Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh Never Mind, It's Just Mom Talking

Do you ever have the feeling that your kids are impressed with your intelligence, enjoy listening to your point of view, are amused by your jokes, respect your opinions and are thankful for your wisdom? Yeah, neither do I.

While I don't expect my kids to be conformist robot children that are unable to voice an opinion or express displeasure in various situations, lately it seems that everything I say, no matter how insignificant or important it may be, is automatically declared "retarded" and results in one of the following lazy-ass, snarky caveman replies:
  • Why?
  • But that doesn't make any sense, so no.
  • I don't want to.
  • Ugga ooo ah ugg, uhhh.
  • (sigh) Just, enough. Geeez.
  • Can't someone else do it? I dunno who, just not me.
  • What are you talking about?
  • That sounds dumb.
  • Uh, what? Wudja say? You weren't talking to me, were you?
  • I got it. OK, yes. Got it. GOT IT! Wait, what?
A couple days ago, I was in the car with Charlie and we were headed home from one of his tennis clinics. Another parent at the clinic told me that one of the coaches had recently ran a marathon, and another had ran a half-marathon after losing a significant amount of weight. Like, triple digit significant. Since I can't visualize myself running any distance exceeding three miles without stopping for a beer and only own a scale so that I can weigh my luggage before I travel, these stories impressed me. And since Charlie only works with these coaches every-other-month, I don't know them very well and wanted to make sure I was pairing the correct name/face with the right success story.

I was attempting to talk to Charlie about these coaches -- specifically about Mark, the coach that lost all the weight -- because he lost so much weight that it truly altered his entire appearance, including his face. So I asked my kid who had just spent four hours with these coaches: "Hey, that guy sitting in the chair next to where I was standing, that was Mark, right?"

"Hmmm? What are you talking about? Mark who? There's no Mark. Whatever..." he mumbled while gazing aimlessly out the window.

Maybe I wasn't being specific enough, so I tried again: "Mark. Your coach at the tennis clinic Mark. Mark the guy that started eating better and lost weight Mark. Mark the guy who worked out like a maniac and started running and kept on running and in fact just ran a half-marathon Mark. That Mark."

"I seriously don't know a Mark and have no idea what you're talking about. Are you talking about Bruce? Bruce didn't lose any weight." Keep in mind, this is the third year that Charlie has been working with Mark.

"No, I'm not talking about Bruce and besides, I know him. I'm talking about Mark. I'm pretty sure he was standing next to me, but I just want to make sure." Seriously dude, wake the hell up!

"Oh, that guy? Well that's Mark, duh. And did you know he lost a bunch of weight? I dunno who you were talking about, but that guy was Mark." I looked at him peripherally, desperately searching for a hint of sarcasm in his eyes, or a "Holy shit I'm a stupid moron I can't believe I didn't know who you were talking about" look, but all I saw was a look that said "Mom is dummy. Oooga ugh meh."

"Boy, do I feel foolish. How could I have not known that was Mark. Maybe I should have asked you." Somehow, miraculously, I managed to not smack him in the forehead when he said "Yeah."

After a few minutes of silence, I noticed that Charlie was banging some random beat on the door handle. Just when I was wondering what the hell he was doing, he said "Hey mom, wanna hear my caveman song?"

"I've heard it. In fact, I hear it all day, every day." I was pretty sure he wasn't going to understand this.

"Whatever. I have no idea what you're talking about." And I was right.

A couple days later, the boys wanted to go hit some tennis balls with a friend of Charlie's. I took a break from mowing the lawn so that I could prop my sweaty self in the car and drive them there, then returned home to finish mowing at top speed before they needed to be picked up. Now, I'm not really a high maintenance kind of girl, but driving around with projectile sweat shooting out of my forehead and grass clippings coating my legs seems a little bit on the disgusting side. But since I didn't think I'd have time to take a shower before they would want a ride home, I somehow managed to hover over my car seat and drive back to the courts to pick them up.

Sure enough, as soon as I got there I found out they wanted to hit for just a few more minutes (at least, that's what I assumed because all I really heard was "Couple more, K.") so I sat on a bench and watched. And listened. And eventually made the fatal error of speaking.

Zach complained, "Man I'm serving like crap today and just double faulted twice."

I said, "That doesn't sound so good. Maybe you should serve a couple dozen balls before we head home."

Zach turned and looked at me like I just threw a bucket full of gasoline in his direction and was about to light the match and then grunt-yelled "Whatever! I'm not even talking to you! Gawwwwwd."

I contemplated just getting back in the car, driving home, turning all the ringers off and letting them find their own way home. But then I envisioned them having to walk the five miles home, hunched over and lugging those big tennis bags full of equipment, and decided against it.

After all, what if they got distracted by hunting a mastodon or starting a fire and someone decided to steal their bags? Replacing those racquets would be pretty expensive.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not Exactly Hallmark

On Saturday we went to a wedding reception for a former babysitter that is gorgeous, smart, soon-to-be very successful and also moving to London, where her husband is already employed. Since living quarters in London aren't exactly known as spacious and the happy couple will have to pay shipping costs to haul anything, they subtly stated a preference for wedding gifts: Cash. Just cash, please.

Although I considered just handing the dough over to the bride and skipping the card entirely, I realized that she wouldn't have anywhere to put it since she has an amazing sense of style and her college degree is in fashion, so her wedding dress probably didn't have pockets or come with a bridal fanny pack. Shockingly enough, I was correct. But since I'm also not a big fan of dropping $5 on a card that says something corny like "Your wedding day may come and go, but may your love forever grow" or "May your love bloom brighter and your companionship grow sweeter with each passing year," I decided to have Zoe make a card for them instead. I explained to her what we we needed the card for (Nick & Danielle are getting married, they're going on an adventure, please put our names on it), and after breaking out the Crayolas and giving her a blank piece of white paper, this is what she created:

Yes, she managed to include a boy and a girl, but unfortunately the girl is holding something that closely resembles a chainsaw. Yes, the boy has a smile on his face, but he also has something very red and very prominent oozing from his nose. Yes, she included names, but only two of them. No, she doesn't play M-rated video games or watch horror movies. So seriously, WTF.

I ended up finding a pre-printed coloring sheet of a boy and a girl standing together under one umbrella and gave her very specific instructions about how she should color it and after we all signed our names on the back of the picture, I shoved it in an envelope with some cash and we headed to the festivities. Zoe even wore a dress.

I truly wish the happy couple nothing but happiness, rainbows, fun adventures and zero hangovers, and if it weren't for the barrage of mosquitoes that wanted to turn my ankles into a buffet I would have stayed at the party until all the kegs were fried instead of running home to my tube of Cortaid. So, Nick and Danielle, sorry I left the party so early, I wish you all of the above, and just in case you would have preferred to receive the chainsaw picture instead of the cheesy umbrella picture, let me know and Zoe will be happy to bring it over.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lazy My Ass!

Three questions that I have already heard at least a dozen times this summer that make me want to commit murder, or at least inflict massive amounts of pain accompanied by significant bleeding:
  1. What are you going to do all day?
  2. Why are you so tan? Do you do anything besides sit in the sun? (I know, technically this is two questions, but they're related enough to be considered as one.)
  3. What are you going to do with all your time this fall when the kids will be in school all day? Are you going back to work? (Again, two questions, but one always accompanies the other and they're always asked by the same moron)
Here are my feeble, anger-managed attempts to answer the first two questions:

During the three, sometimes four months of a Minnesota summer when it is warm enough to sit outdoors dressed in something less than a turtleneck, I tend to get tan. Maybe this is due to the fact that, even though I like to act like I'm Irish, I'm really not Irish at all and am actually quite Asian. Like 100% Asian. And Asians tend to get sort of tan. Like really tan. Even with sunscreen. So, unlike my husband who only manages to get tannish, I get very brown. Not brownish or sun-kissed, but brown. I don't need to be stationary, reclined, or have a beer in my hand to acquire this tan, but those three things definitely don't hurt the process.

As far as what I do all day during the summer: The last time I checked, summer vacation didn't come stocked with a cleaning lady, chef, personal driver or errand boy. It also didn't come with a lawn boy, laundry service, dog walker or schedule manager. So even though I wish I was able to devote gobs of time to being selfish and thinking of nothing but myself when I'm sitting by the pool, that type of behavior would probably result in a sunburnt, starving or in a worst-case scenario, drowned child and a whole lot of lists that didn't get made for the errands that need to be ran in the car that someone has to put gas in and remember to get the oil changed.

So, even when it appears that I am taking advantage of a little personal time by participating in such indulgent activities as reading, sitting in the sunshine or peeing by myself, here's a little note to the inconsiderate morons that are assuming I'm being lazy and selfish and want to share their opinion with me: Shut the fuck up, because with stay-at-home-moms, nothing is ever as it appears to be.

What I'm doing: Peeing.
What I'm thinking: Oh look, the hand soap is almost gone so I need to add it to the never-ending Target list. I see a dried soapy water glob on the floor, maybe if I stretch really far I'll be able to reach it and clean it up. "What? No, I'm not sure how jelly beans are made, maybe if you wait until I'm done peeing we can find out together, because I don't have Google in here." Which reminds me, I need to call the pharmacy and refill my birth control prescription.

What I'm doing: Sitting by the pool.
What I'm thinking/saying: Come here I need to put sunscreen on you. Turn around. Turn around the other way. Not that way, the other way. Now you, come here for sunscreen. Thank you, kid #3, for needing your own personal invitation to get sunscreen on. Yes, we need to do your face too. Please stay where I can see you. No don't throw the football all the way across the pool. I don't care if you didn't do it, just say you're sorry. Please don't drown each other. No you cannot stand on each other's shoulders. Oh my god someone make that toddler quit screaming, I don't think he likes the water. Please shut him up. Please watch your sister so I can pee and get far away from that screaming kid.
What I'm hearing: Mom I'm thirsty. Mom I'm hungry. Mom I forgot to bring a towel from the locker room. Mom, where are my goggles. Mom I have to pee. Mom I'm thirsty again. Oh, all you have is water? I guess I'm not thirsty. I think I need more sunscreen. Where is it? I can't find it. I don't think it's in there can you find it? Mom I stubbed my toe on the bottom of the pool so I need a Band-Aid. Where are the Band-Aids? By the sunscreen?

What I'm doing: Watching a movie.
What I'm thinking: What was that noise? It sounded like feet on the floor, someone must be up and they're probably going to appear on the steps right as John Malkovich screams "You fucking fuckers!" at the top of his lungs. Oh crap, I forgot that I have a load of laundry in the dryer that I need to go fold. Sorry, yes you need to pause it, I'm really sorry, I'll be right back. In ten minutes. Oh, I might as well let the dog out while I'm folding laundry. Ah hell, where did the damn dog go? Shit, he took off. Guess it'll be longer than ten minutes. Great, now I have to go pee. And I see another soap scum glob on the floor. And there's the almost-empty soap, which reminds me that I still need to go to Target.

What I'm doing: Driving to tennis.
What I'm thinking: Did anyone forget anything? Does everyone have their tennis bag and a water bottle? Come on lady! Green means go! Accelerate please! Oh I see, you're on the phone, and your conversation is so much more important than actually operating your SUV. Zoe, please put your window up. No you may not yell at that man on the motorcycle because you might startle him and then he'll fall off and I might run him over and I don't have time to deal with something like that right now. No, you cannot have gum right now. No, I said no. No I can't get you a piece of gum, I'm trying to not crash. OK FINE! Charlie, get her a piece of gum! But please be quiet and stop shrieking! Oh, oh my god. Look at that girl driving without any hands. Well, that's why she's driving like that since she needed a free hand to throw a cigarette butt at me. Zach. Hey Zach. Zachary. ZACH!!!! Oh forget it, now I forgot what I was going to say.

What I'm doing: Exercising.
What I'm thinking: Why am I working out right now because I still need to cut the grass. Hopefully there isn't any crap from the neighbor's dog in my yard. Speaking of crap, I guess the kids are up since I hear feet and toilets flushing. Wait, what time is it? Man, I hope I have enough time to mow and then take a shower before the boys need to be at their orthodontist appointment. And I should probably sprint through the grocery store after their appointment since there is a tennis tournament this weekend. Which means I need to regrip racquets. I wonder how much gas is in the car, which also needs to be washed. Oh ick, that table over there is kind of dusty. Maybe I'll have time to clean between mowing and showering, before I leave for their appointment. Oh, hi Zoe. No, you cannot have Fruit By The Foot and Club crackers for breakfast. I'll make you something in seven minutes when I'm done working out. Seven. Yes, seven minutes. No, that's not infinity, it's seven stupid minutes. No, you will not starve. Go read two books and that will take seven minutes. No, you cannot eat a Fruit By The Foot while you read the books. Oh the hell with it. I guess I'm done.

What I'm doing: Sitting on the couch.
What I'm thinking: After cleaning the house, making three meals, running errands, doing four loads of laundry, working out, walking the dog, organizing a couple drawers, taking out the garbage and cleaning the kitchen for the fifth time in a day, I decided to grab a magazine and sit down on the couch.
What I hear: Hey mom, I was sitting there. And I'm hungry.

What I'm doing: Reading the paper.
What really happens: Researchers..."What? No, I'm not getting you a pet fish today. Maybe another day." Okay, where was I. Researchers have dis... "I don't know what day. Just not today. We don't have enough time." Researchers have discovered th... "No, I don't know how many sleeps it is until Cosmo's birthday. Yes, I know he's old." What the hell was I reading? Oh yeah, Researchers have discovered that the amo... "What? Yes, I suppose we will have to get him a cupcake or something. No, we are not taking him out to dinner." Resear... "He just can't go to dinner with us, that's why. Please let me finish reading the paper." Researchers have discovered that the amount of... "Really? Well, that's great. Thanks for letting me know that you just farted. I guess I'll just pinch my nose while I read." Researchers have dis... "No! You are not getting the fish tomorrow either! Seriously! Let me finish one sentence!" Researchers have discovered that the amount of vodka consumed by a stay-at-home-mom greatly exceeds the average amount consumed by the other adults.
What I'm thinking: Well, DUH!

As far as answering the third question, after a lot of brainstorming and introspection, I came up with the following answers: A) Stuff, and; B) No.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Doing Drugs

A few days ago I woke up with a little allergy/asthma related cough, so I inhaled a couple puffs of Albuterol. It managed to help my coughing, but it also made me dizzy, gave me a sore throat and in addition, I couldn't get to sleep.

To deal with the sleep issues, I took an Ambien. But the Ambien gave me even more of a sore throat, a stuffy nose, made me feel anxious and caused my face to swell up.

I can handle having a fat face, but figured I better deal with the anxiety. So in my dizzy, sluggish, groggy state, I took a Zoloft.

The Zoloft took away my anxiety, but then I just felt irritable, hostile, tired, and on top of it all, it gave me diarrhea. I also had no desire to have sex, but I don't know if this was because of the Zoloft or because of the diarrhea.

To treat the diarrhea, I angrily stomped to the medicine cabinet (while managing to not catch a glimpse of my fat face in the mirror) and took an Imodium, which ended up making me constipated and headachy. Figuring I should just go to sleep to get rid of the headache and let nature and time cure my digestive disturbance, I took another Ambien.

This time, the Ambien left me with a dry mouth and made me extremely thirsty so after all of the drugs were finally out of my system, I decided to just drink a beer.

Wouldn't you know, the beer cured everything and after two more, I felt perfect.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happily Hydrated

Today is the first official day of summer, and now that summer vacation is officially here and the temperature each day will (hopefully) make me sweat, I've decided to make a conscious effort to drink more water. The positive result of drinking more is that I stay hydrated and also feel like I'm setting a good example for my kids (See mom holding a bottle of water. I told you I don't always need to hold a bottle of beer, sometimes I am happy drinking water. Mmmmm, water.) The downside of drinking a lot of H2O is that I end up having to pee a lot. Like, all-the-time a lot. And like most other moms, I don't have time to be peeing all the time because if there's anything more inconvenient than having to find a bathroom for a kid that suddenly has to pee, it's finding a bathroom for yourself after holding it as long as you possibly can (which, after childbirth, really isn't that long) and then trying to convince the kids that they might as well go now while we're right by the bathroom so we don't have to find one later, but then end up arguing over the fact that they don't have to go now so they'll wait, but you refuse to lose a fight so you stand there doing a pee dance while yelling "Just go now while we're here! Try to go. JUST TRY DAMMIT!" so they say geez, have a spaz why don't you and then you suddenly understand why they're marketing Poise pads to such a young demographic. Yeah, this is all kind of inconvenient.

Drinking an extra glass of water or two a day doesn't seem like it should be a huge pain in the ass, but finding the perfect level of hydration is harder than it sounds. The most ideal scenario would be to find the happy place between never being desperately thirsty and not having to pee twenty times a day, but also being able to occasionally hit a blood/alcohol percentage that doesn't leave my pee the color of mustard. In order to achieve this goal, I read some hydration tips and have now come to the following conclusion: I'm screwed.

Start each day with a glass of water (no ice) before you have coffee. This seems like it should be easy, except for the fact that for me, a glass of water first thing in the morning tastes like paint thinner and makes me feel ill. After extensive research, I've discovered that the only beverage that agrees with me is coffee with caramel creamer and Splenda. After that first cup of coffee, though, I'm more than happy to drink a glass of water, as long as it's been heated to a high temperature before sucking the goodness from coffee grounds and then mixed with some caramel creamer and Splenda.

Eat two or three servings of fruits and vegetables at every meal. Since I eat berries for breakfast and a ginormous salad for lunch pretty much everyday, I'm going to go ahead and say that I probably don't have a fruit and vegetable shortage, and therefore won't be able to use this tip to increase my hydration levels. However, if I do feel like I am experiencing a shortage, then I'm sure the lime wedge that I jam into my Corona bottle probably takes care of it.

Establish regular water breaks, if possible. I loathe public water fountains because I've seen what some people touch before they touch the handle, and I've seen the booger-covered faces that come within an inch of the nozzle. I do try to always keep a bottle of water in the car for when thirst strikes, but inevitably thirst ends up striking Zoe after she's been chowing down on Cheez-Its and for some reason, after she's sucked on the bottle of water it doesn't seem that, um, clear and refreshing anymore.

Substitute sparkling water and low-sodium vegetable juice for soda and fruit juice. This one I can probably do, since both spicy V8 and sparkling water mix well with booze. And since I'm supposed to cut back on the Diet Coke and cranberry juice, then I guess I'll just have to start drinking the Captain Morgan and vodka straight.

Install water filters in your home and use a pitcher-type filter at the office. Let me just say that if I am outside on a 90-degree day and have just finished mowing and am about to collapse from heat and thirst, but I don't want to go in the house since I'm covered in grass clippings and dripping sweat, I have been known to suck quarts of water straight out of the garden hose. Has this practice killed me? No. Is there a water filter on my garden hose? No. And since my fridge at home is now full of salad, V8, sparkling water and lime wedges, there really isn't any space for a pitcher-type filter.

Cook with high-quality sea salt. I wouldn't even consider using anything else on the rims of my margarita glass.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father's Day to Mr. Mean Mom

I know that there are blogs and books out there that like to point out the fact that husbands are helpless morons, they never help out with anything that could be classified as "domestic," only like the kids when they're clean, healthy and fed (and football isn't on) and care more about when their cars need service than what day garbage day is.

This is not one of those blogs.

While Doug and I don't agree on everything and I occasionally need to raise my voice to prove that I'm right, I am also fortunate enough to be married to a nice person who doesn't make me want to find an attorney or jump off a bridge, and my kids are lucky enough to be able to call this guy "dad." And although I've mentioned some of his finer qualities before (like here and here), there are other reasons why I'm willing to do his laundry, micro-manage our family and can't ever imagine not having an anniversary to celebrate:
  1. When my irritation has hit a level that affects my ability to think rationally, no matter how long his day was or how much stress he is under, he is willing to step into the mayhem with patience.
  2. Likewise, when I don't feel like being the bad guy by yelling for the 73rd time that day, he is always willing to step in with angry eyes, and an angry voice.
  3. If he had to make a choice, he would sacrifice eating in order to get his kids new tennis racquets and shoes.
  4. He has never denied the fact that he didn't change poopy diapers.
  5. He sets a great example for the kids by reading a book everyday, even though they aren't allowed to read Cormac McCarthy quite yet.
  6. He doesn't like to travel, but tolerates the process because he knows that the rest of his family loves to go on vacation.
  7. He doesn't live vicariously through his kids.
  8. He talks to his kids like they're people, never using that I-don't-know-my-kids-so-I-don't-know-how-to-talk-to-them-voice. That "Hey dude! How's it going, dude? That is so awesome that you play soccer cuz soccer is so cool! Right on, man! So, how was school today, was it super cool?"
  9. He makes sure that the doors are locked at night.
  10. He researches video games so that the kids never waste time playing a crappy game. Plus, chances are that he's often playing the game with them.
Zoe had her own list of reasons why her dad is so great, and here are a few:
  1. He's awesome.
  2. He's respectful.
  3. He lets me play on his iPad and also plays Ms. Pac Man with me.
  4. He's smart and super, super funny.
  5. It's so super funny when he keeps tricking me and always says "Get OUT of here!" when I tell him something amazing.
  6. Really, he's so funny.
  7. He's super strong. But Josh at school is strong too. But I still pushed him over on the bus when he tried to sit with me after I said no, so he hit me in the face so I pushed him and he fell. Michael laughed.
  8. He's good at sports.
  9. He plays Star Wars on Xbox with me.
  10. He loves me.
Happy Father's Day, Mr. Mean Mom/Doug Adkins. We all love you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Odds and Ends

I was kind of wondering if my Type A/Anal Freak personality traits were genetic, and Zoe was kind enough to prove that they are.

And if you're wondering, this is her bookstore.

I Just bought Zach new shorts for the summer and had the hardest time finding a size that would stay o him, because this is the look that he is definitely NOT going for.

I'm still trying to decide what was funnier: A) Zoe laughing loudly at this guy while saying "I can see his butt! What the heck!?" of B) The look on the guy's face when he heard Zoe laughing at him.

I guess I should probably go to Target and buy Zoe her stupid inflatable pool sooner than I thought.

Although, according to her, this is not her pool: she is reading in her "hot tub."

The 80's called and they want their Zubaz back.

Just be glad I didn't take a picture of this guy while he was upright and walking around.

Apparently when a guy hits a certain age, someone just sends them a uniform to wear everyday.

P.S. Doug, I promise that if I ever see you wearing black socks with a pair of shorts, I will kill you.

This is straight from the department of W.T.F.

Kind of reminds me of the beef marrow bones.

Zoe learned how to put her own Band-Aids on. If you look closely enough, you can see Big Bird.

The Ends:

A couple days before Zach's high school tennis banquet, I told Charlie that he should go to the banquet with us because: A) he would be playing for the high school team next year and it would be good to start showing your support for the team now; B) It's nice to show support for family members, and C) I wouldn't have to make him dinner. For the next 48 hours, I ended up hearing the following phrases repeated to me from Charlie no fewer than 32 times:
  • "So they aren't playing tennis at the banquet?"
  • "What would I do there?"
  • "Why do I have to go again? I'm just wondering."
  • "Is Justin going to go? If Justin's not going, why do I have to go?"
  • "Is there food there?"
  • "Should I bring my racquets?"
  • "So what is this for exactly, and why aren't we playing tennis?"
  • "Seriously, I really have to go to this thing?"
  • "What kind of shirt would I have to wear? What? But that shirt has buttons."
  • "Are they eating before or after they play tennis?"
I tried to remain calm and controlled while replying to all of these questions and comments, but eventually my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I told him fine. Stay home because you obviously don't want to go. It's disappointing that you don't want to go. Oh my god I'm going crazy. Gee I'm so excited for when you have your own tennis banquets, I wonder if you'll even go to those. I'm mad. Yes, this is me being mad. Here's your stupid dinner. To which he replied, tearily:
  • "Why do I have to stay home? I don't get it! Why don't I get to go?"
At this point I somehow managed to not throw back a shot of vodka, left Charlie to dine on his delicious ham sandwich and bowl of soup, grabbed my keys and walked out the door with Zach and Zoe. I had developed a thin film of sweat on my forehead but was otherwise feeling pretty great because I was actually wearing impractical footwear and a dressy outfit that didn't scream "Look at ME! I'm a MOM!"

And then -- THEN -- as we're getting in the car, Zach says "Hey mom, those pants are kind of bizarre. But whatever."

Feeling the love, that's all I can say. Feeling. The. LOVE.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Mean Mom Goes to the Beach

Somehow, thanks to a few minor miracles and some quick thinking, we have managed to officially survive the last day of school, pack some luggage and get on a plane. After remembering to put the newspaper on hold, throwing away the bananas and arranging for a friend to watch the house and the smelly old dog, I am currently most likely either A) sleeping; B) sitting on the beach; C) sitting by the pool; D) trying to decide whether I'm going to go to the beach or the pool, or E) sitting on my balcony with a cocktail, staring at the Gulf of Mexico as it slowly fills up with oil.

Yes, Doug and I are on vacation with the kids and are determined to enjoy every possible minute. I booked this trip months ago and although everyone in the family has managed to stay healthy and injury free, the flight was on time and no hurricanes have been predicted, one thing I wasn't anticipating was an environmental catastrophe. Fortunately, we are staying at one of the few spots on the Gulf of Mexico that isn't experiencing mayhem, but honestly, if our trip ended up having to be rescheduled or altered, I would have just added it to the long list of our past vacation glitches, because no matter how well I plan, there's almost always a glitch.

San Diego. We took this trip in March, 2004 when Zach and Charlie were 7 and 5, and I was pregnant with Zoe. It was the first time the boys had flown, and we were all excited to head somewhere warm, swim and go to the zoo. Sure enough, though, Charlie (who rarely gets sick) developed a horrid chest cold a week before we were supposed to leave. I took him to the doctor the day before our vacation, and after a chest film it was determined that he had pneumonia. Fortunately, they didn't tell us to reschedule our trip and actually encouraged us to take him somewhere warm. So after shoving a nebulizer into Doug's carry-on bag and stocking up on antibiotics and prednisone, we boarded our plane, buckled our seat belts, and that's when the real coughing began. And let me tell you, people love to hear a coughing kid on an airplane. I tried to tell one particularly annoyed woman "Don't worry, it's not contagious, it's just pneumonia," but that just made the face she was making change from "Seriously, make your kid quit coughing" to "Holy shit you're the worst mother in the entire fucking world." Sorry lady, but no kid's faulty lungs are going to get between me and warm weather, so mind your own business and watch the movie.

Jamaica. We spent a week at a Beaches resort in Negril, Jamaica right before Zoe turned two. Our flight was at 6:00am, which meant that since it was an international flight, we were supposed to be at the airport at 4am, which meant that we had to get up around 2:30. Ay-Em. Needless to say, Zoe's day was thrown just a little bit off schedule and she ended up grazing on Goldfish and apple juice at 7:30 in the morning. We had quite a bit of turbulence during the last half of the flight, which made her stomach feel weird, which she registered as hunger, so she just kept chowing down on Goldfish. After we finally landed in the heat of Jamaica, dealt with the customs/immigration line and found baggage claim, Zoe's body realized that it wasn't hunger that it was feeling -- it was motion sickness, and Goldfish don't like to hang out in anybody that isn't feeling well. Apparently, the Goldfish prefer to make a projectile exodus from whoever is holding them captive, because no sooner had an airport employee walked by, pointed at Zoe and said "Your baby, mon" then she started barfing chunks of Goldfish all over herself, the floor, and me. The next two minutes is kind of a blur of fluids, chunks, the boys saying "Oh gross, Zoe! Ewwww!" and Doug and I alternately saying "Oh my god what the hell oh my god so gross oh my god." After she was done doing her best impression of Old Faithful, I picked her up and ran for the nearest bathroom. There, despite the fact that the hot water didn't work, the cold water only came out as a slow trickle and they were out of paper towels, I managed to clean her up using every wipe I had packed in my diaper bag, changed her clothes and she was good as new. As for myself, I was instantly grateful that I had dressed in light layers and wasn't emotionally attached to the top one.

Jamaica, Part 2. Everyone had been healthy all winter so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when Zach got strept throat (and, by the way, that is the only time any of these kids has ever had strept throat) a week before we left. I made the mistake of getting him diagnosed at one of those quick clinics in the grocery store, which resulted in him getting an incorrect dosage for his drugs. In other words, he was only taking half of what he should have been. I only know this because after he finished his prescription and seemed well, the strept came back -- while we were in Jamaica. I don't know if it was the fear that one of the other kids might get sick while we were in a third world country, but I had packed a full prescription of antibiotic, just in case. So, after a quick phone call to our pediatrician, two correct doses and one dinner in bed, he was back to normal the following day.

Phoenix, AZ. In March, 2007, after surviving a long winter, we were all excited to spend a hot, sunny week in Phoenix. I found a resort where we could play tennis, hike in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and have five different pools to pick from everyday. After a freakishly smooth day of travel, Doug and the boys grabbed their tennis racquets and headed to the courts while I unpacked (and drank a beer). Less than an hour later, though, they walked back in the door or, in Doug's case, he limped through the door. Somehow his shoe had come off, probably while trying to get to one of Zach's passing shots, and then not only did he miss the shot, but he also managed to step on the shoe and twist his ankle. When I looked at the thing, it was pretty swollen and he seemed to be in quite a bit of pain. So I did what any sympathetic, caring wife would do: I threw him an ice pack, put on my suit, grabbed the kids and went to the pool. Unfortunately for Doug, I kind of suck at the role of sympathetic wife.

Los Angeles: This wasn't really a vacation, but it does involve Charlie, Zoe and I flying to Los Angeles because Charlie was invited to a national tennis camp. I was kind of excited to travel with just two kids (shh...don't tell Doug and Zach) and spend a few November days in sunny California. Sure enough, though, a week and a half before we left, Zoe woke up in the middle of the night yelling "OWWWW! MY EAR IS ATTACKING ME! STOP IT EAR! STOP IT!" My supermom intuition kicked in and said hmmm, I'll bet she has her first ear infection, so the next day I hauled her into the doctor's office to get it checked out. The doctor said yes, it is pretty red but you know we're really trying to discourage parents from treating ear infections with antibiotics so if you don't mind I'd like to just suggest managing the pain for a few days with Motrin and then if it doesn't clear up you can come back for the antibiotic. I said um, yeah, well I do mind because she's four and this is her first ear infection and also her first antibiotic and we fly in exactly eleven days so write the goddamn prescription already. He said okay and then wrote the goddamn prescription, which she finished three hours before take-off.

We have managed to take other vacations that have been mostly drama-free, and even though I micromanage these trips right down to the smallest details, I always keep realistic expectations because no matter how many stars the resort has or what the weather forecast looks like, I've accepted the fact that there's always the chance that a toilet will run all night, rain will fall, and a kid will barf all over baggage claim. But no matter what happens, there has always been a solution (and depending on who you talk to, sometimes even a free meal) and it's amazing how quickly the problem is forgotten when that "Needs Service" flag goes up on the back of my pool chair.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Much Needed Break

Today is the last day of school and while I know there a lot of parents that dread the start of summer vacation, I happen to love being a stay-at-home-mom in the summer. Sure, I'll miss having a couple hours to myself everyday to be able to swear out loud and I won't have uninterrupted time to sit on my ass, eat chips, paint my nails and occasionally work out, but I will gladly trade these things in for the knowledge that, at least for a couple months, the main things I worry about are getting the kids to tennis lessons on time, whether or not it's okay to grill hot dogs three nights in a row, and if we should have happy hour on the deck or in the driveway.

As my kids get older, the school year has definitely become more time consuming. For example, Zoe's last few days of kindergarten revolved around eating cookies, hanging out on the playground, a party, an art project and singing songs. Charlie's a sixth grader and his second week of June included a phy-ed sports day, a full-day field trip, and an end-of-year party that lasted five hours (the other hour and-a-half was taken up with lunch and recess). On the other hand, Zach's last few days as an eighth grader consisted of finals, last-minute projects being handed in and several hours of homework. So while it seems that Zoe and Charlie's summer vacations started a week ago, I've been impatiently waiting for Zach's summer to start since the beginning of April because honestly, the kid needs a break. Oh, and I need one too, from:
  1. The weekly notes that come home advising me that a child in ____'s classroom has strept throat, influenza, pink eye, or my all-time favorite: ring worm.
  2. Wednesday Envelopes, the communication system that the elementary school uses to send home fundraiser notices, lunch menus, science camp opportunities, registration info for sports, PTO updates and the school newsletter. In other words, the majority of the Wednesday Envelope contents gets chucked directly into the recycling bin.
  3. The non-stop requests for money to cover the costs for art projects, field trips, class parties, school pictures, athletic fees, and t-shirts.
  4. Asking "Do you have your snack?" every morning and "How much homework do you have?" every afternoon.
  5. Getting the following emails: A) Kindergarten is looking for a couple mommies to volunteer; B) According to our records, ____ has a low lunch account balance, so please deposit money at your earliest convenience, like NOW; and C) Kindergarten REALLY needs a couple mommies with some free time that can volunteer.
  6. Finding out that a kid needs two styrofoam cubes, a bag of marbles, three pieces of brown felt and some maracas -- yesterday.
  7. Hearing the drama about "so and so said she won't be my friend if I'm friends with Suzie but I like Suzie so why can't I be friends with her that just seems weird and sorta mean," from a kindergartner.
  8. Huge science projects, group science projects, and the other 15 science projects.
  9. School drop-off and pick-up and dealing the fact that carpool is apparently defined as "Jody drives."
  10. Driving to after-school rehearsals for orchestra, before-school rehearsals for choir, and attending three evening concerts for each.
I know that occasionally there will be small reminders of the school year during the summer, like when I use a coupon out of the Happenings Book that I bought for a fundraiser in September or wrap a gift using the paper I bought for the fundraiser in October. And even though retailers are cruel enough to start back-to-school sales at the beginning of August, I love knowing that during the summer months, my kid-related responsibilities are pretty much defined by tennis lessons, swimming at the club, packing a cooler with sandwiches and when I should reapply sunscreen. Of course there will still be laundry to do, a house to clean, a lawn to mow and errands to run, but fortunately there are also popsicles to eat, a sprinkler to run through, burgers to grill and a park to be played on.

Oh, and there's also that fridge full of beer to drink.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eggstra Special Project

Three days left. Just three days of school left before we go on vacation and summer break begins.

I'd like to think that during the last couple weeks of the school year, the teachers would be done assigning crap loads of homework and science projects, but that would be wishful thinking. In fact, last week included Zach's presentation for his group project on the Abominable Snowman (and don't even get me started on the absurd grading procedure used for this project) and tomorrow marks the final official project turn-in day for what could very well be the stupidest HP science project of all. And that's saying a lot, since there's been about 20 of them.

The kids were required to mail the teacher a raw egg. Their grade is dependent on the mass, volume and density of the package, creativity and design, and whether or not the egg breaks during shipping. Kids are not allowed to use anything that would be considered conventional packing materials, cannot write "FRAGILE" anywhere on the package, and aren't allowed to use any weirdly shaped boxes or containers that would require hand cancellation at the post office. In other words, drop the thing in a shoe box and mail it.

I'm not exactly sure what the goal of this project was, other than to put one final cherry on the annoyance sundae that the teacher has been serving to the parents for the entire school year. The only things I can think of that my kid learned during the completion of this project are:
  1. Popcorn can be used as packing material, as long as your sister doesn't eat all of it first.
  2. White cheddar popcorn smells like vomit.
  3. Eggs break.
  4. Postage for something boxy is much more expensive than postage for an envelope, even a large envelope.
  5. To be exact, first class postage for a box is $4.90.
  6. A mom that is already annoyed with the grade their kid received on the science project prior to this piece of shit project does not enjoy wasting $5 to mail an egg and popcorn that will eventually be graded arbitrarily before being thrown into the garbage.
  7. That same mom will happily sit in a bar and spend an additional $5 (if not more) on a much needed beer after standing in line at the post office to mail an egg and popcorn.
  8. Being done with science projects, and knowing that the last day of school is hours away, is a great feeling.
So while Zach listens to his brother talk about fun field trips and school parties and watches Zoe go through the last days of kindergarten in an oblivious state of glee, he will be studying for finals and watching his teacher open one egg after another, hoping that someone was willing to sacrifice 50 points and had the balls to mail in a rotten one. That someone would have been me but unfortunately, after the Abominable Snowman grade, Zach doesn't want to risk losing 50 points. Besides, for a truly cathartic experience, I think we would need to deliver rotten eggs in an even more creative way that doesn't involve first class postage, but does include a car, a strong throwing arm and good aim.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I Need Therapy After the Retail

Since Zoe's birthday was on Wednesday and Father's Day is the day after we get back from vacation, I've had to endure more shopping than usual. As a result, this post is directed toward all facets of the retail industry that are bitching because consumers are preferring to shop online rather than wander into their stores. If you really want us, the consumer, to shop at your store and make impulse purchases from your strategically arranged end caps, here's a tip: STOP SUCKING!

Target: I understand that you aim to please in every aspect, you are obviously making a huge emphasis toward improving customer service, and you want all of your team members to appear educated and knowledgeable. In order to achieve this goal, though, you might want to teach some of your team members to use a little thing called common sense. For example, if a customer is walking quickly and doesn't make eye contact, that's usually a pretty good sign that she knows what she's looking for (birthday gift card, box of Nerds, toothpaste and sandwich bags), where to find it and is probably in a hurry, so requiring a team member to shout "Can I help you find something?" as she's sprinting by is less than pointless, because she obviously knows what aisle the sandwich bags are in. I have had the pleasure of having five, yes five different team members ask me this question within a two minute time frame. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I can occasionally look dazed and confused while standing in the home of the bullseye, but FIVE? That meant that I had to say "No, thank you" five different times, each time with a little more annoyance than the time before. I'm sure the last guy thought I was PMSing or something because the no thank you sounded a lot like "What the fuck, NO! Get off my case!" but honestly, FIVE TIMES? And even if you do say why yes, yes I do need help, I'm looking for crew socks and a new garden hose, Joe Team Member usually just jumps on his walkie talkie and ends up having to ask someone else which, in my opinion, doesn't exactly scream "knowledgeable team member."

Grocery Stores: It's 4:00, so you might want to open up a few more lanes, create self-check out lanes that actually work, quit rearranging the aisles every three months and stop cluttering up the aisles with patio furniture. Also, if you can sell fresh bananas in the cereal aisle you should certainly be able to put a basket of fresh lemons and limes in the aisle next to the tonic. And after the chaos that I witnessed during one recent trip, it might be best to schedule pre-school field trips on the days that don't coincide with free donuts and coffee for the senior citizens. Those two events are bad enough on their own without having to be intertwined into a perfect storm.

Best Buy: Holy crap do I hate this store right now. There is nothing in there that I can't find on, so I rarely even subject myself to the insanity. But occasionally I need something sooner than now and don't have time to wait for even two-day shipping so I head to what I envision hell would be like if the devil wore a blue shirt and sat around in air conditioning. It used to be that trying to find something on the always-changing shelves was the biggest pain in the ass, but I've recently discovered that now the worst part of the Best Buy experience is paying for your crap. During one recent trip (when, shockingly enough, I was in a hurry) I was asked the following questions, and I mostly answered them by just moving my head around since answering with actual words would have resulted in not-very-friendly responses:
  1. Are you ready to check-out? (No, I've been standing here next to the "Please wait here for the next available cashier" sign holding these items because I like to waste my time.)
  2. Are you paying with cash? (This is a weird question. Does anyone use cash anymore? No one pays for even a cookie with cash.)
  3. Do you want to purchase the replacement plan for this video game? (That's the dumbest question ever, and no.)
  4. Do you want to purchase the replacement plan for this DVD? (Okay, I stand corrected. This is the dumbest question ever, and still no.)
  5. Is this a good show? (Yes, since I typically don't pay money to own full seasons of shitty shows.)
  6. Oh, an iPad case. Do you have an iPad? (Oh, that case is for an iPad? I thought it was just for a really big iPod!)
  7. Oh, that's kind of odd. I don't think they make an iPod that big. (Moron, yes, I have an iPad.)
  8. Oooooh, iPad's are neat. (Yes, they are.)
  9. Do you want to have your receipts emailed to you? (No)
  10. You have been selected to receive a discount magazine subscription if you choose to do so. Are you interested? (You have been selected to get smacked in the head if you don't quit asking me all of these questions. And no.)
  11. Are you a Reward Zone member? (Yes, I already gave you my card.)
  12. Oh, yes you did. I'm not usually up here working as a cashier. I'm more of a department manager. (Wow, so I guess they'll give that job to just about anyone then?)
  13. Okay, so please scan your card. Oh wait, did I offer you the replacement plan on the video game? (Yes, you did. And the answer is still no.)
  14. Do you want the receipt with you or in the bag, or would you prefer to have it emailed to you? (Just. Give. Me. The. Receipt. I'm. In. A. Hurry.)
  15. Is there anything else you need? (Yes, but they don't sell beer at Best Buy.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Zoe is Six!

Dear Zoe,

Having you as a member of our family for the last six years has been a wonderful experience. No two days have ever been the same and just when things seem too predictable, your imagination and energy kick into overdrive and you force us to look at things in a new light. Even though we have had our battles and there are times when I wonder how I will ever make it through the next five minutes let alone all the way to happy hour, every day with you manages to reveal yet another reason why I love you so much.
  1. When you hear a song that you like, no matter where we are, there is nothing that stops you from breaking out the dance moves.
  2. You will practice a joke 43 times on one person until you feel that the comedic timing is just right.
  3. You hate to lose. Not dislike or prefer not to -- HATE.
  4. We have yet to find a sport that you aren't good at.
  5. You make me realize how crazy I sound sometimes when you repeat what I've said in the exact same tone.
  6. You love all animals, and will go out of your way to pick up a worm that's struggling on a hot sidewalk and move him into a shady spot on the grass.
  7. You understand how effective a fart can be as a weapon.
  8. You have patiently sat through your brothers' tennis tournaments, piano recitals, orchestra concerts, choir concerts, school programs and baseball games. They can't wait to do the same for you.
  9. You can sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" perfectly, and will sing it at the top of your lungs anywhere - like at the grocery store.
  10. You're polite to strangers and are always eager to tell them how old your mom is.
  11. You have no desire to go to Disney World, but will never turn down a trip to the beach.
  12. You sleep at least 11 hours.
  13. You are genuinely distraught when your brothers are sad, hurt or disappointed.
  14. You have taught me that sometimes you just need to buy the bag of gummy bears, especially when they're Black Forest gummy bears.
  15. You like Metallica.
  16. You have the ability to play by yourself.
  17. You know how to get through airport security faster than most adults.
  18. You dislike Barbie, never dress up as a princess, prefer shorts to skirts, aren't obsessed with lip gloss and wear scabs on your knees with pride.
  19. You have no hesitation to approach a group of kids at the park and ask "So, who's going to be my friend?"
  20. You are, in general, completely kick ass.
Happy sixth birthday Zoe! I'm sorry you've had to spend past birthdays sitting at baseball practices, baseball games, piano concerts, and tonight you'll celebrate your sixth birthday at your brother's tennis banquet. But look on the bright side: at least there'll be cake.