The Mom Playlist

Don’t get scared off just yet – I’m not going to link you to the Wee Sing tracks or 99 songs for your kids on a roadtrip. Been there, and it was torture (no offense mom, you were cute singing along with us).

But who am I really kidding? I traded in my cool card when I got a minivan.

Anyway, I still pretend. I love listening to rock, pop music and really anything with a beat, unless it’s country. My 14 year old is an old soul, and regularly requests Alice in Chains, 80’s music and wait, what?

The original Total Recall theme song? That’s not what I had in mind to jam to (is that still what the kids call it these days – jamming?) on the way to Sephora to pick out my birthday gift…

Okay. It’s only 3 minutes and 38 seconds and it’s not totally bad (a pun!). But then there’s a request for the Blade Runner theme song. Again, the original with Harrison Ford. The kid is old school.

And while I suffered through the music, I suddenly felt nostalgic, even though I never watched those movies until I was an adult (my parents cared about ratings). So guess what’s on right now?

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Teaching Gratitude to Children – a Crash Course

Babies are born 100% selfish. This is not mean, or the ravings of a disgruntled parent, but simply a fact. They come into this world with traits and genetic predispositions, but otherwise, as other psychologists have said, babies are a “blank book.” It is our job to raise them and teach them.

And I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but selflessness and gratitude are NOT one of the traits with which kiddos are born.

Having said that, how do we teach our beloved ingrates to be grateful? First, by example. Always thank your children and teach them to be thankful regardless of how they feel.

For example: I hate a meal a host fed me after inviting me for dinner. If I were a “typical” 2 or 3 year old, I might shuffle things around on my plate, my face contorted so as to properly show my disgust. I might even groan, or shove my plate or say how much I hate broccoli. But I’m an adult and I’ve learned manners. I’ll stomach the dinner and smile and thank my host graciously.

Are opinions bad? No. They’re normal. We’re not robots. We have feelings and tastes that aren’t the same as everyone else’s. As a parent, that’s annoying. As an adult, get used to it.

So, here I am: a mother of seven, beautiful, wonderful blessings. Seven children who also happen to be suffering from a serious case of complaining and ingratitude. And I, as their insufferable mother, am now suffering from a serious case of FED UP.

I wake up at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday to shower and make my sweethearts breakfast. I then get them up, pack 5 lunches, and send them off to school (OMG I miss homeschooling). Then, in the evenings, I make a healthy dinner. At this point, “thank yous” are whatever. But not complaining?! I would pay any amount for that! But ain’t no one paying me. Let alone, thanking me.

Enter my crash course (with a follow- up to be included in seven days’ time):

The rules are really simple: I’m not making s**** for a week. I bought all the ingredients for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Do the rest yourself. I even bought cereal (as a rule, I think cereal is garbage, with no nutritional value whatsoever)! If you make dinner, make it for your younger siblings also. If one of the older 4 doesn’t like it, make your own. I will make breakfast and lunch for my youngest 3 (6 year old, autistic, 4 and 3).

Here’s the catchy part: I didn’t tell them this is punishment, or that I’m sick of their complaining, wastefulness, ingratitude, etc. I announced it Sunday evening with excitement and anticipation. “It’s a learning and personal growth week!” I said. It is, actually. But it is also very much a fed up mommy wanting her kiddos to appreciate what they have.

As I write this, I close in on Day 1. Not huge, I know. But for this mommy, it’s everything:

They chose cereal in the morning because waking up and cooking? Who does that?! *Hand slapping face*

After eating and dressing, they packed their own lunches. One kid microwaved bacon, packed cheerios, applesauce, made a sandwich, and a drink!

When they came home, they relaxed a bit. Then the 14 year old browned some ground beef and made nachos for all his siblings.

Normal dish duty ensued.

Day One? SUCCESS!

I’ll update soon 😁


They Learn Young

Anyone with a toddler knows that shopping of any kind becomes a headache quickly. Your delightful two year old goes from simply chattering to asking for every. single. thing. I suffered through it for years with my first five kiddos. Now I am nearly incapable of running errands with my youngest two or three in tow. I don’t buy them stuff on a whim, so I’m still unsure where the “I want all the things” comes in. Maybe it’s just toddlers and that’s that.

Hubby and I had to make a quick stop into Walmart the other day. Okay, that’s ridiculous. There’s no such thing as “quick” and “Walmart,” just as there’s no such thing as spending less than $500 at Costco when all you need is honey. Anyway, Walmart. We decided to take the youngest 3 in with us instead of leaving them in the car (yes with AC on, calm down). We figured since usually it’s just me running around, surely two of us can handle them. Nightmare. I did try to warn him but he didn’t believe me. Oh well.

After being asked every second for things like dental floss and pink plates to candy and clothes and shoes, coloring books and toys (we got lost trying to find our items)… we were both ready to scream.

But the last part of all shopping experiences is the worst, hands down: checkout in the evil product placement aisle.

The youngest, my beautiful, busy 3 year old, gasped and shrieked, “A TROLL!! A PINK troll!!! PLEASE?!”

At this point, hubby had enough and issued a firm “No!”

She sat in the cart quietly for about 4 seconds.

“I’m sorry. I love you so much. Can I hug you?” She asked.

Ugh, he’s such a sucker. He fell for that hook line and sinker. He hugged her happily and told her how much he loved her too.

“Can I have a dollar?” she asked sweetly. And do you know what happened next? He gave her the dollar!

We turned out of the checkout and I began scolding him for giving in to her after we told her no for the last 30 minutes. But I was cut off by said 3 year old…

“Can we go back and buy the pink troll with my dollar?”

I WIN!


Angry Mom Rant Part II

While listening to the self-help book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***, I’m simultaneously failing, or at least having my new found life methods put to the test, by a never-ending need to vent about the public school system. In my defense, they are helping me right along by supplying me daily with new things to give a **** about – as hard as I’m trying not to (read the book and you’ll get what I’m saying).

If you read my previous post, you will recall my great frustration over the excessive nature of the school supply lists and the insane cost of these supplies.

Day one of the new school year came, and so did their backpacks – stuffed with more papers to sign, forms to fill out, and requests for money everywhere.

The district is completely online. All enrollment forms are done online; schedules and test grades are posted online; and class news and teacher communications are also online. Yet, each teacher wants the parents to fill out information packets on their children again. Yeah, I just spent a week doing it, running back and forth from three different schools for residency verification because the online system wasn’t working (enter eyeroll here). But now I get to hand write it all out again for each of the teacher’s files. Maybe they don’t communicate with the office and the online system in that capacity. Whatever. I’ll let that one slide.

But now there’s more and more stuff to buy, things to volunteer and sign up for, and more supplies to buy. I’m seeing red now. It’s only the THIRD DAY!

My middle schooler is in Art. While I already bought supplies for this free, public school-provided class, I must send him with a $25 check for Art class by the end of the week for a grade! So he’ll fail if I can’t pay? What if I can’t? He has to pick another elective?

On the way to school this morning, the 5th grader started haggling me for $5 for a “mandatory” student planner. Funny, the middle school gives them out for free. That must be where the art fee comes in – to offset the cost of these “free planners.”

I lost it. I said, “No way. I don’t believe it. They can provide that. Tell them your mom can’t afford it. Tell them I went broke buying school supplies for the rest of the grade!” And by the way, I’d rather go to Office Max and spend $50 on a fancy planner for her than buy their branded ones they are using as fund raising.

Schools are good at convincing our impressionable youth of a few things, many of which deserve their own post. But right now, let’s focus on how the child must buy everything thrown at them, or be made to feel left out. After all, what’s $5 for a planner? Don’t I want my kids to keep track of their assignments? Don’t I care?! So right now, that’s the measurement: the parent who can volunteer for everything, buy every piece of spirit wear, planner, and contribute to each fundraiser and donation request, cares the most. More than me. I’m not personally in competition with Mommy Do It All. I’m pissed that my pockets are expected to be bottomless or my child probably isn’t loved enough and will fail in life.

Oh! Did I mention their tennis shoes aren’t allowed in P.E. unless they tie. Yeah, I got a demand for new shoes from two of the kids (the third, autistic, I was emailed about). My kiddos run around all day in their tennis shoes just fine. But now they’re not good enough for 30 minutes of jump rope and situps.

I’m sure there’s a life lesson that my children and I can learn from all this non-education related nonsense. So far, they don’t appreciate me singing The Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need!


Angry Mom Rant

The title is a warning.

If you’re a teacher, on the PTA, or someone who doesn’t mind going broke buying school supplies, this blog is probably not for you.

I’m none of the above, except I used to homeschool, so I was an underpaid teacher.

We went school supply shopping for only 4 of the 5 kids attending school this year. The list for one of those kids was just the “basics,” meaning next week he’ll come home with more lists from all his individual teachers (the 5th, the high schooler, will do the same). So really, I bought for 3 1/2 kids. I’ll cut to the chase: $600. SIX HUNDRED F****** DOLLARS.

I sat in my closet, drowning in bags upon bags of school supplies, sorting them by child. Never mind that as I did, I realized I missed a few things. So let’s add about $50 to that 600 (enter every four letter expletive here). What I also realized is: This is the most disgusting, excessive experience I’ve had in FOREVER.

You know what’s even more maddening? 3/4 of everything I bought goes into community bins. No names, no nothing. Just bins that the teacher will store away without knowing who bought what. I’m not sure they care. Just as long as they have their Expo markers!

Before you even suggest that I’m against helping out the less fortunate and that’s what the bins are for, stop right there. Ask me for help and I’ll gladly give it! But do not make these ridiculous lists that send parents (or at least me) into a tear-inducing shopping frenzy that spans several stores, across several days, with all 7 children in tow. And before you begin to suggest I should have stopped reproducing at 1.5 kids, you don’t want to go there either.

Here’s how I know it’s excessive bullshit: I homeschooled for 9 years. We did science projects and art classes and everything else you can think of. And it was not “free education,” so every expense was out of pocket AND I was still paying taxes for Bobby down the street to go to public school. Sure, we went through pencils and erasers like crazy, but I can guarantee I never had to get so much crap like I just purchased over the past weeks. NEVER. And we got along just fine. I had a little stash of supplies that I pulled from now and then. But in 9 years, I never went through as many school supplies as I just sent with my children for their free, public education.

It actually made me sick. I felt wasteful. And I’m enraged that I had to spend so much to feel wasteful!


Understanding Death

A few weeks ago, our precious dog passed away. What makes her passing even harder for us all was the fact that we were away and so was she when it happened. The kids were visiting relatives, and I was out of town. Our dog traveled with us often, but considering the amount of travel we had been doing, we decided to leave her with a friend for the last few weeks.

She was an old dog, adopted about 8 years ago when she was already a little over a year old. My best friend agreed to keep her, and updated us regularly on how sweet and easy going she was. And oh was she sweet. In fact, I blogged many times with pictures of my children loving on her. However, after the second week, her health took a sudden turn. Within a few days, our dog was gone.

I wasn’t with her for her last days. My children weren’t with her. The heartache of suffering with her and preparing for her after life care was put on the shoulders of my friend. I grieved from another state, choosing to delay telling the kids until after my son’s 14th birthday.

The older 4 (out of 7) understood what the death of their dog meant: they would not be returning to her in a week and she would not be returning to them. As for the younger 3, the understanding of death is not something they can truly grasp, especially without seeing her sick. The last they knew of their dog was walks through Mount Lemmon.

My very busy, smart and chatty 3 year old has come up to me nonchalantly a few times and said, “Nala is dead.” My 6 year old, who is verbal but autistic, asked where Nala was yesterday. I told him, but he had left the conversation before hearing my reply.

My 4 year old loves dogs. He hugs every dog he sees. It’s been so hard losing our precious family member and she will be missed forever.

But I am going to wrap up children’s understanding of death with something sweet, funny and curious:

Yesterday, the friend who was watching Nala when she passed, stopped by the house. The 4 year old said,

“I want my dog back!”

She crouched down and said very sweetly, but with much sadness, “oh baby, your dog went to be with Jesus.”

The four year old demanded, “why did Jesus take my dog?!”


Feel the Heat

Because the temperatures in Dallas aren’t quite hot enough, we decided to escape to Tucson, Arizona for the summer.

The first leg of the trip was a 16 hour trip in two cars with 9 children, 2 adults and 1 dog. As we approached the border of Texas and New Mexico, the 9 year old boy yelled out with much concern, “We’re not going to be in a free country any more!” Yes, he was serious. That Texas pride runs deep, ya’ll.

When we finally arrived to the desert, we were soon faced with WHAT NOW? I mean really! What do people do when it’s 115 outside? There is swimming, as long as you own stock in a really good sunscreen company. There is Netflix. Thank God for Netflix.

I soon found out people are crazy in this place.

Day 2… or 202. What does it matter. I’m not going to survive anyway. Hubby decides to look online for things to do in a dismal, roasting dust bowl. Oh! There is a website! Oh my gosh. Let’s see… wake up early and take a walk. By the way, I did that. By early they mean 5am because it’s already bright outside. Then there’s hang out in Barnes and Noble. Are these people for real? Finally there was something about a planetarium in the university. That sounded interesting, and more importantly, out of the heat.

We had to park about a block from the entrance. Walking is not a problem usually, but then again, it’s not usually 156 degrees with negative humidity. My jeans stuck to my legs. My feet slipped out of my wedges. We were halfway there. Inside the building, approximately 4 minutes after exiting the parked cars, I lost interest in whatever the hell we were there to see, was blind in one eye from the sun, and was dripping wet and panting like a dog. I’m glad the ladies at the front desk didn’t bother to ask me questions and instead interacted with my husband. Don’t mess with a dying animal.

What? They close in 5 minutes?! You. Must. Be. Kidding. I nearly died walking in the building and now we have to walk back out?! Oh but they gave us passes to the show a few days later so we could do this again! Shoot me now.

So what’s next? Dinner? Sure. But what I really want is to drown in a swimming pool. But I try to be nice and help find a restaurant that will accommodate 7 children. We settle on an authentic Mexican restaurant and are seated.

The waiter is a good looking, friendly guy who we’ll assume is younger than me. We get to chatting about our vegan keto diet we’ve just embarked on, and then I bring up the heat and lack of humidity. Being from the area, he hates humidity and prefers that “just stuck my head into a 500 degree oven” feel. In fact, he likes to jog in it IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. I’ve now concluded everyone in this town is crazy. Or braindead from the heat. I keep hearing promises of rain and “monsoons,” but I think this is what they tell themselves to keep up strength, and what they tell outsiders to keep them there. Lies. This place hasn’t seen rain in, well, never.