California Dreaming

I feel like I’ve wrestled a Sasquatch. I’m not kidding every bone in my body is sore and as for my mental state well, it’s questionable. The culprit for my misery is driving to California to move my daughter (and her car) back to school. This is something they don’t tell you when you wait till your almost 40 to have your last child – by the time you’re moving that kid to college your knees are angry and your back is so over the schlepping.

Because this is our daughter’s sophomore year I thought I had the whole move in down to a science. In fact, I was very proud, boastful even, that we weren’t taking that much stuff to California. I mean why would we? It’s not like they don’t have Targets in So Cal.

Let me now share with you what a colossal mistake that was because here’s what happens when you “wait till you get there” to buy apartment swag – you spend way too much money and the trips to Target start to enter the double digits. Not to mention that the Southern California Targets are simply not up to snuff.

Okay maybe that’s not 100% accurate. The Target’s are fine. A better way to put it is that I missed my  home Target. Also, my home Target believes in providing you with bags for your purchases.

Sure, in California you can buy a bag but when you do when get major attitude from not only the cashier but also the person behind you. By our seventh Target trip I had gotten over the public shaming and would just announce to everyone within a ten feet radius that I was from Kansas and we’re a free bag state.

Aggravating our already frayed nerves and lower back pain was the fact that my daughter did all the California driving since she knew where everything was. It was like being on the Disneyland Matterhorn bobsleds – a lot of fast starts and stops with whiplash as your reward. Making the excursions even worse was my husband growling every couple of minutes, “Someone tell me again why we let Bella go to school in California?”

Adding to the “we’re idiots” tally was our decision to reward ourselves for all the heavy lifting we did by going to the aforementioned Disneyland because nothing says rest and relaxation like walking 15 miles through a theme park.

After Disney I decided I needed to go to my real happy place – Fashion Island. It’s a swanky outdoor mall in Newport Beach full of shops that I can’t afford but I still like to enjoy the ambience. At one store I decided to treat myself to a fancy skin cream.

As the make up counter guru started testing creams on me she began aggressively feeling my face and then called the other consultants over where they also began poking my cheeks and forehead. At first I thought this was some kind of California face massage thing but it turns out that I was the only woman they had seen in a while who didn’t have fillers or Botox.

I played the Kansas card again and told them this was how we rolled in the sunflower state. It was better than the truth – that I was broke because my daughter goes to school in California and that I was afraid of needles.

Finally, after six days either on the road, at Target or moving stuff into an apartment we made it to the beach and that’s how California gets you. You sit there basking in the low humidity and sunshine watching the waves break and the palm trees sway and suddenly you think, “This is the life” and that thought lasts until you get back in your car and hit traffic.

Disneyland Demented

Disney Humor #2What would you call a woman who just three weeks ago was at Disney World and now finds herself at Disneyland?

I would call her a glutton for punishment. But it was not my fault I was once again at the Magic Kingdom (California edition). It was my husband’s. He had a meeting near Disney, leaving us no choice but to spend a day enjoying all that Mickey has to offer.

I’m always up for a good compare and contrast adventure, so this time, fanny pack free (I made my husband wear it), I ventured off into the low humidity wonder of Southern California. Oh, the joy of not having sweat seizures! I was skipping, that’s right, skipping down Main Street singing, “Zippity Do Da, Zippity Day, I’m not sweating through my underwear today!”

I was in high spirits until we stood in line for our first ride and discovered that the park was rife with line jumpers. And if you’re thinking teenagers being jerks, think again. The offenders were moms with their entire extended family moving through the line like Pacman gobbling those dot things. It even surpassed the behavior of Black Friday crowds at Walmart the year Halo 4 came out.

This brazen act was at first met with disbelief. I’m thinking perhaps Grandma is at the front of the line and they need to get to her or the entire family had to make an emergency bathroom break and a lone relative is acting as a place holder. It appears that it was none of the above and was just plain old rudeness that still had me confused. Mothers would not/should not boldly stomp through a line without so much as an “excuse me while I model horrible, entitled, my-needs-trump-everyone’s, the-rules-weren’t-made-for-me behavior” to their children.

It took a couple of times of this happening before I was even able to formulate an action plan. But by my fourth family line jumper experience I had perfected what I call the “Disney Stance.” It’s where you go Yul Brynner in “The King and I” and stand with your hands on your hips utilizing a full elbow extension. This creates a very effective blocking maneuver, or at the very least requires the matriarch of the line jumpers to ask you to get of her way, thus starting a Q & A.

It begins with the mom barking the word “move.” You don’t even get an “excuse me” but a matter-of-fact, demanding, “Move.” That’s my cue to ask, “Why?”

This usually stumps them. Which I found very disappointing. If you’re going to rudely line jump, the very least I, or the people who you are leap frogging over, should get is a well thought out, short saga with lots of call-to-action verbs about why you need to get to the front. A blank stare does not create a sense of urgency. For me to lower my Yul Brynner elbows, you better bring it in the story department.

When they inevitably didn’t bring it, I would, in my best southern charm school voice, which I learned in Miss Lavina’s Junior Cotillion etiquette and protocol classes (it’s a real thing, people), tell them to go to the back of the line. Only once did someone attempt to still get past me, but my moisturized and fully sunscreened elbows remained stalwart.

All this drama irritated my husband. And get this: He blamed me! He even suggested that I must release some sort of pheromone that attracts wackadoodles. My daughter betrayed me and sided with her dad, announcing to the world at large, or the 20 people nearest to us in line for the Radiator Springs Racers ride (FYI, it’s awesome), that I was a “crazy magnet.”

I delighted in telling both of them that they couldn’t be more wrong. While other people allow or ignore crazy, I call the crazies on their crazy. In fact, let’s just throw it all out there and say I’m a brave warrior in the fight against crazy. My actions should be applauded, not met with derision.

This proclamation of my greatness was met with eye rolls and a family decision that we would only go on rides with a Fastpass. Obtaining a Fastpass requires a modicum of advanced planning and the ability to read a Disneyland map, thus acting as a very successful crazy barrier.

Sure, I could have gotten mad at my family for their lack of respect for my varied and abundant talents, but there was a lovely low humidity breeze blowing and Mickey Mouse was walking right toward me. When he unexpectedly veered off, my husband whispered to me, “I think he smelled the crazy.” That’s when I gave him a Yul Brynner elbow jab to his left kidney and smiled.

I was feeling the Disney magic after all.

**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.

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.


Disney World Tips No One Else Will Tell You


Let’s set some ground rules before I begin.  First, for all you Disney worshippers out there please do not send me e-mails telling me I’m depraved, not worthy of breathing and mentally unsound and soul less to write anything less than glowing about the Disney experience. Because I love Disney and all of it’s worlds.  Really, I do.

Whatever drug, hypnosis therapy or electro shock they’re giving their “cast members” bring it on Mickey. It needs to be shared because it must be exceptional stuff. All things Disney are great, including the Disney people. They’re like a combination of Stepford Wives and the robots in the movie Westworld before they got all freaky. The only thing not so great – the non cast members at the parks.

That’s the problem – Disney World would be perfect if it weren’t for the other huddled masses you have to share it with. Note I did not say Disney World was magical. If it were magical it would be free, uncrowded, blessed with a less humidity challenged climate and I would look, at the very least, 10 years younger and 20 pounds thinner as I climb aboard the Dumbo ride.

So, before I start let’s all agree Disney World – good, non Disney people – at best annoying and I know this is going to be hard for some of you, but take a deep breath – Disney parks not 100% magical.

I’m not a novice to the Disney Parks. I’ve enjoyed many a trip to Disney Land and Disney World.  Not even Hurricane Ivan could keep me from visiting the park in 2004.  Nothing says Disney fan like being hunkered down in the basement of a Orlando Marriott amid a sea of 3 legged ballroom chairs, scarred end tables and really, really, bad artwork to ride out the storm.

The good news  – it kept the crowds down. The bad news – worst humidity ever. So, based on my vast Disney knowledge here are some of my tips to making the most of your trip to Disney World.

Lower your expectations: To be fair, “Lower Your Expectations” is my family motto along with “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.” Both of these will come in handy as your Disney World mantra. Let’s begin with your park arrival.

I suggest staring with the classic Magic Kingdom. It’s here that you will see all that Walt Disney first envisioned.  Unfortunately it’s also where you’ll see the screaming armada of parents, grandparents and fussy children already hitting the wall. Yes, the park has just opened and already people are unhappy. It seems so unfair and so un-Disney. Just like there are no tears in baseball, you would think there would be no tears at a Disney Park (excluding tears of joy, of course).

The hard reality is that even at Disney World people still get cranky as hell.  My theories for this abound. My top two are: you are paying more than your first car cost to go to Disney World and that’s just for your Park Hopper passes and secondly too much pressure. You’ve planned for this, saved for it, used it as a parenting bribe (i.e.:  “If you three kids keep this up there goes your trip to Disney) and no vacation can live up to the hype. It’s like losing your virginity. You planned for it, you saved it, used it as a boyfriend bribe and then when the big day comes your like – really, that was it?

Pack extra underwear: Now, you might be thinking this is because the rides are so exciting you could wet yourself. This, my friend, is not the reason. You’ll need that extra underwear due to the Florida weather.  There I was standing in line for Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom and the unthinkable happened – my underwear was soaking wet. I’m talking I. P. Freely wet.

One of my worst fears had come true. I had peed myself in public. Urinary incontinence was now a part of my life.  Depends here I come and FYI adult diapers aren’t cheap. I excuse myself from the line and leave my kids and husband to scale Everest without me. I jog to the ladies room. My wet underwear is slapping against my backside as I run, making a mocking kind of whap-a-slap sound. It’s as if my underwear is singing, “ha, ha, you peed yourself, you peed yourself.”

By this time I’m also experiencing some serious chaffing. I hope Depends comes with a baby power lining or else I’m going to have to purchase adult diapers and diaper rash medication. Although, the smell of Desitin brings back good memories of adorable babies I don’t want to have to rub it on my own backside. Can you say mortifying?  I go into the stall to investigate and I’m relieved to learn that I haven’t wet myself. I’ve sweated myself. That’s right – sweated, perspired, and as my mom says “dewed” all over myself.

The debilitating Florida humidity had turned my body into a swampy mess. It looks like all my sweat rolled down my back, forming an Amazon river of perspiration that journeyed along my backbone, then used my butt crack as a conduit, a tributary, if you will, for conducting all the dampness to my crotch, which I guess in the whole river analogy thing, became an ocean of moisture. No matter how it happened I had to get, somewhat, dry fast. I could not spend the rest of the day and night in soaked underwear. Never mind how gross it felt it was deplorable hygiene.

Two words, ladies – yeast infection. So, I did what all of you would have done. I took off my capri’s, took off my underwear, put my capri’s back on, peered out of the stall until the coast was clear, then went to the sink, scrubbed those undies, stuck them under the hand dryer until they were good and dry, (yes, people did come into the restroom and saw my undies blowing under the dryer and yes, I felt shame and embarrassment) went back into the stall, took off my capri’s, put my dry underwear back on, put my capri’s back on, left the stall, washed my hands and went to catch back up my family. Now, think how much easier all that would have been if someone, somewhere in all the guidebooks out there had told me to bring extra underwear to the Disney Parks. You are all welcome.

People to watch out for: Being on the alert for these people will make your Disney World trip much more enjoyable.

Princess Stalkers: These are the parents (more moms than dads) that will run you over, trip you, shove your toddler to the curb, push your stroller off to the side and give you a hard elbow in the ribs or a karate chop to the neck to catch up with, get to or cut in line so their darling child can have the chance for a photo op and/or an autograph with a Disney Princess.

(WARNING – I have it on good authority that the princesses from the newest Disney movie Frozen are creating a blizzard of bad behavior from parents. Including a throw down between two dads about who was first in line to get their kid’s picture taken with Princess Anna.)

In my keen observations these parents aren’t here for the Disney experience they’re here to fill up their child’s Disney autograph book with faux princess signatures. These parents literally chase the princesses from one venue to the next.

Distinguishing characteristics of these parents are:  Ability to yell – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White repeatedly and with gusto. Excellent at grabbing their child by the arm and towing them behind them at high rate of speed without dislocating said child’s arm from their socket while in hot pursuit of princesses. Stellar at exhibiting no shame as they “accidently” step on Ariel’s fin causing the princess to trip into their child and thus securing autograph.

Parade Parents:  If at all possible avoid the parade parents. They are easy to identify. They’re the ones camped out on the parade route, bonding their backside to hard, hot concrete three hours before the parade is set to begin. Do not go anywhere near their perch. Parade Parents protect their sacred little piece of parade watching Disney real estate like it’s their sovereign property.

Beware if you find yourself commingled with these people right before the parade starts. They will aggressively defend their turf. If your child accidentally sits on “their” part of sidewalk, scoop your kid up, keep your head down to avoid eye contact and quickly back away to safer, higher ground to steer clear of a very un-Disney like confrontation.

The Tears R Us Team:  Why, oh why do some parents make their children get on rides the kids have no interest in experiencing. I know that deep psychological damage is being done to children when their parents torture them – forcing them into a roller coaster seats as they kick, wail and flail in terror and then strapping them down and buckling them up all while the children sob. The screams reach migraine inducing frequency as the coaster revs and takes off. I’m pretty sure that kind of parenting sets off a complex series of serial killer brain cells in each kid’s head.

To avoid witnessing this scene and therefore avoid you opening your mouth to tell the parents what a colossal piece of crap they are (Yes, I’ve done that, but I did use better vocabulary) here is what you need to do.  Steer clear of any parent you hear using the phases: You’re being a big baby, don’t be a such baby, or any variation of. Immediately vacate your place in line if you hear a parent offering to a pay their fear-stricken child to ride the roller coaster. You know that will not end well.

Kodak Moments – Doubtful. If there ever was a place where you think you’ll walk away with wonderful happy family photos it’s Disney World. After all, as you walk through the parks they have clearly marked just where you should take those happy family pictures.

Here’s why you’ll get home without those one-of-kind photos. No one looks good at Disney World. Humidity cancels out any photogenic quality any of your family members possess. Even the Disney Princesses are having a bad hair day and they’re wearing synthetic wigs.

To exacerbate the problem no one wants to stop and have their pictures taken until after you’ve been at the park for a few hours. That means any photo you’ll take will feature sweat stained family members with their clothes and hair plaster to their bodies. Do I need to mention that humidity adds pounds? Yes, the moisture literally weighs you down.

So, you the mom, who has done all the heavy lifting planning the trip will look horrendous in any and all pictures. Totally unfair and dare I say, unmagical.

God forbid, that you want to take a photo at Disney World to use as your family’s Christmas Card. Talk about pressure. My sole advice is to take it first thing in the morning and you, mom, use plenty of hairspray.  The downside to using hairspray, in what once was Florida swamp land, is that it’s a mosquito aphrodisiac and they’ll be your constant, horny companion the whole day. To get good Disney pictures may I suggest going to Disney Land. The Southern California climate is much more conducive to snagging that all elusive Kodak moment.

I hope this few tips will make your trip to Disney World more enjoyable.  As you proudly enter the park armed with lower expectations and fresh underwear in your backpack, ready to quickly snap your family photo and on high alert (level orange) for people who could negatively impact your Disney adventure remember who you have to thank. Me.