Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thank You

Being a ruthless, snarky bitch I often have a hard time expressing appreciation, or really, anything nice. Being an introvert, when I do feel the need to express these things I find it much easier to do so through the written word rather than verbally.

Our friends and family have been amazing during this time. All the kind words, all the memories of Yiya that have been shared, and all of the message of love that have been sent our way have meant more than anyone will know. To know that she touched not only our lives, but the lives of so many others brings me joy through my sadness. Every message I received telling me how much someone enjoyed knowing my Yiya made me smile through my tears, and I am so grateful for it.

We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by people who are there for us in these hard times. The offers of help and support have been numerous, sincere and amazing. And I am so very grateful for every one that we took advantage of, and those we didn't as well.

To say that the last few days have been hard would be an understatement. They have been surreal. It's just so weird to think that my Yiya is gone. That I won't walk into my parents' house and see her sitting at the kitchen table, yelling out My Guys' names as they sprint into the house. That I won't get to sit and chat with her while My Guys enjoy their time with Busia and Papou. I won't bring another fish sandwich from McDonald's, or another hotdog from Portillo's (everything but peppers, small fry). I won't help her out of my dad's car, or get another card with almost every phrase underlined and quotation marks used obsessively and unnecessarily. When we go out to dinner, I won't read her the items off the menu I think she'd like. I won't help her to the bathroom before we leave. I won't make cupcakes, or brownies or any other kind of sweet "just because"and bring them to her because she had a sweet tooth like you wouldn't believe. I won't fix her hearing aids for her to make them stop making that weird spaceship noise they'd make if they weren't in properly.

I won't hold her hand.  I won't give her another hug. I won't see her again. It doesn't feel real.

I imagine the coming days, weeks, and months will have their own new kind of difficulties and while I don't look forward to that, I do take solace in knowing that not only I, but my entire family, has a wonderful network of support surrounding us that is there to help us through it.

So thank you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Official Snarky Momma Rules of the Park

With the recent appearance of spring here in Chicagoland (FINALLY), we have spent a lot of time exploring the local park scene. My Guys love parks - slides, swings, a merry go round, climbing and exploring. And Mommy loves the naps/early bedtimes that spending lots of a time at a park results in.

What I do not love, is other people.

I have complied what I consider, the Official Snarky Momma Rules of the Park. Follow these and we can all have fun and I won't have to give you the rage glare of doom from behind my sunglasses.

1) Dress your child appropriately for the weather. This is sort of a "no shit" rule, however a couple weeks ago when we ventured to the park in 60+ degree weather there were kids at the park in full on winter coats, hats and gloves. What the shit people. After the winter we had here (big 'ol fuck you to the Polar Vortex!), 60 feels like goddamn summer. I dress my children the same way I am dressed (ok, they're not wearing yoga pants, but you know what I mean) which means that in 60 degrees they're wearing thing hoodies, pants, and their gym shoes. Not only would they get too warm in their winter coats, but they can't even really play at the park in them, they're too puffy. If you're not wearing a jacket as you sit on a bench and text, there's no reason that your child who is running around should be wearing one.

2) Ah yes, your phone. I understand that we all come to the park because it's somewhere we can let our children run free and not really worry about them too much and take sort of a mini-break but that doesn't mean you can completely checkout from the situation. I have helped many a child who was stuck at the park, or fell because their parents were too engaged in their phones to hear their kid calling for help. Sure, take a break and try to beat that awful level on Candy Crush while at the park, but make sure you're still aware of what's going on with your kid. Plus, when your kid calls out to you to watch them do something and you just ignore them you kind of look like a douchelord.

3) Teach your child how to properly use the playground equipment. My children, with their impeccable manners and consideration for others have been instructed that slides are for going down, not up and you should teach your children the same. Apparently this is a controversial view of mine, but for realz people. I can't tell you how many times My Guys have almost been injured because some jerkass kid was climbing up the slide while they were in the middle of going down. You wanna climb up the slide? Fine, do it when there aren't other kids who are waiting and wanting to use it the way God intended - for going down.

4) Make sure your children know how to wait their turns. Again, this is the sort of thing I thought was a "no shit" rule, but if your kid comes up and pushes one of mine in their attempts to get to something sooner I'm gonna be pissed. And yeah, I'm gonna tell your kid not to push others cause guess what - you shouldn't push people. I thought this was something we were all together on, but apparently not so much since your kid is shoving their way to the front of the slide line.  That's not cool people, not cool at all.

5) If you're gonna bring food/snacks clean up after yourselves. Honestly, garbage cans are aplenty at the park, fucking use them.

6) Let your kid play on their own (if age/maturity/ability appropriate, obviously). If your kid is in good health and 4 he should be capable of walking up a ramp and going down a slide on his own. You don't need to follow him up on to the equipment to ensure his safety, let him try it on his own, he might surprise you.

7) Dress yourself appropriately too. It's a playground, not a fashion runway. Leave the heels and hat at home please, you'll do just fine with your yoga pants (if you feel the need, go ahead and even wear those $100 ones, I'll be rocking my Old Navy ones personally) and flip flops. This isn't a fashion competition, it's a playground. How the hell do you think you're going to do on the mulch in 4 inch heels?

I reserve the right to amend these rules at any time, or add to them as I see fit, but for now I think that covers the basics. Follow these rules and we can all have fun at the park.  Don't, and risk my disgust and glares of hatred in your general direction.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Color me shocked


It doesn't happen often, but I was rendered speechless by the reply I got from the owner of that kiddie haircut place.  Speechless.

Check this out, it's amazing.

Good Afternoon Snarky Momma,

First off, allow me apologize for the delay in response, my family has been recovering from a virus.  

My wife "Wifey" and I read your email which provided feedback on the experience your family had at our salon this past Friday; it pained my heart.  I say this not only as the salon owner, but because I too have a son who is turning three come July, his name is “My Little Guy”…short for Owner Jr.   He being so dear to my heart, I have not the words to express how Blessed we feel to have 4 equally wonderful and uniquely different young children. 

You are also a parent, so I do not need to elaborate further.  Your sons My Little Guy and My Big Guy are innocent and perfect.  

After having these 4 healthy children, who are such gifts, Ashley and I would do everything in our power to keep them healthy, both physically and emotionally. 

If I were to ever bring Owner Jr or his brother or sisters to any establishment…and have an employee refer to one of my children as a naughty, fussy, or not a nice boy/girl….I would do more than just send a strongly wording email.   It would fall into a category beyond unacceptable. 

We are a family of 6, our oldest is Eldest age 5, Second Eldest age 3, Owner Jr is 2, and our baby Baby just turned one.    We value ALL children, respect them as precious gifts, will cherish, and always protect them in every way possible.  That commitment stretches from good customer service to future adoption.  

My wife and I opened Haircut Establishment together, we committed ourselves to providing a level of service that would be “Best in Class”.  This after visiting competitors, both in Chicago and in Dallas, and seeing these chain in kid cutterys dealing in volume only, offering no personal customer experience except for TVs and toys to cover every inch.  It’s what we came into this to try and change.    

I write you this because omitting who we are as loving parents as it applies to our family owned business would make any attempt at an apology hollow and futile. In comparison to what was said to JJ there are no words that I can convey which would express the remorse we have for our employee’s words that day.   I am truly sorry Snarky Momma, to you and to My Little Guy, also My Big Guy as well…as that is his little brother who was misspoken to on Friday.

This salon is our life and livelihood. It is the food and shelter I give to my family.  We have risked all and I will not allow failure to affect my families future for the likes of an employee who cannot practice patience after a long day.  There are changes we are making at both salons (the kiddie and the adult version), these as the result to lessons learned in the past 5 months since grand opening.  One being a “free till its fixed” policy to address any service complaint.  I will not accept the fact that a salon cannot be 100% error free in service, so until we reach that goal all recuts are free.   

More crucial than the service itself is the customer service, and something that until today I could not imagine addressing.  The Haircut Establishment will have a zero tolerance for the type of behavior exhibited to your child as explained in your email.  I must add, it was written in a to the point, yet polite and respectful fashion.  I could not practice such restraint. 

I want to say with sincerity, that I am truly sorry for what our employee said to your son JJ.  My apology will not be limited to words alone, and you have our assurance that there will be action behind this so no child is ever spoken to inappropriately again.   It will be a salon violation that will carry immediate termination.

I have never received such a heartfelt, honest reply to a complaint in my life. I'm blown away. And frankly, it worked - we will give this place another try.

Most impressive Mr. Owner.  Most impressive indeed.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Adventures in Haircuts

Let's get back to normal around here. I have some feelings about a haircut experience yesterday.

The girl who cuts my hair generously takes care of my guys too.  It's a lovely arrangement because she does a great job, and the salon she works at is right next to the Children's Museum so I usually make their appointment and then we go play afterward.

True to their personalities, My Big Guy will sit nicely in the chair, watch the traffic go by out the window and patiently let her cut his hair.  No complaints, no fussing.  That's how he is.  It sounds stupid to say it, but he's a very mature 3.5.

My Little Guy is crazy when he's well behaved.  He does not sit still.  He does not like people touching his head.  New places/people sort of freak him out.  Some of that is his personality, but a lot of it is just being 2.

My stylist recently gave birth to a baby girl (so adorable!), so she's been out on maternity leave.  While I can go weeks/months between haircuts, my guys cannot.

They've started to look ridiculous.  Unkempt.  Bordering on white trash.

A recommendation for a local, supposedly upscale children's salon arrived in my inbox a couple days ago thanks to a local mom's list.  Perfect.  The people of this particular suburb have a reputation of being snooty, bitchy, and demanding.  That's exactly what I want in a salon.  I didn't want my kids to end up with horrible haircuts and I didn't want it to be a bad experience since it'd be with someone they don't know.  I figured if it was good enough for these discerning citizens it'd be good enough for us.  I didn't think they would tolerate bad haircuts OR bad service.

After naps yesterday we loaded up and headed over to this establishment.  I had been attempting to call and make an appointment, or at least inquire about how long the walk-in wait was for like 20 minutes but no one was answering.  We were approaching dinner time so I figured we'd just drive over there and it f it was a long wait we'd either leave or sit and watch the Metra trains at their train station (endlessly entertaining).  It's the town next to ours, so it's not like it involved a good deal of travel time here.

I parked, we watched a train go by, we walked over to the salon.

The women who worked there were just standing around at the desk, which I found odd since I had just spent like 20 minutes calling and getting no answer.  I figured maybe they just finished with a really busy streak and let it go.  I introduced my guys, explaining that My Little Guy is a bit high strung and doesn't have the best success rate when it comes to letting someone cut his hair (for realz people, I usually end up doing it myself in the bathtub with kitchen and/or nail scissors) but I had some confidence that these women, who were supposedly experts at cutting kids' hair would be able to handle him.

I was wrong.

My Big Guy's haircut went off without incident, other than I wasn't quite pleased with the way the woman cutting his hair was holding his head still.  It seemed a bit rough to me, but I had bigger fish to fry here.

I put My Little Guy in the firetruck chair and he refuses the cape.  No big deal, we can change his clothes when we get home, it's only hair.  The woman sprays his hair with a squirt bottle (without warning) and he gets a bit freaked out (well yeah, someone just sprayed him with water).  He is also very much in his "stranger danger" phase (normal for a two year old) and was a bit nervous in this new place with all these new people.  As he starts looking around and turning towards the person who is touching his head and grabbing his hair this bitch says to him, "You need to be a nice boy and sit still, you're not being a nice boy!"

What. The. Fuck.

Oh hellz no bitch.

I ended that shit so fast after that comment.  I told the woman, "We're done here, stop," and pulled My Little Guy out of the chair.  She asked if I was sure I wanted to give up, I glared at her and said yes and focused on comforting My Little Guy and telling him that he IS a nice boy.

When I looked up, this bitch was gone.  It was like she ascended from hell and once her dirty work of insulting children was done she returned to the pit of despair from where she rose.  I couldn't find her anywhere.

I let My Big Guy's haircut continue only because the woman who was doing his was right in the middle of it and if I had ended his then he would have looked like a fool with half his hair short and half long.

I paid for My Big Guy's haircut and we got the hell out of that place.

Once we got home I shot off a nasty email informing whoever is in charge of this salon about what happened and how inappropriate it is to tell a two year that he is not a nice boy because he's acting like a two year old.

I also attempted to inform my mom's list of our experience, but was informed by the moderator that negative business reviews are forbidden.


Apparently, in this particular group we can only post positive reviews of places.  So even though I went to this salon based on the recommendation of this group, I cannot inform them that our particular experience wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. So basically, any review that this group offers is worthless because we are only allowed to sing praise upon local businesses and not report when something goes wrong.

I get not wanting to badmouth local businesses.  Hell, I might work for a competing one and say something to try to sway the moms away from my competition.  I get it.  But if someone recommends something and I take that recommendation and my child is insulted there I feel like other moms MIGHT want to know that.

The lessons I learned from this are :
A) Don't cheat on your hair stylist.  Karma will come bite you and your children in the ass.
B) Don't trust any reviews from the censored moms' list.
C) Continue to cut My Little Guy's hair myself

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Saying Goodbye

So fair warning that this is a emotional, sentimental, tear filled post about my grandmother and if you're not into that sort of thing and looking for my usual bitchiness you should stop reading now and come back here later.

My grandma, or my Yiya as we call her, is dying.

If she makes it to her birthday in June, she'll be 91 years old.  She's lived a long, full, happy life and up until these last couple weeks she's been very healthy and independent.  She recently suffered congestive heart failure and she's 90 years old and she just wasn't able to bounce back from it.  She's also been recently diagnosed with dementia.  She's had a very rapid decline in her health and she's not long for this world.

My Yiya (which I know is supposed to be spelled YiaYia, but mine is actually 100% Polish so we're cutting her some slack on the spelling here - she's Greek by choice, not by blood) helped raise me and my sister. She was the one who had a snack ready for us after school, and asked us about our days.  She was the one who picked us up from band, softball, or whatever after school activity we were currently involved in.  She was the one who hauled us to our friends houses and vice versa.  She cared for us when we were home sick, took us to the doctor when we needed it. She bandaged our scrapes and bruises.  My Yiya was always there for us, always taking care of us and loving us.

She has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember.

When my parents made the decision to move from the city to Lisle (asking the realtor, "Where's Lisle?" those 30+ years ago) she came with.  She was a widow and they agreed that she'd give living in the suburbs and helping take care of me (my sister wasn't born yet) a try for a year or so to see how she liked it.  She never moved back, staying with my parents and me and my sister until we eventually grew up and moved out. She's lived with my parents for over 30 years now.

My Yiya has been a constant fixture in my life, basically a second mother to me. We've always been incredibly close and seeing her suffer and struggle with day to day life these last few weeks has been very hard.

She has taught me many, many things but the main things I will always remember about my Yiya are her unconditional love and her unending patience.  I never remember her raising her voice at me, or expressing anger or disappointment in me.  I'm sure I deserved it on many occasions, but I don't remember it happening.

My Yiya raised me with the patience of a saint, and I try to remember that in my own life. I try to remember how safe and loved I felt, and still do feel, in her presence and hope that my own children feel that way in mine.

The ways in which my Yiya has influenced not only me, but my family are numerous - from our loving mockery of her mispronunciation of words to the traditions she has instilled in our family. I can thank her for my love of gambling (there ain't nothing she loved more than playing the slots), always knowing to hold on to the end of my long sleeves when putting on a coat (and passing this invaluable information on to my boys), my love of soup, my constant need to be cozy at all times, knowing the importance of a good tuck, and many many other things that make me who I am today.

These last couple of weeks have been rough, to say the least. I'm making every effort to get to my parents' house as often as possible to see her, and bringing my guys with me so that she can see them (they bring her a lot of joy). I'm cherishing the good moments we have - when she's lucid and we can have a real conversation, when I can tell her stories about the clever things My Big Guy said, or the silly thing My Little Guy did, when I can tell she's with me and enjoying the moment.  Those times are getting fewer and farther between. Her time is near, and while it's very very sad it's for the best.

I will miss my Yiya more than I can put into words, but I take comfort in knowing that she's lived a long, happy, full life and that we've all done everything we can to make her happy.

No one knows when her final moment will come, but until it does I will continue my long, drawn out goodbye to her. I will continue to visit and talk, even if she's not really listening.  I will hold her hand, and I will rub her back and I will hope to offer her the same kind of  love and support that she's offered me and my family all these years. I will hope that she feels the love that we have for her, and know that we appreciate the love she has for us.  It's our turn to take care of her the way she's taken care of us.

Her decline has been fast, and somewhat unexpected (as unexpected as the decline of someone who is 90+ can be). As terrible as it sounds, I am grateful for the quickness - she is suffering and I don't want her to. The sooner the end comes for her, the sooner she will be at peace.  The sooner she will join her husband who passed away so many years ago (long before I was even born). The sooner her struggle to survive will be over. As sad as this whole time is, I now that it is time for her and I'm happy that I was a part of her life, and I'm forever grateful that she was a part of mine and will always love her.

But I will miss my Yiya.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014


So I recently started doing this:

Basically, what you do is take a moment every day for 100 days and record via picture something that made you happy. Upload it to facebook, Instagram or whatever your social media poison is.  I'm on Day 22 today and it's been a really fun and interesting journey so far.

It's part of the change I've been trying to make in myself in trying to not be so negative (http://snarkymommablog.blogspot.com/2014/02/negative-nancy.html), and it's something I'd totally recommend to everyone.  

It forces you to take a step back and realize that there are small, everyday, normal moments in your life that make you happy. And it makes you appreciate them and notice when they happen.  This project has made me more in tune with the positive things in my life, and how little things really can have a big impact.

Wow that was a totally cliche paragraph, but damn, it's true!

It's easy to get caught up in the negative and swept up into drama, but thinking about and hell, just noticing what makes you happy can make a big difference.

I spent far too much of my life letting my happiness depend on others and I was miserable for it.  I'm now in charge of my own happiness and turns out I'm in a much better place than I've been in years. I feel like I've really got my shit together and I think I can credit it to my change in attitude from being a Negative Nancy to someone who tries to see the bright side of things.

Now, I'm still generally a ruthless bitch who hates humanity but I'm a more cheerful ruthless bitch who hates humanity. Focusing on what makes you happy and what's good about your life doesn't change who you are - it just changes your perspective on things. 

Example - Yesterday was my birthday.  On paper, it was a shitacular day.  My Big Guy was really sick, I had to take My Little Guy for his 2 year old checkup, it fucking snowed (It is April! Stop it!), and my husband had to work late.  Sounds pretty crappy right?  Yeah, it was, but instead of getting all down in the dumps and bitching and moaning about my shitty birthday I realized that we had had one of the best weekends we've had in a looooooong time (It was 80 and sunny on Saturday - fuck you bipolar Chicago spring) just being together as a family and enjoying the weather and having fun.  I decided that the weekend was my birthday celebration because it was pretty much a perfect weekend and yesterday was a stupidass Monday of crapulence.  I didn't complain (much) about the shittiness of the day, instead I said, "Meh, bad days happen but let me tell you about my awesome weekend!"  That wouldn't have been the case before.

In the midst of all the snot and coughing and miserableness of the day, I had my Happy Moment.  We got the kids in bed and my husband and I snuggled up on the couch and watched a movie.  And it made me happy.  And that's what I remember the most about yesterday - not the crap parts.

I feel like sometimes it's a competition on social media to see who has it worse.  That's dumb. Life is hard for everyone.  Everyone has their burdens, everyone has their moments of suckiness, and I'm 100% sure that there's someone who has it harder than you out there.  Why are we constantly trying to one-up each other on who has it worse? Who the hell actually wants to win that competition (I think it might be one of the only ones I personally don't want to win)?  Good job, you had a shittier day than I did, go bask in your misery. Congratulations.  

How about instead of trying to see who's had a worse day we take note of the good moments in a shitty day?  That's what the 100 Happy Days project is all about, and I'm glad I'm participating and starting to realize and appreciate the good moments in my life.