Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Welcome back, Fattie.

The last time I was in an aerobics class I lived in Boston. For those who are in the know - I've been in the Twin Cities for 14 years now...and Boston - well, Boston was in my 20s. Literally, I was 20. I was a nanny with a ton of free time on my hands.  And thanks to the wellness minded folks at the YMCA there - nannies could join the Y for $20.00 a month.  It was a steal. The Y was located in Woburn. That should have been my first clue. If the town sounds like it's going to hurt, it's going to hurt.

I thought I was being wise, as those who are twenty in age think they are, by standing quietly in the back waiting for class to start. A very tiny ball of energy of a man came in with a Madonna-esque headphone and boom mic contraption and started step class with a burst of "Shuffle Chain and Up and Back and Over the Top and Back and Lunge."  He had 20 instructions spat out before I had my Reebok set squarely on the first step. "No worries," I thought dimly, "I'll just do the best I can, I'm in the back so who cares."  That worked until the room shifted and I was no longer in the back, but turned around and staring at 10 rows of housewives and nannies behind me and I'm front and center.  Boston Energy Ball thought for sure that barking orders louder should have snapped something in my brain and maybe what I had wasn't a coordination problem but a hearing problem. Alas, my hearing was fine.  The more flustered I got the worse my rhythm and coordination efforts became useless. Energy Ball, not to be thwarted, decided that what I needed was 1-on-1 coaching. 1-on-1 coaching in front of the entire class.  So while the rest of the gym pack followed along, as ballerinas, and dance line girls, and aerobics naturals...I floundered. For an excruciatingly long 3 minutes Energy Ball said things like, "C'mon girl, okay, nope...ah...okay...nope...other left foot.." in between his regular chants that the rest of the class got with no problem.  Lexington might have been the historical birthplace for the shot heard round the world, but Woburn is the home of the exercise instructor whose shame boomed loud into the mirrored gym and echoed in my brain until today. Every time I'd walk past an exercise studio at the gym, I'd hear him say, "Okay...Nevermind...I guess you're just doing your own thing."

I jumped a hurdle today by attending my first group fitness class in 17 years. Tonight, I went to yoga.  I smartly plopped my mat down in the center of the room, just in case this yoga guy decided to be "smart" and flip the room.

I was anticipating some light stretching, calming Namaste mind time. What I got was 40 minutes of sweat dripping down my face, making me look like Tammy Faye Bakker, and arms and hamstrings that were stretched and wobbly after 35 minutes. When they give you 5 minutes at the end of class to lay there, it's because they can't in good conscience send you walking out onto the weight floor straight after yoga, if they did, people would think the Zombie apocalypse was starting at L.A. Fitness.

Thank you Scott for being kind as a yoga instructor - for not singling me out at the one person that couldn't sit like a sparrow when you said, "If that pose doesn't work for you, here's another position that will accomplish the same thing." That is how you get someone to come back for another round.

Just one question...can I bring an Aero bed with me? Although my posterior has padding - it's not where it needs to be when we're rolling back and forth like 3 year olds throwing the slowest tantrum in the world.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The apple doesn't fall far...

My littlest niece just came back from her second week of Fun and Frivolity at my parent's place.  She and my Dad are two peas in a pod, so it works out well that he ends up being her primary partner in crime.

My sister sent me a text that capped off a rough weight loss battle week.  My nephew asked his sister how much weight she gained 'this time' when she was at my parents house.

That smarted. On top of my "you have a to remove your weightloss goals from your cubicle" chat with Human Resources at the job, I was feeling a wee bit sensitive.  It came out during a chat with my Mom.  We had a very heart to heart talk about weight issues and food issues.  We talked about sneak eating - and how she still does it too.

We talked about eating entire packages of cookies.  We shared about the inability to stop eating when you're treating yourself to 'a bite' - it was weird, because we don't talk about these things.   We keep these things closely guarded and hope that no one knows that we've eaten a weekend's worth of calories in one setting.

We hope no one knows that we didn't feel sick after eating a package of oreos, even though any normal person would be tragically ill.

It felt good to share with her.  She's fully supportive of me paying for a trainer.  It's not going to be cheap - but you know what... it's time.  And I'm worth it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sounds like you need to buy a hobby farm, lady.

She said, "What is this?"

I said, "Oh, Toyota purchases renewable energy at this location.  So our electricity is wind generated."

"Oh," she replied, "Is it free?"

"Absolutely!  Go ahead and take one," I said encouraging her interest.  Had the phone not been ringing, and people milling around the receptionist horseshoe I might have explained in greater detail.  But it was a hen house moment at the desk.

"So they install this at your house if you want?" she asked with sheer disbelief.

"Come again?" I replied with a little bewilderment.

"This wind thing. Toyota will install it at my house if I want ren-er-abl, re-new-ah..." she paused staring at the card.  "YOU KNOW, the energy thing."

"What? God no - the postcard is free they don't install a wind turbine at your freaking house you idiot?" is what I thought in my head as I picked up the card she laid down and gently replied, "No, ma'am, the postcard, telling you about our renewable energy contract for our Toyota store is free."

"That's a dumb thing to give away," she snorted as she walked back to the service area for a snack.  She tossed the free postcard back onto the ledge and idled off.

"What was that about?" asked the General Manager wondering why some lady left the reception desk in a tizzy.

"Well, Tony, that woman was wondering if Toyota would like to install a wind turbine at her home so that she too can have her house powered by renewable energy."

"Are you kidding me?" he asked, in utter disbelief.

"Nope." I replied, "I told her you'd be over on Saturday to install one and that she'd have free electricity no later than noon.  She said she'd like to bake a cake and that wasn't going to work for her so she's taking her business elsewhere."


"No, not seriously.  She did want us to install a wind turbine at her home, however."

Twenty minutes later the lady shows up with a box of wheat thins and asked me the following question.

"Do you have milk here?"

"No, we don't," I courteously replied.

"So you don't have milk," she huffed.

"Nope.  No milk."


Because we're a car dealership not a cafe, not a coffee shop, not a convenience store.  If you'd like to buy a Prius I can tell you how to get to Byerly's to buy some milk.

People.  It takes all types.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Water, Water, Everywhere...

Although I could legitimately argue that it's the sound of gunfire in the wee hours of the evening that reeks havoc on my heart as a homeowner in the hood.  But unless it's followed by the sounds of screaming (which it never has Thank God!) or sirens and the loud thumping of the MPD on my front door (which it never has, Thanks again Big Guy!) - I don't get too worried about the sounds of random gunfire.  I like to think that it's 1970s Cadillacs backfiring.  It's a much more pleasant image of my little House in the Hood.

No, urban tribe, what truly makes my blood pressure rise to a level of uncertainty is the sound of water running where it shouldn't.

Don't get too excited, it's not a horrible post.  The title above reads like I have water up to my ankles, and that isn't the case.  Water on my ankles maybe, but that's an internal thing and can be addressed at another time.  But truly, water dripping, running, gushing when you aren't where the water is dripping, running or gushing is a sound that strikes fear instantly into the very core of the heart of a homeowner.  Your mind races as you move towards the direction of the resonance...your brain desperately tries to compare the fierceness of the rushing to all other water related memories of the past.
Could *that* be what burst pipes sound like? Okay, dammit, that's more than just the leaky pipes...okay, okay, deep breaths, it's the in the basement, so it's not the roof, Phew! But it could be the water main.

By the time you reach the steps to the basement and get your wits to legitimately assess the situation you hope that it's the washing machine.  Please, oh please, oh please, be the washing machine.

Indeed, tonight's drama of water splashing where it shouldn't was brought to you by a very clogged and very lint riddled lint trap.  Lint traps aren't one of those things I happen to replace on a schedule.  Lint traps and I are on a "need to replace" basis...I only wish the trap had a better system of telling me it's time to replace it other than spraying gallons of water onto the basement floor.

One of the first times the lint trap became a fountain of unholy water delivery was when I allowed a mesh sock to dry into an adobe, lint maché tube sock covering what should have been a free flowing exit hose.  I'm sure the "correct" term is discharge hose, but that sounds like my hose spent time in Sing Sing, and that's not the case.

One of the crowning moments in any adult homeowner's life is the day you realize you no longer have to exchange crisp 20.00 bills for two measly rolls of quarters that may or may not produce a suitable amount of both clean-washed and yet thoroughly dry laundry.  My Little House in the Hood came with what I first thought was a "charming" and "quaint" washer and dryer set from the late 1950s.

I was smitten, in love, truly with the coin slotlessness of *my* washing machine and *my* dryer.  If I want to dry my jeans until they are so shrunken and crisp that I have to sew two pairs together in order to wear them and be decent in public, well, I can.  My love affair, however, was cut short when I first heard the sound of water splashing on concrete during a particular early load of laundry.  While the gurgle and spray noises are charming in movies where sunburned children dash in and out of fire hydrants spraying thousands of gallons of water, the equivocable sound in one's own basement is terrifying.

I went downstairs and my gut knotted when I saw the uncomfortably large amount of water rapidly pooling on the basement floor.  And it wasn't exactly delight filling my senses when I finally looked up and saw a tiny replica of the Bellagio Fountain Show coming out of my laundry sink.  I think my exact thoughts were something along the lines of "What the Hell?" not, "Cool, that's perfectly timed to Luck Be a Lady".  I threw my dirty laundry on top of the growing, wet mess on the floor, walked over to the sink and looked down at the lint sprinkler causing such a commotion.

Lint sprinklers are gross.  They force uncanny amounts of water to spray violently upwards and cause messes of grand proportion on basement floors.  They raise my heart rate to a level healthy spinning instructors can only dream of achieving.

Mind you - this isn't just a charming post with witty self depricating humor tucked neatly into run on sentences.  No, this is actually an Anti-Bellagio Fountain Show in YOUR Laundry Sink tip.  My solution when I need to do laundry and I don't have brand new shiny mesh sock to cover up the washer's exit hose --  I tuck my lint adobe maché covered hose end into a water pitcher laying on its side.  For some reason, I have an absurd amount of water pitchers for a single woman, so I keep one downstairs, perched neatly on the edge of my laundry sink.  The water freely sprays up and out of the rapidly clogging lint hose staying cleanly within the plastic confines of both laundry sink and water pitcher.

I used to think it was weird places like Kowalski's and Lund's and Cub Foods had Lint Traps available in a grocery store.  Now I'm a purveyor of lint traps I walk the aisles and see the displays and occasionally think, "Score! Lint Traps, Buy One, Get One Free!"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lucky Dryer Sheets

Okay - earlier in the week, I gave a shout out to the single parents. I'm serious about that. This week, while extremely fun and entertaining was also quite stress filled and also gave me a whole new insight to "family life".

I realize - as I have for a while and my sister Denise can attest to - that being single is a selfish way of life. Not a single soul makes any demands on me. With the exception of work, which is a given. Even that I could take or leave, realistically I am beholden only to myself. If I wanted to quit my job, sell my home, and live in a yurt on the profits - no one is going to stop me. If I want to sleep in until 3 pm on Saturday afternoon, wake up and eat a brick of cheese, and go back to bed, again, no one is going to interrupt that agenda.

So going from that selfish and self indulgent life - to being a Single Aunt of three was a shock to the system. A good shock - it makes me understand why Denise doesn't always have time to listen to my witty banter about geeked up things like scooters and event planning. It also made me realize while I was trying to have conversations with the other family members that called...there's a valid reason that she hangs up on us so quickly. It's because her children are inventive and busy.

They are great kids - wicked smart - endlessly enthusiastic - loud - creative - demanding but helpful. For example, one day, Isabel had left her coat upstairs. So while we were having a discussion about coats and coming upstairs with me to get it (in an effort to show that life is easier when things are in their proper place [side note: Damn it Dad you were right about the whole, cleaning and ordered life business. I hate when that happens.] and I am thinking - you're never too young to get in on these "lessons") Well, Grace offered to run upstairs and grab Isabel's coat. When she returned, Isabel, the 3 year old, mind you... said, "Oh Grace, I appreciate that you got my coat." C'mon - how many 3 year olds say appreciate and use it in proper context?

These are the types of kids that say please and thank you because they mean it - not because they are prompted, falsely encouraged or bribed into doing such behaviors. With the occasional gentle reminder - of course - after all, they are human kids and not some sort of strange Iowa pod-people.

It was in the "small" moments that you realize why parents are frazzled. For instance when you're not in charge of a little person you forget that you have to speak in specifics. You can't say, "Please go pick up your room." Because when they are 8 and under - they don't get that you really meant, "If I step on one more rigid and uncharacteristically sharp dolly hand you will wake up to find all of your doll's hands have magically melted into the round little balls that won't pierce the soles of adult feet like some sort of Mid-Century torture - so if you like your dolls to have 10 fingers, put them in their dolly beds!"

We had a blissfully welcome late start day on Thursday. School didn't start until 10:15* I, in my wisdom and strong desire to sleep past 5:45 a.m. made the following statement to Grace, age 8. "Hey Grace, tomorrow's a late start day, so your alarm doesn't need to go off at 6:00 a.m. Okay?"

She responded in kind, "Oh, that's no problem, it's set for 6:15. And the 2nd alarm is set for 6:30."

What? What? Oh, I get it - see I said you don't have to set if for ANY time during the 6:00 hour and you thought...okay - actually, I can GUARANTEE that all of you will be awake LONG before you need to be in order for me to feed you a proper breakfast and get your butts to school. And this was true. Thursday night was the night that Isabelly woke up at 4:30 - stayed up until 5:30 and Grace woke up at 6:45. Thanks for sleeping in buddy!

It's other strange occurrences, like the fact that even though the Ikea bowls have no visible differences to the adult eye - these kids could determine from WHICH of the white bowls they preferred to eat. Which ultimately meant that one of the children was eating from the unloved white Ikea bowl. Really? What's different about the bowls. "Nothing." Okay, then WHY the fuss? "I dunno."

Also - I forgot about the elements of the random and the totally bizarre. We decided to put the sheets on Mom & Dad's bed as a group so that they'd have a nice comfy, clean bed to crawl into when they got home. At one point between stretching out the fitted sheets in ways that would make Martha Stewart go bonkers, Grace happened upon the dryer sheet. She immediately gripped the sheet in her fist, pumped it above her head and stated triumphantly "LUCKY!" Well, upon the realization to the other two chuckleheads standing in the room that there was only 1 dryer sheet and apparently because it had been declared "LUCKY!" they immediately assumed that this was some sort of vile laundry plot where they were being cheated out of the joys of discovering their own lucky used dryer sheet. Lucky dryer sheets? I don't get this behavior. It's random. It's odd. It makes no sense, and I relish in nonsense! My sister has since confirmed that she does not play some bribing game where kids can help out with laundry in hopes of finding their very own lucky dryer sheets that can be redeemed for things like Nintendo DS systems, or ponies, or cats that haven't been diagnosed with feline leukemia shortly after they go home to live with Nana which is why we don't have a cat anymore.**

It's those little things that make the days crazy and treasured all rolled up into one. The true moments that make you scratch your head and you think, "What if there *were* lucky dryer sheets?"

*Actually, school started at 10. So they were late for their late start day...a fact that was brought to light at precisely 3:15 when they were picked up from school. I believe this tardy was forgiven, the one that we got on Friday - well that was legitimate tardy - so if your kids don't get some perfect on-time attendance certificate at the end of the year Denise, I apologize sincerely. Just remind yourself that you came home and they weren't malnourished or ceased to function normally under my care.

**R.I.P. Shiny Glass Luna - the cat, who went home to live with Nana because of "allergies" that was then diagnosed with feline leukemia and died. Which apparently is how the story gets told when retail clerks at Cracker Barrel ask young children if they have any pets.

Aimee (a 30-something clerk at Cracker Barrel that had her own 3-year old son and kept asking about Isabel... "How old is she? When's her birthday again? She's quite quick isn't she?): Hey there. Do you like those? (points at the motorized hamsters that Isabel and I are playing with.) Do you have any pets?

Isabel (my charming 3 year old lunch date): Well, I do have a big black dog. We used to have a cat, Shiny. But it went to my Nana's house and then Shiny got sick and died. So we don't have a cat. But we do have a Patchy. That's my big black dog.

Aimee: Oh my. Well it's nice that you have a dog, even if you don't have a cat.

Isabel: No, because our cat died at Nana's. Do you have new batteries for this one? (Handing Aimee a robotic hamster that apparently doesn't have fresh batteries)

Aimee: I think I do.

Aimee and Isabel continued to have a lovely conversation about hamsters and batteries.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Damn Dog!

Anyone that knows me well, knows that I'm not really an "animal" person. Animals and I have never gotten along. From my very first interactions with animals - cats, dogs, hamsters things haven't gone well. Especially since the Bear Country USA incident.

Last night Patch, the Luna's big black lab, decided to that my purse my be an interesting source of adventure. The kids had received a very lovely basket of Pretzels and Popcorn and Movie Candy along with Balloons and the movie UP - so while we were unwrapping gifts - screaming about balloons and deciding what to do with ribbons and wrapping paper - the dog was busy devouring a pack of chocolate eggs and a package of gum. Now, I know that dogs can't have chocolate. But did you know that dogs can die from Xylitol? Yeah, I didn't. I mean, the cartoons show that when Marmaduke eats gum, he farts bubbles - they don't draw the family out in the back yard digging a giant hole sobbing uncontrollably.

Mind you - I don't fare well in emergency situations where I don't know the answer. So while the kids are screaming about presents, I'm yelling at the dog. I looked up dogs and chocolate online - and figured big lab, less than 2 oz of milk chocolate...diarrhea at the worst.

Then I looked up dogs and gum. Yeah - screw you sugar free gum, with your Xylitol and your dog poisoning. That's not something you want your dog to eat - unless you hate your dog. So I called the vet. After the phone rang 30 times (seriously) Dr. Hoffman answered. I explained the situation. He talked to me like I was 8. Which is fine, in Dog Care Years, I probably am 8. It involved getting Patch to drink Hydrogen Peroxide. He wretched twice but didn't puke. The vet said to wait an hour - if he hadn't thrown up - to call him back. Meanwhile, kids are still going nuts and also asking a thousand questions about their sick dog. "Why are you trying to get Patch to puke?" Stacie, Stacie? Stacie? Stacie? Aunt Stacie? Has he puked yet? Nope. So I call back Dr. Hoffman - he said, "Well, you can try one more thing...put 3/4 teaspoon of salt in the back of the dog's throat." Now mind you, I call Patch a Dumb Dog often - but he's not that dumb. He knows that I screamed bloody murder when he tried to snatch the 2nd package of eggs from my purse. He was already reluctant when I poured the Hydrogen Peroxide down his gullet - so he wasn't to keen on snuggling up to me when I came down with my salt trick. So I bribed him - I'm good at bribing...just ask the kids. I offered him a piece of kibble - he opened up for that, and in went the salt. Well - the salt worked instantly. Salt went in - chocolate, 12 pieces of gum and the piece of kibble landed nicely on the floor. In a gooey dog stomach kind of way.


The kids come down - apparently dog puke is super cool to look at - not so fun to clean up. I call Dr. Hoffman - I say, "Thank you so much, the salt thing worked." That's when he says this comforting nugget of knowledge... "Make sure you watch him for the next 3-4 days. Unless you can see that the salt came up with the puke. Because salt can be toxic for dogs too." Great...that's just great. What kind of symptoms should I be looking for? "Oh, he'll start to show signs of lethargy and may have a seizure." Hey, Doc, got anything else cool that I need to worry about during an already stressful week.

So that evening, as Patch was trying recover from his adventures with Aunt Stacie I was freaking out with every dog twitch, yawn and sigh. I finally just let the dog up on the couch so that if he actually did start to have a seizure I'd least know he was having one.

I don't know what I would done about it - but hey, comfort is found in the strangest of places. Isabel, true to tattling form, came directly down the stairs in the morning and said, "Aunt Stacie! Patch can NOT be on the couch, Mom Said!" - Yeah, well, I'll deal with your Mom freaking out about dog hair on the couch as opposed to having to sit you three little cherubs down to explain that Aunt Stacie killed your dog.

I am missing the animal gene...

Anyone that knows me well, knows that I'm not really an "animal" person. Animals and I have never gotten along. From my very first interactions with animals - cats, dogs, hamsters things haven't gone well. When my family and the Schroeder family decided that a trek to the Black Hills and a quick drive through Bear Country USA were in order - the gang was all on board. Sure, feeding the goats and lambs and horned rams was fun while we all had full red and white striped boxes of popcorn. Horned sheep, goats, lambs and a plethora of other animals back in the day roamed free at Bear Country USA. I'm pretty sure they still do, because it's South Dakota. Back then, if a long horned ram would have gored me, my parents would have shrugged their shoulders and said, "Well, the stupid kid should have just given up her popcorn." They wouldn't have sued or had long horned sheep put down because of their violent natures.

As the animals got more and more greedy - and as the popcorn supply dwindled. The 3 Schroeder boys and my two darling older sisters decided to seek refuge from the hungry hungry animals and climbed to the top of a picnic table. I was not a husky child. I was tiny and blond and I wasn't the assertive lass you all know and love at the time of the Bear Country USA tragedy. It clearly shaped how I feel about animals, zoos and pets in general. A standard picnic table is surely large enough for 6 kids to hang out on. A table being used for refuge from horned sheep could probably in a pinch rescue a classroom of children. My sisters and "the boys" decided that in order to reserve their bubbles of personal space that there was not room for me on top of the picnic table. So I stood on the ground, now surrounded by animals that are slowly but surely realizing that I'm their last chance at a mid-morning popcorn feeding.

I was not so keen on the idea of being the sole provider of snack time. So, I opted to hold my popcorn high above my head while pleading my case to the refugee council. Before the council could decide - the Orwellian animals housed at the petting zoo area had other plans. One minute the sky was bright blue and I was enjoying a lovely snack with my family and in the next instant I was flat on my back breath knocked out of me - gasping for any air. Suddenly what was wide open sky above me was now replaced with filthy fur - the feeling the rough horns on either side of my throat didn't help with the calm breathing. My red and white striped popcorn box was being trampled around me. The animals taking advantage of my misfortune multiplied at a rapid pace. Finally I managed to get a grip and what escaped my lips was a blood curdling scream. Since that day - animals and I have a serious issue.

I don't like zoos. I have never 'snuggled' with a dog and thought - oh, adorable, I want one. I was the last one outside when our cat Mittens had her kittens - which meant I got stuck with the one that was herniated as "my" cat. He was all black, I named him Spook. He was a whiny cat. Isn't it awful that I don't remember how that cat died??? Yeah it is. I appreciate people that have animals, but I'm just not one of them. I know it, I own it and I don't pretend that it's something that it's not.