Monday, August 31, 2009

Don't Kiss Me Kate (Winslet)

So Tom and I were watching “The Reader” last night, starring Kate Winslet. The kids were at a sleepover, so we had a rare night to ourselves. I had read the book, so I knew what to expect plot-wise, but I was still a bit taken aback by all of the nudity. I mean, it’s a period piece, but I think they must have saved a bundle on costumes, because for the first hour, the two main characters were pretty much nude…frontal, backal, the works.

This was the closest Tom and I’ve ever come to one of “those kinds” of movies, and I wonder what my neighbors thought of the images of Kate and her teenage lover getting it on through our window on our new widescreen TV. Note: This is NOT a movie you want to watch with your friends, your neighbors, your in-laws, your brother, or even a bunch of strangers in a movie theater. I liked the movie a lot, but I’m not even sure if I was old enough to watch the steamy scenes.

Anyhoo, I don’t know if I’ve told you but Tom CANNOT stay awake during a movie. Ever. Comedy, tragedy, action—he’s snoozing within the hour. We usually stick to 30-minute sitcoms we have recorded on DVR, such as “The Office,” “Seinfeld,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” so we can watch together.

After the first hour of skin, "The Reader" takes a dramatic twist and delves into terrible secrets related to the Holocaust. Tom was asleep and missed all it, yet I was riveted. I have studied the Holocaust extensively, and my mind was still churning as we went to bed. And if you are anything like me, you know the whirring torment of an overactive female brain at bedtime. I’ll take my overactive bladder any day.

Tom, newly refreshed from his during-movie nap was feeling a little friendly. After all, he’d just watched nooky on the screen (in HD no less), he’d missed the whole Holocaust part, and we had an empty house. Unfortunately, this did not mesh with my contemplation of the dark issues brought up in the movie.

I tried. I did. I tried.

He was all “An-na…” but I was all “Anne Frank.”

Some nights don’t turn out as planned.

p.s. I lost a reader today. Tom thinks it's probably because he/she thought I was too mean to Tom. What do you think?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Will Pour No (Cheer-)Wine Before Its Time

Our beach trip was awesome! Just got back last night and am drowning in the sea of crap-ola that needs to be washed and then redistributed throughout the house.

Certain events yesterday made me question Tom’s sanity. I awoke for the traditional groggy “empty the fridge and pack the car” beach house routine. Our friends had already left.

In the kitchen I saw empty soda cans and beer bottles that had been in the fridge the night before. I turned to Tom, “Why the heck would the Wheelers pour out perfectly good soda and beer? Are they nuts?” I saw a flash of concern cross his face-- a look that said, “Should I play this off or tell the truth?” and he walked away.

Oh my gosh! The realization hit me: Tom had poured out perfectly good soda and beer! Not half-used, flat 2 liter bottles. Fresh, full, happy cans of deliciousness! What kind of weirdo would do that? He came back a few minutes later and confessed, adding defensively, “It’s not like it’s good for us, or anything.”

Puh-lease… an entire week of pigging out on chips and soda and drinking alcohol (I can barely zip my pants) and Tom decides to become the arbiter of all things healthy and pure?

Apparently he had started jettisoning stuff to make room in our car—the same minivan with the capacity to hold 8 dining room chairs at a time.

To highlight just how different the two of us are, I’ll tell you I had just begun one of my favorite beach rituals, divesting each of the 7 bathrooms of the spare rolls of TP and soft soap pumps. I mean, we’d brought this stuff in, and it was coming out with us. As the last folks to leave the house, we usually got whatever no one else felt like taking. Tissue boxes? Check. Half a tub of cream cheese? Where’s my cooler?

So, I had 7 hours in the car to contemplate what an oddball I’d married. When we got home, tired and grumpy and needing to throw some sort of dinner together, Tom served the kids milk from a half full jug that had been in the fridge for over 11 days. Our black beans, he covered with shredded cheese that had been open much longer than the “3-5 Days After Opening” guideline on the bag.

So, contradictory as it may seem, I wanted to avoid beach house waste at all costs, but I was not so keen on giving the kids old, out of date food from our home fridge. I’ve been known to throw out any food if I think about it too long and it grosses me out in any way.

I realize the 3-5 day thing is just a suggestion, but I always err on the side of “when in doubt, throw it out.”

This may have stemmed from my experience with a roommate who liked to leave Big Gulps on the kitchen counter for weeks at a time, and whose spaghetti sauce was a petri dish for mold. “What do you think?” she’d ask me, holding the offending item under my nose. “Get rid of it!” I’d implore, right before she’d skim the mold off the top and eat it anyway. Eww.

I guess yesterday’s events just helped emphasize AGAIN how Tom and I wired differently. Some things I do are quite thrifty, while others might appear a tad wasteful (in a sane, keeping the children from succumbing to botulism kind of way), but they ALL make sense to me. His ways make perfect sense to him.

I do still feel sad about those hapless sodas opened, dumped, crumpled, and discarded way before their time, without ever having the chance to give the pleasure of a good
caffeine buzz.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

If The Hat Fits, Don't Wear It Part II

I’m at the beach all week, so I’ll be absent blog-wise.

Just checked my email and my very best friend from jr. high and high school had her sister send me this picture since I somehow "lost" my 8th grade yearbook. Thanks Lisa G!

This yearbook photo documents that I did, indeed, wear a HAT ON PICTURE DAY! Yikes. Yes, I'm the 45 year old woman in that photo who apparently takes her job in the school newsroom VERY seriously.

I hope you’ll have a chance today to read about the Picture Day Debacle.

And if you do, please don't ask why I'm wearing an entirely different outfit in my individual school picture. Some things have been blocked from memory and should not be delved into outside of a therapist's office.

At the beach this week I’m sporting my skirted bathing suit, a long sleeved swim shirt and a jaunty mom-hat. I guess some things don’t change.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DIY Day-- Dumpster Dive Edition


Here's my latest dumpster dive project. I pulled this chair out someone's trash. I liked the shape, but the suede was marked on with pen and had a few small tears. The picture doesn't really show the stains, but trust me on this one. I also thought it looked a little formal for me.

I glued the ripped suede down with a glue gun and then spray painted the entire chair, suede and all, with my favorite Heirloom White spray paint. The arms got oversprayed b/c I was trying to cover up some pretty gross stains and got carried away.

If I had it to do over again, I would have at least tried to clean the suede before I started spraying. It has kind of a mottled look about it, which I like.

Molly doesn't like how the paint feels on her feet when she stands on the chair in her dirty bare feet to look at herself in the mirror each day. Hmmmph!

And Tom thinks it looks a little trashy.

But I'm loving it! And even if it's not our most dramatic transformation, or the loveliest piece of furniture in the house:

1. it was free

2. it is comfortable

3. it's not in a landfill

4. the whole project took under 5 minutes, if you don't count the minute it took to wrangle it into my car

5. the living room isn't lit well enough for close inspection anyway

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Smart Girl

I complimented Molly on the fact that not only is she intelligent, but she also has high E Q.

Molly: What do you mean?

Anna: Well, you notice people. If you meet someone, you usually remember his or her name. You observe whether people are making good and bad decisions. You are good at getting yourself out of situations that make you uncomfortable.

This is because you have high ‘EQ.’ I think it will help you as you get older if you are with people who are about to make a bad choice.

Oh! You mean like if they say, “Let’s steal a van and do graffiti and go into those big drainpipes to eat Pixie Sticks. And, by the way, someone better bring the extra cigarettes.”
Exactly, Molly. Exactly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't Judge a Book...

I am so sick of the library. I tried to be virtuous and get the kids plenty of books to read this summer. What did I get in return? Fines. Fines. Fines.

You would think I would have learned my lesson after my $18.75 in fines in July, but did I? No. I proceeded to check out 4 more books that are now late. One is AWOL, and I fear it could be in CT, Cleveland, PA, or all manner of places we don’t actually live. I scoured the minivan without success.

Did the kids actually read any of these books? No. Jake just finished the Harry Potter series, which we own, and is into “The 39 Clues,” a new series that is virtually impossible to get at the library. Plus it comes with little playing cards, so you'll want your own set. I am purchasing them one by one. Yep, there will be 39 books in all. That’s almost $400 by the time he’s finished. Somewhere a marketing genius is laughing at me. At least Jake's reading.

And Molly? Hasn’t found a series to spark her interest, which is why I keep going back to the library for yet more options. Aargh. Even Blockbuster seems more forgiving of this mom’s feeble attempts to keep it together this summer.

Tom’s response when I told him we had more fees? “Now that’s just irresponsible.” Thanks, dear.
In 10 years of libraries and story times and keeping the kids quiet and tracking our books, we have had to pay for 2 items. One, when TOM left a cassette tape (yes, we're showing our age) in a beach house tape player and two, when Molly barfed on Amelia Bedelia. If you ask me, I'm doing pretty well.

See if I try to stimulate your kids’ brains in the summer again. It’s TiVo from here on out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

And I Skipped Breakfast for This?

8 a.m. Friday and already have feet in the stirrups and someone’s hands in my goods. Got to love those summer doc appointments. Next week? The dentist.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is it Taco Tuesday Yet?

Today over at Emmacallsmemama there is a “Traditions Party.” Head on over to read about bloggers' cherished family traditions.

I have a few family traditions to share with you, and I don’t mean just yelling at everyone to get ready in the morning, fighting in the car on the way to church, or eating at Taco Bell twice a week. Let’s just call those See-family HABITS, not traditions.

The birthday boy or girl uses a special red plate, and has a birthday flag hanging from the flagpole in his/her honor. Yes that's a toaster strudel you see on the plate. I didn't say I cooked for them.

Christmas and Easter:
We used to do fondue before church on Christmas Eve, but Tom and I were the only ones who actually liked it. After our celebrity sighting at Chevy’s in NYC, we developed a new Christmas Eve lunch tradition—Mexican food—of course. I bet you didn’t know Mary and Joseph stopped at a Chevy’s on the way to Bethlehem. A girl’s gotta have her tableside guacamole, you know.

For present opening on Christmas morning, we do the taking turns thing, and for the final gift, Tom writes an elaborate poem that leads the kids all around the house on a treasure hunt. He knows his way around a rhyme, that guy. The final clue leads to the “big” present of the year. Warning: Don’t turn on the dryer on Christmas morning —there might be a Wii or a hamster in there.

We also make the kids locate their Easter baskets this way, or by attaching yarn to the basket and having them follow the yarn around the house.

Ice Cream for Breakfast Day:
I’ve already told you about “Ice Cream for Breakfast Day” on the first snow day of the year. Since you don’t know exactly when that will be, I suggest doing what I do—never letting your ice cream stash dip below ½ gallon. Yum.

And, if you aren’t bored yet by this post, I’ll share our family’s new hobby, which is morphing into a tradition of sorts: Geocaching!

We combine our love of hiking, treasure hunts and gadgets (that would be Tom, not moi) to find little hidden “caches” in the most unlikely places. They are placed there by people all around the world. We choose a hunt on the Internet then head out with a handheld GPS. We hope to geocache in all 50 states by the time I am too decrepit to participate.
Want some outdoor, unplugged activity in which the kids don’t even realize they are exercising? Geocache. Our team is called “Team Shadow” because the dog always comes with us. If we ever make it to Hawaii, however, I think she’ll need to stay home

I guess the bottom line is that childhood is fleeting, and family traditions help make memories. They help connect us, and I want more of those connections. Traditions remind us there’s a lot more to life than homework, crow's feet, and cleaning the kitchen counter.

I’d love to hear some of your traditions, too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

I’ve been thinking a lot about projecting these days. I don’t mean projecting my voice or projecting sales figures, but projecting my worries and fears onto my kids’ futures.

It’s easy to feel as if each and every decision we make sets our kids on the course for the rest of their lives. And our parenting screw-ups? We may joke about them, but I know I can’t be the only one who feels that when I not doing such a great job there could be long term repercussions.
Tom and I have been listening to parenting cd’s by a guy name Kirk Martin for about a year now. His company is called Celebrate Calm. He tells parents that they can’t control their kids, only themselves and their reactions to their kids. I just love this guy.

He tells parents not to project their fears about the future onto their kids, because kids will grow and change. “Just because your 9 year old wants to sit around playing video games all day does not mean he’ll be living in the basement playing video games all day when he’s 28.” Whew.

With the big school decision that has hijacked much of Tom’s and my summer (okay, my summer), I’ve been doing more than my share of projecting.

For instance, if we let introverted Jake stay at his small private Christian school, will we be setting him up for failure when he needs to adapt to a large public junior high and high school? Will choosing the best place for him right now set him up for anxiety, depression and being stuffed into lockers when he is older? Will he become a Republican? Tom, I'm kidding about that last one, sort of.

And would taking Molly out of her small private Christian school now, when she’s open to the idea of public school (Bells? Buses? Yay!) render her lost in a sea of 28 faces, never again to get individual attention? Will learning be a thing of the past? Will she think we sold her out to save $8,000 a year?

Will severing her ties to the world of plaid jumpers and American Girl dolls send her to seek attention in the wrong ways ending up with a saga reminiscent of “Girl, Interrupted” at worst and “Juno” at best? Will depriving her of Latin at a young age mean she’ll never be able to chat about etymology with the rest of the fam?

Yeah, my kids have had to live with a crazy, indecisive, worrying mom this summer.

I have great kids. Not easy kids, but great kids. I hate to say this but they are such great kids and so utterly the right kids for me that I have moments when I pity other moms because they didn’t get mine.

But can they tell this, or do they pick up on all my anxiety and my inner projections?

Maybe I worry for the sake of worrying?

"Hurry up. Slow down. Go talk to that person. Make a friend. Be a friend. Smile. Make eye contact. Think of others first. Get good grades. Try out for the team. Talk. Quit talking." And on and on it goes…

I remember when we took Jake to see Santa when he was 3.

Santa: “Have you been a good boy?”
Jake: “A little bit.”

It kind of broke my heart.

I mean, really. What 3 year old is NOT going to lie to Santa and say he was perfect? What 3 year old kid is not going to believe he was perfect? Apparently mine.

And at bedtime a few weeks ago, snuggled close in the dark, saying prayers and talking, when I whisper to Jake that this bright, sensitive, tender, funny and dear kid has a very bright future, I feel a lone tear trickle out of his eye onto my cheek. He says nothing.

I don’t think our kids need our projecting. They have enough of their own going on, most of which we’ll never know.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not So Hidden Pleasures, or, What Were They Thinking?

I have talked about House Porn before. It is what draws me to magazine after magazine and fills me with unrealistic expectations of what my house could and should be like. Just as most of us could not measure up to the airbrushed beauty of a super-model (or am I just speaking for myself?) our houses can’t measure up to spaces professionally styled and photographed for the glossies.

In magazines I see this:

In my own kitchen I see this:

I’m sure I’ll always love “House Porn,” and I really enjoy making changes around the house, but I don’t beat myself up when my day to day living just can’t match up with what I see on the pages.

BUT I ran into a new kind of “House Porn” yesterday, and I’m wondering if any of you have seen anything like it.

Molly and I were shopping and came across this:

Hidden Pleasures: Discreet Frosted Glass Look.

No, We weren't in Fredericks of Hollywoood; we were in Target.

And the product in question? An Airwick air freshener.

I’m not sure how the frosted glass makes it any more discreet. You plug that think into an outlet and it’s certainly not “hidden.” Is this a new kind of marketing geared toward, ehhh, frustrated homeowners? Is this supposed to make our lives more complete?

Am I the only one who thinks this is a little bit weird?

Yes, I bought it. But I was already looking for an air freshener. Really.

Friday, August 7, 2009

"Night, Lucy." "Night, Ricky."

Just got back from a week in captivity with Tom’s family. They are lovely people, and I do believe I behaved pretty well this time. Semi-psycho, but not all-out psycho.

I think my issue comes down to a concept I read about recently that in-laws just aren’t of your tribe. A different tribe doesn’t mean a bad tribe, just different. My own tribe is wracked with tragedy and riddled with dysfunction, but it’s mine so I more or less “get” it.

On a day to day basis, my vacation problems stem from the fact that I’m not in my own home, thus not able to get anything “done,” and the issue of a fundamental magazine-incompatibility. I first heard this phrase from Marinka and I fell in love with it and her fabulous blog.

In-Law’s Magazine List:

Knit Simple
Consumer Reports
New Republic
Cooking Light

Anna’s Far Superior and More Interesting Magazine List:

Country Living
Better Homes and Gardens
Vanity Fair
Elle D├ęcor
Southern Living
Family Circle

…and the ultimate guilty pleasures: People and US Weekly.

Yes, yes I brought books to read, but I whizzed through them all. No, I couldn’t drive to the store, because after almost 18 years I still don’t know where the heck I am out in the country and how to escape if necessary.

By the end of vacation I was so desperate I was reading the labels on vitamin bottles.

I am not trying to be judge-y here; my own sister and I are magazine incompatible. Hers: Yoga Journal, Self, Health. Ewwww.

But she and I usually manage to stay occupied discussing our differing views of the same childhood incidents or stuffing our faces with jumbo marshmallows straight out of the bag.

Entertainment-wise, we did better than in the magazine department on this trip.

My mother in law has a dvd collection of “I Love Lucy.” We loved introducing the kids to the show.


Molly: “Lucy needs to tell Ricky to go make his own breakfast.”

Jake: “Lucy and her friend always make things worse by lying about stuff.”

And, in a case of "life imitating Lucy," Tom and I were once again assigned the room with twin beds in it.

I was PMS-ing HARD so Tom’s little bed could have been in Alaska for all I cared. The distance probably kept him safe from any vacation-induced stabbing.

In all, it was a very good trip, yet I’m glad to be home. And waiting for me when I got here? 3 crisp new magazines. Aaah.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

If You're Under 35, I Apologize for This One

So I was snuggling in bed with Molly while we read a little Nancy Drew. Tom walked by and caught sight of my hot pink terry cloth tube-toppish pool cover-up.

Thinking I was channeling another terry cloth era, he said: “Well Hellooooooo Chrissy Snow!” with a big grin on his face.

When I got up a few minutes later and he saw my whole outfit in its caftan-like glory, he said, “Maybe I should have called you Mrs. Roper instead.”

Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Monday Memory

I'm trapped on family vacation and am borrowing my father in law's computer. He is sitting right behind me, so you'll understand why I'm just posting my link here, instead of pulling the whole post up for you. Here's an oldie but goody. Check it out.