Ok, all you experienced parents of pre-teens. There are some days that if I say the sky is blue, one or both of my children will tell me it's red. Please, please tell me what to do... pretend like I'm absolutely NEW TO PARENTING. It's pretty much driving me crazy.

I end up either

1. arguing and making both of us upset, or
2. agreeing with child, which makes both of us upset because they know they are wrong and therefore they know that I don't really mean they are right, or
3. trying not to say ANYTHING which is construed by them as me being angry

Case in point... Habtamu will argue with me about multiplication. I have told him many times that I will NEVER lie about 'what times what is what'. I know my times tables very well, and if he insists that 9x7 and 8x8 are the same, by golly, I'm going to challenge that. He will fight me tooth and nail and swear that 9x7 is 64, then realize his mistake, and get real quiet and write the correct answer down.

Yordanos is a literal minded youngster, and if I say it's 7:20... by golly, it had better say 7:20 on HER watch. Otherwise, I hear "No Mommy, it's 7:21. You not tell the truth." (eye twitch - mine)

Any advice to survive the onslaught of the "Mom and Dad don't know anything years" would be appreciated.


Arrrrr! Pirates!

Habtamu now wants a boat. He got to drive Uncle Bob's, and now he's hooked. He wondered why WE don't have a boat. I had to explain that when you buy a boat, it's not just the boat you have to buy. I told him that it's better to KNOW people with a boat. :)

The kids learned a new word: dinghy. My cousin Jeremy took his kids and my kids out in it on Lake Michigan. At one point the dinghy was going around in circles. I wondered what Jeremy was doing, then realized that Habtamu was driving. Oh. Got it.

I have to say, I love coming to Grand Haven (That's in MI, if you're not from around here). I'd come out here every week during the summer in my teenage years. I broke a toe on this pier. It just makes me happy to be near the big lake.

Vacation Time or Forced Family Fun?

Wellllllllllll, we have successfully finished our first real tour of my family in Michigan. We did a trial run back in February, visiting for one event, then high-tailing it out of there. This time we stayed several days at my Aunt and Uncle's. We lovingly call their house the Lap of Luxury, as it was rather like staying at the Hilton. The kids had a room and we had a room. Everyone had a TV in their room. Our kids got up at 6 a.m. every day to make use of said TV until I got up around 8. Ok, bad parent! But we were all on vacation and I make very little apology for taking the easy route... just this once.

We also got in local visits of 2 other sets of Aunts and Uncles. After a few days we went up to see my Dad, then took the Badger from Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI. Then, just a quick 3 more hours in the car... complete with "Are we there yet?" "How many more miles?!?!" "I have to PEE!" etc, etc, etc... And that was just me... ha ha.

Seriously, though, the kids did REALLY well, considering we were taking them hither and yon. I think it helped that we had a home base, and that the other people we visited were within a 30 minute drive. I know it helped me having a separate bedroom, because I really, really, cannot sleep with "people" in the room. Lee is ok... 11 years of marriage, and he's part of the bed, really. But I hear every snuffle, roll-over, cough, partial snore, etc., of "those other people who now live with us and it still seems strange sometimes like at 2 in the morning in a motel when I'm wondering what that noise it and realize there are children in the room."

I'm going to post this now, and I've got highlight pics of our trip to post later. I'll try. I know it's been too many days for some of you not to get your Gardner fix.

I'm sorry there was not Police involvement on this trip to make it more interesting, but there were Pirates!


What was that noise?

Oh! That was the other shoe dropping.

Got a new one today. "I hate you guys!" And it's not from the one you may think. Nope, it was my darling daughter, who, if she is not PMSing, I'll eat my hat.

She was really touchy all day. She got into trouble at a friend's house this afternoon. Aaaaaaaaand, it's been downhill since then. She finally lost it... I mean LOST it, when I told her I would not fix her hair for the walk she was going to take with Habtamu and Daddy. They'd already been waiting for her to put shoes on, put lotion on, look at herself in the mirror, etc, etc... So I told them to go on and she cried and carried on.

I told her not to leave the house, and out she went out the back door. I shooed her back in and she then went to the front door and opened it. I then told her her only choice was to go to her room. On the way up she informed me that

a. she's not going to ever eat dinner with us again, and
b. she hates us

Oh, and now she's banging on something upstairs and mumbling about injustice, etc... ad nauseum. I am not responding to any of that, because clearly she she is scared and worried and probably feeling guilty over her earlier indiscretion, and she's now ranting about how we don't like her and we're angry at her. She equates anger with dislike, and that makes a certain amount of sense in kid logic.


Hair Today and Possibly Tomorrow.

I met a nice woman at the grocery store. I've been asking people with hair like Yordanos' where they get their hair cut, and this lady had her daughter with her, and she had nice hair. Anyway, I asked who did her daughter's hair and hooray! She cuts hair. So we scheduled for a Friday afternoon for a hair cut. It would be Y's 1st cut here. (She wants to grow it out, so we just let it grow, AND I couldn't find a local place that did hair like hers.)

Jeanine, the beautician, took one look at her hair and said, "Oh, we'll have to straighten it first to cut it. Otherwise you can't tell what shape you're making." I realized that none of us would have time for that so we scheduled for a few days away.

In the car, I asked Y if she understood what Jeanine had said and why we couldn't get her hair cut today. "NO! You said she knew how to cut my hair! Why she not cut my hair?! You not tell the truth!" I had to assure and reassure Y that Yes, Jeanine DOES know how to cut your hair, but she has never SEEN your hair before, so she couldn't know that it needed to be straightened until she saw it. There was lots of harumphing from the backseat, and mumbling of "You not tell the truth." (I get that a lot, but in my defense, it is not my practice to lie to my children.)

I learned a lot on Tuesday. I had NO idea how complex it is to do "black" hair. In the end, it took 5 hours. (Thankfully, Habtamu was at a friend's house... from 9 to 4, as it turned out... thank you, Katherine!) 5 hours is apparently not a big deal for the regulars. Some ladies had brought sack lunches! We ended up having lunch at 3, before going to Beauty City to buy new combs and silk scarves for her hair.

Here's a layout of our day... 10 am to 3 pm.

Classic Bird's Nest. Thankfully, Jeanine said I'd been taking good care of her hair, so I didn't have to carry around that nagging doubt that I'm not doing it right. This is combed out before the shampoo.

Shampooing. I know from experience that this is not easy. She has SO MUCH HAIR that it takes forever to get the shampoo in AND out. We both agreed that having a hair washing station like this at home would be awesome.

The Deep Condition.
We tried to have fun, starting to realize that this was going to take longer than we thought... and also thanking God that Habtamu was not with us. I could barely hold MY act together.

I think it looks like I have a halo. Ha ha. I was pretty ok at this point, flipping through mags and still thinking that maybe we'd be done in time for a late lunch... like 1 p.m. That empty Tupperware container was our snack. Gone by 10:30 a.m., both of us claiming that the other had had the lion's share.

Rinsed out and waiting to dry. After rinsing the conditioner out, her hair was put into big braids and back she went under the dryer.

Flat Ironing. Next, section by section, her hair was flat ironed. I do mean small section by small section... this part took about 2 hours. Did I mention she has a lot of hair? As soon as she saw the first section straight at her face, she was riveted to her own image. Did I mention she was already riveted to her own image?

Beauty is not without pain. You can see her wince in the mirror.

Beauty. I knew she was pretty, but dang.

New Friends. It was fun hanging out with the ladies at the shop. We had a long time to hang out.

We spent all of the next day keeping her hair from getting wet, so she could have this hair for family pics Wednesday night. Mission accomplished.


Pics from Today

At one point today for about 2 hours, I had 6 kids (including mine) at my house. What do you do with all that energy? Send it outside of course! Oh, and photograph it... can't waste an overcast day!