Friday, January 28, 2011

Navigating the obstacles of life just to get to Starbucks.

Last night I had big plans to escape my family and head to our local Starbucks to spend an amazing kid-free time with my amazing friend, Kim. I spent all day imagining the carefree laughter and the ability to have a conversation without being interrupted by people shorter than four feet. It would be pure bliss, I was certain.

At 5:01pm I was driving excitedly from the office parking lot, heading towards unadulterated freedom and a grande chai tea latte!

Except at 5:02pm, the reality of my life slapped me hard in the face when Big V called and said he didn't actually have time to pick the kids up from day care so I'd have to do it. I'm pretty sure he did that on purpose because I didn't invite him to our Starbucks soiree. He can be bitter and petty like that.

(Just kidding. That's called sarcasm people.) The truth is, Big V was off to referee a basketball game. He does that from time to time because he likes to play dress up and has an extra prisoner's shirt from an old Halloween costume he likes to use. (Again. Sarcasm.)

So I get the kids home and the Bean is all "do you notice I did my eye make-up different today?" and the baby was all "BAH! BAH! BAH!" which can mean book, ball, bottle, Bahamas or Bahrain. I don't pretend to understand. And then Dotter pipes up with, "I'm so excited! I can't wait to go!" Uh... go where? "To the cultural celebration!" And I was all I'll turn on National Geographic for you because I'm going to Starbuck's and I'm going to celebrate culture there by myself. Without kids.

And then she reminded me about how all those papers she's been handing me every night after school mentioned the fact that for the past thirty days or so the entire school has been learning about Africa and tonight is the night that the school gymnasium is transformed into another part of the planet and there will be food and posters and artwork and they even get to sing a traditional African greeting song. Oh, and also her shift starts at 7 o'clock. You have a shift? "Yes. I volunteered to work at our Nigeria table from 7:00 to 7:30pm." Oh, goody.

So we went to Africa. And at 7:31pm I was all up in Dotter's face Good job! This was great! Wow, you sure knew a lot about Nigeria! Can we go now? Huh? Huh? Can we?

Starbuck's was calling my name in a bad way so I decided to do what any mature mother would do in this situation and drop my daughter off in the street so I didn't have to lose precious time with all that in-and-out maneuvering in the driveway. Hasta la vista, kiddo!  "Goeie nag, Mamma! Ek is lief vir jou!"

Four minutes away was my safe haven... Almost there.... AND the phone rings. It's Big V:

I was going to talk to you before you left but I heard your tires squeal as you were escaping.

Oh, sorry. I'm in a hurry. What did you need?

The kids are hungry.

Feed them.

What should I feed them?

Food

What food?

What do we have?

We have hot dogs.

Feed them hot dogs.

But we're out of propane.

What?

For the grill. We're out of propane for the grill so I can't make the hot dogs.

What about the stove?

What about it?

Make the hot dogs on the stove.

You can make hot dogs on the stove?

Yes.  [... for the love ....]

How?

How what?

How do you make hot dogs on the stove?

Just put them in a frying pan and fry them up. Pretend it's a grill.

What number should I put it on?

What? [... I'm parking now....]

What number should I put the dial on?

I don't care. 

Will 5 be too high?

It'll be fine.

I don't want to burn them

Then turn it down.

Will 2 be too low?

I don't know... it'll be fine... people eat hot dogs raw...  [...shut up... I'm almost to the door...]

Maybe I should just set the dial to in between the 2 and the 5.

THAT SOUNDS GREAT! YOU SHOULD DO THAT! I GOT TO GO! GOOD LUCK! [... I just want my Starbucks! Please don't make me cry!...]

I have never had so much fun sitting in Starbucks in my life. Amazingly, not once did I worry if my family succumbed to E Coli after consuming undercooked hot dogs.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Lang Company Thinks I'm A Loser. Maybe. Or Else They Love Me. I Can't Tell.

January 27, 2011

The Lang Company
PO Box 1605
Waukesha, WI 53187

To Whom It May Concern:

Last night I went to my mailbox which is something I do daily with a certain amount of dread because there are usually only bills inside, or junk mail addressed to some lady named Colleen who doesn’t even live in our house and really, what fun is that? But ‘lo and behold, last night, waiting in my mailbox was a package from The Lang Company. And I love me some Lang, know what I mean? (It’s the paper. Superb!)

I opened the package and found a 2011 Folk Art Engagement Planner inside. That made me confused because I was pretty sure I had already received the one I ordered but I tend to drink a lot of wine and also the baby has been suffering from a pretty bad cold and hasn’t been sleeping through the night lately so I couldn’t actually be certain I had one already. The mind can play some pretty powerful tricks on a person when they’re exhausted and/or drunk. So, I went to my purse and ‘lo and behold! There was the original 2011 Folk Art Engagement Planner I had ordered and received. In case you think I’m still drunk and/or exhausted here’s photographic proof there were two:


At first I thought obviously Lang loves me so much they sent me an extra gift to enjoy but then I started getting paranoid thinking maybe it was actually some sort of cruel joke to rub it in my face that there’s no way I have enough engagements planned to fill one book, much less two, and Lang thinks it’s funny to point out I’m a big loser. So I figured I ought to just ask outright which it was: a gift or a jab. But then I got to thinking that maybe the person who sent me two of my order instead of just the one I paid for had made an honest mistake and was not a mean person at all. Then I thought what if that person was just exhausted like me (but not necessarily drunk) and didn’t mean to mess up? I wouldn’t want them to lose their job because what if they have a baby at home who is all stuffed up and not sleeping through the night and needs medication and working at Lang is their only means to pay for that medication because not everyone has decent health insurance, you know, although they should.

Now I have this moral dilemma because I know the second planner isn’t one I rightfully paid for and I need to return it but I don’t want to have the firing of an individual on my conscience (especially knowing their child is sick). Unless of course that person is just malicious and meant to send it to me as a cruel reminder that after kids I no longer have a social life because then that person can just fry (figuratively speaking). So, here’s your extra book back. I trust you’ll know what to do.

Respectfully,
Phoenix Rising


PS:  I don’t actually say ‘lo and behold often (or at all). It’s just that holy shit! did not seem professional.

PPS: I also don't drink as much as I may have implied so you don't really have to call Child Protective Services. Unless you feel you need to. I could just enter that home visit into my 2011 Folk Art Engagement Planner. (The one I kept; not the one I returned.)

PPPS: If someone from Lang did want to send me a special gift because they loved me I actually have my eye on the Vintage Floral Address Book (Item # 1013145). I do have enough friends and family to fill that no problem.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thanks to The Bloggess, My Life's Mission is Just About Complete

Yeah, yeah, I've given birth to three children, served in the United States Army, and can touch my nose with my tongue, but hasn't everybody?

Well, not everybody. Obviously, no man has actually given birth to a child, unless you count Thomas Beatie who was transgender and legally a man but kept his girlie parts so he could have a baby.

And the Army stint? They let anyone join. Seriously. Some time I'll tell you about Private Gloria Farmer (yes, her real name) who almost blew my legs off because she panicked during the whole "pull the pin, count to three and throw it" grenade exercise. Nowhere did it say "get nervous, fumble, and drop the sucker between the legs of your fellow soldier who is pretending to save your sorry ass with tracer bullets." (Don't worry, it wasn't a real grenade; those are expensive. These were the pretendish grenades that were more like fireworks. But fireworks can still blow off appendages, people. The danger is real.)

And also, there was a guy I went to school with who had this freakishly long tongue that he could part his bangs with. Seriously, the kid was part cow. My point? I haven't exactly accomplished anything memorable or exciting in life.

Or have I?

Because ohmygodIcannotbelievethis but you know Jenny, The Bloggess, right? I mean, she's only like the funniest person on the web - but, hey, uh, Mom, if you're reading this, don't actually click on that link I just provided because she sometimes seems to cuss a lot and she sometimes talks about sex and also zombies which might freak you out a bit. In fact, she's maybe probably actually written detailed accounts of zombies having sex which would really, really freak you out, so just trust me that she's really funny in between all the swearing and the sex addicted zombies, okay? So, anyway --- anyone who is anyone follows The Bloggess, except for William Shatner, who I think has a restraining order out against the Bloggess, but that's really for him to straighten out in therapy, and also, if I comment on that Bill might block me from his twitter account. Because he has done that.

So, this morning, the Bloggess posts and HOLY SMOKES her post is all about me! And by all about me I mean she included the title of one of my blog posts called A Dollar For Your 'Stache! And it's listed as number six! I made the top ten, people! I made the top ten!

Don't worry, I'll wait while you go back to her post and also bask in my glory. Perhaps I could get her to highlight my title to make it easier for you to find it. Just count six titles down, people. Just six. This, in and of itself, is quite an accomplishment.

This accomplishment feels intrinsically way better than the time I gave birth without an epidural and actually lived through it! Oh, yeah, and about that - I realize I was really young,  Dr. Rosenboom (yes, your real name), and had no idea what an actual "Birth Plan" was but that does not make it okay for you to keep the glorious wonders of an epidural secret. And also, while we're on it, I feel cheated because I never crushed on you and everyone says they crushed on their baby doc. No epidural and no irrational physical attraction to some guy who spends the majority of his day looking at lady bits? It's a miracle I ever had more children.

But nevermind all that. I am feeling good today because I was personally included in The Bloggess's post! I feel so good I am even going to forgive her obvious oversight in not mentioning me by name because she's probably busy terrifying people in her panda costume.

I am content in knowing my Life's Mission is just about complete. I can't tell you the full details of my mission because it involves a large dinner party where I am being served by one particular Bloggess donning a quite particular panda costume and I don't want to accidently scare said Bloggess away. Let's just say the groundwork has been laid, people. It's only a matter of time...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's For Dinner?

I'm thinking of writing a cookbook called I Have No Food and I Have No Time, What's For Dinner? because really, that's the story of my life. I usually work later than Big V and, while he's a great help at picking up the kids and carting their butts home, he tends to just sit there and wait until dinner magically appears in front of him. The older kids have picked up on this habit. I'll walk in two to three hours after they all got home and be ambushed by three starving, foaming at the mouths wild monsters, and one super cute toddler who's seemingly only word is a high pitched HI! (which he rapidly repeats 672 times before tiring). (Yes, 672 times. Believe this to be true.)

I haven't yet removed my shoes, I'm hopping up and down because my bladder can no longer take the ten minute commute down bumpy, country roads and I really have to pee, the baby is pulling on the purse hanging from my arm (another fun game we like to play, Let's Rip Mommy's Purse Out of Her Arms and Watch Her Horrified Reaction While She Tries to Gather Everything with Lightning Speed. This is especially fun to play in large crowds when we're in a hurry. Who says you can't have fun with your toddler for free?) and "What's for dinner?" is being hurled in my general direction from two rooms over where the television set is located. It's my favorite part of the day. Really. The only thing that could possibly beat it is the midnight wake-ups from the teen who just needs to remind me of something important. (Important in her mind; not mine.)

But I digress. "What's for dinner?" Since I assume nothing has magically appeared inside the pantry, my options are usually pretty limited. I've become great at cobbling things together that are actually edible. I always Once in a while I make Food Dump which is when I basically dump whatever food I can find in a pot and heat it up. I did this the other night and Big V loved it so much he declared it his absolute most favorite meal ever and forced me to write down the ingredients so I could replicate it. (Trouble with that was I hadn't really been paying attention when I was throwing things in the pot.) He also made me solemnly swear to make this at least twice a month. I swore, but I told him I couldn't guarantee an exact match.

Anyway. In honor of my new cookbook I Have No Food and I Have No Time, What's For Dinner? I shall share the blessed Food Dump: Version #47 recipe with you:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • butter (real butter; not that fake stuff)
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 1can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • The rest of the jar of leftover chunky salsa that's been sitting in the fridge for the past three months (approx 1/4 cup)
  • chicken stock (anywhere from half a cup to a gallon. Truth be told, I have no idea how much.)
  • The rest of the egg noodles in the bag that's crinkled in the back of the pantry hiding behind the stale cereal
  • Half a box of whole wheat spaghetti noodles (ignore the expiration date; three years is not that long.)
  • The remaining bag of frozen vegetables for stew which amounts to about a handful.

Take a crapload of butter and melt it in your pan. (A crapload is approximately 2-4 tablespoons, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.) Throw your diced onion in. All of it. There is no such thing as too many onions. Unless you are a dental hygienist and then you should just stay away from onions altogether. In fact, it's probably a condition of your employment contract.

Add some more butter. It makes you feel better. Trust me. Brown the stew meat for just a bit. (You want to retain the red in the middle.) Remove the stew meat. Empty the enchilada sauce, diced tomatoes and chunky salsa into the pan with the onions and butter. Stir it up. You want that butter to be everywhere. Turn it down and let it simmer while you go cut the stew meat into bite sized pieces. No one wants to have to gnaw on a huge hunk of meat. Throw your bite sized meat pieces in the pot. Throw the vegetables in there, too. Hell, might as well dump the noodles in now. When everything cooks in one pot you have less dishes. Notice that there isn't a lot of "sauce" so start emptying your chicken stock into the pot until it looks like "enough." Put the lid on and walk away.

Go hide out in the bathroom for the next ten to fifteen minutes. It's the only room with a door that locks and you deserve it.

Now, dinner is done, but the probability of anyone actually walking into the kitchen to serve themselves is slim to none. You have two choices here: enable their laziness by serving them, or fill your bowl and eat it in front of them and trust that eventually they will embrace the resources God gave them and find the kitchen on their own. I personally suggest Option 2. (Enabling is so tacky.)


Ignore the ugly bowl. They're splotchy green with a moose on them.
If anyone wants this ugly set, consider it yours.

Note how I did not once say, "Dude, you have been home for TWO HOURS! How about YOU start dinner?" This is probably because I am way more mature than that.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What did YOU do this weekend?

Things I learned this weekend:
The digestive system, which simply put, breaks down food into a form our body can use, is 28 feet long and consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines and anus. Digestion starts in the mouth where food is chewed and broken into smaller pieces. The mouth's saliva contains enzymes that turn starches into sugars. The food then travels down the ten inch tube, with a one inch diameter (about the size of a quarter) called the esophagus. The esophagus connects the mouth to the stomach. The stomach is a strong bag-like organ that squeezes the food for about 2 hours before it's passed to the small intestines. The small intestines are narrow - also about 1" in diameter, and 22 feet long. It is here where the liver and pancreas help aid in digestion. The liver produces bile that breaks down fat and the pancreas creates a chemical that breaks down stomach acid, without which the acid would burn through the walls of the small intestines. Ouch. Anyway, the nutrients are extracted from the food-like paste and travel through the wall of the small intestines out into the blood. This takes about 3-6 hours. The only thing left is waste which is pushed into the large intestines. The large intestines are about 3" in diameter and 4' long. Water is extracted from the waste and every 10 to 24 hours the waste exits our body via the anus.

Things my 9 year old daughter learned this weekend:
Her mother is the meanest mother in the entire world because her mother made her study for a stupid digestive system test which meant she had to miss Drake & Josh which isn't even on TV that much anymore and if her mother really knew her then her mother would know that Drake & Josh is very important to her, but obviously her mother doesn't care about her at all and is just plain mean. Also, anus is a very funny word and you can laugh at it every time it is mentioned.