QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR MORE): "No, no. You don't understand. This is an '89 Calico. I'm pretty sure that exceeds the Kelly Blue Book value. The cat's totaled." --A comedian whose name I forget talking about a vet who presents a $3,000 bill for a 12-year-old cat

Friday, September 25, 2009

Caution: homework may be hazardous

Scene: Sitting in the car on the driveway at home with the 13-year-old, waiting for the 11-year-old to come out and get in so we can drive to school.
13-year-old: (aghast) Ya know, I just realized I haven't watched tv in, like, a month!
me: (delighted) Well that's good!
13-year-old: (disgusted that homework and sports have kept him from tv) No it's not. I feel like my brain is turning to mush!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This post is about fruit flies

Having a predilection for both bananas and red wine, the husband and I tend to attract fruit flies every year at this time. Well... our house does.

We pull out all the stops to get red of the pesky varmints, who delight in flying close to my face and then whizzing off just before I clap my hands together to end his pathetic life. Or hers. I don't want to be sexist.

When we first started having this problem, I did what any educated, intelligent person would do to ameliorate the problem. I googled.

Ye old wise internet counseled me to set about, as traps for the fruit flies, glasses of wine or vinegar covered with plastic wrap with a few tiny holes punctured in the top. It's also necessary, to thwart their breeding, to get rid of the fruit (duh). We therefore placed the bananas in the refrigerator. Cold bananas suck, don't they?

We placed said glasses throughout the downstairs, each filled with a bit of wine to attract and trap the delinquent invertebrates.

The husband wandered around, a dejected look on his face: "what a waste of good wine," he lamented.
Meanwhile, the 13-year-old, ever the recent star of this blog, questioned: "why are we trying to catch fruit flies?"
"So we can kill them," I brilliantly responded.
He considered the fatuous nature of his question immediately, and tried to save face: "I'm not buying it."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who's on first?

The 13-year-old was doing some last-minute studying for his French quiz on the way to school this morning....

13-year-old: "Mom, what does 'quoi' mean?"

me: "what."

13-year-old: "quoi."

me: "what."

13-year-old: "Quoi, Mom..."

me: "It means 'what,' son."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Huh? and yahoo!

me: "Buddy, is your seatbelt on?"

13-year-old: "no."

me: "Put your seatbelt on!"

13-year-old: "It is on!"


(photo from the Philly Distance Run official website)

In other news, the weather for the Philadelphia Distance Run (1/2 marathon) yesterday was GORGEOUS! 54 degrees at the start, ideal for running. Our own American Ryan Hall won it, outpacing 3 Kenyans, and I, myself, came in with a new Personal Record! 1:44:44 (7:52 minute/mile pace). yahoo!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's a mad, mad world

I live with an insane asylum bunch of looneys (no offense to anyone there... not that there's anything wrong with that...).

I have an 11-year-old who loves to make up his own complex math problems and give them to me for "fun."
"Hey, Mom. Here. Try this math puzzle I made up."
"Buddy," I say. "You know how you find math fun?"
"I don't."

I have a dog whose purpose in life is to shed as much hair as humanly possible, well as caninely possible. She does quite an admirable job fulfilling that purpose, too.

Then this morning... I call in my chipper morning voice (a rare thing) to the 13-year-old, still upstairs getting himself moving before school.
"Dude!" I yell (in a chipper sweet voice, of course). "Are you up and dressed?!"
"Would you like a hamburger?" he answers.

You see what I'm dealing with? See what I'm up against?

On top of all that, get this. My cat loves ear wax. Yeah, no. I'm not kidding. She lives for it. Craves it. Goes nuts for it. Catnip? It's nuthin'. Wait for it.... wait for it... yeah. Earwax. Look. I can prove it. Here (below) she pillages the bathroom trash can for a Q-tip like a homeless person looking through a trash can (no offense to those of you who are homeless). She's nuts. Maybe that's why she pukes all the time?

So she doesn't mind eating the earwax, but God forbid it get all over her pristine paws.

Me? I'm completely normal. What? I am. Really.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Uh.. what kind of dog do you have?

I went to pick up the gas-guzzling, eco-conscious Expedition from Dr. Detail yesterday. Before I walked in, I took a quick look at it. Wow. I don't know how, but the dog hair? Gone. It smelled... clean.

(above: the Perpetrator)

The manager saw me looking at it and waved me inside. I walked inside to pay for it. He looked at me for a moment. Then he said, and I quote exactly:

"Uh. What kind of dog do you have?"

After I stopped laughing, I explained that she is a German Shepherd, the breed of dog which sheds most profusely, year-round.

I asked him what his secret was- told him my shop vac didn't even begin to suck those hairs out of the carpet fiber of the back of the truck.
He said if he told me he'd have to kill me. wink wink.
As if on cue, one of the employees then walked in.
"Wow!" he exclaimed, a big smile on his face, "we filled up an entire industrial shop vac with all that dog hair!"

Moments later, another employee entered. He didn't miss a beat.

"Holy cow, man," he told me, "we filled up a whole shop vac with your dog's hair..."
After I stopped laughing again, I asked for a discount for the dog hair. After all, they could use it... to um.. stuff pillows. I made a donation.

For the next, oh... 3 days? The truck is free of dog hair. Maybe Soph will have to stay home from now on...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Moms are from earth; kids are from mars

Okay... so... the Expedition, our eco-friendly gas guzzler, really smells. It's the vehicle most used for transporting Sophie the German Shepherd and sweaty boys to and from soccer practice and games. The husband and I, frequent passengers in the truck, didn't realize our vehicle had an odor problem. We were, um... used to it. So we were rather surprised when, a couple of weeks ago, my brother and sister in law climbed into the back to accompany us to dinner.

"Hmm," they whined. "Um... kinda has a dog smell to it, guys."

"Really?" we questioned. We really did question. This was news to us.

Well, Sophie is a dog. Sophie is a dog who sheds. Sophie is a dog who sheds more than all of the dogs on our street put together. Sophie sheds. a lot.

No problem, I think. I'll just vacuum out the back of the Ford and give it a good cleaning.

"Ha!" said the loose dog hairs in the back of the truck. "We cannot be sucked up by a shop vac, you foolish girl." And then it laughed, an evil, sardonic, bone-tingling laugh. "We will never leave... NEVER!!!" And dangit if the dog hairs aren't right. They're very happy where they are, stuck in the fibers of the carpeting in the back of the Expedition.

So I did what any self-respecting, busy mom with 2 kids and a full-time job would do. I made an appointment at Dr. Detail. I gave in. I threw in the towel. "You guys handle this," I said. They assure me that they can handle dog smells and German Shepherd hair.

Now... I told you that story to make this observation.

The husband and I arose earlier than usual this morning, not easy for non-morning folks, to take the truck to Dr. Detail. The plan was for the husband to give me a ride home, and then for me to get the kids to school. Before we left for Dr. Detail, we woke up the urchins and got them going.

"Be ready to go so that, when I get back, we can leave for school right away, k guys?"


"k guys?"


Now it becomes a matter of semantics. My definition of ready and the boys' definition of ready:

My definition:

- breakfast eaten

- teeth brushed

- lunch taken out of refrigerator and placed in backpack

- shoes on

Is that a lot to ask? Does that make sense?

The boys' definition:

- No shoes on- in fact, not even attempt to locate where they might be

- lunch still in the fridge

- teeth not yet brushed

- TV on

Speaking of TV, last night we were exhibiting fabulous parenting skills, sitting in front of the TV with the 13-year-old. I was googling on the laptop while the husband was flipping channels, as men are wont to do. The 13-year-old was trying to follow what was on TV: "Wait, Dad," he asked confusedly, "what happened to that guy?"

"Oh, buddy," I explained, "are you not yet aware of the malehood more that prohibits any man from watching a channel for more than 5 minutes? That guy is still on the other channel, bud."

This man is not my husband, but does provide a fine example...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Time machine

The scene: Our drive to school this morning

me: Hey, buddy... ya know... your hair really looks better combed to the side,

rather than all down over your eyes and face like a mop.

13-year-old: whatever. Maybe in the 60s, Mom.

me: I wasn't even alive in the 60s!

13-year-old: whatever.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The low down on the down low

Today was the first day of school for the urchins!!!

WAHOOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

whew. excuse me. ahem. Just had to get that outta my system.

where was I?

Oh... today the boys went back to school!!!!!

Even better, though, than having the whole house to myself today, in blessed, uninterrupted peace, enjoying the complete and total quiet around here... even better was the report I received when I picked up the urchins from school.

Yes sirree, bob. The reason I work from home is so that I can pick up the boys from school each day to hear how their days went. It's the highlight of my day. Okay. That's a lie, I admit it. The highlight is dropping them off at school. After that might come a glass of wine around 5 0'clock.... but picking up the boys is in the top 10, I'm sure...

And why? Because boys are just so darn loquacious. Today, the very first day of school, a day during which, no less, the 13-year-old started his first day at the top of the middle school totem pole as a big 8th grader... and the 11-year-old started his first day in middle school. Big day. Enormous. Momentous. Today was just like the other days I pick up the loquacious urchins from school:

me: "HEY, guys!!!! How was your FIRST DAY!!!?????" I ask enthusiastically.

13-year-old: "good."

me: "good? GOOD!!!!"

me: "what else? Tell me all about it! I wanna know everything!!!"

11-year-old: "It was good."

me: "Oh c'mon! Gimme more than that. You spent 7 [beautifully serene] hours away from your mom! What did you do?"

13-year-old: "Not much."

11-year-old: "Nothing."

me: "Okay, guys. Tell you what. I'll make a deal with you. You tell me everything there is to know about your first day of school today and we'll go to Dairy Queen and get blizzards... medium-sized blizzards."

13-year-old: "You mean after the orthodontist appointment that I have right now?"

me: "oops! That's right! You do have an orthodontist appointment right now. Yup.. so after the orthodontist...."

(Minutes later at the orthodontist's office. 13-year-old has been seen and returned to the waiting room. 11-year-old has usurped my blackberry to play Brickbreaker while he was waiting. The waiting room is full to the brim with snot-nosed, adolescent, metal mouths and their moms.)

receptionist: "Ma'am? Did you want to make your son's next appointment?"

me: "oh yeah. heh heh." (I walk up to the desk, soon realizing I don't have my blackberry to see my calendar or make the appointment).

me: "uh, hey, buddy... I need my blackberry to make the appointment."

The people in the waiting room apparently think this is humorous.

11-year-old: "aw, Mom.... can you wait until I die?" as he expertly maneuvers the click wheel to play brickbreaker.

Prodigious smiles are now on the faces of the people of the waiting room. Tension mounts. All heads turn toward me.

me: "heh heh. Very funny, buddy. No. I need it now."

The entire waiting room now looks as if a tennis match is ensuing in the middle of the orthodontist's reception area. They are looking back and forth at me and my son to see how I will handle this. They are judging me, I know it. Tension mounts further. There are smiles (or snickers?) on many faces.

11-year-old: "come on, Mom; I'm doing really well."

All faces turn to me.

me: "heh heh. I'm proud of your brickbreaker skills and your use of an adverb to describe how your doing, love, but really.... I need it now."

All faces turn to him.

11-year-old: "You really can't wait until I die?"

All faces turn to me.

me: I clear my throat and say: "ahem." I give him the evil eye, the one that says: "I will kill you. You will not see your next birthday." You know the one; I know you do.

He stands up and hands me the blackberry. There is a palpable sigh of relief.

End of orthodontist tangent and back to "what did you do today?" main thread:

2 medium Dairy Queen blizzards bought me all kinds of information.

me: "So, buddy," I ask the 13-year-old 8th grader, "was it pretty cool being the big man on campus this year?"

13-year-old smiles slightly: "yeah it's pretty fun."

I extracted quite a bit of information about his teachers and classes this year. The trick is:

1) Bribe with Dairy Queen blizzards

2) Ask detailed questions

Here, as a point of illustration, are your basic dos and don'ts of picking up urchins from school if you really want to extract information:

Don't do this. It just doesn't work. (unless you have a girl. Girls tell all).

Instead, do this:

You could also ask: "you didn't trade your organic lunch with anyone for a product that contains hydrogenated oils, did you?"

Among my favorite pearls of information from my interrogation of the 11-year-old, though, was in response to my question about what the rules were for middle school this year.

"Oh," he said. "yeah. We're not allowed to put each other in the lockers, even though we would fit."

Peace at last

Shhh. Listen. Can you hear them?


I can't either! :)

They're in school! They're in school! They're in school!!!!!!!


okay. okay. decorum. clearing my throat here.... Calm.

Gosh. I can focus and concentrate now.

No one's humming.

No one's singing.

No one's complaining that I don't buy food with hydrogenated oils (or even partially hydrogenated).

No one's fighting.

No one's complaining about sunscreen application.

No one's telling me he's bored.

No one is bugging the dog.

No one comes to me with something very important as soon as I get on the phone.

No one's telling me I am so behind the times with the kids' haircuts I prefer.

No one's telling me he has no clean t-shirts (yeah, right. Did you search through the pile at the bottom of your closet?)

No one's not brushing his teeth

No one's shooting plastic bottles 50 feet up into the air.

No one's coming in and then going back out... and then coming in again. And then going back out. And then coming in ... and leaving the door wide open while the AC's on... and then going back out.

No one's bike is broken.

No one's not taking the dog for a walk.
No one's leaving his shoes in the middle of the room.

"Mom," the 13-year-old said to me last week, "I'm kinda ready to go back to school."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

They're paying me for this?

Hey, y'all!

I'm officially a paid writer!

Check out my new Endurance Training column for the online Baltimore Examiner!

I'll forewarn you; it's a boring article. I have to get to know what I can do and can't do before I can spice it up.... In the meantime, if you're having trouble sleeping, click on the link! :)
Back to your regularly scheduled blog later this week....

Saturday, September 5, 2009

So it's a gender thing...

My brother and sister in law arrived yesterday. I had just returned from a run.

I showered, blew dry my hair, and rejoined the group.

"You got your hair cut!" remarked my brilliant sister in law.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

No brownie points here...

13-year-old: "Mom, do you know what period of time the largest mass extinction was? It lasted for 500,000 years and was before the dinosaurs existed. 96% of all life on earth was wiped out, including plants. There were no plants, mammals, nothing... It was like... global warming to the max."

me: "Buddy, have you been watching that trashy Discovery channel again? Don't you have video games to play?"

On another note... yesterday I got a much needed haircut at last. It had gotten pretty long... to the point where my mom would say to me, quite subtly, " My, your hair is long." The husband, too, would say: "huh. Your hair's getting pretty long." So I finally got a haircut. It's a drastic difference to me - the cut where you go to wash your hair afterward and you're like... hey - where's my hair? And it's all healthy and full... I must admit it looks better.

But I digress. My point is that she cut, like, 5 inches off. I got home and stood in front of my kids, surreptitiously modeling my new doo.
"We're hungry, Mom," they whined.

"mmm hmmm," I acknowledged, staring at the urchins.

"Seriously, Mom. There's nothing to eat here." (translation - we're out of donuts).

"okay, hellloooo boys. Notice anything?"

"Um. ... nope."

"I got my hair cut!"

"Oh - ok. hey - I'm hungry."

Fast forward to hours later as the husband arrived home. He walks in the door. I stare at him (in a friendly manner, of course, after having vacuumed and put on lipstick. KIDDING!).

"Hey, hon," I greet him.

"Hey there," he responds, looking at me.

nada. zilch. zippo. no reaction.

Nobody noticed my haircut. And folks, the difference is drastic. Look:
Demerits for the entire family. No brownie points here whatsoever. What does Richard Gere say in Pretty Woman? "I'm gonna need LOTS of sucking up here... LOTS of sucking up...."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Junk food is good for you

I've had the best runs this week! I can identify 2 factors which have been different:

1- I've switched to margaritas for happy hour rather than vodka/tonics
2- I've been eating Cheetos

whaddya think? I think Cheetos + margaritas = extra carbs?!

Well... and the weather's been cooler....

On another note... big thanks for Vivienne at The V Spot for my nifty award. I'm passing it along to A Reservation for Six and Mental Poo, the first because she's been absentee, and the second because I know Moog will have something very clever to say about the award. I can't remember what the rules are; be a rebel and do what you wish!

Also, thanks so Maggie at Sitting on the Mood Swing; I won a book on her site! Yippee!

off to consume more Cheetos...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Yes, folks, it's back to school time. Cue the music and the staples commercial... It's the most..wonderful time... of the year..."

I took the 11-year-old with me to Staples to get school supplies last week and, unable to restrain myself, I broke out into song and skipped along the aisles joyously with my cart. The 11-year-old was utterly horrified (I had such sympathy for him) and exhorted me to stop IMMEDIATELY. Isn't THAT paradoxical... my 11-year-old desired that I stop a certain behavior... Rather than stoop to his level and continuing my annoying display (subjectively annoying, of course), I stopped at his request (I thought that was big of me).

I know some of you moms (and dads) out there are genuinely sad that your little ones are going off to school again for the season... boarding the big yellow school bus... off to a wide world of learning and education and outside influences... and frankly, I don't understand you. You must not have two boys two years apart who make noise constantly. There were some that cried when their kids went off to kindergarten, taking pictures as the bus pulled away. Me? I drop kicked the boys into the school building. Ciao, boys. Have fun storming the castle...

Every time I drop off my boys at school, I do a little dance. After all, they'll be out of my hair for an entire, blessed 7 hours. Gosh, whatever will I do with all that peace and quiet? What will go through my head when my 13-year-old isn't constantly singing or humming to himself (he is singing right now as I type and tapping a plastic puzzle piece incessantly against the table) Whose fights will I break up? For whom will I try in vain to come up with a creative and fun activity to keep him entertained? Who will whine to me? Who will I admonish not to DO THAT TO THE DOG!? Who will tell me he is bored? Who will tell me he doesn't want peanut butter and jelly for lunch? At whom will I yell to turn off the tv? Who will I discipline to play nicely, not call his brother names? Whose mouth will I threaten to wash out with soap? Whose iTouch will I confiscate? Yes, I'm just heartbroken that school is almost back in session.

Alas, my two aren't yet back in school. We start - I mean they start- the day after Labor Day. The boys have one final week before school starts and my precious freedom is returned to me through the blessing of education.

And then... it will be quiet around the house. Too quiet. Eerily quiet. And they will be learning even more because already they know more than I do, of course....