2010

What an odd year 2010 was. Odd to me at least.

I spent 361 days this year sleeping in the same place as either JewelrySlut or one of the kids. In other words, I only was away from home for work for a total of 4 nights. I can’t quite explain how very odd that was. I peaked in 2008 with probably close to 100 nights (including vacations) away from home. It was strange to be normal, but not at all bad. Though, it did make me sad to watch my status at Marriott drop down to “common schlub” .

The year stated off in crazy fashion. We spent January packing up the basement in anticipation of the construction. I worked in the guest room, which I shared with Miss Moo from January to April. But, the work went smoothly and the end result was worth the hassle of being displaced. We now have a nice basement with a neat and tidy office for me, a guest suite and a lovely bathroom that doesn’t flood.

March brought our annual trip to Emerald Isle. The 4 of us had a great time, but JewelrySlut didn’t see much beach time. She did, however, have the opportunity to change some fantastic diapers while I played in the sand with Shmuppie.

Springtime was rough at school for someone, so we decided that we’d move her to a new year-round school. The change of scenery, coupled with the t new schedule has worked wonders. Our future juvenile delinquent is back on the straight and narrow and doing quite well. Summer school was odd and took some getting used to though. But, it’s all good.

Speaking of summer…

The Boy and I kicked ass in the First Annual Stanley Family Drunken on the Side of a Hill Badminton Tournament.

Poolside shenanigans were kept to a minimum. No Coitus Aquatus and very few random hoodlums invaded our little sanctuary. I can’t say I missed the mayhem.

We had an amazing trip to St John. Shmuppie got to see the island for the first time, go to our favorite places, meet our friends and miss a week of school. Poor JewelrySlut had to play school teacher all week. Copious amounts of rum and a kick ass view helped ease her pain a bit. We also learned what puke looks like when you eat nothing but chocolate cake for breakfast. (It looks horrible and is even more horrible at about mile marker 6.5 on Centerline Road).

The fall brought the onset of movement from Miss Moo. Her commando crawl evolved into a standard crawl which in turn evolved into the drunken stumbling that she exhibits today. Her first full year on Earth seemed to have treated her well. She’s quite a little thing. She’s developed a sense of humor but needs to learn to talk. The constant grunting and yelling has worn thin.

Thanksgiving was its usual madness with many offerings to Bacchus. December flew by with a Big Bob Birthday Bash in Williamsburg and the usual insanity of Christmas.

I’d say that 2010 goes into the books as a success. I’m cautiously eyeballing 2011. We’re hoping for the best but are steeling ourselves for what may be a messy year filled with bouts of unpleasantness. However it goes, I’m sure I’ll find a way to be attacked by bees, run over by an old lady in a scooter or generally have things happen to me that could only happen to me.

See you next year.

On the 2nd day of Christmas…2 children puking

Let’s start this journey on the 24th. Mind you, we’re highlighting only the insane things that happened. Plenty of nice things happened, but there’s no fun in them.

On Friday afternoon, before we went up the road, Shmuppie was outside playing with some neighbors. Sometime later, JewelrySlut discovered her sitting on a curb. It seems the other kids had gone home and, rather than come home, Shmuppie decided to sit on a curb outside in the cold. That’s the Christmas Spirit!

We retrieved her and went up the road for Christmas Eve. At this time, the full story of the night before was revealed to us. After we left, SIL and C went up to the 3rd floor of the house and had a screaming fight. My mother, zonked out, missed this. My brother, Father and D all sat, uncomfortably, in the family room and tried to watch TV over the screaming from upstairs.

When my brother retrieved her to go to bed she announced, loudly, that she wanted a divorce. Good times! The following morning, she announced that she had no idea what happened and didn’t know why my brother was mad. Having told her the story, she asked him if HE wanted a divorce. MERRY CHRITSTMAS! My brother then made her go down the hall to apologize to my father. She had maybe 2 glasses of wine all weekend after that.

So, what did we learn? Not only is she a lousy parent, but she’s also a lousy drunk. Betting is open on how much longer they last.

It’s OK to have a dress fitting when the family is over. It’s apparently not OK to have your drunk neighbor come over. We all disagreed.

My parents’ neighbor is the widow of Dee Murray, Elton John’s drummer. She’s also a raving drunk who’s hooked on a number of prescriptption pills. She often just wanders over to my parents’ house to talk, lean on walls or beg for vodka. My mother, the fool, helps her out by giving her booze. Yes…this woman has no license because of multiple DWI’s, has been to “drunk camp” 3 times in the past 18 months, runs out of pills the day she gets them and is otherwise a mess. My mother gives her drinks. So, apparently she called on the 24th because “I’m shaking” and she needed vodka to tide her over. My mother left a drink on the front porch and told her she could not come inside. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The rest of Christmas Eve passed in usual fashion; it was loud, there was too much food, the kids all scattered to their assorted video games, Shmuppie pouted and sulked.

We went back on the 25th.
This was the plan:
I’d start the prime rib.
We’d open gifts.
We’d yell.
We’d eat.
We’d go home.

We arrived and I started the meat. Shmuppie grabbed a bag of Cheetos and went up to my father’s office and sat on the floor. By herself. I just kept trying, in vain, to get the family to the 1st floor so we could do gifts. My hope was that gifts would keep Shmuppie occupied. HA!

Gift opening goes like this: My mother squawks and hands out gift bags. They’re never tagged and she can’t remember who got what. Meanwhile, my father was nowhere to be found. From my perch in the dining room, I could see him out in the kitchen, holding 2 dogs and whispering to them.

Dad…we’re opening gifts.
Nothing. I did, however, now see him at the kitchen table moving cheese around on a platter.
DAD! GIFTS!
Again…nothing. He was hiding.
Where’s Dad?
He’s hiding from us.

Now, it’s the thought that counts, right? That’s what they say, isn’t it? Well, what happens when you know damn sure that your gifts involved no thought. My mother went back to her old form this year.

I got an ugly shirt that’s a size too large and a horrible book. JewelrySlut got a very small purse. Great gift for a woman who carries a diaper bag instead of a purse! We also got a garlic bulb roaster “Because I knew you’d hate it” and a random, unframed, needlepoint. I held it up and actually asked “Was this for us?”

The kids got clothes. Shmuppie was not happy, tossed her clothes on the floor and walked off. We think that her recent trip to Disney was her Christmas present. That was implied in the card, but never told to her. So, as her 8 year old mind sees it, she got the shaft for Christmas.

We also think that Shmuppie’s trip to Disney was our gift too because there are few other reasons to explain why we got no gifts that we’ll end up keeping. Already, everything we got from them is in the Goodwill pile.

HOORAY!

Snow was forecast for the Triangle, starting on Christmas evening. As the prime rib was finishing, the spinach was being saut‚ed, my father announced, with fury, that we were out of milk. He was going to buy more because “WE NEED MILK”.

Um Dad…nothing is open.
But we need milk.
Who needs milk? You have enough for coffee in the morning.
We need milk.
No…you don’t want to be here. Nothing is open.

He became furious and went somewhere with the dogs. We had to find him to bring him to the table, he criticized the prime rib and then fed the dogs from the table.

All in all, it was a fairly typical Christmas.

JewelrySlut decided that, next year, we’re going to Florida.

Happy Festivus everyone.

And so it begins…

not with a bang but with a drunken episode of bad parenting and Percocet-induced sleep.

On the 23rd, I had decided that all the kids would go to lunch and then off to race go-karts. There’s nothing better than go-karting.

We all met up for lunch. D, the younger child, declared his food to be disgusting. Hooray for a happy holiday lunch.

JewelrySlut decided to head home after lunch, preferring to not risk having Moo lose her mind while watching us race around. She was wise. We arrived at Adventure Landing and bought our tickets. Shmuppie rode with Uncle Brother and the rest of us rode solo karts.

As luck would have it, my kart sucked ass. I was so slow. Not as slow, however, as SIL. For some reason, she just opted to put around at about 3MPH. After the race, she declared that she was going to sit in the car for the rest of the afternoon.

“I don’t like doing stuff like this. I don’t like go-karts and don’t like arcade games.”

Fine then…sit in the car and sulk. The rest of us bought a crapload of tokens and hit the skee-ball and pop-a-shot games. Much fun ensued. We did our 2nd race and, again, I had a crappy car. I was also forced off the track by some kid and hit a wrought-iron fence “Earnhardt Style”. I needed Advil when we got home because I was in a good deal of pain.

We’d been invited over for dinner. My mother was making Wedding Soup apparently. OK…not what we’d had in mind, but we all knew this was coming. What we didn’t know was just how horrid it would be.

We arrived, and immediately, everyone started yelling. It’s really the only way. SIL’s kids looked miserable. D was especially unhappy. He had a look on his face of “Why am I here? Who are these people? Why can’t I be at home?”

Shmuppie got sent to her room because she decided that she wasn’t getting enough attention and needed to start serving herself straight out of a bowl of tomato salad I’d been asked to make…by eating off the serving spoon. She was not happy that the universe wasn’t revolving around her.

All during this, a gaggle of complete strangers were standing in the foyer. I have no clue who they were but my mother had told these people that it was OK to come over right in time for dinner for a dress fitting. So, while the rest of us stood, confused (and in the case of my father, irate) in the kitchen while this gaggle of women squawked away out front.

I have no clue how I ended up in this family. I think I deserved better. I can’t imagine what my poor wife, who’d been sucked to the foyer, thinks at times like this.

Mind you, compared to what followed, this was normal.

We ate…well; anyone from my branch of the family ate. SIL and the kids opted to not eat their soup. OK.

To that point, I’d been good and hadn’t had anything to drink. I was unable to hold off the DT’s anymore and had some wine. So did SIL. Then she had some more. Then, a little more. Then…some more. Was I enabling her? You bet. Was she becoming drunk, and at one point slapped me, rather forcefully? Yup. Did she then clonk me on the head and rub my head, remarking how soft what remains of my hair was? Yup.

Dinner done, we noticed that my mother was gone. You see how much we all care about each other. A family member can literally vanish and it takes time to notice.

Her ass was sore due to a muscle pull she’d suffered some time ago but had refused all medical treatment for. A trip to the doctor that afternoon had apparently brought a bottle of Percocet to her stocking. She was doped up and asleep somewhere.

The rest of us huddled in the kitchen, seeking sanity. It, naturally, was at this point hat SIL decided to put on a parenting display. Sitting down with her sons (and a glass of vodka) she launched into some tirade about cell phones, jobs at Best Buy and class photos.

She’d seen her older son in July and her younger a year prior. Way to go Mom. You see the kids annually, roughly, and this is how you go about handling things.

It got worse.

At this point, I was sitting on a chair rocking. It soothed me.

My poor brother was going out to the garage every 10 minutes. I learned that his bourbon was out there in the freezer. He was downing a fist (a new unit of drink measurement) of bourbon every few minutes. He looked horrified but knew that there was nothing he could do to stop the horror that was taking place at the table. The drunken tirade went on, but now the 18 year old was fighting back, using a combination of logic, sobriety and sass on his mother. My father just shook his head and sipped his drink. There was nothing any of us could do.

I’m fairly certain Shmuppie was using this time to twirl around in circles in the living room. She was struggling to get any attention. Sorry, kid, the 547-car pileup happening at the table was too riveting not to watch.

At about 9:30, I’d had enough and went to get Moo out of her bed. I was time to go home. I got her and brought her downstairs. C, the older child, was sitting in the laundry room, his knees pulled to his chest in a look of utter surrender. D was somewhere, no doubt also beaten into submission. SIL and JewelrySlut were having some sort of heated conversation in the foyer. Well…conversation is not the right word. SIL was sloshing her drink and yelling while JewelrySlut looked on in horror.

JewelrySlut asked C if he wanted to come home with us and get away from the insanity.

He looked up at us with hope and regret in his eyes.

“Yes”
(Slurred) “No you can’t!”
“I’m 18″
(At this moment, I’d taken Moo and had moved into the garage. I had figured that if I got her out of the house and into the car, JewelrySlut and Shmuppie would notice our absence and follow.)
“You’re still in high school and under my control!” (Irony anyone?)
(I have the door to the driveway open and am crossing outside…I can hear them because I didn’t close the door from the garage to the house)
“I don’t even live with you!”
“For this weekend you do and…”

I shut the door to the house and the silence of a winter’s night overtook me. I looked at my groggy daughter and she waved “Bye Bye” to the house. I strapped her into the car and we waited. It took another 2 minutes but it seemed that everyone noticed that we were gone and JewelrySlut and Shmuppie made their way to the car,

We drove home in silence. JewelrySlut and I were in bed by 10:15. I was too tired to go on.

PS: On the way home, my phone chirped. My brother had texted to say that SIL had demanded more wine and he’d told her to maybe slow down. He observed that he was in a lot of trouble as a result.

PPS: My father texted this morning. They’re at the doctor getting my mother a MRI.

PPPS (Is that next??): We have to go over again this afternoon for the Christmas Eve festivities. It should be worse by a factor of at least 10.

I’d give just about anything to be anywhere but here right now. We’ve crossed from “They’re our family and we love them” to “Get me the hell out of here. Who are these people?”

More to come.

PPPPS: Right now, the baby is wearing a pair of JewelrySlut’s underwear on her head. She grabbed them out of the laundry basket.

It gets better

OK…so this one can also be filed under the heading “This is why we can’t have nice things”

I have to take us back to Sunday morning….wait…Saturday night.
Late last week, after a 7 hour delay at RDU, my parents took Shmuppie to Disney. They were to go for a holiday trip. Good…it served one purpose definitely and one in possibility:
1D: It got Shmuppie out of the house
1P: It MAYBE got her Diensy-ed out so we would not have to go next fall.

Sidenote: My mother pulled an ass muscle sometime in the past. She refuses all medical treatment for this. Why? Because that’s how my family works. If it’s not visibly deformed or if you haven’t exploded into a disfiguring rash, you don’t seek medical care. (By the way, my brother and I do NOT prescribe to this theory…hence we are fairies). She spent the weekend in VA in pain and, at one point, after being coerced into taking a powerful muscle relaxer by my father, slammed her hand in a car door because she was so addled and confused.

Happy birthday!
/end sidenote

Back to last weekend:
Saturday night: JewelrySlut and I just want a nice peaceful night. We put Moo to bed and I made a nice dinner. All we wanted was a little wine, a little TV, a little sexy time. I left my phone in the kitchen.

Sunday morning, I staggered downstairs to make coffee and was greeted by a blinking BB and a string of texts from Bob. The theme was “Your mother needs to leave now. Find us a flight”
I call him and he’s waiting to try to get on a 1:50 flight instead of their scheduled 7:30 flight. If he can’t get on that flight, he’s driving home.
“You do know it will take longer to drive, right?”
“At least I’ll be moving”

And there’s another reason why we can’t have nice things. My father would rather subject my mother to a 10 hour car ride to prove that he’s trying to get her home than having her lie down in a hotel room before the flight. OK…I’m not gonna argue. Of course, by doing this, he cut Shmuppie’s trip another day short. What was meant to be a 4-day trip just turned into 2. Great. I figured that this decision cost me $2000. There’s no avoiding next fall’s trip.

Shoot me.

PS: He was also happy to be home and back to his dogs a few hours earlier. Thanks, Dad. You just cut your granddaughter’s trip to Disney in half so you could go home and nuzzle your dogs. Priorities? Bob haz them.

Fast-forward to Monday night (with a stop back in VA)
Brother and SIL were instructed to bring an air mattress to VA so they could give it to my parents so one of the kids could sleep on it.
This is necessary because nobody is allowed to sleep in Shmuppie’s room but Shmuppie. So, they plan to have the boys sleep on separate air mattresses in the sewing room while Shmuppie’s room goes unused.

The phone rings on Monday. It’s my mother.
Do you have a Coleman air bed?
Yes
Do you have a pump?
How the hell else would I inflate it?
They didn’t send the pump to VA.
What does the bed look like? What kind of pump is needed?
Let me get your father.
No…please…

Hello (angry)
What does the opening look like? Ours has a little docking port thingie.
There’s a big hole.
No docking port thing? If there isn’t, our pump won’t work.

*My cell rings…it’s my brother. I hit ignore. The house phone clicks…it’s SIL.

Hold on…they’re calling me from MD.

Brother: IS HE INSANE?
Yes…I’ll call you back

OK…so, it sounds like our pump won’t work.
(Grumbling)…I’ll just come over. (To my mother) I’m going to their house. (To me) Your mother is telling me not to which means I have to.
“SQUAWK I didn’t say that SQUAWK”
But they boys don’t arrive until the morning. You don’t need it now
They arrive tomorrow morning which is precisely why I need it now.
But they don’t arrive until the morning. It’s morning. People sleep at night.
They have a red-eye flight. They’ll be tired.
No they won’t. They’ll start playing video games.
I’m coming.

We call my brother back and look for the air mattress. Much hilarity ensues.

15 minutes later, Bob arrives…dragging a deflated air mattress. We still don’t know why he brought the deflated one (and cute carrying bag) to our house. I hand over my air mattress and send him on his way.

JewelrySlut pours herself another drink.

We try to sit down and watch TV. The texting begins.

Oldest first:
9:26PM: will this be a 20-30 minute process for initial fill?

9:35PM: Um…it takes a little while. Is it filling?

9:33PM (Not sure how my BB went back in time): sorta…it’s off the ground and about 6″ but soft-ish

9:37PM: brett favre is there? it should be done soon

9:35PM: k…thnx

10:02 (Bob again): does the perimeter get any firmness at all

(Mind you…it’s now been 36 minutes since he started filling the air mattress)

10:07PM: it should fill and get firm. i can go up in the AM to check it. its OK for now

10:05PM: I’ll get new batteries in the morning.

/end scene

Observations:
Bob is insane
Bob tried to fill an air mattress with a pump that had dead batteries. It takes 4 D batteries but I only had 3 at the house. I opted to send him with no extras figuring that if I sent 3, I’d be in even more trouble

This is gonna be a hell of a holiday season

This is why we can’t have nice things:

My father turned 60 last week. Several weeks ago, I asked my mother if we should do something for him…something more than a lame dinner in their kitchen. I suggested going somewhere. I suggested her friend’s lake house. It’s apparently a large house right on the lake that borders NC and VA. We’d be there in less than 2 hours and my brother could be there in a little over 3. It seemed logical.

Whoops.

This not being nearly insane enough of an idea, my mother took it to 11. She looked in her timeshare book and saw a place in Williamsburg VA. She booked us a weekend’s worth of condos. OK…to Williamsburg we go.

JewelrySlut and I were in charge of the main meals. We put the MD crew in charge of booze. My mother claimed to be handling snacks. So, after much shopping, many emails and a cloak of secrecy, the birthday arrived. My father was told of our plans (he says he’d suspected something all along) and the wheels were in motion.

They came by to pick up Shmuppie on Friday morning. For some reason, she was going to ride with them. They were supposed to leave here at 11. At 11:40 or so, they arrived. Apparently, nobody informed the MD crew of this time change. They had left and were timing their arrival based on an 11:00AM departure from Raleigh. There was chastising. We finally left at about 12:45. Because I was trying to leave, work woke up on Friday morning and left me running out of the house, loose ends trailing behind me.

But, leave we did. The car was stuffed to the gills. We had food, clothes, BSE (Baby Support Equipment), games, stuff, crap, things. The ride up, while boring, was rather uneventful.

I called when we were a mile from the resort offering to stop at a store to pick up perishable provisions. I could tell that times were tense. Something was going horribly wrong at Registration. I could not determine the nature of the problem, but, lo there was a problem. We parked in the registration lot, saw that everyone was glaring at one another, got the unit number, and sped off. I had no clue where we were going other than “not there”. Shockingly, we found the unit…and now had no keys.

The rest of the convoy arrived. Apparently, there was something wrong with the parking situation, Shmuppie had puked twice on the ride up, nobody was drunk yet and we were just getting started.

Side note: My brother and I discussed this on Saturday. My father, for reasons unknown to us, seems to decide at times that he needs to become irrational and fly off in a fit of rage. It’s almost like he has some sort of Rage-o-Meter that needs to be reset every 12 hours. He yells at someone, throws something, puts on his coat and wanders off. Then, things are OK.

This went on all weekend.

Side note 2: This group is IMPOSSIBLE to move. You cannot get them all moving in the same direction at once. There are too many loose ends to the family to ever be able to develop and execute a plan.
For example:
My mother has the attention span of a dim-witted sea cucumber. Whenever we’re about to leave to do something she invariably decides that she needs to do something inane. Usually, when at home, this includes a ladder or weed pulling. I can’t tell you how many times we were about to go home from a Sunday dinner when she squawks “Oh…I need you to go on the roof and clean that spot I can’t reach on the window that’s 30 feet up in the air and faces the backyard” This ALWAYS leads to a reset of the Rage-o-Meter. The bottom line is that she CANNOT focus enough to put on shoes and leave the house.

My father, as noted, becomes pissed off…irrationally so. He will often just stand in a doorway, in his coat, purposely giving himself heat stroke seemingly to prove a point that it WAS time to leave 4 hours ago and he was going to damn well prove it by standing in a coat and sweating.

My brother doesn’t want to do anything. His plan for any weekend is to sit on a couch, drink bourbon and eat roasted meat. The fact that he had been asked to move his weekend 130 miles to the south was bad enough. Never ask him for a suggestion about what we should do. If it’s not “sit right here and drink bourbon” you won’t get an answer.

SIL: She’s still new so we could forgive her. We won’t. She has 2 major flaws: Minutiae and a lack of immunity to my mother.
Minutiae: She needs details about everything. But, they’re never useful details. She gets bogged down in the details that not even I could care about. This causes a delay. She’s also always picking out things to wear based on where we’re going. In the end, it’s always the same outfit anyway: hooded sweatshirt.
Lack of immunity: Guess who’s the first one to grab that ladder or garden trowel? She permits herself to get involved in whatever inane task has been suggested.

JewelrySlut: All she wants to do is drink. She never cares what we do and usually just wants it to be over with so she can go hide in a wineglass. She’s saddled with 3 children and would be so much happier were they all in the care of a sitter.

Shmuppie: The child can go all day without eating or crapping, but tell her that we’re about to leave and, suddenly she’s famished and ready to burst. Trips are delayed because Grammy decided that what the child needs to eat is not an apple but a tray of homemade macaroni and cheese. “It only takes 35 minutes to bake”, comes the reply from the kitchen; the voice shrill enough to curl a parrot’s toes.

(Did I mention that my father is still in his coat and is sweating?)

Moo: She’s 16 months old. Therefore, she has a schedule of feeding and sleeping that should NOT be trifled with. But, this always happens and she ends up screaming.

And, lastly, me: I like to think of myself as the Expedition Leader. In reality, I’m a jackass in a pith helmet leading the family to certain doom. I always have plans…plans that are never carried out properly. For some reason, I still hold us all up to some familial ideal that we will never achieve. For this reason, I say things like “Let’s all go somewhere for the weekend” or “It’s not so bad, we can all manage to get there on time”. I’m a fool. I usually just end up leaving and going to the car. I sit there and mutter to myself that the rest of them are all jerks and don’t deserve the planning I do. Usually after an hour of this, I head back inside and find my father still in his coat, my brother on the couch, Shmuppie eating (while sitting on the toilet), my mother holding a paint roller, SIL holding up 2 nearly identical hooded sweatshirts because she can’t decide which one to wear, Moo hanging from a ceiling fan and JewelrySlut weeping.

I think this is where I’m supposed to turn to the camera and say “I know they all make me crazy, but they’re family and I love them all”.

Supposed to.