Thursday, March 31, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week

This is the time of year that teachers look forward to, and parents sweat profusely: Spring Break.

My kids have had this whole week off, and aside from Monday through Tuesday at noon, they have been with me every single moment. I think the school celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week in May, but I think it's secretly this week, because boy do I miss and appreciate the teachers that take teach my kids each day.

Spring Break is just a warning. An eight week warning that I am not prepared to have them all summer long. Here's our week so far.

Day 1 of Spring Break: The kids are at my mom's house because I'm too sick to care for them adequately. I think that's why she took them. It's either to give me a break or to pump them for information. I have a feeling it's both reasons.

Day 2 of Spring Break: Kids come home at noon, beg for lunch. I give them PB&Js with milk and oranges. Anthony Bordain shows up in the form of Larry Potter, critiquing my choice of lunch. Two kids eat their sandwiches, but yet the first time I'm in the bathroom in the afternoon, a box of Little Debbie snacks and two boxes of Girl Scout cookies disappear. And that's at 12:30 p.m. By the time Disgruntled Husband comes home, they've eaten through $50 of groceries.

After we eat this, we're going to have a death match in the living room and then hold up a convenience store for their Hostess treats. Happy Spring Break, Mom.

Day 3 of Spring Break: Mini Me comes to me with pieces of a teddy bear, telling me that LP ripped it up. I have him bring me the rest, and he comes with a mixing bowl of fabric, stuffing, and assorted Care Bear parts, as well as a pair of manicure scissors. I ask MM what his punishment should be. "Give him away. Let him be with God in Heaven." Great, now I have to worry about at least two of my kids ending up serial murderers. She settles for letting LP clean her room. He trips and does a faceplant on the wood floors and ends up at the doctors because the scratch he got becomes red, warm, and swollen. Three kids at the doctor's office, and I swing by Value Liquor on my way home from getting the antibiotic.

Day 4 of Spring Break: It's only noon and my house looks like a before shot from Hoarders, even though I just cleaned it Tuesday morning. While writing the blog, LP comes down and informs me that there's water all over the floor of the bathroom. Cleaned that up, threatened children, and found out that Hoover poured water on the bathmat because he was bored. Looking forward to informing Tom Colicchio that PB&J is again on the menu. No oranges because they've eaten all of those. I did hear mention that Hoover tried to eat a cup full of sprinkles this morning, but he must have cleaned it up himself. Surprisingly, I'm okay with that one.

Day 5 of Spring Break: Hasn't happened yet, but I know it's going to involve watching my friend's son and a birthday "party" for our cat Clark, as it's his 1st birthday. No, I'm not *that* person, but I'm running out of things to do with my kids, and figure that's a good distraction. For us all. Clark likes Chardonnay, after all.

Mrs. G., Mrs. C., and Mrs. M., I miss you all. I can't wait to send my kids to you next week.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Aspiring to be a Nielsen Family

I had a very weird experience this past weekend. I got to spend a Saturday all in bed. By myself. With a roll of toilet paper (out of kleenex), a bag of cough drops, two sleepy yet useless cats, and a remote control.

And it was with that remote control which, in and out of napping, showed me the ugly truth about the women aged 25-49 demographic of programming.

They think we're all a bunch of idiots.

Oh, the programming is never good on a Saturday, and admittedly, the only times I get to watch TV on a Saturday is while folding laundry or waiting out a grounding time-period. But laying there, taking it all in at once, I felt dumber. And a little confused.

1.) TLC is no longer educational
Does anyone else remember when TLC stood for "The Learning Channel?" Their only reality series was "A Wedding Story" that was only on once a day at 3:30 p.m. The rest of the time was children's actual learning programming and old ladies teaching us how to crochet and do flower arrangements.

Saturday, while watching TLC, the only thing I learned was from What Not to Wear, and those will only apply when my Brazilian tapeworm starts doing its job. The rest of the programming was a bunch of crap.

Here's my impression of Cake Boss: Oh no! Some big shot wants a huge cake. It's going to be huge. Who screwed it up? Oh no, it might not fit. Ayyyy. I'm so worried. Oh good. It all worked out. What a relief.

Yeah, I learned a lot there. In fact, any of the cooking/baking shows on that channel should all put their heads in the oven and seal off the kitchen.

And anyone on the Say Yes to the Dress or the 4 Weddings Shows that's reading this, I'd like a follow up show documenting how many of the people featured were divorced in the following 18 months. In fact, a classmate of mine does the camera work for many of TLC's shows, and I was thinking of pitching that idea to him to pass along. I'd definitely tune in for that one, and I bet it would be a lot more informational than the other shows.

For the love of God, just turn off the television.

2.) E!
Otherwise known as "You have to be on E! to enjoy this." With the exception of Talk Soup, it's all reruns, gossip, and Ryan Secreast's tiny little suits running around. Though I do enjoy the constant loop of "Knocked Up" every few hours.

But it's E! and no one really expects a lot from it. But even so, during the Sex and the City marathon, they replayed the same 4 episodes over and over again. I understand that most people don't watch E! for more than 2 hours straight, but could you not insult me if I happen to do so?

3.) The Fat Channel 
(I think it's called the Style Network, which seems so mean and ironic when considering their programming.)

Now don't get me wrong, I love me a little weight loss motivation. But Style Network, you have discovered a huge gap in programming, coupled with a nationwide obesity epidemic. So, congratulations for making money while exploiting the cream-filled masses.

Between Ruby and Heavy and Too Fat for 15, I can't look away. I also change the channel everytime I watch and start wondering if Larry Potter is in the right BMI for his height and if MiniMe has the right attitude about food. It's making me consider anorexia, much like the response people have to watching Hoarders.

4.) Infomercials

Did you know there's a bra on the market that can fit anyone, despite their band and cup size? Did you know it's ugly as hell and makes a threadbare sportsbra from Goodwill look like the most supportive bra you own? Can we talk about the condition that's sweeping the nation that makes people not know how to use a colander for draining pasta, nor how to use potholders?

Billy Mays, I miss you. I'd take an OxyClean commercial any day over this crap.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A PSA for the Y-chromisomed

You're wife/girlfriend/baby-mama/roommate/partner cleaned the living room -and most of the house- before she left town for 4 days. You also leave town, but for 3. Everyone gets home, is sick, and the adult double X chromisomed in the house takes care of everyone, nurses them back to health, and then gets sick herself. On the way upstairs to rest, she asks you if you can either clean the kitchen or the living room, in case her mother may come the next day. You say "Sure, I'll do the living room. Before I come to bed it will be clean." But the woman/partner in your life also hears mention of a Badger game. You crawl into bed at 1:30 a.m.

The next morning, if this is what everyone awakens to, you obviously should not have a.) Said you'd clean something B.) Put an exact time frame on it and C.) Gone to bed.

(*Note: These pictures are actual picture from my living room, 30 minutes ago. And this is pretty much what it looked like when a certain Husband said he'd clean the living room last night. So much for my worth in the family. **Double Note: If you want me to get better and clean up the rest of the house, a good place to start would be cleaning this room so I can actually GET BETTER and not worry about it. Douche.)

This is not clean, and you know it. Even Clark (the kitty, above) knows it. He told me if he had opposable thumbs, he would have pitched in.

Your wife/girlfriend/baby-mama/roommate/partner will not be happy and may take her displeasure out in withholding things in the bedroom.

The more you know.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wisconsin Ink

Back in the fall, Disgruntled Husband won a poker tournament. DH wins lots of poker tournaments, but this one was an advertised one in the local paper, complete with trophy and "prize" package. His picture was in the paper and he came home with his trophy and a manila envelope full of loot.

Now, I don't know what I was expecting as far as the first place prize. Maybe I was expecting cash. Maybe I was expecting something like a weekend at a resort with an indoor waterpark (there are lots of those prize packages around here). Maybe I should have kept in mind this was a poker tournament, where only the creme de la creme of the community participates.

Here's a run down of the prize package:
(some of this was actually awesome and useful)
- $50 to the local bowling alley (DH used for a month's worth of chili lunches)
-$25 to the local laundry/dry cleaning service (DH used to clean the above-mentioned chili off his suit)
- $15 to a local bar (For drinks only. DH used one night while playing poker.)
- $25 to the local antique mall (this expired before I could use it. Bummer.)
-2 one-night stays at the local Ramada in a whirlpool suite, Monday - Thursday only (Haven't used yet.)
and the capstone to this marvelous prize package:
-$100 to the local tattoo parlor, which expires on April 1st.

My problem is this last item. DH is an attorney. And I know some attorneys have tattoos, but DH isn't one of them. And thanks to a fear of needles and a case of mitral valve prolapse - which means he has to take penicillin before any dental work or other things that causes one to bleed - he will never get a tattoo.

That's fine with me. Oh, I have nothing wrong with tattoos. Heck, I have a tattoo. But DH is 145 pounds sopping wet, pale, and a little squeamish. If he ever were to try to get a tattoo, I'm sure there's be an ambulance involved.

So, there's the gift certificate. And it expires in about a week. And because I'm cheap, I want someone to use it. I offered it my brother, and he can't get up here in time. I've offered it to my local beautician's son, through her, and she told me not to go near her son with promises of a tattoo.

Gum, candy, magazines, tramp-stamp...oh, I've been good. I'll take the tramp-stamp.

I put it on Facebook last night, in hopes of maybe selling it for less-than face value. So far, I have two responses from my friend AM talking about how horrible Craigslist is and grammar, and one from my friend N asking why I don't take it for myself.

I thought about using it myself, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to use it because I wanted a new tattoo or because I didn't want it to go to waste. I was more the latter than the former, and try as I may, I just can't justify a tattoo as an impulse item.

(In my head, I'm imagining a mom with her kids at the grocery store, standing in line. "Hmmm. Should I get the Mentos or the permanent tattoo today? Oh what the hell, put the butterfly on the ankle in the cart.")

I would like to sell the tattoo gift certificate. There's nothing on there that says I can't. It's not like I expect full face value for the thing. I just feel like the $75 I'd get from it would go further in my gas tank than on my shoulder blade.

But I can't find any buyers. And honestly, I'm a little scared of the people that would respond on Craigslist. (Again, I have a tattoo, but come on, even if you have a tattoo, everyone knows someone sketchy that also has tattoos.)

I thought about asking DH if he'd put the offer on his pre-screening questionnaire for his clients, but that would probably be in bad taste.

Quite honestly, I'd love to sell it to someone I know. But not too many people in the small-town Mom Circle is looking to get inked, and intricately at that. ($100 at a tattoo parlor has to go a bit further than my own 1" seahorse on my foot, right?)

I'm now faced with the real possibility of no one buying or even just taking my gift certificate. This pains me. So now I'm revisiting the idea of maybe getting another tattoo. But what would I get? And where? There are only so many parts on me that would make for a smooth, unjiggly canvas.

On behalf of the tattoo artist that would have to work on such a place, I beg of you. Someone, come to Wisconsin and take this off my hands!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My favorite holiday

With all the illness going on in my house, I neglected to tell you one little thing about yesterday's post.

That all happened on my birthday.

I traveled for 11.5 hours and came home to a sick family, on my birthday. I want a do-over.

I'm the person that thinks her birthday is the best day of the entire year, not just in my childhood, but well-into adulthood. I don't care if it means I'm getting older. I don't care if it's childish and immature to want candles on every meal served on my birthday, it's how I roll. But I just couldn't bring myself to tell the Chili's Too server at the Detroit airport that it was my birthday, especially since I was dining alone.

I did try, however, to get upgraded to first class by using the birthday excuse. It didn't work, and I'm pretty sure I was pitied and talked about later.

I know I went to Boston for my birthday weekend and it was fun to do so, but I'm never travelling on my birthday ever again, unless it's to get on a cruise. I missed out this year.

In fact, the only one of my family to even care it was my birthday was Hoover. When we got home, he wanted to snuggle, and as we were doing that, I told him my birthday kinda stunk. He sat up with his Frankenstein-esque stitches and said, "I'll bake you cake, Mommy." I told him it wasn't necessary, but only because he's 5 and was feverish.

Sorry Tom, we just couldn't make it work this year.

The next day, in the make-shift hospital ward, I was thrown a Barnes and Noble gift card. Thanks honey and kids and all, but unless it's on March 20 proper, I have a problem counting it as a birthday present.

(Yes, I'm a bitch. Or, one could say, a birthday snob. I like option 2 better.)

When I was a kid, my birthday was the biggest deal ever. We opened presents in the morning at the kitchen table and had cake instead of cereal. There was usually a birthday party on the nearest Saturday, and lots of phone calls and cards. My birthday, I would say, was better than even Christmas because I was the only one to get presents.

(That, and my brother's birthday is 4 days before Christmas and he came home on Christmas, and the whole frickin' week was generally plagued with presents for him by people who knew his birthday was before Christmas and didn't want to do the whole "one present for both" deal. Where were these people in March?)

I know that as a grown-up and a mom, I should probably relax my birthday standards a bit. Just like I know candy is bad for me, but I eat it anyway. Logically, I can understand this, but the theory in practice is where I have trouble. And I just don't see it getting any better.

I guess I'll just go cry into my cake....oh that's right, there was none.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

While Mom's away...

I got in my house about 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night, after logging about 11.5 hours of travel time. Disgruntled Husband and the kids met me in a hotel parking lot on their way home from Iowa. We drove home all together.

That's the Hollywood ending...lots of togetherness and vague details.

To understand what my ride home was like, we must back track to the night before, about 5:30 p.m. That's when I received the call.

"Do you want the good news or the bad news first?" DH asked me.

That's when I heard words and phrases like 24 stitches, playground, blood, ambulance, and even rent-a-cop.

Hoover fell off some playground equipment and had to have stitches to get stitches.

(And this is where I point out that I was 1200 miles away and as much as I reveled in getting away from all things Mom-related, it pretty much killed me to be so far away from my son who was hurt. )

The only stitches I've ever had are from childbirth, so I can't really relate to any of this. We were more bone-breakers in my family, whereas in DH's family they did a lot with flesh wounds and surgeries.

Oh, but there's more.

Two things go through my mind: 1.) It looks my five year-old had a facelift and 2.) Chicks dig scars.

About 5 hours after they returned home from Adventures in Blood Loss, Larry Potter came down with a high fever. Twelve hours after that, Hoover did.

LP was diagnoses with the flu and bronchitis. Which means that Hoover also had the flu. Not the stomach flu, which isn't really a flu, but the FLU flu, the kind of things you get shots for and is the coughy-achy-spreads like wildfire kind of thing.

Right before my friend dropped me off to meet the fam (Note: I have awesome friends that are willing to drive me from the airport to my family, in the rain, and an hour away), LP puked in his Happy Meal box, the box bottom dropped out, and got all over him.

When I got into the car, I felt like I needed a mask.

In the backseat sleeping were three children; LP and Mini Me were about an inch apart, facing each other and sharing the same airspace. Guess who had a fever by the time we got home?

Yesterday, all three kids were home with fevers. LP is the worst, with the bronchitis.

Welcome home, Mommy, indeed.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Childless friends

I haven't forgotten about the blog at all, I've just been running around the streets of Milwaukee and Boston.

I'm hoping today's itinerary includes a pedicure, and maybe inheriting some money from a long-lost New
England socialite. Pretty sure only one of those things is going to happen, but a girl can dream.

My night in Milwaukee was first spent with an old friend and her 11 month-old son, hitting the mall. Then, my friend M picked me up and we had dinner and pajama pants and American Idol time at her house.

I should have taken a picture of her fridge. She is newly married with no kids and a taste for healthy eating. Her fridge mostly consisted of cut fruit and alcohol. I'm told the fruit was to eat, not as garnish for the alcohol.

And here I am at the 2nd childless friend's house. In her fridge was the smallest jug of milk I've ever seen, wine, and so outdated yogurt.

Moms of America, I beg of you, do a fridge-intervention for your childless friends! They aren't getting the nutrition they need. An invitation to a childless home is BYOG...Bring Your Own Groceries.

I checked in with Disgruntled Husband and the kids, and they all seem to be doing fine in my absence. DH's secretary informed me that Mini Me refused to let DH brush her hair. And Hoover had a meltdown while playing bingo at a friend's house, with Larry Potter egging him on and watching to see if he'd be punished.

But I don't have to deal with that until Monday.

Thank God.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The closest I'll ever get to Harvard

Pahk the cah in the Hahvahd yahd.

Love me some Dunkers.

Where's the congressman that posed in Cosmo?

What do all of those stereotypes have in common?

Boston. Bean town. The REAL tea party. Paul Revere and John F. Kennedy.

And me.

That's right, for a few days, I will be feasting on lobster, shopping on Newberry Street and forgetting the letter "R" ever existed.

And what of the husband and children, you ask?

They're not going.

Oh, Disgruntled Husband is definitely hot and cold about this one. One the one hand (the one looking for a little pre-trip hanky panky), he says I should go and have a good time, because I deserve a break. But on the other hand, he's pouty and bemoaning that he doesn't get a break and what is he going to do with the kids all weekend.

It's not like I'm breaking the bank. I was given a one-way ticket free, if I booked by February 28th and made my trip by March 20th. So essentially, if I wanted to accept the gift, I had to take a vacation. He's lucky I decided to buy the ticket home.

(Just kidding dear. Last night, I made a joke about something on DH's Facebook page, and he sulked up-stairs telling me I never say anything nice about him on Facebook. And he may or may not have told me to suck it. After I may or may not have told him to buy some Midol for himself. We're a loving couple.)

(So honey, I love you and you are good provider and a good dad and you do a lot for us as a family. There. Nice things said. But I'm still going.)

This is Newberry St. No cheese shops or Badger-related items anywhere to be found.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about my trip in later posts, but for now I'm more focused on the three-part list of things to do before I go. Things like "clean hallway," "ask Jane (the friend I'm visiting) if she has the right kind of mousse," and "notify the school that the boys are going to a friend's house after school." You know, the mom things.

I am a little worried because while I'm gone, DH has to sign up Mini Me for 4K. Not that I think he's incapable at all; I'm just that much of a control freak. I may have questions, questions I won't know I have until I'm there. This is a good exercise in delegation for me.

This will be my third trip to Boston. Jane rides the T (their train/subway system) everyday, for everything. She doesn't own a car. I'll be taking the T from the airport to her office. The first time I did this, I wound up on a line of the T Jane had never heard of, and then in a bad part of town. I'm much better now, but like most things in my life, it's because I learned through trial and error.

I don't want to learn while I'm on vacation, so there will be no historical tours or museums on this trip. I may dump my Starbucks into the harbor, but that's as close as I'll get to learning more about our colonial ancestors. (Note: It's a bad personal theory I have to not learn on vacation. I'm sure it will change if we ever happen to take a family vacation to somewhere that isn't Disney. History of Mickey Mouse probably isn't too educational.)

So, on my agenda out to Bean town is sleeping in (on Jane's Temperpedic, no less), going to get a pedicure, shopping on Newberry Street, eating awesome baked goods from the North End, having a lobster, and just general girl time.

But first I have to make it through the next 2 days. Because I'm convinced I need to really appreciate the rest by exhausting myself on Tide and karate lessons.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My kids are too old for the nursery, and so we must all suffer

Yesterday, the fam and I came out of our Divine Hibernation. That is, after missing an entire winter's worth of church services, we dusted ourselves off and re-emerged as the picture perfect family of Presbyterians that we are.

(Well, we go to a Presbyterian church. Disgruntled Husband and I both went to Lutheran colleges. He's an actual Lutheran. I'm a "everyone loves everyone" non-denominational Christian. My dad's family was Jewish before my grandfather; my mom was raised Southern Baptist. When I tell you church was confusing as a child, please believe me.)

And after the service was over, four different people came up to me and told me how entertaining my children are.


I don't aspire to be the mother of church-entertaining children. In fact, I'd love it if they'd sit quietly listening to the sermon. Hell, Heck, I'd settle if they just sit quietly and colored.

In the past, we've made full use of the church nursery. For a few years, it was nice just having DH next to me. Sometime Mini Me would be with us, but when she was a baby, she got passed around the pews like the offering plate. (Come on, tell me you can resist a red-headed baby.)

Once, when Larry Potter was 3 and Hoover was a baby, we went to our church's annual Christmas Cantata...which is basically a night of music. They had just added a bell choir and this was their first big performance. With LP on my lap, we watched as Carla, our church secretary and music-knower extraordinaire, summoned the bell choir to the stage, got them ready, and then with baton in hand, rose her arms as if to say "Okay, let's do it."

Only, she must have had her hands in the air a little too long for LP's liking, because he yelled out, "Just do it already!" Might I also add that the Christmas Cantata is second only to Christmas Eve in terms of packing in the parishioners. My face was red, Carla started laughing, as did the rest of the church, and our family proved once again why we chose a church with a nursery.

Oh shoot, honey. Is that the Snarky Mom's family? I wonder which kid will be doing his comedy hour today.

Two years ago, we visited another church. They called for the children to go up and listen to the story. Against my better judgement, we let Hoover go with LP. Hoover bounced all over the place. The kids were all given a mustard seed, to which Hoover yelled at the top of his lungs, "Can we go outside and PLANT it?!" Through the laughter, the pastor mumbled something about "Faith like a child." I don't know exactly what he said, because I was too busy extracting Hoover from the sanctuary. And no, we haven't been back.

We're taught that Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me." But I'm pretty sure even Jesus would do a little sigh of relief if he saw my kids weren't there for the children's message.

Yesterday, as Hoover was on his way up for the children's message, I told him to behave himself. And for the most part, he did. He raised his hand. He answered the questions correctly. Although at one point, he had his hand up, and our pastor called on him. Hoover said, after a lengthy pause, "That's my mom over there," and pointed. Congregations erupts with laughter. As they were headed back to their seats, Hoover asked Pastor Steve (who was still mic'd) "Do bad guy love each other?" And to his credit, Pastor Steve answered his question without dropping him off in our pew. (Like I would do.)

Unfortunately, that was only a portion of the service. The rest of the time was spent by my kids drawing on paper provided by the lady behind us, trying to draw in the hymnals (I stopped them), fighting over worksheets, laying on the ground, trips to the bathroom, and one angry outburst during a very silent portion of a prayer.


It's not that I don't want to go to church or teach my kids how to behave in church. But does it have to be so humbling when we do go? Pride goeth before the fall, I suppose.

(Pride? What pride? My kids have already told me that the reason we go to church is to eat cake afterwards.)

I have a lot of work to do in this department.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Valancing my life

There's something you all don't know about me. I'm a survivor.

No, not like a cancer or rape survivor - nothing that serious. But what I went through was definitely traumatic and life-changing.

Much of my childhood was spent in the drapery department of J.C. Penneys.

I'm still looking for the support group.

You see, my mom went back to college when my brother and I went to school. She got her Associate's Degree in interior design in the 80s and is artsy and creative and wonderful to have around whenever there's a question of color or fabric or furniture placement.

But there are scars from all of this. Scars that involve words like tie-backs, valances, and sheers. And what time we didn't spend in the drapery department was spent at the catalog department while we picked-up or dropped-off whatever was needed or not working, respectively.

I remember trying to amuse myself by playing in the fake windows with 18 different kinds of drapes on them, all to show you what you could do if you spent enough money if you cared about the way your windows looked. I remember Mom half-heartedly telling me to knock it off as she discussed something like special ordering off-white waffle blinds. And of course, there's the fake bedroom scene, always near the drapery department, always with a dressed up fake window, that I would ultimately try to wait for sweet death try and lay on. And then it all started over again the next day.

(Oh, but don't think her loyalty was just to Penneys. The words "Calico Corners" sends a chill up my spine, too.)

When I bought my house almost 6 years ago, one of Mom's main concerns were about my window treatments. Specifically, how they did not provide enough privacy. And not a year later, with Mom working as a manager of a custom blinds place, I was given blinds and roman shades as a birthday present. I know they were expensive and probably needed. I thanked her (and still thank her..Thanks Mom!), but also tried to explain my special problem with window treatments when she asked why I wasn't more excited about it.

Back! Back I say! I do not want to re-live the pain!

She didn't get it.

Fast forward to last weekend. I've been painting our living room to freshen it up a bit, and with that, decided that I might want some curtains to frame my windows. I bought two $10 Wal-Mart curtains in the appropriate length and width, and even had to special order a rod from Kohl's.

The rod arrived today, and I got the curtains out. Besides being in-the-package wrinkled, there was something else that stood out to me.

You see, what I bought was a window set. A valance and two panels for a single window. I figured I'd buy two and not use the two middle panels. But I didn't read the fine print until today.

They were attached. The panels were sewn into the valance. Times two. ::sigh::

I had to cut one panel each from it's valance jailer and hope I remembered which panel to cut. (I did.)

I put them up, and then tried to attach the ties that came with it. But the ties have no buttons or other ways to fasten. So I improvised.

Yeah, that's a bare screw. In a hole that was already in my wall. From something that held back drapes. And I may have just put it in the hole and turned it with my fingers.

And there's one on the other side of the window, too.

Here's the finished product:

No, it doesn't look like I've taken drapes that's supposed to go on two windows and shoved it onto one. Not at all. Coming in for just under $20, I'd say I definitely got what I paid for. The rod cost more and that's covered up.

And there's a little flap at the top that's supposed to stand up. But mine needs some Viagra or something.

I took a deep breath, because I know what's coming.

"Mom, my windows are 104" total. I'm ready to start healing. Help."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jerk Frost

Dear Winter,

It's over. I thought you knew this by the darkening days turning lighter and the birds starting to come back. But no. You make me be the bitch and break up with you rather than you just buying a clue and slinking away.

You were great at first. Our relationship was built around a magical time of year, full of hot cocoa and evergreen trees and Bing Crosby movies. That first snowstorm, the weekend of December 11th, was awe-inspiring. It wasn't even your true season yet, but you chose to show off. You had me at "White Christmas."

And Christmas happened, then New Years. I guess the decline of our relationship started around Martin Luther King Day. By Groundhog's Day, I was avoiding your calls. Valentine's Day I checked out my old boyfriend Summer on Facebook.

Like most relationships, those little quirks that first attracted me to you are what annoys me the most. Random quick snow showers while I'm inside shopping? It's not cute any more. Icicles hanging from the roof? Woke me up when they all fell at once last week. Snow days? Don't even get me started.

You're a cold-hearted, co-dependant flake. Snow idea what I ever saw in you.
It's like you're a boy going through puberty or a woman in menopause. One day it's spring, the next, -50 out. The snow melts from my driveway? You pile on 9 inches the next day. Why can't you decide what you're doing?

Last night's "gift" is the straw that broke the camel's back. Four inches of the dreaded powder on my lawn. Asshole. Thanks for that. Note: I do not want a ziploc bag full of your toenail clippings and I don't want this either.

Let me be clear.I do not want you back. You are not to come around here any more. Any more snow or ice will be returned to you, C.O.D. My attorney's on standby and if you ignore my wishes, you'll be served a restraining order before you can say "Jack Frost."

My birthday is next week and I expect Spring to show up, so you need to get the hell out of my life.

Up yours,
The Snarky Mom

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Patron Saint of Vans

Over the past two weeks, I've heard it twice. A thumping that rattles the floor boards and makes the not-so-mini-van shake and sputter.

At 264,000 miles, it's probably nearing the end of the Big Green Machine's life, but I refuse to believe it. If my van's going on life support, it's going to be awhile until I'm ready to pull the plug.

I got the van four years ago when I was pregnant with Mini Me. Disgruntled Husband's car had been, um, physically altered by a snow embankment and a creek, leaving us with only one vehicle. My aunt had the van and gave it to us. My mom flew down to Nashville and drove it home for me.

Honestly, we haven't had to put too much work into the van. There was a time, three years ago, when we were stranded in front of the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport on our way to Mall of America. That weekend turned into 3 days of vehicular hell, but we got it fixed and were able to buy groceries that week. (And that's when our yearly gift of a AAA membership from DH's folks started.)

Honestly, it's been slipping for the past year. It falls out of gear while parked, making getting it started again a cardiovascular exercise. My one shoulder is much stronger than the other, all due to forcing the gear shift up and over as far as it will go.

This is the make and model of my van. Mine is much dirtier. It won't fit in the local car wash. Or drive-thru.

And I have to put about 1.5 quarts of oil in it every 2 weeks. That's probably not good. But both times the thumping has happened, it's been the time to put in the oil. Some people call that dying; I call it maintaining. It's like vehicular diabetes. There's no cure, but I know how to deal with it.

But I know her time is coming. I'd like her to hang on until at least the fall when I (hopefully) go back to work because MM (hopefully....state budget cuts and all) will be in 4K.

However, it may be cheaper to just let her go and find a used car in the junkyard. My van has a 33 gallon gas tank. If I ever want to fill it up again, I may need to put down collateral.

On a related note, my step-sister's ex-husband is a mechanic. He used to take care of my car for parts and White Castle. I miss him right about now.

In my prayers at night, I include the not-so-mini-van. If I were Catholic, I'd figure out the Patron Saint of Transportation. This week is a holy week, you know.

Come on Big Green Machine. Let's make it to September.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Middle Child

The problem with having three children is one has to be in the middle. I never understood this to be a problem; after all, I am the eldest of two natural children, number four of five including the steps, so middles were never a big thing for me.

Sure, I had friends that were part of three-children families, but even if my friend was that middle child, I never focused on it too much. (Oh, but I could tell you the tales of my best friend J being the youngest!)

And so, in 2006, shortly after Hoover's 1st birthday when we found out we'd be adding to our two boys about nine months later, I was happy and excited and wondered how the dynamic would shake out.

People started asking me if I were worried about my little blond toddler being the middle child. At that point, I was more worried about being outnumbered by children than their actual birth-order placement. (Note: I've had three kids for almost four years now. It still worries me.)

Two weeks ago, at Hoover's second parent-teacher conference of the year, his teacher and I discussed many of Hoover's, ahem, idiosyncrasies. It started with how he holds his pencil (like he's about to stab someone) and grew into his over-sensitivity and strange questions for the teacher (like "Do you hate me?" randomly in the middle of a story. He asks me questions like this too. Makes me feel great.)

I asked her if it was a middle-child thing. Before I could even offer up my second theory (being the younger brother of Larry Potter, who entered kindergarten a year early and who counts down the days until he's able to participate in the spelling bee next year), she said "Yes. It's definitely a middle-child thing."

Aw crap.

She tells me she is also a middle child and has those same random questions pop in her head, but because she isn't a 5-year-old boy, she doesn't say them aloud.

I thought birth order stuff was a bunch of carp. (Yes. I say carp. Like the fish. It's one of the few fake bad words I have. Why I think to say this instead of crap is awesome and yet have not found an alternative for the other, more offensive words, I don't know.) Like if you are an awesome parent and shower each of your kids with the exact same amount of love and attention, birth order will just be how you're listed on the Christmas Card.

And honestly, until two weeks ago, I held true to my theory.

After the conference, I asked Hoover if he liked being my middle boy. I don't know if I had ever asked him this before.

"No. Because (LP) gets to do everything first. I want to do things first."

Oh Peter, if only your parents loved you enough, you wouldn't be so middle-child-ish.

Mom of the Year, right here. In my head, I said,"Well, son, you are the first to send me to the therapist's couch." I always though those sort of middle-child thoughts were saved for Dr. Phil books or episodes of the Brady Bunch.

But what I don't get is why the middle gets this stigma. What about the families with four kids? Do the 2nd and 3rd take turns with this kind of mental anguish?

I ask because Hoover wasn't going to be the middle child. Oh, it started that way, that day in 2006 with the blue lines and the veiny boobs. And of course, it ended that way in May 2007 when Mini Me entered the world. But for a time in-between, Hoover was to be my 2nd child of four. (Mini Me was a twin. An identical twin. We had a vanishing twin situation early in my pregnancy.) Is it like the Butterfly Effect, where because MM's twin didn't make it, it created a universe where Hoover was destined to have middle-child problems, because he was that true middle child? I just don't know.

So, in the weeks since the conference, I've tried my best to tell him just how awesome I think he is. And I've backed off on the strictness for awhile. I wrote this to his teacher, along with the sentence, "Parenting is a lot of trial-and-error episodes." (What? You didn't think I was strict? Ask LP sometime. I decided to back off on the strictness for Hoover because I realized he is not LP. And LP has a penchant for learning things the hard way.) We'll see if it works.

One thing for certain I feel so lousy about is that Hoover's teacher tells me how academically bright he is. Which is great. And he's heads above the class. Awesome. Except, I never knew any of this until he entered school. LP was always our "smart" one, and I couldn't feel worse about labeling my kids and not realizing Hoover's potential. (Mom Police, take me away.)

He has been scared to go into his room lately. Scared about skeletons. Disgruntled Husband told him the only skeletons in the room were the ones under his and LP's skin. Which didn't help at all. And today, my bright son let me in on what was really going on. LP was on Google and likes to learn things.  Hoover was sitting next to him. LP typed in "skeletons" and Google auto-filled in with "Skeletons in the closet."

Perry Mason solves another one. And yet, I'm not sure how to explain idioms and sayings to a 5 year-old. I tried, and he just kept saying, "So it's a secret skeleton?"

He's currently asleep on my couch.

Lucky for me, he's pretty forgiving. After all, aren't middle-children supposed to be the peace-makers?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's a good day for a baby

My friend ESM (Even Snarkier Mom) had her baby this morning. I took one look at the picture she sent me - her and baby C nuzzled together - and completely lost it. Thankfully, I was alone, because I'm not a pretty crier.

They live about 1,000 miles away, which thanks to technology, doesn't seem so far any more. But still, it's not like I can pop by the hospital for some baby-lovin' on my to pick up Mini Me from pre-school.

ESM and I go back a long 8th grade when her family moved to Chicagoland from Texas. She did quite a bit of babysitting (still waiting to be paid for some jobs!) and even worked at a daycare center. But she said she wasn't sure if she wanted kids.

Fast-forward to our 20s, and while I was on the mommyhood track, she was in a relationship and said she never wanted kids.

And then, our 30s, or the start of them anyway, she married a good guy. I knew he was a good guy when, while engaged, she told me that there would be kids someday. After how many years of saying "no" to a family, she was open to the idea.

This morning, she welcomed her baby girl into the world. "We're in love!" she texted me. Of course she is.

Even right now, as I type this out, I am welling with tears. Happy tears. I'm emotional like that. ESM was a babysitter, a daycare worker, a labor and delivery nurse. She was there when Larry Potter was born and during my labor with Hoover. She's always had the makings of a mom, and now, she is one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's not going to be sugar and spice all the time. No one is like that without heavy medication and a few nannies. Many people said that being a mom is the hardest job in the world. I tend to agree. It's the hardest job in the world, and I'm so happy she applied.

Welcome to the world, Baby C. And welcome to parenthood, ESM. I never thought you'd get here, but so glad that you are.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


A few snarky giblets floating around today. Here's your first installment of Snarklets.

Snarklet #1:

We took the kids out to dinner on Friday. We feel it's our duty to our children to show them what restaurants are, and therefore, every 6 months we are allowed back in we go to one. This time, we met friends D and N there. It's so cute. D and N get to sit next to each other and try each other's meals. Disgruntled Husband and I have to position ourselves as to not have any altercations between the children and I'm pretty sure the only person who shared with DH was Mini Me, and it was some shells and cheese.

During dinner, Hoover would only show N his new shoes. She joked because it was because she was a fashion merchandising major and D was not. Randomly in the middle of the meal, Hoover got up for the sole (ha ha ha) reason of showing D his shoes as well. Meanwhile, N was seated next to Larry Potter and I'm sure was spiking her wine with Tylenol.

While we were waiting for our check, we discussed impossible things. One example given was that it's impossible to lick your elbow. (And now, I'm imagining lots of readers right now trying to lick their own elbows.) Of course, the kids had to all try it, and lo and behold, Hoover can do it! Call David Letterman...we're taking him on the road!

(Seriously, this both amazes and disgusts me. It wasn't just a fluke either; he's done it a few times at home now, by my request.)

My son is going to make us rich while he's on the road as a circus side-show act.

We left Olive Garden and as we were walking out, LP lets out the biggest burp he's ever had...right behind the hostess station. We walk out with a cascade of giggles behind us. That's my boy.

Snarklet #2:

I wish I had Facebook back when my babies were being born. Remember how I said I have 6 friends all due in March? Well, 2 went on Feb. 28, and one is in labor as I type.

I would love to update from the hospital! With pictures and good news and all that crap. One friend had 52 comments about her daughter's birth. I want that!

(And no, I will not be having any more kids. Two's my limit, and I have three. Plus, it would involve surgery again for DH and I'm pretty sure he isn't into that.)

Snarklet #3:

Because of the antibiotics I was on while down with the plague, I have developed some sort of skin-rubbing, heat-induced, baby-stretched-skin infection. It's awesome. (Come on, I can't be the only one that has the baby-induced flapping mid-section skin...or am I?)

So I've been dealing with it for a few days, and last night I sent DH to Walgreens for some alcohol. (Not to drink, to disinfect.) He decided to discuss with the pharmacist. Except he told her it was on my episiotomy scar. Wow. Wrong on SO many levels. And remember, I live in a small town. Can't wait for that piece of gossip to get around.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why I Shop Alone

We got our tax return back the other day, thanks Federal Government.

So besides the various bills that need to be paid, I decided we needed to get a few things we've been putting on hold for awhile. Mini Me and I got in the not-so-mini-van and headed for our local mall.

(Note: I've said it before, but it's worth repeating. Calling where we go a "mall" is like calling Lake Michigan an ocean. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs. I know my malls. And frankly, 40 stores at an outlet center hardly constitutes the word "mall.")

Things on our list: clothes for MM, shoes for all the kids, a new suit for Disgruntled Husband, and maybe something for me.

When I was pregnant with MM and found out she was a girl, I was so enamored with the thought of buying her cute little clothes. After two boys (and let's be honest here, a rack-and-a-half of boy clothes next to the aisles of girl clothes is frustrating), it was going to be nice to pick out something girly and adorable for my daughter to wear.

And it is. If I shop alone.

MM will be 4 in May, yet somehow it's like she's 14. When we hit the first store, all she wanted were shoes there. And the shoes out at the end of February? Flip flops and Wisconsin. (Dear Fashion Industry, I'm not sure what the weather is where you are, but if I see warm-weather clothes in a store with snow on their sidewalks,  you better be giving away a free vacation with every purchase.)

So the shoes were a no. And so was the three swimsuits she wanted in the cart. And the hand-wash only, white cardigan sweater with pearl buttons, that cost more than the entire cost of my shopping trip. Don't get me started on how many dresses she told me she needed.

Why does this happen? Is it nature? Because I may be a female, but I don't shop like that. First of all, I can pretty much count on one hand the times my daughter has been shopping with me when I've been shopping for myself. Apparently, I am without the girly gene, but my daughter is making up for my loss.

Store No.2: More shoes. More adorable, yet short-sleeved and expensive dresses. We leave with nothing, even though MM is begging for pony-tail holders with sparkly ribbon on them.

The only way my daughter will get to shop here is with a ski mask and a gun.

I look across the hall at the Gymboree. Hell to-the NO. I'm lucky that she can't read yet, and also, that she's never been in a Gymboree. It was opened for people with platinum cards, or grandmothers. Yes, their adorable sky blue dress came with knickers, and you could buy the matching shoes, tights, headband and purse. But I chose to make a house payment instead.

(Edited to say: I love Gymboree, don't get me wrong. Cute clothes. Send them to us. Pass them down to us. Having a platinum card is a good thing...I just don't have one. If I ever get a platinum card, it will involve a grocery store frequent shopper card and can of silver spray paint.)

Store No. 3: Stride Rite. Larry Potter and Hoover have been in boots all winter, but both their gym shoes "hurt" now, which means it's time to pay the Piper. Yes, I shoe-shopped for my boys without them being there. If the shoes don't fit, I can take them back and get a different size the next day, again without them. (They all fit.)

So, MM and I have shoes for the boys. And then the whining starts.

"Mommmmmmy I neeeeeed new shooooooes tooooooo."

I give in, because I figure she could probably use a pair too.

FORTY-FIVE minutes later, we were at the check-out.

(This is not an exaggeration. Forty-five minutes waiting on a 3 1/2 year-old to choose a pair of shoes was absolutely ridiculous. I don't take that long for myself. And I have a bunion. I could have just told her no and left, but I still had to buy the boys shoes, and I didn't want to juggle shoe boxes and a screaming girl. Point goes to MM.)

Thankfully, her shoes were on sale. And no, they weren't flip-flops.