Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Hereby Sentence Myself To The Naughty List

Why can't I prepare for Christmas in November? WHY??? Why do I wait until the last minute and make the few days before the holiday so stressful and crazy that I can't even enjoy them?

I currently have several days worth of goo on my kitchen floor from...
Attempts at making gingerbread men by my kids and their cousins
My mother making her shoes glittery. (Don't ask)
Me making rolls, then coffee cake, then tacos.

I have 60 Christmas cards sitting out on the ottoman that need to be stuffed, addressed, stamped, and hauled likitysplit to the post office in hopes that at least a few might arrive before New Years.

There are 18 loads of laundry to be done; 4 from our trip and 14 from my kids, who decided to spill on every pair of pants and every shirt they own while we were gone.

I still haven't bought gifts for my husband or children (but at least the relatives' gifts got bought, wrapped, and carried by hand to all the out-of-state relatives by my brother and SIL who just left from visiting us. THANK YOU for saving my butt on that one, Guys).

I still need to make neighbor gifts (candied cinnamon almonds) and teacher gifts (handmade soap. And yes, I realize that school let out a full week ago and I'm not going to see any of my kids' teachers before Christmas, but my guilt at not making gifts because I was on a cruise is clouding my sense of logic on that one right now so we'll see how it all turns out after the soap is made).

And my cat has decided that the house would have a more festive air if she used her kitty litter pebbles as confetti.

Seriously, next year I am going to start doing all this stuff in November. November will be the new December, and my cut-off for making Christmas cards, buying presents, and making teacher/neighbor gifts will be Thanksgiving. Never mind that I'm utterly NOT in the mood for Christmas in early November and it offends my sense of proper holidays to skip ahead. Come hell or high water, I WILL ENJOY DECEMBER NEXT YEAR!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Here's A Big Hint

I wasn't able to post from our cruise about the sex of the baby. In fact, I wasn't able to get cell service OR internet service (well, for under $500 a minute) the whole time. I have to tell you, it was weird. Weird being so disconnected from the world. Weird not talking to anyone I knew but my husband for a week. Weird not reading facebook or checking emails or getting text messages. I felt like I was in the 20th century again, that grand old time when you could actually take a vacation without essentially bringing the entire world (especially your husband's office) with you. The upside is that I did manage to avoid a dozen or two phone calls from my mother (who was watching the kids) about where the lid to the food processor was, or how to make the DVD player work, or where the cookie cutters were, etc. etc. and so forth. But I also wasn't able to do any of the internet Christmas shopping I had intended to get done, and I wasn't able to browse baby stores to choose new furniture for the new nursery. And I sadly wasn't even able to do a tiny little post about the sex of the baby. So here is your big hint. If you know your classic nursery rhymes, it should be easy...

Sugar and Spice
And all things nice.

And can I just say I was SO surprised. And also that I actually started BAWLING in front of the ultrasound lady. Like sobbing big ugly I-can't-even-talk sobs. Because I was convinced I was having a boy, and I was convinced Daphne would never have a sister--the greatest blessing to every living woman . So that, mixed with the relief of not having up with a boy name and buy a bunch more red and blue clothes for the next 18 years, just brought the tears up. Big Daddy was crying too, I'll have you know. But I think he was crying out of excitement at getting to choose girly bedding. Ya, I think that was it.

Anyway, that's the news. Tune in soon for pictures and anecdotes from the Caribbean including how I sneezed and peed a little bit--with no underwear on (don't recommend it), how I accidentally got drunk--well, buzzed at least (not the best idea while pregnant), how I won an Alaskan Cruise while on my cruise to Grand Cayman, and how I outwitted a Jamaican con man by eating poisonous fruit. Good times!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No Death Threats, Please. (Parentheses Version)




I hate it when I don't have any completed blog drafts saved. It results in 9 days with no posts, especially when it's early December and I have bajillion things to do. Like making neighbor treats, and going to kids' concerts, and decorating the house, and putting up the lights (which should not take all frakin day, but does. Why does going through the light strings take so long???), cleaning in preparation for my mother coming to visit. Oh, and PACKING FOR MY CRUISE!!!

Yes, it's true. We (meaning me and Big Daddy, NOT our children--we're not CRAZY) decided to skip out on all the excitement, joy, caroling, food, (snow, cold, wind, hectic shopping, and bad holiday traffic) and fly south for (a tiny portion of) the winter. Specifically Jamaica and Grand Cayman.

CAN I JUST TELL YOU HOW EXCITED I AM???
I am already dreaming at night about (virgin) piƱa coladas by the pool (which I won't swim in because it's SEA WATER, EW) in my adorable (maternity) polka dot tankini with my (not so adorable) belly hanging out. At least I'm (artificially) tan. Plus, I will be able to stuff my face silly...GUILT FREE. I'm sure taking a cruise while pregnant is the best idea I've ever had. (Not finishing my Christmas shopping before leaving? Probably the worst idea I've ever had. But those dang light strings!)

Anyway, I'm sorry to have to leave you all behind. I'd offer to hide someone in my suitcase, but those extra suitcases cost $35 extra now (such a racket!!), so forget it! But as a sort of make-up gift (i.e. incentive to read about my tropical adventures while you shiver in your freezing cold arctic winter) I will be making an announcement from somewhere on my trip on what gender ) my baby is. I find out today. Tune in soon! (Or you might NEVER find out what I'm having. ) (Well, at least for another five months.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shopping Elf (or Christmas Miracle) Needed. Apply Within.

Every year it turns December and I get really excited.

Excited to put up the tree. Slightly less excited about putting up the outdoor lights because it's always buttfreezingcold by December and putting up the outdoor lights takes FOREVER. But I do like it when they're done and my house looks so cheery all lit up.

Excited about making and receiving holiday treats for/from my neighbors.

Excited when the first Christmas card arrives in the mail. It's the only time of year I actually look forward to getting the mail.

Excited about doing holiday traditions with my kids, like breaking out the Christmas cookie cutters and decorating sugar cookies, opening a window of their Advent's Calendar so they can eat the chocolate each morning, lighting the candles on my German candle pyramid so the characters turn and dance while we watch, and waiting for a good snow so we can build a snowman or make snow angels.

But THEN I get hit with panic.

Panic that I haven't made/ordered/bought my own Christmas cards yet. Panic that I don't know if I want to make them or buy them in a store or order them online or make my husband design me some. Panic that I don't know if I want them to be edgy or cute or religious or if I want the picture to be separate or preprinted. Panic that I won't get them done and mailed by Christmas. Panic that I have no idea where I put my address book so I can address my nonexistent Christmas cards. Panic that I won't have enough stamps and I'll have to wait in line at the post office DURING DECEMBER to get more stamps or that I'll have to break down and get those horrible, generic, non-holiday ones from the automated machine that are of antique cars or famous librarians.

And then even worse panic hits when I realize I haven't bought a single, solitary Christmas present yet and NOW IT'S DECEMBER and the stores will be packed with people and I'll have to park way at the back of the parking lot and walk through arctic weather with a gigantic down jacket and gloves on so I don't freeze solid between my car and the store and then I'll have to tote that huge jacket around the burning hot stores with me because I was too wussie to leave it in the car and sprint through the snow and then I'll have to battle my way through crowded aisles to try to find presents for people that I have no idea how to shop for and I'll end up getting the wrong thing, or worse, gift cards that make me feel like I'm a total slacker and have walked so far and carried my coat around the store for nothing and then I wonder will I even be able to get the presents and gift cards in the mail in time for them to get there before Christmas because I'm pretty sure I have no shipping boxes and no wrapping paper and definitely no tape or sharp scissors and I'll end up having to wrap them in bubble wrap and newspaper and tape them with duct tape and hope they make it in one piece.

Sigh...


IS IT JANUARY YET???

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My, Aren't We Groovy?!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

10 Ways To Lose Your Tip

I went to dinner the other night. Granted, it wasn't a five star restaurant. It was maybe a 2 star restaurant if I'm lucky. But still, after waiting tables from Detroit to San Diego over the course of 9 years, I formed a few opinions about waiting tables. And one of them was that you don't have to be serving $45 Filet Mignon to do a good job. If you work for tips, you should smile, give good service, and treat your customers like they're eating at The Ritz. Unless they don't serve food at the Ritz. Then forget that analogy.

Anyway, the waitress who served us made about every serving error I can think of. And my sweetheart of a husband still left her a 5-spot. But I thought I'd share my thoughts about waiting tables and losing tips when I'M paying the bill.

If you want a good tip...

10. Don't forget to greet me, ask how I'm doing, and introduce yourself when you come to my table. It's a small thing, but a basic friendly greeting isn't so hard to do. And giving your name so I can call it out later when you are royally screwing up is key too.

9. Keep my drink filled up. I think most people would agree that nothing irritates them more than having an empty drink glass. Whether it's water or pop, just keep it filled. And don't ask me. If you see it's nearly empty, and I'm not walking toward the front door yet, just bring me another drink! As quickly as this will lose you your tip, keeping on top of my drink will increase your tip.

8. Check back on me shortly after the food is delivered. Worse even than having an empty glass is sitting there with a hot steak and no silverware to cut it with, or no steak sauce, or no ranch for your fries, or your side dish being wrong, or your side dish being missing...AND THEN WAITING FOREVER for the server to show up. When I worked at Appleby's, a singular nightmare of a job, one good thing they did right was require a 2 minute check-back on your tables. Within 2 minutes of the food going down, whether you delivered it or someone else did, you checked to see if everything was OK. This is a must.

7. Don't make me look for you. If I need something throughout the meal, I would hope I could catch sight of you within 3-4 minutes. If I don't, I WILL flag down your manager or anther server to go hunt you down, and that will be an automatic tip deduction. (No lie, at dinner the other night, I had to get up FIVE times to go look for something the server should have brought me/the server herself/another person to help me. That server should have owed ME a tip!)

6. As much as this may sound contradictory considering my last two points, you don't need to ask me how everything is EVERY time you pass by. One check back at the beginning, and a few visual check backs, where you look and see if I'm glancing around for someone or not eating, is all you need until the meal looks like it's winding down. I do like my server to be visible and available, but I don't like to stop my conversation every 2 minutes to say, "Yes, everything is STILL fine." You know?

5. When you refill my drink, please bring me a new glass before taking my old one away. It makes me very uneasy when you take the glass I'm currently working on (leaving me with nothing while you're gone) and bring it back to me. How do I know you're not going to accidentally mix it up with a total stranger's while you're in the back??

4. And while I'm on the subject, take my empty glass away. And my empty plates. You should never leave the table side empty-handed. Clear something away with each trip, and when you see that we're done, don't leave the plates to go get the check; take them with you! It's nice to be able to have some clear space in front of you after you eat to lean your elbow on or set your purse on while you look for your money. This is especially true of a buffet style restaurant or one with a refillable salad bar. If I'm going for my second round of food, I better not find my same plate there when I get back.

3. Don't be afraid to apologize. And make things right if things go wrong. I know, as does anyone who's ever worked in a restaurant (or anyone with any common sense), that a lot of the mistakes that take place with food are not the server's fault. If the food is slow, it means the kitchen is backed up. If the steak isn't cooked right, I don't blame the waitress for overcooking it. And if I asked for no sauce but it showed up with sauce, I'll give the benefit of the doubt that she ordered it right but the kitchen screwed it up. But regardless of who is to blame, it's the server's place to apologize and make it right. If it's a minor thing, have it remade. Bring a free app for me to nibble on in the meantime. If it's a big screw up, bring over the manager, have him apologize, and make sure he adjusts the bill. In all my years working in restaurants, I've never once heard a manager say, "I can't believe we had to discount that check." But I've heard many complain about angry customers walking out because they weren't treated right. Comped food is cheap, lost customers cost a lot.

2. Room for Dessert? I may say no, I'm too full, but knowing me I chose your restaurant because of the desserts, not the food. So if you fail to ask me if I'd like to see a dessert menu, you're not only losing out on a potential ticket increase, but potential tip too.

1. Check, please! Other than the frustrations of an empty drink glass or a wrong food order, waiting for your check long after you've finished is up at the top. It's not so hard to print out the check as soon as the customers have started eating so it's ready to give them when they're done.


So those are my restaurant pet peeves. And honestly, avoiding them isn't that hard. Smile, be friendly, communicate about problems, keep up on drinks and dirty plates, and fix things when they go wrong and you should find yourself with a nice big tip at the end of the meal.

Unless you wait tables in Utah. In which case, I'm truly sorry for you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Storm of the Century

For those of you out of state, or those of you who didn't happen to watch the news last night, Utah battened down yesterday evening for the worst blizzard to hit the state in at least a decade. Some were predicting the worst winter storm in a century.

Schools closed early.

Universities called off evening classes.

Concerts were cancelled.

Hospitals postponed surgeries for another day.

Holiday travel plans were forfeited in lieu of staying safe.

There was a rush on emergency supplies like flashlights, batteries, and thermal blankets.

Grocery stores were flooded with people doing their Thanksgiving meal shopping a day early because, as the weather reports foretold, there would be so much snow on Wednesday that you would not be able to get to a store.

By 4pm yesterday evening, nearly the whole state, from top to bottom, had shut down and people could talk about nothing else.

So, for the enjoyment of all of those of you not able to look out your window and see it for yourself, I give you...

THE GREAT BLIZZARD OF 2010!!!
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Wait a minute. Let's try a close up to see if we can see that snow better.


Hmm.....maybe let's try the back yard instead.


Ummmm....uh.....no...WAIT! I see some! There on the wicker sofa!


Boy, I sure am glad all those weather guys went to meteorology school for all those years. But, hey, it is 13 degrees out, so maybe we should give them some credit?


Nah.

They're all fired. I hope.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Basket Case

I just cried at a Folgers commercial. A FOLGERS COFFEE COMMERCIAL!!! I'm a disgrace. I mean, this wasn't even a Hallmark commercial. Not even one of those touching AT&T ones where somebody calls their grandma on her birthday after she thinks everyone forgot. This was a commercial about a guy coming home from Africa for Christmas and bringing his sister a present, and she sticks the bow on him and says "You're my present this year" and then they drink coffee while I bawl like an idiotic baby. Over a coffee commercial. Nevermind the part where the guy smells the Folgers and says "Mmmmm, coffee!" like he never got coffee the whole time he was in Africa. Hello, coffee COMES FROM AFRICA. But did that stop me from turning into a sobbing mess? No. Because I'm a total freaking basket case.

Thanks, hormones. Thanks a lot.

Monday, November 15, 2010

McPhee Madness, Part 3

While scanning through saved drafts of posts I never published, I ran across this one: the final installation of McPhee Madness. McPhee Madness took place over a year ago when I came across a catalogue for McPhee gifts and novelties. With a slogan like "Slightly Less Disappointing Than Other Companies," I had to go to their website to see what they were all about. And what I found was...interesting, bizarre, gross, hilarious, and sometimes even disturbing. But mostly clever and hilarious. So here, only belated by 23 months, is the final installment of McPhee Madness, sharing some favorites from the McPhee catalogue.


1) I always thought toast was a boring breakfast item. Now I know I'm not alone.



2)Too chicken to get your own tattoos? Then tattoo your young daughters! And wear a shirt to brag about it.



3) There's a special class of nerdiness reserved for people who like to mix Greek history with fantasy play. You know--you sat next to him in homeroom. And here is the perfect present for that kid. Plus, it's been updated to the 21st Century with a black leather pants-suit for Medusa. Groovy.


4) Just tell me why-oh-why someone would want to wear this shirt!

5) Tired of all the squirrel johnsons hanging around your yard? No problem.


6) Um, this is just horrible and wrong! (And I know my son would absolutely LOVE it!)

7) Sacrilege or Sensational? It does have wheels in the feet for smooth gliding action and a list of biblical quotes on the back.


8) In case that Jesus Action Figure wasn't cool enough, they do make a deluxe version. And I had to quote their description: "There is no action figure more deserving of a deluxe edition than the Son of God. This 5-1/4'' tall, hard vinyl figure comes with eight amazing plastic accessories: five loaves of bread, two fish and a jug for turning water into wine (not guaranteed to work for real). Also features 'glow-in-the-dark miracle hands!'" Unfortunately, this version does pose a choking hazard, so not for disciples under 3.


9) Probably the weirdest and most disturbing item in the whole catalogue, is the baby(?) on the cover of their memoir book. I'm having nightmares already, and I'm still awake!


Well, that about does it. Feel free to go back and re-read my other McPhee Madness posts for more hilarity. Or just head on over to the McPhee website to start your Christmas shopping early. I guarantee they have something for that difficult-to-shop-for someone who has everything.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Me and My Boyfriend, Blogging Jones III

My relationship with Blogging goes something like this:

1. First Sight. Blogging Jones III and I met in 2008. I first noticed Blogging watching me from across the smokey room. He was cute. I felt excited, even a little elated at prospect of someone new and interesting in my otherwise mundane life. I felt curious. A little nervous. A little like I might want to throw up. But mostly curious and excited.

2. The Introduction. After that first glance, I started kind of keeping an eye on Blogging. We had some mutual friends, so he kept showing up at places that I went. Ya, Blogging was attractive. But I didn't really know him at all. Mostly all I knew was hearsay, what my friends told me. I decided I needed a way to get to know him better. So I asked a friend to introduce us.

3. Giving It A Go. It was clear from the start that Blogging Jones and I had some things in common. I had a feeling we could be friends. But could it be more? I wasn't sure what kind of a partner Blogging would make. Would he be fun? Demanding? Boring? Would he talk to much? Or not enough? Would he bring me around to meet his other friends? Or would our relationship be so exclusive that we would become solitary and lonely after a while? Despite all these worries, I decided the only way I would find out was to give Blogging a try. So we went on our first date.

3. MAJOR Infatuation. Blogging and I, as it quickly turned out, got along great. He was everything I hoped he would be and then some. He brought me joy. He introduced me to great friends. He was exciting. He got me to think and analyze. He encouraged me to take more pictures, to work on my creative writing, to communicate more. Overall, he was a really supportive, scintillating, thrilling new boyfriend. I'll admit it: I was madly in love.

4. The Real Thing. As all new relationships do, my relationship with Blogging Jones III soon reached a crossroads. For a lot of people, after the fire of infatuation dies down, they discover either that they really don't like the person they've been with, that he wasn't as cool as they first thought, and that their former passion just wasn't meant to last, OR their infatuation turns to warm, glowing embers, the perfect temperature to roast a marshmallow on. That's how it was with me and Blogging. The initial fire may have cooled down, but it had reached a nice comfortable place, a place of honesty and genuine caring. We were happy together.

5. The First Fight. I can't say that Blogging and I had a real knock-down, drag-out fight ever. But we kept having disagreements. About how much time to spend with each other mainly. Because, the truth was, he had become a little demanding after a while. Then we would fight about how I wasn't paying enough attention to him, or he wasn't paying enough attention to me. Some of our friends became jealous of the time we spent with each other, and that caused each of us stress. So the more demanding he became, and the more my friends complained, the more I began to withdraw. And soon the distance between us was palpable; things weren't all peachy keen anymore.

6. The Break-up. Once the signs of trouble in Paradise began to surface, I found myself avoiding Blogging a little bit. And his response? He began ignoring me back. And my response to that? I was hurt. And then mad. And then a little jealous when I looked around and saw all my friends enjoying great relationships like the one Blogging and I used to have. And then I decided the only way to protect myself was to become indifferent. So without really making any formal declarations, Blogging and I decided to take a break.

7. Reconciliation. It's true. I really did love Blogging. Nothing showed that to me faster than a little time apart. I realized how much I missed his attention, his wit, the way his positive attributes rubbed off on me, the way he brought out my good side, and the honesty we shared with each other. I knew we had to get back together. I just missed him too much! (And then we had a really good make-up session, Blogging Jones and I.)

8. The Carousel. Since our first fight, separation, and reconciliation, Blogging and I have had our ups and downs. Things have never gone back to the way they were at first. I guess they never do. You can never hold on to that giddy, head-over-heels feeling you have when you first meet and fall in love. But we still like each other a lot. We still spend time together when we can. We still value the things we give to each other and get from each other. The nostalgic part of me is probably keeping him around out of remembrance of the good times--man, there were some fun ones! And, I suppose, part of it is that we've never found anyone else to replace each other with. (Plus, I've become pretty good friends with some of his friends, and I wouldn't want to give THEM up). So we'll probably keep going like this for a while. I'll keep Blogging Jones III in my life as long as the relationship continues to be mutually beneficial.

Or until he cheats. Then he's DEAD MEAT.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Mouths Of Babes



Today Beck came up to me with a mini Halloween slinky he got in his trick or treat bag. He stretched it out in front of my face and said, "Let's see how big your head is, Mom."

He looked at the slinky as if it had measurements. I was curious to see what he'd decide to tell me. And then came the result:

"Wow! You're 14 dollars!"

That's a pretty big (expensive?) head.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thinking SwimSuit Season Yet?



I know, I know. It's November. 3/4 of a year away from swimsuit season. At least half a year away from spring break/I-might-go-somewhere-warm-where-I-might-need-a-swimsuit season. But if you wait until either of those two to look for a swimsuit you'll find A)high season prices and B)most likely the best selection is long gone.


Soooo....

I just got a 50% code for Hapari Swimwear. They make really cute, modest tankinis (Jr's sizes too, in case you have a tween/teen). I usually spend all summer lusting after them but not being willing to shell out full price. As of today, I THOUGHT AHEAD. Or shopped ahead, I guess, and got myself a cute tankini for next year. Bring on the spring break trip to Cancun!

Or maybe I'll have a baby. Whichever.




FYI, if you don't see the code on their home page, it's "fall50."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Honeyguide Bird and the Badger

In case you don't know, my preferred method for sugar intake is mixed with flour, butter, salt, eggs, usually chocolate, and then some amount of baking. Frosting is also usually involved.

I'm not much of a candy eater. Certainly not milk chocolate. I think there was a time when I preferred milk chocolate to dark. I think I recall being pissed off when I got a Special Dark in my Halloween bag. But somewhere along the lines, that changed. And milk chocolate became too intense for me. But even back in the days where I enjoyed it, candy just wasn't my thing. And chewy, sour, fruity candy wasn't even close to being on my favorite treat list.

So come Halloween, I would usually dump out my pillowcase full of candy, organize it into groups: candy bars, gum, fruity candy, candy with little pieces, suckers, etc., then further break it down by name, count it all up and write it down to compare to previous years, and then retreat to my room to eat a few choice pieces. Usually the Almond Joys and Mounds first. Then a Twix. Maybe some peanut M&M's. But by the next day I was pretty much over it.

My mother's great idea for sparing our teeth from weeks of eating sugar was to demand that all candy be consumed within 24 hours, and whatever wasn't would be confiscated. And despite the fact that I neither relished my candy nor intended to eat much of it past the first day, I am, by nature, a saver. Mostly out of panic of not having something later when I really want it. So I would find secret places to hide away most of my candy so that it couldn't be taken away. In shoes. In coat pockets. In jewelry boxes and Barbie car trunks.

And then I would forget all about it. Ya, I might run across a small stash now and then. I can't remember if I would eat any of it. I just know that keeping the candy was very satisfying to me. Eating it? Meh. Christmas was the same story. Easter? You guessed it. One time I got a giant 1 lb Hershey's Kiss from a friend for Valentine's Day. After a small nibble, it went on a shelf next to my knickknacks until it eventually went stale and got thrown away. Or so I thought... But more on that later.

My sister, who bunked downstairs from me, was cut out of quite a different cloth. Her love affair with candy was not the patient, bashful one mine was. It was passionate, voracious, and all-consuming. She usually DID eat all her candy within 24 hours. Halloween was her fondest dream, as far as I knew. And any opportunity to spend money was always, always spent on candy.

So flash forward to years later. About 25 years later. My sister, brother, mom, and our spouses were sitting around one night playing games and laughing over old times when my sister confessed to me that she would secretly sneak up to my room following each holiday and hunt around for candy. She knew of all my secret hide-outs (even my mom never bothered to look in my snow boots, but Jennie did). She scoured every corner. She unearthed all my stashes. And ATE THEM. Ate every piece. Remember that giant Hershey's Kiss on my shelf I thought had been thrown away? Eaten. Slowly. Once tiny slice at a time over a period of weeks. Carefully, so that I would never notice.

Well, I didn't notice. Not with the Kiss. Not with the Easter candy. Not with my Christmas stocking. And certainly not with my many stashes of Halloween candy. I guess I pretty much functioned as The Candy Store Upstairs. I just never cared about candy enough to notice. (You're welcome, Jennie). I think, really, we had a symbiotic relationship. Like those fish that follow sharks around and eat the slime off their gills. Or those birds who live on Rhinos' backs and eat all their fleas. We worked well together, even if I didn't know it at the time.

So what now? What am I going to do with my sister living a thousand miles away and all this extra candy around the house?

I think today I found the answer hiding behind the couch....




Perfect. At least until the next dentist visit.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Power of Many

I recently redecorated...or rather decorated (finally getting around to decorating here) my kitchen with a red and white theme. We finally, after 8 years of marriage, got a real dining room set. It's black and rather modern looking. And then I have accented my kitchen with red and white cushions for the chairs, red and white valances for the windows, and red and white dish towels and other accessories. But what I'm missing, what would really complete the look, is some red and white candlestick holders. I'd love a set of three. Varying heights. Red and white stripes would be perfect. Red and white polka dots would be very nice. But even some other pattern with bright red and white would probably work. But I can't seem to find any anywhere! Red? Yes. White? Yes. But red AND white, no! Not even with Christmas approaching.

That's where YOU come in. I know the power of the internet x the power of women x the power of shopping online = many many eyes all over the massive world of .com shopping who might just run across the perfect set of candlestick holders for me.

SO...if you do, please, pretty please, let me know? I might even persuade Santa to send a little sumpin extra your way.

THX!

Free! Free! Free!



Ok, Who wants something free???


Here are your choices:
1) a free 20-page 8x8 photo book with hard photo cover. (I have bought several of these. They're gorgeous and great for Christmas gifts to hard-to-buy-for relatives.)

2) 10 free 5x7 flat stationary cards or 10 free 5x7 folded greeting cards. (Time to start thinking about Christmas cards already!)

3) 101 4x6 prints (Need to run off pictures from that full memory card? Here's your chance to get 101 of those prints free!)

4) or $10 off an order at Shutterfly.com.

What's the catch? All you have to do is be my friend and be one of the first 5 people to request one of these freebies. It's Shutterfly's gift to me to give to my friends (FYI, if you're already a Shutterfly member, you can only get 10% off an order.) I have ordered several photobooks and custom designed photo calendars from them and they've all been beautiful. So anyway, if anyone would like one of these freebies, let me know!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Plundering Egypt

This was a fun Halloween. It's the first time that both kids "got it" and were looking forward to it for days ahead of time. It made it so much more exciting for us to have them excited. Daphne was especially excited about the prospect of dressing up as someone who died by self-inflicted cobra bite. (I'm not joking. She really thought that part was cool.) By Halloween day, the kids were counting down the hours until they could get their costumes on.

Since I only put the Halloween decorations up 3 days before, you can rightly guess that I never got around to carving the pumpkins. So just before we went out to get candy, I took a moment to carve one of the pumpkins. I felt like it would be some kind of holiday disgrace to not have a lit jack-o-lanturn on the porch. Like Christmas with no star on the tree. Like Easter with no Easter egg hunt. Like Thanksgiving with no giant nap! Anyway, while I was carving the one pumpkin, the kids took a moment to stab the other pumpkin to death. I think that was their favorite part of the day.




About the time we were mutilating pumpkins, it started pouring rain. It dumped for several hours leading up to Trick or Treating time. It was still sprinkling a bit as we headed out, though it cleared up after our first two houses. But the ground was still wet and puddley, so after a few houses, we had to come back and change Daphne's golden sandals into brown leather Mary Janes. Not very Egyptian. But very dry and warm.






The kids took the first shift of trick or treating with me while Big Daddy handed out candy. We hit the three culda sacs on our street, then down one side and up the other of the street our street comes off of. It actually wasn't as many houses as you'd think because about half the street was dark and not handing out candy (LOSERS! What's up with that??). Then we switched off--Big Daddy took the kids to the next street over while I handed out candy.

Aside from the soggy feet and Daphne's costume being soaked 4 inches up the hem by the end, it was a good night. And the loot was pretty decent.




Now to take down the Halloween decorations. Already. Sniff.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chewable Jewels






Anyone heard of these? They are chew toys for babies made into necklaces, bracelets, etc., that moms can wear and then let their babies gnaw to their hearts' content. They're meant to combine a mom's need for fashion with a baby's need to slobber all over her mother's pearls.

Crazy?

Brilliant?

Adorable?

Ugly?


What do you think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Cave

I am 12 weeks along today. And I feel like I am slowly coming out of a very dark, very awful cave. Slowly. There is light up ahead. I'm not quite there yet. But I can see the light and smell a bit of fresh air.

Today was a good day. I felt good, I had enough energy to clean the whole house. I even put up a few Halloween decorations. Ya, just a tad late on that. But between the morning sickness and the flu I had last week, I just haven't felt like doing anything. ANYTHING. Getting out of bed? Barely. Put on make-up? Only the bare minimum. Cleaning? Nope. Cooking? Definitely not. Blogging? Emailing? Online shopping? Reading? All the things I usually really enjoy? No, not even those. I swear, this pregnancy has just sucked the life right out of me. Well, all pregnancies, but this one most lately.

It's funny how when you're in the midst of morning sickness and fatigue and general ickiness you can't remember what it was like before and you don't realize how bad it really is. But once you start coming out of it, you realize just how bad your quality of life has been for the last 2 1/2 months. It's a little shocking.

So I apologize to everyone--my few faithful readers, my kids, my cat, my neglected house, my friends and family, and most importantly, my wonderful sweet husband who has taken such excellent care of me during this awfulness.

Hopefully as my will to live is restored, my will to blog and read blogs will too. I've missed it. I've missed YOU. I'm going to go reacquaint myself with that little button at the top of my gmail page: READER.

See you soon....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Before And After

I am fascinated by, borderline OBSESSED by, shows that deal with before and after. Fix-it makeovers, surgical makeovers, weight loss shows, dance makeovers (you know, they start crappy/average and get better and better), home decor makeovers, even to some extent clothing make-overs (although I secretly suspect most of them go back to t-shirts and sweats as soon as the cameras go off). I seriously can't get enough of the makeover shows. Something about seeing things before and then seeing things after, in a new and improved version, is extremely appealing to my inner psyche. I can't say why, I only know that at least 50-75% of the shows I tape have to do with some kind of before and after. The rest are crime documentaries. Seeing someone get pinned for bloody carnage also appeals to my inner psyche. I probably shouldn't look too deeply at my psyche. It might be troubling.

Anyhow, it kind of explains why I love painting rooms so much. A little paint slapped on can make such a huge difference in the feel of a room, it can even create a total metamorphosis in some rooms. I painted every room of my old house but one. I never could come up with a good idea for that room. I've pained at least half of the rooms in the last three houses my sister has owned. I have even painted a good portion of my in-laws' house.

So here, at my new house, I was both glad and somewhat disappointed to discover they'd used mostly paint colors I actually liked. But one room has bothered me since we moved in. The family bath. My towels for this room were milk chocolate brown, the accessories a dark oil-rubbed bronze. And the wall color? Pale, cold yellow. Not even a rich buttery yellow. Just a very pale, lemony beige. It did NOT go well with my bathroom decor. So here is the before and after...




AND...





Ahhh. So satisfying!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Random October

Is it really October? How did that happen? I'm always a little surprised when I realize summer is really gone.

And in spite of the fact that I really hate fall because it leads to winter, and I really hate winter, I am actually really glad to be wearing pants and jeans again. I was SO sick of wearing my 3 pairs of capris that fit me.

Sadly, however, I only had about a week or two where my favorite jeans fit me.

I am now too fat.

I am now dependant on old jeans a size larger and jeans with lycra.

Thank heavens for lycra.

My shirts? Well, there's just nothing I can do about those. I am now too fat to wear any fitted shirts. Not fat enough to look pregnant, just fat enough to look overfed. I don't feel ready to move on to maternity shirts. But I may not have any other options.

The upsides of this pregnancy are A)Oreo shakes B)fried zucchini with ranch C) lots of kind of cheese (I'm super craving dairy) D)REAL Coke E)Pretty much all other foods I don't usually get to eat. F) All the foods I normally don't get to eat x 10 because I eat at least 6 full meals and 4 snacks a day. I'm not joking. Breakfast 2 or 3 times, lunch by 10:30, second lunch at 1, huge snack at 2 or 3, dinner at four, dinner again with the family at 5-6, another dinner at 8 or so, then snacks or another meal before bed. G) My husband has been SUPER AWESOME--making dinner and breakfast, fetching me treats from everywhere late at night, getting up with the kids in the morning...you name it, if it's sweet or something I don't want to do, he's been doing it.

The downsides of this pregnancy are A)Morning sickness. It kicked in big time last week. Still no barfing, but lots of close calls and a general feeling of wanting to toss my cookies at all times. (mmm....cookies), B)exhaustion. Yesterday I worked super hard on the weed fest that will be my garden next year. I had a respite from the nausea so I wanted to take advantage. It wore me out so bad that I went to bed at 8:15pm and woke up at, yes, 8:30am. CRAZY. C) Peeing. I literally cannot count the number of times a day I pee. I mean, I guess I could count them. I can count into the double digits, you know. But after a dozen, in one night, I just give up. D) A general feeling of malaise and lackadaze and whogivesacrapiness. I just can't muster the energy or will to do anything these days. i.e. my house is a disaster.

Speaking of my house, I still do intend to do a few pictures for those of you who still have any interest in seeing them.

I also have a post with before and after pictures of my bathroom revamp. I just need to upload the pics.

I have no good camera at the moment. My one good one was destroyed by my kids. My Chinese replacement leaves much to be desired. I'm saving up for a really good one. A digital SLR. Can't wait. I haven't taken a decent pic in a while.

Am contemplating when to switch over to shoes from flip flops. I don't feel committed enough to the fall weather to wear socks and shoes every day. But I'm always afraid if I wear flip flops my feet will freeze. How do you know when it's time take the plunge and move on to shoes?

I saw The Social Network this weekend. It was good. Very well-written, clever, fast-paced and witty. Aaron Sorkin. No wonder.

I had sushi before the movie. It was even better than the movie. But not as witty.

I'm off sweets. Isn't that weird? ME!?! I guess nausea and pie don't go that well together. Who knew?

Well, thinking of pie makes me realize it's time to go have dinner. Well, third dinner. (I wish there was a KFC around here; I would love a pot pie.) And then off to bed. After all, it is 9pm.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Mouths Of Babes



Three funny things Beck has said to me lately:

While walking through Costco, I asked my kids what they wanted to be for Halloween. Very loudly Beck shouted, "I want to be a PRINCESS!!!" Three or four people near me laughed while trying to look like they weren't laughing. It didn't make me feel any better when Daphne followed up with "I want to be a Tiger." Don't these kids get gender rolls???

Today Beck said, inexplicably, "Mom, I wish my poop was RED." No idea why. Really, I can't imagine.

Later, I asked Beck how he thought food was getting to the baby in my tummy. He looked at me for a minute, then making his little fingers into a pointing shape, he traced a line from my mouth down to my stomach (and I thought he was being so clever) then up my side, down my arm and finally up to my ear. Close, buddy, close.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Seeing Signs

I was at the Fashion Place Mall the other day. I have to say, they have a very nice bathroom area in the food court. REALLY nice, actually. It reminded me of something from a nice hotel, with a lounge area full of modern art and leather couches outside the restrooms and granite counters and large stalls within. They had a family bathroom with a mini toilet for kids. They even had a room dedicated just to nursing mothers. Only one thing kind of struck me as odd about this bathroom area...



I don't think whoever made this sign really gets how breastfeeding works. It usually involves BOOBS, People. Not doobs, boobs. But whatever. I guess any men who'd like to take over the nursing for us women are more than welcome to it!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ode To Dairy

I really like Havarti Cheese;
Havarti Dill is better.
I probably won't marry Havarti Cheese,
But I think I'll write it a love letter.

The End

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Truth About Anti-Depressants

It's not an easy thing for anyone to admit, that they need a little medical help to feel normal. It's something we mostly try to keep under wraps. It's not talked about, though so many suffer from the same problem. So I wanted to write a post to get this topic out in the open.

Everyone gets the blues now and then, right? The problem really occurs when your blues start to change you. When they start to affect everyone around you. When they start making your house a place no one wants to be in. When people start loving you less and avoiding you because of how your behavior affects them. When you might even be driving everyone crazy enough that they secretly want to just lock you away...

Then it's time to step up and get help. Even if that help is in the form of a little pill. If it can fix things, if it can make you return to your happy, playful, non-anxious self, then it's worth it right? At least that's what the doctor said. That's why I went ahead and filled a prescription today.


For Prozac.



For FLOSSIE!




Yes, it's true. My cat has anxiety and depression. Am I living in Beverly Hills or something?! Who ever heard of a cat needing Prozac? AND VALIUM? But that is what Flossie's vet thinks will cure her of her desire to piddle all over the house ever since we moved. Oookay. Well, I'm game. Stuffing a pill into a little chicken-flavored pocket twice a day is better than hunting down cat pee with a black light and enzyme cleaner every night. It has to be. Right???

See, she's looking more mellow (and continent) already.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Uppsen Downes

Did anyone local see that thing on the news last week about that police officer who was shot in the leg of duty, uh, line of duty? Officer Downes? Yeah, I'm not even joking about his first name. Uppsen.

Anyway, it brought to mind what is on my mind 99% of the time right now: The Uppsen Downes of pregnancy.

Don't worry, this isn't going to turn into a pregnancy whining blog.

Probably.

I guess if it does, I'll have to go out and find a whole new readership of people who love to hear a woman whine about being pregnant. AKA other pregnant women.

In the meantime, maybe you can handle one whiny post. Maybe you can drum up old, buried memories from that place in your brain you try to keep tightly locked, that place you hope never to think about again after you have a baby. Or maybe you can pull from your vivid imagination if you've never been pregnant. Or you can use your incredible powers of empathy and just say "Awwww, poor baby" a lot. Whatever. Just hear me out.

First off, let me say that I'm only 7 weeks pregnant. My baby is currently the size of a piece of puffed rice. Sugar Smack-sized, for those of you non-health nuts. It doesn't seem like anything in your body that is Sugar Smack-sized should be able to affect you much, let alone wreak havoc on you. Except maybe a bullet. A Sugar Smack-sized bullet might. But not a tiny Sugar Smack-sized clump of cells with little arm paddles and bulging alien eyes and a tail. Yet there it is...my body has been wreaked havoc upon by a strange cereal sized creature in the following ways:

1. I can't breathe. This is by far the worst, most annoying most debilitating symptom of pregnancy for me. Almost immediately, my nasal tissues swell shut and very little air gets through, especially at night. Especially during allergy season. I also can't take any decongestants. So all I can do is wear a Breathe Right Strip at night and hope for the best. (The best usually means fitful sleep, tossing and turning, snoring, mouth breathing, and driving your husband insane, in between getting up to pee for the 10th time).

2. Which leads me to number two. Well, number one, technically. Peeing. Again, how does a Sugar Smack-sized baby cause me to have to pee so much? Seriously?!? I am a pretty talented sleeper. Most nights, I lie down and within minutes I'm fast asleep and I don't wake up all night unless someone or something purposely wakes me up. So I am NOT used to this constant Uppsen Downes all night thing. Night before last, from the time I went to bed at 11:30 until I finally fell asleep for reals at 4am, I got up to pee nine times. NIINE TIIMES. ("Nine times?" "NINE TIMES." "I don't remember him being sick nine times." Name that movie.)

3. Speaking of being sick, nausea is the joyous number three on my list. Waking up queasy is just not that fun. Remaining queasy throughout the day is not that funner. Feeling queasy every time I eat is not that fun. Feeling queasy if I don't eat is not that funner. I do have to say that my nausea compared to the other two kids is not nearly as bad. Sometimes I actually feel decent. It comes and goes. It has its...wait for it... Uppsen Downes.

4. I'm not sure what to call this one. Fatigue? Exhaustion? Listlessness? I-don't-give-a-crap-iness? Whatever it's called, it makes it hard to make it through the day. I'm sleepy, but more than that I just don't have the stamina to care about anything (hence my total disappearance from blogging despite my vow to get back into the swing of things). My house is messy. My kids are watching a lot of TV. The office remains unpacked. I don't even have the energy to turn on the computer and read in bed. I just sit and stare, mostly. And try to keep my stomach from moving.

Well, that's the big complaint list. That wasn't so bad, was it? And I have one really good positive to being pregnant:

1. EATING! Whether it's because I have to eat nearly non-stop to keep from feeling sick, or because I'm constantly STARVING TO DEATH, or maybe just because I know I can, I am eating lots of yummy things I normally wouldn't. Like chips. I NEVER eat chips. I usually don't even like chips. But even if I got the rare craving, I wouldn't eat chips because they are so unjustifiably bad for your physique. But I bought three different bags of chips this week just so I would have something to nibble on. Salty seems to help. Treats also seem to help. Surprisingly, my body hasn't wanted sugar much since I got pregnant. But sometimes, when my stomach is on the upswing, I nice Chocolate Dipped Italian Shortbread Cookie from Kneaders hits the spot. And Coke, of course, always hits the spot. FULL-SUGAR COKE. Heaven.

So there you have it. The run-down on how my little Sugar Smack is affecting my life, for better and for worse. I'm sure I'll be back here again. To complain but also to gush. That's the fun part of pregnancy...it's not all bad. Some of it is good. It's full of all kinds of, you guessed it, Uppsen Downes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Expecting The Unexpected

When Daphne started school, I wasn't expecting to cry. I did.

When Beck started school, I was expecting to cry. I didn't.

When I moved away from my old house, I was expecting to feel heartbroken. I'm not.

When we got our trampoline, I was expecting it to be a pain. It isn't.

When we got a house with no upstairs, I was expecting the house to feel strange. It doesn't.

I was expecting to hate having an open backyard that we share with the neighbors. I don't.

I was expecting having more space to be awesome. But not this awesome!

I expected our garage would be so full of stuff we wouldn't be able to park in it for months. It isn't. (One of us is parking in it already).

I expected having air conditioning to be nice and cool. I didn't expect the basement to feel like Antarctica.

I expected there to be more kids in our new neighborhood than the last one. There aren't.

I expected the general population at church to be much younger. It isn't.

I didn't expect the neighbors and ward to be friendly and nice. They are!

I expected having to drive the kids 10 minutes to school and back would drive me nuts. It doesn't.

I didn't expect there to be horses, cows and goats living across the street. There are.

I expected the hot tub we inherited at this house to go unused. It isn't.



There are lots of things about my life lately that have been other than I expected. But I was NEVER expecting this...




Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Memory

Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? Do you remember what you were doing? Do you remember how you felt when you heard the news? If you got up early enough, you might have heard that a plane exploded in New York City. And later that they thought it might have purposely flown into the World Trade Center. You might have actually heard or watched the second plane. You might have wondered when they announced the third plane, hitting the Pentagon, if it was the end of the world.

I did.

I was getting ready for work when I turned on the news to get the weather report. The second plane had just hit the World Trade Center and no one knew what was going on. Then, as I watched, they announced the plane that hit the Pentagon and we all knew this was no accident. This was a deliberate attack on our country! In my whole life, I had never heard of anyone attacking America. People who were alive for Pearl Harbor are the last people who can remember a direct attack on this country. It shocked me. I just stared at the TV wondering who could do this, and who/what place would be next.

I had planned on taking Trax (the light rail train) to work that day instead of driving. But suddenly I was worried that public transportation was a bad idea. Would trains get taken over by terrorists? Would they explode or derail? Was Salt Lake even a target? We just didn't know. I didn't think it was likely, but one hour before I didn't think the possibility of a plane blowing up the Pentagon was likely either.

I drove to work. Things were strange. Instead of teaching my regularly planned lessons, my students and I listened to live-streaming news on my laptop. We talked about what was going on. Some kids cried. We all got on our cell phones and called our loved ones to make sure they were OK.

It was a strange, surreal, awful day. And I can remember it exactly even now. I can remember where I was, how I felt, what went through my head...everything slowed down and was imprinted forever on my brain. I couldn't turn off the radio or the TV all day and for several days after. We all hoped and prayed that more people would be found alive in the World Trade Center wreckage. We waited. In vain.

I still think of that day a lot. I watch shows about 9/11 every time they come on, trying to make sense of it, trying to understand what it must have been like for the people in the buildings, for the people on the planes, for the families of the loved ones who died. But it still, 9 years later, seems totally unreal that this could have happened. HOW does something like that happen? To US?

Anyway, I just wanted to put my thoughts down on paper. I can't remember a day in my life--except maybe the day my father died--that has affected me so deeply. It still haunts me.

Do you remember what you were doing that day? Please share your thoughts.

Galflog, Shrugly, Mactrop

Those are the types of words you'll now have to type into my word verification in order to comment. I'm so sorry. Blame it on the stupid spammers that showed up in droves since I took word verification off last week. Luckily they were all trying to comment on old posts, which I had set to require my approval. So none got through. But I'm tired of rejecting 5-8 comments a day about erectile disfunction medications. So, back to word verification.

It was fun while it lasted.

Friday, September 10, 2010

119 Minutes

The mayhem starts around 10:30 every day...

Start fixing lunch (yes, at 10:30AM)

Get the kids to the table to eat lunch no later than 10:45

Cajole, threaten, beg, prompt, scream a little, and eventually bribe the kids to eat faster, faster, FASTER until 11:25 when you give up and just accept that it will always take them 40 minutes to eat five bites of food and they will never finish a whole meal as long as they live.

11:26 Quickly change Daphne's clothes to her uniform.

11:28 Madly dash through the house looking for Daphne's school shoes while shouting to Beck to find his.

11:29 Madly dash through the house looking for Daphne's school bag. (Still yelling to Beck to get his shoes on)

11:30 Madly dash through the house looking for Daphne's folder which isn't in her school bag. (Still yelling to Beck to get his shoes on)

11:31 Freak out that Beck still doesn't have his shoes on. Sit both kids down and put their shoes on for them since they are physically incapable of doing it when it's past time to go to school.

11:33 Drag kids out to the car to head to school

11:33:35 Realize that Daphne's hair hasn't been brushed and run back in the house to find the brush and some hair bands.

11:34 Realize that Beck has spaghettios all over his face and run back in the house to get a wash rag.

11:35 Finally start backing out of the driveway

11:35:15 Hear Daphne freak out because there is no snack in her school bag. Pull back in the driveway and run back in the house to find a snack.

11:36 Finally make it out of our driveway and on the way to school.

11:42 Drop Daphne off at school.

11:43-12:25 Try to kill about 45 minutes until Beck's school starts. (This might consist of shopping for things I don't need, wandering around the library for much longer than necessary after Beck picks out the first two books he lays eyes on, or using my free kids meal card to get a kids meal for my lunch since I was so busy bossing kids around that I forgot to eat at home.)

12:26 Drop Beck off at school


AND THEN THE MAGIC BEGINS.

I HAVE 119 MINUTES TO MYSELF BEFORE I HAVE TO LEAVE TO PICK THE KIDS UP FROM SCHOOL.


This was the first week that this happened, both kids in school and me with 119 minutes to myself. What should I do with this time? What would YOU do with this time???


Read that book that's been sitting on your nightstand unopened for three weeks?

Blog?

Work on fixing your mosaic table that a bunch of pieces of glass fell off of?

Plant some flowers?

Go to lunch with a girlfriend?

Sleep?

Organize your recipes for your new recipe box?

Watch all those House Hunters you have had taped for months?

Go shopping SANS kids?

Yack on the phone with your friends without being interrupted?


As it turns out, I was so caught off guard by having time to myself all of the sudden that I spent the first 15 minutes of my free time yesterday watching our pet caterpillar eat dandelion leaves . Oy vey. Then I mopped the kitchen floor and vacuumed the entire upstairs. I really need to work on finding more interesting uses for my free time.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Love Is In the Air



Or at least allergens. I am beginning to wonder how many times a day a person can blow their nose before the skin literally begins to rub off. My eyes are itchy and watery, my nose is leaking like a tap. I have nearly an entire box of tissues balled up in my trash can. I've been taking allergy medication as often as possible but it doesn't seem to help. What is in the air that is killing me so much?

This is actually the second or third time this spring/summer that I've had a major allergy attack. When I lived in Detroit, I suffered from terrible allergies. Evidently I was allergic to pretty much everything growing there. But once I moved to Utah 18 years ago, it all stopped and I have been mostly allergy free. Then came this year. For some reason I have had several allergy attacks that have lasted for days. Is it just me? Am I regressing? Becoming desensitized (or is it sensitized?) to the local plant life? Or is this just a whopper of a year for allergens?

Sheesh!!!

You can thank me later, Kleenex, for personally keeping you in business.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Usually I highlight thing that are unique, fun, time-saving, or otherwise really awesome for my Favorite Things posts. But today my favorite thing is going to be somewhat ordinary. Yet, I have to say, it is completely awesome too...





Yes, it's a fly swatter. It's something you take for granted until you really need it and then it just happens to be the best invention EVER.

When we lived at our old house, we didn't have many flies. We had one invasion of little brown ants in the spring. A little ant trap action and that was taken care of. And then this last summer we had an awful earwig infestation. EW. Earwigs might possibly be the grossest bug ever. Or at least they are up there with spiders and centipedes. And they were EVERYWHERE. They were eating my flower blossoms before they even bloomed. They were all over my garden. They were in and under and around every toy and tool and rock and crevice. They even made it into the house a couple of times!!! BARF!!! I have to say, that was one thing I was super glad to leave behind about my wonderful yard there.

And then we moved here. No earwigs! However, living nearby several farms and horse properties (you gotta love when they build neighborhoods into the middle of former farmland), there are flies galore. I wish I had some sort of special robot vision where I could hone in on all the flies buzzing around the house. I'm sure what my robot vision would show me is that every door and window of our house has a couple hundred flies hovering around it at all times. And that they are just waiting for the second that we open a door or window so they can come in and check out my kitchen scraps. I can hardly remember an hour since we moved in that there haven't been flies in the house. We have two fly swatters going at all times, it seems, as well as a fly strip hanging above the island. I get them under control for a little while, but then as soon as I open a door or window, a dozen more show up. It's maddening!

But the good news is, I've majorly honed my fly swatting skills. I almost never miss with the fly swatter. And yesterday I used my son's plastic wiffle ball bat to hit one on the ceiling. KABAM! Gotcha, sucka! First try. I'm telling you, they need to have an event at the State Fair for this or something. I can get a fly with a dish rag, a flip flop, a teddy bear (don't tell Beck), a check book, and a bath robe. But my favorite tool, the one with the most satisfaction and gut-squishing involved, is the fly swatter. God bless whoever invented that thing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

School Daze

Ladies and Gentlemen,




May I present to you




A KINDERGARTENER






AND








A PRESCHOOLER!!!







Seriously, how did I get to this point???? My babies are all grown up. Sniff...




But I have to tell you the absolute most adorable thing Beck said to me when I told him it was his first day of school today. He pumped his fist in the air and shouted, "I'm going to LEARN!!!"


That's my boy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Evolution Of Hating Posting Mechanisms

I remember very clearly when I first started blogging being irritated by word verification. Not so much because it was an extra step before being able to post my oh-so-important comment as much as because I seem to lack the DNA that allows you to read those warped letters. I always got them wrong, making it a five or 10 step process to post a comment instead of one step.

Eventually, due to Chinese commentors who insisted on leaving me a bunch of garbled nonsense characters in my comments, I had to put word verification onto my own comment section. (So sorry. Maybe I'll give it another go without?) I felt like it wasn't fair to hate others for their word verification while having it myself. So I got over it.

Things went fine until about six months ago. Then embedded comments became an option (and probably is the default option because more people had it than didn't have it all of the sudden). Can I just tell you how much I hate embedded comments??? A LOT. Not as much as, like, people driving slowly in the carpool lane, or store clerks who talk to each other while they check me out or anything. Just enough that when I have to go through the comment process on a blog with embedded comments, and it reloads the page so I can add the word verification AFTER I already hit "enter" and then I have to type it and hit enter again, I am miffed.

"Miffed" probably isn't really a high enough level of irritation to write a 4 paragraph blog post about. But I'm trying to get back to regular blogging, so here it is. So if you have embedded comments, why? And why not change! I will love you so much more and you will save me, and probably countless millions, any more miffedness.

Thank you in advance. And I promise work on my word verification situation, the Chinese be damned!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

HCG Update

Seriously??? it's been more than two weeks since I posted? Wow. It felt so refreshing to hit "new post" today!

Sorry I've been so MIA. Is there anyone out there who still cares? Big Daddy told me I've probably lost all my readership by now. I hope not! Anyway, I'm finally starting to feel like I'm not constantly drowning in boxes and unpacking and cleaning and all that. I still have a lot to do around here, but hopefully this will be the beginning to me getting back to normal posting.

One of my friends emailed me recently to ask how things have been post-HCG. Have I maintained my weight? Am I still eating right? So I thought I'd post my answer to her in case anyone out there, all two of you, might also be wondering the same thing. I know one of the biggest criticisms of the HCG diet is the results' longevity. So, to answer her questions:

Yes, I've done well. In fact, I'm 2 lbs lower now than I was at the end of HCG. I did the HCG maintenance phase pretty strictly for about a week or two. You're supposed to do it for four weeks, but I couldn't go w/o carbs any longer. But I was very careful to still eat small portions of carbs and little sugar for the rest of the maintenance phase. But the big thing for me was that after I went back to "normal eating" or at least not the HCG diet, I still followed a pretty moderate eating plan and exercised regularly. I think a lot of people coming off this diet, and most diets, go overboard in their eating 'cause they have felt deprived for so long. I think that's why most people gain their weight back--they go back to eating the way they did before. But I was on a pretty reasonable diet/exercise plan for 9 months before HCG, so I just went back to that. Basically, I still exercised 3-4x a week, and I tried to avoid big portions, fatty food, and sweets. But I didn't completely keep myself away from them. I just tried to be moderate. That, plus the exercise, let me keep the weight to within 1 1/2 lbs of my last HCG weight. Then when I was getting ready to move a couple weeks ago, I was doing so much physical labor all day that I lost 4 more lbs. I've gained back 1 1/2 of those since settling in, which puts me 2 lbs below my HCG weight.

Does that more than answer your question?! LOL Anyway, if you're wondering if it's worth it, YES. If you have a hard time losing weight, no diet will help faster. BUT it's a very hard diet to do. You really have to be committed to it. And I would also say if you have a hard time maintaining your weight on a regular basis, don't do this diet. But if you find that maintaining isn't an issue for you, it's just losing weight, just getting over that hump you're always hovering at, I think this is a really good diet. You just have to be sure to go back to your eat right/exercise routine after the diet.

I guess in summary I think it's a sad fact of being our age that you can never live the lifestyle of indulgent eating + being mostly sedentary. If you want to lose weight, the HCG diet can help you--fast. But if you want to stay there, you're going to have to work at it for the rest of your life. You can learn to eat less or learn to be more active, or both. But no matter what diet you do, you can't go back to living the way you did before you lost the weight or you will gain it back.


But I'll also say this: I'm a LOT more motivated to watch my eating and exercise now that I feel really good about my body than I did when I was 15 or 30 lbs heavier. I am so determined not to get back to that old fat me.




Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Anything else anyone wants to ask about HCG? (And for those of you that are sicker than hell of hearing about my stupid diet, this will be the last time, promise!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

R.I.P. Yellow Couch

Our old house, the Little Pink House from two centuries ago that we lived in until last week, was quirky. Quirky in a lot of really cool ways. Like the way that there were brick chimneys going up through the middle of several rooms. No fireplaces, just chimneys. And the way that the ceilings slanted in the upstairs bedrooms. And the way that the super steep, formerly-attic stairs split into a T at the top of the landing forcing you to either go left or right.

The downside of the quirkiness was that the chimneys caused you to have to arrange your furniture in an odd way. The slanted ceilings meant you couldn't put anything taller than 3 feet against the side walls. And the T at the top of the stairs meant you couldn't bring up any large furniture that wasn't as flexible as macaroni--it just wouldn't turn those corners.

A few years ago we got a couch. A friend that owed Big Daddy some money and had a Chinese importing business offered to pay him in couches. So we looked at the color swatches and ordered a beautiful soft butter yellow, microfiber sectional for our bonus room. It arrived a few weeks later. And as we opened it and tried to remove the school bus yellow packing around the couch, we realized that WAS the couch. So, not the color we'd planned. And then we realized the bigger problem: that T at the top of the stairs. A lot of lifting, twisting and maneuvering by strong and spatially gifted people managed to get all but one piece of the couch around that corner and into the bonus room. But the chaise longue part of the sectional would not budge, not with any amount of pushing, pulling, turning, or swearing. So finally, in desperation, Big Daddy removed the top two stairs (carpet and all) to get that stupid couch in. Then he rebuilt the stairs and recarpeted them. We decided that yellow couch would be staying with the house. We would not be moving it out again. The new owners of the future, whoever they would be, would inherit this couch, like it or not. Or that couch would have to come out in pieces.

Flash forward six years... the new soon-to-be owners of our house do not want our Chinese, school bus yellow sectional.


So.......




Ni how, old friend. Ni how.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Two Steps Forward...

Well, we're in. In our new house. Us and 8 extra people. My bestfrister, Jennie, is here from Texas with her 6 kids and husband. The trip was planned long before we decided to move so we only had 2 days to get as settled as possible before the Central Hordes of Asia descended upon us. (I mean that in the nicest way, of course, Jennie.)

We have furniture set up in most rooms. Ok half.

Our kitchen is unpacked. Minus all the food. Minor detail.

The new dining room table has been purchased, put together, and set in place. The chairs, however, have not. (Thanks a lot for being out of stock, Stupid Swedish Discount Furniture Store Starting with I and ending with kea. I would hate you if your chairs weren't so cute and so cheap.) So we're using the old dining room chairs for now. All four of them. For all 12 of us. We eat in shifts. Once the 4th breakfast shift finishes up, we wipe down the table and begin seating for the 1st lunch shift.

We have most of our clothes unpacked although Big Daddy and I have recently discovered the downside of previously having had built-ins in our closet: Now we have no dresser! So we have our socks and underwear and belts neatly folded on shelves in the closet. It's kind of hard to fold bras to look nice sitting on a shelf. No matter which way you twist and turn and tuck them, they look wrong. It's like solving a Rubik's Cube pretty much.

The most important room, the family room, is far from set up. We are short several sets of furniture including couches for the family room. We put our one giant sectional in the playroom/home theater downstairs. It was too wide for our family room. So now we have no family room furniture. But sitting on bar stools and an ottoman and the old dining room table with no chairs is kind of like having a picnic in your front room. Sort of. Not really.

Our patio chairs are all set up. The patio table, however, is still at our old house. So we sit around the patio in the evening on chairs in a big circle with no table in the middle and it feels so much like we're at a group therapy session that if we're not careful a few family secrets could slip out. But who knows. Maybe it'll be cathartic.

I haven't figured out yet where the hose spigots are. I have figured out, however, that tropical plants don't do so well in high dessert sunlight and no water.

I have also figured out that cats don't adjust well to moving. We've tried to keep Flossie sequestered in the laundry room, but 8 children always want to pet her, so the door gets opened and then she runs under our bed and then the kids offer her salami to coax her out, not knowing that cats hate salami (DUH), so the salami gets left under the bed, causing various husbands to accuse the cat of peeing under the bed and threatening to return her to the cat pound. (Does anyone know what product best removes the smell of salami from the under side of your boxspring?)

Well, that's where we stand. With some rooms set up, some rooms not set up, lots of boxes still unopened, the kitchen clock being in one of them so I never know what time it is unless I walk right up to the oven and peer at it with squinted eyes to see the dim digital read-out, lots of extra kids to keep my kids occupied, lots of fun activities planned to keep the kids entertained and me from finding the kitchen clock.

Ya, that sums it up. Be back soon, when peace and quiet and the kitchen clock have been restored.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recession? What Recession?



For some reason my mother, who already knows everything that is going on in my life, keeps insisting that I write blog posts about things I've already told her all about. I'm not sure why. She is protecting me from the blog police, I think. I've heard they give you a ticket if they find out that something happened in your life that you didn't blog about. I'm so glad someone out there is looking out for my finances. So without further ado (and for those 4 of you who don't already know this...)

We are officially on the market!
We officially have an offer!
We unofficially have two offers!
We are officially under contract!!!

Wow, that sure went fast! We went from listed to under contract in 1 day! I guess selling our house was meant to be. But it does make me:
1) wonder if we listed our house too cheap
2) wish I hadn't hired a realtor for one day at the tune of $5000
3) wish I had re-activated my own real estate license and saved myself $4000 (stupid dues)
4) wonder if I should just shut up about the money and be happy it sold so fast
5) feel a bit nostalgic about leaving behind this beautiful, charming Victorian house
6) suddenly feel panicked at how much we still have to do to get ready to move
7) get really super excited about parking my car IN A GARAGE
7) wonder if we're really ready to move to the 21st century


I guess we'll find out in 3 days!

Ok...back to packing.




p.s. For those of you (Mom) who are wondering whether I will feel compelled to change my blog name/address/picture now that we're moving, the answer is no. It all started with a little pink house from 1895, and that's the way it's going to stay.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

This pie chart pretty accurately describes my life sometimes:



When I was a kid, my mom used to tell us that whenever we couldn't find something, it was The Borrowers who took it and hid it.

Well, I recently lost two very dear things to me. I guess "very dear" is a overdoing it a bit because, after all, they're just items of clothing. But one is a pair of the most comfortable shoes EVER. Born wedges--dark brown cris-cross straps and jute platform heels. I loved them. They were cute, perfect for so many outfits in summer, and comfy enough to walk in all night. The second thing was a kind of drapey sweater, the kind that are popular right now that come down to little points in the front. It was a bargain buy at the end of winter, impulse, not-even-tried-on. but it turned out to be super flattering and very versatile. And, as it turns out, irreplaceable since it came from the clearance rack. So when summer came this year and my Borns didn't show up in any of my shoe boxes, I was super sad. And when I misplaced my sweater after my dance performance, I was heartbroken.

Then, last week, on the SAME DAY, I found both! I guess cleaning out your closet to pack for a move is sometimes a good thing. Or else the Borrowers finally brought them back. Either way, it was a VERY good day for me. HOORAY For Finding Lost Things!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mr. Integrity

I'm a golfer. My husband taught me to golf back when we were dating and I realized that if I didn't learn to golf, I'd never see him on a Saturday. I'm not fantastic. But I'm decent. I can hold my own. On occasion I out-drive the boys or birdie a hole that the others have only parred. I like to golf. In fact, I love to golf. Watching golf, on the other hand, has never been my cup of tea. And I'm pretty sure it isn't a cup of tea very many people out there enjoy.

But in April an event took place on the golf course that I think everyone needs to be aware of. It was an event that kind of changed the way I look at humanity. And certainly at professional golf.

Brian Davis. A British golfer who had never won a tournament, was neck and neck with Jim Furyk, a golfer with many wins under his belt. On the first hole of the playoff to win the tournament, Brian Davis took a swing that got him within distance of tying the hole and continue the playoff. But shortly after making that swing, Brian Davis called over an official and told the official that he thought he had committed a penalty. On his backswing, he said, he thought he saw his club brush a reed. This is, officially, against the rules. The club can't move any "impediment" on the back swing. No one saw it. No one had called him on it. Even on video replay, the tiny movement of the reed could only be seen in slow motion. But the reed had moved. And Brian was forced to take a 2-stroke penalty, forfeiting the game.

What is amazing here is that a man had so much on the line--his first tour win, over $1 million dollars in prize money--but he chose his honor, his integrity, his name as more important. He could have let the error go. Probably no one would have ever noticed. But HE noticed, and so he had to speak up.

There are a lot of names in golf that come and go. A few that stick in our minds for their greatness. A few that stick for their folly. But Brian Davis, a nearly unknown name in the world of golf, will always be remembered because of this day. He is an example to me. Something to set my honesty watch by. Thank you, Mr.Davis. You are a true hero.


Link to the article here