A Side of Rice

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


Leave a comment

Two Weeks Notice

It hit me this morning. Hard. In just two weeks (and technically, very delayed from the original date), we will take our oldest son Alex to Ithaca College for his second semester of Freshman year, but only his first semester on campus.

Ithaca went entirely virtual for the Fall of 2020. Can you tell how awesome Alex thought virtual learning and living at home for his first semester as a Freshman was?

That’s probably because he was seeing lots of his high school friends post selfies on social media as they were moving into their college dorms. So he sent me this selfie of his virtual dorm room. Or, as I like to call it, the room in our house that always has clothes on the floor.

Like everyone with school-aged kids, we’ve dealt with the challenges of virtual learning. Alex’s younger brother Nick is a senior in high school this year, but he seems much more happy about the virtual learning situation.

However, that smile may only be hiding the fact that he thinks we don’t know he has been turning in assignments late or (#SoBlessed) doesn’t do them at all. Look, son, September through November is a little early to have “Senior-itis.”

At one point, I advertised that we were willing to sell the naming rights to the dining room, to help fund the boys’ college accounts. I just don’t understand why my ad didn’t generate a single inquiry, because I included a photo: Virtual study hall. Previously called dining room. Willing to sell sponsorship renaming rights to any company. Serious inquiries only.

Maybe I should have clarified that the humans were included. Or, for the right price, we wouldn’t include them.

Our boys eventually found virtual learning to be a necessary evil an unfortunate situation not something mom purposely orchestrated to make them miserable, so just get over it already.

In November, since the teenagers in the house were still schooling virtually, we decided a change of scenery was in order, and we spent a week in Myrtle Beach. The boys attended school online in the mornings and early afternoons.

Ithaca College, Myrtle Beach satellite campus

Their dad and I didn’t work, went for walks, and relaxed. We socially distanced ourselves and spent time enjoying the very sparsely populated beach.

In November, we also received news that the students were going to return to campus for the Spring semester at Ithaca.

And when we received confirmation of his move-in day in January, Alex tried hard not to express any excitement or enthusiasm.

This is my happy face, mom.

We haven’t had the heart to let our dog Mocha know that Alex’s departure is imminent. We’re not exactly sure how she is going to react to the fact that once he is on campus, we can’t visit, and he can’t come home until the semester is over. She’s likely to be devastated — Alex’s lap is her favorite.

Just like everything else about 2020 — the year that knocked us upside down, sideways, and backward — there will be nothing “normal” about this mom getting to take her oldest son to college for his Freshman year. We have to drop him off, not help with moving any of his things in, and leave immediately once everything is offloaded. Thanks, ‘Rona.

Nor will there be anything as cool as this story and video of one of his football teammates being dropped off last year.

I’m hoping the coolest thing about the drop off is me. Because while I’m thrilled and excited for him to start the next chapter of his life, I feel like I’m not nearly cool enough to keep my heart from melting. Even though I’ve had 18 years, 10 months, and 10 days to get used to the idea.

It just feels like I’ve only had two weeks.


1 Comment

I’ve Got An Announcement to Make

There are a number of things I never would have thought I’d hear myself mutter in 2020. Those include, but are certainly not limited to:

What the fuck is a murder hornet?”

Oh, please. You know you’d vote for murder hornets.

“I need more fabric paint to decorate/personalize my face mask and headband.”

Glitter gold and royal blue fabric paint. But nothin’ for those grey roots starting to peek through.

“Look, I need the steps. Let’s go inside and pick up the food, instead of being so lazy and doing curbside delivery.”

Image courtesy of SafetySign.com. Because who says there isn’t money to be made in a pandemic (see also masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper)

“I haven’t filled up my car with gas in 2 months and I still have a full tank. And nowhere to fucking go.”

Image from the Chicago Tribune, courtesy of Paul Sancya/AP

“Well, we’ve watched everything else. So, sure, we can watch John Tucker Must Die – it’s such a masterpiece of American cinema.”

If you ask me, we should watch Bridget Jones’ Diary again.

“Oh shit. I never ordered your cap and gown. I wonder if we could borrow Noah Ferguson’s?”

Thank you to the Ferguson family for the loaner cap and gown, and the awesome packaging you put it in!

“What in the ever-loving pandemic hell do you mean you don’t expect a delivery of toilet paper for another week?”

“I really wish there were more cool memes about whatever the hell this COVID-19 thing is, so that I could share them on social media.”

And my personal favorite? “Hey genius…get dressed before you come downstairs. I’m really not interested in having all my colleagues see you walk behind me again in just your boxer briefs.”

Thank goodness no one was recording our Zoom meeting

The genius I’m referring to is my oldest son Alex. He made the guest appearance in the background of a work Zoom meeting, with about 15 of my colleagues watching.

But, I’m giving him a bit of a break because he’s a Class of 2020 Senior. And his final few months of high school have gone nothing like we ever anticipated:

  • There was no Spring Track & Field season, where he would have competed in the throwing events with his football buddies Will and Ben
  • There was no Prom
  • There was no Senior skip day
  • There was no Senior prank
  • There will be no Big 33 game for him to play in, with the other kids from Maryland who made the team.
  • There will be no Senior Week (now called SWeek) at the beach
  • There will be no graduation ceremony with his entire class
  • There will be no ‘Safe and Sound’ all night party at Adventure Park

And there was no formal, fancy, grand, scrolly-font-on-linen-paper graduation announcement to send out to family and friends, touting the fact that he had achieved this milestone.

Well, it’s not that an announcement like that wasn’t offered. It was offered, but we had no idea at the time if the scheduled June 3 graduation ceremony was going to take place at all. But that didn’t stop me from coming up with an idea for something special, to let everyone know just how special we think Alex is.

I had my amazingly talented designer friend Rebecca create a non-traditional card as an announcement. So, without further ado…

I have an announcement I’d like to make:

Cover of card

Inside of card

Back of card

A final accolade came in after the announcement was printed. Because of Alex’s accomplishments and awards for football in his Senior season, he is being inducted into the Walkersville High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Globally, things we are familiar and comfortable with have changed. And for our family, things we are familiar and comfortable with will be changing when our oldest heads off to college this Fall.

Change and uncertainty be damned. The Rice family will be over here putting together something good. Maybe even something great. Please join us.

Congrats to all those in the Class of 2020!


Leave a comment

Summer Job Board for Teenagers

The other day, I was browsing through the time suck that is Pinterest…or was it the time suck that is Facebook? Either way, my time was sucked.

I came across this image of (to be read in your most cheerful, sing-songy voice) a clever way to get your kids to help out with chores all Summer:

65185699_661469297613706_7695555077636882432_n

Which made me do this:

Laugh.gif

And not because I was stoned. Or because Kelso said something funny.

It was because I have teenagers. Teenage boys, to be specific. Their idea of a Summer “chore” is having to make their own lunch by ripping into a box of Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. Or scooping out the proper number of cups from a box of potato flakes so they can (fake) carb load for lunch.

But the image got me thinking about my ideal Summer job board for my teenage sons. Here it is:

BeckyJobChart

And when it comes to “Mom’s Choice”, this is how I roll:

Moms Choice

Got some great ideas for chores? Create your own job board stickies here.


Leave a comment

Top 8 Tips for Being a Volunteer Social Media Account Manager

A couple of years ago, I wrote about why I would never be put in charge of the Community sign board. The real reason, frankly, was that there were not enough symbols in the letter box for all the cuss words I would want to use.

SignBoardLetters

Yeah, I’m gonna need a lot more of these symbols

Flash-forward to a few years later, when my oldest son entered high school and I joined the Athletic Boosters. There was a volunteer opportunity to up our social media cred with a more robust Facebook page and a new Twitter account.

Easy peasy. I just post game results from the paper, shout outs to alumni, and event announcements, right?

Wrong

Here’s what I’ve learned so far when it comes to being the volunteer social media manager.

Tip #1: Be careful about posting more than one image in your twitter feed

One of the Booster accounts for a county rival posted two photos on twitter that caused an awkward appearing ‘headline.’ The red oval is where the two photos ‘combined’ in the Twitter feed, resulting in overlaps of the actual headlines, and leading to the unfortunate looking “Urbana Girls Grab Oakdale Boys” ‘headline.’

Headline merge

Tip #2: Parents will never see the posts about their own kids, so get ready for the blow back

No matter how many times you mention a sport, there will be someone whose kid is on the team and didn’t see the post. My remedy for this? I go back to every instance of me posting about that sport and tag that parent in the comments. Enjoy your ridiculous uptick in Facebook notifications, friend.

Tip #3: Tag parents on Facebook posts

Actual Facebook messenger mail I received: “I see you tagged <name of parent> when you posted about <student athlete’s> name in the paper. You didn’t tag me when <my precious angel> was named in the paper. How can you remedy that?”

I thought of replying with: “Oh my word! I had no idea <your precious angel> was your child, since:  a) the school has over 1,000 students, b) I don’t know every damn kid in the school, and 3) I don’t know your family or kid at all. Perhaps if you’d join the Boosters for the mere $25 a year membership fee, it would jog my memory when it comes to tagging your ass in every post for <my precious angel>.

Instead, I responded with: Thanks for letting me know. We’re always looking for new members and volunteers – hope to see you at a Boosters Meeting in the future!

Tip #4: Tag students on Twitter posts

They love to see themselves tagged and will “like” and “retweet”. A lot. So will their friends when they see it.

Just know that you will probably have to wade through a whole bunch of …

  • @hotbod69
  • @bootygirl4U
  • @BIGlaxstick
  • @team_balls_out

…nonsense twitter handles to find some of these athletes. Hey kids – do yourself a favor and set up a handle that reads more like someone trying to impress admissions officers at colleges, and less like you are trying to impress your potential Tinder dating pool. Except for you, Jacob Wetzel. I love your handle: @wetzhispants

Tip #5: If you are posting daily athletic contest schedules, be ready for Mother Nature to %*@! with you

I hate snow and rain, which has impacted every sport so far this year, multiple times this year. Even the indoor sports. When school is cancelled due to weather, so are all after school activities. Then they get rescheduled. Over and over.  So, be ready if Mother Nature is having a bad day/week/month/season. You’ll get carpal tunnel keeping up with all the changes.

Tip #6: You are not in charge of the @Wendys or @UMBCAthletics accounts.

While it would be a life goal of mine to be the person in charge of either of these accounts (filled with humor and snark – and getting paid for it!) I am currently NOT in charge of an account like this:

UMBCWendys

I really only got snarky/funny twice. Once, when a cross-town rival taunted our football team at a game this past Fall. We had graduated amazing groups of senior football players in 2017 and 2018, including Jacob Wetzel – the 2016 County Defensive Player of the Year, member of the 2016 State Championship team, member of the 2017 Conference Champion team, and 2017 County Offensive Player of the Year, who is now at Old Dominion University. The student section from the other team brought a sign, and I snapped a photo and tweeted about it:

Wetzhispants

I give Jacob a pass on his Twitter handle; it makes me laugh every time I have used it

And the second time, when our girls soccer team was a State finalist, and a local business wished them well.

RoysStates

I know Wendy’s knows what’s up also, but there isn’t a Wendy’s in our community.

Tip #7: If a sports emoji is missing; get creative. Literally.

We are the blue and gold Lions. Every social media post for our accounts concludes with 💙🦁💛 and then the emoji for that sport. 

For the first year, there was no softball emoji, so I used a blue diamond, for softball diamond: 💙🦁💛🔷. For lacrosse, I used the net: 💙🦁💛🥅 .  I am totally geeked out that I can now use the actual emojis:

softball lax stick

 

 

We have a swim/dive team and I made a request for a springboard/platform dive emoji from Unicode. Basically, Unicode told me I have to create an image to submit for consideration.

Since I’m not a graphic designer, here’s my submission, Unicode: 🖕   How’s that for creative?

Tip #8: This is a volunteer gig, but one that matters to your community.

It’s tough, sometimes, to take the flack, to listen to the complainers, to always be asked for more of our time and energy.  However, I keep this in mind for all my volunteer work in the community:

Who was watching

💙🦁💛


Leave a comment

10 Keys to a Great Vacation

You know it’s gonna be a great vacation when the morning you are scheduled to leave starts like this:

  • Husband: “who moved my keys?”
  • Me: “Last I saw them was on the table, as I was packing the car.”
  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “Huh?”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “Not me.”

Which led to this from my husband: Annoyed dad

So — a half an hour of frantic searching, much cussing and still no keys later — we were on our way to Myrtle Beach, SC. I believe the infamous shoving off pronouncement was “you people better hope you remember which one of you moved my keys and where you put them by the time we get home”, which generated the following response from me:

Whatgif

And the following responses from our boys:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “What?”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “OK.”

The first full day of our vacation, as all the electronic device chargers/cords were unpacked, my husband sheepishly said “Oh, I found my keys. Someone must have grabbed them with all the cords and thrown them in this bag.”

Which generated the following response from me:

NeeNeeGif

And the following responses from our boys:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “No thanks.”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “Sure.”

Later in the week, after a day at the beach, the second key to the rental condo went missing. My husband’s questions were “Oh for fuck’s sake, who took the key to the beach?”, “Why did we buy a beach bag without zipper compartments?”, and the always helpful “Can any of you remember where you put the damn key?”

Which generated this from me:

Longroll

And the following responses from our boys:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “I’m not.”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “In a minute.”

Finally, on our last night, after thoroughly checking each beach bag, tearing the cushions off the sofa, and pulling everything out of the car to search for the key, I queried my husband with “did you check the pockets of all your shorts?”

Which generated this from him:

House

And the following responses from our boys:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “I’ll take a Hot Pocket.”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “I don’t like Hot Pockets, can we have something else?”

And this response from me, when — lo and behold — the missing key was found in a pair of his shorts.

Itoldyousoface.gif

And our kids were quick to pile on:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “Nick did it.”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “Wait…what?”

So, aside from not losing your actual keys or your rented condo keys, the proverbial keys to a great vacation are as follows:

  1. Don’t be surprised by everyone sleeping through the early morning trek to your destination, especially when traffic is at a complete standstill

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2. Let your kid ham it up whenever possible for the best photo ops IMG_1669

3. Feed teenagers on a regular basis, as they appear their happiest when they are eating.IMG_1673

4. Embrace the fact that you’re raising goof ballsIMG_1713

5. Your mantra for the week should be “Shut up liver. You’re fine.”IMG_1678.JPG

6. Be ready for rounds of golf taking longer than normal with non-pros in your foursome

7. In addition to feeding teenagers, a sure way to get a thumbs-up is with a day at the water park IMG_1686

8. Don’t over-stress picture taking…you won’t have to work very hard to get photos where your kids appear as if they actually like one another (light up ferris wheel and water park not always included)IMG_1759

9. Eat dessert

IMG_1749

Limoncello cake with mascarpone frosting at Sole Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC

10. Be silly IMG_1762

Because that’s always better than taking silly things too seriously. Like “lost” keys, for instance.

 


Leave a comment

Fashion Weak

As the mother of two boys, I resigned myself long ago to the fact that when it comes to clothing, my choices to outfit them would be limited to dinosaurs, animals, super heroes, planes, construction equipment, stripes, and sports.  As they have gotten older, the choices narrowed even further to plain, minimal stripes, and (the very expensive) sports team/logo wear.

My boys hate the feel of jeans, so when we find a pair of sweatpants/shorts that fit and are deemed cool enough to be seen it, we buy them in every color they come in. Which brings us back to limits once again, as the color choices they have started gravitating to in their teen years are shades of grey, navy, and black. Hooray for the neutrals, because they will go with any of the outrageously expensive logo wear/sports team tops they pick up from the floor and sniff before shrugging their shoulders and putting on the offensive smelling item anyway.

Recently, we relented and went shopping for Fall/Winter clothes for our oldest and a few items to fill in the gaps of the hand-me-downs for our youngest. Because who doesn’t want to spend a Saturday evening in crowded rural mall, shopping with two teenage boys who could care less about clothing?

thisgirl

Our first stop was Old Navy. My husband and I spent a lot of time trying to decipher what “I dunno”, “whatever” and “sure” really meant as we held up options for our 14 year old to decide on. It got even tougher to tell what he thought as he moved into the non-verbal responses of “major eyeroll”, “shrug”, and “heavy sigh while snapping one’s head back”.

Which pretty much made me do this:

eyeroll

After finding a few sweatpants styles and some long sleeve shirts that fit – and buying them in the three neutral colors available – we headed to H&M. I’d heard the clothing was affordably priced. What I hadn’t heard about was how much I wouldn’t be hearing after being in a store that blasts hipster emo tunes. #OldPeopleProblems

The clothing options were minimal at best and we quickly determined that our decidedly non-emo sons would not find anything of interest. On our way out, I spotted this:

img_1919

$30 for a sweatshirt that comes with holes already in it? Uh…that’s a big “fuck no.”

I immediately snapped a picture and commented, “If you boys want something like this, I’ll take you to my parent’s house and you can pick one from granddad’s closet. For free.”

Next it was on to American Eagle, where I spotted this and told my husband “if you become a stripper and wear these sparkly blue underwear, perhaps we can afford all these clothes we have to buy the kids.”

img_1985

The salesgirl smirked and asked if she could help me find them in my husband’s size. My husband then rolled his eyes, shrugged, and let out a heavy sigh while snapping his head back as he headed toward the door.

By the time we got to the fourth store, my sons’ and husband’s enthusiasm for the whole shopping excursion had really waned (as if it going lower than from where it started could even be a possibility). Their diminished enthusiasm was almost inversely proportional to their growing hunger for dinner. My oldest spent a solid three minutes in the store, where he picked out 3 shirts (same style, different colors) and quickly made a beeline for the exit to discuss restaurant options with his dad and younger brother.

Our shopping trip had taken less than an hour and a half. I think we spent more time on dinner at the restaurant when you count driving to it, waiting for a seat, ordering, eating, paying the check, and driving home.

Fast forward to last night and just three weeks after buying the new clothes. My oldest walked through the family room and I yelled “Stop!”.

“Are those a pair of your new sweatpants?”, I inquired.

“Yes,” was his response.

My close to 6′ tall, size 13 shoe-wearing oldest stood while I took a photo. The new sweatpants are already too short.

img_2049

He’ll just have to hope he doesn’t grow any taller because I can’t update his wardrobe with new navy/grey/black sweatpants every three weeks.

Boys’ fashion is certainly not for the weak of heart. Or the weak of wallet.

 

 


3 Comments

My 20/20 Vision Sometimes Gets a Little Blurry

Today is Alex’s first day of high school. I was able to obtain the obligatory first day of school picture. Evidently, once you hit high school (or teenager status), smiling is no longer allowed  cool  something you do, just so you can annoy the snot out of your mother.

IMG_1755

This is my happy face, mom.

Was it only a few short months ago that the parents of 8th graders were jammed into a school gym with no air conditioning to celebrate the milestone of middle school graduation? Editor’s note: Sorry for the quality of the video – that’s what happens when you are a lame parent and don’t think to film the entire room, so you have to steal  swipe  use some fancy technology to copy as best as possible an uploaded version to Facebook by a parent who does have their shit together  was thinking it would be a good idea.

Was it only a few short months ago that my kid was already practicing his ‘we shant smile for anything when mom asks’ look, so that it took at least three tries to get a semi-usable photo of him next to the school mascot?

IMG_1372

This is as happy as my face gets, mom.

Was it only a few short months ago that the video compilation of pictures moms and dads submitted was played at the ceremony?

Was it only a few short months ago that the parents, grandparents, and guardians in attendance realized there was one problem?

Tshirt

You see, our 20/20 vision for these kids’ future was a bit blurry. Because tears of pride will do that to you.

Whole class

Walkersville High School Lions Class of 2020


Leave a comment

‘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.