Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Holiday Marathon

What follows is a quick recap of our Holiday Timeline. I wish I could say I am sad it is over....

Nov. 26, Thanksgiving Morning Annual Flag Football Game – 25 guys come over for breakfast and coffee before the game. Husband plugs one too many griddles in outside outlet and blows the electrical fuse for the entire house. Men eat bacon, talk trash, and try to forget how old they have become. Each one stretches awkwardly while reminiscing about the good old days. They walk to middle school soccer field and begin to play. Game reminds me of a documentary on Rhinos I saw on the Discovery Channel. They are large, slow beasts running around, chasing each other and falling to the ground. Every now and then, someone makes a loud strange noise (as if they have been shot by a hunter), crumples to their knees and is dragged off the field. The whole game appears to be played in slow motion. I didn’t play but it still hurt to watch.

Nov. 26, Thanksgiving afternoon - We over plan and decide it would be a good idea to also have Thanksgiving dinner for 20 at our house. Husband has problem with deep fryer (this too has become a tradition) and can’t get oil to heat. Three hours later than planned, oil is heated to 400 degrees. He and his extremely bright friend then drop cold turkey in oil. Small fireball shoots up, almost catches roof on fire, and eventually spills on one guy’s shoe (Gucci loafer). Oil burns through leather and guy is left with a third degree burn on his foot. Dinner is served in garage/play room/man cave/office. The meal begins at the exact moment the children’s movie (which has been entertaining the kids for past 2 hours) comes to an end. Awesome!

December 2nd: Tree Purchase - Husband, children and I head to the Boy Scout tree lot. I take a deep breathe and check off item in my mental to-do list that says ‘family gives back’. Husband corners a man at tree lot and quizzes him on the difference between a Pine and a Fir tree. Husband is so into his forestry lesson he is not bothering to watch the kids who have now run into an area where many untrained lumberjacks (aka dad’s from our neighborhood) yield electric saws. Man being asked questions about tree eventually stops husband and says with great sorrow, “Sir, I don’t know anything about trees. I am just a scout leader.” Husband looks dejected and buys over priced tree, which he feels he knows nothing about. Men place tree on top of my car without a blanket and scratch my entire roof. Husband shrugs shoulders and says, “Don’t worry, it's good for it.” I don’t understand what he means but that is nothing new.

December 3rd, Tree Decorating – Really fun except my daughter only wants to eat the candy canes and my son keeps breaking glass ornaments. My husband and I try to smile and get along but we end up disagreeing about pretty much everything from the lights, to the placement of the tree stand, and finally the music we are listening to (he wants Frank Sinatra and I want Carrie Underwood). At one point I scream at entire family “THIS IS FUN. THIS IS CHRISTMAS!” They look at me like I am nuts and I take a time out. When we ask our son to put the angel on top of the tree, he has an epic unexplainable tantrum and locks himself in his room. Next year we plan to start drinking earlier.

December 6th, House decorating- I balance the ladder up on the roof all by myself, I put the lights on the house all by myself, and I wrap the bushes all by myself. Later, I put ladder back on roof all by myself, replace 7 broken bulbs, and try not to get electrocuted. Neighbors yell things like “Do you need any help? Isn’t that your husband’s job?” I smile and continue to risk my life because it is easier to do alone. When my husband gets home he looks at the lights and says, “Hey, those two strands of lights aren’t exactly the same. It looks weird.” I hide my rage and try to remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

December 9th, Big Lots – For some reason I don’t think the gaudy roof lights and slightly redneck bush lights are enough. I give into a deep-seated desire to buy a white reindeer and a small fake Christmas tree with colored lights. Put them in front yard and later husband re-arranges them into a ‘Christmas scene’ that he says looks cozy…it doesn’t. Deer’s head won’t plug into any of the available outlets so deer spends the holidays looking like he has a broken neck.

December 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 22nd – Buy random shit from Target that I think the kids will like and/or return random shit from Target that I am sure the kids won’t like.

December 23rd – Full panic sets in as I try to remember all the people I am supposed to give gifts to but have forgotten. Start throwing $20 bills and $10 Target gift cards out the window of my car as I drive. Say a prayer that the right people will find them. Deeply worried that my garbage man/postman/babysitter/lawn guy/child’s teacher/creepy neighbor/strange old lady/UPS man/hairdresser will think that I have forgotten about them, don’t appreciate them, or that I am cheap…unfortunately all three of these things are partially true.

December 24th, Christmas Eve – Husband and I wrap, hide, and drink our way through the evening. Go to a friend’s house and feel beyond grateful that we are not at my house. Try to get drunk but instead find myself playing the “Just Dance” WII game with my best friend. We dance to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” and it makes me feel happy. We compete in a dance off and, even though she is carrying a newborn baby in a Bjorn, she wins. A low point in my life.

December 25th, Christmas morning –Son comes in bedroom very concerned because we forgot to leave cookies and milk for Santa. Tears well up in eyes and breakdown is inevitable. I quickly say “Santa didn’t want snacks this year because he is on weight watchers, just like daddy.” Son looks confused but then says, “He can’t have a snack because he is growing out, instead of up, just like Daddy?” I am grateful he understands and we head out of our room to begin the festivities.

Merry Christmas…It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Home Improvement

I answered the phone about 8 am on Saturday morning and an anxious voice greeted me on the other line. It was one of our best friends and he sounded kind of panicky. “Hey Kels, is Nate up yet? We have a major problem over here.” First, let me tell you there is no way my husband would be up before 8am on a weekend. This is a man that says he is barely getting by when he gets 9 hours of sleep and tells me he has ‘never been this tired’ practically every day of his life. So when Chris wanted to know if he was up yet, I laughed.

In our marriage, we have worked things out as follows. Because I am a morning person, I normally let him sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, he gets up very early for work and therefore I try to give him a chance to sleep in and catch up on the weekends.

Okay, that is not exactly the truth, but it sounds good. The truth is I WANT to be the type of wife who lets her husband sleep late out of the goodness of her heart, but that would be a lie. The real reason I do it is because it gives me great bargaining power the rest of the day.

Me: “Hey Honey, can I go to brunch with my friend, get a pedicure, and then sleep with a stranger?”

Husband: “You’re pushing it with the stranger, however you did let me sleep until 9am. Knock yourself out.”

It works every time.

So my response to my friends question was “No, he isn’t up. Is everything okay?” He said that their entire bedroom was leaking and he was pretty sure it was coming from the deck above their bedroom. He needed help fast. I knew the rain was going to be here for another 5 days and things were getting bad at their house. A few weeks ago, during another rainstorm, his wife had called in a panic. She had just opened her closet to find her new Joe Jeans and Trina Turk purchases covered with mold. This was now officially an emergency. I woke my husband up and he quickly got ready and headed out the door.

Now is where the fun begins. My husband and his best friend have attempted home improvement projects before. To say it is painful to watch would be an understatement. But let me start with the positive, my husband is great at demolition. If rocks need crushing, trees need moving, or concrete needs pouring, he is the man for the job. On the other hand, if plumbing needs fixing, electrical needs wiring, or lighting needs changing…you are in trouble. He is a lot of other wonderful things, but handy he is not.

The problems start at the beginning of each project. He normally begins a home improvement episode with the following questions. “Honey, where is the hammer? Have you seen the nails? Where do we keep the screwdriver again?” When the mere locating of your tools presents an obstacle, you know it is not going to turn out well. And this little adventure was no exception.

He arrived at their house, ready to work and listened as his friend laid out the plan. The problem stemmed from the large amount of water coming from the sky and off the roof onto the rotten upper deck. The water would pool on the deck and eventually drain through one spot that lead to various leaks in their bedroom ceiling. These leaks were getting worse and worse, and now were located in many places, not to mention the two recessed lights that were positioned directly above the pillows on their Pottery Barn bed.

The plan was to take a large tarp, attach it to the roof, let it fall over the upper deck and then finally attach it to the lower deck…thus creating an angle where the water could roll off the roof. They also hoped this would keep the deck fairly dry, which would in turn minimize the water that was running into the drain and ultimately onto their heads every 3 seconds throughout the night.

I arrived about 45 minutes after the work had begun and my girlfriend was sitting on the couch, breastfeeding her little one, while shaking her head. I said, “How’s it going.” She shook her head and said sadly, “Just watch.” And so I did. And for the next 2 ½ hours, this is what I witnessed.

Husband and friend look at tarp.

Husband crosses his arms and thinks.

Friend leans against wall and thinks.

Husband picks up a piece of furniture on deck and moves it to other side.

Friend picks up a different piece of furniture and moves it.

Husband and Friend pick up tarp, tarp gets caught in wind gust, tarp flies in air.

Both Husband and Friend stop and think.

Friend and husband lift tarp, walk three steps to right, and put tarp back down.

Husband thinks again, this time without arms crossed.

Friend moves grill.

Tarp blows up off deck and husband tries to catch it.

Husband and Friend pick tarp up and move two steps in opposite direction.

Husband leans against wall, thinks, and then moves a chair back to its original location.

Friend and Husband walk in a circle around deck while looking at tarp.

Friend stops, thinks, and moves a different chair.

Husband lifts tarp and sets it back down.

Husband and friend cross arms and think.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

Finally, after 3 hours, they laid the tarp down on the deck, placed the grill and furniture on top of it, and walked away. They then knocked on the sliding glass door and said, “Hey ladies, any way you could get us some lunch. We are starving!”

Let me be clear. What had happened after all that moving, lifting, and thinking was that the big blue tarp was simply laid on the ground. My 3 year-old could have done it in 10 minutes. My five year-old even said to me, “Mom, they just laid the tarp on the deck. How is that going to help?” My thoughts exactly. Basically instead of the water pooling on the deck, it now was pooling on the tarp, which was on the deck. Therefore, the water on the tarp would eventually become the water on the deck, and need to be drained from the same spot as before. This would then lead the water right back to spots that caused the leaks that had started this project to begin with.

The story gets boring from here. They realized their mistake, thought about it some more, and went back into the rain. They repeated all the actions from above but this time they moved less and thought even more. Eventually they had a brilliant idea and ran to the garage to get a bunch of random things such as umbrellas, brooms and golf clubs. They brought them up, went outside and did more thinking, more arm crossing and more moving…all while placing those random things in random places. And then, by the Grace of God, they thought one last time, picked up the tarp, balled it up, and threw it off to the side. They came inside, soaking wet and beaten, and had one last thought…How did it all go so wrong?

The moral of the story is this. When it comes to my husband’s character, he truly is the most wonderful man I have ever met. But when it comes to my house, he can’t do shit. If a light bulb needs changing, he gets overwhelmed. If a door hinge needs replacement, he says maybe next weekend. And if a leak is threatening to cave in our ceiling, he says a bucket will do the trick. I am learning to let him try, keep my mouth shut, and call a handyman once he goes to work. I am making progress and slowly giving up the dream that my husband will ever be the type of man to strap on a tool belt, tuck a pencil behind his ear, and start to drill something. Luckily he gives the best hugs, loves my children more than anything, and makes me laugh every day. If he has no idea what to do with a tarp, so be it…

(DISCLAIMER: My husband would have you know that in this blog he found many misconceptions, lies, and half-truths. He wants it to be noted that I have a loose relationship with the truth…and in particular he insists he can absolutely change a light bulb, wear a tool belt and in his OWN way is very handy.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Woman's Work is Never Done

It was another beautiful Saturday morning, we had just woken up and were enjoying the fact that our kids are now old enough to pour themselves a bowl of cereal, go downstairs and turn on the T.V. As I lay there, I thought about how lucky we were and how fortunate I was to have so much joy in my life. My husband, who had just removed his sleep apnea mask, rolled over and smiled at me. We were really excited about the day because we had plans to head to our friends house in Palm Springs. A day of fun, sun and swimming was ahead, it was going to be a great day.

But then he had to ruin everything by starting the following conversation:

Husband: Do you think we could do it today?

Me: Today? I don’t feel like it, I am tired of doing it.

Husband: Tired of doing it? You have got to be kidding me. I never ask you to do it.

Me: Never, I feel like we do it every weekend. And what about the kids, they haven’t had breakfast yet. They will be running up here in a minute.

Husband: It’s never a good time for you. It will take 10 minutes. By the time we are done arguing about it, you could be finished.

Me: You owe me…let’s go and get this over with.

And so I got out of bed and followed my semi-nude husband into the backyard. We headed to the same secret spot we have been going to for the past 6 years. Hidden underneath a palm tree, behind some tall bushes, we started to do my least favorite thing:

I began to shave his back…

There are so many things I hate about this chore. I hate that he says things like “You have to admit, it is sort of fun, like mowing the lawn.” Really? If I liked mowing the lawn so much, why do I pay someone to do it for me twice a month? Or “Did you get my neck?” No honey, I skipped that part. I thought it would be fun to have you hairless except for 4inx4in section around your neck. I have always had a thing for Michael J. Fox during his transformation in Teen Wolf.

The best part about our clipping/shaving ritual is that my husband doesn’t want anyone to know what we are doing. As if it is a secret that we can keep. Forget about the fact that our backyard is on a hill and our neighbors are normally sitting way up high on their deck, drinking coffee and watching us. And our kids, they know something is up. It takes about 5 minutes for those two to coming running into the backyard in their Dora and Spiderman pajama’s desperately searching for their parents who have snuck outside and are now hiding behind a tree.

My husband doesn’t want the kids to know what we are doing, he’s afraid that it will scar them for life. Believe me, I agree, but I refuse to lie to them about this. I feel this is one time where they need to know the truth, even if it is hard to handle.

When my son says “Mom, why are you shaving dad’s back?” I stop, turn off the electric clippers and look him in the eye. I take a breath and begin to tell him this harsh reality. “Son, your father is a very hairy man. He is going bald on his head but seems to have no problem growing hair in his ears or on his back. You are lucky to have his genes because he is a kind, loving man…but you are also screwed in some areas, back hair being one of them. I am sorry you to had to hear this from me.” He reaches around, feels his smooth back and looks at me with relief. Thankfully, the inevitable is still years away.

When my sweet daughter stumbles upon us, and asks in her cute two-year old voice “Mama, wat yu doin?”, I stop and give her a hug. I tell her that marriage is not easy, sometimes it is hairy and wrapped around a sleep apnea cord. Marriage is about compromise. I tell her there are days you will find yourself doing things you find repulsive, tedious, and below you. I tell her a woman’s work is never done and life isn’t always fair. I smile and let her know that we, the woman of the world, are making strides but we still have work to do. By the look in her eyes, I know she understands.

And then I turn the clippers back on and begin my job. I make sure there is nothing left but a smooth back, clean shoulders, and very little hair on his biceps. I go over his neck two times for good measure and I cover my mouth while clumps of hair fly through the air towards me. I swallow my pride and I do a good job.

Because that’s the type of girl I am.

(P.S. If you can’t relate to this blog, if it doesn’t ring true for you…consider yourself lucky. Today you have something to be grateful for).