A Pinterest Project; a study in determination

I am a bit of a Pinterest junky.  I love going on there to look up all the cool crafty projects, cute sayings and home improvement projects.  I must have hundreds of saved pins.  I love looking at everyone’s perfect looking pins of holiday decor, pot roasts and smiling happy families while day dreaming about my rambunctious, chaotic house somehow becoming transformed to a page from Better Homes & Gardens.

I convinced myself that these projects are all completed by average every day human beings with full time jobs and limited budgets and decided to take one on.  I saw an amazing table and a great tutorial on two different blogs.  The first used a custom stencil to personalize an old table and the second had listed every single product the woman purchased to transform her old table.  I thought “What a breeze, there’s even a shopping list. I can do this in a weekend!” and transform my 45 year old crappy looking kitchen table and equally ugly chairs.

I went online to www.stencilsonline.com and created my own personalized stencil for a mere $45, made a shopping list from blog #2 and spent another $50 at Home Depot.  I then proceed to purchase 5 yards of faux leather to recover my seat cushions for another $125 (I had a coupon!).  Ready to go!    So here it is step by step, with photos…..just like a real pinterest blogger.

Here’s the old table.  It is not what anyone would refer to as “fine furniture”.  My mother in law bought it in 1967 and it has huge sentimental value because it was the first piece of furniture they purchased after they came to this country from Cuba.  It’s been well loved (i.e. beat up from here to next month) as you can see by the close up of the green Easter egg dye stain.

I also had a lovely collection of mismatched chairs that go with the table.  Some of the chairs are solid wood (those with white cushions) and some are a weird hybrid of plastic seat back and front legs with wood back legs and frames.

Everything had to be stripped.  According to the two blogs sanding was the way to go but I knew enough about refinishing to know that you never sand veneer or you might take the entire top layer off and ruin the table.  So I planned on stripping the table and sanding the chairs just enough to “rough them up” so the paint would stick.  I wanted to paint the chairs and just the legs of the table off white, but stain the table top a walnut brown and add my lovely new stencil to the top.

So….back to the 2nd blog’s handy list of all the products.  I’m convinced this lady is in either England or Australia or has a lucrative contract with Valspar.  I couldn’t find ANYTHING she listed.  She said she removed old stain and varnish with something called “deglosser”.  The paint guy at home depot looked at me like I had 3 heads when I asked him about it and then handed me this stuff.

Well it worked like a charm.  So great that I thought, “what the heck, I’m putting it on the 4 wooden chairs!”.  BIG MISTAKE.  It was way too hard to scrape those skinny pieces of the chair, especially that middle part of the seat back.  It took me TWO DAYS just to get that crud off of four chairs!  Then I pulled out a palm sander and tried to blast off all of the stripping goop. Here’s my advice.  DON’T DO IT.  My chairs ended up looking like dalmatians in the end.  The cheap half plastic chairs ended up looking A LOT nicer.

Ok, now, two days later everything was stripped.  I needed to start staining and painting.  I bought four cans of ivory spray paint for the table legs and eight chairs.  According to blog #2 she used half a can per chair.  NOPE!  Four cans barely covered the table a two chairs.  Those wooden chairs I stripped instead of sanded soaked up paint like a sponge! When all was said and done I used about TWELVE cans of spray paint.  I went back to Home Depot and bought the entire supply of this paint,  Then I went to another Home Depot in the next town and cleaned them out of their supply of Rust-Oleum Ivory Gloss.  So if you live in my neck of the woods and are itching to paint something ivory gloss….pick another color because it’s all gone.

Another note……don’t do this on a windy day.  It takes forever.  Maybe that’s another reason why it took 12 cans.  Here’s the chairs getting painted.  Noticed how I used my tablecloths as drop cloths because I am so confident I will never need them to cover up an ugly table again:

I realized I didn’t have a drop cloth (i.e table cloth) big enough for this table to extend well past the edges when I flipped it over to protect the top while I paint the legs.  Back to Home Depot for the 4th time….

Finally – now time to finish the top!!!  EXCITING!!!  Can’t wait to use that stencil!!!!

That thing that looks like an iron in this photo is actually a cordless sander.  I know, I know….don’t sand veneer, but I used a super fine finishing sandpaper so I would not be grinding the whole thing down.  It was all cool…..turned out nice and smooth.

Now….according to blog #1 with the stencil, you are suppose to FIRST put the stencil on the bare wood with a dark stain and THEN go over the top with your stain color for the entire table.

WRONG…. or at least wrong somewhere other than Australia or England.  I bought the only dark stain Home Depot carried and when I went to apply it here:

It ran all under the stencil and looked like someone threw up black stain on the middle of the table.  I panicked, screamed and then soaked a rag in mineral spirits and started scrubbing my ever-loving heart out.  Why did blogger #1 lie to me???  Well, she didn’t.  I did not read it correctly.  She said to use something called “glaze” because it’s thicker than regular stain.  She even emphasized the part about NOT using regular stain.

So for my 5th trip back to Home Depot I asked for “glaze” at which the paint lady (it must have been the guy’s day off) had her turn to look at my lovely 3rd head.  There is no such thing as “glaze” at Home Depots outside of Australia.  She recommended staining the table and then putting on my shiny clear coat then applying the stencil.

Ugh – well….ok.

Here’s the stain coat.  Looks nice right??  You can’t even see what was a big black blob in the middle after my stencil trouble.

So, next was a layer of polyurethane. I sprayed it on all the chairs without any catastrophe but decided that I shouldn’t spray the table, but brush it on from a can.  I had the table in the garage, read the directions on the can and started to apply the first coat.  It said to let it dry for 8 hours then apply the next coat.  Well, I can’t exactly leave the garage open all day while I’m sleeping or at work.  There wasn’t near enough ventilation in the garage so THREE DAYS later, that first poly coat was FINALLY dry.  I took those three days to recover the seat cushions.  I really wanted to move on so I completely blew off adding any other additional coats.

See that piece of blue painters tape on the back of the cushion?  I thought I would be really, really smart when I took the cushions off.  I taped the screws on the back of each one.  Well, after moving everything around for 5 days while I had my issues with stripping the chairs and waiting for the table to dry most of them fell off a got lost.  I had to take a 6th trip to Home Depot to get new screws!

Here’s the finished chairs.



I was really happy with the faux leather, but I bought 5 yards which was way too much.  Now have a ton left over and I cannot return it.  I’ll just keep it around for that inevitable day when one of the boys pokes a pen through the cushion.  I’ll be happy to not have to change it out or have an odd chair cushion.

After the debacle with the first attempt at stenciling I was pretty nervous about going over my nicely stained and then polyurethaned table.  There would be no rubbing mineral spirits on the table now.  I centered and taped on the stencil and put a very small amount of paint in a paper bowl.  Moment of truth here:


I left the stencil on overnight and let the paint completely dry.  DON’T DO THAT EITHER.  Go ahead and carefully remove the stencil before it’s completely dry.  Because the paint is latex, the polyurethane was still a little tacky and the stencil is plastic there was some issue with sticking in a few places.  I had to do some touch ups with a very small brush.

Then  TAAAAA DDAAAAAAAHHHH.  Lovely stenciled table!!!

By the way, the bottom line of the stencil is “Maker of Fine Cuban Food” in Spanish.  I wanted to keep the special meaning of the table being the first big purchase.

And here is the entire thing – table and 8 chairs:

It’s not perfect, but hey….good enough for Pinterest and it looks a heck of a lot better than it did before!

So the moral of the story is: Weekend projects take approximately 10 days, $200 budgets should be amped up to $300 and never ever read blogs from Australia.




Poem Interrupted

I subscribe to more magazines than I ever have time to read.  Yesterday, while cleaning the house I looked at the stack of eight issues of various publications and thought….I’m going to read somethingTODAY.

Not to bite off more than I could chew, I figured I would digest a small poem from a literary magazine.  Just 12 lines, how hard could that be?  I could chill and regroup right before my youngest son’s 4:00pm soccer game while I waited for my husband to get out of the shower and the cake I started baking for dinner to finish up.  The cake had 5 minutes left in the oven.   More than enough time to read 12 little lines of poetry.

Ready, Set, Go!


Just Now by W.S. Merwin

In the morning as the storm begins to blow away

the clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to me

that there has been……


“MOM!  MOM!  MOM!!!”


“Is it time to go yet?  I’m going to be late.”

“No, wait for the timer to go off, then we leave.”

*sigh*  …time to start over


Just Now by W.S. Merwin

In the morning as the storm begins to blow away

the clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to me

that there has been something simpler than I could ever believe

simpler than I could have….


“Hey mom, who’s key is this? Is it Abuela’s?  Because she’s not home and I can’t see how she could be gone without her key.”

“Dude, she has another key. That one is mine.”

*sigh* – ok maybe I should just back up a couple of lines


that there has been something simpler than I could ever believe

simpler than I could have begun to find words for

not patient not even waiting no more hidden

than the air…..


“Ok, so Mom, why is it that ducks don’t poop on a turf field like they do on a grass field?  Did you ever wonder that?  I do.”

“Because it’s too hot.” (chimed in by son #3).

*sigh*  where was I??


simpler than I could have begun to find words for

not patient not even waiting no more hidden

than the air itself that became a part of me….


Mom, oh my GOD! I just put the lid on this candle and …..poof (with wispy hand gesture)….it  was so cool.”

*sigh*…..something about patience??


not patient not even waiting no more hidden

than the air itself that became a part of me for a while

with every….


“Oh cool…..the wax is already hardening!!!!”


with every breath and…..


“Um, how do you clean up spilled wax?”


with every breath and remained…..


*hysterical laughing from son #3*

“Oh my God, Kayne West is such an idiot.  Can you believe he scored 106 pts in a charity wheelchair basketball game against a bunch of kids?  He wasn’t even in a wheelchair…….I just love Kanye.”

*sigh*……I hope he really doesn’t love Kanye*


every breath and remained with me unnoticed…..


“Hey!  This idea just came to me…….frozen cake.  Awesome right???”



with every  breath



“Cake’s Done!!  Let’s go, I’m gonna be late!!!”


I concede.

Sometimes You Just Have To Be a Girl

We have been trying to finish the basement for the last 12 years.  It’s been done in stages and we are finally reaching the home stretch.  Everyone wants it done.  No one wants to work.  It always seems like the “perfect” day to work on the basement is when I already made plans to do something else.  Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I hate changing my plans and at the same time I feel horrible guilt sticking to them.

I end up having a conversation in my head that sounds like this:

What if I stayed home and caved into that guilt that I should be helping lay that carpet in the basement?  I could relinquish my own agenda.  After all, going to my ladies’ writing group seems selfish even if it is only once a month.  Right now, following a dream, nourishing a craft or creating art doesn’t seem as practical as putting carpet down on cement while negotiating the arguments of teenage boys.  I should stay.  They need the help.  Who will make lunch?

Nah.  I should go.  I need to grow.  I need to learn.

My creativity needs to be fed.

Still wafting between my decisions I walk downstairs.  “I hate this carpet.”, “I thought we were getting shag.”, “Your son isn’t responding to my texts.”   That basement was teeming with negativity.

What if I stayed?  I’d get sucked in, that’s what!  I would move the pen and paper from my writing group hand and put on the white glove of a diplomat while I explained over and over the wisdom of practical carpet.  I’d calm down an old man at the end of his rope.  I’d make sandwiches.


I’m going.


I need to be fed too.  No way are carpet squares going to trump an opportunity for growth.  I might not have an epiphany, I’ll be late as well but I’ll also be me.  Today l am not mom, not negotiator, not chef, not maid and not home.

Sometimes you just have to be a girl.

Wrapped Up in Due Time

Guys have an internal clock that works on a different gravitational pull than women.  When I request something from any member of my brood, I have had to learn the fine art of mastering these interspecies recognitions of how long things take and what the word “now” means.  Simply saying a phrase like “Hey this garbage can is so full, I can’t fit anything else in it.  Could you take it out right now?” is usually interpreted as “The garbage is full but I’m not gagging from the smell of it, I’ll wait an hour or so.


My husband went out of town for the weekend for work and I wanted to surprise him by painting the bathroom.  I could use some help.  Most projects that involve teenage boys need to have the added interest of getting dirty or getting fed.  Since painting is messy I was hopeful that they might be in favor of it. However, I knew that the idea of “weekend project” was subject to interpretation.

Sons #2 and #5 were immediately up for the challenge so I went to the hardware store, purchased a bucket of paint and some clean rollers and headed back to the house.  It was a Thursday around 2pm.  Pulling out the roll of blue tape I announce that as soon as I had the trim, tile and other items covered it would be time to start painting.  Son #2 has a friend over and realizes that “weekend” has started but he will have to wait for the friend to go home, which is followed by asking if the same friend could spend the night and further encroaches on the weekend.

Now I am down to one assistant in the painting project.  This assistant is the shortest one in the house so I let him know that I will have to squeeze into the tiny bathroom with the ladder and get the areas that are too high for him to reach before he can start because son #5, myself and the ladder cannot fit in a 4×4 ft space.  He is not only game, but is chomping at the bit.  He is constantly peppering me with inquiries as to when he is finally going to be able to paint.  I tell him about 10 minutes.  Approximately 2 minutes later, again I am asked when I will be moving out of the bathroom and handing over the paint brush.  I tell him about 8 minutes.  Three minutes later he asks why I’m taking so long.  I tell him to go to the basement and get a screwdriver.  I don’t need the screwdriver, but it removes him from the bathroom for about five minutes.

By the time he returns with the screwdriver I send him back to the basement for a tarp, which allows me to remove the ladder and place it in the hallway.  We spread out the tarp over the toilet and the tub and he gets to work painting.  His painting technique is slightly different than mine.  It requires holding the roller brush stiff-armed while jumping up and down.  Odd, but miraculously it not only works but burns calories at the same time.  After about 20 minutes of painting blue splotches on the top of the ceiling where the jumping got a little more vertical than expected,  #5 announces he is done and leaves the bathroom.

I finish the first coat of the bathroom and call #2 to come get the ladder and bring it back to the garage.  “I can’t right now, I’ll get it in a bit.” I hear.  “No.” I say, “I really need this out of the way now.” He protests, “But I can’t.”

Really?  What could he possibly be doing that will not allow him the ability to move a ladder.  I go downstairs to the office where he and his friend decided to use an entire roll of scotch tape to tape #2’s hands together and see if he could figure out how to get out of the scotch tape entrapment, Houdini style.

Of course he can’t move the ladder.   And now I need more tape.

About an hour later, unable to sleep over, the friend goes home, the tarp is cleaned up and the weekend project is completed.  Freed from scotch tape bondage, son #2 brings the ladder back down and offers to do any touch-ups on the paint job the next day.  I take him up on the offer.  I hope he realizes that tomorrow has a 24 hour time limit.

Art Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

My blogging days with boys took a much longer hiatus that I anticipated.  I am happy to be lifting my head out of the sea of testosterone and breathing in some much needed reflection on those quirky, funny guys I live with.  Thanks for hanging around!

I am an artistic person.  I am musically inclined and I love to write.  I have a deep appreciation for art, opera, musical theater and botanical arts.  I desperately wanted to pass this affection on to my sons.  Not being very athletic myself, I unreasonably believed I would not be able to relate to their hopes and dreams if they only revolved around a bouncing, thrown or kicked ball.  I love watching sports even if I don’t have an innate ability to participate in them, but what if they asked me questions?  What would I say??  Fortunately, I have boys that enjoy both an artistic side and an athletic inclination.  To my surprise neither of these things has turned out quite the way I thought they would.

While my vision of art might look like a dreamy Monet watercolor or a dramatic aria from Faust, to a teenage boy art is something only they can relate to.  Wallets made of duct tape are art.  Japanese origami folded into the shape of a tank, complete with removable turrets, is also art.  And most recently, white board drawings of their father left in the conference room at work are, indeed, art.

It was one of those days where everyone had to be in four places at once so there was a slight layover at the office my husband and I both share with son #2.  My boys absolutely hate going to our office.  It’s boring.  There are no video games, vending machines or tank origami to occupy their time with so the 5-10 minute wait while we tie up loose ends and grab some paperwork feels like hours.  It should have raised a red flag when son #2 didn’t pipe up a bit when the 10 minute wait became 30 as my husband and I busied ourselves with what we were required to do in order to shuffle him off to the next mission on the family calendar.   It wasn’t until our coworker opened the whiteboard a few days later as she met with a client that we discovered “the art”.



Notice the captions depicting the different qualities of my husband’s physique such as;  “Flawlessly bald head”, “thick eye brows”, and the ever descriptive “fat” with arrows highlighting the correct anatomy.  Not to mention the important conversations he has with clients on a regular basis emphasized as “blah blah blah, finances and stuff.”  As luck would have it, our coworker and her client were amused and even suggested I take a picture of the whiteboard before they talked about “finances and stuff” themselves.

I also run across many other forms of art around my house like attacking marbles.

Or still life photos of lego Star Wars figurines:

And bathroom mirror selfies taken with my phone:

Who says art is lost on young men?  I am constantly surrounded by it.  It just looks slightly different than Monet.


Why carry out you will need free Musically preferences?

If you in any other case find yourself bursting down into that an occupied song only to dance cycle every time your preferred song comes on the air or the body’s Spotify playlist, then Musical. Ly could possibly be a product worth obtaining if free musically likes you’re when you consider firing the body’s efficiency abilities only to assessment to another degree. It’s often amongst the newest ethnic apps right to explode on identity. The words Musical. Ly is all about

Musical. Ly has long been a free mobile app which allows its members to build up only to clarify songs video clips as high as 15 mere seconds long. Members tends to choose a songs clip taken from millions of songs ever made best during the Musical. Ly app or they can use songs off their instrument. Once a song has been selected, members in any other case assessment themselves singing during the clip off their front-facing cameras. Results has long been put on video clips before posting right to make them really stick out. On their ethnic role of elements, Musical. Ly provides many things in keeping and at apps wish to have Instagram. During the menu outlined in the bottom of them app, you’ll see a residence give food to tab that displays songs video clips taken from several other members you follow, a search tab to see what is more popular, a process tab as well as a consumer thought tab. Choosing the body’s songs

Musical. Ly posseses an extremely pertinent library of songs right to recommend for the whole songs video clips. Go through by the use of range of what is more popular, lip syncing classics, comedy songs only to more. You can also utilize the search bar to discover a extremely particular track. Simply because that is hugely convenient, there’s the user chief downside: there is no treatment for select all of which 15-second clip of them track you desire associated with the body’s video. You just possess to utilize yet the clip from which Musical. Ly gives you. Recommended: how to Snapchat and at songs using during the mobile phone

Saving a songs Video

Yet the yellow button in the center of yet the menu has long been the words lets you open up and at saving the body’s initial songs video. You have the option to pick apart a songs track initial, all of which starts using as soon as you hit assessment (so you can lip sync simultaneously) or as an alternative one can catch the body’s video initial only to be in yet the sound simply because has long been or add a track after the it’s been shot. How to Film a Musical. Ly Video while not carrying down yet the Button

Carrying down yet the assessment button carefully by the use of the body’s video can be a pains if you need to be really expressive, only to all of which couple of ways to get an estimated it. The early way you should use will be to be in down yet the assessment button combined with the “X” on the very best carrying corner simultaneously. The next phase that can be done has long been tap yet the five-second timer button located on the appropriate of the body’s bring in, all of which starts a five-second countdown to begin saving. Recommended: ten of the leading Video Streaming apps intended no more than meant for kids

Getting into tournaments only to trouble

Musical. Ly is an extremely ethnic lay, only to all by more likely to yet the search tab, you’ll see a issued competitors at the very top, that you tends to click to see its guideline only to participate if you need. You can also go through during the list of trending hashtags only to use getting in on their fun to correct the amount of hearts you get only to climb your way on their Musical. Ly leaderboard. Installing Duets

Musical. Ly provides a second really good feature which allows you create a duet and at somebody you follow (exactly who follows you back). No more than view a preexisting video of theirs only to tap yet the “. . . ” icon right to pull up a list of choices. Tap “start duet right now!” and you’ll be encouraged right to film the body’s songs video right to the same songs. If you’re played, yet the preview will show a mix of clips between the video only to then one user’s video repaired right to the same songs. There’s much more that can be done and at Musical. Ly, only to a terrific way to figure out has long been all by downloading it only to experiencing it meant for yourself. You may get it meant for free from the two iTunes App wall plug only to Google have done.

Old Technology

Now that school has started again, I will have to grapple with sharing my office after a summer of non competitive desk using.  Now my desk will be littered with text books, papers, folders and calculators.  Laptop time will be fought over, printer ink will run like water and twice weekly trips to the office supply store will commence.

We have a home office with a large desk and one laptop on it.  The computer was issued to me almost 8 years ago through an organization I work with.  I have to give it back when my contracted time with them is done.  Technically it doesn’t belong to anyone.  However, if someone has homework to be done, an email to send, a video to watch or a game to play, this laptop is the one that ends up getting used.  As soon as an individual is sitting in front of the screen and tapping on the keyboard it becomes “my” computer to the one using it and all the items surrounding it are fair game.

I get up very early so I have time to spend on “my” computer.  It’s always interesting to see what background will greet me in the morning.  For a while it was a bright yellow background with a pair of eyes.  It reminded me of those old Ziggy cartoons where you would only see a nose and a pair of cartoon eyes peeking over a perceived wall drawn by a straight line with nothing below it.

This lasted a few weeks, then it was changed to a sloth wearing a NASA space suit.  I’m not aware that sloths have made it to space, or that they are able to smile for the camera and wear multi layer suits with backpacks and several days worth of water.  Needless to say, this highly entertaining background that was on my computer for most of the summer.

Now, I have a white background with several different red figures of a superhero on them.  The first week this appeared there was also a computer generated post it note on the screen:

Mom, this is Robin in his many stages over the years.”

Sure enough, there was The Boy Wonder as a youth, through his tumultuous and rebellious teen years (apparently he gets scarier weapons) and then as a confused vigilantly adult.

I often wonder what will happen in less than 2 years when I finally have to turn this computer in.  Last week the computer was moving so slowly I had to turn it over to our technology department.  It was taking 20 minutes just to turn it on.  I got, what I now know, to be the customary greeting from Gabrielle, the technology department chair:  “Man….this one is really old!”  followed by “Do you know how many viruses you have on this thing???”   The last time she had my computer she worked on it for 3 straight days during which she would call me and give me updates.  This time it was 7 days and my phone never rang.  When I arrived at my board meeting last night, there was my repaired computer, to which Gabrielle’s boss said….”You mean she could actually FIX it???”  Apparently fixing it meant The Boy Wonder had to bite the dust.

I know my days with this machine are numbered.  Is there the equivalent to a dusty box under the bed in a computer?  Because I’m pretty sure this one has everything from Legoland and Buzzy the Knowledge Bug to AP Chemistry papers on it.  Opening up this computer has been similar to opening the box of Christmas ornaments in the beginning of December; you forget what you have in there and relive your own history with each item you pull out of the box.

I supposed it’s time to start looking at something with a bigger memory and a faster processor.  A lighter smaller laptop with modern backgrounds void of cartoon super heros and space exploring marsupials and the viruses that come with them.   A slick new computer that can share information with all the other technology in the house will be nice, but I will miss the nostalgia of my 8 year old Dell laptop.

…..I might even miss Robin, The Boy Wonder.

A Slap In The Face

To paraphrase Mel Brooks:  “Sometimes it’s good to be Queen.”

Nothing has made that more apparent then when I watch my boys interact with their dad.  The greeting my husband gets on a pretty regular basis is not one I’d cialis price appreciate, but among men it is a warm and friendly salutation.  It’s not a hug, a fist bump or even the nonchalant backward jerk of the head.  It’s a slap in the face.

Literally, a slap in the face.


Sitting down for the family meal the other night son #4 says “Heeeeeeey Dad!” and open hand slaps him in the face.  My husband, doesn’t seem bothered by this at all.  Not only is this a perfectly acceptable, he answers #4 with a “Heeeeeeeey.”

Not even 30 seconds later #2, who is 3 years older and about a foot taller, walks up behind his chair and says “Hi Dad, How was work?” as he whacks the back of his shorn head.  “Not bad.”, he says rubbing his glossy dome.  “Awesome”, #2 says as he balls up a fist and plows it into my husband’s right shoulder, after which they smile and laugh.

After our meal is completed the father of my children is engaged in conversation with son #3.  He is asking about his day, soccer practice and his plans for the evening.  This son has a good two inches of height on his dad, so in order to look him in the eye, my husband has to tilt his head up just a bit.  As #3 answers each questions, he playfully (read:painfully) accentuates each and every word with a left slap, then a right slap, left slap, right slap, left slap……..

Hey!!  STOP!!”  my husband finally yells.  “That hurts!”…..then they start laughing.

Why is a human game of whack-a-mole the sign of love among men?  Is a boxing match the ultimate sign of brotherly love?  Will my husband end up with a black eye???

Last week my husband had to go out of town for a few days.  When he walked in the door last night our #4 ran up greeting him with a…..hug…..and said “Awwww, hi Dad, I really missed slapping you!”.

Now that’s love.

Back To Nature

I just had the opportunity to spend just over two weeks on a camping vacation with my 5 boys, my husband and my dog.  Camping at our house is a relative term.  We far from “rough it”.  We have a 15 passenger conversion van that hauls a 33ft travel trailer.  The trailer duplicates all the amenities of our house, only smaller.

My childhood includes fond memories of actual camping.  With a tent, in rain, no showers, bring your own toilet paper.  A couple of these weekend camping trips involved canoes and one included horses and had me ending up in the emergency room.  Coming home on crutches smelling like smoked meat and feeling like you slept on a bed of rocks (because you actually DID sleep on a bed of rocks) was all part of the enrichment of the outdoor experience.  I actually loved it.

About 6 years ago I mentioned how much I enjoyed this to my husband.  Frustrated with the amount of time they spend on computers and video games, I really thought our boys were missing out on the awesome experience of getting back to nature.  I wanted them to go camping.  With us. My husband looked at me, doe eyed, like I just explained quantum physics in Greek and then said “Going without my own bathroom is NOT my idea of a vacation.”. 

Thus enters the RV.

A Recreational Vehicle is the “roughing it” equivalent as a gas grill is to a gourmet kitchen.  Not exactly all the bells and whistles, but damnit, you can still camp like Bobby Flay.  We have air conditioning, a gas stove, hot water, a shower, a toilet, mattresses, and a power converter for the Xbox.   Like most vacations, you get to observe another side of your family that is rarely seen during the hubbub of the regular work week.   Going back to nature brings out certain survival instincts.

My normally ready-to-nap-on-the-couch husband didn’t have a couch to nap on.  We brought zero gravity chairs and he was quite content to spend an hour of his day on the chair with his laptop and then head to the pool for sun and beverages.  Getting frustrated that the campground’s promised wifi signal wasn’t strong enough at our site he told me to go ahead to the pool and he would meet me there after he hits the coffee shop to check his email.  I suggested just going to the front desk and inquiring why there was no signal.  He assures me that he will figure it all out.

A couple of hours later my phone rings at the pool.  He now is sitting at the Laundromat looking for a better signal because “this campground sucks”.  I do my best to reassure him that it’s probably just a tech issue.  In between applications of sunscreen and sips from my adult juice box I revisit my suggestion that maybe he should ask at the front desk where the best place to use his computer would be.

If I have learned nothing else from spending 20 years with a house full of men, it’s this.  Not one of them will ask for directions.  Sure, we have all heard the jokes about how a man will spend hours in a car and never stop and ask for directions, but apparently this also applies for toilet repair, flat tires, large construction projects, cooking without tuna and wifi signal searching.  Asking for help or directions is some sort of instant revocation of the man card.  Men. Must. Figure. It. Out.  I don’t understand this, especially provided that my husband is what I would call a “schmoozer”.  He can convince a kid to give him their candy, a cat to walk away from milk and easily procure some wifi from the front desk.  JUST ASK!

Instead, my darling husband spent an entire day ….and I mean ENTIRE day…..strolling around the campground with a Samsung tablet trying to figure out the best spot for a signal.  Picture the “Can you hear me now” guy; only instead of holding a phone and smiling he’s clicking buttons on a computer and uttering 4 letter words that start with F.  By the time I came back from the pool, completely burnt and ready for my post juice box nap he looked like Jack Nicolson from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Sweating, eyes bulging, falling just short of banging his head against the aluminum siding of the trailer and getting a call from Nurse Ratched, he informs me that the entire campground is devoid of any internet access.  So I ask, “What did they say at the front desk?”.

Head hung low and shoulders slumped in defeat I hear a mumbled “I’m going there now. I just need a sandwich first.”.  One sandwich and 30 minutes later my husband returns triumphant from the front desk.  He informs me and the boys that we will need to rise with the sun the next morning because a “tech guy” is coming to our campsite.  The campground felt so badly about his wifi-less day that they called in the reserves.   The next morning someone from the campground technology staff knocked on our camper door and installed our own personal router.


Aaaahhhh……NOW we’re camping!



The Perfect Mother's Day

I have had more than one Mother’s Day spent trekking from one soccer field to another or schlepping diaper clad babies from parents to in laws.   Now, potty trained and in their teens, my boys tend to want to do their own thing.  This year was probably one of the top Mother’s Day celebrations I have ever had….bar none.  We spent the day at home and it started VERY early.

Son #2 felt the need to wake my husband up at 1am Mother’s Day morning because he had something “very important” that Dad needed to see in the kitchen.   My darling spouse sleeps like the dead….only louder.  Jarring him awake out of his comatose state initiates a lot of snorting noises that sound like a wild boar at the feeding trough and a few four letter words.  “Get up old man….I’m saving your ass.” I hear from the side of the bed.

Needless to say, I am awake.  I realize from the scent rising from downstairs that someone has been baking…….at 1 am.  When my husband returns to bed I ask him if there is a crisis like the dog eating the previous night’s dinner or a small kitchen fire.  There is no emergency.  I am told “You just have a nice kid.”

Son #1 needed to be dropped off at work at 7:30am for a 4 hour shift at his retail job.  I was hoping to use some Mother’s Day guilt that would allow me to stay in bed and have my husband do the driving, however, after the 1am kitchen call, he was back to making those Darth-Vader-meets-sinus-infection sounds.  So I used the patented, spouse approved, flip-and-poke method of “accidentally” waking him up.  He opened one eye and then the snoring got louder.


Admitting defeat, I got out of bed, walked into my bathroom and found this note next to a basket of muffins:


Now…..”Bojak” is not the given name I call my child.  It is some weird moniker he gave himself this past year.  The guys-only a capella group at school needed to make up t-shirts with their names on the back and he wanted to stand out as original so he changed his name to “Bojak”.  I only hope this is not some sort of permanent replacement of his Christian name that I gave about 7 months of thoughtful consideration to.  The bottom right of the notes says “These flowers may or may not have come from downstairs.”.  ….Well, they may.  My 30 year old nephew came by a few days earlier and gave my mother in law some flowers.  And as every mother of boys knows, once an item enters the house it becomes community property and should have no sentimental value to any one individual.  A few flowers were borrowed and placed in the basket.

Yes…it is the thought that counts.  And this one counted big because I loved every quirky, Bojaky, 1am muffin moment of it.

After dropping my son off at work, I headed off to church where I play the piano.  No one else went with me.  As I left the house everyone was scurrying around cleaning, there was a lot of yelling and even a few tears.  My husband was putting A LOT of thought into food shopping for his big culinary performance for my mother and my mother in law who would be joining us for dinner.

Let me precursor this Mother’s Day culinary adventure by explaining that for several days previous, my husband asked me several times how I envisioned my Mother’s Day.  I told him.  Nothing big.  I just want to have my mom and your mom over and you can throw something on the grill.  Our crack dealer meat guys (see previous post) had stopped by the office just a couple of days prior so he was all set with meat but he felt he needed to make a complete show of the side dishes and have a Korean BBQ theme to the meal…..and why not throw in a couple of lobster tails, some tofu and Szechwan hot sauce. This man makes less than 5 meals a year, however, each and every one of them must be a 5 star production that uses each and every pan and pot I own.  Ingredients, regardless of what is already obtained and in the house, usually total $200 and there is lots and lots of butter and a drink with rum in it.

I like butter and rum so it’s all good.

Before my church gig started, I had already received two calls from home looking for the car keys.  By the time I got back he was just returning from the store with all of the ancillary ingredients.  Then he sent me to the store for the 4 things he forgot.  All in all, the meal was fabulous.

We followed dinner with a game of Clue and a very entertaining game of Scattegories; that game where the spin of the dice gives you a letter and you have to come up with a word describing 12 different categories.  I discovered the word “douche bag” is a title, “genocide” can you get fired from a job and “overweight zebras” have stripes (indeed they do).

All in all….it was an absolutely perfect mother’s day.  I enjoyed the final hours listening to the dishwasher make its 3rd run of the day and reminiscing that this year, I wasn’t that mom that caught her toddler at the Mother’s Day brunch licking the carrots and then putting them back on the buffet line nor did I spend it in my car going from 40 miles north of the city to 30 miles south of the city for soccer games 1 hour apart and above all, I wasn’t alone at a spa or drinking bloody marys with the girls.

I spent it with a group of lovely young men (and one old one) and it was perfect.