Sunday, September 27, 2009


We went for an evening paddle last night. The sun was setting, the weather was perfect, and since there's a beautiful river just teeming with wildlife 15 minutes from our house, we decided to have dinner in the canoe. Sort of a floating pic-nic if you will. And truly, it was fabulous.... (Though since we're discussing honesty here, you should know that the real motivational factor here behind our Norman-Rockwell-ish family float, was that Gibson simply would not shut up about it, and refused to let me lay on the couch in peace and quiet. He continually badgered both of us, beating us about the head and neck with his constant questions. Can we go now? Will you get the boat down? Can we go now? If you get the boat down can I help you load it? Let's load it. Come on! Let's go....Let's go.... Let's go.... Can we go? Can we go canoeing? I really want to go canoeing... Can we? Can we? Can we go tonight? Can we have our dinner in the canoe? Can we? Can we? Can we? Can we go right now? Until I was all "OH MY GOD, if it will make you be quiet for more than 2 seconds then OK!!" )

So we floated and ate our dinner, and paddled around as the sun set, and it was fantastic.

And eventually, because the sun was actually setting and darkness was slowly rolling in, we called it a night, loaded up our boat and headed home. As we were driving home discussing the pleasures of our evening pic-nic, the kids started vying for dessert. So, on impulse, Mike pulled into a fast-food restaurant that serves ice-cream cones for $1.00. (I won't tell you which one, but it's name rhymes with NcBonalds)

There we were, having placed our orders for 3 chocolate dipped cones, and one just-plain-vanilla (because I somehow married a man who doesn't seem to grasp the virtues of chocolate) waiting in line behind the one person in the drive through who carefully checks the entire contents of her bag before pulling away. I can only imagine that she's seen that Lethal Weapon movie where Joe Pesci expresses extreme displeasure at having received a tuna salad sandwich, and was fully aware of what calamities might befall her in the drive-thru. And true to form, they'd forgotten her double-cheeseburger. So she's waving and honking to get the attention of the drive-through guy, who proceeds to hang out the window, 2 chocloate-dipped cones in hand, to have a 3 minute discussion with her about what may or may not be in the bag and whether or not she paid for it.

Eventually the two of them come to some sort of consensus and she slowly drives around the corner, having negotiated a deal in which the double-cheeseburger drop would take place at an alternate location so as not to hold up the rest of the line. We pull forward and drive-through window guy, now completely frazzled, hands the 2 already-melting chocolate-dipped cones into our window, which we promptly pass back to our salivating boys. Then he passes the 3rd chocolate dipped cone (for me, of course, because I don't want either of the ones he's been waving around for the past 3 minutes) into our car and closes the window. And then he straight up disappears. For a LONG time. And there we sit......waiting for the obviously forgotten just-plain-vanilla cone.

I take this opportunity to chastise Mike by pointing out that had he just ordered the clearly superior chocolate dipped cone like all the rest of us, we wouldn't be sitting here in this Joe-Pesci-Tuna-Sandwich-they-&#^$*%-you-in-the-drive-through-predicament. And then I lick my cone a few times for good measure, and also because, dang, it's melting everywhere....

The logical thing for Mike to do at this point, naturally, is to start making smart-assed comments. And I knew it was coming. Because let's face it.... part of the reason I married him was for his insufferable sense of humour. And frankly, he married me because I think obnoxious things are funny, which makes me good for his ego. (See how that works?) He starts in. He makes self-deprecating comments about himself and his inability to conform, ornery comments about the woman in front of us who frazzled frazzled-drive-through-guy in the first place, and of course, he pokes fun directly at frazzled drive-through guy.

So I have to admit that I've already got a pretty hearty giggle going on when frazzled-drive-through-guy reappears, scurrying frantically back and forth behind the drive through window -- where we've now been patiently waiting for......Oh........ I don't know, like 10 minutes? He grabs the next bag in the line of food waiting to be distributed, and speaking to someone over his shoulder, opens up the window and begins to pass the goods. And as proper customer service would dictate, half-way through this action he turns to make eye-contact with the family he's passing food to and.... SURPRISE!!!! It's us. Still waiting for the just-plain-vanilla.

Frazzled-drive-through-guy's eyes get wide with recognition as Mike raises his hand in a small wave and I take an extra big lick of my ice-cream cone. He mumbles something incoherent, closes the window and proceeds with great haste to run for the just-plain-vanilla. Mike continues to poke fun at the poor dude, making up a running dialog that surely mirrors what the guy has to be thinking, while I, naturally, am yucking it up in the passenger seat, laughing uproariously at Mike's imitation.

Frazzled-drive-through-guy dashes back to the window, throws it open, and thrusts the plain vanilla in Mike's direction.
"I'm so sorry!" he says as Mike takes the cone.
"Hey, don't worry about it." says Mike. "It wasn't a problem".
And at that particular moment, Gibson leans up in his seat in order to make sure that frazzled-drive-through-guy sees him, shifts his eyeballs in Mike's direction, and says "He was making fun of you."

His statement causes everyone to pause for a second because it's SO obvious that that's EXACTLY what's been going on, and Mike - totally busted - starts to grin. I can't control myself at this point, and I practically choke on my ice-cream as I crow with laughter, cover my tearing eyes with my free hand, and do my best to maintain an upright position -- which is nearly impossible due to the intense abdominal contractions that accompany my hysterical guffaws.

Now luckily for us, frazzled-drive-though-guy has a sense of humor, AND he's fully aware that he totally and completely screwed up our order. So much to our relief, he and Mike look at each other and share a good laugh. And frankly -- I think that frazzled-drive-through-guy needed the kind of release that a good laugh can bring, and I like to think we did him a favor......

But Gibson -- our self-righteous, holier-than-thou child -- slides indignantly back into his seat and pouts. "WHAT?!" he practically shouts. "ALWAYS tell the truth!"

Indeed child. Indeed.

Especially if telling the truth will provide you with a free opportunity to embarrass the Hell out of your father.

Monday, September 21, 2009

When they butcher the phrase, yet somehow manage to make perfect sense........

"Hang on.... I'm going to go cut myself a big piece of slack."
You go, little man. Cut me one while you're at it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WARNING: This post contains unsolicated advice regarding dog ownership,which may be offensive to those with more patience than me.

So I was highlighting my hair... (because you may remember in an earlier post that my kindergartner decided his 60-something-ish teacher was hotter than me, and for cryin' out loud, I had to do something....) and after 30 painstaking minutes of trying to get the activator stuff in all the right places, I realize that it's eerily quiet in the house. So, naturally, like any responsible parent who hasn't been paying a lick of attention to anything but herself for the past half-hour, I wander out of the bathroom and start yelling the names of my children. Turns out that they're outside playing in the part of the flower-bed they've claimed for their sandbox. (On a side note, it drives Mike crazy that they play in there, stomping on the various greenery and such. But you'll note that while he claims to hate it, and makes a big stink every time they get to digging around and driving their trucks through it, he has NOT actually taken any steps toward putting in the sandbox they've been asking for for 3 years now..... But I digress......)

Since my children are accounted for, and since I don't particularly care if they play in that corner of the flower-bed, I walk into the kitchen and set the timer for 20 minutes. But something just seems amiss.....Something I can't quite put my finger on....... and then I realize what it is. No dog. And because the universe has a fabulous sense of humor, precisely when I have this realization the phone rings. It's my neighbor, Mindy, from down the street. She's at the pool with her kids and at least half the neighborhood. And so's my dog. Barking his fool head off at everybody, trying to get someone -- anyone -- to throw him the disgustingly slobbery tennis ball he's scavenged from the woods.

Apparently he's been there for right around 30 minutes -- which means that the instant he knew I was totally and completely distracted, he made a break for it. The kids get lost in their own little world of make-believe, and leave the door standing wide open as they trek in and out gathering more props for their story-line. Sammy, large though he is, can be incredibly stealthy, somehow shrinking in size and disappearing down the street like a theif making a mid-night get-away. Luckily, Mindy thinks it's funny that he's there -- barking incessantly as he tries to badger someone into playing fetch. But I know there are people there who don't, and I groan as I take stock of the situation. There I am -- highlight activator shit gooped into my hair, sporting a ratty old T-Shirt that I don't care if I get bleach on, and a pair of light colored Capri pants that totally show the navy blue pair of underwear I have on. Obviously, I wasn't planning on leaving the house anytime soon.

"Gibson!" I yell out the door. "Sammy's at the pool! Can you get on your bike and go get him?" He looks skeptically at me like he can't believe I'm about to send a 7 year old out on a solo retrieval mission. But I am, because I'm desperate. I describe my situation to my neighbor, who laughs and compares me to the crazy lady who shows up out in public in her bathrobe and slippers with curlers in her hair..... which, if I'm honest, is pretty close. "I'm sending Gibson for him, so keep your eye out, will ya'?" I ask. She agrees, and then I hear her talking to someone in the background. "Oh! Hey Rachel..." she says. "Robin is here and she says she can bring Sammy home if you want her to."


"Ummmm no, that's OK. Tell her Gibson's on his way.... but Thanks!"
Robin* is another neighbor of mine. One I had a falling out with last summer -- over the goddamn dog and his multiple escapes to the pool. (Seriously -- for a hundred pound lab, he's one heck of a Houdini.) She didn't know me very well then, and I think it's safe to say that she'd made some assumptions about me that weren't very accurate. And though that whole situation makes for a good long story, with lots of drama and name-calling, I'm not going to tell it here. We've patched things up, the two of us, and it's just not worth cracking the lid on that can of worms. I know that her offer to bring Sammy home is just an extension of her goodwill -- further proof that we've buried the hatchet -- but it makes my stomach hurt a little all the same.

I close my eyes and rest my gooped-up head against the cupboard while Mindy keeps me posted on the situation. Gibson's there.................. He's trying to get a handle on Sammy. Looks like he forgot the leash..................... Sammy doesn't appear to want to listen. He's laying down in the grass and won't get up.....................Oh wait.......... Gibson has Sammy's ball. Sammy's getting up now. OK -- Now he's following Gibson................. No, he's not............. Wait. Yes, he is.................. They're crossing the bridge........ Headed into the woods............ Looks like they're on their way home. Should be there in 5 minutes.
I thank Mindy and hang up, grateful that she was there to give me the head's up, and also grateful that I didn't have to show up at the neighborhood pool looking like the crazy lady in the bathrobe and curlers showing off her dark colored panties.

And at the risk of offending any dog-lovers who may be reading my incessant drivel..... I'm going to go ahead and state for the record that once you have kids DOGS ARE A GIGANTIC PAIN IN THE ASS. That's right. You heard me. A pain in the ass. And every time I hear someone who has children muse about how wonderful it would be to get the kids a dog I want to hurl myself at their feet and wrap my arms around their ankles begging and pleading with them -- for the love of God! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease -- not to do it.

I know the idea sounds romantic. I even know the images that they conjure up in their heads when they consider it. But here's what hasn't even crossed their minds. They have yet to imagine what it will be like when they're dealing with 50 other things that the kids have going on in the front yard and the dog decides to saunter into the yard next door and casually take a gianormous horse-sized crap RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE NEIGHBOR who just happens to be out working in his flower bed. They don't consider what it's like to drop everything they were holding to yell out "Sorry Ken!!! I'll be right there to get that!!!!!!! while they frantically dig around for a plastic bag and scramble over into his yard, smiling sheepishly and trying to make polite small talk while they scrape up the enormous poo mound.

I bet they haven't given any thought to how much fun it will be when they walk in the front door, having left the house to run a quick errand, to find the entire contents of the kitchen garbage can strewn all over the first floor of the house. Two days worth of coffee grounds, onion peels, broccoli butts, the leftover scrapings from last night's dinner, empty cereal bags, moldy cheese, egg shells, breadcrumbs and anything else that may have gotten stuffed in there over the past few days...... Everywhere. Every. Where. Ground into the teeny-tiny cracks between the hardwood planks so that once they have all the big stuff cleaned back up, it takes an additional 40 minutes of scrubbing - on their hands and knees, of course - to get all the gunk out of there. And how maybe, if they're lucky, their dog will be wearing the top of the garbage can like a cone collar that he couldn't get off his head once he'd decided to go for broke.

They don't consider how much fun it will be to wrestle him down and pry the can lid off, as he yelps in pain because the opening of the trash can lid isn't all that big to begin with -- purchased specifically so he COULDN'T jam his big head into it -- and all that backwards prying is hurting his ears. And I know they're not imagining that the wrestling match would take place after they'd spent a solid 10 minutes chasing him around the house, while he dodged their grasp like a slick pig because he knew that he was in trouble, but he's a lab and the garbage can was RIGHT THERE and oh-my-god-he just couldn't help himself.

And I'll bet they also haven't considered how much fun it will be when he trots inside after consuming approximately 5 gallons of dirt -- because HEY! Why Not?!?! -- unbeknownst to the rest of the family who were busily planting a garden next to the house. And how he'll accompany that tasty meal with about 5 gallons of water, because a meal of nothing but dirt can make a dog VERY thirsty. And then, they'll find out the hard way, that 5 gallons of dirt plus 5 gallons of water is just a taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad bit more than a doggy stomach can hold. And it'll be nothing but AWESOME when pukes it all back up on the family room floor an hour later while they're playing a bowling game with the kids, enjoying a family night for the first time in a month.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that they haven't even imagined yet how this might cause the husband of the family to scream "OH MY GOD!!!" while he runs for some towels to try to contain that gastro-intestinal disaster, while his wife stands there in horror, paralyzed by the sight of the gigantic black tsunami oozing it's way across the family room floor and underneath the kid's geo-tracks. And how she wants to move -- she really does -- but she can't, because she's still trying to figure out how that brackish puddle, easily measuring 10 feet in diameter, could ever have actually fit inside that stupid dog to begin with.

Pain in the ass, I tell you!

Oh -- We loved our dog once. We did! He even accompanied us on our honeymoon. But this was before kids - and like it or not, kids change everything. In fact, before you give me that "you-obviously-don't-love-your-dog-the-way-I-do-and-I-would-never-be-like-you-you-cold-hearted-bitch" look, I want you to know that I've been there. I've stood right in those shoes. You may find this hard to believe, but once upon a time, I stood in the middle of my sister-in-law's kitchen skeptically listening to her mother explain how once you have kids you look down and realize that your dog is just a dog. And I glanced up to see that exact look on my husband's face. And I knew what he was thinking because I was having precisely the same thoughts myself....

But HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Joke's on us. Because it turns out that she was right. At some point in between the middle-of-the-night feedings, and the rocking, and the soothing, and the diaper changing, and the laundry folding, and the bed-time-stories, and the meal preparation, and the kitchen cleaning, and everything else that goes into raising a family, he became just a dog. And one gigantic pain in my ass.

I could continue. Just go on, and on, and on, and on, but I won't. First and foremost because I have SO much material to support my case, that this post would never end. And second, because I think I've made my point.

So if you're thinking about getting a dog, by all means, don't let me dissuade you. I mean they're sweet, and lovable, and they're always happy to see you, and no matter what they love you so much, and yeah, yeah, yeah..... They're all of that. But don't be fooled into thinking that they're not a giant pain in the ass too.

I'm just sayin'............

And you should know that I'm not above saying I told you so.

* Name changed to protect the newly mended "hey, we like each other" nature of our relationship.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rhyming Fun. Brought to you by the letters F and U.

I know I've been writing about Landis a lot lately, but... well... he's the one providing the material these days. And lest you think I'm ignoring Gibson, don't worry. I'm not. He may be walking the straight and narrow right now, but I have no doubts that he'll do something obnoxious here shortly that I'll chronicle on-line for all the world to see...... Just hang in there.

So what was I saying? Oh yes. Landis -- Here's the deal. Lately he's been into rhyming the last word of whatever sentence you happen to be speaking to him at the moment. Any word qualifies for his new little rhyming game, and for some reason that makes sense only to him, he's rhyming them all with the letter F.

It's mildly annoying, this new Tourette's-like habit he's begun, but we go with it. Because it's not like he doesn't communicate or that he doesn't answer any questions you might be asking. He just rhymes first. And I imagine that this new little exercise will get old sooner than later and eventually he'll stop. (At least I hope he does. Good God, can you imagine his future job interviews?) But for the time-being, it goes something like this:

"Did you have a good day at school today?" Today, Foo-day! Yeah. It was pretty good.

"Do you have any homework?" Homework, Fomework! No.

"Ok -- Well get outside and play." Play, Fay! Will you help me get my bike out?

"It's time for dinner!" Dinner, Finner!

"Wash your hands....." Hands, Fands!

"Get your drinks......" Drinks, Finks!

"And come to the table." Table, Fable!

"Did you get to see any of your camp friends at school?" School, Fool! Yes, I saw Jonathan. I got to play with him at the playground.

"Oh, that's great! I heard Jonathan's teacher is Ms. Lucky." And as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized what was coming next. So did Mike. We connected silently across the table with that mildly panicky "oh shit" look as Landis replied to my statement - loudly, I might add - in his standard rhyming fashion.

And then I casually changed the subject and "Hey! More green beans anyone?" so that Gibson would not have an inkling that his 5 year old brother just yelled a serious profanity over the pork fajitas. I mean, they already get a cheap thrill from insulting each other with their arsenal of 'bad' words: Poopy-poopy butt-crack, weenus, crap, and of course, the infamous "S" words -- which every parent of young children knows are Stupid and Shut Up.

So let me take this opportunity to say Thank God for Ms. Hoskins -- and the fact that we never have to utter Ms. Lucky's name in our household ever again. At least not while we're still rhyming everything with the letter F.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Just one more way that having kids keeps you grounded

We haven't had a chance to meet Landis's teacher yet. They stagger the entry of Kindergartners here in Charlotte, so they only go 1 day during the first week of school. They do all their testing, get a chance to learn the ropes a little, and then at the end of that first week they get assigned to a classroom. My understanding is that this process helps make things more even and balanced in each classroom. Gib's teacher we met at the open house -- all young and blond and perky and cute and exactly what comes to mind when you think "1st grade teacher". (I predict that Gibson is going to come home with a crush sometime in the next few weeks, because, sheesh... I would.) But Ms. Hoskins remains a mystery -- a name announced in a message on our answering machine. So after the first few days of school, I asked Landis what she was like.
"Do you like her?" Yes.
"Is she nice?" Yes, but she doesn't let them touch the pictures on the walls in the hallway.
"Well, what else can you tell me about her?" He didn't know.
"What color hair does she have?" Brown.
"How old do you think she is?" Puzzled look.
"Hang on... Let me re-phrase that. Do you think she's older than mommy or younger than mommy?" Landis cocked his head sideways and studied me for a while. Younger.
"Is that all you have for me?" Shoulder shrug.

OK -- Since prying information out of Landis is a lot like prying info out of my husband, or my brother, here's what I can gather thus far: She's a nice lady who makes them exercise some self-control in the hallways. She's got brown hair, she's maybe late 20's -- which means she probably has some experience under her belt -- and he likes her. Good enough for me.

Last week, I opened Landis's "daily take home folder" to find a letter of introduction from Ms. Hoskins. "Hello" it started. "My name is 'I'm-not-giving-her-real-first-name' Hoskins and I have been teaching for 40 years." HUH?! Wha....?! Rewind! What did that say?!?! Did that say she's been teaching for 40 years? Surely not. SURELY I read that wrong. Let's try again, shall we?

"Hello. My name is 'I'm-not-giving-her-real-name-this time-either' Hoskins and I have been teaching for 40 years."

Math has never been my strong-suit, but let's see... ummmmm... 40 plus...ummm....average age of a college graduate.....let's see here.....ummmmmmmmmm.....carry the 1....... Based on my rough calculations she has to be AT LEAST 62 years old. Which, OK -- hooray -- she has all kinds of experience and she's rock-solid in the classroom, and yadda, yadda, yadda. None of that crap matters. Because y'all, the important part here, if you'll recall, is that Landis said that she was YOUNGER than me. And may I also point out that this determination of his was made after some careful study on his part.

Now I know that I had a busy summer. I know that my mornings were early, my days were long, and that my showers were not by any means regular. I can't even remember the last time I wore make-up to work, let alone spent time on my hair. But come on........ (Sigh.......)


I don't care if she's in her 60's. When I finally do get to meet Ms. Hoskins, she'd better be smokin' hot.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Do you have a minute? Because I have someone I want you to meet.

So I got this email from my friend Lynn the other day announcing that she has officially joined the land of the mommy-bloggers. Which, I have to tell you, is really good news. To be frank, I can't believe she didn't do it sooner. I mean, Lynn is actually a writer. She went to journalism school and everything. Studied the stuff. Unlike yours truly here, who majored in ...ummmmmmm...recreation. (No. Really. I did. Want to go whitewater rafting? I can take you. Set up a top-rope climb? Check. Plan meals for a backpacking expedition? No sweat. Understand the nuances of writing like a professional? Not so much.)

I write about butts and poop and how my life revolves around the bodily functions and potty humor of two squirrely little boys. I re-tell obnoxious stories about their antics around the dinner table. (Like how my 5 year-old stabbed half a cherry tomato onto the end of his fork and announced, in a self-satisfied voice, that he had a little pecker.) I roll over and show you our dirty underbelly -- how it's all covered in dog-hair and piled with dirty laundry, and just crying out for a good scrubbing.

Lynn? She writes beautiful prose about Aztec super-grains like quinoa, and how motherhood is the work of the heart. She conjures up spectacular images with her words, and her descriptions are almost tangible as they come to life in my imagination. My favorite line so far is her depiction of how motherhood and writing go together. "The two feed one another" she writes. "snakes swallowing each other's tails, a writhing circle of struggle and consumption."

Oh yeah? Well... Fart, Fart, Butt, Poop.

What else should I tell you about Lynn? She has 4 kids. Four kids that she gave birth to naturally. That's right. All 4 of 'em. I, in stark contrast to my labor-embracing friend, was that woman who grabbed the anesthesiologist by the ears, pulled his face within millimeters of my own so that there would be no misunderstanding, and in between my deep, panting breaths every 2 minutes, barked something along the lines of "LISTEN UP CHUMP! The last time I was in here my epidural didn't work because - unbelievably - the guy who put it in didn't get it in the right place! AND LET ME BE PERFECTLY CLEAR THAT I'M NOT DOING THAT CRAP AGAIN!!! You'll put this epidural in, you'll put it in RIGHT NOW, and you'll damn well get it in the RIGHT PLACE! Kapeesh?!?"

My girl Lynn? She knew she was in labor, so she took a nap. She figured she'd need her rest if the baby was coming that day.

While I wrestled around with feelings of inferiority and inadequacy as a full-time stay-at-home-mom, Lynn relishes it. Finds purpose in it. Is fulfilled by it. Me? If I ain't bringing home at least a little bacon, I can't freakin' stand it. No matter how often Mike referred to it as "our" money, or acknowledged how much work goes into raising the boys and making the household run smoothly, I simply couldn't stand it. I don't care if I'm only bringing in ten dollars a week -- it's MY ten dollars. MY contribution. One I can see immediately. One I can deposit. One I don't have to wait 18 years for in order to determine the success of my work. Don't get me wrong -- I loved the time I got to spend with my boys. That part was wonderful. And I'm not by any means saying that I felt inadequate as a mom. Just as a partner. As a "contributing" member of the household. (And before you come through my computer screen screeching at me about how much stay-at-home-parents work and how much they contribute and how their sacrifices are invaluable I want you to know that I don't need the lecture. I know it. I've been there. I've done it. The issue is with my own ego and nothing more. I feel better about myself when I work -- for a paycheck.) My point here, is that Lynn is able to embrace it fully in a way I never could.

And regardless of our differences, I laugh at all of our commonalities.... We both really enjoy being moms. I know she totally gets how the times I want to pull my hair out by the roots are far outweighed by the times I have to hold onto my heart with both hands. I'm encouraged by the fact that she has piles of laundry so unattended that her husband's shirt molded. (I don't think we've actually hit mold yet, but we sure can work up a good wet stink.) And I love that she feels like she spends her life in the kitchen, feeding her hungry brood. Stuffing them full of love and encouragement, serving up support and clearing away the mess. Because I do too.

The difference is, she writes it down all pretty-like. So I think you should click on over and catch up with Lynn. You'll find her in her kitchen, feeding her hungry, and I'm sure she's serving something satisfying. Tell her Rachel sent ya.