Dear Haters

folderofshame(I write a weekly column for the Kansas City Star newspaper and this is the column I wrote this week in response to the “you suck” emails I have received.)

People hate me. Okay, maybe hate is too strong of a word so let’s change that to some people have a fervent dislike of what I write. And you know what? That’s okay. I believe if you dish it out you have to be able to take it. And let’s be real here, sometimes I don’t just dish it out. It’s more like I use a bulldozer.

Subtlety has never been my strong suit and I don’t see that as a character flaw. I’m the youngest of four children. Trust me, subtlety would have gotten me nowhere in my boisterous family. To be subtle pretty much would have equaled being ignored. And have you ever known a baby in the family that likes getting zero attention? I didn’t think so.

In fact, this may seem perverse, but I welcome (on most days) emails from readers telling me how much I suck. It means, hopefully, I’ve made people think and I don’t believe that’s ever a bad thing. That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every Wednesday when my column comes out I approach my email with a little bit of apprehension.

Some weeks my inbox stays friendly other times it’s chock-full of cascading comments about what an idiot I am. I know I’m in trouble when the email is over one paragraph.

In my experience if someone wants to write you a “hey, I loved your column” they’re not going to type more than a couple of sentences. That’s why the dual paragraph is a sign of doom and damnation. Apparently, not liking something or someone makes people very prolific. The puzzling thing is I’m always surprised by what’s going to tick people off. Usually it’s something I wrote that I thought was fairly innocuous.

In the one year I’ve been writing this column the angriest emails I received were about school community service hours (click here for that column). Okay, to be fair I did mention that I thought some parents might be overstating, just a tad, how many “hours” their children volunteered.

For example, how does picking up the neighbor’s newspaper and placing it on a doorstep equal “volunteering”? Isn’t that just basic manners?

My crucial mistake in writing that column was asking people to please NOT send me emails sharing how wonderful their children are and how many community service hours they had logged.

Oh my, what was I thinking? Because that’s exactly what I got.

Email after email (some in all caps) from angry parents lambasting me for daring to suggest that the whole keeping a log of being a decent human being is somehow wrong.

Worse, oh so much worse, was that half of these parents then proceeded to list their children’s volunteer accomplishments. At least three of the emails had attachments. Parents had scanned their kid’s community service logs!

I’d like to take this moment and give a shout out to the Prairie Star Elementary School student who was getting community service for walking the family dog. I was surprised I didn’t see licking cookie dough off the KitchenAid mixer beater listed as a “volunteer” line item.

Yeah, that’s right I read every last one of them. And congratulations you helped me make my point.

The community service log outrage proves my theory that if I really want to get folks fired up all I need to write about is anything pertaining to school and/or parenting. The one exception is when I wrote about paying for things with change. Okay, just wow on the number of people who hate quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. I stand by my statement that it is still legal tender.

As for my school/parenting columns they usually trigger emails from mothers who began their correspondence extolling the virtues of not only their children, but also their parenting prowess. The emails then proceed to point out either my failure at all the of above or a series of tips on how I can improve myself usually in the form of suggesting I get more involved in my children’s lives. (Because yes, you can gauge a person’s long-term parental involvement based on an 800-world column.)

More than a few have hinted that I’m a “bad mother” and some emailers have actually stated, “they feel sorry for my children.”

As for the feeling sorry for my children statements. All I can say is yes, sometimes I also feel sorry for my children. Like right now, I feel sorry for my daughter because she’s about to get the mother of all groundings for “living like an animal.” (Translation her room is a nightmare.)

In terms of me being a bad mother. Yeah, for sure, some days I’m bad at mothering. But, a bad mother, not so much. And what is it about the bad mother name calling? Why is that the go to for attempting to get women to feel bad about themselves? It’s the junior high equivalent of telling a girl she’s fat and just as lame.

So don’t worry about hurting my feelings. Go ahead and keep sending those emails. I can take it. I look at it this way – it all just gives me something else to write about.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

L.A. Story

la-postcardAs you watch the Oscars tonight and are seduced by the gowns, glam, and greatness of the So Cal life I offer you this peek into my recent foray into the heart of L.A. – the mall.

Is there anything more overrated than Los Angeles? Well, there’s yoga pants. Those are so overrated. Not that I don’t enjoy the wonder and forgiving qualities of an elastic waistband, but come on women get to know how to work a zipper again. In fact, now that I’m thinking of it L.A. is a lot like those Lululemon stretch pants – obscenely over priced, all about the label, and geared towards people with deep-seated self-esteem issues.

I can say all this because I’ve recently spent quality time in Los Angeles and years ago I called it home. But nothing brought out the overratedness of L.A. like being there with my 14 year-old-daughter, Isabella, several months ago. When she got off the plane she was like Bambi (you know if Bambi wore flip-flops) all starry-eyed, fresh-faced and agog at exploring the entertainment capital of the world. My excitement level was at zero because I was girding my loins in preparation of driving in the hellacious traffic.

Her first Los Angeles based query was “where are the pretty parts?” This is when I had to break her heart and tell her that L.A. was basically all freeway and the pretty parts were hidden, like the Lost City of Atlantis, to keep people like us away.

But my daughter, God bless her youthful optimism, wasn’t ready to believe me. She suggested we go The Grove, an upscale shopping center where younger celebrities are known to hang out. I tried to explain to her that The Grove has almost exactly the same stores as our mall back home, but like most teenage girls she was very persuasive so off to The Grove we went.

The first Grove gauntlet we had to run through was mastering the mall’s parking garage. You know you’re not in Kansas anymore when you have to pay more to park your car than you do for a sweater at Nordstrom’s. The second was not getting lost in the vast sea of Range Rovers that seemed to dominate the parking garage creating a feeling you were being held hostage in multi-leveled car dealership. The Rover has to be the official car of Los Angeles. Basically, if you want to pretend you’re special you need a Rover that costs six figures and has Ugg fleeced lined seats with Patagonia floor mats (okay, those last two things I just made up, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist somewhere).

This whole driving an expensive car thing in L.A. confuses me and speaks to the larger issue of the intelligence level of people who live here. Why in God’s name would you buy, lease, borrow or, whatever, a car that costs double what my first home did when you know that it’s just going to get banged up, keyed, crushed, and have other assorted acts of abuse perpetrated on it? The most popular pastime in L.A., besides hair removal, has to be taking your car in to be repaired.

What’s that? You’re confused about my hair removal remark. Well, let me explain. Los Angeles is the land of shiny people and they’re not shiny because they’re stars or any other such nonsense. The people of L.A. shine because they’re in a perpetual state of having any hair that isn’t a scalp follicle waxed thus giving their faces, arms, backs, legs, and other much more delicate parts a “I’ve just had hair forcibly ripped off my skin” sheen. How do you know you’ve made it in L.A.? When you have a certified, fair trade, organic waxing specialist that travels with you.

Two things I knew for certain when we hit the epicenter of The Grove. I weighed more than most of the people shopping plus I had the thickest eyebrows and that’s including the men. Nothing says I’m from Los Angeles like a middle-aged man with brows that look like Elsa’s from the movie Frozen.

Another thing that was wrong with me was my handbag. It wasn’t designer. Your bag is your calling card. It sets your pecking order and the bigger the better. L.A. is a land of horizontally challenged women schlepping around, what amounts to suitcases, on their wrists and shoulders. My daughter and I began playing a game I called “Price that Purse.” We took turns guessing how much each woman’s purse cost and then used our phones to Google the exact amount. The high dollar winner was an almost $8,000 Hermes bag that I thought looked exactly like a Dooney & Bourke purse I had recently seen on clearance at a Nordstrom Rack.

“It doesn’t even look that pretty? My daughter wondered out loud. “Why would someone spend that much money on it?”

“I don’t know,” I answered. “Maybe it matches her Range Rover.”

Finally, after we had our fill of people watching, we hit the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. (Yes, life is just one big chain restaurant.) After we placed our order I noticed a group of mothers were sitting with their children and as their kids ate they were drinking some God awful looking moss-green, foamy, potion, in a glass bottle. I asked a mom sitting close to us, who looked like an even skinnier version of Tori Spelling (FYI Los Angeles is comprised of women who look like Tori Spelling. If there is ever a missing persons report filed on Tori half of the female population of L.A. County would meet the physical description) what it was and she enthusiastically shared she was sipping a “handcrafted juice cleanse comprised of kale, spinach, romaine, chard and cucumber.” Apparently, it was “life changing” and she had “pretty much given up solid food.”

I wondered to myself if she had given up on life. Who voluntarily surrenders their right to chew? Is this going to be some sort of new movement – the Non Chewers? Are we soon going to be judged and regulated to “loser” status if we choose to chew? Oh, go ahead and think I’m crazy, but ten years ago would you have predicted that a large percentage of women would stop wearing pants with zippers and buttons?

In fact, those women not chewing made me want to chew harder. I plowed through my Chinese Chicken salad with gusto really chomping on the crispy wontons. My daughter asked me what my problem was I told her I was pro chewing and not afraid to show it. She gave me one of those specials looks 14-year-olds save just for their mothers. The one that says, “Ugh. Why am I stuck here with her?”

Before she had a chance to follow-up that look with an eye roll we had our first celebrity sighting. A  sit-com star was in the Cheesecake Factory. My daughter whispered to me, “He looks so, I don’t know,  not like he does on TV.  It’s kind of disappointing. ”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. Los Angeles is all about artifice. Under a blanket of smog that looks like the area is being smothered with a dirty Snuggie everyone is pretending to be someone they’re not and worse they’re scared of all the not important things in life like hair, handbags and chewing.

“This right here,” I tell her while gesturing with my fork, “is why being average rules.”

“Huh?” she answers not getting my point.

“Average folks can chew with wild abandon.  It means we’re okay with who we are.”

“So. Not. Following.”

“You don’t have to understand me. Just know this. Never lose your sense of self.  You know, being okay with who you are. It’s your common sense compass in a world of directionless goobers that are easily distracted and get lost by taking the bright and shiny exit. Oh, and one more thing, never relinquish your right to solid food.”

 

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

 

Eyebrows

if-you-tell-the-truth-you-dont-have-to-remember-anything-truth-quoteEyebrows are why I quit my job in television news.

A little over a decade ago I was the anchor of a morning news program and to be honest I was weary of being at work at 4 a.m. and was already having thoughts of taking my career in another direction when the “eyebrow incident” occurred.

As some of you may know many TV stations use consultants to come in and critique their newscasts, anchors and reporters. All of this is done supposedly to create the best quality journalism product. Most of us who worked in the newsroom saw it as a huge waste of time and a special two-fer of insults and humiliation.

This is because our writing was never the real focus of the various consultants alleged wisdom. No, it was our appearance from the blazer that was perceived as being too “shiny”  to earrings that “signaled political intent.” While working at a station in Austin, Texas in the late 1980’s I was told by one consultant that the pearl earrings I was wearing on air were “too Barbara Bush” and I needed to select jewelry that was “apolitical.”

That’s nothing compared to the hair critiques I received over the years. Consultants remarks ranged from too flat, too long, too short, too straight, too blonde, and not blonde enough. My personal favorite was when I was told my shoulder length bob haircut made me look “overly smart” and “not approachable.”

It was suggested I grow my hair out and consider more blonde highlights so I would be “grocery store friendly.” Confused, I asked for more information about the whole elusive “grocery store friendly” thing. I was tersely informed that I needed to “look like someone people would feel comfortable talking to in the produce section.”

I suffered through all these indignities by offering up the standard issue anchor fake smile. (It’s the one I used every morning when I tossed to the Action-News-Storm-Tracker-Your-Home-for-Severe-Weather meteorologist for the school bus forecast.) It wasn’t until a consultant delivered a 45-minute passionate and scathing soliloquy about my eyebrows that I decided to say, “see ya” to television news.

Unbeknownst to me I have “angry, undisciplined, eyebrows.” These eyebrows of mine must also be incredibly gifted because the consultant said they had a “personality all of their own” and “competed not only with the rest of my face but also with the news I was reading.”

Breaking News: I was in need of an “eyebrow enhancement expert.”

Live at Five: My eyebrows were declared a state of emergency

Breaking News Update: I quit. My eyebrows and I decided it was time for a new employment adventure.

My broadcast career being determined by my eyebrows is why I didn’t even so much as raise an angry one over the whole NBC news anchor Brian William’s debacle. The man has very nice, let’s call them happy, brows that complement the words coming out of his mouth. Therefore it doesn’t matter that some of those words are great big whopping fibs.

I came of age in broadcast journalism when it was still all about getting the story right. I had a news director that loved sharing the time-worn bon mot that “Creditability is like your virginity. Once you lose it you can’t get it back.”

Reporters were trained that being accurate with a story trumped being first. We lived in fear of getting our facts wrong because we knew that not only would it get us fired, but also end our careers as journalists. And no one wanted to be jettisoned into that former news reporter employment graveyard known as hospital media relations coordinator.

We also had our feet held to the fire to never interject our personality into a story. It was Dragnet reporting – just the facts.

Slowly, reporting sensibilities changed and with the advent of social media that change exploded creating what I think of as a nuclear winter for television news.

I can’t be the only one that cringes when I see reporters doing live shots that consist of them reading their Twitter feeds. I want to shout at them, “do some legwork, make some phone calls, have an established network of sources so you can tell us timely, factual, information not what @hotnewshound419 is tweeting about.”

Oh, and if the information they reported turns out be wrong. No big deal. You get an “Oops, my bad” and that’s supposed to excuse any egregious factual errors.

As for Brian Williams and his love of the tall tale all I have to say is he violated the two fundamental rules of journalism and perhaps even of being an adult. He lost his creditability and he made it all about him. His hubris in thinking no one would ever call him out on his fabrications makes it even worse.

He needs to go away and maybe if he’s very, very lucky someday he’ll be able to land a job as a media relations coordinator.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

Dear Snarky – I Hate Throwing Birthday Parties

One odear_snarky_logo-1f the more common themes from letters I get are about children’s birthday parties. It can be nerve-racking to throw an awesome celebration and yet not drop some major coin to make it happen. Here’s an example of some of the letters I have received.

Dear Snarky,

I can’t afford a big blow out for my son’s 9th birthday, but I’m afraid he’ll be disappointed if we don’t have a big party like his other friends have had.

OR

Dear Snarky,

I’m so mad I spent what I thought was a fortune on a party for my twins at a Go Kart track and kids were complaining that they were bored!

Oh moms, I so feel your pain.  With a party for six children at an American Girl Doll store costing more than $300 or a trampoline park celebration bouncing up and over the $500 mark it can make you starry-eyed for the days of a Duncan Hines cake mix and a couple of presents from mom and dad.

My suggestion to alleviate all this party anxiety and cost is to embrace the birthday festivities of yesteryear and kick it old school.

Here’s the deal.  Our kids are jaded.  Not kidding about this – one month my daughter went to 3 American Girl parties.  If you really want to throw a bash that will be remembered and not break the bank do something unexpected that speaks to a child’s sense of silly fun.Scan 3

One year I had a party for my son that  featured flour fights in the backyard.  I’m talking baking flouScan 7r. I filled up wheelbarrows with the white stuff and the kids went crazy. It was hilarious.

Another year for my daughter we had a goofy face paint party where the girls did each other’s “make up” and then put on a show.

All of it was very, very low-cost and fun. Primarily, I think because it was different, a little bit unstructured and they were allowed to make a mess. In fact, my son is 18 and he has one friend that to this day, still talks about the “awesome flour fight.”

So relax and don’t over think it and most importantly do not try to keep up, one up or use your kid’s birthday as a I way to impress other parents. That’s not a party. It’s a competition and there’s nothing fun about that.

A Different Kind of Romance

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.40.37 AMPracticality is the death of romance.

I have always joked that my husband is the most unromantic bipedal mammal currently roaming the planet. Seriously, he gave me dish towels for a Valentine’s Day present. Did I mention that this was when we were d-a-t-i-n-g? Way to really bring it in the courtship department. In his defense the dish towels did have little hearts on them and I do enjoy a clean kitchen. But now thinking back over all the years we’ve been together I’m going to admit that, perhaps, I’ve been the slayer of all romantic flourishes. The one who takes Cupid’s little arrow and snaps it in two.

I can’t be the only woman who has gotten upset when her spouse drops a chunk of cash on flowers for Valentine’s Day. I remember back when we had our first baby and my husband bought a $50 bouquet and all I could think about was the Huggies diapers we could have purchased with that money. Slowly, over the years, I fear I’ve molded (some might say scared) him into being a less than ardent purveyor of all things smoochie sweet.

It might have started back in the late 90’s when I declared Valentine’s Day an overpriced, overrated occasion and suggested we play it smart and celebrate it a week later on February 21. I called it “Valentine’s Day observed.” Talk about a cost savings. You’ve got your cards and candy at 50 percent off or more and flowers are back to their pre-February 14 prices.

In fact, a life long dream of mine has been to celebrate Christmas on New Year’s Eve. Sure, you go ahead and do the religious stuff on 12/25, but save the gifts for a week later.

Can you imagine the savings from shopping at all the after Christmas sales? I’m getting excited just thinking about it. Too bad, my family won’t support me in making this a reality. Every time I bring it up all I get is the, “But it wouldn’t seem like Christmas” whine. Maybe not, but imagine how great New Year’s Eve would be.

Besides my frugal nature functioning as a love connection wet blanket, my theory that the more romantic the man the less I would trust him has also probably served as a lovey dovey killjoy.

Work with me on this ladies. Let’s be honest and think of all the men we know who are/were kings of the grand romantic gesture. These are the guys who concoct costly, show stopping shows of affection for their significant others usually in front of an audience. Now, let’s analyze their behavior using my “go to” for most things in life – the Rotary Four-Way Test.

Is it true? Yes and no. I’ll be kind and say I’m sure the guy making what amounts to a scene to prove his undying love is possibly smitten with his lady-love. Yet, the fact that by causing a scene he is focusing all the attention on himself makes me leery of his real motives. (Think Ted Bundy. He was quite the Lance Romance.)

Is it fair to all concerned? No. Because in a lot cases the huge show of devotion is more about the guy and his “look at me” disorder than the girl he professes to love.

Will it build goodwill and friendship? No, most especially if you debut your love spectacle in an office environment thus creating an undercurrent of seething jealousy among the females and undying disgust from all the guys in the office for making them look bad.

Will it be beneficial to all concerned? No. (See all of the above.)

I think I’ve now more than proved that Mr. Romance might be all show and even worse it’s always all about him. Or much, much, worse he’s using his larger than life show of affection to distract from the real defects in the relationship. That’s why for me relationship math goes something like this: Three dozen roses = Your special someone is hiding something. Think what you will about this equation, but I, at least, know it’s easier to understand than Common Core.

The problem is real day in and day out romance is not very, well, romantic, but it does make you feel loved. What wife hasn’t felt a surge of passion when her husband unloads the dishwasher and sweeps the kitchen floor? I’m I the only one swooning right now? Or gets the tires rotated on your car AND takes the kids with him so you can be blissfully alone.

So maybe practicality doesn’t kill romance. Maybe romance changes and while flowers are nice having your sweetheart drive the Saturday morning 7 a.m. soccer carpool is even better.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

Battle of the Books

cb9c2b1bc0fb978749f9fa347c1c04c2There are many, many reasons I’m glad my tour of duty as an elementary school mother is over. Sure, I enjoyed aspects of having younger children like being able to actually understand their homework. I also loved the field trips and school parties until the sugar police took over and turned school celebrations into a treatise of why food is the enemy. I’m still steamed about the time my Halloween cupcakes, with probably two inches of the yummiest buttercream frosting you’ve ever tasted accessorized with a Nutter Butter cookie dipped in white chocolate to look like a ghost, were turned away at the third grade classroom door for “exceeding the sugar guidelines.” Haters.

Besides the sugar wars perhaps the number one thing I don’t miss about elementary school parenting is Battle of the Books. Because it’s a battle alright . . . between the parents. For those of you not initiated in the ways of turning reading into a competitive bloodsport let me explain. Kids voluntarily sign up to participate in Battle of the Books. Teams are formed and parents offer up their services to be “book coaches.” Each grade level is assigned the same 10 (or so) books to read. Kids on the team pick at least two books they plan to be the “experts” on and study groups are formed so each team is prepared for the book battle which usually takes place a couple of months after the teams are in place.

If you’re thinking this sounds like super, fun, edu-tainment with the added benefit of helping kids hone their reading comprehension and retention skills than you couldn’t be a bigger idiot. Did you miss the “parents as coaches” part? Hello, red flag of doom right there. Like many things that end badly this whole parents as book coaches seems like a decent enough volunteer gig. How hard can it be? You meet with the kids a couple of times a month, feed them a snack, discuss the books and bring on the battle.

Except that’s not how it goes down because being a book coach is a demanding job primarily because you have to read all the books. When I found this out I was stunned. I didn’t want to read some of these books 40 years ago and now not only was I required to read them, but I had to dissect them with a Machiavellian mindset. You see the battle questions are not so much about the story as they are about the most nitpicking details of the book like what color socks a character wore on page 83.

So, when you read the book you have to think about what questions will the Battle Chairperson/Judge ask (who usually is the most OCD member on the PTA board) and then make sure your team knows the answers. This is done by making question and answer sheets for each book. I naively suggested to other book coaches that we share our Q & A sheets that way we (the mothers) don’t have to read all the books. Holy paper cut, you would have thought I suggested that we start a swingers club. The outrage was that intense.

Maybe if I had known that some of these parents had been working on building their battle teams for years I would have kept my mouth shut. Little did I know that battle scouting starts in early elementary school. You’re not looking for the strongest readers, but the children with great memories. So, that kid on the field trip who won’t shut up about baseball stats from 1973 – that’s who want on your team. And if you hear a rumor of a child who might have the tiniest bit of an eidetic memory start your Battle of the Books wooing.

When it comes time for the battle the kids are just psyched to missing class, but for the book coaches it’s game on. These parents are locked and loaded. They know these books better than their child’s soccer schedule. It becomes not a combat between the kids and their novel knowledge, but a battle of wits between the parent coaches and the parent/book quizzer.  Armed with all the books highlighted and flush with Post It Notes the parent coaches are ready to challenge not only questions and answers, but the subtle nuances in the ways the queries are asked and the responses judged.

At this point it’s mom against mom and to the victor goes bragging rights because that’s what’s it’s about, right? A parent’s reading prowess. As I watched all this play out I thought to myself why don’t we just save ourselves a whole lot of time and trouble and just have one quickie meeting where we all share our SAT scores. It sure would be a whole lot simpler and the end result would be about the same.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

Snarky Writes an Op Ed

As some of you may have figured out by now I live in Kansas. Currently, the legislators of the Sunflower state ban alcohol (beer, wine – you name it) from being sold in grocery stores.  Here’s the recent editorial I wrote about it the stupidity of an outdated law that’s only function is to ensure Kansas gets less sales tax revenue.Lvf9n

My New Year’s resolution is to be open to change, to fully embrace the concept of adapting. It can be a challenge to give change a great big welcome hug. I’m what you would call a status quo type of gal. This is why when people grouse about legislators not being more forward thinking I, more often than not, have our elected officials back.

It’s not easy letting go of what you’ve always been doing. Now add in being voted into office and the fear that if you make a change you know you’re going to get backlash and some of it in the form of, what I’m sure are downright creepy (and grammatically challenged), emails not to mention the possibility of losing the next election.

I understand all this and I sympathize, but I’m here to tell you if I, a weary, multi-tasking, middle-aged mother, can vow to cuddle up to change the Kansas legislature can too and a great place to start is with our state’s goofy and downright dumb liquor laws.

1881 is the year Kansas was the first state to constitutionally ban alcohol and we’ve been stuck in what amounts to a legislative black hole since then. Yep, our liquor buying and selling regulations date back to the same period in time as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and when women were wearing bustles and still churning butter. The fact that any facet of modern retail is predicted on such antiquated laws is like a bad Saturday Night Live skit.

Is it asking too much to have 21st century legislation (forget that, I’d take 20th century) so I can buy a bottle of wine at the grocery store (not to mention a corkscrew) or a real beer?

Because let me tell you what happens because I can’t. Every week, a lot of my money goes next door to Missouri. In this age of “right now retail” (Amazon, Zappo’s, anyone?) it’s all about one stop shopping. If I need wine I’ll go get my groceries (and corkscrew) in Missouri and then because the gas pumps are right there I’ll fill up my tank.

Not that Missouri isn’t a fine state, but I’d much rather my tax dollars stay in Kansas and have you looked at the state budget? Just wow! I’m no fiscal genius, but I’m going to say, without hesitation, that Kansas really needs my money to stay put.

I know there’s concern that local liquor merchants might face some economic uncertainty if the law is changed and I can finally get my Pinot Grigio at the supermarket. To that I have to say so sad too bad. When did the purveyors of alcohol in Kansas become a protected class? It’s beyond ludicrous. Basically, we treat booze merchants better than our teachers. (How messed up is that?) And as a woman who appreciates quality customer service I’m going to guess that if a liquor store has a history of providing a pleasant shopping experience coupled with a knowledgeable staff they’ll continue to thrive.

And do not even get me started on the fairy tale that buying alcohol from a “liquor only” store keeps teens from drinking. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could be less true. Take it from a mom in the teen raising trenches most (if not all) minors are getting their alcohol from their parents’ home.

This is not just me spouting off. I’ve got National Institute of Health statistics to back me up. More importantly, if I felt that keeping alcohol out of grocery stores would cut back on underage drinking I’d be all for it. It’s not. You know what keeps kids from drinking? Parents – vigilant, involved, responsible parents.

I’m also going to tattle a bit here. When I do buy liquor in Kansas I don’t get I.D’d. But, when I go to Missouri and buy a bottle of Skinny Girl Tangerine Vodka at a grocery store it’s like going through the TSA line at the airport. Grocery stores check EVERYONE’s drivers license. You could be 98-years-old, in a wheelchair, with an oxygen mask Gorilla glued to your face and you probably still would have to show proof of age.

Seriously, Kansas politicians take a big step out of your “way back” machine and realize the people of this great state don’t need what amounts to a 19th century legislative nanny. It’s 2015. It’s time to say hello to common sense commerce and keeping tax dollars in Kansas. Let’s wave goodbye once and for all to 1881 (not that I have anything against the bustle).

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

I Get It, We All Get It, You Have Perfect Children

52f573eecbcd40b644ceba5e025b75dcCan we all just get over our kids? Yeah, we love them. They are the moon, sun and stars. The air we breathe. And yes, I know parents should be obsessed with their children. I do believe that’s part of the child-rearing creed. What I want to point out is that while it’s super that your addicted to your brethren please don’t expect me to be. In fact, there may not be anything more boring than a mom or dad whose sole topic of conversation is about their amazing kids. For the love of all that is holy just give a rest. We get it your kids are the best and the brightest or at least in your brain they are.

I’m curious to why parents feel the need to continuously sing the praises of their offspring? Why does anyone imagine that other people want to hear, pretty much all the time, about your wonderful children? I love my kids and guess what? I, as their mother, sometimes don’t even find them that thrilling. So, I would never assume that other people would be enthralled by their “achievements.”

Things came to head this week when a couple of moms figured out that you could find your high school child’s current class rank by going online and signing into your school’s parent account. I currently don’t know the class rank of my own daughter, but I do know about 15 other kids rankings because they’re parents won’t shut up about it.

I want to tell these moms and dads to calm themselves because their kids are only high school freshman and if I’ve learned anything it’s that high school is a marathon not a sprint. Get back to me in your child’s senior year and then I’ll act impressed. If you’re lucky I’ll add in a high-five.

What a lot of moms and dads need to do is come out of the parenting closet. Oh, it takes guts, that’s for sure. Not many of us have the courage to share the unedited, non-scripted version of our child. A couple of months ago I was volunteering at a high school and a group of theatre moms were talking about their children. I was hanging back, being new to the theatre mom arena, and just listening in.

My initial take away was that theatre moms might be the most hard-core, ruthless parents I’ve ever come across. And that’s saying a lot because I’ve been everything from a soccer/volleyball/baseball/dance mom to a competitive Lego club parent (you’ve haven’t lived till you’ve witnessed two parents chucking limited edition Lego Architecture bricks at each other. Note to everyone – don’t get in the way of a dad attempting to get his kid qualified for the Lego World Robot Olympiad). The mothers were engaging in rapid-firing one-upping and as I was keeping score it seemed like the musical theatre moms were getting in the most verbal punches. Not that the one-act play parents weren’t giving it all they had, but bless their hearts they couldn’t keep with the wannabe Broadway bunch.

Then, out of nowhere, a mom mentions that she just “hopes her son graduates high school.” As soon as she said that everyone froze, like we all weren’t sure of what we had just heard. I was ecstatic. I do believe for a moment I fell in love. I wanted to get down on one knee, propose and run away with this courageous woman. Instead, I looked at her and said, “You are my hero.” And I meant it. She had boldly went where almost no mom with a kid born in the 21st century has gone before – to the alternative universe where parents are honest.

I naively thought this would open up the discussion to being more than a contest about whose kid was most likely to get a Tony award by 2022, but I was wrong. The other moms’ just shook off the blast of candor like a dog inadvertently misted by a lawn sprinkler and continued on with their kids’ greatest hits.

I don’t mind a parent being proud of their kid. What I’m confused about is why that’s all we can be. Why have we as parents congealed and hardened into one, big, unyielding igneous rock of, “my spawn is more awesome than yours?”

We’re cheating yourselves and our kids. Honesty is good for friendships and families. Parents need to be able to vent and ask for advice from other souls in the child rearing trenches. As it stands now we’re all afraid to show any weakness so we either say nothing or disguise our children’s realities like an airbrushed selfie – too perfect to be true.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

School Volunteer Emails Scare Me

40d28e075e335d13bb2595f1f6358e68Help. I’m afraid to open my email. No, it’s not that I fear creditors or pleas for rescue in the form of U.S. dollars being sent to a Nigerian prince. It’s school related emails that are scaring me. Worse, than that they’re hurting my feelings. These emails are from parents that are trying to either recruit volunteers or fundraise. The problem is the people sending the emails are masters of the manipulative missive and have turned Sign Up Genius into an act of domestic terrorism.

You would think after all these years of having kids in school I would be, if not immune, than at least have thicker skin concerning email castigations masquerading as a request for volunteers (not that I don’t volunteer. So please no emails telling me if I did volunteer I wouldn’t be receiving said emails). Sadly, that’s not the case and I’m blame the following list of emailers as the reason why.

The worst kind of digital communicator is what I call the Resume Reamer or Serial One Upper. This is when the parent doing the “all call” for volunteers let’s you know, in no uncertain terms, that you’re dealing with a professional. You get a list of their volunteer credentials, including but not limited to chairmanships and board positions, as a shot across the bow that this isn’t their first rodeo.

And in the “I’m not kidding here department.” One time a PTA board member requested parents to submit a resume to “apply for the position of Home Room Mom.” I emailed back asking if they also required a psych evaluation because I thought the PTA board might need one. I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I share I didn’t get selected to be the Second Grade Home Room Mom.

Coming in a very close second is the Guilt Tripper. This person in the first two sentences of the email shares they work full-time, do triathlons, is a lay pastor at their church, HOA president for four consecutive years, fosters squirrels whose habitat has been compromised by urban sprawl and maintains a strict fruitarian lifestyle all while chairing the book fair. Bonus – they’ve typed their email in all caps. I’ve concluded over the years, that this is the passive aggressive way of saying, “Don’t give me any lame excuses about how you don’t have time. Just look at the things I do.”

Here’s some advice. If you want to recruit volunteers don’t start off your email berating the parents at the school. The Scolder doesn’t waste time or mince words about letting you know that the fact they even have to send out an email requesting volunteers is a sign that your Mom card should be pulled. Sure, they don’t write it quite like that, but you can read between the lines and figure out what they’re really saying is that you’re shirking your parental duty by not living up at the school.

The sender of this email is usually a mother who volunteers so much she has her own cubby in the teacher workroom and covers the front office when the school secretary goes on break. When I get one of these it takes everything I have not to reply – get a life.

And while reading an email from the Scolder may seem unpleasant it’s nothing compared to being swallowed up by a message from Ms. Pity Party.

The Pity Party person doesn’t email you a paragraph or two it’s more of a novel about her daily existence, which, spoiler alert is not going well. There’s usually a non-life threatening health ailment like a newly diagnosed dual allergy to the leather seats in her Range Rover and Pottery Barn down comforter, which has resulted in raging insomnia thus explaining the rambling emails that are sent to you at 3 in the morning.

Ms. Pity uses her life issues to exert sympathy into you not just volunteering, but taking over her carpool duties and coaching her son’s eight and under soccer team.

The Shamer is the queen of attempting to make you feel bad about yourself. There’s the opening line in the email that states some shocking statistic about how your kid’s education is going to hell in a handbasket and YOU are to blame. That’s followed by another line about how only a small percentage of parents care and volunteer and then the Shamer goes in for the kill. The classic, “It’s always the same parents we see up at the school day in and day out these are the ones making a difference.”

It takes everything I have not to type back, “that’s because you and your mom posse run off anyone that’s not in your crew.”

I know it’s not easy chairing an event or recruiting volunteers. Believe me I want and do help. All I ask is that your emails don’t make me consider homeschooling as my only method of escape from my not so friendly inbox.

cover_1.3-2 *Attention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

Dear Snarky – Telling Off a Not Pregnant Mom Who Parks in the Expectant Mother Spaces

Dear Snarky,Parking-Signs-43456S04STDNRA-lg

I need your help in dealing with a woman who never follows the rules. School pick up and drop off she’s just doing her own thing. Volunteering – maybe she’ll show up maybe she won’t. Trust me I could go on. Now, in what I perceive as the final straw, she’s parking all over town in the spots designated for “Moms to Be” or “Reserved for Expectant Mothers.”

 This woman is NOT pregnant. I took over a lasagna dinner when she got a hysterectomy two years ago and she’s able bodied. All you need to do is look at her car plastered with the 26.2 marathon stickers. I’m dying to say something to her, but want your advice on how to do it.

 Signed, Rule Follower

 Dear Rule,

Well, let’s look on the bright side at least she’s not parking in the handicap spaces – right? Okay, I know that didn’t make you feel any better. So, back to what to say to the “I’m so important I don’t have to follow the rules” Mom. My strategy is to go for the simple yet effective straight up calling her out about it.

 I’d walk up to her and ask her why she continually parks in the maternity spaces. So she can’t brush it off as a, “Oh, I only just did it this one time,” comment be sure you let her know you’ve seen her do it MANY times.

 Next, wait for her to give you a lame and/or hostile answer and then smile very sweetly  and reply, “Well, the only reason I felt compelled to say anything is that I worry about you. You know, because you never seem to grasp the concept of what rules are and how to follow them. I’m just making sure you’re okay.”

 And then walk away with your head held high secure in the knowledge that she knows that you know she’s an ass.

*Attention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  Click here for Nook or here for Kobo. Here’s a little lookie loo.

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Wynn Butler is ready to kill her mother . . . oScreen Shot 2014-12-29 at 11.01.47 PMr at the very least demand she gets a psych evaluation and an MRI. On Wynn’s yearly pilgrimage to Trask, Texas, to visit her parents what she hoped would be a relaxing visit (not counting the family reunion which has all the charm of a zombie apocalypse) has turned into a Texas-sized, hot mess!

 Her 69-year-old mother Gwynn Crockett Martin has become an entrepreneur and opened up a cupcake bakery that seems to be doing double duty as a halfway house for economically battered Junior League dropouts.

 If that’s not enough to make Wynn want to turn tail and run home, her mom is hell bent on convincing her to “heed the call of Jesus” and come to the aid of a woman that made Wynn miserable in high school – Sara Beth Bishop. And by aid, Wynn’s mother means concoct a plan to exact epic revenge on Sara Beth’s lying, cheating, spray tanning, money stealing ex-husband and his new wife, snob-of-the-millennium, Yale Greenly.

 Things go from bad to worse when Wynn finds herself embroiled in a scheme that involves breaking and entering, theft, assault, livestock wrangling, killer mold, impersonating a maid, hair spray bomb fabrication and crashing the town’s poshest society event of the year – THE Mohair Palace Pageant. If Wynn can survive this visit home without doing time in the ER, jail, or both, it will be a miracle!

 Hang on to your hat and saddle up for a retribution rodeo or, as Wynn’s mom calls it . . . “justice served up Lone Star style.”