Tag Archives: parents

Corn Dog Shit Show


Just so we are clear, breading separation of this level = no longer edible to 5 year old

Being the ginormous food hog foodie that I am, I have always been very proud of the wide variety of food that Jr enjoys.

Until recently, that is.

If 4 years old was “the age of the questionable decision” (and oh, how it was,) then 5 is turning out to be “the age of the shrinking palate.”

Jr’s newest meal time battle cry has become “I don’t like that anymore.”

And people, let me tell you right now – mama ain’t down with it one damn bit.

After Jr tried to declare that carrots and broccoli (our last two approved true veggies) were now on his “do not eat list,” I went so far as to implement a “if you liked it when you were 3, you can’t unlike it now!” (Sorry, dude, but if 3 year old you would easily have eaten it, 5 year old you has to eat it too.  Because hashtag momlogic.)

Even with my MOTY rule in place, dinner time is substantially more hellish  eventful than it used to be.

Case in point, last night’s dinner… or as I immediately  took to calling it “The Corn Dog Shit Show.”

I gave Jr a prompt Heisman pose on his attempt to decide that he no longer liked the Morning Star Farms Corn Dogs that he loved as a 4 year old – because evidently vegan junk food is the hill that this mama decided was worth dying on.  Go figure.

Anyway, it worked and the kid decided that they were not only cleared for serving again, but actually his new-again favorite thing ever.  So for dinner last night when I offered a Corn dog instead of  the low carb Cheeseburger casserole thingy that The Mr. and I were having, his agreement was a level 2000 on a scale of 1-10.

Perfect, awesome, fantastic.  1 corndog, some grapes, and a yogurt tube (Simply Yo-plait ONLY, as he has decided that the Horizons tubes no longer meet his refined tastes,) coming up.

Except I wasn’t watching…. And if you overcook a vegan corndog, it blows up.

:::pause to de-corndog microwave:::

Round two is a success, and after a play session with the neighbor kid and a bike ride with dad, he was HUNGRY!

A corndog requires a 5-7 minute cooling time, which can be sped up by sticking the cooked dog back into the freezer. Skip this step and Jr’s delicious dinner becomes a molten mass of meat substitute lying in wait to scorch the taste buds off my offspring’s tender tongue.

All steps accomplished and we all sit down to din.

A third of the way through said perfectly cooled corndog, Jr decides to attempt to remove it from the stick, and half a blink later, it is on the floor, Potter has promptly wolfed it down, and Jr is has that pre-tantrum quiver in his lip.


I distract him with the yogurt tube and launch into emergency corndog prep procedure, cooking for 10 seconds, checking the temp, and going again – so as to produce a replacement that will be cool enough to eat PDQ, but not still a veggie-product popsicle in the center.

Just as the last grape goes into Jr’s mouth,  I sidle up beside him and hold out my microwaved creation, at the perfect temperature for instant ingestion.  Mom achievement unlocked.

The pride I took in this victory was far greater than any I ever felt in a kitchen – even when I made perfect puff pastry from scratch to ace my dreaded baking exam in culinary school.

We also had a quick lesson in pointing our corndog DOWN toward the plate if we are shoving it off of the stick, instead of pointing it up and firing it off of the stick like a cornbread-wrapped pop-bottle rocket.

One mealtime battle fought and won….  One food saved from 5 year old snubbery.   (Is that a word?  I am making it one.  I am the MF-ing corndog god… I can do that.)

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Maybe Reality Really DOES Bite.


Ya know what, Troy?   Cram it.  (Credit: http://www.spot.ph)

40 is coming. Or rather, I am currently rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell toward my 40th birthday in June. If you smash my twin sister and I together, that is 80 years of twinny “us-ness” on this planet. Scary stuff.

I didn’t think 40 was going to bug me. After all, 40 is the new 30, right? We are a FAR CRY away from the 40th birthday I remember my mom having, complete with coworkers stringing black streamers everywhere and outfitting her with a cane and veiled black hat to go with her “over the hill” cake.

That just isn’t what 40 means today. Think about who else is turning 40 this year. Reece Witherspoon. Ryan Reynolds. Melissa Joan Hart – Sabrina the teenage witch, yo! Keri Russell – awesome first name to match her awesome looks! 40 ain’t nothin’ at this point, right?    I remember thinking when Jennifer Aniston turned 40 (7 years ago, people,) that 40 was spectacular. That all you had to be by 40 was a grown-ass version of you. (With apologies to Troy from Reality Bites, because none of us knew ANYTHING at 23, really dude.)

But therein lies the rub. 7 years ago, 33 year old Keri was, if I remember correctly, putting some fairly substantial pressure on herself regarding her Jesus year, and thinking that “way far off into the future” of Keri-ness, at the ripe old age of 40, she would finally have gotten it together as a grown up.

Guess what? NOPE.

I am a warmed over mess. Don’t get me wrong, it is my warmed over mess… this is my 40 year old bed, I made it and I can lay in it, blah blah blah… It isn’t the whole “I’m so damn old, woe is my aged self” thing that has me reeling, although I do confess feeling kind of old of late. It’s the nagging “shouldn’t I feel like a dang grown up by now?” question. I am like, way far into this dog-and-pony show, right? At what point, exactly, am I going to stop feeling like I should be calling my mom to come and pick me up from this charade, because it MUST be way past my curfew? The ghosts of Keri-ages past would be pretty disturbed to know that at 40 it was all still going to be feeling like a total crap shoot. That sucks, yo.

I briefly considered diving into a good old-fashioned midlife crisis- but dipping my toe in those waters by taking an ill-advised shopping trip in the Juniors’ section for clothes that look ridiculous on me, drinking like a 23 year old at the neighbors’ house, taking on a bunch of contract work in all my free time so I can “do what I love,” and otherwise generally acting “un-Keri” just left me feeling embarrassed and desperate and old.

Man, I miss just feeling old.

So the midlife crisis is off the table, as I don’t have time for self-destruct just now since I can’t get even my adult shit together without that added BS.  There’s really no spare time to blow everything up when you are just hoping to get your kid and yourself out the door with lunch packed and pants on both of you, can I get an amen?

But what then? Or what now, I mean. Here I am being all old (but not,) coming to terms with the idea that maybe, JUST maybe, this is all there is.

I am not destined to change the world, or even my little corner of it. There is no cosmic line to cross or switch I have to find and flip to make things “the way they are supposed to be.” No fairy godmother is going to come donk me on the head and pronounce that I am now fully qualified for adulting and open a door to some wonderland of grown-up-edness.

I always pictured myself as the girl humming the Mary Tyler Moore theme song and whipping my hat off to toss as I spun around knowing I was “gonna make it after allllllll.”

But staring down the barrel of the very adult age of 40, all I seem to be able to muster is a half-hearted bit of the theme from “One Day at a Time.”   Then I realize that BOTH of those shows are so ancient, I can’t even come up-to-speed on TV references. AND I LOVE TV!

Again I find myself back at Reality Bites, and Troy; the-once-and-now-again voice of my generation…  Now it seems, is “the winter of my discontent.”  But Troy remains forever frozen in fresh-college-grad smuggery as he utters that line through his 90s facial hair.

Here in 2016 and MANY years away from my English lit degree, borrowing lines from Shakespeare seems awfully grand a way of phrasing the realization that I’ve been on the planet for 40 years and still cope with stressful situations primarily through nacho consumption and magical thinking.

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HOORAY for 2015

2015.  What a ride it has been. Join me in a walk down memory lane in some of my favorite and most popular posts, linked throughout the post.

I started the year with bacon and nostalgic weeping over Fisher Price Little People and tiny underpants, and we are indeed, now in the land of big boy beds and button up jammies, and coloring in the lines (he is better than me at this point.)   BUT, 2015 has been so much more than just that.

It was the year I got trapped in a car wash, the year my hair grew a mind of its own, and the year I got slightly less nostalgic about our former life in The Treehouse.

It was the final au revoir to a touchstone of my younger years, and the year I discovered that some hurt leaves holes in the heart that no amount of roast chicken can ever fill.

2015 gave me my most treasured and proudly worn laugh line.


For Jr it ushered in The Age of the Questionable Decision, and gave him ample opportunity to shake his preschooler head at his nutty mom’s behavior, (and occasionally pay her back for it. Just Sayin’.)


For The Mr, it was a year of deep, important questions…

Questions like “How’d she end up sick?” and “What the hell is that giant pear for, anyway?”


It was the year I mortified the barbecue man.  (Seriously though dude, you have LOTS of company in that, I promise.)

2015 was the year that I clarified my stance on the all-important and extremely divisive issue of leggings usage. (Not Pants. NOT.)


It has been a great year, and fantastic to share the ups and downs, ins and outs, and highs and lows with all of you!

I appreciate you taking the time to read – I look forward to trying some new things here on Reluctantly Suburban in 2016, and I hope that each of you will join in with me.

Happy new year!

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The Shop

I am officially no longer the plumbing princess of the Northern Suburbs.
I didn’t bestow that title on myself, it was actually a (clearly misguided) guidance counselor in our youth that called Dr Sissy and myself that, once upon a time.
I digress.
This morning, after 20 years of business ownership, my parents signed the papers selling their plumbing and HVAC company to a new owner and officially started the retired portion of their life together. I am so proud of them, and SO EXCITED for them – they have worked so hard and deserve this next phase so richly.
(Here comes Keri’s big ol’ but)
But, it is bittersweet. I was at “the shop” (how we have always referred to the building the business is in) two days ago helping pull personal files off of computers and phones, and the new manager came in with his wife and 2 year old daughter. She was an adorable ball of energy running all over checking everything out. Then mom and daughter drove off in their car and the new manager drove off in one of the company vans. I was overwhelmed with memories. That was us. They were the new us.
You see, for 19 years before buying the business, my dad worked his way up to from entry level to Master Plumber with full HVAC certification and foreman/manager/VP. My mom would bring my sister and I to the old location of “the shop,” and it was us who would run around checking everything out, bugging the guys for gum and sitting with my dad while he ate his lunch out of a cooler and drank coffee from his old metal thermos. It had always been us growing up in those spaces. I stood there, watching them all drive out from behind the fence, and I breathed in the familiar smell of oil and earth and sheet metal that equals the shop in my mind. I remembered everything.
I remember standing in our bedroom window, waving goodbye to dad every morning when we were little as he drove off to work in the company van each day, and being so excited when he came home at night. Sometimes it was so late we wouldn’t see him before we went to bed, other times he would be home very early in the afternoon and he would challenge us to long jump contests in the back yard. When we got older I would learn that those early days actually meant that there wasn’t enough work for everyone that day, but my parents never let it show back then.
I’d hear the van start in the middle of a cold snowy night, and peer outside my window to see my dad putting chains on the tires to go fix a furnace or frozen pipe. In the morning he would be home again and up at 5 to go open the shop and get the guys out for the day.
There were company picnics that we got to attend as children, as well as Christmas parties that meant Tamera the cool babysitter would come and stay with us while my dad (who ran in just in time to change out of his work shirt and steel-toes) and mom went off to celebrate.
As we grew older there was the year that we took the sides off the old dump truck and used it to carry the first prize homecoming float around the track surrounding the field during halftime. What was our float you ask? Why, a giant toilet with a replica of our opponents’ mascot swirling down the bowl, of course. (If you put the plumber’s daughters in charge, you get a chicken wire toilet covered in white napkins. Duh.)
It was in that same dump truck, borrowed from the shop, that my dad would tell me that him and mom were buying the business at the end of our senior year in HS. We were transporting a garage sale sofa that I wanted for my freshman college apartment and had my dear friend Matt in the truck with us. I screamed so loud in excitement, I probably caused the poor kid hearing loss or emotional trauma or something.
In between educational endeavors, (re: after dropping out of college the first time, or culinary school, or something,) I joined my mom in the office answering phones and entering invoices into the system. Actually, I joined my mom in the office and proceeded to fall asleep on the keyboard and enter pages of “hhhhhhhhhhh” where my nose rested on the key board every day, and soon we would discover that it was M.S. robbing me of my energy, making me dizzy and weak. I would drag myself from the doctor’s office where I had my steroid treatments back to the shop where I would eat a ginormous bag of some sort of fast food (look out, steroid Keri will rip your arm off for a Big Mac. Two would be better.) Then I would fall asleep in a heap on the floor of my dad’s office, exhausted and angry and not wanting to go back to my apartment in the city alone.
As the fog of M.S. started to lift and I found my strength again, I knew a bad day could always be cured with a drop in at the family business. It was a touchstone, a safety net, a resource, a homebase from which I could reach out into the world.
When Potter was a brand new member of my newly formed “just married” little family, he would spend days there because I was still (finally) finishing my degree and he was too barky to stay in our first little condo alone. Later when we moved back to the old hometown it would be Jr who would spend days at the shop, teetering around his playpen and hanging out with my mom and her sister as they ran the day-to-day in the office. (Aunt Carol is a MUCH less snoozy 2nd chair than I ever was!)
My dad and his guys have gone from seeing our friends running around playing barbies or ball in the basement while the family water heater was being fixed, to fixing the water heaters of those former kids while their own children run around like crazy.
It feels engrained in my soul. It is the heart of our family, and that heart has shown in the way that they have done business all of these years.
You can take the plumber’s daughter out of the shop, but I don’t think you can ever take the shop out of the plumber’s daughter. I am very proud of that part of myself – as I am very proud of it in both of my parents.
Congratulations, Maude and Daddy. You raised two (pretty damn awesome,) kids, as well as a business to be proud of. Dr Sissy and I have been proud to be the owners’ daughters and share the story of our “family business” with those we know.
We love you – and we can’t wait to see what you do next.

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Observations from the Pool

The pool.

I hear angels sing when I even think of it.
The Tree House had a good pool – it wasn’t over-the-top fancy, but it also was fantastically under-utilized by the majority of the building, leaving me and a small group of smarties to soothe away our mid-August urban angst without jockeying for position too much. (My “position” was under the big old tree that drooped in from off the street over the wall, shading my pastiness pale loveliness from the direct sun.)
Granted – since Jr. joined the scene pool time has two different versions – the one where he is with me and we have a giant bag of puddle-jumpers (Google it, until two days ago I had no idea these things had an actual name, but it is THE toddler pool accessory to sport, fo’ sho,) and graham crackers and SPF 1000 (ok, that’s always been in my bag – I really am pretty much translucent;) and the one where I am having “me” time, which involves magazines and a family-sized single-serving of some sort of “sangria” that I mixed up with random crap from the kitchen and cheap chardonnay.

Regardless – the pool is VERY important. So when we set out to drag the whole part-and-parcel of the fam out here, I impressed upon Alyssa-the-wonder-realtor that finding a subdivision with a pool was muy importante.
She came through, bless here realtor-y little heart, and we have a great pool, with HEAPS of shade for our chalky selves, complete with baby pool for Jr. (I know, I know, THE PEE! THE SNOT! THE GAWD-KNOWS-WHAT-ELSE! But seriously, he’s two, he likes a smaller body of water. I am down with that.)
That being said – the view from under the pergola at a suburban subdivision pool is a far cry from my shaded corner of urban respite, where the gossipy gay couple from the 8th floor floated off last night’s hangover face down on rafts in the deep end, and the just-starting-out married kids from the 1st floor shared generic ciggys under the perpetually-about-to-break umbrella at the aging picnic table.

What an eyeful I have now.

My first thought after plunking my towel down to stake claim on a lounger during a solo recon trip last summer was “Has the mom population of my hometown always been so taunt, tight, tanned and toned!?”
(Holy ta-tas, mamas- You Go Girls!!)

Packs of tweens and teens migrate daily to the suburban oaisis – I feel like a zoologist observing their interactions from behind my giant sunglasses- or like there should be National Geographic documentary narration dubbed in: “Here we get a close up view of a small pack of middle schoolous tween-angstivous as they undertake their complex social interactions. This group comes to the water each day seeking pizza and a chance to cool down. We observe the group, but when they are in herd formation, interaction can be risky.”

The Mr. does not pool. At least not at this moment in his life. Growing up in the ‘burbs of Houston, he pooled it up plenty in his youth, but currently it is not his thing.
This would irritate me more, except I want to reach out and flick some of the dads I see at the pool with their families, much of the time. The entrance of said family into the pool area pretty much says it all: Here comes dad – 50 feet in front of everyone, carrying nothing, not looking back at all, just walking. Trailing behind might be an older kid, carrying his or her own towel and water bottle. Way behind that is mom – holding the hand of a toddler wearing one water-wing who REALLY wants to run/jump/something else dangerous. On top of her is piled every possible thing that the entire family might need for the day; towels and duckie floaties and a picnic basket and goggles and sunblock and hats and so much other crap that you mistake her for a pack mule as she wrestles her load along, clinging to toddler’s hand and drilling holes in the back of her far-off husband’s neck.
It’s cool honey, you go golf it up. I’ll skip that scene, thanks.

Incidentally, tattoos go over even better here than at the rec center. Do not be alarmed, neighbors!
I just want to cool my own kiddo off in the pee baby pool and do all I can to assure that he understands the awesome that is the pool.

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