Friday, December 21, 2012

Don't Make Me Turn This Car Around!

It's the holiday season and for many of us, it is the time to load up the car and go over the river and through the woods to visit family and friends. Traveling during the holidays is typically not a fun event. Traffic, bad drivers, and poor road conditions due to wintry weather makes even the most holly jolly driver turn into a bird-flipping, bah-humbuggin' Grinch.

Each year, we suffer from either amnesia or a heightened sense of optimism and we forge ahead with our travel plans, even though for many of us, it will not be merry and bright. This is especially true for those of us who travel with kids. If you have never been stuck in a car with kids or have conveniently forgotten how you were as a child, just imagine sitting in a small confined space with monkeys on crack. Even the most well behaved child will act up in the car.

Our daughter, S, suffered from motion sickness when she was younger. Without fail, every time we tried to travel more than a few miles, she would vomit all over herself. It happened so often, we always traveled with an extra change of clothes, old towels, baby wipes, a trash bag, and air freshener. One Christmas Eve, we took a trip to the North Georgia Mountains to visit my parents. We stopped twice to mop up toddler puke, change clothes, and Febreeze the inside of the car. Once we reached my parents' cabin on the top of a mountain, we gave S a bath and washed her clothes. Later that evening, dressed in our Sunday best, we jumped back into the car and headed down the winding and weaving roads to my parent's church for Christmas mass. S couldn't take the switch-backs and tossed her cookies again. This time we did not have a change of clothes. The Hub pulled the present he was going to give to me from the trunk and told me to put on S. It was an alpaca sweater. Our daughter walked into church looking like a little shepherd boy.

A few Christmas Eves later, we added a second little passenger and made our way up the mountain once again. Our other daughter, B, started to scream as soon as we placed her in the car seat. It takes about an hour and a half to drive to my parents' cabin. After an hour and a half of enduring blood-curdling screams and violent retching coming from the backseat of our car, while fighting holiday traffic, The Hub and I walked into my parents' cabin with our teeth clenched and demanded hard liquor. No one was surprised when we said we would not make the trip again until both kids were older.

But, the joy of driving with kids is the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Kids are like wild animals. They long to be free to roam in the open fields, not tightly bound in a rear-facing car seat. Kids are naturally wired to move. They have to kick the back of your seat to release their pent-up energy. Kids, especially my kids, are music critics. They are not shy about their distaste for our "old people" music. (Heaven forbid I change the channel during a One Direction song.) Kids have no concept of time and demand ad nauseam to know if we are "almost there yet." Someone always has to pee when there is not a rest stop for miles. Someone always wants the other passenger to stop looking at them. Kids ruin road trips.

And it's not just on long car rides. It takes us exactly 13 seconds to drive from our house to my in-laws' house. It takes 5 minutes to load the kids into the car to make that 13 second drive. Every single time we get to the car, the kids fight about who gets into the car first. When we bring our dog Bailey with us, we have to lift her 65 lbs. butt into the car because she does not like car rides. This cracks my mother-in-law up to no end. It looks like this:

I don't WANT to ride in the car, mama!

We could walk to their house, but where's the adventure in that? Besides, we live on top of a very steep hill. Getting there is easy. Walking back is not.

I know I deserve all this traveling-with-kids drama. My two sisters and I put my parents through vehicular hell. When I was a little girl, my mom was rushing to get us into the car to get somewhere (I can't recall where, but it was important that we made it there on time.) Like always, my two sisters and I battled over who got to ride "shotgun." I wrestled my way into the front seat and my middle sister and I continued to fight. Completely distracted by our chaos, my mom backed out of the garage, failing to realize that the passenger side door was still ajar. She ripped the car door right off the hinges. We did not make it to our destination that day.

Until I had kids of my own, I never understood why my dad strictly enforced the "no talking while he was driving in traffic" or "while the radio is on" rule. Those rules eventually turned into the "no talking in the car ever" rule. I didn't understand why my parents would grumble, "just wait until you have kids" when we finally made it to our destination and all they wanted was hard liquor to calm their frayed nerves.

Well, once again, payback is theirs and rightly so. Every time I yell, "knock it off, you two," or "just get in the damn car, already," or the ever popular (yet never enforced), "don't make me turn this car around," I find comfort knowing that one day my kids will have to drive their kids around. To my dear parents, I am sorry I drove you nuts while you drove me around. I accept my just desserts. To The Hub's parents, I am sorry for all the mischief he caused on your cross country travels... Like the time he shoved that drinking straw up his little brother's nose, causing him to bleed all over the backseat of the car. Rest assured, we're paying for that, as well.

Karma is a car full of cranky kids and no rest stops for miles.

Honestly, has anyone ever turned this car around?
Photo Credit:

I wish you all safe and peaceful travels. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fear, Guilt, and Carrying On (One Mom's Personal Reaction to the Sandy Hook Massacre)

Sometimes a "No" can become a "yes." It turns out, I have a full time job now. So much can happen in a span of a week. Long story extremely short: The fourth job I interviewed for and turned down, called me back a couple of days later with a new position and a better offer. (I guess they really liked me! Which is good, because I really like them.) I will start January 2, 2013 and work during my daughter S's school hours. B, my youngest daughter, will go to daycare. The best part is that I will still have plenty of hours during the day to help with homework, run errands, and work on my blog and book. It's the perfect situation for me.

Of course, with the excitement of additional income and a new adventure comes nervous feelings. I've been a stay at home mom for over three and a half years. In a little over two weeks, I will have to completely adjust my schedule. Gone are the days of wearing my yoga pants three days in a row. I'll have to get completely dressed before 6:00 AM, get both kids up and dressed, and send them off to their respective schools before I can start my day. I remember what it was like to work full time with just one child. Getting it all done with two is a daunting task. I'm nervous about how B will respond to daycare. She has extreme separation anxiety right now. B has to be by my side at all times. She panics when I close the bathroom door. If I walk out of the room, she follows me. I wake up at 3:00 AM with her laying on top of me every night. I almost pity her daycare teacher. The poor lady will have her hands full. 

Those were the fears whispering in my ear all week. They were little doubts that I could reason through and assure myself that it was all going to be okay. I knew it was little jitters due to change and when I would feel overwhelmed, I would imagine the training montage from Rocky IV and know that I could do it. Then Friday afternoon, I learned of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people lost their lives in a shooting rampage. Twenty of them were very young children. Four of them were the same age as my daughter, S. Suddenly, the nerves I had about the new routine were replaced with a new fear, a completely unexpected terrible fear. That could have been my daughter.

I could feel the blood drain from my face. And then, I cried. I sobbed. I yelled. I sat still and quiet. I could feel a sharp pain in my chest as I read the names of the adults and children lost. I crumbled at the sight of children running for their lives. I cursed the monster who did all this damage. (I refuse to write his name. Evil does not deserve a name.) I asked questions. Why? How could you? I couldn't imagine how terrified those little babies felt. I couldn't imagine how terrified the parents and teachers felt. I praised the adults that did everything they could to protect their children. I cheered on the first responders and all the men and women who jumped into action. I questioned God and my personal faith. (I'm sure I wasn't alone.) I did not know a single person who died on Friday, but as a mother, the instinct to protect our young went into over drive and I felt a sharp pang of sorrow for the parents who had their children ripped from their lives on a random Friday.

I became fearful of other people... The shadows that could very easily take my children from me without warning. I feared for their safety in school. I questioned if sending my youngest to daycare was a good move. Through all of my emotions, I took great strides to hide them from my children and kept them blissfully unaware of the events. Neither one of them had a clue. To them, life was normal, except mommy was hugging and kissing them a lot more than usual. I debated over and over if I should tell S about the shootings. The Hub and I initially agreed that we would not tell her, but after further thought, we decided it was better that she hear it from us, than from a school bus mate. School bus mates never get the story right.

But, above all the sorrow, anger, and fear, I was glad it didn't happen to us. That sparked the guilt.

Here I was, about to post a funny blog that afternoon before I heard the news, complaining about my kids (in jest of course) and there are parents who would do anything to hold their children again. Then, I thought of all the parents who have lost their children in freak accidents or illness. I am so lucky to have my daughters. They are healthy. They are free from injury. The challenges in their daily lives never go beyond the normal challenges kids face. Our biggest issue right now is who started the fight first and finishing the vegetables on their plates. I spent the whole week worrying about how I was going to get my butt out of bed early enough to get the morning routine done. I worried about the inevitable tantrums the first week of work... B's and my own. The parents who lost their children would give anything to face those challenges again because that would mean that their life was how it used to be. We are the lucky ones.

This afternoon, I heard a weird banging noise coming from the hall bathroom. I walked in to find B hanging from the towel bar like a little monkey. One side of the bar is barely attached to the wall. I yelled, "Don't hang from the bar! You'll pull it down!" That was the first time I raised my voice in three days. It was the first time I was fully aware that I was in a haze from all of this. I realized that I let fear and guilt overcome me this weekend and I wasn't fully doing my job. I was dwelling in the negative and half-present in my life. I shouldn't feel guilty because I'm not experiencing ultimate suffering. I should be grateful. I should honor the parents in mourning by doing my job as well as I possibly can. I need to raise loving human beings and send them out into the world, hopefully making it a better world. That is my job. My kids are going to misbehave. I'm going to discipline them. My kids are going to do funny things. I'm going to laugh at them. My kids are going to drive me crazy and I will want a break from them, but I will continue to love them with every fiber of my being. I need to show them how to be brave... which means I must be brave. I need to teach them that even in the face of darkness, the light within us will give us courage and strength. Life will go on even when it feels like it won't. I am going to continue to share my stories about crayon marked walls, scraped knees, grocery store tantrums, parenting fails and all, because that is what I do. I will honor every parent by continuing to tell them that it will be fine, even when it feels like it won't be. They are not alone. It is good to laugh. It is good to live. It is good to keep going. But, maybe we'll try harder. Maybe we'll love more. Maybe we'll help each other out and work as a team. Maybe we'll argue less and try to come up with a real solution. Maybe we'll take more moments to recognize just how good it all is. Maybe we'll appreciate just how fragile it all can be.

Photo Credit:

**Here is an ABC News article listing all the ways you can help the Sandy Hook community. Click this link: How You Can Help Newtown Connecticut Community Affected by Shooting - ABC News

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Answer is No.

When I became a parent seven years ago, I had a pretty good idea of what was expected of me. I had to fulfill certain requirements like clean up messes, cook, and kiss boo-boos. You know... mommy work. What I didn't realize was that I would also face a lot of disappointment. It's not so much my disappointment, but the disappointment of my children. I say the word "no" a lot. It turns out, I am a dream crusher at least ten times a day. It goes something like this:

Kid: Can I have candy for breakfast?
Me: No.
Kid: Awww! 

Kid: Can I run through the lawn sprinklers? 
Me: It's the middle of winter. No.
Kid: Awww!

Kid: Can I have an iPhone?
Me: I don't even have an iPhone. Besides you're 6. No.
Kid: Awww!

Kid: Can I cut my own hair?
Me: Hell, no.
Kid: Awww! (Sneaks off with scissors and does it anyway.)

I also say "no" to jumping off the couch, to getting dessert without finishing dinner first, to driving the car, (my 3 year old thinks if she keeps asking, I'll eventually give in and let her take the family sedan for a spin), to wearing bright red lipstick to school, and to staying up late to watch Family Guy. (But, mom! It's a cartoon!)

Over the last year, I have tried to get a job. I had four great opportunities and none of them worked out. Three of those times, I got a "no." I didn't fit their requirements in one way or another. The fourth time happened today. Unfortunately, they didn't fit my requirements and I said no. It's difficult to hear the word "no" when you really want something. When it comes to employment, it can really be dream crushing. While waiting (sometimes several weeks) for the results of your interview, it is easy to daydream about how things will be once you get that "yes, you're hired" phone call. I had the next two years planned out. My nights were spent dreaming sexy dreams of a time when we could quickly pay off our debt. We could fix up the house. We could go on a real vacation. We could actually save a little for rainy days... or what I like to call, "Dammit! The water heater is leaking!" days. But, then the answer is no and little dream bubbles are popped. You wake up and decide if you're going to let that "no" stop you. When my daughter wanted to cut her own hair, she didn't let my "no" stop her. Of course, she regretted that tenacious move once she found herself in the nearest Great Clips watching what was left of her long blonde hair fall to the floor. Regardless, she didn't let a "no" stop her.

And neither will I.

I'm going to say yes and hire myself. I think I am a good fit. I know I am driven and I have fantastic ideas. I think I can produce some amazing work. I have the potential to do something big. I can make one hell of a pot of coffee. I'm the perfect employee for me. 

I have big plans for 2013. First, I want to really turn "You'll Be Fine. I Promise." into something wonderful. I'm talking new design, new features, and forums. I want to sell YBFIP merchandise. I want to start a charity or a program where we... you, my very fine readers, and I can help out and be love. I want to see just how far I can go with this little blog. That means more posts, more Facebook posts and Twitter tweets... or twits... tweeps? I'm going to network like hell, people. It scares me, but I'm going to put myself out there.

Second, I have set a real goal to finish my children's book. I started it earlier this year, but like my P90X DVDs, the manuscript remains untouched, ignored, and provides a great deal of self-imposed guilt. This year, I will finish it. You read it here, folks. Now, I have to do it. Shit. Now I HAVE to do it.

I've already shared my goals with a few of my pals. I get the same response, "Yes. Do it. It's about damn time, Terese." They also ask me how they can help. I give them the same answer:

Read my blog and share it with everyone you know.

That's it. If you enjoy my stories, please share them with others. It sounds so simple, but it is a huge deal for me. I am grateful for every page view, every comment, every share. I'm even grateful for the dirty birdie who googled "30 year old tits" and clicked on my post, "Birthday Wishes of a 30-Something Year Old," not once, but twice in the same day. I'm a little creeped out, but grateful for the traffic.

So, stay tuned. I hope you are as jazzed about this as I am. Also, if you have any suggestions or ideas of things you would like to see here, let me know. I want this blog to be a kind of community. Granted, I'll be the one doing most of the talking, but I want you to join in, too. 

I have a dream and a goldfish in a Ziploc baggie...
Who's coming with me?!
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures

Friday, November 30, 2012

Yuck! Don't Touch That! Part II

It's that time of year again! The air is cold. Frost covers the ground. Time to dig out the winter jackets, hats, and mittens from the back of the closet. People huddle close to keep warm while walking in a winter wonderland. That's right, folks! It's cold and flu season! I've shared before that I am not a "sanitizer mom." Rather, I am a hand-washing enthusiast. (Re: Yuck! Don't Touch That!) However, during the winter months, I kick up my hand-washing reminders for the kids. I refill the soap dispensers near every sink with moisture rich soaps to keep our hands from drying out. I'll even break out the Lysol to wipe down door handles and light switches. I read somewhere that the cold does not bring illness. Instead, the cold forces people into close quarters where the warm air is re-circulated and germs have a captive audience.

So far, my family has not suffered from the flu or a bad cold. Knock on wood. Unfortunately, the "ick" is all around us... The Hub's co-workers come to work with the stomach flu, other parents send their boogery kids to school, or we simply stand in the check out line at the grocery store with someone who is dangerously close to coughing up a lung. People don't stop when they are ill anymore. It's not like the good ol' days of The Brady Bunch, when Jan sneezed twice and Carol Brady called the doctor. No, life is too busy for a cold. We push on and infect anyone who gets in our way. 

"Mike, Cindy has the sniffles.
I think it's time to quarantine the children and burn down the house.
It's a cesspool of disease in here."

The Disney channel runs a PSA to remind kids to wash their hands and to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth during cold/flu season. I believe that it is a pretty simple and effective way to avoid the common cold. My kids, however, struggle to grasp the concept. For the last few weeks, my daughter, S, was on a mission to pull a loose baby tooth. It was her 5th one and she wanted to get her dollar from the Tooth Fairy. I would constantly catch her with her fingers in her mouth, wiggling that little tooth. She would get off the school bus, wiggling her tooth. She would walk through the grocery store and help me place items in the cart, wiggling her tooth. She would play outside or with other kids and wiggle her tooth. No matter how many times I told her to stop, question the cleanliness of her fingers, or remind her of the millions of germs dancing on her hands, she wiggled that tooth. I am so glad it finally came out last night. 

My daughter, B, always has something in her mouth. When she was a baby, just learning to crawl, B would roll over on her tummy and pick at the living room carpet, looking for loose carpet fibers. As soon as she found one, she would put it in her mouth. Earlier this year, I spent a whole day in a panic, trying to figure out if she swallowed a penny. She recently gave up her binkie. The Hub and I were tired of searching for misplaced pacifiers and when she lost her last one, we told her she was out of luck. After a week, she stopped asking about it. But, now she likes to chew on pencils and pencil erasers. Hands touch pencils... um, yuck. If I got a nickel for every time I told her to stop putting stuff in her mouth, I could pay someone else to tell her for me.

Lately, we've had the heat on in the house. I've noticed my contacts have been dry and irritating my eyes. I have a pair of eyeglasses. I don't like to wear them. They're wire frames circa 1994. The lenses are too thick for the frames which makes it look like I'm wearing coke bottle glasses. They also don't fit my face correctly. The nose piece highlights the bump on my nose from when I broke it during a softball game over 20 years ago. I don't get dolled up to go to the store, but I refuse to wear my glasses out in public. I should get new glasses. I wish I still had my pink plastic frames from the 80's...  I hear they're back in style.

I had glasses like these, except they were pink.
Back then, I looked like a dork. Now, they would call me a hipster. 

Getting back to the contacts...

While at the grocery store yesterday, my eyes were really itchy and dry. So what do I do? I reached up and rubbed my eyes. I stopped mid-rub. Holy hell, my hands are dirty from touching the shopping cart handle! Visions of Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa danced in my head. I swore I could feel my eye getting pinker by the minute. As soon as I got home, I took out my contacts, flushed my eye with saline solution, and wore my ugly glasses the rest of the night. Right before I went to bed, my eye was sore and kind of goopy. I think I might be okay now, since I woke up without a crusty seal of mucus around my eye and the white of my eye is still... well... white. 

Why am I so worried about pink eye, you ask? I used to work with a real jackass. One day, he overheard an emergency phone conversation I was having with S's daycare teacher. S woke up from her nap and her eye was very pink and I needed to remove her from the daycare immediately. My co-worker said in a very loud voice so the rest of the office could hear, "Pink eye comes from touching your own poop and then rubbing your eyes! Your kid messes with her own poop like a monkey! That's disgusting." See? Told you he was a real jackass. Now, I know that was not the case and my daughter is not a poop-throwing monkey. But, I was mortified that someone would say that (even in jest) about my kid. Now, every time I hear that someone has pink eye, I think of poop-throwing monkeys. Which makes me wonder how many other people think the same thing? 

I call my kids "monkeys" ONLY because they like to climb on things...

Moral of the story? Don't be a poop-throwing monkey! Wash your hands and don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy winter season! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

I was the first one to wake up on this cold Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day. I am thankful for a quiet morning. I set up the coffee maker and fed Bailey. I am thankful that this dog is healthy and does not like to eat socks. I let Bailey outside and noticed all the cars parked in my neighbors' driveways. I am thankful that I don't have to cook today and that I love my in-laws who invited us to their Thanksgiving dinner. I stepped on a toy in the living room. I am thankful that no one is visiting our house so it doesn't matter what it looks like today. I am also thankful that I stepped on a soft toy and not a Leggo.

My daughters wake up. Within minutes, they are arguing over cartoons and who gets the warm blanket this time. I am thankful that my kids don't know many struggles beyond sibling disagreements. I am thankful that they are allowed to be children. There are too many children who have to deal with scary, painful, heavy, lonely situations that force them to grow up fast and become hard.

My kids: What do we do on Thanksgiving?
Me: Well, we make a big feast and spend time together as a family and be thankful for everythi...
My Kids: So we just eat all day?!

I am thankful that we will just eat all day. 

Me: Why don't you make a list of all the things for which you are thankful...

S (age: almost 7) is thankful for:

B, my sister
Santa Claus
The ocean
The Earth
My grandparents
My aunts and uncles
My cousins
Mrs. Stuffy (her stuffed bear)

B (age: 3 1/2) is thankful for:

Green lollipops
Playing Mario Bros. on the old Nintendo with S
My sister
My blue blankie that S can't have
Water to drink
Playing pre-school games on the computer
That I get to go to school soon
Balloons... Can I have a balloon, mama? I really want a balloon!

I am thankful for my funny kids. I have no idea why S is thankful for a ukulele...

The Hub is thankful for:

Healthy family
A wonderful (super hot) wife(!)
My freakin' job
Local breweries
My garden
Thai food
That UGA is ranked #3 at the moment and has a chance to play in the BCS championship game for the first time since 1980. GO DAWGS!

I am also thankful for:

The Hub (my super hot best friend)
The kids
My parents
My extended family and friends
My ability to laugh and make others laugh
Strong coffee
Under eye concealer
Yoga pants
For always having a story to tell
New adventures

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I am thankful that you read my blog!

Do not copy or use without written permission.
I am thankful for my little sisters!
... and my keen fashion sense.
Photo credit: Edward Pauksta 11/1984

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lies I Tell My Kids

This past Sunday, The Hub was off working a side job with his dad. The girls and I were bumming around the house. I usually don't do any housework on the weekends, but since The Hub wasn't home, it really didn't feel like much of a weekend. In fact, it felt more like a Monday, but with an extra kid to entertain. I decided to get a jump on the next week's chores and vacuum the carpet. My kids like to pretend that the vacuum cleaner is a scary monster out to get them. Most days, I play along and chase after them yelling, "Get on the couch before you get sucked up!" This time, I wasn't in the mood to run around. My eldest daughter, S, wasn't either. She was reading a book and was pretty annoyed by the noise. However, my youngest daughter, B, is always ready to run around and scream, so when I plugged in the vacuum, she was already standing on the couch and preparing to battle the vacuum monster.

As I made my way around the room, B was running back and forth between the living room couch and the foyer. It's too complicated to set up exactly how "what happened next" happened without pictures and video replay, so I'll just give you the Reader's Digest version. Basically, B tripped and landed face first into the foyer tile floor. The impact was so great that her head actually bounced back and slammed into the floor a second time. I've heard that people will swear that time slows down when they witness something horrific. I tell you now, it actually happens. It was the longest half second of my life and I couldn't do anything except stand there and watch. 

B jumped up, cupped her mouth with her little hand and screamed. I ran over, picked her up, and pulled her hand away from her face. Blood. Blood everywhere. 

Like this, only with a little more blood.

I am a firm believer that things that reside on the inside of the body should stay inside the body. Blood needs to stay inside the body. When I saw it gushing from my daughter's face, I felt a little faint. Okay. A lot faint. I fell back onto the couch with B still in my arms. S, was already buzzing around asking a ton of questions about what just happened. Fighting the urge to completely black out, I quietly asked S to grab a wash cloth and run it under some cold water. B is wailing now because she sees her own blood pooling in her hand. S returned with a wet wash cloth in record time. She was so fast that I actually took a second to praise her for following directions and moving with such speed. Right before I started wiping the blood off my little girl's face, I took a deep breath and said with a smile, "It's okay, baby. I promise. Everything is okay." I just lied to my daughter. I had no idea how bad her injuries were and I doubted my ability to maintain my composure if her injuries were really gruesome.

Once I determined the blood was not coming from her nose, I moved to her lips. They were extremely swollen but they were not cut. Oh shit. It's her mouth. Keep in mind, B is still screaming at the top of her lungs. I gently pull back her top lip. I don't see her top two teeth. I see a lot of blood, but no teeth. Oh. My. God! Wait! Wait! Nope, they're still there. They were just covered with blood. Turns out that B bit the inside of her upper lip with her two top teeth. It was a pretty gnarly gash, but not bad enough for stitches. Her teeth were a little wiggly, but not enough to warrant a trip to the dentist. Her top lip swelled to Angelina Jolie proportions. It took about an hour and two icy pops to stop the bleeding and the crying, but B was fine. I didn't have to make an emergency room visit, no stitches needed, and no teeth in a cup of milk. It really was okay, just as I promised. My lie ceased to be a lie and I was relieved.

After I came down from my adrenaline rush, I thought about how I told my bloody kid that everything was okay. I didn't know that it was. For all I knew, it wasn't okay and I was terrified that she did some major damage to her grill. I lied to keep her calm. I needed her to stay still and let me poke around a very sensitive wound. Freaking her out with the truth would have made the situation that much worse. They say, "A lie is a lie." Fine. I lied to my kid. Even when I tell them not to tell lies, I told a lie. In fact, I tell them lies all the time. Truthfully? I don't feel bad about it one bit. I can justify each lie...

Lies I tell my kids to keep them safe and healthy:

  • "Broccoli makes your hair grow super long and super fast!" Actually, any food they don't want to eat at the time can work here. You would be amazed how many foods have super hair growth properties. I even go as far as to "measure" their hair before and after dinner, just to prove my point.
  • "The Tooth Fairy does not pay full price for rotten teeth!" If the Tooth Fairy has to shell out money to get those baby teeth filled, she does not shell out quarters for those teeth when they fall out. I'm not above scaring my kids into brushing their teeth.
  • "The ice cream truck driver is actually a monster in disguise trying to catch kids and eat them." I save money and the kids don't beg for ice cream treats when that creepy old van covered in faded Good Humor stickers drives down our street. 

Lies I tell my kids to keep the peace:

  • "Yes, I'd love to read Elmo Saves Christmas to you again!" ... for the twentieth time... in July.
  • "Marathon of Dora the Explorer? Count me in!" I didn't want to watch The View anyway.
  • "No, monsters don't live in your closet. Go to sleep!" Of course, this is a big ol' fat lie. Monsters do live in closets and under the bed and in the basement and the attic and the toilet... See: My Dark Secret
  • "No. Sorry! I don't have any gum." Yes, I do. But, it's my last piece and your sister will want one, too. I also don't want to cut gum out of your hair later.
  • "I just got a text from Santa Claus. It says, 'I am watching you fight with your sister. I am not pleased.'" This lie takes a bit of planning, but as long as both kids still believe in Santa, I'm using it. I replace The Hub's caller ID picture on my phone with a picture of Santa. All I have to do is let The Hub know that the kids are misbehaving and he sends a text to my phone. 100% satisfaction guaranteed! 

Santa just sent me ANOTHER text...
He says he saw you pick your nose and he wants you to stop.
It's gross.

Lies I tell my kids to encourage them:

  • "You did a beautiful job on my nails!"
I have my own personal manicurist. Jealous?
  • "I can't believe you beat me in Candyland again!" I only let them win until they start the first grade. After that, it's official rules only. I don't want them to believe (1) They will win every game and (2) that I really suck that much at Candyland. 
  • "Oh honey, this picture looks just like me! It's beautiful!"
S drew this portrait of me for "Muffins With Mom" day in Pre-K. (Spring/2011)
There are so many bits of awesome in this picture.

I know there are people out there who will argue that I am teaching my kids that it's okay to lie. Sure. Okay. I can accept that. I believe that white lies are part of living in polite society. For example: Let's say your favorite aunt gave you an ugly sweater for your birthday. Like most folks, you will say thank you and that it's a lovely sweater. But, you're either going to return the sweater, re-gift it, or only wear it when your dear ol' aunt comes around. You just lied. If you were honest and told your aunt that you have no intention of ever wearing that hideous piece of wool crap and that you worry about her fashion sense, you would most likely hurt her feelings. You would also look like a real jackass. I don't think every scribble put on paper is a masterpiece, but when my 3 year old daughter, B, shows me her latest attempt to draw a flower, (or is that a horse... oh, wait. I see it now... it's an airplane) I tell her I love her work and I'm proud of her for trying so hard. Then I tell her to keep practicing. I know that if I told B that she lacks artistic abilities (like her mother), she would stop trying. I would rather have a fridge full of flower-horse-airplanes then no art at all. 

I know that little lies may cause some serious damage. I know because my mother told me a terrible lie when I was a child that caused irrevocable trauma to my psyche.  One night, I was pushing my food around on the plate and sulking because, yet again, my mom was forcing me to choke down a giant mountain of peas. I really hated peas. When she realized that all her threats of going to bed hungry or not getting a dessert did not shake my will, she resorted to guilt (like any good Irish Catholic mother would do). 

"Terese, just take one little bite. Just one and then you can leave the table." 
Fine. Just one bite. That's it.
"Good girl. But, wait! You just ate the little kid pea. What about her mom and dad? They're still on the plate! You just made the little kid pea an orphan! You can't separate the family, Terese! Can you hear the mommy and daddy pea? They're saying, 'Oh no! Our daughter is gone! We're so sad!'"
Oh no! Okay, I'll eat the mommy and daddy pea, too.
"But, what about the grandparents?"

To this day, I have to eat every pea on my plate or I will feel extreme guilt for breaking up the family.

Well played, mom. Well played.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I wish I didn't have to share this story with you. As much as it hurts to talk about it, I need to tell you what happened a week ago. We lost a member of our family last week. It was very sudden and it took a while to get over the shock. Although, it took me a week to write this post and I feel that it has helped me get through this very sad moment. Here is the story of Malcolm Reynolds, our beloved doberman pinscher.

It was a sunny morning on January 12, 2012. The Hub called me and said, "I just got a call from my buddy at Gwinnett Animal Control. A black and tan male doberman pinscher just came in. He was an 'owner drop off.' They think he's about 2 years old. You need to get over there and look at him. I want him." At the time, our rescue pit bull, Bailey Grace, was 7 months old. She was full of puppy energy and in a major chewing phase. Couple that with the energy of our (then) 2 year old daughter, B, and you've got a lot of running around and broken things in the house. It took a second for me to comprehend what he was telling me to do. Did he just tell me to pick up another dog?! The Hub never calls me with urgent requests. The Hub likes to mull things over. I'm the urgent one. But, The Hub has always wanted a doberman for as long as I could remember. When we started dating, 14 years ago, he was a vet tech at our local animal clinic. He loved working with the dobermans. He took pictures of each one when they would come in for a check-up. He knew each one by name. We have doberman mugs, stuffed animal toys, knickknacks all over the house. The Hub wanted a doberman and there was one waiting for him at the pound. I told him I would check the pup out and let him know what I thought. How's that for role reversal? 

Three hours later, I drove Malcolm Reynolds home. He calmly sat in the front seat of our little Saturn Coupe and would casually glance out the passenger side window. His head brushed the roof of the car and he looked like a giant next to me. I was a little nervous. He appeared to be very gentle and calm, but in the back of my mind, I half expected him to lean down and tear off my face. I didn't know this dog. I was used to silly little dogs that try to knock you down and assault you with their tongues. Malcolm did not do that. He didn't even pant or wag his little stub for a tail. He didn't sniff or question what was happening or where he was going. He just sat there in the seat while B shouted from her car seat, "He's so big, mama! His ears are pointy, mama!" I just remember looking into his little brown eyes and saying, "You're coming home with us, buddy. I hope that's okay." He squinted and his long pointy ears went back a little. Perhaps that meant, "Okay."

Do not use/copy/reproduce without my written consent. - TL 10/30/12
Malcolm Reynolds on Adoption Day 01/12/2012

Bailey Grace and Malcolm Reynolds were instant friends. They sniffed each other and ran around the back yard. Bailey would walk under Malcolm, making him look even taller than before. How is this big dog going to fit in this small house? He's huge! How much will this guy eat? Oh man, that's going to be a lot of dog bombs in the yard. I don't know how this is going to work. My God, he is handsome. I've never seen such a shiny coat. And Bailey seems to like him. He really is a nice dog. He must have had a lot of training in his last home. Okay. We can make this work. 

They're plotting to take over the world.
Or how to get into the dog food bag.
Either way, they're up to something.

The first few weeks, Malcolm was the golden child. He could do no wrong. We believed his previous owner sent him to obedience school because he followed basic commands. We also believed the original owner spent a lot of money on him. Malcolm's ears were perfectly cropped. He got along with Bailey and they seemed to really balance each other out. Bailey got Malcolm to play and Malcolm mellowed Bailey out. He was so sweet to his "little fur sister." He was sweet to his human family, too. He was the sweetest massive beast to walk this earth, if you ask me. It seemed like the perfect situation. Then strange little habits began to show up. Malcolm was obsessed with The Hub. As soon as he walked through the door, Malcolm would turn circles and pace the house. When The Hub left for work, Malcolm would sulk and lay on the couch for a while.

Daddy is at work. I has a sad.

Whenever The Hub worked on his laptop on the couch, Malcolm would lay down near by. As soon as The Hub would pick up his laptop and put it aside so he could get up, Malcolm would jump up in a panic and run to the back door for a potty break. He would do this every single time. We decided that his first owner worked a lot and Malcolm would only get potty breaks when his first owner took a break from work.

Malcolm would also inhale his food. I've never seen anything like it. I've heard that dogs will continue to eat even after they are physically full. Malcolm was a bottomless pit and he would eat so fast that he would gag every now and then. He was able to eat a super nyla bone in less than three minutes. Those things are supposed to last weeks, even months. Because he would eat so fast, he had the worst gas. Malcolm would rip farts every time he stood up. He would fart in his sleep. He would fart while walking down the hall. There was a constant malodorous cloud hovering around him. A true super fan of potty humor, The Hub would push Malcolm's belly, laugh at the sounds trumpeting from the dog's butt and say, "My dog rules!"

Walter the Farting Dog had nothing on Malcolm.
Read this book!

Malcolm would eat things he wasn't supposed to as well. I could write a book just about the things this pup consumed. You can read about Malcolm's sophisticated palate here: I Can't Have Nice Things and I Can't Have Nice Things, Part II. We always feared one day something would get stuck in his digestive tract. Surgery to remove items from a dog's belly is not only expensive, it's pretty intensive. The Hub told me horror stories about all the items retrieved from pooches and the procedure to repair the damaged intestines. I'll spare you the details... just know it's pretty awful. To combat his bad eating habits, I was a cleaning freak. Ne'er a day pass that I didn't collect a sock or a toy left on the floor. Before we would leave the house, I would inspect all the rooms to make sure nothing was within Malcolm's reach. For a large dog with long legs, that included items left on kitchen counter tops and tables. But, Malcolm was a clever dog and much to my chagrin, he would find something extra to eat almost every week. It was his mission. He was an addict and he was playing Russian Roulette with every pair of dirty underwear or stuffed animal he swallowed. I couldn't keep up.

A funny thing happened. Even though Malcolm was driving me insane with his weird and dangerous habits, I fell in love. I came to adore looking into his chocolate brown eyes. I beamed with pride whenever someone would gush over our handsome boy. At night, Malcolm would curl up on the couch next to me. I would prop my feet on him while I watched TV and I could feel his body relax under my legs. I loved his low grunts when he slept. I loved it when he smiled. He would smile when we caught him doing something wrong, but he would show a bigger smile when we praised him for good behavior. Malcolm followed me everywhere. He was my shadow. He was the little lamb to my Mary. He was supposed to be The Hub's dog, but he knew I was his mommy.

Is it dinner time yet??

On Sunday afternoon, October 28, 2012, Malcolm became sick. He started vomiting all over the house.  He would whine a little and look at me and then run to the back door. Malcolm tried so hard to make it outside each time and I could tell he was upset when he got sick on the carpet. He was still drinking water although it didn't stay down as long as we wanted. Monday morning, he stopped eating all together. That is when we knew we were in trouble. The Hub felt around his belly and found a large bulge toward the end of his large intestine. We gave Malcolm a few tablespoons of mineral oil with the hope that maybe whatever was stuck just needed a little lubrication to get moving again. The oil came back up within minutes. My heart sank.

Before Malcolm left for the vet, I looked him in the eyes and said, "We are going to do everything we can do to make you feel better. Okay?" He squinted and his long pointy ears went back a little. Perhaps that meant, "Okay." The Hub took him to the same vet clinic he worked at years before and met with the head veterinarian. Malcolm was becoming septic and he was in a lot of pain. The surgery needed to save him involved removing most of his large intestine. The Hub and I loved Malcolm very much but we knew that he did not deserve the pain he was in nor the pain he would be in if we elected for surgery. 

Our beautiful Malcolm Reynolds passed away Monday, October 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm. We buried him under an oak tree in our yard.

The girls saying good-bye to Malcolm

I'm sad that the story ends here. I thought I would have years and years of Malcolm antics to share with you. He was supposed to be in the picture for our Christmas cards this December. Malcolm would have worn a Santa hat. He was always so patient when I wanted a funny picture with props. I was going to make him a Christmas stocking. I wanted to make him a cake for the anniversary of his adoption.

I take stupid picture mama if I can has food?

For the first time in 9 months, my feet are cold. He isn't curled up on his spot on the couch. I don't have this gentle giant snuggling with my feet and making deep grunts. He doesn't poke me with his nose in the morning to wake me up for breakfast. He doesn't get in my way when I walk down the hall. He isn't behind me when I walk through the house. When I open the bathroom door, he's not waiting for me. He's not laying on the floor in the office while I write this. As big as he was, his absence is bigger. This little house feels too big now.

As I mourn the loss of a pet, I come to find that I am also mourning an end of an era. S is in school and B is getting close to starting school. Bailey is out of her puppy phase and is pretty well behaved for the most part. I am nearing the end of my adventure of being a stay at home mom. The one doubt that whispered in my ear whenever I thought about going back to work was always about Malcolm. Would Malcolm be able to be home without me all day? Would he freak out and tear up the house? Will he think I've left him like his last owner left him? How would this affect his separation anxiety? Malcolm was my "last baby." He needed me. My children are becoming more and more self-sufficient. They can do the little things now. But, Malcolm, he really needed me. He needed my love and comfort all the time. He needed my constant attention. But, now that a week has come and gone since he passed, I realize that maybe I needed him more. Maybe he thought he was protecting me. Maybe he knew that I needed someone to watch over us while The Hub was away at work. He made me feel safe. He kept me busy during the quiet and lonely moments that a stay at home mom faces on a regular basis. Malcolm became one of my children and I just lost a very precious member of my family.

Everyday is a little lighter and I'm getting used to just the kids and Bailey running around. Life goes on. The laughter is coming back and the pain is slowly being replaced with funny memories of our dobie. We joke that Malcolm was our scapegoat for the family's farts. Poor guy... I'm sure he was only to blame for 50% of the toots emitted since January. We know that we'll get another doberman one day. I look forward to the day when The Hub calls me with an urgent request to run to the pound. Until then, we'll be fine. I promise.

You were a good boy, Malcolm. We love you.
(Rescued) 01/12/2012 - 10/29/2012
"I aim to misbehave." -Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity

At this very moment, B is singing a bluesy song called, "Malcolm Please Come Back." 
"There are more squirrels here. I'll give you my pizza, if you come back. I miss your faarrrrttttsssss!" 

That pretty much sums up the mourning process for the Lavallee family. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mustaches Are Magical

Tom Selleck. Burt Reynolds. Alex Trebek. Atlanta's top meteorologist, Ken Cook. Ron Burgundy. What do these men all have in common? That's right. Mustaches! I've always believed that a mustache is more than just facial hair grown on a male's upper lip. Whether it's a Handlebar, Chevron, Dali, Imperial, Pencil, or Fu-manchu, these lip sweaters have magical powers that transform a mere dude into a magnificent sexy beast of a man. They also raise awareness and funds for men’s health. I told you they have magical powers.

On November 1, men all over the world ditch their razors and grow mustaches for Movember. I am happy to announce that I have joined the ScapeGoat Ink's Bullet-Proof 'Staches team! We're raising some coin for men's health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer. In a cruel twist of fate, I am not able to join the Mo Bros and grow upper lip plumage... because, I'm a girl. Instead, I am a Mo Sista and support the awesome dudes on my team by raising money and spreading awareness!

Do not copy or reproduce without my written consent.
Hot damn! I look debonair! Sigh. If only...

My Movember team captain, Mike Myers, of ScapeGoat Ink is also my cousin. I saw his frank and beans once. Relax - I was visiting my relatives in Chicago and we were both under the age of 10. He didn't wait for me to clear the bathroom before he undressed to take a shower. Gah, you guys are perverts. Since his were the very first male underneathy bits to ever flash before my eyes, I thought it was only fitting to join his Movember team. Here is some wicked important, yet super hilarious information from his blog Dipso Facto ScapeGoat Ink on either joining ScapeGoat Ink's Bullet-Proof 'Staches  or ways to donate to our team:

 This year, we honor the great men who have grown before us and, as Movember and Sons, pay respect to the simple truth that knowledge is power and moustache is king. That, my friends, is why ScapeGoat Ink has registered and started a Movember team for the fourth year in a row. Wow, four years of looking manly and sexy as hell! Our team, ScapeGoat Ink's Bullet-Proof 'Staches, pledges to cultivate genuine, 100 percent, face-grown lip rags for the next 30 days, starting November 1, 2012, to raise awareness and funds for men’s health.

This year we're opening the doors up to our fans and supporters to join our team so that together we can raise awareness AND look dead sexy while doing it. You can participate by either growing a wicked cookie duster as a ScapeGoat Ink Mo Bro, or join as a ScapeGoat Ink Mo Sista to help recruit others, share knowledge, and support Mo growers. To join our team, click here or cut and paste this link into your web browser:!

Once registered, Movember will send you all the information you need to start raising awareness and funds for men’s health as part of our Movember team. And, feel free to spread the word to anyone else who might want to join or who would look stunning with a lip tickler. Plus, if you join our team and you raise $75 or more in donations then you will receive a FREE ScapeGoat Ink logo t-shirt as a thank you from us for all your hard work and efforts.

ScapeGoat Ink's Original LiverStrong t-shirt

If that's not enough, anyone who purchases a ScapeGoat Ink LiverStrong t-shirt (shown above) during the month of November, we will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Movember charity, in honor of the fight against cancer. Now remember, we only have a month to grow Mo's and raise awareness and funds, so please come along for the mustache ride—Heyo! 

I encourage you to read ScapeGoat Ink's blog and check out the t-shirts. It will change your life. I promise.

So there you have it guys and gals. Throughout the month of November, be sure to stop by the "You'll Be Fine. I Promise." facebook page for updates on ScapeGoat Ink's Bullet-Proof 'Staches team's flavor saver growing and fundraising progress, plus valuable information about men's health. I will also have a link to our team page on the bottom of my blogs in November so you can behold all the mustache growing glory and donate, donate, donate!! I love the dudes in my life and I'm sure you love your dudes, too... let's do everything we can to keep them healthy and aware.

Alright boys - start growing those sexy 'Staches! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Great Halloween Party of 2010

We love Halloween. 


Every year, someone from our circle of friends hosts a Halloween party. In 2010, it was our year. On October 1, I decided I was going to go all out on the party. "Epic" was the term I believe I used when The Hub asked me how big I was going to go. "Epic on a budget," was the revised term when he gave me his "are you insane?!" look. I came up with a plan to transform each room of the house using a different Halloween theme. I researched haunted houses, horror movies, and the occult for inspiration. On October 2, I realized that I was going to need some assistance to pull this off. I called on a few of my fellow Halloween enthusiasts to help.

My brother-in-law, "Lunchbox," practically cleared out Party City to add to my homemade props. My gal-pal, MP, dropped off a huge box of Halloween decorations from her party the year before. My buddy, WK, borrowed his company's projector so we could show movies in our backyard. The entire month of October, I made decorations and worked on putting it all together. On the day of the party, several friends stopped by early to set up the movie screen, hang outdoor speakers, and do some last minute prep.*

Here is how it all turned out. (Note: These pictures were taken during the daytime. It was way spookier once the sun set.)

The living room was set up like an old haunted house. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling and the furniture. We placed drop cloths on the couches and the entertainment center. I turned the TV to a static channel for the Poltergeist effect. I pulled out all my creepy porcelain dolls and placed them throughout the room. Add some spooky candelabras and eerie old portraits and you've got a place not too many guests wanted to stay in by themselves.

The Witch's Kitchen was one of my favorite rooms to decorate. I spent hours and hours researching  items one would find in a witch's kitchen. I printed off labels for potion bottles. I saved bottles and jars for weeks to fill the counters with witchy ingredients. I found old nature books and stacked them all over the place. I even consulted a Wiccan friend for tips and pointers. (She loved the room!) I liked the look so much, the Witch Kitchen was the last room to tear down after the party.

The bathroom was a no brainer. I hear that it doubled as a photo booth.

I am a Pirates of the Caribbean fanatic. I transformed our covered porch into a pirate's hangout. It was also where we kept all the booze. 

I wanted to have something going on outside since our house is pretty small and does not hold many guests. Line up hay bails, throw down some blankets, set up a bonfire, hang a giant screen on the shed and BOOM! instant backyard movie theater! (The scariest part of the day was watching my friends walk along our shed roof to hang the screen.)


There were so many fantastic costumes that year. There was Cinderella, Where's Waldo, characters from Alice in Wonderland, pirates, a red shirt Star Trek zombie, Snookie and The Situation, Buddy Christ from Dogma, a couple of goddesses, a biker dude, Batman, a hockey player, a Quick Trip race car driver, a blind referee, and a few sexy (add non-sexy professions here), just to name a few. I went as Calypso from Pirates of the Caribbean

An estimated 75+ people walked through our door that night. We even had a few party crashers... that was a first for me. The next morning, I woke up to an incredible mess. Not until we rescued our dogs did the carpet looked so thrashed. Beer bottles were scattered everywhere. Pieces of costumes were hidden in the couch cushions and kitchen cabinets. It took a month to set up and a month to clean up. But, for weeks, I received many compliments on our Halloween party. So much fun was had by all. I believe our party achieved "epic" status. And that, my fine friends, is awesome.

*My memory is not what it used to be... I know I left some names off, but it was not intentional and please forgive me! To everyone who helped with this party, attended this party, and enjoyed the night with me, I thank you again. 

Photo Credits: Linda Lavallee, Oracle, Erin Parker -  2010 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Elderly Men Think I'm a Bad Parent.

Three years ago, when my second daughter, B, was a little over six weeks old, The Hub and I agreed we needed to get out of the house and walk amongst the living for a bit. It was a beautiful early autumn weekend. We decided to go to The Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain Park and wander around the craft booths and get some fresh air. I double checked the weather and made sure B was appropriately dressed. I packed her diaper bag with all the items we could possibly need for the next three to four hours. We brought her Snugli instead of a baby stroller so we could navigate the crowds with ease. For those of you not familiar with baby paraphernalia, a Snugli is a baby carrier that you wear on your chest. It's kinda like a kangaroo pouch for little humans. Since B was my second baby, I didn't have the "taking the new baby out" jitters like I did with S.

It was a lovely morning. The crowd was light and we were able to walk around without bumping into other people. B was sleeping soundly in the Snugli. I draped a thin blanket over her head to shield her face from the sun. Her little feet in ducky socks peeked out from the blanket. She was warm and secure. While tasting samples of homemade salsa and pickles from a popular booth, an older gentleman approached me with a warm smile on his face. He pointed to B's socks and asked, "Is it a boy or a girl?" I replied with pride, "Girl." "Ah," he said, "How old is she?" "A little over six weeks." Then he shook his head and said, "You have some nerve." He turned and walked away, leaving me completely baffled as to what just happened. The dude just shamed me for bringing my six week old daughter to a festival. My daughter was soundly sleeping, covered and safe in my arms. There was not one inch of bare skin showing. I would understand someone questioning my parental decisions if she was chain smoking or sucking down bottles of bourbon, but I felt that this was completely unwarranted and just plain rude. I stood there, on the verge of a postpartum hormonal break-down, replaying the exchange over in my head. The Hub walked up and asked me what happened. I quietly retold the story and asked if we could leave the festival. My outing was ruined and I just wanted to go home. The Hub wanted to tell the guy where to stick his opinion, but he was no where to be found. He just disappeared.

Two weeks ago, I went to the grocery store with both kids in tow. I only had a few items to pick up: toilet paper, cold medicine and a couple of ingredients for dinner that night. I broke several of my errand rules that day. (For complete list of rules, please read How to Defuse a Bomb.) I did not have a neat and organized grocery list. B was not feeling well and did not have a nap that day. She was cranky and only along for the ride because she's too young to stay home alone. S was fresh off the school bus and was a little miffed that the shopping trip was cutting into her after-school playtime. I was fighting seasonal allergies and looked as worn out as I felt. But, I needed to pick up these items and I assured everyone that it would only take a few minutes.

As soon as we walked through the door, B started to whine. "I don't want to sit in the shopping cart. I want to push the cart. I am a big girl now and only babies sit in the cart." Fine. I let her push the cart with me. First aisle was the bread and peanut butter aisle. I pointed to a loaf of bread and asked S to put it in the cart. Bad move. The next item was peanut butter. I was looking at the sale prices (another no-no) and B grabbed a jar of peanut butter and chunked it into the cart, crushing the loaf of bread. I removed the jar and told B that it was the wrong brand of peanut butter. Before I had a chance to hand her another brand of peanut butter, B stomped her foot at me and said, "No! I want to put the peanut butter in the cart like S!!" I calmly said, "Please, do not talk to me like that. You can put the peanut butter in the cart once you apologize and calm down." S looked around to see if anyone else was watching her little sister's bad behavior. B raised her voice a little and said, "I want the peanut butter now!" S pleaded with me to just give her the peanut butter so we could move on. I explained to S that B was not going to get her way. She had to calm down first. If I let her talk to me like that, then I am setting myself up for more of the same behavior down the road. That's when B stomped her other foot and said, "Please mommy, now!" Just then, an old man pushing an empty cart pulled up next to me, walked over to B, put his face inches from her face and yelled, "SHE SAID NO!"

I stood there in shock. S turned ten shades of red and started to cry. B, absolutely terrified, ran and hid behind my legs and exploded into tears. What was a fairly quiet debate between a tired mommy and a cranky child turned into a major scene. Everyone stopped shopping and stared at us. The old man shrugged his shoulders and grunted as he turned the corner, "Just trying to help."

It happened again. Some random old man put his nose in my business. This jerk had no right to barge in while I was trying to control my kid. I was not going to let my 3 year old tell me what to do. I was not letting her get her way. I was letting her know that she was not allowed to talk to grown ups like that. I didn't let my exhaustion or desire to get home as quickly as possible stop me from upholding my parental responsibilities. I was doing exactly what people say you should do... be a good parent and discipline your child. You hear all the time about horrible little brats walking all over their parents. Whenever someone commits a crime, without fail, someone will say it's the parents' fault the person grew up to be a criminal because they allowed their kid to behave however they pleased. Not this mama! But, I don't raise my voice at my kids in public. I stay calm and firmly resolve the issue. I had the situation under control and this nosy old bastard decided that I wasn't doing my job to his satisfaction. Once again, I was a victim of drive-by old man criticisms. Why does this happen to me?! Do I have bummer sticker on my butt that reads: 

This was my chance to finally say all the things I wanted to say to the guy at the festival, but didn't. I never tell rude people off. Too many times, I am rendered speechless at their behavior or bravado. I also constantly stop myself from saying anything in return because I want to be "the better person." Not this time. To hell with my quick shopping trip! This was way more important. I am fully aware that my daughter is not perfect and can have an attitude. She's 3! But, this guy passed judgement on my daughter and me without any knowledge of the situation. He does not know that I don't back down when my kid whines. He did not know my kid was not feeling well. He has not seen all the other times she is out and on her best behavior. I was not going to let this man think he can go around and yell in a child's face (especially while the mother is in the middle of dealing with her child) and get away with it. He crossed a major boundary and I was going to give him a piece of my mind. 

I put B in the cart, grabbed S's hand, and went after the guy. I stormed down each aisle, checking out every man's face and preparing my speech. Oh, and it was good. I was going to wave my finger and shake my head to really illustrate just how serious I was. After twenty minutes of searching the entire store, I lost him. I knew he had just arrived when the incident occurred because his cart was empty and he had a fairly long shopping list in his hand. There was no way he could have finished his shopping within minutes of yelling at B. It's like he just vanished. And that's when it hit me... it was divine intervention.

It was a freakin' miracle. I am sure that some sort of heavenly being swooped in and pulled that old man out of the store before I could get to him. His guardian angel must have heard the alarm that his human being was moments away from getting his face chewed off by a pissed off mama bear and rushed in to save him. I mean, think about it. How can an old man just disappear like that? Twice! It happened once at the festival and then again at the store. One minute they are there and then Poof! - they're gone.

Or maybe he's in some secret league of opinionated geezers and their only mission is to rile up frazzled mothers and then slip back into the shadows... like a geriatric Batman with nothing better to do.

I shared this story with my mom. She thinks he may have realized he made a mistake and decided it was better to shop somewhere else. It's possible, but then, that's giving the guy too much credit.

I may never figure out the who or the why to this mystery, but mark my words, the next time an old man criticizes my parenting or tries to interject, I'll be ready.