You didn’t ask, but here’s what I think

What have I been doing besides cursing Gmail?  Well, watching “American Idol,” of course. 

I’m also reading Peace Like a River which is hogging all my spare time.  And I’m busy fixing snacks for my daughter who asks for, but does not eat, a snack every fifteen minutes, including the meatloaf she rejected at dinnertime.  She wanted it right before bed . . . but did not eat it.  Tonight, I was reclined on my bed, reading and she came flopping in, asking me to get her water bottle downstairs.  I said, “No, I’m too tired!” and she said, “No, I’m more tired than you.”  (I won the argument, just so you know.)

By the way, I think Lisa Rinna seems like a lovely, if overly-perky woman, but whenever I see her on television (a lot lately, due to “Dancing with the Stars”), I cannot stop staring at her upper lip.  I know.  I am shallow and I should be half the beauty she is.  But still.  STOP WITH THE LIP ENHANCEMENTS, YOU HOLLYWOOD STARS!  (If her lips are natural, I extend my most sincere apologies for my judgmental attitude.)

Sometimes, I feel like the most ancient woman in the world . . . especially when I read other mothers asking “how do I make my toddler son stop hitting me?”  Really?  Seriously?  YOU JUST DO!  I fear for our society in which mothers can’t figure out how to make little ones obey.  Pick up the kid, shout “NO!”, deposit him in his room.  No fuss, no muss.  Rinse and repeat.  Or, if you are opposed to shouting, stand up, walk out of the room and ignore the little ankle-biter.  Just be consistent.  Geez.  Do not tolerate misbehavior.  Either I have turned into a curmudgeon or I am the victim of hormones.  I think it’s the former.  I’m also old and will not tolerate tomfoolery. 

That is all.  Carry on.  

No, really? (And a note to Britney Spears.)

Britney is divorcing Kevin.  Big surprise, huh?  Suddenly, I’m a pop-culture blog, determined to be the first to mention it to you.  Ha.

p.s.  Britney, next time around, you might consider not sleeping with a married man who already has a pregnant wife and a child and perhaps even not sleeping with someone unless you are already married to him.  Having sex outside of marriage tends to cloud one’s judgment, if you ask me.  Not that you did ask me, but you should have.  Next time you’re thinking of tying the knot, email me.

Irreconcilable Differences

I must have the smartest, most thoughtful readers on the internet.  Did you read all those great comments on the post below?  (And I’m not just talking about the ones who complimented me, though that was great.  Thanks!)

I pity those who discard a marriage after such brief attempts.  (Yes, Jessica Simpson, I’m talking to you.  And Tori Spelling?  What is wrong with you women?!)  Do these people not know that joy comes in faithfulness and in long-term commitment?  Whatever happened to delayed gratification?

Judy understands what it’s like to be in a marriage chock full of irreconcilable differences.  When I read Judy’s blog last night, I knew I had to share it here . . . it’s the perfect accompaniment to my last post, kind of like Diet Coke with Lime is the perfect drink with fat-free popcorn.  

So, go read.  Laugh and nod.  Thank me later.

Free Advice for Katharine McPhee and the Newscasters

So last night Katharine McPhee sang an entire song on American Idol while writhing on her knees. While I appreciated her blue toenail polish, I found her performance disconcerting. Why the knees? Why the floor? Why?

I wanted Katharine to stand up. Just stand.

On the other hand, the local newscasters, as well as national newscasters, have begun to stand through the entire newscast. I wish they would just sit down. Their casual standing delivery of the news forces me to change the channel because I cannot stand to watch them stand.

So, to sum up:

1) Singers should not kneel. They should stand.
2) Newscasters should not stand. They should sit.

Pass along the word. Thank you.

Open Letter to Swiffer

Dear Swiffer:

I want to love you, Swiffer. I do. I like your convenience. I like your fresh, fake scent. I like the disposable nature of your cleaning pads.

But Swiffer, we do not see eye to eye. Why, you ask? Well, because, Swiffer, you are too short.

I’m taller than the average American woman, true. I stand five feet, seven inches tall, while the average American woman is only five feet, four inches tall. When I use you, Swiffer, I must bend at an awkward angle, an angle that screams, “CALL THE CHIROPRACTOR!” I don’t have the heart to tell my lower back that I don’t have a chiropractor.

What I need is a longer Swiffer, a sturdier Swiffer, a Swiffer who can rise to the occasion. Please. I want to love you! I want to devote myself to you! But you make it difficult.

So, please, grow up a little. Grow a spine. Grow taller. Get some hair on your chest. (Oh, wait, I’m drifting off topic now.) I’m just saying that if you want me to cherish you, you have to do your part.

(I won’t even mention how sexist it is that Swiffer is completely aimed at a woman consumer. An average American man at five feet, nine inches tall would cry out from back pain like a baby girl if he attempted to vigorously scrub the kitchen floor with your woefully inadequate too-short handle.)

Please, please answer my pleas. My back begs you. Don’t make me go back to an old-fashioned mop.

Love and kissesSincerely,
Mel

Fashion Advice You Must Heed

Nordstrom sells them.

Target sells them.

My mother used to wear them.

But I will not. Ever. Never ever. No gauchos. No culottes, even if you spell it “c-o-u-l-o-t-t-e-s.”

Some fashion trends must be resisted, rejected, refused. Join me. Please.

Because if you don’t, you realize what we’ll have to wear next, don’t you?

High-waisted jeans. Then pretty soon, we’ll all be wearing leg-warmers and ripped sweatshirts and headbands, and not in a cute-Reese-Witherspoon way, and really, do you want to go there?

At Last

It is finished.

The Christmas Letter, that is. Tomorrow I’ll take it to Kinko’s for color copying (oh, yes, it’s oh-so-fancy). Now, I think I’m ready for Christmas. Well, unless you count Christmas cookies–to bake or not to bake, that is the question–and buying gifts for the church staff. Oh, and a present for my husband.

By the way, my mother and I are Christmas Cookie Snobs. We can’t help it. We agreed the other night: chocolate chip cookies are simply not Christmas cookies. And if your sugar coookies aren’t made with butter and powdered sugar, you aren’t making them right. In fact, if you use those Pillsbury rolls of premade dough, I’m afraid I’m going to have to suspend your Christmas Cookie Baking License.

I’m just saying.

Doling Out Mustard Wisely

As some of you know, I did not fall to the floor in sticky mirth while watching the bonafide hit movie The 40-Year Old Virgin. Aside from the fact that I don’t find the idea of a 40-year old virgin particularly hilarious or mock-worthy, I was offended by the overuse of the f-word. I read that that word was used 68 times during the course of the movie. I think that’s excessive.

I realize that I am in a teeny-tiny minority on this matter.

A particular blogging friend (who shall remain nameless, at least until she consents to being quoted) sent an email with this remark: “I was telling [my 16-year old son] about Mel not liking the word ‘f*ck’ and he said, ‘Oh, she’s one of thoooose’ (hehehehe) then he went on to say, ‘”F*ck” is an enhancer, it’s like adding mustard to a hot dog.’ Well, there ya go.”

And that sort of sums up my point. Would you put mustard on everything? Say you’re at a fancy dinner party eating lobster and asparagus quiche . . . do you douse it with mustard? Say you’re eating cookies with your three-year-old. Do you frost them with mustard?

Mustard on spaghetti?
Mustard on eggs?
Mustard on pudding?
Mustard in orange juice?
Mustard on shrimp-fried rice?

No. You do not.

I like mustard as much as the next girl. Occasionally, that is. I also use a thesaurus full of other condiments. (When my twins were toddlers, once they had ketchup for lunch. Just ketchup. I thought you’d like to know.) Why limit yourself to mustard when there is a whole wide world of sauces, condiments and flavorings?

Please, people, use your condiments wisely. Otherwise, the whole wide world will reek like a hot dog stand and we don’t need that now, do we?

Open Letter to Nick Jr. Television Programmers

Dear Mr. and Ms. Nick Jr. Television Programmers:

Imagine my horror yesterday when I realized that my daughter’s favorite show, “Max & Ruby” wasn’t showing at 1:00 p.m., aka NAPTIME. I have carefully spun a delicate, intricate spider’s web of a schedule, which you just swiped your hands through, Mr. and Ms. Programmers, when you blotted this darling show from the schedule. You plunged your hand through my fragile schedule and now . . . now, naptime has become a juggle of exploding grenades. I hope the sticky strands of my former naptime schedule stick to your eyelashes and render you temporarily blind.

Oh, sure, I am smarter than I look. I already purchased a video tape of the show in question. But that’s not good enough for a two year old who believes in the immutability of television programming. She doesn’t want to watch “the funny rabbit show” in her room, oh no. She wants to watch it from my king-sized bed, on my television, on the television which does not have a VCR attached. Have you tried to fool a two year old? Have you attempted reasoning with such an unreasonable creature? I thought not.

So, please, I’m begging you. Just put “Max & Ruby” back where it belongs. Restore my faith in humanity. Have mercy upon a mother who needs a smooth naptime routine. If you don’t march back in there and do what I say this second, you’ll have to go sit in the Naughty Chair. And believe me, that’s not as fun as it sounds!

Bring back “Max & Ruby.” Don’t make a grown woman cry.

Don’t Mess With Me: I Have Stamps and I’m Not Afraid to Use Them

A couple of years ago, we had our mortgage refinanced. The mortgage company set up our account to hold funds in escrow for our home owner’s insurance and our taxes.

A year later, a representative from my insurance company called and politely requested that we remit the $441.00 we owed for our policy.

“Oh,” I said, “Our mortgage company is responsible for that payment.”

“Oh,” she said, “They said they weren’t and that we should call you.”

“Oh,” I said, “Let me call them and get this straightened out.”

I called my mortgage company and the customer service representative was unhelpful, but did notice that they failed to withhold the funds. Oops, they said. Sorry. We’ll fix that and you’ll have to pay the insurance company yourself.

We live on a very tight budget and at the time, I did not have an extra $441.00 lurking in my bank account or my pockets or even under the couch cushions. I can’t remember how I managed to scrape together the cash, but I was irked at having to do so.

I used to work in customer service in the correspondence department, and I know a thing or two about writing a compelling letter to a company. I whipped up a complaint letter. I asked that they “make me happy.” I demanded an apology and a refund of my $441.00. I did this all in a tone so sweet it could give you a cavity.

Some numbskull called a month or so later. As I recall, I was holding my infant daughter while she cried and he explained to me that there was nothing he could do for me. I said, “Well, let me talk to your supervisor.” He left me dangling on hold for a while, then returned and said, “My supervisor says this is our regular procedure and there’s nothing we can do.”

“Then send my letter to your supervisor and tell her that I want a written response that makes me happy.”

I never heard back.

About six months later, I sent a second polite letter, decrying the insurance company’s lack of responsiveness, describing my unhappiness. I asked again for $441.00 and an apology. In writing. I am unable to accept phone calls during the day as I am busy taking care of two babies, I wrote.

Soon after, I received a phone call. My annoyance abated when the customer service representative asked for a copy of the $441.00 bill. I mailed it in. And never heard back from them.

Six months later, give or take, I sent another letter, still polite, more insistent, suggesting that I would never be able to refer anyone to this particular insurance company if they did not make me happy. I received a generic response telling me they were researching my issue and that they’d respond within three weeks.

Another six months passed. I wrote yet another letter, attaching my previous letters. This time, I researched the name of the company’s president and including a notation at the bottom “cc: President’s Name.” (I didn’t actually send a carbon copy, though–I figured just the idea of him getting a copy would motivate them.)

Yesterday, I received a phone call from the office of the company’s president. She explained my problem (as if I were clueless) and said, “So, we could reimburse you the $441.00 from your escrow account, but then you’d have a negative balance in that account.”

I said, “NO! I don’t want the money to come from MY account. I want the money to come from the company’s account to compensate me for my inconvenience. This was not my mistake. This was your mistake.”

So, she offered to reimburse half the amount to me.

I agreed. (Now, I think I should have held out for the whole amount.)

Don’t mess with this housewife. I have a computer, a printer and a supply of postage stamps and I’m not afraid to use them. If you are a company who crosses me, I will prevail or bug you until I die trying because at some point, composing demand letters highlighting your incompetence and demanding satisfaction becomes a hobby to me. Your “no” only means I need to talk to someone higher in the food chain at your company.

Persistence pays. And so does my mortgage company. Ha.