Thursday, November 10, 2011

Smoking Gun

You know it's that time of year when you plug in the diaper wipe warmer. I got a gleeful giggle from little Toby when I used the first warmed wipe. It's nice to be appreciated.

It's also the time of year when I'm trying to get a lot of pottery made, glazed and shipped in time for Christmas. My excema is going wild. I normally have it on my hands, but for a while now, I've had it on my face. I keep wanting to scratch my eyebrows off. At a Halloween party I was complaining about my skin and all of the rest of my annoying health issues. My friend suggested that I might have a thyroid problem. Apparently, thyroid problems can be responsible for: skin issues, eyebrows fading, hair falling out, soreness, weight gain, exhaustion, depression, and fertility issues, but they are super-easy to cure. I walked into my doctor's office praying for a thyroid problem.

Sadly I'm healthy as a horse, so all of that stuff is just because I'm getting old. My kids have been telling me that my butt is jiggling which is great to hear first thing in the morning. Every time I see a Groupon for some sort of cosmetic procedure I stop and think for a few minutes whether that might be the answer, and then the phrase, "Why paint a wreck?" comes back to my head.

I guess I've slacked off a bit on my health/beauty regimen. My New Year's resolution of 2011 was to be more proactive about maintaining my dye job, but right now my roots make Brittney Spear's look good. I go to this amazing colorist. He's really precise about it, and he takes pride in his work-a virgo. That sounds glamorous, but the reality is that I bought 9 boxes of my difficult-to-find haircolor on ebay, and Tim is the colorist. After the drama of his daily life, it pains me to ask him to don the too-small gloves made of saran wrap to do my hair. What does he get in return besides a wife with a passable head of hair? I flush out the wax build-up in his ears.

It started when we were in Costa Rica in 2005. Tim’s ears were so plugged with a yearlong construction project’s residue of wax and funk. The water from snorkeling and surfing on top of it rendered him deaf. Rumors about the stuff that comes out of people’s ears had always intrigued me-a pea size ball of wax? I have a sick interest in that sort of thing. We traipsed off to the doctor’s office to sort him out. The doctor was a 34-year-old Costa Rican comedian in a surfer town. The bulk of his clientele come in to get their ears cleaned, so he’s pretty good at it.

He let me be his nurse/Vanna White. I got to look through the ear light thing; I got to take Tim’s blood pressure, and I got to hold the bermuda green u-shaped tray under Tim's ear as the doctor squirted the syringe of water in. The gunk all came out in one chunk after one shot, and it was the size, shape and color of a cigarette butt. I screamed in terror/glee as the doctor blew on the top of his syringe as if it were the tip of a smoking gun.

Speaking of a smoking gun, we had another epic journey in the RV last weekend. Tim needed to go to Syracuse to receive his "Leed Platinum" certificate for the house he designed for a low budget house competition. (He won the competition. :) We figured we could stop in Syracuse on our way to help out my mom in Massachusetts. It didn't dawn on us until we were arriving late to the ceremony that we'd gone woefully out of our way. We screeched up to the tent in Sunflower (the male RV is named Sunflower Rose McDonald which always makes me think of the surly tomcat next door named Muffin) Tim jumped out to make a little speech and receive his plaque. One of the other speakers did refer to Tim as the only architect he knew that drives a vehicle bigger than the houses he designs, but it went well. The owner of the house let us go through it. The kids ate a bunch of sweets, and then we got into the RV at 5 pm to head northeast for 7 hours. On our way out, Ted, an architect who works with Tim, suggested we put some air in the back left tire. It was not looking good.

We got onto 90 with a couple gallons of gas and a flat tire only to be told by the toll taker that the nearest gas was 15 miles the wrong direction or 33 the right direction. We limped along for 15 miles and opted to get off 90 to fill up. It took 2 gas stations for us to figure out that no gas station was going to have an air pump strong enough to pump up the massive RV tire. We pulled off in Utica to go to a Walmart tire center. It didn't service RV's. We went to BJ's, in the same massive stucco shopping jungle, and the tire center had closed an hour before, early for Veteran's day. Tim went in and convinced the kid who normally works the tire place to open for us-YAY! The tire was, in fact, completely flat, but the kid had no way to get it off.

Good thing we have RV coverage on AAA! Nope...the state of New York AAA doesn't have RV coverage, and there was a sleet storm, so everything was backed up. They said they would try to find an RV person and send them, so Tim sat waiting in Sunflower, and I took the 3 kids into BJ's to look at the toy aisle and the sleepy suit aisle. An hour with 3 kids in BJ's telling them they can't have anything after 5 hours of minding them in an RV had rendered my patience level low.

There was more AAA drama, so we resigned ourselves to eating dinner at Applebees where there was a wait to be seated. That was depressing on so many levels. My phone was about to die, and AAA only had my number. There were no outlets to be found on the floor at Applebees, and Steel needed to poop. Tim took Steel to poop, and I suggested he take my phone because there's always an outlet in the bathroom. There was some sort of wiping mishap at the exact moment AAA called to say that they will send someone, but it will cost $300. That left Tim covered in shit, screaming into the phone in the Applebees bathroom while I was trying to figure out how to order a vegetable off of the menu. Toby wass screaming because the guy behind us was eating dessert, and Jack Peter was drawing. Drawing sounds benign, but when Steel returned he'd commandeered all of the drawing paraphernalia, so a massive battle ensued.

The phone rang again, and Tim said, "OK! I'll be there!" He hung up and said to me, "They've got someone who can do it under the AAA policy, and they'll be there in 20! I'll go meet them at the RV." I insisted that I go meet the RV guy. My almost dead phone and I trudged the 1/4 mile across the 3 parking lots to get to Sunflower. The guy came, but he didn't have what he needed to get the tire off. He said he'd check the tractor supply store and come back. He returned and said he needed to give someone a tow, and then he'd go back to his garage to get what he needed, and he'd be back. It was becoming clear that our home for the night was going to be the BJ's parking lot, and we hadn't packed any bedding, and it was sleeting. I went to BJ's and spent $156 on bedding, made up the beds and went to help Tim bring the kids back. I grabbed a shopping cart and caught them 200 yd. away from Applebees. Tim looked awful, but I was rejuvenated by my shopping spree and cuddly bed making. I said, "You go to WALMART, relax, buy some beer. I've got the kids." I threw them and their balloons all into the cart and careened through the sleet to Sunflower.

The cart ride, the new cuddly blankets, and milk sorted all of them out as did the excitement of putting on clothes and sleepy suits at the same time. (I was terrified they'd freeze to death in the night) They went to sleep, and Tim and I drank beers and ate pretzels and naughty cheese until the AAA guy came back which he, incredibly, did. Tim went out to help. The next thing I knew the engine was up, and we were driving.

What the????

I was drunkenly gabbing on the phone to Sweet, so I chose not to worry about it until I'd told the whole story to Sweet.
said, "You're going WHERE?????"
"To the AAA guy's garage, so he can use a compressor to get the f-ing tire off!" I replied. "WHAT??? Turn around! He's going to kill you all! You can't trust an AAA guy in Utica, New York!"

No smoking gun-we're all still here, and we had a lovely night sleeping outside the guy's garage in our cozy Sunflower. It probably worked out better for my mom to have the chaos for 1 night, anyway.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why do so many moms hate me?

Notice the 2 different color legs. I wanted to tell her she could grab the 2 Barbie legs that are in our utensil drawer left over from the doll cake, but Steel is still bitter that I not only used her Barbie without asking but also it was never returned...

I have an update on our friend, Josephine whose 2 moms won't let her have a Barbie. Phine went to art camp over the summer and trash-picked enough pieces to make her own Barbie with a little tape. The moms had to reward her ingenuity by letting her keep it. She carries Barbie everywhere, and she did not take to my naming her "Purple Duct Tape Barbie." I don't think she'd like White Trash Stinky Snatch Barbie II either.

I've mentioned before that October is the cruelest month: 2 daughters' birthdays, our anniversary and the tyranny of Halloween. If I were a good sister and aunt I could also count my brother's and two of his kids' birthdays, but I don't ever do anything for them, so I can't. Using that logic I can't claim my anniversary as cruel either. This year Tim gave me a new booth for my craft shows. He'd had it fabricated entirely out of steel. The shelves mount with magnets. It's pretty cool. He set it up in the middle of my studio to show it to me. I'm thrilled, but I was put out by a 10x10 steel box in the middle of my space. I don't know how I became such an ingrate.

My father called to wish us a happy anniversary. "What is it, deah, (dear) the asphalt anniversary? Youwah muthah (your mother) and I made it to the yeah (year) of the radioactive fall-out." His call was strange as I wasn't sure he knew my phone number, let alone my anniversary date. He prompted me to look online to see what material I'm supposed to give Tim. It's wood for your 5th. I wanted to get him cool wooden glasses frames, but it turned out to be fragile and expensive, so I settled for the wooden cufflinks on etsy. I also painted a pair of his work boots copper. I couldn't resist. I was painting the tails on the girls' mermaid costumes, and I ended up painting my clogs and my belt pearlescent,emerald green. I was so enthralled by the result that I needed to share it with my dear husband. He said, "Are these for my Halloween costume?" I replied, "No, they're for your life!"

Tim recently heard the story of a bad divorce. The estranged female half went into the new abode of the male half with a shop vac filled with glitter and reversed the vacuum to spew it all over his apartment. No matter how hard he tries, for the next 40 years, he's going to look like he's recently purchased a lap dance at a strip club because there will always be a few bits of glitter on his person. I've always loved glitter. There was a period when my roommate, Sharon, and I wouldn't leave the house without a little bit of glitter on our faces. That was during the same time period I helped my friend, Sweet, paint his room silver. While the paint was still tacky we took handfuls of holographic glitter and gently blew it onto the wet paint. On top of rent control, his landlord has that to deal with??? (WOW! I guess I'm starting to see things from another point of view...Republican party, here I come!)

My mom keeps reminding me that my middle daughter is exactly like me. I'm starting to get it. Steel rejected the mermaid costume I'd spent hours on because, "The boobs weren't glittery enough!" She also had a knock-down fight with her friend, Ruby over glitter. Ruby brought her glitter-filled make-up kit to Steel's birthday party and refused to let Steel play with it insisting that she do Steel's maquillage for her.

I pepped it up a little
Steel's party was the usual chaos. She wouldn't let anyone take 1 of the 50 balloons. Bobbing for apples was eschewed. I had Tim make a really great red sauce, so they'd eat pasta and cucumbers before all of the sweets. (He must really love me because picturing 25 kids eating pasta with red sauce and grated Parmesan in his house must've been giving his Virgo self hives...) The high point was when the second kid in line downed the pinata (as always precariously attached to a ceiling fan) and they all descended upon it like the Libyans on Gaddafi.

By mistake Ruby left the make-up kit, so Steel had her way with it/me the next morning. Ruby's family got their revenge. Their middle child not only left a piece of chocolate cake in Steel's bed, but he also puked down the back stairs. On top of that, he must've been making out with Toby before vomiting, so she's been puking for 2 days. Ruby's mom ignored the "no gifts necessary" and gave Steel a not-very-hearty breed of fish. Obviously she hates me. We were at their house when Bear shattered the shell of one of their turtles, and I'm sure I said, "That's why we don't have pets..."

The mom at the last party put whistles in the goody-bags; clearly she hates me too.

The "no gifts necessary" backfired entirely. Only 1 family didn't bring a gift. Steel noticed and has been insisting, "SUGAR AND SAILOR SHOULD HAVE LEFT THE PARTY!!! They DIDN'T have a GIFT for me!" I've been trying to explain that Sugar and Sailor were the only ones who followed the rules, but it's fallen on deaf ears. I've been a wreck that Steel has been confronting them about it at school. Should I consider it a coincidence that Steel came home with a thank-you card written by another girl intended for Sugar and Sailor?
Dear Sugar and Sailor,
Thank you for coming to my birthday party! Thank you for the AWESOME rock band bracelet kit!!! I love you,

It's one thing to not bring a gift to a "gifts optional" party. It's quite another to let the birthday girl know what she missed. I want an awesome rock band bracelet kit! Knowingly or not, my daughter, the glitter-obsessed ingrate, is being punished by yet another mother. (who must hate me)

The best present I could have given to mini-me was the cake (which is good because it's the only present I gave her.) I allowed her to design and decorate it. Everyone knows I take birthday cakes pretty seriously. Steel insisted on fresh raspberries in the butter cream frosting, and then I had to let her and Jack Peter cover the entire cake with gum balls. I forgot that a cake covered with gum balls means a house covered with gum. During my post-party cleaning rampage I had to peel a wad of gum, the exact volume of a golf ball, off of Toby's bare back. She was screaming because it had dried onto all of her little peachy hairs. The 3 of them had pooled their gum while I was dealing with the guest bathroom and stuck it onto her. They were all laughing because it was almost the exact color of her flesh, so it looked like some fancy special effects wound.

I was cleaning so manically not only because our house was disgusting, but especially because Tim was going to fetch his friend, Tomoko, at JFK airport. The thought of a Japanese house guest after a raging 4-year-old birthday party was such a motivator. Is it true that Japanese people are all clean? All of my roommates have been; I've had 3 Japanese roommates. If she were from Australia would I have just strewn some straw around??? The New York marathon was happening, so Tim couldn't cross any of the Manhattan bridges. I ended up having 7 hours to clean and scream at the kids for uncleaning. It was a fabulous Sunday.

Jack Peter kept asking me to help him do the little origami figures that were in the new origami book Steel had received (from another mother who must hate me) I actually made a 3rd cup of coffee and sat down to try one. I toiled for 3.5 minutes, and then I said, "Jack Peter, I can't do this! You're going to have to get Tomoko to help you!" I suppose it must be confusing for him...why can I take a bowl and a piece of foam and turn it into R2D2 when I can't take a piece of paper, follow explicit instructions, and turn it into a dolphin?

So Tim and I have figured out the answer to October's cruelty. This year he apologized profusely for desperately wanting to go to a passive house conference to geek-out over insulation and energy recovery ventilators during our anniversary. This meant that we went out the Wednesday before and he missed the week-long sewing, painting, gluing-till-3 am-every-morning, Halloween costume marathon. I envy the women who can go to Walmart and spend $25 to buy the princess and super hero costumes their kids adore. I have to go to 3 different craft stores, Home Depot and God-knows-where, spend $100, turn into a monster for a week to create costumes that my children must then endure. We've decided that Tim should go away every year for our anniversary to avoid seeing this part of me, and our marriage will stay on track.

If I were not aware that I'm turning into my own mother, Halloween might make me admit some similarities. I heard myself bark, "ONLY ONE!!!!" and then "WHAT DO YOU SAY?????" at every stoop as I watched my unbelievably cute little mermaids snatch all the candy they could. They would stiffen at the sound of my bark, and return all but one to the endless trick-or-treat bowls. Toby would hand the treat up to me and say, "Open this Mama!" It all had to be eaten immediately. She's smart; those bags were relinquished at the end of the night so I can judiciously dole out the candy until Easter. Then I can throw away the dregs because we'll get a new batch.

It's almost sad that I've peaked so early in my Halloween-costume-making career. That R2D2 was the ultimate revenge on all of those moms who hate me.