Sunday, March 31, 2013

Great Expectations

I really thought today would be different.  I did.  After all, my youngest has already reached the august age of 7, and we have only 4 children at home this Easter; there's no reason not to be able to pull off a civilized sort of Easter dinner, with everyone sitting down at the same time.  I even stacked the odds in my favor by keeping it simple - roast beef sandwiches (PB&J for the vegetarians) on delicious bakery rye bread, with ice cream sundaes for dessert.  No worrying about different hot dishes being ready at the same time, no mountains of pots and pans to detract from the holiday atmosphere. 

Pictures like these make me weep.
So I gave it the old college try.  I had the children spread the Easter tablecloth (well, not cloth, exactly - more like vinyl, with pictures of bunnies and eggs on it, but "cloth" sounds better, doesn't it?) and set out matching plates (an Easter miracle, right there - 6 matching plates, albeit plastic and from Target), along with pretty dishes of strawberries and pickles.  Also? A little plate of sandwich toppings.

I was going for ambience, people, in a minimalist sort of way. 

Reality, however, intervened.  Wait, did I say intervened?  I meant to say, reality jumped behind the wheel of a Mack truck and drove it straight through any foolish fantasies of wholesome family togetherness that I might have had the temerity to entertain.

Susie spent most of lunch screaming in her room because she WANTED EGG SALAD (we hadn't dyed the eggs yet, so I wasn't letting anyone touch them).  David spent the first half of our holiday meal guarding her door.  Larry, after finishing his own meal, replaced David at his post so that he could have some lunch, but not before having to jump up from the table to respond to an emergency involving an exploding can of Coca Cola.  It was messy.  Very messy. 

All in all, today felt like any other day around our kitchen table, only louder.  And with better bread...

[Easter table image: SheKnows]

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Lite

Our long-suffering townhouse neighbors have figured out a way to exact revenge.  Either that, or it's a normal thing to start tearing up one's kitchen floor at 11 PM on a Friday.  So, yeah, getting to bed early this evening didn't quite work out for me.  I don't really mind, as I have to finish up my work contract, anyway.

Of course, once I do that, I'll be unemployed.  But at least I'm not enduring the agony of a DIY kitchen remodel.  And maybe the lack of extra income will keep Larry from tearing out any more walls in this house of ours.  One can only hope.

Pretty, but definitely beyond our skill level
I hope no one is expecting an uplifting post about Easter here.  I've spent the week pretending it wasn't bearing down on us; so now I have to spend tomorrow racing around, searching for eggs suitable for dying.  No one here has ever quite gotten over the trauma of that long-ago Easter when I bought eggs with brown shells by mistake.

For the record, brown plus any color?  Equals brown.

I do give myself credit for the fact that a few years ago I convinced the kids that the perfect Easter dinner would be ham sandwiches and make-your-own ice cream sundaes.  Feel free to copy my awesomeness.  I don't know about you, but I have no desire to cook a big dinner at the beginning of spring.  Thanksgiving?  Yes.  Christmas?  Certainly.  But spring, when it's actually nice outside and there's no need to hunker down in the kitchen and churn out carb-laden comestibles?  No.  Absolutely not.

Okay, time to get some work done here.  Over and out...

[Easter eggs image: Just Short of Crazy]

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Stinks

You know, in these parts, we used to refer to this time of year as "Cherry Blossom Season." We'd look forward to the gradual unfolding of these delicate flowers and even take bets as to when "peak bloom" would occur.  Oh, the gloriousness of those pink blossoms against a perfect blue sky!

But now?  We're all just living in grim anticipation of the spring day when the stinkbugs emerge from hibernation and, instead of heading outside, bumble obnoxiously into our living spaces.  You know what's fun?  Being awakened from a sound sleep by the buzzing sound of one stupid stinkbug that has decided to fly around the bedroom in the middle of the night and divebomb your head.  Also fun?  Finding a stinkbug sitting on a toothbrush that has been mistakenly left out on the bathroom vanity overnight.

Trying to decide where I want to run away to...

Hope is the thing without stinkbugs

[Cherry blossom image: TakeTours]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Look Before You Link

I have JenniferJo over at Mama's Minutiae to thank for the fact that my skin is crawling and I will never get to sleep again.  That's because she posted a link that she said made her happy.  Very happy, even.  I believe the word she used was gleeful.  Hey, I thought, I could definitely use some of that!  And I clicked

What started out as an amusing tale about a marital squabble over a husband's duty (or not) to catch nighttime spiders descended into a blog post discussing thousands of glittering spider eyes, the painfulness of army ant attacks, and a bed covered in cockroaches.  Oh, and let's not forget the picture of the termite mound...

I think I need some sort of Internet filter that blocks any website that mentions bugs.   I also think JenniferJo's version of "gleeful" might be a little bit skewed.  Either that, or she has it in for me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wardrobe 911

I decided to try on a couple of pairs of jeans yesterday in Kohl's, when I took Rachel there to buy a white blouse for choir.  That was a big mistake.  BIG MISTAKE.

I've been watching what I eat ALL WINTER, dammit.  I'm really fed up with this disappearing waistline thing.  In fact, I'm ready to ditch jeans all together and just wear elastic waist pants from now on.  Let's see, I think I saw some decent ones at Lands End...maybe you should all help me out here.

How about these?  The problem is, do I need to get all new shirts to go with them?  Shouldn't I be wearing more of a tunic-length with pants like these?  And what about shoes?  I can't wear Dansko clogs with these, can I?  That would look weird, sort of like hooves, right?

See, Larry wonders why I am walking around in jeans that are too tight and full of holes, because he doesn't understand that one simple purchase morphs into the mind-boggling exercise of revamping my entire wardrobe.  I could weep.  And not just because the button on my jeans is digging into my stomach....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Open Road

Okay, I'm back.  I just needed to recover from last weekend's mulch extravaganza.  Plus, Theo is home for Spring Break -- his LAST SCHOOL VACATION EVER, because he will graduate and be commissioned in May and will belong to the Army for at least 4 years.  So I needed to spend a good amount of time just looking at him and telling unsolicited stories about his childhood to anyone who would listen (no one).

I swear, it feels as if it were just yesterday that I wrote this post about his first leaving for college.  YESTERDAY.  And now, here I am, waxing maudlin all over again. 

If I ask nicely, maybe he'll give me a ride...
 Also, he bought a brand-new used car this week.  Larry helped Theo shop for it and then left him at the dealer to finish the paperwork and drive it home.  "By himself?" I asked.  "Can he do that?"

"It's HIS car," Larry said.  "He has a license.  Do you want him to have training wheels or something?"

Well, yes - something like that.  The thought of his being allowed to drive HIS VERY OWN CAR home from the dealership struck me as absurd as Larry and I being allowed, over 21 years ago, to walk out of the hospital with our very own baby, as if we actually knew what we were doing.  Crazy, I tell you - just crazy.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and warm my shoulder, which is sending me twinge-y pain messages.  It's the left one, the one I seem to have injured during the many years I spent hoisting up hefty toddler legs in order to clean poopy bottoms. I believe the medical term would be "diaper shoulder."  But, hey, I'm not complaining.  Now that all my children are driving off into the sunset (have I mentioned that Anna bought herself the cutest little used pickup truck ever?), it's all I have left to remind me of the good ol' days.

Well, that, and the other 4 kids who are still at home...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Man Cold

We food-tent ladies did not dress like this.
I have just survived another Boy Scout Mulch Weekend, festivities I used to wisely refrain from participating in, until I got roped into running the food tent. Pretty much all day Friday and Saturday were taken up by running to Costco, setting up the tent, feeding hordes of hungry boys, reheating food on camp stoves, and praying for the rain to hold off. All of which would have been okay, had Susie not been up in the wee hours of Friday morning with the croup, meaning I didn't sleep and then had to squeeze in a doctor's appointment before the Costco run; and had Susie not been weeping with exhaustion by the time I was able to leave the food tent on Friday evening (a scene repeated on Saturday morning and Saturday night).  Also? Sometime during my all-night croup vigil, I managed to catch the same cold.

So, yeah, I felt AWESOME during all this.  Short on sleep, sick, and stressed as hell listening to my neglected daughter cry...

So, today!  A day blessedly free of mulch, and guess who has the cold now?  Larry, of course.  Only he's a MAN.  He keeps reminding me of how sick he is and how HARD he worked yesterday.  Join the club, buddy - join the damn club.

 22 years of marriage, and he still doesn't realize I can out-bitch his grumpiness?  What's up with that?

[Scouts image: Punching Kitty]
[Man cold image: Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine]

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Paradise Lost

Rachel had a very exciting afternoon planned today.  She was going to ride her bike with her thirteen-year-old neighbor/friend all the way to the little village center a mile from our home, buy some treats, and then ride back.  Never having been allowed out biking without a grown-up before (aside from right in our own neighborhood), she was as excited as a 10-year-old with new-found freedom could be.

So! The girls parked their bikes outside the drugstore and went in to purchase some candy.   They walked out of the store in time to see an older teen pedaling away, hell-for-leather, on my daughter's bright blue bike, the one with the gears and the water-bottle cage, the one she was so happy to inherit from Brian only the week before. 

And I would just like to say to this poor excuse for a human being, "Thanks for being an asshole.  Thanks a whole lot."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Time Is A False Construct, Anyway

The daylight savings time clock change is KICKING MY BUTT.  We just had breakfast, and it is almost time for lunch. 

This is what DST feels like right now.

That is all.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Contra Indicated

Have I ever mentioned that, while I am under 5 feet tall, Larry happens to be OVER 6 feet?  It's true - there is exactly a 14-inch height differential between us.  As you can imagine, this has made for a 20-year relationship devoid of such activities as dancing, or even running, together.

Well, okay, we don't go running together because I am philosophically opposed to such masochistic behavior.  But, even if I weren't?  We wouldn't.

Didn't work for us...
 Over these 20-some years, we have made various pathetic attempts to keep our marriage lively and vibrant, mostly with walks (during which we discuss such stimulating topics as the kids, money, and other problems) and the oft-recommended date nights (ditto) - but recently we had pretty much given up on that, seeing as how they just don't seem to work for us.

 Do click on that link - it's classic.

So imagine my surprise yesterday when Larry, upon hearing my announcement that I was going to attend a local contra dance with free lessons before the main event, told me he was going also.

Let's make something perfectly clear: NEITHER of us is a dancer.  I can barely clap in time to music.  Yet, deep within me, there has always been a desire to learn some of these traditional dances; and happily, as I am turning 50 this year, I seem to be slowly acquiring the inestimable gift of  being incapable of embarrassment. 

So, we went.  All the way from the parking lot, we discussed (well, I discussed, Larry listened - or not, who knows) whether or not we should really go.  You see, my PTSD was definitely kicking in.  The last time I had tried anything like this was in 7th grade gym class - for some reason we had a week dedicated to square dancing, during which I was forcibly partnered with Kevin Kashuba, who made funny faces behind my back.

That experience was, as you might expect, devastating to my 12-year-old psyche.  So we (I) decided that we would go in, see if the people looked intimidating (or like my long-lost 7th-grade nemesis), and  - if they did - pretend we had wandered in by mistake and leave.

No one was dressed like this.

End of story?  We stayed.  We danced (to the best of our abilities).  Prior to this experiment, I had confided to my one contra-dancing friend that I was nervous I'd mess up.  Her advice?  Keep moving!  Laugh!  Smile!  So I did that.  I believe I may even have come off as slightly manic.  By break time, 2 hours in, Larry and I were both soaked with sweat and exhausted.

Meanwhile, the older couples were still out on the dance floor, practicing a waltz that the obliging fiddlers were playing for them.

"Gosh," I said, loudly.  "Love to stay, but...uh...the kids need us!  Yup!"  and Larry and I staggered out to the parking lot, practically holding each other up.

Let's not even talk about how I feel this morning.  I understand my legs feeling ache-y, but my rib cage?  What's up with that?

In short, yesterday evening I had the most exercise AND the most fun I have had in YEARS.  Think about it - I spent the evening holding hands with a bunch of other people, swinging around in a circle, skipping back and forth, and (as directed) smiling and laughing.  Also?  Some twirling happened.  In short, I felt like a kid again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some sewing to do.

[Date night image: Cheaper Than Therapy]
[Costume image: The Reel Thing]
[Pattern image: Etsy]

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Meteorologists Can't Be Trusted

Um, let's just not talk about today's major snow disappointment, all right?  If you need the sorry details, you can check out Buzzfeed's rundown of the (non)event.  Suffice it to say that my kids handled it all with remarkable grace, while their mother hid in her bedroom closet and had a tantrum.

Gah - 70's mom hair
And now, to top it all off, my husband tells me Bonnie Franklin is dead.  AND I read that Valerie Harper is dying.  People, I was not a social butterfly in my youth.  I spent all my weekend nights at home or at my friend's house, watching sitcoms such as Rhoda and One Day at a Time.  And, yes, Loveboat.  So it feels as if all my friends are dying off, friends who - for me, anyway - are frozen as they were in the 1970's, young and energetic and sassy. 

Does this look like 73 to you?

Oh, all right, Bonnie was sort of annoying.  I only watched that show because I wanted to be just like Valerie Bertinelli.  But still, Ann Romano can't possibly be old enough to be dead, can she?  In my mind, she's always the thirty-something divorcee with the bad hair.  And Valerie Harper is forever the wise-cracking, thirty-something Rhoda Morgenstern.  Even though she is actually 73.  SEVENTY-THREE.

Once, on an airplane, my mother and I had a stewardess who looked and sounded just like Rhoda.  We thought that was very exciting. What can I say?  It was the 1970's, before you could follow celebrities on Twitter and act as though you knew them personally.  Meeting someone who resembled Rhoda was a BIG DEAL.  A rare occurrence, if you will, like a halfway decent snowstorm in our particular geographical area.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I AM still sulking.  Why do you ask?

[Bonnie Franklin image: Facebook]
[Valerie Harper image: National Enquirer]

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Like Disneyworld, Only Better

For 3 years, we've been deprived of even so much as a 2-inch snowfall in this area; for 3 winters, our kids - sleds at the ready - have waited patiently for one big storm, big enough to cancel schools and work -- cancel everything, really, but the fun.  And, at long last, it looks as if their patience will be rewarded.

8-10 inches are predicted for tomorrow, people - and we are OVER THE MOON about this.  Do you know how dreary it is to go through an entire winter without even one snow day to break up the monotony?  At last, our ridiculously fast-paced suburban lifestyle will be made to stand still, if only for 24 hours or so - and snowmen will be built, cocoa will be drunk, homemade cinnamon rolls will be consumed with abandon. 

Bring it on, Mother Nature - we are SO ready.

[Sled image: Arthur's Clipart]

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Improv Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

Never blog when tired.  You end up going to bed right afterwards, and then the blog world insinuates itself into your dreams.  Last night, I dreamt that I traveled to Los Angeles to participate in some theater/improv workshop run by Suzy Soro.  When I got there, all the other workshop participants were being outfitted in pretty dresses (a la Renaissance style); but Suzy said to me, "You don't need a dress.  You're going to be the pig."

"Pig?  Um, okay.  So, uh, where's my costume?" I asked, enviously eyeing a compatriot being outfitted in a gauzy white flowing number.  I knew better than to argue with Suzy, even in my sleep.

Intimidating, I tell you...
"What you've got on is fine," she said.

I looked down and saw I was wearing ugly jeans and an even uglier bright blue button-down top.  Where did I get those?  I wondered.

"Okay," Suzy said.  "You've got to go outside now."


"Yes, you're the PIG.  You have to run away, and they are all going to chase you."  She shook her head as if to say, Man, do I have to explain EVERYTHING to these cretins? and stalked away.

Things went downhill from there.  Picture one of those medieval scenes of a mob of villagers (but dressed in long, flowy dresses) carrying torches, hunting for the runaway pig (um, that's me), who was doing her best to do a sort of infantry crawl through the woods, all the while wondering where she got that ugly blue shirt she had on.

I have the dumbest dreams, I swear.  But, Suzy, if you're reading this, I don't think I'm going to sign up for an improv workshop, should you decide to start offering them.  Not unless you can guarantee I won't be the pig...

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Ticket To Ride

Is it possible to be too tired to blog?  Because that seems to be the situation here, for no apparent reason.  Just popping in to tell you that my train ride yesterday was like a mini-vacation, only better, because I didn't have to pack for anyone but myself.  I read, I knit.  I finished one pair of socks and started another.  Sometimes I just stared out the window, enjoying the silence.  And I hit the jackpot on the return trip - a pair of seats facing another set of seats, ALL 4 TO MYSELF.  In the quiet car. 

Sometimes, fortune does shine upon me.  And I do appreciate it.

My train didn't look like this, however.

Oh, and yes, there was a funeral.  But I got to see my dad and some cousins I haven't seen in years, and I met other relatives I didn't know I had.  All in all, a good way to spend a day, if you forget about the death part.

Do I sound callous?  It's just the exhaustion speaking, I swear.  Come back tomorrow, when I shall strive to be properly mournful.  Also, you'll get to hear about apples and farmers' markets and suspected murder.  It's like The Orient Express, only without the train or the suspense.