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Notes from the Trenches — fighting the war on tantrums since 1994

Portrait of the Teenager

May 14, 2012


Once the good drugs kick in, the teenager continues texting as if his teeth haven’t been knocked half way down his throat or his lip split open.

On the other hand, I was whimpering in chair next to the bed.

And now for more fun, we are off to the orthodontist hoping the teeth can be saved.

Posted by Chris @ 11:09 am | 16 Comments  

The Prom

April 30, 2012

I’m sure everyone who knows me personally is tired of hearing me talk about my baby going to the prom.

But guys…look at my baby. All dressed up in a tuxedo and heading to the PROM!


(My son just told me that his friends think it looks like a photo that comes with the frame. Can’t stop laughing…)

My son’s girlfriend’s dress is short. But the consensus among my 40+ year old friends is that if we still had the bodies we had 25 years ago we would wear that dress. Truth be told if I could have my 18 yr old body back I would just walk around naked. And admire my ass in a three way mirror. I now have an appreciation of what 25 years of gravity, not to mention childbirth, does to a body.

I discovered that I do not know how to attach a boutineer with that fancy straight pin. I felt so inept and unable to pass down important female knowledge to the next generation. I have a year to learn. And thirteen more proms in the future with which to master this so watch out world!


The best photos I have of them is when they are laughing.


The photos that they probably don’t really like as much as the posed ones.


What no one tells you when your child has a long term girlfriend is that you grow to like then, to be attached to them in your own way. If they break up I would be upset because I really do adore her.


Posted by Chris @ 5:19 pm | 38 Comments  

How I Get My Kids To Turn Off The TV and Read

April 27, 2012


As a child, I was a voracious reader. My mother took me to the library weekly where I would walk out with a stackful of books so high I could barely manage to carry them in my arms. I don’t know if it was because I was an only child being raised by a single mother and therefore spent a lot of time alone, but books were my friends. Many of the characters have taken up permanent residence inside my head. I was the kid who was constantly being forced outdoors for fresh air. I would very grudgingly head outside. And read a book in the shade.

My oldest kids loved to read when they were younger as much as I did as a child. They would carry around their books constantly, looking for an opportunity to sneak in a few pages of reading. They would stay up late at night begging to finish one more chapter. Now they are teenagers and their lives are busy and they read a lot for school. They don’t read much for pleasure anymore, though I am certain that one day they will again rediscover the joy of a good book.

I find it strange when adults tell me they don’t read or that they don’t like to read. I feel sorry for them, for all that I think they are missing out on. Probably how all the people who spent years watching Lost on tv feel when I tell them I have never seen it.

My younger kids? Not so much into the reading. If they don’t find a book fascinating, they will put it down. This is also something I don’t understand. How can you put a book down without finishing it? Don’t you want to know how it turns out? Don’t you care at all about the characters? Thus far in my ehem, long life I have only had one book I could not finish. I hesitate to say what book it is because invariably people say that they loved the book and I should give it another chance. I tried. Trust me I tried, but I just hated it so much that I would get angry while reading it! Let’s just say I would need a hundred years of solitude to ever finish it. That’s a hint right there.

I had these three books sent to me by the folks at Chronicle books. They are the kind of books where you chose your own adventure. We had some of these type of books years ago that we found at an old used bookstore. In spite of the fact that they were musty, old, thin-papered paperbacks, my older kids had really enjoyed them and I wondered why they didn’t seem to be around anymore. So when Chronicle approached me I was really very excited. They have the feel of a graphic novel. I love the look of the books. And even though you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, it totally helps when the cover is cool and enticing, especially for those reluctant readers. You will have the urge to sit in front of your radio and drink Ovaltine while you read.


Here are the links to the individual books:

The Worst Case Scenario: Everest
The Worst Case Scenario:Amazon
The Worst Case Scenario: Mars

So what do I do to encourage my kids to read? I made this video to give you some of my tips. And I ramble on and on while playing with an elastic band in my hands so that it looks as if I am having some sort of hand seizure. Just ignore that part.

Here is a little teaser video about the Utimate Adventure Mars book. If this doesn’t get your kids excited, well, then you should poke them really hard and make sure they are still alive!

Thanks to Chronicle Books, your kids can have their very own set of Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure books. All three books! Just leave me a comment telling me how you get your kids to turn off the tv, video games, etc and read. Summer is coming soon, we all need some new ideas!
One entry per person.

Posted by Chris @ 9:38 am | 126 Comments  

Six Years Later

April 23, 2012

The more things change…

the more they stay the same.

Posted by Chris @ 4:09 pm | 8 Comments  

A swimmingly good day

April 22, 2012


Posted by Chris @ 9:32 pm | Comments are closed.  

New Firsts

April 19, 2012

First steps, first teeth, first time sleeping through the night…the milestones we try to commit to memory. Over at Alphamom I wrote about the lasts. The last time our kids do things and how it has made me wistful and yes, teary. Go on over and tell me how you feel.

First time renting a tuxedo…


I went with my son and his girlfriend to pick out his tuxedo for the prom. I’d like to say they invited me for my stellar company, but the reality is they invited me for my credit card. Though I will continue to pretend it was the former. The humored me by asking my opinion, which they promptly, though nicely, discarded. For some reason they didn’t really like my suggestion of the purple pimp hat and rhinestone encrusted cane. I know, there is no accounting for their taste.

The prom. PROM!!! You guys, my baby is wearing a tuxedo and going to the PROM! Didn’t I just go to the prom?

He also opened up a bank account of his very own for the first time. I took a photo of him and his girlfriend in the bank, my son luckily has a good sense of humor, but I was laughing so hard that it was blurry. Baby’s first bank account! Is there a place for that in the baby book? Right next to Baby’s first traffic court appearance and Baby’s first poor fashion choice that will one day make Baby laugh? There should be.

One unexpected benefit of growing up is that they want to spend time with you again. Last weeked my son and his girlfriend (and his girlfriend’s mother) joined me, my younger kids, and some friends at a restaurant/bar/arcade/ outdoor band playing place. It was so nice to hang out with them. They have gotten through the angsty teenage stuff and now are people. Fun, interesting, adult-like people.


The funniest part was at about 12:15 (well past their curfews) they came back over to our table, looking exhausted and said, “Why aren’t you guys tired?” Yup, the teenagers got in their car and left before their old mothers.

Posted by Chris @ 12:06 pm | 15 Comments  

the little catcher

April 13, 2012


I sent my 17 year old a text message this morning with a photo of his 7 year old brother. He had been catcher in the previous nights baseball game and looked so cute in his catching costume, sorry I mean uniform.

The message said: OMG Look at how cute the baby is!

He texted me back: In ten years when he is my age, are you still going to be calling him the baby?

Yes, yes I am.

Posted by Chris @ 3:30 pm | 22 Comments  

Easter Egg Hunt, the First

April 11, 2012

It was brutal!

I shouted, “May the odds be ever in your favor!” Which just drew confused looks from my two youngest since they haven’t read the books or seen the movie.


My sweet, sweet daughter gave her entire bag of found eggs to a little girl who was sobbing, having arrived moments too late to the hunt. I was so proud of her. I told her that when we went back home I would give her some candy since she had been so generous.

I went into my closet, where the Easter candy stash had been hiding, and brought her out some jellybeans, a cadbury egg, some peanut butter cups… she looked at it all and said, “Is this candy that you were just going to put in my Easter basket tomorrow?”

“Of course not, “I assured her,”This is what I was going to put in your brothers’ Easter baskets.”

Posted by Chris @ 11:52 am | 22 Comments  

Boys and Girls, They Are Different. Who Knew!?!

April 4, 2012

Last week I was talking to someone about the way my daughter approaches school and the way my sons do. The person said that in her experience as an educator, it was pretty typical of what she saw in her classroom. And that is, the girls care a lot more than the boys about their grades. My daughter does all of her homework for the week on Monday, sometimes opting to stay in from recess to do it at school. My sons I pretty much have to duct tape to their chairs in order to get them to do it at the last minute. And even then, sometimes they just… don’t.

We decided that if we could somehow bottle up my 8 year old daughter’s drive and anxiety surrounding grades, we could be billionaires selling it to the parents of high school aged boys. It would be like an anti-Xanax. (And maybe girls. Neither of us has teenage girls so we don’t know.) Who needs the mega millions lottery!


My daughter was crying. Sobbing, wailing cries. Because she did not get a 100 on her spelling test. She was fairly inconsolable about this. Nothing any of us said made her feel better, in fact most of it was just making her cry more. My 17 yr old, in a rare moment of empathy said to her, “If I cried every time I got a bad grade, well, I’d never stop crying!” Not sure THAT is exactly what I want to hear either. I best get working on the bottling idea.

What I found interesting though was that as we talked about school and grades, all of the kids agreed that girls were smarter, did better in school, and got better grades. This is completely opposite from my experience in school, where the consensus seemed to be that boys were naturally smarter. Personally, I don’t think that either gender is smarter than the other, but I do think that the classroom environment is better suited to girls, at the younger ages anyway.


I have an exciting new project. Over at Alphamom we are changing things up a little bit. After having numerous discussions with friends about teenagers and the issues surrounding raising teenagers, and how we can’t really blog about the things we want to because of privacy issues, I am now going to be taking questions about issues that concern paretns of teenagers. If you need some advice, or want someone to commiserate, feel free to send me an email. Everything will be kept confidential, meaning I won’t post your name or email address or blog url. I am hoping that we can have start some conversations that don’t yet have a forum. I hope you will join me over there to give your input on topics. Or email me a question if you have one: adviceforparentsoftweens@gmail.com

My first post answering someone’s question is up, and it is about teen dating, specifically younger teens. And why, even though when my kids were younger I said it would happen over my dead body, I allow my kids to date. Feel free to weigh in.

Posted by Chris @ 9:25 am | 10 Comments  

Scenes From Sunday

April 2, 2012





The same scene played out over and over again.


And then the little kids’s team was eliminated. And after 5 trillion more games, no I’m not exaggerating, my 11 year old son’s team lost the championship game and got second place. This was wonderfully unexpected because they have not had a good season thus far.

If the energy level of my children that evening is any indication, watching a game is WAY more tiring than actually playing. Sitting in the bleachers in the sun, cheering, was exhausting.

Posted by Chris @ 8:45 am | 3 Comments