How Hamilton is Actually a Parenting Self-Help Guide.

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Haven’t you always assumed that life would be more fun if it were a musical?

Me neither.

I never did understand how people could sing their lives in perfect rhythm and rhyme in real time – not to mention in harmony with their fellow life-livers.

However. Hamilton has changed my mind.

Due to the constant barraging of praise for Hamilton from those around me, I decided to give the soundtrack a listen on Spotify during a run. It was the most delightful thing my running ears had ever experienced – an engrossing storyline set to music that is both brilliant AND will make you run faster.

Since that inaugural, life-changing, interest-in-history-inspiring run, I have had no other songs in my head. I skipped an entire week of my Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist. I made Chris listen to Hamilton on his birthday (he’s now a fan), and I have experienced the best runs of the summer, all while living and dying with A dot Ham.

And as it has been my brain’s story-on-repeat, it has also made it into my parenting. And thus, I am finally living that musical I never wanted to, belting out lines full of passion at my children when opportune moments arise.

If you haven’t listened yet, I insist that you do so (but not with the kids in the car – who knew the founding fathers had foul mouths and sketchy girlfriends? A Beka didn’t teach us that.)  And, once you’ve listened, here is my compilation of the lines best sung to your offspring, along with some suggested opportunities for their use…

 

“Moooom! Why do I have to clean my room??”

Because you’re Half-dead sittin’ in your own sick, the scent thick…

“But I can’t!! It’s too messy! Can you help me??”

The ten-dollar founding father without a father
Got a lot farther by working a lot harder
By being a lot smarter
By being a self-starter!

“Hey Mommy can I have a snack I don’t like this shirt I need a new pillow will you buy me some candy but I don’t WANT to go to the store when are you making dinner?”

While we’re talking, let me offer you some free advice.
Talk less, Smile More.

“Hey Mommy I told Daddy about your secret chocolates…”

Fools who run their mouths off wind up dead…

“Moooooom! She hit me with her light saber!”

Chaos and bloodshed are NOT a solution!

“Give it to me right now!”
“No! It was mine first!!”
”Uh uh! I found it!!”

I am about to send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love!
Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da!

When you see that kid toying with doing exactly what you just told them not to do…

You keep out of trouble and you double your choices!

When the children are ignoring you at record levels, just belt out at your highest volume…

The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish
I gotta holler just to be heard
With every word, I drop knowledge!

Every night in bed with your spouse, talking about the children….

We are outgunned!
Outmanned!
Outnumbered, outplanned!

When you tell the kid to go do a chore and they try to distract you with a giant hug…

And no, don’t change the subject,
Cuz you’re my favorite subject,
My sweet, submissive subject!

When all the kids are asking for something different at once…

I cannot be everywhere at once, people –
I’m in dire need of assistance!

Texting the babysitter…

We are a powder keg about to explode
I need someone like you to lighten the load. So?

“But Mom!! She started it!”

Love doesn’t discriminate,
Between the sinners and the saints…

“But why am I getting punished, too?”

Death doesn’t discriminate,
Between the sinners and the saints…

When you catch the kid red-handed…

The challenge: demand satisfaction
If they apologize, no need for further action…

When the kid spills apple juice on your MacBook….

Pick a place to die where it’s high and dry!

When you get that text that the husband is on the way home…

No one has more resilience,
Or matches my practical tactical brilliance!

“But Mom! She tattled on me!!”

You have no control:
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story!

When they get their own apartment and then ask for money…

What comes next?
You’ve been freed
Do you know how hard it is to lead?
You’re on your own
Awesome. Wow!
Do you have a clue what happens now?
Oceans rise,
Empires fall,
It’s much harder when it’s all your call!

When you try to give them a kiss and they squeal and wipe it off…

You say our love is draining and you can’t go on
You’ll be the one complaining when I am gone…

You use this line every day. Obviously.

Ev’ry day you fight like it’s
Going out of style!

When the kids come home totally spoiled due to the The Grandparent Effect.

It must be nice, it must be nice to have
Gramamma on your side…
It must be nice, it must be nice to have
Gramamma on your side…

When the charming, adorable, endlessly endearing (to everyone but you) two-year-old has finally pitched the last fit you can handle…and it’s only 9:08 on a Monday morning…

Somebody gimme some dirt on this vacuous mass so we can at last unmask him!

When you hide under the covers in your bed so your kids can’t find you…

I’m erasing myself from the narrative!

When you find out the hard way that Daddy let the kids have loads of candy right before bed…

I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true –
Your father’s a scoundrel, and so, it seems, are you!

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

R dot Call

The Highs and Lows of Camp.

In June, I planned my first ever Week Off Since Becoming a Mom. Or at least, five days straight of 9am-4pm Vacation.

Noah is finally old enough to go to our church’s fantabulous multiple award-winning summer day camp (where every week has a different theme and it’s complete kid wonderland and I’m a little jealous every morning when I drop them off), and therefore, I was going to have a week of bliss.  Or more likely, a week of work and catching up on all the life that a million Hey Mommys a day keep me from getting done. Still blissful.

But then I got sick halfway through the week. And I spent an entire day chasing down x-rays. And just like that, multiple days of my First Week Off were robbed from me.

But Noah had such a good week at camp. Like really – it had some sort of magical effect on him. He’s introverted and too shy/embarrassed to do ANYTHING in large groups. To the point that he adamantly refuses to participate in Sunday School in any way. March around the walls of Jericho? No thanks. Pretend to walk on water? Not gonna happen. And he’s so introvert-fried after church that he won’t speak to anyone.

Based on proportions, I assumed that camp would leave him unable to speak for hours – after all, his slightly-less introverted big sister had always needed recovery time after camp. There’s a lot of kids and a lot of activities.

But no.

Every day, Noah got in the car bouncing off the ceiling and telling me about all the glory of camp.

And then, on Thursday of that week, he won Camper of the Day – for being wise and participating.

AND THEN, on Friday of that week, he won Camper of the Week(!!) – for being wise and participating.

I was so stunned in this sudden U-Turn in my son’s personality that I began reassessing my school choices for him.

Would he do better in a classroom? Or would a classroom be like Sunday School? What sort of magical spells does camp use to turn my son into a bubbly, agreeable, participating model student? Could I hire his camp counselors to teach him to read? And algebra?

Because he did so fantastic and my First Week Off got snatched from me, I decided to give them another week of camp later in the summer. I was due to try again for my vacation – ahem, I mean – to let my children have another glorious week of camp.

On their first week, the theme had been Build Camp – specialized around Minecraft and Lego, something my children are amply knowledgeable about. Ali dressed up as Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie, borrowing all the components of my previous Wyldstyle costumes and blowing me out of the water at how much better she was at the Wyldstyle attitude than I.

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She won the costume contest, obviously.

Noah didn’t dress up that week because he didn’t want to go on stage. Participation has its limits, after all. But he was determined that he wanted to attempt this superior level of camp on the second week.

(And also we told him we wouldn’t buy him the costume he wanted unless he promised to go on stage. So there’s that.)

The second week we chose for them was Jedi Camp. They are not as knowledgeable about all things Star Wars – Chris had begun their Star Wars education earlier in the year, but hadn’t gotten very far yet. But he was determined to teach them everything they knew before camp began, so he combined the strategies of watching another movie and giving them cliff notes on everything they hadn’t gotten to yet.

“I had to tell them. I couldn’t let them go to Jedi camp not knowing that Anakin is Darth Vader.”

“Of course, honey.”

I didn’t care what he told them – I was just thrilled to retry an attempt at having my First Ever Whole Week Off Since Becoming a Mom.

I had caught up on a lot of work the last attempt, but this week filled up more with meetings and lunches and runs, but I had one Very Special Day planned. It would be Wednesday. It would be all day, requiring the use of an early and late camp pass for the kids.

I would be taking an epic adventure. It was to a stunning cave in North Alabama with unbelievable vistas that I was dying to photograph and explore. I recruited a couple of friends – Amanda the Frog Kisser and Not-Crazy Renee – even requiring that Renee get all day childcare. There would be no children getting lost in our caving adventures.

On Tuesday night, the kids were happily scrambling to make the last preparations to their costumes – Ali would be an unnamed but quite stylish Jedi, and Noah would become Darth Vader. I, meanwhile, was scrambling to complete my Epic Adventure Plan Details. They were hyper and giddy, I was happy and giddy.

We put them to bed early, as is the requirement to have enough energy during camp week. Everyone was fine. Everyone was happy.

Until 10pm, when Noah woke up crying. Chris and I looked at each other oddly. Our kids used to be wake-up-during-the-nighters, but it had been at least a year since that had happened. Chris hopped up the stairs and I listened as Noah’s wailing tale of woe drifted down the stairs.

“I had a bad dream about camp and Minecraft and Lincoln Logs!!!”

Chris calmed him and put him back to bed and came downstairs.

But then at 10:30, I heard the toilet flush. Which meant Noah hadn’t gone back to sleep.

This was when I began to suspect something else was afoot. Because Noah doesn’t sleep when he gets a fever. And I fretted.

I snuck into his room. And found that sneaking was not necessary as the kid was still wide awake. And emanating heat.

He rolled over and began talking maniacally. “I almost cried when I went to the bathroom because my neck hurt and it hurts to swallow. Hey Mommy, can you still think when you die?”

There’s not much more unsettling than your kid popping out with a death question when they’re running a 102 degree fever.

I gave Noah Tylenol, got him as comfortable as possible, and then texted my friends.

“I think Noah’s sick. I’m so so sorry. I will have to cancel our caving plans.”

Indeed. He woke up the next morning still feverish, and with every sign of strep throat. I broke the news to him as I was cuddling with him.

“Hey buddy. You’re sick. You’re not going to be able to go to camp today.”

His face crumpled into devastation. He began crying. Then he suddenly quit crying and said “I don’t think I feel like going anyway.”

We dropped Ali off at camp and then headed to the Pediatrician’s office.

“Well. It’s either Viral or Bacterial. I’m guessing viral.”

I really should have bet him money because I knew his guess was wrong. It was SO strep.

He left the room, came back, and said, ‘’Well how about that. It is strep!”

We received our shot and went home to spend the day binging cartoons.

Noah got off the couch after a couple of hours of quality Slugterra watching and asked to put on his Darth Vader costume and go outside for a minute.

And he just stood.

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And sat.

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And loped around in full-on Depressed Darthness.

It might’ve been the saddest thing I had ever seen.

Good mom that I am, I photographed and posted his sadness on Facebook. Because it was adorable sadness, after all.

And because of that, that Wizard of Camp himself, Camp Director Jonathan, saw the pictures. And when Noah and I went to pick up Ali, Noah 120% asleep in the backseat…

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Ali whispered to me, “Noah won.”

I whispered back. “Won what?”

“He won Best Costume on a Sick Kid. I have the medal for him.”

“That’s awesome!”

But she didn’t tell him when he woke up. She waited until we got home, where she found a gift bag and tissue paper and wrapped his medal for him into a glorious package. She brought it out on the porch for him to open.

And Depressed Darth was no more.

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Happy-Darth

He was healed right then. It might’ve been the giant shot in his leg earlier that day, but it was probably the medal.

Later that night, I told Chris, “I think we were tricked. Noah didn’t want to go up on stage, so he licked some kid with strep, then didn’t have to go on stage, still got his Darth costume, and WON. If he’d have actually gone to camp, he would’ve never won. Did you see the pictures? Did you see how many identical Darths there were? We’ve been PLAYED.”

Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.

The world will never know.

And as for me, I will try again next summer for my First Whole Week Off Since Becoming a Mom.

How PokemonGo Will Make Your Momming Better.

As I purposefully shy away from trends and adamantly avoid hopping on bandwagons, I was ripe to avoid PokemonGo completely.

But I saw potential. Potential for entertained kids and interesting hikes.

I mean, I’m pretty dang good at making hikes interesting. Sometimes we even find abandoned boobs! But despite how AMAZING I am, and despite the fact that they (almost) always enjoy it, my kids still whine and groan every time I say we’re going on a hike or a walk.

Sure it’s July in Alabama and 456 degrees outside. But still. Exercise makes Mommy feel better, kids. Get on board.

So. PokemonGo.

I downloaded the free app Monday morning. Noah was already downstairs but Ali had yet to emerge from her room. I told Noah, “Oh look! There’s a Pokemon in our front yard! Let’s go out and catch it.”

We ran outside and sure enough, there on my phone screen, we could see the front yard and a Pokemon sitting in it.

I hadn’t read any directions or helpful posts about how to catch Pokemon yet, so we failed miserably on our first hunt. Noah lost interest and wandered away to complain about breakfast options, and I sat down to read a Wiki.

OOOOHH….you swipe quickly with your finger. I can do this.

So I gathered Noah again and we went outside and caught ourselves a Pokemon.

After breakfast, I told the kids.

“We’re going on a Pokemon Hunt. Get your shoes on.”

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Noah was thrilled, but Ali was skeptical. Usually my less whiny child, she had a problem with everything on this stroll. It was hot. It smelled bad outside. Where were the Pokemon? How long would this walk take?

Until.

We found our first Pokemon.

And she was the one who caught it.

Then it became the best walk we’d ever taken.

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There were none on our street, but Not-Crazy-Renee’s street was teeming with them.

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In fact, they seemed congregated around her house – perhaps they were attracted to her snake.

We came, we caught, and Noah even wore a couple Pokemon.

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And it really was the most delightful neighborhood walk we’d ever taken.

Ali, Now PokemonGo’s biggest fan, began naming all the places she wanted to go hunt.

I bet Oak Mountain has 223 Pokemon! Oh! And Aldridge Gardens! There are plenty of places to look there. And Pop and Gramamma’s house. We could find all kinds of Pokemon in their woods!

We decided on Gramamma’s house. It would be a family service, after all, to help her with her Pokemon Infestation.

So we drove out and took Gramamma on a hike, teaching her about the game as we traversed.

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See, you keep the app on your home screen, and it knows where you are, and you can click on the bottom right corner to see how close you’re getting to a Pokemon, and then when one shows up, you see it on the screen in the real world, and you’ve got to throw the ball at it to capture it.

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We found the ever-frightening Zubat,

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Ali slapped a Nidoran,

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Gramamma got viciously attacked by the butt end of a Slowpoke,

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And Shadow went after,

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And then carried away, a Charmander.

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We even checked the bridge – just to make sure it wasn’t covered in the monsters, you know.

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While on the hike, we found real, live, actual cool things as well, thereby making it totally educational.

Colorful spiders,

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Mushrooms,

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And the ever-charismatic Lady of the Corn.

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Anyone want to steal a veggie or two from her?

In total, we found another dozen or so at my parent’s house, therefore saving their property from the perils of loose Pokemon.

On the way home, we saw a PokeSpot and a PokeGym on the map, so we pulled off to get special rewards.

And, in the process, discovered the Alabama Veteran’s War Memorial.

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And our PokemonGo experience became even more educational.

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We talked about all the names and what they meant…

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And why no, we could not take any of the flags. Geez kids.

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And of course, when Chris got home, the first thing the kids wanted to do was go on a walk – to teach him how to play.

And so. In our first day’s journey of Pokemon catching, we:

– Hiked/walked a total of 5 miles four different places without a SINGLE KID COMPLAINT (at least after the first Pokemon was bagged.)

– Made it to Level 6 and joined Team Valor.

– Saw all kinds of actual nature (including a rabbit, too fast to be pictured.)

– Visited and learned about the Alabama War Memorial.

– Caught 53 Pokemon on my phone – I don’t know how many Chris caught.

– Took turns catching said Pokemon and cheered ridiculously loudly for each other when a successful catch was made.

– Ran my phone battery down four times. External chargers are a nice asset for heavy Pokemon hunting.

– Only tripped while staring at the phone screen a couple times. Each.

– And one fantastic diary entry was created via Ali, an entry that should be able to help if you’re still unsure how to play.

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Well, you get the picture.

You’re welcome, Moms of the world. Your summer just got exceedingly better.

Love,

Rachel