Friday, November 11, 2011

Best Answer to "How Was School Today?"

Mommy who?

We are now two months into preschool and the girls run off into the building gleefully like I am yesterday's news. I have a long history of being treated like that by men, but my own children? I don't think so! I am a vengeful sort so I started plotting how to get back at them for disposing of me so easily. "If you can so callously be without me for 2 hours and 45 minutes," I thought, "then let's see how you do if I go back to work full time and you only see me two hours TOTAL per day! Maybe you'll miss me then!" Of course that would require me to actually work and we all know how against that I am. Alas, I am still scheming. Preferably I'll come upon a plan that punishes them but doesn't at all negatively impact me.  I'm not even sure I'm still employable as I have trouble making pleasant conversation with other adults. Unpleasant, certainly. But from what I vaguely recall that doesn't fly in the workplace.

So every day I ask the same tired question I assume all mothers across the world ask: "How was school today?" Usually I get mish mash of toddler gossip like someone wet their pants or another bit an unsuspecting fellow pupil who dared to grab a purple crayon or similar. But one day. Ah, one day I got this courtesy of Lulu:

"I was afraid to ask the teacher for a tissue so I wiped boogers all over my dress."

I'm so against the word boogers that I didn't even know how to spell it. I had to look it up. So you can imagine if I don't like writing it how I felt about knowing my daughter's dress was covered in them.

In other news, my mother came to visit as she does quite often and we took a pleasant sojourn to the park where we overheard a father tell his daughter that if she didn't put on her shoes the police would come and take her away to jail. That was two months ago and my mother was so horrified she's still not over it. Whenever she calls, she'll ask, "Have you seen that no-good father who threatens his three-year-old with jail?" I got sick of saying no so last time she asked that question I said, why yes, in fact I saw social services hauling the kid away as she exclaimed happily, "Thank you for saving me from my awful mean father!" I think mom can now sleep at night.

During that same park excursion, there was some dumb kid sitting right under the monkey bars where he could get hit by swinging feet as his dumber mother stood there saying things like, "You have two choices. You can get out of the way or you can get hit in the head." After several minutes of this, I told Moxley she could go ahead and swing on over him and if he got a concussion so be it. Shortly thereafter, another dumb kid wouldn't give Lulu a turn on the slide and he just sat there blocking it. I told him to move it and he tried to give me an explanation, one that started with, "Well, I am waiting for my sister blah blah blah" to which I replied, "I don't care if you're waiting for God himself. Move it!" at which point my mother said to me: "You seem awfully angry. Why are you so angry?" My question is why did it take her 40+ years and a jaunt to a park filled with annoying children for her to notice this about my personality?

Speaking of God, my kids are beginning to ask questions about him. Except they think his name is Ga-Gon for some reason. "Why does Ga-Gon live in the clouds?" they asked. "Who?" I replied. "Ga-Gon. He is really nice and lives in the sky." "Oh," I said, "you mean God?" "No, Ga-Gon!" Then last night Lulu asked if Ga-Gon lived in a castle or if he got wet when it rained. Which, when you think about it, is  actually a very good question.

I also have some deep thoughts on the CMAs: Did the country music powers that be think that by putting Lionel Richie up on stage with Darius Rucker thereby having the only two African American people in the entire room in one place under one roof it would debunk the theory that country music is racist? "Look here!" the producers must have said patting themselves on the back. "Two black performers on stage AT THE SAME TIME! Who are they calling racist???" Dancing on the ceiling indeed. And while we're discussing dancing, might I point out that Faith Hill has no rhythm? Did you see her hop around the stage to her new song as though there was an entirely DIFFERENT song being played? Sheesh. Ask Tim to cough up some money for dance lessons, sweetheart! And get a new hairdresser while you're at it.

One more thing: I just came from Traders Joe's which I normally delegate to my husband because making undesirable small talk with the cashiers deeply upsets me. I by far prefer the surly rudeness of the  Jewel staff. But I think I finally figured out how the interview process works at Trader Joes. The first phase involves weeding out anyone who seems remotely normal. The second phase requires giving the applicant one simple command in the interview: "Tell us about yourself." If the person can talk nonstop for 30 minutes straight without coming up for air they get the job. Bonus points with a direct line to a managerial position if they somehow work in a story about their pet ferret.

I am going to start posting more. Really. This time I mean it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Preschool Blues

We now have three days of preschool under our belts and each day my children acted like I was sending them off to slaughter at drop off time. Crying. Screaming. Holding onto me for dear life. And then, at the moment they know I must leave, pleading with me, "Mommy! Please don't go! I love you!" And then these heartbreaking words from Lulu: "Please take me home with you, Mommy! I promise I'll be good!" Like I am doing this to punish them for something.  I don't have the mental constitution for this. I might be destined to become one of those home-schooling freaks.

In wardrobe news, we are going on seven months that Moxley has worn her beloved "flower pants." I am down to one pair of 4T's that don't have a hole in the knees. Target is now out of stock, thanks in large part to this household buying them in bulk. When this last pair is in tatters, I'm not sure what's going to go down. She may need to be medicated. Or possibly hospitalized. I was encouraged recently when she declared she wanted to wear a suit to school when her last pair of flower pants finally ripped.  When I pointed out it would be hard to play in a suit she countered, and rightfully so, that Father Bear plays in his... My child's fashion muse is a middle-aged bear who wears a three-piece suit -- even to bed.

Our "flower pants problem" may rapidly turn into a "Chaz Bono problem." But wanting to dress like a boy (or even be one) isn't the upsetting part. The part that disturbed me is when she said she wanted to wear a bow tie in lieu of a regular tie. Ever meet that guy at work whose shtick is to wear a bow tie every day instead of a regular one? They're all weird, and there's usually one at every company. I would sit in meetings just staring at these oddballs trying to figure out their psyche and wondering what motivated them to unilaterally decide one day that their corporate identity would revolve around donning a bow tie day in and day out.

One evening, circa 2001, one such fellow approached me at a company happy hour and said something along the line of, "Would you like to grab dinner one night?" I was horrified. He must have mistaken my staring at him in the board room as romantic interest rather than a perverse need to know what motivates a grown man to buy 30 different bow ties so he never wore the same one all month. (I kept track.) This was my opportunity to get to the bottom of this. I ignored his advance and replied, not unkindly: "Let me ask you something. What's with the bow ties?" He turned on his heels and never spoke to me again unless it was absolutely necessary for work purposes. The bow-tied gentleman didn't even give me a chance to float my theory that he had a deep-seated emotional need to differentiate himself due to feeling invisible during his formative years.

In other news, we have a bunch of large insects with about a million legs running around our house. They freak me out. I usually attack them with a whole roll of paper towels so their guts don't seep through and possibly leak on me like they might if I used only one sheet. Yesterday one crawled by my bed and I had no paper towels handy and was too afraid to get off the bed so I dropped a book on it and then left the book in place for my husband to deal with when he returned from work. This seemed like a completely reasonable reaction on my part but he seemed perturbed by it. At first I thought he was annoyed by my choice of book (Sh-- My Dad Says) but upon further reflection I learned he didn't like to be greeted with a demand to remove a smashed insect carcass immediately after a hard day at the office. I stand by my actions. If I wanted to clean up murder scenes I'd work for one of those firms CSI calls in to mop up blood after all the fingerprints and DNA samples are taken.

So how many days until my kids stop going ballistic before school? I come home every day and cry for the 2 hours and half hours before I have to turn around and pick them up. It's highly unproductive.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mid-Life Crisis

I feel a mid-life crisis coming on. Oh, I've had them before. But the beauty of this one is I sense it's coming. Which means I can proactively plan how it will manifest itself. So much better than impulsively driving off the lot in a canary yellow 911 convertible Porsche one can't afford then regretfully looking back when the first bill arrives and telling one's husband, "Sorry, it's a mid-life crisis!"  Or boinking the 24-year-old hot gardener ala Desperate Housewives. Luckily (for unsuspecting hot gardeners everywhere) we don't have a garden. And, truth be told, if I was going to impulsively buy a vehicle I can't afford it would be a 2011 black Audi Q7 with a fancy entertainment center so the girls would watch non-stop episodes of Dora and stop barking orders at me while I drive. Such a purchase doesn't scream MID-LIFE CRISIS! as much as it screams SOCCER MOM!

So the big decision is how will I choose to play out this particular mid-life crisis. I think I have an idea: I will become a vegan. Wait, stop. I know it's not very mid-life crisis-y. But it kind of is if you know me. Mid-life crises are supposed to be about engaging in uncharacteristic behaviors, right? Well, there is no group of humans I am more unlike than vegans. What is a vegan anyway? I suspect it's a vegetarian who no longer felt they were getting the proper accolades for selflessly saving the animals and decide to step up their annoying eating habits a notch. (Not fish, though. Fish are fair game for vegetarians. Why are cows worth saving when it comes to a species to slaughter for one's own consumption but not fish, one wonders?)

I don't see myself ever being friends with a vegan. What would we do? Where would we go out to eat? What would we talk about? Yoga? I bet vegans are too spiritually cleansed to watch the Bachelorette. They are probably munching on some tofu right now blissfully unaware that the worst Bachelorette in the history of the franchise chose boring JP over adorable Ben. Gwyneth Paltrow is a vegan. Need I say more?

If I fully commit to becoming a vegan I suppose I'll have to look up exactly what I'm not supposed to eat.  I consume about one whole cow per week so instead of evolving into a vegan I might become one of those people who only eat what cavemen could eat. Cavemen liked cows, or at least the prehistoric version of cows. That might suit me better. That seems easier as before you put anything into your mouth you need only ponder, "Could a caveman have eaten this?" Take a Twinkie for example. I don't think Hostess was invented in the Paleozoic era so the answer would (sadly) be no. I'm not sure when pinot noir came about but I have to believe an ambitious caveman (or cavewoman, no sexism here) who was hulking about the region that is now Sonoma, California accidentally stomped on some grapes, brought them back to the cave and discovered the mixture went nicely on the palate with the beast they clubbed earlier that day. So red wine is in.

I am open to ideas about this midlife crisis by the way. My only criteria is it can't be bad for my family or children. So schmooping the gardener, if we in fact had a garden, would not pass the "no harm to the family" criteria. Running off to Italy for five months with a man I meet on the Internet to retrace Elizabeth Gilbert's tracks in Eat, Pray, Love is similarly disqualified.  Plus I think women who aspire to do that are unoriginal harpies (the tracing of Gilbert's tracks part at least). I mean, really? The world is a big place -- make up your own damn itinerary, people!

On another note, I always thought my little crush on Daniel Craig was a joke. But when I learned he married Rachel Weisz I was actually ever-so-slightly disturbed. Not crying disturbed. More mildly irked. It was at that point, as I experienced my mild irk-ness, that I'd wished I had a therapist. What a great session that would be! I pictured myself sitting across from Gabriel Byrne from In Treatment (I totally would pick a therapist I slightly wanted to sleep with so he could diagnose that transference thing) and he would lean in, adorably engaged as I described my angst.

I'd play it up. In the session I wouldn't convey "mildly irked" but instead feign "extreme distress." He'd perhaps ask probing questions like, "Do you often have unrealistic fantasies about unattainable men you don't know?" I'd end the session bawling on the couch in a fetal position as Gabriel tried to talk me down while prescribing some anti-psychotic drugs. Oh, have I mentioned I don't believe in therapy? It's mainly because I think most therapists are even more f---ed up than the rest of us and they are simply trying to work out their own mental health issues ON OUR DIME. If you are a therapist reading this, no offense. But I'm right, right?

In conclusion, I am assuming if you are a vegan, a vegetarian, a therapist, a woman who wants to take an excursion to Italy, India and Bali in that order, or perhaps even a gardener, I've offended you.  Why so sensitive!?!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sh*t That PIsses Me Off

See, this is the kind of crap that makes me crazy pissed off. The other day we go to this park that has some nifty water features and two benches in the shade for about 100 asses that would like to sit. So some entitled mother decides to take one of those two benches in the shade all for herself and her rotten kids,  one of whom hit Moxley over the head with a bucket and when I told him he better stop the mom called him over and whispered something to him. Probably something like, "Don't mind that mean lady, she has nowhere to even sit!" followed by a maniacal laugh. Her Mark Shale bag apparently also needed to sit all day on this coveted bench space and her double stroller was conveniently parked right in front of part of the bench so if someone should have dared to sit on HER bench they would have had to move it.

These are the same types of people who fly Southwest and even on full flights leave their carry on in the middle seat hoping to deter someone -- ANOTHER PAYING PASSENGER -- from sitting there. They are also the type of people who get a wake-up call at a resort for 7:00 am so they can save eight chairs with towels for a family of four (beach bags need chairs too ya know!) and then mosey on down to the pool at 1:00 pm.

When I called my husband to bitch about this ad nauseam (I texted him the above photo as evidence), he calmly asked, "Why didn't you just move that blanket or towel or whatever it is and sit?" BECAUSE THAT MIGHT SOLVE THE PROBLEM AND LET'S FACE IT I'D RATHER POST PHOTOS AND BITCH ABOUT IN ONLINE. That's why.

If you are one of these people I am talking about, please know that others hate you. I mean really hate you. And feel free to explain to the rest of us why inanimate objects need their own seat. And please see below that my adorable daughter (who might get a sunburn unlike a Mark Shale bag) had to sit on the concrete in direct sunlight while you chased around your deranged son who thinks a bucket is a weapon.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vacation 2011: The Ups, the Downs and the Iguanas

There were many portents (yes, I am comparing my life to a Shakespearean tragedy) that our vacation in Puerto Rico might not meet my vision of the relaxing, fun-filled days of frolicking on the beach by day, watching the sunset by night as my two angels are on best behavior out of gratitude that their parents got them the hell out of this miserable Chicago weather. It became brutally clear to me that being a mother on vacation is eerily similar to being one every other day of the year. Except you are spending a lot more money causing a heightened level of annoyance when your children are not behaving and obsessing over whether they have enough sunscreen on. My children were deliciously delightful half the time during our sojourn, and complete miserable freaks the other half, leading me to believe they are Cybill with slightly fewer personalities.

Before this getaway even started, the following occurred:

Portent Number One: We were required to send a cashier's check via Priority US Mail to the condo we rented. Said check, per the USPS, arrived on a certain date, but the recipients confirmed it did not. I traced it, with the USPS insisting it had been delivered. It had, in fact, not. We cancelled the check, and I initiated an investigation with USPS. They said they would get back to me "within two business days." That was 47 business days ago.

Portent Number Two: We booked award tickets on United Airlines  (a company which incidentally can bite me) but could not get a direct flight for our return. I reluctantly booked a connection through DC. Exactly three hours after booking it, the direct opened up. I called United but was told I'd be charged $150 per ticket ($600 total for the mathematically challenged out there) because it was a "change of route." How exactly does our changing the route using miles cost United ANYTHING let alone $600? And kindly don't get me started on their baggage fees. I'd make a Friendly Skies witticism here but it's probably already been done ad nauseam.

Portent Number Three: I have never had a spray tan, but because I could have potentially starred in Powder II, I decided to try it. The gal with the hose asked whether I'd like light, medium-light, medium-dark or dark. Having never had a spray tan, I left it up to her discretion, directing only, "Just don't make me look ridiculous." Let's just say "ridiculous" must be subjective because I emerged from my session looking like the love child of a female oompa loompa and C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man.

 A few highlights of the trip:

There was a large, functional gong on each floor of the resort. This puzzled me deeply. It's as if the designer thought to himself (it wasn't a female I can tell you that), "Hmm... you know what's missing from this kid-infested venue? There simply isn't enough noise!" The gong just so happened to be right outside our door. What a pleasure it was for every passerby under the age of 14 to take a whack during all hours! So enjoyable was it I might go buy myself a gong as I miss the gonging disrupting my REM sleep on a regular basis since our return.

Puerto Rico might soon be taken over by iguanas in a mass revolt reminiscent of a B horror flick. The place is crawling (literally) with them: they are the size of large cats and seemingly have no fear of humans. I like an animal that is terrified of superior species as nature intended. But the iguana, in its ruthless quest for french fries and other food eaten by tiny tourists, JUMPED ONTO OUR LOUNGE CHAIR and perched itself atop our beach bag. (Interesting iguana trivia: they don't respond to the command "shoo shoo!" like a bird might.) The fact my husband missed that photo opp might be grounds for divorce. I wonder if anyone ever listed as the reason on a  divorce decree "Iguana dove onto our bag and my now estranged husband missed the shot." He did manage to get this one of Moxley about to possibly lose a nose or other facial extremity:

Halfway through the trip, Lulu informed me she wants her name to henceforth be "Flower." This is troubling on many levels, least of which is that there are only three possible destinies for a person with an affinity for the name Flower: a dope-smoking slacker, a cult member, and worst of all, a tree hugger. I don't need some smart ass teenager lecturing me about my carbon footprint and pestering me to buy locally grown organic food while living rent free in my home. At least if they are dope smokers they will be too busy stuffing their faces with Pringles and onion dip in a fit of the munchies to bother me too much and a cult member probably won't be in touch at all, rendering them fairly low maintenance. The Flower thing may or may not be related to fact the girls now only want to wear clothing items besieged by flowers.

I used to think parents who stuck their children in the Kids Club on vacation were assholes. Now my first and foremost concern when planning our next getaway is that they have one, preferably one that operates all day every day.

I suppose I could write about our joyous moments as well, but if I wanted to write joyous crap I'd be published in one of those Chicken Soup books or similar. I'll let some photos speak for that side of the trip:

Friday, April 1, 2011

If It's Okay for a Princess...

At first glance, you might think the disturbing part of this photo is that my daughter is drinking out of a bowl. Really, that's the least of the problems depicted in this photo. First and foremost, it is WHAT she is drinking. Are you ready? Green bean juice. Or more accurately, the watery remnants of what canned Del Monte no salt green beans come packed in. (Good thing I keep "shit loads" on hand...) The girls recently decided they like their green beans "juicy" which means they don't want me to drain the watery crap out. These are the same girls who won't take a bite of hamburger or chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese or anything else normal children actually eat. But green bean run-off? Yes please may I have another!

The second most disturbing part is that when I told her not to drink from the bowl (does one use a spoon to eat green bean water like a soup one wonders?), Lulu indignantly replied, "That's how Belle ate when she had dinner with the Beast!" Oh, well then, carry on.


Friday, March 11, 2011

The Case of the Vacuum and Broken Lollipop

I prefer not to make myself look pathetic on the World Wide Web, but I think this story deserves telling, if only to shame myself into being a more responsible member of my own household. I recently bribed the girls for doing something or other, I can't recall (one can't be expected to keep track of all forms of bribing when one's main parenting technique is bribing) and as a result we marched back home from the drug store with those obnoxious lollipops as big as one's head. As an aside, just out of curiosity, I read the "nutritional" information on the back and each lollipop is 550 calories of pure sugar.  But a half thousand empty calories were fine with me if these two WOULD JUST SHUT UP. We were having a rough day.

So anyway, Moxley still had some plastic wrapper on her stick and was hemming and hawing about it and I was on the phone with my mother trying to explain that I could at any moment plunge my head into a vat of boiling oil and while I'm wondering aloud how one might obtain a firearm in Chicago I'm trying to get the damn wrapper clinging onto the lollipop stick off and I drop it and it shatters like glass all over the kitchen. It's like shrapnels of blue sugar attacking my floor and if I had wanted to shoot myself before this happened how do you think I felt afterward with 550 calories of blue sugar covering my floor and a three-year-old shrieking hysterically over a lost lolly while her twin gloats and licks her still-intact pink one? Right.

I calm Moxley down by offering her a piece of cake that she can decorate with blue icing ("The lolly was blue and the icing is blue!" I sang merrily and somewhat desperately.)  I get the girls up at the table up to their eyeballs in cake and icing and look at the kitchen floor. I have absolutely no idea how to clean it and had I been in a better frame of mind I would have taken a photo for illustrative purposes. So I do what I normally do in such situations: I call my husband at work and start yelling at him.

Yes, I realize he was not there, did not drop the lollipop and in fact does not approve of the girls eating lollipops the size of a helium balloon. However, I could think of no other blameless person to yell at who might still talk to me later.

"Where's the f@#$ing dust pan!" I screamed. When I was informed we didn't own a dust pan (who doesn't own a dust pan???) I demanded to know how the hell I was expected to clean up this mess without a f@#$ing dust pan. "Get the vacuum cleaner," he calmly replied. His nonchalant demeanor only infuriated me more. I pictured him sitting in his office, only half listening to me, perhaps mocking me with obnoxious faces to his co-workers as I went nutso over a broken lollipop.

"Fine, where's the f@#$ing vacuum cleaner then???!!!" I demanded.

"In the downstairs closet where the water heater is," he replied pleasantly.

"F@#$ you!" I yelled and hung up. Just for the record, I did not yell this in front of the girls, who were happily drawing blue icing on each other and watching Wow! Wow! Wubzy! upstairs. So, as directed, I retrieved the vacuum cleaner and observed to myself that it is heavier than it looked. I briefly pondered leaving the mess for my husband to clean when he got home but that wasn't for four hours and I didn't think I could keep the girls out of the kitchen that long.

I dragged the vacuum upstairs and plugged it in. Then searched for the "on" button. I couldn't find it. I have very little pride, but enough not to call my husband back and ask where I might find the on switch to the vacuum cleaner. No, instead I turned to my three-year-old twins and asked them, given they like to help Daddy vacuum. They enthusiastically showed me how to turn it on.

And that's when it hit me. I've lived in my home more than six years AND HAD NO IDEA WHERE THE VACUUM WAS KEPT OR HOW IT WORKED. And HAD TO ASK MY THREE-YEAR-OLDS HOW TO TURN IT ON.

It was the first time the following thought ever crossed my mind: "Shit, I hope he (my husband) never leaves me." I'd be like one of those hoarder people found buried under a pile of their own rubble except I'd be buried in broken lollipops or similar.  But the good news is I now know where in fact to find the vacuum cleaner and how in fact to turn it on. Hopefully, I can avoid doing so for another six years.

--Incidentally, blogger will not allow me to upload photos recently and I even had a nifty graphic of a vacuum cleaner with a line through it like "No vacuum cleaning." WHY CAN'T I UPLOAD PHOTOS?