Thursday, July 21, 2016

Natural Instincts

Summer is such a sexy season.  With all the dewy exposed skin, succulent fleshy fruits and temperamental thunderstorms, it's nearly impossible to deny your natural instincts.  Like drinking water to stay hydrated and not die of heatstroke.  Oh, and that other one too.


Not that I can remember the last time I actually had sex.  Though I think about it a lot, I have kids who completely ruin the mood.  Especially now that they're teenagers.  Because it's hard to be in the mood when you're pissed at your kid for that thing they did.  Again.  Why the hell do they keep doing that thing?  Or when you're worried because they're driving home from work late at night.  Or they're getting a ride home from a party from some friend that you don't know.  Or every kid is home and accounted for, but they don't go to bed until later than you because they wake up at noon.   And if you get caught doing it with your spouse in the privacy of your own home by your kids they'll be traumatized for life.  

Which might explain why I'm a little frustrated.

Which got me extra excited about going camping a couple weeks back.   The thought that my husband and I could get frisky in the tent.  Until I saw the size of the tent pad at the camp site.  Which required us to set up my daughters' tent right next to ours with a zero lot line.  Making it an even worse option than getting it on at home.  But a better option than when my kids have friends  sleep over.  Because what's even worse than the prospect of getting caught mid sex act by your own kid is getting caught by your kid's friend.  Especially, if it's the sheltered kid with the overprotective helicopter parents who haven't had the sex talk with them yet.

I know what you're thinking. 

Especially if you're a guy reading this.  Just do the deed first thing in the morning.  Conceptually, I understand the functionality of that.  And while I consider myself to have a fairly androgynous personality, I must say I'm kinda girly about sex.  Meaning, I need to feel kinda sexy to have sex.  And being awoken to the sound of my partner farting, laying on the wet spot that is my own drool on my pillow, with breath of an 18th century peasant doesn't make me feel like a Victoria's Secret model somehow.  Plus, this is when my daily asthma coughing fit is scheduled.  

I know what you're thinking.

You sometimes feel like a Victoria's Secret model?  No, I assure you I never do.  Also, I don't even shop at  Victoria's Secret.  Well, I used to, but just for the t-shirts really.  I'm more of a GAP body girl, cause I'm androgynous like that.  I know I went off on a tangent there and that what you were really thinking is what about a nooner?  I have four kids at least one of which is always home at noon complaining about how bored they are. Which is a real effective birth control by the way.  Not that you need birth control when you're not actually having any sex.   
So I guess I'll have to wait until the kids go back to school when I force my kids to go to bed at a reasonable time and let my natural instincts take over.  I just hope it won't be the instinct to fall asleep on the couch at 9pm.  

It's going to be a spectacular 3 minutes. 

Monday, July 18, 2016


I was invited to go to a ladies' weekend in Keystone for a wine and jazz festival.  It was just what I needed, time away from the kids, up in the mountains with girlfriends.  But, it was also the weekend of a huge milestone for my oldest; he was buying his first car.  I was crushed with guilt that I wouldn't be there to witness his proud moment.  But, I was also glad that I wouldn't be there to teach him how to drive it.  Because, although my son has his license, his new car had a manual transmission and we'd never taught him how to drive stick.

Maybe I wasn't so crushed after all.  

When I returned home from a relaxing weekend, I saw it in the driveway among the other classic cars.  After I looked past the '77 VW bus with a defunct engine.  The '66 International Harvester with newly refurbished but not yet tweaked DIY brakes.  And my mostly impractical '69 Karmann Ghia that seats two both uncomfortably and unsafely that my husband drives to work every day because the other two vehicles are still unroadworthy.  And my son's "new" '72 Scout.  Why didn't we teach him to drive on a stick?  Because looking at my driveway ornaments, it seems pretty obvious and inevitable that he'd fall in love with old cars just like his father.

I couldn't wait til my son got home from work so I could congratulate him on his new car.  He couldn't wait to work on his car.  So, my husband, my son and I went out to the driveway to help him check the timing.  That's when my son handed me the keys to start the engine.  I would've normally declined such an invitation anxious that I'd screw something up.  But, with my husband under the hood, I was the only other driver experienced driving a manual.  So I did.

You know how temporary insanity is a thing?  I suffer from temporary idiocy.  I'm normally a fairly intelligent level-headed person.  And then given just the right situation mixed with my anxiety and impulsiveness and I snap and become an absolute  idiot.  Like that time I bought my family super cheap tickets to London because I didn't actually purchase the return trip.  I have a pretty sizable stash of other examples of this debilitating condition, but I think what comes next will suffice.

I put the keys in the ignition and it started right up.  And began lurching forward.  Hurling directly toward the back of the Ghia my husband surprised me with for my 40th birthday that was parked in the garage.  And crushed it.  Did I mention the name of my Ghia was Crush?  I'm not even joking.

Clearly, something was wrong with my son's car.  

Except of course there wasn't.  Not only did I fail to check that the car was in neutral, I also had my foot on the brake instead of the clutch.  (Please note: I've driven a stick for 30 years.  I also learned on a stick at age 17.  And this is after I flew a plane by myself at age 16.  Amazingly, I didn't crash the plane because I'm actually intelligent and capable sometimes.  I SWEAR!  Also, I put this part about the plane in so I could feel better about myself right now.)  There is something inherently wrong with me.  And that thing is temporary idiocy.  

And I'm crushing it!

ADDENDUM:  The important thing is that no one was hurt.  My son's car is completely unscathed.  And the Ghia did not go completely through the wall into the family room on the other side of it where my girls were watching Baboon Queen on the National Geographic Channel.  Not knowing the real Baboon Queen was outside putting on her own show, until it was over and done.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bear With Me

Bear with me as I tell you the story of my family's latest camping trip.  After days of procuring enough sunscreen, bug spray, food and wine, and then almost forgetting to pack the kids something to drink, it was time to load up the car with bikes, sleeping bags, tents and hammocks.  And it was also my time of the month.  Which of course it is.  Because I always have my period when I go camping.  That should be the Always maxi pad slogan.  Which begs the question... camping during your period more likely to attract bears 
or mountain lions? 

Wait, I hope we packed the bear spray.  Also, does bear spray work on blood thirsty mountain lions? And really, what are the chances that I'm going to be anywhere near any kind of weapon to defend myself in case of an attack?  Unless my defense is playing dead, which I'm guessing is probably near impossible to do when you're getting mauled by a wild animal.  Plus, is any menstruating woman going to go gently into that good night without putting up a fight? 

 Don't answer that; it was a rhetorical question.  

So, we're camping in gorgeous Ouray I get up extra early on the first morning to cook this amazing breakfast in the dutch oven I just bought over an open fire because this is how I get when I'm on my period, completely irrational.  It cooked it for over an hour.  And I made the kids wait for my Betty Crocker inspired egg, hash brown, sausage, cheese concoction that had enough calories to last an entire boy scout troop a week in the wilderness without food.  Except I burned it.  Except it was more scorched beyond salvaging actually. But yet, still sludgy and uncooked in the center.  I was so pissed off.  Although, I still tried to get my family to eat it. Did I mention I was on my period?  Then I tasted it and threw the entire thing in the trash. Including my new dutch oven.   

My husband didn't question the impulsivity of this decision.  

But there was something that both my husband and I did question.  An incident involving two of my kids who are archenemies.  Involving opportunity and a weapon.  That's how one of my kids got "accidentally" sprayed with bear spray.  But, the thing was, the stupid spray hardly slowed down an 11 year old girl.  Sure, she had some burning and stinging.  But who doesn't?  That's just how life feels.  How the hell is that impotent spray gonna deter a 400 pound bear?   It's not.  You know what's a more effective bear deterrent?  That charred breakfast casserole. So next time you camp, keep in mind that the best way to stay safe just may be cooking inedible casseroles that even the wildlife wouldn't eat.  

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Under Pressure

It's summer, which means my four kids, who don't get along with each other or each other's friends, are home.  Thank god we belong to a gorgeous pool with a view of Garden of the Gods and Pike's Peak that we pay almost $500 a summer for the privilege of being members to.  Except that I can't get my kids to actually go there and burn off all their teenage angst.  Which is making me really angsty.

In addition to the other daily irritants of being a parent.  

There are the endless reminders and constant nagging.  I didn't want to become this person.  In fact, I was sure being this curmudgeonly wasn't within my repertoire.  I was wrong. I used to be fun before I had kids, I swear!  But, what people don't tell you is that the descent into becoming a cantankerous bitch (or bastard) lies in the very cumulative nature of parenting.  So when your kid does something wrong, you go back into the archives of your kid's screw-ups to dredge up all the other times he's done something similar.  First you stew about it.  Then you blame yourself because, obviously, it's all your fault for something you did or failed to do.  

Because, obviously, you're an atrocious parent

But, this post isn't about you, it's about me and how I can't get my kids to go to the pool and all that other annoying stuff they do and don't do.  And when something happens (or doesn't) with one (or more) of my kids I try to start off really Zen.  I really do. It lasts like two seconds, but still, it totally counts.  My internal dialogue goes something like this...

Ok Marie, think of this as one isolated incident, try not to think of the other 500 times this has happened and how pissed you are that this kid never learns his lesson.  WTF is wrong with this kid? Also why doesn't this kid ever invite friends over?  It's because he's the next Unabomber isn't it? I'm an abominable parent.  Ok, calm down.  Just say the minimum.  One non-martyrish sentence devoid of  rage will do.  Then stop talking and I'm going to walk away and do yoga.  Because that's what good moms do.

This of course is never quite how it goes down. 

Oh, I start off with the one carefully crafted non-martyrish, rageless sentence that took me over a half an hour to construct.  Sometimes even over a day, depending on the exact circumstances of the incident.  And then said child retorts.  They're defensive because I'm on the offensive and now we're on two competing teams and I'm not gonna be on the losing one.  Because I'm the parent, dammit!  Which is when I start to lose it.  (It was actually much earlier in the scenario, but for the sake of the shards of my remaining dignity, let's pretend ok?)  I can feel the pressure building like a shaken soda bottle.  Just one more small twist and I'm going to spew everywhere.   And a half and hour martyrish lecture ensues.  And I'm filled with regret and remorse.

This could've all been avoided if my kids just went to the pool!
Written in the most non-martyrish font ever.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Pack It Up

Although summer's cunning agent will tell you that summer is about relaxing we all know it's not. Summer is about trying to fit everything you want to do into the two and a half months you have to do it.  Take off at least half a month for rain days and buying school supplies to send your kids back to school.  Ok, take off a whole month for that.  So, you're left with a month and a half to pack in everything you want to do over the summer.  And everything you want to do will require one thing.


Don't forget the sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, hats, sunglasses, towels, goggles and, of course, most important, the food.  And then the real you really want to pack that potato salad?  With all that mayo, that will be in the cooler for an undetermined amount of time, maybe even sitting in the sun.  DO YOU?  And if you do decide to risk it, don't forget to pack forks and plates.  But not those cheap paper plates that collapse when you put food on them.  And for god's sake, not the Styrofoam ones that don't biodegrade.  No, the expensive thick Chinet ones that you can use as kindling to start the fire for s'mores.  Don't tell me you forgot to pack the marshmallows.  Amateur!

Of course, that's not the worst of it.

It never is.  The worst of it, obviously, is camping.  Packing enough (non-mayonnaise based) food to last x amount of people (in our case 6, including teens with voracious appetites) for x amount of days. Food that will be floating in a lukewarm puddle of water by day two of your camping trip no matter what kind of ice packs you use.  It's inevitable.  It's also inevitable that the entire camping trip will be spent reminding kids that open the cooler every 15 minutes to shut the freakin' lid to the cooler.  Seriously, this the summer battle cry of parents everywhere that can be heard echoing from every pool, campground and backyard barbecue all summer long.  SHUT THE (insert expletive of your choice here taking into account the age of the child of course) COOLER!

Of course, that's still not the worst of it.

Did your kid forget to pack their hoodie?  Swimsuit?  Extra underwear?  Their glasses that they wear on their face every day of their life?  And forget a toothbrush, they definitely forgot that.  And did you forget to lock your food away at night and become a bear magnet?  Neglect packing wine?  You really are an amateur aren't you?  The wine gets packed first, in a perfectly packable Bota Box and the cardboard box can be used for kindling.  The empty bladder can be filled with water, hung from a tree and left in the sun to be used as a camp shower. This becomes a really appealing option on day 3 or more of camping.  I hope you didn't forget to pack  Campsuds so you can wash your greasy, matted down hair that reeks of ashy campfire.  And don't forget your pits.  

No, that's still not the worst of it.

The worst is coming home with a not-so-fresh crotch on little sleep because those assholes in the next campsite were singing Poison songs til 1am and then the birds started singing before 5am then having to unpack and wash everything you brought with you.  And I mean all of it.  But, then 5 days later, when everything's finally put away and all the snafus have become hilarious stories your family will tell for years to come, that's when your kid's head starts itching.  Your kid, who forgot to pack a pillow. who substituted someone else's random hoodie at camp, as a cushion.  Your kid who now has lice.  And you have to go through the list of everything you packed AND all the bedding (and everything else) in your entire house and wash it all over again with a whole new fervor.  

ADDENDUM:  The lice incident is a true life story that happened to one of my kids (who shall remain nameless due to the shame* factor) two summers ago.  We still don't know the exact origins of the lice because you can't exactly post "Whose (insert expletive of your choice here) kid gave my kid lice?" on Facebook because my kids are also on Facebook totally inhibiting my freedom to mortify them on social media.  Though I somehow (unintentionally) still manage to.

*Also, let's take the shame out of lice.  It only infects clean hair.  I may have repeated this over five hundred times that summer as my other kids mercilessly teased my lice infected kid, but only because they somehow miraculously escaped it themselves.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016


I have a gift.  Although it's not gifting things to other people.  Because I'm terrible at that.  It's not for lack of thought either.  In fact, if anything, I over think my way out of buying things for people because I'll convince myself it's not perfect enough.  Kinda the way I do with everything else.

My gift is screwing things (like gifts) up.  

Unfortunately, I'm married to a stellar gift giver.  Somehow he's able to look deep into the recipient's soul, then hand selects and presents the perfect present.   Do you know how stressful this is?  Creating an imbalance in our marriage.  I can't compete with this!  Not that this is a competition.  But, really it kind of is.  Even though he told me it doesn't matter.  I know it totally does.

 Because relationships are all about reciprocity. 

So, I started thinking about what to get my husband for Father's Day.  I thought about all the things he likes to do.  Fixing old cars, gardening, bird watching, camping, hiking and being outdoors.  Then it came to me.  I'd get him a kayak or a paddle board.  Except, somehow, without me saying a word or leaving an open window researching these things on-line, he figured it out.  "Don't get me a kayak or a paddle board, ok?"


Back to square one.  Then I did what everyone else does to convey their love and gratitude for the man in their life.   I got him stuff for the grill.  Namely, a pizza stone and salt plates that you throw on the grill and cook on infusing food with a subtle Himalayan pink saltiness.  Then I showed the kids.  "This is all stuff you like, mom", my youngest and most direct child informed me.  And she was totally right.  I'd just bought myself a Father's Day gift.  

Because shopping for someone else guarantees you'll find a gift... 
for yourself. 

It was immediately after that, a couple weeks before Father's Day when my husband handed me a list, a cheat sheet, of things he wanted.  Ok, so now I could redeem myself in like a super lame way.  But still, redemption is redemption.  And I was beyond caring at this point.  I was going to reciprocate so hard.   So, I ordered an item that seemed perfect; a scope for him to look at birds.  This was definitely a selfless act of love that would represent how much I appreciate him, because I hate birds.   I know that makes me a horrible person, but I think I've already clearly established that at this point.  

There's nothing like giving someone the perfect gift.

Of course, that's not what I did though.  I ordered the wrong one.  I had a list and I ordered the wrong scope.  Because, I'll say it again, I'm gifted at screwing up!  I did ask him for a clickable list next time.  How can I screw that up?  I'm positive there's a way.  And that I'll find it.

(Also, it's my daughter Jade's 15th birthday today.
She will not be getting the horse on her list.
But she'll be able to drive a car she doesn't even need a horse.)

Monday, June 20, 2016


Summer when you get to laze around basking in the warmth of the sun untethered from the constraints of a schedule.   It sounds so idyllic.  But, I assure you it's not.  Because although I have downtime, with four kids, two dogs and one minivan I'm never sure how long it will last.  And usually it's as soon as I hop up on the hammock settling in with a book and it gradually stops swinging.  (Which is precisely when my dogs, Bonnie & Clyde, took off after a rabbit and ended up at an impromptu play date at their dog friend's house down the road and I had to go retrieve my Labrador Retrievers.  Right after this picture was taken. True story.)

The dog days of summer are actually spent chasing the dogs.

Not to mention the kids who invade my work space all summer.  Working from home means I don't get any work done over the summer.  Because although my kids are teens and extremely capable, (at least in theory) they are unable to find things like their shoes and whether we have jalapenos or not without a step by step tutorial in how to tackle this particular crisis from me.  Which doesn't make me feel important.  Just frustrated.  How don't they know this?  Also, how don't they realize the music they're blaring sucks?  Plus, I really need to keep a stash of non-organic foods for my kids friends I know don't eat organic at home.  Because their bodies are already polluted with crap and feeding them is getting expensive.  And honestly, I don't even like some of these kids.  

Sometimes when my kids do leave the house, it will inevitably be in four different directions.  At four  different, but overlapping times and they'll all need a ride.  And then all of their plans will change several times requiring a texting marathon with each of them.  (Besides the youngest who doesn't have a cell phone and will have to bum a phone from her friend or her friend's mom like a peasant.)  You know what I don't do well with?  Lack of structure and constant change.  Which is what the entire summer is.  Little snippets of time in which I can't even finish reading a chapter in a book.  Also, did I mention we don't have air conditioning in my house?  So my house is like a hotbox used for torture.  Which just exacerbates my stress.

And my kids wonder why I'm pissed lately.  
Because it's summer.
And I won't get any real downtime until fall. 
When they go back to school. 


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