Friday, December 28, 2012

Hiatuses and Air Travel and Pains in the Ass

Charming asked me a couple of days ago, "Are you like...on vacation from blogging or something? You haven't had your face in your computer in a while. Don't you think you should tell people?"

"Oh, babe. Don't be silly. Making a point of telling people implies that I would assume someone might notice."

It appears I wrote my last post 10 days ago. Unacceptable. I have missed it terribly. But with Christmas and holiday travel and trying not to lose my mind, I lost track of time.

A few days after Thanksgiving, I channeled my inner idiot (which is not difficult to do) and decided to book tickets for us to fly to Texas to visit family ON CHRISTMAS DAY. Airlines like to stick it to the consumer around the holidays and make it all but impossible to afford air travel. Unless you travel ON the actual holiday. We have done this once before, and I didn't remember it being too horrible. But as I was rushing around on Christmas Eve trying to get laundry done and suitcases packed and the house cleaned and the last of the presents wrapped, I remembered that we, as human beings, tend to block unpleasant experiences from our memory so they can be sure to be repeated at a later date. Childbirth being an excellent example of this remarkable capability. Also included in that category - holiday travel.

After a rapid-fire present opening, Christmas morning breakfast, and wrapping paper explosion clean-up, we were out the door and on the road by noon.

45 minutes into our trip to the airport (it is an hour and a half drive), we found out our flight was delayed an hour and 20 minutes. Too far to turn around and go home, we decided to stop for lunch. Our choices included: McDonalds. Where we were met with a staff that was positively delighted to be working on Christmas Day.

Long-term parking was full. We were told we must go park at the international terminal (which we aren't familiar with), so we go round and round the airport until we find it. Then we walk at least a mile from the international terminal to the domestic terminal with 2 kids, 2 (giant) suitcases, and 6 various-sized carry-ons because we are morons and didn't think to use the tram.

Terrible quality, but I was running. Charming carried that bag (that we learned weighed 46 pounds) across the majority of the San Francisco airport.

I chose to ignore Charming's incessant commands to "Hurry up!" (which only makes me want to go slower) and instruction giving (since I obviously have no clue how air travel works as I've only done it a thousand times, usually alone with 2 children), and also made the decision to go through a separate security line. It was a necessary step in avoiding an embarrassing scene at the airport. What are these plastic bins for again, oh wise one?

We made it through security (without being violated by TSA I might add), took our pre-flight bathroom breaks, and got situated at our gate. Twenty minutes later the gate attendant came over the intercom announcing our flight was canceled due to a freak snow storm in Dallas. If you don't know anything about Dallas, rarely snows. And when it does, it shuts shit down. Period.

I kind of chuckled at the news because OF COURSE IT IS CANCELED WHY WOULDN'T IT BE and also at the speed at which a line of 50 people formed at the gate counter. These people were not sitting there a minute ago. Where did they come from? So we skip the gate counter and go back to the ticket counter. After a brief discussion of which agent we think looks the least pissed so we really hope we get that one, it was our turn to attempt to get re-booked on another flight. Charming turned on the charm (also know as ass-kissing) by wooing said ticket agent with corny jokes and being overly-complimentary of her festive light-up Christmas sweater. In doing so, he scored us a 6 a.m. flight and a one-day later return trip with no change fee. Win.

We quickly did the math and realized that a 6 a.m. flight meant we would have to be at the airport no later than 4:30, meaning we would have to catch the shuttle at 4:00, meaning we would have to get up by 3:30. Yippee. We utilized Priceline like a boss and scored a fairly cheap deal on a nearby not-so-crappy hotel room to spend the next 8 hours. I won't go into detail of how our 3:30 wake-up call went, but you can all be assured that we are a real fun bunch at that time of day.

We've now made it to Texas and are on day 4 of our trip. It has been great to see our family over the holiday. Despite the royal pain in the ass it was to get here, I truly treasure the time we spend together and feel fortunate that we are able to do so.

But if I suggest we do this shit on Christmas again, I hope someone punches me square in the face.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wax On, Wax Off

We are traveling home to Texas for the holidays, and on my to-do list before we head south was to get my eyebrows waxed. For the bazillionth time this year. (I'm anxiously awaiting notification from Guinness regarding my possible win in the facial hair growth category.) Since I outed myself in my holiday brag letter that I decided to put ON THE INTERNET, I know where all eyes will go the minute everyone back home sees me.  Well have no fear. I got these babies all prettied up for y'all.

But not without pain and embarrassment.

Because I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal, I typically decide to do things like eyebrow waxing, pedicures, haircuts, and all personal grooming errands in general on a whim. I was standing in line at the post office when I caught a glimpse of myself on the security camera.

Holy crap. There's a Sasquatch in here.

Oh. Nevermind. That's just me. Anyway. It was then that I realized I was past due. Of course I am. It's been at least 24 hours since my last facial grooming session.

So on my way home I stopped at a local salon that accepts walk-ins. I have been there before and the woman did a good job and she worked fast, so I figured it was a safe bet to go back. The same woman greeted me at the counter and asked what I needed done. I told her an eyebrow wax and signed the register.

"Give me just a few minutes. James! Customer!"


There is a large Assyrian population in this part of the country. I will get it all wrong if I try to explain what Assyrian is because I find the origins a little confusing and out of respect for their culture, I will not butcher such an attempt. The important thing to take note of here is that they are foreign and they have an exotic look about them. Kind of Italian-like. Dark skin and hair with prominent features. Not unattractive.

Here's a run-down of my appearance for this little pit-stop: jeans, green t-shirt, long sweater, second-day hair in ponytail, no make-up, Sasquatch face. 

So I'm sitting in the little waiting area looking like that and here comes James all...

Okay, so he didn't look exactly like that. But there was a resemblance, okay?

Uh-huh. In no way is this going to be embarrassing. 

So we go over to the stylist's chair and he's all up in my grill checking out my unruly brows and I'm wondering what the hell happened and why isn't Mary over there doing this instead of eating her lunch and I'm pretty sure I just saw her look over here and snicker. WTF, Mary? 

James wastes no time applying wax and those little strips to what feels like every inch of my face. Only he does them all at the same time instead of one by one. So I'm sitting there with white rectangles stuck all over my face when his friend walks over and starts talking to him. In a foreign language.

You know how you feel when you go get a pedicure and the ladies start talking to each other about your hammer toes or what a bitch you are in a language you can't understand? Yeah. It was kind of like that. Except with guys. So awesome.

FINALLY the friend walks away. James returns to business and strikes up a conversation with me about the Dallas Cowboys (because at some point it came up that I am from Texas). Something about him learning about football when he moved to America and he liked the blue and silver and he liked the star, so he decided that was going to be "his team". Okay. I approve. His English was a little broken, but he can say "Go Cowboys!" quite clearly.

Did I mention the soundtrack of choice playing AT TOP VOLUME in the salon was Celine Dion? So here we are saying "Go Cowboys!" back and forth and discussing Tony Romo's inconsistencies while "All By Myself" is blaring in the background and I've got a mask of wax and fabric covering three quarters of my face. This was one for the memory book, people.

He finally finishes and I RUN to the reception desk to pay so I can get.the.hell.out. I swear Mary is still laughing at me. James saunters over and says, "I do good job? My name James. I here six days." 

"Great! See you next time!"

And that is the story of why I have to find a new place to get my eyebrows waxed.

Save me from further embarrassment and click on this, would 'ya?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Let Your Light Shine

After the welcome and opening prayers, our minister always has a "children's time" as part of the service. He invites all of the children down to the front of the church and shares a short story or lesson that is at a level they can understand. He often uses a prop to grab their attention and hold their interest. Their responses and commentary throughout are often funny, and always adorable.

Yesterday he brought out a strand of Christmas lights. He laid it out along the floor and walked over to the outlet to plug it in. The children appropriately "ooh'ed" and "aah'ed", as I am sure he had hoped they would. One light in the strand did not illuminate.

"What do you notice about this strand of lights?" he asked.

"That one's broken!" several pointed and exclaimed in unison.

That one is broken.

"Yes. It is broken. But look. Look at the other ones. See how bright they are? When we put them on a Christmas tree, even though one of them is broken, the rest of them work together and they make the tree so beautiful."

The rest of them work together to make the tree beautiful. 

He didn't go on to discuss last week's tragedy. I am sure that most of the children in the audience were oblivious to its occurrence. But every adult sitting in the pews knew exactly what the broken light was to which he was referring. I kind of wonder if he told this story more for us.

I am choosing to share this with you because I so desperately needed to hear it. Maybe you do, too. Because I, perhaps as you did, spent the majority of the weekend contemplating humankind. Wondering if we are all living a hopeless existence. I thought about it. And I cried about it. And I prayed about it. And then I remembered there IS good in the world. Sometimes the evil is SO evil that it blinds us. It seems impossible to see the good. But we can't let it be.


Because then evil wins.


We will remember that day. We will remember where we were when we heard the news, and we will remember the shock, disbelief, horror, and sorrow. We will mourn for those lost and the loved ones that lost them. Everyone in America has a new hole in their heart, most of us complete strangers to the victims and their families.

Although our lives are forever changed, we have a choice. We can choose to blame and hate and give up on one another. Or we can choose to fix and love and help those in need. Every day is an opportunity to do good. Every day is an opportunity to make the world a more beautiful place. Some days it will be hard, and we will have to talk ourselves into seeing the good among immeasurable degrees of bad. But, every day we can do our best to defeat evil. We at least have to try.

The world is our Christmas tree. Let your light shine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Go Home, Dolly. You're Drunk.

Here's the deal-e-o. I love Christmas music. Always have. It irritates the crapola out of me that some radios stations start blasting it over the airwaves at precisely dark:30 on Halloween, but I ashamedly admit to sometimes having a hard time changing the station. Because CHRISTMAS IS COMING. But I buckle down and change it anyway because I am making a statement and because of poor forgotten Thanksgiving and because I believe in equal rights among holidays.

On the other side of that coin, WHY do they stop playing it altogether at noon on Christmas day? It is CHRISTMAS DAY. Maybe if you hadn't been sitting in your little DJ booth listening to it 24-7 for the past 65 and one half days you'd be a little more tolerant of it on this day of our Savior's birth. You know, the ONE DAY we've been working up to all this time?

ANYWAY...Kim over at The Fordeville Diaries who always (as in ALWAYS) makes me laugh, comprised a short list of her favorite holiday tunes and invited other bloggers to join in. At least I think she invited other bloggers to join in. In any case, I know you've all been pining the days away wondering, "What are her favorite Christmas songs? I simply must know!" Well, wait no more because here they are...

5. Carol of the Bells.
I have loved this song ever since the day I first saw 'Home Alone' a LONG time ago. I saw it when it was in theaters. This song is beautiful and a little bit haunting and it makes me want to run home and booby trap my house. Not really. But it does channel my Christmas spirit.

4. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).
More specifically, the version sung by the great Nat King Cole. Besides the fact that this song is a classic, it also reminds me of my childhood. I remember playing this CASSETTE TAPE on the JAM BOX (see how I dated myself there?) while helping decorate the Christmas tree. This song also makes me picture a scene with people walking along snow-covered sidewalks with packages and shopping bags, smiling and laughing and just plain giddy over their purchases ("as shoppers rush home with their treasures"). And what a lovely scene that is. Of course, having lived somewhere that it snows, I know that snow-covered sidewalks are a bitch and people are neither laughing OR smiling about that mess. Nevertheless, that's the scene in my head.

3. Baby It's Cold Outside by Dean Martin.
I don't feel like this one requires much of an explanation because ELF and also because it is chocked full of musical awesomeness. What with the his and her back-and-forth duet and the subtle "let's get it on" undertones. If this diddy doesn't make you want to grab your sweetie and run through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, then I don't know what will.

2. Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan.
Because sometimes during the holidays I want to sit in an oversized chair and weep into my coffee (or know, depending on time of day). I admit it. This song is depressing. But it is also beautiful. Once you get over the fact that Sarah has ruined everyone in America's life with those damn Humane Society commercials, maybe you can learn to love this one too.

1.  Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton.
I'm not sure why I love this song so. Neither do I remember when I first heard it. I am from Texas, so I was kind of destined to like country music. I know there are some Texans out there that don't but I'm not clear on how that could have happened. Anyway, I hope the fact that I adore this song doesn't subconsciously say something about me. Because it is kind of whack. And I cannot for the life of me figure out what hard candy has to do with Christmas. Is there a hidden meaning I don't know about?

 Actual Lines from song:
Hey, maybe I'll learn to sew
Maybe I'll just lie low
Maybe I'll hit the bars
Maybe I'll count the stars
Until the dawn

I'll be just fine and dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas.

Earlier in the song she talked about getting drunk on apple wine, so that could explain the confusing turn these lyrics have taken. I think you've had enough, Dolly.  But I got nothin' but love for ya.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm Gonna Need More Tape

Charming and I did a little Christmas shopping over the weekend. As we were pushing our way through the overly crowded toy aisles in Target, I noticed something. There is an especially atrocious act of ass-hattery going on among the toy manufacturers. I have reason to believe they are in cahoots with the gift bag industry. Because that act is called: not packaging their shit in either a square or rectangular box.

It is an immoral thing they are doing, really. Putting their toys in packaging that is all but IMPOSSIBLE to gift wrap so we poor and desperate consumers are forced to purchase a five dollar gift bag in which to present said toy to our loved ones.

I found myself getting a little pissed off about the whole thing as we were browsing. I picked up several toys thinking, "Oh! This would be a great gift!". And then I would notice a rounded edge or odd-shaped backing and I would immediately put it back on the shelf exclaiming, "How the hell am I supposed to get wrapping paper around that?! I would need three rolls of tape to piece together all the paper this thing would require. There would be rips and holes and tears and unevenness and IT WOULD BE UGLY. I just won't have it."

You see, the little bit of OCD I have tends to come out at Christmas time. I actually enjoy wrapping presents. I like to purchase several coordinating wrapping papers for the occasion, and then spend a ridiculous amount of time tying the perfect bow to adorn each package. Because I like pretty things.

Also, roughly 80% (I'm guessing because I'm not going to seriously do the math to figure out that percentage) of the gifts I purchase are shipped out of state. Have you tried to ship a gift bag? Even if you put the gift bag in a shipping box, all of the contents fall out in transit and the $5 bag comes out looking like it was run over by a tanker trunk. And who knows? Maybe it was. In any case, I don't like shipping gift bags. I want my gifts to arrive wrapped in festive Christmas paper that I lov-ing-ly took time out of my day to tend to.

Here are some examples. The proof is in the pictures, people.

Exhibit A. What the hell happened to plain rectangular packaging for Barbie? That was a tried and true go-to for any little girl on your shopping list, and with 90 degree angles all over the place that package was a no-fail gift wrapping opportunity. Check out that curvy little number they've perched her in. I heard she turned 50 a few years ago, so I guess they thought they needed to "doctor up" the packaging a little. (Oh no she dih-unt!)
Come on, Mattel.

Exhibit B. This one didn't look so bad at first. Then I picked it up and turned it over and noticed that little car on the side. It's got its own little display window there. And not only does that display window stick out of the rest of the packaging, but it is also ROUNDED. Nope. I'll spend my $14.99 elsewhere. Let's keep moving.
Do you see that? Why? Why would they do this?

And finally, Exhibit C. Who wouldn't like a nice game of Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga(!!!)? Well I don't care if that IS at the top of your wish list. I'm not buying it for you because just look at what they've done here. You look at the box sitting there all rectangular-like on the shelf. Then you pick it up. Gotcha! Check out the backing that sticks up on top and along the side. Rectangle my ass.
I can't even caption this one it is so ridiculous.

Tis the season for Toys R Us gift cards.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday Share - Week 2

This has been a big week for me out in the blogosphere!

I finagled precious jewels from Charming by serving him an insult opportunity on a silver platter. Totally intentional and he is none the wiser. An insult lasts only a moment, but brush that shit off because diamonds last forever.

I sent our holiday brag letter to everyone on the internets. It was a stellar year for our family. If you are someone who gets jealous easily, you probably shouldn't read it.

We also invited one of those little elf(ish) things into our house this week. I hadn't planned to do it, but the children were working my last nerve and I got desperate. Also, I'm cheap so our elf is an imposter I got at the dollar store. Charming is thoroughly embarrassed and wants me to make it clear that he had nothing to do with this. He is not nearly as miserly as I am. Anyway, so far it's been a dollar well spent. Operation: freak the snot out of my kids...complete. caught wind of my efforts and shared my post with their fans. It's my most popular one yet (what is it about that damn elf that people love to read?!)! Thanks to them, I made a lot of new friends. If you are one of them, WELCOME!

Last week, I promised to share a blog I've been reading with you so you can enjoy it too. This week, it's The Sarcasm Goddess over at 'For the Love of Writing'. I'm pretty sure we have a date to do karate in the garage sometime after the holidays. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read here.)

Warning: Do not read her blog while enjoying your venti non-fat no-whip sugar-free soy half-decaf cinnamon gingerbread peppermint latte, as it will end up all over your computer screen. You paid six bucks for that cup o' joe and I don't want to be held responsible for any of that sweet nectar not making it down to your thirsty little belly. This chick has the sarcasm thing down pat. I could learn a thing or two from her. Also, she's vowed to blog every single day until Christmas, so it's exciting to know I can look forward to at least one laugh a day. 

And because it's Christmas and SANTA IS COMING and in honor of my 10,000th pageview happening this week (!!!!!), I will end this post with one of my favorite scenes from my favorite Christmas movie OF ALL TIME...Elf (Duh. How could they go wrong with a name like that?) Also, if you don't like this movie I'm 150% positive we can't be friends. And also, smiling's my favorite.  Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Our Elf Came From the Dollar Store

I'm starting to feel like everyone is going to a party and I wasn't invited.

You might be saying to yourself, "I wonder why she wasn't invited? She's a little off, but she doesn't seem like that big of a social outcast."

Okay, maybe you're not saying that.

But I'm not talking about a party in the literal sense (to which I'm sure there will be plenty that I am not invited). I'm talking about this little Elf on the Shelf phenomenon. We don't have one. Never have. *GASP* say all the mothers who actually love their children.

I did a little background check, and it turns out the elf was born the same year Dimples was...2005. Tink was four. I guess I was too busy dealing with mom-brain-malfunction (still am, ssshh don't tell) and didn't notice this new fad. Because that is like THE prime time to sneak one of those little punks into your house to scare the bejeezus out of your kids about Santa not coming if they don't get their asses in line.

I didn't even know it existed until last year when "People I want to Punch in the Throat's" blog post about it went viral. I seriously hope she gets some kind of royalty from that company because I can tell you she has got to be responsible for at least 70% of their sales. Even if people only bought one to take pictures of it doing stupid shit to post on the internets. A sell is a sell.

Anyway, from what I can tell, it seems that you're either a lover or a hater regarding the creepy little thing. I can say I'm pretty much indifferent (except for the fact that so far I've referred to it as a "punk" and "creepy". Oops.). But honestly, we don't have one so how can I offer up a valid opinion? I can tell you that if we did have one, I would fail miserably at remembering to move it or making it look like it's been up to some crazy shenanigans or whatever it is you're supposed to do to effectively scare your kids into angelic behavior. Since we don't have one I have not had the briefing on maximizing elf effectiveness.

I've never felt like I've missed much by skipping out (albeit unintentionally) on the elf. Until now. Christmas is right around the corner and all the little boys and girls are supposed to be on their best behavior in hopes they will witness a  Christmas miracle and BAM an in-ground swimming pool (for example) will appear in your yard overnight. Thanks a lot, Hallmark Channel. My kids are usually pretty well-behaved all year long, so I rarely have a reason to break out "Santa's not gonna stop at our house" threats. But for whatever reason, they have decided to up their game and go all rogue on me right here during the final hour.

It's not stuff that really little kids do like throw tantrums in the grocery store or refuse to take their afternoon nap. It's annoying elementary-school age stuff like shooting each other with Nerf guns at point blank range until the other one screams, or having to be told 87 times to brush their teeth, or fighting over who gets which peanut butter cup out of the Advent calendar (which are exactly the same by the way). I've especially enjoyed their newest game of suddenly and unexpectedly screaming at the top of their lungs while we are in the car and sending me into cardiac arrest as I am sure I missed a turn and we are about to go hurling over a bridge into the San Francisco Bay. Or something as equally terrifying.

 I need some leverage.

It got me to thinking...maybe I should get our family one of those elf things. Surely I could manage to pull off at least a couple of convincing maneuvers between now and Christmas Eve. My kids are pretty gullible. And easily creeped out. Perfect recipe for one of those things to work in my favor.

So I looked them up online to see where I could find one and...WHAT??? Twenty-nine ninety-five? I am cheap. CHEAP. Like hell I'm going to spend thirty bucks on a toy that makes an appearance one month a year, not to mention I'm pretty sure after this year Tink's done buyin' what we're sellin' when it comes to the whole Santa gig.

I do some brainstorming. And I have an idea. I dig through the bin of "Christmas decor that didn't make the cut because it's stupid and/or ugly but it's a keepsake so I can't toss it" and I found an elf(ish) thing that I can use in lieu of said elf. I bought it a couple of years ago at the Dollar Tree. I love the Dollar Tree. Did you know that EVERYTHING in that store really IS just a dollar? Ah-May-Zing. I hate when I go to "dollar" stores and the price tag says $3 or $5 and sometimes even $10. What the hell? This is a DOLLAR store. Not plural. Shit. I got off-topic.

Anyway, I found this ELF (close enough) that I'm going to set out and try to remember to move around at least a few times this holiday season. Maybe I'll snap a picture or two and share it with you guys. I think it might be juuust creepy enough to scare them straight.

Now that I'm looking at him, I think maybe it's supposed to be Santa? His beard is LITERALLY hanging by a thread so I'm not sure. Also he's pretty skinny. Do elves ever have beards? Looks like he's missing one of the bells from his shoes, too. Well, hell, what do you expect? It was a dollar.

You'll also notice I added a note. I'm pretty sure my kids are clueless to the elf thing, so it's possible he would go unnoticed if I didn't do at least that. Look how creative I am. A NOTE. I cannot BELIEVE I'm starting this of my own accord. What an idiot.

See this banner? Make me look like less of an idiot and click on it, would ya'?!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Not-So-Humble Holiday Shout Out

I'm already behind on my Christmas to-do list. It's December 4th and I have YET to get started on our Christmas cards. I got out of doing them last year because I played the "We're in the middle of moving and I'm just so overwhelmed and emotional" card, but I'm all out of excuses this year. Dammit.

So, that's my goal for this week.

Get ass in gear to design picture perfect Christmas card even though we never really look like that except for this one occasion but I'd like for people to think so which is kind of a lost cause since I've pretty much blown our cover with this blog.

Maybe I'll just wear my work out clothes and let the kids wear their jeans and t-shirts. That would more accurately capture our every day look. OR if we wait until Saturday to take the picture - as long as I take it before, say 3 p.m. - we could do one in our jammies. I'll try to find matching ones so we can at least be festive. The creative juices are really starting to flow.

In the meantime, I thought I'd take on a new holiday tradition (and by tradition I mean this one time) by writing a holiday "brag letter". That's right. Very out of character for me, but there's just so much good shit going on with us that I'd like to shout it from a mountain top. But since we don't live in the mountains anymore the internet will just have to do. So brace yourselves. Jealousy is about to ensue.

Dear Friends and Family,

Cheers and Happy Holidays! 

I hope this letter finds you all doing well. Since many of you aren't on Facebook to see an online play-by-play of our lives, I thought I'd catch you up on some of our happenings this year. 

As you probably know, we moved to California. It really is a beautiful state and we live in close proximity to so many amazing landscapes. It is also among one of the highest taxed states in the nation so we're getting pretty psyched about April 15th. Refunds are such. a. drag. I'm SO glad we won't be getting one this year to argue about what we should use it for. One less thing.

Another benefit of living on the West Coast is that we all know that a higher price means a higher quality. We hardly ever have to pay less than $4/gallon for gas! Our regular unleaded is better than your regular unleaded. So suck it.

We bought a house! The decor wasn't our style, so we did a lot to "make it ours" before we moved in. In an attempt to be budget-conscious, we decided to do several of the smaller projects ourselves. We learned lots about home improvement and neither of us threatened to contact an attorney. True love and all. We also had the opportunity to start over on several projects, which was good practice in perseverance. Never give up! Not to mention that at the end of the day we saved tens of dollars by being do-it-yourself-ers! Yay!

Dimples has lost a lot of teeth this year! His baby teeth were so perfect and evenly spaced that I was beginning to worry that he was going to miss out on the thrill and excitement of braces. Fortunately, it looks like they are coming in just catawampus enough that he, too, will be able to experience the modern miracle of orthodonture. Whew. That's a load off.

Tink has really blossomed in her new school. She's still quite small for her age, but has used that opportunity to continue ordering from the 10 and under kids menus (even though she's 11 - such a little rebel, that one). I am personally thrilled that she's of smaller stature, as it aids in my denial that the teen years are right around the corner. I can still count on one hand the number of times she has rolled her eyes at me and any smart mouthing has been done cautiously beyond my earshot. She's one smart cookie.

Charming's new job has proven to be quite an undertaking. He travels much more than he did before, but on the up side he averages 3 nights a week of getting to set the room's sleeping temperature just below freezing without listening to me complain about my borderline hypothermic extremities (and proving it by putting my feet on his back in protest). It also appears that spending lots of time away from the comforts of home make your wife's disdain for housekeeping seem like an insignificant detail, and sloppy joes now qualify as a home-cooked meal. Everyone wins!

As for me, I have had my eyebrows waxed no less than 11 times this year. A thorough waxing lasts the average person 6 weeks. But I kind of like to think of myself as slightly ABOVE average. And if you do the math, 11 times in a year works out to be just over every 4 1/2 weeks. Booyah. If my late 30's have shown improvement in any area, it's the ability to grow facial hair faster than any woman on Earth. Go ahead and grab a tissue to wipe away your tears of resentment.  

The dogs seems to have adjusted quite nicely to the move. I was a little concerned that they might have some issues with the new house, but Oliver still pisses on chair corners and Autumn still digs holes in the flower beds. A seamless transition is what we've seen here.

Well, that about sums up our year. I know. It's a lot to digest. I hope you will consider remaining in contact once your envy subsides. 

Kisses and Hugs! 
~Our Badass Family~

Could you give ME a humble shout out and click on this banner?


Monday, December 3, 2012

I Can Wear Diamonds with Yoga Pants

Before I became (I really dislike this title) a "Stay at Home Mom", I was an accountant. I worked in the field full time until my oldest was 2, then part-time until we moved out of Texas - away from all of our family/support system/emergency babysitters. It wasn't my dream job but it got me out of the house, gave me an opportunity to use my brain for something other than memorizing title sequences from the Disney Channel, and there was a routine paycheck. All in all, a decent gig.

I consider going back to work from time to time. I kind of miss it. But the truth is I don't want to be an accountant. I don't know what I'd like to do, but sitting at a desk all day staring at a computer and entering numbers IS NOT IT.

Charming and I were watching the Cowboy's game on TV last night and one of the announcers mentioned something about one of the player's wives being an emergency room nurse.

Charming: That's interesting that she works. She probably doesn't have to.

Me: Well, maybe she likes her job. I'd go back to work if I liked what I did. I think being a nurse would be cool.

Charming: Are you saying you're gonna go to nursing school?

Me: No. I don't have the stomach for nursing. And I'm fairly certain one doesn't just DECIDE to go to nursing school. But I like that you get to talk to people and don't sit at a desk all day. Also, I'd like a job where I got to wear scrubs and squishy shoes.

Charming: Well that would be a step up from what you wear now.

Me: .....

Charming: .....

Charming: Would you like diamonds for Christmas?

Moral of this story:
Bait your husband for an insult and you will score jewelry. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday Share - Week 1

Hey ere'body! Happy Saturday!

I've mentioned before that I have really upped my game on blog reading lately. It's so much fun and I love exchanging snarky, smart-ass comments with people who share my interests...making fun of themselves and playing on Facebook and Twitter.

You know that part in "Step-Brothers" where Dale and Brennan figure out they have a whole bunch of things in common and Brennan says "Did we just become best friends?" and Dale says "Yep!" and then they go do karate in the garage? Well, I've had several moments like that out in the blogosphere. But with less karate.

Since I haven't come up with anything "gimmicky" yet to do with my blog, I decided I'd start with a "Saturday Share". Since everyone is looking for a way to spend even more time being unproductive reading and gaining knowledge online, I thought at the end of each week I'd share a blog I've found and enjoy. Because sharing is caring and, let's face it, I'm pretty damn caring. And good things come to those who care. Or is it to those who wait? Either way.

I'll start things off with a blog that I stumbled upon a few weeks ago through "Blogging While Mom".  She calls herself "Funny is Family". I read her blog and found out that she only started blogging about a month before me. I sent her an email asking her some questions about a few things I hadn't figured out yet. She had no idea who I was, but she was kind enough to email me back and was super nice and helpful so she automatically went on my "list of awesome strangers that I'd probably be best friends with if we didn't live on opposite sides of the country". She's funny and snarky and makes fun of parenting. So, yeah.

Well, that's the share for this week. Look for more in weeks to come. Do you have a blog? Do you know of one I should check out and possibly share? Send me a link!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Santa's a Stalker and Probably Has Diabetes

I was laying in bed last night, thinking about yesterday's post - feeling weepy and nostalgic. And then, as they often do, my thoughts turned on me. They went to that dark, cynical place I'm all too familiar with, and I started thinking about all the shit we've told our kids about Santa and how it's a miracle they believe a word that comes out of our mouths about him (or anything for that matter) and it's no wonder they are terrified as hell when they see him.

Just think for a second about the things we tell our kids about Ol' Saint Nick.

What we say: He lives in a magical toy workshop in the North Pole.
Hmmmm: He is a socially awkward recluse. He has so few friends that he has chosen to live in the most uninhabitable place on earth with nothing better to do than make toys to give away the one night of the entire year that he ever leaves. So far, a failed attempt at making enough friends to get him out of the desolate wasteland he calls home.

What we say: He gets into our house at night through the chimney. What if we don't have a chimney? Keyhole. What's a keyhole? We don't have one of those, either. Window. He just figures it out, okay.
Hmmmm: This man is a master at breaking and entering. He leaves us stuff, but I don't trust anyone that can wiggle their nose and end up in our living room. Better sleep with one eye open.

What we say: Everyone has to leave him cookies and milk on Christmas Eve so he'll have enough energy to get through the night.
Hmmmm: He eats nothing but cookies all night? You never let me have more than two cookies because too much sugar is bad for you and childhood obesity is an epidemic in this country. Didn't you say he's already fat? What was that disease you warned me about? Diabetes?

What we say: He has eight (nine if you count Rudolph) reindeer pull him on a sleigh through the sky to deliver presents on Christmas Eve.
Hmmmm: He is no friend to animals. You won't even let me strap my doll to our dog's back. We just talked about his unhealthy diet and how overweight he is. He has these poor creatures pull his fat ass plus like A BILLION presents ALL OVER THE WORLD in one single night? Where the hell is PETA at a time like this?

What we say: He has elves build the toys all year long so he can deliver them.
Hmmmm: He runs a sweatshop. Where do these "elves" come from? He is, after all, sneaking into the houses of billions of children once a year.'s probably best to sleep with one eye open.

What we say: He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake.
Hmmmm: He's a stalker. Are you sure he drives a sleigh and not an unmarked white van equipped with a satellite and surveillance camera?

What we say: He keeps a list of all the girls and boys in the whole world. He knows who is "naughty" and "nice".
Hmmmm: Isn't that the same thing as a pedophile? You said I should never talk to a stranger even if they know my name. I wonder if the neighborhood watch people know about this.

So, we tell our children all of these things. And then we take them to shopping malls and Christmas parties and sit them in his lap. And we expect nothing less than smiles and happiness.

Photo courtesy of my sister and her adorable children.

Bitch, please.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Don't Stop Believin'

I've noticed that Tink's pants are getting a little shorter. Her long sleeves are starting to creep up above her wrists. It happens when you have kids. You've no more gotten in the door with a new back-to-school wardrobe, and they've already gone up a size. But, this. This is different. Because she's not just growing. She's growing UP. And clothes aren't the only thing she's about to outgrow. It's Christmas. And I feel like I've been punched in the gut. Because I have started to realize...she's about to outgrow Santa.

For the past few years I've thought, "This is it. This is probably going to be the last year that both kids believe." Then we somehow squeak by without anyone blowing our cover. But this year I REALLY DO think it will be the last year she plays along. Maybe she already knows the big secret. I'm not sure that she would tell us if she did. But she hasn't said or done anything to lead us to believe that's the case. The only indication I've seen is that she's a little quieter this year whenever Dimples brings him up. She's 11 and in 6th grade, so I can only assume the cat's been let out of the bag - or it's about to be.

I don't remember exactly when I found out the truth. I don't think there was ever an actual discussion. However it happened, I don't remember it being devastating. But I held on to the belief for a LONG time. My parents were exceptional at the Santa thing, and pulled off some crazy maneuvers. The most memorable was the year my sister and I so badly wanted a playhouse. And voila. Christmas morning there was a playhouse in the backyard. I swear TO THIS DAY that thing was not there when we went to bed on Christmas Eve. Who wouldn't believe after that? (So Mom, if this isn't the case - don't tell me now. No sense in ruining that illusion at this point.)

I do remember wondering how it all worked. I remember thinking, "This seems impossible. These fools better tell me if there's really no Santa before I have kids so I don't look like a big jackass on Christmas morning wondering where the hell all the presents are." Maybe I didn't think it in those exact words, but close enough. I was starting to have some doubt. And I needed someone to level with me.

Is she wondering? Is she waiting on us to share the secret? Do we tell her? Charming says, "I'm not ready for that. Let's get through ONE MORE Christmas." Yes. Me, too. 

Obviously, at some point I figured it out. She will, too. For the past eleven years it's been my turn to be Santa. Despite the last minute shopping and late night assembling and forgetting WHERE THE HELL I hid the presents (one day I'll learn to keep it all in one place), it is one of my very favorite parts of being a parent.

So, I will cherish this Christmas. I will do my best to keep my complaining about long lines and high prices and maniac shoppers to a minimum. I will not cuss at people while I'm driving through shopping mall parking lots (okay, you and I both know that last one's not gonna happen).

I feel pretty lucky that we've gotten this many years out of the jolly fat man in the red suit. I hope we still have at least a few more with Dimples. But, I know it won't be the same.

Her first look at Christmas wonder. (She's always had a flair for the dramatic.)

This train is moving fast.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This is Harder Than I Thought and an Itty Bitty F-Bomb


So. I've been having a bit of "blog name remorse" as of late. When I first thought of it I was all, "Look how clever and original I am!" and now I'm more like, "Blech."

I didn't want to have the word "mom" in my name because sometimes I want to write about something else. And because sometimes, there's more to me than "a mom". I know. THE HORROR!

The whole premise behind my "name" is that for basically my entire life, I've been known as the quiet one. The one that never got into any trouble. The rule follower. The pleaser. The goody-goody. B-O-R-I-N-G. And...not entirely true. I mean, it's not like I grow weed in the basement or go on weekend benders (at least not most weekends), but neither am I the innocent and naive girl/woman/mom that I have have always been perceived to be (people that know me in real life already know this). I felt like this blog was giving me the opportunity to be the "real me". Also, if you haven't read up about me, I grew up across the street from the boy that I would eventually marry. So, I was "the girl next door" in quite a literal sense as well.

And then I was scrolling through the guide while watching TV the other night and saw "The Girls Next Door". And I freak out. If you haven't seen it, it's about Hugh Hefner and three Playboy bunnies that lived with him. OhshitOhshitOhshitOhshit. Even more remorse. SO NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL NEXT DOOR. Oh, well. Maybe it's earned me a few readers. You pervs. And also, Welcome!

The idea was to get away from having to write about any ONE single topic. I'm pretty much all over the map. But I still somehow feel as if I've backed myself into a corner. Like I've named myself as someone that stays hammered and constantly throws out F-bombs, and that if I don't write like that then I'm a fraud. Well, that's not me either. Sometimes I use "the F word" in real life. But, I sound SO ridiculous when I say it. I only use it when I'm REALLY REALLY mad about something and Charming can't even keep a straight face when I say it. He literally laughs at me - even if I'm yelling at him (not that I ever yell at him) - so it kind of loses its effectiveness at that point. I've come really close to using it in my blog a couple of times, but have backed out because I hear myself say it as I type and...I sound ridiculous. Then my Mom decides to tell me "I wish you wouldn't use it" (which of course makes me want to use it THAT MUCH MORE), and Charming says, "I just don't think you're there yet." And I think "You don't even read this so your opinion doesn't matter and WTF does that even mean?" (See, I don't have a problem with acronyms.)

There are literally MILLIONS of mom bloggers and they are smart and clever and well-spoken and hilarious and sometimes I sit and think, "I am pissing in the ocean over here." Especially today. When I have writer's block and can't think of anything to write about other than my lack of F-bomb usage and I'm thinking about how I haven't been giving this my best effort lately and how everyone else is better than me so I should really post something even if it is shit. And now I have created a run-on sentence.

Fuck. Blogging is hard.

(Sorry, couldn't resist that solid opportunity.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Friday and a Christmas Explosion

I participated in Black Friday. ONCE. It was a few years ago and what inspired me to do so continues to mystify me, as I find dealing with the general public to be a challenge on a good day. Let alone at 4 a.m. when all of those shopping maniacs (no offense if you are one) are fueled by the promise of a bargain, pumpkin pie, and a fresh dose of family dysfunction. Also, I place fairly high value on the functionality of my internal organs and I'm just not willing to be trampled for the last of the $20 Barbie Beach Houses or $49 blue-ray players. It should be noted that I do love shopping and I'm a sucker for amazing sales. I would be sure to return home with at least 3 of everything, regardless of whether or not I had anyone to gift said items. So I've found it's best I skip that shopping opportunity.

What I do instead is stay home and orchestrate a Christmas explosion all over our house. Had it been up to the children we would have started this immediately after our Thanksgiving meal, but by then I had exactly enough energy left to change into my stretchy pants and waddle to the couch. Decorating would have to wait until tomorrow. About half an hour into the whining and "But, Mommmmm!" I agreed to let them get the bins out of the closet and LOOK at the decorations. By the time they drug everything out, it was nearing an acceptable hour to enforce bedtime so I managed to successfully delay the activity until the next day.

THIS...was just going to have to wait til tomorrow.

Friday morning (after about 3 cups coffee) I was able to overcome what was left of my tryptophan hangover and get on with our day-after-Thanksgiving tradition as planned.

Step One: Assemble trees. Plural. Each child has one in their room. There is also one by the staircase in the entryway, and one in the living room. You see, I am my own worst enemy. Fortunately, the kids' trees are small and they are now old enough to assemble and decorate them themselves. Which is a good thing because while they were busying themselves with that project, I was able to put together the others and discover that approximately 2/3 of the lights on each no longer worked. Not totally surprising, but still worthy of a few minutes of creative swear word combinations and a brief episode of lying face down in the floor.

Not even an hour into this and I'm ready to quit. NO! It is Christmas - dammit - and we are going to be jolly. So I pull myself up, go turn on the iPod "Holiday" playlist, and move on to the next step.

Step Two: Set up all the other junk. Since we couldn't decorate the tree without working lights, I decided the next thing we should do is get out the rest of the holiday paraphernalia I have collected through the years. Since it is our first Christmas in this house, finding a place for everything would require a bit of trial and error. We have all of the same furniture, so it was actually easier than I anticipated. It still took HOURS, and other than a brief meltdown related to an unfortunate glass ornament situation, this part went well.

Step Three: Venture out to get replacement lights and "a few other things" I added to the list throughout the day. Since I managed to cover all but three square inches of the kitchen counter with packing paper and Christmas totes, we decided to go out for dinner. I made it abundantly clear before we left the house that we were going to get the things we needed while we were out because "it won't kill you all to be in Michael's for 15 (or 45) minutes so I don't have to get back out so please just deal with it".

Since Charming was with us, I realized we were in danger of walking out with all sorts of things we don't need. "Kids, keep an eye on Dad." (No, really.) He wandered through the aisles of model cars and planes and 3000 piece puzzles, but the only "extra" he managed to sneak in the cart was a box of Sweet Tart flavored candy canes.

Michael's didn't have everything on my list, OF COURSE, so I was going to need to go to Target. I knew that was asking a bit much, so I took Dimples and Charming back home so Tink and I could finish shopping in peace. We found everything else we needed and returned home. Starbucks in hand...I was finishing this TONIGHT.

Step Four: For the love of God and all things holy, are we ever going to finish this?! We managed to get lights on most of the branches and the decorations on the trees. I lovingly hung the garland from the staircase. "Don't scratch up the banister!", Charming yells from across the room. "What's that? You don't think I should scratch up the banister we JUST had refinished? Really? You are such a killjoy." (I've chosen to edit how I really responded.) We cleaned up all of the empty bins and turned out the lights to admire the Christmas wonderland we had created.

It was midnight. We started at 10 a.m. Fourteen straight hours of decorating. But in the midst of headless Wise Men, broken ornaments, and pre-lit trees that no longer light up, the magic of Christmas started to reappear through the eyes of my kids.

And then I started to see it, too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My First Born and Why I Think I May Have Birthed an Alien

My daughter is 11. Since she was very young I have been stupefied that I share even an ounce of genetic makeup with this child. If she didn't strongly resemble my likeness, or so I'm told, I would question whether or not we might have our own "switched at birth" story in the making. Polar opposites are we.

Her (as it pertains to sleep): Alarm goes off. Oh! It's time to get up! Let's get this day started. I shall first make my bed to perfection (to be addressed further in just a moment). Then I will fix my hair, brush my teeth, and go bounding downstairs to greet everyone I see with a smile. Happy, Happy Day! If I happen to get sleepy later, I'll power through. There's so much to be done on this fine day and napping is for quitters.

Me (as it pertains to sleep): Alarm goes off. Shit. It's morning already? Didn't I just go to sleep like 7 hours ago? Snooze. 4 times. Great. Now I'm running late. I haven't had any coffee yet so everyone is going to need to keep their voices on...silent. I already need a nap later. Bedtime in T-16 hours.

Her (as it pertains to getting things done): I only have 3 weeks until this assignment is due! I must complete it within the next hour. Also, in anticipation of possible upcoming projects, I shall research everything and write a report. Just in case. What? It is already August?! I must pick out my Halloween costume ASAP. We should probably have it overnighted.

Me (as it pertains to getting things done): Our flight isn't until tomorrow. I have plenty of time to pack. I'll stay up all night to do laundry as it appears that 6 of the 7 outfits I planned to take are dirty. Nevermind that we booked this trip three months ago. As long as it gets done, right? What do you mean what's for dinner? It's only 4:30. Why would you assume I know the answer to that?

Her (as it pertains to neatness): Please don't ask to help me make my bed. If this throw pillow isn't at the exact right angle, I will need to rip the whole thing apart and start over. Don't mess this up for me. That stuffed animal is supposed to go on the LEFT for crying out loud! Just let me do it. I think there is clutter on the kitchen counter - you should go address that.

Me (as it pertains to neatness): Okay, the bed thing she came by honestly. I have this thing about throw pillow placement perfection. And vacuuming (when I get around to it) in straight lines. We all have our quirks, okay? But, other than that, I can handle a little bit of untidy. I [shamefully] admit that some days I only straighten up so as not to be reprimanded by my tween when she arrives home from school.

Her (as it pertains to all things crafty): I want to learn how to sew. And bake. And scrapbook. And do every kind of hair braid and/or style ever invented. I will learn how to do all of these things through books and the Internet (since my mother is obviously going to be of no help). And I will be fabulous at it. I love Pinterest!

Me (as it pertains to all things crafty): Is this going to require a lot of ingredients? Like do I need to go to the store? The baking aisle makes me panicky. You mean to tell me I need hot glue? Don't you need a license to use one of those gun things? How am I supposed to do this hairstyle when I don't have 4 hands? Do we even OWN a needle and thread? I'm pretty sure the dry cleaner's will sew that button back on for a minimal charge. Pinterest sucks.

I'm told that we are nearing the age that I will be able to do nothing right and she will be able to do everything flawlessly. Unfortunately, in all likelihood, that might be true in many cases. But, I couldn't be more proud.  (Of HER, of course.)

Monday, November 19, 2012


Lots of things change when you become a mother. I'm not just talking about the lack of sleep or the fact that you must pack a small arsenal of household items before making a quick (Ha!) trip to the grocery store. I'm not talking about how your jeans don't fit right anymore or how you can no longer go out to dinner without paying a babysitter twice what said dinner costs just so you can have a conversation with your spouse without being interrupted 500 times or having to speak in code.

Before I was a mother, I could walk from one room to another and know exactly why I was there. I didn't put the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the refrigerator. I didn't have to hang up my phone so I could go look phone. I made complete sentences and they usually made sense. My brain cells (most of them anyway) worked as a team.

Before I was a mother, I grabbed my purse and walked out the door. I didn't need to go through the weekday morning drill that includes, "Do you have your lunch box, backpack, show and tell, book report, homework? Why are your shoes on the wrong feet? Did you brush your teeth? I think your shirt is on backwards. We'll try to remember to brush your hair tomorrow. Let me get the peanut butter off your forehead."

Before I was a mother, I slept when I felt like it. I didn't have to worry that if I shut my eyes for 15 minutes, I would risk someone getting into the cleaning products under the sink, or using markers on the walls, or drowning in the toilet.

Before I was a mother, I could watch television shows and movies without crying. I never cried. I once watched Steel Magnolias with a friend without shedding a tear. "Do you have no SOUL?", she asked. "Of course I do! I just don't cry. I'm IN CONTROL." But now my emotions are what I'd describe as unstable (at best) and I am no longer "IN CONTROL". The joke's on me. I find myself getting weepy over Sarah McLachlan songs and Hallmark commercials. Toy Story...forget about it. It's freakin' ridiculous.

Before I was a mother, I didn't care about another person's meal schedule, poop frequency (the fact that this is necessary is still mind-blowing to me), or snot color. I had never been peed on, pooped on, or vomited on. Neither had I cleaned any of those things out of the carpet.

Before I was a mother, if I was too tired to cook, I'd take a nap and then order take-out - regardless of how late it was. I didn't worry about balanced meals, and bath time, and bedtime stories, and tucking in, and goodnight kisses on the forehead.

Before I was a mother...
I had no idea what I was missing.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thank you, and you, and you.

Hey, you guys!

I have fallen behind on my postings. It has been a busy week and I will try to do better next week, as it is sure to be less eventful. Well, minus the Thanksgiving day thing. The kids are out of school ALL WEEK, so there is sure to be some good material just waiting to happen.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I feel like now is a more than appropriate time to extend my blogging gratitude. 

It's been almost exactly two months since I started this venture, and what a ride it has been. I honestly love it more than I could have imagined. I want to send out a genuine and humble "Thank you!" to all of my readers. Whether you have read one post or all of them, knowing that anyone tunes in besides my mom and mother-in-law (HI!) makes my heart smile. I am IN NO WAY qualified to be a "real writer", but the blogosphere has allowed me an opportunity to share anyway - misspellings, bad grammar, swear words and all. Although I firmly believe that the internet is ruining the world, I am immensely thankful for its existence at this very moment and that I am able to have my own tiny corner of it. Writing has become a creative outlet, a social outlet, and a great excuse to let the laundry pile get bigger and pour myself another cup of coffee (or wine - you know, depending on time of day).

A very exciting thing that happened this week was that I have been accepted into a blogging group called "Blogging While Mom". I'm not exactly sure what this means, and it is probably WAY less of a big deal than I am making it out to be, but I am going to assume that it is good and use it as an affirmation that my writing doesn't totally stink it up. I think my favorite thing about blogging is that there is a HUGE network of other mom bloggers. I've made contact with a few of them and they are friendly, helpful, funny, intelligent, REAL people. I'm going to share some of them with you later this week so keep an eye out.

Getting the word out about my blog is an ongoing project. Truth be told, I'm totally inept when it comes to social media. I have a Facebook account, but I have been told by a few other bloggers that I might want to join Twitter. So I did. I have yet to tweet anything because it confuses me, what with all the @'s and #'s. Sometimes the internet makes me feel dumb. Anyway, follow me here and I'll work on not being such a tweediot.

While writing is in no way, shape, or form profitable - as a matter of fact, it is in some ways a monetary drain as I seem to get even LESS done around here than before - I'm going to keep at it because it is my escape from being "just a mom" (I just love it when people say that. Kind of makes me want to give them a hug. With a noose. Okay, sorry - that was kind of violent.) So again - thanks, readers for helping make it happen!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Easy-Bake My Ass

Well, it's that time of year again. Toy catalogs are arriving in abundance and Kay Jewelers is clogging up my precious grown-up TV time. Every kiss begins with you turning off that nauseating commercial.

I digress.

Tink and Dimples have compiled their Christmas lists. This activity entailed sitting down at the computer with pen and paper and dutifully studying toy websites (and for the season's must-haves (aka most expensive). I have glanced at their lists but have not yet studied them in depth. I have total confidence, though, that upon closer examination there will be at least one item on each of them that is a piece of crap, for lack of a better description.

We have fortunately moved past the days of wanting every.single.toy. advertised on television. One year I actually threatened to unplug all the TV's in our house until after Christmas if I heard "I want THAT!" one more time. But let's be honest - who is really being punished in that scenario? Now their selections mostly include things they've seen at friends' houses. And a wide selection of video games.

However, those days are not far behind us and I remember them well. There are a few toys that once graced the shelves of our toy closet that bore a special brand of hatred in my soul. The kind reserved for mosquitoes and violent criminals. I will share them with you now.

  • Moon Sand. I do not understand how this stuff won awards. Perhaps we got a defective batch, but I refuse to give it a rating any higher than craptacular. Its slogan is "Sand You Can Mold!" Newsflash: You can mold all sand. But, if you play with that shit in the house it is going to make a big freaking mess and you will be vacuuming it out of your carpet until you are put into the nursing home. I read the FAQ's on this stuff and there is a paragraph that says - and I quote - "Never let Moon Sand come in contact with detergent as it will remove the coating and render it into REGULAR SAND." Detergent is fancy for soap. So don't wash your hands before you play with it. And don't wash the surface on which it is going to be played with. Then it goes on to say, "When using Moon Sand indoors, it is best to play on a plastic sheet or mat placed over top of carpeting or tile. Hardwood flooring may become slippery with Moon Sand and therefore, is not recommended." In other words, don't let it touch any indoor surface. Reserve gifting this toy to the children of people you dislike. If your child receives it, you'll know where you stand.
  •  Bratz dolls. Some people may disagree with me here, and that's cool. Personal preference and all. I'm not one of those moms that holds some moral opposition to Barbie and the like because of its less than healthy portrayal of the female body. Whatever. She's got a killer wardrobe and awesome hair. But the whole premise of these little Bratz snots makes my skin crawl. I would prefer my daughter not admire a doll named for a person who by definition is : n. A child, especially a spoiled or ill-mannered one. Their catch phrase is "The Bratz are all about rockin' the hottest fashion trendz with their friends... and some serious attitude!" Yeah. Girls (no matter what age) don't need any encouragement in the attitude rocking department. And let's throw in a bad spelling lesson to boot. 
  • Easy Bake Oven. Possibly my most despised toy to date. Most moms I know relish the day their little girl gets her first EBO and spending an afternoon together in the kitchen creating tasty treats. WITH A LIGHT BULB. I did not get the memo that I was supposed to be super excited about this. Tink loved this toy. And it was because of her love for it that I allowed it to remain in our house for as long as it did. I would plead with her to "Let's just cook in the real oven! I'll let you crack the eggs and stir the batter and scoop the cookie dough! Way better!" No dice. We were cooking in a plastic box WITH A LIGHT BULB and miniature kitchen utensils. If you are not lucky enough to be familiar with how the EBO works, I'll break it down for you as simply as possible.
  1. Plug in your EBO. Let it "pre-heat" for at least 20 minutes. You are going to be cooking WITH A LIGHT BULB so it needs to reach maximum heat output. Heaven help you if you accidentally touch it. You might want to go ahead and get out the aloe. And pour yourself a drink right NOW.
  2. Open the package of delicious cookie or cake mix that cost you $5.99. Do not think about the fact that you could purchase all of the ingredients for a full-size cake for a fraction of that. 
  3. Pour the mix into your tiny mixing bowl. Add one TEASPOON (yes, teaspoon) of water. Stir. This will be either way too little or way too much. If it is too little, add a DROP - literally - no more, no less - of water until it reaches the right consistency. If you accidentally add too much, you are screwed so open another package of $5.99 mix. You are likely finished with your first drink by now, so go ahead and pour another. Don't feel bad about it. Just do it.
  4.  When you've finally achieved a consistency that appears as it would result in a dessert of some sort, either shape it into tiny cookies or pour it into the tiny cake pan that came with the EBO. Then use the weird handle/stick/pusher thing to insert the pan into the side slot, as there is no oven door. Allow confection to cook for approximately 10-12 minutes.
This baking extravaganza will yield you either 4 quarter size cookies or a half dozen dime-sized cupcakes, some quality mother-daughter time (minus a little swearing), and a slight buzz.

Hey, maybe it's not that bad after all.

**Note: I have heard that the new model of the EBO no longer requires a light bulb. Not sure what the toy geniuses used to replace that innovative cooking component, but I only have one thing to say to all of you that don't have to fool with changing such when it burned out: you lucky bastards.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Smart Phone is Making Me Stupid

When I was in college, I would leave my parents' house and drive 3 1/2 hours back to school with no communication. I would call from a LAND LINE when I arrived at my destination. My "mobile phone" was the size of a carry-on suitcase and was to be used for "emergencies only", as the going rate per-minute was somewhere between arm, leg and your first-born.

Technology improved.

Five years ago I had a silver Nokia flip phone. With it, I had the ability to make or receive calls, text (if I need the letter 's' I had to push the '7' key four times), and take pictures. They were slightly higher quality than an Atari video game screen, but they were pictures nonetheless. I still have it sitting in a drawer around here somewhere. I'm sure if I powered it up, it would be fully charged even though it hasn't seen an electrical outlet in half a decade. It never dropped calls. When it closed, the keypad was covered, so I never butt-dialed anyone. I'm convinced I could have dropped that sucker from the top of the Empire State Building and it would have remained in one piece. Oh, Nokia. You kicked cell phone ass. 

Technology improved some more.

I didn't WANT a phone that had more features, but the snickering and whispers I would hear (from my husband) about my beloved flip phone finally got to me so I caved. My first step up was a Blackberry. I held on to that for about 2 years. Or however long it took for me to be eligible for an upgrade because cell service providers are criminals.

One day I went to Best Buy to see if they could fix a small problem I was having with it.

"You know you're eligible for an upgrade, right?"

I was eligible for the iPhone. Cue the Heavenly choir. Even though I SWORE I would not succumb to its evils, the iPhone and its magical powers got the best of me. I couldn't resist the lure of having all of those apps and the internet and a touch screen right at my fingertips. I was intoxicated by technology and I bought it on the spot.

I think I spent the next 6 hours with my face buried in it. Texting, Facebook, email, the internet, Words with Friends, Pinterest, iTunes, calendars, alarm clocks, reminders, Netflix, GPS, up-to-date weather, Pandora, etc., etc., etc. They were all available to me with the simple swipe of a finger.

This phone is ruining my life. I'm sure of it. The act of mindlessly looking at it has evolved into a nervous tick. That is the only explanation for why it happens at such a high frequency. I catch myself doing when you look at your watch 5 times in a row and still don't know what time it is. I don't even know what it is I'm looking at. Nothing interesting is happening on Facebook. I should know - I've looked at it 30 times in the last 10 minutes. I'm so frustrated with Pinterest that I only look at the "funnies", but everyone is just pinning the same things over and over and over. Stop telling me to 'Keep Calm' about everything for crying out loud. And I've been waiting 7 whole minutes for Smartypants123 to play me back in Words With Friends. My mind is turning to mush and I'm letting it happen.

I won't deny that smartphones are an amazing technology. Because they are amaaaaaazing. Like Sci-Fi amazing. But I hate that If I leave my house without my phone, I'm as good as headless. I should probably seek out some sort of support group. I'm sure they exist.

I'm anxious (and a little terrified) of what technological advancements the next 10 years will bring. So I think maybe I'll stay right where I'm at with cell phone technology. It can't get better than what we already have. Can it?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Man's Best Friend

We have two dogs. One of them is a shih-tzu/poodle mix - I believe they call them "designer dogs" these days. The other is a rescue - we think a mix of shepherd and heeler and who knows what else. So, basically they're both mutts.

They do stupid and annoying things on a routine (pretty much daily) basis. If the little one (Oliver) makes his last trip out to the bathroom before 10 p.m., there is at least a 75% chance that he's going to poop somewhere in the house during the night. The middle of the living room floor seems to be his preferred dumping ground (pun intended). If he's being especially generous, he'll leave a second pile for me in the middle of the entry way rug. He's giving that way. He is also obsessed with chasing balls. We have to hold him down when the children are playing with one in the backyard or he will steal it and run. "Sharing is caring" is not a motto he has chosen to live by.

When we first got the big one (Autumn) a little over a year ago from a local rescue group, she went through quite an adjustment period (as did we) getting used to her new family. She would panic and destroy things when we left her alone. Expensive things. Like Nikon cameras and PlayStation remote controls (I'm still trying to shake those two things off). It took a few months, but she finally chilled out and is one of the most loving dogs I've ever been around. Now she just rearranges throw pillows while we are out. She collects them from the couches, the chairs, and the beds, and puts them in the middle of the living room floor. There's also a stuffed animal she seems to fancy that belongs to Dimples - a monkey (one of those Build-a-Bear things) - that I have found twice in the living room floor with his clothes removed. She did, after all, come with some baggage.

They bark when the doorbell rings, they dig holes in the flower beds, they get muddy, they climb on the furniture, and they chew holes in our dirty socks. They have to be bathed, and groomed, and boarded when we go out of town. They need shots and heartworm medicine and pills to ensure they don't get fleas. THEY ARE REAL PAINS IN THE ASS.

I found myself feeling especially discouraged about the human race after hearing and reading a barrage of negative comments over the past few days regarding the election. I came home from running errands and they met me at the door with "smiles" on their faces and tails merrily wagging. They didn't care if I'd been gone two weeks or two hours. Nothing could have made them happier at that moment than me walking through the door. It's really hard not to cheer up - at least a little - when you've got your own personal welcoming committee every time you enter the house.

I complain about our dogs and their antics regularly. But yesterday I thought about some of the things that make them (and pets in general) kind of awesome.

1. They eat out of metal bowls on the floor and I scoop their food (that I don't have to cook) out of a plastic bin that we keep in the garage.
2. If I yell at them they don't yell back. Or cry. Or roll their eyes. Or say "whatever".
3. I never have to get out the broom when I drop food on the floor. And they have yet to complain about what I made for dinner.
4. If they are getting on my nerves, I can put them in the backyard all day long and no one will report me to the authorities.


5. They don't give a shit who is President.

You mean to tell me that YOU'RE not President?!?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Skinny Shminny

I'm pretty average. I'm not skinny, I'm not overweight. I'm "softer" than I used to be, but so it goes when you hit 30 something and your metabolism suddenly decides to go on permanent vacation. I've always been moderately active, but I've noticed that it takes a lot more effort to work off Halloween and Thanksgiving (and all the days in between) than it did when I was 25.

I see all of these ridiculous boards on Pinterest (don't worry - I'm not about to go on another Pinterest rant) about fitness and workouts and basically how being skinny makes you pretty. They are usually paired with a picture of some woman's abs or her borderline manly biceps. They annoy me and I personally feel that they send a terrible message about body image and societal expectations. If you don't fit a certain mold you are clearly substandard. Blech.

A few years ago Kate Moss was quoted, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels". I'm not "skinny", so I don't guess I really know if it's true. I've tasted pizza and I'm pretty sure I could go head to head with her in a debate over that opinion. Of course I'd have sustenance on my side since I would have eaten in the last week. Anyway, I see that quote everywhere these days. And it pisses me off. I actually came across a picture of a CHILD wearing a t-shirt with that printed on it. Future eating disorder, anyone?

I'm all for fitness and health. I don't think it's appropriate to feed my children McDonald's every day. I think it is important to teach them to be active and that rotting their brains out on television and video games all day is a bad idea. But, I want them to do it for health reasons...not for fear of being called "fat". 

I have come to the realization over the last couple of years that I should probably adjust my expectation of what "fitness" means to me. It used to be a number on a scale or a jeans size. Sometimes I let it bother me that I don't look like I did when I first got married or that those "pre-pregnancy" jeans I've let hang in the closet all these years really should find another home. It has been 7 1/2 years since I last gave birth. Baby weight is really no longer a valid excuse (dammit). It is time. 

As much as I'd love to have my 20-something body back, I think I'd be better off looking at eating right and staying active as a means to stay healthy rather than to meet someone else's expectations of "beautiful".

I have therefore compiled a short list of the top reasons I'll never be "skinny".

1. Pizza. Or any other food made of cheese and bread.
2. I am incredibly persuasive. I can talk myself out of going to the gym any time I want.
3. Coffee, beer, wine, and a wide variety of other high-calorie beverages that I feel increase my quality of life.
4. Cupcakes. Even though they are made of the same ingredients as actual cake, they are cuter and therefore irresistible.
5. I am an omnivore. And I lean heavily towards the meat-eater side of that classification. We are at the top of the food chain, people. Make the most of it.
6. Ranch dressing. It is unnecessary to elaborate.
7. I love fruit. I love it more when it is inside of a baked good or accompanied by cream cheese.
8. I'm from Texas. The land of plenty when it comes to Tex-Mex. Chips and salsa, baby. 
9. Carbs. 
10. Stretchy pants. Thank you, God, for stretchy pants.

I can honestly say I'm not willing to give these things up. Not completely, anyway. Moderation...yeah. Moderation is key. I'm not willing to sustain SOLELY on lettuce and whole grains and other tasteless fare. Or spend every minute of my spare time at the gym (because that would suck). I will not ever be a Kate Moss. And I'm totally okay with that.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Technologically Dependent

We've all seen the devastation that hurricane Sandy has done to the East Coast. People have lost their homes, all of their possessions...everything. It is absolutely heartbreaking. Many that still have homes are left without power or running water. People are stuck inside with young children and no television. Or internet access. Yikes. I'm making light of a very serious matter here - not because I don't recognize the urgency of the situation, but because I know I would be a certified loon if I were faced with that nightmare. It has reminded me of what I was like when we were going to be without technology for a couple of days. It is pathetic and embarrassing...and true.

When we were in the process of moving to California almost exactly a year ago, the kids and I stayed behind to close up shop in Utah after Charming started his new position. We had been through this before, so I knew what to expect with the relocation company, packers, loaders, and movers, and all the other crap that goes with it. Simply put, it's a giant pain in the ass.

The packers are usually men. Which I think is weird. Men are not always the should I put this...meticulous. I've seen Charming pack a suitcase. I don't want him packing up our crystal. These packer guys will put whatever is in a general area in the same box. They will use a shit ton of packing paper to protect it, but there is NO discretion when it comes to categorizing. I found my silverware in the same box as some stuff from one of our bookcases (that was NOT located in the kitchen). I have yet to figure that out.

The day the packers come, you had better be good and ready. Anything and everything in your house WILL BE PUT IN A BOX. If you don't want it to go, you had better get it out of sight. I had an area designated for stuff that was not to be packed, and they were good about leaving it alone. I accidentally left some stuff on the counter that I didn't want packed - snacks, paper towels, plastic silverware - to get us through the next few days. I told them not to pack it, but I turned my back and it ended up in a box. Oh, well. Easily replaced.

The loaders come the next day. Also a group of men. Which I understand - heavy lifting and all. They operate the same way. If you don't want something loaded on the truck, you sure as hell better not have it anywhere in sight. They move like tornadoes. You leave the room for 5 minutes, come back and it's empty. No joke.

The day the loaders came, the kids were at school and I was tying up all the loose ends from moving - turning off utilities, getting school records sent over, etc. At one point while they were there, I had to leave to go to the store. I had packed a big Rubbermaid box of electronics to keep the kids entertained for our 12 hour drive to California. We lost the remote control to the DVD player in my car (and it won't work without the remote - major design flaw in my opinion), so they each had a mini DVD player and some movies, their handheld video game thingies (with games), some books, and Tink got an e-reader for Christmas that she wanted to take. I'd say there was easily $500 worth of technology in this container. When I left to go to the store I took one of the loaders aside and said, "See this box? This box is NOT to be packed. Please. It is very important that it remain IN THIS HOUSE. I have to run an errand. I will be back in 15 minutes."

"Yes, ma'am. No problem."

So, I leave. I'm feeling good about how things are going, but I decide not to lollygag and I return in a timely manner. I walk around the house to survey how things are progressing and...what the?

"Where's my box? The box I asked you not to pack. It was right there. Now it's gone."

Everyone is moving around me like they don't hear me. I pull the loader guy aside that I spoke to before I left.

Me: "Where's that box I asked you not to pack?'

Loader Guy: "Uhhhhh....."

Me: "Please tell me you didn't pack it."

Loader Guy: "Uhhhhh...."

My eyes get big and googly. The other loaders are still working, but they soon start gathering around because they begin to realize that the lady that lives here is about to LOSE HER SHIT.

Me: "Are you kidding me? I have to be in the car FOR 12 HOURS with TWO CHILDREN and you packed the box of entertainment WHEN I SPECIFICALLY ASKED YOU NOT TO AND WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW AREYOUTRYINGTORUINMYLIFE???"

I asked the guys if they knew where it was on the truck.

Me: "Can you see it? Can you reach it? I was gone 15 minutes. It can't be that far back."

Head Loader Guy: "Yeah. It's waaaaay back there. It'd put us back at least 3 hours to get it out and put everything back."

Me: "Three hours?!? That makes no sense. It took you 15 minutes to get it on there along with all this other crap."

An uncomfortable period of time of staring at each other commenced.

Me: "Fine. Forget it."

Then I start walking around yelling to myself and waving my arms crazily about while they stood there watching me. Oh, and I was doing the ugly cry by now. Not one of my finer moments. But in my defense, on top of being exhausted from getting things ready for the move and handling most of the process alone, I was an emotional wreck. I'd said most of my good-bye's at this point and I was doing good to go half an hour without bursting out in tears. This event simply pushed me over the edge. Thank God the kids were at school and didn't have to witness their mother go balls-to-the-wall insane.

We made it to California just fine without the box. No one lost their mind and we did a lot of talking and singing and playing car games. And A LOT of talking. Plus Charming brought his iPad that he had taken with him to California (I forgot about that!). Big help. Because neither of the children slept ONE MINUTE the entire way. So we talked a lot. Did I mention we did a lot of talking?

All this being said, my heart goes out to everyone who was effected by Sandy. Especially those who lost everything, but also the ones who are just trying to get their toddler to understand why they can't watch 'Max and Ruby' again today.  It kind of makes me want to punch myself for whining about...well, anything.

Count your blessings. Then count them again. 

If you'd like to donate to victims of Sandy or other disaster relief causes, click here.