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...

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. 


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....


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.


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.


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.


*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?


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.....


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 taken in the music room at the WOW museum.