Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Mysterious and Romantic Life

To most outside observers, I may appear the typical stay at home mom. I cook, clean (when absolutely necessary), run my kids to and from basketball games and friends houses, and keep the family dog and cats fed. But unbeknownst to even my closest friends I’m actually living a double life as a secret agent.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the James Bond movies; well my life makes his look like an afternoon at the mall. You want to talk about suspense, top secret information, mysterious happenings and romance on a daily basis, then my friends, you have come to the right place.

My world is full of suspense. Let’s me tell you what happened just yesterday. I decided to bake some homemade whole wheat bread. I followed the instructions, allowed the dough to rise in the pan and then turned on the oven. After the allotted time, I peeked in and found that the bread was golden on the top and looked ready to come out.

I carefully removed the first loaf from the oven, slid a knife around the outside and turned the pan upside down. For about ten seconds it looked absolutely perfect. Then it happened. The bread began to slowly implode along a center crack caving in like an asphalt road during an earth quake. Quickly, I transferred the mangled mess back into the pan and returned it to the oven for another twenty minutes. Later my daughter stated that the loaf tasted good but looked demented.

Now who would have guessed THAT was going to happen?

As a secret agent I am entrusted with many bits of top secret information only to be released on a ‘Need to Know’ basis. Like, why my fourteen year old daughter no longer likes N but thinks that A is really cute. And that her best friend T has a crush on L, M, J and F. I would tell you what name each of these letters represent, but then I would be forced to kill you….

Also I am sworn to secrecy about that unfortunate tuna sandwich incident at school, what my husband really thinks about that guy down the hall with the obnoxious laugh, and who is responsible for the new dent in the back rear fender of the BMW. (that would be me.)

I spend my days solving mysteries that would stump a detective of lesser valor. Like, why is a set of speakers sitting in the hall plugged into an outlet but not attached to any music producing device? Or how come the pens in my room keep disappearing no matter how often I buy new ones?

How about this. Our black lab is sitting at my side, staring up at me and whining. Is she trying to tell me A) one of the kids has fallen down the well, B) our house is being invaded by a swarm of killer cats or C) she wants to go outside but no one will open the door? It could be any one of the three and that’s the challenge.

Perhaps my favorite part of being a secret agent is the romance that comes with it. I am adored and get kissed or hugged by at least four handsome men every single day, and sometimes more. I get called sweetheart, honey and beautiful constantly and I get to wear skimpy sexy clothing… ok, well what I mean is that I gained a little weight and my clothes are all too tight and revealing now, but hey I can see it how I want.

Yes, between trying to deduct what to make for dinner, interrogate a teenager about her evening plans, make sure the new box of cookies doesn’t fall into enemy hands and spy on my son and his new girlfriend in the family room, I have a pretty exciting life. But just remember… it’s a secret - shhh - so don’t tell anyone.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Relationships Are Difficult or Why I’m So Hard To Live With

The subject of marriage came up the other day while I was talking with some women friends of mine. Marriage often comes up in such conversations followed by children’s exploits and of course Oprah. The consensus was that creating a successful marriage was not nearly as easy as the romance novels lead us to believe. It takes committed long term work.

Try putting any two people together for an extended period of time and no matter how good of friends they were to begin with or how compatible they seem to be, problems will occur. It happens. Someone gets hurt, or misunderstood and someone else gets tired or down and bang… you have a blow up.

And it’s not just other people. I get frustrated or angry with myself all the time, so you can imagine how hard it is for my poor husband to put up with me. Now I’m not saying that I kill animals or have gambling issues with the local 7elevan mobsters. But I will admit to having a few eccentricities that occasionally get on my sweethearts nerves.

I hate to clean house. I’ll admit it right here, I really do. I would almost rather do anything than clean house. Now don’t misunderstand me, I do clean… I just do it as little as possible. For instance we have a bathroom that seems to get dirty faster than any other room in the house. When company comes over, we lock the door from the inside so if someone tries to use it, they will think it’s already occupied. I had a friend comment to me the other day that she was really anxious to see the inside of that room. “It must be amazing because every time I come over it’s in use.” … Oh yeah it’s really amazing.

My husband is a very sociable person and I’m kind of a loner. He’s a successful salesman and I love sitting alone with my computer writing creative prose. When we go out, he likes to mix and mingle while I prefer to lurk and leave. From the moment we walk into a party, I’m watching the clock, trying to figure how long I have before I can gracefully slip out unnoticed.

I love chick flicks… the more sappy romance the better and my hubby goes with me, even if he would prefer an action adventure or a historical drama more.

I’m what I call a crap shoot cook (using the gambling definition not the potty definition). I can make the exact same meal, following the exact same recipe and the exact same ingredients twice and never get the same outcome. One meal is perfection and everyone loves it, the next, it flops miserably. I like to think that it adds a sense of adventure to my husband’s life.

Another reason I’m so hard to live with is that I hate to be wrong. I’ll argue for hours that Thomas Jefferson was the first US president rather than admit I made a mistake. “I didn’t actually say he was the first real president,” I say with conviction, “I said he was the first US president to have a name that sounds like two last names.” I did mention my inventive imagination right? Anything to avoid being in error.

I like to stay up late in bed and read, I’ve been known to eat the last piece of cake without offering to share, and I sometimes “accidentally” delete a prescheduled recording on the television to watch something I’m more interested in.

But despite all these idiosyncrasies and quirk’s my husband is still with me. I hope that it’s because of my many redeeming qualities, and not because it would be too much trouble to start over with a different model. But I guess that’s what makes our marriage so good. It’s a relationship in progress and as we work it out togetherour love grows and our hearts unify.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It All Comes Out in the Wash


I know better than to go to the grocery store between four and six on a week day afternoon, because that's when everyone else goes. The food aisles are clogged with carts, shoppers and oblivious small children running in every direction. Turning left from canned goods into the meat and deli aisle is an act of courage. More than once I’ve nearly crashed into another cart. Those darn Fruit Loops end units make visibility impossible.

Even worse than trying to move about the store is the long wait in the checkout line. It seems that everyone has carts filled to overflowing, and patience zapped from the bumper-car-like challenges it took to get them this far.

I try to avoid such shopping situations, but that isn’t always possible so when I find myself at the end of a long line of tired shoppers with a lot of purchases, I grab a magazine and read till it’s my turn. Of course, I always purchase the magazine because who wants to buy a periodical all read and used.

It was during one such shopping trip that I stumbled across an article on the “proper way” to wash clothes. This article went on for four full-colored pages. I was intrigued. How much could there possibly be to washing clothes?

Step one, according to the writer, was sorting. We were to read the labels on each item, then separate them by hand-wash, dry clean, dry clean only and machine wash. I had no idea there were two dry clean options. Apparently the first is just a suggestion, while the second carries jail time.

Next you go through your machine wash clothing and sort it according to the cycle. Normal, permanent press or gentle. I’ve never used any cycle but normal. I figure if a normal cycle is good enough for my jeans, it’s good enough for everything.

At last, the article says, I must separate my dirty clothes by color starting with dark and gradually moving to light, with real true whites reserved in thier own category.

If I was following these instructions, I would find myself with fifteen piles of two or three items of clothing a piece. Please… who has time for that? I have six children who, for every pair of pants I wash, are getting two dirty.

Step two makes such useful suggestion as checking pockets before loading clothes into the washer – where’s the adventure in that? Most of my spending money comes from stuff that comes out with the clean clothes.

The writer says that you are supposed to zip up zippers, button buttons, tie strings, buckle buckles and snap snaps before ever putting them in to be washed. I’m envisioning a sweet tempered homemaker sitting in a rocking chair and watching afternoon soap operas as she works tirelessly preparing her family’s clothes for their exciting laundering experience.

My loading method is to grab a arm-load of clothes in similar colors, stuff them into the machine, toss in some soap and fabric softener and get back up to the kitchen before the soup boiling on the stove over flows.

The next page suggests ways to make your laundry cleaning experience even better. You can add vinegar or table salt to the rinse cycle to keep colors bright and dye from running onto other clothes. This works great if you happen to be walking by the laundry room, with vinegar and salt when the machine hits this point in its cycle. I’m lucky to get back to the laundry room within a few hours of when the wash finishes.

Their suggestion to dry light loads first and then follow up with heavier materials like terry cloth and denim while the drum is still warm sounds good on paper, but in real life, at least for me, it’s just not happening.

I close the magazine with a smile. Maybe someday in my empty nester future I will buy clothes with instructions like “don’t allow water to ever touch this fabric” or “This sweater will do best if it is given its own room”. But right now, my priority is not the brightness of my kid’s colored t-shirts, but how much time I have to spend with the little bodies that I’m washing them for.


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