Giving it all away

Okay, so I’m pretty late with this post, given that it’s 6pm on New Year’s Eve, but go with me here.

Every year at Christmas, my kids and I pick charities to donate to, as a kind heart of balance to all the ridiculous shit they receive for Christmas. I want them to remember that there’s more to life than being an American jerk who gets almost everything they want, almost all the time they want it. We are a bunch of lucky fuckers, and as long as we can help other people, we should do it.

This year, we picked three charities:

Peeta wanted to donate to people suffering from Ebola, so we donated to Partners in Health.

Noodle wanted to donate to Lola Children’s Home, which is run by our friend in Ethiopia and funded by Lola Children’s Fund. Lola is a community program and orphanage for HIV-affected kids that allows them to stay with or near their families without being taken away from their loved ones.

I saw an ad for coats for kids in Syria that I am incapable of watching without weeping like a baby, so I donated to SOS.

There are a bunch of other places you could give to, if our choices don’t work for you! Here are some suggestions, just in time for you to get your charitable deduction:

The Sato Project: Rescues abused and abandoned dogs from the Dead Dog Beach in Puerto Rico. My sister and dad both have adopted dogs from them, and they are a pretty cool organization. For my sister’s Christmas present, I made a donation in her name.

Pine Street Inn: Provides housing, employment services and emergency shelter to homeless men and women in Boston. Our friend Yvonne and her son volunteer there every week, and they do really good work.

Horizons for Homeless Children: One of the few organizations in the Boston area catering strictly to the needs of homeless children, offering education, play opportunities and family support. If you don’t want to help homeless kids, it’s entirely likely you have no soul. Just saying.

Medecins Sans Frontieres: Doctors Without Borders, because those guys are frigging amazing and do all kinds of awesome medical work that no one else will. Do YOU want to treat Ebola victims in Western Africa? Didn’t think so.

Mercy Corps: Helps people around the world survive and thrive after conflict, crisis and natural disaster. Our friend Jen works for them, and since Jen is rad, I know they are rad too.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: For my birthday, I made my sister sponsor an elephant for me from this program. I have kind of an elephant obsession, and if you didn’t know–motherfuckers are KILLING them all the time! This is a program in Kenya who rescues them and keeps them safe from those bastard poachers.

And if you’re looking to donate items, I just discovered Project Smile, who accepts children’s items for emergency responders to give to children after emergencies or who are entering foster care. I know we have a zillion stuffed animals around the house that we are going to bring to them.

So run! Make a donation to cats or dogs or kids or famine victims or casualties of war or disease research or whatever floats your boat! Find a program that accepts used clothing or toys or other things you don’t need and give them to people who do! At the very least, you will get rid of things you don’t need. At best, you will feel frigging great and might just teach your kids about the importance of helping others and being grateful for what you have. You don’t just have to do it today, and if you miss the deadline for a 2014 charitable deduction, it can be your new year’s resolution.

Happy new year! Make it a good one!

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A public service announcement

I have bad eyes. Really bad eyes. Drop my glasses on the floor and I need someone to help me find them eyes.

So when I started having headaches and squinting to watch the TV from across the room, I knew it was time to go see the eye doctor. My prescription had changed and it was time for new glasses. Couldn’t I just get new lenses and throw them into my old frames? No, I could not do that because my frames were So Old that they might explode and everyone on earth would die. Or something like that.

I looked at the glasses at the optometrist’s office. There were no prices. I tried to tell myself that was because they were so super cheap that they didn’t even need to list the prices. Sadly, that was not the case. The cheapest of those motherfuckers was $250. JUST FOR THE FRAMES. When the lady calculated in the coke bottle lenses I would need and the special ones to make them not coke bottley and the anti-reflective coating, I was looking at $500 AT LEAST. I told the lady I would come back with my husband and I ran away.

I texted my cousin Sofie (who lives in our basement) and asked her the name of the glasses she was just telling me about. Warby Parker, she said. Her sister Pip had bought some and they were trying to get our grandmother to buy them too.

What the hell, I thought, and I went to the website. The frames were $95. Sweet action! And not only were the frames $95, but they offer a plan that allows you to choose five frames online and have them sent to you to try on, order, and ship back, all with free shipping! I checked out this option, but as I am Incredibly Indecisive, I couldn’t narrow it down to just five. Sofie and I were going to have to go to the store on Newbury St.

The place was a mob scene, but not so busy that I couldn’t try on the glasses. I narrowed it down to about five pairs, had Sof take pictures of me, and sent them to Bucket, who very rudely ignored me. So I narrowed it down to two and made Sofie choose. It was between a pair that was exactly like the ones I have now in a different color, and ones that were slightly bigger (though not so big that they looked like my father’s glasses from the 70’s–for real, America!?).

1000x480I waited in line for about 10 minutes to have an optometrist check my prescription, and another five to order the glasses from an adorable little hipster with big round glasses. She asked if I wanted the polycarbonate lenses because they would be an extra $30. Yes, I said, thinking that only $30 for polycarbonate lenses was a great deal.

So then she looked at me and asked for $125. I looked back at her and told her I needed lenses too. Yes, she said, that’s including the lenses. I stared at her, thinking, no, lenses cost at least $200. Really? I asked. Yes. REALLY? Yes. (At this point, she’s thinking it’s not only my eyes that need help.) I handed over my credit card and looked at Sofie, dumbstruck. Adorable hipster told me they would be mailed to me in 7-10 days, and we were on our way.

The whole way home, I kept looking at Sofie and yelling, “$125!” And she kept saying, “Yes, I KNOW. That’s why I told you to go there.” And we went home and I said to Bucket, “Guess how much my glasses were?” And he said, “$300.” And I said, “NO! $125!” And he stared at me, just as confused and disoriented as I was when I heard the price.

And I haven’t even gotten to the best part. For every pair of glasses, Warby Parker makes a donation to VisionSpring, a nonprofit that trains people in low income countries to sell glasses at very low prices so that jobs are created and people can see. Everybody wins! They have provided people with A MILLION pairs of glasses so far. If you don’t believe me, look here.

$125 for a new set of glasses. $125!!! If I was going to have any more kids, I would name the next one Warby Parker.*

I might not have to get Lasik after all.

*(And they do sunglasses!)

I have no affiliation with Warby Parker, but man do I wish I did.

Adventures in ESL, part 4872517385937

Tonight, Peeta was telling me a story about a conversation he had with his teacher.

Peeta: So, I told Mrs C about the apple cinnamon and she asked where I saw Jacob (her son).

Me: What?

Peeta: I asked her if she knew apple cinnamon. She said yes, and I asked if Jacob was there because I saw him when we went to see Mr Peabody and Sherman.

Me (trying to figure how Peeta’s favorite snack is related to the movies): I don’t get it.

Peeta (speaking very slowly and in short sentences so as not to further confuse his moronic mother): I asked Mrs C if she knows apple cinnamon. She said yes. I told her I saw Jacob there when I went to see Mr Peabody and Sherman. He was seeing something else. I think it was called The Dark of Violence (dramatic raised eyebrows).

Me: OH! APPLE CINEMA!!!

Duh.

Sex: not just naked kissing

Despite the fact that Peeta is 8 1/2 and has a baby sister, he has never shown a great interest in how babies are made. He is, however, very interested in science and anatomy and disease and all that crap. So I really should have seen it coming when, last night, after the kids and I got our flu shots and we took them out to dinner to celebrate their supreme bravery (neither one made a peep) and I had two beers to celebrate my supreme bravery (that sucker hurt, yo!), Peeta pulled out his My Body book (which, incidentally, says nothing about sex or babies).

I read it, and at the end, he asked me something about babies coming from a seed. No, Bud, I said. Remember? The sperm swims up to the egg and fertilizes the egg and that makes the baby. Yes, but Mama, how does the sperm get into the mom?

Oh, shit. Really, kid? Right now, when I am sleepy from my two beers and my arm hurts and it’s already too late for you to be going to bed? Okay. Here we go.

Me: Okay, I can tell you, but you might think it’s gross. Remember how we talked about sex and how it’s naked kissing?

Him: Fine, fine. Yeah, yeah. But how does it happen? Do the sperms just jump out of the dad’s mouth or something?

Me: (collapsing into hysterical laughter for five minutes and then recovering and blah blah penis vagina)

Him: (horrified) Ew!! You and Abbat did THAT!?

Me: Uh, yeah. It’s how we got Noodle.

Him: You were NAKED!? EVEN YOUR SHIRT?

Me: Yes.

Him: Does Sissy [my mother] know?

Me: (hoping that he’s not asking if my mother knows how to have sex) Does Sissy know what?

Him: Does Sissy know you did The Sex?

Me: I’m pretty sure she does, Bud. After all, I did have a baby.

Him: That is SO GROSS. I can’t believe you did that.

Me: Bud, all mammals have sex. It’s something that people do when they’re in love, but all mammals do it to make babies.

Him: Wait a minute. YOU DID THIS MORE THAN ONCE?

Me: Yeah, buddy. You don’t believe it now, but one day even you will want to have sex.

Him: (rolling around on the bed in horror and disgust) THAT IS DEE-SGUSTING! I can’t believe you did sex a million times! I thought it was just once!

Me: (thinking that Bucket wishes we did it a million times) I know, Bud. It’s horrifying. You’ll get over it, though. And you know you can ask me or Abbat anything you want about it, but you shouldn’t talk to your friends about it right now because I don’t know what they’re supposed to know.

Him: GROSS, MAMA! I don’t ever want to talk to my friends about that, ever!

Him: Okay, you can go now. Please don’t talk about this ever again.

Me: No problem, kiddo.

That’s my girl

Noodle, in the back seat of the car, to no one in particular: I’m the queen of Ethiopia and Peeta is the king!!

Peeta, a little annoyed that Noodle is always claiming to be Ethiopian: Why aren’t you the queen of England? Daddy is English, you know.

Noodle, thrilled with this prospect: I am the queen of England! And the queen of Ethiopia! I AM THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING!!

Yup, she’s definitely mine.

So much for the love

Noodle and I are driving in the car and she pipes up from the back seat: Mama, I have a secret.

Me: You do? What is it?

Noodle: I love you SO much!

Me: Oh, Noodle. That is such a nice secret. Thank you so much.

Noodle: Mama, I have another secret.

Me: Hit me.

Noodle: I love you to the farthest star and all the way back.

Me: Hooray! Thank you, baby!

Noodle: Mama, I have ANOTHER secret.

Me: No way! What is it?

Noodle: We need a new car.

These are the days of our lives

After Peeta and I finished his homework this afternoon, he told me he had some news.

“Today, while I was hiding in the bushes at recess, I saw Angelina kiss Zach on the forehead! EWW! And then he kissed her on the cheek, and they came out HOLDING HANDS! DEESGUSTING!”

But it didn’t end there. He pulled out his class photo and started giving me the lowdown on all the hot loving going on in room 211.

“Dashiell and Ella are in SEX! They think they are SEXY!”

“Rowida and Ian are in sweet love.”

“Patricio and Natalie are in love too. One day, I saw him TOUCH HER LEG! EW! It was really appropriate.”

You mean inappropriate? “Yeah, that.”

And so there you have it. All the hot love from Peeta’s second grade class. When I asked him if he loved anyone, he scrinched up his face and said he liked a lot of people, but he wasn’t ready to be in love–that in fact, being in love was FILTHY.

My boy, that is fine with me.

It’s called karma, sister

Earlier today, Noodle suddenly started crying upstairs. She came down to me in tears, and I asked her what happened.

“I bumped my eye on Daddy’s table!”

How did you do that, my child?

“I was stealing all his money!!” she wailed.

As I choked back a snort, I reached to pick her up and she triumphantly pulled a balled-up fist from behind her back.

“I got all the money! Ta da!” she yelled, throwing a handful of coins on my desk.

What kind of master thief nails her eye on the table during her mission? At least she didn’t abort without getting her hands on the cash. I’m not sure whether I’m disappointed or proud.

Sometimes they do listen

In the car with Noodle, on the way to a birthday party.

“I don’t want to be stuck! I don’t want a seat belt!” she shrieks as I strap her in.

“Too bad, kid. You know the rules,” I say as I get into the front seat and start to drive away.

“Why? Why do I have to wear a seat belt?”

“You know why. If I crash, then you will go flying through the windshield and then the police will come and I will go to jail,” I tell her, wondering why I have to repeat it every time we get in the car.

“I don’t want you to go to jail! You’re too pretty for jail!” she yells.

Finally.

Mama: 1. Noodle: 74398572349587249857253.

Today: A Recap

Things that happened today:

1. Had a battle of wills with Noodle over her attire for playgroup. She wanted to wear nothing but a leotard to school in 20-degree weather. I said no; pants, sweater and socks are mandatory. We compromised with her wearing the “costume” with a sweatshirt zipped down as far as it could go, Italian man-style, sans gold chain and magnificent chest hair.

2. Ishy spent the day running up and down the stairs for no apparent reason except sheer excitement that we had finally installed runners so he wouldn’t slip and slide all over the place.

3. After school, I let Noodle stay up to get Peeta from the bus because we were running late and I didn’t have time to put her down for her nap. After the bus came, the kids were playing with their friends and Noodle took a huge digger off her bike: face first onto the sidewalk. Blood squirted everywhere, but fortunately she had just bitten through her lip. Even more fortunate was the fact that our friend Nurse Lisa was there, who immediately got her some paper towels and frozen strawberries to suck on as she recounted the incident 67,000 times.

4. As we were watching the kids play (and bleed), the dumbass who just moved in down the road came flying past the house at about 45mph, while the kids were standing on the sidewalk. Lisa and I screamed at him and then ratted him out to the cop who lives across the street, who happened to come out in his uniform about five minutes later. We were still standing with Policeman Neighbor when Dale Earnhardt returned, crawling down the street at a snail’s pace, turning just before my house, where Lisa and I stood, pointing at his car. I’m pretty sure he thinks we called the cops on his ass, and I’m okay with that.

5. Despite the fact that it’s supposed to snow 4-8 inches tonight, I could no longer stand the leaves in our yard, so I spent an hour raking. Raking is one of my least favorite activities (after changing diapers and doing math), and now I remember why: I got a blister on my thumb. My hand will surely have to be amputated by morning.

6. Noodle took a late nap and came downstairs in her diaper (which she is only allowed to wear while sleeping). I was cleaning the kitchen and making dinner, so I didn’t put her back in her knickers. (Rookie mistake.) Halfway through dinner, a terrible stench started to emanate from her general vicinity, and sure enough, she proudly proclaimed that she pooped. Cut to five minutes later, when she is sitting in Bucket’s lap and he notices she has shit smeared all down her leg, on her precious leotard and her favorite Oscar the Grouch socks. Fortunately, we had finished eating.

7. After Bucket scrubbed her down, I put her in the bath. While she and Peeta were bathing, I went into my room, where I saw something weird above my side of the bed. I have no confirmation, but I’m 99% sure it was dried up bloody snot. Peeta slept with me last night, and I think he left it on the wall as a special gift. I’m not sure why he left it on my side of the bed, but I’m sure it’s just because he loves me so much more than Bucket.

And on that note, goodnight.