Saturday, March 29, 2008

Want Some Candy, Little Girl?

Thats exactly how I feel at this moment... hiding out in Dawson's room as he naps with my laptop and as many other valuables I managed to grab without looking too obvious in an attempt to hide from scary Hungarian rapist carpet cleaning man.

It all started last week when I answered the phone to a 'blocked number' and it was an automated telemarketing message about carpet steam cleaning. I wouldn't generally consider myself a 'sucker,' but I love a bargain as much as the next young mom. It was something I'd been wanting to do for months, and had even called around to price because I wanted to also have the upholstery on the living room furniture cleaned at the same time. I even had an appointment set with a company we've used before awhile back, and they never showed up... so this was long overdue anyway.

Some of the more reputable places I had called around for quotes on had estimated over $300 for just 2 rooms and 2 couches. Maybe that should have been my first, second, or third clue... when this place promised to do the whole enchilada for $150. "Sweet! Half the price!," thinks the trusting little baby Christian school girl. "I know... perfect day for this is the Saturday Tyson won't be home!" (I know... I want to slap me too).

We set the appointment for today, I ask for early morning and she says they have 10am-12pm slot open. Perfect, just enough time to wake up, get the kids together, pay the people, and leave them to do their work whilst we plan something fun to get out of their way. Well. 10am rolls around, we are all packed and ready for our outing. Waiting... waiting... 10:30am. 11:30am. At 11:50, I called the toll free number to find out if I've been duped again and while Im on the line with the company I get another call... its 12:07, and its the lost carpet cleaning man trying to ask me in broken English for directions.

Finally by 12:30 a beat up sedan pulls in front of the house... hmmm. Not the commercial van with a company logo I am expecting, but for the love, I want my carpet clean. Mr. Broken English turns out to be a relatively good looking, BIG European man (I'm guessing maybe Hungarian?) in his late 20's- early 30's. He comes right in, greets my children (creepy), and I explain that I was told on the phone $150 for 2 couches, the living room, hallway, and one bedroom. The kid's bedrooms were light traffic areas and wouldn't be necessary, so I had closed all the back bedroom doors. I also let him know the kids would be napping after lunch, so I would appreciate if he started at the back of the house by their bedrooms (which made the most sense anyways). He agreed, and set off down the hall. I finished our lunch routine, and walked back to lay Anabelle down... oh, whats this? Mr. Europe is in her bedroom? Closet opened? Blinds pulled up? I politely reminded him the children's rooms weren't in need, and he smiled and shook his head as if he understood. Ok... so why are you in here again, creep-o? Then I noticed the blinds in Dawson's room were also pulled up and the door was open. He had been in there too.

I went back to the kitchen for Dawson, wiped his hands, took him potty... every time we passed in the hall Creep-o would make friendly with the little man. I don't like it. About that time, I was informed that he would be needing to use my bathtub, as he wheels in an industrial push vacuum much like the rentals I had checked out renting myself at the local grocery store. Whatever, "help yourself," I told him.... I knew this guy was not going to be legit by now and wasn't really surprised.

I heard a knock at the front door and thanked the heavens for a familiar face checking in... it was our next door neighbor, Brent, wondering if he could use the lawnmower. I walk outside with him, thankful for the excuse to get out of the way. We chatted for a couple minutes, and I look up as Europe clears his throat loudly and waves me back in the house. Um, ok... "Yes?"

He has drawn me out a whole diagram and wants to pitch a sale to me. I gave him the courtesy of a listening ear, but I'm aggrevated that he's 2 hours late, he just spent 30 minutes rummaging through rooms I asked him to exclude, and now he's telling me about bacteria infesting my 2 year old carpet that needs a special sanitizing wash. "Alright, how much?"

"Whole house... $768."

I laugh.

"Uh... thats WAYYY outside my carpet budget... I signed on for the $150 special, and I only need 2 rooms plus the sofas, thank you."

Then he got pushy. Really pushy. Told me I could get my whole family sick, and he likes me. He's just trying to help me. My children are so cute, he would hate to see them sick. My husband could get really sick too, no?"

He offered to knock it down $100 on the spot.

"Uh... according to my math thats still more than $600... WAY over my budget."

I told him again about the rates I was quoted by phone, and said if there were some heavily soiled areas that he had a solution he would like to spot treat I could pay up to $200, so just give me what I can get for that much." He throws up his hands and storms out, "OK, fine. Im just looking out for your family."

I decided to disappear, and took the opportunity to lay down with Dawson (hence my hiding spot at the beginning of the posting)... I offered to pay him in advance in case he finished before I came out (aka: hurry up and leave). He insisted I pay after. Fine.

I started this posting while he was still here... and was interrupted by a knock on the CLOSED bedroom door. He's all finished, Dawson is snoozing away, I follow him out to the living room... my couches (the primary reason for this cleaning) are NOT done. I commented. He says those cost extra.

Now I'm angry. I firmly repeated my arrangement with his company. He again rudely agrees to complete the task (oh, thank you SOOO much for the HUGE favor). Thats when I insisted on writing the check, because I didn't want him asking for double because of the sofas AFTER he did them, claiming I had somehow agreed to that.

I ask him who to make the check out to... he asks who my bank is. I'm FREAKING out, here. He tells me to make it out to CASH. Shocking. I ask why, knowing he is going to hit me over the head and drag me into a closet at any moment... he says he is a contract laborer for the company and he has to pay them after keeping his share. I wrote the check, and asked for a receipt before handing it to him, which he gives me. I ask him where the company is based out of, he vaguely answers "L.A." I asked him if he was from there also... he says he is (predictable). I commented on the long drive for just one customer, and asked if he had other appointments in the area after me. He hesitates and answers 'yes,' but I know he is lying. No wonder he wants $700... gas isn't cheap these days!

I retreated back to Dawson's room. Its now 2:30pm. So much for getting out of the house with the kids. I couldn't have been more relieved to see him load his rented industrial cleaner back into the car... I was thankful it wasn't my lifeless body he was shoving into his trunk. I really was... scared!

Anyways. I have clean carpets! The couch came out decent, which is the most I'd hoped for. $200 was more than I planned to pay and Im still not sure what the extra $50 was for, but I guess its a small price to pay for, oh, I don't know, being able to chew solids and watch my kids grow up.

I guess it just reaffirms the old antic of "Cost vs. Value.

Next time, I will definitely be paying a little more for a 2 man team wearing matching company t-shirts.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Be ready for some severe cuteness.

Saturday we spent the morning coloring eggs and then headed over to the park by Grammie's house in Santa Margarita to hunt the treasures we created and enjoy a lovely picnic lunch

(I know... we're the pathetic cheese ball parents who get a kick out of mocking our own children at play...)

That evening I stayed up WAYYY past my bedtime baking quiche for Sunday brunch (which turned out amazing, by the way. If anyone ever needs/wants a fantastical spinach/mushroom/ham quiche recipe, hit me up. Mmmmm.), and arranging baskets. It was a blast.

We bought the kids these tents at Target back in the end of last summer on clearance thinking they would be fun Christmas presents. We ended up saving them for Easter since they were SO overstimulated with gifts at Christmas time. Anyway, they loved them (duh).

Ok, heres the part where you die of a cute attack. Haha, get it, "a cute" attack. I kill me. But seriously. Watch this. You need the sound.

So we did early church followed by brunch on the back patio at my parent's house. I ate myself into a coma. it was pretty touch and go there for awhile. The menu (since if I were reading this, ID want to know...) included grilled shrimp, cakes, potatoes, quiche, chocolate covered strawberries, Easter candy galore, fruit, croissant sandwiches... ok, now I'm hungry again.

Anyways. The weather was glorious, we ate until we popped, we hunted candy filled eggs in the backyard and we were home and ready for a nice family nap by 1pm.


Sad Day.

I woke up this morning to the alarm on our TV, and news anchor on the local news talking about the "milestone" of 4,000 U.S. casualties in Iraq since the war started over 5 years ago.

Maybe its just lingering all day because I happened to hear it before I ever even opened my eyes, like coming out of a bad dream, only it was awakening to a bad reality.

4,000 lives. Im heartsick over this.

Later on GMA when they ran the stats as one of their headlines, they showed a few pictures of the fallen. One of the images was this one:

This is Mary McHugh at the grave of her fiance Sgt. James John Regan who was killed by an IED explosion in Iraq in February 2007.

I thought of the swell of patriotism I feel every day I get to wake up, make my coffee, wrap my kids in their warm blankies and kiss my husband goodbye as he straightens his tie and heads out to earn his honest living. I love this country for enabling a lifestyle of freedom, opportunity, comfort and safety.

I try to forget the darker side of patriotism. I bleed red, white, and blue... until you want to send my brother... my dad... my husband... to the line of fire. I can not begin to fathom living on pins and needles for each time the phone rings, wondering whether it will be the voice of my beloved on the other end... or the dreaded call every wife and mother prays to never get.

This woman, on the grave could easily have been me. She will never know their children, or bid this love of her life goodbye as he heads out to capture his own version of the American dream. Young death is the greatest tragedy, and happens all too often in car accidents and collapsed mines in every day happenstance.
4,000 young lives... to a war that I cant even bring myself to discuss.

I try to remember that "freedom isn't free," how Americans are the 'good guys,' and why I love being a part of this nation. I still feel the shock, anguish, and fear of 911 like it happened 5 minutes ago. I still feel sick to my stomach every time I hear the final count on the death toll of the darkest day in American history I have seen in this lifetime. Sometimes out of the blue I wonder about the children who are now adolescent who can not remember their father's smell, or I want to ask the widows if they still wake up every day reaching for the empty place in their beds.

I was looking for a fight to avenge like any patriot almost 7 years ago when I watched the towers fall.

Never in my wildest terror did I imagine coming to a place where the price tag of fatalities in an endless war would be greater than the hell this country had already seen. I trusted the powers that be to know more than I knew, and feel more (or less?) than I felt.

I don't know what I think anymore.

Red, blue... Obama, Hillary, McCain... POLITICS SCHMOLITICS!!

I just know that part of the American dream I am still privileged to live every day... involves being here, alive.

Thats hard if you're one of 4,000.

And counting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

D.A.R.E. to Keep Kids on Drugs

My Mom recently passed this on to me...

Hopefully you can make out the text, because I thought it made an interesting point.

I know as a parent sometimes I feel so... MEAN for lack of better terms. I joked to Stephanie today about how I used to be such a nice person and now all I do is rag on my children! I generally dont pride myself on 'ragging' but some days... it just feels like the "no hose in the house, keep your feet on the ground, stop pulling the cat's tail..." is SO non-stop and it is tempting to just throw up my hands and let the little pirate thugs dual eachother to the death without being such a constant referee.

It feels to me like the more progressive society becomes, the more relaxed parenting philosophies can get. I know a lot of it depends on the child's personality and on the dynamics of the whole family in general, but honestly I think whether your kid is a passive personality or more assertive, human nature is that we want to do things OUR way from the start. Thats where its our responsibility as parents to establish boundaries within our moral, ethical, an spiritual convictions if we like who we are and want our kids to mirror us as adults.

I know Im probably more 'old school' than a lot of other parents out there, but I will tell you... I have YET to meet respectful, well behaved, polite toddlers who's parents camp in the modern 'free will, independent thinkers' compound.

I plan on keeping my kids on drugs for as long as it takes. Ha.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Monkey Hear, Monkey Say

Last night we dropped a birthday dinner for my Mom off at my parents house, and as we loaded the kids back in the car to head home Tyson managed to buckle Anabelle's thigh chub into her car seat. Of course she immediately began to wail.

I was across the bench from them buckling Dawson in, and I sharply looked up and translated the reason for the commotion to my poor confused husband...

Dawson, without missing a beat, looks up at me with a goofy look on his sweet little face and casually remarks "Oh, Mom... he didn't mean to, it was an ACCIDENT! He's JUST being a BOY!"
As if that weren't enough, he turns to Tyson and reminds him sweetly "Daddy, you need to be gentle with my sister. Shes FRAGILE."

Um. Maybe its time to get that filter installed in my mouth?


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Child Prodigy.

Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration... but last Friday was a proud proud mommy day for me.

Are you ready for this?

Dawson... WROTE his own NAME.

Oh, yes. Thats right. I was amazed too. We were out back with some neighborhood friends and one of the older kids started to write her name out on the back patio in sidewalk chalk. Without necessairily expecting a response I urged Dawson to try the same thing, and to my amazement, he shot back "Ok, Mom!" And then... he proceeded forward to effortlessly create THIS masterpiece:

I know, it may look like your typical abstract preschool art project, but he said each letter aloud as he created them, and each stroke of each letter was so focused and deliberate that I know without a doubt HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING! You can see the "D" a bit sideways in the middle, the "A" is directly above that, it looks like a triangle but with little legs at the bottom, the "W" is the zigzag of lines to the left, the "S" is cut off in the picture and the "O" is floating somewhere WAY outside the boundaries of my high-tech photography abilities... but its basically just a circle, so it was perfect. The "N" is the one on the right that looks like an "M."

I know its far from perfect, but I really almost sobbed. His dad and grandparents and I always make a concentrated effort to draw attention to his name as we color and craft with him, and recently he will find letters that make up his name on signs in the street and recognize them... "Look, Mom! 'O,' like in dawsOn!" But I had NO idea that seemingly overnight he would develop these fine motor skills that would enable him to achieve such a milestone on his very own. To my knowledge, the little genius has never even traced his name that we have written out for him.

Ok, so realistically maybe he's not going to Harvard next fall. After all, he is 3 since November and is probably right on track for his age and abilities. But this moment was just so amazing to me... and all the more a reminder that these seemingly endless days of hiding out in the bathroom to read the paper are but a blink in time.


You Know You're Officially an Over Extended Mom When...

You get up extra early Tuesday morning for the sake of sneaking into the bathroom to read last Sunday's paper and pee without the company of the rest of the family.

Aye, yi yi...I need a vacation.


Monday, March 17, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

The part the picture doesnt say?

The reason for the pout is having to share her new (dead) little friend with her brother.

I love them.


To Hell in a Handbasket

So, as the title implies, I will definitely be adding this to the list of reasons I'm going straight to hell... but the blog was BEGGING me to post it...

I know the Mid West is notorious for their church going, Bible brandishing, God fearing WalMart shoppers (NOT to stereotype or anything, ha...), but it would appear that the retail giant has decided to expand its niche market and bring salvation all the way to the Central Coast (hallelujah!).

I'm SO glad they consider us all holy enough to be able to offer this fine clothing apparel to our offspring:

(Thanks for the FYI!)

(Hmmmm, I wonder what the zip code in heaven is? I have a few letters I'd like to send myself..)

This last one was my PERSONAL fav... because THATS not sac religious or anything, right?

I guess it just cracks me up the levels that marketing strategists and corporate America will stoop down to in order to scoop up the bottom dollar.


My kids wouldn't be caught dead in this. Not until CPS comes and they are placed in a different family, anyway.

Thanks for being my partner in crime, Stephanie. Its nice to know I'll be in good company down there.