look at the list and hate absolutely everything on it. I’m NOT picky, I promise! I’m just… fickle. Isn’t everyone when it comes to food? The stomach wants what the stomach wants!

This organization aversion has lead to the same conversation every single day. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It’s driving me insane. Well… more insane than I already am, which I wasn’t really sure was possible, but apparently, it is!

In the past, I’ve tossed around advice for married couples ranging from writing honest e-mails to one another, to embroidering your spouse’s name on a pillow and threatening to suffocate them with it (what? it works!!) There is so much advice floating around these days that I make sure to be careful when to dish it; I have to be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN the advice is solid, because the last thing the world needs is more bullshit clogging up the air.

I am about to give you what is the single most IMPORTANT marriage advice you will ever read. Even bigger than “If you love her, let her bitch”. I’m dead serious. This is for BOTH genders, not just the men of the world wondering why their women seem so angry all the time. This single tip is the KEY to a successful marriage, and a longer life… because if you don’t follow it, you’re bound to ACTUALLY get smothered with that embroidered pillow, and not just threatened with it. Hell, this might just be the single most important piece of LIFE advice. Kids, I’m looking at you, too. I’m even looking at ME. You know it’s bad when you annoy YOURSELF, and I annoy the shit out of myself with this.

Are you ready??? Here it is!

When your spouse asks you what you want for dinner, NEVER respond with “I don’t know” or “I don’t care.” DON’T FUCKING DO IT! DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!

There are no recipes for either of those things. Trust me, I’ve looked. If I get to the point where I’m asking someone else what they want, it means I have already gone through all of the possible options in my head, cursed at the cabinets and the fridge, even lowered my standards and STILL cannot come up with anything appetizing and NEED your input. “I don’t know” is the single least helpful thing you can say in that situation. You could say “monkey balls” and it would be more helpful than “I dunno.” At least it would inject some comedy back into an already infuriating situation.

The “I don’t know” “Well I don’t know either!” argument conversation never ends well. Once you go from hungry to HANGRY,  you’re so frustrated that nothing even sounds appetizing anymore, which makes you even MORE hangry and all you want to do is Hulk smash the fuck out of someone. That someone being the “I don’t know”er.

When in doubt, just answer with PIZZA. You can’t go wrong with pizza.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Why I’m a hard-ass parent… and proud!

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No, I’m not trying to toughen my kids up because it’s a cruel, cruel world and I want them to be prepared for it. I don’t think the world is all that bad, to be honest. Why would I want to send my kids into it as cynical pessimists?

When my family is out in public, strangers who overhear exchanges or conversations between us give us an array of different looks.

On a recent trip to the grocery store, the kids were pulling their typical a-hole act. I don’t know what it is about the grocery store, but it’s like it flips a switch inside all kids that makes them act a complete fool. They all go completely fucking nuts. NUTS. And in turn, we parents usually go nuts. Usually only on the inside, but sometimes it overflows and you crouch down and hiss at them that if they don’t cut it out, you’re going to melt their legos into one big multicolored lump and throw it off the nearest cliff. Doesn’t matter if there’s no cliff within 1,000 miles. You WILL find it, and you WILL throw it.

ANYWAY- so Parker was basically on the verge of losing his shit. I’m pretty sure me and Thomas were feeling the exact same. Whenever we do something Parker deems un-fun (which changes hourly), he whines about wanting to do something fun the. entire. time.

Parker: *in his most obnoxious drawn-out whine voice* I wanna do something fuuuuuuun!
Thomas: You wanna know what sounds fun to me?
Parker: What?
Thomas: The sound of you NOT whining
Store Worker: *laughs loudly* Dad: 1, Kid: 0!
Parker: UAAAUUUGGGGHHHHHRRRRRR!

Not all the reactions from strangers are quite as humored. We get stares, some with shocked expressions. We get THE LOOK, you know the one- “those babies are precious and you are so mean to them! You’re breaking their spirit!” kind of looks. Oh yes, we LOVE those. No one ENJOYS getting looks like that, but they don’t really bother me. Why? Because I truly believe in my heart and my gut that I am doing the right thing by my children by giving them a hard time. The heart might at times be an idiot, but the gut knows what it’s talking about. Or grumbling about… whatever! Either way!

Yes, I’m a hard ass. I call my kids on their shit when they’re being shitty and it doesn’t matter WHERE we are or who is around; they don’t get a pass just because we’re in public. I poke fun at them. I follow through with consequences. I’m not afraid to be mean when I have to be.

I call them on their bullshit because it’s my responsibility to teach them right from wrong. If I don’t do it, they will go off into the world feeling like they can do whatever the hell they want with no consequence.

I poke fun at them because I think it’s equally as important not to take shit so damn seriously all the time. No one can laugh AT you if you’re already laughing.

I follow through with consequences because if I don’t, how will they ever learn boundaries? Why would they ever respect laws? Or people?

I’m not afraid to be mean because, well.. kids suck sometimes. Sometimes being mean is the only thing you can be. Sometimes being “Mean Mommy” is the only thing that gets through their thick-ass skulls.

You know what? I truly believe that they are better people for it. They don’t always like my hard-assed-ness; I don’t even always like it, but they’ll thank me when they crap their pants in public and they’re laughing harder about it than anyone else instead of running off in shame leaving a trail of turds behind them.

 

 

Nobody puts baby (and baby’s family) in a corner!

homeAlmost 7 years into this whole ‘parenthood’ thing, and I’m sad to say, the trash still goes out more than I do. I think after a year of not seeing any other human beings except for the one you pushed out of your vagina, you become a homebody. My idea of a fun Friday night is planting my ass on the couch, watching Netflix or whatever I have left on my DVR, and indulging in a few alcoholic beverages. I’m boring! I CAN’T HELP IT! IT JUST HAPPENED!

Really, it’s okay. I’m not bitter about it. It means anything stupid I do is done at home and the only person who can make fun of me is my husband, and he fears for his life, so that isn’t going to happen.

I’ve made friends with people who have kids over these 7 years, but they’re homebodies, too. The thought of getting everything ready to go out when kids are involved is generally too exhausting in and of itself. Maybe next time, we say. How about next week? Next week turns into next month turns into next year and before you know it, you’re me, and your couch has the perfect butt-hole for you to never want to leave it.

The one exception is when someone comes into town that you haven’t seen in a long time, and may not have a chance to see again for even longer.
That is what happened last night.

Them, us, their two kids, our two kids. It’s a family night out!
We picked a new (to us) restaurant that was definitely on the pricier side, but kids 6 and under ate free. If kids 6 and under are free, they must be family friendly! They wouldn’t mention it if they weren’t, right?

We walked in and immediately you could tell the place was upper-crusty, but it was loud. Lots of talking, laughing… I’d dare even call it jovial. Perfect setting for loud kids who might get antsy trying to sit down at a restaurant without booths (meaning we couldn’t trap them in their seats). There were a TON of open tables and we had a reservation, so I expected that we’d get seated almost immediately. Maybe we could even sit by a window so the kids could watch the rain and the cars go by. Distraction is a close friend of mine.

I’ve been given dirty looks in restaurants when my kids act up. I’ve been stared at, whispered about, and who knows how many people mumbled that they wish we would leave. Shit happens. Kids act assholish at times. NEVER before, have I been walked through a half empty dining room and put into a completely separate dining room. Alone.

I’m never one to make a scene, so I just enjoyed the dinner with friends and our WELL-BEHAVED children, but deep down, I was annoyed. We parents spend most of our waking hours tending to someone else and all of their (endless) needs, and the one time we want to go out to be around humans that didn’t go barreling down our birth canals, people whose asses we’ve never wiped, and we get shoved into the back away from everyone, because GOD FORBID we bring children into an establishment that welcomes children.

Not only did our social time suffer, but so did our service. Without going into too many details, I can tell you that we absolutely got the shaft, and not just based upon where we were sitting.

This isn’t the first blog I’ve written about the dirty looks parents get in restaurants if their babychild makes any noise above a whisper, and I’m not going to go on some rant about how parents and kids get treated unfairly these days, because it would fall on deaf ears. All I’m saying is before you stick baby in the corner, along with baby’s family, remember that you were once baby, too- and Patrick Swayze didn’t pop out of the kitchen to stand up for you, and no one will for us either. No one should have to. Don’t put ANYONE in the corner.

 

*writer’s note: I have worked as a waitress many times in the past, and I can assure you this was not a part of regular rotation, etc. I did not mention the restaurant because I don’t believe in blasting an entire company for a few peoples’ actions.

The New Kid

The following story is true only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Even at forty one years old, I still cringe a little each time I walk into a school building for the first time. You see, we moved around quite a bit when I was younger. I wasn’t any Army brat or anything like that. My folks were a bit like “The City Mouse and The Country Mouse” my Dad is from Massachusetts, a Viet Nam vet. and a biker; my Mom is from Vermont, a farm girl who had married and divorced her high school sweetheart, and lived with her parents. I think that they both struggled to find a place they could be happynewkid raising their family. As a result of that struggle, I found myself as “the new kid” more often than I really cared to. 


At Rundlett Junior High I was sure things were going to be different. This time I was going to have lots of friends, and there wasn’t going to be a bully to push me down the stairs after third period, like that horrible Bertram Hickman did every day. Did you know that if you close your eyes and take a deep breath, one school smells and sounds just the same as the last? It’s true. The shuffle of books and papers being transferred from backpack to locker, the distinct clang of locker doors being slammed shut, and the “snick” of combination locks being locked, mingle with the sounds hundreds of sneakers squeaking across polished linoleum as kids scramble in, trying to make it on time for first period. You can even catch snippets of the same conversations. “Did you finish that homework?” “Can you believe she wore that dress?” ” I know: he is sooo cute!” The cacophony is steeped in the aroma of locker-room and whatever it is they poured out of a can and are planning on calling lunch in the cafeteria. This time I thought maybe, just maybe, when I open my eyes, Derek Steele will be standing there asking me if I’m coming over after school. Derek was my best friend at Hood Memorial Junior High. He was one of the few people who didn’t ignore me completely or actively humiliate me.


But this wasn’t Hood Memorial and that blond haired freight train barreling down the hall towards me wasn’t Derek. His name I would learn later; what he had in mind I already knew. I had learned two schools ago that it didn’t matter how you carried your books because one of two things was going to happen. You were going to be called a fag, fairy, sissy, or something very much like that, for clasping your books to your chest like the girls did, or you were going to get your books swatted out of your hands by some brute trying to impress the baseball team. It turns out this brute’s name was Curt Campbell, and he wasn’t trying to impress the baseball team. Curt was just a bully, from a long line of bullies. His older brothers Chris and Corey were legendary. Corey had gotten into an actual fist fight with the assistant principal and had been expelled. Chris still held the school record for consecutive days spent in detention. This meant Curt had some big shoes to fill. I wasn’t Curt’s only target, but at Rundlett Junior High we had classes according to a team assignment, and I was on Curt’s team. This meant that I was at hand for Curt to humiliate for most of the day. Curt didn’t have much imagination and relied on the old standbys of stuffing me into which ever was more convenient: a locker or trashcan, pulling my chair out as I sat down, the book slapping game and his incessant name calling. God forbid you should end up in the bathroom at the same time as he did. I can tell you that having your head stuffed into a toilet is every bit as unpleasant as it sounds.


Curt Campbell wasn’t my first bully. I was kind of a shy, little guy, who didn’t make friends all that easy. Combined, these traits didn’t exactly scream winner and made me a pretty good mark for the Curts of the world. I have already mentioned Bert Hickman, who would wait after math class every day so he could shove me down each of the three flights of stairs to the café for lunch. There was also Scott O’Brien. Scott would wait for me each day after school so he could kick my “geeky little ass”. My new friend Curt, however, was the largest bully I had encountered. I don’t know what Mrs. Campbell was feeding the kids at her house, but Corey had not been expelled for losing a fight to the assistant principal. I expect that if Curt had wanted to try, the results would have been the same. Curt had a nickname for me. He called me “slick”. There was something nearly wicked about the way he said it, hissed it really. He pronounced it with a lowercase s like it was a descriptor not a name and it felt as if he were physically beating me with the word. All together it had the effect of making even me think less of me. This result was, I assumed, just fine by Curt.
It was sixth period on a Friday, which meant I was in Art class. I loved Art class, not because of an interest in Art but because it was the only class I did not have with Curt. Curt had taken Art last quarter and now had to take Home Ec.. He was none too happy about it, but it usually meant that I did not have to see him from after fifth period science until Monday morning. Most Fridays Ms. Hynes, the Art teacher, would let me hang out a few minutes after class while everyone else made the Friday afternoon dash to the door. Then I could just stroll out and off to my Curt free weekend. It had been a tough week. I had been stuffed into two lockers and a trashcan. I had had my lunch stepped on twice, all in addition to the daily verbal abuse that I had just come to expect. We were finishing a still life, the classic bowl of fruit in water-colors and pastels. I was done. It would never hang in the Louvre, but I was pleased, and I was sure Mom was going to love it. While I was at the sink cleaning up my brushes, Scott Hathaway walked up in line behind me. Why did you have to bring your work to the sink, Scott? Why? Scott had never actually been nice to me, but he had never been mean either, which was about as close to a friend as I had. Before I had time to react, the high water pressure at the sink was spraying water from my brushes all over Scott’s painting. He was positively enraged and shoved me into the sink, causing me to jam both of the paint brushes I was holding into my stomach. He screamed at me, “What the hell, slick! Watch what you are doing!” The paint brushes in the gut hurt, but hearing anyone else call me “slick” with the same contempt as Curt Campbell was more than I could take. I barely held back the tears as I asked Ms. Hynes if I could go to the bathroom.


Sitting there on a toilet, in an open stall, sobbing into my hands, I never heard the door open. As I looked up and focused through the tears, I realized my worst fears had come true. Curt Campbell had just found me alone, crying in the bathroom. When I stood up and pushed past him, I was amazed. Was I just walking away from this? Was he really just going to let me go? There really is a God! He’s just going to let me walk out the door! Wrong! I could feel the strength in his grip as he grabbed one of my shoulders and spun me around to face him. The look on his face was terrifying. He pinned me there in his gaze, like some feral beast that had just found its first meal in weeks. “What’s the matter, slick? Are ya crying?” he asked, poking me in the chest to punctuate each word. I ‘m not sure if Curt heard it or not, but I did. Something inside me snapped. That was it. That was all I could take. After so many years and so many bullies, that was absolutely all I could take. I can’t tell you what happened next. All I can tell you is that by the time Mr. Vesirus, our gruff and grumbly science teacher came into the bathroom, Curt was in the corner holding a bloodied nose and I was standing over him panting like the very same beast I had been face to face with just moments ago. Mr. V. was a Judo instructor. The man was one tough cookie, and he tolerated no funny stuff in his classroom. He was a “grab you by the back of the shirt and haul you out of the room kind of guy”, and I knew I was in for it now. You see, no matter what had happened, my folks were not going to be O.K. with my being suspended for fighting. Mr. V. took one look at the situation and told Curt to get to his feet, get himself to the nurse and then to the Principal’s office. As Curt shuffled by us still holding onto his nose, Mr. V. gave me the once over and told me to get myself together and get back to class. With that said, he just followed Curt out the door. I was stunned. I wasn’t going to be suspended? I wasn’t even going to go to the office? I had in all likelihood just broken someone’s nose, and I could just go back to class? Maybe Mr. V. wasn’t so bad after all.

Something changed that day. Curt left me alone for the rest of the year, and Scott Hathaway apologized for yelling at me. He said he was sorry for calling me “slick”. He hadn’t realized it was hurtful. He even admitted that it was his fault for bringing his painting near the sink. Something inside me changed that day, too. I still got more chances to play “the new kid”, and kids still tried to pick on me. But their words carried no weight; they didn’t cause me the same pain. Anyone who shoved me got shoved right back. I wasn’t going to be anybody’s target anymore. It would be years before I would meet another Derek Steele, and making friends still didn’t come easy, but I would never again suffer at the hands of another Curt Campbell.

Today, I am a father two school aged boys and bullying is a regular topic at our house. My personal experience with bullies has, without a doubt, affected my view of it as a parent. My wife and I try very hard to give our boys the tools to deal with witnessing bullying as well as the distinct possibility of being bullied. I think the reality is that there are most likely always going to be bullies and always going be those who present as a desirable target for them, it is up to us parents, teachers, society in general to shed light on it when it happens and to stop it from being acceptable through our indifference. My struggles have made it so that there is a scared little boy inside of me who just screams at the injustice when I see it and I can no longer just pass it by. I want for everyone to have a little of that anger and feel just as keenly as I do the injustice, in the hopes that the bullies are the ones who are afraid and maybe just maybe in someone’s lifetime a Bully will be a thing that used to be.

By: Kyle Burditt

Kyle is a 42 year old devoted husband and father currently residing in small town Vermont. He doesn’t have a lot of spare time to devote to a blog, but look for his work of fiction “The Rift Walker” on a bookshelf near you soon(ish)!

Don’t be a lobster- SunScreen Bands review and giveaway!

 

Even though it’s the middle of July, summer is just getting into full swing here in the south, and the days are only getting longer and HOTTER. Longer and hotter days don’t just mean more time for playing outside and splashing in pools- they mean more chances to get the CRAP burnt out of your skin by the sun. It’s all fun and games until someone gets scorchedburn so badly they can hardly move out of a full bath tub praying for the itching to cease for the next week.

Yes, I’ve been that girl. My skin has two colors and two colors only: Glow in the dark white and lobster lady red. It doesn’t seem to matter HOW strong the SPF, or how popular the brand, whenever I spend a day outside (which is often when it’s warm), I come home red. I KNOW, terrible! Awful for my skin! Awful for ME! Look, I try, people! I don’t know if maybe the time gets away from me and I don’t reapply fast enough, or if it’s just me; if I’m just the burning type. Maybe even a little of both, but I’m not getting any younger, and I’d like to preserve this porcelain skin while I still can so I don’t end up looking like a leather handbag when I’m older.

I haven’t had a lot of time to try products or write reviews lately, but when I got an e-mail about a product called Sunscreen Bands, it was perfect timing and I HAD to try them out!

What the heck IS a sunscreen band? Let me just tell you the facts:

Sunscreen Bands are an innovative new product with a patented color-changing technology that monitors UVA & UVB exposure to remind you not only when to reapply sunscreen, but also when to get the hell out of the sun for the day!

How does it work?

  • Sunscreen is applied TO THE BAND in addition to the skin for accurate monitoring according to your SPF level
  • Band color fades as a reminder to reapply throughout the day
  • If/When Band reaches a creme color, you have reached your maximum recommended exposure for one day & should cover up or get out of the sun
  • There is no time or heat element, solely measures UVA & UVB sun exposure
  • Waterproof (both salt water and chlorine)

DOES it work?
I got a chance to test out a band yesterday while at Busch Gardens. Being outside like that all day in hours of direct sunlight is usually a perfect recipe for sunburned skin for me. Hell, I even get burned if I stay in the shadows like a frickin’ vampire. ‘Tis a curse.

sunbandAfter slapping that puppy on, and listening to the kids complain that they didn’t get one (they didn’t need to since we’d be together all day and all applied at the same time!), I followed the instructions, and went about my way. The band is light weight, and not the annoying kind of wristband that you’re fidgeting with all day long. Once it turned a lighter color, I reapplied sunscreen, and went about my way again. When it was time for us to leave, the band was very light purple, but not so light that it was warning me to get out of the sun if I didn’t want my kids to call me “Mr. Krabs” for the rest of the week. I’m happy to report- NO sunburn! It’s a first! It’s a friggin’ miracle!

Now I want to extend to some of you a chance to try these bands for FREE! That’s right, this is a giveaway! YAY FREE STUFF! Sunscreen Bands is letting me giveaway a 10-pack of Sunscreen Bands to 3 lucky people! Woohoo!

 

To enter- use the widget below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Entry period ends on Friday 7/25 at 8:45pm EST!