Momaical is a humorous look at trying not to raise a flock of assholes. Cursing & copious coffee involved.

Momaical: [mom-mahy-uh-kuhl] = (Hybrid of Mom and Maniacal.)

8.28.2013

Kindergarten Screening (aka Mommy torture)

Ok, I'm still trying to navigate full time employment, Mommyhood, cleaning, cooking, wifing and the rest of winging my way through my Momaical life. So, my brain is dead but I'm super excited about tomorrow's classes! We are learning about Salvador Dali and making clay Dali clocks. Should be really fun! Anyway - I'm pulling this out from last summer when Lena was being tested for kindergarten and how I almost got thrown out of the event.


I sat there; teeth clenched, white knuckled, and unable to speak.  A single bead of sweat slowly rolls down my temple and drips onto my shirt.  I unknowingly knot and unknot my fingers in an anxiety-laden pattern.  I try to control my breathing, but it’s an exercise in futility. 

I am watching my daughter take her kindergarten screening test.  I’m pretty sure this type of torture is outlawed as per the Geneva Convention.
It feels like everything that we have worked on since infancy is now being called into question.  Do you know your birthday? What do you use your eyes for? What’s missing in this pattern?  I want to encourage and remind her that she knows these answers!!! but cannot speak – as I have already passed kindergarten and it’s now her turn. 
“Mr. Sam” is very calm and kind in his questioning:  "Can you count these boxes out loud?"  "She can not only count them out loud - but she can do it in Spanish!  Show him Lena! Blow him away with your intelligence - he will probably want to recommend you for Mensa right now!   Oh...not me?  Yes, I can settle down over here.  Ok, well, take it away Lena..."
"Can you tell me which of the objects are different?"  Good, good, NO!!!! NOT THAT ONE!  Slow down and pay attention! I feel my face contorting as I scream in my head.   But I am powerless, mute and trying to control a wiggly one-year-old. 
"What color is this?"  Lena: “Um, brown?”  One-sided conversation in my head: "BROWN??????  THAT’S SO OBVIOUSLY RED! God!  Who is your clearly negligent mother??? Oh, right, ME! Crap.”
Lena continues on answering the questions - oblivious to the internal struggle that I am battling.  She sometimes surprises me with what she knows and other times surprises Mr. Sam.   She knows how to spell her whole name.  She knows where she lives and where the “smoke goes up” in the fireplace - chimney.  She gets binoculars but misses microscope (oh, whatever, we’re not “sciency” people in this household.) She is able to match words and draw pictures with detail (probably more than anyone wanted with and entire story about her friend Gwyneth and how she has the craziest, awesome hair and here we are holding hands and singing). Even Emmeline joined in – echoing Lena’s responses and “helping her” count (eight, nine, eleven, twenty!).
After 7,000 excruciating hours, the testing finally comes to an end.  Lena skips off to color as I try to compose myself.  I am shaking like a leaf and blame it on a non-existent double espresso. Marilyn Manson has called to inquire as to who my makeup artist is.    Emmeline is digging for “tweasure” in a potted fern.  I’m ready for a nap and it is only 9:15 am.  9:15?!? Wait? That torture only took 15 minutes?  Man.  Good thing I’m not in the CIA.  I’d have cracked in less than a minute.  Secrets?  Why sure – here’s my computer.  Would you like my Facebook password as well?
The ordeal is over.  Lena has passed and been accepted into this school.  When we were getting into the car she asked what I thought.   I informed her that I was so proud of how well she did, and the only thing I saw that she answered incorrectly was when she answered “brown” instead of “red.”  Lena replies “Oh, I knew that Mommy.  I was just messin’ with Mr. Sam.” “Oh.  Mint.  Great time to show Mr. Sam how freakin’ funny you are” I not-so-silently mumble to myself  as I pull out of the school’s parking lot.  Lena replies: “Yeah, I know.  I just like to keep people on their toes.  I’m a piece of work, huh Mommy?”  “Yes, Lena.  Yes you are.”

8.26.2013

ITPR Today

Scanning the room, my periphery vision spots something that draws my attention. Breathing deeply, I dare to look again, hoping to catch an eyeball of delicious.

Oh. Wow.

Butterflies tickle my insides and I feel my hypothalamus kick into overdrive. My heart quickens. I want to tear my eyes away but I keep staring unabashedly. I know it's wrong. I made a COMMITMENT—but sometimes temptation overrides the senses, stifling your inner angel that tells you to JUST WALK AWAY.

How do I handle the urge - even if NO ONE WILL EVER FIND OUT?

 Read more at In The Powder Room.....Is It OK To Cheat If No One Finds Out?
 

8.21.2013

What You May Not Know About Your Teenager

On the first day of school I ask my students to complete a questionnaire about themselves. I have 175 students to teach - so it takes me a while to get to know them all personally. I ask a battery of questions not only about their likes and dislikes IN school - but also outside of school, like: "What's the most difficult thing you've dealt with?" and "Who supports your successes and failures?"

In the honest answering of these questions, I learn a lot about my students. We all know teenagers can be moody, surly, and hormonal. And high school can be a whole lot of hideous. Many kids are dealing with a ton of crap outside of school too. So, why make coming to my class one more odious detail in their already stressful lives?

Some of their answers were obvious - favorite part of school (friends, lunch), least favorite (homework, tests). But some surprised me at the maturity exhibited.

I asked about how I can help them to learn. Here's what the majority answered:

Structure
Expectations
Patience
Control of Class
Consequences for misbehavior
Review of Lessons Multiple times
NO WORKSHEET TEACHING
Repetition
HUMOR
Fun projects and interactions
A teacher who loves kids, the subject and wants to be there

You kids WANT to learn. They want to be liked by their teacher and for the teacher to have the PATIENCE to get to understand them, their struggles, their successes and help them to grow. They don't want to be embarrassed in front of their peers (um, who does, really?). They will come to a class and do the work if there's something in it for them. I don't mean money for grades. I don't mean bribes. I don't mean show a video about cute animals instead of teaching. They are there to learn. And they CAN be taught just about anything - if you teach TO them with patience, control and kindness.

They also want a teacher who knows what they're talking about and loves the subject matter. I am not delusional thinking every student who enters my classroom will be a translator for the UN. But they will leave with more knowledge than which they came. And, if they play by my rules, they will have a fun time and a front row seat to my twisted sense of humor. They are people and deserve to be treated as such.

Think about the last conference you went to or lengthy meeting. Did the presenter teach you something or did you think the entire time that this meeting is a complete waste of time and you have far more important things to do than sit here (like get back to Candy Crush)?  I guarantee that if the presenter was engaging - you didn't mind being there. EVEN if you were learning about something that has nothing to do with your job. Your children are in meetings ALL DAY LONG. If they are just being handed worksheets to complete over and over and over - uh - suckitude. Of course your child would rather be Facebooking or texting friends. Who wouldn't? Can you sit through that entire meeting without wiggling, wanting to get up to use the rest room to break up the monotony, or checking your phone? NEITHER CAN THEY.

So, have some patience with them when it comes to school. We all know terrific teachers and some educators who would be better served as prison wardens or giant paper weights. Help your babies learn how to play the game of school (and life) to survive the crappy classes/teachers/bosses. Talk to the teacher first - let them know your concerns. Don't make excuses for your child not doing homework or belligerent behavior toward the teacher  - after all going to school is their job at this age. Sometimes the teachers just don't know what's going on behind the scenes or that your child is feeling a certain way. If that doesn't help - THEN let someone know at the school.

In a time when budgets are chopped to nothing - rally against the bad teachers to get good ones in. The parents DO have power - and it should be wielded carefully. No - you should not freak out because the cafeteria stopped serving chicken patties. YES you should support good teachers and work with the administration to get rid of the bad ones. Because this is the only education/structure/patience/attention some kids are going to get. You might as well make their time with you worthwhile. That's what they are looking for as well.

Oh, and they also want to learn how to swear in Spanish. Which they will NOT learn in my class. At least, not intentionally.



Husband: "YOU SPENT $65 AT MICHAELS?"
Me: "Uh, yeah. You can't learn about Salvador Dali without making clay melting clocks!" 


The Persistence of Memory - Salvador Dali
Here are a few examples of the surrealist clock movement in my classroom:




8.19.2013

Workin' Hard for My Money

Well, I survived my first week back to teaching. I have a ton to write about - but I'm still suffering from a case of fried egg brain. So - I hope to fill you in as soon as possible. A few good things in the blogging world for me though that I'd like to brag about:

1. My latest book, You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth is a BEST SELLER! If you haven't had a chance to pick it up - please do. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. If you DO have it and enjoy it - please write a quick little review about it on Amazon. It really boosts the ratings and gives me street cred. Because, a hardcore gangsta like me needs copious amounts of cred. Granted, most gangstas don't use vernacular like "copious" but my gang is a bunch of nerds. We hang out at the library.

2. I was chosen as one of the Top 10 Funniest Moms On the Web by Parent Society along with a bunch of really awesome ladies. I was completely shocked - and I found out on my first day back to work. Seriously a kick ass way to start my newest chapter!

3. My girls have had an excellent transition into this change in our lives too. Which is terrific for all of us. But, I have missed out on some pretty funny stories about the girls - but every good thing has a few downsides, no?

And, in my personal life, I have learned some really difficult news. I talk about it today on In The Powder Room.  Please head over and check it out. It's a rare serious one for me.
http://www.inthepowderroom.com/read/me-time/2013-08-cancer-sucks.html

I'm working on a piece about my teenagers. It's been a great first week but BOY am I freakin exhausticated. Putting on the Tracy show for 6 hours a day is very tiring.   Thanks for sticking with me through this transition. As soon as things become a little more routine - I'll be back with stories to help make you laugh.

xoxoxox Tracy 

8.14.2013

Roaring Dandelions

Today is my first day of work - so I'm resurrecting one of my favorite Lena stories. This was published when I first started this Momaical site - so it will be new for some and a repeat for others. 

Emmeline received the book Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen for Christmas. It is her absolute favorite book - therefore we read it 56,000 times a day. In the story a lion enters a NYC public library.  It's welcome to stay and enjoy the benefits of the library as long as it doesn't break any of the established rules. The lion comes every day to listen to story time and help with odds and ends. One day, the head librarian falls off a stool and fractures her arm. She asks the lion to go get help for her. The lion tries to get the attention of the lame librarian lackey. But, he hates the lion and is always trying to get the lion jettisoned from the library. So, the lion does the only thing that he can think of - he roars very loudly. The tool walks at a brisk pace (because running in the library is against the rules) to go tattle tale on the lion for breaking the no noise rule. The lion leaves the library for good, because he knows that he has broken the rules. Long story short, everyone is sad. Loser lackey goes looking for the lion and tells him that it's sometimes ok to break the rules if it's for the greater good. Lion returns, everyone is happy.



Emmeline knows this book backwards and forwards. She gets so excited to roar when the lion does in the book. And, she has the absolute cutest little roar! As you can imagine, it's extra ferocious coming from a chubby cheeked cherub.  

One afternoon we were playing in the backyard. All of the dandelions were beginning to dry out and turn to seed. Lena was running around in the grass making wishes on hers as the wind carried away the white wisps of hope. Emmeline brought a handful back to me. Trying to get her to do her cute little roar, I say "Emmeline - these are called dandelions. What do you think dandelions say?

Lena answers "Blow me."




8.12.2013

The Job Search Black and Blues

Today is the start of my new job. It took me sending a hundred billion resumes to find this one. I'm so grateful and excited that this is the one I I describe my frustration with the whole search process today on In the Powder Room. Thankfully - it ends well but it was a disparaging several months. Wish me luck....


8.08.2013

My Big, Exciting Announcement!

It's really amazing that I have been able to keep my mouth quiet for this long. I mean, I can't keep a secret to save my life. As soon as the words "don't tell anyone" hit my ear - it's as if something gets triggered in my little brain that makes the words jump around on my tongue and kick my teeth trying to get out.

But, I did it. And now I can finally share the news with you. Many months ago I was asked to contribute to a book through the fantastic, kick ass site In the Powder Room. But, how does a little, tiny fish compete with the powerhouses that write for ITPR and others approached to submit pieces?

Well, I decided that I would talk about a little known epidemic plaguing the world: the weird things that happen behind the closed doors of the ladies' locker room. There are so many highly disturbing occurrences that need to be exposed. And I am just the woman to do it in my essay The Gym: A Place for Muscles and Gag Reflexes Go To Workout.  (As a little glimpse into my Momaical brain - I usually don't think my pieces are all that funny. And after reading them several times to edit them - they are decidedly NOT funny. But this one I laughed at while writing and editing it. So - I truly hope you enjoy it!)

And it was accepted to be a part of the book:

"You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth" and Other Things You'll Only Hear from Your Friends In The Powder Room


The thing is about this anthology is that it's written by a group of great women writers. It's not all giggles. It's not all serious. It's certainly not a book you grab for self help or advice. It's just a really good read - with a lot of laughing mixed in. One you should pick up. You can get a physical copy or an electronic copy to read on your smart phone, tablet, Kindle or computer - whatever!  Please let me know what you think. And, if you love it - share the link! Also, should you be so inclined - writing a positive review about it on Amazon really helps boost our sales.

Thanking you again for all your support.

"You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth" and Other Things You'll Only Hear from Your Friends In The Powder Room


Here are the bios of all the talented writers involved - hilarious lipstick pictures involved....

8.07.2013

Summer Reruns

I'm getting ready to start my new job - EEK - so I'm continuing my series of reruns. Here's one from last summer when I attempted to get in shape. And learned I'm clearly too immature.

You Want Me To Do WHAT with That Belt???

I have had enough of feeling fat and gross. I had fluffed up during the winter. It was time to take action!  We belong to an amazing health club - so I really have no excuse. I could blame kids, moving, lack of time...but really I just fell into a rut. It was time to climb out and take responsibility for my weight loss instead of lamenting my 5 (ok 10) pounds of self-esteem crusher. I have set the goal of my wedding weight and am giving myself 3 months to achieve this. So, Monday began the Summer of Tracy!

I'm going to start with yoga. I have a tendency to go all crazy in the beginning and then grow tired of it in a few weeks. To combat this, I am easing my way into the gym. The first class went well. I remembered the poses and wasn't mortifyingly out of shape. I left feeling invigorated and ready to do this!

Day two - yoga again. I grab my mat, my water and am ready to get my namaste on. We arrive and the instructor tells us to grab a belt, block and a roller. They also always want us to get a blanket (Ew! I find the blankets creepy!). But, always the eager student (or lemming) I follow suit and then place it away from me in case there are any bugs or sweaty yogi yuck on it.

The instructor then begins to explain what we are going to do with all these props. I guess I didn't read the fine print of the class closely enough. Apparently I was taking the 50 Shades of Grey Yoga class.

She started off by having us tie the belt into a loop which we hooked first under our feet - the soles of our feet were pressed together. Next, we tied the belt around our lower backs - making us look like a group of awkward frogs. Then we had to place the roller under our shoulder blades while lying down on the mat. We had the block under our heads like hard pillows. We are supposed to be opening ourselves up, relaxing and finding our center. I can't stop laughing at how completely inappropriate I feel. I mean, I'm all tied up, curled over a roller with my head on a block. The class looks like a B (or C or D) grade porn. Bom chicka wah wah!

"Take a deep breath in and release all that is binding you." Binding you? Bahahahahaha!  All these people are taking deep breaths and following with gravelly exhalations. A few moans even escape. And here I am, giggling like a teenager at this whole experience. I cannot wait for this S&M, I mean yoga class to end. Are people standing outside Studio 1 (apparently aka the Mirrored Room of Pain) watching this?!? Probably, because it was the 5:30 pm class and the gym is packed!

Did it stretch out my back? Absolutely. It worked beautifully on my upper back and realigned my spine in my lower back. So, clearly it was a good stretch.

I guess I'm still too immature to take yoga. Sigh. Back to the treadmill...or the snack bar. Drinking a protein shake is the same as exercising, right?

8.06.2013

Arguing with my Husband

My husband and I rarely argue. But when we do - it's usually about THIS. And it's never pretty.

Go check it out - the argument rundown is up today on In The Powder Room.



8.05.2013

The Universe Has Spoken

For a little while I dared to dream. I thought I GOT this. I am going to write, my hilarity will be discovered and then someone will pay me bucketfuls of money for my blather. So I began to write and beg people to read my stuff. And hanging out on the social media corner like a $3 whore.

And, it worked. Sort of. I got a few paid gigs. My name got out there within a few really awesome writing groups. But the whole "what's next" just really never came. No chariot arrived with hundreds of gold bars to bribe me to write for their publishing company. No real pay. No real gig.

So, I thought - well, maybe the universe just doesn't KNOW I'm ready to get into the next big thing. So, I blanketed the universe with my resume. Any remote work from home writing open job rec was graced with the history of Tracy plastered all over. Write? Sure! Edit, uh, yeah! Project direct? ALL. DAY. LONG.

Crickets.

Ok. Let's try broadening my search: social media, press releases, write blog posts. Applied. Applied. And applied some more.

Crickets.

I began to get desperate. I threw my hat at jobs that were ridiculous: Write 500 word posts for $5! Promote our product on line! Lick these envelopes and try not to die from toxic glue! I needed some validation that this year and a half of blogging hasn't been totally in vain. The universe was speaking to me BUT I DON'T SPEAK UNIVERSE!

It takes 45 minutes to complete the application - to never hear from them again. I had a few interviews that felt positive and...crickets.

Depression kicked in. I'm a highly educated, intelligent and driven woman. I have almost 20 years of work experience. I have amazing references. And I can't get a job to save my life. Except for apparently cricket hoarding.

My husband sent me one application to consider: teaching at a school in our town. At this point I thought I had hung up my teaching sombrero. New state = re-certification (read: thousands of hours tied up in state crap) - so who would want me? But I did love teaching and my kiddos. Well, what could it hurt, really? What's one more rejection in a sea of loser-dom?

Well. The Universe has spoken in a way I now understand. No one really wants me as a writer - apparently I was WAY more legendary in my own mind. But I AM a pretty kick ass teacher. That one resume tossed into the abyss - got me a job! I'm going back to teaching! High school is calling. Or do they Skype now?

Anyone have some iPads they want to donate so we can jump into 21st century learning????
I'll still be here - harboring the not-so-secret hope that maybe someone will actually like my flapping and want to dump money, chocolate and Burberry in my lap. But if it seems like I've disappeared - it's because I have my head in a Spanish book or two.  Or I've been eaten by crickets. Either way - still send Burberry. And chocolate. And money is cool too....

8.01.2013

My Hobby is Trying to Kill Me. Or is it My Husband?

I believe my husband has taken out a very large insurance policy on me because he keeps trying to kill me under the guise of "hobbies".

Check out my near death experience on In The Powder Room: 

My Hobby Is Trying To Kill Me

Old Is The New New - Or Something Like That

Still getting ready for my job in the real world - so I'm pulling out some oldies from when I first started writing.  Hope you enjoy a slice of my Momaical morning.

Oh No You Didn't...

"Mumma!  Mumma!"  I crack open my eyes and attempt to focus (which is extremely difficult since I have 20/475 vision). I cast my legs out from under the wonderful cocoon of warmth, trying to propel myself in the direction of the fire, catastrophe or impending disaster – whatever is going on in Emmeline’s room to make her scream in such a wretched way. I stumble down the hallway (still legally blind, as in my dazed state I neglected to grab the spectacles), cursing silently as I step on a block. “Just. Don’t. Wake. Your. Sister!!!!!!!” I hiss between clenched teeth. I finally arrive, just in time to save Emmeline from her prison. She is so grateful that she hugs me for dear life and offers up a binky for my efforts. I pass on the tribute – as I have given up binkies for Lent. We walk back to my room, trying to sneak in a few more minutes of tranquility before the calamities of the morning beckon. Emmeline is babbling on about “dweams” of ponies and tigers – about nine decibels louder than necessary. Perhaps she is trying to relay her story to the neighbors without having to repeat herself?  “Shhhh, Honey!” I whisper, trying to get her to diminish the cacophony.

I plunk her into the middle of my oasis, and crawl in for a few more blissful minutes. She snuggles in, cuddling close and hugging me so tightly. These are some of my absolute favorite moments in the entire world. They are so sweet, so precious, and so short-lived – they are what make being a mom all worth it.  My husband tries to say good morning to us, which is cataclysmic. Shouts of “NO!  MY MOMMY!” echo down the hallway. Oh. No. She’s done it. The calm before the storm is now over. Batten down the hatches everyone. 
Lena emerges, very disheveled. She has channeled Ke$ha during the middle of the night.  Her hair; a nest of asps. She apparently slept in a pile of glitter. She somehow changed out of her feety-pajamas and into some nightgown that she outgrew two years ago – not even sure where she found it.  Perhaps she was sleep-foraging in the garage? In a very subdued voice she answers the threat with her own retaliation: “No. She’s my mommy.” 
Well, that just about pushes Emmeline over the edge. The gloves are off. The gauntlet has been thrown. Full blown argument emerges as the bed morphs into a king sized ring. My husband and I try to referee – but it’s really hard to see beneath the covers and with all the appendages flying. Shouts of “Not yours, mine!” bounce off the walls. Threats of expulsion from the bed, from the family, from Earth are expounded. At one point, someone tries to bite my ear off. Finally, after several bells and some smelling salts, both collapse in a sweaty, heavy-breathing heap on top of the comforter. 

The joke's on them: It turns out I am both of their mothers. And I want them to get dressed. 

This is the anti-venom that should have been pulled from the arsenal before Fight Club broke out. Rule #1 about Fight Club is it doesn't exist. Rule #2 about Fight Club is make everything a nightmare for Mommy when she wants us to get ready for the day. The two scatter like mercury off the bed and run off into the distance shouting "I'm wearing a gymnastics leotard and my cowboy boots to school today and you can't stop me because you get what you get and you don't get upset. Bahahahaha!" "Yeah!  I wearin' stwipes! Yots of stwipes." I guess the joke's on me. I gave birth to kids who don't know how to dress without looking like they just crawled out of an institution for the criminally insane. 

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