Friday, October 19, 2012

A Toddler Food Diary

Baby Lawns is going to be two next week and, well, boy is she ever two already. Toddlers are weird. I don't even know where to start on that one. It seems like the essence of being two is to act like you want something more than life itself, to want it to the point of hysteria and then, when you finally get it, not want it at all, which causes another fit of hysteria. You'd think I'd have this down by now. I mean, I did work in a Boca country club for four years. You'd think I'd be a pro at dealing with tantrums and unreasonable requests, but no. My kid is wearing me down, people.

Toddlers are particularly wacko when it comes to their eating habits. There's no rhyme or reason. I throw up my hands. I can't figure it out, and I've found that the ups and downs of my self esteem are inextricably tied to what and how my child eats. I've made a food diary to demonstrate.

Monday - Curry! My child eats thai curry! With TOFU! I am super mom. I'm going to win an award. I have raised a child that eats curried tofu! The other moms in playgroup are going to be so jealous. Parenting WIN!

Tuesday - What do you mean you don't like thai curry? You LOVED thai tofu curry yesterday! You don't like peanut butter either? You eat peanut butter almost every day. How do you all of a sudden not like it? But yet, egg salad (gross) that my mom makes? That's the most delicious thing you've ever eaten. Sigh.

Wednesday - If a toddler eats nothing but goldfish crackers for a solid 24 hours is that ok? Parenting fail. I think I heard somewhere that kids who eat nothing but goldfish crackers grow up to steal cars and it will be all my fault because I bought them. This would have never happened if I were french. I'm pretty sure all the little french kids are eating beetroot vinaigrette right now and not poissons d'or. I should get that book about french kids eating beets.

Thursday - YAY! She's eating a veggie burger. I have a feeling that the mom in playgroup who dehydrates her own organically grown strawberries is still judging me though.

Friday - Baby Lawns, please eat corn. I'm pretty sure you like corn. No, you cannot have mommy's coffee. No, I will not pour ketchup into your hand so you can lick it off. No, we don't have any pizza. Ok, so peas. You will eat peas because you saw the cat eating them. I'll take what I can get. Let me go put a pot of peas on the stove.

Saturday - Ok, what child won't eat a flippin' piece of breaded chicken cutlet but will stuff handfuls of CAT FOOD into her mouth? Maybe I should look into parenting classes. Is this happening because I let her watch Team Umizoomi?

Sunday - Ok, maybe I'm a good mother after all. Caprese? Bread dipped in balsamic vinegar, truffled mushroom risotto and black olives? My daughter has such an advanced palate. I bet she can get into Harvard with a palate like this. Hey everyone! My daughter eats black olives. Does YOUR two year old eat black olives? I didn't think so. I feel so delightfully smug.

Monday - So we're back to the goldfish thing again?
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Me and the Presidential Debate

This is what's going to happen to me today:

Right Now - OOH, I'm so excited for the debate tonight! I'm going to make popcorn and a root beer and I'm going to watch it! Yeah!

9:00 Tonight - Yay! Debate's coming on! Popcorn's made! WooHoo!
  
9:05 - Hmm. Obama and Romney are both kind of uniquely attractive. Who is that woman? Why is she wearing that? What are they talking about?

9:06 - I think I made the popcorn too salty. What did he just say? I have no idea what that means. Wonder what my friends are saying about this on facebook.

9:06 and 30 seconds - Why is no one translating this on facebook for me?

9:07 - I think there's a raccoon in the trash outside.

9:08 - Whose American Flag pin is bigger?

(I will then spend the next five minutes writing an SNL skit in my head in which they show the debate and each time they switch back and forth between the candidates their American flag pins will get bigger and bigger in an attempt to outdo one another until they both have giant American flag necklaces on like those clocks the rappers wore in the 80s.)

9:14 - I wonder if I have any new Modern Family episodes on the DVR.  

9:16 - Maybe I won't vote at all.

9:17 - Screw this debate. I'm going to pin some shit.

This is what happens every single time. Maybe I have ADD. Am I the only person not riveted to every word these men utter?
Sunday, October 14, 2012

Massive Nasty-Assery

Every stinking time I think I've seen it all when it comes to disgusting food, something comes along to top it. This weekend has been a nasty assed Bacchanalia on my Pinterest and facebook. It all started with my sister finding this recipe for beef tips cooked in a crockpot with onion soup mix, cream of mushroom soup, canned mushrooms and...Sprite. Yes, that's not a typo. Sprite. I guess you could serve this with the biscuits made from Bisquick and Sprite. You know, because Sprite is an ingredient now I suppose and not a drink. Dear Sprite, you're a soda. Stay out of our food. Know your place, Sprite.

Well, someone saw this and said they found a recipe for a lemon chicken flavored with lemon Jell-O powder and then another friend of mine said she saw that lemon Jell-O chicken and raised my other friend Doritos Consomme. As in soup made out of Doritos. Cool Ranch stock if you will. It's a YouTube video. Try to watch it without gagging. I dare you. This crazy woman boils a bag of doritos, strains it, adds gelatin, freezes it, then thaws it out over some cheesecloth and eats the resulting liquid that drips out. I shit you not.

This did not satisfy my curiosity about the lemon Jell-O chicken however and so I decided to look that shit up, finding instead a recipe for something called Yummy Salad, which may be the most Nasty Assed recipe of all time. I know I say that every time, but still. I almost wish someone would make it and post pictures of it so we could see what this actually looks like. I mean, Halloween is coming up and all.

Behold
YUMMY SALAD 
1 can chicken noodle soup (undiluted)
1 (8 oz.) Philadelphia cheese
1 (3 oz.) pkg. lemon Jello
1/3 c. boiling water
1/2 c. mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
1 can shrimp, drained
1 c. combined of green onion, celery, green pepper and green stuffed olives
Heat: 1 can chicken noodle soup (undiluted). Add: 1 (8 ounce) cream cheese. Add: Package lemon Jello dissolved in 1/3 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup mayonnaise and cool. Add: 1 cup shrimp and 1 cup of cut up onion, celery, green pepper and sliced olives. Pour in 4 x 4 inch pan and chill until firm.
Thursday, October 11, 2012

Seven Years of Solitude

In two days my blog will be seven. It would be in first grade if it were a kid. I started this blog before I even got married, before I started grad school. I was just a girl who worked at a country club who wanted to share the unbelievably ridiculous and funny and disturbing scenes she witnessed at work. And I did that, and for a very short time I had over two thousand visitors a day and lots of people linking to me and lots of people interested in what I was writing and people on other sites talking about what I was writing and it was mind blowing and pretty great and a little scary.

I got caught blogging at work. I don't know the real details and I know some of the people involved deliberately lied to me. What I think happened is that a co-worker, whom I was friends with, got mad at me because I said I couldn't bake her wedding cake. I didn't want to mess it up and ruin her wedding. She ended up avoiding me, never telling me she was mad and inexplicably not inviting me, yet inviting my sister to her wedding. I had introduced her to my sister because they lived in the same complex back then. I never understood this girl's anger. It seemed weird, immature, bratty and undeserved. It wasn't like I canceled at the last minute. She asked if I could do it and I politely declined and explained why. I am not a professional baker or cake decorator. My cakes are ugly and taste good. I was in grad school. I had just had radiation. I didn't want the responsibility. A friend would have understood, I think.

I believe that this girl, who knew about my blog, passed it on to some other people in her department. I think people couldn't keep secrets. Later someone told me that what happened was that the new IT guy was tracking sites visited and saw that someone in their department was reading my blog at work and that he read it and passed it on the to club's General Manager, who passed it on to the Club's board who passed it on to the HOA's board who passed it on to the club's law firm. I don't know if any of this is true.

My husband had appendicitis and I was out with him for a long weekend. During that time I received an anonymous comment on my blog saying that I had better watch out before I inadvertently offend a co-worker and that the club's law firm (with address listed) was watching every move I made and that I had better be careful. I don't know if this was a bluff or not, but it scared the hell out of me because I didn't want to get sued. I later learned there was never really a case because I changed names, fictionalized, never harmed anyone through my writing and had zero malicious intent, nor did I ever make any money. But the idea of a poor girl with nothing being sued by a bunch of rich white people with everything, petrified me and I took my posts about Wide Lawns Country Club down. Don't worry I saved them.

Even still, my employers did everything in their power to make me miserable and I needed a change anyway. I was offered a GTA position at my school, which is what I wanted anyway, so I could teach, and I took it and quit. The end.

But then I didn't have as much cool stuff to write about. I didn't have the sordid tales of rich people gone wild and my traffic gradually decreased and practically deceased. I tried writing a fictional novel about country clubs and it never worked. I am just not a fiction writer.

I started writing about my life and my family and things that happened to me but they were never the same and trust me, readers let me know. No agents contacted me. No famous bloggers linked to me anymore. TV producers were no longer interested in me. A possible deal had fallen through and I was too freaked out about getting sued to pursue it anyway.

But I kept writing and I found myself as a writer. I got better, but the terrible irony is that the better I got at writing, the less people actually wanted to read my blog. Comments waned. Traffic slowed even more. I was down to a couple hundred visitors per day, often less. It sucked. Still does.

I started blogging because I wanted to be famous. I read an article about Stephanie Klein in the New York Times and I thought, I could do that too. I could blog too. Most bizarre thing? Last year Stephanie Klein moved to Florida and lived in the very country club where I once worked. She'll probably write a best seller about her time there. I probably won't. I had lunch with her once, by the way. People say nasty stuff about her, but I found her to be extremely nice in person. I met another famous blogger several years back and I can't say the same thing. That person struck me as being mentally unstable and it annoyed me that this other person had a book deal because she was really unpleasant.

But anyway, I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be in the New York Times. I wanted agents and producers and deals and people calling my cell. I wanted to be read, to be heard, to start conversations, to be discussed. I wanted to go viral, pandemic. I wanted to be a success at the thing I most loved - writing. Hell, I just wanted to be successful at something and I wanted the validation of that success. 

I'd love to be a famous blogger even. Blogging though, is just like high school. You can never break the ranks of the popular girls and they're the ones who get everything over and over and over, no matter that all they seem to do is shill anymore and everything is about product placement. Very few of them are writing much of interest these days. I'm saying this partly out of jealousy, because I'd love to get free Hawaiian vacations for blogging. I'm not saying that these women don't deserve their success either. I'm saying that they aren't earning it now that they have it. Where are the posts that entertain, that provoke thought and discussions, make us laugh or cry or make us want to take action about something? Where's the passion or the craft in the writing? And yet, they keep getting all the praise while they write about water bottles and post mundane pictures of their dogs and kids and friends who wear horrific outfits, while excellent writers like this one who I love, languish in obscurity. 

I always hoped I'd be one of the Lana Turners of the Internet, you know, discovered. By an agent, by a big time blogger like Katie Allison Granju (now just Katie Allison I think) discovered Monica Bielanko and got her a job at Babble. Hey Katie, discover me. I've got content. I can meet a deadline. I'm prolific and professional and I can write circles around several of your Babble voices without plagiarizing. Also, I'd like you on my side if my house happens to burn down, which it probably will given its history.

I want someone that matters to read my blog and be impressed and say, this girl can write. She needs to write a book. The agent that signed Jenny Lawson would be fabulous. She doesn't need to take queries anymore. I checked. How about a famous writer? Jen Lancaster helped the Dad Gone Mad guy get his book deal and now he's disappeared. I don't know what happened with his memoir. Hey Jen, you out there?

None of these things have happened. Maybe I suck at self promotion. Maybe I'm not that great of a writer in the first place. Maybe I'm an attention whoring, deluded narcissist with raging PMS who hides behind the refrigerator door to eat M&Ms so my kid can't see and start whining for some. Maybe I'm not enough of a narcissist because I don't post pictures of myself and that's what the readers really want. Sorry, I don't have a friend who wears wacky outfits and I don't have a fancy camera. If I did, I wouldn't know how to use it anyway. I don't even have a dog and my cat's not photogenic.

Maybe I'm just unlucky. Maybe I'm late to all the parties and maybe I've never been in the right place at the right time. 

But I'll keep writing. I'll never stop writing. And to everyone who has stuck with me through the years, when I stopped telling the hilariously raunchy tales of life behind the gates, thanks. You're the ones I'm writing for anyway.

Here's to seven more years of good writing, no matter what happens and who's reading.

More Yoga Shenanigans

This story, luckily, didn't happen to me, but I had to share it anyway. I'm kind of amazed, but nothing weird has happened to me in yoga in a while, except that one day last week I perfected the pose known as "don'tcrapyourpantsinclassana." It's a really difficult move, let me tell you.

Anyway, this really nice girl I see in class a lot changed before class into her yoga outfit, leaving her sundress, with her other things, in the locker room. After class her dress was gone. She looked everywhere and the only solution was that the dress had been stolen. Her other things were in tact.

A couple days later she sees in the locker room a woman wearing the very same dress, so she goes up to her politely and explains that she was missing her dress and that she thought someone might have taken it by accident, maybe confusing it with their own. She was being very nice about this.

The woman wearing the dress shook her head, smiled and said:

"Oh, yeah. I really liked it. Where'd you get it?" 

Can you imagine??? I'm not sure what happened next, but that's not the point of this story. The point is that this is some hardcore crazy.

The dress thief is very wealthy and sends her two kids to the most expensive private school in town. She can clearly afford her own dress, but even if she were poor, that's still no excuse. And to wear the dress back to the place she stole it from! And to not even try to deny it, but to compliment the woman on the dress, while wearing the dress she stole! My mind cannot even comprehend the madness.

I told you these people were strange.

The other peculiar thing I saw in class was a club kid type who left his very fancy, polished wood and shiny metal, and probably very expensive, headphones on during a hot yoga class. And he wasn't listening to music. He wore them around his neck like a necklace. During a hot yoga class.

People just be nuts, I swear, y'all.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Wide Lawns Fashion Blog

If you actually know me, you're laughing hysterically at the title of this post because you know I'd never start a fashion blog. The very idea of me with a fashion blog is outrageous because I have no sense of style at all. None. 

When I worked I wore dresses a lot because they were one piece things that I could just put on with some brown or black shoes and call it a day. Now I mostly wear jeans and tee shirts and cardigans. I am obsessed with cardigans, especially living in Florida where it's hot as blazes outside and freezing cold inside from the AC no matter where you go. Oh, and flip flops.

But see, I like fashion and I want to look cute and polished. I want to be that well put together mom and I don't want to look like a slob slouching around in my yoga pants with a stained tank top and chipped toenail polish. Chipped nail polish is a gigantic pet peeve of mine, although I am currently guilty of it, though not for long. So, lately I've been trying to get my act together and look better and learn to put together better outfits and I think it's been working because the other day another mom told me I always look cute (I'm tricking her! she thinks I'm the polished mom!) and then my friend told me I should start a fashion blog because she loves how I put together my outfits. I'll never do all that but I will share my secret with you here.

Pinterest y'all. I have a fashion board on Pinterest and I pin all those Polyvore outfits that other people put together. Then I look at them and nearly have a heart attack at how much the clothes actually cost. I kid you not, I pinned a basic cable knit sweater that costs almost $1,700. You'd have to be insane to spend that on a pullover. Dear God you could buy a car. Or go on a really great trip. I don't know who's paying these prices, especially in this economy, but I can tell you it's not me. I am cheap. I don't like to buy anything much over twenty dollars. I consider a fifty dollar shirt expensive but I guess most people don't.

Since I am cheap and still want cute outfits, I look at the things I've pinned and then I go to Ross, Marshalls, Old Navy, Target, Goodwill and consignment shops to find similar items and I recreate expensive outfits for next to nothing. I also tend to pin outfits that have pieces that I already have but combined in new ways, because I have no style and don't know how to combine things very well on my own. I've had a lot of success doing this.

I also like What Not to Wear and I have memorized Clinton and Stacy's rule that every outfit needs color, pattern, texture and shine. It's like a mantra. I chant it in yoga. OM COLOR PATTERN TEXTURE SHINE OM.

Now I used to look at the J Crew catalog and go to all the discount stores to recreate their outfits, but sadly, as of late, J Crew seems to have lost their damned mind and none of their outfits match. Most of their outfits now look nice in the pictures, as if they are artistic photography, but one can't get away with looking in real life how one looks in an artsy photograph. I'm sorry. Some of those mismatched items would look ridiculous in real life and would have people whispering about if you looked in the mirror before you left the house. And that's not even taking into consideration that their models are six foot tall, hundred pound, gorgeous fourteen year olds, who can get away with looking somewhat ridiculous. We forty year old, frumpy housewives don't have that luxury so there will be no purple skinny jeans with leopard blouses and turquoise cardigans and red shoes in my future. Alas. I find that plainer, classic stuff works much better on me. 

I'm going to share my most recent outfit win. I saw this very autumnal ensemble a few weeks back on Pinterest and it was total preppy WASP apple picking material. I have WASP fantasies. Anyway, there was a blue gingham top, a burnt orange cardigan, jeans and leopardy looking flats. Something about this outfit really appealed to me, so I set out to recreate and couldn't find a similar blue top anywhere but at J Crew where it cost WAY more than twenty bucks. But lo and behold, I found the cardigan at Ross for $19.99 (expensive for Ross) and the EXACT blue gingham shirt at Marshalls for all of $16.99. I already had jeans from Old Navy, a belt from the late nineties and leopard flats that I bought also at Ross but four years ago. Hell yeah. Outfit recreated and all I spent was $36.99. Woo! So there's my secret.

If you guys like this, I will share more recreated outfits in the future. Mostly because it will give me an excuse to recreate outfits.

Here is the original outfit.

And here is my discount version, although I'm not entirely convinced that the shoes match, although Stacy and Clinton would probably say they did. What do you all think?




Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A Scary Story

It's October and that means my favorite time of year has officially started. It's the Halloween season. It's time for scary stuff and pumpkin everything, so I thought I'd start the month off right with a terrifying story of a possessed toy.

Anyone who's ever seen Poltergeist (pretty much the scariest movie of all time to me) is aware of the fact that toys can be terrifying, especially in the dark of night. There's something so uncanny about dolls and stuffed animals and any sort of childlike rendering of an adult thing. Given the right circumstances, toys can really creep you out. I've tried to avoid spooky toys and things with freaky looking eyes around here since Baby Lawns' arrival and I thought her little car, when my parents brought it over, was harmless. Little did I know it was demon possessed. Think a toddler version of Christine. 

Tacky? Yeah. Annoying? Possibly. Cute? Kinda. It was one of those little cars that toddlers can sit on and scoot themselves across the floor with their feet, Fred Flintstone style. It was pink and lavender and pale yellow. It had Disney Princess stickers all over it and it had several buttons and doo-hingers all over it that would make noise when messed with. Excessive noise. Incredibly annoying noise. It sang songs much like the ice cream truck. It had honking horns and chimes and bells that went ding and knobs you could flip and handles you could pull and they all made noise. My mother found the car at Ross and I'm convinced she bought it as some form of calculated revenge for all the noise I made to irritate her when I was a child.

The car made so much noise that I put it outside and declared it an outside toy. You may ask why I didn't simply turn it off. Here's the catch. It had no on/off switch that I could ever locate. That doesn't necessarily mean there wasn't one. It just meant I never found it if it existed.

It was a dark and stormy night. No really. It was. It was about midnight and my husband and I were in bed and the wind was just a howling outside. When the gales hit our fence and whip through the spaces between the boards, the noise is bone chilling. No banshee could ever compete. But through all that, something else managed to awaken me. Music. Music was playing.

Here is where I'd get killed in a horror movie. I went to investigate the mysterious noise. At first I thought my husband had left the TV on, so I went to check. Nope. TV off. I looked everywhere. Was it a phone? No. Something in the baby's room? No. Finally, I realized the music was coming from outside. Maybe my husband left the porch stereo on by accident. I went into the porch. Stereo off.

But once I was outside, I could hear the music more clearly and then it hit me. The car. The toy car was going through it's entire repertoire of songs and dingalings, it's overture of madness.

I stalked out into the backyard in the wind and rain with a mission. I would silence the toy car so all could sleep in peace. I yanked it up by its handle and shook the damned thing. It played its creepy carousel song seemingly louder, as if it knew and carousel music is way eerier when played outside at night in a storm.

I flipped it over looking for an on/off switch.  Nothing. Maybe if I took it inside, I thought, out of the rain, I could give it a good look over and find something to turn it off.

Once inside, on my dining room floor, to be exact, I switched the lights on and tried to find a way to turn it off, but it played on persistently, getting louder and louder. I began to feel desperate.

By this point, the racket had awakened my husband who found me huddled over a wet toy car, dripping and frantic on the dining room floor.

"I can't make it stop!" I cried.

He told me to take the battery out. Why hadn't I thought of that?

Great. The battery was, of course, under a plate which was screwed in. I needed a teeny Philip's head screw driver and where the hell was that at midnight in the rain, but in the shed, back outside and there are spiders.

By then my husband had gone back to bed and I was in actual tears trying to make this monstrosity stop. The music mocked me. It got louder and faster. It teased me by slowing so I thought it might stop, but then it honked a horn back to life and started all over again and now a little off rhythm and a lot off key.  It sounded like an ice cream truck driven by the murderous clown that terrified us as children.

I was really crying by this point. The whole time I'd been praying that the catastrophe wouldn't wake up the baby, but naturally it did, so I had to leave the toy car, still singing, and rock her back to sleep.

Finally, I got the screwdriver and through my frustrated tears I managed to unscrew the plate that held in the batteries. Wouldn't you know it that they were crusted in place and I had to get a knife to pry them out? It was like a miracle of silence when that damned thing shut up. I think I collapsed on the floor in a heap of gratitude for the quiet, for being rid of that awful organ grinder, circus of the macabre music.

And then I opened up the screen door and threw that car as far into the yard as I possibly could. You know, just in case it came back to life.

So far it hasn't. 

Yet.

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