Did you say “Spandex”? Watch your damn language!

I may be a little late at getting to it but, like many Americans, the new year led me to make goals that I haven’t previously succeeded at. One of those goals, “I will be more informed about where my money goes”, led me on a very new, and frightening journey. Today I went…to the gym!

That’s right, for months there has been a funnel from my checking account to that of a particular exercise and health facility. It’s great in theory. There is some one thing that happens in your life and causes you to seek a healthier lifestyle or to reclaim the body that was once yours. Maybe you had a health scare, have a reunion or wedding, maybe some innocent, cherubic little imp screeched, “Mommy, that ladies FAT!” (or some Alzheimer’s riddled old man said the same). Either way, there is some monumental event that drives a person to go to a gym, follow some thin, well-muscled twenty-year-old around and nod appreciatively as they point out the torturous looking gadgetry that they insist is top of the line (like my fat-ass is sooo schooled on fitness equipment that I’d know the difference). And then, to top it off, we give them the authority to funnel money from our checking accounts on a monthly basis while we sit at home, watching television and thinking, “I should really join a gym or something!”

So, I sucked it up. I got off the couch, dusted off my duffle bag and drove to the gym (and those of you who run or ride your bike to the gym are sick I tell you!). I’m not going to brag about my accomplishments & say crap like, “it was just like I’d never left”. It was nothing like that. I started out easy—the treadmill—because I figured that even though I haven’t been to the gym in a very long time it wasn’t like I’d given up walking! As it turns out, I must have not walked uphill much. Or very fast for that matter. But, damn it, I walked. Like for 20 or 30 minutes. Continuously!

Now, my sister-in-law goes to the same gym. She informed me that the gym is having a 12 week challenge. There is a grand prize of a lot of money! I am a terribly competitive person, so she had me at “challenge”. Money was just icing on the cake. “But,” she told me, “we have to have our picture taken so they can see before & after.”

I signed up for the challenge, of course I had my hair done & makeup on, and then they tell me the rules of the photos: ladies must wear a two-piece outfit so that the results are easily seen.

“I am NOT wearing a bikini,” I barked at the poor kid who signed me up.

“It’s ok,” he assured me, “you can just wear spandex short shorts and a sports bra.”

“I don’t own spandex,” I said and stood up so that he could get a good, and realistic look at what should have been a presumed fact, “for obvious reasons.”

I spent the next few hours trying to remember if I had any of my old spandex exercise shorts. Certainly there had to be one pair that had stretched out enough that I could still breath but not so worn that hints of my mayonnaise colored flesh would peek through the material.

So, if you happen to see a photo of what looks like a softball wearing a rubber band, look real close. Does that softball have a ponytail and blue eyes? That may be me. In spandex. With a blood vein or two threatening to burst.

…But, Your Facebook Rings a Bell

Last night I put my little cherubs down to bed and grabbed my laptop intent on getting some work done. Instead, I did what any responsible mom/home-based-employee would do: I spent 3 hours farting around on Facebook.

I have to preface this by saying that I’m not a dedicated Facebook user. I’ve had an account for a long time. At first, I would check my page every month or so, whether I needed to or not. Within the past two months I’ve been really dedicated, checking in like, weekly, at least! And now that I’m in an almost daily groove I realized, I’ve never really hunted around to find people that I used to know. And, isn’t that what Facebook is about? So, like any other hunter (albeit a hunter who wants the prize but without the inconvenience if getting up at four am, going out in the cold and actually hunting) I went poaching. That’s right, I went to the few friends I had and I checked their friends just to see if I knew anyone. And, if I could add them to my own list—because are we not judged by the friends we keep?

As I looked through the names of the people I had known at one time it dawned on me that I may need to be very selective in who I send friends requests to.  Do the social policies of adolescence still hold true all these years later? As an adult, do you remain on the same level of the teenage caste system that you occupied when you were actually in school? For me, this could be a problem.

The problem with school is that it is a constantly evolving thing. In elementary school you have a small group of “friends”. Almost everyone plays together and by the end of elementary school you may have been “best friends” with almost everyone in your grade at some point. Then you are placed into a junior high school/middle school with all of your friends and kids from one or two other schools. Suddenly, you’re networking. And maybe some of your former besties have become more like “acquaintances”. In some instances, those people may have suddenly become your archenemy. Then, just about the time you are working out all of your interpersonal relationships with these people, you are thrown into high school. Let the tailspin begin! Now, not only don’t you know half of the people you are in school with, you’re at a point when you don’t even really know who you are. Let’s just say that the struggle to assert independence and be unique didn’t work out for the best for everyone! Maybe I didn’t choose my friends well. Maybe I would have more friends now if I hadn’t been so flighty in my teenage social networking. A high percentage of my former friends now have very a very static group of friends, which I am not a part of. Of course, their friends have been largely determined by the Department of Corrections, and, I believe referred to as fellow inmates.

Now I’m faced with a dilemma. I’m looking at the Facebook pages of all of these nice, normal kids that I used to know. Will they remember me? Which me will they remember? The elementary, middle or (gulp) high school me? Am I one of the people that make you say, “Oh, Yeah! I remember her!” or the one that makes you say (with a cringe), “ Oh, yeah. I remember her.”?

So, for now I’ve decided on the safest approach. I will only send a friend request to those people that I: 1) am certain that I never started a fight with, 2) may have supplied booze to at some point or consumed booze with, 3) only knew me in elementary or junior high.

Once, I get those three people, I should be on my way!

The Baby Gets a Haircut

The day finally came. My shaggy-haired two year old has joined the world of conformists everywhere. He has traded in his Albert Einstein fly-away locks for a more appropriate hairstyle.

The Before Shot. Maybe just a little shaggy

Sadly, I was the hold out. I was the one who was in denial about just how overgrown The Baby’s hair had become. You know things have gone too far when your toddler is begging—that’s right, begging—for a haircut. The point is only made more clear when he actually climbs willingly into the chair at the salon.

Since we were going I decided to make a group outing of it. The Oldest and The Middle were both in need of haircuts as well so I made an appointment for all three. It was The Baby’s first haircut (I know, I know…) so I was very meticulous in how everything would happen. I had him watch the brothers first so that he would know there was nothing to be afraid of (I’m sure I read that in some parenting magazine when I was waiting for my yearly with nothing better to do!).

Anyway, all of my attempts at a cautious approach weren’t even necessary. The kiddo climbs right up in the chair, his brothers stood nearby and held his hands (a definite awwwhow-sweet moment!) and the only tears that were spilled were mine as I watched the butcher hairstylist prepare to cut the locks from the head of my blessed baby.

I sidled up next to her like a cop at a crime scene and murmured, “I’m gonna need one of those locks of hair.”

“Don’t worry,” she told me, “I’ll put a lock of it onto a certificate before you leave.”

The Baby was very proud of his new haircut and posed for several photos before being led by the brothers to the toy drawer.

The Middle stood there with his hands deep in his pockets, looking guilty.

“What are you up to?” I asked.

He pulled out his hand to show me a tuft of blond. “I kept some of my hair,” he giggled.

“What are you gonna do with that?”

A little boy with a sensible haircut, now he just needs a sensible career!

“I’m gonna put it in my collection,” he answered.

“You don’t need to keep hair,” I told him.

“Why?”

“It’s disgusting,” I said as I ushered him to the front door.

“Ma’am,” the butcher hairstylist called as we walked out the door. “Don’t forget the certificate for his first haircut.” She handed me the certificate and…

“Oh, my God,” I gushed as tears formed under my lids, “look at that precious little locket of hair!” (Don’t judge me!)

A New Year, a Thousand Possible Resolutions

A new year, a thousand and one vows for all the things I’m going to accomplish this year.

There is a plethora of healthy food that needs to be introduced to my home. There is a ton of dirt, dust and clutter that needs to be removed from my home.

The weight I need to lose, the little tasks I need to accomplish, the organization I need to achieve in my life, the parenting skills I need to work on, the knowledge I need to pass on to my children, the projects I need to do for work, the books I’ve been planning to read, the writing I’ve been meaning to get around to, the friends and family that I haven’t kept in touch with, the photo’s that need to be put into photo albums, the photos that need to be freed from my camera…

Holy crap! There’s just too much to accomplish in a year. Maybe I’ll just grab a pizza and decide on one accomplishment for 2010. (And I’ll bet a pizza that I won’t be choosing the weight loss or healthy food options!).

Happy 2010 everyone!

Obesity in America, The Halloween Factor

Let me preface this post by stating that I am in no way in the picture of healthy living and healthy bodies. I could keep Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper tied up for years, trying to get my ass in good enough shape to run a lap around a track in less that a day and a half. But I have noticed a disturbing trend, that even fat people have to admit, must be stopped. It happens every year, on Halloween night, and if you’re in tune to your surroundings you may notice it.

Now, Halloween is only the beginning of the landslide into holiday dietary purgatory (or, “binge-and-purgitory” as I like to call it). It marks the beginning of a three month Bacchanalian celebration of chocolate, food and wine. It is the worst time in the world to be on a diet. But, even if you have fallen off that wagon and thrown healthy eating to the wind for the season, there are certain standards that must be upheld.

The problem that I am trying to bring to light, so that we can all discuss it, and heal, and move on, is the habit that people have fallen into of driving behind their children on Halloween night. That’s right, door to door, your precious little cherub runs, ringing doorbells and yelling, “Trick-or-Treat!” And door to door, you follow in the car like a stalker waiting and watching for the opportunity to snatch that innocent lamb right off the street.

First of all, it’s annoying to those of us who are walking with our children. We have to be extra cautious of our own children because the neighborhood has been inundated with cars following kids. There are more cars on Halloween in the subdivisions than any other time of year! We’re constantly on edge, wondering if that car is following that kid–or our kid–to snatch them? Also, the headlights and exhaust fumes are just obnoxious to have to deal with in the middle of all that “fresh air” we thought we’d be getting.

Most importantly though, and this goes back to the idea of standards, if you are going to go out, begging for candy (and you know you’ll be eating your fair share so it becomes your responsibility as well!), get your fat ass out there and walk around the neighborhood while your kid does the begging, just like all the rest of us fat asses are doing!

 

Why I Love Hockey

I am not one to watch televised sports. I like sports ok, I just can’t sit and watch them on television. If I’m going to watch a sport, I want to have each and every one of my senses assaulted during each and every minute of the game. I want my ears to ring from the noise level. I want my stomach churning from the combination of arena hot dogs with sauerkraut and onions, beer and too much cotton candy. I want my eyes to twitch from trying to follow the game, the big ass tv and the antics of the crowd all around me at once. I want my nose to sting from the bitter smell of peanuts, beer and the vomit on the floor at the feet of the 20-somethings two rows down. I want my hips to scream from the pressure of the stadium seats that press against them while the seat bottom presses behind my knees and slowly cuts off the circulation intended for my feet (really, folks would it be too hard to make bigger seats? If I was built like an athlete, I’d be out on the field with the athletes instead of sitting on my ass trying to balance beer and hotdogs on my belly!).

There is one sport, though that I even love on television. That sport is hockey. Now, I’m not going to try and pass myself off as the ultimate authority on hockey. I have a very rudimentary knowledge of the game, at best. The teams go back & forth across the ice trying to get the puck in their opponents net—got it! My fascination with the game is not so much about the beauty of the game as it is a much more Middle School-type of interest. The fact is: if there is going to be a fight, I’ll show up to watch. And, I just can’t get enough laughs out of some of the sentences that the word “puck” comes up in. Who can get enough of hearing the commentators tell us that the team needs to “get the puck out of the zone”, or “get the puck away from the goalie”? And my personal favorite is when a puck becomes airborne. Who doesn’t want to hear an old guy in a suit talk about “a flying puck”? Oh, the fun we have on hockey night.

Oh, and by the way, Go Avs!! And for those who aren’t Avs fans…take a flying puck!

Back to Bitching!

I’m back!

I decided it was finally time to put an end to my online “vacation”. The fact is, I’m no more well-rested, peaceful or pleasant to be around than I was several months ago, so why keep all this euphoria to myself?

What have I been up to for all these months? (OK, it’s only been 4 months, but in my mind it has seemed like an eternity to my two regular readers).  I’ve done some traveling, both for work and for pleasure. I’ve been to some awesome places and some that you can’t find on any formal map (as a matter of fact, the only maps some of these places are on are the hand-drawn napkin maps provided to me by the good folks at the middle of nowhere Conoco stations throughout the world!). Never in my life did I think that getting directions would include the words “turn at the big weed by the old fence post that’s still standing”, but you don’t know relief until you dodge that last mud-filled rut and almost run over that post!

I was also happy to go to some civilized locations. Phoenix (although I don’t recommend that in July–just sayin’!); Washington; Montana; Portland, OR; Sand Point, Idaho; Denver; and New Orleans (how the hell do you people live with that humidity??).

I spent some quality time with my kids, of course. The whole summer. Three entire months. All day, every day. Yep. Just me and the kids. As you can imagine, the sales for Sunshine Wheat had a dramatic increase during the summer. I think I also single-handedly financed grape harvesting for the next three years at Carlson Vineyards (gotta give a shout out for Laughing Cat Riesling!!).

I did suffer from one devastating event since I last posted.  I had another f***ing birthday. Good God, why don’t they ever stop? I was quite clear that I would NOT keep doing that shit past the age of 33 and yet they just keep coming. Like that girl who keeps knocking on my door every 3 weeks trying to share Bible passages with me and invite me to church. I keep saying, “No”, but they just keep coming. I stop answering the door, and they keep coming. I get all liquored up and pass out naked on the front lawn (with a shotgun!), and they keep coming. Eh! It’s so irritating. And I try my hardest to fight off aging. I exfolliate and moisturize and avoid smiling or showing any joy to avoid wrinkling my face (alright, and because I’m just completely incapable of expressing any joy!). Now, the one thing I want out of life, the one thing that will make me happy more pleasant is being denied to me by The Hubbin’. I mean, really, what does it matter if Botox freezes my face? I’m not gonna be smiling anyway, am I? I’m just going to continue looking at everyone with the same neutral expression I’ve been using for the past ten years, the one that doesn’t convey complete disgust with every person I come into contact with. It’s a little Botox. What else am I gonna ask for? A sewing machine? (LOL, oh, crap, I think I peed myself a little at the thought of that!)

So, yes. I’m still the same miserable, crabby, sarcastic, slacker mom I was 4 months ago. And I won’t be keeping my misery to myself any more!

 

 

What To Do?

My boys have been working on cleaning their room. Well, I wouldn’t really say they’re working on it because working implies that there is some degree of progress being made. And there has been NO progress. Not in two days. That’s right, I told them that they would have no tv or video games until they cleaned their room. That was five days ago. Then I told them that they were going to stay in their room until it was clean (coming out for meals and bathroom breaks, of course). That was Monday evening. It is now Wednesday afternoon and they have made NO progress.

The next weapon in my arsenal was to threaten them with the items they love so dearly. I told them that if they didn’t start making some progress I would come in and begin to relieve them of some of the clutter myself. Beginning with the DVD player. And still they made NO progress.

Armed with a trash bag I stormed into their room to capture my next vicitim in this viscious and unconscionable battle. As I rounded the corner I found my two oldest boys, not cleaning (which I totally knew) but sitting on the bed reading. Now, a part of my mind (the really tiny rational part) thought “Well, at least they’re reading”. But the bitchy, I-told-you-to-do-something-and-you-better-get-it-done-now, part of my brain (the great big throbbing, swollen part) didn’t give a shit what they were doing because the fact is, they were told to get their room clean–not read a book!

And then I heard what The Oldest was reading out loud as The Middle leaned attentively over his shoulder. “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” That’s right. My kids were busy screwing around…reading The Bible.

So, what do I do? I’m kind of an asshole if I punish my kids for reading The Bible when there are so many more pressing issues for them to deal with, like locating the source of the smells wafting from their room. And, I’ve never been terribly involved in my religion (beyond having one and knowing what to do if I ever find myself in Mass with no viable exit strategy) but even I know that I can be subjected to some very bad karma if I mess with the good book. So, I decided to compromise. To make the punishment so miniscule that it would hardly matter, but would still matter a little to the people who have just turned my furious rampage into a slow steam. I grabbed a toy soldier, one of the Barbie-doll sized ones with articulating joints. Only this one has no lower legs and only one hand. And, he’s naked. And neutered. So he really had a lot going against him anyway. I’m pretty sure he’s an unfortunate victim of the Underground Escape Network . He either was injured trying to make a break for it, got caught up with the wrong group of escapees, or was captured by the wardens boys trying to escape and was hobbled. Either way, he was forced to make the sacrifice for the rest of the platoon–which, incidentally, is still laying in the mounds of crap on the bedroom floor of two kids who are working very hard at making NO progress.

Don’t Be Afraid of Spiders. There Are So Many More Terrible Things.

Here is one of those conversations that, when you’re in the middle of it, it seems like you are leading it into a good and positive place. And then you get to the end and realize how terribly wrong it all went and that you may be single-handedly responsible for further damaging your child’s psyche (if you really want to).

I was watching The Middle and The Baby through the window. The Middle had a Tee set up and was teaching The Baby how to hit the ball. It was one of those moments that you just know you have to get on film but you also know that if you are seen they will stop and the moment will be lost forever. I grabbed my video camera and headed to the one window that I knew had both a great view and a screen that had detached from the corner of the frame. I slid the window open and recorded for a minute or two before being detected. Both boys came over to the window and The Baby reached his pudgy little hand up into the window frame. The Middle jumped back a foot, a mortified look on his face.
“He’s touching a spider web,” he yelled.
“It’s not a spider web,” I said, trying to quell the rising panic and future trauma of having witnessed someone actually touch a spider web.
“What is it then?”
I thought fast, looking for an answer that would seem less threatening. “It’s just a cobweb.” (That’s right, I have ripped screens and cobwebs….judge me)
“What’s a cobweb?”
“It’s nothing, “ I tried to brush it off, “just a dusty…thing.” (Really, the kid is 6 and has lived in my house every year since his birth, he should know what a cobweb is by now!).

A while later he asks, “What’s a cob?”
“What?” (By then I had forgotten about that whole conversation)
“What’s a cob?”
As I realized what he was talking about, I saw a golden opportunity to create my own legacy. A child-hood memory that my children could pass on to their children detailing the little known fable of the great and evil Cob. A creature so hideous, with yellow eyes and pointed teeth, that he is forced to hide in the corners of rooms and windows and under beds awaiting the nights when he is finally free to wander, feeding on anything left laying in his path. His one hope is that some night a child will have left a pile of clothing, toys or books high enough so that he can reach the bedding and pull himself up to the top of the bed. Once there he only needs to feed off the finger of a sleeping child and he will grow to the size of an elephant and will then rule the world. Just one finger is all he needs…

The story grew quickly in my head and tickled my tongue, wanting to be verbalized. And my mind, just as quickly began weighing the pros and cons of what I was about to say. A mental slide show raced through my head with images of me soothing The Middle from nightmares night after night after night. My mind also factored in the distribution of information, meaning that The Oldest would inevitably hear the story of the great and terrible Cob and he would also be up with nightmares every night. And that kid doesn’t need any more to fuel to fire his fears.

I‘m not proud to admit that I wrestled with my decision, and that both choices were equally tempting and I could imagine either decision warming my heart a little.

“Mom. What’s a cob?”
“There is no such thing as a cob, son.” There, I’d done it. I made the right choice. I was free from the temptation. No more stories growing in my mind, begging to be verbailized.
“Then, what makes a cobweb?”
ARRGH….

How I Ended Up On House Arrest

There was a time in my life when I considered myself soo responsible. I was responsible for getting myself to work, to school and to the gym on a regular basis. I was responsible for paying the rent on the Party Palace in a timely manner, assuring said party den had adequate electricity, was cleaned and that I had an amazing outfit to wear to any soiree that came up anywhere in town. At the time I considered myself a damn responsible person.

Now I realize that I was just blowing smoke up my own ass. I didn’t know a damn thing about real responsibility and how it comes back to bite you on the ass every once in a while. I had no idea that the time would come when I was responsible for the actions of every living creature that I have housed for a period longer than one nightmarish weekend. Not only am I held accountable for those creature’s every action, I am also judged by them. If my offspring drops an f-bomb in the recess line, it reflects on me. One of my children scribbles graffiti on the bathroom wall during a party at his martial arts studio– my status drops (it doesn’t help that the budding criminal is stupid enough to graffiti HIS OWN NAME!). I have absorbed the scrutiny of the world innumerable times in the few short years since I first unleashed my urchins on the world. Each time I have soundly swallowed my pride and attempted to make amends. And now…well…this time I’m essentially on house arrest for 10 days and I’m pissed.

This is the point at which I need to introduce you to another member of my family. The little bastard, I’ll just call him Li’l Bastard, came into our family about a year ago. Well, he didn’t really come into our lives so much as we went looking for him (a fact that hasn’t escaped me). Since that time he has worked diligently to diminish both my shoe collection and the value of our home.

Recently Li’l Bastard has been going AWOL every time we leave the house. In general, he’s just been a neighborhood nuisance, jumping the fence, running around visiting people and helping lost shoes find a new home. He is a very gentle dog; he wrestles with the kids but has never hurt one of them so I was mainly worried about his safety.

I spent $250 on a wireless fence system thinking it would be a quick fix since The Hubbin was out of town. I spent 2 days trying to get the perimeter of the wireless “boundary” figured out and putting up the white flags so the dog would know where the boundary was. The boundary seemed to move on an hourly basis, letting him through one minute and shocking him 5 feet before the marker the next. I boxed it up and took it back to the store to exchange it for an in-ground, “Stubborn Dog” version.

After my purchase I went to dinner at my sister-in-laws. After I had stuffed myself with a particularly good enchilada casserole I got a call from my neighbor. Li’l Bastard had gotten out—several times—and was now being housed in his garage. That wasn’t the end of the story. It seems as though Li’l Bastard bit someone who was jogging past our house (not that that urge has never occurred to me) and Animal Control had been called. The neighbor assured the dog cop that Li’l Bastard was up-to-date on his vaccinations so he wasn’t hauled off to the pound.

I had to contact Animal Control the next day, a dog cop was sent to my house and I showed proof of his license and vaccinations. Then she dropped the bomb. The damn dog is under quarantine for 10 days (in case he was exposed to rabies while running around). At the end of those 10 days I have a mandatory court date and will have to pay fines and restitution. Li’l Bastard isn’t allowed out of the house except for a potty furlough and isn’t allowed to leave the property. I can’t leave him in the garage because it’s too hot and he would destroy the house if I left him in. So, I am essentially stuck at home with a one-year-old boxer who is dangling from the curtains because he can’t go out and play.

I will accept the fines, even though he is The Hubbin’s dog and I will forever hold this over his head, but when did it become my responsibility to do the time for someone else’s crime? Responsibility sucks.

(And…for those of you who don’t know…if you’re running and a dog chases you…STOP RUNNING!!!)

The Felon on Furlough...and Looking For a Jogger
The Felon on Furlough...and Looking For a Jogger