Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How a 2 year-old views the nativity

Every year we put out a nativity set. It's the Little People Nativity, and it's a little creepy.

But they're plastic, and when Rachel is sucking the head of the baby Jesus I feel much better that it's not some undetermined metal with the paint peeling off.

This year, however, a couple things happened to change our tradition:
1) Our friend Laurie gave us a "grown up" nativity set.
2) I received a "What God Wants For Christmas" nativity set from my MOPS group.
3) Rachel made a baby Jesus at her preschool, which looks suspiciously like a wooden chess piece wrapped in tissue lying in fresh straw.We now have 3 nativity sets, plus pawn-piece Jesus, all competing for space. Rachel always seems to find the sets excellent toys and with good reason... I mean, what else is a 2 year old supposed to do with them? She usually takes the angel and baby Jesus and hides them somewhere in the house. At first, I considered this a huge leap in her cognitive abilities as it isn't Christmas yet; therefore, Jesus and the angel shouldn't really BE at the manger until the 25th. That is, until I saw some of the other things Rachel did with the nativity....

... Mary and Joesph don't seem all that concerned, so I guess he's ok.




Joseph kicks Mary to the roof. I'm not sure what's going on with him and the angel, but it doesn't look good...




but it's enthralling, whatever it is. It can't be the angel because she's passed out behind the food basket on the right side of the stable.




This is the new, adult nativity from Laurie. It only has a few pieces. I think baby Jesus may need a readjustment in his manger. Either that, or Rachel's been sucking on his head.




What REALLY happens when an angel appears




Yes, that's Mary on top of Joseph. I'm just as confused as you are.




Anyway, Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you have a great holiday! :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On a related note, your kids can also come over and learn which beers are on sale at your local Giant

I love pop music. I love singing popular songs around the house, which also means I'm singing these songs in front of my children. This can cause me to feel a little uncomfortable because in a lot of cases some lyrics are... not exactly words I want my kids repeating in preschool.*

And unfortunately for them (and me) the song "Red Solo Cup" has been going through my head for about 24 hours now (thank you, Glee). I can't stop singing the stupid chorus, so I decided to change the lyrics to fit the norms of my family. I do this for a lot of songs, actually. It's sad.

So the new version went something like this:
Red Solo cup
I fill you up
with lots of milkies...**

I'm singing as I give Rachel her snack. She slams down her cup and says, "No, Mommy! It's 'let's have a party!'"

Reason #15 why my kids don't get play-dates.

*No profanity, mind you. But would you want your 2 year old singing Lady Gaga instead of the Itsy Bitsy Spider?
**Rachel's pet name for milk... She may be using this word until high school.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dear Alec Baldwin...

... I just want you to know that I blame you for my new addiction to Words With Friends. I just had to know how a cell phone game could get anyone kicked off of an airline flight. Now I know. And I can't stop.

Damn you.

Love,
Jen

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This proves that Target.com has one of the worst search engines on the internet.

I remember when I started baby registries online. I decided to use Target for some of my maternal needs, mostly because it was a store that my relatives could walk into and buy something off of a registry. That, and I hate Wal-mart.

So tonight when John had trouble finding an HDMI cable through Best Buy, I suggested a store like... Target! I mean, Target had to have HDMI cables, right?

Unfortunately, John used Target's search engine before I could warn him that typing something specific could cause massive headaches. He started typing, and then he got very quiet.

"So..." John finally said. "I put 'male displayport to male HDMI' in the search bar for Target's web site..."

"That was probably your first mistake, honey..."

John starts laughing. "No, no! It gets better! The first two entries are 'An Introduction to Male Reproductive Medicine and 'The Family Jewels (A Guide to Male Genital Play And...'

"'And...?' 'And' what?"

John stares at the screen. "I have to know..."
He mouses over the title. And bursts out laughing. "'... And torment!'"
I chuckled. "You know, honey... A lot of bad things have come out of 'I have to know.' Just saying..."

"I think I'm scarred for life."


It turns out Target has a big martial/sexual aid section online. But no HDMI cables. Or prostate massagers for that matter... I mean... in case you were wondering.

But they are selling babies:


Post-script:
John: Just for the record, I only ran a search for that massager as a joke. I have absolutely zero interest in that sort of thing.
Me: Uh-oh. I just blogged about it. Maybe you'll get lucky and no one will read this post.
John: S**t.
Me: You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

They have the hang of how to get free candy

Last year Eric decreed that the entire family would go as the Wiggles. Flashback photo:
This year Eric decided 5 days before Halloween to be a robot. And Rachel wanted to go as Winnie the Pooh.

Thankfully, costumes are cheap when they are bought a few days before Halloween.
Eric's was super cheap: used cardboard box + duct tape + aluminum foil + John's 3 hours of hard work = a robot costume.Rachel's was also super cheap (in more ways than one): Internet site + 50% off sale + cheap standard shipping = a Winnie the Pooh costume.I think John likes Rachel's way better (if his muttering "Next time, we BUY a robot costume!" is any indication).

But the kids looked adorable.
And trick or treating was a huge hit- there was free candy, constant ringing of doorbells, and glow sticks!

Rachel found a useful use for her glow stick: checking out the puking pumpkin.This last picture is by far my favorite. I love how Eric is looking curiously over her shoulder.

But the night was punctuated by a small accident, which allowed our children to learn the true meaning of Halloween:

About halfway through the trick or treating, we were going down a steep driveway when Rachel fell down and scraped her hand a little bit. After a few tears, she was fine.

But every single house we stopped at afterwards went something like this:

The door opens to a smiling person with candy.

Eric: Trick or treat!
Rachel: Owie!

The poor person holding the bowl of candy looks confused. Eric uses this opportunity to grab an extra piece which John or I must immediately put back.
John explains that Rachel fell down and hurt her hand 5 minutes (or 7, 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes) ago in a driveway.

The person holding the candy: Awww...

And then Rachel gets extra candy.

Repeat.


Happy Halloween everyone! :-)

Mother Nature's been hitting the sauce. Again.

2 days before Halloween, and we got... snow.


We got 2 awesome videos of the kids going down the icy slide and getting airborne. Only youtube hates my Droid, so the chances of them getting uploaded are nil.

I'm not sure when I will ever have a chance to take pictures of the kids playing in snow with their Halloween buckets again. I only know that I miss fall. :-(

Friday, October 28, 2011

The one that got away (or more accurately: the one I threw away)

Tonight I was messing around on Facebook trying to curb my insomnia (BTW- this does not work), and I decided to check out some pages of past friends from Hamamatsu. For those of you who stumbled upon this blog by accident or haven't known me for very long, I was once a missionary (I know it's hard to imagine but try). I taught English classes in a church just outside of Hamamatsu for a year. It was a dream come true for me, as I grew up in Japan and had desired to return for years. Through an organization called Grace International Ministries, I was able to continue teaching and also try and save souls (something I suck at doing here in the U.S. and pretty much sucked at over there too, but that's another post).

When you live overseas for any length of time, especially on your own, culture shock eventually hits you. I went through the phases, some lasting longer than others:

-the Honeymoon Phase
(You can buy hot canned drinks in vending machines??!! AWESOME!)
-the Anger Phase
(I would give my left ovary for a bloody clothes dryer so I don't have to wear my ONE PAIR of good jeans 20 times before washing the smell of weeks-old sweat, second-hand smoke, and dirt off and then waiting 3 days for them to dry [in vain, I might add] in my 55 degree room!)
-Denial
(What do you mean I will never fit in here? Just because I have blond hair, my size 8 body is considered a size "XL" in the women's department, and I sweat like a pig in this God-forsaken August humidity... ONE DAY I will become petite and Asian...
I'm sure. Won't I?
)
and finally...
-Acceptance
(I honestly don't think I got this far)

Somewhere between the anger and the denial phase, most singles experience what Mariko and I lovingly called the "Going Native" phase. This is the phase where suddenly the opposite sex of the native culture looks REALLY enticing, and not just because they will help you become fluent for free (though this should not be underestimated). I can't explain why this happens. For me, it was a combination of loneliness and the long-term goal of wanting to live in Japan... well, forever. I saw myself never coming home.

There was only one problem with going native, at least for me: Japanese Christians do not date. (I KNOW, right???) I did not know this. I didn't know this because in Japan no one tells you anything outright or bluntly- they beat around the bush and expect you to figure out things for yourself (in case you were wondering, "the Anger Phase" lasted awhile). It wasn't until I had been serving at the church for about five months that I began to have an inkling of how things worked between Japanese Christians who want to date.

From the little I gathered, it worked something like this:
1) Any man (or woman) who is interested in a member of the opposite sex in the congregation goes to the Pastor of the church.
2) The pastor then asks both of them to take time and pray about moving forward. (At this point, I'm not sure if both parties met in the pastor's office together, or if they met the pastor separately. I bring this last point up because it becomes important later).
3) If both parties want to date, then they begin going out in public with a Christian chaperone.
4) They are not allowed to spend time together without a chaperone until they are at least engaged if not married.

So when I started having a crush on Tadashi, I had NO idea what I was getting into. But thankfully, no one knew I liked him except Miwa. Miwa was my Japanese liaison at the church. She was also Tadashi's good friend. These were fun conversations, by the way. I wish I had recorded them:

Me: So... do you think Tadashi likes me?

Miwa: Kamiya-kun? ("Kamiya" was his last name, and the ending "kun" is a term of affection for a close make friend; "chan" is the feminine equivalent) What do you mean 'like?'

Me: You know...

Miwa: Nooo...(you really have to listen to Japanese women talk to understand how that 'no' sounded) I don't know!

Me: [sigh] Do you think he LIKES me... like... you know...

Miwa: Like...?

Me: [in Japanese...] Miwa, I think I'm in love with this dude.
(In reality, I think I might have said something more unrefined like "Me love him like chocolate cake.")

Miwa: OH.... [LONG pause. A very, very long pause where all my hopes were dashed].

Me: So... ummm... do you think he likes me?

Miwa: He's nice to everybody.

But it was true. He WAS nice to everybody (I'm a sucker like that, always falling for nice guys for pete's sake!). He would talk to anyone and always had a kind word. But there was more to it than that. In a country where openness was verboten and being reserved was a virtue, Tadashi was, in a word, a flirt.

Ah, but so was I. And I was also direct. And unlike Japanese women who are coy and giggle softly while shyly covering their mouths with their petite, perfect hands, I made eye contact, smiled warmly, and had no trouble being myself. His English was far better than my Japanese, and we talked at length about family, music (we both played piano and sang in the Gospel and church choirs), and how our faith changed us. I think I intrigued him. I'd like to think it was the intrigue that one has when coming face-to-face with a rare and exotic animal- like a white tiger. But for him, it was probably more like encountering a water buffalo.

That's how I felt as a gaijin or foreigner in Japan. In all honesty though, I'm not being fair. The truth is that I am pretty darn good at reading men because, let's face it, men ain't that difficult to read in any culture. He was attracted to me, and I was attracted to him. When the gospel choir had to travel to perform, he would try and be in the same caravan as me. When Japanese women sought him out, his eyes would scan the room looking for me.

But something was wrong. Every time Tadashi or I would try and find a time to talk alone, someone would come in. Once he was literally booted from a van as he was getting in behind me in order to make room for another church member. I still remember the way he waved goodbye to me and the look on his face as we drove away.

I had no idea what was going on because no one told me. When it became painfully obvious that there might, in fact, be a mutual attraction going on, Miwa finally came to me.

"Jen... Kamiya-kun... Kamiya-kun... He is... in waiting time. Prayer season..."

Honestly, I wasn't sure what she said. I had no idea what she was trying to tell me. All I knew at this point was that I just wanted to get to know the freaking guy, I wasn't trying to marry him (yet). Maybe a dinner... Hell, I'd take a coffee...

"Jen... Kamiya-kun cannot date." And then Miwa explained why.

A woman from the church, and a fellow choir member, went to the pastor and had asked permission to pray for her and Tadashi's future together. Apparently, Tadashi was supposed to pray for an entire month to seek God's will and see if this woman and him were meant to be married. Miwa told me who she was. I could tell that Miwa wasn't supposed to tell me this, but felt that given the circumstances, she had no choice. I was basically ruining this poor woman's chance at marital bliss thanks to my gaijin ignorance of how Christian dating worked.

I knew he wasn't interested in this woman, though she was a very sweet. I told Miwa this. After a moment, Miwa looked me straight in the eye and said, "Would you marry a Japanese man?"

I honestly thought the answer was 'yes.' I was sure of it. I loved Japan. I had been trying to move back since I was fourteen years old, for God's sake! I told her 'yes.'

"So... would your Japanese husband move to the U.S?"

Oh. So that was the issue. "No... I mean, I would stay here."

Miwa looked totally dubious. "Really?"

OK... so I had about 50 pictures of family and friends taped to the walls of my room. I got mail every other day from home. My parents sent me a VHS tape of the rural drive to our house and 30 minutes of a pain-staking walk-through for their entire property that would have made the most HGTV fanatic envious. I was a bit home-sick. But this guy was cute! I liked being in Japan. I could see myself staying long-term. I wasn't ready to walk down the aisle or anything, but I was ready to dispense with the BS and actually hang out with him without Big Brother looking over my shoulder.

But was I? After a trip home between Christmas and New Years, I reintegrated into American culture. I traded Udon noodles for Subway sandwiches, and it felt good to be in a place where I wasn't judged by my appearance. I could laugh out loud without anyone staring as if I had defecated on the sidewalk. I could drink a soda while walking down the street without feeling like I was committing a crime against humanity (in Japan, you drink your soda while standing at the vending machine. Uh... hello? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?). In short, I felt at home.

After my hiatus in the States, things changed. On the surface, I continued talking to Tadashi as I had before. He even gave me a ride in his car (with one of his friends there as chaperone, of course). But something inside of me had changed. I was forced to look at the big picture. I had thought I could just date the guy, get to know him, and see what would happen. But instead I had to decide whether to pursue a long-term relationship and possible marriage, all before I even knew if he had bad breath. It was too much. I was angry. I shouldn't be bound to these archaic rules of courtship.

Yet I understood them even as I despised them: when you are a 1% minority religion in a culture that shuns you, you had better make darn sure that you marry someone who shares your worldview and will not lead you astray. The rules Christian churches impose are there to protect the faith.

But so many things in Japan were encased in standards of decorum that were anathema to me. In the mainstream Japanese (not the Japanese Christian) culture, they date as we do here in America, but they live very differently. Japanese almost always travel in tour groups (At one point I tried to plan a trip to LA, and my class didn't panic over the idea of the trip, but over the details: why wouldn't I buy the tickets through a travel agency? Wouldn't it be dangerous to travel without a tour group?). They do not apply for marriage certificates, or have to keep track of these things the way Americans are supposed to do. School children wear uniforms. Families sleep together in the same room. And in small towns outside of the big cities, loud chimes ring on the hour to signal when they get up, when they eat, and when they should go home from school or work. Everything is orderly, scripted.

In Japan there is a saying: The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. To the Japanese, rules are like a insulating barrier that shields them against the fearful unknown. But I realized that to me, they were a prison.

Thanks to health issues and a male friend from Virginia that I was constantly texting on my cell, I slowly turned away from Tadashi. I left Japan a year early due to those two things. The health issues got better once I came back; the relationship with the American male friend, not so much. But soon after returning to the States, I started dating another male friend that I had known for 6 years named John Loizeaux. And the rest is history.

Not a year goes by when I don't think about Tadashi and what my life could have been had I made different choices, if I had chosen to embrace a different culture instead of pulling away from it. As the only son, it was Tadashi's responsibility to take care of his family. I would have lived throughout our marriage in his family home. We would have cared for his parents in their old age. I would have been responsible for all domestic chores and for raising our children. My American ignorance at Japanese ways would have given me some leeway, but for how long? And would I have been happy? Or would I have felt trapped and longed for escape?

Knowing my personality and my need for independence (even by American standards), I think I would have been miserable. One look at my husband and children is enough to prove to me that I made the right choice.

But I always wondered what happened to Tadashi. I went back to Japan to visit Mariko in 2005, 10 months after I left my position at the church. One day I decided to visit the church. I was greeted warmly, and I loved seeing everyone again. But I wanted to see Tadashi especially, so I stayed for gospel choir practice that night. As people were filing into the cafeteria, I was talking in rapid English to the new English teacher and missionary, a woman I'll call Liz. Tadashi came over. I didn't slow down my speech. I didn't know why at the time, but now I realize that I was trying to highlight the gulf between us. When he and I finally started talking, Liz stayed around. At this point John and I had been dating for seven months. I knew he was going to propose. I knew I was going to say "yes."

I turned to Tadashi and told him, "You should get married." Just like that. Brutally honest. He laughed, though I could tell he was slightly taken aback. He wasn't interested in getting married anytime soon, he said. But he talked at length about the qualities he was looking for in a mate: "someone simple" topped the list. Once he finally moved away from the table, Liz turned to me. "Wow. He did like you, didn't he?" She said it so nonchalantly. At the time, that comment hurt more than I can even tell you, not because I regretted leaving, but because I had made a choice I couldn't undo and would never get back.

Years passed. I got married. Eric was born. Rachel was born. Miwa wrote every year or so. She never mentioned Tadashi, and I never asked.

Then last night as I was perusing Facebook, I say his name. "Tadashi Kamiya. Married to Mariko Kamiya." (No, not Mariko my friend. But the coincidence made me smile). And I felt... relief. It was as if there was finally an ending to that chapter in my life, and I had been anticipating the post-script all this time. I wondered if they wanted kids (he's 2 years older than I am, so they'd better get crackin'). I recognized this Mariko from gospel choir. I hoped she was "someone simple." Above all, I hoped they were happy. (BTW- in case you're wondering... Tadashi looks like this. The boy really needs to lock down his Facebook page).

This was a LONG post, but one I needed to write. It's still hard for me to write about my time in Japan, mostly because I feel like I failed as a missionary and as a teacher... Thanks for indulging me (Note to Eric and Rachel: you came this close to growing up with the coolest drink machines ever invented... you also would have had to conform in order to enjoy them).

********
Post-script:
John comes downstairs.

Me: Hey, I couldn't sleep and since you were asleep, I thought I would come down here...
John: I'm awake now.
Me: So, I'm waiting this blog post about a guy I could have ended up marrying in Japan, and I just realized he IS married. I've been waiting for the shoe to drop for... 7 years now.
John: Mmmm.... I'm going to watch t.v.
(And this is why my husband is so cool: utterly nonchalant about my capricious past. I've dated men who would have gone into a hour-long rampage for this kind-of stuff. Plus he's way hotter than Tadashi.) :-)

Oh Autumn... how I love thee... (and not just for hot toddies and kick-butt foliage)

For the past 2 years it's been a family tradition to take the kids to a place called Cox Farms. Though there's a farmers marker on the property most of the year, this place goes all out for the fall. And for a small fortune you can pay to bring your family to enjoy about 15 slides, a corn maze, hay rides, live bands covering Indigo Girls albums, great food, and getting up close and personal with the farm animals. If you're Rachel, you'll spend your time kissing goats on the lips. If you're me, you'll spend your time trying to find the booze.

But we got some great pictures.

This was the first shot of the day. The kids looked so cute posing with the cow that I made it my facebook shot. Note: I am NOT dressed as the cow, contrary to popular belief.

John shows off his agility on a slide

There was a train set up for toddlers to romp around in. I actually got Rachel to pose in the caboose.

Eric didn't stay still much, but at least I got one picture of him enjoying a slide.
And it just wouldn't be a proper ending without Rachel contemplating which goat to lock lips with...

Enjoy the fall everyone (what's left of it)! :-)

He said WHAT??

After dropping Rachel off at preschool this morning, Eric began babbling about his own preschool experiences. There are about 12 kids in Eric's class this year. Last year Eric at this time, Eric could barely speak coherently. After a few months, he started gushing about a girl named Katie. He called her "cute" and then giggled.*

This year it seems Eric is once again enjoying the company of the girls more than the boys. I was only half-tuned into what he was actually saying, as I was concentrating on the Northern Virginia idiots who cannot drive, when I heard Eric say this:

"Mom, I love Katie."

I was taken aback for about 3 seconds.

"Oh. Ummm... that's really nice, Eric. I'm sure she'll be happy to hear that."

Brief pause (probably for effect in order to give me a heart attack). Then:
"Today I'm going to tell Katie that I love her."

And that's when my heart stopped as I envisioned a sudden wedding proposal and booking reception halls for the rehearsal dinner (and I thought Gymboree was hard to book for birthdays!). Then I got a grip, smiled, and realized that Eric would probably forget all about declaring his undying love once he got pizza for lunch.

It's a fun age, three and a half. Except for the lack of naps, tantrums, and the God-awful whining...

In other news, Rachel is also speaking more fluently. Preschool has really sharpened her speech and increased her vocabulary. It's so much easier to understand what she's saying. She imitates her brother in everything. Even the high-pitched whining. Especially the high-pitched whining.

Ugh.

Repeat after me: It goes by quickly. It goes by quickly...

*Katie really is adorable BTW. She is called "Katie Bug" by her teachers, and Eric has adopted the name. The reason why? She is the most cuddly kid on the planet. When I visited his school last year, she came over and plopped down on my lap and stayed there until I literally had to walk out the door. I wish I had a picture...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Now if THIS song doesn't just sum up life after college, I don't know what does

Eric loves to sing. And because of his language delays, it's sometimes hard to understand what he's saying. Couple that with the fact that his preschool teaches crazy songs like "Who let the "A" out?" (to the tune of "Who let the dogs out") where Eric repeats the chorus 26 times, once for each letter, and we have the makings of musical chaos.

Yesterday Eric starts singing a song that he must have learned at school.

Eric: 5 friends... sitting around... everything was easy then it weren't.

Me: What?

Eric: 4 friends... sitting around... everything was easy then it weren't.

Me: Did you learn that at school?

Eric: 3 friends... sitting around... everything was easy then it weren't.

Me: I hope the original lyrics included the word "wasn't..."

Eric: 2 friends... sitting around... everything was easy then it weren't.

I love how preschoolers just keep singing louder and louder with every new line of a song. Except when I'm driving.

I'm not sure what his music class focuses on, but this song has GOT to be taught to high school seniors and disaffected college students. I think my 3 and a half year old is ahead of the curve.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

And this is why John should change all Rachel's diapers...

5 days ago I accidentally on-purpose kicked a hole in the wall. This was an accident due to the fact that I thought a stud was on the other side and not a flimsy piece of drywall. It was also on purpose because I can sometimes get a bit... cross (as you can see, I've been watching too much "Thomas").

Long story short: I had just finished wiping my lovely almost-4-year-old's bottom because he decided it was way more fun if Mommy did it instead of doing it himself. My skin is literally peeling off my hands thanks to a new round of eczema, which is exacerbated by washing them repeatedly. Then Rachel decided to poop. Again. I begged John to take her. Rachel cried for Mommy, and John happily handed her off to me. As I was walking up the stairs to change her, I heard him telling Laurie how Rachel had asked for me, getting him off of diaper duty. Then he laughed.

And that's when I kicked in the wall.

You know those moments when you do something awful and you know you can't hide the evidence of your crime? That feeling in the pit of your stomach of total panic and dread at having to face the consequences of your actions? I honestly thought about blaming the kids, but there was no way something besides my foot could have made that giant hole. I wish I had taken a picture. It was impressive.

But I couldn't hide my guilt. Not even from my 2 year-old.

Rachel: Uh-oh.

Me: Yeah. [sigh] Big 'uh-oh.'

Rachel: Wall have boo boo?

Me: Yes, the wall has a boo-boo.

Rachel: Boom!

Me: [sigh] Yes, big boom.

John was surprising casual about the whole thing. This made me grateful because if the roles were reversed, *I* wouldn't have been nearly so casual about him causing interior damage to our home.

John even offered to fix the silly thing. But I told him no. One of the things I want my kids to learn is that you need to own up to your mistakes. At that moment I realized how unfortunate it was that I'm such a firm believer in individuals taking responsibility for their own stupidity, at least when that stupidity falls on me.

So I got online and found out how to repair a hole in drywall. It looked ridiculously easy. I felt motivated and self-assured. I could patch a hundred holes in drywall!

Then I noticed all of the material I needed to buy.
Which meant I needed to make a Home Depot run.
And I panicked.

I despise Home Depot. Every time I walk into that store, even if there's a thousand other people shopping, I can pretty much bet on the fact that I will be the only customer over the age of 10 with a vagina. This is compounded by the worst customer service on the planet with employees who barely speak English. I would rather get my wisdom teeth extracted. Again. With the 2 dry sockets, than head over to that cold warehouse to wander the aisles aimlessly for an hour.

It has also been in the 40's this week and rainy. But I sucked it up and headed over. As per usual, I had to beg a disgruntled male employee to make a small can of paint. I trooped up and down different sections before finding a nice man wearing orange who looked like he enjoyed helping people.

"Hey..." I started. "I'm looking for joint compound, drywall..."

"Oh, um... Robba! Robba!"

So, 'Robba' turned out to be "Robert," and my sweet knight in an orange vest turned out to speak about 50 English words, but between the 3 of us, I got everything I needed. I even found a self-adhesive 4" strip that had the instructions for patching a hole right on the box! Awesome!

I drove home feeling proud of myself... until I went upstairs and saw that the hole was just a bit larger than the patch.

Crap.

But, wait! I had bought meshing tape. Maybe I could put a little meshing tape over the part of the hole that was too big? It... worked. OK, it wasn't perfect, but unless you are really looking for the hole, you couldn't see it.
I learned a few lessons through all of this:
1) How to repair a hole in drywall. It's really a useful thing to know how to do. I rank it up there with changing oil in your car.
2) Find the stud BEFORE hitting/kicking anything out of anger. Or if the 'stud' happens to be 5'9" and cute, save yourself the trouble and just kick him. :-)
3) I also learned that I really need to be better about taking "Before" shots with my camera. It really was an impressive hole...

Friday, September 30, 2011

What can turn a sweet Christian girl into a violent, poison-wielding monster?

I am usually a gentle person. Mostly. I never watched fights in middle and high school. I can't see horror flicks due to the profusion of blood. But tonight I went outside with my Terminix spray bottle of chemical doom and proceeded to kill the largest spider I've ever seen on this side of the Pacific. Of course, I did this from about 6 feet away. I had to be prepared to flee just in case it did something unpredictable, like fall off of its ginormous web during its death throes.

After spraying it repeatedly, it finally fell down on the edge of the porch. I quickly darted back inside just in case it was faking its own demise and decided to turn around and attack me.

When John came home, we had a little talk:

Me: Honey, we need to talk about this sick tendency you have to let spiders live.

John: They're outside. They're killing bugs! They're not hurting anyone.

Me: Wrong. [pointing to the giant web hanging from our porch swing]

John: [sighs and steps outside]

Me: Oh my God, what are you doing?? There are spiders out there!

John: [giving me a exasperated look] I'm taking down the web.

My wonderful husband continues to destroy the web. Then he looks down.

John: You know that the spider is still alive?

Me: I knew it! [pause] Did you kill it?

John: Yes.

Me: Good. You know, killing spiders makes me hot...

John: [smiles but shakes his head]

Laurie: You know... you have 4 minutes until you need to turn the steaks over.

I wish I could tell you that this story ended with a quickie and a nice medium-rare filet. Unfortunately, it ended instead with an episode of the Wiggles and late bedtimes for the kids. This is real life.

Real life sucks.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First fire of the year

The weather in the state of Virginia has got to be the most screwed up in the U.S. Yesterday it was 90 degrees, and the kids were swimming in the kiddie pool. This morning it was 74. It's now 50 and dropping. It will probably be over 70 tomorrow.

But in the meantime... it's pretty cool and cozy to have a fire going. :-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

If I ever complain about how the teen years suck, please remind me of this post

Eric and I were watching "The Berenstein Bears." About 90 seconds into putting my arm around him, Eric turns towards me and grins. He then pulls open the front of my shirt and proceeds to drop something small inside, which naturally catches in my bra.

I look at him, "Eric... what did you just do?"

"Ummm... I gave you a present."

The "present" turned out to be a booger.

So... if I ever complain about what jerks my kids are once they hit their teens, please refer me back to this post. :-(

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's amazing I haven't seen Noah's Ark floating by...

So we now have flood conditions here since it has rained non-stop for days. We're not talking about a light rain. We're talking about such heavy rain that you could drive a yacht down my street. There are rescue boats going down the streets in my county. That's right- boats. Even the schools are closed tomorrow!

Eric takes a bus to and from school (when there's not a flood), so Rachel and I stand outside on the porch to wait. I took a couple of pictures of her holding an umbrella and looking utterly adorable without even trying (how do preschoolers do that??)
And despite the fact that Eric's bus has been 15 minutes late every day, and that he wasn't even on the roster yesterday afternoon (which no one would explain what happened there- that's a whole other post), it's peaceful to wait outside and watch the rain fall around us. I discovered that I love rainy days far more than sunny ones. I wonder if John would move to Portland or Seattle...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

To my darling husband...

Dear John,

Unfortunately, I spent another $150 on fall/winter clothes for the kids. On the plus side, at least they won't be naked.

Love,
Jen

Friday, August 19, 2011

In Pictures: Strange Things Happen in Threes...

So I was cleaning up the playroom yesterday, and I had to take a picture of what I found:I think it's safe to say that my 2 year old is no longer a fan of Caillou. AWESOME!!!!!


In other news, the DC Metro area had one heck of a hail storm yesterday:

And to add to the strange events- my friend Mariko posted an update to her blog. She hasn't posted since January 5th. No real picture for that. Maybe she'll send me one.

So... if the world ends sometime soon, don't say I didn't warn you. :-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Living with a self-proclaimed "geek"*

When you live with an engineer, you get used to seeing things like this in prominent places throughout the house...

And after you have lived with an engineer for over five years, you glance at mathematical formulas like this for about two seconds before moving on to other tasks. Truthfully, I would ask John what this was, but I'm afraid he might answer the question. I'm also afraid to erase it for fear he might have solved the Riemann Hypothesis (don't ask) or created a formula for teleportation (both of which could pay off our mortgage, which leads me to believe it's more likely John found a formula that lessens the amount of lint in an average dryer).**

So despite the abuse taken by the white board, and that lack of understanding between a "geek" and a liberal arts gal like myself, there are some great things about marrying a geek:

1) They are amazingly loyal. I will never have to worry about John cheating (He puts it as "I'm brand-loyal"). sigh... Very romantic, honey...

2) John's spatial reasoning makes him an excellent candidate to load the dishwasher. EVERY night.

3) You learn some pretty cool things on shows like "Mythbusters." But if you're geek counter-part insists on watching the Mythbusters marathon, you don't need to resort to drastic measures like slitting your wrists. First of all, they won't notice in time to save you. Secondly, there's a solution that's much less messy:
Simply take the next opportunity to watch the HGTV equivalent. Make sure to complain loudly while they're on their computer about how stupid the people are on the show, and wonder aloud why your bathroom has yet to be redone. Problem solved. :-)

4) In most cases, the advice of engineers and other geeks is pretty darn good.

5) Geeks read books like "The Zombie Survival Guide" and other life-saving literature.

6) They may not be the most impulsive or romantic people on the planet, but as long as you are specific about what you want for Christmas (NEVER tell a geek "Surprise me!" because you will be surprised, and it usually isn't pretty...), you are guaranteed to get it.

Living with an engineer has it's ups and downs. A lot of times you feel like they don't get you at all. They, in turn, feel totally misunderstood by you and the world at large. But no one is truly compatible. The longer I live with John, the more I learn from him. Just please don't tell him that. I'll never hear the end of it...


*According to John, the word "geek" is not a bad word. "Nerd" is a bad word. I have no idea what the difference is, but I'll take his word for it.

**I know of at least 2 people reading my blog who will spend their time solving this equation and won't bother reading this post until it's solved. If less dryer lint equals big bucks, I'm
totally suing!

Friday, July 29, 2011

I should write a book on how to convert kids to atheism...

First of all, let me give you a little background. This is what a typical meal time is like at our house when everyone has finished eating:

Eric: Oh, no! We forgot to say grace!

Me: Ok. Well, do you want to pray, or do you want Mommy to pray?

Eric: I'll pray. [pause] dadaaddaa mamumum mummmm...

Me: In Jesus' name...

Eric: No! I'm not done yet. Mummma dadada baba. Amen.


Flashback to yesterday:
We're leaving the Chick-Fil-A and a nice employee is handing out balloons. After saying thank you, the kids each pick a color. Eric immediately picks yellow. He's gravitated to that color since infancy. Rachel chooses orange... no wait, green! No wait... So, yeah: orange it is.

Eric was proud of how he got the balloon string around his wrist and arm. I had no idea how well that would hold up, but when you have a diaper bag on your back, a kid in one arm (with balloon), and the other kid holding onto your hand while traversing a crazy parking lot, you can't watch everything. Sure enough...

Eric: Oh no! My balloon!

I look up and see a yellow oval slowly ascending into the sky. Crap.

Eric: I want another balloon!

Ok, so at this point I have a choice: drag everyone and everything back into the restaurant, beg for another bloody balloon and hope that they have enough, or simply use this as a teaching tool for how to hold onto your balloon for future outings. In short, I choose option 2. Yes, he'll tantrum for a few minutes, but he'll forget about it just as quick. Maybe.

Me: Eric, I'm sorry you lost your balloon. You did a good job of holding onto it, but sometimes balloons get away.

Eric: I want another balloon! Waaaaaaahhh!!!!

Me: [sigh] Honey, everyone only gets 1 balloon. I'm sorry...

So we get into the car, and I think this is the end of it because Rachel doesn't mind sharing hers. But no.

We get home, and Eric starts crying again. I get the kids inside the house, then I decide to tell Eric a story about how I lost a balloon when I was a child. He gets quiet, and asks where the balloon went.

Me: Well... [thinking fast] balloons fly up to heaven to be with Jesus and make children there happy.

Eric promptly bursts into tears.

Eric 1, Mommy 0.

Later at night when John gets home, Eric runs up to him and says, "Daddy, my balloon flew up to the sky."

John smiled empathetically at him. "I'm sorry, Eric."

"Jesus has my balloon." Then Eric got very quiet and said, "I just want Jesus to give it back..."

Great. Jesus: Messiah. Savior. Balloon Thief.
I can see Sunday school now:
"Class, does anyone know what Jesus did for us?"
"Yes. He steals my balloons!"

Eric 2, Mommy-0.

P.S. Laurie just translated Eric's prayer: "Dear Jesus, forget everything Mommy says. I want my balloon back. Amen."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I don't understand what the big deal is...

Last night went something like this...
Me: I love cuddling.

John: I can't see my computer.

Me: Isn't this great? All this love and affection without having to put out?? It's like a dream come true!

John: [mumbling] More like a nightmare...

Me: [contented sigh] So... what are you thinking about?

John: Bear trap.

Me: ?

John: Bear trap. You know... trying to bite my arm off in order to escape...

Me: Too many pillows for that. Aren't throw pillows great? You know what we need?? Scented candles!

John: True. I could always light myself on fire...

Me: You have a bad attitude. Do all men think this way?

John: It's hot and uncomfortable. It's not like men get much out of it. Isn't there some scene in "When Harry Met Sally" about how men think about how long they have to cuddle without being rude?

Me: Huh. I didn't know you watched that movie...

John: My testicles had already shriveled up from having to sit in the same room while you watched "Titanic" last year.

Me: [sigh] I love that movie...

John: Can I go back to reading now?

P.S. I had no idea men were such pigs. This is why John gets anniversary gifts like this. As opposed to this. It's called priorities, honey. THAT is what you get out of cuddling. But if you ever get over your phobia of intimacy, the 45K is coming out of your pay-check as my current employer has me on call 24/7 and refuses to pay me. I also hear he hates cuddling. :-)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Having fun at the beach

We just got back from our vacation in Myrtle Beach. By "vacation" I mean that the kids had a vacation. John, my parents, and myself are so worn out we need another vacation to get over the stress of our vacation. :-) Seriously, though.. it was great.

Here are some pics and highlights...

1) My parents graciously offered to take the kids off our hands for an entire day. It was Christmas in July. I think we read for a few hours without any interruptions before heading out to play mini-golf and going to an amusement park. On the way back, I noticed a thrill-ride next to the beach near the old Pavilion amusement park. You get strapped in and it sling-shots you 300 feet into the air at 3Gs during launch. You go straight up and flip several times (or even more if your husband decides to "get his money's worth" and fling his weight into the bloody device so many times that you don't get to enjoy the ocean view), but it was great fun. Here's a picture of the Sling Shot. The black dot is another soul being tossed into the air like fresh Fettuccine.
2) The kids are both fearless when it comes to riding rides. I will consider myself a successful mother is my kids love Jesus and roller coasters. (I showed Eric youtube footage of the Intimidator 305 and other roller coasters from Kings Dominion, to which he yells "I want to ride a roller coaster! Please??" Does my heart proud...) :-)Unfortunately, Eric... you've got a few years kiddo. And Rachel was a little too short (by like an inch and a half) to ride some of the rides that Eric could ride. It's hard to explain to a 2 year-old that she can't ride the same things that "Bubby" can. Thankfully, they both could ride together most of the time.

3) Both kids also played in the ocean a lot more this year. Last year Eric seemed to have a phobia of both water and carnival rides. This year both kids got a lot more out of the trip.
The aquarium at Broadway at the Beach was an even bigger hit this year as well, especially for Eric who would push adults out of his way in order to play with the hands-on exhibits.



It's a shame we only have a week down at the beach. It went by so fast, I swear we skipped a day or 2. So goodbye Myrtle Beach. We hope to see you again next year!

All dressed up...

Day 52- A picture of me dressed up... and getting kissed
Four hours later I was over a toilet with the stomach virus from hell, but good news: I didn't puke on the dinner cruise. Or in John's mouth. I'm very considerate that way.

Happy 5th Anniversary, honey. We made it through five years, four of them with kids in diapers. I think we're doing pretty good! :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 51- Me... in shades, or A random beach picture because my imac sucks

My computer is experiencing technical difficulties, which is nothing new in my ongoing saga of "How Jen Manages to Break Every Laptop She Has Ever Owned." This time the power cable isn't working. Or my computer is on strike and refuses to accept electricity. Maybe she wants to go green and run on solar energy.

At any rate, my battery is draining by the second, and I haven't uploaded all our pictures from Myrtle Beach. Plus I haven't had the time to write about our vacation, so predictably...

Day 51- A picture of me wearing sunglassesThis was our last day at the beach, and we took the kids to the water one last time before bed. Eric especially enjoyed the water this year.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I am bummed

Tonight is the last episode of the Game of Thrones mini-series on HBO. If you haven't seen this, you're either
1) Not willing to be indebted to your inflation-flaunting cable provider to get HBO. And unless you watch a lot of movies, or really enjoy watching vampire soap operas on your flat-screen, I can't blame you.
2) You find fantasy to be tedious. Ahem... WHY do you read my blog???

It could also be that you have never read the books. I warn anyone who likes fantasy that A Song of Ice and Fire saga by George R R Martin is not your typical fantasy series, at least not any series I've ever read. Most fantasy books have cool creatures like dragons. There are dragons in these books... eventually. But honestly, where are the unicorns?? I mean, even Harry Potter had unicorns! Dead ones, but that's besides the point...

Nothing is left to the imagination in the Game of Thrones, the first book in the series. And you find out pretty quickly that Mr. Martin has a very twisted imagination: lots of rape, incest, murder. The HBO version, while quite graphic, doesn't show nearly as much as it should...

I didn't know what I was getting into when I started reading these books. In my defense, they are very well-written. I even fell in love with a few of the characters. Which brings me to my final and most dire warning: George kills characters cavalierly and without any discernible reason. If you enjoy books mainly for the character development, as I do, this will really piss you off!

The entire saga is supposed to be 7 (I think 8 at this point) books in length. And I was pregnant with ERIC when the next (5th?) book was supposed to be released. That's 3 years later than the original release date for those of you who stumbled here by accident and/or don't keep track of my kids' birthdays. 3 years. To wait. For. A. Sequel.

But I will miss this HBO mini-series. The actors did an amazing job with each and every character. The casting was phenomenal. Even the opening credits were amazing and helpful for newbies to keep track of the different characters and their houses. Most of the lines in the mini-series were taken verbatim from the book, which is very cool to a fan of the series. Lastly, anyone can follow the complex plot even if he/she had never read the book. If you enjoy fantasy, or just like watching a well-done story unfold, I hope you'll find the episodes and treat yourself.

[Sigh] Until the return of Castle in the fall... farewell T.V.

Friday, June 10, 2011

If my children end up alcoholics by the third grade, it will totally be my fault

Today was "Water Day" at Eric's preschool. Parents and families were invited to watch their wildlings jump from kiddie pool to kiddie pool in 90+ degree heat. It was a lot of fun. Seriously.

Parents were given a list of items to bring including water shoes, a change of clothes, sunscreen, and a towel for the kids to sit on during snack time in addition to drying off.

These were the towels of the other kids in Eric's class...
And this was my son's towel:
Encouraging alcohol consumption, one preschooler at a time. I'm pretty sure this is why my kids don't get play dates.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm pretty sure I deserve a raise

So I was thinking about being a stay at home mom, and how John gets a pay check every single day for working at a desk (with unlimited internet access) for only 8 hours. And I thought I really, really deserve a pay check for my 12-14 hour a day, physically and mentally-exhausting yet under-stimulating daily grind. I also thought John should pay for it since he technically got me into this mess. But when I carefully broached the subject (because you have to be careful about beginning a conversation with "I need a raise" let alone "I need a pay check"), John wasn't as receptive as I'd hoped.

Me: I need a pay check.

John: You want to go back to work?

Me: I AM at work. That's my point. I'm slave labor. I need a pay check for being a mom. Which means, I think you should pay me for my hours of servitude.

John: You want me to pay you?

Me: I was just thinking that it would be nice to have a pay check once a week that I could go to the bank and cash...

John: You want me to write a check out of our bank account, and then put it back into the same account?

Me: When you put it THAT way, you make it sound like I'm stealing family money. But really, it would be like stealing from the rich to give to the poor...

John: Who's the poor in this scenario?

Me: I was also calculating my Paid Time Off...

John: What about gas reimbursement?

Me: Excellent point! You should totally be reimbursing me for gas! After all, I drive the kids to appointments, pick Eric up from school... it's only fair.

John: I meant YOU reimburse ME!

Me: Whatever for? I don't even USE your car! So let's talk about PTO...

John: ??

Me: I think I deserve Paid Time Off for every dirty diaper changed. Let's say... an hour for every poopy diaper. So let's calculate this... Rachel is now 2...

John: I get PTO for every SIX HOURS WORKED!

Me: Ok, fine. Six poopy diapers for an hour of PTO. I can negotiate....

John: No PTO... this is your job. Suck it up.

Me: Fine. I quit.

John: You want to tell the kids that their Mommy is leaving?

Me: Eric, Mommy is leaving.

Eric: Umm... Can I have a popsicle?

Me: See? You could replace me tomorrow with a Bolivian house-keeper, and the kids totally wouldn't notice. I put up with a lot of crap, but do I complain?

John: YES!

Me: Standing up for my civil rights is not the same thing as complaining. You're The Man, and you're just trying to keep me down.

Laurie: Don't let 'The Man' keep you down!

Eric: Mommy, I need your help. I have to poop.

Me: I think wiping another person's behind is overtime!

Eric: Daddy, pay Mommy overtime!

Me: Did you hear that???

John: I'm ignoring you....

P.S. In hindsight, I should have hired a lawyer. I think I can get a lot more benefits with legal representation. Even my 3 year old knows I need to be paid for services rendered.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

He needs to come home from work earlier more often...

Actual conversation with John at 5:28pm today:

Me: Hey John! How was work? ["Hi Daddy!" Eric screams as he runs naked through the house. Rachel runs up to John in her diaper, says "hi" and runs back outside.]

John: Uh... hey.

Me: You just missed Rachel pooping in technicolor. I think she gets that from your side of the family.

John: [muttering] I doubt it...

Eric: Come downstairs!

John: Get some clothes on first.

Eric [after getting dressed with help from Mom] Come and play downstairs, Mommy!

Rachel: Outside!

Me: [looking at John] Which one do you want?

John: I'll take Rachel.

Hallelujah, because it's 95 degrees outside with humidity! I follow Eric downstairs to listen to the Belly Button song for the 418th time while finishing up laundry. As I take the laundry upstairs, Rachel shoots downstairs. John gets on my computer. The kids are happily playing in the basement. Peace and happiness. Which always lasts about .07 of a second before Rachel starts crying and/or Eric starts screaming.

Rachel: WHHHHAAAAAA!

Me: [looking at John] I will pay you a thousand dollars if you go downstairs with the kids right now.

John: What's this "Maids, not murder" thing on your computer??

Me: I haven't had a chance to actually read it yet. And the price just went down to $800...

John: [getting up] Alright...

Me: Thanks. Did I mention you get paid out of your paycheck? Since I don't actually have a paying job and all...

At this point, John said something I can't repeat here. But the kids played with Daddy for about 5 minutes before they tracked me down like a pack of crazed dogs in a fox hunt. And I learned that if I had a maid I would live 11 years longer and be less likely to poison John. But John would have to pay for that out of his check, too.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What's worse than fighting zombies?

Besides fighting zombie-alien hybrids...??

The answer is: Potty-training a strong-willed child.

So much worse than fighting the undead. Especially if you have Vin Diesel to help you fight the undead.

If you haven't read the last couple of posts on this blog, you must be so confused...

I decided to start tackling potty-training with Rachel. She's almost 26 months old and is currently obsessed with potty books and videos. I reasoned that this would be the perfect time. I followed my friend Karen's advice and placed a potty next to the changing table so Rachel would begin to associate what goes on in her diaper with what should go on in the potty. After I change Rachel, I let her sit on the potty for as long as she wants.

Maybe one of these days she'll actually figure things out. Because right now, Rachel thinks having the potty next to the changing table is the best game EVER!! After changing her, she sits naked on the potty for about 0.08 seconds. Then she cries with delight and races into her brother's room. Before I can catch her, she is flailing around buck-naked on his bed while laughing hysterically.

While all this is going on, Eric has dropped trou and is actually using Rachel's potty. Which means I now have to clean that up and pray that Eric doesn't regress into only using little training potties again since he is also pretty strong-willed.

After I am finally done helping Eric dump his mess into the real toilet, Rachel usually decides that the carpeted floor is the perfect place to pee, clean potty be damned.

I totally get how some parents have their 7 year-old still in diapers. I am still having nightmares about starting bedtime training...

Fighting zombies? WAY easier...

P.S. Can I just say that seeing "zombies," "potty-training," and "Vin Diesel" all in ONE label for a blog post is totally awesome!

Friday, May 20, 2011

I am TOTALLY PSYCHIC!!!!!

OMG you guys... So the DAY that I had the dream of the zombie/ alien invasion where Vin Diesel and I save humanity from certain disaster in the waters of the Pacific, the Center for Disease Control sends out their Emergency and Preparedness and Response for how to best survive a zombie apocalypse. I kid you not. It's right here.

It gives the run down on how to prepare for a zombie attack and what to have on hand: water, food, first aid kits... They mention nothing about having Vin Diesel. Nor do they mention 7-11, which my husband was certain would be headquarters for human resistance (HA, John!!!). The CDC says you should also have a change of clothes for each family member and important documents like your driver's license and birth certificate.

Ummm... OK. So maybe it's just me, but WHY would you need your birth certificate when fighting zombies? My dream took place towards the end of the apocalypse with humanity's final stand against the zombie-alien things, and NO ONE gave a rat's a** about their birth certificates. I remember cars being hard to come by though. Probably because we were all too busy running away from our starving zombie significant others to grab our driver's licenses on the way out the door.

The CDC wants to encourage all Americans that IF the zombie apocalypse comes, they were conduct a thorough investigation like any other disease. Even if that means going door-to-door. Which means those idiots will either all be dead or become zombies themselves walking door-to-door haphazardly like a bunch of well-dressed Jehovah's Witnesses.

Here's the Jen Plan for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse:

1) Find Vin Diesel
2) Get weapons. That's right CDC. WEAPONS. Hello? You're fighting zombies, not meningitis.
3) Get a small group of well-armed humans to come with you and Vin Diesel to your nearest 7-11.
4) Steal a slurpee. Mostly because it's the end of the world and who gives a rip about stealing or the extra calories, but also because you will be really thirsty from fighting off zombies.

Then do whatever the heck you want because the Twinkies at 7-11 will probably outlive you. Although I would personally make sure you can run faster than most of the poor schmucks you picked up on the way to 7-11.

Really, finding Vin Diesel is the most important thing.

You're welcome.

Take that CDC!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

When fighting zombies or aliens, make sure you make it to LA. With Vin Diesel. But don't mention the last part to your husband.

Conversation with John:

Me: I had a weird dream last night. I was at a 7-11 with a bunch of people. One of them was Vin Diesel, but it totally wasn't some crazy fantasy dream because we were all busy running from zombies. Or aliens. They looked more like aliens.

John: [Typing on his computer, saying nothing]

Me: So anyway, it was night, but no one was supposed to be out at night... which is why I thought we were being chased by zombies. But strangely enough the 7-11 was open... Anyway, we were all trying to get a ride to Los Angeles... I wonder why Vin Diesel didn't have a car?

John: That's a good question...

Me: So the only truck available was carting GM cars heading west, so we all climbed in a car and fell asleep on the way. I think I saw that in a movie once... Anyway, I remember waking up and seeing the Hollywood sign. The rocky hills were especially vivid, I'm not sure why... But when we got there, somehow it was only Vin and myself. I think the others went sightseeing. Vin owned a shop in LA, and the zombies came to see him when I was in the back...

Laurie: You were probably going to the bathroom...

John: [looking at me, saying nothing]

Me: At any rate, they were definitely not human. Maybe they wanted his autograph, but the next thing I know, Vin and I have joined a ton of people in the Pacific ocean fighting the zombies, who somehow couldn't swim. So Vin was, like, throwing knives or something at them, while I was underwater retrieving more weapons... Then I woke up. I'm pretty sure it was humanity's last stand.

John: [grabs the computer, wondering what the hell his wife has been typing for the last ten minutes] ... [starts reading] ... [starts typing]
Zombies ... or aliens? How the hell don't you know the difference?! This is damn important!


Me: All I know is they weren't human... and I now have this strange urge to go see "Fast and Furious 5"...

John: [continues reading] 7-11 is always open. I fully expect it to be part of, if not the headquarters, of the human resistance in face of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Me: I think I want a slurpee...

John: [continuing] Wow ... your dream also comes with ad placements as well. That's ... kind of creepy.

Me: They could have been BMWs...

John: [finishes reading] You've got some effed up dreams.

Me: So it's perfectly OK to cheat on you during the alien apocalypse?

John: [shrugs] Well, if I'm already dead...

P.S. John was pretty understanding about the whole thing. The only thing he got the least bit upset about was my ignorance about whether it was a zombie or alien apocalypse.
I think John has issues.

[John] P.P.S. IT'S IMPORTANT!! I mean, if they're Zombies, then you know not to engage them in close range, which you could do with aliens. Well, at least some aliens. Aliens, on the other hand, might have salvageable equipment you can use against them in the war to retake our world. It makes all the difference!! Hell, if I'm dead, I hope you have a fighting chance to survive, but if you cannot tell the difference between a zombie and an alien ... well ... just make sure you shoot yourself before you infect Vin Diesel.

P.P.P.S. I knew John was mad about Vin Diesel...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What we have here is a failure to communicate...

John and I subscribed to a lawn service last year for several reasons:
1) we're lazy
2) we have 2 preschoolers who make us even lazier whenever we have any down time
3) our neighbors both have immaculate lawns with no weeds, and our weeds were filtering into their lawns; except for the fact that we let our kids run around their property, we try and at least pretend we care about the quality of their yards.

The lawn service came out today in the pouring rain and left their "comments" about what they did. They are usual brief and to the point, but about 30% of the way through reading it this time, I was laughing so hard I couldn't help but post. These are the comments verbatim:

I TREATED YOUR LAWN WITH THE PREVENTATIVE GRUB CONTROL TREATMENT. AS WITH ALL GRUB CONTROL MATERIALS, THE BEST RESULTS ARE ACHIEVED IF THIS TREATMENT CAN BE THOROUGHLY WATERED IN. THIS TREATMENT CONSISTS OF DILUTE IMIDACLOPID. THANKS FOR LETTING ME SERVICE YOUR LAWN. LAWN LOOKS GREAT! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. IT WAS NICE SEEING YOU TODAY. IT WAS NICE VISITING WITH YOU TODAY. I AM GLAD WE WERE ABLE TO MEET TODAY. I WAS VERY CAREFUL AROUND YOUR PLANTS AND LANDSCAPING. WOW! THE LAWN LOOKS GREAT! YOU ARE DOING A SUPER JOB OF MOWING. THE LAWN LOOKS GREAT. YOUR GOOD WATERING AND MOWING PRACTICES ARE ENHANCING THE COLOR AND THICKNESS OF YOUR LAWN. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. YOU LAWN WOULD BENEFIT FROM MOWING MORE FREQUENTLY. THE COMMON RULE OF THUMB IS TO MOW OFF NO MORE THAN 1/3 OF THE GRASS BLADE AT ANY ONE TIME DURING PERIODS OF PEAK GROWTH, THIS MAY REQUIRE MOWING EVERY FOUR OR FIVE DAYS. PLEASE HAVE YOUR MOWER SHARPENED (John just replaced the blade with a new one). A DULL MOWER BLADE SHREDS THE GLASS BLADES. A SHARP BLADE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO THE OVERALL HEALTH , COLOR, AND APPEARANCE OF THE LAWN. YOUR LAWN IS THICK AND FULL WITH NO BARE AREAS EVIDENT (we removed a crab-apple tree last fall and still have a huge hole in our front lawn). THIS MEANS YOU SHOULD EXPECT VERY NICE RESULTS FROM YOUR PROGRAM THIS YEAR. TODAY I TREATED YOUR LAWN FRONT SIDES AND BACK .THIS APPLICATION CONTROL GRUB INSECTS DISEASES . FOR THE BEST RESULTS THIS TREATMENT SHOULD BE THOROUGHLY WATERED IN TODAY IS THE RESULTS THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING US

I learned several things today:

1) We should mow every 3 days. Then stop for 5. Then mow again but not before measuring the grass. I'm so confused...
2) Our ex-crab-apple tree was hiding an Einstein-Rosen bridge into another dimension that closes whenever no one is looking. Everyone knows how unstable and unpredictable worm-holes are. Which is probably why...
3) Worms are taking over our lawn, and our grass will probably get the plague. I blame the worm hole, obviously.

If I were you, I'd stay away from our yard.