Category Archives: Home is Where the Weirdness Lives

20 Things I Never Imagined I’d Say to my Dog

  1. photoIt’s really cold outside and it’s not time for a walk yet. I just want to spoon you and watch Hallmark movies. All day.
  2. I know the FedEx truck looks tasty, but YOU CAN’T EAT IT. Stop barking as if you’re possessed. Please try to act like a normal dog.
  3. Must you INHALE your food? CHEW already, you maniacal little beast.
  4. Yes, the doorbell is ringing. On television. That doesn’t mean you need to freak out or work your stupid self into a barking frenzy.
  5. Stop licking yourself…your 7 million plush toys…the stuff I spilled on the floor…the strange dog you just met…the leather couch…the carpet…the dishwasher…my feet…the road kill you love more than life itself… JUST. STOP. LICKING.
  6. Why do you feel compelled to eviscerate your stuffed animal toys? Isn’t it enough to pluck out their eyes and dismember them 15 minutes after I present you with a new one? FYI, the squeaky thing inside IS NOT the devil.
  7. Stop dragging dirty socks and underwear into the living room like a frat boy on a panty raid. You disgust me. Also, please note that the foul matter in the trash can IS NOT FOOD. Please stop gnawing on it and strewing it all over the house.
  8. DO NOT pee on your brother’s head. No, it’s not at all like marking territory. He’s another dog. Just a shorter version. And by the way, marking territory INSIDE the house is a VERY, VERY BAD thing to do. I will stop loving you if you do it again. No I won’t. I love you unconditionally, against all logic and understanding.
  9. Why did you eat AN ENTIRE LOAF OF BREAD (and/or leftover pizza, Halloween candy, et al.) while we were gone? You glutton.
  10. The crows and defenseless squirrels we see on our walks are not secretly mocking you; therefore, you needn’t chase or lunge at them like some sort of savage, effectively dislocating my shoulder in the process.
  11. Must you torment the cat? I realize that he is mocking you every minute of every day, but is it necessary to hunt him down like a dog? I understand that you are, in fact, a dog. It’s a rhetorical question.
  12. You don’t own the couch. Please share the space in this house with the humans who live here—as much as it pains you.IMG_6206
  13. For the love of God, STOP EATING POO, or anything that resembles poo. Deer droppings are not Skittles. Neither is bear dung or rabbit pellets. Have we not taught you anything?
  14. If you walk directly in front of me or trail me closer than my shadow, we WILL collide. It’s basic physics. Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Google it.
  15. Please refrain from doing your business in the neighbor’s beautifully manicured lawn if you can help it. If you could circle back and instead utilize the vast expanse of woods and weeds we just passed I’d be eternally grateful, you never-ending poop factory.
  16. Back up, please, so I can actually open the door for you. I know you’re beyond excited to go for a walk, but it won’t be possible unless and until you back up.
  17. You most certainly CANNOT EAT THE JOGGER, the kid on the scooter, the woman pushing the stroller, or the adorable toddler inside the stroller who desperately wants to pet you because you look like a cute little dog, only deranged. Oh, and here’s a newsflash: YOU’RE MAKING YOURSELF HACK AND CHOKE by pulling on the leash. Not me.
  18. Did you seriously startle yourself with your own fart? You crack me up, you weird little dog.
  19. What’s with the poop ritual—the one where you practically screw yourself into the ground before you actually go? Should I hire an excrement coach?
  20. Must you shame me into giving you food during dinner? Don’t give me those eyes. I simply can’t handle it.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live, uttering the most ridiculous things to my dogs. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2015 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Doggie Diamonds, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives

Merry and Bright. Sort Of.

IMG_0148I love indoor Christmas lights. Tiny white ones, more specifically—the sort that cast a soft glow at dusk, filling a darkened room with ambient warmth, reminding me that it was totally worth risking life and limb to hang them atop windows and French doors as I foolishly balanced on a step stool, the meaty arm of a sofa and once, even upon a tall stack of pillows that were strategically placed upon said sofa. Yep. Totally worth it.

My husband, by contrast, adores such festive trappings, but is less than enamored with the idea of wrestling with them for more than 27 minutes—the average time it takes to retrieve the tangled masses from the attic, arrange them in clumps on the floor and then wrap them around a Christmas tree in a manner that is both geometrically and aesthetically pleasing. What’s more, he can’t stand it when he makes the inevitable discovery in the thick of decorating madness (i.e. lights that won’t light, bulbs that are broken or flicker with the slightest bit of movement and entire strands of lights that are sporadically lit at best, a far cry from merry and bright).

Of course, these are the very same lights that functioned perfectly last year—the ones we tested before boxing them up and shoving them into the deep recesses of the attic. I’m convinced that something criminal happens in there between New Year’s and Thanksgiving. Something that can probably be traced to Elf on a Shelf, or an equally reprehensible little creature inclined to tamper with our trimmings. However, we don’t own any of the aforementioned elves, nor would I feel compelled to put them on a shelf or anywhere else because they creep the cranberries out of me. Nevertheless, it’s clear that something goes on in that attic that would explain our less-than-functional lights.

Yes, it’s possible they’re just chintzy, and that we’re too cheap to care.

At any rate, we are then faced with a dilemma—the one my husband and I experience each and every year. Do we ditch the strands of lights that refuse to cooperate completely, effectively ridding ourselves of the headache that is defined by tightening and checking ALL of the bulbs individually? Or do we stuff the dysfunctional segments of strands into the tree, where we hope no one will notice and subsequently judge our character?

And let us not forget the problem of what to do with the strands that won’t light at all. If you’re anything like my husband, you’ll keep plugging them into the wall socket and jiggling the wires, repeating the idiocy that is wrapped in denial. Admittedly, I am slightly amused by his antics, so I encourage him to continue trying. Again. And again. Eventually, though, he decides to part with the wretched strands, leaving them for dead. Meanwhile, I cram yard upon yard of half-functioning light strings into the tree, doing my level best to disguise the ones we’ve determined to be misfits this Christmas—because a) I’m too lazy to go to the store to buy more and b) I’m too stubborn to unravel what I worked so hard to position on the boughs in the first place.

“It’s fine,” I rationalize. “We’ll manage with the ones that DO work and no one will be the wiser.”

I have to wonder, as I cruise around town at dusk, peering into yellow squares of windows at fir trees and mantles aglow with twinkly, white lights—do rogue trimmings plague their households with the same ferocity as ours? Maybe we’re an anomaly. Or maybe the universe hates us. Or maybe, just maybe, our Christmas spirit is being tested. I suppose it stands to reason that we continue to pass since we rise to the occasion each year, making our home merry and bright in spite of the intolerable struggle that has become familiar if nothing else.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live, probably messing with Christmas lights. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2015 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Holiday Hokum, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Normal is Relative, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Captain Underpants

As I type, I’m envisioning the disjointed discussion likely taking place in my brood’s fifth-grade classroom right about now, spawned, of course, by the events surrounding Saturday’s cleaning fest at our home. Like most frenzied attempts to rid my world of filth, this one involved airborne food, uninspired decor and a shameless violation of child labor laws. I’m guessing the conversation unfolded thusly:

Thing One: “My Mom made us dust the whole living room this weekend WITH A PAIR OF MY DAD’S UNDERWEAR and it was entirely horrible.”

Teacher: (rendered speechless, except for the chortles she probably choked back in an effort to appear genuinely empathetic and professional in the midst of unadulterated hilarity)

Thing One: “Yeah, she was running the vacuum like ALL DAY, which she almost NEVER does, because we had to move the couch…because there was a big mustard stain on the carpet she was trying to hide (with said couch) and because my sister and I were standing around doing nothing except eating the old M&Ms we found under the couch, Mom made us pick up Dad’s underwear and dust (likely scarring the aforementioned youth for life).”

Teacher: “Oh. Dusting. With your Dad’s underwear. I see.”

Thing Two: “I spilled the mustard last week. And my beef barbecue sandwich on Saturday morning, when I jumped into Mom’s favorite chair. She went ballistic, like she always does. So we ended up helping her clean, only we didn’t do it right because she found little pieces of my sandwich underneath the cushion and on the carpet EVEN AFTER we scrubbed. Well, actually THE DOG found little pieces of my sandwich and I knew it wasn’t going to be a very good day. So she handed us Dad’s underwear and told us to dust. I thought I was going to hurl.”

Teacher: “Mustard. Beef barbecue. Underwear. Urge to hurl. Uh huh. But the underwear was just a dust cloth, right? One she’s washed a gazillion times?”

Thing One: “That’s what she told us, but I don’t believe it. She was probably SO mad about the carpet and the chair that she wanted to punish us by grossing us out. Well it worked. When I grow up and get my own house, I’m never going to make my kids dust with anyone’s underwear. That’s just plain wrong.”

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (amusing teachers everywhere). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, I Pretty Much Suck at Parenting

2012: The Year of the Dragon

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2012 is the year of the dragon. I know this to be true not only because I googled the bejesus out of it, but because my brood became riddled with delirium upon learning they had received a baby bearded dragon for Christmas. Make that TWO baby bearded dragons, coupled with a profusion of lizard-friendly paraphernalia said beings apparently require to survive. Heaven forbid the celebrated pet in question spend the rest of his days socially isolated, unable to collectively revel in the knowledge that the year ahead promises good things to those who are symbolic of reptilians.

Or something like that.

At any rate, we now own two disturbingly Godzilla-inspired organisms and, as a result, my children are entirely convinced that 2012 will be filled with good fortune—especially as it relates to the aforementioned scaly creatures. Translation: “We hope they have babies, Mom! Lots of them!” I’m not sure I could handle that much good fortune, particularly given the prolific nature of their poo and the nauseating reality of stockpiling live mealworms in my refrigerator and seasoned (read: calcium-dusted) crickets in the den. Gah! This is SO not in the parenting handbook. But I digress.

Against all logic and understanding, the tiny beasts have become a never-ending source of fascination for me. The way they ogle me with their freakishly bulbous eyes, twist their wee necks to an impossible degree and seize their prey in the true spirit of savagery intrigues me no end. Even the way they chew their vegetables is mildly entertaining. That said, I find myself drawn to their fetid tank, patently engrossed as they bask beneath the torrid rays of a pseudo sun—silent and still, much like the rocks and canopy of branches to which they cling almost invisibly; or when they devour legions of hapless victims in a manner that makes me cringe in horror, yet renders me wholly incapable of turning away. Never mind the dreadful sound of their jaws as they crush, chew and swallow without a morsel of mercy or an ounce of regret. Shame on me for being perfectly enthralled by something so inherently gruesome.

At least I’m not alone. Our entire household gathers en masse at the tank in a twisted display of fanaticism—noses to the glass in palpable anticipation, each of us about to be categorically mesmerized by what can only be described as a feeding frenzy. Furthermore, we’re fairly entranced by the hunt itself, duly impressed as our dear lizards scuttle about like spiders, hugging uncertain terrain and cleverly cornering a handful of crickets that, unsurprisingly, max out on the Stupidity Scale. Every. Single. Time. It’s entirely possible we need to develop more empathy for the ill-fated vermin. Then again, maybe the point is moot. (i.e. “It’s sad that the crickets have to die such a horrible, violent death, Mom. But it’s sort of entertaining to watch. Especially when their legs fall off and stuff.”)

Just when I think my husband and I are doing something right with respect to raising compassionate kids, they drop a disturbing little nugget like that on us. Oy.

At any rate, we’re having far more fun with our newish pets than I ever imagined possible. They’ve cheered homework completion on numerous occasions, been privy to godknowshowmany deep, dark secrets and journeyed far and wide to learn about their surroundings (i.e. “This is the television, which you probably won’t care much about…and this is the dog, which you should be profoundly terrified of…”).

Furthermore, they’ve balanced on heads with remarkable aplomb, starred in a multitude of ridiculous Photo Booth dramas (don’t ask) and, of course, perched atop a certain Justin Bieber doll to the delight of many. Looking back, I don’t know how I functioned without having such unadulterated hilarity in my life.

Indeed, 2012 promises good things—amusement involving a special pair of lizards, chief among them.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (when I’m not at Animal Specialties stocking up on crickets and counsel). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Creatures of Habit

I have a favorite pair of sweatpants that I’ve owned since the Precambrian period. They’re a tired shade of gray, with barely a suggestion of the navy lettering that once graced its cottony surface. American Eagle, I think.

Of course, they’re shamefully dilapidated, torn and tattered beyond all repair. My mother-in-law, master seamstress and sock darner extraordinaire, dug deeply into her repertoire of needle-and-thread-ish miracles time and again to patch them up and make them whole—or at least to make them presentable. Sometimes she succeeded. Sometimes not. Mostly she just shook her head; dismayed by my stubbornness—and astonished by my inability to recognize when something had long since passed its prime. Then again, I have trouble in the produce aisle.

I admit; most would be embarrassed to be seen with me, clad in such disgraceful toggery, kneecaps naked to the world. What am I saying? My DOG is embarrassed to be seen with me. But the silly things have charm and character and that beloved quality of familiarity. Slipping into said fleeciness in the middle of January or even during a cool summer’s eve feels cozy and oh-so-comfortable—like the warmth of a lover’s arms, the refuge of a mother’s embrace, the company of an old friend. And on those rare occasions, when I entertain the notion of trading them in for something shiny and new, I feel nothing less than the shame of betrayal. The ignominy of sin.

Simply put, I cannot bear the thought of parting with my cherished garb; although my rational left-brained self knows better. The wretched things need to be ditched. Out with the old. In with the new.

I suppose I’m no better or worse than anyone else who has ever been mired in denial, inextricably attached to all-that-is-worn-and-hackneyed. We all have issues of a similar sort. Some are just more debilitating than others. That being said, my husband refuses to chuck any of his shabby, old t-shirts, which are perhaps some of the most pathetic examples of apparel on the face of the earth (second only to my sweatpants). Indeed, he lovingly deems those prized entities as something far from archaic. “They’re seasoned,” he defends. “Broken-in like a good leather ball glove.” He won’t dispose of his blasted water shoes either, which now sport portholes through which his toes protrude freely. Gak! Oddly enough, the man owns another pair. Brand spanking new ones with nary a defect. He bought them because he knew it was time for a change, only he couldn’t follow through. Apparently, it’s against his religion.

Needless to say, dysfunction doesn’t fall far from our family tree. Eccentricity flourishes under this roof and there is barely a day without someone hoarding something that ought not to. Ratty toothbrushes, Band-Aid boxes (Hello Kitty, of course), rocks of all shapes and sizes, bits and scraps of discarded paper, foolish tripe found on the bus or at school. And the list goes on. But the most bizarre item yet has been a brown paper snack bag for which a certain seven-year-old developed a crippling affinity. The bag itself was quite ordinary with regard to its form and function, however when its tour of duty surpassed the bounds of reasonableness (a month, maybe?), that’s when I hit the “Now this is just about ENOUGH!” button. “I can’t keep patching up these stinking holes with tape! It’s ridiculous! The bag is a train wreck!” (Read: I have taped tape on top of tape, and if I have to tape anymore, I’m going to screeeeeam! This is not a freakingtriage center for paper goods!)

Of course, we have a bazillion perfectly wonderful bags (WITHOUT CAVERNOUS HOLES) that have been at my daughter’s disposal since September. Bags begging to be toted to school…eager to be personalized with her scratches and scribbles…hankering for the opportunity (tedious though it might be) to house the EXACT SAME SNACK each and every day from now till eternity!

“But I like my bag. And my teacher likes my bag. She thinks the doggies I drew on it are pretty. I’m keeping it for-ever and EVER! And the little holes are cool because they let me peek inside to see what I have for my snack.” Are you forgetting, my dear child, that you ask for the SAME thing every day?! Apparently so. That being said, we couldn’t use duct tape for the massive and multiple repairs (tempting though it might have been), because that would negate the whole peeking-at-the-stupid-snack dealie. Arrrrg!

The kid will probably grow up to be a sock darner. It’s also likely I’ll be buried in my sweatpants.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at http://www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Ode to Oblivion

I envy my dog at times. I suppose it’s because he seems perpetually happy—aside from the instances during which his neurotic little soul is seized by that which triggers a barking frenzy (i.e. when he encounters joggers with or without headbands, school buses and garbage trucks, people who ostensibly smell funny and practically every sound of undetermined origin). For the most part, however, his days are filled with the quiet contentment of gnawing on Barbie dolls and plastic dinosaurs, hauling underwear and sweat socks into the kitchen with glee and, of course, whizzing indiscriminately. In a word, he doesn’t worry his fuzzy little head over much of anything—even as newscasters here and abroad deliver disturbing bulletins day in and day out as a matter of course.

Indeed, my dear dog is blissfully unaware of all the horrible things that have happened across the globe (or that may occur) on any given day. That said, he is largely unaffected by reports of natural disasters, financial ruin, personal tragedies, heinous crimes, political upheaval and societal unrest. Never mind the special brand of awful that occasionally befalls our happy home. Simply put, his pea brain is incapable of processing such information; ergo he lacks the ability to catastrophize events like I do. And by catastrophize I mean to paint every picture with the worst-case scenario brush and to become deeply consumed with worry and dread over that which will probably never happen anyway.

Granted there are plenty of things in my life that represent legitimate causes for concern—my parents’ health, my daughter having recently totaled her car and the uncertain nature of my roof and refrigerator, circa the Paleozoic Era. Need I even mention my dog’s crippling affinity for hamsters, coupled with an eagerness to sample the wee furry beasts—or my husband’s beloved cell phone, which has been MIA for 22 days running? Not that anyone’s been counting. Alright we’ve been counting. And pacing. And wringing our hands in exasperation.

However the vast majority of stressing I do is patently absurd. I worry about becoming discombobulated in public, about our pet frogs reproducing to an unprecedented and unmanageable degree, about the prospect of our obscenely overloaded garage harboring some sort of immune-resistant virus involving fetid soccer cleats, about the frightening odds of our children marrying Republicans. I also trouble myself with the notion that my husband will one day wise up and leave me, opting for the greener pastures of normalcy. What’s more, I fret about the contents of my kids’ backpacks and whether or not they remembered to pack library books and snacks. I obsess over the color of their socks, the integrity of their bike helmets and the current state of their toenails. Coughs bother me, too. As do unexplained rashes and nosebleeds.

Admittedly, I am a fusspot-of-a-mother and I spend way too much time in a not-so-quiet state of panic over decidedly remote possibilities—like pandemics spread by way of earwax, apocalyptic wars over the fate of the new (and purportedly improved) Facebook and world domination by creatures (think: giant spiders!) whose hideousness has yet to be fully imagined. For the record, I won’t be seeing Contagion anytime soon and I was all but convinced that a bus-sized chunk of space debris that was destined to fall from the sky last week would land squarely on our home. Indeed, I have issues.

Clearly I would do well to refrain from inviting fear and worry into my world. To stop thinking about all the thinking I do. To spend a moment inside my dog’s carefree little mind, basking in the glory of oblivion. But perhaps what I need more than anything, as my friend Sally recently suggested, are stabilizers—the sort that steady ships in rough seas, providing a goodly measure of stability and assurance for all concerned. Yep. Stabilizers—for every neurotic corner of my life.

Then again, the Land of Oblivion carries a certain appeal, too.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (envying my dog). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Normal is Relative

Welcome to My Dysfunctional World

I have a confession to make. I suffer from a completely debilitating and utterly incurable fixation—with my kitchen counters. More specifically, with keeping them clean day and night.  Maybe it stems from my well documented germ phobia, perhaps from my fanatical loathing of clutter or quite possibly it could somehow be traced to my never-ending desire to control my environment. There’s always the off chance I do it to mark territory, too—to send a clear message to those who would dare smear peanut butter, dribble jelly or toss junk mail upon that which is sacred.

Or maybe it’s simply because this particular space represents the last bastion of order that exists in my entire world (aside from my sock drawer) and I feel compelled to protect and preserve it with every ounce of my being. A bit theatrical, I agree. Dysfunctional, no doubt. But wouldn’t life be dreadfully dull without a touch of drama and dysfunction sprinkled here or there? That’s my motto. Welcome to my world.

What’s funny is that my obsession with cleaning pretty much ends there. In the kitchen. On the counters. And nowhere else. I just don’t seem to experience those overwhelming urges to dust and scrub and disinfect anywhere else. Not in the living room. Not in the den. Not even in the car or bathrooms. Nope. Genuine motivation (like knowing that guests will soon make landfall) must strike in those instances. Relentless nagging works too.

But my kitchen is a different story. I’m sure most would take one look and classify me as “thoroughly possessed” when it comes to the counter arena. It has that pristine no-one-really-lives-here look, like it had been snatched from the pages of Good Housekeeping under the featured article: Fabulous Kitchen Spaces for the Cleaning Fanatic in Your Home. Admittedly, I qualify as the fanatic in this family—at least as far as the kitchen counters go.

Once the cooking is finished I am literally driven to remove every trace of food, drip of water or dirtied dish instantaneously. To restore everything to its proper place in the universe in what many would deem record time; like it’s an Olympic event or something. Albeit an odd one. Beyond the basics of tidying up, the canisters and pasta jars have to be angled just so, fake fruit arranged perfectly in its bowl and the larger-than-necessary cluster of wooden spoons must somehow resemble a bouquet of freshly picked daisies. Maybe the term “odd” doesn’t adequately describe my dysfunction here.

I probably need therapy.

Strangely enough, those powerful impulses to clean and clear often hit me WHILE I’m actually cooking (not to worry, I don’t cook all that much). So in effect, the two rather diverse tasks become nearly simultaneous events—which for some reason drives my husband absolutely berserk. Perhaps it’s because he has a different approach to the fine art of preparing meals. I have affectionately termed his primary objective, “put-every-blasted-ingredient-dish-and-utensil-under-the-sun-on-the-countertops-and-leave-them-there-indefinitely-so-as-to-annoy-the-wife.” I find his habit of sprinkling flour hither and yon to be equally irksome. Maybe he’s the one marking territory. Not surprisingly, this master chef also subscribes to the theory: The bigger the mess, the better the meal. Needless to say, he has prepared a number of very fine meals over the years.

I suppose, though, I’ll continue to endure, as the payoff is decidedly delicious; and besides it’s not nearly as distressing as I found the insufferable Baby Bottle Era. Oy. At that time, our counters served as a veritable purgatory for plastic whateverness (i.e. drip-drying fucking forever). Sippy cups, teething rings, pacifiers, bottles, lids and those dastardly little valve-like components I never quite mastered blanketed our countertops night and day. I distinctly recall fantasizing about the disappearance of said ugliness.

Like I said, I have this fixation….

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2005 Melinda L. Wentzel

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