Friday, July 30, 2010

A Couple Simple Requests

Tomorrow is the last day of July. I know this sounds cliche and very creatively challenged, but holy shit! Where did the summer go? How is it that I only have one month left to enjoy not having to deal with school drop off, homework-free evenings and elementary school drama? I guess this means that I'm going to have to really crack down and focus on making the most out of the next few weeks, and also be extra appreciative of the fact that our school district doesn't start until the Tuesday after Labor Day.

At least the summer hasn't been a complete waste. Over the last couple of months, I've spent a lot of quality time with my kids and in the process, have discovered a few things that certain businesses could do to make my life, and the lives of other moms, much easier and more enjoyable. So if these changes could be made by Monday morning, I'd really appreciate it because it would make the rest of my summer much better and result in me being even happier than I already am. And everyone knows: If mom is happy, then everyone is happy.
  • Time is tight and we're all trying to squeeze as much enjoyment as we can out of each hour. So, I'd appreciate it if either bars started offering pedicures and neck massages on their happy hour menus, or spas provided complimentary vodka-tonics and/or cold beer with their pedicures. I'm not being greedy and asking for both, but will happily accept one or the other.
  • And whichever establishment decides to put this business plan into action, I'd appreciate it if you would offer diet tonic.
  • At the end of the school year, I received an envelope so that I could clip and collect Box Tops for Education over the course of the summer. This envelope would be much plumper right now if Box Tops were found on cases of beer or bottles of booze, not just cereal, granola bars, toilet paper and tampons. Yes, that's right. There is a Box Top for Education on Kotex Tampons.
  • In addition to my ongoing request for a lotion bottle pump that reaches all the way to the bottom of the bottle, thereby allowing me to use the last 1/3 of the product, I'd also like a bottle that lets me squeeze out the last bit of sunscreen without getting carpal tunnel syndrome. If not that, then an aerosol can of sunscreen that actually puts the product on my child, not just in the air.
  • If everyone wants my kid to wash her hands, please place the soap dispensers in public bathrooms at a height where a child that's not the offspring of the Jolly Green Giant can actually reach it without having to be hoisted up by a parent. Inevitably, there is a giant puddle of water on the edge of the counter, which ends up being sucked up by a kid's shirt after the kid has tried in vain to stand on their tip-toes, stretch as far as they can, and still not reach the damn soap.
  • If you're not going to move the soap dispensers, then would it really be that much of a cost burden to toss a few plastic step stools in front of the sinks? Do you really think that anyone is going to be so desperate as to steal a plastic step stool that dozens of grimy feet have stood on? If yes, then chain the damn stool to the sink.
  • Okay, I'm going to sound a little obsessed about this public bathroom thing, but I have to say something about the toilet paper dispenser. First off, when the roll that's the size of a semi-truck tire is full, it never actually spins, releasing a long strip of paper. It dispenses the paper in 1/2" long segments. Second, if you tear at the wrong angle, you risk lacerating your knuckle. Third, they're usually located in a spot that is unreachable by a child unless the kid yells "Go go gadget arm."
  • Yes, yes I know. You're sick of the bathroom theme, but just one more. I'd really like to have stall doors that automatically lock when the person that just used up the last of the toilet paper leaves the stall. That way, I won't end up being the one sitting there later, only to find an empty roll. Because then I can't help but visualize all of the strangers' asses that must have been in that stall throughout the day in order to use up such a humungous roll of toilet paper, which makes me a little nauseous. Also, I'm sick of drip drying.
  • Why can't Costco have an express lane? Or better yet, accept normal debit cards? And what is with their moronically designed milk jugs? And I wouldn't have to annoy you by climbing the salad display to pull a fresh one from the back if you would stop leaving the about-to-expire crap on the shelf. In the front. In my way.
  • Gas stations should start placing complimentary vacuums next to the pumps. That way, when I'm waiting for my tank to fill, I can use the time to suck up Goldfish and granola bar shrapnel.
  • It's really nice of McD's to offer the huge Diet Coke for $.99, but what I really want is for them to offer the huge Diet Coke with a couple ounces of Captain. I'd even be willing to pay more, like $1.99.
If one, two, or all of these requests are met, then I can safely say that August will be spectacular. If not, well, then I'll just have to pick up my Box Top for Education-free case of beer, put my unpainted toes up on my deck railing, attempt to squeeze the last bit of sunscreen from the tube without hurting myself and enjoy the month at home. At least then I know I won't have to deal with drip drying. Unless, of course, someone in my family forgets to replace the roll.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Establishing My Identity

One of the most common complaints about becoming a mom is that it's easy to lose your identity. Suddenly everyone knows you only as Julie's Mom or Kyle's Mom, and every question and conversation that used to involve nothing more than you, you and a little more about you is all about them. For example:

How are you? --> How are the kids?
You look great! --> You look great, for someone that's had 3 kids.
Nice to see you! --> Nice to see the kids.
Let's go to happy hour! --> Let's meet at the park.
Do you have a Red Bull? --> Do you have a juice box?
I just bought a BMW M5. --> I just bought a minivan.
Do you have a mint? --> Do you a couple rolls of Smarties?
Dammit! It's last call! --> I only have the sitter until 10:00.
I love your shoes! --> I love your daughter's shoes.

Even my own kids find it hard to believe that I had a life before them and that at one point, I was a much thinner/occasionally fun person and found pleasure in more than just stain removal, driving a minivan to piano lessons and cooking semi-edible food. It's surprising to them that I had conversations in my own home that involved using obscenities without muttering, complained about my size 4's being too roomy and could go an entire month without ever having to say "don't squeeze the juice box."

But since I'm not one to dwell on the past (besides, I've tried and it's not as much fun as it sounds), I've decided to focus more on my current mom-self and make sure that they start noticing my finer qualities, not the side of me that is best described as "ape shit insane control freak perfectionist sarcasm queen." So, throughout the last weekend (which by the way, involved spending another bazillion hours at two different tennis tournaments with a couple dozen tennis players/ friends from our club), I tried really hard to always be prepared, patient, encouraging, anti-embarrassing and supportive, and hoped that the short people that share my last name learned something about me.

Crisis #1: One of the coaches was really hungry, but didn't have time to go buy something to eat.
Solution: I had an extra sandwich in my cooler, which I gladly handed over.
Lesson Learned: Mom is generous and always happy to feed others.

Crisis #2: Another player's mom asked if I could give her daughter a ride to the 8am matches on Monday morning. I, of course, said sure. After arriving in their driveway, on time, and seeing that no one was coming out of the house, doorbells were rang and phone calls were placed, resulting in player and player's mom being woken up and slightly embarrassed.
Solution: They were going to have to drive themselves, and my focus instantly switched to getting my own kids to the match on time as I pictured the chaos taking place in the house that I just left.
Lesson Learned: Mom never lets people oversleep and is a great, if sometimes irritated, back-up alarm clock.

Crisis #3: Over the course of the weekend, various players had: skinned knees, a headache, an unexpected period, too much sun exposure, a dying iPhone, a worn grip, and a parking meter that was about to expire.
Solution: I had band-aids, Advil, a tampon, sunscreen, a phone charger, an extra grip and spare quarters.
Lesson Learned: Mom is always hyper-prepared, embarrassingly organized and is always willing to share.

Crisis #4: During one of Charlie's doubles matches, another mom insisted on sitting right next to me. This normally wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that she had the world's worst case of B.O. and I was sitting downwind from her. I couldn't think straight, I seriously almost gagged and my vision was temporarily blurred.
Solution: I made up some lame excuse like "I should go check and see what Zoe is up to" and left the bleachers. Charlie asked me later why I left the match and when I told him the reason he couldn't stop laughing.
Lesson Learned: Mom will lie in order to avoid disgusting situations, oxygen deprivation, or death.

Crisis #5: After arriving home on Saturday night, my kid was bummed because he had worn his favorite tennis shirt all day and needed to be back at the courts at 8:00 Sunday morning. There would be no time for laundry to be done, so he wouldn't have his favorite tennis shirt.
Solution: When kid woke up on Sunday morning, he discovered that not only had I already worked out and showered, but his clean tennis shirt had magically appeared outside his bedroom door.
Lesson Learned: Mom doesn't sleep.

Crisis #6: After a couple months of saying "don't forget your water bottle," sure enough, one of my kid's forgot his water bottle at home.
Solution: I calmly said "That's okay, we'll figure something out" and I asked another mom if she had an extra water.
Lesson Learned: Mom doesn't always spaz out over minor things after all and will, in fact, ask other people for something once in a while.

Crisis #7: After a great weekend of tennis that included A) Charlie winning a Level 5 (aka really hard tournament) consolation singles championship, B) Zach's USTA 14U team winning the sectional championship and earning a trip to the Team Tennis Nationals in Arizona, and C) Our club's 18U team also earning a trip to Nationals, a bunch of the players wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate. I was covered in sweat residue and dirt and had kind of forgotten what my house looked like, and I wanted to go home. But the boys really wanted to go out with their friends.
Solution: The place they wanted to go had beer and onion rings, so I said 'kay.
Lesson Learned: Mom is willing to make sacrifices for her kids' enjoyment, especially if there is beer involved.

Crisis #8: It was a long weekend that involved getting up early, sitting on hot courts, eating out of a cooler and getting to bed late. And even though she wasn't playing tennis, Zoe attended all of it and managed to stay pleasant -- until Tuesday morning. And Charlie loved spending time with his friends and was in a great mood -- until Tuesday morning. And Zach is, well, a teenager. So when Zoe snapped at Zach, he snapped back, forcing her into tears and sending Charlie stomping off in a "what did I do?" rant.
Solution: I said "Everyone stop talking and take a ten-minute break from each other, because you're all crabby." Zach said no, I don't think that's it. I think the only one that's crabby is you.
Lesson Learned: Zach now knows that he should never, ever, under any circumstances, accuse me of being crabby. And I'm pretty sure that from now on, he won't be forgetting his water bottle, since it's now firmly implanted in his left nostril.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Friday Night Fail

This may come as quite a surprise to some people, but believe it or not, there are times when I screw up. Sometimes it's a minor thing like forgetting to start the dishwasher, going an extra day without watering the flowers or allowing the bananas to get a little too brown. But sometimes, it's pretty significant. Kind of like Friday night.

1. I'm Going Blind: Charlie had a tennis tournament this past weekend and, as usual, I checked the draws after they were posted on Wednesday to find out the times for his first matches. After seeing that his first round singles match was at 8:00 on Friday night and doubles was at noon on Saturday, I started planning out my weekend. I checked the draws again on Thursday, just to make sure that nothing had been changed and saw that it was still scheduled for 8:00.

Friday evening rolls around and just as I am about to start making some pasta (water just coming to a boil, veggies chopped, but nothing actually touching a hot pan yet) the phone rings. It was Charlie's buddy, who was playing at 6:00. "Um, hi Mrs. Adkins. I'm at the tournament and looking at the draws that are hanging on the wall and it says that Charlie plays at 6:00, not 8:00." Since I try to refrain from shouting obscenities at 12-year-olds that are only trying to help, I simply said "Oh, thank you for calling Sam. We'll be there as soon as possible."

Maybe now is when I should tell you that when the phone rang, it was 5:26. And we live a half hour away from the location of the tournament when there is no traffic and it isn't rush hour on a Friday evening.

Dammit all to hell shit balls anyway.

Fortunately, Charlie was already dressed in tennis stuff since he had already been playing at the club earlier in the day, and his bag was ready to go. I pushed the pot of boiling water to the back of the stove, switched off the burner, told Zach to keep an eye on his sister, and Doug, Charlie and I jumped in the car. Because I do not enjoy experiencing the repercussions of my idiocy, I was NOT going to let my kid be late or even have to deal with a two game penalty. I was going to make it! Sure enough, we hit mostly green lights, weaved our way through some construction traffic, tried to remain calm, swore at a few drivers, told Charlie to take a lot of deep breaths, and pulled up to the gates. At 5:59:52.

I knew there was no reason to panic. I knew all along that we would make it.

2. Burning Down The House: After we parked the car and Charlie was on the court warming up for his match, I sat down and called Zach to see if, since I ran out of the house without making anything besides a pot of hot water for dinner, he wanted me to order a pizza. He asked me what happened, why was the match time listed wrong? I said oops my bad, I made a mistake and must have read the draws wrong and it was scheduled for 6:00 all along. He said hmmm, isn't that interesting. I wonder how that could have happened. Man, Charlie almost had to default because of you. You really read it wrong? I said hey little turd, I called to see if you wanted a pizza, not to listen to you criticize me. I WAS WRONG, OKAY!? He said oh sorry, yes pepperoni would be great.

I ended the phone call by giving an angry finger poke to "end conversation" and told Doug that I can't believe I was about to order a pizza for a kid that just ripped on me and tried to make me feel bad! He said "Are you kidding? He's been waiting forever for an opportunity like this!" And I thought, no not really, because I screwed up an early morning match time back in February, too. Maybe that was different, though, because that day happened to coincide with my birthday.

Anyway, two minutes later, Zach sent me a text and instead of it saying "Sorry mom, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, ur the best mom in the whole world," it said "The burner is still on. Should I turn it off?" I said well, yeah. He sent another message that said "The house is kind of smoky 2." I was about to reply with a "Why would the house b smoky, what did u put on the burner?" when I remembered...I had just put olive oil in a saute pan to cook the chopped vegetables when the phone rang, and must have turned the burner on too! Oh my god! I left a pan of olive oil, and nothing else, on a hot burner and bolted out of my house! Someone is going to jump out of the bushes and strap a sash on me that says "Worst Mom of the Year"!

Fortunately, the burner was only set to medium heat and we had only been gone a half-hour (thanks to my Andretti-like driving skills) so no smoke detectors had went off, which would have sent Zach and Zoe into a complete panic and would have triggered an entirely different set of text messages. So instead of my original message of "why would the house be smoky" I simply told him to carefully slide the fire hazard to another burner, crack a door open, please don't call child protective services, and Mom = Fail.

Oh, and Charlie won his match in straight sets.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Facebook v. Reality

As some of you know, in addition to bitching about people and/or my kids in this blog, I try to find time each day to update The Mean Mom Facebook page. While I could be using these updates as a way to keep readers informed as to exactly what it is that I'm doing, I really don't think anyone is interested in hearing about how many toilets I've cleaned, how many miles I've driven, what I'm burning for dinner or how much my kids' braces are going to cost (which, if you really want to know, is $a,lot.) Instead, I usually try to find humor in mundane situations, maybe make fun of people and, on occasion, have even been known to mention something that we all are fond of, wish we could hang out with daily and can't imagine life without, and that magical thing is booze.

I guess I was a little quick to assume that everyone who is a fan of The Mean Mom would be able to figure out that despite what I write, I really don't start drinking at eight in the morning (even though there are times when I'd like to), I rarely drink in the middle of the day (unless it's a weekend or holiday), and I definitely don't get hammered every night (only every other). Have I thought about throwing a shot of Baileys in my morning coffee or sneaking some Malibu into my midday Diet Coke? Um, yes. Definitely yes. But I also need to function, be a mom, not get my ass thrown in jail, and get shit done. So, duh, just because I say that I could use a drink doesn't mean that I'm going to drop everything, leave my kids in the car and find the nearest happy hour.

Recently, one Facebook "fan" went so far as to say: "Some of your posts r funny but most of them r all about getting drunk don't get me wrong I like to have a drink every so often too but not all the time maybe u should get some therapy." She continued by saying that "This isn't meant to piss u off but all your posts sound the same."

While I managed to refrain from pointing out to this fan that she should maybe work on forming a proper sentence instead of the run-on version, and that typing "are" and "you" really isn't a huge challenge and she should try it some time, I also thought well, gee, several of my posts do mention alcohol, so maybe she had a point. Maybe instead of always giving the impression that I'd rather be drinking than dealing with reality, people would rather hear about what my day is really like. Maybe my life isn't so boring after all! So to test this theory, I'm going to translate a few of my past posts into something more "realistic" instead of just stuff like "Me angry need to get drunk now, go away people, except you bartender person, you can stay." Please feel free to let me know which version you prefer.

A) I could say that my favorite part of yard work isn't the post-mow beer, but I was told that it's not nice to lie.
B) I weeded the garden and mowed the lawn, it was hot, I got sweaty, and since it was a Sunday afternoon and even though I didn't need one, I had a beer. A beer. Not two or even five. A beer.

A) Oh, I'm sorry. Did I just snap at you? Well then maybe you shouldn't ask me the same question 3400 times! Beer, please!
B) Kid #1 asked "When are we leaving," I said 8:45. Kid #2 asked "Hey mom, when are we leaving," I said 8:45. Kid #3 asked "When do we need to leave," I said 8:45. Kid #1 asked, again, "When are we leaving," I said 8:45. Kid #2 was reading the sports section so I said hurry up and get ready we need to leave, to which he responded "I thought we weren't leaving until 9:45." Then Kid #2 wondered if he had enough time to practice piano because he forgot what time we're leaving, so I said no you don't have time, because we're leaving in ten minutes, at 8:45. At 8:43, I said go get your shoes on, so of course Kid #3 started hauling out two dozen stuffed animals to play with and I said holy crap this is why mommy thinks about drinking beer for breakfast because we're supposed to be leaving! So Kid #3 asked oh, well, what time are we leaving?

A) This morning's extreme productivity is being accomplished with one very important goal in mind: happy hour can come sooner rather than later.
B) It is noon, and so far I have washed, folded and put away two loads of laundry, cleaned four bathrooms, ran three miles, played an hour of tennis, grocery shopped, scheduled five orthodontist appointments and packed a cooler for lunch. While a happy hour sounds lovely right now, I have to continue dreaming about it because I still need to drive my kids around. So even though it may come later rather than sooner, I may eventually indulge in one or two cocktails on my deck.

A) Morning kid barf on bedroom carpet + evening dog crap on great room carpet = Captain Morgan in my Diet Coke IMMEDIATELY!
B) Right after eating banana bread, strawberries and drinking a glass of oj for breakfast, my oldest kid hurled on his cream colored bedroom carpet. He felt fine, but just had an upset stomach because he ate too much fruit for breakfast. While I'm glad he isn't sick, this doesn't change the fact that I started my day by cleaning up a chunky brown barf stain. Later that day, the smelly old dog decided that it was too much work to crap outside so he decided to just take a dump on the floor. Again, cream colored carpet. This was a gross day, but it's okay because I'm supposed to love my job 24/7/365, I've been told that being a mom is a privilege and only losers would actually self-medicate with booze.

A) I had a half-hour to kill during piano lessons this morning, so I did what any intelligent, responsible mom would do: I went to the liquor store.
B) While my boys were at piano lessons, I used the time to run a couple errands and since I was low on beer, one of those stops happened to be the liquor store. Because you know what? To hell with people that are quick to judge because I am a responsible, intelligent adult who happens to have kids. And I like to drink. And if someone thinks that deriving joy from having a cocktail or two automatically labels me as a bad parent or someone that needs therapy, then I'm pretty sure that person (a) doesn't have kids, (b) doesn't have a sense of humor, and (c) is incapable of typing the word "are."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Snowman

If I have given the impression in the past that I like to laugh at people when they either: (a) fall down, (b) are dressed funny, or (c) are dressed funny and then fall down, all I can say is yes. Yes, I do laugh at those people. And occasionally my kids also laugh at those people. I do not, however, ever allow them to laugh out loud within earshot of the man wearing Zubaz or point and laugh at the person that just wiped out on the sidewalk (unless that person happens to be me). And I absolutely never allow them to verbally acknowledge anyone with a physical or mental disability except, of course, to treat them like they would anyone else, be polite and say "hi." But as Zoe has demonstrated in the past, even allowing this one-word conversation has proven dangerous.

Walk the Plank! Not long ago, Zoe went through an "I love pirates" phase. She read pirate books (thank you, David Shannon and Tom Lichtenheld), ran around the house wearing an eyepatch, coveted the idea of having a hook for a hand and was rarely seen without a plastic sword. She knew that pirates were vicious, had pet birds and coolest of all -- they had a stick for a leg.

It was during this pirate phase that, shortly after arriving at the club for tennis one evening, I saw a very fit 20ish-year-old man that also happened to have a prosthetic leg. I hardly noticed this guy as he walked toward us but Zoe, upon seeing the artificial leg, must have assumed he was a pirate with an upgrade to the standard issue wooden leg, because as she walked past him she looked him in the eye, wrinkled her nose and let out an "AAARGH," which I assume is "Hi" in pirate speak. This man didn't immediately notice her because, I assume, he wasn't accustomed to hearing people talk to him as if he should be wearing an eyepatch, so she said it again, even louder: "AAAARGH! AAAAAAARGGGH!" As soon as I realized what was happening, I desperately looked for the "holy shit I need to disappear right now" button, but this guy crouched down, looked right at my daughter, let out an "AAARGH!" of his own and then kept on walking. Her eyes got big as she watched with amazement as he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Whether he associated her pirate dialect with his prosthetic leg I'll never know, but I do know that Zoe is 100% sure that she saw, and said hi to, a real live pirate who happens to work out at Lifetime Fitness.

He's going to melt! A couple of winters ago, Zoe built her first snowman. It wasn't the most attractive snowman on the block, but it was about four feet tall, had a giant bald head and was lucky enough to be wearing a scarf. A red scarf, actually.

One evening while she and I were sitting at the club waiting for the boys to finish their tennis lesson (Holy shit does the club provide a lot of material for this blog!), I was talking with another parent while Zoe was perfecting her hopscotch technique on the square floor tiles. No sooner had she hopped her way to the end of the room when she started yelling "Oh my gosh. A snowman! Hi Mr. Snowman! Hi snowman! Mom! Mom, look! It's a snowman!" Thinking that my daughter was obviously hallucinating again and making a mental note to cut back on the number of drugs I was giving her, I said yes, wow a snowman, that's really neat, and continued having my Very Important Conversation, which I'm pretty sure was about happy hours. Not eight seconds went by before she continued yelling "HI SNOWMAN!" in an even louder and more high pitched voice than before and that's when I finally looked over and saw that she was now enthusiastically pointing and waving at...a human man. With a bald head. Wearing a big puffy coat and a red scarf. And this human man was about four feet tall.

Yes, yes your thoughts are going in the right direction.

My daughter was pointing and waving at a dwarf standing less than 20 feet away, and calling him a snowman. This guy continued talking with another normal sized human standing next to him and, judging by his unresponsive behavior, I'd like to believe that he never noticed that the chant of "Hi snowman" was being directed toward him. Who knows, maybe in addition to being a dwarf, he was also deaf. And didn't have any peripheral vision.

I finally managed to get Zoe to stop yelling at this guy and out of desperation I maybe even said something like "He didn't reply the first ten times you said 'hi' so please leave him alone. I don't think he can hear you." She eventually just shrugged her shoulders, accepted this explanation and resorted to waving goodbye to the man because after all, she couldn't remember ever seeing a snowman with ears.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm Not Laughing With You, I'm Laughing At You

When I'm getting ready to spend entire weekends at a tennis tournament with my kids, there are several things that go through my mind:
  1. What should I pack in the cooler?
  2. How much Gatorade will my boys suck down?
  3. What are the match times?
  4. What parents will I need to avoid?
  5. What's the weather going to be like?
  6. Who is their first opponent? Is he a cheater?
  7. When will I be able to get to happy hour?
  8. What should I wear?
While the answers to the first questions are usually pretty straight forward, deciding what to wear can be a complete pain in the ass, especially in the summer. After all, some of the tournaments are held indoors where the air conditioning is set to "Arctic," some of the tournaments are strictly outdoors in the sunshine and humidity, and some of them are a combination of indoors and outdoors. As a result, trying to pick an outfit that won't make me sweat profusely outside but will keep me warm during an indoor match, while also not making me look like a clueless moron, is a battle that I have yet to always win.

From last Thursday morning until Saturday night, I spent a total of 36 hours between two different tournaments and two tennis lessons. (If you think this sounds insane and now you think I'm a loser, congratulations, you are correct.) To make the weekend of sacrifice even more enjoyable, it was one of those situations where I didn't know where my kid was going to be playing until his match was called. Some were inside where it was freezing, some were outside in the sun, a couple were outside in the shade, and one was supposed to be outside but then moved inside at the last minute when a little thing like a tornado warning interfered with the tournament.

Unbelievably, I think I managed to pull off the wardrobe conundrum pretty well. I was only cold once, and I was never too hot, uncomfortable, or revealing too much skin. I also don't feel like I looked excessively idiotic, but please don't ask anyone else what they thought because it's very likely that their opinion will vary from mine.

There was another woman at the second tournament, though, that was obviously not very concerned about staying warm, being conservative or not looking idiotic. I'm not saying that her outfit was completely wrong, because after all, it would have been appropriate at:
  • A monster truck rally
  • A pole barn strip club
  • A profitable corner in Amsterdam
  • Any Forest Lake bar
  • The Minnesota State Fair
  • A trip to a northern Minnesota casino
I regret to say that I never had an opportunity to take a picture of her fine ensemble, but basically it consisted of a burn-out, see through tank top that made me wonder why she didn't just wear her wrong-sized push-up bra on the outside of her shirt, a way-too-short ill fitting denim miniskirt complete with muffin top, cork wedge sandals, a banana clip in her hair, and to top it all off -- a bright yellow cardboard pack of Natural American Spirit cigarettes tucked into the front pocket of her skirt.

Like I said before, I'm sure there are occasions where this outfit would be completely appropriate, but come on lady! You're at a highly competitive tennis tournament for 14 and 18-year-old boys, taking place on the courts of a Division I school, and when you weren't sitting directly across from the courts with your knees not together you were standing right outside the front doors sucking down heaters! The only thing I could think of was ICK!

Every time I saw this woman walk by I wanted to point at her and laugh, but the well mannered, I-don't-want-to-cause-a-scene side of me always prevailed and I would manage to simply walk right by her without so much as a sideways glance. But then...

I was telling a story to one of my friends about last week when I saw something really, really funny and I was pointing at the funny thing and laughing so hard, so of course I demonstrated to her how I pointed and laughed like "oh look at that ha ha can you believe it ha ha hoo ha ha" and of course right when I pointed to my right and was laughing like a lunatic Miss Natural American Spirit herself came sauntering by and I ended up pointing right at her, and laughing. Loud.

Did I feel bad? No. Was I shocked at the coincidence of it all? Yes. And after seeing the look on her face when she saw me pointing and laughing, did I then start laughing even harder? Absolutely.

I have to go to another tennis tournament at the same location this weekend. If she's there again, I'll try to get a picture.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Quality Control

For those of you that have been reading this blog for longer than 13 days, you know that I have admitted to being:
  • borderline OCD/ADHD
  • just-shy-of-a-control freak
  • excessively anal
  • Type A to a fault
  • not quite a perfectionist
  • slightly demanding
  • fashionably challenged
  • occasionally passive/aggressive (Wait a second, maybe I haven't admitted this one yet. But if you have a problem with that, then I just won't talk to you for awhile.)
  • a tad judgmental and sometimes even critical
One thing that I'm not, though, is picky -- I just want things the way I want them, and that is for things to not suck. And when I mean things, I mean tangible items that I've went out of my way to purchase with money that could have been used to purchase other items that didn't suck. And normally I'm pretty good about avoiding the bruised apples and the white t-shirt with the lipstick stain still hanging on the rack, but over the last few days, my luck with certain products has not been so good.

Yummy, furry strawberries! I know that there are some people that do the majority of their grocery shopping at Costco, but I try to limit my warehouse purchases to carbs, chips, soap, potstickers, bacon, salami, salad, canned tuna, Craisins, Wheat Thins, frozen ravioli, granola bars, towels, popsicles, Vitamin Water, tilapia, and the entire produce section, especially berries.

The upside of buying berries at Costco is that you get a shit load of berries for not that much money. The downside of buying berries, especially strawberries, in a container that could double as checkable luggage is that you can only really see the berries that are on the surface, unable to see the ticking time bomb lurking in the middle.

Last week, I brought home what I thought was a perfect container of red, shiny, juicy, fragrant strawberries. I looked forward to berries in my yogurt, strawberry shortcake and maybe even strawberry daiquiris. So when I opened the lid the day after purchase to find what looked like seven generations of gray hamsters living in the middle of the container, my hopes of shortcake disappeared and the sight of moldy berries caused twinges of nausea that felt a lot like a daiquiri-induced hangover, without ever actually getting to consume the drink.

Pissed off and still craving strawberries, I dropped the hunk of mold into the garbage, went to a grocery store that sold food in quantities suitable for a normal-sized human and noticed that quarts of strawberries were on sale for $1.99! Score! I'll take two! Two quarts of strawberries for under $4! Well, technically if you counted the massive amount of red-tinted mold that was now in my garbage, these berries ended up costing $9, so score! Two quarts of berries for $9!

And I thought I was flat! Since I end up spending several hours at some form of tennis activity each day and don't want to be either A) poor, or; B) on a first-name basis with the employees at Subway, I always pack a cooler with sandwiches, fruit and something to drink (that may or may not resemble a flask). And to save even more money, I always bring my own 24-oz. Diet Coke (that may or may not end up having some Captain added to it at some point). Now I don't know about you, but for me the sound, that pffftthhhsssshhhthht that I hear when I initially twist off the cap, is like auditory crack, especially if I've just ran a few miles, taken a shower, am kid-free for a few precious minutes and about to open a fresh bag of chips.

This was the case on Monday, except for some reason I was craving my Diet Coke even more than usual. So imagine my state of shock when I pulled the ice cold bottle out of my cooler, twisted the top, and heard...nothing. I twisted it shut again, just to see if I was caught in a nightmare, and then opened it again. Nothing. I looked at the bottle in search of bubbles and saw...nothing. It looked like cold coffee. My palms got sweaty, my tongue felt heavy and I felt like I was going to cry. What the hell? Who's been fucking with my Diet Coke! Kick my dog, throw toilet paper in my trees, key my car, but DON'T MESS WITH MY DIET COKE GODDAMIT!

Oh, wait. They sell Diet Coke at the cafe in the club for $2. Never mind.

Real Mangled. Sometime around the middle of each month, I happily yank new issues of all my magazines from the mailbox, go through the process of removing the dozens of pain in the ass inserts and perfume strips, and then stack them next to my side of the bed so that I can read them two, maybe three pages at a time each night before my head starts bob bob bobbing and I pass out from exhaustion.

Normally, these magazines arrive unharmed and with their covers intact, which is always a surprise to me considering all of the equipment they have to pass through before they are delivered. There was this one time, though, that the "Newsweek" arrived with a corner of the cover ripped off, which didn't bother me but must have bothered our carrier because he was kind enough to put it in a plastic sleeve and include an "Oops, sorry for the destruction of your mail! We'll try harder next time" note. I thought this was a bit excessive, but whatever.

So when I pulled my new issue of "Real Simple" out of the mailbox, I was a little surprised to not find a "sorry we mangled your mail" note since, in my opinion, this seems to represent just a tad more destruction than a missing corner. What do you think...

I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but it's like the entire magazine was sucked into a Little Tikes wood chipper, bent in half, chewed on by a teething hyena, used for bow and arrow target practice, and then stuck in my mailbox. Initially I was pissed, but then the optimist in me took over and I figured it would eventually end up looking a lot worse than this after it had been rolled up a few times and used to swat a kid on the head. So after deciding what the hell I'll just deal with it I opened it up to do my required routine of removing all of the inserts and perfume samples.

And I shit you not, this is the page I opened to:

Since when did "Real Simple" start running such naggy ads customized for each of it's subscribers? And why do they think I need to be reminded that the drinking age is 21, because it's been 21 forever! I should know because of all those years I spent trying to figure out how I was going to get beer for Friday nights!

Speaking of beer, it's been a hell of a long week and I think I need one. Or maybe I'll have a daiquiri instead. Possibly even strawberry.

Pathetic Parenting at the Pool

Starting today and for the next two weeks, I have four tennis tournaments to prepare for, drive to and keep track of. While this means that I will be able to be outdoors in the sun, it also means that I will be in a lawn chair or sitting on some metal bleachers instead of sneaking in a flask and lounging poolside.

Normally, this fact would annoy the shit out of me because summer is only so long and I hate the idea of acquiring shorts and tank-top tan lines. But believe it or not, it will be kind of nice to have a break from the pool because lately, there are more than a few people that are really pissing me off. It's almost like they're all preparing audition tapes for a new reality show about all the wrong ways to parent.

Hear my empty threats? The perfect scenario for a summer day would be hanging out with a fun friend, sitting for long periods of time in a lounge chair and watching the kids play together without any drama. Since this type of scenario only happens, well, never, it's best to just go to the pool anyway, accepting the fact that more time will be spent walking around the pool, settling the endless "who is drowning who" debate and taking kids to the bathroom.

What drives me insane is when a parent thinks that they're going to be able to have an actual conversation with another adult, while seated, and attempts to control their horrendous offspring by threatening them over and over again with disciplinary measures that everyone, especially the kids, know will never actually happen. For example:
  • If you don't stop splashing everyone, you're going to have a ten minute time-out.
  • If you don't stop screaming, you're done swimming for the day.
  • Don't hit her in the arm! If you do that again, we're going home.
  • You need to stop whining. If you don't stop whining, we're never coming back to the pool again.
  • Don't drown your sister! If you do that again, we're leaving.
  • That's way too loud. Be quieter, or I'm taking you home.
  • If you jump in head first again, you're grounded from swimming for a month.
Immediately after these threats are made, the parent goes right back to the conversation they were having and the kids go right back to splashing, screaming, hitting, drowning, diving, whining and yelling. At no point are any time-outs actually issued, no swimming time is taken away, and worst of all, they never do go home and always seem to return a couple days later.

You're going to learn how to swim whether you like it or not, goddammit! I will admit that I am lucky in that all of my kids learned how to swim without much effort or drama, and that the only way I had to participate in the learning process was to drive each of them to their two-weeks of swimming lessons. I didn't sign them up for lessons until I thought they were ready, old enough to understand how dangerous water can be, and made sure that they wanted to learn how to swim. As I have discovered, though, not everyone goes by this philosophy, specifically Psycho Sally, which is probably not her real name but that's what I'm going to call her, because Stupid Fucking Bitchy Moron would take a long time to type over and over again.

Psycho Sally showed up to the pool with her adorable little not-quite-three-year-old son, Ryan, and the first words out of her mouth were "Oh my GOD Ryan! If you're not going to listen we're going home NOW! Ryan, you need to stay RIGHT BY ME! RYAN!" She then strapped a foam swimming aid (that is designed to fit a much older, much more experienced soon-to-be-swimmer) onto Ryan's teeny body and instructed him to get into the pool. Apparently she didn't like how he got into the pool because no sooner did he have a pinky toe in the water before she grabbed the back of his foam floaty, yanked him backwards and shouted directly into his ear. During the next fifteen minutes, the following phrases, accompanied by more grabbing and yanking, were heard:
  • Scoop, scoop your hands. Do you hear me, Ryan? SCOOP I SAID! If you don't scoop, you will drown.
  • Ryan, you're a horrible swimmer. Why can't you swim better?
  • You have a swimming lesson tomorrow, I can't believe how bad you are at swimming.
  • If you don't learn how to swim, you will drown. Do you want to drown, Ryan?
  • Scoop your hands and that will keep your face out of the water. Stop laughing Ryan, this isn't funny. You're supposed to not drown.
  • The point is to not drown. Stop laughing.
  • Why can't you do this? That other kid can swim! (Note: That "other kid" she referred to was at least four years older than her son.)
  • Scoop. Your. Hands. How hard can it be?
  • Forget it, you're probably going to drown.
  • If you don't learn how to swim, we're never coming to the pool again.
  • Stop crying, Ryan. There's nothing to cry about.
After the super fun "swimming lesson," Ryan walked over to the shallow toddler pool and asked Psycho Sally if he could play in there. She said fine, if that's what he wanted to do, even though that was the baby pool for kids that didn't know how to swim.

I wanted to smack her and then shove her in the deep end.

Every moment can be a learning moment! A couple days later, a dad walked out to the pool with his three-year-old-son and two-year-old daughter. He strapped life jackets onto both of them and pretty much just chucked them into the water. The kids bobbed to the surface, sputtering and fighting back tears, and the dad, who I think I'll call Crazy Kevin, laughed it off by saying "It's just water! W-A-T-E-R! It's fun! Get your hair wet! W-E-T!"

After telling his son, Wyatt, to practice jumping into the pool, Crazy Kevin proceeded to try to keep the daughter, Olivia, from wandering over to the toddler pool. Over and over again all I heard was "Olivia! Olivia! Ollie come here! Ollie get your pacifier! Where's Ollie's pacifier?" And then, just in case we didn't all know her name by then, he started spelling it out in a song: "O-L-L-I-E. That's your name, isn't it Ollie! O-L-L-I-E! Spell it with me!" The girl just stood there with her pacifier dangling out of her mouth, pointing at the toddler pool and yelling "Poo!"

Since I was sitting near the toddler pool, I watched as she climbed in unattended while Crazy Kevin continued to chuck his son into the pool over and over again. No sooner had Olivia entered the pool then her pacifier popped out of her mouth and started circling around, caught in the current created by the drain. Now, I realize that if I were a nice person I could have stood up, walked over, fished the pacifier out and handed it back to Olivia. But this dad was really, really annoying which kind of erases any possibility of me being a nice person, and I kind of wanted to see how he was going to handle the situation. Sure enough, on it's second trip around the pacifier disappeared into the skimmer, and then the dad finally walked over, and then proceeded to pretty much freak out. "Where's the paci? Ollie! Where did you leave your paci? P-A-C-I. We need your paci." I, of course, could have helped at this point since I knew exactly where the paci was, but he wouldn't stop spelling words out, so I didn't.

The best moment of the day occurred when Crazy Kevin's perfect, smart, well-behaved children started acting up. Wyatt didn't want to share his life jacket with Ollie, Ollie didn't want to swim in the big pool but Wyatt didn't want to be in the toddler pool, Ollie was obsessively playing with something she wasn't supposed to which was making her dad visibly agitated, and then it happened: Wyatt threw a giant tantrum. Not a little whimpery one, not a medium-sized fatigue-induced meltdown, but a huge, scream-filled T-A-N-T-R-U-M.

Olivia just stood there watching the chaos with her paci in her hand, and that's when she looked over and noticed me, sitting nearby and watching the whole ordeal. I wanted to say hi Ollie. You're really cute, and just in case you're wondering how to spell dad, it's R-E-T-A-R-D.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It Looks Good on You, Though

Even though I've spent the last 15+ years in suburbia surrounded by cul de sacs filled with houses painted every hue of taupe imaginable, I spent my childhood and high school years in Forest Lake, MN, which is a town about a half-hour north of either Minneapolis or St. Paul. Some people refer to Forest Lake as "that town on the way to Duluth," and I guess they're right, if "on the way" means "after passing Forest Lake and then driving another 140 miles, you end up in Duluth."

I moved to Minneapolis within a month after graduating from high school and have never moved back, which means that after I left, the minority population of the entire town could be counted on one hand. This could be why, except for the occasional dinner at my parents' red house on the circle, I haven't ever been motivated to spend much time there. So why I suddenly thought that spending this year's 4th of July wandering around Forest Lake seemed like a great idea is just slightly more than completely bewildering. Maybe I thought that since I haven't lived there for such a long time, things had progressed. And who knows, it might be fun for my kids to spend some time seeing where I grew up, listening to me be a dorky, cliche parent saying things like "See that baseball dugout over there? I used to sit in there and smoke" or "There's the high school where I skipped a lot of classes, especially political science."

After wandering around the "midway" for three minutes, I quickly realized that not only was I still the only Asian in the town, but now my whole family was involved in the list of "only's":
  • We were the only people not smoking, although I could sense Zoe giving it strong consideration.
  • I was the only girl over 18 without a tramp stamp. And who knows, maybe Zoe was the only girl under 18 without one.
  • Doug was the only guy not wearing suspenders, tube socks, a sleeveless t-shirt with an eagle on the front, a mullet, a giant chain on his wallet, or any combination of the above.
  • We were the only family not holding a tray of cheese curds.
  • Doug and I were the only parents that weren't swearing at their kids.
I will admit that it was slightly fun to watch my boys jump back a little when they were on the receiving end of a carni's toothless smile, but most of the fun came from the people watching. I'm still shocked that Doug and I were able to keep track of our kids, considering how often one of our heads would whip around while we said "Holy shit, did you see that dude? What the hell!" over and over again. It got to the point where I realized that there was no way Doug was going to see everything and everybody, considering the excessive amount of time he was spending doubled over with laughter, so I did what any thoughtful, considerate wife would do: I started taking pictures so that he could look at them later.

You have to wonder what the rest of this guy's closet looks like. Does he have a large selection of jorts, suspenders in other colors, short-sleeve dress shirts in an assortment of patterns and crocs for every day of the week?

My 20-year class reunion is coming up and when I asked Doug, jokingly, if he wanted to go with me (because I already knew the answer was "hell no") his much more creative answer was "See that? I would rather wear that guy's outfit to the office for a week than go to your class reunion." This was a relief to hear, since I had just sent in my RSVP with payment for only one person.

Like I said, we were the only people not smoking. In addition, I kind of felt like a minority because I wasn't displaying any whale tail or muffin top.

"DAMMIT Frank! I told you to bring some chips to the picnic! And what about the dip? Who was supposed to bring the goddamn dip? We only have nine bags and six jars! We're going to run out! Oh, and let me just dig through this bucket of chicken and touch each and every piece before I put one on my plate, and then sit right by the chips because there isn't any room left after piling on 7 scoops of coleslaw."

This is a perfect example as to why I prefer places that enforce the "shirt and shoes required" policy. Where are the shattered glass shards when I need some!?

I feel like such a fool. All this time I thought that CMA stood for "Country Music Association" or "Cows Moo Absentmindedly." Who knew it stood for "Christian Motorcyclists Association." Hell, who even knew that there was a Christian Motorcyclists Association. Do they keep a Bible in their saddlebag? Do they pray before they rev the engines? Will she be forgiven for wearing that top?

You may think that, except for the boots, this person really doesn't look that bad. Well, just be glad I didn't take a picture of the front view. Feel free to use your imagination...

This is the bouncer. Doug was observant enough to point out that apparently no one got the memo saying that a bouncer should be strong, fast and be able to present himself as dominant, not just look big. And immobile. And passive.

Believe it or not, this girl wasn't on her lunch break from the Hulk Hogan/KISS/court jester side show. I'm thinking that maybe she was just trying to attract attention to herself so that people would then look at the person next to her and realize that Karin Housley is running for Senate in District 57. Karin isn't a typical politician and wants to bring "real life experience" to the Senate. In fact, she's determined to get this state "back on track" and is "passionate about budgets," believes we need to "create more jobs" and is determined to not let people look like morons by wearing red and black striped tights.

I was trying to take a picture of the lady in the sweet jeans playing Skeeball because she was really good and about to break the high score, but then this cowgirl do-si-doed right in front of my camera.

I'm going to put this picture on our refrigerator so that every time I tell one of my boys to go change his clothes and they say why, I can point at this kid and say because you don't want some freaky lady laughing at you, taking your picture and then posting it on her blog.