Friday, December 31, 2010

Playing Christmas

Alright, I've totally been cheating at the "daily blogging" thing. This is the first blog post I've written in a week, thanks to the super handy auto schedule feature. 

So we're going to travel back in time a bit.

To a time not so very long ago.

When it was Christmas.....

This year Peter's misplaced cousins came up to visit us for a few days.

And it was pretty dang awesome.

A couple of things contributed to this. Granted, Eric and Holly are awesome all in of themselves. But they're also the exact same age as us. And I think they sometimes have the "just pretending to be adults" syndrome too.

(I'm beginning to suspect this is much more common among 20 somethings than previously anticipated.)

So we played with the girls during the day. Then put them to bed. And then got to have low levels of debauchery in the evenings.

And it continues to reaffirm my recent discovery of how incredibly awesome it is to have people come visit me. Because it's totally like going on vacation while requiring absolutely no work on my part.

So, since I've been almost on vacation, I haven't been thinking up great and profound things to write up in some sort of blogging sense.

But I did take a video of us playing Christmas Jenga!

It shows great and exciting things.

Like how my disembodied voice is a little creepy.

And my pretty red table clothe. 

And how Peter shouldn't be handed the video camera when he's been drinking, because he does screwy things like turn it sideways and then turns it off.

And how it's easy to only think you're continuing to record great and exciting things (like the Jenga tower falling down on Eric) when you're actually not when one is slightly inebriated.


video

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Job Search 2010

It's been a while since I've made mention about the Great Job Search of 2010. Very soon it will be advancing to the Great Job Search of 2011. I'm sure 2011 will be a much more job obtaining year. It just looks so excited, with the ones at the end. Not at all like that slacker zero in 2010. Such a tool, just going around in a circle and all. The double ones are just begging for a ^ on top to make them an arrow, clearly pointing into a positive direction.

[Note to self: don't write blog posts when tired, they start to sound a little weird.]

[Note to self about note to self: meh.....]

I've been putting in lots of applications the last few months. I initially started out cruising Craigslist, but then after a month of sending in dozens of resume's a week and only ever getting spam back, decided that Craigslist sucks as a job hunting market.

I briefly explored some of the job websites (Monster, Careerfinder, etc), before determining that they, also, suck.

I went through a phase where I looked up every single law office in Boulder County (and had started in on Denver, before abandoning the venture) emailing and politely asking if they needed office support. A few were kind enough to email me back politely declining. One sent me an email several weeks later, asking about my availability. I've never heard back. 

Then I start searching up all the government jobs. Federal, state, county... lots of websites for different branches to be found and scouted.

They're harder to apply to, you gotta sort through all the bureaucratic bull just to understand the job description and most require at least a couple of in depth questions answered (ie-how does your previous work experience prepare you for this position) on top of manually inserting your resume into each branch's database. But they also pay decent, and come with great hours and benefits (should I ever actually convince them to hire me for anything).The whole process from application to hiring is slow, and very much like working with the military infrastructure (read: pain in the ass).

I also started trolling the Colorado non-profits website, and sending in resume's for some of their postings. Several have passed by that I thought I was exceptionally well qualified for. I also get a lot of rejection letters from the non-profits, but least most of them are kind (the nuns even said they were praying for me). My parents tell me that getting a rejection letter is good, but it still pretty much just makes me feel rejected.

One called me, asking to do an interview. I told her I was out of town visiting family over the holidays, she told me just to give her a call when I got back and we'd set up a time. I'm not sure whether her easy-going-ness about it is good or bad. Also, it's not the job of my dreams, the pay wasn't posted in the listing (but as it's social work it probably sucks), and it's not in my preferred (albeit a cheaper) area to live.

I did just turn in the application for the most wonderfully perfect job in the world. The official title is the Operational Supervisor I for the District Attorney in Denver. Basically it's an office manager for a chunk of the district attorney's minions (3-5ish people, according to the job posting). I know, not all that exciting to the objective observer, but it's exactly what I want to be doing right now. 

I was very excited by details like me actually being completely qualified for the position. And the application had a dozen essay questions, which I spent several long evenings completing. I even proof read all of them! Twice!

[In an effort to gear up for applying, I asked Peter "I write good, right?", which might not have been my best demonstration of skills. What I really meant was "I (occasionally) have the capacity to create both orally aesthetic and grammatically correct (spelling excluded) sentences leading to a clear and precise point. Wouldn't you agree?"]

And there was also the salary. The glorious, glorious salary. The bottom of the pay range was just under $50,000 annually with the top being just under $80,000.

A job I want and that I'm completely qualified for! That doesn't pay $10 an hour! That has some chance of a future attached to it! That's not in the middle of nowhere! 

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hal--- Ok, I'll stop singing now.

(No no, I'm not just motivated by money in life.... really, there are other things. Like living in more than 600 square feet conveniently located to things like the zoo, which I could actually afford to do with that salary. And buying nice pretty new clothes to wear to that nice pretty little office with that nice pretty big paycheck.)

I truly did try my best on the application, and now can do nothing but sit and wait.

But sitting and waiting is hard.

And interestingly enough, I've even been considering prayer. Praying is what one does when one can't actually do anything else. I usually simply try not to stress or worry about thing that are completely out of my control.

But this.... this job is something else.

Rachel, at Grasping for Objectivity, mentioned the power of her Thursday night prayer group in regards to her getting pregnant twice and going into labor. I'll admit, anything that has any track required of putting a severely pregnant woman into labor when she wants to go is worth at least half a look. She made a slight jest about asking if anyone wanted or needed anything, in reference to the all powerful Thursday night prayer group.

And for half a minute, I wanted to ask them to pray for me. For me to get that job. For me not to lose my mind while breaking apart my life. For me to get some sleep occasionally. For me to believe whatever it is I need to believe right now to keep it together. For me....

(It was totally the part about the prayer group sending her into labor.)

But requesting that would require me believing that there is power in something I've never placed power in before in my life. And it was an incredibly selfish request at that! What about the girls? Those pieces I'm breaking apart are things like un-enrolling Kristina from preschool and gymnastics, those are just as much (if not more) her life than mine.

So I go back to trolling the job postings, sending in applications, trying to figure out moving across the country in a week when I desperately want to think about anything else. Focusing on doing the few measly things that are still firmly in my control right now (I plucked my eye brows for the first time in I-don't-even-want-to-hazard-a-guess-how-long-because-it'd-probably-be-before-Adrianna-was-born, and made spaghetti for dinner).

And hoping, every so slightly, for that perfect job.

Baring one's soul is hard, much harder than trying to be ever so occasionally funny. Please be kind, dear world. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Male Readership

As I continue to blog, I've actually managed to gain a few readers who are not of my direct kin.

(Have I mentioned how awesome you are and how thrilled I am to have you visit?)

And I've noticed a bit of a trend.

They're all women.

Most of whom appear to have small children.

And then I got to thinking that most of the relatives who regularly read this are women.

Most of whom have small children.

So I started thinking that perhaps I need to work on cultivating reader diversity. I have some great ideas for future posts!

"Killing rodents"


"My [husband's] truck is bigger than yours"


"Football: A metaphor for life"


"Duct taping the wilderness"


"Cooking with beer"

Yep, my readership is sure to diversify in no time with great stuff like that! Too bad I don't know actually know how to survive in the woods for a week with only a roll of duct tape and a k-bar....

Ah well, maybe I'll just post instructions for making poster-board fairy wings instead. That's almost the same thing, right?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Outsmarting The Smart Phone

As I am undoubtedly at least a few years behind on most of the new tech crazes, I only got around to getting a "smart phone" a few months ago.

(Smart phone: cell phone sized toy that also has laptop and digital camera capacities. Some varieties (more high tech than mine, of course) even include snazzy touch screens and "apps" for anything you could ever possibly think of, and a few million beyond that.)

((No, I don't have iphone envy, not at all....))

And my adorable little Boysenberry was gotten just because I accidentally had washed my other, much more standard and boring, cell phone in the washing machine.

(It made the washing machine vibrate!)

However, since getting it, I  now can't imagine going back to the deprived life of not having internet and email at my every whim.

It's just so. unbelievably. awesome. to be able to respond to browse facebook and respond to emails while waiting in the car with a sleeping baby.

(A little less unbelievably awesome to have a catastrophic internet user fail causing an empty blog page to publish, but all good things must take some time to not be an idiot while operating.)

I can take pictures, and then send them as emails OR phone-to-phone picture messages with ridiculous ease.

Ever heard of sexting? That would be the "dirty" version of the picture messages, which apparently has become quite a problem with teenagers these days.

Stupid punk kids. Back in my teenage days we didn't even have cameras on our cell phones, and we practically CREATED texting in class. And if we wanted to share dirty pictures of ourselves, well, we had to resort to email like any other hard working true blooded American kids.

The problem with it today's youth is that it's just too damn easy.


Lookie, a picture of myself! Wasn't I looking pretty today?

(Do you like the bathroom? I can totally sell it to you..... *cough cough*)

It was ludicrously easy to take and send.

I mean, what if I had just forgotten to put clothes on before doing so??

Or what if I accidentally took/sent one of my lap while I was attempting to check my email while using the toilet?

(And lets face it, if that would to happen to anyone, it would happen to me...)

See, I figure that instead of fussing around with laws and a judicial system that is waaaay behind the problems being created by the ever evolving technological bubble, we should just stop making devices so simple to use.

If it was hard to take a picture, less pictures would be taken with cell phone.

(We are nothing if not a lazy bunch.)

If it was complicated to send them, less would be sent.

Perhaps they should just come out with a new line of cell phones for teenagers.

They already have ones marketing towards young children (because Kristina totally couldn't just figure out how to use mine in under 5 minutes...) and the elderly!

It would be an easy step up in the product development line.

We could give it a cute little bug name (perhaps the bumblebee?), offer it in lots of funky color/pattern combos, have a Microsoft Windows Vista operating system, put in a picture sending safe guard that auto-forwards them to the parent or guardian's email first for manual approval before allowing them to go to the intended recipient, perhaps a nagging service when the month's allotment of talky minutes/text messages are running out, and a fun parental overdrive shut off mode for grounding purposes.

Yep, some real marketing genius going on over here.

And, if you can coordinate it so all of sudden EVERYONE at school has one (perhaps a massive discount for the big name local parental employer?), your teenager will actually be asking you for one thanks to the wonders of peer pressure!

And then you can ask your teen how to set up the software on your computer to monitor their new phone.

I'm sure they'll be more than happy to oblige. Once they're done texting suggestive pictures during 4th period Spanish class.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Juice Napper

When I was a small child, I often took a cup a juice to bed with me at night, and would leave it still full on the nightstand for later.

And then, when I would thirstily awaken during the night or in the morning and go to drink my juice, it would be gone.

Being the logical child that I was, I (of course) quickly figured out that the culprit behind my missing juice was none other than......
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[Brace yourselves]
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....The Juice Napper!

The Juice Napper was truly a sneaky fellow if ever there was one, and he would sneak into my bedroom every night for the sole purpose of stealing my little cupful of apple juice.

He had a cave underneath our back yard where he lived and kept his stash, an every growing accumulation of huge glass jugs filled with my stolen juice.

I would passionately declare many a morning that The Juice Napper had struck again.

My parents seemed unconcerned by his perpetual striking, despite him still making appearances long after I had traded in apple juice for water or soda.

The other night I awoke just after 4am to find a baby in my bed and my bedtime drink gone.

The Juice Napper was at it again!

Only this time, he was leaving children in my bed AND taking my bedtime drink.

That bastard!!

I shared my consternation with Peter.

He, also, seemed unconcerned about the return of The Juice Napper.

I tried to explain to him the gravity of this issue.

(That jerk keeps taking my highly important bedtime drink for crying out loud!)

((Ok, jerk wasn't my first word choice there, but I still feel the disproving glare of my elders whenever I curse on this thing.))

He implied that, perhaps, I shouldn't bring the baby in bed with me when I'm too tired to remember doing so.

Or remember drinking my bedtime drink.

Again, I tried to reiterate that I didn't bring the baby in bed with me (after all, I am working very hard on getting her to stay in her own bed at night) or drink my bedtime drink (which is clearly demonstrated by me being thirsty, duh).

And then he gave me the "you are definitely losing your marbles" look.

I bet The Juice Napper took those too.

That sneaky bastard.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Foodies

I suck at dieting. In any conceivable notion of the term.

To such a degree that I've never even conceived of anything beyond: "well gee, maybe I shouldn't eat an entire box of Entenmann's Frosted Devils Food Doughnuts in less than two days."

(I blame the extenuating circumstances of life for that one.)

(And maybe pregnancy.)

And I think one of the biggest contributors to my complete unwillingness to diet is simply a lack of caring about food.

(Well, that and a complete lacking of self discipline in regards to all things chocolate. But we don't need to go into that right now.)

I just don't care that much about what I eat, let alone where it comes from, how it's created, or it's nutritional content.

(Sometimes I suspect that might die from scurvy.)

I like my core set of dietary staples, and really couldn't care less about food as long as I have my bowl of buttered pasta and chocolate chips at whim.

(And pancakes.)

I cook simply to fulfill the need to eat. I look up recipes only to fulfill the need to cook edible food.

Grocery shopping resembles doing battle, cooking is positively a three ring circus going on in the kitchen, and eating is a speed competition if I actually want more than two bites while the food is half-way warm.

(Or cold. Or whatever temperature it's supposed to be which is usually not obtained by sitting on the kitchen table for an hour.)

Kristina would be happy to live on nothing but pasta, yogurt, and chocolate milk.

Adrianna would prefer  her diet limited to cheese and rice.

And all I want to do is mange to actually eat everything on my plate without reheating it 4 times and to do so while sitting down.

There isn't time, or energy, or motivation to care about food beyond that.

Which is why dieting completely eludes me.

However, there is one aspect of edibles that I do have a vested interest in:

Dessert.

I think ordering a pizza for dinner while making delectable chocolate chip infused brownies from scratch is THE way to go.

Speaking of which, I need to go pick up some Chinese take-out while my 3rd batch of candy cane fudge finishes cooling.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas

I set out to make a video of the girls and me playing the piano and singing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' to post today.

I had pretty low expectations, full well knowing that Kristina would probably only sing the first verse before either stopping to ask me something random or deciding she wanted to sing a different song and that Adrianna would be eating the jingle bells or be climbing on top of the key board the whole time.

And I couldn't even capture that.

Because Kristina decided that me requesting her to sing the stupid song once, for flat out candy cane bribery, was cause for a massive screaming hour and half long meltdown tantrum.

For three days in a row.

So.

There is no adorable beyond adorable family caroling video to post.

However, Peter recommended this for a last minute replacement.

It's a little disturbing, not recommended for viewing while children are present. Or for people with easily upset psyches. Or like, anyone. Ever.....



The Night Santa Went Crazy, by Weird Al

Friday, December 24, 2010

Parenting Fail: Princess on the Porch



I'm not sure just how I developed this die hard philosophy, but I take great measures to make sure all presents that need assembling are assembled prior to Christmas day (birthday, etc) and that all the toys that are a difficult to open are removed from packaging before hand.

It's really is a good arrangement for all involved.

The girls can dive right into playing with their gift, and I can spend my leisurely time putting it together (and getting to play with it) without some wild monkeys climbing on top of me incessantly screeching about wanting to play with their newest and suddenly most favoritest toy in the world.

Oh, and it minimizes the number of curses my children learn.

This year I was almost slacking on this duty, not getting around to putting things together until the evening of the 22nd.

And in addition to assembling, I also took their matching princess dolls out of the packaging, since manufactures are paranoid of a Toy Story like escape of their products at any given moment and use the most advanced of bondage technology to bind the toys to their cardboard packages.

[Side note- I kid you not, we have come across toys bound in with zip-ties, which are what the military use as emergency handcuffs (called zip-cuffs) in war zones and all soldiers carry on their person when out on patrols and such.]

After getting everything ready for Christmas morning, I loaded it back up into the closet and shoved the now empty boxes out onto the front porch to hide until trash day. I checked through the window in the front door to make sure that they weren't visible to any passing children's eyes, and was feeling rather proud of myself for having taken care of everything so neatly.

(It was almost like I was a responsible adult!)

And then the next morning came.

And while I was attempting to make something resembling breakfast with Adrianna alternating between pulling off my sweat pants and climbing up my leg, Kristina started excitedly yelling "There's princesses! There's princesses on the porch!"

Since it was morning and my brain doesn't always kick on first thing, I had no idea what she was talking about, and responded with an oh so eloquent "huh?" before staggering over to look at the porch, fully expecting to see the cast of Disney on Ice hanging out in front of our house.

Kristina was looking through the window on the second door that goes onto the porch (why do we have two doors going onto this really not that large porch? I have no idea, probably for the sole purpose of making me look like a moron in situations like this), which I had not thought to check for box visibility last night, and of course was providing an excellent view of the discarded princess doll wrappers covered in princess pictures.

Crap....

So in a supreme effort to dismiss the princesses on the porch and get her distracted by something else before she insisted on going out there or started crying about her envisioned princesses, I gave her cookies for breakfast.

'Tis the season. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Shorties

We went to the mall last weekend, and in an effort to keep Kristina from flipping out every time we walked anywhere near the oh-so-conveniently-located-so-you-have-to-walk-by-it-at-least-12-times Santa Clause Spot I told her (after all rational reasoning had failed, of course) that the decorative fence around it was his cage and he couldn't get out. The worst part was it worked. So now Mall Santa's cool (or at least tolerable in the same general vicinity in very low levels), as long as he stays in his cage.

Adrianna pooped out her first pine needle yesterday. I did not take a picture of it. However, I was touched at her effort to keep her diapers so festive. Or perhaps add a pine fresh scented??

In attempting to decorate the house in a child friendly manner, a few years ago I got a decorative metal basket and a dozen large (read: unswallowable) bells to put in it. And then immediate realized why this was a horrible idea from the cacophonous amount of noise it creates when mixed with small children. However, Adrianna seems to prefer some of the less noisy ways of playing with it than her sister does. Like wearing the metal basket on her head. I think I've given her a complex.

And speaking of complexes....

Kristina does NOT want Santa Clause to come into our house.When asked how she would get presents from Santa, she said he could leave the presents in the drive way.

Adrianna experienced her first candy cane at the local municipal building while I was getting her real birth certificate (since apparently what they sent us after she was born wasn't her real birth certificate (which is really good since I *might* have accidentally misplaced it last week.....) and is unacceptable for getting a passport) and trying to keep her quiet and happy. Needless to say she thought it was the best. thing. ever! And she now can identify a candy cane from a mile away, and will lunge after it with the ferocity of a large cat hunting prey. 

My mother sent Christmas cards to the girls. They were very excited to get mail especially for them (they are my offspring, after all) , and set right about ripping open the envelopes. I went to take a picture of them oohing and aahing over the glittery holiday scenes, at which point Kristina started crying "don't take my picture!" and Adrianna tried to eat her card. Another picture perfect holiday moment captured by me!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nativity Set

One of my most favorite parts of the Christmas season growing up was playing with the nativity set. It was one glorified seasonal dollhouse to be sure. In fact, I'm pretty sure my dollhouse dolls also liked to come visit Baby Jesus on occasion. And I know I had a whole system of "family relations" worked out between the shepherds and angels for when I was tired of reenacting the birth of Christ. But I digress.....

As we jumped onto the runaway train of having children a little earlier than some, Peter and I had never gotten around to getting a nice nativity set of our own prior to babies.

And having at least a teensy amount of brain left when Kristina was a baby (don't worry, I'm fairly confident that part's completely gone now), I passionately sought out a highly child friendly version.

We got the Little People's set, which was both a seasonally awesome toy to bring out and made me smile to watch Kristina happily play away with it.

And unbreakable. Did I mention that extremely important little detail?

However, like everything dealing with that child Kristina, it didn't go quite as planned. The first years I got away with packing it back up after the holidays, but last year she was completely heartbroken by it's sudden disappearance.

And since she is spoiled rotten there was lots of Mommy guilt surrounding Daddy being deployed and the arrival of a new baby, I brought it back out for her.

She was particularly smitten with the little Baby Jesus doll (who she insisted was a baby girl), and went through quite the phase of carrying it everywhere with her.

Then, last summer shortly after the deployment ended, we were browsing around Home Depot and Kristina decided to pull one of her "sprinting away" stunts on Daddy.

When he caught up with her and went to scoop her up, she threw the Baby Jesus doll that had happened to be in her hand at the time. The doll slide under a pallet, while Peter (not in the best of moods after her little stunt) decreed that she had just lost her toy.

She started screaming, which made for a prompt exit from the store, and I didn't find out about the missing toy until we were in the car driving home.

That's the Baby Jesus the nativity scene!! You can't just leave the Baby Jesus!! Then it's just a stable with some random people dropping in for a visit!

Yeah....... apparently some (who were driving) are less concerned about vital nativity scene characters than others in our family.

So, Kristina and Adrianna still enjoy playing with the stable (it makes Christmas music, after all!) and the animals and the wisemen-who-are-the-mommies (according-to-Kristina).

And I've been scouting the toy scene for other possible Nativity set replacements for future years.

You know, so we can have another year round barn playset in the living room for the girls.


A note about the playset: Fisher Price has changed the set since we purchased it so now you have to buy multiple sets to get all the pieces, ours came as one tidy little package for $30 that included the wisemen and enough animals to put their regular farm sets to shame.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jingle Butt

It's a little harder to immediately see when not blown up larger than life and prominently displayed in a store window at eye level, but this Victoria Secret model is feature crimson panties that have butt ruffles with little bells attached.

And I want a pair.

Mostly just so I can run around the house giggling "jingle butt" the whole time.

("Jingle butt, jingle butt, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to wear fancy ringing underwe-ar!")

*ahem*

The really sad part is knowing that Kristina, in her discerning young panties tastes, would also think they were awesome.

And immediately want to know why her underwear doesn't have bells on them.

And then, when Department of Human Services came to investigate why, exactly, my child was wearing undergarments to school with bells attached, I could show them my pair, and attempt to explain how cool they are.

And then, after being hauled off to prison on pedophile charges....... ok, jingle butt panties might not be the best idea for this household.

Even if they're sure to become a holiday classic in no time.

You know, right after women stop regularly wearing pants.

I did not think to take a picture of the display at our mall at the time (ok, Peter was dragging me away as I start to sing "jingle butt", but that's beside the point), and I couldn't find it on the Victoria's Secret website, so I borrowed the picture from theshopperannieblog. Just wanted to say thanks and give due credit where credit is due!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Making Fudge, Pt. 2

The adventure of creating Candy Cane Fudge was a total success. Which also means there's no good story about things going horribly, horribly wrong.

(This is especially surprising considering how much I really was making it up as I went along. I must be even more awesome than I thought. Woot!)

But it did come with one new discovery.

You see, this was the first time I'd ever used mint extract. Or any other extract, for that matter.

I knew vanilla was something like 30% alcohol, so I suppose I shouldn't have been all that surprised by the label on the mint extract bottle.

(And, after checking while writing this, I was totally right about vanilla, it's 35%)

But still, anything that specifically says right on the label "avoid pouring near a flame" is just begging for a closer look.

Click me, I get bigger!

So, apparently Candy Cane Fudge is also slightly alcoholic.

(Do you know what proof 89% is?? That's stronger stuff than just about any other  hard liqueur on the shelf!)

And flammable.

Which means it is most definitely the coolest holiday chocolate ever!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go eat some more of my liqueur infused extra combustible sugar overload holiday themed chocolate.

It'll look much like this. But with me.

And a bigger piece of fudge.

And probably more stuffed into my mouth at any given moment.

Yummy Christmas to all, and to all a good day!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Making Fudge, Pt. 1

I'm usually not a huge fan of "foodie" blog posts, and in fact had even written a whole post detailing how I am so not a foodie person, which was delayed on account of someone's big idea for 'Christmas blogging' (lame!). But fudge is totally different! 

Ok, it's not really different, and I do ramble about marshmallows quite a bit (sorry about that), but it's kinda mostly holiday-ish, and it's all I got right now.

Also, I'm gonna be even lamer and make this into TWO foodie blog posts. And you just get to deal. Because I said so. 

(Ok, I don't really mean that, I love you all, please don't leave me!!) 

Nothing says Christmas more than rationalized over-indulgence of holiday themed sweets.

(Just like nothing says Thanksgiving like 6 kinds of home made pie, and nothing says Halloween like plastic pumpkins overflowing with free candy.)

And my family's personal favorite and long standing holiday sweet tradition would be fudge.

Chocolate fudge. 

With enough chocolate in it to make Marty very, very happy.

There is a several generation old "Grandma Whalen's Chocolate Fudge" recipe in the family, which uses about 8 kinds of chocolate, two jars of marshmallow creme, and makes all other fudge look like water being served at a whiskey bar in comparison.

(I am such a chocolate fudge elitist.)

But Grandma Whalen's Chocolate Fudge takes a lot of work.

For starters, it requires marshmallow creme. Albeit very amusing to open a jar at high altitude (I kid you not, drive up to Nederland and try it sometime, it's like a little volcano eruption of marshmallow), I am very lazy about scrapping sticky goo out of jars when mini marshmallows are just so much easier to dump in instead.

And the chocolate, well those 5 bars of German chocolate don't just chop themselves up into itty bitty easy melting pieces. Nor do the unsweetened high-cocoa baking chocolate squares. Or even that Hershey bar!

(I always figured that the Hershey bar was to balance out all the super awesomeness of the other chocolate to keep the eater from entering a chocolate coma.)

(And if you've never eaten a German chocolate bar, go find one in the baking aisle. It will rock your world.)

So, sadly, the past few years I have been very deviant of Grandma Whalen's Chocolate Fudge, and opted instead for the easiest stuff I could make with mini marshmallows and semi sweet chocolate chips. 

(Coincidentally, I've also only been a mother those same past few years. I'm fairly confident this shows something. Like perhaps a slight dieing off of my soul.....)

But don't worry, I usually double the chocolate chips the recipe calls for.

(Also a great tactic for brownies. Then you have to eat them with a fork because they're such a gooey chocolatey delightful mess.)

However, this year was going to be different.

Because I wanted to make Candy Cane Fudge.

I had wanted to make it last year, and in the surfing of the internets to find out how one goes about doing that, I learned that it is not the crushed candy canes at all that make it Candy Cane Fudge, but rather the mint extract mixed in.

And I did not have mint extract.

And I was severely pregnant.

(Which means I was also severely unwilling to do anything that required "effort" or "walking" or "putting on shoes" if it wasn't absolutely necessary.)

So last year we had to make do with the super simple and plain chocolate fudge variety.

But this year I was going to make some Candy Cane Fudge!

I had gotten mint extract, and enough chocolate chips to keep a small European nation in cookies for a year, and a whole box of candy canes just begging to be crushed.

(By the way, crushing candy canes is very therapeutic. Definitely good for putting one into the holiday season mood.)

And then I went to look up the recipe online again.

Whatever perfect recipe for this which I had found last year was not to be found again (in the first 6 google search results), so I decided to improvise.

Now, when I say improvised, I mean I completely made it up since my mini marshmallow bag was lame and lacked even the easy fudge recipe from past years.

(I just love cooking when I have no idea what I am doing. After a bit I start going a little mad scientisty, and then I start doing the super villain laugh. Bwahahahaha.....)


And it came out AWESOME.

Because I am awesome.

And I think there's a universal law that states 'no matter the problem is, adding more chocolate chips will help', which I generously applied throughout the fudging process.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Picture Perfect

My very first real blog post was about taking the girls to get pictures done in a portrait studio.

I suspect, as you are a discerning and intelligent bunch, that you can hypothesize in at least a vague and general sense of how it went since it was "start a blog" worthy.

So for holiday cards this year, I thought I would try to take pictures of them myself at home.

Now, this isn't an idea completely without merrit.

After all, I did work at the Sears Portrait Studio for three whole weeks, where I learned all sorts of important professional portrait taker secrets.

(Like how to overcharge people hundreds of dollars for a CD of the photo session that costs the studio, literally, a few cents to make. And that those people taking your picture are lucky to make anything above minimum wage, and are trained about as well as a Wal-mart employee.)

And I do take a few pictures of the girls during throughout daily life, most of which usually come out somewhere between decently cute and down right fabulous.

So I could totally take a cute little holiday picture for cards, right?

(Yeah, right.......)

I got them dressed in precious and adorable matching holiday dresses.

We put up the tree and strung it with lights.

Peter was there providing backup child wrangling assistance.

And then, the picture taking moment came.

And it resembled Animal House redone by the cast of Daddy Daycare, with a little Braveheart mixed in towards the end.

We did, eventually, get a shot of them both in front of the tree AND looking at the camera all at the same time.

And Kristina was even (kinda) smiling.

While laying on top of Diamond (the cat).

And Adrianna was refusing to sit down.

While trying to eat the lights on the tree.

At least I don't have to worry about it looking overly posed.
But not to worry, I got right on the task of promptly addressing all of the envelopes.

So they could sit on the kitchen table for a week and half because I was too lazy preoccupied to remember to get stamps from the post office.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gift Wrapping, Another (Un)Epic Feat

In a valiant effort to both accomplish things that need to be done and immerse myself in holiday cheer, I set about wrapping up the girls gifts after pulling them all out of the closest to survey the haul.

(Ok, I was also procrastinating job searching and doing the dishes, but those are minor details.)

I did over estimate the wrapping feat this year, as nearly everything was ordered online and sent directly to the recipients on top of it being a less glutinously gifting year.

I usually end up spending a better part of a week getting everything wrapped and ribboned.

This year I was done in just over an hour.  

And that was with a brief nursing break in the middle!

(What? Your almost one year old doesn't still nurse every hour or two all night long? Crazy talk!)

However, wrapping was still not without incident.

You see, I had just finished curling the ribbon on a lovely tree printed package when Adrianna awoke, so I put the present down and went upstairs to tend to her.

And after being milked, returned to write a label on the present.

And noticed something.

Do you see it??

One end of the gold ribbon is noticeably shorter and more haggard than when I had been curling it 10 minutes prior.

Hmmm... I wonder how on earth that could have happened.

Any ideas, Whispey?

Yes, I thought not.

I'm sure you were only there to see what I had been up to and to help by decorating other places in the house with festive cheer.

Like your litter box.

Thanks Bubba, your help is always so appreciated. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merrily On Music

I keep coming back to the pondering of materialism (blame LauraJean), especially in regards to my personal views of Christmas.

Despite growing up in the Episcopalian Church, the religious aspect just hasn't been hitting home the last few years.

So I've been thinking about what makes the season what it is to me.

And the biggest part is far and away the music.

I LOVE Christmas music.

And I haven't been listening to much yet this year.

Between avoiding the stores in favor of online shopping, and the radio stations making crappy holiday music selections, and the children influencing of my at home listening selection (my goodness they're getting to be an opinionated bunch).... I just haven't been a Gloriaing very much this December.

Also, we are without a working tape (and CD) player at this point, which means I haven't been able to put on the true classics of my childhood for the girls.

(Well, what's left of them on the cassettes that still work.)

Now, I'm sure my mother would also like me to point out that for a substantial portion of my childhood I considered Christmas music to supersede any calender limitations, and had a habit of gleefully listening to it year round.

I also spent more than a few years teaching myself to play piano (a slow and painful process, as I refused to just take piano lessons and am not, apparently, Mozart) by tapping out the Christmas carols on our out of tune upright.

My mother never did fully appreciate my 8 year old musical genius self hard at work while attempting  to master "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" by playing it over and over and over and over (and over and over and over and over....) again.

Poorly.

(Sorry about that, Mom. I hear karma's a bitch, so I have no doubt the girls will find something at least as annoying (if not worse, maybe I'll let them take bagpipe lessons) to subject me to for the next 12 years. And thanks for putting up with it as much as you did.)

So I spent a little time today surfing up some seriously awesome Christmas music.

My new favorite:

Celtic Woman- Ding Dong Merrily On High


And that violinist is seriously bad-ass! Did you see her spinning and skipping around on the stage while playing a solo in a full length gown and heels???

Oh. My. God.

It was only through supreme effort and a little luck that I managed to successfully play the clarinet in marching band without suffering a catastrophic failure of one kind or another. And I usually just barely manage to walk around in high heels without breaking an ankle.

I'm sure the combination of me trying to do both would have been comically horrible and probably require stitches.

Check out their version of "Carol of the Belles" if you're not impressed yet, she's even more wickedly awesome in that one.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gift Haul, 2010

Look! I'm being Christmasy by showing high levels of materialism and being just a little bit whiny. How many days of this do I have left?? 

I have to admit, I'm getting a little tired of people asking me what the girls are getting for Christmas.

Mostly just because it's a kinda lame scaled down Christmas this year.

But for almost reasonable reasons! Like the fact that we're moving soon, and finances being tight, and disgustingly large amounts of toys already in this house.

Also, having been through a few birthdays/Christmases at this point, I've learned that other people also buy my children stuff. This is a crazy concept, I know. But it also means that I do not have to take on the sole responsibility for obtaining all the gifts they will get.

[I even tested it out for Kristina's birthday! We gave her one modest present (a pretend cookie bake set for her little kitchen), had four families attend her birthday party, were sent a goodie box from her Aunt Rachel, and received a large gift from each set of grandparents. She had PLENTY of presents to open and new toys to play with.]

So despite it being a smaller holiday on our part, I think the girls will still make out like little bandits.

Kristina's goodies.

Adrianna's goodies.
Budget was set at $75 a piece, and I actually stuck to it!

(See, I can be an adult sometimes. Even when toys are involved).

We're leaving the princess dolls, the sit&spin, and the radio flyer 3-in-1 out to be set up and ready for play Christmas morning (in some families those would be presents "from Santa", but as Kristina continues to reiterate her terror about the old spook and beg us not to let Santa into the house, we may just let her come to whatever happy present-getting conclusions she comes to), and the other pieces were wrapped so that each girl got one from Mama, one from Daddy, and one from Sister.

And then they both get the DVD from the cats.

It did occur to me, as I was in the middle of putting labels on stuff, that neither one of them can read yet, so they might miss the humor in getting gifts from their pets and fail to recognize the Mommy awesomeness of having everything so evenly divided.

(But that's ok, because I'm sure you all will appreciate it :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Blogs of Christmas

I was thinking about the holiday season, and my lack of holiday excitement going on right now, and have decided to forgo the next weeks of normal blog posts (half of which are even done already!) in favor of only writing/publishing Christmas themed ones.

Which should be really interesting as I have nothing thought of for endeavor as of now.

So.

Umm.....

Christmas.

Ummmmmmmm.....

Oooo, Santa Clause!

Kristina thinks Santa is evil. And that he lives with Mickey Mouse (also evil).

Adrianna tries to eat the tree.

(So do the cats.)

And there's lots of snow.

Yep, that about sums it up.

Now I think I'm going to go make some fudge, watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas a few dozen times, and spike some hot cider.

And promise to be much merrier tomorrow.

(Sorry about the crummy post, but see, making myself do this is good for me! Ho ho... ho........ damnit I need some fudge.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Spiderman's Cheerios

It eats away at your soul, begging to be shared with random strangers, hoping for some faint glimmer of recognition and comradeship.

That's right.

Potty training stories. 

Every parent has one or twelve.

And some are downright epic.

The mother of Kristina's little friend, Steven, shared a couple that were rather good while we were at gymnastics last week.

(And they add some nice "boy variety" to all the stories in this blog about dealing with the quirks of little girls.)

Little girl underwear comes with flowers or princesses, and little boy underwear comes with superheros.

And using the logic of three year olds, wearing said underwear automatically turns them into Ariel or Spiderman.

Now, this hasn't been much of a problem for us since Kristina pretends to be a princess a great deal of the time anyways, regardless of whether she is wearing princess underwear (or crown, or fancy dress, or tutu.....) or not.

But little boys (apparently) take being Spiderman much more seriously.

Most notably, refusing to answer to any name besides "Spiderman".

Guess who convinced his gymnastics teachers to call him Spiderman that day??

But there was an even better story.

Steven's mom (why do they not make parents wear name tags too? That would help me out so much) said that her mom had suggest putting a Cheerio in the toilet and having him aim at it.

After all, Grandmas do know everything, right?

Except, of course, when three year olds know better.

Little Steven recalls the incident like this:

"Mom, remember that time when you were a bad mom and put my cereal in the potty? I couldn't eat it because it was in the potty and I couldn't pee because I would pee on my cereal! That was a really bad thing for you to do, Mom. Please don't ever put my cereal in the potty ever again."

Whenever he is using the potty or eating Cheerios.

And, if Kristina's memory is any indication, Steven's Mama is going to be hearing about it for a long, long, loooooong time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Commercial

Ok, I know this is just a commercial, and not even for something all that great....

But I still love it anyways! 

(It's even better than the free credit report guys!)

I mean, how awesome would it be if your bus commute turned into a fun opera sing-a-long occasionally??

And then there could be a quick little jig number from the people waiting to get on at the next stop, and maybe a nice song/dance combo with your co-workers when you get to the office....

(You know, just like at the holiday Christmas party. But with less booze and better choreography.)


J.G. Wentworth, bus commercial

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wearing Men's Pants

I have several female relatives (who I hold near and dear) who like to proclaim the superiority of men's pants.

Now there is no disputing that, from newborns through adults, men's clothing is designed for function and sturdiness while women's are for aesthetics alone.

(Toddler boys get reinforced knees and elbows, while toddler girls get floral embroidery. Guy sweatshirts are warm while ladies have embroidery. Men's cargo shorts have three hundred useful pockets, women's have embroidery.)

(Etc.....)

And despite being well aware of this fact, I still had a strong preference for female garments.

(What can I say, I'm a sucker for pretty flowers stitched onto my clothes.)

However today I am wearing men's pants.

Admittedly, not under the most willing of circumstances.

I only have two pairs of jeans that come anywhere near fitting me (along with one pair of very stained, cheap and poorly fitting, formerly sand colored corduroys which I avoid wearing whenever possible) at present, thanks to the wonders of bearing children, french fries, and basement flooding.

(Ok ok, the clothes that were in the basement were either maternity (which I am NOT wearing because I am NOT pregnant) or still in the "too small to get on" category. But those are just details!)

And in addition to both pairs of jeans being particularly dirty this morning, it's also really bloody cold out these days.

Like, a foot of snow is sitting in our driveway and I actually had to look up whether the radio station was talking about Celsius or Fahrenheit when they said "it's -10 this morning" really bloody cold out these days.

(Canadian stations, eh?)

((All their talky people should have to say "eh?" at the end of every sentence so I can easily discern whether it's a station from across the border. Eh?))

And then, as I was digging through the clean laundry pile (since neither Peter or I have the "put laundry away" skill), I noticed jeans.

Lined jeans.

Pair after pair after pair of lined jeans.

How many bloody pairs of these things does that man have?? And does he wear all of them in three days??? Bloody hell......

And one pair caught my eye. It was exactly the same as a pair of favorite lined jeans I had had back before my body revolted into something I'm not really sure I'm going to claim and their subsequent accidental immersion in sewer sludge.

Except for being the male version.

(Which, incidentally, I remember putting on one time when we were in college and demonstrating to Peter that I couldn't wear his pants because I could pull them all the way down without undoing the button.)

(Luckily I don't have that problem any more.....)

But, as I was severely low on pants options, I gave them a try.

They almost kinda sorta fit!

Ok, they're not doing any miraculous to my ass here (not to mention my paranoia of having a mom-butt before I'm 30), but I can totally get away with wearing them out of the house to transport children to/from preschool!

And I have noticed some striking differences between the men and women's versions.

First, up, the rise.

Do men not have bellybuttons? Do they like their pants sitting on top of their beer gut??

(If so, might I recommend the full tummy maternity jeans? They'll provide gentile support while still allowing for stretching when enjoying a large meal or dirty thirty.)

Geez Loise, I'm glad I don't have mine pierced at the moment, because there would be some serious "piercing getting stuck in zipper" concerns going on if it was.

Also, and this simply might be a direct result of the waist needing to go so ridiculously high up on me to be fastened thanks to these new age inventions (which, apparently, men don't have) called hips, but for all your complaining about needing proper amounts of space for your endowments, they're cutting me rather snug across the crotchy seam.

(Is there a more eloquent phrase for that part of a pair of pants?? By all means, please tell me.)

Length is... actually, just fine. Interesting, considering Peter is a solid 6 to 8 inches (depending on which records you're taking height from, he seems to be getting taller while I seem to be getting shorter) taller than me. In fact, if I were wearing them with sneakers instead of shoving them inside snow boots, I'd probably even want them just a touch longer. I guess we really do wear the same inseam after all.

Cut is where the differences really lie. They're to snug across the pelvis, saggy in the thighs, and tapered at the ankle.

My mother praises the pockets of men's pants, particular the fact that they are much more substantially sized than most women's. And although this is most probably true, I have trouble appreciating it as they're too snug to easily get my cell phone in and out, much less tempt me to put anything more substantial in there.

(This is where you start to point out that perhaps I should try men's pants in a bigger size. And to which I reply something vulgar to convey the emphatic feeling of "no".)

((Postpartum body image is a tender subject with many women, one should tread especially lightly around it.))

(((Especially in any way that might imply them needing bigger pants.)))

I am not a fan of the tapered leg in my normal pant selection, much less the mutated "stolen from my husband so they're even worse" selection. And the butt and thighs.... just not working for me.

Luckily, laundry scroungers aren't overly picky when desperate.

And being lined jeans, they are warm, just like mine were. 

Back when I could fit into them, of course.

So although certainly wearable in semi-dire circumstances, I'm still not a men's pants convert.

And am sorely mad at Eddie Bauer for taking away the women's lined jeans option this year.

(Bad Eddie Bauer! Bad!!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Selective Santa

A little background:

Peter's mother was one of five children. They grew up and married and had children (including Peter), which made the generation of close cousins.

And now this cousin generation has reached the point of marrying off and having babies of their own.

Some a little more enthusiastically than others.

*cough cough*

In addition to all the additions that have recently happened (I counted 7 marriages and 7 babies in the last 7 (?) years), the cousins have also been busy physically scattering to all corners of the world.

In years past I've witnessed those attending Thanksgiving who would also be attending the big family Christmas do a Secret Santa name exchange for present giving.

And I'll admit, I kinda felt just a teensy bit left out since we have yet to make back to DC to a big family Christmas.

(We've been busy creating our own multifamily conglomerate of traditions and presents and in-laws, which really has been plenty crazy enough on it's own.)

So this year, I sorta made a unilateral decision (democracy occasionally needs a totalitarian dictator to get stuff done) that we were doing a gift exchange amongst all the cousins (lets just call it "bonding"), and I promptly emailed out names with mailing addresses.

(After all, we do live in the advanced age of free shipping from Amazon.)

And then, because who can resist more excuses to buy toys, a gift exchange for the baby cousins as well. 

Now, getting the names mixed up amongst the babies was a little tricky.

Which means it was completely un-random.

(Hey, there are two pairs of siblings out of the 7 kiddos total. Lets see you mix them up so no-one's gifting their sister without some seriously careful calculations going on.)

However, the adult cousin exchange was actually done by pulling names out of a bucket (no hats were readily available), and as a result was almost completely random with but the minimal of tweaking to avoid gifting spouses.

Which, I have come to realize, was a major concept flaw.

You see, Peter and I managed to end up with two of the people who are the hardest to shop for.

(Not that one of us does all the holiday shopping for everyone or anything like that.)

One is problematic mostly because I'm just not particularly well-acquainted with her, coupled with her having a very unique personality and discerning tastes.

(As I recall, the first thing she did after meeting me was tell me I should become a vegan. And I wasn't sure whether or not she was joking.)

(She wasn't joking.)

((But I still got to eat turkey anyways.))

Oh, and she's living in Nicaragua, but will be Christmasing in California, and I'm not sure whether do-it-at-home wine making kits are allowed through customs.

The other one is just... um..... a guy.

Guys are hard to shop for......

*whiny face*

But moving right along.

The random selection part was obviously a flawed concept, since I totally had the power to tweak the list so Peter and I were gifting to people I'd have an easy time shopping for.

Like, um............

*looks at list*

*ponders*

Ok, people are hard to shop for.

Kids, however, are easy.

And fun, because it means getting to go toy shopping!

I LOVE toy shopping!!

Next year, I think I'm just going to buy presents for all the children instead.

Less holiday stress, more holiday spoiling joy.  

A total win, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pink Room

I have mentioned to Kristina, in a very broad and general sense, that at some point we will be moving to a new house.

And the first thing she did was request a pink room.

She was very clear about this, speaking in a manner one might use towards somebody whose just a little slow on grasping the details of such very important things.

"I want a pink room. A new house with a pink room. Not a green room, a PIIIINNNNNNNK room."

(The room the girls have right now is several particularly strong shades of green, which we always meant to repaint......)

As I too went through a very impassioned pink room phase (just in case anyone remembers the bedroom from the house we had in Niwot and ever wondered why it had  such a strong shade of pink carpeting), I can fully relate to the gravity of this request.

And as I'm starting to dose up on some good old fashioned parental guilt about the impending split, I fully intend on honoring it to the best of my ability.

(It really is the least I can do after ripping her out of her fathers arms and whisking her across the country where she will grow up with but the vaguest of vague memories of the man she once called "daddy" in her sweet chiming voice.....)

As I am planning on getting a rental place once employment is lined up (and not living in my parents' basement for the next 12 years), I'm fairly confident that actually painting the walls won't be a viable option.

(And lets face it, I'm far to lazy to do so anyways.)

But I have a plan.

And it centers around bedding.

Kristina has been forced to live with un-pink bedding thus far in her little life, mostly as a direct result of Mommy's attempts to match the red and blue fort part of her loft bed AND the atrociously green walls of her room.

So a bed fully decked out in the pinkest of pink sheets and blankets (and maybe a few of the stuffed ponies I have hidden away if I start to get desperate), well, I'm pretty sure it'll just about blow her mind.

However, as Adrianna is still too young to voice her opinion in any articulation beyond a few loud squawks and a well timed bit with her razor sharp new daggers of doom teeth,  some very important bedding decisions have fallen on me alone.

Like whether to get two copies of the exact same bedding set or two different ones.

Should they both be pink? The same pink or different pink? Would Adrianna feel left out not having pink? Would Kristina prefer the individuality of them being different? What about polka dots? Or purple?

Can I find appropriately coordinating pink wall stickers for this?

(Wall stickers: the other big part of my master pink plan.)

(I also fully plan on unleashing the full titans of a princess themed bathroom as well if the room seems a little lacking.)

So I picked out the sweetest room that could be for the two of them, with perfectly coordinating but still unique bedding sets dressed to the teeth.

It's adorable.

It's precious.

It's Pottery Barn Kids.

Crap..........

Do you KNOW how much that shit, albeit adorable beyond words and probably of decent quality, costs?!!

Ah well, it was fun to do, and can totally be the inspiration for when I go buy the actual bedding sets from the Target knock off options.

See the adorable PBK bedding selections here.

Editors Note: The link is refusing to include Adrianna's sheet selection, the purple polka dots. Might I suggest adding them to get the full effect of adorableness? Last sheet option 'mini dot: lavender' 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mail Art and Other Rambles

I recently came across Exploding Doughnut through the amazing powers of the magic eight ball of blogger life (aka 'blogs of note'), and was truly smitten by his Mail Art projects.

Soooo freaking cool!

And it involves pretty paper and scissors and glue!

I love glue!!

(Probably because I really suck at crafty things generally classified as "sewing".)

I could run out to Michael's real quick and get a bunch of stuff to make 60 or 70 Christmas tree shaped ones (and three Stars of David, of course) with holiday themed scrap booking paper and some wrapping paper and maybe some glitter.....

*pause*

When would I get around to doing this in the next three weeks?

Ah yes, probably between the baby's midnight and 1:30 am feedings.

I really should be sleeping right then.

Or at least cleaning the horribly neglected toy room that is contemplating eating my children alive each time the enter it.

(Our house hasn't been shown in two weeks. Apparently I've lost all will to clean without a huge crushing deadline looming over me. Such is life.)

Hrrmmmmmmmmm....

*strokes imaginary goatee thoughtfully*

I know!

I could make ONE with all the scrap booking paper I swore I would use making a baby scrap book for Kristina that's had a whole 3 pages done in it in as many years.

And I could send it to the Exploding Doughnut guy! As a thank you for such an awesome project idea! And maybe he'd like it enough to blog about me and my awesomeness it! And maybe I'd make new blogger friends! And be blogger cool!

After all, the people who send lots of stuff in the mail totally do so because they really like getting lots of stuff in the mail.

And bloggers by trade are lonely shut ins looking for life validation and purpose through the computer screen.

He'd totally dig it!

One little card, perhaps a simple circle in shape......

This is a totally a do-able project! Something I might actually complete in less than three weeks, provided the baby takes a good nap while Kristina's in preschool today.

Now, where's all my craft stuff?

Ah yes, it's in a box right down in... the...... basement.............

*sob*

My craft supplies got eaten by the basement poo monster and now I can't even make a stupid card while the baby is napping to suck up to a total stranger so I might have blogger friends who would send me pretty paper cards some time!!!

*sob*

*sob*

*sob*

But it's ok....

This is a problem.

But it is easily fixable.

I just need to eat some chocolate.

And take some deep breathes.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.........And spend $40 on some pretty paper and glue at Michael's.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Going to the Movies

A brief guide for the uninitiated.

(And by uninitiated, I mean childless.)

The quantity of children must always outnumber the quantity of adults (as only a few adults will ever be crazy enough at any one time to want to attend a children's movie with children along), however it is advisable to keep the numbers no greater than a 3:1 ratio for safety reasons.

(Like when each mama is taking their screaming baby out of the theater, somebody needs to still be sitting there with the preschoolers.)

((However, older children can be set free to wallow in popcorn unsupervised beyond the homing device you implanted into their shoe, cell phone tracker, and small set of hired guards with night vision goggles in the back of the theater.))

Popcorn is a necessity, as it not only keeps complaints from being voiced about their lack of popcorn when everyone else in the theater obviously has some, but it also occupies their mouths and hands for a solid 45 minutes.

(Two thirds of which will be spent viewing the previews and iphone advertisements.)

Drinks are also advisable as a direct counter measure to the over-salted popcorn, but be forewarned, it's no-win situation. If you just get a big one to share with the children you too will have to suffer through drinking chunks of backwashed popcorn. However, the "kiddie sized" cups are larger than a normal coffee mug, instantly producing large quantities of potty need in small children (who guzzle the soda treat like frat boys with a pony-keg) and pose quite the spill risk when being manhandled by someone sitting on your jacket.

Avoid the candy at all costs. It's overpriced and the quantity in the package will send your children into hypoglycemic spasms. However, your emergency packets of fun sized M&Ms may be brought forth from the diaper bag in emergency situations as per any other time in life.

(Just don't let the theater staff catch you.)

Get napkins. At least one small tree's worth. Or better yet, just make sure you have your emergency roll (or three) of paper towels handy from the diaper bag. Because you WILL need them. In all likelihood, more than once.

For situations like the baby enthusiastically lunging into the popcorn, and immediately demonstrating why popcorn is a baby choking hazard by choking on it, and then hurling all over herself, you, your seat, and the floor when she hacks the half a kernel back out.

Or the preschooler spilling her godzilla-child-sized Sprite all over herself, her seat, your jacket, and the floor.

Wear sturdy shoes with laces and good treads. You'll need them to decrease your chances of falling from the now soaked and ridiculously slippery (and possibly bio-hazard) theater floor.

Anticipate not seeing most of the movie, and buy the CliffNotes ahead of time to answer your child's questions about "Who's that? What happened to the witch? Where is her castle? Can I have a lizard too?" which will inevitably come about when she sees the promotional poster in the lobby upon exiting the theater.

("Sweetheart, it was an iguana whose name I cannot recall as I did not get to reading the character list in CliffNotes yet. And you know Mommy has strict rules against pets that eat live food.")

Also, it's preferable to refrain from making a smart ass remark about them not watching the movie either. Small children do not understand sarcasm, and it makes your awesome (as clearly demonstrated by your children still being alive) parenting tactics look questionable to nearby and judgmental childless busybodies.

But it is not all bad.

You'll have plenty of opportunity to bond with some new friends (incidentally, often also holding cranky babies) at the back of the theater.

(And you'll get a front row seat for the punk teenagers playing tonsil hockey while poorly babysitting their younger siblings.)

And you'll get quite the aerobic work out sprinting back and forth to the restroom half a dozen times thanks to the ominous and frequent "I hafta go POTTY!" shout from those who may or may not be related to you, and regardless of blood line who you swear you are going to leave duct taped to the bathroom wall one of these days.

(This will also allow ample opportunities to wash the baby ooze off of yourself and the baby a little better.)

((Especially important if you did not come properly prepared with a full roll of paper towels and had to resort to conducting spit up control using the random pink baby sock you found in the bottom of your purse.))

But above all else, remember, these are family bonding moments which your children will remember forever.

Much like when your car broke down in the pouring rain (which you will be reminded of every. single. day. for the rest of your life), or the time their baby sister sneezed spaghetti out of her nose.

Yep, family memories in the making here.

(Even if they don't remember the movie either.)



I had previously posted about a movie going experience in which I may have even used the words "relaxing and fun" to describe the event. I would like to sincerely apologize for misleading you, apparently I was either high, suffering from temporary brain damage and/or memory loss, or getting my once-in-a-lifetime never-to-be-repeated winning-the-lottery-esk experience that day. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Child Exploitation

Some people have worries about exploiting their precious pumpkinhead or child privacy or long term consequences of writing detailed information about extracting cat hairs from their poo holes.

(Dear children, when you're 12 and I'm famous and making lots of money for blogging but you get teased about the poo stories, I'm sorry. I'll buy you a pony and we'll call it even, ok?)

In fact, there was a pole in Parenting Magazine that put 89% of respondents being AGAINST having their children star in a reality tv show.

Perhaps I am materialistic and overly money motivated in life.

Perhaps I don't value family privacy or have a very good view the long term impact of stuff.

Perhaps I just see the world a little differently....

But if someone is willing to pay me $250,000 an episode to follow me and my horde around with cameras a few days a week, well.... I'd totally take it!

The wife of a cousin of Peter's, Heather, recently had an adorable little baby boy.

But her and her hubby have made a very interesting decision.

They're not putting up baby pictures on facebook.

(Obviously I personally do not share their concerns for my children, and will totally paste their photos anywhere that I can get small doses of life validation from acquaintances cooing over their earth shattering adorableness.)

And although I haven't asked, I'm kinda assuming the same "not wanting pictures of their baby online" ideology kinda covers my blog too.

Which is only really a problem when I want to discuss the awesomeness of Heather and all the pictures I have of her are of her holding her baby.

I mean, how else can I gush about how wonderful she is for reasons maybe even beyond regularly reading my blog without appropriately supporting photographic evidence?!

But I have come up with a solution! It is brilliant, if I might say so myself, and obviously the product of a truly extraordinary mind coupled with an unbelievably artistic hand.

So dearest and most awesome Heather, this is for you!

Awesome Heather in all her awesome glory.
Thanks for reading my blog, I really appreciate it :-)

As for the rest of you, feel free to break into applause at any time over the awesomeness of that artwork.

Because simply put, it's. just. awesome.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ra Ra Riot

I love the use of lighting in this.

And the cats are pretty cool too.

Ra Ra Riot: "Boy"

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Great Basement Capper

Other titles considered for this post included 'Poostock 2010', 'Finding the Fountain of Shit', and 'What Do You Do with a Pile of Poo?'
Completely unrelated adorable kitten Whispey.


You know, just in case those topics terrify you and you want to start running now.

So, a few weeks back I mentioned discovering our basement collecting water while frantically cleaning to show the house in 20 minutes.

When Peter got home from work that evening, he determined that it looked like the sump pump (an old and worn looking thing that came in basement when we bought the place) had failed to turn on for unknown reasons, then as the water level increased it got soaked which was making it short out when he tried to turn it.

He proceeded to set it up out of the water to let it dry out, with the intention of trying to turn it on again in a little bit.

And I did a load of laundry.

And raised the water level in the basement.

We, being the logical people we are, decided that the washing machine must be what flooded it in the first place, and made note to check the hose and related connections later.

And then went and did important things.

(Like going to bed.)

The next day brought about a dry but still nonfunctional sump pump, so Peter invested a new one.

Now, everything up to this point really didn't seem like that huge of a deal, more of a minor inconvenience than a huge disaster about to erupt, and Peter and I were pretty sure we knew fairly well what we were doing and that we were totally able to handle it. 

(It's ok, those of you who know how this ends can start laughing now.)

So we hooked up the new sump pump, and turned it on.

The new sump pump, being new and shiny, did exactly what it was supposed to do and started energetically sucking up all the water.

And water started energetically spewing out from somewhere behind the washer.

So we turned it off, and went in for a much closer look at just what was going on behind the laundry facilities.

The whole basement interconnecting plumbing system is just PVC pipe, which feeds into the cast iron sewer line going out of the house. And there is a little up branch of PVC pipe that has a loop and three little holes branching off the top of it, one that the washing machine feeds into, one that the sump pump feeds into, and one that was spewing out water when either the sump pump or the washing machine were used.

Alright! We figured out why the washing machine flooded the basement! And it's not the washing machine being broken! Go us!

And upon further examination it appeared that the third water-spewing branch should have a cap on it.

Which made perfect sense at the time seeing the water coming out of it.

So Peter went to the hardware store and got a PVC cap and some PVC plastic melting glue, and set about sealing the hole up.

After it had thoroughly dried, we turned the sump pump on again.

And had a glimmer of insight that this problem might be a little bigger than previously anticipated, as the water still did not go down the pipe.

Ok, the pipe must be clogged. But toilets flush fine and water goes down the sink drain, so it must be a localized problem just with the washer/sump pump system, right? It does have the funky loop thing in the middle just begging to get stopped up from too many Kleenex's being left in pockets being run through the washing machine..... right?

(Right?!?)

((Yeah, right..........))

So then we have the brilliant idea of, instead of calling a plumber, to try to cut off the little PVC spurt that the washer and sump pump feed into, and see if we can get the clog out that way.

This was a very bad idea.

Of course, we sure didn't know it at the time, and actually were both readily convinced that it was a pretty reasonable course of action to take. PVC pipe is easy to fix and cheap to replace. And plumbers aren't readily available on Sunday evenings anyways, let alone cheap.....

So Peter got out his little saws-all saw, and went right ahead with our PVC limb removal.

And that was when we really realized that we had a problem.

No, not a little water in the basement of the house you're trying to sell problem, but one much, much worse.

Because of how the pipes are set both going down into the basement and back up out to bring water out of the house and to the town sewer system, this little section we were working on happened to be at the lowest point in the whole internal plumbing system.

Which only matters when gravity is considered.

As soon as Peter had sliced through the pipe and went to move it, sewage started fountaining out.

And I do mean fountaining

I have never seen anything like it in my life.

Murky water was shooting up several feet into the air with (and I mean this in the most literal sense) chunks of turds flying out.

I scrambled up onto the basement stairs, and Peter showed off some excellent reflexes and reaction time for getting out the way of the suddenly unleashed filth (and not falling down into the mess he was dodging).

The eruption did eventually slow to more of a gurgle with an occasional special chunk popping out, and Peter and my brains started to turn back on and find words beyond profanity.

Well, they still included a lot of profanity, but there was some good old fashioned panic thrown in too.

Did I mention that up to this point I had been planning on leaving the next day to drive to DC for Thanksgiving? And that we're trying to sell the house? And that sewage reeks a terrible, terrible stench???

Retrospectively speaking, we may have actually done a good thing releasing the built up pressure of filth into the basement, because with the sewer clog being so complete and, judging from the quantity already built up in the pipes running through our house, it probably wouldn't have been long before it did start coming out at other drain sources and causing all sorts of havoc other places in the house. The basement explosion at least kept it localized, and it was a better place for it than, say, my bathroom. 

But that sure wasn't how I was thinking that night.

However, since it was nearly 11 on a Sunday night, we decided that there really wasn't much that we could do about the problem RIGHT THEN, and that shutting the basement door and going to bed was the way to go.

No more splodge was flowing out into the basement (as long as we didn't turn on the faucet or flush a toilet or run the dishwasher), and it's not like the crap was going anywhere....

And then morning came.

Nothing like waking up to that lovely stench wafting out through a not-nearly-smell-proof-enough basement door, which just so happens to be located in the kitchen, to make one decide that breakfast is a highly overrated meal and can be skipped. 

And talk about motivation to call for reinforcements! I got in touch with our local plumber (who, incidentally, had already been to our house twice before since we've owned it and knows me by name and tells me stories about when he lived in the house next door thirty years ago), told him I'd leave the door unlocked, and took Kristina to preschool.

Peter, because he is awesome, managed to get off of work after PT (that'd be 'physical training', aka all Army personal taking a 6am five mile run followed by some good old fashioned core muscle training), and came home to talk to the plumber and see how things were going while I hid upstairs in the least smelly room in the house with Adrianna.

The plumber was able to fairly quickly discern that the problem wasn't in our internal house plumbing at all, but rather somewhere in the city pipes. And since he's lived in this town his whole life and been the town plumber for most of it, he knew exactly who to call to get the city guys out here with their mega sized router snake.

And about this time it occurred to somebody down there in that shit covered basement that we needed to start airing out the house before the smell became a permanent fixture in carpeting and furniture.

No worries though, it was a balmy 36 degrees out, a perfect day for opening up all the windows.....

So then Adrianna and I were hanging out attempting to stay warm in the least smelliest room in the house, until I finally fled under some guise of getting myself lunch (as the kitchen was still being ranked as unusable on account of stench) and picking Kristina up early.

And Peter, in all of his awesome glory, got on the phone with our insurance company.

After several calls back and forth it came down to this: insurance would not cover the plumber's visit, they would pay all costs for having it professionally cleared out and cleaned, they would send a dry cleaning company to collect the soft (clothing, bedding, etc) items which they thought they could clean, and they would cut us a check for lost items once photographed and inventoried minus a $500 deductible.

Which also lead to us spending several quality evenings in the pouring rain and snow going through bags of shit covered clothing to determine (and photograph) how many pairs of pants to put down on the claim.

Good times..... for those who like being wet and cold and smelly and tired. Luckily Peter and I are greatly motivated by the money factor, and are eagerly anticipating the check that will come for the 27 pairs of jeans that were down there.

As for the basement itself, well.... it's actually much more spacious looking now that there's nothing down there. And I've been assured that the chemical smell from it being cleaned (which is still highly preferable from what it was smelling like before cleaning) will fade.

Eventually.