Tuesday, April 30, 2013

952. Z Is for Zoo with Zero Zebras

When my younger son, Short, was about three years old, he became obsessed with zebras.  He adored stuffed animal zebras, books about zebras, sticker of zebras … basically anything that had a picture of a zebra on it, he wanted.  How thrilled were we when we received an invitation in the mail to the local zoo for a free trial membership. 

It was summer, so I did not even have to pull my older son, Tall, out of school for the outing.  Both children were excited to see lions, tigers, and zebras—oh my! 
The day started out uneventfully:  a cheetah, a gorilla, a few snakes.  We progressed on to the elephants and then the giraffes.  I was saving the big highlight for right after lunch—the threat of no zebras would guarantee our mealtime would remain calm and orderly. 

Sure enough, something upset Short at lunch (the fact that his apple juice was lukewarm, if you must know) and he began to have a meltdown verging dangerously close to full-blown tantrum.  I took his favorite stuffed animal Zebra (nickname: “Zeebie”) out of his stroller and gave Short a stern lecture: 
“See this?  Zebra?  You love zebras, right?  We came to see zebras.  If you have gooooooood behavior, we can see the zebras.  If you don’t, then … no.  We will go home.” 

His dour expression changed instantly, and the crying and whining stopped.  He morphed into the Stepford child I had always dreamed of having:  quiet, obedient, and profoundly sorry for causing a problem. 
“I sorry, Mommy.”  (Sniff) “I want to see zebras.  I be good now.” 

He nodded his little head apologetically, forced a smile, and with that, I knew I had won. 
“Good, Short.  You made the right decision.  Because you are having good behavior, we will go see the zebras now.” 

I was going to keep this trick up my sleeve for future use as well.  We could come to the zoo every single week for the rest of eternity if it meant good behavior at mealtimes.  Heck, we could move in with the zebras.  I was ready to go to the zoo membership office right then and there, credit card in hand, to buy a lifetime membership for our entire family.  Why had other parents not thought of the Zebra Method of good parenting?  I was secretly considering patenting it. 
We threw away our lunch trash and excitedly headed over to the zebra pens.  There was some sort of wall or barricade with signs directing us through a detour.  As we approached, Tall started to read the sign out loud, clearly enunciating every syllable: 

“We apologize for the inconvenience, but the Zebra Habitat is temporarily closed for repairs and remodeling.  We will reopen in—” 
I could not react fast enough.  I was internally debating putting my hands over Tall’s mouth (and really, what kind of school teaches a 5 ½ year-old to read big words with that kind of accuracy?!) or putting my hands over Short’s ears.  My slow response caused me to do neither. 

“Milkshakes!” I screamed.  “Who wants milkshakes from the Milkshake Hut we just passed?  Ooh, I bet they have chocolate!”  Distract, distract, distract.    
“Zebras!” squawked Short, refusing to be distracted.  “I want to see zebras NOW!” 

I felt horrible.  Through my own stupidity, I had talked up the zebras.  I had used the zebras as a threat, and then, conversely, as a reward.  Now the damn zebras were beating me at my own game, a crazy game that I never really wanted to play in the first place.  How was I supposed to tell Short he could not see the zebras even after he had good behavior at lunch?  He would never trust me again.    
I did the only thing I could think of:  took Short to see the Mongolian wild horses that I knew from the zoo map were a mere two minute walk down the path.  The wild horses were not black and white striped, nor even black and white spotted; they were … brown.  Plain, boring, medium brown.  The color of dirt.    

“Look, Sweetie, look!  Zebras!  Brown zebras!”  I pointed at the Mongolian wild horses and began to jump up and down, like I was on crack.    
Just because Short was a three-years-old toddler did not mean he was dumb.  He shook his head emphatically no and said, “Mommy, those are horses.” 

Tall looked at me like I was insane.  He took a deep breath and began,
“Mom, the sign says—”

I grabbed Tall, pulled him close to me, and whispered in his ear:  “I will buy you a new Lego set if you go along with whatever I say next.” 
Tall’s eyes got wide; his mom had clearly lost any traces of sanity here at the zoo. 

I cleared my throat.  “Boys, the sign says, Przewalski’s horses, or Dzungarian horses, are a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to central Asia, specifically Mongolia.  Sometimes referred to as ‘International Plain Brown Zebras.’  International Plain Brown Zebras!  You are so lucky you get to see these!  They are so unbelievably rare!  WOW!”
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Tall reading the sign quietly to himself again.  It took every shred of self-restraint that he possessed to not contradict me, but he has always been the son who can focus on the bigger gain (new Lego set) and give up the instant gratification (calling mommy out).  He stayed silent. 

In this moment, I was praising Short’s preschool teachers for rejecting all my previous helpful suggestions of flashcards and daily quizzing to get him reading early.  In fact, I was almost wishing we had watched more TV all those mornings when we were drawing or reading instead. 
Short looked at me.  He looked at Tall.  He looked at the horses.  And then he burst into applause. 

“Inner-naznal Plain Brown Zebras!  Yay!  They almost look like horses!” 
“Yes, Sweetie, they are from the same family, you are so smart!  Yes, but they are not!  They are actually a special type of zebra!” 

By this time, I was attracting a small crowd of interested zoo-goers who were not familiar with the myriad variations in the zebra species.  Specifically, a few zoo employees. 

I was not about to stick around and wait to be corrected by these khaki-uniformed zealots, so I ushered my children quickly to the car.  I was worried that Tall might say something deleterious when we got there, but he didn’t. 

And that explains why, whenever we pass a farm and happen to see a certain type of exotic creature, Short inevitably squeals,
“Oh, look, Mommy!  Inner-naznal Plain Brown Zebras!” 


Monday, April 29, 2013

951. Y Is for Youth and How to Keep It

Our society is obsessed with youth.  I remember being young (say, 20 or so), and feeling like no one would take me seriously.  Any HR person at any job I applied for eyed me suspiciously—Do you have any experience?—and I recall looking forward with eager anticipation to the day when my face and seriousness-taking factor would match. 

Oh, they match all right.  Everyone takes me seriously now. 
I go to the mall and those teeny-bopper kiosk girls shove eye cream samples at me as I walk by.  I go to the doctor and he suggests I switch to a high-fiber cereal and start working out immediately.  I go to Short’s soccer game and I overhear his coach ask him if that gray-haired lady (me) is his grandmother. 

But there is one place where I always look good, always look young, no matter what:  standing next to my brother. 
You see, he is 6’5” and built like a football player.  A very large football player with a nickname like “Tank.”  That means when I stand next to him in pictures I look like Petite Ballerina Barbie in comparison.  And since he is so tall, if we happen to take photos outside, I of course end up in the shade of him (like he is a giant tree or something) which tends to diminish those troublesome little lines that have found their way around my eyes and forehead.  I appear shadowy, and as we all know, shadowy = young. 

Most recently I went to England to visit my brother.  He is stationed there in the military.  We took a day trip to Stonehenge and of course took a few photos.  In the car I stared at my iPhone photos in awe:  I look 25!  Maybe even 20!  I don’t need to eat more fiber or use eye cream or fix my highlights—I just need to stand next to my brother all the time! 
Don't tell The Husband and my kids, but effective immediately, we are all moving to England.  And I won’t be packing any eye cream. 


Saturday, April 27, 2013

950. X Is for eXcuses

I don’t feel like writing today.  Twenty-six letters is a lot, and I am now eXhausted.  I will try to write something entertaining for Y and Z on Monday and Tuesday. 

Have a good week-end. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

949. W Is for Washing Machine Funeral

It was premature to even plan the funeral until my dear friend had actually died, but I knew she was getting close.  She had already lived a solid decade longer than anyone could have predicted, even with her present “condition,” which had symptoms of loud banging and clanking, along with excessive speeds at awkward intervals.  I had looked it up online and found out she had “Spinning Disorder” which was not curable.  Her life span would be less than one month at this point, and that was a generous estimate.    

The Husband was clearly on her side, and would have none of it when I brought up the subject of her imminent demise and (more happily) her replacement. 
“How can you even talk about Washing Machine like that?  I thought you loved Washing Machine,” he started, making me question my intimacy level with not only Washing Machine, but also with The Husband.  “I think we can get another few years out of her, and besides, I think she can hear us talking about her.” 

Now this was quite the reversal.  I was usually the one who ascribed personality traits and sometimes even names to inanimate objects, not The Husband.  Normally, he was pragmatic. 
“Sweetie,” I countered, “let’s be realistic.  Washing Machine was here when we bought the house almost four years ago, and she had already served her 20-year tour of duty for the previous owner.  Twenty-four in ‘appliance years’ is like 110 in people years.  She is beyond elderly, she’s ... ancient.”

The Husband adopted a peculiar look, a look of horror, mixed with disgust, with a dash of determination thrown in.  I had seen this same look before, right after my car engine died three years ago and had to be replaced.  The Husband was exhibiting classic signs of denial. 
“MOV, Washing Machine is not dead yet, and I refuse to acknowledge the possibility.” 

“Look, Sweetie, we just got our tax refund—$700!  And that is exactly what a decent quality washer costs.  Let’s go to Sears, scope out a few, and make a decision.”
The Husband shook his head forlornly.    

“No.  No.  I refuse.” 
He disappeared to the basement, and came back a few minutes later as if nothing had happened. 

“We’re going to Sears,” he said, getting his jacket. 
I tried to suppress my smug attitude and a devious smile, but I knew I had won. 

“MOV, Washing Machine is fine,” he clarified.  “Now Dryer won’t start.” 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

946. V Is for (Punchline)

Having two little boys means that they must accompany you on errands from time to time or you will remain on permanent house arrest for several years.  When I had my first baby, I tentatively dragged him to the grocery store or Target every few weeks; when I had my second son, I felt comfortable enough to take both kids to the vet or the bank or dry cleaner daily if need be.  It was all a matter of choosing a time of day when everyone was rested and well-fed. 

So I thought nothing of taking my adorable son Tall (age 3 and a half at the time) and his one-year-old baby brother to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things. 
We had made our serpentine way around the aisles, picking up such essentials as bread, milk, juice, and frozen chicken nuggets.  I casually threw some chocolate cookies into the cart when the children were momentarily distracted by the guy giving out fajita samples. 

And then it happened. 
We turned a corner, heading to the check-out area, and Tall tugged excitedly on my sleeve, indicating something momentous. 

“Mommy, look!” he proclaimed, pointing.  “Over there, look! 
I was expecting to see Big Bird or Godzilla or at the very least, a cantaloupe display that had tipped over and blocked the ice-cream aisle.  Instead, he was pointing to a section of the store that I was already intimately familiar with. 

“Vino, Mommy!  Vino!  Your favorite!”  Now he was yelling, in his sweet little preschooler “outside” voice, a voice that was suddenly attracting a lot of unwanted attention from Trader Joe employees and other customers.  Anyone within a one-mile radius was craning their neck to look over at the mommy who clearly was a lush.    
I kept walking, feeling my face turn 100 shades of Valentine red, trying to ignore my son and silently pretending that he had just followed me in here and I had never met him before.  Tall was oblivious to my reaction, so he continued with his “helpfulness.”  He was quite exasperated with me at this point. 

“Mommy!  Mommy!  Don’t forget your vino!”  

At this point I realized that the only way to get him to stop screaming out was to put a bottle or five of vino into the cart.  He smiled, proud of himself for assisting his mommy in remembering something so crucial to her everyday existence.   
So, yes, the letter V is for … vino. 

("Mistress Of Vino")

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

945. U Is for Uncles in Hawaii Playing Ukuleles

We don’t have any uncles in Hawaii playing ukuleles.  We don’t even have any non-ukulele-playing uncles in Hawaii.  We have regular uncles, living regular uncle lives in boring states like Montana. 

Okay, that is a lie.  No one in our family lives in Montana, and I am sure it is a lovely state.  But if we had an uncle in Hawaii, it would pretty much be a given that he would be rich. 
Who wouldn’t want a rich uncle in Hawaii so you could go visit him and stay with him in his palatial oceanfront estate? 

Damn my geographically-challenged boring DNA chain.  No Hawaii.  No ukuleles. 
Honestly, he does not have to play ukulele, but as a general Hawaii stereotype, it seems like all the cool Hawaiians do.  Maybe the ukuleles are presented to the children in the preschool classes, or heck, maybe they are right there in the delivery room when baby makes his first appearance.  They spend their lives around ukuleles and pick it up by osmosis.    

My sons have a lovely uncle that they call “Uncle Ra-Ra.”  It is a variation of his real name, because Tall could not pronounce it when he was two and learning to talk.  The Ra-Ra stuck, and we all still call him that.  I somehow feel I am at a pep rally for a football game whenever I say his name—Ra-ra!  Shish boom ba!  Ra-ra!  Gooooooo, team!
I keep hinting to Ra-Ra that he should A. Move to Hawaii, and B. Get rich, and don’t forget C. Learn to play the ukulele.  He staunchly refuses to do any of those, instead preferring to live his normal life with zero consideration for my free vacation plans.  He makes a radical suggestion: 

“MOV, why don’t you move to Hawaii?  Then you can be the crazy sister-in-law who moved to Hawaii.” 
Well, at least he got the crazy right. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

944. T Is for Track

My older son, Tall, came home from school one day recently and announced that he was “trying out” for track.  First of all, he is in third grade and there are not that many kids who want to run track, so pretty much whoever shows up gets to be on the team.  Second, he is an extremely fast runner, so I knew that even if there were “try outs,” he would be accepted.  Third, I was thrilled that Tall would be involved in a sport that was focused on speed, as opposed to a sport like baseball that is apparently focused on watching disabled snails compete with turtles in wheelchairs.  I am not saying that baseball is a slow sport, but … okay, yes I am.      

Boy, was I wrong about everything.  Not the part about Tall being fast enough for track, he is very fast.  I was wrong about no one else wanting to run track, because when I showed up to the first meet, there were 300 students there. 
Three hundred kids.  Not all of them can race each other at the same time, obviously, so they are broken into little groups of six.  And most of the kids want to run in two or three different “events,” not just one.  Do the math.  Three hundred divided by six, times two or three.  That equals eleventy billion combinations of runners competing against each other in races of varying lengths with zero regard to parents' schedules or desires to relax on the weekend. 

I was not prepared for this. 
I am a soccer and basketball mom.  Those games have clocks and whistles and timers and 15 minute quarters.  Everyone knows what they are getting into when they go to a game or a practice.  Go to a soccer game at 10 am and you can still make it to brunch at 11:15.  Watch a basketball game at 1 pm, and you are guaranteed to be done in time for that 2 pm birthday party.    

Not so with track.  Our entire family showed up at the meet at 12 noon, and we were walking out of there at … brace yourself here … 5 pm.  That’s right, 5 pm.  How is that even possible?  Five full hours of running?  For my son to only run a total of three races (sprints!) of less than two minutes each?
And I noticed a strange phenomenon after the first few hours:  some parents left early.  Their child was done competing, and so they just ... left.  At first, I was indignant.  How dare they leave when others are not done yet?  And then I decided that they were actually really really smart, and that we, too, would leave as soon as Tall was done.  Turns out, Tall was in the second to last race, so we would not be leaving early.  I went back to feeling indignant.   
As we walked to the car after five brutal hours watching children run while their younger siblings waited valiantly, my younger son, Short, turned to me and observed wryly,  

“Mommy, I don’t think track is a very fast sport after all.”

Monday, April 22, 2013

943. S Is for Show, Don't Tell

Show, don’t tell.  My 9th grade English teacher used to run around the classroom, tapping an imaginary ruler in her hand while crying out in sudden angry bursts, “Show, don’t tell!” 

I had no idea what she was talking about. 

I didn’t want to look stupid though, by asking the question that the other 99% of the students seemed to already knew the answer to, so I would just nod-nod-nod.  Of course, of course, I get it!  My nods were very convincing.  If you nod enough, anyone will believe you.  

Sure, I get it!  I do!  I get it!    

(I didn’t really get it.)  
About 20 years later, I had my Oprah Winfrey lightbulb moment when I was explaining my definition of good writing to a friend. 

“Don't write a phrase like ‘I am cold.’  That is punching the reader in the face with the obvious.  Try something more subtle like, ‘I forgot my coat and it began to snow,’ that way the reader has to connect the dots.  Instead of saying something predictable like, ‘I’m tired,’ try to write something creative that shows you are tired such as ‘The neighbors had a party and blared heavy metal through the paper-thin walls until 3 AM, and then I had to be up at 6 for work.  No pot of coffee is large enough for me today.’  The reader figures out you are tired, and your words actually have more impact that way.  You write the situation without spelling it out for the reader, you let them do the translations for themselves.” 
(And as an aside to my 9th grade teacher:  Better late than never, right?)   


Saturday, April 20, 2013

942. R Is for Rejection From James Spader in My Sleep

I grew up in the era of Pretty in Pink and Less Than Zero, so it is a given that I have continually held a not-so-secret crush on James Spader.  The floppy hair, the sardonic laugh, the aura about him that he knows everything and is merely tolerating people.  Ah, yes, I loved him. 

So it should come as no surprise that he made a guest appearance in one of my dreams the other night.

He was his usual hot James self, and I was me, and he had no idea who I was.  He was also very much married (!) so that seemed to put a slight dent in my plan to seduce him (at this point, I feel compelled to apologize to my real-life husband who was conspicuously absent in said dream—sorry, Hon, I don’t control this stuff). 

Okay, so where was I?  Oh, yeah, James.  So we happened to be in some sort of fancy-schmancy hotel (note to subconscious:  please reserve this set for future dreams as well), and I somehow ran into James in the lobby and starting swooning and telling him how I was a huge fan of his and had seen all his movies, like, five times (to be perfectly honest, not Supernova or Alien Hunter, those looked kinda dumb in the previews).  He was vaguely polite, the way you might be to one of those people at the little kiosks in the mall trying to trick you into buying hand lotion by asking you what time it is.  He smiled condescendingly (his trademark!) and then left. 

What he didn’t know is that I followed him, and that is when I saw him go into a suite with his tiny perfect Asian wife.  (Not even sure if he is married in real life, but in the dream his wife was very gorgeous and movie-star-ish.) 

While James disappeared into his room with Mrs. James, I was temporarily distracted by a vehicle I just noticed was parked nearby.  It was one of those ubiquitous food trucks, but instead of selling gyro sandwiches and lukewarm sodas, it was selling high-end designer shoes.  This might have been the best part of my dream, because all the shoes were my size (8, if you must know). 

James and I did not end up together, but I ended up with the type of shoes that Charlize Theron most definitely would have worn in Two Days in the Valley. 

So that means I win.  Because James might notice me tomorrow night. 


Friday, April 19, 2013

941. Q Is for Quote

My sons constantly say things that amuse me.  Here is the latest example (courtesy of my 6-year-old): 

SHORT:  Mommy... I need to ask you something.  Do I have a birth mother?
MOV:  (trying hard not to laugh) Yes, of course you do.  

SHORT:  Who is it? 

MOV:  Me.   

MOV:  I said, it's me. 

SHORT:  No, Mommy, seriously.

Turns out, someone is his class has a birth mother and shared that detail during morning announcements.  Now Short is obsessed with finding out who his real birth mother is, and was truly disappointed to find out that I am both the mother raising him AND his birth mother. 
Poor thing. 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

940. P Is for Point Counter Point Point Point

You know how on any successful TV sitcom there are two characters that at any given moment like to debate each other on basically any topic?  Think Chandler and Joey on Friends.  They start discussing something and then comically go back and forth in a verbal volley, and we are just along for the ride, a really fun ride at Disneyland that we don’t want to end.

Reading Christian and Pat’s blog, Point Counter Point Point Point, is like that.  (And, my jealous confession:  why did I not think of sharing my blog with another writer?  Two writers + one blog = half the writing requirement.  Brilliant.)  Christian and Pat are like the Pirates of the Caribbean of the blogging world with a little bit of Indiana Jones and Space Mountain thrown in (suggestion, guys, if you are reading this:  do a post about what is the best ride at Disneyland).  They are captivating and adventurous and sometimes a little bit “out there” ... and they really should have a two hour wait and require an "E" ticket.   
The blog post I am linking you to is about one of them (the funny one?  the smart one?  anyway, one of them) inadvertently stalking a couple in real life from House Hunters.  Who knew such a thing was possible—apparently it is though. 

Go on over, have a read, then tell them MOV sent you.  You’ll be glad you did. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

939. O Is for Other People’s Kids

I noticed a strange phenomenon when I had a baby:  everyone assumed that because I loved my newborn, I loved every child.  It was as if they thought because I produced this 7-pound tiny human being, I must adore anyone born in a year with a two-zero prefix.    

Not so.     
I love the idea of children, their cherubic faces happy and laughing on a Gap Kids commercial on TV (on mute).  Children are darling when they are doing fun, but quiet and important activities, like sleeping. 

Heck, I can’t even stand my own children sometimes, let alone other people’s.  But here’s the difference:  I am allowed to discipline my own kids. 
Tall gets mouthy?  Whoops, he won’t get that playdate with Justin tomorrow after all.  Short hits his brother?  Guess we will have to cancel that trip to the aquarium.  My children know there are consequences for their behavior. 

Sometimes I feel alone.  I witness other moms do the dreaded count to three … but then nothing happens when they get there.  There are no repercussions.  Life is one long threat. 
In my mind, I correct naughty children at the grocery store.  Taylor, climb down from that shelf immediately or you will not get to go to Isabel’s birthday party.  Michael, stop racing the cart down the aisles and running into people or you will lose video games for a month.  Sophie, stop kicking the cantaloupe display or you will not get to go to ballet lessons this afternoon. 

The trick is:  follow thru. 
Hey, I don’t want to be the bad guy in my household either, the one my kids hate.  But it is more important to me that my kids respect me than like me. 

I am their parent, not their friend. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

938. N Is for Not Blond Enough

As a small child, I used to be blond.  When I became a teenager, I attempted to help genetics along with lemon juice or Sun-In, a popular (and possibly now illegal) chemical spray to help the sun bleach out my by-then-mousy locks. 

In college, I was firmly committed to the blondness strategy that would come to rule the next decade of my life.  Go to the hairdresser, get professional highlights, pay crazy amounts of money.  This ritual happened several times a year, whenever my roots became so brown that I couldn’t accept it any longer. 
When you live in California and you go to the hairdresser as often as I did, you end up looking pretty darned blond.  I am not talking Marilyn-Monroe-peroxide-bleach-blond, but at least in the family of Cameron Diaz or Reese Witherspoon. 

Then I moved to the East Coast.  Suddenly, the hairdressers I went to could not understand the Blondness Language I was speaking.      
“I want all-over heavy blond highlights.  Here, like this photo of Gwyneth Paltrow.” 

“So, MOV, you’re saying you want me to weave some darker brown strands throughout to add some dimension and tone down the excessive bleachiness?”
This ugly pattern has continued for the past eight years:  Find a new hairdresser, make an appointment, beg for blond, walk out with Julia Roberts’ dark blond hair instead of the Charlize Theron tresses I was born to have. 

It happened again today with a new hairdresser.  The result is that my roots are no longer gray, but neither am I the blond bombshell I was hoping for.  I wait for The Husband to get home from work so I can show him my new highlights.  He walks in the door, takes one look at me and says,

“Oh, so I see you cancelled your hair appointment.” 
Yeah.  That is his reaction.  I get indignant and show him how there are no more gray hairs on top, but he does not really notice either way. 

At night, when I put Short to bed, he leans in to hug me.  He studies my face for a minute and then declares,
“Mommy, you know what would make you prettier?  If your hair was blond.”

Yep.  I know. 


Monday, April 15, 2013

937. M Is for Mom

Cheering loudly in the front row
Double-checking homework assignments
Driving short people to various activities
Staying up all night when someone is sick
Finding Legos in her underwear drawer
Receiving sticky hugs
Beaming with pride—always


Saturday, April 13, 2013

936. L Is for Lists

I was born making lists.  In the delivery room, I made sure the nurse weighed me, my father took a picture, and the doctor did a blood test.  Only then could I feel confident to proceed with my day because the big items were checked off the list. 

This list-making obsession continued throughout my childhood.  I would organize backyard kickball tournaments, but just knowing in my head who was on the team was not enough.  It would need to be recorded in navy ballpoint pen in 2-dimensional list form.    
In college, lists were elevated to a whole new level.  I know you are thinking this is how I juggled my classes, but it was actually how I juggled the five different guys I was dating all at once.  I would make lists of the pros and cons of each one.  It was exhausting. 

Once I became a mommy, I could not get through my day without first making a list.  The list would include all my goals for the next 24-hours, realistic things like “Buy cereal,” but sometimes alternate items such as “Take saxophone lessons” or “Learn to knit” would find themselves sneaking onto my lists.  I also have a peculiar habit of adding things to the list after I have already completed them merely so I can cross them off.  For example, if I end up picking up the dry cleaning today instead of tomorrow, you'd better believe I squeeze it onto the list. 
Lists give me immense satisfaction.  I am embarrassed to admit that I now make lists of my lists, sort of an all-encompassing master list to keep me sane.   

Excuse me while I go cross off “Write blog post for letter L (A to Z Challenge).”  Check! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

934. J Is for Just Inappropriate

Meet my friend Mary. 

You know that really cool girl in high school, the one that got an “A” on every test, dated the captain of the football team, had the best wardrobe, perfect hair, and everyone loved her? 
You remember her?  That was not Mary.   

Recall instead your best friend who sat next to you in Calculus class, and the two of you passed notes back and forth making fun of Miss Perfect and you both marveled at how her hair accessories were perfectly color-coordinated every day to match her flawless nail polish while your pal Mary somehow had trouble wearing two socks that matched.             
Yeah, that’s Mary.  The best friend you giggled with.  The super-funny one who would forget to study for the quiz on Friday, just like you.   

Mary writes a blog now, and I have no idea why she is not ultra-famous, like Madonna or Marie Curie or Margaret Thatcher.      
Mary may not be ultra-famous (yet), but she is funny and endearing.  She is the only one I know who could mess up ordering waffles.      

Go read her blog, Just Inappropriate.  You’ll be glad you did.  (And tell her MOV sent you.)    

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

933. I Is for Ikea

Ikea is a store that has lots of really cool streamlined Swedish furniture that makes you want to throw away everything you own and start over. You think if you owned this stuff you would have really cool streamlined dinner parties with really cool streamlined friends who speak Swedish.    

I go there sometimes to get ideas.  I usually get a new end table instead. 
The only down side to Ikea is that for them to keep their prices low, the furniture comes unassembled.  That’s right:  you have to put it together. 

Sometimes the fact that I only paid $100 for a stylish couch makes the 12 hours of actually building the couch totally worth it, but that is not what I am thinking when I reach hour number nine and sweat is dripping off my nose and slat G will not click properly into slat H and it seems I am missing plastic piece J and no one is answering the 800 number for the “Help Line” and I have misplaced the Allen wrench again. 
In that moment, I am thinking I should have just bought a Pottery Barn couch that comes already built and cost $5000.  That is what Visa cards are for. 
At least then I would not have random “extra” metal pieces strewn about my living room floor and young children mocking me with their cruel taunts of “Mommy, you’re still not done yet?”        
My dad and step-mom Nichole have a continuing love affair with all things Ikea.  We fly to visit them and they merrily announce that their local Ikea has free breakfast at 9:30 on Mondays!  Who wants to go? 

Please do not think that I don’t like Ikea, because I do.  It’s just that … well, imagine what breakfast would be like there: