scottquitpta

Scott quit the PTA.

The Pinterest Mom.

Damn her.

She has the best school party games. She has the best school party crafts. No peanut butter allowed? That’s not a problem because she knows exploding slime will be better than a small package of peanut M&Ms. The teachers adore her. The polite moms roll their eyes behind her back. But her friends will say it out loud in front of her –

“Julie’s basically the adorable parent equivalent of teacher’s class pet.”

I didn’t mean to become the Pinterest mom. It just happened.

You guys, it’s not hard to be the Pinterest mom when all you have to do is steal ideas from Pinterest. I never add my own projects. I just steal. I can’t possibly be teacher’s parent pet. My kids don’t make straight As and they’re in elementary school.

I mean, if you were a kid at your class Valentine’s Day party craft table – would you rather color a coloring page or chisel a Cupid’s arrow from a stick I collected from my backyard? I’m kidding. We didn’t chisel Cupid’s arrow.

I should pin that. 

I was in charge of bringing a craft to Kate’s Valentine’s class party. I decided on No-Sew Felt Heart Pillows.

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Boom. Easy. Tie knots. Stuff. Tie knots again. Too girly for the boys? Nope – I’ll buy camo print felt. Stuff it, kids.

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That one heart took me two hours.

I asked Scott for help.

Me: Will you help me with these felt hearts? Just cut little snips around the edge and you knot. Like this.

Scott: Sure.

Scott cut two hearts.

Scott: Where’s the box cutters? These scissors are dull.

Scott opened the Hobby Lobby bag and pulled out the receipt.

Me: Oh, you don’t need to look in….

Scott: Fifty dollars!

Shit.

Me: Actually, it’s $40. The other $10 is for Kate’s school project.

Scott: Does the school pay you back?

Me: Are you serious?

Scott: Do the parents pay you back?

Me: Um, where have you been the past six years? No. The craft person is financially responsible for the craft. Especially since I’m a stay-at-home mom. Even though I’m really a work-from-home mom.

Scott: That makes no sense.

Me: Oh, you know. It’s easier for a stay-at-home mom to do these type of things than the moms that work outside the home.

Scott: Well that’s bullshit. So just because you’re at home, you have to pay? What the hell?

Me: I can’t believe you are just now realizing this. I volunteered, ok? Just help me. Please. Kate’s your kid too.

Don’t tell him this will take two hours for one pillow. Don’t tell him this will take two hours for one pillow.

It took Scott ten minutes to finish two ties.

Scott: Like this?

Me: Yep.

Scott: Oh, hell no.

Me: You’ll get a groove. Just keep going. They’ll be cute.

Scott: This is bullshit. How many of these do we have to do?

Me: Well, I got enough for 30 kids. I think 22 or 23. I’ll have to ask Kate.

We continued knotting for an hour.

Me: So you’ll get to the middle like this and leave the rest for the kids to finish and stuff.

Scott: So you want the kids to knot half a heart.

Me: Yeah, but we only have about six minutes with the stations.

Scott: Well, that ain’t happening. It took me an hour to do half a heart.

Me: Your fingers are chubby, maybe.

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Scott: This is a horrible project.

Me: It looked cute on Pinterest. I can’t return the felt. I cut all 60 hearts.

Scott: Are you kidding me?!

Me: I’m a good room mom! These are adorable!

Scott: No wonder Cody said you’re the teacher’s parent pet. You’re a teacher’s dream mom.

Me: No, I’m not! It’s Pinterest! Pinterest is the pet. And this is turning into my first Pinterest fail.

Scott: THANK YOU. FAILING. CORRECT.

Me: I just want the kids to have a good party. I remember making the cutest crafts when I was a kid. Ornaments, hand print projects, bird feeders…

Scott: I don’t remember any of my class parties. The kids will be fine.

Me: Fine, room dad. What should my craft be?

Scott: Let them sit at the table and talk to each other.

Me: That’s a terrible idea.

Scott: Ok, take the kids on a field trip outside and first person to find a heart-shaped cloud wins a piece of candy.

Me: Scott.

Scott: Throw a bunch of candy on the table and tell them every man for themselves.

Me: Come on.

Scott: Tell them to color a heart on their hand. We’re not paying for another craft.

Me: I said I would help Cody. She’s the room mom. I don’t mind. I want the kids to have fun.

Scott: You tell those other lazy-ass parents to step up and help. You’re not doing this anymore.

Me: Oh, they’ll love that psycho email. “Hey! It’s Julie! Kate’s mom. You guys are a bunch of lazy-asses. Screw all of you for not volunteering the craft. Now your kid will look for a heart-shaped cloud, color a heart on their hand and then attack classmates for candy thrown on the table.”

Scott: Then tell the teachers to do their jobs. I’ll send an email. I don’t care.

I gasped.

Me: WHOA! WHOA. Ok, this is NOT the teacher’s responsibility. The parents have always organized the class parties, like, for the past 30 years. You can’t say a word to the teacher.

Scott: See? Teacher’s parent pet. You’re a Pinterest mom. Nope. I’m done.

I ended up drawing a tree with bare limbs on a canvas. The kids inked their fingerprints to fill in the leaves of the tree. My sister wrote the teacher’s name on the bottom in calligraphy. I purchased the canvas and ink at an undisclosed price in fear of Scott reading this.

The class finished the craft.

And Scott quit the PTA.

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chris

I had another blog post for today.

I had another blog post for today.

I can’t post it because I’m not in the mood to laugh with others. It would be a fake laugh. I started a blog post last night. It was about Scott quitting the school PTA.

That’s when Scott got the call.

Scott: WHAT!

I stopped typing. My stomach dropped. Something bad happened. I could hear the shock and sadness in Scott’s voice. I stared at Scott. Scott caught the questions in my eyes.

Scott: Chris Mentzel passed away suddenly. Maybe heart attack.

Me: WHAT!

Scott hung up the phone.

Me: What? We just hung out with him. No, he didn’t.

Scott: That’s all Matt said. Oh wow. I just want to text Chris…ask if this…if this is for real.

Me: We just saw him at happy hour last week. He sat across from us. I can still hear his voice. There’s no way. He was here. Here. In front of me. I can touch him.

Scott: This doesn’t make any sense.

Me: He was so fit! He played hockey. No, this isn’t right. What is he, like, 32 or something?

Scott: But there’s nothing on his Facebook.

Me: I’m looking too. His Facebook looks normal? There’s no way.

We scrolled through his pictures. Hockey photos. Weddings with suits and beer. Happy hours. Work events. The pictures showed Chris talking and laughing. He smiled for selfies. His laugh pierced the air. His voice deep.

It hit us.

Scott teared up. We were flipping through photos of a complete life. 

Me: I don’t understand…

Scott: I texted him a few days ago. He was fine. I don’t get it. 

Me: Chris joked with Hunter about Emma’s height when we bowled with him. He said she’s going to be taller than him. And Kate wouldn’t say hi to him so he just laughed and waved. He was just here in front of us.

I shut my eyes. I put myself back in the bowling alley. There he was.

Me: I stood up and hugged him goodbye. He left the bowling alley before we did, remember?

I hugged Chris Mentzel goodbye.

He left before we did.

ohemmaohkate

Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

Oh Emma, Oh Kate is a series of funny things my kids say. Emma is 10 and Kate is 7. 

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Me: Good night, Kate.

Kate: Night, Becky.

Me: BECKY?!

Kate: Look at her butt, Becky.

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Kate: What are you doing?

Me: Taking down your Christmas lights in your bedroom window. It’s not Christmas anymore.

Kate: What makes a string of pretty lights, Christmas lights?

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The girls started crossing their eyes at each other.

Me: Gross! Stop.

Scott: Did you know if you cross your eyes for a long time, they’ll stay that way?

Emma: That’s not true. That’s just something parents say to their kids.

Kate: Yeah, dad. Remember that picture of you holding a beer and crossing your eyes. They’re not stuck.

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Kate: How do you spell, “Joe’s?”

Me: G-O-E-S.

Emma: G?!

Me: Oh, sorry. J-O-E-S.

Emma: Way to go, writer.

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Emma: Did you know farts stink because of the bacteria in your butt?

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Kate received a Garmin Vivofit, Jr. for Christmas. It’s a watch that tracks her activity and sleep levels. It also allows me to give her virtual “coins” for doing chores.

Me: So when you do a chore on my list, let me know and I’ll give you a coin.

Kate: Ok, got it. And what if I lie to you?

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Me: Kate, take a shower. Don’t be the stinky kid at school tomorrow.

Kate: I like being the stinky kid.

Me: Why would you want to be the kid that stinks?

Kate: It means I had fun.

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I was flipping through radio stations in the car. “Drunk on a Plane” starts playing.

Emma: STOP!

Me: This song?

Emma: I love this song.

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Me: Kate, will you shovel the driveway?

Kate: Emma said she has a fun way of shoveling.

Me: How?

Kate: She puts me on the shovel and pushes the snow up on me.

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Me: Do you want ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?

Kate: What do you think?

Me: I don’t know.

Kate: You just said the answer. N-O.

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Kate gave us a coupon book of “free chores” for Christmas.

Scott: Let me get my coupon book. I’m going to use a coupon tonight.  Let’s see…put dishes away, 10-minute back rub, take trash out, which one do I want to use…

Kate: Only one.

Scott: What does this say? Free 30 minutes playing on daddy’s phone?

Kate: I made myself a coupon.

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Me: KATE. I’M YOUR MOTHER AND YOU LISTEN TO ME.

Kate: JULIE. I’M YOUR DAUGHTER AND YOU LISTEN TO ME.

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Kate: I want Ramen noodles.

Me: No, enough Ramen. It’s not good for you. There’s a lot of salt in it.

Emma: Mom, your shirt says Salt Life.

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Kate gets in the car after school.

Kate: Ah, I love breaking rules.

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We played Monopoly Jr. one night.

Me: Ok, whoever wins this game wins a real dollar.

Kate: YAY! From Emma’s piggy bank?

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Kate made a pretend “doggy daycare” shop.

Me: It’s 8:30! Time to go to bed!

Kate: Nope, sorry. My shop doesn’t close until 9. I gotta work.

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I picked up the girls from school.

Kate: There’s a boy in my class that went on a cruise with his family.

Me: That’s nice.

Kate: He got a haircut on the ship.

Me: Yeah, cruise ships have cool little places like that. It’s like a small town.

Kate: I need a haircut.

Me: Please don’t.

Kate: On a cruise ship.

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Kate: What’s a weenie?

Me: Why?

Kate: Heard it at school.

Me: I don’t know.

Kate: Daddy has one, doesn’t he?

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Me: Goodnight, Kate.

Kate: Night, you sloth.

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I gave the girls their backpacks before we walked out the door.

Me: You two both wear your backpacks on both shoulders.

Emma: What?

Me: I used to wear one strap over one shoulder. Like this.

Emma: Mom, only kids who think they’re cool do that.

Kate: Mom! Don’t you want your back to be supported? What’s wrong with you?

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I dropped Kate and Emma off at their Nana and Papa’s house. It was dark. Kate got out of the car first. She ran to the front of the garage door so the headlights shined on her. She put her sunglasses on, did a shimmy, gave me a peace sign and struts to the front door.

Me: WHAT?!

Emma: Mom. Don’t you know what kind of teenager she’s going be?

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Me: Wake up!

Kate moans in bed.

Me: Wake up! I told you! Should have went to bed earlier last night.

Kate sits up in bed, eyes still shut, and pushes me off the bed.

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Emma: Can I go over my friend’s house after school? It was her birthday at school and she has extra popsicles. She said we could eat the rest at her house.

Me: Sure. What kind of popsicles?

Emma: Uh, the kind that stains my shirt really bad right here.

 

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Emma: We read a Scholastic magazine in class today. At the end, there’s a question that makes you think about the article.

Me: What was the question?

Emma: Is it ok for parents to put their kid’s pictures on Facebook or Instagram without the kid’s permission?

Me: Hm. What do you think about that?

Emma: I think it’s ok for parents to do that. I like it when you post my picture or write about me.

Kate: I don’t. Let me see it first.

Me: Ok, here’s another question – at what age does a child have the right to say no? When a baby is born, almost every parent I know will post a picture of the baby because they’re proud. A baby or toddler doesn’t have an opinion. What if a pre-schooler screams, “NO!” to everything? What age should a parent take their request seriously?

Emma: Hm, maybe when the kid can read?

Kate: TAKE OFF MY BABY PICTURES, MOM!

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untitled

I judged a mom today.

I judged a mom today.

I did. I judged another mother.

Treat others how you want to be treated.

Don’t judge a person before you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Yeah, I know. I still did it. My jaw dropped. She probably heard my teeth slam together in an effort not to show my judgement. I didn’t confront her. I didn’t say a word. She wasn’t harming her daughter in any way I could see – other than her tween daughter will hate her in a few years and leave as soon as she’s 18.

I’m judging again. I’ll stop.

I took Emma to the orthodontist.

Some parents sit in the receptionists’ waiting area and some sit in the extra chair provided near the dental chair. I like to sit with Emma and discuss where we should play hooky before taking her back to school.

The row of dental chairs are separated by a free-standing, frosted glass window. There is no privacy. The orthodontist made her rounds. She examined the patient next to Emma.

Orthodontist: Oh! Look how nicely these are coming along.

Mom: Uh, huh. Can we take them off now?

Orthodontist: Oh, she still needs more time. We still need to fix her bite and then we’ll fine tune.

Mom: Can you take them off, please?

Orthodontist: We never hold anyone hostage with braces. But I am not recommending this. Her treatment is not complete.

Mom: Yes, I know. I would like my daughter to have an imperfect smile. You know? I don’t want her to have perfectly straight teeth. It shows character if her teeth are not perfect.

I looked at Emma. My mouth dropped. I tipped back in my chair to get a better look at the mom and daughter.

Emma: (whispers) Mom, stop!

Me: I want to see them.

Emma: How old is the girl?

Me: Your age? Maybe a little younger?

The daughter stared at her hands in her lap while her mom argued with the orthodontist.

Mom: I never wanted her teeth to be straight. I just want them almost straight.

Orthodontist: We can take them off today if this is what you and your daughter wish. Please understand that the price doesn’t change, whether you paid in full or are making payments.

Mom: Yes, I know. Please remove them.

If I thought this was best for my daughter and this was something my daughter wanted, by all means, judge me. Walk in my shoes. Write about me on your blog.

I have the feeling this wasn’t the daughter’s wish.

How long does a parent have control over how their child looks? Even if the daughter wanted straight teeth, she probably wasn’t paying for the braces herself. Braces are a luxury, in most cases. I’m not sure the daughter ever had a say at all.

A parent can somewhat control how a child looks when they’re young. A baby is a little doll you can dress up even if the doll keeps you up all night, shoots yellow poop up the back of the cute outfit you bought from Target, and rips out every hair bow you place on her head. And Emma still won’t let me style her gorgeous curls.

When does a parent cross the line? Deciding where bones should be – teeth are bones, right? Straight but not too straight teeth? 

I’m not the greatest mom. I yell at my kids in public. I’m sure I’ve put them in danger by road-raging my way to the grocery store. I rarely watch any gymnastics practice. I’m cool with making chocolate chip cookies for dinner when Scott is out of town. I show my daughter it’s ok to eavesdrop and judge others. I don’t want to have more kids because, well, I’m just done. 

Emma: Mom?

Me: Yeah, Em.

Emma: Thanks for letting me keep my braces on. I’m glad you’re not like that other mom. You’re the best.

I judged a mom today because sometimes you need a shot of adrenaline in the arm to let you know you’re doing ok.

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book

The Book of Heroes.

Kate: What’s a hero, um. A hero-ings. Book of hero-ings?

Me: Let me see that. Book of Heroines. It’s a woman hero. Wait, that doesn’t make sense. It’s someone that…let me think. It’s a brave woman. A woman you admire or look up to.

Kate: Do you have one?

Me: A hero or heroine? Teachers used to ask me this when I was little. Hm, I never had one. I was never into superheroes.

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When National Geographic Kids sends you books for your kids to review, you take a selfie. Ok, they didn’t say the selfie part. I’m sure they’re cool with it. 

As a National Geographic Kids Insider, it’s my job to tell you what’s going on at their headquarters in Washington, DC.

Also, don’t judge a book by its cover. Heroes and heroines are not always the super variety.

Kate ran off with The Book of Heroines because girls rule and boys drool, mom. You’ll hear her review after she runs for President in the year 2044.

The Book of Heroes sat on our kitchen counter.

National Geographic is earth’s great story-teller. National Geographic turns to the explorers hanging off cliffs, scientists testing the ocean floor, the astronauts circling earth, and the top photographers in the world to help tell earth’s story. And those top photographers don’t take selfies with an iPhone.

National Geographic Kids may have the harder job. Explaining the world to a 7-year-old is more difficult than explaining it to a 35-year-old. The big question every kid wants to know – why?  And they’ll whittle you down until you are trying to explain the meaning of life itself.

Why is he a hero? Why is she a heroine? Why is that person special? Why can’t I be like that person? Why don’t you have a hero? Why is Superman a hero? Why are humans not Superman? Why can’t that be you, mom?

I don’t care what you say, National Geographic Kids is magical. I had no intention of reading those books the day we received them. None. My kids are good readers; they don’t ask me to read a new book to them. I planned on reading the books later. I just had better plans for the night – a date night with Scott and a Redbox movie rental in our living room.

The Book of Heroes sat on the kitchen counter while Scott and I watched “Sully.”

sully

You know Sully. The true story about Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot that performed an emergency landing using the Hudson river as a runway. All 155 passengers and crew survived on that January day in 2009.

The movie scared the hell out of us.

We live in a post 9/11 era where catastrophe on an airplane is not common but the nightmares are. 155 people were told they were going to be making an emergency water landing and to brace for impact. I can’t imagine one person on that plane thinking their story would later be told as a happy ending.

Katie Couric: People call you a hero.

Sully (played by Tom Hanks): I don’t feel like a hero.

Me: He’s totally a hero! How does he not see that?

Scott: He’s a hero. He doesn’t feel like it because he did his job.

Me: Or the airline is screwing with his head by going after him and his decision to land in the river. I can’t think of a bigger hero than Sully. If Tom Hanks ever plays you in a movie, you’re a damn hero.

When the movie ended, I placed the DVD in its container.

What a hero. Hero. Heroes. Heroines. The Book of Heroes.

I glanced at the kitchen table. The book was still there from earlier in the day. Boys drool.

I turned to the index. I was curious. There’s no way National Geographic Kids remembered to include Sully.

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National Geographic Kids remembered to include Sully.

Without ever intending to open the kids’ books, I was reading about Sully, the pilot who kept his cool, because National Geographic Kids is magical to adults too.

 

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Follow National Geographic Kids on Facebook.

Click here to buy The Book of Heroes and The Book of Heroines. See what kind of magic they throw at you.

 

scottie

He’s still got it.

Text message from me: Do you think Casey Anthony is hot?

Text message from Scott: Who is that?

I should stop here and tell you that Scott found a job! He’s out of town this week. This leaves me bored and streaming Kansas City’s KMBZ NewsTalk radio while slurping the last of the Ramen noodles.

I’ll stop, Scott. I’ll stop. No more Ramen noodle jokes, I swear. 

Back to the text messages.

Me: Casey Anthony is the mom found “innocent” for murdering her little girl. But she totally murdered her kid. Remember? I think she lives in Orlando.

Scott: Show me a picture. Why are you asking this?

Me: Because this radio guy keeps saying the only reason Casey Anthony’s story went to national news a few years ago is because she’s hot. I just texted the text line and told him, “Uh, Casey Anthony is not hot. She went to national news because she murdered her child.”

Then I needed to make sure.

Cody said she agrees with me – Casey Anthony, not hot.

I need a confirmation from a guy. Is she hot?

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Scott: Half those pictures are from her in jail. Of course she won’t look cute.

Me: Pretty sure top right is her before she killed her kid.

Scott: She’s cute/hot in that pic. But you’re hot/beautiful.

Me: Ha! So I’d go straight to national news if I were ever thrown in jail?

Scott: Not even collecting $200.

And that’s why I love this man. He’s still got it.

And we don’t have to play with Monopoly money anymore.

It wasn’t a Ramen joke, Scott. 

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stella-2

And that’s how you get kicked out of school.

Refresh.

Hold on, I’ve been refreshing my email since I got home.

I’m waiting on an email from the school principal.

By now, she’s probably been notified about the incident after school.

Refresh.

You know when the class “trouble-maker” does something bad and the whole class gets punished for it? I’m waiting for a new school rule to be announced to punish other families.

Refresh.

No, Emma and Kate are good kids. They don’t listen to Scott and me but they somehow listen to their teachers. But we are the Burtons and I swear this shit only happens to me.

Stella shot up to legend status after school today.

Legend status. Stella, the big black dog that will stand the test of time. New school rules written because of her heroic entrance onto school grounds. She busted out of the car in the name of her friendly breed, the labrador retriever. No dog has come that close to setting a paw inside the school.

She did it. She put a paw inside the school.

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We live far enough away that I drive the kids to and from school.

On the rare occasion, I bring Stella with me to pick up the girls. Today was a rare occasion. I thought she could use the fresh air. The school staff hates me.

Refresh.

The wait in the school car line started out fine. I caught up on some emails, I helped write a rap song for my friend’s baby book, and then I talked to Scott on the phone. Stella waited with her eyes on the prize.

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The school bell rang. Cars inched forward. I made my way to the front of the school. I saw Kate running toward the car with a smile on her face.

Oh, she looks happy today.

“Hi, Kate!”

I waved.

Kate opened the door.

“Oh no, wait!”

Gone. Stella was gone.

A wave of screams pierced the air. Brothers protected their sisters with backpacks. Teachers grabbed their walkie talkies and ran towards Stella. All eyes went to the black blur jumping on kid after kid. Stella’s big tongue crossed over every face she could reach.

I rolled my window down.

“STELL-LAAAAAAAAA! KATE GET STELLA!”

Kids moved in swarms from spot to spot in the grass. Boys dive-bombed Stella. Stella jumped on teachers. Stella knocked down a girl. The girl cried.

“EMMA! GET! STELLA!”

What do I do? I don’t know what to do. Do I get out? Do I…no, I shouldn’t film this.

A teacher walked up and down the sidewalk.

“Whose dog is this?! WHOSE DOG IS THIS!!”

“Oh, um! Hey!”

I slowly lifted my foot off the brake and rolled forward alongside the teacher.

“Mine. She’s mine. I’m sorry! What do I do?! EMMA AND KATE STOP LAUGHING! GET HER! GET HERRRR!! Should I get out?”

“No, stay here and we’ll get her. What’s her name?”

“Stella. I’m so sorry.”

Emma runs by, laughing.

“That’s my dog! STELLL-LAAAAA!”

I could feel the helicopter parents hovering behind me. They had the principal on speed dial.

“Stellaaaa! STELL-LAAAAAA!!”

Oh my God, this is a nightmare. I’m going to get sued for having a dog that loves to play with kids. They’re going to talk about me on News Talk radio tomorrow. They’re going to make a joke about that old movie with the man screaming, “Stella!”

“STELL-LAAAAA!”

Stella ran towards the open door into the school.

“DON’T LET HER IN THE SCHOOL! STOP HER!

NO! I’m going to have to chase her up and down hallways. She’s going to knock over desks and leave paw prints on white boards. They’re going to send my kids to private school after this. We can’t afford that! 

Stella placed one paw inside the door. A teacher grabbed her collar and yanked her back.

Oh, whew. Ok, it’s ok.

Emma hopped in the car. Her face was red and she had the hiccups from laughing so hard. Kate pushed her way in. The teacher dragged Stella back into my car and shut the door.

“Stella wanted to go to school, mom!”

“Please don’t tell your dad.”

The girls called Scott.

Scott knows. I heard the disapproving, “Oh, Julie” over the phone. But it really should be “Oh Stella.”

It crossed my mind that maybe it’s in my head. This probably happens all the time. Many families in the area have friendly labs.

And then Emma’s friend rang our doorbell. Emma asked her if she heard what Stella did after school.

“THAT was STELLA?! Our teacher told us to stay inside because there was a big dog running around!”

And that’s how legends are made.

I’m waiting to read the disapproving email.

Refresh.

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trojan

The Trojan horse shot my Achilles heel.

Hi. Welcome to 2017.

I’m in bed, introverting.

If you look up “introvert” in a dictionary, you will learn that an “introvert” is a noun – a person. Sometimes it’s an adjective – such as, Julie is introverted.

“Introvert” is also a verb. Julie needed to go home after chaperoning the school field trip because she needed to introvert.

It’s my blog and I can write new grammar rules if I want.

Extroverts gain energy by being around other people. Introverts gain energy by being alone. That’s it. That’s the difference.

This doesn’t mean that an extrovert is friendlier than an introvert. Or extroverts are the only ones that stand up for themselves. Rosa Parks was totally an introvert. Jim Carrey, Drew Carey, Audrey Hepburn, Ellen DeGeneres, Conan O’Brian, David Letterman, JK Rowling, Albert Einstein, and Beyonce – oh girl. They’re all introverts. Introverts can make you laugh, make you think, make you dance, make you proud. They can entertain you. And they most likely like you.

And, like me and Beyonce, we need to re-charge alone. We need to introvert.

The in-law family Christmas rolled into town two weeks ago. They came from all over – Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Florida, Washington (state), Tennessee, and California. Kansas City became home for the holidays.

A Trojan horse showed up in my house and all 30 of them busted out in front of me. And you know what they did? They took over. 30 people need to, like, eat. Scott’s family eats. Oh, do they eat. We observed “Christmas dinner” for seven nights in a row. Seven Christmas dinners. The big meal of the year, times seven. I mean, they rolled out pre-appetizers, appetizers, first course salads, main courses, sides, and desserts. And this wasn’t a scoop out of the ice cream container for dessert. Pies. Scott’s grandma baked pies. And homemade fudge. And breads. Plates of sin offered every night for seven nights.

Traditional. That’s the word. Scott’s family is traditional. They even say things like, “good grief.” And if they’re really shocked – like watching me down two bottles of wine only to make a George Michael video for Instagram – they’ll exclaim, “did she really? GOOD NIGHT!” and they’ll fall over in laughter. Scott’s family is a Peanuts comic strip. It comes out adorable and funny when you try to explain them.

“We’re normal.”

“Knock it off, Scott. I’m half Mexican. Throwing an enchilada and couple tamales on a plate is my normal.”

I’m sorry, I got off topic. The food distracted me. The Trojan horse rolled into my house, aimed and fired at my Achilles heel and now I’m dead. I totally screwed up that metaphor, didn’t I? 

The reason I’m starting off 2017 introverting in bed is because people, so many people. I’m re-charging. I’m trying to get back to normal, my normal with a freezer full of tamales from my mom. I’m trying to find my creative rhythm, my focus.

No, I didn’t start yoga.

Although, I should get my ass in the gym because that was a lot of food.

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ohemmaohkate

Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

Oh Emma, Oh Kate is a series of funny things my kids say. Emma is 10 and Kate is 7. 

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Scott and Kate got in an argument before bed. I checked on Kate before she fell asleep.

Me: Good night, Kate!

Kate: Tell daddy to come in here.

Me: Really? I thought you were mad at him?

Kate: I have words with him.

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I picked up the girls from school. Emma slammed the door, mad.

Me: What happened?

Emma: KATE. She brought me my water this morning.

Me: She did? I gave you your waters before school?

Emma: You switched water bottles. She walked into my class and said, “Emma! You switched water bottles and now there’s your slobber all over this.” And she LICKS MY WATER BOTTLE IN HER HAND. The whole class starts laughing and now they know our family is weird.

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Me: Your purse is so full.

Kate: I come to life prepared.

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Me: It’s snowing!

Kate: I want to eat yellow snow.

Me: What?

Kate: I want to eat (puts up air quotes) YELLOW. SNOW.

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Kate watched Fuller House on Netflix. Scott was next to her, watching football on TV.

Kate: Watch this part, dad.

Scott: Hold on.

Kate: No, you really need to watch this.

Scott: Wait. What is it?

Kate: It’s her first kiss.

Scott: WHAT?!

Kate: Watch it!! They’re kissing. It’s my favorite part.

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I talked to Kate before putting her in bed.

Me: Mmmm. You smell like daddy. Like his soap.

Kate: I used his soap in the shower.

Me: Really? His bar soap?

Kate: I like putting it up my butt then I laugh because I know daddy gets to use it next.

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Kate and I play a game called Panda Pop on my phone and Kate’s iPod.

Me: Guess what, Kate? Panda Pop gave us unlimited lives today! I played it the whole time you were at school! Ha!

Kate: UGH! Oh yeah? You’re just jealous of my summer birthday.

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Kate: Why do you wear makeup?

Me: Um, I don’t know. I like it?

Kate: I think you just want to look pretty.

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Kate dropped her pen.

Kate: Oh, you mother.

Me: What did you say?

Kate: Nothing.

Later that night, Scott dropped his phone.

Scott: Oh, you mother.

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I have my own column in Simply KC magazine (starting in January’s issue). The column is about my life. The magazine needed a few photos of me with the kids so they sent a photographer to my house.

Me: Don’t forget we have a photoshoot after school today. Tell your teachers you’re going to be in a magazine!

Kate: Like, totally. (flips hair) I’m totally going to be in a magazine. Like, gorgeous. (laughs)

Emma: (makes an ugly face with buck teeth and crosses eyes) Hey teacher? You think I’m real pretty? You think I’m pretty enough for a magazine?

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Text message from our neighbor, Chris: Does anyone have some Kraft yellow cheese? I’m too lazy to go out and buy some.

Me: If it’s unhealthy, we have it. I’ll send Kate down.

Chris: Thanks for the cheese. Kate said, “here’s the cheese and my mom isn’t going to return that Halloween trophy you won. She’s keeping it at her house.”

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We were celebrating Christmas with extended family.

Emma: What’s everyone talking about?

Me: This. I’m one of the funniest parents on the Today Show again!

Emma: What does it say?

Me: This.

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Emma: UGH! Mom! I’m funny too! Write what I say. Don’t listen to Kate!

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Kate was sliding on a sheet of ice on our patio.

Me: KATE! Be careful! You’re making me nervous!

Kate: No, mom! It’s fun!

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Emma: One time, I was in the car with dad and we saw a truck driving on snow in a parking lot, making huge circles.

Me: It’s called making donuts.

Kate: Probably a truth or dare.

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Me: Life lesson, girls. When someone farts on your face, you jab your finger up their butt like this. (I push my finger up Scott’s butt)

Kate: That’s disgusting!

Emma: So if someone farts on  your face, you have the fart on your face AND you have it on your finger too? Gross, mom.

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Me: Kate, what color do you want me to paint your nails?

Kate: Check my Pinterest board.

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Kate asked me to braid her hair in my bathroom.

Scott: Kate, do you want to go coyote hunting with me?

Kate: Nope! I’m gettin’ fancy today.

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Kate: Daddy, sometimes I love you. Sometimes I don’t.

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We were having Christmas dinner with family.

Me: Are you going to sit at the kids’ table?

Kate: Something like that.

Me: What does that mean?

Papa: She told me she’s sitting at the dessert table alone so she can sneak desserts on her plate.

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Our Christmas tree fell in the night. I was busy helping Scott the next morning while Kate had my phone. Emma was at a friend’s house. I found these text messages on my phone:

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I played “Baby Got Back” on my Bose speaker.

Me: “Oh my God, Becky. Look at her butt. It is so big.”

Scott: Will you turn that off? The kids are listening.

Me: They’ve heard it before.

Scott: Don’t let them listen to that!

Me: Ugh. Oh my God, Becky. Fine. (I turn off the song)

Kate: Oh my God, Becky. Look at mom’s butt. It is so flat. Like flatter than a pancake.

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Emma: Papa called us.

Me: He did?

Emma: I tricked him.

Me: What do you mean?

Emma: I answered and I said, “9-1-1 what’s your emergency.”

Me: What did Papa say?

Emma: He said he has explosive diarrhea.

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Kate: What are you writing about?

Me: Well, it’s a blank screen right now. What should I write. Here. I’ll type what you say.

Kate: Hmmmm. For the people. By Kate Burton.

Me: Ok, got it. A by-line. Good. Now what?

Kate: One time my mom wasn’t watching me closely and I fell down the stairs and broke my leg. I was one. It hurt.

Me: I’m not writing that.

Kate: Then tell the people about the staples pushed on my top of my head.

Me: No.

Kate: I’m done writing for the day.

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woman-cold

(wo)man cold.

Call me the Grinch. Call me Ebenezer Scrooge. Call me Tiny Tim, dying on the floor from rickets and tuberculosis. Yes, I looked it up.

Christmas lost its fun, its magic. Christmas became a survival rather than a celebration. Hand me the 2016 Christmas ornament and let’s get this over with.

I have news for you. The ones close to me know this little secret. It’s minor, really. You can forget I ever mentioned it. I am a man. Not a man with a penis but a man with a cold.

I have man-cold syndrome.

I’ve heard the jokes. A bunch of girlfriends get together to complain about their husbands. The topic falls on a man getting sick and BOOM – the insults fly and I avoid all eye contact. He’s so whiny, lazy, and pathetic when he’s sick. He’s a complete momma’s boy and he doesn’t even have a fever. He wants us to finish the will, he thinks he’s that bad. Crying. Weak. Oh, and that in sickness and in health bullshit. Men are the weaker sex – truly. A cold – he has THE COMMON COLD.

Scott is the woman and I am the man. I am your fetal-position, violently ill husband without a fever. I have a cold. I have a bad cold. I have a really, really bad cold and I’m dying. My death by cold with no fever has been dragging on for two weeksScott has put up with my moaning bullshit for 14 days. Not that kind of moaning.

The time spent in my deathbed got me thinking of a list. It’s not a naughty list or a nice list. In fact, the next Santa I see is getting a kick in the giant red nut sack.

I’m sorry. That was inappropriate.

I have nothing against Santa. And really, the jolly ‘ole elf would probably be quick to stuff his black boot up the ass of some crazy woman dying of rickets and tuberculosis charging at him.

I made a list. It’s more of a Clark Griswold meltdown sort of list.

What I want for Christmas:

I want Scott to teach me how to use his shotgun. My first thought was to ask Amazon to screw off. But Amazon allows me to not talk to people. One reason I don’t like to shop is because I don’t like people. It’s not Amazon’s fault. I live in Suburbia, Kansas – home of criminals that follow UPS, FedEX and the USPS trucks to steal packages from front doors. I want to use a shotgun on them. I want to be wheeled out to our front porch, sit, and wait while I spit giant chunks of green phlegm on the ground. Anyone running away with one of my neighbors’ packages gets a bullet to the leg or arm or big toe. I want saline power-sprayed into every crevice of my body. Water is flowing out of my eyes, my nose, and my mouth.  I probably peed the bed last night and I’m sitting in my own urine. Everything is soaked and I’m dying in my own fluids. I want all homework to come with a parent-guide. The hell if I know common core. The hell if I even remember “my way” of math. I tried to learn math as a kid. At best, I peaked as a B-student. Now, I’m just peaking, falling, and it’s giving me a headache because I’m 35 now. World peace. Let’s just throw it out there and see what happens. I want to go back in time and remove “Elf on the Shelf” on Emma’s Christmas list. It’s the same thing every night – climb into bed, inhale the Vick’s Vapor Rub, close my eyes and DAMNIT YOU POINTLESS ASS ELF. When Emma and Kate come home from college, Buddy the Elf will come back from the sorority house every night, drunk off his ass, and spooning Barbie. The Elf on the Shelf is really more of a toy for future-college-mom-me. I want Scott to stop rolling his eyes at me after I tell him my specific request for LUDEN’s wild cherry cough drops. No, I’m not a child. Menthol cough drops don’t work and they make me smell like sickness. To the font maker of the Target’s Archer Farms coffee beans – SCREW YOU, KIND SIR. I can feel caffeine in my soul. I tried to drink a fresh cup of coffee to soothe my sore throat and you know what I felt? I felt hot crap water. I felt decaf. Next time you’re at your computer designing coffee bean packaging, try displaying DECAF in extra large letters with a surgeon general warning symbol on the front. I want my kids and Scott (once he brings me Luden’s cough drops) to be happy for the rest of their lives. If this is what death feels like, just let me waste away with the Ghost of Christmas Past. He probably wears black boots with a giant red sack.

I am a man with a cold and no fever. Merry Christmas. Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol.

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