Archive | May, 2011

Replacement Words

31 May

The joy of having kids is that we get to use replacement words.  Such words have a double meaning, or even a triple meaning.  I’ve used many such words in my 11+ years of parenthood.  My grandma is famous for also using such words.  My grandma uses “sugar” as her favorite replacement word.  Got a hang nail?  Oh sugar.  Just cut yourself?  SUGAR!  Sugar is also shortened to “Sug” a term of endearment.

My newest and most favorite replacement word is Bandersnatch.  I first heard the term from the 2010 Disney film Alice in Wonderland.  In the movie it’s a large hairy creature with sharp-pointy teeth.  In my replacement word usage, it has replaced everything from S#!t, the f-bomb, to any other word(s) that I don’t necessarily want my kids to hear.  “Awe Bandersnatch” is a common phrase to spout from my filthy sailor’s mouth.  At a cook-out on Saturday, we were discussing replacement words.  When I told the group of assembled party-goers my favorite word, they were a bit taken back.  “It still sounds filthy” said one.  I replied in my usual snarky manner that it was because the last half of the word is snatch.  That’s what I like about Bandersnatch.  It’s clean enough that Disney (and Lewis Carroll, though he was NOT that clean) used it, yet dirty enough to be successful in delivering the desired effect. 

Past favorites have been:  sugar (Thanks Gram!), blast, what in the world, and fork for obvious reasons…  Replacement words don’t tend to stick around too long.  Soon enough the kids will find out what word you are replacing and give you that look.  All parents (dads especially) know that look.  The look that says, “I’m telling mom!”  The look that let’s you know that your little girl isn’t that young anymore.  That she knows what’s going on.  It’s the same look you receive when you’re driving in the car and that one inappropriate song in your current playlist comes on.  As soon as they hear that f-bomb or s-word, you know.  You’re screwed.  The Boss’s going to find out.  She’s going to wring your neck.  “Mom!  Dad was swearing!”  “What’d he say THIS time?”  “Well, he said Bandersnatch, but what he meant to say was….”  This usually results in a verbal reaming for both me and The Thing which has figured out what word I was replacing.

Parenting is hard.  If it weren’t for the fun moments, I think we’d all eat our young.

Do you use replacement words?  Which are your favorites?

In which I discuss the politics of RISK

25 May

I hate politics, yet love strategy games.  Both politics and games have always been a huge part of holiday traditions for my family.  We’re a group of arguers, my family.  We’ll argue anything.  A-N-Y thing.  It doesn’t matter what we believe, or even if we agree with the opposite party.  We’ll argue for the sake of arguing.  It’s what brings us together.  Recently over on Lessons from Teachers and Twits Renee asked, “What are some non-traditional family rituals that bring you joy?”  I of course had to respond.  The following is an expansion of my reply:

Every Christmas and Thanksgiving we get together as a family (no way, really?!?!).  After the presents are opened, dinner had, dishes done, and desert well on the way we all join together to play a game.  We usually play Trivial Pursuit which gives us ample time to argue over the correct answer to a question and to fight like cats and dogs.  We’ve also been known to play Monopoly (until dad lands on my brother’s hotel on Boardwalk and flips the board over), RISK, and more recently Bananagrams.  These are times of family bonding.  And times to ritually destroy each others fragile emotions over board games.

I believe I was 13 or so the first time we played RISK.  Both my brother and I were smart enough to know not to trust dad, yet dumb enough to think that he wouldn’t destroy us given the tiniest chance.  For those not in the know, when playing RISK you basically try to take over the board by chancing dice roles and armies against your opponents armies.  My brother, being twice as competitive as I am, immediately gets into a land war with dad over the control of Australia.  I sit back and collect every territory of South America giving me extra armies at every turn as long as I hold those territories.  Dad picks Latin America as a starting point to try to knock me out of S.A.  I pick North Africa to protect my border.  Eventually all the territories are divvied up and we can begin.  Immediately, my brother attacks my dad to wrest control of Australia away from him.  Dad of course gives him a run for his money.  I fortify my border with Latin America and attack dad, taking him out and gaining control of a crucial border.  We go back and forth winning and losing territories at each turn.  We’re collecting cards, trading them in for extra armies to use to fortify borders all over the world.  Here’s where the politicking comes in to play.  Dad sees himself as the loser in this if things keep going the way they are.  He’s more competitive than my brother is, and HATES to lose (see Monopoly above).  So he starts making deals.  He first tries to get my brother to stand down and allow him to keep Australia.  Failing in this, he makes a pact with me to not attack me for 4 turns if I take my brother out at the Ural Mountains territory.  Stupidly, I agree.  Two turns later, I’ve taken out my brother at the Ural Mountains, drastically depleting my armies in Asia.  He strikes.  First he blows through my defenses at Latin America, then Venezuela, second he switches up and attacks North Africa.  Then abruptly he ends his turn.  “What about our agreement?”  “Yeah, I went and broke that.  I needed you not to have control of South America.”  Eventually I’m wiped out and it becomes a one-sided two person battle for control of the world.  Dad of course wins.  We win a valuable lesson:  We can’t trust dad.  Especially when it comes to board games.  If he can’t win legitimately, he’ll cheat to win.  So now when we play, it’s two on one.  Many times my brother and I are able to take out dad and begin our head-to-head battles.  Occasionally I win however it’s not really about that with me.  It’s about teaming up with my little brother to destroy dad.

Are you competitive?  Does your family get together to play games?  Which ones?  Comment below:

Thoughts that run through my head

24 May

I constantly have thoughts running through my head.  Sometimes I can concentrate on one or two of them, other times I fixate on one and focus on it for hours on end.  Often times this happens when I’m reading a good book.  I get so fixated on the book, the characters, and the story that I start forming pictures of the story in my head.  This is why I believe that when books are turned into movies, I get so disappointed.  They never live up to the expectations I have already created in my head.  Take movies such as the Harry Potter franchise.  I hated every single one of them (with the exception of Deadly Hallows, that one I’m meh about).  They have all fallen short of the books in my mind.  Eragon is another such book that I loved, yet hated the movie.  Of course in the case of Eragon, I believe that most people hated that movie.  It was truly terrible.  The Seeker:  The Dark is Rising based upon Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising is another.  The movie was pretty good, but no where near as good as the book.  Why does Hollywood do this?  Why can’t they make movies that actually co-inside with the thoughts running through my head?  Yes, I realize that this would probably make movies 3+ hours long.  So break them up into two parts.  It’s working for the Harry Potter people.  It may work for the Twilight people.  I wouldn’t know about that, however as I’m not a 12 year old girl.

Anyone else do this sort of thing, or am I the only nut job?  Comment below.

In which I believe I have killed my brother

23 May

Ah the joys and tribulations of growing up the oldest brother.  I’ve always been bigger than my little bro.  Not that he’s scrawny.  Not by a long shot.  I’m just bigger than him.  This often came in handy for a variety of reasons.  You see we used to fight.  A lot.  We fought like cats and dogs.  Like two brothers.  Of course we loved each other (not that we’d ever admit it), but we still liked to fight.  My brother being smaller than I am would fight dirty.  So I often had to take advantage of my size and put him in his place.

We lived in a fairly large subdivision.  The land behind our house belonged to the builder who did the original bunch of houses in the subdivision.  This was their staging area, their stockpile area, etc.  There were often cool bulldozers, front end loaders, and dump trucks for us kids to crawl all over.  Sometimes if we were lucky the doors would be unlocked.  Oh how many times we would sit in the seat of a bulldozer and pretend we were running over our “enemies”.

Since this area was a stockpile area, there were often large piles of dirt and loam.  One such pile stayed around for a long time.  It stayed so long, us neighborhood kids named it.  I can’t recall the name at the moment, but it was probably something cool like “MountDoom”.  Something like that.  We used to climb to the top and horst around.  Of course horsing around leads to dares which leads to “King of the Mountain”.  We would play “King of the Mountain” for days.   We’d push each other around on the top of this hill hoping to knock everyone else down and be able to keep them down with a combination of dirt clods and well aimed kicks to the face.  One afternoon it was just me and my brother playing on top of the hill.  Of course we were playing “King of the Mountain”.  I had just suffered a crushing blow from my brother (the cheater) when I got mad.  I don’t often get mad.  It leads me down a path I don’t want to go down…  So I got mad.  I picked up my little brother, pressed him over my head and threw him off the hill.  Fortunately he bounced a couple of times on the way down.  Unfortunately his head hit a rock.  Remember from my post What I believe is the first stupid thing I’ve ever done, I commented on head wounds?  Yeah, they still bleed.  A lot.  From all the blood that was soaking my brother’s shirt, coming from the back of his head, I was sure I had killed him.

Wait!  What’s that?  He’s moving!  Oh no.  He’s really mad.  Oh.  Crap.  Fortunately I was able to stop him from killing me, and was able to steer him towards home.  I of course followed along well behind.  I knew mom was going to kill me.  There was no doubt in my mind that she was going to take one look at him and launch into a full out Warrior Mom scream and take off my head with one swift kick.  But no!  She’s bundling his bleeding head in a towel.  They’re out the door to the car to bring him to the hospital.  I’m still alive!  Wait.  She’s just prolonging the agony.  She’s going to kill me for sure as soon as she gets home.  Oh why didn’t I have a sister?  I’d have NEVER thrown a GIRL off a mountain.

I am proud to say that I was not even punished for that bit of horsing around.  I think somehow in the rush to get my brother to the hospital, get him x-rayed and stitched up, she forgot all about me.  Today 5/23 is my mom’s birthday.  This post is in honor of how awesome she has always been to both me and my brother.

What sort of trouble did you get into as a kid?  Any good punishment stories? Comment below!

Kids Going BONKERS!!

20 May

Here in north east Connecticut(I bet you didn’t even know there was a north east Connecticut) it’s been raining on and off all week.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it has become a bad thing.  Why?  Well, try keeping a school full of kids cooped up indoors without any opportunity to run around and get some exercise aside from gym class.

For The Boy this has been particularly trying.  You see, he has ADHD.  Can you believe it one of my spawn is hyperactive?  Big surprise (read:  BAH-HIIIIIG Sur-Prizzze ala Dr. Cox from Scrubs).    So all week he’s been driving me mad, and going bonkers.  I really think he just needs to get outside and run off some of that extra energy.  With nothing to do but play wii, play with lego’s, cars, and transformers he’s going a bit stir crazy.  He’s taken to swinging the wii remote around by the nun chuck.  How many YouTube videos are there of kids doing just that and the remote busting right through the tv?  Every time he does this, that’s all I see.  Not that it would be the end of the world, but it would definitely suck.  Mostly because then he’d be bored, full of energy, AND wouldn’t have a tv to watch because he just put a wii remote through it.  Sometimes he just doesn’t think.  Sometimes I think his skull is thicker than mine is.  You see, I don’t learn lessons very well.  I repeat mistakes often.  I just hope I haven’t cursed him with this as well.  He does have one thing I didn’t have.  He’s stinkin’ cute.  I don’t know if anyone has told you this, but cute gets you out of a lot.  A.LOT.

Here’s hoping the weather improves and he can get outside and drive nature bonkers for a while.  I’ve had my share.

What do your kids do that drive you nuts?  How do you deal with a week of rain?  Leave a comment below!

I will always love you. I just don’t like you right now.

19 May

Let’s face it:  Kids can be annoying.  Kids can drive you right up the wall, and right down the other side.  I think they look at torturing parents as a game.  The madder mom gets, the redder her face gets, the funnier it is.  The madder dad gets, the louder he yells.  Let’s see if he can shake stuff on the walls!  I must be just a big kid because I tend the laugh when the kids are getting into trouble.  My dad was the same way.  I can’t tell you how many times he would have to turn a laugh into a cough, or leave the room because my mom was yelling at us over some stupid thing my brother and I just did.  I’d like to think it’s an inherited trait; however, maybe it’s all males who do this.  Do other dads laugh at the expense of their children?  I have sat in the kitchen waiting for the timer to go off choking with laughter at The Boy as he sits in time-out sticking his tongue out at me so many times I’ve lost count.  It’s funny!  He is our constant source of entertainment.  He comes up with the best facial expressions, the best come backs, the best creative pronunciations of words.  He’s a sarcastic little bugger too.  Most kids don’t understand sarcasm.  With my family that is completely untrue.  My kids get sarcasm.  My kids are almost as sarcastic as I am.  I find this hysterical.  I also find that they’ll probably get themselves into some sort of trouble because of their sarcastic nature.  The Boy most definitely will, and probably already has.  I know we’ve had notes home about him rolling his eyes at some comment the teacher made.  (On side note:  How appropriate is it that while writing this post, Vampire Weekend’s The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance comes on?)  Isn’t rolling one’s eyes a sign of appropriateness while being yelled at?  I know I did that with my parents when I was younger.  I also remember my butt breaking many wooden spoons…  I wonder if there is any correlation between the two.

In order to curb the kid’s crappy behavior, I’ve started a new trend.  I simply tell them the following, “You know, I will always love you.  I just really don’t like you right now.”  This seems to have the desired effect.  The kids know I’m going to punish them if they don’t knock it off.  They knock it off, and I don’t have to stop what I’m doing.  Win-win.  I have a feeling that I will be using this statement more and more as my kids get older.  Next year The Girl goes to middle school.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  With middle school comes hormones, crying, boyfriends, acne, crying, break-ups, crying, attitudes, a new school, crying, etc (did I mention crying?).  I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand it.  The Girl knows that I don’t deal with emotional stuff well.  I’ve always been the bottle up your feelings and let them burst out in a rush at the person you’re not really mad at kind of guy.  Lord, give me strength.  She might make it to 13 if she straightens up, flies right, and doesn’t annoy the crap out of me.

Have you ever laughed at your child?  Are your kids successfully sarcastic?  Leave a comment below.

I am a guest blogger, imagine that.

18 May

Today I am a guest blogger at Lessons from Teachers and Twits.  Check it out:  Click Here!

The funny things we say and do

17 May

The following are just some of the funny short stories and sayings from my family:

“Do… Do I poop on the law?”  – The Boy when told that it was the law that he be completely potty trained by age 4 (yes, he’s a late bloomer).

“Damn it!  Damn it!  Damn it!”  – The Girl when she was 2 or 3 and told to put 6 or so stuffed animals onto her bed.  She instead tossed them from her room adding a “Damn it!” to each throw.

“I didn’t want an Ian.  I wanted a Court-a-knee!”  – Me, age 3, when we brought my brother home from the hospital.

“You bought WHAT!”  – Usually Mom.  Occasionally The Wife.  Never from me, or my dad, unless directed at a purchase my dad had foolishly made.

“I’ll just light one more match.  Then I’ll stop.”  – My brother, to be featured in an upcoming blog post entitled, “Playing with Fire.  Part 2”.

“Mom will never find out.”  – Either me or my brother.  She always does….

“BOYS!!!”  – Mom.  See, I told you she always finds out.

“No dad!  Not the knife!  Not the Knife!”  – See yesterdays post

“Mom, we’re play fighting.  We really do love each other!”  – Usually me, as I was beating the crap out of my brother.

“Yeah, you can make it.  No problem.”  – Usually me encouraging my brother to do something stupid.

When my brother was little, he had a terrible temper.  I swear I saw his eyes go blood red on many occasions.  On one of our ski trips, he wasn’t having a great day.  He had fallen and his boot had come off, he had been kicked off the bunny hill for being awesome, etc.  My dad was filming most of these things.  So my dad, being his oh so supportive self, decides to poke the bear.  He taunts my brother about his day, about his falls, etc all while filming my bro.  Funny thing about bears, they poke back.  I think we all almost wet ourselves when my brother grabbed his ski pole and jabbed my dad in the gut.  Watching my dad double over, then fall in the snow was hilarious.  We should have sent it into “America’s Funniest Home Videos”.  We would have won for sure.

Let’s here some of your family’s crazy stories, quotes, and/or sayings.  Leave a comment below:

My dad attempts to knife me

16 May

When I was 6 or 7 we were building our new house in an up and coming subdivision.  When I say we, I of course mean my dad and friends of ours.  I was busy being a kid, trying to learn something useful at school I guess.  My dad was the general contractor for the house and had friends do the framing, etc.  We used to visit the house to see all the stages of the build.  We saw the basement as it was formed up, poured, then the frames removed giving us our first glance at our new home’s shape.  Then the rough framing began.  When the first floor was rough framed and the second well on its way we made a very important visit.  We went to check out where our rooms would be, what of our furniture would go where, etc.

Right around the corner from our new house was a Fisher’s Big Wheel.  I can still remember we bought little blue plastic bowls, plastic spoons, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch!  Coming from a family where eating an exciting cereal consisted of either Honey Nut Cherios or Life, CTC was a dream come true.  Finally!  I was going to eat the same sugar laden cereals my classmates enjoyed on a daily basis!  Building a house is awesome!  Maybe we’d have CTC all the time now!

Disaster hits (big surprise, huh?)

Somehow over the course of me and my little brother running around the rough framed house barefoot, I got a sliver.  Imagine that, a sliver from rough plywood and Douglas Pine joists.  As I recall it, this sliver was huge.  I had an entire tree stuck in my toe.  It hurt like hell, being 6 I of course knew everything there was to know about hellish pain.  I’d fallen off my bike and skinned my knees before.  I knew pain.  This. Was.  It.  My mom, in all her nurse-y wisdom tried her best to remove the giant hellish invader from my tiny little toe.  She tried to no avail.  That thing was staying put.  I had no choice.  The guys at school were going to call me Tree-foot from here on out.  I’d have to learn to see around the branches as it sprouted and grew a trunk right from my toe.  I’d have to learn to kick a soccer ball with my new trunk.

What?  Dad knows how to get splinters out?  Awesome!  Bring it on dad!  Why are you getting your knife out?  Why are you opening it?  Don’t come near me!  What’s wrong with you?  You’re going to kill me just because I’m going to have a tree growing from my toe?  Or worse!  You’re going to cut off my toe, aren’t you?  You’re sick you know that?

I remember (and am reminded of by my mom every chance she gets to embarrass me) screaming, “No dad!  Not the knife!  Not the knife!”  Here we are the new people in a prominent subdivision, and I’m screaming my head off as my dad advances on me with a knife.  It’s a miracle that there weren’t cops swarming the neighborhood cuffing and stuffing my dad for attempted murder or toe-icide.

Is it just my family that has these kinds of stories?  Do you have a story of a similar experience?  Share it in the comments below.

In which I pull a prank at summer camp.

12 May

For 6 summers I worked at Camp-of-the-Woods in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  I, along with many others, pulled countless pranks during the long summer months.  Mom, if you’re reading, you may want to stop doing so by the end of this paragraph.  Some were innocent, some not so innocent, all where hilarious.  Some I got caught, most I didn’t.

Working at Camp is always a trip.  You’re away from home, in a new environment, and you’re meeting new people all the time.  Some of my best friends I met while working at Camp.  We still keep in touch, sharing stories of the stupid stuff we did as kids.  We did the usual stupid stuff, like streaking, pouring cold water in the head of the dude in the shower, and sneaking out after lights out.  This is not one of those usual stupid things.  This is MONUMENTALLY stupid.

I lived in a small cinderblock room with three other guys.  We all got along well enough.  Sure we pulled pranks on each other, but they usually weren’t too bad.  There was a time when we made the smallest roommate we had sleep on the floor (which was gross, btw) because we turned his bed into a sculpture.  Then there was the time we did something that was really bad.  Once again, involving our poor smallest roommate, we first duct-taped him to his mattress.  “Big deal” you’re probably thinking.  Well, I’m not done yet.  After he was duct taped to his mattress, we duct taped his mouth.  Couldn’t have him screaming, could we?  Then we dragged him down from our hillside room to my boat at the docks.  Once we had him on the boat, we took off to the swim dock, a little floating platform at the end of the swim area.  Making sure he couldn’t get out of his sleeping bag, we un-duct taped his mouth and took off.  All of the campers were already at breakfast, and then they would head directly to chapel, so no one was around to hear him scream.  I think he was found close to lunch time.  We never did get caught, and he never told.  He was a good guy, and very smart.  The retaliation would have been awful.

Did you ever work at a summer camp?  Have you ever pulled a stupid prank?  Share your stories in the comments below.