In which I am not (entirely) half-assed

So it’s Christmas time, which means I have to get some kind of gift for three of Bini’s teachers, his two bus drivers and neighbors. Bucket is Way. Too. Cheap. to let me buy presents, so I was forced to bake treats. I got all ambitious, found four recipes for cookies and candy, and decided to make them on Tuesday afternoon, when Tibs got home from school.

Note to self: never try to bake with a six-year-old and a needy toddler who refuses to be put down unless you have a deep desire to be enveloped in a straitjacket. What are you, a moron?

In my case, the answer is YES. Tibs and I managed to make shortbread cookies together before he lost interest. I made peppermint bark before he got home from school, and then started chocolate peppermint cream sandwiches after he abandoned me to go watch Curious George. Noodle finally let me put her down, but then wandered around the kitchen, leaving obstacles on the floor for me to trip over and yell obscenities. By the time Bucket came home, I was a wild woman, covered in flour with crazy eyes and a limp.

And of course, that was the day I had decided to make latkes and blintzes so that I could talk to Tibs about Hanukkah and Judaism. Excellent parenting decision on my part. Because frozen Trader Joe’s lasagna would have been just too easy.

Bucket dipped the shortbread cookies in chocolate while I was taking a bath after dinner. Then I came down and cooked the peanut butter kiss cookies.

Look! Look at the bounty I created! Suck it, Martha Stewart. (Okay, Martha is only jealous if she has suddenly become too drunk or blind to care what her delicious treats look like.)

Only one problem: they didn’t taste good. They were all kind of crusty. But at 10pm, I didn’t care. I put them in festive bags and sent them with Tibs to school.

So yeah. I gave my son’s teachers dog biscuits for Christmas. Good thing he’s not in high school, or I have a feeling I would have just peanut butter kissed college goodbye.

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My #1 would be different

I saw this last night for the first time and can’t stop laughing. Steve’s wrong on one point, though: the enemies should definitely be #1. They should die like pigs in hell!

Goodbye, Glorious General, Who Descended From Heaven

Kim Jong Il died today. I’m sad, not because the loss of his life is anything to mourn, but because we will now be unable to make photoshopped photos of Noodle as the Supreme Leader. You know, like this one:

Have fun in hell, dear leader. At least you gave us a few hours of photoshop entertainment (more, if you count Team America). I hope you don’t mind, but now that you’re gone, I’m taking the title Ever-Victorious, Iron-Willed Commander for myself.

Now I know why they stay home

Today, Bucket called to tell me that England won’t add pages to his almost-full passport. Instead, he has to apply for a whole new one, which means he sends the old one to DC, who orders one from England, who sends one to us. For the grand total of TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY DOLLARS.

Man, I thought, England sucks. Thank God we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, where such things are relatively easy.

Hang on, I just fell off my chair laughing.

We went to get Tibs a new passport today. His original passport has the birthday the adoption agency gave him, which is just wrong and doesn’t correspond with his citizenship papers or his birth certificate. I tried to send the passport to be updated by the State Dept., but those wankers sent it back and told me I needed to apply for a whole new one. They could have just updated it themselves, as they had it in their possession, and contacted me by the phone or email I was directed to list, but instead they just sent it back.

So we went to the post office. Behind every single person in the Western world, who was in line to send their Christmas presents. And we waited. For a half hour. Noodle took her shoes off. Noodle put her shoes on. Bini counted the people in front of us (16, when we arrived). I started to twitch. And then we got to the window.

Despite the fact that we had Tibs’ VALID PASSPORT, the woman wouldn’t let us apply without Bucket’s permission. We needed him to come with us, or for him to get a notarized letter saying it was okay for them to give him THE SAME GODDAMNED PASSPORT HE ALREADY HAS, WITH A DIFFERENT BIRTHDAY.

Only 30% of Americans have passports, I hear. Now I know why. However, I consider this a victory. I managed to get out of the post office without screaming “Are you fucking kidding me?!!!” or collapsing on the ground, needing resuscitation.

As Bucket helpfully added, “This is why I won’t let you have a gun.”

A fat dude in a red suit is coming to town

This morning, I went to the Boston Pops kids’ holiday concert with my mother, Bucket, and the kids. Let us not dwell on how I wore jeans because it was all I had that I could fit into that was clean. Let us not dwell on how my WASP brain was yelling at me the entire time because IT WAS INAPPROPRIATE ATTIRE AND THEY SHOULD HAVE THROWN ME OUT ON MY DENIM-CLAD ASS. I used to have to get dressed up to fly on planes, dude. One does not wear jeans to Symphony Hall. Unless one is white trash, in which case, what the hell is one doing at Symphony Hall? Why is one not home in one’s wifebeater and denim cutoffs, drinking PBR and watching the Patriots, while burping and scratching one’s private parts?

But I digress. The kids were dressed up. At least my children are socially acceptable human beings.

Tibs and Noodle loved it. They danced, they sang, they pretended to conduct. And then, Santa came.

I’m not going to lie: I am a huge bitch. However, I am a huge bitch with a weepy side. I cry all the damn time. Now that Oprah is off the air, my crying allowance has decreased enormously, but I still cry at those goddamned Hallmark ads with the sons coming home and surprising their families, and the Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials (if you don’t cry at those, you have no soul, BUCKET), and any time someone is bullied in a TV show or movie, even when it’s supposed to be funny.

And so Santa busted into Symphony Hall, and I looked at Tibs, waving wildly to get his attention, and I cried a little. Shut up.

I thought about how three years ago, right about now, the Ethiopian courts made us his parents. And how three years ago, he was living without a family in an orphanage with 40 other kids. And how three years ago, despite living in an orphanage, he was living in a country where people had somewhat sensible beliefs.

And now, here he is in America. Where it makes sense to tell kids that hey! It’s Easter! When you go to sleep, a magic bunny is going to sneak into your room and leave you a ton of candy to rot your teeth. Way to come back from the dead, Jesus! And hey! You lost a tooth? A fairy is going to sneak into your room and steal said tooth and give you some money for it! Body parts = good money! And hey! It’s the last night of October, so get dressed up in terrifying costumes and demand candy from complete strangers with the threat that you will torch their house if they don’t give it to you! If people don’t give you what you want, you must punish them! And hey! It’s Christmas! A fat dude in a red suit is going to fly to your house in the middle of the night with a bunch of magic reindeer, and he is going to squeeze down your chimney and leave you presents. Thanks for being born, Jesus!

Bucket says this all the time, but this time he’s right. Americans are messed up. I love that Tibs loves his elf and Christmas and thank God he has a family and it’s mine, but don’t get me wrong. This is a weird fucking country.

My baby is delusional

Noodle has suddenly mastered the word no. Except that she doesn’t just say no, she says nooooooooooo in a highly dramatic manner. She spent all day walking around the house saying nooooooooo noooooooooo noooooooooo to herself.
This is the conversation that just occurred at our dinner table.

Me: Do you love Mama?

Noodle: Nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Me: Do you love Abbat (Bucket)?

Noodle: Nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Me: Do you love Tibs?

Noodle: Nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Bucket: Are the Red Sox going to win the World Series this year?

Noodle: nodding.

Aw, bless her. Now, we’re off to the mental hospital to have her committed.

Back on the Christmas train

Someone out there must have heard all my Christmas bitching, because today is looking a lot better than yesterday.

First, these pants arrived in the mail yesterday. Sweet Jesus, they’re so soft and comfortable. I don’t know if I will ever take them off (lest you think I jest, there are some days I don’t put anything fancier than sweats, as Bucket and Tibs can attest. See? A little Christmas rhyme. That’s how much better I’m feeling). I might have to buy 100 pairs.

Second, I ordered Noodle’s Christmas present from this awesome website. As if the stuff they sell isn’t rad enough, they appear to have The World’s Best Customer Service (suck it, Toys R’ Us!). When I ordered the art table late last night, I must have been very sleepy, because I received the following email today:

Thanks for supporting Pure Play Kids and battery-free, creative childhoods.
Just a quick two questions:
1. I’m from MA originally, so I am going to hazard a guess that the Alaska on your address was inadvertent.
2. I just want to confirm that you want the art table but not the stool.
Thanks again,
Mike

Mike, I think I love you. You’re right. I do NOT live in Alaska, and thanks so much for double-checking! And I wish we could get the stool as well, but we’re going to wait and see.

Third, it seems that all the grinchy bastards I’ve been hitting up for donations for the nonprofit’s silent auction have also had a change of heart! In the past 24 hours, I’ve received donations from the Red Sox, the Bruins, the Portland Sea Dogs, Six Flags New England and the New England Aquarium. (New England Revolution, you are dead to me.) I might be able to pull this auction thing off yet!

Noodle is sleeping now, so I am going to have some soup and tea and clean my living room before I take Tibs to the post office for his new passport and all this goodwill dissipates forever.

Feeling grinchy

As my super-grinchy husband will tell you, I’m a whore for Christmas (Not a literal whore, people. Who wants to be working the corner in this weather?). But the past few days have been getting me down, and I don’t like it. And trust me when I tell you that the only thing worse than a half-assed mama is a cranky half-assed mama (just ask Tibs).

It started yesterday when I took an entire carload of donations to Big Brothers/Big Sisters. I wanted to donate to Horizons for Homeless Children, but they are very specific about what can be donated, so BBBS won. Every year, we go through the things we need and don’t need. Bucket and I do it, and we do it with Tibs so that he understands that a: he doesn’t need a lot of crap around to make him happy and b: there are kids out there with nothing who would be delighted to play with the shit he doesn’t use. So we had a ton of stuff this year.

Noodle and I drive over to the supermarket parking lot where there’s supposed to be an attended donation booth. Said booth was in fact an open storage container with no one in it. I started unloading the stuff, and a car pulled up. A woman got out, walked over and started looking at the boxes. At first, I thought she was going to take off with them, but then she started loading them into the container without a word to me. I unloaded an entire car’s worth of clothes, books and toys and she said two things to me:

1. “We can only take two boxes of books.” (WTF?)

2. “Do you want a donation receipt for your taxes?”

No thank you or anything. Now look, I don’t expect to be sainted here, but I brought all this stuff to them because I wanted them to have it before Christmas, and that’s it? She did tell me to have a good Christmas when I was leaving, but that pissed me off too. How does she know I’m not Jewish? Or Muslim? Or Wiccan (which is sounding pretty good right now)?

On the way home, I put the rest of the books in a book donation bin I passed on the street, and I kept a bag of coats to give to another charity, because BBBS has annoyed me for the third time (story for another day, perhaps along with the tale of how I broke up with the Salvation Army).

Cut to today, when I drive two towns over to pick up some of Tibs’ presents at Toys R’ Us. I had bought them online, and they could only be picked up at the store. Calling the woman at customer service surly was an understatement. She snatched the receipt from me, couldn’t get the computer to work, gave me the stinkeye when she had to go use another computer (because I was clearly responsible for the faulty computer), and then, after taking forever to find them in the cupboard, despite there being about three boxes in there and mine being clearly marked with my name, thrust them at me and told me the internet printout was my receipt. She was the portrait of good cheer.

Again, I understand that working at Toys R’ Us this time of year must be about as much fun as being the UPS man at Christmastime (I swear, our UPS dude is going to need back surgery from our gifts alone). I used to work at the Gap in a Maine tourist town overrun with tourists. People suck. I get it. But this is your JOB. And you’re working under a big sign that says CUSTOMER SERVICE (although, to be fair, given how long it took her to find my bag of stuff, her literacy skills must have been lacking).

And as I was writing this, our mailman just brought our mail to the porch after coughing all over it and hocking a big loogie into our lawn.

These are the reasons that I am a virtual agoraphobe, people. You’re allowed to be dinks the rest of the year, but not at Christmas. You being dinks at Christmas just proves to me that I am unsuited to be around humankind at any time of year. So cheer the frig up. Be grateful that you have a job, even if it’s manning the donations bin at Stop n’ Shop or working at Toys R’ Us customer service. Be happy you can walk and stand and talk and breathe, because lots of people can’t. In short, stop being assholes.

See? G-R-I-N-C-H-Y.

This will warm your heart

On Friday, Tibs got off the bus looking funny. He made it to the front steps before he burst into tears. “Mrs. H said she would give me and Mohammed spy glasses today but she didn’tttttttt!”

He’s been talking about Mrs. H for a while. She is a teacher at his school, and months ago, she told him and his friend Mohammed that she would give them some spy gear. On Friday, she said she would give it to them at the end of the day, but then she didn’t come to the class.

I tried to calm him down. I told him he could get them on Monday. Noooooo, because his regular teacher (you know, the one who sends home the wrong homework and then gets annoyed when people don’t know how to do it and makes them do it again the next night) said they could only have the glasses on Friday. He wanted me to go back to the school and find her. No deal. Noodle was sleeping, and I thought the teacher would have already left.

So he and I are sitting in the chair, and he’s sobbing and sobbing and suddenly, there’s a knock on the door. It’s Mrs. H with the glasses. She looked up our address and brought them over because she had promised them to Tibs. When she saw how upset he was, she was especially glad she had come over. It turns out she lives about a half mile away, and she invited him to come to her house someday.

Unsurprisingly, she LOVES Tibs. People always love Tibs. This is mostly because he is a very sweet kid, but also because he’s living in the bubble. On her way out, she told me she had heard such good things about me and Bucket, which was rare, because usually she only hears about bad parents.

So there I was, all warm and fuzzy, watching Tibs run around with his new spy glasses (which are orange plastic sunglasses), until I looked in the mirror and realized I had about 15 poppyseeds stuck in my teeth from lunch.

It doesn’t matter. Mrs H is getting some sweet Christmas cookies from us this year.