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Sunday
May132012

The Mother Load

Today is the day when the world acknowledges the wonderful work we do. Mothers, by default, shoulder the responsibility of raising fine young adults who will be productive members of society. This is not easy and pulling it off successfully without your little darlings hating you at the end of it takes real finesse. The burden of Motherhood is the obligation to ALWAYS put your children first, cater to their every need, protect them from danger and help make their dreams come true without raising spoilt little brats. They will then go on to produce and raise their own talented and worthwhile offspring. (Of course they won't do this the way YOU would have done it, but you will be smart enough NOT to interfere.)

Do NOT be fooled, once your children leave home the job is FAR from over. They will still require unending support whilst being highly irritated with any unwanted or unsolicited advice or help. If you are the mother of boys it is EXTREMELY important to live in a desirable location. Don't delude yourself with ideas that your sparkling personality or home baked lasagna will be enough to lure them home for regular visits. If you live in the Sunshine State or have a cool apartment in New York or London you can be sure that they will turn up several times a year with family and friends in tow; but if you happen to live in Detroit or South Dakota don't be surprised when they spend every major holiday with HER family in California.

Just like whiney needy children, whiney needy parents are unattractive. Practice being upbeat and busy with lots of interesting stories to tell whenever they happen to call and NEVER EVER imply that it has been rather a long time since they last made contact (even if it was three years ago.) ALWAYS sound surprised and pleased to hear from them because that Jewish mother guilt thing DOES NOT endear you to them or encourage them to call more often. If your own mother does this to you then you will know EXACTLY what I am talking about and if your own mother is perfect then you have ABSOLUTELY no excuse.

Mothers worry. We just can't help it. It's unavoidable, an incurable disease that we catch the day our babes are born and which slowly develops into a terrifying addiction that cannot be cured without a lot of very expensive therapy. Even when our children are independent adults and functioning perfectly well without ANY parental guidance we are predisposed to randomly lapse into neurotic mother mode and to drive our kids CRAZY over really stupid stuff. Even as we are telling them WHAT to do and HOW to do it we KNOW we sound totally RIDICULOUS but we just can't get past the place where we feel it's our duty as good mothers to do it. We can only hope that our children will learn to laugh at our nuttiness and will continue to love us anyway, as we have had to learn to do with OUR own Mothers. 

At the end of the day no matter how whackadoo we think our Moms are, if we can look in the mirror and be proud of what we see we have to acknowledge that they are at least partly responsible.


Saturday
Apr142012

A Battle of Wheels

My car lease is up and so I need to make arrangements for a new one. In most households this would be a very simple exercise:

Go to car showroom

Select car

Spend most of the day negotiating the terms (OK not so simple)

Return home with new car

However this is not the case in our house because unlike standard domestic issues anything involving cars attracts the attention of my husband. Now in case you didn't grasp the concept from the beginning it is MY car lease that is up therefore the new car will be for ME to drive and therefore I feel that the decisions regarding this car should be MINE.

WRONG.

We typically lease Hondas and we are considering the CRV however the base model (which is within our budget) comes with wheels that my husband considers so HIDEOUS that the thought of having to see them on his driveway is enough to give him an aneurysm. Apparently these wheels are SO offensive to him that he cannot even contemplate driving past them each night as he puts his own car in our garage. Now although I understand aesthetics (I'm a designer after all) when it comes to cars I am a complete philistine. I can barely distinguish one make of car from another and have regularly tried to get into cars that are not my own on the basis that they are the same color and parked roughly where I remembered leaving mine. 

So do I care what shape the wheels are? NOT AT ALL. The problem is that adding the wheels that my husband wants will raise the price of the lease considerably and frankly I would rather have leather seats which we also can't afford. 

Last night things got even more complicated when Rockstar popped over to drop off the dog and joined my husband at the computer researching car options for me. Every time I voiced an opinion I got shouted down by the two of them and told that since I know absolutely NOTHING about cars I should leave this very important decision to the experts. I actually don't have a problem with them selecting my car but told them I would at LEAST like to be consulted on the color to which my husband replied "Yes Darling you can have any color you want as long as it's silver." 

Thank goodness Genius is not home because he would be adding to the complication of this decision as he does not like SUV's. He was HORRIFIED when he heard I was planning to switch my current Accord for one and in true Genius style has a whole list of well researched practical and safety facts that support his argument. Actually since he will have to drive my car when he is home from college he has more of a reason to be involved than the other two men in my life. Apparently I am now getting a Mazda or a VW as there are great deals on both and the wheel designs are not going to embarrass my husband which is only a plus because he won't mind being seen with the car when I ask him to run out and fill it with gas.

I am now starting to feel a little rebellious and am secretly planning to get a red car. Not quite sure how I will be able to get this past the car Nazis but I am willing to play dirty if need be. I have never owned a red car and as Rockstar pointed out last night I will probably be sick of the color LONG before the lease is up but I don't care, this has become a battle of wills and in at least one area I am DETERMINED to triumph.


Sunday
Feb122012

Tomayto Tomaahhto

I don't know what is going on with my husband and I, but after twenty-five years together in relative harmony we seem to be bickering about EVERY LITTLE THING. Generally we do not argue much (perhaps one major meltdown a year) but all of a sudden we can't seem to communicate without sniping at each other over the most RIDICULOUS issues. Last week the washing machine (which has been broken for about six months) was making its eeeeeeeeeeech eeeeeeeeeeech eeeeeeeeeech noise and Mufasa insisted it was too full. When I explained that in fact it was only HALF full but needed to be fixed he got all ratty and insisted that it WAS JUST TOO FULL. 

After that unpleasant episode we moved on to other household topics that normally wouldn't merit discussion and managed to disagree on which side of the sink the wet plates should be stacked on, how often dish towels should be re-used, why we had run out of tea bags and the firm favorite - the correct temperature setting for the AC.

Considering that we both live and work together we get along AMAZINGLY well which I believe in part has been due to an early agreement that he is the boss at work and I am the boss at home. However after he had strayed into my territory and felt entitled to air his views on my appliances I felt COMPLETELY justified when I walked into his office and noticed the following errors on the rendering he was working on:

"The rug is too big and the chandelier is too small."As you can imagine this did not go down very well although he did begrudgingly make the changes.

The whole situation was very distressing, normally we spend most of our time poking fun at each other and laughing so I decided to confront him with the suggestion that he was turning into a CANTANKEROUS OLD BASTARD to which he responded that I was turning into a MISERABLE OLD WITCH. 

Things reached a crescendo last Wednesday night when he was packing for his trip to Hong Kong. I should have known it was coming when he started wildly flinging things out of the laundry basket and stomping round the house muttering under his breath. Sure enough within minutes he appeared at the foot of our bed (where I was trying to sleep) and accused Genius (who went back to college last week) of taking all his underwear. At that point I just exploded, pointing out that Genius has NO interest in Mufasa's underwear (which is black and from JC Penny) as he has his OWN underwear (which is RED and from Urban Outfitters.) As the argument reached a crescendo I desperately dialed Genius who fortunately didn't pick up and thus unknowingly spared himself from becoming embroiled in an ugly scenario with two completely crazy parents.

Unable to prove myself correct I stomped off to the guest bedroom in total disgust and lay there sulking until the Cantankerous Old Bastard finally softened and came in to make up with me. We then made a pact NOT to argue any more about stupid stuff and to go back to being KIND to each other. 

The new order has been super easy to adhere to as my husband got on a plane the following day and we are now in the throes of Lovey-Dovey-Missing-You e-mails. Nothing like a few thousand miles of separation to repair a relationship. Let's see how long it lasts once we are reunited in an eight hundred square foot apartment in Hong Kong for six weeks.


Saturday
Jan282012

Fifty is Fabulous, Fifty is Fabulous, Fifty IS FABULOUS

Are You convinced yet?

I'm not sure if I am which is a shame because tomorrow is my fiftieth birthday. As of this moment I am still a forty-something, which just sounds SO, SO much younger than fifty. To be honest I've been dreading this birthday for at least five years which is ridiculous because as anyone (younger than you) will proclaim "It's just a number." Secretly they are dreading their OWN fiftieth birthdays but take major comfort from the fact that you got there first. 

However, I recently encountered someone who inspired me to change my approach. I met Pollyanna on our cruise to Hawaii, she is cute as pie, has a ray of sunshine personality and a positive attitude to life. She will also be turning fifty this year, but when I asked her how she felt about the impending disaster (expecting some shared commiseration and sisterly bonding chats about wrinkles and hemorrhoids) she shocked me by responding that she was INCREDIBLY excited about the Big Event and had NEVER looked forward to a birthday so much in her WHOLE life! WOW, that certainly made me think that perhaps the only thing wrong about my turning fifty was my attitude.

Meanwhile all the plans I made for my birthday have evaporated in a cloud of dust (or rather a shroud of bugs) My Dearest Darling has had a week of kidney stones followed by three days of flu forcing me to cancel both our Atlanta weekend AND my champagne birthday brunch. Fortunately my brother sent me a Nordstrom gift card with an insane amount of money on it so I have been out all morning walking round the store with a HUGE grin on my face and a bolshy attitude ie. Don't judge me by my sweaty gym clothes I can afford ANYTHING I want in this store. Nothing like a bit of retail therapy to beat the (50th) birthday blues.

This birthday is certainly a milestone and a reminder that my time here is not eternal so I had better make the most of it. So my fiftieth year resolution is Carpe Diem. After all I may not look fifty and I certainly don't feel fifty but by golly I AM FIFTY.


Wednesday
Jan252012

Kidney Stones

Men are absolutely TERRIBLE patients. A minor male cold will put considerable strain on the most stable of marriages. So if you happen to be in close proximity to a man who actually has something seriously wrong with him you have my UTMOST sympathy. Last week my husband had kidney stones. Yes I know it is very very painful but before it was even diagnosed (and we thought it was a common-or-garden backache) I knew I was in for a rough ride. Nursing is not my bag as I really don't like anything that is too needy; even houseplants annoy me because I don't want to feel obligated to water them every day. So when faced with my husband in extreme agony and wanting me to administer to his aches and pains I was ready to head for the hills. 

After the most hideous night of running up and down stairs every fifteen minutes to microwave heat packs and literally getting two hours sleep I was only too happy to decamp to the ER and let the professionals deal with the situation. Little did I know that the fun was only just beginning. This is what I have learned:

1. Don't even consider going to the emergency room unless you dial 911. The huge fee you will pay for the ambulance is well worth it to avoid the FOUR PLUS hour wait you will otherwise incur.

2. When you are finally called into Triage and asked what your pain level is (on a scale of one to ten) the answer is TEN! (or eleven.) Of course only a MAN who has kept his wife awake ALL night because his pain level is OFF the richter scale would then put on a brave face and answer "FIVE" thereby demoting himself to a class of non-urgent cases and a further two hour wait.

3. Once your case has been allocated to the bottom of the pile severe worsening of your symptoms including vomiting with blood will NOT elicit any sympathy from the medical staff or get you in front of a doctor any quicker which is why the ER waiting room is full of people writhing in agony and shouting at anyone who will listen.

4. If you have no medical insurance and are only in the ER to avoid paying a dentist to deal with your toothache then obviously you do know the system inside out and correctly answered 'ten' at the triage stage in which case you will be seen ahead of that poor bastard with (clearly undiagnosed) acute appendicitis.

Fast forward five days and thanks to the help of some powerful narcotics (which no doubt are highly addictive BUT WHO THE HELL CARES?) My husband is now fully recovered and back at work. He arrived at the office yesterday all clean-shaven and smiles, happy to tell his war story to everyone and I heard him announce  "Oh yes it was ABSOLUTELY awful, Kidney stones are more painful than labor!" 

WHAT? IS HE CRAZY? MORE PAINFUL THAN LABOR? I DON'T THINK SO. Only a man who will NEVER have to push out something the size of a BOWLING BALL through a very small hole would tell a room full of women (who have already done that SEVERAL times) that the pain of excreting something the size of a grain of rice through a slightly smaller hole was MUCH WORSE. I'm surprised he wasn't lynched on the spot but I guess allowances were made for the effect that the powerful narcotics have had on his brain. In addition women are such GOOD patients and rarely complain when sick or in pain, they save their energy for nurturing their men.



Sunday
Jan012012

HAPPY New Year :-)

When planning my New Year's Eve dinner for eight  I decided to go for a simple menu that would leave no room for error and would allow me to enjoy the evening rather than stress over the cooking. As most best laid plans go awry it stands to reason that my crab claws were mushy, my beef was overcooked and my FOOLPROOF potato bake was semi-raw. My husband then decided to add hot water to my mushroom and wine sauce after Genius declared that "the gravy was too thick" so naturally I wanted to kill them both. I sat down to eat feeling like a total failure and despite the protestations from my lovely, gracious and polite guests that everything was delicious I couldn't really enjoy the meal. Oddly enough when their oldest son agreed that perhaps the potatoes were a little undercooked I started to feel a bit better - my gripes vindicated.

This past week after a few seasonal spats my husband and I agreed that we were a team and therefore we would subdivide the chores each morning in the true spirit of co-operation and in the interest of maintaining harmony in the home. What I did not realize was that he now thought we were on a level playing field and that his little culinary improvement suggestions would be welcomed. I'm not quite sure how this completely DELUSIONAL state of mind developed but it was guaranteed to piss me off. Seriously this is a man who has no business in the kitchen except for washing my dishes. I am not prepared to reconsider my position until he has completed a year long residential Cordon Bleu course preferably in Paris. In the twenty-five years we have been together the only time he has cooked anything resembling a meal is when I have been out of the country and the boys got sick of take-outs. Apparently on one such occasion (in the middle of a boiling summer) he cooked an ENTIRE Christmas lunch, turkey, roast potatoes etc. and invited all the boys friends over to share it. I know that this meal was produced in the spirit of rebellion and in part to taunt me as I flat out refuse to make turkey at any time other than Thanksgiving and Christmas and he would dearly love to eat it at least once a month. It's amazing how whenever the subject of his cooking skills (or lack thereof) comes up, this story gets wheeled out and the boys get all misty-eyed about Dad's Michelin five-star achievement yet I have cooked (a SUPERIOR) version of this same meal at least FIFTY times and no-one thinks it's a big deal.

Fortunately I still have a sense of humor so we are able to laugh ourselves silly over all these incidents. We spent the rest of the year watching stand-up comedians and so thanks to Michael McIntyre Bill Burr and Rohd Gilbert I was able to welcome in 2012 in a state of great joy. Laughter really IS the best medicine for most situations including acute indigestion and family spats.

Happy New Year.


Saturday
Dec242011

T'was The Night Before Christmas.......................

T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house

Not a creature was sleeping except for MY SPOUSE.

The stockings needed stuffing but he didn't care

He was peacefully resting, it seemed so unfair.


I had baked and I'd Roasted, my fingers burned red.

While visions of pinching him danced in my head.

Replete from the dinner and triple nightcap

He had settled right down for his long Winter's nap.


When back in the kitchen there arose such a clatter

I thought he'd jump up and ask "what was the matter?"

But nothing could wake him, no flood, fire or flash

No soft muttered curses or glasses I'd smash.


I banged every saucepan and made SUCH a noise

but got no attention from him or the boys.

Then what to my wondering eyes should appear?

But a bottle of sherry from Christmas last year.


Without really thinking, I opened it quick

And knocked back four glasses which made me feel sick.

Now even MORE bolshy  and tired of this game

I whistled, and shouted, I called out his name!


"NOW DARLING PLEASE WAKE UP! MOVE YOUR BUTT TO THE KITCHEN!"

"WAKE Poppet! WAKE Stupid! So I can stop bitching"

"Our floors all need mopping, before friends come to call

PLEASE wash away! Wash away! Wash away ALL!"

 

As most overwhelmed wives, will for sure testify

When they meet such an obstacle, they need a good cry.

So up to the bedroom, for sulking I flew

And lay there a sniffling as resentment just grew.


But then from below, I thought I could hear

The crunching of nuts and the swilling of BEER!

I leaped from the bed, some new energy found

Down the staircase in fury I came with a bound.


He was all wet and soapy, from his chest to his knee

But the sight of him working, just filled me with GLEE!

A ragged old tea towel, slung over his back

Dishes rinsed, dried and placed in a sparkling clean stack!


His eyes how they twinkled, his demeanor quite merry

His cheeks were like roses, as he knocked back MY sherry!

The oven was gleaming, the food put away

The place looked quite perfect, so what could I say?


A nice plate of snacks had been laid out for me

My favorite crackers and a ripe wheel of brie.

When I saw what had happened, I was shocked to my belly

He was no longer sleeping in front of the Telly!


In my frilly green apron he looked like an elf

And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself!

A wink of his eye and this man that I wed

Let me know that he loved me though nothing was said.


He spoke not a word, but went back to his work

Of proving forever he's not such a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose

He rolled up his sleeves, to the challenge he rose!


He sprang back into action and got down to his cleaning

Every pot got a scrubbing, Every surface was gleaming.

And he heard me exclaim as I slunk out of sight

Happy Christmas my Darling and thanks for tonight!

Thursday
Dec222011

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Dec. 22nd 7 a.m.

This is the list of things I need to do in the next 48 hours:

1. Gift shopping

2. Gift Wrapping

3. Fill Xmas stockings

4. Food Shopping

5. Food Preparation

6. Laundry (tons)

7. House cleaning

8. Prepare guest bedrooms for arrival of friends

9. Bake mince pies for office

10. Bake Peanut blossoms for Rockstar & Genius

11. Fight with RTG about missing sofa cushions

12. Get repair completed on broken fridge (which would be better if done before # 4.)

13. Order dog food (of course Blew is allergic to anything you can buy in a store and requires a super expensive unique brand available only from Mars.)

14. Order coffee (of course Husband is apposed to anything you can buy in a store and requires a super expensive unique brand available only from Jupiter.)

15. Do the finances (AGAIN! To see if the cash can be stretched a little further - which would be better if done before # 1.)

16. Get repair completed on broken marriage (crumbling under the strain of #'s 1 through 15 and would be better if done before Dec. 25th)

17. Morph myself from bedraggled Cinderella into glamorous Domestic Goddess ready to welcome the boys home on Friday looking relaxed and serene and like all of the above required absolutely no effort.