An Erma Smack-Down

Any time you submit a piece of your writing for a contest or to be considered for publication, you’re leaving your most tender parts exposed and vulnerable. Picture a hermit crab without a shell; that’s a writer waiting for someone else to hand down judgement.  You’re all nervous and pink and quivery, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.  And it’s even scarier when you submit a piece to a contest that bears your writing idol’s name.

Back in February, I submitted a piece to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Competition. And then I waited. As the time for the winners to be announced drew near, I imagined various scenarios that were taking place behind the scenes regarding my contest entry. Either  A) the judges were immediately declaring me the hands down winner, or B) the judges were scanning my entry, tossing around words like “crap-tastic”, and then balling it up for a three point shot into the trash can. After spitting on it.

Well, the winners were announced this week. And no, I wasn’t one of them. (Insert pathetic, sad trombone here.)  But I will hold my head high, because I’m proud of what I wrote. All 853 people who entered should be proud, for that matter. So while I lick my wounds and self-medicate with pie, I invite you to read my contest entry, which, because I lost, is now available for your reading pleasure. You’re welcome.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back to the Tree Farm

Tragically, the festivities took a dark turn when the children took the phrase “tree lighting” a bit too literally.

 

The brisk air and the appearance of twinkling lights tell me it’s time. Time to shake off the confines of our suburban cocoon and venture forth to the wilds, as our ancestors did before us.

“We’ll go today,” I tell my husband. He’s apprehensive, but knows nothing can deter me. I feel like Quint hunting the Great White, except…less grizzled. Yes, today we’re off to find the Christmas tree.

Lesser mortals have been felled by the Christmas tree farm’s porta-potties, hot cocoa the temperature of molten lava, $50 wreaths, and rusty saws. But not I. I will claim my prize, threat of tetanus or no.

Over the trilling of Jingle Bells coming from the parking lot loudspeakers, I sidle up to the white-haired farmer and deliver my edict. “Direct me to your most hearty trees, good sir,” I say grandly, as my kids try to pretend they’re with a different family.

“Well, we have some nice Scotch Pines… or maybe a Norway Spruce?” He offers. But I know what I came for and I’m not leaving without it.

“Ha!” I scoff.  “Not good enough. I want the toughest tree you’ve got,” I say, grabbing my children as I notice them trying to sneak off with a group of Mennonites.

He hesitates, then looks around before leaning in and whispering, “Well, there’s the Blue Spruce, but…” He shakes his head. “Are you sure you want that? Tough branches, but them needles are as sharp as… well, needles.”

Not to be dissuaded, I set my jaw and push up my sleeve. “See this scar? The Great Decorating Debacle, 2006. And this one? 2009. I was putting the star on top. Tree fell over. Lost seventeen ornaments that day…let’s just say I’ll never use a stepladder again.”

I see fear in his craggy blue eyes… and something else. Respect, perhaps? A few seconds later, he relents.

“Across the creek. At the second row of trees turn left. And…good luck out there,” he murmurs.

“Onward, family! The trees be yonder! Prepare to come about!” I shout, adding an “Arrrggghh!” and a  squint for good measure.

“Um, since when are you Scottish? And a pirate?” My husband asks. Ignoring him, I grab the proffered saw and sled and we plunge into the wilderness.

After an hour, we locate the Holy Grail: A tree we all like.  “That’s a twelve footer!” my husband says in awe. “Twelve and a half,” I say with authority. Sawing commences, and we load our trophy onto the sled to drag it back. It takes twenty minutes to lash the enormous tree to the roof of the car.

But as the leviathan on top of the car creaks and strains all the way home, I realize it might be time to face the inevitable truth.

I think we’re gonna need a bigger minivan.

Anti-Valentines: My Latest Million Dollar Idea

While I am taking an unwilling  break from blogging, please enjoy this festive Valentine’s post that originally ran last year.  

 

Sadly, after the kids left preschool, these adorable anthropomorphic plums were never able to find work again.

Sadly, after the kids left preschool, these adorable anthropomorphic plums were never able to find work again.

 

Apparently, sixth grade is the cut-off for school Valentines. Lucy told me, in no uncertain terms, “Bleccchh. No way am I bringing Valentine cards to school.” No ambiguity there. She wanted to bring candy, though. Apparently that is still within the realm of social acceptability for kids her age. So we trotted out yesterday in search of lollipops. She selected a box from the conveniently located Valentines display at the front of the store, we paid, and headed for home. We were halfway home when she ripped  open the box and was horrified to find out that the lollipops all had messages on them.

And not just any messages. These were emblazoned with gems such as “I Love You” Kiss me” Be mine” You’re Hot” You’re Cute” “Date me” “Totally Yours”, among others.

“Gaaahhh! What am I gonna do? I can’t hand these out, I’ll never live it down!”  she yelled, fully aware of the social devastation that would most certainly occur. Serious business, apparently, to send the wrong message.

I, of course, was laughing too hard to be of any help.

Industrious girl that she is, when we got home she grabbed a Sharpie and blacked out all unacceptable messages. Y’all, she was as efficient as CBS blacking out Katy Perry’s cleavage at the Grammys. Problem solved.

Note to the Valentines Candy People: You are leaving money on the table! Because unless you’re making expensive, exquisite artisan chocolates, most of your market is elementary school children. And children of this age? Mostly think the opposite sex is “meh”, if not downright yucky.

In that light, might I suggest a different marketing strategy, geared specifically for the 2nd through 6th grade buyer?We’ll call them Anti-Valentines.

Here are my ideas for alternative messages:

“You’re not totally gross.”

“You’re okay, I guess.”

“I’ll sit next to you because I have to. Just don’t talk.”

“Best Friends Forever. Or at least until next week.”

“I like you, but I don’t “like you” like you.”

“You could be worse.”

“You have Cheetos stuck in your braces.”

“Kiss me and I’ll slug you and then tell the teacher.”

“I guess you’d be cute if you weren’t so short.”

“Dad says I’m not allowed to date until I’m 30.” “

“You have nice handwriting.”

“Sometimes you can be kinda funny I guess.”

“You are okay at square dancing. Just try not to touch me.”

 

These will fly off the shelves, I guarantee it. You’re welcome, Candy Manufacturers. You get working on this right away, and I’ll see you next year.

 

Don’t Drink and Style

Don't Drink and Style

 

Dear Klips -n- Kuts  Hair Stylist,

Last Saturday, when I asked my husband to take my son to get a haircut at your establishment, I envisioned a neatly shorn, well-groomed boy returning home. Unfortunately, that was not the sight that greeted me upon his return.

Allow me to explain. My son’s hair is complicated. More complicated than you’d expect a boy’s hair to be, really. His hair is quite thick, and tends to grow forward on the top. What this means, in a nutshell, is that if it isn’t cut exactly right he ends up with… bangs. Perhaps this is my issue, but bangs are simply not a good look for my son. My husband knows the drill, and knows to ask for the Boy’s hair to be cut exactly like his. Thinned out on the top, short in the front, and most importantly, off of his forehead.  Instructions given, my husband committed the cardinal error of going to the waiting area to read a magazine. You, my dear, were left to your own devices. And then? Very bad things happened.

When my husband slunk in the door, followed closely by my very unhappy looking son, I was dismayed, nay horrified, to see my that my son  now looked like this:

 

CC Image courtesy of Insomnia Cured Here  on Flickr

CC Image courtesy of Insomnia Cured Here on Flickr

 

Yep. The only thing missing was the chipped tooth.

“Was the stylist drunk?” I hissed as I surveyed the damage. My poor, sweet  husband just shook his head in stunned silence. My son looked glum.

In addition to the ridiculous straight across bangs, tufts of hair stuck out everywhere all over the back and sides of his head, making his hair look not “cut” so much as “caught in machinery”. And in certain hacked-off places, scissor marks were still visible. Seriously, if I wanted his hair to look this way I would have just handed him  scissors and told him to do it himself.

I wracked my brain to think how this could have happened, and came up with a few possible explanations.

  1. Inspired by Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch Me If You Can”, you decided to wander in off of the street and pretend to be a hair stylist for the day, with no actual training or skill.
  2. All of the scissors were stolen in a bizarre heist  so you were forced to use hedge trimmers.
  3. You attempted to cut my son’s hair while he rode a mechanical bull.

Now, lest you think that since he is only six  a lousy haircut isn’t really that big of a deal, may I remind you that he does have peers. Peers who, although they may not have the vocabulary to articulate the fact that my son now looks like  a cast extra from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, will make fun of him nonetheless.

So against my better judgement I will be bringing him back in, at which time a different stylist, preferably one who hasn’t been doing tequila shots, will fix the mess on his head. For free.

I think we all learned lessons today. I learned that you get what you pay for, so I will be taking my son to a better quality salon in the future. Because two weeks of training at  the Degrees In an Instant Online Beauty Academy really shouldn’t qualify anyone for a career as a stylist. To that end,  might I recommend that you seek a different line of work? Preferably one that doesn’t involve sharp instruments? Because I’m serious when I say that you shouldn’t  be trusted to cut anything ever again. Not even parade confetti.

Sincerely,

A Loving Mother

 

 

 

Mostly Dead All Day: A Tale of the World’s Worst Phone

Notes from the Shallow End

It was a quiet day. Nothing out of the ordinary was happening. I was doing some writing; the dog was licking his own nether regions. You know, the usual.

First, let me say I am always near a phone. I have three kids, and one of my fears is that something will happen to one of them at school, and the school won’t be able to reach me. I’m usually at home during the day, and if I’m out, I have my cell phone with me. Otherwise it’s turned off to save the battery.

But then, somehow my plan went to pieces. My kid got hurt and the school couldn’t reach me.

We have been having problems with the downstairs cordless phone, in that it won’t hold a charge for more than about a minute.  Conversations on it often go like this:

Person: Hello?

Me: Hi, it’s Lisa. I was just calling about the… hello? Hello? Aaaaaggh! Stupid phone!

So most of the time, the phone is nearly dead.  We’re talking gather the relatives, because it’s on life support. And sometimes it’s completely dead.  That means a mad dash up the stairs to grab the second floor handset phone every time it rings. Because it only rings four times before it goes to voice mail. (All of these years and I’ve never been able to figure out to change that. Time Warner, I’m looking at you!)) So I was typing away downstairs, enjoying a delicious second cup of coffee, when the phone rang. By the time I got upstairs, I had missed the call.

“Oh well,” I thought. “If it’s important they’ll leave a voice mail.” And I returned to my hot coffee downstairs. Priorities, right?

But when the phone rang again five minutes later, something told me I should move faster to answer it. I sprinted up the stairs two at a time and grabbed it on the last ring. And Thank God I did. It was my husband, calling to tell me that the school had just called him. It seems my son had fallen, cut his head open on a metal coat hook, and was bleeding profusely. They thought he needed stitches.  My husband, I should mention, was out of town on business.

So my husband, who was in Orlando, had to call me in Ohio to tell me to go to school and pick up my son. And I should mention that the only reason the school was able to reach him is that his morning meeting had been pushed back, otherwise his phone would have been turned off.

The good news is that my son is fine. He got to have a Popsicle in the school office, and when I brought him home and washed the blood off (head wounds… gaaahhhh!) it didn’t look as bad as we thought. He got to spend the rest of the day wearing his jammies and robe, snuggled with me on the couch.

So, phone? You’ve been unreliable for way too long. I hate to tell you this, but you’re fired. Pack up your things and security will escort you out. I’ll be shopping for your  replacement this weekend, because the school couldn’t reach me in an emergency and that is a feeling I never, ever want to have again.

 

Interview with My Kids

Sadly, the bear's suggestion that the dancer take her shirt off, whip it around her head, and yell "Whoooo hooo!" was ignored by the director.

Sadly, the bear’s suggestion that the dancer take her shirt off, whip it around her head, and yell “Whoooo hooo!” was ignored by the director.

 

Okay, business first. It’s Blogger Idol voting time again. The assignment this week was to “write an article about a fictional crime you’ve committed”.  Let’s just say I went to town on a seasonal favorite. And possibly offended an entire segment of the agricultural population. Who knew I had such a dark heart?

The voting is now live, folks. Click here to get to the Blogger Idol page, read my submission, and cast your vote. I’m going to need your help to remain in the contest for another week, because your votes count heavily toward the overall score. If I don’t get enough votes, a trap door will pop open and I’ll slide down the chute to the incinerator just like Veruca Salt.  Do you really want to be responsible for depriving the contest, and the world, of my witticism and mirth? (surreptitiously checks the definition of “mirth”. Um, close enough.) I’ll wait here while you go vote. Take your time.

Okay, did you vote yet? Don’t worry, if you want to read this post first, I understand. I’ll helpfully provide the link again toward the end. I’m a giver.

Now, on to today’s post. Some of you may remember the job interview that I did with my son last year, which took some strange twists and turns. Don’t trust him with the good silver, is all I’m saying. And now, taking my inspiration from bloggers extraordinaire Jenn over at Something Clever , Meredith at From Meredith to Mommy, and Tracy at Crazy as Normal, I’m interviewing my kids about me. I kind of took the Vanity Fair “Proust Questionnaire” and turned it on its ear. The answers were… well, just read for yourself.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Lucy, age 12: Um, probably like, a quiet room where there’s a big bed where you can nap forever.

The Boy, age 6: Me cleaning the whole house? (Based on my job interview post of last year? Not likely to happen.)

Magpie, age 9: Italian dinners. Clean rooms. Everyone not ignoring you when you say, “Clean your room”. And Flowers. And Sleeping.

What is my greatest fear?

Magpie: Spiders? Oh, and stepping in gooshy things.

The Boy: Being attacked by ninjas.

What living person do I most admire? 

Lucy: Me. (The child obviously has no self-esteem issues.)

Question: What is my greatest extravagance?

Kids: ….

What do I spend too much money on? 

Magpie:  Organic things! Fancy perfumes! Plates! (Okay, now you’re just swinging at anything.)

Lucy: Stuff at Whole Foods. (Guilty.)

The Boy: Makeup!

VP: Yes! She spends too much money on makeup! (Note to my husband: Hush. You’re not the one being interviewed, INTERVIEW STEALER!)

What trait do I most deplore in others?

The Boy: I don’t know what that means.

It means name something that other people do that I don’t like.

Lucy: Rudeness.

The Boy: You don’t like it when people take off their shirts and whip them around their head and yell “Whooooo hooo!”

Um, okay. What talent would I most like to have?

Magpie: Spinning plates on your fingers!

Lucy: Singing!

The Boy: Taking your shirt off and whipping it around your head and yelling, “Whooooo hoooo!” (Anyone sensing a theme here, or at least a frat boy in the making?)

Which words or phrases do I most overuse?

Lucy: Bad words.

Magpie: H-E double hockey sticks.

The Boy: Dog Nammit!

Okay, okay, forget that one. What is my most treasured possession?

Magpie: Me!

The Boy: Me.

Lucy: Me. No, your laptop! (Um, the first answer makes me look better, so we’re going with that one.)

What do I consider my greatest achievement?

The Boy: Growing tomatoes!

Lucy: Having children.

E. (family friend): I know, I know! Making  it into that contest thing or whatever it is.

 

Which brings us neatly back around to where we started. I totally didn’t fudge the order of the interview questions to make that happen, either. (Okay, I did. It’s all about flow, people.) If you haven’t already, please take a second to vote for me for Blogger Idol. Because spinning plates on my fingers is not a career option for me, as far as I know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Root Beer Floats and Costco Don’t Mix: A Cautionary Tale

 

Why Root Beer Floats and Costco Don't Mix: A Cautionary Tale

 

This is a tale of two trips to Costco in one day. They were, as you’ll see, radically different.

A good friend called me early one day last week asking if I could take her to Costco on my membership. They were thinking about getting a membership, but hadn’t decided yet. She needed some bulk items for a school function, so I happily obliged. Helping a friend out, plus a morning out sans kiddos? Win/win.

I never get to shop with girlfriends any more, especially during the day, so getting to peruse the aisles unencumbered by children was a special treat. Yes, it was Costco, but  as far as I was concerned it might as well have been Bergdorf’s.  We strolled the aisles at leisure, tried some of  the food samples hawked by friendly and enthusiastic vendors (Oooh! Dark chocolate covered acai berries? Don’t mind if I do!) , pawed through cotton cardigans, tennis skirts, and yoga pants, and did some impulse buying in addition to what was “on the list”. We encouraged each other.  “You should buy that. You deserve it!”

All in all, it was a fun, relaxing morning, and I was glad to be able to help out a friend and have some girl time, even if it was just to Costco. Hey, you take what you can get, right? (Okay, fine. I have no life. Help me.)

When I skipped in the door, as delighted as if I had been at the spa, for goodness sake, I told VP where I had been. He immediately said, “So, did you get the snacks for the game tomorrow?”

Oops.

Seems we were on the schedule to be snack parents for the next morning’s soccer game, and I had forgotten.

I quickly perused the pantry. Surmising that handfuls of rotini pasta and Dixie cups of tap water wouldn’t be kid-pleasers, I came to the sinking realization I’d have to go back. Yup. Costco twice in one day.

And since I had promised my kids that I’d take them for root beer floats after school, and the root beer stand is close to Costco, guess what? You got it. All of the kids were coming with me.

Hahaha! After they’d all had buckets of soda and ice cream! Hahahahaha! Ha.  Blerrgghh.

The trip started off like this:

“Yaaaay! Costco! We get to go to Costco!” Bounce bounce bounce. (As an experienced parent, I should have seen through their enthusiasm, and been able to spot the pure sugar rush. Because, hindsight.)

And then it turned into this:

“Let’s push each other in the carts!”

“Let’s race each other in the carts!”

“Can I ride under the cart?”

“Look Mom!” (Holds up industrial size box of Chee-Zee Bacon -n-Biskit Taco Nuggets) “Can we please buy this? Please please please?”

“Oooh! What’s that?” They raced from one food sample to the next, stuffing microwaved, bite-sized preservative bombs into their pie-holes.

It’s no wonder they didn’t want to eat dinner later. The amount of processed crap they ingested could feed a developing nation for months.

All in all, it was akin to shopping with monkeys. But we weren’t finished yet. Oh no.

We finally paid, and headed for the exit where the guy pretends to check each item in the cart against the receipt.  Three “mmmm-hmm”s and a smiley face drawn out of highlighter later, we headed for the parking lot, with me shouting my usual warning to my son about not running into the parking lot by himself.

I didn’t need to bother though, because his attention had been diverted by the pole he decided to climb on the way out. At the top of which he got the toe of his shoe wedged in a crack in the wall. So he slid back down the pole, but with one leg on the ledge below him and the other leg pointing upwards, rendering him stuck in a very impressive splits position. I quickly made a note to call Cirque De Soleil and ask if they’re taking on junior members.

Alas, this impressive feat also put him in the death defying (or just icky) position of being precariously suspended over a garbage can. (Wait! Forget Cirque De Soleil, call David Blaine!) So before his shoe came unstuck and he fell bottom first into other people’s refuse, I plucked him from the pole and carried him to safety. (Insert  ”keeping my kid off the pole” jokes here).

I quickly loaded everyone in the car and drove home, relieved that no one had knocked down a display of Authentik Hawaiian Style Chikin  Niblets, or cracked their head open, or fallen into a garbage can.

Something tells me they don’t have this problem at Bergdorf’s.

 

 

All the Pioneers Really Needed Was a Good Cabernet

View of the lake

 

There was a book written a few years back called The Last Child in the Woods. I haven’t read it yet, but I love the title. It speaks to me. And anyway, I’m happy to say the last children  in the woods just may be mine. Okay, that came out wrong. Anyone else picturing my kids as Hansel and Gretel? Just me? Okay.  As I’ve mentioned, our kids are outdoorsy types already. They play outside way more than inside. And every summer, for two weeks, we’re “unplugged”, so to speak.

Our vacation destination each summer is a cabin deep in the north woods of Michigan. Kind of like camping, except with electricity and indoor plumbing. If you know me, you know I don’t “rough it”, so this is as close to camping as I get. Which is to say not at all.  Anyhow, the place has no TV reception,  and no internet connection.  I’ll let that sink in for a minute. No. Internet. Connection.  It’s never bothered me much before. There’s something calming and transformative about disconnecting from everything going on in the world.

I know, I know, two weeks doesn’t sound like much. But for us, it’s a step in the right direction. It lets our kids know that they can live without the electronics, that the world isn’t going to come to an end if they haven’t seen the latest Instagram of someone making a duckface or Youtube video of a kitten sneezing.

Ever gone on a vacation to a place where you’re disconnected to the outside world? It’s strange to re-emerge after a couple of weeks  and hear about things that happened two weeks ago that are already old news to everyone else, but are new to you. “You didn’t hear about that? Have you been living under a rock?” Well, as a matter of fact I have, in a way. Not under a rock, but in a log cabin in the woods, Thoreau-style except with killer iced coffee and some fabulous wine and cheese that we picked up from Zingermans on the way. Please. I’m not a heathen.

And I usually don’t have a problem being away from the internet. But wait… I’m doing this blogging thing now. Don’t I need to be connected? What if I miss something? And there’s a royal baby on the way! A babieeeee! I’m gonna miss the 24/7 news coverage of the birthin’ ! And Lindsay Lohan is probably gonna be  released from rehab early, upon which she is going to… drumroll please…  attend her own birthday party.  Oh, the shenanigans  that will ensue!  If anyone needs to pre-emptively get the lawyers on retainer, it’s her.  Amanda Bynes has been sort of quiet as of late, so she’s primed for another round of Bonkers Pong  any minute!  And I’ll probably  miss all of it. Well, at least I got to have access to the interwebs for the birth of the Spawn of Kim and Douchebucket Kanye. So that was fun.  Okay not really.

Speaking of which, I kind of sort of think the name “North” is cool. And by that I mean it could be worse. But with “West” as a last name? Goes from cool to cruel before you can say “Imma let you finish”.  What the hell were they thinking? Oh, right, I forgot who we’re talking about. Idiots. 

Anyway, the cabin. My great-grandfather built it in the 1920s.  I’ve been going there all my life. My mom has been going there her whole life. My grandfather grew up going there. You get the picture.

It is my rest. It is my sanctuary. It is my place to unplug and disconnect from the world, including celebrity train-wrecks.  And since I fully expect my kids to unplug as well, I’m going to have to set a good example. Probably.  Which means no sneaking peeks at celebrity gossip websites on our rare trips into town. Goodbye Gawker. Ta-ta TMZ. What? This People magazine peeking out from under the cushion? Oh, I bought that back in Ohio before we even crossed the border, so it totally doesn’t count. Shut up.

The rule is the kids aren’t allowed to bring any of their electronic devices. That means no DS, no iPod touch. The adults will have non-functioning  cell phones (no reception in that part of the woods.) The adults will also have laptops, but until we make the twenty minute drive to town (the closest internet connection) the laptops will mostly  function as expensive paperweights.

So yes, my kids will be completely disconnected from computers, TV, and electronics for two weeks. But they’ve been going to the cabin every summer  since they were born. They’re used to it. And they’re not complaining.

They’ll play in the woods, swim in the lake, kayak, fish, catch frogs, and look for wildlife. At night we’ll toast marshmallows, read, and play board games or cards.  Secure on the screened sleeping porch, we’ll fall asleep to the sounds of the forest. (“Did you hear that noise last night? What was that?” Is an oft repeated line in the a.m.). In the morning, we’ll wake up to the chill in the air, the call of the loons on the lake, to the smell of bacon cooking and coffee brewing.  After  the fog on the lake lifts, we’ll spend the rest of the day on the water or lounging lakeside. And our biggest decision will be what kind of sandwich to make for lunch.

I won’t even bring my Nook. I considered it, after all, the point of its purchase was so I wouldn’t have to lug so many books on vacation that they needed their own suitcase. But… there are games on the Nook. Game that my kids are going to want to play if it is available. And my kids all have advanced degrees in pestering.  So, guess what? The Nook will stay at home. I’ll be lugging a stack of good old-fashioned books with me like always. No charger needed.

Full disclosure, though: As I mentioned, I will have my laptop with me, since that’s where I write.  Posting will present a challenge, obviously.  I may have to coordinate posting with going into town for supplies, kind of like the pioneers did.  Er, like they would have done if they had blogs. What? I can compare myself to pioneers or to Laura Engalls Wilder or Thoreau if I want. Just because my clothes aren’t all scratchy doesn’t mean I don’t suffer hardship, too. Once when I was up there I ran out of French Vanilla coffee creamer. That was a rough day, my friends.

Quick favor, though. Can someone just, I don’t know,  send up smoke signals or something  if Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes has a surprise  kid and names it something like  “Scrambled Eggs Haiku”? Because I’m pretty sure even Thoreau would have come out of the woods for that. Happy summer!

 

 

 

I’m a Lot Less Stabby: 11 Reasons Why My Husband Traveling Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

I'm a Lot Less Stabby: 11 Reasons Why My Husband Traveling isn't Always a Bad Thing

If you have read this blog before, you know I have a husband that travels a lot for work, and that it’s no picnic. Well, it could be a picnic, I suppose, but the mosquito-ey kind where Cousin Rita brings her suspect potato salad again and Paul’s future third ex-wife Denise runs around asking everyone to guess “real or fake” before getting drunk on Goebel and trying to dirty dance with a Parks Service employee.

In other words, it makes life briefly interesting but then you kind of want it to be over so you can get back to normal.

We’ve been married for almost fourteen years, and he has always traveled. Sometimes once a month, sometimes a few times a month. It sucks, but you kind of get used to it. Over the years, I’ve learned to look for the silver lining. There is one, if you squint, and kind of tilt your head that way. No, the other way. There. See it?  Some perks of temporarily going it alone include:

I get the whole bed to myself.  I like my space, and it’s kind of nice once in a while to sleep without getting whacked by an errant elbow or knee. And, bonus, I get the middle.

I have full control over the air conditioning. VP didn’t grow up with air conditioning. I did. He doesn’t find it necessary. I do. The temperature of the house will be an ongoing disagreement until the day I can outrace him on my Rascal.

I order a lot more takeout without getting the stink-eye. I enjoy cooking, but somehow cooking for a family of five has taken a wee bit of that joy away. Wheedling complaints along the lines of, “Is there pepper in this? I thought I saw a flake of pepper! I hate pepperrrrr!”  tend to make me stabby. (Please note, this is the children I am quoting. Not my husband. Who incidentally loves pepper.) So when he’s away, and I’m super busy with the kids, ta-da! Look kids, we’re having Indian food!  Everybody wins.

I can have the TV in the bedroom on without VP complaining that it’s keeping him awake. Sleep is very, very important to him. He counts it to the minute. So out of courtesy to Princess Beauty Sleep my husband, I usually don’t have the TV on. When he’s away, however, I catch up on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel, or any other late night shows that I usually don’t get to see.

I can do the laundry. I know, I know, that whole sentence looks like a mistake. But when VP is home, he’s like some kind of laundry ninja. He sneaks upstairs when he knows I’m distracted and grabs the laundry, and before I can stop him he’s already thrown a load in.  “But Lisa”, you say, “Why is that a bad thing? For I would consider it a privilege, lo, a delight, to have a husband that does laundry unbidden!”   My answer is this:  Due to countless past laundry disasters wherein everything was turned pink, the man should never be allowed near a laundering machine of any kind, not even a couple of rocks and a stream.

I know where everything is. Oh yes, he’s quite helpful when it comes to putting stuff away. Just not where anyone can actually find it. (Darling, I love you however the cleats that the Boy needs for his game tomorrow do not go on the basement workbench.)

I can skip showering for a day. I try not to do this when he’s around. Illusion or no, VP seems to be under the impression that I’m some delicately scented flower blossom.  He actually said once, in an amazed sort of way (I assume attempting to be complimentary), “You know something? You never stink.” I didn’t really know what to say to that except, “Uh, thanks, I… guess?” I don’t know what kind of girlfriends he had before me, but by his statement I can only assume that they set a low bar for personal hygiene.  So now, dammit, I have to maintain the aura of non-stinkiness because obviously I am better than all of those other skanks women.

It gives us a chance to miss each other. You know that whole absence makes the heart grow fonder thing? Totally true. The rough edges of those day to day annoyances are smoothed out and blurred, and the petty little squabble that seemed so important a couple of days ago is forgotten.

It means we have new things to talk about. I work from home. VP works from home sometimes too.We know all of the details of what went on during the day, from what we ate for lunch to whether the dishwasher is still making that weird noise. So at the end of the day sometimes we have nothing to tell each other.  When he travels, we catch up with each other on the day’s happenings right before we both turn in for the night. And there are always stories to tell each other when he gets home. And he loves my stories. (Don’t you, Honey. That’s right, nod and smile.)

I can go to Target without getting the third degree.  He wants to know why I am going, what I am going to buy, how much I am planning on spending. Silly, silly man. No woman on the planet sticks to a budget when she goes into Target. That popcorn smell is actually infused with brain-addling chemicals that make you want to spend all of the monies.

Sometimes, I need a reminder that I was once a strong, independent woman.  Before I was married, if something in the house needed to be fixed, I fixed it. If the credit card company made a billing error, I fixed it.  If the car died or got a flat, I… well, I called Triple A. But you get the idea.  Now, I feel like I rely too much on my husband to do things that I can clearly take care of myself. So when he’s away, I’m reminded how capable I really am.  And that is a good thing.

Do you have a husband that travels on a regular basis? I’d love to hear about your silver linings. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to crank the AC down to the “Meat Locker” setting.  Happy weekend, everyone!

 

Psst… I Think the Ants are Plotting Against Me!

"Pop me another cold one, Gladys, while I hitch these here trunks up a couple more notches."

“Pop me another cold one, Gladys, while I hitch these here trunks up a couple more notches.”

 

Happy Wednesday readers!

Today, in the latest edition of Headlines that Aren’t News, “World’s Oldest Person Dies”. Really? Is anyone surprised? The man was 116. Not to sound unsympathetic, but  I’m pretty sure he wasn’t buying the Costco sized supply of toilet paper, amIright? (Oh, and that picture up there is not him,  so you know.) Also, in other non-news, “Kim Kardashian/Kate Middleton/Jennifer Love Hewitt Flaunts Baby Bump”.  Also known as getting dressed and leaving  the house.  Yawn.

Here at Notes from the Shallow End,  finally, finally, pool season has started for me.  I’m comfortably ensconced in my usual watchful spot. Yes:  at the shallow end of the pool. Read a double meaning into that if you like, fine, but I’m taking the rest of the summer to do as little as possible. I have my sunglasses, my flip flops, and a cool drink. What more does a girl need?

Anyhoo, for us, summer means a few things:

Every day someone can’t find their bathing suit. Despite having multiples, they only want the very one that they can’t locate.

Band-aids and Neosporin are the new black.

There is a persistent wet musty smell  in the house, probably originating from  the laundry room. That is because between pool, sprinkler, hose, water balloons, and super soakers, someone or something is  always wet. These children will not fully dry out until mid-September.

“The Ants Go Marching In” becomes no longer a cutsie song, but a threatening dirge fueling my will to do battle with the  insects that insist on invading my kitchen every summer.   Do not be alarmed if you see me whacking randomly with a flip-flop screaming, “Die! Die! Diiiiie!”

We are counting down the days until vacation. And by that I mean, counting down the days until we transfer to another location temporarily so I can just do the same job but with prettier scenery.

This year, we have once again resolved to be very diligent in our efforts to have the children do their summer workbooks. And once again, those efforts  will last about a week. (Oh, hi fourth grade teacher. Would you mind going over how to tell time with my kid just once more? Thanks.)

This is the summer we finally get organized!  Based on past efforts, I also give this a week. Also based on past efforts, I will be emptying this past year’s stuff out of backpacks the night before school starts in August.

That sticky stuff on the floor is definitely melted popsicle.

Saving water at home by having the kids shower at the pool. That’s right, I hand ‘em body wash and shampoo and tell them to go scrub down.  So efficient! (New slogan: Better Living Through Laziness!)

I will be getting creative in all the ways I can serve cold food to my children, so I don’t have to turn on the stove or oven. Trying to make “Cereal Picnic on the Deck Night”  a thing.

How’s your summer going? Hope it’s a good one!

 

It’s Okay, Fructose Kills Germs

Summer is here, and children ‘round these parts are aglow with entrepreneurial spirit.  They have warm weather, free time, and a hankering for cold hard cash. And because I apparently live in the 2013 version of Mayberry,  except without sidewalks or Aunt Bea, their ambition translates into lemonade stands. And the customers come. Because who doesn’t want a  warmish paper cup of sugar, fructose, and citric acid on a blistering hot day?

Lest you think these kids are just throwing these juice-slinging pop-ups together willy nilly, I have to tell you there are apparently rules. An unwritten code of conduct, if you will, that I have observed. Seriously, I’m like the Jane Goodall of suburbia.  So I’ve jotted down some of my observations to help your kids have the best lemonade stand ever.

  1. Competing lemonade stands in the same neighborhood, in the same day, are a no-no. Like some kind of lemonade mafia, once a territory is staked out for the day it’s yours. The other neighborhood kids will dutifully hand over their fifty cents, and you will hand it right back to them tomorrow at their lemonade stand. There are quarters that haven’t left this neighborhood in ten years.
  2. Disregard all directions for lemonade powder to water ratios, and wing it. As long as customers get the essence of lemonade, it’s fine.
  3. Homemade sign hastily scribbled with a sharpie is essential.
  4. Despite what is written on the sign, yell random prices at potential customers. “50 cents or a dollar!”, “Fifty dollars!” or “Six-hundred and sixy dollars and three hundred cents!” are all acceptable if you’re six and unfamiliar with the basics of currency.
  5. Shout loudly at all passing cars, even ones containing people that have already bought lemonade. If they accelerate and look frightened, it’s just because they’re not used to such enthusiasm. Feel free to chase them down the street.
  6. Remember: It takes at least eight children to run a lemonade stand. All must be hopping up and down and don’t forget the shouting.
  7. Does the customer want ice? Make sure to pick up ice with unwashed, bare hands. If germs think they’re taking the summer off, they are wrong.
  8. Everyone pays, even the parent who purchased said lemonade at Costco in the first place. Practice saying the following to your thirsty parent: “No dinero, no drinky, deadbeat.” They’ll think it’s cute.
  9. In the entrepreneurial spirit, when out of lemonade raid house for random snacks like granola bars, spotty bananas, and Dixie cups full of goldfish crackers. Because nothing says “refreshing” and draws customers in like a sun-warmed raisin granola bar on a 90 degree day.
  10. When bored, or if the ice cream truck comes, run off and  leave the supervising adult alone at a makeshift lemonade stand with a handwritten sign, looking like a complete tool.

Got it kids? Now, get out there and sell, sell, sell. And remember, you’re doing it right if people can hear you from the next time zone.

Lemonade Stand