A Side of Rice

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


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Fifty Shades of Family

The thing about family is that they make you laugh, they drive you crazy, you love them, they surprise you, they frustrate the hell out of you, and we argue with them. And sometimes that’s all in one visit.

This Christmas, we were able to get the whole family together. That’s not an easy task, given that one of my sisters is a flight attendant who lives in Chicago. Another sister lives with her family in Toronto.

One of the reasons we were all together is because this couple…

…was celebrating 50 years of marriage. Five-Oh, people. My parents were having a big party on the actual date of their wedding anniversary over the holiday, and all of their kids and grandkids were going to be part of it.

But in the week leading up to the celebration, Christmas turned out to be a little less than merry. On Christmas day — for some reason — the topic if Ferguson came up as we were sitting around waiting to eat dinner. My dad started to make some bigoted commentary, with my 12 year old son in earshot.

My dad once walked out of a restaurant in DC in the 1960’s when management refused to serve his party because they had a black person with them. My dad — when I was about 10 or so — yelled at me (so that my teammates and coach could hear)  “you get your ass off of that glove and share it with one of those girls”. This was just after my softball coach had told us to sit on our gloves instead of sharing them with the girls from the very under-equipped (and all black) team we were playing against.

So how did he get from that to where he was headed now?

Once his rant started down the cringe-inducing path, I cut him right off. I wish I could tell you my ensuing tirade was alcohol-laced eggnog fueled, or that I had eaten so many rum balls, I was in no shape to drive home. But I was stone cold sober.

I jumped up out of my chair, snarled at my dad about the fact that I was sick of this bigoted crap. The barking spewed forth from me for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably no more than 15 or 30 seconds.

And this was pretty much the look I got from my three sisters, mother, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and son:

Damn! Bitch be trippin'.

Damn! Bitch be trippin’.

I hurried out of the room in tears after I was done. And now EVERYONE was super uncomfortable, especially my mom. So after I calmed down, I went to the kitchen. I did not apologize to my mom for feeling the way I did and expressing it. I did apologize for the way in which I expressed it, for losing my cool, and for making everyone uncomfortable.

Because when did it change?  When did things go from shades of grey to black vs. white for my dad?

On the way home in the car I asked my son “So, did I pretty much lose my shit tonight?”

“Oh yeah, mom,” he responded. “You totally lost your shit.”

Which made me feel like I could have contributed multiple chapters to this book:

Yep.

Yep.

A week later, we were all gathered for my parents’ 50th anniversary party. It was a lovely evening, surrounded by family and many of their friends:

Dad got up to give a brief speech. He thanked everyone for joining the celebration. He asked the couples in the room who had recently reached the 50 year anniversary milestone to stand up. There were a number of couples who did so.

My dad went on: “50?  Well that’s nothing, folks.” And then he totally got choked up and had to pause a moment and gather himself. Which never happens to him. Once he collected himself, he was able to share with everyone in attendance, “I’d like to introduce you to our good friends from church, the Hollys. They have been married 75 years.”  He even went on to share some stories about funny conversations he and Mr. Holly have had. Everyone cheered and clapped for the Hollys.

The amazing Joseph and Elizabeth Holly

The amazing Joseph and Elizabeth Holly, who got quite the ovation from the party-goers.

For a moment, I was reminded that my dad could stop seeing things as black vs. white.

And I’m grateful that all those years ago, he taught his kids to see beyond the black vs. white.


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Photo Bombs

Every year, it’s the same thing. I get a shitload of grief about the holiday pictures I like to take and include in the gazillion Christmas Cards I send out.

When the boys were younger, we headed to JC Penney for a massive migraine-inducing photo session, exacerbated by 1) the behavior of very young boys who wouldn’t sit still for photos, 2) the snarking of the husband about how long it took me to pick photos, and 3) the cashier telling me how much I owed for the photos.

A year ago, I decided to take my own photos and pay Walmart to make the prints for a fraction of the cost, at a fraction of the wait time, at a fraction of the migraine.  That turned out pretty well, except for the fact that photo pick up is the same place as ship-to-store pick up. And Walmart only puts one cashier at that checkout.

The other downside is my husband barks about having to put the tree up so early, so I can use that as the background in my photos. Just drag the damn tree up from the basement already, Grinch-o.

This year Nick was up first, but he’s a difficult picture taker when it’s posed. And here’s the proof of that:

But then I got the money shot:

IMG_9012A

Of course, I had to crop his hands out, which were stuck in his pockets:

IMG_9012

Alex is a great picture taker, so it only took three attempts to get his:

IMG_9010

Good

IMG_9009

Better

IMG_9011

Best

A picture of the two of them is always such a delight to pull together. Because with two pre-teen boys there’s absolutely no fooling around, or forgetting to smile, of course:

It only took 2 ibuprofen to get two good shots, although you see what I mean by Nick and his posed expressions. But I love the impish look in the second picture and I couldn’t resist ordering it:

IMG_9014AIMG_9016A

For the record, the best picture taker of the day was Mocha and I don’t even get prints made of her:

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One and done, bitches

One final insult…when I placed my order, I messed up. I ordered double the number of wallets of each pose that I needed, because I obviously suck a basic math. So, everyone gets two Rice poses in their card this year.

But at least I only use a fraction of the ibuprofen I used to.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 


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Picture Perfect

For the past 11  years — with the exception of 2012 — I have dragged the kids and husband joyfully planned a trip to a professional photography studio to get the annual Christmas photos of the kids.

I do this because I tuck wallet size copies into each of the 140+ Christmas cards I mail each year. I always receive compliments on how nice the photos turn out. Unfortunately, the compliments never outnumber the total times my husband reminds me that “Stamps aren’t free, for fuck’s sake. Can’t you just send e-mails?”

I must admit that the photos have turned out marvelously each year. If only family and friends could see the back story of how we get to ‘cheerful holiday grins’ from ‘DEF-CON level 1’.

Imagine if you will:

  • Two boys, who as they have grown older, prefer not to touch each other, lean toward one another, or behave nicely toward one another as the photographer is trying to pose them.
  • A mom who bribes her children with the promise of milkshakes at Red Robin if they will just sit still for one freakin’ minute so we can get the damn picture already.
  • A wife who bribes her husband with the promise of unlimited sports watching for the remainder of the weekend if he will just clam the ‘ef up already about how much he hates doing the pictures each year.
  • A husband who mutters under his breath so that his wife can’t understand what he is saying, but she knows for sure (based on his tone) how much he hates the whole production. Note that the clarity of the muttering tends to increase sporadically so that words and phrases like “stupid”, “waste of time”, “missing the game”, and “not worth it” are what his wife does hear.
  • Making the JC Penney Portrait Studios staff and customers there for holiday photos completely uncomfortable as the mom does not mutter — but snaps at her husband very clearly — “Jesus Christ! I’m not asking you to lop off a nut. I only do this once a year. Stop being such a damn Grinch.”

To avoid DEF-CON 1 this year, I decided I would take the photo myself. I ordered wallets for pick-up at a local discount store that promised photos from online orders in an hour.

And here’s how the do-it-myself photo shoot improved things:

  • Realizing that just because we aren’t being watched carefully by store security, we still have two boys, who as they have grown older, prefer not to touch each other, lean toward one another, or behave nicely toward one another as the photographer is trying to pose them.
  • A mom who barks at — and is no longer willing to bribe — her kids to just sit still for one freakin’ minute so we can get the damn picture already.
  • A wife who bribes her husband with the promise of unlimited sports watching for the remainder of the weekend if he will just clam the ‘ef up already about how much he hates having to put the tree up earlier than usual so that his wife can take the picture herself.
  • A husband who mutters under his breath so that his wife can’t understand what he is saying, but she knows for sure (based on his tone) how much he hates the whole production. Note that the clarity of the muttering tends to increase sporadically so that the words and phrases “stupid”, “waste of time”, “better be cheaper”, and “not worth it” are what his wife does hear.
  • Making the staff at Walmart Photo Center pick up line completely uncomfortable as the mom does not mutter — but enunciates very clearly — “Jesus Christ! I’m not asking you to lop off a nut. I just need you to save my place in line while I go get some gingerbread M&Ms. Stop being such a damn Grinch.”

Here are the fruits of my photography labors. Happy Holidays, readers!


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Rice with a Side of Mocha

We had lost our family pet back in May, after 12 wonderful years with her.  Our boys had recently been talking about getting another dog, and my husband and I decided we would do just that. It would be a surprise Christmas gift for the boys.

Last Sunday, we told Alex and Nick we were going to Bed Bath and Beyond because I had some things to pick up.  Oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth that commenced.  “Geez!”, Alex cried out.  “Do we have to go? Mom takes FORever in that store. She looks at EVERYthing — some things more than once.  It takes her HOURS to make a decision about what to buy. And it’s filled with boring stuff like kitchen crap.  Cookie and cake pans — like, who cares?”.  Nick offered this succinct suggestion, “Can us boys go next door to Sports Authority with dad instead, because Bed Bath and Beyond is stupid for kids”.

As we pulled into the parking lot that morning, I said “Boys, we have a surprise for you. We’re not going to Bed Bath and Beyond.  We are going next door to PetSmart because they are having a dog adoption event.”  There were whoops of happiness from the backseat as we parked the minivan.  I can’t be sure — were they more excited we were getting a dog, or that they weren’t going to be dragged into Bed Bath and Beyond?

We ended up selecting a 10 month old female chocolate lab, whose name was Galaxy.  Our first order of business — after dropping a bunch of money at PetSmart — was to rename our new dog.  Later that evening after careful consideration and a number of helpful outbursts from my husband like “holy crap, that’s a ridiculous name for a dog”, Alex came up with the name Mocha.

However, after a week of living with the not-yet adult dog, it is clear we could have come up with names that are more clever than another name for chocolate. And a more appropriate description of her behavior. Here’s my list of suggestions:

  • Get that out of your mouth
  • Get off the couch
  • Husband: "No way is this dog getting up on the couch."   How's that working out for ya, honey?

    Husband: “No way is this dog getting up on the couch.” How’s that working out for ya, honey?

  • Stop licking yourself there
  • Stop licking yourself there while you are on the couch
  • Socks are not chew toys
  • Christmas decorations are not chew toys
  • Shoes are not chew toys
  • I am not a chew toy
  • Why can’t you chew that ugly “disco snowman” decoration we got from our in-laws?
  • Drop it
  • DROP IT
  • DROP IT, DAMN IT
  • People food is not for dogs
  • She must be a chocolate lab, based on her interest in the ice cream all over Alex's face

    She must be a chocolate lab, based on her interest in the ice cream all over Alex’s face

  • Paws off the counter
  • Paws and snout off the counter
  • Get your snout out of the pizza on the counter!
  • Just move the cheese around and give that slice to dad since he didn’t see anything
  • Get off the bed
  • THIS is your bed.  Not the one I sleep in.

    THIS is your bed. I don’t want to share mine.

  • Get off my side of the bed
  • Get off my side of the bed if you are going to lick yourself there
  • Get the hell off my side of the bed if you are going to lick yourself there at 4:00am
  • Bring me paper towels
  • Bring me the carpet cleaner
  • This one’s a doozy…bring me the wet vac
  • Go outside and play with Luna – wear yourself out
  • Mocha and Luna have become fast fence friends

    Mocha and Luna have become fast fence friends

  • Who destroyed this baseball?
  • Who destroyed this frisbee?
  • Who’s brilliant idea was it to get a dog?
Welcome home Mocha

Welcome home Mocha

Thanks to Lab Rescue for our wonderful new family member, Mocha.


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I Present My Case for Getting Off…

(…the Naughty List, you dirty-minded Shades of Greyers.)

This year, Santa isn’t going to be as generous as in years past.  With me laid off in April and still searching for full time permanent work, we have been doing the annoying right thing, and cutting back on expenses.

To add insult to injury, if the Nation goes careening off the “fiscal cliff”, any extension to my unemployment benefits will be voided since they are up in about 3 weeks. In related news, Vodka sales in the Frederick area may skyrocket at precisely the same time if there’s a cliff-tastic end to our Nation’s fiscal situation.

In spite of the fact that it’s been a tough year for me, I’ve been doing my damndest … er … darnedest to get off that fuc…um…freakin’ Naughty List that perpetually haunts my ass. I mean butt. Shit, I can’t stop the cussing, so I already know I’ve got that against me.

Regardless, I’m going to present my case for removal from the Naughty List. At the end, you can vote as to whether or not those mother ‘effer elves should cross me off the Naughty List. So here goes nothin’:

My Exhibit A: This year, because I was laid off and had a butt-load of free time, I made cookies, brownies and cupcakes for my oldest son’s Travel and All Star baseball games, including tournaments. Every game. All 34 of them. I fed players, coaches and family members. I even brought Skittles for the kid with food allergies who couldn’t eat cookies. Each game, I baked more than 60+ homemade goodies. Conservatively (in dessert estimates, not politics), that’s over 2,040 cookies/brownies/cupcakes between March and July. And 34 bags of Skittles.
Stupid ‘Effing Elf Rebuttal: Hey Becky Crocker, you know you have 2 sons, right? Did ya think of making cookies for your other son, who didn’t make either the Travel or the All Star teams for his age group, but still played his little (mommy-loves-me-less) heart out on his recreational baseball team? Yeah, we didn’t think so. See if the Wizard has an extra heart for you, Tin Mom.

Santa already knows

Santa already knows what I like

My Exhibit B: I dropped 7 pounds!
Stupid ‘Effing Elf Rebuttal:  It’s not like you embraced a lifestyle change of a more well-balanced and thoughtful diet, along with adding an impressive exercise regimine.  You got the flu and couldn’t stomach anything for 4 days, combined with the stress of being laid off.  An iffy personal transformation, at best.

Wait - the poll comes later!

Wait – the poll comes later!

My Exhibit C: I offered to volunteer my services at local nonprofits on a part-time basis, until I found a full time job.
Stupid ‘Effing Elf Rebuttal: Volunteering your services is not the same as actually doing the volunteer work. No one responded to your offers. And if you think volunteering your time and pantry supplies to create over 2,000 cookies counts…then, please see our rebuttal to Exhibit A, you moron.

It's my mantra, people

It’s my mantra, people

My Exhibit D: I took the boys to every football practice (but 2) this year. That’s Monday through Thursday from 6:00pm – 8:00pm, and 9:00am – noon on select Saturdays from the end of July until school starts. Then Tuesdays and Thursdays once school starts and the games begin. This goes on until the first week of November. In years past, my husband has done this. But being out of work, it made more sense for me to be the one to spend the evenings at the field, sweating my ass off (July – September), and then freezing it off (October – November).
Stupid ‘Effing Elf Rebuttal: Really? OK, sticking your face in your iPhone to 1) try out fun new stations on iHeart radio, 2) improve your ‘Mad Skillz’ at Bejeweled Blitz/Scramble/Words with Friends, 3) tweet your displeasure about being at the football field, 4) create an Instagram account and upload a bunch of photos, and 5) catch up on your friends’ activities on Facebook isn’t exactly paying attention at your boys’ football practices. And “being there” when it got cold does not consist of telling your kids “The hell with this, I’m going to sit in the car and stay warm. You remember where we parked, right?”. Next.

Was there any doubt?

Was there any doubt?

My Exhibit E: I was pretty much the chief party planner for my mom’s 70th birthday party.  I took care of the guest list, designed, printed and mailed the invitations to more than 60 invited guests. And I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who paid for anything out of pocket. Pretty generous considering I was the only one of my 3 sisters unemployed at the time — and two of them had just gotten promotions!
Stupid ‘Effing Elf Rebuttal:  You may have spent some money on printable cards and stamps, but do you you remember the considerable family implosion you caused?  Your sister, her husband and their 3 kids flew in from Canada.  Your other sister from Chicago cleared her schedule for a long weekend.  And your youngest sister helped your mom prepare the house for the party, with a husband and two kids in tow.  Remember how your son’s football game was rescheduled at the same time as your mom’s party?  And since both events took place at the same time — but 3 hours away from one another — at first you agreed that your husband and oldest son could stay at home to go to the game and you would bring the cookie-deprived younger son to your parents’ home for the festivities.  Do you seriously not remember the ginormous pile of shit you stirred up with that? And how uncomfortable it was when you sobbed at your husband that it was very important that everyone in your family attend, even if it meant the oldest son had to miss a game?  And how you had to beg the coach at the end of practice to let Alex miss this one game for the milestone birthday your mother was celebrating?  Yeah, we wish we could erase the whole nasty situation from our memories, but it is permanently etched into the Naughty List Hall of Shame. Congrats.

So now that you’ve heard all the evidence, it’s time for you readers to render a verdict.  Be kind.

If you can’t be kind, then you and the elves can both suck it.


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Lost in Translation

Each year, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is reserved for Christmas decorating at our house. My husband knows this, mumbles his disapproval, and begrudingly hauls the Christmas decorations upstairs from the basement.  This includes our (fake) pre-lit tree parts that he needs to put together, as well as a multitude of storage tubs filled with — according to the resident Grinch — “a bunch of shit that just clutters up the house, that I have to haul back downstairs 7 weeks later”.

This year, we spent our Saturday washing clothes from our trip to we-might-as-well-be-in-Kentucky-for-how-long-we-were-in-a-car-together (otherwise known as my father-in-law’s current home – Charleston, WV).  Because of my current lack-of-a-job situation, my husband and I didn’t drop the kids off at the grandparent’s house and get ourselves a hotel room, like we have in years past.  And as an extra bonus, it turns out my father-in-law’s wife is now smoking in their house — all four Rices and everything we had with us came home reeking of stale cigarettes.

(If I’m still unemployed at Thanksgiving next year, I’m totally pimping myself out to earn the hotel money.  I’ll be the girl near the entrance to the local Denny’s, propositioning horny hungry customers with “Can I interest you in a more satisfying Grand Slam today?”. I’ll be wrapped in tinsel garland so that my husband doesn’t have to drag it back down to the basement between Christmases. Because it will probably take me a whole year of whorin’ out to earn the hotel money.)

So, after a tough Saturday of watching me wash, dry and fold laundry, I casually mentioned to my husband “Do you think you could get the Christmas stuff upstairs so I can start decorating the tree?”

And true to his Grinchian nature, he dragged a bunch of stuff — but not everything — upstairs.  And plopped it right in the middle of the family room.  And that’s where it has been sitting since Saturday.

Oh. Christmas Tree.

Last night, just before Monday Night Football got underway, I asked if he could put the tree together so that we could decorate it Tuesday night. And he responded with “Well, if you wanted to put the Christmas tree up, why didn’t  you just ask me to put it together on Saturday?”

Um…in the dictionary according to Venus, I’m pretty sure “…so I can start decorating the tree.” is synonymous with “please put it together”.  But, then, I’m not fluent in Martian.

Learning Martian sucks.


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Sing Along If You Know the Words

It’s the holiday season. And while your family may enjoy belting out the classic holiday jingles, here’s a list of songs* we sing in the Rice household.

  • Aunt Clarice is Coming to Town, So Let’s Flip a Coin to See Who Has to Put That Crazy Bitch Up
  • Oh, Christmas Tree. You Would Understand Why I Thought You Said Christmas Plea Since We Were Talking About My Ex
  • It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like I’m Going to Overdraw the Checking Account
  • Uncle Sal, the Red Nosed Sot
  • All I Want for Christmas Is Two Fucking Minutes to Myself
  • (I’m Gonna) Deck the Halls with Your Damn Dirty Underwear If You Don’t Start Putting It in the Hamper
  • You Are Not Roasting Your Brother’s DS Over an Open Fire, Unless You Want a Massive Time Out
  • Frosty the Mother-in-Law
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Hangover
  • As If There Will Ever Be a Silent Night Around Here
  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year … If You Define Wonderful As Having In-Laws Up Your Ass
  • My Kid Is Now the Little Drummer Boy Thanks to Aunt Martha’s Gift (Paybacks Are Hell, Aunt Martha)
  • The Twelve Lights of Christmas That Are Causing the Whole Damn Strand to Malfunction
  • Do You Hear What I Hear? The Boys Are Fighting Over the xBox Again

* – Some names may have been changed to protect the guilty relatives friends innocent.


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Christmas Card Palooza

Every year it’s the same old routine when it comes to year-end holiday hoopla. It starts with me taking every Friday off in the month of December so I can bake, shop, mail, pedicure, manicure and all the other traditional holiday activities.

The first Friday I am off, I prepare and mail out about 140 Christmas cards. Nope, that’s not a typo – 140. And just so you know how OCD I am about it, here is a visual – complete with a handy guide.

Christmas Card Table

  1. Table purchased at Costco for yard sale that we never had. Now converts easily to Christmas card assembly/prep station, so it really wasn’t a waste of money.
  2. Large size iced tea from Burger King. Gotta pump my body full of caffeine to keep the fa la la la la going at full steam. Wish it was a big glass of Esprussian (special concoction of coffee and Kaluha), but if I’ve gotta pick up the kids later, I need to be able to pass the field sobriety test.
  3. “Aw” inspiring wallet size picture of Alex and Nick, Christmas pose #1
  4. Ibid, Christmas pose #2
  5. Ibid, Christmas pose #3
  6. Ibid, Christmas pose #4
  7. Less “aw” inspiring wallet size picture of Alex and Nick, pose #5 in Steelers jerseys
  8. Oops…still need to mail the renewal to National Geographic magazine. And payment for that photo enforcement fine my husband got for speeding in the work zone.
  9. Stack of holiday cards stuffed and addressed. Damn, I know a lot of people with the last name A though E
  10. Variety of holiday cards to choose from so that I can mix it up. Includes one card that doesn’t mention the word Christmas or have any holly, trees, red/green, wreathes, Santas, stockings, reindeer, etc., that will be sent to non-celebrating and mixed religion households
  11. Red and green Sharpies to address the outer envelope. Blue one in there also, for same reason as above.
  12. Bag of trash for envelopes I screw up, metalic pen explosions that result in the ruination of a Christmas card, edges of pictures I cut off and about 16 Reece’s peanut butter cup wrappers. Hey, a girl’s gotta start the day with a good breakfast, right?
  13. The most recently addressed Christmas card, all ready to add to item #9
  14. Silver and gold metallic markers for writing the personalized holiday greeting on the inside of each card.
  15. Envelope seals, in a variety of shapes, colors, holiday sentiments. Desparately try to match them to the card style, but not always successful.
  16. Ha! I’ve been looking for that Target receipt with instructions for online survey and a chance to win a $5,000 shopping spree.
  17. Tape for the “picture frame” cards so that the wallet-size photos fit in the $%!*-ing 4″ x 6″ space. Make mental note to read fine print on package more carefully next year when buying cards that frame pictures.
  18. Return address labels, in a variety of styles and colors. Including the generic snowflake version so as not to offend the non-Christmas celebrators.
  19. Address list of all those who receive a card, including spouse/partner names and kids.
  20. Box that holds the forever holiday stamps, and the 4 stamps needed for Canadian recipients. Additional metallic pens in case I run out or have another unfortunate “explosion” incident. Additional Sharpies for envelope addressing (red gave out awful early this year!)
  21. Storage container (out of picture, but within arm’s reach) with the 20 extra boxes of holiday cards once I begin running out of the first team (see item #10).
  22. Holiday stationary to print the barf-inducing “here’s how wonderful our life was this year” update that gets stuffed in (most) cards.

If you think this is bad, you should see how I spend the second Friday of December….