Monday, March 29, 2010

Project 12 Rooms in 12 Months (alternate title: Get This $h!t Out of My House)

My best friend once told me, "Free your mind and the rest will follow."

Wait - that wasn't my bf, that was En Vogue.

Regardless (or as they say in the Nebraska, "irregardless" - which, by the way - has now officially become a word due to so many people misusing it. Kind of like the word ain't. Only worse. Because irregardless isn't just slang, it's a contradiction. Ummmmm...perhaps I should have punched the "tangent alert" button here).....

REGARDLESS! No offense to the ladies of En Vogue (or the Cornhusker state), but I think maybe they should have belted out, "Free the rest, and your mind will follow!"

Indeed, you can't pick up a magazine, turn on your tv or surf the interwebs without noticing at least "5 ways to: "declutter," "simplify," or "organize" something or other. I'll stop short of calling it a conspiracy, but clearly, Zen masters and hardcore capitalists alike have secretly aligned to

A) Help us rid our minds of overabundance.


2) Create a demand for high-salaried organizational experts, marketable D-I-Y "work zones" and overpriced containers (dammit, The Container Store, I wish I could quit you!).

With spring cleaning season in full swing, it's game on. Woman's Day has the ladies lingering in the linen closet while Cosmo shares how to prioritize your prophylactics. Family command stations are all the rage in busy households. And apparently there's more than one way to tackle your shelving shortage.

So, I can go two ways on this. I can free my mind, and hope the rest follows (cut to me poolside in a lounger, Jackie O. sunglasses and a large-brimmed hat, holding a margarita); OR, I can buy into this self-improvement, motivational crap and pick a project, hoping freeing myself of material mayhem will induce a state of peaceful bliss.

Any chance I can get the margarita and bliss in the same scenario? Don't mind if I do!

Because I love a challenge...especially one in which I can be held accountable, then blow off, then revamp in order to make it look like it was working for me the whole time - I will make a vow:

I solelmnly swear, to make a conscious, viable effort to declutter, simplify, and organize EVERY ROOM IN MY HOUSE.

That's right. I'm designating 12 areas as "rooms," and will tackle one a month for the next year. I will scrutinize every last piece of paper and unmatched sock in order to purge my packrat tendencies. I'm not a hoarder, by any means. I have given away countless bags of clothes to friends and neighbors, as well as piled clothing, household goods and even furniture onto trucks making the rounds for charity. But alas, The import/export ratio is off. One might think with all the moving around we've done, that we would travel lightly and be done with useless things. In theory, yeah, but with moving comes baggage. Literally. We won't even go there.

The truth is, my mind is in need of major decluttering. Who doesn't feel more peaceful when things are neat and orderly around them? The "organized chaos" I've been living in for the last ten years (okay, twenty) isn't working for me anymore. I want to look at less and feel more. Ooh! That's good. It deserves it's own line.

I want to look at less and feel more.

That's my goal.

Project "12 ROOMS IN 12 MONTHS" begins April 1, 2010. Anyone care to join me? Misery loves compa-- I mean, strength in numbers!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Your Lack of Planning Will Not Become My Emergency." Yeah, Right. Who Am I Kidding?

Friday afternoon, March 19

Me: Does anyone have any homework this weekend?

ZuZu: Me...I have a vocab packet.

Deuce: No.

MT: No.

Gorgeous, sunny weekend ensues. There are baseball practices and a lacrosse practice on Saturday. Sunday is church, cleaning out the garage, and hanging out in the 'hood.

Sunday night, March 21

Me: Does anyone have any homework to finish?

ZuZu: Done.

Deuce: No.

MT: No.

Monday night, March 22

Me: Does everyone have their homework done?

ZuZu: Yes.

Deuce: Yeah.

MT: Yes. (short pause) Mom, I think my tipi is due tomorrow.

Flashback scene:

MT: Mom, I have to make a Cheyenne tipi for a project.

Me: Oh, I remember when Deuce did that project two years ago. Too bad we didn't keep it. When's it due?

MT: Like, next month or something. Not for a long time.

Me: Okay, we'll work on it on the weekends.

End scene

Me: What?!? Tomorrow?!? What do you mean tomorrow?!?

MT: It's due the 24th.

Me: What's the date?!? {frantic eyes darting between older children} WHAT'S THE DATE?!?

ZuZu: It's the 22nd.

So, here's the thing about MT....he can procrastinate with the likes of congress, but the minute he processes that the deadline is upon us - he gets freaky frazzled and all wound up. (I don't know where he gets it). I quickly assess, and attempt to defuse the situation.

Me: Okay, MT, it's not due tomorrow, it's due Wednesday. I will get the materials for you tomorrow and you'll have to be ready to work on it all night. It'll be fun! No complaints. No getting tired before the project is done, okay?

MT: Okay.

Bedtime crisis averted. No break-down.

Tuesday, I head out for the fabric/craft store. I used to frequent these kinds of places alot. Back when I fancied myself artsy. The fruits of my labor resulted in some trendy kick-ass cigar box purses which paid for Christmas one year, and then just a bunch of crafty crap that took up waaaay to much space in my basement. Let it go, Woman. Let it go. I remain very focused, so as not to be tempted by the crack cocaine they are selling in the decorative scrapbook papers aisle. I grab some craft paint, some brown vinyl laces and I'm standing in the cutting line for a yard of pleather. Wow...this is a slooooow line. And really, we need a "take a turn" ticket now, like at the deli? There's plenty of room to form an orderly line. How many grannies got all gangsta with their calicos and fusible interfacing before JoAnn broke out the LED sign?

Next stop, the wholesale club. I had to pick up a few lunchbox items, some dry goods, toiletries (hey, that's a good price on razor blades), and most importantly - the perfect low-sided box to form a base for MT's tipi and painted river. $263 later, I'm good to go.

Damn, that was one expensive box.

I now have all the materials necessary to build one mean Cheyenne tipi. I meet the kids at home after school, and while they do their homework and MT hunts for sticks in the yard, I begin putting away the 700 bags of individual-sized Sun Chips and 450 giant rolls of Charmin (which is equivalent to over 1000 regular rolls...which is enough to wipe the arse of everyone in my neighborhood for three months. If the Farmer's Almanac is right, and we have another March blizzard, I've got us covered!!).

MT seems thrilled with all the materials, and we get down to business...him painting the blue river and green, cutting out the tipi. Me not so good at cutting out tipi. Took two tries. Whatev. MT paints some symbols on the "hide," and then becomes preoccupied with finding the buffalo that we had in his big brother's display. He's gone for fifteen minutes, and returns with two tigers, two giraffes, a leopard, a rhino, a zebra, a snake, a horse, and a polar bear. No buffalo.

Me: Okay, which of these animals might have actually roamed the Great Plains in the 1800's?

MT: They had horses.

Me: Then, what are all of these other guys doing here?

(MT shrugs shoulders and smiles. Clearly, he's hoping to be done before bedtime. That's my boy.)

The "hide" is dry, and I have MT hold it around the sticks while I tie the vinyl laces together at the top. We poke the legs into some old floral foam I found in the basement (Ha! I knew I would need those again one day), and the project is complete! Now, on to the "Explanation Paper." We find some kid-friendly websites with Cheyenne facts, and thanks to the size of MT's cursive writing, his two-sided double-spaced report is done in about eight sentences. He formed well-written, 3rd grade level sentences without breaking down once! I was so proud of him.

Me: All done! Good job, MT!

MT: (puts his arm around me) And they said we* couldn't do it.

Me: They? Who's they? Said we couldn't do what?

MT: Some guys at school said I couldn't get the project done in one night.

Me: First of all, it's nothing to brag about that you waited until the last day to do the whole project. And secondly, who are these guys. I'm taking names.

MT rattles off a bunch of 3rd graders. I pass the names on to Homeland Security. Haters.

Me: I am proud of you for working very hard all night.

MT: Thank you. Thank you for helping me.

Me: We're totally getting an "A."

MT: Yup.

MT grabs the African animals and the polar bear and heads upstairs to where his siblings are watching American Idol. I grab a glass of "table red" and sit back to admire our hard work.

Mommy and MT: 1
Organized and disciplined 3rd grade Haters: 0

Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it.

* "we" duly noted. I'm certain the naysayers quipped, "you can't do it in one day." But MT gave props to his momma for all her help.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm a member of the BBC (Bookless Book Club)

Twilight is "on demand" (cable-talk), New Moon just came out on DVD, and Eclipse is now running trailers all over the internet. If only Eclipse was in the theater (June 30, 2010 - mark your calendar, girls), we could call it the "Twilight Trifecta." Snub your noses, roll your eyes, spew your coffee if you must, but I AM a Twilight fan. There! I said it! It comes as no surprise to my Bookless Book Club (BBC) - indeed, they are the reason I fell into the vampire's lair.

Soon after moving into my new neighborhood (in my new city, in my new state, in my new region), I decided to start a neighborhood book club (neighborhood, because book club is synonymous with wine club, and the "walking home" option is a must). Everyone was "thumbs up" on the idea. It took awhile to pick a book and get it scheduled, but finally, a few months later, we were having our inaugural Book Club night. I think myself and three others (out of a dozen) actually read the selection. The gracious host did make the effort to purchase the book, but the cash register receipt being used as a bookmark never made it past the first chapter (note to hostess: it sometimes takes more than the first chapter to get to the meat of things).

Four months later we had a Christmas Book Club party (to celebrate all the great works we hadn't read). I brought a bagful of used books to hand out as "goodies," but again, there was more reading of wine labels than anything else that night. As we continued to partake of the vine, someone fancied herself a forward-thinker and made a suggestion:

"How about we watch a movie and then discuss IT at our next get-together?!?"

Inner dialogue: Hmmm...What shall it be....Pride & Prejudice? Atonement? Or something more current, Juno or The Time Traveler's Wife (by the way, snore), or Thank You For Smoking?

Forward-thinker blurts out: "Forgetting Sarah Marshall!!!"

What the - ?? Where do I live? Kappa Kappa Grammar?

The wine-soaked squealed with delight on something light-hearted and comical (not unlike ourselves). I began to wonder if any of the ladies could read anything other than a board book.

We never did see Forgetting Sarah Marshall as a group....although, Big Daddy and I watched it together. It was good for a few laughs, but neither of us felt compelled to delve into a probing discussion after. Just as well the BBC shelved it.

Summer came and went, but my hopes for a true book club, one in which books would be read and discussed, would not die. How could I convince these ladies to open something that wasn't a gossip magazine and had more than 34 pages?!? Hmmm....didn't I hear a couple of them discussing that tween series, Twilight over the summer?

Buffy: It's soo good.

Me: I don't do vampires.

Bella: It's not really about vampires like a horror story, it's more about true love and the gravitational pull to one's soul mate.

Me: Puke. Teen angst AND forbidden love. Even worse.

Seriously, people? Vampires? Eww. Pasty white. Suggestive biting. Fangs and blood. Not interested. But wait!!

I am a sucker (hee-hee, "sucker") for a great theme night. If I chose to host the next month's BBC, which was OCTOBER and all things HALLOWEENY, I could totally vamp it up. And so it was. I ordered wax fang lips from Oriental Trading Crap, stocked up on red wine, and had pomegranate martinis and bloody mary's on stand-by. All I had to do was read the book.

And READ I did!! Morning, noon and night! I totally fell for it. Hook, line, and sink my freakin' teeth into it! A week later, I was on to New Moon, which admittingly, was a bit of a disappointment. Not only because I was firmly planted in Team Edward at this point, but also because Bella perfected her P.I.T.A. * status. Seriously? She figured out Edward was a vampire in two days, but it took her nearly 300 pages to remember the werewolf tale Jacob had told her? Come on Bella (and Stephanie Meyer), you're smarter than that.

Not that it stopped me from digging into Eclipse! Who could resist the youthful, loyal like a puppy (obvi, duh! descendant of the wolf) Jacob Black. Not unlike many of you (and you know who you are), I'm starting to take to him a little more. I'm sure it's because of the deeper character study as he narrates half the book and has nothing to do with the shirtless Taylor Lautner plastered all over the wonderful world of marketing.

Speaking of shirtless (then) minors...Big Daddy doesn't like me elaborating on the boys of Twilight, although I continue to assure him that slight swoons and minor drools are nothing to be threatened by. The truth is, Big Daddy is the best of Team Edward and Team Jacob all wrapped up into one perfect package. He's a Renaissance man like Eddie, able to quote lines and lines of literature (and by literature, I mean movies) and possessing more than a superficial amount of intelligence in the area of science (his paper airplanes continue to amaze me and the kids). He's also hot-blooded like Jake (letting me put my cold feet on his long calves every night when I crawl into bed) and completely loyal (I'm not as pathetic as Bella, but I do have one or two character flaws that Big Daddy continues to overlook and loves me in spite of). Who needs the "just crawled out of bed 'do" and the 12-pack abs?!? I'm Team Big Daddy all the way!

To conclude, the BBC did come prepared for a discussion on Twilight. At that point, I had not yet read the final book (was only able to squeeze in first three in the month before the meeting) - so most of them were ahead of me on the material. Later that fall, we showed book club solidarity as we went to see New Moon in the theater (begrudgingly, they even took a photo in the theater lobby with our wax fangs in, but they'd die if I posted it), and I'm sure we'll be there for Eclipse in full strength this summer.

It's been five months since our last BBC wine tasting. As much as I long for a real book club as opposed to the bookless variety I belong to, I wouldn't trade these neighbors for anything. The gossip-rag reading, let-your-dog-out-while-you're-gone, meals-on-wheels for those in need, let's-order-pizza-on-the-deck, watch-my-kids-in-your-backyard kinda crew I live amongst beats "The Jane Austen Book Club" any day of the week and twice on grill-out Sunday.

End of Story.
*Pain In The Ass

Friday, March 19, 2010

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: The Story of the Twelve Cents

What a g-o-r-jus day today! All sunshiney and spring-like. The kind of day that you drive around with the windows down and the music blaring. The kind of day where after a Zumba class, one might decide on a refreshing iced coffee. Don't mind if I do!

I pull into the McDonald's drive-thru because:

A) The Starbuck's doesn't have a drive-thru


2) I'd rather pay $2 for a 4-gallon iced coffee than $20 for a 4-ounce iced cafe

So, I order my "large, don't give me that sugar-free french vanilla crap I'll take hazelnut," and the talking box says:

"That'll be $2.12, please pull around to the first window."

Ha! twelve cents.....that brings back a funny memory. The kind of funny memory that is only funny long after the event actually took place. So here it first "Flashback Friday."

One late summer morning in 2001, I suddenly woke to the sounds of a child gasping, coughing, crying....choking??? I sprung out of bed (I could spring back then) and ran to Deuce's room - the source of the frightening sounds.

Me: Deuce?!? You okay? What's a matter? You okay?

Deuce: (wheezy cough, tired crying) Oooowww.

At this point, he's doing a Tom Hanks in "Big" impression. You know the one. Where he's just eaten some grown-up hors d'oeuvres and has to spit it out .

Me: Did you swallow something? *

Deuce: (gasping) Yeah. (cough, hack, cough)

Me: What? What did you swallow?!?

Deuce: Money.

Me: Money?? What money?

Deuce: (whine, cry) Big money.

Me: Big money? Where did you get big money? And why are you holding out on Big Mama?

More crying

Me: Okay, okay. You're okay. Can you breathe?

(I do a quick survey and realize he's still just pinkish red, not suffocating blue, so I'm losing my panic. Now I'm more puzzled).

Me: What kind of big money, sweetie? You mean like a quarter? A 50-cent piece? Or big like value and less like size? Like a Susan B. Anthony, perhaps? Was it a gold-foiled chocolate coin?!? Cause that makes more sense. The smell of chocolate induces sleep-eating for me, too. It could totally run in the family.

This is where I lose the 2 1/2 year old. I show him all sorts of coins, but nothing jogs his memory. Nor can he tell me where he found "big money" at 6:30 in the morning.

Inner dialogue: Hmmmmm....I suppose I better call the doctor about this, seeing how this is just my third year being a parent and I still really have no idea what the hell I'm doing.

Ring! Ring!

Lady: Hello, Dr. Stupidparents' office.
Me: Hi, I think my son swallowed big money at 6:30 this morning.....

10:30am: I'm at Dr. Stupidparents' office telling him how things went down. Of course, to be on the safe side, he suggests a chest x-ray. Can't have big money rattling around in a 2-year olds lungs. How would we ever get him through a metal detector at the airport. Oh! And there's that whole, "he could eventually die, thing."

11:30am: We're in the ER, waiting for an x-ray. Our "take a number" ticket falls somewhere between the guy bleeding through a kitchen towel and a young kid on crutches. Finally, we're in...x-rays are done...and shortly thereafter, a super-fine ER doctor comes in to break the news to me.

George Clooney: There's nothing there.

Me: There's nothing there, like, his lungs are clear, but the coins are in his stomach?

George: No, there's nothing metal anywhere. Nothing foreign anywhere. He didn't swallow anything.

Me: So he's not going to die.

George: Not today.

Me: I'm gonna kill him.

You might think that that's the end of the story. But I haven't gotten to the twelve cents yet. Keep reading....

A couple of months after this first incident, Deuce did, indeed, swallow money. It was confirmed by someone around him at the time. Luckily, it was more of a tattletale moment than a medical emergency.

Me: Why did you swallow money?
Deuce: I didn't mean to. I had it in my mouth.
Me: Get a wallet! What kind of money?
Deuce: A quarter.

Ring! Ring!

Lady: Hello, Dr. Stupidparents' office.
Me: I think my son swallowed a quarter.

Later that day.....

Me: Do we need to do an x-ray again? Is it safe? What if he starts glowing in the dark?

Dr. Stupidparents: If you feel it's necessary, he can safely have another x-ray. I've listened to his lungs, and everything seems okay. I suspect the quarter will be coming out the other end within a day or two and he will be fine.

Me: Do I need to look for it? To make sure?

Dr. Stupidparents: If you want confirmation, that's up to you. I would consider that cruel and unusual punishment. Although, a quarter in the diaper might be pretty obvious.

Two days later, Big Daddy is changing Deuce's diaper.

Big Daddy: Mommy! Come look.
Me: What? Did you find the prize in the Cracker Jack box? Seriously, did you find the quarter?

I hold my breath and survey the specimen.

What the - ?!?


Me: Either he has no idea what a quarter is, or this miser is making change.

Big Daddy: Do they still have circus sideshows?

And that, my friends, is the story of the twelve cents.


* the power of suggestive thinking

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Top of the Mornin' to Ya!

Erin Go Bragh!
Shiver me Timbers! - wait, that's not right.....


If there's one thing I've learned being married to a Polish guy, who's mother is Scottish which is close enough to the Irish, it's this:

Everyone is Irish on St. Patty's Day!

It's true. I grew up in a town in which the Amish to Irish ratio was 1000:1. In fact, that was pretty much the population of the whole town, 1001, but on St. Patrick's Day, we all wore green. Even the little Amish girls. They would sport their mint green dresses to school, straight pinned at the seams, and Lord knows what underneath!

Speaking of pins, Big Daddy tells the story of how every year, his mother would pin a paper shamrock with "Firstname O'Blahblahski" to his (and his five siblings) shirt(s) and send them off to school. Because Polish jokes were so rampant in the 1970's/80's, he considered it salt in the wound (Big Daddy is now very proud of his Polish heritage, thanks greatly to John Paul II).

Today, I sent in 24 baggies of green grapes and 24 baggies of
rice krispie treats, made instead, with fruity pebbles representing a chunk of the rainbow. Get it? Rainbows....leprachauns....pot'o gold......??? Kind of a stretch, I know. This is my third kid, and I'm only "Eastern European Fake-Irish" (married to the Pole-Scot-Irishman); I can't possibly compete with the "irish potato" candies being made by the Duffys' and the Flanagans' and the O'Briens'.

I AM Irish enough for a bit'o green beer and some "bangers and mash" (meat and potatoes), which I shall enjoy this evening with friends. The sun is shining, spring has sprung, and on that note, I leave you with this Irish blessing.....

May those who love us, love us
And those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts
And if he can't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping!

Monday, March 15, 2010

RIP, Rox. 2003-2010

No more excited barks as I enter my house, welcoming me home from the grocery store or a Zumba class. No more pitter-patter underfoot as I cook dinner, slurping up spilled wine and spaghetti sauce. No more furry, living and breathing throw pillow on my bed, burrowing under the covers at night and resting in the crook of my knees. My freakin' dog is gone. I took him to the vet last Friday morning, and he never came home. Rox has moved on to doggy heaven.

Because I've shared so much about Rox in the few shorts weeks I've been a blogger, I feel compelled to share his last chapter.....

A month ago, Rox had surgery to remove kidney stones. The doctor did the best she could with the mess inside, but it was a rough recovery, and as we now know, he never did truly recuperate (Read post from 2/24 for full synopsis). After being in and out all day last Thursday, I noticed around dinner time that Rox was not acting normal. When I let him out to do his business, I watched closely to make sure all was good there. It wasn't, and immediately I had flashbacks. Can he really have kidney stones again? Already? After being on his special diet? What's a doggy-mom to do? I was prepared to call the vet in the morning. By 9pm that night, the poor guy was pacing and trying to lay down in the oddest of places. Never able to get comfortable, he would whine, cry, and make all sorts of terrible, painful noises. I called the vet's office, hoping to leave a message and hear from someone over night. Never did. By 4am, Rox either finally fell asleep, or just didn't have anything left for complaining. He was quiet for a few hours, laying under my bed (which he only does when he's in trouble or not feeling well). I called the vet and she had me bring him in.

I really felt in my gut that this was it. He looked so sick and tired. I remembered how difficult the previous surgery and recovery was for him, and wondered if going through it all again was even humane. The doctor looked at him, and I could tell in her kind eyes that she was fearful of the same thing. We talked, and her suggestion was to put him under, take a look inside, and if things looked bad, we let the poor dog go. I questioned her about letting the kids come in after school, or me coming back to be with Rox as he slipped away, but she explained that there would be no reason to bring him out of the anesthesia if it was his time. Through my tears (and face contortions), I told her I understood.

How does this lady do this everyday? Tell people when it's time to let go? I'm the one who refers to her pet as "freakin' dog" and makes fun of people who put pics of their animals in frames on their desks (you know the ones, sans kids). I never referred to, or considered my dog my "fourth child." And yet, here I am, bawling my eyes out at the thought of losing him. I needed to call Big Daddy for backup and comfort. I called his office and explained the sit(uation). I told him I would put him on speaker phone so Rox could hear him. After the longest pause ever....Big Daddy choked out his goodbye. I spent the next five minutes holding my baby, hugging him, telling him what a good doggie he was and how much we loved him. I also told him that he had lived a good life, and if he needed to, he could leave us now and rest. It's weird. I remember telling my grandpa the same thing years ago as he slept in his hospital bed. It was the last time I saw him alive, too.

I was in my kids' school gym, setting up decorations for the next night's big fundraising event when I got the call. Doc informed me about ill-placed scar tissue, the risk of infection, etc., etc. I thanked her for all she had done, and told her to proceed with the most humane decision. She said she was glad we took the time to look, so we knew without a doubt, it was indeed the best thing for Rox. I hung up my cell, walked into a backstage closet, and again, bawled my eyes out.

Big Daddy came home early to help me break the news to the kids. I won't go into too much detail here. Of course, they were very upset and there were more tears. MT blinked back his tears, and quickly assumed the role of "cheer everyone up" guy for the rest of the night. I didn't realize how strong he is. I have forbidden any and all books, movies, and tv specials having to do with dogs for the time being. I think Hong Kong Phooey would be too much for us right now - Marley & Me (currently playing on HBO) would surely send us into hysterics.

Sunday, the decorating committee again called me to the school gym - this time for clean-up. I spent two and a half hours undoing everything we had done over the last two months. Exhausted, both mentally and physically, I walk in the house (ungreeted) and find not much has been done since I left. I'm wondering why cereal boxes and bowls are still sitting on the table when it's lunchtime. ZuZu pops into view and begins talking in her really high "I'm excited" voice:

ZuZu: Mom, I cleaned my room! Come look. It's totally organized!

(she emphasizes this word, knowing how happy the thought of it makes me).

Me: Okay, let me just have a bite of this tomato pie. I'm starving! Did you guys have cereal for lunch?

ZuZu: No. But Mom, come see my room. Nobody else can see it until you see it.

Me: Okay, okay. I'm excited to see, just give me a minute to throw this in the oven. (translation: I just spent over two hours pouring out old, stale beer and disassembling centerpieces. Not really interested in your sock drawer right this minute).

I'm standing outside her door, and ZuZu makes me close my eyes. She tugs on my hands as we walk into her room, over her shaggy rug, and onto the other side of the room. This is far away from her sock drawer. What gives?

ZuZu: Okay, open your eyes!

Me: What the - ?!?

Freakin' hamster.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Feelin' the Love (of the modern-day chain letter)

Oscars, Schmoskers, I just received a "Sunshine Blog Award." Eat your heart out, George! Here is my acceptance speech, placed on the blog of my dear friend and mentor, Julie, the wife.....

"Sweeeet! I'm so honored to accept this...honor! Hold on, I just bought the perfect dress for this occassion on ebay...(befits herself in lavender gown with cabbage rose detailing on breasts). I'd like to thank Julie, the Wife, who was very supportive when I told her I wanted to enter the world of blogging, by saying, "put your big girl panties on and do it already!" I'd also like to thank those who quickly began following me, offering just the right amount of encourageme-" (bumrushed by Elinor Burkett...cue the music)

The Sunshine Blog Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blog world. The rules for accepting the award are:

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
2. Pass the award to 5 bloggers.
3. Link the nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.
6. Share 5 things about yourself

Considering my newbie status in the world of bloggers, passing on this most dubious award is somewhat of a challenge. I wasn't a blog-reader prior to being a blog-writer. It was actually less than a month ago that I stepped into this cyberspace arena, and I have to say, it's a bit incestual. Thus, my first award goes to....

1. Wendy,
No fair. Julie added Wendy as her 6th awardee. And since she was my first follower that didn't know the sound of my voice, I must list her! Her smile is sunshine stretched sideways and her words, whether on her blog or in my comments brighten my day.

2. sweatpantsmom,
Granted, she knows not who I am, but I found her on Julie the Wife's list of blogs and I heart her. I don't know exactly who she works (worked) for, but I live vicariously through her professional experiences. Toss in a side of homelife and whatever she's sellin', I'm buyin'.

3. Brenda,
B and I go waaaay back. Back before there was internet. Okay, not that far, but before there was PC internet connection in our tiny little Indiana towns. We've reconnected on Facebook over the last year, and have provided each other with some truth serum and girl power to get us through this crazy thing called life. Thanks, B.

Another friend from long ago, reconnected on this social networking stage. One part sarcasm, one part cynicism and 2 parts, "seriously, who lives like this?" She writes when she can't not write. Thanks for sharing.

5. Uummmmm.....I suck. How unsunshiney of me to not be able to hand out another Sunshine Blog Award. If only I had another week or two to peruse the interwebs. Screw it, I gotta busy day...gotta move on.

Again, must offer the incestual link love for Julie, the Wife:

A Day in the Wife,
As mentioned in my acceptance speech, Julie was my go-to-girl when I decided to type, proof, and publish. She offered nothing but encouragement and has graciously given me much needed advice (and plugs).

I feel that I'm an open book, and "about me" has already been stated. What other "about me" can I possibly come up with in ten minutes????

1. I decided I wanted to write a blog before I had ever read one.

2. I decided I wanted to be a Zumba instructor before I ever took a Zumba class.

3. I'm really good at a lot of things, but not stellar at anything. I thought being a parent would be my shining accomplishment. I continue to just be really good at a lot of things.

4. I obviously don't know how to correctly "link" others' posts.

5. Ummmmm.....I'm thankful Julie gave me something to write about today. But embarrassed at how little I have to say. My mind is elsewhere, but I did want to take the time to give my "sunny shout-outs."

Hope someone "blows sunshine up your arse today," (as Julie did mine), because it does seem to be contagious. It's like that insurance commercial where someone does something nice for someone (like saves them from being squashed by towering crates of produce, and then they pass it on by motioning a car to stop before they back into a little old lady, etc., etc.). Maybe if you let someone in an obvious, flustered hurry this morning cut in front of you in line at Starbucks, the barrista will find a way to resolve peace in the middle east.

Peace out, Sunshine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Cleaning....So to Speak

First sign of spring: heavy highlights!

Me: Color me, blonde, BEatch!

Stylist: It's Redken 8N and 7NA, also known as "sesame" and "mirage"...and don't call me BEatch.

When will I learn not to mess with people who can turn me into Carrot Top.

I'm in a frisky mood today. The sun is shining and the thermometer is nearing the 60-degree mark. Spring has sprung, my friends, and it's time to prepare ourselves for the warm weather, just as we would our homes and lawns. It's time to prune, trim, and plant. Or in our case, wax & tweeze, snip & paint, highlight & tan.

Next up, pruning the eyebrows (so as to look less like Bobby Knight). I used to get this taken care of at the salon very routinely, but two moves ago, my stylist didn't offer it, so I fell off the wagon. I will admit to breaking down on more than one occasion and having a quick "wax & go" done at a fly-by-night, Vietnamese, strip mall nail salon, but not without great anxiety. I know if I push my luck there too many times, I'm bound to one day walk out looking like a geisha.

Yes, I'm quite aware that I'm mixing cultures, but it's hard to shake this image from my head when the little ladies are just smiling and nodding without any true indication that they know what the hell I'm talking about.

I do, however, trust Thuy (pronounced Twee', which is what MT calls those big things in our yard that grow leaves in the spring) to deliver a mean French pedicure. I begin growing my toenails out after New Year's Eve in order to provide a nice starting point with which to sculpt ( March, my toenails are absurdly long so Thuy can snip and file into the perfect length for the french pedi). And let me tell you, that is the way to get your money's worth (all $20 plus tip) - Frencho pedo. I'm able to touch up my tootsies from spring through the 4th of July. I really am a low-maintenance kinda girl. But sandal-ready is a must well before Memorial Day. Am I right, ladies?

So, we've covered "pruning" and "trimming," * now on to planting....

The highlights are here, but you know what looks great with highlights? A tan. Next up on my to-do list - find a dermatologist. Need to make sure all the new moles and freckles that have congregated on my body over the dark days of winter aren't malignant, so I can promptly buy my Fake & Bake package and soak in the Vitamin D. Nothing says "sun-kissed" better than raccoon eyes created by tanning bed goggles.

Spring is also the season to spruce up your color palette, i.e. clothes and make-up. I'll be stashing away my favorite boots (noooooo!) and pulling out pink and green from the depths of my closet. I might even stop at the Walgreen's on the way to the gym today and purchase a new lipstick. "Living the dream," that's me.

So, to recap:

Bodies need a spring cleaning, just like yards.
We can pay people to do both (Thanks, Thuy and BEa- Pretty Stylist).
Skin cancer is bad, but so is a pasty lady in a bathing suit.
Mocha fat is prettier than vanilla fat.
It's my dad's birthday!
Julie, the Wife will certainly share a bushwhacking story on my comments.


* HAPPY BIRTHDAY, "SOME OLD GUY!!" DON'T BOTHER READING BELOW THE LINE! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! LOVE YOU!!!!__________________________________________________
I am completely aware that certain members of the panel (followers) are just waiting to comment with "what about trimming the bushes?!?" First of all, let me just say that my father reads my blog, and today is his birthday. Since his present amounts to the 2010 snapfish calendar I forgot to pack at Christmas (and is now three months late), I thought I would also be respectful and prevent a premature heart attack. Also...since I am not scheduled for a spring break trip, it's completely too early to be worried about the hedges.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

And the Oscar goes to........

It's that time of year again, people. The night when Hollywood pulls out the pomp and pretense, pats themselves on the back and says, "You like really like me." So here I am, wine on the bedside table, laptop in lap, ready for them to entertain me. Big Daddy wants no part of this. If you want to get Big Daddy riled up, ask him what he thinks of Robert Downey, Jr. Or Tim Robbins. Or Bette Midler. Or pretty much, anyone within a 100-mile radius of L.A. But prepare yourself. There will be expletives. I, on the other hand, am able to separate celebrities annoying off-screen antics from their craft. Take Alec Baldwin, for example. I'd probably feel like pulling a Three Stooges double-eye poke on him if I ran into him at Starbuck's, but his comedic timing is priceless. He makes me LOL and LMAO. The kids are on their way to bed - they stop in to say goodnight. Robin Williams is on the tele....

ZuZu: Who's that?
Big Daddy: He's an idiot.
Me: Daddy! He is not an idiot. That's Mork, kids. He's a friendly alien that wears rainbow suspenders.
Look of confusion on kids faces as they glance at Big Daddy for verification.
Big Daddy: That's true. And I shouldn't have called him an idiot.
Me: Now, go to bed.
ZuZu: Tell us if Sandra Bullock wins.
Me: Will do....but don't count on it. Before Blind Side there was Miss Congeniality 2 and The Lake House.
Another shot of confusion. They decide to give up and go to bed.

So, allow me to back it up. The night started with a great song and dance number with Neil Patrick Harris, who I adore, but was simply there to introduce the host duo, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. There's five minutes the producers will wish they had at the end of the show. Okay? Moving right along.....

Martin & Baldwin could be a modern day Abbott & Costello. Or maybe, Laurel & Hardy. Smothers' brothers? The chemistry is there, and when prodded with the cattle iron, Alec accepts the role of straight man with "grace." I enjoyed these two throughout the night. Kudos, on this one, producers.

Worth noting - the John Hughes tribute. Cheesy, and slow, yes. But I could have watched clip after clip of the many movies that personified adolescence in the '80s. Hughes' movies were instant classics, which is pretty much the way we viewed our own lives. We saw ourselves as the fearless Ferris, the overlooked Sam, and certainly we all had a Ducky in our lives. Quick question though - when did Molly Ringwald become a drag queen?!?

Also, A+ for the "Best Original Score" dance sequence. I fancy myself as a (former) dancer, and was more than impressed with the choreography, and the League of Extraordinary Dancers. As my niece would say, AH-Mazing!

There was also the "'ode to horror" montage, segued by Twilight series star Kri-... Kri-... um... - 'sten arm twitch um - Kristen - St -... um -... scratch head - Stew -... painful, confused glance Stewart. What is the matter with that girl? She came out looking like a million bucks, and I thought she was going to show me a little something for once, and the next thing you know, she's coughing a non-existent phlegm pocket over her shoulder and reaching across her head, possibly trying to adjust a hat that she's not wearing?!? Seriously, Kristen, are you getting enough oxygen to the brain? Maybe you could use some carbs. Or if it's protein you're looking for, why don't you take a bite out of that hunky Taylor Lautner on your right (who is now legal, by the way, ladies. our inappropriate, secret thoughts are now slightly less repulsive).

Since we're on that wavelength, let's take note of more strange and misguided happenings. Did you see the highly unscripted happenings during "Best Documentary short?" An African-American man runs down from the back of the auditorium and starts an emotional speech and gets bumrushed by a red-headed Jew from Jersey. Damn, Yetta - let a brother have his day! And then there was Ben Stiller, once again, willing to humiliate himself for a little cheap humor. Taking one for the team. Dressed as one of those blue guys from Avatar, he poked a little fun at James Cameron and freaked me out with some freak-ass contacts. Why must Stiller always report to the award shows in costume?

Okay, on to more important things. Let's discuss some of the winners.

Once again, a woman wins an award for making herself as homely as possible. Mo'Nique's name was called for "Best Supporting Actress" for her role in Precious, and Mama enjoyed her walk up to that stage, sauntering in her sapphire gown. She kinda called out the academy, thanking them for deciding to choose the work over the politics. The bite in her acceptance speech had me wondering if she was thankful or pissed. No question, she was passionate. Go'Mo!

Give it up for a female finally winning "Best Director." Kathryn Bigelow was obviously, humbly stunned. Of course, she dedicated the award to the men and women of the military who are abroad protecting us. I had hoped to rent 'The Hurt Locker' prior to the awards due to all the Oscar buzz, but my go-to rental spot, the $1 RedBox was always "sold-out." I'll be damned if I'm gonna drive all over town looking for a Blockbuster that hasn't "went out," OR pay $4.99 on Comcast's 'On Demand.' I'll tell ya what I demand....A BREAK! A break from the ridiculous amounts that company charges for cable services. Back to the Oscars....of course, we know 'Hurt Locker' went on to win "Best Pic," so kudos again to the academy for picking substance over politics. It is my fairly uninformed understanding that the film does it's best to show a story without having a left or right slant. Perhaps Hollywood should take note. And Washington.

The last "winner" I want to mention is Sandra Bullock for "Best Lead Actress." For those of you who haven't seen 'The Blind Side' AND seen interviews with the woman that Bullock portrayed, it may be a hard sell. But I gotta tell ya, it's the one movie on this list I DID see, and she nailed it (Oh - I did see Meryl Streep as Julia Childs and I thought she completely channeled her, too, but she wasn't as endearing as Sandra in her movie). I'm not saying none of those other ladies deserved it I'm saying, SO DID SANDRA. Especially, considering the crap the movie took for showing "yet another white family coming to the rescue of a black kid." Really? I'm sorry, how can anyone take issue with the storyline - it was a TRUE STORY. Like it or not, it happened - pretty much the way the film portrayed (except for the lack of natural football talent Michael Oher obviously posessed from the beginning). Kudos again to the academy for looking at the performance and not underlying themes that aren't there.

Lastly, let's take a quick look at best and worst dressed, shall we? Join me as we take a stroll "gowntown....."

How about the placement of those cabbage roses on Cameron Diaz's gown? EEEHH. Wrong answer, CD.

Poor Tina Fey, I love you so. I love you for being a strong, female comedian that isn't Janeane Garofalo. But the lopsided black gown made it appear that your girls were resting on the 50-yard line. Cue Ludacris and the chipmunks, "How low can you go?!?" Are you still nursing that toddler or do you not understand the concept of push-up bra? You'll see what I'm talking about when you check it out on DVR. You'll be writing lines much better than these.

Now Sigourney Weaver pulled off the one shoulder look. Pretty sharp in her red, asymetrical gown with a crisp black belt. I'm thinking it was actually from her martial arts collection (she could so kick those aliens' ass again).

Speaking of aliens, was there one trying to escape from JLo's dress? What the - ?!?

Many will disagree with me, but I thought SJP looked like a Greek Goddess. Stunning! Of course she had the honor of awarding "best costume design." Her SITC days taught her well. She will always be a "Most Daring, Best Dressed and Tressed." Brava!

I think all of the "Best Actress" nominees did a fine job accepting free, designer gowns for the evening's event. A special nod for newbies Anna Kendrick and Carey Mulligan. I'm awarding your efforts with a "thumbs-up with the okay" - the universal sign of appreciation (that's high rewards where I come from). But, back to the presenters - the ones who were making grand entrances from the wings.....

Queen Latifah looked fiiiine. So classy, poised and polished - but in a real, not staged way (plus-sized means there's more to love). Demi Moore rocked her classic Hollywood look. Nicely played, Cougar-tamer. And here's a better shout-out for the female funny girls - Elizabeth Banks was a vision in a purplish-grey number.

All in all, the night seemed to go off fine with little surprises. Avatar won for what it was "Art Direction" and "Cinematography." Single performances won out versus overall content of said film ('ski children cheering in the background for the mom in 'Blind Side' - the only movie they saw in the theatre this year other than 'Up.') Intense 'Hurt Locker' took "Director" and "Film." 'Precious' for "Adapted Screenplay" (I'll be boxing out at the RedBox to rent that this weekend). The only big loser of the night seemed to be 'Up in the Air.' Hmm. Sorry, George.

Big Daddy?!? Is that you chuckling back there?!?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Writer's Block? So soon?

So, it's Friday.

Didn't I just start a blog two weeks ago and set a goal to post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? I didn't profess it on the site, because I wouldn't want anyone to be able to call me on it. But I know I promised myself thrice a week posts. And I believe I mentioned it to a few others (in order to hold myself accountable).

Didn't I proclaim that not only did I feel the urge or the desire to write, but that I felt compelled to write? Yes, yes I did. I did basically say that. I think I got that point across in the 'Butt Look Big?" entry.

Today, not so much. Today was a busy day. Today I had conversations with people face to face, versus in cyberspace. Today was, literarily speaking, an uninspired day. It was a good day, but not a good blogging day.

And yet, here it is. A blog, basically about nothing. My Seinfeld blogalogue. Squeaking in, under the wire. I'm making good on my promise. This is Friday's blog. Do with it what you will.

Monday is just around the corner. We'll call it, "Redemption Monday." Because setting the bar higher seems like a great idea for the busy, uninspired beginner blogger.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why can't ZuZu want a Zhu-Zhu?

We have a problem. ZuZu wants a gerbil. After everything we've been through with Rox recently, I can't believe she's even considering bringing another member of the animal kingdom into our abode. For a couple of years, she wanted a turtle. I don't know where that infatuation came from. Maybe the comcast commercial. I admit, even I was a bit enamored with Bill Slowsky. But that's because he was a talking turtle with a dry sense of humor. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were kinda cool, too. But again, not real. Real turtles don't talk, and they don't wear primary-colored masks. How much fun and joy could a non-talking, non-ninja pet turtle really bring a pre-teen girl? Luckily, we were able to stave off that ridiculous request.

But now, she's serious. She ain't playin', people. She's keeping up with chores. She's babysitting in the neighborhood and saving her own money. She's researching online. AAAND....she has persuaded Big Daddy that it is time for her to have her own little pet.

So why am I not on board with the gerbil request? Cold hard fact. A gerbil is a member of the rodent family. I don't do rodents. I can handle bugs and spiders the size of a softball. But I do not do rodents. They are rabies-infested, buck-tooth, squeaky, squirmy disease puffs. And they're tails are nasty. It may sound like I'm describing a mouse, not a cute little gerbil.

I give you, Exhibit A:

Now what the hell difference is it whether you call that little rodent a mouse or a gerbil? It's not cute.

Let me guess, you were expecting something more like this?

Oh sure, at first glance he looks adorble. But stare into those beady little eyes and imagine those whiskers twitching with a purpose. Can you REALLY trust his intentions?

Remember how I said their tails were nasty? Common reason people are turned off by gerbils as pets is their long, scary tails. So, the breeders have remedied this by creating a variety of "fat-tailed gerbils."

Four words: HELL TO THE NO!!

Alright, two can play at this game. I did a little research myself. I went straight to the source for slackers (wikipedia) and found out some interesting facts I'd like to share. Did you know that not unlike our friends across the pond, gerbils are known for having poor teeth. It seems misalignment of the incisors due to injury or malnutrition is somewhat common, and can cause the fangs to grow extra-large. If this is a problem for your gerbil, you're expected to have them regularly clipped by a vet for as long as you both shall live. Shagedelic, baby.

Guess what else. It seems another common problem for our creepy creature is neglect. So not only are they creepy, they're needy. Not really looking for a high-maintenance rodent right now. Got my own issues. What happens to a neglected gerbil? They lose their appetite, which in turn causes serious health concerns including dehydration, starvation, stomach ulcers, eating of bedding material, and cannibalism. That's right. A neglected gerbil will gnaw my daughter to death until there is nothing left of her. And I will know it is my fault for allowing a rodent in our house.

You think I'm being irrational, don't you? How about this little fun fact on the fur ball. Between 20 and 50-percent of all pet gerbils have epilepsy. Won't that be fun watching Mr. Whiskers have seizures when handled too much or stressed about his new aspen shavings? I'll give ya aspen shavings you little -

I'll spare you the info on tail-sloughing and Tyzzer's disease and skip straight to the tumors. That's right, apparently tumors, both benign and malignant, are also fairly common amongst pet gerbils. But not to worry, your friendly, neighborhood veterinarian will be able to operate on the lump. Remember the last time my pet went under the knife? See previous post, 'How My Male Dog Acquired a Va-Jay-Jay.' Don't say I didn't warn you, fuzzball!

All of this ranting and raving over a little rodent may seem a bit dramatic to you, but I truly can't stand this genera. They give me the heebie-jeebies. I can't pinpoint an exact incident in which I decided that they were sent from the devil, but I do have an interesting story to share:

Years ago, the kids and I went to visit my parents for the weekend. I stayed up a little later than everyone else, decompressing in front of the television. When I was finally ready to call it a night, I shut off the kitchen lights and headed through the dimly lit living room on my way to the stairs. Huh? Double-take. What's that black blob on the wall? My eyes adjusted and I made out what looked like - A DISEASE-INFESTED RODENT?!? Adrenaline formed a mushroom cloud which took the express elevator up my esophogus and bursted through my lips with a whispered, "EEEEEEP." I bolted, taking the 100 year old stairs two at a time. I burst through the door of my parents' room.....

"Mom! MOOOOM!" I whispered loudly in a panic.

"What? What's wrong," as she tried to get her wits.

"There's a mouse crawling up your wall in the living room!"

"A mouse? On the wall?" Up to this point, I hadn't contemplated the probability of this.

"Yes, it's a black rodent holding onto the woven wallpaper." Yeah, that makes sense. I think.

"Oh. No,'s probably a bat."


"A BAT?!?" Holy $h*!, Batman!

"Yeah, it's fine, honey. They come down through the chimney sometimes."

It's FINE?!? It's fine because it's not a mouse, it's a FLYING MOUSE?!? No, it's not FINE!

This is the part of the story where my 5-foot, 95-pound mother gets out of bed, finds a tupperware container in the kitchen, captures Bruce Wayne while he was sleeping, and I suppose disposed of him outside? I wouldn't know what exactly happened to him. I was under the canopied, twin-sized bed I had slept in since 4th grade.

It's all fun and games until somebody gets a long-toothed, epileptic, cancerous flying rodent stuck in her hair. What's a mom to do? Be the evil-one and put my foot down, forbidding the "innocent" puffball to be a part of our family. Or fold, let the aspen chips fall where they may, and practice my motherly, "I told you so" speech? Yeah, probably the second one.

Truth is, I'm afraid if I deny her this request (as I first denied her the turtle), she will move on to the next obsession. And what if it's this?

Freakin' gerbil.