Summer Lessons For An Absentee Blogger

Hey all!

Look, I know I’ve been away a long time, so I’m not just going to stroll in here all blase and pretend that nothing has happened and everything is fine between us. I don’t want to insult your intelligence. But summer was rough. The kids were on me like fleas every second for a snack or to validate their latest Lego creation. As soon as they heard the keyboard tapping they’d descend. The pressure was incredible.

It had been my plan to send the kids to camp so that I might have a minute or two of productivity, but Hubs and I had a minor bank account fiasco wherein all of our money mysteriously disappeared. We were both baffled as to how this would happen. Coincidentally this occurred right around the same time that Hubs’s jeep was miraculously cured of many of its major ailments. Weird.

At any rate, I had to sacrifice any dreams of childless alone time. These things happen, so I decided to abandon all productivity and commit myself to fully enjoying the summer with my children. After all, time is fleeting and they won’t be this small forever. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth, hide the knives and treasure those little buggers.

You can't hear the kids complaining about the mind numbing amount of pictures Hubs takes but after this Hubs stopped talking to any of us.

Here we are treasuring each other on the highway. Note: Hubs stopped talking to all of us immediately after this picture was taken.

I learned some things in the process–about myself, about life. I’m a better person for it, albeit a better person who desperately needs a hair appointment. For instance:

  • It is physically impossible for me to treasure my children day after day, 24 hours a day without a steady flow of caffeine. Before the summer I had weaned myself off the stuff for health reasons but mid summer I had to weigh the importance of a steady heartbeat against the safety of my prodigies. Heartbeats are overrated.
  • Five year old boys are physically incapable of being quiet. There is a reason that there was never a book called The Diary of Arnie Frank. It would have lasted two pages and then Arnie would have forgotten about the Nazis and gone running down the hall singing at the top of his lungs while beating on a bucket. End of story. Girls know how to tiptoe and use their indoor voices. You could wrap a boy in foam and he would still find a way to shake the walls. It’s what they do.

Note: I sincerely apologize for using the Jewish holocaust with such flippancy. You’d think I was a twenty-something pop sensation.

"By 'mental exhaustion' you mean rehab, right?"

“At least I don’t Twerk.”

  • The more you do with your children, the more they want to do. I can’t emphasize this enough: the key to your child’s happiness is lowered expectations. Providing them with gifts and stimulating activities only gives them unrealistic expectations for the future. Have you ever seen videos of children in third world countries receiving shoes for the first time? They are incredibly happy. My daughter has multiple shoes that she won’t even wear because they aren’t meeting her aesthetic expectations. And for every visit to the trampoline park this summer, I had to listen to ninety additional minutes of “what are we doing that’s exciting today?” and “I want to do something fun,” spoken in a whine and repeated ad nauseam. You know what’s fun? Not working in a sweatshop fifteen hours a day. You’re welcome.
  • The housing market is so filled with foreign investors equipped with psychic premonition and large quantities of cash that a cop and a stay at home mom can’t afford to purchase any single family home this side of Detroit. It’s remarkable really and further proof that House Hunters is a complete sham. I mean come on, a graduate student and an entry-level marketing coordinator are able to buy a beautiful craftsman style home that isn’t tagged with gang graffiti? That’s a fairytale. You want the real story? Follow us as we look at condemned homes filled with garbage and frightened animals, priced just beyond our range.
  • Inability to purchase aside, there is nothing my kids love better (with the exception of an overcrowded theme park) than freely snooping through other people’s homes. Open houses became one of our favorite free activities this summer. If summer had gone on any longer we would probably resort to breaking and entering.
  • The only family vacation we can enjoy without having to sedate Hubs is camping. He is completely relaxed when separated from society and surrounded by dirt, trees and creatures that might carry the Bubonic plague. They are making the ground harder than they used to, which was tough on my delicate frame and after two days of roughing it, my all natural, aluminum free deodorant cashed it in and left me to scare off the bears with my b.o., but other than that, camping was awesome.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. I’ll try not to stay away as long next time.

This picture was taken right after Conor tried to slip under the bar and plummet to his death. Good times.

This picture was taken right after Conor tried to slip under the bar and plummet to his death. You can tell that I’m still mid heart attack.

Go Ruck Yourself UPDATED

Marines are not known for their restraint and moderation. You’ll never hear a war story of a battalion that went in and made some people mildly uncomfortable, broke a couple of things, said sorry and left. That’s just not how they roll. Marines are mildly depraved and dangerous.

Which is why I married one. Who doesn’t want to sleep next to depraved and dangerous every night?

Hubs derives a great deal of joy from enthusiastically hurting himself with physical endeavors and I enjoy watching. Every once in a while he will try to include me in his physical torture, but I’ve become fairly adept at graciously bowing out. See, Moderation is my middle name. When my body says, “ouch” I say, “What’s the matter? Did I hurt you? I’m so sorry. Let’s talk about it over a beer.”

I might use Hubs as inspiration to stay physically fit, but I do my best to keep our fitness regimens fairly separate. It’s best that way. Because I want to live.

However, I have a friend who frequently does mud runs and physical challenges with her husband. There are always pictures of the two of them looking exhausted and happy at the end, somewhere near the beer tent. Sometimes one of them is wearing a tutu. I look at the pictures and inevitably feel a pang of envy. I want to do that. Suffering is okay when it’s done in a tutu and followed by a beer. And it would be something Hubs and I could do together.

Foolishly I mentioned this to him, thereby proving that communication isn’t always the answer because this is what he came up with:


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I should have known that it was way beyond my capabilities by the excitement on Hubs’s face when he called me over to the computer. He looked like a five-year old opening his first box of Hot Wheels.

The Goruck Challenge was created by a Green Beret. Notice the distinct lack of tutus. Still, I looked at the picture above and thought, that doesn’t look so bad. They’re doing push ups in the surf. I like the beach. Maybe there’s a picnic afterward.

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Treading water arm in arm can be fun.

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Especially if you’re next to the pretty people.

I was feeling cautiously optimistic. I had visions of Hubs and I smiling and sweating side by side, just us and our new friends with whom we’d share laughter and a pitcher of beer later. Like an Amstel Light commercial, but with better beer.

Then I saw this picture and my enthusiasm ran from the room Scooby Doo-style.

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that is nighttime. And those people are still carrying a giant log.  In cold wet clothes. Without a food truck. I like physical exertion. I also like to sleep and eat.

All of a sudden it didn’t look like fun anymore. Cold, wet pants chafe. Nobody wants raw thighs.

And then I realized what the Goruck Challenge really is. It’s some sort of mini Hell Week for people who fantasize about joining the Special Forces or want to relive that torturous time. I am not one of those people. I don’t need to be a Green Beret. Rambo was a Green Beret. He ended up in a tree, sewing up his own arm. I have difficulty stitching up a stuffed animal. And my big head looks terrible in berets.

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Oh look, it’s dawn. And that’s not a breakfast burrito they’re carrying.

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There’s nothing I like doing better after not sleeping or eating than push ups. Here is where I would collapse in a pool of my own vomit and cry or giggle hysterically while the Cadre (which is a nice way of saying Sadist) yells at me.

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They’re carrying out the participants who’ve lost the will to live. That’s nice of them.

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This guy made it through alive, but take a look at his elbow. I believe that’s an open wound. I bet he’s been crawling through all kinds of nastiness all night with that thing, picking up Lord only knows what diseases and no one gave him antiseptic and a Goruck Challenge band-aid. I give him another 12 hours before his arm falls off.

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And now everyone is ready to go home. Wait a minute…

No beer tent???? Ah HELL no! If I’m going to carry a log all night in chafing pants, somebody had better be waiting for me, holding a frosty beverage.

Clearly this challenge is designed to make me cry, vomit and tear a muscle. Hubs and I have very different ideas about what constitutes a fun physical challenge. And as many times as I tell Hubs that this does not in any way look like a good time to me, he keeps grinning and saying, “I know you can do it” like some sort of deranged motivational speaker. Clearly he has no respect for my life or my inner thighs, which leads me to wonder if he’s taken out a large insurance policy on me or something.  My personal well-being may be at risk.

Please send help.


The Goruck Challenge is now following me on twitter. I’m being stalked by a challenge! They’re coming for me…and I think they’re bringing the log. Please hurry. Time is. Running. Out.

Attack Of The Ninja Sparrow

An obnoxious bird has made a nest over our door. Don’t get me wrong. I love animals. I do. Ask anyone. The last time a bird made a nest over our door the kids and I watched in rapt attention as the nest was built, the eggs laid and the baby birds developed. As soon as the baby birds left the nest I even went out and stupidly took down the nest for closer inspection. I say stupidly because freshly used nests are full of tiny bugs and all I really accomplished with my closer inspection (after several showers and a manic cleaning tirade) was giving my children a phobia of birds’ nests.

There's our nest in all of its filthy, bug infested sweetness.

This bird, however, is paranoid. First of all, it built its nest in such a way as to discourage Peeping Toms so that I can’t be nosy and appreciate the wonder of nature. What good is having a wonder of nature in such close proximity if I can’t use it for family entertainment? And second, the bird insists on dive bombing my head every time I try to enter or exit my home like I’m some kind of predator, which admittedly I am, but if it paid attention it would notice that I prefer carefully packaged large birds for my dining pleasure. This is not the Ozarks. I don’t eat animals from my front yard. Clearly it’s confused about its location and my benevolent nature.

If I looked like this the bird would be justified in its paranoia, but I don't most days. (image via dreamstime)

I can forgive confusion, but open hostility is intolerable. And as I’m often preoccupied and possess a limited short-term memory (my pregnancies claimed that along with my six-pack abs), each avian attack is a complete surprise to me. It feels like I have a Jack in the Box installed above my front door and I don’t like Jack in the Boxes. Surely I wasn’t the only child who felt that Jack was an evil little toy who waited in a box for the sole purpose of traumatizing unsuspecting children?

No? Just me? Okay, moving on.

If you don't think this guy is waiting to jump out and skewer a tiny heart on his wire hand, you're sadly mistaken.(image via dreamstime)

Anyway, on my way to pick up my son from preschool today I was understandably still reeling from the shock of being viciously attacked by a three-inch rabid animal, when my phone, which has chosen for itself (since I haven’t properly learned how to use it) as its text notification sound, a jet plane swoosh, decided to notify me of an incoming text. The text was from my dancer friend who had just discovered her son’s tap dancing genius and was understandably excited, but that’s beside the point. The sound of a jet zooming through my car on the heels of my attack stimulated my Post Imagined Stress Disorder (or PISD), which, though not recognized as a legitimate affliction by any medical organization,plagues me nonetheless. In this heightened state of paranoia I naturally assumed that the bird had covertly gained access to my vehicle, cunningly waited until I was thoroughly engrossed in driving and then attacked. Because birds are known to be covert and cunning masters of tactical genius.

*Hey Stan, guess what? *What? *I'm a ninja! *Cool. I'm a pigeon. *I wear a hood and carry nun-chucks! *I poop on cars. (image via Dreamstime)

Now I’ve watched my husband reenact enough harrowing felony arrests to know that when under attack, one should feint to the side and quickly draw their weapon to return fire. Instinctively that was what I did.  The only problem was that I wasn’t a police officer, not actually under attack and didn’t have a weapon. What I did have was a dirty Mazda Protege whose steering wheel I yanked to the left in an unnecessary evasive maneuver, narrowly missing the back end of a truck whose driver had made the mistake of driving on the same Burbank road as a delusional mother in a hatchback. Luckily I didn’t cause an accident and the driver of the truck didn’t stop and demand an explanation which no doubt would have necessitated a psych evaluation.

Thank you to Hubs for illustrating the proper way to react to a threat. In no way did I look this cool.

You should know that I might be terrible at many things (writing thank you notes, painting furniture, organizing my kitchen cupboards) but I’m an extremely conscientious and capable driver. It’s a point of pride. Normally after making such a bonehead driving maneuver I am so contrite that I practice extreme traffic etiquette and obey every traffic law ever made or imagined for at least a full day. However, today I was so distracted by the absurdity of the situation that I made two other bonehead maneuvers in rapid succession, at which point I nearly pulled over, handed my keys to the nearest person and asked them to pick up my children from school because my children deserved the relative safety a complete stranger could offer them. Luckily my often silent, tiny voice of reason convinced me that the elderly Armenian woman with the walker probably didn’t drive and would break a hip climbing into my car anyway. So instead I continued on my way to the preschool without further incident.

A nice lady gave me her car today so I took it to the track and bet on the ponies. (image via dreamstime)

But now that nesting bird and I are really at odds. It’s overactive sense of self-preservation is colliding with my overactive imagination and wreaking havoc with the safety of the public at large.  Not since a band of delinquent raccoons vandalized our Halloween decorations and made my daughter cry have I been so incensed at an animal. I can’t be responsible for my actions. I have a legitimate made up disorder. Someone should send a representative from PETA to relocate this bird to a safer location. Like my neighbor’s house.

Then again, PETA might take issue with the collection of carefully packaged large birds in my freezer and they’re scarier than a homicidal sparrow. You know what, on second thought I’ll just use my back door for the next few weeks.