Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Afterparty


So ten children ages 7 (x 1), 6 (x 2), 5 (x 5), 4 (x 1) and 3 (x 1) makes for an interesting afternoon.  There were games!  There was laughter!  There were owies and/or boo-boos!  Tears!  Mayhem!  Cuppycakes!  Delirium!  Chaos!  Dora the Explorer party favors!  And eventually, an absence of children, and peace, and the kind of silence that can only follow a child’s birthday party.

Still, way better than Chuck E. Cheese.

The biggest hit was the decorate-your-own cupcakes.  Also the trampoline.

We had a few guests from the preschool.  Surprisingly there was one mother perfectly willing to drop her precious angel off at a total stranger’s house for two hours of God knows what.   Two other moms stayed for the fun.  The child who was dropped off was dressed in shorts and a fuzzy long sleeved top and must have been just roasting, but rebuffed our offers of a loaner t-shirt.  She seemed grimly determined to participate in everything and was almost eerily quiet.  Her mom (or at least the woman who dropped her off) barely made it to the front door, shook my hand like a politician, chucked the gift into my hands and dashed for the car like she was escaping from prison.  The pickup was similar but in reverse.  I hardly know what to think about it.

At any rate, the highlight of the party for me was, as always, pretending that Mr. Ex-The-Lovely-Rhonda was welcome in our home.  I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that next year the party will be at his house so that HE can do all the work while WE sit around with Rhonda’s family and chat and do nothing, and then get grumpy for no apparent reason and abruptly leave without saying thanks.  (His family said thanks; I don’t want to malign them, they were perfectly nice as always.)

We could not have picked a better day for it, 80 degrees and breezy and just perfect.  We had postponed it by a week due to illness and although the illness lingers, at least the weather was vastly improved.  It rained buckets last weekend.

We have this friend who comes and hangs out with us on occasion.  He’s more or less the perfect friend in that he doesn’t loathe our children (any more than we occasionally do; let’s face it, they’re not all rainbows and unicorns ALL the time), he enjoys sitting around doing more or less nothing, he helps us with our computers, and — ladies, pay attention — he’s rather tidy and not afraid of housework or yard work and, inexplicably, heterosexual.  Oh, and he’s not terribly into sports or cars or guns or hookers or blow.  As far as we can tell.

He is a pasty-skinned gamer, but it’s a small price to pay for this kind of companionship.

This weekend he not only mowed the lawn for the party while The Lovely Rhonda coughed and I cleaned the house, he stayed on — willingly, without promise of remuneration — and performed yard work with me while The Lovely Rhonda coughed and then brought us treats from Dairy Queen.  He gave our Cousin It tree a haircut and then helped me lay down weed suppression cloth on the side bed.  He even expressed a possible willingness to continue assisting me with such projects, despite the dirt and the being outdoors and the sweating and the mild sunburn.

We’re not sure what we have done to deserve this kind of friendship but we hope it continues at least until the grounds are completely landscaped.  Wonder if he’s any good with laying pavers?



Chubby Bunny


So when your 7-year-old says to you, just after dinner, “Mama, my tummy kind of hurts,” you should just go to bed as soon as the kids are down because are sure as God made little green apples you’re going to end up holding down the couch in the wee hours of the morning watching her hurl her little guts out into a mixing bowl.

Sadly, I have not learned this lesson yet.  And I woke up at 4:30am coughing, was up til after 5am doing same, then struggled to drift back off just in time for her to come get me, all pitiful and sad, at 6am.

The Lovely Rhonda went for a check-up this morning unrelated to the crappy cold we both have.  I’ve had mine for about a month, she’s had hers two weeks.  I don’t begrudge her, but after the nurse practitioner heard her hacking today she got a nebulizer treatment and an inhaler for her malady, whereas I have only non-work-friendly codeine cough syrup for mine.  Oh, and Mucinex.  I am changing my primary care provider to hers but can’t get in for another week.  Mine just keeps saying things like, Yep that’s a real stinker of a cold.  Meanwhile I’m still coughing up the remainder of my one raggedly lung (or so it feels like).

Last night we looked up birthday party games for 5-year-olds on account of we have a freshly minted one in our very household.  The youngest of the Spawn had her actual whelping anniversary yesterday, and the event of the season is scheduled for this Saturday: pinata party with games, at home because we grow weary of spending minimum of $200 on shitty pizza and cheap plastic prizes at Vegas for Tots (aka Chuck E. Cheese).  We can spend a fourth of that on goodie bags, cake decorations, and beer for the grown-ups and have more fun without leaving the Swamp.  Yay!

Anyway we settled on a few very simple games: balloon race, wherein you clasp an inflated balloon between your knees and race to the finish, or fall over laughing.  Tail Stompers, wherein you attach a crepe-paper-streamer tail to each child and let them “enjoy their tails” and also try to stomp one another’s tails off for valuable prizes. A fishing game of the sort you find at school carnivals, wherein the child throws a clothespin fishing line over a barrier of some kind, behind which helpful older children attach some kind of trifle to the clothespin and give the line a tug.  Hilarity ensues.

We’re also having them decorate their own cupcakes with candies and sprinkles rather than have a store-bought decorated cake.  Those cakes cost twenty-five bucks.  Let the frugality begin!  Then again we may end up spending the difference in stain spray.

One of the games we did not pick, and believe me it was torture to have to pass it up, was a game called “Chubby Bunny.”  This involves giving each participant two marshmallows, one to stuff into each cheek, and requiring them to state in turn, “I am a chubby bunny” intelligibly and without laughing.  Those who make it through round one are handed two more marshmallows to stuff into their cheeks and the process is repeated until all but one participant is eliminated.

The thought of a room full of children ages 4-7 all giggling madly and trying to say “I am a chubby bunny” with marshmallows in their cheeks is practically enough to drive me to pee my desk chair and were it not for the warning that was posted, I would totally have voted for this.  But there was a sobering disclaimer at the head of the web page: evidently there have been at least two deaths attributed to this game, one adult and one child.  I cannot think of a more senseless way to die than to suffocate on a marshmallow at a child’s birthday party.  More sordid, perhaps, but not more senseless.

On Lawn Care


So I got my Ugly Velcro Boottm off last week, and thus today was able to mow the front lawn of The Estate.  This went very quickly since The Lovely Rhonda and our good friend Josh mowed last weekend; it was the first mow of the season and the grass was still a bit damp so it was an all-day affair.  It has been sunny for a couple of days now and there was only a week’s worth of growth so I barely cracked a sweat.

Our lawns are pretty standard, your basic grass with trees and shrubs here are there.  It used to have delightful berms and sunken areas planted with sumptuous flowering plants of various types, but this was before my tenure here.  By the time I came onto the scene, any interesting flora had long made tracks for someplace where they took better care of their grounds, and all that remained was an annoying hump and trough that defied mowing.  I am super lazy have no real patience for such bourgeois niceties as “landscaping” so I had the lawn guys we hired a couple years ago for Major Yard Cleanup scrape them off and fill them in, as applicable.  Now when I mow I no longer encounter mower-annihilating bumps and holes.

The scraped/filled areas have filled in with weedy clovery looking stuff.  This leads me to ponder the merits of enhancing my yard care regimen, which currently consists of mowing and occasionally, when I can be bothered to make the effort, watering.  Then I step back and look at the yard.  The clovery stuff a) is green, and b) resembles grass from a short distance.  My work here is done!

Each year that we have been here I have chosen a smallish area to fix up.  The flower beds along the front of the house are now planted with some perennials and the occasional annual and get some bark mulch every so often, and the left side of the house has a gravel strip to park the trash and recycling cans in.  The area that used to have a rotting smelly shed over it is slowly filling in with grass, probably not a groundskeeper-approved variety of grass but it fits my requirements (green, looks grass-like) so I’m not knocking it.

This year I think the chosen bed will be the right side of the house.  There are a couple of scraggly, hideous rhododendrons against the house that have outlived their welcomes, and toward the fence side there’s a weedy corner of blackberries and creeping vetch and the like.  I’m not sure what I’ll do there, since it doesn’t get a lot of sun and there’s a disreputable cherry tree looming over everything dropping its blighted wormy fruits all over the place, but I’m sure it will involve hard work and digging and bitching and complaining and Motrin.

Another Uneventful Trip to the Vet


So  The Lovely Rhonda was compelled to take two of the household pets to the local veterinary office yesterday for routine maintenance.  Hilarity ensued.

The dog is generally not so difficult to take to the vet.  He has Friendliness Issues.  He loves to Go Places.  Put a leash on him and he’ll go to Hell for you.

While he was there, the vet “expressed his anal glands.”  One assumes Otto’s glands, not the vet’s, but it’s none of my business what they do behind closed doors.

And he got a couple of shots, and that was it.  Easy peasy.

Not so much for the cat!

I was at work, so you can imagine how delightful it was to receive the following text message:

“Ew.  Pa Pa pooped in the carrier. Ew ew ew!”

And a moment later:  “And peed! Ew!”

Grandpa was just there for a rabies shot, so it was quick, and by the time they were done the befouled carrier had been cleaned and disinfected.

“So there’s this guy there, in khaki scrubs, and apparently that’s his sole purpose at the clinic is to hose out pet carriers.  He just whisked it off and it came back clean.  And they swap your towel out for a clean one!”

And they say customer service is dead.

I was thinking about what a trip to the vet is like for a cat.  They stuff you headfirst into a box and drive you around.  This terrifies you so much that you crap yourself.  Then a total stranger manhandles you and examines your most personal private regions and doesn’t even buy you dinner or ply you with alcohol.  Then they jab you with needles.  And at the end?  They stuff you back in the box.  Good times!