Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The fun just keeps on comin'

It's Wednesday and I'm finally getting around to writing about what I did with the kids on Sunday. Should I have written about it Sunday night? Yes, of course. But I was wiped out from trudging around an apple-less apple orchard.

Okay, maybe it wasn't completely without apples--we did get 17 pounds worth, as my weak arms and wallet can attest.

But I'm used to the orchard we've gone to for years. The orchard that gives you a hayride to the trees, which are loaded with apples that everyone can reach. You get back on the haywagon, pay and leave. It's virtually stressless.

This year, I decided the usual place was too "usual." Let's live on the edge, kids, and drive an hour to a place we've never been before. It didn't have a petting zoo or live music like some of the others that were listed in the paper, but it was set in the countryside, so we would kill "Football Sunday" time getting there.

But first, we had to get a new picture taken. Because mom felt like she looked like trailer park trash in the first photo that went up on the site. (Why the old picture is STILL on the site is beyond me. Mike, get ready to rumble!) Then, we stopped to get money, then stopped to get gas. At this point, it was 2 in the afternoon and Ryan announced, "My belly's grumbly." So--FINE--let's get lunch. God knows it's dangerous to be hungry in an apple orchard--you might pass out from lack of sustenance.

We ate at a place that was actually great--good food served on an outdoor patio on a beautiful day . Other than the tarantula-sized spider that had to be taken out with a stun gun, it was perfect. We killed an hour there.

We got in the car and I remembered the newspaper advised to call ahead to to the orchards to confirm when they're open and that they have apples. I call the orchard, and get a recording. It runs through a list of 26 different types of apples that it has--just ripe for the pickin'--and then states place will be closing at 4:30. We were about 45 minutes away. It was 3:15 at that point (it takes a long time to listen to 26 different apple names), so that meant we'd have about a half-hour to pick apples. Who says my outings are poorly planned? But, in my defense, we should have been able to get plenty of apples in half an hour. THERE WERE 26 TYPES LISTED!! And the recording didn't end with a speed talker advising me that, "All 26 varieties are subject to availability, zero financing available, not applicable by law," or something. But it SHOULD have said, "Just how badly do you really want these apples?"

Whatever, we get there, and join the other unpaid migrant suburbanites who were wandering aimlessly in the orchard, desperate to contrive a day in the country for our kids. One romantic, childless couple joined us in the Jonagold section, where there were about 10 pieces of fruit left on the very tops of the trees. The guy, camera around his neck, nearly strangled himself climbing the tree to procure the elusive treat for his love. This, despite the "NO TREE CLIMBING" sign bobbing in his face. Of course, my kids see this and tell ME to start climbing the trees. I'm like, "He's just showing off so she'll fall in love with him. You guys are stuck with me. I have no reason to engage in derring-do. So stop crabbin' and keep walkin'." See, that's REAL love.

In the end, we managed to find a few rows of "I don't know what kind these are" apples. They aren't MacIntosh, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious or Granny Smith, otherwise known as "regular" apples. These had names like "Bruce," I think. I was stuck carrying mine and Ryan's bags, plus my purse, which, by mom-law, weighs in at about 78 pounds. By the time we got back to the car, it was 5:30, and past my coffee time. My arms were tired, my brain was cranky. And all that was nearby was a lousy Dunkin' Donuts. And by that I mean, a Dunkin' Donuts. I got a coffee, they each got a donut. The orchard got its trees cleared and we paid for the privilege.

Next year, I want a petting zoo and live music for my trouble. And maybe some hard cider....

Saturday, September 25, 2004

What, me crabby?

So, I'm writing a post, when what I should REALLY be doing is writing for the people who actually PAY me. Ahem, Mikey.

I actually feel pretty good right now. I succeeded in getting to the floor surface of my daughter's room. Because, since about April-ish, we haven't really seen her floor--what with all the T-shirts, socks and other clothes that couldn't walk their own way into the hamper. You can't train clothes like you used to, ya know? There was also a lot of "art projects"--things made from twisted up paper, paper clips, elastic bands--stuff that really didn't look like art so much as garbage can candidates. So, while she was at school this week, I logged about 25 hours in her room getting rid of bags of junk like really important worn-out hair elastics, crumbled notes with really important statements like "Clue #4" on one side and nothing else on the other, really important invitations to get a free Bratz tote when she buys another Bratz item, which should never EVER happen considering the "gently used" (read: never used) Bratz items she currently owns should all seem BRAND new.

Organizing--it's a tough job, and I'm not the best person to do it. "Mike, look at this toy from when Cara was three! We should keep it for the memories." In actuality, the toy lost the right to take up residence about six years ago.

But if left to Mike, the whole room would just be thrown in the garbage can. His idea of organizing is black trash bags at the curb. I, meanwhile, try to sort by what Ryan could still like, what Cara might still like, what can be given to friends, what can be put in a charity bin and what can just go in the garbage. What I call organizing, Mike calls a waste of time. But the last time I let him "organize" without me--which was years ago--we lost kid bikes and ride-on toys that were still IN HEAVY ROTATION! He was quite pround that the garage looked neater. Meanwhile, I nearly had an aneurysm in my effort to not actually strangle him. To this day, when something goes missing, he's knows he's guilty until proven innocent.

So, what's on the Sunday plan for this weekend? Well, with my organizing done (except for the basement toys, our entire attic and our garage) the kids and I will take some kind of day trip. This week's paper ran it's annual list of apple picking sites, so we'll probably do that as long as the weather's good. Some places offer just apple picking. Other's have apple picking and hay rides. And some have apples, hayrides, pony rides and a petting zoo situation. Or I can just base the choice on distance from our home. Because, with my kids, half the fun is definitely not "getting there." No, for them, half the fun is getting what mom planned to give them, and then begging and pleading for mom to give them more. At which point, the "fun" comes to a "pause" while I dissolve into a stream-of-consciousness tirade with the word "ingrates" invoked several times, Ryan crys, and Cara grouses.

...But it's all good.

Monday, September 20, 2004

On second thought

Okay, I know I ain't too quick on the uptake, but it dawned on me that Mike gave me this blog so I could complain online instead of to him directly. Ingenious. All husbands should take note. Wife: "Do you know how tired I am? Do you know what pains in the ass these kids were today???" Husband: "Honey, I'll tuck the kids in. Why don't you write it all down on your blog, and you'll feel so much better." To himself: "And leave me the hell out of it!"

I took the kids to the outdoor art fair Sunday. They were into it until we got there. Then, they complained bitterly until I got them each an Italian ice. Which actually worked out, because I wouldn't let them into any booths with their treat--"Stand right here where I can see you, but don't come in with that sticky mess!," and I got to look at a few things without them moaning. Of course, as soon as the ice was gone, they started in again. It's their job and they do it well.

By the end, my son told me his legs were tired and his feet were sore, so, "Can we go to the park now, Mom?" ...It all makes sense when you're four.

I had to hit up Starbucks first. After the park, where my daughter got nauseous because she was reading and swinging at the same time, we picked up groceries "for our dinner tonight. We'll have chicken. For our dinner tonight. This is what we're eating TONIGHT." We get to the parking lot and Ryan says, "Can we get pizza at Ray's now? I'm hungry." Is it me?? When I say no, he starts yelling wildly in his car seat. But isn't it great when you can just slam the car door and all that yelling just goes away. Until you get to the driver's side door, open it, and it's still there...."I'M HUNGRY NOW!! I DON'T LIKE CHICKEN!! I WANT PIZZA!" Then Cara chimes in, "JUST SHUT YOUR MOUTH RYAN! YOU'RE HURTING MY EARS! MOM! MAAAAHHMMM!"

Cut to Mike, on the sofa in the basement, TV quietly droning. "....and when we come back, it's Jets ball."

See, ingenious.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Week 2--The fun continues

My husband generously described this blog as being written with "sharp and witty" comment. I'm not sure where that came from. Probably just another attempt to keep me a-smilin' while he's holed up with his NFL Sunday Ticket, the computer and the phone.

There's an outdoor arts and crafts show taking place at a park nearby Sunday. I may take the kids there. It's a good place to find unique arty and crafty things if you're looking for arty and crafty things for under, say, $1,000. Well, MOST are under $1,000. I don't think it's actually billed as an arts & crafts show. That makes it sound a little down market. I think it's got an "Art in the Park" type title. So people don't choke on their Coke when they see the $200 throw pillow.

I COULD just keep the kidlets happy with a visit to a dollar store. I usually only go there when I need a gift bag for a party we're actually on the way to. Why I don't buy five at a time is anyone's guess. Perhaps because I'm not organized enough. But that's another issue--one that I'm usually not thinking about when I fly into the dollar store parking lot with the present in the front seat, price tag still on it, and an un-signed birthday card under it. If I could leave the kids in the car without getting greeted by a police office upon my return, I swear I would. So, as we head into the store, I drill them: "No begging. We're not here for you. I'm just getting a gift bag and then we are LEAVING!" Not two feet into the store, and I'm hit with dueling, "Hey, look at this really cool ___." It could be a pack of colored tooth picks and they'd be begging for it. As a result, I'm tossing around the idea of saving a lot of money this Christmas by just dropping $50 on a pile of junk from the dollar store. "Wow--a neon yellow vegetable peeler. Thanks, Santa!" It's an idea.

Soon enough we'll be doing trips to the country for apple picking, pumpking picking, corn mazes. Of course, each of these trips is done separately to keep knocking weeks off the football schedule. Before we know it, it'll be Halloween, which actually falls on a football Sunday this year. THAT ought to be interesting. Me: "Mike, the kids want to go trick-or-treating. Do you want to come with us?" Mike: "What are you, CRAZY?!?" Me: "Mike, I'm going to be taking the kids trick-or-treating. Can you give out the treats to the kids that come to our door?" Mike: "What are you, CRAZY?!?" I may as well plan now to buy extra candy--as the bowl will just be left on the doorstep all day with our homey, traditional "Happy Halloween! Help yourself!" Post-it note.

Well, they're fighting over the SpongeBob video game controller. Better sign off for now....