Friday, December 30, 2011

Grandma's Stockings

(Whaddayamean it's a week after Christmas and I was supposed to get this post blogged about in something like a timely just before Christmas manner? Psssh, what sort of expectations do you have of me, people?! Besides, at the rate I'm going you'll probably get the blog post covering Christmas morning itself about St. Patrick's day or so.....) 

Once upon a time, my mother spent the first two years of my life making me the biggest and best personalized Christmas stocking in the world.

And then she spent all the following years going to great pains to fill it for me every Christmas morning.

She decided she needed to make one for Kristina as well, when Kristina came along.

However, cross-stitch patterns had changed a bit in the last 22 years, and Kristina's stocking ended up being one of the biggest challenges (and then achievements) of my mother's sewing career.

The detail and craftsmanship in it is just phenomenal, with intricate shading and sparkly threads and teeny tiny berry beads sewn on.

And then Adrianna entered the picture, and of course needed a personalized stocking of her own as well.

So this Christmas we had all three of them up for the first time, and it made for an incredibly sweet family collection which will grace our home every holiday season for MANY years to come.

(Even if they have to be placed high up on the wall to avoid potential from children and/or cats.)



The Gender Effect of My Little Pony

My Little Pony collectors and enthusiasts have existed as long as the Hasbro line of children's toys have (since 1982, to be exact).

However, for a VERY long time the group was nearly entirely female.

My MLP message board from my collecting days had no male members at all.

The megahub online forum had (and this is a generous estimate) a half dozen regulars of the manlier sex out of thousands of daily visitors.

But then, something happened with the latest generation of ponies.....

A new tv show came out along with the Generation 4 characters, and the show is just awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that it has created a new culture-cult following called...
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THE BRONIES! 

Yep, a self identified assortment of men who absolutely adore the latest take on My Little Pony characters.

Now don't get me wrong, there is STILL a big movement with ponies equating to compassion and understanding and shitting rainbows and all, which is totally great as it was a big part of their appeal to me and becoming a member of the pony community in the first place.

And really, the more pony lovers out there in the world the better. I mean come on, ponies are simply awesome, people.

But why did it take a gender swing in the fanbase to not only coin an awesome term for the casual My Little Pony enthusiast, but to create newly universal symbols of such with the brohoof.

They now have their very own meme section of the LOLcat's website for crying out loud!!

When it was just girls adoring the pastel equestrian awesomeness, it was dismissed as a silly hobby and kept isolated to the intweb bubbles solely devoted to their adoration where things like fan-art, pony jokes, collecting, and inter-geek pony customization were kept.

When the boys get on the ponies-are-the-greatest-thing-since-chocolate bandwagon, it's suddenly something new and amazing and cool.

Dammit, I was brohoofing before it was "in" society, and being plenty manly about it too.



But at least I can take comfort in the fact that all the cool (and by cool, I pretty much mean awesomely geeky) people now praise My Little Pony and mock the super lame sparkling vampireness of Twilight.

(Twilight: a kinda crappy book series that then got to be a movie with a rather pathetic female protagonist and douchebag sparkly vampire leading man.)

((No, I'm not kidding, he really is SPARKLY!))

Heroines from Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Wars, Star Trek

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Up on the Housetop

I still couldn't coax my children to preform a Christmas song for the blog.

However, Kristina's preschool teachers had much more success on that front, and created a truly adorable holiday performance of the kiddos.

(Kristina is in the front in the stripped dress with a star on her head for this number.)

((And my apologies for the wiggly video in the middle, Adrianna was grabbing at the camera.....))



Up on the Housetop, as preformed by Over the Rainbow preschool class for their Winter Program 2011

And Adrianna was adorably festive while sporting her pink sequined Santa hat in the audience.

Well, until she wanted to be up on stage with them, and then spent half the performance throwing a loud tantrum over the fact that I wouldn't let her up on stage with the other kids....

She wasn't quite as adorable then.

I also had the realization that Kristina will be graduating preschool at their Spring Program, and that next Christmas it will be Adrianna up on that stage and Kristina sitting in the audience.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Vintage Cookies

My mother recently made holiday sugar cookies with the girls.

I knew the cookie cutters she used from my own childhood, but they are in fact much older than that and were my Grandmother's once upon a time.

After making the cookies, my mom commented that she thought these were reaching the point where the needed to be retired.

And I just hope "retired" means I can still keep them (vs. the "retired" that means they get sent to Goodwill). Because they're nothing if not vintagely awesome family heirlooms.


The infamous cookie cutters (Christmas tree, star, bell, and Santa Clause), in front of their latest batch of delicious sugar cookies. 


The Christmas trees are still my yummy favorite after all these years. Although that might just be because they're also the biggest.....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Sleepover at the Stable

This year was Kristina's first time being involved in a church Christmas program.

And I *may* have been looking forward to it for the last 11 months.

However, as I was fully expecting her to be the most adorable little Angel ever, I was a little surprised when she was cast as a Chicken.

Yes, a Chicken.

Yeah, I didn't remember one being particularly prominent in the traditional Christmas story either.

But then I got to watch them practice it, and had the amazing realization that they weren't doing the traditional Christmas play.

The story the kids were doing was the usual Mary-Joseph-noroomattheinn-babyJesusinamanger deal, but it was narrated by the motley crew of animals that ended up in the stables.

And Kristina's role as a Chicken had her paired with an older child-as-Chicken, where she mimiced everything he said in an incredibly adorable comic relief way.

It also ensured that she didn't have to remember any lines or timing for doing anything besides parroting (chickening??) her poultry partner.

And it was very, very cute.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dear Jewish People

Please write more awesome Hanukkah songs. This is the last one in my repertoire, which means next year you're likely to get my children singing Dradle Dradle Dradle....

Oh, and Happy Hannukkah!




Candlelight by The Maccabeats

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Great Furniture Escapade, pt 2

A continuation of The Great Furniture Escapade, pt 1....

I scheduled the storage pods for delivery to the Target parking lot, which was at a very helpful 'some time between 9 and 5' time, and set about tracking down a Uhaul.

I felt exceptionally well prepared, as I actually looked up the size dimensions of the pods and did the math to ensure I knew what size truck we needed, instead of my usual method of just going "uh... that one!!" without any further thought involved.

I reserved the truck, and even made sure it would be ok if we did a later pick up (you know, in case the storage pods weren't coming until closer to the 5 end of that time frame) and kept it an extra day.

I also went to town working on tracking down helping friends (aka Target coworkers) to move stuff.

The time frame for delivery, however, made it especially hard to plan with people.

So I had a long list. People who agreed to come in before their shift started, people who agreed to stay after their shift ended, people who were off and free during the day but not in the evening, people who were off and free in the morning, people who were off and free in the late afternoon.....

A lot of people agreed to help, certainly more than I had expected (I have to admit, I briefly had a moment of grander as result of actually possibly having friends). But still not as many as would have been ideal at any one time, because of the scheduling craziness.

And then, the delivery day arrived.

When all was said and done, I was very happy that the storage company DIDN'T show up right at 9am, as I spent the first couple hours that morning finishing up cleaning and moving stuff that was still in the basement, to make room for all the anticipated furniture coming in.

I had been up pretty late the night before, as apparently my "clean like crazy" mode doesn't kick in until after 9pm (I noticed that getting the house ready to show out in New York as well, when I was most efficient between midnight and 2am), so I was also somewhat tired that morning... which really helped coping with the stress for the day.......

And then, the call came saying that they'd be dropping the pods at noon.

I had just warmed up some delicious leftover lasagna (because my mommy is awesome), having had the thought that if I didn't get lunch right then I might not get it at all, which proved more correct than I could have guessed and also led to some serious speed eating while also frantically trying to finish the last little few cleaning things and get a hold of my mid day helpers to get out the door asap to go get the truck.

Adrianna had ended up with an ear infection the day before, so my mother elected to be the one staying with her (and then to pick up Kristina when preschool was done) while my dad and I headed down the mountain.

The Uhaul pickup was uneventful, although I did get slightly lost in my attempt to get across downtown Boulder by turning a road that did NOT do what I thought it did.

(Luckily the truck took longer than my detour.)

When I arrived at Target, the pods were on the far side of the employee parking lot like I had requested they be parked, neatly lined up in two parking spots with the guy chilling in his forklift next to them undoubtedly just waiting for me to bother to show up.

I was struck by the size of them, as I had certainly remembered them being bigger. Although they certainly didn't seem bigger when we had been packing them, and discarding things left and right simply for a lack of space.

I had managed to keep track of the keys to the units, through the craziness of the move and the long months in Colorado, which I was exceptionally proud of (despite my father's back up plan of bringing along the lock cutters), and felt mildly successful when I unlocked them without issue.

And then I cracked open one of the doors and had a whole bunch of stuff fall on me.

Thus the unpacking to repack began.

There was a brief moment where I seriously wondered whether the promised help would in fact appear, but luckily my two mid-day people were less flaky than my two afternoon people as the first two did show up, albeit one was running a little late, while the second two didn't.

And then, as we were approaching being about half way done pulling stuff out and moving it into the Uhaul, the Executives showed up.

A pair of them, who seemed slightly relieved by the fact that it was Team Members causing this minor chaos in the parking lot, while certainly not above poking fun about it for the following weeks.

They also were not inclined to help move the couch.

(Which would actually kinda be why I didn't hit up any of them in the first place to help move stuff, because I didn't think they would.... but we'll get back to my communication with the Executive level later.)

But they did make their way back to the store without much fuss, after my fervent promises that this would be resolved quickly and vacating their parking lot as soon as possible.

Apparently picking a Friday three weeks before Christmas was NOT a date to have stuff dropped in the Target parking lot.

But a little while later, it got much, much worse.

The store Team Lead (aka ultimate top level big boss man manager) arrived to work, and was NOT happy about being greeted with my little parking lot endeavor.

Although irritating the Executives certainly wasn't something I'd rank as a good thing, the pair of them didn't actually fill me with fear.

The visit from the top boss did.

However, I swore up and down that we would be done very (VERY) soon, and that his parking lot would be quickly returned to it's previous unoccupied-by-Marty's-poorly-planned-projects state.

There was a moment towards the end of loading the Uhaul were the big pieces of furniture weren't fitting very well, and it took some serious Tetris maneuvering to get it all to fit in, but otherwise the actual loading process of stuff went much quicker than I thought it would.

And then I called to have them pick up the storage pods.

And was told they won't pick them up the same day they dropped them off.

Or on the weekend.

Crappy crap crap................

And it was only getting better. One of the most wonderful helpers had to take off (as he had fully disclosed during my recruiting processes that he wasn't available during the second half of the afternoon), while the two people who were supposed to be filling in for him... well, didn't.

So then I had the wonderful pleasure of going into Target to disclose the several day long stay of the storage pods to the top boss and attempt to track down more people who might be getting off soon to help.

Nearly all the Executives were having one of their special Executive-only lunches at the big table in Starbucks, which did not exactly help in lessening the intimidating factor of the task at hand.

The store manager was fairly dismissive of me, and I really wasn't sure if that indicated that he had accepted it for what it was and didn't care any more, or if he really just didn't want to deal with me in the slightest right then.

Or perhaps he really just liked his salad, and wanted to finish it in peace.

(I've been laying low the last week at work, trying to avoid attracting attention of the higher ups in general, and I have yet to hear anything further from him about the incident, or anything else for that matter.)

((However, I HAVE gotten quite a bit of heckling from the original two parking lot visiting Executives about it. Just to make sure I knew it was a really stupid thing to do.))

So then I went in search of possible recruits from my coworkers.

Unfortunately, I just missed a few coming off and found many who were agreeable but wouldn't be off until much later than I had hoped to get things done, and my potential recruitment pool was waning quickly.

And then, I stumbled across my personal Executive working out on the floor with the Christmas trees.

I certainly prefer him to many of the other Executives in the store (and even for reasons beyond him not being as caught up in the clicky Executive lunch bunch as the rest), and in general feel like he's more approachable about things than some of the others.

Plus he IS my direct boss's boss level of manager in the chain of command.

So I stopped and asked him if he could make the store manager not be mad at me.

Which may not have been a particularly good move right then, as he proceeded to (nicely but clearly) point out all the ways I horribly screwed up in doing this, most notably my lack of communication to any of the Executives about it.

And he was right.

And it really rather made me want to cry.

I don't like screwing up. I don't like other people knowing I screwed up. I don't like admitting to the full depths of screwing up through my own personal stupidity.

And yet, it feels like I've been in that place a lot lately.

However, standing in the middle of Target right then was not the time to worry about such things, for my father was already headed up the mountain with the Uhaul full of my furniture with the full expectation of me meeting him with helpers to move said furniture out of the truck and into the house. And I still needed to track down another one (or five) of those coveted laborers friends.

I did find a few of the backroom guys (and got a few very strange looks from the backroom Team Lead about me being back there in street clothes in the process, although he at least either decided it wasn't worth mentioning or was to busy doing his work to be bothered by it) who would be getting off in the late afternoon who agreed to the endeavor. Which then meant I just had to wait.

At that point I tracked down the one helper I still had at my disposal, to update him with the somewhat dismal state of things.

And he offered the idea of recruiting his roommate, so the furniture moving could happen without waiting another few hours.

Admittedly, I had gone after my coworkers for the very specific reason that they were accustomed to working, with long days and lots of manual labor and heavy lifting. And his roommate was not this. But, as I certainly wasn't looking at any better options right then, I went for it.

We got everything out of the truck and into the garage, and got most of the heavy stuff into the basement.

However, my volunteered help bulked at a couple of the biggest pieces down the slightly icy slope of  a backyard we have.

So the success of only needing the Uhaul for 6 hours was counter-weighed by the fact that I still need to get people back up here to move those two things. It's one of those projects that will take 4 people 10 minutes, but because we live in Nederland, there's another hour and a half of drive time and logistical complications added in.

However, several who were unable to help that day have since volunteered to come up when they asked how things turned out and I mentioned I still needed to move two very heavy pieces of furniture... which was very kind of them and something I'll try to take them up on once I get the motivation together for it.

But it's not going to be tomorrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Great Furniture Escapade, pt 1

Remember last March when I spent a weekend flying out to our house in upstate New York to pack up a sizable portion of household goods into storage pods to then ship across the country and into a storage facility in Denver?

Yeah, I don't really remember much about doing it either.

Although apparently I wrote one two three blog posts on the subject. Now if only I had included a snippet about what we did with the tv remote somewhere in there, they would actually be USEFUL records of the event. 

Back shortly before Thanksgiving, my parents brought about that nice little dose of reality that had been lacking in all my furniture decisions up to that point.

You know, the one pivoting on how I wasn't moving out of their basement any time soon. 

*sniffle*

It's ok, I'm only a highly independent 26 year old adult with two children who got accustomed to having my own real house to live in....

*sob*

Once I finally stopped denying that one, I was in full agreement that continuing to pay ridiculous amounts of money to store my stuff was stupid wasteful.

Thus we came up with the brilliantest of brilliant plans: Unpack ALL the things!!

It proved more complicated than originally anticipated.

Apparently, a detail I had overlooked (or been so convinced at it's irrelevance at the time that it didn't register) in the initial storage-unit-obtainment-process was that the shipping company would only deliver from trucks to Nederland, and NOT drop the storage pods up here.

Crap....

Ok, all I have to do is rent a Uhaul, recruit some friends, drive to wherever the main storage facility is somewhere in the metro Denver area, unpack the storage pods, load it all into the truck, drive to Nederland (several hours away from Denver), unpack the truck and return it, and move all the furniture into the basement.

In like, 6 hours. Because otherwise some serious "what do I do with my children??" issues start coming up.

Crap.....

But wait, another brilliant idea! Lets have the pods dropped in BOULDER, for that is a mere 45 minutes away from my parents' house and if nothing else will save a few Uhaul dollars and several hours of drive time.

Now where could I put them in Boulder....

Peter's Aunt&Uncle's residence? Eh, their street is kinda narrow and steep, not ideal for working with a large truck, and I wouldn't want to take up their driveway like that for a few days.

Coworker's offered apartment complex in downtown? Well, at least it probably wouldn't be the weirdest thing that's ever happened moving wise in that parking lot thanks to college students, but I don't even know where it is much less have any idea about how stuff could fit in it.

Hrmmmm.....

*strokes imaginary goatee thoughtfully*

I know!! I could stick them in TARGET'S parking lot!!!

Large, spacious, easy to maneuver trucks in, comes well stocked with coworkers to recruit for heavy lifting, everyone knows where it is. Yep. Can't think of a better space, definitely an excellent idea if I do say so myself.

Except for the soon-to-be-realized part where it wasn't.

To be continued....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blogging? What's That?

Alright.

I may have been slightly remiss in the keeping of this blog the past few... weeks.......

But I have been busy! Working at work and working on moving furniture and working on super top secret stuff!

Oh, and I think I went to sleep at like 8 one night. Just because I was tired.

(I know, I am SO lame, right??)

So, my apologies for being a less-than-ideal blogger this month.

I do intend to stop being so lame.

One of these days.....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Swords, Keyboards, and My Little Pony

I got my furniture out of storage yesterday.

And the guys that helped out were rather amazed by the diversity of Marty's hobbies, as they pulled out a sword and fighting staff, keyboard and music books, and a few My Little Pony items.

Which I think just shows that I'm a pretty rockin' well rounded person.

(Liberal Arts FTW!)

The process of dealing with the furniture and storage situation ended up being long and complicated and far more of a pain to do than it should have been.

But it is done.

And I am tired.

And life is busy.

And I will be attempting to put things in order for the next year.

And the energy and motivation for blogging just isn't here right now.

But, please be distracted by this less-well-known-but-still-really-awesome Christmas carol that I happen to adore.



A Soalin by Peter Paul and Mary, circa 1963

Also, I feel as though this is important and worthy of more commentary and connected to this song, but the further analysis just isn't there in my head tonight.  But please feel free to do your own and post it in the comments!

xkcd: Tradition

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oh Christmas Cards

Christmas cards may not be happening this year.

The holiday picture and accompanying two page letter of our life updates was a VERY big deal Kristina's first Christmas.
Kristina and I assembling Christmas cards 2007

Our family Christmas Card picture was taken in October, I spent quite a bit of time selecting the proper paper to write the stupidly long weird sounding third person year summary on, and had everything in the mail December first, swearing I would do this every year for infinity.

Kristina's second Christmas found the family pictures to still be important and much thought was given to the "we just moved to Oklahoma so lets dress super western" outfits, but there was no letter and they didn't get into the mail as early as I wanted.

Kristina's third Christmas and Adrianna's first found us on fast dissolving ground as a family, as the decision to divorce had already been made and plans for the girls and I driving across the country the beginning of January were already in place, so there were no photo studio family portraits. I did attempt a picture of the girls in matching dresses standing by the Christmas tree to send out, but it was a pretty epic posed picture failure and ultimately I just wasn't in the place to care beyond that.

And then there's this year..... as it's already December 5th and I have yet to get us into a portrait studio, I'm certainly pushing it on that possibility even existing any more. I had all sorts of big ideas throughout the last 6 months, and really liked the looks of matching pink family sweaters or plaid and lace Christmas pajamas for me and the girls. But budgets this year have not been friendly for buying family outfits or getting lots of pictures taken, and time is scarce, and my personal levels of motivation for this (or like, anything....) just aren't up very high this year.

It's not been the greatest year to want to reflect on, and writing that cheesy generic Christmas letter just seems... depressingly pointless?

If people want to know what we have done and how we have grown over the past year, it's all right here for them to read. Days and weeks and months are all documented through stories and pictures and videos, in an open access internet forum that anyone can look at should they so choose. If people care, they read it, and if they don't care enough to do so why should I care enough to send them the cliff notes version?

I am kinda sad professional pictures haven't happened yet (it's been a year and a half since our last portrait studio visit). But sometimes there's only so much caring I can give life, and things like never-ending financial/divorce issues to deal with have just continued to suck it all out of me.

Figuring out how to make family pajamas in a portrait studio happen is sadly beyond me today.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Attainment of the Key of Power

Friday at work was an infamous day which will undoubtedly go into the history books as it was the day I was personally bestowed with the Key of Power.

Ok, it's not really the ULTIMATE Key of Power for Target, nor was it presented with any more ceremony than simply being handed to me, but it's still a pretty powerful little key.

The key goes to the baler (the magical machine that smooshes cardboard boxes onto neat hay-bale-esk contraptions) and allows me to crush it on my whim.

A big part of my specific job involves taking stuff out of boxes and consequently cleaning up the trash (including cardboard boxes) afterwards.

And before Friday, if the baler was full and I needed to put in more boxes, I had to summon and/or patiently wait for someone with the Key of Power to come by and crush it for me.

My Team Lead (aka direct boss of instocks) has one, most of the guys who work in the backroom have them, most of the executives got one with the rest of their Ultimate Keys of Power, and there are a select few sales floor team members who have managed to attain one during their tenure at Target through various (occasionally questionable) means.

However, they are NOT the sort of thing just given out to anyone who works there (although I would argue a lot more of them really should be given out to those, like instocks, who spend their entire days putting crap into the baler), and to get one is a long and complicated bureaucratic process.

Haha, I'm just kidding! It's not the government for crying out loud.

No, the distributor of the Key of Power is the maintenance guy.

He's one of the select few Target employees who does not wear red and khaki, and he is a very crucial person for keeping things working in the store.

Stock tub wheel is stuck? He fixes it. Front doors aren't opening right? He fixes it. TVs in electronics going batty? He fixes it. Bathroom light motion sensor faulty? He fixes it. Leaking roof? He... gets a bucket.

(Yeah, I'm actually not kidding on the last one, but that's a story for another day.)

And another few thousand things that I'm not even aware of he fixes as well, I'm sure.

But after asking around (a lot) about getting one, the answer every single person gave me was I needed to ask him for it and await judgment.

And when I finally managed to politely inquire about whether I could have one (you know, after attempting to ensure that he didn't think I was a complete bumbling idiot), he told sure but it would cost me $50.

I was pretty sure he was kidding.... but not entirely sure whether it meant 'yes' or 'no'.

And although I did have a backup plan which involved chocolate chip cookies to help my "please give me a baler key" cause, he went ahead and got me one before I got around to baking!

And I *may* have felt the need to brag to tell every single fellow employee in the store about it.

Which made everything that much better when I couldn't find my Key of Power three hours later.....

*ahem*

BUT, after genuinely thinking I had lost it (and giving everyone a very amusing afternoon while I attempted to find it... "you lost it ALREADY?!?" was said. A lot. Along with "[Maintenance Guy] is never going to give you another one.") it turned up in my pocket (I swear I checked there. A lot.) when I was putting my work pants in the hamper later.

So I still have my Key of Power, and have gotten myself one little tiny step closer to taking over the world taking over Target having a teensy amount of genuine stature at work.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Musical Sisters

This is why I want to have a piano in our house. Because someday, they might actually make real music together...
video

Video taken in the music room at the WOW museum.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Trip to the American Girl Store

This trip was set in motion by several factors not directly relating to us at all.

You see, Kristina's second cousin Quinn has a birthday just a week before Thanksgiving every year.

This year, the family had just arrived in the DC area from their present home in Nicaragua, and celebrated Quinn's birthday (well, one of the times they celebrated Quinn's birthday) with a small party while they were staying at Aunt Leslie's house.

Apparently there had been some discussion between Aunt Leslie and Quinn's mommy LauraJean about what would be a good present for her 4th birthday, and the consensus had finally settled on a set of Bitty Baby Twins.

So Aunt Leslie set off to the American Girl Store to procure them the day beforehand.

However, there were some stock issues (namely, the store didn't have what exactly they had decided she should get in stock right then), and then some long and involved phone calls trying to reach various family members to consult on what would be a good solution to this problem.

But finally, Aunt Leslie decided to get Quinn one of the American Girls of Today dolls that looked just like her.

Presumably it was a big hit with Quinn, although I don't think anyone ever got to the part in the story where she was given the doll, so I couldn't say for sure.

However, a few days later we showed up.

And Aunt Leslie looked over my few month older Kristina, and decided that if Quinn was old enough for an American Girl doll, so was Kristina.

Choosing a Kristina doll.
And off we set for the American Girl Store!

Alright, I'll admit it, I adore the dolls myself and had a VERY beloved Kirsten doll myself back in the day (ok, she may still sitting on a shelf in my room), and thus am incredibly weak when someone aks "Would it be alright if I bought your child this American Girl doll?" and will only ever be able to answer "YES!!" even if I should at least consider making attempts at politely declining... and add in the temptation of actually getting to go the American Girl Store, of which I'd never been but always wanted to go......... lets just say it took every ounce of maturity for me not to want to get one for myself, anything more was simply unattainable. Sorry.

But getting back to the store....

Although I have spent countless hours over the last 20 years meticulously pouring over the beautiful pictures in the American Girl catalogs, and undoubtedly had their entire inventory memorized at different times, I had never seen the collection displayed in person like they have it in the store. They have hundreds of dolls set up in museum cases, adorably arranged to showcase the different outfits and accessories.

And it was a place I could have happily spent several several hours merely gazing at all the pretty wonders.

Kristina was well prepped for the adventure, with much discussion about how there would only be one special doll picked out and the like. However, one little detail was overlooked in the adventure planning....

This is mine.
Adrianna.

Or rather, Adrianna's strong love for all things DOLL despite her little age.

The moment we walked into the store she lunged for the nearest glass display case shouting "MINE!"

And so she continued "mining" all the dolls we passed as we followed the focused and excited Aunt Leslie and Kristina through the historical doll section and downstairs to the American Girl of Today/Bitty Baby land.

As is this.
At which point Adrianna was in 7th heaven, since the Bitty Baby's weren't cased and were displayed right at small child height to play with, while Kristina set about the important task of picking out her new doll.

The girl's cousin Aerik and his parents were also along for the ride, and although Aerik is but a few months older than Adrianna, he did not seem nearly as inclined towards the dolls and spent the time in the store riding up and down the escalator with his daddy.

(See: Sometimes boys and girls are different. Even when they're little.)

And these. They are also mine.
And then, Kristina came over dragging a very conspicuous red bag nearly as big as she was while grinning ear to ear, and it was time to go.

Which meant I had to extract all the wonderful dolls from Adrianna's grasp and drag her out of what she undoubtly viewed as the best store in the world.

(She IS my little girl, after all.)

And although there was some objection, she actually didn't put up as much of a fuss as I was anticipating (not that I would have had to carry toddler Kristina out of the store screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs the whole way..... *ahem*), which helped to decrease my personal level of parental guilt for not having accordingly planned on getting her a new doll as well.

And Kristina has been adoring her 'Kristina' doll, and even insisting I style her and her doll's hair the same they can look EXACTLY alike.

After all, she does know the importance of matching

So our very warmest thanks, Aunt Leslie. I'm know the experience and the doll will be treasured and well loved for MANY years to come. 

Successful shopping trip.
Matching pigtail bows.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Worth of Happiness

My mother sent me an article several years ago (by which I mean anywhere from 2 to 8 years in the past) from Newsweek magazine (maybe.......) about the monetary cost of happiness.

I really wish I could find that article again, as it was truly awesome, but my (very lazy) attempts to find it on the internet haven't yielded success, and even though I know I held onto the paper copy at the time, there have been so many moves (not to mention details like much of my belongings still in storage at present) that where it might be really is anybody's guess.

Some fuzzy details aside though, I DO distinctly remember the Starbucks evaluation.

And the conclusion the article reached was that if all you need is your morning caffeine fix, you are way overpaying for your $5 fancy coffee drink, and that even buying one of the very nice home espresso machines would be a better use of money in the long term.

HOWEVER, if the barista knows more about your love life than your mother and you look forward to seeing the same regulars every morning, the cost of the fancy coffee drink might actually be worth it's overpriced price tag for the added happiness those human relationships bring to your day.

And I'm starting to see how that really works.

The Target in Boulder has a Starbucks in it, and I've gotten into the habit of getting a hot chocolate there on my morning break most of the days I'm opening.

Being able to drink anything (especially hot chocolate) in piece is certainly worth something to me, as trying to do so when I'm with the girls is truly a futile effort, and it's a nice little reward for working so hard in the mornings (as the first few hours are definitely the busiest for instocks).

However, as I keep going in I've also gotten to know the baristas rather well.

Or more precisely, they've gotten to know me rather well.

The three that regularly open during the week all know what I order and will have my hot chocolate started before they even ring me up for it.

Which, other than I'm still *slightly* embarrassed by the fact that I don't drink coffee, is really rather cool.

But a few weeks ago, it went above and beyond.

I had lost my book the day before, and I suspected that I left it in Starbucks after my lunch break (or accidentally threw it in the trash when I was throwing away other stuff........) when I realized it's missingness on my afternoon break.

However, the girl who was working the coffee machines right then had just started her shift AND was one of the very new hires (don't get hot chocolate from the new ones), and had no idea whether a book had been found or where it might have gone.

And since the rest of my searching of the lost-and-found and seeing whether it had been re-shelved was without success, I stopped by Starbucks on my lunch break the next day to ask one of my usual barista's, who had also been working the day before, whether my book had turned up as he would have been one to both recognize it as mine and set it away for me.

But sadly, there was no book, and I mournfully went off to booklessly eat my lunch.

(Anyone have a copy of The Help they'd like to loan me?? I was just getting to the really good part.... but am still bulking at the idea of spending another $12 on a second copy just to finish reading it.)

And then, a surprise appeared.



Yep, the barista made me a personalized "lost book pick-me-up" hot chocolate.

Because he is awesome. And possibly even a friend. Which, in some ways, the demonstration of such is even cooler than the hot chocolate itself.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Name: ACCOMPLISHED

I have been working with Kristina on writing her letters pretty much since she started scribbling on papers.

I had the goal that she would be able to write her name before she went to Kindergarten, which although certainly not an unreasonable academic prospect, was not something that looked overly promising for a long time.

Kristina is a very bright child, but she likes to do things her way, is resistant to instruction, and fine drawing skills are not her preferred method of artistic expressions.

(I can always pick out her pictures at school, because she's the child that paints pumpkins by smearing the paint ALL OVER the entire sheet of paper.)

To add difficulty, her name is not the easiest as it is a touch on the long side and with lots of letters to keep in order.

But she did it!

There was another sheet of paper which I printed her name out on that she was looking at, and I did help her keep her place on which letter she was doing.

But she did it!!

And I am immensely proud of me her for it.
November 19th 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Adrianna's Tea Party

Some little girls have pretty pink tea sets and serve all their friends (real and imaginary) from dainty little cups.

Adrianna is more of the improvising sort, and is happy to make due with what she has on hand for playing tea party.

Even if it makes it more of a beer party.....


She carefully got everything ready.


And served some snacks.


She invited her friends.


And then they partied it up!





I would like to give credit to whichever cousin made the comment of "Ah look, Adrianna's having a tea party" which then served for inspiration for this post, but I, very unfortunately, do not remember who that was....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Matching Cousins: Fall 2011

Remember the ever important matching cousins outfits? You know, the same deal I did last spring, but this time with ALL the cousins?

Yeah, I thought it was pretty awesome.


This time went a little better, as I was much more on top of sensing when the moment was right to do the photo opt and seizing it.

Note the better color contrast on the white couch piece
I have to admit, the location was not my venue of choice, but I was outvoted on claims of better lighting because the windows wouldn't be in the background.

However, if that's the plan in the future, we're rearranging furniture so they're either on the floor or on a large enough neutral colored couch (two sides of the room in which this happened have a very nice for photo opts sectional couch which was already broken down and rearranged to fit the tables, a few chunks can totally make over to the non-windowed wall), because the too-small-busy-pattern long-since-dead-cat-clawed fainting couch just isn't doing it for me.

I have admit, I did drop the ball a little on properly conveying what I was doing outfit wise to all the other parents ahead of time (and not even for a good reason, but just because I was lazy and subsequently a bad communicator), so I'm sorry about that and will make sure to do better for future gatherings.

You know, assuming they *let* me continue to do this for future gatherings.....

(Pretty please??)

I do think most people liked the outfits, and I did keep other people's color tastes in mind when selecting stuff (aka, notice how the girls aren't in overwhelming pink? you're welcome). However, some raised questions about the boys' rugby shirts.... and I suppose I should confess I have no idea what a rugby shirt is (removable collar? what???), and picked these solely on color and price point. And I totally skimped out on getting pants for the boys. Because boys pants are boring, and it's not like they don't already have numorous pairs of basic pants.

Sorry.

I'll get them hair bows too little hats or something next time.


Friday, November 25, 2011

The Blue Bandaid of Shame

Working at Target comes with many hazards.

The backroom regularly uses forklifts and the person-riding version of a forklift called the wave.

The store is often full of people, an ever moving landscape of obstacles to stir around while pushing out tubs of merchandise.

And there's always the slight possibility of something like an armed robbery happening. 

But by far, the biggest concern is my own personal box cutter.

I use it constantly, opening boxes of stuff, removing packaging, twirling it through my fingers when I'm bored.

And then, every so often, tragedy strikes.... and I LOOSE my box cutter.

And tracking down a new one can be a challenge.

We used to have a stash of them with the rest of the instocks stuff (like our stickers!!), but then they quickly dispersed after the unfortunate lose of our instocks drawer.

However, the backroom guys like me reasonably well, and usually do take pity on me when I beg pathetically enough for a new box cutter and help me track one down.

My latest requisition was an old holder, but refurbished just for me with a shiny brand new cutting blade. 

And that sucker was SHARP.

By far, noticeably sharper than any I had previously used. I was slicing through the cardboard boxes like nobody's business instead of just managing to split the tape.

And it was pretty awesome.

Until 45 minutes later when I gauged my thumb open.

My bloody thumb and I went to the backroom first aid kit in search of bandaids, of which there were none, although I was asked by half a dozen people as to what did I do and why would I do that to my rather noticeably bloody thumb during my search.

The first aid kit lacked bandaids, but it DID contain gauzy pads which provided some slight help to the gushing blood situation as I made my way from the backroom to the human resources office on the front side of the store, where I ultimately discovered that they, too, were out of bandaids.

But never fear, for I had been told that guest services often has a good stash of fun ones from packages that get opened or destroyed and can't be sold.

However, that day even guest services did not have bandaids, from the floor OR in their first aid kit.

So I set about tracking down one of the uniformed security guards, as they are the ones who are responsible for team member safety (and, incidentally, stocking the first aid kits), to make the very pathetic request of him to get me a bandaid.

He ushered my back to the security office, where he proceeded to break into a ineffectively locked cabinet where the bandaids were kept.

(What, did you think the security guys would have keys?)

A spritz of disinfectant, quick pat dry, and then the all important blue bandaid of shame was expertly applied.

And then I had the pleasure of tracking down security guys for the next 4 days to obtain new bandaids, as it is amazing how many things you touch with the side of your thumb and how much doing that hurts with a still gaping flesh wound.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gobble Gobble

Good tidings and warm (American) holiday wishes. May your turkey be more edible (but perhaps every bit as colorful?) than Kristina's beautiful creation of which she's very, very proud.
video

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Pack for Visiting Family

  1. Briefly think about needing to pack three weeks before trip.
  2. Dismiss thought as being preemptive.
    1. After all, you have PLENTY of time still...
  3. Wake up in the middle of the night two days before you leave, realizing that you need haven't thought about (much less done) packing yet. 
  4. Resolve to pack first thing in the morning.
    1. Like a boss!
  5. Start right in on laundry shortly after getting up for the day.
  6. Feel rather accomplished for being so on top of getting clothes clean.
  7. Take laundry basket of clean clothes to children's room. 
  8. Attempt to pack for children. 
  9. Interested children climbing all over you, the laundry, and the suitcase.
  10. Put movie on for children.
  11. Start sorting through clean laundry. 
  12. Make piles. 
  13. Go stop children from fighting over imaginary food. 
  14. Concede to demands for real food.
    1. Because you, apparently, never ever feed them.
  15. Get children a snack from kitchen.
  16. Serve it to them on their chairs in front of the tv with a flourish.
  17. Return to bedroom and packing.
  18. Realize you forgot what your piles were. 
  19. Start over. 
  20. Make more piles. 
  21. Go find out what children are squawking about now.
  22. Get children drinks from kitchen. 
  23. Return to packing. 
  24. Realize your piles are getting rather out of control and taking over the bedroom. 
  25. Resolve to do something about this. 
  26. Attempt to set out outfits for children by day. 
  27. Have matching issues. 
  28. Contemplate personal level of craziness as indicated by need to make matching children. 
  29. Dismiss as irrelevant, as you are awesome just the way you are.  
    1. Compose good threats to use on anyone who disagrees. You know, detailing how exactly you shall creative produce their untimely demise. And then blog about it. 
  30. Feel very accomplished having decided the outfits for the week. 
  31. Carefully stack outfits in the reverse order of which they will be worn (so the first day is on top) by child into suitcase. 
  32. Admire personal organization and planning.
  33. Go check on children.
  34. Ignore details like them having dumped out every single toy, block, and book from shelves and buckets.
  35. Agree to child's demand to bring pack a puzzle. 
  36. Tell her to sit it on top of the suitcase.
  37. Answer her questions of "are these my clothes" with "DON'T TOUCH MY PILES!!!"
  38. Make note to self to apologize later for yelling at her unnecessarily.
  39. Go to make sure your piles of children's clothing are still intact.
  40. Attempt to pack your clothes.
  41. Decide it's much easier to pack when you have practically no clothes that fit anyways.
  42. Wonder, not for the first time, whether you're the only person on the planet who is annoyed by loosing weight. 
  43. Feel exceptionally accomplished having gotten your clothes selected and packed as well. 
  44. Decide no more packing is needed for the time being.
  45. Spend the rest of the afternoon playing.
  46. Realize as you eat dinner that you still need to finish packing for leaving in T-12 hours.
    1. And counting.
  47. Briefly ponder how much you *need* to watch TLC family horror, polygamy flavor. 
    1. aka, Sister Wives
  48. Decide to be a responsible adult, and forgo your usual cheap crazy-family-reality-tv-comparison-to-make-my-life-look-sane-and-marginally-good fix. 
  49. Get briefly distracted by the internets.
    1. Facebook!
  50. Stare blankly at suitcase for 5 minutes, completely unable to figure out what you're supposed to be doing. 
  51. Oh right, PACKING.
  52. Take stock of what you accomplished during your productive and functional time of the day. 
  53. Determine that you still need shoes, toys, diapers, and toiletries. 
  54. Feel immensely accomplished for achieving that level of brain function.
  55. Decide that the most efficient way to pack toiletries is to take a shower first, use everything you need to use that night, and then finish packing. 
  56. Get briefly distracted by the internets.
    1. Webcomics!
  57. Enjoy your shower. 
  58. Get marginally distracted immediately post-shower with random personal grooming habits, like plucking your eyebrows and unsuccessfully attempting to find nail polish to paint your toenails. 
  59. Realize it's getting late, and you still have packing to do. 
  60. Get briefly distracted by the internets. 
    1. Kitties!
  61. Toss toiletries into ziplock bag, contemplating (not for the first time) that one of these days you really need to invest in a real toiletry bag. 
    1. Although a ziplock baggies IS classier looking than the Target plastic bag you've been known to use on occasion as well. 
  62. Attempt to determine how many diapers you need.
  63. Decide that counting is just too difficult, and that "a lot" will be plenty. 
  64. Get briefly distracted by the internets. 
    1. Blog stats!
  65. Go to pack children's toys. 
  66. Stare blankly at overwhelming pile of toys. 
  67. Finally get enough functioning neurons together to thing of something good to pack. 
  68. Spend 10 minutes tracking down loose pieces. 
  69. Get distracted by your parents' "helpful suggestion" that while you're digging through the bucket of toys in their living room, that you should also move them to the designated children's play area.
  70. Make the overwhelming pile of toys bigger while acquisitioning their request.
  71. Decide that this did NOT help you pack. 
  72. Determine that your personal level of caring about toy selection is quite low, and simply grab a large handful of the nearest easily package things. 
  73. Get briefly distracted by the internets.
    1. Rage comics!
  74. Debate which shoes to pack, ultimately taking the minimalist approach 
    1. aka, choosing the singular smallest pair of alternate shoes to bring for each family member. 
  75. Feel extraordinarily accomplished by having completed packing before midnight.
  76. Make list of things to pack in the morning, knowing that however low your brain function is now, it will be WORSE then.
  77. Feel incredulous accomplished for it only has three things on it, one of which you can totally take care of right now.
  78. Say a prayer for successful journey and minimal forgotten-ness.
  79. Realize you might want to check to make sure your suitcase is under 50lbs.
  80. Lift several times. 
  81. Realize it's going to be really damn close. 
  82. Lift again, carefully thinking about all the things you stock in Target that come in nice increments, like 25lb containers of cat litter. 
    1. Does it feel like less than two of those??? 
  83. Decide that it IS under the 50lb wait limit. 
    1. Barely..... 
  84. Go to bed. 
  85. Realize you forgot to pack the diaper bag.
  86. Get back up.
  87. Search up backup outfits, assorted toys, and misc. stuff we might need (like tissues) and toss into first bag you can find. 
  88. Grab purse to transfer your important things (like wallet) into diaper bag for trip.
  89. Realize that your overflowing purse consists entirely of trash, one diaper, and an overstuffed wallet. 
  90. Resolve to do something about that.
    1. Right after your trip.
  91. Sit all your "done" bags by the door for the morning. 
  92. Take one last look into the immense just-under-50-lbs suitcase, once again pondering whether you put everything necessary in.
  93. Decide that at this point it's good enough. 
  94. Double check your morning packing list, still in disbelief over how there are only two things on it. 
  95. Go to bed. 
  96. Sleep. 
  97. Wake up before your alarm goes off. 
  98. Feel unbelievably accomplished for being up and ready to go first thing.
  99. Pack to remaining items into suitcase and load up car.
  100. Depart on trip.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Latest WOW

The WOW children's museum is a local (and by local, I really just mean less than a two hour drive from us) children's museum we visit from time to time. It's just a hair closer than the big children's museum in Denver, and it has a few other slight perks.

Like being cheaper. In addition to the kids' ticket prices just being substantially less, the WOW museum doesn't charge for adults (which I personally think is something ALL kids attractions should start doing).

It's also smaller. You may not immediately understand why that's a perk, until you spend a morning being one person with multiple children to keep an eye on, and then the smaller the space for them to split up in, the better.

Inside the bubble maker.

The pirate ship is Kristina's favorite.

Adrianna prefers the car. But only if she can sit on the floor.

Magnet table.

Teamwork! Kristina is scared of heights and Adrianna lacks the dextority to work the pulleys.

The world orbits around the sun, apparently, and NOT my children.

Hoist the colors!! I was so proud of her choice of flag.

We need an indoor sandbox at our house.

Fancy gown time.

Adrianna was so surprised each time the train came back around.

Dinner, anyone? The chefs have been busy...


Friday, November 18, 2011

Yep, Still Awesome

Remember my post about my boss's boss thinking I was totally awesome at work?

Well, it seems to be the theme of the month, as I've gotten officially recognized (by which I mean told to go pick out stuff to be requisitioned (essentially bought by Target) for me) twice more since then along with receiving several $5 gift cards and free trips to Starbucks from assorted personal for doing various good things around the store.

However, it's the most recent recognition that I got today that I'm REALLY digging.

So, the Price Change Team Leader recognized me as her pick for top store performer for... something. Week? Month?? See, they just kinda assumed that I understood how all this works when I actually don't. But I feel really stupid asking for clarification as to what exactly they're saying I'm awesome for while they are telling me to go pick out something like a DVD as a reward.

(And now we have Despicable Me.)

But anyways, this particular recognition also includes being put up on the awesome board of awesomeness for the first time.

(Ok, that's probably not it's real name, as it's way too un-Teamspeak-ish, but that's what I've always thought of it as.)

And the Team Lead who recognized me as her pick of being totally awesome for the awesome board of awesomeness is also inclined towards creativity!!

Many of those recognized are done so by simply scrawling a name on a sticky note. But no, she went above and beyond, and made mine on a raincheck!

(ON A RAINCHECK!!!)

My team are the ones who make all the rainchecks for the store as part of our job! I have stacks of the raincheck pads sitting in my bathroom, on my nightstand, tossed in my purse. The only thing I use more in my daily work is my box cutter. So her using a raincheck as a base is so freaking cool!! 

(Ok, I'm a dweeb, lets just accept it and move on.)

But THEN, it gets even better! She used sparkly stickers to spell out my name AND added 3d decorative gems!!!!!

Isn't that unbelievably cool?!? I have the overwhelming urge to recognize her for her awesome recognition of me now.

ME! on the awesome board of awesomeness

A side note: I did feel rather stupid blocking out the names on the board as Target employees are required to wear name-tags clearly stating those exact names, but I was specifically told NO NAMES on blogging about Target (well, I may have also been told preferably no blogging about working for Target at all, but we'll overlook that little detail right now), so there are no names. Well, besides mine. In glittery stickers! I hope they let me take it home, instead of just throwing it away whenever it changes again. Because I still think it's an unbelievably awesome way to be recognized on the awesome board of awesomeness.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Inner Dialog Over My Lack of Blogging

Hey Marty, did you see how many days it's been since your last blog post? 


I know I know, I totally need to do one.


Why don't you get your lazy bum around to finishing that Halloween one you started weeks ago?


I... um....... 


Or the one about the long article blaming your parents' for you feeling like working at Target is beneath you?


I did like that article....

Or those half-a-dozen web comics you've been hoarding for when you needed back up blogging material?

But.... that seems so... cheap....


Or all those cute pictures you took of the girls at the children's museum last weekend?


Uh.... crap, I still need to look at those.....


Or the random idiomatic stories from work? Don't you have several of those floating around? 


Yeah.... there's even a few pictures I took to go along waiting to be uploaded....

Or about being on the board for Kristina's preschool? 

Well.... sometimes the board is kinda... boring.......

Or even the divorce stuff? You NEVER write about that! 

No..... I guess I don't......

And what about next week, when you're GOING ON VACATION? Have you gotten blog posts written to cover for that yet either??

I'm sorry, I just haven't felt like writing blog posts the past few days.

Oh, is that all? Ok then. I suppose it's ok to not try to force yourself to do something that's supposed to just be a fun hobby anyways. 

Really?

Yeah.

Thank you.

But don't start doing it on a regular basis! 

Yes ma'am.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Clever Girl

Putting on her own shoes at 21 months.
Adrianna is a very clever little one.

She can (and regularly does) put her own shoes on when asked.

Kristina only does that about 50% of the time, and she's nearly twice as old!

When Adrianna gets up instead of going to sleep at bedtime, she sneaks out of her room stealthily shutting the door behind her, so there have been several occasions where I didn't even notice she was quietly playing in the corner of the family room after assuming that the shut bedroom door and quiet on the baby monitor meant all little girls were peacefully sleeping. A few nights back when I caught her doing that and sent her back to bed, she then cracked the door and stuck her doll out. After suppressing a giggle, I told her to get back into bed and she yanked the doll back into the room and shut the door.

Adrianna insists that the balls for her pounding tower get put into the correctly matching hole, and will squawk loudly at you in indignation if you put the pink ball in the orange spot.

(Although this rule does not, however, appear to apply to non-ball items....)

She also likes to play with blocks by sorting them by color and size, and will make little rows of them in this manner.

Clever, clever girl.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Will All the Veterans Please Stand

Yesterday was the United States Marine Corps birthday.

And the Marines like to celebrate it with an annual birthday ball.

One of the formal ceremonial parts of the ball is where they ask for all the Veterans to please stand up.

Nearly the entire room of uniformed men and women rise up in unison, with only a scant handful of very new (like, just-graduated-from-boot-camp very new) Marines still sitting.

Then the MC starts to go through the wars.

The Veterans stay standing for all the ones the ones they've served through.

Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Desert Storm
Korean War
Vietnam War
World War II

By the end, there are only a few very elderly and very proud Marines left standing, albeit sometimes with walkers and canes. And everyone in the room takes a moment to appreciate what they have given to their country over the years, and their continued pride in the life they have led.

Will all the Veterans please stand, as America briefly pauses to recognize who you are and what you do. I'm sorry it doesn't happen more often or with more sincerity.