It’s All About the Flour Power

Well, this couldn’t suck more could it? Yes, I get it things could be worse, much worse. So, slow your roll on sending me that email. But in terms of things being suck worthy I’m going to with confidence say Covid-19 rates pretty high.

Cheers though to all of the people out there who are all about taking the pandemic and putting a positive spin on it.

There’s the Instagram and Facebook posts of people celebrating family time with some stunning photography of scenic walks in the woods to festive trampoline “jumps for joy.” Then you have the very photogenic family meal photos where people, people much better than me, are using the lock down to cook amazing meals after doing massive amounts of home organization projects to turn their house into a snuggly “quarantine haven.”

These are good people. These are just not my people because I’m going to confess that I’ve hidden the last of my family’s Charmin Ultra Soft for myself. The rest of my family can use the one ply eight pack I snagged from the Dollar Store because right now I don’t consider them three ply worthy.

I’ve also taken to having very in-depth conversations with family members about flour. Yes, flour. My son wanted to make some homemade bread. This led to me swooping into the kitchen and forcibly grabbing the canister of flour out of his hand.

 I had to explain to him that bread took five to six cups of flour. Not only that but if he made bread that would mean we would be down to one packet of yeast.

As a family with weeks left in lockdown we needed to save our flour for more deserving causes like chocolate chip cookies, cakes, and cinnamon rolls. My son was confused about not only my newfound passion for flour but also my rationing. I clued him in that flour and yeast were both on the top 10 list of things hoarders bought in bulk and currently there was none to found.

He was skeptical of my claim incredulously asking, “Why would people buy all the flour and yeast? Do that many people bake anymore? What happened to gluten being the enemy?”

I told him those were all excellent questions that I had no answers to except that some people are monumental jerks and enjoyed the apparent thrill of cleaning out the grocery stores. I curse them and their many, many, five-pound bags of flour. May they all move up two pant sizes during the lock down. Also, while I’m at it may their plumbing clog from abundant toilet paper usage.

One thing that I did sincerely try to put one of those positive spins on is the family dinner. How lucky I am to have all my chicks home? What could be more uplifting than sharing a meal every evening? Umm, a lot of things.

Cooking dinner every-single-night is not a blast. Neither is cleaning the kitchen. Add in a pandemic and it can be depressing. I had to make a rule that there would be no talking about the coronavirus at dinner. It was making me anxious.

The off shoot of that was that no one had anything else to blab about. We were all working or doing school from home meaning not much was going in our lives. It was either talk about the state of the world or stare at each other. So, back to Covid-19 it was.

I need to Instagram that perfect family moment. All of us sitting around the table looking scared while I hug my last remaining bag of flour and desperately hope no one has found my Charmin stash.

Dear Snarky – My Cousin Went on Facebook and Posted Lies About Our Family

Dear Snarky,

My family has recently been devastated by a family member. After what I thought was a very nice Thanksgiving that included 31 members of our family from a great grandmother to nieces and nephews my cousin went on Facebook and wrote a disgusting post about how awful our family is.

She went off on just about everybody including kids. In my case she used my name and my kids’ names and said that I was a “mean girl raising mean girls.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough her post got a lot of likes and sad faces and even my high school math teacher from way back in the day gave it a sad face.

It has taken everything I have not to go on Facebook and comment and defend my family. I want too so bad. I’ve been going back and forth over what to do because it feels wrong to let her say these things without my family defending themselves especially when it comes to the kids.

Signed, Furious

Dear Furious,

To begin let me congratulate you on not losing your mind as soon as your cousin posted about your kids on social media. That took major self-control.

Now let me also share that my advice is going to be skewed because I don’t know anything about your family. You could be the best family in the world or horrible. I’m going to go with that your family is average. This means flawed with a crazy member or two or three.

My recommendation is that you do your family due diligence and get some relatives to meet with this cousin and try to decipher what’s hurting her because her Facebook post could be a cry for help.

After that is done I would let your cousin knew that writing about anyone’s child on social media is basically game over for your relationship.

I would then be prepared for your cousin to go back on social media and post some long, rambling diatribe about how her family tried to silence her. Because here’s the deal – your cousin craves attention, Facebook provides it. She’s probably not going to stop posting.

You also need to realize those likes and sad faces she’s getting are because when people see train wrecks on social media they feel uncomfortable so the easiest thing to do is the sad face.

Don’t fall into her social media pit of cray cray. You need to block her and move on. I’m going to say that again – BLOCK AND MOVE ON. You’re not going to stop her and to engage with her on Facebook is just going to create more fireworks.

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

Vacationing With Teens – What No One Tells You

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 6.55.00 AMIt might seem like vacationing with your teenage children would be a lark, a breeze, perhaps even one of those golden moments in time when your joyous week of togetherness manifest into familial bonding heretofore only dreamt of or seen on your fakest friend’s Facebook or Instragram feed.

I mean how hard could it be? You’re passed the diaper years, the toddler tantrums, the preschool meltdowns, and the elementary school “Are we there yet?” mentality. You finally made it to the milestone of traveling with almost adults. Yippee! Right?

Yeah, I’d hold off on that yippee because it’s more like a yip. I have found that nothing causes a teenager (or their parents) to regress in behavior or temperament like being trapped, held hostage, (pick the kidnapping verb of your choice) with their family for days on end.

This is why I feel duty bound to share with other parents this helpful Teen Vacay Truth Guide for what to expect when you travel with your teenagers.

The fundamental truth of teens is that they stink.

Male or female there is some reek going on. You may not notice the extent of this stench in your roomy, well ventilated home. You will notice it after hour six in the sealed metal capsule that is your car. Every parent should enforce a strict “no shoes off ever” rule as it pertains to vehicular travel.

On my family’s last trip to Colorado the inside of our car was engulfed with a noxious fume so potent I felt woozy and nauseous. Even my travel size Gain Febreze spray couldn’t make a dent in eradicating the odor. As I was losing consciousness I wondered if this was the end. Was Interstate 70 in Western Kansas the epicenter for a terrorist chemical warfare attack? I believe my last words before almost passing out were, “May God have mercy on us all.”

It turns out it was chemical warfare all right. My son had placed his tennis shoes right under an a/c vent thus constantly re-circulating the reek of teen boy feet throughout the car. To this day he is not allowed to remove his shoes unless he’s outside and at least 500 yards away from any mammal with active olfactory glands.

 You will cry at least one time during your family vacation.

My preferred place to sob with abandon is while taking a shower and using a Hilton Garden Inn washcloth to muffle my weeping. It’s not that I have grown to hate my family or that my family is bad. It’s just that when you’re on day five of sharing a 325 square foot room with hormonally challenged life forms whose emotions are more mercurial than the 450 mile per hour winds blowing on Neptune and who eat Cheetos in the hotel bed, then wipe their day glow, Finding Nemo orange, Cheeto encrusted hands on the sheets and the last clean wash cloth you were saving for your upcoming bathroom boo hoo, well, it’s almost more than most mortals can endure.

Beware of the social or eco “conscious” that will magically appear during your vacation.

There’s nothing that ruins your vacay buzz like a teen deciding this is the time they are going to choose to change their life. I had a friend whose daughter last year, day two into the vacation, declare she was a lacto ovo vegetarian. She shared that she would not be eating meat, fish, and poultry including eggs and anything made with eggs.

Did I mention they were spending 12 hours a day at Disney World? The kid lived on frozen bananas dipped in chocolate from the Storybook treats cart in Fantasy Land. Oh, and of course, as soon as they got to the airport the daughter ditched her new “food life plan” and wanted Burger King.

In the but wait there’s more department, my 15 year-old-niece, while on a beach vacation in Florida, had an epiphany that humans were bad for the ocean and refused to partake in any sand or salt water activities. Sigh.

Do not attempt a tech free vacation.

Listen and listen well my friends. The tech free family vacation is a trap. If anyone shares with you that they had a life changing tech free trip with their teens please note that the only reason they are telling you this is because they hate you. I, because I’m not crazy, have never willingly attempted a tech free sojourn with my teens.

Two years ago, though, my family was trapped in the Sierra Nevada’s with nary a Wi-Fi or 4G signal for miles. And by trapped I don’t mean we were stranded on a mountain summit wrestling bears with our bare hands and contemplating which family member we would eat first if it came to someone making the ultimate sustenance sacrifice. No, we were at a very nice lodge that just happened to be at an elevation that rendered cell phones and other electronics useless. (Sadly, they did not share this little nugget of information in any of their marketing information.)

By hour five without contact from the outside world I feared for my family’s safety. I was going to kill them all, most especially my husband. He was reading aloud to us from a 1998 American Cowboy magazine that he found in the bathroom. I was this close to covering his clothes in bacon grease and suggesting he take a nice, long, solo hike right up to Grizzly Point.

You will think every member of your family age 13 or over suffers from some sort mental illness.

There are so many wonderful things about family togetherness. One of them is discovering new dimensions to each of your loved ones personality. Sadly, some of these discoveries will scare you. Two weeks spent driving around the East coast with my husband highlighted a latent tendency for hoarding. He couldn’t throw any food item away. Two lonely, ragged, cheese nips left in a box must not be tossed in the trash because “someone might get hungry on the road.”

My son frightened all of us with his Rain Man-esque quality for reciting great moments in early American history. He would not or could not shut up about battles, forts or the many moods of George Washington. I was this close to breaking out the Benadryl to take the edge off (I meant for me just in case you were confused).

My daughter completed the trifecta of crazy by insisting that we stop at every cupcake shop on the Eastern seaboard. Her obsession with buttercream still haunts me to this day.

So brave parents of teens stay stalwart in your everlasting dedication to the family summer vacation. You’ve got this. You’re now well-informed and remember it’s all worth it because you’re making memories that will last a lifetime. Okay, cancel that. That is way too much pressure. Let’s just say you’re going to survive it and the whole family will learn that there is no place like home where everyone can go to their rooms and ignore each another.

*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! 🙂

 

 

Admit it – We’ve All Wanted to Escape From Our Family on Thanksgiving

Andthg_37 now for something to make me really unpopular . . . I’m going to confess that I don’t get what all the fuss is about regarding having to work on Thanksgiving. Right now, all of my social media newsfeeds are flush with what I’m going to call the “No Work Thanksgiving” movement.

Based on the fervent “likes”, “shares,” and “retweets” one would think working on Thanksgiving is a major societal problem of the 21st century. The thing that really makes me laugh is the sanctimonious chatter about how working on Thanksgiving is “robbing people of family time.” Yeah, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. And in the spirit of full disclosure I’ve worked many Thanksgivings and LOVED it! Like skipping out of the house, loving it. (I also loved the money because I really needed the money.)

Before you think I’m anti family (or anti my family) let’s examine the holiday. It’s not even a religious occasion. I would understand this level of outrage if, indeed, it was a holy day. But it’s a Federal holiday that came about in 1863, when, President Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in the month of November as a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Okay, I will now concede that sounds religious, but really, how many people go to church on Thanksgiving?

And if you’re going to be angry about a holiday that’s gone full retail where’s the Fourth of July fury? That’s a huge day in American history, but no one cares that Victoria’s Secret dares to cheapen the birthday of this great country of ours with a “Let Freedom Ring” three thongs and a cheekster for $13 sale.

It’s also a day that requires hours of hard culinary labor. Anyone who says they don’t believe people should have to work on Thanksgiving must never have hosted the holiday at their home. Sure, the reward of toiling in the kitchen is grand and glorious. You, for doing all the pre meal prep, cooking and cleaning, get the thank you gift of gazing upon the wonder that is your Uncle T.J. stuffing his face at the speed of light so he resume his prone position on the couch to watch football.

As for the whole “robbing people of family time” argument let’s be honest here. Most of us don’t have fairy tale families where our Thanksgiving is 24-hour extended kin group hug. For a lot of us, a whole day consumed with a cornucopia of relatives, in a confined space, with no chance of escape, is akin to tip toeing barefoot through the hot coals of hell. Add in second cousins, who have been drinking alcohol since 10 a.m. and you have me volunteering to work every holiday. In fact, many times as I have been bolting for the door to get to work my husband has begged, “Please, please, take me with you.”

The “No Work Thanksgiving” moment doesn’t just focus its ire on the merchants that chose to be open on Turkey Day there’s also a heaping helping of disgust for folks who dare to shop on mashed potatoes with gravy Thursday. Lots of time is spent on social media dissing people camped outside a Best Buy to get a “bitching deal” on a TV that’s bigger than most people’s first homes.

Here’s my take on that. If you have a family member (or members) that has chosen standing outside a Best Buy instead of gracing your table for Thanksgiving you should be rejoicing, like Hallelujah chorus rejoicing, because you’ve been saved for spending an entire day with this level of nitwit. In fact, I would go so far as saying you need to write a thank you note to Best Buy for their awesome system of herding and corralling humans that don’t need to be free ranging it on Thanksgiving. It’s like having a babysitter for the ickier part of your family tree.

(Now, just to be fair, I must also defend the Best Buy campers. I’ve been told by some that they have a “great time waiting in line” and that it “beats the hell out of spending the day with family.”)

As for the folks that hit the malls and Target Thanksgiving evening all I have to say is you go girls (and men being forced against their will to Kohl’s for their fleece sale). Two years ago, I interviewed a group of woman, four sisters-in-laws, who were having a blast Target on Thanksgiving night. They didn’t really care about the shopping. For them it was all about taking a break from a surly mother-in-law and husbands who needed to up their game on the kid watching duty. Technically, they were family members spending time together. They just weren’t doing it at a table while passing Great Grandma Eunice’s sweet potato, cornflake, and marshmallow fluff casserole.

**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 – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Dear Snarky – Unwanted Parenting Advice

dear_snarky_logoDear Snarky,

I am this close to punching my sister-in-law! We just got back from a family reunion and all she did was correct every child’s behavior but her own. She even went so far as to pull up parenting books from Amazon on her phone telling us we should read them to “get our kids under control.” Meanwhile her 3 less than perfect children, when they weren’t bullying their cousins, were fighting with their parents.

It was awful. Please help me get this woman under control.

Signed, Family Feud

Dear Family,

 The only way to deal with someone who loves to dispense advice is to fight fire with fire. Sure, you could do the whole turn the other cheek thing, but all that will do is give your sister-in-law permission to keep on being the family authority of child rearing and who wants that?

 So, I suggest at the next family get together you come locked and loaded with your own advice. And just don’t resort to pulling up parenting books on your iPhone. That’s for amateurs. What you want to do is up the visual aid ante and come with handouts.

 That’s right girlfriend, load up your purse with print outs from the Internet on how to deal with kids who bully and parents who allow it. When your sister-in-law starts pointing out your kids’ faults you reach into your purse and say, “Hey I saw this and thought of you.”

 I can’t guarantee this will shut her down, but it will serve notice that two can play this game and you’re going to play it better.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com