Wednesday, December 12, 2007

At Least I Shaved My legs

Last night I had dinner with some old friends I used to work with. We are trying to get together once a month. It is great to see them. We laugh alot and get caught up on what has been happening in our lives. All of us have changed jobs and some of us have even changed husbands, houses and bodies since we first met. Not with each other. More on that another time.

So last night it came up that someone had a MySpace page and I foolishly mentioned that I have a blog. And then immediately wanted to run screaming from the restaurant screaming "la,la,la No I dont!" So they asked me for the address and I changed the subject. Because I have been anonymous for so long to everyone but my sister, and I guess I have learned to love the anonymity and freedom to be as bitter/nerdy/frank/crass as I want without worrying that I might offend someone I know and love.

But then I went through some of my archives last night and realized that I am not bitter or frank or crass about the people I love. Nerdy yes, often. But I dont say anything here that I wouldnt share with them anyway.

So I sent them the link this morning. And now I feel like I am naked in the mall on Black Friday.

Hi Susan, Michele and MP!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

When it is OK for Santa to give them underwear

My kids have more than enough cute, warm clothes to get them comfortably through the winter. But they have decided that we are missing an entire line of preferred clothing - shirts that carry their current favorite things, which at the moment consist of firetrucks, footballs, drums, and oddly enough, trombones.

We have one shirt with a football, and one with a firetruck. Both are short-sleeved summer left-overs and they can wear them as undershirts only ('cause 'Damn it's COLD here). Which is fine with them. But they want to wear only those shirts, all day, every day. I have two boys, and only two acceptable "under" shirts. You do the math and factor in the current 48 hour laundry turn-around time.

They need new undershirts anyway. So this morning I had the revelation that I could just buy them undershirts, and then make my own iron-on transfers of firetrucks, trombones, drums, and footballs to embellish them. Thereby greatly upping the supply of kid-approved undershirts, while also making those kids dance with glee, which is the point of Christmas in our house anyway.

So in less than 5 minutes on Microsoft Word, I found clipart of everything they love and saved it to a Word file. I found this pack of transfer paper that I will pick up on my lunch break, and I will also snag two 6 packs of t-shirts from Target in the same trip.

I dont know if I can wait until Christmas to see what they think. I mean, how many kids have trombone shirts??

Monday, December 3, 2007

Starting Off with a Bang

Hey, remember how I wanted to be all "Happy, Happy, Joy!" this month? Let's kick it off with a little groupie moment in the spotlight.

I am a huge fan of the Food Network Show "Ace of Cakes". I love the show and Duff, Mary Alice and Geoff are my favorite imaginary co-workers. My husband and I have turned into groupies from afar. Recently a friend of mine had a cake from Charm City for her husband's birthday and raved about how cool and down-to-earth Duff and Mary Alice were. So imagine my excitement when I contacted the folks at "Charm City Cakes" and Mary Alice agreed to do an interview with me for that other site I occasionally write for, DC Metro Moms.

Due to her crazy schedule, we did it via several emails, but let me tell you that Mary Alice even gives good email. You can check out "Ace of Cakes" on Thursday at 10pm Eastern on Food Network, and find out more about Charm City Cakes here.


How did the Big Three (Duff, Mary Alice and Geoff) come together?We all met in college at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), over 13 years ago. We've been close friends since then. Geof was Duff's first employee (around 2001), he had been working at an architectural modeling firm and wanted a change...his building and engineering skills transferred well to cake. I came to work at the bakery about 3 years ago, I was burned out working for non-profits and Duff needed a full-time administrative type. It was the best pay cut I ever took!

Can you give me a rough idea of what life was like pre- "Ace of Cakes" versus now? Things within the bakery have not changed much for the decorators or Duff. Since the show started airing, my job has been the most affected. Before the show, I would "finish" my job in the afternoon and help decorate there is no such thing as finished! The number of emails, phone calls, and stuff I have to deal with has increased exponentially since the show started. I now have a full-time partner in management crime, Jessica. We still do the same number of cakes, but now we book out a LOT further then we used to. Right now we're booked through the middle of March, whereas two years ago we'd be booked out maybe 2-3 weeks. Our staff has increased steadily, but I think we've really sort of hit the perfect sweet spot of number of employees and number of cakes per week.
Life outside the bakery has changed a lot, for all of us, but particularly Duff. He can't go anywhere now without being recognized (someone asked him for an autograph last week while he was changing a flat tire on the side of the road!) and it's pretty amazing.

My nephews are crazy about "Ace of Cakes" and think Duff is a rockstar. While I am rather sweet on Duff too, my friends and I all love you and Geoff's dry sidebars. What was your first "Rockstar" moment once the show started?
My biggest "woah" moment came when I saw a full-page ad for season 2 of the show in rolling stone magazine. That just blew my freaking mind, seeing my own face there. The first time someone asked me for an autograph was pretty surreal, too.

Every office I have ever worked in did the obligatory 3:00pm-cake-and-awkward- conversation-in-the-breakroom for someone's birthday, how do you celebrate at CCC? Is everyone sick of cake?Yeah, we don't really do cake for birthdays! We've done ice cream cake, pie, cookies, anything but cake! We usually celebrate with a dessert break ... Mary Smith inevitably puts on "Birthday" by the Beatles really really loud on the stereo, too.

Every time Duff lets out one of those great belly laughs, I think that I would scrub toilets to work for a boss like that. Is he as easy to work for as he appears to be on the show?Absolutely, he is hands down the world's greatest boss. I mean that. We do, of course, have our bad days and spats and typical work-related frustrations, but at the end of the day I count my blessings.

Charm City Cakes is so quintessentially Baltimore, but every episode the orders seem to come from farther afield. Are there plans to expand beyond the Beltway? Is there a Charm City Cakes night on QVC in your future?We have no plans to franchise or expand. We love Charm City and don't think we could replicate the particular perfect storm of staff talent we have going on here. We have a good niche in our geographical area, there are lots and lots of really amazingly talented decorators in other cities whose toes we wouldn't want to step on.

If you hadn't joined Duff and CCC, what would you be doing now? Without sounding like your guidance counselor, where do you see yourself in 5 years? If I hadn't have come to work for Duff I would have jumped off a bridge about 3 years ago! In my former life I worked in marketing and communications for a few different non-profit organizations. I never really "fit it" to corporate culture and had a hard time "settling down" to one thing...I get bored so easily! That is definitely not a problem here at the bakery. Five years from now I see myself at the bakery, hopefully with a new computer and maybe with a little mini-me under the desk!

Will there ever be an "Ace of Cakes' un-edited directors cut DVD?The production company has joked about that before, we'd love to see one. It's a good thing we're on the Food Network because we do tend to have potty mouths around here...I'd be mortified if my mother heard how I talk sometimes. So, yay for censoring! But also, there is always SO much stuff that goes on here that doesn't make it to the show (for each episode they turn seven days into twenty-three minutes!) so I would love for them to be able to show some of the behind-the-scenes stuff, and more of us being goofy. I like the goofy bits best.

My husband has a milestone birthday coming up in three years. Do I need to order his cake now?My motto is: there is no such thing as too early! But we actually don't even have a 2009 calendar yet to write anything in, so your safe for the time being.

Friday, November 30, 2007

No Bitchin' No Mo'

I didn't do the November Blog every day thing and you should thank me because November really kind of bit. So for December, although I wont be posting daily, I will only be posting happy.

You heard me. Happy stuff. Cookies and Ho Ho Ho and Joy and Jolly old Saint Nick. I need to do this. I get bogged down in my day-to-day crap and forget to see the great things I am blessed with and the funny stuff that makes up life.

By January you will be ready to have whiney old me back.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

More evidence to the contrary

So my birthday was Tuesday. It was fine. I got lots of cards and phone calls. I got some nice gifts from my sister and my parents and my friend Jackie. I got two gorgeous cards from my husband, plus the insistence that I schedule myself a massage and buy myself some "really good" new shoes. On him. All good. We also had cake four nights in a row. Cake. Four nights in a row. Yippee!

But birthdays end. And yesterday, the day after my birthday, I had a kah-rappy day. Here is a highlight from getting the kids out the door that morning - I got so angry and frustrated from the chasing, yelling, repeating, cajoling and re-dressing of my two sons, that I broke a wooden spoon. I just grabbed it and smacked it on the counter and broke it right in half. And I can tell myself that it was better than screaming (which I do) and much better than hitting (which I don't) but the fact is it freaked my kids out. So once the spoon pieces were retrieved and hidden deep in the trash, I had some damage control to do with the boys. I got on my knees and hugged them and told them that I was sorry if I had scared them, that Mommy was really mad and had a headache and it made me so angry that I broke the spoon. And it was wrong to break something just because I was mad and that I would not do it again. And I showed them that we had more wooden spoons. Since for whatever reason E seemed more concerned about the loss of a spoon than the loss of his mother's mind.

I can handle teething, and poop, and fevers and stomach viruses and rectal thermometers. But I hate this part of parenting. The part that has to suck up all of the mind-numbing repetitive stuff and toddler tantrum extremes and continue being sweet and respectful and kind and uplifting when what I really want to do is break things and run screaming from the house to find a boat on which to sail far, far away.

I would still miss them. The little $%^&'s. And they know this. My kids are wonderful, sweet and delicious little boys that bring me such great joy. They love me with a love that is so pure and boundless. I am not worthy. But I am trying to be.

By the way, it was my 40th birthday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I never saw this Elaine dance

When Tom and I bought our first house, we bought it for it's proximity to two cities. We were both working in Wilmington at the time, and he had visions of working in Philly again. The house was older and small, but pristine, and tucked at the end of a small dead end road with just five other homes.

It was quiet, so quiet. Everyone kept to themselves, in their neat little homes and their manicured little yards. I wasn't expecting to find a new best friend but Tom and I both wanted to at least meet our new neighbors. The second week we were there I made up Halloween candy bags for each of the families and Tom and I walked them around. We met the elderly couple across the street, the Korean family next door who were warm and welcoming in spite of our language barrier, and the young couple with a new baby.

The most interesting "couple" was at the other end of the street. They weren't a couple at all it turns out, but sister and brother, living in the home their parents had left them. They were both retired, from what I am not sure, but they were lively characters. She was Elaine, and she knew everything about us already; that we both worked, what we drove, what we had paid for our house, what the previous owners had paid years before, where they went and what they paid for their new house. She had a shrill, loud voice and crazy drawn on eyebrows, but she was friendly and obviously dying for company. Her house was at the entrance to the road, and her chair was parked in the big front window. She kept tabs on everyone and filled us in on the other neighbors comings and goings. I soon realized she was far better than any organized neighborhood watch. She introduced us to her brother Henry, who was watching four different TV's at once, all circa 1975, and at full volume. He was friendly enough, and Tom was able to discern somehow above the TV chaos that he liked to work odd jobs and was a junk collector and reseller. Elaine said we were the first neighbors to ever come for a visit and told us she was happy we were there.

In the weeks to follow, I would often come home from work to find little offerings from Elaine in the unlocked screened porch of our new home. It started with a bag of apples, then magazines and old books she was finished with, other fruit and cheese her brother got from his friend who owned a produce stand. I knew they were from Elaine because early on she waved an apple at me and pointed one day as I rode by. I stopped by to thank her and she seemed embarrassed by it, saying it was more than she and Henry could use anyway. Tom thought it was weird but I always kind of looked forward to her surprises. I left things for her too; tins of homemade cookies with her name on them, a loaf of homemade bread, a poinsettia, a pot of mums. It was our silent neighboring ritual. We almost never actually saw each other. She was busy with her old lady schedule of doctors appointments and church and neighbor surveillance. I was busy with work and socializing and shopping in my still kid-free with lots of disposable income schedule. I felt looked after and it also felt good to be able to reciprocate, even unseen.

We didn't live there long when we decided we wanted to take advantage of the rocketing surge in home prices in that area and the cheap mortgage rates in the nation (four years ago now). We found a neighborhood in another county of big new homes with huge lots and friendly prices. We put our house on the market and it sold in one day, for alot more than we paid for it. It all happened so fast that I didn't get a chance to talk to Elaine. I later learned she was miffed at not being the first to know, and she was even heard to snort about what we were asking (and got) for our house. I always felt like I failed her. Elaine, who prided herself on knowing what was happening on her street.

We never caught up with her in the quick weeks before we moved. Tom recognized Henry at a street fair a few summers back and chatted him up, but I doubt Henry remembered us. He did say Elaine was fine. Sometimes I want to ride up there and say hello and bring her some cookies and show her our boys and ask how things are on the street. But something keeps stopping me. I think I am afraid of finding out that Elaine is gone. The weird thing is, as quirky as she and Henry were, they were probably the nicest neighbors we ever had.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Old People Are Crabby

So it’s not just my birthday next Tuesday. It is also my sister Christine’s birthday (Hi Christine!!) We are Irish twins. So I will be 40 and she will be 39. And lookin’ fine.

Anyway, I went to the card store that shall remain nameless today to get my sister a birthday card. Let’s just call it “Ball-fark”. I am one of their “Valued Gold Crown Members”. I have a key tag to prove it. And they sent me a birthday card. We are like this >< ok?

So I go in and find the perfect, funny, musical card for Christine, and two more cards, and bingo, I qualify to buy the cute little singing penguin thing that my kids lust after. And I have a birthday discount coupon, and a rewards voucher for $3. I take it all to the register and the lady immediately goes “Uh, I have to check with the manager because I don’t think you can use these.”

I hate when people greet a customer that way. At least give me the forced, obligatory “Did you find everything ok?” before you bend me over the counter and start giving me your song and dance about how none of the coupons and gift checks and other crap you send me to try to entice me into your store are GOOD FOR ANYTHING!!!

So she goes and talks to the manager and comes back and says, nope, can’t use any coupons, birthday discounts or rewards vouchers for what I am buying. I, politely but sort of pissed offfly say;

“This is really frustrating. You guys keep sending me coupons and flyers and checks but I can never USE any of them for anything I want to buy.”

And she huffily asks if I want to see the manager. Since that is who she just came from, I don’t see the point so I say no thank you and take back the coupons that she is holding out to me and put them in my purse. At which she point she snaps

“You don’t need to snatch them from me. I don’t make the rules!!”

Snatch? The only snatch I see here is the one behind the counter escalating a simple coupon kerfuffle into a nasty snatch-attack. And you might not make the rules, but you do wear the nametag and collect the salary from “Ball-fark”, so don’t act like I was way out of line by complaining to you about Ball-fark’s stupid “We don’t honor any of them 87 coupons we send you each month.” Policy. Kay?

Then I did what any can’t-think-of-the-perfect-comeback-until-30-minutes-later person would do. I said “Just forget the whole thing.”, threw my stuff on the counter and ran out of the store like it was on fire.

Christine, your card is on it’s way. But there wont be any little gold crown seal on it this year.

Over my dead snatch.

Ready or not, here it comes

I will be 40 on Tuesday.

For. Tee.

In case I was going to forget, as old people tend to do, my siblings have been marking the countdown every day since it was 40 days out by sending me postcards counting down the days (“39 and she’s looking fine!”, “23 and she can still hold her pee!”) I am the oldest, so they are taking great glee in marking the milestone. And for that I am very grateful and very touched. And payback is hell.

I have never been hung up about my age. I always felt younger than the number, whatever it was, and tried to ignore all off the media hype about aging gracefully. I am one step ahead of all that anyway since I have never, ever been graceful, and that does not appear to be improving.

But 40 carries so much baggage. My infertility issues will statistically be twice as bad next week as they are right now, my skin will be 30% drier and 25% less resilient, peri-menopause will be lurking around the corner, and I will see a 29% drop in my peer group appearing in television roles. I remember reading that doctors classify the three biggest risk factors for gall bladder cases as FFF – Fair, Fat and Forty. While I meet all of that criteria, so far my gallbladder is holding its own. Yea for my internal organs jumping the curve!

What I really want to know, is how I can be turning 40 when I still have the sense of humor of a 17 year old boy? How can I be 40 when my kids think that I can fit in their toy box with them to go on a “boat ride Mommy!” How can I be 40 when I have still never purchased new living room furniture? Can I really be 40 when I am afraid of getting kicked out of yoga for laughing when someone farts? When I am still afraid of clowns and German Shepards? When I still don’t know how to whistle or play chess? When I remember getting the training wheels off of my bike as vividly as I remember dancing on a bar in college or buying my first car, like it just happened yesterday?

This weekend, I will be going to two parties, not my own. And that is fine with me. Years ago I told my husband that when I turned 40 I wanted a big party and a trip to Italy. Alot has changed since I made that declaration. Jobs lost and found, houses bought and sold, and children longed for and prayed for, and finally prayers answered. Instead of a big party and a trip to Italy, I think it will be more like a party of four at my favorite small, casual family-friendly Italian restaurant. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Right this very minute

Things that I love about right now this very minute:

My kids in their jeans and sweaters – deliciously handsome.

Blowing leaves to crunch through on my way to the car.

The smell of wood fires burning.

1 part peppermint hot chocolate, 2 parts coffee, with a splash of milk, all for $1.35 at Royal Farms.

Knowing I have lots of time and three paychecks left to shop before Christmas.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Wild On Mom's

Saturday night I went to a “Mom’s Night Out” party. It wasn’t just a mom’s night out; it was also one of those home parties. You know, where someone comes and tries to sell you alot of stuff you didn’t know you wanted or needed but somehow after a few glasses of wine and too much hot crab dip, seem like a really good idea? Yeah, one of those. But there weren’t any Partylite candles or Longaberger baskets or Discovery Toys to be had at this party. No, my friends, the toys at this party were for adults only. Yes, it was one of THOSE parties.

In my time, I have bought baskets, candles, dip and bread mix, skin care, baking pans, lipstick, flags, pictures and purses, all in the comfort of some friend or co-workers living room. The parties were all pretty similar, about 10-15 women, all balancing little plates of crackers and cheese and Spinach Dip on their laps and making friendly small talk while figuring whether they really needed the basket or the holiday sampler they were eyeing. Most of them lasted about 1-2 hours, and I was home in time for “West Wing”.

Not at this party. Whew! There were over 30 women there, truly every women she invited came and many brought a friend along. I brought my sister, because “virgin" as I was to this kind of party, I wanted a buddy. I didn’t even want to go, but I also didn’t want to be the one mom who didn’t go. Ah, peer pressure still wins out, even as I stare 40 in the face next week.

The hostess wisely had an array of cocktails on hand, and kept us all well-filled. (Before you go all M.A.D.D. on me, nearly every woman there lived in the neighborhood and walked home, and the two pregnant women there were designated drivers for those who didn’t.)

I won’t force you to hear the blow-by-blow (har,har) but here are a few highlights:

Fact - I laughed so hard during one of the games that I almost wet myself. My sister DID wet herself.

Fact - My husband and I are extremely compatible in bed, and also rather organic apparently since we were among a handful of couples who didn’t already own any toys, lotions or games.

Observation – The woman who was the raunchiest and talked the biggest game, also probably has the most insecure marriage. Me’think she doth brag too much…?

Fact – Women will share tips and recommendations on vibrators as readily as they will share recipes and shopping secrets.

Fact – Women who won’t spend $40 on a good haircut, will spend $150 on “toys” without a second thought.

Observation – No one once worried that her husband was going to be upset about how much she spent at this party.

Fact – At other home parties I have attended, there were always a few women who left without buying anything. That did not happen at this one. They stood in line for two hours for their private order session.

Fact – The hostess told me she sold over $1800 worth of stuff and still had other orders coming in after the party. The consultant makes 50%. Not bad for a Saturday night.

Observation – I would have judged these parties and people who had them in the past. But after seeing 30 women who couldn’t wait to go home to have some good old fashioned married fun with their HUSBANDS, I can’t think that it was such a bad thing.

Fact – I will never have one of these parties in my house, but I will definitely go to another one, even if it is just for the laughs.

Observation - My husband will strongly encourage my future attendance. *Wink Wink*

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Want It So Bad My Teeth Hurt

Have you seen this Rose Petal Cottage thing from Hasbro? It is my Barbie Dream World, all in one pretty little house.

Here is the outside.

This is the inside. See how neatly everything stacks together?

This is me having coffee with my friend.

When I saw this a few months ago, I drooled. This is my dream toy. It would have been the only thing on my Christmas list back when I still believed in Santa. Hands down.

I tried to figure out a way to justify buying this for my two boys, but it just screams "Girlie Pink Girlie Chick Toy". And my boys aren't so into the Girlie Girlie toys. So far they seem to be most drawn to balls, books, trucks and drums. And the drums, they are so loud.

But if my boys wanted it, I would run to the store for it. Because I dont think there is anything wrong with boys playing with girl toys and girls playing with boy toys.

You heard me, I said "Girl Toys" and "Boy Toys". And I meant it. Because try as I might to expose my kids to all toys, gender-free, my boys just seem to like the "Boy" stuff more. Just like my sweet nieces, all of whom grew up in houses filled with their older brothers "Boy" toys at their disposal, wanted nothing but Barbies, Baby Dolls and Princess Dresses. And no, its not the result of gender marketing, because these girls also had to watch their older brothers "Boy" shows, where the commercials all leaned heavily toward Nintendo, Play Station and all matter of motorcycles and cars.

My dear Sherry wrote about the fuss some people are making about the way marketing of the Rose Petal Cottage seems to want to throw girls back into the 50's, making meatloaf and ironing tablecloths. Presumably this will also make any boy who plays with it (gasp) Gay and way too interested in whether his slipcovers match his drapes.

My take on this is that if all it took to make my boys gay, or throw one of my nieces into a Doris Day frenzy, was one silly toy, I would have to seriously questions how strong a foundation we are providing for them in their real world. The world where, try as I might, I cant stack my sofa on top of my washer and my chairs on top of my dishwasher, and close it all up and tie it with a pretty pink bow when I want to go kick ass on the soccer field. Which is exactly where you will find my nieces, when they aren't playing princess.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Want Frost on My Pumpkin!

I have had it with this hide and seek Autumn weather. It is late October, but my kids wore shorts and t-shirts to daycare today. Last Monday they wore jeans and sweatshirts.On my lunch hour I stopped by my parents house and my mother was wrapping Christmas presents, while my father cut the grass in shorts. My office has the AC cranked up to “Blizzard”, apparently to chill all of the Halloween candy that we should be consuming while wearing our new fall sweaters, not while rocking our faded summer attire and the “last, really the LAST” pedicure of the summer.

I want blustery winds to blow crisp leaves around my street. I want the smell of a wood fire wafting through the air as we pick apples from the orchard and rush home to warm up with hot apple cider. Instead I get humidity hair, capris that should have been burned on Labor Day, and the distinct pleasure of walking through yet another swarm of gnats.

PS – a gnat can land IN your eye, stay there until you walk the 30 or so yards from the parking lot into the ladies room, and then FLY out of your inner eye and into your hair.

I want a big killing frost tonight, Oh Great Pumpkin.

Cross-posted later today over at DC Metro Moms, because I needed a bigger audience for my complaining, apparently.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I just got back from a conference. The new job.

So since I have only been in the new job for two weeks, I spent much of the conference trying to decipher the acronyms and project code names. When I wasn’t mentally conjuring the image and smell of my boys just to torture myself for having to leave them for 3 days.

What seemed like a good break in routine and a chance to get some much-needed “Me-Time” two weeks ago when they asked me to go, turned into an exercise in kid-hunger. I would call home at night and hear their sweet voices and my arms would ache to hold them and my heart would catch with unrequited hugs and kisses. They were happy with Daddy, chasing and playing ball in the house. Mommy was “at work”.

It doesn’t matter how nice my hotel was or how great my bed was (and it was, my soul, divine), this working mom stuff is so overrated.

I got home in time to pick them up from daycare yesterday, early even. Lots of kisses and hugs. E followed me around for most of the night giggling and hugging my legs and chattering about everything and nothing. J preferred intermittent drive by hugs and squeezes. I even got a few head butts to my leg, in his little boy way. There was only one little hitch, when I picked up my keys to put them in my purse. E looked at me very sternly and said “No more go bye-bye’s Mommy.” When I reassured him I was just putting my keys away, he grinned and said “You home now Mommy. You stay home”


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Eight is Probably Enough

I was tagged by Kristy to do an 8 Random Things post. I love Kristy. She makes me laugh and makes me think, which is exactly what I like in a blogger. I think she picked me because I scoffed at her anti-Delaware stand. I don’t really think one semester is enough to judge an entire state, and like I told her the nachos at the Deer Park alone are worth the trip. And this weekend, the annual Apple and Scrapple Festival. Can you stand it?

So here we go:

1 – I was attacked by a llama
Ok, attacked might be a bit strong but he did try to eat my ponytail. I was about 3 or 4 and we were at a petting zoo at the mall. A llama tried to eat my ponytail and for weeks later I could swear that same llama was looking in my bedroom window. My second floor bedroom window. I still think llamas are pretty shady.

2 – I once worked in a tampon factory.
No, I was not a tester. I worked in the mailroom. It was my very first summer job. I was 15, and my Dad worked there in senior management and he got me the job. I did fine there for the first few days until one of my co-workers figured out who my Dad was. Then they all shunned me. I went from being the sweet new girl who was doing great to the mole who was spying on them who only got the job because of my Dad (ok, that part was true, but I was no mole!). It probably didn’t help my case that when they all went outside to smoke on break, I went and laid on the couch in my Dad’s air conditioned office.

3 – I can’t whistle.
Really, I can’t. If you were here right now you would probably say to me ‘Sure you can, just go like this and blow (making the universal face for whistling)” As if I have never tried that.

4 – I once was a “dresser” at a fancy schmancy fashion show
I was assigned to one model and my job was help her out of and into her outfits in the 8.7 seconds they got for each wardrobe change. I had to literally strip her and shove her into the next thing, even if it meant I had to touch her boobs. Which was not as awkward as you would think because they were nearly non-existent and she was so pissed off about not getting to wear some of the best outfits that I probably could have given her a cavity search and she would not have noticed. What she did notice, however was when I had to tell her to suck in so I could zip her dress up. That was the only time she bothered to make eye contact with me and she nearly bit my head off. How dare I insinuate that she needed to suck in? (me in all of my size 18 glory). I was tempted to just leave her unzipped but I was also kind of scared of her.

5 – I am afraid of clowns, snakes and bugs.
But not of death, public speaking, heights or flying.

6 – I like Willie Nelson
I know! But as a kid my Dad was a big fan, and so I learned to be a fan by proximity. My Dad and I even went to concert when I was 12. My first concert and people were smoking pot all around us. I felt like my Dad and I were just so wild. I have seen Willie twice more since. I just love his raspy old voice.

7 – My dream jobs include – being Oprah (but not the current Oprah, more like Oprah ten years ago), owning a coffee shop/hair salon, doing a talk radio show with my friend Jackie.

8 – My kids complete me.
I know most people would say their spouse does, but mine doesn’t. He complements me and makes me happy and I am crazy about him. But when my kids were born, I finally felt like I was really 100% alive. I wrote more about it here. It may be my very favorite post.

Hey, if you got this far, you are TAGGED!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Feel Me Up, Scotty

Do I really need to remind you why I am all pink all over?

If you have boobs, and judging from my stat counter 99% of you either do or are looking to see some, you need to take care of those babies. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you work in an office, you might be decked out in jeans and pink shirts today. Or you may be scoring some of those special pink M&M's at the Acme later today, or slapping one of those pink ribbons on your car. All fine and good, but dont make me have to come back next year and buy one of those specifically for you. Schedule your mammograms, do your self-exams, and take care of The Girls.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Weird, or Ready for Anything?

I am intrigued by the story about the guy(s) who lived in a mall. If you haven’t already seen it on the news, you can go to their website here. Apparently he is an artist and he watched the mall being built. He noticed an area that was used as storage during construction but was left vacant once the mall opened. At some point he and friends endeavoured to live there. They had furniture and rudimentary cooking equipment, everything but a bathroom so they just used the public ones. They did this for four years. Four years!

I love this story for two reasons. First, I love the idea that in this day of total surveillance, you can still pull something like this off. Just the thought that they did it for four years is mind-blowingly hysterical and perhaps the best prank-as-art-form ever.

The other reason I love this story is that it totally feeds into my life-long fantasy world. When I read “Where the Heart Is”, about a girl living in Walmart, it just formalized something I had been doing for years in my head.

Call it an over-active imagination but I have always looked for places to live or hide, ever since I was a kid. Places where if I suddenly found myself homeless or on the run, I could seek shelter. I had a normal, happy, well-fed childhood so it isn’t like I needed this information. It’s just a weird secret thing I do. Some people redecorate rooms or makeover people in their mind, I mentally set up a bunker.

Maybe it started when I read The Borrowers as a kid, I don’t know. But even now, as I live the American Dream in my four bedroom, two bath 3000 square foot mortgage with a husband and two kids, I still find myself eying up that little nook in the fancy schmancy furniture store or that empty storage room in the basement of a ginormous model home, and wondering if anyone really checks the whole place before they punch out. I take walks in the woods and see secret places where we could build a cabin, and I have mentally debated the merits of taking out or leaving in the third seat of the van should we ever need to live in it on a cross-country road trip. I know my yard sale habit isn’t just about bargain hunting and saving the earth, it is also kind of thrilling to see what you can get for virtually nothing, should I ever have the need to start procuring say, a camping stove, a solar radio or a bed I can roll up and carry on my back.

You would think having two kids would have halted my flee-strategy sessions. If anything they have only made them more dramatic. Now I factor in whether I could deal with home-schooling by candlelight or would we wing it and let them learn by life experiences and flash cards? Live in a hut on the beach, or in a cabin in the Appalachians? Perhaps in the furniture department of a Neiman Marcus, or in a vacant vacation home at the shore? Am I the only one who watched The Riches and thought seriously about how I would have pulled it off?

Hey, it breaks up the commute in the mini-van and my search for the perfect shower curtain.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hi, I'm New Here

So remember yesterday, when I was all "I have no responsibility yet, la, la, la, la" ?

Today I had my first training session , meeting , 10 minutes with my predecessor during which we were interrupted three times. We started going over what I am going to be doing. It went a bit like this.

My Predecessor: "So you will need to come up to speed on all of this blah-blah-blah-gibberish-greek-farsi-yada-yada because you have a bunch of reports due November 1st on all of this data."

Me (throwing up in my mouth a little): "OK, so where should I start?"

My Predeccesor: "You will just need to read and interpret this three foot thick binder of reporting requirements, translate them from Urdu, into Aramaic and then into Hebrew and then multiply them by the square root of the the exact number of times that a blue bird has flown over the Washington monument, subtracting any flyovers that occurred during a period of rain or social unrest in Denmark. Then, you will just have to rewrite the queries so that they all match, and so that they can be sung in perfect pitch to the original score of "Madame Butterfly", preferably in German but they will also accept Dutch."

Me: "Hmmm. OK, so do you think you will have some time to go over some of this with me again?"

My Predecessor: "I don't know. I will just have to see. In the mean time, go ahead and start memorizing the periodic table of elements while standing on your head and predicting 2008 batting averages for the Cuban national women's baseball team, and have it ready by the end of the day."

Me: "Uh, wow, this is not exactly the way this job was presented to me in the interview. I thought there would be more training...."

My Predecessor: "Really? Good luck with that."

I am typing this from the floor of the ladies room, sitting in a puddle of hot fudge and my own bitter, overwhelmed tears. And that, along with the fact that my period also started yesterday, is pretty much the way my first few days of work go on any new job. I will do what I always do, which is one part lamaze breathing, one part eating through the fear, and two parts taking this out on my husband because he is not Bill Gates.

Edited to add - My predecessor is actually a very nice person, but she is bogged down with learning her new job, likely from someone else higher up the food chain who is also speaking Spanglitalian to her. 'Tis the circle of life.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Knowing Where I Stand

I started my new job today.

My sisters and I have this running thing about how on the first day of work you never know where to stand. Someone walks you around and introduces you to people and they shake your hand and then have to go on to their meeting/office/cigarette break and you are always in their way. Its like "Hi, nice to meet you! Welcome Aboard! We'll talk later! hahahaha" and then the awkward fumble to get out of each other's way.

But so far, not so bad. I have a new office, with a door and real walls. A regular Cinderella at the ball office. But the best thing of all about today, is that I have no deadlines, responsibilities or tasks yet. I am revelling in the freedom.

Check back in next week when I am hiding under my desk crying.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

All Funked Up

September weather is as confusing as puberty. Is it summer or fall, humid or dry, breezy or dismal? A sweater in the morning, later followed by a skirt sticking to my bare legs by lunch. My pedicure has seen better days, but I am not yet ready to give up the last-minute ease of sandals. I am filing for a legal separation from my summer clothes on the grounds of irreconcilable boredom. But it’s still hot out, so each morning we have a trial reconciliation.

Neither of us are really happy.

And yet on the elevator today I had my first cool boots sighting of the season. I discreetly tucked my chipped toenails under, giving me the look of a formerly foot-bound Japanese woman. If only from the ankles down.

Boot girl also had on a cool trumpet skirt and a belted sweater jacket. So November 10th, she was. And me, looking so August 3rd at the Walmart.

I am in a funk. I am still wrapping up the loose ends of Old Job and in denial of the stress to be soon brought on by New Job.

PS – my new boss wont be there Monday on my first day. And neither will her assistant. But she is sure “someone will be happy to show me to my office and introduce everyone.”

Oh, the joys.

I guess I should relax, since no one really expects much from the New Girl for at least the first few days. I remember one job where they literally had nothing for me to do for an entire month. My manager-to-be hadn’t been hired yet, and they were to be in charge of setting up the department. This was pre-internet ere, so I spent an entire month reading old files. I could have done a full internal audit of the place by the time I was done.

I got nothing else. Bring on October.

One more thing - Sarah is testing out what new search terms will bring on the bizarro search hits. I suggested "under my skirt" since that post really brought the freaks out of the woodwork. She also gets alot of hits for anything having to do with the Doodlebops, and/or hermaphrodites. She tested out Brad Pitt and Butt but that got nothing.

So here we go - I got a hermaphrodite Doodlebop under my skirt.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Now I get it.

A few weeks ago I asked some of you to go over and spread some warmth to Mrs. Grumpy when she lost her husband. And I know alot of you did and I thank you for that. The blogging community can be very warm and supportive in spite of its anonymity.

I have been checking in on her every day since it happened. But I felt funny about it sometimes, like I was invading her privacy. See, I just “met” her a week or two before he died. I thought she was funny and I added her to my google reader. Then the whole passing away of her husband happened and I felt real sadness for this stranger who had lost someone she loved so completely. I checked in to offer support. As much support as you can via a comment box. (Sigh) But I admit some of it was also a voyeuristic interest. What is she doing now? How did he die? What will she say tomorrow about it?

I know. I felt (and feel) tremendously sad for her but a part of me was the driver passing by the car wreck rubbernecking. Plus I didn’t feel like I had much to offer for someone in such pain, and I most of all did not want to offer any unwanted support or assvice. Not now, of all times. But I kept going back, hoping she was doing a little better. And she is, sometimes, and sometimes not. One day at a time.

What I did not expect was to learn something from her about my own marriage. Because in spite of all of her wonderful stories and memories of him, I didn’t connect to her loss in a way that was real. Her loss of her husband had nothing to do with me and my husband. The one who is always running 10 minutes late and loses his patience when he cant find something he should have put away last night. That same husband of mine who doesn’t listen to me when I tell him things the first time, and then asks me the same thing again, and once more before it sinks in. That guy who leaves his socks in the kitchen and his toast crumbs on the counter. The one that I sometimes take for granted and, on the worst days, wonder if I really need. Yeah, that guy.

And then today she wrote this, about what it is like when someone calls and asks her what they can do to help;

"...the wonderful person on the other end will inevitably ask,"Is there anything you need...?" Today I was talking to his cousin and I said,"Yes, I need to hold the edge of his t-shirt in my hand and feeling his warm skin brush my knuckles so that I can fall asleep. I need to be able to get him up for work and make him coffee, I need to make dinner while he sits on the computer playing poker and talking to me. I need to go back to a few of our conversations and pay more attention so he knew how important what he said was important to me. I need him to cuddle with his son in Krandall (Krandall was the name that Leonard had given to the ridiculously, monstrously huge, ugly Lazy Boy that he bought a few months ago), I need his arms around me, I need to give him that haircut I promised because his messed up neckline always bothered him, I need to hug him so hard so that he would never leave me. Can you go get him for me please...?"

Damn, that hit me right in the chest. That is everyday life she is talking about, MY everyday life. My leg reaching out to brush against Tom's leg when I can't sleep. My Tom in our old recliner reading books to the boys. Me not paying attention to every detail of the car maintenance we need to do and why. Me forgetting to to kiss him goodbye this morning because I wanted to run up and get the laundry before the boys woke up.

Mrs. Grumpy, in her lowest low, has made me realize that I am so very, very lucky to have those socks to pick up tonight, and those toast crumbs to brush away tomorrow, and that the laundry can wait until after I have hugged Tom and kissed him goodbye.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I love Google. I google everything from medical symptoms to old boyfriends to recipes. I recently heard about googling your name and “needs” and seeing what comes up. I tried it this morning and the results are almost as amusing as the bizarre searches I see on my site meter. Oh by the way, the “Under My Skirt” post prediction about attracting Google-verts, definitely did not disappoint.

So, here is what I need:

Michele needs to be healed desperately!!!!!
Clearly someone has seen the scaly dry skin on my legs. It is not even autumn yet and I am already THIS close to rubbing Crisco into them.

Michele needs to hire a Goon.
I do know someone with a squad, but I am not sure if they are up for hire yet. How threatening can a goon in Pull-ups be?

Michele needs to learn to be more careful with her Voodoo
If only I knew Voodoo. The things I would do to my OJ doll, and my Honda-mini-van-with-the- engine-light-on-for-no-good-reason doll.

Michele needs to create names for her imaginary friends
They have names!! Isn't that what my blogroll is for? (the blogroll that needs updating, desperately)

Michele needs help adjusting her body regularly
This was posted by my arms, who have been falling asleep every night in bed because I am so exhausted that I don’t think I even move during the night.

Michelle needs to move on with someone else since Tony’s no longer around
Is my period of mourning for the loss of The Sopranos THAT obvious? Apparently that ridiculous “tribute” they did to them at the Emmy’s set me back a few stages in the grief process.

Michelle needs to just shut up.
I think my husband or my kids may have written that…

Michelle needs to get her game together, she also needs to stop her parents from running her life
Definitely my husband. He must have a blog.

Your Turn! My sweet imaginary friends, its your turn. What do you need? Google your name and the word "needs" and see what comes up. If, like me, your name has a unique spelling, feel free to change it for different results.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stolen Poultry, Sex Toys and Giving Back

<---------See that duck over there?

All ducks have a story. This one was was stolen by Kristen, for which she got a raft of nasty comments. So she did what any other falsely accused accused bad parenting example/duck thief/sex toy pusher would do. She decided to hold a raffle. With stolen merchandise and a sex toy. This ain't your Mama's raffle.

And to sweeten the deal, you also get to do real good for someone who really needs it. A beautiful boy, with an ugly disease. I first read about Tanner here, back in March of 2006, and it broke my heart to think that one day his own heart would give out. Now his wonderful aunt Catherine is trying to raise money for him again and she needs our help. If you are any aunt, or a mother, you cant read Catherine's Tanner post without wanting to do SOMETHING, anything, to help.

So click on the duck, or click on Catherine, or click on something but just click. Because if we don't click, then disease, and bad poultry metaphors win.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

But No Clowns, Please

Wow, alot has happened since my last post.

Yes, I accepted the new job. It is a really great opportunity and comes with a nice salary bump and much better benefits, time off and future potential. All good. I will actually still be in the same building and work with some of the same people I work with now. So no first day jitters about where to park or where the coffee is.

I hate the quitting part. I am always a nervous wreck when it comes to resigning. But it could not have gone more wonderfully. I had to resign to three people – my actual boss, who is in another state entirely, my unofficial on-site “boss”, and his boss who is the head of department in which I am a consultant. Everyone said such nice and supportive things to me, about me, and made me feel so good I started wondering if I was making the right move to leave.

Then again, if they had said all of these things to me before, I would have asked for a raise and a better chair. All of which they probably knew, and thus they avoided telling me how good and valuable I was until I already quit. Which is why they are the bosses, and why my chair still sucks.

Anyway, last night should have been merry with excitement, no? Well, not so much. My husband had a K-rappy day at work yesterday so he was in a foul mood. He was genuinely congratulatory (did I just make that word up?) but could not snap out of his own personal job funk for very long. I know he is happy for me, and he said as much, and that I deserve it , blah, blah, blah I guess I wanted flowers and a parade and he is not really the flowers and parade type. More the pat on the back, keep up the good work type. But last night, I wanted more than pizza and a few pats on the back. Which made me all girly and teary and sad about why it couldn’t be my special day. Like a Bridezilla, but in this case a “Careerazilla”. Leading to a very un-productive argument about whether I was overreacting or he was, followed by the encore production of the one where we fight about how we fight.

Good times.

Don’t make me do the disclosure about how we don’t fight that often and things are really fine. We don’t and they are. But last night was not at all what I had envisioned in my Hallmark moment mind when I accepted the new job.

Perhaps my new co-workers will throw me a parade.

On a completely different note, go check out Sherry at Horkin Ramblings and her web cam. This is the first time one of my long-time blogger favorites has done the web cam thing. I feel like I know her from somewhere, but I only know her from her blog (which was one of my first and felt like girl talk over coffee from my very first visit). I know everyone is doing the web cam thing these days, but they are strangers on YouTube and this is Sherry, and I feel so voyeuristic now. Either that, or that weird feeling you would get when you saw your teacher at the grocery store. I dont know. But go over and say hi and tell her you like her hair color because last week it was the color of a banana slug. I will let you Google that one.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Accept!

I got the job

And they showed me the money. We may get a pizza with EVERYTHING tonight to celebrate.

Watch out!

Monday, September 10, 2007

While I Do Believe in Karma, I Do Not Have a Chameleon

Hey, I have an announcement to make – Ta Da! I have joined DC Metro Mom’s

DC Metro Mom’s is a local spin-off of Silicone Valley Moms and I am very excited to be a part of it. Some of my favorite Mom Bloggers are there, plus some great new ones I have discovered in the, oh, four days, since I joined.

With the election coming up, I am particularly interested in the political power of Women Who Blog. These women are a grassroots force to be reckoned with and I have alot to learn.

My inaugural post went up today. I didn't initially intend for my intro to their world to be about September 11th, but my memories of it are still pretty sharp when they start showing those crumbling buildings over and over again. Click here to read it, or just feel free to go over and make fun of my photo in the “About Us” section. All of the other moms are young and cool and attractive, and I look like a trannie. Like Boy George, when he hit the skids and needed his roots done. Yup, I took the picture myself at 6am in the bathroom.

Also, I want to say that this isn’t going to change anything about what we already have going here. Really. I am not some guy telling you we can still be friends while he is already deleting you from his Five. I am here for the long haul.

Big Orange Box

Say what you will about Home Depot, but don’t say it to me.

Friday night we took the kids for ice cream and afterwards had to stop at the Depot to exchange something. When we got there, none of the cool race car carts were available so we had to do the “Hold Hands or we go back in the car!” thing*.

We aren’t at a good hand holding stage right now. When we hit a big store with wide aisles and lots of sharp edges and potential climbing hazards, my normally well mannered kids develop death wishes. One kid throws his body on the ground wailing and thrashing as if his hand is being broken, in a rather George-Costanza-esque attempt to break free. The other is able to wiggle out of even my python grip and then takes off at top speed, maniacally laughing at the folly of his parents in hot pursuit.

Kids dirty from a hot day of play at daycare, and now liberally spattered with chocolate ice cream. Husband and I ragged and rumpled from the work week, both of us trying to control the boys without causing a scene. We are a Judgmental Sanctimommy’s critical blog post waiting to happen.

Husband has to run to the back of the store for the replacement thingy he is exchanging. I am stuck there, doing the whirl-a-mom thing with a kid on each hand, and I am just about ready to page Security to the customer service desk with a taser, when an angel in an orange apron appears.

“Look at these gorgeous children! Are they twins? Do they like stickers?”

My whirling dervishes know the word “Sticker” and immediately stop flailing and turn the charm on for Angel Orange. She asks me if she can give them a sticker and I, in awe of her calm-inducing powers, nod humbly. We start to follow her when J sees Mickey Mouse. They sell Disney paint and J saw Mickey’s head looking above the paint department. Seeing his excitement, she re-routes us to Paint. Mickey Mouse stickers for all!

Then she asks me if they can have aprons. Uh, OK And she whisks us off to the “Education Center” where they get their own miniature orange aprons, and kits to build their own tool boxes. My kids each give Angel Orange a big hug and a high 5, and she tells me to bring them back to see her anytime. By this time husband has returned and my kids have been mollified into smiley, calm little Home Depot employees, who willingly hold hands and sing ABC’s on the way back to the car.

What do they put in those stickers, and can I get a case of it?

* Staying in the car while husband ran in? Not an option. He gets distracted by all of the shiny tools and has to be thrown out by security so they can lock up.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Mickey and Me

A month ago, my kids discovered the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It’s been cluttering up the TiVo queue with its catchy tunes and flashy animation, and it is Toddler Meth at my house. I can get them to do anything if I promise they can watch Mickey afterwards. It has been a valuable parenting weapon tool. Alas, it only worked when we were at home, in TiVo range.

And then last weekend, we found these…

They have barely left my children’s shoulders in the 6 days we have owned them. They are packed and unpacked several times a day. Loaded with everything from books, to balls, to crackers, to my keys and my sunglasses ($@^^&*!).

And the best thing about them, is that they are my new portable threat motivational tool. Don’t want to get in your carseat? Well, Mommy will just have to take Mickey with her to work. Don’t want to hold hands crossing the street? Then Mickey is going back in the van.

Mickey and I are ruling with an iron glove.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Analyze This, The DIY version

I have never been in therapy, or seen a counselor or a person of any medical background for anything other than a physical ailment. It is not that I do not value the science of psychiatry, or the miracle of better living through chemistry. I applaud them. I embrace them. If there was a parade, I would decorate the floats and throw candy and necklaces to the crowds.

I have just always sort of waited things out until they got better. Or until they were just not part of my life anymore. I do not recommend this strategy, nor do I think I am a better or stronger person because I did it. There is just a part of me that always diminishes my problems and says that they are not nearly as bad or as painful as so-and-so’s problems so I just need to grin and get through it.

But I am very good at listing them, and giving my own dime-store analysis of what causes them. And sometimes, like this week, when my hormones are raging, and my energy is low and my “La, La, La” feeling is gone, I wonder if my DIY approach to my mental health is lacking. I am not in denial of my issues. I guess I am just in denial that they are important enough to go see someone to fix them.

So here, my lovelies, is my list of Issues, including some background and foreground. Care to analyze me? Is it enough to warrant me my own Dr. Melfi? Or are these run of the mill grievances, and do I just need to grin and get through?

OR, contribute to the delinquency of my DIY self, and give me your DIY self-help recommendations. I promise if I try them , you will be the first to know.

1 – I use food as comfort. It is an affordable indulgence when I am feeling financially low, and it “nurtures” me when I feel like all I do all day is nurture others.

2 – I have unresolved issues with how my mother made me feel about my weight when I was growing up. I wish I had been able to stand up to her about it when it was a 25 lb issue, instead of “I’ll show her!” ing up to being a 100+ lb issue for me. Yup, I really showed her. (((Sigh))).

Edited to add - Ok, as soon as I sent this, I knew it made my otherwise wonderful mother look bad. I know she was projecting all of her own weight issues on me because she didnt want me to struggle as she did, (does) with her weight. My mother is one of my favorite people in the whole world, and despite my tendency to blame, she is also not holding a gun to my head forcing me to continue eating. I am a big girl, I am responsible for my own weight now.

OMG, was that denial, wrapped up in enabling, with a twist of self-victimization? I dont care, my Mom rocks.

3 – I know I am smart and strong enough to be anything I want to be, but I am afraid of success and I don’t know why.

4 – I spend so much time taking care of others and making others feel good, that I don’t know what I want for me anymore. I don’t know what would make me feel better, and if I did know, I would not know how to ask for it.

Fire away. The couch is open. Just don't have me committed until I finish the laundry and find out about the interview...

Under My Skirt

I don’t know if the rest of this post could ever live up to that that titillating, google-search-enhancing title,

I was caught off guard in the bathroom at work a few minutes ago and it reminded me of another covert under-the-skirt fiasco. Today’s trainwreck involved a meeting that ran too long, a trip to the ladies room sans necessary supplies and no little coin operated machine to back me up. “Crime scene” or “Bloodbath” would work interchangeably. Thank God for black skirts and a Kohl’s nearby that I can hit at lunch time.

Still with me? Ok.

I was 14 and a freshman in high school. One of my teachers had encouraged me to join the Speech and Debate team. It was a chilly Saturday in November and I was heading for my first out of town Speech and Debate Meet at a big local university. I dressed in the timely preppy style of white turtleneck, red cardigan, white hose, tassel loafers, and a plaid kilt, adorned with a decorative gold “Kilt Pin”.

Scoff if you must. It was my preppy princess outfit and it made me feel smart. I didn’t dress like that for school, and I rarely even wore something like that to church. But this was my first competition and it was the UNIVERSITY and there would be potentially cute boys there.

So I dressed carefully that morning and spent extra time on my hair and makeup. The only thing I forgot to plan on was checking for pantyhose. My white ones had a huge runner so I grabbed a pair from my younger, smaller sister. Off to compete!

I was scheduled to perform three different times, competing each time for three different panels of judges and against three different groups of students in my event. My first round I was extremely nervous, but this was fun and I knew I was ready. I scampered up to do my 10 minute monologue as an indignant Southern belle being dumped by her fiancé. I was remembering my lines perfectly, doing my accent correctly, and making great eye contact. Suddenly, mid-monologue, I could feel my nylons start slipping down from my waist. I was supposed to move and gesture during this part but I toned it down in favor of keeping my nylons on. To no avail, and I felt them hitting my thighs. Even breathing was causing them to drift lower and lower down my legs. By the finale, I was clamping my knees together, afraid my pantyhose were about to make an appearance as part of the act. I finished to applause, and shuffled head-down back to my seat, the picture of humility, when inside all I cared about was sitting down and grabbing the crotch before it slid past my knees.

I waited until the room cleared and then waddled to the ladies room, where I stretched, yanked and pulled the ever-shrinking hose back into submission around my waist. I didn’t even make it out of the stall before they started their downward descent. In desperation, I yanked them back up, and used my kilt pin to pin them to my turtleneck. It held, and I was able to compete in my next two rounds, as the kilt pin slowly shredded my hose thread by thread. I didn’t care, as long as they didn’t fall off.

At the end of the day, we gathered in a huge auditorium for the scoring and awards. By this point all I cared about was getting home and ripping the shredded mess off of my body. They announced the winners for my event and I won. My team jumped up and down and cheered, as they called for me to come down and accept my award. I looked down the aisle of the auditorium, all 87 rows of it, and knew there was no way I would make it without a major wardrobe malfunction. As my teammates hugged me, I fumbled through my skirt to find the kilt pin and held on for life, holding my waist as if my appendix was about to rupture. I grabbed my trophy, waved, and ran back to my seat, never once letting go of the last three shreds of my dignity.

On the way home, my coach told me that I was so comfortable and natural at this and that I should stick to it. I wanted to flip my skirt up and show him the nightmare under my skirt, but an award winning Southern belle doesn’t do that kind of thing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

New Math

The factor (A) “level of blissful satisfaction achieved from just having showered, shaved legs, and moisturized after a morning of completing alot of pain in the butt household tasks”

Multiplied by

(B) the power of opportunity provided by two toddlers just going down for a much needed nap

And Squared by

(C) the arrival of two new magazines + a great new book + clean quiet house + fresh iced tea + the possibility of a much-needed nap for me

Will never be greater than

(D) the level of arousal of a husband who just realized that (A) and (B) were simultaneously occurring, thus rendering (C) obsolete.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sisters, I Ask You

Please go over and give Mrs. Grumpy some warm words. She lost her wonderful husband Leonard last weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dropping the Deuce

Despite my moaning last week about everyone forcing my kids into potty training, and despite me, progress has been made.

Last night they had stripped bare for their bath when Toddler J suddenly got a panicked look on his face and ran into the bathroom yelling “Mommy, I go potty!”

This is new.

So we ran in, got him settled and his brother (and twin, also nude) settled on the floor and started “reading” a book to him. I tried to be very low-key, and said I’d be nearby if they needed me.

About 10 minutes later, Toddler J yells ‘Mommy, I did it!”. I go in and find both of them, heads touching as they gazed in wonder into the toilet. He did, in fact, do it, and rather splendidly.

Lots of singing, dancing and high-fiving ensued. Brother E ran to the back door, threw it open and in all his naked glory shouted to the world (and Daddy, who was cutting the grass) “J pooped in the potty! He did it! He is a big boy!”

The rejoicing continued as we left a message for my parents. J, the pooper, very seriously said “I pooped in the potty. I big boy.” Then his brother and self-appointed cheerleader E got on and repeated his triumphant announcements about J’s success.

At least E isn’t letting the peer pressure bring him down.

I admit, I went to bed last night gloating, thinking my “low key” approach must be the way to go.

This morning, neither of them wanted a damn thing to do with the potty.

One flush forward, one flush back.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

To F, or not to F? That is the question

Look Left! It is an ad, for which I am expecting huge, fabulous returns so that I might retire early and spend my days watching reruns of “Rock of Love” and eating bon-bons and peeled grapes.

Actually, coffee money alone would be SU-WEET!

Yup, I dove in and joined BlogHer ads. Because I had nothing to lose and only to gain.

Unless someone is offended by the ads, in which case I strongly suggest you read me through Google Reader (ad free!) and stop commenting altogether. I miss you old commenters! (Christine I am waving at you!)

Actually, my decision, not that I have to justify it!, includes the hope that I will be inspired to write more (which is good for my psyche) and stop luking so much and comment more elsewhere, which is being a good blog neighbor. Thus possibly increasing traffic, and thusly improving the quality of my coffee. And bacon.

Mmmm, bacon.

Here is my dilemma. I said when I joined BlogHer ads that I would not use profanity on my site. It was optional, but I need to clean up my act anyway considering the little parrots I live with. And no, that does not mean you can’t fire away in the comments with any trash talk you wish. I will not edit comments.

But what exactly constitutes profanity? I can assume that F, S , P and C are off limits. But what about jackass? Or damn? How about fake profanity like “WTF” or “$hithead”? Is that also off the table now?


If you can't comment, at least click left. My coffee mug thanks you.

Feelin' It

The feedback yesterday was great. It was just what I needed. I am ready for Friday and whatever happens, new job or no, is what is supposed to happen.

Thanks, times a million.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Change-Resistant Fabric!!

I have a job interview this Friday. It is a great opportunity to go from being a lowly contractor to a “real” full time employee with better benefits, more vacation and even (gasp!) a pension.

The problem is, I really like my current job and have settled most comfortably into this safe, cozy niche. I have been hoping for two years now that one of the “real” full time positions doing what I already do would open up, but so far no one in the job I want is budging.

The new job would be a stretch for me, but a good learning opportunity. And possibly, but not definitely, it could also mean a little more money.

Yes, I know, on paper it looks like I would be a fool to not be jumping up and down at “more vacation, better benefits, a pension (hey, with 40 staring me in the face, a girl has to think about stuff like that!)”.

But I hate change. I am great at handling change, but it is generally thrust upon me, and not something I actively seek.

I need a pep talk.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Weekend Highlights

  • I assisted in the capture and homicide of a bat.
  • I spilled a gallon of hot, soapy water all over my kitchen floor.
  • I went to Nordstrom and Sephora and didn’t buy anything, but did ask for and got free samples of several things I want to try at home but not lay out $$$ for without knowing if I will like them.

The Bat - My parent’s house is very open, with cathedral ceilings and the bat was doing his bat thing every night, flying around scaring the crap out of my folks. We don’t know how he got in, but it most definitely needed to GET OUT. My parents are generally pretty tough, but the bat had them spooked. See a few nights earlier someone had caught and released the bat for them, and now it was back. How do we know it was the same bat? We don’t, but apparently they are real creatures of habit and like to fly, eat and sleep in the same spots every night so who knows? Sp Tom and I went down there on Saturday to find and evict the bat. For whatever reason, because I am big baby about alot of other creepy, crawly things, I am not afraid of bats. We located the bat, hidden under some (fake) English ivy, on the side of a big, decorative basket my Mom had stashed on top of some bookshelves in the living room. Neither of my otherwise pretty brave and unflappable parents wanted anything to do with the bat capture so they were hiding in the kitchen with the boys, making panini’s. I shook the basket a bit to make sure the bat was really asleep, and then I held the net “just in case” while Tom grabbed it and ran outside. He threw the basket on the ground and hightailed it back in the house. I saw the bat squirm up into the basket and try to hide. I wanted him out of the basket (which was right next to the pool where I was really dying to go for a swim) when out of the blue my father comes flying out of the house, armed with a broom. He yelled ‘Where is it?” and I showed him the bat’s wings peeking out of the basket. He started wildly swinging the broom, and I flipped the basket a few times and knocked the bat out. My Dad finished him off, and then told me my panini was ready. Just to be safe, we got a bucket with a lid and put the bat in and sealed it off. Then we had panini’s.
Disclaimer – My father is also one of the gentlest people I know, so as far as the bat-icide goes, let’s call it an isolated incident under duress. And the panini's were delicious.

Gallon of Water - Tom was outside cutting the grass. I was cooped up inside with two toddlers and a skanky kitchen floor. Filled the bucket with hot sudsy water, and the boys got their kid-mops. (Of course they have their own mops, we are freaks about the floor). Fearing they would get too much water on the floor if they had full-bucket-access (HA!) I tried to lift the bucket into the sink, when it slipped out of my hands. A gallon of water is a tremendous amount of a spill. The majority of it ran under my stove and into my pantry. Where I store a boatload of stuff, including quite a bit on the floor, in baskets and crates, which are not water proof. Let’s just leave it at this – you could eat off the floor under my stove now, and my kids learned two new words, neither of which was “Fudge!” or “Sugar!”.

Samples – I don’t want to drop $22 on a new hair product, or $60 on new perfume, just to find out later that I am just not that into it. Sephora and Nordstrom are both notoriously free with the samples, but not until AFTER the purchase, which is sort of the opposite of why samples are needed, right? When I make a purchase there, I don’t think twice about asking for samples of some of their other related stuff. But yesterday was all about window shopping and visual stimulation and waiting until pay day before buying anything other than gas, food or diapers. So I waited, sheepishly, for someone to wait on me. There I was, in all of my mini-van Mom glory, with two kids in the stroller and no visible purse or shopping bags to validate me as a prospective shopper, while around me swirled chic ladies weighed down with glitzy shopping bags and platinum cards, clearly out to do their part for the August Consumer Sales Figures. Let’s just say I was not part of the target demographic yesterday. But then, because I had to pee, and because my kids were starting to growl, I got real. Why do I let these over-lip-lined tweens and 20’s make me feel like a chump just because I want to try something before I buy it? It’s not like the samples come out of their paychecks, after all. So when the next black-clad chick with a name tag tried to swoop past me, I let stopped her dead with my “Mom in a Hurry” voice, and told her I needed samples of this, and this because I wasn’t buying them until I was sure I would like them. I think my candor caught her off guard because she not only ran to get me everything, she also threw in some of this and this too. I was so stoked by my loot, I didn’t even bother with Nordstrom.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Flush OFF!

I have been spared much of the unsolicited public assvice alot of other moms are subject to. Probably because I am a little older, and I tend to give off an air of control even though inside I am a writhing mess of anxiety.

And then the world decided it was time for MY boys to be potty trained.

The world decided, not me.

I know the potty thing was coming. They will be two and a half next month. And everyone else in my blog life is potty training. We have been taking the low key approach. Talking about who else uses the potty. Checking out “Big Boy Pants”. Checking out how the potty works. Hanging out with Mommy and Daddy while they use the potty. (Well Daddy, because Mommy is a princess and doesn’t need a potty. HA!) Sitting on the potty before bath time. Just sort of browsing the potty life.

But now, the world is putting on the squeeze. People at the grocery store have started following up the “How old are they?” question with “Are they potty training?” Family members have started inquiring about it, and worst of all are their daycare ladies, who are talking to me about it every day as if I am forgetting to dress them or feed them. (I know they have a vested interest in my boys depositing their morning loads into the toilet rather than into a diaper that they have to don a hazmat suit to change. I know, OK!)

Of course I want them to be potty trained. But I am not forcing the issue. My kids have developed on or before schedule all along. They walk, talk, dance, sing, throw balls, do puzzles, color, hug and kiss just fine. They are imaginative, bright, charming and inquisitive.

So attention world – Stop asking me personal questions about my kids excrement or I will ask you about your prostate exam or your feminine itching. Don’t slip me a “Potty with Elmo” video when I am trying to pry two kids off of me so I can get to work on time. Stop sighing when you see me lugging that case of Size 5 Huggies to my car and STOP making stupid jokes about how they will be wearing Depends to college.

(They aren't going to college without me anyway, so what business is of yours?)

If you keep this potty pressure up, I am afraid my boys will end up as anal-retentive, closeted, uptight, control freaks who think they can tell everyone else what to think.

Nobody puts Matt Baby in a corner.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

PC Crap Shoot

(CBS/AP) Officials at an Arizona school suspended a 13-year-old boy for sketching what looked like a gun, saying the action posed a threat to his classmates. "My son is a very good boy [who] doesn't get into trouble," the boy's mother, Paula Mosteller, told CBS affiliate KPHO correspondent Mary Valenzuela. "There was nothing on the paper that would signify that it was a threat of any form." "He was just basically doodling and not thinking a lot about it." The Chandler Unified School District declined to give more details about the incident. Spokesperson Terry Locke said in a statement, "Federal privacy law forbids the school or district from discussing student discipline."

So let me get this straight. This kid was a danger to his classmates, because he drew a picture of a gun? As if his mere doodling was enough to create an actual shooting?

I wonder if this kid and his magic pencil of fate can doodle me thin, and 10 years younger, sporting a Prada bag filled with a million dollars?

I'd homeschool him myself for that.

Channeling my Inner Mrs. Cunningham

Does it cheese anyone else off that they just ignored the existence of their oldest son Chuck after the first season?

Sometimes a girl just needs some comfort food, so here is a recipe. It takes like 10 minutes to assemble, then cooks for about an hour while you lounge about eating Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares and reading InStyle magazine while your husband and kids do the yard work.

Despite my banner, I am going to quote my Mother in Law with this great, easy, total comfort food recipe. I actually crossed the invisible anonymity line on Urban Baby yesterday when I sent this to a few people who asked for it.

(Hey, if you are one of those Urban Baby people, who found my blog via the email address, welcome, and please don’t out me on UB for being fat and middle class. Those rich, skinny moms will ban me for life, and then where will I get my inane Name Poll fix?!)

Swedish Meatballs. Ala MIL
(This feeds at least four adults, probably six. It fed four of us for two nights. I love leftovers)

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used 4C seasoned breadcrumbs, but whatever blows your skirt up)
1 egg
1 cup half and half (I KNOW!, but the meatballs are so tender)

1 large onion, sliced thin
1 can Beef Consume (Campbells, in the soup aisle)
1 T dried parsley
1 cup water.
1/4 c. flour

350 degree oven

Mix 1st four ingredients well, then form into small meatballs (walnut size I use a little ice cream scoop I got when I pimped Pampered Chef stuff years ago) and bake in 9x13 pan for about 25 minutes.

While they are baking, mix water, beef consumme and flour in very large saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until it starts to thicken (about 10 minutes or so, you will notice) then add onions and parsley and keep at low simmer until meatballs are done in oven.

Take meatballs out of oven and put them in the sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes on medium low heat. Serve over egg noodles. Enjoy!

Note to other multi-taskers, I doubled the meatballs and only used half for Swedish meatballs. I took the other half, formed the meatballs and froze them on a tray and then put them in a plastic freezer bag. I will use them this weekend in pasta sauce.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lady of the House

One of my boys has become quite taken with telling me who is “A Lady” and who is “A Man” and who is “A Baby” and who is “A Big Boy”. I will let you guess which one he thinks he is.

The older I get the more I realize that I should not judge. The whole not judging “until you have walked a mile in someone’s mocassins” thing has bit me on the ass, oh so very many times. I gag at the idea of someone else’s sweaty mocassins, therefore I am going to try for a WHOLE WEEK to not judge anyone.

No one, not even you, Mr. IP address from Great Britain who keeps coming here looking for “naked pregnant spanking pictures”. (Already this not judging thing is going to be harder than I thought you limey perv! Damn you!)

I have said before how parenting has brought me down so many notches. I wasn’t going to use pacifiers, and I was going to exclusively breastfeed, and we weren’t going to let our kids watch TV except for PBS, and I was never going to yell or swear, or have tons of plastic toys cluttering up my life. And now all I can say is ha, ha, HA! Because my kids have had to have their pacifiers confiscated and hidden in another zip code, I couldn’t breastfeed beyond 6 weeks, my kids are addicted to Playhouse Disney, I yell often, and I have considered using a (tasteful and elegant of course) dumpster for my daily gathering of small plastic crap that accumulates in the living room.

For anyone keeping score that means that the only thing I am still doing right is not swearing in front of the kids. Ahem

But aside from parenting, I was the worst “judger” about other people’s relationships. I watched how other couples worked and mentally listed all of the things I thought they did wrong, and the things I thought they did right, and over time I had a very definite mental list about what I thought was “Right” and what was “Wrong” with relationships and people in general. And then I got married, and realized how deep and thick the situation can be when there are real feelings and situations that don’t fit neatly into my tidy list.

Recently, one of my favorite bloggers, Kris at “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Wino” wrote a very thought-provoking piece on how difficult it can be to buy an anniversary card for a couple who doesn’t really fit all of the “so many wonderful years together!” mold of the average card shop stock. I really like reading Kris, she is single and smart and funny and provoking and everything I wish I was back when I was single and living in DC, so very many years ago in my previous life. The card purchase morphed into a reflection on people “settling” in a relationship. I loved reading the variety of responses in her comments, and of course had to chime in, as an old married chick. Here is what I said -

“everything you said, I used to say too, albeit not as artfully, before I got married. I waited and didn’t settle, and found my true soul mate when I was 29. Our first few months together I truly thought he had to be interrogating my best friends on the side, because he always knew JUST what to say and do to make me swoon. And now, after 10 years together and 7 years of marriage and 2 kids, he can still make me swoon, when he isn’t driving me crazy leaving his shoes in the kitchen or forgetting to get the oil changed before we leave on vacation. Marriage is a wonderful, awful arrangement. You get to have all of your partners best 24/7, but you also have to be man or woman enough to live and deal with the worst 24/7 too, and not scamper back to your sweet little apartment and cats and "space" when things get not so swoony delicious for a while. When you get married you lose alot of your ability to step back and figure things out because you are knee deep in it. I don’t have my own "corner" anymore, because I have to share it with him and the kids too. It is hard work every day to make it as wonderful as it is for my husband and me. When it is not so wonderful, I don’t wonder if I am "settling" or giving in to what is comfortable and easier, I wonder what I need to do to make it better. It's not just as easy as waiting until you think you found the perfect one who will not fail you, it’s also being willing to not fail them too, and to realize that ultimately you make your own happy life, even if you have to figure it out while you are knee deep in shoes and diapers.”

For seven years I was the worst judge of all of my marriage. I was constantly looking for what was wrong or imperfect and fighting it in some ridiculous internal cage match, always afraid that I was somehow “settling” somewhere.

I can now say that I wasted seven years.

Not on marriage (whew, had you there didn’t I?) I wasted years trying to fight what was already a very good thing, because I wanted to mold it into the pre-conceived notion I had of what my marriage and husband should be. Pre-conceived notions from years and years ago, before I had any idea of how my life would turn out. A few months ago I stopped being so hard on myself, as a mother, as a daughter, as a friend, and a wife. I stopped being my harshest critic, and that has opened me up to how great I really have it, and that has made all the difference.

Since Kris’s post, I have been thinking a lot about this whole notion of “settling” and I think the context is everything. There is a huge difference between “Settling” for less than you wanted for yourself, and “Settling in” for keeps. In sickness and health, For richer or for poorer. Yada yada yada.

(And while I do NOT underestimate the power of good yada yada yada, since my son thinks I am “A Lady’, I should probably stop there.)

Peace out, from Happy Valley.

Friday, August 17, 2007

So Good It Scares Me

Why is it that when things are going well, instead of coasting along on a boogie board of pink cotton candy, I instead have to turn it upside down and look for ants in the fluff?

I believe in karma and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. I have been doing well unto others (especially husband and children) and I have been trying to spread goodwill and peace unto others as I would have them spread unto me.

"Spread unto me" sounds dirty doesn't it?

So it would stand to reason that all of the good spreading would come to a pleasing fruition, on my end, no? That was, after all, my intention.

And as the last few weeks have been ones of great joy in my kids and my marriage and my life, I should be feeling full of warmth of karmic retribution.

So why do I find myself listening for that other shoe?

Is it just a habit, this fear of giving in to the joy? Or is is a sixth sense, like the one that tells me when a certain cry from my son is a "bad" cry as opposed to just a "mad" cry, from two floors away?

How do you learn (or re-learn) to revel?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Me Not Jane

I don’t get money or free stuff for saying this. Just a friendly consumer to blog reader product review.*

I love coffee. It gets me out of bed in the morning and the smell of it makes me swoon with anticipatory delight. If I shall ever have the misfortune of falling into a coma, please grind and brew a pot of La Colombe coffee next to my bed and I will snap out of it and demand fresh Half and Half and a very large mug.

We go through lots of coffee makers too. I don’t know why, but we average a new coffee maker about once every 12-18 months. I have worn out my eligibility for free Gevalia pots, so it was with great delight that I responded to an offer via my Urban Baby**
daily emails for a “free” Senseo coffee pot.

I say “free” because first you had to take a survey to see if you “qualified” for the “free” offer and then you had to pay $15 shipping (which is a crock but still better than paying the $65 retail price for the coffee pot). So I “qualified” and yesterday I got the pot. It comes with a pack of 16 Douwe Egberts coffee pods. I love Douwe Egberts coffee. It’s rich and strong and meaty, the way I like my men coffee.

This morning before I left the house I brewed a cup of it in my fancy new Senseo pot. As it was the first use of the pot, I initially had to fill the little water reservoir tank and run a clear cycle, which took less than 2 minutes. Then I refilled the reservoir with fresh, filtered water. The only time I am a snob about tap water is when I make coffee, otherwise our tap water is delicious. I popped in my Senseo pod and hit the button. In no time, it was done, but where was the coffee? Oh look there it is! All 1.5 inches of it, lost in the bottom of my standard size coffee MUG.

Apparently Senseo serving sizes are designed around those teeny little pretty teacups that Jane Austen liked. I am no Jane Austen.

I like my coffee in a big mug, and I like a minimum of 12 ounces. To start with. I brewed another “cup”, using another Senseo pod. From my pack of 16. So I am already two pods in and I haven’t filled my mug yet. Well, let’s taste. Oh sorry, I said “Taste”. TASTE. T A S T E !!!! Where was the taste??? OK, I know I like my coffee on the strong side, but this was only slightly darker than, and barely as flavorful as a cup of grocery store tea.

I noticed that I could use two pods if I liked a Stronger brew, so I dumped out the weak tea coffee and tried again with two new pods, got my 1.5 inches of stronger coffee, and then to get a decent cup worth, had to run through the whole process again with another two pods. And finally, 6 pods in, I got a small, but decent cup (not mug) of coffee.

Lets do the math. The retail price of 16 pods of coffee is about $4.99. I need four pods to get a decent cup of coffee. And I need at least two cups to get me out the door in the morning. So I will go through 8 pods each morning, to the tune of about $2.49. Which is 79 cents more than I would pay for a Starbucks grande coffee, at $1.70. Isn’t brewing my own coffee supposed to SAVE me money? Right now we save money by buying our Kirkland coffee in three pound cans from Costco and it costs about $7 a can. A can lasts us about a month (I am guessing. Tom is the coffee supply manager in our house). So what I am doing now, at roughly $7 a month plus the cost of tap water, gets me really good coffee. If I want a treat, I can hit Starbucks for $1.70 for an equally good cup, or I can be a damn fool and spend $2.50 a day on just OK coffee in a sexy Senseo pot.

I think the Senseo pot will be relegated to the bottom shelf of the pantry, to be pulled out for parties where someone needs decaf or tea. But if you like your coffee weak and served in tiny teacups, a la Jane Austen, I do have some $20 off coupons to use towards the purchase of a Senseo pot. Email me at with your address.

*I would totally do a product review for free stuff, but I don’t think I have the readership for that. But if your people want to talk to my people…

**I totally need to dish with someone about the Urban Baby message boards some time. Anyone??