Category Archives: suburbs

An Elf Conundrum and Teacher Gifts

I’ve got a dilemma. An Elf dilemma. I’ve said before that I totally agree with Jenn about the uber-Elf-mommies. And you all know how I feel about our underachieving Elf on the Shelf. I love him. He does the best he can with what he’s been given. After all, we can’t all be the sharpest knife in the drawer. To his credit, though, he’s given us some real gems this month.
Case 1: The Elf appeared on the shelf in the hallway just outside R and V’s rooms. Boys were taking care of showers, brushing teeth, etc. Normal bedtime stuff. All of a sudden we hear a scream, then a smack, and then all hell breaks loose in the hallway. The spouse and I went running and got the boys separated (one in pajamas, the other buck naked, having a tug of war with a wet bath towel). V – the one crying – wails, “R tried to pull off my towel so the Elf would see me naked!” Guess R wasn’t thinking that the Elf would also report his behavior back to Santa.
Case 2: Spouse had gotten fed up with R and V trying to get out of brushing their teeth, so the Elf appeared in the boys’ bathroom the other morning. The result: both kids refused to go in there ALL DAY. I finally caved and got their toothbrushes out so they could brush their teeth – in the kitchen. And the toilet? Forgattabout it. The four of us shared the one in our bathroom ALL DAY LONG. Spouse has backed off using the Elf to try and prove a point. Lesson learned.
So here’s my conundrum. R and V have been seriously challenged in the behavior department this week. I’m tired. I want a quick fix to the random dirty socks and juice boxes I’ve been finding in weird places every time I turn around. Last night the boys left a note for Austin (they named the Elf). I’m really tempted to take a leaf from my friend’s book and have our elf write a letter like this one back:

Should I do it? Part of me really wants to just to send a message. We’ll see. We’ll just see how much Elf energy I have left tonight after running my errands, long commute home to the ‘burbs and R/V energy.
What errands do I have to run tonight, you may ask? Well, I’ve been pretty smug about having finished all of my shopping last week. Then last night it hit me. Two days left of school. Crap. Teacher Gifts. And for me, a former teacher, to NOT send teacher gifts is right up there with the seven deadly sins.
I have to take a minute and talk about teacher gifts here. Really. With all honesty, the most precious gifts I ever received from children were the handmade cards, notes, pictures and random crafts. I have an entire scrapbook of these treasures that I’ve saved over the years. I’d be willing to bet that any teacher worth their salt feels the same.
So why do some mommies feel the need to go all Pinstrosity on this? It’s like a competition. Seriously – one year I got a hand-painted ceramic popcorn bowl with each kid’s name on it. When I looked closer, I realized that the mom had gotten each kid’s thumbprint and painted them to look like kernels of popcorn next to their names. I’m not kidding on this. I’ve known teachers who have gotten Coach purses for gifts. Me? This year I’m resorting to gift cards, and that’s OK. But I have to stop here and give a list of the most interestinggifts I’ve ever gotten from kids and their parents:

Top Ten Teacher Gifts
A Sacred Heart candle (We’re not Catholic, so I had no idea what this was or what to do with it. I think I offended the kid when I said it would look nice on my fireplace mantel.)
A copy of the Book of Mormon
Pajamas – not the flannel kind, these were more of a sexy babydoll set.
A bottle of wine – yes, a real one. The AP freaked out and made me take it immediately to my car so that I wouldn’t get busted for having alcohol on school property.
Some sweet-tasting Jolly Rancher flavored lip gloss
Lip plumper – sensing a theme here.
Jewelry – the kid said it was his mom’s, and I thought that was sweet. Until the mom showed up at school. Turned out the kid had ‘borrowed’ the necklace without asking.
A Spec’s gift card – Spec’s is a local liquor store.
-and of course-

A really lovely Christmas sweater, embroidered with silver thread, seed pearls and sequins.

One thing about teaching – it’s never a dull moment!

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Filed under Elf on the Shelf, Moms, Pinstrosity, suburbs, Teacher Gifts, working moms

A Secret Motherlode

I have a confession. Ready? Even though I love the city, the culture, being downtown, local markets, off-the-beaten-path places, etc. etc. etc. – part of me can’t let go of the ‘burbs entirely. After all, I was raised in suburbia. Granted, my parents considered that the ‘Big City’, considering they grew up in a town of 1100, but still… My hometown was in the suburbs. And that’s where I live now, albeit a different suburb of a completely different Big City. Not necessarily by choice – as my blog description tells you – but by situation. The Spouse and I went round and round on that one when we bought our house twelve years ago. I was all for the in-town loft, he wanted the white picket fence just in case we had kids someday.

Guess where we still are? Yup. Actually, the fence is brown, but you get the idea.

Anyhoo, one of the suburban quirks that I can’t let go of is my love of Target. It’s a problem. I go in for one thing and come out with a cartload. I’ve actually been banned from the dollar section. Seriously. If I were a hoarder that would be my downfall. So what’s the problem? I hate suburban Targets. I do. See, they’re always full of suburban mommies – many of them SAHM’s – but that’s not the problem. If I could stay home, I would. The issue is the type of suburban mommies that congregate there. You know the ones. The ones who have a few minutes between tennis and the mani-pedi. The ones who get all done up in the latest Miss Me jeans and Jimmy Choos – in full makeup and hair – with toddlers in tow.

I’m sorry, but when my kids were toddlers I was doing good to get to Target in actual clothes and not pajamas. Forget showering, makeup and hair. I have no idea where these women get the time and energy to do that.

So, given my love of Target, you can imagine my glee when a coworker told me about the Secret Target near the office. It’s less than a block from the highway, yet completely invisible from the access road. If you weren’t looking for it you would never know it was there. And I’ve been there many times since my first excursion. It’s awesome! Since it’s in the middle of the city, near the bus line and surrounded by apartments there’s always plenty of parking. The only issue I’ve had with the parking lot is that apparently people call cabs when they decided to go buy furniture – so there’s at least one cab waiting at the front on any given day. But that’s just a minor annoyance. Nothing like the ten SUV’s parked at the curb at my neighborhood Target. Inside, the good stuff is hardly ever picked over and decimated the way the ‘burby Targets get. I’ve found the size I was looking for every single time I’ve looked for clothes.


Even this week, two weeks before Christmas, I only waited in the checkout line for three minutes. THREE MINUTES! Stupendous.

Granted, they let me down in two areas today:

1 – One of the items I was looking for was priced at double the amount Amazon wanted me to pay. Strike One.

2 – Today I was slowed down by the umpteen businessmen with shopping carts wandering aimlessly around, staring vacantly. Suggestion – have a big Man-Sized Map for Lost Guys. Big enough and bright enough so that men won’t have to wander or actually ask for directions.

What’s your secret spot?? Do tell!

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Filed under Moms, Secret places, shopping, suburbs, Target


I’ve always been taught that you shouldn’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it. Can’t remember any other cute little sayings my mom may have used over the years, but you get the idea. And I totally agree. That’s part of being an ethical, honest human being, right? Right. And if you make mistakes, the right thing to do is own it and fix it, right? Right.

I’m a hypocrite.

See, here’s the deal. We all have pet peeves. We do. Even if you don’t think you do – you do. That ONE thing that irritates you more than anything else and will take you to your last nerve if you let it? That’s a pet peeve. And one of my biggest pet peeves is cutters. You know them. Those people who see you heading to the checkout line and make a speedy beeline to get there before you. The ones who are more obvious and just shove in line at the movies. We’ve all seen them. Well, the ones who bug me the most are the drivers. The ones who drive past the ‘lane closed’ sign – the bright orange one – just like you do. But do they move over? No. They whiz on past, waiting until the absolute last inch of available lane and then force their way over in front of you. Do they realize that they are the traffic issue? That they’re the reason the rest of the roadway comes to a complete stop? Maybe. I’m sure some do. Anyhoo, I HATE it. True, strong, self-righteous hate.

I have to duck my head when I say this, but I’ve become one of them.

Not all of the time, mind you. Just sometimes. I used to be militant about following the letter of the law, common sense and unwritten driving courtesy. So much that I almost needed a sign for the top of the car screaming, ‘SEE??! I”M DOING THE RIGHT THING!!’

Not anymore. I’m ducking my head in shame here, but I’ve gotta be honest.

I cut in traffic.

Only in ONE location, during ONE part of my commute, and ONLY in the morning. See? Here I am trying to make it sound better – like I’m not a filthy hypocrite… But I am. I’ll explain… My morning commute averages about 45 minutes. Sometimes less, but sometimes a lot more – like up to an hour and 15 minutes. Seriously. But I’m a mom. I live in the ‘burbs. I can only leave so early – somehow I think the school would complain if I sent my kids to the bus stop an hour early. Or my neighbors would when the early-morning wrestling started down at the corner. So I’m limited on my start time.

Most of the drive is OK. I’m patient and try to be a good citizen, letting people in my lane, etc. But once I get to the bottleneck, all bets are off. There’s one spot on my route that comes to a complete stop. And there’s the dilemma. I could stay in my assigned lane, which is always much slower and longer due to poor planning down the road. I could. And I did for a long time – until I started being late to work. I hate being late. Also, this is a new job, so I’m still building trust, etc. I don’t want to get the ‘late’ label. No way.

So, I move over. Into the faster-moving, non-exit lane. And I creep up on the left, wait for my opportunity and some kindhearted soul who will let me over, and sweep into the correct lane. In front of all the law-abiding citizens who are silently waving their fists at me. But it saves me 10-15 minutes of drive time every day. And for this working mom, that’s a gold mine…

Like I said, this is probably trivial to most of you (or the five of you who read this), but I like to walk the talk. I try, anyway. So I had to be honest and get this off my chest.

Whew! What are your pet peeves??

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Filed under commuting, ethics, Pet peeves, suburbs, Traffic, working moms