Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Schmoozie

My son and I have a ritual. Mother-son bonding, if you will. Once, maybe twice a week, depending on cravings, we go out and get a schmoozie. He asked for the pink one today. It's called "Surf's Up" and is made with strawberries, bananas and yogurt. I like the Blowfish or the Shark Bite schmoozies, (basically, anything without bananas).

Just thought I would share this with you. No hidden meanings behind this post. No funny catch phrases. No moral to the story. Just telling you about a fun day I had with my son getting schmoozies.

P.S. They were extra thick today.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I've Been Hit!

While I was checking out the blogsite of a friend of ours up in chilly Utah, I discovered I'd been hit! Hit with one of those taggy-game-thingies again. Apparently, what I have to do is tell all who read my blog 7 completely random things about myself. Things, that I'm sure you will find useful for future reference. Then, I have to tag 7 more people who haven't already been tagged. Thing is, I only know 2 people on here who haven't been hit already.
Steph and Geoff Gibson....I tag you!!

Here are the rules:
#1 Link to the person that tagged you.
#2 Post the rules on your blog.
#3 Share seven random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
#4 Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
# 5 Leave a comment on their blogs so that they know they have been tagged.

7 Rounds of Ammunition for Your Enjoyment:

1. I can't stand for crumbs to be on my fingers. If I'm cooking, I'm constantly washing my hands or wiping them off with paper towels. If I'm eating, I'm unconsciously rubbing my fingers together until I no longer feel crumbs on them so I can pick up whatever it was I was eating to start the whole process over again.

2. I really truly am obsessive compulsive. I count my steps in my head, I count the little yellow lines on the road, I tap my feet constantly, I have to have everything in its place or I cannot function properly. If I have been gone from a room for a few minutes, even days, and something is moved, I will know exactly what it was and will restore the room back to its original condition. At least I don't rock back and forth, right?

3. If you were to call and tell me you'd be on my doorstep in 5 minutes to visit me, I can guarantee you would find clean laundry stuffed under beds and under sinks, pieces of paper and clutter shoved in drawers and cupboards and dirty dishes under the kitchen sink. Normally, these things are always done, but you always have the last minute visiting teacher who wants to stop by. I can't stand for people to see my clutter so, for a few minutes, it plays a little game of hide and seek.

4. I can't leave the house without my shoes, my purse, my jewelry, my whole outfit matching. If it doesn't match, it's not worthy to wear.

5. I only eat one thing at a time off of my dinner plate, starting with my veggies and leaving my main course for the finale.

6. I don't like to be in pictures. I like to take the pictures, but not be in them. No. No, thank you. I'll pass. Because it never fails, I'm making some ridiculous face most of the time. I'll stick to making funny faces BEHIND the camera. (That's why I need a good one, *ahem*, dear).

7. I am easily distracted. Sometimes, it's hard for me to.....oh, look, a kitty.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

It Consumeth Me

Any of you have little girls? Scratch that...who am I kidding? It doesn't have to be just little girls. Do any of you have children? Have they been given gifts recently? Were they given Barbies? Tonka Trucks? Playdough, maybe? Perhaps, they were given a little furry creature so soft to the touch you think it could melt with one more stroke? And did this furry little creature happen to have a nifty little tag on it? And on that nifty little tag was there a nifty little code that is the key to an amazing little realm called...

***Webkinz World!?***

Have you been there? I have. It is a magical place filled with lights and sounds and colors and adorable little animals running, hopping and flying around playing games and having all kinds of fun.

You see, what happens is on your birthday or some other special occasion, a friend or family member buys you a pet Webkinz, you type in the code at their website and voila! You have just adopted yourself a pet, complete with birth certificate and adoption papers. It is yours to nurture, feed, clothe, bathe and play with.

But it is more than just play. You have to keep your pet active with routine workouts and you must keep it healthy with regular check-ups at Dr. Quack's office. You have to get jobs to earn money such as delivering newspapers, flipping hamburgers, babysitting and painting fences so you can buy furniture and food.

You even have go to school and get your pet a degree. (A Pet Degree, get it? say it 3x fast.). The more activities you do with your pet the happier it will be and the more it will love you.


...if you forget about your adopted friend or don't visit often enough, it can die. That's right. One day you go to login and all of a sudden you're not allowed. You have to adopt a new Webkinz. It is a sad day in Webkinz World and you're the worst parent ever.

It is a great tool for children as a "pre-pet" to learn the ins and outs of the responsibilities having a pet requires before the real Fluffy comes along.

But can you see what the master-minds of Webkinz World have done to an obessive-compulsive-animal-loving mother like myself?! They've snagged me in their precisely laid webs of intrigue. They must have seen me, and other moms like me, coming. We naturally loving and nurturing individuals whose hearts go out to all the helpless, innocent little furry creatures in all the shelters and on all shelves across the world in need of a home, didn't stand a chance. They're so adorable and their little beady eyes seem to stare straight through to my soul and speak to my inner conscience:

"Please, lady. Take us home. It's no fun here just sitting on shelves with nothing to do. We promise to be good pets and make no messes. We just want a home to call our own. All the other Webkinz have sweet little children to play with them and tuck them in at night. Why can't we have that, too? Doesn't anyone love us?"

*To the lady behind the counter; I point beyond her*

"I'll take the golden retriever, the brown clydesdale and the bunny. Oh, and the duck. And the terrier."

I wrap them in frilly little boxes with holes poked in the top so they can still breathe. When the gift-giving day arrives I am shoving little boxes in my child's face.

"Here, honey, open this one. This one, too. Hurry!"

As she slips off the bow and tears off the wrapping paper, I've aready flipped the lid off the box and snatched the creature. In a flash, I have fled to the study and am at the entrance of Webkinz World typing in the secret code.

It has got me. I am addicted. There is no turning back. I have decided - every Webkinz deserves a home. And if ours is it, I will sacrifice closet room to make room in my heart and our home for these innocent little creatures.

I urge you today, go out and adopt yourself a Webkinz or a Lil' Kinz. Your life will forever be changed. And if your child already has one, tonight after you put them to bed remember...

I'll be playing Checkers in the Tournament Arena. Send me an invite.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just Missing Him

I have had a tough day today, yesterday and this week. Not because the kids were screaming or running all over the place. Not because my hair wouldn't do what I wanted it to. Not because the internet was down for a while and I couldn't surf the www. But because I have been missing my dad something awful.

For those of you who do not know me or what I have gone through in the last year I will bring you up to speed. Short version: In June of 2007, my 72 year old father called me in a panic; "Baby? (That's what he used to call me), I think I just had a stroke. I called 911." He was slurring his words and sounded truly, sincerely panicked. I have NEVER, never heard my dad panicked.

I rushed to the ER where he lay there naked under a bed sheet hooked up to wires and beeping things. What seemed like an eternity later, the doctors confirmed he had had a stroke. But they found a "something" in his brain that needed to be looked at closer and with bigger, smarter machines. Probably just scar tissue from the thyroid cancer he suffered and survived 15 years earlier.

It wasn't. And I have wished a thousand wishes that it would've just been a scratch on the CT's lens. After weeks in different hospitals, he was diagnosed on July 20th with terminal brain cancer.

"Terminal...?" I kept trying to make the word mean something else; trying to rewrite Webster in my mind.

"Terminal." I still kept coming up with a very dark word. A word that didn't spell hope, chance, maybe, or even possibly. It leaves a grimy feeling in the pit of your stomach just saying it. I hate this word.

Overnight, he went from a vibrant, stout and strong older man who could stand for hours and tell you jokes, to not being able to walk by himself or even speak in english. He was confined to his bed. And now, all of a sudden when he needed something he said:

*Blank look from me and my brothers*.
"What did you say, dad?"

"Repeating" himself politely he said:

*Blank looks again*.
Dad looked at us firmly, as if to say, Well, what are you waiting on?

We hesitated to ask again because we didn't want to embarass him. But we had to. This time we leaned in closer to him, (like leaning in would help us decipher some secret code hidden beneath the layers of numbers)...
"Say, that again, dad. Just one more time, please."

Now he was a tad irritated.
"96, 15, 82, water, 47."

Aha! We were all on it! To the kitchen we flew with wings on our feet, however confused from this point on we would be.

It never got better.

Finally, one day he figured out that every time he spoke it was not something we could comprehend. Eventually, we figured out a bit of his language code. 70 meant Okay. 52 meant no. We started playing guessing games to figure out what else he needed. Eventually, he just stopped talking. Just a laugh or a nod was all we got.

My brothers and I took care of him for 2 months in his home rotating shifts. We were all in agreeance and bound and determined NOT to put him in a nursing home. Although, I will admit, it tested me in so many ways. I grew from this experience, but there were many times during this short period I thought I'd failed my father.

I'll never forget one of the last "conversations" I had with him. I was feeling really crummy one day about a lot of personal stuff involving dad. I wanted to make sure he knew that I loved him beyond a shadow of a doubt. I peeked into his room and saw that he was awake watching TV...
"Hey there, dad. How are you today?"

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Good," I said awkwardly and crawled up on the bed beside him. I held his hand. It had been so long since I did that. I began to cry and I do not like to cry publicly so I decided my confession had to wait and stared at the TV screen. Minutes passed and I figured, what the heck. With tears streaming down my face, I told my father how much I loved and appreciated him and all that he had done for me during this life. I told him how sorry I was for certain things and how much I didn't want him to go and to hold on as long as he could.
Then, something truly astonishing happened. He patted my knee, looked me square in the face and spoke as plain as he had just months before math took over his tongue and said, 

"It's ok, Baby, everybody dies."

I felt like saying, "Gee, dad! Thanks for the update", and in any other circumstance I might have. LOL!
Instead, I sobbed very loudly, much like a toddler who hadn't gotten their way,
"But, I don't want you to die!"
More numbers....

He died on Sept. 18th, 2007. 1 month and 1 day till his 73rd birthday. By the time he passed on he was completely blind and deaf and just the shell of the gentle giant I remembered him being as a child. But he went quickly. That's what he would've wanted.
For his funeral, I decided to give his eulogy. I would like to share it with you here so that you can be introduced to this wonderful man I got to call Dad.

"There are many of you here today that I could've pictured standing up here talking about my father. But if you'll forgive me, I chose to be a little selfish today because there are a lot of things I wish to say about him. My dad was a man of few words. He didn't say much, but then again at times, he said volumes. Right now for me, there are not enough adjectives in the english language to express how I feel about a man I had the priviledge of calling Dad.

He came into my life at a time that was most crucial, not only for me as an unborn child, but for my mother and her 13 year old son at the time, as well. For those of you who do not know the goodness of my dad's heart, you must know he married my mother when she was 7 months pregnant with me after she had been widowed by the very sudden passing of my biological father, Charles Lee Warthen, several months prior.

I am reminded of a song by Brad Paisley, "He Didn't Have To Be". As cliche as it might be right now to quote a country song, I can't think of a better way on my own to describe how he affected my life and that of my older brother, Brad. Allow me to read a verse or two:

'When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new,
it always winds up feeling more like a job interview.
My momma used to wonder if she'd ever meet someone
who wouldn't find out about me and then turn around and run.
And then all of a sudden, oh, it seemed so strange to me,
how we went from something's missing to a family.
Lookin' back all I can say about all the things he did for me,
is I hope I'm at least half the dad
that he didn't have to be.
Because he didn't have to be.'

Because of my dad's example and influence I feel I am a better mother. He had the patience of Job and I'm sure all of you here will concur with that statement. Because of my dad I was able to grow up in a completed family. I grew up being able to have a choice of whether to run to my mom OR my dad in a time of crisis. I grew up knowing some of life's greatest joys because he was there. This single unselfish and honorable action he committed to, instilled in me the deeply rooted subconscious desire to want and expect nothing less than a whole family of my own one day.

Those who DO know my dad know that for him, life was just a bowl of Hershey's. There was not a night that passed that dad did not have his fix of Hershey's kisses and Oreo cookies while watching the big game or an old war movie, preferrably starring John Wayne. But in another sense each day was nothing short of a treat for my dad. He was a happy human being and rarely did anything other than sweetness fall from his lips. Maybe the Hershey's had something do with that.

I'll never forget the little Charlie Chaplin-like dance he used to do for the grandkids when we would come over to visit. I even got this dance from him a time or two, as well.

And I don't ever want to forget dad's laugh. His was distinctive and contagious. If your joke or story was funny, there was no mistaking it. Everyone in the neighborhood or around the block knew someone had just said something genuinely funny when dad laughed.

And I'll never forget his dimples that accompanied his big gracious smile. I loved his handsome dimples.

I can remember every birthday I had he'd always ask me how old I was, just throwing out a number, "What are you, 10, this year?" with a question mark in his eye and his elvis-lipped grin hung on the corner of his mouth. Even up until my last birthday he was guessing I was only 15.

I can also remember every morning as a little girl I would crawl up in bed with my mom and dad and cuddle for a time and start my day off with butterfly kisses from dad. It used to be our morning ritual. Now, it's something I wish I'd never grown out of.

I cry for him not because I'm sad that he's dead, but because I'm sad that he's gone. And I'm not sad because I know he's in a better place, but I AM sad that that place is not here with me.
However, I know that because of God's plan for us and the sacrifice of our elder brother, Jesus Christ, that one day we will be together again, forever. But for now, just for now, my heart aches to have him here with me again.

I hope more than anything that everyone here in this audience today can feel the love I have for this man. I also hope that the many things that I haven't been able to say about him today are speaking loud and clear to you now, resonating in your hearts. If you could see straight through to my heart right now, what you would find there is an engraved image of my father holding a piece of my soul. It's the least I could give to him for all he gave to me.

I love and miss you daddy."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Valentine's Day Card

I love Valentine's Day, don't you? I adore being creative and finding fun and flirty things to do for my husband. I also like the anticipation, the sheer suspense, of waiting to be surprised by what my hubby has conjured up to give me on this candy-and-roses-filled day. Year after year, he tries his hand at being creative. Sometimes, he succeeds. Other times....well, let's just say his heart was in it.

This year he managed to fall right smack-dab in the middle. He took me to my favorite place in the whole world. A little Habachi and Sushi grill about 30 minutes from here. I filled myself to the brim with Rainbow sushi, a Philadelphia roll, filet mignon, lobster tail, grilled chicken, fried rice, soup, salad and veggies. I committed a sin today with how much I ate and will be repenting for this until I am certain the fat has melted off of my thighs. This may take a while.
Anyhow, that's beside the point here. Shortly after the meal, my husband presented me with the card I have pictured above. Awwww...Cute, huh?
Read the inside again. Notice anything? Did you notice the "Your lips were made for kissing" part? Yeah, that's pretty much true. Then, "Happy Valentine's Day" (to me!).
And lastly, "To my...."
Wait. Does that say....

" HUSBAND...with love."? Why, yes it does.
I will be the first to admit, he's not so much into the paying-attention-to-details-thing. I guess most men aren't. Not to stereo-type here, but I think it's a little known fact between us ladies. We can get a new hairdo or lip color and you know SOMETHING is different so, you manage to blurt out a ques-pliment, as I call them, (a compliment in the form of a question) to the tune of, "Wow, honey. Is that a new outfit?" *fingers crossed behind your back*
*Slight sigh and a teensy roll of the eyes while you're not looking* "No, dear. I've had this for years. But thanks for (finally) noticing." *winking in your direction*
Whereas, you guys can brush your teeth with the left hand instead of the right and we'll notice your teeth are whiter today, (you know it's true). Don't get me wrong, we still give you an A for effort. I'm just making my point. The majority of your gender just wasn't blessed with as much attention to detail as us women. If you were, quite honestly, we wives would probably be slapping you all the time for letting us know the dishes were put up in the wrong cabinet (again), the couch is off-center and the dress shirts were hung up buttons out, not in.
But this card...this card takes the cake! LOL!! I love you, dear! You are my Mr. Simpleton in keeping things real and low-key. I love your sense of humor, your wit. I love the way you make me laugh even when you don't mean to. I love your sincere and innocent attempts at trying to be as creative as your artistically-superior better half (just kidding).
But seriously, don't worry. Next year, for Valentine's Day I'll buy my own card. You can sign it for posterity's sake.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Telemarketers Need Manners, Too!

Ok, so I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, my mother taught me the importance of having manners. Now, to some people that may be a big word. Manners. Come on, let's all say it together. Maaanneerrrss.

See, you don't have a problem saying it. You probably don't even have a problem using them! So, why is it that the people who need them the most are void of these essential parts of the human personality?

Take telemarketers, for instance. They seem to be the worst! You would think that since they're trying to sell me something, they'd try to make me their friend. Well, I don't know what kinds of friends telemarketers get but I can assure you that are manner-less. Let me illustrate a conversation I frequently have with these people:

(I was in the bathroom)
Me: Hello?

Looonnngg pause. I banter with myself- Hang up, idiot! (No, you better not. It might be important). If it is, they'll call my cellphone!
Then, I hear the slightly oriental or arabic and sometimes even American voice on the other end...

Telemarketer: Elo, is dis uh, Mrs. Maisions?
Me: *sigh* Mrs. Mason? Yes.
Telemarketer: Good! Elo, how are ju today?
Me: I'm fin-
Telemarketer: Goood. Let me just start off by saying that dis is not a sales call, ok, Mrs. Maishon?
Me: (*under my breath* But I figure you'll still ask for money in the end), Sure.
Telemarketer: And this call may be monitored by people that are much higher up than I am and will shoot me if I do not sell something to you. I am representing a company that...blah, blah, blah....

I have started painting my fingernails. I contemplate taking a shower or skinning a cow to make a handbag. I yawn. BUT, I am still listening. Why? Because I don't want to be RUDE.

Telemarketer: ...blah, blah, blah. And now, Mrs. Masson, how would a FREE trial of this product sound like to ju? If ju not completely satisfied we take it aalll back at no cost to ju. But, I know ju gonna like it and want to keep it. And it will be just half jur life savings every month for de rest of your life. So, all I need from you today is a major credit card. Ok, I ready...

Me: (Aha! I knew it!) Actually, your product sounds great but, I already have a product similar to the one you are selling. Thank you, though.

Telemarketer: Aah, now Mrs. Manson, ju not want to pass up dis great opportunity. It is risk-free, if you call giving out jur credit card number to strange-talking foreinger risk-free. I am ready for dat credit card number now...

Me: Thank you, but I have to pass.

Telemarketer: Might I remind you dat ju can cancel at any time but not without us charging ju at least $400 shipping and handling. So, what do ju say, Mrs. Maissions? how 'bout dat credit card number...

Me: No, really. I can't buy this product from you. I have no need for it (when I can get it from my home town for a fraction of the price of what you are trying to sell it to me from India or Pakistan or Jersey or wherever you're from)....

Telemarketer: PLEASE, Mrs. Mansians, I need ju to be buying dis product! Dey punish me if I not sell to ju! Pllleeeaassee, Mrs. Massions!

Me: It's Mrs. Mason. *click*

OK, now my point here...first off, I corrected my name to you once. I shouldn't have to do it again if you're pitching me a sale. Secondly, my mom always told me if somebody said no, you don't keep asking! It's RUDE!!

Another scenario:

(I am ignoring it because the caller ID has given away their identity.)
(Wow, they don't give up.)
(I'm not home....)

Me: Hello?
It's actually an American female telemarketer on the other end! Not that it gives me any more hope of getting off easy here. It's just nice to not have to decipher every syllable of every word that is spoken for once.

Telemarketer: Hi, my name is Taneisha. I am a representative for blah, blah, blah....

I listen to her sales pitch and with every adjective I know it's something I don't need.

Telemarketer: ...blah, blah, blah. Is the owner available?

Me: No, he's not can I take...


No, that was not ME who hung up. That was Taneisha!! Oh no, she didn't!!

Ok, so aside from the obvious, what was wrong with this picture? Does Taneisha or her superiors really expect me to clamor to buy whatever it was she was trying to sell me the NEXT time she calls my house? I should hope not. What she should be expecting is a big fat dial tone in her ear the next time I hear her voice.

Thank goodness my momma taught me good manners. Next time they call, I'll politely say, "Excuse me, I'm just wondering, but does it sound like I care?"

The Sharp Tongue

A senseless disease thriving in one's mouth, it is a sword of indifference and selfishness. I know...I have been in possession of it a time or two.
It is that which can cause much injury without ever killing but leave one so mamed and scarred they wish they could just die. I know...I have dressed those wounds a time or two.
Born of anger, hatred, malice and the like it thrives on contention and breeds with unrighteous judgement. It knows no boundaries. It cares not who it possesses, who it hurts or why. Just as long as its thirst is satisfied.
It is the long, black, bending, twisted tongue of justification and defense. The one used when we no longer feel shame for the ignorant one-sided things we think and therefore let them spill from our mouths like a plague, torturing the unsuspecting souls who never stood a chance in our minds anyway. Often those passive souls are the ones who are forced to eat crow for every meal without even the opportunity to purge later.
You can predict it, but it won't matter. You can prepare yourself for it, but the cut still still bleeds. And that was the whole goal in the first place.
You can't dodge a sword without a shield for long. And even if you had one, the constant battle would eventually wear the metal down so that it shatters leaving you only fragments of self-respect to protect yourself with; or it wears you down physically so that you simply give up fighting and take the blow once and for all - just to get it over with.
It is said we should turn the other cheek. What do you do when you feel the other cheek has been sliced to the bone?
It is said we should forgive all men. What happens when you no longer feel forgiveness in your heart?

Beware then...for the disease is within you.

Questions For the Curious

Why is it when I need a quiet day, just one quiet day, the phone rings off the hook?

Why do my children insist on repeating something I have said in the very distant past at precisely the wrong present moment?

Why when I color my hair does it give me a boost of confidence even though it's only a shade or two off of my natural color?

What is it with guys and scratching?

Why are there STD commercials on the kids' channels?

How come I can run my butt off every day for a solid year and still have cellulite on the back of my legs?

Why does the doorbell ring at the most inconvenient times?

Why is it when I have to go to the restroom really badly I forget how to undo my pants?

Why do men's libidos have to be SOOO much, uh...stronger...than women's?

Why do men and women have to think so differently about some of the most common things?

How is it that some people can go through life completely miserable for no reason at all and others find happiness even in the most disasterous of situations?

What do they mean by "Cat got your tongue?"? I have never let a feline that close to my mouth, let alone close enough to catch my tongue!

What do they mean by "Curiosity killed the cat"?

What do they mean by "Let the cat out of the bag"?

Why do so many cliches deal with cats?

How come children can forgive so quickly someone who has pushed them down or taken a toy from them or hit them and we, as adults, can't forgive someone for even the smallest of silly offenses?

What ever happened to the Golden Rule?

Why doesn't love stay forever for everyone?

Why am I so blessed and priviledged when some of my brothers and sisters in this world are suffering?

What makes me so special?

Why do gay guys make the best girl friends? (At least for me they do).

Why is it that even though I have been singing and up on stage my whole life and performed in front of millions of people all together I still get the shakes and very nearly pee my pants before I have to go on?

Why is it that the people we care about most in our lives sometimes don't seem to care that they are cared most about?

How long has it been since you prayed?

How long has it been since you listened after you prayed?

Why are you reading this?

Things My Children Have Taught Me

Never trust a grinning 3 year old when he says he didn't do it.

Milk can shoot out of your nose at the speed of light when you laugh, especially if you're lying on your back.

Lizard tails take a very long time to grow back. Cat tails don't...I mean, they don't grow back.

Toilets do not have the capacity to hold an entire roll of toilet paper in one flush. Toilets do not like the cardboard roll either.

Bathrooms are a small room and flood very quickly.

Always check the garbage disposal before you flip the switch. Always.

If it's clean you have less than 5 minutes to enjoy it that way. I suggest keeping a Spic & Span Scrapbook. Immediately after you have cleaned a room take a picture of it and add it to your book. Keep it by the front door and hand it to your visitors upon greeting them.

When on the phone it is wise to learn to talk very fast, much like college shorthand and all in one breath. (i.e.: "Susie, still alive, miss you, hope you're well, get together soon. Bye!"). Better yet, text.

There is more water and ice in the fridge than you think, trust me.

When a gallon of milk is dropped and explodes it now becomes 50 gallons and will take every towel in your house to clean up.

Even the tiniest fragment left on the floor, such as a gameboard piece, will turn into a missile when accidentally vacuumed up and can leave a substantially large hole in your wall, completely knock out the family pet or sever a limb.

If you have more than 2 children and you venture out into public with them expect to lose your temper. If you choose to spank in public, like me, realize that you will have spectators. Those onlookers will call CPS on you. However, I am working on a solution that will most likely prevent some of this trouble for us. It's called the "Child Muzzle" and the patent is pending.

Once your child hits the age of about 2 you will never be able to visit the restroom alone. Also, expect questions.

Crayons, markers and pens show up on all colors of walls. I suggest going with a neutral color that hides these markings, such as black.

When you, and believe me you will, find hand and/or foot prints on the ceiling - DO NOT ASK. Believe me, you do not want to know how they got there.

Even a light-as-a- feather foam ball will knock over the family heirloom vase your grandmother gave you if thrown correctly. And somehow, children always know how to throw it correctly. TIP: Do not ask "How in the world did this happen?!" They WILL show you.

When telling your child to "come here" for a punishment, expect them to run. It is an instictual reaction of survival in children under the age of 8. Do not underestimate the speed of a bare-footed toddler. They have internal turbo buttons. A thin layer of vegetable oil on your hardwood floors will eliminate this problem completely.

Never ever say something in front of any child that you do not wish repeated. Again, here is another great scenario where the "Child Muzzle" will come in handy.

Expect to grow to hate one word in the english language - "Why?".

The TV is no longer an electronic device you have the priviledge of using. Finding a hobby such as carpentry or pottery will benefit you here.

Every question your child asks deserves a prompt, nip-it-in-the-bud answer. Ignoring such questions as "Why do you have hair there?", "Why is that lady's baby-feeders bigger than yours?", and "What is that kitty doing to Whiskers?" will only result in your child getting annoyed at having to repeat themselves at several decibals louder than a sonic boom.

Always supervise what your child takes to Show & Tell. There is no exception to this rule. Going to school with him/her on this "special" day is crucial, so you can clear up any confusion your classroom may encounter.

For obvious reasons, it is best not to teach your children the anatomically correct words for their personal parts until after the age of 25.

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