I swear…

Have you seen the prices of movies these days? I mean, have you seen them?  I suppose there are some places in the country where you can get into a matinee pretty inexpensively…but where I live that is not the case.  A matinee ticket costs $10.  A matinee!

That doesn’t sound expensive to you? Well, factor in the cost of a drink and some buttered popcorn – must haves for the movie-going experience with your daughter, let’s say, and all of a sudden you’re spending more than the GDP of many small countries.

In 2015 and 2016 there are a ton of movies coming out – especially Marvel Comic movies which happen to be our personal favorites – like another Avengers, Ant Man, Doctor Strange, and another Captain America….not to mention Deadpool (YAY!!), Woman in Black 2, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Jurassic World, Suicide Squad, and X-Men Apocalypse. The list just goes on and on.

I want to see them all, but I’m shuddering at the cost and 2015 isn’t even here yet!

Last night, my kids and I were sitting around talking about such things as the Marvel Universe and trying to figure out a way for us to afford to go to all of these movies.  We had what seemed like a brilliant idea – we’d start a slush fund of some sort so we’d have money saved up for when the movies came out.

But just how would we fund this slush fund?

We adjourned and went our separate ways promising to think about it… as I was leaving the room my eye caught sight of a cat in a precarious position in a spot where it knew damn well it didn’t belong. Without thinking (as so often happens), I let loose a loud verbal assault on said cat that included a few choice unprintable words (my mother reads this blog after all).

And a somewhat sarcastic, somewhat serious light bulb went off above my head.

“A ha!” I said. “How about a Swear Jar? Every time one of us swears, a dollar goes into the Swear Jar. By the time Avengers Age of Ultron is released, we’ll have a tidy sum.”

I have to admit that the language in our house is less than nice and sometimes…just sometimes…sounds like a sailor’s convention (if there ever were such things).

Of course my kids laughed but they too immediately saw the pure genius behind this plan, because, after all, they do live here and therefore know that if walls could talk…well…ours would definitely be censored.

Our celebration over this clever fundraising idea was short lived however once reality reared its ugly head.  I mean, let’s face it, when all is said and done, given the frequency with which we’d be paying, we’d just end up having to borrow money from the swear jar to pay the swear jar.

Needless to say, we’re working on a new plan.

Christmas Nerds

So this Christmas is going to be a somewhat lean one for my kids and me – and that’s okay. It’s not something we can’t work through. As we were talking about gift giving for the upcoming holiday, we decided that we’d choose presents we could sort of give to ‘each other’ to share – communal presents as it were, within a certain cost range.

Rather than purchase several gifts for each of us individually, we would choose a special gift that my son and I would give each other to share that would benefit the “whole” and, likewise, a gift that my daughter and I would give each other that would benefit the “whole.” You get the idea.

Anyway.

The choice of presents was theirs and theirs alone…I left that up to them and figured I would be content with whatever they decided. I just wanted them to be happy. They could’ve chosen anything. Here’s what they came up with. Needless to say, they did my geeky little heart proud. Our mutual love for Marvel Comics and Doctor Who runs deep. I love, love, love my Christmas nerds!

Sarah's Choice (to add to our Marvel collection)

Sarah’s Choice (to add to our Marvel collection)

Jake's Choice (we're all Whovians in this house)

Jake’s Choice (we’re all Whovians in this house)

Killing Time with Board Games

What’s the maddest you’ve ever gotten playing a board game? Ever flip the board? Maybe storm out of the room in a huff telling your partner not to talk to you? My son plays a mean game of Uno to which I’ve been guilty of slightly overreacting a couple of times (it’s seriously not fair that he skips me like a gazillion times in a row only to end the streak with a Draw 4 card!). I’m sure we’ve all had our moments during a heated friendly game. A well-made game should get you emotionally invested. And those of us who are a little more on the competitive side, well, we can get a little hot under the collar during a tight match. It might cause dice to go flying.

That all being said, would you ever point a gun at a family member because of a game? No? Well, not everyone has that same answer. It happened – you can read the sad, sordid tale here.

A dad pulls a gun on his daughter over Battleship? Seriously, Battleship!? Not even Monopoly where money is involved? How into the game do you have to be to feel that threatening your kid’s life is an acceptable response to getting your Destroyer sunk? One of the charges the father was arrested for, besides aggravated assault, was suspicion of intoxication. Oh, really? Ya think? You mean he wasn’t totally sober when he dragged his daughter back into the house by her hair and stuck a loaded rifle in her face? Shocking. To think of something like this happening over a board game…there are no words. We live in a world where you might be advised to wear Kevlar before stepping up to a game of Yahtzee. Sad.

 

"America's All Time Favorite Game" Indeed

“America’s All Time Favorite Game” indeed

Mushroom Musing

I’m sure I had you all fooled, but believe it or not I might not have been the smartest kid in the world. Shocking, right? I wasn’t exactly getting invited to join MENSA on my fifth birthday or beating Deep Blue at chess matches in my free time, and that’s okay. I wasn’t a child prodigy but I was still smarter than my brother and during those precious years of childhood that was all that mattered. In hindsight it wasn’t even a fair fight. He was gullible as anything (which in most cases is an endearing trait but when you have siblings it’s a death sentence) and it didn’t help matters that when I was young, I looked like a sweet angel with nary a devilish thought in her precious little head. It didn’t take me long to realize that the way I was being judged on the outside could certainly be a benefit in successfully getting away with whatever mischievous acts my prank-filled head came up with.

A perfect example of my brother’s credulity comes in the form of a story that’s often told around my mother’s table as a cautionary tale about me. I’m not sure I think that’s fair. But you can judge for yourselves.

One night way back when, we were all out at a restaurant called White Coffee Pot Jr. having a nice family dinner. My brother ordered Salisbury Steak complete with gravy and mushrooms. I, on the other hand, did not order Salisbury Steak complete with gravy and mushrooms.  It didn’t take long though for me to wish very much that I had.

Now, it was quite obvious that my brother was enjoying the hell out of his mushrooms.  So naturally my first thought was to find some way to spoil it so that he would end up giving me his mushrooms. I desperately wanted those mushrooms and had to make him so disgusted at the thought of them that he’d just give them up. Yeah, well, don’t cry too hard for him. Remember, he’s the older brother so you can be sure he messed with me on a daily basis. This was just karma rearing its ugly head. No matter that I was only six years old at the time. By then I was already a well-honed grifter. For those of you with siblings, I’m sure you understand.

I started out playing it coy by planting just a little seed of doubt in his head which quickly escalated to a full on sequoia of uncertainty (after all, I had to get to him before he ate them all or they got cold). A few of the well-timed and expertly calculated phrases included the following:

“Hey, are you suuuure those are mushrooms?”

“You know, I think maybe the cook made a mistake. I’m not sure I’d eat them if I were you.”

“They kinda look a little like toadstools to me.”

“Do they taste funny?”

“You know, you’re looking a little peaked…”

I tossed out all of these questions in a nice, easy-going conversational tone with very subtle yet significant pauses in-between. As the inquiries mounted so did his scrutiny over the dish. I watched his hesitance blossom as the inquisition went on, each question hammering away at his defenses. And voila! The mushrooms were mine.

Big Brother: 0 Little Sister: 1.

It was a very convincing performance if I do say so myself. I’m no Meryl Streep but I really do think I should have an Oscar on my mantle.  The good side to this social experiment, besides my victory with a reward of mushrooms to celebrate, is that my brother lost just a tad bit of his gullibility. I gave him a life lesson free of charge and do you know that to this day he’s never even thanked me? So ungrateful.

ME in blue dress

never judge a book by its cover

Where can I get a Wife? Seriously. (Redux)

After a day like I had yesterday, I thought I would re-run an article that I originally posted February 19, 2014.  Trust me, it’s just as relevant today as it was then.

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Like everyone else out there, my life is filled with plenty of stress. I never seem to have the time to work through everything on my plate. With a family and work and my own life all vying for attention I routinely find it difficult not just in getting ahead but staying in place. Sound familiar? Well, lucky me, I’ve finally figured out the key to how I can finally juggle all these challenges. I offer this suggestion up to you as well – take heed as it may be the perfect solution to all of your woes as well.

I need a wife. I really, really need a wife.

Imagine how great it would be to have a wife helping out. Oh my god, wives are the best! Instead of just being one I’m giddy about how much easier my life would be if I had one. In the morning I would be able to wake up and actually enjoy a cup of coffee. Perhaps even while sitting down (the thought alone makes me a little woozy). My current way of drinking coffee is a bit convoluted.  You see, first I wake the kids up and get them ready for school (anyone with kids will know how that endeavor usually works), then I make the bed, take the dog out, start a load of laundry, clean cat litter, drive the kids to school, run errands, and then upon my return home, I finally have coffee as I sit down to start my work day. So the idea of simply waking up, stumbling to the kitchen and having a cup of coffee while sitting and enjoying the nothing that would be the start of my day could very well be Nirvana.

vintage housewife

In the evenings, with Wife streamlining activities, I’d be able to sit down and eat dinner. NOT a dinner I slaved over, mind you, which has cooled on my plate by the time I’m able to sit down. Oh no.  Instead I’d be able to waltz into the dining room right as it’s being plated up, able to savor the aromas, and have that sense of wonderful surprise when I find out what’s been prepared. “Veggie casserole? My favorite! Wife…you’re amazing.”  Of course I’d also have the privilege of turning my nose up at the meal if I happen to not be in the mood for it. “Eggplant parmesan? Meh, not really feeling it today. We had to have this?” I could also nitpick and complain about a missing spice or how the noodles aren’t truly al dente. Oh yes, this would be nice.

Another fantasy of mine that Wife could make a reality is the hot shower. I could take a hot shower.  As in, jump right in when the water’s hot and take a shower. I’m grinning ear to ear like a fool right now just pondering the joy inherent in such an event. There’d be no sorting of the laundry left lying on the bathroom floor. Or picking up stray towels. Or wiping down the sink (I mean, really, does no one else see that!?).  Just a beeline right to a piping hot shower with a towel that someone else had washed and stacked neatly for my use.  I could get used to this!

vintage housewife 2

To end the night I’d be able to collapse directly into bed. I would announce to all and sundry “I’m going to bed,” and simply go to bed. I wouldn’t have to do the nightly inspection of every room to clean up errant cups and re-organize scattered papers. I wouldn’t have to check to make sure the kids have done their homework (homework? what’s homework?). The pets would already be fed and the litter—which seems to always require attention—would be taken care of. I wouldn’t have to stress over what tomorrow’s dinner will be or make a mental grocery list or get anxious about whether or not I’m going to remember the kid’s doctor appointment or try to figure out the best time to drop off the overdue library books or remind myself for the 3rd time to call the insurance company to question that charge in the morning or spend the last minutes of my full day figuring out how to rob Peter to pay Paul to get the bills paid. No.  None of that.  I would just drift off into a dreamless sleep and actually rest, mind unfettered with the myriad of mundane details in running a household.

vintage housewife3

And best of all.  Best. Of. All.  Wife would nurse me back to health when I’m sick. How great would that be?  No doing chores with a head cold and fever. Instead I’d have soup brought to me (without my having to explain where the soup is or how to make it).  Tissues would be placed at my bedside with the old nasty ones being carted off and thrown away.  I could stay in bed wrapped in the covers recovering from whatever illness has taken hold drinking tea that Wife would have made for me (much like with the soup, Wife would already know the location of the tea and what to do with it to turn into a delicious thirst quencher). And it’s not like the chores would just be left, undone, waiting for my return to health.  Wife would have taken care of everything.  I have goose-bumps just thinking of it!

These Wives are pretty nifty inventions.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this before.  But I think we all need to jump on the Wife bandwagon and snag one as quickly as we can.

housewife

To clean or not to clean

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with her work but Phyllis Diller once said, “Trying to clean a house with small children in it is like trying to shovel the walk while it’s still snowing.” To that I say, TOO TRUE. While my children are no longer remorseless litterbugs disguised in Osh Kosh B’Gosh, it’s still a saying that rings true to me to this very day.

Let me just go right ahead and cop to being an attention deficit freak. My attention span flits around quicker than a hummingbird at a honeysuckle festival. Equally strong is my desire…no, it’s more of an obsessive need…for organization and order. The problem that I constantly war with myself over is that while I have an impressively low ability to stay focused on things I know I really should care about but don’t (like cleaning), I love having a neat, organized, and clean house. I think you can see why this is a problem. Maintaining a household is flat out work. Constant work. And it’s boring….oh so incredibly boring! In my ideal world my house is always a spotless sanctuary. I can see it when I close my eyes. I know what it would look like if it reached that utopic level, but trudging through the tedium to get there is a damn near impossibility.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this. I feel this is a problem many of us share. We’re standing at the base of this mountain and can see the summit. We visualize how great it would be to be on the peak (oh, what a great Facebook profile pic that would make!) and we know the utter sense of success that would wash over us, but the one thing getting in our way is actually climbing it. My house is my mountain. While it definitely has a comfy “lived in” feel and while there may be little messes lying around here and there, the ultimate cleanliness is a far cry.

Maybe this is okay. Maybe the comfort that comes from knowing the house is not just a house but a home is better than having it ready for any unexpected visits from Better Homes & Gardens. Proof of a family living and loving and going through their lives as a unit can contain much more beauty than a streak-less mirror or sparkling counter top. This is what I tell myself when I see an unfolded blanket half on the sofa and half on the floor (and most likely with a cat hiding underneath). It only got that way because someone that I care for intensely was there using it the night before while playing video games. You can have your solo mountain top photo, I think maybe I’ll be okay here at the bottom drinking and occasionally spilling hot chocolate with the lovable mess I call family.

Right Wingers

Somebody call the men with the white jackets to haul me off to the loony bin. I am certifiably insane. This is according to the rational, grounded, and downright pragmatic right-wingers who have taken to the saying “liberalism is a mental disorder.” Well, some of them anyway.

To be completely honest, if I must label myself, I guess I’d be classified as an “Independent with Liberal tendencies.” And like most of us probably do, I tend to surround myself with like-minded people. So my friends, for the most part, are left-leaning liberals or at the least “Independents.” Maybe it has to be that way…because some members of my family? Not so much.

I’ll admit, I personally find it very difficult these days to remain amicable with a certain someone who has drastically opposing political beliefs. I suppose I don’t have the patience I once had. Sure, people have always argued politics over a neighborly get together or family dinner. However it seems like in this age of social media people try to be as offensive and/or as argumentative about their political beliefs as possible. Oh, I know it’s not limited to one political party.

It’s as if these people are just begging to argue by putting up racist, sexist, homophobic or incendiary comments like the aforementioned “liberalism is a mental disorder.”  I think it’s fine for someone to have their anti-government sentiments and talk about it with other people who share their love of misogyny and assault rifles and their dream of a life in a doomsday survivalist commune somewhere deep  in the mountains of Wyoming. If someone wants to raise a Confederate flag and swear that the South will rise again that’s his or her own business. Just please don’t try to shove it in my face by forcing your views in such aggressive ways (i.e., stating that not thinking the same way is the side effect of a malfunctioning brain).

I can see doing that with strangers or people you don’t like to begin with. But family? Spouses? I mean, come on. Draw a line, people.

I have to say though; it does make me look at people differently.  I mean, I don’t care what political party you are or what issue you happen to side with – if you deliberately and very openly bait your closest friend or spouse or family member hoping to provoke a reaction solely for your own amusement or because you like to argue…there is just something wrong with you. At the very least you’re knowingly insulting them.  And that’s no better.