Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Xmas 2011!

You've shopped and you've cooked and cleaned up the crap
you've waited in a long line just to sit on Santa's lap.

You've planned all the meals and decorated a tree
you've sent out the cards, wishing postage was free.

The cookies have been baked, the stockings are full
and the youngest kids are wondering if they only got coal.

And because nothing is perfect, there will still be screams and tears
and that's when you remember...

sometimes vodka is the only way to find Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas! And if no one else tells you today... the food was great, the gifts were perfect, you obviously worked your ass off, no you don't drink too much, your outfit is amazing and thanks for everything.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cookie Chaos

It recently occurred to me that while I write about eating, potato chips, drinking and cleaning the kitchen, I never write about actual cooking. Clarification... I have written about cooking, but only in regards to: A) that I don't love to do it; B) I don't spend hours pouring over cookbooks and dreaming about the next magical meal I'm going to whip up; C) that my kids are semi-picky eaters in regards to texture, cheesiness, sauciness, and spiciness; and D) Christmas cookies.

For eleven months out of the year, my cookie baking skills consist of a handy plastic package of pre-made cookie dough purchased in the dairy section. In addition to this being due to the fact that I'm almost always too lazy to haul the stand mixer out and I'm too anal to have the bulky space hog sitting on my counter year round, it's also due to the fact that the only reason I ever make cookies is because my kids want them. And even though my kids want them, they do not need to have five dozen cookies sitting in the house because, inevitably, four dozen of them will go uneaten. For me - having softened butter and creamed the butter and mixed the butter with the dry ingredients and then watched this butter mixture morph into something besides a burnt cookie - chucking those stale little suckers into the garbage can makes me, well, despise baking. And it makes me resentful. And who needs to be resentful about baking when, as parents, we have so many other things to be resentful about?

Anyway, each December, something happens to my brain that I'm sure most psychologists would put into the same classification as Bat Shit Insanity. I start hoarding butter and sugar when it's on sale, dig through recipes and clear a day on my calendar so that I can spend several hours standing in my kitchen.

This year, after several muttered (and a few shouted) obscenities, yards of parchment paper and too many sticks of butter to acknowledge without dry heaving, I ended up with approximately 22 dozen cookies. After Thursday, when I bake the sugar and gingerbread, there will be what is commonly known in the baking world as a fuck ton of cookies. But hey, I have some appreciative friends, a satisfied mailman, a perplexed garbage man and some happy children so, ya know, it was worth it. I guess.

Since I, the non-baker, managed to crank out so many circles of fat without even so much as over-browning one bottom or giving anyone food poisoning, I've decided to share some of my cookie baking tips. If you want to incorporate them into your own holiday baking extravaganza, feel free. If you want me to go burn in a fiery hell because I'm not supposed to talk about anything besides drinking and beating children, I completely understand.

  • Buy and use parchment paper. I buy mine at Costco because you get several football field lengths for not that much money. Use it on every pan, even the ones that claim to be nonstick because then not only will your cookies look better in the end, but you won't have to wash any pans.
  • Another bonus of parchment paper: you can just slide the whole paper off of the pan, directly onto the cooling rack. No more trying to wedge a spatula under a too-warm cookie, resulting in a destroyed/deformed cookie.
  • For those of you that own Silpat/silicone baking mats, do what I did and STOP USING THEM. They are a pain in the ass to wash, no pan ever created fits them exactly without either wasted space and/or the mat lopping over the edges and did I mention that they're a pain in the ass?
  • If you don't have a palm tree in your yard and can't wear shorts year round, the fastest way to cool the cookie sheets between batches is to put them outside.
  • I use the insulated cookie sheets, but have also used the edgeless non-insulated kind. It really is a matter of preference and keep in mind that cookies baked on the non-insulated sheets will have browner edges and bottoms. Also, I am convinced that the burn-rate is much higher for the non-insulated.
  • This may sound a lot like Martha and for that I apologize, but I never make drop cookies without a spring-lever scoop. It's like a mini ice cream scoop and it makes plopping that lump of dough so much easier. Plus, all your cookies will be the same size and if you're anal like me, you get a little bit neurotic if all your cookies aren't the same size.
  • Unless you happen to own 25 cooling racks, cover a giant flat surface with freezer paper, waxy side down. Then, once your cookies have cooled on the parchment paper, move them to the freezer paper to finish setting (especially important when making the always-popular peanut butter/Hershey's Kiss cookies). The waxy surface will prevent any grease/butter/fat from soaking through to the table.
  • Don't frost the sugar cookies too soon before Christmas because storing them is a pain in the ass.
  • This is common sense, but if you need to chill some dough for three hours, make that dough first and then move it to a different bowl to chill so that your mixer bowl is free to make something else. Otherwise you'll just spend those three hours sitting around, during which you may start cocktailing, which will result in some really interesting cookies and probably a few burns (no, I'm not talking about the cookies). Since I am still staring at a scar from a Thanksgiving mishap, I am very much against charred flesh.
  • If you see the peppermint candy cane Hershey's Kisses, buy two bags. They sell out fast. And if you aren't able to find them, then you won't be able to make these:
Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

1/2 c. butter-flavored shortening
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. flower, spooned and leveled
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 - 12 oz. bag dark chocolate chips
a bag of Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, unwrapped (duh)

Preheat oven to 350

Cream together butter, shortening, brown sugar and white sugar for 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed or until light and fluffy, aka the stuff is stuck together enough that it stops flying out of the mixer bowl. Add the eggs (one at a time) and vanilla. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, use a whisk to combine the baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa powder. Add to the butter/sugar glop and mix until combined. At this point, if you're like me and don't like chocolate, try not to gag. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes. Make a drink.

Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet, aka parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake until just set, but centers are still soft, about 9 minutes. Remove from oven without burning yourself and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. Use a metal spatula to move cookies to cooling rack, or, since you were super smart and used the parchment paper, simply slide the entire piece of paper to the cooling rack and then put the cookie sheet outside to cool. Top each cookie with a candy cane thing.

This is critical, allow to cool completely. Those Kisses take longer than an 82 year old man to harden. After the cookie part seems like you can pick it up without it breaking, you can carefully move it from the cooling rack to the paper covered table, but try not to bump the Kiss. Unless you're like my kid who intentionally bumps it and then says "oops this one is wrecked guess I better just eat it."

Serve the cookies. Make another drink.

And happy holidays.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Culturally Clueless

Hi, my name is Jody. After being adopted and then spending the first few years of my life in the giant metropolis of Wadena, I grew up in Forest Lake, Minnesota. I like cheeseburgers, Irish pubs, Belgian beer, reubens, some seafood, bacon, pizza and pretty much anything that involves potatoes. I do not like Greek food, uncooked meat, chocolate, large quantities of condiments and anything that involves the cooking terms "reduction" or "foam."

And although, technically speaking, I am from South Korea, I hate - as in loathe, despise, detest, abhor, recoil and run away from - Korean food. (except for maybe those beef things on a stick that are saturated in some sort of super sweet sticky sauce stuff. I mean, I've never actually consumed one, but at least the smell doesn't make me want to hurl.) I also don't speak Korean, don't know the names of any major Korean streets, am not familiar with the type of currency used in the country and couldn't give you the names of any political leaders.

When I see someone sitting near me that I have no idea who they are or where they're from or where they live, I have never ever considered striking up a conversation with the opening line of "So, what is your background? What is your culture? Do you eat the native food? Can you speak the language?" So maybe this may come across as being overly sensitive but seriously, why is it that, in this diverse generation when there are ASIANS EVERYWHERE, some people feel the need to strike up this kind of conversation with me? And why can't they immediately figure out that maybe they should just shut the fuck up and go sit far, far away from me and maybe ask that other dude why he's wearing lederhosen?

I am accustomed to always getting mistaken for someone else (coincidentally, it's always an Asian girl that they swear looks just like me), but there are some times when I kind of get caught off guard. Like when that one dude asked me if my daughter could sing in Chinese, or if my boys are good at math, and hey I MUST know a great recipe for Asian lettuce wraps and, while I was grocery shopping, "do I know where the egg roll wrappers are?" One guy actually said "Hey, let me guess where you're from because I've spent some time overseas and am pretty good at telling you guys apart now. So, hmmm, you're... Japanese!"

Yesterday, though, was one of the most bizarre conversations I've ever had to tolerate and since I admit that I was kind of rude in answering this moron's whole "where are you from" line of questioning, all I can say is... DUDE, SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Setting: The health club, where I am trying to get Zoe switched from school clothes/shoes to tennis clothes/shoes in a matter of minutes. Moron piped up when Zoe was sitting on the floor, digging through her tennis bag for her water bottle and shoes.

Moron: I just have to ask, where are you from?
Me: Forest Lake
Moron: No, like, where are you from? Culturally?
Me: Forest Lake, but currently in the suburb of Maple Grove
Moron: No, like, where are you fffrrrruuuuuuum.
Me: (trying not to laugh) Oh you mean where I'm fffrrrruuuuuum. Well, that would be South Korea.
Moron: HAH! I knew it! I knew you weren't Chinese! I knew it was Korean! See, I spent a few years over there, working and such, and I thought you looked like them, and then I saw how your daughter was sitting and that told me that for SURE she was from Korea because that's how little Korean girls sit.
Me: (blink blink blinkety blink) Oh, that's weird. Seriously, super weird. But anyway, Zoe is a halfsie. She's half Korean, but her other half is a mishmash of a bunch of non-Asian countries and a generous sprinkling of geek. But that's neat, that Korean girls sit. On the floor.
Moron: So, can we talk?
Me: Isn't that what we're doing?
Moron: No, I mean, can we talk? In Korean?
Me: You can talk, but if it's okay I'll just reply with things like "Hola, margarita, por favor."
Moron: You don't speak Korean? But you're from Korea?
Me: Well, yeah, but there's this really funky new thing called 'adoption' and stuff, and, um, seriously? Is really happening?
Moron: Do you remember that cool place on the river...
Me: Dude, I know no landmarks. Except the spoon on the cherry sculpture.
Moron: Oh, where's that?
Me: Downtown Minneapolis.
Moron: Oh I see. So what area of South Korea are you from?
Me: That area where they were abandoning babies in the early 70's.
Moron: Hmm, yeah, I wasn't there in the 70's. I was there in the early 90's. For work. I worked there for a few years.
Me: Super neat.
Moron: Yes, it was. I'm so surprised that you don't speak the language. Well, it's been nice talking with you!
Me: Definitely interesting.

I am not shitting you. This conversation is almost word for word. I wish I would've recorded it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where are your shoes?

Today is Wednesday which, for me, means that I'm periodically checking the computer and waiting for one of my kid's tennis tournament draws to be posted. I don't remember the last time I've experienced a Wednesday without having to go through this suspense, but I'm guessing it was maybe two weeks ago, when the tournament director was really on top of things and posted the draws on Tuesday afternoon instead of making us all wait until Wednesday.

These draws tell me several things:
  1. Who my kid will be playing;
  2. The time that I'll have to get up, aka ass-crack of dawn;
  3. Whose parents I will have to tolerate for three days;
  4. If I will have to pack our cooler with breakfast, lunch, dinner or my all time favorite, a combination of all three; and
  5. The amount of time I'll have between matches to drive to ______ to purchase ______ for the sum of $____. This is infinitely irritating because ______ should have been packed in the tennis bag but was forgotten at home, even though I reminded someone _____ times to CHECK YOUR BAG AND MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED!
Like shoes, for example. Shoes are a good thing to have when you're playing tennis. So I've heard.

At the end of July, we experienced a week of tennis that will be forever known as the Barely Controlled Week of Chaos in Which My Family Was Spread Across the Midwest. This week involved Zach flying to Kalamazoo, MI for one national tournament, my husband and I driving Charlie and one of his friends to Omaha for a different national tournament, and Zoe and the dog staying home with my holy-shit-what-did-we-get-ourselves-into-this-time parents. As you can imagine, planning and packing and preparing for a week like this required a little bit of forethought (AND THREW ME INTO CONTROL FREAK BLISS!) and I'm happy to say that nothing was forgotten (HOLY SHIT I TOTALLY KICKED ASS!) Or, clarification, nothing that I was responsible for was forgotten. (BECAUSE, LIKE I SAID, I KICKED ASS!)

The night before we were leaving, while I was triple checking my lists and piling bags up by the door, I gave both boys their lists and told them several times to check their tennis bags, make sure everything is in there and oh yeah, make sure everything is in there. Charlie was all yeah yeah, got it, it's all there, oh wait I need to grab my shoes, hey cool this is what it feels like to have ADHD because I CAN'T FOCUS ON ANYTHING BECAUSE I'M SO FREAKING EXCITED and oh yeah, I was about to grab my sho -------

The drive to Omaha; uneventful. Zach's flight to Kalamazoo; uneventful. The parents staying with the dog and girl; bark barkity bark growl hey old man don't fucking move from that chair bark bark.

After we arrived in Omaha (which is chock full of stoplights that are mostly red) and checked into our swanky hotel, we headed to the courts for tourney registration (here's your t-shirt and bag of shit), parent meeting (don't be a bunch of assholes and embarrass your kids) and a brief practice session. Oh, and did I mention that Omaha in July, in addition to smelling a little like manure, is also hot? Like, hot. And a little humid. But mostly just really, really fucking hot. So after schlepping stuff from the car and listening to some nutrition lady drone on and on about the importance of hydration, I had a pretty good filmy glaze accumulating on every surface of my body and that glaze did not put me in the mood to hear these words: "What did you do with my shoes?"

Let me repeat, in case you missed it the first time because I sure as hell did when I first heard it: What. Did you do. With. My. Shoes.

First of all, what? The fuck? Why would I do anything with your shoes, CHILD!? And did I not nag you 38 times less than 24 hours ago to get your shit together, including your shoes?

Sure enough, there were no shoes. After pulling everything out of that tennis bag that is just slightly smaller than the trunk of most sedans, no court shoes were discovered. What I did discover, however, is that my forehead can sweat A LOT and I can gnash my teeth and mutter swear words so that they're only audible to a certain individual and when that individual hears that gnashing and swearing, their forehead also starts to sweat.

I wiped the sweat off my hands so that I could text my parents to see if there were, in fact, a pair of blue Adidas court shoes sitting in the back closet, just waiting to be shoved into a tennis bag. And while I knew that the answer was going to be yes, I didn't need to receive the text that I did: "We'll have to check later. We're at your brother's house right now, eating burgers and swimming." Okay, then, thanks a lot, hope you get a sunburn.

At that moment, I was kind of at a loss as to what I should do. Obviously I needed to get the kid some shoes because there was no way in hell I was going to default him from five days of matches, but I also needed to make him suffer in some way. Putting thumbtacks into the soles of the new shoes seemed a bit extreme, as did breaking off his thumbs. And that's when, as my kid stood at the fence and watched all of his friends on the courts, I started hearing the most wonderful sounds: Why aren't you hitting, Charlie? (I forgot my shoes). What? You forgot your shoes? At home? (Yes. At home.) How could you forget your shoes? (I dunno.) Ha ha! Did you really forget to bring your shoes? (Yes, I did.) Man, your mom must be mad! (Yes, she is.) Why isn't Charlie hitting? Dude, he forgot his shoes!

Punishment and suffering... check.

And now is when I shamelessly promote my iPhone. Thank you, iPhone, for promptly giving me the name, address and phone number of the nearest pro shop that sold court shoes in my kid's size. Thank you for providing a map so that I could drive directly to said pro shop which, conveniently, was just a few miles away. Thank you, also, for multitasking and allowing me to receive a text from my husband while I was searching for the nearest bar, a text that said "Just tell Charlie it's no big deal. I'll just drive the five hours back to Maple Grove and get his shoes for him." I love being married to a smart ass. A smart ass who also has an iPhone.

Once the shoes were bought (bonus: there was a coupon for this pro shop in the bag of shit that we received at registration) and on my kid's feet, he played his ass off, won a bunch of matches, had way too much fun and was forced to listen to me tell this story to anyone who said "Hey, Charlie got new shoes!"

When Zach heard about what had happened in Omaha, his reaction was exactly as I expected: Holy crap, mom must've been ticked. So you'd think that after watching his brother writhe with discomfort every time we left for a lesson or match and I'd say "Hey, does everyone have their shoes" with just a little less than a crap ton of sarcasm, he'd be super responsible about his own bag and always make sure he had his shit together. I mean, you'd think that, but you'd be wrong.

Over Labor Day weekend, both of the boys played in a tournament at the University of MN. Most of the matches started on Saturday, but Zach ended up with a Friday night match. As usual, I made sure to have the cooler packed (including a flask because it was, after all, a Friday night) and Zach was to have made sure that his bag was packed.

Well before it was time to leave, I found the giant child, sitting on a bench near our back door. Street shoes on, bag on his back, phone in his hand, brain half-way out of his head. I said "Hey, you know we aren't leaving for, like, at least 20 minutes" and he said "Ya, well, ya. K. I'll jus' wait." Since he ready with so much time to spare, I started patting myself on the back while thinking holy shit, man. This is kick ass! He is fired up to win this match! Chalk one up for me cuz all that nagging is paying off!

We drove half-an-hour, dealt with some traffic, found a parking spot amidst all the U-Hauls and Suburbans that were covering the U of M campus (it was move-in weekend) and walked to the tennis center. Just as we got to the door, Zach put his bag down, unzipped it and started channeling his brother: Where are my shoes?

Oh, ha ha hooo ha! That's a good one! Two times in one summer?! No way! Stop it! Seriously, STOP FUCKING WITH ME! Because you know if you were to have really forgot your shoes I would potentially HAVE TO KILL YOU!
  1. Yes, he really did forget his shoes.
  2. No, I didn't really kill him.
  3. I need a bigger flask.
I quickly reviewed my options:
  1. Default him from a match that he was sure to win, and be out the $55 tourney registration fee;
  2. Drive home, in traffic, to get the shoes, which would probably result in him defaulting because he'd end up being late for his match;
  3. Drive to a pro shop that was approximately 10 miles away, plunk down $110 for another pair of shoes, which would look really great sitting next to the other new pair of shoes that were already in the closet at home; or
  4. Kill him, then go to the bar.
I know some of you are thinking I should have went with Option #1 (or even #4), but that approach wasn't going to happen. He knew I was mad (as indicated by the flailing arms, spinning head and the chants of "I'M SOOO MAD!"), he felt like a moron, and his dad had pulled out the most scathing of disciplinary words: he said his first and last name.

After spending a few extra seconds glaring at my kid who was wishing he had put his invisibility cloak in his bag, I decided to go with Option #3, stormed out the door and started quickly walking down the sidewalk to the car that was parked in the ramp in the spot that I had pre-paid $10 for. And that's when I remembered that maybe I wouldn't have to drive anywhere because they sold shoes at the U of M's tennis desk! I could just give them $110 in addition to the $55 registration fee that they already had! So, ya know, whoopee for me!

(For future reference: If you ever have the opportunity to throw a shoebox at your kid while he's bent over and tying the shoes that were just in said box, do it. It's really, very cathartic.)

Since then, several more tournaments have been played and several more lessons have been attended and I'm happy to report that so far, no more shoes have been forgotten. Now, if only I could say the same thing about the hats and water bottles.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm not fat! I'm just a big asshole!

There are several reasons why I enjoy having a cocktail (or two, or whatever) at the end of a day:
  1. Things went exceptionally well and I would like to celebrate the wellness before it goes away. Because we all know that very, very soon, things will most likely be unwell.
  2. Things were a little bumpy but hey, the kids are finally locked in their rooms and tomorrow is a new day.
  3. The weather just screams "whiskey!"
  4. The weather just screams "vodka!"
  5. From the moment the alarm clock went off, or actually from ten minutes before the alarm went off, the day was like a pair of rusty pruning shears, jabbing me in the brain. In the same spot, over and over and over again. Until the spot became a festering boil that could only be soothed with booze.
Wednesday was one of those days. Not the awesome day, or even the slightly bumpy day. I had a day filled with jabs. And although each event and irritation may not seem like much, together they added up to something that made me want to scream. And since some of you have a low tolerance for monotony, I'll just summarize the bulk of the day by saying it included a lot of unappreciated meals, misplaced items, exposure to stupidity and missed social outings. If, however, you want more details, you can read about my day here. Otherwise, you can skip reading about all the bullshit and get to the creme de la creme.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

One of the things that I love about the club where my kids play tennis is that they have a designated area for ping pong. This super accessible area is just out of my sight, which means not only do I not have to witness the chaos, I don't have to listen to it, either. Unfortunately, though, I kind of wish I'd been able to see and hear the most recent chaos.

After their lesson and while they're waiting for their sister's lesson to finish, the boys usually head off with their friends to play ping pong, and Wednesday night was no different. The only difference with this last Wednesday night is that there were a couple younger boys (who play hockey, not tennis) that wanted to play. Since my boys know these kids, they were more than happy to include them. So when Charlie walked back to where I was sitting, in tears and holding his elbow, I was like "how in the hell do you hurt yourself playing ping pong?" Well, this is how:

Charlie was playing ping pong with Twin A or, more accurately, Charlie was beating Twin A at ping pong. In the process of losing, Twin A gets angrier and angrier. After he loses, Twin A walks over to my kid, stands directly in front of him and aggressively argues about the score. Charlie says "Fine, you lost 9-11, not 8-11. Whatever." and walks away. As he's walking away, Twin A runs at my kid and body slams him against the wall, holding him there. My kid says "Hey, you're 10 and I'm 13, but you're a lot bigger than me (no joke - the kid probably has 40 pounds on Charlie) so don't do that. Get OFF!" Upon hearing this, Twin A lets him go and immediately decides that he heard my kid say "Hey, dude, you're fat. And you're fat. And did you know you're fat? Wow, you're fat! Get off of me because you know what? YOU'RE FAT!" After Twin A backs up, Charlie removes himself from the wall and walks away, only to be nailed in the right elbow by a flying ping pong paddle that Twin A decided to throw at him. After hurling the paddle, Twin A runs off to find his mommy.

Then the fun times really got rollin'.

Since I know the parents of these twins, I say "Hey, Blondie, what just happened here, and why is my kid's elbow swelling up?" Twin A is now seated next to his mom and immediately cues up the always successful waterworks and "Well, he called me fat!" defensive combination, which should completely justify why he smashed another kid against a wall. Because according to Twin A, not only did Charlie call him fat while he was getting acquainted with the wall but he called him fat several times during their super friendly game of ping pong which, by the way, Twin A lost 8-11.

While I stood there with Charlie trying to figure out what the hell was going on, Blondie, and her blondish husband, included the following points in their son's defense:
  • He gets bullied a lot at school for being fat, so he's very sensitive about it.
  • He's very competitive and sometimes has a hard time controlling his anger.
  • They didn't see what happened so therefore they can't get involved.
  • They don't fight their kids' battles for them.
  • Kids will be kids.
  • Twin B says that yes, he heard Charlie call Twin A fat. Several times, in fact.
  • Maybe Charlie and Twin A should go out to the parking lot and finish the argument by fighting it out.
  • Boys will be boys.
  • They're sure Charlie's elbow will be fine (even though he has a tennis tournament this weekend), but their son is now suffering from emotional abuse.
And then, after I said "Well, Charlie, I guess you should be more careful about who you beat at ping pong," they left. Without apologizing and basically giving their son permission to shove another kid against a wall when he loses, they left.

After talking to my older son and another boy (who happens to be friends with both Charlie and Twin A) who witnessed the entire incident, and being assured by both of them that Charlie never called the kid fat, I handed my kid an ice pack for his elbow and headed to the front desk. There, I learned that children under 12 aren't supposed to be anywhere in the club without parental supervision and that there are surveillance cameras everywhere that will have the entire incident recorded. Oh, and we need to take a picture of that bruised arm so that we have something to attach to the report.

Seriously, if only they would have apologized...

The ugly details...

You are reading this post because you are obviously:
  1. Bored;
  2. Enjoy reading about other people suffering;
  3. Trying to figure out what I'm whining about;
  4. You saw a lady standing in the grocery store, giving a death glare to a texting, gum-chomping cow that was blocking the entire aisle in the frozen food section and you're trying to figure out if it was really me (Yes, it was.); or, most likely it's because...
  5. You are nice.

5:32am... I woke up, eight minutes before my alarm clock goes off. Or, more accurately, I woke up for the 6th time in the last two hours, but this time it wasn't worth trying to go back to sleep. And of course the first thing I thought of was "I'm tired as fuck," which was immediately followed by "No, really. Fuck. Tired as fuck." I pulled on my mom uniform (running shorts, long sleeve shirt, ponytail) and headed downstairs to dishwasher emptying/newspaper fetching/coffee making/dog feeding/breakfast making bliss.

6:00... Because I'm lame and would feel a little bit guilty if I were to sleep in while my oldest kids found their own breakfast and got themselves to the bus stop, I made something to eat for kid #1: scrambled eggs, bacon and toast with jelly. Upon seeing this hot, well-balanced first meal of the day, he said "Oh, well, there's no way I'm going to eat all this. If I eat those eggs I'll just feel uuuugggghgh." Because I hadn't ingested much caffeine yet, I only had enough energy to say "Fine. Eat whatever" instead of "Fine. Eat whatever and then I'll shove the rest of it up your nose." Note to self: Frosted Lucky Charms are magically delicious, and a bowl of cold cereal is a nutritious part of a well-balanced breakfast.

6:50... After kid #1 glared at me a few times and then stumbled out the door in time to catch the bus, kid #2 appeared for breakfast. Upon seeing his plate of freshly made scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, he muttered something like "I hope this doesn't make me sick" before taking a few very unenthusiastic bites. Note to self: A smack in the face is a nutritious part of a well-balanced breakfast.

7:45... After kid #2 left for the bus, kid #3 appeared for breakfast. Upon seeing her plate of freshly made scrambled eggs, bacon and a muffin, she declared the eggs as "too hot to eat" and proceeded to eat the muffin. Note to self: Aruba is very nice this time of year.

9:10... Several hours (well, technically only an hour or so, but it felt like several) later, and after a couple dozen pleas of "get dressed, brush your teeth, practice piano, pack your backpack, brush your teeth, where are your socks," I dropped kid #3 off at school and headed to the grocery store, still wearing my running shorts, shirt, ponytail plus two additional items: a fancy lip balm called Carmex and a baseball hat.

9:30... Do you have any lettuce that doesn't look like it's been sitting in a monsoon? Oh, ha ha, I know it looks that way but no, I haven't worked out this morning. You seem to be out of the mild Italian sausage that is on sale, so can I substitute a different brand? Oh, hi, wow, yes, you do sound very busy! I don't care if that's the coupon item, that ham tastes like cardboard. Excuse me, but can I get past your cart? No, I need the 10.5 oz box of Cheez-Its because that's what's listed on your stupid coupon. Do you have a gallon of 1% milk that doesn't expire in two days? No, ma'am, I'm not that Chinese lady that taught your daughter how to ice skate. Gawd, do I ever love grocery shopping, especially with coupons!

10:30... Because I'm lame, I went to a second grocery store (yes, Byerly's) where they have the most amazing chicken tenders, which happened to be BOGO, and since I have to bring dinner to tennis for the boys on Wednesdays I thought I'd be nice and make sandwiches with these chicken tenders. And of course I also made sure to get fresh buns for these sandwiches. Because I'm lame. Oh, and also according to more than a couple people, now that the kids are in school I have ALL KINDS OF TIME TO MYSELF SO I CAN SHOP ALL THE TIME!

11:15... Finally home, just in time to finish the laundry, clean part of the house, put the groceries away, walk the dog and inhale some lunch. And then I need to brush and floss my teeth so that I can get to my dentist appointment! It's really super important to be on time to the dentist! So I'm sure to be punctual and get there five minutes early because, in addition to being lame, I just loooove going to the dentist! Mmm, gotta love that dentist office smell!

1:35... Twenty minutes after my appointment was scheduled -- after I was assured that the hygienist was running on time -- I'm sitting in the waiting room, thinking about the 142 things I still need to get done. So I did what I've always wanted to do: told them to cancel my appointment and then walked out. And anyway, I had just flossed and brushed in the middle of the day, so my teeth already felt cleaner than usual.

2:30... Kid #1 walks in the door, followed by... his friend? The friend who wasn't supposed to ride the bus to our house and is instead supposed to be at his own house, waiting for his mom to pick him up. So now I have an extra kid (who happens to have the loudest voice ever given to a teenage boy) in my house for the next hour, and he's hungry. Like, really hungry. And really loud.

3:10... Kid #2 walks in the door, gets ready for tennis, and then immediately walks out the door. Their ride arrived... over ten minutes early. Goodbye, loud talker!

3:45... I walk out the door carrying a cooler packed with dinner (yum, chicken sandwiches!), kid #3's tennis bag and my tote bag so that I can pick the youngest kid up at the elementary school, aka Parking Lot of Torture. Today is no different, and I somehow resist honking and/or gesturing toward five different people, including one dude that nearly ran over a child because he should have the right to go the wrong way on a one-way.

5:30... After arriving at the club, quickly feeding kid #3, sending her to her tennis lesson and then (because I still have my running shorts on) hammering out a three mile walk/run, the boys wrap up their tennis lesson and appear for dinner. I pull out the sandwiches and, five minutes into eating them, kid #1 declares them "a pain in the butt to eat because the bread is too chewy." Note to self: Stop feeding children anything besides gruel and knuckle sandwiches.

Add to all of this the smooshing of my child, the fact that no one else in my family has the ability to recognize when the recycling bin is full, children that are still genuinely shocked that bedtime arrives each and every night, a dog that wants in when he's out and out when he's in, a school I.D. that was distributed to a child and lost by the child on the same day and finally, the worst part of all: I was supposed to go out with friends. But by 9:00, I really didn't have the energy to be all high maintenance and get myself dressed in anything besides pajamas, so I skipped out on the cathartic fun and stayed home. I know this makes me sound even lamer, but at that moment, just having enough energy to brush my teeth was doubtful. I figured that would be okay, though, because after all, I had already brushed them twice.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Great MN Let's ALL Get Together

As we've done in years past, Doug and I celebrated our wedding anniversary at the MN State Fair. The difference this year, though, was that while I was at the Fair with five children, Doug chose to celebrate our anniversary by himself. At home. Not surrounded, as I was, by what seemed to be the entire population of Minnesota as they simultaneously ambled, smoked and cursed around me, grazing on cheese curds, fried candy bars, corn and about 1802 other things. And while this may sound like a not very romantic way to spend a day celebrating our love, let me tell you that if he would have joined me this year, I guarantee he would have been arrested for violently assaulting a slow walker, I would have had to swing by jail on the way home to bail him out, and that's not very romantic, either.

Since my boys are both equipped with phones and are old enough to experience this day of sensory overload by themselves, they were turned loose (with friends) for a couple hours, which left just Zoe (in her wagon) and I to go wherever we wanted to. And we would have went wherever we wanted to if it weren't for the fact that approximately three million people were in our way. Seriously. Three million. I fucking counted each and every one of them, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I was tempted to count some of them twice. So as I weaved and bobbed my way through crowded intersections, "accidentally" running over a set of toes here and "oopsie, did I just bash you in the shin with my wagon" there, all I could think about was holy shit, dude, I am sooo glad that Doug is not here because he would be Miz. Rah. Bull.

Because of this arrangement, I was the only one available to be Designated Wagon Puller. And since I needed to drink beer (obviously), that left me with zero hands to take pictures. That is, until I figured out that I could prop the front tire of the wagon next to my foot and hold the beer (which always seemed to be half-empty) with my teeth. This allowed me to take pictures with one hand and reach into the wagon for a spring roll with the other. Multitasking at it's finest, really.

Even with this arrangement, though, I missed some incredible photo ops. Fair do's, immense human beings, fanny packs, tube tops -- by the time I had stopped the wagon and clenched the beer glass in my teeth -- all of these amazing sights had whipped by and out of frame. So, I'm sorry for what I failed to capture, but hope you enjoy the shots that I did manage to get.

Just in case you thought that I was exaggerating and/or making excuses as to why I missed some pictures, this is approximately 1/2000th of the crowd. Now, see that lady in the pink shirt? I think I knicked her toes with my wagon.

But even as crowded as it was, I can't believe that I still managed to find Brett Favre.

There is an area of the Fair called the International Bazaar where you'll find all kinds of non-Minnesotan foods and useless crap for sale. When we got there, there was a mariachi band playing (which immediately made me crave a margarita) and a bunch of people eating tamales. So why, exactly, did I see a dude wearing a beret? More importantly, why would a dude ever wear a beret?

This is obviously a couple in love. And I wonder if the tattoo on her back was complimentary when she paid to have the jeans tattooed on her thighs.

It's a good thing this kid's mom is so smart, demonstrated by the fact that she tied the balloon to his wrist. There's nothing worse than paying good money for a balloon only to have it fly away within minutes of ownership. Now, if only she could find him a black and white shirt to match his wig/hat/moron badge...

Hey, maybe she can ask these guys where they got their's.

Normally I don't post/email/share any pictures until after I get home, but this one I immediately texted to my husband with a subject line of "You can't make this shit up."

For all you single fellas, one of the most popular places to pick up hot chicks at the Grandstand is at the personal massager/ massage chair booth. If you're lucky, you'll find someone wearing a sexy pair of flesh colored capris. And yes, she's willing to take pictures.

Show me a two-headed man, I won't stare. Show me a kid with full facial hair, I won't stare. Show me a kid on a leash, I will always stare.

Like I said... I will ALWAYS stare. And the best thing about this master was that right after I took this pic, she unhooked the leash and said "You're going potty now" to which the little doggy said "No ruff ruff I don't have to go potty." So of course she said "Yes you do, so let's go potty" to which the puppy said "Noooooo! I don't want to goooooo!" So at least we know that the leash isn't because the nice owner has a control issue or anything.

I'll bet that when this guy found out that he won something from the MN State Lottery, he had no idea that it would be this piece of shit ladybug backpack thing. And then when he found out that it was the backpack, he had no idea that he would be the one to end up carrying the stupid thing around for the rest of the day.

I swear I saw his wife smirking.

This guy is taking his visit to the Alpaca booth just a bit too seriously. And I would bet money that he ate the overpriced alligator on a stick. Hell, I bet he wrestled the alligator before he ate it.

Right before we left, one of my kid's friends yelled "Gross Jody! That guy just hurled on the street!" and sure enough I was stupid enough to turn my head and see a giant puddle of fresh barf. And then, like the sickos that we are, we waited around to see if anyone was clueless enough to walk through the barf bog so that we could laugh and I stood there hoping like hell that this chick would show up.

In addition to seeing Brett Favre, I also saw Pat Benatar.

I was trying to get a picture of that guy's mullet, and then as if on cue, these two women wandered into the frame. I literally threw my arms into the air and yelled "Holy shit! You have GOT to be kidding me!"

Quote from my husband: "This guy was skinny when he got to the Fair."

This woman doesn't look that bad, right? I mean, black is a slimming color and the top is sort of a flattering cut. So why would I bother taking this picture?

Because of the back view.

In all the years that I've seen cargo shorts in existence, I've never actually seen anyone put them to actual cargo use. My kid is the one who spotted this guy, and at first he thought they were boxes of cigarettes. I think his actual words were "Check it out, mom. That guy sure is prepared for a full day of smokin' at the fair!" This assumption makes sense, too, since everyone in his group - along with 82% of the other Fair attendees - was smoking. I was just secondhand smoking.

She's so lucky that this was the day before Labor Day, otherwise that white skirt/leggings combo would have been a major fashion faux pas.

At the International Bazaar, there was a booth that was a combination of rug seller and fancy braider. My first thought was "who the fuck buys a big ass rug at the State Fair?" which was immediately followed by "Who the fuck gets their hair braided all fancy at the State Fair?" Well, right after I saw some dude walking around carrying a big ass rug, I saw these braids.

Seriously, people, can you imagine touching some stranger's greasy State Fair hair for an extended amount of time? Just to put in some stupid braid!? Gross...

In 1986, there were some god awful ugly "leather" purses for sale in the International Bazaar. In 2011, there are still some god awful ugly "leather" purses for sale in the International Bazaar. In fact, they're probably the same purses.

In case you're wondering, this guy likes Sturgis. And insanely blue Levis. And motorcycles. But he hates sleeves. And even though he probably loves the Minnesota State Fair, I'll bet he didn't take any pictures.