April 15th, 2014

Let It Go

My oldest daughter is in 1st grade. She gets tested weekly on “Dolch Words.” I don’t know why they’re called “Dolch Words,” they don’t seem like anything more than “Spelling Words” to me, but I want to use the proper term because some people will know what I’m talking about, and it always makes me happy when I know what someone is talking about, so I thought I’d pay it forward.

Anyway, we are supposed to work on them every day. We do not. But when we do…I have noticed that she does this when I give her a word to spell:

let it go

 

Keep reading this post »

April 15th, 2014

White People Problems

I started a new blog but shut it down after exactly 2 posts. This post was one of the posts. If you’re already seen it, sorry. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It did pretty well over there and people seemed to like it. At least that’s what they told me.

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I must be out of my mind to start a blog right now. But, I have to. I threw that Introduction to The Family page out there so now there is pressure. Plus, time is passing and I curse myself every single day that I’m not documenting this time in our life. So, with good intentions, I was totally ready to come home, sit down and write for awhile—but I totally forgot all about the construction and demo work starting at my house the very same day.

It is loud. Loud, Loud, Loud. And there’s like men all the over the place. Actually, I think there are only three men, but I swear, no matter where I need to be, they are there. Of course most of the work is being done in the kitchen, and I pretty much spend 90% of my life there, but now, with three fairly large men and myself, there isn’t a ton of room to move because it’s not that big of a kitchen, but also– it’s not that small. So MOVE!!!

But I feel bad because they are all so nice.

Keep reading this post »

April 15th, 2014

White People Problems (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of White People Problems. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but you might want to read Part 1 first.

http://www.dimsumanddoughnuts.com/2014/04/white-people-problems.html

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Before I move on, I feel like I should give a little background. In the last post, I jumped right into our house being under construction but I never said why…

When Cody (my husband) and I were looking for houses before we got married, over 10 years ago (oh, yeah–I’m going THAT far back), it wasn’t so easy for us to pick one. We are very different. My husband is very “Camp Guy.” He’s low maintenance: 30-year-old t-shirts and ripped jeans that didn’t come that way when he bought them. I am the opposite. Keep reading this post »

April 12th, 2014

Old News

Last night, my husband, Cody, told me that I was “old news.” He says NOW that what he MEANT was that my blog, Dim Sum and Doughnuts, was” old news,” not me.

If that is, indeed, what he meant,  I guess he’s kind of right. I did end Dim Sum & Doughnuts and I did stop writing for awhile. But I don’t want DS&D to be old news. It’s just that at that time, it seemed like the right time to end it. My dog died.

Floydie

Keep reading this post »

April 4th, 2014

DS&D (Life After Floyd Coden)

I’m back from my blog break.

 I felt funny continuing DS&D without Floyd Coden, and I even went so far as to start a new blog:

www.justlivintheamericandream.com

but Dim Sum and Doughnuts is home.

So, we’re back!

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Please ”LIKE” us at our Dim Sum and Doughnuts FB Page and get blog updates and other fun stuff! All you have to do is click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/dimsumanddoughnutsblogspotcom/183630368344205

Also, I’m on Twitter too @RobynCoden  (I don’t really understand it, but I’m trying!)

November 11th, 2013

The End of Something

I used to have a dog named Barney. He was named after the store, not the dinosaur.

Barney got sick when he was 9 years old. It was summer/2003. Cody and I were engaged at the time, but he was up at camp. The vet informed me that Barney had cancer and presented me with two choices: We can keep him alive for a few more months (for 5000.00) or he will die.

It was a test. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a test–and not from me, from Barney.

Barney was with me from the time I was 25 until I was 32. A girl can go through a lot of things in 7 years: 5 Cars, 2 cities, 9 homes, 539 pieces of cake, 4 jobs, 1 broken engagement, clothes, friends, boyfriends…and he was with me through all of it. It always came down to me and Barney. But now I was about to get married, in just three short months. M.A.R.R.I.E.D.

Barney needed to make sure Cody was the right guy.

And it was going to cost him 5000.00.

Barney hung tough after he got cancer. During that time, we went back and forth downstate for frequent treatments and he enjoyed his last summer at camp. Barney was with me for all the wedding prep, the parties and the big move to the new house.  It wasn’t until the night before I got married that he decided to die.

I firmly believe that it was a conscious decision on Barney’s part to pick that night. Everything had been pretty much about him from the moment I rescued him, why wouldn’t he take a night that was supposed to be about me and Cody and make it about him? And it wasn’t like he waited until after we left–he dropped as we were, LITERALLY, walking out the door for Rehearsal Dinner.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Who does that??

It was bad.

Really bad.

I still remember it like it was yesterday and quite honestly, I’m crying right now as I write this.

Damn Dogs. I still can’t believe I got another one after him, but I did, and now he’s gone too.

And here I am again.

Crying and missing him terribly.

A month after Barney died, I couldn’t take it anymore. It was time for a new dog. We started the search. We went to Golden Retriever Rescue.

Golden Retriever Rescue of Michigan has a rule that you have to see three dogs before making a final decision. Floyd was in the first foster home we went to. It was the grossest house. It smelled so bad. There were tons of dogs, all over the place. It was chaotic. And then, out of nowhere, Floyd Coden walked up to me with his big block head and his little stubby tail.

He was The Dog. His name wasn’t Floyd at that time. No one actually knew his real name or his history, outside of the fact that someone docked his tail and he had been to 3 or 4 homes before Golden Retriever Rescue got him. The foster lady was calling him “Bobbie” because of his tail. I thought that was really mean. I needed to get him out of there, but there was that rule, that stupid three-dog-rule. I was scared if I wasted my time going to two more foster homes, someone else would scoop up Floyd.

Cody called Golden Retriever Rescue and explained in no uncertain terms that we would be more than happy to make a nice do-na-tion to their or-gan-i-zation if they could just bend the rules this one time.

And that was that.

Hi, Bobbie! Your new name is Floyd Coden. Welcome to the family. No, the couch is not for peeing. I really wish you wouldn’t do that. OK, well, I wanted a new couch anyway. You are going to have a really great life. Hey, can you not eat that? You will come to work with me every day and you will spend your summers at camp. And check this out! Here’s a super comfy new bed for you. Oh, look at that…you’re humping the bed. That‘s certainly interesting. Oh, and this is Dakota (We had a Siberian Husky at the time, he was Cody‘s dog from before we got married). Dakota is going to be your new brother. Try not to get in his way, OK? He might kill you. Well, I think that’s it! Welcome to your new life!

Adopting a dog is interesting because instead of molding him from the very beginning, he will come to you with behaviors that may need modifying. You can either take the time to re-teach or you can accept and accommodate. (It’s actually not that much different from adopting a child). This is what we were told about Floyd when we got him:

He is 2 years old (He was really 3). He loves car rides. He loves the water.

We soon found out that “He loves car rides” was a bit of an understatement. He was a flat- out maniac. It was like he thought he was in a video game or something. He would chase every car that went by while he was still IN THE CAR. He would thrash around like a fish out of water for entire car rides. He never sat down, except to recover for a moment here and there, and during recovery time he would land with his head right on my shoulder and just breathe. And that was so cute, for 30 seconds. But after that time, his big head would get heavy and his tongue would get really long and it would touch me, and his dog breath would fog up my windows and I would start to get a little nauseous. That’s when I would yell “Back off!” which he would interpret as “Go crazy!” and the routine would start all over again.

Things got a little better after Sweet Pea joined our family because I got an SUV. That put a little distance between me and Floyd Coden but when he got tired of running around in circles, he would put his paws over the back seat and eventually end up doing the whole breathing thing next to Sweet Pea. That dog would go entire rides there and back to camp without lying down once. Those trips can last anywhere from 3-½ to 4 hours. He didn’t care.

 

As soon as we would get to camp, Floyd Coden would jump in the lake. Boom. Lake. And then he would roll around in whatever he could find that was dirty. Then he would knock over every garbage can looking for food, and then he would find me.

If I wasn’t walking around camp, I was probably in Cody’s office. I used to work full-time before I had kids and back then I would work from the camp office. There is a swinging door right by where we sat. When Barney was going to camp, he usually hung with Dakota so he would either slide in when Dakota opened the door, or he would just bark until someone got up to let him in. Cody wasn’t interested in getting up a million times for Floyd Coden like he did for Barney, so he taught him early on how to open the door.

I still haven’t decided if that was a good idea or not.

You see, once Floyd Coden learned to open that swinging door, he put the same skill towards opening ALL the swinging doors at Camp Tanuga.

 

For 10 freakin’ summers I had kids coming up to me with a variety of complaints about Floyd Coden:

Kid: Floyd Coden broke into our cabin and ate all of my chocolate chip cookies! My grandma sent them!! There were like 2 dozen cookies in there!

Me: I don’t know what to tell you. You should have put them high, high up so he couldn’t get them.

Kid: I did put them up! He must have jumped up on the bed or something. I don’t know. And they were covered. He ate the cover too!

Or…

Different kid: Um…there is garbage all over our cabin and all over the front porch. Floyd Coden knocked everything over. Garbage is everywhere.

Me: Well, you must have had something in your garbage that he wanted.

Kid: Well, we did have a G’s pizza party with spears and stuff last night…

Me: Geez, looks like that mystery’s solved.

 

And that was Floyd Coden at camp. He had total freedom, until he didn’t. He was placed on probation many, many times each day. Sometimes he would break probation and we would have to put him on Double Secret Probation. He was a bad guy.

 

 

But such a good boy.

When underprivileged, at-risk or special needs kids would come to camp through the Bear Hug Foundation, I can not tell you how many times kids would get off the bus scared stiff of Floyd Coden. “Is that your dog?? Does your dog bite?? Why‘s he so big? Where‘s his tail? Are you sure he doesn‘t bite?” And then 3 or 4 days later they would leave crying because I wouldn’t let Floyd Coden stay on the bus and go home with them.

Never one to waste his free time before probation would set in, Floyd Coden used to love to leave camp and take a walk down Hidden Harbor Road (a road just outside of camp). We would get calls from the people who lived on that road that Floyd was at their house. No, we didn’t have to come get him, they just wanted us to know that they had him and he was fine.

One morning, a little girl was sitting at her kitchen table, crying and upset because her own dog just died, and lo and behold– in walks Floyd Coden. He walked right into their house and right up to that little girl. Poor kid. She was so excited. She thought he was going to be their new dog, but he was just looking to see what they were having for breakfast.

Luckily for us, that family sent Floyd Coden back because we needed him for our own kids. When we left Floyd to go to China for 17 days, he had no idea that we would be returning with a baby. When they saw each other, they were both like What the…?? What are you supposed to be? Sweet Pea was 11 months old and had never seen a dog before and Floyd Coden was more than a little confused when we walked in with a Chinese baby.

He was so good to us during that crazy time of stress and transition. I will never forget how he would come with me every single time I had to go to Sweet Pea’s room–no matter what time or how many times–he came with me and he stayed with me. He stayed through all the freak-outs and all the tears, mine and hers.

 

Lovey was the one who was really close with him though. Floyd Coden was her guy. Even if she just walked out of a room and back in, it was like she hadn’t seen Floyd for days. She was so excited. She loved to squeeze his head and give him her own made-up “Buji Buji’s.” “BUJI BUJI BUJI!!!“ She loved that dog so much. And he felt the same, especially if she was holding food.

 

I used to say that the day I crinkled something in the kitchen and Floyd Coden didn’t come running, that would be the day to say good-bye. Floyd got sick in May, 2013 but we didn‘t see it coming. He wasn’t acting or eating any differently so we had no reason to believe there was anything wrong with him.

Cody tried to explain Floyd’s kidney disease but I couldn’t concentrate, so when the girls and I were up at camp visiting Cody over Memorial Day weekend, Floyd and I went for a walk to one of the campsites and I called the vet. He explained that Floyd’s condition was very serious and he had about two weeks to live.

Two weeks?

I’m sorry. That’s unacceptable.

I looked at Floyd and he wagged his stub and we both decided that two weeks was just stupid.

We told the girls early on in his illness that we needed to appreciate each day with Floyd because he was sick. We told them that he could die soon and to be extra nice to him–all the time. They knew he was sick; they knew he was dying, but he seemed so healthy and he was still so handsome!

 

It was all very surreal. In fact, we all had trouble taking it seriously. If you had met Floyd Coden over the summer, you would never have known that he was sick. He was moving a little slower and his hearing was going, but you wouldn’t have known he was sick. Whenever someone would come up to him at camp and remark about how cute he was, Little Lovey would walk right up to them–hand on hip–and say “You know, he’s DYING. He’s DYING.” It wasn’t funny, but it was because he so wasn’t dying.

But he was.

Cody got the brunt of it. I will never forget all he did to keep our family together. He worked with a great vet up north who taught him how to give Floyd Coden IV’s every other day. In addition, he put Floyd on a very high maintenance diet that sent anyone who might be coming up to camp on a quick trip to the vet to pick up the food Floyd needed. It was a lot of work, but it kept Floyd Coden alive for an unbelievable 5-½ months more than what the doctor predicted.

Even when we got home from camp, Floyd was hanging in there. His back legs were giving out more and more so he fell down a lot, but he still managed to come into the kitchen every time he heard something, he still rolled around and went crazy after a full meal, and he still put his leash in his mouth and walked himself to the bus stop every day.

But then one day, he was done. Cody knew it and I knew it. We could see it in his eyes. I didn’t want to let go but it wouldn’t have been fair not to.

It was time to say good-bye to our very handsome, dumpster-diving, stubby-tail guy. Little Lovey said it perfectly when she said “Saying good-bye is hard, mommy. I wish Floydie could come back to life like princesses, but this is real life.”

And now this is our life, life without Floyd Coden. And there is a hole. A huge, gaping hole. I feel it every morning when Cody and the girls leave and he’s not in the kitchen, hoping something is for him. I feel it every minute when I’m at my desk and he’s not next to me. I feel it every time I walk in the house and he’s not at the door.

I feel that he’s gone and it hurts. Bad.

But as any dog lover will tell you, the hardest part about loving a dog is losing him. It’s a pain like no other. You think you’ll never have another dog as smart or as funny or as perfect as this one, and though you know there will come a time when you will look back and smile instead of cry, that doesn’t ease the hurt you feel now.

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I think it was Ernest Hemingway that said “The end of something is always the beginning of something else.” Or something like that. I should check, but I’m just too tired.  At this time, the end of Floyd Coden, I have also decided that I’m also going to close up shop with “Dim Sum and Doughnuts.” This blog, for me, was about our life as a family, and Floyd Coden was as much a part of that life and this family as Cody or Sweet Pea or Lovey.

My first blog www.codenbaby.blogspot.com was all about adopting Sweet Pea. (Not a plug, just an explanation). Floyd Coden was a major player in our adoption adventures and clueless parenting. After that, www.dimsumanddoughnuts.com was born because I wanted to include Lovey in the fun. It was only natural to start a new blog that included her.

Thank you so much to Will Porter at Porter One Design who made the awesome DS&D logo for me. Will does amazing logo and print work and he is hilarious. Ushka Shaknis, I love you for taking the “profile” photo of me when I wasn’t paying attention. To make me look good, you must be an amazing photographer. (I feel like I just won an award and this is my acceptance speech–but this is the end of my little blog and I have things to say!! Don’t be a hater!) Also, to Demoree and Ellen at EPK Design: You made a beautiful site for me. I’m sorry I didn’t do more with it. I feel in some ways I wasted it, but I have a lot of memories for my girls and my husband. And to the people who “liked” my posts and left comments…you don’t know. Writing takes time and although I’m doing this for my family, the feedback was what kept me going. I can’t thank you enough for making me feel validated.

Please don’t forget us. You know we’ll be back! (I can’t go very long without having something to say…I try, but I can’t).

In the meantime, go buy Eminem’s new CD, eat lots of cake and Go Buckeyes.

Thanks for everything.

I love you guys and I’ve loved these days.

~Robyn

 

 

 

 

 

October 13th, 2013

Bus Stop Talk

I have two daughters, Lovey and Sweet Pea. One is 4. One is 6. One is biological. One is adopted. One is “OK, mommy“…“You got it, mommy“…“I‘m a good girl, mommy!” and one is trying to kill me.

My 6 year old, Sweet Pea, is from China. Before Sweet Pea, every kid I ever saw who was from China was a sweet, mild tempered, smart child. I am telling you, EVERY KID I ever saw who was from China was like that. I figured if I could get a kid like that, I could have a kid like that.

Not so.

Don’t get me wrong. Sweet Pea can be very sweet. If she’s with YOU, she’s all “Um, excuse me, may I please have a napkin, I like your dress” and blah blah blah really sweet and nice… but when she’s with us, she’s not like that. The other day I walked into the kitchen and found little Lovey in a defeated heap on the floor, crying, because Sweet Pea decided she wanted the seat Lovey was in and she figured pushing her off would be the most effective way to get there. I mean….why? WHY??????

And she is smart. I know she’s smart. We talk a lot and she gets it. I mean she GETS it. But then, the other night, she totally freaked me out. Cody and I were on either side of her while she was working on a math homework assignment and she was having major problems. Like MAJOR problems, and it was honestly pretty easy.

Of course I know that first grade homework  might not be easy for her, but trust me, it was easy enough. She was rushing through it. She just wanted to be done so she was totally guessing (and making really bad guesses) but I could tell she just wanted to be done so she could go back to playing Dolls or House or whatever the hell they were playing back there, but no…she needed to do this, for 20 minutes, and she wasn’t even trying! At one point I seriously almost busted out with: What the F is wrong with you?? How are you NOT getting this?? Are you for real right now? But I didn’t. But I think I said some other stuff. I don’t know. I was in the Twilight Zone.

Me: Um…Cody (that‘s my husband)…WTF?????

Cody: I don’t know.

Me: She’s not getting this. How is she not getting this?

Cody: I  don’t know.

Me: Do you think all the other kids are getting this? COOOOOODDDDYYYY… She’s Asian! I mean, I’m SORRY but shouldn’t this be kind of easy for her or at least ON HER LEVEL? She is flat out struggling!!! Omigod…

DID WE MAKE HER DUMB??”

But then I figured it out. It took me a few days but I figured it out.

The teacher told me that Sweet Pea was raising her hand right after she would get done explaining an assignment and say “Um…I don’t get it.”

Oh, no… I don’t think so.

How about maybe LISTENING to the teacher, Sweet Pea? How about maybe PAYING ATTENTION instead of doing your hair and flirting with freakin’ Areg???

Sometimes Sweet Pea makes me so angry that I stay angry for kind of a while. I mean, not too long because she’s only 6 and if I hang on too long, well, that’s just stupid. But sometimes it takes me a little bit.  I’d say if Sweet Pea HAD to pick the smartest time of the day to piss mommy off, that would be morning time, on school days.

In the mornings, I don’t get a lot of time to hold onto my anger. She’s leaving for school in a finite amount of time and who wants to send their kid off to school with an upset mommy?

Not me. I’m no Day-Ruiner.

The thing is, there are mornings, many mornings, when she will do something that makes me mad. Like really mad. I like the mornings where she wakes up on her own. On those days, the chance of her mood being a good one is better than the days when I have to physically go into her room and wake her.

I don’t like those days.

With each step to her room, I feel the impending doom of what lies beneath her covers. It’s almost always never good. But I still try…I put on a brave face and I go in there.

Me: Good morning, love! How was your sleep? Are you excited for today? Today is going to be such a fun day!! You have art today and a good lunch and I’m going to pick you up from school, and then you’re going to have a fun playdate with that friend who doesn’t annoy me, and maybe she can stay for dinner… What do you think? Ok, let’s get up. Ok, honey? Let’s get up.


Her: I’m so tired. I didn’t sleep last night. (That’s a lie, she sleeps like a dead person.) And you don’t know how much work first grade is, I mean we get to school and have to work ALL day and then I take the bus home and it’s like 1700 and 50 million hours and I’m so tired. And then I have SO much homework. You don’t understand. It’s so hard. And I don’t want to get up, I don‘t like getting up. I don’t like school and I don’t like Eminem’s new song!”

UM. I’m sorry.

Me: OK, you listen to me, Miss Thang. I don’t care about all that other stuff, but we do NOT speak ill of Eminem’s new song in this house. Now GET UP. I mean it, NOW. Go potty and get dressed. NOW. We are going to be late and I still need to get your sister up and get her dressed and make you guys breakfast and if you don’t get up NOW I’m going to make you wear jeans for the next three days. And you know I’ll do it.

And even though she, reluctantly, gets up–things don’t usually get better from there. And what’s more, now I‘m in a mood too. Thanks, Sweet Pea! You rule!! Thankfully, I have Little Lovey who is all “Good morning, mommy! I had a dream that a princess came into my room and talked to me and she was so nice and so pretty and I love you and daddy and Floydie and my sister. I love everyone!!“

But even that‘s not enough to get me back to good because Sweet Pea is still “UH-UH-UH, GRUNT GRUNT GRUNT, STOMP STOMP STOMP“ and complaining about  anything and everything and blaming random, weird stuff on Lovey while Lovey isn‘t in the room– or IN THE VICINITY. It‘s all so unbelievable and exhausting and it leads me from “Cheery mommy” to “UGH!!! I can’t believe she would make me this mad in the morning. Why does she do that?? Whatever. I’m SO not being nice to her on the way to the bus stop!!”

Except that never happens because for some reason, no matter what has transpired that morning–no matter what it was that she did that made me so angry, so crazy–when we cross the threshold from the garage to the driveway and Sweet Pea slips her little hand in mine and reminds me to grab a “poop bag” for Floyd Coden, all is forgotten.

It’s the craziest thing.

It’s a clean slate.

The walk to the bus stop is only about 7 minutes from our house, but those 7 minutes are precious. It’s just me and Sweet Pea and Floyd Coden. We have 7 minutes to discuss what happened that morning that made mommy so angry (that usually lasts about 2 minutes). Then we have 1 minute for me to discuss why “Cats in the Cradle” is a hard song for mommy to hear because it reminds me of my dad, but I know she loves it, but maybe we don’t have to listen to it 20 times in a row…? and then we have 4 minutes to talk about how Sweet Pea loves Areg, but she still loves Derek but Derek doesn’t love her, he loves Lydia, but he was throwing rocks at her bus window yesterday so I don‘t know…

Some days we quote lines from “Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse,” or we laugh about something funny Lovey did. Lately, she has been asking about smoking so we discuss how it used to be cool when I was a kid, but now it’s just gross and stinky and nasty and so NOT COOL so DON’T EVER DO IT because it’s disgusting and no one smokes anymore. “Just Say No!” But one quick thing, honey…mommy kind of still has one a day. You see, mommy is sort of grandfathered in because mommy started smoking a million years ago and it was cool, but now it’s not so mommy stopped, except for the ONE, but don’t bug her about it if you value your life, but don’t do it. Ever. Because it’s gross you’ll have yellow teeth and smell bad and hot guys won‘t like you.

We talk about how proud I am of her for having good manners when she’s not with us. (Even though it comes off kind of fake and eventually it’s going to annoy the hell out of her friends because they are going to know that she’s just “turning it on for the parents.” What up, Eddie Haskell?)

But what we talk about most is how FREAKING CRAZY it is that she and I can be so different, but at the same time, so much alike. I mean for the love of GAWD, the kid is from CHINA and from some other person‘s BODY, but in so many ways, we are exactly alike.

It is CUH-RA-ZEE. And then we laugh because it‘s so funny that we‘re so much alike….and then I cry because it‘s so NOT funny that we’re so much alike, and if she continues to be like me, my future is going to be HELL– and then I squeeze her face, give her a kiss and she gets on the bus.

And that’s it. And I miss her so much, I can’t deal.

Until 5 minutes after she gets done with school.

And then I’m convinced she’s trying to kill me again.

 

 

Bus Stop Talk 2

new blog 5

 

June 20th, 2013

Staff Meeting

One of the best things about spending my summers at an overnight camp is the staff. Of course the campers are fun (that’s a given) and we live on the lake (Jackpot!!) but the staff—well, there’s nothing like being around a bunch of people in their 20’s. At home we don‘t see much of that age group. They‘re mostly working or at college. But when camp time rolls around, our lives are inundated with Generation Y and I love it. (Except that the more time I spend looking at them, the more I realize how old I’m starting to look and I do not love that).

I have been coming to Camp for 12 summers now and I’m 42 years old. When I first started dating my husband, I was only about 10 years older than most of the staff so I could hang. I didn’t party with them, I’m not a total loser, but the gap wasn’t so wide that they didn’t invite me. Now I’m old enough to be their mom.

WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? I am old enough to be their mom but I could never be their mom. I’m not there yet. I’m still telling my kids to wash their hands after they pee. How in the hell could I be a mom to a freakin’ 21 year old? I still think I’m 21! If it’s true that you “grow with your kids” (and I don’t know if that’s true or not, I just made it up right now) but if it is true, that is very good news for me because my kids are 4 and 6. Hence, my immaturity still applies.

I am currently in a good place in my life so I don’t mind that I‘m getting older (outside of the fact that my back hurts all the time and my forehead has more lines than a legal pad) but for the most part, I don’t mind. What’s more, I still remember my past lives—especially my 20’s.

Sure, the styles have changed, the music is different, and the world is more technologically advanced—but on balance, things really haven’t changed all that much: Kids still get tattoos in places that are going to look scary when they’re 70, “Beer Goggles“ still have the same prescription, and the girls all have “a very serious boyfriend” until someone hotter comes along.

Please.

Nothing’s changed.

The counselors here are fun because they are also (from what I can see) loving their 20’s.That makes me happy. I want everyone to love their 20’s. It’s such a fun time. You’re in this sort of unsteady place of “elongated childhood.” You’re not quite an adult (but you think you are) yet you’re no longer a child. You don’t have to completely commit to anything because time is on your side, but if you do commit, and you bail, you’re a loser and hopefully you overcome that kind of behavior because this is the time when you start to build character.

Your 20’s are a time of “Adult-Prep.“ What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be with? I, personally, don‘t think your 20‘s is the time to pick the person you‘re going to be with forever (at least not if you’re in your early 20‘s). I think your 20‘s is a time for figuring out what kind of person you want to be with. How can you commit to someone in your 20’s if you’re not completely sure of who you are yet? If you’re convinced that the person you’re with is so perfect, he or she will still be there when you’re done doing what you need to do—and there is a lot that you need to do, because you’re in your 20’s. Oh, you’re 22 and you already know exactly who you are? You’re right, I’m sorry. You do. (No, you don’t).

I remember my 20’s as a time when I didn’t need a lot to make me happy. I needed my friends, “Stupid Movie Night,” and a Bill Knapps cake for my birthday. My needs were very simple. I didn’t need a lot of money and I didn’t need a lot of sleep.

Now I need both.

Thankfully, I am reminded of my 20’s every day during the summer because I’m surrounded by a ton of kids who are that age. Our camp staff rounds out to mostly kids in their 20’s. Some of them we have history with so when my girls and I see them after a long off-season, a huge hug and a game of “Break the Pickle” makes it seem like just yesterday. Some of them are new and we love when they introduce themselves, but we understand when they don’t. We’ll get to them sooner or later and we will undoubtedly adore them (unless they suck and then we won’t). But what a life for us to be surrounded by this group of 20 somethings, these people of tomorrow who chronologically make up the perfect age split between me and my kids.

How lucky are we?

When I’m at Camp, I never have to schlep my luggage or carry my bags because if “V Rockin’ Cool” sees me, he will always offer to do it. When I’m here, my kids are always included on boat rides because the Waterfront staff knows how much they love being by the water. And when I’m here, I love how safe I feel letting my kids and Floyd Coden roam camp knowing there is always someone around who has an eye on them.

Little Lovey (my 4-year-old) currently has two “boyfriends” at camp and they are both in their 20’s. A 20 year age difference might normally be frowned upon in this country, especially if one of the kids is 4-years-old, but Camp has its own set of rules. One summer, in fact, when my other daughter, Sweet Pea, was four, she almost made it down the aisle to marry her longtime love, ScottyG. He was around 26 years old and he was a Unit Director (Sweet Pea is so power hungry). Unfortunately for the groom, Sweet Pea bailed at the last minute and ran to her daddy—but that wedding, at the flag pole, with a wedding party and the whole camp in attendance, was an event to be remembered.

During our time here, I get two nannies. (Stop it. I know that sounds fancy but it’s really not. I just get nannies. I would never have them at home but I need them here.) Anyway, I have been unbelievably fortunate in the nanny department because almost every single one of the girls we have had have done nothing but enrich the lives of my girls and my family. They are our family. I can’t even begin to explain my love for these girls except to say it will make you barf. Thankfully, this season, we are completely in love again. I’m just not sure if Cody hired them for our girls or for me.

Actress Nanny: (standing in our cabin, wearing really cute boots, kicks up a leg and shows me the boots): Aren’t these boots cute?

Me: Yes, SO cute. Where did you get them? (A little skeptical because she is in her 20’s and, as it should be when you’re in your 20’s–her ass is broke).

Actress Nanny: I got them at one of those dollar stores in Kalkaska (the town outside of where camp is).

Me: No, you didn’t. I want them.

Bama Nanny: (My other nanny. She’s from Alabama.): So cute right! They were only 20.00!!

Me: 20.00?? Take me. NOW.

And they did. We begged and pleaded for Sweet Pea and Lovey to come with us, but they had no desire to leave camp, so we left them there. The store didn’t have my size but an 8 is close to a 7 when it comes to 20.00 boots and you better believe I bought them and I’m going to ROCK them (but probably only once because they should fall apart shortly thereafter).

The Kitchen Staff is also very important. The K-Staff needs to be fun, not just for camp, but for me. I spend a lot of time in the Mess Hall and in and around the kitchen. I love food, especially the food at camp. In fact, I like food so much that over the past few summers I have been recruiting “Finishers.“ (A “Finisher” helps me from gaining the Tanuga 20 by letting me take a few bites of something I really, really want and then, he eats the rest. I love my “Finisher” and I hope he enjoyed his Choco Taco). Anyway, The K Staff needs to know me and they need to love me. Actually, they don’t even need to love me, they just need to act like they do and I’m good with that.

There is always action at the trapeze so it never fails to be a good place to hang out. (We have a trapeze at Camp, crazy right?) One of the trapeze guys is named Spencer. This is Spencer’s 3rd summer at camp. When I tell you that Spencer is ripped, he is RIPPED. So, of course I am all over him about it. He’s a bit older than the rest of the staff so it’s not quite as gross and perverted as it would be if he were 22, but still, where else but camp can you sexually harass an employee EVERY SINGLE TIME you see him, and not only does he not care, but he doesn’t even notice? My own kids are so immune to my bugging Spencer that they honestly believe his given name is “Spencer-Take-Your-Shirt-Off!”

And then comes our Camp Driver. I mean, where do I start? For as long as I can remember, the Camp Driver (aka “Thinggetter”) has been a part of our family, even before we were a family. One of our past Camp Drivers (also a “Finisher” by the way) is getting married (at camp—to one of our former nannies!!) in August and my girls are his flower girls. Another one of our old Drivers was just at our house playing “school” with my daughters, and another one of our Drivers still thinks he can beat me at rummicube after all these years, but he’s wrong. Our current Driver is so special that I wish he was my son and I’m ready to fight his mom anytime, anywhere.

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Anyone who owns a business knows that your business is only going to be as good as your staff… and I want our current staff and past staffs to know how much I appreciate all the hard and “heart” work they do for us. I love you all.

Unless you suck.

And then I don’t.

April 17th, 2013

Do The Right Thing

The other day, one of my friends told me to listen to Dennis Prager on Talk Radio AM 1400.

Do you know who Dennis Prager is?

I didn’t. My friend mentioned him once and told me that he talks about relationships, and that he’s really smart, so OK, I gave it a shot.

I only had time to listen for about 10 minutes, but he was good. He gave positive, sound advice and he came off very “wise.“ He is the guy who basically tells you to do the right thing. Most of the time, you already know what that is, but he tells you anyway and for some reason, when he tells you, it makes you want to do it. When I was done listening, I asked my friend if Dennis Prager is Jewish. He “sounded” Jewish. (You probably won’t know what that means unless you’re Jewish). My friend told me that he used to be a Rabbi.

Uh huh.

I knew it.

I turned Dennis Prager on again today when I was on my way to pick little Lovey up from pre-school and though he wasn’t talking about relationship stuff, he brought something up that I found kind of interesting:

He brought up a hypothetical situation (at least I think it was hypothetical, I didn’t catch the beginning of the show) of two Republican Senators talking in private while, unbeknownst to them, they were being recorded–and then the recording was leaked to a Republican newspaper.

HOLY SHIZZLE.

How cool would it be to hear or read that conversation? It’s like a behind the scenes look at real politics before the polished version hits the public. It’s flat-out RAW. Oh, the drama!!!

Of course I would have wanted to hear it.

But then Dennis Prager (the wise one) brought up a valid point:

Do we really have the right to hear what happens behind the scenes? Do we really want to?

And that got me thinking…

Do we truly want to know everything that goes into a political decision or is it better to be on a need-to-know basis?

Think about it: We already have a lot going on in our lives. Should we be burdened with political scrambles when it’s not our job?

In addition, how would you feel if you were having what you THOUGHT was a private conversation only to find out that it wasn’t so private? How violating is that? Think about how you act in private. Take a minute and really think about it.

I’m sure you’re good most of the time, but sometimes, just sometimes, I bet you’re not.

And what if that got out?

OY.

But this is politics!

Maybe if our leaders were being watched, or at least knew they ran that risk, maybe they would think twice about some of the decisions that they make.

If you were being watched, wouldn’t you think twice about what you say and the decisions you make?

Take reality television shows. The people on those shows know they’re being watched. Even at their worst, I would think that they must have some semblance of cognizance.

But is that good for politics?

Politics is not a reality show. I’m not sure if we should be privy to all the steps involved before a decision is reached.

Isn’t knowing everything maybe just a little too much?

Or no?

When it comes to politics, the decisions being made do, after all, affect us. That’s something to think about.

This is all a lot to think about. I know. I have been thinking about it for days… My head hurts. And now, so does yours.

Sorry.

It’s interesting to me that this all came up on Dennis Prager’s show because I feel that if I brought this subject up to him, he would probably say that it doesn’t matter if we’re being watched.

As long we do the right thing.

March 21st, 2013

Prep Work

Since my daughter started kindergarten I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to meet the parents of the other kids—not because I’m shy, but because I suck. There are a few moms, however, that I have become friendly with. I met one early in the school year. She came up to me and complimented my purse. She is my favorite.

Not too long ago, she told me something that really upset me. She told me that an older kid was making fun of her daughter (also in kindergarten) because when she bent over, her underwear showed.

REALLY??

I mean, I guess it doesn’t take much when you’re in elementary school but, come on. She’s a little kindergartener! What kind of kid makes fun of a kindergartener? How lame can you get??

Of course, when the mom told me, my first instinct was to go to the school and beat the crap out of the mean kid. But then I remembered that I probably shouldn’t do that because I’m almost 42 years old and also, “Underwear Girl” isn’t mine.

I felt so bad for the mom and “Underwear Girl.” I know in the grand scheme of things, getting made fun of for a little wardrobe malfunction isn’t the end of the world, but for “Underwear Girl” —at that time—it probably felt like it was. What do you do? What do you tell her? How do you move past the incident and learn how to deal with mean kids all at the same time? It was all too much and I walked away from the conversation only too happy that I didn’t have to deal with that crap just yet.

But then I did.

A week or so later MY kindergartener, Sweet Pea, told me that some second grader told her that she has “elf ears.”

Um, I’m sorry. WHAT???

Some kid told Sweet Pea that she has elf ears.

I will kill that kid. I will pull HIS ears off and I will shove them in his back pockets so he can hear better when I’m KICKING HIS ASS.

The thing is…he’s not wrong. She does kind of have elf ears. It’s from when she lived in the orphanage and she was in a crib all day. I think the babies were only taken out of their cribs for an hour a day…(Actually, I can‘t remember if that is how it was in her orphanage or if that is how it is in prison…I think it’s both). Anyway, the way she slept…in the crib—it messed up her ears. No biggie. We’re Jews. We take care of that stuff and besides, financially it’s a wash since she won’t need a nose job. But whatever, that stupid second grader does not get to make fun of Sweet Pea. NO WAY.

But what can I do? I can’t go down to the school and ”Tom Petty” him like the mom in “This is 40.”  (Or can I? I don’t think I can). All I can do is explore and decompress the situation with her so she is a little more prepared next time.

In fact, as parents, that’s pretty much all we can do about any situation. We can expose, explore and prepare to the best of our abilities.

The trick, though, is to prepare them not for the world WE lived in, or the world we WISHED we lived in, but for the world we ACTUALLY live in.

We need to get realistic about our world.

Our current world.

When I was growing up, my parents worried about us drinking and driving (well, my dad probably didn’t worry—he was too busy drinking and driving) but my mom worried. She was a worrier. She was the up-all-night worrier.

Well, guess what, mommy? Drinking and driving? That was so 1987. You know what we got? We have drinking, driving and TEXTING.

When my girls and I were at the police station recently (I had to bring some of the officers cookies because I thought someone stole my wedding rings and they spent a lot of time with me and they spent a lot of time on my case and they had a really good lead… and then I found them) we were walking out and there was a poster of a bad car crash with a dummy all busted up. The girls were all over me about the poster: “Mommy, what happened to THAT guy???”…”Do you know him?”… ”Is he dead?…Dead like Puppa Louie???”…and I told them that is what happens when people text and drive at the same time.

So what that they can’t text or drive right now. I don’t care. That poster was so gruesome, it’s going to take the jaws of life to remove it from their memories. In fact, anytime a car accident comes up in conversation Sweet Pea says…”Oh, like the guy at The Cop Shop? The guy in the poster???”

Start young and go strong.

That’s my motto. No topic off limits. Get it ALL out there.

I’m certainly no expert (I laugh even as I write that) but I feel like there’s no such thing as too much prep work. So when Sweet Pea came home telling us about the “Elf Ears” incident, we asked her how she responded so we could better prepare her for next time. (Because even if it’s not “Elf Ears,” it will be something and there will be a next time).

Sweet Pea: I didn’t do anything.

Me: Honey, if you don’t do anything, the mean kids will know you’re a target.

Lovey: You should have told him that you were taking a time-out from him!

Daddy: I’ll kill him.

Me: You should have just said “You know what? You’re a LOSER and by the way, you’re a LOSER.”

Daddy: I’ll kill him.

Sweet Pea: What if I just tell him that he is a bully?

And that silenced all of us because, well, that’s a good one.

So, we role-played Sweet Pea calling the loser kid a “bully.” We role played all through dinner. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse. And then we had her tell us all what to do because I figure the best way to learn is to teach.

And then we sent her back out in the world, because we have to.