Monday, June 29, 2009

Kickin' it to the Curb

A few days ago, somebody deposited what had to be their entire living room--and possibly their den--in the parking lot across the street from our house.

They seemed to have driven by and said, "Hark! A dumpster! Let's set all the furniture we own next to it!"

Now, whenever I walk by, I can't help but pass judgement on their lives.

I think: "None of it matches. Really, have you no pride?"

Also: "How in the heck many adult men lived in your house to justify needing three corderoy recliners?"

And: "Don't you draw your shades against the blazing sun? Your furniture is so faded! Jesus, Mary and Joseph! I've never seen anything like it."

Now, to be honest, until a few weeks ago, we've never owned matching furniture, either. And as for the faded upholstery, we have metal awnings to prevent that...Every month or so, handimen stop by to ask if we want them removed. Whatever do they mean? Are they tacky or something?

Nevertheless, seeing somebody's castaway furniture always opens the floodgates. Even if it's my own furniture.

Recently, I was shocked and appalled to see our old refrigerator sitting on our curb like a crazy Cousin Eddie. It almost counteracted my glee at the horrible machine giving out in the first place, forcing us to buy something that wasn't harvest gold.

We live across the street from a school, so whatever we put on the curb, a parade (a.k.a. carpool) comes by every morning to see it.

The vice principal pulled me aside that day and said the preschool teachers were concerned that a wandering child would get caught inside it.

"Yes," a mother walking by at that very instant confirmed. "It is illegal to put out a refrigerator with its doors on."

I nodded earnestly, but secretly, I was thinking, "Well, they don't have to worry about our refrigerator. The doors don't even close all the way."

Then I was like, "Wait a second. For seven years we've owned a refrigerator whose doors don't close all the way. Seriously. Where is our pride?"

I mentioned we now have matching furniture. We recently lucked into some good fortune. In addition to our refrigerator breaking down (thank God), we got a new-to-us couch set (Thanks, brother and sister-in-law!).

They had received a hand-me-down couch set from her parents, who in turn, had gotten a new set.

I was like, "Hmm. Who could we "gift" with our couches? One is white. Was white. Now is the color of chocolate milk and chicken wings. The other has a pink sparkly paint pen scribbled on the back and the back pillows missing.

These were perfectly good couches, mind you, before we got ahold of them. Three boys + one not so great housekeeper vs. two couches = no contest. In the end, we gifted the curb. Where they looked much worse than they ever did in our living room. Nestled cozily in our little house, I have to admit, I kind of liked them.

But things are different now. Since my youngest is nearing four (sob!), I have a shot at having a nice house. I even have a chance of putting something on the curb with pride. "We won't be needing this fine furniture any longer. Have at it, ladies."

With that goal in mind, I've become bossy couch lady: "Cheetoh's are an outside food, and you know it!" I often exclaim to my bewildered children as they snack.

By the way, where do you get the plastic covers for couches? I think it's a Southern thing. People make fun of them. But you can never be too careful. My plan is to keep the plastic on until they go to the curb. Then I'll bust those puppies open and they'll be gleaming for all the carpool line to see.

You know what I bet they'd say? "Look at those spotless couches. I bet the mother who lives there is a, neat freak. She probably makes her kids eat their cheetohs outside."

Ah, well. Maybe it's better to enjoy your couches when they're inside, with your messy children on your lap, rather when they're on the curb for all the spotless world to see.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hotter than...

Every morning, we walk outside at 8 a.m. and it's 85 degrees. No sense stating the obvious, so I think of a lie instead.

"What a refreshing day!"

"Another breathtaking morning!"

"Oh, thank God! Mr. Air's fever has broken. His doctor will be so relieved."

The temperature rises 15 degrees by early evening.

Here's a handy guide:

8 a.m. 65 degrees...4 p.m. a balmy 80.
8 a.m. 75 degrees...4 p.m. a warm 90.
8 a.m. 85 degrees...4 p.m. hold onto your freaking hat.

True to form, it was 100 as the boys and I walked out of day camp today.

We were hot, sticky and miserable. It was the perfect opportunity to tell the boys a sob story from my childhood.

"Did I ever tell you guys that we didn't have air conditioning when we were kids?"


"Well, we didn't. You know what we'd do to cool off?"


"We'd go outside in the blazing sun and fry an egg on the sidewalk. And if it didn't cook right away, somebody would say, 'I guess it ain't that hot.'"

And somebody else would say, "I recken it's just humid."

Johnny nodded his head, believing the whole story. Then he shrugged. "Yeah, but you guys didn't have global warming back then."

To vote for this blog in the Nickelodeon Parents' Choice Awards contest, please go to: Click on "Kansas City" and "local blog."

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Ducks of Loose Park

Thank you for voting for this blog for the Nickelodean Parents' Choice Awards. If you're reading this for the first time, welcome to my world. That probably sounds like a smart aleck comment, but seriously, welcome.

We went to feed the ducks at the Loose Park with my cousins the other day. We hadn't been to the pond in years because for a while, Canadian Geese had taken over.

Not to make a sweeping generalization, but Canadian geese are horrible people. Bossy. Pushy. It's not enough for them to eat the bread you throw at their feet, their beaks have to be inside the bag in order to be happy.

But my cousins are athletic young lads and lasses, so I figured they'd protect us. They brought a bunch of stale hotdog buns. We brought our goose game faces.

Well, surprise! There are no geese at Loose Park anymore. I don't know what people said to make them go away. They don't seem to be easily offended. I used to look at them point blank and say, "We're here for the ducks," and they'd still mow me down for a crack at the stale bread.

Now, poof, they're gone. Maybe they went back to Canada for the summer. Are they even Canadian? Or are they Canadian like fries are French? If you have an inquiring mind, feel free to research that in your own time. The boys' summer camp ends in 0:20. Otherwise, carry on.

I like to see how boys feed ducks. My cousin Eli and oldest son Johnny made it an athletic event. Eli threw the bread across the pond to see who his best running back was. Johnny threw them to the most athletically promising mallards, then noted, "They're not good receivers, but they're good fumble recoverers."

Richie got involved in their squabbles. Ducks don't attack humans like geese do, but among each other, they will stop at nothing to get a piece of a hotdog bun. I can't help but wonder, after a nice hour at the park, how many wars we've started among the water fowl.

Richie observed this and said, "Oh, you're not going to share? You're going to bite each other? Well guess what? You don't get anymore bread. I'm going to throw it over there." Meanwhile, guess who refused to share his hotdog buns with the other children?

He kept saying, "I want the ducks to have them."

I was like, "Do you see any hotdogs? What the heck do you think the rest of us are going to do with the buns?"

Answer: feed them to the ducks.

J.J. loved the duckies. And the birds. I mean, ducks are birds, but he doesn't know that. So he'd be like, "One for the duckie, one for the birdie."

I think it's interesting that Loose Park is not only the most prestigious neighborhood for humans, but the best address for birds, too. Nobody, but nobody is short on the dough around there. Especially not the ducks.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Me? A Nominee? Why, I Nevah!

I was flattered and surprised to have nominated for the 2009 Nickelodean's Parents' Picks Award.

You can help me CRUSH the competion by voting as often as every day here. on "Kansas City" and "local blog."

Actually, unless my mom's vote counts 700,000 times, I don't think I have much a chance, so feel free to vote for any of the great mommy/local blogger contestants who I am flattered to be named alongside. (I just can't use "crush" and "mom" in the same thought bubble. Don't we go through enough?)

If you know K.C., check out the other nominees, too! There are lots of great Waldo and Brookside businesses listed. Go Braldo!

Voting ends July 15.

Thank you to whoever nominated me. (No, I didn't nominate myself, for those of you wiseguys out there.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Days

Summer is in full swing. The older two boys are at camp.

Richie loves it, even though he got thrown into cheese sandwich debtor's prison. I sent the lunch money check in the wrong envelope and all hell broke loose. If you don't have a positive balance, they hand your child a cheese sandwich in a baggie--with no side dishes--not even a single green bean. That'll learn 'ya to have an airhead for a mother!

Johnny is on the fence. "It's not camp, mom," he told me. "It's summer school. The teachers even call it summer school."

"Yeah, but isn't one of your classes Speed Stacking, where you make a pyramid with plastic cups?"

"Yes," he said. "But the first word is 'speed,' and I'm slow at it. That's a problem."

Well, there are problems and then there are problems. At least they've made friends, which is really all you can ask out of a camp when you're a kid. If you also enjoy the activities, then that's a fringe benefit.

Reason being: Have you ever noticed that most camp games were created by a crazy person?

"And now we're going to blindfold you and see how fast you can fill a bucket of water with a teaspoon that also has a raw egg on it. But wait! You also need to balance a cotton ball on your nose while naming the left-handed presidents of the United States. Yaayy! Fun!"

Meanwhile, on the home front, J.J. has three new "babies." Pete Cougar (who is a leopard,) Shuga Flack (a horse), and an anteater named Cracker. To J.J., consonant + vowel = great name for your child. If the word also happens to be a snack, that's even better.

Last night, J.J. was jumping on Richie's bed while Richie was trying to sleep. I went in and told him he needed to be a better role model for Pete Cougar and Cracker, and even Shuga Flack, who was lost by that point.

He leaned in and whispered to them, "I'll be a better popcorn."

When I talk, it must sound like interchangeable syllables that make no real sense. Because of that, I love to see how J.J. interprets things.

We say prayers at night, and it goes like this:

Richie: "I pray for poor people."

Johnny: "I pray for our grandparents."

J.J.: "Um, I like French fries, and I like choo choo trains, and I like going to the grocery store..."

He's come up with some pretty cute phrases though, like for petting Ben, he calls it, "softing the dog." And for getting photographed, he calls it, "taking a smile."

He's like the radio show host Delilah, who, instead of asking people who is on their mind, says, "Who is on your heart?" Maybe it's the old lifeguard in me, but I always picture CPR when she says that.

Anyway, I hope you're having a great summer. I hope that your biggest worry is being slow at speed stacking. I hope any bad news about money comes to you via a cheese sandwich. And, because that is probably impossible, I pray that, everyday, you at least get to do something you like to do.