What turns on your lights

The Husband planned an elaborate belated birthday date for me, which was supposed to take place today. We were going to ride the train to Chicago, have dinner at Giordano’s, and finish out the evening with a walk through Millennium Park. It was going to be great. We were going to laugh and enjoy each other’s company, walking hand-in-hand through the park. I was going to lay my head on his shoulder and fall asleep on the train ride home. A fellow passenger, probably a sweet elderly lady, was going to smile and ask if we were newlyweds. We were going to giggle and say, “It sure feels like it, but no. We’ve been married five years!” Like I said, it was going to be great. It was way out of character for The Husband to plan something so thoughtful. I should have made a big deal about it, went on the date, did the hand-holding and snuggling and giggling, but….I started thinking about all of the other things we could do with the money….and that’s how I ended up lightbulb shopping for my birthday date. Read on.

Last night:

Me: So I’m really excited about tomorrow. And I really want to do it. Seriously. And it’s totally up to you, but should we consider spending that money on some lumber to start framing the basement? Like either way is fine with me. Both would be fun. But I am really anxious to get started on the basement….
The Husband: 😐

Now some of you may be feeling bad for him right now. He planned this fantastic date and I’m just kind of politely declining, but you should know that the reason he wants to do the date instead of buy lumber is not because he wants to have a romantic evening with me. It’s because we’ve done enough home improvement projects together for him to know that taking me on an expensive date is one of the billion things he would rather do than start another project. Right next to hack off his own leg with a dull knife, sleep on a bed of scorpions…

When we do a home improvement project, I believe we’re like Carl and Ellie from the movie, Up, lovingly fixing up our dream house, writing our names in a heart on the mailbox. In his head, it’s probably something more like a scene from Roots:

The Husband: *sweating, dirty, breathing heavily, grabs a glass of ice water and collapses in the chair while reaching for the remote*
Me: Oh, you already got it all done?
The Husband makes up some obscure tool that he needs so that I can’t force him back to work: I need a fligeradoo before I can do anything else.
Me: Well can’t you do another step until we get the fligeradoo? Like start hanging the drywall?
The Husband: No. I can’t hang the drywall before the studs are up to hang it on. Unless you want me to hang it on air.
Me: Fine. Just watch TV then, I guess.

I’m awful, I know. Anyway, we went back and forth on whether or not to go through with Chicago date night, but because he loves me:

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Soon enough, we’ll have the extra bedroom done and I can stop listening to the boys complain about sharing a room, I thought. Chicago would have been great, but this will be really great.

The Husband had made a shockingly long list of light bulbs we needed (27 bulbs to be exact) and we decided to grab those first. An hour and a half and nearly $100 later, we left Lowe’s with nothing more than 27 light bulbs and a new broom. Who knew that so many light bulbs would be so ridiculously expensive!? And how in the world did we need 27 light bulbs!? Had I just gone along with the original plan, we would have been leisurely strolling through the park right now. Instead, we’re at home changing light bulbs while all three kids scream their fool heads off. Sometimes I’m disgusted by my own practicality. But the good news is that the security lights that I didn’t even know we had are now functional. Happy birthday to me.

I can’t complain because it’s my own fault, and I must add that he did insist that we at least eat at Cracker Barrel, where he talked me into buying a few swan trinkets that he knew I wanted, but was too cheap to buy without the extra encouragement.

So thanks for planning a fantastic birthday date AND for actually taking me on a mediocre one, dear. Sometimes it really is the thought that counts.

The road to nowhere leads to me

When we lived in town, we were only a few blocks away from my parents. It wasn’t uncommon for Mom, Dad or my sister to unexpectedly drop in for a visit. And by “it wasn’t uncommon” I mean it happened every day, sometimes multiple times per day. The Husband was never a fan of the impromptu visits from my family which, I believe, played a large part in him agreeing to my first pick when we were house shopping – because it is a twenty minute drive from my mother.

I actually fell asleep on the way here the first time we drove by to check it out. The Husband woke me up with a big smile as we went by:

There’s your house, Mom!

I thought he was just excited because he knew I was going to love it. I was mistaken. He was excited because he knew how long it had taken to get there and he knew I had no idea since I’d been asleep. New rule: if it’s a long enough drive to fall asleep, it’s too far to be home.

Anyway, living out here in Siberia, I’ve learned how to improvise and do without:

We’re out of diapers
Town Mother Swan: I’ll run over to Walmart and pick some up.
Country Mother Swan: Guess we’re doing the dish towel thing until tomorrow. Take it easy on the milk, kid.

I don’t feel like making dinner
Town Mother Swan: McDonald’s it is.
Country Mother Swan: If I’m too lazy to make dinner I’m also too lazy to make the voyage to town. Here’s some ravioli, kids. I’ll eat some other day.

The internet is slow and Grey’s is buffering
Town Mother Swan: This is an outrage! What the heck is the problem!? Why is this happening!?
Country Mother Swan: It happens. Guess it’s time for bed.

Six inches of snow fell last night
Town Mother Swan: Ugh I guess I have to shovel this square of sidewalk for the mailman. (alright, I’ll be honest: I hope the mailman has his snow shoes on because I’m too lazy to get out in the cold to shovel that square)
Country Mother Swan: I’ll never make it out of here alive.

Gas is $2.50 per gallon
Town Mother Swan: So?
Country Mother Swan: We are on lockdown. Only essential travel permitted.

The water bill comes
Town Mother Swan: I can’t wait until we move to the country and the water is free.
Country Mother Swan: This free water smells like rotten eggs and it’s yellow and there is no pressure. We need fifteen different filtration systems and now we’re spending more for water than we did in town.

Mom wants to know if I want to come over for dinner
Town Mother Swan: Sure! (as I hop in her car to head there because she asked me in person since she was already at my house as usual)
Country Mother Swan: No thanks, I’m not coming to town today.

Who says that? “I’m not coming to town today.” Like we would have to hop in our wagon and hook up the oxen to make the trip and it’s just not worth the trouble.

All that is fine and we’re making it work, but the worst part is that our house is located in the Bermuda Triangle created where three counties meet. Our road is a county line road and it doesn’t extend any further north than our mile. People really need directions to get here but no one listens to directions anymore.

What’s your address?
Well, it’s….but you just need to come down State Road 15 then turn left at….

Oh I’ll just put it in my GPS.

Well, sometimes GPS has trouble so….

I finish my directions. I can tell the other person isn’t listening because they are still just planning on relying on that trusty GPS. Alright, Smarty-Pants, see ya soon. It actually gives me a little bit of joy when they call ten minutes after they are supposed to be at my house.

Ok, I’m lost. How do I find your house?
Yeah, that’s what I thought, punk.

Truth be told though, I complain about the inconvenience, but anyone that knows me knows that my corner of the world out here in No Man’s Land is on the short list of things that bring me the most joy in life.

We don’t need no education

Because we were irresponsible as teenagers/young adults, the first four years of our marriage were spent with one or both of us taking online college courses to catch up with the other grown-ups our age. The Husband finished his nursing program in July 2014 and I completed my bachelor’s degree in September 2015. After that, we both decided to take a break from classes.

It’s hard keeping up with coursework when you have a whole adult life, complete with kids, bills, and jobs, to attend to as well. Luckily, since we took a lot of our classes online, we could tag team them when needed:

If you want me to pick up this shift, you’re going to have to write this paper for me.

I have to clean the house, can you take this test for me real quick?

I’m not an advocate of cheating, but I’m also not an advocate of being forced to spend thousands and thousands of dollars and millions of hours on a degree with a curriculum that is made up of 90% miscellaneous crap and 10% information that is actually useful in your chosen profession. So sometimes we helped each other and I don’t feel bad about that. Between the two of us, we possess the knowledge. If The Husband is ever at work and needs to know the definition of “metacommunication,” he can call me and I will tell him it is “communicating about communication.”  We’ve got it covered. And I’m so glad I get to be the part of this partnership that is wasting my brain space with that ridiculous knowledge.

So anyway, our coursework was a team effort and, not to toot my own horn, but I was the MVP.  One semester, The Husband was short on electives so I suggested he take Spanish.  I had taken it a year before and it was easy since most of it was the same material covered in high school Spanish.

That doesn’t sound like an easy three credits. Because I don’t speak Spanish.

Neither do I, but it’s just the same things we learned in high school Spanish.  You’ll be fine.

Well apparently I had retained much more of high school Spanish than he had.  He needed a lot of assistance with this one. It worked out fine and he went into the last week with a high B. Then came the final exam. The final was a problem because it was a phone call with the instructor during which you were supposed to answer her Spanish questions. In Spanish. And I have a girl voice and The Husband is a boy so he was on his own for this part. This is how it went:

Instructor: Hola, gracias por llamar para el examen. ¿Cómo estás?

The Husband: Uh-oh

Instructor:  ¿Te preparaste para este examen?

The Husband: Umm…gracias?

Anyway, we somehow made it through. He got his nursing license and we are both enjoying our jobs and I think we are both pretty good at what we do despite the questionable integrity of our degree completion. However, we’re always looking for our next conquest, so this fall we’re putting our thinking caps back on and sending The Husband back for his bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration. He did the first round of paperwork last week and was expecting a call from the admissions counselor.  The call came while he was peeing and, of course, he didn’t want to miss such an important call so he reached for his phone to answer.  This is what the admissions counselor heard:

Hello, this is *splash*

as his phone landed in the urine-filled toilet.

Maybe if he knew more about communication and metacommunication, he wouldn’t have made the poor decision of answering his phone while peeing. Anyway, I may help him here and there with the classes and he won’t be able to put on his resume that he is bilingual, but I know he will make a great administrator for a long-term care facility. You wouldn’t expect it from his demeanor and personality, but he really cares about his residents and their families as a nurse and I think that will carry over to his job performance as an administrator.

So August is back-to-school for all of the men at our house. Here’s to a great year of learning!

Don’t let me down

I break everything I touch – washers, vehicles, computers, vacuums. I break them all, and I can tell you why. It’s because I have three little kids, a house to clean, a full-time job, and I feel like I do the work of three women and I expect everything else around me to do the same.

Oh your recommended load is no more than 8 towels? Well I have 15, so let’s start there and see how you do.

You can’t sweep up an entire box of Cheerios? Let’s give it a go. I believe in you.

You’re not meant to grind enough food for an entire army? Right, if you were an ordinary garbage disposal, but you’re no ordinary garbage disposal.

You want me to rinse my plate for you before loading because you can’t digest the scraps? Then what do I need you for, Dishwasher? If I’m going to do all of that, I might as well wash the plate myself. Plus your buddy, the garbage disposal, is refusing to take these last few scraps so step up and do your part. 

I expect everything around me to do its personal best because that’s what I try to do, but appliances don’t give a damn about their job performance. They are lazy! Which is why I use and abuse every appliance that comes here. They mean nothing to me. When an appliance is purchased by the Swans, it knows it is going to live a brief and miserable life, full of toil and sadness. 

There are a lot of things The Husband hates about me, but I’m pretty sure this is near the top. Luckily, he’s really handy because I would have bankrupted us years ago if he weren’t. He follows me around fixing everything in my path of devastation. Our house is like a real-life version of Wreck-it Ralph. 

Me: I’m gonna wreck it!

And then along comes Fix-it Felix to cheerfully fix it with his magic hammer. 

The Husband: I can fix it!

Except in this version, Felix doesn’t have a magic hammer so every repair takes hours and is expensive. And Felix cusses at Ralph through the whole thing. And Ralph just sits and watches Felix make the repair while sipping a glass of wine. 

So I hate telling The Husband when I’ve broken something. Tonight, I tried to incorporate a little playful humor in my confession/maintenance request:

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Of course his answer was to stick my hand down the garbage disposal to remove the blockage. I’m not sure why I asked how to fix it because I have no intention of doing so. I guess this gives the illusion that I did plan to fix it so maybe it will mitigate his anger. In fact, maybe I’ll even tell him I did try to fix it, but just couldn’t get the job done. Because I’m but a mere woman and I need a big, strong man to save the day and get this garbage disposal fixed…..because it will be a cold day in Hell before I stick my hand in that disgusting water. Who knows what’s in there!? I cleaned out the entire fridge. The last things I remember putting in there were broccoli, spaghetti, chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, and rotten chocolate milk from a sippy cup I found under The Girl’s bed. I think it quit working somewhere abound the beginning of the chicken and noodles, but I had faith it was going to rally. No such luck. So yeah, it’s a pretty disgusting combination of leftovers that is filling the entire kitchen with a peculiar smell, so I’m avoiding the area altogether until he gets home. 

Don’t hate the player

We were at the city pool today and I noticed that Boy Two was hanging pretty tight with one particular girl. She was an adorable little brown-eyed beauty with long brunette hair, approximately six inches taller than him.  He is one of the shortest seven-year-olds around, but what he lacks in height, he makes up for in blue eyes and personality. I don’t know how to explain it, but the kid has game. He’s the polar opposite of his brother, who spent his day at the pool sitting along the wall, slathering gallons of sunscreen on his pasty, skeletal body and wearing a towel on his head Arabian-sheikh style because he is absolutely terrified of getting sunburned, all while incessantly asking when we are leaving until I finally let him call Granddad to come rescue him from the torment of the pool.

Boy One is a dweeb, but Boy Two is a total playboy. He’s that perfect storm of playfulness, intelligence, sarcasm, humor, indifference, and confidence just short of arrogance that drives girls wild. I know this because he acts exactly like his father. While The Husband isn’t the most physically impressive specimen of a man, I was a young girl once and I know the capabilities of that personality. Been there, done that, and I know it when I see it.

So anyway, Boy Two and Flirty Girl are having a great time at the pool. He even brought her over to introduce herself.

Hi, I’m Flirty Girl. I went to Kindergarten with him.

Oh, nice to meet you, Flirty Girl. I’m his mother.

When I decided it was time to take the baby home, Flirty Girl saw me packing our things and she rushed over.

Are you leaving?

Yeah.

Does he have to leave?

No he can stay here with his Grammy, if he wants. 

She seemed happy that he got to stay longer, but it dissipated quickly when he said, “Ahh, I think I’ll just go home. It’s too hot.”

Good work, son. Leave them wanting more. She heads toward the exit with us and talks to me as we go.

I like a different guy, ya know.

Oh, really?

Yeah. I used to like your son, but not anymore. Now I like a different guy.

Boy Two holds his tongue until just as he’s walking in the boys’ locker room. Then he calls over his shoulder with a smirk, “Hey, Flirty Girl! Tell your sister I said hi.”

Flirty Girl should have stalked off with her dignity at that point, but girls will be girls and, well, he is very handsome.

Alright, well, see ya later, Boy Two!

I’m too fed up to come up with a catchy title

You know how people say, “Have a nice day”? I never have a “nice” day. When I wake up, I know I’m either going to have a fantastic day – a got a raise, found a surprise $20 in my coat pocket, made a new friend on a sunny day type of day – or I’m going to have this kind of a day:

My problems started when I left work (as they typically do). I had my heart set on going to the county fair. Fair week was always the highlight of my summer as a kid. That legacy has stuck with me into my adult years and I still look forward to the fair every year. And every year when I go, I can’t figure out why. The fair is pure misery and here are a few reasons why:

  1. It’s 1,457,535 degrees at the fair. I only sweat once per year and it’s at the fair.
  2. It’s dusty. And the dust gets in your eyes and sticks to your annual sweat.
  3. It’s expensive. The food is expensive, but that’s to be expected. The expense that really ticks me off is the parking. If you are on our fair board (or whatever entity sets the Wabash County Fair parking prices), shame on you.  It’s your fault my kids didn’t get an elephant ear because I was too cheap to buy one of those AND park my damn car.
  4. You have to take your kids to it so they can make great fair memories so that they too will continue to subject themselves to this torture long into their adult years. And at the fair kids get things like suckers and balloons which turn them into slobbering, sticky sweat monsters with an added appendage that relentlessly bops you on your sweaty, dusty face.

So the fair sucked, but if that had been the only bad part of my day, it would have been fine. I might have even classified it as the elusive “nice day.” But the fair was only the very beginning.

 

On the way home, my low tire light came on.  I figured it was just a slow leak, but when I started seeing smoke and smelling burnt rubber, I determined that was not the case so I pulled over 1.5 miles from home.  Now I don’t know what’s going on, but we’ve had an endless barrage of flat tires over the past year.  The Husband claims it’s my fault. It has something to do with the way I drive or the places I go or the fact that I’m a female or just simply the fact that I’m not him.  Anyway, every time I have to call him for a flat, I get the same lecture, so I don’t even want to call him. So I send him this text: :

I have a flat tire. No, it’s not a slow leak. Yes, the rim is ruined. No, I didn’t drive on it. No, I didn’t hit anything. I don’t even want to hear it. 

He comes to the rescue, but rather than picking me and the kids up and driving us the 1.5 miles home and coming back solo to fix it, he makes me (us) stay with him while he works on it. He does this to punish me for my propensity toward flat tires and I refuse to give him the satisfaction of acting like it bothers me. So I sit in the car and start writing this post. After a while, his conscience gets the best of him.

You can run the air if you want to….

No, thank you. I’m fine.

So he works for a while, then decides it’s going to be a more extensive repair than expected so he tells us to get in the truck and he’ll take us home. I start to get in his disgusting truck that is jammed to the hilt with trash and whatnot when Boy Two spills his can of pop all over the passenger seat. I’m hot, I’m tired, and I’m already covered in sticky sweat so does it really matter? No. It does not. I just want to get home so I plop down on the soggy passenger seat and my cheerful chauffeur gets ready to drive me home. Aaaaaand his truck won’t start. He drives an old beater farm truck with 250,000 miles on it (hence the reason he doesn’t care if it’s full of trash), but it’s usually pretty reliable. Not today. So we are now sitting along the side of the road with two kids and two disabled vehicles. I cant even make this crap up.

From high school gym class, I recall that I can walk a mile comfortably in about 12 minutes so that means I’m an 18-minute walk from home, add five minutes since I’ll be carrying a baby and my purse, which is, thankfully, loaded with a big bottle of cheap wine.  That’s still quicker than calling a family member to come out and get me. At this point, the objective is to get to my bathtub in the quickest way possible and walking seems to be it, so eyes on the prize, I get ready to go.  The only thing about walking that really makes me mad is the fact that I sat on the pop puddle for no reason. At just that moment, God threw us one crusty, old bone and the truck started. The Husband and I rode home in silence.

All of that would have been enough to consider this an awful day, but there had to be one last punch to the gut. Now that I had finally made it home, I only had two more hurdles to clear before putting an end to this day of horror: get the baby in bed and open my wine. I laid the baby down and reached for a diaper. The box is empty.  Are you freaking kidding me right now? I had picked up a box, but it’s in the back of my car 1.5 miles away. I remembered the bottle of wine, but forgot the diapers. I don’t actually feel bad about that. More specifically, it is in the ditch where The Husband threw it to open the compartment that holds the spare tire. As he drove me away toward home, I remember thinking, “Man, I hope no one steals that box of diapers. That’s $20.” Of course, The Girl had pooped because, why not? Again, God threw me one last bone and I managed to scare up a swimming diaper three sizes too small. Good enough.

If you were wondering, I did make it to the bathtub, which is where I’m finishing this post right now. I believe The Husband is still sweating along the side the road changing my tire. I’m sure we’re not speaking so, Dear, if you’re reading this, please don’t forget my box of diapers in the ditch.

Oh, and if any of you see me around, please don’t tell me to have a nice day because it isn’t going to happen. Tell me to have a fantastic day because anything short of that is destined to be…well…a day like this one.

 

Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with ya, honey

I run the finances at our house, and by that I mean that I track every single cent that enters and leaves our account. I have spreadsheets that would impress John Nash. It’s actually kind of a hobby of mine. I monitor our account so vigilantly that if The Husband makes a purchase, I’m usually texting him as he’s walking out of the store…

Me:  Whatcha doin’?

The Husband: Nothing

Me: Oh really? Are you sure you’re not leaving Walmart? Because someone just spent $14.17 there. Using your card. What did you buy? 

The Husband: ….deodorant and toilet paper.

So anyway, this week he decided to take Boy Two to see Transformers. The movie is apparently not even kid appropriate since Boy Two said there were “one thousand cusses” in it, but the cussing was not the main issue with the trip to the movies. The main issue was that it cost $38.10 for one adult and one child to attend a movie. Unbelievable. I wanted so badly to tell The Husband what a ridiculous expenditure this was, but I couldn’t.  Here is why:

Last weekend, against The Husband’s wishes, I threw a total (family friendly) rager complete with 101 guests, beer, a DJ, a bounce house, a little more beer, food, fireworks, etc. Typically I wouldn’t approve of such a frivolous expenditure, but I decided to loosen up just this once. Here was my thinking: Remember all of the times your parents said, “OK, well you go ahead and do that – when I’m not the one paying your bills.”? I do. And by that token, I should have been throwing huge parties for quite a few years now, but this was the first one. Because while my parents were going on about all the cool things that would happen once they weren’t paying my bills, they forgot to also explain that I would actually be the one paying them. They let that part be a surprise. Adulthood is the great deception of life.

Anyway, the party was big, but I was able to trim costs quite a bit. Everyone brought food, the fireworks and bounce house ended up being provided by a couple of benevolent guests, and the DJ gave me the family discount. It did, however, slightly exceed our standard monthly budgeted amount for fun, which is approximately two dollars.

The Husband was against the party from the beginning, not because of the expense, but just because he’s not into large crowds or big events (and he hates it when I get fixated on a project like this). He complained, but I wasn’t hearing it. This was my chance to prove that adulthood doesn’t have to be complete drudgery, so I forged on. And guess who was one of the last ones still partying long into the night, hours after most of the guests had left and I had gone to bed (a/k/a fell asleep on the porch). Yep, The Husband. He paid for it the next morning when we had to deflate the bounce house, wrangle it into its bag, and hoist all 7,000 pounds of it into his truck, in the hot blazing sun, still slightly inebriated, so that it could be returned to the rental place before noon to avoid additional charges. Welcome back to reality, folks.

Anyway, I got off track here so let me get back to my point. The movies are expensive. Don’t go there. Don’t pay $40 for your kid to listen to one thousand cusses. Wait until it comes out in stores. Better yet, find a way to download the pirated film online for free (plus attorney fees if you get busted). Or even better yet, cuss at your kid yourself, just don’t waste your money on the movies. But also don’t scold your husband for frivolous purchases just days after you’ve completely blown your budget out of the water for a big party that he wanted no part of – even if he did end up having a good time. Don’t do that because you don’t want divorced, but also because, if you do, you won’t get to do it again next year. And you want to do it next year – only bigger.

For that reason alone, I didn’t say a peep about the expensive movies. Instead, I used that time to start planning for next year’s party. I’m thinking elephant rides, a jumbotron, and possibly one of those t-shirt cannons.