Oops!

Remember how I said we were going to be a one-car family? How I was going to take up the cause of saving the world by walking to the grocery store and possibly saving a few spotted owls along the way? Yeah. Well, then this happened:


We were rear-ended on the highway last night coming home from an out-of-town event. In the grand picture of it all, we are so very lucky. It was the kind of accident that could have taken a very bad turn, but we were spared. Our baby girl is fine. My spine feels like a Dutch pretzel but nothing is broken. Our car sustained a butt-kicking.

I’m left with the last vision of our car, strapped to the back of the departing tow truck: bolts and bits bouncing onto the roadway as two loose flaps of plastic and metal waved farewell in the wind. I couldn’t help but bust out laughing.

WTF? You know? Here we are, with all our crap on the side of the road as we wait for a friend to pick us up and get us home. Didn’t feel so independent at that moment.

Recall rage

When I’m looking to do a little house cleaning, I don’t grab a broom or a dust cloth like most people do, I log on to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site. It is filled with wonderful news on how I have wasted hundreds of dollars over the years on my children, how much of what I own is utter garbage and probably highly hazardous.

Cases in point:

I pitched a bag full of toys and a lawn chair last summer, all of which were gifts to baby girl and all of which turned up on the CPSC Web site as containing toxic levels of lead.

I had to toss a couple baby shower gifts given to me by friends and family when one-by-one they showed up on recall lists for having high lead levels or dangerous small parts and pieces.

Today, I learn I have to dismantle baby girl’s “lifetime bed.” Lifetime my ass — did they mean lifetime of a gnat? The bed has been recalled because the slats have been known to crack in half, posing a strangulation and entrapment hazard.

In order to participate in the recall, I have to take apart the bed, detach certain key pieces, including the part of the bed that contains the manufacturer’s label, and stuff it all into a postage-paid envelope.

But wait, there’s more! We then get to figure out where baby girl is going to sleep, since what’s left of her bed will be in a million pieces on the floor — while we patiently await the special delivery of a VOUCHER. No, not the delivery of a new bed. A VOUCHER. A crappy piece of paper.

Did I mention my child will not have a place to sleep? Since the store that sold us this deathtrap of a bed is 25 miles away, we’ll have to pump about $250 worth of gas into our car and drive this voucher to the next county.

Did I mention that there’s no guarantee they’ll have a similar style or color bed to match the rest of the furniture? Did I mention that I’ll have to arrange to have the thing delivered –again? That we’ll have to assemble a whole bed –again?

Clearly whoever put together this recall ‘remedy” does not or never has dealt with toddlers and their various sleep issues. It took us a good year to get Girl from the East to sleep in her bed, stay in her bed and like it. Now we will have to find some alternative sleeping arrangement.

I guess the source of my rage is simple. I did the best I could to put together what I thought at the time was a nice bedroom for our child. I acted in good faith that a product that seemed solid on the sales floor would live up to expectations.

So much of what we bought or were given by others has proved to be less-than-acceptable. I know, there are fine products out there if you’re willing to shell out roughly the cost of a year of college tuition. It’s a shame affordable and quality can no longer be used in the same sentence when describing many products on our store shelves.

boobies

This evening the entire family gathered around the table and smothered our faces in fresh, ripe young …. boobies.

Sometimes, when we are feeling decadent, we like to squirt whipped cream on them for flavor enhancement. Yesterday we mixed it up with a scoop of ice cream and a dollop of heavy cream. We just can’t seem to get enough.

Please don’t think I’ve stooped to a new low in order to attract attention to this humble little blog.

What I’m really talking about are these:

Not these:

For god’s sake, what kind of people do you think we are anyhow? I’ll have you know we are vegetarians!

Anyone who’s maneuvered a pre-schooler through the language development phase knows that simple, simple words are fertile territory for producing “Oh.No.” moments. We had just gotten past the knife, “fuck” and spoon cycle. And the we-tell-time-by-looking-at-the “cock” stage. And now here we are, fumbling in the “booby” zone.

The “boobies” thing is out of control.

Back story: Somewhere along the way, we started sprinkling blueberries on her yogurt. These quickly were renamed “booobies.” Then raspberries came into season. Still, it was “booobies.” Now, it’s strawberry time and the passion is mounting.

It’s gotten so that I run through the produce section and quickly grab a package of strawberries before Girl from the East can spot the mounds of red berries and bellow: “BOOOBIES! MOMMA, ME WANT BOOOBIES.” for all the hear and process.

Redirect and correct, you say? We’ve slowly pronounced and enunciated the word strawberry to her. Over and over. It’s not working.

I pray for autumn.

My other car is a Matchbox

Today I relinquished this:



And now share a car with the husband. I also have a pair of feet, several sturdy backpacks, and one of these:



This is supposed to be temporary. An exploration of my creative spirit, intestinal fortitude and a way to … ahem … built up some savings.

You see, the Jeep was an impulsive act. A Very Expensive Mistake. It was the one-night stand that became the stalker kind of mistake. Fearful of making that mistake again, of picking a vehicle that was just all wrong for me, that looked sexy in the mood lighting of the show room but in daylight became a freak show, I simply avoided car shopping on a serious level.

I’m hoping in the fall to purchase the perfect car. What will it be? My searches so far have come up fairly empty. But maybe not having a car at all will be the perfect motivator. Maybe when the heels of my feet are peeling and bleeding on the pavement, I’ll hobble on over to a car dealership and do some serious field research.

I need fuel efficiency first. I do a lot of driving. There’s no getting around it. I also need space. With two kids and the itch to travel, we need a roof rack and trunk space. We also need fuel efficiency. Did I mention that yet? Oh, yeah, and it needs to be affordable.

The search for the perfect car came up empty, leading us to today, with me handing over the keys to the dealership and walking away on foot, while the salesman watched a commission vaporize before his eyes.

This is something I’ve never done since I became a licensed driver back in the Ronald Reagan administration. The closest I came to this is when I was grounded from using my parents’ car and had to hand over my set of keys.

Follow me as I figure out how to go carless in the Motor City.

World's biggest dork

I’m not the type to pull off the highway for what’s known as a tourist trap. I’ve never visited a “Mystery Spot” to watch water flow uphill. I’ve not set foot in a wax museum. I managed to avoid the “world’s largest prairie dog” perched near a highway exit in South Dakota. Heck, the closest I or we came to participating in this nonsense was the “Wall Drug” incident.

While driving through the above-mentioned South Dakota a few summers back, the husband half and I began counting the number and ways in which this business advertised itself. In a state comprised primarily of undulating prairie grass, there’s not much to draw your attention away from these signs, which sprout from bridges, ponds, rainclouds, herds of antelope and unsuspecting hitchhikers.

The effect is that you’ll either be so darn curious you have to pull of the highway to see this place, or else — like us — you are so freakin’ irritated you want to set fire to the place and end the madness. But you don’t because you don’t want to hurt the state’s economy.

Oddly, we found ourselves running low on fuel just as we approached Wall Drug. Interesting how that worked. Great. Now everyone will THINK we purposely pulled off the road to visit this Tourist Trap. We’ll come home to find Wall Drug bumper stickers plastered to our car, or Wall Drug tattoos etched onto our butts.

We quickly refueled but then decided, what the heck, let’s “just drive past the place to see what it is.”

So we did. But in a stalker stealth kind of way, like ducked down in our seats, with sunglasses on and hats pulled low over our eyes. We even took the back road behind the place so as to avoid any eye contact with tourists on foot.

What we found was a huge building about the size of a Wal-Mart, taking up an entire city block. It’s exterior was decorated to look like an old West wooden storefront with water troughs, barrels and places to tie your horse.

As close as we could figure, it was the world’s largest gift shop, with probably a restaurant and casino added on for good measure.

But that incident has forever changed the husband half of this relationship.

Last weekend we were passing through a small town in Western Michigan when we came upon “the world’s largest weather vane.”

Requests to stop and view this marvel of craftsmanship were initially ignored. Finally, husband gave in, but refused to get out of the car and ducked down as Girl from the East and I got out, with a camera, and pranced toward the attraction.

We also saw this:

He would have nothing to do with any of this nonsense. Just so you know.

And if that was you passing through this little burg, which by the way once manufactured weather vanes, and saw me posing my child underneath this homage to a simpler era, I heard you call me a dork. That’s world’s biggest dork to you, mister.

Half-empty nest, sort of

After eight months of fund-raising (some of it quite hellish), preparation, and figuring out how to pack a month’s worth of stuff into one suitcase with a 30-pound weight limit

Girl from the West has finished life as a middle schooler and his headed overseas for lessons she doesn’t even know she’s going to learn.

MomZombie realizes she has some lessons of her own to learn. Like children drive you crazy every moment of the day, until they leave, then you cry and worry about every worst-case scenario involving international travel.

Consoling my lonely

I understand about priorities: My children have more shoes, clothes and stuff than I do.

I understand about responsibilities: Everyone in this house gets more sleep than I do.

I understand about sacrifice: My gas guzzlin’ Jeep drinks better than I do these days.

Do I sound like a whining martyr? Well, good.

Priorities, responsiblities and sacrifice aside, there are some things I really hate to live without: good food, good wine and good music. Until recently, if a band I liked was making a tour stop in the D, I was all about getting tickets. I’d do what was necessary to make it happen.

The last time these guys were in town, I had second row. That’s close enough to feel the sweat dripping from Jack White’s brow.

Perhaps since I had the good fortune of being up-close for the first round, this time I’m not curled in the fetal position under my bed, rocking and moaning in despair that not only am I not going to be second row this time, I’m not going at all.

There’s no simple explanation for the why I’m not going. I’d offer some lame excuses, such as “scheduling conflicts” or “other things going on that have taken all my time and money and cannot be blown off.” But I won’t tell you what they are because then I’d be labeled worst mother ever.

Let’s just say it’s hard being a grown up sometimes, having to give up what you love so that those you love can have something special. Sometimes I feel so immature.

Motivation

This picture goes back a few months to a rainy, windy day in well, the Windy City, when we stepped outside of a hot, crowded Navy Pier to get some fresh air. Within seconds the damp air sweeping over Lake Michigan made it ashore and took our breath away. But before we retreated indoors, Girl from the East couldn’t resist hopping and skipping through a few puddles. The wind whipped her hair. The puddles splashed water onto her stockings and she exploded into a fit of giggles.

This image captures her happy spirit, her ability to seize the day.

I’m posting it as a motivator to turn around my mood, which is more like the oppressive mass of water vapor overhead.

On my darkest days, I always challenge myself to find the bright spot. Every day has one. On this day, that picture is my bright spot.