A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life


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Yet Another Parenting Win

My organization supports the Take Your Child to Work day that many other companies participate in. The official day in 2015 was April 23. That happens to be a busy time of year for my organization, so we delayed it until school was out. We had the event in June.

My organization invites the two other organizations who lease space in our building to participate. We have a full day of activities and education for elementary, middle, and high school kids, with a focus on health professions.

I was excited about my kids participating. The most valuable thing they learned the last time they did this was damn, mom gets up so early every day so we can have an Xbox and all the cleats we need to play sports.

The day started at 6:00am. I normally leave the house at 6:00am, but I cut the boys some slack since this was the third official day of their Summer vacation. By 6:30am, my two groggy commute mates had stumbled to the car with the promise of me buying them a bagel from Panera on the way to the office. Of course, there was the mandatory bellyaching about who got to sit in the front seat, which was quickly squelched by my brilliant missive “Just get the fuck in the car and save your fighting for when all of my colleagues’ kids can enjoy it!”

The boys like taking the Metro. It’s fun to get a ticket, ride the train, and travel up and down via escalator. Because we got to the Metro station at a busy point in rush hour that morning, the car was packed. Nick had to sit on my lap, and Alex sat in a seat facing ours.

Nick has never suffered the heat well. And this Tuesday morning was going to be no exception. By the 5th stop, it was standing room only with no A/C. And we had about 11 more stops to go – all underground with even less fresh air.

The combination of crammed bodies, sitting on my lap, no A/C in our Metro car, the swaying motion of the train, and the (supposedly non-toxic) brake dust smell did Nick in just 2 stops later.

He blurted out, “I don’t feel good…” as we rolled into the station.  Which resulted in a panicked look from the passenger sitting on the seat next to us. I jumped up and told the boys we were getting off at this stop.

As we stood at the door waiting for the train to come to a stop, Nick began heaving a little bit. Passengers parted like the Red Sea. I threw my hand over his mouth and whispered “just don’t puke until we get off the train.”

To give Nick some credit, he did wait to fully puke until the doors opened. However, he started spitting up water as we stood on the train waiting for the doors to open. He spit up all over my hand that was over his mouth…and quite close (if not on) the poor woman who had not gotten out of our way fast enough. I sheepishly mumbled “sorry” as I shoved Nick off the train, making sure his brother followed us.

As Nick fell forward to the platform on all fours (quite the drama monkey, that one), he tossed the open bottle of water he had been carrying toward me. Well, technically, he tossed it all over me. I looked like I was the last place contestant in a Hooters wet t-shirt contest, who had also wet her pants.

Hot damn, Take Your Kid to Work Day is awesome so far.

17_times_rolling_your_eyes_was_totally_acceptable__16_It didn’t take long for Nick to feel better. We hopped another train that was less crowded and did have A/C. We made it to work with no further puking incidents. I dropped them off in the conference center, and went about my day. At lunch, I joined them in our large conference room, along with the other kids and their parents.

Made of moneyThey complained because the only lunch option was turkey sandwiches. I told them after the lunch presentation, I would take them out and get them some food. Because why eat a free lunch when you can spend your mom’s hard-earned Benjamin’s, am I right?

During the lunch session, we had a medical student, physician assistant, and a dentist talk to the kids a bit about careers in each of those respective fields. The PA asked the kids “what do you think I do all day?”

Nick shouted out: “Work!”

Then the medical student asked “any of you want to share why you want to be a doctor?”

Alex blurted out: “The money!”

Even though you might think that would officially put Take Your Kid to Work Day in the win column for me, that was not the crowing achievement.

That didn’t come until the staff photographer told me about the pictures taken during the event. After looking through the album, it was then — and only then — that I knew the day was a total win for the Rice boys and their mother.

Kids to work-5

Mom, we can’t ‘stomach’ another day of learning during Summer vacation. It hurts our ‘brains’!

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Clearly, It’s a Sign

My organization is getting ready to move into a new headquarters office, consolidating the workforce into one building from two buildings. In an effort to increase collaboration and synergy, there will be far more open space workstations than individual offices.

I’m all for that. I don’t so much need an office as much as I just need the paycheck, benefits, and time away from my family a chance to enhance my professional skills.

An important element of the transition to the new space is office etiquette rules for the open space environment. And one of the tools we will use to be respectful of personal space is availability cards:

New Cube Signs

I wish I’d had that “Available” card in my 20s

Of course, one of my (very funny and snarky) colleagues covertly created this set of signs, which she thinks will be much more useful:

I think I might use more than the others

I just might use these more than the official cards

Her signs got me to thinking about what my top availability status signs might be.  And after careful introspection … here they are:

Yeah, this is more like it

Yeah, this is more like it

And perhaps this system would work well for me at home also:

No sign of dinner. Anywhere.

Yep. No sign of dinner. Especially if it is up to me to make it.


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Beck’s in the City

Editor’s Note: With apologies to my very good pal Rebecca Henigin, who is truly the real Bex in the City. Well, in our case, Bex in the ‘ville.

A couple of Fridays ago, I travelled to NYC for a conference being held at Columbia University. When I was first approached about speaking at the event and asked if February 21 would be ok, I replied rather quickly, “Sure, I’m free that day.”

That decision will go down as another one of the (unfortunately not so rare) loser mom moments of my life. It never even occurred to me that February 21 was my son’s birthday.  

I decided that since I was totally going solo on this trip, I was going to embrace the City. I was going to soak up all the NYC I could, and live like the gals from Sex and the City – for at least 24 hours, anyway. I was going to embark on an adventure of swanky meals, fabulous frocks, and amazing street scenes…

Swanky meals: Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda never seemed to cook at home. They were always trying out the most amazing spots.

For me, dressing up to eat means putting on a bra

For me, dressing up to go out to eat means putting on a bra

Since I’m a little more skanky than swanky, I was determined to eat at one of the places featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Until I heard the closest one to my hotel was at least 25 minutes away. The bellman also informed me I’d be lucky to grab a cab on a drizzly night like this. So rather than going to The Redhead, with it’s supposedly amazing homemade pretzels and beer cheese dipping sauce, I ended up at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, just around the corner from my hotel.  Their motto is “Put Some South in Yo’ Mouth”.

Tequila is from Mexico and that’s south, so this margarita counts. Right?

Definitely put all this in my mouth.

I definitely put all this in my mouth.

Fabulous frocks: The gals from Sex in the City were always so put together. Even when they weren’t put together.

This must be their casual wear

This must be their casual wear

Since my shopping radius was limited due the drizzle, this was the only place I found nearby that sort of would pass for fashion. For a hooker.

Do you have these in crotchless?

Do you have these in crotchless?

Amazing street scenes: Carrie and her friends took many strolls along the city streets, but this is my favorite street scene from the show:

Yep, this is more like me

Yep, this is more like me

The most amazing street scene for me was not in the street but actually in the subway. I’d never ridden the subway in NY. Even though I’m quite the expert at the DC Metro, the NY system is different. And that starts with the turnstiles you have to negotiate to get into the system once you’ve swiped your card.

“I’ve got this,” I thought to myself, as I swiped my card and pushed my luggage through the turnstile. And then as I tried to push myself through the turnstile, it wouldn’t budge. Because I had used my pass for my stupid-ass luggage, and not for my stupid ass.

I stood there, looking very “Carrie gets splashed by a bus” —  incredulous that this was happening to me. The evening rush hour New Yorkers barely acknowledged my plight other than to snark “you’re holding up the line.”  Since I was not about to give the city an additional $2.25 of my money to get the turnstile to move, I did what any level-headed individual would.  I crouched down on all fours and crawled on the floor, slithering to freedom.

As I whacked my head on the turnstile in my haste to get up off the floor, I was wondering if my company would pony up the bail money if I was locked up for turnstile jumping. Fortunately, no one chased me to the train platform screaming “Stop, criminal! You’re heading to jail, you scuzzy lawbreaker!”

Yes, Beck’s was in the City. But it was totally clear she belongs in the ‘burbs.


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The Bus to the ‘Burgh Is the Pitts

This past weekend, I made the trip to Pittsburgh to attend a conference for my organization.  I was exhibiting and presenting a session.  Since Pittsburgh is only about 3 hours from our house, I figured to save a little money and do right by my Association, I would leave the driving to Greyhound.

Bonus? It was opening weekend of the 2013 NFL season. We purchased tickets to the Steelers game, and my husband and sons drove up Saturday evening after a full day of their own football. After my 8:00am Sunday morning presentation, we headed to Heinz Field for the game at 1:00pm.

But back to me, damn it. And the sacrifices I made for this trip.  Sacrifices like…say…taking a Greyhound bus to Pittsburgh because it was only $25.

Why was that a sacrifice, you ask?  Because taking the bus to Pittsburgh turned out to be the pits.  Let me explain.

To start, the bus was 25 minutes late. In that 25 minutes,  I had this amazing view of downtown Frederick, MD to enjoy on a lovely day:

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Unfortunately, the view wasn’t able to take away the pain of the late bus, because I also had the visual — and in some cases audio — of all this:

  • What appeared to be the Frederick County Chapter of the Friends of RJ Reynolds gathered right outside the station door creating their own little smog factory. Did I mention the station has only one entrance? And those of us with a bladder the size of a thimble needing to use the restroom had to cough our way through the smog cloud.

    The one and only door to the train station. Before the smog cloud-producing  chain smokers arrived.

    The one and only door to the train station. Before the smog cloud-producing chain smokers arrived.

  • The girl inside the station on her bedazzled cell phone breaking up with her boyfriend. She dropped the f-bomb loudly and no fewer than 14 times in less than 2 minutes.  Yeah, like I was going to try and take a picture of her.
  • A local man showing me how he eats cowtails candies by smashing them, then rolling them up to chew them.  You don’t want to see a picture of that. Trust me.
Check out my chariot, bitches!

Check out my chariot, bitches!

The bus driver was anxious to make up time. So she was less than pleased when one of the baggage doors wouldn’t shut properly. After trying to jam it closed repeatedly — and so hard it put a noticeable dent in the door — she turned to the station manager and asked “You got a hammer?”.  Fortunately, her brawn was just the ticket, because on her next effort she broke the hinge and the door shut. I was grateful my bag went in the other baggage compartment.

Once I stepped up onto the bus, it was clear I would be sharing a seat, since some most pretty much everybody was taking up two seats by stretching out to sleep.

Can I see proof you paid for both those seats?

Can I see proof you paid for both those seats?

Feet on seat. Rude.

Feet on seat. Rude.

I took a seat next to a guy I swear was Lamar Odom (hard to believe he would leave rehab just to take a bus from Richmond to Pittsburgh, but maybe getting out of the Kardashians’ klutches was totally worth the ride).  Lamar was asleep and his long legs were encroaching on my territory, so I snapped a picture for proof.  But the picture didn’t do me any favors:

All this picture shows is that I have more hair on my legs than Lamar.

All this picture shows is that I have more hair on my legs than Lamar.  Who shaves above the knee after Labor Day, anyway?

The lady sitting across from me was also taking up more than her fair share of space.  At one point, she kicked the Gatorade bottle out of the holder and I watched her as she watched the bottle fall to the floor. And then she ignored it. But I didn’t ignore it, as it rolled across the aisle toward me. I picked up the bottle, and said “excuse me, I think you dropped this.”  Her response was to sneer and say “oh, right.”

Taking up two seats.  Wrong.  Dropping Gatorade bottle and ignoring it? Wronger.

Taking up two seats. Wrong. Dropping Gatorade bottle and ignoring it? Wronger.

Of course, then I had to go to the bathroom.  A rolling bathroom. How bad can it be, right?  Well, it was no better than a port-o-potty.  The wretched smell and sloshing of what was in the pot was enough to help me set the land speed record for use of mobile facilities.  To top it off, there was no sink — just a bottle of hand sanitizer attached to the wall.  Once I was done, I whimpered my way back to my seat.

Figuring it was best to tune out at this point, I decided use my iPhone iHeart radio app with my earphones. Unfortunately, the mountainous terrain we were passing through pretty much resulted in me checking my iPhone every 30 seconds, only to see this:

Why, yes, I am going crazy because of the @#$%ing buffering.

Why, yes, I am going crazy because of the @#$%ing buffering.

Why it didn’t buffer during the @#$%ing commercials, I just didn’t understand.  The buffering also sucked the life out of my iPhone (and so did all the Instagram pictures and Facebook updates while I was at the train station, truth be told).  I ended up pulling out my laptop, hanging it in the Gatorade holder, and charging my phone that way. I only prayed Lamar didn’t have to get up to use the bathroom which would ruin my elaborate electronics set up.

My very complicated iPhone charging system.

My very complicated iPhone charging system.

About an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh, we made a stop at a rest area. With indoor plumbing. Which made my use of the rolling rest stop all that more soul-sucking, since I didn’t know we were making a stop.

The driver gave us these instructions:

  • Do not smoke near the door of the coach.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to get in line for food.
  • You are responsible for watching the time during the 15 minute stop.
  • And she ended with: I will not come searching for you. We are all grown.

Lamar and I looked at each other and nodded in agreement.

During the stop, there was one lady who must have thought she was on an airplane. Because girlfriend brought her own pair of flotation devices.  I only know that because they were pretty much hanging out of the cut-down-to-her-navel neckline of her shirt. Didn’t get a picture of that either. Sorry, pervs.

After the rest stop, it was a pretty uneventful hour and a half ride until we arrived in Pittsburgh.  Once I retrieved my bag from the undamaged compartment, I made a bee-line for my hotel. It was only two blocks away. Once I checked in and dropped my crap off in the room, I then made a bee-line for the pub across the street, where they have a $6 martini special until midnight every Friday.

This is gonna ease the pain

This is gonna ease the pain. Well, three of them ended up helping to ease the pain.

Yep, the martinis were just what I needed.  Until the next day, when I saw that my exhibit was not in the hotel, but at the University of Pittsburgh.  However, the conference organizers were kind enough to provide a bus to get us to campus.

The driver of this bus was smoking a cigar.  Bus driver chicks are so bad ass.

The driver of this bus was smoking a cigar. Chick bus drivers are so bad ass.

Yep. Taking the bus to the ‘Burgh is the Pitts.


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Is There a Doctor in the House?

This year, my company participated in Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work day.  Given that my employer is an association for the medical community, the theme was Aspiring Docs.  That’s right boys, let’s use those brains for something other than memorizing 45 different football plays (sorry Coach Dell) or masterminding Candy Crush.

My employer had great activities for them all morning — they heard about what it’s like to be a doctor from an actual doctor.  About which my son Nick shared with me later, “it just sounds like a lot of school if you ask me.”

They saw a model of our new office building that we will move into in 2014, and got to create their own model out of copy paper boxes, construction paper, glue, stickers, post-its and markers.  My boys’ creation won for Most Realistic! depiction of our new building.  It’s probably because they had made mom’s desk as disorganized as the kitchen table at home, which is —  as their dad puts it — “so covered with your mom’s baking crap I don’t even remember what color it is any more“.

They had their picture taken wearing a lab coat and stethoscope, while standing next to a skeleton.

Paging Doctor Alex Rice

Paging Doctor Alex Rice

Of course, Nick’s darting eyes make me wonder what he did to the skeleton once the picture session was over.

Paging Doctor Nick Rice

Keep your hands to yourself, kid

Finally, they were given a “match letter”, letting them know what their residency specialty would be and how much they would probably make.  Alex “matched” at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, as an Emergency Physician, who would make between $239,000 and $316,296 per year.  His response to that was “it’s a lot, but it’s not as much I’ll be making in the NFL.”

Congrats - you've earned a boatload of medical school debt!

Congrats – you’ve earned a boatload of medical school debt!

Nick’s match was in Orthopedic Surgery at Duke University Hospital in Durham. He found this incredulous because “We hate the Blue Devils because they suck. Terrapins rule. Why would they give me Duke. This is stupid.”  He wasn’t even swayed by the potential $397,879 – $600,000 salary, other than to say it was “way more than Alex will make. Ha!”

Why can't I be a Terrapin?

Why can’t I be a Terrapin?

They thought the coolest thing about the area I work in was this:

Mom works at the CIA?  No.  FBI?  No.  Secret Service?  No. Well, whatever, then.

Mom works at the CIA?
No.
FBI?
No.
Secret Service?
No.
Well, whatever, then.

Alex was so beat from getting up at 5:30 in the morning, that after lunch he found some bubble wrap and fashioned himself a pillow. He laid down on the floor of the office I share with a co-worker and went to sleep. Good thing my co-worker was out at a meeting most of the afternoon.  I could tell Nick was tired because he sat quietly (!) and read (!!) a book (!!!) with more words than pictures (!!!!).

So, I think the biggest lesson learned was that when mom gets up at the ass crack of dawn to trek down to DC and then slug home again in the afternoon, we need to show her some props/love/respect because that’s what pays for all the sports equipment, DS games, iPods, summer camps and (ridiculously overpriced) authentic NFL/NHL/MLB/NBA gear they want.

And at the end of the day, having them come to that conclusion is really the best medicine.


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Unleashing My Inner Artist

My paternal grandmother Merrie Pender Childrey Himmelheber was a woman well ahead of her time.  She was an amazing artist who went to college to perfect her craft, graduating from George Washington University in 1930 (!) with a degree in Fine Arts.

She got married and raised 5 children. But she continued to sketch, draw and paint for nearly 70 years.  She was a devout Baptist – a charter member of not one, but two churches.  She never got her driver’s license; my grandfather drove her where she needed to go. When he passed away in 1983, she wasn’t a recluse – she started walking everywhere she needed to go if she wasn’t able to catch a ride.

She exercised every day well into her 80s, on a little trampoline she purchased. Also in her 80s, she took a trip to Europe with her church group.  She painted many landscapes from the pictures she took while on that trip. Water colors ended up being her specialty. I have them everywhere in my house.

She had a terrific sense of humor and told amazing stories, mostly about my father’s shenanigans as a young boy. My father’s shenanigans and silliness continue to this day.

My grandmother passed away March 28, 2009. It was about 5 months after she had celebrated her 100th birthday with a big community party, surrounded by family, friends and a few (not-yet-disgraced) local political dignitaries.

I would like to think that I got an iota of her amazing artistic talent, manifesting itself through my cake, cupcake and cookie decorating.

Or maybe it’s through the decorative art I create for our house. Like the artwork in our family room:

Or fun projects for Halloween decorations:

Or artwork I make for the Christmas holidays:

This past Wednesday, my sister posted this photo to Facebook. It was a few of the sketches my grandmother had done while in college.  My sister had just gotten them back from the framer.

Two nudes - well, the female model is nude. The male model wore a cod piece. Coward.

Two nudes. Well, the female model is nude. The male model wore a cod piece. Coward.

It was interesting that she posted the photos that day because my new professional colleagues and I were attending a team building activity at a place called Brush N Blush.  As a group, you select a painting, and then an artist walks your group through painting the picture. You drink a little wine, paint and have a good time exploring everyone’s talent. Or proclaimed lack thereof.

Many of us were very worried about this activity. I know my artistic talents are limited to baked goods and copying art projects I see on HGTV. Others felt they had no talent at all and were totally out of their comfort zone.

This is the painting our group did:

After Five

After Five

We all had a good time relaxing, painting and checking out each other’s progress.  Up close, you see all that’s wrong with your painting. You can’t see the full vision, even though the instructor keeps encouraging you. Here’s my work halfway done:

My wine glass definitely should be bigger

My wine glass definitely should be bigger

The instructor heard all of us complaining about how we lacked talent, it looked nothing like the sample and was there a prize for worst interpretation.  So for each of us (and there were 20+ in our group), she either picked the canvas up and walked a distance away, or forced us to get up and move away from the canvas. And an amazing thing happened….

Um. Wow.

My finished work. Um. Wow.

Taking a step back and assessing the work from a distance gave us a greater appreciation for its beauty. We didn’t see all the imperfections and flaws; just how wonderfully everything came together for our own unique rendering.

At the end of the day, that’s pretty good advice  for all of us. Take a step back — make sure you are seeing the whole picture — that you aren’t focusing just on the faults. And you will begin to appreciate the beauty of any situation.


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I’m Back in the Saddle Again

After 7 months of searching for a new professional opportunity due to a layoff, I am pleased to report I have received a job offer.  Or, as my husband pronounces job offer — excuse to get off your loafin’ ass and bring home some of that bacon you are so fond of.

To prep the kids and my bacon-loving husband, I’ve compiled a list of guidelines to help get us back in the two working parents routine.  I’m going to tape a copy of the list to the frig, the Xbox, above every toilet, the screen of the computer and wrap the iPod in it to make sure the men in my house see it.

Places I won’t put it because it would never be seen?  The front of the washing machine or the dish washer, the handle of the vaccuum, any dish towel, the dog’s leash, the oven or any of the cleaning supplies.

So, without further ado, here is the reminder list for the boys. And ‘boys’ includes any male in the home, including those who also go by the name ‘dad”:

  • Mom is not a synonym for the phrase ‘pick up after you‘.
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with Pringles do so constitute a well thought out dinner.
  • Ditto for cheese and crackers.
  • If you don’t believe me, then just make your own damn dinner.
  • Mom watching Project Runway trumps watching any sports game on TV.
  • Ditto for Top Chef, My Life on the D-List, and Hoarders.
  • Flushing toilets is not optional each time.
  • Picking up the dog poop in the backyard is how you will earn your Benjamin’s.  But let’s start with the Washingtons and we’ll work our way up, shall we?
  • The dishwasher can not magically load and unload itself.
  • Ditto for the washing machine and dryer.
  • Double ditto for empty baskets awaiting dirty laundry; and baskets of clean laundry.
  • The end of the banister is not for hanging jackets, hats, winter coats, scarves, bookbags, dirty socks, candy wrappers, gloves, the dog’s leash, and shirts that need to go to the dry cleaner.
  • Ditto for the chair in the foyer.
  • I bought those damn mats for wiping your feet when you come through the door, not for jumping over so that your muddy feet get on the hardwood.
  • Ditto for your paws, Mocha.
  • Vodka is mom juice, so just stop harping on me, ok?
  • Mom requires more than 12 hours notice if you need baked goods for a school or office function.
  • Mom may opt for store-bought goods even with 12 hours notice.
  • ‘Up yours’ is a perfectly fine retort to use in our house for anyone over the age of 21, who is given less than 12 hours notice for anything.
  • If there’s a problem, the school nurse should call dad’s cell phone first.
  • Ditto for the school principal.
  • Double ditto if you are making the one phone call you are legally entitled to. From jail and/or juvie.
I need this for every room in my house

I need this for every room in my house