Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Baby Anti-Shower

Since I'm a girl that prefers a pitcher of beer over a glass of wine, Metallica over Jamie Cullum and the Coen's over Nora Ephron, I consider bridal and baby showers to be the equivalent of spending two hours licking batteries while a rabid dog gnaws on my calves. Unless, of course, I'm planning and hosting the shower because then I get to be a control-freak and do whatever the hell I want.

About a month from now I will be having a baby shower for Ali, my sister-in-law. Fortunately for me Ali is pretty awesome, has realistic expectations, hasn't registered anywhere and will be happy with whatever she receives. (Unless, of course, someone buys her one of those weird hippie baby slings made out of hemp that are currently being recalled because they happen to suffocate the kid, because I have a feeling that she isn't a fan of suffocating her kid. At least not yet.) And even though I'm pretty sure that the failure to include most of the activities typically expected at a baby shower wouldn't normally cause major distress, I figured I'd better let her know in advance of what I'm NOT going to do because since she's a hormonal funhouse right now, there's no such thing as acting normally.
  1. There will be no games. None. Nadda. Zero. Zilch. No Toilet Paper Belly, Baby Items Memory, Sweet Word Match, Don't Say Baby, Diaper the Baby, Candy in a Bottle, Animal Babies, Lucky Ducky Prize or My Water Broke. Not only am I convinced that these games were invented by the devil, but just saying the names of them gave me that weird watery feeling in my mouth. You know, the watery feeling that happens before you hurl.
  2. Since there won't be any games being played, that means that there will be no need for prizes like candles, potpourri, picture frames or big bags of red licorice. Well, maybe there will be a big bag of licorice, but I'll be keeping that for myself.
  3. Since I'm against handing out party favor bags for children's birthday parties, I have to stick to my morals and say sorry, but I won't be handing out gift bags filled with lotion, nail files, bath salts, eye masks and chocolates.
  4. The reason for this shower is to say that "Ali is having a baby girl in May and it will probably hurt and when she's dilated to a six she'll wonder why in the hell she agreed to get knocked up and Jess (my brother/her husband) better quit saying 'Breathe! Just breathe' because his breath smells weird and she's going to kick his ass because she can totally kick his ass, but eventually the baby will come out, and she will be adorable and Ali will be an awesome mom." I think that incorporating a theme like Noah's Ark, Special Onesies from Special Friends, Ladies Luncheon, Disney Babies, Welcome Little Lamb or Little Buckaroo would only be a distraction from the true meaning of the shower, so therefore, there will be no theme.
  5. According to the "experts," I was supposed to send out themed invitations eight or nine weeks before the date of the shower. Well, since postage is kind of expensive now and the shower is about four weeks away, all of the guests should be expecting their evite to arrive in their in-box within the next week. Or two. And since I was supposed to pick up matching thank-you notes when I was purchasing the invitations, all of the guests will receive their thank-you's in the form of a big hug and a verbal "Thank you, I love the ______," directly from the mom-to-be. So don't leave before you get your hug!
  6. I guess I could have went to Archiver's and bought supplies to make my own invitations and matching thank-you's using vellum, stamps, embossing tools, foil, stickers, embellishments and what-not's, but that brings me right back to the whole "licking batteries while dogs chew on my calves" thing.
  7. Regarding food, there will not be: a watermelon carved into the shape of a stroller, melon-balling of any kind, pink and blue sandwiches (WTF), edible pacifiers, crustless sandwiches, 7up punch or anything containing Jell-O.
  8. There will not be a diaper cake.
What the shower will include is laughter, fun, great conversation, food that incorporates meat and carbs (and crusts), beverages that incorporate booze (sorry, Ali but the rest of us aren't pregnant), some decorations and when it's all over with, my niece will hopefully have received some cool gifts. Which reminds me, while I was running errands the other day I came across the perfect gift for her:

Hmmm....perhaps I should be rethinking this whole anti-theme stance, since it's still not too late to incorporate a Camo/Redneck/ Deer Hunting theme. I could slice up some venison sausage and serve it with Velveeta, saltines and a Pabst. Yep, Ali's gonna love this baby shower.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What A Bunch of Crap

There are some days when it seems like all I do is deal with shit. And I'm not using shit as a synonym for errands or listening to arguments or cleaning the kids' bathroom: I'm talking about poop/crap/fecal matter/shit. Between picking up the dog shit in the yard (or on bad days, in the house), five people in the house with fairly predictable digestive systems, the geese that have arrived with the spring weather and that one guy at Best Buy last week who smelled like he just crapped his pants, the topic of shit seems to come up several times a day. Or in the case of Zoe's life, it usually comes out around 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and that's where the drama begins.

I know plenty of kids that, before the age of six, occasionally have weird issues about taking a crap. Some kids are completely potty-trained, but refuse to poop in a toilet and insist on getting a diaper put on for the big show. I know one kid that would happily poop in a toilet, but would only do so if all of his clothes were removed -- shirt, socks, everything. Another girl would only crap if she could stand on the toilet seat and squat down because sitting for so long was uncomfortable. And if I had a dime for every time I heard the phrase "my kid is always constipated" and had invested heavily in Miralax, I wouldn't be thinking about how to someday monetize my blog.

Just when I thought that my days of having to deal with dung drama were over, Zoe decided to appoint me as her designated butt wiper. Wow, lucky me. The only thing I can compare this development to is the consumption of schnapps, and the theory that if you have one bad experience (like hurling), you never want to try it again. Similarly, since Zoe did a half-ass job of wiping her butt one time and then ended up with some pain and discomfort, she has decided that she will never wipe her own ass again. I know, it's pathetic.

I have to be honest and say that this glitch isn't entirely her fault. When you consider the fact that the gigantic toilet paper dispenser in any germ-infested public bathroom is about six-feet away from the toilet, and that the toilet paper has the same texture as 80-grit sandpaper, I haven't been overly eager about getting the toilet paper for her, handing it off, and then having her scrape all the skin off of her ass. It's moments like these when I'm sure that Cottonelle created those handy individually-wrapped pre-moistened butt wipes just for me and my need to wipe my daughter's ass.

Lately, when we're at home, I've been better about just walking in, handing her a wipe and making her do it herself. But even then I still have to hang around the bathroom door until she's done because unless I were to install a table right by the toilet, she can't reach the wipes.

I realize that this dilemma doesn't have the same level of drama as other people saying things like "my kid won't wear anything besides Superman pajamas to school" or "my ten-year-old will only eat Hot Pockets and Twinkies," but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in the world saying: "I need to get my kid to wipe her own ass!"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Impressive, No. Loud and Obnoxious, Yes.

On Sunday, Zach and I headed downtown Minneapolis for yet another piano recital. Since the boys do several recitals every year, they're not really that big of a deal anymore and are actually more of a nuisance since they're always scheduled in the middle of the day on Sundays. This particular recital was more annoying than most because since the other performers made their grandparents and third cousins attend, the room was filled to capacity resulting in a standing-room-only situation. Zach eventually got a seat, but I ended up standing next to a woman that reeked of Indian food. I hate Indian food.

One thing that got me through this hour-and-a-half of mouth-breathing was knowing that I was grilling steaks for dinner. Unfortunately, I also knew that I had to stop at the grocery store after the recital to buy these steaks, which meant that Zach had to come with me. Imagine my surprise, then, when the shopping experience did not consist of him following me around the store, sighing loudly at every opportunity and complaining about it taking too long. In fact, we actually had a great time together because we made fun of everyone else.

The grocery store we stopped at is located in a suburb that I'm not exactly sure how to describe, so I'll just call it "Home of the Dickheads and Overpopulated With Assholes and Bitches." You're probably wondering why I bothered to subject myself to such a pretentious shopping experience, and the answer is: the ribeyes were on sale.

While we were waiting in line at the deli, a woman whose hair was 19 different shades of blonde, had a purse so big that it wouldn't have qualified as carry-on baggage and was apparently incapable of removing her ginormous sunglasses while indoors wandered up and waited behind me. When the deli lady asked her if she needed help, she hollered "Why yes, I do! Thank you sweetheart!" and then for some reason she started laughing like a hyena. Zach looked at me like "holy crap did you hear that what in the hell is wrong with this woman" and I gave him the exact same look. She then proceeded to tell the deli lady that she wanted turkey, but not just any old turkey. She wanted something different and amazing. Something that was really unique and had some zing. No shit. She used all of these adjectives for turkey. She then proceeded to shout at the deli lady, calling her girlfriend, honey, sistah and then sweetheart one more time before she finally wandered toward the floral section.

A couple minutes later, we saw another woman (also with her sunglasses on) that was talking REALLY LOUDLY TO HER TWO DAUGHTERS TELLING THEM THAT THEY WERE MAKING SPECTACULAR CHOICES IN THE CRACKER AISLE AND OH MY STARS THOSE CRACKERS LOOK DELISH WOW MY LITTLE DARLINGS ARE AMAZING! Again, Zach looked at me and actually said "Holy crap, is everyone at this store insane? I hate it when people talk so loud and fake and stuck-up. They don't look cool, they look stupid." So there you have it, loud stuck-up bitches: teenage boys think you look, and sound, like morons.

Now, I could have taken the mature route and told my kid to just ignore them and be nice because gee whiz, everyone has their own insecurities and mannerisms and some people need more attention than others, but that wouldn't have been very fun. So instead Zach and I wandered through the store, shouting at each other. In produce I shouted "Ooooh yummy! Smell the delectable ripeness of these pears Zach! They smell amazing and scrumptious!" In the condiment aisle, Zach yelled "Wow! That ketchup is so red! It's spectacular!" In the bakery I hollered "Wow! These hot dog buns are so soft and fresh! I bet they're delightful!"

While I was shouting about some chips and turning into an aisle, I had to stop because the cracker lady was standing in my way, loudly reciting the entire inventory of the olive oil shelf. She was so impressed by the sound of her own voice that she didn't hear me say "excuse me" twice. Finally she noticed me and said "Oh. I'm in the way aren't I. Where did everyone go? I need to go find my Jessica. JESSICA!" Then Zach said "I think if I go lay down over there, block the entire aisle and shout at the ceiling, I'd be less annoying than that woman."

I'm proud of the fact that my kids get good grades and put a lot of effort into their sports and music. Of course they piss me off sometimes, but when they display great instincts and are able to identify the morons of the world with such precision, these are the moments that tell me yeah, I really am doing something right.

Boil the Water!

My kids are the luckiest kids in existence. Not only will they not have to go to church on April 4, but they don't have to wait until Easter morning to get their baskets of loot because the big bunny stopped at our house a week early this year, kind of like he did last year. He must have known that the kids are home from school next week so getting new movies and books and Nerds Ropes the day before they went back to school wouldn't be beneficial to me in any way. Plus, the boys got new phones in their baskets and Doug and I were really, really excited to surprise them.

Since the company that makes these phones doesn't need any free advertising, I'm not going to say what kind of phones they are, just that they rhyme with sigh-moans. And to say that they were just a little bit excited when they opened their phones would be the understatement of the year. They immediately started dowloading apps, I was excited that they were excited and Doug was excited about the fact that he would no longer have to share his phone, which also rhymes with sigh-moan.

When Charlie was entering all of his contacts I told him to double-check everything and make sure that the names and numbers matched up. He crumpled up the paper that held all of the information and said "Got it. It's done. No problem." and then started playing "Assassin's Creed."

While we were on our way home from tennis (seriously people, when am I ever not on my way home from tennis? Oh, I know. When I'm on my way to tennis.) I told Charlie to send Doug a text telling him to "boil the water," because I was making pasta for dinner. Two boys with tasks of texting and boiling -- damn, I'm a slave-driver.

After half-a-minute of silence (during which I'm flying down the freeway and getting closer and closer to home), Charlie says "Oh, that's weird. I sent the message to dad, but the phone says that the message went to Austin. Why would it do that? Dad's name isn't Austin."

"I don't know, but figure it out. Because if you didn't send the message to dad then there will be no water boiling when I get home, and I'm starving and I want to eat NOW! What number did you send it to?" I said this as I drove past Granite City, then Famous Dave's, then Don Pablo, then Champps. All of these restaurants probably had water boiling, and they had bars.

It turns out that when he was entering his contacts, he gave his dad the wrong phone number and that number happened to belong to Austin. So, Austin, I'm sorry if you were confused when you received a random three word text from Charlie that instructed you to boil some water. You can disregard it, and I'm assuming you'll probably be getting another one in the next day or so that says "My mom is mean, and she's even meaner when she's hungry."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Boys Have a Burrito, Girls Have a Taco

Whenever I'm forced to suck it up and hang out at a park with a bunch of other kids and moms, one thing that keeps me entertained is listening to the terminology that kids use to refer to their body parts. I get so much satisfaction from hearing a boy that's been throwing rocks and being a bully say "Ow! I fell on my tushie!" before he runs to his mom saying "Kiss my tushie momma. Kiss it!"

I'm pretty much a "tell it like it is" kind of mom when it comes to teaching kids what their body parts are called. A butt is a butt, a penis is a penis and if you get kicked and it hurts, it's because you got kicked in the nuts. Recently, Zoe found a Victoria's Secret catalog sitting on the kitchen counter (Note to Doug: please remember to put the catalog away next time). While I know some women that have clearly won the boob lottery, I happen to be stuck with the equivalent of a basket-full of pull tab losers. So when Zoe looked through the catalog she instantly pointed to one of the swimsuit models and said, "Wow! Look at her boobs!" and I was like uh huh, I'm familiar with boobs because I see them a lot. On other people. She then grabbed the catalog and started following Charlie around the house saying "Hey Charlie! Look at these boobs! And these! Wow. Boobs!" and Charlie couldn't run away fast enough because the only thing worse for an 11-year-old boy than hearing the word "boobs" is having to actually look at them.

Last summer while Zoe was outside playing with some neighbor girls, she farted. This of course made her beam with pride, fall down laughing and then exclaim "I farted! A fart came out of my butt! Did you hear that?" Another mom, who I won't identify by name but will say that she lives very, very close to us said "Wow. Such a mouth. We don't use language like that. My girls say "toot" and "bottom." Seriously lady (whose house I can see if I look out a certain large window), it's not like Zoe said wow that was a close one, I almost shit my pants. She said fart and butt. I wanted to call this woman a certain name, but she probably would have said "Oh, we don't use that word in our house. We say 'female dog.'"

By far my favorite thing is how five-year-old boys refer to their penis, or more specifically, how moms want their boys to refer to their penis before they discover that it's there for a reason other than peeing. Between ding-a-ling, Jimmy, the li'l fireman, Willy, ding-dong, wee-wee and doinker, it's a non-stop laugh factory. With so many different names, it's easy to forget about the most basic name of all, but fortunately my friend's six-year-old was kind enough to remind me:

Gotta love the name weiner. Or in Liam's case, the weener.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Loss Of Identity

To say that I have done a great job of maintaining my independence and have several unique interests that are in no way connected to my kids is a bunch of crap. Like a lot of other SAHMs, the only time I'm seen doing something that isn't kid- or family-related is when I'm working out at the club or drinking at a bar, and even then it's pretty likely that my kids are on the tennis court or at the table with me. As a result, a lot of people know me because of my kids so it seems that I'm always associated with their names. Sometimes I go days without hearing my actual name, and instead am referred to as "Charlie/Zach/Zoe's mom."

A couple days ago while I was running errands I got caught off-guard and couldn't avoid having to talk to another mom. After she said "Hi Zoe's mom!" the first thing she told her daughter was "Oh, you remember Zoe's mommy, don't you?" (To be fair, I have no idea what her name is either, because I barely know her and every time she has told me her name all I hear is "blah blah blah" because I'm never able to focus on anything besides her out-of-control hair and the fact that she wears mom jeans.) I looked at the girl and said "Hi, I'm Jody." She said "Hi, Zoe's mom."

Last night while we were in the car, Zach started talking about girl names. More specifically, he was telling me about the girl names he doesn't like, which include pretty much all names that start with the letter J. "Jane, Jill, Julie -- any time I hear a name that starts with 'J' -- I picture a freaky-faced spaz that acts weird and bizarre. Someone strange and completely annoying."

"Oh, kind of like the name Jody?" At this point I was trying to decide which was worse: That my name brands me as a bizarre weirdo, or that my kid forgot my name.

"Yeah. Or, oh. Um, that one's not as bad." So I got that going for me -- my name is not as bad.

I guess being known as "Zoe's mom" isn't such a bad thing. After all, it's a hell of a lot better than "Hi, my name is Freaky-Faced-Spaz-Who-Is-Completely-Annoying Adkins."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Play What?

Now that the snow is officially gone, mittens don't need to be worn to school and the bike tires have been pumped up, Zoe won't stop talking about summer: What are we going to do (have fun)? I can't wait (me either)! Can I go swimming (of course)? Will you buy popsicles (by the truckload)? Where is my pool (still at Target)? I can't wait (you already said that)! Can we go on picnics (as long as I can bring a couple beers)? Are we going on vacation (we haven't told her yet, but yes we're going on vacation)? Can I have a playdate (Ummm....WHAT? What the hell did you just say?!)?

I don't know where my daughter picked up such a horrible, wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap word, but it certainly wasn't from me. That word has never been uttered in our house, unless it's being used in a sentence like "No, you can't go over to Mary's house for a stupid playdate, because the word playdate makes mommy throw up in her mouth." Plus, conversing with Mary's mom about the playdate makes me want to chop my own head off.

As much as I hate the word playdate, I suppose I should be preparing myself for the fact that at some point this summer, Zoe will want to have a friend over. While the thought of hosting another six-year-old is not my idea of bliss, having to deal with the other six-year-old's mom is even worse. (Don't get me wrong, there are some moms that I love and these women can come over any day any time because we're already friends, and our friendship doesn't exist just because we happen to have kids the same age: it's because we understand, and like each other.) So, since I will probably have to be civil to a bunch of women that are complete strangers but don't want to sacrifice what's left of my sanity for my daughter's social life, I have created a contract that the other parent will be required to sign before any not-a-playdate is initiated.


This Agreement is entered into between me (over-scheduled, hyper-critical, sometimes drunk) and you (kind of smothering, overly-chatty, boring) regarding the social interaction that will take place between my kid and your kid.
  1. Scheduling: The timing of said interaction will be negotiated and agreed upon by both parties, with a maximum time limit of three hours. If your kid is a picky eater, or if you have a list of weird dietary restrictions, then the specified time frame will not, under any circumstances, overlap with any meals. Any request for an extension of time will be presented to me before your departure and I reserve the right to say "No way in hell. Be here at 4:00."
  2. Services Included: This not-a-playdate is defined as your child and my child playing, laughing, running, sometimes fighting and maybe even finding something to do that your kid might enjoy. These activities are not required to be educational, might include some violence, will not involve craft supplies or kits, and will hopefully require minimal supervision from me. In fact, they might even watch a movie. Or three. Reasonable snacks will be provided if your child gets hungry.
  3. Services Not Included: Excessive discipline beyond saying "Stop it," preparation of any food that requires turning on the oven/stove, feeling bad if the cheese crackers aren't organic or hesitating to tell you if your child breaks something. My child will not be required to put up with excessive amounts of whining or bossiness from your child just because she's "the guest." I am not always (or ever) going to ask if you'd like to stay for coffee and chit-chat about our husbands/you/ vaccinations/you/vacations/you.
  4. Rights to Terminate: If, during the course of this not-a-playdate, your kid starts channeling satan, has eaten all the kettle chips and is on her fourth peanut butter sandwich, has peed on the floor or is just pissing me off in general, I have the right to call your cell phone, interrupt your pedicure and immediately put an end to my horrendous afternoon.
  5. Scheduling of Future Not-a-Playdates: You can ask me, but when I say "Well, I don't think so, we're kind of busy that day," I really mean "No. No. And um, no."

Signed: Me___________ You___________ Date: _________

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Non-Essentials

Even though I am married to a person that reads more books a year than anyone I know, I don't read nearly as many books as I used to. And when I say "nearly as many," it's really just another way of saying I don't read books. It's not that I don't have the desire to read, it's just that every time I try to focus on more than three pages at a time my head starts bobbing back and forth, my eyelids slam shut and I fall asleep. So instead of inducing narcolepsy by reading books, I read the newspaper every day and other things that don't require long stretches of concentration, like magazines.

Anyone that knows me at all will support my admission that I am clueless when it comes to fashion and style. I don't wear heels, I don't buy designer denim, my absence of a curvy figure omits anything low-cut and I don't wear jewelry. Despite this mild retardation when it comes to putting an outfit together that doesn't involve yoga pants and a hoodie, I do have a subscription to "In Style." But how I ended up with a subscription to "W" magazine is more than a little bewildering because there is no way in hell that I would have ever paid money for this oversized publication filled with overpriced, oftentimes hideous, crap.

Since it arrived in my mailbox and I'm always up for a good laugh, I thought I'd take a break from the sports section and see what the fashion world is up to. After I got past an ad for Marc Jacobs featuring a model standing in a toilet and a picture of a dress made from ostrich feathers, I came across an article titled "Cheat Sheet to Spring's Must-Haves." Obviously everyone has a different perspective on what defines a "must-have" and judging by W's list, some people in this world are, in fact, insane.

When I saw the prices attached to some of the items, the first thing I thought was holy shit what the fuck. And then I started thinking about the other, much cooler things (in my opinion) that could be purchased with the same amount of money:

Ralph Lauren sandal - $1,950. Ten pairs of sandals at Target and two pedicures a month for a year, including tip. Depending on where I get the pedi, there might even be enough leftover for a manicure or three.

David Yurman watch - $13,500. Three watches from Fossil. Also, two new tennis racquets for each of the three kids and one private tennis lesson a week for each kid, for a year, monthly club dues included.

Blumarine cardigan - $1,630. Five cardigans at JCrew, a sweatshirt for each of the kids, and 30 take-out lunches to be eaten at the park.

Chopard watch - $20,300. Three years of weekly piano lessons for the kids. Oh yeah, and a three-week Hawaii vacation with first-class airfare.

Bottega Veneta bag - $1,550. Twenty sessions with a personal trainer, followed by a bacon cheeseburger and an Extra Pale Ale after each workout.

Tom Ford eyewear - $420. Fifteen pairs of sunglasses at Target, none of which will cause tears to be shed when they are sat on/driven over/lost/mangled.

St. John's Couture jacket - $2,595. A jacket from REI that's actually wearable for each member of my family, and Sunday morning breakfast at Original Pancake House for a year.

Erdem dress - $5,445. Three dresses for Zoe from Mini Boden, 100 martinis for me, a few beers for Doug and maybe even some chips and salsa. And a 50" plasma TV.

J Brand shorts - $158. Three pairs of shorts at the Gap that actually fit a girl that has leg strength and doesn't have an eating disorder.

Eugenia Kim hat - $215. One baseball hat that can be worn to the bar ten times, where I will happily order onion rings and two glasses of Fat Tire on tap.

Nicole Miller top - $375. A top off of the sale rack at Banana Republic, and one year of HBO and Showtime.

Christian Louboutin bootie - $1,595. Six pairs of new shoes for each of the kids. Well, eight pair for Zoe because she's a girl.

Clinique All About Eyes Serum - $25.50. Okay, this one actually makes sense. In fact, I might be buying it in bulk.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mean Mondays

As if the traits that make me freakish aren't numerous enough, here's one more: on the ever-expanding list of chores that fall under the description of "Mom's Job," I don't hate laundry. Ever since I was lucky enough to become an owner of a front-load washer about a year ago, it's never a big deal to throw in a couple loads every-other-day and to be honest (and pathetic), I kind of enjoy it. Between the smell of detergent, successfully removing a stubborn stain, finding a mate for every sock, the stacks of perfectly folded clothes and knowing that every piece of clothing in the house is clean, doing laundry is almost as satisfying as sipping a perfectly mixed martini. Hey, I said almost as good.

One thing that throws a wrench into my clean laundry-induced glee is when, after everything has been washed and put away, I find a sweatshirt wadded up in the corner of a couch, a stray sock under a bed or smelly phy-ed clothes that never quite made it out of a backpack. More specifically, when Zach's phy-ed clothes never made it out of his blue backpack even though he has been told over and over again to make sure to take the clothes out and put them in the laundry basket that is only eight steps away from where his backpack belongs.

When he has forgotten in the past, I've always failed to jump off the enabling train and ended up digging the clothes out myself because I'm out-of-control anal and the thought of stinky gym clothes sitting unwashed makes me crazier than I already am. So when Monday morning rolls around and he has says oh whoops I forgot to put my gym clothes in the laundry, I get to stand there and smile like a pathetic loser and say "Oh that's okay. I got them out for you and washed them yesterday." What is this teaching my kid? While I'd like to think that he's super appreciative of everything I do, exceedingly grateful for the fact that I remembered to do his laundry and filled with regret and sorrow for forgetting yet again, I'm pretty sure that what he's actually thinking is that this arrangement kicks ass because he'll never have to waste time trying to remember stuff and be responsible because after all, mom will remember and always save his ass. Or in this case, his smelly armpits.

While I was sorting the laundry on Sunday I wasn't surprised to find that, as usual, the gym clothes had been forgotten. I was about to reach for his backpack to fish them out when I decided hell no. He's been reminded time and time again and keeps forgetting because there are never any repercussions. If I stop being pathetic and start being mean, maybe he would start remembering.

On Monday morning as Zach was getting his coat on, he looked at his backpack and said "Oh hey. Did you wash my phy-ed stuff yesterday?"

"Did your phy-ed stuff ever get taken out of your backpack? I don't remember seeing it in the laundry." I was proud of myself for: A) Coming up with a response that didn't involve a lie, and B) Not apologizing, even though I wanted to.

"No. I forgot to take it out, but thought you'd do it anyway. Great. Well, bye." I could tell he was a little less than thrilled at the prospect of having to jump around a junior high gymnasium in two hours, wearing gross clothes.

Did I feel a little bit like a horrible mom for not doing my kid's laundry when it was sitting right there? YES! I felt like crap! But then I thought oh my god he's 13-years-old, has been reminded eighteen bajillion times and had more free time over the weekend than I did. And besides, if it's important to him to not smell like a "This is why you should use deodorant" poster child, then making sure his laundry ends up where it's supposed to should be more of a priority, right? RIGHT?

Oh, who the hell cares if I was right. I still feel like poop on a shoe.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Clean 'Em Up!

Even before the economy started tanking, my kids were aware of the fact that not everyone in the world is financially content and fortunate enough to have a warm home with fresh fruit in the refrigerator and cookies in the pantry. More specifically, they know that there are certain intersections in the Minneapolis area that seem to be occupied 24-hours-a-day by someone holding a poorly made cardboard sign that often includes words like "homeless, out of work, needs money, hungry" and "broke."

Nowadays, it seems that more and more corners are being occupied and some of these intersections are located in places where it's not exactly convenient to throw cash out the window. Besides, if I said goodbye to $10 every time I saw a cardboard sign, pretty soon I'd need a cardboard sign of my own.

When Zach was little, he suggested that since these people seemed so hungry maybe we should give them a turkey sandwich and a bag of chips instead of cash. That way they would have something to eat without having to take a trip to the grocery store. I tried to explain to him that these guys just preferred the cash because they might not want a turkey sandwich for lunch. He said oh yeah, they might want ham.

Since everyone in our family uses a Sonicare toothbrush, all of the toothbrushes that are sent home from the dentist or school end up in a designated guest toothbrush drawer (please, don't laugh at me). When Zoe brought one home from school a couple days ago, I noticed that we had accumulated way more toothbrushes in this drawer than we would ever have guests, but it seemed pretty wasteful to just throw them away. That's when I got a brilliant idea: I should put together a few personal hygiene bags, keep them in the car and give them to the homeless! The kit would include a toothbrush, a travel size tube of toothpaste, a small bar of soap, and maybe a comb. After all, I always feel better after I brush my teeth, everyone loves a new toothbrush and I'll bet these guys would really appreciate a bar of soap.

I was pretty excited about my creative idea and thought that everyone else in my family would be too. When I mentioned it to them, though, they didn't think it was a very good idea. In fact, they thought it was pretty stupid and I think the boys were kind of afraid of what would happen if we were to pull up to a stoplight, open the window, and watch as a penniless guy opened up a bag and instead of finding cash discovered a bar of Ivory and a tube of Crest. I think their actual words were: "Holy crap is that ever dumb. Our car will be pelted with toothbrushes."

Suddenly those turkey sandwiches don't sound like that bad of an idea, especially if I start wrapping those sandwiches in $5 bills. And I know that Goodwill won't accept fun things like a Sit & Spin, but does anyone know if they will accept new toothbrushes, still in their original packaging?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Interrupted Sleep

Even though the thought of being pregnant again makes me break out in hives and consider duct taping my knees together, I am always happy to hear that other people are pregnant, especially people that are related to me. Thanks to my brother's ability to produce swimmers and my sister-in-law Ali's willingness to sacrifice her abs for a few months, I am going to be an aunt in May. While Ali and I have talked about useless baby equipment (which includes most baby equipment), delivery (owie) and nursing (just jam the sucker in her mouth), one topic that hasn't really come up is sleep. So here you go, Ali. Here's my advice...

When it comes to sleep, you're fucked.

There are some insensitive people out there that insist on making you feel bad by telling you that their three-week-old baby is sleeping seven hours at a time, and they're full of shit. Maybe the baby slept that long once, but that one time doesn't mean that the infant is a freak of nature and sleeping through the night every night. As long as you're prepared for the fact that you will be sleep deprived and yes, my darling little niece will shriek at 2am and my brother might not get up and if you thought you were tired in your first trimester that was nothing, you'll be okay.

When little pumpkin face is around eight-months-old and has fooled you by sleeping more than eight-hours at a time, you feel like you have an actual bedtime routine and you find yourself loving this child more than you could imagine, colds and ear infections will appear, teeth will try to bust out and hard-earned sleeping habits will be disrupted. The worst part about this phase is that your body has been reintroduced to the blissful world of sleep, but now you find yourself awake at 2am AGAIN! At some point you will look at this crying kid wearing a crusty film under her nose and instead of whispering "Oh, sweet little pumpkin, mommy's sorry you don't feel good. I'm here for you." you'll loudly say, "I know you are capable of sleeping through the night because you've done it before, so GO BACK TO SLEEP!"

I'd like to say that at some point my niece will sleep through the night and after that you will be guaranteed to always get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, but I kind of discourage lying. No matter how old kids are they occasionally wake up because of: bad dreams, wet beds, bloody noses, scary thunderstorms, illnesses or a bug on the ceiling. Even if it's an innocent trip to the bathroom at midnight because a kid drank too much water before bed, you will still wake up and listen, just in case. There are also non-kid related disruptions: sick pets, sick spouses, noisy neighbors, thunderstorms and of course, the post-pregnancy bladder. It's not that these things didn't mess my dreams up before I had kids, it's that they wake me up in addition to my kids also waking me up, which adds up to a lot of lost sleep.

So, Ali, thank you for being the designated driver over the last few months, I'm sure we will have many more conversations before you shove my niece's head out your hooha and I'll just give you one last piece of advice: Yves Saint Laurent makes a great undereye concealer.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Good Morning Is An Oxymoron

I have watched movies about the destruction of the world, zombie attacks, shrinking children, hobbits, hit men, time travel and people switching bodies. But by far the most fictional part of any movie is a scene that shows all of the children sitting together around the kitchen table in the morning, smiling, and the mom is serving up breakfast, smiling.

While next year might be a little easier, right now feels like I'm suffering from a revolving door syndrome because I have three school-age kids getting up at three different times. Most mornings it seems that my primary function is to be a combination of back-up alarm clock and Julie the Cruise Director. Once each person has joined the land of the upright, is actually conscious and muttering understandable words, I then make sure that they eat something for breakfast that won't cause a stomach ache, mid-morning sugar crash or be too filling/not filling enough before they head out the door on time with their teeth brushed, without forgetting anything and hopefully not wearing a non-sucky outfit.

Occasionally things go off without a hitch, but most of the time there's at least a little bit of chaos. Sometimes Zach has to get up earlier than normal so he has to reset his alarm clock, and in the process manages to change the time from a.m. to p.m. There have been several times when Charlie's alarm goes off but the volume is so low that it doesn't actually wake him up. Moments like these don't say "Hey look at me mom, I'm an independent person and even though I can't remember to turn lights off, at least I can get up at a designated time all by myself." They say "Hey, I'm kind of a moron, and even though I can remember what each button does on an Xbox controller, I can't figure out how to use three buttons and a volume knob on a simple $9.99 clock radio."

Fortunately, Zoe wakes up around 8:00 without the need for an alarm. This might be due to the fact that when she was younger we put a clock radio in her room and told her "Don't even think about putting a foot on the floor and getting out of this bed until you see an 8 on that clock." At least once-a-week, though, she lays buried under her down comforter like a 16-year-old and shows no desire to be awake. This is when I have to chant "Zoe get up. Zoe get up. Zoe you have to get up. Zoe you have to go to school. Zoe you're going to be late." The strangest thing is that "I'll just call the teacher and tell her 'Zoe won't be at school today because she wouldn't get out of bed.'" is the threat that always manages to get her up. Once she's finally awake, I switch my chanting to "Zoe eat your breakfast. Zoe eat your breakfast. Zoe you need to eat your breakfast or you're going to be late."

And don't even get me started on how daylight savings has fucked things up.

I realize that I am extremely lucky in that I only have to make sure that three people are up, fed, clothed and out the door on time. I have resigned myself to the fact that unless I have a morning appointment to get to or would like to run errands in something other than a baseball hat and yoga pants, my being showered and presentable is not a priority before 9 a.m. How people that work full-time and also have to get kids to daycare or school without morning breath and in something other than pajamas five-days-a-week pull it off is, to say the least, impressive.

Our spring break is a little over a week away and I am really looking forward to having a week of relaxing mornings to maybe sleep in a little bit, let the kids eat cold cereal straight from the box and sit around in their pajamas. After all, it's not just a week off from school and homework: it's a week off from violin, piano and club tennis.

And then I found out that during spring break Zach has high school tennis practices two times a day, every day, with the first one starting at 8 a.m. DAMMIT!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Good and Bad of Kindergarten

When Zoe gets home from school each day I always get a pretty thorough report. Although I've noticed that she sometimes leaves out bits of information like "I yelled at Savannah" or "I ran in the hall and got busted," she's pretty good about remembering what song she sang in music, who (else) got in trouble, who picked their nose and if anyone brought in a birthday treat. Now that we are two-thirds of the way through the school year, I've realized that there are some things that I like hearing about more than others.

Things I like to hear about kindergarten:

Zoe brought home her "report card" for the second trimester and we reviewed it together. I congratulated her on the fact that her "grades" have improved and are really good for things like math and reading, but pointed out that she still seems to be having a little trouble when it comes to controlling herself physically and verbally, showing respect and working/playing well with others (stop getting confused, I'm still talking about Zoe). She stared down at the minus signs attached to the "S" marks and decided right then and there that she was going to make those minus signs disappear by the end of the school year. In fact, she said "I'm going to be a behaver from now on."

Thinking that the novelty of her new goal would last a day or two before she returned to her dominating ways, I was surprised when she came home on Thursday and said that "Michael finished a worksheet before me and said 'Ha ha. Nah nah' to me. That made me mad, so I told the teacher and the teacher got mad at him." While I'm glad that she didn't haul off and push Michael off of his chair or stab the back of his hand with her pencil for saying something so completely moronic, I'm not super thrilled that she could potentially be becoming a tattle-tale. I guess I'm going to have to work harder at teaching her the crucial skill of blowing boys off and ignoring them.

Things I don't like to hear about kindergarten:

In addition to the story about Michael being creatively challenged, she also said that "Zeke sits at the white table, and he threw up all over it and it was so gross (fortunately Zoe sits at the red table). So the teacher gave him a trash can and he walked down to the nurses office. It was so gross, so I looked away and pinched my nose." She told me this story while I was making her lunch and right before she plopped onto the couch, holding a book in her hands.

"That's a really gross story, Zoe. Hey, did you wash your hands with soap and water when you got home?" Please let her say yes, please let her say yes. Please let this not be the one day that she forgot...


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is Everyone Insane?

Since there are etiquette classes available for table manners, maybe a shopping etiquette class should be required before a person can put a foot inside a grocery store or Target. Lately, it seems like every time I'm out running errands all I come across are rude, arrogant, selfish, inconsiderate, clueless morons. It could be that everyone is suffering from SADS, or a lack of peripheral vision, or have just decided that they don't give a rats ass what anyone thinks of them because, obviously, their time/space/ego/life is much more important than everyone else's. Ideally I'd like to never have to subject my lack of patience to a retail industry ever again, but since my family requires things like food, toothpaste, vodka and science project supplies I am forced to put myself in the middle of an idiot convention on an almost daily basis.

Watch Out! If you are walking through the parking lot and see that I'm already backing up out of my spot, please do not start walking faster just so that you can go behind me and give me a nasty look like I was about to run you over and "Oh my god look where you're going why didn't you see me!" I didn't see you because I don't have x-ray vision that allows me to see through SUV's and minivans. Besides, if I had seen you, I would have been backing up much faster.

Crosswalk Courtesy: Just because the crosswalk lines span the entire width of the parking lot, it doesn't mean that you should walk diagonally through the entire crosswalk at a snail's pace while holding the hand of a small child, texting, or like I saw yesterday, doing both and pushing the cart with your foot.

Chatty Cathy: If, while shopping, you bump into someone you know and are just dying to talk to them, find a far-off corner where A) we don't have to listen to you and B) you aren't blocking off an entire aisle because you guys parked your carts facing each other. And when someone has to get by and says "Excuse me," you do not have the right to sigh loudly and roll your eyes as you move your cart because we interrupted your riveting conversation about the upcoming dance recital where your daughters get to dress up as daisies.

We're All In A Hurry: I don't know how many times I've almost been run over because some crazy cart-pushing person (who is almost always on the phone) comes flying out of an aisle without bothering to see if they're about to bash into someone that is right there. Usually, I say "Oh, SORRY!" like, sorry you're a stupid bitch and don't know how to perform the simple task of navigating aisles with even basic common courtesy. Inevitably, the person either ends up ignoring me because they never saw me or they stare at me with their eyeballs bulging out of their face, sigh loudly and say "that's okay," like their lack of brain function is all my fault.

Yes, I See Your Child. Now Go Away. Since I now have the luxury of having a two-hour window each morning to run errands without a kid tagging along, I prefer to not have to acknowledge each and every small child I see. The other day there was a little girl with a limited vocabulary sitting in one of those gargantuan wide-right-turn carts who kept looking at me and saying "Hi, hi, hi, hi" while I was trying to find some decent grapes. I finally said hi back and the mom gave that goofy little giggle and smiled at me with that "Isn't she just the most precious wonderful adorable thing you've ever seen" look, even though she wasn't that cute. So of course she continued to say hi and I played along for a couple more hi's and then made a break for it before I went insane. Unfortunately, the girl started shrieking "HI! HI! HHHHHIIIIIIII!" at the top of her lungs and I heard the mom say "Oh, sweetie. Where did that lady go?" I'll tell you where that lady went: to the other side of the store. I got a glimpse of her later on in aisle 7, but since I wasn't pushing a ginormous car cart, I was able to turn around quickly and run the other way.

The Deli Dilemma: If you really can't decide what pasta salad to get because they all look so delectable, never hesitate to tell the always-patient deli employee to "Go ahead and help her first" because some of us are just there for a pound of turkey.

Get Off The Phone: Get off the phone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Even though my adoption certificate says that I was shipped from South Korea and my appearance sort of supports that theory, I'm pretty sure that there was a clerical error and I actually came from Ireland. Besides the fact that I loathe kimchi and don't play "World of Warcraft," there are other traits that support my belief:
  1. I like corned beef, especially in a reuben.
  2. Jameson. Self-explanatory.
  3. I like the sound of bagpipes.
  4. I don't like snakes which, coincidentally, don't exist in Ireland.
  5. I think limericks are funny.
  6. Fish 'n chips, yes. Octopus stew, no.
  7. I like Flogging Molly, Damien Rice, and that other band - U2
  8. My parents went on a pub crawl through Ireland.
  9. I have a friend with the last name "Flannery."
  10. I like an author with the last name "O'Connor."
  11. My husband used to have a client called "O'Donovan's."
  12. There is always a box of Lucky Charms in our pantry.
  13. There's a restaurant named "Claddagh" in our suburb.
  14. Leprechauns, while kind of creepy, aren't as creepy as Kai Lan. (Yes, I know that technically Kai Lan is Chinese, but everyone's always telling me that we all look alike anyway.)
  15. I like to drink on St. Patrick's Day.
So put on a kilt, grab a hunk of soda bread, hoist your Harp Lager into the air and let's all toast our heritage together!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One Minor Glitch...

Okay, so I wasn't completely honest when I said that nothing angered me enough over the weekend that was worth me taking the time to write about, because Zach did manage to piss me off on Friday. I'm going to go ahead and attribute it to the fact that a teenage brain only has access to the area where common sense is located for short periods of time each day, and I'm still trying to figure out when that fifteen minute window occurs.

Since we were spending the day driving to 83 different places he decided to bring his DS in the car. Unless where we're going is over an hour away, I normally don't let them bring anything valuable in the car because I'm not a big fan of having my windows smashed out for a $125 toy. But considering the fact that we weren't going to be in any one place for an extended period of time, always going to be parked in visible areas and that there are about 35 different hiding spots in the minivan, I didn't say anything and let him bring it.

When we pulled into the parking lot at Noodles & Co. for lunch, I was going to remind him to make sure that his DS was hidden out of sight but then decided not to because I figured he'd say something like "Really? You think I should? Well, duh, I'm not stupid. Stop reminding me. I know already." and since we had been having a fairly smooth morning, why start a fight now? As soon as we ordered and sat down, though, he looked at me and said: "Oh crap. I left my DS on the seat. Someone should go move it."

"You're kidding me, right? I was going to tell you when we got out to make sure and stick it on the floor or something, but didn't because I figured you'd remember." I knew I should have ordered a beer with my pan noodles.

"You were not going to say that. You're a liar. That was such a lie." Yes, you read that right. My kid just called me a liar. I may have avoided giving him the opportunity to say something crappy to me the first time, but this one more than made up for it.

I grabbed my keys and walked -- okay, more like stomped -- out to the car and if I hadn't left my purse at the table I probably would have just jumped in and drove away. I also resisted the urge to drive back and forth over his DS case and instead stuck it somewhere that was out of sight: in the back of the van, where he couldn't reach it.

When I went back to our table our food was just arriving and everyone was silent. Zach knew he was in trouble so he grunted an apology but otherwise just sat there and ate while I composed a lecture in my head. Something I realize is that when one kid is in trouble, the other two manage to pull out good behavior like I've never seen because their goodness really stands out against the other kid's misdeeds. They also know that if they're the slightest bit bad when I'm already mad about something else, then utensils may start flying through the air.

After a few minutes of carb and Sriracha consumption, I finally managed to tell him that what he said was really craptastic and that maybe he should have used the "say things to yourself silently before you say it out loud" tip I gave him a couple weeks ago. I told him that I didn't remind him about his stupid DS earlier because I didn't want to deal with his smart-ass remark, but I ended up hearing a much worse smart-ass remark that also accused me of lying. And then I told him to not make a sound and let me be mad for five more minutes and then I would be fine.

Sure enough, after about five minutes we were all back to normal and having fun watching the mom at the table next to us try to carry on an adult conversation with her friend while simultaneously trying to stop her four-year-old son from throwing all of his mac & cheese on the floor while laying on his chair pretending to be Superman. At one point she said: "Austin, sweetie, you're making a big messy mess and mommy wants you to sit nicey-nice. Can you do that for mommy? Mommy will get you a cookie if you do." I wanted to tell her "Yeah, well, in ten years he might sit nicey-nice, but he'll also call you a lying liar!" but my five minutes of anger was up and plus, from the looks of her kid and how she's dealing with him, being called a liar will be the least of her issues.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Minor Miracles

Over the weekend a few things happened that not only amazed me but actually made me think that gee, my kids are actually all right sometimes. Of course there were a couple disagreements and a few snarky remarks, but I was never enraged to the point where I was thinking about running away from home or, at the very least, writing a blog post about it.

In fact, maybe all this bitching, moaning, complaining, alcohol consuming, eye-rolling, nagging, ranting, smacking and yelling is finally paying off. And then it occurred to me that Easter is coming up and they're probably hoping that a short stint of good behavior will make something besides a book and jelly beans appear in their baskets. Either way, I'll take it.

It all started when the kids had the day off from school on Friday. Despite the fact that we left the house at 10:15 a.m., drove a total of 150+ miles, waited for two appointments, watched Zach win a nighttime tennis match and our day didn't end until we walked in the door at 11:00 p.m. no one, not even Zoe, complained.

On Saturday morning, the boys had to get up early and put on dress clothes to play in a piano competition. Again, no complaints and they got in the car on time, to drive another 50 miles.

Zach had a really tough tennis match on Saturday night and Charlie watched the entire thing from beginning to end. Not only did he support his big brother, but he completely sympathized with Zach because of his opponent's playing style. (A note to those of you that know junior tennis: even in 16's, some kids still play moonball.) What impressed me the most was that even though Zach ended up losing, he played hard from beginning to end, never showed any sign of wanting to quit or give up and left the match with as much confidence as he had going into it.

I was worried about how Zoe would handle being up late two nights in a row. Somehow, even though the match didn't start until 8:15 and lasted an hour and a half she sat on the bleachers, played her DS and colored without ever complaining, yelling or having an exhaustion-induced meltdown.

While heading home at almost 10:00, I was hoping that Zoe wouldn't fall asleep. Zach, after having just played a couple hours of tennis, sat by her in the van and quietly sang songs with her for half-an-hour, letting her request songs that he had sang at his Disney-themed choir concert a week ago. It was one honestly of the coolest things I've ever heard.

While I was trying to get caught up with laundry and cleaning on Sunday, I heard four magical words: "Can I help you?"

When I put a bowl of Cheetos/kettle chips/pretzels on the table before friends came over on Sunday night, Zoe looked at it and said "Oh, well where are the carrots?"

Now that all the snow has finally melted off the bushes and the last of the Christmas lights and extension cords are accessible, Charlie not only offered to pull them off and put them away but actually managed to do the job with minimal assistance.

Since I was hardly home this weekend and drove over 300 miles, the bottle of vodka sat mostly untouched. Shockingly enough, I survived this deprivation and am even able to talk about it. Did I survive it and remain sane, though? Well, that's debatable. And as much as I've enjoyed the last few days I'm sure my real kids will be returning on Monday. Oh, and now I have to iron two dress shirts and in case you didn't know, I hate ironing.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Daily Beef About Chicken

Considering the fact that my husband is a writer and owns an ad agency and as a result I have friends that produce work for a wide range of clients, I don't often criticize or complain about the commercials I see, at least not in public. After all, in this economy anyone who is still employed in the advertising industry is fortunate, even if that means that they have to write spots that aren't creative masterpieces for things like tampons or dog food. Occasionally though, I see a TV spot that is so bad for so many reasons I can't help but talk about it.

Yes, Tyson chicken nuggets. I'm referring to you.

Since Zoe realizes that most commercials (except dad's TV spots, of course) are crap, she keeps the remote handy whenever she is watching TV so that she can either hit the mute button or fast forward through them (if what she's watching is on DVR). Unfortunately, the first time this Tyson spot aired in our house, she wasn't quick enough with the mute.

Just in case it wasn't already difficult enough to get young kids to eat something besides fries, chicken nuggets and cookies, Tyson has decided to run a commercial starring adorable youngsters making faces of disgust and talking about all the foods that they hate. This list includes perfectly edible items like sausage, asparagus, meatloaf, pasta and string beans. One little girl says that "pasghetti" (the one thing that I thought all kids loved), looks like worms.

Since she heard the voices of children instead of my voice, Zoe immediately paid attention. "Hey that girl says meatloaf is gross. And string beans sound gross. What? Spaghetti is made out of worms? Oh look, that boy really likes those chicken nuggets. Those chicken nuggets look good."

While I hate it when people blame TV and other forms of media for brainwashing their kids and turning them into mindless consumers, I get a little pissed off when some chicken company thinks it's funny to make the job of feeding kids harder than it already is. I have no problem telling Zoe "No I am not buying you Moon Sand just because you saw it on TV" or "No I am not buying those cookies just because you saw the elf cartoon on TV" since these are items that I was never planning on purchasing no matter how spectacular they looked in the commercial. I would, however, like her to eat the meatloaf and beans that I sometimes make for dinner without having to hear her say "but the girl on TV said that meatloaf was gross."

I reminded Zoe that she likes meatloaf (covered in ketchup), string beans are the same beans that she's eaten several times and that no, of course spaghetti is not made out of worms. I also told her that this particular commercial and the kids in it are stupid because although that boy was lucky enough to get some green grapes with his chicken nuggets, he never ate them. I also maybe said something like did you know those all natural ingredients used to make Tyson chicken nuggets are actually chicken feet and feathers.

The ironic thing is that Tyson claims that "they can make my job a little easier." I guess they're sort of right, since now when I'm grocery shopping I'll be able to skip going down the aisle with the Tyson chicken nuggets.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Parking Problems

Since my existence as a mom requires me to spend approximately 63.879% of my life in my minivan (or in the case of this weekend, 89%) I witness a lot of bad, and I mean bad, driving. The most frustrating thing is that while some people are just naturally bad drivers, it seems that the majority of people that drive like shit do so because they obviously just don't care. They don't care that there are other people around them that would like to get to their destination without being run over, smashed into, cut-off, run into the median, or killed. These inconsiderate drivers are usually guilty of one, if not all, of the following:
  • Texting, updating Facebook status, Twittering, checking basketball scores or emailing while occasionally looking up to see where they're going. Limiting these activities to when they're sitting at a stoplight doesn't help because then they never notice when the light turns green.
  • Talking on the phone. I'm not referring to every phone call because obviously sometimes an emergency comes up that requires a 30 second conversation. I'm referring to those conversations that are clearly not about anything other than holy shit can you believe what Bonnie wore to the PTO meeting last night I can't believe anyone would own earrings like that and what are you bringing to the Bunco party on Friday and isn't Bonnie's kid stupid? Personally, my favorite thing to see is when these women are holding the phone with one hand and then use the other hand to either wave at someone they know who is driving by or make hand gestures that accompany the conversation.
  • Cruising down the freeway in the left lane, but then they suddenly realize that they need to exit. So instead of dealing with their error by taking the next exit and turning around they decide to slam on their brake, say fuck you to everyone else on the road and cut across three lanes of traffic so that they don't miss the exit. Inevitably, these morons are usually on the phone or have an ear piece hanging off of their head, and that's a thousand times more annoying than if they were just not paying attention.
  • When the Buick in front of me is only going 40 mph at the bottom of the entrance ramp (And there is nothing I can do about this. Believe me, I've tried.) and the car behind me is not only right on my ass honking like a lunatic, but thinks that maybe I don't really want to be on the freeway, so they try to merge into traffic before me.
  • Failure to perform the difficult task of using a turn signal, usually because one hand is busy holding a phone and the other one is busy making a hand gesture. Guess what: I can make a hand gesture too.
  • Driving 53 mph in the left lane. This is usually because the driver's brain is only able to do one task at a time and of course the most important task at the moment is not driving the car, it's the phone conversation about Bonnie.
Sadly, the idiocy does not go away once the car is put into park. There are obviously some people who seem to think that the other cars in the parking lot are there to act as a suggestion as to where they should park -- kind of like safety cones -- but without being neither orange, cone-shaped nor moveable. My husband's car was recently mistaken for a safety cone but, unlike a malleable slab of orange thermoplastic, his car did not snap back into shape. At least the person that didn't know how to park and hit Doug's car was kind enough to leave a note. Just because Doug never actually found an apology note anywhere near or on his car, I'm sure that this person was moral enough to leave a note and it just happened to blow away. Or was eaten by zombies.

Two excuses that this idiot could have used are: the downtown Minneapolis parking lots are tight and until recently, the surface of this particular lot has been solid ice. Still no excuse for a dent-and-run, but I'm sure that Doug's car is not the only one that suffered an unclaimed gouge this winter.

Since most of my parking lot adventures take place in uncrowded suburban lots with plenty of space between the lines, I have no trouble maneuvering my minivan into spots without hitting other cars and kind of despise people that can't park and knowingly take up two spaces. Sort of like this person:

The sweet, forgiving side of me thought that maybe they had to park like this in order to avoid hitting the car on the passenger side. Uh, no, that was not the case. Four feet away from the other side of this car was the decorative, rock-and-shrub-filled curb.

I don't know if this driver is also responsible for shoving the blue shopping cart into the car across from it, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that they are.

Friday, March 12, 2010

869 Down, Four To Go

The second trimester of school is over, which means that the school year will soon be over and exactly three months from today, I will be enjoying a much-needed week of vacation on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Before my boarding pass is scanned, though, I will need to survive one more choir concert and an orchestra concert plus extra rehearsals for both of these, a high school tennis season, two piano recitals, six tennis tournaments and four more science projects. Yes, you read that right...


In the past, the thought of having to do four science projects in an entire school year would have been enough for me to consider homeschooling. Since I'm not insane I wouldn't have actually followed through with it, but I would have considered it for about three minutes. Now I'm at the point where the news of having only four more projects is like hearing that a money tree has sprouted in the backyard. Or that Ketel One has decided to give me a lifetime supply of vodka. Or that the fries at Five Guys are now fat-free.

Then I found out that the fourth-to-last project is a group project, and it kind of felt like someone had just taken a chainsaw to my recently-sprouted money tree. And then Zach informed me that he was hosting the first group meeting at our house, and that was like the Ketel One prize turning into a lifetime supply of Jagermeister.

He scheduled the first meeting for an afternoon when I would be gone at Charlie's violin lesson, and that made me happy. While I've never been a big fan of leaving the house when my kids have friends over, I figured this was an ideal time to become a fan. After all, these kids were all old enough to be left alone, but young enough to not deviate from the original purpose of getting together (science project) into something else (hey, there's a wet bar in your basement).

Since these teenagers came to our house straight from school, I threw a random assortment of snacks on the coffee table, pointed at the bar fridge, said help yourself, call me if you need anything and goodbye. As I was going up the stairs I heard a couple boys say "Awesome! Gimme a Red Bull." Note to self: One kid's friends have officially outgrown juice boxes.

While I was sitting in the car waiting for Charlie's lesson to get done, I got a call from Zach. I would have welcomed a phone call for the following reasons:
  • We're all hungry again, so can we order pizza?
  • We're done with the project because we worked extra hard.
  • We ended up playing video games the whole time and forgot to do the project. Could you do it for us?
  • Just calling to say that I miss you, and my friends think you're really cool.
  • The house is under attack by zombies.
Instead, Zach started yelling about how the dog had taken a dump in the house and "Oh my god what do I do now?" I could hear the other kids in the background laughing their asses off and saying "Oh man, it smells! Like shit!

I told him duh, grab some toilet paper, pick it up, throw it in the toilet and flush. "You mean with my hands? I have to pick it up with my hands? GROSS!" As soon as he said this the background laughter got louder and I'm pretty sure I heard Zach make some faint gagging sounds.

Apparently the thought of having to pick up dog shit made his brain shut down even more than normal because when I told him that there was a can of Lysol under the kitchen sink, along with some Clorox wipes and if the smell was really bad he should just crack a window open, all he heard was "blah blah blah my dog shit on the floor blah blah girls are laughing at me blah blah" and all he could say is "WHAT? WHAT? WIPES WHERE? WHAT? OH MY GOD!"

It really doesn't matter that there are only four projects left, because I hate science projects. In fact, I hate them almost as much as I hate knowing that my dog is getting really old and keeps crapping on the floor, and I hate all of these things almost as much as the fact that the fries at Five Guys will never, no matter how much I wish they were, be fat-free.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm Too Predictable

These are things that I would be perfectly happy never having to say again for the rest of my life. Okay, maybe six months. Yeah, one month would be just about perfect. In fact, I'd be happy to have two weeks off from saying any (or all) of these phrases:

Zoe eat your breakfast.
What? Another science project?
Stop climbing on the back of the couch.
Yes, you need to wear a coat.
No you cannot have a snack right now.
No I am not buying you candy.
No I am not buying you a stuffed animal.
Zoe eat your lunch.
Stop asking me to buy everything you see.
Stay away from the dog's butt.
Please don't stand right behind me.
Please don't fart on your brother.
Seriously! Who does that?!
Stop using your shirt to wipe your mouth.
Really, that's okay, I didn't want any help anyway.
Did anyone feed the dog?
Zoe stop singing and eat your dinner.
You need to cut your fingernails.
Please go to bed.
Not later, now. I said go to bed now.
I really meant it. GO TO BED.
Yeah, you probably are hungry. Maybe you should have ate dinner.
Stop telling me things while the hair dryer is on.
What do you mean the dog crapped on the floor!
Please don't forget. Seriously, don't forget.
What do you mean you forgot?
What do you mean you lost it?
What do you mean we're out of vodka?