Dear Snarky – I Have a Trash Peeping Neighbor

Dear Snarky,

I have a neighbor that is so nosy she is literally going through my family’s trash cans. I have seen her many times looking at our trash after we take it to the curb on trash pick up day and then when I see her she makes comments about our lifestyle based on what was in our trash.

She’s mentions everything from the number of boxed wines cartons we had in our recycle can to how many fast food bags we had in our trash. One time she even commented on an empty prescription pill container.

We have kids in the same school so I don’t want to make an enemy of this woman but it needs to stop. My husband says we should call the police and report her for invasion of privacy but I think that would be going too far. Please help us.

Signed, Trashy Neighbor Problem

Dear Trashy,

First, know that you’re not alone. I also had a neighbor that enjoyed peeping into my family’s trash cans and then making snippy comments. So, here’s a couple of tried and true ways to get your neighbor to back away from your cans.

You could go the boring route and pile rocks on the tops of your trash cans making it much harder and much more conspicuous for her to open the cans. You could also place something icky on the top layer like your dogs refuse OR you can do something that is more fun.

Go and buy a cheap diary. The key here is that it has to say diary on it in big bold letters. Then on the first page write – “Dear Diary, my family fears for the sanity of our neighbor. She keeps rummaging through our trash and my husband is ready to call the police. I also think I need to tell all the other neighbors about what she is doing and we’re planning to call an emergency neighborhood meeting to address the problem. Hopefully she stops soon and the matter will resolve itself before things get anymore messy. I would hate for this woman to have to go through the embarrassment of being trash peeping shamed.”

Your next step is to place this diary on the very top of your trash can. Trust me she won’t be able to resist  doing a little lookie loo and she’ll get the message – big time.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Buried Alive In Laundry

Laundry had taken over my life. I’m used to the rhythm of my day including at least one load of laundry but what was different was that my laundry had morphed from the humdrum of “throw a load in” to raging laundry distress.

It all started when my daughter and her clothes arrived home from college. As soon as we hit the driveway she announced that all of her clothes needed to be cleaned because the “disgusting” dorm washers and dryers had “ruined” everything.

I was skeptical of this pronouncement and figured it was more of a dodge or stalling tactic so that she wouldn’t have to carry her assorted suitcases and plastic bins up to her room and begin the arduous process of unpacking.

When I shared this thought with her she stated emphatically that her clothes were “messed up” and began weaving a tale of woe that included everything from Tide Pods that never thoroughly dissolved to washers that left stains on clothes and dryers that “seared a funky smell” into everything she owned.

It was a thoroughly convincing and dramatic diatribe and to be honest she had me at funky smell and she knew it. I have an overactive olfactory response to any scent that can’t be classified as a Febreze fragrance. There was no way I was going to have laundry in my house that didn’t smell Gain or at the very least lavender fresh.

This meant my kitchen was turned into a dirty clothes triage center because the job was way too big for my laundry room. I went full C.S.I. laying out each article of clothing and examining it for stains with the aid of my husband’s 2.0 reading glasses. And while yes I could have had my daughter help me this wasn’t a job for amateurs. It was professional grade territory – only.

After locating the stains I then had to diagnose the nomenclature and prescribe the best course for eradication. Do I go bleach pen, full bleach, stain stick, Oxiclean spray or Oxiclean granules? Do I let it soak or do a full scrub?

For hours I was duel wielding a Shout gel stick and Spray N’ Wash bottle. It was a Herculean task because my daughter wasn’t exaggerating almost every article of clothing she owned was in need of some TLC.

Luckily one of my super powers is laundry. I trace it back to watching my grandmother wash my grandpa’s clothes. He was a West Virginia coal miner and came home filthy. The way my grandma could take those dirty clothes and almost magically turn them into back into billowy clouds of cleanliness was inspiring.

(P.S. If you ever want to have a deep conversation about ironing cotton dress shirts hit me up. I learned from the master. My grandmother would wash the shirts, then soak them in a starch solution letting them get almost dry and then put the shirts in the refrigerator. Hours later she would take the shirts out and iron them. The finished product was a masterpiece.)

Channeling my grandmother, I took each stain as my personal nemesis. They must and would be vanquished. After two days, yes two days, everything was pristine. The satisfaction I got from hampers filled with clean clothes that smelled like sunshine was so intense I was concerned that I might have gotten a contact high from the bleach pen. But then I thought I should just enjoy it because while all the laundry was done it still had to be put away and that, as any mother will tell you, is not any child’s superpower.

Reach me at snarkyinthesuburbs@ gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs on Instagram @snarky.in.the.suburbs, and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.

 

 

Dear Snarky – Church Camp Went Straight to Hell Before It Even Started

Dear Snarky,

 My daughter has been excited about going to summer sleep away church camp since we signed her up for it in January. I recently found out that she won’t be bunking with her three best friends. A mom, who signed up late, bribed the church secretary to change the cabin assignments. The secretary sells some nutritional juice line and I was told that this mom bought a ton of it to get her daughter into the “good cabin” which meant my daughter got kicked out.

 I’m so angry! I can’t believe this has happened to my child. Right now I don’t even want her to go camp. Also, what can I do about this horrible church secretary?

 Signed, Summer is Already Ruined

Dear Summer,

 The first thing you need to do is put a mom spin on the cabin re-assignment. Tell your daughter there’s been a snafu and while she won’t be rooming with her best friends she will get a chance to make some new friends in another cabin which is a big part of summer camp –broadening your horizons.

 Also, remind her that she will be very busy at camp and will still get to do everything with her best friends except share sleeping quarters. Make it seem like this could be the best of both worlds. Sell it sister!

 As for the scheming mom and the greedy church secretary I would go straight to your minister about this wanton display of broken commandments. The secretary needs to be fired – pronto. She abused her position of trust and I bet the entire Sunday offering plate that this wasn’t her first rodeo. I’m sure she has a long history of being super shady.

 And to the mom who bribed the secretary she’ll eventually get what’s coming to her – like maybe choke on all that nutritional juice she bought. What YOU don’t want to do is give her the power to ruin your daughter’s summer camp experience. You need to rise above this and encourage your child to have a wonderful time.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Talk Blocked By the Thrones/Avenger Universe

For the first time in my life I feel decidedly disconnected from the majority of humanity. I, a woman who loves to talk, have recently had zero to contribute to almost any conversation.

Over the weekend I was at an event and the topic of most people’s discussions left me with the dreaded dual emotions of being confused and lonely. I literally haven’t felt this boxed out of the social tête-à-tête since I was in the seventh grade and sat at the cool kids table in the cafeteria. I mistakenly thought having a “Charlie Angel’s” lunchbox and shampooing with “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific” was the ticket to popularity. Suffice it say I was wrong, really, really wrong.

I believe I’m being ostracized because I’m one of the few mortals with an internet connection that hasn’t seen so much as a frame of the “Game of Thrones” or any Marvel movie e-v-e-r. For a second I thought I had seen a Marvel movie because two years ago I went to “Wonder Woman” and loved it but when I tried to chime into a conversation with a Wonder Woman bon mot some supercilious super hero geek gave me a dressing down that was so intense I felt like I was right back at that middle school lunch table.

I’m sorry but if you’re an adult who is getting mail about joining AARP it’s time to calm yourself over a person not knowing that Wonder Woman is in the DC Universe and has no relationship to Marvel . I get it, people are passionate about comic book characters but it’s not like I said Captain America wasn’t hot. In fact, in terms of life’s mistakes not knowing what comic book family Wonder Woman resides in is pretty tame. Excuse me for not being super hero savvy enough to grasp that Wonder Woman hails from Paradise Island in the DC Universe. My bad.

I am smart enough to keep my mouth firmly shut when any “Game of Thrones” discussions start. All I know is that winter has come and left, there’s dragons, lots of other freaky stuff like a Starbuck’s cup was left on a table in a land that is pre cellulose fiber paper and that Joe Jonas, my daughter’s tween boy band crush, married a star from the series. Other than that I’ve got nothing.

 This whole being out of the loop is getting to me. So much so that I told my husband I was going to binge watch every single “Game of Thrones” episode. He laughed and informed me that I don’t have the time or the attention span to do that because it would take days and also an HBO subscription.

As he was laughing at me I looked it up on my phone and he wasn’t kidding. I would need 70 plus hours to get my Game of Thrones on. #hardpass. My desire to contribute to the conversational zeitgeist draws the line at that many hours of dragons and Defcon 1 level family throw downs.

I thought that perhaps immersing myself in the Marvel movies was the better way to go. I was all in to see the “Avengers” until I was emphatically told by two strangers who overheard my pronouncement that one just doesn’t go to see “Avengers: Infinity War” without viewing all the other movies in chronological order. Apparently, I needed the context to grasp the storyline.

I bravely asked, “But do I? It’s basically good versus evil. There’s a big fight. Good wins.”

Yep, you guessed it. I was transported back to that middle school lunch table again. Maybe I’ll just enjoy being quiet.

It Wasn’t Pretty But I Did It

It seemed so scary and intimidating. Every time I would walk by the room I tried to avert my eyes but I couldn’t help but peek in. It’s weirdness called to me. What was this contraption and why did it have steel bars, pulleys and then two fuzzy things attached?

The whole thing looked like an old school jungle gym got jiggy with the hardware section at Home Depot. There were pulleys, springs, and steel bars all connected to what appeared to be a twin bed that would be considered luxury living in a torpedo room on a submarine.

 

The finishing touches were two furry objects that resembled extra large novelty dice from an 18-wheeler big rig convention. Yeah, it was that kooky with a bit of a creep factor.

I finally, after months of hemming and hawing came to the conclusion that I had to investigate. I was going into the belly of this best. Never mind that it could put me in personal peril and plunge me into abject embarrassment it had to be done. I had decided to go one-on-one with the frightening looking thing in the private sessions room at my Pilates hang out. I was going to conquer something called the Cadillac Reformer.

The Cadillac Reformer was invented by Joseph Pilates way back in the day. It’s a more, let’s say heightened, version of the basic reformer, which is a platform that runs on a track. Because I’m not that big of an idiot (and it also wasn’t allowed) I started my journey with a guide.

Her name was Olivia and she seemed unafraid.  This Pilates Goddess was the master of this large, unyielding apparatus and it appeared to obey her every command. She could flip on it. She could swing on, turn herself upside down on it and every step of the way she was in total control.

I tried to stall getting on the Cadillac for a long time. I chatted, I asked questions, I took a water break but the moment of truth had arrived. I had to get on the apparatus.

I know over the years I have shared with you how ungraceful and coordination challenged I am. (My whole P.E. career, I’m talking kindergarten through 12th grade I was picked last for every single team sport. Bonus – I’ve also never been able to touch my toes or sit crisscross applesauce.)

This reformer represented every athletic related fear I’ve ever had. Now add in that I can’t hide my failings because I’m one-on-one with an instructor and you have an all you can eat buffet of humiliation spread out before you.

I was shaking as I climbed on the reformer. When Olivia showed me how my lower half was going to be hanging off a bar I got so scared I couldn’t remember my right from my left.  But ever so slowly I managed to do it.

It wasn’t pretty but I got my backside some air. After that I was able to do some other stuff that I didn’t think would ever be possible and then for the grand finale I got to experience the thrill of the fuzzy dice which are really wool lined thingamabobs that help stretch your legs. I shoved my cankles into those bad boys and felt like Elastigirl. It gave me hope that one day I might even be able to touch my toes.

After my session I felt like a boss. All I can say is take that bad P.E. memories because I just did the Cadillac reformer. It wasn’t pretty. I was, at best, remedial, but hey, I did it.

Dear Snarky – Field Day Dumb Assery

Dear Snarky,

 I feel like I’m being extorted! There are two moms at my children’s school who think running Field Day is right up there with curing cancer. The emails and group texts have been insane.

 Right before Field Day we got a lot of rain so the day of Field Day a large portion of the playground area had huge party tents set up like you would see at a wedding reception. My first thought was that it was dumb because why wouldn’t you just move Field Day inside to the gym. The thing that has me seeing red is that the next day an email was sent to all the parents assessing us $50 each to cover the tent rentals.

Are you kidding me? My kids go to a public school so I was curious how they could “assess” the parents and the reason I got was that Field Day is run by the PTA so it’s a PTA assessment that is not school related. Also, if they assess every family $50 the PTA would be bringing in about $15,000!

How do I stop this insanity?

 Signed, Pissed Off

 Dear Pissed,

 What is it about Field Day that can make some parents go cray? And yes the Field Day organizers at your kid’s school have lost their grasp on reality. No one that is fully compos mentis would rent large tents to in order to keep the playground area dry for a school event. A sane person would do as you suggested and move the Field Day indoors.

 Now, onto the egregious move of charging parents to cover the cost of the tents – let’s just call BS on that shady move. You are under no obligation to pay the $50. Being a member of PTA is voluntary and doesn’t subject you to underwriting Field Day cost overruns.

 Furthermore, the principal of the school could shut this down. The PTA while operating independently of the school still has ties to the principal and he or she could object to this whole assessment nonsense. So I’m going to have to say shame on your principal. 

 That said, the fact that any PTA funds will be used to cover the cost of tents is tragic. The funds raised are supposed to go directly to improving your children’s educational experience not to pay for tents to keep the playground dry so some self important PTA member won’t have their dream field day soiled by Mother Nature.

 I advise you to not pay the $50 assessment and to work vigorously to see that no PTA funds are not used to pay for the tent expenses and instead stay earmarked for educational enrichment.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – Advice With An Attitude  – please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

The 80s Lady is Back!

It’s spring that means it’s time for me to deliver my seasonal fashion rant. (Just as a FYI I’m still not over the bell sleeve uprising of 2018.) But, this time instead of a rant I’m going to be taking a trip down memory lane because, be still my heart, some of my beloved treasures from yesteryear are making a comeback.

First and foremost is the return of the Steve Madden platform slides that were the staple of any female’s wardrobe in the late 90s to early 2000s. This slip on sandal was so popular back in the day that it was considered di rigueur mom wear. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office nine months pregnant and gazing at every single mom in the waiting room with her swollen feet not just shoved into those slides but oozing out of them.

Fast-forward a few years to toddler “mommy and me” gymnastic classes where you had to go barefoot. In the cubbies there were so many black Steve Madden slides it was like solving a single color Rubix’s cube to pick your shoes out of the line up.

Most, if not all, of the shoes were in various states of disrepair. They had survived pregnant feet and now were showing battle scars from the playground. These shoes were warriors.

I don’t exactly remember when they went out of fashion. I just think that women wore those Steve Madden slides until they disintegrated and when it was time to replace them the shoes had vanished into the retail ether.

Now these quintessential mom shoes have returned and the price has also been “refreshed.” I think back in the day my slides cost maybe $30 and now they are selling out on-line with a $70 price tag.

I’m conflicted about whether or not I’ll buy a pair. I’m afraid if I do I’ll try to hoist my 19 year-old on my hip, give her a juice box and try to buckle her into a car seat.

 

Another brand being resurrected for spring is Laura Ashley. If you can’t remember it think “Little House on the Prairie” meets a young Princess Diana circa early 1980s. The clothes were “floral forward” and the designers never met a cluster of cabbage roses they didn’t like. The dresses were high neck and flowing and seemed perfect for an afternoon tea on the country estate of Lord Fancy Pants.

But upon doing further research into the Laura Ashley relaunch I became dismayed. Urban Outfitters, the hipster hang for suburban teens that used to shop with Justice “J Bucks” is featuring Laura Ashley clothes that, sigh, are only a slight nod to the 80s.

I know something was different when I spied a Laura Ashley swimsuit. Granted it is a one piece but there’s some cleavage being shown that I would call decidedly off brand. It does have the floral toile motif but somehow it’s been, to use one of my grandmother’s favorite words, “tarted up.”

It’s a mild tarting but I’m a tad disappointed that they haven’t brought back the classic Laura Ashley. That said, I still had plans to introduce my daughter to the brand in hopes that will share with me that wonder of a cabbage rose printed floral.

I texted her a picture of the pink and while toile inspired swimsuits featuring swans, cherubs and an occasional cabbage rose and she responded with, “Are you okay? Because this is scaring me.”

I’ll admit I was saddened by her lack of enthusiasm but have hope that someday she will see the beauty in a cabbage rose infused lifestyle.

I’m High On Grass

I have an addiction. I knew things had gotten bad when I received a text at 6:45 on a Wednesday morning. It was from my supplier. She wrote in all caps that if I wanted the good stuff I had 30 minutes – tops to get to our agreed upon location. If I was any later she threatened that all the good grass might be gone.

I hauled out of bed, threw on pants, shoved my feet into some flip-flops, and bolted for my car. I didn’t even slow down to change out of my pajama top or brush my teeth. There wasn’t time. I needed that grass and nothing was going to stop me. I made it there in 20 minutes and already there was a line. Just as my supplier had predicted several large crews had beat me to it.

Aargh!

I bided my time hoping that there would be enough grass left for me. Finally, I got my fix. 20 rolls of pristine, premium sod fresh from a grass farm were all mine.

This is the kind of sod that poetry is written about. It’s lush and fragrant. Even the soil underpinnings have a bouquet that conjures up images of a magical farm where unicorns are free ranging with Santa’s reindeers.

I had learned the hard way to steer clear of sod that look tired or wasn’t embracing a green aesthetic. No amount of water or fertilizer would ever bring back a piece of sod that resembled brown, weather-beaten shag carpet from the 70s. In fact, bad sod experiences that took me on a trip of frustration and despair are what fueled my quest for the perfect sod. It was two weeks ago when I knew true joy by discovering this holy grail of sod. It wasn’t easy. I had to become the landscape version of Sherlock Holmes.

If I saw a crew working on a lawn that had yard of the month potential I would stop and question the gardeners who were always willing to share intel unlike the homeowners. Homeowners, it seems, keep secrets especially about how to achieve the perfect vista of grass that shimmers like a field made of ceremonial grade matcha tea. But, I would not be deterred.

One day, purely my happenstance I assure you, I followed a secretive yard owner and discovered the hush, hush, lair of sod nirvana. People were lined up waiting for the sod delivery. After much prodding I found out that there was even a group text message about when the sod truck was coming. All I knew is that I desperately wanted in.

I attempted to make friends with the sod groupies standing in line thinking that this could be a foothold to achieving something that had been out of reach my entire suburban life – yard domination.

Sadly, this wasn’t an arena for wannabes. I was in the presence of hardened lawn professionals who had little time for a person who didn’t know her Blue Grass from her Fescue. As for the couple I had tailed to the sod location, well, let’s just say they totally ignored me but not before giving me some serious side eye.

I deduced the only way I was going to get into this group was to suck up to the sod purveyor. I threw myself on her mercy and confessed I was a yard idiot that needed her sweet, sweet, sod to save me. Fortunately, she took pity on me. Once she took down my cell phone number I knew I had penetrated the inner circle and it felt so good.

My yard is still a work in progress but I have high hopes and I’m now in the sod group text message so dreams really do come true.

Postscript: After this column was published in the Kansas City Star I was removed from the sod group text. I’m not going to lie – I got a little teary eyed over being dumped by the grass groupies.

Not Cool – The Saga of My (sort of) AC Free Childhood

Do you ever have times in your life when you feel like you’ve forsaken the profound teachings and dictates of your parents? It can be a very unsettling feeling. It’s almost like you’re cheating on your childhood. I recently had this experience when in early April I went against one my father’s most revered rituals and turned on my air conditioner.

You see I was brought up to believe that the air conditioner was not to be turned on until Memorial Day and this was in Texas. My dad stood firm in his belief that no matter the outside temperature or the inside swelter factor due to that temperature it was considered unseemly and downright wasteful if you clicked on your AC before the end of May.

I remember growing up and complaining about the heat and my dad’s quick quip would be to “turn on a ceiling fan.” This lead me to speculate that perhaps my dad erroneously thought the ceiling fans in our home had magically cooling properties because for me all they did was whip up the hot air.

As a got older my loathing of AC deprivation intensified. It’s one thing to sweat like a bear wearing a snowsuit on the surface of the sun when you’re little. It’s a whole other perspiration adventure when you’re a teenage girl attempting to groom. It got so hot in our house I would use my mom’s car as my personal make-up and hair salon. To dry my hair I would drive on the interstate with the windows down and I would park the car with the AC blasting to put on my make up.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think that my father was overly strict because he wasn’t the only parent who believed air conditioning was a luxury. In fact, most adults his age grew up in homes without AC and I attended a high school where only the library had air conditioning. Nothing says optimum learning environment like sweating so much in biology class you literally slid off your lab stool.

All this moisture resulted in some deep thoughts like how did the early settlers survive the heat especially the women with all their skirts, petticoats, corsets and assorted underpinnings? Plus they couldn’t just sit around and fan themselves they had to churn butter, cook over an open fire, and do a plethora of chores from sun up to sun down. Add in the fact that deodorant hadn’t even been invented yet and you have a very ripe situation.

It’s ruminations like these that make me joyous I live in an antiperspirant rich time. Perhaps that is what my father was going for – gratitude. What if instead of being what my siblings and I thought was a dad being ultra thrifty or intent on not making us soft he was teaching us about appreciating what we have?

Because based on my childhood my gratitude for AC is boundless, almost worshipful. It’s something I don’t take for granted and I think as parents there are always some things we use on teach our kids a long-term life lesson.

I know with my kids they had to drive/share an almost 20 year clunker and I’m talking clunker with a capital C. Today my son appreciates cars like I love air conditioning. I told him recently that I can only hope in my advancing years that he will take as good of care of me as he does his car. (He had no comment.)

So, I guess I will tamp down any residual feelings of guilt I have for blasting my AC in April and realize that every parent has somethings that they turn into a teachable moment and for my dad air conditioning was one of them.

Dear Snarky – WTH on a College Reveal Party?

Dear Snarky,

What is wrong with people? I say this while staring at an invitation to a college reveal party. I didn’t even know what the hell that was until I goggled it and found out that you can’t just have a high school grad party now it’s a college reveal party. This party is at the end of May so what is there to reveal? Shouldn’t everybody have shared where they’re going to college by then?

The thing that’s really pissing me off is that “guests are encouraged to bring cash gifts instead of college themed presents.” Also, there’s going to be games for guessing the college and a balloon drop for the reveal.

What has happened that everything has to be a reveal? Am I wrong to be a little bit disgusted by this?

Signed, Yuck

Dear Yuck,

As for answering your first question what’ s wrong with people – well that’s a pretty long list that I don’t have time to formulate right now. So onward to dissecting the college reveal party. All I have to say is blame Pinterest and its spawn the gender reveal party.

Somewhere, someone was taking part in a gender reveal party and thought, “Hey, let’s turn the perfectly nice tradition of a high school grad party and make it stupid by doing college reveals.” Because, sorry, that’s what I think a college reveal party is – dumb.

Does anyone really need to reveal where they’re going to college? Haven’t you already told your family, friends, classmates, teachers, school counselors and updated your Instagram bio? Isn’t it already printed in the high school graduation program?

That said I’m not the party police and if someone wants to go Pinterest crazy and throw a college reveal – go for it. I just hope this is a fad and not something that becomes part of the fabric of graduating from high school.

Now, as for the request for cash – that’s a no-no. Maybe you can have a cash reveal and have the grad guess how much money you’re gifting? If he or she doesn’t guess the right amount they don’t get the gift. I’m thinking that’s one reveal that won’t be catching on anytime soon.

If you have a dilemma for Dear Snarky, “Advice With an Attitude” 😉 email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com