8 Children’s Shows That are Making me Crazy

My oldest child is almost 10. Which means I’ve been exposed to the annoying barrage of children’s programming for 10 years. 3,650 days of the talking animals, the sing-song-repetitive bullshit, the nonexistent story-lines, and the guest-stars. When it comes to kids shows I’ve seen them all, from Barney to Blue’s Clues, Upside Down Show to Sesame Street, I’m a walking episode guide. I will stop at nothing for 22 minutes of downtime from this crazy-train called Motherhood.

Now, before you come at me with the suggestions of the American Academy of Pediatrics and their proposal for limiting, if not, eliminating television access for children under the age of 2  please understand: I really don’t care. The AAP isn’t living my life, or raising my kids, and I’m obviously not the only one who is allowing my children TV time, because if I were, they wouldn’t be a billion different shows for children on TV. So lets just acknowledge that, at times, I’m a mad woman on the brink who needs a break and continue from there.

In allowing TV time for my children I’ve opened myself up to a whole new world of wonky… the shows themselves. While I’m able to get a small block of time without someone saying, “Mommy, Mommy, Mom, Mom.” on loop, I now have some personal preferences about the shows that are going to drive me to the loony bin first. Here are my top 8 maddening children’s shows.

Dora The Explorer:

Oh Dora, you had some redeeming qualities but in the last couple of years you’ve really jumped the shark. Once you made Swiper a good guy it was over for me. He’s a “sneaky fox who steals all your stuff”, you said it yourself… over and over and over again. Children live to yell, “Swiper, no swiping” at the damn TV and now, now he’s your buddy and you’re having slumber parties with him? I think not. Dora has obviously never seen Sleeping With the Enemy.

Go, Diego, Go!:

Like Dora, I used to think Diego was okay. I enjoyed the fact that he spoke Spanish and rescued animals, but then they brought Rosie Perez in for a bit to play “Click the Camera” and my mind exploded. Guest-star aren’t always a good thing. It was like Diego was dropped onto the set of White Men Can’t Jump and I’ve never been able to stomach the show again.

Max and Ruby:

I’ve hated Max and Ruby since the first time my mesmerized child sat in front of it. Ruby is a demanding, self-righteous, bitch and I just want to cover her mouth with duct-tape, while Max says one word, over and over, on every show to drive you right to the edge of sanity. And where the hell are their parents? They take the bus to Grandma’s alone? NO. Hell no.

SpongeBob SquarePants:

This show is not for children. At all. I know some adults enjoy it but I am not one of those adults. Between SpongeBob’s voice, Patrick’s blatant stupidity and Squidward’s pompous attitude that’s the trifecta of bullshit. Not to mention I don’t need a cartoon to introduce my child to the words: dumb, idiot and stupid. I’ll wait for the kids at public school to do that.

Sam and Cat:

My 9-year-old LOVES Sam and Cat. I believe that one day my tombstone will read “Killed by Sam and Cat”. Cat’s annoying monotone voice haunts me when the show isn’t on. With Ariana Grande’s increasing popularity as the second-coming in the pop world, I’m hoping that means Sam and Cat won’t be filming anymore episodes.

Caillou:

Caillou is a bratty, whinny, Charlie Brown wannabe. Avoid Calliou at all costs. Calliou is like kid heroin… hard to kick. Trust me on this.

Curious George:

Aww, Curious George… these once-cherished, children’s books have been made into an animated show, and ugh. George is still a free-to-roam, up-to-no-good monkey who never gets in a bit of trouble. The Man with the Yellow Hat is still the biggest parenting pushover in the biz. No thanks. I’ll just read my kid the book.

Yo Gabba Gabba:

I have no desire to watch my children experience a 30 minute acid trip, and that’s exactly what this show is. It’s only redeeming quality is that Biz Markie does a small rap segment on some shows. That’s cool as hell. Otherwise, skip Yo Gabba Gabba.

 

Points Plus for the Rest of Us

Okay, I started the Weight Watchers.

It needed to happen. The 3-year-old has been tapping my big belly for over a month now and asking when his baby sister will get here. That’s when I have the privilege of explaining to him that Mommy is done having babies and he’ll just have to go through his life surrounded by brothers. This is usually followed by tears and questions of who will be the one to save him from a chilled heart with their sisterly love? Thanks Frozen. So you see, the only answer was diet and exercise, or a reversal of my tubal ligation, but HAHAHAHAHA, NO!

I’ve been planning to change my drinking eating habits for a while now, but the fact that I’m attending my 20 year class reunion, coupled with the whole Frozen-sister debacle has kicked this fatty into high gear. I’m a mom on a mission. That mission, to be out of maternity pants in 45 days, if I can’t pull this off I’m going to have to resort to Spanx and starvation… so fingers (and saggy boobs) crossed, this works.

I haven’t tried the Weight Watchers in 3 years. I’ve accomplished my goals with this program in the past, but that was over a kid ago. I love that the plan allows for flexible fruit and vegetable intake, but if I get my hands on anything, the children want a bite before I can even grab it. I love that I can gain extra points through exercise, but here’s the downside… none of these “activity points” are REAL Mom things. Yes, they have running while pushing a stroller, but let’s be real, unless you are going for an “actual” run, with a child, the only time you’re running-with-a-stroller is while attempting to catch another child who’s gone too far ahead of you on his bike. Or you’re trying to catch a ball that’s rolling into the gutter and the earth will freaking implode if it’s lost… and you’re usually not doing that for a steady 10 minutes, but 10 minutes earns you 1 activity point with Weight Watchers.

Just to put it in perspective, a tablespoon of honey is worth 2 points, while a delicious glass of wine is 4 points. You see where I’m going with this.

So here’s my idea… Like the Girl Scouts allow you to design your own patches, I’ve come up with my own activity point system for Mom stuff. These scenarios aren’t always pretty, but they are real, these are straight from the trenches of motherhood people and I think I could have earned about 10 extra points today alone!!!

Hysterical, Physical Toddler Temper Tantrum: 5 points for every 30 minutes

We were privy to a lovely tantrum-session tonight that lasted an hour. I think 2 glasses of wine would have been a good reward, or a burrito, or a frontal-lobotomy, instead I rewarded myself after bedtime with a celery stick. Go me.

Homework: 2 points for every 30 minutes

Homework time often makes me feel like a cattle-herder of sorts, grabbin’ up all them little doggies while they try to make excuse after excuse to stay away from the task at hand, “I need the potty. I need snack. The baby is so cute. Can I kiss him? Mommy, were you ever my age? Were you nicer than you are now?” You should get activity points for this, shit, you should get a medal for this.

Packing the kids up for and schlepping them to athletics: 2 points for every 10 minutes

I know it seems to be sedentary, but there is so much mental preparation and mindfulness that goes into these practices and games for a mom. Everything needs to be washed, easily accessible in their rightful place, the uniforms, car-pools, coordination… it’s almost like producing a Olympic gymnastics routine. Timing is everything and it’s exhausting.

Laundry and Housework:

Gotta hand it to Weight Watchers… they have these down for activity points! Woot! But you only get 1 point for 10 minutes of work. The think-tank over there has obviously never tried to do laundry with children around. I’m giving myself an extra 10 minutes every time.

Serving Meals: 2 points for all meals combined

Half the time in my house the kids act like this is a diner. I’m not Flo, and no, I’m not getting up at 6 AM to make you eggs on a school day, but people do, hell, you probably do, and that deserves points. Do you know why so many restaurants fail? Because making meals is hard. It’s tough stuff, and it’s even more difficult now that you’re on the Weight Watchers. These kids want scrambled eggs (with cheese), bacon and toast while you are having a 1/4 cup of non-fat greek yogurt in a corner with a baby spoon. Go ahead, take the points, you’re gonna need ’em.

Weight Watchers is like an adult potty chart, but instead of stickers I get wine.

I’m running tomorrow. It’s totally worth the extra points.

Doing Harry Potter

I haven’t been running in years…

3 years to be exact, but tonight, I felt that familiar wind whipping through my hair, the sweat glistening off my body, the ache in the back of my calves. Never before tonight have I run in flats instead of sneakers, never before, have I gone for a jog in a bathing suit and a cover up, but tonight was extremely different. Tonight was kinda crazy.

The family and I have been on vacation at Universal Studios Orlando. Once again, traveling with children has proved to be a daunting experience. The age difference between my sons is still too vast to have a harmonious time at an amusement park. They all want different things from different places. The 3-year-old isn’t old enough for the large roller coasters, the 9-year-old is too old for the baby attractions, and Hubby and I are torn between taking care of a newborn and the wants of the other kids. But we all agree that Harry Potter is amazing. Unfortunately, so does everyone else in the entire universe.

For the last 2 days we have been meandering about the Universal Studios version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, problem is, that with this brood, we don’t have the ability to wait on long lines. That being said, we’ve been unable to hit up the new ride, “Escape from Gringotts”. I’m not gonna lie, as a super Harry Potter geek, I was disappointed.

After getting caught in a full-fledged thunderstorm at the park today (yes, we got soaking wet and it was awful) we ended up at the amazing hotel pool. When the skies cleared and the sun showed itself it was a beautiful afternoon. The kids swam, went on water slides and had a blast.

We are leaving tomorrow morning and had just finished our poolside dinner at about 8PM when I said to Hubby, “I can’t believe we didn’t get to ride that new Harry Potter ride.” Hubby looked at our sleeping baby, the older kids swimming in the pool with their new British friends and said, “The park doesn’t close for another hour… Go! Have fun. Tell us all about it.”

I was stunned. “I can’t leave you guys. This is a family vacation. Come on… I’m not even dressed to go in the park…”

Then he pulled out all the stops, “Not dressed to go in the park? You’re covered, better than most chicks we’ve seen today. Stop making excuses and go. I’ll be pissed if you don’t.”

That’s when I kissed the love of my life on the lips, thanked him for being the coolest Daddy and spouse ever, and made a run for it…

The woodsy path to the park is lovely and serene… even more so at night, and even better alone… I started into a brisk jog as soon as I exited the hotel gate. I had 49 minutes until the park closed, but it felt glorious to be alone and on a super “Harry Potter” adventure.

I ran, I ran so far away… I must have looked like the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls with my long, brown, pool-soaked hair, but I didn’t care. I was gonna “Do Harry Potter”, and not in the dirty way, because ewww… I first discovered him when he was in 6th grade and that image is not sexually appealing.

I booked-it through the park. I didn’t know I could run that fast in flats, or without the promise of booze upon completion, or without being chased. I passed the food vendors, the angry families who stayed longer than their children’s good behavior, the love-birds posing for pictures… I was tired and sweaty as I approached the entrance to the ride… adrenaline pumping through my veins…. YES, I MADE IT! I’M GONNA DO HARRY POTTER!

Everything was wrong as I made it to the vestibule. There were no other patrons… only me. In hindsight that was not a good sign. As I fished my ticket out of the cup of my swimsuit a stern woman said, “I’m sorry, the ride is closed for the night.” I must have looked dumbfounded and confused, standing there stuttering… “But, But, But…”

But nothing. But closed. As I walked away in a daze I heard another patron complaining to a guard and he explained that the ride had been already closed for 90 minutes because they had hit maximum capacity. Mission aborted.

I walked slowly back to the hotel, trying to find the words to explain to my family that I hadn’t accomplished my goal. When I arrived at the room they were eagerly waiting to hear all about the ride. My heart sunk.

“Mom, how was it? Was it awesome? Was Harry there? Ron? Hermione?”

{Ugh, this sucks} Well, it was already closed, but it’s cool, it was nice to see the park at night. 

Hubby was pissed off for me, “Closed? WHAT? We’ll go early tomorrow, before we head home!”

As usual, my oldest, my Boy Wonder, had the pearl of wisdom… “Well, at least you tried, right? Trying and failing is better than not trying at all.”

Hearing that statement from my own child was better than any ride I can have at any amusement park. Knowing he understands “the ride” that is life, is worth the ticket price.

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Grandma and The Mighty Atom

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I’m so bad.

With the birth of my 3rd child things around here got really complicated. Trying to time everything just right: handle all the schedules, keep it smooth sailing for the older kids while balancing the needs of a newborn… I wanted life to be seamless. I think I’ve done a pretty good job. They are all still alive and DCF hasn’t been to the house. {Happy Dance}

Unfortunately, I’ve let other things slide. Me time (yeah, right… what’s that), personal friendships (I’m sorry friends, I swear I’ll call soon), and the most important thing of all… the rest of my family, more specifically, my grandmother.

I am so blessed to still have my grandma in my life, on this earth and living only 30 minutes from me. She’s a quick-witted, 91-year-old fireball and the only thing larger than my love for her is my respect for her. It’s been 11 years since she lost my papa (they dated since she was 14) and although I know she misses him terribly (we all do) Grandma still lives her life. Everything I need to know about love, humility and commitment can be learned from GG (her nickname, as she is my kid’s Great Grandmother).

With a houseful of kids it really is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, and because Grandma is in fine overall health, I hadn’t made a lot of time for her, until yesterday. Grandma came over for dinner, played with the great-grandkids, swam in the pool, and even read my blog. Yesterday was a great time and a real eye-opener. It’s easy to forget that my grandma was once a 37-year-old mom too, and a girl, and an adolescent, and a public school teacher. It’s easy to just look at her, the way she is now, at 91, and forget that she lived a whole different life before me, before my mom, before now. Thank G-d I have Grandma to remind me.

After dinner last night GG said,

“Do you have On Demand?”

{Complete shock} Sure we have On Demand, I can’t believe you even know what that is… What would you like to watch?

“Well, my friend, Moshe, is on America’s Got Talent… do you know that show?”

Of course I know that show. What are you talking about, “your friend” is on it. {Now I’m getting a bit worried… is GG losing it?}

“My old friend, Moshe, he’s the “Mighty Atom Jr.” His father was the “Mighty Atom”. He pulls a car with his teeth. I missed the show and I’d love to see it.”

Of course, through my love of pop-culture and Americana, I’d heard of “The Mighty Atom”. He was a popular (and world renown) 20th Century Strongman. Guess what? GG grew up with his kid.

Mike Greenstein, or Moshe, (as GG has known him forever) grew up with Grandma in Brooklyn. They are still friends today, talk on the phone all the time, and he’s even come to visit her in Florida. He is also a Strongman, and at 93-YEARS-OLD, pulls CARS WITH HIS TEETH. I know, take a minute and let that sink in.

His father (Joe Greenstein) used to pull cars with his hair. Grandma says he’d do it in the street for the kids to see. What? My kids are impressed if a neighbor invites them over for a barbecue… times really have changed.

So we pulled up the video from America’s Got Talent so Grandma could see Moshe in all his 93-year-old, strongest-teeth-ever, car-pulling glory.

The insane part is that while watching this video, with Grandma, I could see her as a young woman again. I could see Moshe as a young man too. That strength: the bravery it takes to age, in a society which throws our elderly out the door without a glance. I’m in awe of them. All of them. Grandma has always told me she still thinks she’s 18-years-old in her mind. I can totally understand that now as I’m looking 40 in the underbelly.

I told GG that although I’ve never seen her move a 5,000 pound automobile with her teeth, her presence moves mountains.

At least it does for me.

 

 

 

The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Guide to The Summer of George

I was a Seinfeld fan from the start.  Maybe it was the story about nothing.  Maybe it was Kramer.  Maybe it was the fact that it was so freaking scripted but it wasn’t Who’s the Boss or Cosby Show scripted.  I still can’t put my finger on the full reason for my reverence… but “The Summer of George” was my favorite episode.  Hands down.  Ever.

If you’re familiar with Seinfeld (and this episode) then you remember that George had been fired from his job with The New York Yankees.  While he’s wallowing in his sadness he discovers that he has been allotted a severance package that will last for approximately 3 months.  And that is when George decides he is going to “really do something with those 3 months.”  He’s going to read a book (from beginning to end, in that order).  He’s going to learn to play Frolf (Frisbee-golf).  This is going to be the time for George to “taste the juices and let them drip down his chin.”  Now, being the lazy bastard that he is, George doesn’t really accomplish many of his goals but every time summer rolls around, I’m so fucking jealous of George and the idea of “that” summer.

It is currently the third week of summer camp for my older kids here.  I’ve been feeling, a bit, low…. let me take that back,  the monotony of it all has made it Groundhog Day around here.

Summer is turning out to be just like Fall, Winter, and Spring.  The same.  But hotter… It’s like a shitty song on repeat and I’ve already skipped too may songs on Pandora to listen to something new.  The incessant loads of laundry and meal planning, the grocery shopping, the drop-offs, the pick-ups… there must be something else I’m supposed to be doing…

And then it hit me.

My older kids are in camp until 3:45 EVERYDAY!!  That is almost 2 hours longer then the normal school day for my Middle Monkey and my Hubby isn’t an asshole about my jobs around the house.

It’s almost like I’ve been given a severance package too… but this one is with TIME!

And around here, time is like money.

I’m really going to live.

I’m going to do all the things I don’t normally do!

I declare this… “The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Summer of George”!

Here is my Top 10 list of things to do…

10. Go see the movie Chef, during the day, with my 4 month old baby.  {Because no one takes a baby to the movies… but I have to see this}

9. Drive to the Eden “strange fruit” winery (which is over 1 hour away) and buy kiwi wine.  {Because no one takes a baby to a winery… but I have to try this}

8. Finally hit up a spinning class.  {Even though I’m petrified}

7. Put on a bathing suit and take the baby to a public pool.  {Ugh, but it has to be done}

6. Get a pedicure. {Because damn, my feet are toe-up}

5. Travel the 30 minutes to the Norman Love Confections and take the chocolate tour.  {Because chocolate}

4. Take the baby to the beach and only pack one bag and an umbrella.  {It’s harder than you think}

3. Have lunch or brunch with a friend once a week.   {Because friends and food}

2. Read a trilogy.   {From beginning to end, in that order}

1. Eat a peach, alone, without any children asking for a bite, and let the juices drip down my chin, just like George.

The Mother I Thought I’d be Versus The Mother I am

I always knew I’d have children.  That was just something in the cards for me.  I never thought I’d have 3… but that’s for another blog.  I remember being a teenager and talking with a friend about where we saw ourselves at 35… I said, point-blank, married with kids.  And she said she was never having kids because she’d never be able to be “the mother she wanted to be”.   At the time I thought her words were so bizarre, so strange.  How could she know the future?  You are the person who decides how you will act, what moral compass you will follow.  You dictate your future.  At 15 I was really into that whole dogma.

Now, looking back on that conversation, I’m shocked at the words of wisdom provided to me by a person who was so young.  She was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY right on.  I am nothing like the mother I thought I would be.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not a good mom, although I do have my moments of total insanity.  But I’m not “that mom”.  That imaginary figment could never fly around here.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My children will always be able talk to me, about anything, and I won’t judge them.

Mother I Am…

They talk to me, about anything, and I judge the ever-loving shit outta them.  I judge them so hard I’m Judge Judy.  I don’t always hand down a sentence but believe me, I judge.  And they aren’t even teenagers yet. Oy.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My kids will always be able to pick the radio station in the car.

Mother I Am…

Fuck that.  After hearing Timber a million times I’m picking the radio station.  “When you have a car you can listen to what you want.”  {Did I just say that? My mother used to say that}

Mother I Thought I’d be…

I will actively play with my kids all the time.

Mother I am…

I can’t believe I even thought this was possible when I was younger.  Like, I actually resented my mother at times because I didn’t think she played with me enough.  And she played with me a lot!  Between the housework, the siblings, the drop-offs and the pick-ups, I’m lucky if I get to eat a meal sitting down.  Play with you?  Another game of Candy Land?  We’ve already played 5.  You must be joking.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My children will travel.  We will see the world together.

Mother I am…

Traveling costs money.  Traveling with small children is a mind numbing siege that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  The last trip we took was a 2 hour car trip to a soccer tournament and I actually considered putting duct tape over the mouths of the older 2.  Travel?  I don’t fucking think so.

Mother I thought I’d be…

Each of my children will have their own personality, and I won’t let their behavior, good or bad, change how I feel about myself.

Mother I am…

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  When they accomplish something fantastic… I too, feel fantastic.  When they act like animals… I see that as a direct reflection of my parenting failures.  Just because I feel this way doesn’t make it right.   But it’s still how I feel.

No, I’m not the mother I thought I’d be.  Far from it.  I have cobwebs in my house, I’m not hip, I’m embarrassing, and I’m not always fair.  But I am here for them… 24/7, no matter what.

And I’m laughing.

And I’m trying.

 

 

The Cable Company That Has Us by The Balls

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It’s no secret that I hate Comcast.  They have monopolized the area in which I live and other than Dish we have no other choice if we want cable and internet.  Fine, fine, fine, this is a first world problem, I get that.  But I grew up with the understanding that if I want something… and I FREAKING PAY THROUGH THE NOSE for it, I should get what I pay for.

This is not the case with good ol’ Comcast.

Besides the fact that every time I write them a check I feel like a rape victim, the service is shoddy at best.  Our internet goes out at least once a day, often the OnDemand feature doesn’t work at all and don’t even get me started about the cable boxes “rebooting” out of nowhere in the middle of a show… or the service being down sporadically for the first 2 days of the world cup… the list is endless. Reminds me of that scene in European Vacation where every channel is cheese-making or snow.  I’ve had enough.

I’m starting to realize I’ve spent more time on the phone with Comcast attempting to get them to remedy the trillion situations I’ve encountered than I have actually utilizing their shit service.  A disheartening thought to say the least.  And although I love TV, I would drop Comcast in a New York minute if I didn’t have kids.  That’s why the utter shitshow I’ve encountered today really makes my blood boil.

Last month I upgraded my phone to an iPhone 5. Upon reviewing my current bill with AT&T I realized I was using less than 1GB of data a month, although I was paying for an unlimited data plan.  This didn’t make a great deal of financial sense so I let my unlimited data plan go (even though I had been Grandfathered into a plan they no longer offer) and opted for a 2GB plan (still leaving me with a less expensive monthly bill).

I do not use a lot of data on my phone. I don’t stream movies or watch long YouTube clips. I use WordPress, FB, Twitter and Evernote. That’s why I was fucking shocked when I received a notification from AT&T today that I’ve reached 90% usage of my 2GB, AND I STILL HAVE A WEEK LEFT IN THIS BILLING CYCLE.

I called AT&T to try to figure out the drastic data usage change. I explained to the customer service guy that I’m usually home and hooked up to WiFi while using my phone. The whole thing didn’t make sense.

Unless you factor in Comcast.

The costumer service guy was able to tell me every date and time where my data usage spiked. The highest day spike was on June 4th where I used 3/4 of 1GB just in that day alone. “What happened on June 4th?” he asked. Yup. you guessed it, Comcast had an outage for the entire county that day, that lasted ALL DAY (granted it was due to an accident, which wasn’t Comcast’s fault, I’m not completely blinded by my dislike of this giant) but because of that day I was able to trace every spike in my data usage to a day where my internet was down. And those times… ARE Comcast’s fault.

I wouldn’t even be writing this right now if Comcast was better with their customer service. If every once in a while they offered a credit for outages, or shitty service, or making me hold on the phone for hours… I would be totally pacified.

But they don’t do that.

So I’m pissed.

And I’m proving to Comcast that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Rant over.

I feel better now.