Monday, August 30, 2010

The Final Countdown!

Is it wrong to devote so many blog posts within a month's time to school starting?

In 24 hours, it will be 11 hours until school starts for my boys.

In 48 hours, it will be 10 hours, 30 minutes until I'm alone in the house for the first time in 8 years.

Not that I'm counting or anything.

In thinking about how Mini-Me will be heading to pre-school 2 mornings a week, I've started compiling a list in my head of all the things I'm looking forward to. Can anyone else relate to this? What's on your list?

My list is pretty selfish basic:

-watch programs that aren't cartoons or involve a lesson of any kind. I may even get to watch Regis and Kelly or The View. I haven't watched a full episode of the view since Star Jones was shopping at Lane Bryant.

-Grocery shop by myself. Now, in all fairness, I do this a lot, but now I'll be able to do it without Disgruntled Husband calling me every 15 minutes and having the house be worse than when I left it.

-Drink a cup of coffee. In one sitting. In silence.

-Devote those 3 hours to anything I want. In a row. I do have plans for using this time to working out.

But, in the mindset of list-making, there are also the shameful things I have resolved to do this school year. Shameful because, in all honesty, I should have been doing these things anyway. It's like resolving to convert oxygen into carbon dioxide.

-Get up before my children. Originally, this was going to be "Get up at 6 a.m., go on a walk, come home shower and have breakfast ready before my kids wake up." And then I sobered up. That, my friends, is what's called a pipe dream.

-Shower every day. You think I was the mom of a newborn. Maybe it's one of those things that was once acceptable to get away with, but no longer is, and no one bothered to tell me. Like tight-rolling my jeans or having a Caboodles. Note to self: you are no longer sleep-deprived and breast feeding. Pass the Pantene.

-Be aware of snack day before snack day. Yes, I'm that mom. The mom that gets the calls from school from her kid to remind her of snacks that have to be in by 1 p.m. By the same account, I also resolve to have all permission slips, signed homework, and "family" projects to school when they are supposed to be.

-Not be a bitch. Or, the flipside of this one, to be nice to everyone no matter what. But that just doesn't sound like me to say. The school has a way of getting under my skin in big ways. Important ways as well as just plain snarky-bitchy ways. I have been known to write a few emails, call a few meetings, or (I'm afraid to say it) write a few letters to the editor. I want to do that less, because I'm only on my 2nd kid entering kindergarten and it's going to be a long educational journey if I keep this up all the way through Mini-Me's graduation. (Not to say that there are problems with our school. Just ask my friend A. Her daughter, K,  is hard-of-hearing and is to have special accommodations for her school day. Except the person that notified the teacher of K's stuff was A's husband. Yeah, not cool. The school is racing to cover their asses before a meeting my friend has scheduled for tomorrow. I'm allowed to comment because this situation is really, really irresponsible on the school's part, and well, school hasn't officially started yet so I can be snarky about this.)

-Eat meals, not snacks. I have the nutritional intelligence of a 3 year-old. I'm a good cook and baker, but when it comes to making myself eat a meal versus eating a snack, snacks win every time. I don't think it's because I'm dumb; it's because I'm lazy. Here's the thought process: I need to have lunch. I could make a salad or a sandwich. Or eat some leftovers. But that would dirty another bowl. I hate doing dishes. What's in the freezer? Ooh...Mango Cream dishes involved. That will work.

-Be an adult. This is sad that I have been repeating this as my mantra chat. I have to consciously remind myself that I am not 19 anymore. You think that the three kids and husband and mortgage and ridiculously large conversion van would be a good reminder. But it's not. I also remind DH that he is an adult, too, and he is rarely happy I point this out.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hair. Less of it.

Is it bad when you bring in a picture to your hairdresser, and that picture happens to be one of the NJ Housewives?

Luckily, my stylist didn't know who Caroline Manzo is, so there was no judgement. But my friend Jenny W (forever known here now as JW) does know, printed the picture out for me, and didn't judge me one bit for wanting my hair like hers.

At least to my face.

Her family, I hear, has other opinions. Apparently, on her way out of the house with the picture, she showed it to her husband and kids and explained it was for me. And then asked, "Should I get my hair cut like that?"

Let's just say that there was a unanimous vote and some words I can't print here in good conscious. (Edited to say, my own husband's response was even worse. He wants to be married to the 22 year-old he met. And, he said, he remembered we had a lot more...alone time...back then. I quickly pointed out that back then, I was married to a 25 year-old manboy, and perhaps his 34 year-old self should reassess his position.)

So apparently, in the W fam, it's okay for Mean Jessica (MJ - that's me) to go around looking like a reality show freak, but not their mom.

The cut is cute, in my opinion, I'm just not sure it belongs on me. First of all, please understand that I have naturally thick red hair. The longer it gets, the thinner it becomes, but just as soon as it gets short, it's like perm day at the doggie salon. And I don't have curly hair. It's that thick. I should have remembered this.

This isn't my first venture into short hair. My first short hair-do was as a little kid...I think I was 3. The pictures from that summer look like Ma and Pa had two boys instead of the "bookends" my dad likes to call us. I'm not sure why I was given the same haircut as my 8 month-old brother. My mom may say it's what I wanted. Mini-Me is 3 and there's no way she'd get that hair cut unless there was a parasite involved.

I also had short hair in 3rd grade. I thought it looked cute, but my dad must have had other opinions, as this was the reason why I given permission to get my ears pierced...something that was not going to happen before this haircut.

My hair has gone to varying degrees of length over the years, always hitting one extreme or the other. So when I went in for this haircut, the frayed-paintbrush look slipped my mind.

That thought came back in a hurry.

A few years ago when I ventured into k.d.lang territory, I did my hair how I thought looked good. Until my co-worker and friend Nichole pointed out that I looked like Wolverine. But, she's a nice person and even though she pointed this out (and was completely right), she had me bring a curling iron to work the next day and taught me how to do my hair. I wish I had more of these lessons.

Now, instead of Wolverine, it's a sad mix of Caroline Manzo and Reba. Both cute looks...but not together. (Confession...this is the actual picture of Caroline that I brought into the Kutting Room.)

(Another confession: it was Larry Potter that pointed out I look like Reba. And he didn't mean it as a compliment.)

The desperation has gone so far as me writing to Caroline, asking for help doing her hair. Is that mousse I smell or a restraining order?

And, since she still hasn't responded (it's been a day...come on Mrs. Manzo...), I went to Borders tonight looking for a book on how to do short hair. From my naked, untrained eye, this book does not exist. Or any book on doing hair, for that matter.

(I'm such a geek, I'm trying to research a hairdo.)

I'm asking my dear readers, and I know you're out! Make this work one way or another. Links, instructions, step-by-step pictures....anything! My hair self-esteem depends on it!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stalking Costco

Dear Costco of Madison:

You win. I tried to fight it for so long, tried to just go along with friends and family, and perhaps waited to see if Bubba (my dad) would switch my Sam's membership for yours.

In the end, I had to go it alone and plunk down $50 for my entrance into CostCo, also, the entrance into my adulthood.

Now I have not been a stranger to your warehouse concept. My parents were the first in the neighborhood with a membership to BJs, your warehouse forefather, as they were with Sam's. Mostly what I remember in the house were mass quantities of Diet Coke, but that could be my own faulty memory.

As a young mother, I was given a membership to your competitor. It was great for formula, but once they changed brands, it was not as convenient for me. Also, coming from the safe suburban metropolis of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, I was not comfortable trekking all the way to Madison's version of Compton. Seriously, the WalMart across the parking lot was tagged from one gang; the Sam's was tagged by another. The van and I needed not be in the middle of a parking lot turf war.

So, I gave you my money, and you gave me your store. I feel empowered and loved when I walk through the doors. My membership card says to me, "Yes! You belong somewhere. Here with us!"

Will I ever have a need for 1000 paper plates for $10.99? Will 200 dishwasher tabs hold me until the next payday? I don't know, but I'm willing to find out.

The best part of your store though, dear Costco, is the cheap food on the other end of the check-out. I gave my kids and myself a treat yesterday of fruit smoothies...for under $5 total. Today, on the way home from other activities, we stopped by for dinner. $4.75 later, my kids have a footlong hotdog and a drink. It was such a quiet ride home, I could almost call it a religious experience.

Tomorrow, we are hoping to take that vacation-in-quotations in your area. Guess where we will be dining out.

Oh Costco, I don't think I can quit you. And it's only been 2 days.


Mama Snarky

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Leg Up

On the same 1985 vein, let me tell you what I saw today at the store.

Leggings. For adults. Some made from denim and called (you ready for this?) jeggings.

I think I love that word.

Will I or won't I, that is now the question. Fond memories of leggings...but can I do it again?

On the Pro side: big shirt and tight pants is pretty much how I dress already, unintentionally. Also, the laziness factor is a big thing to consider.

Cons: They're leggings.

I have a lot to think about tonight.

Friday, August 20, 2010

1985 Called...

In this whole back-to-school world I'm living in, there's something that has caught my attention that both horrifies me and excites me.

Has anyone else noticed that all the girls' back-to-school clothing options suddenly resemble what extras in the Like a Virgin video wore?

(Were there even extras? I remember a lion, but that's about it. And that's because of Pop Up Video in the late 90s. I didn't really catch it the first time around...I was 5 when this song came out.)

I swear, it's all tulle, fluorescent pink, red and black plaids, and fingerless gloves. I saw a pair of high tops at the mall today and about screamed. I had to check to see if they were L.A. Gear. (They weren't.)

The 80s are back, and this time, it's out for our children.

My 12 year-old niece informed me that some girls in her class wore some of things we saw in Claire's Boutique two-weeks ago. I'm in awe.

(We saw lots and lots of enamel-like necklaces, "feather" shoulder-dusting earrings, brightly colored sunglasses, and these knee-socks that are fluorescent and look like shoe-laces going up your leg.)

Mini-Me is 3 and her fashion choices are questionable to begin with, so in our recent trip to Costco (which I recently submitted to join the cult of Kirkland...more on this tomorrow), she picked out a few key pieces. I am the adult, I know, and I have authority to veto her picks. Yet I didn't.

Remember those friends (or the myth of these friends) that said they can't ever get onto their kids about fill in the blank. Like, "I could never get on my kids about smoking pot, since I smoked pot as a teenager." Or, "I'd be a hypocrite if I grounded my kid for failing a class." Along those lines (both of which were not me saying, I'd like to put out there for the record.)

(By the way, I think that's a bunch of crap to get all high and mighty on hypocrisy when raising your kids. You learn from mistakes and it's up to you to pass on your wisdom...and how you got the wisdom is not important when telling your kids.)

Anyway...back from that tangent...hypocrisy and I, well, maybe just this once I can use this card. I wore the crap my daughter picked out. I couldn't very well deny her this humbling experience.

So, into the cart went a knit dress - hot pink on top, lime green knit belt in a bow, and black with white polka dots on the bottom - and a tulle skirt so poofy, the only way I could describe it to a friend was "Imagine what Teresa from NJ Housewives dresses her kids in." The tulle is multi-layered and colored, and has spandex on the top with three tulle roses adhered to it.

I even bought leggings to go under it. Is that considered abuse?

The store I bought the leggings at had a wide variety of 80s costuming. Red and black plaids and hounds tooth. Pinks and purples with hints of yellow, these (disco my ass, that's pure Reaganomics). Go to any kids store. You'll see what I mean.

It's like a bad car accident...I feel sorry for the people involved but still want to look. And it's in my house.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to School: Bloody Mary Mondays are Back!

Ten days.

There are 10 days left of summer, at least in the back-to-school realm of thought.


In Beer and Cheese Land, there is an actual law that school isn't to start until September 1 or later because of tourism. Waterslides win out over education, now that's some good teaching. Where I grew up, school generally started around the 26th of August; my step-sister is a teacher in downstate Illinois and their first day was yesterday. Crazy. Like a fox!

And, as I write this blog, I have two kids on the porch (Hoover is with the in-laws) fighting as if to remind me, "Soon, Mommy Dearest, soon."

(Also a great thing about school coming up, it's cool enough to open my windows, which means I can yell at the kids from the couch because though they are outside, they are actually only 5 feet from where I sit.)

There is a list out there of 10 back-to-school misconceptions about moms. It's pretty funny...I may look for a link for you. It made me think of some lists I could make.

The top contenders are: Top 10 things I will throw away when you get on the bus, Top 10 things I won't miss about this summer for a millisecond, Top 10 ways that I will ground you before school starts, and, my personal favorite, Top 10 reasons I will have no sympathy at all when your $3 folder rips the first day because you had to have a Bakugan folder, rather than a 10-cent plain one.

Oh, I'm sorry. Maybe that last one should have been hyphenated.

I'm 10 days away from my summer sobriety token. Okay, well, honestly, I'm only counting daytime hours. On weekdays. When my husband isn't here. Because I will honestly tell you that Minute Maid Limeaid was on sale for a buck this week at Wally World, and that with a little Jose Cuervo is the cheapest margarita I've ever made. And oddly, the best. (Note: I had it Sunday night while Mad Men was on. You watch the show, you owe it to them to get in the spirit of things.)

Just as an example of what I will NOT miss about this summer, here's a cross-section of the past 3 months, just based on what I did today:

- Took Larry Potter and Mini-Me to the orthodontist for an expander for LP. $500 down payment later, one of them (he was to have a top and bottom) won't work because of a wayward adult tooth that came in under his tongue. The doc said he was hoping it would have popped up in the front. Um, if you hoped this, then why did you have us wait 6 months to have this stupid thing installed? I can personally guarantee that this adult tooth was not popping up anywhere in February, even though he lost corresponding baby tooth. And no, there was no refund. And it was at 8:30 in the morning, half-an-hour away.

- Researched a mini-vacation we're all supposed to take next week. I have no idea where we are going, Disgruntled Husband wants to do something since he took the week off of work, but I can't seem to find anything that would be relaxing, entertaining, and in the "free or close to it" category. I suppose we could spend the week being homeless and we could call it a learning vacation, but my hepatitis shots aren't what they'd need to be for that.

- Speaking of the vacation, it was supposed to be a nice week long investment vacation down to the Carolinas to see my extended family and go to the beach. Except back to school night is during this week, and I suppose it would be nice for my kids to know their teacher and classmates before they show up on Sept. 1st. Yes, that's when they find out. No, they won't tell us earlier. (And yes, I was willing to spend the cash on a week long vacation to somewhere fun. I am not willing to spend it on a half-assed vacation-in-quotes to somewhere within a three-hour radius.)

- Yelling at MM for the millionth time to get off the windowsill and that the cords for the roman shades aren't her marionette strings.

-Chasing Clark the kitten and bringing him back inside because he waits at the door for the kids and darts out when they open the door.

- Speaking of THAT, my kids spend about 4 hours a day outside, all in 3 minute increments. Even with the window open now, they still find reasons to come inside and tattle. Or complain. Or go to the bathroom 3 times in a half-an-hour. Or need a snack. Or complain that they don't like their snack and now have to go to the bathroom and hey isn't ICarly on right now?.

- Call the orthodontist back because LP spent the afternoon picking the cement off his teeth and his expander now comes out.

- Play the "I'm not going to store until Friday" game, and make creatively poor things, like buttermilk biscuits for lunch. You like buttermilk biscuits? Come on over for dinner, because I'm pretty sure they'll be making a repeat appearance. Also out of bread and will be forced to make my own in a little bit. It was fun to do all of this when it was a choice. Not so much fun to be Ma Ingalls by necessity.

- Head on over to the school because I don't have the necessary forms for Hoover's kindergarten registration, only to find out he doesn't need them because last year's 4 year-old Kindergarten papers are on file. Oh yeah, and that he needs an eye exam before he can come to kindergarten. That would have been nice to know 80 days ago.
And yes, I did call first. Four times. And then to the district office. Twice. And when the lady there finally answered, she offered to transfer me to the school. It was just easier to go over there.

On a side note, a local Mexican restaurant has a sign out front that says "12-5 weekdays, 2-4-1 margs." As my favorite blog says, "Even Yesser."

Are vodka and tomato juice on the school supply list?
(I know it's tequila in a marg. This is for my personal stash.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Meet the fam

It occurred to me that I may have jumped into nick-naming my family and not explaining who they all are. My bad.

Meet the Leichs family!

Larry Potter: He used to have a strong resemblance to Harry Potter when he was little, probably because he has dark hair and has been wearing glasses since he was 18 months old. He's going into 3rd grade and can argue like a college freshman, minus the alcohol. Depending on how you look at things, he either got all the best or all the worst qualities of me and my husband. His aspirations include going to Space Camp when he's in 6th grade, being on Are you Smarter than a 5th grader, and some day being a senator from Rhode Island - because he says it's the smallest state and therefore, the easiest to campaign in. Also known as LP.

Hoover: Part-kindergartner, part-bottomless food pit. Has his father's metabolism and will probably be able to count his ribs well into adulthood. He is cuddly but sneaky and can fix just about anything with a screwdriver. As detailed in this post, he's definitely his own person. The only one of my kids to look like my mother, he makes the same faces as her and it freaks me out.

Mini-Me: I don't know if it's because she's the baby, she's the only girl, or the only (besides me) with red hair, but she's 36" of total 'tude. Mini-Me is three and think the world revolves around her - which is pretty much my interpretation of myself. Tries to discipline the boys and has been known to cart around our kitten like he's luggage. Also known as MM

Disgruntled Husband: My parenting partner-in-crime for almost 9 years. He's underpaid but over-enthusiastic, in a good way. He can't hang a picture straight, but can draft a will and argue in court. Generally good natured but jokingly angry. Kids can't tell the difference yet. He has a plethora of really funny stories that I can't tell unless I ban him from the blog, which I probably shouldn't do.

Clark and Mo: Our cats. Real names. Mo is the least favorite cat in all of Wisconsin and Clark is our recently acquired kitten. He's named after the main character in the greatest movie ever.

Me, Myself, or I: A former suburban mall queen transplanted into Cheese and Beer country. Closest Target, Mall, or Trader Joe's is an hour away. Once upon a time, I used to be a writer, poet, and journalist. And yet, here I am. I'm not as patient as a mom as I should be, but I've also not developed a drinking problem yet, so I have to get some credit for that.

Annoying Awareness, there needs to be a self-help book

I've had an awakening of sorts, and it was painful.

My mother brought me old home movies converted from VHS to DVD. Last night I started watching them, and I continued this morning. I have come up with the following revelations:
- The 80s had a lot to be desired as far as children's wardrobe
- My brother actually was a cute kid
- I was so annoying, I could have punched myself in the face.

It's this third bullet point that pains me the most.

Of all the annoying kids I've eve met or given birth to, I was by far the most annoying. Maybe it's the nasal Fran Drescher voice (seriously, Mom and Dad, why didn't you have that looked into? It's not NORMAL!), maybe it's the need to make a horrible face every time the camera was on me, or the CONSTANT need to talk over and upstage whomever else was on camera at the time. I give my parents lots of credit for not throwing me across a room.

It would be different if it were just in one video or even a scene of a video. No, it's a constant theme, and the older I get in the home movies, the worse it is. FYI, the years between 1988 and 1991 were especially offensive and these movies should be buried with a septic system.

Because I swore to my mother on my ever-dwindling inheritance that I would not post any of these, I won't. You're just going to have to take my word for it.

For example, there's a scene with my cousins when they were visiting for Thanksgiving. I was an early reader, and I decided to read everyone a bedtime story. For some reason, maybe it was the novelty of having a new state-of-the-art 20lb video camera, this was filmed. It was me in a chair reading to my minions - er, brother and cousins, and them all listening intently on the floor around me. At one point, the camera dares to get off of me and focuses on a cousin. I stop the story and say, "Um, don't you want to film ME reading?" OMG. Throw that girl out a window.

But, there's a more disturbing phenomenon I'm realizing. For as absolutely throat-slitting annoying as I am, there is another person that could give me a run for my money. My eldest son, Larry Potter. He drives me up a wall and unfortunately, I am not as patient as my parents were with me on this issue.

It's terrible of me to say, but LP has been at my in-laws this week and it's been...refreshing. I'm a bad, bad mommy.

I've hear it said that the people that tick you off the most do so because they have the same personality traits you do. Well, sign us up for a paid study, because I just proved the apple doesn't fall far from the very annoying tree.

::Sigh:: I hate it when I prove my dad right.

So, what can I do about it? Well, for starters, I can be as caring and patient as my parents were to me, as evidenced in these movies. Either they really could see the picture of things or they were hitting the ganja when the camera wasn't on them, because they took it all really, really well.

My money's on Mary Jane. ;)

[Note: One other realization was that I've had the same hairstyle since 2nd grade, the only things that vary were the length and the presence of bangs. I am in SERIOUS need of a new hairstyle or need a class to show me how to style my hair as an adult. Long hair's cool and all, but I can't exactly get away with a french braid at 31. Help?]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Adventures in Poison Control -or- My middle child

As I mentioned in my last post, Hoover's birthday is tomorrow. Five years ago right now, I was hooked up to some pitocin and watching TV. (Don't get the idea that he was the easiest child to have. More on that later.)

On this, the eve of Hooverness, I recall the fun and, at least, interesting details on his special day.

(Don't start skimming this post. There will be no grossity gross terms listed. Alluded to maybe, but not said directly.)

My water broke a month early, and my first thought was "[Jersey Shore fist pump] Yes! I won't be pregnant anymore!"

A long labor - 24 hours - and an emergency c-section later, Hoover entered the world. I saw his leg hanging off the scale before some very weird things started happening to me. And then I was out - for two hours. Disgruntled Husband says he left with the baby and saw three more surgeons rush in. Yeah, it was great.

When I woke up, I was still on the OR table. My wonderful doctor was one of the faces I saw still working on me, and I frazzled him so bad, I think he told me to stop asking so many questions.

At this point, I hadn't seen Hoover at all, minus that leg over the scale. When I got back to my room, I was visit by some MD jerk-off I nicknamed Dr. Golf Shirt. Seriously, I think I interrupted his shot at the Country Club championship or something. [Note: Three years later, Dr. Golf Shirt shows up after my daughter is born because he saw the name on the door. Turns out he and my husband went to college together. Why didn't he notice the name on the door with Hoover? Because he too busy calculating his handicap on the way in.]

Dr. Golf Shirt informs me that we need to give Hoover a name. I hadn't seen him yet. I say this. Dr. Golf Shirt insists we give him a name. Right. Then. I may have told him to stuff it, I don't remember. Then, he tells us that the yet-to-be-named Hoover has a heart murmur and probably has to go to a special hospital - an hour away.

Of course, I was hysterical. Five minutes later, a nurse brings in Hoover with an IV in his tiny little arm. No transport for him. Suck it, Dr. Golf Shirt.

[To this day, my doc shakes his head and says he doesn't know what the F this guy was talking about. No murmur.]

So, that's where I'm going to end my little birth story, but let me just throw a few Hoover statistics your way:
- He was the only one of my children to GAIN weight at the hospital
- He was the most expensive birth of the three kids. Topping off at about $40,000.
- He was my smallest baby (7lbs., 4 oz.), but will be the biggest when he's fully grown.

Looking back, I think "Only Hoover." I should have known by his birth that he would definitely be the kink in the system. He's my most physical, but my most snuggly, and definitely the hungriest. He gets hurt all the time and screams like he's on fire. Every time I've been at the ER with a kid, it's been him.

Which brings me to the title. On facebook tonight, I posted a question of "What happened 3 years ago today?"

It was our first call to Poison Control. The day before his 2nd birthday, he squirted Lysol Kitchen Cleaner in his eyes. We couldn't get to him fast enough.

And yes, that said first call. There have been more. Let's just say that once he started climbing, there wasn't a cabinet high enough or a lock hard enough.

And, he learned to work a screwdriver before he was 2. ::Sigh:: I can't even tell you about all the battery-operated toys that are now backless. And he also took apart his doorknob. I take away the screwdrivers every time, but he must go on a screwdriver safari when I fold laundry.

His nickname is Hoover because he can suck food up like a vacuum. The call from a friend who was watching him while we were dealing with Larry Potter's surgery was priceless. She also has a son the same age and they were just over a year and she was feeding them baby food. "He just keeps going. What do I do?!" She asked excitedly. Apparently Hoover ate his little buddy under the table.

That's my boy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Holiday Disorentiation

I had to go to Walmart tonight to buy a birthday present and supplies for Hoover. He'll be 5 on Thursday and is having a small little party. Since it's August, we're having a water party. Except Walmart is out of water guns. And water balloons. And just about everything else summer-related. And in it's place...

(Anyone...anyone want to harbor a guess?)


Okay, well, maybe not like the lights and fake snow and crap, but remember, I was in the toy department. They were starting to neatly stack rows and rows of Legos where the summer toys were. That means that is a seasonal row. And what's the season of Legos? Here comes Santa Claus...

(I know this because last year I was indoctinated into the Lego cult that sweeps the nation every Christmas. Larry Potter started on Legos, and those suckers aren't cheap.)

A second offense at the check out - and I'm not counting the 20 check-out lanes with only 3 open. The next lane over from me was a magazine. A "Betty Crocker Thanksgiving" magazine. To quote one of my favorite blogs, I about lost my Schmidt.

If I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt, I should NOT be seeing ANYTHING referencing a national holiday more than three months away. I just tried to google it to see if I could provide a picture for you all, and though I didn't find a picture, I found a quote on the Betty Crocker website.

"Serving up a big family dinner is a lot easier if you shop early for items that can be bought ahead, such as canned pumpkin and cranberries," says Jennifer, Assistant Manager of Food Content Strategy.

I'm pretty sure this isn't what Jennifer was talking about.

I am so not ready for this. I'm already considering taking out a small loan for school supplies and clothes, so why bombard me with thoughts of more expensive (and stressful) things to come?

If Wally world (or, as my friend's husband refers to it - Wally Martinez) is all about getting ready for the holiday rush 3-4 months ahead of time, I propose equal treatment for ALL holidays. Imagine, if you will:

-Valentine's Day decor starting the 1st week of November
-Easter Candy during December
-4th of July items around the 3rd of March

There's a poem by Shel Silverstein that I loved as a kid. I don't remember it exactly, but it ends with "No one loves a Christmas Tree on March the twenty-fifth."

We're not too far from that. It's August folks. Give it a decade. I contend it will be Christmas starting the first day of Spring in Walmart. I remember it was a monstrosity when I was a kid to have Christmas stuff at the stores before Halloween.

Speaking of which, those costumes should be coming out soon...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why I love Aldi's

Aldi's and I are like good acquaintances. I don't shop there often, but when I do, I'm always pleasantly surprised.

Growing up, I never set foot in an Aldi's. I grew up suburban and maybe even somewhat snooty, definitely priveledged. I'm not even sure where there is an Aldi's near where I grew up. It was like an over-priced grocery monopoly.

Where I attended college there was an Aldi's down the street. My friend Dan C. introduced us. I was appalled he had to put a quarter in to get a cart and was instantly turned off.

Fast forward about 13 years. The quarter no longer bothers me. I shop there maybe once every month or two, usually when I'm - ahem - creatively financing my weekly food budget. Am I too proud to say I heart Aldi's? Not anymore!

Reasons why I love Aldi's

1.) Generic Frosted Mini-Wheats
I'm a Frosted Mini-Wheats girl. There's no other breakfast that can satisfy me and my sweet tooth, and my need for fiberous nutrition. When funds are running low, I have a choice - real or generic? I have no problem buying generic, but there are a few exceptions. Have you ever bought generic Frosted Mini Wheats? It's like a crappy Life Cereal with a pathetic frosting to it. REALLY BAD. But Aldi's, you have nailed the generic mini wheat prize. It actually looks, feels, and tastes like the original. I tip my cereal bowl to you.

2.) Gorgonzola Crackers

I don't know if these are a new item or an Aldi's disappearing deal, or just something I've missed all my life. They are the things addictive behaviors are based on. I can honestly say I've never had a gorgonzola-flavored anything before (besides the cheese itself) but now that I have, there is no going back. It's the one thing I bought that my ENTIRE family liked. Liked. Notice the past-tense? The box was gone within 24 hours. Which means that I better get my gorgonzola addicted arse back to Aldi's to buy more.

3.) Something something in German

Ich liebe dich, Aldi's. That's about all the German I know - well, that's fit for print anyway. Aldi's is a German company, so sometimes you get special things there that you can't get many other places. Things like Ritter Sport. Ritter Sport is German chocolate and there is no going back. Not because of the quality of chocolate (though it is good), but for what they put in it. I bought an 8-square sample pack on Sunday, which had a square or two of the coolest chocolate ever. Those crazy Krauts put CORNFLAKES in the chocolate. Sounds gross, right? Uh uh. It was awesome. Just like the yogurt chocolate and the marzipan chocolate. All for $2. I'd like to see Wally world even try.

4.) Trader Joes

The company that owns Aldi's started Trader Joes. That's like finding out that your ultra cool boyfriend can also cook and loves to clean the house. It's a bonus worth marrying over.

5.) $54.08

That's how much a week worth of groceries for my family of 5 cost this week, including snacks and drinks. I've never been disappointed in their food, even if it isn't the brands I'm used to. In fact, my husband once told me that the fish sticks from Aldi's (before he knew it was from there) were the best I've ever bought.

I know the stigma associated with this store. It's pretty much unfounded. It's cheap and the food is good. That sounds pretty basic, doesn't it?

For those that may not shop there regularly, I challenge you to check one out. Oh, and for the mom's out there, there's a resounding 6th reason I love Aldi's...


Go and pretend that you're at Costco. :)