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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Confessions From the Edge of Hoardingtown

Are you a hoarder or a purger?

I pride myself on being a purger. I ruthlessly throw things away or donate them because clutter drives me batshit crazy.  I torture my husband over the things he likes to keep.  Like those roller blades I have never once seen him wear.  And the boxes of CDs that are pretty much obsolete.

Last year, when we cleared out our storage pod from the basement renovation, I came clean with my confession that I do have a soft spot for hoarding memorabilia and personal artifacts.  I showed you my Time Capsule of Random Crap.  I thought that was the end of the story and the true limits of my hoarding tendencies.  I remained, in my head, a Purger Extraordinaire in all other aspects of life.

Wellllll.   Maybe notsomuch.

In what can only be described as Early Nesting on Steroids, I recently started a massive room-by-room organizational sweep of my entire house.  In this process, I’ve had no choice but to stare my anti-hoarding policy in the eye and see where I’m failing.

It turns out there are a few other caveats to my purging mentality.  

1)  Dish towels and table linens.  I am as intrigued by this as you are.  What the hell?  Looking at the collection I’ve amassed, one might get the distinct impression that I adore doing dishes.  Or that drying my chaffing, soapy hands on a wide array of colored, festive towels is a big priority for me.  One need only spend half a day with me at home to realize this is not so.  Related — and equally mystifying — is the large array of placemats, tablecloths and cloth napkins I’ve uncovered.  You know, for the dinner parties I host about once a year.  Apparently I like to have options with how my formal table is set.  This is beyond comical for someone who serves 99% of the meals here on Disney character plates to people who think their hands make excellent utensils.

2)  Pantry food.  It seems I may have watched one too many apocalyptic movies and have subconsciously decided that my family can outlive any End of Days scenario in perpetuity — as long as we stay in our renovated basement, complete with a fucking mack daddy pantry.  Pasta.  Condiments.  Snack foods.  They exist in copious amounts — it’s like shopping at a mini Costco {without the free samples}.  If I had a therapist, I would clearly be told this all has something to do with optimizing the newly finished basement that nearly drove me to electric shock therapy.  If you or your family are in need of a cereal bar or some goldfish crackers — or even a spare ketchup, please do stop by anytime.  I’ll load you up — complete with a free commemorative dish towel.

3)  Again, memorabilia of any kind.  As previously discussed, this is where I have a borderline clinical hoarding problem.  I won’t spend more time today rehashing the passed notes in high school, the college ID cards or the concert ticket stubs I’ve saved.  Today, let’s cover a newly emergent problem area in the Nostalgia Junkie category: Kids’ art projects.  And by “art,” you know I mean unrecognizable scraps of yarn and cotton balls peppered with paint and some glitter from pre-school that are supposed to come together as a self-portrait of a two year-old.

So I need to discuss this.  Because I started throwing the art projects away yesterday and I was awash with guilt.  Where to draw the line between childhood memory preservation and Hoarders: The Next Generation?  

First, I decided to make some guidelines.  I would not save everything, damn it.  I would only hold onto projects with a handprint or other personalized details {versus the generic Happy Flag Day banner, for instance}.  The rest would go.  Because I’m a purger.

Well, that narrowed my stash down to about 6,000 pieces.  Because I underestimated how much pre-schools use a child’s handprints in their projects. It’s hard to be exact, but the unit of measurement is the shit-ton.

Having made little progress, I began to consider renting out a separate studio apartment to house the kids’ art.

At that point, I should have turned to Pinterest to learn how to turn all of this construction paper madness into a stand-alone Earth-friendly storage system or exquisite door mural.  Instead, I went to Facebook with my problem — where real people hang out — and with my plea not to call in a TLC reality show crew.

I got some great suggestions.  First, I was told to take photos of all the projects and collate them into a lovely commemorative photo book.  I’ve heard this suggestion before and it sounds perfect.  Unless you’re me — the slacker who is still trying to get her 2011 vacation photos into some form of keepsake.  Another Facebook friend jokingly suggested a massive collage — which, in my case, would equate to wallpaper throughout my house, and possibly seeping into my car and neighbor’s garage.  That seemed labor-intensive.

So here’s where I’m at:  The purger in me needs to take over and just start tossing most of it away.  If caught by my kids, I plan to blame Jingle, our Elf on the Shelf.  That little pain in the ass needs to take accountability for something around here.

And this is where you guys come in.  I need two things from you.

  • Do not suggest any “creative and fun ways” to store this stuff.  Listen, I know some of you are crafters.  I respect that.  But I’m not.  I don’t own a glue gun and I don’t have the crafting gene — it’s totally missing from my DNA.  So, please, resist any urge you have to guide me into a life of crafting.  That would make you a hoarding enabler.  And you don’t want that on your conscious, do you?
  • What I really want is this:  Collective, moral, parent-to-parent permission to throw this stuff away.  Not all of it. But, yes, a lot.  I hope you guys will be here for me in my hour of need.  Tell me you threw it away.  Tell me I’m not leaving the precious memories of my kids’ childhoods out in a garbage dump to languish.

I know I said I needed two things from you but I lied.  I need three.

  • Tell me what illogical things you hold on to.  Unless it’s finger nails or cat hair in a jar.  I can’t handle that and I might have to call the local authorities on you.  But if you have a little hoarding secret that’s not pathological, spill it here.  Please.

Because, after a good look at my tendencies, here’s what I think:  I’m still willing to call myself a purger.  Damn right I am.  If I see something and it’s clutter on a surface within my house, it stands no chance.  It’s out the door before you can say “intensive therapy.”  But clearly I should re-examine what I box up and keep in the guest bedroom closet.

Or, ignore it and live by a very wise saying:  Out of sight, out of mind.

{Not to be confused with, “If you know someone with a hoarding problem, please call TLC.”}

_______________

On a separate note, did you see my post over on Scary Mommy last week?  No?!  Please check it out.  Bring your passport, credit card and a diaper bag — I’ll explain when you get there.

 

 

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My Cirque du Soleil Audition

 

The residents of Fordeville are on Flu Lockdown after my son was diagnosed over the weekend.  Since he has sneezed on me no fewer than 487 times in the last week, it’s only a matter of time before I get it.  So, as a warm-up to my clearly impending misery, let me tell you about another form of torture I experienced just before lockdown.

In a few weeks, I’m attending a very nice event that requires me to dress up.  Usually, I embrace something like this.  It gives me an opportunity to go shopping and find something to wear.  And even shower.

It’s a little different at 20 weeks pregnant.  My options are far more limited.  I mean, I don’t want to spend much money on something that will fit me for all of four days.  As for going the Duchess Kate route and famously re-purposing something I already own — well, I don’t think my yoga pants are acceptable, even in a bedazzled state.  And I’m saving my muumuu debut for the town pool at about 38 weeks pregnant.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find a simple, elegant — and of course, black — maternity dress that I felt comfortable in, yet was not shaped like something out of the Breaking Amish Mother-To-Be Collection.

Score!

Having completed my purchase, I felt victorious and relieved.  And then, I saw them.  On my way out of the store — on the rack out of the corner of my eye.

Maternity Spanx.

At first, I was confused.  I mean, what’s the point?   There’s no pulling in this stomach, at least not without industrial or surgical equipment.

But, ever the curious consumer {and clearly stalling to drag out my alone time in the mall}, I took a closer look.

Hmmm.  Why, yes, I would like to pull in my bottom and streamline my legs — all while giving my growing mid-section some forgiving room for expansion.

In what I can only describe as a second trimester moment of low blood sugar, I was sold.  I purchased the Maternity Spanx.

Anxious to witness their slimming effects, I immediately took them out of the package when I got home.  I began to try them on.

After gently sliding them over my hands, I wondered if maybe I purchased the wrong size.  I  mean, I’m no stranger to regular Spanx, but these — they seemed awfully restrictive.  Like barbed wire.

I checked the package.  Nope, I had the right size.  And so I started again, gathering them carefully around my ankles.  The trip from big toe to ankle took about six minutes.

Wow, I had a long way to go.  I checked my calendar to make sure I didn’t have to be anywhere for the next 25 minutes.  Did I have anything on the stove that could burn while I’m trapped in this compromising, chain-gang-like position?

I continued.

By the time the Maternity Spanx were up to my knees, I was winded.  Yes, my legs were slimmer, but I was concerned about my circulation.  I wondered if I should talk to my OB about this before proceeding.  Or maybe a hematologist.

The knee-to-hip journey was perhaps the most challenging.  Now, I work out about three times a week, and yet this task had me in a full sweat.  In fact, I only have to exercise twice this week after the calories I burned in my Maternity Spanx application.  And I feel I’ve earned that extra cookie, if not an alternate spot on the US Women’s Gymnastics team.  Better yet, I think I have just mastered the audition process for Cirque du Soleil.

My God, this was exhausting.  Despite leveraging my years of intensive ballet training, I. just. couldn’t. get. these. things. all. the. way. on.  And where was that bottle of water I swore I had on my nightstand?

Finally, success!  The Maternity Spanx were fully in place.  I took a minute to rest from the cardio impact of my efforts and regroup.   Once I adjusted to the lack of oxygen flowing to my brain, I thought the result was pretty good.  I looked at least eight ounces lighter than I did half an hour ago, when I began this P90X situation.

After all that, I considered just sleeping in them, as I was far too exhausted by the thought of reversing the process.

Thinking ahead to the lovely event I’m attending, the fate of my Maternity Spanx is unclear.  I hate to waste the money I spent on them, but I’m just not sure I can repeat this exercise in torture.  Plus, it would cost even more to have the ER cut me out of them if necessary.  Do you think my co-pay would cover that?

But, then again, looking eight ounces lighter is appealing in my current state.  Maybe I’ll take what I can get — even if I can’t get up from my seat without medical assistance, just for the night.

 

 

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