Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's a Dirty Shame

Like I said in the previous post, I've been busy. So busy, I had to hire my niece Ducky for 3 days to come watch my kids while I ran errands and negotiated things like business card fonts and EIN numbers.

Generally, when we have a babysitter, I spend a day cleaning up and otherwise hiding the real way my family lives. In this scenario though, not only did I not have time to clean up before Ducky arrived, but we've been living much worse than we normally do, because of summer schedules and job interviews, and The Blaze of Glory.

So, while Disgruntled Husband and the kids went to get Ducky (she lives 2 hours away. Yes, that's how much we needed her), I tried to put out the large fires first. I did the bathrooms. I did the entryway. I did the kitchen, the guest bedroom and three-quarters of the living room.


"Did The Snarky Mom have a baby? Is she moving? No, she's just trying to open a law office this week."

But I have more rooms than that, and unfortunately, with me not being around much this week and some questionable weather on Monday, the house has gone from delightfully disorganized to someone needs to call DCFS.

This morning, as Ducky poured the kids their cereal (I was outside), I heard there were no clean spoons. Ducky later told me that Hoover, to clean his spoon, put it under the faucet and then his mouth. ::Shudder::

We haven't had clean clothes in drawers in days (they're in the dryer and clean in various baskets), and when we went to the pool yesterday, the kids had to share a towel.

I know my niece is family and is only 13, but I feel like I need to explain myself to her so she doesn't go back to her mom and tell her how Niecy Nash was here filming.

I've.Been.Busy. The Blaze of Glory has thrown me off my game and shifted my priorities in a way only the birth of a child has done before. I know it's just a new job and office, but DH is the breadwinner. If I don't help, we don't eat.

And I know Hoover at least will understand that urgency.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Open a Law Office in Three Days

So...confession time.

Disgruntled Husband has been planning on leaving his current firm in September to start his own firm. We've slowly been making plans to have all of this together in time to be ready for business September 1st.

And then Friday, the legal briefs hit the fan.

So, Friday afternoon, DH calls me and says he quit and the new firm was moved up a bit. By like nine weeks.

Sufficed to say, my weekend has been spent setting up a law firm. What? Yours wasn't?

I'm not getting into the details of the whys of the situation, but it's time for DH to move out on his own. I just wish he didn't do it in a blaze of glory.

I got the keys today to the new place, and in addition to finding furniture and setting up phone lines, I have to remove a wall and paint the place. How very awesome.


Songs of the 80s written for DH's life endeavors...

And where is DH? Off practicing law in various courtrooms. This new law office should be The Snarky Mom Law Office. And if I'm in charge of painting and general office management, it may turn out that way.

People keep asking me if I'm going to be DH's secretary. I answer with, "No, we'd like to stay married." Today, we've already had 4 arguments. He needs to be in an office with his own assistant yesterday.

The new office is supposed to open Thursday. First order of business is getting a reciprocating saw and a gallon of paint. God help us all.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Facebook Rules to Live By

My friend Jimmy introduced me to Facebook in 2008. After the first week, I had 200 friends. I don't know if he was scared or impressed. Then I got a DSL line, ditched the dial-up, and well, let's just say that if Facebook could be a friend, I would have had it stand up in my wedding.

I am a little bummed that Facebook happened after all my babies were born. That would have been very cool to share all of that fun stuff on-line, but silly me, I had my last baby in 2007. Disgruntled Husband told me right before his vasectomy that Facebook is not a valid reason to have another baby.

Most of what I read on Facebook is either funny or informative, but you know there are social rules that one must follow. And yes, I believe it is up to me to instruct others on Facebook etiquette.

(By the way, if you want to follow The Snarky Mom on Facebook, here's the link. I'm almost at 200 followers,which sounds suspiciously like a cult, but way more fun and without the whole matching-robes-and-cyanide-pills thing.)


F-this.

The Snarky Mom's Facebook Rules. Don't make me come through the screen and beat you.

1.) Do not invite me to play your game. Ever.

2.) If you don't know how to use Facebook, consult Google. If you don't know how to use Google, get off the computer. (This is mostly for the over 50 crowd. Whom I generally love and adore, but if I see one more status update meant for someone's wall -and signed at the end of said update- I might have to e-mail you a virus.)

3.) Grammar and spelling rules apply on Facebook. I don't want to read your text language or random capitlizations. Minor (and sincere) spelling atrocities are okay. As long as I can point them out for everyone to see and laugh at.

4.) If you put something inflammatory on your status update, expect bad things to happen. If you want to start something, fine, just don't be surprised at the comments you get. Things like politics tend to incite cyber riots. I almost lost a few friends during the 2008 election. I learned my lesson.

5.)Spam happens. Want to know how to stop it? Don't click on anything that tells you you've one a free iPad, plane tickets, or video with naked girls.

6.) If you change your status update every 15 minutes and fill my news feed page, expect to be blocked or even de-friended.

7.) I don't care if its friend week, daughter week, mother week, or former dead cat week; your carbon copy updates proclaiming it so is annoying and I will not be "posting this to [my] status."

8.) If you post about you're upcoming vacation, have your address as part of your information, and have people you don't  know as friends on Facebook, you deserve to be robbed.

9.) I can guarantee that if I "like" something you write, it's because I have a comment to make about whatever it is you posted, but don't want to be bothered with the millions of lame notifications that I'll receive if I actually type said comment. The short-lived "don't notify me" button was awesome and Zuckerberg needs to bring that back.

10.) We're not in high school. I will friend you if we went to high school together and you weren't a total psychopath back then (and if you ask). I have the capacity to forgive and know that people mature beyond their senior year. However, having said that, if you once threatened to pull a knife on me in a school bathroom for supposedly telling people you like Nazi stuff (which I didn't), don't expect me to accept your friend request. Ever. I don't care if you are a lawyer in Indiana now. See the "psychopath" language above.

Any other suggestions to the list? Let me know!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Inherited Messes

Monday, I gave myself quite the workout.

I spent about six hours going through Larry Potter and Hoover's shared room, getting rid of old toys and things that were broken or garbage.

I probably should have rented a dumpster.

This wad the final step in the master plan to overtake the world organize the boys. I've been reading this book, recommended to me by a psychologist. And holy crap, it's working.

As most of you know, Hoover is my most....active...child. He had a few problems in school this year, enough to prompt me to make a doctor's appointment for him to rule out a few things. At the end of the appointment (in which she sent Hoover out to color with a nurse and it turned into the therapy session for Mommy), she said she wanted to send Hoover for further testing but thought he could have ADHD. She recommended the book I sited above, and it's so far been a great experience.

I pared down the boys' wardrobe to only 10 shirts and 10 pairs of shorts (they had A LOT of clothes) as to not overwhelm them and me with piles of laundry and drawers that didn't close. Then, I went through the two toy boxes and consolidated them into one. I brought in a bookshelf, put some open bins that I took from my dad's house (and that were slated for the garbage man) to organize, and then finally with Disgruntled Husband's help, we unbunked the beds.


Husband repellent!

They may not have as much room in there anymore, but everything has a place and I can even get Hoover to make his bed in the morning. Willingly.

(The unbunking of beds was recommended because it can be hard to change sheets and make the bed with bunkbeds. Amen to that. When I tore the sheets of LP's bed, I found tinsel and wrapping paper, as well as his Winter Break reading assignment. Mommy Fail.)

I'm slowly trying to incorporate the rest of the book's ideas into my own life and not just with kids' bedrooms. It's a process. In all honesty, it was much easier doing this stuff with the boys because, well, they are my minions and (theoretically) do what I say. I have a harder time convincing DH, and to some degree, myself.

(And it's become second nature around here that when I say "Well, the book says..." DH's eyes roll into in his skull and he leaves the room.)

Five year olds are much more trainable than adults. I hope Hoover's future wife thanks me for this someday.

You know, when she comes to my retirement home to organize my crap.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bride: In the name of love

Friday afternoon, two friends of mine got married in Illinois. Disgruntled Husband took half a day off and at noon, we piled into the Limo and headed down to Chicagoland.

The days leading up to the wedding, I lost the invitation, so I texted the groom. He gave me their wedding website, courtesy of theknot.com, and I was able to find all the information I needed.

And then curiosity got the best of me.

Once upon a time, in a college campus far away, I too made a wedding website through theknot.com. Back when it was new and novelty and state of the art technology was in its infancy.

A couple of search words later, and there we were. In our 16 bit glory.

I scanned this in at college, using the best technology 2001 had to offer. Like the technology, my ideas about marriage also left me a little blurry.
It was the same webpage I created in 2001, untouched, like a technological time capsule.

We looked like teenagers. The information I provided back then was cute and naive, full of hope and anticipation. We had information about both me and DH, info about our wedding party (the 8-year-old junior groomsman? My recently-graduated-from-high-school nephew), things about our ceremony and reception (reception hall is now a Korean church; I don't get it either), and under "wedding notes" I wrote to pray for good weather.

Oh the things I could tell that girl.

Dear Jessica:

On your wedding day, please have someone turn on the air conditioning when you get there. No one remembered and it was a hot day in the sanctuary. Also, make sure you provide seating for the brass quintet at the reception so you don't have to deal with Marzana, the psycho reception hall lady and chew her out with the phrase, "You see this dress?!" Please also assign someone the task of getting DH his boutonniere before he takes pictures with Grandma's corsage on his lapel because he didn't know the difference. And if it wouldn't be too much to ask, find a friend to specifically videotape the dance with Bubba, because doing the Twist with your dad for the Father/Daughter dance will get you a standing ovation, and you'll want proof someday that you actually did that.

Oh, and you might as well eat the top layer of the wedding cake when you get back from your honeymoon, because it gets all freezer burn-y and gross a year later.

Love,
Jessica 

I'm feeling old today, and suddenly have a craving for wedding cake.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things my laundry taught me

I have to give myself a pat on the back about laundry these days. As in, I'm actually doing it. We are caught up and it's great to not see mountains of questionable clothing in laundry baskets and not break into a sweat. (They're questionable because I never know if, when I do the boys' laundry, if the clothes are actually dirty. I have a feeling a lot of clean clothes go into the laundry basket because my boys are too busy to put them away correctly.)

Last week, as I'm cheering for myself as I take a load out of the dryer, my enthusiasm stopped as I was face with the mystery of the orange spots.

At first, I thought it was Play-Doh because Hoover and Mini Me were playing with orange Play-Doh earlier in the week, in the pool, and I saw the mess it made on their hands. It was only when the perfectly cylindrical -and empty- wrapper came tumbling out of my tumbler did I figure it out. Crayon. ORANGE crayon.

(This, I swear, is like the laundry equivalent to lice or poison ivy, or maybe even having your dog sprayed at 3 a.m. by a skunk.)

So, I took to Facebook and Google. And the news was not good. Some sites said WD-40, others claimed Dawn dish soap would take it out. Lots of people mentioned an iron and a paper bag. However, when I looked at my full dryer, with every piece having Crayola Pox on it, I knew an iron wasn't going to cut it.

Disgruntled Husband's secretary of steel, Carol, had an idea. She suggested I go to the grocery store and buy some Fels-Naptha.

Honestly, I thought Fels-Naptha was an STD.

But it worked.


The dryer doesn't work for Sylvia Plath-like deaths. Though you may want it to.

I had to scrub and re-wash a few times, plus sacrifice a pair of Hoover's pajama pants and a beloved shirt of DH, but the rest of the laundry looked great. Did I mention Fels-Naptha cost me $1.19?

It was a long afternoon and evening full of laundry. One I didn't want to soon repeat. On another load of laundry, I made sure I cleared everything from the pockets. I found $.68 worth of change and two pens in one of DH's shirts.

When that load hit the dryer, I heard something. I opened it several times to try and figure out what it was, and each time, I couldn't find anything. I told myself I must be paranoid and it was probably just the buttons on DH's shirts.

Oh, it was his shirts, all right, but it wasn't the buttons.

My google history says it all:

How to get crayon out of dried laundry
How to get roller ball ink pen out of dried laundry

I could have shot him.

After more time scrubbing and re-washing, most of the ink is out of the clothes. By the way, it was far easier to get crayon out of a man's shirt than it was to get ink pen out of a child's shirt. In case you're wondering.

I suppose that's what I get for catching up on laundry.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Update

My apologies, folks. I'm trying to get my summer schedule under control and it's not going well. For the past two mornings, I've wanted to wake up and go for a walk before any one else is awake. And for the past two mornings, I've failed miserably.

The boys started swim lessons this week. Everyday for two weeks at 11 a.m., they are fighting their father's genes in order to become swimmers. Except, we live in Wisconsin, and at 11 a.m., it's a little less-than-pleasant in the pool water. Between telling Hoover to get back in the pool and Larry Potter that, no, I did not buy goggles for him after he went to bed last night, I am enduring the never-ending fight with Mini Me's shrill whining and complaining. Yesterday was the first day, and honestly, by the time I went to bed last night, I had to remind myself that we will be doing it all again for the next nine business days.

Tee-ball starts next week, in which I've enrolled Hoover and MM in, one day a week for 6 weeks.  Tuesdays will soon become my arch nemesis and also the reason I go to CostCo and bring a cooler in my mini-van all summer long.


Don't hit your head on the iceberg, boys!

The house, which Sunday was beautiful and picked up, with laundry done and even a nice candle burning in the kitchen, has become the focus of the next TLC show, "My kids are out of school and I just can't keep up with the mess!"  I swear, I only leave them to go to the bathroom, write the blog, or fold laundry. They are talented, I give them that.

Years ago, maybe even before LP was born, I would think what my summers would be like with my children. We'd all go to the nature preserve and learn about things like bugs and trees, have a picnic lunch, go swimming, sing songs, and then they'd fall asleep on the way home while listening to their favorite tape of children's songs. Meals would be simple and nutritious, and no one would complain. My kids would all get along and help each other out, because they loved each other and I was a gleaming example of how to treat people in this world.

Yeah. So far, that's not working out so well. And I'm afraid if I tried to implement all that now, I would have an even bigger revolt on my hands than I already do.

I have to get the boys ready for their daily ice dip now, and find something to occupy MM for an hour, besides string cheese and complaining.  Summer's a real B, ya'll.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Garbage Day Pride

I have to admit, there are times I worry my kids are going to all turn out to be psychopaths. Not so much their faults, but mine since I'm their mom and I don't really know what I'm doing.

(That, and I overheard Hoover threaten Larry Potter with throwing "A red marker or a KNIFE at you!")

Maybe all parents worry about this; I don't know. I mean, we all can't be that confident that out kids aren't going to appear on Maury, World's Strictest Parents, or Intervention, right?

 (I had a friend in college that summoned us all around the only TV with cable so we could watch her cousin get arrested. Things like this keep me up at night.)

This morning, I woke up late (which is just going to keep happening unless I do something about it) and after coffee and the paper, I looked out the window and realized that it's Thursday - garbage day around here - and there was no garbage in the alley for this house.

(This is Disgruntled Husband's area of "expertise," but he misses it. A lot. I'll give him a reprieve this week because he has a lot on his mind)

I see the mounting landfill in my kitchen and tell the boys to hurry up and get their clothes on, because I have a job for them.

And somehow, today, that statement worked.

I pulled out the garbage bag and tied it, found a couple more around the house and yard, plus a few boxes and extraneous things that needed to be either set on fire or tossed, and by the time the boys came back downstairs (with matching clothes no less), I had it all ready for them.

Wait, I know I told the boys to get dressed to help, but the first one down the stairs was Mini Me, dressed in jeans, a sweatshirt, and snow boots, reporting for duty. (It's cooled off considerably here...high of 62 today, and rain.)

I'll take any help I can get.


"Let's throw Mom for a real loop and do what she says willingly and without arguing. That should confuse her enough!"

With only being told once, they each took bags of garbage out to the alley, and went back for second and third trips. If I wasn't in such a hurry to beat the garbage truck, I would have fainted.

After all the garbage was taken to the curb, I asked the kids to go get me a few garbage bags for the outside stuff. We have a detached garage, and there has been a tall laundry basket full of broken toys, plus a rusted-out broken double stroller sitting there since 2009.

They each gave me a garbage bag. And then I see the truck.

"Kids! The truck's here, help me get this to the curb!" I shouted as I am making my way there with the double stroller.

Now, normally, things shouted like this, without eye contact, is met with crickets. I think they figure if I can't see them as I ask them to do things, they can slink out and pretend they weren't in the room when I asked.

But today, as I'm handing the garbage men my junk, I see three sets of feet next to me, all bearing garbage bags.

They actually listened.

The garbage truck left and I cleaned out the laundry basket/makeshift graveyard for broken toys with a hose. I came back inside and told them how proud I was of them.

"What great teamwork!"

(I'm pretty sure even I rolled my eyes when I said this.)

Just when I was beginning to lose all hope in my kids and my ability to parent, they all came through. No arguing, no fighting, no vague threats from me if they didn't comply. Honestly, I've never been prouder of them, which scares me that garbage day is their day to shine.

As I was cleaning the kitchen later, I asked them to please bring in the dishes from the living room.

Crickets.

Oh well. Baby steps, Jessica. Baby steps.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day One

Yesterday afternoon, it became Black Tuesday.

My kids were released from school and sent home to me for the summer, where they will surely get dumber before they go back to school in 85 days.

But who's counting?

The first complaint of the summer (well, mine) is all the last day of school stuff that explodes on my kitchen table and living room. Papers. Half-used crayons. "Safety" scissors. Glue sticks.

And it's not enough that it explodes, but it mushroom clouds over the entire house. Before I went to bed, I had whittled down the Haz Mat area to a manageable pile. This morning, I found Hoover coloring with marker in the upstairs hallway, Mini Me covered in purple glue stick, and Larry Potter cheating on the Sudoku (with yesterday's paper) with a half-dried out blue dry erase marker.

Two ever-present thoughts: I need to get up earlier and the school supplies need to meet garbage day, which is tomorrow.


I say we slip a Benadryl into Mom's coffee and then take over the world. As long as we're quiet and not making a mess, she'll be cool with it. 

And just in the span of the last 90 minutes, I've broken up two fights, removed a fat tick from behind LP's ear, gave haircuts to the boys, nicked Hoover's ear (ever try to band-aid an ear?), picked up four shirts that were laying on the deck next to the kiddie pool (I have three kids...why are there FOUR shirts?), and negotiated the great colored bowl breakfast battle of '11.

Now my coffee is cold and unfinished. I was thinking of replacing it with Chardonnay anyway. What? You've never had a brunch with Sangria?

Before yesterday happened, I tried like the Dickens to get the house and refrigerator ready. I'm about all caught up on laundry and at least one bathroom has been cleaned. The fridge was stocked until we realized that 16 yogurts and 48 string cheeses would only last until yesterday exactly.

I tried to prepare not so my house would be neat and the clothes clean and the fridge ready for the kids, but because I know I'm not going to have a chance to do it all again until September 1.

Somebody, please, drop off some scheduling tips and inspiration to my house. Otherwise, it's going to be a lot like Lord of Flies and we just don't need to give LP that kind of power.

(By the way, in case you were wondering, the air condition magically fixed itself. So whomever came over and fixed it in the middle of the night, props to you, dude.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Basement Dwelling

Greetings from below the earth.

My basement.

Though I normally write my posts from my basement office, today's is a little different. I had planned on writing about today being the last day of school (pass the Chardonnay), and all that goes with that. But Sunday afternoon, in the midst of a Wisconsin heat wave, I noticed my air conditioner was making a weird noise. I walked downstairs and saw my copper piping covered with snow.

Shit.

A call to my kind-of-brother-in-law (step-sister's long-term live-in boyfriend) who is in HVAC school, and he determined I must have a freon leak. He had a freon leak once, he said, and it cost about $600 for the professionals to fix it.

Double shit.

Now, for those that aren't in Wisconsin, let me tell you how it is here in a heat wave. I know, we get snow and we're no Florida, but it does get hot here. This week, it ranges from low 90s to mid 80s, with low 70s projected near the end of the week. Couple that with my plaster walls and drafty 1926-built house, and it gets to be some sort of biosphere experiment.

(Seriously, you can go up the stairs and feel the line where the heat begins. Up both staircases.)


Why must you mock me?


It's just another drop in the bucket for our adventures in home-ownership. I could give you the list of problems we have, that we don't have the cash to fix, but all that will do is depress me, so unless you're going to either A.) Come over here and fix it all for free or B.) Contribute to the fund, I'm just going to gloss over those details.

With the air conditioner on the fritz, it means that suddenly my 1600 sq ft house is now reduced to about a third of that...533.33 sq ft.

We're living in the basement. All of us.

Two nights ago, we had all three kids in the guest bed, and when it came time for us to go to sleep, we moved them into the family room area. One on the couch, one on the loveseat, and one in a sleeping bag on the floor. The same happened last night, too.

Five people were not meant to share 533.33 sq ft. The fighting is at an all-time-high, no one is actually falling asleep at a decent hour, and the cats are very confused.

During the day, we have been outside, enjoying my $20 garage sale purchase from last year: A heavy duty hard plastic kiddie pool. Yesterday morning when I woke up, it was cooler outside than it was in the house. That kiddie pool has never gotten so much use.

I'm thinking of calling the school to see if I can enroll my kids in some sort of extra-curricular summer activities there, where the air conditioning is new and powerful. I'm going to say it's for their own health.

Either way you look at that, it's true.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Missing Feline Report

Wednesday evening, late, I let in Clark. Clark, for those that don't remember, is our lovable yet natural-selection-testing cat.

After I let him in, I didn't see him. I asked Disgruntled Husband if he'd let him back out. He did not.

Thursday morning, while getting the kids out the door, DH let both Clark and his arch nemesis (and our other cat) Mozart outside. This is generally the way things go around here.

Because I was out the door quickly myself to chaperon Hoover's field trip, I didn't bother to look for the cats outside. I was still a little miffed that Clark hadn't stopped in to say good morning before he left for the day.

(It's our routine. Right before DH yells at me for the third time to get out of bed, Clark jumps in and walks up to me and lies down on my chest, purring and looking at me with his saucer-eyes. Every morning.)

And I was out of coffee, with my shipment due to arrive later that day. I believe this is important to the story.

When I got back at noon, the only cat I could find was Mozart. I called for Clark. Nothing. I shook a bag of cat food. Nothing, except convince Mozart to follow me around. I called for Clark again. Nothing.

Now, here's some other things you should know about Clark: it's only been a month or so that he's come running when I call him. This might have to do with his tangling with a red fox outside. Funny how that traumatic experience convinced him to come home when I call him.

I started to get upset. "He ignored me last night, snubbed me this morning, and now is probably laying in some foxes den with only three legs and half his lower intestines."

(I get a little dramatic with myself.)

What? You were calling me? For three hours?


Years ago when our cat Max was out too long, I called the local animal hospital, who told me a nice man named Jeff found Max and had him at his apartment until he found Max's owners. He lives a block away.

(And, interesting sidenote, Jeff and his now wife Monica are committed cat people...they take their cats trick-or-treating to our house every year.)

But I had a feeling, even though it was only noon, that something bad had happened to Clark. So I called the animal hospital. No one called in with my cat. I called the county Humane Society and the local police, giving descriptions of Clark to each.

I checked on his microchip to make sure it was up-to-date (it was) and to find out if it also works like kitty lojack (it doesn't).

I had two freelance articles due. I e-mailed my editor and said I was having a pet emergency. She, a dog lover, said to just them to her tomorrow and deal with my pet.

I was also supposed to finish cleaning my house.

By the time the boys got home, I still hadn't found Clark. Last year at this exact time, I had to tell Larry Potter that Max had died - right after he got off the bus. So when I told him Clark was missing, I braced for the worst.

And he said to me, "Well, if he gets hungry enough, he'll come back."

BlinkBlinkBlink

Well, who died and made you logical?

An hour later, as I was studying the neighbors ladder, wondering if Clark had climbed it and was on his roof, I felt a rubbing on my leg.

Clark.

I picked him up and he started given me all his excuses. I didn't care. I took him inside, gave him a hug, and grounded him for all eternity.

This morning, he greeted me in the usual fashion. And I have coffee this morning. (Which may have been why I over-reacted so much yesterday. Addiction, it's a real thing.)

But he's still grounded.