Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Puppy Trap

One moment of weakness and now I have a dog for twelve to fifteen years. I forgot how much work puppies are. We already have one dog, a Tibetan spaniel named Buster Brown. He is cute and basically a good dog but he caused quite a bit of damage to our house, namely to the rugs, floor and furniture. He runs away whenever he can and barks at us if we dare put him in his crate. At five years old, he has mellowed out and uses stealth tactics to accumulate privileges like sleeping in the kids’ beds and getting up on the furniture.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a photo of her adorable new puppy. I commented on the cuteness. She sent me a text saying the breeder had a brother still left in the litter. I fell into the puppy trap and the next day we had a puppy. Not planned, not thought through, and honestly not a good idea. Puppies are naughty but get away with a lot because they are so irresistible. Our puppy Chewbacca (Chewie) is energetic, funny and brings immense joy. But Chewie is a destroying machine, like none I’ve come across.

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He needs to be cleaned coming out of his soiled crate. He wants to play wildly. He chews up the puppy pad he is supposed to go to the bathroom on. He devours his little breakfast and races to Buster Brown’s bowl to steal his. He chews our rugs, table legs, shoes and socks. Every time I turn around the puppy is licking the wall. He barks at us. He runs at full speed and pounces on Buster over and over.

It’s puppy mayhem, puppy pandemonium and puppy destruction of property. My kids feel the puppy has a right to be wild. My little girl Natalie assures me, “Puppies don’t have too many rights because they are not humans. But they have the right to be wild. That’s what my teacher said.” I look at her. “Your teacher did not say that. No teacher would ever say that puppies have the right to be wild.”

Ethan walks over. “Mom have you ever heard of animal rights groups? They are just kind of everywhere. I think you might want to read up…” Christian nods like he has a point.

I have no response for this.

My daughter Olivia comes in the kitchen and announces, “people start to resemble their dogs over time. It’s a fact. I saw it on the internet.” I say, “Thank goodness Chewie is so cute, it should be against the law.” She rolls her eyes at me. “How could being cute break any laws? Really mom? I’m just saying we should get him groomed a lot, just in case. Look at this picture of a Lhasa Apso with long hair. I can’t look like this! Please get on this.” I find myself nodding. The Lhasa Apso with hair all the way to the ground and a pony tail on its head is not a look anyone in my family could embrace.

I’m cleaning up yet another accident and I say to my son Ethan, “See what happens when you have a momentary lapse in judgment and give into temptation. Don’t do it.” He looks at me and says, “Wait a minute! Let me see if I have this straight. You’re saying if I can’t resist doing something, I’m going to end up with the cutest puppy ever? Good talk mom…”

I say, “That’s not what I meant” but somehow I can’t explain what I really meant. Do I deeply regret getting this puppy? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

I never wanted a dog in a thought-out kind of way. No one has ever called a dog ‘mom’s best friend’.  A mom’s best friend may be a number of things depending on the mom. The best friend could be another mom, her husband, her sister, her child or a wine bottle after a hard day. It’s never a puppy. Because puppies wreck things with exuberance and rarely have remorse for chewing my shoes or sensing which rug is my favorite, only to ruin it. My daughter Natalie told me to pee on my favorite things and then clean them up with ‘puppy no’ spray. I would be marking my territory and the puppy would go somewhere else. She was sure she had seen that tip in an on-line training manual.

So for now, I am riding solo on the training committee. I will tell Chewie to stop being so wild. I will potty train him without using any human urine to mark territories. I will not give him the haircut I want so we look alike. He can have his own unique look. I will hold him and play with him when no one is home so no one thinks I’m soft on the puppy.

As the holidays approach, do something crazy. Get a puppy. You’ll regret it almost as much as you’ll be glad you did it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Disney Training For the DMV

Written by Eileen Wacker

Yesterday I took my son to get his driving permit at the DMV. There was no school for him due to a teacher development day. The other three still had school so I was up by 6:00 to make breakfast and drive them. My kids are never all in school for five days in a given week. Days off for kids = work for a tired mom as my day becomes filled with randomness. Schedules are security blankets for moms.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

I wanted to get to the DMV as it opened. Going to the DMV is a mom chore. I don’t want to go. It’s the opposite of a happy place. It’s filled with scowling people who torment moms who like things fast, efficient, and friendly. As a mom, I prefer people who smile big and welcome me with extra chirpy voices. That’s why I love Disney. Disney workers are my definition of cheerful. Although I admit I yelled at my kids in the happiest place on the planet. They were acting horrible—fighting and begging to buy big souvenirs that I had to lug around the entire park. And all the giant items ended up lost or thrown away within a week.

If I can become impatient in Disneyland, I knew the DMV posed a serious challenge to keep any good mood going.

Watching my teenage son put on his socks was painful. And tying his sneakers in slow motion was worse. I had to leave the room. As we were driving, my son confessed that he has not studied the manual. He insisted since he listened in the Drivers Ed class, he should be fine. “It’s all common sense anyway. That’s what Colin told me,” he said confidently. I said, “This is an example of being lulled into the dummie circle.” The dummie circle is when kids reinforce each other’s teenage notions, which we adults can plainly see are not going to work out for them.

When we arrived, we were told that one of our forms is a copy and not accepted. I showed how we have everything the website indicated we needed and brought his new passport as back up. I pointed to the sign on the wall that lists the accepted ID forms. The DMV employee said the sign was old and I needed another form. She did not accept his passport as proof of identity because he is not eighteen. I tried to use humor so she’d like me and I wouldn’t have to go all the way home for an additional form. I said, “We just got this passport and you are all the same government, just different departments. How can the passport not be a form of ID? Passports are the ultimate form of ID.” I didn’t make a new friend. I think the DMV training program includes instructions on how to transition from scowling to displaying apathy and back.

We went home to retrieve the form and headed back. The same employee played her role as a mom tormentor, inspecting every form again and called her supervisor over to inspect them as well. After four hours of waiting in four different lines, my son failed the test. I snapped at him, “Now I have to come back here. I don’t have time for this. If you don’t do well in school, this might be where you end up!” As the words flew out, I regretted them. They sounded snobby. He looked at me, “Mom, I’m just saying, there are some positive things about working here. There doesn’t appear to be a dress code. I hate dress codes. And the people don’t seem to work too hard.” I kept my mouth shut, liking the person he is.

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He wasn’t really upset about not passing, either. He said, “I just need to get five more right next time. Hey, can Colin come over and shoot some hoops?” Since Colin’s mom was at work this means I’m picking up and dropping off and making or buying lunch. I said yes because that’s how we’re wired as moms. Saying no and having him sit on his Xbox all day is definitely a worse option. As we got out of the car, he said with a smile, “Thanks mom. That was fun hanging out with you.” And there it was; he gave me my Disney moment.

This morning, I woke up to randomly strewn eyelashes all over my pillow. I pulled out the eyelashes that I paid to put on. I didn’t deliberately do it and I only pulled them off of one eye. It’s how I know the stress is getting big. My little girl came into my room and said, “Mom, I think I should stay home today and play with the puppy. I need to train him. You can have a day off from taking care of Chewie. Wait, what happened to your eyes? Your face doesn’t match.”

I hugged her and said, “Today you go to school. Next Wednesday is Veteran’s Day and there is no school. Another four day week. I’m sure we’ll think of some fun stuff to do. Meanwhile give me five minutes to make my face match.” Then, I started the day pulling the rest of the eyelashes out. This is why I need a little more Disney in my days.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is the Truth Over-rated?

Written by Eileen Wacker

As parents, my husband and I have always insisted that telling the truth is critical. It is one of our most important rules. No lying. Lying is a sure way to get your phone taken away or earn some other dreaded consequence. But now that my four kids are teens and tweens, I want them to stop telling ‘their truths’ sometimes. Keep things in a thought bubble instead.

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Last night, we decided to go to a local restaurant for dinner. I quickly changed into a casual sundress. My oldest daughter, Olivia, asked, “Are you going to wear that?” I almost responded, “No, I just put this on for fun. I’m going back into my closet and put on the outfit I’m really going to wear. This is my trial outfit.” This would only earn me a remark like, “Did you really say ‘outfit’? Really Mom? No one says that. Not one person.” Then I would be a dinosaur in a lame dress. She was not neutralized by my silence. She went on. “Ethan, do you see what mom is wearing? She’s wearing the nightgown again.”

I protested, “This is a sundress. It’s not a nightgown.” They ignored me and tween Ethan chimed in, “Yah. And she’s wearing the nightgown with a blanket.” I’m insulted. “It is not a blanket! It’s a sweater.” They start laughing. “Mom, sorry but you’re wearing a nightgown with a sweater blanket.”

In the restaurant, my tween daughter, Natalie grabbed my hand and looked at me earnestly. “Mom, your hair is about eight different colors. You need to fix it.” I took my hand back before she could see my bitten cuticles. I ordered a glass of wine. My teen daughter Olivia said, “You’re going to end up in jail if you drink that and that would be so embarrassing for me. Plus, I need a ride to Jen’s party this weekend.”

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

Then my teen son Christian said, “No offense but…” I cut off his sentence because I don’t want to hear the rest of it. Inevitably what’s coming next is something negative. He had already said, “I’m just saying…” after making the observation, “That dress makes you look a little big.” I yelled at him for using poor grammar (‘little big’ is not a phrase) and made a mental note to never wear this dress again.

I don’t take it personally. Anyone can be the subject of their ‘observations’. My husband and I went to Napa for our anniversary. My parents came out and stayed with the kids. Everyone allegedly had an amazing time while we were gone.

But last night during the dinner, Natalie said, “to be honest, I think Grampy has to work on a few things.”

Ethan agreed, “Grampy is really fun and we love him but he breaks promises. You need to tell him we can see PG 13 movies. He promised to take us to the movies and then we didn’t go.”

Natalie said, “That would make him the oldest liar in the world and I don’t think he wants to be that.” Wow, tough crowd. She nonchalantly bit her mozzarella stick as I winced under her truth. Because she’s right. My dad would never, ever want to be thought of as the oldest liar in the world.

No one is safe from teens’ and tweens’ observations. They had a conversation about two iconic figures. Their opinion was Justin Timberlake is old and they had never heard of Clint Eastwood. The only connection they made is that both have trees as part of their names. And they thought this was hilarious.

Why do they tell the truth about my mommy flaws? They are constantly evasive about their own situations. I asked if anyone was sneaking electronics into his or her bed. I asked my son if he followed up with a teacher over a bad grade to see what can be done. I asked my other son how he ended up at a night beach party. “I don’t know what happened. We just ended up there.” I asked, “So you blinked your eyes and all of a sudden there was sand under your feet.” Blank looks were the response to all my queries. My sweater blanket had become a wet blanket.

Then it dawned on me. They tell the truth about my mommy flaws because they love me. This is their teenage way of teasing me, of trying to be funny. They are including me. I’m in the circle. And we are laughing and hanging out as a family.

Driving home, there was a fight over a song on the radio. I felt like my head might explode. I called Olivia a pill. She countered, “Did you hear what mom said?” Of course everyone heard what I said. We are all sitting together in the car. That’s the set up line. Because the follow up was, “Mom said I‘m acting like a pill! Hah! A pill! As if a pill acts like anything!” Then they all laughed so hard I thought we might drive off the road. I laughed too, treasuring this as a fun and memorable night.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Humans Are Lucky

Written by Eileen Wacker

Today like every day, I wake up and think, “I’m lucky. I’m happy. I’m not going to get mad at my husband, my four kids or our two dogs Buster Brown and Chewbacca (“Chewie”). But usually I’m fighting the urge to yell before breakfast is over. The morning routine never gets easier. I try to run a full inspection of clean teeth, hair and clothes, a dose of sunscreen, a refreshed water bottle, completed homework, and shoes. My son states, “I don’t have PE so I don’t need any shoes today.” I sigh, “Well, we’re shoe people. Get your sneakers!” Next, my daughter shows me video evidence of the puppy eating half of her homework. I jot a quick note to the teacher on the shredded sheet and tell my little girl to hand it in.  I wonder why she filmed it all happening without stopping it. I can hear her chuckling in the background of the video.

As I walk out in my exercise clothes, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I have not yelled at anyone. I’m not squinting my eyes in a menacing way either. Two kids have the right clothes and gear for the tennis tryouts after school. As I’m dropping three of the kids, my daughter looks up from her phone and announces, “I wish they had school buses in Hawaii so I could ride with my friends and not a bunch of losers!” My eye twitches.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

I just spent an hour in traffic to drive eight miles to the school. In our family of six, we have more electronics than the FBI. All eyeballs and thumbs have been on their devices the whole ride. I don’t know where the loser comment is coming from. Since my kids consider all their content to be strictly classified and highly confidential, I pass on asking. Instead I wink at her and say, “Have a nice day, happiness hijacker.” She rolls her eyes, smiles and says, “I was just kidding. You too.”

After drop off, I squeeze in a hike. I love the views in Hawaii and they help me put things into perspective. Time slows down for that small window and I feel grateful. Then I’m ready to solve a million small issues thrown in my path. As a working mom, I’m in constant motion and always tired by the time I start the afternoon pick-ups.

Today, when I pick my son up from school, he asks, “Mom do you know how lucky we are? If we were predators we would have to run after our food to catch it every day. That would be very tiring. My friends and I think that the adults would get sick of chasing the fast running grown-ups and start to eat the unguarded babies. Would you do that? Also, imagine if there were lions at our school and we had to run our very fastest to class so we would not get eaten? We are so lucky to be humans. I like today.”

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I start to laugh. I’m energized. As I cook three different dinners on the stove for my particular eaters who need their food prepared in specific ways, I just smile, appreciating I did not have to catch it. Then I notice that there are no tigers in any closets waiting to take me out as I put the last bits of laundry away. I leave the day, despite all the machinations and challenges, with the same basic sentiments I started with. “I am happy that I don’t have to catch my food. I’m lucky to be a human. And, I’m not mad at anyone.”

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Halloween Costume Ideas for 2015

Written by Eileen Wacker

Trick-or-treating and Halloween weekend parties are almost here. So is the chance for every child (and many adults) to be whoever he/she wants to be for an evening. They may look up to an idol or love to make a political statement in a funny way. Here’s my list of Halloween costumes based in the biggest trends out there:

Donald Trump for president. Mr. “I want to make America great again”

The comb-over will rule on Halloween night. Even little kids will want to go out on Halloween as a billionaire mogul. has great costumes such as a "Mr. CEO Election Wig." Another: has an "Adult Billionaire Wig". Watch for a Hillary Clinton Vacuform mask too. 

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Running around on Halloween night will be as many minions as they were in the movie. Easy costumes and fun. And it doesn’t matter if everyone else is wearing the same costume. An army of minions is perfect. Anticipate Minions in overalls. Minions in dresses with overalls. Minion goggles, Minion legwarmers and Minion gloves. Minions. 

Inside Out - Disney
This Disney movie was one of the most successful movies of the year. Expect to see the emotive characters such as sparkling blue Joy, scowling green Disgust, and boiling red Anger. We're thinking a pinch or two of glitter makeup wouldn't hurt.

Back to the Future inspired
Embrace your inner Marty McFly. He wore light up sneakers, a sure hit with any child. Oct. 21, 2015 is Back to the Future Day, the exact date that Emmett "Doc" Brown and Marty McFly traveled to in what was then considered "the future." Kids will also love the hoverboard accessories or a Doc Brown wigs. Other hot trends are hoverboards and time machine tinkerers. 

Jurassic World(s)
"Jurassic World" raked it in at the box office, which pretty much guarantees an entry for Halloween 2015. Little boys will rush to be a t-rex whether they saw the movie or not. Boys as dinosaurs is timeless! For older Halloween celebrators, has a tall, inflatable "Jurassic World" T. rex costume with a fan inside — the wearer peers out from the dinosaur's neck — while suggests a tribute to the Chris Pratt "Pratting" who kept his pet raptors from attacking in the movie. 

Caitlyn Jenner ... and not Caitlyn Jenner
In recognition of one of the major moments of the year, some costume sellers, like Spirit Halloween, have opted to go with the much-talked-about Caitlyn Jenner look, modeled after Jenner's bombshell Vanity Fair cover. For our younger trick or treaters, wearing rainbow colors has been a sign of support modeled after FB rainbow campaign.

Left Shark
The standout of the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show was not Katy Perry! It was the dare I say clumsy backup dancer dressed as a shark. Left Shark has become pulp fiction, a rock star and one of the year’s best costumes.  It is an easy to wear costume. For little kids, it is conveniently pulled over the child’s clothes.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Turtle power is alive and kicking! The cool, shelled heroes were a big deal last year, and they're still going strong. Spirit Halloween has a whole in-store shrine to all things turtle power. Whether you're partial to Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello or Raphael, there will be lots of turtles roaming around.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

TV costumes
If you chant "shame!" loud enough, someone will walk the "penance walk," and is suggesting that it would also make a good costume for two (one person can be Cersei, and the other the "shame!" nun.)

Frozen not only reigned supreme it was the only game in town for many little girls wanting to be like Ilsa. Another show from the Disney Channel movie is "Descendants," a film starring characters who are the sons or daughters of classic Disney villains and heroes. Costumes modeled after the Mal character, who is the daughter of Maleficent, are flying off the shelf.

Star Wars
The debut of "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" is still all the way in December, but the force is strong with this one. There's been an explosion of "Star Wars" attire tagged to the movie, for both adults and children and Halloween is the perfect excuse to buy it. Adults would love to see their children donning the Star Wars attire, letting them live the good old days again.

Superheroes and villains
Superheroes and villains remain the go-to category for Halloween, and "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" give us Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow and more to choose from. There's also Ant-Man, whose suit is his superpower. If you are super current, the harlequin Batman villain who can be seen in the upcoming "Suicide Squad" movie could be a sleeper. 

Social Media inspired pairings
If you were on social media in 2015, there's a good chance you know the next few.
Pizza Rat is a little rodent (ugh) who was captured on video dragging his slice of pizza down the subway stairs in New York. In recognition of this true occurrence, you can get yourself a rat costume and a slice, or convince someone else to be a pizza slice and making it a pairing.
If you have a contemporary sense of humor, we might have an idea for you. "Netflix and chill" is more of a teenage trending costume. The saying has gone viral with a person stating he/she is just going to watch a movie or TV and proceeding to do something else with the watching partner. Perfect for a pair - one is Netflix and the other "chill."