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Monday, July 30, 2012

Thankful for Forty Years

Today is my birthday.

The Big 4-0.


It's Monday.

It rained.

I think I could complain, but I don't want to and I really don't have a reason to. 

I slept in until 8 a.m.  I had Sweet Frog Yogurt for lunch with my best friend and our kiddos.  My hubby took me for snow crab tonight.  I had two Blue Moons (love Blue Moon).  They even had orange slices.

I had a piece of cheesecake.

Many friends took time out of their day to wish me happy birthday on social media whether that was a text, a tweet or a facebook post.  It's nice to feel loved.

I spoke to everyone in my family today. 

I laughed a lot.

My kids painted my nails, fixed my hair and made me breakfast.

They even hung streamers. 

And three cute balloons.

I am blessed.

Here's to at least 40 more years of blessings.
Friday, July 27, 2012

Poolside Perspective: um...your va ja ja is hanging out

This week was again HOT and hot weather brings out the best in all of us. Here's what I learned.

  • It's double check your suit week. This week a lot of people and children had ill fitted suits on. I realize that it's halfway through the season and perhaps your suit has stretched or shrunk. A tip: ask a friend or even your mom if if any of your bits and pieces are hanging out. I really...really...don't want to see them.

  • If your kid can't swim, the dive is not for him. Sure it's very cute seeing your three year old jumping off the high dive. However, it looses it's cuteness when he struggles to surface and has to doggie paddle to you. There's a swim test for a reason. If he can't swim, don't let him jump.

  • Thunder, thunder, thunder. We got kicked out of the pool for thunde this week and the rule is no reentry until it has been 20 minutes thunder free. I swear every 19 minutes it would thunder. That, my friends, just gets funny after a while.

  • Pretending to take pics of your kids is pathetic. I don't know who you think you are fooling, but we are on to you. If you were really taking pics of your kid jumping off the dive, you'd be closer. I think you noticed all those I'll fitted suits and started snapping.

  • The ability to embarrass your kid=priceless. May I recommend tucking your tankini into a bikini and telling them your ready to go. The look alone will make your day.

What did you learn this week?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Things that get under my skin... at board meetings

This week Mama Kat asked me to list ten things that make me angry.  Oh Vey.  Just thinking about them is enough to make me pour another glass of wine.  In  fact, I just can't bring myself to do it so instead I'm listing the ten things that get on my nerves at board meetings.

I probably attend more meetings than most people.  I cover three school districts and one township for a local newspaper.  I write engrossing stories about graduation, speed bumps, new hotel chains, fire stations, school budgets and new principals.

If you have never attended a public meeting of any kind, don't speak.  If you have never been to a township meeting or a school board meeting or even a PTO meeting, speaking the first time you attend is a really bad idea.

Grandstanding.  Why does everything have to be political?  Please don't pretend that you are doing taxpayers some great service when you are really only doing what you are doing for your own agenda.

Know the law.  Don't show up at a school board meeting to complain about Mrs. Smith because she gave your kid detention.  Follow the chain of command...teacher, principal, superintendent.  The school board members have no more authority over that issue than the clerk at the Rutter's.  Okay...maybe just a little more authority than that clerk.

Present your complaint to someone who is not a member of your family and who will tell you honestly whether or not you sound like an asshole.  For example, "Hi, Mary, I value your opinion and I am thinking about going to the school board and telling them that teaching our kids acceptance is ruining the universe.  Do you wanna come?"  If Mary's reaction is to a) run from you screaming; b) to remind you that she has a restraining order against you or c) to give you a xanax and tell you to take a step back into reality than you probably shouldn't go.

Speaking out of turn.  Please don't holler random things from the back of the room.  This is a public meeting not a bar.  You don't get to scream a question from the last row of seats.  Get up.  Use the microphone and state your freakin' name.  If you don't have the balls to do that than sit down and be quiet.

The night of the vote is too late.  Please don't come to a voting meeting to tell the board you think their budget is a load of crap.  They have had 4200 meetings about the budget.  Those meetings have included qualified personnel, like accountants, business managers and other people who like numbers.  While they appreciate the fact that you don't "get how millage is calculated" they kindly request that you find out prior to coming to the meeting.  Perhaps all of the budget and finance meetings.

Try to remember not having *insert sport of your choice here* would not be the end of the world as we know it.  Imagine a school not having a football team, or a swim team, or a debate team, or a water polo team, or a curling team.  Now imagine a school failing in reading, math and science.  These  things are not equivalent.

You will not "die" if you're child has to play on grass and not turf on more year.  In fact, the likelihood of that happening is like getting struck by lightening in the snow in Florida.  Stop being so dramatic.  Everyone finds that annoying.

Complaints from former employees seem a little bias.  You're retired.  You should have lots of fun things to do.  Those things should not include coming to board meetings to complain about hiring processes, firing processes or snow removal.  In fact, I sort of feel a little sorry for you if that's all you have to do.

Stop following me to my car.  If you had something worthwhile to say, I would be following you to your car.  Make a note of that.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Donkey Farm (part two) What I learned

My mom's new property is not exactly close. Currently she is about three hours away and when I childishly complained about her doubling the distance between us with this move she retaliated with a "You don't come see me anyway."

I will admit, that is true. This is the reason why...

Oh don't let him fool you with that cute face and almost smile. He's secretly plotting my death. Just look how intensely he is staring.

I have already written an unanswered letter to him about his manners (or lack thereof) and quite frankly I am tired of him.

In a nutshell, here's what I learned down on the farm.

  • Breaking up the trip. This was a fantastic idea! We drove halfway and stayed with my 85 year old grandmother, who is just a peach. She cooked dinner for everyone, let my inlaws come for food, prepared a breakfast and made us all chuckle with her funny stories. When it came time to leave, grandma, who was coming with us, decided to ride in the back with the kiddos so she could watch the movies. Talk about a hoot.

  • Middle of nowhere. My mom's new place is isolated. It is eight-miles-on-a-dirt road isolated. I think they should keep a chainsaw in the truck just in case they need to cut a fallen tree out of the road. This "roughing it" mentality seems to appeal to some, but it doesn't appeal to me. While I imagine my husband would love a place like my mom's, he would not be living in it with me.

  • Horses and flies. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. Horses kind of freak me out. When depicted on TV they are always so cute and odor free. In real life they tend to be covered in flies and odoriferous. While I harbor no ill will to horses of any kind, I have no desire to own one, ride one or clean up after one.

  • Rain makes corn and corn makes whiskey. After hours of rain with no TV, no Internet and not enough whiskey, the kids (and the adults) were excited to run around the playground, even if it took nearly an hour to get there.

  • Not convinced. I hoped to find my mother excited about this next phase of her life and eager to take on all the challenges and opportunities that lie in store for her. Instead, she seemed depressed and uncertain and honestly, a little miserable. There are few things I know for sure and one is that life is too short to be miserable

I hope that life on the farm, formerly known for it's donkeys, turns out to be what both my stepfather and my mother are looking for.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Donkey Farm (part one) By the Numbers

We have returned from the farm safe sound albeit a little tired.

Here's a look at the place by the numbers.

Number of minutes it took us to get to the house from the nearest McDonalds = 45

Number of miles we were on a dirt road before actually coming to my mom's house = 8

Number of bug zappers on the wall at the same McDonalds = 4

Number of acres my mom and stepfather own = 47

Number of horses my mom's neighbor is boarding on her property = 4

Number of miles to my mom's closest neighbor = 1

Number of times I received a text = 0 (no cell coverage at all)

Number of bears in my mom's bathroom = 1 holding the toilet paper, one on the shower curtain and quite a few on the wall.

Number of times my grandma won at cards = 0

Number of dirty looks my grandma gave my good friend B when B was winning at cards = 29

Number of gifts my mom gave me = 40 (an early birthday present)

Number of times I wanted to kill my mom's dog = 3,298

Number of times the pony got an apple = 6

Number of times the other three horses got apples = 4

Number of time the kids (and my grandma) made me laugh = countless
Monday, July 16, 2012

Down on the Donkey Farm (oh how I wish I were kidding)

Here's a story about a donkey.

Actually it's a story about a donkey farm.

My mom and stepfather decided to buy a donkey farm in West Virginia and tomorrow I am taking a road trip with two of my three kids and my BFF and her two kids. We are picking up my grandmother and all seven of us are heading to the farm.

I have some serious reservations about this next phase of my mother's life. This entire property purchase feels like a bad reality series.

My mom is about the farthest thing from a farmer as you can get. She has manicured nails. She used to fight me a lot about my dislike for lipstick. She enjoys shopping. My stepdad isn't exceptionally handy. It's unclear if he can actually shoot predators. I'm kind of glad that the miniature donkeys have vacated the property with the prior owner.

My mom and her husband currently live in a freaking townhouse outside of Washington DC. I do not think they even own a lawnmower. They don't really have a yard and soon they will be living on multiple acres.

Last year they grew a tomato tree that was six foot tall and never sprouted a single tomato. My mom seldom cooks. How will she live miles from take out? How will she live more than 40 minutes from the grocery store.

I should be proposing this reality series to the networks. It would be a significant improvement over HOARDERS.

Anyway, my mom is supposedly meeting me at a McDonalds 45 minutes away from her house because my GPS cannot actually locate it. She is prone to exaggeration, but claims that my cell will not work.

There is currently no internet and no TV.

My kids are already freaking out.

It's gonna be an adventure for sure which I promise to share with all of you upon my return. For now, I'm unplugging and heading to the donkey farm, which is clearly a sentence I never expected to type.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Poolside Perspective: pardon me, but are you swimming in a bra?

It's time once again for Poolside Perspective. The time of the week where we sit back, contemplate and wonder what the heck is happening.

It's week five and we are still experiencing record highs and that is bringing everyone (and I mean everyone) to the pool.

Here's what I learned.

It's hard to keep track of your kids when you have nine under 10. Seriously, unless you're on a reality show that pays for the children's every whim, how do you afford it? The lady with the infield usually sits on the other side of the pool from us near the baby slide. This week, we noticed two of her kids on our side long before she did.

Um..your bra is distracting me. I'm pretty sure the lady on the blanket next to us was swimming in a swim skirt and a pink bra. I don't know who she thought she was kidding.

Make a new friend day. I told my kids it was make a new friend day and I ended up making one too. An elderly lady inched her way into our gaggle and just started chatting away. Before we knew it she was sharing life stories and trying out our floats. Guess make a new friend day worked out for everyone.

The goggle tomahawk. It's the new rage. My friend's daughter has goggles with these uniques straps that just kind of stick out in the back. They almost look like a feather. I kind of want a pair.

Monokini's continue to vex me. This week a nude colored monokini. Seriously? Enough said.

A huge shout out to W and B for helping me recall all of this week's lessons. You guys make hanging at the pool a huge stress relief.

What did you learn this week?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Suggestions for the DMV on ways to improve customer service

I went to get my driver's license renewed yesterday. Needed a new photo. Decided to go to a photo only location of the DMV thinking that it just might be faster.

Nope not really. Pulled a number 61. Now serving 50. Could be worse.

While waiting I came up with some minor suggestions on how the DMV could improve customer service.

Where's the TV? The CVS pharmacy has a TV. Why not the DMV?

Might it be possible to hire someone who is not an octogenarian? Someone who actually knows how to work a computer?

Let's be serious. I'm not one of those women who cares much about her photo. But when it's digital and the first take looks something like this is it necessary to ask me if that's ok?

Oh...wait here's an idea... a magazine rack. Something that doesn't just have the Pennsylvania motor vehicle code on it.

Off the top of my head you know what else might come in handy, chairs. More than six when you apparently normally have a 10 person wait.

Employees who do not sound out each letter of each word... But this probably goes back to the under the age of 80 thing.

Other than the above, the 40 minute wait was relaxing.

My chair mate (literally, she was practically siting on me) and I conversed about driving restrictions and how she probably shouldn't be allowed to drive at night (or at all)

I learned that she walks 3 miles everyday as long as it isn't below 17 degrees outside, which made me feel a bit inadequate since I pretty much just walk from my car to my pool chair.

I also learned that I will never have hair that doesn't look like Nick Nolte's no matter how many times they take the frickin' picture.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stop being so accepting...and I mean it

Turns out our schools are poisoning our children.

No. It's not the food. It's the teachings of accepting the differences in others that is doing it. I mean, seriously, what were we thinking?

Last night, while at a school board meeting, I listened as a speaker lambasted the school district for teaching...of all things...tolerance.

I tried wholeheartedly not to roll my eyes while she mocked their diversity mission statement, while she said things like "When we stopped forcing people to believe like our founding fathers we took morality out of our schools."

Let's be serious. No one knows for sure what the founding fathers believed. We do know that the likelihood they were all devote Christians is not high. More probably, they were a mixture of deists, Christians, and possibly even atheist.

They fled from organized religion and as a group decided not to establish religious requirements under the constitution. It is true that they recognized a “Creator” or “Nature’s God” but they did so without ascribing to one particular religion.

They also believed that women had no rights and were appalled by the suggestion that they might one day own property.

They also believed that whites were superior to blacks. Of the first five presidents four of them were slave owners. It is reported that George Washington owned more than 200 slaves.

I, personally, don't want my kids to believe like that.

Acceptance and tolerance should be taught not only at school but also at home.

Respecting the beliefs of others, while still holding firmly to your own beliefs, would make the world a better place.

I have friends who do not believe in God.

I have friends who are gay.

I have friends who are black.

I have friends who have far different religious beliefs than my own.

They have never mocked me for my beliefs, my skin color, or my gender and I would never mock them for their beliefs, skin color or gender.

It is a sad state of affairs when a religious nut protesting under the guise of Christianity can proclaim publicly that our schools, by teaching our children tolerance and acceptance, are poisoning our children.

That's simply absurd.
Monday, July 9, 2012

Sunscreen vs a blanket

I've been using 30 SPF since SPF became a word.

It works most of the time.

Sometimes you gotta remember to put it on more than once.

When my kids were little (like under 3) I'd put 50 SPF on them.

But seriously, what is up with the 110 SPF?

Who uses this and why? If you need 110 SPF than I think you should stay indoors. I think you should be covered with a blanket at all times.

I imagine 110 SPF like an invisible shield that allows you to remain as pale as you were during the winter months. I mean once you get above 50 SPF does it even work?

Your thoughts?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Poolside Perspective: It's a juggle out there, don't forget the Aquanet (Week 4)

It was hot this week.  Very hot.

That means everyone wanted to swim.  And I mean everyone.  Here's what I learned during week four of Poolside Perspective.

Holy Hair Batman.  We took a step back in time this week and paid homage to that ever so stylish 1980s big hair.  Big hair + Aqua Net = no amount of splashing is getting that thing wet.  The shields are up.

You juggle, I juggle, why not at the pool?  Words are just escaping me.  Was it too hot to practice for the big juggling show at home?  Was it safer to start with balls in the water and then move on to knives?  I just don't have an explanation.  You?

I'm done with the whistle.  You're in time out.  After blowing her whistle numerous times at some kids sliding headfirst and all at once, our cute little lifeguard had enough.  She calmly walked across the pool, pointed to each of the offenders and put them in timeout directly behind her lifeguard chair.  She is my hero.

Mr. Dick is a funny name.  I encourage my children to show respect by referring to adults by Mr.or Miss and then their first name, but honestly it is hard for me to keep a straight face when that name is Dick.  "Mr. Dick is throwing us the ball."  "Is it okay if he plays with Mr. Dick?"  "I told Mr. Dick I could flip off the dive."  "At least she's not climbing all over poor Mr. Dick."  See what I mean.

Again with the monokinis.  Last year I blasted these suits for being simply tasteless.  We saw them on every body size from tiny toddlers to obese adults.  This week I saw one on a pregnant lady.  It was as if that tiny piece of fabric along the front was the only thing keeping her from a public water birth.  It, my friends, was not pretty.  If you're considering the look, I implore you to reconsider.

What did you learn this week?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Writer's Workshop: It's only a mere bunny rabbit

This is a story about a bunny. This is a story about what happens if you don't give your bunny things to chew on. This is a story about a drive by pet dumping.

When my kids were very small, about 4, 2 and new, a car drove by our house and apparently threw out their pet rabbit.

Seriously? Who does that?

The girls were immediately smitten with the little black and white cutie. "Can we feed the wabbit?" they pleaded.

This clip from Monty Python and the search for the Holy Grail was playing in my mind.

Of course, that's not really going to happen. Is it?

We venture out and attempt to give our house guest a carrot. However, no matter how hard he tries, he cannot eat it.


Because his teeth are so freaking large he can't actually open his mouth wide enough to get a bite. I sort of felt bad for him, but I really didn't want my kids playing with him. I mean there must be something wrong with him.

After watching him struggle to eat the clover in my yard with the side of his mouth, I called our vet. She told me that it is a very common problem when domesticated rabbits aren't given the proper chews.

She said, "quick fix. Bring him in and I'll take care of it."
Me, "What will happen to him if they're not fixed?"
Vet, "He'll either starve to death or his teeth will just keep growing and will eventually puncture his skull."

That is just some kind of torture, right there.

We headed to the vet.

For their records I had to name the bunny, so the girls picked Lucky. "He is wucky we found him," said my two year old.

Wucky, indeed.

As further proof of his luck, I sold him to a little old lady along with a small dog kennel at our previously scheduled for the following weekend yard sale. Everyone kept pointing to him just grazing like a starving child in my yard. "Your bunny is loose," they'd say.

"Oh vats just Wucky," Middle G would say. "He's not our wabbit. We just chopped off his teef."
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Publication: that thing just outside my grasp

I was cleaning off a book shelve the other day as part of my never ending quest to throw shit out on Tuesday and I came across these little gems of goodness.

Thinking they might be my kids, I opened them up and may have actually gasped. They are filled with writings of mine from the 1990s. Writings and dreams of publication.

What I can keep track of now on querytracker I used to keep track of in this book. We have talked many times about my dreams of publication and I haven't been shy about sharing with you how badly rejection hurts. But seeing it in my own hand writing, is painful. Realizing I have had a dream, a goal if you will, for more than half my life that I have yet to accomplish sort of feels like a swift kick in the gut.

Seeing books excel with little plot and no storyline except for graphic sex is deflating.

Inside the covers of these books are copies of the above cartoons. Even then I was convinced that Dogbert's take on the publishing industry was accurate.

Inside they contain sample query letters as well as actually pieces I had forgotten I'd written. I jotted down the 30 steps necessary for becoming a published writer and believe wholeheartedly that I need only to cross off the last one. Find an agent/publisher that believes in you.

Eight words. Fifteen years.

I guess we all realize our dreams at different paces and if I'm being honest, there are some of us out there that simply won't. Some dreams become unattainable. I'm never going to be an eye doctor and I'm okay with that. Other dreams get under our skin and simply force us never to give up.

Dr. Seuss was rejected to many times to count. Stephen King received countless rejections for his first novel. Anne Frank was told her heroine lack interest and JK Rowling was dismissed by numerous publishers including powerhouses like Penguin and HarperCollins and had her book published by a tiny London based publishing company at the insistence of the CEOs 8 year old daughter.

I remain steadfast and confident (most days) that I will persevere.
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I'm a 41 year old (gasp) freelance writer, school cafeteria manager, wife and mother. I have three children and one anxious and overweight beagle. I use my blog to make others laugh, to share some cool crafts, to document my lunchlady adventures and to lament about the challenges faced by us all on the journey called life. Thanks for visiting. Please leave some meant some comments.
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