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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This takes the cake... or White trash baby shower... you choose

Someone I know knows someone who went to a baby shower recently which featured the above cake. (P.S. the mommy to be is not African American...)
interesting, huh?
comments? bring 'em on....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Diamonds? No. Carrots are the hardest substance on earth

It's official. The husband, the 13-year-old, the 11-year-old, Sophie the dog and Katie the cat and I are homeless. All together. In one little budget hotel suite. Yup. One big happy family, inclusive of furry members. Here we all are... until the middle of next week.

The move out went surprisingly well; it was quite painless - quite the difference from when we moved in the house out of which we just moved - all by ourselves. This time I started way ahead of time, packed all of our own boxes (weeding out unwanteds along the way), and pulled up a lawn chair as the four hardworking guys evacuated my house of all of our earthly belongings. Well, believe that if you will.

The fourth guy did a great job of emptying our refrigerator, coming back often for sustaining snacks. It was very nice of him to purge the fridge for us. By the end of the 12-hour move out I think it was pretty much free and clear of food.

So.... everything we own is in storage, and here we sit in the hotel. With our furry friends. Just thought I'd make sure you knew that.

The first night here we tried putting Sophie in her crate to make it just like home for her. At 1 am she stirred and barked, thereby waking me up from a deep slumber, a much desired deep slumber after 2 nights of having had very little sleep. I ignored her and she stopped barking, but the stirring... the stirring did not stop. Her long claws scraped the bottom of the crate almost exactly every half hour. In addition to the regular stirring/scraping, there was an odd, irregular noise above me somewhere, unidentifiable yet irregularly irritating.

6:40 am rolled around lickety-split, and dutifully I arose to take the scraper out to go potty. I put her leash on and walked out into the hotel's hallway with her. She broke into a run, nose to the floor, dragging me helplessly along with her. Abruptly she stopped and let the diarrhea flow... right onto the carpet in the middle of the hotel hallway.

No!!! my soul protested. It didn't matter. As quickly as I possibly could, I thrust the Target bag (aka poop scooper) under her rear end to catch as much of the runny matter as possible. I didn't have time to open the bag, just caught as much as I could in a pool on the side of it.

Just like that, she was finished.

Ahhhh, you could see her relief.

I was now in the middle of a hotel hallway, poop (well, the liquid version) in hand and under foot, dog leash (attached to dog) in the other hand.

Now what?

I quickly prayed no one else would venture down the hallway, and I sprinted, with the dog, back to the room. As I cleaned up the mess in the hallway, I realized how intelligent these hotel designers (who foolishly allow pets) were, making the hallway carpets (and the room carpets) the exact color of poop. Go figure.

Past that drama, I thought I'd make it more homey here in our hotel room and make a crock pot lentil soup for tonight. It turned out okay, but I think my hands will be sore tomorrow after trying to chop onions, celery and carrots with the Walmart serrated knife that's in the hotel room drawer- the only knife allotted to us here. I settled for much bigger chunks than usual, and the family would just have to suck it up.

My 11-year-old, home sick from school, observed my challenging task and heard my complaints. He came and stood closer to me, bird-dogging the process (bird-dog, by the way, is a vocabulary word from our new 365-day word-a-day calendar to prepare the kids for SATs someday. It's a verb, oddly enough, and means to watch or observe intently). He remarked, and I quote verbatim, "Mom, that's not a chopping knife."

"Ohhhh. Thanks, buddy. Gosh - I didn't realize. Well... that should solve everything, thanks."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Things I have needed since I packed them into boxes

1. My capri running tights. Who knew it would get up to the 50s during the end of January?
2. Tequila
3. Margarita salt
I'm sure there will be more.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thanks... wait, ... what?

When I got married, I had a deal with the husband that he would fetch his own drycleaning, a deal by which he abides most of the time.

Every so often if he's running late he'll call and ask whether I can pick up his shirts before 7:00 pm since he won't make it.

This happened tonight. Being the perfectly accommodating, wonderful wife that I am, I agreed right away.

"Sure, no problem," I answered.

Our drycleaner, not atypical of many, is owned by a Korean couple; I've not met her husband, but the woman is extraordinarily full of personality.

She didn't recognize me when I walked in, onaccoutubecuza the deal I have with my husband (I just don't go that often).

"Herro," she brightly greeted me.

"Hi there!" I answered just as enthusiastically, as enthusiastically as is possible when one is picking up shirts from the dry cleaners.

"Rast name?" she asked me. I answered.

"Furse name?" she asked me. I answered.

"Oh," she exclaimed, blushing. "Your husband handsome guy! Tall? Dark? That him?"

"Yup," I said, proud of the husband.

"You a rucky girl, you know?"

"I am lucky," I answered.

I told her I had met him when he was 16 years old.

I was flattered.

"Wow," she said thoughtfully, "I guess you have some good qualities to have handsome guy like that, huh?"

"Thanks," I started to say.... wait a minute...

keys + unlocking front door = I hafta pee

I could be in the middle of a desert, not having had a drop of water to drink for days, and if I suddenly happened upon a house which needed unlocking (I know, pretty impossible that a house in the middle of the desert would be locked), I would suddenly need to pee.

Have you ever noticed this Pavlovian link between unlocking the door and the urge to go?

oy vey.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

80s flashback... a man named Russel

How do you make packing up a house in which you've been for 11 years more fun? With music, of course.

As I was downloading some new songs I had been wanting to get onto my iPod, Down Under by Men At Work was playing- a preview just before it downloaded.

The husband, reading the paper nearby, belted out, all in tune: "buying bread from a man named Russell!!"

I turned around.

What did you say? I questioned

"what?" he nervously answered.

Did you say a man named Russell?

"Yeah; that's what he says."

I burst out laughing.

"It's buying bread from a man in Brussells," I explained.

"No way!" He didn't believe me.

I googled the lyrics. voila.

There are SO many songs whose lyrics I flub, too. Some of them I'll just never know (unless I google the lyrics).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Conversations with the 13-year-old

The scence: coming home after school

me: "hey, bud. How was your day at school? What's new? What's happenin'? What's goin' down? Tell me all about it!"

13-year-old: "Mom, how much horsepower does this car have?"

me: "I have absolutely no idea."

13-year-old: "what? why?"

me: "I'm a girl. Girls just don't retain that kind of information because they don't care."

13-year-old (quite put out): "That's ridiculous! You're not a girl; you're a woman. And just because you're female doesn't mean you don't know how much horsepower our car has!"

me: "oh, I beg to differ. Ask any girl in your class whether she knows how much horsepower her parents' cars have; then, ask the boys."

13-year-old: "Mom. They won't know if it's not their car!"

I gave up at that point.

So... here's a quick poll. Please tell me 1) are you a man or a woman? and 2) do you know how much horsepower your car has?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A middle school basketball game referee's worst nightmare

The 13-year-old had an away basketball game today.

It started out well enough, a very low-scoring game; at halftime I believe it was a whopping 7 to 5.
In the 4th quarter, though, things got heated. The score was tied. The teams were trading the lead.
All of this could only mean one thing:
emotional parental overinvolvement from the stands.
As the boys played their hearts out, the boys gave it everything they had... and so did their dads.
"What do you mean, out on blue. It was CLEARLY out on red!!"
"Are you kidding me? How is that not a TECHNICAL?!!"
"Seriously? His foot was a foot behind the 3-point line!!"
The ref kept his composure, didn't miss a beat.
During a time-out the ref casually wandered over to the stands. He gave a friendly, sideways glance to the vocal Dads and remarked, quite casually: "hey, guys. Quite a fan base here. I appreciate the help."
Everyone burst out laughing. And that was that.
Could there have been any better way to approach the situation, I ask you?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Florida, land of freezing (well, below freezing) marathons

Presumably Disney starts its popular beginning-of-the-year marathon, likely run by myriad folks honoring New Year's resolutions about which they'll soon forget, at 5:40 am because of the usual heat in Florida this time of year.

Yeah. ... Cue heat? ........... Hello? Okay, okay. Forget heat. How about just warmth? ............... anything?

This year the first wave of the marathon again began at 5:40, though at the time of the early start it was 29 degrees with winds of 12 to 15 miles per hour. All week long Florida has been experiencing record lows, with lizards falling out of trees as their bodies simply shut down from the cold (I swear I am not making that up. It was on the local Orlando news) and turtles being rescued from the lagoons, whose water has become too cold to sustain their lives. I didn't hear anything about snake rescues, thank goodness. Let 'em die, I say. Useless maniacal creatures...

Months ago when my company picked Orlando as the sight of our sales meeting I thought hey! While I'm down there there's a marathon. I should run the marathon, I brilliantly deduced, since I'm already down there!

Little did I know it would be colder in FLORIDA than it was in Massachusetts for my last marathon in October.

I considered throwing in the towel, being a wuss, and skipping this one, but then I pulled myself together and reminded myself that I’m a marathoner. We deal. We suck it up and run. We're the idiots who actually listen when Nike says Just Do It.

The alarm went off at 3:30 am so that I could get up and out to check my bag by the required time of 4:30 am. (Really, Disney? 4:30?) When I arrived late in the bag check tent there were plenty of other late runners checking gear, so I breathed a little sigh of relief that I could still check my warm sweatshirt to replace my wet running tops at the finish. Like an experienced marathoner, I had already expertly safety pinned my bag check tag to my bag to identify it readily; however, the bag check volunteer took a look at it and frowned. “Um, can you take that off?” she politely asked. “We need to secure it with these white ties.” I thought that was a bit anal retentive, but hey... any way that I can get a warm sweatshirt while I'm soaking wet in 30-degree temperatures works for me. The rules said any checked gear/baggage must be in the drawstring bag that Disney provided at the Expo; there was nothing about attaching your ID number to it in the most proper way possible. Heck, when the 13-year-old and I volunteered at the half marathon bag check at the Baltimore marathon, people threw cell phones at us with a tag wrapped around it as they huffed to the start in a panic. One person gave us his keys, no ID. I'm like, hey buddy. You're gonna want at least a tag around them, huh? I can just imagine the scorn those folks would feel from the Disney marathon volunteers/employees in the land of the organized, anal retention (actually I would probably fit right in).

It was then time to schlep the 20-minute walk in the dark to the starting corrals. Unfortunately, though, the race wasn't due to start for another hour and ten minutes, so I took my time, figuring as long as I kept moving maybe I wouldn't notice the 15-mph 29-degree wind in my face. The conversation buzz among runners making their way to the start line, very pied piper-esque, was, without exception, about how freaking cold it was. Every few feet there were energetic Disney volunteers or employees directing runners toward the starting area. “We’re trying out a new concept,” one sprightly Disney employee said to us as we passed, “the Disney Freeze – what do you think?” It was universally agreed among those of us who passed that the Disney Freeze idea sucked.

The journey to the start area was well lit using generators, and, as I passed said generators, I noticed groups of runners congregated around them. At first I thought it was to enjoy or utilize the light; I soon discovered that the generators were throwing off some delightfully hot air as an added bonus to their lighting capabilities. I sauntered over to a generator surrounded by about 5 runners and asked whether I could join the group. “Sure!” exclaimed my fellow marathoner, “share our warm dirty air!” During the time I stayed around the generator sucking in the delightfully dirty hot air, about 25 minutes, we all compared notes on how many marathons we had run and where we hailed from. “I came from Canada, and it’s the same temperature here that it was there,” he lamented. Another told me that yesterday’s temperature in Denver was warmer than the Orlando’s. heh heh. funny.

One of the things that a marathoner treasures about running the distance is the camaraderie of your fellow nuts who are out here running 26.2 miles with you. There are always characters certain to entertain, whether by chatting or by clothing. Notwithstanding the 29-degree dark morning, there were folks in short-sleeved shirts and shirts; there were Elvises, there were men in kilts. There was also a runner I’ll call Happy Charlie, who cracked jokes for quite a few miles, telling us “I’ll be here all day, folks.” I actually wanted to take him out.

I think the thing that most amused me was the kid-like exuberance with which the runners ran up to have their pictures taken with the Disney characters along the marathon route. “Oh, HOOK!” one 45-year-old cried excitedly; he ran over, put an arm around his idol and had his picture taken, a silly grin from ear to ear.

All in all, the Disney marathon didn’t disappoint. Experts at crowd control, their management of the marathon proved no exception. Water, Powerade, and other snacks were animatedly offered, announcers and DJs who had clearly had too much caffeine energized runners, the finish line activities were well organized, and the employees and volunteers were extremely helpful and friendly, regardless of their frozen fingers.

I finished in the time I thought I would (just a slow training marathon for fun for me), found my warm sweatshirt, and got out alive.

Later that day I flew home. When I arrived at the Philly airport and made my way onto the frozen jetway I said: "ah. Feels like Florida."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm going to hurl and, uh, you'll get the bill, won't you?

Notice I am writing this in a brown font. To match my thoughts of hurling.

I'll back up.

As I mentioned yesterday (actually earlier this morning), I've not been running as frequently because it is just RIDICULOUSLY cold and windy (I can do a wind chill of 17, I can... but not for days at a time. It gets old). I am ready for spring. Ahem. I said:

"I am ready for spring!!"

Darnit. Still nothing. I've got to start going to church. I just have absolutely no influence.

Anyway, I flew down to sunny, warm Florida this morning, where it is in the 40s/50s during the day and 30s at night, for our company sales meeting. Upon my arrival at the hotel, I ran into a customer from Brazil and made dinner plans with her for later in the evening.

I had time after my flight arrived to squeeze in 13 miles, which ideally should have been 24 miles yesterday in preparation for Sunday's Disney marathon, which I'm squeezing in while I'm down here for the sales meeting. Why not? I figured. I'm here, the marathon's here,... what the heck?

I was sluggish and crampy (I NEVER have running cramps) and had to stop a few times while running the 13 miles. I felt like crap, which I attributed to my having gone a few days here and there without running.

I got back to the hotel, stretched, showered, and called my customer to meet.

Then it hit me.

Nausea. Sweats. Ugh.

Usually I need to eat within a 1/2 hour to an hour after a long run to prevent nausea (your body needs to refuel asap), but 13 miles isn't usually long enough to give me this issue.

duh, funny runner. I hadn't eaten anything since before my flight this morning (and that was an omelet with spinach and broccoli and ham and only a few measley home fries as carbs). 10 hours since my last meal + 13-mile run = bimbo. Not only did I not eat anything immediately after my run (no mini bar in the room. wtf?), but it had been 10 hours since I had eaten anything at all.

I would now pay for my utter stupidity.

(insert sardonic laugh here).

I sucked it up and told myself that, as soon as I ate something, I would feel infinitely better.

I took the elevator downstairs, walked over to the sushi bar where I was supposed to meet my customer, and found some other colleagues. As I started to speak to them, it hit me.

A horrible wave of nausea. Boom. Just like that.
I discovered that the sushi bar was just a bar bar now and that the sushi was now in the restaurant about 200 feet from where I was standing. Two problems.
1. I could not stand up much longer, smiling and chatting with my colleagues, let alone entertain the thought of walking 200 more feet before I was able to collapse into a chair.
2. I was breaking out in a sweat and feeling more and more like hurling while trying to smile.
I hastily asked my coworkers if they could direct my customer where I would be waiting in the restaurant, hopefully sitting down with a gingerale and not puking under the table.
Pull yourself together, funny runner. This is your biggest customer. You did this to yourself, so suck it up and be a big girl.
I got to the restaurant. The hostess, who looked like she was about 10, seemed alarmed at the rate at which I needed to sit down. She intelligently didn't mess with me.
I actually felt much better after I sat down. My customer found me and sat down with me.
I ordered a gingerale. This might be okay now...
And then I didn't feel so much better again.
I confessed my bimbo chain of events and their effects on my stomach and sweat glands. She was very understanding and rode the waiter to get the food out there asap while I got greener. I felt better, and then worse.
This was just not good. I felt so rude.
The sushi finally came and I ate a couple of pieces, hoping it would go directly to my blood stream and perform a miracle in allowing me to continue to have a discussioon with my poor customer that wasn't centered around whether I thought I was going to need a trash can now or in a few minutes....
It worked for a few minutes, if only in my head, and then I needed a bathroom.
I excused myself as politely and apologetically as I possibly could and got to my room as quickly as humanly possible, where I did indeed visit the bathroom and then collapsed in shame and embarrassment. Not only did I leave my customer stranded in the middle of the hotel restaurant, it hit me when I got back to my room that I stuck her with the bill!!
So let this be a lesson to y'all: If you're going to completely neglect your nourishment before, during, and after a long run, stick someone you don't like with the bill.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolution, schmesolution

2010? Really?
Tap tap. Hello? Anyone there? I think this is my long lost blog...?
Okay, okay. Life has been a bit busy. Things like job and kids getting in the way of my blogging habit. annoying.
On the radio this morning they were chatting about New Year's resolutions... specifically resolutions for other people. i.e.... I resolve that my kids stop fighting... etc.
It got me thinking... I didn't resolve anything this year. I really don't have any New Year's resolutions. I'm good the way I am, really. heh heh. I did skip a few days of running because it's so flippin' cold out there (and windy... it's the wind that gets me), and I do feel guilty about that... but on the other hand it's good to take a break now and then.
A recap of what's been keeping me away from blogging? A whirlwhind fall/early winter....
1- the 13-year-old's high school applications are in, done. Entrance exams taken. done. Now we wait. And prayers won't hurt.
2- House is sold! yahoo! To people who LOVE our house, which gives me the warm fuzzy feeling in my heart which almost mitigates the low price we accepted. But then none of our houses is worth what they were a couple of years ago... and that's just the way it is. Suck it up.
3- More job responsibility- good in this economy, right? And stuff I enjoy doing...
So that's why I've been away.
There have been lots of bloggable moments throughout my last couple of months....most of which I've forgotten. I do remember saying to the 11-year-old just before thanksgiving: "gee, bud. You didn't give me your usual Christmas list in July, huh? Or did you give it to me and I've lost it?"
"Nah, he said," quite maturely, "I didn't do one this year. I decided to let you get me what you want." Then he gave it some deep thought; I could see the cogs turning. "Actually," he mused, "what I should do is give you a list of what NOT to give me."
I sputtered my coffee. "Excuse me?" I defended, "like what?"
"Like puzzles. You always give me puzzles and I'm just not into them anymore."
"I see," I said. "You shall get no puzzles this year, then." Coal, I thought. Lots of coal.
Most of all, what I want to say today, though, from the bottom of my heart, is...
I know there is a God because my two boys are back in school today.
There. I said it. And I'm not ashamed.
The environment in our household over Christmas break closely approximated the allied forces versus WWII Germany, the two boys literally screaming at, kicking, and punching each other. Okay, well, one of them did most of the screaming. I won't...11-year-old... mention any names. Somewhere, not so long ago, in my literature of parenting tutelage, I had read that parents should give their kids the opportunity to solve their own spats as long as it didn't get physical. Whoever wrote that particle of wisdom obviously didn't have boys. It always gets physical with boys.
Each day of vacation was the same. I enjoyed the peace and quiet in the household until around 10 am. Then, the boys got up. Inevitably, one would look at the other the wrong way, an offense punishable by lifelong hatred and disgust. Next, it would lead to blows, which led to mom's intervention. Mom's intervention consisted of sending both up to their rooms, notwithstanding the main offender or who was at fault, both of which are impossible to establish (as any fellow good parent knows).
I'm really proud of myself for waiting untiul 5 pm each day to start drinking.
Anyway, that is in my past now. The urchins are in school again, hopefully getting enough homework to last them until bedtime so that they are unable to interact with each other and have no free will whatsoever.
I do resolve to blog a bit more, publish more articles for Examiner.com, and call my grandmother more. Our household items, except for the everyday things, are mostly in sealed boxes throughout the house now, ready for our move toward the end of January. It's just a matter of time before I discover I need something from one of them.
At the end of January, we will be homeless for awhile, so I will have lots of blog material.
Happy New Year, friends.