The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: top 50 mom blogs (page 1 of 2)

Tricks volunteer coordinators don’t want you to know.

Earlier this week we discussed some creative ideas for how to avoid getting roped into excessive volunteering. If you missed it, click here to get the low-down. It’s mandatory reading for anyone who wants to protect their free time and learn new ways of saying “no.”

Here are some highlights to help you review:

  • Expect that you WILL be asked to volunteer.
  • Be mentally prepared for these requests and have a well rehearsed way of saying “no” (or “no thank you,” or “AW HAYLE NO, Beeyotch!”).
  • Avoid eye contact with anyone wearing a name tag or carrying a clip board.
  • We all have a right to say no. Flex those “No Muscles!” Saying no gets easier the more you do it (so I’ve been told).

I can tell by all the wonderful comments from my last post that this topic really touched a nerve. So glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this issue!

Today, let’s continue the conversation and address some specific strategies people use to trick or coerce us into volunteering. Knowledge is power, my friends! If we can spot a manipulation tactic in play, we’ll be better able to flex those No Muscles and make a speedy getaway.

The most prevalent strategy of course is guilt. If you have a Jewish or Catholic mother, you are already well aware of this time-honored tactic. It works. Volunteer coordinators are experts at making others feel sorry for them and/or ashamed for not doing enough to help. Learn to recognize a guilt trip when you see it so you can protect yourself from being manipulated.

Some typical mannerisms associated with guilt-trippers include heavy sighing, slumping, and a general aura of disappointment or disapproval. They like to play the victim role. Woe is them!

Don’t buy into it! Or as my Mama says, “Not mine.”

Sadly, easier said than done.

The other day I was attending a meeting (mistake numero uno) at one of my kids’ schools when into the room burst Valerie Volunteer! She was clearly under duress. She had that look… like a cross between a deer in the headlights and a ticking time bomb. Crazy like a fox, that lady. So there she sat, lip slightly quivering, a catch in her voice, and asking for volunteers to please help her facilitate the upcoming Fall Festival. I know I should have averted my eyes, or looked busy, or pretended I just sharted, but I was completely glued to the unfolding drama.

Long story short: what has a filthy kitchen floor, unwritten freelance assignments, two gigantic thumbs, and spent two hours last weekend wrapping 32 shoe boxes to hold silent auction raffle tickets for the Fall Festival? This gal:

Live and learn, eh?

The next volunteer manipulation tactic we should be on the lookout for is flattery.

This one is tricky for those of us who are starved for attention and praise. Volunteer coordinators know this! Nine times out of ten, if someone praises you, it’s a red flag that you are about to be ambushed into volunteering! Put your feet in the ready position…this is a fight or flight scenario, folks.

I recently received phone calls from the leaders of two ministries at my church who were seeking my involvement. I can’t prove this, but I suspect there’s an underground Vatican-based training for church ministry leaders because their approaches were absolutely identical:

1.) THE COMPLIMENT: They told me how impressed they were with my ______ skills. (Insert whatever works here: writing, child-wrangling, chainsaw juggling, whatever.)

2.) THE NAME DROP: They casually referenced someone of importance: “Father Felipe and I were talking and your name came up as someone who would be great on our committee!”

3.) THE LIE: They told me the time required to participate in their ministry would be nominal…”whatever you want to make of it!” or “no more than 45 minutes once a month.”

4.) THE APPEAL TO MY SENSE OF DECENCY: They asked if I would join their committee/ministry so I could share my ______ talents with our parish. (underlying message: don’t be selfish!)

5.) THE STAND-OFF: They stopped talking and simply waited for me to fill the awkward silence with my inevitable guilt-ridden “YES!”

Evil. Genius.

Both times, something deep and primal within me wanted to say “Sorry, but no,” or even “OMG, Gotta go! My hair is on fire!” But both times, I was so surprised and flattered by their attention that I caved like a California mudslide. They wanted me? ME? Iris Beard? The notorious recreational canine scat enthusiast?

The phone calls caught me by surprise, the flattery lowered my defenses, and my No Muscle was flabby. It was the trifecta of doom.

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the newest member of the Stewardship Council AND the Unit Leader for my daughter’s scout troop!

Any you wonder why I drink.

Look. I’m not saying NEVER volunteer. What kind of world would we live in if everyone only looked out for themselves or their own families?

All I’m saying is choose your volunteer duties wisely, don’t get pressured into over-committing yourself or doing tasks that suck the life out of you, and remember to put the needs of your own family above the needs of others.

And don’t worry. The work will get done without you.

Did you ever hear the one about two friends walking in the woods who come across a bear? One friend turns to the other and says “I don’t think we can outrun that bear!” And the other friend says “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun YOU.”

That’s the attitude you need to take when you are faced with a high pressure volunteer situation. You don’t have to outrun the chick with the clipboard, you just have to outrun all the other people pleasers in the room.

Lace up those running shoes, bitches.

-Iris

PS – Have you voted for The Bearded Iris yet at Babble.com’s list of the Top 50 Mom Blogs? I’m gaining on the top ten! Help me get there and I’ll do all your chores for a month.

 

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

How to Communicate with Your Special Someone

A good friend recently forwarded me this handy communication guide, suggesting I print it out and place it in my husband’s wallet:

DANGEROUS

SAFER

SAFEST

ULTRA SAFE

What’s for dinner?

May I help you with dinner?

Where would you like to go for dinner?

Here, have some wine.

Are you wearing that?

You sure look good in brown!

WOW! Look at you!

Here, have some wine.

What are you so worked up about?

Could we be overreacting?

Here’s my paycheck.

Here, have some wine.

Should you be eating that?

You know, there are a lot of apples left.

May I get you
a piece of chocolate with that?

Here, have some wine.

What did you DO all day?

I hope you didn’t over-do it today.

I’ve always loved you in that robe!

Here, have some wine.

Come on. It’s funny, because it’s true… which inspired me to make today’s Just the Tip Tuesday post all about communicating with your special someone.

The Gatekeeper (my husband) and I have a challenging time communicating now and then. Oh, who am I kidding… all the time. He thinks it’s just a man vs. woman thing. That’s part of it, sure. Men and women are definitely wired differently. Maybe if I included words like “bacon” and “blow job” in more sentences, he’d listen better. And he’d definitely have my undivided attention if he poured me a glass of wine and gave me a foot massage. No lie.

If you ask me, I think our failure to communicate is often a byproduct of our fast-paced, high-tech world. Too many distractions, information overload, and connecting through Tweets and texts are the makings of a piss-poor-communication-sandwich.

Maybe it’s a timing issue too. He loves to talk to me while I’m writing. And I seem to always have something important to tell him the minute he picks up his Crackberry. These conversations never end well. Two days later someone is always lamenting, “But I TOLD you I needed to leave at 5:15!”  or “We talked about this…I need those shirts for my business trip tomorrow.” Oh sure… you may have TOLD me, but was I actually listening? Apparently not. Here’s a rule of thumb in my house: if the fingers are moving, the ears aren’t working.

Recently, I’ve discovered that The Gatekeeper and I have our best talks when we go for walks together (without the kids). No technology, no distractions, just fresh air and exercise. There is probably some scientific reason why walking and talking go so well together. I don’t know why it works, I just know that it does.

Try it. It’s good for your health AND your relationship.

But if that isn’t an option, try one of these adorable talking plastic animals by Camilla Fabbri at Family Chic.

Seriously. How cute is that?! I’m pretty sure she designed this idea to communicate with her kids in a fun, fresh way; but I think you could use well-placed talking plastic animals to communicate effectively with anyone!

Instead of nagging your honey for the nth time about their incessant late night snacking, maybe a cute little plastic piggy placed on the pantry shelf holding a card that says “I love you. Now drop the Cheez-Its so you can lose 15 lbs. and grow old with me.” Just a thought.

Or instead of having to verbally reject your hunka-hunka-burnin’-love when they want a little sumpin’ sumpin’ and you’re curled up on the couch in your L.L.Bean flannel nightie with the heating pad and a bottle of Midol, why not strategically position a little pink pony holding a note that says “IOU”? It’s honest, caring, and direct – three tenets of good communication!

In summary, communicating effectively is an important part of any relationship. Show your special someone you care by stepping away from the keyboard, taking a walk together, utilizing small plastic animals in your home, and/or avoiding difficult conversations via strategically poured glasses of wine.

I’m here to help.

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


The Story of a Baptism, a Magnet, Some Poop, and Karmic Retribution.

Four years ago when Bucket Head was just a baby, we had him baptized at our church one early Saturday afternoon.

Sadly, that was before I owned a decent camera, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures, and the few I have aren’t great.

But it was a beautiful sacrament and many of our local family and friends were there to celebrate it with us.

After the baptism, everyone came back to our house for a party. I had a brisket rarin’ to go in the crock pot for barbecue sandwiches and some of my famous vinaigrette cole slaw marinating in the fridge. My sister-in-law Ellen brought her slap-yo-mama-it’s-so-good squash casserole (I think she puts crack cocaine in it, just sayin’). And of course, there was cake. Everything was delicious.

After the meal, the kids were all playing quietly in our basement playroom with their cousins and friends while the adults hung out on the deck, sharing stories and enjoying the fresh air.

Looking back, it was the calm before the storm.

Suddenly, four year old Mini-Me steps out onto the deck, her body sideways and obviously hiding something, and says…

“Anyone want to see a magic trick?”

“Sure!” we all chimed together.

So Mini-Me slowly and dramatically turns her body to face us and points with both hands to her midsection while singing an enthusiastic “TA-DAH!!!”

There, in the middle of her belly, but on the outside of the pretty yellow sundress her Aunt Teresa had just bought for her, was a magnetic rock…”magically” stuck to her dress.

It was one of about 20 such rocks that came in a pretty velvet pouch with an educational instruction sheet about magnets…a Christmas gift from the kids’ Uncle Teddy. I thought it was a great gift at the time: educational, interesting, fun! So much better than the “My First Chainsaw” or pet snake I’m always expecting. It goes without saying, Uncle Teddy is their favorite uncle.

Seeing Mini-Me’s “magically” suspended magnetic rock, we all cheered and said “Bravo!” and “What a cool trick!” and “Aren’t you clever!” as doting relatives are wont to do, probably all (like me) assuming that she had on some kind of belt with a metal clasp under her clothes and that’s how the magnet was sticking to the outside of her thin cotton sundress.

I even said something like, “Don’t tell us how you did it because a good magician NEVER reveals her secrets!” (Wink, wink!)

Being only four, and genetically incapable of keeping a secret, she immediately blurted out “It’s easy! I just swallowed a magnet!”

“WHAT?!”

D’ja ever see a grown woman in a party dress spray a fine mist of wine out of her mouth and nose in a six foot radius? You did if you were on my deck that day. Sorry about the stains, Nina.

And…cue the flashback:

One time, when I was three or four, I did my own little magic trick. It involved a piece of chalk, my toy box positioned upright like magician’s cabinet, my nose, and the phrase: “Now you see it… now you don’t!”  Yeah. That trick didn’t end so well. My dad especially enjoys the part of the story where the attending physician in the ER just so happened to be Mr. Most Likely to Succeed from his graduating high school class who smugly inquired “So, Ron, what are you up to these days?” Ouch. But I digress…

Wiping the wine from my face and chest, I began to question my daughter further: “Honey, tell me the truth… how is that magnet sticking to you?”

“I am telling the truth. I swallowed a magnet.” To prove it, she then plucked the magnetic stone off the front of her dress, lifted the sundress up to reveal her bare belly, placed the magnetic stone on her naked belly button, and let go. It totally stuck there, defying gravity and logic. Hand to God. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own four eyes.

I raced for the phone and called my pediatrician’s office. It was a Saturday, so I had to leave a message with the answering service and wait for him to call me back. Thankfully he responded immediately.

He was as astounded as we were. “Let me get this straight…there’s a magnet sticking to the outside of her belly? Through her clothes? Because she swallowed a different magnet?WOW! Those are some seriously strong magnets!”

Once he got over the initial shock, the main thing he wanted to know was HOW MANY magnets had she swallowed. Apparently swallowing ONE is fine (as long as she didn’t choke on it). But if she had swallowed more than one, we’d have to get her to an emergency room, STAT. Multiple magnets can cause the stomach and intestines to bunch up and stick together, even perforate internal organs in their magnetic pull to be together.

I may have heard him say “internal bleeding” and then I think I heard the words “potentially fatal if not treated immediately,” but I’m not sure because the sound of my heart beating in my ears was drowning him out.

I asked him to please hold while I put my hand over the receiver and questioned Mini-Me as calmly as I could: “Honey, you’re not in trouble, just tell Mommy the truth. How many of those magnets did you swallow?”

“One.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeth.” (She had a really pronounced lisp at the time.)

“Doctor, are you there? She said one. But I don’t know if I should believe her. She’s only four and a bit…um….creative (aka: bitch lies like a rug). Should I take her to the ER?”

I think he told me that she would be in some kind of discomfort or pain if she had swallowed multiple magnets and they were ripping through her intestinal walls. So, no, I didn’t need to go to the ER unless she was in pain. So my next task was to make sure she “passed the magnet” sometime in the next couple of days. If she didn’t, she could have a blockage, and that could be bad.

Great. Not exactly the fantasy you envision when you dream of becoming a parent, is it.

So for the next couple days, I was Mini-Me’s designated bathroom buddy. Every time she pooped, I was there, with rubber gloves, digging for buried treasure.

It was truly, without a doubt, one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. But I did it. Multiple times. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Eventually, she passed the magnet and we all rejoiced. It was about the size of a nickel. I scrubbed it and disinfected it…a lot.

The reclaimed magnet, pictured next to a nickel for perspective.

Then I put it in a special little metal heart-shaped box. And I’ve been saving it in that box ever since.

I had always intended that I would have it made into a pendant for Mini-Me one day, with an engraved “This too shall pass,” somewhere on the necklace. In my mind, I pictured giving it to her after her first big break up, or when she loses her first job.

But one week ago, this well traveled little magnet temporarily disappeared from it’s special storage spot and my mother-of-the-year fantasy was shattered (once again).

If you follow me on Twitter, you may already know some of that story. It was a very difficult day around here.

But on a positive note; it’s been said that grandchildren are God’s reward for letting your children live. Thanks, Mom and Dad. I know I wasn’t the easiest kid, but you’ll be glad to know that karma is alive and well here in North Georgia.

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


Appetizer Love: Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Jalapeños!

I just love a good potluck, don’t you?! Takes the pressure off the host, everyone gets a chance to contribute and feel important, and it gives us all the opportunity to try new foods. It’s just win-win. Love that!

Well, The Gatekeeper and I had the chance to attend a humdinger of a potluck last Saturday night with some of our best church buddies. We were asked to bring an appetizer. Oh thank God. I hate it when people ask me to bring the paper products. What a slap in the face. I mean, really; you show up with maggoty rice salad ONE time

Anyhooo… I knew I wanted to bring something different but awesome. Nothing worse than bringing a duplicate dish and forcing all the guests to do a Taste Test in front of you both. (Speaking of which, I don’t care how Southern you think you are, if the hostess asks you to bring a green salad, do NOT show up with Baked Mac and Cheese. You totally fucked up my menu that time, Beverly. Pfffft.)

So I started thinking of all the appetizers in my arsenal, and one in particular jumped out as a major crowd pleaser: Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Jalapeños! I know, right? Bacon: the magic word. It just makes everything better. (Apologies to my Kosher readers.)

I was first introduced to this magical appetizer a couple years ago when my dear neighborhood friend Mama Cloud stuck a plate of them on my front porch and ding-dong-ditched me. What a refreshing change from the flaming bag of dog poo I was expecting! Instead, there was a note on the plate that said “You’ve been tagged by the Appetizer Fairy!” God, I love that girl.

Even if you don’t love spicy foods, you might like this. The baking plus the cream cheese mellows the jalapeños so that there is just a hint of a kick left. Although sometimes you do get a super hottie that will just light you up! But that’s part of the fun in my book…like a milder form of Russian Roulette! But instead of a violent bloody death the worst case scenario is the dreaded double burn. So worth it.

Another nice feature is that this is true finger food. It’s easy to grab and easy to eat, as opposed to dip & chips that can really slow the buffet line down and piss off the hungry people patiently waiting at the end of the line.

Are you sold yet? Here’s what you’ll need to recreate this magic in your own kitchen:

  • jalapeños (get at least a dozen!)
  • cream cheese
  • bacon
  • aluminum foil
  • toothpicks
  • rubber gloves (optional)

1.) Preheat your oven to 400° F and wash your jalapeños.

2.) Cut the tops off. Then slice each pepper in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes so you get two jalapeño “boats” from each pepper. TIP: if you have sensitive skin, wear contact lenses, are menstruating, or plan on changing a baby’s diaper later, wear rubber gloves for this part! Trust me.

3.) Use a butter knife and fill each jalapeño with cream cheese. It doesn’t matter what kind you buy. I used a brick of regular store-brand cream cheese for this batch. I’ve seen other recipes online where people mix herbs and spices in with the cream cheese first. Unnecessary. Keep it simple, I say.

4.) Line a baking tray with foil (for easy cleanup). Use a tray that has sides or you will have a bacony flavored greasy mess on your hands and a potential fire hazard to boot. Nothing spoils a party like a house fire, believe you-me.

5.) BACON TIME! I cut each of my raw bacon strips into thirds and stretched it a little to wrap it around the cream cheese stuffed jalapeño. It was perfect. You need about five inches (you don’t hear me say that everyday). Secure each bacon piece with a toothpick through the whole thing (including the bottom layer of the pepper). TIP: pull the number of toothpicks you’ll need (plus a few extra) out of the box before you get started so you don’t have to keep reaching into the box with your bacony fingers (ew!).

6.) Place in your preheated oven and bake at 400° for about 30 minutes or until the bacon is cooked. Remove from the oven and marvel at the majesty:

7.) Move them to a paper towel lined plate to absorb the extra grease, and then replate them onto something pretty.

8.) Eat a few before you take them to the potluck or you’ll never get any...these things move FAST.

9.) Stand back and watch people go berserk while they fight over these babies. Then flash some gang symbols, shout “AW HELLS YEAH!” and enjoy knowing that you’ll never be relegated to paper products again!

Like my cooking style? (What is wrong with you?) Here’s a link to other recipes/kitchen tips I’ve posted previously.

still brimming with potluck pride,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


Sandy Beaver Auditorium

 

 

And speaking of which…

One time my daughter performed in a dance recital in the Sandy Beaver Auditorium at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia. True story.

Sandy. Beaver. Auditorium.

Couldn’t make it up if I tried.

Apparently named after a dedicated young educator named Sandy Beaver who became president of the academy and gained ownership of it in 1915. Beaver would go on to run Riverside for the next 56 years. Ah, those were the good ol’ days. When gay meant joyful, a bitch was just a female dog, and beavers were merely industrious mammals with funky flat tails.

For the strapping young men of Riverside, Sandy Beaver is a good thing. But for me, the name Sandy Beaver conjures only one vision.

And God bless my Mom for embracing her role as official “Kid Kleaner” while we vacation with her every year. My kids sure are missing their MeeMaw and her awesome spa baths.

Sandy Beaver Auditorium. I chuckle every time I say it. Actually, I can’t say it…I have to sing it…like a compulsion. And I sing it to the tune of “Do You Know The Way to San Jose?” by the incomparable Dionne Warwick (way before the Psychic Friends phase of her career). I do this often. It makes me happy. Try it. It will brighten your day.

And if that doesn’t work, maybe just feel grateful that you aren’t removing sand from your lips and eyelashes. That’s never easy or fun. Just ask my daughter and her Sandy Beaver.

Happy Monday, friends!

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


Surviving School Open House

Here in Georgia, our kids go back to school ridiculously early.

Never thought I’d say that. But now that it is the last official day of summer for my kids, it feels like it’s all over too soon. We’ve just hit our stride! Was it really 78 days ago that I wrote this? Dang.

So this week I’ve had to attend not one, but two School Open Houses. And being that I’m such a giver, I wanted to share some survival tips with you for when your kids go back to school this fall. You can thank me later.

Let’s start on a positive note, shall we?

Do bathe your child and put them in clean clothes. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and nothing tells a teacher that you don’t give a shit like the “My MeeMaw Loves Me” t-shirt with holes in the pits and the chocolate (or is that blood?) stain on the front.

Do the same for yourself. 

Do wear something cute, but tasteful. This is not the time to introduce your child’s teacher to your cleavage or your coin slot.

Do find a babysitter for your other children if possible. It will be so much easier to focus on the task at hand if you are not yelling over the teacher’s shoulder: “BUCKET HEAD! Put. That. Down. So help me God if I have to come over there you will not get one more Skittle today.”

Do have your child make a handmade card for the teacher stating how excited she/he is about being in that teacher’s class. Insert a gift card or some cash. Teachers are totally underpaid for putting up with our spawn all day and studies show that teachers who receive bribes gifts are much more likely to be just a little more patient and kind to your obnoxious little Johnny McFunpants.

Do bring your favorite pen. You are going to be doing a LOT of form filling-out-ering. That’s always more pleasant if you can do it with your own best pen. (Or is that just weird weird me?)

Do remember to bring your checkbook so when you are raped and pillaged by the PTA you don’t have to further humiliate yourself with the same old “Oh shoot, I must have forgotten my checkbook!” line you use every year.

Do bring a copy of your emergency contacts if you don’t already have them programmed into your phone. No matter how many times you give that info, year after year after year, schools seem to take pleasure in asking you to rewrite it, over and over and over.

And now for the No-Nos:

Do NOT experiment with illegally obtained prescription speed the day of the Open House. Do NOT ask me how I know this. I just do. (That was a really bad year.)

Do NOT dress your boy child in anything smocked or embroidered. This is not an Easter Parade. If your boy child shows up at Open House in a sailor suit, anything seersucker, or anything considered a “jumper,” the teacher will (correctly) assume you are an asshole and your mama’s boy will be gang raped on the playground.

Do NOT over-dress yourself either. Even if your divorce was just finalized and your ex is a turd-burglar, Open House is not the time to troll for fresh meat. Focus, people. We’re here for the kids.

Do NOT be the first one to arrive. Open House is like a cocktail party without the cocktails (ahem, that means you, Brenda. Leave the flask at home next time.) Ever notice how the first people to show up at the party are usually the wet blankets of the night? Just sayin.’

Do NOT be the last one to arrive or you will be stuck with the “Herman Miller chair” on the teacher’s wish list or the worst class volunteer job like Hospitality Mom or Box Tops Redemption Mom.

Do NOT say anything negative about any previous teachers. Der.

Do NOT say anything negative about your child. Double der.

Do NOT say anything negative about the crappy Open House process, the crowded parking lot, the extreme heat, the blood-thirsty PTA, or the never-ending school supply list.

You know what, just keep your MF-ing trap shut, period. Just smile, give a firm hand shake, fill out the forms, and get the hell out of there as fast as you can.

Suck it up. Someday you’ll be under a hideous afghan, waiting by the phone for your Great Grandchildren to call, and wishing you had enjoyed being a parent more while you were in the trenches. At least that’s what those annoying old folks at the home keep telling me. Whatever. Where’s my flask?

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


Older posts

© 2019 The Bearded Iris

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑