I really need to start taking notes.

I’m sitting here as stumped as can be. I know there have been plenty of amusing things that have happened in the past few months, but, for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one. They’ have all more or less blended into the general wackiness that is life.

Not that I had anything planned, but my Friday evening just took a turn for the surreal. Shmuppie’s school, it seems, is having a dance on Friday. If your kid goes, you, as a parent, have to go. That should be fun. I get to go to school from 6-8 (prime time to start getting my drank on) and watch a group of kids pretend to dance. The school is K-5, so I can’t imagine what I’m going to see.

“Who’s going to the dance from your class?”
“People are”
“Which ones?”
“Some people”
“We’d like you to tell us”
“Well…some of the kids are going with dates. Isn’t that crazy? Dates in the 3rd grade!”
“It’s something alright…so who’s going”
“Ethnic Name 1 and Ethnic Name 2 are going and so is Surprisingly-normal named Caucasian boy and Strangely-spelled name Caucasian girl”

I’ve given up any pretense of trying to remember the names of these kids. These days, even the white ones have strange names. Parents no longer can spell. That’s what I’m convinced of. There’s no other rational explanation to name your kid something like Kei’l'a…unless you’re Hawaiian or something…and these kids aren’t Hawaiian.

Anyhoo…poor Shmuppie. She gets shit from the girls in her class. It’s better than the past few years where she had no friends because her classmates had been trained to dislike little white girls. Now, she’s having trouble making friends because she doesn’t aspire to be a prostitute. The girls in her class come to school carrying makeup and spend time in the bathroom applying it. It’s all we can do to get Shmuppie to brush her hair in the morning. She gets shit because she “dresses like a boy”. Well, we’re not putting her in anything remotely girly when she spends recess playing tackle football. Of course, the boys get mad at her when she plays football because she’s better than they are. Poor kid’s in a no-win situation. She’s a better athlete than the boys and neither group likes her as a result.

Back to the dance…it’s gonna be awful. What the hell do I do with myself for 2 hours? There will be no booze and no JewelrySlut to be catty with. I’ve learned that most, if not all, other parents are awful. I’m also 100% certain they think the same of me. It’s not like I’m rushing out to engage any of them in conversation, so I don’t exactly put out an aura of friendliness. Then again, any conversation with a local goes like this:

“What church do you go to?”
“That Obama. He’s not even born here you know!”
“Which child id yours? Oh…Shmuppie.”

I don’t want to talk religion or politics. I don’t want to hear about how your kid is just the best kid ever. This track, inevitably, leads to comparisons. “When did Shmuppie do this or that? What books does she read?” Can’t we just discuss things that amuse me? Things like making fun of fat people, making fun of locals, making fun of so-called Christians, wine, beer, rum, The Virgin Islands. No…we’ve got to talk about church and Sarah Palin.

Fuck and No.

I tend to make myself look busy when in groups. I fiddle with my Blackberry…never really doing anything (mostly because I’m too dumb to know how), but it makes me look busy and important. All fall, I took Shmuppie to soccer practice. I found it worked best if I sat in my seat and read the New York Times Magazine. That’s a good conversation repellent.

“Ooh…look at him…he must like the gays. Let’s stay away from him.”

Ugh…such is the tortured life of a semi-alcoholic snob.

Where was I? Oh yes…the dance. So, I’m not going to try to embarrass Shmuppie too much and I don’t want to talk to the other parents. Maybe I’ll find someone who looks to be suffering from the DT’s and sidle up to them to discuss where to get the cheapest wine. Then, maybe, we can make fun of other people. That would be nice. But, let’s be honest…who would want to talk to me.

We also have the problem of what Shmuppie will wear. Her wardrobe fits into 2 categories; clothes my mother buys that she only wears when they go on vacation and clothes she can run around in. When asked what she planned to wear to the dance, she replied “Jeans and a t-shirt?” Oh boy…we have to do this all over again in 7 years, don’t we?

Someone get me a drink…and an idea for tomorrow.

Puddles puddles everywhere

Let’s go back to instituting an allowance.

Here’s how it works: you help out around dinner time; set the table, bring food to the table, help clear the table, put leftovers in the fridge, fill the dishwasher, get cleaned up after Moo…you’ll earn some money.

See, dinner is a 9-ring circus here. At say time after about 5:00, Moo starts losing her mind. When she does so, she needs to be fed. Invariably, she doesn’t want whatever she’s being fed. This results in a lot of yelling. JewelrySlut and I figured that we needed an extra set of hands to do anything constructive.

Here’s the payment plan: She’ll get paid $.50 per night. She can earn up to $2.50 per week, but must earn a minimum of $1.50 to get paid. So, from Sunday through Thursday, she’s got 5 chances to earn her keep.

Fast forward to tonight’s dinner.

Moo’s in her chair not eating her dinner. It’s mostly a leftover and side dishes kind of night. I take out some leftover chicken breasts and assorted lovely condiments to go with it. I’m cooking rice and roasted vegetables and a simple red pepper/udon noodle stir fry.

“Shmuppie! Come take the food to the table”
“Wha?” (Mind you, her heads buried in her DS. Just 5 minutes earlier, she’d heard me say something to JewelrySlut that had nothing to do with her, but wasn’t a direct order. The child has bat hearing…selective bat hearing)
“Come. Take. The. Food. To. The. Table!”

We eat…Moo yells and tries to grab at anything that’s not nailed down. She wants chicken, rice, noodles, meatballs, pasta, you name it. She wants it and is prepared to yell for it.

We’re done…time to clear the table. Shmuppie gets up and brings stuff into the kitchen. She then opens the fridge and proceeds to stand in front of it.

“What are you doing?”
“I can’t figure out where to put things”
“If you can’t find a place, put them on the counter”
She walks clear across the kitchen (not that it’s very big…it’s the principle of not sing the counter directly opposite it) and puts the stuff down
“Can you leave the stuff closer to the fridge?”
She then goes back to the fridge, opens it, stares a while and then starts putting stuff away…the same stuff that, 12 seconds earlier, would not fit.
“What are you doing?”
“I don’t know”
“Stop. Put the food down…as in right there on the floor. Just put it down and walk away. No allowance earned tonight”

Some time passes…JewelrySlut and I clear the table and wash the dishes. Moo had completed a massive shit (I was lucky enough to catch it) and we have her in her pen.

“Shmuppie…go upstairs and take a shower. This way, we can watch Hell’s Kitchen before you go to bed”

“OK”

(Time passes)

JewelrySlut and I gather the baby to go upstairs.

Here’s my hope:
I’ll come upstairs and find Shmuppie in the shower. She’ll be moving things in the right direction.

When I get to the top of the stairs, this is what I hope to see (in order)
1: Bathroom door closed. I can hear both the fan and shower going
2: Bathroom door open, but fan and shower are on
3: Bathroom door closed and shower on, but fan is off
4: Bathroom door open, fan off, shower running

I got #5. I didn’t even know #5 existed until I got upstairs and turned towards the bathroom. Right before my eyes is a soapy naked 8 year old. She appears to be singing.

5: Door open, fan off, shower on, shower curtain open, lake on bathroom floor.

“What are you doing?”
(Startled child) “Wha?”
“What the hell are you doing? Why is the curtain open?”
“I forgot”
“You forgot? YOU FORGOT?!? You owe me $2.00 now”

JewelrySlut gets one look at Lake Bathroom and starts weeping.

(Shower finished)

“Do you know why, in our country, we use shower curtains”
“To keep water off the floor?”
“Yes…to keep water off the floor. Didn’t you notice that it was open and that you could see the hallway and not just the inside of the shower curtain?”
“No”

No…I’m often at a loss for words. Tonight was another of those nights.

And, it’s only Monday. I learned today that there’s a school dance on Friday night and any child who attends needs to being a parent to help chaperone. They’re not going to have liquor there, are they?

Sand anyone?

We went to FLA a few weeks ago to see JewelrySlut’s father. He’s doing progressively worse. I’d love to write about what his saint of a wife is going through and how it’s impacting us and the greater family dynamic, but you don’t come here for feelings and shit, do you? No. You come here for stories about shit.

The plan was to leave here on a Wednesday afternoon, drive to Savannah, stay the night and finish the drive in the morning. Savannah’s just about half way to their house and the hotel complex we’ve chosen has everything we need.

We left a few minutes ahead of schedule and were streaking across the highway in no time. This was Moo’s first major car trip and we all had doubts. She’s not a great passenger. Her sister, on the other hand, when not vomiting on the sides of Caribbean mountains, is a great passenger. She’s more than content to play her DS, read, listen to music, take pictures of the back of my head, and generally be well-behaved. Her younger sister likes to yell.

Stupid people that we are, we had to stop at South of the Border. We’re sorry…we can’t help it. The plan was to push on from there to a little hole in the wall along 95 called Santee, SC. My estimates had us arriving between 6:30 and 7:00. We chose Santee because it has a Cracker Barrel. While Cracker Barrel is no Michelin-starred restaurant, it offers what we need; quick service, clean bathrooms and consistent food.

That is…with the exception of Santee.

What a mess. The place was dirty, our waitress was awful and the food was bad. And, no top of everything else, we asked to be seated in the non-smoking section and they sat us right on the edge. This gave JewelrySlut an instant headache. Did I also mention that Moo was yelling? We managed to feed her something, but she mostly threw food on the floor.

We ate and, rather unhappily, got back in the car. Off we went…back onto 95. Shmuppie was watching a movie on her DVD player, and for once, Moo was quiet.

“At the next exit, we need to stop”
“What? You’re kidding me. We have an hour to go until we reach Savannah. What the hell?”
“Stop. The. Car”

Luckily, there was an exit…and, as luck would have it, a Cracker Barrel. JewelrySlut decided to make the poor people in Walterboro pay for the sins of Santee’s kitchen. We made it in the nick of time. If there hadn’t been an exit, she had planned to either hang her ass out the window at 80MPH or go alongside the road. Hell…we had plenty of baby wipes in the car. Cleanup would have been a breeze… Thanks Cracker Barrel.

The night in Savannah was mostly uneventful.

The drive the following morning, while annoying as all getout, was also uneventful. We did have one acrobatic diaper change in a Hardees’s parking lot in Bumfuck FL, but that was it.

(This is where I skip the part about me having to work while in FLA, my father in-law’s deteriorating health and the 60lbs of rotting food we pulled out of the fridge)

On Saturday, we needed to get out of the house. A few weeks back, anticipating this, I’d gone looking for a beach to go to. The local beach in Crystal River more or less sucks. It’s a protected gulf-side beach so the ocean is more like a lake than anything else. It’s shallow, flat, mushy-bottomed and has odd plant life floating in it. I don’t care much for it.

I found a little speck on the map called Pine Island Beach. It would be about 45 minutes away and looked nice enough. So, off we went. We piled into the car and headed south.

I hadn’t done my full due diligence on the beach…or the weather. I’d forgotten what happens to Florida during the month of September the love bugs come out to play. The little shits are everywhere.

Well, we arrived at a cute little beach and were instantly set upon by 47 billion bugs. Also, Moo decided to freak the hell out. She’d missed her morning nap because we’d been stupidly convinced she’d sleep in the car. WRONG!

Shmuppie and I ventured out into the muck and found a family who was hunting for blue crabs. Shmuppie had a good time trying to catch crabs. Al the while JewelrySlut and Moo were back at the beach fending off bugs. Moo was none too happy. I went back after a while to see how things were going. Moo was in a better mood, mostly because she’d decided to eat the beach. Fistful after fistful of sand was shoveled into her mouth. We couldn’t contain her and keep the bugs off of us. It was A: have bugs rape every hole in your body or B” have the child eat sand. We ended up being successful at neither.

We gave up a little while later and grabbed lunch. Then, we went home while Moo barked at us from the back seat.

Sometime later, we smelled a familiar smell. Moo had pooped.

Ever want to know what happens to the digestive tract of a baby who’s been eating sand? Trust me, you don’t.

From her, a foul-smelling pile of gritty shit had emerged. Couple this with Grandma’s odd decision to buy Activia yogurt, and we had ourselves a 4-alarm fecal disaster on our hands.

Gritty Activia shit is like nothing else on Earth. It clings to everything (especially the hands of a baby who for reasons unknown does NOT enjoy being changed and uses that opportunity to roll about on whatever surface she’s being changed on) around you and is nearly impossible to clean. It was not fun. We also knew that this was setting up for a bad ride home.

So, Sunday rolled around and we continued to rue the beach trip. The plan was to leave FLA between 2-3 and drive straight. That would get us home at around 1:00 AM (With a dinner stop).

We managed to leave at 2 and JewelrySlut took the wheel. I don’t normally let her drive, but I was going to take the late leg of the trip and was now free to radio surf and get football updates on my BB.

The plan was to get back to Savannah and visit…you guessed it…the Cracker Barrel at that exit. Why tempt fate again? Because along 95, your options at nearly every exit are McDonald’s, Burger King, locally-owned scary place and Cracker Barrel. As much as I hate chain places, at times, they’re your safest bet. I don’t know about you, but as I’m somewhere in northern GA/southern SC a Chinese buffet does not appeal to me. No person in their right mind made the journey from China to be slinging food along the side of 95 in the American South.

We arrived at the restaurant with a familiar stench wafting out of the backseat. Oh shit…quite literally.

We chose to redneck it and parked in a secluded section of the lot. We found some grass and set up a changing station. There, along the side of a road, in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel in Savannas GA, we changed an epic diaper. It was awful. Moo had crapped all through her clothes. So, not only did we have to wrestle with her to get her cleaned up, but we also had to surgically extract her clothes and get her dressed.

JewelrySlut barely touched her dinner. She was too afraid to eat. I’ll add that the bathrooms were appalling (Faithful readers know where this is going).

Back in the car, Shmuppie had a movie on and we bit the bullet and squirted a few drops of child’s Benadryl in Moo’s mouth.

Don’t look at us that way. Don’t do it. You either have or will do the same someday. We just needed her quiet for the 5-hour run home. I was not going to be able to deal with 5 hours of yelling and not drive the car into a bridge abutment.

The ride wasn’t bad…mostly quiet. Until, of course, we hit the NC state line.

Now, I enjoy my GPS. Annette gives good directions but she also gives me an estimated time of arrival. There’s no better feeling than watching those minutes tick downward as you drive along “I’m winning!” I exclaim to nobody in particular. Well, between Savannah and South of the Border, I’d shaved like 45 minutes off the trip. I was estimated to make it home by midnight. SC line to home should take 1:37 – 1:42 depending on how many lights I hit in Raleigh. I was smokin’.

BAM…Rain. And not any nice rain, a Biblical flood unleashed itself on the lower half of the state. What did our fine Tar H ell drivers do? Well, they, as expected, started crashing into each other. Every 5 miles or so, there was another impressive wreck. Card in ditches, cars on top of cars, pieces of cars everywhere. Between the debris and the rain, I was forced, at times, to slow down to 50 or so. I watched in horror as the ETA crept upward. I was powerless to stop it. I was Ok driving in the rain…not happy, but OK with it. The people around me thought his was a perfect time to slow down to 25 or so. Folks, 25 on an interstate is never a good idea. If you’re that afraid, get the fuck off the road.

We made it home at about 12:08 and changed gritty mcshittypants once again and collapsed into bed. We’d survived a much-needed visit to FLA (Perhaps the last time we all visit before the funeral) and were ready to tackle another week of at-home madness.

PS: After my letter was sent to Cracker Barrel, I got a Golden Ticket entitling me to a meal for 2…on the house. Who’s sexy?

I am.

I used to write, didnt I?

Among the many things David Sedaris said last weekend at his little read and greet in Raleigh was that if you want to write, you need to write…every day.

Fuck me.

The world’s worst blogger is now going to make another half-assed attempt at keeping this thing up to date. I need to get over the fact that I don’t need to pound out 2000 words per day; it’s just impossible for me. It’s not for a lack of stories. It’s an appalling lack of typing skills.

In any event.

(Checks site…gets distracted and harvests little Facebook island)

Holy Crap. August 11? That’s the last time I wrote anything. I do suck. If anyone bothers to keep coming back here to check for posts, I applaud your tenacity while quietly wondering about your sanity.

So, it’s been 2+ months. What’s happened?

Shmuppie was off from school for a while last month and now she’s back at school. The track in/track out thing is still a little odd, but we’ll get used to it.

Moo (Name change) is almost walking. It took her a while to get mobile, but she seems to enjoy crawling. She also finally left the ranks of the toothless and grew her some front teeth. I suppose it was bound to happen one day, but we maybe liked her more with teeth. I guess it meant she was still a little baby. Instead, now we have a monster who motors around the house on her hands and knees, attempting to devour everything in her path. She’s also quite loud. It’s rather unnerving at times when she starts yelling. This happens a lot at meal time. She’ll sit in her chair and positively holler at you to do something; anything to ease her apparent suffering.

“How about more pasta?”
“MWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”
“OK…some fruit?”
“MWAAAAAAAAAAAA”

A few weeks back, having grown very tired of the yelling, I flung a piece of a chicken thigh at her. I just threw it at her and hit her squarely in the face. She was stunned for a moment, but then picked it up, ate it and then yelled for more.

I’ve also threatened her with my carving knife. Nothing seems to work.

As for the adults, I’ve been busy with work. I think I’ll use that as my excuse for not writing. As for JewelrySlut, she admitted last night that I could forget all she’d said about “If I were younger, I’d want a third one”. Moo has worn her down. It’s funny…we never had the chance to “raise” Shmuppie. She was something we dropped into the care of others from 7:30 – 4:30 5 days a week. We never went through the “yelling at meal time” phase of the game. I think Shmuppie was just too tired by the time dinner rolled around to put up the fight that her sister does.

But, all in all, life is good. It could be worse. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll explain how.

When I doubt…post pictures

It’s strawberry season at the Farmer’s Market. they’re tasty but pricey. We usually just graze on the samples. When my parents visited us in 2007, we bought a flat of them. My father then ate most of the flat and was so very sick. Naturally, we laughed at him

Recently, we were feeding Chicken her dinner. It usually consists of 3 cubes of vegetable, 3 cubes of fruit, some yogurt and cookies. On this night, she demanded more food. I gave her a rib bone to gnaw on. she was thrilled

Last week, I had to visit a client site in Greensboro where we’re installing a bunch of devices.

And, yesterday was Shmuppie’s 8th birthday. I am not sure how that happened. I guess this is what I get for not having been home for roughly 4 1/2 of those years. You look up and you have an 8 year old. For any number of reasons, I’m happy not to be traveling any more. It’s funny how quickly a very strange way of life can become normal. Returning to a normal way of life is better. It’s nice to sit down to dinner with the family. It’s nice to watch TV with JewelrySlut. I couldn’t have gotten to the job I’m in now with out that travel, but let’s hope it is over for now. Of course, I now have NOTHING to write about.

Anyway…

She got a Razor Scooter

She also got a badminton (Really spell checker…there’s an “n” in there? Who knew?) set and a camera from us.

Otherwise, it’s Spring. I need to go buy JewelrySlut her Mother’s Day gift. She should enjoy it.

We’re trying again to grow things in our little yard. This year, I’ve annexed some land outside the fence. I’m waiting for someone to bitch about it. Maybe I’ll take pictures of it and post them as another lame-ass entry.