Monday, August 13, 2018

Perseid Meteor Fail


Things overheard while attempting (and failing due to weather) to watch the Perseid meteor shower:

1. I can't see anything
2. Did you bring snacks?
3. Do you think Ali A's watching meteors?
4. Dude, you do NOT want to get rushed in Fortnite
5. Do we *have* to talk about Fortnite? Meteors are just as cool
6. HAHAHAHA, Mom, meteors are not cool
7. Remember that time mom made us watch the blood moon?
8. Hey, you should never watch the blood moon from the beach - get it? BECAUSE SHARKS LIKE BLOOD
9. Hey, don't drink a Bloody Mary on the beach, because ... wait, what's a Bloody Mary?
10. A Bloody Mary's a drink with alcohol and ketchup
11. Who drinks ketchup?
12. Whose sleeping bag is this?
13. I am NOT sharing a sleeping bag with my brother
14. Are my eyes focused yet?
15. I can't see anything
16. My eyes are tired from focusing, I'm going to close them
17. I saw something
18. No, you didn't
19. Yes I did -- I saw the sprinklers going off
20. Can we run in the sprinklers?
21. Please don't run in the sprinklers
22. I'M ALL WET
23. I can't see anything
24. Can we go now?
25. Let's run in the sprinklers again before we go
26. Please don't run in the sprinklers again
27. I'M ALL WET AGAIN
28. I'm tired
29. I'm going to stay up ALL NIGHT
30. IT'S RAINING
31. Parker opened the window & I'm getting wet AGAIN
32. Oooh, you're in trouble
33. But I don't want to go back to bed
34. It's ok Mom -- maybe you got the wrong night for the meteor shower
35. Can I have a snack?
36. Can I play Fortnite?


....One more week before school starts. One. More. Week.

Friday, January 5, 2018

2018...the year of the Rat

Ah, the new year. A time for reflection, resolution and...rats.

It all started with a New Year's Eve trip to the movies. My neighbor Carrie and I thought this would be "fun." Because as we all know, taking 5 boys to the movies is the very essence of fun. We didn't buy tickets online, because clever mothers that we are, we thought we'd just go early to the theater to get the kid discount. And that is how we ended up with front row seats.

To be fair to our children, they mostly behaved, though my youngest felt it necessary to dance in front of the screen, which they frown upon at the Alamo Drafthouse. And by the end of the movie, all kids were getting a little restless, which is probably why one of their hats slipped to the ground, which is why Carrie knelt down to retrieve it, bumped her head on the arm rest and started out the day with a black eye. #Happynewyear

Then we couldn't find two of our boys, who thought hiding in the Star Wars photo booth in the lobby for 20 minutes was hilarious.

By comparison, January 1, seemed pretty calm ... at first. I woke up to the sound of my oldest son tiptoeing past the door to the office to play video games before his brother woke up. Because obviously, one greets the new year by playing Madden 18 just like EVERY OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR.

By the time I'd made breakfast, both boys were battling over the PlayStation. So I decided this was the perfect time for my second annual traditional Polar Bear Plunge. I mean, it was 16 degrees outside, why wouldn't I jump in my swimming pool? Honestly, I thought it might distract my kids from killing each other, plus I'm a sucker for pseudo-sporting events that are really, really short in duration and involve minimal effort (Derby Day comes to mind).

I called Carrie to come over and witness my insanity, attempted to pick up the eviscerated remains of a couch cushion left by the dog, and yelled upstairs to the kids. They all opted to watch from indoors -- my oldest son waving at me from the office window, because clearly, Mom braving cold water was not worth walking down a flight of stairs. (This, from the same child who feels perfectly comfortable playing catch outside in shorts when it's 30 out, but hey, priorities).

With Carrie cheering me on, I walked into the pool... and yes, in case you're wondering, it was really @#$%%^ cold -- and then finally jumped in. For like a second. I said it was a plunge, not a swim -- insanity has its limits.

Twenty minutes later, I was in warm clothes, and Carrie and I were enjoying a post-plunge mimosa by the fire. Sure, I still couldn't feel my toes, but the Prosecco was helping...or at least helping me not to care about such trivialities as nerve endings. All was peaceful and bright. And then...

"Uh oh," Carrie said. "I think something might have broken."

I turned toward the dining room to see a massive spray of water pelting the window. My first thought was that a freak storm had just hit. My second thought was that hurricane season was over and I was an idiot, and the next few seconds unfolded like a certain Christmas poem.

When out the dining room window there arose such a clatter
I sprang (away from the Prosecco) to see what was the matter.
Away to the patio, I flew in a dash...
To get hit with freezing cold water in a mighty cold splash.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a leak in a pipe ...yep, happy new year.


I tried to stem the water flow, and only succeeded in getting soaked. Desperate, I threw the patio rug over the pipe, which at least stopped the hurricane from battering my dining room window...and created a nice, oozing flood in my backyard. Carrie phoned her husband, Blake, who gamely came over to investigate, despite being sick, and then turned off the water. Going against what I tell my kids nearly every day, I found myself shouting, "DON'T ANYONE FLUSH THE TOILET" while we investigated the now only-seeping leak.

We spotted the hole, and decided we'd try to patch it up. Then, just before he left to get some plumbing tape, Blake casually mentioned, "Oh, and you've got a dead rat right there."

Yep. A dead rat.

RIGHT.
WHERE.
I.
WAS.
KNEELING.

Now, if you know me at all, I don't need to explain the impact of those words and you'll understand completely why I shrieked, ran inside and cursed 2018. By this point, my sick husband Mike (was anyone NOT sick this holiday??) came downstairs and agreed to dispose of the rat. He went outside with a trash bag. Blake came back inside, muttering, "I think I'm gonna be sick" -- because when you're already ill, a juicy, bloated rat corpse is just icing on the cake. Mike was out there for a while, before coming back in for a shovel, which did not bode well. Carrie offered to hold the body bag at this point. She then mused whether the rat had been lying there in the open all along, or whether the geyser of water had shot it into the air. Because you know what's worse than a dead rat? #Ratnado.

Once the rat corpse was gone, I went out with the plumbing tape -- as though I had any idea what I was doing, while Carrie helped me cut it and then took a snapshot of our plumbing prowess. Because a friend will video you jumping into a cold pool. A really good friend will bag a rodent, help you wrap a pipe and take a plumbing selfie.

Two Chicks Plumbing - you bring the leak, we bring the Prosecco.


Of course, once the water was turned back on, the water still spurted, but not with the same raging-rapid intensity. And turns out there's this valve thing you can turn off, which only shuts off the water to the backyard. Or maybe just that pipe. Whatever. All I know, is days later when an actual handyman came out to fix the leak, it took him FOREVER (ok, 5 minutes) to cut the tape we had oh-so-carefully wrapped around the pipe. So yeah, not bragging or anything, but if you need a pipe taped...well, you know who to call.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty uneventful, because ... well, how do you top a leaking pipe and a dead rat? But once we finished our black-eyed peas for luck (you know what would be lucky? No rats in 2018), we did settle into blankets in the den to watch Best in Show. Because when you're wiped out after RatPipeCopalypse, you can "not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about."

So yeah, that's January so far. I'd like to think the rest of the month will be more peaceful, but I know better; Science Fair projects are due in 10 days.


May your 2018 be healthy and happy
May your pipes not explode
May your Prosecco be cold
And may your patio be rat-free

HAPPY NEW YEAR








Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Taxi

Tonight I took a taxi home from DFW. My driver was an exceptionally nice man from Rwanda.

We traded parenting woes. We talked about kids wanting phones or to be taken to Amazing Jakes or Main Event.

He was kind enough to indulge my broken French, as he explained that other customers often get mad when he is chatty...because he is constantly trying to improve his English.

He told me how blessed he felt to be here, to be an American citizen. He told me about explaining to his kids how lucky they were to attend school, when he couldn't afford it back home. He told me how lucky he felt because he could drive a taxi to make money. He told me how it was to eat only one meal a day. He told me about the refugee camps.

He told me that he wanted all of his children to serve in the U.S. military as gratitude for the country that had given him so much.

I hope we can all remember how much immigrants have given to this country. I hope we can all keep in mind that regardless of how we got here, whether legally or otherwise, virtually all of us are descendants of immigrants.

The statue of Liberty has some words to say in the subject. I hope we can all remember those.

We are better than the nonsense coming from the White House on the subject of immigration and DACA.
I hope we can remember that as well.


P.S. I promise my next post will be more entertaining than political. I'm far too vapid to sustain this level of deep thought for any length of time, so I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Statues

For the most part, I keep politics off this blog. I prefer to annoy my friends on Facebook in that regard.
But sometimes, a few words are necessary.


Confederates fired on a U.S. fort.

Confederates seceded from our country.

Confederates were at war with the U.S.

Therefore...

Monuments to Confederate generals are not monuments to American heroes. They are statues glorifying people who fought against our country.

In many cases these monuments were erected decades after the war, while legislation such as the Day Law was instituted. The Day Law directly targeted my alma mater, Berea College, for educating black and white students together. Some of those monuments were built on or near grounds where slaves were sold.

My home town of Berea, KY, was founded on principles that those statues were built to disavow.

The removal of these statues is not revisionist history.

The only revisionist history is the statues themselves.

Astronomy Lesson

Things overheard while watching the Perseid meteor shower:

1. Can I borrow your phone to download an app to call coyotes?

2. Is that a rocket ship or an airplane? IT'S TOTALLY A ROCKET SHIP!

3. Did you see that one? No, you didn't! Yes I did!

4. If aliens abduct us, would they kill us right away?

5. Did you see that one? Where? Right there! Are you making this up?

6. Can we go fishing?

7. What's the Illuminati? (!)

8. Why didn't we bring the dog?

9. *If* I could call coyotes, do you think wolves would come, too?

10. Do wolves live in Texas?

11. OMG, did you see that one?

12. I'm itchy, are you?

13. WHY CAN'T I GO FISHING?

14. Did you know I can teleport?

And finally...

15. Can we go home now?

And this is why I torment my children by waking them at 345 a.m. Because memories.

They'll thank me later.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Crowns & Cocktails: Miss Texas 2017

Carrie: Hey, Deirdre…
Me: What, Carrie?
Carrie: The Miss Texas pageant is next week.
Pause….
Me: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Carrie: Do you think it would be as much fun the second time, or would the magic be gone?
Me: Hmm. Will there be batons?
Carrie: Of course.
Deirdre: And commemorative champagne flutes?
Carrie: I hope so!
Deirdre: I guess a dramatic reading of Gone With the Wind would be too much to ask for this time…
Carrie: Probably – I think that was a once-in-lifetime occurrence. But … I bet there’ll be puppets.
Me: I'M IN

And this is how it began, once again. #MissTexas2017 #Becausepuppets

########

Last year, my neighbor and I made our first trip to the Miss Texas pageant. Don’t judge; we’ve got five boys between the ages of 11 and 6 between us – who we love, obviously – but that’s a lot of socks and underwear left on the floor … or the front yard … or each other’s front yard. Even our dogs are male. And yes, the whole concept of a beauty pageant might seem a little weird given the times we live in … let’s just say we like our sequins with a healthy side of sarcasm.

This year, we toyed with hitting another competition. But after concluding the Lone Star Classic probably didn't sell commemorative glasssware, we bought tickets once again for Miss Texas. After an endless Saturday of "OMG MOM, he won't let me play Madden 17" or whatever nonsense they were yelling at us all day, escape arrived in the form of a Lyft driver. Who, it must be said, had lovely manners and only laughed at us once for taking a selfie in the car.




We had reservations for an actual grownup dinner (you know, the kind where nobody spits a straw wrapper at his brother or complains because the grilled cheese is made with real cheese) at Urbano Cafe. Of course, we started off with a proper toast. Because A) we are not philistines and B) pageant prep demands a sparkly pink drink



I'm not much of a restaurant reviewer, but that redfish freaking rocked.


As did Carrie's duck.




We finished with creme brulee, because the waiter, who up till this point had looked at us with the teensiest bit of disdain (fair enough, we were taking selfies with sparkling wine) told us it was so good he ate it for dinner. We figured if he was that amped up about a dessert, it was worth trying .. and we were right. Usually I think creme brulee tastes like carmelized suntan lotion, but this stuff was really good. "Maybe you should get a blowtorch," Carrie suggested. For half a second, I agreed. Till I realized my kids would just torch the kitchen. Ah, well.



Lest you think we only discussed kitchen appliances, there was a sweet-looking, very young couple at a nearby table, who appeared to be on a first date. So of course we had to speculate on a back story. Carrie decided they'd met at church, and she was probably a teacher. On the other hand, he was drinking a beer and she wasn't, so ... maybe not a profession that involved working with children. I wondered if they'd kiss after the date, but Carrie thought that might be moving just a wee bit too fast. Alas, we will never know, because Miss Texas beckoned.

When we stepped inside the Eisemann Center, we were at first ... underwhelmed. Last year, it was like the color pink had exploded as soon as we walked in the door. This year, we were a little early and the crowd seemed slightly more subdued. Don't worry; this lasted all of five seconds, until we found the first tiara-wearers milling around, and then, of course, had to take a selfie.



On closer look, I think the difference was that last year there was more glitter. This year there were more jump suits. Lots and lots of jumpsuits. Black, strapless, cut-out midriffs, all of them paired with skyscraper-height heels. A. When did heels get so high? I was wearing 4-inch sandals (because when will I learn?) and felt like I was in flats by comparison. B. The jumpsuits were kinda badass, in a 70s glam sort of way. (Note to self: totally need excuse to buy a jump suit).



(We are totally NOT stalking past contestants at all here)

Once we'd arrived and taken the obligatory photo with crowns in the background, we headed for the bar. Because nothing starts off your night like cocktails in a commemorative Miss Texas flute. "Do you have a special drink tonight?" Carrie asked. The bartender said sure and started pouring champagne and peach "essence" -- which sounded a bit more like something that belonged in bubble bath, but what do I know?

We toasted each other and took a sip. If you've ever wondered whether Hawaiian Punch and sparkling wine would make a good drink, let me end that speculation for you. It doesn't. We took a few more sips, though, because hello ... Miss Texas cocktail. Finally we had to admit we couldn't do it, Miss Texas, be damned. We took our glasses back to the bar, asked if we could possibly get them wrapped up and just ordered red wine instead. Which the bartender did without blinking an eye. I suspect we were not the first to "not quite finish" the concoction.



That's when we spotted the Lone Star Princesses ... aka, First Communion on crack. I kid, I kid. I'll keep my mouth zipped on this one, except to say my hats off to any ten-year-old who can put up with that much chiffon.



After our selfie with the LSPs (because yeah, we did that), the doors to the theater opened. We high-fived, and made our way down to our seats. I *may* have splashed a bit of red wine en route, because stairs + hideously uncomfortable shoes = gravity is not in my favor (again, when will I learn?)

We took our seats, imagining what talents we might see this year...


Would we be wowed by ventriloquism, musical talent, or ... dare we think there might be a new talent to eclipse last year's glow-in-the-dark 90-second painting of Elvis? The possibilities made us giddy. And finally, the lights went up, the music started and hello Miss Texas ...



The first to take the stage were previous winners, many of whom, I might add, were wearing... you guessed it; jump suits. We met our MC, another past Miss Texas (PMT) of course. The next hour was a blur of choreography and contestants.
In other words...
A lot.
Of.
Dancing.
Which was a hint of things to come, but more on that later.

Carrie and I had a very intense discussion about how they kept their legs and teeth so shiny. Spoiler alert; it's Vaseline. Which is both fascinating and disgusting.

Then Madonna's "Vogue" came on to kick off the swimsuit portion. Ahem, I'm sorry, the "lifestyle and fitness swimsuit competition." Because nothing screams "fitness" like contestants strutting down the runway, whipping off their wraps and parading around in a skimpy bikini. Fitness, my a**. (Or, more accurately, their a**es) This is when Carrie and I looked each other and at our empty wine glasses and decided, even if the pageant wasn't ready yet for intermission, we were.

We hit the bar for chocolate, because that is what we do when faced with body-shaming disguised as fitness.
Also because M&Ms and red wine pair beautifully.



"OMG Carrie, peanut M&Ms are SO GOOD!"

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied someone doing what appeared to be a dance routine on stage. "OMG it's the talent competition!" I shoved the rest of my M&Ms in my clutch and we ran (Ok, I hobbled. Because shoes) for our seats.

Joke was on us, though, because it wasn't the talent portion after all. It was Miss Texas Outstanding Teen.
Followed by a video tribute to the host city. (Shout out to Richardson! Look, it's wildflowers! Look it's a DART train! Look, it's technical-looking people wearing lab coats and hairnets...wait, what? What tech corridor job requires hairnets? Is that even a thing?)
Then the mayor.
Then the evening gowns. Lot of trains this year. And capes, which I kind of love. Because to me, capes suggest that sure, you *might* be a pageant contestant...or you might be hiding superhero powers, and bound off the stage with a sword.

OK, nobody did that -- but I like to think it was a possibility.

After evening gowns, we met the Outstanding Teen (OT) whose platform was about smiles. I am not going to say anything snarky about this, because I mean, come on -- she's a kid. Which means she can have a platform about smiles if she damn well wants to.

At this point, you might be wondering when the hell intermission was.
Or the talent competition.
WHAT'S A MOM GOTTA DO TO GET A LITTLE BATON TWIRLING AROUND HERE?

Instead we got a triple play of PMTs performing their winning talents. There was a tap dancing PMT, wearing a jump suit, because of course she was. Another PMT fiddled (pretty good job, btw), and finally a singing PMT. Surely talent must be next?

Nope. Eliminations. Followed by a pretty killer baton routine from last year's Miss Texas. I still don't understand how she did that thing with her neck and shoulders. FINALLY this year's talent began. Which was...

Lyrical Dance.

More Lyrical Dance.

Lyrical Dance with gymnastics.

PUPPETS! Not just any puppets, but SINGING puppets! Carrie and I high-fived as only women who've watched too much lyrical dance can do. Miss Midland-Odessa, I salute your ventriloquism.

Singing -- something stirring about a battle, with a name I can't spell.

...And more Lyrical Dance.

I don't know who put the word out this year on pageant trends, but I liked the jump suits a lot more than the lyrical dance. Don't get me wrong; they were talented and athletic and obviously put a lot of thought into their choices, but ... if I'm gonna watch that much dance, there better be sugar plum fairies and nutcrackers involved.

The two standouts (apart from puppets, obviously) for me were:
- Miss San Antonio, who sang John Lennon's "Imagine" and played the guitar ... and did I mention she was hearing-impaired? Yeah. She pretty much rocked it.
- Also Miss Park Cities, who clogged. Which I had to admire not only because I'm from KY, where I know people who actually do that but also because -- in a sea of lyrical dancers, be a clogger.

After the talent ended .. 2 hours in, by the way ... that's when they called intermission. Two hours is a looooong time to sit through dance routines. Glass half full, perhaps it's good I am unlikely to ever be a dance mom, since this is clearly not my calling. Glass half empty?
Mine.

When intermission ended, there was a final elimination and then the interview portion began. I *might* have whispered to Carrie, "If somebody says anything good about Trump, I'm totally booing." I was kidding, of course. I do not boo; that's tacky and I was raised right. Also? You don't get to the Miss Texas finals without learning how to deftly dodge an interview question, even when the topics included hate crime, jail penalties for adolescents, the 1st amendment, war and equality.

Highlights:
Miss Park Cities nailed the question about equality by saying we should all pay attention to how we treat each other. Ahem. Just gonna leave that right there.
The interviewer, PMT 1992 (shout out to the year I graduated college!), wore a fabulous off-the-shoulder jumpsuit.

There were some other awards given out -- Miss San Antonio won the Quality of Life award, Miss Dallas won Community Service and Miss Allen won the Miracle Maker award. Which ... I have no idea what that meant, but it did come with a plaque.

Miss Texas 2016 had a final video tribute, where we learned she skinned a rattlesnake on Facebook. Wonder if she hit it first with her baton.

Then finally, THREE HOURS IN, the crowning. And the winner is...

4th Runner Up: Miss San Antonio
3rd Runner Up: Miss Park Cities
2nd Runner Up: Miss Plano
1st Runner Up: Miss Midland-Odessa (#becausepuppets)
Winner: Miss Travis County, who was immediately mobbed by the other contestants, all of whom (except the 5 finalists) were wearing red. Which, on second watching, was very Handmaids Tale-esque. Irony, thy name is Miss Texas.

Last year we ended the evening with a post-show drink at the Renaissance, which we skipped this time around, because #tootired and #winesleepy. Also #toomuchlyricaldance and #notenoughbatons.

But ... there's always next year. And this time, we may be bringing a crowd. Carrie posted a few pics from the pageant on FB and seems we've got enough friends interested to fill an entire row of seats.

Of course, I already know what I'm wearing in 2018.

A jump suit.



Tickets: $80
Commemorative flutes filled with sickly sweet cocktail: $14
Finding M&Ms in my purse the morning after: priceless

#MissTexas2017








Friday, December 23, 2016

'Twas the Night Before Ratmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

The creatures were stirring – dear God, please, not a mouse.

The children were nestled … in my bed, stealing the covers.

Because uninterrupted sleep? Yeah right, I’m a mother.

When from somewhere below, I heard a strange sound.

Like something was dragging and scratching the ground.

A ghost? Or a burglar? Maybe Santa was near?

But deep down, I had a more hideous fear.

I crept down the stairs to see what was the matter,

As a body slammed into the hearth with a clatter.

When his tail hit the floor with a sickening splat,

I knew in a moment – it must be St. Rat.

He was hairy and gray, a nasty old gent.

But what else do you expect from a giant rodent?

His claws, how they glistened, his teeth were quite shocking.

And he spied me, as he flung bits of trash in our stockings.

“Hey Deirdre,” he hissed, his voice scratchy and low,

“Glad we've met – you’re big in the rat world, you know.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed the attention,” I sighed with a groan.

“What can I say, we can’t leave you alone.”

“But you ate my car's wiring, I had to buy new.”

“Oh, we feasted like kings on your Subaru.”

“I tried mothballs, I called Geico -- you don't know what it took!”

“Yes we read all about it...from your posts on Facebook.”

Defeated, I looked St Rat right in the eye.

And was tempted, I’ll admit, to sit down and cry.

“We’re rats, D,” he said. “Wreck and ruin’s what we do.

But there’s nobody we like messing with more than you."

And here’s where my revulsion dwindled to almost affection,

I asked, “St Rat, did you by chance rig the election?”

He spoke not a word, but gave me a wink.

“We once wiped out Europe… what do you think?”

Then, extending his paw, he said, “I want to be friends.”

And shook my hand (as I wondered if the world was at end).

"Just remember," he urged, "next time all hope is fallen,"

"Ignore those sounds in the walls -- watch a movie with Colin."

Then he squealed to the air, “Come rats and come mice,

Let’s leave her alone, boys, it’s time to be nice.”

And as he rose up the chimney and into the sky,

He called, “Merry Christmas to all – and yes, rats really can fly!”

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