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, 24 and 21. 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!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fear the Stick Shift!

Last week one of my co-workers drove a different car to the office and left his parking permit in his other vehicle. He was scheduled to go into a meeting that we knew would run over the time frame where parking is allowed without a permit in our little burg, so he asked if I would be able to move the car for him. "Sure" I said, knowing that it would be no big deal.

Guess again.

When the time came, I took his key and walked to his car. I got in, buckled my seat belt (safety first!) and looked down at the gear shifter. Sweet Freaking Felix, it was a stick shift! Without a word of exaggeration, it's been 28 years since I've had to manually shift the gears on a car. It's always been my contention that if they MAKE a car that automatically shifts itself into gear, who am I to buck the system and do it myself? I'd hate for the guy who installs the automatic transmission to be put out of a job, so I buy the car that has automatic transmission so he gets to keep his job. I'm all about the economy, folks.

Perhaps I should explain my irrational fear of the stick shift.

Back in the late 80's, I had a '74 Chevy Vega, a little grey thing with red hubcaps. Yes, red. It was a sweet little ride. It didn't matter that you had to open the hood, unscrew the carburetor and stick a pencil inside to hold open the choke to start it. Every. Time. Some call it a pain in the ass. I call it character. My little red-hubcapped character. She was an automatic and I didn't care that I had to jump through so many hoops just to get her started. She was mine. Until she died. (RIP little grey).

My next car was given to me by my Mom's old boyfriend who felt sorry for me (not sorry enough to buy me a sweet NEW ride, but sorry enough. Whatever). It was a '77 Buick Nighthawk special edition Skyhawk. And it was a stick shift. I had to learn how to drive a stick shift. Now it is my opinion that EVERYONE should at least have a basic knowledge of how to drive a stick shift, on the off chance that they are with someone who drives a stick and that person becomes unable to drive. It's a good theory.

But let's be honest. If you're lazy like me, you enjoy the automatic transmission. You prefer it. I know I do. But the car was free and I needed a car to get to and from work, so I gratefully accepted the gift. I don't remember much about the car (it started without me having to do the pencil in the carburetor thing so that was a plus) other than to get the car to go into reverse, you had to left up on this lever on the gear shifter while pushing the shifter all the way to the right and down. It took practice. Lots of practice. Parallel parking sucked. Hard.

Just when I thought I had mastered the art of going backwards, something went 'pop' in the transmission. And then I couldn't go backwards anymore. Now, that may not necessarily sound like a bad thing, but trust me.  It's bad. You can only pull into parking spaces that are on the street, and then pray to whatever God you're worshipping that no one parks in front of you.

"Hello boss? Hi, yeah, I may be a little late to work today. Why? Oh, because there's someone parked in front of me and I can't move my car. Backwards? Oh, you mean reverse? Nah, that's not possible. Sorry. I don't go that way."

"Hello? Unemployment?"

So yeah, when your car doesn't go backwards, it causes financial hardships. I drove the car to the repair shop, but gave the repair guy plenty of advanced notice that once pulled IN, unless he fixed the transmission, there was no going back. Literally.

Somehow, dude managed to fix what he called 'a problem with the linkage'. Linkage apparently means the go-backwards-thingy in the transmission. But he did warn me that it could happen again. That guy was totally psychic! Because it totally DID happen again. Three more times.

The last time was the BEST though. Whatever crazy magic voodoo that was happening with the linkage caused that car to then ONLY GO IN REVERSE. That's right. The car would not go forward, no matter what gear it was in. Now that right there, that's a bigger problem than not going in reverse at all.

Long story short, the local car dealership was having a 'Push Pull or Drag It In' sale so I had the car towed in, and they actually gave me $500 towards a trade in for a new car. I bought myself a sweet new '88 Mercury Tracer. Automatic.

So you can see why I have an irrational fear of stick shifts. I like being able to go both forward AND backward when I'm driving. Call me crazy.

Remind me to tell you about the time my '88 Mercury Tracer caught fire in my driveway. That's a blog for another day....

Thursday, March 17, 2016

How I Spent Last Tuesday (hint: MICHELLE OBAMA!!!)

Well, they didn't kick me out of the White House, so there's that. Oh and the Metro was up and running, thank God. They closed that thing down at midnight the day I was in DC. THAT would've been a nightmare.

Wait, let me start at the beginning. If you guys read my last post, you know that I was invited through BlogHer/SheKnows Media to the Let's Move! Event at the White House on March 15. In a nutshell, the event was to bring together about 150 bloggers, mothers (and some fathers), social media junkies and all-around big mouths like myself to get the word out about Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" Campaign and to discuss the successes to date and the future plans for this amazing and life changing campaign.

Okay, first thing's first. Let's get all the fan-girling and touristy stuff out of the way. This was my first ever trip to the White House and I took a ton of pictures.

Me in my "I'm going to the White House, Bitches!" dress.
Inside the gates! No stopping me now. (and pretty trees)
The Obama girls, with Dad and Dog!

Presidential China that wouldn't fit in my purse.
Nancy Reagan's portrait

And the flowers under Nancy Reagan's portrait

Me looking all classy. Just like Jackie Kennedy. Or not.

Presidential hand towels. Yes, I took two, thanks for asking.
George W

Bill Clinton (with a very talented Marine playing piano)

Ronald Reagan
The view of the South Lawn. The fountain was running green in honor of St. Patty's Day
Coffee out of the Presidential China (which also didn't fit in my purse. Next time....bigger purse.
JFK and me.

My girl Stephanie of When Crazy Meets Exhaustion. VIPs in the front row!
And now let's get down to the meat of the matter: Let's Move! We were brought to the White House to discuss the health of our kids. You know, those little humans that live with you and spend every waking hour either on their phones or on the couch watching TV or playing video games. Them. The Let's Move! Campaign was created to bring about change. To inspire action, and to put kids on the path to a healthy future. Here are some pretty amazing statistics about the Let's Move! Campaign:

  • Nearly 80 million people (nearly 1 in 4 Americans) now live in a Let's Move! City, Town or County
  • More than 30 million kids are eating healthier school breakfasts and lunches
  • 2 million kids now have a Let's Move! Salad Bar in their school
  • OVER 10 million kids attend Let's Move! Active Schools where they strive to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day
  • 1.6 million kids are now attending healthier daycare centers where fruits and veggies have replaced cookies and juice
  • Thousands of chain restaurants have created healthier kids' menus, and food & beverage companies cut 6.4 TRILLION calories from their products
Did you know that the government now offers a program called Every Kid In A Park?  All over the US, fourth grade children can go to this link and obtain a pass for free entry for them and their entire family to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide for an entire year. How freaking cool is that?

Deb Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let's Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition
We also learned about the "Farm to School" programs which is a mutually beneficial program for both local farmers and school districts. Deborah Kane, Director of the Office of Community Food Systems at the USDA told us about this program. She said that there are grant funds available to start a Farm to School program in your area, where they provide technical assistance and make materials available. They also like to champion the success stories and applaud kids for farming. At our elementary school here in Mayberry, we had a Roots and Shoots program to teach the little ones  about growing plants, veggies and how to maintain gardens. GREAT program!

Now before I get people saying "Oh well the crap they're serving in my kids' schools is terrible" let me say this. It's not Michelle Obama's job to come to your kid's school and serve them a healthy lunch. That is the job of the school districts. They are given the guidelines and some funding to put healthy lunch on your kid's plate. If your school district isn't doing the job or following the guidelines, don't complain to me, complain to your school district, and if you don't have any success there, go up the food chain. 

Cris Comerford, the White House Executive Chef gave us a demonstration on making a Tuscan Kale Salad to Go in mason jars. Since I skipped breakfast, that salad looked so amazing that it was all I could do to NOT rush the stage and steal one. I think the Secret Service had their eyes on me, so I showed amazing restraint. The best part was when Chef Comerford admitted to all 150 of us that she actually stole the recipe from Pinterest. Go Chef! We'll keep your secret. Oh, crap.

White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford.....making me hungry

Another really cool thing that I learned was that the Obama Administration is extremely 'Mom-Friendly'. They announced early on that if anyone needed to use the White House's Nursing Room, it would be made available to them, and that there are MANY nursing moms as well as moms of children and teens working at the White House. As a matter of fact, every person who spoke to us on Tuesday was a woman. Rock on, ladies!

Dominique Dawes!! The Three-time Olympic Gymnast!!

Michelle Obama came out last to speak to us and let me tell you: she is STUNNING. Just to be in the same room with her was tremendously cool. She's confident, she's funny, she's a mom but she's one of the most powerful moms I've ever met. Physically fit, well-spoken and just a pleasure to watch. Seriously, I was girl-crushing for a bit. My takeaway from her speech was that the Let's Move! Campaign is working. Childhood obesity rates have stopped rising and are slowly beginning to decrease. It's working. But we as parents have to continue to demand that big brands continue to work toward providing healthier options for us and for our children. Here's a quote from Mrs. Obama's speech:

"As First Lady, I've seen the impact of this work on a national scale as well. After so many years, childhood obesity rates have stopped rising, and rates for our youngest kids have actually started to fall. And I have no doubt that if we keep pushing forward on this issue, one day, we will look back on the food we used to feed our kids and it'll be like looking back on the days when we didn't wear seat belts or bike helmets or sunscreen. We'll be like, 'Man, can you believe we used to eat that stuff?'"

Totally fan-girling. Look at her!
After the events in the East Room, we were given a swag bag (got me a cool new 1-quart water bottle, and if you've met me, you know I always have a water bottle with me so this is a GREAT gift) and led out to the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn. Very cool to see where the fruits and veggies are grown. Also, did you know that they keep bees at the White House?? Seriously, I talked with Deb Eschmeyer, the Executive Director of Let's Move!, who told me that last year the White House had given out well over 125 jars of honey as gifts. Seriously, very cool stuff! Luckily the bees were dormant because of the cool DC weather that day. (which was totally fine with me, because BEES STING).

Overall, it was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience and I can't believe I almost didn't go. What a knucklehead. Here's a bit of advice from your old pal Snarkfest. If you're ever invited to the White House, don't think about it, don't weigh the pros and cons. Just DO IT. It may never happen again, and I'm so glad I went.

Thanks, Obama!

The only picture I could get of both Mrs. O and me.

Amanda Mushro from Questionable Choices in Parenting and me AT. THE. WHITE HOUSE!
THE White House Kitchen Garden!
The BlogU Girls together again!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ms. Snarkfest Goes To Washington!

So this happened:

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the folks at BlogHer/SheKnows Media about the possibility of attending an event at the White House with Michelle Obama. And I was all like, yeah, I GUESS I could do that. And then I immediately forgot about it. Until yesterday. Yesterday I received an email telling me that I was cordially invited to show up at the White House next Tuesday to meet with the First Lady, the FLOTUS, Mrs. Michelle O-FREAKING-BAMA!!! Seriously.

The first thing I thought was, crap, I'm already taking off work this Friday so I don't want to ask my boss for ANOTHER day off so soon. My husband actually talked me out of declining the invitation. I believe his words were something like "ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? DO YOU GET INVITED TO THE WHITE HOUSE EVERY WEEK?? I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE EVEN THINKING OF NOT GOING!!!"

Hmmmm, perhaps he's onto something. I'm 48. I've never ACTUALLY BEEN invited to the White House before. And this MAY be my one and only chance. So, um, yeah, I guess I'll go.

The actual purpose of the meeting is to have a conversation about Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! Campaign to help kids and families live healthier lives. In my opinion, any excuse to get kids off the couch, away from their mobile devices, computer screens or video games is a good excuse. Mrs. Obama has 2 teenage girls, and so do I. It's like we were meant to be best friends. So I'm going to go to the White House and meet her and hopefully have my question answered about the future of the Let's Move! Campaign once she and the President have left the White House.

Whatever your political feelings are, I don't care. This isn't about what you think about her husband, or her ideas for school lunches. This is about a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to go to the President's house, maybe eat a Presidential danish, drink some Presidential coffee and meet the President's wife. How freaking cool is this??

Blog posts and pictures will be up after the event so stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

"Thanks, but no thanks" - OUCH

Rejection. I'm not going to lie to you. It sucks. Whether it's a asking someone out on a date and they say no, or applying for a job and getting turned down, hearing "no thanks" is gut-wrenching. Seriously, who likes to be denied? Who likes to hear the word "NO"? No one, that's who.

When you're a kid and your mom tells you "no, you can't have any candy" you whine and cry, hoping you can wear her down. When you're a little older, the parental ace in the hole is "We'll see" when asked if "we can do this or that". And any kid knows "We'll see" isn't a definite "NO". (Hey kids, here's a tip: YES IT IS. IT'S a NO disguised as a MAYBE.) Suck it up.

When you're in your teens the pain is worse when you hear NO. No you didn't make the team. Ouch. No, you aren't included in the group plans to go out somewhere. Ouch. No thanks, I'm already seeing someone. Ouch. No hurts. Make no mistake.

The only good that usually comes from the word NO is when you miss your period and you are scared to death that you may be pregnant. Are you pregnant? NO? WONDERFUL! That's the best kind of NO you can hear. Or 'No, that mole isn't cancerous". That "NO" is glorious.

But when you put yourself out there in front of people, whether it's submitting a written piece for publication, auditioning for a play, asking someone out, applying for a loan, whatever, hearing "No thanks" tears you apart a little inside. Sometimes you say to yourself: "Screw that, I'll never do THAT again. For what? Why should I even try? I'm just going to get turned down again".

As a matter of fact, I said that very thing last year. I auditioned for the Baltimore production of Listen To Your Mother. I had written a piece, edited it, polished it, edited it some more so that it fell under the 5 minute time-frame when read aloud. I practiced that piece over and over again. And when I had my audition, I thought I had nailed it. It was a humor piece and the folks for whom I auditioned laughed in all the right places. I thought I had done really well. Until I got my rejection email. "Thank you, it's just not the right fit for us right now."  My first reaction was "well, I tried, but I'll never do that again."  I sulked away, licked my wounds and moved on.

A few weeks ago, I saw that they were, once again, holding auditions for this year's Baltimore production of Listen To Your Mother and my first reaction was, "nope, not this year. One rejection was enough."

Then last week I changed my mind. "Why not?"  I thought. The first rejection stung, but you know what? I have nothing to lose. Absolutely nothing. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? So I found a previously published piece I had written, printed it out, read it out loud exactly one time. Then I headed to Baltimore for my audition.  And guess what. I MADE IT! I am going to be in the cast of this year's Baltimore production of Listen To Your Mother!! I'm so glad I swallowed my pride, put on my big girl panties and tried out.

I'm looking forward to meeting my fellow cast mates and hearing their stories, but most importantly, I want my girls to know that just because you hear the word NO, it's not NO for the rest of your life. It's just NO for that thing, that time, that event. And it doesn't mean you never try for anything ever again. Sometimes NO builds character, makes you a stronger person. NO sucks, but only for a little while. Move past it, and keep trying. I did and I am thrilled that I've made this year's cast.

This production is going to be held all over the US in cities like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Seattle, Vancouver and a host more. THIS IS A BIG DEAL FOR ME! And I'm so glad I tried out again. I'm glad I didn't let my pride get the better of me. My show is in Baltimore but I want to wish all the cast members across the country the best for their performances!

So the next time you get rejected for something, sulk for a bit, lick your wounds, maybe even say 'never again'. Then try again. What have you got to lose?