Better Late Than Later

The moment took me by surprise. I thought we had more time before I had to have The Talk with my daughter. About the kind of people we really are.

It started innocently enough.

She asked me why, with just a few days left until our vacation, nothing had been packed yet. At first, I dismissed her breezily, with a reassuring “Oh, don’t worry, we still have a few days! It will get done!”

I thought that would be the end of it. But no. She persisted.

“Don’t we have a lot of things to pack? When do you think you’ll start?”

This was more serious than I thought.

“I can help you,” she pressed.

“But honey. We have time.”

“Only a few days. We should get started.”

OH God. It hit me. What if she’s not like us? What if….?

I wondered if it might be time. Yes, it was a few years before I had anticipated, but perhaps she is old enough to handle the truth about us. And so I began.

“Sweetie, see if you can say this word: Pro-cras-tin-a-tion.

I thought about how to take her through it slowly. The whole truth. How some families planned and did things in advance. And how we, despite our best efforts, are not those people.

We have tried to be those people. My husband and I have, at times, put in massive, valiant effort with the energy of a thousand burning suns. We have even seen fleeting glimpses of success and danced in the fringes of being those people. But, in the end, we were just pretending.

It’s just not in our souls to be finished in advance with any task. To be early. To have down time. To be the first to arrive anywhere. Ever.

Yes, it has worsened over time with the addition of children. But, if I’m being honest, the history is long and consistent.

  • Homework. This seems like standard operating procedure for kids, yes? I assumed it was normal to finish my high school assignments at my locker between classes.
  • College applications. Not to make excuses, but come on. Every kid in the history of everywhere put off this torturous process. OK, so maybe I put the finishing touches on my essay while weighing the package at the post office. This is attention to detail, folks.
  • Term papers. OK, fine, at this point it’s fair to say that I probably have a problem. I thought it was adorable when we received a syllabus on day one of class that pointed out paper due dates for the entire semester. I didn’t forget, I just chose to spend my time on other, more productive college pursuits. Beer comes to mind. Also, I was pretty proud of that time I completed an entire 19-pager in one night. The advanced technology of the Brother Word Processor was the ultimate enabler.
  • Work assignments. When potential employers asked me if I worked well under pressure, they had no idea what they were signing up for by putting me on the payroll. In retrospect, they probably just wanted to make sure I wouldn’t crack at the 11th hour. They had no way of knowing that of course I wouldn’t crack then — because I would not have started the project yet. It was still in my “concept phase.”
  • Wedding prep. Now that I had come to grips with my procrastination destiny AND the fact that I was marrying someone else just like me, I did the smart thing: I actually hired a wedding planner. And she almost shot me. Just because we wanted to pull together a NYC wedding with 200 people (don’t ask) in five months. Pffft. Come on — plenty of time.
  • Vacation planning. Let me just sum this up by saying Me + Disney World has been an unlikely love affair. I’m pretty sure when I phone in with my 1,448 reservation requests about 30 days before departure, I’m driving the lovely employee on the other end of the phone to slug whiskey out of her mouse ear hat while gritting “Have a magical day” through her teeth.
  • Baby prep. Registries? Product research? Labor classes? All with a “firm” nine month timetable? Good times, my friends. Good times.
  • Kids’ enrollment in (insert any activity here). What do you mean, everyone signed up for fall soccer in June and summer camp in February? There’s a late fee? What? I need to buy snow boots in September? What?
  • Household chores and pretty much everything else. You get the idea.

I could go on and on, but I’m tired because I started this post much later than I had planned. And I should be packing for vacation.

See?

I operate best under pressure.

I have uttered this mantra more times than I can count, more out of obligation than accuracy. The truth is that I’m a reluctant and unreformed procrastinator. I don’t embrace it but I am learning to accept it.

Our destiny as a last-minute, late-to-everything family is pretty much set in stone at this point. Basically, my husband and I wake up on the weekends realizing we are already late for something that’s happening five miles away in about seven hours. We just are.

And my sweet daughter deserves to know that this is the make up of her DNA. From both sides.

But, as I look at her pulling out her little princess backpack and dutifully choosing her vacation outfits to place inside before I’ve even done the laundry that I’ll ultimately pack for myself, I wonder if we’ve achieved the impossible. Perhaps my husband I have canceled each other out.

Could it be?

Could we have actually created humans who don’t procrastinate?

I can’t tell you because I got a D in AP Bio after waiting too long to study for my exam on the Genetics chapter. But apparently, there is hope.

 

 

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August, Can We Still Be Friends?

Welcome, August. I want so much to tell you how good it is to see you, old friend. Because so much magic happens on your watch every year, even though you signal to my brain that we only have this one final month of summer left before school starts in early September.

But, August, each year you seem to get more aggressive in barreling toward fall, toward school, toward tasks and the routine of getting us back to business. And the truth is that I want my old Augusts back, the ones from my childhood where a full month was still a pure 31 days and nights of all that summer vacation brings.

August, I could learn to love you again. If you could just let me finish up what summer means to me.

Because I haven’t yet caught a firefly in a jar for my kids.

I haven’t marveled nearly enough at how late the sun stays out.

I haven’t even bought that pair of flip-flops I wanted.

No, August, I’m not ready for the retail displays of fleece and Uggs and leather boots and jackets.

Not ready for the fall PTO sign ups, the scheduling of which day we’ll do soccer or swimming or ballet.

Certainly not ready to give up ice cream and popsicles and the smell of my grill and the sight of that rainbow of fresh fruit.

Not mentally prepared to abandon sleeveless sundresses for my daughter and me, and easy onesies for the baby. And bare feet for us all. The very thought of socks and closed-toed shoes makes me shudder. Say it isn’t near. Say that I have time to try that other bright pink nail  color on my toes and not the deep dark hues of grays and purples and browns.

You see, August, I still have two (yes, two!) legitimate family summer vacations I haven’t even taken yet. I have packing to do. Twice. I have more sunscreen to buy. I am not thinking about unpacking or vacation ending or looking back on it. Not even a little. The snapshots that I will etch into my memory and put into photo books haven’t even been made yet. This house is still ripe with the anticipation of new destinations and shorelines with friends and family.

August, I don’t want to spend your days filling in my calendar with the school closings for the year. I want to hang damp beach towels and bathing suits on my deck rail and smell the faint chlorine and sunscreen and perhaps the rain left on them.

Surely you understand that there are meats I haven’t yet grilled, sangria recipes I haven’t tested and frozen yogurt combos I’ve been meaning to try. I still feel like putting my coffee over ice is a seasonal novelty. I haven’t had a single lobster roll yet. And we haven’t begun to grow remotely tired of the new deck lights strung overhead as we eat and drink. Our new fire pit barely shows the wear of the s’mores it has created and the late night cocktails it has beckoned with friends and neighbors.

The camp backpacks we were issued have hardly been broken in. And my older two kids have plenty of places on their summer wish lists left to visit. The zoo awaits us, August. So does our annual trip to Daddy’s office, not to mention more mini golf and the boardwalk rides of our beloved Jersey Shore. There are many more waves to jump over and outdoor showers to take after the sand stays between our toes and the taste of salt water sticks to our lips.

August, I’m just getting used to the down time that allows me to give the baby the two naps a day he deserves. This sweet boy has enjoyed a summer not dictated by his next schlep in a car seat to pick up or drop off a sibling somewhere. I imagine that his tiny head can barely even fathom how much time he has to explore his newfound mobility and just play. If you rush us, August, he’s right back in that car seat and we’re just not ready yet. There are blocks to stack and steps to take and mashed fruits to wear.

Yes, I know you have certain obligations to prepare us for school and I have made a few related purchases here and there. You would be remiss if you didn’t present any of this to me. But I feel like you take it just a little further every year. I’m not sure you need to associate yourself with corduroy or Halloween. Don’t you want to be all about shorts and sundresses and deck chairs?

I’m here to tell you, August — as your old friend — that it’s not too late to reclaim all of this as yours. Don’t let April or May take it from you.

I know it’s possible for us to remain good friends and rediscover how things used to be between us. So, come find me while I get ready for two beach vacations. Visit me as I grill at home and listen for the ice cream truck on my street.

And, by all means, join me over the next 31 days on the deck, barefoot and sipping summery evening drinks under the long-lasting sunlight.

 

 

 

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Back it Up

The colors of the world look a little sharper today. The birds are singing a little louder. My arms look slightly thinner in photos (not really). It’s a lovely, lovely day.

Because I have my computer back.

I’ll give you a minute to finish rolling your eyes. Are we good? OK.

Long story short, the universe was trying to tell me something on Mother’s Day when my daughter began my alleged day of rest with a vomit bender. And then, in a span of 12 hours, the following items broke: My refrigerator, my Keurig {again} and my laptop. Happy Mother’s Day to me! I know it should have been abundantly clear how to prioritize those repairs but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with that. What’s wrong with a few days of non-perishables for dinner?

Fine, the fridge would be fixed first. Fine.

As for the Keurig and the laptop, I ask you: How does one choose? It’s like trying to pick a favorite child. Out loud, I mean.

Thankfully, my husband was able to work some magic on the Keurig, which entailed something about YouTube instructions, bargaining with God and just repeatedly unplugging the damn thing until it complied. I don’t think this was the official approach in their FAQ section, but desperation spoke to us.

This left only the lifeline of my computer to be resuscitated. Things looked bad.

 

I’ll spare you the drama of my Genius Bar encounter when they basically asked me to sign my life away and agree that they are not responsible for any of my data. There was also some fine print about, with the push of a button, they are going to wipe it all out and OMG THE BACK UP BETTER HAVE BEEN WORKING ALL THIS TIME.

{Are you backing up your computer? Please say you are.}

I signed the terms on the shiny retina screen. I braced myself and watched as they pressed the button and wiped everything out — my photos, my documents, all of it. And that didn’t fix the issue. They were going to have to keep the machine for a while.

They should serve shots at the Genius Bar. Just saying.

The trauma of leaving my beloved Mac behind was cushioned only by the fact that the Apple store is surrounded by some pretty magnificent shops in the mall. I fretted over my laptop and wondered about its uncertain fate and then I — oh, are those shoes on sale?

The Geniuses called me after four days in my new shoes to tell me to pick up my laptop. Much like a medical follow-up, they would not discuss their findings over the phone, so you can imagine my anxiety. Speaking of anxiety, I was determined to find a window in which I could drag as few children as possible to my Genius follow-up. And so it took another week before I realized that was never going to happen and the entire crew came with me. Just to make the experience as chaotic as possible.

The Geniuses told me they were able to repair my laptop! All hail the Geniuses! And then I was told I still had 52 days left on my warranty, so everything was covered. Wait, I had a warranty? Things were going my way.

If there’s one way to come spiraling back to Earth pretty quickly, it’s having the Genius remind me that it’s now up to me to restore my data. All of it. Right now, she tells me, the laptop is just a blank slate.

{OK, really, you’re backing up, right?}

Seriously, there are no shots at the Genius Bar? This place is poorly named.

After asking about why I had three shoe purchases in the bag with my newly retrieved laptop, my husband then reminded me that this is exactly why we had a back-up system.

We’re geniuses too! Right?

Then he reminded me that we’ve been having periodic “issues” with the back up system and there’s really only one way to know if it has actually been working. Had I not been through enough first world technology trials in the last few weeks? I left him with the task of “making  it happen or else we go on a family Entenmann’s strike,” or something like that.

And so it was 15 days from when my computer gave me the finger until today, when I sit here typing with seemingly full functionality and birds singing.

It was a long 15 days. Sure, I had access to my phone but I’m not really to be trusted anywhere near an Auto Correct setting.

And while everyone loves a good and righteous tale of going unplugged and how it was magical, refreshing, etc, whatever — I’m just going to say it.

It’s not fun and freeing to be unplugged.

It’s overrated.

Go ahead and sing the songs of how motherhood is better when you unplug. How you can stop and smell the roses and be more present. You know when I’m more present? When I have access to the tools that make my parenting machine hum with (some) efficiency. I can look at my recipe on my computer, OR I can wing it, turn it into a teachable moment that I savor and scrapbook, and apologize that the end result is largely inedible. If God wanted me to parent with carrier pigeons or an abacus, he would have made my last name Ingalls and put me in two braids with a floral frock.

So, thank you Geniuses. I’m happy to have my technology back. Just start offering shots while people wait.

{And go back your data up! Yes, now.}

 

 

 

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The Rules of the Road

I’m lucky that my husband does not travel very often for his job. There was a time — an exceptionally crazy time — in our lives when he did, and it was nearly the end of me. I’m grateful that those days are behind us. At least for now.

He did have a trip this week to Los Angeles for the annual big convention in his industry. Since we are in New Jersey, it seems that a jaunt to LA really isn’t “worth it” for any less than four days. So off he went.

Now, because I met my husband while working for the same employer a million years ago, I know his business well and have attended said convention. So I know that, while there are “meetings” and “networking opportunities,” let’s just call a spade a spade and say that he has just enjoyed nearly a week of fancy dinners, cocktail parties and shows. But it’s all for work, so it carries a Mission Critical label. With a side of steak.

Left here in the sheer chaos of the house alone with three kids, I just have a few ground rules for my husband’s business travel.

Do not call or FaceTime us from a fancy dinner or party. We love to hear from you when you’re on the road. Really, we do! But dude, it’s like fucking Lord of the Flies up in here because we are out of ketchup for our chicken nuggets, so try to abandon the not-so-faint clink of wine glasses in the background and step outside to call home. Bonus points if you can first finish that mini shrimp rangoon that was passed to you on a pretty napkin while I negotiated even distribution of the last Chips Ahoy without bodily harm. At least pretend to be in a conference room working on an Excel spreadsheet. Throw us a bone.

Do not complain that you are tired. Was it the late night parties? The early morning knock on the door with your breakfast room service? Or maybe the phantom pain in your rib from the absence of Parent/Child H-Formation Sleeping. Doesn’t matter. Don’t even say it out loud. Repeat after me: You are not tired. You actually don’t know what tired is this week.

Accept that, upon your return, you will be solely in charge of our children for a still-undetermined period of time. Probably in the 6-9 hour range. I’m working on a fair calculation but I think it involves number of hours spent watching in-flight movies x number of hours of uninterrupted sleep. Times infinity.

Carefully hide any and all evidence of a golf outing incorporated into this trip. Remember the time when you rolled on out of here with your checked luggage in one hand and your golf clubs in the other while I stood in the doorway, agog, with spit-up on my shoulder? I understand that’s how the “networking” goes at these things. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy yourself. OK, maybe I am. But I like that we’ve now made Business Trip Golf the dark secret we no longer discuss. So, thank you for hiding your golf shoes deep in the recesses of your luggage. And I assume you either now rent your clubs or carry them out to the car under the cover of darkness the night before your departure. It is the thing of which we do not speak.

Be completely available for any home front technical support on a 24/7 basis. This week, for example, we had serious rainfall here. As in, why did I not get the minivan upgrade option to convert into an ark? Anyway, I was worried about the basement and needed information about the sump pumps. So I’m glad you picked up the Travel Bat Phone to talk me off the ledge about my wine supply potentially being carried away by a moderate current. And then, my beloved Keurig machine started making horrible noises, followed by the equivalent of a Mac White Screen of Death. Me. Three Kids. No coffee. I ask you, does it get any more terrifying? Before interrupting your networking session/Cabernet tasting, I decided to troubleshoot on YouTube. I followed several instructional videos meticulously, to no avail. Thankfully, a helpful if not borderline insane guy on Amazon knew the highly delicate approach of repeatedly unplugging and re-plugging the machine while pushing the power button at a frantic pace. Crisis averted, thanks to ExtremeCaffeineNut007.

Pretend it wasn’t really that much fun. You really have mastered this art over the years and have your talking points down. “Oh, you know, it’s the same old stuff every year.” “It gets old after a while.” Etc. Etc. I’m not listening because we both know it’s utter bullshit. But I appreciate the gesture, honey.

* * *

I know, I’m a total wimp. Plenty of people have spouses who travel regularly for business. Others have loved ones deployed in military service. And of course there are tons of single parents out there as well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I tip my hat to you. I don’t know how you do it.

And yet, I survived, despite my kids’ best efforts to take me down. And we missed my husband. But he better not even think of putting his golf clothes in the laundry pile.

 

 

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Wine & Glue & 100 Days of School

I need gray hair spray.

And a flannel shirt.

And maybe suspenders, I guess.

My son is supposed to dress up like his 100 year-old self, as are all of the kids in his class. You know, for the 100th Day of School celebration, of course.

I have a few questions about this — let me start here:

When did this become a thing? And, more importantly: Why?

Last year, when he was in Kindergarten, I thought the 100th Day of School was an isolated and cute little idea. It was a sweet reason to celebrate your kid’s education and achievements. And then it quickly became far less cute and not so sweet as I found myself separating various shapes of pasta into 100 pieces to be glued onto a giant poster board — in the formation of a volcano.

I might have started cursing somewhere around the 61st piece and it was downhill from there. If I could have produced actual hot lava for this volcano, my first order of business would have been to throw myself into it.

This wasn’t cute — it was stupid. Of course I didn’t say so, but even my then five year-old son was cynical about the point of all this.

I told him with forced enthusiasm that his 100 Days project was really coming together. And wasn’t he excited for the crown?

The crown?

Yes! A crown! You get to wear it all day at school tomorrow.

Why?

Because it’s the 100th day of school!

Oh. So, it’s the last day? School’s over?

Uh, no, silly! It’s only February!

Is it close to the last day?

Not exactly, honey.

How many days are left, then?

80. I think the school has to be open 180 days.

So what’s the party for again?

The 100th day! {OMG, I can’t keep this up much longer. My face hurts from this false excitement. Wow, my eyebrows are actually cramping from their overly arched position. Is that possible?}

We get a party and a crown?

Yep!

Uh, because we’ve gone to school?

For 100 days!

Uh huh.

Buddy, I think there will be cookies too!

Cookies?

Yes!

OK, fine. A cookie party for going to school all these days.

Great! Let’s finish gluing the last 39 pieces of pasta onto this board! 

{Giant glass of wine is refilled by hand covered in glue/pasta mixture. Side note: Why have I not glued my wine glass to my hand before? It really is far more efficient than the whole put down/pick back up routine.}

* * * * *

And I thought that was the end of this nonsense. I thought that the hand glued to my wine glass would not need to complete another such project once we entered first grade.

And then my son came home last week with an ominously blank long-ass strip of poster board. What in the fresh hell was this?

This, it turns out, was the canvas upon which we were to cut and glue 100 words he can read. For the big celebration.

Another year, another chance to formally glue my wine glass to my hand. And so we searched for the 100 words to cut. I wondered how obvious it would be that 90% of our clippings were from the Babies R Us catalog:

Red

Hot

Sale

 

Or from Us Weekly:

Who

Wore

It

Best

 

We glued. We filled the poster board. 100 words. It did look good, I have to say.

And there was some relief in not having to invent our own project for this. Although, if you find yourself wondering just how you’d like to creatively produce a masterpiece of 100 random items, fear not: There are entire Pinterest boards dedicated to this pursuit, complete with custom t-shirts and the like. You know, when 100 buttons in a snack-sized Ziploc bag won’t suffice, and you don’t really want to part with your collection of 100 wine corks. For sentimental reasons. Hypothetically.

But we’re not done. Now we must dress my son like he is 100 years old for the celebration. I’m thinking a flannel shirt with a photo of how I look in the morning ought to do it.

Not to be left out of anyfuckingthing this winter, the Polar Vortex played a role in the party: Namely, we can’t seem to actually get to the blessed 100th Day of School because of the endless snow days.

When it does happen, sometime around mid-July at this rate, I do hope the kids will make good use of their 100th Day celebration and make crowns for the ones who really deserve them: The parents.

Because:

  • 100 packed lunches.
  • 100 battles over {insert clothing item here}.
  • 100 mornings of miraculously getting everyone out the door on time.

 

But, hey, only 80 more days to go.

Pass the wine glass with the glue, please.

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Ode to the Polar Vortex

Oh Polar Vortex, with your nippy temperatures and pretty snow deliveries. You’re finally bringing us a winter that’s really, well, winter. A perfect season for sledding and comfort food and nights by the fire. It has been so long since we’ve seen a January like this!

I want to thank you, Polar Vortex, for so many things.

  • First, thank you for the critical budgeting skills you’ve taught me! Without you, I wouldn’t know to set aside an unimaginably insane amount of money for my heating bill next month. That’s one less trip to Target for me {OK, maybe three}.
  • And thank you for the newfound appreciation you’ve given me for every single person who lives through the winters in the midwestern part of our country. Those are some hardy people. Or possibly insane. I’m not sure which. I would tip my hat to them but I’m not willing to risk momentary flesh exposure to the elements.
  • Our time management skills have also come a long way, oh Polar Vortex. With the need to put 4-6 layers on my children every day before every departure from our home, including a seven month-old baby, I now have to start getting ready to leave the house before I’ve even returned from my last trip outside. Your endless visit has made my life a constant repeat loop of donning and removing winter gear. I think it would be more time efficient to live with one snow boot, a glove and scarf on at all times, while cursing near my front door.
  • And now, oh joy of joys, I finally have the answer to just how many gloves my children can lose in one winter. I don’t have a final figure yet, but using simple extrapolation skills, I can tell you that it is a multiple of 1,700. If I could feel my damn fingers, I would take up knitting to keep up with the demand.
  • All hail the resourcefulness of winter! Now that I absolutely hate leaving my home, I have managed to create meals out of the most improbable combinations of “ingredients.” Hell no, I’m not dragging three kids to the grocery store — but did you know that cream of mushroom soup + anyfuckingthing at all in a crock pot is actually quite good? Bonus points for making it sound like comfort food. Pinterest that, people.
  • Polar Vortex, I’m forever grateful for how you’ve taken the guesswork out of what the weather will be like day to day. No more pesky climate surprises! Thanks to you, I can just bank on day in and day out of dangerous, bone-chilling frozen tundra. I can easily rely on the steadfast forecast of snow and ice with a chance of more damn drifting snow covered in black ice and some additional snow. You reliable motherfucker.
  • Those sleds I bought for my kids three years ago that have barely been used until now? Since you came to visit, you frosty bitch, they are practically our primary vehicles this winter. Thank you for making them worth their purchase price. Now we look like some hybrid of the Amish and the fucking Ingalls family.

 

It seems my little ode went slightly off track. I’m sorry. I’m just cranky because my 110 year-old house is drafty and my aging, indoorsy dog keeps begging us for a catheter to last him until spring arrives.

I know that by comparison, many parts of the country have it worse. But here’s the thing: Living in New Jersey, I didn’t sign up for this bullshit. What I signed up for was a winter with a few fleeting cold spells and maybe a snow storm or two. I did not check the box that transported my family to Siberia.

And few things could make me wish and pay for a flight with three small kids. But you’ve broken me, Polar Vortex. I’m done. The baby bunting and the mitten bullshit and the frozen minivan door — it has all pushed me over the edge.

I’m fucking going to Disney World. Well, in about two months, anyway. When we get undoubtedly get some global warming, freakishly high  winter temperatures in the mid-70s or something.

 

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The Pumpkinization of America

A few days ago, I posted a little tidbit on Facebook that I feared might get me fired from the Internet. Or from living in America:

I ducked my head and waited for the backlash. I know that PSL Nation is a loyal bunch and they show little mercy.

When I came up for air and peeked online, I found that, interestingly, I’m not alone. That I have allies in this pumpkin overdose disdain. Allies who have some strong opinions. Turns out there are more of us out there than I imagined.

So here’s where this post gets divisive. I mean, you either embrace the pumpkin movement or you wish for its swift and thorough demise. Maybe we can all get along in the end, but first allow me to vent.

 

First of all, if you are Team Pumpkin, let me just say upfront that you win. I totally lose and you totally win beyond the shadow of a doubt. OK? And the truth is that I envy you at this time of year. It must be fucking awesome to be bombarded with a new food option in your flavor of choice every 12-16 seconds. I love chocolate like it’s my paid job and, at this time of year, my options are practically nil in comparison.

Don’t believe me? Let’s just take my Monday morning mid-September errands as a frame of reference:

–Stop #1, Starbucks: Yeah, this is where America’s Pumpkinpalooza started, and we all know it. It’s ground zero for pumpkin flavored treats. And I know by now that, come Labor Day through Christmas, I’m going to be ordering the sole drink in my Starbucks location served up by the barista that’s not a fucking PSL. In fact, I think they called out my beverage today by incredulously saying “Kim? Kim? Your grande NOT PSL is ready.” This was followed by stark silence and then a collective gasp of disbelief by the 39 PSL junkies ready to tackle each other for their seasonal crack with a side of pumpkin cake pops.

 

–Stop #2, Bagel Store:  It’s hard to fuck up a bagel, especially in the greater NYC metro area. And while I could pass on such common favorites as the Everything or the Cinnamon Raisin varieties, I think they’ve earned their place in the line-up over the years. But this morning, as I waited my turn to be served, I had to listen to this mother/daughter exchange:

“I think I want the pumpkin bagel with the plain cream cheese.”

“Or, you could get the plain, or the sesame bagel, with the pumpkin cream cheese.”

“Or I could get both.”

“Pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese? Do you think that will be too much?”

It was a real dilemma they were facing. Honestly, it was a good thing I had already obtained my Starbucks {non-PSL} caffeine fix so that I was able to tolerate this conversation without an inappropriate outburst. I mean, I don’t know what kind of options these two gals were facing for their remaining meals today, but I hope they pulled through.

 

–Stop #3, Trader Joe’s:  I love me some Trader Joe’s seasonal items — but — holy shit. Based on my rough calculations, the store’s inventory is currently 89.8256% pumpkin-based. Pumpkin Butter, Pumpkin Pancake Mix, Pumpkin Spice Country Granola, Pumpkin Ice Cream, Pumpkin Macaroons and — wait for it — Pumpkin Doggie Treats.

OMG, can we please fast forward to the holiday season with the peppermint overdose aisle? Because now, I can’t even enjoy any of the free samples at TJ’s — and that means I have to make my own breakfast at home. Which is bullshit.

 

–Stop #4, Doctor’s Office:  I swear I’m not making this up. I was in the waiting room, when the man next to me phoned his daughter to tell her he had indeed found the Pumpkin Spiced M&Ms at the grocery store. I honestly thought I was being Punk’d at this point. Who messes with something as pure and good and right as M&Ms, for fuck’s sake? Free the M&Ms!

 

–Stop #5, Internet:  By this point, my morning errands were completed, it was clear that it was me against the Pumpkinsphere. I arrived home and set about my urgent tasks {aka firing up the computer}, only to have my senses attacked by an email from Pinterest pointing me to their suggested seasonal boards. Among them, of course: EVERYTHING PUMPKIN.

Like a moth to the flame of defeat, I clicked on over to see what inspirational culinary treats awaited me from the Church of Pumpkin Disciples:

  • Pumpkin Cheesecake Crepes
  • Pumpkin Crisp
  • Boozy Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate {With key words like “boozy” and “chocolate,” I’ll admit it gave me pause — but, still, no.}
  • Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
  • Pumpkin French Toast Bake! {exclamation point is theirs, not mine — clearly}
  • Pumpkin Pie Martinis {Hmmmm. Yeah, still no.}

It goes on and on and on. And beats the issue to death. As Pinterest tends to do.

Anyway. It’s no use. Operation Pumpkin Domination just getting worse every year and it’s apparently the new world order {fall edition}.

But don’t feel bad for me. Because you know who I feel bad for? Apples and their fan base. Apples were the perennial darling of autumn. But that shit’s over. Yeah, sure, many of us go apple picking and we eat apple pie and a few similarly flavored items. But, if we’re being honest, apples got screwed over by pumpkins. Big time. And their day is done.

The whole thing is fascinating, really. I should just be grateful that another member of the gourd or squash family didn’t obtain this level of stardom. Can you imagine?

So, I guess I’ll conclude my rant with a thin and insincere congratulations to Team Pumpkin. Enjoy your season in the spotlight, folks. Because, before you know it, PSL and all its culinary cousins will be a distant memory.

And I will be all hopped up on peppermint bark and lattes.

 

 

 

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Cicada Central

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not really a nature girl, per se. Not up close, anyway.

For those of you who were around for the Fordeville Swarm Incident of 2012, you’ll recall that I was terrorized by tens of thousands of honey bees and I thought the End of Days was going down in my backyard. Or maybe a Candyman sequel.

Well, it turns out that whole thing was nothing but a warm-up act. Sort of an Amateur Night. Because, if you really want to freak me the hell out, you’ll make my yard the Global Headquarters for the 17 Year Brood II Cicadas.

It’s a crazy sex party outside my window.

A loud, messy, shameless sex party.

And these guys have been waiting 17 years for some action.

It feels more like a horror movie. Especially when you think about this stat: There are as many as one billion emerging cicadas per square mile. Put another way: Cicadas may outnumber humans by a ratio of 600:1.

What?!

I grew up in New Jersey and I honestly don’t remember any of this cicada madness from my childhood. But it appears that the property on which my current home sits is my own personal Poltergeist of insect scenarios. Because I really never pictured myself doing things like sweeping hundreds of bugs off my front porch and backyard swing set multiple times a day. It’s just not something you think will ever be in your Parental Job Description.

“Mom! Mom! Get the broooooooom! Sweep them away! I can’t walk to the car! MOMMMMMMMMM — there’s another one and another and  another and — ewwwwwww, don’t step on that one. OH NO, you stepped on it and now it’s all mushy on the steps and I can’t walk there. And there are a few more, and what number comes after 12,000?”

I try to set a decent example for my kids. Honestly, it’s like being in the running for a Best Actress Oscar.

  • What I say, with relative calm, while screaming on the inside: “Oh, come on, they don’t hurt anyone. Don’t worry about them. But they sure are everywhere, huh?” 
  • What I really think: “HOW MANY MORE DAYS? HOW MANY MORE DAYS? OMG, MAKE THEM GO AWAY BEFORE I GIVE BIRTH SO I CAN TAKE THIS BABY FOR A WALK SOMETIME IN ITS FIRST MONTH OF LIFE.”

I’m practically Meryl Streep. I know.

Because, seriously, the trunks of my trees look like they’re moving sometimes. As does my lawn, where the nasty little spawn continue to crawl out of holes in the ground in huge numbers.

 

And now, I have a few questions about this whole phenomenon. Some may be rhetorical.

  • What. The. Fuck. Mother. Nature?
  • Is this revenge for the honey bee removal? It is, right? Some sort of twisted karma insect vendetta? {If so, I repent. Just make this stop.}
  • Why did I ever leave Manhattan? Whyyyyyyy?
  • Can’t we find a small patch of land to declare a Cicada-Free Zone?
  • Why are parts of my town wholly unaffected? Do they pay extra taxes or are they just better people?
  • Where can I order a residential bunker to be installed under my home for the next month? And will it be temperature-controlled enough to store wine?

The carcasses crunch under my feet. The mating call sounds like an ongoing car alarm. The birds are all flying around with cicadas hanging out of their beaks. It’s like National Geographic on steroids.

I know, they do no harm.

I know, it’s a miracle of nature.

I know, The Circle of Life. All of that.

Or, it’s my personal definition of Hell — much like being locked in a room with an endless loop of Taylor Swift songs.

Go ahead — tell me I’m overreacting. That’s fine. I’m sure it seems that way. After all, they are just harmless bugs having big orgy in my yard. I shouldn’t begrudge them their moment. And they’ll be gone soon, not to return for 17 years.

So when the summer of 2030 arrives, you will find me on vacation in a bug-free land. Or securely tucked away in the awesome wine bunker I had installed back in good old 2013.

 

 

 

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The Curious Consumer & Restoration Hardware

 

Dear Restoration Hardware:

As a consumer goods company, I have to imagine you value market feedback about your products.

I recently received the latest edition of your Baby & Child catalog.

My, it is stunning. So chic and luxe.

And, after turning each super-fabulous page that made the paper stock of my holiday cards feel like unadulterated sandpaper accented with flecks of glass, I do have a few questions for you.

  • First and foremost, how do you feel about your employees drinking on the job? I ask because it’s clear — after looking at your prices and then making an optometry appointment to have my prescription checked — that your marketing team is probably hitting the bottle. Big time. Possibly with a side of hallucinogenics.
  • I’m also curious about where, exactly, you conduct your focus groups. Is it in a hermetically sealed luxury pod in Beverly Hills? Or perhaps at the Spelling Mansion? Or on the set of The Real Housewives franchise?

But of course I can’t look away. It’s like a car crash. Made of custom tufted silks.

And so I’ll admit, I did have my eye on a few specific items that I’d like to discuss with you.

Let’s start with this nursery. I am, after all, only about a month away from the arrival of my third child and on the hunt for some fresh ideas.

{Image courtesy: Restoration Hardware}

 

This was an eye-opener for me. All this time, I thought that my taste was more of the sensible/everyday/shabby chic {minus the chic}, but I see that I have been overlooking the Royal Infant/Salute to Will and Kate theme. Very interesting, indeed. Just a few questions, though:

  • Now, do you find it odd that this crib costs more than the monthly rent on my first Manhattan apartment? No? Maybe it’s just me.
  • If my kid’s personal butler is away on vacation when my order arrives, will you help us set it up? Or is concierge service extra?
  • Why not add a clothing line to the mix? I, for one, am dying to see how a babe living in such a nursery would be dressed. I’m guessing that the onesies I bought in bulk at Target last week might not cut it and may, in fact, burst into flames upon entry of such a room.
  • That’s genuine lead crystal on the sconces, right? Yep, the ones within the reach of a toddler standing up in the crib. Those. I was just trying to figure out the depth of the flesh wound my child might encounter from those pesky glass-to-skin punctures.

 

Moving on to the lighting department. So many choices!

{Image courtesy: Restoration Hardware}

 

Personally, I find this line to be a relief. Because, first of all, I was really worried about having the proper formal lighting scheme under which my young children can see which variety of Goldfish they are eating. It’s also critical for tea parties to have as much crystal as humanly possible in the room. And — bonus! — it works well with my son wielding ninja swords all over the house.

Again, just a few follow-up questions before I proceed with my order:

  • Can I place these on hold long enough to speak with my insurance company about putting additional personal liability coverage on our homeowners policy?
  • How is the child in the photo adjusting to the clear lack of furniture in her room? I mean, does she know that her parents blew all their cash on light fixtures and that’s why she has to sit on a pillow and store her books on the floor? She looks like she’s taking it in stride, although the padded walls give me pause. Is she OK? Or is she writing in that journal about what will prove to be years of pent-up resentment? Maybe just keep an eye on her.

 

Finally, thank you for resolving a major issue that has been pressing on my mind: What furnishings can I buy to help my kids relax?

{Image courtesy: Restoration Hardware}

 

Well, now I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. Were it not for your Vintage Cigar Leather Sofa, my kids would have to suffer the indignities of sitting on adult-sized furniture to unwind after a long day of playing. Where else would they plan their world travels like this young gentleman? I mean, I can’t just have them sitting on the floor while watching Disney, Jr.

Plus, the leather is ideal — I can just brush off most food and drink stains — not to mention blend in anything that a stray marker may leave behind. Truly, this is a lifesaver. And, priced at just under $2,000, the practicality of it really hits home. How the hell have we been getting by without this?

 

Last night, I finished thumbing through your catalog. But I must say that this been an education — not only in decor, but in home equity loans as well. I can only hope that you will begin issuing seasonal editions so that I have new decor aspirations at my fingertips on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Finally, let me offer my congratulations. Your latest line manages to make Pottery Barn Kids look reasonable and prudent, with bargain basement pricing. That’s no small feat.

Thanks in advance for addressing my concerns. If you start manufacturing strollers that will surely outperform my 2010 car, please put me on your mailing list straight away.

I must be the first to know.

 

 

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