Since we moved into this neighborhood a few years ago, we’ve been under an teensy bit of pressure during the Christmas season. We learned that our neighbors like to put up lights. A lot of lights. Like the kind that can be seen from a Russian satellite orbiting the earth.
There’s a little problem with this. Um…unlike the rest of the neighbors, we sort of really don’t like to put up lights. I know. I know. Bah humbug but my husband and I don’t find pleasure in standing out in sub zero temperatures with a pile of Christmas lights and a bunch of knotted up extension cords trying to figure out the “best” way to decorate our yard. I personally find sitting in front of the TV watching Seinfeld reruns with a gallon of wine in one hand and a vat of Christmas cookie dough in the other way more enjoyable. I also don’t like when people spend countless hours decorating their yards with lights, plastic angels, and inflatable Santas – then neglect to clean it all up until the following June when the snow finally melts.
Anyway, just to give you a better picture of how our street looks — when one of our friends found out where our new house was located she said excitedly, “Oh…you live on the street that puts up all of those Christmas lights every year! You must be out there for days decorating! Which house is yours?” When we explained that ours was the dark, haunted-looking house at the end of the road she said, “Wow. That’s your house? When I took my kids down your street and saw that house, I told them a bunch of pagans must live there.”
But as things go, after that comment I found myself cracking under the pressure and added a couple of (tasteful) lit trees on either side of our front door. Then last year, I painstakingly decorated a small bush with one of those light nets you basically just unfold and carelessly fling over your landscaping. This year I added a few lights to another puny bush (or maybe it’s a dried up weed, I’m not sure. I only know it’s big enough to hold a string of lights) but I’m still was nowhere near the “festive-quotient” the neighbors have designated for our street.
“You need to get Floyd down from the garage rafters,” I told Ron one Saturday morning. Floyd was the life sized (if you’re 4 years old) plastic snowman we’d purchased about 15 years ago at a home improvement store. Floyd had been stashed away high in our garage behind boxes and containers since we’d moved into the house.
Ron pulled the ladder out, climbed up near the ceiling, and retrieved Floyd. I immediately went to work, wiping the webs and dirt off of his overly-jolly face and placed him “at attention” outside near the corner of our garage. I was pretty pumped about how incredibly festive he made the small area near the sidewalk look.
The next day I when I went outside to my car, I noticed Floyd was gone.
“What the…?” I looked around panicked, scanning the driveway for his whereabouts. I headed toward the front yard where I found him face down under a large pine tree. “”Ohhhhh….The wind must have blown Floyd under the tree.” I pulled him out from under the pine, carefully brought him over to the house, and lovingly plugged him back in. “Poor guy,” I said, admiring him for a moment before I got into my car and drove away.
A few days later, same thing. I went outside and Floyd was nowhere to be seen. I frantically checked the driveway, front yard, and even crawled under the pine tree. No Floyd.
I ran around one side of the house, then the other. It was then that I spotted Floyd. Weird. How he got as far away as he did was disturbingly strange. This time, he had come loose, rolled all the way around the house, across the yard, and toward the woods that border our back yard.
A bit miffed this time, I carted Floyd across our yard, back to his spot in front of the garage, and plugged him in for the third time. As a safety measure, I moved him closer to the house hoping that he’d be somewhat shielded from the wind.
A few mornings later, Ron went out to start his truck but immediately came back inside. “Diane, you need to come here and look at this.” Even though I was still adorned in my Old Mother Hubbard-style pajamas, I followed Ron out to the driveway where he simply stopped and pointed. “He’s really starting to bug me.” Floyd was, once again loose, but this time he was lodged under Ron’s truck. Of course, he was still wearing that smug smile. “He’s a jerk,” Ron said. “He’s doing this to us on purpose now.”
I personally was sick of the guy, myself. Why weren’t other people’s Christmas decorations blowing defiantly around their yards? Why were we the only family on the street that owned a snowman with an attitude? I am ashamed to admit it, but part of me was actually really beginning to despise him.
After some discussion about accountability and consequences, Ron pried Floyd out from under his truck and dragged him into the garage. We had given Floyd a chance to shine and he blew it. I hope he enjoys spending the rest of the holiday season staring at the dark corner in the back of our garage….unless of course, he somehow manages to get loose and pulls another stunt.
Do you decorate your yard for the holidays? If so, do you enjoy it or do you do it out of obligation or “peer” pressure? Please comment!
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The best thing about it? It’s CALORIE FREE!
I know what this may look like at first glance, but I swear…it’s not what you think.
I was making my “famous” Hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup (really, one of the only things I can actually cook) and had a bit of a mishap. I was transferring the white sauce required for the soup to a larger pot and…kinda missed.
No worries! The moment the dog heard my bloodcurdling profanity, she knew it was the cue to run into the kitchen to see what delicious goodies I had splattered on the floor. Fortunately, unlike the rest of the crew around here, she’s not picky and actually loves the stuff I cook up.
And will you look at that? Moments later, the floor is virtually spotless. You could almost eat off of it, it’s so clean and shiney (and sanitary)! I’m actually thinking about squirting gravy on all of my windows to see if she’ll lap those clean, too.
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I’m very excited to share a guest post from my friend and fellow blogger, Christi. Her unique perspective on life in the “burbs” keeps me glued to her blog, “One Chic Mom’s Adventures in Suburbia.” Be sure to check it out (and don’t forget to welcome her here with a friendly comment!).
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you step off of your treadmill at the gym and two rows behind you spot some guy going at it full throttle on the elliptical machine wearing a black leather jacket zipped up to the neck!! What the hell?! Now I’ve never seen anyone having a workout in leather except for Bono in concert who is always sweating up a storm in his leather jacket and pants. But he’s a rock star! Maybe this guy is a Bono-wanna-be but come on, who wears a leather jacket to work out on an elliptical machine?
When I walked back to my treadmill to wipe it down after my workout, I noticed that the woman next to me was walking barefoot on the treadmill with her shoes neatly lined up next to the machine. Again, what is going on today?! I can see not wearing shoes if you are swimming or in a yoga class, but no shoes on a treadmill is rather odd. And yes, I have read the accounts of the new craze of running barefoot outside which supposedly helps prevent foot injuries. Ouch! I’ll stick to my sneakers both indoors and out thank you. But what is worse? Going barefoot on a nasty treadmill or wearing Crocs or flip flops while lifting weights? I’ve witnessed both at my gym. Hopefully flip-flop wearers have a good grip and don’t drop anything on a naked toe.
Since I’m being so judgmental today about what constitutes proper gym attire, I’ll just continue on with some of the odd workout wear choices I’ve noticed recently. As always, there are the gals in full make-up, dosed with perfume in their expensive coordinated workout outfits. At least they are wearing shoes, albeit costly ones. At the pool a couple of times a year some poor man who is not training for a triathlon will don a Speedo. Cringe! Then there are those folks (men and women alike) who should just not be wearing lycra.
I always love the old men who wear their running shorts mid-thigh with their white tube socks pulled up to their knees. Occasionally (usually during a college break) you’ll get some young and incredibly shapely girl clad only in her sports bra and lycra running shorts. She’s usually paired with her beefy college boyfriend who keeps the gawkers at bay. Sometimes you can spot “youth” wearing their knit black skull caps and very loosely fitting shorts with their music cranked up louder than the already cranked up music blaring on the gym loudspeakers.
One of my all-time favorites is an impressively well-endowed woman in her 30s who runs sans sports bra on the treadmill. She rolls up her tank top, tucks it up under her breasts so everyone is in full view of not only her flopping chest but her roll of stomach spilling out over the top of her shorts. Not a pretty sight, but I see her dressed like that every time so she must be quite comfortable with herself. Maybe that’s what it comes down to. What is your comfort level? Everyone’s is different but some people certainly are more out there than others. But I guess it doesn’t matter what you wear, as long as you are working up a sweat.
Now most members of my fitness club do adhere to the unwritten proper dress code, including myself. But I do have to admit that I’m one of those skinny girls clad in a running top and shorts who is frantically lifting weights to add some muscle weight to my slight frame. Yes, I’ve set myself up for this one so fire away . . .
Christianna Shortridge is a chic suburban Mom who left the rat-race and political fiasco of Washington, DC behind her when she moved to the Twin Cities eight years ago. In addition to driving, feeding, and monitoring her two independent teenagers, one high-maintenance tween, and a very barky Cairn Terrier, she is a freelance writer and owner of her strategic communications and graphic design firm: UnConventionally Yours. Christianna loves blogging about the everyday life of suburban Moms, running 5K races, tending her flower gardens, baking elaborate desserts, and climbing mountains in Japan.
I hope you enjoy one of my popular posts from last fall.
“Hey, Mom. We found a chair and it’s a recliner…and it’s really fuzzy. And it was free. And we thought we could use it when we wanted to play Airsoft…or if we need to chill somewhere. It’s a good chair. So, yeah…call me back when you get this.”
That was the voicemail message Noah left on my phone one afternoon when Ron and I were out running errands. “Eww….” I said to Ron after relaying Noah’s message to him.” I wonder where they found that chair. They better not have brought it home.’ I didn’t call Noah back and assumed that if I didn’t give him permission to bring the chair home, it would end up at a friend’s house instead.
A short time later, we pulled into our driveway and to our delight, we found a stunning, green chair (circa 1974) parked in the second stall of our garage. Noah and his friends were nowhere in sight.
We got out of the car to inspect it. “Gross,” Ron said as we both stood gazing at it. The fabric was seasick green-colored synthetic fuzz probably made from a combination of polyester, nylon, and melted plastic. The piping along the front cushion had worn down to its pallid grayish innards, there was a hole in the back where a button used to be, and the handle that operated the reclining mechanism was hanging precariously by a thread. Taped to the front of the chair was a piece of paper with the word “FREE” scrawled across it in bold Sharpie lettering. As I sized the thing up, I could only imagine how many cans of Billy Beer, Cheetos, and episodes of “All in the Family” this chair had seen in its lifetime.
“Great…what are we going to do with it?” I asked my husband. “It’s disgusting.”
“He’s going to bring it back to where he found it,” Ron responded matter-of-factly.
When we went inside of the house, Noah was sitting at the kitchen counter eating a snack. “What are you planning to do with that chair in the garage?” I asked him point blank.
Noah paused long enough to look up from his Ramen and said, “Me and Jake and Eric are going to take it into the woods and shoot it. You know…with our Airsoft guns. It’s cool.”
“You need to take it back where you found it,” Ron told Noah. “We can’t have that thing sitting around here.”
“I don’t even remember what house we got it from, Dad,” Noah said.
Noah explained that they had discovered the discarded recliner at the edge of some yard off the county road and they were so pumped when they saw it, they didn’t pay attention to where they were when they began hauling it home. Now none of Noah’s friends were around to help him lug it anywhere, anyway. And the clincher was that even if Ron did load the chair into our truck to help Noah get rid of it, our observant teenager didn’t have a clue where it needed to go. What if they ended up chucking it in front of the wrong house? Try explaining why you’re dumping a giant pile of green trash on someone’s yard to the cops.
So, while we tried to figure out a cheap way to get rid of it, the chair sat in the garage. For weeks it sat. Then weeks turned into months. We walked around it. We parked next to it. We moved it across the floor a few times. We stored things like toolboxes or huge bags of water softener salt on it. Finally when Ron got tired of constantly maneuvering the thing around the garage, he pulled it out onto the driveway.
“You still need to get rid of that thing, ” he reminded Noah again and again.
Noah’s chair-hauling posse had been gone for months. The chair never made it to the woods, and to my knowledge no one ever shot it. Now outside, the green albatross endured snow, sleet, rain, and acorn showers. And yup…Greenie was displayed front and center outside our house on the driveway. We were quickly turning in the classiest family in the neighborhood but unfortunately, no one was jealous enough to sneak up and steal the chair.
I know you’re wondering. Why didn’t we just throw the thing out? Well, that would mean a painstaking call to our waste management service and a hefty fee to have it hauled away. I wasn’t ready to fork out money to have trash hauled away that wasn’t ours to being with. So, we just left it there, hoping that it would eventually turn to compost and blow away. But since it was made from some super secret 1970’s indelible material, it didn’t. The chair had pretty much become a lawn ornament and sadly, it had gotten to the point where I barely even noticed anymore.
A few weeks before Stella’s graduation party Ron had finally had enough of the nasty recliner and handed Noah a crowbar, saw, and sledgehammer and said, “Go chop the chair up.”
Noah was ecstatic about this idea and quickly ran to the driveway and set to work. After an hour or so of sawing, hammering, and prying, the chair had been broken down into bite-sized pieces that were easily dropped into our trashcan. The next day, Walters Refuse finally hauled ol’ Greenie away. And the best thing about it was that we didn’t have to pay anything extra to have it done.
Have your kids ever brought anything strange home that you had to deal with? Did you ever do it as a kid?
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