Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Tidings and Such

A belated Merry Christmas! As with any time of year, we had some up and some downs this holiday season. First of all, after dressing my twins as identical candy canes for Christmas (thank you Hanna Andersson), I will never ever make fun of how anyone else clads their children. And when I say "never ever" I mean not this week.

I rarely dress the girls identical (as if coordinating is smugly superior to exactly the same) but the leggings I planned for one twin were on back order so I gave in to what always seem to delight the masses: identical twins dressed identically. This adds to the holiday chaos (I love adding to the holiday chaos) since the only way some family members can immediately tell them apart is by listening to me address one of them and then memorizing who is wearing what. (Per a ridiculous message board I subscribed to, some identical twin moms get offended when people can't always tell their identical twins apart. Identical twins are, as the label suggests, IDENTICAL. Which makes it hard to keep them straight. Get over it. Or tattoo their foreheads.)

Their cousin asked, and rightfully so, if their outfits were in fact pajamas. Well, if not they should be. And at $87 for both (on sale, mind you) rather expensive pjs at that. I can't decide if I henceforth hate Hanna Andersson or want to buy every last stitch of clothing the woman sells. Because the stuff seems comfy as hell and if I become one of those mothers who wants to dress like their daughters so we all match I know where to go. (Hanna has a "Match With Me" section on her web site for easy family coordination -- even for dad! What poor sucker of a father gets duped into that? With such orders, along with a credit card number they require you to send in your husband's manhood.)

And on a side note, if I do become one of those mothers who wants the entire family to match please go the ends of the Earth to find out who I am and where I live so you can send a firing squad. Also, why the double "s" in Andersson? And doesn't Hannah usually have an "h" on the end? Is Hanna trying to make it difficult for people to locate her web site, like those chic after-hours clubs without signs so only "people in the know" can find them (or people like me, not in-the-know who are then pissed when they finally DO find it and want to kill somebody)?

On another note: Is there currently a federal holiday-related Cash for Clunkers program? If so, I'd like to avail myself of trading in the world's worst and most overpriced toy on the face of the planet. It was from the deceivingly named and ridiculously marked up site Back to Basic Toys. They hit you with the nostalgia from your youth and then try to sell you a cheaply made replica that is nothing like the original but 10 times the price. Do I sound bitter? Good. Because I thought a remake of the Fisher Price old school parking garage was being shipped to me but instead got something that didn't even come with cars. (It's a parking garage! Without cars!) It's so flimsy that if you breathe near it, it collapses. That after the assembly practically required a certified member of the UAW. You know what I should have just gone and bought? The version Fisher Price is currently hawking. Live and learn.

But we also bought the biggest hit of the season from Back to Basics. (See how fair and balanced I am? If my hair were blonder and my teeth able to blind people even with my mouth closed, I would be perfect for Fox News.) It's this jumpy thing which will surely land us in the emergency room before year's end:

It only took us (well, who am I kidding, my husband) two hours to set up but it's like a free babysitter! A babysitter on crack cocaine who endangers kids lives but a babysitter nonetheless.

Other things I am grateful for this Christmas season (besides overpriced-yet-comfy garments and dangerous contraptions that entertain my children for a whole day but don't charge $15 an hour):
  • A flight that despite bad weather was only delayed an hour. Yay Southwest!
  • My particular flight didn't have any of those singing / rhyming / stand-up comedian flight attendants on board. Double Yay Southwest!
  • The Yogurt Melt shortage has not hit Birmingham, Alabama. Yay Southern Distribution Center of Gerber Foods!
Merry Christmas, People!

PS -- As a New Years resolution I think I will stop over-using parentheses. (I tend to use them when I have very important thoughts but don't quite know how to work it into the overall dialogue. It's annoying.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hugo Who?

Today I committed a crime so egregious, so heinous, so horrific I think my husband will divorce me when he finds out: I purchased gasoline at a Citgo. The first time I did this I was startled by his reaction. "Do you know that Citgo is owned by Hugo Chavez!" he yelled, waving the credit card bill at me. "The guy who makes pants?" I asked innocently. "Not Hugo Boss, Hugo Chavez! The president of Venezuela!" Oh. And?

Well, apparently Republicans don't like Hugo Chavez. I've since learned that Sean Penn does. And that if I would prefer not to hear a tirade about Hugo's misdeeds, I should avoid frequenting Citgo (conveniently located a block away). Which I did. Until today.

As previously documented, I tend to wait until the very last moment to fill up the gas tank. Preferably, I wait until there is one teeny tiny drop left and then send my husband to do errands without warning him. Little did I know last time I used the car, leaving an itty bitty amount of fuel, I would drive the car next. So off I reluctantly went, cursing under my breath that pumping gas is men's work. (So is earning the money, cooking the dinner and cleaning the house, just so we're clear.)

Luckily, adjacent to the Citgo is a Shell. Unluckily, it was all fenced off like the fuzz was investigating a murder and such. The only other gas station I could think of was a good half mile away, and I wasn't even sure I had the fumes to make it to the pump at Hugo's joint.

So in I turned. I must admit I was slightly nervous. Like Hugo Chavez was going to emerge from inside the gas station and demand I wait in line for rations of stale bread. In the end, I suppose I gave about $45.60 to the communist party. It would have been less except my husband insists that I fill up his car with premium gas. He implies the car will implode if it's fed regular gas. This couldn't possibly be true, but just in case my life is in danger I buy the middle grade gas -- not the very worst but not the best either. This gives me a strange sense of victory.

I guess now that my car has died, his car is really "our" car. My precious little 1995 Miata that served me so well is sitting out back like a wounded bird slowing dying in the frigid snow. I try not to look at it through the window. I feel like I should invite it in for hot chocolate or at least pour some warm water on it and visit it from time to time. Doesn't it look dejected?

Regardless, look for me to start seeking advice on taking one's husband to the cleaners in a divorce when the credit card bill arrives. I want everything. Including the cars.

PS -- The photo of Citgo is a stock photo I downloaded online. I didn't take a photo of the gas station in 20 degree weather. I'm not that weird. I am, however, weird enough to stand in the alley behind our house in 20 degree weather to photograph my dying friend, my vehicular soul mate, my Miata.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nestle Has Some Explaining To Do

I made "Christmas" cookies this morning, the only thing Christmas-y about them being it's a week before Christmas. And when I say "made" I presume it goes without saying that means I broke up the little squares of refrigerated dough I mandated my husband buy at the store, heated up the oven and threw them in. As I broke up the little squares I marveled at modern conveniences and wondered aloud who in their right mind makes cookies from scratch anymore.

Fifteen minutes later I was less sure. The edges of the sugar cookies were getting "lightly browned" like the directions said, but there was still a bothersome square at the top of the cookie. While I appreciate the squareness in the dough form, shouldn't the end cookie product be round? You don't have to be Julia Child to know a cookie looks funny.

So do I let them burn slightly, hoping the square hump dissipates or do I take them out -- as the directions dictate -- when the edges are slightly brown? It would be helpful if Nestle put a little note in parentheses saying: "Don't let the big square bumps deter you! That's normal!" I opted to let them brown a few more minutes as I watched intently through the oven door. The edges kept getting browner but the square did nothing. Now I'm getting pissed. Because I'm thinking I: a) can't pass these off as homemade and b) may have to run out to the store to purchase canned icing to hide the square top.

I opted to c) do neither and still tell people I made them, silently daring them to challenge me.

Besides, I really only made them so the girls can leave some for Santa. I think leaving Santa store-bought cookies might send a conflicting message about Santa's importance. If I'm going to threaten them all year with being good, the person who is capable of squashing their dreams deserves a homemade treat when he comes through on his end of the bargain I would imagine.

See, these are the little nuances nobody tells you about motherhood. Making decisions like whether it's okay to serve fat-free fig newtons to an imaginary fat guy or whether you should pull out all the stops and throw some deformed cookie dough in the oven. In the end, I would guess Santa would rather some figure-trimming yet still delicious fig newtons over slightly burnt and oddly shaped sugar cookies. Maybe we'll leave both and see what Santa chooses.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Todder Wrestling (and a Possible Visit from Child Services)

Have I mentioned I intend to at least break even or possibly earn a small profit off my identical twins? Well, I do. And the Gap people have made it perfectly clear I won't do so on the girls' looks alone. (Not even in the top 20??? Apparently the Gap's benefits program doesn't include Vision.)

Listen, I've had enough deadbeat boyfriends to know when someone is taking me for a ride. And I'm starting to see some of those same "red flags" coming from the girls. Like they expect me to supply three meals plus snacks, yet never pull out their wallets when the bill comes. Do they think yogurt melts grow on trees? (Substitute "beer" for "yogurt melts" and I'm right back in the early 90s...)

So with a modeling career a dead issue, I wracked my brains for hours to come up with an alternative money-maker without outright selling them. Then it came to me: the WWE.

Notice the intimidating pre-match dance the one twin does? The WWE loves that crap! Is the identical twin shtick enough or do I need to go all out and get them mohawks, tattoos and start them on steroids? Does the WWE have a toddler division? Regardless, if Hulk Hogan can be successful in this market, I can only assume it can't be that hard. Then again, you'd think getting a book deal would be a cinch given Lisa Rinna got one. Sadly, no. (OMG, Fish Lip's book has 54 reviews for an average of 4/5 stars! Who knew Lisa Rinna had 54 friends!!!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Store Was Out of Yogurt Melts

And I have the photo to prove it. Why? Because every once in a great while, when I am ever-so-busy documenting the absurdity that is John Mayer, my husband is forced to do the grocery shopping. Last time this happened he came home without Yo Baby Yogurt and I basically, without saying it directly, called him a liar. "I go to the grocery store THREE TIMES EVERY WEEK and they have NEVER been out of Yo Baby Yogurt ... hmm." In other words, you forgot and I know you forgot and now you know that I know you forgot but you instead chose to lie.

He insisted he didn't forget, but in fact Jewel had absolutely no Yo Baby to sell. Are you buying that? Because I wasn't. So today, I sent him to Jewel with the mandate to buy Yogurt Melts which were imperative for a smooth flight to Alabama for Christmas. He came home, threw the groceries on the counter, announced they "didn't have any goddamn Yogurt Melts" and showed me this photo on his iPhone to prove it.

Which begs the question, am I such a terrifying person that one must interrupt one's grocery shopping to take a photo of a barren shelf to prove one isn't lying about the unavailability of a certain product? Apparently, yes.

Maybe, just maybe, this is Jewel's fault. For offering this divine treat for merely $5 for two bags. Yogurt-Melt-loving toddlers and their thrifty mothers everywhere must be thrilled. I am, however, not thrilled, as I have to go on a Yogurt Melt hunt before we leave. Who is purchasing $2.50 tiny bags of sugar, glue and food coloring for their toddlers in mass quantities anyway? You could probably make that in your meth lab at home. Besides, I thought we were in a recession. Sigh.

Monday, December 14, 2009

And The Award Goes To...

Me! I never win things. Although I did win the national gold medal in the 11-12 year-old female breast stroke when I lived in Saudi Arabia. But think about how many girls are actually allowed to wear swim suits over there and you can see how hard it was to come in first.

So imagine my ecstasy when the very entertaining and HOLLYWOOD-esque Sweet Jane from Lights! Cameras! Diapers! named me as an Honest Scrap award winner. She is relatively new to blogging but already has more followers than I have. Bitch. And THEN, several days later the lovely Laura who has seven-year-old twins PLUS a toddler tagged me as a Theta mom, which has nothing to do with the greek system . Laura has one more child than me yet seems 10 times more sane. And publishes a very honest look at motherhood via Kiddie Kaleidoscope.

Receiving the Honest Scrap award requires me to provide 10 things about myself and list five bloggers who have inspired me and whose blogs I admire. It's always about me, people, so let's do the 10 things about me first.

1) I am so old that I was the oldest person in the delivery room when my twins were born. This includes my high-risk Ob-Gyn, my husband (I like 'em younger) and all the riff-raff hanging around in case something went wrong.

2) I once lost 8 pounds soley giving up the French Vanilla International Delights coffee creamer I so enjoy. I drink that much coffee. People, I have twins.

3) My college boyfriend who was up to his ears in debt once told a creditor who called that "you can't squeeze orange juice out of a turnip." His car was re-possessed shortly thereafter. It was only then he was faithful to me for three months straight (as far as I know) because he needed my car to deliver pizzas.

4) I have a long history of questionable taste in men (not you, Daniel Craig, never you!).

5) I was driving in the car recently with the girls and the Barry Manilow version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" came on the radio and I cried. With joy. I love Barry. I don't trust people who don't love Barry.

6) I believe every decision (good or bad) I've made in my life was specifically because I was supposed to have the exact children I have and if I changed one thing it may have resulted in a different outcome that doesn't result in their existence.

7) Believing that every bad decision I've ever made ultimately resulted in my girls eliminates the need for regret, an emotion I find largely a waste of time. I like to waste time in more fun ways, like looking up lyrics to John Mayer songs and making fun of them in my head.

8) Speaking of talking to yourself in your head, that Oprah Book Club book "A New Earth" by Eckart Tolle deeply upset me because he says the voice in your head constantly talking to you isn't really you. Then who the hell is it? I kind of like the person who talks to me in my head and if it's not me I'd like to meet him or her.

9) I took a conversational French course one summer, hid in the back and the only thing I recall saying in French the entire term was "Mel Gibson has a nice ass" when asked to comment on a film I recently saw. (That was in the late 80s when Mel did still in fact still have a nice ass.)

10) I have absolutely no desire to go to Paris. And it has nothing to do with my bad French.

Okay, so a few of the blogs I love and inspire me I can't pass along this award to. They are busy with book deadlines and writing projects and / or have already been nominated. Wendi Aarons is completely hilarious and I wish I'd known her in college so we could have gotten sauced at sorority barn bashes together. Stefanie Wilder-Taylor of Baby on Bored (and numerous awesome, laugh-out-loud funny books) gave me renewed confidence in my writing when she actually mentioned my blog. Alexa over at Flotsam can make you laugh and cry in the same post. That's talent, people! Buy her book coming out next year.

Okay, now here comes a confession. I don't really read tons of blogs, except a few I got hooked on a long time ago. Between my girls and freelance work and being a general indentured servant, I don't really have time. Which I know sucks given I want people to read mine.

So I'm going to cheat by combining the five blog mentions from both awards into one post (coming soon) along with the requirement I list five things that helped shape me as an "authentic mom" which is what the Theta deal is all about. Are authentic mothers allowed to get Botox? I hope that doesn't disqualify me, prompting the judges to pry the award from my very hands as I'm up on stage accepting accolades and thanking my dermatologist...

And thanks to Jane and Laura for thinking of me for these. It's very humbling in a Sally Field "you like me you really like me" sort of way.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'll Have An Egg White Omelet With Broccoli and a Side of Waitress

Are you all Tiger-ed out? Good, me neither! I'm finding the little, oft-overlooked aspects of the story intriguing, rather than the gory sexual details. Things like he frequents Perkins for breakfast and his standard order is an egg white omelet with broccoli. I wonder if his usual breakfast was something more sinful like banana-stuffed french toast with hash browns if he wouldn't feel the need to order a little waitress to go.

The person I've found myself most sympathetic for is the soon-to-be-wife of Tiger's accomplice, Bryon Bell. Bryon and his (presumably PISSED OFF) fiancee are getting married next weekend in South Carolina -- with Tiger due to be the best man. Would you want to shoot your intended given he aided Tiger Woods' philandering thus the paparazzi will be staking out the chapel? I hope she's Bridezilla-ing his ass. And firing the best man.

But, always one to learn life lessons from other's misfortunes, I offer you the following wisdom:
  • Men who like tasteless, fat-free breakfasts may also like tasteless, fat-free women.
  • Perkins / Denny's / iHop / Big Boy waitresses are tempting. Make breakfast at home. If you do brave the shark-invested waters of cheap diner food, make sure your guy orders Moons Over My Hammy or something equally fattening. Seriously, I think there's a correlation.
  • Being beautiful doesn't make men be faithful. But later attacking them with a golf club or renegotiating a prenup might. (Also, for maximum effectiveness, the weapon should be directly related to the spouse's occupation. Like if he's a plumber attack with a plunger or a jockey run him over with a horse or a mailman slice him with a letter opener and so forth...)
  • Never allow a famous person to be best man at your wedding. Even if this scandal hadn't erupted, the bride was screwed regardless. Like you're going to focus on the bride when Tiger Woods is at the alter? Unless said famous person is paying for your wedding. And honeymoon. And maybe even a house. Then it's okay.
  • Golfers just seem more dignified than other athletes because they don't wear shorts or tight pants. They are really all the same. (Except that fat, drunk Hooter-sponsored guy John Daly. He's special.)
Look for me to vomit all over the Internet if Tiger goes to rehab for sex addiction or similar. I would, however, support him getting help for his addiction to egg white omelets with broccoli.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Neigh, Neigh Grandma!

How would you feel if a two-year-old pointed at you and your baby and exclaimed, "Baby Grandma!" Because presumably in her eyes you look way too old to actually be the baby's mother? Would it add insult to injury if that child was dressed as a horse? That is exactly what happened when I took my girls to a playroom on Saturday, my OCD twin being the offending kid. I almost died (because it's all about me, not about how the mom who was in fact NOT the baby's grandmother felt.)

I'm not gonna lie. This woman was no spring chicken. She could use a little (maybe a lot?) of Botox, some "Wash That Gray Right Outta My Hair" and hell, maybe even a full facelift. But I had my girls when I was 39 so I'm lucky some big-mouthed kid hasn't done the same to me. Anyway, I tried to redirect the horsey, but remember, this is my twin who gets fixated on things. Usually Halloween attire, but that day, it was a mom who -- from a toddler's vantage point -- looked like a Grandma. It didn't help the girls are now in a stage of being fascinated with babies, so she would not let up. This is not a big place. And she relentlessly followed them, pointing at them -- very proudly mind you because she had spotted a grandma -- and would shriek "Grandma! Grandma!" She neighed a bit here and there too, but again, I think that made matters worse. I momentarily considered packing them up and leaving but I just paid $25 to get in and, really, in the whole scheme of things it's not my fault the woman isn't aging well.

You don't really go to an indoor play area expecting to be heckled. So does one apologize for this? If so, what would one say? "Ummm, hey lady, sorry my daughter thinks you look like an old goat..." In the end I did what I normally do: ignore ignore ignore and make no eye contact whatsoever. The poor woman probably has an emergency appointment with a plastic surgeon set up for first thing Monday morning.

I hope there are no horses in the waiting room.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Random Christmas Season Thoughts

Do you think when Jesus fed the homeless and turned water into wine and other stuff that made people name a religion after him that he ever thought he'd one day be depicted as an infant in a Little People's Nativity Scene set? We got one for Christmas last year and as I set it up the other day one of the girls came running, picked up Baby Jesus, yelled "Baby!" and flung him across the room then giggled manically when he hit the wall. I'm not sure, but I think you can be deterred at the pearly gates for that. The other one seems intent on alternately eating Baby Jesus and throwing him down the slide while yelling "Crash, boom, bang!" Is this what Fisher Price had in mind when they conceptualized this product?

Why is Santa such an asshole in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer? I have fond memories of Christmas specials from when I was a kid so I was excited to watch Rudolph with the girls. I forgot how mean Santa is and that there is an abominable snow monster. He came on screen roaring and rolling his big googly eyes and I shrieked, "Look at the nice snow man!" and immediately changed the channel. All I need in life right now is my kids to start using monsters as a stalling tactic at bed time. Right now we're in the "I"m thirsty" stage which is easily rectified with some water but I don't know how to handle misfit abominable snow monsters.

Speaking of Christmas specials, did you know there is a Christmas-themed Caillou where Caillou goes Christmas caroling with his family and then has a Christmas party at school where Ms. Martin explains how different religions have different holiday traditions? Did you know I've been forced to watch it 57 times so far and I might hunt down whoever does the voiceover for Caillou's character and bludgeon him or her?

Does that Elf on a Shelf guy look like he's up to no good or is it me? I mean, he is the one who is supposed to spying on the kids and tattling to Santa, but I feel like any minute he might spring to life and rob us blind. And I feel like he's always watching me, judging. I want to wipe that smirk right off his little elfish face.

My girls are obsessed with what food we'll leave for Santa and the reindeer. When I suggested apples for the reindeer the mean twin screamed, "Those are MY apples!" See what I'm dealing with here? She gets the concept that these reindeer are flying here to leave her presents but doesn't even want to share any apples with them, even after I explained how hungry they'd be from their long journey. She finally agreed to letting Santa have some milk and cookies but only if she got some before bedtime too.

I can't wait until they're old enough that I can implement the old coal-in-the-stocking threat. Which really should negate the need for an elf sitting on my shelf. Maybe I'll add him to the Little People nativity scene to ratchet up the blasphemy a bit.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Eating Issues

You know how before you had kids you look at a particularly annoying mothering technique and think,"I will NEVER be like that when I'm a mother" and then you're that and about ten times worse? I specifically remember being with friends and one mother badgering her kid to eat more squash, that, no, she couldn't have dessert until she eats more squash and wouldn't she please please please eat a little more squash? I was ready to eat the entire plate of squash myself when the mom wasn't looking just so I didn't have to hear the word "squash" ever again. And I think squash is revolting.

Dear God I've become what I hate. Last night I heard myself pleading like that and wanted to take myself out to the barn and shoot myself like an old horse who needs to be put out of its misery. Except we don't have a barn. Or a gun. But you get the point. Granted, nobody was around to be annoyed by my begging except my children and the point was to annoy them, but still. My girls are the pickiest eaters in the world and would eat nothing but crackers, cookies, ice cream and milk (YES! IN A BOTTLE STILL!) if I let them. And some days I do. Because having my fingers amputated one by one with a plier sounds like more fun than arguing about food.

They are the worst at dinner time. "Chips?" one will ask me like it's completely plausible I will let them have potato chips for dinner. (They wouldn't know what a potato chip was if it wasn't for my husband. But I digress.) "Ice cream?" the other will say. Then it turns into "No din din!" "Chips!" "Ice cream!" "No peas!" And by that time I'm ready to shove a container of Haagen Daaz and two spoons at them and tell them to knock themselves out.

I've also starting using treats as a bribing technique, surely a habit that translates directly into a tween eating disorder in several years. "If you stop whining / play nice / take a bath we can have some ice cream," I suggest. They of course still get the ice cream if they've done none of the above.

I sit in amazement when I see toddlers who happily eat what their parents eat for dinner like a grownup except short and clad in head-to-toe Gymboree. What am I doing wrong? Why will my kids eat only about 4 things and all basically from the same food group? And after I slaved and sacrificed and made ORGANIC homemade baby food for crying out loud, this is how they repay me. (Although perhaps there is a correlation. I'm no cook, and my last name isn't Gerber, so maybe I turned them off to food completely by making it myself?)

Also, how can I start to tackle potty training when I don't have the mothering skills to GET THEM OFF THE DAMN BOTTLE? Somehow I picture the day they leave for college and me suggesting they don't drink beer out of their bottle because that might hamper their social life and asking if they made sure to pack enough Depends for the semester. Relatively stupid and incompetent people (don't make me name names) manage to transition their children to drinking milk out of cups, so I'm not sure why this seems insurmountable to me. I don't like to upset them -- and taking it away upsets them.

Can we all just take a moment and thank the universe I won't be procreating ever again?

PS -- I thought I loved celebrity gossip. But it's exhausting keeping up with what former childhood star bit his girlfriend's forehead in a drunken stupor and who's hassling the Hoff and what Courtney Love is wearing on her head. I mean, really.