Dear Snarky – 4 Ways to Mother-In-Law Proof Your Kids

40d640b17d33c77824444cb08e1d270eI get a lot of letters from women asking for help in dealing with difficult mother-in-laws. The letters run the gamut from mothers who still smother their adult children to what I would refer to as the interfering, insufferable witch. My initial reaction when I get these letters is to think, “Wow, you don’t have a mother-in-law problem you have a husband problem. He needs to man the hell up.”

All of these letters and the “man up” issue got me thinking that perhaps the best way to improve the mother-in-law experience is for parents to raise better kids.

Yeah, that’s right I said to raise better kids and by that I mean as mothers we need to make sure we’re raising strong children so when they become adults and marry they’ll be able to stand up to the most formidable of live forces – their mothers.

So that said, here’s my list of 4 Ways to Mother-In-Law Proof Your Kids.

1) Don’t use the guilt trip as your primary parenting tool. When your go to is guilt you’re raising kids who as adults will be susceptible to any and all forms of emotional terrorism. Long-term exposure to guilt makes people weak, fragile and oh so very manipulatable. No parent can possibly want that for their child.

2) Teach your child to be independent, that’s it’s okay for them to slowly learn to separate from you and become their own fully functioning human. I know many mothers like the fact that their kids are clingy and some take it as a compliment as in, “Look my 11-year-old loves me so much she can’t let go.” Fast forward 20 years and it’s not so cute when your 31-year-old is living in your basement with three kids and on her second failed marriage.

3) It’s okay to say no to family. Be a role model, have your children see you putting your immediate family first and not being bullied into doing something just because “it’s always been done that way” or because your husband’s mom’s grandma will get angry if you don’t have Christmas at her house every single freaking year.

4) Know that your long-term parenting goals is to raise an adult who no longer needs you. Sure, they love you, but they don’t need you involved in the day-to-day  minutiae of their lives.

In fact, I believe the best marital advice I can give is when you get married your spouse occupies the number one spot on your “List of Awesome”. When you have kids they start filling up the number 2,3 (and so forth) spots. You, as a mother of an adult child, have to not only be prepared to be bumped from that number one spot, but to be joyous about it for it means you have done your job well.

If you have questions for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice with An Attitude” please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

I Got An F In Homeschooling

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.30.18 AMSomeone please explain to me how several weeks ago it was “breaking news” that a 22-year-old woman is pregnant, especially a young woman with no job, no formal education, who lives in the Ozarks and is married to a teenage boy. Wouldn’t it be breaking news if she weren’t pregnant?

Okay, I’ll admit that Jessa Dugger (the expectant mother), whose sole claim to fame is that her mom, Michelle, has a very sturdy uterus and has birthed more than a dozen and half children, is a little bit of reality “star” from the TLC network show “19 Kids and Counting”. But come on, “breaking news” that she’s expecting a baby?

I get why people watch the Duggar’s TV show. I gave it a lookie loo primarily to witness a mother who has that many kids and chooses to homeschool them. I can’t imagine not wanting the euphoric relief of putting at least half of them on the school bus five days a week. If I were that mom the sweetest sound in the world would be the squeal of the school bus brakes as it stopped in front of my house.

Not that homeschooling doesn’t have its appeal. In the TV world homeschooling mamas attract viewers. You’ve got the Duggar Mom on TLC and that Pioneer lady on the Food Network.

In fact, it was fellow homeschooling mothers that helped propel the Pioneer Woman onto the radar of the Food Network. When I discovered that maybe one of the reasons she got a cooking show I felt better about the tastebuds of the world-at-large.

I have nothing against the Pioneer Woman. She seems delightful, but when your cooking show is so void of actual cooking (my theory is because everything she make seems to be based on an eight ounce jar of Ragu or a sleeve of Oreos) that the most consistent and oft-repeated camera shot is a close up of you washing your hands, well, you know you’re not really killing it in the kitchen.

I even feel a little bit guilty right now not having these two legendary homeschooling mothers’ backs. For you see, I was a homeschool mom. I’ll wait a second for you to stop laughing.

Here’s the quick back-story. My husband and I knew, sort of, that we would be moving soon and decided to not subject our then 12-year-old son to a junior high that had more lock downs than school assemblies. I was fully ready to assume the mantel of educator until my son empathetically told me, “I don’t want to get dumb so you better let me handle this.”

Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. Forget about the pressure of making sure your kid isn’t an idiot the real drama is some of those homeschool moms. Talk about cliquey – yikes!

There’s the super holy “Jesus is the reason” group, and then there’s the “toxins in the classroom are killing our kids” group which overlaps the anti-vaxxers which has nothing on the “my kids are too smart to go to school because they were reading chapter books and I mean real ones not that Magic Tree House claptrap 11 weeks post womb.”

Once moms found out I was homeschooling it was like I was being rushed for a sorority. You know, until they found out I was the “our local junior high kind of stinks so we’re giving this a try until we move in a couple of months” mother.

The one thing all the moms did share were very intense emotions regarding homeschooling. A lot of them felt like it was their calling (and I love this and it means these women are far superior to me) which explains why they’ve rallied around and I’m guessing had a hand, due to sheer numbers, of propelling the “19 Kids and Counting” Mom and the “Pioneer Woman” to fame. This all leaves me a little disappointed in myself.

What if I had embraced homeschooling and instead of Snarky in the Suburbs was Harried & Homeschooling. Maybe I would have legions of followers or dare I dream my own cooking show. (I can see the camera close-ups of my hands already)

Maybe it’s not too late for me. I still have one kid in school, my 14-year-old daughter. What if I yanked her out of 9th grade and began a most wondrous mother and child journey of educational awakening and enrichment? I’m getting serious butterflies of excitement just thinking about it.

Wait, no scratch that, butterflies are gone, way gone.

Trapped 24/7 with a hormonal teenager whose mood swings are so turbulent some days I feel like I’m on riding shotgun on a tsunami. Yeah, that’s a great big no can do.

Not any amount of fame would be worth it for either of us. The only reality show that would come out of that would be When Mothers Go Cray – The True Life Tale of a “Yeah, I Thought Homeschooling Would Be Parenting Bliss” Mom.

Not that it wouldn’t be ratings gold.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion 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 – More Cheer Mama Drama

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 9.53.02 AMDear Snarky,

 My daughter is a varsity cheerleader at her high school and why that is great I’m afraid most of the cheer moms now hate me.

 The reason is I got sick of the flyer mom clique acting all high and mighty because their daughters get thrown in the air. My daughter is a base and these moms make snide remarks all the time because they think the bases, who they call the “big girls” “just stand there” and hold the “real cheerleaders.”

 So. Over. It.

 Without strong girls as the base their kids wouldn’t get thrown in the air or worse could be dropped. So after a whole year of putting up with this at the cheer banquet I jokingly mentioned to one mom that she better shut up or just maybe my daughter wouldn’t catch her daughter the next time she’s thrown in the air.

 Well, now that comment has turned into a mom shit storm. Any advice I how I can repair the damage?

Signed, Sad Cheer Mom

Dear Sad,

 First, you should never ever joke about the safety of another child. I get it. You were angry. You had put up with this nonsense all year. Seriously, moms forming cliques and pecking orders based on what position their kid is on the cheer squad – totally cray. (Not as cray as the Texas woman who put out a hit on another cheer mom, but good mental health does seem to be in limited supply when dealing with some of these pom-pom parents.)

 As I see it your best course of action is do a group apology via email. Let all the moms know that your comment was taken out of context and that your daughter would NEVER intentionally drop a teammate nor would you EVER want her too. State how proud you are of your strong daughter, her teammates etc.

 Keep your fingers crossed that during the summer this all blows over. Based on the level of deluxe crazy I’ve seen with cheer moms I’m thinking something else will happen soon, like one of the moms wearing her daughter’s cheer outfit to the grocery store, (yeah, that happened in my town. There was a mom just shopping at Trader Joe’s wearing her kids cheer outfit. The only thing missing was the big ole bow) to get the heat off of you.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

Ugh- Politics

Can we all join hands right now and say a prayer for  all the Hawkeyes out there? And by this I mean the residents ofpolitical-cocktail-party-napkin Iowa who are of legal voting age. These poor put-upon people have to endure a plague of politicians that is so intense it’s Old Testament in nature.

I heart the Constitution and the voting process, but if I lived in Iowa I’d be afraid to visit a local coffee shop or cafe for the next year and a half. In fact, it’s probably next to impossible to leave your house without being molested by campaigners or campaign literature.

And may Lady Liberty have mercy on your soul if you’re a farmer or own a tractor because the TV news crews will want a good old boy soundbite from you. It won’t matter if you just moved to Iowa from New York City. As long as your fanny is perched in the seat of a John Deere something or other, you’re news gold.

I think this is a case of being careful what you wish for. Sure, it sounds good to be the state with its caucus being the first major electoral event for nominating the president. But in reality it has to get old being stuck behind the (insert candidate of your choice name here) van, bus, or shudder, motorcade.

It’s not that I don’t have passion for the voting process. Years ago I was certain my campaign for Richfield High School Student Council vice president would scar me for life and severely hinder my ability to participate in anything political in nature, but I’ve managed to work through the pain and bitterness (not that it didn’t take decades).

I do, though, what to go on record as saying no one should lose an election solely due to an opponent’s throwing a “get out the vote” beer bust. Hello, I had amazing signs lining the school hallways and my campaign speech was stellar and didn’t end in “Dudes, let’s get drunk!” (Too bad my opponent can’t say that.)

In fact, I consider myself politically polyamorous. There are things I like about almost every party’s persuasion. I credit my parents for this. My dad is very much a Republican and my mother, well, she was what you might call a train wreck in terms of her voting record. One of her claims to fame was being the single vote in the Texas county we lived in for John Anderson in the 1980 presidential campaign.

I remember watching the televised returns with my parents and there on the screen pops up John Anderson — 1. She was beaming with pride. For a solid week the whole family referred to her as Mrs. Anderson. We did it to tick her off, but I think she loved it.

I’ve even got some caucus experience under my belt. This maybe why I so keenly feel for Iowans. Back when I lived in Nevada, I participated in the state’s presidential caucus. Of course, because it’s Nevada the caucus took place in a ballroom of a casino.

Nothing says serious debates and thoughtful deliberation like being adjacent to blackjack tables and nickel slots. It also didn’t help that multiple bars were open 24/7. By 10 a.m. folks were tipsy, by lunchtime they were hammered and by 3 p.m. it would be hours (if not days) before a lot of them could pass a field sobriety test.

Not to cast aspersions BUT the most inebriated caucus participants seemed to be for one candidate. I, being for the other candidate, was growing tired of the drunken fratboy-like antics of this opposing group. We were here to make history people — sober up! As the day went on I, finally, had reached the breaking point and felt it was my civic duty to do something about this flock of fools.

So, I got up, strutted over and told them to drink some coffee and be good Americans. I really went red, white and blue all over their asses. Guess what I got in return? Boos. Yes, I was booed! And not gently booed. Oh no, it was boisterous booing with an overlay of heckling.

People, I was thrilled! If you don’t have “getting booed for doing the right thing” on your bucket list, put it on there immediately. It’s beyond stimulating. As the boos grew louder I stood even taller and did what I believe our founding fathers would have not just approved of, but rewarded me with a proud tip of their tricorn. I poured a drink on the loudest booer’s head. And then I quickly walked/ran to the nearest ladies room and hid in a stall for a good 30 minutes.

God Bless America.

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*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 – WTH On Gender Reveal Parties?

tumblr_inline_n83ulw2umC1sy7t8zDear Snarky,

Would you please share with me your feelings concerning Gender Reveal parties? I just went to my first one, with at least 50 people there, and was made to feel like a loser because I didn’t bring a gift. My question is why do you bring a gift if you don’t know the sex of the baby yet? And how has this become a thing? Am I wrong to think it’s just another excuse for people to shake down their friends for gifts?

Signed, Confused

 Dear Confused,

I admit to being baffled over the concept of the gender reveal party so I did some digging (which dear_snarky_logomeans at least 8 minutes of extensive googling) and I blame Pinterest. Somebody a couple of years shared some pics of a super cutesy is it a boy or girl cake and voila – you have the entertainment behemoth that is the gender reveal.

Now, that we have that mystery solved take a deep breath and let these words soothe you. You are not alone. The Gender Reveal party is goofy. Okay, maybe not goofy, but I’m going to take a stand and say People of Earth can we, for the love of all that his holy, quit turning every life event into a party where friends, business associates, co-workers, people you nod at in church or the grocery line and neighbors six houses down and to the left are required to bring a gift?

 So, based on that petite rant – no you were not wrong to arrive at the party empty-handed. In fact, I applaud you for going at all because I have research (yes, research) that shows folks who have gender reveal parties will also be inviting you to at least 4 or more baby showers.  They’ll get that gift from you one way or another – trust me.

 So, stand strong, hold your head up high, and know that you did nothing wrong. You know except be friends with someone who would subject 50 of their “closest” friends to such an event.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice with an Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.  

 

The Dog Park

If I had to make a top 10 lisdog-humort of my favorite things in life my dogs would be on it. I know I should feel bad that one of my siblings wouldn’t make the list. I also know I should feel fiercely ashamed that Diet Coke would make the list before the aforementioned sibling, but here’s the thing: Diet Coke’s not crazy. I can’t really say that about my oldest brother.

But enough of my family drama let’s get back to dogs – wonderful, amazing dogs. I’m one of those people who if I was forced to choose would more often than not take the company of canines over people. They’re great listeners, non judgmental and don’t talk back. Does it get any better than that? I mean really, who cares how much they shed?

Recently, one of our beloved dogs passed away. Usually when we lose a dog our family tradition has been to have a period of mourning and reflection before getting a new addition to the family. Last month, my husband freelanced on that rule and while I was out-of-town adopted a dog. He assured me that “Tahoe”, a rescue beagle, was as mellow as they come. In fact, he described the dog as “totally chill.”

This stumped me a little because although I don’t know a lot about beagles I was pretty sure the word chill wasn’t an accurate description of the breed. When I got home Tahoe was indeed a most mellow fellow. We found out that next day this was because he had pneumonia. After a hefty vet bill and one week of recovery Tahoe’s personality was in full bloom.

The dog is gregarious and has never met a stranger. He also believes every animate and inanimate object adores him. A walk with Tahoe through the neighborhood feels like he’s campaigning for public office. I’m certain he could get out of the vote for, at the very least, County Commissioner. Due to his exuberant personality I thought he might enjoy the new dog park.

I took my son with me as backup in case Tahoe with acres to roam went, I don’t know, full wolf or something. Once we got inside the park and it was time to let our dog loose I felt like the theme song from Born Free should be playing.

For those you who not familiar with this almost fifty-year-old movie let me tell you all you need to know. A couple raises an abandoned lion cub and then when it grows up they have to release it back into the wild and many tears are shed as Born free, as free as the wind blows, As free as the grass grows, Born free to follow your heart plays over a montage of the lion bounding off into the open African Savannah. (As a child of the 70’s it’s doesn’t have the full boo hoo quality of say a Brian’s Song, but it’s close.)

As soon as Tahoe is leash-less he takes off like a Walmart shopper first in the door at a Black Friday sale. He even gives us an over the shoulder “so long suckers” look. I feared he was a goner. I knew using simple math that it would be quite a feat for him to jump the fence, but never being one to underestimate the brilliance and determination of the canine spirit I didn’t rule out some sort of elaborate tunnel system dug by the dogs, in shifts, when their humans weren’t looking.

I frantically tell my son to start running after Tahoe. He gives me the teenage “no way” eye roll. I quickly explain that I almost certain the dog is going AWOL. He shakes his head at me and matter-of-factly says, “Relax, no one, most especially our dogs, would ever want to leave you.”

I’m irrationally excited by this statement. It might be, perhaps, the best compliment I’ve ever received in my life, but before I can delve deeper for clarification and a chance to extrapolate on the praise (I mean it’s not like I get many accolades from my teenagers. I think the last nice thing my kids said to me was back in 2013 and it was that  “dinner was decent.”) Tahoe comes barreling back towards us like a soccer ball kicked by the love child of Thor and She-Hulk. My son smirks at me and simply says, “See, I told you he come right back.”

“Because I’m awesome right?”

“Well, maybe and it doesn’t hurt that you feed him steak.”

Not quite the continued declaration of my greatness I was looking for, but I’ll take it. If I want real devotion there’s always the superior mammal to turn to – dogs.

*Attention SnaScreen Shot 2014-12-29 at 11.01.47 PMrky 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 – Help, I’ve Lied To My Mom Friends!

609d7b389ff7a7660fe3e11a39842d59Dear Snarky,

I’m the mother of a soon to be kindergartener. All my pre-school mom friends are going to be sending their kids off to a private kindergarten in the fall. I kind of, because I didn’t want to be the odd man out, lied that my son would also being going to this private kindergarten. The truth is we can’t afford it and our public schools are great.

Well, now all the moms are talking about the Spring Welcome to Kindergarten meeting and I have to fess up that my child will never be going to that school.

What’s the best way to do this and not look like a big liar?

Signed,

Worried Mom

dear_snarky_logo-1 Dear Worried,

 I could tell you to cleanse your conscience and be 100% truthful yet I’m sure that’s not the kind of advice you’re seeking. I’m guessing you want me to give you a way to save face. So, because this is Dear Snarky not Dear Abby here’s what I recommend.

 Share with your posse of pre school moms that after much soul-searching and thoughtful deliberation you and your husband have decided to support your local public schools. You feel as a family that by investing in public education you are doing your part to build a better community for everyone.

 I call this a two-fer. It gets you out of a sticky spot and you’re making yourself sound like a burgeoning community activist.

 Now for some advice you didn’t ask for. In the future stop trying so hard to fit in with the herd and quit fibbing. There are only so many times I’m going to be able to come to your rescue. 

If you have a question for Dear Snarky, “21st Century advice with an attitude” please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

 

So It’s Come to This – The Butt Selfie

ec94fa2ed4efb220cf5761f7f50a765556e7932611342c5b1cba10e542bcb037The good and bad thing about writing  is that people are always suggesting story ideas. These suggestions are usually termed like this, “Hey, I’ve got something new for you to complain about . . .”

Okay, I get it. I complain – a lot. I’d like to think I’m complaining for the greater good of mankind, but my thought process on that hypothesis could be a tad misguided.

Recently, I’ve had a lot of mothers (and by that I mean more than three) have asked me to write/grouse about the skimpy Sports Illustrated magazine swimsuit edition cover. For those of you without the benefit of sight the magazine features a woman wearing a bikini bottom that would be snug on an American Girl doll and provides minimal coverage of only the most basic parts of the female anatomy.

Here’s my problem with the photo. I don’t have one. Yep, I have zero issues with it. The model is an adult and I’m fairly certain she didn’t have regrets posing semi nude or was in any way surprised that a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue would involve stripping down to almost your birthday suit.

In fact, I think the magazine cover is actually a duel ode to the art form known as Photoshopping and the waxing industry. Can you imagine a cover like that before having bald nether regions were in vogue? Just no on that visual. Right?

What I want to say to women who were offended by the cover is that if they really want to be horrified they need to check out the Instagram accounts of 14 year-old-girls on Spring break. There you can behold picture after picture of girls in their bikinis who have taken what I would classify as burgeoning soft-core pornography shots. Close ups of their breasts in their swimsuit tops and butt photos all abound on social media. One girl even attempted to get artisty and have a cheek shot on the beach with the sun setting behind her behind.

Tragically, that’s not the worst part. The comments and “likes” the photos elicit are. This is where friends, classmates and God forbid strangers take to leaving remarks about the sexy photo a child has posted of themselves. It’s creepy and crass.

It also makes me very sad and scared. What has happened to this generation of entry-level young women that they feel the need, the desire, to objectify themselves on a very public stage and then eagerly wait for comments?

I know it’s nothing new to strut your stuff. But back in the day we did it at the local pool and our Sears Lemon Frog swim wear was no Victoria’s Secret cheekster bikini.

Sure, we can take the easy way out and blame the Kardashians. If you’re parenting a girl over the age of 11 the reality TV, social media savvy family can be used as an excuse for almost any questionable behavior your daughter maybe exhibiting. For example, wanting to wear a rainbow thong in the 6th grade – so Kardashian. Wanting to post a picture of yourself in a thong in the 8th grade – so Kim Kardashian.

Iffy role models aside what’s really going on here? Are teenage girls so lacking in self-esteem that they feel the need to go full boob on Instagram just so someone can leave a comment that they are “hot”?

Now, please note I’m not picking on just girls. I know teenage boys way overshare and there’s a reason local middle schools have assemblies about why you “shouldn’t post nudes online.”

But, and this is what was keeping me at night, why aren’t the kids afraid of their parents bringing down a mega load of wrath if and when they discover these photos? To get this question answered I went straight to the source – 13 and 14-year-old girls.

Umm, there’s no easy way for me to break this to you, but a lot of the Spring break pictures, most especially the ones featuring fannies, were taken by mothers!

The sun setting rear end shot I mentioned early that highlighted a 14-year-old’s back end spilling out of what I would graciously describe as less of a swimsuit bottom and more of a piece of lycra supplying crack camo was photographed by a M-O-M!

This makes me want so many things to happen like a national holiday celebrating the full coverage panty. But mainly I want to urge parents to teach, preach, shout it from the rooftops, do a yard sign, and maybe some kind of decal for the car (I mean seriously, who cares that you ran 22.2 miles? Wouldn’t a sticker that says my daughter is in training to run the universe be even better?) that our daughters have so much more to offer humankind than a selfie of their butt.

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 – Grandmother-In-Law Problems

Dear Snarky,dear_snarky_logo-1

My husband is very close with his grandma. Actually, all the males in the family are close with her. However, all the females in the family despise this woman. She’s very sexist, and her comments are often justified by “she’s just old-fashioned.” I don’t buy it. I’ve yet to meet a woman who is a total jerk because they’re “old-fashioned.”

She constantly tells women their “place” in the household and expects the females to do everything for the men without help.

I love my husband but I’m afraid to hurt him by telling him that I cannot stand this woman and do not want to see her. What do I do about my crazy grandmother in law?

Signed, Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

It sounds like you have less of a grandmother-in-law issue and more of a husband problem. Of course all the men in the family adore her. She’s probably been mandating spoiling these dudes all their lives. If you’re them what’s not to like about that?

 What these now grown ass men (and specifically your husband) need to do is put on their big boy britches and stand up for their wives. No more hiding behind grandma skirts and pretending they don’t see what’s going on.

 I’m not advocating being mean to a granny. What I am saying is that your husband needs to start being firm with his grandmother by letting her know that he has zero tolerance for anyone disrespecting the love of his life – that’s you by the way not his nana – just in case you were confused.

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

My House Hates Me

home_improvement_hell_steinIf you want to have your heart broken all you need to do is buy a home that’s a fixer upper. It’s like falling in love with that boy in high school and telling yourself he would be “just perfect” if only he would get a haircut and use some prescription strength acne cream. The problem is the acne is just a visual distraction (kind of like a house with popcorn ceilings) that diverts your eye from an abundance of other, more egregious, problems lurking just below the surface.

You know you’re head over heels in trouble when your steamy home romance has you making excuses for all the telltale signs of upcoming disaster by deceiving yourself with the phrase, “but the house has such good bones.” As soon as you utter this you’re on your way to a messy, expensive beyond your wildest dreams, tear laden, love affair.

Not that being passionate about your home is a bad thing. Oh, trust me, you’ll need the ardor to fuel your delusional fantasy that the remodeling will come in on budget, be completed in a timely fashion, and not almost wreck your marriage. If you choose to attempt to do some of the “fixing upping” yourself, well, all I have to say is, “my thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of need.”

Just remember when things go horribly wrong, it’s not your fault for thinking you can handle a “gut job” on your master bathroom. Nope, that blame is placed squarely on the load bearing support beams of any design show on HGTV.

Talk about being seduced. Is there anything that arouses your DIY lust like watching a home renovation program? They all start off with the most titillating of promises. The home they’re working on goes from sad to fab in less than 60 minutes. Then there’s the foreplay of a renovation team devoting there undying due diligence, tile cutting prowess and gentle painting caresses to its transformation. The pinnacle of your DIY desire hits its peak with the reveal. After riding out that crest of home remodeling euphoria you’re all in to recreate the experience in your own neck of the cul-de-sac.

Sadly, it’s never the same in real life. Take the previously mentioned popcorn ceiling. Scrapping that gunk off looks easy enough. If you are to believe everything you see on TV all you apparently need is what looks like a spatula Sasquatch would use for flipping pancakes, a few squirts of a mixture of water and fabric softener, some limited arm movement and like magic the feta cheese sized stucco pieces gracefully disengage with all the artistry of the Sugar Plum fairy doing a pirouette from your ceiling leaving only smooth, sleek, drywall behind.

In reality, you’re perched on a ladder that’s seen better days, gripping the stucco spatula and using brute force strength, while cursing as you choke back tears, when the popcorn either won’t come off or you’ve pressed so hard you’re now going to have to get new drywall. When the stucco finally does release it’s death grip it invariably either gets in your eyes and if you’re really having a bad day your mouth. Stucco, it’s what’s for dinner (at least it was for me).

A popcorn ceiling is nothing when compared to what seems like the easiest of all DIY tasks – wallpaper removal. In theory wallpaper is supposed to come off like it went on – in floor to ceiling sheets. But no, that is not the way it happens. I’m telling you something weird went on in tin the 1980’s. I’ve done extensive research on this (and by that I mean complained to many) and I’ve yet to find a home built in that decade where anyone sized their wallpaper. Did a swarm of anti wallpaper sizing zombies invade the region? Or was it some sort of conspiracy by the federation of  Wallpaper Hangers to ensure their handiwork was an eternal monument to their craft?

For those of you blessed to not know what sizing wallpaper means let me explain. Sizing is a primer application designed to create the necessary base so that adhesives can stick AND, more importantly to anyone buying your home in the future, so that wallpaper can be removed with ease. Gather in my friends and let me tell you a horror story about what happens when you don’t size your wallpaper. It doesn’t want to come off – ever!

In the tradition of grand romances the wallpaper has mated with the drywall for life. It clings with a tenacity heretofore reserved only for grumpy toddlers not wanting to let go of their mothers when they’re dropped off at preschool. When you finally do liberate the wallpaper from the drywall it rips off in almost microscopic pieces about the size of an eyelash.

I’m not too proud to admit that one day last year, my husband came home from work to find me sitting in the middle of our laundry room floor, surrounded by mounds of wallpaper bits, sobbing. I’m talking the ugly cry. I was in the midst of a wallpaper removal nervous breakdown because I was reduced to using TWEEZERS to get the wallpaper down!

But wait, there’s more, my saga continues. In other parts of my house not only is the wallpaper not sized, but somewhere in my home’s lineage a former owner painted over the wallpaper. It’s a home decorating screw you because it’s means it’s never, ever coming down. Your one and only choice is something along the lines of new drywall. Cha and ching.

In fact, I think there should be some sort of residential remodeling court of criminal law that prosecutes “crimes against the home.” Not sizing wallpaper should result in being sent to a work camp where you’re sentenced to a week of hard labor doing, you guessed it, removing wallpaper equipped with only a bottle of water and your fingernails. And for those domestic decorating terrorist who dare to paint over wallpaper I don’t think it’s too harsh to go for the death penalty. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but at the very least they should be banned from ever entering a Home Depot or Lowe’s and put on some sort of home remodeler watch list.

I’d love to be able to tell you that all the pain, suffering, and heartbreak of owning a fixer upper is worth it. But, alas I can’t. I’m still remodeling. Although, I see signs that someday, in the distant future, of being madly in love with my house. First though, I have to get all the blasted wallpaper down. Yeah, I’m still peeling it off bit by tiny bit.

 

*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! :)