Welcome to Snarkfest

Welcome to my snarky corner of the web. Join me as I discuss everything from wine to chocolate. There may be a few other topics mixed in there too. I talk a bunch about my amazing offspring, 16 and 14. I sometimes go on and on about my secret crush on the amazing Mike Rowe. I talk about things that irritate me or things that make me happy. Sometimes I just talk to hear myself talk. Feedback is always appreciated but please make sure it's respectable. No nudity or profanity. I'm the only one allowed to be profane. But any and all snark is welcome and appreciated!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Do as I say, not as I do...

There is danger all around us. And there are double standards as well. I've got a post up on BlogHer today about keeping my kids safe from predators when I could be putting my own self at risk. Where is that line between what is okay for me to do and what is NOT okay for them? Read my post here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday! Let's get miserable!

Here's a memory I wish I could forget on this foggy Throwback Thursday morning. It was March of 1999. I was pregnant with 14, and 16 was just about 18 months old. Like knuckleheads, we thought it would be awesome to take our adorable 18 month old to Disney World! What a great idea! And root canal with no novocaine! And labor with no drugs!! And lighting ourselves on fire! All fantastic ideas!

The trip itself was actually fun. I'm not sure exactly how much of the trip 16 remembers, but there's one part of the trip that I will never forget. Like, ever.

The day we were to fly back home to New Jersey was a beautiful Florida morning. Bright and warm and sunny. It would've been a wonderful day to spend in any number of the Disney parks. Or Sea World. Or Universal. Instead, we spent the day in hell.

Our flight was due to depart at 10:00 a.m. So like good little travelers, we arrived at the airport 2 hours early. We had called the airline that morning (here's a hint: our airline rhymed with FEAR-IT) and they confirmed that our flight was, indeed, on time. GREAT NEWS! We'll be home by lunch time! Or so we thought. Upon checking in at 8:00 a.m. the desk agent informed us that the flight was still on time. Yay us! We checked our luggage, went through security with no problems and headed to our gate to wait for our on-time plane! What could possibly go wrong?

At 9:30 a.m., an announcement came over the speakers that all passengers on Fear-It Flight 666 should report to the gate attendant at the desk. We all wandered over and were told that apparently, our plane, (which was due to arrive from Atlantic City after it left Detroit) had not yet taken off from Detroit. Wait, what? Our plane was originating in Detroit, then heading to Atlantic City to pick up Disney World bound Atlantic City folks and was bringing them to Orlando by 9:30 a.m., and then taking us home at 10 a.m. Are you with me so far? Good. Well, the black box on that plane was not functioning properly. So it never took off from Detroit. And they didn't have another plane in the back. Who doesn't have a spare plane on hand for just such emergencies? Seriously.

We asked how long the delay would be and were told "possibly an hour". Maybe it was going to take them an hour to find a spare plane. Or a spare black box. Who knows. The point is, we expected that we were going to be delayed for an hour.

2 hours later, still no plane. At 11:45, they told us that it shouldn't be too much longer. To me, that means that maybe by 12:30, 1:00 at the latest, there would be a plane there to take me, my husband and my 18 month old child, who had not yet had her afternoon nap, back to New Jersey. I could not have been more wrong.

At 1:00 p.m., I was getting more and more aggravated. Remember when I mentioned that it was a beautiful, warm, sunny Florida day? One that could've been spent in an amusement park. Instead, we spent it inside the Orlando International Airport, trying to amuse an 18 month old cranky child. There are only so many games of Patty-Cake, I-Spy and Find Something Yellow that you can play before you're ready to see just how fast TSA agents can respond to terroristic threats.

Every hour that went by, they told us "it shouldn't be too much longer". Fucking liars. They should all be ashamed. Their pants should've all caught on fire.

By 3:00, the 18 month old was so cranky she was physically slapping me from sheer exhaustion. Truly, a slap-happy child, but she refused to try to sleep. At 4:00, they gave us all vouchers for food. We found a pizza place and stuffed our faces with $14 worth of pizza and sodas. At 5:00, I was looking for something flammable to light myself on fire.

At 6:00, new folks started showing up. It turns out there was another flight leaving for Philly at 7:30. Awesome! It totally made sense for them to let US, the 10:00 a.m. flight passengers get on the 7:30 p.m. flight back home, right? WRONG. We watched in horror as those 7:30 p.m. flight passengers were allowed to walk onto that plane while we sat with our noses pressed against the glass. FEAR-IT Airlines policy is: "Why piss off 2 plane-loads of people when you can just doubly piss off one plane-load?" It's a great marketing strategy. I don't understand why more companies don't use it.

Finally after being told all. day. long. that it shouldn't be too much longer before we were allowed to take off, a mere 12 hours later than our original flight was schedule to leave, we were allowed to board a plane at 10:00 p.m. My 18 month old was tired, my 35 year old husband was cranky, and my 32 year old self was ready to stab someone in the eye with a pen. A pencil would do. Or a crayon. I wasn't picky.

On the flight, they handed out pens and paper and allowed us all to write a letter to the management of FEAR-IT airlines, describing our plight. I'm guessing the flight crew used those letters to wipe their dirty asses. We were told that they were going to give us all a $100 credit towards a future FEAR-IT airlines flight. As if I would EVER fly that airline again. If it was the last airline on the planet and I had to get somewhere, I'd put a saddle on my dog and ride him before I'd ever get on a FEAR-IT plane again.

Oh, and one last little nugget. To add insult to an already hellaceous, horrific nightmare of a day, my 18 month old threw up all over herself as soon as she was buckled into her car seat for the 10 minute drive home. Put that in your #tbt pipe and smoke it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Judgin' Like Judy...

I must make a confession to you 6 fans of Snarkfest right now. I am a judgey mom. A Judgey-McJudgersen, if you will. I joked with a fellow band parent this weekend that while others may try to see the reason behind the decisions people make (or don't make), I very rarely give ANYONE the benefit of the doubt. So I tend to be judgin' like Judy. Judge Judy, for those of you who are scratching your head and wondering. NOT Judy Blume. NOT Judy Garland. Judge Judy. I'm pretty close to being one of the most judgmental people ever.

I will admit, it's not a very nice trait. I wish I COULD be more open-minded and understanding. But I tend to judge first and ask questions.....never.

I read this post from my friend Christine over at Keeper of the Fruit Loops and applauded her for putting up her volunteer pledge. And it got me to thinking. I'm a volunteer. Scratch that, I'm actually an OVER-volunteer-er. It's a thing, I swear. I'm a judgmental over-volunteer-er. I go to meetings and everything! And I usually volunteer to bring snacks.

But when it comes to parents who volunteer for NOTHING, I judge. I judge very harshly. Put it to you this way: 172 kids in the high school band this year. 2 of them are mine. I volunteer as the band booster Vice-President, I volunteer to chaperone trips, I volunteer to work in the concession stand during Friday night football games. I spend one night each summer at band camp and then help out in the kitchen the following morning serving breakfast (remember the Egg Nazi?).  You get the idea. I'm involved.  And I'm of the mindset that if you have a child involved in an activity, you, too, should be involved. But sadly, those of us with kids in the band see the same parents over and over. We work with the same group of parents every Friday in the concession stand, we see the same parents chaperoning band trips, the same parents volunteer at band camp, the same parents come to the monthly booster meetings. 172 band kids. Less than 50 involved band parents. Hashtag frustrating! (did I do that right?)

Last week I attended the parents meeting for 14's high school volleyball team. The team mom that they've had for a few years had recently taken on a new job and needed to be LESS involved. I totally get that. Working full time and having other kids at home, I TOTALLY get that some parents need to back off a little from volunteering. But that's when I feel that it's the responsibility of other parents to step up. Other parents who aren't ME. 14 turned to me and mouthed "You should be team mom!!!" "You should stop talking!" I mouthed back with a smile. No way. There's no way I can take on another responsibility. Not when there are 25 other sets of parents who are more than capable of taking over as team parent. I signed up to work the volleyball concessions stand, to bring snacks to games and to donate food to the stand to sell. But I have to draw the line at taking on being 'Team Mom'. Let someone else do it.

And that's the problem. More and more people are saying 'Let someone else do it' and less and less people actually ARE. And I don't look at the reason behind this lack of stepping up. I just judge. I'm jaded. I judge the parents who show up to football games with their spouse who think they're doing their part by buying some popcorn and a soda. Hey, Sparky, how about coming in so that one of US can go watch our kids perform in the halftime show?

That's my problem. There may be a very good reason WHY some folks can't volunteer to help out. But I'm so jaded by lazy-ass parents who aren't motivated to lift a finger to help out, that I lump ALL parents who don't help out together into one big cluster of lazy. It's something that I need to work on. Someday, when I see lots of different faces stepping up to the plate, maybe then I won't be so quick to judge. But for now, I will accept that I'm judgin' like Judy and then I'll go bake some brownies for the volleyball team's car wash this weekend (which I will, of course, be working).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Being a parent is hard, yo!

As I prepare to begin my oldest's last year of high school and my youngest's first, I can honestly say I'm filled with so many different emotions:

Fear: What if my oldest doesn't get into a good college and is forced to continue living at home and working at Dairy Queen? Free Blizzards aside, it would be awful for both her AND me. I love that girl, but she needs to learn the responsibility of getting up on her own, getting out the door on time and becoming a mature, responsible person. She is almost 17 and is too old for me to be her personal alarm clock. When I was finishing up my senior year of high school, my mom had moved up to Atlantic City from where we lived in Wildwood because she took a casino job and the 2 hour round trip commute was just too much. She came home on her days off, but I was left with the responsibility of getting myself to and from school, on time, every day. If I made a mess, there was no one else in the house to clean it up. Me thinks almost-17 needs a taste of responsibility.

Sadness: So many of my friends have high school graduates who are either going off to their first year of college or returning for their second year. Those young adults are spending less and less time at home. Some have on-campus jobs that require them NOT to come home for the summer. Forgetting everything I've written up there in that first category, how can it be that in just a year, my oldest will be leaving me, possibly for longer than I'm ready to have her gone? Last week she was a curious 5 year old running up and down the soccer field chasing a soccer ball with 12 other 5 year olds. Just this weekend she was an awkward middle schooler with glasses and braces. And wasn't it only yesterday that she was starting out her freshman year of high school, curious about making new friends and enjoying her time as one of the only 2 freshman on the varsity basketball team? What happened??

Pride: I could NOT be more proud of this child if I tried. Sometimes I'm so filled with pride I feel like I could explode. She's become such an amazing, beautiful and talented young woman that sometimes it's hard to get mad at her for missing the bus. I said sometimes. She's funny as hell, she is helpful to those around her, she's great with kids, patient and kind (kids who aren't her sister, that is). There is another reason that I'm so proud of her that I will talk about another time, but suffice it to say, she's pretty freaking awesome and I wonder how it is that we've raised such a great kid. She didn't come with instructions, yet we've managed to do something right, because she continues to make me proud almost daily.

Excitement: Am I scared to death? Yes. As her mom I'm frightened, since the future is so unknown, but she's smart and will do wonderful things. When she puts her mind to something, there's no stopping her. So I'm excited for her as she enters her senior year in high school and I know that this will be a year full of crazy fun memories for her, and I'm so excited and happy for her that she's as outgoing as she is, with a fantastic group of friends whom I love. Knowing what a great year she'll have definitely leaves me excited for her. But then come graduation, go back and read this list in order. Then repeat.

Being a parent is hard, yo.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Is knowledge really power?

When I was about 18 weeks pregnant with 14, my husband was on his 2 weeks of active duty with the Navy, and was serving in Japan. Shortly before he left, I had gone for some prenatal testing, and thought nothing of it when I drove him to the airport and said goodbye.

Several days later, my OB-GYN called to inform me that my Alpha-Fetoprotein test came back positive, and she was scheduling me to have an amniocentesis later in the week. My head was spinning. What the hell is alpha-fetoprotein? What does it mean? Is my baby going to be born with two heads? Seriously, what the hell??

She explained to me that this test is done to determine the possibility of birth defects in a fetus, and since mine came back positive, there is a possibility that the baby could have several issues, including Downs Syndrome. The urgency in her voice scared the piss out of me. Literally. She said that I absolutely NEEDED to go and have an amnio done to fully determine whether or not the baby I was carrying would have issues after delivery, and the reason it was so important that they schedule me, pretty much right then and there, was because I was at 18 weeks, and would only have 2 weeks to decide if I wanted to terminate the pregnancy, pending the outcome of the amnio.

Terminate the pregnancy.


End the pregnancy?

Get rid of the baby?


Commence the head spinning again. There I was, home alone with a year and a half old toddler, 18 weeks pregnant and my husband in Japan. He would be in Japan until after my 20 week mark. Termination never even crossed my mind. Why in the world would I terminate the pregnancy if there was an issue with my baby? And why in the WORLD would I go for an amniocentesis, even with the slightest risk of miscarriage, if my husband was out of the country? Reason was gone, my brain shut down, I couldn't think straight. I also had no way to reach my husband. He usually called me once a day, and had already done so that morning.

I told my OB NOT to schedule me for anything until I had a chance to speak with my husband. She argued that it was imperative to my pregnancy that I schedule this appointment ASAP. I argued back that there was no freaking way in hell I'd be going for an amnio without my husband by my side.

Time stood still.

The next day when my husband called, I told him all that my OB had told me. He asked what I wanted to do, and I told him that at that point in time, I wasn't going to consider terminating the pregnancy, no matter the outcome of the amnio. If we needed to go for genetic counseling, then so be it. If we needed to learn how to deal with a special needs child, then so be it. But I wasn't going to risk a miscarriage, and I did not want to do anything to put myself or the baby at risk until he was home.

The doctor, needless to say, was not happy, but she respected my wishes and scheduled my amnio for a date when my husband was home.

To make a long story short, I went for the amnio, husband by my side. And when they called us with the results a few days later, there was not a damn thing wrong with my baby. She was healthy, growing exactly as she should be, no Downs, no extra appendages, no genetic issues whatsoever.

So I ask you: is knowledge really power? Or is it a vehicle to drive you insane?

Had there been, God forbid, something wrong with my baby, we had several more months to learn about it, and deal with it. But scaring me into making a decision I wasn't ready to make on my own was not something I appreciated. Did I understand her reasoning? Yes, I did. But regardless of the outcome, I'd have carried that baby to term and loved her as best I could. I thank God she turned out happy and healthy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Egg Nazi...

Hey Snarklings. Most of you know that I've got two teens in High School this year, a Senior and a Freshman. Both my girls are band geeks and I couldn't be happier. Band kids are awesome. They are pretty well-behaved (most anyway) and I know and love most of their friends in band. Anywho, every year the whole band packs up and heads to the 4H camp for band camp (NO AMERICAN PIE JOKES NEEDED, TYVM) and we band parents all pitch in to assist. We provide produce, we show up at the school to help load up all the luggage, fans, equipment and instruments. Some parents drive the trucks up, others drive up in their own vehicles to help unload, and during the week, parents sign up to chaperone in the bunks or to help serve meals.

That's where I come in. Every year since 16 was a wide-eyed Freshman, I've gone up to band camp one evening to chaperone in the bunks and then to help with breakfast the following morning. I feel like every parent who has a kid in band should help out in some way, whether it's sleeping over at band camp, serving meals, chaperoning band trips, or one of my favorite things to do, working in the concession stand during Friday night football games. But I digress. Let's get back to breakfast, shall we?

My partners-in-crime and fellow band parents Suzie, Lucy and I woke up at the asscrack of dawn and schlepped over to the building where meals are served. There, we were instructed by the crack staff that is there every year. These awesome ladies, I believe, are on staff at the public schools in the area as cafeteria workers (don't quote me as I'm not 100% sure on this, because they could also be prison guards, could go either way). They quickly put us to work cooking eggs, buttering toast and cutting fruit. Breakfast on that particular morning was eggs, sausage gravy and biscuits, toast, cereal and an enormous selection of fresh fruit (trust me when I tell you, the kids at band camp almost NEVER go hungry). 

My job was serving freshly made scrambled eggs to these bright-eyed, bushy-tailed band kids. All 180 of them. Plus instructors. So there are 200 egg-eating folks all lined up and ready for me to dish them out some steaming scrambled goodness. I started with a big ice cream scooper and those first few kids were giddy with excitement at the serving of delicious eggy delight that appeared on their plates. And that's when it happened. The Egg Nazi appeared. She is the keeper of the kitchen. The master of the meals. I heard her say "THAT'S IT!!! NO MORE!!!" And then she traded my big scrambled egg scoop for a small scrambled egg scoop. She instructed me NOT TO GIVE OUT TOO MUCH to each person because we have to make these eggs last for everyone. "If there are any eggs left" she said, "they can go back for seconds. But I doubt there'll be any left. So you have to just give out a small portion to make them stretch for everyone."

The look on these kids' faces broke my heart as I laid out a smattering of eggs, like, a tablespoon on each plate. Their eyes, nearly filled with tears, looking up at me as if to say "Please, ma'am, may I have some.....more??" Overwhelmed with guilt, I apologized to each child as they looked down at the baby-sized portion of eggs on their plate. "I tried, I swear, but if she catches me giving you more.....she'll kill me"  I whispered through my own guilt-laden tears.

With 1/4 pan of eggs left and less than half the band left to serve I heard the Egg Nazi shout from the kitchen, "Put this fresh pan of eggs out, those eggs out there are getting cold!!" So I traded the old pan for a fresh new pan, but still, I was being watched like a hawk. If I gave even a smidgen more than that baby scoop, I could feel her eyes burning a hole in my skull. I could almost hear her thoughts: "NOT SO MUCH!!!!! ARE YOU CRAZY??? WE'LL RUN OUT!!!" Never have I felt so much guilt, I felt like I was starving these kids. I feared that they wouldn't make it to lunch before passing out on the field because they didn't get enough to eat for breakfast.

When I saw the end of the line, I looked at my pan of eggs. Almost still full, because of the miniscule amount of eggs I was instructed to distribute. Slow, smouldering rage began to burn in my heart, because I realized at that point that WE WERE GOING TO HAVE SO MANY GODDAMN EGGS LEFT OVER WE COULD FEED A SMALL AFRICAN VILLAGE. I seethed. I bit through my bottom lip. I burned with the fire of a thousand suns at the Egg Nazi, for making me starve those poor band kids.

As the last person in line walked away with their portion, the Egg Nazi came out from the kitchen, and looked at the mountain of scrambled eggs still left in my pan. She could probably feel the heat from my anger radiating through my skin. "I'm real sorry," she said, "I really thought you were giving out way too much in the beginning but looks like we had plenty."

Since dumping a pan of hot scrambled eggs on the Egg Nazi would probably have gotten me kicked out of band camp, I decided to keep my big mouth shut and carry my giant pan of eggs over to the table so that the children could help themselves to seconds. In the end, few did. It was almost time for them to head out and start practicing their music and their movements, so there was no time to eat the eggs. I'm not sure what the Egg Nazi did with the remainder of those eggs but I can only hope an orphanage in Haiti was well-fed that afternoon.

Next year I'm handing out toast.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Mike Rowe interview in its 7-part entirety...

Happy weekend, Snarklings. Feeling lazy today, and although I've got a butt-load of stuff I need to get done, I'm sitting at my computer thinking of opening up The Netflix and catching up on the last few seasons of Bones. I said I was thinking about doing that. I'm not really going to. What I AM going to do is put all 7 parts of my interview with Mike Rowe up for your viewing pleasure, because if I'm feeling lazy and not very productive, I'm going to guess that I'm not the only one. I'm thinking that there might be 116 or so of you who may want to go back with me and re-watch the whole thing from start to finish. So without further ado, I present to you all 7 video clips of my unedited, uncut and totally fun interview with Mike Rowe. Enjoy.

Oh, and check out what Mike had to say about the interview!!