Fail!, Life with Kids

Tales of a Fifth-Grade Nothing (with Apologies to Judy Blume)

I knew it would happen eventually. I knew that the day was going to come when my son’s math homework would render me stupid. Alas, that day has come. A couple of weeks ago Jack’s homework assignment for math was to complete a sheet of Egyptian fraction problems. Let me preface this by saying that my son is quite good at math. He enjoys it and has had no problems understanding even the ridiculousness that is “new math.” This assignment, however, had us both stumped. In the end, despite our greatest efforts, we accepted defeat and left one side of his homework undone. I wrote the following note to his teacher to explain the incomplete assignment.

Dear Ms. Alexander,

You may have noticed by now that only one side of Jack’s math homework was completed last night. After trying for several hours to figure out the Egyptian fractions I have only this to say: the ancient Egyptians are extinct for a reason. I am a writer and editor and my husband is an attorney; neither of us has the “math” gene. (Full disclosure: I only passed high school math after making a solemn promise to my very flustered senior-year math teacher that I would never again bring shame to the subject by ever taking another math class for the rest of my life.) However, our desire to help our son with his homework–and eventually our own determination to not fail at FIFTH GRADE math–had us on our respective computers last night looking for the Jedi secret to figuring how the people who brought us the Great Pyramids added their fractions. Alas, to no avail. We even went so far as to call my sister-in-law, who happens to be a fifth-grade teacher in a neighboring town. She calmly tried to walk us through it as we sat on the other end of the speaker phone, staring blankly into the ether, grunting occasionally to let her know we were still conscious.

And so, the challenge side of young Jack’s homework remains woefully blank, and we ultimately hung our heads in shame around midnight last night as we admitted defeat. And at the tender age of 10, Jack has finally learned the sad truth of it all: his parents do not, in fact, know everything about everything. Sigh.

I’m handing in my adult card today. If you need me you’ll find me in the corner, in my pajamas, nursing a cup of tea, eyes glazed over, wallowing in my own stupidity.

With respect and gratitude,

Michelle S.

Blessings, Fail!, Life with Kids

The One with the Generation Gap

I’m 44 years old, but I like to think I keep up with the times. I consider myself a cool Mom. I play loud music in the kitchen while I’m cleaning and make my kiddo dance with me. He enjoys this more than he lets on, I’m quite certain. I took my boy to see Star Wars opening weekend. I go to Comic Con. (Trust me, those things are cool). And while my generation is the last to have used telephones with cords and remember television before cable, I have kept up with and embrace modern technology. I use Facebook, I tweet, I have an Instagram account (well I downloaded the app, though I’ve not posted a single thing on it yet), I blog, I have an interest in Pinterest (see what I did there?), I’ve used Periscope, and I certainly try to keep up with the lexicon of my son’s generation. I still write and speak in full sentences, using actual words and not just letters (OMG SMH! LMAO), but I understand most text-speak. Admittedly this is a necessity at times if I want to talk to my son about how his day was. We’ve had full-on conversations using just random letters. It’s like verbal hieroglyphics. It’s bad enough when it’s text messages or email, but these kids speak in abbreviations. What the actual hell?

Anyway, in an attempt to appear cool the other day, I handed my son his snack and announced, “Here you go, bae.”

My son looked up at me in horror.

Jack: Did you just call me bae?

Me: Yes, bae.

Jack: Yeah, don’t do that.

Mom: What? It’s hip, I’m cool. That’s a hip word. (Important note: If you have to say it’s cool, it probably isn’t. Also? Saying “hip” is not cool).

Jack: Do you even know what it means?


Jack: It means baby.

Me: Well, you’re my baby, so that’s appropriate.

Jack: No, baby, like baby, sweetie…like a boyfriend/girlfriend thing.

Me: Um. You’re 9. How do even… You know what? Never mind. So, I shouldn’t use that term with you?

Aaaannnnddd cue the eye roll.

Jack: Not so much. Cool parenting fail, Mom.


The lesson here is to do a quick search on Urban Dictionary before using a new term with my son or his friends. Or, keep reaching for the stars as far looking cool in my son’s eyes and just enjoy the humiliation it brings him when my attempts result in epic fails.

Blessings, Deep Thoughts, Life with Kids, Teachable Moments

Childhood Friends

I really don’t have much to say today. I just wanted to post this picture of my son and his friend Mia. She lives behind us and she and Jack are thick as thieves. I love childhood friendships. It reminds me of my friendship with Steve, the little boy who lived across the street from us when I was growing up. Steve and I were joined at the hip as kids. Of course while we communicated via plastic walkie-talkies and two cups attached by a string, Jack and Mia have mastered the art of FaceTiming each other long after lights out. Times have changed. But the importance of childhood friends has not…

Jack and Mia
Jack and Mia








Me and Steve
Me and Steve
Blessings, Life with Kids, Totally Random

Conversations with Our 9-Year-Old

Conversations with our 9-year-old.

I overheard a conversation between Jack and Aaron the other day. It went something like this…

Jack: I want to call 911.

Dad: Why do you want to call 911?

Jack: Because I want the police to bring me a donut.

Dad: What makes you think a police officer would have donuts?

Jack: I watch TV; policemen always have donuts.

Dad: Hmm. You should ask Grandpa Tommy if he ever ate donuts while he was on duty.

Jack: Grandpa Tommy was a policeman?

Dad: Yes. You knew that. And so was his father, my grandfather.

Jack: Jeez, Dad, you broke the chain.

Dad: Well, I have a similar job, I just work in a courtroom instead of the street.

Jack ponders this for a moment then sighs plaintively and says: Do I have to do that too? Saving the world is hard work, I just want to entertain people…

Blessings, Deep Thoughts, Favorites, Life with Kids

This Kid Though…

When my house is noisy, I relax a little. Noise means I can pinpoint my son’s location at any given time and I can check in on him to see what he’s up to. Silence is scary. Silence means he’s up to something. Earlier today there was an unnerving lack of noise coming from his playroom, his last known whereabouts. I walked into his room and happened upon this scene:


Me: Jack, what are you doing?

Jack: (Without even opening his eyes) Meditating.

Me: Why?

Jack: ’cause I want to see what my future looks like.

Me: I, wha–, um, ok. Carry on.

Jack: Ommmmmm.

Blessings, Life with Kids

A Day in the Life

My 7-year-old has developed in interest in cooking lately. I think it’s great, especially since it’s not a particular skill I have, though my husband is quite adept at it. So Jack has taken to watching youtube videos on how to prepare different dishes. It’s kind of amusing watching him flip from a Scooby Doo video to a cooking show, really. So last night he got serious about it. He watched a video (repeatedly) on preparing some potato and cheese dish that he wanted to try out. Next thing I know I come into the kitchen to find him with his apron on, the video playing on his Ipad on the counter, and a pot of water filled with water sitting on the stove (which, since we’ve instilled in him NEVER to use the stove without an adult present, was not on). He had taken two potatoes from the bag and place them on the counter, along with other ingredients the recipe calls for (salt, pepper, cheese, etc.), and all the appropriate measuring cups and spoons. I was a little horrified to come upon this scene, but mostly really impressed that he pretty much got everything right.
A discussion ensued about cooking abilities. Jack informed us that he likes our neighbor’s lasagna better than Aaron’s because Aaron uses too much sauce and not enough cheese, whereas Alissa uses the perfect amount of cheese. To which Aaron replied, “You rarely even eat lasagna, how would you even know what’s good?”
Jack, to his credit (and my utter amusement), shot back with: “Hey, I’m not Garfield. Lasagna is fattening!”
garfield lasagne 1 copy1
Touche, my son. Touche.
Still, as lasagna happens to be among my favorite meals, fattening or not, maybe I can get him to give that a shot next time.
Oh, and with proper supervision, Jack cooked the potato and cheese dish and we all enjoyed it thoroughly!
Blessings, Favorites, Life with Kids

The One with the Bargaining

We’ve come to the stage in my son Jack’s development where he’s learning how to bargain.

“Have I got a deal for you!”

Oh, boy. My kid is going to be a used car salesman. Or a game show host.

Jack: Since I skinned me knee today, can I stay up an hour later?

Me: No, Jack, it’s already 10:00. Go back up to bed.

Jack: Mom, mom, just let me say this: I’ll give you ALL my cash if you let me stay up later.

Me: No, Jack.

Jack: Mom, ALL my cash.

Me: No, Jack.

Jack: Okay, if you don’t want a dollar ninety…you’d be riiiiccchhh.

Me: Goodnight, Jack.

Since I’m almost 8, can I…

Since I’m about to give you the biggest hug ever, can I…

Since I…

I’ve become quick enough where I can usually stop him before he even gets the whole question out.

No, Jack, you may not have ice cream for dinner.

No, Jack, you may not wear slippers to school.

No, Jack, you may not put duct tape on the dog.

No, Jack, you may not stay up an extra hour to see if Jon makes Garfield a birthday lasagna.

My favorite is, Mom, since I’m your only son and you love me to the moon and back, can I…

While both these statements are true, no you may not…

The stakes are getting higher with my boy. He recently earned his orange belt in karate, and since he did he wants to go to Hong Kong to meet Jackie Chan. And he wants to go Saturday.

jack orange belt1 - Copy copy

Blessings, Life with Kids

My Son Is a Jedi

From a recent conversation with my son during the nightly struggle to get him into bed at a reasonable hour:

Jack: Mommy, can I watch my white computer in bed? (His portable DVD player.)

Me: No, Jack. If you want to watch a movie in bed, you need to go to bed earlier so you can have lights out at your usual time.

Jack: But it will help me sleep.

Me: No it won’t. I only let you have it last week because you had a bad cough and I figured it would distract you.

Pause. With the dramatic flare and conviction of a 6-year-old: {cough}{cough}{choke}{hack}{cough}

Me: Jack, you do not have a cough.

Jack: But it will help me sleeeeeeppppp!

Me: Did you ask Daddy?

Jack: No.

Me: Uh-huh.

Jack: Really. I didn’t.

Me: Oh, I believe you. Why then did you ask me? Because I’m a pushover?

Jack: [Batting those long eyelashes over his baby blues] No, ’cause you’re the boss.

Ah, yes. The Force is strong in this one.

Blessings, Deep Thoughts, Life with Kids

In Which My Son Turns 5, and I Count My Blessings

My son turned 5 years old today. [Edit – Technically he turned 5 yesterday, as I’m posting this in the wee hours of June 2.] Five. Years. Old. Five years ago he came into this world and my life changed forever. He was placed in my arms for the first time directly after his birth at 1:32 A.M., June 1, 2006. My heart had never felt so full as it did at that exact moment. From that moment on, I was someone’s Mom. It has been the most difficult and most rewarding job I have ever had, and I am thankful every single day for this blessing in my life.

At 1:32 this morning, I quietly went into my son’s bedroom to wish him a happy birthday. I go into his room every year at 1:32 on his birthday to kiss him and tell him how much I love him. This year, I stood by his bedside and just stared in awe at the wonder before me. I watched the rhythmic rise and fall of his small chest as he slept peacefully. I listened to his breath strong and steady, and said a silent prayer to thank God for bringing this child into my life. He has been the breath in my lungs and the beat of my heart since the nanosecond he came into this world. I kissed his forehead, as I did 5 years ago when he was first placed in my arms.  My heart melted, as it did that first moment I laid eyes on him.

Recently we celebrated Mother’s Day. I know that this is technically occasion to celebrate Moms who can, from time to time, be underappreciated and perhaps even slightly taken for granted. For the picking up after, taking care of, and putting up with that we do, we can, occasionally, be un(der)appreciated by our offspring or our significant others. But on that day, and this–the anniversary of the day I became a Mom–I choose to look at things from a different point of view. I choose to take hold of the blessing I’ve been given in being tasked with being a Mom in the first place.

It is a privilege for me to be my son’s Mom. That is something I can take for granted from time to time. So on days like this, I choose to reflect on the gift I’ve been given.

Today I celebrate the day my son was brought into this world, into my life. I learn something every single day from being his Mom. I cannot wait to see what he teaches me next.

Happy birthday, Jack. I love you.