January 3, 2012

Rudolph the Semi-Decapitated Reindeer

Yesterday, my husband suggested that instead of driving to the nearest Redbox to return a movie that we had watched on New Year’s Eve (we are super big party animals) that we ride our bikes there instead.

“That sounds like fun,” I agreed.

“Fun” we learned very quickly, is a relative term. The event that followed was certainly more fun than getting impaled by a hot poker, but considerably less fun than just about anything else.

The minute our caravan turned out of neighborhood, Cameron started pinching my back. “OUT!” he screamed while trying to propel himself out of his bike seat. About the same time as he managed to rip off his helmet and throw it in the middle of the road, Cortlen announced that he had to urinate so bad he thought he was going to die. He pointed to a storm drain conveniently located at his feet as he made his request.

“I’m going to pretend like I didn’t hear you say that,” I replied.

Meanwhile, my daughter was doing everything in her power to hold on to the coveted spot of leader of the pack. This included recklessly weaving her bike back and forth on the sidewalk and using her body as a barricade while yelling “Get away from me!” whenever one of her brothers tried to pass her.

“Knock it off!” I growled.

In the end, no amount of sibling hostility or intimidation or parental warnings or common sense could prevent Kellen from making his move. The reward was worth the risk. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him surge ahead—off the sidewalk, around his sister, and then straight into a family of animatronic deer.

If New Year's weekend is a sign of things to come in 2012, I am in serious trouble.

One of the robotic deer was nearly decapitated.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the owners of the house weren’t at home at the time of the accident. “They’ll be back on Thursday,” a woman who was walking her dog told me.

That’s a conversation I’m looking forward to.


I didn’t know what to do, so I laid Rudolph's corpse across the people’s welcome mat. I drove by the house this morning to check for signs of life and take pictures, but much to my surprise and horror, Rudolph had mysteriously disappeared.

“Santa must have came and got him,” I told my kids as I chuckled nervously.

Seriously-I have no idea what happened to the deer and I’m kind of scared to find out.

Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad. After all, his family is still alive and well.

And despite faking signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, my family is doing fine too.


All right friends--we need to talk...

No, I'm not breaking up with you, :) but I am going to take a break from writing for a little bit in 2012. Over the past few months, I have been struck with the urge to write beyond my blog, and in order to create the time and creative energy to do things the right way, I need to put The Meanest Mom into hibernation mode.

It makes me sad too.

Just because I won’t be invading your lives on a semi-daily basis for awhile, however, doesn’t mean that I won't miss you terribly. Writing this blog has been one of the unexpected joys in my life, in large part because of your support and encouragement. Thank you for reading my blog and sharing it with your friends and family. I love every minute of it and feel incredibly honored to have been welcomed into your life. You guys are awesome.

Will you do me a favor? If you feel so inclined, please do one or more of the following:
1. Friend me on Facebook.
2. Subscribe to my blog (see my blog sidebar for options). You will be notified electronically the next time I post.

December 30, 2011

What Might Have Been

Perusing a newspaper in Florida is like reading a press release for Snakes on a Plane. Nearly every day you will encounter a breaking news story about someone who was accidentally bitten by his pet black mamba or who woke up one morning to find a strange 10-foot Burmese python sunning itself on his back porch.

I eat this stuff up like candy, despite being deathly afraid of snakes. Part of it is just morbid curiosity--who in the world would have a pit viper in his house...on purpose?--and part of it has to do with planning. Living in the land of no rules, I know it's a matter of time until one of my kids starts begging for a rattlesnake.

"Compared to South Carolina, Florida has lots of animal regulations." This is what a local herpetologist told me yesterday afternoon, moments after handling a 12-foot cobra.

That isn't saying much.

My sister and brother-in-law are visiting from out of town this week. My commitment to exposing them to the best of what Florida has to offer is what led us to a local venom extraction lab. In response to public demand, the lab recently started hosting public viewings of venomous snake milkings a few times each week.

As a special holiday treat, the herpetologist decided to bring out some of his non-venomous friends for a pre-show meet and greet.

"Pass them around!" he said encouragingly as he plopped an albino ball python into my daughter's lap.

I hurdled over half a dozen other spectators as I bolted for the door.

As I watched from the safety of an outside viewing window, my kids taunted me with constrictors and hideously looking but totally innocuous black things, which they draped around their necks and passionately kissed. Around the same time as I watched Cortlen successfully coax a snake up the armhole of his shirt, I blacked out. Not really, but the sight made me so light-headed that I lost my balance and fell backward onto an aquarium containing a huge Eastern Diamondback.

Good times.

The venom extraction (which was, in all fairness, extraordinarily interesting and educational) ended with a Q&A session. One little boy from Washington D.C. asked the herpetologist if he had ever been bit by a poisonous snake (A: Yes, 11 times, including once in the face). Cortlen followed up with a query of own: "Do you need a helper?"

On the way out, my husband caught my daughter trying to buy a baby corn snake from the gift shop with her Christmas money.

She cried all the way home over what might have been.

December 28, 2011


My family spent the better part of the afternoon today at a local park. My kids played tag on and around the jungle gym while my sister and I talked about important things like the Sweet Valley High book series and the Bring It On trilogy.

There were several other people at the park at the same time as us, including a lone teenage boy who was talking on his cell phone. I didn't pay much attention to the guy until he picked up Camber's scooter and started walking--and then running--away with it.

"I think he's stealing it!" my sister said in disbelief.

At that exact moment, I caught a glimpse of my husband, who had left work a little early and had just arrived in the parking lot. "That guy is stealing Camber's scooter!" I yelled and pointed in the direction of where the boy was running. When the boy heard me, he dropped the object and started sprinting like an Olympian down the street.

"You'd better run," my husband yelled as he charged after him. "Because I'm coming to get you."

The thief, who was roughly the size of a hobbit, didn't make it a block before he stopped and threw up his hands in defeat.

Talk about karma: the thief turned out to be the sixteen year-old son of my husband's work colleague.

"Guess what? I'm having lunch with your dad tomorrow," my husband told him. The boy gulped.

As you can imagine, over the past few hours, the episode has been relived and rehashed a countless number of times. Central to my husband's retelling of the story is the fortuitous timing of his arrival at the park. If he hadn't arrived on the scene at exactly that moment, the scooter would be gone forever.

Also relevant, he claims, is his wardrobe.

"If I had been wearing tighter work pants," he pointed out with a smirk, "I wouldn't have been able to run as fast."

Karma indeed.

He still has two months.

Fitted Menswear

Last night, my sister and brother-in-law (who are visiting us this week from Michigan) watched our kids so my husband and I could go shopping.

I don't know what is worse--taking my kids to the mall or my husband.

Every time I turned around, he was somewhere where he wasn't supposed to be--in the Apple store, trying on sunglasses at a well-stocked kiosk, and gazing lustily at cinnamon rolls in the food court.

"We're supposed to be here buying you new work clothes," I reminded him. I tapped my watch. Our time was short.

Part of the problem with this year's shopping expedition is that my husband likes to wear pants and dress shirts that are at least one size larger than his true size.

"Imagine this with a belt," he said, as he emerged from a dressing room clutching a pair of pants at the waist so they wouldn't fall down to his knees.

"People would think you lost twenty pounds if you wore clothes in the right size," I told him.

My husband pointed out that he doesn't care if the secretaries in his office think he is fat. He is more interested in wearing slacks that give him the same comfort and mobility as sweatpants.

"These pants are way too tight," he complained as he crouched down on the ground and spread his legs like he was doing the splits.

I was not impressed. "You act like you are going to be doing Jane Fonda workout videos in those clothes," I said. "All you do all day is sit at a desk."

"I feel like I am wearing a straight jacket," he griped when he put on the shirt.

"You no longer look you just stepped out of a 90s rap video," I corrected.

After a long standoff, we reached a compromise. He agreed to buy a pair of pants and a single dress shirt in his proper size if I agreed not to make him wear them until March.

The next two months has been declared a designated period of mourning.

December 26, 2011

Holy and Unholy Instruments

Christmas is a special time of year for lots of reasons, the least of which is that it provides people with a legitimate reason to dig out the musical instruments that they haven't touched since middle school and play them at church.

Not everyone who played in their 6th grade band, however, is eligible to play their instrument in such a hallowed venue. Based on my observations, only those who had the foresight to take up holy instruments are granted this special privilege.

List of Holy Instruments:
1. Harp. The instrument of angels is always welcome in the house of the Lord.
2. Flute. This is the second most holy instrument, based simply on the fact that it is played almost exclusively by prepubescent girls.
3. Oboe. Despite connotations with Kenny G, this instrument still makes the list because it looks like a vertical flute.

List of Unholy Instruments:
1. Drums. Any instrument that is integral to a rock band is inherently unholy.
2. Guitar. See above.
3. Trumpet, trombone, saxophone. Any instrument that is typically played by men, or makes sounds loud enough to drown out holy instruments such as the flute is always unholy.

List of Holy Instruments That Should Be Unholy Instruments:
1. Recorders. If you have a third grader, you know what I'm talking about.
2. People who were members of a show choir during college.