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.