Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Naked Truth. (And yes, I know you never wanted to see me naked.)

So, I'm trying to be a better blogger.  What does this mean for you?  I have no idea.  (I'll probably be way more annoying?) 

But, I just finished reading an excellent post  over at one of my favorite bloggers' space and he said try to post everyday because your readers want to subscribe to something that is worthwhile.  So, please think I'm worthwhile?  (He may have also said something about groveling, too, but I'm not above that yet.)

I've also had the opportunity to read lots of posts lately where the blogger tells you a lot of things about himself/herself so that you can get to know him/her better.  At least I think that's why they are doing it.  Do you want to know me better?  Probably not, but here it goes anyway.

1.  I am a compulsive list maker.  Sometimes Often times I make lists to make the list.  Is that creepy?  Yes.  But, I can't stop doing it.  Yesterday I found this list in my jeans' pocket:

2.  Sometimes I go months without washing my jeans.

3.  I often ask and answer questions all by myself.  And by "often" I mean all the time.  Example:  This is the running dialogue in my head right now.

Is this post crazy?
Do I care?
Should I still publish it?
Why did you ask that question when you actually knew the answer before you even typed it?
I have no idea.

4.  I blame my kids and hubby for stuff I do at least daily.  Example:  When I've eaten 10 candies out of my kids' candy baskets after they've gone to bed and they find my wrappers in the trash the next morning I calmly say when they ask how the wrappers got in the trash, "Oh, how did those get in the trash?  That's weird.  I guess dad was craving chocolate last night."  My kids, "But, dad doesn't even like chocolate."  Me, "WELL, THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD THEN, HUH???"

5.  So, is #4 basically lying?  Yes, it is.

6.  I hate talking on the phone.  Don't ever call me and tell me something remotely important that needs action because usually I am not even listening.  The washing machine that I am loading is making too much noise and I can't hear you.  (My close friends and most of my family know this about me so I don't consider it rude.)  (Sometimes I lie to myself.)

7.  I am mostly deaf.  In both ears.  Not really, but it's psychosomatic so that makes it true.

8.  I don't trust doctors.  Unless they are taking a baby out of my womb.  In that case I trust them more than hubby.

9.  I brush my teeth anytime I am upstairs in my bathroom.  Even if I brushed them earlier and I haven't eaten anything.

10.  I read a lot in the bathroom.  My kids *might* think I have bowel problems because they often pound on the door and scream, "ARE YOU DONE YET?  ARE YOU OKAY?  GAWD, MOM.  YOU'VE BEEN IN THERE FOR LIKE AN HOUR!"  Half the time I'm just sitting on the pot (the closed pot) reading my book and grunting occasionally at them.  I get my best reading done that way.

11.  I constantly curse at spell check.  Example (I just said this to spell check.):  No you, moron.  Cheesus H. Christ.  I typed, "hte" and you think I want to say "Hate???"  WTF?  You are a worse speller AND WRITER than I am???  How would that even make sense???  And this is supposed to be helpful???  I hate you.

I could go on and on.  Who knew?  Turns out I love talking about myself.  But, this is to make you guys happy, right?   

Now, tell me something incriminating about yourself (not on the phone - in the comments) to make me happy and then we'll be even.  Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 25, 2013

It's not the Oscars.

I'm in a weird state right now.  It's called the state of confusion.  So, this is not really a post, but more of an Andy Rooneyish list of things that are bugging me.  (You're welcome and I'm sorry because Andy Rooney bugs me, too.)

1.  What the hell is really in Thin Mints?  Crack cocaine?  Is there anyone in the world that can eat just one?  I can resist them until about February 25th and then I'm like an addict that needs a fix.  I eat one and I see bugs crawling all over me.  Until I eat another one and then I feel a little better.  And then I eat the whole box and I stop shaking.  Why are the Girl Scouts trying to kill me?

2.  Why is my puppy such a nut?  Is it because he's a pound puppy?  Is that why he is compelled to never leave our sight?  Do I like this?  Or, do I just think it's weird?  Is he an idiot savant?  Heavy on the idiot?  Because he can almost open the front door with his paw.  Yeah.  Top that!  I dare you.  My family might actually have a chance on America's Got Talent.

3.  Why did I pay the public library enough money in fines in 2012 to claim it on my fu*king taxes?  Why am I over 30 and still this irresponsible?  Why can't library books come with tasers?  Because I think if I got tasered every time my library books were due, I'd have a fighting chance.

4.  Why is our elementary school talent show such a pain in my a$$?  Why am I not ecstatic that my 11 year old boy wants to play a classical piano piece (that he is actually really good at playing) in the talent show the last year that he will be in elementary school???  Is it because the talent show is rumored to last over two hours and I will have to take hubby and the four year old?  Or is it because if I have to hear even one elementary school girl sing any Taylor Swift song I will vomit in my mouth?  Or could it be because there have been more rehearsals for this talent show than there were rehearsals for the Oscars?  And are there even rehearsals for the Oscars?  Cheesus.

5.  Why have I gained back all the weight I lost last spring in order to be seen in a bathing suit which I will have to be seen in again in another few months?  (Besides #1.)  Why was I born with no will power? 

6.  Why do I have to teach my 11, 10, and 8 year olds how to take their clothes off properly?  Why are we not born knowing how to take off clothes so that they do not need to be inside outed a gazillion times before we can wear them again after washing and drying them?  If I could make a deal with God and trade the innate ability to suckle with the innate ability to know how to remove clothes for easy laundering - I'd do it.

7.  Why does Girl 3 never stop talking?  And where is her volume control knob?  And, what frankly, is she talking about half the time?  Her east coast (?) accent is making her more and more difficult to understand and more than a few times this past month I've had to say after taking serious time to think about her inquiry, "What are you talking about for Pete's sake?"  And then I have to bite my lip when she asks loudly, "Mama, who's Pete?"  Cheesus.

8.  Are the people who developed tax forms and the people who developed business plan templates one in the same?  Because I would consider loading up all my kids to go shop for bathing suits with bad lighting, pasty skin, fat on my belly and eight beady eyes staring at me in order to avoid both of them.

9.  Why when I am carrying two of something (two lipsticks, two sets of keys, two pairs of glasses, two pens, etc.) and I reach for one without being able to see it - do I always grab the one I don't want?  And why doesn't it work to try and trick my own mind?  And why am I crazy enough to try that? 

10.  And while I'm at it, why do I have 1000 pairs of glasses, but I still can't see worth a damn?  Frankly, it's ridiculous.  I have four pairs of bifocals (two downstairs, one upstairs, one in my purse), two pairs of prescription glasses, two pairs of prescription sunglasses, about a $hit ton of non-prescription sunglasses (usually, none of which I can find), and four boxes of contacts for two different prescriptions.  Invariably I leave the house with my glasses on (while it's dark or cloudy) and only non-prescription sunglasses in my purse only to have the sun (which hasn't been seen in days) blaze brightly in the sky out of nofreakingwhere.

denverebayclassifieds.com.  Yes, someone was selling these for $200.00.  Me to Hubby, "I'm gonna be rich!"
There's more, but you have important things to do.  At least I hope you do.  Like your taxes or a business plan.  While you're at it - help yourself to a box of Thin Mints...for me.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Good American - A Great Read

I am being compensated by Blogher for this book review, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

This book was such a pleasant surprise for me that it's embarrassing for me to think back to a couple weeks ago when I was actually dreading reading it.  Everything I read about the book beforehand made me think it was a historical novel and when I signed up to review it I half hoped I wouldn't be accepted (historical novels are not my thing at all).  I was accepted and the dreading began.  To my absolute delight, when I started reading the dread stopped right at the end of the first page.

There are so many things about this book that I loved, it was hard to decide what to choose to write about and where to start.  I decided the beginning would be a good place.  The story is narrated by the grandson of the characters who begin the novel.  Grandpa and Grandma (as they become) immigrate to America from Germany and the novel traces their voyage and subsequent life in America. 

Since I felt kind of deceived by the book blurbs I read I thought I'd write about some of the stuff I didn't read in any of the blurbs.

First:  This is a love story on so many levels.  First of all, it's a love story about the love a person has for their homeland and the love one can grow to have for their new land.  There are few people who will not be able to relate to either the immigrant experience or the non-immigrant experience of simply having a deep love for your country - or both.  The novel unfolds to also tell some fabulously unexpected love stories between characters.  It tells about the love that comes from a friend.  It explores the love that two people can have for each other that is not physical, but based on a deep friendship that crosses racial and cultural lines.  And finally it is a story about love for music.  I am not really a music lover myself, so I was surprised when I found myself interested in reading about the characters' passion for music.  If you are a music lover I think you will appreciate the part music plays in this story even more.
Second:  This is a coming of age novel of sorts.  The narrator goes through his teen years in detail in the novel.  This part of the story was surprising to me in the turn of subject matter from somewhat serious to teenage boyish.  It was also humorous and at the same time heart breaking.  This part of the story that dealt with coming of age in the 1950's made me think about how things have changed and how they've really stayed the same.  There were bullies then and there are bullies now.  Teen boys were hormone obsessed then and they are now.  There was illegal drinking and smoking going on then and there is still illegal substance using going on.  The intensity has changed, but the issues really haven't.  I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the novel.  I laughed and cried.

Third:  This is a story that entices the reader to continue reading.  I loved the way the progress of the characters, the progress of America, and the progress of the restaurant business all moved the story along in an absolutely enthralling way.  I admit I am a spoiler.  It's embarrassing - but I almost always read the last page of a book first and I am constantly skipping chapters to read the next chapter and then going back and reading what I skipped over.  I didn't do that this time and I am so glad!   Alex George has a clever technique of leaving the reader questioning what's going to happen next nearly at the end of each chapter.  He cleverly states things like, "The fierce love of Jette's family kept him there long after he should have been on his way."  (Italics are mine.)  This technique worked for me!  I was captivated and wondering - okay, why did he say that - what's going to happen???  I patiently read every single page.  In order.  And, there is no spoiler alert for this post, but you do not want to read the end first and if you don't read until the end you will miss what some might consider the whole point of the novel.  It is truly good until the last word.

I loved this book.  I cried through most of the last chapters and I spent the two days after I finished the novel missing the characters and wishing I hadn't finished the book so that I could read more.  I am looking forward to reading more from Alex George.                      . 

So, what can I say?  If you want a beautiful story about the human experience wrapped in a love story tied up with music and food that started with German immigrants - go out and get this book.  We will be discussing this book over on Blogher and you can follow the discussion (trust me - it's bound to be interesting) at:  https://www.blogher.com/bookclub/now-reading-good-american

Happy reading, friends!

Monday, February 18, 2013

I pulled it off with little real skills and you can too!

So, in case any moms out there are asked by their daughters for a ladybug/sweet shoppe party and your baking/organizing/preparing skills are about a "2" on a scale from 1- 10 - you have come to the right place! 

I did it, y'all.  And I am still alive to tell about it.  No one was burned (namely because I opted against having hot glue guns), no one vomited from consuming too much candy (although that one was a close call), hubby said I was getting to be "quite the party planner" (thanks, hubby - I'll take that as a compliment), I managed to take some photos for y'all, and most importantly - everyone seemed to have a good time.

You can see the invitations I picked up at Hobby Lobby here.  Because it's kind of hard doing ladybug theme with a 10 year old.  Most ladybug themes are geared toward toddlers.

The fluffy decorations were a huge hit.  You can buy them in a huge variety of colors at Party City or online.  Although, not at Hobby Lobby where the saleswoman looked at me like I was daffy when I asked her if they sold "fluffy decorations."  She said, "Ma'am, that's great, but what are they really called."  She then eyed me suspiciously when I said (a little louder), "FLUFFY DECORATIONS."  I love balloons - so, of course, I also got red and black balloons. 
I can't find anyplace in my house that provides a nice white background for photos, so here are some of my fluffies against a weird combination of colors.
We got 20 balloons, but if I had the money I would have gotten 100.
The other "decorations" were the candy jars.  The turned out really great and I liked them.  I put some money into the containers, but happily I can use them again for our annual Halloween party.  And, yes, that is a the large bucket of Papa Dean's popcorn in the background - flavor (Girl 1's and momma's favorite) - CHOCOLATE.  Some of the popcorn also went home with each girl in the treat bags - to enjoy after the party.

The Wonka lollies were for the prizes.  Most of the containers and the candies I got at Party City.
We played a few games that the girls really seemed to like.  We played the Guess How Many game that seems quite common at sweet shoppe parties I read about online.  I just had the girls write down how many candies they thought were in one of the jars.  I also hid a tiny candy that was different in four of the jars of candy and they had to find it.  That one was not too successful because the girls screamed out each time they found the candy - so then all the girls knew.  Doh.  (Ten year old girls really like to scream.)  We played Sweet Shoppe bingo from this great post.  It downloaded and copied beautifully and the girls really liked this game.  I used cinnamon dots for the markers.  And we also played a game where I had them hold some cinnamon dots on a spoon in their mouth and "race" to fill up their team's jar.  Again, I didn't think this one out well enough and it ended up being a laughing game with cinnamon dots ALL OVER the floor.  Ah, well.  If giggling is evidence of liking something - the girls liked it.  And, the last game we played was a candy name scramble.  I scrambled 10 candy names and they figured them out.  That one was really fun and the girls liked it.

We were going to make the cute little purses that I posted a while back, but because both my girls got burned making them I decided just to make them and give them out. Instead, Girl 1 decided she wanted to make cake pops. It was a great choice. I made the cake pop chocolate balls that morning and the girls then decorated them. They weren't much to look at, but they were SUPER YUMMY. I actually think I might be on my way to making yummy and beautiful pops.

And there's the popcorn and one cake pop.
So, we gave purses and cookies for the "treat bags," and of course loads and loads of the leftover candy.  Here are some other photos in case you ever need ideas for a similar party. 

I got these super cute candy bags at Party City, too.
And another shot of the cookies because - yes - I am proud.

These are the bags me and my girls made for everyone.  You can see a better photo here.  And you can find the link to make them on my Ladybug/Sweet Shoppe Pinterest board.  
All in all it was super fun. Girl 1 had a blast and I hope her friends loved it, too.  With so little skills and original ideas - I love to see what other people have done.  So, if there is one person out there who is less creative than I am - here you go!  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I'd rather say "I love you" with clean undies, but that's probably just me.

So, here's what got done this week:

1.  My kids have pretty much always been those kids that take the Valentines directly from the bang-your-head-on-the-Wal-Mart box to school and pass them out as is.  No frills.  No candies.  Nothing home made.  Then they bring home all these Valentines that they've received that cost about $10 each, include all kinds of home made Valentines Monopoly games and chocolates that I have to eat because I don't want the kids to get too many cavities.  I feel like slacker-mom until I have consumed all the chocolate.  Then I feel like slacker-mom with a head ache.  Last year I vowed to change all that. 

Well, it's been moderately successful.  No one really seems to care that I am transforming myself into a quasi-Martha except me.  The kids (especially the Boy Child) are perfectly fine with giving store-bought Valentines and receiving home made Valentines or really anything as long as it's loaded with high fructose corn syrup.  So, since no one really cares I pretty much just did what I wanted this year.  No pressure.......... except Pinterest (damn that bitch).

Here's what me and the big girls made (straight from a photo on Pinterest).  It was pretty easy and delicious.  It cost about 8,000 dollars and we didn't have enough left over to suit my stomach taste.  But, I'd do it again and just save up and buy twice as much. 

Um, yeah.  That's yummy, right?  I like to say "Happy Valentines Day" directly through my stomach.

Here's how you make it because usually Pinterest just shows you the finished product.  Oh, except the generic coffee maker.  (You don't really need that.  Unless you stay up all night to do this.  Then you will need lots of caffeine.)

And this is the cute finished product.  Like I said nothing says, "Happy Valentines Day" like loads of sugar.
And, here's what the tiny girl is taking for her classmates (mainly because there are only 12 classmates).

They were "meh" I'd say.  I'm still working out the kinks of making cookies on my own (yeah, I know, I'm only 39???).
I *think* the lady who taught me/us all the cookie classes *might* be getting sick of me stalking her.  Unfortunately (for her) she works at a cake shop that is just around the corner (too bad I couldn't make a cake if my life depended on it).  So, I've been going there like everyday to ask her mundane questions about every detail of reproducing her cookies in the comfort of my own home (and by "comfort of my own home" I mean in my pajamas drinking a beer).  I think she's growing weary.

She did tell me, though, that my issues with getting the consistency of the frosting just right to squeeze is "perfectly normal" for morons beginners.  Of course, that was after I'd been questioning her for about three hours, so she may have just been trying to get me to go away.

Anyway, friends.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I am posting all my not-perfect handiwork on Pinterest because you know it needs more normal people like me.  Oh, and did I say not much else got done this week?  I am frantically trying to finish all the shiz for the Ladybug Sweet Shoppe party, my fingers are numb from gluing, and there are piles of dirty laundry everywhere.

So, I guess what I am learning is that keeping up with the Marthas has its advantages.  I get to feel semi-smug and my kids look cool.  It also has its disadvantages - we feel smug and cool wearing yesterday's undies and foraging for food.  That's the wrap guys.  I hope you have a great Valentines...or at least have clean undergarments.  I'll post again when I recover from the third degree burns on my hands.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crafting didn't kill me. But there's still a chance.

So, I'm getting ready for Girl 1's 10th birthday Ladybug/Sweet Shoppe extravaganza.  And for me it's a challenge.  I am both crafting and baking impaired, and I have four kids.  The crafting and baking involved in birthday parties held at home can be especially problematic.  And, Girl 1 chose a theme that basically is not a theme....anywhere....on the Internet or IRL.  (Of course.) 

I promised I'd post the No Sew Ruffled Tote that I made yesterday if it was not crap.  Here it is. 

Girl 1 is in love with the tote.  And I must admit, I surprised myself.  I only burned one of my kids.  And, only once.

We will not be doing this as a craft during the party, though as I originally thought.  I really want my kid to have friends after the party, so I thought it would be bad protocol to burn all the girls at the party with hot glue guns (that and the party is only three hours and it took eight hours for me to make this).

Not dead yet!
So, guess who has five more days to make nine more No Sew Ruffled Totes?!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Going for a world record.

I haven't blogged in a while because Girl 1 is turning 10 in a couple weeks.  And remember - we do 10 big in this family?  And, after the amazing success of Boy Child's 10th (and by "amazing success" I mean: I didn't burn anything, everything I made fairly resembled what it was supposed to, and all children made it safely back to their own parents), I am kinda feeling pressured.  I started to plan late and my ideas are nonexistent.  So, here's the skinny.  Maybe you guys can help.

Girl 1 wants a ladybug theme.  Again.  For the fourth (or is it fifth?) time.  She absolutely loves ladybugs.  It's weird.  And kind of creepy.  But, she does.  They're cute, but reallyFour times?  And for the 10th birthday?  But, alas - it is her birthday not mine, so we're doing it.  We are combining ladybug theme with sweet shoppe theme.  How do you do that, you ask?  I don't freakin' know.

Here's what I have so far that I love.  What will actually make it to the party - it's anybody's guess.
These are the super cute invitations I bought today that are kind of lady-bugish?  (That's all I really have so far besides grandiose ideas.)
I know.  It's a long shot.  Mine will probably look like murder balls, but one can hope, right?

From amandaparkerandfamily.blogspot.com.  I've made these before and they are fairly easy, so I figure I'm good with this one.  I'm going to do red with black sprinkles.
From catchmyparty.com.  This is my sweet shoppe idea.  I want to put some red and black candies in clear jars?  How hard can that be?  Except, of course, black licorice.  Because it tastes like crap?

I'm abnormally nervous about more than four children in my house with nothing specific to do, so of course I have researched a craft because Girl 1 also loves crafting.  I found these.  Which are incredibly cute and also incredibly labor intensive.  So, these might not make it to the party.  I am going to do a trial run this weekend.  If I never blog again - it will be because I was eaten by the wicked witch of crafting everywhere.
This is way above my level.  What's my level?  Gluing...paper...to paper.
And, lastly I found these things called, "Fluffy black decorations" at Party City and I kinda love them.  A lot.  I also love their name.  It's like I named them.  The person who named them was all, "I'm really tired from inventing these and so let's just name them 'fluffy decorations.'"  I want to get black and red fluffy decorations and lots of black and red balloons.

And, games.  I have thought of two games.  Don't laugh.  It took me a long time to think of two.  First game:  Guess how many red and black M&M's are in the jar.  Second game:  Scramble up a bunch of candy names and have the girls unscramble them.  If you guys have some great games for 10 year old girls related to ladybugs or candy (because I know that's really common) - please send them my way!

Wish me luck this weekend friends.  And if my creation is not complete crap maybe I'll post it.  Cheers!