Waterloo in the backyard

Our neighborhood does not contain a whole lot of children.

We did not know that fact when we chose to purchase this home. We (like all the really old folks surrounding us) were lured in by the siren song of the HOA paying for lawn care and snow removal. It has been nice living here, in spite of the guilt I feel when I see all of our 90-year-old neighbors vacuuming their lawns for six hours a day, while my yard sits as the one blight on the street, shamefully un-vacuumed.

And mine the one back literally strong enough to do it. Go figure.

But the kids do not lack for friends. There is a neighborhood adjoining ours that is full of playmates, and at least several days per week there are strangers' offspring rooting around in my pantry for after-school snacks. It's great and I love it.

There is one boy, however, who lives down the street and - for reasons unfathomable to me - hates my children. We have invited him over countless times, and each time our invitation has been met with an excuse about the important date he has with his video games. Shrugging our shoulders, we moved on to other friends, and have not mourned the loss of his company.

The problem with this kid is that he is constantly challenging the neighborhood boys to duels of physicality. A baseball pitching contest. A basketball tournament. A foot race. These challenges are always issued with insults and spite -- and he has yet to win any of them.

He reminds me slightly of Napoleon (Bonaparte, that is, not Dynamite). He is short, angry, and determined to conquer the world and everyone in it.

The problem with the war he is waging on McKay lies with me. I have this innate psycho need to be liked. And to have my children liked. I can't fathom what we have done to offend him, and feel that he must be brought to reason. He MUST not know how awesome we are, otherwise he could not possibly dislike us. Surely, he has just not looked closely at our strengths of character, wit, and charm. I mean, we are likable people! We are funny! We are charming! We I have issues!

I am constantly interjecting into the strategy conferences between McKay and his allies that maybe all Napoleon needs is to be invited over for cookies and ice cream.

These suggestions are met with blank stares and questions regarding my sanity.

Apparently, war is not resolved over homemade chocolate chip cookies.

It is decided on the basketball court with a very short, hateful boy named Napoleon who does not like me my children.

And it is okay.

Or so they tell me, while I sit rocking in the corner mumbling, "But why? Why doesn't he like me?"

Don't worry. I'll be all right. Eventually.

My family versus the volcano


The headache starts first, followed immediately by an overwhelming urge to snap at anyone who talks to me. I feel irritable and annoyed without knowing why. I am put out if I have to answer even the most simple, basic question. It is all I can do to not throw a giant tantrum at the horror and injustice of having to speak. Then, if enough time passes, I start to actually feel hungry.

I don't know what it is, but I feel the irritation first and the hunger second. Am I alone in that?

My kids have learned to recognize it and McKay will often say, "Mom, do you need to eat something?"

The Husband will warn everyone that, "Mom is hangry. Better watch out."

Usually the word "hangry" prompts them all to either clear out and head for high ground or offer the beast some food.

It's like I'm an insatiable volcano - and they fear for their village if they don't offer some sort of sacrifice. Pretty much anything will work. As long as it's food. Or diet coke. Or both.

The Hangry? It feels sort of like the uncontrollable pregnancy hormones (though, um, no. Not what's causing it. I am not now, nor will I ever be again, thankyouverymuch). But it's like the Hangry is raging a war, and I am the vessel with which it attacks. I can no sooner control it than I can part the Red Sea.

Seriously, girlfriend has tried. (Tried controlling it. Not parting the Red Sea. Though it would be awesome if I could, right?)

Best thing to do is just not be hungry. Snack, drink lots of water, and stay on top of the beast.

Anyone else get the Hangry? Please say I am not alone in this?


The Ewww Factor

One day last week, after a busy morning of shopping for myself running errands for my family, I popped through the drive-thru of the local St. Louis Bread Co.

Also known as Panera.

Also known as Delicious.

I have found myself frequently enjoying their salads as of late, and treated myself to the bar-b-que chicken chopped salad. It is full of all kinds of tasty things that blend together to make a most delicious party in your mouth.

The only complaint I have with Panera/Bread Co (besides their affinity with Pepsi products. Ewww.) is that you can't really place a 'made-to-order' order. Everything is kind of already made for you, and they are unable to leave off bits and pieces from your salad that are offending.

Like the onions.

And the peppers.


But I know this about Bread Co and I choose to somewhat accept it. On this particular day, I picked the yuckies out as I found them, and left them in a large rejected pile on the side of my plate. (It reminded me for a moment of those days gone by when I would leave a pile of offensive food on my plate as a child and be forced to eat it all in one bite at the end. Major ewww.)

I've decided what I need is this: I need the Jessica Seinfeld con job for adults. Because if I can't see the onions, peppers, or tomatoes? I will gladly eat them and possibly proclaim the flavor combination to be the most delicious thing I've ever eaten. But if I get a glance at the raw, fleshy look of a chopped onion? GAG. I will not eat it. I know it makes no sense to like the flavor of a food, but not the actual food. And as an adult, I should be rationally able to convince myself that quite possibly I DO like onions and peppers.


[Just writing that made me throw up a little bit in my mouth.]

Do you think Ms. Seinfeld could talk to the fine folks at Panera/Bread Co for me? Maybe they could puree the nasties and slip them into my dressing where I won't notice them?

Anyone else have this issue or am I alone in my crazy?

(Daniel, don't answer that.)

Where is my Joseph when I need him?

A few days ago I had a really bad dream.

You know, one of THOSE dreams where you wake up angry and resentful of your spouse for their behavior in your dream? And for the first hour or so of the day, you can hardly talk to them because the rage feels so real and so part of you?

Yeah. Needless to say, the Husband was thrilled.

He loves when I'm mad at him for no reason.

ANYhoo, I dreamed that the Husband had an affair. AND that he started smoking.

In the dream, I was really, really furious. I hated that he would cheat on me, but felt that I could work through it and forgive him.

What I could not forgive, however, was the smoking.

Oh wise internet, what does that say about me? That I'm highly tolerant or intolerant?