Author Archives: jdanastahl

What I DO Know

I may not know a whole lot in this life, but THIS I DO know.

My husband hates me and is trying to either a) kill me, b) make me miserable, or c) make me miserable right before he kills me.

Why, you ask?

I sent him to the store with a simple list last weekend.  It contained edible items I could take to work for lunch.

He bought me this:

Which is apparently filled with monkey shit and motor oil.  I was hungry so I ate it.  And now I will probably die.

But luckily, since it’s filled with TWICE THE FIBER!  (YAY!) of normal pasta, I will likely shit my pants before anyone finds my cold, dead carcass.

I will purchase my own lunch items next week.

Also, I do NOT recommend the pasta florentine, thank you very much.

7-Year-Olds Confuse Me

Or maybe boys confuse me.  I don’t know, but something certainly confuses me.  If you ask my husband, he would definitely tell you that a LOT of things confuse me, mostly things like budgeting and how to use the remote control which is more like a space shuttle control panel than a remote control.  And also now the digital temperature control in our house.  Can we PLEASE just get one of those old dials on the wall like they had back in the 70’s where I could just tell the house how cold to get and it would actually DO what I wanted it to do?  So, some things confuse me.
Anyway, back to 7-year-old boys.  I don’t know whether to take Jadon to the eye doctor.  I’m guessing I’m going to have to go, because apparently his eyes are “fuzzy.”  I’m not exactly sure what sort of a diagnosis comes along with fuzzy eyes, but I’m guessing he either has ebola or the West Nile Virus.  I tried giving him Tylenol and telling him to go to bed, but he told me his eyes were still fuzzy.  Dear Makers of Tylenol, could you please add fixing fuzzy eyes to your list of remedies? Thank you very much.
But crap, the Tylenol didn’t work.  (It’s SUPPOSED TO FIX EVERYTHING.)  So then I had to ask more questions.
Me:  Well, are your eyes fuzzy in school or just right now?  (As in, are you contracting this mystery disease because it’s bedtime, or does this shit happen all the time and you are just now telling me about it?)
Jadon:  Ummm (uses hands a lot, waving them in the air to signal the eyeball gods), I see fuzzy stuff when I blink a lot.
Me:  Hmmm…(wondering if he got into my secret stash of NyQuil because that is some good shit, especially after a glass of wine.)
Jadon:  And they fuzz up in the mornings a lot.
Me:  Are they fuzzy when you look at the Smart Board at school?  Do you have trouble seeing what the teacher wants you to look at?
Jadon:  Only when my eyes get blinky.
Me:  (The hell??  Now they are blinky, too?)  Okaaaay.  Ummm, did the teacher move you far away from the Smart Board?
Jadon:  No.  I can see it.  They aren’t fuzzy then.  It’s when I’m sleepy, but then I can’t see too good.
Me:  So, you can’t see very well when you are sleepy?  (Is he talking about when his eyes are closed?  Because I totally can’t see too well when my eyes are closed either.)
Jadon:  Yeah, and in the morning, too.  So when they are fuzzy, I am sleepy.  And blinky.
Me:  Huh.

So yeah, I guess I’m going to call the eye doctor today and tell him we have a case of the fuzzies.  And blinkies?  Strangely enough, I don’t seem to be able to come up with a complete diagnosis, even with my MAD webmd skills.  But my closest guess it that we have a new strain of Don’t-Want-To-Go-To-Bed-Itis.

Kickin’ It

There are times I wonder.  Did the baby fairy drop Marissa, in all her organized, good-natured, even-tempered glory off on our front porch when I wasn’t looking?
Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that I’m not the epitome of organized.  Or good-natured (especially in traffic or when awakened from a nap).  Or even-tempered.  Because I totally am.
Maybe we should start again.  Sometimes she doesn’t seem a whole lot like me, because, errrr, she’s well, really, really sweet and nice.  And it’s not that I’m not…it’s just that…
Ok, this isn’t going well at all.
See the thing is, she’s a GOOD girl.  She tells me to use “safe words.”  I know, I know (hangs head in shame).  But think of all the strength she’s gaining from this.  Think of all the things she’s learning.  She maybe doesn’t want to yell at people in passing cars who can’t hear her because well, maybe that sort of thing doesn’t work for her.
Anyway, my point is this.  She’s awesome, and I’m not exactly sure how it happened.  But she’s totally cool and amazing and smart.
She does, however, have a small, ever-so-teensy streak of her mommy running through her.  I discovered it yesterday when she confessed that she told her ex-boyfriend (the one who cheated on her at summer camp) that she was going to drop-kick him.  (I’m not sure why he cheated on her because that makes him an idiot—and totally drop-kickable.)
Yay!  You go, girl.  Now, before anyone gets all up in arms and checks into the P.C. Hotel, she’s NOT REALLY GOING TO DROP-KICK ANYONE.  And if you are seriously worried about that, you are a weirdo and a freaky-ass-dork-pants with nothing better to do that get all weirded out by a little bit of exaggeration.  So, chill it on down a little bit, Sherriff McLockEmUp, and maybe take another milligram or so of your heart meds.
Ok, so back to the story.  When she said she might drop-kick little Cheater Pants, I was all like, “Now there’s my girl!  That girl DOES have a little bit of her mama in her!”
And NO, I have never drop-kicked anyone either, mainly because it would probably hurt my ankle.  Or my foot.  Or lots of things, really.  BUT I sure as all get-out havesaid I might, and I have definitely said it with plenty of vigor and 4-letter words thrown in the mix.  I have also said plenty of other things I didn’t ever really intend to do.
So, all drop-kicking jokes aside, I’m just saying that maybe the baby fairy didn’t leave her on the front porch after all, swaddled in a blanket of manners and joy and good-natured niceness.  And maybe one day, she’ll even say something scandalous like…gasp!…’TURD.’

Or maybe I’m just saying that you can be really, really good and awesome and organized and nice…and you can still find someone totally drop-kickable.  And that’s ok.

Not These Pants

Sometimes when you have a kiddo who battles with communication, it’s tough to figure out exactly what he’s trying to tell you.  I know, this is starting out to be a real eye-opener, but bear with me.
Today is picture day, and on picture day, as most mommies do, I laid out some handsome little ensembles for my handsome little dudes.  We want to put forth the appearance that we ALWAYS go to school looking dapper and well-groomed, even though on a typical day, it’s more like we are lucky to get our teeth brushed and get out of our pajamas.  (We have managed to get out of our pajamas every day, right?  Teachers, please don’t answer that.)
Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Handsome outfits.  So this morning, both of my little cherubs put on their picture-day finest, and trust me, I wasn’t asking them to go all bow-tie and tux.  Really I just wanted nice shirts and shorts or jeans.  Ok, what really happened was this.  Mommy sucked and only got shorts clean for one of the boys, so I pulled jeans out of the closet to go with Jordan’s nice shirt, which I though would be totally fine.
In my defense, Jordan has always LOVED jeans.  In fact, it hasn’t been that long ago that he went through a phase of nothing but jeans, all the time.  Jeans in the morning, jeans at night, jeans for pajamas, jeans for everything.  So I figured, what the heck?  Surely he won’t mind wearing the damned jeans, right?
WRONG-O.  Apparently.
What took a while was the figuring-out part of that equation.  He got dressed in the jeans alright.  Then he proceeded to bury himelf under the blankets on my bed and refuse to come out, forever and ever, until the end of time.  “Ummm, okay.  Buy why, little handsome buddy?”  (This was Mommy asking in an all-too-bright-and-cheerful voice.)
“But ‘no’ doesn’t tell me why you won’t come out,” I patiently explained.
After a few minutes in hiding, he finally elaborated.  “I can’t run in these pants.”
Ohhhhhh.  Well, if that’s the problem, lemme just tell ya, Buddy, that Mommy can’t run in ANYpants.  Not like without pants, which is totally what that just sounded like, but I mean, no matter what pants I’m wearing, what I’m doing resembles nothing like running.  Unless I’m being chased by a really bad dude wielding a machete…then I might run.  Or unless there are piping-hot glazed donuts on a table, say, 400 meters away.  Might also run for those.  Otherwise, it totally would not matter what pants I was wearing—there would be NO running.
But I didn’t tell him any of that, because I was thinking he would neither understand nor appreciate my running issues.  His issue at the moment was that he COULD. NOT. RUN. IN. THOSE. DAMNED. PICTURE. PANTS.
And he’d made it perfectly clear he was not coming out from under my blankets until I remedied the situation.
The only thing I had washed were towels.  So it seemed like I had a couple of choices.  He could wear dirty shorts.  Nope.  He could wear a towel.  But he would probably veto that, because I’m sure he would have the same not-able-to-run-in-it issue.  Or he could borrow a pair of his brother’s shorts, which would be slightly too big.
Problem solved.  So, gangsta-rap Jordan went to school today in a pair of ever-so-slightly-too-big khaki shorts that just to happen to match his picture shirt.  He was of the mind that he could run in those much better than jeans, which was really all that mattered.  We all just need to cross our fingers that they don’t fall off and end up around his ankles, because I’m thinking that will put a dent in his running prowess.  Other than that, picture day should be a snap.

Another successful morning.  Also, I’m still pretty sure no one wore pajamas to school…except maybe the high schooler, but I hear that’s totes cool now.

Keep Your Eyeball Off of My Eyeball

My eyes are not-so-secretly attempting to take over my body and destroy life as I once knew it.
Eyeballs are supposed to be white.  With color in the middle.  Not mine.  Mine are flaming-bright-fire-red, sort of like zombie apocalypse eyes.  My left eye is especially menacing, what with its squinty puffiness and watery ooze.  It’s quite a deterrent to friend and foe alike.  One look at THE EYE, and people slowly start to back away and find reasons not to be in my general vicinity.
Also, I don’t think it’s right that fire is in my eyeball.  Call me a doubter or a negative-Nelly or whatever you will, but I don’t think it should feel like lava has been poured into my eye socket every time I blink.
My eye doctor has given me drops, which I’m fairly certain consist of acid, Satan’s tears, and lemon juice—they feel that great when I drop them into my eyes.  In fact, when I sense that the drop is going to hit my eyeballs, my instant reaction is to jerk away, and I have to force myself to sit there and take the torture.  I keep telling myself that this devil-concoction is somehow supposed to make my eyes better, when I secretly suspect witch-doctory is actually involved.  (Note to self:  look up ophthalmologist.  He is a friend, however, does he also practice voodoo or any of the black arts?)
Apparently, I have some sort of ulcer-y thing on my cornea.  Yay.  For the second time.  Because my eyeballs hate me.  And after the recent long weekend, I felt that the devil-drops were not doing their job.  My left eye was getting redder and redder, and it finally started to look like a mushy little tomato orb inside my head.  Not cool.
So I called the doctor, and he got me right in.  After some poking and prodding, he determined that in addition to my previous condition, I now also have EKC, which is some form of über-contagious eye gunk that allows small white craters to form all over my eyeballs, making my vision craptastically horrible.
So now, in addition to the Satan-juice I have to pour into my eyeballs several times a day, I have also been grounded from using my contact lenses.  Can we just go ahead and put me in some coke-bottle strap-on glasses and call it a day?  Or can we get me a glass eye and a peg leg and make me a pirate?
What the hell, eyeballs?  What did I ever do to you?

Also, I should warn you that this new contagious thing has to run its course because it’s a virus, so you probably shouldn’t go sharing towels with me or sticking your eyeball on my eyeball or rubbing your water bottle on my eyeball and then drinking from it or well, just in general you should not do anything that brings you anywhere near my eyeball.  It’s pretty gross.

That One Time When We Left the House

We try to leave the house and do things with the kids.  We really do.  And we try to come up with really fun and different things for us to do as a family.
This weekend, we announced, “We’re going to SantaCaliGon!”  (Just so you know, this is a fairly large local fair that takes place every year on Labor Day.  Of course, it’s usually hella hot, sticky, and crowded and full of things like fried dough, fried pickles, fried meat, and whatever else you can fry.)
So, YAY!  We were all going, and YAY! we were going to have fun, dammit!
This announcement was followed by a chorus of:
  • “Can we take our video games?”
  • “Can we take the portable DVD players?”
  • “How long do we have to stay?”
  • “When we get home, can we play our video games?”
  • “Will it be hot?”
  • “Will we have to walk very far?”
  • “Will there be video games anywhere near where we are going?”

Holy hell, you would think we had told them we were taking them to Guantanamo.  And staking them out in the hot sun with no water (or video games) until they shriveled into mere shadows of their former selves.
“But there will be rides!” we said over-excitedly.
“I don’t like rides,” said one of them very non-excitedly.
“And treats!” we added.
“We have treats at home,” they explained.
“Well, we are all going to have fun anyway,” we explained.
And so we went.  And they were miserable.  And the smiles were all gone.
It was like we had dragged them to an extra day of math class, except out in the hot, hot sun.
Suddenly, their feet hurt and they were melting and their skin burned and they didn’t FEEEEL GOOD!

So that was that one time when we left the house.  And we forced fun on them.  And finally, they all got to go home to the place where all their electronics were waiting for them.  It was clear the electronics were lonely, too—there was one solitary tear rolling down the side of the X-Box because the boys had been gone for so long.  Luckily, we made it back just in time and there was no serious, long-lasting separation anxiety between children and electronic equipment.  Whew!

When Fun Goes Grumpy

With the holiday weekend upon us, I would like to share an oft-occurring long-weekend-ish problem with you.  This happens to me frequently when we have holiday weekends or otherwise generally less productive times.  Yay, 3-day weekend, right?
On long weekends, it’s sometimes popular—and even considered fun for some—to rent movies, to hit up Ye Olde Red Box, so to speak.  (Especially if you have a gazillion kids and no social life outside of the home.)
But this is what happens.  When we get to the Red Box, everything sounds good.  I want to watch everything that I have not yet seen!  So what do we do?  We rent 50 gazillion movies.  Ok, probably more like 3 or 4, but still, that’s a lot of movies for us.  So we rent them and take them home.
And the first movie is relaxing and great and fun.  But then it comes time to put in the next movie, and I’m reluctant but agreeable.  So we put in the second movie, and halfway through it, I lose interest.  And about 5 minutes past halfway, I decide to get out my laptop, and I get completely distracted from the movie.
And then I start to get irritated because the movie is too loud and I can’t concentrate on what I’m reading on the laptop.  I suppose I got out the computer in the first place because I feel the need to get up off the couch and DO something productive instead of watching yet another movie.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the movies.  I do.  But then they just don’t end.  And then if the second movie is something like The Hobbit, I get really, really grumpy because that thing went on and on and I’m pretty sure gray hairs grew out of my head as the ending credits were rolling.  I felt like I needed to scrub the kitchen floor while Gandalf was smoking his pipe.
So I guess my thing is this.  One movie is fun.  Two movies = grumpy time.  I can’t really explain it except for the fact that I’m just not a very stay-in-one-spot kind of person.  I move.  I travel.  I do things and see things and need to feel somewhat productive (unless it’s nap time), and I just feel like the day is gone if it’s movie marathon time.

On the other hand, I could spend an entire weekend reading a book.  Why is this?


I was very helpful yesterday, which can probably be attributed to the many years I was forced to wear a Girl Scout uniform and go to camp and smell like bug spray and still get eaten alive by mosquitos.  (Also, thanks Girl Scout Camp for making me view camping today as its own sort of hell-in-the-woods.)
Anyway, we were in Jason’s car, and he was driving.  He was also talking on the phone to some business contact about very spreadsheet-y sounding things.  (He has approximately 12 phones, 4 laptops, 16 chargers, 8 headsets and pretty much can talk to about 7 different people at the same time.)  So while he was otherwise occupied with driving and working, I did my good deed.
I happened to look over and see a tarantula crawling up his gas-pedal leg.  (It might have been more like a little furry woodsy looking spider, I dunno.)
Anyway, EVEN THOUGH I, too, was busy organizing my facebook page and twittering about, I had the bravery and wherewithal to POINTnonchalantly at the spider.  (Don’t even go thinking I was about to touch it.)

And I was impressed.  He continued his conversation, stayed centered on the road and decimated a tiny little spider that was probably just trying to make a nest in his leg hair.
So my point is this:  If you were talking to my husband at about 6:00 p.m. last night, he probably has no idea what you were saying because there was a spider crawling toward his man-region.

Also:  If I ever see a creature invading your personal space, I will slowly back away, all the while pointing and calling the matter to your attention.  I am an outdoorswoman like that.

Things That Plague Me…That Probably Shouldn’t

This one has been bugging me a LOT lately, definitely more than it should, but it’s entirely spurred on by the fact that my dear husband went to the grocery store last week and bought the WRONG KIND OF CHEESE.
This may not seem to be a big deal to you.  If it’s not, you are a cheese hater, and we may not be able to continue our friendship.
If it IS, however, a big deal to you, then you will understand the following question:
Why does that super-thinly shredded cheese not taste as delicious as the thickly-shredded stuff?

I know, I know…it’s not as dense.  But even if I smashed a handful of the thinly-shredded stuff into a ball and then shoved the entire thing into my mouth, it still would not taste as good.  WHY IS THIS?
And why did Jason buy the wrong kind of cheese?  Does he buy the thin shreds because he KNOWS I like the thicker shreds?  Does he enjoy seeing me in cheese-agony?
On to other things that plague me:
  • Books with no ending.  (It can be happy.  It can be sad.  It can be TERRIBLE, but please for the love of all the cheese in the free world, give it an ending!)
  • Entertainment systems that force the user to operate a minimum of 6 different remotes at once.  No good.  On.  Off.  Channel.  Record.  That’s what I need.  Don’t complicate it.
  • Telephones.  If you know me AT ALL, you know that I’m a writer, an emailer, even an in-person talker.  But if the phone rings, it’s sort of like an alien ship just landed, and I need to immediately find the safest place in the room to hide.  I would honestly rather send you communication via carrier pigeon, and trust me, that would require a lot of training and skill.  Not to mention the fact that I’m not even sure where I would get a carrier pigeon.  (Note to self:  Ask Jason if subdivision rules allow us to have pigeons.)
And that’s about it for today, although there are several things that should be on this list.  I probably am just not thinking of them now.  Once I solve all of these problems and irritations, I’ll toss more your way.

Career Decisions

When I was in college, I went through a phase where I wanted to be a psychologist.
I will wait for you ALL to stop laughing before I continue this post.
All done?
Ok, good.
I feel that we can all thank every lucky damned star in the entire solar system that the shrink thing did not pan out, because as you know, there are days when I can barely guide myself through the soul-emptying process of deciding what to wear.  I cannot even imagine attempting to help someone with a real problem.
There are lots of things I wanted to be.  Let’s go back (like WAY back) to a more innocent time.  I was about 7 years old when I declared to the world that I wanted to be a cook at Hardee’s, and my sole purpose for this career decision was based upon the fact that I held dear the belief that I—and only I—could vastly improve on the hot ham and cheese sandwich.  (I will now confess that when I was in college, I worked at Hardee’s for ONE day, and it sucked hairy balls.)
Other things I wanted to be:
  • Political Science Major Person (I’m not sure what they do, but the classes were WAY cool.)
  • Writer (“But they are POOR,” my mom would tell me.  I can now confirm this.)
  • Veterinarian (Let’s get real.  I can barely handle my own dogs’ vomit.  There is NO WAY I’m looking at the asses and inner-workings of the dogs of strangers.)
  • Botanist (Not the drug-dealer kind.  Also, those of you who know that I barely scraped by in Botany 101 with a C-, you may stop laughing now.)
  • Person Who Works at an Embassy.  (Because how cool would that be?  Except if you get bombed or have to dress up in suits all the time.  Eww.)
  • Teacher  (Yeah, that sucked almost as much as the job at Hardee’s.)
  • Rancher (Specifically, horses.  Ok, now I am laughing at myself.  I get grumpy when my boobs sweat in my own subdivided front yard.  I’m pretty sure those rancher people do a lot more sweating than I do when I pull weeds.)
  • Writer  (Yep, that’s the one.  Whew!  Finally, a decision, and it only took me…well, a LOT of years.)

So, hypothetically speaking, if I had a daughter who was 17-years-old and had absolutely NO idea what she wanted to do with her life, I should not be concerned, right?  That would be totally normal, right?
Because, damn, I’m thinking this could very possibly be how people end up with 30-year-old adult children living on their sofas eating cheese puffs all day.  Please tell me I am wrong.  It’s totally ok not to know, right?

I mean, I turned out just fine.  Oh, crap…