7 Ways to Deal With Problems on the School Bus and Mostly Not Get Arrested

This morning I was seeking solutions to some ongoing school bus woes. I thought brainstorming here may help to clarify an appropriate course of action for me to take. Because despite my many (many) deficits, I am trying really hard to do this adulting/parenting thing correctly. I came up this list of seven possible solutions this morning.

7 ways to deal with a kid who is bothering your kid on the bus:

  1. Call the school, let the principal and support staff handle it.
  2. Tell your child to ignore it and the other kid will get bored and move on.
  3. Tell your child to stay respectful but stand up for his/herself and others when this clearly unhappy person is acting up.
  4. Pull your kids off the bus and drive them to and from school each day while cursing the broken school system and the ongoing breakdown of society.
  5. Call the school, let the principal handle it and pull your kids off the bus until you are assured that the problem has been effectively dealt with.
  6. Walk up to the offending kid in the morning, after drop-off and say: “ Keep your mouth shut and your hands off the other kids on the bus. I have over thirty years longer experience than you do at being a cunty bitch and you DON’T want to challenge me. You will lose. Now mind your fucking manners and make something good out of your life.” Use your meanest, most menacing Liam-Neeson-in-‘Taken’ face and voice.
  7. Homeschool.

I know it should not be quite so hard to decide on a course of action, but it is. Adulting is stupid hard. You want to be mature, serene, wise and calm, set a positive example and raise good and kind humans while at the same time you want to tell shitty humans who bother other children exactly what they are, where to go and how you’ll help them to get there, using a lot of extremely immature, inflammatory, ugly and yet momentarily immensely satisfying words.

Well, this exercise did not work out exactly as planned. I am still undecided on how to proceed and now my kids will be late for school. Oh well. I guess I’ll load my kids into the minivan now and figure it out along the way.

Or, I suppose I could just resurrect Mildred.

What would you do?

~A.

Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 3 of 3

In Part Three of the Engagement ring series we get into the more recent history of engagement rings and finally get to the part where I figure my shit out.

The Past 150 Years of Engagement Rings

With the discovery of diamonds in South Africa and the founding of DeBeers Mining Company in 1880, it was the beginning of the end. Within a decade DeBeers controlled 90% of the world’s diamond production. And what better way to get those diamonds into the hands of people who didn’t need them and couldn’t afford them than to stick them on engagement rings and start advertising them as a truest symbol of forever, true love and devotion and the ultimate measure of how much your husband-to-be loved you?

Following the Great Depression of 1929, one of the most recognizable slogans of all time, “A diamond is forever” was created and the notion that the value of true love, or sufficient proof of true love, was two months of a fella’s salary – not on the engagement ring, but on THE ROCK. This was a generation of people who were just out of economic hardship that rocked the world as they knew it, but I wonder if that experience with poverty made them primed for fleecing by advertisers. Having been raised or at least lived so long doing without or making do, perhaps people needed to feel flush again, as though the money troubles really were behind them and that the future was going to be all rainbows, free-flowing liquor and pots of gold.

Fast-forward to present day. The diamonds have gotten bigger and the inclusion of multiple diamonds has upped the ‘sparkly factor’ exponentially. Diamonds are now, thanks to some handy-dandy technology, available in numerous colours from pink to black in unlimited quantities (coloured diamonds occur only very rarely in nature). High quality “fake” diamonds, like lab-created moissanite (again, occurring very rarely in nature, but quite prolifically in labs) are gaining in popularity and making even bigger and more ostentatious rings available to the middle-class. Moissanite is touted as “an affordable option” when diamond shopping. Again, the push is on to get the biggest most expensive (looking) engagement ring possible. WHY?

So, after all of this research and thought – do I still covet that left-ring finger sparkler?

Unfortunately, yes, I do (pun unintended), but not for the reasons I thought. But after this journey of discovery, I realize that my desire for that elusive diamond ring does not stem from needing my husband to ‘prove’ that he loves me, he proves that every day when he goes to work and provides for our family. Nor does it stem from having to compete with or prove my worth to strangers. No, my desire for that ostentatious, sparkly diamond ring comes down to this: the feeling, the sight, the experience of wearing beautiful jewelry makes me feel happy. I do not care much about the kind of car that I drive, the clothes that I wear, the handbag that I carry or the restaurants in which I dine; when it comes to those things, I’m basically completely neutral, as long as it runs well, fits without cutting off my circulation, does not weigh a tonne or fall apart within a week, or poison me, I’m good.

Doing these posts has given me some time to think about what makes me feel happy, what I need more of and what I need to do less of to increase my overall satisfaction. I do not believe that life is not about being happy all the time, it is a series of cycles that include happiness as a part of the cycle. I think that we need to identify and embrace those things that make us feel happy, identify and manage those things detract from our happiness, and come up with strategies for those things we just need to do because someone has to do it (and we all have those things!). The latter two can wait until another post, but for now some of the things that make me feel the happiest (in no particular order and not including my family) are: being at home, writing, reading, Pink Lady apples, cooking/baking, chocolate, sleeping, very big sparkly jewelry, flamingos, dragonflies, music, school, travelling to new places, taking pictures, really comfy track pants, office supplies and stationary.

 

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

Are you kidding me? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Every now and then, I get a wake up call that serves to show me that what I had always suspected is true. Sometimes it’s an accidental wake up. Other times, I go looking for it. And sometimes, it’s forced upon me after willfully hiding from it forever.

It’s no secret that I have a long-standing fear and avoidance relationship with having my picture taken. I can sometimes take one of myself, and if I do, I’m usually surrounded (read: protected) by my children, but generally, as soon as someone wants to take my picture, or there is a video recording being taped, my anxiety begins to rise and I start looking for a way OUT. I could spend an entire post psychoanalyzing WHY I’m photo-adverse, but that’s not the point of this post, so I’ll leave that for another angst-filled day.

No, the point of this post is to say “what the fuck, guys?!? Why didn’t any of you tell me that I have gotten THIS far out of control and that I’m walking around looking like a frumpy, middle-aged, worn down and tired out sack of shit?” But that was too long for the title, so I’m just putting it out there now.

Seeing myself on video, without the protective shield of my children was painful, embarrassing, uncomfortable and just plain, UGH. The fact that the video was for a school assignment made it just that much more UGH because I had to share it with other, SIGHTED people

But, you know me (or, if you don’t, you’ll quickly learn that) I’m not one to hold a grudge (ha!), so I’m just going to take it from here and start turning this ship around. No more complacency in my own gluttony and sloth. No more convincing myself that I can eat “just one slice/square/cookie/tub of ice cream.” I can’t. My willpower and self-control is not that highly evolved yet and it is time that I take ownership of that fact and stop being a victim of circumstance and emotions.

So, that said, I’m also a realist in a  lot of ways. I know that the best way for me to fail is to completely swear off sugar, white flour, junk food, pizza, and desserts forever. So I’m not doing that. I’m going to take a more mindful approach to food and what my purpose is in eating whatever it is that I’m about to stuff into  my gob. I have found that more often than not, if I stop and really think about what I’m eating, why I’m eating it and what effect eating it will have on my health, both physical and mental, I can easily resist the urge.

When I was younger, my weight struggles were about vanity and appearances. Now that I’m older, my weight issues are about health and mortality and being fully present for my family. You see, I have this goal to live to be at least 106-years-old and to share a beautiful, triple-layered chocolate cake frosted with pink vanilla buttercream with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and I am painfully aware that it is going to to take more than a wish and a prayer to get there. It’s going to take mindful, willful, determined effort, and only I can make it happen.

I am a mindless eater. Awareness is half the battle. The other half of the battle will be choosing to switch my modus operandi from mindless to mindful and I’m calling today day one. And I may call tomorrow day one as well. And I may call every day from here on out day one, because as long as I’m trying, I’m not failing. As long as I’m trying, there is hope. As long as I’m trying, I will, eventually, figure out my way through even the hardest of obstacles.

Yes, for some of us, even stairs are an obstacle.

 

It’s not about bashing men, so just stop it.

This is NOT a post bashing men by any stretch of the definition. I just finished reading an article, by Mark Manson, a fellow I started reading not so very long ago. His most recent article is an attempt to understand what has gone wrong for men and why, and it is a worthwhile, informative and entertaining read. Mark uses the right mix of humour and fact to get his point across to the reader. And the subject matter (the reality and meaning of being male in our society) is important for all of us to understand. It is as important to understand what has gone wrong for men as it is to understand the reality faced by women, children, the elderly, black, asian, Muslim, disabled/other-abled, LGBTQ communities, indigenous people, and every other ‘group.’

Read Mark Manson’s: What’s the problem with men? 
 
When I first became a mother, I was young and single and female. I did not know the first thing about the male psyche or experience that hadn’t been touted to me as ‘fact’ through the mainstream media. Since I was decidedly going to remain female, first hand knowledge was impossible, so instead I set about learning everything that I could about ‘boys’ so that I would be able to do my very best to raise my son to be more than just a ‘stereotypical guy’ who was only out for power and dominance at the expense of women and other less powerful segments of society.
 
My parenting goals now are different and focused less on gender similarities and differences and more geared toward encouraging all of my children, male or female, to be better people, kinder, more empathetic, inclusive, generous and thoughtful everyday. I want them to express their emotions, even the unpleasant ones in healthy ways, and to share their thoughts and ideas without the fear of being shut down. I want them to have the strength and confidence to encourage others to do the same, and, to always look within for validation and purpose rather than looking toward someone else, who is likely just lost, to lead their path through life.
So, that’s it for me today. I just wanted to share with ya’ll what has been occupying my mind while I procrastinate doing my homework. I hope that you give the article a read and share your thoughts – either here in the comments section or on the Twitter or Facebook pages. The older I get, the more I appreciate hearing all different points of view and ideas. The older I get, the more excited I am to learn new things about subjects that I was not that impressed with in my youth. It would seem that spending my childhood in school was likely wasted on me, although it did keep me off the streets. But honestly,  I am far more open to learning now than I ever was then. On the sunny side  though, I did learn how to read and write and do long division, so it’s not like it was a complete waste of time. 😂
~A.

Suck a what? And how long have I been trapped in a minivan?

So, on Friday, Mr. K.B. took a day off work to get some things done that he has been needing to get done, and also to hang out with me (because who wouldn’t want to hang out with me, right?). Now, remember, we’re married and have four kids living in our house. This means that opportunities for us to hang out together by ourselves (that may be an oxymoron?) come around about as often as that Super Moon deal that we missed last year.

Anyway, so we were out and about town in his car and I was telling him how I didn’t really know how to use his Sirius radio set up, so when I was driving his car earlier that day, I just pushed the one button and left it at that. He started to show me how easy it was to use both the preset channels and to just scan for a station. Then, to demonstrate, he spun the knob and landed on a random station. When the signal caught up to the channel, this is what we heard:

“suck a dick, suck a dick, suck a, suck a, suck a dick…”

and then I was like, what conversation was this fella having that preceded these lyrics? Because if it was anything other than this:

dude is definitely NOT going to get his dick sucked.

I’m no prude or anything, but may I ask just exactly HOW LONG I been being held hostage in a minivan full of kids? When did music change this much? I mean, just yesterday, the kids and I were happily listening to the 2017 Grammy Nominee CD that we borrowed from the library and I was feeling all “up-to-date” and “current” and then today, I find out I have NO IDEA what the hell is going on out there. Here I was, upset that my kids are already being exposed to gangster rap in elementary school, while I should have just been thankful that they’re not walking around the house singing “suck a dick.”

Fuck.

So, two things come from this impromptu music lesson. 1) I’m keeping my head, heart and ears firmly planted in music pre-2000, and 2) It will be another decade or longer before I am morally able to join the ranks of satellite radio subscribers.

They represent me perfectly. The princess and the basket case. C’est moi.

Note: I was going to Google it and try to post a link, but then I thought – with all of the ad targeting bullshit do I really want paid ads showing up for me on Amazon, Facebook, or anywhere else that are encouraging me to suck a dick? Probably not. I’m still annoyed that everywhere I go online I see ads for hemorrhoid cream (you ask Google ONE question about something you heard about models using Preparation H as an under-eye cream and you’re marked for life. Take my word for it, just accept the wrinkles).

Nope. Just don’t do it.

And that’s how my life went from PG to XXX in one turn of a radio dial.

~A.

This is the year

So, in keeping with my modus operandi, this post was slated to be published on the last day of 2016 and it is now January 1, 2017. To state the obvious, it goes without saying that I failed to achieve my final writing goal of 2016. Procrastination rules supreme, you can take the girl out of lazy but you can’t take lazy out of the girl, and all that. Moving right along (because enough about me being a slug), I am placing a fair amount of pressure on myself to achieve certain goals in 2017. I’m not sure that I would or could call them resolutions, but they are very definitely (hashtag-less) goals. Despite my joking and propensity for self-deprecating humour, I actually did accomplish a fair amount in 2016. As always though, I am left feeling as though I let myself (and everyone else) down.

And no, not because I’m still on intimate terms with the extra 40 (or 50) pounds I’ve been in a complicated relationship with for the past five years. Not because I have STILL not written a novella, novel or even a really great blog post. Not because I remain a low-wage earner. Not even because my house is still in a state of renovation and disarray, with no end in sight. No. I am left, here at the end of 2016, feeling as though I have let myself down because I know better and yet consistently do not do better.

I know that I should exercise (walk, lift, yoga, whatever), and yet I do not. I know that I should give up chocolate, french fries, Diet Pepsi, chips, meat, refined white flour, sugar and sweeteners and yet I do not. I know that I should be going to bed earlier, getting more sleep, rising earlier and getting more done in a day, and yet, I do not. I know that I should be writing every single day  and pursuing other creative and artistic endeavours and yet, I do not. I know that I should be ever patient, calm and serene with my children, and yet, I am not. I know that I should get those paint cans shaken (again) and get to painting rooms where it makes sense to do so, and yet, I do not.

You see? I know better and yet I do mediocre. I make excuses for myself. I’ll tell myself that I have a  lot to do, I have a lot on my plate with running the house, raising the kids, being a wife and mother, with working more and more hours outside of the home. And of course it’s acceptable that I don’t make time for myself or time to pursue what makes my spirit sing, you can’t make what you don’t have. Of course it’s acceptable that I burn the candle at both ends so that nobody, myself included, has a chance of getting the best that I have to offer. Of course it’s acceptable to take on more and more and more and to not acknowledge how overwhelmed or unfulfilled or unhappy I may be as a result. Of course it is.

Not.

So this  year, this year of 2017, will be a kinder, gentler year for me. A more accepting and relaxed year. No, I’m not quitting my family, marriage or work (going from low to no-wage earner is not an option), but I am going to work on actually (rather than just thinking about) making myself more of a priority and giving myself the time, care and attention that I NEED in order to be happy, fulfilled, healthy, and truly able to do better in all areas and give more to all the people in my life. Because the more I deny myself, the more that I am denying the people around me, which is counter-intuitive to my ‘healer and helper’ nature (stop snickering! I am very nurturing when I’m not being pulled in twenty directions at once).

So, instead of a list of resolutions (a.k.a. promises that I have no real intention to keep), this year I’m going to say ‘yes’ more and ‘no’ less. To myself.

How about you? What are your plans for 2017? We all have the same 365 days, what we choose to do with them is what will make the difference between having a year that we enjoy and celebrate and having a year that we merely survive.

~A.

Miscellany with a side of stabbiness

Everyday, I update the little Christmas countdown board. When I forget, my 10 year-old is very good at making sure that a) I know it and b) I fix it. So, that’s covered.

The shopping is coming along. There’s already WAY TOO MUCH stuff in this house and Christmas isn’t going to lighten the load any. I quest to declutter is a losing battle right now. I’m feeling quite defeated, I must admit. But, on the upside, I have enough Lego now to build myself a new minivan when mine gives up the ghost.

My weight and my stress level are creeping back up, so I know that it’s time to do something about both those things. Likely tending to one will resolve the other, so really, I just knocked that list down by half. Go me!

Airmiles announced this week that Airmiles will no longer expire. Well, that’s just fucking great. Now that I redeemed almost all of them because I’d rather have shit I didn’t want or need that lose TEN YEARS of collecting effort. Not impressed. Less than a month before they are all set to expire, Airmiles ‘changes its’ mind.’ Um. fuck you very much, Airmiles, you asshole.

And, in more amusing news, last week, I was accused of English being my second language, by someone who, by my estimation, (based on her online writing) is functionally illiterate in English. Are you eff’ing kidding me? To be fair, her exact comment was: “Thanks for the long comment but you may not fluent in English? Read my post again.” Her badly written original question was looking for ways that she could improve her son’s French (“Can anyone give advice if I want my 11 year old son improves his French ?”). I gave her a few suggestions and at the end threw it out there that immersion isn’t for everyone, so not to stress too much if English is a better program for him. Vowed not to help stupid people again. Well, I will, because I can’t say no, but only the polite ones from now on.

Also, if Spellcheck tries, just one more time, to auto-correct “stabby” to “shabby” I am going to get all kinds of cranky. I am NOT shabby. Nor am I “stubby.” But I most definitely AM stabby.

if-the-next-words-out-of

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

~A.

Confirmed. We are going to Hell in a hand basket for this one.

I’m a bit pensive today. Feeling a bit older than my years, and much older than my usual 17 year-old maturity level. And for the first time, it occurs to me that somehow, over the years, bit by bit, we’ve taken Christmas from this:

The Nativity Scene at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, NY

The Nativity Scene at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, NY

and this:

A Charlie Brown Christmas scene.

A Charlie Brown Christmas scene.

and turned it into this:

and even worse (if that’s possible), this:

And the result is THIS. WE have turned Christmas into THIS for our children.

And then we wonder why society is shot to shit, why we are faced with one crisis after another, why people are so rude, angry and aggressive now, why Britain is leaving the EU, why Donald Trump is the POTUS-elect, why a man can receive three months for brutally raping an unconscious woman, why more and more places are legalizing marijuana use and why the middle class and women represent a higher percentage of heroin use and related-deaths than ever before.

Are we using twerking Santa’s and Frosty’s as a salve for our scared and wounded souls and bruised psyches? Or have we just given up trying to regain any semblance of innocence, joy and citizenship, even during the season of peace, joy, love and giving?

31 days and counting until Christmas. Is there still time to undo ANY of this damage?

Reflectively yours,
~A.

Are you in on the craze of the season? Just stop. Please.

69edaf97a73f4335e00cd8749dd356ab

Are you in on this Hatchimal craze?

I’m not. My kids are not. And if they were, I’m afraid that they would be sorely disappointed. Because Christmas is NOT about getting the latest fad or the most expensive doodad. It’s about sharing time with your family, giving gifts that hold true value to the recipient, not just over-advertised, over-hyped and over-priced poorly made and likely soon-to-be recalled pieces of garbage.

Sound harsh? Yup. I probably am. But I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle to raise good humans, people who care more about other people and the world we live in than they do STUFF.

A lot of people pay lip service to raising kids with manners, a lot of people complain about the quality of education their children are receiving, a lot of people are so worried about keeping their children HAPPY, that they are not actually doing anything to prepare their children for reality.

The reality that people are not ALWAYS happy. That not everybody is going to give you what you want. That sometimes people say NO and you need to accept that and move forward, not throw a fit or fall apart. The reality is that you really can’t always get what you want, but, if you try sometimes, you just might find, you’ll get what you need.

And yes, I realize that I am quoting The Rolling Stones to try to get my point across, but hey, they had it right. So why fight it?

Can I take a 50% completion rate as a win? Pretty please?

I have a list. On that list there are 36 things that I MUST do this week. Please note, that today is THURSDAY. This means that I have, essentially, one day left to finish my list (and probably save the world, as yes, my list is that important).

As of this precise moment in time, I have completed 18 items on my list. Using my superior fourth grade math skills, that means that I have completed roughly 50% of my list. Or, in layman terms, for those of you not as math-savvy as I clearly am, by completing 18 items on my list of 36 means that I’m well and truly fecked and destined fail to reach my goal of completion.

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So, on that happy note, I’ll sign off for now, dry the tears that now stain my list, and see what I can pull off in the next 30’ish hours (I must admit though that cleaning the kitty litter will likely not make the cut, but meh, it’s not like I use it). Honestly, this week has been a bit of a write-off. Between Trump being elected and all that means for both sides of the border, and my own habitual failures at life, things are looking pretty bloody bleak at the moment.

There’s still time for me to save the world with my super hero-esque like list completion, but please don’t bet the farm it. I think I feel a migraine coming on.

~A.