Friday, July 29, 2016

A letter to my daughter at camp

Hey sweetie!

So. You did it. You've had your very first camping experience ever and did it for a week without knowing a single other person there. You are brave and strong, caring and kind and I'm so proud to be your mom. I hope that you tried new things and struggled but persevered until you mastered them. I hope that you made strong friendships and stayed up late, telling silly stories and giggling. I hope that you offered encouragement and a friendly ear to those who might have been lonely or sad and that someone did the same for you. I hope you felt the tiredness that comes with a long, fun day. I hope you learned new songs and performed in skits, not worrying if someone 'messed up.' I hope you looked into the dancing flames of a campfire under a million stars and found peace in your soul. I hope you embrace the independence and strength you've discovered in yourself this week and let it propel you into the woman you will become. I hope you stretched your wings and soared to heights you didn't know you were capable of. But more than anything else, baby girl, to quote a song, "I hope you had the time of your life."

I'll see you in a few hours!



Thursday, March 10, 2016

Troubling Truthful Tales

It's been a weird week all around so I thought it was time for an insight round-up. Also because I'm really bad at chain-tweeting so here goes:

1. It really doesn't matter how old your kids are, you could announce to the world that you are going to be using the restroom by having it flash across the screens in front of their faces, the second you are out of sight they will be on your tail like a fanboy on a spoiler site: "Mommy! Where are you?! Can you help me/dress me/answer me/find my whatever? I was so worried about you!" Guys. I'm right where I told you I would be not 30 seconds ago. This is why you will never pee in peace until they move out of the house and maybe not even then.

2. Along the same lines (but with adults), the first time you answer any question for anyone, you become their go-to source for everything. It doesn't matter that you know nothing about what they need, it's assumed that you'll find the answer for them because no one understands them like you do. If you don't, you're not a team player. You don't want to not be a team player, do you?

3. Your kids could have electronic devices coming out of their ears and the second you decide to purge some of the older electronic toys is the second they decide that playing with them will be hella fun. But oh no! They haven't touched them in months so they have no charge and/or dead batteries. EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE AND IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT.

4. My favorite time of the day is when I get to eat. I love food. That is all.

5. I especially love jelly beans but I cannot be trusted around them so I've come up with an ingenious work around: Blow Pops. I get the hard candy/fruity flavor I crave with keeping my mouth busy chewing the gum and I think that I'm gonna stop right there. 

6. There is something incredibly satisfying about bludgeoning chicken breasts with a meat mallet.

7. Our new fish puts himself in time-out. You do you, Danny.

8. Never underestimate the confidence boost provided by a pretty yet functional bra. You'd be surprised how often the two don't intersect. Or, at least, I was.

9. The day that you overstock your freezer with the children's preferred breakfast of double cinnamon French Toast sticks is the day they will declare that only extra fluffy waffles are suitable for the morning repast, how could you even suggest otherwise you HEATHEN?!

10. I need a nap but my right eye is oozing gunk so sleeping in my contacts would rank up at the top of the list of Very Bad Ideas so I'm forced to go walk in the gorgeous sunshine instead. It's a cruel, cruel world.

Only one day and a handful of hours to go before reaching the crazy that is the weekend for on Saturday we shall do all the things. Ever last one of them. And then a couple more. Just because I can't handle any more truths today. Or maybe ever again.

And that's the truth.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The existential crisis of a third grader

Mondays are the long-ass days in our house - Noelle has Brownies and CCD  and Noah has Minecraft at the library on selected ones (I might use a Time-Turner.) (CCD is Sunday School but not on Sundays so...CCD.) It's a delicate dance of Dylan getting Noelle to her meeting location, me leaving from work, racing across the county to get there, him leaving with Noah, me staying with her and halfway through the meeting driving her over to CCD (when I don't get lazy and just decide to stay in one place.) Suffice it to say, we're all a bit tired by the time it comes to head home which naturally makes it the perfect time to hold deep conversations. 

Me: Did anything interesting happen in school today?

Noelle: No, just the usual stuff. (pause) Mommy?

Me: Yeah honey?

Noelle: Can I ask you a question?

Me (oh god, here it comes. We are NOT having The Talk in the car where I don't have diagrams and resources and all that): Sure baby girl, what's on your mind? (I am cool. I got this.)

Noelle: Mommy....what's the point of life?

Me: ........

Okay, didn't see that one coming. Deep breath. And....go!

Me: Well....I think that the point of life is to do the best we can with the time we have. (When in doubt, go Gandalf.) You know, be a good person and leave the world a better place than we found it.

Did I smugly pat myself on the back? Yes. Yes I did.

Noelle: I just don't understand the point of being here if we are all just going to die.

Smug balloon deflated.

Me: I...I don't really have an answer for you baby; no one asks to be born but here we are. The universe is made of energy and it has to go somewhere so sometimes the energy turns to life. And here we are. Life finds a way. (Okay, and "Jurassic Park", too.) (Holy crap, I'm way too tired to philosophize. Deflect! Deflect!)

Me; What brings this up?

Noelle: Oh, it was on an episode of "The Amazing World of Gumball"...

(I hate that stupid

Me: Ah. Did Gumball get an answer?

Noelle: Not really, everyone said something different.

Me: Yeah, there is no one answer. So what's the theme in Art this quarter?

And that, Your Honor, is how the liquor store ended up in my house.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hump Day, Grump Day

Me: I'm grumpy today.

World: ORLY? We had no idea.

Me: But I don't want to be grumpy; I shouldn't be grumpy. I mean, the kids are back in school! For a whole full day! Do you know how magical this in during the extreme winter of fuckupedness? I didn't have to yell this morning to get them going, everyone was dressed appropriately, there was no whining over video was a veritable prancing rainbow unicorn that smiles jelly beans.  And yet, I'm grumpy.

World (sighs, pulls up a chair): So, why are you grumpy?

Me: Well, it started when I got to work and got the samples together to take to the technical center. There four bags of the heaviest, densest stuff we make and a bunch of other things that I had to take up.

World: Well, why didn't you drive?

Me: Are you crazy? I never drive if I can walk; it's all about being a responsible global citizen since it's only 500ish feet away.

World: Plus you want to get your steps in.

Me: ...well, yes. But that's not the point! But if I don't carry them, then my back-up has to and it's too heavy so she'd have to drive, thereby defeating the entire purpose of walking in the first place. Not to mention that I work with several capable men who could certainly assist with the sample schlep but no, my back up is a five-foot-two, 62 year old woman with a bad foot.

World: But...haven't you been lifting weights?

Me: Hey! Focus!

World: Sigh, right, bad lazy men.

Me: Exactly. Then when I get up there, even though I've been carrying these stupid green buckets filled with samples daily for the past four years, someone always has to make a comment about it: 'Hey bucket lady!' 'Wow, that's a lot of buckets!' 'Boy, those look heavy.' etc which makes me want to scream at them to either help or shut the hell up but I can't so I give them a strangled grimace and 1000 yard stare because 'professional' and 'assault charges' and shit.

World: So stupid clueless people are stupid and clueless. What else you got?

Me: Well, I skipped my workout this morning to sleep in a bit since I stayed up late reading...

World: And whose fault is that?

Me: Do you mind?

World: Not at all.

Me: I figured that I'd just do cardio at the gym today but realized when I got to work that I wouldn't have time to go to the gym as I have way too much to do.

World: Yet you sit here writing about your grumpiness....

Me: You're not being very sympathetic.

World: We're not the one whining.

Me: Argh! You don't get it! The kids not being in school threw off my work schedule plus meetings with new head bosses who yawned their way through our discussion followed up by even more pointless strategy planning sessions means that I have an entirely stupid amount of samples to process now! Not to mention yet another head person who doesn't understand what I do because he couldn't stop yawning long enough to listen! Add that to being the only one in the 'leadership group' who had their goals voted on by the group because clearly I'm incapable of setting reasonable goals that it won't matter what they are since I don't get any support around here anyway plus the daily thermostat battle and now the moisture vac machine running six hours a day right outside my office but no one cares since it doesn't affect them....

World: Hm? Did you say something?
Me: I think we're done here.

World: Always happy to help.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hunting for dignity

I go to the gym four to five days a week. It's a nice gym where each cardio machine has its own little TV screen and cable hook-up so for my 15-minute warm-up, I usually turn to HGTV because it can be a delightful train wreck that does not entail me having to use my brain in any way plus I always leave my Kindle at home. (No one needs to see the trash that is the entire 'Sookie Stackhouse' series that I have loaded on there. Also, Eric is an ass. Anyway.) Because I'm on an alternate work schedule, my lunch break generally happens between 1 and 2 pm so not only is the gym empty but for the older set, the best shows are on. And by the best shows, I mean of course, "House Hunters."

If you've lived anywhere but under a rock for the past ten years, you know what House Hunters is about but just in case, a quick recap: clients search for the 'perfect' house, choosing between three possibilities, one of which is always WAAAAAAY over budget. Oddly enough, it's actually compelling viewing...but not for the houses. For the people. Why the people? Think of all that you hate about humanity and wrap it up in 30 minutes. That just about covers it.

What do they want? Well, open floor plan for 'entertaining.' Literally, that is on every. single. wish list. And a gourmet kitchen. And a huge bedroom. And an office. Oh, a backyard would be great. Naturally, a large master bathroom with soaking tub, perfect paint and tile, hardwood floors, double vanities, tons of storage space, in a great location with amazing views and a fantastic school system...all for around $250,000. I so very much want whatever it is that they are smoking...and so do their real estate agents.

Last week I did an extended cardio session so I got to view two (!) episodes. There has never been a more wretched hive of entitlement and delusion. The first couple was in Baltimore (holla! Wait, does anyone say that anymore? Curses, my lack of coolness is showing.) With a $250K budget (check), they wanted, well, everything. The guy was obsessed with what other people would think of their house, the woman wanted uniformity. Seriously, he wanted an amazing space and his own 'man cave' and pitched a hissy fit over anything that wasn't 'impressive' enough. He was clearly still working through some high school issues. She just wanted everything to look the same but with character. Oh, and a master oasis. Their agent looked like he wanted to drop-kick them into the Inner Harbor. I was definitely Team Agent. I wonder if they ever went through with the wedding as they weren't even on the same genre, let alone the same page.

The second episode featured two newlywed twentysomethings from Naples, Florida who had been living with his parents, doing the golf-course dream. He was a physical therapist for a retirement community, she was the jewelry manager for a department store so naturally they wanted to buy in Naples, live on a golf course, have a pool and a golf cart, huge house, gourmet kitchen blah blah blah all for $290K. I really thought that their agent was going to shake them both senseless. Thank goodness my time was up before they made it through the second house so I have no idea which one they chose. Nor do I actually care.

I tweeted about it and it turns out that the production company actually coaches the people to act like entitled assholes, for drama or something. Listen guys, looking for a house is hard enough without being portrayed as a wildly out of touch brat on national TV. Anything for their 30 minutes of fame I guess.

Though, if I'm being honest, I wouldn't turn down a gourmet kitchen. Hey, HGTV, call me!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Rage, rage against the dyeing of the white

(My most sincere, abject apologies to Dylan Thomas for this.)

I've had gray hair since I was 16. That's when I noticed the first one and my mother naturally insisted that no, it can't be a gray hair, it had to be Sun-In. Um, no. Because, you see, it wasn't 'orange'. And she went gray early. As did her mother as no doubt did all the women on that side back to when the first was naught but a silver-hued proto-plankton. So, it's in my blood, er, hair. Anyway, it's been 20-something years and thanks to the miracle of L'oreal, I've been able to hide the worst. Well, when I actually color it. Which I'm not right now because really, when you spend 75% of your day in a hair net, who the hell cares? Plus the whole 'do I dye it my 'natural' color or what it's going to fade to shade of sad' internal debate is too much most days to contemplate as my original color is a very dark brown (thanks, Dad) and the color fades to blonde so eh, gray it is.

Naturally, the gray is heaviest around my face, framing it. Like chrome rims only the opposite of cool. It's not super obvious when it's down (shut up and allow me my delusions) but pulled back? I might as well have a personal spotlight. (And to my sisters who were blessed with not only the lighter-colored hair to start but also the 'normal' graying cycle? If I ever hear either of you bitch about gray hair, duck because heavy objects will fly through the air with extreme prejudice. Just saying.)

Yesterday I hit the gym during my lunch break and since between the sweat and the hairnet/hardhat combo I was the epitome of sexiness, I decided that once I got home I'd use the dry shampoo I had bought for Noah's camping trip last fall. (Damn straight I brought dry shampoo to use in the woods because not only is my hair mostly gray, it's also fine and thin and therefore an oil slick. I like to pretend that I have some standards.) So I brushed out my hair, applied the dry shampoo, brushed it again and went on my merry way to Cub Scouts with Noah. It was totally so I wouldn't embarrass him and had nothing at all to do with not wanting to look (or smell) like I had just climbed out of a sewer. True story, swear to God.) I must not have brushed all the powder through my hair thoroughly enough because getting him ready for bed he said to me "Mommy, your hair is white."

"Yeah, I know bud."

"You're going to die soon."

Uh, okay.

"Well, I had a good run."

"Don't worry Mommy, just color your hair and you won't die!"

I'm not sure what concerns me more: that he doesn't seem to mind if I die or that cheap drugstore hair color is the fountain of youth after all. But at least my hair will be fabulous either way.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Triumphant Return of Sparklebritches Glitterpants

Alternate title: there has been a sad lack of glitter in our lives recently.

Who is Sparklebritches Glitterpants? You might know her by her official name of 'The Tooth Fairy.' I bestowed this moniker on her lo these many years ago when in a fit of inspiration, I decided to sprinkle glitter swiped from my children's art set to make it more fun than just getting money for their teeth. I blame Pinkalicious and Pinterest for this. Anyway, the glitter gets EVERYWHERE (no kidding) but they love the idea of 'fairy dust' so I was hoisted upon my own petard. This is why my creativity needs to be confined to 1) baking and B) writing. But I digress.

Sparklebritches Glitterpants hasn't had much to do at the Lange household this past year. All quiet on the enameled front and all that. There was a bit of excitement in November when Noelle's tooth finally came out after more than a year but beyond that, not a glimmer to be found. But, it's a new year and what better way to welcome 2016 than with glitter?

We were celebrating Christmas with Dyl's mom at her house on New Year's Day, a quiet affair when I wandered into the family room where Noah was watching some TV (after the hella late night they had on New Year's Eve - which is a story unto itself - he could watch 'Paw Patrol' til his eyes crossed for he was still.) For some reason, I noticed his mouth and that something looked 'off.' He's always had widely spaced teeth but one space in particular seemed wider than usual. I asked him to open his mouth more and was greeted by the sight of a bloody gaping hole where his tooth used to be. Compelled by the power of the grape, (aka 3/4 a bottle of Shiraz) I kind of shouted at him 'where is your tooth?!' then followed up that brilliant piece of parenting by shoving a tissue into the hole to blot the blood. To the shock of everyone (me), he completely wigged out, crying and sobbing that it hurt. Which it didn't because he wasn't even aware of it until I came swooping in, screeching like an unhinged guardian of dentifrice.

Trying to comfort him while Dylan searched for his tooth, I patted his back and said I just wanted to be sure he hadn't swallowed it which, though the truth, was the absolutely wrong thing to say as it set off a fresh wave of sobbing, "I'm not going to be able to eat now!" to which I may or may not have unsuccessfully choked back laughter. Nothing like setting the parenting bar high the first day of the year. Long story short, the bleeding stopped, the tooth was found, and dinner was eaten.

This picture brought to you by a bottle of Shiraz
So how did a marginally loose tooth pop out? Well, he has a habit of  pulling on his socks...with his teeth. Shrewdly asking him, "Were you chewing on your socks before your tooth came out?", he admitted he was and like that, the mystery solved.

That would be the rest of the bottle; why do you ask?
Later at home, he admitted that he was very excited that the Tooth Fairy was going to be visiting him for the first time as he was jealous that Noelle had been the only one visited. No worries buddy, I got you covered. I've been waiting to give this to you for a long time.

But can we agree to maybe slow this growing up thing down just a little now? Sparklebritches Glitterpants needs another bottle.