Thursday, July 30, 2009

You're Going to Have to Take My Word For It: Not Another Decorating Post, Really.

Okay, you know I spent my weekend spray painting anything that wasn’t nailed down. I haven’t even shown you this before and after yet-- using my favorite new shade of blue:

So, imagine my surprise when I drove through the next neighborhood over and saw this on a fence:

I just want to state for the record:

I like spray paint.

I like aqua.

I am a fan of peace.

But I have not nor do I ever plan to venture into the world of graffiti art/ vandalism.

I was at home communing with Lifetime TV when this crime occurred. You can just ask…

Oh yeah, I was home alone.

You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Peace Out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shrugalicious-- No Sewing Involved


Here’s another project for Do-It-Yourself Day at A Soft Place to Land.

Since I spent most of the summer recovering from being dragged by the dog, I had to wear long sleeves to keep my wounds out of the sun. Problem was, it was painful to pull long sleeved shirts over my head. Once again, my Do-It-Yourself project was really done by someone else, this time my fabulous sister.

She took a long sleeved Old Navy shirt of mine, sliced it right up the front hem to collar, then cut it short around the back leaving 2 long tabs in the front. She didn't even use my nice scissors. Instant shrug! It was much easier to take on and off than a regular shirt, and when I washed it, it didn’t fray. It just got a little curled around the edges, which I like.

My arm is much better, but I still like my little shrug. It makes me feel very Flash Dance-y or Fame-y or even a little Yoga-ish.

Be sure to check out the other projects at Kimba’s place!

Sponge Worthy?

I have the nose of a bloodhound. Yes, mine is a little longer and pointier than your average dog, but it is equally effective. This is why Tom and I are engaged in our most recent domestic disagreement. He doesn’t realize we are having a disagreement, but we are.

It concerns The Sponge.

Not the Elaine Benis/ Seinfeld type of sponge, but your average nasty kitchen sponge. I’d prefer to use a scrub brush, paper towel, or even my bare hand to clean dishes rather than use an old kitchen sponge. Tom, however, uses a sponge and remains oblivious to the fact that it is rank, foul, moldy and generally offensive.

Much in the same way a man can’t seem to wake to the sound of a crying baby in the night, my husband’s nose does not notice the smells that abound in a house. The moment I walk through our door, my senses are affronted by odors. It is a blessing. It is a curse.

It usually takes about .3 seconds for me to root out the offender. Sometimes it’s an errant cantaloupe, icky kitchen trash, dog crap or an occasional dead mouse, but the culprit is usually a stinky sponge.

I try to buy new sponges often. I wash them in the dishwasher. I squeeze them out and leave them in the special tilt-out sponge drawer to dry. But in the summer, in the south, is it really possible to keep a sponge from stinking?

And, when your partner in life cavalierly tosses said sponge into the wet grossness of the sink to await its next use, is there really any hope a sponge will dry out?

Multiple times I have come downstairs to see a sponge floating amid dirty dishes and greasy food. It would NEVER cross my mind to pick up this sponge, with ground meat stuck to it, and use it to clean the dishes, but Tom thinks this is fine.

Tom, I suppose, believes that because a sponge is an implement of cleanliness, it must therefore be clean…as if its mere identity ensures its purpose in life will be fulfilled.

I know, I know. I should be happy that someone else is helping with the dishes. I’ve been told as much by an unnamed source. But Tom’s list of marriage needs read, “CLEAN COUNTERS” and said nothing about a dish-free sink. With the kids home with me all day this summer, I have let the dishes pile up more than usual and have been VERY happy that Tom will step in and do them.

While he may say he is “doing the dishes,” I will posit that he is “doing some dishes,” because a lot of eating and cleaning up and starting all over again transpires while he’s at work.

But the sponge, the sponge?? Must we use a stinky sponge? Before you get all, “Anna is such a mean wife,” or “Poor Tom,” on me, let me tell you that Tom recently instructed me on the proper way to scrape the peanut butter off the knife before placing it in the dishwasher.

There’s enough anal-retentiveness for everyone here at Casa See.

Anyway, I don’t know how to wrap this up, other than to say…I think I smell something coming from the washing machine. Off to investigate.

Bonus Treat, although still painful to watch:

Elaine Benis doing the “Elaine Dance” on Seinfeld.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh the Humanity!

Remember when I said I'd had too much alone time, I was a people person, and I had to get out of the house and be with the masses? Well, I went to Costco yesterday (on a Sunday afternoon!) and I'd like to retract my previous statement.

Thank you.

Bonus image: Watching a lady try to eat her free sample fruit roll-up without removing the plastic wrap.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vintage Train Cases

Rhoda over at Southern Hospitality gives readers a chance to show off their Thrifty Finds on Mondays. Here are mine:

I snagged these 2 vintage train cases seconds before my friend Theresa swooped down to get 3 or 4 more. I guess someone donated a slew to the thrift shop in one day. Cost: $1.50 each.

I thought they would be fun to put on the stairs to catch the assorted junk that piles up there. Realistically, they’ll remain open, because if they close, I’ll forget to carry things up. And when I say “I,” I mean it, because the other members in my household have no concept of carrying stuff up the stairs.

If I’m going to do the work, I might as well enjoy looking at these train cases while I do it.

Home Alone

So while many of my blogging friends were whooping it up at a little convention called BlogHer, I was having alone time.

Tom took the kids to Cleveland for the weekend to see family. I initially thought I had to work this weekend and couldn’t go, but when I realized I didn’t, I decided to stay home anyway.

What I did:

Pedicure! Sure, the only appt I could get was at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, but still.

Dinner and a movie with a friend. “The Ugly Truth” with Katherine Heigl. Raunchy and over the top, but I laughed a TON!

Small home improvement projects like taking the plastic film off the French doors that have been up in my office for 15 months. “I can see clearly now, the film is gone.”

Jaunt to Home Depot for 8 cans of spray paint! It was a spray paint bonanza in the carport. Tables, baskets, knick knacks. Some things look good, some crappy. My fave is this chair, but considering I painted right over the dirt and rust, it won’t look this pretty for long. Immediate gratification, baby!

Cleaned out basement storage area and scoured every drawer and closet in the house to make a towering mountain of yard sale stuff. I hate to think I’ll probably net like $80 on all this stuff, but I hope the house will seem less cluttered. Whatever doesn’t sell, I’ll donate to my favorite thrift shop and probably be tempted to buy back again. Psycho, I know.

Watched several Lifetime movies with very little guilt, oh yes I did.

Started 2 new books.

Cooked and froze lasagna, spaghetti pie and chicken enchilada casserole to try to “get ahead” on meal making. If it has ground meat and cheese, it’s an artery clogging “go” here at Casa See.

Missed church. Am thinking a drawback of working at a church is that worship can start to feel like “going to work.” I’m not thrilled about this development.

What I didn’t do:

Open my briefcase to do any “work work.”



Decide where to send the kids to school next year. Aargh.

What I realized:

Shadow and I generate virtually no laundry. I didn’t do wash the entire weekend. I guess it helps that I sleep in whatever shlubby clothes I wore the day before.

Although it was awesome to have an entire weekend to myself, I need people! I missed my family. I should have scheduled more activities with others. Friday movie night with my friend Jane was energizing and fun, but I found myself getting more and more sluggish as the weekend alone progressed.

And although I felt too insecure to go to BlogHer (jr. high dance, anyone?), I probably would have had a blast.

Tom and the kids just called from the Pennsylvania turnpike, just a few hours from home. The worst part? It'll probably take about 5 minutes before the bloom is off the rose and I'm craving some Alone Time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mr. Right Now

Okay, so I took the plunge. My beautiful new bench is serving as the family room coffee table. He is stunning. I know it might be weird that I’m calling the bench a “he,” especially since it has a little retro-glam thing going on, but I definitely see it as a “he,” albeit quite the pretty boy.

You know the type, loads of looks, but not much substance. The whole bench weighed less that 15 lbs and I could easily carry him in by myself. Does that seem worthy a $500 investment, even if I did use a gift card?

Do you know his type?

He’s high maintenance.

Easily injured.

A bit dangerous (have you ever read the warning label on ScotchGard-- "May affect the central nervous system causing dizziness, headache or nausea...may be harmful or fatal? ")

And the table he’s replacing? Sturdy, solid, dependable, if a bit boring. It took both Tim and me to carry him out of the room and banish him to basement storage. My Old Love was handy—with two drawers for remotes, puzzles and other junk.

He fit our lifestyle, providing a large surface for laundry folding, board games and impromptu performances by the kids. He didn’t show sweat rings from glasses and bottles. He brought us together, as the four of us snuggled on the couch, dirty feet propped up on his back. He fit in with the other practical but not lovely leather furniture. I knew what to expect from him.

I can’t decide what to do with My Old Love. Should I cut him loose so someone else can benefit from his steadfast nature? Someone else would see him as #1, not as a safety date.

I know letting him move on is the right thing to do, and my yard sale is only a week away, but I’d really rather hang onto him for that day when Mr. Pretty Boy fails me, and I need someone I can count on. But is that fair, leaving him waiting in the wings until I tire of the stress and drama of my new Boy Toy?

Because right now, whenever I pass my new bench my heart quickens, oh yes it does. I like the element of sexy sophistication he brings to our house. Beer and nachos? I think not. Cocktails and crudite? Perhaps.

But I know this is not going to end well. That little voice inside me says to dump the $500 Lothario who is only going to cause me anguish and pain. It tells me if it takes this much work to make a relationship work-- the ScotchGard, the “only clear liquids rule,” the popcorn ban-- perhaps it’s not a good fit.

How long will it be before he alienates me from family and friends? Will it become Anna and The Bench against the world? Will I cease to be the fun-loving hostess of the past and instead choose evenings alone with him, intent on keeping our love, or his upholstery, pure?

Please no lectures. I realize this is just a fling. I’ve heard it all before: don’t date someone prettier than you are, stick with what you can count on, substance over style, "does he bring out the best in you?" and so on. Even the cleaning lady has weighed in, unasked, “No good. Too delicate, too beautiful, Miss Anna.” I know what I SHOULD do, what I MUST do, but what I’m choosing not to.

Please do not judge.

Girl’s turning 40 and is looking for a little furniture adventure. I just hope I don’t regret it in the morning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

All Washed Up?

What is it about blond bombshell celebrities that seems so… OLD? Do you know how old Jessica Simpson is? 29. Britney Spears? 27. Pamela Anderson? 42.

I would have guessed their median age to be about 105. And Brooke Hogan, Hulk Hogan’s daughter? 20 years old.

Is it the fact that these women are so overexposed, literally and figuratively, that makes me feel like they should be pushing 50 at least? When I was a young girl, fretting that I’d NEVER go through puberty, my mom told me not to rush it—that some women mature and then flame out early—maybe THIS is what she was talking about.

Their big chests, blond hair, tan skin and sheen of skankiness make these ladies appear older than they really are. And they are vaguely annoying, which perhaps solidifies the feeling that they’ve overstayed their welcome in some way.

On the flip side: Sally Field? 62. Nanci Griffith? 56. Mary Tyler Moore? 72. Now those are some numbers I can get my head around, although poor MTM does look like she’s had a bit too much work done. For some reason, petite, brown-eyed celebrities have more staying power in my warped little brain.

Of course, I ended up finally “becoming a woman” at the ripe old age of 11. And I do dye my hair blond-ish. And I am a celebrity in my own mind.

Here’s hoping I don’t look too much older than I really am.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing?

I realized this morning after one of my cheap but beloved bras sprung a strap, that my cup runneth over. One would think I might be pleased to discover additional cleavage before breakfast, but I was not.

Over the past 39 ¾ years I have become privy to many cruel truths of womanhood. One is that when it comes to weight loss, the breasts are the first place you lose it, and when it comes to weight gain, they are the last place it lands. Uncool.

So what might have seemed like a bonus for a fleeting second at 7 this morning, was really just a sad reminder that the extra L-B’s have been creeping up my bod all summer long.

Pockets and pooches and dimples of unwanted smoosh have sprung up all over. A large dose of denial, an unseasonably cool summer, a job in an air conditioned office, and that fact that my whole family has been too lazy to use our pool membership (yeah, you read that correctly!) have all allowed me to stay covered in long sleeved shirts and capris rather than my customary summer uniform of tank tops or a skirted bathing suit. I mean what’s another 8 lbs if you’re practically wearing a burka?

Don’t know where I’m going with this.

Probably straight to the kitchen to commune with my new package of Limited Edition Oreos: Chocolate Sundae Crème flavor.

The Limited Edition crap gets me every time.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Juicy Fruit, The SMELL is Gonna Move Ya"

I got in the car today and was greeted by the most delightful scent of Juicy Fruit gum. I hadn’t smelled it in over 20 years, but it came back to me instantly. My mom chewed Juicy Fruit a lot. She always kept a pack in her purse. I didn’t realize it when I was very young, but she probably used it to cover smoker’s breath, since we weren’t supposed to know she smoked. Mom/Juicy Fruit are ever linked in my mind.

As I drove I thought about my mom, and about how great God is. That He would make my entire car smell like Juicy Fruit when there was not a gum chewer in sight seemed like a special gift from Him to me. And on my daughter’s birthday, I’d been thinking of mothers and daughters all day. Very nice. I kept the windows rolled up, because I wanted the smell to linger as long as possible.

When I pulled up to my destination I realized that the Juicy Fruit aroma was the exact combination of scents formed by the 3 bags of groceries I had left forgotten for hours in the car on a 96 degree day. Apparently strawberries, corn, hummus, Caesar salad and peaches can meld into this olfactory sensation.

God IS still great. He DOES care enough about me to fill my car with a Juicy Fruit smell. And I’m STILL a dork.

At least I didn’t buy the fish.

If the Hat Fits, Don't Wear It

I read a poignant post over at Apathy Lounge about a Jr. High dance, and I wondered if I could plumb the depths of my own Jr. High dance experiences, or whether it would be too miserable. I know I’ve written about my “awkward stage” before, but a Jr. High dance? Excruciating. I am trying to muster up the courage to do it, but today will not be the day.

Instead, I’ll fill you in a little more on my Jr. High self. Remember this horrible school picture, that I have bravely posted no fewer than 3 times on this blog (“Anna, you are a strong, confidant woman. Breathe. Anna, you are a a strong, confidant woman”)??? Well, my friend Cindy kindly pointed out there is more to this picture than I have shared with you.

On picture day in 8th grade, I came downstairs in my wardrobe staples: cords, my ruffly white blouse and my quilted purple jacket. These were some of the few clothes that fit because I had grown several inches and gained 30+ pounds in just a few months. The braces and perm? Just added bonuses.

There was another article of clothing that morning that I have failed to share with you: a hat. A teal blue wool Liz Claiborne hat. Not a “let’s go sledding hat with a pom pom,” but an “I’m pushing 40 and am on my way to brunch at the club,” kind of hat.

My dear mother had bought it at my urging on one of our shopping trips to her favorite store, Lord and Taylor. She bought herself a jaunty burgundy wool cowboy hat that same day. I should have realized hearing all the “oohs and aahs” when she wore her hat to church that a hat could cause a stir. A stir indeed.

But when I waltzed into the kitchen that morning, there was no stir. Perhaps my sister was already at school, for she surely would have commented . Perhaps my mother was just letting me show my independence as she had when I dressed myself in my neighbor's mother's blouse for my 4th grade picture.

I don’t know. Perhaps she was too enamored with her own cowboy hat to know that it was her duty to intervene and to save me from myself. She said nothing, so off I went.

As I stepped into the school, the murmuring began. It was one of a handful of times in my life when I’ve been so clearly inappropriately dressed, that I wished the ground would swallow me up whole. My stomach felt sick. I felt so exposed. What had seemed like such a great idea at home, suddenly became questionable.

So why didn’t I remove the hat immediately? Well, permed hat head springs to mind. But truthfully, I was torn. I liked my hat. I thought I looked kind of cute. I mean, what if hats were cool?

Hadn’t I been the first one in the school to wear a denim Calvin Klein miniskirt the year before with my bobby socks and Keds? Weren’t all the girls wearing them now? Could I perhaps be a fashion icon, who needed to take a few risks in order to leave my mark?

Looking back, I think I was going for a bit of a Molly Ringwald vibe. The problem? This was 1981 or 1982 and “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink” didn’t sweep the nation until 1985 and 1986. I was screwed.

So, if you look at my Jr. High Yearbook, you will see me with the hat on in the group or “club” pictures, but not in my school picture. It was what I considered a reasonable compromise on one of the most stressful days of my life.

By taking it off for the portrait, I think I gave myself a sliver of a chance for a social future. I still was never invited to a boy/girl party, but there were probably numerous reasons for that.

And now I’m a mom, and I give my kids great latitude in their style of dress and the opportunity to make fashion mistakes. I know it’s a part of growing up. Just ask my husband about the time he wore pants to school with a pair of shorts pulled on OVER TOP of them. Ouch.

And when my kids have rough days, and feel humiliated, I remind them that no one else will remember their foibles as much as they will.

Yeah right.

I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I still remember:

1. Jenny J. eating paste in Kindergarten.
2. Karey G. with little booger plugs in her nose on the first day of school 2nd grade.
3. The time my dear brother thought he got me a “Chicago” record for Christmas, but it really said, “Chico.” He was devastated, and I still feel bad thinking of it.

And to further illustrate this point, when my friend Cindy ran into a Jr. High acquaintance about 20 years later, whom I had not seen since 8th grade, she told him that she and I were dear friends, that she had been in my wedding, etc.

His response:

“Hey, isn't she the girl who wore a hat on picture day?”


p.s. I’m digging into the archives for my Jr. High yearbook so I can show you a hat picture.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Make-over Do-over?

Just got back from purchasing this bench to replace the coffee table in my family room. I had toyed with the idea of painting the wooden table that's already there a dove gray to lighten things up in the room, but I thought this might be taking my dumpster diving cheapo tendencies too far, plus I had a Crate and Barrel gift card burning a hole in my pocket.

I also didn't know if Tom could handle my painting one more stick of furniture in this house. Soooooo, I ordered this pretty bench, to be picked up next Tues. I think it's meant for the bottom of a bed, but it could look cute as a coffee table.

After my dinner of potstickers, soy sauce, brownies and a Mike's Hard Lemonade in front of the t.v. as Molly played outside (can you tell Tom and Jake are out of town?), I realize I may have made a mistake.

I thought we were more than ready for non-washable off-white linen since there are no longer toddlers in the house, but I didn't consider how hard it would be for ME to keep from committing party fouls.

I did a lot of wobbling and spilling in a mere 1/2 hour, something I wouldn't have noticed had I not just purchased the aforementioned non-washable off-white linen bench soon to be used as a coffee table.

And I don't even want to THINK about how Tom's blood pressure is going to rise every time we have family movie night. He's already a bit of a popcorn control freak, giving the kids individual baggies instead of a communal, tippable bowl and only allowing clear liquids outside of the kitchen.

The old thrift shop table, all $24.00 of it, may need to stay. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hanging with Michelle, Sasha, and Malia...

My ears are still ringing from last night’s Jonas Brothers Concert. I proposed taking Molly and a friend to the concert in lieu of having an 8th birthday party. Concert tickets were on her cute and largely ignored 3-item Christmas list , so I figured it would be a hit.

Some impressions of the evening:

Expensive. Her concert t-shirt cost $35 dollars! Unless you are Tom, and you are reading this, in which case it cost $3.50.

Between tickets, public transportation, parking, snacks and souvenirs, the evening cost a lot more than any party would have. My whole dining room set cost $44, so I’m sure you can see how I found it a bit annoying to spend so much on one night.

I also worry about the longevity of her new t-shirt. After all, she was Hannah Montana last Halloween, a fact of which we no longer speak in this house.

Some highlights:

1. Getting a crush on Nick. I asked Molly why all the younger girls favored Nick, “The Cute One,” but now I get it. He’s adorable! He played the grand piano, rocked the drums, strummed the guitar, wrote the songs AND gave a heartfelt (?) pep-talk to “each and every one” of us to not let “them get inside your heads” when things get tough. I don’t know who “they” are, but I ate it up.

His own example, delivered in a pseudo-twangy, soulful southern accent (aren’t they from New Jersey?) as he shared his struggles with diabetes, had me wondering how much a box of tissues would cost. By that point I would have paid $150.00.

2. Feeling sorry for Kevin, “the Other One.” You know how I am about underdogs. Kevin definitely doesn’t get the screams and squeals his brothers do, which made me sad, but considering he did get engaged last week, he’ll be the first Jo Bro to get to remove the purity ring, so I guess that helps ease the pain.

3. Realizing I’m just not a dancer. I tried to be fun and stand and sway on occasion, but I just looked like a dufus. For the most part I stayed rooted to my seat, fingers pushing my earplugs as far into my ears as possible.

Yep, earplugs allowed me to hear the music while also making me feel just a little bit buzzed. This helped me find my own little happy place while surrounded by thousands of screaming girls and flashing strobe lights.

One drawback of my happy place? A flatulent pre-teen in front of me kept letting them slip as she jumped up and down, right at my face level.

I have a feeling Mrs. Obama, Sasha and Malia were protected from such indignities in their pricier seats. A pro of having seats in the stratosphere? When Kevin, Joe and Nick started spraying (Water? Foam? Jonas Juice?) on the crowds, we were spared entirely.

In all, the concert was fantastic. Molly and I made some wonderful memories, and I won't be running around like a crazy person getting ready for a birthday party. I hope to regain my hearing in a day or two, by which time I’ll be ready to watch the 5 episodes of “Jonas," Disney’s new tv show, that I’ve recorded on the DVR.

And as for the raunch factor? Thank goodness, it was very, very low! Not even in the same league as Disney’s Gymnastics Superstars.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just Keep a Knockin'...

I am glad our doorbell is broken. It hangs there, but it probably hasn’t worked since the Carter administration. If it worked, I could never ignore the kids who come knocking, like right now. Usually I'm glad when kids stop by to see if my kids can play, but If I'm not in the mood to interact, I somehow lose my sense of hearing.

A doorbell is so loud, so insistent. With a knock, there’s a chance that I could be on another level doing important things --what was that crazy 60’s architect ON when he designed a 5 level split level??-- and “miss” it entirely. In truth, I’m usually blogging or drinking a diet Pepsi out of range of the windows, holding out until the knock stops.

With the exception of certain unnamed heavy-fisted young knockers, “Your car was there so I didn't give up! I knew someone was home,” the knocks eventually dwindle after a while.

I’ve been on the other side of this with my friends in the ‘hood who share the same model house that I do. I have one friend who hasn’t answered the door to me in the 6 years I’ve lived here. Of course, when she doesn’t answer my knocks, I’m sure she’s in the basement or the shower. I hope.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do It Yourself Party-- Black Side Tables


I love checking out Kimba's blog for great before and after shots at her "Do it Yourself" Parties.

I'm not sure if this counts as "Do It Yourself" because Tom actually painted these for me, but I'll share anyway.

I found these smelly, broken, little guys on a trash heap in the rain. They were once on either side of a mirrored vanity, but the mirror was long gone. The veneer was chipping off and the knobs had to go.

I thought of spray painting them white, but with Tom's recent comment that I was going a little overboard with all the white in the house, Tom sanded them lightly, painted them black with an oil based paint we already had, and we switched out the knobs with the old wooden knobs from my last dumpster dive .

They are now cute bedside tables in our guest room. Total Cost: $0

Check out the other projects on Kimba's website.

The Lack of Good Humor Woman

Dear Jake and Molly,

The ice cream truck came today. Yep, right to the bottom of our driveway. I cringed when I heard the music. I wasn’t sure where you were, but I knew you would come running, quoting back to me my big promise to buy you ice cream every single time the ice cream truck came around.

You see, my memory was that the ice cream truck came to my house about 4 times my entire childhood. When it did, my mom would buy me an orange Push-Up. I would sit on the curb barefoot with my skinned knees pulled up to my chest as I savored my treat. Sometimes a little would drip on my terry cloth shorts.

With regret, I’d eventually lick the little plastic disc clean, and hope the ice cream man would return—someday. As a kid, I vowed I would always say, “YES” to the ice cream truck.

If I had realized that when I became a mom the ice cream truck would show up several times a summer, as well as park in front of our beach rental each and every day of vacation, I might have amended my statement.

For a while, however, I held fast to my promise. I remember the first time we saw an ice cream truck cruising through a local neighborhood…not our own. I was so excited I could barely stand it. We chased it down in the car and I was your hero.

Another time, we heard the music from our screened porch. I sent Molly, barely a toddler, running for my wallet, and I sent you, Jake, up the hill to stall. I set off on foot in the other direction to make sure there was no way the ice cream man could get away. It didn’t matter that dinner wasn’t finished—I was being FUN MOM.

Today, I wasn’t feeling so fun. I knew that between my working and our wacky summer schedule, we’ve been eating a lot of junk, and I was loathe to bring more of it into the house. Also, I knew we had a freezer full of frozen treats already, and I didn’t want to spend $4 each on those neon green concoctions the ice cream man tries to sell these days.

What happened to classics like Chocolate Éclairs, Nutty Buddies and Push-Ups? I mean, what’s an Atomic Sourball? And Ice Cream shaped like Sponge Bob and Dora? Puh-lease.

Truthfully, I was grumpy because I had just tried to renew our library books online and found I couldn’t because I owed too much money. And no one had read any of the books anyway. Oh, and I had just started my period. Is that too weird to hear from your mom?

And? I was in a hurry to get my act together so I could join a few friends at the local wine bar in the hopes that although FUN MOM was gone forever, perhaps we could re-locate FUN ANNA.

I know, it probably doesn’t seem fair that I got my wine, but you got no ice cream.

When you appeared out of the neighbor’s house the second the truck pulled away, oblivious to the hoopla that had just taken place in our very own cul-de-sac, I didn’t try to flag the driver down, and I kept my mouth shut.

I’m sorry. Sort of.

Love and Hugs, Mom

Monday, July 6, 2009


A man I’ve known forever died recently. He got in a tussle with the cable guy. I am not kidding. He was 79 years old, recently widowed, and was pretty frail.

Apparently, he was not satisfied with the work the phone/cable/Internet guy did on his house, so when the workman got in his van to start driving away, our friend reached in the window and grabbed the steering wheel. It’s not clear what happened next (a fall? a heart attack? being run over?), but he died later that night. He left behind a daughter around my age with Down’s Syndrome and no siblings.

So sad, and so shocking. I wonder, what did it take for him to snap? Were the pressures of being widowed, struggling financially, caring for his daughter, and plain old loneliness just too much to bear? At what point did all of his hardship and pain boil over onto the workman, who certainly was doing his best to do a good job?

I think about times in my adult life when I’ve been teetering on the edge of hopelessness and despair or seething with anger about some injustice. I can imagine myself going a little bit crazy on the closest target.

In a pharmacy when I’ve dragged my sick body to a doctor’s appointment for a prescription, soldiered through a long line and then been met with some problem with my insurance card or a snippy pharmacist? Aaargh. That’s enough to make me want to cry, or yell at someone or both.

I think pharmacists should dole out an extra measure of kindness to all customers, who all surely have gone through a lot (new cancer treatment? paralyzing depression? sleepless night with croupy kids?) before they’ve even dragged themselves up to that counter.

I also feel crappy at car dealerships and car repair shops. I tend to feel stupid and helpless because my knowledge of cars is so limited. The realization that I could be taken advantage of leaves me feeling shrill and suspicious.

And the aforementioned phone/Internet/cable company? I remember moving into this house 6 years ago and being greeted by no dial tone. The phone company helpfully informed me that per my instructions (ha!) they had turned OFF this phone service on move-in day, while turning ON phone service for the house we’d just vacated.

Not good, especially since we get no cell reception here and my grandfather was dying. I remember walking down the road in the rain several times over the course of 7 days, leaving my little ones in the house, trying to get enough cell phone reception to find out if my grandfather was still alive. Ugh.

I’ve been in service industries and I understand how customers can get so upset. A lot of times the frustration comes from a feeling of helplessness. I wonder if that’s what Mr. Clarke, a mild-mannered, soft-spoken and softhearted man was feeling when he grabbed that steering wheel.

I wonder, what makes you feel like you are going to snap?

And as I think of Melinda, the 41 year old who is about 8 years old developmentally and who lost both parents in a year’s time, I remind myself that some things just aren’t worth losing my cool over.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lazy for You...

I went to bed mad and woke up furious. I am mad at Tom, and at me. I just can’t deal with the fact that we can’t seem to get important things done. We continually say, “We really need to talk about X, Y, or Z,” but we’d much rather stare blankly at the computer screen or a Yankees game until bedtime than actually come to a decision about anything.

We are both youngest children. Our pastor told us before we got married that it could cause problems, and he was right. Both of us expect someone else to take care of things.

What woke me up so pissed at 5 this morning? We still haven’t decided where to send the kids to school next year! Our payment to our current (private) school? Was due May 1.

The thing is, I don’t want to blindly pay and keep doing the same-old same-old for the 5th year in a row without even considering the alternative, our neighborhood school which is ranked the 4th best in the entire state. Could we have gone to the special open house for the school and for the GT center? Sure, but it was May 6. LOSERS!

Somehow we’ve managed to go on 3 trips, and muddle through the countless demands of everyday life, but we haven’t sat down to figure out where to send the kids and summer’s a wastin.’ The kids are in limbo, which is stressing them out.

I feel as if I’ve done my part by getting the kids tested for academic level, by gathering information, and talking to people, but I am NOT sure what’s best and I’m NOT comfortable making this decision on my own. I have prayed for clarity, but haven't gotten any yet. A friend of mine said, “NO decision IS a decision.” Story of our lives.

What I saw as Tom’s easy-going attitude when we fell in love now seems passive and annoying, and I've got enough passive and annoying myself to carry us through.

And although this kid/school issue is the biggest one we are facing right now, there are numerous other examples of our total suckiness.

Leaky toilet? We’ve got one. Can’t wait to see the water bill. New Shed in the back yard? It has existed only in our minds for the past 6 years. Disney Cruise we promised the kids when they were 4 and 6? Dream on, TWEENS! Anything with the remotest amount of complication or struggle or involving detailed conversation? No one wants to tackle it around here.

I was incredulous when our IT guy at work helped me out today. His whole life revolves around what Tom and I hate—trouble shooting, decision-making and problem solving. “It’s just one great big puzzle to me!” he said with a big smile on his face. Meanwhile, I wanted to curl up on the floor in the fetal position.

I’ve always been amazed by take-charge people—people of action. Need I remind you it took Tom and me 5 years to decide to get married? I have friends who have decided on and gotten divorces in the time it takes us to call a darn electrician. Seriously.

And tougher issues? Some if not all of the inhabitants of this house would probably benefit from some sort of therapy, but unless a therapist parachutes into our living room unannounced, it just ain’t going to happen. Referrals? Co-pays? Research? Not our thing.

I have secretly worried that if one of us becomes seriously ill, the other will say, “Well, he/she led a nice life,” instead of digging deep and fighting for the best doctors, the best treatment, and the best care. I really wish I were kidding.

I am convinced that if Shadow the dog hadn’t fallen into our laps via my sister, there would be no canine in our house, although we had “talked about it” for two years prior. And our non-existent 3rd child? Ditto.

It’s just so easy to get caught up in the day to day—where the kids need to be and when, what to eat, what our job and church obligations are—that we fail to look at the big picture. Big goals, big dreams, big decisions. The good news is, we are pretty content little picture people, and we tend to enjoy the moment, but I think we could benefit greatly from a visionary in our house.

Or at least someone who would make a gyno appointment for me.