Monday, November 5, 2012

Tape your ID to your head. Please. Just do it.

Seriously, America. Grow up and be responsible.

Tomorrow is Election Day. But apparently that is just a suggestion.

Because a bunch of us are getting a free pass to take our sweet time to get our vote counted.

Here's what I read in a recent article about waiting for election results:
"Virginia typically has been fairly fast at counting ballots. But there's a new voter ID law in the state that could complicate things this year. Voters who don't bring identification to the polls still can have their ballots counted if they produce ID by Friday. If the race in Virginia is super tight, it could come down to those provisional ballots. On Election Night, no one will even know how many of them are out there."

To that I say, "WHAT?!?!"

Let me get this straight. So Virginia-ites can go trotting to the polls, vote, and then slap their heads as they say, "Oh! I forgot my ID! I'm sure I can get it to you by Friday. That's good, right?"

Last time I checked, when a person wants to leave the country they have to have a passport. The DAY they leave.

There is no, "Oh, you forgot your passport? Just be a dear and get it to us sometime when you get back, 'kay?"

Nope. Guess what? No passport? No leave-y the country.

But for an event that people have anticipated for FOUR YEARS and been reminded of CONSTANTLY for months through television ads, direct mail and yard signs galore...nope, that could possibly still not ring a bell that it is election day and they need to remember their ID.

You gotta be kidding me.

Now maybe the race in Virginia will be a landslide and those amnesia-stricken voters won't matter anyway, but I still don't think they should be allowed to have three extra days to show ID.

You have to be an adult to vote.

So if you're not adult enough to remember the most basic thing possible when you head to the polls, then someone should pull your "adult" status. Go back to Kindergarten and learn that "Everything I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten" list. I'm pretty sure, "Know your name and be able to prove it" is on that list somewhere.

I already suspect this election will come down to a handful of votes and there will probably be recount after recount to slow down the actual declaration of a winner, but it really shouldn't be because the American people are forgetful.

So, do me a favor, Virginia-onians. Go pick out your clothes for tomorrow and put your ID in the pocket. Right now. Go do it. Because I don't want to be waiting for results on Friday evening because you just didn't get around to showing that ID on time.

It's nearly as ridiculous as hanging chads. And nobody wants to go there.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Alien at My Gym

One thing I love about the time of day I go to my gym is that it is primarily full of other stay-at-home moms or dads, and a few sprinklings of the senior citizen sort. You don't generally see the women scantily clad with flawless make up and hair due to emptying a can of hair spray prior to stepping onto a stairmaster, or the guys who survey the room for said hair-sprayed woman.

Honestly, when someone actually walks in that doesn't look like they had to peel their preschooler off their leg or is following doctor's orders to build some bone mass to ward off osteoporosis, they stick out like a sore thumb.

That's why I have a real issue with a certain someone now invading my work out time.

I don't know where she came from. I don't know if she ever eats (pretty sure she doesn't). And if I'm being brutally honest, I wouldn't mind knowing the name of her surgeon.

Frankly, her body is flawless. Abs of steel. Cut arms. Firm derriere. Thin, toned legs. And of course, the, um, well, you know.

Now I don't have any real issue with her looking that good other than the fact that I'm just incredibly jealous, but naturally I'm telling myself she likely has not given birth so we're not on even playing ground anyway.

My real issue is that she shows up out of no where.

Now had she been coming to the gym for years and started out as a pudgy gal and worked her tail off to get in the kind of shape she's in, I would be cheering her on and obviously inspired.

But no.

She just shows up one day this summer and looks amazing.

I NEED some before and after pictures, sweetie.

No one should just appear out of thin air looking like that. We want to see the blood, sweat and tears it took to get that way.

Otherwise it just appears completely unattainable. Like she was plopped down to earth just to taunt the rest of us with our jiggly tummies and cellulite-dotted thighs.

I meet women at the gym all the time that are working really hard to stay in shape, have more energy to keep up with their kids, and hopefully look at least "pretty good" in that new top they just bought.

If you're going to crash our workout party looking like a spandex model, have the common courtesy to give a little back story. Tell us you used to weigh more than your car, but then you hit the gym and watched the fat disappear.

Something to give us hope.

Something to make us believe that maybe, just maybe, we could at least get close to what you have attained because you're really not that different from us.

Right now I have no reason to believe you are anything more than an alien - sent here to torment us.

Have some mercy and call the mother ship. But do leave the name of that surgeon before you go...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

McDonald's Day Spa

I've been suckered.

Suckered into empty calories, weight gain and not even any fun doing it.

Yesterday my children had their regular dental checkup. Since I have to tell them at least six times to brush their teeth before they actually do it every morning and night, I am always dumbfounded elated when they actually slide off the dentist chair with a "no cavities" report.

This appointment was no exception. Only thing is I forgot that in the past when they got a clean bill of health, I rewarded them (truly it is to celebrate my own ability to escape a brush with financial death via outlandish dental rates for fillings).

I was at a loss as to what the reward should be - but my daughter rattled off things I'd done for them in the past and I had little to no recollection of these fine rewards. But they probably happened. There's only so much available space in my brain for memory nowadays, so some information doesn't make the cut.

Since it was Wednesday, the obvious choice was "Waffle Cone Wednesday" at TCBY. Okay, so we waffle cone it.

Then upon returning home I discover there is a YMCA Family Picnic in the evening - complete with hotdogs, drinks, bouncy playsets, games and prizes.

I tell my kids about it and my son says, "Oh! That could have been our reward!"


Really wish I had reviewed my calendar earlier.

Then after seeing the forecast for today, I was trying to rack my brain for activities we could do that would not involve having to be outdoors in 105 degree heat, but also avoid the fighting and screaming that naturally occurs between my children when they must stay home and (heaven-forbid) share space.

When a friend made mention of going to McDonald's playland this afternoon, I thought that was genius. An indoor playground seemed perfect.

Of course you don't get in without buying something first, so I caved to ice cream cones.

Only to open the door of the play area and gasp.

Guess what? McDonald's play area is NOT climate-controlled.

That's right. McDonald's now offers a sauna experience.

Seriously thought I may pass out.

All I could think of was how I'd been SUCKERED again.

There I am: ice cream running down my hands, shoes sticking to the floor, and aghast at the temperature in that room.

So we wolfed down our ice cream milk and the kids started to play.

Within five minutes my oldest son looked like he just came from running 40 minutes on the treadmill. Sweat drenched his shirt and hair.


We didn't stay long for two reasons:

1) I left an air conditioned home for this? Foolishness.
2) My children were more interested in watching the large television screen than playing.

Guess what? We have a TV at home, too. And it's not in a sauna.

We pile back into the van and head home.

So while my kids watch television, I mope at the annoyance of ingesting high-calorie treats TWO DAYS IN A ROW all in the name of summer.

I know, I know - you're thinking, "Geez, Max. No one was holding a gun to your head to order yourself those treats."

I understand that. I take full responsibility - well, almost - for my gluttony.

I really need to work on that.

Meanwhile, I'll go back to my policy of avoiding McDonald's at all costs, and scheduling dentist appointments on days when we're doing something fun anyway.

And maybe my waistline will find its way back to where it belongs.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Job Satisfaction

I just returned from a week-long trip to Orlando, Florida. While the trip was a welcomed retreat from the daily grind, it also made me appreciate the roles I play as mother and writer.

Because there are a lot of rotten jobs out there.

It could be argued that I am simply not wired to be employed by the service industry, but here is a list of a few jobs I witnessed this week that I am incredibly grateful never made it on my resume:

1. The security guard on the airport tram. While the work is probably incredibly easy and was probably even kind of fun the first 30 times the tram scooted along the track, by the end of the day I would be so sick and tired of going back and forth on a little train car that I would very likely come home and burn my copy of "The Little Engine That Could."

2. The golf-cart driver at the hotel. In the same vein as #1, this job would be excruciatingly monotonous. He or she drives a golf car back and forth between the hotel and the parking garage. Tips are probably minimal and the urge to for once take a new route - maybe barreling through the picturesque bushes in front of the hotel - would probably overcome me. I'd be fired so fast.

3. A concierge. I think the boredom alone would kill me. As I walked by and saw the woman behind the counter leaning against the wall, twirling her hair with her head cocked to the side, her nonverbals screamed, "I am so bored I may crawl onto this counter and fall asleep." Any job that leaves me staring at the clock waiting for my shift to end does not appeal to me in the least.

4. Vendor at a major league baseball game. I commend the ones who at least try to make it fun and develop a little whistle or chant to sell their goods, but at the same time they have to haul this heavy tub packed with ice and glass bottles up and down, up and down, up and down, collecting crumpled, dirty bills from a variety of - shall we say 'colorful' - customers while annoying everyone else with their loud shouts of "BEER HERE!" My back ached just watching them traipse all over those stadium stairs. If I had that job, I'd pray for a line drive to strike me in the head and knock me out of my misery.

5. Security guy at a major league baseball game. If that isn't the dopiest-looking job I've ever witnessed. Sure, I suppose it gets interesting if anyone starts a scuffle or attempts to run onto the field. But there was nothing of the sort happening and so the extent of their job was to sit on the edges during game play and at the change of innings, walk out onto the field to stand boldly as if they were just waiting to take someone out. Personally, I thought they looked silly walking out the field. I didn't get the point of that. It almost appeared as if they wanted recognition for being there at all. Just stay by the wall, dudes. We know you're there.

6. The guy who picks up garbage off the beach. To be honest, I am a little envious of his handy-dandy pick-up tool. I wouldn't mind one of those myself. And there's something to be said for having a job on the beach, but since beach go-ers are apparently synonymous with litterbugs, the job is intense. The beach is a mess. That's right, beach bums: you ARE bums for trashing the place. Find a trash can for crying out loud. I felt particularly sorry for the guy since the night before there must have been a fireworks party so he had a considerable amount of additional debris to pick up. That would make for a long, hot day.

7. Virtually any restaurant server in a tourist trap like Orlando, Florida. That's customers from around the world - speaking every language known to man - plopping down in your section and you're hoping against hope that you don't interpret something wrong and mess up the order beyond repair. And contrary to what one would think, vacationers are not always relaxed and easy-going. Nope. Not the job for me.

8. The cabana staff. In theory, this sounds great. Poolside. Probably good tips. Relatively simple - just deliver foods, drinks and towels, right? But when the heat index is 102 and you're wearing a thick polo shirt and khakis, it loses its appeal quickly. How they resist the urge to go dive in the sparkling pool waters is beyond me. I don't know how I would handle that temptation when sweat is dripping steadily off my body. Not well, I suspect.

Now there were a couple jobs I observed that I would deem quite a privilege. For instance, the elevator voice lady. I want that job. I might mix it up a bit, though. Instead of the general, "Going up" -  I might put it in the form of a question: "Going up?" Maybe make them think a little - that maybe, just maybe, they'll feel they need to respond or they may end up going down.

Also, I wish I could say I designed an airport. Not that I want to put in those kinds of endless hours, but to have a brain that could actually make sense of that kind of complex information would be pretty awesome.

But hey. It's good to be home. Because my "work" gave me three huge hugs when I walked through the door.

Now that's job satisfaction.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

You just don't know.

It's Mother's Day. But you knew that. Hallmark, Dairy Queen and every department store in the mall told you.


Moms have a tough job. It comes with no job description and yet you're responsible for at least one other human life.

And while many of us would not be where we are, or who we are, without the influence of our mothers, I caution those who jump to the conclusion that children are the way they are because of those mothers.

Not every child who is successful in life had an encouraging mother who taught a strong work ethic.

Nor did every child who is a mess have a mother who refused to discipline or didn't try to raise her child well.

I was bothered by some comments made by a mother about a fellow mother this morning. A young child - not more than three or four, probably - acted defiantly. The woman asked him to pick up some crayons that dropped on the floor to which he replied with an emphatic "No! I don't have to!"

The woman was appalled, and immediately determined this child was not disciplined by his parents and was likely the result of a parent who puts her child in daycare and then feels too much guilt at the end of the day to properly discipline and correct the child's behavior.

Uh. Say what?!

Important to note is that this woman is the mother of three very mild-mannered children. Are they that way because she disciplines so well herself, or is it merely their personality and she's never had to deal with a strong-willed child in her home? I suspect it's a bit of both. This woman's children are respectful and show tremendous character. I commend the parents for raising them toward that goal.

But I don't commend her for passing judgment on one of our own...we're moms, and ladies, we've GOT to stick together.

I mean, don't we all try our best to raise our children to be helpful, kind, honest and respectful?

But can't we all agree that this work is a lot easier with some children than others?

I don't know the circumstances of that little boy who refused to pick up his crayons, but I would guess virtually everyone has watched a child of that age test authority in a manner such as this.

Frankly, she could have been talking about my child. Typically, he is pretty good about following instructions like that, but he also likes to throw a 'tude on occasion, and I'd be pretty heartbroken to think someone automatically labeled him as "undisciplined" because of it.

All this to say, I struggle tremendously when people pass judgment on moms. Early on in motherhood, I had a dear friend who taught me a fantastic mantra when witnessing what we may deem as an unfit mother.

You just don't know.

You just don't know what other moms are dealing with in the midst of trying to raise those kids.

Yes, I mean the 4-year-old who still has a baby bottle in her mouth.

Because what you don't know is the little girl battles sensory issues something terrible and that bottle is the one thing that mom can use to calm her sweet soul.

Or the child who is climbing the walls and refuses to sit still.

Did you know his Dad was laid off and had to take a job where he's on the road 6 days a week? His mom is doing all she can to keep the home together, and her child has his own way of coping the loss of Daddy.

Certainly there are cases where a little more effective parenting could make a difference, but I refuse to be the one to be judge and jury in it.

Because you just don't know.

We moms have the hardest job on the planet. Some days we deserve a pat on the back and others a slap in the face, for sure.

We're not perfect.

Our children are not perfect.

So the second you think yours are superior to mine, or I think mine are superior to yours, that's when we've failed our children most of all.

So today, I join in the chorus of "Happy Mother's Day, Mom." Here's to the next year - a year I hope is full of encouragement and love from other moms. Because while we just don't know all of your circumstances, we do know the sacrifice, joy, heartaches, frustrations and total satisfaction that comes from turning a tiny baby into a functioning adult, with hopefully enough sense to clean up what they dropped.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I'm no Generic brand.

I need to update my resume.

In the last 24 hours, I discovered skills I didn't know I had.

First of all, I laced up my rollerblades. Yes, you read that correctly. Me. On rollerblades. It was bold, I know. But that's how I roll.

Okay, sorry. I couldn't avoid that perfect pun.

My kids are perfecting their own blading skills, and pleaded for me to join them. Since the last time I recall zipping around in my rollerblades was prior to motherhood, let's just say it isn't like riding a bike.

There's a reason moms don't typically do this activity. Mainly, because we don't want to die. We know our kids need us, so we avoid these high-risk endeavors. That and we prefer boo-boos to be remedied with a simple Sponge Bob band-aid. Rolling into oncoming traffic because the single, worthless brake will only catapult me backwards as I skid to my doom...that's beyond Sponge Bob's capability.

But after a couple "refresher courses," I'm making significant improvement. I'm even venturing a little closer to the end of the driveway. But not much. It slopes down there, ya' know. I prefer not to flirt with danger.

Since I'm resembling more Tonya Harding than Nancy Kerrigan (And yes, I realize I dated myself with that reference), I set the wheels aside to take on my next assignment.

Fashion designer.

Hey, quit laughing. I realize my typical jeans and fleece pull-over attire don't exactly scream "fashion model" but that just shows how little you know. I'm pretty sure if I was filthy rich I'd be dressed to impress. See, the only thing between me and a perfect closet is a whole lotta green. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

But when someone invites me to forget the price tags and put something together, apparently I do okay. I've volunteered to model outfits from a local clothing store for an event next week. Today I stopped at the store to select my wardrobe.

Of course in my head, this looks a lot like the scene in Pretty Woman when the manager and all the salespeople and are doting on me, having me try on hundreds of clothes as they feed me chocolate.

In reality, I walked in and the woman that was supposed to help me disappeared to the back room for an uncomfortably long time. When she reappeared, she said, "How about black and white?"

Now, if you know me, you know I like color. Reds, oranges, pinks and blues - I'll wear it all, sometimes at the same time. I don't particularly enjoy dressing like a generic cereal box, but I didn't think I had a lot of say in the matter.

Little did I know how little they'd know. Yep. They showed me some racks, and I was on my own. I started putting things together, adding punches of color with a scarf or a belt. And they LOVED it. I got rave reviews.

Who knew I missed my calling? I'll be auditioning for "Fashion Star" tomorrow.

But that's not all. Not only am I a budding fashionista, I am a dancing marvel.

Well, kind of. At least dances good enough for a 3rd grader.

My daughter is performing in her class talent show in a couple of weeks. She and a friend want to cut a rug to a little Bella Thorne-Zendaya mix. But they need choreography.

Her friend came over after school today to practice their moves. They've been practicing at recess all week. But once they run through it once in my house, they determine their moves are hideous. They want to start from scratch.

"Mom! You have to help us!"

My "You've got to be kidding me" facial expression was promptly ignored.

Before I knew it, I was choreographing three minutes of the hippest, hoppiest (I lost all credibility with that lame dance terminology, didn't I?) of my life.

Who knew watching my friends practice for dance team tryouts in high school would come in handy 20 years later?

And yes, my daughter is going to sport some moves direct from that 20-year-old routine. Don't judge me! I was forced into this job against my will and had to shoot from the hip.

Ooh, wait a second. That might make a good dance move. Let me write that down.

Considering most days are classifed a success if the dishes get done and the computer doesn't crash, this was a pretty productive day!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: A lesson in futility.

Some things simply need to be left to the professionals.

In my case, those professionals are the Girl Scouts.

I had a hair-brained idea this week to try my hand at making homemade Girl Scout cookies. Yes, I saw the recipes on Pinterest so I foolishly thought they were do-able.

Foolish. Foolish. Foolish.

But I love Thin Mints and Samoas and the thought of being able to make them myself seemed too good to be true.

And it was.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Admittedly, my first mistake was trying to assemble and bake two kinds of cookies at the same time. Thinking I'd be saving time by having ingredients and the mixer all out at once only proved to frustrate me more trying to coordinate the cooking, cooling and baking times.

I started with the Samoas dough. Easy enough. Basic shortbread, really. But I didn't have a cookie cutter shaped like a donut, so I had to improvise with a small glass and the opposite end of a frosting piping tip. But I kept getting dough stuck in that tip so had to fish it out with a fork every time. It got rather obnoxious.

Once those were in the oven, I started the Thin Mints dough. The recipe tells me to "knead the dough slightly to help keep it together." What a joke.

The stuff just crumbled. Worse yet - the recipe indicated to put it in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to rolling it out.

So it doesn't take a rocket scientist - or even an amateur chef - to surmise this dough was going to break apart when you tried to cut cookies from it. Cold, hardened, crumbly. Oh yeah. That just screams success in the kitchen.

Again, I didn't have a small round cookie cutter, but the recipe advised using a bottle cap - like from a small orange juice - to cut the cookies.

I had no orange juice. I had Powerade. Close enough.

But it was impossible to pull the dough out from the cap without it falling apart, so soon I was hacking away at that plastic cap with my kitchen shears to put a big enough hole on top to push my finger through and loosen the cookie from the top.

Although then I just managed to poke a hole in the center of every cookie. Aargh!

So with my kitchen shears in hand, I chopped and wrestled that cap some more. Orange plastic shards flying everywhere.

What a mess. But that's hardly the worst of it. I scan my kitchen.

Dough bits are EVERYWHERE.

My kitchen counters have a thorough dusting of powdered sugar and cocoa powder, the floors are littered with crumbs and since I'm darting to and fro, I've managed to smoosh chocolate bits with my feet into the floor.

Really glad I didn't get a chance to clean the floors yet this week. I try not to get down on myself about the mess, vowing to make mopping top priority tomorrow.

I eventually get the hang of the Thin Mints cookie cutting, when I realize I have to put things on hold and go coach my son's 2nd Grade basketball team at the Y.

I can't even begin to believe it is nearly 4:00 and I'm still putting these cookies together!

Hubby is away at a conference all week, so I have to pinch-hit for him as coach. You're probably asking yourself, "Why would she choose today to take on this baking project?" Good question. But I really did not expect this to be an 8-hour project! That, and I think I must thrive under pressure so I unwittingly put myself in these situations.

It's the first practice of the season, I've never coached anything, ever, and I've got 11 highly energetic 7 & 8 year old boys to corral and teach the fundamentals. And I'm pretty sure I have chocolate streaks on my shirtsleeves and cocoa in my hair.

I welcome the diversion from my disaster in the kitchen, but I cringe at the work I have left to do when I return home.

Practice comes to a close - it went pretty well, I think. But I'm more than happy to relinquish the reins to my husband next week!

After filling the bathtub for my boys and sending my daughter to shower, it's back into the kitchen I go. I finish all the baking and move onto the toppings and assembly.

This is when deep regret enters my brain.

Nothing is more irritating when I'm cooking then to have a faulty recipe. The ratio of coconut to caramel for the Samoas is completely off. I have way too little caramel, yet enough coconut to feed Skipper for a week. Well, maybe not Skipper. That scrawny Gilligan, for sure, though.

Not only does this grave detail make mixing the two futile, but I don't have nearly enough caramel to spread on each cookie in order to make the topping actually stick to the cookies. Not to mention that the assembly is so tedious that I have to repeatedly reheat the caramel to spreading consistency.

But guess what happens when you continually heat caramel?

It turns hard as a rock, that's what.

So not helpful.

I'm at a loss so I walk away from this train wreck and move on to the Thin Mints.

They are ready for dipping in chocolate. Again, faulty recipe translates to more frustration. I did not make nearly enough chocolate to coat all the cookies.

Maybe the recipe author knew how impossible cutting cookies from that dough is and figured I'd give up half-way through and chuck the remaining dough. Little did she know I have stamina and would fight that dough to the death! The only chance of that chocolate coating sufficiently covering each cookie is if I had, indeed, only made half of the cookies!

I grumble and give in to melting more chocolate. It still isn't enough - I'm about 7 cookies short - but by this time I'm so thoroughly exhausted I opt to toss the un-coated cookies into a ziplock and put them in the freezer. Maybe I'll feel the urge for a Thin Mint in July. I'll melt more chocolate then.

My attention now goes back to those horrific Samoas. Bottom line: I need more caramel.

As the only adult in the house with three children in bed, a trip to the grocery store is not an option. Then it dawns on me that I can make caramel from brown sugar!

I scan the internet for a how-to and soon I'm making my own caramel. I think I'm a genius until this also fails miserably. It's just a runny mess that has no adhesiveness to it whatsoever, so again I'm left with clumps of rock-hard coconut and caramel that refuse to stick to my cookies. Meanwhile, this runny caramel is turning my shortbread cookies into soggy, crumbly circles of goo.

I'm near tears, but am committed to finishing. I do the best I can with what I have to work with and just hope the final step of chocolate dipping and drizzling will somehow remedy the situation.

All hope is lost when I discover the amount of chocolate sauce the recipe produces only gets me through about 3/4 of the cookies.

I refuse to care.

I leave it all on wax paper to set, loosely cover it with plastic wrap and admit defeat. I'd deal with it in the morning.

It takes me nearly as long to clean up my counters and load the dishwasher as it did to make those dreadful cookies! It doesn't help that I have bowls and kettles caked with hardened caramel and chocolate sauces. For a split second, I consider tossing everything in the garbage and buying new in the morning.

I quickly realize it's insanity - brought on by impossible girl Scout cookies reproduction - talking and I snap back into the real world. I'll just let them soak. For a long time. A reeeeally long time. Like until my husband comes home and he can clean them. (insert devilish laugh here)

By morning the verdict is in. I have pretty decent Thin Mints, but certainly not quite Girl Scout Thin Mint caliber. And definitely not worth the effort when I could have just given the girl at my door earlier in the week four bucks and saved myself the trouble.

The Somoas? A complete and utter disaster. Soggy shortbread. Teeth-breaking coconut and caramel. And even odd-tasting chocolate...that never really set very well. But I have two storage containers full of the little mishaps. At this point, I'd have to pay someone four bucks to eat them.

So do yourself a favor. Learn from my mistakes.

Support your neighborhood Girl Scout and buy her cookies. No messy kitchen. No frustration. No entire-day-sucking prep. At $4 a box, it's truly a steal. At some point - maybe when I realized my caramel was overcooked - I would have paid 70x that for someone to put me out of my misery.

Although I probably could have just thrown one of those Samoas at my head for the same effect.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Please THINK before it's in INK.

We, as a human race, are just plain odd. We do weird stuff. And worse yet, we publish it.

Every Sunday, we open the newspaper and flip through the local "Celebrate" section - a place for people to send in announcements and congratulatory sentiments. As is typical in our house, we're searching for people we may know.

This week's edition doesn't disappoint. We see the son of some people we know has tied the knot - albeit, a year ago. Okay, so they procrastinated that wedding announcement a tad. No biggie.

But then eyes shift across the page to the engagement announcement of a lovely young couple. It doesn't take long for the names to sink in and make us laugh. In this case, it's highly unlikely the blushing bride will take her husband's name. If she did, her name would become Lindsey Lindsey. That's right. Lindsey is marrying a young man who has a last name that matches her first.


Okay, we move on. To a sweet 16-year-old who probably won't forgive her parents. EVER.

The line below her picture? "Look who's old enough to date!"


I'm sure she's THRILLED that her parents announced that particular piece of information to the world. Way to go, Mom and Dad. Nothing says "Happy Birthday, I love you" like a little public humiliation.

And finally, we turn to the last page and set our eyes on a "If found, please call..." announcement. It seems innocent enough. A picture of a dog - the beloved family pet. And we assume old Fido ran off and needs to be found.

Uh, nope. After we read the text, we look a little closer at that photo.

That ain't Fido.

That's a "replica" - a statue, people! - of Fido.

Yes. That's right. This family wants the statue of their dog, or maybe it's the stuffed version of their dog - I don't know, I'm just repulsed by the creature/figurine/thingy - to be returned.

If that thing was in my house, I would find a way to make it "lost," too. Yikes!

Oh well. At least these kinds of announcements make you forget about the typical frightening picture of someone's Uncle Louie dressed like one of the Village People holding a cake iced with, "Lordy, Lordy, Looks Who's 40?"

Louie, at least you're not dead and stuffed. After all, we might lose ya.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Tour of My Pinterest Treasures!

By now you know my love for Pinterest. Just to prove I'm not just a bystander, I do actually make stuff I find on Pinterest. This blog is a small gallery of what I've created...some of it is not bad, some is a slightly worse representation of what I actually found on Pinterest, but I'm generally happy with it anyway.

First up, I had a NEED to get organized. On Pinterest, I found a Kitchen Command Center that began with a kitchen desk that resembled my own, so the wheels started turning. Our kitchen desk becomes the victim of crap abuse like no other. It's where mail is dumped, school papers are lost stacked, and everything from tape measures and stray screws get tossed.

So I grabbed some essentials from the dollar store and the big discount traps stores and decided to build my own Kitchen Command Center. I found inspiration from this site:

I also bought another roll of labels for my labelmaker that has been collecting dust because I ran out of tape for it years ago. Unfortunately I probably could have bought an entirely new labelmaker for what that tape cartridge set me back. Good grief. Anyway, here we go...

The blue thingy on the bottom is full of markers, glue sticks and crayons so my kids can just haul out the whole thing when they need to get creative. It keeps it all contained and everyone's happy. Particularly Mom. And we like to keep Mom happy, right? Above that is a bin with markers that are used less often (aka, NOT washable - those scented ones and some other messy kind my preschooler brought home from somewhere). It also houses colored pencils and extra crayons. (We have way too many crayons. But I've seen plenty of Pinterest ideas on how to use crayons to make stuff, so I have big plans...) And the top shelf is for flashlights. It was full when I finished this project, and then my husband immediately took out the three he likes and put them elsewhere, so I was left with a big bin for a few small flashlights the kids use from time to time if they're building a fort, or have a sleepover. Oh well, at least we know where to find them. My husband will probably be asking me someday where his went...
Finally, on the cabinet door I attached the Honey-Do list and random keys.
I covered an old bulletin board in fabric that matched my kitchen color scheme, and covered file folders with coordinating scrapbook papers for the kids spelling lists, class newsletters, etc. The cabinet above all that houses more stuff in bins - glue, tape, permanenet markers, that sort of thing. The red box thingy on the door is just a Wheat Chex box covered in scrapbook paper and then stuck to the door with command strips (LOVE those things) - below is the Pinterest example I stole copied.

 Pinned Image

I also found this cute little caddy doo-dad at Target for pencils and you see that little drawer under the post-its? It's my favorite part. It is the catch-all for random earring backs, thumbtacks, safety pins or any other odd tiny thing that I just don't feel like taking to its proper home at the moment.
These next two photos represent an idea that wasn't entirely from Pinterest. Covering cardboard in scrapbook paper and hooking it to the inside of my cabinet certainly was, but the breakfast idea actually came from a friend who is a genius parent. She has four kids so she has to have some order or there is no civility. I got really, REALLY tired of my kids choosing their own breakfasts every morning, whining about not knowing what to eat, turning me into a short-order cook scrambling to get them off to school on time. I'm proud to say, this breakfast-picking is no longer an issue. Each child is assigned a day and they get to pick the breakfast. I have several options for them, as you can see in the photo. They choose what they want, I know what to pull together in the morning, and they are responsible for setting the table and getting the items they are capable of retreiving to the table.
 It's been a big help, and although occasionally we hear the whine of, "I don't want this" - they are quickly told their turn is only a day or two away, so the whining subsides. For the most part, they haven't gone to school starving.
My kitchen window has never been much of a focal point - just some miniblinds that I never even lower. Then I saw the tutorial for how to make Roman Shades with miniblinds and I was smitten. Tutorial here: 

Here are my new shades partly closed:
 This is the bottom edge of the fabric, some pretty silver trim but you don't see it unless the shade is lowered completely. Bummer.
 This is how it typically looks because I never really need to lower this shade.
But not bad, eh?

This next project is one of my favs. Partly because it was so crazy cheap, but also because it looks so good! I happened upon some clearanced 38 cent tiles at Lowes and decided to implement another Pinterest idea. I printed the letters on a basic laser printer, cut them out and modge podged those babies to the tiles and voila! Instant decor! (just a side note - those black candleholders to the left of my creation were a thrift store find - beat up and an ugly color, but a little black spray paint later and they look brand new! The candles themselves were Target clearance items. SCORE!)

Of course Pinterest is a life-saver for holiday ideas. These adorable pencils - made from rolos and candy kisses - will go to my kids' teachers for Valentine's Day. I just love 'em. (The pencils and the teachers.)

This next photo is a quick little project I did with a big can of pears. Once I cleaned out the can, I modge podged scrapbook paper to it - it's a texured paper, too so it is pretty cool. I have a bunch of old denim I've been using for projects, and one of the pantlegs worked well to line this little bucket and make a fun catch-all. Currently it is home to some stuff I need to get to some friends, so I guess it's my "OUT" basket for now. It may have a new purpose later.
Finally, I will share a fun idea I found that I thought would make a nifty gift idea for a young boy. Turns out my nephew was turning 8 the weekend after I found this on Pinterest so it became his gift! Here is the link where I snatched up the idea:
A tiny bit of sewing, gluing and a trip to Walmart & the dollar store later - I had a Super Hero Fort Kit. My kids love taking every blanket in the house and attaching them to TV trays, cushions and curtains with clothes pins, so I thought all the components of this kit were pure genius. Apparently my nephew's older brother thought the kit was more fab than he did, but I think he was hoping for Legos. Oh, well. Maybe he'll eventually decide putting together his Legos inside a fort could be even more fun???

So that's my gallery of projects for the most part. I have a few other odd items here and there, but I'm tired of uploading pics, to be quite honest. Besides, I have a vintage suitcase I rescued from the curb, a diaper box to transform into a fabric-covered storage box, and some curtain rods to work my magic on. I need to get to work! 

And I think I saw a tutorial for 101 ways to create amazing decor with shoebox lids. It just keeps getting better...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Waste not. Want not.

In a recent post, I told you how I had found a new love - that of Pinterest. I can officially say I'm an addict.

My daughter now cringes whenever I pick up an empty cereal box. She quickly catches the dreamy look in my eye as I scan those once-seemingly worthless items.

"Mom, you're going to make it all pretty and do something from Pinterest again, aren't you?" she says with disdain.

"Maaaaybe." I coyly reply. Truth is, you can BET I am going to do something crafty with it.

In just the past two weeks alone, I have set up a "command center" in my kitchen, developed a breakfast system for the kids, improved the libary book storage situation in our home, and created a variety of storage containers from metal cans, cardboard boxes, scrapbook paper and Modge Podge.

Holy moly, I love Modge Podge. It's the stuff miracles are made of, really. My latest project was spelling out "Family" on some 38 cent clearanced tiles at Lowe's with a simple black and white printer and some of that glorious Modge Podge.

Is it a sickness? Perhaps. But I feel like a thrifty genius.

I did gain some much-needed perspective the other day, though. I found a great tutorial on how to make an adorable fabric storage bin from a diaper box. I even pictured the perfect place for it to rest in my home. So off to the fabric store I went, only to do a little math and realize even the CLEARANCED fabric was going to cost me more than if I just went to the shelf and bought an already-assembled fabric storage bin. It was like someone slapped me across the face.

"Hey Max! Duh, wake up, girl. You're going to spend at least one frustrating hour making this thing, which may or may not turn out like you imagine and it's gonna cost you at least 25-30% more for the materials. Don't be a fool."

Okay, I'll tuck the diaper box away and wait until I find a screamin' clearanced deal on the right kind of fabric. Can't be hasty in my efforts to not be wasty. :)

It's funny though how I view all the items that come into my home now. It's as if I was injected with a recycling serum. For example, tonight my kids finished off the mandarin oranges we bought this week. I picked up the container to pitch it, and the weight of it caught my attention. After I peeled off the paper and plastic I discovered it was actually a pretty cool little wooden crate.

Hmmmm...the wheels started turning.

My daughter rolled her eyes at me.

But I reminded her that she never knows when something I find may become a piece of furniture for her American Girl doll...and wouldn't you know it - her disposition did a 180.

"Reeally, Mom?" she said excitedly.

Shoot, I've only been on Pinterest for a month or so. Imagine what great joys lie ahead as new projects come to me in future weeks, months and years.

She won't be so quick to judge when she gets her license someday and she's zipping around town in her sweeeet sports car that I crafted from pallets, her old booster seat and some thrift store finds!

Go ahead, somebody. Pin that one. I'll be waiting.