Monday, July 25, 2011

It's Christmas. Smack dab in the middle of summer.

Baby, it's hot outside.

I am quite sure that the last thing on your mind right now is holly and ivy, Nativity scenes, Christmas carols, Santa, snowdrifts, twinkle lights, and the smell of pine indoors.

Unless you are me.

Today is July 25, also known as Christmas in July, a fun family tradition started years ago by my parents. I have since adapted it for my own family, and it has become a favorite with my own children.

For one night out of the summer, we play Christmas carols on my iPod, hand out silly, inexpensive gifts, and eat a Christmas in July dinner together. The menus over the years have been varied, but always enjoyable. One year I cooked a full turkey and all the sides, and another year we ordered Chinese take-out because it was just TOO. DARN. HOT.

Whereas Christmas in December is a more formal occasion, at Christmas in July, anything goes.

Bring it. The zanier the better.

One of my pre-lit artificial trees in an urn is pulled out of its basement storage area, and will make an appearance in the corner of our kitchen eating area. Santa hats are sometimes donned with shorts and flip-flops. Many years ago, when I was home from college one summer, my parents hosted a family Christmas in July, and Bill, my then-boyfriend, was invited. He had no idea what to expect, but was a great sport about it, showing up to my parents' home in a Santa hat, a white, long-sleeved oxford shirt with Christmas tie around his neck, and khaki shorts. He topped the whole look off with a pair of Christmas knee socks.

I was smitten.

I haven't had much time to think about what I will serve for dinner tonight. In homage to our tradition family Polish Christmas Eve, I might pick up some fresh pierogi at the grocery store. Or, perhaps I will serve Mexican. After dinner, we will most likely make a trip to the pool on this hot, sunny day.

You know, because it's Christmas.

In July.

Anything goes.

I love traditions, no matter how ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Fly Hunter.

My husband Bill is the yin to my yang. The tic to my tac. The hip to my hop.

As I have mentioned in the past, he is a very calm, even-tempered man who is rarely rattled.

Sometimes I hate this quality about him.

Even though I adore him with every fiber of my being.

I hate it at times, because whereas I have the tendency to freak out lose my cool in tense situations, I look over at him, and a cooler head prevails.

And I hate looking like the cuckoo bird.

But I get over it. Because we balance each other out.

We play our marital roles quite nicely, and it just works. Because, really. It's not like we could both go around this planet spazzing out at the littlest thing. That would just be exhausting. Fortunately, he stepped up and offered to play the role of Calmy O'Logical in our marriage, because that role? Is so not me.

Of course, I am not saying that he is a perfect man. It's just that there are not many things that ruffle his feathers.

Except.

When it comes.

To this.

Yo. I'm kinda BZZZZZED and it's all because, this is how I do it.

It's a housefly. A Musca Domestica for the fancy people.

Thanks to well-meaning, but forgetful shorties, whose arms only seem to work in the forward direction and are able to open a door, but cannot close it again, our home is rife with flies. 

Rife.

The incessant, elusive buzzing is constant summertime white noise at our house. Perhaps I am just used to it, but it doesn't exactly rattle my cage. I have four kids. Clearly, there are bigger cage rattlers in my day than houseflies.

I pick my battles.

Besides, why should I spend my day chasing houseflies when I am married to The Fly Hunter? He hears a buzz and grabs a newspaper. It's very Pavlov's dog.

He stalks his prey through every square foot of our home if needed. Darkness is his friend, because he knows that the Musca Domestica is attracted to light. My husband often likes to remind me of the day he stalked a bumblebee that had the misfortune of flying into our home. He followed the bee around the house, waited for the right moment, clapped his hands together fiercely and killed it mid-air without getting stung. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

People? It is the stuff of which suburban legends are made.

Last evening, Bill came home after a hard day's work, changed out of his suit, and came back down to the kitchen to chat with me. As I was in the middle of a riveting story about how I picked up the boys from Cub Scout camp at 3:30 p.m. and took them to the McDonald's drive-thru with the intent of cooling us all down with a snack of $.59 vanilla ice cream cones, but instead I ordered fries and burgers for the older boys because they were starving and exhausted from all the camp shenanigans, (Yes. McDonald's for a snack at 3:45 p.m. on a Monday. Don't judge me. It happens.) I realized that my guy was ignoring me.

Ignoring? Me?

Did I not mention that my story was riveting? About a spontaneous McDonald's run and display of my most awesome parenting? Did he not get that part?

Pssshh.

His eyes were darting feverishly throughout our kitchen as he was muttering in my general direction, "Uh-hmm. Yeah. Sure, Clare..."

"Hello?!?"

"Yeah, Clare, I heard you. Mmm-hmmm..."

A tiny buzzing sound had overpowered the sound of my voice.

Newspaper, meet Bill's hand.

He was a goner, muttering to himself something about maggots as he swatted his newspaper throughout our home.

But this fly was particularly elusive and foolishly intent on taking up permanent residence at Casa-de-We-Already-Have-Four-Kids-And-We-Don't-Need-Disgusting-Maggot-Fly-Babies-In-Our-Garbage-Cans-Thankyouverymuch.

Hours later, darkness fell upon the land, and the fly remained at large.

Darkness. The Hunting Hour.

I looked over at my calm husband, with a newspaper firmly in his hand as he turned out every light in our home except for one. He smiled as the buzzing headed toward the light of the open door to our powder room. With as much dramatic pause as he could muster, he said to me before he closed the door, locking him and the poor, unsuspecting fly in the bathroom, "Clare? Only one of us is coming out alive."

Sigh. My guy. He's so fly. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's just not fair.

So far, this summer has been known as The Summer of Fairness.

Even-stevens.

My shorties have a case of the Not-Fairsies something awful. If I hear the phrase, "It's not fair!" one more time, cartoon steam will shoot out of my ears and then my head will explode into tiny bits.

Literally.

I know that I have mentioned in the past that I detest when people misuse the word, "literally". The word "literally" literally makes me want to scream my head off.

In the literal sense.

But this time I'm literally going to explode, friends. It's that bad. My kids' campaign for complete and total fairness in our house is killing my brain like a poisonous mushroom.

See? Now I'm quoting Vanilla Ice. The brain decay has commenced.

It all started at the beginning of summer when my two oldest boys attended a daytime basketball camp at the local Catholic high school one week, and my other son attended football camp.

My 4-year old daughter, who is my youngest child, ran errands with me on the mornings that her brothers were in their camps. One morning, when she was being particularly helpful and well-behaved, I stopped at McDonald's to get her a berry fruit smoothie. When we picked up her brothers from their camps, they saw the empty cup in one of the cup holders of the minivan. All heck broke loose.

"NO! FAIR!" one of them yelled indignantly. "Why did she get a smoothie and we didn't?!? That's so unfair! She gets everything fun!"

All three of them then proceeded to whine and moan about the unfairness of it all.

Really?

Need I mention that the shortie who started the chorus of whines had just spent three hours at football camp, running around a great, big, fun, high school football field with his friends? That his mouth still had evidence of pizza sauce around its edges from the end-of-camp pizza party that he just attended? That his hands were full of fresh trinkets that he had won as prizes? That his body was clad in a brand-new shirt and shorts bearing the camp's name?

Sigh. If only 6-year olds could detect irony.

The whining about fairness and equity has gone on and on all summer long, when one child is asked on a playdate, and the other three are stuck at home. Or one child gets the chance to run a special errand with Bill or I. Or one child seemingly gets a slightly larger scoop of ice cream. Or two children are at the grocery store with me and happen to get a free cookie while my other two children are "suffering" at a baseball practice. Or one child gets invited to two birthday parties in one month, and another gets invited to zero. I am told how unfair it is. On and on the whining goes. And on.

And on.

And on.

A girl could scream.

This girl has screamed.

Fair, schmair.

While we are on the topic of fairness, do you know what's not fair? That I have to eat the rejected, slightly burnt piece of chicken because the shorties won't touch it.  (Ironically, shortie logic will tell you that boogers are occasionally edible, but a perfectly tasty piece of chicken that is oh-so-slightly browner than the rest is absolutely inedible. Go figure.)

That I have to re-mop my freshly washed kitchen floor because a full cup of sticky apple juice accidentally fell to the floor and managed to splash the baseboards in even farthest corner of the kitchen.

That I have to listen to the movie, "Cars" for the 427th time over the speakers while driving the minivan, when I'd much rather listen to Pitbull and Ne-Yo sing to me that I should, "Grab somebody sexy and tell 'em, 'Hey!'"

That even though I wear about 10% of the clothes in the laundry baskets, I must wash 100% of them.

That the latest episodes of iCarly take preference over a show that I would rather watch. (Because really? I MUST bite my tongue when watching this show. Spencer is a responsible, totally mature guardian to Carly, and she has her own internet webcast? Really? REALLY???)

That I have a wicked purple bruise on my right thigh courtesy of a stray Croc shoe that managed to trip me and then launch me directly into the sharp corner of an open kitchen cupboard.

But I don't really care about any of these things. Not one of these problems-that-aren't-really-problems is worth the breath that it takes to form a complaint.

Because life, as they say, is not fair.

But my love is.

Each of my shorties has an equal piece of my heart. My overflowing, bursting-with-love heart, and somehow these supposed, "inequities" in our everyday life have a way of evening themselves out.

Deep down I know my shorties know this, and I am thankful that their resentments don't last.

Because we have love, and our love is the equalizer.