Thursday, October 27, 2011

10 Commandments of Trick or Treat

I do not like Halloween. There, I admit it – so sue me!

That said, I have kids - Trick or Treat participation is NOT optional. Hubby, God love him, is the Designated Chaperon, hanging the required 20 paces behind, Maglite in hand as the gaggle of sugar seekers beg our neighbors for repeat dental visits.

I oversee home distribution duties, and to offset the holiday hatred, I long ago developed a sliding scale for candy generosity; the time has come to share.

1. Thou shall wear a costume – A baseball hat does not make you Derek Jeter. Bite Size Baby Ruth.

2. Honor thy doorbell etiquette – Once, is enough. More than that, Bite Size Dots.

3. Thou shall be age appropriate – If you have facial hair, stay home. Raisins

4. Honor thy common sense – 6 yr. olds should not look like adult film stars. Smarties.

5. Thou shall be spooky – Be scary! Witches, zombies, vampires – Full Size Twix!

6. Honor thy safety – Carry a flashlight and wear bright clothes – Reese's!

7. Thou shall be polite – If you say "Trick or Treat" – Milky Way! (Thank you - extra!)

8. Thou shall TAKE ONE! – Reach into the Trough-o-Candy politely – Full Size Snickers.

9. Honor thy hour – After 9 (and that’s pushing) go home! Before 8 – Peppermint Patty!

10. Thou shall STOP Trick or Treating when treat bag requires forklift! You’re done, go home, count your loot, eat the permitted one piece and sneak 4 more when Mom is not looking - you know you will!  
Happy Halloween! (Bring on November 1st!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Catcher on the Fly

During October, my assignment desk takes on an eerie, landfill quality; mounds of Harvest Fests, Halloween happenings and local sports all screeching for equal coverage. I’ve tried covering my ears, but they yell louder, offering tempting edible spiffs in hopes of enticing my interest.

“Please cover our Homecoming game! We’ll give you free coffee and hot dogs at half time!”

Gratis weenies and unlimited caffeine aside, there’s a problem – I’m ONE person.

Embroiled in an ongoing scheduling fracas between home and work, balance becomes a challenge. I do my best, but chaos happens, news breaks, kids vomit; I adapt, all parents do. And with the help of a handy-dandy e-gadget, life goes on.

Here’s a snippet.

(Dinner table – Casa Babbler)

Thing One: “Mom, are you working tonight?”
Me: “Yes.” (Soccer game, temp below 40, good times.)
Thing One: “Can I use your laptop while you’re gone?”
Me. “Yes, but no You Tube; it gave me a virus.” (Call tech support.)
Thing One: “And I need poster board for Monday.”
Me: “I’ll get one tomorrow morning.” (On route from dentist to work.)

Thing Two: “Can we get my costume soon?”
Me: “What do you want to be this year?” (Thing Two = only family member T-or-T age appropriate.)
Thing Two: “A scary guy with a gun and mustache who jumps out and grabs kids at the door.”
Me: (Thing Two’s Halloween aspirations: creepy guy Chris Hansen nabs on Dateline. Adjust schedule for less jail sentiency costume shop.) “Tell you what, we can go after school, before golf, and how about a Ninja costume?” (Does Chris Hansen bag Ninjas?)
Thing Two: “Sick!”

Me: (Review tomorrow on e-gadget: Tech support, dentist, poster board, 3 assignments in 3 towns, costume shop, golf practice, use restroom at least once, eat food not obtained at drive-thru, breathe and write 1000 words on WIP.)

Hubby: “Don’t we have the basement guy coming tomorrow?”
Me: (Crap!)
Hubby: (Smile) “Is your head going to explode?”
Me: (He knows me well.) “Not yet.”
Hubby: “That’s going to change.”
Me: (Panic) “Why?”
Hubby: (Bigger smile.) “Did I tell you I’m away on business all next week?”


Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, and I’m lucky to have a HWH (Hubby-Who-Helps). But there’s a reason the Halloween candy never quite makes it to the 31st in our house, I’m a stress eater!

Fess up cyber pals, who out there among you is on the verge of cerebellum wallpaper?
(Side Note: Steve, you owe me a buck! Fracas can be utilized in everyday language!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Keeping the Faith

Today, the chains of the Day Job keep me shackled to deadlines and layout meetings, preventing my attendance at a blessed event; a Bris. The guest of honor, a wonderful little bonus gift bequeathed from heaven, is fortunate to have a Mama with Solomon’s wisdom, Mother Teresa’s patience and the ability to recognize the critical role spa days play when rearing four boys. (Dad is a pretty good egg, too.)

As I sit waiting for my next assignment to upload, the thought of today’s celebration brings me back to a declaration by my youngest son few years back.

“Mom, I want to be Jewish.”


“Did you hear me?”

“Yes, I heard you. I’m just wondering if this has anything to do with Josh’s Bar mitzvah.”

(Imagine Disneyland/MTV mix with a pasta bar chaser. I say this with Josh’s Mom’s blessing. Two years later, she still gets shivers at the mention of a chocolate fountain.)

“No, I just don’t want to go to church school anymore. It’s soooo long and boring.”

Oh, well that made perfect sense! He’d only been to the post Bar mitzvah gathering, thus his exposure to Judaism consisted of a big party, kicking DJ, all you can eat candy and to further sweeten the deal, Jewish school holidays.

“Buddy, do you realize Josh went to his church school four hours every weekend, learned an entirely new language and had to sing in front of 100 people BEFORE the party?”

“Oh.” He debated the new information. “I guess my school is OK.”

Compared to Hebrew school, our power half hour of quickie Our Fathers, macaroni Jesus crafts and sprinkled donuts seemed like a dream.

I’m glad he’s interested in other faiths, and will support him on whatever religious path life leads him down, but the donuts-to-DJ meter still has some maturing to do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Someday My Chintz Will Come

Decorating is a marathon, not a sprint. And although I very much enjoy the creative nest-building process, I am rapidly discovering my definition of “quick-turnaround” is not the industry norm shared by the greater contracting public.

For those of you considering home remodel, repair or equal level of self-inflicted mayhem, allow me to provide a helpful glossary of terms critical in translating repair-person linguistics.

  • Estimate: A fraction of the money you will bleed. 
  • Foreman: Evil minion in charge. 
  • Sub-contractor: Assistant evil blood-sucking minion.  
  • Home inspector: Kid from elementary school requesting extra homework and subsequently getting the snot beat out of him by playground bully. (Bully – see Foreman) 
  • Certificate of Occupancy: Big, fat myth evil minions assure victims they can attain. 
  • Guarantee: (Coffee spew!) Sorry, cannot control maniacal laughter. Webster should delete this word entirely. 

Yes, I'm in a decidedly dark home repair hole at the moment, and yes, good contractors do exist. The trick is separating the genuine tool savvy from, well, the genuine tools.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In a Word

Some homework assignments need slapping, word problems for instance. If a train leaves Cleveland at 10am carrying three tons of Lima beans – A) Who cares what time it gets to Sacramento? No one likes Lima beans! And B) Can’t the flipping train carry something interesting? Chocolate, pizza, hot firemen?

Anyway, back on topic. My eldest son had a creative writing assignment last night. (Yippee; no math!) He was asked to select one word, only one, to describe his personality. There was more to the assignment, but the arts and craft portion is superfluous. (Although, it did have a great impact on my new O Magazine – Oprah face confetti now blankets the kitchen table. Kind of disturbing.)

This was fun homework.

His top three choices: athletic, creative, inventive.

My top three: compassionate, empathetic, intuitive.

My youngest chimed in: booger-head, meatball, doofus. (Feel the brotherly love.)

After several more selections we hit a wall and quiet contemplation set in. An autumn birthday boy, my son seizes conversational lulls as perfect opportunities to shill for gifts.

“Did you and Dad talk about my iPhone?” (RIP Steve Jobs.)

“Not yet.”


Over two weeks, this was phone request number 73. In fact, if “Mom, Can I Have An iPhone?” were a drinking game, I'd be drunk before breakfast 6 of 7 days per week. (He sleeps late on Sunday.)

And then it hit me, his perfect word: Tenacious.

So, what’s your word?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pavlov and Prosciutto

Rainy Saturday’s require two things: Bisquick coffee cake and Ikea catalogues. Yes, there are mounds of laundry morphing into Jaba-the-Hut’s evil underpants based cousin, and yes, at the very least I should be editing – but I need cake and some page flipping therapy.

Ikea is my secret splurge, one I should have outgrown after college, transitioning to Big Girl, professionally assembled furniture, but I have an addiction to all things pre-drilled. There is something inexplicably alluring about a store brimming with outrageous pillow shams and jumbo Swedish meatballs.

A few years back a new Ikea cropped up within spitting distance to my most fabulous friend, Denise; this was bad. Why bad, you ask? (Ok – even if you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you.) You see Denise comes from hearty, I-am-Italian-and-show-love-by-feeding-you-to-the-point-of-pain stock. Culinary wise, she rivals Cordon Bleu top graduates, friendship wise – well – *gush* - she’s top banana. (Which she will turn into muffins.)

You’re thinking this is good, right? I get to visit with my fantastic, feast-based buddy AND surf the Ikea isles in utter ecstasy? Both true, but let me explain what happens with the arrival of each new Ikea catalogue.

First, I salivate at both the potential trip to Casa Denise’s House of Antipasto and window treatments.

Second, the kids see the catalog. “Yeah baby! Aunt Neese food!” (All Mom food now fails muster.)

Third, after a wonderful visit and shop stop, I’m left with less money in the wallet, less room in the pants.

Fourth, the credit card bill arrives, (B-Movie disaster music here); the Ikea line item glares back ominously, and suddenly I crave girl gab, marinated vegetables and Tony Soprano’s favorite deli meats.

Fifth, the manic eat/shop circle continues.

Here’s hoping a Weight Watchers satellite office buys the property next to Ikea, quickly.