A Tale of Two Boxes

After a recent brush with local tornadoes, my husband and I simultaneously placed mail orders for surviving any upcoming disasters we may encounter.

Me: Honey, we got two huge deliveries in the mail today. The box addressed to you is heavy, has been inspected by the NSA and is wearing camouflage.

Him: Oh great, the supplies I ordered from the Preppers website came.

Me: Ugh. Izod is so 1983.

Him: (Opening the really big box.) Not preppie—“Prepper.” You know like those people who prepare for an impending doomsday?

Me: I prefer to be called a Progressive. But whatever.

Him: (Ignoring my passive-aggressive politics.) With that tornado that touched down this week, I thought we should have more emergency supplies on hand.

Me: (Inspecting the contents.) Just how long do you think tornadoes last because you’ve got enough nonperishable food here for months.

Him: 2 months worth for 10 people to be exact.

Me: Is there a weather phenomenon that renders your tastebuds useless because I’m not sure the circumstances that would make me want to eat a pouch of creamed chipped beef.

Him: That will be a luxury if the power goes out for more than an hour.

Me: (Unimpressed.) An hour-long power outage would be the luxury if you couldn’t order from weird websites.

Him: (Checking out the 5 gallon drum of apple cobbler.) What was that, dear?

Me: I said, good thinking. (Inspecting one of the bags.) Um, what are these pouches of purified drinking water?

Him: In case there’s no fresh water supply, duh. And if we run out of those I have tablets to turn our urine into safe drinking water.

Me: (Horrified.) If we are ever in situation where we’re considering drinking human waste is a good idea I hope there’s cyanide tablets in there too because I’m out.

Him: Here’s a campstove made from a pie tin and a fire pit that needs no matches, but I also got waterproof ones just in case.

Me: The future looks grim.

Him: The future looks prepared. (Looking over at my ordered box.) What did you order for the emergency cause?

Me:

Me:

Me:

Him: (Opening my box. Coughing, choking, and then what appears to be sobbing.) You ordered a case of margarita glasses?

Me: (Backing out of the room.) We all have our coping mechanisms.

Him: (Disgusted.) I’m taking this stuff downstairs.

Me: (Apologetically.) The glasses are shatterproof…

© 2017 Tracey Henry

Just in case you needed visual proof to this tale…

Just when you thought it was safe to answer your door during cookie season, my husband and I discuss sales strategy…

Him: What’s with the thousands of cardboard cases in the garage? Did you go to the wine store today?

Me: No. Duh, wine store day is Friday and it’s only Tuesday. No, they’re cookies.

Him: ?

Me: Girl Scout Cookies. I thought I told you, I’m Cookie Mom again this year.

Him: (Choking in shock.) Didn’t we just settle the lawsuit from the last time you were cookie mom?

Me: Statute of Limitations. Or something. And it’s Cookie Mom with a capital C.M.

Him: I call capital B.S. Isn’t this like your 4th or 5th time? And do we even still have a kid in Scouts?

Me: I re-signed her to a limited contract before the trade deadline. And it’s my 11th. Or something.

Him: And don’t you dislike this experience?

Me: Immensely. But I was nominated.

Him: (Scoffs.) By people who have never met you?

Me: Obviously. Nor did anyone read the coffee mug I was drinking that said, “World’s Worst Cookie Mom.”

Him: Maybe the Chardonnay you were day drinking out of said coffee mug should have also tipped them off.

Me: (Ignoring him.) It was a Sauvignon Blanc because I’m classy. (Pausing.) I’ve decided to take my sales approach in a different direction.

Him: By way of the insane asylum where I’ll be residing while you lament over spreadsheets and Pinterest?

Me: No, although if you want to see my epic pins on booth decorations at Kroger, that can be arranged. I was thinking of a more direct, aggressive sales perspective.

Him: What’s wrong with the passive-aggressive posts you’ve left on the neighborhood ListServ you’ve always relied on in the past?

Me: (Smiling sheepishly in recollection.) Ok, maybe I’ll save that tactic as well—I got an extra half dozen boxes from Mrs. Kravitz last year telling her they were an appropriate snack for the neighborhood pond fowl, Ron Swanson. (Shaking off the pleasant reverie.) But I was thinking about really embracing the project more. Going really big—flyers, billboards, sales incentives. A multi-level social media campaign. Really connecting with my inner Thin Mint.

Him: Why not your inner lemon cookie because you’re really starting out fairly sweet but I know you’ll be bitter in the end.

Me: (Gazing upon the endless sea of cookies beached in the garage.) Or you could just Do-Si-Do over to that blank order form and bring it to work and get the majority of sales from your coworkers while I get creative with all of the excess inventory I’ve overbought?

Him: (Sighing resignedly as we both knew it would end up in this vein from the beginning.)

Me: (Relieved.) Now hand me some more boxes of the shortbread. I’m breading some tilapia for Ron Swanson with it.

©2017 Tracey Henry

Previous thoughts on Cookie Mom-ming

Hello, again, hello

If you are an old friend and reader from my past, welcome back. You know the drill: don’t take anything I say too seriously but know I speak (mostly) truth. It’s great to see you again.

If you are new to this side of the picket fence, welcome. If you are reading this for the first time, you probably just read an annotated version of Thelma and Louise’s Summer Adventure Series or I got arrested and the evening news just referenced this blog as evidence of my weakened mental state. Spoken truth as well.

In either case, I believe some reintroductions are in order.

Hi, I’m Tracey. Or Suburban Diva, and I’m a kidder from way back. This blog is so old in fact, that it was around before there were blogs—just thoughts written on internet sites that no longer exist in the dark ages of 2002. It has been featured there, on various other websites, my own, a syndicated newspaper column, a monthly magazine, a book, and no doubt in psychiatric journals across the globe. It has mostly been a light-hearted pursuit through motherhood, suburbia, cooking, holidays, politics, travel, spousal transcripts. Occasionally, more serious subjects are addressed like oddly specific medical advice and missing my mom.

Some things are evergreen, and some things have changed. We’ve relocated from Florida to Nashville (like a million years ago, where have you been?) and we’ve got a college student, high schooler, middle schooler and elementary student among our ranks these days. Sean is still solidly my co-star on this cast of crazies, and I’ve somehow talked Louise into a recurring role. And of course, Mrs. Kravitz, (we all have a Mrs. Kravitz) follows me to every neighborhood.

Another solid fact with no alternative? This place has brought me a lot of joy and connected me to some really great people in real life, and hopefully you’ve shared a few laughs or tears with me along the way.

Let’s see if we can bring some of that to 2017.

I think we all could use a little.

©2017 Tracey Henry

Wrapping Up 2016 In HOA Violation Notices

January 30, 2016

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Diva,

While we all have enjoyed your “Hillbilly Holiday” display, we respectfully request you remove the remnants of it as soon as possible. We have received a number of complaints that many of your inflatable yard decorations have “flown” into other homeowner’s yards, trees, and, in one tragic instance, a pool filter, outdoor fire pit and an angry wasps’ nest. Also, your extensive use of laser light cannons may have been altered to supersede residential uses and we have been notified by the FAA and NASA to cease and desist.

February 19th

Dear Residents,

Please be advised that due to the recent inclement weather, driving conditions in the neighborhood can be hazardous. Curiously, there is a particularly dangerous stretch on a portion of one of our side streets in which the ice is almost deliberately thicker than anywhere else and there seems to be blue and red lines spray painted on with a face-off circle.

Use extreme caution when driving past this particular house.

March 17, 2016

To the party that put the green dye in the neighborhood pond, please know we are actively investigating and will fine the guilty homeowner accordingly. Our resident water fowl, Ron Swanson, will require extensive cleaning for his stained feathers.

And to clarify, we house a neighborhood swan, not any “long-necked geese.”

April 19, 2016

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Diva,

Congratulations on the purchase of your new (or rather used-looking) R.V. This is just a friendly reminder that according to HOA rules, campers may be parked in your driveway for a maximum of 24 hours. We currently have you calculated at 52 days.

5/20/2016

Happy Summer, Neighbors! We are happy to announce that the community pool is now open for your use. And as a friendly reminder, we’d like you all to re-familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations found in the Covenants. Of particular note is the proper attire for the pool, and that floating coolers and poker tables are not permitted at any time—even during Adult Swim.

And we don’t have Adult Swim.

July 1st, 2016

Please note your 3rd quarter dues are now due. The increase in this month’s amount is for the rental of the construction equipment needed for the removal of several holiday inflatables that became aloft during last month’s storms and became entangled in the lights on the tennis courts. We had to enlist veterinary professional help to remove the Larry the Cable Guy on a 4-wheeler sleigh from Ron Swanson’s nest.

We are still researching veterinary psychologists for his possible continuing care.

8/25/16

Please be advised that the power outage we experienced earlier has been remedied. Apparently, the transformer blew after a surge resulting from powering several commercial daiquiri machines and outdoor speakers from a resident’s back yard.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

October 10, 2016

As you begin to decorate for Halloween, the Board would like to remind you to keep your decor tasteful and safe. This includes the use of open flames lining sidewalks, real concrete tombstones jutting out of lawns, and by all means, decapitated mannequins in the hedgerows are all ill-advised. Our regular mail carrier is still on disability leave as a result from last year’s incident.

November 2016

As a reminder during election season: Please note that there are no yard signs of any kind permitted in the neighborhood. This includes political signs supporting any candidate, mascots for sports teams or adult beverage choices.

December 1, 2016

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Diva,

We have noticed your annual holiday decorations are being erected. While we appreciate the limited use of inflatable decorations this year, the live nativity may also be in violation of HOA covenants. All residents are limited to only two (2) pets per property, and the reindeer—although festive—are not covered under the clause.

And while we have no evidence of the responsible party, we hope that you possess no knowledge as to whom tied the 6 inflatable swans behind Ron Swanson in a conga line in the neighborhood pond with “7 SWANS A SWIMMING” emblazoned on the plastic birds.

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s make some trouble together.

©2017 Tracey Henry

#Goals

I don’t think that I’m alone in my sincere intention of achieving my Mom Back to School Goals.

The execution of these objectives is another story altogether.

We’ve just completed the first full week of school, and I’m evaluating my progress.

Goal: Buy all the uniforms in June during the sale.

Result: I did place my order promptly at 11:50 p.m. on June 30th. Except I mistakenly clicked on adult sizes instead of the youth option, and the girls look like they shrunk this summer. (The shirts did not, however.)

Goal: Save time by ordering their shoes online to be sure I’d get the correct ones in stock.

Result: Band-Aids had to be worn the entire first week of school and reminded of the that sage advice passed down from the pioneers, “Objects on screen are not what they seem.”

Goal: Reestablish healthy sleep cycles before school starts.

Result: Lots of late-night infomercials and afternoon naps with complete insomnia amnesia for the first month of 4th grade.

Goal: 2 words: Bento. Boxes.

2 Word Results: Bread. Butts.

Goal: Schedule all appointments and checkups in the summer months.

Result: 1 tardy and 2 early-checkouts during week 1.

Goal: Summer reading assignments completed early.

Result: *See Sleeping Goal.

Goal: Ask insightful and engaging parental questions at School Open House.

Result: “Is there an open bar?” does not count. Apparently.

Goal: Prepare healthy, home-cooked dinners every weeknight.

Result: Nothing says failure like a Papa John’s box. On a Tuesday. With no extracurriculars to blame.

Goal: Be that mom that they all talk about in carline.

Result: Over-achieved.

Check back in with me for my New Year’s Resolutions.

Postscript and legal notes

Now that we’ve been back a few days and Louise’s legal team has had a chance to review the material, (she’s so high maintenance) I thought I’d offer a couple of clarifications from our recent trip.

~All of the mystery rashes and various infections have been cleared up. The only conditions remaining uncured are severe post-expedition depression and a renewed urgency for adventure.

~The children were indeed scarred by the white rental van experience. I see a physical shudder run through them all whenever we pass one on the road. (Wait until they see what I’m picking them up in carpool this year.)

~Had we realized the Olympics would be starting so soon after our return, we may have kept driving south to Brazil and entered some of the rowing events. With Thelma and Louise’s ability to sail through rocky waters laden with sewage without ever missing a stroke, we’d medal for sure.

~We were all so taken with our Hide and Go Seek experience with the bears at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, that we decided to adopt a couple in appreciation. However, it turns out “adoption” doesn’t mean they actually come to Nashville to live with us and snuggle on the couch with a pot of honey, so I’m a little disappointed.

~In the movie (or Thelma and Louise sequel), I would like Julia Roberts to play me, and Louise requests Jennifer Aniston. Butch and Sundance are fine with their original actor portrayals, even posthumously as in the case of Paul Newman.

~As predicted, the RV earned her name about midway through the trip. Because she was a strong woman infamous for “her storytelling, bad mouth and heavy drinking that would make grown men blush combined with a penchant for wanderlust and all things unabashed, rambunctious and inappropriate,” our ship was aptly dubbed, “Calamity Jane.”

~C.J. once said, “I figure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one.” That isn’t the kind of woman who would drink Cupcake Pinot Grigio.

And certainly neither are Thelma and Louise.

By the Numbers

States visited–14
Miles traveled–4,285
Days on the road–20
Lost/Damaged Shoes–4
Cans of bear mace used–0
Diapers–78
Bags of ice–68
Collective hours of quality sleep–4.5
Car rentals–5
Number of times I called Louise by her real name–0
Quarters used for arcade and laundry–811
Campgrounds–7
Hotels–7
Cell phone data overages–36 GB
Times the door flew open while in motion–half dozen
Pizzas ordered–16 (but felt like 100)
S’mores consumed–144
Various road trip movie quotes heard/delivered–406
Fly traps bought and attempted–18
Diagnosed rashes–3
Undiagnosed–2
Blankies Fed-Exed to West Yellowstone from Cody, Wyoming–1
Summer reading assignments completed–a fraction of what was assigned
Temperature swing between destinations–60 degrees
Bandaids–62
Wine bottles bought in retail outlets–30-ish
Years Louise will have to live with her juice wine purchases–Eternity
Things we would change–0
Laughs–a million at least
Amazing and awe-inspiring sights–More than we dreamed
Memories made–Countless

19/20

After spending the morning shopping the Magnificent Mile, eating cheeseborgers, cheeseborgers, cheeseborgers (the real deal!) on Navy Pier, The Elite Eight came to the unanimous conclusion that we had done all we wanted to do, and it was time to go home. So we left Chicago, returned the rental car, pulled up stakes at the last campground, and boarded the fun bus one last time.

Thelma: You awake?
Louise: Guess you could call it that, my eyes are open.
Thelma: I’m awake too. I feel awake.
Louise: Good.
Thelma: I feel really awake. I don’t recall ever feeling this awake. You know? Everything looks different now. You feel like that? You feel like you got something to live for now?*
Louise: Drive for as long as you can–if you get tired you can always lay down in the back.
Thelma: You mean on the sheets with the bloody nose, exploded diaper and ground zero of the mystery rash?
Louise: That’d be the one.
Thelma: I think I’ll keep driving.**

Not exactly margaritas by the sea, but we made it to a Courtyard in Indianapolis.

*Actual original screenplay lines.
**Actual proposed sequel lines.

18

Today it was Thelma and Louise vs. Day 18.

Day 18 lulled us into a false sense of security during the long, smooth ride from Minneapolis across the green fields of Wisconsin on our way to our final destination of Chicago.

Day 18 gave us no traffic, clear roads and and beautiful weather as we made excellent time.

Day 18 was kind to us on gas and bathroom stops. She had the best radio stations to date.

Until late in the day across the Illinois state line.

Then she turned.

She started charging us ridiculous tolls every 10 feet. She switched up the descriptions of the campground to not provide a shuttle service to downtown as originally planned, but be 20 miles from the nearest train station and 55 from Miracle Mile. She needled the children for the first time all trip by not staying on her side nor keeping her hands to herself. She took the last of the diapers without telling anyone on the day in which that would be an issue. Then that minx of a day tried to make the slide on the RV malfunction and the battery need a reset.

Day 18 underestimated Thelma and Louise.

Just when Day 18 began her premature victory dance, our heroines rented a car–with seats!–so the night in Chicago would be saved. They crawled under the RV and did major mechanical work in record time. They drove like bosses through the countryside and tight city streets. (You should see Louise’s parking spot–epic.) And even when 18 closed the most famous deep dish pizza place in the city as we walked up tired and hungry due to a power outage, well, we went to the 2nd best a few blocks away and got a table for 8 in 5 minutes.

Did you really think that after a half dozen different campgrounds on this trip alone that you’d catch us flappable when the guy said our site was for 5 not 8? And that diaper thing–I bet you were counting on that for that to be a potty training moment in a Culver’s in rural Illinois.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DEALING WITH, DAY 18????*

If you need character references, I suggest you go back to your associates, Days 14 and 9. Meanwhile, you can just fade off into the sunset and we will meet 20 on Michigan Avenue tomorrow.**

(*This is by no means a challenge, Day 18. If there are any misunderstanding today, we apologize profusely and no need for you to seek revenge or a reappearance.)

(**Faithful Reader, if this seems like a lemons to lemonade post, you would be correct. Our version was in the form of a carafe of Italian Lemonade served at Gino’s East to accompany our deep dish.)

Day 17

Butch, Sundance and the three eldest members of our crew departed by air today from Minneapolis, leaving the band of adventurers to the Elite Eight.

Their departure also begins our final leg of this tour. As much of this country’s natural beauty and splendor that we have discovered and enjoyed these past 2 1/2 weeks, we will now attempt to explore the Urban Jungle on our way back home to Tennessee.

That expedition began today with a thorough exploration of the Mall of America. We learned about new species such as the adolescent mutated tortoises with an affinity for the martial arts. We saw sea sponges with pants and blue dogs at the Nickoledeon Universe; and dined with giant automated gorillas and elephants in the wild at the Rainforest Cafe.

Provisions are at a 2 week low as we try to make it home without salmonella after turning the refrigerator off and on so many times for battery concerns. Clean laundry is at a premium now; and all of our matching Mt. Fischmore Henrystone t-shirts are long past their prime so the only identifying marks to our tribe are the tattoos from the mystery rash and the pinkeye. Louise and I have resorted to ordering by the glass.

Tomorrow we scoop up what’s left of the kids after 37 times on the Brain Surge ride, and continue on to the next unfriendly hockey city, Chicago. There are some unique logistic challenges to this particular stretch in the RV, so I’d tell you to stay by your phones ready to accept a call for help, but we are so far over our data allowances for the month we can’t place an outgoing call until our billing cycles reset in August.

Which is probably when we will see home again at this rate.