Tag Archives: pet peeves

Reading Comprehension

For weeks, Lily’s teacher has been pushing for me to ask Lily more reading comprehension questions. The teacher claims that while Lily is able to read very fluently for her age, Lily needs work on her reading comprehension. She claims that when she tested Lily’s reading, Lily bombed the reading comprehension questions.

I’ve been confused about this for a while because whenever I ask Lily questions about what we read, she’s able to retell most of the story. Maybe I am asking the wrong questions?

Needless to say, I was curious as to what an official kindergarten reading comprehension question would be. Today was the first time Lily brought home official reading comprehension questions from school, and I’m even more baffled by reading comprehension than ever before. The questions were almost unanswerable for me, a 34 year old English major who went on to get an MA in journalism. I should be able to answer kindergarten reading comprehension questions without much thought, right?

In an effort not to break copyright laws, I will rephrase the book right here for you. Don’t worry, it’s shorter than everything I’ve already written.

    He Walks

He walks to the bus.
He walks to the train.
He walks to the boat.
He walks to the plane.
He walks to the school.
He walks to the store.
He walks home.

It was accompanied by illustrations of a boy walking all of these places.

If you were to ask me what this book was about, I’d say it was about a boy who walked a bunch of places and you’d probably agree that I had grasped the concept of the book, right? I mean, there was no plot to remember. There were no important details. It was just a boy walking places.

But here are the reading comprehension questions for this book:
1) What happened at the beginning?
2) What happened in the middle?
3) What happened at the end?

Apparently it’s CRUCIAL to remember the order of the places this guy walked? Was she supposed to memorize the list in order? I honestly couldn’t remember the order myself. He walked some places, none interesting.

Lily told me one place he walked for each question and I hope that was good enough, but was she just supposed to rewrite the entire book? Is it really important to remember that he went to the train before he went to the boat if nothing happened either place?

Then comes the most baffling reading comprehension question of the bunch.

4) Where did this story take place? (setting)

Where did this story take place?! The boy was in a different location in every single picture. No permanent location is indicated in the text. He’s going from place to place. Is this a trick question? I don’t understand!

Lily and I thought about this question for a long time and I honestly don’t know what the correct answer is. We eventually decided the answer was “He was walking outside.” It took all my effort not to end that sentence with a question mark (I was supposed to write down what she said.).

If this was the sort of sample Lily was given for her reading comprehension screening at school, no wonder she bombed the thing.



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How to Lose An Hour of Sleep

There was an annoying beeping sound coming from my downstairs at 6 am the other day, and I usually don’t wake up until at least 7 am. Our digital weather sensor has the most ridiculous built-in alarm clock ever in that none of us know how to set it, but if someone presses the wrong button, the alarm ends up going off at a really inconvenient time, such as one hour before you need to wake up.

I planned to go right back to bed, but the dog heard I was up and wanted to go out.

I waited for THAT to finish before I headed upstairs and used the bathroom myself, where I ended up using the last bit of toilet paper on a roll. I really wanted to get back to bed and debated replacing the roll. I was supposed to be asleep! Sleep time is NOT toilet paper changing time. I thought about leaving the empty roll there for the next person to take care of, but then I realized that that person was probably me. By leaving an empty roll, my future self would be inconvenienced and mad.

So, one hour before I needed to wake up for the day, I went under the sink to get another roll of toilet paper.

Only, there wasn’t another roll there. We were out under the sink.

We have three bathrooms and keep packages of toilet paper under each sink. We buy toilet paper in bulk, so there is also always a larger package of toilet paper packs in the hall closet.

One hour before I had to wake up, I had to debate whether I wanted to go out to the hall to get more toilet paper. Getting the pack can be noisy and I was worried about waking up the children, whose room is right next to the toilet paper closet. All these bedtime obstacles were making me more and more alert. If I could just lie down right then, I’d probably be able to go back to sleep again. But if I didn’t get toilet paper from the hall, I would probably be the one paying the price for my 6 am laziness.

So I stumbled out to the hall to get a new pack of toilet paper.

A giant empty bulk toilet paper plastic wrapper stared back at me from the closet. We were out of toilet paper.

We are NEVER out of toilet paper.

I was outraged. NOW what was I supposed to do? Go downstairs to get some from under the sink there? Or leave it? Was there any extra in the girls’ bathroom? How could we be out of toilet paper? What was my responsibility to this toilet paper at 6 am? Should I continue my quest?

I tried to go back to bed at this point, but I was so outraged by the toilet paper shortage that I couldn’t sleep. Now I’d have to go to the store and get toilet paper first thing in the morning, even though I had other plans. The toilet paper was clearly a priority. And how did we not notice we were so low before the last time we went to Costco? We were there recently enough that we should still have toilet paper!

I couldn’t stop thinking about stupid toilet paper. I lost an hour of sleep over toilet paper!!!

So the lesson here is, if it is 6 am and you run out of toilet paper, go back to bed before you look for some more.


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Things I Hate That Everyone Else Seems to Love

1) Football. Most televised sports really, but football especially. I hate football season. I hate watching my facebook feed light up with game updates. I hate having football on the television. Yuck.
2) Mint-flavored desserts. Mint breath mints, gum and toothpaste are acceptable. Mint flavored ice cream, cakes, pies or cookies are disgusting. I hate Thin Mints in particular and I get really angry when I discover a chocolate dessert I’m eating has been in the same room as mint. It gets contaminated somehow.
3) Citrus-flavored desserts, especially orange flavored desserts or when people try to mix orange with chocolate. Blech.
4) Twitter. I keep trying to understand and get into twitter, but I can’t figure out how and why it’s better than facebook.
5) Ferris Wheels. They always seem like they would be fun in theory until I get to the top and look down. Not good or fun at all.
6) Socks. They make my feet feel sweaty and itchy. Why do people love socks? I’ll wear them to keep my feet warm or when I wear gym shoes, but I hate every minute of it.
7) Scarves as fashion accessories. You look stupid. They are acceptable for work, but nothing else.
8) Bangs. They are never the right choice. Ever. EVER.
9) The Twilight Series.
10) The movie version of “Devil Wears Prada.” It totally missed what the book was trying to do and it pisses me off.
11) My husband insists that I put “Cleaning” on this list. Most people dislike cleaning, but he says I seem to hate it more than most people based on how irritable I get when I’m doing it.


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Today marked our seventh 2-hour fog delay in 6 weeks of school. As I’ve posted before, I went to a school system that NEVER cancelled school unless it was, like, 20 below and the buses wouldn’t start. Having this many delays for a little fog is mind-boggling to me. The locals all defend it, claiming it’s an important safety protocol because much of our school system is rural. Um, I had horses and goats in my backyard when I was a kid and lived on a super hilly road with tons of ponds on it. The fog was much thicker than anything I’ve ever seen here in flat-as-a-pancake world. I obviously lived in a rural area, and school was never cancelled or delayed.

I am lucky. I am a stay at home mom so these delays don’t disrupt my childcare plans or make me late to work. They do ruin any plans I may have. Rose’s school does not get delayed, so when Lily’s is delayed I have to pick up children every 90 minutes all morning long. It makes it impossible to accomplish anything else, especially in weeks where these delays have happened virtually every other day.

The fog delays are happening so frequently lately that my husband has come up with what seems to be the obvious solution: School should just start 2 hours later. Then we wouldn’t be delaying it every 5 seconds for fog or snow or travel obstacles because it already starts then. People would already know about the childcare situation and get it covered instead of scrambling every other day trying to figure out what to do with their kids if something happened. School would go later in the day, but that would take care of the after-school care many parents scramble with right now. High school would run 9 to 4, middle school 9:30 to 4:30 and elementary school 10 to 5. Everyone would come home in time for dinner. After school activities could be moved BEFORE school. It’s easier to take kids to school early for those things when “early” is 8 or 9 am than it is to pick them up “late” from activities that often don’t get out at an exact time.

See? Easy. No one likes going to school at 8 am anyway. Remember how impossible 8 am classes were in college? Remember how terrible it was to get up for your 6:40 am bus in high school? No one likes that insanity! Make it later! Who can learn that early in the morning anyway?

At this rate, we’ve had so many delays that school practically does start at 10, so why not simplify things for us?


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Kid Menu WTF

My kids and I are always really happy when the waitress hands them crayons and coloring pages, but when it’s time to figure out what we want to eat, things head south quickly.

For some reason, every restaurant ever prints the children’s menu right on the coloring page.
In a way, this COULD make sense. Maybe bigger kids look at their own menus to figure out what they want to eat, and if they are coloring it ANYWAY, it might as well be the only thing the waiter hands to them. The trouble is the menu on the coloring page spells disaster with smaller kids. They can’t read the menu, which means the parents need that coloring page to help them order.

For reasons I can’t figure out, most restaurants lately haven’t been printing the kids’ meals on the main menu. I guess they figure if you have the coloring page at the table, you don’t need the same information printed in the adult menu. Wrong. If my kids are coloring, they don’t want me to look at the coloring page you just gave them to figure out what they should eat. While Lily is old enough to read the menu, she’s not old enough to figure out if there are any dairy-free choices on it and I need to look. Rose is NOT old enough to read the menu at all. I need to see that sucker if I’m going to figure out their meals and how much they are going to cost.

But when I go to look at the menu on the coloring page, somebody gets upset. Somebody shrieks “Hey! That’s MY coloring! I want to color!” Somebody pouts until I’ve finished making a selection.

The coloring page that was meant to bring peace to our table has now caused more discord than would have happened had no coloring page been brought to our table at all.

Why do restaurants insist on putting the kids’ menus on these things? And IF they must insist on putting them there, why not also put the menu on the adult menu so the parents can figure out the food/bill?

The kid menu on the coloring page is just one of those things that restaurants have all wrong, and I bet none of them even know they are causing problems. And trust me they are. Every time I go out to eat, I have this problem even after explaining to the kids WHY I must take their coloring away for a minute. I’ve seen other mothers struggle with the same thing. STOP THE MADNESS!

People for kid menus being reprinted in the regular menu! Riot!



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Safety Town

For the last couple years, everyone has been telling me that before Lily goes to kindergarten, she MUST go to Safety Town day camp. I kept asking why. Her preschool and I have taught her a fair amount about safety. What new thing could this day camp possibly be teaching?

A couple months ago as day camp registration was approaching, I asked on facebook how necessary this camp was. It overlapped the swim lessons we wanted to take and I was trying to decide if I could handle two daily commitments outside the house with three kids (No.). All these other Ohio adults told me that they remembered when they went to Safety Town and how it was the best fun they ever had. Nobody told me why.

It wasn’t until we arrived at Safety Town that I finally understood WHY it was a must-have.
Safety Town is an actual town. It’s a miniature town with stop signs and stop lights so the kids can learn how to cross the street on foot and follow the rules of the road while riding big wheels. A police officer teaches the class and they learn all about just about every area of safety you can think of.

In all my conversations with people about Safety Town, nobody had told me it was an actual town! I’d just thought it was a day camp. Apparently there are little “towns” like this all over northwest Ohio. Almost everyone I know in Ohio is from this area and went to Safety Town when they were kids, so they just assumed I knew what it was!

Nope! As far as I know, there’s nothing like this where I’m from in Indiana. There was definitely nothing like this when I was a kid.

So when they were saying “Safety Town” and meaning an actual town where they taught kids safety, I was picturing a hokey day camp with coloring and games.

Needless to say, I’m happy I signed Lily up for it. If you are a transplant to northwest Ohio like I am, your information is here! Safety Town is a town! An actual town! Why don’t they just SAY that? It wasn’t even in the camp description!

I wonder what other gems I haven’t learned about because people just assume I know.


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Tripping Roses

What is it about three year olds that gives them the uncanny ability to fall down and hurt themselves seconds before you are a) about to do something important in front of a crowd or b) about to take a group picture?

Rose is unnaturally good at falling down at the absolute worst second. I’d think she was planning the whole thing, but she often ends up legitimately hurt. I doubt she’d purposefully hurt herself for extra attention. Would she pretend to be hurt or overdramatize being hurt for attention? Sure. Happens ALL THE TIME. Most of these falls involve a little bit of blood. I can tell they are for real!

This past weekend, we had a traditional Korean ceremony honoring Violet’s first birthday. The second we were about to begin with all of our guests looking on, Rose tripped over the long skirt of her hanbok (Korean dress) and slammed her face into a picnic bench. Excellent timing.

The next day was Father’s Day. I wanted to get a good picture of the girls with their dad before they stained their matching dresses at dinner. Everyone looked perfect. As we were walking outside to take the picture, Rose slammed her head into the doorknob and burst into tears.

Even though she calmed down before we took the picture, all I could get was woeful expressions out of her. “Happy Father’s Day! Remember that one time Rose slammed her head on the doorknob? Here’s photographic evidence!”

Lily has a graduation program on Friday. I wonder what sort of drama Rose will get herself into moments before it occurs? I should just bring bandaids and ice packs to all of our big events.


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Another Not-Adopted Tale

While we were being admitted to the hospital ward, a nurse came in to ask me questions about Violet’s health history. The first question out of her mouth?

“I assume she’s adopted.”

No. No, she’s not.

The nurse was looking at chart information that included Violet’s extremely Asian last name. If she was adopted, she would probably have an American last name, no? I know I was throwing her off because I was a white woman standing with an Asian-looking baby, but the last name was there. In fact, I’m pretty sure MY name was also on the paperwork. I remember them taking my name at the ER triage. Our last name’s are the same. In fact, I took that very Asian last name to avoid this sort of confusion.

I explained that Violet is my biological daughter.

“Oh wow! She looks like she’s completely Asian.”

Um, ok. Thanks for your input. It would be fine if Violet did look 100% Asian, but she really doesn’t. For starters, she has brown hair. This was the first time anyone has ever told me that Violet didn’t look enough like me to pass for my biological daughter, and though this has happened with Rose a few times and once with Lily, I was really surprised. It’s hard to imagine that people think your baby didn’t come out of your body when you are still nursing her.

“Well, this will make the medical questions easier because you’ll know all the answers.”

Now that I can handle. I could see why medically it would be important to know if my daughter was adopted, but we probably should have gone straight to the questions about birth without voicing assumptions about my kid. If she was adopted and I didn’t know the answers, I’d tell you.

Seriously, we have the same Asian last name and I believe I’d already told someone she was still being breastfed. It’s pretty obvious that I married an Asian, took his last name and then had half Asian children.

Now I’m wondering how often people make that assumption while we are in public and are too polite to say anything.



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Whine of the Day

Why is custom framing so ridiculously expensive? We bought a $40 name painting as a birthday gift for Violet. Yesterday I took it to the local discount craft mega-store to get it framed at “50% off” (if it’s ALWAYS “50% off”, it means it’s just regular price, no?). The painting was a ridiculously irregular size and had to be custom matted and framed in order to look nice.

I ended up spending $100 on a nothing-fancy mat and frame. That’s right, I spent more than double on the frame as what I spent on the artwork.

It’s appalling!

I used to be pretty serious about art when I was in high school. I know from my experiences back then that NONE of the art supplies come in standard frame or matting sizes. It was a huge hassle and expensive whenever I had to enter a piece of artwork in a competition because it had to be matted. Every single piece of art-related paper, board or canvas was an irregular size. Or perhaps every single frame and mat is an irregular size.

Whatever the case, I think the art supply people and the frame people are in cahoots with each other. They are plotting together to make sure that not only do the artists spend a lot of money on supplies, but the buyers spend a ton of money on frames.

Are the art supply people THE SAME people as the custom frame people? Therein may lie our problem. Maybe the art supply people also make custom frames and thus purposefully make all art paper a shape that won’t fit in any ready-made frames.

It’s a scam, I tell you! A scam!

Artists of the world, insist on frame-sized paper or paper-sized frames!


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The Five Year Old Professional

I’m not meant to be a dance mom. I’ve always found watching dance to be incredibly boring, even when I go to professional performances. When I signed Lily up for some preschool level dance classes 2 1/2 years ago, I had no idea the torture I’d be in for. Watching Lily dance is cute, but everything else that goes along with this dance racket is beyond annoying.

Last year we managed to dodge the horrors of dance recital by sending Lily to a family wedding. From what I hear, we were lucky to skip it because the recital ended up being 2.5 hours of torture for the other dance moms. The stage managers AND the dance teacher treated everyone like crap.

This year, Lily insisted on being in the recital. So, we paid for the costume in December, sight unseen with no description given to us. A couple weeks ago, this monstrosity was forced into our hands.
When did Lily enroll in circus whore classes? I thought we were taking dance?

Big bird threw up itchy yellow tinsel all over Lily’s costume and all the girls were miserable in it. The girls scratched themselves raw.

And then the emails started up. Email after email came about various rehearsals and recital particulars, many of which had nothing to do with our class. At one point an email came about rehearsal times. It listed a bunch of classes individually. Our class was not listed so I assumed it was another “Why the hell can’t they send specific emails JUST to THAT class?” email. Nope. That email was for me. Though 20 classes were listed individually, I was supposed to read every single line of that email instead of just search for our class among the chronological listing of classes. Hidden among all the classes was the statement: 10 AM Recital Rehearsal at 6:30.

What the hell? I’d hate for our rehearsal to be clearly labeled. I didn’t realize this email was for us until another dance mom translated it for me.

We were informed RIGHT BEFORE recital and pictures that our shoes NEED to be white! Oh the horrors if all the kids’ shoes didn’t match! What would “people” think? You know what would have been a good idea? Telling us we needed white shoes WHEN WE STARTED THE DANCE CLASS and were buying dance shoes. I used white shoe polish on Lily’s shoes because I’m a sheep. I should have just told her dance teacher to bite me.

And then the recital handbook came. Here are some gems from it:
* “Please purchase new tights for the recital and do not wear or wash them before Photo Week or performance.”
Because people can TOTALLY tell if tights were previously used from the audience, I’m sure. WHAT IF a tiny bit of dirt showed on someone’s tights during recital? It would surely ruin the whole show. The instructions went on to require that we bring not one but TWO new pairs of tights. Who is paying for these tights?

*“DO NOT WEAR COSTUMES INTO THE RECITAL HALL. This is considered unprofessional.”
Who exactly do they think was coming to see our show, which was mostly composed of 3-6 year olds? Since when are 3-6 year olds professional? Since when is a small town’s dance studio considered professional?

*”Please note: no video or flash photography will be allowed in the auditorium at the recital.”
That’s right, we weren’t allowed to take a video of our 5 year old’s dance recital. But don’t worry! The studio is selling DVDs of the performance for $15! Nevermind that we already spent $80 on this recital in tickets and costume fees– more on make-up and tights and pictures. Let’s pay for a DVD too! I didn’t even get to watch this recital, by the way. Mothers of dancers Lily’s age are required to sit backstage with their kid. This is a fact they don’t warn you about until AFTER ticket sales are over. I was warned in advance, but I know a lot of moms dropped $15 on a ticket for themselves not knowing that they would never actually set foot in the audience.

And in case that wasn’t clear, that’s right, we had to pay $15 a person to pay to watch our kid do a dance we paid money for her to learn. Oh! And glossy programs were $15 because they were “souvenirs”. That’s right, for the low low price of $15 I could look at a glossy book that probably just listed my daughter’s class and not even her name. What a bargain!

As an afterthought in the recital handbook, they listed directions to the recital hall, which is in a totally different location from our dance studio. It was under “Misc.” at the very end of the handbook buried in a bunch of unimportant information like “Make sure your name is on everything!”. Isn’t the location of the recital the kind of information that needs to be front and center? The recital hall is part of the university and has no address to plug into a GPS. I wasn’t able to find it without a campus map.

As the grand finale to the ridiculousness, my daughter’s class got yelled at during the show for walking in the hall wearing tap shoes. It went something like this “Ok, dancers, are your tap shoes on? Good, walk up here in a straight line! WHAT ARE YOU TAPPING FOR? HOW DARE YOU TAP!”

The recital was less painful than I was expecting because it was a full hour shorter than last year’s and Lily performed at the very beginning, middle and end. There wasn’t nearly as much down time as I was expecting.

That said, I am so finished with this dance studio. Luckily, Lily says she is done with dance, but even if she weren’t, NEVER AGAIN at that studio. NEVER AGAIN.



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