Monday, March 28, 2011

I Can Liven Up Any Sleepover....

( I was mistaken. This octopus cake was from the 6th birthday. But I can't find photos from the 8th, which was also a pool party/sleepover. Don't think I didn't think about just changing that 6 to an 8 in Photoshop, 'cause I did. Also, never elect me to public office. But I really did make this myself. KICK ASS, no?)

When our daughter, Ryder, turned 8, she was so excited to have a BIG sleepover with oh, 8-10 girls. And I was excited because 8 seems like such a big milestone. I mean, it's not double-digit territory like 10, but it's when a child really starts to seem like a "big kid", if you know what I mean. They start to lose their innocence somewhat, become a little more worldly, pick up on stuff they didn't pick up on before (be prepared to explain what it means to be gay, whether there really is a Santa, & just cut the crap about how he/she got here - just sayin') & they start to refuse anything you offer them to wear. I could go on and on. But your sweet, little innocent baby is GONE. Especially after I get her in my clutches for a night.

Ryder's birthday is in the summer and I love that because being a December child, I know how awesome it is to be able to celebrate at the pool & stay outside late in the evening, catching fireflies, at least in the South. I never got to DO that for my birthday but I was fully aware that it was much more awesome than staying inside at the skating rink in 25 degree weather, slow-skating to The Climax Blues Band. We rented the pool, designed an awesome octopus cake which I baked & decorated MYSELF ('fistbump') & while strolling through the $1 bins at Target one day, I found the PERFECT party favor. PERFECT. I mean really, for an 8 year old birthday sleepover, is there anything better than little Magic 8 Balls? Really?? Too good to be true. I had visions of them sitting up late painting their nails & telling their futures with the Magic 8 Balls. I mean, it couldn't be any sweeter if Mary Kate & Ashley had come over to join the party. And had Mary Kate & Ashley known what was about to transpire, they might have crashed the party.

Chuck & I were doing something in the kitchen, if I remember right, likely feeding the boys or getting things wrapped up to start their bedtime. We were all home from the pool, pizza had been devoured & the girls settled in for a little fun. In a little while a few of them, including Ryder, came to the kitchen & said, "We need some drinks." I remember saying something like, "Sure. Didn't you just have some?" And they said, "Yes, but we need them to play a game." After inquiring what exactly they were going to play with these drinks, one of them offered up their 8-ball innocently & said, "We don't really understand it, but I guess these are actually games." Chuck knew. It hit him like a magnet to a fridge. He gave me the "HOW COULD YOU NOT READ THEM FIRST?" look. And I gave him my "WHY IN THE HELL WOULD I HAVE READ AN 8-BALL?" look. They tell futures, EINSTEIN!

Not these. Apparently. These, O Dear Readers, are drinking games. What fun! How cute! IF YOU'RE 25!

Tell the person to your left to take two drinks.
Wink at someone and they have to drink.
Pass your drink to another person.
Tell something about yourself that's secret, or take a drink.
Drink or dare.
Aaah, the list goes on. I forget them all. And some I just made up.

Yes, I have given 10 little girls party favors that should they keep them in a safe place, will be sooo much fun in college. So, back to the story. They are beyond thrilled. "This is going to be so fun!" "Let's get Mountain Dew and Coke and Sprite!" "I can't wait to show my mom & play with my brother!" (Insert photo of Noelle's eyeballs the size of half-dollars.) THE PARENTS. What to do? What to do? Looking directly at Chuck, I say, "What do I do? They love them! I can't take them or they'll all tell their parents I took away their cool party favors. And the parents will say, 'What were they?' I have to tell them. They're all cool parents, right?" Chuck is always so helpful & reassuring. "Well, yeah, except for _______'s mother." Well, guess what? She's just gonna have to deal. OR drink, as the case may be.

So, that's the mess I got myself into. And this is how I got out of it. I gave them Mountain Dew, Coke and Sprite and sent them to their room to play non-alcoholic drinking games. I've often wondered if any of them ever wondered what the point of the game was because without alcohol and drunken cohorts, there really is no point. But they had fun. I made 10 phone calls that went exceedingly well. Ok, 9. One of them....THAT one, said she would just immediately take it from her when she got home. Good. Better you be the bitch than me.

As for me, I've learned my lesson. Pool noodles all around, baby!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Advice of the Day: Erase Your History & Clear Conversations

Aaaah, more moments to go down in Buttry household legend........Our parents have no clue how lucky they had it to be parenting us through our young years before Al Gore invented the internet. (Is internet capitalized when used in conjunction with Al's name???) I mean the most that could happen to embarrass you back then was for them to open a drawer & find something risque. Times have changed my friends. I have two examples to share with you, both proving why you should be careful with your phone/computer AND that the Buttrys live out scenes fit for Modern Family on a near-daily basis.

Scene One: Takes place today in our car, coming home from a Home Depot run.

ME: Someday, when you have kids, you'll understand why your Dad & I expect you to behave. Either then, or when you're taken to jail.
BROOKS: Oh, I'm not having kids! I was, but you have to have a wife & I don't want a wife! I'm not getting married. Girls are just troublemakers & they BOSS you around ALL the time.
WYATT: Yeah.
ME: Well, you just need to be a good husband like your dad AND find a good wife like he did. (Laughter from the audience.) Sometimes you have to put up with a little bossiness but a good wife can make you very happy.
BROOKS: Oh, yeah, by the way, when Dad drove us back from Papa's the other day and we were texting you?
ME: Yes?
WYATT (he can never wait): We saw his text to you! We saw it!
ME: What text?
BROOKS (by now both laughing): The one where he says he had a stressful day at work & wants to take his smokin' hot, pretty wife to dinner! (Note: It actually said, "beautiful, charming and smokin' hot", to clarify.)
ME: Oh, THAT one. Sometimes it pays to feed your wife a line of bull too. Never hurts, boys.

(Chuck's response: Oh, I thought I cleared that!)

Scene Two: Takes place at home, a bit over a month ago, on a day that the boys were at school & Ryder was at home. I'm cooking in the kitchen. Ryder is on the Mac.

RYDER: Mommm????
ME: Yes?
RYDER: WHY is "Lingerie Diva" one of our Top Sites on the Mac?
ME (picture my horror-stricken look, please): Oh, I thought I reset those.
(Note: Then I decide to just be frank. She's 15 & not at all stupid. She will know I'm not buying bras.)
ME: Well, you know Valentine's Day is coming up. You want your dad to be happy now, don't you?
ME: At least you have parents who love each other.
RYDER: UGH. Please shut up.

(Note my response: Oh, I thought I cleared that.)

I'm giving you all 10 minutes to go clear your devices now. For your own good. And that of the next generation. I guess all you "goody two-shoes" get off scot-free!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

People Who Can Make Decisions Will One Day Rule The World

The following scenario plays itself out several times a week at our house. It's what you get when opposites attract. When someone who can make a decision marries someone who can't make a decision. And I think, by the end, you'll be able to use us as a learning tool. It's our pleasure to serve as the example of "what NOT to do"........

BROOKS: Can we get a movie tonight?
US: Sure. Pick one out on Redbox.
CHUCK (to me): Do you want to get one too?
ME: Yes.
(Audience pauses, purses lips and nods, as if to say, "Ummm-hmmm....SHE'S the decisive one.)
CHUCK: How about "How Do You Know?" with Reese Witherspoon & Owen Wilson?
ME: Oooh, yes! I love them both! And Jack Nicholson. Get it.
(Audience shakes head because they know where this is going.)
CHUCK: There's also "Due Date". I was really thinking we would get that. With Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis.
ME: No. "How Do You Know?" Get it. I want to see that.
CHUCK: Well, I think this would be funny. You know, the same guy that was in "The Hangover" is in it.
ME: I thought we decided. I mean I decided because you asked me a "yes or no" question. If we're going to debate, we could get "The Switch" with Jennifer Aniston because you love her.
CHUCK: Yeahhhh (sucks air through his teeth to emphasize indecision), with Jason Bateman??? I don't know???? He's.....
ME: Reese & Owen are wonderful. Get "How Do I Know?"
(Audience begins to sense a pattern here....)
CHUCK: There's also that Russell Crowe movie.
ME: For the love of God, reserve "How Do I Know?"!!!!
CHUCK (clicks to reserve movie): Awww, hun, looks like someone beat us to it.....
ME: Really??? You're surprised at that???

All I'm saying is that people who can make decisions will someday rule the world. Do you want on my bus or his?

(Update: I hope you chose my bus, because clearly the Gods show me favor. Someone returned "How Do I Know?" before he got there. So, as usual, I got my way. That's also called "being rewarded for making a decision".)

Friday, March 11, 2011

True Grit OR The Gritting of Chuck's Teeth - You Choose

Wyatt's really become interested in the movie "True Grit". I can't remember what started the fascination but Oscar night really seemed to put him over the top. Chuck couldn't remember, from watching the John Wayne version YEARS ago, if it was inappropriate for an adolescent boy to watch or read. I tried to remind him that my love of Smokey & the Bandit started in 2nd grade when my dad gave in & let me watch, but that argument should have been thought through a bit more before I presented it. I also pointed out that he, their own father, let them watch "Cliffhanger" with Sylvester Stallone, which is NOT appropriate, perhaps for ANYONE! However, Chuck went ahead and used his handy Amazon One-Click app on the iPhone & ordered a copy of "True Grit". We went to lunch at Chip's last week & it arrived just before we left so he brought it with us.

(Here is where I reveal my lack of knowledge on the book/film.)

I'm driving. He's riding along reading OUT LOUD, which, if you know me really well, you know I hate being read to. Just give it to me & let me read it myself, usually, but I made an exception since I was behind the wheel. Safety first. Even before "things that irritate Noelle".

CHUCK (reading from book): "True Grit is when you are a 14-year-old girl from Yell County, Arkansas, and you've just shot a dangerous outlaw and the gun's recoil has sent you backward into a pit.........Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas......not far from Dardanelle in Yell County...."

ME (interrupting): Wait, it's set in Arkansas?? So the 14 yr.-old girl who was nominated & looked adorable in her gown, I might add, was the girl from True Grit? Hayley Steinfeld?

CHUCK (disapprovingly): Yes. Charles Portis, the author LIVES here.

ME: No need to get all huffy. My knowledge of this movie consists of this: John Wayne starred in the original & there was a character named Rooster Cogburn, who I'm assuming was played by John Wayne. And my dad liked it. That's all I got for ya.

CHUCK: Yes, John Wayne played Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Marshal.

ME: I wonder if Rooster McConaughey is named after him?


ME: Rooster McConaughey. Starred in that oil rig show, Black Gold on A & E. You know, Matthew McConaughey's brother.

CHUCK: No. Don't know Rooster. This entire conversation is a waste of time, isn't it.

ME: Apparently.

And this is how many conversations go over here at Chaos Central. I will add that Chuck & Wyatt have been reading it together at bedtime & Wyatt is loving it. As is Chuck. So, appropriate or not, it's working for our house.

I wonder if one of them will watch Smokey & The Bandit with me this weekend. Not that I have it on DVD or anything.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The War on Drugs

I’m starting to sound like an old person, but…remember the good ole days? The days when you went to the doctor & got diagnosed with a specific illness & were given medicine to make you feel better. A shot in the ass perhaps that made you feel like a superhero or something to put you to sleep & maybe even induce hallucinations so you weren’t aware of who or where you were until you were well…

Our children don’t know that luxury, my friends. Nor do we, anymore.

In fact, these doctors today are just downright stingy with the good stuff. For example, just TRY to get some good cough syrup for your child. You know, CODEINE! This fall, during the Great Waverly Street Strep Epidemic, one of my kids developed a nighttime cough on top of having strep. I said to our pediatrician, “Remember when you prescribed Histex for Wyatt’s nighttime cough? We’re out and would like some more for Brooks. It’s handy to keep around.” I might as well have said, “Where can I score some smack, because we think it would help him sleep better?” She looked at me & said, “We would NEVER prescribe that anymore. It’s just caused by drainage from his nose (nevermind that his nose isn’t draining) & Claritin will do the trick.” I knew better. Oh, how I knew better. Wasted $15 on Claritin & guess who was still up coughing for many nights…. And it’s hilarious, by the way, that two years ago you doctors thought Histex was great, but suddenly if he takes it he could meet an early end???

But it wasn’t as humorous as the time one of my little darlings had the stomach virus. I mean, can we all agree that there is no greater hell on Earth with the exception of food poisoning & helping them do homework? It was fairly early in my parenting career and always making lighthearted, happy conversation I mentioned that I remembered as a child when my family doctor would give me this green stuff called “Corrective Mixture with Paregoric” & it was a cure, baby! Oh, how I wish we still had that option! It knocked you out and you woke up WELL & you didn’t remember much that had happened in the meantime. Oh, what a funny girl I think I am! Doctors do not laugh often enough. Apparently. Her head spun around and she stared at me with her steely, grey eyes & you would have thought I said, “Sometimes we take the kids camping and for fun we sacrifice goats to the glory of Tony Alamo & his followers while speaking in tongues! That’s the kind of parents WE are!” She said, “Do you KNOW that’s a derivative of OPIUM? Which is basically a form of heroin, you know!” Now I didn’t say, what went through my head, which was, “Dude! I did heroin at age FIVE??? Word! And everyone thought I was such an ANGEL! I was way ahead of Slash!” I just said, “Well, I guess that’s why it put us out of our misery! So they don’t make it anymore?” She was not amused. My child ended up getting Phenergan that you apply to the wrist & was soon resting peacefully. But not as peacefully or joyfully as I once was.

Soooo……imagine the next time one of my kids was spewing at both ends. What does “innocent mother Noelle” do? Of course, she wears her “Just say no to the hard stuff!” button to the doctor and requests some Phenergan. And I kid you not, I get, “Oh, we’re trying to get away from Phenergan because it’s just so strong and knocks them out so now we try to give Zofran. They don’t get as sleepy and aren’t knocked out for as long.” And right then & there I want to scream, “HOW in the HELL am I supposed to get the laundry done, people???” I mean let’s make this a win-win! I have time and peace to clean ALL the soiled bedding while they lie on the couch & hallucinate rainbows. Apparently not. The last time one of my kids had the stomach virus the doctor assured me that they needed to get all “yucky germs” (aka puke & poop in layman’s terms) out of their system to get better. First of all, by the time most of us get an appointment the kid is down to dry heaving anyway. And I got better when the “paregoric/heroin” was coursing through my veins & it stopped that stuff in it’s tracks. I call bullshit.

Now, you know what this means? Most annoying of all is that you irritating people out there, you people who utter the phrase, “Oh, I don’t like to take medicine! I can tough it out!” or “I don’t like to put medicine/chemicals/WHATEVER in my body!” now have an army of allies in the medical field! They have totally taken your side! And they look at us like we walked in with arms tied up ready to inject our next fix, LOSERS THAT WE ARE. And some of us, quite frankly, want our drugs. Am I alone here?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

And then she renamed the blog "Dear Abby".....

(He's not blind & I'm not leading him! It just appears that way in this photo.)

The other night, I was telling Chuck that I'm not entirely sure what unintentionally misleading image I have been projecting on Facebook & my blog, but some of my disciples , followers , OK, FRIENDS, have sent me messages asking my advice on being happily married. Yes, apparently, Chuck & I are the Ward & June Cleaver of the internet. HA! Chuck's response was "Did you tell them to marry someone who gets paid well so you don't have to work & carry all that additional stress into our lives & someone who also doesn't mind folding laundry while their spouse lies in bed eating fried cheese & reading autobiographies of washed-up rock musicians?" And I said, "No. Do we know someone who does that? And, uh, do you know how to get ketchup stains out of these nice, percale sheets?"

Seriously, though, when I look all around me I see people whose marriages are under a tremendous amount of strain or they're coming apart at the seams & we seem to be plugging right along. It is NOT always easy, so please don't think our life is stress-free. The fact that Chuck made it through the winter without throwing up his hands in surrender or chugging whiskey at the Town Pump is a miracle in & of itself. On top of that, the boy bought me diamonds, but life ain't always a party over here at Chaos Central. If you could rewrite Randy Houser's "Thank God He Made A Woman Love A Man Like Me" to be from the opposite perspective, it would be "our song" because not a day passes that I don't stop & think I'm REALLY lucky that he puts up with some of my crap. But at the end of the day, we seem to be a good fit.

I'm not so sure we hold any secret to being happy & it might best be summed up as "ignorance is bliss" but I'll give it my best shot to be of some help to those few of you who were curious. I accept no liability if you end up in divorce court after taking this advice, but I'll be happy to direct you to my friends who are attorneys & need the cash.

1) LAUGHTER & LETTING IT GO: We laugh off A LOT. We don't take ourselves too seriously EVER. And we're pretty good at finding the humor in most any situation. I have a friend that called me once near tears because she & her significant other were lost & had unknowingly booked a hotel in the bad part of the city they were visiting. They were at each other's throats & about to let it ruin the entire vacation & all I could think was how Chuck & I would be laughing hysterically & viewing it as an adventure. Another friend was telling me something she was arguing about with her husband the other day & I said, "You know what? That wouldn't even be an issue in our marriage because it's just too insignificant to get angry over." So laugh, people. And don't sweat the small stuff.

2) TRUST: Simple, really. We trust each other. I've never looked at his e-mail or nosed through his phone because I don't need to. Jealousy & possessiveness have no place in a marriage & it's just not something either of us makes the other deal with. That's not to say that we're naive enough to think the other one doesn't notice someone else now & then (if you say you don't you are soooo lying!) but we know our limits & we know where our loyalties lie. I can fawn over Tom Brady. He can fawn over Pam Anderson & Jennifer Garner (strange taste in women, the man has!). He knows if I walk into the pool & he's surrounded by my girlfriends, I don't care. I've come home from the grocery store & said, "Oh, I saw the 1st runner-up to Mrs. Chuck Buttry (who I know he thinks is hot). Glad I've been able to fulfill my duties so she doesn't have to step in!" Jealousy is a waste, my friends. A waste. And I realize that some very trusting people have been burned, but really, what would being jealous have changed? NOTHING. It's not a sin to look (unless you're Jimmy Carter) but it is a sin to act on it. And generally if you're jealous & possessive, it's your own insecurities talking.

3) SEX: Oh, God no. She's going THERE. Yes, yes she is..... Have sex with your spouse, people. Early and often. Or late in the evening. Doesn't matter. Just do it. That's why you got married. Unless you married for money & then I guarantee you'll get more of that if you have more sex. With your spouse, of course. (My Dad just said, "Oh my God. I can't believe she wrote that. What have I raised?" Word for word. Guarantee it.) A friend gave me advice a few years after our first child was born. It was during that period where you'd rather your husband come at you with a machete than any part of his body. She said, "If your husband gets some 3 x a week, your life will change & he'll overlook a lot more. Especially the checkbook." You know, SHE WAS RIGHT. I had never thought of it in that manner, but the mood change is amazing. The way to a man's heart is NOT through his stomach. Keep him happy. (You may now get off the floor, Dad.)

4) SPEND TIME ALONE TOGETHER: You can be in a hotel room across town or on an island in the Caribbean. Doesn't matter. We try to leave town 2 x a year, at least overnight. This year, in fact, Chuck & I decided to get smart and send the kids away on trips for spring break & stay home by ourselves to get some things done around the house. (This could backfire on us since we're taking on household projects!) You can also go to lunch together, dinner together, a movie, out with another couple - just somewhere away from the kids and the daily grind. Your relationship needs this. And try not to talk about work or kids. And if you do happen to be in a hotel room, refer to #3.

5)LIVE BENEATH YOUR MEANS: When Chuck & I first got married we fell into the same trap most young marrieds do, thinking we had to have two new cars, nice apartment, leather couch, ugly graphic china that we eventually sold at a garage sale, you know, all the trappings of the early 90's....We don't think that way anymore. Chuck has driven the same car for 15 years & we still live in the small, allegedly 1700 sq. ft. house that we bought when Ryder was two & our only child. It's three bedrooms and we have three kids, which means two of them share a room. Sometimes that's fun. Fun in the same manner that having a tooth extracted is fun, or perhaps, getting your pinkie caught in a meat grinder. Would we like a bigger home? Oh, yes, Noelle would. One with a big pool & a closet for her shoes too, just like you see in magazines! But not if it keeps us from being able to go to the beach, put our kids in the schools we choose, or forces me to go back to work outside the home. Or splurge on the occasional Lilly dress. My point is, we've learned what our priorities are & "living big" is not one of them. We've seen too many friends/acquaintances split up soon after moving up to the big giant house & 2 SUV's in the driveway. Don't get me wrong. Some can afford it. But if you can't do it comfortably, don't do it at all. And certainly don't do it to impress anyone. Your marriage will suffer from the strain.

6) Find someone who likes to fold laundry while you lie in bed eating fried cheese & reading autobiographies of washed-up rock musicians. Couldn't hurt. Might help.

I probably just cursed myself & will be divorced in a year! Time will tell.