Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hold Me

Some bloggy friends have written about their love of all things infomercial. I, too, have the urge to buy things I see on tv particularly when it’s after midnight and I’ve had a Mike’s Hard Lemonade. I find myself wanting to do Yoga Booty Ballet and use “The Bean” for sit-ups.

Since my virgin infomercial purchase of “The Gut Buster” in 1986, I have steered clear of exercise products since I know they don’t operate themselves, but I have purchased the following: The Magic Bullet (B+), Mighty Putty (A), Painting Mouse(B-), and Aqua Globes (C+).

Today I want to tell you about my current favorite product of infomercial fame. I‘ve never seen the actual infomercial, but I’ve heard that the lady who invented them is now a gazillionaire. She’s probably super-annoying, too, but I must say I LOVE the product.

Huggable Hangars! (A+)

About 2 years ago I bought tons of fancy wooden hangers for Tom and me. Our closets looked orderly, but the bloom was soon off the rose because I needed more room.

This may not matter to those of you who live in houses built in the past few decades, but my house is from 1969, and while it’s a step up from the Early American days of a peg on the wall for your bonnet, the closets are still tight.

So, I bought some Huggable Hangars from Target (5 pack for $4.99). The packaging claims that they can help you gain serious space in your closet.

You may be saying, “But don’t the CLOTHES determine how much space is taken up, not the hangars?” Yeah, I know. Well, apparently not, because my closet instantaneously grew.

If you look at the pic of Tom’s closet (wooden hangars) you’ll see 50-60 garments. Look at mine-- also 50-something articles of clothing. Sorry I didn't tidy up the rest of my closet for you. Keeping it real. Keeping it real.

See all that extra space? That’s new.

Also, nothing, absolutely nothing, falls off these things. From a heavy winter coat to a strappy tank, all clothes stay put. Okay, now that I've written “strappy tank” I sound like a commercial myself.

Just wanted you to know of my latest love—Huggable Hangars. I'll probably never order them off the infomercial (shipping costs!), but I like to throw a pack in my cart when I go to Target.

Now I have the urge to go shopping and fill up some of that new found closet space. Too bad they don’t work for shoes.

What infomercial product do YOU have a hankering for?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Take My Word for It

I was reading a popular blog a few days ago and was surprised to find out that several of her posts had been stolen by another blogger. We’re not talking about a similar turn of a phrase here. Nope. It was outright plagiarism down to the last word and idea. Only the names had been changed. Ick.

This got me thinking about bloggy plagiarism. I mean, most of us blog for ourselves as a creative outlet. Is there THAT much pressure to perform that someone needs to troll the Internet for someone else’s anecdotes on daily life?

I mean we’ve all seen renowned journalists throw away their careers under pressure to come up with the perfect story, the perfect quote, or the perfect source. We’ve seen military men pad their resumes and college presidents be exposed as frauds claiming to have degrees that they don’t.

But bloggers?

I would like to think that if blogging becomes so pressured for us to produce that we can’t even fashion posts about our own lives, with our own words, we would step back and evaluate whether we needed to refocus on living life instead of writing about it.

Later on that same day I was reading a post by a favorite new blogger when I saw that she mentioned hiding from her kids in her bathroom. She also remarked how after a hard day with her children, she was glad she wasn’t the subject of a Dateline special. I felt all weird inside.

These were my sentiments exactly! I’ve talked about this before-- how I spent a good portion of my kids’ toddlerhood holed up in my bathroom pounding a diet Pepsi and wishing away their childhoods.

And Dateline? How many times had I said this very thing? My next question was, would I ever be able to blog about these matters, or would I, too, be considered a plagiarizer? Why hadn’t I blogged about it BEFORE I read her blog?

Or, is the whole hiding in the bathroom thing a universal aspect of motherhood such as thinking soccer trophies are stupid or realizing that our kids can be annoying?

What about saggy boobs? If I refer to my breasts as looking like a marble in a tube sock will I be the only one? Lord, I hope not. And my fave new blog’s awesome blog title? Stretch Marks!!! I have stretch marks! Is that copying??

I must admit a crippling sense of responsibility in dealing with similar questions throughout my life. Upon first learning about plagiarism in grade school, my desire to cite all my sources bordered on the obsessive.

In fact, I remember worrying that if my writing sounded far too advanced, my teacher would not think it original. Not much of a risk there for my 9 year old self, but I was concerned.

I also recall writing a report on the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands. In one of the school encyclopedias I found this priceless nugget: the giant tortoise would urinate on her own eggs. I remember being titillated by this fact and eager to include it in my endangered species report (are they still endangered?).

However, when the time came to put pen to paper, I couldn’t find the page number in any of the encyclopedias, so I reluctantly left the fact off my report. To this day I’ve wonder whether the whole urination thing was a figment of my imagination. Never mind, just Googled it—it’s true.

In case you don’t think I was odd enough as a child, this was about the same time of life that I saved all of my movie ticket stubs.


Nope. I wanted to have proof of my whereabouts should I, as the wayward child that I wasn’t, be accused of any heinous crime. “No, officer, I was not involved in that stick-up at the First American bank at 3:45 on Saturday; I was at the mall seeing ‘For the Love of Benji’ and I can PROVE it!”

But I digress. Some days I feel like blogging, so I do. Some days I’ve got nothing to say, so I don’t. Some days I probably shouldn’t blog, but I do anyway. Hello? A picture of the can of beans we ate for dinner last night? Sorry.

It would be easy to read the tippy-top blogs and feel insecure enough to want to be just like them. Maybe that’s what happened to the plagiarizer, whose blog, thank goodness, is no longer on the Internet.

I guess I just want to thank you for reading! Writing this blog is pure fun, and although I may lament not being as deep or as funny as some of my favorite bloggers, I don’t feel the need to be someone I’m not. Unless that person has perky breasts and no stretch marks, that is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dinner when Tom is Out of Town:

1 can black beans
1 can corn

Cheese, sour cream, and heating in the microwave: optional.

Oh yeah, we also had Slurpees from 7-11, purchased with a credit card.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bad Decision

Okay, so if you picked the slowest line at Costco at lunchtime and you are standing there growing older and hungrier by the second as your frozen food melts…you may decide to rip open a 3 lb bag of “Dried Plums” aka PRUNES and gorge yourself on them.

Please don’t.

Chicken Pudding was Yucky, but Lisa G. is Lucky!

Congrats Lisa G. for winning the very first An Inch of Gray giveaway. A $15 Starbucks card is coming your way!

Okay, I did try to give away my weird black sweater back in February but no one was interested.

Colonial Day went well. Half the class liked my dish, half hated it, and the fruit of my loins refused to try it. No big surprise there. The photos are being held hostage on my broken camera, to be shared at a later date, but it wasn’t too appetizing to look at anyway.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The SAG Awards

It's 11:30 pm and I just took the Chicken Pudding out of the oven. It looks gross and I think I may have overcooked it a tad since I was too engrossed in blog reading to check on it. This is not the first time I've mixed blogging and burning.

Anyway, not sure if my poor kid will be kicked out of Colonial Day when I show up with this crap. Also not sure if it will reheat well or be even worse tomorrow, but I wasn't about to wake up at the crack of dawn to COOK. That's not my M.O.

I need a good laugh right now, and perhaps you do too, so I'll pass along what my nephew said to my dear sister this morning:

"Mom, why, when you wake up, do your boobs hang down to your belly button, and then by the time you go to work, they are back up there?"

Why indeed? Hydraulics my dear, hydraulics.

If you haven't entered my Starbucks gift card giveaway, make sure you do by 3 pm Friday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Inch of Gray Giveaway

Since I’m going to be busy the next few days figuring out how to make CHICKEN PUDDING, I thought I’d do a quick giveaway instead of a long blog post.

What’s in it for you? A $15 Starbucks card! Feel free to tell your coffee-loving friends. If you would like to link to the giveaway, even better, and you’ll get an extra entry!

Just comment with the words,“I love Chicken Pudding” by Friday at 3 pm. By that time, Colonial Day will be over and we’ll all be coasting toward the weekend.

Underdogs Unite!

UnderdogsUniteI almost typed Underdogs "Untie!"-- which would have been quite the Underdog move to do.

For those of you who are old enough to have enjoyed the old cartoon as much as I did, I hope you'll get a kick out of seeing this little guy in my sidebar.

My friend Kate from The Big Piece of Cake created a site for those of us who may not be at the top of everyone's list or even always at the top of our games, but who keep writing, and who keep showing up.

We are people who love to blog and who appreciate YOU every time you stop by. Kate suggested I join after she read of my delusions of grandeur last week.

Having gone to an Underdog high school and then returned to that same school to teach, I have always had a soft spot for Underdogs-- in sports, in history in dating, in life.

When a former boyfriend met Tom shortly after Tom and I started dating and said haughtily to me, "He just doesn't seem to be Anna See material," --whatever the heck that means-- ding! ding! ding! my Underdog radar went off and that ex did more to help win Tom this fantabulous example of womanhood than he will ever know.

If proclaiming ourselves Underdogs gets us any more recognition in the blogosphere, super, but if not, I'll always be proud to be an Underdog.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't Get Your Undies in a Bunch

I barely ever go to the mall. As a teen I used to scoff at my mom when she said she hated the mall, because I loved the place. Our excursions, however, especially the bra-buying ones, were painful until she got me my own credit card at age 15 and turned me loose. Hard on the family budget, good for our relationship.

These days I avoid the mall because of the parking, the crowds and the excess. However, on the last day of Easter Break I took the kids to the mall to see a movie. Molly seemed to come alive as soon as we walked through the doors. We passed by Victoria’s Secret and I realized I had a gift card for “A Free Panty” that had come in the mail and it wasn't even expired!

I felt torn for several reasons. First of all, I have never, ever owned a pair of panties. Before you get all grossed out at my personal hygiene, I will clarify—I wear underwear, not panties. My mother, God rest her soul, wore underwear. My sister wears underwear, and I am raising an underwear-wearing girl.

I’m not trying to offend any panty-wearers out there. I know I am very much in the minority, but still. The word panty just doesn’t work for me. Kind of like “slacks.” I wear pants, not slacks. And here’s a bonus: I go pee, not tinkle. Never have, never will. These words make me squinch up my face when I say them, at least in my head. I don't think I've ever said them out loud.

Okay, so I felt a little weird clutching my “free panty card” because of my own weirdness about the word, and because I was fully aware of the two impressionable kids who were with me.

But you know how I like free stuff, so I sauntered into V.S. as if it were the most natural place in the world to be with a 7 and 10 year old on a Monday afternoon. We were in for quite a show. The current display was titled: “Cheeky, Cheekier, and Cheekiest!”

All mannequins were decked out with various amounts of cheek showing. The kids’ eyes were like saucers. It was if Opie Taylor and Gomer Pyle had been plopped down in the red-light district in Amsterdam.

I knew I had to act fast, but I was overwhelmed by the colors, the choices, the words proudly splashed across the fronts and, when possible, the backs of each “panty.” I started to sweat. Eventually I found a plain gray cotton pair and headed to the register.

The kids had started to process, and they began to share their thoughts. Jake’s comment on the 10 foot high boobalicious photo on the wall: "I think it’s inappropriate for that lady to be standing in the middle of her garden in her underwear.” Yes, underwear. Good boy.

Molly’s thoughts: “This place seems really weird, but I can see myself loving it as a teenager.” Great.

I was in line forever when the salesMAN said to me. “You’re going to kill me, but the FREE PANTY (loud!) needs to be black or white.”

I hissed in my quietest hiss possible: “Look, I have 2 little kids here who have seen enough mannequin butt to last a lifetime. Make it work.” And he did.

The whole rest of the way to the theater, I felt guilty for dragging them in there. Were they scarred for life? Did I just sell out my kids to save $7.50 on "panties" (aargh!) that will probably ride up anyway?

No fear. Even if we’d never graced V.S.’s walls, we still had to walk by Abercrombie and Fitch with a 12 foot photo of a bare chested young man with his hand down the front of his pants. Not to be confused with the GUESS store next door: Shirtless man and woman kissing, with HER hand down HIS pants.

A few minutes later, we asked a nice young woman for directions to the elevator, except she turned out to be a “HE,” a fact not lost on the kids.

The movie may have been PG, but the mall was PG-13. I guess you won’t blame me for eating a purse full of candy during the movie to settle my nerves.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Keeping Psycho Anna at Bay

Well, my dear sweet in-laws left a few minutes ago after a nice Easter weekend. The weather was good, the kids had a wonderful time with their grandparents, we ate great meals, and my in-laws were their kind and helpful selves. My FIL even made a serious dent in the To-Do list on the fridge, and my mother in law sewed on buttons for me!

I am pleased to tell you that Psycho Daughter-in-law Anna stayed away for the most part.

There were several examples of this such as my blood not starting to boil and my not wanting to poke out my frontal lobe with an ice pick during any number of conversations about coffee, wine, health food, golf, tennis, and how to pronounce the word "Pulaski."

This morning presented the most striking evidence that Psycho Daughter-in-law Anna was not in the building.


In-laws Said: "Well, Good-morning, Anna!"

Anna Heard: "Thanks for finally dragging your lazy butt out of bed and gracing us with your presence, Princess! Do you really think it's fair to sleep all day while our beloved son cooks, cleans, tends to the children AND earns a living supporting you and all of your profligate habits? All of our lives we hoped our baby would find someone with our New England Work Ethic and he has to go and find a southerner, and a protestant, who doesn't exercise, can't tell the difference between a flavanoid and a free radical and has about as much gumption and self-control as that disgusting Bill Clinton!"


In-laws Said: "Well, Good-morning, Anna!"

Anna Heard: "Well, Good-morning, Anna!"

Whew. Now can I please take my lazy butt and go back to bed?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Taking a Shine to This

I bought a tarnished champagne bucket at the thrift store because, you know, we drink so much champagne around here.

It was only $6.75, so of course I had to have it. Then I bought a half sphere of floral foam. I wanted a whole sphere, but it was $12. As Jake said, "the big one looks a little better, but you'll probably get the cheaper one." How true. Half a ball means half the price.

Some green moss and hot glue later, I had an elegant moss ball. What home is complete without one? I got out the silver polish, but I think I may just go with old and tarnished. Thoughts?

Jake, Molly and Tom think the concept of a moss ball is weird. This is usually a good sign.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Passive, Meet Aggressive

Numerous readers, okay 3, have asked for a follow-up on Tom’s utter inability to deviate from whatever plan he has in his head. I’ll try to keep this brief, since writing about it tends to make me re-live these moments and I get mad all over again. Not good for either of us, you know?

The White Faucet Incident:

In our old house, the kitchen was about 5 ft x 8 feet, the size of a modest hall bathroom. Tom’s dad was visiting and he helped jazz it up a bit by adding a new laminate countertop and a porcelain sink. I was taking care of a newborn and a toddler, so “the guys” went to Home Depot to pick out our new faucet. Well, those two brought home a $150 faucet with a dandy pullout spray. The problem was, they had chosen function over form.

Function over form? Who did they think they were dealing with? That thing looked like a cheap plastic piece of crap to me. With very few square feet in my oppressive little kitchen, I knew the power of a gorgeous stainless steel gooseneck faucet to cheer me in the mornings. This white plastic jobbie had the opposite effect.

Instead of waiting until after it was installed to tell Tom I hated it (I had learned this lesson after the Pillow Top Mattress Debacle), I pulled him aside and quietly told him it was not to my taste. Tom’s response: “We already bought it. It’s going in.”

Tom didn’t want to hurt his father’s feelings by questioning his taste— my father in law of short-shorts and tube socks fame—so he chose not to do anything. He also didn’t want to go back to Home Depot. And, I suppose he didn’t want me to look crazy, or demanding. Well, any guy with a brain should know that I could unleash all kinds of crazy if forced to live with that ugly faucet. And I did.

P.S. Now Tom’s dad and I go to Home Depot and leave Tom at home.

The $5,000 Carpet Stain:

When we moved 6 years ago—from a 1950’s house to a 1960’s one—I worked my tail off getting ready to move. That tiny house looked like a Pottery Barn Catalog when I was finished staging it to sell. Tom and his dad worked on the heinous outside chores, which sparked The Lead Paint Meltdown of 2004, of which I am not yet ready to write.

I stuck to the inside, decluttering, painting, re-arranging, and trying to make it look like no kids lived there. I packed box after box to move out of the house prior to showing it, so it wouldn’t look like the shoebox that it was.

The upside of all of this work was that I got down to 118lbs for the first AND LAST time since I was a junior in high school. Such was the short-lived benefit of all that stress. The night before the open house, when I still had a million things to do, I handed Tom a can of Resolve and asked if he would spray the stain at the bottom of the stairs. Nope. We’d done enough, he reasoned. If these people didn’t like our house the way it was, then they should just get over themselves.

Fortunately, it was a sellers’ market, as seen by our strange, strange experience getting into a bidding war with an ex-boyfriend on our new house two weeks prior.

Our open house was on Mother’s Day, in the rain, and still the offers came in. The only problem our agent encountered? That stain on the carpet. It frightened several buyers away because they feared we had water in our basement. He posited that the stain cost us about 5 grand. After the open house I sprayed it with Resolve. 15 seconds later, the stain was gone.

And a bonus:

The Wii Resistance:

On Dec 26 two Christmases ago, when Wii’s were harder to come by than a Cabbage Patch Doll in the 80’s, I got a call from my sister, who lives 5 hours away. “Anna, I’m standing in Wal-mart holding 2 Wii’s. Do you want me to buy one for your family?”

I turned to Tom, who responded in a quiet and confused voice: “But Christmas is OVER.” I thought of this inflexible remark in the ensuing weeks as I made daily pilgrimages to The Game Stop in an attempt to buy our son a Wii for his March birthday. Tom never retracted his "Christmas is OVER" stance and acted like he enjoyed camping out in the cold at Best Buy to finally snag one before Jake's big day. Note: Tom did not use the same “Christmas is OVER" reasoning when procuring a large screen t.v. for himself-- I mean the family this January 2nd.

Okay, now I’ve gotten myself into a lather all over again remembering these incidents and others. Does that happen to you? Tom tried to get frisky last night, but I kept thinking about this blog and I got all hot and bothered, and not in a good way.

So I’m wondering, when does venting become re-hashing? Tom, please do not answer this question. If I get comments telling me what a jerk Tom is, does that help my cause or hurt my marriage?

Would this blog benefit or suffer if I wrote more posts about how kind, shy, H-O-T-T , and hardworking Tom is, and that he’s a great provider and an awesome dad? Would that be lame? I know that’s not what I’m interested in reading as I sit in front of my screen in my comfy pants.

What about you? Do you want to read that stuff, or as a blogging community, are we more of the, “If you have nothing nice to say about anyone, come sit next to me” ilk?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Must NOT Deviate: Or, The Pot Calling the Kettle Clint Black

Clint Black almost got kicked off “The Celebrity Apprentice” last night for his inability to deviate from a plan, even when it was obviously tanking. His laser-like focus prevented him from taking into account anyone else’s perspective. I looked over at Tom at key points, because my beloved husband is also not a frequent “deviator.” Is that a word? He’s certainly not surly or self-righteous like Clint Black was. But still.

I had hints of this very early on. On our first date, he took me to a charming combination Café/Bookstore. He knew the English major in me would love this. However, we didn’t get there until after my shift at Blockbuster, and the place was beginning to shut down.

Two surly waiters, ready to get home, informed us that they only had one item left: Shrimp Lasagna. Rather than taking this as a hint that we should try a different restaurant, Tom asked if I liked shrimp, and when I said yes, settled himself down at the table for the long haul.

You remember first dates, right? The longing looks, the laughter, lingering over a glass of wine, sharing family stories and anecdotes that seem fresh and new with a new person.
I am a people person, meaning that I possess eyes, and the servers’ huffs and puffs and foot tapping were not lost on me, but Tom didn’t notice.

All was going according to plan. After dinner, when he wanted to browse in the bookstore portion of the restaurant, I put my chunky-soled foot down and said we had to leave. It was a beautiful, romantic first date and I ignored the foreshadowing…

Almost 5 years later it was time to get our marriage license. I rushed out of work and met Tom at the county courthouse at the appropriate time. He had been busy with law school, and I was planning a wedding without a mother, in between grading papers and meeting yearbook deadlines. When we got to the license window, the clerk informed us that they accepted cash only.

Tom looked shocked. He looked at me. I didn’t have cash, for I had no intention of purchasing my own marriage license. This was HIS wedding detail to take care of, having figured prominently on his VERY SHORT LIST.

He looked down at the scrap of paper he held in his hand. There, in his very own handwriting were the words: “Marriage License $35 CASH ONLY.” Aargh. He looked crushed. I asked about a cash machine and found out there was one across the rather busy street.

This did not fit in with Tom’s plan. No, he would not go across the street to the ATM. Did not compute.

At that moment, a woman I knew from work entered the building. She was the chair of another department. We said hi while I tried not to glare daggers at Tom. Tom immediately brightened, “Anna, why don’t you ask your friend to lend us the cash?”

First of all, a random colleague is NOT a friend; second, do I really want to expose myself as someone willing to link herself for life with someone who can’t even comprehend simple instructions about how to obtain a marriage license?

But Tom dug in his heels in his happy, ignorant bliss at having found a solution, and I asked my colleague for the money.

I’d like to say these are my only two examples of Tom’s inability to deviate from a plan and my frustration therewith. I won’t go into details about THE WHITE KITCHEN FAUCET INCIDENT or the $5,000 CARPET STAIN at this time, unless, of course, you ask me to.

All I have to say is, Lisa Hartman Black, I feel your pain. And Tom, when you get on the kids’ case for not being flexible, think Shrimp Lasagna.

Thanks for the Memories!

Do you have a memory box? A real or figurative place where you keep memories to pull out as needed? I have several boxes of notes from good friends, family members and former students that I can pull out every once in a while. They remind me of good days, and of moments when I’ve done something well. They remind me that I have indeed tried new things and risen to challenges, aspects of my life I forget when faced with something new.

Well, today I got something wonderful for my figurative memory box. A former student wrote about me on her new blog. She’s one of the special girls I had in English and yearbook class—my partners in staying up late, pigging out, telling embarrassing stories about myself and meeting deadlines.

Sometimes it felt like the only things separating me from the students were my huge shoulder pads and my teacher-like walk. My first yearbook editor was 18 to my 23 years old and she pulled me through my first year on the job.

I got a bit of a rep as a young teacher for favoring the girls, and between my love of teaching Jane Austen and my realization that becoming super-close to teenage boys was NOT a good idea, I guess they were right. After all, we had a few incidents of Mary Kay Letourneau-like behavior at our school, and I certainly wasn’t up for that sort of thing.

More importantly, however, I loved teaching these young women and watching them mature because I saw them as much better versions of myself. Did I work on the yearbook when I was in high school? No way. Too much work. I was afraid it would cut into my social life.

So you can imagine how impressed I was by these young girls, these leaders, who took on so much responsibility. I loved seeing them go from giggling 9th or 10th graders, to seniors with one foot out the door into the world. By the end of senior year, they weren’t sharing as much info with me as they had been, and it reminded me of the growth, separation, and some secrecy that marked the spring of my senior year.

Now they are all grown up, in their late 20’s to mid-30’s and I have the honor of keeping up with them as peers through blogging and Facebook. I’ve gone from Ms. See to Anna.

I attended a funeral today, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’ve made any difference in anyone’s life, as the wonderful woman who died most certainly did. To receive today’s timely addition to my memory box was a wonderful gift. Thanks, ELowman!

What do you do to remind yourself of your braver, stronger self? Is it a letter, a photo, or maybe a comment on your blog?

Friday, April 3, 2009

I So Deserve This, Part II

Okay, so I need to amend my earlier post about my Colonial Day food assignment. I told you I had to make Chicken Pie.

I read it wrong, perhaps because at least Chicken Pie, or a pot-pie, is in my realm of comprehension. But NO, my assignment is "Chicken Pudding." I feel so much better now.

I So Deserve This

It’s that time of year: class parties, sports practices, field trips, and “theme days.” At my very best, I do a fairly shoddy job at all of these things. And as you may recall, I’ve put myself on probation from all class parties because I become a raving lunatic. Other people’s kids irritate me, and I find myself shrilly lecturing them on baby Jesus’ sacrifice rather than keeping my mouth shut and handing out the juice boxes.

I try my best to costume my children for theme days, but both kids have admitted the results are spotty at best. I thought the King Tut costume I made with felt and a glue gun looked great, until I saw Cleopatra, Ramses, and the others.

The gecko I made was adorable—Hello? Ping-pong balls for eyes? A tail that attached and detached with Velcro? It was my crowning moment of motherhood, but Molly dismissed it saying she looked, “too cute.”

Birthday presents? Not so hot at those either. And tell me you’ve noticed that just like a bunch of spring lambs, there are many, many kids born this time of year. I feel like every time I turn around, it’s time to buy another gift. My kids frequently receive $25-30 gifts from peers at birthday parties, so the $10 I spend “Looks cheap-y Mom.”

Teacher gifts? I do better at this, chipping in for the collective cash gifts that make life easier. I don’t try to get creative or clever—still smarting these 30 years later from when my mother handed my teacher a pineapple—A PINEAPPLE! As a gift. I thought I would die.

Sooo, I’m skipping the kids’ Easter parties today (yes, at private school you can call it Easter), but I need to gear up for Colonial Day right around the corner. The fact that the costume I throw together will be crap is a given.

But yesterday we received the list of food to bring for the feast. Now I’m usually very lucky, and I get assigned something like “corn” or “plastic spoons.” I looked with pity on my friend Karen when she had to roast a whole turkey last year and have it delivered to the school by 11 a.m. She lamented the fact that she was out $50; I secretly wondered how she drew the short straw.

This year’s list has some nice and easy items like “drinks” or “bread of your choice.” I’d like you to look at what I’ve been assigned. Yep. "Chicken Pie." With 2-page recipe attached from the “American Girl Felicity Cookbook.” It’s no secret that my kid has been acting up in class lately. A lot. Touché, Mrs. Roberts, touché. I was a teacher for 7 years. I would have given me the Chicken Pie, too.