"It is not advisable James to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
"The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now." - John F. Kennedy
So today, I'm out in public which we all know is a dangerous thing, and things are going pretty well. I'm shuttling my newly-freed-from-school kids around and we have NO schedule. It's pretty cool. I really enjoy summer with my kids. They're now at the age where they don't need to be supervised. Well, supervised as much, but most supervision is to prevent damage to furniture and structures not to prevent their demises. As we're cruising the boulevard we run in to all sorts of summer people and it's kind of fun. Usually I can go a long, long time before I run into other people and with my kids to supervise I think we're probably safe. Ha. Ha. Ha. Leaving one establishment I run into a woman I know a little. Me knowing someone a little is dangerous. I don't have a good filter and usually don't get embarrassed so you can see how this could be a problem. I exchange pleasantries with the woman and she says to me, "I've been thinking about you a lot lately." Immediately the blood drains from my face. Of course I'm scared. Who in their right mind would think about me, and how could it ever possibly be good? In my panic, I say nothing. "You're weird, and quirky, and funny." Yes, those were her exact words. Since they were a statement rather than a question I still remained pale and silent. "But you're also deep and wise. You don't see both those things in one person very often." I sort of chuckle and smile and think she just complemented me, although I'm not quite sure, so I'm going to have to go with it in order to maintain my fragile self-esteem. I walk out to the car shaking my head, weird and deep. This is why I have you five loyal readers. Where else can you go for weird deepness?
We have three teenagers living under our roof right now. Four, if you are not calculating by actual age, but three who by standard definitions are classified as teenagers. If the messy rooms, sleeping during the day and giant consumption of pudding didn't clue you in to that fact, the target on the front of our house would soon tip our hand: we were recently toilet papered.
Kudos to the attackers, this was not a meager job. Someone's parents shop at Costco. Early Saturday morning when I beheld the handiwork I actually gaped, yes gaped at the volume of triple ply that decorated our yard.
Now I am not against toilet papering per se, I understand it's a rite of passage to both perpetrate and be victimized by the practice but I do have an opinion that I do think the general population should share. (I know you know I think ALL of my opinions should be shared by the general population, but this one is really good and surprisingly sane.)
Toilet paper should only be administered as high as the perpetrator can reach. NO throwing the roll up over a homeowner's 95 foot high trees despite how strong your throwing arm is.
Our front yard is full of extra large citrus trees. Citrus that used to be a commercial grove so they are really big. And this particular morning they were covered stem to stern with toilet paper.
Lucky for me I have kids.
Again, lucky for me I have kids - so I rouse the little beauties from their teenage slumber-comas and send them to the yard to collect. My kids are fairly good workers, BUT this was embarrassing, front yard work. People would SEE them. Their friends would SEE them. How humiliating it would be for their friends to see them with armfuls of toilet paper. We collected over three large trash bags of toilet paper.
I regret I didn't take photos.
Here's the net of why you should be glad you don't live by us:
A) Unnamed child #1 remarked multiple times to me and the other kids that they were impressed with the quality of toilet paper used in the attack. Not the volume, mind you, but the actual quality, even rubbing some against their cheek at one point.
B) We couldn't (read: didn't) clean it all up. Some of it was WAY too high and would have required a commercial ladder to pick it down. So of course, we left it.
It wasn't much, but against the citrusy green, the strips of white did stand out. For a couple of weeks.
Some neighbors already dislike us because we were the first ones to not seed for a winter lawn a few years ago. Now, only one guy on our street still does it. We are like a cancer of sub-standard landscaping spreading throughout the land. Liberating, but not pretty. Now those same neighbors plus more dislike us for further adding to the blight and leaving copious amounts of toilet paper waving in the Arizona wind.
Of course, I think no one sees it, or like the dust in my living room, I think no one notices. But everyone does.
How everyone? Well, yesterday hubby tells me that one of our friends, mother of young children who drives by often, was lamenting that their house was out of toilet paper when her toddler says, "Mommy, we can go get it from that house that grows it on their trees."
I know there is a good reason people have them, but at this exact moment I'm blanking.
We are invited to an annual New Year's Day party with some long time friends. It's a wonderful afternoon of food, friendship and hardcore games particularly Apples to Apples. You know how intense Apples to Apples can get. And yes, Andrew, I still think Snow White is friendlier than babies. I was robbed and the grudge will be nurtured all year until I can reclaim my rightful green card from your biased spiteful hands that have not yet had a baby to see how unfriendly they are. Particularly in the plural - babies are much less friendly than baby and the card said babieS. Snow White breaks in, cleans your house, makes dinner and sings songs. No baby I have ever heard of does that. If they did, I would have had more.
See how competitive Apples to Apples is?
Babies, why did I have them again? Everyone who has a baby knows they are not friendly. They might have some cute factor but mostly they poop and pee and puke. Then, supposedly they grow out of that and just want the car keys, food and money. So, underscoring my point, babies are not friendly and the teenagers they grow into are also not friendly. Snow White... she is friendly.
The Ring in the New Year with Apples to Apples party, also included Tee pee Mexican food and an unlimited supply of Dilly bars and soda. Let me introduce you to my children: in most settings they behave with respectable decorum and restraint. Most. But throw in some Dilly Bars and a soda and all bets are off.
At the end of the festivities, Unnamed child #3 was lying in the corner under a pile of wooden Popsicle sticks and aluminum cans. If I hadn't seen it before I would not have recognized her, but we were able to upright her burpness and shepherd her into the minivan under strict instructions that nothing was to projectile out of any orifice of her body. Nothing.
We made it home, Hubby talking about his new plans to hike Macchu Piccu, Unnamed #1 trying a new angle to get an iPhone, Unnamed #2 ensconced in a Kindle completely ignoring us and #3's green face pressed up against the minivan window panting and moaning.
We all know I am nothing if I am not efficient. My little family has all sorts of needy demands and over the holiday break repeated requests were made for me to make them chiropractic appointments. If you saw how they wrestled with each other and the puppy you would agree they all need straightening out, but getting to a chiropractor over the holidays can be tricky. Being the efficient genius mom I am, I made Monday morning appointments for our entire clan. Everyone all at once. Only one trip.
Sporty Spice, aka Hubby, gets up rain or shine to train for his next marathon, Grand Canyon in a day climb, or whatever. This morning, being a spanking new year he enlists #3 to jog with him. Off they go with his Garmin strapped on, shoes tied and hope for the future brimming. We can all agree not to like them very much.
Back they return only to be quickly arranged in our little Prius and whisked off to the chiropractic appointments. Efficiently whisked.
Not three minutes down the road, but far from our home, #3 starts reliving their culinary abandon of the previous day combined with a Garmin-measured run. In order to fully appreciate what you know is going to happen you have to know how we were arranged in the Prius for our whisking.
Unnamed #1 was driving, without a license. Sporty Spice was shotgun. Unnamed #2 backseat right, Unnamed #3 backseat left, Me perched on the humpy thing in the middle of the back seat that has a seatbelt but cannot possibly meet the legal requirements of being a seat. Especially when a woman of average size can use the ceiling to steady herself with the crown of her head on the ceiling and gripping the metal bars of the headrests on the front seats, legs straddling the hump in the floor eerily reminiscent of a gyno visit, as her teenager swerves wildly down the road to the chiropractor. All of you with Prius' - Californians and Seattle residents, look in the back of your Prius and feel my pain.
So Unnamed #3 starts moaning, and gyrating. I ask the requisite questions: "Are you going to barf? Do you need us to pull over?" Framed with the compassionate, "You better not Dilly Barf all over me!"
Unnamed #3 can't commit to the evasive action we should take and says to keep going only to have the next action be a dry heave. I tell Unnamed #1 to get off at the next exit as Unnamed #3 starts to erupt. To their credit, it wasn't Vesuvius, it was more Kilauea. Not a projectile eruption but more a lava flow. Of barf. In a small car filled to the legal capacity.
I'm calling to the front for SOMETHING to contain the barf. My minivan has bags and napkins and all sorts of provisions for children's various eruptions. The commuter car has an empty CD case, some golf tees and a bunch of loose change. And yes, I thought of stuffing the loose change in their mouth to see if I could plug the hole.
So in the barf induced panic, Sporty Spice removes his baseball cap and hands it back to #3. Immediately it is catching the lava flow of barf which seems to be less restrained now that we have a containment item. The unfortunate thing is the containment item ball cap was full of ventilation holes so essentially she was using the cap to strain her barf onto her lap.
The sad thing is, Unnamed #3 didn't even need the lecture. After the eruption ended she popped right in to "I know, I know, I shouldn't eat that much junk and soda."
They almost raise themselves!
I wish I was in a car with Snow White...
Recently I had a bit of unsupervised time to myself. Yeah, not good.
Puttering around convalescing from a brief illness and the obligatory quarantine I was going a bit stir crazy. I don't like to be trapped, and trapped in a house with only laundry to keep me company makes a girl a little antsy. Yes, there was plenty to do, but I wasn't physically up to it, so all I could do was stare at my disordered desk, dusty picture frames and furry carpet with disdain.
Illness messes with my mind. I suppose it does everyones, but I have a really hard time accepting the fact that I can't go on with my normal life while the nature of things takes its course. Fine you say, no one likes to be sick. Yes, I know, but I don't just dislike it, I drag out the drama and start talking to inanimate objects like Tom Hanks in Castaway. It's really not healthy, even for a sick person.
So there I am, wasting away brain cell by sane brain cell when I decide I can't take it anymore. I lurch out of my bed and ensconce myself in my hot pink robe and head to the bathroom where I behold myself in all my Barbie glory. After a moment I have to lean in to make sure it's as bad as my reflection is telling me. My whole face is ashen, swollen and my eyes are bloodshot. At first I look behind me to make sure Lindsay Lohan has not stumbled into my bathroom, but no, it's all me. I stick out my tongue - since that's what they have you do in all the movies when you're sick, and even my tongue is ugly.
I run some cold water and bury my face in the puddle I've collected in my chubby man-hands hoping some of my swelling will erode. Slowly looking up into the mirror, now I'm just a drippy, swollen bloodshot mess, only now I can see - I've got Bride of Frankenstein gray streaks through my temples too. Beauty.
I've always had a bunch of wiry gray hairs scattered through my hair, but they've yet to have a convention and of course this is a particularly good day to do so. I contemplate my generally accepted strategy of pulling them out and realize that the giant bald spots they would leave would not be an improvement so I just give up and start heading back to bed accepting that I will likely die soon so I shouldn't worry anymore.
Halfway back to bed a thought hits me... I've been unsuccessfully making hubby "tint" his hair for years. It wasn't because I didn't like his hair, it was because we both hated it when people asked if I was his daughter and a little tint seemed to mitigate the rate at which that question was popped. The problem was, he hated doing it and so he would tint, and then grow his hair out 5 inches, get it cut and tint it again. Tinting every seven months is not a good strategy if you are maintaining an image and so I finally gave up. Suddenly, the thought that hit me was he still has a bunch of boxes of "Just For Men" hair dye in his vanity.
My own vanity grabs me by the neck and I rummage through his man-stuff fishing out a couple boxes. Sprawled across the bathroom sink I've got my options and their instructions. There is some medium brown, dark brown and one that is particularly interesting to me: "sideburns, mustache and beard" dye. All of the packaging says it targets the gray, takes only 5 minutes and makes the user look appealing to others.
Since my appearance right now would make a badger vomit, that idea sounded good to me. Now my problem is which one to use, and the bigger question: is man hair the same as lady hair? I think it is, but how would I tell? Usually the Internet is the source of all wisdom, but I'm too weak to look it up and apparently delirious enough to throw caution to the wind. That and my plan B was to color each strand with a brown Sharpie, which will take a lot longer than the 5 minutes this says it will take.
Stroking the side of my head I decide that my gray temple hair, were it cut short enough, would be a sideburn so I should probably use the sideburn, mustache and beard box. It has a lot of instructions, and mixing up but I figure if it just targets the gray then I'm gonna be fine.
Using the poorly constructed plastic glove they include - side note, why does it have to be a plastic glove made from sandwich bag material. Are springy gloves THAT expensive and hard to find? I know it's a $5 box of men's mustache dye, but really? - I smear the concoction on my "sideburns" combing it in to the ends and effectively making myself look like I have a mullet held in place with an inappropriate amount of hair gel. We know from previous trips to the waxing salon that I didn't have a mustache anymore, so I didn't use the entire tube and was excited I would have enough for a second application 6 weeks from now.
Because this process is an intricately timed endeavor I need to go check a clock. I waddle back to my bedroom where Unnamed Child #1 has wandered in. Our eyes meet and immediately she knows something is up.
"Mooooom?" she says in a very accusatory tone.
"Yep" I nonchalantly reply.
"Whaaaat arrrre yooooou doing?"
"Dying my hair."
Now, for some reason, and I really can only blame the fact that I was near death with sickness, I had the box in my hand. So, like Vanna White, I lift the box and with my other hand highlight my reading skills: "Just For Men Sideburns, Mustache and Beard 5 minute dye."
if you have never seen a teenager flip out, and you want to, I suggest you use Just for Men Sideburns, Mustache and Beard dye in front of them.
The screaming made me get a gut laugh, and she started saying there was no way she could be more embarrassed by me, and what was wrong with me, and how could I, and she would make this her Facebook status if she wasn't so embarrassed by me.
"I'm siiiick" I say, hoping she will feel sorry for me, or finally realize my brilliance that she's been ignoring.
It didn't work.
"HOW COULD YOU? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? ARE YOU CRAZY?"
My 5 minutes was up, so I couldn't answer her and headed dutifully to the shower.
While I admit I was swollen, and bloodshot and a bit delirious from the medications, I think I look awesome. I am totally doing this until my husband's stash of unused hair dye runs out.
When I shared my awesome brilliance with her, my hairdresser simply said, "Yeah, I could tell. Don't do that again."
Yeah right. I have half a tube left and lady hair is just like man hair. If you don't look too closely.
As our little family travelled home after our Christmas celebration I was marveling at how far we had come. I watched harried, stressed parents lug strollers, car seats, diaper bags, and a herd of infants and small children through the airport I was so grateful we had passed that stage. Each of our three children had packed and were pulling their OWN suitcase through the airport. It was an amazing feat, especially for the type of "vacation" we celebrated.
Because I was not in charge of picking, we travelled to glorious Yellowstone National Park, which was a not-so-glorious 12 degrees.
Unlike other vacations, because our children have grown into relatively independent people who manage their own poop, change their own clothes and occasionally brush their own teeth we transitioned from me managing five people, to me counseling five people and then letting them suffer the consequences of their inattention to that counsel. We did have a few exchanges that made me want to whap certain of them on the back of the head such as: "I didn't pack the thermal underwear you set out for me because I didn't think I needed it." and I don't want to wear that parka, it's not "cute."
Fortunately, 12 degrees had a way of getting my point across better than I did.
We survived the whole ordeal, I mean vacation, with all our limbs intact and no one suffering hypothermia - most importantly me.
And now, we were on our way back to sunny, warmer Arizona. As we readied for our flight I counseled the kids on how and what to pack and where to pack it. I admit, the whole travel "security" thing is absolutely ridiculous. Confiscating hair gel and tweezers, removing our shoes, patting down grandma... I have never felt so safe.
The kids has purchased some souvenirs of the trip: keychains, magnets, and a laser-engraved pocket knife with their name spelled correctly. In our family it's a rarity to find any pre-made item with our names on it. Despite the impossibility of Disneyland having a magnetic license plate with Aselin on it, I still spent my childhood searching every kiosk I passed. I had to settle for a vandalized Vaseline container with the V and the E colored in blue. Lest you slip into a state of unseemly jealousy because your only personalized childhood collectable did not contain an ancient, well-used container of V - aselin - E, I did also have a book my grandparents ordered with a giraffe named Nilesa (hold it up to a mirror) who got into mildly entertaining antics. Now I know you want to be me.
Sad for you.
So back to the airport. I was watching these families try and navigate the very poorly designed security checkpoint laden like pediatric pack mules and I empathized as well as swelled with pride that we were passed that stage in life and my kids were all self sufficient and packed their own stuff. Unnamed child #2 was particularly conscientious and asked if they had to remove their ipod, camera and rechargers for them to inspect. Being the expert I am, I assured them those items could remain in their Buzz Lightyear carry-on backpack.
Going through the security station all five of us took off our jackets, de-shoed, removed computers, and somehow made it through the naked scanner (A side note, I don't believe a single thing they tell you about the naked scanner. The amount of radiation you're exposed to, the "fact" that they can't see who you are, store or send the images - dealing with the caliber of TSA worker I do believe they can't figure out how to do those things but I do not believe the capability does not exist) and were coming out the other side when the conveyor belt stopped. Uh oh.
A rather androgynous person's presence was requested by the scanner manner, and they poured over the screen pointing rather animatedly. With a unanimous nod, the conveyor was restarted and the "person" reached in and grabbed the Buzz Lightyear carry-on backpack asking aloud, "Whose is this?"
Poor Unnamed child #2 raises their hand and follows the "person" over to a searching station. I feel a little bad since maybe I'm not the expert I thought I was and they should have removed their ipod...oh who am I kidding. I didn't think that. I thought - this will be a good experience for them and I hope their grandparent's visit Salt Lake City federal prisons since it's a little out of my way.
The Buzz Lightyear carry-on backpack has the capacity of an average cantaloupe. It's a small bag, yet the search goes on, and on, and on. That kid had the thing PACKED. There was all kinds of gum, granola bars, trash, Yellowstone maps, Rubik's cubes
They stood there with the security guard saving all of us from terrorist Buzz Lightyear lovers. Finally, after all of us had completely re-robed, the violating item was discovered. A KNIFE!!!
I looked at the kid with the mother stinky eye and said, "WHAT??? We talked about packing knives through security - and really? A KNIFE???"
Unnamed Child #2 looked completely perplexed and embarrassed at the same time. They assured me they had completely forgotten about the knife their cousin had given them. In Unnamed Child #2's defense, the knife was smaller than my thumb and would have had trouble opening an envelope let alone taking over an airplane - but never fear, the friendly skies were safer that day as another kindle-reading absentminded teenager was prevented from traveling with a knife they didn't remember they had. Whew.
Don't tell anyone, but I did NOT turn off my cell phone for departure so I was ready to dial 911 in case any other hazardous dangers made it through the checkpoint.
It has been brought to my attention that some of my recent posts might be a little "stronger" than readers are used to. That was not the exact word that was used but I want to be gentle. We all know I cannot afford to offend even one of my four readers, and I certainly don't want to frighten anyone by letting them peek into my tiny brain so now, having felt like I purged my entire writer's block by venting a bit more "strongly" than usual, we will return to our normal programming.
Oh, and sorry I used the word crap.
OK, not really.