Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I hesitate to even mention it...

but I am going to paint.  I HATE to paint.  I do not know how to paint.  I get paint everywhere when I paint.  The walls look awful when I paint.  And, did I say I hate to paint? 

So, why am I doing it?  Because I have a limited budget.  Here is the situation:  The girls need (I'd like to think it's not just momma who wants it) a new room.  From top to bottom (literally).  Here is the problem:  We do not have limitless funds.  Here is the solution (step 1 - there are about 200 in case you were wondering):  I will paint so that I have a little more money to spend on the other 3000 things I want for them.

Since I am having to suffer, I figure you guys can suffer a little, too.  No blog posts for awhile.  Collective AWWWW.  If I never come back - send help (as in:  a painter that you guys will pay for).

JUST IN CASE this endeavour is remotely successful (I have huge doubts), I took some "befores." (I am also buying a large case of beer at Costco tomorrow and I have the best, best recipe for brownies like EVER - more on the brownies later after I at least get one wall - or half a wall - done.)  I also have a Pinterest board on girls' room ideas (feel free to give me some great ideas). 

Despite how the girls' room looks I am not afraid of color.  (See the "High Strung Green" hallway paint?  I did not paint that.)

I have to tell myself, "I am painting for bunk beds."

Yes, it's small and crowded.
Wish me luck!  And I'll be back sometime!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Netflix: You win.

Apparently Netflix reads my blog.  Or, it could be that I have an amazing and talented (at what - we don't know yet) friend who recommended such a great show that I have to write a post about it.  Please and thank you - - this recommendation is that awesome.

A good friend and loyal blog reader, whose identity will remain protected, (Master of:  jewelry, fashion, and her pantry.  Not a master of: baking) recently suggested hubby and I watch Lilyhammer - a Netflix production.  Now, as you know, hubby and I have odd taste when it comes to TV and movies.  We are hard to please and I am notoriously bad about picking loser shows.  So, when it comes to taking people's recommendations I am a little gun shy.  I don't usually do it.  But, it was a boring Friday night, so we decided to watch it.

If you have not watched it, it is Fargo meets Goodfellas and I am in love.  I am not being paid by Netflix to write this, but I should be.  Lilyhammer stars Steven Van Zandt.  I never watched Sopranos, so I really was not that familiar with him.  What a shame because I love him.  In a nutshell, Van Zandt plays a mobster who testifies against a mob boss and ends up in Lillehammer, Norway in witness protection where he acculturates quite nicely.  He reminds me of hubby because he is a guy who could benefit from some anger management and who uses muscle to gently persuade people, but at his heart he is a lovable character.  The humor of the show is dry and mostly situational not forced (perfect for me).  I laughed so hard I snorted (which usually indicates a winner for me) and the storyline is just unpredictable enough to keep you watching.

That's all I am going to say about it because if you click the link above you can have almost the entire show without Netflix.  Thank you, friend for a good tip.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention one more show that hubby and I have fallen in love with.  Thanks to a comment from Leigh after I was bi&*%ing about a TV show I love being cancelled, hubby and I are now addicted to TV's Person of Interest.  With Jim Caviezel as one of the stars, there is plenty of eye candy and there is an amazing plot that makes you think as an added bonus.  Thank you, Leigh for a fabulous recommendation.   

Netflix and TV:  I am on my way to forgiving you.  Happy viewing, friends!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Girl 1's Birthday at the Geezer House in Which Hubby Almost Uses the Jaws of Life on the Three Year Old

It was the birthday of Girl 1 (and, yes, English is my native language - I just have trouble with possessives and numerals) this past Saturday.  In the dysfunctional way that only our family can be, we ended up at a local diner for her celebration dinner.  Although she was only turning nine, this diner is notorious for being a geezer house.  As in:  There is usually no one under 87 in the diner dining, and the waitresses (as kind as they are) all kinda resemble Flo.

So, there we are dining on meatloaf, mashed potatoes, really soft green beans, and jello (I am exaggerating, but not by much) when the three year old decides to go south (figuratively and literally).  She had been slowly making a downward spiral (as evidenced by the amount of food under her high chair) when all of a sudden I noticed she had scooted down low in her restaurant issued high chair.

It was about an hour past her bedtime and she was being especially ornery, so I mostly just ignored her.  This continued for about five minutes until I noticed this:

Now, this is not a skillful drawing.  In fact, it is mostly copied and pasted from Google Restaurant Chairs, but the "drawing" is to represent my child.  The red "X" is her head and the blue twisted line is her body. 

I wasn't too concerned because although her head was wedged abnormally in what could be considered a tight spot, she wasn't really complaining too much.  I think I said, "Get back up in your chair," or something like that and continued eating. 

Then a few minutes later she started to make little squealing sounds.  I looked at her and it did indeed appear that her head was stuck.  So, like any good mom, I grabbed her by the armpits and tried to hoist her back on to the seat.  It was then that I noticed because of the slant of her body - I might need back-up.  Meanwhile, Girl 2 had noticed what was going on and had moved from her seat at my left to "help."  She helped by mostly loudly saying to me, "MOM, help her."  I think it was about then that I was struck with a horrible case of the giggles.  I plain could not stop laughing at the situation. 

By then the geezers had started to stare and some of the Flos had slowed down with their trays to gawk at us.  My observant and serious son had come over from his spot at the other side of our table to say, "MOM, CAN YOU STOP LAUGHING?  JEESH, MOM.  THIS IS NOT REALLY FUNNY.  You need to help baby."  That only made me laugh harder and tears started coming out of my eyes.

A few seconds later hubby finally noticed what was happening and I think I said (or tried to say through my laughter), "I'm gonna need some help over here, babe."  It was then that he sprang into action.  If you are a longtime reader you know that hubby's true calling in life was to be a fire fighter.  He's not one.  But, every chance he gets to save people in a fire related incident he goes above and beyond.  He literally jumped out of his seat with this look of terror in his eyes.  Of course, that made me laugh so hard I had to turn away from the crisis.  He started to yank baby back up. 

By then, Girl 1 was saying loudly, "TURN HER HEAD, DAD.  PUSH HER THROUGH!"  He tried, but she has ears, so that didn't work.  Meanwhile baby was saying loudly, "I'm stuck!  Help me!"  At some point hubby said to me, "Babe, I don't know what to do."  I remember helpfully saying through tears which just kept coming, "What do you want me to do?  Get a hacksaw?  She got down there, she's gotta come back up."  While Boy Child kept saying, "MOM!  PLEASE STOP LAUGHING!  CAN YOU PLEASE BE SERIOUS?"

Oh man.  We have a bit of a history regarding making scenes in restaurants.  This may be a another one that does not invite us back.  She did eventually get out and hubby plopped her (a bit violently) back on a real chair.  Whereupon in classic Our Family style she kicked the highchair and said, "I hate that highchair."  Nice.  She won't need therapy later.

I know I've taught my kids well because immediately after the crisis was over Girl 1 said, "Aw, man, mom.  Why didn't you videotape that???  We could've won something."

I'll try to keep my kids safe until next time, but I'm not making any promises. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In case you missed it.

I am still not fully recovered from having my brain cells sucked out pre-Valentines (keep in mind that I am older than God, so it requires me a bit more time to recover from trauma than the average Joe), so I am going to bring you a recap/highlight/make-your-week-special-like-only-I-can/slacker type post.  I would love to make this a "regular," but I am not organized enough to ever do that.  So, I will just do it whenever I can't quite manage something better.
In case you missed it...

1.  If you follow me on Pinterest you may have already seen some of this crap great stuff.  If you don't follow me on Pinterest, you should because I am brilliant!  So, in case you missed this HI-LARious video (thank you whatimeant2say for the link):  (If I wasn't already happily married to hubby I would want to marry this guy.)

2.   In case you missed this blog post on marriage:  The Mommyland Guide for the Marriage That Doesn't Suck Gonads.  If you are married, thinking about getting hitched, thinking about getting unhitched, recently divorced and ever wanting to marry again, or know someone in any of the previous categories, or basically just a living, breathing human over the age of teenage you really should read this post.  It's damn good advice (and I am not one to give or receive advice - like ever) and it comes from one of my favorite blogs.

3.  In case you missed this catchy tune on one of my favorite shows, David Letterman. 

Creepy, catchy, and creepy.  Did I say creepy?  But, you will not be able to stop singing it or thinking about it, so I guess clever, too, eh?  BTW - do not YouTube Die Antwoord with children present unless you don't care about cussing and other inappropriate-type things.

4.  You know I hate talking about politics, religion, and basically anything of any kind of real importance.  But, I really hate the haters.  I had to pin this, so if you already saw it - it's worth seeing again.  And if you haven't seen it, it's worth seeing.  In case you missed it, this is To the haters:

5.  A good friend gave me a belated birthday present (because I am a crazy nut, but refuse to go to therapy).  It is this little gem of a book:  Do It Yourself Therapy. Head Games for a Rainy Day.  Now, I have good news here.  In case you missed this, don't worry!  I have already started reading it and I have so many gems to pass on to you I can't wait to get started.  Stay tuned.  Upcoming blog posts will contain unsolicited head game therapy for your many dysfunctions that you may not have even known that you had!  Excited?  Me, too!
6.  And the last In Case You Missed It:  Girl 1 has discovered the subtle art of the phrase, "No offense, but..."  She uses it constantly and obsessively.  I overheard her sharing its meaning with Girl 2 the other day. 

Girl 1 to Girl 2:  This kinda doesn't make sense, but it's what adults do all the time.  You say, "No offense," when you are about to say something offensive to someone.  For example, 'No offense, Girl 2, but you stink!'  See???  Get it???" 

Then she erupted into wild laughter.  I think she's basically got it.  Amirite???

Peace and have a great week, friends!

Friday, February 17, 2012

I'm kind of A Big Deal (and I am serious this time).

I'm *kind of* famous and I almost f*&%ing missed it.  As most of you know I have quite an addictive personality (Don't be jealous.  It's only for useless $hit.  Of course I couldn't be addicted to sewing, being a great parent, or super wife, or cleaning, or cooking great food, or checking my spelling and grammar, or folding laundry correctly instead of just stuffing the drawers full to the point of breaking the dressers.  I'm only addicted to:  procrastinating, things that make me fat, cheap beer, expensive dark chocolates, Pinterest, etc., etc.).  One of my addictions:  I cannot stop finding great blogs I've never read, becoming addicted, adding them to my blogroll, and basically stalking people until they take out a restraining order on me....KIDDING.  No one's done that yet.  That I know of.  It's so bad that I had to make a resolution to try and curb it.  BUT, it seems my bad habits have finally PAID OFF (yeah, pay attention, hubby!).  The fabulous author of one of these new (to me) blogs I recently started stalking has bestowed an honor upon my blog (that sounds so British)...............AND I AM PEE PANTS EXCITED ABOUT IT (that sounds all American). 

I had just been bitching and moaning about how I never get awarded crap, how I must be just a God awful blogger, how I will never, ever be a famous author (or cookie store owner, damn it), how every other blogger I know has a crap ton of awards and I don't have jack$hit, how my skin is looking so old and that's probably why my blog sucks, blah, blah, blah.  And then I find out that the fairly famous gal over at whatimeant2say (who has a crap ton of awards, BTW, that she had to buy a f&*%ing bookshelf for them) has given me this:

Is this beyond awesome, or what?  SHE is fairly famous and so now that makes me (I guess) kinda famous!!!  Do you want to shake my hand and then never wash your hand again?  I'll let you!  This fame is new, so take advantage of me!  I am so gonna buy a new car today because every kinda famous person needs a new ride, right?

So, apparently when people get awarded awards (this is my first one, so I am not really sure about protocol) they are required to do certain things (like buy new cars and maybe that new purse I have been wanting..............I feel a "note to self" coming on).  So, here's the certain things I need to do/feel compelled to do.  Don't worry I made it concise.

Protocol when you are awarded an award for Awarding People Who Are Kind of a Big Deal.

1.  Acceptance Speech:  I would like to thank myself for being so brilliant. whatimeant2say for recognizing my brilliance. blog.  I would also like to thank God and my mom.

2.  Name 5 things you would stick up your Junk Trunk if you were forced to.  Hmm.  whatimeant2say has never met me IRL so I would not expect her to know that I don't have any Trunk Junk.  I would, however, stick my skinny a$$ up for:  a beer (it's okay I don't need a glass), Ghiradelli chocolate brownies (even just the samples at Costco), injustice of any kind (unless it involves squirrels, those nasty chocolate rats, living things crawling up your toilet to bite you in the a$$, or SPAM because I have rational fears toward all of those things), white girls who rap (because there aren't very many and I think they might need my Junk Trunk - small as it is - to help them out), and The People of Wal-Mart (because let's face it, we would have far fewer laughs without them).

3. Tell at least 5 things you do that would make people want to kill you or, at the very least Hate you for the rest of their lives.  Wow.  Just five?  1.  When I am bored talking on the phone I make a static-y sound with my mouth and say, "Oh, the phone's breaking up.  I'll call you back."  2.  Every time I see Sometimes when I see small, yappy dogs that won't shut up I just want to go to Korea.  3.  I watch Millionaire Matchmaker.  4.  I get in short lines at the grocery and then use a lot of coupons.  And then I write a check.  5.  I drive slower than 20 in school zones (and I have been known to forget about holidays and weekends) and if I see someone on a cell phone I roll down my window and do an old geezer shaken fist move at them.       

3. Blindfold yourself & walk out into traffic on the Highway.  I got my four kids to do that one for me. 

4. Pick 5 Bloggers to BULLY with this (a-hem) ‘Award’.

Adventures in Self Reliance

Ramblings and Rumblings

This Is Mommyhood


Manic Motherhood

P.S.  A good friend just brought to my attention that I totally screwed up the answer to #2.  Sorry.  Apparently my brain was "off" when I answered that.  Now that I have read it correctly my answer, "EWWWWW.  EXIT ONLY."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Make me Martha Stewart and you a winner!

Preface:  Valentines day cookie making apparently sucked all the creativity and motivation right out of my brain.  Blog posts have been slow to come to me these days so instead of a real post today you are getting a plea for help.  I promise I'll make it up to you soon.

So, I'm not a huge crafter.  In fact, I am pretty much the anti-crafter.  My crafting skills are on par with a two year old's (and that's excepting like Martha Stewart's kids at that age - she has kids, right?).  I cannot believe what I just typed (it's clear I've not had enough coffee).  OF COURSE MARTHA STEWART DOESN'T HAVE KIDS.  If she had kids she wouldn't be Martha-f&%*ing-Stewart.  Jeesh.

Okay, back to my post.

I need your help.  Here's the thing.  Hubby bought me these AWESOME beers for my birthday that are named after me (well, technically him, but who's getting technical???).  I know.  How cool is that?  Wanna hear what's even better?  THERE WERE SIX!  Hello!  There are SIX people in my family!  It's like fate, or karma, or the holy grail, or whatever.  Is he the best guy in the world, or what?  It's like it was my little family named, packaged in a cute little cardboard holder, and sold at Walgreens (it could have been a classier joint, but I'm not complaining - most people don't even have a beer named after them).

Now, when hubby gave these beauties to me a dear friend (and loyal blog reader) of mine was here chit-chatting with me.  When we were oo-ing and ah-ing over the beers she made mention of the fact that I should save all the bottles, caps, and the cute cardboard holder so that when I had consumed all the beers (in a few minutes) I could make something really cute out of the bottles, caps, holder etc. to commemorate the whole thing (not right after I finished consuming because then the thing I made would probably have Drunk Crafting Mom written all over it).  I think I said (and I am probably para-phrasing here), "Wow.  That's a fabulous idea, Lana (her name has been changed to protect her innocence).  I'll get right on that as soon as I finish these beers off because I already have a ton of super cute ideas and I am really good at making cute $hit with my own hands!!!"  (My friends are used to and often encourage my sarcasm.) 

Here's the part where you come in.  Everyone who reads this post (and lets hope it's like one million people) needs to give me an idea for a cute (or just do-able) thing to do with the caps, bottles, cardboard container thingie or any combination of those items.  All ideas are accepted (because they could not possibly be worse than my own).  The best idea will get an Official Prize (prize yet to be determined and will be solely paid for and sponsored by me - in other words this contest is solely my own).  Don't think you are going to get money, or a cable show offer, your name on the radio, or anything really worth anything.  I'm not famous, after all.  Probably a nice "thank you" in lights, my rendition of your idea "pinned," and a picture of the final product here on my blog will be your prize.  And, of course, the knowledge that you helped further the bonding of a family, family tradition, the drinking of beer, and the love of four wholesome children, and one needy husband.  That alone should warm your heart and make it all worthwhile.

Now, GET TO WORK, peeps!  My expectations *might* be too high, but I am expecting GREAT THINGS from you!  Peace!   

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cookies III, OR Don't Hate Me Because I Cannot Stop.

I *might* be addicted to perfecting the art of making cookies.  Since it is nowhere near perfect, you are going to see a hell of a lot more photos of not-so-perfect cookies.  Sorry.

There is a super mom in my neighborhood who makes all these amazing cookies and who went with me to my cookie class back in December.  Not only is she an amazing friend who I love dearly, a super mom, and a fabulous cookie maker, she also does wacky things like make 8000 cookies for her daughter's various school functions.  She told me a few years ago that for Valentines Day she makes these large sugar cookie hearts and that's what her daughter gives for Valentines - complete with To:  From:  written on them in frosting - (because who wouldn't want THAT instead of a cheap five cent Sponge Bob card from Wal-Mart???).  I know.  That kind of super mom kind of makes me vomit, too.  When she told me about the Valentines I immediately said, "That is fabulous and they sound beautiful.  Get in the car, kids.  We are going to Wal-Mart."

Well, this year I decided I wouldn't ever be able to do what she does because I am a slacker mom and because I have four kids.  Multiply that out and it would be like one million cookies, two cases of beer, and a mom who would be screaming at everyone for about all of February.  So, I decided I could do it for the three year old (she has SEVEN kids in her class).  And, so that my other three kids wouldn't feel left out, I could do it for their teachers.  And, maybe I could do it for my own kids (cute, right?).  And, maybe if there is anyone else I love (that I could remember), they might get one too (if there were enough).

That's how this happened:

Girl 3 made her own cards.  So, then I had to actually write real words on them.  Since I got this hair-brained idea spur of the moment I decorated all of the cookies.  Next year (if there is a next year) there will be more team participation.

And these are for MY sweet valentines.
And one more for my Valentine (not the small ones).
Happy Valentines Day, friends.  I hope you are with someone you love and if their names are Ghiradelli or Miller, no judgment here.  See you on the other side. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Leonardo DiCaprio: I'm still pissed. Netflix: You are not far behind.

So, you might know we got Netflix shortly after Santa brought us the Wii.  Now, I realize the rest of the living world has probably had Netflix for about 20 years, but it's new to us.  I am still a little amazed that I can flick on the TV (well, not really me, but the 10 year old boy because I have yet to learn how to use the Wii or Netflix on my own) and find an array of movies right there that I might want to see.  (Let me just say now that, among other things, Netflix furthers my attempts to never have to dress or bathe.) 

You might be thinking to yourself, "This is a good thing, right?  How can it go south?"  Well, that's what I am here to tell you.  Here, my friends, is how Netflix can go wrong.

As a preface to this post I should probably tell you that since I was born I have been notoriously bad at picking movies.  I just suck.  I could blame my horrible memory, but that's not really fair.  I think it's just in my blood.  Often times I will hear a review of a movie that sounds just fabulous and 1.  I really screw up the name of the movie and instead rent it's B counterpart, or 2.  I actually rent the correct movie only to find the person who reviewed it was apparently on hallucinogenic drugs that caused him or her to think it was a great movie.  Hubby knows this about me and tolerates it (but not without making comments about it occasionally when he's been forced to watch some movie worse than the sit-com Whitney).

Fast forward to us getting Netflix.  The first movie I watched was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  I am not being paid to say this, but I should be.  That was an awesome movie.  Fabulous acting, intriguing plot, and suspenseful to the end.  Despite that, my faith in my movie picking ability was restored with one movie!  I know, too good to be true. 

Then my second pick was Creepshow 2 circa 1980s based on the book by Stephen King.  Now, I love Steven King and I may have been confusing Creepshow 2 with the original Creepshow (which I think was actually a pretty good movie).  Plus, my love for Stephen King may have influenced my pick.  I have read quite a few of his books and of the movies adaptations I remember I loved Misery, Christine, Shining, The Green Mile.  Well, let me just say that Creepshow 2 is quite possibly The Worst Movie Ever Made Based on a Stephen King Book.  In my mind (and I am pretty sure hubby's) I was demoted back to Worst Movie Picker Ever.

It looks like it could be good, right?  Apparently looks can be deceiving.
THEN I picked Shutter Island.  I remembered that when that movie came out in 2010 (because I am still watching Must Sees from the 1900's) I really wanted to see it.  Well, this is how bad it is.  I fell asleep more than twice, woke up, continued watching and still was able to understand the plot.  Not only is it a horrible movie, it is like a train wreck.  You so want to look away, but something compels you to keep watching.  When the ending credits rolled I was shocked and bitter to learn Martin Scorcese is the director?!  In a nutshell:  plot that's been used a million times, bad acting, lighting that's tough for people over *30*, and scary people on par with Creepshow.  So, let me just say - had it been circa 1980 it could have beat Creepshow 2 for the Bad Movie Oscar.

The thing that angers me the most is that I should have known better.  I really am not a DiCaprio fan.  In fact, I'm kind of an un-fan.  I'm still kinda angry about Titanic.  Not really the movie itself, but how much I had to hear about it after the movie.  Y'know?  I could be one of about 20 people that hated Titanic.  You already know how it ends and that takes away half the fun.  And then there was Inception.  I fell sound asleep after taking a bathroom break and coming back to be lost as hell.  Revolutionary Road.  Didn't even see it, but the trailers made me gag.  I thought I had remembered all of the reasons why I do not care for DiCaprio and then hubby reminded me of What's Eating Gilbert Grape.  Hubby pointed out that that was a truly great movie.  I reminded hubby that it was because Leon had Johnny Depp to pull him through.  

I wasted two hours and eighteen minutes of my life that I cannot get back.  I finally went to bed after midnight and was grumpy and groggy all the next day.  Bottom line:  I'm still pissed.  It's going to take me a while to get over this one.  My movie recommendation (thank me later) - if you have two hours and eighteen minutes of free time this weekend do not watch DiCaprio and be cautious with Netflix.  Happy weekend and may all your movie picks be winners!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

To read or not to read. It's not a question.

Disclaimer:  This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

How do you know you loved a book?  For me, it's when I finish reading the book and actually forget I am done.  I still look forward to stealing and savoring a few moments, opening the book at my well-worn book marker, and reading what happens next.  When I remember that I finished the book I briefly mourn this fact and momentarily hate the author for not continuing the book a few more chapters.  Finally, after a few days, I can remember that I am DONE with the book and rather than be sad and hateful I can just bask in the fact that I have finished another great book!  That's what happened to me with this book.

If you have not read The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, I recommend it.  Since you can easily find previews and reviews of this book anywhere on the net, I am going to give you a book review in list form!  Here it goes.

Why I think you will not be disappointed with The Weird Sisters

1.  Eleanor Brown uses the uncommon "first person plural" for the voice of the novel.  Yeah, I wasn't sure what that was either.  So, if it's been a while since you were in an English class, let me just tell you that this is a voice which allows for narration by various characters (one at a time) while also using "we" in the midst of that narration.  Huh?  Just know that this is the perfect voice for a story about a family because it reminds the reader that in a family we are each our own voice, but we also speak for our collective nature and memories.  AND, you end up with some beautifully structured sentiments such as the ones in this paragraph speaking about the mother's breast cancer:    "It must be so strange, Rose thought.  We had never made much trade in our breasts, small as they were on all of us, but to lose one?  Or both?  And our mother's breasts, the ones that had fed us, against which we had cried when we were young.  Oh, it was selfish of us to think it, but we missed them as well."

2.  The book is funny in the face of some dauntingly serious topics:  cancer, pregnancy before marriage, adultery, theft.  And some less daunting but still serious topics:  love, marriage, motherhood, fathering.  I found the humor in the contemporary use of language and style which I love because it felt hip and current and yet not overtly so as if it was written by a teenager.

3.  I thought at first that the Shakespearean quotes would be too much for me.  I am no Shakespeare guru and its been about 25 years since I've read anything by Shakespeare.  So, it's amazing that I found the quotes quite delightful.  The father of the girls has made Shakespeare his life and speaks almost entirely in Shakespearean quotes.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the evolution (in my mind) of this character from "crazy bat" to loving and invested father.

4.  I think this book will resonate with many.  I don't think you have to be a sister to enjoy this novel (as the title might lead you to believe).  I am the youngest of seven incredibly close sisters, and I spent the first half of the book trying to figure out with which sister I identified.  I came along "late" in life for my mother and therefore was raised essentially as an only child, but I could not imagine any of my sisters having such deep seated resentment for my other sisters (as the sisters in the novel seem to have toward each other).  So, much of the first part of the book I spent thinking about how incredible their relationships were.  Then I spent the second half of the book being incredibly sad.  I couldn't figure out why I was so sad.  After all - it's not the saddest book I've ever read.  I know now that I was sad because I had a glimpse into what might happen to my young family (my three daughters).  I could not stop thinking about their relationships with each other, what they will remember, how it will affect them for forever.  I was profoundly affected by this realization.  This is the first novel I have read involving a family with grown children where I identified strongly with the mother character.  Now, it could be because I am getting as old as the hills (I prefer to think that's not the reason), or it could be because Eleanor Brown has an uncanny ability to put the reader into the novel (yeah, that's what it is).  Either way, this was both extremely sad for me and simultaneously gave me great hope.  It's changed the way I will view my childrens' relationships (and that is a sign of a great book!). 

5.  Although the novel focuses on three sisters, there is a beautiful love story on which the novel is written.  That back story is the love of the father and mother for each other.  We learn that this is not a love without struggles and differences, but it is a love that has endured the test of time.  This made me think of my parents' love for each other.  Their marriage was 6o+ (I don't do details too well) years old when my mother passed away and I am sure it was not without struggles, arguments, worry over their children, but beneath it all - profound love for each other.  I don't think many people find love like that.  I am not usually a sucker for romance and I don't usually cry, but this paragraph brought me to tears and made my heart smile:  "...We have always wondered why there is not more research done on the children of happy marriages.  Our parents' love is not some grand passion, there are no swoons of lust, no ball gowns and tuxedos, but here is the truth:  they have not spent a night apart since the day they married.  How can we ever hope to find a love to live up to that?"

I will refrain from commenting about the ending because I hope you put this on your Must Read list.  Should you be interested, here is a link to an awesome book club and book review group. 
That's my list and I wish you happy reading!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cookies, Part II

So, some of you know that I went a little out of my comfort zone in December and attended a cookie decorating class.  I have always loved to decorate cookies, but (because I am a slacker) I never really kept learning new techniques.  Instead I relied on age-old methods that I am pretty sure originated with the pioneers and that I think I learned in childhood (?).  At my cookie class I learned about royal icing, dragees (French word for "small balls"), and frosting bags.  Some might say I was a *little* proud of myself after the class and some might even say I was smug. 

Then, I tried everything I learned at home a few weeks after that.  Note:  There was no blog post about that, no pictures were posted on Facebook, and I did not "pin" any of it.  Why?  Because it was a royal disaster.  All of my pride dissolved in a few seconds of runny icing that was some shade of black

But, because I believe in learning from my mistakes (I'll excuse you while you vomit), here's what I learned:  1.  It's easier when someone else makes the icing and puts it in the bag for you.  2.  It's easier when someone brings lots of gorgeous, perfect samples from which you can get ideas.  3.  It's easier when someone also brings all the proper equipment needed.  4.  It's easier to leave all the mess there and have someone else clean it up.  5.  It's easier when four small people are not asking you what the heck they are supposed to be doing (and you don't really know what to tell them).

Fast forward to today.  I got brave (or - we all know the synonym for brave) and decided we needed to give it a second go and make Valentine's Day cookies using all the techniques I had learned way back in December.  I was ready to abandon whatever pride I had left (for the kids).

Here's how they came out. 

Valentines Day Cookies 2012
So, I'm not a total idiot.  I realize the O's are lopsided and much of the royal icing is royally askew.  I know people (no matter how much they wanted to support me) would never pay money for these.  Subsequently, any dreams I might have had of owning a famous cookie shop are still dashed.  BUT, these look a hell of a lot better than the black Santas and dead Christmas trees we had last time.

You could say I am now a little smug.  Happy Superbowl Sunday!  Try to stay on your diets.  Just kidding!  Eat like there's no tomorrow!  I know I will be.  Then I'll be snacking on the delicious morsels above for dessert.

Friday, February 3, 2012

How To Clean A House....in Twenty-One Easy Steps

The house cleaner (who I depend on a *little* more than I should) cancelled today.  So, momma (that would be me) had to pick up a toilet brush.

How To Clean A House....in Twenty-One Easy Steps

1.  Decide to start with the bathrooms since presumably they are the nastiest.
2.  Move all of your cleaning supplies into the bathroom.
3.  After looking at the floor corners of the bathroom and the rotted baseboard under the sink, realize you might feel better about cleaning if you start with something "easier" like lightly dusting (the kind that requires no actual moving of knickknacks) the living room before attempting something actually dirty like the bathroom.
4.  Go to get the Pledge.
5.  Realize you are out of Pledge.  Blame the house cleaner (even though she has never stolen - not even money when its been left haphazardly on the counter) and curse under your breath.
6.  Skip the dusting and go back to the bathroom.
7.  Realize this task is going to take a "tasty beverage."
8.  Check the clock and realize it is too early for a beer.  Curse again (under your breath).
9.  Brew some yummy raspberry tea and sit down for a short rest.
10.  After brewing the tea, go to add some ice.  Realize you don't have ice because someone left the freezer door open all night and everything (ice included) in the ancient freezer defrosted.  Curse - this time not under your breath - and briefly wonder if your family will die from food poisoning later when you cook all the defrosted meat.  Curse again - loudly - at this thought.
11.  Drink some kinda yummy tea with no ice.
12.  Go back and assess the state of the dirty bathroom.
13.  Decide (spur of the moment) that this is going to take some elbow grease.  So, you better go work out.
14.  Work-out.
15.  Check your texts and messages to make sure the house cleaner has not texted or called to say she is on her way.
16.  Curse again (loudly and angrily) when you see she has not communicated.
17.  Go back to the bathroom.
18.  Lament the fact that cleaning takes entirely too long and too much energy.  Reaffirm your belief in house cleaners.
19.  Spray down everything in the bathroom (floors included), (with cleaners that have warnings not to mix them) so that you can come back later and just wipe everything down.
20.  Get another glass of luke warm tea and plop yourself in front of the computer to "research" new fridges.
21.  Make a firm decision (after wiping down the one downstairs bathroom) that you need a new fridge and the rest of the house can wait to be cleaned (either till you get more energy, or the house cleaner actually comes over) while you devise a way to tell hubby (possibly through a blog post?) that you want a new fridge.

That's just the way I do it.  Obviously, I am not a professional.  Hope it helps!  Have a great (hopefully cleaning-free) weekend!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Unicorn as profession of the gifted? Yeah, I have my doubts, too.

So, lately the three year old has been front and center in this family in terms of sociopathic behavior.  She may have oppositional defiant syndrome, she may have split personalities, she may have visions, and she might be delusional.  The jury is still out.

I don't think any of my older kids ever had imaginary friends.  I think the three year old does.  The friend's name is Elisa.  Here is what I know about her:  she is "like a princess," she lives in a castle, her parents are never mean, her parents never spank her, she can eat cookies and candies whenever she wants, she spends a lot of time on the Wii, she is around five years old, she has a brother (sometimes), and she goes to school (sometimes).  Here are the details that are sketchy:  how my daughter met Elisa, where Elisa actually lives (What is her castle near?), whether or not anyone else in our family knows Elisa, and whether or not we could sometime in the future meet Elisa.

Currently Girl 3 plans parties for Elisa, she talks about her like she was alive and real, she obsesses on Elisa's family, and she often spends more time talking about Elisa than about us (her real family).

Because I was mildly concerned about this new obsession, I extensively researched imaginary friends (via status updates on Facebook), and here is what I have learned:  imaginary friends are common and quite hilarious, I'm frankly surprised this is not more stand-up comedy fodder, some kids have gone to great lengths to give their friends fascinating details, in the history of man imaginary friends have taken the rap for everything from eating the last cookie to skipping school, having imaginary friends may be psycho-babble for sorting out issues within your own family (blech), and kids who have imaginary friends *might* have significantly higher IQs than kids that don't.  All in all my research showed:  Good news?  I guess?  Don't analyze my family?  My last kid is clearly a genius or if anything WAY smarter than the others?  I should be happy?  Right?

Well, here is where I am skeptical.  Let me take you back a few days ago when baby and I were in the grocery store check-out line.  A delightful older gentleman was in line behind us and was chuckling as baby was loudly belting out B-I-N-G-O while asking me a million questions far beyond her level (one of them being the purpose of Feminine Products).  This tolerant (possibly hard of hearing) older man asked her her name and how old she was to which she responded appropriately and with remarkable gusto.  He then asked her if she knew her ABCs.  She belted out a good 19 out of 26 letters and he clapped when she was "done."  He then commented to me, "You have a smart cookie on your hands."

Trust me, I did not get excited.  I was born at night, but not last night.  Plus, I have three older children.  So, I know better than to get excited when someone compliments my childrens' intelligence or behavior.  The compliment only means that they will immediately do something so ridiculously stupid (pick their nose and eat it, loudly ask an incredibly nonsensical question, slug their sibling in the nose, fart and then laugh, etc.) that it will cause you to leave them behind at whatever public place you happen to be.  Therefore, I just smiled silently.

He then turned to baby and enthusiastically said, "YOU ARE SO SMART!  What are you going to be when you grow up?"

To which baby (grinning a wildly psychotic grin) equally enthusiastically shouted, "I AM GOING TO BE A UNICORN WHEN I GROW UP!!!  WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP???"

Kids with imaginary friends *might* be smarter?  Someone save us.