Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving with the 'Rents

Every year, I dread Thanksgiving with my parents. It is not the Thanksgiving of yore, where we sat down to a table of 25, starting with antipasti at 1pm, then move on to the full turkey, broke for cards, then all the friends arrived for dessert. Those days are long gone. Sadly, most of the family is sitting at the heavenly table now and those still here on earth are far too scattered to share a meal. I alternate Thanksgiving Day with my parents and my in-laws, this year was my parents. So it was just me, the husband, the kids, and the ‘rents. Oh joy.

As always, at least once during the day, their dogs will try to eat my kids. Now, the dogs have no teeth, are completely decrepit, and literally are all bark, but my kids don’t actually know that. This means that for the rest of the visit, my daughter will cower in the corner and cry every time the dogs come near her. My mother always blames my child for the dog going nuts too, which adds to the drama.

Then there is always a visit to the Crap Closets. You see, my mom is a hoarder. She’s downgraded quite a bit since last year, but she still hoards closets filled with random junk that she buys at discount stores. Every visit, I have to help her cull the stock. Around the holidays, I always try to grab the good stuff, i.e., items that are actually shrink-wrapped, brand name, and brand new. She always tries to dissuade me because she “could use them for someone.” Who this mysterious “someone” is, I shall never know. I’ve had my eye on a box of Kinetix for two years. It’s still there. My end goal is to make sure this crap does not wind up in my own kid’s stockings. Most of it is open, used, is missing pieces, and just odd.

Dinner this year was a scene straight out of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the bird actually steamed itself open, it was so dry. I didn’t complain, I was too busy looking around at my parents house slowly realizing that as an only child, all this crap, room after room of discount furniture, yard sale art, cheap collectibles, and consignment store stuff that they bought to fill their too-big house would be mine. There were actually fake china plates with gamboling kittens that would make Dolores Umbridge weep with envy staring at me during dinner! What the hell am I going to do with all this stuff? It’s not like the subject hasn’t come up – my mother has frequently said that if she ever gets ill, she wants me to just let her wander out into the cold woods to freeze to death (why wait til then?), so I have to plan ahead a little bit. A full day in her company certainly seems like the perfect time to estate plan.

By the time we reached dessert, where I am served my “favorite” chocolate cream pie (store-bought crust, instant pudding mix, tub of fake whipped cream), a concoction so disgusting I can barely force myself to eat it, but after almost 37 years on earth, can’t for the life of me figure out how to tell them I hate, I was ready for the exit. That was when I was hit with the piece de resistance, my daughter’s birthday present. As always, we celebrate it on Thanksgiving because it is so close to the holiday. As always, my parents bought her clothes. Usually, I am shown them beforehand and approve them. This year, I was not. This year, the box is going right back to the store. (Which store? Boscov’s of course.) Why? This year, my daughter was gifted a chocolate leopard and hot pink print shirt, with matching chocolate and rhinestone leggings. Holy shitballs Batman, she’s a mini-housewife of New Jersey! She is never putting this atrocity on her body. I honestly don’t know what makes it more offensive – the collar of sequins on the shirt or its see-through quality. For those of you who don’t see my kid on a regular basis, she normally dresses like a Mormon. She actually favors long printed dresses, or at least tunics and leggings. This is not her style. Did I mention the rhinestones on the leggings? Is she Dolly Parton now? It was just awful, from head to toe. Luckily, I was able to successfully lie to my daughter about the size of this particular garment and I can only hope that since the tags are still on it, I can get a store to take it back. Any store. Anywhere. For any price. I will pay cash money for a brand new outfit to replace this one, it’s just that bad.

Needless to say, after that debacle, we high tailed it out of there. I got one car with the kids, the crap, and the good stuffing my dad always makes extra for me. My husband got the dismantled snow blower, a gift from a gadget obsessed father-in-law who just bought the newest model. However, it was still filled with gas, requiring him to drive home with all the windows open so not to be completely overwhelmed by fumes. So while I got a quite ride home, while one kid slept and the other listed to my iPod, he got cold ears, numb fingers, and the sound of I76. Hey, at least we got a snow blower out of the deal.

Once again, I am thankful it is over. Of course, I still have Thanksgiving with his family to serve – the first one ever held at our house. We’re even cooking too, which should be entertaining. Wish me luck. The worst that could happen is that my sister-in-law could deliver my nephew in my dining room. In which case, I am definitely demanding naming rights!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hey Baby, I Think I Want To Marry You

I met my husband at a dinner party while we were both living in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photographic evidence exists to prove this happened. However, as my husband likes to remind me, I don’t remember our first meeting. He likes to claim it was because I was drunk. I like to claim it is because he excels at being a wall flower, to the point where even though there were fewer than ten people at the table and he was seated directly across from me, he was still able to make himself invisible. He counters that I was too busy flirting with a guy named Thor. I rebut that the guy was actually named Lore, was half my height, and an asshole. This is where the conversation usually runs off the rails entirely as we start making fun of the name Lore.

Ten years ago today we got married on Cape Cod (because we were living in Boston at the time). It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the weather was mild, there were still plenty of leaves on the trees, and all of my bridesmaids were hanging out in my room eating ├ęclairs, ironing their dresses, while we waited to get our hair done. My hubby-to-be was biding his time watching college football in a bar with his buddies (because, like all good VT alumni, our wedding was scheduled around the game.) There were the usual bits and bobs of drama, all of them caused by my mother, but why discuss the negative? I remember putting on my dress, with the hair, and the makeup, and the veil and the handmade flats (because I totally refused to wear heels, even on my wedding day) and feeling beautiful. I still looked like me, mind you, but I felt beautiful.

We had a Catholic mass, though I ixnayed the kneelers at the last minute. Fainting syndrome + kneeling + wedding dress = very bad idea. I even cried, which I like to blame on the copious amounts of cold medicine I was taking to get rid of the flu symptoms (I was popping Dayquil like they were M&Ms). The reception, though small, was a blast. Though we were honored to have so many friends and family attend from so many different states, our invitations landed in the mail on September 12, 2001, so many balked at traveling. The dance floor was in continuous use, the bartenders never got a rest, and I think it is very safe to say that a good time was had by all. In the bridal suite at the end of the very long night, my husband pulled 67 pins out of my hair and sniggered at my bright blue Smurf butt, the occupational hazard of wearing my something blue bridal panties. I’d love to say that we consummated our union immediately, but I was bone tired, had a throbbing headache from the aforementioned 67 pins, and figured I’d had enough sex in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; I could wait for the Caribbean. TMI alert - it was worth the wait.

So where are we ten years later? I am pleased to report we are still happy, thank you very much. We live a small town life. Every few months, we meet with the same group of friends for dinner. I go to all the small events for the kids; he joins me at the big ones. A good night involves a full DVR, a blanket, and take-out Chinese. Neither of us are high-maintenance when it comes to tokens of affection. Take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, bake some butterscotch cookies, help with the laundry, and make sure there is a big stack of magazines (for me) during Sunday night football (for him). I don’t need diamonds, he doesn’t need lingerie. We are simple people who want simple things. Love. Respect. Laughter. Sex. Sleep. A little bit of common sense when it comes to fighting (I refer to the classic Kenny Roger’s song The Gambler on this score. Know when to hold ‘em, Know when to fold ‘em) and a lot of patience when it comes to dealing with family. Having children certainly complicated matters, those damn things take up all of our time, energy, disposable income, and functioning brain cells, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We made our choice (twice) and we’ll just have to live with them, watch them grow, and try to do our best by them.

But it’s only been a decade. A mere drop in the bucket, a splash in the fountain, a bucket in the ocean of time we have left to spend together. I’m in this til death do us part and there is plenty of time left on my clock. Let’s see where the next ten years takes us, then the next ten, and then the next ten after that. It’s a long way until retirement, then enjoying our twilight years, then letting our kids take care of us for a change. Tonight, we’ll pop in the wedding video, once again explain to the crying daughter that she wasn’t there because she wasn’t born yet, and have fun reliving the first best day of our life together. But it’ll have to be early, because the game’s on at 8 and I’ve got my famous buffalo chicken dip in the fridge. It may not be the lavish week-long beach front vacation we envisioned all those years ago, but it’ll do just fine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Enough is Enough

The Duggar’s announced today that they are expecting their 20th child. As always, this was done publicly, on the Today show. Then Facebook and Twitter lit up with opinions. I have had an e-mail going back and forth across the continent with my BFF all day about it. So I thought, hell, let’s write a blog!

So, here is my completely unnecessary two cents on the matter. Ready?

Free Jinger!

In fact, let’s free all the older girls. During the interview Michelle Duggar stated that she spends an hour per day, five to six days per week, on her elliptical machine. Her youngest is not quite two. There are two more under the age of five and a grand total of seven children under the age of ten years old. She should be exhausted by running around after them. How the hell does she find an hour a day to herself? The only way she does it is by having lots of help – her kids! Those older girls are practically indentured servants. They cook, they clean, they do laundry, they teach, they pack for trips, they practically raise the younger kids themselves. In fact, I wonder how well the parents actually know each individual child. It’s more like living in a neighborhood than a family. When asked during interviews, they always speak in generalities about each kid, saying they are sweet, or kind, or fun. But those older girls, I bet they know each little kid really, really well. They are the ones raising them.

During the interview, the oldest kid (the fat, sluggish one who seems to be settling into middle age about 20 years too early) was sitting on the couch with his two little ones. It’s just such a weird family dynamic to have aunts and uncles who are YOUNGER than you are. But that is exactly what is going to happen to the newest Duggar. I am not a family planning expert, but I’m pretty sure that you shouldn’t be raising your kids concurrently with your grandkids.

To be honest, there isn’t much to complain about with the Duggar’s. They can afford each and every one of their kids. Each child appears well-mannered, intelligent, well-spoken, and educated. While their beliefs may not be my beliefs, and while their grasp of science may not be very strong (creationism, shudder!), they aren’t stupid. In fact, I think Jim Bob just plays stupid on TV. The man has made some very savvy off-camera business decisions that have kept his family clothed, fed, and housed (and his house is lovely) in a very tough economy. The medical bills alone for his youngest daughter would have bankrupted a lesser man, no matter the reality TV paychecks. Plus, he helped another family (also enormous) build a house that better fit their needs. He can’t speak a foreign language worth a damn and he seems like the dorkiest dork that ever dorked, but he’s pretty much harmless.

But let’s get down to the nitty gritty here. After 19 children, I want to know how her bladder hasn’t fallen out entirely and how her vagina isn’t wider than the Holland Tunnel. Is Jim Bob hung like a porn star? Otherwise, sex must feel like lobbing a pencil down a parkway - nothing but open space. Now I’m really not trying to be mean. This is physics. You put a bowling ball down a space mean for a golf ball often enough, it is going to stretch. There aren’t enough “husband stitches” in this world that are going to make that tight again. Yet, here they are, happily plugging away, making kid number 20. So, either they have sex like bunnies, (which again brings up the whole issue of they should be exhausted by the end of the day, not randy and ready for action), or she is literally the most fertile woman in the world and every night they have sex, they should play the lottery because their odds are that good.

So, good on you, Duggar clan. Have a safe and healthy pregnancy. But I do think it's time to hang up the stirrups and let the girls out of the house for some good old fashioned courting. There are other names in the alphabet. Let them try out some Oh, oh, oh, OHHHHHs.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tis The Season to Send Catalogs

I left my husband to a pile of mail and a football game recently. Apparently, it wasn’t a good football game but it was a very entertaining pile of mail. Upon my return home, he had one page of a magazine lovingly opened to showcase his dream buy. It was large. It was expensive. It was 18 feet tall and had “its hindquarters and tail elevated above its head in a playful stance.” It has a red a green scarf and each hoof the size of an armchair. Yes, my friends, my husband wanted to buy a two story tall inflatable reindeer.

Where did he get this idea? The Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. I can’t imagine actually buying anything out it, but it sure is fun to look through. (Yes dear, that includes the damn reindeer. I don’t need its beady little eyes staring directly into my bedroom while I sleep. Plus, it looks like it just got a proctology exam and it isn’t very happy about the results.)

If you want to spend oodles of money on absolutely ridiculous items, this is the place. Would you like a Rolling Stone Pinball Machine? It’s only $5,900 (stench of booze and used condoms not included.) How about the Stock Car Racing Simulator? For a mere $60,000 it can be yours and you won’t even have to worry about dying in a storm of fire, steel, and fumes. For the professional stargazer, there is the Observatory class telescope for $35,000. Obviously, the advanced astronomer buys one of these bad boys out of a run of the mill Christmas catalog, right?

Is a two-story inflatable not your speed? Want to go low tech and light on the wallet? Then, for the pet lover, there is the dogbrella. It’s an umbrella for a dog. You take a normal umbrella, except you put the handle on the top, so that the owner can hold it over the top of the dog. Sort of like a plunger, just really, really large. The umbrella goes on the bottom, the handle on the top, the dog under the umbrella, the owner holding the handle: wet owner, dry dog. Slightly higher tech and for the Harry Potter fan, there is the magic wand remote control. You can wingardium leviosa yourself into a carpel tunnel brace and probably poke your eye out all at the same time. Brilliant! There is also the healthy deep fryer, a contradiction in terms if I ever heard one.

Of course, there are always the basic Star Wars items. The original blueprints to the Death Star, along with the rest of the various vehicles, droids, and ships are available for your purchase. Many Bothan died to bring you that information. Use it wisely. Also available:

  • A remote controlled Millennium Falcon. (Can you fly it better than Han? Than Lando? He totally doesn’t get credit for his skills in Jedi.)

  • An R2-D2 Projection alarm clock (Since regular beeping noises aren’t bad enough, now you can get beeping and bipping in a “foreign language”)

  • An actual voice activated R2-D2 (he can play tag, but he can’t serve drinks)

  • Replica lightsabers (the description says they even hum and swoosh)

I’m not impressed, I’ve seen half of these items at the local Toys R Us, and a catalog without a Han Solo in carbonite or even a life-sized Storm Trooper isn’t worth its weight in galactic credits.

The catalog does have an intriguing assortment of what I could best describe as retro-technology. For example, you can turn your iPhone back into a standard handset telephone. Why you would want to, I have absolutely no idea. It also has totally useless baking supplies. Want the equivalent of a personal waffle maker, but for pies? They have it! Do you want heated socks? They have those too! If it is totally useless, completely novel, will only be used once, and will probably be forgotten about in the back of a closet never to be seen again, well by God, this is the catalog for you.

So, my friends, if come the holiday season, you see a reindeer the size of a house standing in my yard, looking like it got The Shocker, please know that my revenge will be swift but deadly. Because buried in the back of the pages, almost unseen, but definitely not unheard, is the Thunderclap Alarm Clock. At 113 decibels, with three flashing LEDs, with a vibrating pad for under the mattress, I’m pretty sure that when that thing goes off, you don’t just get out of bed, you go through the roof. That will be the punishment for the reindeer. I’ll make sure the kids are up first. And for those pesky little BIL’s who are thinking they can get away with an “inflate and run”, thinking impending aunt-hood will get them off, think again. Now I have an alarm clock. Ho! Ho! Ho!