Going to see a woman about a marimba…

securedownload-4I had my Sophie’s choice moment the other day — the moment you have to choose one child over another. Actually I chose neither child and opted for the expensive and breakable purchase.

When your child is “honored” with the invitation to play percussion in the band (there is a try-out and everything to make sure you feel sufficiently privileged) you automatically sign up for a number of expensive (and by the looks of them, noisy) items.

Early on we procured all of the necessary mallets, practice pads, and music stands. I’m proud to say they have not, as of this writing, been used as projectiles at humans or pets in the Milhizer household. But, we knew we were in for the expense of a practice marimba, which as far as I can tell is in the same species as a xylophone, just $1000 more. Practice marimbas, in case you are not up on the current cost of a marimba, will run you about $1500.

“Practice” is a misnomer. “Practice” implies something smaller and less expensive than the actual thing. There is no “practice” about this beast. It is the size of a small shetland pony. It is on wheels because of its size. And in the event of a zombie apocalypse, I have plans to fashion it into my getaway vehicle by attaching the leaf blower to the back. Come to think of it, I could have used it about 2 weeks ago when post-appendectomy, I seriously considered getting a walker with the tennis ball feet. Pushing around a marimba on wheels as an aid to standing would have made me look far less old, if no less ridiculous.

Last week about 12 pre-precussionists’ parents began the search for that elusive species, the used marimba. I was ready to buy the new one and save myself the trouble. Eric couldn’t understand why anyone would buy a new marimba. He posited that there is a law of conservation of marimbas (or is it marimbae?). No one keeps a practice marimba. You don’t see them in people’s houses, other than perhaps as a fancy drying rack. And I’ve never seen one at the curb on trash day. Therefore, if in any given year there are x number of entering 6th grade marimbists, there must be an equivalent number of exiting marimbists on the other end jettisoning x marimbas. Eric hinted I may not be up to the shopping challenge.

Resolute, I was crafty enough to find a used marimba in my own town at a reasonable price. I was there at the first opportunity, cash in hand. As I mentioned, the thing is huge and only comes apart into 3 enormous and inflexible parts. It actually doubles in size when deconstructed. It would not fit in the back of my car. I folded down one rear seat, promoting my 11-year-old to the front seat, invoking the “Marimba On Board” exclusion to the law that you must be 12 to ride shotgun.

Still no fit. I removed the car seat and folded down the other rear seat. I wasn’t going to have my 7 year-old sit up front too, I’m no monster. I was going to drive slowly and have him walk along side the car the 3 miles home in 90 degrees. “Officer, I could have put him in the car without a carseat. Would you have me do that? Clearly I have made the safer choice.”

Or I could have tied the marimba to the bumper and dragged it home on its wheels. But there is a little known clause in the law of the Conservation of Marimbas, which states: Harm no Marimba.

So there I stood with a marimba half hanging out of the back of my car, and no way to get it home; cursing and longing for the French Horn and all of its spittle accommodations. Finally the woman suggested she put it in her mini van (which she got to haul the marimba around. No one told me a mini van was a prerequisite for percussion. I guess I’m in for another $30k) and follow me home.

The thing has now taken up residence in my office. It comes in handy. When I think a conference call has gone on too long, I give the ding-ding-dong universal signal to wrap it up. My youngest has already told me he wants to play the pan flute. Look out Zamfir! I can definitely fit that in my car.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

studio-etiquette-nose-pickingI’ve recently started to question a catalogue of things I assumed to be true because my mother told me so, and lo, they were delivered unto us on stone tablets by Saint Emily (Post) herself. I took them as understood by everyone to be the only things holding us back from savagery. But recently I’m not so sure everyone lives under the same code. Their blatant disregard seems to signal the end of civilization. Top no-nos listed in the order of grievous offense and what circle of hell they send you to automatically:

  1. Cash as a gift. Gift cards are a gateway drug. (I still don’t do this. You will get a ceramic soup tureen in the shape of a swan for your wedding. Sell it on eBay if you want cash.)
  2. Poor grammar or punctuation
  3. Speaking of or asking about money
  4. Returning a gift
  5. Taking a gift to a wedding
  6. Having a gift table–that would be presumptuous
  7. Sending Thank You note with the words “Thank You” on the outside. Duh!
  8. Failure to send a handwritten thank you note within 2 weeks
  9. Piercing your ears. (This one came from my grandmother, and I’m less clear on the details but I do recall the word “strumpet” was involved.)
  10. Spitting
  11. Cigarettes
  12. Toothpicks
  13. Gum
  14. Fingernail biting
  15. Basically anything in your mouth other than food
  16. Call Waiting
  17. Failure to wear a slip
  18. Ordering a hamburger in an ethnic restaurant
  19. Tattoos
  20. White shoes (slightly lower on the list than tattoos because, well, you can take them off)
  21. A hairbrush anywhere other than the bathroom
  22. Any talk or mention of body parts or functions uncloaked in adorable euphemisms
  23. Curses stronger than “Mercy Maud!” or referring to someone as a “Blankety-blank”
  24. Using the first name of someone a generation or more older than you
  25. Failure to use your turn signal

Does anyone else hold these truths to be self-evident? You can imagine how, living under this code, I walk around disgusted and offended the majority of the time. I’m just saying I might have come by my snoot honestly.

Flower Power

Yeah, we’ll maybe it’s more like your lunar eclipse dose of snark. I can’t be bothered with daily.

Anyhoo, I have been thinking this week about 2 important things: the floral print mafia, the global plot to reduce America to mediocrity, and their unlikely (but clearly asserted in this diatribe) connection.

Vera-BradleyFirst, the insidious threat that is gripping Southlake, Texas–the Vera Bradley lobby. Everywhere I go I’m assaulted by the quilted, technicolor menace. The latest uproar seems to be that teachers aren’t allowing VB totes in the classroom, claiming it is becoming too crowded and all that color is a strain on the eyes. That’s discrimination! Clearly, it is within my 11 year old’s rights to carry twice her own body weight in a yurt-sized cavity of cheerful daisies and snails! School board, what is your %$*@ing problem with daisies and snails? Don’t you have more important things to do, like solve the problem in the next segment? Haters.

Which brings me to my next point–the global subterfuge that is dumbing down America. We manage that fine on our own, thank you very much. I never realized how ridiculous the English language is until I tried to teach someone to read. Mind you, the child can read in Spanish just fine. Yes, I know it’s quaint that rough, bough, and cough don’t rhyme, or sound remotely alike, or make any sense whatsoever. And don’t get me started on the word “rhyme.” But think of all of the time wasted on spelling tests and spelling words. There is no such thing as a spelling test in a phonetic language because it is spelled the way it sounds. Always. (That’s actually the definition of phonetic). An hour a day on spelling, spelling tests, spell check, and spelling correction, over a lifetime of 85 years is over 31,000 hours wasted while Germans and Spaniards play their violins.

Imajin if we al wrot foneticlee and al the ours we wood sav–so manee more resipees on Pinterest!

Think about it. We could eliminate entire uses for letters. There is no point in a soft c, when you have a perfectly good s. There is no hard g because that’s what we have j for. And y is just a stupid letter. It’s the appendix of the alphabet. It offends my sense of efficiency to have all of this extraneous stuff. And why do we have the word extraneous at all, if extra suits just fine? And yet, these foreigners keep pushing it on us. They continue to learn English so we won’t catch on.

Don’t you see it? They have us cornered, spending all of our time learning how to spell with not even our Doodle Daisy Convertible Crossbody for consolation. Bastards.

Slam Duncan

060904Celebs22ARIt’s a well-known fact that bad things happen in threes. What goes unstated is the eerie connection between end of 2012 tragedies, Honey Boo Boo notwithstanding. I’m talking about Hurricane SANDY and SANDY Hook Elementary. Holy harbingers! I’d watch my back if I were you, SANDY Duncan. Sleep with one eye open…the good one, not the bad one–that would be useless. Just sayin’.

Faithful readers will remember that I did predict the death of Andy Rooney last year. Well, I assumed he was dead, and he died shortly thereafter. So, it’s practically the same thing.

You heard it here first. Not that I wish ill on Sandy Duncan. I mean I love “The Sound of Music” and Wheat Thins. Oh, wait. Julie Andrews was all “Doe, a deer”, and Mary Poppins. Sandy Duncan is Peter Pan. I hope the Fates don’t get confused like I do. Because if I had to choose, I’d save Mary Poppins. But maybe the two of them could team up and defeat calamity with sheer cheerfulness and treacly goodness. Like some sort of caped duo with sparkly smiles and perfect pitch. But part of me thinks Poppins has a dark streak and would turn on you just as soon as look at you. A spoonful of sugar, my foot. The hills are alive, indeed. So, you’re on your own, Sandy.

Moving Forward to Take America Back 2012!

We had an abundance of things to be thankful for this year in the Milhizer household, and not the least of these is the inspiration I know each of us took from the illuminating and ever-present campaigning and election process. We were wrapped up in the intricacies of polling numbers, Electoral College scenarios, and familiarity with county maps of Florida. We, at the Milhizer house, are sad to see it go and as such are considering a move to Ohio, which is like the North Pole, except for year-round elections instead of Christmas. Imagine a world where Hobby Lobby already has its 2016 red, white, and blue bunting up in anticipation! Can you say, “confetti cannon”? And so to extend the joy until the exploratory committees emerge next week, an homage, Milhizer style…

Editor’s note: For full effect, read aloud in your best “Investigative Journalist” voice with equal parts outrage and opprobrium.

60% of Milhizer Household: TAKERS!

Three out of 5 Milhizers pay no income taxes; never mind that they don’t have income. That’s not the point. All they do is demand food, clothing, the latest gadgets, and to be driven to an extreme number of extra-curricular activities. Just keeping the hybrid fueled up has forced Barbara to maintain 3 jobs: as HR consultant, yoga instructor, and unpaid (yet much loved) blogger. And yet, she finds time to practice piano, photo-document the family, and spend quality time with her Crock Pot.

Children Exploited to Enhance Facebook Posts

It’s clear that without being able to brag about their children’s accomplishments, these people would have absolutely nothing to say. For example:


  • 2011-2012 Piano Student of the Year
  • 4th grade All A Honor Roll
  • 4th place Durham Intermediate Spelling Bee
  • 1st place Back Kick Board Break and 2nd place Staff Form, Hamandang Texas Tae Kwon Do Competition


  • 2 goals to cement the Rovers’ single win of the season
  • Superior Rating in Fall Piano Festival
  • Voted Best Laugh EVER

Such disgusting and shameless use of their offspring. They are probably angling for a reality TV show. Somewhere Honey Boo Boo weeps.

Blue State Vacation Bias?

Don’t think it has gone unnoticed that 100% of vacations the Milhizers took were to BLUE STATES!

  • Skiing in Steamboat Colorado for Spring Break!
  • A week in Chicago over the summer visiting public institutions, like museums! And you know what goes on in Chicago…community organizing!
  • Torch Lake, Michigan. Isn’t that really South Canada?
  • And Hawaii, which Donald Trump doesn’t even recognize as a state!

The only thing less American would be a trip to Europe, and our sources indicate that’s in the works for 2013.


Seamus, the hard-working family dog, was simply doing his job as retriever when he tried to bag a neighborhood cyclist for the family. Simply pulling his weight, we say. (The neighbor and local law enforcement saw it somewhat differently.) What did loyalty and honest work get Seamus? OUTSOURCED! Now he lives in the country with other dogs, competing for survival, and relegated to riding on car roofs. Meanwhile, his cozy bed and chew toys are taken over by a “Portuguese Water Dog.” Our investigators looked it up, and we’re pretty sure Portugal isn’t even in this country. As a result, we are unable to authenticate the birth certificate of this so-called Sheba. Another example of American jobs going to undocumented workers? You be the judge.

Foreign Take-Over! Heiliger Apfelstrudel!

T-Mobile is buying MetroPCS, where Eric is VP of Marketing. T-Mobile is owned by Deutsche Telekom. I think we all know where this is going…half of Eric’s salary will be earmarked for the Greek Debt Alleviation Fund, the Milhizers will now be forced to pledge allegiance to Angela Merkel, and they must now learn to accessorize properly with scarves. Jawohl!

You Didn’t Build That!

Still no house on the property on Lake Charlevoix. It’s almost like they are expecting someone to come along and build the heli-pad and car elevators for them.

Polls Indicate Milhizers Bitterly Divided

On any given day these people can’t agree on what to name the new puppy, where to eat, whose turn it is to pick the song in the car, or who started the argument, and yet they manage to take as many vacations a Congress and still maintain a higher favorability rating. But they all agree on the following end to the annual letter…

May your post-election bounce be permanent, your gaffes few, your fiscal cliff a short drop, your PAC replete with funds, and your fate not rest in the hands of (clearly incapable) Florida. (Can we just replace them with Puerto Rico? Then we wouldn’t have to re-do the stars on the flag.)

Wishing you happy holidays and a terrific 2 years until congressional elections,

Eric, Barbara, Gus, and Nate

I am Barbara Milhizer, and I approved this message. Cue the video montage…

Turns Out, I Don’t Love a Parade

mickey-mouse-party-ideas-21678345There are a few things that are just accepted as widely adored, like puppies and rainbows. But there are a few things that are just presumed adored, and if it’s one thing I hate, it’s presumption.

1. Parades. The whole concept is weird–standing there and watching people pass you by. I don’t like the metaphor.

2. DisneyWorld/Land/Universe, whatever. I don’t like rides, crowds, or metal gates herding me as if to slaughter. I also find adults in costumes strangely unnerving (That one’s for you, Amy). That mouse is suspect. Did you ever notice no matter which way he turns, his ears are ALWAYS forward? It’s like he’s listening for dissent is his kingdom of mandatory cheerfulness.

Eric and I once came close to divorce on Disney property, and cheery minions were dispatched to address the situation. “We’ve got a domestic situation in ToonTown! Smiles on, people. This is not a drill!” I don’t like contrived fun or forced happiness. And if you’ve visited France at Epcot, it’s really not like being in France. At all. I wonder what wins–staying in Disney character and being robotically happy or acting the part of a Frenchman and being rude? I bet their heads explode at the prospect. Just go to France, you’d probably save money. And they’re not rude, they hate the presumption that everyone speaks English and takes US dollars. My kind of people.

3. Cruises. It’s me and 5000 of my closest friends! Except they are not my friends. They are the people that populate my personal hell. I just need more in my day than filling the space between meals. Oddly Disney Cruises sound more appealing than the component parts by themselves. Still…

4. Goodnight, Moon I do not understand the appeal to this book whatsoever. It is the worst example of poetry ever. There is no standard rhyming scheme, and sometimes she sets you up for the obvious rhyme like with “Goodnight, comb” and then just as you are expecting “Goodnight, garden gnome…” nothing. It’s like the sneeze that just won’t happen. Instead she goes from comb to brush (and who needs both?) near a bowl of mush (unsanitary). And why isn’t that old lady up and about cleaning up the mush? I guess that’s why the mouse was attracted to the scene in the first place. And how is it that rabbits and kittens and mice are co-habitating anyway? And what’s up with that balloon?