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Dear Whine and Cheese

23 May

Whine: Ever since the Great Hail Debacle of ’95, when softball-sized hail came hurtling through our kitchen window (and also the windshield of my  brown 1983 Ford Fairmont), I have been just a teensy weensy bit scared of spring storms here in Texas. And also I hate getting my hair wet.

Cheese: Between the T-Storm/Large Hail warning on the radio and the peals of thunder overhead, I was very motivated to make my trip to Target quite brief. Who knew mortal danger could be such a money saver?

Dear Whine and Cheese,

I know as a family we are supposed to be spending lots of quality time together, but I’m not sure what to do. Got any suggestions?

Sincerely,

What Do I Do With All These Children

Dear What To Do,

I want to give you credit for desiring more Quality Time with your family. We all know that without enough Quality Time each and every day, all of your kids will grow up to either disown you or live in your garage indefinitely, so I think it’s important to do what you can while they are young. The good news is that Quality Time can come in many different forms:

Taking advantage of free activities in your community is one easy way to spend time together. Arriving two minutes late for the town Easter Egg hunt will allow you to park far enough away so that not only do you miss the actual egg hunt, you will also be able to push your emotionally exhausted 5 1/2 year old in a stroller while carrying your fussy toddler on your hip while your spouse carries your middle child on his shoulders, which is excellent for your cardiovascular conditioning. You will then have the opportunity to go to a local discount store to spend money on your own eggs and candy in order to recreate the hunt at home later that day in lieu of the free hunt you missed.

Doing arts and crafts is another way to stretch your children’s creativity and your patience simultaneously. Painting, gluing, eating thumbtacks and dropping loaded paintbrushes on your hair are all great ways to build fine-motor skills and digestive tolerance. Not to mention the gift-giving potential of a nice homemade gift, because who wouldn’t be touched to receive a repurposed juice bottle filled with tiny pom-poms and covered in streamers? It’s eco-friendly too!

Letting your family assist you in the kitchen also builds strong communal ties. There is something primal about letting your child mix the chicken salad and then wail unintelligibly as you wrap it in lettuce to make cute little chicken salad boats because (you discover much later) the boat lettuce was not cut at the correct angle. Baking cookies and cupcakes is also fun, as your family will develop a keen sense of when it is time to appear (when there are tastes to be had) and to disappear (when there are counters full of sticky dishes to be done).  Perhaps the disappearing act will someday transfer to the time while you are trying to shower or use the bathroom.

In the end, anything you can do to kill time enjoy each other can be considered Quality Time. Just remember, even the Von Trapps didn’t sing all the time. Sometimes they made clothes from curtains or escaped evil political regimes.  So just keep that in mind when planning your next family ordeal outing.

Sincerely,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese,

How do I know if the time we’re spending together is Quality Time or if it’s just Regular Time?

Sincerely,

Does TV Count

Dear TV,

Determining the nature of your time together can be tricky business, so I have devised a Quality Time checklist for your convenience. Score one point for each item, unless otherwise noted.  If you score a ‘3’ or higher, you’ll know you have achieved Quality Time.

1. Forced participation of family members (1 point for each unwilling person)

2. A preparation/clean-up time to actual time spent ratio of at least 5-to-1 (i.e., At least 5 minutes of prep for each minute of actual enjoyment.)

3. Misunderstanding/miscommunication resulting in total meltdown. (1 point for each door slam, frustrated head banged on wall, or tantrum; 2 points if tantrum is in public or  full-out, flat on floor screaming fit.)

4. Arguments regarding trivial details

(Examples: type of sandwich for picnic, seating arrangement in vehicle, choice of dvd for road trip, color of game marker in Candy Land)

5. Exorbitant and unexpected cost (1 point for each unplanned $25 spent)

6. Pictures that make it look like you actually had fun. Pictures assist in creating the Magic Memory Filter all children need in order to look back on their childhoods with that happy, rosy glow. (And yes, pictures from the ER totally count.)

I hope this checklist can be of assistance in your quest for Quality Time.

Sincerely,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese,

A really good friend of mine just published her 100th blog post and I’m very happy for her (even though it took her 2 1/2 years to do it and her posts mostly revolve around getting stuck in windows and the clean up of bodily fluids). What should I do to congratulate her?

Sincerely,

Loyal Reader

Dear Loyal,

Your friend obviously sounds like a delightful (although perhaps slightly disturbed) person. After showering her with lavish gifts and diet coke, I recommend spending some Quality Time commenting on her 100th post and reading through some of her old stories. I hear her take on potty training is informative as well as her handy tips on procrastinating and grocery shopping. I was in the mood for a good laugh-cry, so I read this and this.

And I’m sure, being the delightful person she is, she would want you to know how grateful she is to have a reader friend like you. I would hazard a guess that she really enjoys getting to tell her stories and feel so accepted and encouraged both in parenting and in writing for such a nice person as you.

With Much Love and Gratitude,

Whine and Cheese

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Dear Whine and Cheese

22 Apr

Whine: Today I made the mistake of buying the sisters each a butterfly net. Then, once I got the nets off their heads (and mine, once) I spent the better part of my afternoon bug hunting with the girls. And by “with the girls” I mean me digging through the dirt with a stick and picking up worms with my bare hands while they called out encouragingly from the safety of the swingset. 

Cheese: I got a “Bravo!” and a “Take a bow!” and even a “You’re an expert, Mom!” Man, if I’d known worms would make me so popular, I would have bought a worm farm a long time ago.

So NOT my idea.

Many of you out there are wondering just exactly what it takes to survive as a multi-child mom. I’m no octo-mom, but being home alone all day with three little urchins requires some creativity, and I’m happy to answer your burning questions. (Actually, if they’re burning, you should probably see your doctor.)

Dear Whine and Cheese,

Since having my baby a month ago I haven’t figured out how moms actually eat. Doesn’t my baby realize that if I don’t eat, neither does he?

Sincerely,

About to Eat my Own Arm

Dear, um, Hungry,

You’ve asked the central question of motherhood. Whether you are struggling to eat because your jelly-bean-sized fetus is rejecting all nourishment or because every time you get some food multiple someones are a)crying, yelling and hollering or b)climbing on top of you trying to get a bite, you’ve got to figure out how to eat, lest the very underpinnings of our civilization (i.e., happy mommas) crumble and fall apart.

That being said, here are a few tips for avoiding the low blood sugar meltdown:

1) While you sit in your car to nurse the baby who screamed through all twenty-four aisles of the grocery store to the pitying (judgmental?) glances of midday shoppers, scrounge around through the jumble of bags until you stumble upon something edible, like a bagel or a candy bar or a few of both. Wash them down with a warm Diet Coke or the cup of day-old water that has hints of dog hair floating around in it. I’d go with the Diet Coke if I were you.

2) When a lovely, kind and compassionate person brings dinner for your family, immediately serve yourself a plate, shoot your husband and kids The Death Look and run to your bedroom. Enjoy your feast while you sit on the floor and watch the reruns of Hoarders on A&E, because at least someone’s living room looks worse than yours.

3)  Two words: Drive Thru. Because they can’t get to you — or your food — if they’re strapped into their car seats.

I hope this helps you retain all your appendages, for this week at least.

Yours Truly,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese,

I’m now a mother of three. How on earth am I supposed to leave the house, let alone grocery shop?

Sincerely,

Old Mother Hubbard

Dear Mother Hubbard,

When grocery shopping it is important to remember a few things: your grocery list, your coupons (all expired, of course), and a few giant lollipops. Don’t hesitate to utilize the XXL-sized Racecar shopping cart. Just be warned that you will need to complete a driver safety course in order to maneuver the cart without knocking over the cardboard display filled with sample-sized bottles of Irish Spring bodywash that not one of those pitying midday shoppers will help you pick up. Also know that despite the ungainly size of the cart, no actual groceries will fit inside without a delicate house-of-cards-like arrangement. By the time you reach the check-out your chips will be totally crumbled and the labels will be ripped off all your boxes of cereal, but at least you’ll have food to rummage through when you’re stranded in a parking lot feeding The Hungriest Baby Who Ever Lived.

Yours Truly,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese,

I’m thinking of having children. Should I have noise-reducing headphones surgically attached to my ears?

Sincerely,

La, La, La, I Can’t Hear You

Dear La La,

You pose a fascinating question. Certainly the sounds of early childhood can be overwhelming. The crying in the night when you just barely just fell asleep. The shouts of “she’stouchingmeWAAAHH” from the back seat. The disturbingly loud and metallic crinkle of the new biodegradable chip bag (seriously, SO loud!). The dollar store cd of kids’ songs whose squeaky fast-forward sound makes you wonder if when recording a cd for the dollar store you pay for the recording studio by the minute.

But if you were to muffle all the cries, shouts, crinkles and squeaks, you’d also be muffling the sound of the tiny sweet baby stretching and yawning next to you. And you might miss out on hearing your six favorite words: “Mom, I have to go potty.” (Even if it is a false alarm.) And when you’re up to your wrists in worm slime, you might need your ears free to hear the encouragement of your biggest fan.

So, La La, I wouldn’t attach the headphones, but I’d sure keep ’em handy for roadtrips. Or trips to the grocery store. It’s hard to push a huge grocery cart with your fingers stuffed in your ears.  

Yours Truly,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese

26 Jun

Whine: I’m on the tail end of my annual sunburn. While it no longer hurts for me to wear clothes, I have hit the awkward full-body-peel stage. So now I am obsessed with removing my own skin. That will look good on my “What I did on my Summer Vacation” essay in the fall, won’t it?

Cheese: This one is extra cheesy. Hubby and I are going to celebrate our 9th anniversary in style. Paris? You ask. Perhaps a night at a little Bed and Breakfast? No. We want to celebrate in style. At the Water Park. Come on, it’s 3,000,000 gallons of water, people, what’s not fun about that? Besides, we’re on a budget.

 

In honor of Mr. Dad’s and my anniversary, and since we here at Whine and Cheese are such big fans of marriage (GO, Marriage!!) we wanted to grace you with our advice for a happy marriage, gleaned from years of studious research, and possibly a little bit of trial and error.

 

Dear Whine and Cheese,

There is this boy in my calculus class that I have my eye on. He seems like a nice guy and he looks awfully cute in his football uniform. Do you have any advice for me about how to get him to ask me out? 

Sincerely,

Lovestruck

 

Dear Lovestruck,

If I were you I’d bide my time. Perhaps he is not quite ready for all you have to offer. In fact, wait about eight years. Have your friends keep tabs on him when you are off at college. Then finally get frustrated with his laid back approach and give him your number. He’ll be so relieved that you finally noticed him that he’ll call the next week. You’ll be married within a year.

Yours Truly,

Whine and Cheese

 

 

Dear Whine and Cheese,

My parents are always telling me that I should know what I want in life. Now that I’m thinking about marriage, what should I look for in a husband?

Sincerely,

Makin’ a List

 

Dear List,

You are very wise to take these matters so seriously. Here is my list, in no particular order.

A good man:

Will take over at the wheel when you are stuck on a busy downtown street and cannot parallel park. He will also not laugh too hard at your incompetence.

Gives you his last taco when he knows you are really, really hungry.

Knows the correct answer to the question “Do I look fat?” (Which is, incidentally, “You define beauty for me, so of course you don’t look fat.” OR “I love you at any size, but of course you don’t look fat.”)

Will miss the last five minutes of a triple-overtime championship game (he has it on dvr, of course) to talk to you if you need him.

Likes your friends. Sticks up for your friends when their boyfriends are being idiots. Knocks some sense into his friends when they are the ones being the idiots.

Knows how to change a diaper, make a bottle and entertain a baby. Trust me, this comes in handy.

Will tolerate your television and movie preferences, even getting sucked into an episode or two of Project Runway, before realizing that his masculinity is draining out of him and then going and buying a second tv.

Can plan a good date.

Has figured out how to wire cable into the garage, so he can go out there and “work, ” conveniently whenever the Rangers are on.

Knows how to navigate a Major Meltdown (yours, not his): hugs, listening, ice cream, hugs, more ice cream, and possibly a nap.

Knows your drink order at Starbucks.

And finally, (this is the most important one). Looks good in a pair of cowboy boots and can dance a mean two-step.

 

Hope you find a man that checks all your boxes.

Yours Truly,

Whine and Cheese

 

 

Dear Whine and Cheese,

What are your secrets for a happy marriage?

Sincerely,

Hopeful

 

Dear Hopeful,

Learn to apologize, even though you’ll rarely be wrong. Give him a hug and a kiss, even when he doesn’t deserve it. Laugh at his jokes, even though they aren’t funny. Let him help you, even though you absolutely don’t need him to.

One day you’ll realize that you’re wrong more often than you thought, he’s more deserving than you can imagine, his jokes are actually pretty funny and a little help here and there isn’t so bad.

Either that or marriage has turned your brain into mush. Doesn’t matter, you’ll be happy either way.

Sincerely,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese

27 Apr

Whine: Lil’ Sis (now almost 15 months) is still terrified of walking. She is not, however, terrified of climbing perilously on top of the piano. Go figure.

Cheese: On the way home from happy hour (the Sonic kind, of course) I had the audacity to take a different route. Big Sis heartily objected. I righted our course and she told me exactly how to get home. Although I have a terrible sense of direction, I’m pretty sure from this point on I will never need a GPS.  

 

Here at A Little Whine and Cheese, our mission is to provide information to enhance your life. We are happy to share our hard-earned expertise  (i.e., personal experience from possibly just the last week or so) with you by answering your questions.

 

Dear Whine and Cheese,

Does a car seat lose its effectiveness if it is not, in fact, actually buckled into the car?

Sincerely,

Oops

 

Dear Oops,

Of course not. That is, obviously, assuming that your car is so full of junk and baby paraphenelia that said car seat is wedged tightly in between the diaper bag and the baby stroller and the bag of recycled plastic bags you’ve been meaning to return to the grocery store. Highway crash tests reveal that the more stuff you can cram into your backseat, the safer your baby*. Unless of course you are talking about machetes and live grenades. In that case, you should definitely buckle the seat in.

Sincerely,

Whine and Cheese

 

 

Dear Whine and Cheese,

Am I a complete imbecile if I cannot sew in a straight line?

Sincerely,

Feeling Destructive

 

Dear Feeling Destructive,

No. Sewing machines were designed by men way back in the 1700s for the single purpose of making women belive that they had lost their ever-loving minds. The invention still holds remarkable power for creating insanity in women, but said power can be easily broken by realizing that you can purchase whatever it is you were trying to make for half the price at Old Navy.

Sincerely,

Whine and Cheese

 

 

Dear Whine and Cheese,

My one-year-old says the same word for both “Grandma” and “Cookie.” Should I be concerned?

Sincerely,

Somewhat Suspicious

 

Dear SS,

Your suspicions are warranted. I suggest installing a “Granny Cam” into your child’s diaper bag so that you can surveil what is actually happening while he/she is staying with Grandma. Most likely you will see a very clear correlation between “Grandma” and “cookies.” I will say, however, that your video evidence  and/or a stern talking to will have very little punitive effect on Grandma, as we all know that their DNA is made of processed sugar and zero desire to say no. On the bright side, she might feel bad enough to give you some cookies, too.

Sincerely,

Whine and Cheese 

 

 

Dear Whine and Cheese,

I would really like to get a new cell phone, but there is nothing wrong with my old one. Can I really justify getting a new phone?

Sincerely,

Kinda Bored

 

Dear Kinda Bored,

Your dilemma is a familiar one, as phone technology constantly changes and improves, keeping up with the Joneses (or Macs, if you know what I mean) becomes increasinly difficult. Here is my recommendation:  Run into the local bagel shop for a quick breakfast, toting one or more of your kids. On the way out  “accidentally” drop your phone in the parking lot and drive away. When you return to innocently retrieve your “missing” phone, you will find it mangled and unusable. Your husband will then authorize a trip to the phone store, and you will have your pick of the newest phones. Problem solved.

Sincerely,

Whine and Cheese

 

 

Thank you for joining us today for our Dear Whine and Cheese column. Feel free to leave more of your questions in the comments section for future columns.

 

 

*That is patently untrue. Duh.