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, October 30, 2009

Costumes of kids whose parents have waaaay too much time on their hands...

The boys' school hosts a cut-throat, ultra-competitive fun Halloween parade each year. Each of the grades parades around the gym exactly two times while they are judged by unbiased administrators, and the winners in each grade are awarded.... a candy bar. This event is extremely well attended by parents who want to get a jump on next year's competition see their cute little ones parade around the gym. This year's parade offered no exception, perfectly exemplifying that some kids' parents have just way too much time on their hands.

Take a look...

Ya can't buy that in a store, can you?

Look - an entire Peter Pan cast + boat

check out the spookey homemade haunted houses
and the parrot....
It's a Maryland crab theme...complete with a mallet and Old Bay seasoning
For this one I took a video - this is a "costume" of the poor teacher who patrols traffic in the morning as parents are dropping their kids off at school and again in the afternoon when parents return to pick up their kids. Cell phones are strictly prohibited....
And then there are my parental-creativity-deprived kids...


and... um.... ?

These 2 just cracked me up....

that's a boy in those red high-heeled boots.
Happy Halloween, all! ;)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tardiness and Bleachers

Today I have, up for discussion, two completely unrelated items. Let's begin.

1. I don't know why it's taken me 22 years to figure this out (current age - 16 = # of years driving), but I'm a genius. Folks, ever been in your car on the way to a destination, and you're late? When you're late, you hit EVERY RED LIGHT, n'est-ce pas? Of course this has happened to you!

Now... same setting. In your car. But not late. Wanting to reply to an email on your iPhone or Blackberry or need some lipstick at the next red light. Can't get a red light to save your life, can you?

Duh... what a simple solution! The next time you're running late in your car and getting stopped frequently at red lights, simply start fumbling through your purse for a tube of lipstick to apply or start typing a reply to an email or text message during the red light. voila! No more red light. God I'm smart. Problem solved.

2. Yesterday I went to the 13-year-old's final soccer game (which they won, making their record for the year 8-0!). The game was an away game, which meant I had to schlep across town 45 minutes to an unfamiliar school's campus. I've brought Sophie to all of the home and away soccer games, because (a) generally there is an abundance of open space and grass at suburban middle school soccer fields (b) it's good for her to be social - she's extremely friendly and all the kids love her and (c) if I leave her home she eats the house. yeah. chews on the moulding. Not a good thing when one is trying to sell one's house, or really at any other time. Makes for a grumpy husband, to say the least. We now leave her in her crate if we can't take her with us during the day, and I hate to think of her cooped up for hours in a crate.

Anyway, when I arrived at the away game middle school, I noticed a distinct dearth of open space and greenery. This school had really impressive, high-rising metal bleachers towering over the soccer field instead. Sophie has no problem with stairs, so I toted her along and sat down with her in the bleachers among my fellow soccer moms and dads (of whom there was an increased presence because of its having been the last game).

Now - the above picture is not Sophie, which is fairly obvious because the owner of the pictured dog had the common sense to have the dog on a leash, while Sophie's mom does not, often.

Like the perfect dog she is (except for eating the house), Sophie snoozed on the floor of the bleachers next to me almost the entire game. She rose once to greet the husband when he arrived, then plopped back down. She did rearrange herself periodically, which prompted me to remove her leash to make it easier for her.

In the last 10 minutes or so of the game, she stood up and just casually began walking laterally down the aisle a bit. I got up to guide her back toward me but couldn't really figure out how to turn her around without (a) picking her up and turning her around (b) leading her all the way up to the top of the bleachers and back down or (c) leading her down one step to turn around and then ostensibly back up in the other direction.

I chose C.

Can you hear the loud buzzer?
As I tried to lead her down one step, she slipped, thereby causing her claws to scrape loudly against the metal bleachers, thus freaking her out completely. She went into full panic mode, scrambling on the metal bleachers, her claws deafeningly loud against the bleachers, which only made matters worse. She wanted OFF of the bleachers (from 3/4 of the way up to the top) and she wanted off NOW. I tried to contain her, but a fully panicked, full grown German Shepherd determined to leave the immediate vicinity is not easy to contain. I grabbed her, picked her up and held her as tightly as I could against my body on the bleachers as best as I could. She was violently, visibly shaking from head to toe in fear of the evil bleachers.
"Oh my gosh," the folks in the crowd (90% of whom I knew well) observed, "look at the dog shaking! "
"What a scaredy German Shepherd."
"Poor thing."
The husband, noticing the commotion, asked as I tried desperately to keep her from bolting, while half perched on a bleacher stair, teetering back and forth with her weight: "hey - do you want me to come get her?"
well, yeah.
The knight in shining armor swooped down, picked up the frenzied, hysterical, 65-pound German Shepherd, and carried her to the safety of the flat cement above. She was exhausted. She lay down immediately and cowered in the comfort of the flat non-metal land. I was horribly embarrassed.
When all had settled down and the focus had returned to the soccer game, one of my friends chided: "hey - nice hearts," which referred to my underwear which, unbeknownst to me at the time, so tactfully stuck out of my low-rise jeans while I was holding the horrified dog.
I had to wear the underwear with the hearts.
Just to preserve her canine dignity, here she is captured on video being quite ferocious. I think there's a cat passing by in the front yard or something...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thanks.... wait a minute...

I just received this email from one of the Indonesian customers with whom I met at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany recently:
"Dear funnyrunner,

Thank you for your email of 23rd October 2009 regarding the result of the meeting with you during last Frankfurt Book Fair. It is always nice to see you once a year..."
I guess they can't take much more of me...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Boys will be, well... boys

The high school applications process continues, folks.
Last weekend, the husband, the 2 boys and I schlepped to 3 high school Open Houses (one after the other after the other), dog and pony shows wherein one is ushered around the high school campus and filled with information from its administrators, student guides, and parent volunteers about all things good about the school .
I think I was more tired at the end of the day than I was after a marathon.
At one particular Catholic school, the student guide led us into the school's beautiful, college-esqe library, where we were enthusiastically greeted by two parent volunteers - moms of current students. While our sophomore student guide proceeded with my son, the husband and I got waylaid into a conversation with these two moms about laptops in the library.
"They don't allow the students to use laptops in the library during free time," one mom explained.
The other mom chimed in: "Yeah. You know... they're adolescent boys. You just don't know what they'll be up to on the internet."
The husband and I nodded, thanked the parent volunteers, and walked a few steps from the two women. When we were far enough away, we muttered in stereo without even a glance toward each other: "porn."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I DID IT !!!!

I did it I did it I did it I did it!!!!

I did it, y'all!!!

I qualifed for the Boston marathon! My time was 3:41 (previous personal best was 3:50) and I needed a 3:45!!!


A day and a half after flying home from a business trip to Germany, on a morning which was rainy, windy, and cold, I qualified!

If you need to get a hold of me I shall be on cloud 9 for awhile.

Big thanks to the husband who, notwithstanding his personal loathing of running in general and aversion to being outside on cold, rainy days, he met me at mile 23 and ran with me to the finish. (awwwww). Thanks to my brother and sister in law, too, who diverted their normal travel plans to come stand in the rain and cheer me on through miles 3 and 13. Thanks to the 13-year-old who could have stayed home with his grandparents but came to watch his mom. sniff sniff.

funny blog today, huh? more tomorrow on the funny parts of the marathon....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tomorrow's marathon forecast...

Snow and high winds at the start (38 degrees)... turning into monsoon-like winds and driving rain.
Sounds fun, huh?
What a great marathon day I've chosen for my Boston qualification attempt!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Latka is our carpet cleaner

(Note to the reader. Today's post was constructed inbetween projects and tasks readying our house to go on the market. As the writer is OCD and anal retentive [can I - I mean one- be both?] about completing tasks/projects she has begun, the writer would like lots of pats on the back for pausing from her house-cleaning-out frenzy to write about Latka. Thanks.)

We found the perfect carpet cleaner way back when we first moved into our house 11 years ago. Okay...well the carpets weren't dirty yet when we first moved in. So we probably found him 10 years ago to help purge the stains and regular traffic dirt from the carpets caused by 1 and 3 year old boys. I still remember the first day he came. From Bulgaria, he introduced himself with a thick accent and arrived at our front door, politely toting a massive notebook. He liked to talk. A lot. With his thick Bulgarian accent. He was proud. Very proud.

We invited him in to show him the areas where our babies had spit up orange carrots and green peas (different blog), where juice cups had spilled notwithstanding our steadfast keep-it-in-the-kitchen rule, and where we had tracked in dirt with our shoes.

"It is not a problem!" he proudly declared. To show us just how not a problem it was, he opened his prodigious notebook, which proved to be a repository for all nice things ever said about him and his carpet cleaning business. Just seeing the dauntingly large notebook was enough to convince us; he had us at "it is not a problem." It was not enough for him, though. He showed us, despite the resistance which surely showed on our faces, every page of his accolades. Every before and after picture. Every word of praise for his miraculous cleansing of carpets. It took a long time. Each displayed picture was accompanied by a thickly Bulgarian-accented description of the people who owned the carpets photographed. He was fond of his clients, and they of him, ostensibly.

When he finally began the actual carpet cleaning, the husband and I huddled out of his hearing range in a different room.

"Oh my God," the husband mused. "He looks and sounds exactly like Latka from Taxi!"

"Oh my God," I agreed. "He totally does!"

When Latka left, he gave us pointers on how to preserve the carpet's cleanliness.

"You are not wearing of the shoes on the carpet," he lectured. "Most of the dirt of the carpet comes when wearing of the shoes on it." We nodded vigorously, not about to argue with the accent.

From then on, we have always referred to him fondly as Latka, so much so that I sometimes forget his real name. When our carpets are in need of their annual cleaning, we say: "time to call Latka."

Throughout the years when Latka has come to purge our carpets of their stains and dirt, he always brings the notebook. It seems he must convince us every year that he is worthy.

Last week was no exception. Latka entered my house. I put out my hand to shake his. He lurched toward me and gave me a bear hug. "How you are doing?!" he asked excitedly. "You are not wearing of the shoes on the carpet, yes?"

I swore I was not, but that the boys didn't always listen.

He proceeded to my kitchen and put down his heavy notebook. I rolled my eyes to myself.

"Oh, I know how good you are," I said as convincingly as I could muster, "I have seen your miracles with my own eyes."

"Oh," he laughed, "no. no. This is new here. Come look at the papers. You listen of the Angie's list?"

"Oh - yes!" I lied. I have never heard of Angie's list.

"See all of the people who recommend of me to the Angie's list? Look! They talk good things on me. You see the stars the people give to me?"

"Oh wow," I replied. "I am not surprised at all. You do a fabulous job."

He stopped, smiled a very proud smile, and put his chin in the air.

I thought perhaps that did it. I was wrong. He continued to turn the pages of his notebook.

"It is funny," he shared with me. "I do not know the people who write these stars. The name of the people are not here."

After awhile, Latka finally went to get started. He did the 11-year-old's room and came downstairs to talk to me.

"I finished from the one room," he announced. He narrowed his eyes and looked at me with a frown. "You see the stain on the carpet that was there to the door?"

"Oh," I reacted. "You couldn't get it, huh?"

He burst into an ebulliant grin. "It is gone," he told me. "The spot to the window?"

"Ah," I played along. "Too tough to get it out?"

"It is not here," he assured me.

With that, he went outside for his first of 10 "coffee" breaks, during each of which he spoke on his cell phone and smoked a cigarette.

When the husband arrived home from work, Latka was still there. We were in the home stretch. I was hoping he could finish so we could leave for an appointment, so I didn't want to start any new conversations.

The husband greeted him: "Hey there! Good to see you! How are you?"

Latka put his chin up and grinned. "I am fine," he answered.

"Great!" said the husband. "And how is your daughter doing?"


"Oh. You are nice so to ask. She is to ABC school and she is artist. She is so good from the drawings!"

"Wow; that's great," we said.

"Wait. You wait here. I go to see I have of a picture."

I shot the husband the look of death. He shrugged helplessly.

Latka bounced back, returning with a Christmas card whose cover was adorned with a pencil drawing of the virgin Mary and baby Jesus. It was pretty good.

"She win of the contest for the picture to Christmas," he boasted.

"Wow," I said. "It's terrific. Does she draw animals? I'd love to have a sketch of Sophie."

Latka didn't hesitate. He pulled out his cell phone, dialed his daughter, and gave the cell phone to me to talk to her. After an uncomfortable conversation, I returned Latka's phone to him as he finished the last room.

As he was leaving, he admonished us: "No wear of the shoes on the carpet!"

"Oh," the husband chuckled. "We don't; it's the kids!"

"Yes," said Latka, "that is the thing the people they all say."

And with that, he was gone.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hello? Anyone there?

Tap Tap Tap Tap.
Anyone still out there in blogland?
I am hereby certifiably the worst blog reader friend in the blogosphere. Not only have I not been blogging (with no paucity of material, either), but I haven't read any blogs. I'm so sorry, y'all.
I get in that crazy mode when life gets busy. It feels like I'm all hyped up on caffeine and I must accomplish 300 things at once every minute. I have no time to chat on the phone, let alone blog. I'm a bad, bad blogger. Guilt. guilt. guilt.
I can explain. Want a list?
- We've just unexpectedly bought our dream house. It fell into our laps and we jumped. This has led to all sorts of unplanned things that take up lots of time, such as the ho hum task of getting our house all cleaned out and ready to go on the market (hey - anyone looking for a house in the Baltimore area?). Yesterday I put out 9 (N I N E) huge trash bags of stuff for Purple Heart to pick up and take away from me... Remember over the summer (or was it spring break?) when the boys cleaned out their rooms? That was nothing. nada. zilch. zippo. I have cleaned out the basement. The finished part. The unfinished part. I have sold Tonka trucks. A plethora of Legos. I am selling a piano. I have filled bags with useless toys and puzzles my boys have outgrown. I have cleaned out the 11-year-old's room. With him. There were tears. There was yelling. But it's done. I have much more to do...
- We have been working on high school applications for the 13-year-old. It's time consuming and a lot of work. This is simultaneous with the house stuff.
- I have a full-time job. yup.
- I haven't written any articles for Examiner.com, and I feel guilty about that, too. Especially since it's MARATHON SEASON!!! wahoo! excuse me. sorry about that.
- Speaking of which, I have been training for the marathon that's on October 18th! Almost there. Can't skimp on the training now!
- I have a business trip to Germany next week which takes A LOT of preparation. Days of it.
ARRRGGHHHHH! again. k. excuse me. I'm even drinking decaf coffee.
So... since I'll be on a plane to Europe on Monday with 9 hours of peace and quiet, I thought I'd revisit some pointers for long flights.
Long flights ROCK. They are THE BOMB. (but only if your kids aren't with you). It's hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet. Except when the captain breaks in to announce that he's turned off the fasten seatbelt sign. No s**t, really? Thanks for that. Oh - and when they interrupt the MOVIE to announce a special CREDIT CARD DEAL. Yes - that happened to me on the way home from China once. Advertising is both ubiquitous and obnoxious these days.
Anyway. I digress. How surprising.
To make the most of your hours of peace and quiet on a long flight, you must follow these guidelines.
1. Under absolutely NO circumstances do you make friends with the person (or people, God forbid) sitting next to you. He or she may SEEM friendly at first, but inevitably on a 9-hour flight s/he will want to chat when you don't. Don't get started. You can nod or say a quiet "hi" but that's it. Don't ask where they're from, where or why they're going. You just don't care. This is me time, people. It's all about you.
2. If the person next to you persists in trying to be friendly, employ one of these strategies:
- Take out a book and pretend to read. Or you can really read, of course.
- Put on headphones.
- Take out a laptop
If the person overlooks any of these strategies or sees them for the farces they are (and this has happened to me), you DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH.
Or... you can't hear very well if at all. It's a last resort, but some people are annoyingly tenacious.
- For overnight flights to Europe, I highly recommend a glass or two of wine followed by a Sonata sleeping pill. What? We're here already? Geez. And I was just starting to enjoy the "me" time.
Ciao, y'all.
I don't know when I'll see you again. But I'm here. I'm trying.
Oh, hey. Before you go.
Any recommendations for inspirational tunes for my marathon playlist? Don't tell me Rocky theme music. It's corny and I already have it. Music to hype me up and kick my own butt? Warrior stance stuff? You can do it kind of tunes? Don't give up kind of stuff? Recommendations for your blog-absent friend?