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.

*********************************************************************************************

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.”

 

 

Finally the New Snarky Book Is Out!

Okay friendsScreen Shot 2014-12-29 at 11.01.47 PM, I have, at last, finished the sequel to Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School!!!!! The new book Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble in Texas is published. Here’s a blurb I hope makes you go, “Hell yes I’m buying this book!”

 Wynn Butler is ready to kill her mother . . . or 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.”

 Right at this very moment you can get the book over at Amazon for your Kindle. I’m still waiting for the paperback version to show up on Amazon. I’ll let you know as soon as that happens. You can also get it for you Nook. And for everyone that complained that the first Snarky wasn’t on iBooks I’m waiting for iTunes to give me the thumbs up that it’s available. Meanwhile, you can, for free, download the Kindle app for your iPad or iPhone.

I want to thank all of you for reading my blog, being my Snarky Facebook and Twitter bestie and encouraging me to keep on writing. Y’all rock! Seriously, the Internet is a magical thing. I’ve made some wonderful friends and I do believe writing my blog has kept me out of prison. (Not that I don’t look fabulous in orange.)

A special thank you to Lori Barta Joergensen and Abby Ray! They were Team Snarky for this book and I have a girl crush on both of them.

If you choose to buy Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble in Texas – awesome! If you like it please feel free to write a glowing review. (If you don’t save your strength and just forget about this whole review thing.)

Now, go out there and give Trouble in Texas a lookie loo!

 

My Mother & The Thank You Note Saga

thank-you-road-signHave you written all your holiday thank you notes yet? Well, according to my mother you better get on it. In fact, she would say you are coming awfully close to committing good manners suicide. Hello – Christmas was almost a month ago.

I can’t be the only one with a mother who is very passionate, some might say hard core, others crazy about the thank you note. In fact, I think if you have a mom who hails from the south you were probably raised with what I call the “thank you note threatdown.” This is when you get informed about a whole list of dire punishments coming your way if you don’t get your thank you’s done.

You see for my mother the thank you note is more than a letter of gratitude. It’s a definitive statement on your upbringing. A mediocre thank you note means many things about your family and none of it good.

My mother would say the top three things a so so thank you note indicates are:

1) You lack decent home training. This means your parents failed in their responsibility to teach you the most common of courtesies. It also means (according to my mom) you were probably raised that drinking beer out of can is acceptable, napkins are optional, RSVP means just show up if you feel like it and flip-flops at a wedding are “cute.”

2) Your character is flawed. If you never learned to write an adequate thank you note then it’s a good guess you’re probably going to serve time, at the very least, in the country jail if not the state penitentiary.

3) Your family tree is suspect and inbreeding is a distinct possibility. I’ll never forget the time my mother received what she thought was a sub standard thank you note for a wedding present and her comment was “Well, you know that family has some cousins who married each other so that explains a lot.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.10.30 AM

The preprinted wedding thank you note that’s guaranteed to send my mother into some sort of etiquette seizure.

I’m not exaggerating one bit when I tell you that my mother and her friends discuss the quality of the thank you notes they receive from the stationery (FYI do not use a card that has “thank you for the wedding gift” pre printed on it. It could send any woman over 75 into cardiac arrest) to the penmanship. (Cursive lives my friend and it’s home is the thank you note.)

About now you might be wondering what my mother considers a decent thank you note. Let’s just say it’s not for slackers. To begin with an acceptable thank you note is four paragraphs. The first one is for thanking the giver only. It’s considered tacky to mention the gift in the first paragraph. You must build up to the gift. My mother believes the gift is secondary. What the note is really doing is acknowledging the givers thoughtfulness in thinking of you.

The second paragraph is where it’s okay to express your gratitude for the gift and how much you will enjoy using it etc. The third paragraph is where you share a unique tidbit about how much the gift giver means to you and the fourth and final (thank God) paragraph is where you wrap it all and do another “thanks again” shout out.

But wait, there’s more. Those thank you notes have to be written in a timely manner. You don’t get married and think you have months to get that chore done. Oh no, gift gets opened thank you note gets written. After I got married my mother used to call me at work everyday and badger me on the status of my thank you’s. My co-workers didn’t believe my “sweet” mother could be that big of an etiquette bully, so one day I put her on speaker phone and I had colleagues stunned and speechless. You don’t mess with Texas or my mom.

All of this has made me a nervous wreck when my children write their Christmas thank you notes to my parents. I don’t know where I went wrong, but for the life of me they can’t get the hang of the four paragraphs. They want to “21st century it” and go four sentences. No, no and no! This is our family legacy on the line. I will not be the one that lowers the standard. I fear a four-sentence thank you is the gateway drug to a total abandonment of any and all social graces. What’s next texting a smiley face emoji as your expression of gratitude?

As I’m stressing out my son looks up at me and says, “Relax Mom. It’s just a thank you note not the Magna Carta.”

What he doesn’t understand, and perhaps never will, is that for my mother this is her Magna Carta. A well-written thank you note is her way of letting the world know she’s doing her part to make sure manners still matter.

Hey, Snarky friends please re-like my page on Facebook. I got hacked and had to start my page from scratch. Thanks! Click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog and let your friends know that Snarky is back.

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

 

Dear Snarky – I Have Sucky Parent Volunteers

b3445ada24dc77cea3f196438e89b2d0Dear Snarky,

I’ve been the chairperson of the Winter Carnival at my kids’ school for going on five years. Every year I get less and less help from the other parents. I have 20 people on my committee. Out of that 20 only about 6 are doing any real work and most of the time I have to look over their shoulder to make sure they’re doing their job right.

I’ll admit that I’m a little OCD and have a way I want things done, but that’s just because I want the Carnival to be amazing.

I’m so frustrated by the lack of help I want to scream. Do you have any wisdom for me?

Signed, Exhausted fundraiser

Dear Exhausted,

Time for some tough love. Maybe, just maybe the problem isn’t the other parents and it’s you. I have found that nothing kills the volunteer spirit faster than a chairperson constantly second-guessing you and redoing work you’ve already done. It’s okay to want things “just right” but there’s fine line between being just a tad OCD and entering the witch zone. To be a successful chairperson of anything means you’re going have to be fluent in sweet talking and a little bit of butt kissing.

Also, I have a rule that nobody should chair an event for more than two years – three years max. You need new blood. A new chairperson brings different people and fresh ideas. Perhaps after five years your crew of mom friends are just tuckered out.

I suggest you put on your best happy face, fake it if you have too, and attempt to recruit some new talent and then back off and let them do their job.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or leave me a private message on my Snarky Facebook page.

 Hey, Snarky friends please re-like my page on Facebook. I got hacked and had to start my page from scratch. Thanks! Click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog and let your friends know that Snarky is back.

 

Are You Telling Me You’re “More Christian” Than Me Because You Keep Your Christmas Tree Up Longer?

17-sarcastic-Christmas-tree-humorDid you know the date when you decide to take your holiday decorations down says a lot about you? I sure didn’t. I just assumed that folks eventually got around to it. Of course, I’ve been known to make snide comments about people who still have a Christmas tree in their living room and outdoor inflatables littering their yard on Valentine’s Day. But I had no idea there is what amounts to a de-Christmasing personality profile.

Last week, right before New Year’s Eve, I was talking to a group of women and I mentioned that I couldn’t wait to take down all my decorations and was counting the minutes until I could put my Christmas tree out of it’s misery. (At this point it was jettisoning needles with a vengeance.)

Our family tradition is to keep the tree up until January first and then it’s a full-scale purge of Christmas. It can’t just be me who thinks that your house looks twice as big after the Santas, the Snow Villages, the stockings, the extensive collection of vintage pinecones (don’t ask, just feel sorry for me) and North Pole Snow Globe city is returned to the basement?

Well, as I was expressing my soon to be joy of de-Christmasing, I got a stern look from one of the woman. Correction on that look. It was stern with a mix of superiority and a wee bit of pious. Yes, her chin was most definitely doing the pious thing. You know, kind of cocked to the side with a tilt. She asked me if I was a Christian. I give her a look that said, “Hey, there idiot” and replied, “Umm, yes, of course since I’m talking about taking down C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s decorations.”

She snorted back, “Well, I always have to ask because you know a lot of people do the Santa thing, but really aren’t what I would call Christians.”

I rolled my eyes and waited. I knew there was more and indeed there was. I got a lecture about how Christmas lasts until January 6 with the Feast of Epiphany and how all her decorations stay up until then. I joked that at my house the Feast of Epiphany is when my kids go back to school. No one laughed. (“Come on that’s funny? Right?)  Instead “Pious Chin” gave me a look that one would usually reserve for heretics or people who write checks at the grocery store.

Before I had to chance to defend myself another woman, with some hipster glasses, butted in with her tale of how she keeps her decorations up until at least the third Sunday after Christmas because of the “historical vagaries” of the birth of Christ.”

Oh my, was that a religious throwdown I just heard? On the off-chance it was I was staying put and settling in. This could be getting good. The first couple of seconds it seemed like nothing was going to happen. I felt duty bound, in the name of theological study, to help the discussion along so I directed a question towards Pious Chin and half laughing asked, “Does that mean she’s more devout because she keeps her tree up longer?”

Ladies and gentlemen we have lift off. Pious Chin informed Hipster Glasses that she didn’t know what she was talking about with the whole “vagaries” comment. Hipster began to give the Chin a discourse about December 25. She had me through the Winter Solstice, but lost me at Gregorian calendar. It was good for a while, the whole tit for tat thing. It was like watching a version of Bible Jeopardy. “I’ll take Luke 2:8 for 100 Alex.”

Because I started this chitchat/feud I to wanted to end it before it got any more heated. I figured the best way to do this was to call a truce by complimenting both women on their outstanding biblical knowledge. This did nothing to deter the “conversation.” I was going to have to pull out the heavy artillery.

I went big. I asked about their kids. Specifically, if their children were going to take part in the Duke Talent Identification program for gifted elementary school students. I didn’t even have a chance to fully enunciate the word gifted before these two were off the Bible and on to test scores. It was a like a WWF cage match. You know if the wrestlers wore J. Crew and carried iPhones in Lilly Pulitzer floral cases.

I slowly backed away and thanked Jesus (birthday undetermined) that I’m a little bit of an idiot. Okay, maybe not an idiot, but let’s just say not much of a deep thinker. That for me it’s just holiday decorations, not a treatise on my faith, and this girl can only look at a creepy pine cone collection for so long before it’s got to be boxed up and banished to the basement.

Hey, Snarky friends please re-like my page on Facebook. I got hacked and had to start my page from scratch. Thanks! Click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog and let your friends know that Snarky is back.

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

 

 

Back Off Fitbit

1*PeaaVoTan_j2PiCCpcwVFw(This is an excerpt from a piece I did for a magazine.)

I don’t believe in working out in groups or even around other people. I’m now a proud, new member of the solo workout club. Just recently, I had the epiphany that I was better off exercising in solitary confinement. (What’s the sound you’re hearing? It could be a collective sigh of relief from the people who have had to witness me attempting to do a burpee.)

I think my long, meandering journey to cardio aloneness began in middle school P.E. If there’s anything that’s going to make you apprehensive about demonstrating your lack of athletic gifts in a group setting it’s the shaming ritual that is a co-ed physical education class held in the cafe/gym/atorium. Decades later, I’m still having bouts of PTSD.

Over the years, I’ve forced myself to steadfastly and enthusiastically embrace almost every kind of ensemble (or commingling in misery) workout. There was “friend Pilates” which I so thought was for me. I mean, come on, how could it not be? You’re laying down for all it. The problem is the thing that looks like a cot with some cool ropes and pulleys is really a rack stolen from some third-rate medieval museum in Europe or the examination room table from the office of a psychopath gynecologist.

Then, more recently, I signed up for a military grade boot camp where you wake up way too early and drag a tire from an 18-wheeler down the street while being encouraged to grunt your way to fitness. The pack of us, “tire pullers,” sounded like a herd of terminally constipated cattle groaning our way to the stockyard. And I was this close to doing some F word fitness (I think it was fusion or fission) until a friend told me most newbies vomit and/or cry during their first week of class. Hmm, tears and throw up, I think I’m going to have to take a pass on that.

As for the workouts described as being kinder to your body, like yoga, well, true confession time here – I have, what I will politely call, a very robust, vocal lower intestine and I don’t wish to share that in a serene workout environment. The one and only time I tried yoga I made my daughter go with me so if things got, shall we say, noisy, I could blame it on her. It did and I did.

All this exercise angst is why when the FitBit came out I thought I had finally found the perfect workout friend. My husband got one first and he fell in love, like love, love. He and his FitBit are inseparable. I’ve caught him, too many times to keep count, gently caressing it. I’ve even heard him talking to his FitBit. I called him on it and he tried to cover up his FitBit affair with some lame excuse that he was just “thinking aloud.” Yeah, right. Who thinks aloud by cooing love sonnets? One night, I, not so gently, suggested he take the FitBit off when he goes to bed. He gave me a look that said, “I’d sooner sleep on the couch.” I had no choice, for the sake of marital harmony, but to concede that his FitBit fetish is now a part of our relationship. I also thought two can play this game and got myself one.

My FitBitting couldn’t have happened at a better time. I had recently sworn off Spanx, well, really any sort of shape wear, due to a near death experience I had while driving  I found myself in the epicenter of a full-blown Spanx panic attack and while attempting to rip, claw, and gnaw off my Spanx I almost killed myself. The primary problem was that I was dual wielding Spanx. That’s right, I had done Spanx over Spanx and it was cutting off my circulation to such an extent that it had to come off ASAP.

I’m telling you it was one thing getting the Spanx tights off, not easy, but doable, especially if you let them rest at your ankles, but getting off a Spanx Power Brief with one hand on the steering wheel and the other crotch adjacent is a whole other story. The good news – I lived and made a vow that I would never wear shape wear again. This meant I had to really step up my exercise game and the FitBit was going to be my BFF.

Things started off great at first. How could it not? My hot pink FitBit was just darling. I even named it Xnaps (which is Spanx backwards and yes, I know, naming my FitBit makes me weird). It seemed like she knew me, like she got me. You know those relationships where there’s an immediate connection? That was Xnaps and I. She didn’t talk, but she buzzed and when she did it was so positive, life affirming really. But then after a couple of weeks things got bad. Xnaps got all pouty. She stopped buzzing for me. Oh, sure she would buzz on and off, but not with the same level of affection she used to buzz for me. And, even worse, I felt like I was being judged. Xnaps had turned into a passive aggressive witch.

Every time I looked down at my left wrist I felt bad and maybe even a little sad. Who needs that? Not me. Because do you know what happens when I feel bad and sad? I reach out for the healing, and some might say the medicinal, properties of Chips Ahoy and Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies or currently Nothing Bundt Cakes bundtinis (yes, that was me stalking their booth at last month’s Holiday Boutique, but hey there was no sign that said “just take one sample”). My paralyzing fear of overdosing on carbs and sugar left me no choice, but to part ways with Xnaps. It was an ugly break up. I didn’t just put her away in my sock drawer so I could possibly reunite with her down the road. Nope, I kicked her to the curb or more accurately to my husband’s wrist.

You see Xnaps is a newer version of the FitBit and all my husband had to do is change the band from pink to black and he had himself a brand new tech lover. Weirdly, he didn’t stop wearing his old FitBit. In fact, sometimes he’s wears both, like he doesn’t want to have to choose between them. Good for him if he believes he’s man enough to handle two FitBits. Whatever. None of that matters because I’ve now gone old school with exercising. The only thing I bring with me is my dog and, trust me, she’s a lot better company than that judgey FitBit. In fact, I couldn’t recommend a better workout partner.

Hey, Snarky friends please re-like my page on Facebook. I got hacked and had to start my page from scratch. Thanks! Click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog and let your friends know that Snarky is back.

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

 

Dear Snarky – I Write My Teenagers Thank You Notes

Dear SnaManyThanksBACrky,

 I’m in big trouble with my mother! I have two teenagers and over Christmas my 17-year-old daughter spilled the beans to my mom that I have been writing my kids’ thank you notes for years.

 I started doing it when they were in elementary school. I got tired of nagging them so I just sat down and did it. As they’ve gotten older I’ve become pretty good at matching their handwriting style. Yes, I know it was bad parenting, but my mother has blown it out of proportion and says it was an “act of betrayal.”

 Do you have any advice for mending this rift?

 Signed, Thank You Mom

Dear Thank You,

I’m not going to lie. You’ve got a mess on your hands and it’s bigger than writing thanking you notes. Good Lord, woman are you also doing your kids’ homework and penning their college application essays? This is just all kinds of wrong BUT I’m not here to make you feel worse. I’m here to help.

So, the only thing I’ve got for you is telling your mom she’s right. You have to do a full mea culpa and beg for forgiveness. If you have to get on your hands and knees to do it – so be it. THEN I would reexamine your parenting practices.

Perhaps, your daughter sharing with her grandma that you have been writing the thank you notes was a “wake up” call. I’m guessing there are bigger issues of control going on.

P.S. Please don’t write me a thank note for this advice.

Yours, Snarky

Hey, Snarky friends please re-like my page on Facebook. I got hacked and had to start my page from scratch. Thanks! Click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog and let your friends know that Snarky is back.

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

 

There’s Nothing Wrong With a Lame New Year’s Eve

ecards-auto-238532There’s lame and then there’s New Year’s Eve lame. I’m almost certain I hold the record for the lamest, consecutive New Year’s Eves in the history of modern mankind (and by that I mean starting in the mid 1970’s when Dick Clark began hosting his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve).

Even as a teenager my New Year’s Eves were less than awesome. I didn’t spend it at a party or making out with some guy in his car at the stroke of midnight. No, I spent it at home wearing my flannel Lanz of Salzburg nightgown, spritzed with Love’s Baby Soft cologne, eating what was left of the, now somewhat stale, Christmas cookies, watching my parents and Dick Clark show off their math skills as they counted down from ten.

It didn’t get any better in college. Yes, I was sort of an adult and at that time the drinking age was 18, but I was still home for the holidays and that meant I had to abide by my parent’s house rule which was I had to be home by 10 p.m. because, according to my mother, everyone knows the drunks take over the roads at precisely 10:01 Central Standard Time.

After I became a fully formed grown up I got the grand and glorious idea of throwing my own amazing New Year’s Eve party. Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner? If I couldn’t find a great party to go I should create my own. It was the early 1990’s and Martha Stewart’s Living magazine had just come out. Using Martha as my muse I was hellbent on creating an elegant New Year’s Eve for friends. I had a signature cocktail, an hors d’oeuvres station and a dessert table all set up in my less than 1,000 square feet home. (This meant my hors d’oeuvres station was the kitchen counter and my dessert station was an ottoman, but still I know Martha would have been proud.)

Everything went great. I was the hostess with the mostess until 10 p.m. That’s when not one guest was left at my house. Yep, two hours before the new year everyone had bailed on my party. Unbeknownst to me, there was a “cooler” party with tequila shots, and a hot tub happening. My “friends” had done the old “we’ll swing by this shindig first, get it out-of-the-way and then go to the real party” switcheroo. I rang in the New Year with tears and eating what was left of the Martha Stewart goat cheese with pink peppercorns appetizer.

Thank God for babies because after getting married and having kids no one expects you to do anything on New Year’s Eve until your children are old enough to sleep through the night. (So, in my case it meant when my son turned five.)

It took an exciting New Year’s Eve full of surprises to make grateful for all those years of lameness. I was traveling from Dallas to Reno, Nevada with my then three-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. We were going to meet my husband who was already in Reno working at his new job.

A snowstorm of biblical proportions hit the Sierra Nevada’s and forced the plane, after hours of circling, to land at the San Jose, California airport at 2 a.m. We were on the last plane to land and we’re told that all the hotel rooms, rental cars, you name it, had already been gobbled up by other stranded passengers. This meant we’d be camping out at the airport, but not in the nice part, the part where you wait for your plane. Oh no, we had to spend the night in baggage claim.

I was on the floor with my daughter sleeping in my lap and my son using my thighs as a pillow. I had taken the straps of my purse and used them to tie my kids to my body because I was afraid I might fall asleep and someone could try to steal my children. I never closed my eyes. I’d like to think it was because I was a good parent assuming a sentry like position over my kids to keep them safe. But to be truthful I know it was the automated, never-ending loop of “do not leave your bags unattended” that kept me from nodding off.

Finally, at noon the next day we made it to Reno. When I got off the plane I said a prayer hoping for all my New Year’s Eve to be lame. Lame isn’t bad. In fact, it gets a bad rap. Sure it can mean boring, but boring usually means you’re okay. All is well. Is there any better way to start a new year than that? I don’t think so.

Hey, Snarky friends please re-like my page on Facebook. I got hacked and had to start my page from scratch. Thanks! Click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog and let your friends know that Snarky is back.

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.