Dec 13, 2010

Reason #117 to Shop Online for Christmas This Year

To avoid having your 5 year old brush against a display of snow-globes (the glass kind), and knock one to the floor. And then a few minutes later having your 2 year old drop another snow globe that you didn't know they had nabbed.

"That's funny, we just had another snow globe incident around the corner," says the employee who comes to clean up. "Oh, ha ha. That's so weird. What a coincidence..." you say while clamping your hand over the 5 year old's mouth to keep him from ratting you out.

Breaking $22 worth of snow globes at Target in 3 minutes. That's a great reason to shop online this year.

How's your Christmas shopping going?

Nov 26, 2010

A Tale of (the day after) Thanksgiving

So I happened to catch a commercial today for Black Friday. It depicted happy, well-rested couples leisurely strolling through a mostly empty store, all smiles and laughter, with dollar signs and rainbows and puppies all around. It was almost exactly like our First Ever Black Friday Shopping Experience last year. And by our, I really mean Mark's. Up until then, we'd never partaken in the joy of early morning shopping mobs. I've always theorized that there must be something about eating such large quantities of green bean casserole in one day that profoundly inhibits one's ability to think rationally, and therefore must be directly responsible for the tradition of Black Friday. Which, following any other normal food-intake day would just seem so obviously insane (you know that saying, what if they gave an amazing 4 AM sale and no one came?). Even after a year to reflect, I still don't know why we succumbed, only how. Here it is:

Around midnight of Thanksgiving last, I was looking at an ad for Target, and mentioned to Mark, "hey this is really good deal on Razor scooters. It would be a great present for Mia. Doors open at 5, who wants to wake up?" At this point we looked at each other and promptly fell on the floor in hysterical fits of laughter. Finally we sat up, wiped our eyes, and Mark said, "seriously, I'll go." And that was that.

Later I learned that he slept through the alarm and didn't get to Target until 6, at which point there was a big empty space where the Razors were supposed to be; it seemed the entire trip was a bust. Except miraculously, some mystical shopper fairy (Justin Beiber?) came to his aid, and pointed out the 2 remaining Razors on some display in the automotive section. While angelic choirs were singing (or at least that's what I imagine in my head), he secured the second to last Razor in the store, and possibly the entire state of Washington, all thank to the Benevolent Consumer Elf! Now he only had to get in line, complete the transaction, and get home with time to sleep in still. What he didn't realize was that all the hoards of people milling around everywhere was the line, wrapped around the store a couple of times. It was probably somewhere between 2 and 20 miles long. Eternities later, give or take a few millenia, he finds the end and, because it's the thing to do, stands there. It was a rough crowd of seasoned shoppers, and it didn't take long for the heckling to start:
Dude, are you really only getting one thing?
Umm, where's your shopping buddy?
You didn't even bring a Kindle/iPod/DS/Ridiculously Expensive Electronic Device?
You know it's over a 2 hour wait from this spot right?
Wait, are you a newbie? (astonished pause) OMG, it's a Black Friday Virgin!
No way, I heard about people like you but I didn't know you actually existed!
You seriously have no idea what you're doing!

Turns out, shopping on Black Friday is kind of an art form, and not just about disheveled parents in their pajamas fighting in the toy section. My brother and sister-in-law draw up maps of each store, plot out the coordinates of key items, create a detailed time-schedule, and take walkie-talkies and guns. (Just kidding about the walkie-talkies.) We just thought they were weird. We had no idea they were insane.

So back to Mark waiting in line at Target with our one item. For about an hour he endured the
(kind of) gentle ribbing of his fellow line-standers, most of whom were just holding a place while their spouse/friend/paid companion madly rushed about the store collecting stuff that would simply be crazy to calmly buy at regular price at a decent hour after having showered and eaten, of course. For quite a while he was blessed to listen to 2 large women describe their sexual exploits in detail. (Note to Black Friday shoppers: while compiling your shopping list this year, you might also want to compile a list of appropriate subjects to discuss in public.) Mostly he was bored out of his mind, really tired, and at the center of the Trifecta of Holiday Hell: crowds, canned Christmas music, and fluorescent lighting. Eventually, someone felt he had been sufficiently hazed and suggested he beg the obviously not busy employee at Customer Service to ring him up (not a euphemism). Well, that employee wasn't supposed to, but did take pity on my poor, ridiculously unprepared husband and saved him another hour in line and a whole $13 on a Razor scooter. Yep, just like the commercial.

This Thanksgiving, we're grateful for the return of our sanity.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Are you shopping this year?)

Nov 9, 2010

Speaking Of

[This] is the future of publishing: 18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, 8 of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75.
- Garrison Keeler

You can always count on Garrison Keeler for great quotes. I had no idea I was missing out on the big bucks! Can't wait to plaster my blog with flashing, spastic ads. I love being part of the future.

Speaking of quotes and random segues, Nate, our resident extrovert, says things at age 2 that I swear Mia and Sam never said at the same age. Things like, "hey, no fair!" and "I go to McDonalds?" and "ready to fight a you" (while wielding a paperclip/straw/popsicle stick gun, and complete with the classic high-pitched "pew pew pew" shooting sound effects). I think our absolute favorite though was the big "OH CRAP!" he yelled out in the car while we were driving on vacation this Summer. But it's followed pretty closely by his pronunciation of chocolate (ch sounds like f, and he drops the l). The kids have taught him to say "mwah ha ha," and it never fails to warm my heart when I hear that sweet maniacal laughter coming from his room when he's supposed to be taking a nap. Oh, and whenever we mention anything about rainbows, he always responds with "Double rainbow! All the way!" And if you have no idea what that is referring to, you seriously missed out on one of the best things on YouTube this Summer.

Most of the things Nate says are cute because of the way he says them, not so much because of what he's actually saying. Sam, on the other hand, is currently our nonstop source of awesome quotes. The tendency of 5 year olds to have no grasp of logic is maddening at times, but fortunately hysterical at other times, like when they say, "well, it looks like the dead people are still there," while driving past a cemetery. Or when you have this exchange with them:

Sam: When I get to be a dolt (an adult), will I just stay that way forever?
Me: Yep.
Sam: Oh, so I'll never be a giant?

Or like when I overheard Sam telling Mia he once got a bloody tooth "back in the old days." To which her reply was, "you've only been alive 5 years, you don't have any old days." He also told Mark that he liked being in the middle, such as "the middle of the couch, the middle of the line, the middle of the party..."

Speaking of parties... I missed Sam's birthday post, but his birthday wish list is worth sharing:
3 pirate boats
1 old camera
a real phone, to call everyone
the cranky that hooks onto the train (I have no idea)
a pirate jail
the dinosaur movie
allowance dollars

He did start getting an allowance when he turned 5, but unfortunately owed the first 2 months worth to our new "Mom and Dad's Vacation Fund" jar, which gets .25 for every name the kids call each other. So far Sam has contributed $5 of the $6.25 that's in there, mostly the consequence of the "stinky poopy dirky oodle noonie head" variety of insults. We're banking on a nice vacation next year. Keep it up Sam!

Sam's been honing his literary skills lately too. He'll spend a good 30 seconds scribbling on a bunch of pages, and then proceed to "dictate" the story to me. Here's my favorite:
Once upon a time there was a girl name Mia and a boy named Sam.
Mia and Sam said, "let's get our bikes and ride in a tunnel."
So they decided to walk instead.
"Let's go the end," said Sam.
"Hey look! A bridge!"
They went over the bridge to the end of the cave.
And then Mia's eyeball was lost.
The end.

He's really got that surprise ending thing down. As you can imagine, this story did not go over well with Mia. Not many things go over well with Mia these days though, especially when it comes to Sam. But speaking of Mia, she's moved out of the funny quotes phase and into the stage of saying perfectly normal things but with a whole lot of attitude and usually accompanied with an eye roll. She's also added some fun words to her vocabulary, such as: freakin', dude, and sheesh mageesh.

Mia's also entered an endearing phase of demanding exactness in all things. So when I say something like, "Mia, it's 10:30, you should be asleep," I get this response: "No, it's not. It's 10:28. Sheesh mageesh." Or when Sam declares that he figured something out because he's a "scientist," Mia quickly observes, "you're not a scientist. Where's your white coat dude?" Or when Sam is getting creative on the piano and asks me if I liked his "song," and I respond with an "absolutely." Mia usually chimes in with, "she's just saying that because she's your mom you know!" Thanks Mia!

Speaking of pianos, that brings me to the point of this post: the piano I recently acquired from my parents.

(You're welcome for the awesome camera phone quality and amazing lighting.)

It's not going to win any piano beauty pageants, that's for sure. Probably not any piano personality contests either. But it is the piano that I learned to play on (and by that I mean the piano that I spent hours pounding on as an escape from my crazy household), the piano of my grandmother's dreams, the piano that my brother took a hammer to as a young child, and the piano that my parents didn't tune for over 30 years. Well, it's mine now, and though isn't nearly worth the cash crop this blog could potentially bring in ($1.75), if there is one thing I've learned from my mother, it's that when sentimentality is involved, or even a vague inclination, you keep it forever. And ever. Preferably in some sort of shadow box. And if there is one thing I've learned from reading random craft blogs, it's that anything can be covered with paint, especially Robin's Egg Blue. And if there is one thing that I've learned from myself, it's certainly not that I should probably back down from ambitious paint projects. Which is why I vowed to paint this piano some shade of something crazy before the end of Summer, (and now am revising that to sometime during my lifetime) and I'm turning to my readers, all 14 of you, to help me decide on the perfect funky splash of color that boldly declares yep, somebody had a mid-life crisis! Speak up now and reserve the right to complain loudly when I ignore your advice and paint it whatever color I want. And then repaint it another color when I don't like the first one. And then have my husband move it to three different locations in our house, and then finally give it away for free on Craigslist.

And you can quote me on that.

Oct 13, 2010

Harvest 2010 (or Oh Crap, Is Summer Over?)

Obviously, while I wasn't blogging all Summer I also wasn't doing much in our garden either. What's that about the Law of the Harvest? Well, now my kids think that when you plant a seed and do absolutely nothing for 3 months, what you get is the world's most adorable pumpkin. Yet another teaching moment lost forever.

Some other things I wasn't doing much of this Summer: taking pictures, exercising, reading, and supervising my children (though that last one's entirely normal). Mostly I was eating a lot of Nutella, and thinking about rearranging my furniture. It actually takes a lot energy to rearrange your furniture in your mind, hence the calorie-dense Nutella diet.

So more or less, days and weeks turned into months, October rolled around, my Costco stash of that deliciously creamy hazelnut spread finally ran out, and I rearranged my living room. I am born anew, and can blog once again. Psychoanalyze how you may. Please do in fact, I could use some free therapy.

Fall is about new beginnings right? Oh wait, no. It's about letting go. (Though we all know it's really about sweaters. Wait, did I say sweaters? I meant Sweaters!). So I'm going to let go right now of my guilt over being the ONLY MOTHER ON THE PLANET who didn't post pictures of the first day of school on her blog (or take any for that matter). I'm letting go of my disappointment that we did not, in fact, move to Mexico (or anywhere else) this Summer. And considering the headlines lately, that's probably a good thing. I'm also going to let go of that "hey, it's been a while/you look like you've been eating a lot of Nutella" awkwardness of getting reacquainted, and just dive back in like I never had that 4 month hiatus. And I'll try to find my camera (and the battery charger) just so I can take and post pictures of us carving that tiny pumpkin, while wearing our Fall sweaters(!).

It's good to let go. And rearrange furniture. And begin again.

Jun 3, 2010

You are a Good Person and I Love You

That's what a total stranger yelled at me across the parking lot at the grocery store yesterday.
It's a little weird to have a compliment delivered in the form of yelling, from someone you don't know, and for no discernible reason.
But also kind of nice. (Although, Mia thought is was disgusting. "Ew, he said he loves you Mommy!")
Granted, he didn't look very mentally stable.
Maybe he thought I was someone he knew.
There's a good chance he was high as a kite.
He obviously had no idea how earlier I'd wanted to flip off the driver who cut the corner on a left turn, causing me to slam on my brakes and sent Sam's full cup of water flying all over the car.
Then again, he doesn't know anything else about me either.
It kind of made my day.

So I decided to pass the message onto you.
You are a good person.
You are loved.
Thanks for reading.

May 31, 2010

Corporal Punishment- Back By Popular Demand

Consider the following conversation:

Me: So what do you think we should we do when you and Sam call each other names?

Mia: Ooooh! You could wash our mouths out with soap.

Sam: Yeah!

Me: Really?

Mia: How about... you could spank us!

Me: OK, next.

Mia: Ummm, send us outside for 24 hours?

Sam: No, for 500 hours!

Me: {eyebrows furrowed} Any other ideas?

Mia: Oh, I know! You could ground us for a week!

Me: Just try not to call each other stupid OK?

As I walked away thinking I had the most naive children in the history of humankind, it suddenly occurred to me:

Wait, did I just get played?

I'm quite sure they were high-fiving behind my back.

May 20, 2010

I Can't Sleep, Must be Time for Random

This random-style post is inspired by Tiffany. If you don't read her blog, you should.

  • It's only midnight.
  • It's not even late for me.
  • Normally I wouldn't be bothered by being awake at midnight.
  • Except I went to bed at 10.
  • Which is really early for me.
  • I was just sure I would fall asleep this time.
  • I tried to pressure myself into it.
  • That's where I went wrong.
  • I should have known that would never work.
  • Peer pressure really doesn't have much of a hold on me, even the self-inflicted non-peer kind.
  • In fact, usually the more popular something is, the less interested I am in it.
  • I still haven't joined Facebook.
  • Twilight? I'm on Team Gag Me.
  • The "everyone else is doing it" argument works well as reverse psychology for me.
  • Except when it comes to my sock drawer.
  • As I'm throwing socks in and coercing it shut, I'm always thinking Everyone else does this right?
  • Organizing your sock drawer by color and type is just a myth right?
  • I just toss the athletic socks right in there with the dress socks, with the nylons with runs, unmatched striped socks, socks that haven't been fashionable since the Clinton administration, socks I never should have bought in the first place, my "skinny" socks, and the ones with holes in the toes.
  • Wool, cotton, synthetic blends; they all co-mingle in a gloriously disorganized jumbled mess of foot-coverings.
  • Tell me I'm not the only one with this shameful secret.
  • Really, it's important to me.
  • I knew you'd want to know why.
  • Actually, I've no idea.
  • But perhaps it's a result of growing up in a religion that encourages a detachment from the entire "outside world", but at the same time demands complete conformity within?
  • But that's just a guess.
  • It would explain my ambivalence for whatever everyone else is doing outwardly, while harboring an obsession with every one's secret inner lives and the current condition of their sock drawers.
  • It's a paradox.
  • Actually, I love paradoxes.
  • They're so messy.
  • Like sock drawers.
  • And religions.
  • And secret inner lives.
  • They keep things interesting.
  • So, really, is your sock drawer a mess?
  • Cause that would really make me feel better.
  • And then maybe I could go to sleep.
  • But don't tell me to go to sleep.
  • That will never work.

May 12, 2010

All In a Day's Work

So, besides awesome giveaways, what have I been up to lately? Nothing much. Just keeping my kids alive. No, really.

Just a few weeks ago, I left Mia and Sam in the bath unsupervised for no more than 3 minutes (they do, after all, know how to swim), and Mark walked in just in time to stop Sam from plugging in a fan and putting it in the bath with Mia. We had a new vocabulary word that day: electrocution. Also neverevereverdothatagain.

Then there was the time that we were getting ready to go for a walk, and Sam alerted me that the stroller (with Nate strapped in it) was rolling backwards down our very steep driveway and into the street. Sam still talks about the funny look on Nate's face as he watched me sprint after him like a crazy woman. It's unclear if there was foul play involved.

A while back I found Sam trying to open a box with a pair of scissors. After I helped him open it and reminded him about our scissors rule, he was silent for a minute and then said, "I cut my eye." What? Sure enough, his left eyelid was cut. I'm so glad I didn't see how close he came to stabbing his eye out.

Yesterday we found Nate walking around with a pair of scissors, open and against his throat. They were kids scissors, but still-- the fact that his first instinct with scissors is to hold the blade against his neck is beyond scary. How did he get the scissors? I don't know, but I'm willing to bet Sam was involved.

In fact, Sam seems to be the common denominator in all these stories, along with an appalling lack of parental supervision. But let's focus on Sam for the time being. Specifically Sam and scissors.

Exhibit A:

Well, that's the only exhibit for now, but I'm sure they'll be another one soon. When that happens, I'll be sure to post a picture, as long as it hasn't been confiscated by CPS as evidence.

As long as we're on the subject of Sam, you might be interested to know that his current life ambition is to be a duck.

I'm glad it doesn't involve doing anything with a blade.

And just for fun, here's a recent memorable quote from Sam:
(Be sure to read it in your most belligerent 4 year old voice)
"Here's a story: Once upon a time I was going to get a mom. I was really excited to get a happy mom. And instead I got a mad mom and I didn't like that. The end."

All I can say is, I'm sorry Sam, life doesn't always have happy endings. But as I recall, you did survive through that day. I'm going to hide the scissors now OK?

May 10, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Actually, I should say winners.

Because every one's a winner. Except on this blog. Here there are only three, and depending on how you look at winning a bag of yarn, it might only be 2. So here are the totally randomly generated results, which were unfortunately not at all influenced by food bribes.

The coveted Bean Burger recipe and the Gallery of Regrettable Food book goes to: TV Mom.
Katy gets the Tiny Bag of Yarn.
And, the home-made soap goes to Kirstin.

Look for your prizes in the mail (or on your porch Kirstin) soon!

In case you are interested, the reject with the most votes was #2: It's Time We Had a Little Talk. I have to say I was pretty relieved, since that hopefully means I didn't offend or alienate too many people, or get kicked out of many wills. I'm still in all of your wills right?

Thanks for voting, reading, and winning! Forget what I said earlier-- you all are winners on my blog. Because seriously, I don't allow losers to read my blog.

(And if you haven't already, go here to vote in the 2010 TOADYS. Which toy did you vote for?)

Since They Always Say It Goes By Way Too Quickly

Here are a few things I don't want to forget:

This Kind of Happiness:
May 7th, 2010, 1 PM. Swinging spidey-style at the park with my boys.

This Mother's Day Note:
This non-photoshopped moment:

This belly button:

This Conversation:
Sam, half-asleep one morning: "Mommy, why don't you ever fart?"
Me: "Well, everyone farts. Just not every one's are loud and stinky, like Daddy's."
Sam: "Oh, mine aren't loud and stinky either. They're just kind of like peace and quiet."

(What, did you think I was going to go all cheese ball on you?)

Happy Mother's Day!
What do you want to remember?

ps- Voting ends tonight!

May 4, 2010


So my rejects series has come to an end, and I think we all learned a lot. My personal take away lesson: if I don't post something within 3 days, I need to delete it and move on. Well, maybe I'll give myself a month. OK, 6 months top. Oh, seriously, who am I kidding? I'll be doing this again next year, I'm sure. Like I said, it was mostly for me, so before we get back to our regular brand of sarcasm and witty euphemisms for laundry, I've put together a little something for you. Yes, this post is all about YOU, as opposed to all my other posts which are all about me. And when I say it's all about you, what I'm really saying is that it's all about me, but in a very indirect, roundabout way. You know what I mean? So, to say thanks for enduring my little blog cleansing, we here at Bardsleyland are proud to announce our first ever giveaway! Vote for your favorite reject and you'll get a chance to win some seriously amazing things. Things like, a hand-written copy of my family's Bean Burger recipe(!), which you will never actually want to make, and which could never be complete without a slightly used copy of this book: The Gallery Of Regrettable Food. It's a complete package.

But wait! That's not all! We've also got a tiny ziploc bag of brown yarn to give away! Only the best blogs are giving those away right now.

And if you thought that was all, you don't even know. We're also throwing in some home-made soap. Because not only do we here at Bardsleyland want our readers to practice good hygiene habits, we also believe that the best gifts are the ones that you never have to worry about throwing away because it disintegrates a little bit every time you use it.

And that's how much we appreciate you!
(We really do. And by we I'm talking about myself.)

In case you forgot, here's a list of the contenders:
Reject #1: I Don't Like to Flaunt, But Sometimes I am Just Brilliant
Reject #2: It's Time We Had a Little Talk
Reject #3: Would You Buy This House?
Reject #4: Love it!
Reject #5: Deep Stuff
Reject #6: Put it in Vinyl
Reject #7: My Blog Rules
Reject #8: Weekly Thank Yous
Reject #9: 4 Bus Stops a Day
Reject #10: Rant: File Under "Things That Drive Me Insane"

And guess what? This giveaway is not just open to current employees of Bardsleyland and their immediate family members. It's open to everyone, whether we know you and/or love you or not! Leave a comment with your vote by Sunday, May 9th. The winner will be chosen randomly and not just by whoever promises to make me a delicious chocolate cake. Vote for your favorite, vote for your least favorite, vote for your mom-- just make your voice heard.

And in case you just can't get enough of democracy theses days, it's also time for the TOADYS! Remember last year? This year the toys are even better, I mean worse. Go here to cast your vote for the worst toy of the year. Here's what I voted for:
It's the Little Tykes Young Explorer. A cubicle for 3 year olds! And for only $2,599!

Happy Voting!

Apr 30, 2010

Reject #10: Alpha and Omega

Title: Rant: File Under "Things That Drive Me Insane"
Date: November 12th, 2008

Recently I bought a sweater. Attached to the tag was a tiny ziploc bag of yarn, which just begs the question: where can I get these adorable ziploc bags?
But really, that yarn is getting me all unraveled. It's been floating around my house for weeks now, just driving me crazy (because obviously I don't have any real things driving me crazy or else I wouldn't be on a rant about a tiny bag of yarn). So I ask you, what, in the name of all that is organized and efficient, am I supposed to do with 3 inches of brown yarn? I suppose it's meant to be the sweater equivalent of the extra button, but really, what do they think I'm going to do if this sweater starts unraveling? Run over to my file cabinet and look in the "Yarn, mini ziploc bags of" file?" Which brings me to first dilemma: where to put it. Every time I see it, it seems to taunt me Just try to find a place to put me without ending up at Ikea buying a entire wall storage system with little tiny drawers, and baskets-- lots and lots of baskets. I dare you. Seriously, those are fighting words.
I know, just put it with all those extra buttons and get on with your life already, right? I've tried that a few times; I walk over to my sewing stuff, open up my box of buttons and start to toss it in with the masses of other tiny ziploc bags (seriously, can I buy those online?). You're NEVER going to use me. Crap, is the yarn taunting me again? You don't know that. I might, anythings possible, I retort, channeling my best 13-year-old-girl-attitude, and top it off with a dramatic eye roll. Liar! You don't even know how to knit. That stupid yarn is so smug. Fine, guess where you're going? I walk to the garbage. I stand there. A few awkward minutes pass. I just can't bring myself to throw it away. This probably has to do with growing up in California, where I was taught in school that throwing something away is akin to murder, smoking, and voting for a conservative. Damn. I walk away. The yarn is back on my desk.
I think I've got it. I'll just learn how to knit. I could easily justify keeping a little length of yarn around if I knew how to use it. Problem solved. Take that yarn-o. So I walk over to my master to-do list. I'll just pencil it in: learn to knit. Let's see, right after clean out the garage, mulch the garden, touch up the baseboards, remodel the master bathroom, replace the kitchen counters, make a chore chart, buy new clothes for the kids, save the world, and print out and organize all our pictures from the last 4 years. And that doesn't even include all the TV I need to watch. Sigh. I think the yarn is laughing at me.
This yarn thing keeps reminding me of my grandma, who we'll call Grams for privacy reasons. Grams lived through the Great Depression and could not throw ANYTHING away. We have an oft-told family story of my cousin taking donuts to share with Grams, only to come back a few months later to find that Grams had saved the remaining half of a donut in the freezer for their next visit. My grandparents lived in Nigeria for a while, and traveled all over the world. My memories of their house involve room after room of interesting, old, and exotic things stored away on shelves and in drawers, closets stuffed with African fabric, colorful jewelry and beads, and an entire room full of ancient food storage. Grams passed away 2 years ago, a little over 3 years after my grandpa died. Last Summer my mom and her siblings got together to divvy up their parent's possessions. My mom came back with a van full of treasured items, among them an email that I had sent Grams a few years ago which she had printed out and wrote on it, "From Donna, Joyce's daughter." I bet she had a file just for that email. She probably had a file for little ziploc bags of yarn too.

I think I've decided. I am going to save that little bag of yarn. In honor of grandma's generation that just could not waste anything. I'm going to put it in the diaper bag, because you just never know when you'll need some yarn, you know, MacGyver style (quick, I need some gum, an old battery, and about 3 inches of brown yarn to deactivate this bomb!). So next time you need some yarn in a tiny bag, I've got you covered. But if you come over and leave me with a half eaten donut, I'm probably going to throw it away... At least I think so. I'm pretty sure. About 72% sure.
Notes: This is my oldest reject post, and also the last in my series. This is the one I've been dreading. It's been in my post-list since 2008. I think it was the first post I ever attempted to write that wasn't about my kids, or anything that we did, or even about anything at all really. It started with the MacGyver bit, one day as I was staring at that bag while I was supposed to be doing something else. Originally it was not very good-- it felt like a bunch of jumbled up one-liners with a weird reference to my grandma thrown in there. I revised it a couple of times, convinced myself to delete it at least 32 times, but I never could. I just wanted to see it to it's fruition so badly. I'm sure you are all very embarrassed for me now. Don't worry, there was a good year in there that I didn't even think about it at all. But this whole month while I've been digging up these old posts, I knew this one was there and that I wanted to finish it and publish it. I don't know if it was really worth the time I spent on it today, but I have to say, after a little, OK a lot, of editing today, I think it might be my favorite reject. I knew it had it in there. I still have that bag of yarn. I'll probably never learn how to knit. And yes, it really does drive me crazy to have to throw things away. Even blog posts that I never finished.

Reject #9

Title: 4 Stops a Day
Date: March 10, 2009

I have 4 bus stops each day: 11:15, 12:40, 2:20, and 3:45. Don't get me wrong, it's fantastic-- they are directly in front of our house, and it saves me from loading kids in the car 4 times a day to get to and from school. But it also means that I have to feed Sam lunch at 11, Mia lunch at 12:30, Sam a snack at 2:30, and Mia and Sam (again) a snack at 4. Nate has his own random eating schedule that really isn't much of a schedule and never seems to coincide with when the rest of us are eating. I feel like I feed children ALL day long. And then there's the nap schedule. Nate takes 3 naps a day. Between his naps and the bus stops, it's almost impossible to leave the house except to get the mail. Which I guess is a good things because apparently whenever I do go out I get speeding tickets, and since Mark just got laid off this week, we need to avoid getting any more of those. And when Nate isn't napping, he wants to be held. Maybe it seems worse lately because he's been sick for the last few days, so it seems like all the time. He's almost crawling, and I'm not sure which is worse: a clinging baby, or a mobile baby in a house full of Polly Pocket accessories. Choose your poison I guess. I've got about 1 1/2 hours with both Sam and Mia alone each day (with Nate). When they're together all they do is fight, but when they're apart they get bored and do whatever it takes to get attention from me.

So the point is: I spend almost every day at home getting NOTHING done. It's a blast. Bored? Come on over. Trust me, we're not doing anything.

Notes: This is one reject I didn't edit or revise at all, even when I first wrote it. This is the original, uncut, 100% unfiltered first run. The writing is not spectacular; it's simply me spewing out how I felt about my life at home with 3 kids last year. I meant to add more to it, but (surprise) got interrupted and that was the end of that. When I got back to it a few days later, it seemed whiny, and even I can get self-conscious about that. Now looking back on it, I find it an amusing little snippet from a rather non-amusing era of my life. A year later, I still have 4 bus stops, though more spaced out. We can actually leave the house for more than 2 hours at a time. Nate is only napping once a day. Mark is no longer unemployed. So far, no speeding tickets this year. Mia and Sam, though, are still constantly fighting with each other or fighting for my attention. And I'm still trying to catch up from not getting anything done for an entire school year.

Apr 28, 2010

Reject #8

Title: Weekly Thank Yous
Date: January 22, 2010

I know there are really somber, desperate things going on in the world, but a snarky blogger can only held back for so long. There are some things that must be shared, whether or not LenoGate has run it's course.

To the elderly gentleman at the fabric store who was buying more brown fleece to add to his Snuggie because "the darn thing didn't come with a back!": Thank you for absolutely making my day. Add a hood and you can be Obi-Wan Kenobi for Halloween.

Thank you bumtrinket for being my new favorite word.

Is it bad to give your 19 month old a bottle of melted ice cream because you're out of milk and too lazy to go to the store? Thank you, parental ingenuity.

Here's a fun conversation, thanks to the public education system:
Mia: What are all those people doing?
Me: Protesting, because we're in a war.
Mia: We're in a war?
Me: Yes.
Mia: With Russia?
Me: No.
Mia: Were we ever in a war with Russia?
Me: Yes.
Mia: Oh yeah, and we won because of Martin Luther King Jr!

Notes: This one was just your typical random week in review that never got reviewed. From January 2010. I'm still not sure if it's worth reviewing, except that the old man at JoAnn's still makes me laugh.

Continuing On: Rejects #6 & 7

OK, so I had an unexpected blog hiatus for a few days, give or take a week. I spent most of of it picking lice nits out of Mia's hair-- hours and hours of nitpicking in the most literal sense. I now have an unwelcome understanding of the severe odiousness of that term. Also the term "mountains of laundry."

So let's continue. I hope you're not too tired of my rejects. It's been a fun little creative exercise for me. Most other people call it "finishing what you started," but those people are probably the types who actually make cookies instead of just eating all the dough. Boring.

To make up for my little absence, today's post is a 2 for 1. After this, I only have a few more, provided I don't get distracted by another public health epidemic. When I'm all finished, I just might make it worth your while, if you know what I mean. But I'm still trying to decide if I have that kind of blog.

Reject #6
Title: Put it in Vinyl
Date: June 2009

I hear that vinyl lettering is all the rage these days. You can even custom order your own quote/cliche/expletive to adorn your wall/mirror/baby's bum. I was browsing through an assortment of them at a craft store recently. They were mostly the kind of heart warming sentiments that elicit a sudden desire to frolic in a meadow with singing woodland creatures, and also to punch someone in the face. Since I don't normally spend time doing either of those things, I didn't get any. However, on the wall of a tiny little restaurant in Canada a few weeks ago, I saw THE quote. The one that is destined to become my vinyl mantra just as soon as I can figure out what font to put it in. And when I do, this is what will be above the mantle:

I can only please one person each day.
Today is not your day.
Tomorrow isn't looking good either.

And this is what I would put in the kitchen:
Make yourself a dang quesadilla!

What would your vinyl mantra be?

Notes: This one is from June of 2009. I believe it was originally part of a post titled "Other Reasons I Would Never Fit In In Utah." I was really down on the Beehive state back in 2009 for some reason. Eventually it morphed into this version, but I could never decide if it was funny or over-the-top bitter. Since then, I've read quite a few blog posts in a similar vein, which were much better, I thought, and I lost interest in finishing it. But, I still love that quote, so I might as well add mine to the mix of vinyl lettering satire. And for the record: I do have a quote on my wall (on a wood plaque, not in vinyl though) that says "Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much." You want to barf now don't you? (Hey, now that would be a great vinyl quote.)

Reject #7
Title: My Blog Rules
Date: September-ish 2009

  1. I never ever blog about the weather. This has been one of my rules since my 2nd post, and I'm pretty sure I haven't broken it since. If I have, refer to rule #2.
  2. I can change my rules at anytime. I know this is the most over used rule ever, but it really takes care of that pesky integrity problem.
  3. There are some things I do not share on my blog. One of those things is couponing. Yes, I coupon (rather, I dabble in coupons, really). But let's face it, nobody wants to see a picture of 25 boxes of Cap'n Crunch with a caption underneath that says, "For all of this? $2.47!!!"
  4. Lying is perfectly fine as long as it's funny. "My stories are 97% true," I once said. OK, no I didn't. David Sedaris said that, but I wish I did. It's a great quote.

Notes: This one started out in my blog notebook as a very rough outline, sometime last year. I ended up using the funnier parts in this post, and what's left is mostly serious. Serious meaning these are actually rules I kind of adhere to while blogging. I never posted it because a) I couldn't think of anymore rules, and it felt incomplete, and b) I couldn't figure out how to phrase it so that other bloggers wouldn't get defensive. And once I have to preface a post with a long "please don't take this personally" disclaimer, it just takes the fun out of it all. So, just to be clear, these are my rules only. If your blog has different rules, or no rules, I still read it. So you blog about the weather, so what? It's your blog, right? It would be especially appropriate for a weather blog, I might add. The point is, we all have different rules, spoken or unspoken, for blogging. If you have some, feel free to share.

Apr 16, 2010

Reject #5

Title: Deep Stuff
Date: February 1st, 2010

It's been a while since we've talked.

No, I mean really talked. About important, deep stuff.

Oh, no I didn't mean right now. I mean someday we should we should just get really deep, you know?

Did I tell you our dryer broke last week?

Thank you, you are so thoughtful. Yes, it was a pain. But you know what is really fun?

The laundry mat. Seriously, you should take your kids there.

Those carts they have-- they are a blast. I'm thinking about getting one.

Not really actually. Have you seen The Amytiville Horror?

Me neither, but I was reading about it in the laundry mat while my kids were running around with the carts. At least, it said it was the Amytiville Horror Story but when I got home and looked it up on Wikipedia, it was a completely different story. Still, it was creepy.

Well, I won't tell my husband you said that about Wikipedia. I think it was the magazine that got it all wrong. Get this, it was a Redbook from 1988.

Seriously, in mint condition. There was a whole pile of magazines from 1988 in the laundry mat. I don't know what was creepier, the freaky ghost story, or the 80's flashback. That thing was full of big hair and even bigger blazers. And Loni Anderson.

No, I'm pretty sure she's still alive. But the really scary thing is that women's magazines haven't changed at all. I was reading all the same articles in the check out line at Albertsons this morning. The only difference is back in 1988 the answer to the "how to dress for your body type" question involved high-waisted pants and shoulder pads.

Shoulder pads are coming back? Oh, please kill me now.

Oh. Really? I mean, um, no- yeah, you'd look great in shoulder pads.

No, don't return it-- I'm sure it's totally cute. Forget that. All I'm saying is, you would think after 22 years, women's journalism would have evolved a little. Have a little more substance you know?

It's a good thing we can talk about deep stuff.

We really should talk more often.

Notes: When I wrote this, it seemed like I hadn't been blogging much at the time. So it started with the "It's been a while" line, and it took on a life of its own from there. It's all true; I did spend a morning at the laundry mat with the kids, reading the so-called true story about a haunted house in a 1988 Redbook. And it did say it was the Amytiville story, but it really wasn't. And those laundry carts really are a blast. And women's journalism drives me crazy. But as far as not publishing this post, here's what happened: I got hung up on the shoulder pad thing. I must have reworked that line 50 times, and eventually it just killed it. Death by regrettable 80's fashion trends, I guess. But I think it illustrates something interesting about blogging, at least blogging for me. Reworking something over and over is not always a good thing. By the 73rd time I'd looked at it, I'd long since begun questioning it. Is anyone even going to get this? Or worse, are they going to get it and think, "WOW, that was lame." Or, "I wish this lady would just go back to posting pictures of her kids that I'm stalking." Could my 4 year old write better stuff than this? OK, well yes, that's entirely possible. But what's the worst that could happen? It is really lame and I only get one comment and it's just a bunch of links to buy shoes online? I could live with that. It's happened before. All I'm saying is, that publish button can be a scary thing sometimes.

Apr 14, 2010

Reject #4

Title: Love it!
Date: January 3, 2010

As I was perusing through the newspaper ads yesterday, this green leather chair from Cost Plus practically jumped out of the page, scooped me up, and cradled me in cozy imaginative repose for a full 4-5 minutes until I finally came to and blurted out, "I love this chair so much I can hardly stand it!" Everyone ignored me, except Mia, who came over and looked at it quizzically. "Hmmmmm," she said, and picked up a pen and did this:
"There," she said, and then she walked away. And that was that.

Notes: A short one for you today. I really had every intention of posting this amusing little exchange, until I couldn't figure out how to use our scanner with our new computer. That is to say, I tried to figure it out for about 3 minutes until someone started screaming, "Mom! Sam's copying me!" And someone else said, "Honey, where are my car keys?" And I said, "did you look on the key hook?" And they said, "no-- oh, there they are, right on the key hook." Anyway, I still haven't figured out that scanner, but I did finally just take a picture of it. I also wanted to include a Rite-Aid ad that the kids had gotten to at Christmas time and circled all the things they wanted for Christmas. I lost the ad, which is really unfortunate because there were some good ones. The only ones I can remember now: a Budweiser 12 pack, batteries, and a smokeless ashtray. It still makes me laugh.
Addendum to the notes: D'oh! That 3rd sentance should read, ..."until someone started screaming, "Mom!" Sam's copying me!" And someone else said, "Mom! Sam's copying me!..." That would have been much funnier. Oh well. So glad I have Constant Sleep Deprivation as my scapegoat. Also, I should add that I never got that chair, though I still love it. I mean, love it!

Reject #3

Title: Would You Buy This House?
Date: October 16th, 2009

Actually, it's already sold. Sorry, didn't mean to rip your heart out, in case you happen to love nondescript early 1970's homes that have been abused by large families and come with exorbitant California price-tags. Anyone? What, no takers? (furrowed brow) Surprising.

This is the house I grew up in. What? You didn't grow up in a ghetto, eating shoe leather, and working in illegal child-labor factories to support yourself and your orphaned siblings? (This is you talking, in case you didn't know). Nope, suburban California, eating a variety of casseroles, no orphans around that I remember, though I only got paid $.25 to take out the garbage so we may have a case for illegal child-labor. Hmmm, I would have pegged you as someone with a much harsher childhood. (You again). Surprising, I know.

Yes, I have one of those stories that goes like this: after being born, my parents brought me home from the hospital to the house I lived in until I left for college. Actually that's not true, they brought me home to a different house, and then 5 months later we moved to this house, and then comes the college part. Except there was also a lot of stuff in between too. And since then as well.

But let's skip all that up to a few weeks ago when I went to California to help my parents get their house ready to sell after living in it for 32 years. The house is almost unrecognizable from when we were growing up, as it has gone through so many transformations over the years. It's like the Michael Jackson of houses. We tired so hard over the years to remove the 1970's from that house, and the result was kind of impressive, but only if you knew what it looked like before. As I was brushing my teeth one night, it suddenly seemed a travesty to me that the next people to live in that house would never know that the upstairs bathroom once had dark green woven-grass wall paper, gold-speckled linoleum flooring, and the most hideous caulk job around the bright yellow bathtub. Now it just looks like this:

Which they'll probably think is bad enough. But at least we fixed the broken lock on the door and they won't have to pull open the first drawer as a makeshift blockade. We did not however, fix the drain in the tub, which is still bright yellow.

You would never know that before this kitchen was expanded and remodeled it was a dark cave of brown cabinets, mustard yellow flecked counters, and orange walls. Even the ceiling was orange, and strangely it took until I was 13 to ever notice it. We had a loud hand bell and it was someone's job to ring it every night at dinner time. Like Pavlov's dog, we all became immediately and ferociously hungry no matter how full we might have felt just moments before. Thousands and thousands of meals for a family of 9 were prepared in here, including Bean Burgers (the regrettable family specialty), Grandma's famous rolls, all assortments of Mormon casseroles, crepes on Sunday night, and of course, homemade oatmeal for breakfast almost every week day morning. Being told to eat our oatmeal because it would "stick to your ribs" conjured up disturbing mental images that still haunt me today. When we complained the reply was, "You're lucky it's not germade." I didn't know what germade was, but if it was worse than oatmeal, I didn't want to find out. Eventually I learned to spoon it into my OJ and dump it down the sink when mom wasn't looking.

And what about the family room? In pure unadulterated 70's style, that wall originally had a red brick facade to go with the dark wood paneling on the opposite wall and the ugliest red, green, and orange astro turf carpet that can only be described as "patterned vomit." This is where we would watch VHS recordings of MTV videos from 1985 over and over again, and dance to Thriller while jumping on the little trampoline. And although the floors look clean now, there was about a 10 year period where at any given moment, someone could yell out "Touch the Floor and You're Barf, staring now!" and we would all immediately jump onto the nearest object to avoid directly touching the floor. You could easily make it from one end of the family room, up the stairs, and into the farthest bedroom with never a shortage of toys, books, papers, clothes, the occasional plate, and other miscellany to step on to avoid becoming "barf." We rarely had to use the furniture.

No one will be be able to tell about all the times we slid down these stairs in sleeping bags, eventually ruining the original puke green carpet and probably the sleeping bags too. Later, my brother Arnold would put our pet hamsters in lunch boxes and roll them down the stairs to their deaths. Or about how we figured out exactly how sneak down the stairs to avoid any creaks, and which step to sit on (3rd from the bottom) to just barely see the TV in the family room, where mom and dad were watching Dallas and thought we were asleep. By the way, that banister is brand new; we had to live with a wrought iron railing with most of the black finish chipped off. It's funny to me to see a picture of the stairs completely bare; I have no memories of that ever happening.

Imagine this room with floor-to-ceiling marbled mirrors 0n both sides of the fireplace. We only lit a fire in the fireplace once a year, on Christmas Eve. Even the year that Danny and I threw the unlit duraflame log into the Christmas tree and got sent to our rooms, effectively ruining Christmas that year. Hopefully no one will ever know how, in what can be called the "Extreme White Trash Years," the beloved family dog went senile, and began using one corner of the room as a bathroom, and how eventually the smell became so bad that no one would go in there and it became a storage room for broken furniture and old exercise equipment-- essentially an indoor garage. True story. But before all that, this was the room where we held Family Home Evening (most) every Monday night, the only family argument we had that began and ended with a prayer, as we always said. My dad kept detailed minutes of announcements and family business from those meetings, and if you read those minutes you could see for yourself that my brother John and I loved to announce really important things such as, "we have a brown couch!' and, "we're having Family Home Evening!" Every time we would raise our hands, my dad would ask, "do you have a real announcement this time?" We would lie through our teeth every time and he never learned. Another thing he never learned was that when he made a special request to sing I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home, we always changed the words to I'm so mad when Daddy comes home. To this day, I cannot sing that song without thinking of our version.

I don't have a picture of my old bedroom, the only one that was downstairs and therefore the best room in the house for sneaking out. And that's all I have to say about that at this time. It eventually became a pretty decent guest room, I'm sure for the same reason. Someone will probably use it for a home office, and never know that it was once a playroom where we played hours and hours of Q*bert and Burgertime on the Atari. When it became my room, I decided to paint it by myself, mostly to cover up the spot where my little sister Katy wrote her name in large magic markered letters. I chose a green, somewhere between mint and aquamarine, and, inexplicably, only painted 3 walls. For a long time, it was the only room in the house that wasn't painted white, except for the master bedroom which was the color of Marigold butter.

And this spot? I wish I could make a plaque to put on the wall by the door that would read, "Here stood an Alhambra water cooler, complete with a stack of little 3 ounce dixie cups and a bumper sticker on the side that said Get a Real Job, Be a Housewife." And if you thought that hutch ever actually held china, or crystal, you would be sadly mistaken. It was the home to piles and piles of paperwork, office supplies, maps, cook books, and was usually covered in post-its, snapshots, and fliers. But was one hutch enough? Oh, no it was not.

So they had this hutch built in, also to hold paperwork, and piles and piles of stuff. And those piles of stuff propagated and spread to the table and chairs. If it was your job to set the table each night, first you had to remove the piles of things from my mom's spot at the table, and relocate them on top of the piles of other things on the hutch, hoping that they wouldn't reproduce while we were eating. Can you just picture us all sitting there eating meals together? Well, not at that table anyway. It's way too nice. And did you imagine us supping pleasantly together, quietly and calmly discussing current events with no shortage of "please and thank you"? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Notes: I was really excited about this post when I first started it, and somewhere around paragraph 20 or so I started to loose steam. It just got really LONG. To be honest, I never published it because I got bored. By my own childhood. It was a real struggle today to finish it so it didn't feel too truncated. Knowing that I'll never go back to that house is a weird thing, and writing about it is even weirder still. Who knows why? Therapist Aimee? Anyway, I wish I had a prize for you if you made it this far, but let's face it, I'm probably the only one here at this point. Well maybe my parents too. Mom? Dad? Hope you're loving your new house.

Apr 13, 2010

Reject #2

Title: It's Time We Had a Little Talk
Date: Sept. 25th, 2009

I was hoping it wouldn't come down to this. This is a tad awkward, but it's got to be said. Enough with ridiculous political forwarded emails. It's called people. Use it. It's not that hard. Don't like Snopes? How about, or, or There are people who get paid to keep you from looking like an idiot. It's a wonderful advantage of living in the Information Age really. So, please, no more emails about toilet spiders. That photo of Obama saluting the flag with his left hand? PHOTOSHOP. And do I even have to say it? He's not a muslim. Please. And no, Diamond Rio's Jesus Loves America song was not blacklisted because of it's political incorrectness. It's common knowledge that political incorrectness has never kept a country song from being produced, and they are unfortunately played on public radio all the time. Did you ever think that maybe that song never became popular because it isn't very good? I mean did you listen to it? And seriously, Diamond Rio? Did you just waste my time with an email about Diamond Rio? Oh, no you didn't.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but if you send me anything without verifying the facts first, so help me I will make a voodoo doll with your name on it and stab your eye repeatedly and then run you over with my van.

Are you still not sure? Let me help you out.

Are you a wacky republican? Stop sending me stuff.

Do you think that sending one email to your entire address book is in good judgement? Take me off your list.

It says it's been verified on It hasn't.

Do it yourself, or do us all a favor and DELETE it.

And for the love, use bcc people!

And just to clarify: funny emails are always welcome. Make me laugh, not want to kill you. And to further clarify, pictures of cats dressed in human clothes and reading the newspaper while smoking cigars fall in the latter category.

So we're good right? Wonderful. Hopefully we'll never have to have this talk again.

Now, be sure to read this over and over, because Bill Gates himself is tracking your every move on the Internet, and will personally pay you $500 every time you read this post. (It's true, he can totally do that.) Also, if you don't' forward this link to everyone you know before you are done reading this post, then Jesus will know that you don't really love him and Glen Beck will cry because you hate America. And you will become impregnated with Satan's spawn, and everyone you know will die. Oops, too late.

Notes: OK, then. This was a bit snarky, even for me. I used to get bombarded with emails from some sweet lady at church, bless her email-forwarding heart. And the last straw was some ridiculous email about that Diamond Rio song. It's not even worth going into, and I don't know why it enraged me so much. But this post was born as a result. The reasons I never posted it should be fairly obvious. I know far too many republicans, and only a few of them are really wacky, but I figured it would offend them all. So don't hate me OK whackjobs? :) For the record, I know a few wacky liberals too, just none of them forward me emails. But my biggest fear in posting this was that everyone would purposefully start forwarding me the most inflammatory emails they could find, just to be funny. Why did I even mention that? Please don't. But do tell me about the worst forwarded email you've ever received, even from me, because I'm sure even I sent them way back in the day. I think the toilet spider one was the first one I ever got, over 10 years ago. That's why I like that reference. I also like the Glen Beck comment, but other than that, meh-- It never really came together how I wanted it to. I probably shouldn't post it, but here I go: my ode to unsubstantiated email forwarders.

Apr 12, 2010

Anniversary Series: The Rejects

My little blog had an anniversary last week. 2 years! It's a pretty big deal. In fact, you know Joe Biden's recent f-bomb slip? Well, he wasn't talking about the Health Care Bill. And in the glorious blogging tradition of blogging about your own blog, I set out to do a Best Of kind of post, but discovered in my list of posts a treasure trove of forgotten and discarded unpublished posts. Eureka! What could be better for celebrating 2 years of mediocre and inconsistent blogging, bad photography, and pathetic blog designs (not a hint Courtney, just a statement of fact) than a collection of posts that were either so bad and/or boring I didn't even bother to publish them? LOVE blogging traditions! So every day I'll dig up one of the dejected posts and give a little explanation, synopsis, or apology. I might try to finish them, or just leave them as is-- now is that CRAZY or what?! I know, I know, you can't wait.

So let's get started.

Reject #1

Title: I Don't Like to Flaunt, but Sometimes I am Just Brilliant.

Like the other day when I thought that it would be a fantastic idea to take my kids to the Seattle Art Museum by myself, in the middle of dinner time. Because nobody else would be there right after work on Free Thursday right? And also because young kids LOVE being dragged around art museums right? Especially ones where you can't touch anything, and they have security guards everywhere, child-hating security guards to be specific, just waiting for some sinister 4 year old to reach out and contaminate something. And there's nothing that kids love more than walking (not running) around silently, looking at things that don't make any sense to them, right?

And afterward, (my brilliant plans continued) wouldn't it be fun to go to some funky burger joint that was on Oprah's list of "20 burgers you must eat or you'll die", or something like that. Because no one else would be at that sort of place wanting to eat Oprah's famous hamburgers right? I mean, hardly anyone even watches her show. And we all know how much kids love waiting for almost 30 minutes in a really crowded, small space for the kind of food they could get in .3 seconds at a certain other hamburger establishment that also has indoor playgrounds and cheap licensed-character toys? I was sure a disheveled mom and a gaggle of untidy kids would blend right in with the throngs of Seattle hipsters with their skinny jeans and disturbingly fringed hair. No one would even notice me there with three young children. Three cranky, hungry, whiny children. Right? The whole outing was a guaranteed recipe for shiny, happy, scrapbook-worthy photo-op memories, I was sure.


Yes, another successful family adventure. Most parents find it sufficient to simply look through a book about art with their children, or do a simple craft with them. Me? I don't stop until my kids are emotionally scarred and I've managed in just a few short hours to stunt their cultural development, and ensure that they will forever associate art with intense hunger pains and extreme boredom. But I'll make sure when I put the digitally altered pictures of them smiling at the museum in their scrapbooks, the caption will read:

Museum Day with Mom! We *heart* art! So much FUN!!

Notes: This was from February, and to be honest, I don't know why I didn't post this. I must have meant to add more to it, and by the time I got back to it I couldn't remember what it was. I didn't edit much, but I did add my favorite line: we *heart* art! And yes, it really was a miserable trip to the museum. Pretty much from the moment we walked in the door, my children concluded very loudly that I must have been smoking crack to take them to a such a boring place, and any attempt on my part to point out something interesting (Look kids! That looks neat! Oh wait, no-- that's just a garbage can) was met with blood curdling screams of "you're not my mommy!" By the time we got to the burger joint (Red Mill Burgers if you're local), it was after 7 and everyone was well beyond starving. I think the other patrons must have thought my kids were all having simultaneous seizures. Maybe they were. I was trying to pretend I didn't know who they belonged to. For the record though, there were some very nice people sitting next to us who kept drooling over Nate. Lucky for me that kid has some sort of endorphin-producing effect on most people: they just get kind of happy and loopy around him. He's better than dope that way. Anyway, it was in the middle of Red Mill, waiting for our (over-hyped) food with crazed children climbing all over me that the line about emotional scars and stunted cultural development came to my mind. I think it confirms for me that my most creative bursts come in the middle of complete chaos. Also that I should not trust Oprah when it comes to hamburgers.

See, isn't this fun?

Mar 16, 2010

Wherein We Went Crazy and Ended Up in Mexico for 5 Days, Part 2

(Have you ever had every intention of finishing Part 2 of a blog post, and then somehow 2 weeks go by and you still haven't gotten around to it? No? Funny how my resolution to write for 10 minutes each day has not translated into more frequent blog posts, or actually writing for 10 minutes a day for that matter. And I thought that was going to be one of my more realistic goals this year. Moving out of the country might prove to be easier, it turns out.)

So where were we? Oh, right, on a plane to Mexico. Would you like the detailed travelogue, or the witty, bullet-point synopsis version? Witty synopsis, really? You don't want to hear every minute detail of each meal we ate, a list of everything we took on the plane, pictures of our coordinated outfits, and lengthy, poetic descriptions of the Mexican scenery? Really? OK, have it your way. Synopsis it is.

  • A funny thing about Mexico is that sometimes it isn't hot, or sunny.
  • OK, only very occasionally is it not hot or sunny.
  • I think every 120 or so years, is what someone told us.
  • Also during the exact week that we took our trip there.
  • I'd like to know what we did to offend the sun gods, and what child they want us to sacrifice in order to appease them.
  • Lucky for us, 70 degrees and overcast is considered quite pleasant. (Take that sun gods.)
  • For the Mexicans, however, it's considered an extreme winter weather event which necessitates winter parkas and thermal underwear.
  • We didn't bring our jackets, or even long sleeved-shirts.
  • We were expecting to be sitting by the pool, sipping exotic smoothies.
  • Instead we were sitting by the fire pit at the hotel, drinking hot cocoa.
  • Did I mention the hotel? Oh my.
  • Wait, did I say hotel? I meant luxury hacienda.
  • When I say it was FANTASTIC, that means that we could never have afforded to stay there had we not used my parent's time share points.
  • Which is also why Mark was called Mr. Stovall all week.
  • Though if it weren't for Mark's Spanish skills combined with some serious luck, we might still be trying to find that hacienda today.
  • That is to say, we got ridiculously lost.
  • I mean the middle of the night, remote Mexican jungle, no cell phone coverage, bad directions, wrong address, vague maps, crazy roads, seriously had to pee, cranky and tired, arguing married couple kind of lost.
  • I would say Getting and Being Lost was the theme of the trip.
  • Which might have had something to do with a street grid system that looked like someone tangled all the streets up in knots and threw them back on the ground.
  • And because of a street numbering system that makes sense only if you have a PhD in completely random street numbering systems.
  • And it didn't help that the rules of the road seemed to be only that there were no rules.
  • Also because we never thought to buy a decent map.
  • Another theme of the trip was having meltdowns to rival anything you've seen on The Amazing Race.
  • OK, I had one crazy, hysterical, sleep-deprivation induced meltdown.
  • I learned it from watching my kids.
  • Yes, we were lost.
  • But you know what they say, whatever the hysterical American tourist does in the middle of the street in Mexico, stays in Mexico.
  • Or on Mexican YouTube.
  • I can't remember what the people across the street who were holding a video camera and laughing their heads off said.
  • But in the middle of all that getting lost, trying not to die in our tiny rental car, screaming at my husband in the middle of the street, and constantly making fools of ourselves at the fanciest hacienda we've ever stayed at, we also became completely enamored with the Yucatecan culture and way of life.
  • Do you know how many unbelievably nice people helped us when we were lost?
  • No less than 50.
  • Do you love fresh Mexican food?
  • You should try it with a Mayan flair.
  • You've seen all those pictures of ancient Mayan ruins in National Geographic?
  • They are even more amazing in person.
  • You know that bright purple house three doors down from you that makes you want to gag?
  • In Mexico, that exact same shade is "vibrant" and "cheerful."
  • And wouldn't you love to live in a place where hammocks are considered a piece of furniture and a must-have in every room of your house?
  • We would.
  • Really.
  • I can see how the adjustment could be hard; it seems impossible to get there; it's not a perfect place.
  • But ever since we got home, all we can think about is how we can't wait to get back.
  • One more funny thing about Mexico, is that it makes you wish you were a semi-professional photographer.
  • When in actuality you have no photography skills whatsoever, and have to hide that by making all your pictures as tiny as possible and arranging them in a collage, so as to hide your lack of talent.
  • Ta-da!
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Mar 3, 2010

Wherein We Went Crazy and Ended Up in Mexico for 5 Days, Part 1

Sometimes you just get silly. (Some people might call it "having a mid-life crisis", but I see no need to use proper names here.) You see, a funny thing happened when we went to the beach last Summer: we got super tan, and started calling each other "babe." No really, eww, we would never not be tan, right babe? Actually, we had an epiphany of sorts and set a goal to move out of the country in 1 year.

Let me back up. At some point, early in our marriage, we started started talking about wanting to live abroad for a while. For the life of me, I can't figure out why we didn't just pack up and go then. I guess we thought that being responsible adults was the right thing to do. In fact, we were looking into passports and visas and teaching English and such, and then along came Mia and going back to school and then getting a job and buying a house and having 2 more kids and here we are. Or rather, there we were on the beach on the Olympic Peninsula, 30-something parents of 3, with a mortgage, a mini-van, and a Costco membership up for renewal, and everything was just peachy. There was another family playing on the beach and somehow we got to talking with them. It turns out they were living the exact life we had always envisioned for ourselves, or at least a very close version of it. They moved to a different country every few years, working on projects for the US government. We mentioned that we had always wanted to live abroad. Do it, they said without hesitating. Even with kids? Absolutely.

This is where the epiphany comes in. As we drove home, we talked more about it, and decided we were tired of just talking about it. Why not just say we're going to do it, and then make it happen? It was time for less talking, and more doing. I think we heard someone say that in a movie once, and it worked for them. And since movies always mimic real life, it seemed perfectly logical and sane to think it would also work for us. Not crazy at all right?

So we came home and threw ourselves into this crazy dream during the 15 minutes or so since then that real life hasn't gotten in the way.

There's just been a few teeny snags.
1. We don't exactly have international opportunities jumping in our laps. It would be nice if we had degrees in International Finance, or Living Abroad, or something. But we don't; we have extremely practical degrees in Information Science and, um, Performing Arts. And the chance that Mark's company will move him to one of their international offices is pretty slim. We looked on the government's job listing site, and tried to apply to a few positions, but got caught up in the evil vortex otherwise known as the US government's web-application process, which apparently has a motto of "We want YOU to apply for Government jobs, (but not actually be able to get one because our website is so messed up)." The really frustrating, I mean, amusing thing is, Mark designs websites. Specifically, he designs websites for optimal user experience. So if anyone from the government is reading this blog as part of the Patriot Act, you could really use my husband to redesign the US Government job site, and it would be nice if you could move our family to, say, Barcelona, to do that. Not that we don't love the good ol' USA. Go freedom!
2. We met with our Mortgage lady and got bad news. BAD NEWS. Darn housing slump.

So, enter the Mexico Plan: wherein we find a cheap, safe place to live and just move there, live off Savings for a while and hope we find some means of supporting ourselves, and pray like mad that the housing market picks up just when we want to sell our house. Just the sort of thing that any other perfectly sane, responsible couple with 3 kids to take care of would do right? Years ago, Mark took a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula (think Cancun), and remembered being really impressed with a city there called Merida, which is the capitol of the state of Yucatan. So we turned to our dear friend, The Internets, and started looking into it. Turns out, it's very safe, cheap, and there are already lots of ex-pats living there, who may or may not be mentally ill. Yay!

Remember the less talking, more doing thing? Well, it took some convincing of yours truly, but that is essentially the reason that we bought plane tickets, dropped the kids off at my parent's, and ended up on a plane to Mexico, headed to Merida.

Really. We got back just under 2 weeks ago. At this point you are thinking, she wasn't kidding about being insane. Well, maybe it's from being a little over obsessed with The Amazing Race, or from too much nitrous oxide last time I went to the Dentist. Or maybe it's just Holy Crap, we're in our 30's and always did what we thought we were supposed to do, instead of living out our dreams, and now our dreams are being suffocated by American suburbia. Or something like that. But there you have it; this is what we're trying to do. It's a little weird admitting your completely unreachable dream to everyone you know and all of cyberspace. I'm imagining conversations 10 years from now: "Remember when you went to this random city in Mexico because you thought you were going to move there? Yeah, that's a little embarrassing huh?"

Regardless, consider this our Message to the Universe.

Dear Universe,
We really, really, really want to move. Outside of the United States. Preferably somewhere that doesn't have bird-eating tarantulas. Is that too much to ask? Thanks, Uni, you're the best. Really.

Next up, Part 2: Wherein we go to Mexico.