Laundry and College in 7 Easy Steps

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Dear Chloe,

Your dad called me at work and said that you said I forgot to teach you how to do laundry. Perhaps you think it was some sort of parental failing on my part, but actually it was intentional. I washed your clothes for the past eighteen years so you could spend your time on more important things like studying, resume building, and improving your social ranking on the Kardashian app.

But since you are leaving for the dorms tomorrow, it’s time to learn. Here is a simple set of instructions.

1. First, check the label of anything expensive or fancy to see if it needs to be dry-cleaned. Set garment aside. On second thought, forget that. You can’t afford dry-cleaning. Why did we even buy something that’s dry-clean only? Let’s donate it and take the tax write off. We need the money to pay for that college.

2. Next, separate DARKS from WHITES. Okay, go ahead and say it, I’ll just wait. “That’s so racist!” Hah! That never gets old. You kids are so clever. Now back to it. Blues, greys, blacks, purples go in one dark pile. Reds, oranges, and pinks go in another. That’s your RED pile. White’s go in a separate pile – a separate but unequal pile. Why are they unequal? Because they need bleach. But we’ll get to that later.

3. Now you’re ready to wash. Can you feel the excitement? Start by taking the darks and throwing them in the machine. Set dial to cold water. Set other dial to permanent press or 8 or 10 or 12 minutes. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter. Pour in a cap full of soap (or less, because detergent is really expensive and you rarely exercise so your clothes don’t get that stinky). Turn machine on by pulling knob or pushing something or by inserting some sort of monetary offering.

4. When it’s done (the machine stops shaking and making noise), it’s time to separate them again. All those shorty short shorts you have – good Lord we don’t want them to get any shorter so pull them out. Same goes for all those cheaply made blouses, skirts, and shirts. Hang dry these items in your room using anything: hooks, closet doors, chairs, or bunk beds, but be sure not to encroach too much on your two roommates. Hah, two roommates. I still can’t believe there’s going to be three of you in that tiny little room. What a nightmare! But you’ll be fine, really. I’m sure. Just always be considerate of your roommates. Don’t be messy and don’t leave food bits in the room because that will attracts ants or worse. And you don’t want worse. Then again, don’t be a pushover either. If they do something annoying, you gotta say something. Like if they’re bringing dudes home every night, don’t put a pillow over your head and pretend not to notice, tell them to knock that S%& off!

5. Okay, for the RED load repeat steps 3 & 4. Now if (and only if) your reds are really old and there aren’t enough machines available, then just throw them in with the dark load. But frankly, with the money we’re paying for that place, there damn well better be enough machines available. Speaking of which, don’t forget you are a paying customer at that school. If you’re not getting the classes you need, you have to raise a stink. Don’t get enrolled in “Finnish Folk Art and Technology” or “The Films of Jean-Claude Van Damme” cause then you’ll end up taking five years to graduate and we can’t afford that! Also, you need to suck up to your professors (figuratively of course) and don’t worry about being labeled a teacher’s pet. This isn’t high school. You need professors to be on your side to get the most out of this place. Did I mention the cost?

6. Now let’s do WHITES. Simply turn the water temperature to hot. Repeat step 3 & 4, but add a little bit of bleach, like a half a cup or so in that little doohickey near the top. Speaking of hot water, your first job there is to get an education. Remember that. Study first, and then have fun. School. Work. Fun. That is the order of priorities. Remember, moderation is key. If you are going to ignore our advice and the laws of the land, at least don’t be the drunkest, druggiest girl at the party. Watch your glass and please, please, please, avoid designer drugs with cutesy names like Smiles or Spice or Special K. That stuff will kill you. Seriously. Just stick with good old-fashioned weed, and only a hit or two is all you need. It’s stronger than it used to be. Or so I’ve heard.

7. It’s time to DRY! Those few remaining items that don’t need to hang-dry can be combined into one economical dryer load. Set the dial to medium or low (never dry hot or you’ll think the Freshman 15 has already happened), and then push the button. Easy, huh?

Let’s see, did I forget anything . . . oh, wash your towels every few days, sheets once every week or two, but don’t let it go three or that’s just gross. Maybe buy some dryer sheets, always use protection, and as any working adult will tell you, have a blast because for the rest of your life you’ll wish you could go back.

Love, Mom.

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Why Moms Hate Summer Vacation

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7A – Wake and have breakfast with bleary-eyed Kid #1 who has not seen this hour, or any time close to it, since school ended two weeks earlier.

8A – Drop Kid #1 at Girl Scout sponsored nature park clean up.  Speed off in car leaving behind giant cloud of dust and pretend that I don’t hear other mom’s last minute request for “extra hands.”

8:30A – Return home and get breakfast for Kid #2 and Kid #3, dog and cat.

9:20A – Drop DVD rentals at video store including dreadful one kids insisted upon starring a fangless, yet still sullen, Robert Pattinson.  Regret wasting $5.00 yet delight in “I told you so” afterglow.

9:30A – Pack Kid #2 and Kid #3 in car again and pick up remarkably unsoiled Kid #1. Return home and make mid-morning snack for Kids #1, #2 and #3.

10:30A – Go to grocery store for more supplies.

12:00N – Make lunch for Kids #1, #2 and #3.

1:00P – Take Kid #1 to fashion design sketching class.  Fantasize about her upcoming career as famous fashion designer, including guest judge appearance on Project Runway.  Acknowledge that Kid #1 will likely live at home for a very long time.

1:30P – Take Kid #3 to swim-date at friend’s house.  During drive get instructed by Kid #3 that I shouldn’t get out of the car when we get there, for fear I will engage in a long conversation with her friend’s mom, thus ruining the whole experience.

2:00P – Return home and learn that Kid #2 hijacked my cell phone to text an invitation to friend for swim-date at our house.

2:30P – Welcome Kid #2A and immediately prepare snacks for Kid #2 and Kid #2A.

3:00P – Abandon plans to do laundry or anything really because must now supervise swim-date.

4:00P – Pick up Kid #1 from sketch class.  Make futile attempts to glean information about content of said class.

5:30P – Feed dinner to Kid #2 and Kid #2A.  Pour self a heart-healthy glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Realize may not drink heart-healthy Cabernet Sauvignon as still need to take Kid #2 and #2A to #2A’s recently separated father’s new apartment to “check it out” and watch a movie.

6:00P – Take Kid #1 to coed birthday party for now 14-year-old friend.  (Read laughably tiny font at bottom of invitation indicating that there will be parental supervision.)

6:15P – Take Kid #2 and #2A to the dad’s pad.  Take note of ne’r-do-well teens hanging out on balconies of neighboring apartments.  Silently wish that 11-year-old Kid #2 and her friend, Kid 2A did not already look like leggy teens.

6:30P – Drop Kid #3’s overnight bag at her friend’s house in order to accommodate impromptu sleepover invitation.  Sadly decline offer of libation, due to aforementioned driving duties.

7:00P – Return to find husband home from work.  Detect goofy grin on husband’s face.  Listen as husband points out that the kids are all gone, heh, heh, and you know what that could mean.  Offer up, “Umm, we have control of the remote?”

8:00P – Phone rings.  Kid #3 wants to cancel sleepover date.  Pick up Kid #3 and reassure her on drive home that her friend’s house does not have ghosts.  The white blur in the hallway likely just the pasty daddy legs of her friend’s father

9:30P – Pick up Kid #2 from the bachelor pad apartment.  Inquire as to the rating of already watched movie.  Convince self that she meant to say she saw The Squeakquel and not The Saw sequel.

10:00P – Pick up Kid #1 from the birthday party.  Conduct inconspicuous sniffing in entryway to smell for booze and cigarettes.  Thankfully detect none.  Note that birthday girl’s parents look a good ten years older than at party’s start, four hours earlier.

10:30P – Return home and cajole kids into their beds.  Finally reach for glass of Cabernet, but decide it is too late to drink alcohol unless desire that awful morning headache.  Opt for butterscotch brownie and calcium-rich milk instead.

11:00P – Go online and research sleep-away camp availability for remainder of summer.  Send email inquiring if there is room for just one more.  Also ask if they take adults.

 

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Trendy, Trendy Culver City

Kristen Hansen Brakeman:

Check out Forrest Brakeman’s blog! (yes, my husband)

“Trendy Trendy Culver City”
You don’t need to have ever been there to understand.

Originally posted on Forrest Brakeman:

imgres One current jewel of the great Southern California Basin is trendy, trendy Culver City, located near the Eastern border checkpoints blocking the way into the desirable West Side.

If you bypass Checkpoint Charlie, and sneak in through the still active oil fields of Baldwin Hills, you can find this hip and in-demand town firmly nestled in the armpit of the Santa Monica Freeway and the San Diego Freeway, two of the most heavily travelled roads in the country, making it impossible to get to or from trendy, trendy Culver City.

Originally occupied by the Tongva-Gabrielino originals for over 8,000 years, the area was taken by the people who deserved it more, and developed by Harry Culver, who coined the phrase “All Roads Lead To Culver City,” which in fact was not even close to true at the time – it was in the middle of nowhere.

But before long, the…

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THE CHOPPER SAGA: PART THREE (In Which His Reign of Terror Comes to an End)


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Almost two years had passed since I’d begrudgingly welcomed a dragon breath, mangy furred, one-eyed shaky little mutt into our home.

We inherited Chopper from my in-laws who, in a final display of their wicked sense of humor, left us their smelly, obese, geriatric dog instead of a palatial estate.

I didn’t really want him.  After all, I had already welcomed three kids, a cat, and my devoted German shepherd mix, Buddy, into my heart and home.   There was no room for more.

But the little dog needed a place to live, and given his age and poor health, I figured it would only be for a few months anyway, so I agreed. Continue reading

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A Stranger’s Hands . . . Touching Me?

17_fashion_spa_stock_photo_170415My friends and I were pretty stressed out from overseeing the whole college application thing and needed a boozy night to decompress.

So one of my good friends offered to host a small cocktail party where we could share information, compare notes, and let’s be honest, complain about our kids.  After inserting a drink into my hand , our lovely host told me that she had hired a masseuse friend of hers to provide free mini-massages to help relieve our stress.

“Oh that’s, fantastic!” I said, lying through my teeth.

In truth, just the idea of getting a massage made me even more stressed out and instantly uptight. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never enjoyed getting massages from strangers.  I guess I just can’t relax, and any pleasure I feel is offset by my overwhelming angst.
Continue reading

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I’ve Been Translated!

Hey, I’m big in Germany !

My 10 Parenting Tips The Experts Won’t Tell You column was on Huffington Post Parents and then got translated for the German version of Huffington Post.  For some reason I find this thrilling!

Check it out here -

And the English version here

Also – I wrote a piece for LitFactor  – about trying to get published.  It’s called “Writers Write and Other Lies”  Check it out here!

After this post, I promise not to jaw on about writing anymore and actually do some.

 

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Writers’ Roundtable

I was asked to participate in a Q and A about writing by the good people at WordPress.

Check it out here!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/freelance-writing/

Thanks!

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10 Parenting Tips You Won’t Hear From Experts

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I’m not a psychologist, pediatrician, or child development expert, but I do have three kids, one of whom is almost an adult. Over the years I’ve read a ton of parenting books, often desperate for insight or answers. But what I found is that most parenting advice is just trite hooey.  I mean, if we could all magically just nod off and “sleep when our baby sleeps” or “find ways to make time for ourselves,” then we wouldn’t be seeking advice in the first place.

I’ve made my own discoveries along the way.  Here are a few practical pieces of advice, things experts won’t tell you.

1) You don’t need to videotape every second.

Sometimes it’s nice to simply enjoy a school performance, soccer game, or birthday party without the burden of videotaping.  Besides, it’s better to videotape every day moments like your kids playing dress-up, building a fort, or having a conversation with their grandparents. They’ll mean a lot more to you in twenty years than some barely watchable clip of your kid standing behind 100 other kids singing, “Wacky Weather.”  Oh, and don’t bother getting cutaways and insert shots thinking you’re going to edit the video later. Trust me, it ain’t gonna happen.

2) Don’t volunteer during hectic months.

Arrive early at back-to-school night so you can have your choice of party signups. Pick the lesser holiday parties, like Valentines Day, Columbus Day, or even Arbor Day.  Don’t be stupid and sign up for the “Winter Holiday” party, because when December 18th rolls around and you haven’t started your “Winter Holiday” shopping, and your older daughter has a “Winter Holiday” choral performance that night, and your son needs help studying for his semester finals, the last thing you need is to suddenly remember that you signed up to bake twenty-five cupcakes for the fourth grade “Winter Holiday” Party. Continue reading

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The FAFSA – New and Improved!

coins-blurgEveryone hates the FAFSA college financial aid form.  It’s a pain in the neck to fill out, and for middle class families it seems like a big waste of time  – they won’t qualify for need-based aid anyway.

As usual, the government is quick to respond to complaints and is working on revising the form.  And thanks to the kids in my ten-year-old daughter’s “Learn to Code” class who accidentally hacked into the government’s website, I have an early version of the new, improved, FAFSA form.

Will it help middle class families?  Judge for yourself:

PARENTS’ ASSETS:

1. List sum of your parents’ assets plus the fabricated income they listed on line 7 of their federal tax return.

2. What about parents’ “other money” like what they’ve hidden in shady Cayman Island offshore accounts or under the names of dead relatives?  Also include change from sofa, coin jar in laundry room, and that wad of cash they have in the  top drawer of their bedroom dresser where every burglar knows to find it.

3. List amount parents stole from their fellow Americans in government handouts, bailouts, or other entitlements.

4. State the current value of your parents’ home using 2014 currency and assuming that home is listed for sale with the most shark-like real estate agent in town, or, what it’s worth on Zillow. Continue reading

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What Are You Wearing?

People that work on Award shows have to dress up too – or wear “show blacks”

But they clearly don’t expect people to ask them about it:

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