Lauren and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Today sucked … until it didn’t.

I woke up 45 minutes late.  There was a huge pimple on the tip of my nose.  My protein shake splashed in my face.  I got indigestion from rushing through breakfast.  I backed my new car into the garage, damaging the side mirror.  I had no strength or  endurance at the gym (making it a horrible workout), and then I banged my previously jammed finger.

All this before 9AM.

I was so tired and so stressed that I couldn’t handle it.  I wanted to cry and scream.  I did cry and scream.  Then the song, “Bad Day” came on the radio, followed by Billy Joel’s “Pressure.”  It was as if the universe was talking to me — especially when Billy Joel sang, “… nowhere to look, but inside … ”  Wow!  Talk about a slap in the face.

I started thinking about my friend Edie who’s undergoing chemotherapy and my friend Denise who just finished.  Then I thought about my friend Bev who just lost her dad and my young cousin who had surgery this morning.  What the hell was I complaining about?  A bad workout?  A jammed finger?  A pimple?  Pathetic.  I was being pathetic.  I was having a bad day, not a bad life.

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I am lucky.  Very lucky.  And I’m healthy, so I hit the heavy bag in my basement, worked up a good sweat, showered, ate and moved on.  Grateful.  Thankful.  Satisfied.

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Later, when I burned my hand taking dinner out of the oven, I cursed.  Loudly.  Of course.  But then I let it go.  Tomorrow will be better … Nothing  a little sleep and pimple cream can’t fix.

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– LJDT

Jesus Would Have Worn Sperry’s

My oldest made his Confirmation last weekend.  As one of the seven holy sacraments (and the second of the three sacraments of initiation), it’s kind of a big deal in the Catholic religion because it marks a move into spiritual adulthood … Sort of like a bar mitzvah, but not.

Like all formal church events, there was a dress code to follow.  Girls were expected to wear a dress or skirt and blouse (there were rules about length, style, shoe type, etc.) and boys were required to wear a dress shirt, tie, dress pants (or “slacks,” as my grandma would have called them) and dress shoes.  Jacket optional.  This “church-appropriate” attire was hidden underneath the ceremonial white robe (think high school or college graduation, for those of you unfamiliar).

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H getting his Jesus on with cousin Jack, his Confirmation Sponsor.

No suit … Phew!  Just the thought gives me agita.  Flashback to four years ago when I searched high and low through four states (yes, four!) to find a boy’s size 8 navy blue suit for First Holy Communion.  Because every 8-year-old Catholic boy also makes his Communion in early May, and most average-sized second graders wear a size 8, it was like finding a needle in a haystack!  Thank goodness for the internet and my super-shopper mom.  Side note:  I relived this experience last year for my younger son who was too small to fit into his brother’s beautiful, expensive, worn-only-once, suit.  Despite third times being a charm, I was relieved not to have to go suit hunting again this time around.

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First Holy Communion, May 2011 (kid #1)

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First Holy Communion, May 2014 (kid #2)

So without a suit to worry about, I though clothes shopping for this event would be a snap … Until I remembered the shoes.  My 11-year-old wears a men’s size 9-1/2.  Other than those two hours on Saturday in church, he had no need for dress shoes and would outgrow them before he could wear them again.  A new pair of sneakers would have been a more practical purchase, but the religious education director said no sneakers.  For a few days, I grumbled, complained and pondered my options.  Then it hit me:  If sandals were good enough for Jesus, then Sperry’s would be good enough for a 6th grader.  I bought the soft loafers instead of the boat shoes … Comfortable, yet still dressy — the perfect compromise.

Dressy enough and comfortable ... a win, win in my book.

Winning shoes.

With brown loafers in hand (or on feet, to be exact), the outfit was complete:  Tan “slacks,” a blue gingham dress shirt and a blue and red striped tie.  Very young professional.  Luckily for me, my son likes to dress up once in a while, so I’m sure this outfit will be recycled for the next “formal” event … Assuming he doesn’t grow out of it first.

Looking dapper.

H looking dapper and very grown up.

Happy Confirmation,  H!

P.S.  A huge thank you to my parents, sister and nephew for coming to town to celebrate with us.  You guys rock!  Love you.

– LJDT

Happy St. March 17th

Just when I thought it was safe to put away the glue sticks after last week’s book report t-shirt task, my third grader came home with a  letter from his teacher detailing the fun, family project that was to be completed over the weekend — a leprechaun trap.  Are you kidding me? Obviously, his teacher doesn’t read my blog and clearly we have different ideas of what constitutes family fun.

Like I said last week, I don’t do third grade arts and crafts (click here to read the post), so the leprechaun trap was not going to be a family venture.  Luckily for me, my older son volunteered to help, so I got off easy without looking like a mean mom.  Score one for me!

I also don’t do the messy, mischievous leprechaun thing.  The leprechaun is the Irish cousin to the naughty Elf on the Shelf, and I don’t do that either.  St. Patrick’s Day at the Tarrs does not include green toilet water, tp’d kitchens or tiny footprints everywhere.

What did we do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?  Green clothes and green food.  That’s it.  It was a very watered-down St. Patrick’s Day.  No tricks, no messes, no mayhem.  No gold coins, no trinkets, no treats.  No parades, no parties, no bar crawls.  Okay, those last three haven’t happened in almost two decades, but you get the idea.  Last spring, when I somewhat accidentally killed the St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun and the Easter Bunny (if you missed it, click here to read), I felt like I dodged a bullet.  But really, I turned a corner.  No more elaborate games or over-the-top decorations to celebrate, and no guilt about it.  St. Patrick’s Day is now simply St. March 17th, or “Green Day.”  And you know what?  It works for us.

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My leprechauns

So to all those moms and dads who didn’t stay up all night making leprechaun traps, swapping kids’ blankets and leaving gold, chocolate coins in the cereal bowls, I hope you had a happy St. March 17th — however you celebrated.

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– LJDT

The “New” Third Grade Stinks

My youngest is currently in the third grade.  I don’t remember much about the third grade.  After all, it was a long time ago.  But I do remember the basics:  My teachers’ name was Mrs. Kenny, my bff was Sharon McLaughlin and we had to square-dance with boys in gym class.

My 3rd grade class, c.1981

My 3rd grade class, c.1981

I also remember that we did not have to craft a book report on a t-shirt, a coffee can, or a cardboard snowman — like my third grader has to do.  To be honest, I’m not even sure we had book reports in the third grade, but if we did, we wrote them.  Not crafted them.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to explain … Each marking period, every student in my son’s third grade class has to read a book of his/her choosing from the teacher-assigned genre and complete a book report project.  Each project has a theme and must include certain information (such as: title/author, characters/settings, problem/solution, etc.).  The project theme is the vehicle in which the report is presented.

The first report had to be presented as a poster board.  Easy enough.  We had an extra piece of poster board and plenty of markers, so this one was a snap.

The second report had to be presented in the shape of a snowman, made from cardboard and decorated with felt, buttons and pipe cleaners.  A bit more complicated because cutting circles out of cardboard and getting them to stick together (at least long enough to make it from the house to the bus to the classroom) required some parental assistance, but still not terrible.

The third report had to be depicted on a t-shirt, complete with drawings and other embellishments.  This is where the wheels fell off in our house.  Finding a plain, white t-shirt was challenging.  Finding a second one because my 8-year-old didn’t listen when I told him to put a piece of cardboard between the front and back to prevent the markers from bleeding through to the other side was not only challenging, but also frustrating and annoying.  Let’s just say there was some yelling and some crying with this one.

The fourth report hasn’t been assigned yet, but if it’s anything like three years ago when my older son was in this class, it’ll be a coffee can character.  That one nearly killed me.  I don’t drink coffee, so just finding a coffee can to use was problematic enough to result in some choice words on my part and some tears on my son’s.

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Hideous, but happy … and done all by himself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that third graders are assigned book reports.  I love that they have to read from four different genres and I love that they have to give oral presentations.  What I don’t love is that these reports are more an exercise in arts and crafts than in reading comprehension and writing.

Maybe it’s because I prefer independent work … Despite having finished elementary school years ago, these assignments generally require parental supervision, if not involvement.  I feel like I’m the one being graded!

Maybe it’s because I’m not crafty enough … You can clearly see which kids had help from a Pintrest-inspired parent and which did not.  I consider myself somewhat creative, but not exactly crafty.

Or maybe it’s because I’m biased … As a freelance writer and the daughter of a former English teacher, I think our school focuses too much on math and not enough on language arts.  Making a list of character names and stating the story’s conflict and resolution in a two-sentence paragraph isn’t writing.

Needless to say, I am not enjoying third grade.  Between these new “book report” projects and the crazy Singapore math homework that often makes me feel like an uneducated moron, third grade really stinks.  Thank goodness it’s almost over … How many more days until summer vacation?

– LJDT