Thursday, May 20, 2010

Teenage Brains

What is it in teenage brains that enables them to completely ignore the fact that they are being ri-freaking-diculous?

Example #1 - Daughter, age 15, wears jeans and a tank top to school today. At the moment, it is 55 degrees and cloudy. The school is all inside, so she would be perfectly comfortable.

She calls me on my cell phone at 8:15am, and wants to know if I'm going to be "down there" today. "Down there" refers to down by her school, which is 3-4 miles from our house. I told her that I was planning on going to the store at some point, but I didn't know when. I assumed she was going to ask me to bring her money for lunch, which she used to do on a frequent basis. The last time, I told her that I was sick of coming down to the school to bring her money, and that if she needed money she needed to tell me the night before.

Did she want money? No. She wanted me to bring her a pair of shorts. Because when she leaves school to walk somewhere for lunch (about 11am), she will roast, because isn't it going to be like 70 degrees today?

Yes, it is going to reach maybe 72 degrees, at about 3pm. When you go to lunch at 11am? Possibly low 60s. I explain this to her. She gets mad at me because I won't drop everything and bring her a pair of shorts. This is a child who lived her entire life up until this year in a state where we lived a majority of the year in 100+ degree weather. And she's going to be hot in jeans if it's 65 degrees. What is wrong with this child's brain?

Example #2 - Same child asks me yesterday if she and her friend N can ride the lightrail downtown to the 16th Street Mall, which is a really cool stretch of outdoor mall with a free shuttle that runs up and down the middle of it. From the light rail station nearest us, it is a straight shot to 16th street. No stops, no changing trains. It's about a 30 minute ride on the light rail, and they were going to go after school today and not stay very late, maybe 7ish. They don't have school tomorrow because their high school is holding graduation at Red Rocks tomorrow, even though the rest of the kids still go until June 2nd.

I was considering it. It's not much different than me dropping them at a mall, except they'd be taking a non-stop light rail. I asked her if N texted her back about going. She said, "Yeah, but you might have to tell N's mom that you are going with us."

Ok, N was her very first friend here, from the softball team. We sat with N's parents at most games. I love N's parents. They are lovely people. Daughter spends the night at N's house often. You're telling me that N wants me, as a mother, to lie to her mother and tell her I'm going with you when I'm really not? Um, no. So it's not just my child's head in which these crazy thoughts go on.

Example #3 - Oldest daughter, 18, about to graduate from high school and come to CO to live with us and attend college. That's the plan, anyway. She doesn't want to leave AZ, and I know that, but my parents only signed on for one year of boarding her. I wouldn't even ask them to consider keeping while she starts college, and frankly, I don't think Daughter wants to continue living there either. They're nice people, but she's 18 and they're in their early 70s. 'Nuff said.

Two weeks before graduation, and I think Daughter is still trying to think of a way she can stay in AZ. I laid it out for her like this:

If you come to CO and live with us, you only have to do two things: Go to school full-time, and work part-time to pay for your gas, clothes, entertainment, etc.

If you stay in AZ, you would have to go to school full-time, work full-time, and take out a student loan to help with your living expenses. It's not that we won't help her financially, it's that at this point in time, we can't. You'd have to get an apartment with a roommate, pay half of the rent, food, utilities, cable/internet. Not to mention furnishing the place. Then you'd always have to worry about bills. If you lose your job (like they decide they don't need so many employees, it happens), you're screwed. If in the middle of the semester, you decide that working full-time and going to school full-time is just too much, you're screwed, because you're locked into a lease. On top of that, you're incurring unnecessary debt for that loan you need.

This seems like a no-brainer to me. This isn't so much ridiculous, but it's that she's thinking with her heart, and not her head. I get that. But at some point, I think she's going to have to realize that CO is going to have to be her home, at least for a little while. The ridiculous part is that she's convinced she's not going to make any friends. Between a job and school, she won't make any friends because she'll be living with us, and not in a dorm. I don't know why she thinks that, but she does.

Do you ever wish you could take what you know, and somehow inject it into their brains, to give them some perspective? I'll bet my mom wishes she could have done that to me. I guess we all just have to live and learn. Some of the lessons aren't so pleasant, but you do what you have to do.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


It occurred to me the other day that I could change the top picture on my blog to reflect the season. I had Kylie with a huge icicle up there for a while. You'll have to excuse me, because spring is all new to me. I've never really been through spring before. You see, in Arizona, you go from comfortable (70ish) to summer (100 degrees plus) in about three days. So this spring stuff is kind of a novelty to me.

We have a concrete slab porch outside the front door. There is a family (group? coven?) of wild cottontail rabbits that live under the porch. Thanks to my boyfriend Google, I now know that you can call a group of wild rabbits a colony, a warren or a nest. I think I like colony. At some other time, we will discuss why I am going to marry Google.

So there's a colony of wild cottontail rabbits that live under the porch. There is a hole that they've dug in the dirt where the concrete meets the earth which is their entrance/exit. For most people, that dirt would be a flower bed. Last year, in early fall, I planted some mums there. Two days later, they were killed by a freak hailstorm. All my life, I have killed plants. I have come to the conclusion that there are many things I am good at...gardening is not one of them.

Yesterday, this little guy popped out of the hole and into the should-be-a-flowerbed:

Baby bunny! How cute is that? I don't know if you can compare him to the size of the leaves and tell how small he is, but if I made a fist with one hand and then wrapped my other hand around my fist, he was about that big. And my hands aren't very big. Unlike the adult rabbits, who are oblivious to us walking around and driving our cars up the driveway, this guy was a little skittish. I had to be vewy, vewy sneaky and quiet to get his picture. The deer are out too, with some little ones. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to have my camera one day when I see some.

A few weeks ago, like the last weekend in April, we went to City Park in downtown Denver, because there's this thing here called the Cherry Tree Project, and there are parks around town where every year, they plant a few more cherry trees. I had to see this phenomenon, because I've only seen pictures of cherry trees. This is one of the bigger ones.

They are all different sizes, because they plant more every year.

I think that this is still a cherry tree, just a different strain? Its blossoms were pink, not white.

Later on that week, I noticed something interesting. I didn't need to go to City Park to see cherry trees. They are everywhere. They're in the medians on the street I drive to go to the grocery store. They're all over my neighborhood. I'm not sure why I didn't notice that before. Now, on the 15th of May, the blossoms are turning from white to green. But they sure were pretty while they lasted.

This is a group of trees in my neighborhood. This is the corner where all the jr high and high school kids wait for the bus in the morning. Except for my kid, you know, because buses are "gross." I don't know what they're doing on the street with the orange cones and yellow tape. Husband says they're putting in more streetlights, which would be nice, because those deer sometimes surprise you in the road at night. Nevertheless, it does not add to the ambiance of my picture.

The previous picture doesn't really correctly show the color of the tree. This close-up of the blossoms is more what the color actually looks like. It's really pretty. I don't know what kind of tree this is. It looks like cherry blossoms, but it's the wrong color. Husband said possibly cranberry? Is he full of shit? Does anyone know what kind of tree this is?

This tree is at the end of our street, next to Michael and Matthew's house. They are twins, also in first grade like Kylie. Except they go to a private school. Whatever. I don't even know the parents' names, I just know Michael and Matthew. Because I always hear, "Mom, I'm going down to Michael and Matthew's house!" Their backyard is way more fun than ours.

In case the color of this tree looks a little strange...I might have overdone it on the saturation. That's only because the color in the picture didn't look right. Then again, this color doesn't look right either, but at least it's cool. The actual color of this tree is red, not neon fuchsia. Red. Husband says it's a crab apple tree. Again, I have no idea if this is true.

Same tree, close-up. Again, the actual color is closer to red than this, but how gorgeous is this?

You know what's wild about Colorado in the spring? All these beautiful plants and trees bloom, and everything is so colorful and very green...and then it snows. On May 12th.

Same tree on the corner (you can tell because of the lovely yellow tape there still), with snow on the branches.

The tree next to Michael and Matthew's house, with snow. That's actually more like the real color of the tree. I can't decide if it's prettier by itself, or with its branches dusted white. I like both.

These are some poor daffodils in my backyard. I didn't plant these, someone who lived here before us did. And I guess they're...annuals? They come back every year, whether you do anything or not. Those are my kind of flowers. Two days before this picture was taken, they were standing up straight and tall in their yellowness, and they were quite beautiful. Then the snow weighed them all down, poor things. I brushed snow off them to take the picture. I'm hoping they straighten up. Or there's going to be hell to pay, missy. Did your dad ever tell you to "straighten up?" Mine did. I wouldn't recommend just visibly standing straighter, like you're in the military, when your dad says that. I'm just sayin'. It wasn't a good day for me.

The weather here today is bipolar. Sunny this morning, then a huge boom of thunder, which made me go wtf? Then it rained, now it's sunny again. More rain later, they say. However, I've learned that while the weather people say things? They really have no idea what they're talking about. If they want an easy job, they should go to Arizona. All you have to know how to say there is "Hot and sunny, high of 100+" for about eight months, then "Sunny, high in the 70s" for about 2 months. November and March are kind of a crapshoot. But nothing like a Colorado weather crapshoot. This is fun stuff.

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Ode To My Mom (A Day Late)

I don't know why I didn't think of posting this yesterday. Probably because I was so busy being fed peeled grapes by my own private cabana boy.

This isn't so much an ode to my mom, because odes rhyme, don't they? It's more of a ... a statement, I suppose.

Back at the beginning of April, Shannon, Kylie and I went to Arizona for spring break. We did stuff. We went to an ASU softball game. That's my mom there at the top.

For those of you that are regular readers, you probably know that my oldest daughter is living with my parents this year.

This one, the teenager. That one to her right is a teenager too, but this isn't about her.

This is about my mother. My 73 year-old mother.

When she found out in December of 2008 that we were going to move to Colorado, she was concerned about my oldest daughter. We would be moving right before her senior year of high school. She was afraid Danni would be miserable, not being able to finish high school with her friends. She was probably right.

Husband moved to Colorado in December of 2008. The plan was that we would stay in AZ and let the girls finish the school year, and follow him after school was out. In the spring of that year, my mother made a very generous offer. She offered to let my teenager live with them for a year, so she could finish high school in AZ. After 25 years of being an empty-nester, she was willing to take on another teenager. We didn't ask. She offered.

We decided to let Danni make her own decision. She was 17, after all...and I knew if she stayed, she'd be in good hands.

She decided to stay. And she's been living with my parents this entire school year.

In three weeks, we're leaving to go to AZ for her graduation. After we spend a couple of weeks there, she'll be coming back to CO with us to go to college.

I'm still in awe of my mom, that at the age of 73, she was willing to take on a teenager.

When we were down there for spring break in April, just before Danni turned 18, she pulled me aside and said, "Shel, she's really a great kid. You did a good job."

Well Mom, since everything I learned about parenting, I learned from you...I would say it was you that did the good job.

Happy Mother's Day. I love you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Out Of Our League

When we moved to Denver, we rented a house. Husband found the house while the girls and I were still in Phoenix. At the time, we thought we needed a four-bedroom house, because we didn't know yet that Danni was staying in AZ. So he was looking at four-bedroom houses.

Since Husband grew up here, he knows the neighborhoods. And this particular area we're living in is a place that all the "rich" folks lived when he was growing up. I think he wished he lived up here when he was growing up. Now, there are bigger and better places to live, like Highlands Ranch. But this area is still pretty nice.

I'm telling you this because we totally do not belong here. I have a five-bedroom house (two of those are in the finished basement), in an amazing neighborhood where I feel like Roseanne Connor goes to Beverly Hills. You know, if Beverly Hills had mountains and trees and lush green grass, with deer and rabbits wandering around. We live in the south part of the development, which is the older part. There are newer and bigger houses the farther north you go. In fact, the neighbors on our street like to joke that we live in the "ghetto" of this area. Because we totally do.

This house we are renting, we got it for a steal. I'm still not entirely sure why, because Husband did all the paperwork before we got here, but the story I was told is that the owner of the house is on social security, and can't have over X amount of income. When I told my neighbor what we were paying in rent, she practically fell over, because I'm guessing it could have been rented for a LOT more. I think the condition of the house had something to do with the price too. It's an older house, and if someone wanted to sell it, they'd have to do quite a bit of work first. But I love it to death. I care not a whit about the scratched-up wooden doors and floor. Or the substandard job the basement finishers did. I've seen some really nice finished basements around here, and this one is just, eh. But Shannon loves having her own "apartment" down there. She's going to be sharing it with Danni soon though. Ha.

So what I'm trying to say here, is that we live in an area that we have no business living in. We are just normal middle-class (unemployed) people. Not everyone around here is rolling in money, but there are certainly those that are.

The people on my street are nice people. I get along fine with all my neighbors. There's this one family at the end of the street who have twin first-grade boys who go to a private school, and the mom is really nice, but she freaks me out a little. Have you ever met one of those people who was just happy all the time, and volunteered for everything, and talked in a gentle voice and had a smile plastered on but their eyes looked all wide like they were on something? I'm just saying. She's a nice lady, but ... yeah.

So, let's just say that sometimes at the schools, you can run into some snooty people. You know the soccer moms with the perfect hair and nails and all the jewelry and the designer jeans and the new Escalades? Yeah. I'm not one of those.

Are you wondering what my point is? Me too. Oh wait. So there are two parties that Kylie and I have been invited to. The first one is a tea party. No, not that kind. I mean the kind where they serve tea. It's on Friday at the elementary school, and it's a Mother's Day tea. The paper Kylie brought home said that I was invited to a Mother's Day tea on Friday at 2:45pm, and to bring two teacups. Teacups? Look, I don't have no stinkin' teacups. First, I don't drink tea. Second, we drink mostly out of plastic cups around here, because as I mentioned, we are the Connors.

So then I had a great idea. I'll just go to the Salvation Army store and pick up a couple of teacups. It did turn out to be a great idea, because I found these:

No, not the bananas, the cups. Aren't they cute? Guess how much I paid for them? 45 cents each. And you know what? They're probably worth like $2000 each. I know this because it says "France" on the bottom of them. The next time the Antiques Roadshow comes through town, I am totally going and taking my French teacups.

You know what else I found at the Salvation Army store for 45 cents each?

Oh yeah, baby. I wish I could take one of these to the first-grade tea party instead of a teacup. Because I may not drink tea, but I am a margarita connoisseur. Would it be completely tacky to bring one of these on Friday? Ok, yes it would. But don't you think a margarita or two would be mandatory for high tea with first-graders? I think so.

Do you like my picture background of half a cantaloupe, bananas, rabbit cards from Kylie's Easter basket and the light switch? I thought it was pretty classy myself.

Guess what else I have? When my sister-in-law was here at Christmas, she bought copious amounts of alcohol. She's fun! We didn't exactly get around to drinking ALL of it. I'm not a big drinker, and Husband isn't really either, so I've been storing the leftovers in the freezer out in the garage. I went out there today, and you know what's in there?

How perfectly does that go with my new 45 cent margarita glasses? And it's even Cinco de Mayo today. If that isn't an excuse for a margarita, I don't know what is. Salud!

I said we were invited to two parties, right? The second one is a birthday party with a "derby" theme. I'm guessing that means horses. It's girls only, they're supposed to wear their best dresses, and will leave with a hat they've made that matches their dress. The Evite said that "afternoon hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served." Well, roll me in sugar and call me Cookie, isn't that sweet. It also says, "Great time for mom's (sic) to hang out too!"

Yeah. No. I'll drop Kylie off, but I don't even own a dress, let alone something for a derby. Depending on the weather, I wear either jeans, a shirt and my furry boots, or shorts, a shirt and sneakers. Luckily, Kylie does have one cute dress that I think would be appropriate. It's the same dress she wore for her kindergarden graduation. Good thing she doesn't grow. Well, she grows taller, so the dress is a bit shorter, but it still fits. Can you picture me sitting around with these skinny soccer moms in dresses and heels having hors d'oeuvres? Me either. One person responded to the Evite by saying "Elizabeth and I will both be there in our derby finest!" Gag.

Wait, will mint juleps be served? This might call for another trip to the Salvation Army store.

Just kidding, I'm not going. Roseanne is perfectly happy drinking margaritas in her own house, while not wearing a dress.

Tienen un bueno noche, mis amigos! Salud!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nothing To Write About

I don't write much here anymore, because I never feel like I have anything to say. And then when I do write something, it ends up being either melancholy or bitchy. I used to write funny stuff. I have proof. Over there on the sidebar is something that says "I Used To Be Funny!", that titles a list of posts in which people told me in the comments that I was funny.

Then today, Dawn reminded me that I don't always have to be funny, or exciting. Which I am not. Exciting that is. Dawn posted some links of some other people that had written some funny things, like a lady named Twisted Susan that farted in front of a lady in the grocery store. I mean, I do stuff like that all the time once in a while. Why don't I ever write about it?

I followed another link of Twisted Susan's called Why is it that nobody in Susan's house can..., and she listed things that no one else in her house seems to be able to do, like put away cereal or feed the dog. After wondering for a minute if Susan and I lived in the same house, I decided to make my own list. My list will be prefaced by something out of a book I read. I cannot remember the name of the book, but it was a collection of essays about parenting by some authors/comedians, and the only one I can remember right now is Dave Barry, but he didn't write this particular essay I'm going to tell you about.

The essay was called something like "A Manual for The Care of Your New Teenage Daughter," clearly aimed at parents of 12 and 13 year-old girls who are wondering what happened to their sweet little girl, and who the screaming banshee is that has taken her place. I have been there, done that twice now, and not looking forward to the third time. But there was one part of the essay that I thought was extremely funny, and it was called "Cleaning Your Teenage Daughter."

I can't remember the thing word for word, so this will be liberally paraphrased, but I think you'll get the point.

It said that teenage girls are very clean. Clean is not the same as neat. They are very clean because they shower three times a day, using expensive soaps and lotions that you must purchase for them, because like I'm sure I'm really going to use the same shampoo that my mom uses. Gross. They then wrap themselves in every available towel in the bathroom, and spend hours moisturizing, putting on make-up and straightening or curling their curly or straight hair. They will then leave the towels strewn about the house. If you expect them to pick up the towels, you are confusing clean with neat. Picking up the towels is your job.

When I read that, I laughed and laughed, and then I laughed some more. Because this is so my 15 year-old daughter. And then I smiled because I realized it wasn't just me that was living through this.

Honestly, things are better. 15 is better than 12-14. I am hoping that like my first daughter, 16 is better than 15. But in the interest of comedy, and those of you who have/have had/will have teenage daughters, I thought I'd make my own list of things that she is unable to do:

  • Hang up a towel
  • Pick any piece of clothing up off the floor and put it in a laundry basket
  • Put the milk away
  • Discuss homework without rolling her eyes
  • Put bobby pins in a specified container that I bought specifically for that purpose. It's way easier to just take them out of her hair and throw them on the floor.
  • Feed her rabbit, which I sort of feel like is my rabbit now.
  • Change the rabbit's litter box (although she will completely clean the hutch once in a while, but certainly not when I ask)
  • Turn the radio off
  • Turn the TV off
  • Turn her straightening iron off
  • Keep her cell phone from hitting the floor (stole that one from Twisted Susan)
  • Speak to a teacher about a grade or an assignment without me threatening to email said teacher
  • Eat anything that contains meat, which makes my life a living hell interesting.
  • Do anything that I request without saying "in a minute" or my favorite, "I WILL!" (stole that one from Susan too)
  • Throw away an empty shampoo/conditioner/lotion/face wash bottle
  • Clean up the kitchen after she cooks something
  • When given money to go to the mall (or anywhere), come home with more than 17 cents in her pocket

Things she is able to do:

  • Utter my favorite phrase in the world at least 18 times a day, which is "Oh, I forgot."
  • Tell her little sister to shut up at least 27 times between 4pm and 9pm
  • Expect me to read her mind when she's out of something. I should just know and accordingly buy more tampons when she's out, so that she will not have to utter the word "tampon" in my presence
  • Randomly hug me for no apparent reason
  • Make me laugh until I cry

She's crazy, she's silly, she's infuriating. And then, she'll do this: A walk for MS, with a sign on the back of her shirt that said, "My champion is daddy (:". She even brought a friend to walk with us, whose sign said "Shannon's dad (:"

That day, she made me smile. And she made me proud.