Thursday, December 13, 2012

Carry the six....

Universal Law #263: Women should not hang Christmas lights while suffering from PMS. 
‘Tis the season to be grumpy. And bloated. And not the least bit jolly.

Save yourself, Santa. Put me on the Naughty List and call it a day. 

“Son of a B----!” I screamed in frustration.
Ah, yes. The holiday season rings in with the sounds of cussing and grumbling and sniping rather than the jingling of bells and cheery greetings in our house.

“Problem?” my husband hollered down to the basement where I was waste deep in boxes of Christmas decorations.

I’d been down here five minutes and already broken three fingernails.

And at least one toe, if the throbbing in my left foot was any indication.

But - really - it’s my own fault for kicking the chest freezer in frustration. I should have known one small appendage would not fare well against a 400-pound monolith kitchen appliance.

Physics is lost on me.

Needless to say, I was feeling neither happy nor cheerful at the moment.

After another three hours of untangling lights, fixing 51 broken bulbs, stumbling over another string left on the floor and busting about 132 more bulbs, a shot of tequila and a vow to become Jewish, everything was up and ready to go.

Next came the hard part: powering them up.

“Just how many strings of lights do you have over there on the porch?” my husband asked, mentally calculating the number of extension cords he would need to get the job done.

Carry the six.... 

“Uh, 10 I think?” I answered, scratching my head. “Then there’s another six on the bushes, four across the top and maybe two...over there somewhere....” I gestured vaguely toward the side of the house.

Math hurts.

His answering reply was a mumbled “Holy Mother of God” as he turned and headed into the garage.

“Oh, come on,” I joshed at his retreat. “Put your back into it.”

Seriously. It’s not like we need a degree in electrical engineering. ...Although such knowledge would probably come in handy.

After looking at the power grid we created a mere hour later, I’m pretty sure we exceeded maximum capability on at least three outlets.

Note to our friendly insurance agent: Please quit reading and find yourself a cup of eggnog (preferably spiked).

So there we were. Lights up. Power on. All was well. And then we decided to go one step further: add timers. 

Because after spending an entire day creating our masterpiece we could not be bothered to actually turn the darn thing on ourselves every evening for the next three weeks. 

So the responsibility fell to electrical timers. Simple right? Uh. No. 

Apparently that electrical engineering degree WOULD have been handy after all. 

“OK, so tell me again,” I said to my husband. “What does this little dial do.” I pointed to said dial, which looked completely incapable of creating the magic of electricity. Instead, it looked like something the Easy Bake Oven would have. 

Oh. Cookies. 

Cookies would taste great right about now. 

“We’re almost done here. Focus!” my husband snarked, snapping me out of my cookie fog.

“I’m on it!” I hollered back. “Let’s do this thing!" 

Thirty minutes later I was still lost. My husband sighed in frustration, “OK, one more time. You click this dial,” he pointed at the dial on my machine, “While I click MY dial,” he then pointed at the timer in his hand, “One click at a time until the lights turn on. Then let go.”

I nodded in understanding then held up a finger, “One question,” I said then ran my hand down the cord attached to my timer until I reached the end - and the plug.

The unplugged plug.

“Shouldn’t we plug them in first?” I asked.

He narrowed his eyes and huffed, “You haven’t plugged yours in yet?”

I shook my head, “No, you didn’t tell me to.”

Wow. My husband knows a LOT of swear words.

I think he’s going on the Naughty List too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elf on the Shelf goes Back to the Future

It's safe to say Bob and Zach are 80's movie addicts.

Today they went Back to the Future....

Over the weekend, they paid tribute to ET....

Monday, December 3, 2012

Elf on the Shelf: 2012 Version

Bob and Zach have returned from the North Pole just in time. Sure, it's a little difficult explaining the "Big Brother" concept to a 7 year old. But that's OK.

Salute to Twilight

Picking sides for the BCS National Championship

Elves use email

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

They're baaaack!

Bob and Zach have returned from the North Pole to keep an eye on Gabe.

Bring. It. On.

And for those wondering why we have two Elves on the Shelf? Let's take a trip down memory lane....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Focus of a ferret

Clad in a white robe with too-long sleeves that covered his hands and pants rolled up to reveal 10 little toes, he looks like a miniature Ralph Macchio in the “Karate Kid” who is too cute for words.

But in reality, my 7-year-old son is a lean, mean fighting machine.

Plus, he gets to yell. And fight.

In class.

It’s not only expected, it’s encouraged.

....Think I just found a way to make presidential debates worth watching.


It was a banner day in our household when our son was finally old enough to begin lessons in Hapkido a few months ago. 

I’ll be honest.

I was terrified.

Not that he’d get hurt. Kids - like cats - bounce when they fall, right? I knew he’d get back up.


Nope, what caused my anxiety was watching the other class participants and witnessing their single-mindedness, their focus, their attention to detail and respect for the higher-ranked members of the class. A determined and fierce group of warriors.

And I was sending my son in there? 

He has the focus of a ferret; can’t go five seconds without talking, laughing or farting.

He’ll be kicked out the first day.

We are gonna be so screwed.


I glanced around the studio, covertly assessing the other parents seated in chairs placed around the edges of the bright blue mat, waiting for class to start.

I wondered which of them I could pass my son off on when the time came to pretend he belonged to someone else.

Because we know it’s gonna happen.

Like when he was 4 and spent the entire soccer season hanging like a monkey from the goal.

However, to my consternation, no one made eye contact.

Yep, just like soccer.

Son-of-a-biscuit. I was on my own.

I took a deep breathe as the instructor clapped his hands to signal the start of class. I watched my son take one tentative step onto the mat. A fellow student, one whose higher-degree belt indicated he’d been around the block a time or two, tapped him on the shoulder and quietly instructed that each student must bow politely before stepping onto the mat.

OK. That was nice. Students looking out for the new kid. Crisis averted.

One minute down.

Fifty-nine more to go.


“How did it go?” my husband asked when we arrived home later that evening.

“IT. WAS. AWESOME!” our son yelled, hopping around in his little uniform. “Wanna see what I learned?”

My husband smiled and said, “Sure!” He looked at me, and I just smirked.

He was soooo gonna get schooled.

“Gimme your hand,” our son instructed. My husband naively held out his arm. And quicker than a flash, our son grabbed it, flicked it around and had his wrist twisted in a human knot, practically sending his dad to his knees.

“It was amazing,” I said to my husband, who, after regaining his mangled hand, was staring at our son like he was Bruce Lee reincarnated. “It didn’t take long for him to catch on. I think he channeled The Force or something.”

My husband, cradling his wrist, shook his head and replied, “With that move, let’s hope he stays away from the Dark Side.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Channel your inner Led Zeppelin

“That’s because boys’ brains are bigger than girls’ brains.”

And there it is.

The sentence that almost started World War III in our family last week.

Let’s just say my seven-year-old son, the light of my life, is lucky his mother doesn’t possess nuclear weapons. 

(Although, I admit, I was seriously eyeing his NERF gun, secretly calculating its range and wondering if I could attach live ammunition to it. ...Yeah. It’s do-able.)

However, in his defense, I started it.

After he remarked the new stocking cap I purchased for him seemed a little small, I merely pointed out that, yes, I should have ordered a larger size.

You know. Taking into account his freakishly large head.

I followed my observation with a not-so-ladylike snort of derision.

But as the woman who gave birth to him - AND his freakishly large head - after 24 hours of gut-wrenching labor, I think I’m in a fair position to judge.

Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt...and miles of stretch marks.

Then I took it a step further and added, “Your head is bigger than mine!”

And that’s when he dropped his little word bomb regarding the correlation of head size to brain power.

Look out, world. Here he comes.


Education is the key to success.

Unless you’re 7 feet tall with a nice hook shot, then it’s professional basketball.

Or marry one of the Kardashians.

Since that seems unlikely for our little guy, we have to concentrate on the ABCs instead.
It’s amazing what he picks up....

“Hey, Mom,” he called out from the back seat of the car after I picked him up from school, “did you know people used to think the earth was flat?” He paused then added, “Seriously. How stupid. Didn’t they wonder why all the water wasn’t draining off the sides?”

Oh, my little thinker. I was so proud.

And it lasted all of 10 minutes.

After sending my son into the home office to do one page - ONE PAGE - of homework that should have taken all of 60 seconds, I hear what I believed to be a second grader’s rendition of the legendary drum solo in “Moby Dick” by John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.

“Hey, are you doing your homework in there or are you playing the drums?” I hollered from the kitchen.

Without missing a beat, he yelled back, “I’m trying to do both.”

I guess it’s time to hope he grows another three feet and learns to dribble something other than his food.


So, yes, just when I thought all was lost on the intellectual front, the little bugger jumped up and shocked me again.

“You’re going down with a frown, Clown,” I said, pushing him out of the way just as the video game tournament challenge was issued. Sure, it’s rather lame trash talk. But considering I’m barred from using anything related to the four-letter variety, I have to use what I can.

“Oh, it’s on,” my son asserted, meeting my challenge.

(See? His trash talk isn’t much better.)

But my victory was short lived. After getting pounded at ping pong, he then plastered me at basketball (The dream is still alive!).

Then we proceeded to sword play. This was new territory for me, so what I lacked in skill, I made up in enthusiasm.

I figured speed was the issue here, so I swung and stabbed and twirled and twisted at a ferocious pace. 

I was so wrapped up in my awesomeness, that I failed to notice my son had yet to make a move.

I stopped, turned to look at him and simply asked, “What?!”

He shook his head and said with all the wisdom of his seven years, “Don’t just whack it around, Mom. Try to use a little finesse.”



That’s a mighty fancy word for a such a little guy.

Apparently the drum solos are working.

Who am I to mess with genius?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Color me clueless

“I’m dying,” I croaked through dry, cracked lips that felt so withered to the touch that they belonged on the face of a 3,000-year-old mummy hanging out in the desert.

I added a fluid-filled cough for good measure then flopped back on the pile of pillows I had gathered to create my final resting place.

Some people call it nesting.

I call it burying myself alive.

“You’re not dying,” my husband, let’s call him Mr. Sensitive, replied when he walked into the bedroom.

“Yes, I am,” I insisted and weakly waved an arm in his direction. “Start digging the hole, so you can throw me in later.”

His eyebrow rose a fraction and he said, “I thought you wanted to be cremated. You know, like the Vikings.”

“Oh, yeah,” I sighed, “I forgot.” Pause. “See? I’m already delusional,” I whined.

He snorted, rather unkindly, and said, “You were delusional BEFORE you took the cold medicine. This just took it up a notch.”

Then he added, “What’s that on your face?”

I tenderly reached up and touched my sore, red nose, which at the very moment was covered with a wide swath of white tape.

“My head is so stuffed, I can’t breathe,” I said, “but we were outta those breathe-easy-strip-things, so I made my own with something I found in the first aid kit.”

He snorted and asked, “And what was that?”

I mumbled something to the effect of “athletic tape.”

He howled with not-so-sympathetic laughter, “Ouch. That’s gonna hurt when you peel that off later.”

“No, it won’t,” I insisted. I sighed again for what I hoped would be dramatic effect, but due to the congestion of cruddiness in my head, sounded more like a dying cow at the end of her life, “I’ll be dead, so I really won’t care.”


For the record, I rarely get sick.

I can’t brag about it, though. It’s not because I’m doing anything correctly. I’m horrible about working out. I enjoy red meat, pasta, sugar and caffeine more than any normal person pushing the age of 40 should.

I never take vitamins, and while I love milk, I forget to drink it unless I’m dunking OREOS in the glass.

I’m sure I have the bone density of an 80-year-old man.

So color me clueless on how I rarely fall victim to the latest crud making the rounds.  But this one nailed me. Son-of-a-biscuit.

However, after my husband’s initial crack about my MacGyver’d breathe-strip, he remembered our marriage vows and got to work.

“Do you want more tissues? I can go to the store and get more tissues,” he offered kindly.

I clutched the double roll of toilet paper to my chest and declared, “No, this stuff is better.”
He rolled his eyes and gently said, “But, honey, it’s...toilet paper.”

I shook my head defiantly, in turn making me dizzy because the 47 gallons of snot in my head started slushing around between my ears.

My eyes briefly rolled back into my head, scaring the bejesus out of my husband, then the world tilted back to the right.


I held up the roll and poked it with a finger. “See? It’s super cushy, and it has all kinds of aloe and other stuff in it.” 

For the first time, I was grateful that the two male members of our household insist I keep the expensive, 62-ply toilet paper stocked in the hall closet rather than the cheap, cardboard stuff other non-sensitive-rump households enjoy.

If we ever go to war, those two are toast. Forget waterboarding. Take away their fancy toilet paper and they’d start turning state secrets in all of five seconds.

I looked with wonder at the roll and added, “I think it’s magic or something.”

My husband, who understood my cold was sending me for a ride on the crazy train, decided it was time to take a different tact.

“Drop the toilet paper,” he said, “and I’ll get you some ice cream.”


He’s good.

Forget what I said about my husband’s possible action in war time. 

He’s gonna be just fine.

Mr. Sneaky knows how to make a deal.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Columbus Day lesson

After my second grader returned from school on Monday, all hopped up on the lessons of Christopher Columbus, he wisely says to me, "Can you believe people used to think the world was flat?! Seriously. Come on. Didn't they wonder why the oceans weren't draining off the sides?!"

That's my thinker. Watch out, world. Here he comes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You had me at 'sledgehammer'

“We need to do something with that deck,” my husband announced one hot summer day, pointing out the kitchen window at said deck.


I suddenly had flashbacks to the Dog Kennel Project of 2004. Remember that, my friends?
Three short years later I had a frame of four walls and a roof.

And...that was it. 

The, ahem, proposed dog kennel was finally put out of its misery when a couple of guys removing a damaged tree cut it the wrong way, causing it to fall right on top of the “kennel.”

I must admit.

Hearing the crack of the roof joist and watching the tree split the entire thing down the middle was a blessing. Kinda like taking a loved one off life support.

So, there’s really no reason to blame me for my current state of freaked-out-ness when I hear my husband propose tackling another project that includes boards.

And screws. And measuring. And money.

“Before you say anything,” he held up his hand, “I want you to know something.” He paused and smirked, “You’ll get to use a sledgehammer.”

Then he preceded with the rundown of the proposed project: replace the rotting railing, put down new deck planks, add a pergola, open one side with wide stairs leading to a new patio.

I finally put a hand in his face and said excitedly, “Stop, stop, stop! You had me at ‘sledgehammer.’”

Oh, yeah. Now we’re talking.

Permitted destruction on a grand scale?

Sign. Me. Up.


“OK,” my husband leaned over and pointed at the base of the railing where it joined with the deck floor. “Give it a good whack right there.”

I was so excited I even peed a little.

(Yeah, I admit it. If you’ve ever given birth, it really doesn’t take much, does it?)

I nodded and gave a little salute. I wrapped both hands around the handle, lifted the heavy mallet and took a swing.


Dreams are great.

Unfortunately, sometimes they are preceded by a nightmare.


Great. The fun’s already begun, if what I just heard outta my husband’s mouth was any indication.

“This whole thing is nailed,” he wailed, sweeping his arm to encompass the entire deck.  “They didn’t use deck screws.” He wrapped it up with a muttered, “Son-of-a....”

OK. So it’s a happy accident we decided to tear off the whole thing. No problem, right?
Well, wrong.

Like most things in life, you never really know what you got until you look below the surface.

Tearing off the deck planking presented a revealing discovery....

“You gotta be kidding me!” my husband exclaimed. Crouched down, inspecting where the deck had once been attached to the house, right below the doors into the family room, he pointed to what was a good deal of water damage.

He looked up at me and griped, “I can’t believe they didn’t use a drip cup!”

I nodded in what attempted to be a very understanding way and replied, “Oh, yes. Those creeps! Imagine, forgetting a drip cup.” I paused then added, “What’s a drip cup? Sounds like something a football player with an over-eager bladder should be wearing.” I paused, recalling my earlier excitement with the sledgehammer. “Or myself, for that matter.”

My humor - as always - was not appreciated.

He went on to explain that it was like flashing, installed to keep water from running into the house or below the deck. Ours, apparently, had not included the handy little piece of metal and consequently had led to some unforeseeable circumstances.

So the deck will take a little more work than we had planned.

Kinda like most marriages. And that’s OK.


Looking for cheap entertainment? Give a 7-year-old boy a crowbar and ask him to remove a 4-inch nail from a deck board.

Tell him you’ll give him $1 for each nail he successfully pries out. Then stand back and watch the show.

It’s a good thing our son’s entire vocabulary of G-rated profanity only includes “Holy Cow” and “Jeepers.”

Which, given what he hears at our house on a daily basis, is really a testament to his inner, moral compass and is in no way a reflection of good parenting technique on our part.