Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Institute of Mothers

The other day I needed ten minutes of that elusive thing called "peace and quiet."
I told both children they could have ten more minutes of electronics which in our house means playing Wii or some other mind numbing handheld electronic device.

My son looked at me and proclaimed, "The Institute of Mothers would not approve of this, Mom, but I am very happy!"

The Institute of Mothers?

Crap, where did I put that membership card? Certainly, I am not worthy enough to be part of any sort of elite motherhood society.

I honestly don't know where he comes up with this stuff, but my son clearly believes there is a panel of mothers who are out to squelch all fun for all children. A group of mothers who force their children to eat green vegetables at every meal while denying their children any dessert or fun.

The IOM (Institute of Mothers) would not approve of a number of my parenting indiscretions. In fact, there are a host of things my kids could rat me out for so instead I'm going to out myself.

Here are just a few of my unapproved IOM practices:

- My son occasionally has the longest fingernails in the history of little boys. My daughter would, too, but she is a nail biter.

- My children's closet is the "go to" spot when I ask them to clean up their messy bedrooms, and I am OK with this! I hate messy floors, but closets have doors that I can shut. Out of sight, out of mind.

- My children get dessert nearly every day of their life. You try to deny them dessert and see how it goes.

- My son thinks "making your bed" means making sure all pillows and blankets are on the bed but not necessarily in any sort of organized, tidy way. His bed is made, if there are no pillows or blankets on the floor.

- My children do not bathe every day. On days they do bathe, they don't always use soap. I don't always make them re-shower. If they don't smell, I'm cool with it.

- I have served dinners that do not contain a vegetable or fruit product.

- I use mind-numbing electronic toys to bribe my son into doing an array of necessary tasks. If he can remember to put on clothes, for example, he may get electronics time later in the day. In our house, we discourage nudity.

- I use the brain cell sucking electronic toys to allow me time to do necessary things that I cannot always do if my children are around. You know, things like breathing and peeing. That's correct. I use electronic toys as a babysitter. This is something I vowed to never do. Of course, that was pre-kids. I didn't know any better.

- I sent invitations to my kids' birthday parties this year via text message. No cutesy invitations are ever generated in my home!

The Institute of Mothers will no doubt be contacting me.
I'm sure my membership will be revoked!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 Olympic's Opening Ceremony

Good luck, London!

All eyes will be on you. I also think most brains behind those eyes will be thinking, "It's a tough act to follow."

Who doesn't remember the Opening Ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics?
The performance cost an estimated $100 million dollars to produce and lasted four hours. An astounding 15,000 "volunteers" performed in the Beijing Opening Ceremony. The ceremony was amazingly stunning. I'm amazed by it still, and it was 4 years ago. This from someone who can't remember what she did yesterday and sometimes gets in her car and forgets where she is going. The performance was unforgettable eye candy.

How in the world do you follow that act?
Poor London.

I'm reminded of children's mind numbing talent shows. Twenty minutes into the talent show a beautifully dressed 5 year old child approaches a piano and plays the most amazing Mozart piece. All performers prior to the pianist are immediately forgotten as the prodigy plays flawlessly. Immediately afterward, my own child a child in a stained t-shirt walks on stage with a tin can and a wooden spoon. The audience smiles politely as the child bangs on the can. Suddenly that average tin can performance sounds like nails on chalkboard having had the grave misfortune of following China the brilliant pianist.

I'm not saying London is going to offer us a tin can and wooden spoon performance (You aren't, are you, London?). I just think London has a really tough act to follow. But who doesn't love an underdog?

Of course, the Opening Ceremony isn't just a glorified talent show with fireworks and drama. No, it's much more than that.

It's about reminding Americans how absolutely stupid we are about geography.
Since the countries are introduced in alphabetical order, the U.S.A fans must stay glued to televisions until nearly the end. In the process, we learn there are countries we've never heard of before. Countries like Swaziland, Timor Leste, and Mauritania (Is it just me, or does Mauritania sound like an umbrella drink with a dash of Mary Jane?). Not only are there countries we couldn't find if given a world map, there are also people who actually live in those countries including Olympians. How about that?!

Yes, Americans can learn a lot during the Opening Ceremony as we wait anxiously to see our Team U.S.A approach in their outsourced uniforms made in China. (What were you thinking, Ralph Lauren?)

Geez, China gets a gold medal in Opening Ceremonies and uniform making, AND the Olympics haven't even started!

Good luck, London. We are rooting for your success!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dear Gynecologist

Dear Gynecologist,

Don't you think this annual exam would go better for both of us if you bought me a drink first?

I remember being around 12 or 13 years old when I read an article in "Sixteen" magazine about annual gynecological exams. The memory of that article is burned into my brain. The article stated that women need to go to a gynecologist when they turn 18 OR when they become sexually active. That's when I vowed to remain a virgin for all of my natural life.

The article described in great detail what a gynecological exam entails. I COULD NOT BELIEVE what I was reading. Why in the world would any doctor venture into that cavernous space and root around?! Why were women not rioting in the streets over such a violation?! Why didn't anyone ever tell me about this?! I was simply disgusted and shocked!

Of course the 12 year old female brain is different from the 39-ish year old female brain. At least now I understand the medical benefits of a pap smear, and I know the doctor isn't just digging for lost treasures. By the way, where did I put my keys?

Despite my understanding of the need to endure such a humbling experience, I still remain curious as to proper etiquette. For example, if I were expecting house guests I would want to perhaps mow the front yard and certainly vacuum the living room. I understand the innate desire to to trim the bush before introducing your vajayjay to a gynecologist, but why do I also feel the need to shave my legs and paint my toenails?

Now, if I have the courtesy to tidy my yard, couldn't the doctor do me the courtesy of not making small talk while shoving cold metal objects into my fruit cellar? (Yes, I have a nearly endless supply of euphemisms for the word vagina.)

It's very difficult for me to talk about my summer vacation plans while there is seemingly a fist and a curling iron-like device knocking on my cervix. Hello? Please let me retreat to my happy zone where I image this entire experience is part of a bizarre dream sequence.

Men, I know you have the prostate exam to complain about, but two fingers and a cough is a fun night on the town compared to stirrups, metal objects, a blanket made by Brawny the quicker picker upper, and a side table filled with strange, cold metal objects. Top it off with a chatty gynecologist and you have an appointment from hell.

So, Dr. Gynecologist, I'll shave my legs, tidy up my living room, and prepare for our "visit", but could you pretend to be a deaf, mute physician who is not the least bit interested in my travel plans?

Thank you,
A 13 year old at heart

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

They Are My Real Kids

My children have never been in my birth canal. That is unchartered territory.

Seven years ago my husband and I adopted our children. Our adoption story could fill volumes. It would make you laugh, cry, and cringe. In the end, you would realize adopting my children was one of the longest labors on earth. Yes, labor. I pushed, I screamed, I cried, and, at times, I thought I might not survive. I just never actually carried my children in my body.

Our adoption story is laborious, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Adoption is a truly amazing experience. However, I'm always amazed by people's reactions. Most people respond positively, but some are confused by it. I think one of the more amazing responses from seemingly kind, intelligent, and rational people is:

"So they aren't your real kids?"

Please rest assured that these two energetic, inquisitive creatures are my very own real children.

If they weren't, I wouldn't nag them so much. I would be less critical of their posture, eating habits, and hygiene. I would not be saddled with chauffeuring them to and from after school activities.

My house as well as my brain would be less cluttered. I would have less laundry to do and more money in my pocket. My toilets would be clean, and the front of my refrigerator would not be covered with photos, drawings, and school calendars. I would have floors that aren't dotted with Legos, an occasional bead, and a dash of glitter.

I would be well rested and therefore more enjoyable company after 8 PM. I would be well read and well informed about matters of political importance.

I would be more likely to find things of importance like car keys, house keys, and my sanity.

I would be able to make eye contact with you at the city pool when you're talking with me instead of watching the deep end of the pool like a hawk. I would show up places with ironed and stain-free shirts. I would be able to talk about things unrelated to child care, school menus, and the price of kid shoes.

The inside of my car would look more like the inside of a car and less like the inside of the world's largest waste receptacle.

I would go to the theatre to watch rated R movies or any movie not animated and in 3D. I would not stock my pantry shelves with a nearly endless supply of canned ravioli and juice boxes.

I would actually cross things off my "to do" list instead of just adding to it.

I would have something referred to as "time."

In short, if these weren't my "real" kids, I would be utterly marooned.

On July 21st we celebrate our Family Day. That's the day they became my children and I became their very real mother.

It's my favorite day of the year!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Achieving World Peace

Every once in a great while I have an epiphany. Something that was once confusing and complicated is revealed to me clearly and simply.

Not to brag, but the other day I had an epiphany. A pretty significant one.

Yeah, I realized how to achieve world peace.

I'm sure this is valuable information, and I'm probably stupid and naive for sharing it so broadly. I should probably call Homeland Security, the CIA, or whoever is responsible for finding the way to create world peace. I mean, really, I probably will get the Nobel Peace prize for this one. It is that significant. Consider yourself lucky to hear it from me first.

Ok. Here goes...

The key to world peace is to equip everyone with a high quality air conditioner.

There is conflict in the Middle East because they are HOT.
Hot, hot, hot.

Heat makes people rabid in their irritability. I know this first hand because my loving family of four recently spent 9 days without electricity. We were loving to one another one minute, and in the next minute, it was scary ugly. We were unarmed so no one actually died. I can only imagine the destruction that armed hot people can create.

While we are equipping everyone with air conditioners, I think we should also give every family and organized terrorist organization a dishwasher. When you are hot it is one thing, but when you are hot and surrounded by dirty dishes, it's enough to make you want to go fight with the first person you see. In my case that's my husband, but it could just as easily be Afghanistan.

Do you see the brilliance behind my plan?
Cool the world off. Coolness = peace.

In fact, I'm fairly certain PEACE is an acronym for:

P. Provide
E. Everyone with
A. Air
C. Conditioning;
E. Eliminate war

Wonder where I should keep my Nobel Peace Prize?

Perhaps next to my Pulitzer.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Surviving Heat Wave without Electricity

After surviving 9 days without electricity, I consider myself an expert on a few matters. I feel obligated to share them. Should you find yourself in hell without electricity for an extended period of time, you might just be grateful for these pearls of wisdom.

Your power will only go off for an extended period of time if it's going to be over 100 degrees or below 15 degrees. This is just a simple fact. My experience with hell power outage was during a heat wave so I'll focus on that. Given my luck, I'll blog about power outage during a deep freeze in mid January.

Although the electricity is the first to go, it will be followed shortly thereafter by your sense of humor. Do not waste your time trying to regain your sense of humor. It will return exactly 24 hours after the electricity. Your patience may never return as it has literally melted into oblivion.

You will have frequent thoughts about digging shallow graves in your backyard. Resist the urge to do so. It's just sweaty work for you, and your house is messy enough without you bringing in dirt and mud.

Once upon a time you loved your partner and your children. It's ok to look up the phone numbers of divorce attorneys, but refrain from calling. Trust me, "Power Outage" and "Heat" cannot be listed as reasons for divorce.

Give up all attempts to keep your house clean. The rest of your family will only sabotage your efforts and make you want to dig in the back yard. Instead, find the coolest place in your house and sit. Don't move for risk of sweating.

Do not, under any circumstances, sit on any leather or faux leather furniture during the inevitable heat wave. You will stick to it and the puddle of sweat may cause stains.

Speaking of puddles, when you wake up in a pool of your own sweat, do not panic. You are not dying. You are just really hot. Rehydrate by drinking lots of alcohol fluids.

When there appears to be more bugs inside your house than outside of it, try not to be alarmed. Tell yourself this is just like camping. When your Self reminds you how much you hate camping, take a moment to randomly scream "Camping sucks!" at the first person who wanders by you.

Buy a generator. Being able to open the refrigerator and feel the cold air is worth the cost. Don't keep the generator in your garage or near an open window. The fumes are toxic. Then again...

When the power eventually comes back on, walk around your house turning on every light and electronic device you have. Bask in the glow of electricity and gain greater appreciation for the concept of "survival of the fittest."

Know, with absolute certainty, that had you been born prior to the invention of electricity and indoor plumbing, you wouldn't have survived past adolescence.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sociology Experiment Gone Bad

The lack of electricity coupled with the heat makes me think we may be part of some secret sociology experiment. What happens when you take a typical middle class family and deprive them of electricity?

Here's what happens:

Days 1 & 2:
Family plays games together. They show each other love and respect. They give thanks for the things they do have... like family.

Day 3:

Family cleans out refrigerator and freezer. Large amounts of food are thrown away. Children remain cheerful as their mother forces them to eat 48 mini cream puffs that are thawing in the freezer. Cracks begin to show in the parents' cheerful attitudes. To compensate, they attempt to drink a bucket of frozen margarita that is thawing in the freezer. Everyone goes to bed sweaty, but drunk full.

Day 4:

Husband arrives at hardware store before 7 AM because store is getting a new shipment of generators. He spends all eternity waiting for the shipment to be unloaded from the truck and then spends the kids' college savings on a generator that will run the refrigerator, one lamp, and a fan.

Wife washes dishes by hand after heating water on the gas stove top. Because she is mentally a blond, she forgets boiling water is hot and nearly burns all ten fingers in an attempt to clean a pile of dirty dishes.

Tween unearths every battery operated toy she has ever been given. The battery operated microphone is the worst gift to ever give a child. She is so enchanted by new found toy that she loudly sings an unapproved version of our national anthem. It goes a little like this: "Oh say can you the Don sir's delight..."

Son is scared of the dark so after dusk, he acts like a tick and attaches himself to the family member closest to him. He uses every glow stick and flashlight as a sword.

Husband attempts to hook-up the generator while excited children run around him singing and poking each other with glow sticks. He yells obscenities at the generator which the children will no doubt repeat in Sunday school.

In an effort to allow hubby to focus on hooking-up the generator, his supportive wife threatens the children with, "If you ever want to drink cold milk again, you'll leave your father alone!"

After threatening the children, she realizes she cannot find her glass of red wine. It's dark and she is thirsty damn it. Upon finally locating the glass, she drops it and listens (because it is too dark to actually see any of this happening) as it shatters into 65,000 tiny pieces. This is when she realizes how good a cold beer would taste.

Children race through the house in an effort to annoy each other. Their mother tells them to stop running because they might hurt themselves. At that moment the once sane woman steps on a shard of glass. Her son continues running, but her devoted tween assists in locating additional flashlights, tweezers, band aids, and, of course, the microphone.

Finally, the glass is swept up, a shard of glass is removed from the frenzied woman's heel, and more wine is poured. Husband enters and requests help moving the refrigerator so it can be hooked-up to the generator. Although it is pitch black, the couple cannot help but notice the yeti who has been living behind the refrigerator. Its large enough that they both think he may have assisted in pushing the refrigerator out. The couple is so grateful, they release him into the wild.

At last, the children fall asleep in the cool basement, the generator hums in the driveway, and the yeti runs free. Family survives another day without creature

Day 5

The family huddles around the one oscillating fan as they plan their day. It may involve breaking and entering, but no one voices any moral objections. After all, prisons are typically air conditioned so that would be a step in the right direction. Friends are out of town and their house sits empty. The house has electricity. The house is air conditioned. The increasingly irritable family of four have a key to said house.

Operation Goldilocks is planned. The family will ask their sweaty, dirty clothes to walk themselves into the hamper. Family will take between 2 and 20 loads of laundry to friends' home. They will clean their clothes, shower, watch a movie and try to repair their damaged relationships in the coolness of the abandoned house.

This works wonders! For several glorious hours the family feels love and affection towards one another again. This feeling of love lasts right up until the blast of hot air hits them upon returning home. Easy come; easy go.

Day 6

Happy Fourth of July!
Family nearly forgets it's a holiday. Independence Day only reminds them of their total dependence on things like....ELECTRICITY!

They celebrate our Nation's birthday by sweating, taking cold showers, and sweating some more. No way is the family going to light any fireworks. Between the heat and their streak of bad luck, both parents are convinced fireworks could potentially burn down the entire neighborhood.

In an effort to lift everyone's spirits, they drive around in their air conditioned van. Suddenly living out of the van doesn't sound so bad. They talk about whether or not an air mattress could fit in the back with a mini fridge.

On the way back to their hot house, they convince their sweaty children that the lightening in the distance is actually fireworks. They would worry about going to hell for that, but alas, they are already there.

When will this little experiment end?
It is going to end, right?

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Essentials

Dear Family and Friends,

Last week Mother Nature went ape shit threw a temper tantrum of epic proportion.

She threw trees, branches, patio furniture, and then cried like she has never cried before. Making matters worse, like any toddler would, she decided to throw this fit just as our babysitter arrived. Hubby and I had been planning date night.

As my family stood in our dining room with our babysitter, we watched Mother Nature knock down a 30 foot tall tree and fling it towards our house. At that moment our power went off, and I ordered all of us to the basement.

An hour later, Mother Nature was in time out and the babysitter was sent home. The rest of us sat in the dark looking at one another. We became remarkably loving towards one another and patient. Near death experiences can do that to a family.

The next day we did what everyone else in our county decided to do. We went to the grocery store to buy "essentials." Power was out and we were being told it could be 5-7 days before it would be restored. This news is code for "go shopping."

Here's the great thing about "essentials": it's all in the eye of the beholder.
Since there were a mere 7200 people crammed into our local grocery store, I had plenty of time to look in other people's carts to see what they felt they needed in the coming days.

My favorite cart was pushed by a young man who clearly lived simply. His cart had 2 wine boxes and chips. Another woman had a cart loaded with grilling supplies, dog food and corn. I saw several carts full of practical things like water, bread, and peanut butter.

I was fascinated by all the varieties of cart content until I took a moment to look into my own cart. It was unquestionably the most bizarre. I had (and I really don't know why I'm compelled to share this) 2 cases of bottled water, 1 box of brown rice, 2 cans of black beans, 24 rolls of toilet paper, 2 rolls of paper towels, and toilet bowl cleaner.

Apparently, I was worried about dehydration and exploding bowels.

We all have our hang-ups, I suppose.

I hope the rest of you are fairing well.

Waiting for the Electricity Fairy to visit us as we enjoy our beans and rice comforted by the knowledge that we will have clean butts and toilets,

Days 1 & 2 of no electricity