A Side of Rice

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

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Summer Job Board for Teenagers

The other day, I was browsing through the time suck that is Pinterest…or was it the time suck that is Facebook? Either way, my time was sucked.

I came across this image of (to be read in your most cheerful, sing-songy voice) a clever way to get your kids to help out with chores all Summer:


Which made me do this:


And not because I was stoned. Or because Kelso said something funny.

It was because I have teenagers. Teenage boys, to be specific. Their idea of a Summer “chore” is having to make their own lunch by ripping into a box of Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. Or scooping out the proper number of cups from a box of potato flakes so they can (fake) carb load for lunch.

But the image got me thinking about my ideal Summer job board for my teenage sons. Here it is:


And when it comes to “Mom’s Choice”, this is how I roll:

Moms Choice

Got some great ideas for chores? Create your own job board stickies here.

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Some Ground Rules for Summer Vacation

The beginning of the kids’ summer vacation happens to coincide with the week of my husband’s annual golfing vacation with his dad and brothers. How convenient is that for everyone…other than me?

So in order to give myself a little more convenience, I have decided to institute the following rules after only one day into the decidedly too-short break from someone else  watching my kids school.

Rule #1: When you are asked to clean the lint out of the dryer before the next load goes in, the lint goes one place. And that place is not on top of the dryer you were just asked to clean it out of.  By not putting lint in the trashcan, you have just moved the potential fire hazard from inside the dryer to on top of the dryer. Gross. And no.IMG_1425

Rule #2: When you are asked to help with the laundry (and once you have the whole lint thing figured out), “taking care of it” does not mean shoving the clean clothes into baskets and dropping them in the middle of the family room floor as you race back to the to play on your iPad. While I’m thrilled you can kick ass at whatever game you are playing or that you can delight in watching inappropriate videos/Vines, I would much rather have you take pride in kicking ass at folding laundry and putting it away. IMG_1427

Rule #3: We don’t need to pull out every cooler we own to figure out which one to use when we go to the pool. And once we do decide which cooler to use, we need to put away all the others before mom cracks her toe on one of them because she couldn’t see it, from carrying the last basket of clean clothes you ‘forgot about’ and left in the laundry room.IMG_1424

Rule #4: We don’t leave our size 12 canoes slides near the dogs’ dishes. Unless, of course, you like chasing Mocha and Jake in the backyard when they grab one and decide a game of keep away from the owner is the funnest damn thing ever. Which IT IS NOT.IMG_1426

Rule #5: This is a double whammy because backpacks taste like rawhide to dogs AND they cause quite the stumbling hazard for moms with that laundry basket you ‘forgot about’. Pick yours up from the middle of the floor and put it out-of-sight. Make sure it’s somewhere you won’t remember, so we can freak out the night before school starts in the fall, yelling at each other in a total panic about whose fault it is no one can remember where the #$%&-ing backpack was put for safe keeping just 9 weeks earlier.IMG_1428

Rule #6: All that shit that was in your backpack? It does not belong in the foyer. Or the floor of the foyer. Or my dining room table, the kitchen table, shoved in your closet, behind a dresser, or any other location you deem appropriate. It belongs in the trash. Because I don’t scrapbook, so just get rid of it.


Rule #7: While I’m always excited about the prospect for new decorating ideas on the mantle in the family room, empty chocolate milk glasses ARE NOT DECORATION. They leave marks. They smell bad. They are tough to get clean once the milk and chocolate mixture has time to set. We can avoid all this by you putting it in the dishwasher the millisecond you are done drinking it. Or I can just stop buying chocolate syrup for milk altogether. Your choice.IMG_1431

Rule #8: iPads can be stored in a number of places. The recliner that the dog likes to jump on and sit in is not one of them.  You are tempting fate.


Rule #8.5: If rule #8 is not adhered to and the dog does decide to jump in the recliner, breaking/ruining/scratching or otherwise rendering your iPad useless, it will not be replaced. And no, I will not download all those apps to my phone so you can use that instead.

I’m probably too busy cleaning lint off the top of the dryer to download apps, anyway.


Getting Carded

Each Summer, my husband and his two brothers’ families get together so we can celebrate our kids’ birthdays.  Even though the kids’ birthdays are spread throughout the year, we gather in the Summer when their grandad and granny Lori make the 5 hour trip from Charleston, WV for one of their two visits each year.

We head to the community pool my brother-in-law and his family belong to, have a cookout, eat crabs, and celebrate with ice cream cake. My husband and his brothers serve as flotation devices for all the kids.

To prep our family, I’m usually always in charge of getting some food, our drinks, desserts, swim gear, after swim gear, and towels together for our trek to the pool. I am also in charge of birthday cards, gift purchasing, and gift wrapping.

My husband is in charge of complaining about how much “crap we are dragging to the pool”, and barking his displeasure about the fact that we aren’t “just ordering some damn pizza” for the party.  It’s a wonder his party planning business never took off, right?

This year, I asked my husband if he had talked to his brother to find out what the nieces would like.  My husband informed me, “I called Paul and he said to just get them gift cards so they could shop for themselves.”  I was delighted, since I wouldn’t have to wrap anything this year. And I was euphoric because my husband added, “don’t worry, I’ll take care of getting the gift cards.”

So on the Saturday morning of the party, I had made layered peanut butter bars, picked up baked potato salad and pasta salad from the store, and yelled at the boys because they had left their wet swim suits from camp in a bag on the hardwood floors. Since Thursday.

We packed up the car and started our journey.  At an intersection before we were going to hit the highway, my husband got in the left turn lane.  I said “where are we going?”.  He said, “I need to stop at Walmart real quick.”

It took me all of a millisecond to realize that when my husband said “don’t worry, I’ll take care of getting the gift cards”, it meant “I’m going to totally forget that I said I would do that, so we’ll have to stop at Walmart on our way to the party, which will make us very late.”

I didn’t say anything, but was sure I was going to melt through the seat, given how totally steamed I was.  He quickly parked the car, and went inside. The boys and I stayed in the car, watching the People of Walmart come and go. It gave me time to search for a pen so that I could write a note in the birthday cards my husband was busy purchasing.

When my husband returned to the car, he tossed me the bag of birthday cards and gift cards.  I pulled out the birthday cards and began to write a note in each. And then I pulled out the gift cards.

I turned to my husband and asked “Did you look at the gift cards as you were sprinting through the check out?  Because what you got your 12 and 10 year old nieces are gift cards that have wedding bands on them.”

Yep, nothing is gonna stand in your way, birthday tween. Even this totally inappropriate gift card.

Yep, nothing is gonna stand in your way, birthday tween. Even this totally inappropriate gift card.

Captain Last Minute said “well, it was either that or — believe it or not — Christmas-themed cards.”

“Um, perhaps they would have had birthday-themed gift cards if you had purchased them…I don’t know…say…more than 10 minutes prior to the start of the party. Like any time during the past week, since you’ve known about it that long,” I may have snarked at him.

My husband turned to Nick and Alex in the back of the car and said “hey, would you guys care what picture was on a gift card, as long as it had money on it?”.

“No way,” Alex affirmed for him.  “Why would we worry about that?” Nick joined in.

“See,” my husband crowed, “it doesn’t matter what the gift card looks like, as long as it has money on it.”

At that point, I just gave up because:

Yes. This.

Yes. This.

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Dunk. Dunk. Goof!

My older son’s baseball team is planning a sports trip of a lifetime to Cooperstown Dreams Park in 2014. I have a few friends who have done it with their kids and they tell me it is an amazing experience for the players and the families.  They

  • play a week’s worth of games (along with a playoff and championship round)
  • get home and away uniforms
  • compete in skills competitions
  • stay onsite with their coaches and meet kids from the 104 teams from across the country and around the world who come to play that week

It’s $1,600 (per player). To earn the money to go, we are having a number of fundraisers for the boys.  First we did a Hit-a-Thon where the boys could be paid a flat amount, or per foot (220 feet maximum) for the farthest of 10 balls they hit.  I pledged $1 per foot and ended up stroking a check for $220.

That $220 worth of swing, right there

That $220 worth of swing, right there.

We have other fundraisers planned. “Fundraiser” seems to be a fancy ass name for “nice little event, but it doesn’t matter because mom and dad are going to be putting out for the majority of this anyway”.

During our town’s annual Summer carnival, the team was given the opportunity to staff the dunk tank one evening and share the proceeds with the local Fire Department. It was $1 for three balls, $3 for 10 balls and $5 for 20 balls. If you were able to dunk the person three times during your turn, you won a 2-liter of soda. So get some exercise and then load up on sugar. Great plan.

Each of our boys took a turn in the dunk tank. There was a microphone so you could heckle the ball throwers. Heckling seems to improve everyone’s aim because each boy ended up getting dunked.

Even the coaches got in on the action. Nothing makes your aim more accurate than the chance to dunk the coach who’s been riding your ass all season long about your fielding/throwing/hitting skills.

When it was my oldest’s turn, he encouraged the little kids who tried to dunk him. Until his younger brother Nick took a turn.  Then Alex began heckling Nick — which may have been a mistake.  Because that seemed to improve his accuracy.

Nick takes aim at his brother Alex

Nick takes aim at his brother Alex

Nick did so well with the 20 balls that he won this:

Fabulous. Let's give this crazy kid some liquid sugar.

Fabulous. Just what this kid needs —  liquid sugar.

Even though it wasn’t Nick’s team, he wore his swim trunks so that he could take a turn in the tank.  Nick’s turn came later in the evening, close to 10:00pm. By that time the little kids were gone, but older kids/young men who were trying to impress their girlfriend or posse were stepping up to show off their accuracy.

Nick was bit more excited about access to a microphone than the dunk tank. He began his heckling immediately. I had to refrain from shouting at him “Keep your distance from the microphone”. You see, much like his mother, Nick’s say-only-smart-things filter is actually set to say-only-smart-ass-things.

At the end of Nick’s turn, a big high schooler stepped up to try his luck with 20 balls. He wasn’t doing that well and when he got to the final ball, he threw it real hard. And missed.

Nick immediately grabbed the microphone and yelled “Sayonara Sucker!”  The team moms turned and looked at me like this:

The eyebrow and scowl of disapproval From website: http://inflexionadvisors.com/

The eyebrow and scowl of disapproval
From website: http://inflexionadvisors.com/

and one of them commented, “Nick is such a mini-Becky”.

Yep, he’s a total goof.

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How Do You Like Your Rice?

This past week, my husband went on his annual golf vacation with his dad, brothers, an uncle and a bunch of his dad’s friends. Each year, my mom comes to help me with the boys so I don’t have to use a week of vacation time sitting around the house, pouting that my vacation days are not spent on the golf course in Myrtle Beach.  (Editor’s note: Actually, I don’t care where my vacation days are spent, as long as there might be a Channing Tatum sighting and lots of Patrón. Just sayin’.)

In our house, it’s a running joke that we are plain white rice.  No Kardashian-inspired khaos, klothing lines or kakamaymie reality show krap.  Which really sucks, actually, since making money for being klassless, krass and just a bit kookoo seems so easy.  Based on those three kriteria alone, the Rices would totally make bank, people.

Never has our plain white Riceness been more evident than it was when my mom took the boys to the pool last Wednesday while I was at work.  They convinced her that they didn’t need to wear swim shirts, even though I had left instructions for them to do so. Mom also let them apply the sun screen on each other.  See how great that worked out?

Nick's back - I think he missed a spot

Nick’s back – I think his brother missed a few spots

For our youngest son Nick, I’m not as concerned about him getting a bit of sunburn. He tans right away.

But our oldest son, Alex? Yeah, he puts the white in white. On Friday evening, he came to me and said “I think I have a bubble on my back.”  After  putting together a string of profanities that would make Li’l Wayne blush, I took a look at his shoulder. Sure enough, the sunburn had blistered. He had two 1 inch in diameter bubbles on his back that were about 3/4″ high. I muffled my gag reflex, quickly ibuprofened him up, gently slathered on aloe vera after sun lotion and got a gauze pad with some first aid tape to cover the ginormous blisters in case they ruptured while he slept.

How nice that they are equally incapable of getting sun block on correctly

How nice that my boys are equally incapable of putting on sun block correctly

So much for plain white Rice; I actually had two fried Rices.

Oh, but we weren’t done there. The next morning when I went to change the bandage — oh, the horror. The skin had blistered even further and moved to the part that I had put the tape on.  When I tried to remove the tape, it was pulling off the skin. Geez.

This was his skin two days later - the blisters had popped but the tape was sticking to new blistered skin. Don't send those Mother of the Year nominations just yet.

This was his skin two days later – the blisters had popped but the tape was sticking to new blistered skin. Guess my shot at Mother of the Year is…um…shot.

My husband — who was now back from his golf vacation — said to me, “Next time, you should give a little more thought to the first aid procedures you employ.”  In addition to two fried Rices, I was now steamed Rice.

I replied with “Well thanks, Florence Nightingale. If you don’t like the way I handle things while you’re gone, perhaps you should stick your vacation up your ass?”.

Fried, Steamed or Sticky Rice.  Care to place your order?


What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

In April, I found myself in the very unexpected position of being unemployed. Luckily, I had my husband to reassure me during my job search with such uplifting encouragement like — “suck it up, don’t get comfortable being an effin’ mooch and put that MBA from Hopkins to good use”.

Because I was on the hunt for a job, my Summer turned out to be nothing like I had anticipated. I no longer had to subject myself to the daily freak show that is the commuter bus/train/metro experience. I had the opportunity to really assess my professional strengths and weaknesses. And I was forced to delighted to volunteer for my kids’ activities at school.

In just 114 days, I found a new job. And not a moment too soon. Because here’s what I learned during my Summer vacation:

  • Once I harvest multiple moonstones, I don’t have enough coins to buy special gems in Bejeweled Blitz.
  • The parents of the kids on my son’s little league team seem to like my cookies better than the actual kids on my son’s little league team. They now refer to me as “cookie lady”, which makes me feel like someone being featured on Hoarders who can’t find her kitchen due to having the world’s largest collection of Girl Scout cookie boxes.
  • Having to handwash dishes is a real bitch on my manicure.
  • I should be thankful I only have two kids to take shoe shopping.
  • It takes an average of 20 hours a week to conduct a successful job search. It takes another 4,354,567 hours per week to accomplish all the other things that need to get done when you are “not working”.
  • No offense to Wendi Aarons, but she really needs to work on her benefits plan if she wants someone to apply for this job.
  • The inferno frog power in Zuma Blitz eats up my mojo points, but getting one extra inferno frog shot is soooo worth it.
  • Stay-at-home parent is code for hardest working person on the planet.
  • The average time it takes for my 8 and 9 year old to begin fighting over whose turn it is to play the xBox is about .0001 of a second before my head explodes.
  • There is more than one famous Beyonce on planet Earth.
  • Tequilla tastes good. And it doesn’t even ruin the taste when you add margarita mix, ice cubes and salt.
  • I am not the only person who gets her important world news from weekly magazines.
  • If I check the American Express bill statement carefully enough, I will notice that my husband bought $10 worth of facebook credits for all the games he plays.
  • When my husband checks the American Express bill statement, he won’t notice all the mani/pedi appointments I had while I was unemployed. Because I charged them all on the Visa bill. Which he doesn’t look at.


There’s No Crying in Baseball

One of my favorite movies of all time is A League of Their Own. It’s one of my favorites because I love the game of baseball, it’s an uplifting story of women breaking the barriers that would traditionally define them at that time, there is an interesting dynamic between competitive siblings and….well, let’s face it. Even as crotch-scratching, spitting, pissing-in-front-of-the-gals sot Jimmy Dugan, Tom Hanks is still lovable.

The best quote of the movie isn’t the one everyone remembers — “There’s no crying in baseball”. For me, every time Jimmy Dugan says the line “By the way, I loved you in the Wizard of Oz”, I can not stop myself from laughing hysterically. Lovable (and funny) sot, indeed.

The Baltimore Orioles were my favorite baseball team growing up. It thrills me to have a local Class A minor league affiliate of the Orioles — the Frederick Keys — just 10 minutes from our house.

Last Saturday, my husband and I took the boys to see the Keys. It was a perfect summer evening of baseball –

The boys were very excited to be at the ballpark

My son Nick was convinced he had died and gone to heaven when he found out they sold jumbo hotdogs instead of the wimpy, regular variety

the kids were able to run the bases after the game

and the fireworks were great!

In the first inning a foul ball was hit in our direction. Since it was early in the game, the seats hadn’t filled up yet. As I watched – almost in slow motion – I saw the ball making its way to….wait. No. Really? Was it headed toward my son Alex’s glove?

It most certainly was. He was pretty sure-handed on his little league All Star team and this was certainly an All Star moment. The ball landed right in his glove. Then in the excitement and thrill of the moment, it bounced out, rolled down to the next row, and the kid in front of him got it.

I watched as Alex sank back into his seat. Around him the fans groaned, as they do when anyone drops a foul ball. Alex’s facial expression went from excited to sad in a mere nanosecond. He had tears welling up in his eyes. His bottom lip was trembling as he bit down on it to keep himself from losing control of his 9-year old emotions. He was living the quote “There’s no crying in baseball”. Everyone around us told him it was a great try and let him know it was a hard catch for anyone to make, but he was focused on not letting anyone know how much it hurt to be 9 years old, have a foul ball hit your glove, only to pop out and end up with someone else.

The mom of the kid who ended up with the ball told her son to give it to Alex, since Alex had it in his glove but dropped it. And without any complaining, crying or objection, the boy handed the ball back to my son.

In the end, there were no kids crying in baseball. But I can’t say the same for Alex’s mom.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the School Picnic

I did the dumbest thing a week ago. I know, you’re saying to yourself “it was a whole week between dumb things you did”?

But in my unemployed mommy state, I volunteered to help out at my son Alex’s 3rd grade year-end picnic. I mean, what better way to show the PTA how completely useless I am (and how much better off they are when I am employed and not mucking up the kids’ activities) than by spending my free time dishing out lunch to 8 and 9 year olds who are 1) embarrassed by their parents most of the time, and 2) not supposed to hear as many cuss words as are typically part of my daily dialogue.

After saying yes to being part of the food service workers (no Union, and I’m a bit bummed seeing as how we could use the benefits), an additional request came through. They needed volunteers to help fill water balloons. I jumped right in and said yes, mentally listing out my intended PTA parent targets. You know, the ones who say to you when you introduce yourself, “oh yes, you’re the one who works and isn’t able to volunteer much”.

In spite of the dread I was feeling about my volunteer service and the behind-the-back whispers about my now unemployed status, a funny thing happened.

As I watched my son play with his classmates, he was having a great time reveling in his 9-year-oldness, and just happy his mom was able to be there.

Then it hit me. Hard. It mattered not what the other volunteers thought of me. Today, I wasn’t an unemployed-helping-out-because-now-I-had-the-free-time-to-do-so mom.

It was my true volunteer gig that mattered. Today, I was just mom.