Our High Standards Hamper Us

twisterNot that I was ever that much of a partyer, but I’m finding that even among our married (with children) peers, both CareerMom and I are boring, with a capital “B.”

Looking around, I’ve found that there are apparently two types of parents in this world:

A) Those who lead active social lives prior to having children and who, once they have children, see no reason not to continue doing so. They’ll pack the kids up and drag them to the ball park, Disneyland at the age of 2, Hockey games and other places, which to me, seems a bit nonsensical since you spend all your time watching the kids rather than whatever it is you’re there to see!

Then there are these folks:

B) Those who are somewhat social prior to having kids. Then after having kids, they realize that dragging all that baby crap everywhere is just a big ol’ pain in the butt, and anyway, who wants to see and hear my screaming youngins when they paid good money to be here!

CareerMom and I are most decidedly of the “B” group, while it seems like everyone we know, is in the “A” group. Case in point, we recently were invited to a neighbor’s house for something they have called, “The Event.”

Billed as something only offered to a “select” group of people, The Event promises:

  • South African wine tasting
  • Martini bar
  • Craft brew bar
  • Chair massages
  • Cigars
  • Complimentary drive home
  • Couples pool tournament
  • Beer pong
  • Afternoon pedicures and manicure

Does this not sound like the best! It does to us too, but we’re already finding problems getting a babysitter now that all the high-school kids are out of school and at the end of the day, CareerMom and I both seem to have come to the conclusion that it’s too much of a hassle to get someone to watch the kids. It appears that we’ve reached a silent agreement that we’ll just skip The Event altogether rather than making the effort to find a new sitter. How pathetic are we?

Now granted, there are probably 50 teenage girls in our neighborhood and we’ve barely scratched the surface in trying to find one, but part of the problem is CareerMom’s high standards for babysitting. Apparently, they have to meet the same standards originally set forth by CareerMom’s recently graduated youngest sister, and our longtime “old standby” babysitter:

1. An affinity for playing with children (Most teenage girls qualify: check)2. Be able to determine when water is hot enough to scald child in bath (Most teenage girls qualify: check)3. Doesn’t need to be motivated to clean up after playtime and/or dinner (Most teenage girls qualify: check)4. Be able to figure out how to manipulate the three remote controls required for proper television viewing (Most teenage girls qualify: check)5. Know our kids already (Most teenage girls qualify: OH! So sorry…thanks for playing!)

So really, it’s that one criteria preventing us from being social. Or are we just using it as an excuse? I suspect it’s a bit of both.

Are we really that boring or are we like our own little saboteurs, hamstringing our inner-partyer so that we can play the martyr while everyone else is having fun?

I tell ya, right about now, I could use a martini bar, some beer pong and maybe even a game of naked twister if the mood’s right.

Confessions of a Errant Parent

colsaveWe parents are hard enough on ourselves. Why, just this past weekend when my dad visited us, no fewer than twice did he start a sentence with, “There are a lot of things I regret; things that I wish I’d done differently.” And though I did my best to ameliorate any bad feelings he has, I know that this is simply one of those things that each parent feels as he or she gets older.

So, it really bothers me when we parents, as a whole, make it seem like there are things that other parents should be doing; especially when those “things” are not endangering the child’s life, or for that matter, even making the child sad in any way.

Here I am then, about to admit to something that has been plaguing me since my kids were born–something that I’ve (we’ve) not been doing that I’m sure many folks out there will frown upon and which might possibly shock some considering that according to U. Sam, we don’t deserve a government “pre-bate.”

Here it is:

We’re not saving for our kids’ college!

There ya go. Fire away. I know we’re scum. No, we’re worse than scum, we’re incompetent parents who apparently can’t think 18 years down the line well enough to know that we’re jeopardizing our children’s future–nay, our children’s children’s future even.

Ok, in the name of theatrics, I might have overstated the situation a bit. We do in fact have savings accounts (with ING) for each of our kids where we deposit all the checks from the various family. What we don’t have is a dedicated college savings account.

Call me crazy, but right now, the $20K we’re spending each year on daycare pretty much sucks up all the free money we might normally have to put in a fund. Add to that gas prices, food prices and just simply the cost of “living” (i.e. satellite TV so the kids can TiVo Iron Man and The Superfriends), and we’re pretty much just treading water here.

Now I will say that once these boys are in school (probably public), we’ll start funding those accounts more heavily but right now we’re not and quite frankly, I’m not losing too much sleep over it. I didn’t go to college until I was 29, and though I wish I’d done it right off, things turned out OK for me.

But I’m wondering how many other parents out there are carrying around a dirty little secret that wouldn’t really be dirty if society weren’t such a pain in the arse about it.

Care to come clean?

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How Not to Spend Your Evening

WildwoodGenerally speaking, I’m happy with my Homeowners Association (HOA). Having moved from an older neighborhood with absolutely no neighborhood standards, I have no problems with rules such as,

“Garbage cans must not be put along the curbside prior to 6 p.m. the day before pickup and must be removed from the curbside by 8 p.m. the evening of pickup.”

Rules are OK, when they are logical and when they are evenly enforced.

Every year we have our HOA meeting and last year, though it was abysmally boring, they at least served beer and wine and kept everyone from getting too annoyed with the 2.5 hours it took to listen to each Committee chair.

This year, in the announcement for the meeting, the President of the HOA made it very clear that they were going to try and limit each Committee head to a five-minute presentation in an effort to keep things moving along.

So, I cooked an early dinner, ate, and then headed down while CareerMom stayed home with the boys.

When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was, “Hey, no beer!” And I wasn’t the first to notice either. It seems that a Georgia law was passed that says non-profit Corps (which our HOA is) cannot serve alcohol during meetings. So, even though we are just a bunch of homeowners sitting around a clubhouse, because we are technically part of a non-profit, we can’t drink.

Wow! What a worthwhile law.

Anyway, things were going smoothly until some woman stands up and–get this–makes a motion to abolish the $5 charge that any resident who plays in the local tennis league (using our courts and others to do so) must pay.

$5!  Let me say it again…$5.

Would you believe that her complaining, and our HOA president’s explanation of why this charge is necessary, went on for 45 minutes!

By the time it was over, I was about ready to go home, pour myself a drink and walk back down for the remainder of the meeting!

But finally she shut up and we voted the very same incumbents in that have been there forever because nobody else wants to be the target in the front of the room for stupidity such as this women had just shown, and THEN, once we had adjourned with a very official-sounding, “Yes, I second the motion to adjourn” agreement, we were allowed to drink.

But by then it was 9 p.m. and I needed to get home. Man, what an enjoyable night outta the house. Tonight, CareerMom’s youngest sibling graduates from High School, so while she goes and celebrates, I’ll be home with the kids. I could go with her and drag the boys, but I’d just end up watching them anyway, and at least tonight the swim team (for which residents pay $85 for each child on the team) doesn’t have practice and we can get in before 7 p.m.

Hooray for me!

What’s next? Nudist camp?

flutter I can’t believe I’m about to jeopardize my creative integrity, but I feel I must. I’m about to devote an entire blog to butter. Well, fake butter (futter) actually, but in my dietary world where the war against fat is a constant, futter IS butter.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve eschewed real butter thanks, I’m sure, to some public service announcement in my youth telling me how bad all that butter is for my arteries. Course, they also said that about eggs, and I consume probably a dozen and a half eggs (mostly just the whites) each week for the protein content and last time I checked, my resting heartrate was about 52 bpm, so take that state of Alabama!

Anyway, my futter of choice has been “Country Crock” for years and years. Considering we never really slathered our food with much butter growing up, my taste for Country Crock came more from a “can’t miss what you never had” background moreso than out of any love for the actual flavor. Country Crock has always come in this big tub and even with my family of four now, it usually lasted nearly two months.

But the other day when I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items, futter included, I couldn’t find my usual tub of futter and instead, there was this half-sized container of Country Crock futter proudly proclaiming, “Now with Omega Plus.”

Omegas? That’s the nutrient you get from fish right? I mean, isn’t that the big secret weapon in salmon and tuna and all those wild Alaskan swimmers we hold so dear? Well, I’m not sure what fish oil would taste like in futter, but I’m game. So, I purchased a container and sure enough, it tasted just like my old Country Crock.

But thing is, the container is about 2/3 the size of the original and guess what? Yep, it’s the same price!

Well, fool me once and all, I decided that the next time I needed futter, I’d break out of my 20 year rut and try a different brand, so I picked up a full-sized tub of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” figuring anything that’s been around at least as long as my Country Crock has got to have something good going for it.

OMG! What I can’t believe is that people believe the name! This is quite possibly the nastiest surprise I’ve put in my mouth since my brother and his friend convinced me that giant mushrooms growing wild in the woods are tasty and delicious!

It’s so bad, it has me reconsidering just how bad REAL butter can actually be. I mean, it’s all natural right? My mom believes that all the processed food we eat is making everyone sick and while I actually tend to agree with her to a certain degree, I also don’t see me whipping out the Fry Daddy and cooking up a batch of fried chicken and french fries just because canola oil comes from…Canolas? Come to think of it, where does Canola oil come from?

So I am torn, I will admit. I’m torn between feeding my kids something that might clog up their arteries, but which is probably not going to give them cancer, OR I can keep feeding them a low fat butter substitute and pray that their consumption level doesn’t approach that of those poor lab rats with IVs in their veins that have futter dripping through them 24×7.

But if I go down the all natural path, I’m going to have to do some serious fridge cleaning out.

Do you all eat the fake stuff or is your family au naturale (with food I mean)?

(Later: As if I needed another reason to not like Country Crock anymore; I went to their Web site to leave a complaint and their input screen will not let you use apostrophes. Which means “no contractions.” What kind of grammar-Nazi’s are they? I suspect they do it to frustrate users into NOT leaving complaints, but I’m a writer and crap like this fuels my bravado!)