Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fort Wilderness Camping with the Girl Scouts - Day 1

So to continue the nature-loving trend I'm having here on Domestic Spaz, it's time to talk a little about last weekend's camping trip.

It wasn't really intentional that we planned a weekend camping trip for the girl scouts on Easter weekend.  It was more of a "Hey! We need to book a camping trip! The girls don't have school that Friday, let's book one then!" and bam reservations were made.

It didn't really pose much of a problem for our troop, luckily, as out of sixteen girls, only three decided they couldn't make it.  In the end, two more dropped out due to health issues.  So Friday morning we gathered at my co-leader's house at the crack of dawn to begin our adventure.

We had gathered most of the girls gear the night before and put it in the topper on my van.  The Man packed that sucker like a game of duffel bag tetris and I warned everyone not to even think about opening it until we had arrived at Fort Wilderness.

The real challenge was packing up the open trailer we were using to bring up the tents and food and BIKES.  Luckily, my co-leader's husband was willing to pack it up nice and securely for the ride up.  Since we're smartypantses, we took pictures of the trailer in order to remember how to pack it up to come home. This would be the first of our genius moves of the weekend.

We got on the road a little late, but managed the 3 hour drive without incident.

The trailer and all of its contents remained secure and once we arrived on our campsite we managed to back it into place and unhook it from the Suburban that had pulled it up there.

Nevermind that we forgot temporarily to actually unlock it from the trailer hitch and managed to actually pick the back of the Suburban off the ground while attempting to unhook it.  And nevermind that the block we placed underneath the front of the trailer wasn't exactly level, causing the trailer to roll backward and KACHUNK on the ground. No one was injured and all was well. And we did it.

We quickly ate a sandwich lunch because we were all starving.  Then our first real challenge (aside from the trailer) was to set up camp.  We had three tents for the girls and one ginormous tent for the five leaders and two adjacent campsites to utilize.  So we decided to put all the girls on one site and then put the leaders on the site with the trailer and all of the cooking stuff.  This would be the second of our genius moves of the weekend.

The girls tents quickly started going up.  Until we got to the tent I had brought for the girls.  Now, the last person to use this tent was The Man's cousin when she took our kids and her kids camping with the boy scouts.  I was actually in Pittsburgh at the time, but evidently when the tent was returned it was a little disheveled.  The Man was dealing with an arm injury at the time, so I guess when he attempted to return the tent to its original condition, he forgot to make sure that the entire structure of tent poles and framing was put in the bag with the tent.

I had planned on setting up the tent at home before the trip just to make sure nothing like this happened... but time caught up with me (as it usually does) and it never happened.  So you can imagine my frustration when I realized that the tent I had brought for the girls wasn't going to happen.


Luckily, we had to make a run to Walmart for food just after setting up camp, so the troop could purchase another tent while we were there. Crisis averted.

While one of the leaders and I ventured off to Walmart, the other three leaders took the girls to the pool.  There is an awesome bus line that runs throughout Fort Wilderness that will get you pretty much wherever you need to go.  But the girls wanted to ride their bikes.  And when they had played all of the cards they could play to get us to agree to let them ride their bikes to the pool (that we weren't sure where it actually was), they played the final card.

"But it's EARTH DAY!"

And off on their bikes they all went.

After the pool and the trip to Walmart, we started dinner for the girls. The girls had planned the menu, so Friday's dinner was spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread.

Time was of the essence (as it always is), so we decided to make a big pot of spaghetti and drive the girls over to the movie (there's a movie under the stars every night at Fort Wilderness) and let them eat the spaghetti there.

So we drove them over (as close as we could drive them, a lot of Fort Wilderness is bike & golf cart accessible only) and set up an assembly line of plates and forks for them to get their spaghetti and walk over to the movie.

The pot was on the floor of the front passenger seat of my van and to serve it, we had the brilliant idea of me putting my hand in a big ziploc bag and grabbing a handful of spaghetti to put on their plate.  The idea was awesome.  Except for the fact that the spaghetti was like LAVA.

I served the first girl in this manner and my hand was immediately tingly like it was on fire.  But I had eleven girls to serve and there was a bit of a sense or urgency... so what did I do?

I persevered.

I stuck my hand into the burning lava spaghetti eleven times and served all eleven girls.  And then I cried as the feeling returned to my fingertips.  But all girls ate. Mission accomplished.

In the morning I discovered two meatballs on the floor of the van and three strands of spaghetti stuck to my dashboard.  But it was all good.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I can totally handle nature that hides in its protective shell until I get far, far away from it

I spent last weekend at Disney's Fort Wilderness with four grown women and eleven 9 and 10 year old girls. That's why I haven't been posting... because it has taken me a while to get my life back together. Camping with eleven girls takes a lot out of you. Go figure.

I'm still not completely back together. But then again I'm not sure I was together before we left.

I think I'll post about that soon, but for right now I'm going to post about Mr. Turtle.

Today while I was busily listing stuff on eBay, Munchkin came in to say "There's a TURTLE in the yard! A TURTLE!!!"

And I guess I watch too much TV because my first thought was:

But then I realized she was probably talking about the reptilian version.  And since we live in the backwoods of South Florida, turtles aren't really odd occurrences.

So I looked at her and said "Yeah, so?"

Because I'm an awesome mom.

So I guess that reaction wasn't enough for Munchkin. Because about 3 minutes later she came in to my office holding the turtle.

A good blogger would have immediately grabbed the camera. But I'm not a good blogger, because I screeched "OH MY GOSH! YOU BROUGHT IT IN THE HOUSE!!!"

And Munchkin turned and ran with the turtle.

Outside I allowed them to pose with Mr. Turtle, all the while reminding them that turtles are VERY SCARY and will reach their little necks out and BITE YOUR FINGERS OFF.

I'm all about giving my children complexes.  So they can grow up fearing nature instead of embracing it, just like their mother.

I hope Mr. Turtle figures out how to move his little turtle legs quickly because my children probably won't be leaving him alone until he figures out how to sneak out of the yard without them noticing.  Or he bites a finger off.  And that will make an excellent blog post, don't you think?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Man is officially a grown up today, yesterday he was just a kid playing house

Today is The Man's birthday and therefore a day to celebrate.

Today he turns 36.

When I was a kid, 36 was old to me. I can remember my mom being 36. Vaguely, but I remember it. And in my head, now, 36 is really a grown up.  It's like, time to start thinking about mutual funds and plans and safety nets and investments.

What? I was supposed to be thinking of all that stuff before? Pshaw. I have two more years.

Anyhow... I digress.

So, since The Man is officially a grown up today, I guess things around Spazland are going to have to change.  We'll have to start doing yard work on Saturday mornings and making our bed every day.  Our radios will have to be tuned to easy listening and we'll have to watch the evening news and discuss current events at the dinner parties we're going to have to start having.  We'll have to find some friends that are a couple. Their names should be something like "Jack and Alice" and we'll go on vacations to quaint locations with them.  We'll have to start going antiquing and The Man will pick up golfing as an excuse to get away from the old ball and chain and drink scotch in country club bars.  When people come over for our cocktail parties they'll compliment us on stuff in our house.

"Oh, that side table? I bought that with Alice on Amelia Island last summer at the cutest little antique shop while Jack and The Man were playing golf."

On second thought, I think I'm pretty happy not being a grown up.  I'll take the scotch and vacations, though.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Wonderful. I feel so lucky that you were born.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Not that I gave up anything for Lent anyway, but The Spaz will be celebrating the end of it with copious amounts of booze...

The next few days in Spazland are going to be a little nutty. I feel like I've been triple whammied by life.

Thursday is The Man's birthday.  While I'm not planning a giant celebration for him (sorry, Mr. Wonderful), I'd still like to make his day special. :) So I need to find some time to make the house somewhat enjoyable for him and bake him a birthday cake. No big deal, right? Unfortunately, I also have a girl scout meeting that night that is necessary for me to attend so the tribute to The Man will have to wait until after the meeting.

Why on earth would a girl scout meeting trump The Man's birthday? Well, because on Friday (Earth Day!) I'll be heading up to Disney's Fort Wilderness with thirteen 9 year old girls, their bikes, and 5 other grown women for a weekend camping extravaganza. So the meeting on Thursday is kind of an important one to touch base with the girls and their parents and to pack up the minivan.

Now, it's not as if I haven't known about this trip for EVER.  But I just wouldn't be me if I didn't leave all the pertinent little details to the last minute.

So between now and Thursday I have to somehow find the time to clean out the van and vacuum it so the girls aren't accosted with something foul that may be living in the 3rd row, get to the grocery store, do enough laundry to make sure everyone has clothes for camping and for the boys at home until I return (including Easter clothes), set up our tent to make sure it's not all screwy for some reason (and to make sure I know how to set up our tent), put a First Aid kit together for the troop, put the topper on the minivan, clean the house, buy all of the stuff we'll inevitably need for camping, buy Easter stuff, pack 200 colored eggs with candy and treats, get new tires on the van, bake a cake, host a girl scout meeting, and, oh yeah, actually get some work done.

I'm giggling a little. It's probably hysteria. 

Our check out time from Fort Wilderness is Sunday at 11:00 AM.  Easter Sunday. It was a bit of a screw up that we actually booked this camping trip for Easter weekend, but oddly enough, it hasn't caused too much of a disruption with the girl scout families. Out of the 16 girls in our troop, 13 are attending and the other three are not missing the trip due to the holiday.

So on a morning when I would usually be watching my babies wake up to colorful, chocolatey, jelly beany goodness, I'll be breaking down a camp site and loading girls into cars to head home.

And hopefully we'll be able to get to The Man's aunt's house by 2:00 for our annual Easter egg hunt.  I'm sending The Man and the boys with the previously stuffed eggs just in case we don't make it.

I think I'll be having a nice, stiff, Easter evening drink.

What's the big deal about organization anyway? Maybe he's just creative...

Today I had a parent/teacher conference with Goober's teacher. I dread parent/teacher conferences. Before my kids were of school age, I never thought I'd be the mom who hated parent/teacher conferences... but alas, things are never what you expect when it comes to children.

The first thing I hate about conferences is the fact that they're always scheduled at 7:30 in the morning.  I typically get the kids to school around this time (they don't have to be there until 8, but Munchkin demands socialization time) so it's not as if I'm not awake.  It's that I'm not awake.

At 7:30 the coffee has not had a chance to work its way through my system. It is all I can do to drive the kids to school without veering into a ditch and the kids' teachers expect me to be wide eyed, bushy tailed, dressed in something other than pajamas, and ready to listen to them tell me my kid sucks criticize my parenting tell me I suck talk about my child's strengths and weaknesses.

So yeah, that's the first thing I hate about parent/teacher conferences.

The second thing I hate about them is that they consistently tell me the same things that I've already read in notes, or noticed myself, or heard from other people already.  And I want to ask them why it's important that I come in and listen to them tell me these things to my face so I can bask in the humiliation of it all in person.

I can remember back to Bug's first parent/teacher conference in kindergarten.  It was no big deal.  Because, really, in kindergarten as long as your child doesn't eat paste or stab the other children with dull scissors, it's pretty much no big deal.  I figured we were off to a great start with school and patted myself on the back for a parenting job well done.

Unfortunately, things have changed over the years. I'm now fully aware that Bug is slow when it comes to writing, that he's disorganized, that he's melancholy, that he forgets to turn in assignments.  I know that Munchkin talks too much in class, has a hard time when she doesn't get her way, and can be bossy.  Shocking!

Today's conference wasn't all that bad.  Goober's in first grade now and I've learned that the conferences really don't start to get rough until about third grade.  But I did get to hear how polite he is, how he's disorganized, and how he's a strong reader.  Like a criticism sandwich.  They must hold teacher seminars on how to have these conferences because it always goes like that.  Compliment, criticize, compliment, sign paper, check.

The thing is, these are things I already know.  Yes, Goober is disorganized.  He's messy.  He's the kid who jams papers in his backpack sans folder and forgets to give me permission slips until the day before the field trip when his teacher finally threatens that he'll have to sit in the office while the rest of the class goes to the zoo.  I know all of these things.  He's like that everywhere.

Just once I'd like to sit down with their teacher and act shocked.

But Goober's room is spotless at home! He asked for file folders and a label printer for his birthday! We forced those LEGOs on him in an attempt to get him to think outside the box.

Yes, I know my kid is disorganized.  It's probably my fault because I'm disorganized.  Or maybe that's just how he is.  Maybe he's going to be an artist or a musician and his right brain is just too dominant for him to bother with petty little details like paperwork and color coded folders.

Or maybe he's just a disaster. But either way, I know.

Goober has two teachers.  One is considered his "homeroom" teacher and is where he reports in the morning and learns science and math.  The other teaches him reading and writing.  They played good cop, bad cop with me this morning.  His homeroom teacher told me how polite he is and how he hugs her and how he wants to please.  The reading teacher told me how he daydreams too much and how he won't finish assignments because he is scatter brained.  Then his homeroom teacher told me how he's so smart and above grade level.

Criticism sandwich, with two chefs.

And I smiled and nodded and signed. Check.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Spaz restarts a Give Away

So now I get to purge my house of all the actual physical books in it.  And there are a lot of them to purge.  If you're a long time reader of my blog, then you'll remember back a long time ago, circa 2008, when this blog actually got traffic (like hundreds of readers every day... yeah... I know, I'm a big shot) and I did this little give-away thing.

It was simple. One book, once a week, to one reader.  Comment that you want to get the book, I do one of those nifty random integer generator thingies and the winner gets the book. Easy peasy.

Well, I'm bringing it back.

The first book is The Host by Stephenie Meyer (of Twilight fame).

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.
When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves—Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.

The copy I have to give away is a hardcover and has been read. Leave a comment here for a chance to win it. And if you want two chances to win it, post about it on your own blog with a link back to this post (and be sure to let me know you did so in the comments).

Good luck!

Friday, April 15, 2011

I think I should send him to Walmart more often

Last week I asked The Man to pick up some stuff at the local Walmart on his way home from work. He works pretty late, so by the time he's on his way home from work it's really the only thing open. My list was short... we needed some milk and some other little grocery items. He grumpily agreed to do it.

So The Man got home, placed the bags lovingly in the center of the kitchen floor, and sat down at the table to take off his shoes and talk to me.

I started putting away all the groceries and I had to laugh because I kept finding things in the bags that I hardly ever buy.  Evidently The Man had a good time in the grocery section of Walmart.

So I got to the last bag and I reached my hand in and pulled out something entirely different.


It was like Christmas.

No really, it was like Christmas.

It reminded me of the year I wanted an iPod so bad I couldn't think of anything else. Back before everyone had an iPod and when they had just made the video iPods. It's all I could think about.  The Man convinced me, thoroughly, that there was no way in hell we could afford one and I was sure I wasn't getting one.  But on Christmas morning we were unpacking our stockings, which I was sure I knew everything that was in mine because I had packed it myself, and stuffed somehow into the toe of the stocking was the iPod I so desperately wanted.

But back to the Nook. I love it more than chocolate. No kidding. I would pick the Nook over chocolate.  I have books, loads of them, and they don't take up any space. It's amazing! And it does all kinds of other stuff, too, because The Man is a technical genius.  Now I just have to force myself to put the thing down and actually work.  Darn technology and its beckoning call to procrastinate.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's a wonder this dog made it as a stray for the first part of his life...

This week is FCAT week which means the kids have no homework after school.  Which means it's a free-for-all when they get home.  Every day this week they've been playing with their neighborhood friends who either come to play in our yard or they go to play in their yard. Ah, childhood...

Yesterday they went over to play at their friends' house and poor Sudo was going crazy being trapped inside the house when he knew his kids were outside the house.  He whined at the door, he barked, he cried.  Finally, I got off my ass decided to take him outside. I opened the front door and Sudo shot out like a rocket. 

And then I heard the fight.

Something screamed, Sudo snarled and growled, bushes were moving all over the place, spit was flying.  I thought it was going to be the end for the dog.

When I called out his name, he stopped and turned to look at me, and that's when the little bandit made his escape.  Up the tree, went a fat, nasty, probably rabid raccoon.  (Yes, the dog has had his shots.) And poor Sudo, dimwitted as he is, could not figure out where he had gone.  Nose to the ground, Sudo covered the entire yard trying to find that raccoon.  And that raccoon was watching him from about 20 feet up the entire time.

That's when I noticed the overturned garbage can.  The garbage can that is supposed to be "raccoon proof"... except it isn't when your kids don't bring it all the way up to the house and instead park it on the grass and therefore it is easily pushed over by sneaky little bandits.

Mr. Raccoon had been feasting on our rotten castaways. Disgusting little creatures.

So I retrieved a shovel from the garage and shoveled the trash back into the trashcan (no, I'm not touching it), and righted it, securing the lid tightly on top.  Then I scolded the raccoon (who was still perched in the tree and keeping one eye on me and one on clueless Sudo) for getting into my trash.  I don't think my lecture made any impact.

This is when Munchkin came riding up on her bike.  Wet.  And covered in mud.

"I fell in the canal."


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Spaz deals with nosy thrift store shoppers

While I'm out shopping for inventory I get a lot of funny looks from regular thrift store shoppers.  When I'm pushing around a cart packed full of clothing, people tend to give me the eye.  I get plenty of comments.

"Wow, you sure found a lot!"
"You must have been here all day!"
"I never find that much when I come."
"You must have a really big family."

And sometimes the questions start.

Over the years I've come up with some interesting answers in my head. I usually don't actually respond to people with these answers... usually... but I just can't help my smart-ass brain.

"Is that all for you?"

Yes, I'm buying an entire shopping cart full of thrift store clothes in assorted sizes because I have a rare genetic disorder that causes me to gain and lose weight at shocking rates.  I must have clothes ranging from size 2 to size 22 because I never know what size I'm going to wake up as.


No, these are for my life-size dolls. I have a hard time making real friends, but they love me all the time and they like it when I dress them up in pretty clothes. I think Matilda will love this Oscar de la Renta, but it may be a little tight on her. She's a bit hippy.

"What are you going to do with all that stuff?"

I'm going for a Guinness record for the world's largest quilt made of designer clothing.  Are you going to buy that Custo top? I love to use those funky designs for my patches.


I have a shopping addiction. My husband said he'd leave me if I stepped foot in the mall with the MasterCard again, so we compromised with thrift stores. Did you know you can get purses for FIVE DOLLARS in here? 


I'm trying to get on that show Hoarders but I don't think I've got enough junk in my house yet, so I decided to pick up some more.

"Are you going to sell those?"

Oh my GOSH! Who would think to sell USED clothing? Do you think people would actually buy it? 

But for the most part, I just smile or pretend I didn't hear them. 

I used to tell people that I sell on eBay, but that either cued a long discussion about their sister's boyfriend's great-aunt who sells on eBay or a whole new barrage of questions about how I do it or disgust that I'm taking Ralph Lauren evening gowns from the needy and selling them for profit.

So now I just try to pretend I didn't hear them or didn't understand the question. Or sometimes I just laugh, like that question must have just been a joke.

My full cart also gathers a lot of lookie-loos.  Sometimes I'll leave it at the end of an aisle to delve further into the depths of long sleeve tops or something similar, and when I get a few steps away from it, I'll notice someone starting to go through it.

"That's my cart. Bitch, back off before I cut you."

"Oh, this is your cart? I thought it was the store's."

"No, it's mine."

And you know what? Sometimes people, while having this little conversation with me, continue to go through the cart.

They'll eye an extra-small cashmere cardigan and hold it up, after I've already pointed out that it's mine, and sort of eye me up and down. 

Yeah... I know I'm not a size 2, Ms. Obnoxious Rudenstein... but I just ordered a tape worm from South America, so I'm hopeful.

Just last week I was in my very favorite thrift store when a woman nearby got my attention.

"If you find any Chico's, let me know!"

I buy a lot of Chico's stuff as it sells fairly well, but if someone were looking for something specific and I found it, unless it was some amazing "holy grail" type of find, I'd be more than happy to give it to them. 

So I asked her what size she was looking for.

"Um......" she looked around, "Well... it doesn't really matter what size because I have a lot of friends and they all like Chico's."

Yeah. I don't think so, lady. If you're going to buy stuff to resell, I'm certainly not going to do your work for you.

I'm thinking of developing a habit of muttering to myself under my breath and scratching my head often.  Then if someone touches my cart or asks a question I don't want to answer, I'll just growl at them like a crazed animal and drool a bit. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Where I ask the Internetz to tell me their irrational fears so I don't feel like such a dumbass

My parents have this hot tub.  And, as their favorite daughter, they allow me to use it pretty much whenever I'd like to. (They allow my sisters to use it whenever they want to, as well, but that doesn't diminish the fact that I'm their favorite.)

Since the past week or so has been particularly stressful, The Man and I decided to partake in some hot tub time the other night.

It was so relaxing, so quiet and calm, and we were really enjoying feeling our muscles relax and the hot water and the bubbles and the beer.  Sounds lovely, doesn't it?

It was at night and we left the lights on the patio mostly off, you know, for ambiance, and when I looked down I noticed a leaf was stuck to my arm.  Stray vegetation occasionally finds its way into the hot tub, even though the patio is screened in, because there are lush plants and stuff inside the enclosure.  I thought nothing of it and just reached over to pull said leaf off of my arm.

And that's when the leaf hopped.

Have I mentioned my irrational, intense fear of frogs on the blog before? Evidently I've mentioned it, but I haven't elaborated.  Frogs are the scariest things in the world to me.  When I was a kid, they weren't a big deal.  In fact, I really loved them as a teenager and even had a little necklace with a silver frog on it because I thought they were so cute.  They are cute.  As long as they're in pictures or behind glass.  But if a frog has the potential to jump on me, it invokes a terror inside of me that I can't quite explain.  It's irrational... I mean, no one has ever been hurt by a frog that I know of.  Aside from poisonous frogs and I don't think I've ever come into contact with one of them.  But it's not the idea that it might be excreting deadly toxins from its slimy skin that scares the crap out of me, it's the unpredictability of them.

Pretty much every other creature in the animal kingdom (aside from gigantic predators that are really hungry maybe) will run away from a human if one comes near.  Lizards, snakes, toads (toads and frogs are not the same thing), mice, rats, rabbits, birds, wallabies, aye ayes (my precious), bats, armadillos, and everything else all run away when a human comes near.

If you don't see the resemblance, I just don't know if we can be friends.

Frogs do not. Frogs hang out, look directly at you, and then jump on your face. And sometimes, while on your face, they PEE.  So my fear isn't completely irrational.

Yes, I know the frog, even if it pees, is not going to kill me or probably even make me sick.  But I am terrified, nonetheless.

So when this "leaf" proved itself to not be a leaf at all, but instead proved itself to be a tiny frog disguised as a leaf, I freaked out.

Maybe freaked out isn't even an accurate description.

I didn't scream, I couldn't scream. I didn't run, I was paralyzed. I merely clung to The Man as if he was Superman and we were flying 30,000 feet above the earth and if I let him go I would plunge to my death. I did not breathe, I did not talk, there were no words.

The Man continued to try to calm me down. I was wide eyed with terror, clinging to him, digging my fingers into his back, and looking wildly around to see if the frog was anywhere preparing to make a second attack.

When I could finally speak again, the only thing I said was "Where is it??!??!?!"

He assured me it was gone, that I had probably traumatized it.  I had traumatized it.

The Man pryed me, crowbar style, off of him and, when my legs had returned to a solid from their gelatinous, terrified state, we left the hot tub.

Relaxing, my ass.  I have never been so tense before in all my life.  Literally, I would rather be held at gun point than have a frog jump on me.

Make me feel better, Internetz. Share your irrational fears with me so I don't feel like such a complete dumbass.  And maybe some day I'll be able to get back in the hot tub.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm horrified... and terrified...

What do you do if you find out that your teenage daughter has been harassed on the bus?  And not just a little harassed, not just picked on or laughed at.  What do you do when you find out that a group of boys is sexually harassing your teenage daughter on the bus. Every day.  To the point where she doesn't want to ride the bus anymore.

And the boys aren't just making comments, either.  The harassment includes grabbing her, dropping their pants in front of her, and rubbing themselves.

What do you do if you find out that she's told her bus driver about it and the bus driver told her to "deal with it yourself."

Do you call the school, the police, the boys parents? Do you just keep your daughter of the bus and say nothing for fear of having her deal with the repercussions of calling the boys out?

It saddens me, deeply, to know that these things happen in places where we, as parents, are trusting other adults to keep our children safe. But it doesn't shock me.  I remember the bus when I was in school. I remember how unruly it could get, how one driver who has to focus on the road would never have been able to control the amount of kids he or she was supposed to be in charge of. 

But sexual harassment was, thankfully, not something I had to deal with on the bus.  And it scares me to know that I might have to have my kids ride those buses when they are older. Right now they ride buses with kids ranging in age from 5 to 11 and these kinds of concerns haven't come up.  But next year Bug goes to middle school, where things get more complicated and meaner. 

I'm just horrified.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Some people pay a lot more to feel better about themselves...

As an eBay seller, I don't get the same type of social camaraderie that most people get at their 9 to 5 job where other employees gather around a water cooler or whatever and chat.

So I get my chat on with other eBay sellers on an assortment of forums and facebook groups.  And those groups are awesome.  I honestly would not be the seller I am today if it weren't for the wealth of knowledge that these ladies share. Mostly ladies... there are some men, too.

Anyhow, so I frequent a forum specifically for clothing sellers on eBay and, just like any gathering of strong women with varied opinions, things can get a little heated sometimes.

I guess around Christmastime, one of the members posted that she was going through a rough time.  She was having a hard time paying her bills, her eBay fees were due, and her ability to sell and make any money at all was going to be compromised.  Other members rallied around her and started sending her small PayPal payments to help out.  Five dollars, ten dollars, whatever they could safely give.

And this member who was going through this rough time was able to pay her fees or her Internet bill or whatever it was that she needed to pay and keep on selling.

Fast forward to the past week or so and this same member comes along and starts posting little conversational things about getting a new dog, replacing the furniture in her house, getting a new roof on her (4000 square foot) house and all kinds of stuff.

And feathers start to get ruffled.  People felt like they were scammed.  How, in less than 6 months, did this member get back on her feet to the point where she can afford to buy furniture and replace a roof?

People started questioning her, asking her if she planned to pay back the people who had helped her in the past, basically accusing her of taking advantage of the generosity of the board.

And maybe I shouldn't even have an opinion about it. I don't remember the original post and I didn't donate any money to her cause, but I'm like all those women with strong opinions so I'm going to talk about it, anyway.

I question the generosity of the people who are upset.  It seems to me that if I give someone a few bucks to get back on their feet, that's exactly what I want them to do.  I hope that the money I give to them will help them over whatever rough patch they are going through and be able to live their life in a normal fashion.  I'm not going to begrudge them comfort once they do get back on their feet. 

Upon reading further into the situation, I noticed that this seller commented on her "new" furniture and how she was shopping for it at a thrift store.  She talked about replacing her roof and having it financed because the old one had been leaking.  And I know that a lot of these other women, the ones who are all up in arms and questioning whether their little loans are going to be repayed, have read these same things.

Unless I specifically state that this money is a loan, I don't expect it back.  I don't expect that once this person gets back on their feet they're going to send my ten dollars back. And I certainly don't question someone buying a couch at the Goodwill and replacing an old, leaky roof.

When you give someone a gift, you give it to them without strings.  You don't remind them constantly that you helped them, you don't give them fifteen dollars and a side of guilt, you just give.

But it seems like there are so many people who have some sort of checklist going on in their heads.  They're tallying up everything they've ever done for anyone else and then using those "brownie points" as leverage at a later date. As far as I know, this woman never asked for help.  She never begged for money.  People gave it to her out of their own free will.  And they wouldn't have done it if it didn't do something for them, too. 

Once I was having a conversation with Jenny about panhandlers.  In South Florida we have panhandlers all over the place.  Jenny has an interesting view on them.  She looks at them as if they are providing a "feel good" service.  Say that today I'm not feeling so good about myself.  I can give a couple bucks to a panhandler and poof! I've done a good deed and can now feel better about myself. 

Most days I don't need that service, but isn't it nice that it's there just in case I'm really feeling like I'm a crappy person one day?

So when those members started sending their friend little payments to help her out, they got to experience that "feel good" service.  Bought and paid for.  No refunds.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where @bethenny and @domesticspaz are BFFs and delusion plays no part in it...

I'm watching Bethenny Ever After, the most recent episode where she has her birthday meltdown.  And by the way, I love Bethenny... in my delusional happy land we are best friends and meet for light lunches and Skinny Girl Margaritas every Monday afternoon.  I'm not completely off base, either. We've talked before. I have proof.

See? A budding relationship.

But I digress. Anyhow, so I'm watching this episode and the part where Jason (her husband, don't you know these things?) brings out the birthday surprise in front of everyone at her party almost made me cry.  She so clearly does not know how to handle that kind of attention, and I get it 100%.

And you might say "C'mon, this is Bethenny Frankel. She has attention on her all the time. She loves that crap."

But no. For some weird reason, birthday attention is just different.  In the episode Bethenny has a conversation with her make-up artist that hits the nail on the head. I'm paraphrasing here, but the make-up artist says to her something like "you either get too much attention or not enough" and then "you don't want to get disappointed, so you don't prepare yourself, and then you're disappointed because you didn't prepare."

And it was like an a-ha moment for me.  Because that's exactly it. I think, for some reason, and I can only speak for myself, I've decided that I don't deserve that attention, so it's uncomfortable to receive it. For Bethenny, maybe it's because birthdays were probably a big disappointment for her based on her parents being suck ass, non-deserving of a kid, parents.  So preparing herself for a big happy birthday is like setting herself up for disappointment... but then getting it without being prepared for it is completely uncomfortable and scary.

My parents don't suck at all.  And my birthday was never forgotten (can you imagine how grown-up Samantha Baker might handle birthdays?) or understated when I was growing up. It wasn't like today's kids who get a themed party with friends invited every year, but my mom would make a spice cake and there would be presents and my grandmothers would send cards with money in them ($8 for my 8th birthday, $9 for my 9th, and so on) and I would get to pick what we had for dinner.  And that was good.  A couple of years I got to have a party and invite friends (my 7th and 16th) and on my 8th birthday my parents took my best friend and I to Disney World, which was awesome.

But I was never comfortable when all the attention was focused on me.  When I was really little I would cry when people sang "Happy Birthday" to me.  I remember the feeling, too.  This desperate feeling of all the eyes being on me, singing, staring, expecting something.  I hated it.

So I understood when Munchkin cried when she was younger, too.  I remember one year telling my family that we wouldn't sing to Munchkin. We were just going to have the cake and open presents - no singing.  They overruled me and sang anyhow (you have to sing, it's her birthday!) and she cried and I felt her pain.

Because there's just something about that birthday attention. There has to be some, but too much is a problem.  A big 40th birthday celebration, complete with violinists using hot pink violins (what the hell was that?) and a Bravo TV crew, might be just a little too much for even the most seasoned celebrity.

And Jason being all "It hurt me so much that she wasn't excited. She should have fun because we put so much effort into it" made me want to smack him.  He appears to be a great guy, truly... but projecting his own love of birthdays onto her and then expecting her to react the way he wants her to react is not supportive.  "I wanted to tell her to suck it up. Sometimes you just have to put a happy face on."

It's her party, Mister Perfect Family, and she can cry if she wants to.

The Spaz kicks this meme in the teeth and steals it's lunch money

So I'm just going to knock out the rest of this meme right here today. I'm not overly thrilled with the remaining topics on it, so I figure I'll just give you all another bulk post. Today it's a TENfer.

Day 21 - (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?

I go to her. She's my best friend. No argument we could have ever had would keep me from her side if she was injured. This question gets a resounding "duh" from me and makes me think this meme was written by a 12 year old.

Day 22 - Something you wish you hadn't done in your life.

Started this meme?

Day 23 - Something you wish you had done in your life.

When I was a senior in high school I applied to a bunch of colleges. One of them was Loyola in New Orleans. Sometimes I think that if I had gone there instead of to UF I may have been more successful. But I was scared to go so far from home and I was in love and wanted to be close to my boyfriend at the time and all my friends were going to UF so I declined the invitation to go there.

But if I had, my life would probably be a lot different and I probably wouldn't have The Man and the goblins... so I can't say a different choice would have been better.

Day 24 - Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs.


Day 25 - The reason you believe you're still alive today.

What kind of a question is this? I'm alive because I haven't died yet. And that's a good thing.

Day 26 - Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?

I think most people, at one dark time or another, have thought that life might not be worth living. I've never really let that thought linger in my mind for an extended period of time, though. I know that life has its ups and downs and I've always been hopeful for the future. So even when things are really hard, I know that whatever phase I am in will pass.

Day 27 - What's the best thing going on for you now?

It's The Man. I know that sounds all hokey and sugary sweet, but it's the truth. He's my happy place when things are tough. Most relationships suffer when times are stressful, but it's the opposite in our relationship. When I feel like the roof is about to cave in, The Man is the one that shows me everything is going to be alright. The tough times are what have made our relationship as solid as it is. That's how I know he's a keeper.

Day 28 - What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?

If I got someone pregnant I'd call a doctor... and then Guinness... and then the National Enquirer. If I got pregnant (again), I'd be shocked. And considering that I've had a tubal ligation, I'd be petrified I had some sort of ectopic pregnancy thing going on. So I guess I'd call a doctor for that, too.

But I guess the question is truly more about what would I do if I found myself to be pregnant and everything was normal about the pregnancy... and in that case, I'm sure The Man and I would persevere. At this stage in our lives, it would not be a welcome thing at first. There would be shock, tears, a mourning of the loss of our late forties and beyond (because we're counting down, y'all), The Man would lament the imminent thinning of his wallet and hair, and I would lament the loss of sleep and sanity.

And that would go on for a while, and then I'm sure we'd become accustomed to the idea, as people tend to do, and we'd get excited and plan and all that junk. And then we'd fall in love with our fourth goblin. But let's hope that doesn't happen, kay?

Day 29 - Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.

I feel like I already answered this question somewhere in the days before. I'd like to become more organized. I did already answer this, I know it.

Day 30 - A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself.

Dear Beth,

You make me laugh. Considering I am you, that's probably more of a bad thing than a good thing, but I don't care. Laughing is good and I'm glad you make me laugh.

You have really nice hair. Especially now that you've found the correct products to use in it. It would be nicer if your hair didn't insist on turning gray before you'd ever reached 30, but thanks to the advent of at home hair color, it's really not that big of a deal.

That's enough for now. I wouldn't want you to get a big ego.


So that's that. We'll resume our regularly scheduled blog posts tomorrow later today.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Spaz & The Man go on a date

The Man and I had a date the other night. Like, for REAL a date. We had no kids with us and we went to a restaurant that did not have a kids menu and I ordered a $12 glass of wine. Heck, I ordered two of them. I could have almost had two boxes of wine for that, but ambiance, people... ambiance.

The restaurant was French and located next to the water and we sat outside and enjoyed a gorgeous South Florida night and I felt fancy.

French restaurants are always fun because I get to base what I'm going to order on what I can actually pronounce so that I don't look like a fool to the server. It was all for naught, though, because for an appetizer we ordered this Bistro plate where you pick two cheeses and one meat and they put it all together with some other delicious munchies and I couldn't pronounce any of that stuff, except for Gruyere. So we asked the server for recommendations. And it was good. French cheese is super fantastic.

After our delicious meal, we decided to walk by the water for a while and talk. It was heavenly to be out and wearing make-up and perfume and nail polish on my toes and to be carrying a purse that barely fit my wallet and lip gloss.

We held hands, we talked, we looked at the lights on the water, it was peaceful and romantic and really a perfect date.

And then we went to Walmart.

Yeah... sort of a culture shock. I would have preferred a more upscale grocery store, but at 1 AM you take what you can get. And the cat probably would have smothered us in our sleep if we didn't bring cat food home.

We were the fanciest people at Walmart, though. I'm sure of that.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Purple Haze, and Mr. Brownstone

I've had my experiences with drugs. I won't pretend I haven't. When I was a kid, my dad lectured me regularly on the dangers of drugs. He'd tell me stories of people he knew who found themselves held by the powers of cocaine and heroin and how it ruined their lives. And for most of my teenage years those stories kept me from experimentation.

When I got a little older I dipped my toes into the waters of drug use with a little pot and some LSD, but for the most part I stayed away from drugs. I like to be in my right mind, I guess, and anything that alters my reality is a little uncomfortable. So drugs never really captured me.

It's my opinion that marijuana should be legalized. Or at the very least, decriminalized. I see no reason to imprison people who like to giggle and eat Doritos and I see far more damage done by alcohol than pot.

I guess I have a pretty moderate attitude toward mind altering chemicals. It's not really any of my business whether another person decides to spend their life in a drug induced haze or mania. As long as that person isn't coming into my home and robbing me or holding me at gunpoint, I don't concern myself with their decision to throw their life away. Unfortunately, those drugs often push a person to endanger other people and that's when I think laws need to protect the innocent.

When it comes to my own children, I give them the same lectures that my dad gave me. Those talks kept my sisters and I on a pretty straight path, at least until we were old enough to make more educated decisions. If I find out that one of my children, in their adulthood, decides to experiment with drugs I will continue to give them those lectures. I will continue to talk to them about the dangers and the risks and I will pray they know their limits and know when to say no thanks.

The Teenager and I have talked about drugs and so far it seems she's not that interested. At 17, I'm sure that she's encountered a reasonable amount of peer pressure to try things and I know what it feels like to want to be accepted by even the most surly of friends.

My advice was to tell her friends how badass she used to be and how she can't smoke that stuff anymore because her parents are drug testing her on a regular basis. Or how she's on probation with the law and has to come up with a clean urine sample.

Or she can just tell them she doesn't feel like it. Whatever works in that situation. In my experience, kids don't push as hard as people think they might. A simple "no thanks" works pretty well and doesn't raise many eyebrows.

This post was Day 20 on the 30 day meme, Your views on drugs & alcohol.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

These subjects shouldn't be discussed at garden parties or other social events in polite society... good thing I don't go to garden parties...

Today is Day 19 on the 30 day meme and it's a doozy. Today I'm supposed to talk about politics and/or religion. Two subjects I've been told never to talk about.

And that's good advice, really, because these conversations never really lead anywhere good. Unless you're with like minded people, in which case what's the point?

But for the sake of not being a quitter, I'm in!

As for politics, I tend to lean libertarian. I hesitate to lock myself in there, but I definitely lean there. I believe in free enterprise and small government. I think people should be free to make their own decisions as long as those decisions don't harm others or prevent others from making their own decisions. I worry about anyone leaning too far to the left or too far to the right. Bumper stickers stating political opinions irritate me. Sometimes they even ignite a private little rage within me.

Today I saw one that said "Remember 9-11-01. Because the Democrats have already forgotten." On the same car was another sticker that said "Does my American flag offend you? Call 1-800-LEAVE-THE-USA" And it sort of made me want to smash in their windows. Not that the idea behind either of those stickers was so offensive... but the manner in which the message is delivered is. It was parked in a handicapped spot. I was tempted to wait and see if the driver came out and was actually handicapped. Then I realized I would have been disappointed if they were handicapped, so I went on with my life.

As for religion, I've cause many a loved one much agony over this. I was raised in a non-practicing Catholic household and religion was never forced down my throat. The story of Jesus and the Virgin Mary is beautiful and the promises Christianity make are truly amazing.

But I will never be a Christian.

Do I believe in God? I haven't decided.

I study Buddhism and I try to follow the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. It's a path that I will continue to walk for the rest of my life. And whether I am reborn into a new life when this one is over and get to go further in my quest for enlightenment is not something I dwell on. Maybe that's what happens and maybe we are all reunited with our loved ones in heaven. It's not for me to know or pretend to know.

What I do know is that I can continue to live my life as close to the Eightfold Path and the Middle Way as I possibly can. I can bring myself back to center when I stray, and I can truly live the most honest and noble life I am capable of.

And if that lands me reborn or in heaven or just recycled into the earth to feed plants and worms, that's just fine with me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

First comes love, then comes a legal civil union, then comes an adopted baby from Vietnam in the baby carriage

Finally this meme got a little interesting! For Day 18 I'm assigned to write about my views on gay marriage.

My opinion on this subject is a resounding "Of COURSE!" And I can't even wrap my head around any other option. Why wouldn't two people who love each other be allowed to marry each other? And don't come back with some stupid ass argument like "What's next? Should we let people marry their dog?"

Dogs aren't people, y'all. You show me a dog that can sign a marriage certificate and say vows and I'll give this dumbass argument some thought.

It surprises me that this is such an issue with people. In my opinion, there's no argument to be had. Don't bring your religion into it, because then you're just persecuting someone based on their different religious beliefs and you may as well be driving them out of England in the 16th century. Don't tell me that marriage is a commitment before God and God thinks homosexuality is an abomination. That's what your marriage may be to you, but that's not what a ton of other marriages are about and you didn't stand up at their wedding and tell them they couldn't get married. Today, marriage is a legal agreement.

Maybe we should just abolish everyone else's marriage and make them all legally go get "domestic partnerships" and marriage could be saved for something that has nothing to do with legality and only to do with religion. Then it wouldn't be your business or my business whether Bob and Bill or Jennifer and Jessica were married because they did it in their own church under their own religious guidelines. And legally, we'd all have the same equality that we should have.

That all being said, marriage is not important to me. I have been married before and that didn't work out. The Man and I decided not to legally marry, but we are more committed to each other than my husband and I ever were. Maybe when everyone else who loves each other can legally marry, we'll get married, too.

In Vegas, by an Elvis impersonator or maybe a fabulous drag queen. Definitely the drag queen.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bring me a TAB and a chocolate doughnut, please. Hold the strawberry ice cream.

Ah, we've arrived at Day 15 of our meme. Something or someone you couldn't live without, because you've tried living without it.

This one's easy.

It's diet soda. Dammit, I love diet soda. There's nothing better than opening the fridge first thing in the morning and cracking open a cold can of diet soda. I'm not horribly particular on the type of diet soda, either. Some people are all about Coke and others Pepsi, some people love a Dr Pepper or a 7-up. I'll take them all. Give me aspartame and fizzies and I'm happy. Add cherry flavoring and I'll be your new best friend.

I have tried to break the habit. I've read stuff that made me think the aspartame was going to cause me to grow a third eye or start barking at random intervals. And I'm cool with the Splenda versions of diet soda, too. In fact, TAB, made with saccharin, is probably my favorite of all. I think my mother put it in my baby bottles.

When I was growing up, we probably went through 10 2 liter bottles of TAB and then later Diet Coke in my house a week. That might even be a low estimate. My dad never touched the stuff, choosing to drink mostly water and occasionally an iced tea with no sweetener. He's always been the healthiest out of all of us. We didn't even typically use glasses. We'd just take a "chug" from the bottle straight out of the fridge. We were so classy.

There was always a 2 liter in the door of our fridge and whoever drank the last "chug" had to replace it with a 2 liter that would be found in the fridge located in the garage. My mom called it the "back porch fridge" because evidently in the years before I was born they had a refrigerator located on the back porch and she never could stop calling the 2nd fridge that. I think she might still call her garage refrigerator that.

I've heard warnings that if you drink straight out of a 2 liter bottle it will go flat faster. We never had one in our fridge long enough to know if that is true or not.

I don't buy myself diet soda on a regular basis. Though, the last time I went to Publix they had these two new flavors of Diet Mountain Dew (Supernova and Voltage) and I did grab a 12 pack of both of them. Delicious, by the way, and with lots of caffeine. Huzzah!

So I don't always have it in the house. It's the only way I can regulate myself. I grab one every time I visit my parents, who keep a stocked assortment of sodas in the "back porch" fridge, and it's fabulous.

The best, is really a fountain soda, though. And please don't tell me how disgusting fountain sodas are and the lines don't get cleaned and all of it. I know. I've heard it all. But there's just nothing like a big ginormous* cup of crushed ice and a cold diet soda with a straw. The deliciousness.

At one point I tried to switch to regular soda because I thought the artificial sweeteners were surely going to send me to an early grave. But I was panicked about the calories and I couldn't really enjoy it. Hand over the box of doughnuts, but don't you dare put a real Coke in front of me.

Why can't they come up with calorie free doughnuts that taste that good?

And on a similar note, I'm going to go ahead and knock out Day 16 of the meme, too. Someone or something you definitely could live without.

This one is strawberry ice cream. I never could stomach it. Strawberry ice cream, strawberry milkshakes, all of it. Blech. And what the hell is up with Neopolitan? Why would someone ruin that delicious chocolate and vanilla with that horrendous pink stripe? When I was a kid my dad would buy Neopolitan ice cream and my sisters and I would attack the chocolate and vanilla leaving only this perfectly formed island of strawberry in the middle of the carton. Like a pink land bridge across the carton with remnants of chocolate and vanilla on either side. Come to think of it, that strawberry ice cream was nothing but an unwelcome implementation of segregation.