Thursday, November 28, 2013

Full of Thanks and Pumpkin Pie, but Mostly Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all are having a great holiday and that your crazy uncle hasn't cornered you to discuss the affordable care act while picking his teeth with a turkey bone. I am thankful for many things, and a lot of them are so obvious that I never really think about being thankful for them. Like, I'm really thankful that I have toenails because I like getting pedicures wearing flip-flops and I'd be too self-conscious to do either of these things if I didn't have toenails. Plus, I know the Vietnamese ladies at the nail salon would be totally laughing and talking about my lack of toenails and I wouldn't be able to understand them.

 Here are some other things for which I am thankful:

1. That I have three healthy, energetic children.

2. That I don't have more than three healthy, energetic children.

3. That when I Googled, "symptoms of a broken jaw" on the second day of Thanksgiving break, none of my healthy, energetic children ended up having a broken jaw.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Catch Up - Game Day at Ole Miss

The last few months have been so busy that I am pleased to have survived them without having a major nervous breakdown. Unfortunately, making it through busy, stressful times without requiring hospitalization isn't one of those things we give anyone credit for. College alumni magazines never publish updates like, "Susannah is happy to report that she made it through the months of August, September, October, and the majority of November without any psychological break down." But you know what? Maybe we should. The business of participating in life can be really hard, so, I'm here to say congratulations to all of you, too. We made it. We're within sight of Thanksgiving and then it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to Christmas and Hanukkah. Don't even worry about New Year's because if you're reading this blog, you're probably older than 27, which is the unofficial age at which you must stop stressing out about New Year's plans. By then, you should realize that it's the same as any other night except that we all pretend to like champagne, even though we know it gives us a rotten headache.

In the midst of all of our fall busy-ness, we decided to take a trip to Oxford, Mississippi to visit the K's parents. It turned out that the only weekend that was kid-sports free was the weekend of November 15th.  And, as luck would have it, Ole Miss was scheduled to play Troy (the college in Alabama, not the city in ancient Greece, or the movie starring Brad Pitt) that weekend, too. Since we were there, we decided to watch the game and (almost more importantly) allow the kids to experience the Ole Miss Grove tailgating scene.

All dressed for the game. The Baby picked out her outfit at
University Sporting Goods before the game. She looked adorable;
like an Ole Miss elf. 
If you've never been to the Grove at Ole Miss on a football game day you are missing a major people-watching opportunity. The scene is the stuff of legend, so let me give some facts based on my observations, so facts according to me:

1. Chandeliers - Yes. People have chandeliers hanging from their tent supports. Sometimes they even have blue and red crystals. (School colors, y'all).


Friday, November 22, 2013

Catch Up - Teacher Appreciation Breakfast

Some of you have probably been wondering why I haven't been posting as often. Well, maybe only Dad has actively wondered that, but it might have occurred to one or two of you that I haven't been posting as regularly. This post is the first in a series of updates of what I've been up to off-line, because as everyone knows, it hasn't really happened until the Internet know about it. In the last six weeks I've been lucky enough to be in some way involved with four fall sports, housebreaking a puppy, two kid birthdays, my birthday, Halloween, Mom's birthday, Thanksgiving preparations, teacher appreciation breakfast, field trips, and a trip to Mississippi. I've been so busy gearing up for and recovering from these activities, that I haven't had time to write about any of it.

So, here we go with the Teacher Appreciation Breakfast. In addition to my room parenting duties for the Baby's and the Boy's classes, I signed on to help organize the Teacher Appreciation Breakfast that the Boy's class co-hosted earlier in November. Actually, it was just last week. My Lord, it seems like 50 years ago. Anyway, if you have kids in school, you probably know the deal with Teacher Appreciation Breakfasts. A class or two host the event and parents bring in refreshments for the teachers and support staff to show how much we appreciate all their hard work dealing with our little darlings all day. Trust me, an entire day on a field trip with the Boy's class and I was pretty well convinced that all teachers are saints, superheroes, and possibly insane.

BTW, if you're stuck on a teacher gift (I find male teachers a little more difficult to buy for), Cafe Press has some clever teacher t-shirts:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Decatur Ghost Tour

Guys, this is huge! The Girl had a birthday party and I didn't hate it! In fact, I really, really liked it! I've posted before about how kid birthday parties are not my favorite way to spend time. In fact, I'd rather coat myself in honey and sit on an anthill, but enough with my crazy hobbies. The Girl's 10th birthday is coming up and she was very specific with what she wanted, which was a small sleepover with only three friends. Even though the small size would be easier for me, I had some pangs that she didn't want to invite more girls because I hate for anyone to be left out. Also, I'm a total masochist.

The Girl and I had been concocting the big party activity since this summer when we had a chance meeting on the Decatur Square. We had just finished dinner with friends at Square Pub (really good food for a bar, plus a children's menu and board games), and were watching our children terrorize smaller children by the old Courthouse when a lady asked if we were there for the Decatur Ghost Tour. I was so intrigued! I live in a town with a ghost tour! Decatur is on the map! Of course, I decided I had to go, because my bucket list only includes activities within a five mile radius of home. Since I'm all about multitasking, I suggested/pushed the tour on the Girl as a birthday party activity. Thanks to Harry Potter, Wizards of Waverly Place, and the Haunted Hathaways, the kids are learning about paranormal activity earlier and earlier and I don't want her to get left behind.

Oh, my gosh, the Ouija board! When I was a kid, my next door neighbor brought her Ouija board over to my house and we sat in the dark and asked the board all kinds of bizarre questions: "Is disco really dead?" "Will Sonny and Cher get back together?" "Who shot J.R.?"

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to Lose An Entire Week in Seven Days

On Thursdays, I often find myself wondering where the week has gone and why I have made no kind of forward progress on anything. At best, I'm in the same position as I was in at the beginning of the week, at worst I'm behind on even my most basic household chores and the children are eating pickles for breakfast because I have nothing else to feed them. This week was special because by Tuesday the week was already shot to hell. I sit here knowing that I will get nothing done this week. We will be one week closer to the girls' birthdays, one week closer to Thanksgiving, one week closer to Christmas, and I will have done nothing to prepare for any of this. I like to think this is because of matters outside of my control, but the truth is that I do plenty of procrastinating which doesn't help the situation.

Since the Internet loves lists, I thought I'd give you a step-by-step guide of how to lose a week in seven days. I fully expect that this list will be optioned as a rom-com starring Kate Hudson in the near future. Aside: Stranger things have happened! What to Expect When You're Expecting was made into a movie. If you're not familiar with the source material, What to Expect is a plot-less nonfiction book that guides pregnant women through all the shocking things happening to their bodies when they're pregnant, with exciting bonus features including everything that might go terribly wrong and kill them and/or their unborn child. Only Hollywood could turn this into a comedy starring Chris Rock. 

I had no desire to see this movie, so I don't actually know what is going on here, but I imagine it's a big
funny that dads go overboard in getting geared up for an outing with their babies. Because: Panic! Babies!
You know what? In real life dads don't take anything for outings with their kids:
Coats when it's 20 degrees? Snacks when they'll be out all day with no access to food?
A diaper bag for an infant? These are all silly luxuries that an overprotective mom packs
because she's too uptight. Dads just go with the flow, amiright?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This Is Absolutely NOT a Pinterest Tutorial

Years from now, I'd like to be able to look back at this post and think, "I may get lost on my way to the bathroom, but at least I don't spend my time making pumpkin sculptures and stringing donuts." Oh dear, have I lost you already? You might remember that the Baby's school held a fall festival over the weekend for which I had two responsibilities: manning the donut bobbing race (because I love me a good hunk o' fried sugar-dough) and making an auction-worthy project out of pumpkins and recycled material.

I know that you've spent your weekend wondering how all of this turned out: Was the paper maché pumpkin a success? Will you be posting a tutorial of your work on Pinterest? Were there protesters at the donut bobbing race? I mean, who wasn't thinking about these pressing, vital matters this weekend??At the risk of being labeled, "too negative," I have to answer "no" to all three questions.

First, let's talk about the paper maché, AKA the paper trashé. The other room mom was in charge of having the kids help out with this project. We found a picture on Pinterest and checked out the tutorial. The finished product was supposed to look like this:

I now present our version:

Whomp, whomp. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Six Public School Policies that Have Changed for the Better

I try to avoid posting anything provocative on Facebook. I have friends from across the political spectrum and I want to keep liking them, so I really prefer not to know how they feel about global warming and American immigration policy. Sometimes, though, I unwittingly post something that I think is just silly and innocuous but that takes on a life of its own. Here's what I mean:

The back story is that the Baby's school has a fall fundraiser and each class is assigned a different activity station. Our class was assigned to the obstacle course, until the class assigned to the donut bobbing race requested to be switched because some parent or parents didn't like the idea of feeding kids fried, processed food at a carnival. Now, my issue with this is the inconsistency. If you're going to take a hard line stand against donuts, go all the way. If donuts are so bad, then why not try to get the game changed to apple bobbing or tofu bobbing or kale bobbing? Just refusing to be the one feeding the children unhealthy foods, but being perfectly okay with someone else feeding the kids unhealthy foods just makes me think that you're sitting around clicking your tongue and feeling superior as I peddle trans fats to preschoolers. Although I don't know for a fact, I assume that the objector is one parent who has unusually strong convictions about diet and food. I think the position is a little extreme, but keep in mind that this is coming from someone who very briefly toyed with being a vegetarian, but then decided that it might inconvenience potential dinner party hosts. That is to say, I have no convictions.

My post received about 30 comments, many from people citing their own examples of how (as one friend put it) we're all losing our collective minds. Schools are banning balls on the playground to prevent injuries, all junk food is being removed from school vending machines, and school are suspending kids for making a gun gesture. So, have these regulations gone too far? That's a matter of opinion. I like to think that some school policies and traditions have changed for the better in my lifetime. I've been pondering (seriously) all the ways in which I think school policies are better now than they were when I was a kid.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Craft Crap

Hey, remember last year when I started this blog and I attempted some craft projects? Mostly they turned out badly and I hope that made everyone feel better about themselves. In the last year, I've realized that my talents do not lie in the world of crafting. I'm not sure where my talents do lie, but at least I've eliminated one possibility. Thanks to Pinterest, I am completely convinced that I am in the bottom 10% of the populace in my crafting ability. One of the worst things about the Internet is how it lays bare our inadequacies in a very efficient manner. If I lived in 1913, I'd know that Mary (they were all named Mary) on the next farm churned butter better than I did or was a better seamstress, but I would have no idea about Mary in Minnesota or Mary in Texas or Marie in Paris. But we now have Pinterest to humble us. My lack of crafting skills has been reenforced recently as I try to help the Baby's class with a project to be auctioned at her school's fall festival. The class project must involve a pumpkin and recycled materials. Guys! What? This reminds me of like, Project Runway, where Heidi Klum or Tim Gunn (voice of Baileywick on Sofia the First) tells the designers that they have to construct a couture gown out of disposable diapers. And, somehow, they do it!

We don't need to get into what we decided to do for our recycled pumpkin craft because: 1. It will probably not work, and 2. If it's as bad as I think, I'll share pictures next week and we'll all get a good chuckle. Getting back to my main point (yes, I have one), the shear volume of stuff that people have figured out you can use to make other stuff is literally staggering. Yes, for all you people who hate when people use "literally" when they really mean "figuratively," I totally stumbled away from my laptop and fell on the floor when I saw this:

Pumpkin made of a dryer vent.
Now, I just have one question: Why? Look, dryer venting costs $9.99 at Home Depot, Krylon orange glitter spray paint is $9.61 on Amazon, a bottle of cinnamon sticks (the stem) is $5.48 at Walmart, and I'll just spot you the rustic moss stuff. So, you're spending over $25 on materials to make these guys, while you can buy three pumpkins (real, live pumpkins) for $12 at Whole Paycheck. Plus, you'll save yourself a bunch of time and you're not causing a run on dryer vents so that the people who actually need dryer venting for, oh say, their dryers will be able to buy them when they need them!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Who's Your Daddy?

In the October issue of Vanity Fair, Maureen Orth talks to actress Mia Farrow about her humanitarian work, her family, her former lovers, and the scandalous end to her relationship with former partner, Woody Allen. Orth asks Farrow point-blank, about a long-circulating rumor about the paternity of her son, Ronan Farrow, who was always identified as the only biological child of Farrow and Allen: Could Ronan be Frank Sinatra's biological son? "Possibly," responded Farrow.

Ronan Farrow responded to the hubbub over his paternity on Twitter:

No, no, no! With all due respect to Ronan Farrow, a former child prodigy who began college at 11, graduated from Yale Law School, attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, and has served in the Obama administration, we are all not *possibly* Frank Sinatra's son. That's not to say that some family relationships aren't in question. For instance, Nick Jonas is *possibly* the second cousin once removed of President Franklin Pierce (aka friendly Frank Pierce, alcoholic from New Hampshire):

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dog People

"Dogs don't shit where they sleep." The first time I heard this was my first year in law school, and a 3L said it to us as a warning to not date other students in our section. (Which advice I ignored, of course. And, of course, not only did I have to see the guy every day for the entire year, we now live in the same town and I periodically have to studiously ignore him when I see him shopping at Publix.) Up until two weeks ago, I thought that this saying was figurative, but now that we are dog owners, I have learned that dogs really don't shit where they sleep. Thank goodness, because they are happy to shit anywhere else.

We picked up our little puppy in Virginia, very early on the last day of our whirlwind D.C. "vacation." Sister was nice enough to drive the K and the Girl to the breeder in Clarke County, which is about 65 miles from Washington. This meant that they left the hotel at o'dark thirty in the morning so that we could all still make our flight home. Sister sent this picture of the Girl and her new friend:

I know. Very cute.

She was still cute when we met her in person at the combination dog walk and smoking area at Reagan-National Airport:

The cute thing only lasts for so long. Now that I know this puppy a little better, I can't tell you how surprised I am that she is not lurching at the leash to eat those cigarette butts.

Just between you, me and the Internet (I guess that would be among us), I don't really like dogs. They're just like these furry jumping, licking, pooping, humping, butt-smelling creatures. I recently read that a "major" University of Texas study showed that dog people are "more extroverted, more agreeable, and more conscientious" than cat people. Cat lovers were found to be "less traditional, more creative, and more neurotic." A few questions: (1) what is going on at UT that they're doing studies on cat people and dog people? 2) Do you know a Texan with a cat? There is no way that this study wasn't inherently biased. (3) Who funded this study, the dog lobby? I smell a Rat. Terrier. Based on this (likely to be flawed) survey, I meet 2/3 of the cat person criteria. Since I'm a SAHM who never met an oxford cloth button down shirt that I didn't like and I don't have a single tattoo, I can't really claim to be "less traditional." But, I suppose I could be described as creative-ish and I'm definitely neurotic. The question is, am I dog-person enough to adjust to life with Dog?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How You Doin', Mr. President?

On Friday, our last full day in Washington, I awoke in a foul mood. This was due in part to our sleeping arrangements. With two double beds and a sleeper sofa in the common area, we had to get creative with the sleeping partner combinations. Somehow I ended up with the Girl for two nights and it was not the angelic mother-daughter sleeping experience I had envisioned. We did not, for example, wear flowing white embroidered peignoirs (out of flannel or something conservative, naturally), and braid each other's hair while watching HGTV. Instead, we both collapsed into bed exhausted and cranky and slept fitfully: She, because she was apparently dreaming about playing tennis and me because she seemed to think I was a tennis ball.

This tender moment has to be a lie. Whenever I sleep
in a bed with one of the kids, I end up getting
kicked, hit, or drooled on.  
I hadn't really planned anything for the beginning of our day on Friday because we had such big plans for the afternoon. We had the amazing opportunity to go to the White House! I know! So, I had thoughts that we'd spend the morning visiting a museum close to the hotel and then ironing outfits, taking showers, and braiding hair (while watching HGTV, naturally). Just like our sleeping arrangement, this vision was quickly replaced with real life.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Boats, Shakes, and Spies

Thursday was our first full day in Washington, and I had planned ahead by booking us seats on a DC Duck Tour in the morning and making reservations at the International Spy Museum in the afternoon. The Boy was still feverish, the Girl was still limping, and the Baby was still incapable of walking a city block without turning around with her hands in the air and moaning, "cawey me!" Despite all this, we were going to have some fun! The Duck Tours depart from Union Station, which allowed me to reminisce to the children all my fond memories of the venerable train station. I mentioned the time that I bought a scarf at the Putumayo clothing store in the retail area at Union Station in the early 90's, before I realized that I wasn't a scarf person (and before Putumayo realized it was a world music company, not a clothing company). And, I told them that the Pizzeria Uno has been in the same spot on the upper level since I visited Union Station in high school. "When was that? The 1900's or something?" the Girl asked. Well, I never! Yes, but it was the late 1900's.

Pizzeria Uno in Union Station in 1990, or perhaps 2013. Who knows?
Obviously, the children were not entertained by my Union Station memories, which was unfortunately as we were quite early for the tour and had some time to kill. This is bad news because whenever the Baby gets bored and we're at a new place, her bladder shrinks to the size of a quarter and she'll whisper in her little voice,"Mommy, I need to use the westwoom." I'm fairly sure that it's just her love of public restrooms and not an actual physical need that is driving her request. Public bathrooms are generally just gross. Navigating public bathrooms with three children of different genders is highly inconvenient. I do love a nice family bathroom because it spares me the mental gymnastics involved in figuring out how whether it's more potentially damaging to take an eight-year-old boy to the women's room or send him alone into the men's room. Similarly, I haven't solved what to do with him while I take the Baby to the women's bathroom, except to have him loiter in the hallway outside the restroom like a pervert. If anyone has figured out how to do this, please let me know!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Freestyling, Flying Things, and Oblique References

Since we arrived at our hotel before noon, we had the entire afternoon to drag our exhausted/injured/sick children around Washington, D.C. And by "we," I mean "me" because the K had to go to work. His firm has a Washington, D.C. office so that he didn't have to miss a minute of the glamorous world of practicing law for a family vacay (insert emoticon with one wryly raised eyebrow). He was able to join us for lunch and was nice enough to pick a spot (BGR, The Burger Joint) and map out directions on his phone. Unfortunately, he selected driving directions, so we traversed nearly the entire circumference of Dupont Circle moving with the traffic, before we arrived at Connecticut Avenue, which was only two streets over from our starting point had we walked against the traffic. Did I mention that it was 98 degrees? When we finally reached Connecticut Avenue, we walked right past the restaurant, which was on the other side of the street, and were halfway to Maryland before we realized our mistake. At this point, the Baby decided that she could no longer walk and I completed the Butaan Death March to BGR carrying 98.6 degrees and 40 pounds of Baby. I wasn't exactly wowed by my veggie burger, but the kids seemed to like their sliders well enough. They did have one of those fancy Coke Freestyle machines:

Over 125 different Coca-Cola flavors. Read all about it in Wikipedia
Naturally, the children had to help me figure out how to use it because I was probably dehydrated from our flight and carrying the Baby all over God's green earth (err, well, God's grey sidewalk littered with homeless people). It certainly couldn't be that they had to help me because I am old. Certainly not!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Gimme a Break

Didn't Nell Carter have a way with words? I think that I've mentioned before that our school district is on a balanced schedule, which is a fancy way of saying that the kids have two months off during the summer and four one-week breaks during the year. Although,"break" is kind of a misnomer, if you ask me. First of all, it's not a break for me to have to entertain the children for an additional eight hours a day, and it's not a break to plan a vacation and play cruise director, so I'm not calling them breaks anymore. I'm calling them continuations.

So, for our Fall Continuation, we planned to visit Sister who lives in Washington, D.C. We all know what happened last time our family traveled to the Nation's Capital. That's right, lice-a-palooza 2011. I had high hopes for this trip, because how can you really top discovering a head lice infestation at 9:00 pm, the night before you are scheduled to tour the White House? Admittedly, it would be tough, especially because we couldn't go for the whole week because the K had to work. But, we had a full compliment of activities scheduled for our Wednesday through Saturday trip including museums, meeting the president and vice president, and getting a puppy. Do you think I'm joking? I am not. We are just that bad ass.

Our saga began on Saturday, the first day of "continuation" when the Baby came down with a fever of 103. I dosed her up with Motrin and resigned us all to waiting out the illness. How long could it last? Surely she would be better by the time we left on Wednesday. On Saturday night, while I was checking on the Baby's fever, I heard a crash from the Girl's room. She had woken up from a deep sleep and found that she had pins and needles in her foot (I would say that her foot fell asleep, but then, she was asleep, so that would be confusing.) She jumped out of bed and tried to shake her foot awake and inadvertently banged it on the bed frame. She seemed okay at the time and went back to sleep.

The next morning there was no change to the Baby's fever and I was so consumed with keeping track of her temperature and giving her Motrin and Tylenol that I completely ignored the Girl who complained that her foot was bothering her from where she kicked the bed frame. I think it's an unwritten rule of parenting that the kid with the fever gets more attention than the kid with unspecified orthopedic complaints, unless a bone is sticking through the skin. Speaking of breaks...


Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm Just a Girl Who Cain't Say No

Well, it's that time of year again. Every fall since the kids started school I tell myself that this is going to be the year that I take Nancy Reagan's sage advice and just say no. Of course, Nancy was talking about drugs and I'm talking about being a room parent, but the tag line is the same. Oh sure, some might say that drugs are more harmful than being a room parent, but those people haven't seen me crying on my computer keyboard when I realize that I have to plan a holiday party that can't include the word "holiday" or the word "party." And they haven't seen me studying food labels at the supermarket to make sure that no food we are serving has even stolen a furtive glance with peanuts, eggs, milk, gluten, or red dye. I'll bet that some drugs would be more enjoyable, just not the really addictive ones that make your teeth fall out.

Before this school year started I vowed that I would not be a room parent. I kept on telling myself that I was turning over a new leaf. No more volunteering! This was my year to relinquish control and let someone else plan the class holiday book swap. Well, how you think that worked out? I'll give you a hint - I haven't been blogging much lately, have I? My delusions were so bad that I had to stage an intervention with myself. I sat myself down and said, "look, we have been down this road before. No one is going to volunteer to be room parent and you're going to think about how you've done it six times and that it's one of the few things that you are currently qualified to do. It's room parenting and lice treatments. That's all you've got! And, on the off chance that someone else actually does volunteer, you know that you are a super-critical moaner and if that poor soul who volunteered to be room parent doesn't know what she's doing, you'll bitch and complain about her doing a shitty job and that's unfair to everyone. This is going to happen. You know that you will be a room parent. It is your destiny." Then I punched myself in the face for being such a know-it-all.

Apologies for defacing this lovely piece of clip-art.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Buyer's Remorse

Here's what you need to know about me and flash sales aka timed online designer clearance aka One King's Lane, Joss & Main, Gilt, Rue La La, Zulily or any of the ilk of websites that deal in discount premium sample sales:

I think that the spirit of nearly all my blog posts can be captured in
someecards format. 
All that pressure of knowing that there are only "3 left!" or that it's the "last one!" and that it will be removed from my basket in 15 minutes if I don't buy it has forced me to into the worst impulse purchases. I only have myself to blame by getting distracted by the timer in the corner of my computer screen and failing to note details like size and materials of products. I am incapable of selecting items properly and, as a result, I have all these random things that I don't like and I can't return. Here are some examples of my worst mistakes.

Example 1: "Rustic Fish Sculpture" -

This was a recent Joss & Main purchase. I ordered it late at night and I blame grogginess on my failure to read any of the specifications on this bad-boy, including size and material. In the above picture you can see that I used a Monopoly house to show scale. It's easily over a foot tall and made out of a resin product that has been unconvincingly textured to look like old wood. Any sighted person would not be fooled into thinking that an old fisherman in a New England fishing village whittled this out of a piece of driftwood. After it has served out its purpose by being publicly called out in this blog, I literally have no idea what to do with it. Like everything from these companies, there are no returns and it just sits around giving me the fishy eyeball:

It's totally mocking my stupidity. I can tell.
For some reason, I thought that the fish would be the size of a stick of butter or a newborn panda (does anyone else think it's funny that baby pandas are always described as being the size of a stick of butter?) Instead it's the size of a regulation football, if a football also had a tail. Clearly, I would have been a terrible engineer or architect for many reasons, but one is that when I see a measurement, I have a very poor sense of how much space that measurement occupies in real life. And yes, I know that there is an off-color joke at my expense in here somewhere, but I am too much of a lady to make it. Ahem.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Deferred Maintenance

I've been busy the last two weeks taking care of all those things I failed to do for the last ten years during which time I was only alone for three consecutive hours at a stretch. I suppose I could have been cleaning out closets, organizing papers, and scrubbing mildew off our screened porch all along, but when you only have a short amount of truly free time, you tend to not want to spend it doing something that is deadly boring or unpleasant, even if it is necessary. I think this applies to people with very time-consuming jobs, as well. When I was working 12-hour days as a lawyer, I really didn't want to spend my non-working hours doing housework or creating a filing system for my important papers. I wanted to watch The Bachelor and eat carbs.

The deferred maintenance doesn't just apply to our house. I, myself, had some deferred maintenance, as well. The first full week that the kids were at school, I managed to schedule a haircut and a pedicure. What I really need is a facial and some laser treatments on my freckles, but that seemed like a lot in one week, so instead I bought this thing:

It's called the Clarisonic Mia 2 and Sister recommended it when we were in Maine this summer. Apparently, all her fancy, beautiful friends use it, too. No one told me that this is what people who take care in their appearance use to wash their faces! (Aside: After my second year in law school our whole class had to take a class in trial techniques. We pretended to be real lawyer and delivered opening statements, questioned witnesses, and all that jazz. Our performances were video taped and we got to take our tapes to various actors employed to critique our performance. My tape was critiqued by Jo Ann Pflug who gave me some pointers on making eye-contact and then said, "you would be an attractive girl if you just took some care in your appearance." In retrospect she was 100% correct, but I was quite offended. Additionally, it's good that Wikipedia wasn't around back then because, at the time, all I knew was that Jo Ann Pflug was in M*A*S*H and Laugh In. Now I see that I was insulted by Chuck Woolery's ex-wife!)

I really like the Clarisonic. I'm not sure it makes a huge difference in the way my skin looks, but my skin definitely feels cleaner, which is probably more important. I bought mine at Nordstrom, because it was on sale and came in fun colors. Washing your face isn't that exciting, so you should probably enjoy some aspect of the process. It's also available on Amazon for about $20 less, but the Nordstrom one came with a bag, replacement brush head, and two kinds of cleanser. If you bought those extras separately, I think you'd end up spending about $20 and the Amazon one was in light pink instead of persimmon, which is obviously a superior color.

The best thing about the purchase was that when the Baby saw it, she whispered to me, "you can get one of those to remove the hair from your body." In case you are wondering how she became familiar with hair removal systems, I can only assume that it's because the children discovered Full House this summer. I knew that the advertising on that program skewed towards depressed drug-addicts (see below), but I guess that perhaps these people are depressed drug addicts because they are very hairy, because No! No! Hair also advertises:

 This does contradict my working theory which was that the people watching Full House are depressed and taking drugs because they are watching Full House.

Monday, August 12, 2013

At Least it Didn't Rain

The Boy's birthday was last week and he wanted to celebrate in typical fashion: a dinner of veggie burgers, broccoli, and playing lots of Scrabble. Isn't that what all 8-year-olds want to do on their birthdays? Oh wait, no that's what most 80-year-olds want to do on their birthday. What can I say? The kid has the interests and tastes of a senior citizen. In fact, when he was six his Christmas list included slippers, a subscription "to that newspaper that Granddad gets" (The New York Times), and a deck of playing cards. One of my friends "adopted" an elderly man at a local retirement home and his Christmas wish list was nearly identical to the Boy's.

Thank goodness he spared me for his friend birthday party this year and I didn't have to come up with ideas for a "Canadian" party (read all about it here). He wanted a baseball party where he and his friends actually played baseball. Considering that last year's party involved renting a snow-making machine, baseball was a pretty easy assignment.

I have to admit, snow in August was pretty cool. 
I reserved a field at a local park and prayed that it wouldn't rain because my plan B was...well, to be honest, there never really was a plan B. I obsessively checked the forecast starting ten days out and was relieved that despite having a ton of rain this summer, Sunday which was party day, was supposed to be hot and sunny with only a slight chance of rain.

Meanwhile, (because God forbid I just work on one thing at a time), I was making arrangements to return our Gerbil Exchange Student, Ella Cookie, to the Baby's former preschool teacher. Ella Cookie has been living with us since the end of May and it was time to say farewell.

The Baby's teacher and I exchanged several emails regarding arrangements for Ella Cookie and it was decided that another teacher at the school who lives on our street would pick up Ella Cookie today (Monday) and take him to school. Yeah! Not that Ella Cookie hasn't been a good guest, but I'm ready to have the enormous glass fish tank full of rodent accouterments out of our study.

So, early Sunday morning I went into the study and saw that Ella Cookie was lying very still on the side of the tank. Having watched the BrainPOP video discussed here, I was pretty sure that Ella Cookie was not sleeping. Although there were no flies, she looked pretty, well, dead.

I was conflicted. In fact, I had three thoughts running through my head simultaneously: 1. I'm sad that Ella Cookie is dead, 2. What am I going to say to the kids? 3. Why the fuck couldn't it have lived one more fucking day so I didn't have to deal with this.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Genetic Crapshoot

When I was a kid I overheard my parents talking about friends of theirs who were an objectively good-looking couple, but whose toddler daughter was decidedly homely. "What can you do?" Dad said, shrugging, "genetics are a crapshoot." Dad repeated this phrase throughout my childhood whenever we were faced with some aberration. For instance, Dad was big on telling bedtime stories about the presidents (I know, I know), and he told me that President John Adams's son, John Quincey Adams was also president. "Did he have any other children?" I asked. "Oh yes, but they didn't really accomplish anything. In fact, one of them died of alcoholism. Genetics are a crapshoot, honey." I was maybe six, but well on my way to being indoctrinated. Another time we were behind a car emblazoned withe with college stickers proclaiming: Harvard! Columbia! Princeton! University of West Virginia! Dad shook his head, "that, m' dear is clear evidence that genetics are a crapshoot."

As an aside, what do we think about the RIP stickers on back windshields? Is this just a southern thing? Here's an example:

As an aside to the aside, isn't it sad that kids today don't know Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes as a smart, funny cartoon character, but rather as a sadistic-looking kid who pisses on various things, i.e.:

And there are hundreds more. To paraphrase and misquote Field of Dreams, if you build it, cartoon Calvin will piss on it, no questions asked.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

First Day!

Unbelievably, the first day of school in our district is August 1st, which makes us the only people in the country who don't feel like the back-to-school advertisements are obnoxiously early. This year we have new schools for the Girl and the Baby and same-old, same-old for the Boy, who is just happy to finally put first grade behind him. If you think that I took the fact that my children have to go to three different schools in stride, you'd be one of the people I've conned into thinking I'm laid back and relaxed. In fact, I have been in a dead panic for several weeks and have succeeded in alienating the K and a number of friends and acquaintances with my complaints and concerns. Basically, I have felt much like this poor bird who got trapped in our screened porch:

This happened yesterday, and if such a thing happened in a novel, I would think it was heavy-handed symbolism. The good news is that he either found his way out or died and his body is in an inconspicuous location.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Family Photo Advice - Hire a Professional

I know it seems early to be discussing holiday cards, but as far as I'm concerned, get 'em done as early as possible. Also, I'm going with "holiday" cards because I have lots of Jewish friends and family members and I feel like it's unfair to foist my particular religious views upon them. If I didn't celebrate Christmas and got a card that was all, "Merry Christmas! Let us all rejoice in the Savior's birth," I'd be irritated. To me it's like telling people, "I hope you enjoy my birthday!" So, I stick with "Happy Holidays" which covers everyone. It's just too darned expensive to get one set of cards that says, "Merry Christmas" and another set that says, "Happy Belated Hanukkah! Enjoy your Chinese food and movie on December 25th."

Certainly this must be fake. It's too perfect.

 But, again, I digress from my original topic of holiday pictures. When the Girl and the Boy were little, I attempted to take their pictures for our holiday cards. This generally went like this:

The poor Boy is sending you a telepathic message: "Save me."
More of my 2005 holiday photo attempts after the jump...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cost Benefit Analysis Parenting

It might surprise the people who know me in real life that I minored in economics in college. I made this decision for the reason I do a lot of things, someone else told me that it would be a good idea. This strategy isn't terrible if you're asking the right person for advice. I, of course, did not. The person who convinced me to be an economics minor was my boyfriend at the time. He, himself was an economics major because he was sure that this was the best way to work on Wall Street and make tons of money. However, he was also a terrible student. I mean like, really terrible. The semester we met he was on probation because his grades the previous semester had been something like: F, F, F, D, and a withdraw. I told him that I was impressed with the withdraw because it meant he was sober enough to make it over to the administrative building (which was on another campus), and fill out the papers to withdraw from the class. So, when I was 18, rather than talking to, say, an academic counselor or a dean or (God forbid), my father who is a professor, or any other adult, I took advice from my 19 year-old boyfriend who was mid-way through flunking out of college. Good Lord, it sounds even more insane when I write it than when I just think about it.

I slogged my way through micro and macro economics making mediocre grades that I earned by having an only mediocre grasp of the material. By the time I broke up with the boyfriend at the end of my junior year, it was too late to switch to something else. For years, whenever I revised my resume, my economics minor was a reminder of that relationship.  There's nothing fun about reminders of failed relationships, but a college minor is certainly better than a tattoo...or a child.

I wonder if Ryan Phillippe looks at his daughter Ava, slaps
his forehead and says, "oh right! That's from when
I was married to Reese Witherspoon!"

Looking on the bright side, if I hadn't minored in economics, I never would have learned about cost benefit analysis.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Flowers and Puppies

You know what the world needs more of right now? Pictures of flowers and puppies, of course!


One of the most amazing/jealousy-inducing things about Mainers (for real, that's what they're called) is their ability to grow the most beautiful flowers. You drive past a place and think, surely that must be a uber-fancy, speciality garden store, but BAM, it's Walmart. I tried to find a picture of the planters outside Walmart by searching Google images and found this:

Nancy Morgan Barnes, "Twister at the Rockland Walmart"

and this:

Hiram Berry, who just married Oliver Martinez in France.
Oh wait, that's Halle Berry. My bad!
and this:
This makes so little sense, I don't know where to begin. Aztec rug?
Urban slang use in the second whitest state in the U.S.?
Possible infringement on Tyler Perry's intellectual property?
But, what do I know about Maine marketing?
 Apparently, it is a thriving business.
If you're ever in a bad mood, just put a random search into Google Images and you'll be laughing, or at least scratching your head, within minutes. I know Google has the best algorithm for searches, but the images it picks up are delightfully bizarre. But I digress...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Good News, Bad News

Good News: The Maine heat wave finally broke on Monday.

Bad News: It has been rainy and chilly since then.

Good News: The Girl has finally gotten used to sleeping in the rental cottage and no longer thinks that it's a haunted death-trap.

Bad News: Her fears vanished about the same time that she sprained her finger during some vigorous goalie practice. Someone *cough, cough the K cough* needs to save the power kicks for his pick-up games with Hope Solo.

Bad News: Her injured finger is the middle one, so she has flipped off me, the K, Sister, Dad, the X-Ray technician at Pen-Bay Medical Center, several nurses, and a cashier at the grocery store showing off the injury.

Good News: It's not broken.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sleepin' and Puffin

On Saturday afternoon, we moved over to a rental house because seven people and a dog in 800 square feet is a little close, especially when it's over 85 degrees at night and there is no air conditioning. The cabin we rented is about a half mile down the road from Dad's place. I was looking forward to having more room to spread out and everyone getting more sleep. Well, that didn't exactly happen. At all.

We'd never been in this particular cabin and the floor plan is a little bit wonky. There are two sets of stairs, so that two bedrooms and a bathroom can be reached by one set of steps at the front of the house and three bedrooms and two baths can be reached by a second set of steps at the back of the house. The  house is also, shall we say, traditional, classic, untouched, historic, all those adjectives that when you see them in a real estate listing are code for old. This doesn't bother me too much, as all the houses I lived in growing up were traditional, classic, untouched, and historic. But the Girl was not in love with the house. I'm not sure if it was the bad feng shui, or the vague smell of old person, but she was majorly unhappy with the move.

I don't know if this happens in other families, but in our family, anxiety is contagious. If one kid is afraid of swimming in deep water, he or she convinces the others to be afraid of swimming in deep water. If one kid is afraid of dogs, pretty soon they're all jumping into my arms at the sight of a dog. So, after five minutes of crying and chewing on her nails and wailing about the burglars who were sure to break into the cabin, and the ghosts who were sure to be roaming the halls, and the fires that were sure to spontaneously combust us all, all three kids were wringing their hands and moaning.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hot Enough for Ya?

I hate to complain about hot, sunny weather because I know my friends in Atlanta are about to start building arks because it has been raining for so long, but Maine isn't compatible with 90-plus degree heat. It never really gets that hot up here, houses are built to keep the heat inside during the winter and nothing is air conditioned. When it hits 90 degrees, everyone just sits around going mad from the heat. "But, wait a minute," you say, "can't you just go and jump in that water that is right in front of your damn face?" To which I would respond, "it would have to get a hell of a lot hotter for me to go in that water." But, I am not a small child. Children are oblivious to 50 degree water, so yesterday we took them to one of the few sand beaches in the area, Laite Beach in Camden.

But, let me back up. Prior to going to the beach, we had to buy beach towels, which just goes to show you how rarely anyone goes swimming in the ocean. The girls and I hit T.J. Maxx and picked up five towels. I forced myself to avert my eyes from all the random but temptingly inexpensive items I saw on our walk from the towel aisle to the checkout. I could do some damage at T.J. Maxx.

 While we waited at the check out, a customer was asking one of the cashiers how to roast corn, which is a pretty random thing to ask your cashier at T.J. Maxx, but, oh well. The cashier actually had some experience in the area, and advised the lady to soak the corn overnight in its husk, then remove the corn silk and put it on the grill. Another customer piped up, "then what ya need to do is to roll the corn in mayonnaise and then sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese." Our cashier and I locked eyes in mutual horror for a brief moment. She turned back to scanning our price tags and murmured tactfully, "I prefer butter." Amen, sister.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4th in Maine

Happy Birthday, America! We started out the day in an appropriately manner, with the raising of Old Glory on Dad's new flagpole:

I bought some little American flags at Target before we left Atlanta, and the kids added some patriotic flair to the cottage and the road:

After breakfast we got ready to go the local July 4th parade, which is always entertaining for people-watching, if nothing else. The Boy hates loud noises, people in costumes, being hot, and marching bands. He lucked out because Dad said that he would stay with the Boy at the cottage where they looked up crazy sports team names, listened to classical music, and drank coffee and hot chocolate. Have I mentioned that the Boy and Dad are essentially the same person? They are.