School Lunches and Tiny Houses (a.k.a. things that are bothersome)

School Lunches


Enough already.  Parenting magazine, that means you.  You are supposed to make me feel BETTER about being a mom, not like a complete slacker for packing my kid a PB&J for lunch.  With the crust cut off.  In a CIRCLE, mind you.  I mean, I thought I was a goddamn hero for that.

But, NOOO, then I open your latest issue and see photos like the ones here with a note from the reader that says, “In our house we do themed lunches each week, it’s a great way to get my kids to eat their fruits and veggies.”  – Lucy from Witchita, Kansas



Yeah, well, it’s also a great way to get yourself run over by another mom in the school pick-up line, Lucy.

I wonder about these people and always look at the town where they are from as if that will give me some insight.  Ohhh, they’re from Witchita.  That’s why they have four hours to assemble their kid’s lunch.  I tell myself that if I lived in Witchita I too would create masterpiece lunches.  But then I think, “Well, I live in the woods on a small island where there’s not much to do so really, what’s my excuse?”  Perhaps the fact that I’m not INSANE.



It’s one thing to see these lunches in magazines.  But I work as a sub in our school district so I get to see home lunches firsthand.  And let me tell you, these lunches really do put me to shame.  It’s not so much the artful arranging, as it is what I see kids actually eating.

Lunches filled with fresh fruits, veggies, protein, kale chips, seaweed crackers, five little dark chocolate chips as a treat.  All in perfectly proportioned reusable containers.  And then there is my 8 year old daughter’s lunch…PB&J on white bread, goldfish, ACTUAL chocolate for a treat.  Mostly in (gulp) disposable baggies.   Just ban me from this island right now.   Sometimes I scan the classroom at lunchtime to see if any other kid has a ziploc baggie and I feel a pathetic sense of relief when I spot one.  Hey, other baggie mom…reveal yourself and perhaps we can be friends.

So as a result of watching all these kids devouring healthy foods, I’ve vowed to do better.  I bought “whole grain” cheddar goldfish and put them in a baggie so my daughter wouldn’t see the box.  She took one bite of the goldfish and promptly stated, “Something’s wrong with these goldfish.  They taste weird.”  I bought wheat bread instead of white bread and told her it was the same but they just used brown sugar instead of white sugar.  That actually worked until my 14 year old walked in and said, “Ugh.  Why did you buy WHEAT bread?”  Foiled again.

So I decided to try peer pressure.  I told Ava about all the kids lunches that I see when I’m working and that her lunch is just embarrassing and that every day she must take a fruit or vegetable.  The other morning she made her lunch herself and put it in her backpack.

Me:  “Let me see your lunch.  Did you pack any fruit or veggies?”

Ava:  “No.”

Me:  “Here’s a bag of strawberries.  Put them in your lunchbox.”

Ava:  “Do I actually have to EAT them?  Can’t I just stand up and wave them around so people will see them and just THINK you’re a good mom?”

Touché, my child. Touché.


Tiny Houses


I recently watched a show on HGTV called Tiny House Hunters.  Perhaps you’ve heard of this trend sweeping the nation of people giving up most of their possessions and moving into a home roughly the size of a large sport utility vehicle.  Seriously, I’m not talking Manhattan apartment small, I’m talking 180 square feet usually consisting of a kitchen, living area and bathroom “downstairs” and a sleeping loft “upstairs” that no one over the age of four can stand up in.

What struck me most funny about this show is that for 30 minutes I watched the hipster couple that was purchasing a tiny house complain incessantly about how small everything was.  Seriously?  I mean, it is LITERALLY called a Tiny House…have you never actually seen the show you are now ON?

“Hmm…there’s not much storage in the kitchen.  And there’s no dishwasher.”   That’s because you were supposed to have purged all your kitchen luxuries…like pots & pans, dishes and utensils.  Get with the program, people.

“Wow, the stove only has one burner.”   So?  Are you planning on cooking a meal for six people?  Because six people cannot fit in your tiny house.  You will need to purge most of your friends along with your possessions.

Then this couple climbs up the ladder to the (tiny) loft area where they begin walking around furiously on their knees.  Which in itself was funny.

“We need two offices.   Where will we put our offices?”  I actually laughed out loud at that one.   Dude, you’ve got room for two sleeping bags and one crate to put all of your hemp clothing in.   Where will your OFFICES go??   It is quite clear now you have both somehow stumbled onto the wrong show.

And on and on it went.  I wish I had a dollar for every time the word “tiny, small or tight” was spoken during the 30 minute show.  Super annoying.

The couple was buying a tiny house under the guise of saving money.   Oh, you young and naive millennials…here is why that will not happen.

1.  Restaurant expenses.  Eventually, one of you is going to want a two-burner meal.

2.  Laundry expenses.  No washer and dryer means you need a laundromat to wash all your locally made, organic flannel shirts and beanies.  Then again, do millennials even do laundry?  Or is that too “Generation X”?

3.  I need to get the hell away from you before I kill you in your sleep so I’m going to a bar expenses.

4.  Therapy bills.  For so many obvious reasons.

I guarantee you there will never be a “where are they now?” update on that show.  Clearly, we all know where they are now….divorced.  And possibly hunchbacked from their tiny loft offices.  That’s how we will recognize all these people in the future…a bunch of 40 year olds stooped over in faded flannels with a wild eyed look from the trauma of living in a tiny house.  In a few years HGTV can launch another show, “Road trip across America – the search for abandoned tiny houses and their people.”  I’d watch that.




Silly Amazon!

A couple of months ago, our UPS driver, Cheryl, pulled up our driveway for our near-daily Amazon delivery.  Hey, I live on an island convenient to nothing…don’t judge.   I opened the large box to find the following items:

  1. Mens tactical pants, size 46×37
  2. Four large tubes of Kirkland Signature hydrocortisone
  3. High-end Shure earphones
  4. A plastic ID badge holder
  5. Fancy mens underwear, size XXL


Thoroughly puzzled, I stared down at the items and considered two possibilities:

1.  Was my husband was leading a double life?  Computer geek by day, bounty hunter with multiple itchy rashes by night?  Yet, though my husband is a very tall guy…he is by no means a size 46×37.  Could he have grown several inches taller without me noticing?  Can 45 year old adults grow?  Is there hope for me yet??  I’m getting off track.  But just to give you an idea about the size of these pants, here they are next to a pair of my jeans, which look like toddler pants in comparison…


While mulling this over, I realized something.   I could possibly believe my husband was a very large nighttime bounty hunter.  I could maybe believe he was hiding secret rashes from me.  But I’ve known the man since he was 17 years old and he has never, ever, bought his own underwear.  Let alone fancy “Vibe” underwear.   So I went with the other possibility:

2.  Amazon had made a mistake.

I called my husband first.

“Hi, did you order extremely large tactical pants, lots of anti-itch cream, nice earphones, fancy underwear and an ID badge holder from Amazon?”

“Umm….that would be a NO.”

“Ok, thanks.”

I called Amazon next and explained the situation.  I gave them all the information from the packing slip, expecting the situation to be resolved within minutes.  After multiple holds, the representative informed me that they could not find any record of the order.

“So what does that mean?  What am I supposed to do with this stuff?” I asked.

“You can either keep it or throw it away, ma’am.”

“What?  You don’t want it back?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Seriously?  You’re going to let me keep $100 earphones?  Someone must have paid for these and obviously didn’t get their order.”

“We have no record of the order, ma’am.  You can keep the items or throw them away.  Do you have any other questions?”

“Wow.  Ok.   Yes, I do have another question.  Why are you guys selling Kirkland Signature hydrocortisone?  I thought you could only get Kirkland Signature stuff at Costco?  It was very confusing seeing a Costco product in an Amazon box.”

“Uh, I don’t really know, ma’am.”

“Oh, ok.  Thanks.”

So we scored an awesome pair of earphones, surprisingly handy anti-itch cream that we used all summer long on mosquito bites, and some other random stuff that made for a new blog post.  But every once in a while, I still wonder if there is a giant, itchy, man wandering around badgeless and possibly commando, looking for his Amazon order.  And I hope he never tracks it down, because frankly, I am terrified of that guy.

No more than a couple of weeks after this happened, I ordered this shirt from Amazon for my son, a huge Office fan, in a size mens small:


Forty-eight hours later, this is what I received in a size mens XXL:


WTF?  Another phone call to Amazon, many apologies on their part, they are shipping me out another one immediately, please keep the shirt.

Twenty-four hours later, this shows up at my door.  Again.


I call Amazon and inform them they appear to have a slight production problem.  More apologies, please keep the shirt (gee, thanks, but I already have one), advises that I wait a couple of weeks and then re-order because it may take some time to fix the issue.

So I wait a few weeks and then order the original shirt again, holding my breath as I opened the package.  And…three strikes and we’re out, folks!   Yep, we are now the owners of THREE XXL ADD shirts.  And no Michael Scott shirts.  I give up.

Oh, Amazon, you silly retailer you, I still love you and even thank you for all the amusement.  I can’t wait to see what will show up at my doorstep next.



Oh, Brother!

So if you happen to be one of the fabulous five or so people who read my blog, you know that my humor is typically self-deprecating.  I try to restrain myself from poking fun at the people in my life, lest I be removed from any wills or get sued by my third cousins for slander.  But today an opportunity has presented itself with a certain individual and I have decided that I cannot restrain myself any longer.  Let me introduce you to my brother.

Matthew is 4 years younger than I and I’d say growing up we had the typical sibling relationship.  I was mean.  He would cry.  I hid all the good snacks from him.  He would cry.  I sang Debbie Gibson songs loudly in the car.  He would cry.  You know, normal stuff.

And then there is the not-so-normal stuff.   Like the fact that nearly all my childhood memories of my brother involve him being in some sort of injured state.  To say he was accident prone is the understatement of the year.

I don’t even remember how many times, just on our own little street, I would hear a crash, a cry, and then see my brother in a heap on the sidewalk next to his instrument of demise, be it a bicycle, skateboard, or large crack in the sidewalk.   “MOM!  MATTHEW’S BLEEDING!”  I would scream as I ran up the driveway, screen door slamming shut as I burst through the front door.  I think his entire head was stitched together by the time he was 10.

But those everyday injuries were nothing compared to the vacation injuries…my brother literally ruined every single trip we ever took.  Growing up, I thought it was normal for people to fill out an “incident report” at each place they stayed.

Let’s see, there was the time we went skiing in Minnesota and my brother put his boots on backwards.  Within two hours of us arriving our family was huddled in the infirmary listening to my brother being diagnosed with frostbite on both feet.  Putting an abrupt end to our epic Minnesota ski adventure.


Or how about the time we traveled from New York to California and he had not one but TWO hospital visits on our trip?  We were staying in Los Angeles doing the whole Universal Studios/Hollywood thing.  We were at the hotel pool and my brother and I were swimming as my parents lounged poolside.  Suddenly I hear my brother yell, “Mom!  Dad!  Watch this!” as he is standing on the side of the pool with his back to the edge.  He proceeds to do a back flip into the pool but didn’t jump far enough out and somehow ends up ramming his head into the concrete of the pool wall upon surfacing.

I remember seeing all the water around us just turn red.  My parents yank my brother out of the pool and people are giving us towels to stop the bleeding and there is just blood everywhere.  Someone says there is a hospital across the street and so the four of us take off on foot, with my dad carrying my brother in his arms, and proceed to run in our dripping wet bathing suits across Wilshire Boulevard to the hospital.  These are my vacation memories, people!




So my brother gets all stitched up and a couple of days later we head down to San Diego to see the sights.

And, I kid you not, this is what happens.  We are in the hotel room and my dad and brother are tossing around a nerf football.  Probably because we can’t swim anymore because Matthew has stitches in his head.   My dad throws the ball, my brother jumps and twists to catch it and suddenly he is down.  Whimpering on the ground.  And he cannot move his neck.  At all.   So guess where we go?   You got it…lucky us, we get to see the inside of yet ANOTHER California hospital.  Where they proceed to fit my 9 year old brother with a full neck brace.


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A couple of days later, outfitted with stitches and a stylin’ neck brace, we head off to the final stop on our West Coast adventure…Las Vegas.  Miraculously, I don’t remember my brother being injured in Las Vegas but he did get his stitches removed by our Uncle Charlie Darienzo, the best family doctor there ever was!



This blog is getting long and I’ve yet to get to the catalyst for this topic.  I wish I could say that this was a childhood quirk of my brother’s but unfortunately, his propensity for crazy emergency/medical situations followed him straight into adulthood.

I mean, I haven’t even touched on the time when we were teenagers and the Abramowiczs came to visit us in California and nearly everyone in the house was struck by a horrible 24 hour stomach virus over the course of the week.   But out of all of us that were inflicted, young and old alike, only ONE of us called 911 because he thought that he might actually DIE.



Or the summer we went to the Jersey Shore for a week and my brother got a piece of glass lodged in his foot our first day there and then proceeded to get stung by a jellyfish later that week.  A million people in the water and the jellyfish picks him.

Who can forget when he went on vacation to Hawaii with his wife and ended up with food poisoning (which would have been bad enough for a normal person) but no, my brother had to take it to the next level.  He passed out in the hotel bathroom from being so sick, cracking his head open on the marble floor in the process.  One staple gun to the head, two bags of IV fluids and 8 hours in the ER later, and the vacation was complete.

And the list goes on.  I mean, who gets rescued from drowning by a lifeguard on a FIRST DATE AT THE BEACH?  Yep, that would also be my brother.  Somehow the girl ended up marrying him despite that little misadventure.


Which brings us to today.   That same girl, my sister-in-law of 15 years, sent a video to our family the other day.  Of a situation that could ONLY happen to my brother.  My now 41 year old brother, mind you.

I will preface this by saying that one thing my brother and I have in common is that we are both germaphobes.   I’m quite sure neither of us has touched an elevator button or public restroom door knob in 20 years.  Well, apparently, my brother was at Whole Foods and needed an antibacterial wipe.   No big deal.  Can’t think of how many times I’ve popped one out of the box for a myriad of purposes.

What I have never done, however, is been legitimately injured doing so.  No, I have never gotten my finger so completely stuck in the top of an antibacterial wipes tub that after several failed attempts to dislodge it, I had to be completely surrounded by five Whole Foods employees trying to assist me.  For 15 minutes.  While my wife is filming through the window outside.  No, this is something that could ONLY happen to, you guessed it – my brother.



When I received the text and video, I happened to be standing at my daughters bus stop, waiting for the bus.  Picture a woman, standing alone, who suddenly starts laughing loudly and maniacally, over and over, legs crossed in an obvious attempt not to pee her pants.

Honestly,  I could keep going, but I think you get the point.   So here’s the part where, after making endless fun of my brother, I should probably say something nice about him.  Like the fact that if he didn’t have such a great sense of humor, I would never be able to publish this.   And the fact that, despite his “quirks”, my brother is incredibly kind, smart and funny…a guy that would give you the shirt off his back.  He would never take the shirt off your back, because, you know, germs.

And I would never actually tell my little brother this (I can speak freely here since he doesn’t read my blog, he only reads boring business articles) but since moving away from our families three years ago, he may just be the person I miss the most.  Life with him has always been an adventure and I hope we get to have some more one of these days, incident reports and all.