It’s better now. Every song used to end with the first chords of “Smoke on the Water.”

October 28, 2011 | Posted in Education, Family, Guacamole and Margaritas, Parenting | By

I read somewhere that music lessons help kids develop the part of the brain responsible for mathematical and analytical problem solving. In my effort to control everything around me, I decided that my daughter should take music lessons in order to become an appropriate minion. She’s already gets excellent grades in math, so soon she should be able to rip a hole in the time/space continuum.

When she does, I’m going back to 1990 and walking around in skinny jeans and a halter top-  braless - FOREVER.

And even better, she takes requests! 

Listen for Mr. Buzzkillington at the end.

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So it’s come to this.

September 7, 2011 | Posted in Beauty, Family, Guacamole and Margaritas, Health, Irritation Level: High | By

My next car

I went to the doctor last week to get a prescription renewal for my blood pressure medication. My doctor wants to see me almost every month. I like to think it’s because of my sparkling personality, but it’s probably just to keep tabs on my mental state and to see if my head has exploded yet. The office staff probably has a pool of some sort in place.

He has a new office, in a brand new building. His office is on the second floor, and I almost always take the stairs. He is always telling me to get more exercise, and so this way, when I arrive in his office, 36 stairs later and out of breath, I can say I’ve been getting my heart rate up and not be lying. Also, the elevator smells like what I imagine the bubonic plague smelled like, and I don’t have coverage for one of those hooded beak wearing doctors.

Also, people don’t seem to like it when I start polls on who we’ll eat first if we get stuck between floors.

At the end of this particular visit, he asked me if I had anything else I wanted to discuss. I briefly mentioned a throbbing in my lower leg where (alert: sexy talk ahead) a varicose vein is starting. So he prescribed me a pair of compression stockings.

Compression stockings.

COMPRESSION STOCKINGS.

I am 38 and one half years old. I like Led Zeppelin, frozen margaritas, vintage concert shirts, and Sponge Bob.

COMPRESSION STOCKINGS.

“Is that everything, then?” he asked, gently placing his words between my sobs.

I told him I thought so. Besides, I’ll be there soon again and if I have any questions, I can ask him on my next visit.

Which will likely be about the onset of menopause.

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A brief glimpse of Spring

April 15, 2011 | Posted in Childhood, Family, Guacamole and Margaritas, Parenting, Procrastination tactic, University | By

Today’s post is a re-run from March 25, 2010. I am tabouthisclose to being done with final exams and will be back with new posts next week. I picked this one for today, because I realized that sadly, everything in it is still true one year later.

Actually, I made a few changes. Things are worse.

Enjoy your lovely spring weekend! I’ll be thinkng of you while I’m trapped in a stuffy exam hall for three hours with 250 hung-over and horny University students with Spring fever.

I should fit right in.

It’s Spring! I can tell by the smell of warm dirt, dead worms and neglected dog shit in the air. It’s time for fresh starts, getting outdoors, putting away the Crockpot and eating fresh and clean again. And it couldn’t have come soon enough, because when it comes to healthy eating, I have fallen off the wagon.

Actually, I’ve fallen off the wagon and been run over by the horses who first paused to crap on me. I am lying in the rut in the road with half a burrito shoved into my mouth and pockets full of donut crumbs. There is sour cream under my fingernails, and the vultures are circling. I can’t get up because the muscles in my legs have atrophied from lying on the couch watching my favorite shows, “The Biggest Loser,” and “Food Revolution.”  

But I’m afraid to go back to my weight loss support group. I fear mobs with burning torches will be waiting to run me out for being a bad influence and smelling like limes and guacamole. But that couldn’t happen twice, right?

If I listen closely at night I can hear my treadmill crying out for lubrication.

“I’m dry! So thirsty…I neeeeeed attention…” it wails.

The Wii Fit is getting sarcastic, too. Now when I get on, instead of a little motivational “Hello! You look good this morning!” I get, “Oh. It’s YOU. Forget how to flick an ON switch, did we? Where have you been?  DON’T LIE TO ME! I KNOW YOU ARE SEEING A DSi. I SAW THE BOX!”

I tried in vain to explain that it belongs to my daughter, but the Wii would have none of it, and refused to give me my proper weight, telling me instead that I had gained 4 pounds. (I’d call her a bitch, but I think my laptop and her are having a thing, and I fear what might be repeated during pillow talk.)

But deep down, under this layer of winter padding, I know the Wii Fit is right. So I brushed off my son’s bike helmet, oiled his chain, and we’re back to perfecting his wheelie technique. He rides the bike while I walk the neighbourhood behind him, sniffing the hot BBQ smoke in the early evening air, and dreaming of this weekend’s Maple Syrup festival.

Physical effort aside, our walks have been fun just by the strange things we have found now that the snow has melted. Yesterday we spotted the harbinger of spring in Ontario:  a red spotted….pair of underwear. They were on the front lawn of the local high school.

My son laughed at the silliness of grown-ups and their inability to keep tabs on their underwear. “That’s funny, Mommy! Who loses their underwear without noticing?” 

He’s obviously never been to 2-for-1 Margarita night, or gone out partying with my sister.

 

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Put me in, Coach

March 30, 2011 | Posted in Family, Guacamole and Margaritas, Health, I'm a horrible person, Parenting, Softball | By

I am not an athletic person. I don’t play soccer, I’ve never played ice hockey, I don’t exactly know what the hell “ringette” or “lacrosse” are, and I think I’m supposed to as a Canadian citizen.

My sister’s co-ed softball team has been scouting for ‘talent’ to fill some vacancies in the upcoming season’s line-up. Finding none, they were then seeking ‘experienced’ players. Failing THAT, she approached me about it. Being unsportsmanlike,  I wanted to clear up some probable misconceptions before accepting the spot.

“Refresh my memory. Do people chase you around the bases?”

“You run from base to base after hitting a ball with a heavy stick.”

“Oh. I’ve only ever run when someone was chasing me. And only then when I didn’t have a shiv in my pocket.”

“I can probably arrange to have someone shout obscenities at you if you think that will help.”

“I’m pretty sure that’ll happen organically.”

She went on to explain that I would need to buy a mitt, a pair of cleats, and a good sports bra. Bra shopping  itself is enough to warrant my refusal. The last time I went into a bra store, I cried so hard that a 25-year-old clerk with boobs like August apples had to pat my arm and console me. “There, there… I know it’s hard for ladies with your shape to get good bras. You’re built just like my mother. She has to go to Toronto to buy used rubber belting down at the docks. I bet I can find out the secret password for you…”

I can’t talk about what happened after that until I receive written permission from my lawyer. But I want it noted here that I did send the girl a ‘get well soon’ card with a $5 Starbucks gift card. (And there was at least $1.40 left on the card.)

PM seemed surprised that I had signed on to play softball.

You’re really going to play? With your sister?”

“Yes! Why? It’s a mixed league, so you’re playing, too. What’s the problem? Why is your face sweaty?”

“It’s just…I’m not…But you…and she…this cannot end well.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The problem you have with…the way you guys…”

“WHAT?”

“Jeni, you’ve got some issues. With competition.” In a quiet voice he added, “And athletic skill.”

I assured him I had no idea what he was talking about.

He was on a roll now. “Are you serious? How many drumsticks have we gone through playing Rockband? Then there was the time we played golf with my neighbour, who STILL won’t look me in the face, by the way. And what about the “friendly” game of beach badminton when we were camping last year? Someone put a raccoon in our car afterwards and YOU MADE A NUN CRY.”

Sadly, some of this is true. I am the worst of teammates: woefully unskilled, fiercely competitive, and with an enviable cursing vocabulary. But that nun had it coming.

PM continued to stare at me, but I wouldn’t avert his gaze.  (I’m COMPETITIVE, remember?)

I made cobra fangs with my fingers to indicate my ferocity and finally he broke away. “Fine. I’ll play. Who is our sponsor? And what’s the team name?”

I told him which bar was sponsoring us, and our name: “Wasted Talent.”  

“Fitting. Does the bar serve Guinness on tap?

“Yes. Oh! And apparently they make the best margaritas in town. K says they’re served in two sizes; the “Requires-two-to-lift” tumbler and the “You-Can-Come-Back-For-Your-Pants-Later” bucket.

PM knew he was beat.  He let go a sigh heavy with resignation.  It fell to the floor and formed a dull puddle along with his will to live. He walked away but I heard him mumbling.

“This has ‘police blotter’ written all over it.”

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The list of places I’m not welcome just got longer.

February 8, 2011 | Posted in Childhood, Family, Guacamole and Margaritas, I'm a horrible person, Irritation Level: High, Parenting | By

There’s nothing I have more of than pent-up aggression, and nothing I lack more than a reasonable outlet. So when we were invited to a birthday party where the goal was to shoot people with laser guns, IT WAS ON.

On the morning of the party I gathered the entire group into a huddle and made it clear that I am competitive, peri-menopausal, and overly caffeinated. Most of them held firm, but some left before I could finish my addendum “…and I’m a crazy mo…”  

Cowards.

Oh well. What is it they say about “better to be feared than shown for a gutless nimrod?”

Anyway, I loved this place immediately. It looked like the rec-room of a retired Carnival roadie and smelled like pizza grease and defeat.  I told the instructor I wanted my game moniker to be “Stretch Mark Avenger” but he said that there are names already specific to each gun. I searched, but couldn’t find anything more exciting that “Argus.” I was kinda mad. I already had a shirt made.

“Still, I’d like you to refer to me as “Stretch Mark Avenger, if you don’t mind.”

He continued to ignore me, and showed us to our vests and guns. Then he continued his spiel about game rules and safety issues. There were three adults in our party and several hundred children, and we were about to be set loose together in a dark room with black lights, day-glo paint, loud rock music and secret tunnels. I was clearly at an advantage, since these conditions pretty much mimic my day to day life with kids. Still, for safety sake I had to do the responsible thing and make sure we were all clear about the expectations.

“I have a question.”

“Yes, ma’am?”

“Actually, it’s ‘Stretch Mark Avenger.’ I’m fine with “SMA’ for short, if it’s easier for you. Anyway…I understand from your wall chart how many points we get for hitting our opponents in areas like the chest, the back, etc. But nowhere on your chart does it say what the point value is for hitting someone with the butt end of our rifles. And also, can I trade up for a bayonet? And will this laser remove unwanted bikin line hair? I’m willing to pay extra.”

He asked me to please not move, and called for more security.

While we were waiting, my son asked if he could play some of the arcade games. You pay cash for the games and then win tickets which can then be redeemed for prizes at the Toy Counter. Luckily, I had been out the night before and still had my emergency “bribe the bailiff” $50 in my coat pocket.

I did some quick math and figured that in order to win the biggest prize there (a remote control race car valued at 125,000 tickets) you’d have to spend $5733.25, donate a kidney, and possibly let the ticket taker feel you up in the closet. This last part I wasn’t that opposed to, but I think with my closest friend’s current lifestyles, there may be a market for that kidney soon.

My son won a total of 8 tickets, or enough to be allowed to collect the chewed gum under the party room chairs. He didn’t seem too excited about that option, so I gave him the standard lecture about enjoying an experience for what it was, not what he gets to take home, but he wouldn’t let up. Finally, I told him to just pick something from the treasure chest.

“The what?”

“The treasure chest. Like at the chain restaurants we go to on ‘Kids Eat Free’ or ‘6 for 1 Margarita” nights. You know; the box you get a free toy from.”

“Oh! Where is it?”

“Right there.”

“That box says ‘LOST & FOUND.’”

“They just forgot to change to sign. What do you want to have?”

He rummaged around a bit. “It’s full of wet mittens!

“Well then, be extra careful of that electrical cord hanging in it.” (Parenting tip : Never let a learning opportunity pass you by.)

He chose a crumpled Walmart receipt, a pager, and an El Debarge cassette. And according to the standings, I was the laser tag champion. 

We both left winners.  

 

 

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The Mind is Willing, but the Body Needs a Complete Overhaul

June 30, 2010 | Posted in Beauty, Childhood, Family, Food, Guacamole and Margaritas, Health, Irritation Level: High, Parenting, Tim Horton's | By

If you don’t know what this is for, you shouldn’t be a Doctor.

 

I am 102 years old.

In body. My spirit is still 86 3/4.

I went to the doctor today to get my blood pressure medication refilled. I really like my doctor; he is great with the kids, attentive, respectful, intelligent, and proactive. But he is younger than me, so whenever he tells me anything, I remember that the advice is coming from a man who doesn’t remember when Tim Horton’s served pie, didn’t use a card catalog at the library, and never had to develop the skills necessary to cope with the “WHAM!” years.

My pressure is up and the doctor made his usual recommendations: medication, diet, and exercise. I assured him that I will now walk to get my daily coffee and donut.  I also need to calm down, take it easier, not be so irritable. But how can I relax when there are things in the house not arranged at  right angles and everyone around me isn’t doing what I say?

I mentioned to the doctor that my right shoulder hurt. He asked me to make several movements, including trying to touch my elbows together behind my back. It was like grade seven all over again, except I was wearing cooler pants.

Then I went to have my eyeglass prescription tweaked and now the lenses are stronger than ever. I never worry about losing my glasses, because they are always on my face out of necessity. Without them, the world looks like it has been smeared with Vaseline. Straight lines don’t exist, there are only four colours, and I have to stand in a book to read it. I know that there are permanent solutions for fixing my vision, like laser surgery. But I don’t trust any procedure that starts “Okay, first we slice your eyeball open…”

I picked my daughter up from school and told her that I was hungry and tired, so we were going out for dinner.

It was 4pm.

At the restaurant I had to ask the Mucho Burrito clerk  to repeat herself and SPEAK LOUDER three times before I could hear her. My daughter reports she could hear someone screaming “DO YOU WANT CILANTRO?” and “ANY GUACAMOLE ON THAT?” from the parking lot. Somehow I still ended up with a cheese and bean quesadilla. Not that my dental work could have chewed a burrito anyway.

If things continue at this rate, by October I fully expect to be wearing orthopedic shoes, driving 10km/hr under the speed limit, and voting Conservative.

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Signs of Spring

March 25, 2010 | Posted in Beauty, Childhood, cooking, Family, Food, Guacamole and Margaritas, Health, Parenting | By

Ahh…spring.  Time for fresh starts, geting outdoors, and putting away the crockpot and eating clean again. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Because when it comes to healthy eating, I have fallen off the wagon.

I have fallen off the wagon, been run over by the horses, who then turned around to come back and crap on me. I am lying in the rut in the road, half a burrito shoved into my mouth, and my pockets are full of donut crumbs. There is sour cream under my fingernails, and the vultures are circling. I can’t get up because the muscles in my legs have atrophied from laying on the couch watching my favorite show, “The Biggest Loser.”  And no; the irony is not lost on me.

I am afraid to go back to my weight loss support group. I fear the mobs with burning torches waiting to run me out for being a bad influence and smelling like limes and guacamole. But that couldn’t happen twice, right?

If I listen closely at night I can hear my treadmill crying out for lubrication.

“I’m dry! So thirsty…I neeeeeed attention…” it wails.

The Wii is getting sarcastic, too. Now when I get on, instead of a little motivational “Hello! You look good this morning!” I get,  “Oh. It’s YOU. Forget how to flick an ON switch, did we? Where have you been?  DON’T LIE TO ME! I KNOW YOU ARE SEEING A DSi. I SAW THE BOX!”

I tried in vain to explain that it belongs to my daughter, but the Wii would have none of it, and refused to give me my proper weight, telling me instead that I had gained 4 pounds.

But deep down, under this layer of winter padding, I know she is right. So I brushed off my son’s sparkly bike helmet, oiled his chain, and we’re back to perfecting his wheelie technique. He rides the bike while I walk the neighbourhood behind him, lamenting my lack of motivation, sniffing the hot BBQ smoke in the early evening air, and dreaming of this weekend’s Maple Syrup festival.

Physical effort aside, the walks have been fun just in what strange things we have found now that the snow has melted. Yesterday we spotted the harbinger of spring in Ontario:  a red spotted….pair of underwear  on the lawn of the local high school. “That’s funny, Mommy! Who loses their underwear without noticing?” He laughed at the silliness of grown ups and their inability to keep tabs on their underwear.

He’s obviously never been to 2-for-1 Margarita night, or gone out partying with my sister.

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Look Away…I’m Hideous!

March 11, 2010 | Posted in Beauty, Guacamole and Margaritas, Health, Parenting | By

I have a thing on my face. It’s…it’s not pleasant.

It was there when I woke up yesterday. I felt dizzy lifting my head off the pillow, and it was hard to get up without stumbling. That’s because this thing is huge and using more than his fair share of my blood supply. You know when you have a cold sore or pimple that feels enormous, but when you get a look at it in the mirror objectively, it’s really only a teeny little thing that unless you draw attention to no one else will even notice it?

This was not one of those times.

When I examined it closely, I could see that it was pulsing and a small three fingered hand was trying to push its way out. I laid down a plastic drop sheet in case it burst and called PM to cancel our breakfast plans. I explained that there was a “little something” on my lip and public appearances were effectively cancelled for the remainder of the week.

“How bad could it be?” he asked. “I want bacon.”

“I’m a Petri dish, okay? It’s bad. If I am missing out on bacon and a bottomless cup of coffee, you know it’s not good.” 

This was true – my vanity level is virtually non-existent and even borders on self-loathing. I am the woman who has no problem going out for Margaritas wearing bedroom slippers, and for whom instant oatmeal and blueberries are a valid clothing pattern.

He insisted on coming over to take a look and because he promised me a coffee, I obliged him. When he got here, he took one look and said, “If that thing is still here on Monday, you should probably look into registering it for kindergarten.”

He eventually became more sympathetic , even offering to go to the drugstore to buy me some ointment. He said he’d be right back, but the squealing tires and burnt rubber marks on my driveway say otherwise.

When I picked the kids up after school, I made sure I stood far away from the gathering of parents at the gate. I had tied a scarf around my face, and complained loudly of the “chill in the air” to disguise the strange fact that I was wearing a balaclava and hooded parka when the sun was shining and it was beautiful out. My kids approached me and from 8 feet away my son yelled out, “What’s that thing on your face? It looks like a beak!”

I had to shush him quickly, and asked him to not look it in the eye.

We don’t want to anger it.

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Dr. Cheese Cracker

February 22, 2010 | Posted in Beauty, Family, Guacamole and Margaritas, Irritation Level: High | By

It's my scurvy protection plan. It's called being RESPONSIBLE, people.

It’s been one of those weeks. Nothing spectacularly bad happened; no earth shattering or devastating news to report here. Oh, except that I got old overnight, Conan still hasn’t signed on with Fox, and my varicose vein is still hanging out mid shin. 

I was cruising Facebook, exchanging witty repartee with hundreds of my closest intimates. I had just polished off a box of snack crackers and posted as the highlight of my day something along the lines of: 

Oh, super cheesy Kraft “Cheese Nip” crackers, thou art the devil. 

I hit “post” and went on to read everyone’s updates. I really should have known better. My friends are  awesome, have the hippest social lives and take the best vacations. I bet their houses smell like toasted marshmallows. Mine smells like macaroni salad and 1970’s Tupperware. And fear. 

Over at Facebook  there were the usual requests to “Get this Pickle More Fans than Nickelback,” and various desperate pleas for Farmville farm equipment and Bedazzled jewels.  But there, twinkling like a bedazzled gem amidst the pickle brine was this, addressed to a high school acquaintance of mine: 

You Rock! Congratulations on the completion of your PhD! 

Here’s where if my life were a TV sitcom they’d do a split screen: 

Jeni: mindlessly eating cheese crackers, textbooks with uncracked spines being used as footstool  

Other Girl: At fitting for graduation cap and gown 

Jeni: licking wax paper bag for cheese cracker remnants 

Other Girl: shaking hand of University Chancellor after accepting doctoral diploma 

Jeni: scratching cheese cracker bloated belly with hangnail, while blowing crumbs out of bra with soda straw 

Other Girl: clinking champagne glasses at celebratory dinner involving silver cutlery AND a tablecloth not made from petroleum products.  

Wait. Did you hear that? That was the sound of my withered black soul sucking in a last choking breath, before coughing up phlegm and dying. 

I was pretty upset, and seeing as I had no crackers left to drown my sorrows, PM took me out to a local watering hole.  There we had Margaritas, fancy imported Belgian beers and Blue Cheese Kettle Chips. I checked the nutritional info the restaurant provided, and seeing that the kettle chips had 81 grams of fat per serving , I thought they seemed like an appropriate choice. But to be sure, I also had a BBQ pulled pork sandwich with spicy brown mustard on a pretzel bun. 

Yes. I said pretzel bun. 

Wait. Did you hear that? That was the sound of some vital arteries closing, followed by an audible rise in my blood pressure. The reverberating “ploink” sound was a cholesterol surge.  

When we were leaving the bar PM asked me if I had meant to wear mismatched bedroom slippers. He slipped an arm around my shoulders and said “Don’t worry, hon.” 

“No one is going to even notice while you have all that margarita salt stuck to your chin.”

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Break Out the Tin Foil

February 12, 2010 | Posted in Childhood, Family, Guacamole and Margaritas, Parenting | By

I don’t usually go in for conspiracy theories, paranormal phenomenon or the like. Airplane vapor trails don’t make me nervous, and I am not convinced that free Swine Flu vaccine clinics are really government cover-ups for DNA collection. That’s just crazy.  But when I cover the webcam lens on my laptop with a Sponge Bob band-aid so no one can see that I haven’t brushed my hair in 3 days while I’m cruising Facebook, that is completely different. And normal. Right? Right?  But enough about that. John Lennon and I are meeting Elvis for cocktails.

A few days ago however, I was fitting myself for a tinfoil hat because the END WAS NEAR. I live 20 something miles away from a busy international airport, and on this particular night planes were circling my house in a really weird formation. They were going by like clockwork, every ten minutes or so. It was probably just a few planes in a holding pattern, waiting for clearance to land, but seeing them go by again and again and again was freaking me out. Within an hour I was convinced they were spacecraft. Plus I had just watched “Mars Attacks” and was a bit on edge, having just lost my “World Yodelers Yodel Fest ’05″ CD.

I tucked the kids into bed that night, and pulled their curtains closed extra-tight because extra-terrestrial beings  avoid homes with closed curtains. Although I don’t know why I worry so much; they’d bring my son back with a note pinned to his shirt reading “You can have him. He scares us” inside of 10 minutes.

After a restless night listening to the craft travelling to and fro, I woke up alone in the morning. ALONE. There was no one using my pillow. No one was entangled in my blankets. No one had scotched taped my fingers together, and no one had peed, thrown up, or drooled on me. At home my son has never slept for more than a few hours EVER. Of course on sleepovers at my sister’s house he’s out for 12 hours, or until she sends her three dogs in to start eating his feet.

But this night he slept 9 hours in his own bed. In the morning I lay still when I heard him stirring. I heard the familiar noises of drawers being pulled open and cupboards shuffled through. I listened silently as he got up, made his bed, got dressed, brushed his teeth, and made himself breakfast. I couldn’t believe it, and was about to take a peek to confirm it was indeed him when my daughter woke up. She made similar “getting up” noises, and then I heard them exchanging pleasantries. Then the shower started. 

Shower?

Pleasantries?

SHOWER? PLEASANTRIES?

If the aliens did indeed land and performed scientific experiments  on my children which subsequently caused early morning harmony, independence and pre-teen hygiene, then I say, “Welcome to Earth! Do you like extra salt in your Margarita?”

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