Who said love was “free”?

cards.jpgUnless you’re unattached (physically, not emotionally) to another person, you are probably aware that today is Valentines Day (should it be “Valentine’s Day” in the possessive form?). That means for the last few days, commercials have bombarded us with portrayals of lazy, procrastinating boyfriends and/or husbands busily running over to Target and/or the Hallmark store to find some last-minute doo-dad for his lover.

Generally speaking, I pride myself on not falling into this bucket. And since CareerMom and I sort of celebrated V-Day at the Ritz-Carlton last week (see: Wouldn’t You Like to Get Away for a complete play-by-play), I didn’t put too much thought into getting anything for actual Valentines day until I realized that I should probably get something for the boys to give to Mommy. She’d like that.

So, I trotted over to Target yesterday figuring I’d get her a card from me and one from the boys and if I was lucky, I’d find one of those candy ring-pops CareerMom had explained to me last week was her favorite candy as a little girl.

I walked into Target and the cards are pretty much the first three rows you encounter as you come in and let me tell you folks, the commercials leading up to Valentines day are waaaay off. There wasn’t a single guy there yesterday. It was all women, who, one would assume, were all getting their last-minute Valentines Day shopping done. And pushy! I darn near had to get rude just to get near the rack. Between the plus-sized models covering several square-feet of rack space, to the purse-laden carts that women won’t let get more than 8” away from their bodies, it was like trying to touch Sammy Hagar at a Van Halen reunion concert! It just wasn’t happening.

I muttered, “Forget this!” and walked around to the other side where they keep the nondescript cards that just say, “Love” on them and grabbed one, figuring I’d just fill in the rest. I also grabbed a card from the boys that they could color and give to her.

Having gotten my cards, I looked all over the store for ring pops—couldn’t find any. As I was walking back to the other end of the store to the one checkout open on the side that didn’t sell groceries, I peeked in all of the candy racks at the checkout counters-to no avail. There was one open checkout on this far end of the store and as I got in it and moved closer to the checkout, VOILA! There was a small box of ring pops. I triumphantly grabbed two of them and moved up to the counter. The clerk rang up my two cards and ring pops and announced, “That will be $11.37 sir.”

Eleven dollars for two ring pops and two cards! After paying, I scrutinized the receipt and realize that the generic “Love” card I grabbed in my fit of exasperation, cost $6 even! Wow!

Either they have some REALLY smart people over at Target, who knew that guys like me would get fed up with the crowd and opt for a more generic card—without even looking at the price—or cards have just gotten waaaay expensive. But, like I’m going to complain to CareerMom about it right? Fat chance!

Happy Valentines Day all!

Just SHOUT! it out…

Like most of the people I call friends, I have a touch of the Obsessive-Compulsive. I wouldn’t call my level of it a disorder, per se, but I’m definitely what people would call “anal” about things. Like cleaning. With two large dogs and two young boys, my house is definitely not spotless, but generally speaking, at any time during the week, random strangers, say…the Harlem Globetrotters, could drop by and I wouldn’t be too embarrassed.

Recently, one of my ageing dogs puked on the carpet before I could get her to the door. After sponging up as much of the bile (yummy!) as I could, I got out our handy-dandy SpotBot to clean up the rest. The SpotBot is this little vacuum thingy that you just sit on top of the spot after filling it with cleaning solution, press a button and Presto! It cleans it for you in about two minutes.

The only drawback to the SpotBot is that it’s very small. As you can see from the picture below, it cleans a very small area. In fact, this “clean” area you see before you is the result of having moved the SpotBot three times.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Did you put bleach in the water? Cuz, you’ve got one bright white spot there.”

The answer is “Nope. No bleach. That area is just REALLY clean compared to the surrounding carpet.”  Now, I regularly use one of those home carpet cleaners, which I thought did a pretty good job, but I was apparently (dare I say, “horribly”) wrong.

Now, I have company coming in town this weekend, and a family get-together for my youngest son’s first birthday, and I have this un-ignorable bright white spot on my carpet that I will forever be explaining to people is NOT a bleached out spot and that apparently the rest of my carpet is just REALLY dirty! Not a conversation I want to have ad nauseum.

That leaves me three, no four options really.

  1. Employ the SpotBot roughly 300 times to clean the entire living room carpet
  2. Get on my hands and knees with carpet cleaner and a scrub brush and see what I can do manually
  3. Go rent a proper cleaner from the grocery store
  4. Call in the pros

Of the four choices, I don’t have time for three of them, and I don’t really want to spend money on the fourth. What to do, what to do?

You know, in the time it took me to write this, I could have moved the SpotBot twice already!

Wouldn’t you like to get away…just for a day…

Ritz-Carlton Lodge CareerMom’s company gives out Pavlonian-style rewards for good work behavior. One can redeem these rewards (with a substantial markup) for all manner of things. Normally, we use them to replace whatever electronic necessity the boys have dropped in the toilet most recently, but this time, we used them to book a night at the Ritz-Carlton Resort in beautiful Greensboro, GA. Yes, folks, a Ritz-Carlton in the middle-of-nowhere Georgia.

It’s about a two-hour drive from Roswell, and so CareerMom’s folks came over to stay at our house to watch the boys. Mind you, they live about five miles away, but they find it easier to just stay at our house rather than put up with my youngest not sleeping because he hates the pack-n-play at their house.

Anyway, I didn’t realize the significance of this Ritz-Carlton’s location until we drove past nearly a mile of golf courses and were greeted by a cadre of knicker-clad bellmen. That’s when it hit me, “Oh yeah, this is where they played the 2007 PGA Cup and will host a future PGA Pro National Championship (will that be the FEDEX Cup now?).

With all this great golf nearby, do you think I got to play? Nossir—and here’s why. CareerMom likes her some spa treatments…yessir, that she does. And when you book a package deal, they won’t let one of you play golf while one of you gets a treatment. You both have to do the same thing. And since CareerMom doesn’t play, it means that for three mini-getaways now, I’ve gotten up-close and personal with massage therapists, while the closest I got to the golf course was tearfully viewing it from my room balcony.

Now I know…boo hoo me right? I HAD to go to the Ritz-Carlton, and I HAD to get a spa treatment. I know, it’s a bit petty but one of the few things I REALLY enjoy doing in my life, and I have the opportunity to do it in a place that most people only get to watch on TV…and I don’t get to do it. It IS frustrating.

Among the other notable things that happened while we were there, was getting the chance to watch two young, fairly attractive women at the pool. Let me set the stage; CareerMom and I meandered down to the pool, which overlooks the lake. We stayed there talking for a few and both turned around towards the pool so we could lean up against the fence. We both had our sunglasses on and CareerMom says, “Is that girl lying on top of another girl?” Being a man, I quickly glanced over and from what I could tell, there was one girl in a bathing suit lying facedown on a chaise lounger, with another bathing suit-clad young woman lying on top of her…also face down. Though I wanted to stare (and fantasize just a tiny bit), I tried not to look. CareerMom though, had no such qualms. “I can’t look away” she said, “It’s fascinating.” This from a woman who later that evening, as I paused to watch a “girls gone wild” commercial remarked, “Two women together, I just don’t get it.”

Really?

Anyway, we also made nuisances of ourselves later that evening at the off-site restaurant, where CareerMom ordered a filet, cooked medium, and it came back very rare. I ordered the Cajun pasta and halfway through, came across something that looked very much like a grub worm that I might pull out of my compost pile, but that the chef insisted was a crawfish tail. Either way, it ruined my appetite.

But the time flew by and we soon were back on the road. It’s amazing how much stuff you can cram into 24 hours. We left at 1 p.m. on Saturday and arrived home by 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. It was fun, but if I’m gonna drive two hours to stay at a Ritz-Carlton, I want to STAY at a Ritz-Carlton. This was just a mad-dash. For that, I could have stayed home and chased after the kids.

My son’s middle name is “danger”

Danger!

Sometime around the 11th grade, I reached the tallest point in my life that I would ever reach—somewhere around 5’ 8”. CareerMom tops out at roughly 5’ 4”. My side of the family comes from short stock, but CareerMom’s side of the family is a mixed bag.

So, there was about an 80% chance that our kids would be on the smallish side. And it appears that will be the case.

My youngest son, of 11 months, is quite the walker. He toddles all over the house and when he gets near something he knows he shouldn’t—like the stairs or the fireplace—he’ll stop, look over his shoulder and if he thinks no one is looking, he’ll hit it full tilt. One of his favorite pastimes is wrestling with his older brother, and if I’m on the floor, he runs over to me and lays across me while I roll him front his feet to his head.

He likes the rough and tumble.

So why then, am I surprised when the daycare ladies asked CareerMom, “Has Aiden been more aggressive with Ethan lately? Because he’s become the class bully.”

And just to prove it, when CareerMom dropped him off this morning, he walked over to one little girl who was innocently playing by herself, and just smacked her on top of the head.

Part of me isn’t surprised. Quite the opposite of his older brother, Aiden is outgoing and loves to be the center of attention. It’s clear he has a dominant personality; but to see that little boy taking on kids older and bigger than him (well, some are younger and smaller, but most aren’t) both warms my heart and scares the crap outta me at the same time.

I don’t think there’s a father out there who, internally, doesn’t swell with pride when his son stands up for himself. But there’s a fine line between standing up for oneself and being a bully. And it doesn’t help that the daycare workers are so enamored of him that they don’t like to fuss at him because they can’t stand to watch his little lip quiver in response to the scolding.

The little booger has them all fooled. He pulls that trick at home and I just laugh at him and tell him “No!” He gets over it and moves on. Daddy doesn’t fall for those tricks.

It seems we have some training to do…and not just with the kids.