A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life

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‘Teenage Safety’ Doesn’t Have to Be an Oxymoron

Today, my boys — and countless other kids — headed back to school. While I’m sure the Xbox will miss them terribly, it’s definitely time for them to re-engage their brains with something more taxing than figuring out whose turn it is to “kick some butt” at Madden15.

Yep, definitely time to get back to language arts and improving vocabulary.

But if the photo of them I took getting ready to head to the school bus is any indication, vocabulary is the least of our worries:

Did you wash your hands before you started annoying your brother?

Did you wash your hands before you started annoying your brother?

Our real worry might be that we need to reinforce what it means to behave in such a way that they come home safely each day. And by safely, I mean 1) in one piece, 2) with no notices from teachers of inappropriate behavior, 3) with no “where is your child’s homework?” messages, 3) as germ-free as possible, and 4) having not generated a call to me or their dad from anyone with the word ‘principal’, ‘counselor’, ‘police’, or ‘officer’ as part of a job title.

My young teenage boys tend to block out my voice — especially when the words “clean up”, “pick up”, “stop that”, “knock it off”, and “I better not have to tell you again” are used. But, I decided to review some important safety messages with them for the start of the school year anyway.

When it comes to…

  • Cell phone safety: You do not need your cell phone with you to function effectively as a 7th or 8th grader in middle school.
    • Yes, I know that your friends Jacob, Owen, Jake, Brett A, Brett B, Ben, Nick, Ty, and every other kid in your class gets to bring their cell phone to school because their parents are cool and I suck. But I need you to focus on school work when you are at school — not Snapchatting, Instagramming, Facebooking, and/or Tweeting.
    • Nice try, but you won’t need the calculator on your cell phone, because I forked out $25 for a scientific calculator for you to use in Algebra.
    • And you won’t need your cell phone to reach me in case of emergency. There is a phone in the principal’s office and the school bus drivers all have a cell phone. Besides, if I get a call from the principal’s office, it better be because you’re sick, or you’ve broken your leg, or you’ve just won the Nobel prize. You feelin’ me?
  • Food safety: You need energy, and food is your fuel. At lunch, food is for eating and will provide the fuel you need to be alert and stay focused in the afternoon. And just to be clear, food is not for:
    • throwing: the last thing I need is for you to use your PB&J sandwich as a projectile that accidentally lands on the nut-free table, jeopardizing any classmate with an allergy.
    • smashing: if you make a mess, you will be cleaning it, not the janitor. Same rules apply at home: substitute ‘your mom’ for ‘the janitor’.
    • trading: eat what ya brung (or in my kids’ cases – what ya bought).
    • taking pictures of and posting to social media: see cell phone safety above.
    • experimenting with: gross. Just gross.
    • teasing people with: see cell phone safety above with regard to phone calls from principals and/or counselors.
  • Germ safety: You are no longer a toddler shoving everything not nailed down into your mouth (with the exception of cheeseburgers and fries). This means your (most likely dirty) hands should be not touching everything within your ever-widening wing span. Here are some good rules for keeping germs where they belong, which — to be clear — is Not. On/In. You.
    • Those dispensers of soap in the bathroom: USE THEM.
    • Those dispensers of hand sanitizer located throughout the school: USE THEM.
    • Those boxes of tissues we send in at the request of your teachers: USE THEM.
    • Wet willies and spit balls: No. JUST NO.
    • Crayons, markers, and other writing instruments: OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. You never know who else has been gnawing on them, what’s at the bottom of the bookbag where they have been residing, or — heaven help us! — what they are made of.
    • Handling someone else’s cell phone: No. JUST NO.
    • Sharing drinks at lunch: No. JUST NO.
    • Coughing into the sleeve of your shirt and not into the face of your friend(s): YES! ALWAYS YES!

Have a safe school year boys. This will be great practice, because wait until you see the safety rules I’m working on for your next Summer vacation.

Ready for 7th grade -- and two thumbs up for moms safety rules.

Ready for 7th grade — and two thumbs up for moms safety rules.

Ready for 8th grade, but bummed their is no advanced course in Madden 15.

Ready for 8th grade, but bummed there is no elective for Advanced Madden15.

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From Now On, We’ll Use the Proper Slang

This Summer, my parents paid for a vacation for my siblings and our families. While it wasn’t exactly the beachy vacation of our dreams, it was great for all 16 of us to be together.

And 6 days was just enough time to enjoy each other’s company before we began to question parenting skills, spousal choices, and various personality quirks. There are only so many ‘party of 16’ dinners in a row that sane people kin can stand before the whole damn experience is ruined by way too much togetherness.

The kids had a great time on multiple afternoons at the pool. They enjoyed the slide and I was in the pool to capture video with my new iPhone6.

I was trying out the new slo-mo feature for the first time and caught the kids as they came down the tunnel on the slide and into the pool. I was able to do a screen grab for a photo of the fun…


My nephew Jonas comes down the slide and shows us that it’s always ok for fake gun play.


My niece Callie does the ‘hold the nose’ pose as she splashes down


My nephew Will shows nothing buy joy when he hits the water


My son Alex gets no style points for his splashdown

However, it was my son Nick who provided the best slo-mo and screen capture of a slide. Of course, I didn’t see it at full speed. But when I reviewed it in the slo-mo, this is what I saw…(wait for it…wait for it…)

And because my Parent of the Year Award is long overdue, I never miss an opportunity to make fun of myself and my parenting skills, I posted this to Facebook:

Nick on Slide

Facebook likes my many parenting triumphs fails.

One week later, our family gathered for the annual Cousins and Crabs feast. Over a pile of steaming, delicious hard crabs, my cousin Joe from Florida told me that his family had coined a new phrase. “We now call it ‘Nicking someone off’ whenever we see someone giving the finger”.

Which made me want to do this:

Hot damn...Best. Parent. EVER.

Hot damn…Best. Parent. EVER.

So, anyone who disagrees with my parenting style in the future…well I’m just going to Nick them off.

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Not the Caribbean

My parents are celebrating 50 years of marriage this year. About 2 years ago, my mom said to my three sisters and I:

“I’m thinking we should do something special as a family for our 50th wedding anniversary in 2015. Your dad I would like take all of you kids and the grandkids on a nice vacation. Someplace like the Caribbean or a cruise the week between Christmas and New Years.”

Which made us feel like:



Our kids (there are seven kids among the three of us who have them) were also very excited, because they had visions of Atlantis and Disney cruises dancing in their heads:

Swim with dolphins - hell to the yeah.

Swim with dolphins in Atlantis? Hell to the yeah.

Awesome waterslide on a Disney cruise? More hell to the yeah!

Awesome waterslide on a Disney cruise? Even more hell to the yeah!

Last year, a couple of us asked mom if plans for the trip were starting to gel since we would need to request time off from work for dipping our toes in the sand and soaking our livers in alcohol. And that’s when we got a huge shock:

“Girls…I’ve picked the location. Your dad and I are very excited — next July, we are going to the Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville, VA!”

Wait...what...I think I misheard you. Did you say Beach or Boar's? And you meant Virgin Islands, not Virginia, right?

Wait…what…I think I misheard you. Did you say Beach or Boar’s? And you meant Virgin Islands, not Virginia, right?

Each of my sisters and I had a similar reaction:

Me: I think I need a longer Q-tip because my ears think they heard we are not going anywhere beachy.

Me: “My ears must be fucking clogged, because I swear I just heard we are not going anywhere near a beach or copious amounts of rum drinks served by cabana boys husbands.”

Diane: I live in Canada...you are fucking with me about this July in the humid backwoods of Virginia, right?

Diane: “I live in Canada. You are fucking with me about this whole July in the humid backwoods of Virginia, and not a sunny beach in the dead of Winter, right?”

Nancy: "I don't have kids or a husband, but I do know a vacation buzz kill when I hear one."

Nancy: “I don’t have kids or a husband, but I do know a vacation buzz kill when I fucking hear one.”

Susan: "Are you kidding me with this? I already had my bikinis picked out."

Susan: “Are you fucking kidding me with this? I already had my bikinis picked out.”

So, we started a new mantra:


We explained to our kids that the destination their grandparents picked (and were paying for) didn’t have dolphin swims, water slides, and beaches. But we reassured them that a high-end, adult resort would be just as fun with none of those things golf, tennis, and a swimming pool.

Since my sisters and I have done such a good job of raising our kids, my teenage and pre-teen nieces reacted fine:

If I was on a beach I wouldn't care if I couldn't snapchat with my friends.

If I was on a beach I wouldn’t care if I couldn’t Snapchat with my friends. 

And my sons and nephews were calm about the change of plans:

No water slides and no dolphins? UGH!

No water slides and no dolphins? And probably no ESPN either. UGH!

I just don’t understand where our kids get this attitude from…

Sign up on my office at work.

Sign I put up on my office at work. A co-worker tried to make me feel better by pointing out how overrated sun, sand, and rum drinks really are.

OK…so maybe my sisters and I need to adjust our attitudes a bit. This place does have 3 pools. There is sand in the traps on the golf course. And I’m sure they will overcharge us for yummy rum drinks, just like they would on an island or a cruise ship.

So, even though it’s not the Caribbean…

This. This right here.

This. This right here.

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Yet Another Parenting Win

My organization supports the Take Your Child to Work day that many other companies participate in. The official day in 2015 was April 23. That happens to be a busy time of year for my organization, so we delayed it until school was out. We had the event in June.

My organization invites the two other organizations who lease space in our building to participate. We have a full day of activities and education for elementary, middle, and high school kids, with a focus on health professions.

I was excited about my kids participating. The most valuable thing they learned the last time they did this was damn, mom gets up so early every day so we can have an Xbox and all the cleats we need to play sports.

The day started at 6:00am. I normally leave the house at 6:00am, but I cut the boys some slack since this was the third official day of their Summer vacation. By 6:30am, my two groggy commute mates had stumbled to the car with the promise of me buying them a bagel from Panera on the way to the office. Of course, there was the mandatory bellyaching about who got to sit in the front seat, which was quickly squelched by my brilliant missive “Just get the fuck in the car and save your fighting for when all of my colleagues’ kids can enjoy it!”

The boys like taking the Metro. It’s fun to get a ticket, ride the train, and travel up and down via escalator. Because we got to the Metro station at a busy point in rush hour that morning, the car was packed. Nick had to sit on my lap, and Alex sat in a seat facing ours.

Nick has never suffered the heat well. And this Tuesday morning was going to be no exception. By the 5th stop, it was standing room only with no A/C. And we had about 11 more stops to go – all underground with even less fresh air.

The combination of crammed bodies, sitting on my lap, no A/C in our Metro car, the swaying motion of the train, and the (supposedly non-toxic) brake dust smell did Nick in just 2 stops later.

He blurted out, “I don’t feel good…” as we rolled into the station.  Which resulted in a panicked look from the passenger sitting on the seat next to us. I jumped up and told the boys we were getting off at this stop.

As we stood at the door waiting for the train to come to a stop, Nick began heaving a little bit. Passengers parted like the Red Sea. I threw my hand over his mouth and whispered “just don’t puke until we get off the train.”

To give Nick some credit, he did wait to fully puke until the doors opened. However, he started spitting up water as we stood on the train waiting for the doors to open. He spit up all over my hand that was over his mouth…and quite close (if not on) the poor woman who had not gotten out of our way fast enough. I sheepishly mumbled “sorry” as I shoved Nick off the train, making sure his brother followed us.

As Nick fell forward to the platform on all fours (quite the drama monkey, that one), he tossed the open bottle of water he had been carrying toward me. Well, technically, he tossed it all over me. I looked like I was the last place contestant in a Hooters wet t-shirt contest, who had also wet her pants.

Hot damn, Take Your Kid to Work Day is awesome so far.

17_times_rolling_your_eyes_was_totally_acceptable__16_It didn’t take long for Nick to feel better. We hopped another train that was less crowded and did have A/C. We made it to work with no further puking incidents. I dropped them off in the conference center, and went about my day. At lunch, I joined them in our large conference room, along with the other kids and their parents.

Made of moneyThey complained because the only lunch option was turkey sandwiches. I told them after the lunch presentation, I would take them out and get them some food. Because why eat a free lunch when you can spend your mom’s hard-earned Benjamin’s, am I right?

During the lunch session, we had a medical student, physician assistant, and a dentist talk to the kids a bit about careers in each of those respective fields. The PA asked the kids “what do you think I do all day?”

Nick shouted out: “Work!”

Then the medical student asked “any of you want to share why you want to be a doctor?”

Alex blurted out: “The money!”

Even though you might think that would officially put Take Your Kid to Work Day in the win column for me, that was not the crowing achievement.

That didn’t come until the staff photographer told me about the pictures taken during the event. After looking through the album, it was then — and only then — that I knew the day was a total win for the Rice boys and their mother.

Kids to work-5

Mom, we can’t ‘stomach’ another day of learning during Summer vacation. It hurts our ‘brains’!

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On Guns, Flags, and Hatred

One of my favorite bloggers, Wendi Aarons, recently challenged all of us via Facebook to write about the horrific events in Charleston, SC.


To raise awareness. To get conversations started. To make people think outside of their comfortable confines about what race, race relations, and hatred truly mean in ‘Merica today. And what we can do to start making some changes.

There are two things about this situation that disturb me. The first is guns. The second is the confederate flag. And I have (very) opinionated friends and family on both sides of the debate.

GUNS: As the hideous traffic I endure on my commute to work luck would have it that day, I was stuck in a no-go situation on my commute. I was behind this patriot, and his window sticker caught my attention.


License plate obscured by me so you won’t be able to look him up. Privacy AND gun rights protected. Yeehaw.

In case you can’t read his window sticker, here’s a zoomed in look:

I love a challenge

For real, dude?

Frankly, you can keep your semi-automatic assault weapon. Or your rifle. Or your handgun. I don’t want to take it from you. I have no intention of modifying the Second Amendment in any way.

And for the record, here’s what the amendment says:.

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then-Secretary of State:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

So good luck with your militia. Or hunting down wildlife. Or target shooting. Or protecting yourself. Or whatever it is you would like to do with your weapon.

But please stop blaming the victims. For the love of all that is holy, stop blaming the victims:

NRA Board Member's comments about Charleston. SMDH.

NRA Board Member’s comments about Charleston. SMDH.

All I’m asking — all any of us are asking — is rethink the current regulations surrounding gun ownership and sales practices.

CONFEDERATE FLAG: My feelings on the flag are this: its legacy of hate trumps any BS about heritage. I think John Stewart said it best. So, all I have to say is “ditto”:

In the end, I’d like to think that my opinionated family and friends can come together and agree on this:
When individuals are being repeatedly slaughtered in the name of hate or because it’s easy to bring violence to innocents, we need to act.

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Nick and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

When you’re 12, life is pretty simple. All you have to do is a little homework, a few chores, and spend the rest of your waking life 1) annoying the snot out of your older brother, 2) pretending you don’t hear your parents when they call your name, 4) watching vines of guys getting hit in/on/around their balls, or 3) complaining about the fact you have no clean socks.

But a few weeks ago, my son Nick’s life turned from simple to simply terrible. Simply horrible. Simply no good. Simply very bad.

It started with one of the other moms telling me at a lacrosse game on May 16 about a book report each kid in the class was working on, due on May 29. Funny, Nick hadn’t mentioned anything to me. So on the way home, I asked him about it.

“Oh yeah,” he responded. “I have to draw a comic strip representation of the story. It should be easy.”

“Have you started reading the book yet?” I questioned.

“Um…no. It’s only 200 pages, so I figured I could do that the night before and just draw the comic strip, too.”

Read a 200+ page book and draw a comic strip representative of the characters, storyline, plot, conflict, and resolution in one night when you’ve had a whole month to work on it? Terrible, Nick. Just terrible.

On May 19, I got a call from the assistant principal at Nick’s school. It seems that during recess (his favorite part of school) he and classmates had been playing kickball. A kid who (allegedly) constantly interrupts the game, goofs off, and doesn’t play fair started doing just that. And Nick — in his words — just snapped. “He does it every recess and it ruins the game and then we don’t get to spend our time playing because of it!” The Assistant Principal let me know that Nick had started chasing the kid when he purposely kicked the ball over the fence, effectively ending the game. At some point the kid turned around and hit Nick in the face.

Both boys were called into the principal’s office separately. Nick had given his side, the other kid told his side, and both sets of parents received a call.

So, tell the assistant principal you ‘just snapped’, and chased a kid because he ruined your kickball game at recess? Horrible, Nick. Just horrible.

On May 20, we got an email from one of Nick’s teachers. He was missing some homework and she asked us to check his binder when he brought it home. I’m not sure how most teachers define ‘some’, but I certainly don’t define it as more than 8 homework assignments not done/not turned in since early April. The teacher had provided a list of all the missing items and highlighted them. My husband spent most of the evening barking at Nick because he’d been telling us he either did it in school or had no homework.

Later that evening when the barking subsided, Nick sat with me at the kitchen table and cleaned out his binder, put papers in the sections where they belonged, and completed EVERY LAST FUCKING PAPER LABELED HOMEWORK that I could find.

At one point he wailed, “but mom, we did ratios way back in January. This one doesn’t matter.”

To which I hissed back “It. Matters. To. Me.”

Which made Nick’s face do something like this:



Not doing your homework, not turning it in when you do complete it, and lying to us about having and/or doing your homework? No good, Nick. Just no good.

On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I was working from home. I heard a strange noise coming from our deck where the dogs were. Going to investigate, I found Jake with what appeared to be a grin on his face as he chewed. I attempted to reason with him … “what is that?”…”give me that”…”this is not a game you dumb furbag”. Reasoning with him didn’t work. When I was finally able to snatch the object from him, it was the remnants of Nick’s retainer case. And no remnants of a retainer.

This was his third retainer because 1) our other dog Mocha sampled and destroyed the first one, and 2) because Nick thought his pocket was a great place to store the second retainer until he sat on it and broke it in half.

For the record, retainers cost 12 pedicures (@ $25 per pedicure), people. TWELVE!

My husband and I had no idea if the retainer had been in the case, since Nick is notorious for forgetting to put it back in after meals, after brushing teeth, or after his parents have harassed him repeatedly with comments like “perhaps a little Gorilla glue will help you remember to keep the damn thing in your mouth!”.

So when Nick danced in the door that afternoon and shouted out “Three day weekend, baby!”, he had no idea his celebration would prove premature. My husband called him into the office where he was working. I heard him ask Nick “do you have your retainer in your mouth?”.  Nick mumbled something back. And the next thing I heard may have rhymed with “Well why the duck not?”

Leaving your retainer case where counter-surfer Jake can get it, so that your parents have to buy a third replacement retainer for $300 in less than a year? Very bad, Nick. Very bad. (You too, Jake)

Let’s just hope his brother Alexander doesn’t have a similar kind of experience…





I’m guessing that the average age that kids start pestering their parents for a phone is about 12. Or maybe it is better defined by the point at which they enter middle school and have the potential to eat up copious amounts of minutes and data by texting and sharing pictures (more on that later).

For us, the trigger point was my son attending a birthday sleepover with one of his friends who turned 13 earlier this year. Evidently, every kid at the party had their cell phone with them. When the birthday boy’s mom asked Alex, “did you forget your phone Alex?”, his response was “I’m not allowed to have one.”

Way to throw your mean old parents under the bus, kid. Well, actually, his mean old mom. His dad thinks he should have a phone.But I refused to give in because my philosophy has always been:

I still have to drive your ass to everything, so you aren’t going to have any roadside emergencies for awhile. And as long as the school principal’s office has a phone, you don’t need one. Besides…if I do get a call from the principal’s office, you have bigger problems than being the only kid without his own cell phone.

We had this same argument when it came to zombie/blood/guts/guns/war games for the Xbox. I was the last mom on the planet (according to my sons) to let them have Call of Duty. But I was the first mom to let them watch movies like Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball, Role Models, and The Hangover. I should earn some cool mom credit for that, right?


The case for a phone was not getting any stronger after I spent a night out with the moms of two eighth graders and another seventh grader. They told me about the big scandal at school during the basketball season. Eighth grade boys were allegedly taking pictures of themselves, texting/snapchatting them to girls, and asking the girls to send pictures of their boobs back. And the girls were agreeing to it.

Well, somebody get me to the cell phone store so I can get my son a phone – STAT!


The next day I asked Alex if he had heard of any kids getting called to the principal’s office about inappropriate texting and picture sharing. He responded, “not that I know of.”  His father then said “Alex, were people sending naked pictures around?”  Alex quickly responded, “oh yeah, that. Mom you didn’t ask if it was naked pictures.”

The fuck?

The fuck?

But this past week, I had to take my son Nick to lacrosse practice on Wednesday while my husband was out of town. Alex’s friend Ty came over just before we were going to leave and asked if Alex could come play. I said yes, and before I had a chance to ask where he was going and give him a time to be home, he was out the door and gone.

Nick and I jumped in the car to head to practice. We drove thru the neighborhood to see if we could find Alex to tell him what time to be home. But we didn’t see him, so I left in order to get Nick to practice on time.

On the way to practice, Nick said “you know mom, if Alex had a phone, you could just call or text him what time to get home.” Which made me feel like this:

Shut it, kid.

Shut it, kid.

While I was at the lacrosse field, I got this text from Alex’s iPad at 7:00pm:

He checked in, and I hadn't even asked him to

He checked in, and I hadn’t even asked him to

So after sitting down with my husband and coming up with a list of what Alex isn’t allowed to do with this phone, we visited the Verizon store on Sunday, and purchased him one. While we were there, my husband and I upgraded the iPhone 4’s we have had since 2010 to iPhone 6’s.

And the whole thing probably cost us less than all the replacement retainers his brother Nick has lost in less than a year — three of them at $300 a pop! Nick will probably not be eligible to join the family phone plan until the iPhone 13 becomes available, given his track record with retainers. However, his orthodontists are making enough bank from the Rices to upgrade their phones every month or so.

So, we can now send Alex and his brother to the pool by themselves during the Summer, and still be able to reach them. We can have them go play with friends and have a way to check in with them periodically.

And middle school girls…in case you think I’m a pushover because I caved on getting my son a phone, here’s some advice. You want no part of a momma who might find your booby selfie on her son’s phone.

Wonder Mom says

Wonder Mom says “oh HELL no!”


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