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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to Survive a Road Trip with Kids

How to survive a road trip with kids
Subtitle: Seriously babe, we are doing this again? For 12 hours? Why aren’t we on the train? A plane? Fine, fine, just mount up.  
Step 1: Pre-threaten your children. Any good parent has learned the fine art of pre-threatening. This is where you lay out the worst case scenario possible of what could go wrong on this trip and explain explicitly to your children how much pain you will inflict on them if they DARE cross you or create any of the above mentioned situations.  I prefer to do this in Spanish so anyone close to me will not know what I am saying and therefore cannot call Child Protective Services. 
Step 2: Get the car looked at. This is more for your husband’s piece of mind than to prepare your children, but the argument can be made that any instance of breaking down on the side of the road 8 hours from home with two children under the age of ten is something we want to avoid anyway. What you need to be careful of in particular is that you go to a mechanic you trust so they do not see the panicked look in your spouse’s eyes of “please for the love of all things holy do not let us break down with these damn kids” and take you for every dime you have. That you need for tolls.  And gas.  Because we can invent damn phones that have conversations with you and act like butlers but we are still using dinosaurs corpses to make our vehicles move. That makes sense....
Step 3: The hourly gift. This is a little gem I stole from my mom.  Go to the dollar store and for every hour of the trip buy a small toy/candy/coloring book/object for your little one.  I have two kids and the trip to the in-laws is 12 hours so I buy 24 little things.  $24 you think.  Heck no! I hit the 2/$1 or 4/$1 bins or I bust up a multipack.  Why an hour? First, it is easy to count and second it takes about 40 minutes before whining starts.  If you make the gift giving an entire process, it can kill each hour successfully.  Until they are 5.  Then they catch on. Keep reading if your kids are older than 5. 
Step 4: Plan your travel. TRAVEL AT NIGHT.  I cannot stress this enough.  First, and hopefully quite obvious, is that your children will be asleep.  And you want them unconscious for as much of this as possible, right? I mean, didn’t someone even write a children’s book called “Go the F to sleep” or something like that? I knew I wasn’t alone.  Plus, not only will they be asleep, but no one is on the darn road except truckers.  Now, truckers get a bad rap, but what is way worse than truckers are Prius drivers who think their little plastic car has super powers enabling them to teleport in front of you and those trucks without signals.  Fortunately, Prius owners have their little eco-friendly pup tents popped in a state park at night so you can avoid them too.  
Step 5: MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES or TV.... You’re too lazy to shoot 5 hours energies every two hours to make it through the night, whatever.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  However, since I pity you I am strongly advising you to invest in one of these:;jsessionid=C5A7862D721865A4B07A4008AC6C929A.bbolsp-app01-02?id=1218110421046&skuId=9468952
This is a portable DVD player and it will SAVE YOUR LIFE.  Unless you have one kid they will fight over the iPad or the computer, so the two screen are important.  If the trip is long, alternate between the children’s selections.  If you are having a hard time deciding what to show, remember Star Wars?  Kid crack? Once they hear that first ‘duh duh’ of the music the car will drop to silence.  
  Side note: If you travel at night, you might still want to get one of these just in case.  After all, worst case scenario, you can watch Michael Shanks movies (or preferably Stargate) the entire way there.  Yummy...
Step 6: Drugs. Not for you!! You are driving.  I mean for the kids.  Now, I don’t do this because we are health nuts, but I have friends who give the kids Benadryl right before leaving at night and boom, they are out for at least 10 hours.  This creeps me out, but it works... 
Step 7: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Mom, when are we getting there? Dad, can we stop? I have to pee.  No, I can’t hold it. I really have to go.  There’s a McDonald’s!!! No, mom I really have to pee; I don’t want a happy meal.  Thanks for stopping, I thought I was going to explode.  Since we’re here, can I get a Happy Meal? ...... I don’t even want to hear it.  See Step 4 and you could have avoided this entire mess. 
Step 8: Learn to LIE.  Even if you are driving thought the night the kids might wake up at some point.  When they ask, are we there yet, with a smile on your face reply “In about a half an hour.”  Most kids have no concept of time, so they will accept this at least three times in a row before they question you.  If you are driving at night, they will fall back asleep before they can ask again.  If you are a moron and are driving during daylight hours, just change the DVD.
Step 9: The last leg.  At this point in the trip I am done. If hubby has allowed me to actually drive any of the trip it is NOT this part because I am not a morning person regardless of whether or not I have gone to sleep.  Everyone who knows me knows this, in fact, my students will message me “Have you had your coffee yet?” BEFORE they try to ask me a serious question.  However, I have to stay awake to cheer on hubby for this last part of the journey.  Enter Siri, my dearest friend.  On Siri before we leave I create a playlist, and I call it Abydoys (we know where this is going, don’t we??).  I set a four song pattern, three that will make me blissfully daydream about making Daniel Jackson forget that any other woman in the universe ever existed (Not Michael Shanks, I love him, but he is married to a cool and gorgeous lady. Oh, me being married? In my fantasies, I am not me, so it is all good :-) ) and the fourth song to remind me that my husband is driving and to snap out of it and make sure he has not fallen asleep.  Kids at this point, still konked. 
Step 10: Mom!!! *Big hug for awesome mother in law* We’re here! You got me Spanish wine? In advance!! You shouldn’t have (BIG LIE)!! Thank you but it’s only 9 a.m. (And I haven’t slept in over 24 hours) but yes, I will have a glass.  A big glass. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Live in the Country

How to Live in the Country 
Subtitle: Flashback... 8 long years ago.... Jack, honey, are you SURE about this? It seems awful far from civilization.  Ashland is such a cute little town...
A co-entry with my awesome husband Jack, also known as “Hot Roommate” 

Step 1: Establishing your boundaries.  Living in the country is like living 1860’s California.  Regardless of what papers you sign, what the county/township/whathaveyou is taxing you for, you will quite literally need to mark your turf.  This is not a joke.  After living in my home for just a few weeks a man pulled up in my driveway, my LONG LONG LONG driveway with a farmer’s gate across it, to inform me that I would be seeing his hunting dogs run through my property and not to bother them.  When I told him I preferred not to have hunting dogs run through my property, he told me that his granddaddy used to hunt this land and he did not care who thought they owned it now.  I am NOT making this up.  Not long after, Hot Roommate went and bought fence.  Lots of fence.  
Step 2: Learning about wildlife.  Now, I grew up in a rural area, but by rural I mean that when we walked to the country store to get ice cream, my neighbor owned it, not 711.   However, that did not prepare me for moving to the REAL country where I now live.  And did not prepare me for raccoons.  These are quite literally the smartest freakin creatures on God’s green earth.  They have thumbs, of which I was not aware, and can open things better than a five year old child.  They can open trashcan lids.  They can open the latch on your chicken coop (yes, I have chickens, don’t start with me).  They can open the door to your shed.  They can open so much it is honestly kinda scary and horror movie like.  Oh, and they have the rabies.  That’s scary too.  More on the rabies later.  To ward off raccoons you need to figure out what of your stuff they want to get into and then ask a friend who has an eight year old child how they keep them out of said things.  That should keep the buggers out.  
Step 3: Don’t forget the possums and coyotes.  Possums, or opossums for my non-southern readers, think that they are people.  They are not as smart as raccoons, however, they do have this attitude like they should be allowed to come live inside your house, or at the very least, on your porch.  When you try to run them off the porch, they will not run away, in fact they will look at you and hiss as if your wanting them away from your home is not only unexpected but insulting.  And they have the rabies too.  Plus, nearly the entire continent of North America is being overrun by coyotes, which will come into your yard, poop everywhere and rip your chickens apart.  If you are not familiar with real coyotes, they are not Wiley.  They do not hunt Road Runners with sticks of dynamite.  And they have the rabies. 
Step 4: Understanding snakes and other reptiles.  Snakes will pop up anywhere.  You can be walking from your house to your pasture, and bammo, snake.  You can pull back the tarp to get hay for the horses (yes, it’s a farm ok) and bammo snake. You can walk from the sheep pen to the goat pen and bammo snake.  You can be driving to your sister’s house next door on your four-wheeler and bammo snake and almost run into a tree (my sister did that, not me).  There are all of these cute rules about head shape to determine if they are poisonous or not, but really, do you want to bit by that thing anyway regardless of poison level? Just carry an ax. That will help. (And yes, you will have to use the axe to cut it up into little snake pieces)  Also, beware of snapping turtles if you live anywhere near water.  Those bad boys BITE and DON’T LET GO.  You can ID them by.... just ....oh never mind.  Try to avoid things with scales.  Good news though, they don’t have the rabies. 
Step 5: Dumped cats.  First, if you think this entire blog is going to be about critters, you’re wrong, but you need to understand that critters are a HUGE part of country living. (I almost wrote livin’ - see what living out here does to you!!!) People, and not just country people, seem to think that unwanted cats should just be released into the wild like your kid’s butterfly project. This is NOT cool, nor funny, but for soft-hearted people like me, you can create a cat colony that is quite useful.  I can’t get any of these darlings to move inside for the life of me and I am kinda glad since there are eight of them.  That would make me a crazy cat lady and I don’t plan on going that route till Hot Roommate dies. Yet, a cat colony such as this will keep pests like mice, moles, voles, crows and snakes at bay, although these lovely creatures might end up on your porch as a gift of love from your pride.  Don’t touch them without lots of paper towels because dead they can still have the rabies.  Oh, and so can your cats.  Make sure to get them shots to avoid this.  
Step 6: What is the rabies? The rabies is a crazy brain eating disease that animals carry and can give to people.  Remember that movie Cujo? Thems the rabies.  Here is an informational link from Wikipedia , but be warned, if you will remember, drunk nerds like to edit Wikipedia, so if you read this and see something a little off, just ignore it and keep going.  We like to avoid the rabies because if you get the rabies, or might have gotten the rabies, you will have to get shots.  NINE shots.  In the STOMACH.  See why I call it THE rabies instead of just rabies.  Anything that nasty deserves a definite article. 
Step 7: Set rules for your kids. Much like your neighbors will think that it is mid nineteenth century America, your kids will think the same.  It is important to lay some ground rules lest you allow them to turn into animals.  Here are the top three that Jack and I have found are most important: 

Why this is important 
Don’t play in the woods with shorts on. 
Ticks.  You see, ticks in the woods nest. And a tick nest has quite literally MILLIONS of ticks.  Which will cover your child and the only way to rid them of the ticks is to cover them head to toe in Vaseline and let them walk around naked like this for hours, as you chase them to make sure they do not sit on the furniture.  
Please pee indoors
Now while it is cute to let you toddler son tag his territory like a puppy, what is not cute is to allow this behavior to continue as they get older. Because nothing says we have turned into a bunch of rednecks like your kid peeing on a tree at your Labor Day cookout.  
Shut the door
The further you live in the country, the more bugs, which will fly inside you house and take up residence and breed no matter how clean your house is.  Because remember those kitty gifts? Kitties also like hide these around your house. Which attract more bugs, who are waiting for their moment.  
Step 8: Fresh Food. Stop buying produce at the grocery store. One of the coolest things about the country is vegetable stands and they are everywhere.  In fact, where I live, no one even manages these stands, you pay on the honor system. I know right? That still exists. Kinda cool huh? Oh, but you will need cash, because you cannot use your credit card or smart phone to buy tomatoes at the stand with the Folger’s coffee can. 
Step 9: Make sure this is REALLY what you want. Case in point, my neighbors. There are many folks who come to the country and build these extravagant houses and spend thousands on perfect landscaping, park huge boats in their yard that will never see water and expect that the country works like a gated community.  I have neighbors like this who like to call and complain to the nearby farmers that they have let the hay get too high.  Or, when you run into them, like to complain about the deer eating their expensive shrubs.  This ain’t easy living.  There are animals, there are loud jacked-up trucks with noisy exhausts, there is farm equipment that will back up traffic for miles, there are farmers that still use manure for their fields and stick up a five mile radius,  there are bugs,  and in bad weather our roads are never treated. Accept this if you move out here. Popping up speed bumps and stupid signs on our private road because you don’t like to sweep dust off of your concrete driveway just makes you look like an asshat.  
Step 10: Find the local wine shop in town.  Just because you are living in the country doesn’t mean that you should go without Spanish wine.  Oh!! And get satellite TV!!! That way, you will never miss a single TV show or movie that Michael Shanks is in.  Because he is usually on cable. Which we don’t get in the sticks.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

How to Properly Use Social Media

How to Properly Use Social Media
Subtitle: Brianne’s Humor 101 - Don’t ever take anything that seriously.  
Step 1:  Understand social media.  What is social media? Social Media, by definition is: “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)” (Thank you Merriam Webster online).  Or, in normal people words, we don’t like to talk to real people anymore, so we do it online but not even in a direct damn fashion.  Social media, in reality, was invented to connect like minded people that might have passed each other in life and to network for professional ventures. Don’t believe me? Google the founders of ANY social media outlet, I guar-an-damn-tee that their intention was NOT for people to share what they were eating for dinner, their location every five seconds or to beg for money.  
Step 2:  Know your social media. In this step, we shall begin with Facebook.  Facebook is probably the most used form of social media. You can share photos, events, how you are feeling and games with your friends, neighbors and complete strangers in foreign countries.  While you can fill it with a LOT of personal information, there should be a limit to said information.  People have forgotten what kinds of things are private and what kinds of things are not.  Your money problems, private.  Your marital status, private. Your sex life, private.  I don’t want to know about ANY of that, nor do I want to share it with you.  In fact, I am one of those people who will post fake crap concerning those three areas above and more just to screw with you.  
Step 3:  And, on that note, let’s continue with Facebook shall we? Why step 3? Because this needs it’s own step.  If you spilt up with your significant other and are NOT 15 years old, you should NOT go to Facebook FIRST to change your status. Facebook was designed for college students that had nothing else better to do than try to get laid. In fact, the simple fact that “It’s complicated” is an option in relationship bothers me to no end, hence the reason why every chance I get to mess with my awesome husband, I change said status to play with him.  He does it too people, you just aren’t friends with him! This is not to diss my friends who are so sweet and worry about me when I make said crazy changes (or even better when I marry myself off to Michael Shanks / Daniel Jackson who some people thought was my REAL boyfriend LOL - I wish...) The sad part is that you kind sweet people think jokes like I make are real because stupid people are using this to air their dirty laundry, which is not why it was invented.  Keep that crap to yourself or unfriend me. 
Step 4: Facebook, continued.  I am really on a roll here, aren’t I? If I am going to offend, I might as well go full tilt.  Now, the next thing that drives me crazy on Facebook are causes.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully support your cancer run, etc. and will be happy to contribute when I can, but some of your other causes.... that I won’t mention.  Let me put it to you this way, as long as there are starving children and people dying due to a lack of health insurance, I really can’t care about much else. So, you can post it, but don’t tag me in it or put it on my wall because I might tell you how I really feel.  
Step 5:  Facebook, partie quatre. Bragging.  Now, aside from the “I’m in the bathroom right now” and/or “Life sucks. Why does life hate me, screw the world” status people, on the other end of the spectrum we have the braggarts. The ‘my life is peaches and cream perfect’ and I am going to brag about every vacation, shopping trip, life achievement, etc. every five freakin seconds so much so that you want to unfriend me.  You know these people; we all have them in our lists.  This is DIFFERENT from sharing good news with your network, these people look like they artfully craft each and every post to rub in your face how good their life is.  For you people understand this, we are not idiots.  We know you are crazily insecure and need those strokes to your ego.  And we aren’t jealous of you when you post that crap; we just feel sorry for you... (P.S. For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook I only post such things for a) my inlaws because they live 600 miles away and it is easier than calling all of them or b) in smartass retaliation for some else’s stupidity in breaking above the mentioned rules). 
Step 6:  Twitter.  Thought I was going to continue ranting about Facebook, didn’t you? Nope, we are going to move on to the latest trend in media.  Twitter was meant to send short snippets of information to a list of followers.  And stalk celebrities.  Who are using it to self-promote. Which is what it was intended for.  It is not for making friends, keeping friends or anything else that would replace normal human interaction.  I like to read about what people I admire are doing and yes I do tweet to Mr. Canadian Hot Pants and yes he has answered me, more than once, but I do not think that this means I will actually ever be friends with this man nor does it mean that you are friends with who you are tweeting to and/or who tweets you back.  Honestly, I see the purpose as small sarcastic texts sent to an audience.  That’s it. I tweet through Game of Thrones to make fun of each and every little insane detail to amuse myself, and others.  So, if you are doing any of the same things that you are doing in the above mentioned Facebook steps, stop.  It makes you look stupid.

Step 7: Blogs.  Ok, yes, it’s ironic that I am going to blast blogs while writing a blog, but isn’t that the point in this to be ironic.  Or sarcastic.  See, I am trying to teach how my sense of humor works.  Blogging is very cathartic, I know, almost as cathartic as my cheesy stories I write or watching ‘The Wiener's Circle” with my husband (Have you guys seen that? CLASSIC) and while you can blog about what you want, please keep in mind a few things.  Blogs are PUBLIC.  PUBLIC.  People can hunt you down and stalk you if you put on there your freakin location, etc. AND/OR people can search for your your entries and FIND out creepy crap about you.  I have seen blogs that have about every piece of personal information known to mankind but your Social Security number and then you go gripin on Facebook (back to Facebook - see - it all goes back to freakin’ Facebook) that you have weirdoes messaging you OR had your idenitiy stolen.  Can we be smart about this people, ok? 
Step 8:  Now to explain Brianne’s sense of humor (For the humorless and the insanely kind whose friendship I greatly appreciate) 

Social Media Outlet
How it was intended to be used
How Bri uses it
Began as a college student directory (primarily for dating) and expanded to be a directory to track down friends.  
To let long-distance friends and relatives know how my family is doing and to amuse myself by posting insane statuses (stati - what’s the correct plural here) 
To send text messages to a small group of people rather than doing that select all crap with your phone. 
To make fun of things and tweet Michael Shanks. In neither case am I ever really being serious.  
Short, online articles used by publishers to entice further reading.  
Can’t you see the description above.  Basically, I want to be a smart aleck. Ergo, you need to not take ANY of this seriously. 
For people to make small, photo and video based websites dedicated to a topic
Don’t use this, ain’t got the time.  Would LOVE to have the time, but I barely get papers graded, house cleaned and children fed. 
To create boards where things you want to remember are logged for later use
To make a list of fantasy dresses I want custom made that I would legit wear in public AND post pictures of Mr. Canadian Hot Pants. 
Step 9: More on Brianne’s humor part 2.  I am NOT an alcoholic.  It’s a joke.  In fact, there are like 2 bottles of Spanish wine in there.  Unopened.  That might not get opened until this weekend, if I feel like it.  And, since I work out like a freak, I probably won’t feel like it.  Don’t lecture me; I am trying to be funny. If if weren’t for those buckle-hatted bastards we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, would we?
Step 10: Michael Shanks. Thought we’d get to him sooner, didn’t we?  Let’s lay this out there.  I NEVER had a celeb crush as a kid, no Teen Beat or Tiger Pop mags, never.  I got my first and ONLY celeb crush at 30 years old.  Do I think he is a great actor? Yes.  Do I think he is the hottest man on the planet? Yes. Do want to meet him? Yes. Do I plan to run away to Canada to throw myself at him? No, that’s stupid.  It is stupid that people even think that.  In fact, the reason I mention him so much is that it has become an inside joke between me and my husband of 8 years. He thinks it’s funny, and if he thinks it’s funny, then we’re fine.  Again, it is a joke, you people need to take it easy.  And, on the off chance he is reading this and ever gets to this entry - joking aside, I think you are really awesome and would like to buy you a drink :-) 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to Finish Out the School Year

How to Finish Out the School Year
Subtitle: ;sdfjknw;eoirtjawe[ nae’j saioja ojfis’fi w, What, you want final grades by when? aoifj moj am[pjap, What do you mean there is testing in my classroom and we have to move to the gym for a week? oj[mrar[ em[j, Mrs. Who? Oh, you’re the mom I have been trying to call all year, nice to hear from you in May.....
Step 1: Realize that the year will end.  It ends, I promise.  If you don’t believe me, go get your contract, they have to put a date on there.  See?? A real date.  Little better right? No stop, don’t go look at the calendar just yet!!! Stop counting boxes!!! Don’t give me that look; this is ONLY step 1.  Just mark that last day, ok?
Step 2:  NOW you can count the days unless you have worked yourself up into a complete dither as to how many days you have left.  We count the days now because you are going to figure out what days count, and that is not all of them. A day only counts if you are standing in front of the children teaching.  If you never stand in front of the children and teach, you are not a teacher, you are a babysitter, and you need to leave my blog.  People like you make my job harder next year.  Go get a job at a daycare.  Ok, sorry, real teacher rant, but back to my point, on your little calendar, list of days, whatever, here are the days you can cross out that do not count.  Here is a chart to help you (with some alternate activities):

Day that doesn’t count
Alternate Activity
You are asked to move from your classroom to the gym, cafeteria, etc. 
Take the kids outside and play.  Why? Because they are KIDS - our stupid government seems to have forgotten that.  Let them play, even the 18 year olds will play kickball.  
Testing has made first period last period, lunch at 8 am, third first first period and the children are wandering the halls lost. 
Star Wars!! See, the entire saga itself is, in its shortest form,16 hours and even though most kids have seen it it is like kid crack. As soon as they enter your room and see it playing, they will sit down, silent and memorized.  At any age.  Trust me, it works, I’ve tried it.  *Warning - random children might walk in and sit down as well. Make sure you ID these children quickly *
Field Trip day, and it doesn’t matter if it is your field trip or someone else’s, if 1/2 of your kids are going to be gone, it is not a day.
Now, here is where your true prowess as a teacher can shine.  I used these days to play “Dead Poet’s Society” where I would sit on my desk and talk to my students.  THEY thought we were doing nothing, but   in reality I was talking about how learning is cool and relating everything we are talking about socially back to the class.  Former students think I didn’t do that? Uh huh... let’s think about those facebook messages you send me where you are in your college classes and remember something I said in conversation. Yeah, I thought so...
Your exam/major test day
The only day you should be sitting at your desk.  Period. And don’t count this day. 

Step 3: Now count everything not crossed out. THOSE are the days you have left.  SOO much better right? Take a deep breath, do some yoga positions, and recognize that there is not much left. Ok, yes, there may be many more days than you had wanted to see originally, but we can make it, we can. Now we are going to outline some coping strategies now if you can hang with me.  Still not ok? Go ahead, get the Spanish wine.  But just one glass ok, ONE GLASS!! We need to be coherent for _____ days longer.  (Fill in blank with ## discovered in Step 2). 
Step 4: Create your support system.  You will need someone available 24 hours a day, so if your spouse/partner/significant other works you will need to have support in shifts.  These people need to be able to handle everything from a small pep talk to overcoming a slight headache to a complete and total nervous breakdown. Support can be anything, from someone to grade papers to just give you a hug.  Even virtually.  I had a small nervous breakdown the other day and went down my system, hubby was at work, mom was not answering the phone, best friend A at work teaching and probably enduring his own mental breakdown, best friend B different time zone and not up yet and thinks I am insane for becoming a teacher... so I resorted to the internet.  And Michael Shanks. (Of course) He virtually hugged me.  No lie.  Was INSANELY SWEET.  But he refused to grade my papers.  Oh well. I’m sill madly in love with him. Maybe I can convince him to grade later...
Step 5: Have a release.  Personally, I like a physical release. Stop. Right there. I am a runner sicko. An iPod and mileage are the best way to release.  If you are teaching in a school, run during your planning period or right after you are done with you afternoon duties.  I teach online, so I use my lunch hour and eat afterwards.  A mile is good, two is better, three is bliss. Absolute bliss.  Because at a rate of 8-10 minutes per mile 3 miles allows you 24-30 minutes of Stargate fantasies, just you and Daniel, in the lab.... I mean, you sweat good, your heart rate is up and you feel great, wait, dammit,  let’s just go to Step 6...
Step 6:  Food.  Don’t let yourself slide here my friends, because you need to be eating, a lot and well, but you cannot forget that bathing suit season is RIGHT AFTER you put those little darlings on the bus.  So stop with the chinese take-out, even though there are 1001 reasons why after trying to control those sun drugged hooligans all day, enduring meeting after meeting about tests that the people who have never set foot in a classroom have created, or sitting outside of the bathroom trying not to gag on the scent of feces and cigarette smoke, that you do not want to cook.  Which is fine.  Just order salad. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Real coffee, not that decaf mess.  I still don’t understand  that decaf mess, I mean, who drinks decaf, Jack (hot roommate - remember?), honey, can you get me another cup, yes I know it’s 3 am, I have seventeen more AP essays to grade, yes, brew an entire pot, I mean really, decaf, what in the hell....
Step 7: Ok, I finished grading at 5 am and am up at 8 so let’s forget step 7. Can someone forward this to Michael Shanks? Please? He has GOT to need a personal assistant.  Are you reading handsome? I am more than willing to come and assist you as needed to get out of grading these freakin’ papers. I clean and do laundry. I can also cook some MEAN Mexican food, but I know how they starve actors, so I am pretty creative with veggies as well. I am also Type-A personality, so I can keep you completely organized and even run lines at all hours since I am awake anyway grading damn papers. I’m preconditioned!  See, perfect, it’s a win win for everyone! (My email can be reached by commenting on the blog (hint hint). 
Step 8: The AP exam is over!! WHY DO I KEEP GIVING THESE CHILDREN WORK!?!? Oh, wait, it’s policy. Damn policy.  Back to step 8, which is, if you can, stop giving the children work.  Use this time of the year, post idiotic testing, to do what teachers did before politicians got into education:  TEACH.  Yes, that thing you went to school to learn how to do.  I teach dancing, cooking, culture, all of the fun stuff.  And don’t think you can’t because you can.  Your principal at this point is just waiting for scores to come back and is paying you no mind.  
Step 9:  Enjoy the little things. At the end of the year, the little boogers actually bring you things.  I might teach online, but I still have to visits schools face to face a few times a year and my kids bought me flowers, had a little dessert party and drew me pictures.  You better believe those flowers were on my desk until they died and those pictures are hanging on my wall.  Enjoying these little things takes your mind off how bad you want to choke them as they line up at the door to leave 15 minutes before the bell rings, and as we have discussed before, avoiding jail is always a bonus.  
Step 10:  Book a trip to Disney.  You thought I was going to say Spanish Wine, didn’t you? I am, just in a different location. Book a trip to Disney World with your best friend and make sure that your family and his/her family have adjoining rooms.  Turn in that final grade sheet, lock your classroom, get in the car in go.  Don’t worry yourself with the wine, there will be plenty down there, I promise (after all, it is a family theme park and they need something for the parents to do to calm there nerves after 10 hours of Mickey Madness).  Get to your hotel, check in, hug your best friend and head to the local wine shop.  You’ve got some relaxing to do.  Because your kids are going to wake you up at 6 a.m. to go to the park.  Dammit....

Monday, May 14, 2012

How to Drink Properly

How to Properly Drink 
Subtitle: You are grown; the time for Natty Ice and Boone’s Farm is OVER.  Us cultured people make fun of those people.  We don’t want to be made fun of, do we? 
Step 1: As my subtitle indicates,  it is important that you have a clear understanding of what is proper alcohol.  In order to do this, you must first experience the worst of the worst.  How do you determine the worst? If you are young enough to get away with it, slip into a frat party.  Whatever beer they are passing out to the freshman will be the worst beer. Do not confuse this with what the seniors are drinking, sometimes they had already had an older friend fix them. As far as wine goes, pretty much anything sold at a gas station is considered the worst in this department.  And for liquor, anything in a bottle made of plastic.  Unless that plastic if a reused gallon milk jug of moonshine, in which case you are now buying the best liquor even though it comes in plastic.  More on moonshine later.  Buy one of each of all three. 
Step 2: Set up a tasting with your friends.  If you are still at the point in your life where you think a tasting is snotty (I hope this entry will change that) you can instead enjoy a drinking game.  The internet offers a wide variety of complicated drinking games, the best of which in my opinion circle around the theme of a TV show or movie.  If you like something contemporary there is an excellent game for Game of Thrones going around.  If not, here is a basic Stargate game I have created that should be useful (and this show is on Netflix, so you can do this any time of the day):

Activity on Show
Number of Shots/Sips/Chugs
Teal’c says “Indeed”
One shot
Jack says something sarcastic
One shot
Samantha saves the day because she is the smartest person on the show by millions of IQ points
Two shots
Daniel argues something that Jack calls sissy
One shot
You completely lose track of what the hell is going on because Michael Shanks is so damn beautiful that nothing else really matters
Three shots - hell, at this point just start chugging.  And keep watching.  He only got hotter as the show went on...
Step 3: Wake up the next morning. Make some Blackberry Tea (trust me - my sister in law taught me this trick - GOLDEN).  Swear that you will never do this again.  Don’t worry, you won’t.  I am here to fix that. You now have your basis for comparison. 
Step 4: Back to the store.  Here is what you need to purchase.  This is going to be a costly trip, so bring a friend, or friends or make sure you at least have a credit card with reward points.  
  1. WIne: Buy a few reds from Europe and a some whites from Virginia, Australia, Oregon or Washington.  Do NOT buy anything that says sweet.  That is not wine.  That is a wine cooler for people who think they can get away with still drinking wine coolers because it comes in a different bottle. As for the types of wine you should buy, I will explain the basic types in Step 5. 
  2. Beer: Read the label. It needs to come in bottles and it needs to have been made within a 50 miles radius of your home OR comes from a known microbrew.  If it comes in a can or cardboard box, do not buy it.  
  3. Liquor: Ever heard the phrase top shelf? Guess where the good liquor is? 
Step 5: Know your wines. Here are the major categories of wine and their basic descriptions:
  1. Merlot - Really really dry red wine.  Makes your mouth dry wine.  Usually tastes like licked a piece of plywood. Very herby. Makes you look sophisticated to drink.  
  2. Syrah/Shiraz - A hearty dry red wine.  Good for spice lovers.  Lots of tannins which is like LSD for the tongue.  Makes you look like you know about wines when you drink this one. 
  3. Cabernet sauvignon - Smooth, easy red wine. Good for first timer.  Great wine for steaks. Can be kinda peppery.  Makes you look like a non-snotty red wine drinker because everyone has heard of it.  
  4. Malbec - yummy South American snottiness
  5. Pinot Noir - dark delish French (the best anyway) goodness that is good with chocolate
  6. Zinfandel - not a wine - skip this
  7. Sagiovese - fantastic Italian - work up to this
  8. Barbera - see wine #7
  1. Chardonnay - Dry white wine. Popular with women. Will make you either look like a sophisticated woman or just a woman when drunk by a man. 
  2. Sauvignon blanc - Dry white, but not as dry as Chardonnay. Herby taste but the awesome winemakers of South America like to mix goodies into this, like mango.  Makes you look like a smart white wine drinker. 
  3. Pinot Grigio - little sweeter than the SB or C but still actually tastes like alcohol.  That is what we are going for here friends.  If you cannot taste the alcohol this defeats the purpose of drinking like a grown-up. 
  4. Moscato - gas station wine
  5. Riesling - fun German bubbly wine that is a tiny bit sweet but still dry and actually tastes like alcohol
As a side note, wine should be made out of fruit.  Nothing else. And if the fruit is not a grape, make sure that the wine tastes like alcohol.  Not Kool-Aid. Period.  
Step 6: Know your beers. Here are the major categories of beer: 
Ales and Lagers.  That’s pretty much it.  There are some sub categories, but like the wine, we need to start small. The difference boils down to this, Ale are heavier and heartier (think European beer) and Lagers are lighter and clearer (think American beer). One is really not better than the other, it just depends on what you are eating and what you are in the mood for.  And it should taste like beer. Not piss.  If you are choking it down, that is not beer.  Beer should taste hoppy and yummy.  AND it should probably cost about $8-$10 for a six pack of bottles. Seriously.  Wine does not always follow this rule, i.e. Two Buck Chuck at Trader Joe’s, but beer does.  If your beer purchase costs more than the groceries of the family of four ahead of you and you only have like two six packs, you have done well my friend.  
Side note: I have been informed by a good friend as I write this blog that apparently it is hipster ironic to “Drink PBR while driving a car worth over $20,000.” Well, not while driving, I don’t condone that, but being in possession of said car.  You know what I mean. 
Step 7: Know your liquors. Here are the major categories of liquor:
  1. Vodka - Russian burny alcohol. Lot o’ burny. Good with OJ.
  2. Gin - Old lady burny. Good with juice according to Snoop Dogg. 
  3. Rum - Middle aged burny. Good with coke, even diet if you are trying to lie to yourself about the calorie content of your indulgence.
  4. Tequila - Mexican burny.  Actually has legit taste with burny. Good stuff includes worms.  My favorite kind of burny.  Would make my life to shoot this with Michael Shanks.  (Well this or moonshine. Hey handsome, you ever had moonshine?)
  5. Whiskey - Redneck burny. Strongest taste of all.  My brother’s kind of burny.  Add nothing to this drink kind of drink. 
There are many others, but this is a good start.  After all, I am only trying to teach you to drink, not to tend bar.  That might have to be another entry...
Step 8: Moonshine. Yes, shine gets is own step.  Thanks to reality television, most of you know what moonshine is and how it is made.  If you don’t, I suggest checking out this link: . (I really should get paid for this!!) Moonshine can come in many flavors, but my top three are a) Apple Pie, b) Sweet Tea and c) Peach.  Butterscotch is ok and I have had plain, watermelon and strawberry, but nothing beats those three.  I love moonshine so much that it is hard to be sarcastic in this posting.  I love moonshine more than Spanish wine, I just have to function the next morning so Spanish wine usually wins.  
Step 9: The tasting. Now, here is where I snob you up. Put away the beer pong cups, the printout of step 2 from above, anything you used before.  And, while you are at it, get your friends to bring over some food, good food, like expensive cheeses and crackers and sushi. Lay everything out on a spread for all to see and start drinking.  And TALK about what you drink.  This is NOT stupid. What is stupid is going into a business dinner at 35 years old and have no idea what to order. What is stupid is hosting a party where you buy a ton of beer, etc. and no one drinks it because it is so bad.  Like anything else in life you have to learn how to do this.  Do not get drunk! Are you listening to me or have you already starting drinking!?!? Dammit, why don’t you people ever listen to me once we pull out the booze!?!?! Quick - someone still reading start the coffee!!! 
Step 10: Oh, you’re still here? Can you still read? Try this: saodfgjnagnagn . Just kidding; that was a test.  Oh, I’m still here.  I will have my wine AFTER I finish writing the blog like I expected you to start drinking AFTER you read it.  Yes, there is a step ten and that step is, only drink with friends.  Not just the DD or take the keys issue but friends will clean up your puke and put you to bed.  Friends will not let you drunk call your ex.  Friends will make you stop internet stalking and tweeting your celeb crush. Friends make sure that you do not act like too much of an ass. 
And then record it.  
To put on YouTube. 
I hate you people... 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to Survive a Playdate

How to Survive a Play Date
Subtitle - For some asinine reason you have to now be friends with the parents of the kids your kids know and they are 99% of the time ape-shit crazy.
Step 1: What in the hell is a Play Date you may ask? A play date is just what the title implies, it is a date to play.  Yes, and I want someone to research this and get back to me, but in the 21st century kids don’t just go over one another’s houses any more to play.  Their parents come along.  And you have to sit there. And entertain them too.  Wait, you might be asking, doesn’t that help you out? Aren’t they there to watch their own kid so your kid can play AND you don’t have to worry about yelling at another kid? No, they’re not. They STILL don’t. They would rather sit and gossip to you about every other mother in your kid’s class, every other woman in the neighborhood, or any other woman you might possibly have dirt on while their little brat rips around you house.  Note I say women. This is because men are smart enough not to agree to this. 
Step 2: Now that you know what a play date is, how do you arrange one? Let’s begin with how NOT book a play date.  Do NOT buy play date cards. What’s a play date card? Google it, because I don’t want to get sued by putting a link to one here.  I’ll wait; I’ve got a shirtless pic of Michael Shanks on my desktop to stare at while I wait.  Found them, didn’t you? Yeah, they are for real. No, this is not Victorian England; I think that anything on HBO is proof of that.  Insane, right? Don’t do that.  Instead, in an effort to try to normalize this ridiculous trend, try a good old fashioned hand-shake and “Are you and your kids free this Saturday?” Since you are asking like humans used to do before technology, you might actually get a normal person, since the neo-yuppie-parenting magazine- show-offs will not understand something that did not come from their iPhone. (Not that I don’t love iPhones - Siri and I are TIGHT, not like that, ugh, stop.) 
Step 3:  You’ve gotten someone to agree to come over.  Someone who knows how to speak to another human being. Excellent.  Now you must prepare.  
Now, first, obviously, you have never had this little demon in your house.  Granted they could be the nicest child on the planet, but they could also could be the incarnate of Lucifer himself.  You don’t want anything broken and if you are like me you also need to move your expensive antique furniture to your bedroom because while you might have trained your kids to not act like animals chances are you are the only one.  However, the  irony in all of this is that you also need to hide these things from the parent guest because they will start right in “complimenting” your home.  By “complimenting” I mean scrutinizing the hell out of it.  In my case, I get the “Awww... your house is so pretty, how can you afford it on a teacher’s salary.” This is where my posting on “How to not punch a $%@*@ in the $&@*!” comes into play (see Monday May 7th 2012). The best way to avoid this is to hide everything.  Scan your house, look for anything that might be a conversation piece and HIDE IT.  That way, you don’t need to keep your bail list handy.  
Step 4: Plan some kind of activity.  Again, this kills two birds with one stone.  First, you are occupying junior to an extent and saving your home from imminent destruction.  Second, you are keeping mom near junior, where hopefully she will be less likely to gossip in front of little ears.  Just don’t plan a craft. A craft, especially involving glue, glitter or paint defeats the entire purpose of planning an activity.  I suggest something that is simple but takes a really long time.  Something like frisbee or kickball.  That keeps everyone outside and wipes the little boogers out.  
Step 5: Have a back up plan. It might rain, in which case you need a good indoor activity.  For such an activity, I recommend a puzzle or a board game.  Here is why: since there are often small pieces and complicated rules you will need to help your child play and therefore you can avoid the above mentioned mommy conversation.  A puzzle or a game also keeps them confined to one room and helps avoid the TV conversation.  Again, for your newbies, this is the part of the parent conversation where your visitor now lectures you on everything that they allow their child to watch, do not allow their child to watch and try to persuade you to agree with them.  Whatever their reasons, they all come from the Puritan influence on our society, which will be a later co-post I am working on with a friend.  
Step 6: Food. Every play date involves snack time. THIS is where you can play your hand, a hand that will either give a signal to the parent that you want them back or can send them running.  Why? Because the judgment by the other parent continues!! You think they are only looking at your house, your activity choice, your television restrictions, but now they get to criticize your food.  We eat pretty healthy around here and I have been told that parents ‘feel sorry’ for my kids because they eat fruit and carrots for snacks.  Yeah, true story.  Breathe in, breathe out.  So, look, just do this, buy a box of those Capri Suns and get some Chex Mix.  Honestly, I have had very few people complain about this one because Capri Suns don’t have dyes and are lower in calories and Chex Mix is low fat and tastes good and the store bought kind does not have peanuts, so no allergy warnings.  And, it’s cheap. We don’t really want to spend money on this, do we? That is of course if you want them to come back.  If you don’t, simply serve the opposite of what they have been preaching this entire play date. Or buy Hershey bars.  Most people still think that sugar makes kids hyper, even though it has been disproven OVER AND OVER (proof: but most people do not read anything that has big words. If you serve the Hershey Bars then the parent will hate you forever and never bring their brat back.  You might not even needs steps 7-10!!! (Well you always needs step 10, but we have learned what that is, haven’t we?) 
P.S. - Hershey Bars will work even if your neo-yuppie-parent magazine guest knows sugar does not make kids hyper because it is chocolate and chocolate has caffeine.  Need I say more? 
Step 7: The conversation.  Even if you have taken all of my steps above to heart, you will still need to interact, to an extent, with the other parent.  Again, the direction that you take depends on whether or not at this point you want this person(s) back in your home.  If you do, have at it and talk it up. Enjoy yourself and keep thinking that I was making all of this up and play dates are not so bad.  However, chances are that you are dying inside.  In which case, here is my advice.  Play crazy.  I am not kidding here.  And not institutional crazy, some of these crazies will call Child Protective Services on you, but bored mommy crazy. Hobby/obsession/fan crazy.  Bet you know what mine is...The minutes the words “I am in love with Daniel Jackson would you like to read my Stargate insert character fan fiction,” cross my lips, the play date might as well be over.  Now, I think there is nothing wrong with writing cheesy Mary Sue insert character fan fiction, especially since mine was all written late a night when my kids were asleep, my hubby was working, Primetime TV was sucking and I was bored and awake, but most people think that not only being a fan of something NOT trending on Twitter AND actually writing or doing something creative about it is insane. Completely insane.  AND most other parents think that the only women that like Science Fiction are either a) really boys or b) desperate fan-girls with no lives , so when me, normal mom with life mentions that I like it, the annoying moms go running.  Works every time.
Step 8: Ending the play date.  So soon, you think? At only step 8? Yes, we are through with this. Before the play date itself starts, have your out preplanned.  Make yourself sound sooooo busy, that you are trying sooooo hard to squeeze this play date in because our kids as friends in soooo important.  Makes yuppie mom feel good about herself, and she needs that. Lets you set limits and you need those more.  Come up with something concrete that you would never be able to get out of.  I like to use family members, i.e. my mom has this huge farm and I promised to help her when the farrier came, etc.  Then, as soon as you get annoyed by your caller, you can look at the clock, act shocked about the time and leap up, trying to frantically prepare for your second appointment.  Most people will take the hint and start to get their brat ready.  If not, just go tell your kids they have to say goodbye to their friend and start cleaning up.  After the clean-up, their little urchin will start whining that there is nothing to do now that the toys are away, and that should clue them in.  
Step 9: Unless the play date went spectacularly well, OR you invited someone over you actually like that just happens to have kids, you will need to sit down and explain to your own kids that Child X cannot come over to play again because they are an impudent hellion and their parent is certifiable without using those words.  Rather than give you an example here, I will give you a script.  “Honey, I hope you had fun today.  I was talking to _________ ‘s mommy today and everyone is so busy that it might be a long time before we can get together to play again, but we will try.”  Come on! It’s not lying!!  It’s called “Withholding the truth.”  We do that all of the time about sex with the kids and it is suddenly wrong here? Damn Puritans. Just do it, ok? Haven’t you learned to trust me yet?!
Step 10: You survived.... until next time.  Who the hell knows when this trend will end? I mean, today you have to do it for your seven year old, but if stupid parenting trends take this into the tween years, well I don’t know about you, but that might call for drastic measures over here.  I will start planning them now and keep you posted.  But for now, let’s not think about that, let’s pull out that Spanish wine and send your angel off to play by themselves.  And pull up that fan fic... because Daniel Jackson doesn’t have any damn kids... (Michael Shanks on the other hand does, which is why we are using Daniel here.  I wonder if he goes through this shit too? Hmmmmm....)