No Trespassing On The Turk

 

Turk guard 2

Our transition into the new neighborhood hadn’t been as smooth as that into our previous ‘hood. Back in Indiana, the Hoosiers welcomed us with baked goods and Krampus (Which, contrary to how it might appear, was truly one of the kindest gestures involving a horned beast I’ve been involved in – read about in case you missed it.) And while I did believe one neighbor who enjoyed gardening between midnight and 4:00am might have been burying bodies, we lived there for 3 years and I never caught a whiff of decomp so it was fine.

But finding footing in our Massachusetts neighborhood has been a bit tough and if things hadn’t changed when they did, I feared we might have been labeled as “those neighbors best avoided.” The fact that we have a long, secluded drive doesn’t help either. We live in an enclave of about 5 houses but we actually only see two from our house. As we came and went this summer, we tried to meld into the ‘hood but it seemed to be in vain. No returned waves. No driveway chats and no damn baked goods.

The same brand of thinking that caused me to assume the night gardener was a murderer, led me to conceive a storyline in which our neighbors avoided us due to fear of The Turk’s urge to wage jihad because of his accent. (While I now know better I think it might have been a little bit true.) Our little hamlet was void of neighborliness. I wasn’t jazzed about it but I hoped in time I might adjust. Even in Turkey we’d had outgoing and friendly neighbors so this would take some adjustment.

But thanks to the start of school and bus stop time, all that has changed and I’ve become exposed to neighborhood gossip in a way that makes Mama happy to be alive. While only 2 of the homes have school-aged children, bus-stop time brings everybody out. Finally, after three months we’ve seen the faces of the older couple we’ve heard splashing in the pool behind our trees and their love of surround sound yacht rock became clear. The mini-horse we’ve strained to see behind our garage came out to visit with his retirees’ and Dalmatian brother. And then there’s the other mom, who, over the past 2 weeks, has provided me with a 10-year history of our new abode, which explained why the neighbors were leery. While I’ve found it fascinating, I shouldn’t have shared my newfound knowledge with the Turk.

“Did you know this house used to be a drug den?” I lobbed my bus stop findings at him over coffee.

“What?” The Turk exclaimed with a spit take.

“Right? Crazy huh?” I was entertained but regrettably I underestimated the Turk’s response.

“What you are talking about? Drug dealers are here?”

“Relax. It was like 10 years ago before the house was flipped. The neighbor said the people dealt drugs out of here. It’s kind of brilliant really. I mean, the house is hidden in the woods so you could grow weed or run a cartel out of here without anyone really knowing.”

“Why you say something like that! What if Alexa listening?”

Crap. He was right. What if the CIA had us tapped thought that stupid Amazon device? Our overall paranoia has been solid ever since a particularity probing immigration process 13 years ago. I leaned towards Alexa and said, “Just kidding. I’ve been watching Ozark on Netflix. My mind isn’t right. I’m just a good mother who can’t even keep a fern alive and who knows nothing about drugs!”

The Turk was rolling his eyes and flailing his arms while I was trying to plant evidence for my innocence so I decided it safest to get past our home’s drug-induced past and move to the theft-ring portion of it’s history.

“So after that the bank owned it because I guess drug dealers don’t always pay the mortgage on time, and it sat empty for a while but it was repeatedly broken into and the copper pipes were stolen.”

I found this fascinating but the Turk was clutching his chest. “What?!?!”

“Yeah, I guess they stole all the copper piping and then during the flip they continued to break in and steal stuff.”

“Oh my God.” The Turk was growing pale.

“But that was a long time ago. They put the fence in to prevent the break-ins and we’ve got all new stuff. It’s a win.” Usually I’m the crazy one but now I was losing the Turk.

“My God. What if they come back?”

“Who?”

“Them. The people who buy the drugs.”

“Dude it was over 10 years ago. I don’t think tweakers have that kind of memory.”

“How you know?” He was on the fast train to crazy town.

“It’s all good. The house was flipped and sold to another family 5 years ago. They had no tweakers or thefts so I think we’re good.”

I thought I had talked him down. I thought sanity had returned so I left him to his work from home day as I headed into the city for a day of ear appointments and hearing aid adjustments with Nugget. Upon our return we found him at the bottom of our driveway hanging these signs.

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“What the hell is that?” I asked.

“This is to keep out druggies and tiefs.” (All these years and the man still struggles with some words but I find it too cute to correct him.) He proudly pointed to his new signs.

“Right, because criminals are known to obey signs.”

His eyes lit up with a new idea. “Maybe I should get gun?”

“NO! Did you hit your head!?!?” (I’m a solid no gun gal and until this moment so was he.)

“I was best shooter in Turkish Army. That is why I was commander.”

“I don’t care if you were Turkish Rambo. No. No. No.” I was adamant but I know him well enough to know that he cannot be trusted on something like this. We might have finally melded into our new hood but it would be short-lived if there was a gun-totin’ Turk strutting up and down our driveway looking for tweakers.

For now, I’ve distracted him by allowing him to add safety lighting on the garage and more signs (Insert my embarrassed eye roll here). I thought I was good until this morning when I saw he’d been researching driveway gates on his iPad. So much for not being “those neighbors.”

Hopefully I can continue providing the sane face of our family long enough for our neighbors to realize that he’s harmless, just a little nutty.

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Thar She Blows!

thar she blows

Now that we have moved to a hotbed of biodiversity, I’ve determined my children will become outdoorsmen. What’s the point of living in New England if you can’t legitimately rock some L.L. Bean?

Lots of men garner their sportsman skills during boyhood from fathers and grandfathers who lead them on this journey but in our house that is not the case. Sure, when we lived in Turkey I witnessed their father, The Turk, join army friends to hunt wild boars and wow me with sea fishing skills but none of that seemed to make it across the US boarder with his new American passport. This summer, as the Turk hid indoors from mosquitos while the boys and I enjoyed our new wooded homestead, I realized if my little men were to become outdoorsmen, it was up to me.

I decided to started with fishing and while it was a great idea to “teach my men to fish so they could eat for a lifetime,” I wasn’t certain I had the knowledge to be the master baiter. (Hehehehehe. See what I did there? A dirty fishing pun. I’m twelve.) The last time I’d fished was when we lived in Turkey. From a dock in the Aegean, The Turk taught me to angle like the native fishermen using a reel but no rod, bait that looks like bamboo and exercising caution over certain catches. “You catch that one, he electrocute you and you die. Do not catch that one.” My beloved warned. That was my lone lesson and we did pretty well but none of that was going to help me as a freshwater fisherwoman.

Prior to that Aegean outing, my experience consisted of pond fishing in Iowa when my dad would bait the hook, remove the catch and often help his lone daughter cast the line. (Because her coordination was a bit slow to develop.) I was not what one might call a skilled angler. I needed a refresher course if I was going to teach my offspring the ways of the sportsman. Fortunately a family friend is retired nearby and was more than willing to be a surrogate grandpa helping me to hone (Scratch that, I mean, develop) my fishing skills. After a morning at his pond I was ready for a solo run.

We headed to the sporting goods store where I normally spend copious amounts of money on items for peewee football, so it was refreshing to give them my money in a new department. (When I’m eating dog food during my retirement, I will constantly remind my offspring that my 401K was spent on football gear.) After gathering the requisite equipment it was time to make it official and get a license. The keeper of the fish department issued my license but must have been looking at Number 1 when he filled in the “physical description” segment. According to my fishing license I’m a blue-eyed blonde weighing 120 pounds and while that’s flattering, I’m a green-eyed burnette and haven’t weighed 120 pounds since the 5th grade, but I’ll take it.

Our first excursion was a success likely because I’d spent several hours at home preparing the rods while cursing the process. A fat dude at a skeezy bait shop recommended a nearby dock and though his shop likely doubled as a mob front, he knew his quality fishing spots. (Likely because he needed occasional drop spots for his mob business involving cement shoes.) The boys reeled them in one after another.

One thing I didn’t take into account about leading my boys to sportmanship was the gross-out factor. When you take two kids fishing alone, you are in a constant swirl of wormy hands, tangled lines and slimy fish thrust in your face. It’s parental purgatory. Who actually enjoys the touch of slimy fish while freeing them from capture or the feel of worm guts under mildly manicured nails? Not I, but just like you can never let dogs see your fear, you can never let your sons see your gross-out factor. That simply provides them with an upper hand. (P.S. – having brothers is a huge asset to a gal grooming boys to become men.) As the fish came flying at my face followed by “Mom! I got one! Take it off and help me put on a new worm.” I muttered my mantra, “I’ve touched worse…I’ve touched worse.”

Nugget is down with fishing but his interest only lasts about 10 minutes then I spend the remainder of the outing untangling his line, (that he’s attached to everything from nearby trees to my thigh) plying him with snacks and trying to keep him from falling in. Last week while he was in summer school I had the luxury of taking only 1 kid fishing. Foolishly, I believed it would be relaxing like fishing appears to be on beer commercials. With his first cast he caught a tree and needed his pole restrung, then there was a broken reel and the fish that swallowed the hook. After averting disaster for 5 full minutes and swearing non-stop under my breath, I was ready to test the repaired line. Immediately I  hooked something Number 1 and I were certain was the freshwater brother of Moby Dick.

“Hold on Mom! It’s a big one!”

I tried to be cool but it was impossible. This was it. I had a big one. “It won’t reel! I can’t get it to work!” (I’m still working on my repair skills.) I was frantically spinning the handle while watching my pole bend like a scene from a National Geographic show about Amazonian monster fish. The pressure was palpable. Here I was, showing my son girl-power in action. His mother was about to reel in a big-ass fish!

“Don’t lose it Mom!” His excitement was building and he was jumping up and down a little too close to the edge. I did not want to face the choice of saving my child or reeling in my big–ass fish because I can’t guarantee I’d drop my pole. (Don’t judge, the kid can swim.)

Fortunately I didn’t have a Sophie’s Choice moment because my line snapped. I watched as my bobber, bait and line all took off across the water. Moments later a penis-like head popped up near the bobber. Because I am missing the parental edit button that prevents me from the deletion of potty words in front of my offspring, I yelled – “Screw you dickhead! You might have broken my line but you head looks like a penis!” As the words came out of my mouth I wished I was with my one-eared kid who only hears half of my profanity.

“Mom!” My judgmental ten-year-old exclaimed. But within seconds he reconsidered, “I mean you are right. His head does kind of look like a penis.”

So it wasn’t a big-ass fish. It was just a big-ass turtle but it was a nice teachable moment for my son to understand the importance of accurate trash talk. My sportsman development has a ways to go but I’m finding more joy than anticipated in the ride. Especially when the Turk opens his beer fridge and screams, “What the hell? Why there are worm in my fridge?”

 

Siri’s Cousin Done Lost Her Mind

female fire fighters

One of the tasks of moving into a new house is trying to understand all the idiosyncrasies of your new purchase. Do you need to lift and pull that bathroom door or pound it like Fonzi? For someone like me – my mother used to call it a vivid imagination but I think the real term is just crazy- this also leads to an in-depth psychological profiling of the previous owners. Thanks to our relentless years of relocations, the Turk and I have had a plethora of opportunities for both of the above.

Upon moving into one house we discovered vents stuffed with soiled children’s underwear. (Fo reals. Equal parts gross and disturbing.) Another home contained a poorly constructed sub-wall possessing a  hidden shelving system (I determined it was for the previous owners’ S&M life but the Turk just thought it was a bad construction project.) And then there’s our current home with the nursery’s doorknob installed backwards so the lock locks from the outside, conveniently locking the child IN the room. (All parents muse about this but who actually does it!?!) Nugget discovered that little perk and seized the opportunity to lock his unsuspecting brother in the bedroom. He claims to have done it “accidewentwee” but we know Nugget better than that.

All of those little oddities were strange but manageable. However, last night’s new house idiosyncrasy was nearly deadly. Our little Turks were tucked away in their beds (with the door NOT locked from the outside- just in case you were wondering) while the Turk and I lay in our bed watching an in-depth documentary on the current status of interstellar matter when…ok, we totally were not. We were watching what we watch every Friday night – Mama June, Not to Hot – I just can’t break free of that damn Honey BooBoo’s clutches and the Turk appreciates the way they caption the cast members with missing teeth and strong accents. We like to keep our trashy side strong. Just as all hell was about to break lose at the Vegas of wedding of Mama June’s daughter, a series of alarms began blaring throughout our house. I sprang from my bed with a speed and intensity only previously seen when a child makes pre-barf noises.

“Fire! Fire!” shouted the voice of a robotic woman who I immediately assumed was Siri’s cousin.

Siri’s cousin didn’t stick to her “Fire” line for long. She changed things up and began yelling, “Carbon monoxide warning! Carbon monoxide warning!”

While the blaring siren rang throughout, the Turk and I ran from room to room making sure we were not on fire or filling with noxious gas. Once we determined that bitch was a liar, we tried to quiet the broad but she would not be silenced. While the Turk wrestled with the batteries (Spoiler alert: we later learned they were hard wired so that was an exercise in futility.) I jumped up and down below the alarm waving a kitchen towel because that’s what you do when you burn popcorn right?

The blaring continued and my heart was about to beat out of my chest. It seemed I don’t currently possess the physical condition necessary for springing from the bed combined with repeated flailing with a kitchen towel. The combination of panic and exertion were taking a toll.

What if there was a smokeless fire in some area we couldn’t see?

Was the heater we’ve never turned on leaking gas and about to kill us in our sleep?

Was it the hot water heater we’d been putting off replacing?

How the hell will I get my kids back to sleep?

Why aren’t the kids awake? OH MY GOD IT’S THE GASSSSSS!

And then, silence. They stopped.

Ironically, our cracker box sized home has five, yes, five smoke detectors split between the three bedrooms upstairs and two more detectors downstairs plus two in the basement. If this house goes up, ain’t no way the entire state of Massachusetts won’t hear it. It wasn’t surprising that Nugget didn’t hear his. He’s only got one ear and if he’s sleeping on the ear he does have that kid can sleep though a war. As for Number 1, I worried he might be dead since he was still sleeping. I pulled up each eyelid and felt for chest movement. Not dead, just post-football tired.

I began throwing open all the windows to ventilate the house in the event that there really was carbon monoxide.

“Why you do that? It’s too hot.” The Turk asked. “Nothing is wrong.”

“Well if there’s not an issue, why do the alarms keep going off?” I asked.

“They’re not.” The Turk retorted.

Right on cue, Siri’s bitchy cousin started again.

Screaming over the blaring alarm and Siri’s cousin yelling, Fire! Fire! Carbon Monoxide Warning! Carbon Monoxide Warning! I countered, “What the hell do you mean the alarms are not going off? You hear that right?”

“Yes, I hear that. They are not going off. They are on. The keep going on.”

Touché Turk. Damn you English.

“Ok, yes. But in English we say the alarms are going off when they are actually going on.” It’s tough to defend English grammar during an emergency.

“That is stupid.”

“I know but you’ve been speaking English for like 20 years. How is this new information? Never mind. Just make them stop!”

When silence finally descended and we’d made sure there were no flames or gas, we returned to bed. The windows were open for ventilation, just in case, while I struggled to harness my crazy. I’d watched an interview earlier with two women who’d died and come back. I couldn’t help but believe this was a sign that the universe was preparing me for my forever nap. Then I began worrying about who would find our bodies. We don’t know anyone in the area yet and the Turk’s been traveling a lot so it wouldn’t be alarming if he didn’t come to work for a few days. Would the cat eat our faces? He seems like the kind of cat that would. Would the mailman eventually check in when the bills piled up? My only hope lay with Number 1’s football coach eventually calling the cops because his fullback hadn’t shown up for a few practices.

“I think we Google what is going on.” The Turk said but upon seeing the look of fear on the three inches of my face that was peeking out from beneath the covers, he rethought his directive. “Maybe, I do it. You will just see things that make you even more crazy.” He knows me well.

Ultimately he ruled the situation was linked to a recent electrical issue and power surges the electric company has been working on over the past month. (Stay tuned for that tale of horror.) According to Google, power surges can make Siri’s cousin go whacko and require a reboot or replacement. I voted for the latter. I couldn’t risk Siri’s cousin ruining my trash television experience again.

12 hours later we returned home with $400 worth of new detectors and Siri’s cousin got an upgrade. But the Turk and his own brand of crazy decided it was best if we didn’t leave our survival up to Siri’s cousin alone. He branched out and bought every fire and carbon monoxide detector he could find adding six more to the eight already in place, just in case Siri’s cousin hadn’t gotten zapped. When we sell this house, we want to make sure the next homeowners know from the start that we were some crazy-ass homeowners.

The Key To Greatness Is Remembering To Take The Keys

man rapelling.png

“Do you have the keys?” I yelled down the driveway to my husband, the Turk, as he was unsuccessfully ushering Nugget into his carseat.  Nugget, like the rest of us, was in no mood for yet another trip to IKEA but we were in need of shelves named Sjokvenjkorkensan, so IKEA it was.

“I have keys.” The Turk yelled back (Because when we move into a new area, we want to make sure the entire neighborhood can hear our interactions. It’s good for them to know we’re loud from the start.)

As the “s” slipped from his lips, I pulled closed the door to the home we’d owned for less than a week. Since we’d yet to locate the box housing our coffee pot, the Turk and I were not functioning at peak performance and with my slam of the door his tired eyes bulged.

“No! I have car key but not house keys!” He exclaimed in horror.

“What!?! Why would you say you have the keys when you don’t?” I screamed just to make sure the neighbors knew I was provoked in case things got ugly and there was a crime scene investigation later.

“Well I do have car keys.” His attempted argument was built on quicksand.

Why any rational human would grab the car keys from the hook next to the house keys while leaving the house keys was beyond me. However, many years ago I ceased to search for reason in the Turk’s actions. Engineers are seldom able to apply the logic they use in their profession to everyday life.

As one instinctually does upon realizing they’ve just closed off their portal to comfort, I immediately began pulling at the locked door. Though I knew it was futile, it was reflex. That door was like Fort Knox. I tried the back door even though I’d locked it seconds earlier but I needed to make sure. While the Turk laid out some nice Turkish profanity, I tried the front door holding out one last bastion of hope. Hope soon died when it too was locked tight.

I gazed at the bay windows, aware there was no way in hell my post-children-pre-menopausal hips or the Turk’s beer-loving gut were making it through those small openings. Maybe we could shove an off-spring through if necessary. Fortunately for the kids, those windows were locked too. The Turk had a less than stellar parenting moment when he wanted to shove Nugget through the doggie door but even that was locked.

I was gearing up to smash the kitchen window when the Turk grabbed the rock from my hand exclaiming, “I have idea!”

After some rumblings in the garage, the Turk appeared with a giant ladder that he commenced to set up on the deck. I pointed out that if he stepped on the lower mudroom roof he could easily access Nugget’s window and live to tell the tale.

“No. How I know it is unlocked?”

“It’s unlocked.” I reassured him. I knew this because I couldn’t figure out the lock so I’d faked it.

“It looks locked.” He rebutted.

“It’s not. Trust me.”

“No. I cannot take risk and get stuck on roof. I go in this one.” He stated while pointing to Number 1’s window a solid 4 feet above the top of the ladder he’d just opened.

“That’s ridiculous…” I began before being quickly cut off.

“I know what I am doing. I am Turk. We know things.”

As situations like this have occurred repeatedly during the many years that compose our union, I simply stepped aside and assumed the pose – arms crossed, eyes in mild roll and a ‘bitch please,’ smirk plastered on my lips. We’ve been here before…many, many times.

The Turk climbed to the top of the ladder as a small and hostile voice came from down the driveway.

“Baba! What the hell you doing?” (We’ve been working with Nugget on his potty mouth but in this case it was apropos.) “Baba! You can die.” (Spoken with the same accent his father uses on Nugget himself.)  

I told Nugget I’d already mentioned that so he shook his little head and assumed my same pose. (Nugget is a perfect genetic split between each of us and it’s both wonderful and horrible.)

Gingerly, The Turk climbed to the top step of the ladder. You know, to that part where it says “NOT A STEP,” next to the drawing of the little man falling, yes, that’s where my husband was standing. He turned to the boys and I on the drive and said, “You better take picture in case I die here. I want you remember me.”

For the third time I pointed out that stepping on the mudroom roof next to him and going in Nugget’s window was far more sensible but he assured me he knew Nugget’s window to be locked tight. (…even though I knew it wasn’t, but once a Turk makes up his mind, it’s over…millions of Turkish wives can attest to that.)

With a mighty heave-ho the Turk hoisted his body towards the open window. He wedged his recently acquired gut on the sill and began to shimmy forward. When the shimmy proved unsuccessful, he began kicking his chicken-legs to create momentum that would hopefully propel him through the portal to greatness.

Meanwhile his children and I stood 12 feet below. Nugget had his hand smacked against his forehead while muttering, “Oh Baba” repeatedly. Number One was doing his best to suppress full-blown, pee-your-pants giggles and I was calculating the odds of him bouncing if he fell from that distance. (FYI – His bounce factor was low because aside from the gut, the man is a twig with minimal cushion for self-preservation.)

Eventually, the Turk increased the velocity of his kicking when it became clear he was going nowhere with successful results. Soon the flailing chicken legs passed into the window and the crowd of three on the driveway erupted into cheers. The Turk offered a celebratory wave from the second floor before disappearing to retrieve the forgotten keys.

We spent the next hour howling and reliving the great entrance again and again before Nugget felt it was time for a lecture. “Baba, dat was so funny. But you shouldn’t do dat again. You could break your butt and if you break your butt, how you go to work? Den you’d be home all da time and be very grumpy.” The backseat buzzkill always keeps it real.

Number One chimed in too, “I mean it was funny, but maybe you should hide a spare key outside so we don’t have to go through this again.” At our advanced paternal age, it’s good to know that our children are smarter than us. It’s also good to know that in our most stressful times, we find equal humor in the ridiculousness and crazy we both posses and that’s the key to everything. Crazy binds a couple.

I’m Not Ready For A Prison In My Backyard

prison

When Lifetime Television for Women and Gay Men makes the movie of my life, there will be no need for a focus group to come up with winning title. My bio-pic will be called “She Didn’t Get Too Comfortable.” No, I haven’t been contacted by Lifetime execs yet but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time and I like to be prepared. Considering our newest adventure, if somebody isn’t ready to make my biopic then at least TLC should tap us their next reality television moment.

In 12 years we’ve lived in 2 countries, 4 states, 6 towns, and 8 homes. Though we’ve not been huge fans of the Hoosier state, (Really love a lot of Hoosiers but Indiana…not so much.) we hit the 5-year mark and were just starting to get comfortable. As usual, that comfort prompted the universe to pull the rug out from under my propped feet nearly spilling my wine. We’re moving, yet again.

This time the universe decided to deliver the news until it was clear I was settling in to stay for a while. After living for 2 years in a room with baby-poop yellow walls with pink accents, I finally agreed to repaint Number 1’s bedroom to a more masculine tone. As we returned home with $100 worth of paint and supplies in hand, a panicked Turk met us at the door.

“Read this email. I think I am not translating something.”

He pulled up an email from the head of his company. I read it, then read it again. The third time I read it but added my favorite f-word between each sentence.

All the while, the Turk loomed. “Well?”

“No translation issues. We need to be in Boston by January 1.”

The Turk threw out a few of his own favorite bits of bilingual profanity then called his supervisor for some explanation while I listened through a glass at the door like a nosey Nelly.

The Turk and I have both felt like fishes out of water for the past 5 years, but it’s been nice to be constant for our kids and we were finding a way to make it work. Neither of us expected the Turk to get relocated yet again. We foolishly believed our next move would come on our terms. (We’re old but clearly still naïve.)

After tears and frustration, decisions were made; the Turk would go early and the boys and I would join at the end of the school year to try and disrupt their worlds as little as possible. (A loving parental choice? No. There was no way in hell was I moving to New England in the height of winter.) Thankfully, things didn’t work out that way and the Turk was granted a stay. He got to hold off his move until closer to our whole family move in June.

We spent spring break in Boston house hunting but unlike the show, ours adventure wasn’t nearly as tidy. Since we don’t have a mil to drop on a new 500 square foot home in Boston, we have to go a bit further out…not quite to New Hampshire but it’s close. Just like on House Hunters, here’s our top three.

House 1: The “What’s Hiding In the Woods?” House.

This house was a bit of a mess and needed lots of work but it was tucked away in a beautiful wooded area just like I’ve always wanted. It wasn’t love at first sight but we thought it might be worth a bid.  Before we did so, we decided to consult a map because I needed to get my head around its geographic zone. Sprawled across a hotel bed carefully peering at a map of the area (Yes, I’m old like that. Maps trump the interwebs for some things.)  I noticed a pale blue box butting up against the back of the property. I assumed it to be a nature preserve or maybe a state park as that’s what all the other blue boxes on the map represented. Not this time. My blue box was a State Correctional Facility. Behind the picturesque woods surrounding my potential new home, lay a glorious, razor wired, possibly electrified, 12 foot fence. While my BFF tried to reassure me that he’d grown up near there and it was only a facility for the criminally insane not the heavy hitters, we took hard pass.

House 2: The Pinterest Epic Fail House

From the photos, this one had great potential. However, this listing was the real estate equivalent of putting a photo on a dating profile shot from 20 feet away, 15 years earlier. The homeowner had tried to spruce up this pad with a variety of techniques likely found on Pinterest from painting lopsided chalkboards on the bedroom walls to sponge painting the kitchen counter-tops. (Yes, you read that right. They painted the counter-tops.) Couple these design choices with the lingering scent of ganja and dog poop and we executed a hasty exit.

House 3: The, “You Put My Kids Where?” House.

This house had some solid potential. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, yard and wait for it…a “large playroom.” No parent can resist the lure of a separate playroom. Upon entry it was stunning. Most importantly, there was no visible playroom on the first floor which meant all child paraphernalia would be out of sight upstairs. I loved it already. I longingly glided a hand along the wood railings as I ascended the stairs, eager to find my dream playroom waiting for me. Bedroom 1. Bedroom 2. Bedroom 3. Bath. Laundry closet….wait…where was my playroom? I searched for a secret passage, perhaps to an attic or nook. No go. Our agent called from downstairs, “I found the playroom.” Disheartened that it was actually on the first level, I trodded down the stairs to see my bonus room. That’s when the agent led me out the front door, up the outside concrete steps and across the lawn to a separate building. Yep. My playroom was actually a freshly dry walled and finely floored former chicken coop. It seemed this house had a backyard prison of a different sort. While it might sound alluring sending your children to play in a separate building, that level of non-supervision can quickly lead to mass destruction, bloodshed or a small scale prison riot.

Ultimately, due to my fear of the criminally insane, sponge-painted countertops and harboring children in climate-controlled chicken coops, we left empty-handed. But we did come up with a solid list of areas we liked. Now it’s time for me to send in the big guns, The Turk is going in alone and The Turk always completes his mission. Let’s just hope he can avoid the state pen on his next round of house hunting.

 

I’m Probably Going To Hell

woman hypnotist (1)

There is a 90% chance I’m going to hell. A few years ago it might have been closer to an 80% chance but it’s been a rough patch recently. Easter is usually a time when my heathenistic nature is made clear as the appearance of eggs, bunnies and crucifixes tends to spur familiar conversations between the Turk and I.

“I never get it, why bunny? Did Jesus turn into bunny?”

“No. That’s just stupid.”

“Is it? Every year I ask and every year no one can explain.”

“Oh I explain it, you just never listen.”

“And does rabbit come from egg? No. So why eggs?”

It usually goes on and on like this until I hide away like a mole rat in a dark, secluded area far from my husband who was raised in a Muslim country completely void of gummy eggs and chocolate bunnies. We’ve been doing this for a ridiculously long time so when this year’s round started I didn’t think much of it.

On a rainy Sunday, we drove past the local Catholic Church over-flowing with cars. I should probably note, this is the same Catholic Church I weaseled my way into a couple years ago for Number 1 Son to make his first communion. Though I’m a card carrying heathen, I’m also aware that mistakes can be made and if this whole Jesus thing pans out, I don’t want to have sacrificed the souls of my offspring, so I like to cover my bases. Every month the Church sends us requests for money with our names horrifically misspelled. We laugh manically while shredding the request and the Church keeps a family of ethnically diverse names on the registry amid the thousands of Smiths and Johnsons. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Seeing the crowded parking lot reminded me to ask the Turk, “Do you have Good Friday off?”

To which he replied, “Every Friday is good. Why is one more good than the others?”

Just as I was about to give myself a stroke from rolling my eyes back in my head, Number 1 chimed up from the backseat. “Baba, that’s the day Jesus died.”

The Turk searched for clarity, “But he come back again later?”

“Yes,” I chimed in. “He rolled up on the crowd a few days later and needless to say, they were a bit shocked. I guess it’s like when you think your boss is out of town and he comes back early. I mean, on a big scale.” (Sister Nora would be so proud.)

I thought that would end it but no. From the backseat Number 1 asked, “Wait, if Jesus died then got out of his grave later, doesn’t that make him a zombie?”

Being a long-time fan of all things zombie (old school Night of the Living Dead not this new school Walking Dead crap) I was more than proud that my little cherub had somehow taken in zombie science by osmosis from his mother.

We debated the concept for a while until Number 1 added, “So if we take communion then don’t we technically become zombies too?”

Kid, you spent one freaking year in Catechism and somehow you managed to pay attention to the one part of the whole doctrine that most find pretty creepy. Nice. Not wanting to get further into a theological debate with either Number 1 nor his father, I tried to shut it down by throwing my attention to the Nugget. However, Nugget was elbow deep in a bag of animal crackers and had nothing to say except, “Wook Mom, I ate dis guy’s head off.” He proudly held up a decapitated pachyderm. Nugget often chooses to utilizes the fact that he only has one ear to find a little peace in our nut-job family.

Fast forward to yesterday and me chasing a naked Nugget around the house trying to get him into the shower. In desperation, I tried a conversation technique to distract him long enough to cleanse.

“So how was school today?”

I expected a generic, “Good,” maybe peppered with a bit of “I had fun.” But no.

Instead he said, “Today at thool, I told da kids about Jesus.”

Noooooooooooooo!  “Um, you told the kids what honey?”

“First, I told dem dat Jesus died on de cross.” He stated.

Relieved I continued, “Really?” I wasn’t impressed that my kid was preaching the gospel in preK but since he’d only started talking a year ago and he’s still not a fan of interacting with same age peers, I was just happy he was having a conversation.

“What else did you talk about Nugs?”

By this point he was shimmying in the shower covered in bubbles tossing out information between dance moves. “Den I told dem Jesus is a zombie.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Jesus is a zombie. Dat’s what you said.”

Panic overtook me. Do they call CPS for training one’s children as  a heathen? Was there a red button on the desk for teachers to press in a religious emergency? This is Indiana and they take their religion seriously here. For the love of God, they made Mike Pence.

“So….” I ventured carefully, “what did your friends say to the news of zombie Jesus?”

“Nuffing. Michael said Jesus is in your heart so it’s ok if he’s a zombie.”

And there you have it. So on this Easter weekend just remember…If Jesus is in your heart, he might be a zombie…and clearly, I am going to hell.

Hey Old Broad Winter, I Got Your Back

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Dear Old Broad Winter,

As I’m sure you’re aware, people are talking about you and not in that, “Oh she looks good for her age,” way. (Because honestly, no one cares if people are talking about you if they are issuing commentary on your youthful looks or your tight buns.) It’s no real surprise that your actions would garner more attention than those of your weaker, wussier counterpart Old Man Winter. (Temps below -20 and hurricane snow could only come from a tough broad.)

Your takeover of society has been going solid for a few weeks, yet I’ve heard numerous ramblings across this land involving harsh, dare I say obscene words describing you. Old Broad Winter, let me apologize for humankind. They are simply not experiencing your wondrous glory as I and they know not what they say.

It seems other members of humanity don’t like these frigid temps and frequent snowfall because it leaves them housebound. To that I say, “Housebound? Hells yeah!” For a working mother exhausted by the constant pace of our school-year life, there is nothing, and I mean nothing better than being housebound in a manner that is totally beyond one’s control.

Housebound is the one time where mommy guilt cannot pry me out in search of an entertainment opportunity for my rambunctious offspring.

“Mom, can we go somewhere?”

“Nope- roads are too slick.”

Housebound is the only time I am able to tamp-down my latent Martha Stewart kitchen tendencies and slap a sub-par dinner on the table scrabbled together from scraps found in the pantry.

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

“Whatever the hell I can find kids. Looks like tuna cakes, pickled beets and a side of Sponge Bob Mac and Cheese tonight.”

Housebound is the one time I can disregard my educator opinions regarding the negative effects of electronic devices on impressionable minds and comfortably say,

“Sure boys, you can have another 3 hours on the IPad. Just make sure there’s no shooting or bloodshed.”

Best of all, housebound is the one and only time when my word is gospel and even my most argumentative child does not feel the need to take it to the final stop.

“Mom can we go sledding?”

“No, it’s minus 14 out.”

“So? I can wear my snow pants and extra gloves.”

“Son, if you go sledding when it’s -14 degrees, within minutes your face will crack, your teeth will break off, your testicles will freeze into ice cubes and you’ll never be able to give me grandchildren.”

“Mom, that isn’t true.”

“Trust me. I’m a science teacher.”

“Seriously Mom.”

“Is that a risk you’d like to take Number One son?”

“No.”

“I didn’t think so.”

Old Broad Winter, I feel that those who disparage you simply are unable to see things my way. No, I’m not some sanctimommy who so loves the fruit of her loins that she feels said fruit can do no harm. Hells no. I understand the pain that can come from an extended period of time trapped with one’s offspring with snow falling and temps reaching somewhere near that of a polar bear’s butthole. But this year, in my aged genius I’ve found that answer. Embrace the Broad.

While my snow-day parenting may not be getting a segment on The Today Show any time soon, it is a viable survival method to get through extended bouts with Old Broad Winter.

This year I’ve changed my focus and instead of looking at a week of Siberian temps with dread and fear, I look at this as an opportunity to give my sofa a workout. I embrace the chance to mandate afternoon naps for all and spend quality time feeling the sensation of my dimpled thighs melting like hot butter over my sofa-pancakes.

When the time is right, I whip up a hot toddy (which may or may not have an extra shot for therapeutic reasons) and kick my tootsies up in front of a raging fire maintained by my loving Turk (who may or may not have pyromaniacal tendencies.)

When the shrieks of sibling rivalry bust my chill, I calmly suggest (from the sofa of course,) that the matter might best be solved by a cage-match in the playroom and remind all involved that should stitches be required, I will be doing them myself with a rusty needle and a shoelace. (One would be shocked by how successful a deterrent such imagery can provide. Give it a try.)

I also like to use this time to indulge in activities that won’t risk calorie burning. During times of glacial temps, one needs to keep all stored body fat and I am secure in the knowledge that the extra 20 pounds on my ass ensure my prolonged survival.

So Old Broad Winter, now that I’ve learned how to love you, I no longer dread you. I look forward to your interruptions to our hectic life. I’ll take your housebound sentence and raise a mug of hot whiskey in your honor. Bring it on Old Broad. This year, I might be one of your biggest fans.

 

 

Can I Order a Sister-Wife On Amazon?

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I needed new sneakers. So this morning I went online, found the model I like, picked a festive color and with a few clicks the deal was done before I even made it through a full cup of coffee. Tomorrow my new kicks will be waiting on my doorstep when I arrive home, ready and willing to escort my tired tootsies through the next 30 casual Fridays. Bingo bango, the interwebs solved my problem.

This got me thinking. I have another big problem. Could the interwebs solve that problem too? This problem is a bit more complex though; because I’ve decided I need a sister-wife. For real.

Now that school has started I am a hot mess. Between my full-time teaching job and my full-time job as a Turkish wife and my full-time plus job as an overbearing S-mother, I’m dying. Our household fluctuates between panic mode and squalor on the reg and my forty-something ass is dragin’.

-Dinner is mushy? Sorry family but that happens when Mom starts the slowcooker at 4:45 AM.

-“Hello? Yes this is Nugget’s mother. He didn’t wear his hearing aid to school…again?” That’s what happens when Mom isn’t there to micromanage putting him on the bus.

– “Yes, I realize the house looks like a crack-den but I’ve got a mountain of papers to grade.” I’m on it this weekend.

-“What permission slip? You needed it 2 weeks ago? Sorry Number 1 Son.” I’m on it.

-“No, the fish tank isn’t supposed to be green.” I’m on it.

-“Why are you discontinuing my cell service? Really? I haven’t paid the bill since July?” My bad. I’m on it.

-“What’s the…is that… cat barf on my foot?” Even the cat is out to get me.

A mortal woman can only keep this up for so long before being drawn to drastic measures, like pharmaceutical assistance (Though I don’t think Mother’s Little Helpers were really intended for upping the pace, were they?) and since I’m of an advanced age and our judgmental world now frowns upon such things, I’ve decided there is a better way. The way of the sister-wife.

Anyone who knows me (especially my husband the Turk) has long been troubled by my fascination with the whole concept of sister-wives. It started years ago in Turkey when Big Love was one of the only shows we got in English. Then there were the various documentaries I consumed on the topic followed by every episode of every season of TLC’s train wreck, Sister Wives. My obsession is strong.

Mock me if you will, but if you put all your Judge Judy tendencies aside, it makes good sense. Like a fool, I’ve given my family an unrealistic standard of mothering and while I kept it up for many years, now I’m ready to call in reinforcements.

If I get a sister-wife, she could stay home to make sure bills are paid, hearing-aids are worn, permission slips are actually signed and my house is kept in an inhabitable, dare I say, clean state. Currently there is a pod of cockroaches waiting on the doorstep in little fedoras carrying tiny Samsonite just waiting for the moment I lose the frontline battle with the crumbs. The struggle is real.

My sister-wife, let’s call her Eunice. Why Eunice? Because Eunice is a sensible name that says, stability, strength and no sex appeal. It’s a name fit for a sister-wife in a floral frock rocking excess facial hair and a uni-brow. More importantly, have you ever seen a big-boobed bombshell called Eunice? No. (I’m desperate. I’m not stupid.)

Even with Eunice’s mad housekeeping skills, love of gluten-free baking and ability to take on any issue that might arise, I have no worries about my husband trading me in for Eunice. For one, being from Turkey he’s seen a lot of bearded women with uni-brows and it’s not his jam. And for two, The Turk and I have equal levels of crazy that no other mortal would dare take on. As the Turks say, “There is a lid for every pot,” and much like Ricky was the lid for Lucy, the Turk is mine. Eunice hasn’t a chance.

According to the TLC series and Big Love, Eunice and I will be able to sip coffee together in the morning as we lament our daily duties, but we will often argue over small things until we draw up a workable, color-coded chore chart for both of us. I can handle that. It’s all about balance. If reality television is to be believed (And it is right? I mean, of course it’s true love on The Bachelor, right?) we won’t share clothes (because Eunice is selfish with her frocks) but we will cheer each other on as we visit our personal trainer and when difficulty arises, we’ll have our family therapist make a house call. (*note to self-get a family therapist and keep her on retainer.)

So you see, I’ve got it all figured out. Since there are not enough hours in the day for me to manage the life and limb of all the beings in this home and in my 6 daily classes, AND make sure no one in either position dies, I don’t see any other choice. If a fat, white man in America can order a hot Russian bride over the internet, why can’t a desperately exhausted mom find herself a lifesaving sister-wife the same way?

Eunice, I need you girl. I know you’re out there and my search has begun. I will find you. I won’t rest until I do. But I should probably bring this idea up with The Turk first…

 

Get That Fat Kid Off My Baby!

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The night before any big game is the perfect breeding ground for a serious case of the jitters. Last Friday in our house, the jitters didn’t just pop-by to visit, but they settled in at the dinner table, somewhere between the tuna melts and green beans.

“I’m really worried about tomorrow. Coach said those guys are really big,” lamented Number 1 Son.

“Big? How big can they be?” I countered. “This is a 4th grade league. I doubt that 4th graders from the next town over are really that much bigger.”

“But Mom…”

“Don’t be a wuss. Get in there and take ‘em down and don’t come home until your pants are covered in grass stains.”(Though I’m a suburban mother, my inner spirit seems to have become that of a washed up high school football star.)

Because my husband, the Turk, occasionally carries the sanity in our union, he quickly chimed in and overrode my input, “If guy is too big you just hit his pads and run away. Got it? Run away so he not crush you. You can beat him. He will be slow because he is fat so just run away. You don’t want fat guy fall on top of you. Ok?” As if the Turk’s instruction was not enough, he punctuated it with a reenactment in the middle of the kitchen floor using 4 year-old Nugget as a visual aid.

“Run away?” I scoffed. “Yo, this isn’t your futbol where you fake a booboo when you need a rest. This is American football where we fight like the violent, obese people we are.”

“It is better he look like wimp than get crush by fat Hoosier.” -Quote, The Turk.

The Turk did have a point, Hoosiers – the government mandated term for the native people of Indiana- are not a small people. (For reals, I have 6th graders that tower over me and while I’m no giant, I wear really big shoes.) However, I’d seen all the teams in our burb’s 4th grade division and with the exception of a couple 5 footers, they were all regular sized 4th graders. We also have a 95-pound ball carrier weight limit, (I was well aware of this because my offspring and I held our collective breath at weigh-in hoping that with pads, he’d clear it. Like is mother, he’s short but he’s solid.) and 98% of the league had cleared it.

“Relax, Coach was probably just trying to psyche you guys up.” I assured him.

The Turk chimed in with another tip from his runt playbook. “But if your mom is wrong, remember, you are Turk and do what I say. Hit, run away, then jump on at end like you there whole time.” His father added.

At 7:30 Saturday morning, after our ritual 20 minutes of searching for cleats, struggling into pads and the ‘protect your goods’ check about all things manly, we were ready for his pregame drop-off.

While Number 1 and his team of 4-foot bobble-heads warmed up, the rest of us had time to grab a coffee before the coin-toss. After struggling 6 miles across wet grass like a Sherpa with chairs hanging off my back and a screaming Nugget, hostile about spending another day doing something for his brother, hanging from my front, I was ready to plop down and enjoy a little Saturday morning football magic. It was then that the Turk pointed out we were on the wrong field.

“This cannot be his game.” He said.

“Of course it is. We’re the red guys and there he is.” I gestured toward the cutest lineman in the universe…(known to the rest of the crowd as white-helmet-bobble-head-number-14)

The Turk countered with his own point toward the middle of the field where the coin toss was on. “If this our game, who those men?” On one side of the ref were two white-helmet-bobble-heads in red jerseys appropriately 4’ 6ish and scrawny, but counter to them were two man-sized players in orange jerseys who may or may not have been able to vote in the last election.

“WHAT ARE THOSE?” I screamed. “WE’RE PLAYING GROWN-ASS MEN!”

A mom behind me chimed in, “Right????!?!! If they’re 4th graders I’m 25.” Nice one girl.

I glanced down the sidelines to see that the two jolly orange giants mid-field were not anomalies. Their entire line-up was comprised of so-called 4th graders who could likely slap on a fake mustache and stop off at any watering-hole for a post-game highball.

“Oh hells no.” I yelled, “This cannot happen. This cannot be legal.” I stammered but before I could rush the field and throw a very un-football hissy fit, the whistle blew and the David V. Goliath Saturday saga had begun.

The Turk and I scanned the field and high-fived when we found our kid. Two parents have never been more excited to see their kid warming the bench. Our hopes were soon dashed as the starting offensive line took the team, and there in the path of calamity was my baby, Number 14.

My little lineman, being one of only two on his team over the 90 pound mark, was assigned the task of covering a kid that could best be described as the 9 year-old embodiment of Jabba the Hutt. Baby Jabba, we would soon learn, already had a nickname. Ten feet away from me, a family of larger beings cheered and screamed for their son/my son’s nemesis – Sugar Foot. “Come on Sugar Foot! Hold that line!!!!” the mother yelled and before struggling into a 3-point stance across from my son, Baby Jabba waved and possibly blew a kiss. My first-born was up against a fat man named Sugar Foot and all I could do was pray Sugar Foot didn’t fall on him.

Play after play Number 1 Son faced off with Sugar Foot and, after realizing early on that simple physics would prevent him from stopping an object twice his size, my son decided to take his father’s advice. He gave Sugar Foot the old hit and run, but made sure to jump on top of any available body pile to make it look good.

Meanwhile on the sidelines I chanted my mantra – “Fat man don’t fall on my baby, fat man don’t fall on my baby.” It was like a crime scene and the Turk didn’t make it through. He gave up early on, “I cannot watch.” and left under the guise of taking Nugget for a walk. “Call me from emergency room.” I, however could not look away. A good football mom never leaves the a death match unfolding before her because he might have to run on the field and pull a fat kid off her baby.

In the end, the fat guys were too slow and we beat a team twice our size. Except for a few bruises, Number 1 walked away unscathed physically. Nugget, however, saw an opportunity. Everytime he finds his brother in a vulnerable position, I hear him scream “HERE COME SUGA FOOT!!!!” before enacting a full body slam. Well played kid, well played.

 

The Birthday Clock Never Stops…

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Birthdays are awesome…until you’re about 22. Then instead of offering milestones to greatness, birthdays start tallying up the years. When you hit 30 the tally shows adulthood is inevitable. 35 means it’s time to actually stop lying about it and actually start a retirement fund. When the calendar flips to 40 you can literally feel your gums recede and the fluid actually drain from your knees. I’m pretty sure the number associated with my recent birthday led to my immediate development of diabetes while my cholesterol skyrocketed and I gained 5 pounds of belly fat all within a two hour span. Aging blows.

What I wouldn’t give to spring out of bed and…(wait, let’s just stop there. What I wouldn’t give to spring out of bed period.) but really, wouldn’t it be great to have the same excitement about your birthday at 50 that you had at 5? (FYI, I’m not 50…not yet man, don’t make it any worse.) You know, that kind of excitement that leads to wearing a paper crown with your number on the front and telling every human or mammal you encounter, “Today is my birthday! Give me cake!”

My darling husband, The Turk, has never been great with holidays. I’m still waiting for a much-hyped 10th anniversary celebration and we’re only a little ways out from our 11th. Anniversaries are not his jam but he is coming around on birthdays. This year he shopped for a gift almost an entire week before my actual birthday, a massive improvement over days of old when he would head to the nearest supermarket for some expired roses moments before closing. No, this year he even took the boys along for help. Unfortunately, that was where things went wrong.

Within moments of returning and seconds after hiding the goods, Nugget with his newly acquired language skills, beamed, “Mom, we got you asshole atch.” Hubba whaaaaaa? Though Number 1 son and the Turk tried desperately to shush him, Nugget would not be silenced. “Asshole atch.” He told me again while squirming away from the hands desperately trying to cover his motor-mouth.

Because I may be geriatric  but still possess the maturity of a 12 year old boy, I immediately began to see images in my disturbed mind of sparkly buttcheeks sitting atop my wrist with a rapidly moving second hand shaped like a stink cloud. This caused me to laugh even harder. (I really am 12. It’s ok. I own it.) “You unt asshole atch?” The Nugget persisted.

While I was busy wiping the tears from my face, Number 1 was livid. “I can’t believe you told her! It was supposed to be a surprise! You suck Nugget!” Number 1 was right. He did suck but in Nugget’s defense, no one had any clue he was a blabbermouth because this was his first violation.

Somewhere around two, Nugget was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech – which involves a misfiring of neurons the prevent kids from being able to get the information from their brain to their lips to get the words out. Up until the past few months, Nugget had only signed and offered a few brief sentences using only vowels. Since he was a silent partner, for most of his 3 1/2 years, he’d been dragged along on many secret missions with all of us comfortable in the knowledge that our secrets were safe with him. Not so now it seems.

Now that Nugget has his hearing aid so he’s hearing all the sounds, is immersed in his special school with daily speech therapy and basically spends 3 hours each day working on his communication skills, he has exploded and there is no putting any cat back in any bag. The kid never shuts up.

You can see the thought process he goes through to get every sound out. His determination is astonishing. But, as illustrated in the case of the asshole ach, he’s still working on quite a few sounds like F. Every time anyone asks him to form an F he shoots back a look that insinuates F is not an actual sound and that we are clearly F-ing with him. I consider this the universe helping a sister out since he’s already demonstrated high skill with profanity thus far that last thing that kid needs is the power of the f-bomb. Sometimes only those closest to him understand him, but sometimes (usually with his favorite phrases like – ‘what the hell?’ Or, ‘oh for godsake!’) he’s a clear as a bell. It’s a process but after 3 years of silence, we’ll take every bit of it. (Until he gets suspended from PreK for that profanity bit…)

Nugget definitely blew the surprise by telling me all about my APPLE watch and quite honestly, there were about a hundred other things I might have requested over a pricey Dick Tracy wrist piece…like a dishwasher that actually washes the dishes…or the downpayment on a car younger than my offspring…or that dental work that keeps getting shoved to the back burner over and over again. But now that I’ve got it, I do quite enjoy it, probably since I spent most of the 70’s talking to my wrist pretending to be Maxwell Smart and now I’m legit.

As the Turk said, “It your birthday. You deserve special thing you do not ask for.” True that Turk, and though I didn’t ask for an asshole watch, hearing that Nugget tell me all about it is exactly what I’ve wanted.