Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Welcome to your life

We helped one of my brothers move a while back. He left a very nice place (no doubt with drawbacks but they were hidden, especially to children) that he had to himself to move in with a roommate.

The old place stood on its own -- a sort of one-bedroom little house. My sons were quite enamored with it. It was very bachelor pad, but I think they thought of it as a clubhouse.

The new place is also very nice. Just different. And the roommate has art on the wall and nice furniture. It's also up a flight of stairs. In my sons' eyes it is much more grownup and not nearly as fun as the old place.

We carried boxes and clothes and furniture into the new place. We helped put things in storage in the attic.

As my brother, my husband and my sons stopped to take a break. Jack took a look around with the hard, honest eyes of a child... the bedroom is smaller and is piled with the just-moved-in boxes, the roommate had tons of his own stuff piled around and things were clearly going to be different.

"This could be your LIFE," Jack says with a wave of his hand.

"Uh. It is my life," said his uncle.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's all clear now

I feel I have fallen into the HD trap (carefully crafted no doubt by my husband)...

My husband was an early laser disc dork in the day. Something about the quality of picture, etc.

"Can't you see the difference? It's amazing."
"Sure. Yeah. Got that."

Over the years we've upgraded DVDs, DVD players, cable and televisions all in search of this elusive, amazing picture quality.

The television we own was carefully researched and purchase (without the wife's knowledge of cost. My brother went with Dean and my brother wouldn't even tell me).

It hasn't really mattered to me. A couple pixels here or there. Whatever.

So the other night I start watching the Daily Show. The picture is fuzzy and soft. The colors aren't clear or crisp. I start whining because we all know our recent family history with technology. It's been well documented here.

"It's not even in focus! What's with DirecTV?!" I complain, ready to dial the memorized number.

And that's when my husband finally, finally got his payoff: "That's because you aren't watching it in HD."


"HD. Try the HD channel."

And sure enough... It was like putting on a new pair of glasses. The colors, the quality, the amazing picture, and the oh, so smug husband. I see Blu Ray on our horizon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why is he like my brother Rod?

Neil is just a bad college roommate spouting cliches:

"On like Donkey Kong" (as he challenges you to whatever)...

"You snooze, you lose" (as he jumps on the couch and steals your seat)...

"That's the way I roll" (with the appropriate flick of his finger and a wink)...

"Show me some respect" (as he saunters around the living room)...

"Too bad, so sad" (well that one is just self-explanatory and just as obnoxious)...

"We've got to book it" (meaning we were late for school)...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

About that ...

It occurred to Jack that I'm writing... on the internet... potentially about him. He doesn't seem disturbed by it. He just requested that I not tell anyone he likes Pokemon. It might be a little too late for that. I'm counting on you to keep it a secret.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Send help -- after the second season

I think we have a problem. Addiction is an ugly world, but I suppose admitting you have a problem is the first step...

We've become addicted to Showtime's Californication.

It's not our fault. We don't have Showtime (We don't have any "premium" channels because we got tired of the "premium" heart failure when the kids found things we had to explain...). But DirecTV has a channel of DirecTV-only shows -- a special treat for subscribers. I'm not even sure how we started (it's so true of most addictions, isn't it?).

DirecTV has these marathons of Californication so we TiVo'd them -- a late night, after-the-kids-go-to-bed kind of guilty pleasure. Of course David Duchovny's character has more sex in that first episode we watched than we've had all month ... but it's the thought that counts, right?

Dean's fighting the urge to wear all black and wander around with a whiskey bottle. 

And smoking is looking mighty cool to both of us (well, not Dean, but I'm willing to go back on inhalers to be cool).

One of the best parts is laughing at dubbing of the curse words for the DirecTV version of the show. Sure, most are freaking or stuff, etc... But then you get the nuggets like: "cheese and rice" and "Virginia" ("be kind to her Virginia").

And then last night we were watching a recorded episode, we've got three or four more left in the queue, so when the show ended with a bit of a stunner we were jolted with the realization that it was the season finale ... Now what's going to happen? What?! No more shows?! What's gonna happen with Hank and Karen? Will Mia publish Hank's book as her own? Will everyone find out what Hank did? What about Becca? Will Bill seek revenge? He doesn't seem like a nice guy. And what about Charlie and his little smurf wife? Will there be more spankings? Lesbian assistants? What?!!!!!

Those bastards. Now I've got to get Showtime.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Say cheese

Yesterday was picture day at school and it was much too stressful.

9-year-old hippie boy doesn't particularly like hair cuts, combing his hair or picking anything but basketball shorts to wear to school.

5-year-old stubborn one sees the 3-level stand that the kids get on for the class photo and it freaks him out. And we have the same argument about the basketball shorts.

Mom can't find clean shirts without stains (NO MORE OLIVE OIL AND BREAD FOR JACK!) for the children. And she is NOT giving in on the basketball shorts (though when we finally get to school, apparently every other mother did).

So I get Jack to stop combing his hair straight down and plastered tight to the sides of his head. I even get him to wash his face. Dean thankfully had ironed a shirt for him that morning (we don't iron for ourselves, but picture day can get us to iron).

Neil gives in on the shorts (with a bribe) and we wash his face. I get the photo guys to show him the stand and that it is harmless.

Awesome. We are at school. The kids look nice (I can always shower tomorrow) and everyone is finally calm (especially mom).

I forgot the order forms at home...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On his feet again

In our last post we found mom humble, weak and feeling defeated... It might get worse...

The freaking shoes broke!!!!! Yes, the shoes I finally found after my desperate shopping search (see last post) bit the dust before I picked him up from school.

I am Mom. Hear me be seriously annoyed.

"I'm sorry I caused so much trouble, Mom," Jack says on the way out of school.

"You're not trouble. It's just the way things go sometimes." I couldn't help but let the frustration seep out. "I thought I was doing something really great for you."

"You did do something really great. Thank you."

I am Mom. Hear my heart swell with love and pride.

Today, Jack is wearing the newest, whitest pair of Chuck Taylor's available.

Monday, September 15, 2008

One step at a time

I'm getting tired of these day-late/dollar-short days...

We camped this weekend. We helped Uncle Rod move this weekend. We lost one of Jack's shoes somewhere in the south end of the great state of California this weekend. As you can imagine, it's a big area to search. Especially when you didn't know you needed to be looking for it until after 9 p.m. last night.

We searched and searched and searched and searched. We gave up and went to bed eventually. Jack can just wear an old pair tomorrow...

Of course this morning, we realized that Jack is wearing a 5 1/2 shoe. The closest thing in his closet was a 3 1/2. uh. 

I sent him to school in a pair of Crocs with a note. They aren't supposed to wear Crocs and Jack was none too pleased. I tried to console him and tell him at least he wasn't Mario Batali whose mom makes him wear orange Crocs. Somehow that wasn't comforting to him. So I promised to find him a pair of shoes and bring them back to him by recess at 9:40 a.m.

I had strict instructions -- not like the old black ones, not like the old white ones, not like the red and white ones, not like the ones with designs like Neil wears, not like anything that is ever sold in a store that might open before 10 a.m.

I had my goal -- cheap pair of shoes to be back ups to whatever shoe he wanted to choose in the near futurec. Kids (and this mom) can't live with one pair. 

We hit Wal-Mart the wonder store (which I'm not comfortable shopping at but that's a whole different story). Yeah. NOTHING. (Well, we did contemplate a Hannah Montana pair, but Neil vetoed it.)

Neil and I proceeded to Kohl's. They were open before 9 a.m. and they carried Converse. We knew he liked Converse high tops (plain black of course). None in his size. We did find a pair that was the updated version of the Adidas shoe he lost, but they wanted $79 for it. Are you kidding me? He's 9. Not going to do it.

We then hit Target. Neil and I were getting nervous. Jack's recess started at 9:40 a.m. Neil's school started at 10:20 a.m. Hopefully we were going to make it.

No Converse that fit. No plain colored anything available in Jack's size. I did find a pair of low-top, pull-on hiking shoe in Jack's size that were mostly brown and $20. Target shoes tend to run tight on Jack so I bought a half size up to cover it... Purchase!

We make it to school by 10 a.m. It's the end of recess, but I'm here. Neil is going to be on time and Jack will have shoes! 

Jack's OK with the shoes. He puts them on, says they are fine. I tear off the tags, dump it all in the nearest trash can, and I watch my son head off to class. I'm feeling good. "I am mom! Hear me roar!"

And then I notice his feet are falling out of the shoes...

"Oh, yeah. They are way too big," he says. Thought of telling me that before I tear the tags off and trash them?

I am mom. Weak. Humble. Desperate. 

My hair isn't combed. My kid's shoes are falling off him. It's also my day to work in the classroom.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dan is the man today

I love my mechanic Dan. I want to bake him cookies, maybe even a pie. (I'd have his babies, but I'm really done with that and it would be weird.)

What brings about such devotion, you ask? Several reasons but the latest is AIR, GLORIOUS AIR! -- as in AIR CONDITIONING.

The air conditioning in my van has been dying. It's been ugly. Actually, it's been hot and sweaty and just unpleasant. I leave nothing in the car and leave all the windows open so it doesn't get too hot. I aggressively pursue shady parking spots (My apologies to the lady with the perfectly good working air conditioning and the tinted windows in the Expedition at the Kaiser parking lot last week.) and generally just live with it.

Fear of how much it was going to cost kept me away from Dan. 

Well, yesterday was the day we gave in and took the van to Dan and he fixed it. Life is good -- gas is down to $3.69 a gallon and I've got working AC. Pile the family in and let's drive around until that sucker feels like a meat locker! (OK. Not really, but you understand the feeling, yes?)

Today, I left things in the van that I had to lock up. No windows down. Several sunny hours later, I just hopped in, cranked up the AC and oooooh it felt gooooood. 

Worth every penny...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Back to School

And here's a belated first day of school photo. Look at Jack's hair! I wonder how long he wants to grow it. He doesn't say. I thought he would be tired of it by now, especially when he plays or swims. 

Little boys and puppy dogs

Have you seen Marna's new baby? His name is Gizmo and I think Neil is in love. 

Monday, September 08, 2008

Suburban Subversive

I am a bad mother. I let my kid down and I don't even feel sorry.

Jack really wanted to play flag football. But I missed the sign up date. He did make the waiting list but unless I was willing to coach a flag football team (I am not) there wasn't any space for him.

I felt really bad. Until my evil brain reminded me that this means no practices, no games, no canceling plans because of a game conflict, no team mom job this fall, no snack schedules, no team party to plan, etc. No trying to cram homework, dinner, practice in before bedtime. Oh, I felt bad but it felt sooooo good!

It feels gooooood to have no sport commitment. I drive by the park and see teams practicing. There's a twinge of guilt in my heart, but my mind screams "Not me! Not this season!" 

Suddenly we have Saturdays! We might even have a Saturday with NOTHING to do! The possibilities seem endless. We could take a family bike ride. We could hike. We could golf. (Those of you who know me well can stop laughing now. I'm sure Dean would love to do these things with his sons.)

It's sad that this is what passes for subversive behavior in the suburbs: I didn't sign my kid up for a team sport. It seems almost incomprehensible to some. Frequently I just get a blank stare when someone asks what sport the boys are playing this season and I answer "none."

Sign-ups for Winter Basketball are now. The season starts in January. That seems so far away. Will we have had enough of Saturdays? Will we be willing to hand them back to team sports? Will I be able to get away with "oh, I missed the sign ups" again?

Friday, September 05, 2008

It's a dirty job

Dean spent part of Labor Day watching the Dirty Jobs marathon, and now he wants to invite Mike Rowe to do his "dirty job."

I laughed at Dean, "Dirty Job? Not even."

Of course then I thought about what the poor man has done recently (besides the usual working and providing and fathering and husbanding and volunteering and riding for charity, etc.):

1. A rat died in Marna's backyard and Dean had to remove it. My mom handed him a plastic grocery bag thinking he would pick it up with his hand... I'm grimacing as I type so you would be correct in assuming that I was no help. As Dean described it: "It was still pretty fresh." (Please don't think my parents have rats. My mother would be appalled. Neighbors of my parents just moved into a vacant house and have been exterminating rats. Neil was quite thrilled to find one in Marna's yard. "Sweet!" Marna was less thrilled.)

2. We've been ignoring the fish tank. Of course when black stuff is oozing out of the filter and the kids' room is starting to smell worse than the usual dirty socks, you can't ignore it anymore. That was Dean's job too.

3. Dean took the kids for a bike ride which turned into a 6-mile ride (at least one mile of which was almost straight up hill) to my parents' house. At one point he was carrying his bike and the 5-year-old's bike while trying to cajole the aforementioned 5-year-old up a very steep hill (He would say MOUNTAIN.) and trying to keep the 9-year-old from being run over by traffic. Of course, the 9-year-old wanted to ride back home too.

4. He rescued a remote-control flying thing (It looks like a giant bug to me) that was covered in saliva from a neighbor's growling dog.

5. Do you have an idea how much poo two dogs can produce? Enough said.

6. Speaking of poo: Do you have any idea how much poo a 5-year-old can produce? And then how much toilet paper he uses when unsupervised? And what it does to the toilet? And what it does to the bathroom after the 5-year-old panics and keeps flushing?

And this was an easy week. No one had the flu. The dogs have run out of plums to eat in the backyard (THAT was not pretty). And nothing has crawled into our yard and died. Of course, there's always the weekend...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Gotta teach the kid to air-kiss

"Neil when you get to Marna's house, give the new puppy a kiss for me."

"Sure. ... Ummm... Not on the lips, right?"


Monday, September 01, 2008

Gynecological twin

Sarah Palin has a vagina, so I'm voting for her! 

That's the Republican Party plan, right? All you need is a gynecological twin (thank you Samantha B. on the Daily Show) and all those supposedly disenfranchised Hillary voters are yours for the taking!

"It turns out the women in America aren't finished yet..." I can still hear Gov. Palin at the VP announcement press conference. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure Hillary supporters weren't just voting for her because she has two X chromosomes.

But maybe the Republican Party thinks women are that stupid. Maybe those currently in charge of it think women will just look at her boobs and the school marm look, and they will ignore the deep, deep, deep ideological divide between the two.

I'm kind of disappointed. The Republican Party is usually better at marketing than this. I would have expected it from the Democratic Party...