Arkie Mama: You gotta love kids’ candor

So up until a week ago, the children’s Thanksgiving art remained hanging on a bulletin board at the daycare.

On little handprint turkeys, each child in the E-man’s class had written what they’re grateful for.

Examples included: I am grateful for …

My mommy.

My daddy.

My brother/sister.

Then I got to the E-man’s, which read: I am grateful for …

My dog.

Hmmph.

Arkie Mama: Attack of the squirrels

So take your average squirrel:

Cute, no?

Cute, no?

A bit rodenty for my taste, but the bushy tail helps me forgive him for his origins.

Awhile back, the E-man kept having nightmares about squirrels. His piercing screams in the middle of the night sent us sprinting down the hallway, convinced there must be a real live animal lurking in his bedroom.

“When did he develop such a fear of squirrels?” I asked Hubs.

“I have no idea,” my spouse replied.

“You didn’t let them watch anything questionable on Discovery, did you?” I pressed.

“No! We haven’t seen any shows that feature squirrels. And besides, what could possibly make them look scary? They run around clutching acorns. It’s not like they’re launching themselves at antelope or gazelles.”

And then it hit me.

Each week, the kids’ daycare has Movie Day. The teachers are pretty strict about what movies children can bring in. Only G-rated movies allowed.

Could it be that someone had successfully smuggled in the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

I did a little Googling and pulled up this clip from YouTube. It shows the complete squirrel scene, during which 100 or so squirrels launch themselves at Veruca as she screams and thrashes. Eventually, they surround her, tap her on the head and then carry her off to the hole that will dump Veruca into the incinerator — which, luckily, isn’t working.

Rabid squirrels

Rabid squirrels

Scheming squirrels

Scheming squirrels

Well, hell. That scene creeped me out. No wonder the little E-man was so terrified.

This happened last year. I figured he had long gotten over his fear of squirrels — until this morning.

As we walked out onto the front porch, the E-man froze.

“Squirrel!” he shrieked. Then he vanished back into the house, slamming the door behind him.

This morning’s incident eradicated any lingering guilt I had about not taking him to see Up with Tootie.

Because this —

"SQUIRREL!"

"SQUIRREL!"

— would surely have plunged the E-man into hysterics.

Arkie Mama: Our Christmas traditions

Multiple showings of Rudolph

Multiple showings of Rudolph

Choosing our favorite ornaments for tree-decorating

Choosing our favorite ornaments for tree-decorating

Fun with older siblings

Fun with older siblings

Christmas programs

Christmas programs

Twinkle, twinkle ...

Twinkle, twinkle ...

Hilarity and entertainment at said Christmas programs

Hilarity and entertainment at said Christmas programs

The Christmas card portrait

The Christmas card portrait (This year, Tootie drew Ty since he's away at Coast Guard training) Note artwork hanging on mantle. Each year, Tootie makes new mantle decor!

Trip to in-laws before Christmas

Trip to in-laws before Christmas

Trip to my parents' home, usually after Christmas

Trip to my parents' home, usually after Christmas

Carrots for reindeer, cookies for Santa (We make and decorate cookies on Christmas Eve)

Carrots for reindeer, cookies for Santa (We make and decorate cookies on Christmas Eve) Again, note mantle decor.

Sneaking a little frosting from Santa's cookies. So far, this hasn't landed her on the naughty list.

Sneaking a little frosting from Santa's cookies. So far, this hasn't landed her on the naughty list.

Secretive, late-night toy assembly (usually involves some un-Christmaslike language)

Secretive, late-night toy assembly (usually involves some un-Christmaslike language)

Coffee for disheveled parents, still sleepy from toy assembly. Not pictured — Christmas-morning cinnamon rolls. Yum.

Coffee for disheveled parents, still sleepy from toy assembly. Not pictured — Christmas-morning cinnamon rolls. Yum.

Want to participate in Wordless Wednesdays? Post a photo on your blog with a link back to me. Then I’ll list the links to all Wordless posts here.

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here:

She’s Crafty

Family Way

Moody Mom

Baby and the Beasts

Hugs & Kisses

Mom on a Wire

Arkie Mama: A smaller, simpler Christmas

Our tree is smaller this year. The gifts will be fewer in number. It will be the first Christmas since Mammaw’s death. It will be my stepson’s first holiday away from home. (Ty’s at a New Jersey training facility since signing on with the U.S. Coast Guard.)

Still, I find myself even more appreciative this year of what we do have. So I’m belting out carols in the car, much to my daughter’s annoyance, and I’m enjoying the gentle glow of our little tree’s lights. I’m also trying to figure out which photo to use for this year’s Christmas card. I’m not used to seeing smiles from the E-man everyone.

OK, so the E-man appears to be baring his teeth rather than smiling, but I'll take it! (Picture of Ty drawn by Tootie.)

OK, so Tootie appears to be baring her teeth rather than smiling, but I'll take it! (Picture of Ty drawn by Tootie.)

Arkie Mama: Nooooooo! Not the Santa Shop!

In an effort to forever establish myself as the Grinch of Elementary School, I am going to publicly moan over the whole concept of the Santa Shop.

For those of you who don’t have kids in grade school — don’t quit reading this post because you think it doesn’t apply to you. One day, you too will have to fork over money so that your child can buy cheap, crappy dood-dads in the name of giving. (Or, more accurately, fund-raising.)

Egad, spare me.

Imagine Happy Meal-quality toys, the dregs of Hobby Lobby’s inventory and a rock collector’s rejects laid out on rows of tables in the cafeteria or gym. That’s your Santa Shop merchandise. Prices range from $1 to $7, sometimes as much as $12.

Now imagine handing your wee one some cash and a list, and then trusting said child to pick out appropriate “gifts” for family members. Or to truly grasp the meaning and spirit of giving.

Last year, Tootie bought a fake, plastic rose for her sister, some sort of plastic doo-hickey-thingy for her little brother and a rock for her older brother. Then she used the rest of the money to buy herself a bunch of crappy little knick-knacks. A quartz inside a used jewelry box, for example.

The Santa Shop is a PTA fund raiser and I will probably be bombarded with hate email for this post, but — SERIOUSLY? Who dreamed up this thing?

I’m all about encouraging kids to feel the warm glow of giving, but in my world, giving means you put some thought into what you buy.

Or, even better, make.

Or bake.

People who’ve had a year like ours — no raise, paycuts, etc… — don’t have the money to spend on junk.

Which is why I will be giving Tootie only a couple of dollars, and that’s only so won’t be the only one sitting in a classroom.

And I will tell her this:  For Christmas, Mommy and Daddy want one of your beautiful drawings or a painting. You and the E-man and I will make a photo book for Daddy. We’ll make something special and personalized for your sister and two brothers. For the family on Daddy’s side, we’ll put together a special book of Mammaw’s recipes. For Mommy’s side, we’ll make a calendar out of your and the E-man’s artwork.

Because these are gifts that will mean something to those who receive them. They’re from your heart and hands.

Not the Santa Shop.

My favorite Christmas decorations, courtesy of Tootie.

My favorite Christmas decorations, courtesy of Tootie.

Arkie Mama: Britney’s suggesting a WHAT?!

For me, one of the side effects of aging is an inability to understand song lyrics. Another is the inability to recognize that former teen singers, like, say Britney, are now adults. Singing adult songs. With very adult meanings.

So for the past few weeks, every time her latest single, “3,” came on the radio, I cranked it up. I mean, it’s a great car-dancing song. And the kids like the whole counting thing. I couldn’t really understand the lyrics, but  really — it seemed to be a lot of counting and harmless, meaningless rhyming.

Last night, I pulled up the video. And as I watched the dancing, things suddenly clicked into place.

Whoops, I thought, speedily Googling the lyrics and wondering what on earth my daughter might have been trilling on the school playground lately.

A quick read of the lyrics revealed that the princess of pop was indeed singing about threesomes. As in, two on one. As in, menage a trois.

I don’t know why I was so surprised. I’m the woman who was probably the last on the planet to realize that Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” wasn’t actually about poker. Duh.

I’m not a prude. And both songs will remain on my playlist because — hello!  — they’re great workout and dance songs.

But Tootie — well, let’s just say that she’ll no longer be counting along with Britney.

Arkie Mama: Little white lies

Today, Moody Mom and I are guest-posting on one another’s blogs. Our topic today is little white lies we’ve told our kids. To read my confessional post, head on over to Moody Mom’s blog! And now, without further ado, I present Moody Mom:

How many of you have told your kids little white lies just to get them to shut up? Today I would like to share 2 of the most ingenious white lies I have told Bear.

Little White Lie #1 –
Bear took a liking to McDonald’s at a very young age. Every time we would ask where she wanted to eat, she would say McDonald’s and every time we drove by one of their many locations she would ask if we could go to McDonald’s. I was sick and tired of hearing her ask to go there and then fussing when we said no.

One Sunday after church we were driving by the Mc’s on McCain and sure enough I hear, “Mommy, can we go to Donald’s?’ Without even batting an eye I blurted out, “Not today honey, they are closed.” It worked. She just answered, “OK, Mommy.”

From then on every time we drove by Mc’s Bear would ask if we could eat there and I would answer, “Not today honey, they are closed,” and she would say OK and go back to looking at her books or listening to music.

As she got older, she asked why they were always closed and I would tell her
maybe we needed to call ahead next time.

Don’t judge me. I would take her every 3 weeks or so. I just did not want to go through her fussing when I said no.

This worked like a charm till Bear was about 4 years old. We were driving by the same McDonald’s where I first starting “tricking” her and she asked to go eat at Donald’s. I answered with my standard “Not today honey, they are closed.” Bear got quiet for a moment and then answered, “Then why are all those cars in the parking lot?” I was BUSTED!

I can’t remember if we stopped that day or not, but I do remember Bear asking
me if I had been tricking her. I fessed up and told her that yes, I have. Bear informed me that she was too old to fall for that anymore.

Little White Lie #2 –
Bear loves cats and I am not a cat person, I am more of a dog person. A big
dog person, my favorite breed is Rotties.

About 3 years ago she started bugging me about getting her a kitty. I told her our dog, Shelby, did not like cats. That worked until Shelby died of cancer.

So then I told her cats would scratch little girls. That worked until she told me about the kittens at Mallory’s party who did not scratch her once.

At that point I was sick of hearing about kittens and just blurted out, “Mommy is allergic to kittens.” I felt bad at first because that is in no way true, but it worked. She no longer asked to have a cat.

When we went anywhere there was a cat, Bear would tell me “Don’t get too close, <ommy, you are allergic to cats.” She would also tell the person with the cat to not get too close to mommy, cats make her sick.

To this day Bear has not asked for a kitten since.

Do I feel bad for these white lies? A little, but that does not make me a bad mother. Just a creative one.

See, Mom, a perfectly harmless kitty!

See, Mom, a perfectly harmless kitty!

Please, can I have one?

Please, can I have one?

Arkie Mama: The Pajama School Run aka Mommy’s Walk of Shame

Confession: There have been several mornings over the past 1 1/2 years when I’ve thrown on a pair of flip-flops, grabbed a sleepy-eyed E-man and raced off to Tootie’s elementary school — in my baggy flannel pajamas.

Sometimes, if we’re running late, I don’t even brush my hair. Or wash away the leftover mascara smudges underneath my eyes.

And then I pray fervently that I won’t get pulled over during my five-minute drive or that I won’t have to get out at the school for some unexpected reason. I cannot imagine the reaction if Tootie’s principal or teachers were to see me in all my jammy glory, complete with bedhead and goth eyes.

I call this slapdash routine the Mommy Walk of Shame.

Only instead of wearing last night’s clubbing clothes, I’m decked out in hubby’s softball shirt and a pair of ragged-but-oh-so-comfy PJs. And instead of calling various girlfriends to ask how badly I embarrassed myself the night before, I’m wondering what the cop will think when he pulls me over for going 5 miles over the speed limit in a school zone. In my haste to get to the school.

Most mornings, I’ve got it together. I dress Tootie for school and Hubs drops her off on his way to work. Then I get myself and the E-man dressed and drop him off at daycare on my way to the newsroom.

When Hubs is gone, however, my tidy little routine gets thrown completely off-track and I end up doing the Mommy Walk of Shame dropoff.

Behold these visions of early-morning loveliness:

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Exhibit C (my jammy shirt says "Snuggle") Heh.

Exhibit C (my jammy shirt says "Snuggle Up") Heh.

Exhibit D

Exhibit D - Now this is THE Jammy Run uniform. Note flip-flops.

Arkie Mama: Wordless Wednesday

Thanksgiving, two years ago —

Cece, Tootie, me and the E-man

Cece, Tootie, me and the E-man

This is why my gorgeous stepdaughter is no longer allowed to stand next to me in family photos. She makes me look short and stumpy!

Want to participate in Wordless Wednesdays? Post a photo on your blog with a link back to me. Then I’ll list the links to all Wordless posts here.

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here:

In the Family Way

Baby & the Beasts

Mom on a Wire

Moody Mom, part one

Moody Mom, part two

She’s Crafty

Hugs & Kisses

Wheels on the Bus

Whirligiggles

Arkie Mama: Kudos to Crestwood, NLRISD and the health dept.

One of the school district’s mass flu clinics was held today at Crestwood Elementary. Four schools were involved: Crestwood, Lakewood Elementary, Lakewood Middle School and Indian Hills Elementary.

It was so well organized. Each school was assigned to its own line. When the clinic opened, a group of five families from each line was escorted inside. Each group then went to a specific table to sign their child in and pick up the Health Department forms that had been sent home with kids ahead of time. After signing in, we went to the cafeteria. There were three rows of tables: one for seasonal flu vaccine; one for H1N1 shots; and a third for H1N1 mist.

The clinic volunteers were patient and helpful, and our nurse was fabulous. We handed our forms in at a checkout table and left.

I was one of the first in our school’s line and, once the clinic opened, we were out of there in 15 minutes.

I don’t know how things went once I left, but Principal Lori Smith and her staff & volunteers still seemed to have things well in hand. Turns out they were vaccinating younger siblings too. If I’d known that, I would have brought the E-man to Crestwood and avoided the rain and long lines at the ballpark. (I remain grateful for the many people who staffed that event, however. I sure didn’t envy them having to deal with that enormous crowd, especially in a pouring, drenching rain.)

Thanks to all involved with the Crestwood clinic! It wasn’t nearly as painful as I had feared. And since they had FluMist, Tootie would probably agree with this assessment!