Monday, May 31, 2010

Boys And Their Toys

I shower with Superman.

I've slept with Spiderman, Batman and Ironman and, occasionally - a Camaro. So has my husband. (Shh...don't tell him I told you!) Been doing it for years.

Now, now, don't be pervy - we're not some kind of an alternative couple (not that there's anything wrong with that). I'm talking about our son's toys in the tub, in the bed, on the floor, on the couch, on the steps, and sometimes - the fridge. Poking and prodding us in our feet and our whatnots with their little plastic weapons. (That's what she said!)

The cast of characters has changed over the years, but, like many little guys, my son, 7, has always hauled various tiny playthings around the house. That boy has been clutching a toy since the very moment he could do so. I'm pretty sure one of his sonogram pictures features a Matchbox Car clutched in his little nubbin-hands.

(Hmmm...this explains that metallic-tasting heartburn.)

All this toy togetherness has given me quite an affection for the characters and what they meant to my son's different stages of life.

As a young toddler, he took a liking to Dora the Explorer. He even had a Dora doll. Ask him these days about "Dor-Dor!," as he used to call her, and he'll likely take a swing at you.

Then he will deny this.

Next came a Thomas the Train Engine phase. Sticky little preschool hands pulled me onto the carpet each day, and together my son and I built endless (ENDLESS!) wooden tracks for Thomas and Friends.

These days? He will deny this.

And of course, we had a lengthy "Toy Story" phase, with Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Rex and the rest of the gang scattered hither and yon. The boy carried Woody and especially Buzz dolls, er, action figures everywhere. His favorite outfit for a couple years was a Buzz Lightyear costume, with the words "Danger! Jet Exhaust" printed right on the tush. So appropriate.

Of course, he will deny this.

He's much too cool for any of that now. These days, it's all superheroes, all the time. And I could handle giving away the Dora doll. I'll be able to pack away the now-ignored Thomas Trains for his children. But the "Toy Story" movies hold a special place in Mama Weber's heart, here, because of their sentimental message, and because my daughter loved them, too.

So you can imagine my shock upon seeing this sight on top of our boy's Goodwill give-away pile recently:

That's right. He tried to kick Buzz and Woody, our dear old friends, right to the charity-bag curb.

Oh no he did-n't! Can you believe this?

Listen here, Little Man. I may shower with your Superman, and I might sleep with your Batman and Ironman. But Buzz and Woody still hold my heart, understand? Didn't "Toy Story" 1 and 2 teach you anything? Plastic has feelings too, you know!

Don't you worry, fellow Mommies. I plucked our old friends right out of there.

After all, a girl never leaves a good Woody behind. Even if she also has a Buzz.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don't Do It, Kid

For the most part, adulthood sucks.

This is what I keep telling my daughter. She, age 13, disagrees with her mother. Oddly enough.

To her, grown-ups live in a land of pocket money, complete freedom and unlimited cell phone minutes. A happy place where shiny new gadgets magically and regularly appear for no reason at all.

A job? Where she'll spend 80 percent of her waking hours and young, healthy years to earn said money, minutes and gadgets? Just a petty detail.

She has so much to look forward to. I mean, the bills, the taxes - exciting stuff. The daily snarl of morning traffic, demanding bosses and impossible deadlines - ah, good times.

Enjoy the wrinkles that criss-cross your face like a broken mirror, and sags and pooches that make bikinis a distant memory. Aches and pains that appear each morning for no apparent reason. And embrace those ten pounds that materialize each year - they're not going anywhere.

But wait, there's more! Don't forget the endless chores and housework. After a ten-hour workday, mounds of laundry, dusty furniture and dirty dishes await. Weekends -what weekends? The grass needs cut, the gutters need cleaned and the toilet needs fixed. Whee!

She and her friends have noticed none of the above, though. To my daughter and most teen girls, growing up equals money, makeup and boys.

I've noticed smeared cosmetics over her freckles, wiped off hastily on the bus ride home. Boys call now, squeaky and nervous and asking for my little girl, who still doesn't legally weigh enough to get out of her car booster seat.

Sweetie? You want to grow up to get the cash, cosmetics and guys. I would, however, enjoy some time in your world. So here's my plan. It's not Take Your Child To Work Day, it's Give Your Child Your Work Day.

Tomorrow, dear, you get up at the butt-crack of dawn. Hop in the car and speed all the way into the city during rush hour. Work ten hours for a paycheck that's already spent at a job you're darn lucky to have.

Scoot back into the car for the evening traffic fray, and arrive home to cook for three people who won't like anything you fix. Supervise homework and baths, fall into bed. Repeat 20-plus years, or until death, whichever comes first.

Meanwhile, I'll live your life. So make sure my breakfast is ready, and don't wake me up too early. Take me to school, where I'll hobnob with my friends until the bell rings, and be sure to pick me up at the bus stop in a warm car.

Fire up the computer so I can instant message my friends all evening, while simultaneously talking on the phone and painting my toenails. Cook only pepperoni pizza or chicken nuggets for dinner, and remember - I tolerate nothing green.

Ha ha, just kidding, kid. You be you for a while longer, I'll be me.. I'll keep my job, belly, wrinkles and cell phone minutes. Keep your booster seat, your innocence and your sweet freckles.

Heck, just yesterday I was changing your diapers. And before you know it, you'll be changing mine.

Friday, May 21, 2010

How Happy Campers Roll

Some call it 'Rustic Camping.'

I call it 'Stupid Camping.'

Yeah, way back in olden-times, my husband and I used to fancy ourselves quite the Rustic Campers, (otherwise known as 'dummies.') To that end, we purchased one piece of camping gear together - a sleeping bag built for two.


We took our first stupid, er, rustic camping trip to a state park and threw our sleeping bag down on the site. Good to, um, go.

Tent? We don't need no stinkin' tent.

Right under the stars, campfire burning - we were the original John and Yoko granola hippies. Getting back to nature and whatnot.

And all was just lovely - until about 1:30 a.m.

I heard shuffling and crinkling - close by, around the picnic table. Visitors! With masks! Could they be packin'? I poked the husband.

"Hey! The raccoons are here!" I said.

"Just be still - they won't bother you," he said. "They're looking for food. They're afraid of humans."

I listened to him - always a mistake. And my first adventure in Stupid Camping.

Because the shuffles and squeaks drew closer and closer to our 'sleeping bag under the stars.' I pulled the bag as high as I could. But it wasn't enough to cover my left ear, which heard - and felt - this whiskery-wetness:


"AHHHHHHH!!!!" I screamed, shooting straight up.

Three raccoons ran into the woods, I ran for the non-flushing facilities and the sleeping-bagged husband doubled up in laughter.

"Yuck it up, cowboy," I said. "You have no idea how much money you'll spend now."

And that? Was the end of Stupid Camping.

Since then, we've purchased tents, a pop-up camper and an entire pickup truck filled with equipment designed to make the great outdoors feel, well, less outdoorsy. (And much less like a sniffling my ear.)

But something was still missing from my camping experience. I couldn't quite figure it out...until about 3 a.m. one morning.

Middle age, middle of the night. 'Nuff said?

I stumbled from the pop-up camper, in the dark - again - to the restroom. Second time that night. The husband woke long enough to laugh at me as I tripped out the door.

"Yuck it up, He-Who-Can-Whiz-In-Jar," I said. "You have no idea how much money you'll spend now."

Happy wife, happy life. And so it was.

This is how we roll these days: 27 feet of air-conditioned, heated RV luxury, yo. It's nicer than any of my "single years" apartments. It has a refrigerator. It has a freezer. It has NO raccoons - sniffing my ears.

Best of all, it has a restroom...with a toilet...that flushes. Flushes especially well at 1 a.m., and again at 3 a.m.

Ah, flushing - you complete me. Literally.

Yep, we've come a long way from Stupid Camping. We still have the John-n-Yoko sleeping bag, though.

On top of our soft, warm, indoor RV bed. Right where it belongs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Guys At Work

Jesus had his disciples, the president has his advisers and my husband has The Guys at Work.

For him, there are no wiser men, no sager-sages than these workplace whizzes. Aristotle? Ha! Socrates? Scoff. Michelangelo? Come on! We don't need them. Not when we have the astute counsel of Jim, Gary, Bob and Other Bob.

Need to know where to get cheap tires? The Guys at Work say to go to Mr. Tire. Wonder what movie to see this weekend? The Guys at Work have seen them all. Curious which RV to buy? No doubt TGAWs have the answer.

Yes, we are brushed by greatness to know these wonders of worldliness, these wizards of wisdom. They've offered my man advice on everything from child rearing to Christmas
gifts to beef steak.

The phrase ''The Guys at Work said...'' gets an automatic wifely eye roll from me. Not because I disagree with them. In fact, my answers usually match theirs. But the truth isn't the truth until we have the Guys' blessing.

Let's illustrate this scenario with a little dialogue, if you will:

Him: “What movie do you want to see this weekend?”

Me: “Well, I hear “Avatar” is good.”

Silence. Crickets chirp, air molecules stand still.

Fade in, two days later:

Him: “Say, I know - let's see “Avatar” Saturday. The Guys at Work say it's great!”

(Cue the wifely eye-roll.)

If nothing else, at least my agreement with the TGAWs guidance proves that I’m right. I love being right. Don't you? I used to dream of being rich or famous, thin or gorgeous. But I’m old. I’ve given up on those dreams.

And occasionally - just sometimes - I know what I'm talking about. This is because I’ve spent years living single and dirt poor.

You too can become a rocket scientist. All you need is - nothing and no one. With good old-fashioned poverty, you’ll quickly learn the art of creative scrounging. You’ll also learn to do things yourself, because no one else is around to help. Years of lonely financial struggle have given me solid knowledge of 1040 tax forms, toilet plumbing and your basic Ford engine. Far be it from me to withhold all this valuable knowledge from my husband. That would be selfish. I have to share.

Case in point: a while back, we hopped in the Taurus to go out to eat. He turned the key.

Car: Click, click click.
Me: “Sounds like the starter.”
Him (cussing under his breath as we switched cars): “Humph. Maybe.”

Fade in, a few days later.

Me: “Hey, did you find out what’s wrong with the Taurus?”
Him: “The Guys at Work said it's the starter.”

(Cue the wifely eye-roll.)
Me: “Huh. How about that.”

Silence. Crickets chirp, air molecules stand still (again).

And then my husband begrudgingly said Those Words. The Three Little Words every woman longs for:
''You were right.''

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Perpetual Diet - FAIL!

That's it. I quit.

I'm going to go ahead and get fat. Who's with me?

It's time. I've been dieting since puberty, and you know what?

Getting fat anyway.

Eat/don't eat. Diet/don't diet. Junk food/healthy food... doesn't matter.

Getting fat anyway.

The Cabbage Soup diet. The Grapefruit Diet. The Liquid Diet. The Vegetarian Diet. The Atkins Diet. The South Beach Diet. The Alli Pill Diet. The Drive-An-Hour-To-The-Doctor-Who-Prescribes-Questionable-Diet-Pills-Diet.

Guess what?

Getting fat anyway.

Aerobics. Weight training. Yoga. Pilates. Yoga-lates. Walking. Spinning. Running. Swimming.

Come on - all together now...

Getting fat anyway.

Like many folks, I've put up quite a battle of the bulge. I've followed all the advice, all the rules. The scale needle goes nowhere - except up. And the older I get, the fatter I get, and the harder it is to do the things I'm supposed to do. Like move.

I am tired. I am hungry. I am...

Getting fat anyway.

I have a theory about all this (of course I do). My Petrified Bones/Ed Asner theory: We're all slowly turning to stone. Just like Mr. Asner - have you seen or heard that guy lately? Great man, great actor. Looks and sounds like a bag of rocks.

So it goes for all of us. We all morph into rock. Rocks are heavy, and eventually, we are, too.

Our bones turn to stone.

Looking for research to support my genius Ed Asner theory, I came across recent statistics from the CDC stating that 34 percent of adult Americans are obese. The CDC also says that's more than double the percentage of obese adults there were 30 years ago.

The hell? Thirty years ago, nobody - including Ed Asner - gave a flying fart what they ate. We ate bread 30 years ago. We ate pork 30 years ago. We put butter on EVERYTHING 30 years ago.

And, according to the CDC, we were thin...30 years ago.

Well, screw this starving bullcrap! I'll have what they were having.

So, Mr. Asner? Pass the butter. Because I'm...

...getting fat anyway.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What Would Brittany Do?

So you think you can dance?

Better check with your kids.

This all became clear to me recently, when I tried to pass down my, um, “moves, yo.”

Now, I am not afraid to shake what the good Lord gave me. So when “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot (“I like big butts and I cannot lie/you other brothers can’t deny…”) played on the radio last week and the kids started singing along, I figured it was time to pass along the legacy.

I began to dance.

My children (Combined: 18 months gestation! 42 hours labor! Untold missed servings of caffeine/other beverages!) had these loving comments:

Daughter: “Hey Levi, look at Mommy, - dancing like an Old Lady!”
Son: “Hee hee!”
Me: (Pulling out hipper, hotter moves) “Wait, guys! Watch this!”
Daughter: “Look at her! She’s still doing it!”
Son: (Doubled over) “Ha ha ha!….”
Me: (Sensing that they’re not feeling my Hot Mama genius, I totally break it down with my best stuff. )
Daughter: “She’s getting worse! Look - she’s sweating! Oh jeeeezzzz!!!”
Me: (Stopping) “Humph.”

Sigh. It wasn’t always like this. These two used to like me. Worship me, even. One of my favorite memories? Long ago, my toddler daughter mistook me for Heidi Some-Supermodel-Or-Other on the cover of the Victoria’s Secret catalogue.

“Mama! Mama!” she said, pointing to the picture of Heidi.

Whoa, baby - time for the eye doctor! I was not, am not tall. I was not, am not leggy. And I was not, am not Heidi. What do we have in common? A pulse - and a monthly appointment with a hair-colorist.

Fast forward, six years later. My son, 3, was cuddled on my lap. We discussed his love life.

“So who’s your girlfriend these days, Levi?” I asked.
“YOU’RE my girlfriend, Mommy,” he said, with serious brown eyes.

Ah, the Good Ole Days. Now? What do I get from my darling cherubs? Mockery for not dancing like a complete, utter hussy. Nice!

Speaking of complete and utter hussies, I have to wonder - WWBD? What Would Brittany Do in situations like these? After all, Brit’s a dancer and a mother of two, too.

Let’s see…first, she’d drive to her concert with her toddler on her lap. For show-time she’d slither and strut stage-wide - dance moves meant for a strip-bar, not the eyes of 200,000-plus admiring tweens…

Wait a minute…Brittany Spears?! WTH, I mean heck, is wrong with me?! Things are pretty bad when you’re considering old Bare-Butt-Brit for parenting and/or dancing advice.

No thanks. I’ll stick to my Old Lady, 80s steps. After all, my moves embarrass my kids. And that’s entertainment - Mommy-style.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Captain George and Technical Support

Here's something you don't want to hear on an airplane:

"Uh, sorry folks. It appears our right engine isn't working."

I had a feeling something like this would happen when our flight attendant introduced our pilot as "Captain George."

Captain George had a distinct hillbilly accent and an overly-friendly attitude. He chatted us up over the intercom as if he were about to buy us a bucket of beer.

Hillbilly, pilot, George, beer - not exactly words that encourage confidence.

So his broken-right-engine intercom announcement didn't surprise me. Luckily, the plane broke down on the runway.

We were supposed to have jetted off for a cruise. Instead, we began our special vacation with this little omen. I turned to my husband.

"Happy Anniversary, honey!" I said.

Good ol' Captain George popped on the intercom again.

"Well, folks, we're on the phone with our mechanics in Florida to see if we can fix the problem, get ya off the ground here as soon as possible..." he said.

The pilot...on the phone...with technical support. In Florida. Nice.

I pictured Captain George, heading out to the engine, his tool in hand, his cell phone to ear, asking the "fellas in Florida" which screw to tighten.

Uh, George? Never mind the tech support.We'd like another plane, thank-you-very-much.

Sigh. Why couldn't it have been the right windshield wiper that had malfunctioned? Maybe a tire? Perhaps a tail-light? We could have dealt with that. No. Had to be the right ENGINE, didn't it.

But we were resigned to our fate, as air travelers are. Because the flight was paid for, and whatnot.

We waited, and waited. And waited some more. Finally, our buddy Captain George told us what would happen next.

"We're gonna get ya off the plane, gonna fly our mechanics from Florida up here, have 'em work on the plane, get ya outta here as soon as possible..." he said.

Apparently Ohio airplane mechanics can't fix airplanes? Yes - much more financially prudent to fly aircraft professionals all the way from Florida than to find one locally...

Still, I knew not to question the wise counsel of Captain George.

We left the plane and returned to the airport. At least it was time to eat. It was damn sure time to drink.

After lunch, the gate attendants told us the plane would "hopefully" be repaired by 6:30 p.m.

"They must have to go to NAPA to get the part," said my husband.

We spent the next six hours - and our 15th wedding anniversary - people-watching the fellow passengers of Flight 007. They were beginning to feel like old friends: a Gretchen Wilson look-alike, Mr. Better-Than-Thou First Class, "Gilley's Bar" ball-cap Grandpa, who smiled a lot when his wife wasn't around.

Even good ol' Captain George eventually joined us at the gate, flipping through a magazine, chill-axin'. This seemed a positive sign that actual mechanics - and not Georges with screwdrivers - were fixing the plane.

Finally, around 6 p.m., the gatekeeper announced that we could re-board the plane. I wasn't thrilled about flying on this jacked-up jet.

But I was happy to go somewhere, anywhere, besides the airport restroom.

I grabbed my carry-on. I admit it - I was still a little nervous, so I crossed my fingers. I wanted to spend eternity with my husband. Not Flight 007 and Captain George.