Saturday, July 19, 2008

Notify the Big W

We're T minus 8 hours for departure. I've been getting this household ready to be uninhabited for two weeks (don't you wish you knew where I lived so you could safely come steal the veggies that will surely be growing in my garden?). The Mini (van) also required a two day trip to the spa before she would consent to such a voyage as I have planned. She's sooo high maintenance...

Bills have been paid, garden has been fertilized and the house cleaned (sort of- The Most Wonderful Woman in the World comes the day after we leave and the day after we come back, so no stress there). We're packed for two weeks, suitcases are in the car. Tide samples are included since I don't know anyone who has enough underwear and bras for two whole weeks. Kids CDs and DVDs are packed. Only their favorites, of course. Healthy (sort of) snacks are in their little baggies, ready for the trip and water and juice are chilling in the fridge. Mail has been stopped. Paper has been stopped. Vacation notice will be sent from Yahoo if you write.

Frosting for the boys' parties has been prepared (including the fondant, of course) and will be waiting in the fridge when I get back. Dogs bathed and extra flea treated in anticipation of their trip to the spa (vet). School supply list is finished (Except those darn baby wipes. I knew I forgot something!). Only two more loads of laundry to do before we are in a dirty-laundry-free zone.

My medicine bag prepares us for everything from tummy upset to narcotic-requiring-pain. As long as no one comes down with ebola, I think I have us covered. Birthday invites are addressed and waiting for The Scientist to stamp them and drop them in the mail before he flies out (please, please, please remember, Mr. Scientist). Fridge (almost) cleaned out. Camera card emptied. Dishwasher filled and running. Indulgent gifts for my four nieces and one nephew purchased and packaged adorably.

So, when someone gets around to it, would they kindly drop a line to ol' W? Someone needs to tell him that as soon as we're done monkeying around in Iraq, to let me know and I have a whole bunch of women who will gladly join me in finishing this thing up. I mean, this trouble over there can't be nearly as complicated as taking a family of five on a two week vacation (no offense to our service men and women, many of whom I know and adore, of course). I have a feeling that if you turned some of us loose over there, we'd have things finished up in no time and would leave the place ship-shape and with monogrammed handtowels hanging in the bathrooms. Don't you think?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why We Are Done With Happy Meals for the Summer

It is hard to embarass me. I think that if you do enough time in the hallowed halls of humiliation, eventually it stops getting to you. Besides, I used to teach units on reproduction to classrooms of college students. Including every minute detail of male and female anatomy. With diagrams. And models. And plasticized actual organs. Try working up a decent blush about anything after doing that enough times.

It all started several months ago. We had some coupons to the Mickey D's closest to us (can you believe we have two Sonics and two McDonalds but no Target within 50 miles? Where the hell do I live?!). I pull through the drive through, pleased at the "Mommy is so great" comments coming from the backseat all because I'm about to get them ice cream cones. What do they care that they're free? Oh, but sad for me that I am trying to use TWO coupons in the drive through line. Apparently this is Just.Not.Done. No matter that I have three children in the car and one of them is sleeping peacefully. No matter that I have four people in the car and only want to use two stinkin' coupons and get a drink for myself. People like me must be dealt with and if I want to go so far as to use more than one coupon in the drive through, I must come into the store. Drive through convenience wasn't meant for customers like me.

So, I park the car, muttering about the piece of mind the manager, who will indeed be summoned, is going to get from me. I schlep everyone into the store, groggy and irritable baby on hip. As luck would have it, the manager was tending the register. I explain my issue and inform him that I will be telling my vast collection of mommy friends how this establishment likes to treat the mommies of this town and telling them to next time just pick the Chic-fil-a coupon if they get a choice. Getting service here is just too hard. He looks perplexed and wants to know who told me that I had to come into the store. That.Woman.Right.There. He shakes his head and does an apologetic little look and tells me that he is very sorry and will have A Talk with her. I was satisfied that this issue would be dealt with. We all have to have a Cause, right? We leave with our two free cones, but not the drink for me because I wasn't that forgiving. We went next door to Wendy's for that. I can hold a grudge.

So, needless to say, I was feeling very confident when last week, several months after the original and unfortunate coupon incident, I had occassion to use yet another set of coupons in the drive-through line. Guess what? Apparently The Incident had not warranted a full-scale employee meeting because the 16 year old I got this time hadn't gotten the memo. She repeats to me what has got to be hanging on the wall at the cash register because they say it the same way every time. You cannot use more than one coupon in the drive-through. But, this time I was prepared.

I didn't argue. I didn't explain the ratio of coupons to bodies in the car. I cut right to the chase and explained with all the confidence in the world that no, I could indeed use more than one coupon, because I had been through this before and had the assurance of The Manager that I would not have the same problem again. So, two free french fries please, another small fry for me. Loooooooong pause at the microphone. One Fish pipes up, "Wow, Mom. You really told her!" She still hasn't returned to the mike and I fear that she has walked off the job. "Maam?" I ask tentatively. "Uhhhhh. Drive around to the window, please." I'm sure that they have the burger police on standby for people like me. But, I am ready because exhaustion, indignation and a boat-load of children I do NOT want to get out of the car are fire-power enough to get me my damn free fries. Both of them. Handed through the window instead of over the counter, please.

Sure enough, the manager on duty (MOD, we'll call her) has already been summoned by the time I get the mini-van around the drive. I thank her for being so accomodating and explain that I have been through this before and know that it isn't really a big deal. And thank her again. I'm so easy to work with, see? She asks me if my order is complete and hands over my two free fries, but that's it. Oh, but I had another fry that I need to pay for too. This causes the whole order to be voided and requires her to pull out The Key and punch lots of buttons. Finally, we have three fries in the car and I hand over the cash and The Coupons. Another uncomfortable pause before she says...

"Maam, you know these coupons are only valid at the McDonalds down the street?"

And that, dear readers, is almost worth working up a blush over.

Edited to add: She did insist upon letting me still use the coupons because I think at this point she would have handed over two value-meals for free if it meant getting me out of her line. I picked up the cell-phone right then and there and called the number for comments or complaints. I gushed over over how helpful this particular manager is and how she totally deserves a Mickey D Medal or a Burger Banner or whatever they give out for commendable service. Because I'm so easy to work with, see?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You say "tomato", I say "fry that thing up"

Red Fish just ate his first fried green tomato. Loved it, of course. That makes us 2 for 3. One Fish and Red Fish are the two fried green tomato eaters. The fact that Two Fish doesn't care for them makes me question his parentage a little bit. But, we'll give him time to grow into some good taste before we get too concerned.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Running on Empty

Red Fish woke up at 1:30 and again at 2:45. I fed him at 2:45 and we both went back to sleep. At 3:30, the German Shepherd whined to go out. Unusual. They usually sleep harder than we do. At that point, I was up. Wide awake. I finally went out to the couch and read until about 5:00. Red Fish was awake again at 6.

I foolishly decided at 6:30 that there was no use dreaming of sneaking in a few more minutes before The Scientist left for work. I was up anyway- why not just keep being productive? Now, six hours later, I am now so tired that I feel like I have ignored a "may make you drowsy. Do not operate heavy machinery" warning.

I think I'm going to go call The Scientist and ask what time he will be home so that I can be showered and in pajamas when he comes in the door. Sort of like meeting him at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap. But different.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ace of Cakes?

In one week the children and I leave on an odyssey that will take us through six states in four days and will include visits with two dear friends(including Clemsongirl, yeah!) , one aging grandmother, an aunt and my sister and her lovely family. It will also include a several hour stop in Clemson because...well, it's Clemson. Of course, we're stopping.

This odyssey will end in northern Virginia where we will spend a few days with my in-laws (and meet up with The Scientist who is way too smart to drive up with us- he'll be flying when the work week is over). From there, we will pile in respective vans and go to Williamsburg, VA with my brother-in-law's family and my in-laws for a week. We'll be staying here. It has an indoor water park which makes it the perfect destination for my pigment-challenged family. I wish I could digress at this point for some pointed snarky remarks about The Scientist's family. However, I couldn't get along any better with them and actually look forward to time with them. Disappointing, I know.

After being gone two weeks, we head back down south (The Scientist couldn't get out of it this time- he's splitting the driving with me on the way back). Two days after we return, One Fish starts school. Three days after she starts school, I have planned Red Fish's first birthday party. The day after that, we will host Two Fish's fifth birthday party. Two days after that, The Scientist goes out to sea for a month. We're on a schedule here, people.

I've been getting everything done that needs to be done before we go. Planning the parties, buying supplies, finishing school supply lists, etc.

I have a thing about making the fishies' birthday cakes. Don't get me wrong. I oooh and ahhh with everyone else and am genuinely impressed at the cakes purchased by others for their children. They're darling. Really. But, I have had a "thing" since One Fish was born about making their cakes myself. Besides, I probably don't have much time before she insists upon something stupid like Zac Effron's face airbrushed on her cake-top, so I really should bake them myself and make them darling while I can, right? I don't do "airbrushed."

I am determined to figure out fondant for Red Fish's cake. Because, can you get any cuter than these? Make sure to keep scrolling until you see the Clemson cake, too. I'll take one of those, please.

I'm off to buy marshmallows for the recipe for the marshmallow fondant. I need a trial run. I bought the most beautiful blue icing coloring yesterday and plan to have fondant in several shades of it. This is turning into quite the project.

I'll be sure to post pictures of the Walmart cake I end up ordering...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mojito Madness

I feel it my duty to pass along my recent discovery. It is this:
1) Mint grows like a wild thing if left alone.
2) If it is to be tamed at all, you must find something to do with the mint.
3) We do not own any silver glasses and I think you cannot properly drink a mint julep without one. So, those are out.
4) Mojitos are curiously refreshing and delicious and no one cares what you drink them out of.

Mojito Recipe (if you have a better one, please pass along)

1) Take cup of choice. With a mortar and pestle, smoosh up some mint leaves (fresh, of course). Don't get really hung up on the number of leaves. By the time you have a few of these, you'll be going old school and just throwing a bunch of stuff in the glass anyway. If you like mint, start with about 6-8 leaves and add to taste. If you don't, go with four. Dump smooshed leaves in cup.

2) Put some powdered sugar on top of the mint smoosh and mix it up. Here's where you can ad lib a bit. The powdered sugar was making me a little crazy. It doesn't blend well and I really wished I had some simple syrup instead. Then, a friend pointed out that we could just add a bit of rasberry coffee syrup to it (not coffee flavored, but the kind they add to the coffee to make it slightly rasberry flavored) and probably sweeten it and make it extra delicious at the same time. She was right. So, go with the powdered sugar if you happen to be a real rules follower. Otherwise, do what works for you.

3) Throw some lime juice on top. Fresh limes if you can at all swing it. The lime juice from concentrate gets the job done alright, but nothing beats the fresh. Go with juice from about one lime. You can add later if you want to.

4) Add rum. You can figure this out by yourself.

5) Top with club soda. Toss a lime slice on the top as resort-wear.
Whoever invented this drink was a genius.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Don't these make you want a baby boy?

These are what I splurged on today for Red Fish. I decided that, although he seems to be not-so-into foowear, I couldn't very well have us going off on a two week vaca with no shoes for the baby, could I? They're Wee Squeaks and they have a little squeaker in the sole of them so that they squeak with every tentative step he takes. Absolutely adorable!! They are either going to sell the whole walking concept to him completely or totally shut it down so that I will be carrying around his fat little self until he's 6. I'll let you know.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nine Years Ago Today

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Scientist Man. I gotta tell you- if I had known then what I know now...
we'd be celebrating a number higher than nine. I love you!
Happy Anniversary to you, too, Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Letter to Tila (whoever she is)

Dear Tila (Tequila?)

We are not acquainted. At all. In fact, I cannot figure out who you are or why you have your own TV dating show. My husband says that you are famous because you have a lot of friends on MySpace or Facebook or something. That seems like sort of an unlikely reason to be famous, so I will just continue to be confused.

In any case, I was introduced to you this evening. I really had better things to watch and do this evening, but got blindsided by the train wreck that is your life and I couldn't tear myself away. I will try to be more conservative in my channel flipping in the future and will attempt to stay far, far away from anything that indicates brain rot in the title. But, no sense crying about it now. What's done is done and I'd like to move on. But I can't, Tila. I can't because there are a few things I need to say in order to get some closure.

First of all- Tequila? This is your choice for a last name? Girlfriend... I know that by your standards I am probably a blue hair. Old as the hills. But, some things don't change. And if you are looking for love, there is nothing about tequila that is going to help you find it. Tequila has been a heartbreaker for as long as it has been around. Trust me. I don't care what your name used to be. "Unahalekakah" is a better last name than "Tequila." Change it immediately (to just about anything) and I guarantee that your life will start to improve that very second. If you are still struggling and can honestly not think of a better last name than "Tequila" here is a good rule of life: in meeting strangers for the first time and in coming up with alternate last names for yourself, stay away from the three Bs. Bible, Booze and Boys.

Now that we're done with the absurd last name, let's get to what I found most troubling about our meeting last night. Tila, it seems that your dating show followed the script of most other dating shows. You stay in a house with a bajillion other people who are all groveling for you and you "date" them and eliminate them until you find the right one. In the finale, you're supposed to announce to the lucky winner that you will be spending your lives together. And then the two of you walk off into the sunset. There are many (oh so, so, so many) reasons that this scenario in general is a problem. But, you, Tila, had even bigger problems because you put a few twists into your show and it appears that the finale got twisted on you. The lucky winner rejected you. Turned you right down.

You were humiliated and horrified. Understandably. But, then you had to utter the words that made me sit up in bed and straighten my cotton pajamas. You asked /wailed, "Whyyyyyyy." Just like that. And I knew right then that we had to sever our 10 minute old relationship. Tila, if you honestly cannot figure out why you cannot find "true love" on a dating show where men and women alike compete for your affections and beat each other up, make asses of themselves and then snog you in front of each other, then we are always going to have communication issues. I know it's so tempting because Brett Michaels did it (are you old enough to even know who he is?). But, he had to make two attempts before he found his "Rock of Love" and he only had one gender to worry about. You gotta keep it simple, know what I mean?

So, last night was a one time thing. I will not be making any more visits. I know it seems to be a double standard because when Brett and his woman eventually break up and Rock of Love 3 airs, I will be tuned in. But, Brett has a tangible reason to be famous AND he takes me back to my callow youth, as unappealing as that may sound.

You just make me feel old and intolerant. Know what I mean?

Actually, it's Holy Green Beans, Batman!

Here are some picts of the garden. I really think it needs a good name. Just like palacial estates have names, this garden needs a name that it is fitting for the glorious plot of fertile earth that it is. Any ideas?
And here's how you know that truly, in my heart, I really am a dork: I have gone outside to take pictures every morning of my green bean plants. I planted them from seed and the disciples watching Jesus do his walking on water thing couldn't have been more surprised than I to see those little sprouts come up from the earth just 5 days after they were put in there. Shocked, I tell you. Not that they were coming up after 5 days, but that they were coming up at all. I think that I am amusing Mother Nature this week with my lack of faith because the pumpkin seeds and squash seeds sprouted just days later.
In other news, Two Fish broke a board with his foot yesterday in kung fu (not The Other Place).
Everyone take cover.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Raise your hand if you can say "Oedipus"

Last night, The Scientist and I were headed out to enjoy an overpriced sushi dinner and the movie Hancock. Our ninth anniversary warranted such, don't you think? Actually, our anniversary isn't until the 10th, but my neighbor was volunteering to babysit on the 5th, not the 10th and you know what they say about beggars, right? Two Fish was extremely unhappy about this activity. You see, he had spent the entire day with The Scientist doing whatever boys do on Saturdays. My guess was that he was so very unhappy because I was stealing his adored father away and he had been hoping that his little testosterone-fest would last into the night.

I finally worked the Mommy-Magic and got him dressed in a favorite shirt and headed over to movie night at my neighbor's house. I came back to shower and get dressed like a grown up. Thirty minutes later, I was dressed in grown-up clothes and even had on jewelry and wedge heels. We dropped a bag with jammies in it next door before we headed out. All three fishies ran to give me a kiss before I backed out the door, threatening bodily harm if anyone touched their spaghetti face on my white linen pants.

This morning the following conversation occurs:
Two Fish- Mommy, I bet you were jealous of the girls last night.

Me- Oh, yeah? Why is that?

Two Fish- Because I was wearing that shirt and you love to see me in that shirt!!

Me- Oh, yes, you're right. I was very jealous!

Two Fish- But, it's OK if you were jealous.

Me- Yep, I guess we're all jealous of something sometime, aren't we?

Two Fish- Yes, like I was jealous of Daddy last night because he got to go out with you and you were so pretty and fancy and he got to go out with you instead of me go out with you, right?

Me- That's right, darling boy.

And that, ladies, is why it's good to have at least one boy.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My Mother-of-the-Year Application is now complete

We're entertaining tomorrow. I refuse to mop my kitchen floor until tomorrow about 30 min. before they arrive. Except that I just had to because it was so disgusting. The intent of that little anectdote is not to emphasize how anal and clean I am, but to demonstrate how completely disgusting the floor was. Totally gross.

As part of the prep for tomorrow's festivities and as a way to keep them busy and out of my hair, the Fishies are cleaning. Not Redfish, though. He's just splashing in the tub. The "playroom" they are cleaning is actually more of an extension of our patio, although it is enclosed and I think is technically considered a sunroom. It is one of our rooms that gets dangerously messy because we tend to just shut the door and pretend it isn't out there. If we ever get around to the addition we have been meaning to put on the house, that room will be the first to go. Iwant it torn off the house and replaced completely. I know, I know, destruction+ construction costs more than just construction. But, I don't care. I even saw that as a silver lining right after hurricane Katrina. I was just sure that the damn thing had blown clear off the house. It was obviously an afterthought when this house was built. Oh, no such luck. The damn thing is apparently built like the proverbial poop house and was standing there in all its crappy glory when we returned. I even had the kids excited about going to buy more toys. I was that sure it was gone.

Anyway, I have cracked the whip and given them one hour to get it straightened (they could have it done in about 20 if they wanted to). Anything not in its place after an hour is MINE. How's that for cutting edge parenting?