Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween: Rubik's Cube Costume

Best Halloween Ever - 1980, Halloween birthday party. Pre-Pinterest, Mom put together a haunted house in our terrifying-under-normal-circumstances basement. Party guests were blindfolded and touched a dead man's "eyeballs" (peeled grapes), "intestines" (cold spaghetti noodles), and hand (surgical glove filled with wet sand). I dressed like a fortune teller in some hippie clothes borrowed from Mom's artist friend.

Worst Halloween Ever - 1993, Austin, Texas. I woke up to find out that River Phoenix had overdosed outside the Viper Room and (unrelated) that my Toyota Carolla had been towed to a dump/impound lot in southeast Austin.  I spent November 1st bumming a ride to the lot (guarded by an actual junkyard dog) and retrieving my car from a guy who, between his lack of teeth and heavy Texas drawl, was nearly impossible for me to understand. Okay, technically that was the worst November 1st ever, but since the precipitating events actually occurred on October 31st, I'm calling them for Halloween. If only the Internet had been around, I could have crowd-sourced my $75 towing fee like this girl did when she took an unexpectedly pricey Uber.

In other news, someone needs to come up with a funny Uber picture, because this is all the Internet's got:

2010's favorite meme subject, Ryan Gosling:


and, of course:

Let's get some new meme material. I'm old and I've grown bored with Hey, Girl and The Most Interesting Man. I will never say a bad word about Oprah because she could find and destroy me. Plus, this will never not make me laugh. That Oprah, rich as she is, would take a road trip is amazing (even if she made her BFF Gale King do all the driving). You'd never catch Streisand and Walters on a road trip; no makeup, dirty hair, eating Corn Nuts and drinking Mr. Pibb, nary a soft focus filter in sight.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween Teacher Breakfast

At our elementary school, we have a guy called "Bike Dude." Bike Dude is in charge of all of our "Walk and Roll" days, which is the one day each month when kids are encouraged to walk bike or scooter to school. Whenever the Bike Dude's kids graduate from elementary school, we get a new Bike Dude. It's like the new Darren on Bewitched:

Everyone just pretends that this is the only Bike Dude that ever was and the kids don't seem to notice (a sign that all grownups look the same to kids). I've been a parent at the elementary school for so long, I'm on Bike Dude number three. Since the Baby is in kindergarten, I'll probably be looking at Bike Dude five or six before I'm done. Instead of saying, "I've been a parent at this school for nine years (!)," I can just say I've been there for "five Bike Dudes."

So, last year I pledged to volunteer less this year, and I almost succeeded. Yes, almost. After going an oddly long time without any contact from the room parents in the Boy's class, I asked around and learned that due to various issues, all the room parent volunteers, save one, had quit. Quit?! I am kicking myself for never realizing that this was an option! Here I was thinking that being a room parent was like indentured servitude, and that, once committed, I was obliged to serve for a year until I secured my release.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Soccer Match Predictor

I'm sure that some of you, like me, will be attending your kids' soccer matches this weekend. I've discovered that sometimes all you have to do is observe the opposing team and their fans to figure out how a game is going to turn out. I've prepared a test that predicts for you whether it's going to be consolation Powerades at QT or celebratory ice creams at DQ. Answer the questions and check your score at the end of the quiz.

1.  Goalkeeper

The opposing goalkeeper is warming up before the game. +1
The opposing goalkeeper is warming up before the game and has tattoos and visible facial hair (male or female). +2
The opposing goalkeeper is warming up before the game and looks like this:


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Least Sexy Inspirations for Sexy Halloween Costumes

Halloween is just around the corner and I am SOOO excited to see all the people dressed like Ebola doctors in their Tyvex suits:

Of course there will be the inevitable sexy Ebola doctor outfits:

The post-exposure spray down is what makes it sexy. It's just like the water scene in Flashdance:


Friday, October 3, 2014

Update: Atlanta Botanical Garden is Getting a New Restaurant!

Well, apparently I am more influential than I thought because right after I published my scathing review of my e-coli salad from the Atlanta Botanical Garden, I read in the AJC (well, Mom read it and dropped off the article) that the ABG is expanding and the plans include "a two-story restaurant, with a dramatic view of Midtown Atlanta" and salads that aren't black and slimy. It's true! The restaurant "will use many locally sourced foods, including produce from the botanical garden's own edible plants exhibit." Yes! There are also plans to redesign the children's garden, which was last renovated in 2002.

The ABG has undertaken a new capital campaign to raise the $40 million needed for these improvements and is already more than half way to the goal. Anne Cox Chambers, a trustee and longtime supporter of the ABG has pledged $9.6 million. Can you imagine having that much money? Good for her for spending it on something that the community will enjoy instead of a wedding or 225 Hermes Birkins painted with naked demons:


Monday, September 29, 2014

Staycation Day 5: Sky Zone

TGIAO! That's Thank Goodness It's Almost Over, with the "It's" referring to both our staycation week and my blogging about our comings and goings. Yes, those are two things, so "It's" should probably be "They're," but TGTAO is a bad acronym because it could also stand for "Twerking Grandma Throws Ass Out."  In case you hadn't figured, I am really trying to get back into blogging and recapping our week was an easy-ish way to get back into writing daily. Hopefully, once I'm into a routine I'll get back into writing more high-concept posts about dog people and imaginary telephone calls with Dora the Explorer.

To briefly recap earlier events in our staycation; on Monday night I discovered that the two Sky Zone trampoline parks closest to us did not open until 4pm. This was a major disappointment for the kids, particularly the Boy who didn't want to do anything other than visit Sky Zone and play Minecraft for his week off. Turned out that there is a third Sky Zone location in Kennesaw, which is even farther than the other two locations. But, the Kennesaw location was opening at noon because some schools in the area had the same random break week that we did. Hallelujah! I bought hour long jump passes for noon, because Google Maps was predicting a trip time of an hour and we had to book it back to our natural surroundings by 2 pm for the Boy's 9-year-old well appointment at the doctor. Delicious box lunches would be served in the car. With our 60-minutes of physical activity and flu vaccinations, staycation day 5 was unofficially sponsored by the CDC.

Getting a jump on National Handwashing Week and realizing that
I've been washing my hands wrong for my entire life. And that was
the one thing I thought I was doing right!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Staycation Day 4: Recreational Slumming

We changed things up on Staycation Day 4 because I had an appointment in the morning, so Grammy generously offered to watch the kids. The kids are a little more rambunctious than Sister and I were as children, so I'm fairly sure that the second they leave Grammy's house she pours herself a glass of wine and takes a nap. Grammy already has her hands full trying to train Hello Puppy, who is just about the cutest puppy ever. But as anyone who has tried to train a dog will tell you, cuteness is in the eye of the person not getting woken up at 4 am to watch the puppy sniff the grass for ten minutes and not pee. I hoped that the kids would help out with Hello Puppy, who they all seem to like better than the Dog. You might be wondering how Hello Puppy and Dog get along. Well, the first time they met, the Dog was thrilled to find something over which she could exert dominance (her usual M.O. is to try to take down the Baby). They chased each other and tumbled around on the floor and then the Girl said, "Look, [the Dog] is trying to play wheelbarrow with the puppy!" Yesssss, that's exactly what's happening.

Just as a palate cleanser, here is a dog pushing a wheelbarrow:

Just so you don't get the idea that I was doing something fun for myself, I had a physical therapy appointment for my back. Going to PT has a certain Hotel California-like quality to it. Time loses all significance and when I leave, sometimes after two hours, I can't for the life of me explain what took so long. I also feel a little dishrag-tired, especially if I've had dry needling. After PT, all I want to do is go home and relax. When the kids are in school, at least that's an option (even if I rarely just sit around and relax). Unfortunately, with the kids on break, what I had to do was entertain three children who were tired of spending time together.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Staycation Day 3: Atlanta Botanical Garden

Part of the reason that we didn't travel for fall break is because we had to do some work around the house. I feel like home improvements fall into two categories: improvements of omission and improvements of commission. In law school you learn that you can be charged with a crime of commission, which is an overt act like stealing a loaf of bread. But, you can also be charged with a crime of omission, which would be failing to do something that you're supposed to do like not paying income taxes (take note, Jersey Shore cast members). So, if you're thinking about home improvements, there are things that are genuine improvements to your property, like adding an outdoor fireplace, or remodeling a bathroom. These are improvements of commission. Then there are improvements that are just expected, but if you don't have them...people notice.   For example, if you buy a new hot water heater, no one is going to compliment you on the temperature of your water.  ("It is truly a pleasure to wash my hands at your house because the water is just so temperate," said no one ever.) However, if you don't have hot water, people will be like, "what? You have no hot water? What are you, a polar bear?" These are improvements of omission, only noted if you omit doing them.

In any case, our home improvement was of the omission variety. So, we had to spend a chunk of change on something that no one will ever notice AND no fall break trip.

This is my reaction to a cold shower, even though it is
supposedly good for you

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stacation Day 2: Panic and Clue Town

Not to toot my own horn, but I thought that Stacation Day 1 went pretty smoothly. The complaints were minimal, we all enjoyed the Aquarium and I ended the day thinking I was pretty much the best mother on the earth. Even better, the kids were super excited about our plan to go to Sky Zone on Tuesday and I was excited about visiting Ballard Designs outlet which is conveniently located next to the Roswell Sky Zone. It was a winning plan for all, which is why I was totally bummed when I looked at the Sky Zone Roswell website and saw that it opened at 4 pm. What? I get that when kids are in school, the pool of likely candidates to play trampoline basketball goes way down, but certainly someone can come up with some kind of trampoline exercise for adults. A quick Google search and...oh, of course:

I chose to picture the German version because I think it's kind of funny that it says, "Die Personal Trainerin," which is probably how many people feel after doing trampoline exercise with Gwyneth Paltrow's personal trainer. I'm a little worried, though, that Tracy's shoulders are all jacked-up from getting injured on the trampoline. Her posture looks a little weird, no? But, the point is that Sky Zone has an untapped revenue stream and my Day 2 stacation plans were ruined.

There is another (inferior) Sky Zone location in Suwanee (not to be confused with Sewanee, Tennessee home of The University of the South, which no southerner ever calls "The University of South," but instead refer to as "Sewanee."), but even that location wasn't open until 4pm. I went to bed feeling defeated and panicked that I didn't have a plan for the following day and I was going to have to break it to three kids who wore their special Sky Zone jumping socks to bed that we couldn't go.

Well, the news delivery went about as well as I had imagined: yelling, rolling on the floor, and cries of, "it's no fair!" After Sky Zone was off the table, no one wanted to do anything, but I was determined to find something for us to do...whether they liked it or not. Bwahahaha!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stacation Day 1: Georgia Aquarium

Our school system is on a "balanced" schedule, so last week was fall "break." I'm using quotation marks with both because, last week was not much of a break for me and I was left feeling slightly unbalanced. Unfortunately, we were not able to travel for fall break, so I had to travel vicariously through the pictures my friends posted on Instagram and Facebook. I'll admit to having more than a twinge of jealousy when I scrolled through pictures of various beaches, Alaska, Australia, and France.

I knew that if I didn't plan something for us to do each day, we'd be in danger of spending the whole week holed up at home with the Boy playing Minecraft, the Baby watching "Bubble Guppies," and the Girl wanting me to work on craft projects with her. Would this have been okay? Oh, probably, but I didn't want them to go back to school and hear all about their friends' fun vacations and have nothing to offer other than, "I made a diamond pick axe in survival mode." We didn't really leave metro Atlanta for any of the activities. Of course, thanks to suburban sprawl, our trip to Kennesaw, Georgia should qualify as a day-trip. But sadly, Kennesaw, Georgia hardly compares with the Palace of Versailles.


Let them have guns.
Palace of Versailles:

Let them eat cake.

Kennesaw meets Palace of Versailles:

Because what six year old girl doesn't want a birthday
cake decorated with weapons?

I hope that this is for a paintball party.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hello Kitty is not a Cat and Other Deceptions

Years from now, I'll tell my children that I remember exactly where I was when I heard the startling news that Hello Kitty is not really a cat. Of course, I'll say I was reading on a G-rated website and not Dlisted, which is my new favorite thing in the entire world, other than Mom's new dog, Hello Puppy.

This picture is your reward for reading this long, boring post.

But, now that I know that Hello Kitty is not a cat, I'm wondering about Hello Puppy. Maybe he's not a dog at all, but really a perpetual 3rd grader named Puppy White who lives in a London suburb with his parents, George and Mary. I'm sure that Mom is just imagining him peeing on the rugs and chewing the furniture legs because he's really in London asking his mate for proper DI-rections to the loo and noshing on some black pudding.

In all seriousness, there is a brilliant lesson in the Hello Kitty story, which is that things are not always as they seem. For example, when I wear yoga pants and flip-flops you might think that I'd just practiced Bikram yoga and executed a flawless crow pose. The truth is likely that I've just been to physical therapy where I had needles inserted into my back. (Also, I could never do Bikram yoga after reading this article. This wasn't a big sacrifice as I never considered doing Bikram yoga prior to reading the article. Just like it's easy for me to not go to Hobby Lobby because Michaels is closer and I already know where to find everything.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Father's Day - The YETI Cooler

Okay, so it's a little late to be posting about Father's Day, but I don't seem to be able to do anything on time these days. I think I need this:

You know if you search "Sorry I'm Late shirts" in Google images you get images of people who have taken the time to style their Sorry I'm Late shirts, i.e.:

I am late because I left my shoes in a wooded area and couldn't find them.

When you take the time to style your Sorry I'm Late shirt and make an entire Sorry I'm Late ensemble (and then take a picture), it probably explains why you are late.

The creator of this ensemble had another issue:

in that she had to time travel back to 1995 to create her outfit. I mean, I can't tell the scale of that backpack, but I'm pretty sure it's one of those tiny backpacks that was all the rage in the mid 90's. Felicity and Baby Spice wore them and they were perfectly balanced by four inch-high platform sandals. I recently saw a picture of Miley Cyrus toting a tiny backpack, which means she's ruined both teddy bears and tiny backpacks forever. 

Obviously, you all can tell that I'm late with my Father's Day post because I got "busy" Googling, "Sorry I'm Late shirts" and looking up pictures of 1990's celebrities wearing tiny backpacks. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Throw the Tiger in the Whirlpool: Why I love our á la Carte Chore Board

I have not been very good about giving the children an allowance for doing daily chores. I started a few times but got tired of nagging them to do the chores, and instead of leaving their chores un-done so they could bear witness to their slovenly ways, I'd succumb to my mild OCD and make their beds and clean up their messes. Sometimes, I would pay them even though they hadn't actually completed the chores which taught them nothing about getting paid for working, but instead primed them for a future as county road crew workers. We've always ended up back in the same place, scrapping the allowance and me doing everything.

Recently, I took a different approach, one that gave the kids the option of earning money on a per-chore basis. I think that when I've finished telling you all about the how this system has worked, you'll agree that it's vastly superior than just giving a straight allowance. I made a chore board where I post different chores that I would like the children to perform and assign each chore a monetary value. So, making your bed gets you .25 and taking out the garbage is .75. Value is determined by frequency, grossness, and duration of a given chore. This valuation system is no different from society where long-haul commercial fisherman earn more than Justin Beiber. Oh wait, no. Clearly my value system needs some tweaking to put it in line with American society. Five cents for scrubbing the toilet and ten million dollars for making up racist song lyrics. Better now. Anyway, here are some (as yet unperformed) tasks on our chore board:

This way the kids are earning money only for the work they've actually done (novel concept, I know). I wish I'd thought of this years ago because would be a freaking millionaire.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Happy Campers

Remember back when camps were basically all the same? The camp had some name that evoked nature; Camp Porcupine Mountain, Camp Lake Vulture, Camp Meadow Chrysanthemum;  or it had some faux-Indian name that the owners had to change in the 1990's (yes, summer camps are more progressive than the NFL). And the activities at these camps were all basically the same: swimming, weaving lanyards, singing campfire songs, eating s'mores, drinking bug juice, and trying to eavesdrop on the counselor's conversations.

Remember this classic summer camp movie?
"Little Darlings," starred Tatum O'Neal (left, front row) and Kristy McNichol
(right, front row). Believe it or not, that's Cynthia Nixon (Miranda from SITC)
next to Kristy. Another bit of trivia: Matt Dillon played Kristy's love interest.
I was waaaay too young to understand the plot when I watched
 this on video at a friend's birthday party. 
Now there are all of these camps where children can explore their most arcane and specialized interests. When I was making our camp plans for the summer, I was floored by all the options. Here are a few camps that didn't quite make the cut for us:

1. Junior Exterminator Camp - Junior Exterminator camp provide the opportunity for kids to learn about animals in their natural habitats! Enjoy up-close animal encounters with roof rats, squirrels, possums, mice, and raccoons! New for 2014: Campers will love exploring our simulated attics, basements, chimneys, and crawl spaces and hunting for their favorite rodents. Camp mascot Billy the Bat will be giving out our fun, "I literally killed at Junior Exterminator Camp" shirts to the campers \with the most captures. Please make sure your camper is up to date on all of his or her vaccinations and sign up for Junior Exterminator Camp today!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Appreciation Fatigue

Last week was "National Teacher Appreciation Week," which is conveniently followed by "National Parents of School-Aged Children Nervous Breakdown Fortnight." This is a festive time during which copious amounts of alcohol are consumed, prescriptions for sedatives are renewed, and emergency rooms log a marked increase in the number of people coming in with hot glue gun burns. The end of school is nigh for many of us and this means that everything between now and June 1st will be a blur of recitals, field days, tournaments, end of year celebrations, moving up ceremonies, volunteer luncheons, teacher gifts, assistant teacher gifts, coach gifts, and assistant to the coach gifts (for reals - I'm collecting for this one, care to donate?). It's just I certainly appreciate all the teachers and coaches who have taught my children this year, but I feel like I would appreciate them even more if the appreciation week was in, say March. Further, I would appreciate the ceremonies and performances and tournaments more if they weren't all crammed into a two week period. It's like tragedy fatigue when one disaster happens on the heels of another disaster, people get overwhelmed and are less likely to donate to victims of the subsequent tragedy. I feel like I have appreciation fatigue, so that by the time that last school-related event on the calendar (the Boy's end of the year ice cream party) rolls around, his class will probably receive whatever I already have on hand for ice cream toppings. (Why yes, dried basil flakes and pepper are delicious on vanilla ice cream. And they're certified peanut and gluten free.) Luckily, the Boy is indifferent about my presence at his events. Sometimes he outright requests that I don't come. Maybe it's in how I ask him:

Me: Do you want me to come to the second grade lunch?
Boy: I don't care.
Me: What if I promise to sit next to you and hold your hand?
Boy: Mom, stop!
Me: I'll play with your hair and sing to you?
Boy: No! Please DO NOT come.
Me: Are you sure?
Boy: Yes.

It's all in the ask.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Play that Funky Music

I'm not one of those parents who believes that my parental responsibilities include making sure that my kids have decent taste in music. That's for parents who want extra credit. I'm just trying to get by with supplying food, shelter, and transportation. Some of my friends have taken their children to carefully selected concerts and play their kids classical, jazz, and world music to make sure that they know a wide array of music genres. Other than some baby music classes that I forced upon the Boy (currently the least musically of the children, coincidentally I am sure) I have done nothing. This has worked out fine until recently when the girls both independently decided that they are interested in music. The Baby has "Let it Go" on repeat and has listened to it so much that she has memorized the entire song. This is most shocking when you know that this child often asks me at 3 pm whether she's eaten lunch. (I'd like to note that even in the sorry state of affairs that my life has become in the last year, the answer to that question is usually yes. Eight out of 10 times, anyway.) By the way, I would post a video of her rendition, but I figured that would be the equivalent of telling you about a dream that I had. There is a very slight chance you would find it interesting, but there is a much greater chance that you would want to tear out your eyes and ears. I will share this picture of her in full Elsa costume:

In case you haven't seen "Frozen" (Echo, echo, echo), the crown and cape are vitally important to the Baby's performance of "Let it Go" because Elsa tosses her crown away, symbolizing her abandoning her former life as the queen of Arendelle. Likewise, she dramatically flips the cape prior to entering the ice castle she has created and slams the door behind her at the end of the song. The Baby incorporates all these little flourishes into her performance, with that weird rainbow dreadlocked headband getting tossed across the room (often hitting someone). The deer blanket I used to decorate for the K's white trash birthday party last year is obviously her cape. I was shocked when it ripped because it seemed such good quality (sarcasm font). Instead of slamming the door to her ice castle, the Baby has to settle for slamming the door to the laundry room. I promise that when she's finished, there's not a dry eye in the house.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Parenting Continuum

Have you all heard about this study in which researchers observed parents ignoring their children because they were so absorbed in checking their smartphones? Although this was not a scientific study, more like anthropological observations, one of the researchers noted that children whose parents were on the phone the longest were more likely to act out to get their parent's attention.  A psychologist not involved in the experiment commented that when parents put their digital devises ahead of their children they are sending the message to the children that they are not interesting and that they don't matter. I think we can all agree that the conclusion reached is indisputable. Obviously, we all know it is better to engage with your children than to ignore them. Additionally, I think we'd agree that it's incredibly rude to pull out your phone mid-conversation with anyone, a child or an adult, and start texting or checking email. My problem is that "research" like this is part of a whole trend in parent-shaming that makes it hard to feel like you are ever doing enough as a caregiver.

The cards are stacked against parents from the get-go in the anthropological study. The researchers observing 55 groups of adults and young children dining at fast food restaurants (a McDonald's according to the radio broadcast of the story) in the course of one summer. The key points to me are the location (a fast food restaurant) and the time of year (summer). You know when I tend to take my kids to fast food restaurants? When I'm in a hurry and we're away from home. You know when I take my kids to fast food restaurants in the summer? I do it when they're not in camp and we've been out doing some child-centered activity in the morning and need to eat lunch out before segueing into our afternoon of child-centered activities. If the researchers were watching me, I guarantee that I'd be checking my phone when we sat down at the table. Would the researchers prefer that I do that while driving to Chick fil-A?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter-Related Musings

We celebrated Easter yesterday with lots of eating and sitting around, two things at which I could excel except that on most days I only have five minutes to shove a meal in my mouth before racing off to some activity. When I retire I plan to devote more time to eating and sitting around; it would be practically un-American not to. We also went to church and the minister told a funny (to me, anyway) story about receiving a promotional email from a company that will provide the equipment to enable people to fly during church Easter productions. The email said something like, "You know what's missing from your Easter production? Flying!" I'm a little bit upset that I've never received an email saying that that the one thing missing from my life is flying, because it's true. I already get 1,000 emails a day telling me that what's missing from my life is the perfect pair of ankle-cuff sandals or some new outdoor furniture, but not a word about flying. After the minister told the flying story he said some religious stuff, little of which I retained because the Boy distracted me with pictures of soldiers that he was drawing on the prayer request pamphlet in the pew. Since I left the pamphlet there, I  hope someone finds it and decides that it's a prayer request for the military and not just random vandalism.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

All Joy and No Fun

After today, my kids have 30 more days of school before summer break. For the first time, I think I'm looking forward to the break more than the children. I'm going to be blunt: This school year has kicked my ass six ways to Sunday. Part of the reason that I haven't been posting is because I've been working on revising my novel (BTW, I hate the way that makes me sound like a pretentious cliche - like how all SAHMs with a camera are suddenly "photographers" and all SAHMs who have a camera and fancy themselves writers are bloggers ;-)). But this is supposed to be a humor blog and I've been in such a funk that I've had a hard time seeing the funny side of anything. 

I'm self-aware enough to realize that it is ridiculous for me to be stressed out. Objectively speaking, my life is pretty easy. I don't live in a war zone, my children have enough to eat, and all my problems sound like whiny first-world problems, i.e., "Worst day ever! Whole Foods is out of brown rice sushi!"  The other day I was rushing around the grocery store (my umpteenth visit of the week) and saw an old lady sitting on a scooter and rummaging in the bargain bin wearing a "I'm too blessed to be stressed" t-shirt. That got me thinking: Surely, I'm at least as equally as blessed as the old lady. So, why am I not walking around humming "Happy," with a perpetual grin on my face?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Fever

You could always count on a handful of warm days in late April or early May in New Jersey. It was your reward for making it through six months of cold, grey weather. Of course, what seemed like "warm" was really temperatures in the mid-50's, but it still seemed like time to break out the shorts and tanks because it was so much better than 20 degrees and snow. On those warmish days, we would beg our teachers to have class outside and when they invariably refused, we'd stare out the windows, waiting for the bell to ring so we could just feel the sun. "Spring fever," the teachers would sigh, and at the time I thought that they were concerned that we weren't going to learn anything for the rest of the year. Now I realize that they were probably just planning their shore vacations and dreaming of tossing back drinks at Bar A. (Aside: As I look at pictures, I realize that Bar A has barely changed since I was there in 1994. Although, it does look like they've added the saddest VIP area ever. Note to Bar A: random potted plants and garden stools do not a VIP area make. Also, who are these alleged VIPs hanging out at Bar A? I'm picturing Caroline Manzo's sons, Albie and Chris from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." They probably have some girls with them from their Stripper Car Wash and the girls probably pronounce "cabana" and "grotto" with that nasally Philly accent and are practically handicapped because their fake nails are so long.)

The point is (yes, I have one) that spring fever used to conjure up all sorts of good images: sunglasses, sitting outside, and the end of the school year. Now I can't even hear the word "fever" without immediately wondering if we are fully stocked with Children's Motrin. Those pleasant images have been replaced with this image:

Now spring fever comes with spring
coughing and wheezing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Scots-Irish Leprechauns

Did you know that there are more people of Irish descent living in the United States than there are in Ireland? Here's a map showing the places in the United States with the highest concentration of people claiming Irish heritage:

via The Washington Post
This explains why I assume that everyone (except me) is Irish. Where I grew up, everyone is Irish. It's funny that even though I lived around all those Irish people it wasn't until I moved to chartreuse-colored Georgia and had kids that I learned about the St. Patrick's Day leprechaun. Just in case you've miraculously missed out on this addition to the ways-to-make-overtaxed-parents-even-crazier department, I will explain. The St. Patrick's Day leprechaun is brought to you courtesy of the people who adore Elf on the Shelf and need a mid-year fix. Your leprechaun materializes on St. Patrick's Day eve, trashes the house, dyes your toilet water green, sprinkles glitter hither and yon and creates a mess that you'll still be cleaning up when you reach for you first Guinness at noon.

Monday, March 10, 2014


As soon as the daffodils start poking through the ground here in Georgia, the calls start. "Call from RUT-A-JERS," says our caller-ID lady in a flat monotone. "Call from Anne Marie." Who's Anne Marie, I wonder and then glance at the phone. Oh, Emory. I usually let the first few of these calls go because I know what they want. First, the pretense of checking to make sure my contact information is still the same, then the gracious thank you for my previous gift, and then the real reason for calling, hitting me up for more money. "I see you gave $100 last year. Would you care to bump up your donation just a bit to $10,000?"

I'm not sure what got into me lat week, but when "Rut-a-jers" called, I decided to answer. I spoke to a junior named Carmine. Sometimes the callers ask you about yourself: (Caller: "I see you majored in English, do you work in that area?" Me: "Yes, I speak English every day"), but Carmine was all business. He also said "you know" so many times that I wondered if he was playing a drinking game with someone in the call center who had to do a shot every time he uttered the phrase. Trust me, if this were the case, his friend would be dead. He also said, "I see you live in DECK-A-TUR, Georgia," which is fine because there's no reason that he should be able to pronounce Decatur correctly. But New Jersey is so full of towns with weird names (Paramus, Piscataway, Ho-Ho-Kus, Parsippany, Hoboken, Weehawken, Moonachie) that it's funny to hear someone struggle with Decatur, which is pretty much pronounced the way it looks (aside from the long "a"). Despite Carmine's less than suave delivery, I ended up donating to Rutgers because, well, for kids like Carmine who could use a decent communications class before they hit the working world.

Not to be outdone, Emory called the next day and I got to talk to Meredith, a freshman at the college. Bless her heart, Meredith was just about everything that Carmine was not. She was so chatty that I started to worry that she hadn't made any friends at school. She asked what I missed about law school. (My answer: Great professors, being in an academic environment. Truth: Going to a bar after my last exam.) She asked what activities I was involved with at Emory. (My answer: Activities weren't really common among law students, but I did work on a journal. Truth: I worked on a third-rate journal and was a functioning alcoholic.) Why did you decide to go to law school? (My answer: You learn skills in law school like critical thinking and persuasive writing, that are useful in any job. Truth: Why did I go to law school?)

I blame Oprah.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kids' Graphic Tees Can Stop Having a Moment

I'm trying to do a better job of looking for the bright spot in what seems like a bad situation. Take for example all the cold, snowy weather that we've had the last few months. Yes, it was very stressful and maddening to have the children home from school for basically all of January and February, but look at it this way: less of an opportunity to get lice, a lower probability of contracting a stomach bug, and as long as it stays cold you can postpone spring clothes shopping. This last item is key, because have you seen some of the options for children's clothing? I'm pretty sure that I've stumbled onto what is corrupting America's youth, and it's the graphic t-shirt. In other news, get off my lawn.

But really, please look at this:

Okay, so Target may have pulled this shirt out of stores because of complaints, but still, someone thought that Rainbow Bright, Robin Thicke's rapey song, and Flashdance-styling would all combine to form a perfect little girl's shirt.

The boys don't fair all that well either. They get the likes of this:

Who decided that it is cute to see kids wearing clothes emblazoned with sassy, dated pop-culture references? It's like some executive at Wal-Mart said, "Classy clothes, ain't nobody got time for that!"

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Three Ring Circus

If the last two weeks had been sponsored, they would have been brought to you courtesy of Valentine chocolates, rainbow looms, deep breathing, and on-demand movies (not necessarily in that order). Just in case you don't live in the DEC, the week of February 9th featured a whopping 1.5 days of school. Then, because all that school time left everyone quite fatigued, schools were closed for the entire week of February 16th. My Facebook feed was full of pictures of friends' ski vacations and sunny beaches, but when I turned away from the computer my real life was littered with teeny-tiny rubber bands, empty juice boxes, and whatever the dog dragged in.

If there was one comic bright spot in the last two weeks it was our trip to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Now, for certain go read some other blog if you want a straight up review of the circus. Here you're going to get the weirdest moments of the whole experience: Protestors! Elephant poop! Clown shortages! Acts that defy gravity...and logic! First, let me tell you that I was blissfully unaware of the controversy surrounding the circus. So I was caught off-guard when I saw all the protestors in front of Phillips Arena. They had hand-lettered posters decrying the torture of circus animals and some poor soul drew the short stick and was dressed in a ratty-looking elephant costume and writhing around on the ground. Of course it was all quite alarming, but I wanted to check out the show to see if you could tell whether the animals looked happy like the animals in "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" or if they looked like they were trying to make a break for it.

image via

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fouls and Profanity or Basketball Season Wrap-Up

When I'm feeling a little angst-y, I think of the lyrics of the Talking Head's song "Once in a Lifetime," and specifically the line that David Byrne sing/chants, "You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?" How did I get to this place where my life revolves around sports seasons for a 10 year-old, an 8 year-old, and a 5 year-old? I never played sports, but I have three sports-obsessed children. Well, two who love sports and one who doesn't necessarily love sports, but who aspires to be a professional cheerleader. I've doomed her to this destiny because she's basically been an amateur cheerleader for her older brother and sister since she was born. The first full sentence she spoke was "are we late for [sister's] soccer game?" Now I've created a record for her so that she can bring my archived blog posts to her future therapy sessions. 

We've just finished up basketball season and, as always, everyone learned something. The Girl added a new cuss/curse word to her growing repertoire, the Boy learned that when you make big plays you make yourself a target, the Baby figured out how to stack the deck in Spot It!, and I learned that seven and eight-year-old basketball players foul out on the fifth foul, just like in the NBA. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

What You've Missed in the Winter Olympics

It's becoming increasingly clear that I can't keep writing long blog posts because, the time, she is short, so I am going to try something different. I am going to post more often, but with shorter posts. Because, honestly, sometimes these thoughts just pop into my head and I'd like to share them, but they're not long-post worthy. For example, here is what you are missing by not watching the Sochi Winter Olympics:

1. Henrik Harlaut (or as I like to call him, Stockholm's Most Wanted) - Have you all seen this guy?

Don't let the waist-length dreads fool you, Henrik is a  Swedish Freestyle Skier who wears quadruple XL pants and coats to ski in, despite being 5'6" and 161 pounds. He was also skiing with a raw egg in his pocket for luck, which is pretty much the failing idea for that project where kids have to devise a way to protect an egg from breaking when you drop it off the top of a building. Henrik's pants were around his knees for the entire Freestyle Slopestyle (I'm sure I have the name wrong) competition, which seems like it would be a hinderance to walking, much less flipping in the air five times and landing backwards on your skis. Who knows, though, perhaps worrying about your pants falling off or an egg cracking in your pocket is just what you need to keep your mind off the fact that you could break your neck at any moment.

Henrik literally lost his pants in one of his falls:

I asked the kids what they thought of Henrik's outfit, just in case I am too old to see the coolness, but the kids thought he was ridic, as well. And if looking silly wasn't enough of an embarrassment for Henrik, the Americans swept the Freestyle Slopestyle event and even wore proper-fitting ski pants. Go 'Merica!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Blame it on the Snow

Today is the third day that school has been cancelled as a result of Atlanta's epic snow disaster, and, unofficially, that's the day when you go to Michael's and throw money at anything that you think will entertain the children. Example 1: I broke down and bought a Rainbow Loom.

The children had been using our next-door neighbor's loom (and teeny-tiny rubber bands) and have been begging for a loom of their own. The Boy and I hit CVS yesterday because I heard they had them there, but they turned out to only stock a generic knock-off called "Just The Primary Colors Loom" or something.  Luckily, the Boy is brand-conscious enough that he didn't urge me to buy the thing, which looked like it would snap under the force of those teeny-tiny rubber bands.

So, we put off the purchase until today, when the roads were free of ice and we could make it to Michael's without a problem. When we got the loom home, the kids were like, "Mom, do you want to learn how to make one?" I hate to be a spoil-sport, but honestly, no. I went to camp and went through a stage where I made all sorts of bracelets with embroidery yarn, but I was 11 years old then and now I just have other things I'd rather do than watch videos on YouTube on how to make orthodontic rubber bands into flowers...or Joseph and Mary:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Southern Drivers Just Suck and Other Fallacies - Thoughts on Snow Jam 2014

Fleeing the ATL. 
I have now lived in Atlanta as long as I lived in New Jersey, which is one of the reasons why I take umbrage at all the northerners who see the headline, "Atlanta Receives Two Inches of Snow; City Paralyzed With Gridlock," and laugh at the stupid southerners who can't drive. "Oh, silly rednecks," they say, "it's two inches of snow. I've driven in two feet of snow with no problems." Well, I really beg to differ. Unless you drive a Zamboni, you really have no basis for comparison.

I'm no traffic engineer, or logistics expert, or psychologist, or meteorologist but I think it would take experts in all these fields to adequately explain the mess that occurred in Atlanta on Tuesday. There is just no easy answer, nor are just one or two people to blame for what happened. If you had to write an equation to capture the problem it could be: Ice + Drivers + Traffic Volume + No Central Control + Psychology = Total Cluster. There are probably some other factors, as well, but let's be clear one of the factors is not incompetent southern drivers. Here's a look at some of the major elements that contributed to the mess.

Ice, Ice, Baby - I drove in the snow all the time in New Jersey and never had a second thought. There were a handful of times that we got ice rather than snow, and you know what? Cars were sliding all over the roads just like in Atlanta. There was an ice storm when I was about eight and we had to catch the train in a neighboring town. The only way to get there was to go down a very steep hill and across a bridge. Instead of taking the family car, a Ford station wagon (wood-paneled, of course), my parents opted to take Dad's car, which was a 1962 Buick Special. It was basically a tank and easily weighed twice as much as the wagon. Even though it lacked seat belts (!!), it ended up being the right choice as cars were literally sliding past us as we crept down the hill. No one thought that those people were sliding because they were southern transplants. We all thought they were sliding because the roads were covered with ice.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Parenting Haikus

You may or may not know that the Poet Laureate of the United States lives in my neighborhood. When she's not doing important things out in the world, we sometimes see her looking like a civilian as she walks her dog. Our proximity to greatness has inspired me to try my hand at poetry, and what better way to start than with some haikus. Haikus are to poetry as baking is to cooking. How's that for an analogy? I bet the College Board is going to call me any minute to write questions for the SAT. What I mean about haikus is that there is a recipe to follow; the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third line has five syllables. Anyone who knows me knows that I am much better at baking than I am at cooking because I love recipes, instructions, guidelines, rules, a code, and basically anything that I can slavishly follow to lessen the possibility of screwing up. This is probably why I've always sucked at poetry. There are no rules...except in haikus! Bless the Japanese for haikus, delicious sushi, cool erasers, and Hello Kitty. Enjoy!

Laundry Day
It's not all the wash,
It's not even the folding,
It's putting away.

This is a decal that you can put on your laundry room wall to remind
yourself that you should be happy about doing laundry.
 If there's anything I hate more than laundry it's
someone telling me I should be happy to do laundry.
Stop with your platitudes and come help me match socks.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mission Accomplished?

I think this might be kind of like a rant. If I start a new blog called, "The Bitter Harpy" this is the kind of thing that I'll probably publish, only with more profanity. Enjoy! :-)

I just re-read "Pride and Prejudice" because I caught some of the movie the other night and the Bennet girls reminded me enough of the Kardashian sisters to make me think I might enjoy reading the book. Plus, it's in the public domain, so you can download it to your Kindle for free. At that price I might be convinced to read a bunch of classics (but probably not). It's been a few years (like maybe 25) since I read P&P, and I was struck by a few things. First, P&P is a totally different book than I remembered. I think I was confusing it with Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights," which I read as a senior in high school and know for sure that I won't be re-reading because all I remember is mad descriptions of the moors. I know that I'm not an intellectual because I can't stand lengthy descriptions of landscapes. Just give me a general idea of what a moor is, and I'm good: tall grass blowing around, marshy, heather, got it. Save your pages to advance the plot, Miss Bronte, I beg of you. Meanwhile, Austen is all about snappy dialog and plot, which is way more my cup of (Earl Grey) tea.

Friday, January 10, 2014

You Say You Want a Resolution...

January is that traditional time to take stock and make resolutions about the upcoming year, and who am I turn my back on 1600 years of moral piety? I asked the Girl and the Boy if they had any resolutions for 2014 and the Boy had an immediate answer. "I want to fit a week's worth of my garbage into a jar." Hmmmm. Okay. I'm totally with him on wanting to produce less garbage, but I'm not sure he realized that this will probably require him to cut back on his box-a-day YoKid squeezers habit, unless the empty tubes turn out to be recyclable. The Girl also had a lofty goal, "I'm going to become a pescetarian." Again, hmmmmm.
"Are you going to learn how to cook, too?" I asked.
"No," she said, "why?"
"It just seems like either all of us will have to become pescetarians, or I'll be cooking you a lot of separate meals."
"Oh, yeah. Well, I have another idea. I want to plant a vegetable garden. You can help."
I can tell you now, that none of my New Year's Resolutions involve eating more fish, becoming an organic farmer, or researching the recyclability of YoKids Squeezer wrappers. Somehow, my children were making me complicit in their resolutions, as if I need more work! I've got my hands full with my own goals:

1. Be Nicer to Future Me - I think "treat myself" or "be kinder to myself" are fairly common resolutions, and this one is in that same vein, but with a twist. I am usually pretty nice to my present self, which means I don't force the present me to do things that I don't want to do, like fold the laundry or package up boxes to return to Amazon. I leave all these unpleasant tasks to the sucker of the century: Future Me. Future Me is the one who suffers when I schedule back to back to back dentist appointments for the last week of school. The last week of school? That's six months from now! The world will probably be end and then it won't matter! I suppose a better way of saying this is that I won't procrastinate, but then I couldn't use this cartoon:


Right now I am writing a blog post and Future Me will be going to Publix in a few hours. Clearly, I am doing a great job on resolution number one.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Hidden Price of Dog Ownership

Here's something I tried to get paid for, but no takers. Sadly, it has been cleansed of arbitrary links and weird pictures because it's for public consumption. Happily, you get to read it for free if you're not busy watching Chris Christie deal with bridge-gate. Also, it's about dogs and everyone seemed to like my last dog piece. 

Before deciding to adopt a dog, it is important to weigh the positives and negatives of pet ownership. On the plus side, children will learn responsibility, dogs can be effective theft deterrent, and a dog will still love you even when your children transform into surly teenagers. On the minus side, a puppy will have housebreaking accidents that can wreck the floors and rugs, dogs need to be walked even in sub-freezing weather, and, of course, there is the not-inconsiderable cost of pet ownership. Dogs need to eat, visit the veterinarian, attend obedience training, and need to be boarded when you leave town. Even if you take all these standard costs into account, you should know that there are hidden costs of dog ownership that you won’t find listed in any puppy care book. I learned this the hard way when we adopted our new puppy.

My first glimpse of a hidden cost came when our new puppy started chewing leaves off the hosta plants in our backyard. At first it was cute to see a seven-pound ball of fluff trot inside with a hosta frond hanging out of her mouth like she was off to fan the emperor. But, a quick Internet search revealed the unpleasant truth that chewing on hosta might be dangerous to dogs. According to some sources, it can cause stomach upset and, of all things, depression. Because our backyard is basically a hosta showroom, we had to transplant all the hosta to the side of the house that the puppy couldn’t access. Of course, we couldn’t leave gaping holes in the backyard, so we had to get new (dog-friendly) plants to replace the hosta. When everything was finished, we had completely overhauled our backyard landscaping with plants that would not harm our puppy’s digestive tract or psyche…for a price.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Hello! I have been laying off the blog since Thanksgiving, but not for lack of wanting to write. With apologies to Lemony Snicket, I've been the victim of a series of unfortunate events. Aside: Have you ever seen Lemony Snicket aka Daniel Handler in real life? Kind of what you'd expect based on the books:

So, funny in small does, but maybe not someone you'd want to accompany you on a cross-country trip. I'm sure you know people like this. Oh, let's be frank, I'm sure that at least one of you is thinking of me. Don't worry, I'm not offended. In fact, I'M thinking of YOU. 

Anyway, right after Thanksgiving, I had some plans for a few blog posts. Here is a sampling:

1. Fruit Turkey - The other room mom in the Baby's class made this for the class for Thanksgiving:

She made it just because she thought it would be fun to try! Sigh. Meanwhile, for the Baby's birthday celebration at school, I brought Publix muffins and some wrinkled napkins left over from the Girl's birthday. Just because I was feeling totally overwhelmed by life!

2. Fabulous Holiday Catalogs - Even when I was trying to be dark and brooding when I was 15, I was really entirely pink and green on the inside, which is why I love Vineyard Vines. I even love the  company's motto/circular logic problem that "every day should feel this good." I had some favorites from the holiday catalog this year:

I love Brendan's sweater because I had one that looked just like it in 1982, and mine had matching leg warmers. Also, if Brendan really is from Maine he should know that 1982 was also probably the last time anyone used a wooden lobster trap for anything other than a coffee table. He could totally sell that prop trap for $50. Seriously.

We get the Cabela's catalog because...I have no idea, unless it's to provide me with entertainment.

I literally love everything on this page. I love these little girls in their pink camouflage. I love the knotty pine cabin dollhouse. I love the Adventure Girlz dolls and their pink ATV playset. I mean, if the choices are dolls that camp, fish, and hunt and this:

I think that I'm going for the dolls that aren't wearing a nude and silver catsuit. Just incidentally, I think there is a real market for a doll that is somewhere in between J. Lo and Duck Dynasty. I'm holding out for a Nora Efron doll for my girls.