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.