Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

Hey. How's it going? I hope you're ready for the big rush this year. Here in Wisconsin, it's been an interesting year. Larry Potter is now 12, and we are on the brink of puberty.

That being said, I have some suggestions for you this year.

Santa, don't bring my son anything. Yes, you heard that right. No, I'm not the crazy mom that canceled Christmas (though I can totally understand that). My son will get some presents--mostly in the form of gift cards and cash, as that is now his age-appropriate gift choice. But from you, I'm hoping we can reach a compromise.

Can you take some things instead?

If this is at all possible, I'd like his ability to sigh completely stripped of him. The only intentional deep breaths I want to hear are when I take him for a check-up at the clinic. Wave your magic wand or snowball or reindeer turd and put the dramatic sighs in your sack. Same for the ability to roll his eyes. This kids has had two eye surgeries in his past to make sure his muscles could be used in sync and for everyday life purposes. What I wouldn't give to have them freeze again, or at least give him some sort of electric jolt if they start to roll back in adolescent angst.

And the attitude Santa. Oh the attitude. I don't know what you can do about this. I have had about 120 seconds worth of conversation with him today, and I think I'm at my quota for the week. Everything in his life in unfair, especially as it pertains to how his father and I treat him. I just want to give him laryngitis for the next...I don't know...5 years? 10? But then I know I'll start to see the frantic gestures of a 7th grader.

Santa, if you can't take away his attitude, could you at least bring me some magic potion that makes me not care about it? Like wine, but without the hangover and sketchy parenting reputation. Is there a vitamin I could take? Or, like in Office Space, can you just hypnotize me so I can end every day thinking I just spent it at a Mexican resort?

I don't know what you can do for me, Santa, but I'm open to suggestions. This is my eldest kid. Good gravy, I have two more coming up to this age quickly. I'm going to need your help.

The Snarky Mom

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pink-y and Your Brain

Awareness isn't a cure for a disease. Awareness means that you are now more knowledgeable about a subject matter than you were before. Support isn't a cure for a disease. Support means that you are an empathetic human with concern for your fellow man (or woman).

Perhaps it will come as a surprise to no one that I am generally annoyed with all of the Breast Cancer Awareness hype that happens every October. I find it annoying on a trivial level. (Pink drill bits! Pink lobster bibs! Pink cat litter!) But I'm also offended that the major marketers of the world are trying to cash in on the misfortune of others AND are perpetuating the misinformation that wearing pink will cure breast cancer.
www.athermalimage.com owns this image. Or at least posted it first. 

I'm not an unfeeling jerk about breast cancer. One of the cancers my grandmother died of in the 90s was breast cancer. My aunt is a breast cancer survivor. I have had my own health scares in the department that led to my first mammogram at the age of 33. A poem that I wrote about this very experience was a national finalist for a contest this fall. In short, I'm pretty damn aware of breast cancer. I'm confident most of the literate people in this country are too.

I saw a term on the Facebook today that sums it up completely: Pinkwashing. Yes. To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, "It looks like the whole [place] is covered in Pepto-Bismal." (Bonus points if you can name that movie.) Companies are jumping on the Pink Train, scared that they will miss part of their Pink Profits for the entire month of October.

Here's the sad, yet hopefully obvious truth: a pink ribbon is not a vaccine. Just because you buy yogurt with a pink lid (my friend Lisa reminded me of the pink lids) doesn't mean that you will not get breast cancer some day. I see a lot of statistics flying around the internet about how much money the Susan G. Komen foundation actual goes to cancer research. Like anything else on the internet, I can't claim it as gospel. The truth is, I don't know how much money from October Pink sales of anything goes towards actually finding a cure for breast cancer. I can, however offer my best educated guess that the bigger the name, the bigger the amount of money needed for their existence. Pink letterhead isn't free.

I think we're all aware of breasts and breast cancer by now. Unless we are total d-bags with no souls, we are very supportive too. My question is: what's the next step? I'm a writer, not a scientist or a foundation CEO, so I'm certain I don't have the answer. But I know I'm not going to cure cancer by buying a pink spatula. Neither will you. I challenge you all to spend your well-intentioned money in better ways. If you know someone with breast cancer, offer to spend your pink money helping her out with a bill or something to make her smile. It will mean a lot more than pinning a pink ribbon pin to your jacket.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Halloween Couture

Dear Publisher of Gorgeous Halloween Costume Catalog:

I get it. Really, I do. Your catalog appeared in my mailbox this afternoon, along with two political ads (each from an opposing candidate), The New Yorker, some CostCo coupons, and my Amex bill. Somehow, your crack-pot team of marketers concluded that this household is your target consumer. (I'd say based on my mailbox today, you're probably on to something.) You think we're Yuppie Pseudo-Hipsters with spawn of the same mindset. When your catalog arrived LAST month (pushing it, really), Mini Me was dog-earring the pages with the mermaid costume, the flapper costume, and anything princess-related while she was sipping her kid cappuccino and wearing her horseback riding britches. She was trying to figure out how she could wear four or five costumes for this Halloween, and somewhere, a little marketer's heart grew Grinch-sized (post Christmas morning with the Whoos.)

However, Publisher of Gorgeous Halloween Costume Catalog, let me remind you of one very important factor: MM has a yearly income of about $25, including birthday money.

In short, you are sewing sequins on Lycra in vain.

Like most little girls, MM is obsessed with anything Frozen. We had a Frozen birthday party this spring, complete with "Pin the Carrot on Olaf" game that Larry Potter drew for us. She owns exactly one CD, and it's the Frozen soundtrack. When I read her the Frozen book at night, she corrects my pronunciation of "Hans" "Anna" and "Arendelle." She has told me time and time again that she wants to be Elsa for Halloween. (Not, I'd like to point out, Anna. Anna has red hair like MM. However, as MM retorts back to me, "Uh, Anna ISN'T the Queen.")

So, PoGHCC, when this landed in my mailbox today, I had two choices: either leave it on the kitchen table for MM to discover, or to flip you the bird and then throw it away.

I went for Option B.

You see, PoGHCC, I'm not going to break my little darling's heart, which certainly you are counting on. However, I am also not going to spend more on my daughter's Halloween costume than I do on real clothes.

MY real clothes.

You know what Halloween is like here in Wisconsin? Of course you don't. You're in...wait...West Chester, OHIO? Really? The Midwest? Your headquarters are in the Heartland and you're still perpetuating this illusion that Halloween is a dry, clean, beautiful affair? I'd expect such nonsense from California, but not the Buckeye State!

Obviously, you are in a bubble of altered-reality Ohio, so let me tell you what Halloween is like where I live (a mere 6-7 hours from your closest border). It's wet. Every flipping year, it's either raining, SNOWING, had just rained-or-snowed, or cold as fuck out. It's never a classic fall day. It's always a mess, and the term FUBAR comes to mind. In fact, counting my childhood too, I can probably count on one hand the number of times in 35 years that October 31 didn't involve a wardrobe of at least three layers and an umbrella. (And I grew up in Illinois, even CLOSER to Ohio, so don't even start!)

This was one of those Halloweens:

Yes, that's me. Two years old. My mom made my costume. Clearly, I begged her to make me one of Scarlett O'Hara's bitter spinster sisters. All joking aside, it was beautiful. Just gorgeous. Like something out of your catalog, PoGHCC, and my mom made it. Where is it now? No clue. Was I ever allowed to wear it again? Not on your life. And all Mom spent on this was the 1981 price of thread and fabric, an umbrella, and one hoola hoop for the bottom.

Not, $124, plus more dough for a petticoat.

Now, let's also discuss the fun-factor. Are these beautiful? Of course! No one is claiming otherwise. If I buy this for my daughter, will she have fun with it? I'm going to say no, because it's no fun getting yelled at by your mom every second you're in a get-up that is dry-clean only. That's one facet of the situation. The other is this:

My kids generally have more fun piecing together a Halloween costume than they do wearing it. And they like wearing their creations an awful lot. We have created (and I'm using the "Royal" we, because it's generally just the kids that come up with the costumes) French Dude, Minecraft Creeper, Phillips Screwdriver, Butterfly Fairy, Mime, and this lovely ensemble above--Vampire Princess. (Yes, that's a Snow White costume from a garage sale. Over her regular clothes. And Vampire-esque make-up. We're a deranged, crafty bunch here in the Cheese State.)

And somehow, I just don't see how this is going to look over a Lands End jacket, coupled with Flurry Boots.

Keep on keeping on, PoGHCC, but you're wasting your printing costs on this family. And probably the whole state. I'd concentrate your Yuppie kid efforts in a warmer climate, possibly with parents who have more money than brains.


Mean Jessica

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Best Pictures Ever!

Today is my birthday. It's my most favorite day of the year.

This year, Disgruntled Husband is away in the lap of luxury at a municipal judges meeting, so it's just me and the kiddos.

They insisted we go out for dinner. So, I bravely take them to our local Japanese hibachi restaurant. They had never been.

This was one of the spectacular fires our chef did to wow us:

And this was Hoover's reaction:

Happy birthday to me!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A box full of fleece

I haven't posted the worst news ever, because I hoped somehow it wouldn't happen. I found out in November, with an innocent text message from J-Dub that simply read:

          I might be moving.

I'm not ashamed to admit I cried real tears over the phone. I told her I wouldn't allow it. I told her she would be dead to me. I told her husband was on my shit list.

Then, it turned into a definite thing. Vitamin P got a job in Milwaukee, two hours away, and despite my many pleas, J-Dub insisted that she needed to be with him. But, she assured me, it would take time to sell the house and to find a new one, and it wouldn't be until the end of the school year at least.

We (J-Dub, Crunchy Granola, and I) went to Puerto Vallarta in January. While we were there, her house went on the market. A week later, it sold. I got another text message. It said:

        Sooo signed a purchase agreement and close on our house March 14.

And suddenly, the end of the school year became March 21, the day after my birthday.

Ever since I knew she was moving, I have given her a lot of grief about it. I've told her she was abandoning me. I have said it was nice knowing her. I have said we were holding auditions for New J-Dub for when she left. All of this, of course, is a defense mechanism. Oh, it's totally how I feel, don't get me wrong, but also, I'm going to miss the crap out of her.

"Shut-it DOWN."

It's hard to make friends as an adult. You don't have classes together; there are no after-school activities to bond over, and unless you are frequenting the local bar scene (which, as a mom, gets a little sketchy and questionable), you just don't know who is fun enough to include in your life. J-Dub and I met the way Lucy and Ethel met, when she backed her car into mine in a church parking lot. Hoover was 2, Mini-Me was 7 months old. It was at a MOPS playgroup, and it was the only one either of us ever attended.

Fate, folks, in the form of questionable parking jobs and sub-par mirror-checking.

That was over 6 years ago. We discovered we had a lot in common, such as the ages of our children, and our awful, horrible senses of humor. We discovered we had a lot more uncommon between us, like our culinary aptitude and desire to shuttle kids to activities. She introduced me to Crunchy Granola, who is somehow the middle child peacemaker between the three of us, and now J-Dub is dropping the mike and leaving us forever.

On vacation, after zip-lining through the Mexican jungle. 

I shared all of this with Jen Lancaster (yes, that Jen Lancaster, when we chatted her ear off in the Admiral's Club before our Mexican adventure), and she said, "Come on, it's only 2 hours. So you meet in the middle and go shopping."

She's right, to a point. I realize I'm being a tad dramatic about this, but also, I'm never shopping with J-Dub again for as long as I live. It's also a sentiment shared by her daughter OJ. (OJ and I have an unspoken agreement that when it comes time for her to get married, we're sending J-Dub out for a beer and I will take OJ wedding dress shopping.)

I hear they're new house is awesome and wonderful and grand, and there's even a Mean Jessica room for when I visit. There also happens to be FIVE ovens in the home because it was once owned by a family with a chain of bakeries. In their current house (the one they are leaving in mere hours), the oven still has the plastic wrap on the window and user manuals inside. What she will do with five ovens not to use, I just don't know. Though I have a theory some will be used to house out-of-season fleece.

Crunchy Granola and I are hosting her going away party tonight, and I was in charge of the treats. One phone call to Jamie (former guest blogger and one of my favorite fellow English majors) and the best idea ever for a J-Dub themed party was on it's way to me. They arrived yesterday.

Email me if you'd like contact information for Jamie. She rocks!

This afternoon, I bought two blank Wally World cakes and put my heartfelt sentiments into icing.

I stopped by J-Dub's empty house today, and this is all that's left:

That's coffee, X-rated alcohol, and generic 5-hour energy

It just explains so much.

Love you, J-Dub.

For more J-Dub related posts, go here and here and here and here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Some things just write themselves

For those that don't know Disgruntled Husband (or forgot what he's like), let me say this: he's forgetful. Think Absent-Minded Professor mixed with Mr. Short-Term Memory. At this point it's just par for the course around here.

Which is why when I saw this on Apple.com, I knew it had to be DH's Christmas present.

It's an alarm that links with his iPhone or iPad, that can help him locate something. And in this case, that something is his keys.

When the kids were little and learning to talk, I'd go through the animal noises like this:

Me: What does a cow say?
Kid: Moo!
Me: What does a kitty say?
Kid: Meow!
Me: What does Daddy say?
Kid: Where are my keys!?

I only wish I was kidding.

This was Christmas morning at our house:

DH had the flu, so if you can't hear what he's saying, it's loosely translated as him reading the gift tag on said phone. "To: [DH], From: Lady Gaga." And Larry Potter demonstrates why it's from Lady Gaga.

We sing this song a lot around here. Well, at least this part.

I thought for sure this would be the present to end all presents. I mean, this is the man that lives for a new app on his phone. This is the guy that left his phone on top of his car while getting Which Wich in Madison, finding it through the "Find my iPhone" app, and locating it with precise accuracy on the on-ramp of Highway 12. (He had a friend go get it for him. And it still worked.)

And yet, still it sits in it's original packaging, nearly 7 weeks after Christmas.

In the past 72 hours, DH has had missing his wallet, his debit card, and his car keys. The wallet was missing since I went to Mexico a month ago with J-Dub and Crunchy Granola. But, as he told me this when I came back, the bright side was his debit card wasn't lost because he didn't put it back in his wallet when he should have! ::sigh::

The debit card went missing two weeks later.

At this point, I'm considering signing up DH for either a reality show or a case study.

Friday night, we found the wallet. Hoover gave it DH. It is still unclear where he found it.

Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., DH found his debit card. It was under a towel in the laundry room.

I got a call at work at 4 yesterday. A panicked DH said he can't find his car keys. He just had them, he said. He picked up the boys from their music lessons, closed the garage door, and locked the car with his keys. Then, he shoveled the driveway. Shortly afterwards, he discovered his keys missing.

We searched all night. He was ready to pull the couch apart and rip down the plaster to the studs. I calmly pointed out that when he loses stuff, it's usually out in the open, and please for the Love of God, Do Not Tear This House Apart.

That last part was emphasized.

And, I got him to actually pick up things, instead of just move a pile and freak out that he couldn't find something. Seriously, I have found his keys under a tie, next to the stove, in random pockets. He freaks out the same every time.

Well, I hyper-cleaned to look for them. Nothing. I went outside (at 10 p.m., in pajamas) to look for them. Nothing. This morning, I cleaned out the coat room, and promised the kids whomever found the keys would get $20. (LP scarfed his breakfast down and went outside to look.) Still nothing.

I drove DH to work today. Someone is driving him home.

Why doesn't he just use an extra set of keys?

I'm so glad you asked.

He had one extra set and somehow broke the key. I mean, black-plastic-ripped-off-if-he-tries-to-use-it-it-will-get-stuck-forever-in-the-ignition broken. Only DH.

And so, now we have a 2700 pound paperweight in our garage. That we're making payments on.

Last night, during the frantic search, DH took a break and was attempting to buy designer sunglasses online.

Oh hell no. I put a stop to that.

(I hate that this reads like I'm his mother. I'm not. But come on, ladies, if this was your husband, you'd do the same, yes?)

I wish this story had a happy ending. And it still might. But not yet, I'm afraid.

And the Hipkey? The very device I purchased so that this would never happen again?

In the front hall, mocking me.

Reality TV, here we come.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Younger You Are When You Have Them...

My children like to tell me I'm old. Actually, Larry Potter and Mini Me like to tell me that, Hoover is always quick to defend me, which puts him ahead on the "who gets the extra tenth of a percentage point when my estate is split into 33.3% rations" someday." And though I know that 34 isn't exactly 17 any more, I know that I'm the youngest parent in LP's class, and that's good enough for me.


Tomorrow is the first day of school around here. (All of you who's kids have been in school since August 15, pipe down...I don't want to hear it.) MM is going into 1st grade, which I'm okay with, even though she's the baby. Hoover is in third, and while I can't believe it (he's considered a "big kid" now and will have a younger "buddy" to watch during weekly chapel services...which quite honestly makes the color drain from my face), I'm okay with that too. LP is now a sixth-grader, and herein lies the problem.

I'm certainly not old enough to have a middle schooler

We switched to private school last year, and they go up through sixth grade, even though the local public middle school starts in sixth grade. We had a choice in what to do, and we thought that one more year delaying the muddied waters of adolescence could only work to LP's favor. 

But damn it if it isn't happening anyway. He's joined the middle school band, which had band camp at 8 am for two weeks in August. He recently got contacts.  He's showering more and brushing his hair without being asked. He does his chores, and pretty much anything else I ask of him, without complaining. The other night, he cooked dinner. (It was Hamburger Helper, and if memory serves, that was my first dinner made, too.) This year, he will walk home from school two days a week and stay at home for 90 minutes by himself.

He's certainly growing up, and I while I know this has always been the final outcome in the grand plan of his life, I wasn't aware that so much of it happens at once. 

I'm not ready for this. 

Now, don't get me wrong, he's still a little boy in many respects, and some sides of budding adolescence truly suck...like the mouthiness, the drama, and the fact that he already knows it all and I couldn't possibly be right about anything. He fights with MM like it's his job, and when I tell him I expect him to be five years more mature than his little sister, he just doesn't get it. There are still days where I look back at that 23 year-old new mother and want to warn her. But those days aren't as numerous as they used to be.

I recently had a conversation with my stepsister about kids growing up. Her kids are almost exactly the same amount of years apart as mine, only 9 years older. My little niece, who is the youngest in her family and was the flower girl at my wedding, recently finished her driver's training and is now just waiting to turn 16 so she can get her license. And I gasp. I look to the future when it's MM getting her license, and that's when Disgruntled Husband has to get the smelling salts out for me.

I'm not ready, and doubt I ever will be. Which, ironically enough, is what I thought when I had that first positive pregnancy test. 

LP is my first baby, the practice kid, the child of two very young and stupid (at the time) newlyweds. The last time he grew up and learned so much in a short amount of time was that first year, and that went so fast. I've been so ready for the maturity train to get to the station, I may have overlooked having a plan once it happened. And that train is pulling into the station, even as we speak. 

Middle school happens.