Airing Out My Laundry

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At one point in my life, laundry was one of my favorite things to do…seriously. (Photograph courtesy of popartmachine.com)

Once upon a time I was a compulsive neat-freak and organizer. I would clean the boys’ rooms, my own room, have the laundry cleaned, dried and folded, toilets cleaned, and trash cans disinfected daily. I was a cleaning tornado. (I am sure my husband wonders what has happened since then!)  I am not saying anything is wrong with that, but without over exaggeration, I drove myself insane worrying about placing “Mr.T’s” clothing on the blue hangars, “The Hulk’s” clothing on the green ones, and “Axl M’s” on the red ones, not to mention my own clothing being sorted on different colored hangars for particular reason (short sleeved t-shirts, long sleeves, dresses, blouses—you get the idea). Yes, it was that bad—it got even worse.

At one point when my husband was deployed things got REALLY bad.  Besides the clothing identification system that my mother so lovingly coined the term “the dot system” and the hangar mania, I even went as far as bagging COMPLETE OUTFITS right down to undies and socks into gallon freezer bags. I had this crazy idea that my two year old would pull out ONE bag and dress himself…ha! The only time one bag was removed from the drawers for any of the boys, was when I was the person dressing them. One would have thought I would have put a screeching halt to this useless attempt of ‘’teaching my children independence” after walking into each of their rooms and seeing all my hard work strewn from wall-to wall and freezer bags being used to hold a variety of things ranging from Super Heroes and Rescue Heroes , water from the bathroom sink, and even one of their favorite stuffed animals and leaking Sippy cup—together!  But NOOOO!

I needed an intervention and I needed it before the boys learned this weird laundry sorting, hanging, outfit putting together ritual…or even worse, what if they decided this routine was too hard and they decided to live with me forever?FOREVER! Yes, that simply had to be fixed pronto…or at least, that is what the few people I trusted enough to come into my house said. I just imagined I was like Bree Van De Kamp from Desperate Housewives….she HAD  to be an OCD closet laundry freak like myself. So, I used the hangars (and by then the boys knew whose color was whose) and I used the dot system (two of the boys wore the same size of clothing forever..and apparently it’s against an unwritten boy code if they wear each other’s undies (but they can walk in each other using the potty, have ‘light saber wars,’ and smack each other on the rear with a ‘good game?), but I got rid of the freezer bag idea. We did, however, recycle the salvageable bags and used them for something that I am sure did not hold food items (I am a bit batty-but not THAT batty!).

As the boys grew older; their clothes grew bigger, their individual styles came out, and clothing became more easily identifiable.  Sadly, the famous “dot system” has been retired from this household, but I’ve told a few younger moms about it with kids that are about the same size in clothing. I will NEVER tell anyone to use the hangar or the freezer bags ever..and I mean ever–that is just opening up an invitation to hours of intensive therapy on an uncomfortable pleather couch secretly  attempting to convince yourself that just because you lay your head on the pillow on the sofa you aren’t going to catch head lice while trying to listen to the questions of the therapist and develop coherent sentences that aren’t going to make you sound even more out of control than you already feel.

In the end, I just figured out that as long as the boys were wearing clothes that were clean-it didn’t matter if it matched or not. And I soon found out that the boys would not wear clothing that were two sizes too small—well, they wouldn’t until this past year until “Axl M’’ and his brother-from-another-mother found the footed sleepers—but that’s a whole different story….

The Battle of the Band…..Instruments, That Is

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There's no need to eavesdrop at our door. The only time our house is quiet is when no one is home and the dog is asleep. (Image courtesy of connectioncafe.com)

On any given day, there are a variety sounds coming from our second floor apartment. You see, overseas military housing is built UP not OUT; therefore,  we live on top of each other—which can get pretty interesting…pretty interesting indeed, but that is another story. We’ve been blessed with three rambunctious and healthy boys who, well, let’s just put it this way, haven’t really gotten past the toddler phase when it comes to energy level, despite being man-children at the ripe ages of 17, 15, and 13. Between the “shoot’em up” video games, the sports video games, the actual sports being played IN the house, the JACKASS stunt reenactments attempts, and occasional non-pay per view mixed unmartial arts scuffle boxing fight ninja battle wrestle mania that I have to referee when the testosterone levels reach all times highs our house is probably louder than a daycare full of two and three  year olds just learning to share and still live by the Toddler’s Laws of Property—especially on music instrument practice days, which is pretty much any day that ends in the letter ‘Y.’

English: A bottle of Excedrin's migraine formu...

My daily dose of 'Vitamin E.' (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Axl M plays the trombone, The Hulk plays the guitar. We have musical neighbors above and below us who apparently play the dying cat and the in pain cow. Yes, that’s mean…Axl M’s trombone practice often sounds like the mating call of an elephant (or what I imagine that would sound like), although I am pretty sure he does this on purpose. So now we’re equal on the meanness scale. The Hulk, well, he’s gifted..…he actually sounds musical. Nevertheless, it never fails every night at the SAME time all four of them begin to fill our building with the wonderful sounds of melodic tunes, mating calls, animal’s last sounds, and calls for help from the veterinarian. It is as if all of these talented young musicians have developed some sort of competition to see who will outlive the other in a battle of Musical Survivor, and I have, I am sure, given the makers of Excedrin Migraine the spike in sales they needed in order to keep from having to ask for a corporate bail out.

   Now, here’s the important part, remember there are three man-children that live in the house. Oh yeah!   Now into this wonderful mix of musical melodic monstrosity enters Mr. T…the ‘baddest’ beatboxer  and rapper in all of S.K. (South Korea) for all of you that aren’t ‘hip’ or in the ‘know’ (ya know)….oh please, someone help us all.

 

Voting had better start soon on who is exiting this game before I start procuring instruments or duct taping mouths…there are still four months left in the school year and it’s either the instruments, the kids, or a long vacation on a quiet beach for me…

On second thought—kids, play on, I’m booking the next flight to the Bahamas…I’ll see you in June after the instruments are turned in….

I'll take one for the team and sacrifice my time to sit in this secluded area while you guys practice your instruments for the next few months...really, it won't be a problem... (Image courtesy of bahamastrip-blogspot.com)

 

In My Head I’ve Run You Over Ten Times…..With My Grocery Cart….

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I despise grocery shopping. Just thinking about entering the grocery store makes me want to scream and drop into the fetal position. Seriously, this is no joking matter. I am sure there is some sort of diagnosis for this condition, and if not there should be one. Heck, I don’t care if the syndrome is named after me. Here are some really cool ideas for just in case: ‘opheliadoesn’twanttoshopitis’  or  ‘opafoodashopaphobia.’  I have nightmares of peanut butter jars dancing in the aisles with saltine crackers and sardine can keys slowly rolling the lids open and sardines performing the Can-Can while donning tiny Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader uniforms. I am positive this happens when the store closes, all time sheets have been punched,  and all the employees head home. You HAVE seen the movie A Night at the Museumhaven’t you?

A small trip to the commissary, for me,  is comparable to the yearly visit to the gynecologist.  A ‘real shopping excursion’ to purchase groceries for the fickle bottomless pits that reside in my house ranks up there with going to the dentist for a root canal…and if you know me and my history with dentist—THAT’s pretty high. I am sure Lady Clairol makes bank on people like me who pop a few grey hairs fighting that dreaded horror flick anxiety as we turn the corner of each aisle expecting a giant pickle wielding a spatula from aisle seven to attack us. Hey, it COULD happen, after all, those cookies and candies DO eagerly jump into my cart with the hopes of finding a new home only to be gobbled up by Shrek, The Hulk, Axl M, and Mr. T almost immediately upon introduction into the house.

This particular shopping excursion was different. Yes, the spaghetti noodles still wickedly came alive and wrapped around me, pulling me toward the shelves……..on the cookie and cracker aisle forcing me to listen to the taunts of tempting treats, but I ran into the worst grocery cart driver ever…actually, she ran into me….hard…as if I weren’t there….and it hurt. Perhaps there is a correlation between talking on the cell phone and the ability (or lack thereof) to steer a grocery cart…but upon the abrupt stop of this woman’s cart she gaped at me as if I were the offender…….excuse me while I rub the eighteen layers of skin the front of your cart just scraped off my ankle while I was busy fighting these spaghetti noodles that just so happened to release me when you rounded the corner of this pathway, Miss Talk and Walk.

Fighting back the urge to punch this woman in the face because ‘violence is never the answer,’  as I tell my own children (but in this case I MAY make an exception), I make eye contact with Miss Talk and Walk and she offers a feeble ‘’sorry.’’ Like an idiot and VERY out of character for me, I hear myself offer an amiable, ‘’It’s okay.” Anyone who knows me, knows that normally I would, in a polite but sarcastic way, make this woman feel really embarrassed because she is incapable of driving a grocery cart AND talking on the phone…I mean, what do you have to be to do that–a rocket scientist or something? I have seen little kids strolling through the store chatting on what I am hoping are play phones or at least phones with no service to imaginary friends successfully maneuvering the grocery store obstacle course.

Anyway, back to me:  appalled at my own lack of gusto-ishness (I know not a real word-but really should be) of a response toward Miss Talk and Walk and being once again taunted by the cans of dancing Vienna sausages that I have now stopped in front of,  I’m really thinking,  “Lady, I have run you over ten times with my grocery cart and you have dirty zig-zag tracks all over that pretty little beige shirt you’re wearing…and that phone you seem to can’t part with…well, I ran that sucker over and its guts are strewn all over the produce area.’’  Why do I think this good stuff AFTER someone walks off? It’s like my brain explosion of wonderful creativity is wasted on the rear-side view of a lady with too much lipstick on and a loud and raspy voice that loudly inquires to the voice on the other end if he/she needs any dandruff shampoo.

After what seems to be an hour, okay, fifteen minutes, well…another gross exaggeration—it was really about a minute, I gathered my faculties and start stalking this woman with my own grocery cart.  But see, I’m smarter and much more wittier than she is, while I was applying first aid to my ankle that almost needed to be amputated I found an awesome set of bifocals that REALLY skewed my vision and I ‘borrowed’ them, I wasn’t talking on the phone,  AND I filled my cart full of bags of charcoal briquettes. (I’m not going to mention that I ran down the aisle full speed laughing like a lunatic when I accidentally-on-purpose bumped Miss Talk and Walk and sent that woman flying into the air like a ragdoll substitute in a low-budget movie.)  “Sorry.” 

(Okay, that part happened in my head too…but a girl can dream a little–even if it is of revenge for a fleeting moment–right??)

The aisle the spaghetti noodles typically strap me to the shelves until I promise to take home something yummy....Really, that's what happens....(Photo courtesy of wikipedia)

Wicked Witches HAVE to Like Snack Packs–Right??

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I am sure if the the Wicked Witch had someone to share a snack pack or two with, she wouldn't have been so wicked

“Mean People…”

    “Mean People. ”   This used to be my oldest son, ‘Mr. T’s,’ favorite phrase.  My mom actually taught it to him when he was about 18 months (thanks mom!).  We all thought it really cute when he spouted off  the phrase the first few times at the most inappropriate times……and I really thought it was absolutely hilarious when he the phrase wasn’t directed at me. The phrase stuck with him for a long while. In fact, I am pretty sure that was the single phrase that really sealed his fate on the ‘bad kid’ list with his second grade teacher in Germany. Didn’t really matter though, that lady was related to the Wicked Witch of the West, perhaps she was the Wicked Witch of the Northwest, and my kid with his ‘Flavor Flave’ attitude, was surely on her list of targets anyway. I often imagined her going through the students’ lunch boxes and backpacks during morning recess stealing all their desserts and afternoon snacks delighting in the hopes of making her students’ lunch time and school experiences really suck. I mean, what’s lunch time without a chocolate or vanilla snack pack? Billy Madison even needed one when he went back to school…those things rule!  In retrospect, we probably should have bribed the Wicked Witch with a school year’s supply of her favorite flavors of snack packs, because ‘Mr. T’s’   second grade year was a torturous learning experience for ALL of us.  Hmm…I wonder what happened to that woman?  Perhaps she retired, accepted a transfer, or maybe one day a Capri Sun juice bag was rigged to burst while she was nosily poking about in a child’s backpack and she just suddenly melted away?   The World Will Never Know….

Fact is, like I’ve taught my boys and like I’ve tried to teach each of my students, there ARE mean people out there in our world: people who constantly look for the ‘bad’ in every situation and in every person, people who don’t feel ‘good enough’ with who they are so they need to make others feel just as rotten as they do by spreading their negativity with mean actions, words, or behaviors, and there are some just plain miserable people.  I believe it is one our main goals in life not to become another one ofthose kinds of people.  SO… Your assignment if you choose to accept it, is to NEVER become one of those people….EVER. I know  what you’re going to ask—“Oh, Wise Ophelia, tell us your answer to how we all can forever remain in the “Positive People Posse?” It’s simple. Share a smile…those suckers are pretty contagious. If you live somewhere where you won’t get beat up for assisting someone with their hands full with their grocery cart, help them to their car…just don’t be all weird about it and make the person think you’re a serial killer or anything. Random acts of kindness…sounds cliché, but you really can make someone’s day by leaving an encouraging note on someone’s desk, pick up the baby shoe in the grocery store and look for a one-shoed baby; chances are the shoe matches, and instead of acting like you’re going to punch someone in the face when you two bump into each other on the sidewalk/store/wherever; say something kind and laugh it off—I mean is your shoulder dislocated? Volunteer. Be creative…and if all else fails……share a snack pack…after all, who can resist a snack pack??

Good Mornin’ Darlin’: With a Show Like What I’m Treated To Each Morning, Who Needs Sleep Anyways?

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Yep...I am PRETTY sure THIS is what went dragging out of my room this morning with backpack in tow....

It’s no secret within  my circle of friends and family that I have some serious issues with sleep. In fact, sleep and I have an almost love/hate relationship the equivalent of Pepe Lepu and the evasive kitties he so affectionately and obsessively chased…only I am stinkin’ Pepe!  Ah! The mysteries of love…..yeah, well for me, I use the time awake to think of sick plots to make the boys’ lives as miserable as possible while they still live under the parental roof (at least that’s what they believe). In reality, I am almost ashamed to say, but since I am writing under complete anonymity, I will admit I lead an even sicker and boring life…..(drum roll, please)……I am addicted to old Tom and Jerry reruns and WordPop on my ipad. Hey, it could be worse, I could be eating Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia out of the carton while stuffing my face with last year’s Girl Scout Cookies that I just so happened to find at the bottom of the deep freezer (where I accidentally on purpose hid them from the bottomless pits) while walking on a treadmill wearing one of those plastic sweat producing suits….I’m just saying….

Okay, focus, Ophelia…

So, I have a friend who has little ones who wake up with the sun, well, not really……they wake up BEFORE the sun, but she has them almost trained not to make a lot of noise or roam the house until “it’s a nice day,” meaning until the sun is up….pretty cool idea. (Score one for MOM!)  And well, because they are little, she has to get up with them too…A mom can’t have little cookie monsters running through the house in undies with finger paints in one hand and little debbie snack cakes for breakfast in the other, ya know…..(DOY) Usually, my friend sends me funny facebook messages about what little Cookie Monster Girl or Miss Merry Sunshine has done in the morning because she knows that more than likely my eyelids were finally sewn closed by the tiny little sleep fairies that decided to have mercy on my family.

This particular day, however, my dear friend, Constance, was in for a treat! I was up at o’thirty in the morning and boy! was I in rare form. And I was up for a wonderfully colorful chat.  Why? Would one ask…The only way this can be described is by using the conversation itself:

Friend:  “Why are you up so early?? You haven’t been sleeping well the past few days.”

Me:  “UMMM…..water on-water off; tap, tap, tap; water on-water off; tap, tap, tap; drawer open-drawer close; dog tags and chain jiggle jiggle- jiggle…the sound of Velcro name tags and rank violently being removed from the uniform (SCCRRAATTCHHH about a trillion times)…drawer open-drawer closed; bed flounced upon and I was catapulted into the air as if I were on a half-filled waterbed whilst he commences to haphazardly yanked on his socks. Then, a loud announcement of, “Ophelia, Honey, I am only going to hug you because I have been sick and I have been up and down all night and I hope I didn’t keep you up.” (DOY!!!) Then the bedroom door is opened with so much force one would think the room was being searched by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency……then the door is closed as if an angry teenager was told he couldn’t have the car keys to take his girlfriend to the movies.

Not to mention the door opened again not ten minutes later as if the police were bursting into the room to bring in America’s Most Wanted because he forgot his backpack. Let’s not begin to discuss the noise produced from the plastic closure and the strap on the bag being dragged across the floor before the pack was loudly heaved with a wheeze to his back and he walk out of the room dragging his feet like Quasimodo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I suppose I am being rather dramatic with my descriptions, but with entertainment like this in the morning, there is absolutely NO WAY on Earth I would EVER attempt to try to sleep in.”

Friend:  (Laughing) “You have to write a book about this mess….It’s seriously funny (but not).”

Me:  “Yeah, I know. I should really write when I am in this mood–thing is, I never finish anything, so I’m pretty sure I’d piss my agent and my publisher off and get sued to repay the monies the publisher fronted me and my agent would have some sort of lawsuit to take my house, my dog, and my Ford Pinto from me……”

“…………Hey, is that my car being driven away??”

Hey, Would you Like a Bowl of Glass for Breakfast?

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One contraband item in my house...anyone who is possession of said item will swab the poop deck! (argh!)

It’s no secret in this house that I can’t STAND when people chew with their mouths open. It’s even a running joke at times for the boys to take turns at the table eating like a cow. Another serious pet peeve of mine is  LOUD CHOMPING.  There are a couple of people in my house, that I kid you not, I want taken to the doctor and examined for proof that there is not a tiny megaphone surgically implanted in their mouths that they switch on when they are eating anything that they believe will make the most annoying chomping noises. And I honestly believe they only switch these megaphones on when they anywhere in the vicinity of me. Seriously!

I’ve got a running list of food that I never want to buy again because of the noise made while the guys are feverishly masticating their yummy finds from the cupboards or refrigerator. This list includes but is not limited to: Doritos, Tortilla chips, ANY KIND of cereal, ANY KIND of crackers, hard granola bars, apples, cucumbers, grapes, lettuce, ANY other kind of chip,  ANY kind of hard cookie (soft chew cookies are approved), hard taco shells, croutons, grape tomatoes, bacon (because they like it burned), chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (yes, one can make a noise other than “yum” while consuming this), hard candies of any kind, gum, garlic bread, egg rolls,  and ice. As you can guess, this list gets added to daily, and as I write, I am now adding yogurt to the list. I don’t know how, but a certain someone has just come to read over my shoulder eating peach yogurt and I could swear he was eating chunks of glass instead of spoonfuls of creamy yogurt. Well, there goes something else off the grocery list….

Basically my family will live off of mashed potatoes, warm drinks, vanilla ice cream, oatmeal, quesadillas (as long as they aren’t burned), pizza (except for my husband who has to eat it burned like a hockey puck), spaghetti, soft tacos (without lettuce), and soups without crackers until I can find where those mini megaphones are implanted and have them removed from my family members’ mouths.

Don’t worry, though, I’ll make sure everyone takes a daily vitamin so no one is lacking anything important—wait–they don’t have to chew those-DO THEY??