The land of speedways and broken dreams

 

If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you’ll be going, ‘you know, we’re alright. We are dang near royalty.’~Jeff Foxworthy

So here’s how it all went down.

Mr.Diaz’ company sponsors a car that races at the Evergreen Speedway, a track about an hour away from our home. It’s basically amateur NASCAR wannabes who drive beat up cars around different track configurations. We could get tickets for half-price and since half of our family is under 5 years old, their tickets would be totally free. So….awesomeness. I mean, it’s not like I have a better way to spend a Saturday night, like, you know, reading or something.

“It will be fun,” Mr. Diaz said. “The kids will love it.”

Sure it will. What’s not to love?

So we loaded up our crew into our giant, really cool 15 passenger van and made the trek out to The Land of Speedways And Broken Dreams.

As we emerged from our van  and got into the line of people waiting to buy tickets, instantly one thing was made very clear. We were hands down the best dressed people in town. And if you know us, and have seen what we look like collectively on any given day, that’s saying a lot.

The air was filled with a sweet aroma of excitement and anticipation. Wait…wait...
No, no it was not. The aroma was grilled onions, beer and BO.

Shorty-shorts exposed massive amounts of cellulite, and butt-cracks  and cleavage tattoos abounded in nearly every visable direction. Yes, I can speak on this as I have a bit of my own postpartum flab that I don’t believe I should subject the general public to. You’re welcome. One woman breast fed her baby while standing up, without a cover. Okay, so that’s not so bad, and I have to say: If you’re gonna whip it out in public and leave it hanging out the top of your wife-beater, nursing  is the ONLY acceptable reason to do so. Unless your child is old enough to be drinking milk out of a glass. In which case, you may want to consider not nursing while standing in a line to buy tickets.

So we took our place to wait between an old man who was decked out with camouflage in the shape of miniature deer, and a very loud woman who had only 3 teeth, whose grown daughter, Billy Sue, proceeded to pop pimples on her exposed, tattooed shoulders, then have her fiancé help her get the ones she missed. Their excited cursing informed me that this might just be a regular pastime. Mr. Diaz looked at me with a smile, completely oblivious, and I snorted. And laughed silently. Hysterically.
Imagine.
Us.
Actually appearing refined in comparison.

Eventually we made it to the ticket booth where we forked over our dollars and had the word ENJOY cattle-branded into the backs of our hands. Even now, days later, I still bear the scar from this. We presented our freshly purchased tickets to a young woman who had bangs that literally stood up 4.5 inches off her head, and made our way past the growing crowd of excited yokels. We moved up to a section of bleachers that was slightly removed from the rest of the assembling rednecks so our little boys would have some room to move around if they got antsy.

And the first-round cars drove out.

The first races were qualifying races, which were interesting to watch, and “our” car, number 22, qualified easily. The boys loved it. This would be great!

I watched a Kettle Corn vendor pop a large quantity of GMO corn in a giant vat, and tried not to watch a very heavy, tattooed couple making-out a few rows ahead of me. We chatted with a few people who were nearby. Everyone seemed friendly and kind. These folks were completely genuine. This was a group of down-to-earth, loving patriots who would give you the very shirt off their backs should the need arise. If they had been wearing shirts, that is.

Mr. Diaz bought a giant bag of the Kettle Corn for all of us to stick our germy hands in, (Delicious!) and everyone returned to their seats so the blessed event could ensue. We watched a man in front of us who could barely walk, spend 20 minutes to climb 800 stairs to sit up at the tippy-top top of the grandstands. The whole time we yelled inside our heads “Good GOD man! Sit down right where you are! Do it! Stop the insanity!”  And just when my cynicism and snark was reaching a whole new level, a man came out, grabbed the microphone from the announcer, and prayed. Out loud. He asked God to protect the drivers and keep everyone safe.

We stood patriotically, hands over our hearts, watching the emblem of our great nation flap in the breeze while a woman in a very sparkly silver tank top crooned out her loosely melodious interpretation  of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Aaahhhh.  America. 

The green flag waved, and the loudest moving vehicles on the face of this green earth took off  driving in a circular motion, over and over and over.  If you know me at all, you know how much I love really. loud. noises. It’s right up there on the top of my list; right above finding hair in my food, eating food made by young children with runny noses, and licking the germs off shopping-cart handles.

Amidst the cacophony, the announcer blurted out incoherent words of some sort that couldn’t possibly be understood by any human person. The kids tightly clutched their ears and I wrapped Chatterbox’s head in a burp cloth and prayed he wouldn’t have everlasting hearing damage. I held my hands over his ears, put my head down next to his and prayed. The entire time. “Dear sweet Jesus, just get me through this.”

Mr. Diaz looked over at me and said something while grinning. Who the heck knows what it was. I can’t read lips that well. Especially when my eyes are squinted from grimacing. So I smiled sweetly and nodded at him and told myself, “You’re not really in Hell.”

And that’s how it was for several hours. Good Lord.

People laughed and drank and enjoyed the revelry. Small (deaf?) children danced and played right up next to the fence that lined the speedway. Cars lost their bumpers and limped off the track.

My boys ate Kettle Corn off the dirty bleachers with their mouths (because their hands were being held over their ears) and I watched as our 22 car, which had a clear lead with only five laps to go, stalled out and wouldn’t start after a red flag stopped every vehicle on the track.  We left shortly after that. Because God heard my prayers.

After one more race of cars (that could rival several jet engines in decibels) drove around in a “circle eight” and very nearly t-boned one another at every pass, we finally headed home.

I will spare you the details about how we are so classy that we ate our dinner at a small, crudely painted burger shack, located in the middle of nowhere, right next to the highway. I’ll also spare you the details about how the picnic tables we used were covered in highway dust and bird droppings. You’re welcome for that too.

That, my friends is how we spent our Red-nex-ican, low-budget, Saturday night family time. Aren’t you glad I shared this with you?

So, Mr. Diaz read this post and said “Fine. I’ll go to the races again, without YOU.”
Now that’s a deal. Where do I sign? I can use that time to go to the local WALMART, because it’s guaranteed to be empty.

Now friends, please don’t get the impression that I’m here on this blog make fun of Rednecks. Nah. I’m here to make fun of everybody. As far as I’m concerned, comedy doesn’t discriminate. Turns out the trip to the Speedway left me with some of the best  family memories writing material I’ve ever had.

We are going again next year, but I’m bringing earplugs. And some camo.

And about a gallon of Purell.

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To the complete and total strangers at Costco:

Dear complete and total strangers at Costco,

I know you watched as we navigated our vehicle into the crowded parking lot.  You stood in awe as we wedged our trendy 15 passenger mega-van into a parking space between a 2 door Miata and a very roomy shoe box- on-wheels deemed a Smart Car. You saw us attempt to unload our family with as much class, decorum and organization as we could humanly muster… and 23 minutes later file toward Costco with our seven *progeny and three carts for our weekly shopping trip.

I can only imagine your thoughts as one wailing child donned an open-toed sandal on his right foot and a rubber boot covered in duct tape on the left. You correctly saw that a second child was wearing pajama pants that are at least three sizes too short, paired with a faded Thomas The Train pajama shirt, because he refuses to dress with his eyes open.

I’ve given up.

Our  toddler sported an ensemble perfect for an afternoon on a yacht.  Another youngster was flawlessly dressed for a cold afternoon at a ski resort.  The child sitting in the cart wailing was doing so, not because he hates shopping at Costco; on the contrary. He was wailing because we don’t let him shop at Costco naked.

You stared at our mobile carnival with a slight measure of horror and partly out of bewilderment. “Why on earth do they have SEVEN children?” you asked yourself. Now, I’d like to pause here and take the time to point out that the number 7 is really not that large. If I had told you that I owned seven goldfish, you might have curiously asked if I had other pets as well. If I had told you that I owned seven pairs of shoes, you might have shrugged and looked bored. If I had told you that I had seven dollars, you may have found my financial status tremendously lacking. But, observing that I have seven children seemed to invoke the same amount of shock as if I had asked you to lasso a bald eagle and eat it with your feet.

After making it past the Costco entrance bouncer, we maneuvered our troupe through various onlookers in order to fill up the carts and consume every available food sample.

It must have horrified you as you watched a tall, lanky teenager in poorly made cut-offs and a Seahawks jersey scoop up 14 paper samples of microwaveable beef wellington, down them in 3 bites and then reach for more. You see, this kid is the reason we shop at Costco in the first place. I can credit him for the reason we upgraded to the EXECUTIVE Membership after a checker said to me “Mrs. Diaz, our records indicate that you spend more at Costco than the average family.”  I’ll bet. At our house he is known as The Very Hungry Teenager. This kid can eat an entire meal, then want 2 sandwiches, 3 large carrots, a slice of watermelon, 4 mini bagels with cream cheese, a bowl of cereal topped with a fried egg, 6 pickles and a cookie, then look at everyone at the table and ask with a straight face “Are you going to finish that?”  

So you see? We are bound to the Costco warehouse establishment like an airborne rock is bound to the laws of gravity. We practically live at Costco and have made a habit of noticing reactions to our family from fellow patrons who are pushing their carts overloaded with frozen burritos, cheesy-poofs, vats of mayonnaise, candy bars  and weight-loss supplements.

Since discussing my fertility with complete and total strangers in the cheese aisle is what I LIVE for, I was more than happy to respond to your impertinent curiosity.

In fact, fellow club members, I  have loved answering your varied questions so much, that I’ve compiled a list for you to refer to in case you happen to encounter us again and so others who remain unaware can be ready for us with NEW questions next time around. Ready? Here we go.

Q: Cute baby. Is she your last?
A: This year, yes.

Q: Why do you have so many kids?
A: Because it will increase our odds of ending up in a good nursing home.

Q: Do all of your kids have the same dad?
A: Uh…so far….

Q: What is your food bill like each month?
A: How much is your mortgage?

Q: How will you ever pay for all of their college tuition?
A: Well bless your heart for taking a look at us collectively and still believing my kids could qualify for entrance into any institution that isn’t traveling with trained animals, acrobats and clowns.

Q: Does it get pretty loud at your house?
A. Didn’t catch that. What did you say?

Q: Are you trying to be like that other family? The one on TV with the nineteen kids?
A: Oh yeah, baby. Because the number 7 is just.so.close. to the number 19. Heck, I’m almost there.

Q: Why is that one taking his clothes off?
A: Don’t worry about him. He’ll stop undressing when he realizes we’re buying mustard.

There now. I hope that satisfied some of your curiosity.

Looking back, I’m sure you have subconsciously blocked out the savagery of what you saw in our check-out lane. Let’s just say it involved a twirling sister, a sprawling brother, escaped oranges, a Flop Tantrum, and a flying churro. After St. Peter (the receipt angel and exit-guardian), gave us his nod of approval to move on out, we trekked the circus back to the van and headed home. Much to your relief and silent applause, I’m sure.

That leaves me here, sipping coffee and recollecting another Costco adventure that I look forward to each and every week.

You are always welcome to join us on our next shopping trip, of course. We like new friends. I’ll even put you to work pushing a cart. But you’ll have to swear upon chocolate milk that you won’t show us up by dressing like normal people do.

Which means you’ll need to be wearing attire suitable for a day on a yacht. Or a slumber party.

Or a ski resort.

-Sincerely Yours, Mrs. Diaz

*the word progeny (paragraph 1), in this instance refers to 7 quirky, bedraggled, colorful and unconventional offspring slightly resembling a funeral parade for fellow Big-Top performers. Mr. Diaz has informed me that the word progeny is far too sophisticated for this blog and I have to agree with him and therefore apologize.

 

*This post has been featured on Scary Mommy
*This post has been featured on For Every Mom

 

 

Poop-Skittles and mustard shots

Now seems like as good a time as any to introduce you to my three-and-a-half year old, Humdinger. He adds quite a lot of spunk (and copious amounts of pee) to our house and I will try to paint an accurate word picture to portray his personality.  Humdinger is aptly named because the right words to correctly explain him do not exist. He’s cute. He’s indescribable.

He’s naked.

Mutiple times a day I hear myself vocalizing utterly ridiculous phrases to this kid such as:

“It’s not polite to eat lunch naked,”

“You may not get into the wagon when you have no clothes on,”

“No, the mailman is not naked too,”

“You do NOT want to go feed the chickens without underpants on. TRUST me,” or

“It’s not okay to squat and shake yourself. In the kitchen.” 

For whatever reason, the kid is well-nigh a nudist. Which is unacceptable. Because I’m not sure he’s all that great at wiping.

This little corker is always doing crazy things. Recently I came downstairs from feeding Squidgy and I heard Mr. Diaz call out to me “Hey, come watch this.”  So I walked into the kitchen and saw Humdinger standing atop a tall empty Costco-sized salsa container, covered in sink bubbles and doing shots of yellow mustard. Yes.

Eating it.

Naked.

Who knocks back mustard-shots while naked? And isn’t roaring drunk?

Humdinger does.

Mr. Diaz was squirting it directly into his mouth from the bottle. And Humdinger loved it. Heck, I wish he liked clothing as much as he seems to adore yellow mustard.

Humdinger is also at the tail end of toilet training. This has taken an unusually long time. After endless months of rewards, charts, clapping, discipline, cheering, begging and whining (that was me) and an endless supply of skittles, he is finally not pooping his pants.

“WHAT pants?” You’re asking, “I thought he doesn’t wear pants.” 

Exactly.

The road I’ve traveled to get this kid on the pot has been long and rough and paved with Skittles. Then the unthinkable happened. The cow dried up and the skittles ran out.  In order not to rock the world Humdinger lives in after the progress we made (because that gets ugly), we reluctantly resorted to offering the only candy we had in the house that was leftover piñata bounty from a recent company picnic. NOW every time he poops, instead of two skittles, he’s getting two good-sized chocolate coins. Humdinger has brilliantly figured out that if he eeks out the tiniest remnant of poop possible, he’ll get two chocolates. Less than an hour later he creates a few more nuggets and gets even more candy. He’s currently gorking down 8 pieces of candy before breakfast, and I’m getting played.

I can well imagine that look in your eye. No doubt you’re thoroughly impressed by my wicked awesome parenting skills right now. What can I say? I have been manipulated by a 3-year-old nudist who has a hankering for chocolate and yellow mustard.

I love this moppet. Our lives would be rather dull without his crazy shenanigans. At night I sneak into his room, see his tiny unclad body, and I tiptoe to his bedside and whisper into his ear “I love you. You are original. There’s no one like you. You’re my very favorite child.”

And you know what?

It’s totally true.

Dear boys, one day I will come to your house and break all your stuff.

Dear boys,

I’m proud to be your parent. I really mean that. I would never suggest that having 4 sons as spunky as you are entitles me to a trophy. I’ve enjoyed many aspects of raising you. You’re clever, kind, and you fill my heart with a gladness that I cannot put properly into words.

But boys, listen up. Your destructive tendencies have propelled me to the limits of my sanity. I have been forced to create an imaginary world, a “mind palace” (to borrow the phrase), in which I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and mentally transport myself into a very charming cottage that has been decorated by  top designers from Better Homes and Gardens. This white cottage (with a view that overlooks the ocean), is nestled on a hill amid tall flowing grasses, wild flowers, and a white picket fence. There are no children here. Not a Lego or NERF bullet is in sight; just the soft warm breeze, euphonious waves, absolute stillness and the distant caw of gulls.

I love it here.

I travel here mentally every time you destroy just another small piece of what’s left of our home.

Within my mind-cottage dwell warm colors, large windows and white furniture. I own a perfectly designed white coffee table and white fireplace mantle, both displaying high-end glass baubles, vases, candlesticks and artistically placed books.

Books are silent. And therefore important.

Yes, your antics have pushed me into this fantasy. Then my eyes snap open to reality and I’m standing in 3 inches of overflowed toilet water you’ve managed to coerce clear down the hallway as a result of trying to flush down a petrified dead squirrel and yesterday’s underpants.

Your Mama is making a list of everything you destroy. For payback.

Here is your warning:

Quit it. Or else.

Quit it, or one day when you live on your own, I will come over to your house and break all your stuff.

I will show up with a warm smile, a hug and a plate of your favorite cookies. While you are happily eating in your kitchen under the false assumption that Mama is here just because she adores you…(and boy do I)… I will be pouring urine into your shoes. Here’s the beauty of it: I won’t tell you. You’ll just wonder where the smell is coming from until you put your shoes on the next morning on the way out the door to your business meeting.

I will disassemble your lawn mower and use the blade for hacking at your favorite tree. I will boil a dead roadkill  ‘possum carcass in your favorite cooking pot. Then leave it there. I will turn off your hot water heater and flip the electrical breaker that routes to your freezer. Your iPad (or its equivalent in a decade or so)? Bathtub. Your eyeglasses don’t stand a chance.

I will hurl a NERF gun straight into the screen of your brand new TV. Oh, it’ll shatter all right. Not even a Sonic Screwdriver will make that puppy work again, I will make sure of that.

While you are distracted with the task of sweeping up the pieces, I will leave grape jelly hand prints all over your sofa, carve my name with a pocket knife across your dining table and hide a whole stick of butter in your washing machine. I will put gum inside your dishwasher, bury your electric razor beneath the geraniums and pour orange juice down your air-vent hole. I will unwrap all your popsicles and leave them inside your sock drawer. I will take every single battery out of every conceivable electronic device you own and drop them into your fish tank.

And my retribution won’t be limited to the daytime. Nah. Mama will come over to spend the night.

As you sleep softly in a warm bed among the haze of lovely dreams…I will be downstairs in the dark, placing a hot iron on your new hardwood floors, just long enough that the smoke alarm doesn’t go off, but with enough time to make sure they are good and warped. I will un-stuff all of your couch cushions and pour sugar into your dvd player. Lamps will come crashing to the ground, mirrors will break and shoe-sized holes will find their way into your drywall. Anything I can find that is held together with screws, will be unscrewed. I will hide a loaded turkey sandwich in the pocket of your winter coat. I will smear VapoRub across every counter or flat surface you own and rip the last ten pages out of every book you have. Then I will come jump on your bed at 4:13AM and demand a three course breakfast. Sans the orange juice. (Or eggs. I put all of those behind your furnace grating.)

You may be tempted at this point to stop reading and say, “Holy cow! What a rampage! At least she didn’t damage my car!”

Don’t worry about your car. I scraped it nice and deep with a garden trowel on my way in. Siphoned out the gas too. You’re on E now. 

Dear boys, listen carefully.

There is no possession on the planet you could destroy or damage that would make me stop loving you. I will always love you no matter what. You could torch the house and burn it clear to the ground (and at your rate of destruction, you will) and I will still be thrilled to be your mother.

But it will go on the list.

I love you guys, Xoxoxo -Mom

P.S. Those cookies that I brought over? I licked them all. I licked them all really, really well.

*This post has been featured on For Every Mom
*This post has been featured on Scary Mommy