Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wherein I finally talk about birthdays.

WARNING: This post is going to be rather photo heavy.

We have a lot of birthdays in this family. Of course, this is to be expected when you have as many people in your family as we do (at last count, our personal calendar had 60+ family birthdays on it - that's not including any of the friends and coworkers who might make their way on there). We have a steady stream of them all year round, it seems, but fall and winter seem to be particularly heavy on the calendar. I blame New Year's (let's be honest: it's not a day well-known for the making of good decisions) and Lent (many in our family are Catholic ... and if you can work out my rationale behind that, then you have my sympathies). Jude celebrates in September, Scout's b-day is in October, and mine rolls around in January. Toss Thanksgiving and Christmas in the mix, and I've got myself a party to plan five months in a row, which is just the way I like it (and yes, I usually plan my own birthday party... and yes, I am pushing 30... and no, I don't care that I "shouldn't care" about my birthday anymore because I'm a "grown up" ... I care. I care very much).

Party planning, as many of you may not know, is an area of expertise for me. Picking themes, blowing up balloons, designing and/or making cakes, putting up decorations, planning menus, putting together favor bags ... I love it all. In 2010, when Scout turned 3, she wanted a "Peter Pan Pirate Party," so we dressed like pirates, went on a treasure hunt, walked the plank, passed the pirate parrot, listened to maritime music, ate Caribbean skewers, and drank grog (aka: root beer and ginger ale). She even had a little girly Jolly Roger on her ice cream cake. It was pretty much amazing. My biggest regret is that I wasted such an epic party on a three-year-old. She probably won't remember 90% of it by the time she's an adult.

Photographic proof that we are pretty much the best parents ever.

The pirate princess herself.

Of course we busted out the cannon at our three-year-old's birthday party. Didn't you?
What? You don't even have a cannon? What a sad life you must lead.

For Jude's first birthday party (earlier that year),we went to the zoo, and of course I made cupcakes for the occasion:

I might have stayed up until 1am the night before decorating these bad boys, but they sure were beautiful,
even after the sun made them a bit drippy.

Of course, after the epic bashes of 2010 (and Scout's equally-epic harvest-themed first birthday party, complete with hay ride and carved pumpkins spelling out her name), I had to aim high in 2011 to outdo myself. I have to hand it to my kids: they sure made it easy on me. Jude loves dogs. I mean LOVES dogs. He is madly in love with our dog Missy (who, to be honest, merely tolerates him). But his love is not limited to our dog. We see a dog anywhere, and he needs to pet it, talk to it, and otherwise love on it. So for his birthday this year, it was obvious that we needed to have ourselves a dog party. We sent invitations telling people to expect a "howling" good time. I made puppy chow, a pasta salad that looked an awful lot like Missy's dog food, hot dogs, and homemade corndogs and hush puppies. We served the food out of (new) dog dishes. B's mom made cookies shaped like dog bones. We made (and subsequently wore) dog ears and painted puppy faces. The kids got goody bags with "kibble" and puppy stickers and Scooby Snacks in them. There ended up not being any time for games, but we had planned for a rousing round of "Pass the Puppy" (basically a modified version of the aforementioned Pass the Pirate Parrot with "Who Let the Dogs Out" playing instead of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme). It was a great time.

Scout and her "Aunt" Kristi (who never misses a birthday, despite living in Virginia)
modeling their cute puppy ensembles.

I always make complicated cake orders (and have kids with weird names to boot), so I always dread delivery day, thinking I'll have to send pics to CakeWrecks ... but our local DQ always pulls them off flawlessly.

Hot dogs and hush puppies... no nutritional value,
but high in deliciousness.

Scout started planning for her birthday this year in August. She repeatedly told me that she wanted a "rainbow party ... and possibly also My Little Pony ... or Strawberry Shortcake." Sometime in the two months prior to the party, I introduced her to Friendship is Magic (I swear it's not just for kids!), and the party ideas came together to form the perfect storm: A Rainbow Dash Birthday Bash. We had rainbow EVERYTHING. Rainbow fruit skewers. Six different drinks. Tacos with the toppings arranged in rainbow order (tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, avocado, purple onion, etc.). Balloons. Everything. And our activity? Well, we tie-dyed, of course. What else would you do with a group of 2-6 year-olds at a rainbow party?

The birthday girl sporting her Rainbow Dash-esque hairpiece.

Drinks, plates, napkins, cups, silverware ... EVERYTHING was rainbow, you guys. We were not messing around.

The rainbow and the pony were made from hand-painted (by me) fondant.
Please also note that the candles are tie-dye. Because, seriously.

Oh,and did I mention that the cake was actually six different layers of color, so when you cut into it, it was AMAZING?

It would have looked about 20% cooler if I had used synthetic dyes, but Scout doesn't do Red#40 (yes,we are THOSE people),
so I had to use all natural dyes.

And of course we sent all of the kids home with crayons and Skittles.

So there's the birthday post I promised you several months ago. And then some. Let me know if you need some help with your kid's party (or your own for that matter - I'm not here to judge). I don't want to brag, but I am a veritable fount of party ideas. Sometimes I wonder if I'm in the wrong line of work...

I'll talk later this week about my own birthday. It seems slightly less exciting in comparison to all of these festivities; plus, I'm about out of energy for the night.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

An obligatory post of yearly goals

I'm a few days late to this party, but I heard once that "it" (whatever it is) is better late than never, which has long been a saving grace of mine because I am almost never on time for anything (case in point: the promised blog post "on Monday" back in October with pictures of Scout's Rainbow Dash party. I like to tell myself that the problem is that I am too busy actually living life to blog about it, but the fact is that I have too much TV to watch and not enough work ethic to do things most of the time). With that being said, here are some (a few are more personal and, frankly, none of your business, internet) of my goals for 2012...

[A brief sidenote on the difference between GOALS and RESOLUTIONS: RESOLUTIONS are things that are set in stone - "I resolve to do this..." - whereas GOALS are much more flexible - at least, I consider them to be. GOALS are plans, hopes, dreams, things to strive toward. RESOLUTIONS often involve a complete changing of habits that will require action day in and day out for the foreseeable future. GOALS are more like one-time deals. I'm rambling. I think/hope the difference will become clearer in the following list.]

  1. Keep a written record of each book I read. (Bonus points: Also keep a record of new movies I watch.) This way, I will be able to finally compile a year-end blog review like so many of my friends. Also, in my Type-A, grade-grubbing brain, I feel like this is a way to "prove" (To whom? you ask, not unreasonably. To everyone [but mostly myself], I quietly and shamefacedly mutter) that I have read all of the books I think I do in a given time period.
  2. Related to # 1: Read at least 24 books this year (audio books count, which is why I already have 1 under my belt - The Life of Pi .... don't bother).
  3. Blog AT LEAST once per week. Stop laughing, you guys. I can totally do this. Yes, I know that I'm hours shy of already failing in the first week, but I can change. I can totally change. I can totally do this.
  4. Lose at least 15 pounds. I know, I know. This one sounds shadily "New Year's Resolution"-ish, but ... that's because it sort of is. However, it's not the typical, abstract, "I need to lose 15 pounds" thing that everyone says on January 1st. I was on Weight Watchers for most of last year (technically... let's just say I paid membership dues for all of last year, but I might have, kind of, sort of, stopped going to the meetings sometime in May. I think I went to three meetings in the entire latter six months of the year. Sad, wasteful, true). Anyways, I was on WW (if in name only), and at first, I did awesome. I lost about 25 lbs. And then ... life happened. I was out of town; B was working so I couldn't go to the meetings; my meeting buddy wasn't able to go, and I didn't want to go alone; it had been too long and I couldn't just go back now; etc. As a result, my life at this time can be summed up in two e-cards. I've gained back at least 15 of the 25 formerly lost pounds. I have perpetual muffin top, even in my "fat" pants. I can't even look at my "skinny" clothes. I'm especially grateful for the unseasonably warm weather because I literally can't button my winter coat anymore. This is not a typical, "skinny girl complaining that she needs to lose 10 lbs" thing. This is an, "I can't fit into my current clothes without fear of explosion, and I can't afford to just go buy new ones, so something's gotta give" situation. So there. I may or may not have purchased an inordinate amount of produce and a box of tea that has not been verified by the FDA to actually boost my metabolism and limit my sugar cravings (it hasn't been verified by me on that one either - I'd kill a man for a chocolate chip cookie at this point).
  5. Actually open that Etsy store for all those crafts I make and then say, "I could totally sell this on Etsy if only..."
  6. Actually get the sweet Ravenclaw tattoo I've been talking about for months. I've already made some progress on this one. I called the tattoo parlor this evening about a consultation and possible straight up appointment! Merry Christmas and happy birthday to me! (I've even started combining my own Christmas and birthday presents. Hooray for early January birthdays.)
  7. Actually respond (or at least actually listen) to voicemails as I get them instead of four (or more) days later. This one is actually on my original, handwritten list as, "Be a better friend."
  8. Go on at least one date per month, as opposed to our current 2-4 per year (a combo of any/all - thought usually not all - of the following: Valentine's, birthdays, anniversary).
  9. If money ever cooperates and I can get a decent camera, start that YouTube channel I've been dreaming of forever.
Like I said, those are just a few of the goals; the rest are just between me and B and the Lord. So ... yeah. Expect to see a lot more of me in the coming year, in the form of blog posts, pics of my tat, and (hopefully, fingers crossed, oh I hope I hope I hope so...) even video. I'll aim to see you sometime in the next 168 hours. Maybe I'll finally post pictures of those birthday parties we talked about three months ago.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Life is crazy busy in the fall, even after I quit school. (Did I tell you I quit school? Because I totally quit school. Long story short, I hated my life, I never had time for friends or my kids, I was LIVING in front of the computer, and my work performance was severely suffering, so I just ... quit. Right in the middle of a class. So there. I'll have to pick it up again later, but for now, I know that I have made the right decision.) Anyways, because of how busy things have been, I have no time to blog about all of the cute/funny/exasperating things that keep happening. Here are some snippets of our lives over the past few weeks...

  • Jude's new favorite thing is to wedge himself between the bed and the wall in the office/guest room. Once he is sufficiently stuck, he immediately begins calling for assistance: "I thtuck! I help you?" (Interpretation: I'm stuck! Will you help me?) He apparently thinks it's a game. This is fine except yesterday, he wedged himself in there and then plainly called to me, "Mommy! Help me!" My heart broke a little. He's always said, "I help you," never, "Help me." I'm not usually one of those "If only they could stay little forever..." people. I much prefer surly teens to crying babies. I like kids who can do stuff, if you know what I mean. Kids who are out of the "lump" stage of life, who are able to make their own sandwiches and don't need help getting dressed. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, and I love the imaginative stage of toddlerhood. I just think I'll enjoy them even more when we can have rational discussions about things we have in common instead of me hiding most of my DVD collection from them and trying to pretend I'm interested in the Wonder Pets. Anyways, I say all of that to say that while I do want them to grow up, I also very much miss those adorable turns of phrase they had when they were smaller. That first time they change from "their" way to the "right" way (Like Jude saying, "Help me!" or Scout saying "diapers" instead of "buppers"), my heart breaks a little. That is all.
Hey, self, remember when you said you don't have time for a long blog post? (Shut up.)
  • My daughter is the youngest person I know who can clog a toilet for reasons other than excessive toilet paper use. She is her father's daughter. She makes him proud. She also makes a huge mess of our bathrooms. A preschooler wielding a plunger is a terrifying thing to behold. Two words: Poop. Rug.
  • Our small group has recently branched out/expanded to become two groups instead of one. At our new group, two weeks in a row now, immediately after someone says something very poignant, serious, or "real", someone has accidentally bumped up against a child's toy that plays "The Entertainer". There's nothing quite like someone saying, "My aunt just found out her 4 year old has cancer," followed by cheery ragtime music. Inappropriate and kind of horrible? Yes. But also hilarious. I am a terrible person.
  • I recently have been marathoning Scrubs on Netflix streaming. Dr. Cox totally made that show. That's all.
  • Speaking of shows/movies, I am 0 for 2 in my impromptu/unofficial "Halloween Movie 101" class with B. So far he has given both The Lost Boys and Donnie Darko a mere 2.5 stars, otherwise known as an "eh" rating. I am disappoint.
  • Also speaking of disappoint, I finally got around to watching Coraline this week. The book was a hundred times better than the movie. I mean, the animation was great, but seriously ... the book was way creepier, more suspenseful, and all around better.
That's all I have time for at this moment because I have a ton of work to do for my job and in preparation for Scout's rainbow birthday party tomorrow (hopefully pics and a blog post to come on Sunday or Monday). It should be a blast. In the meantime, that's my October in a nutshell: My Little Ponies, clogged toilets, and creeptastic classics. How's your October been?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A conversation with my preschooler (because I totally have one of those now)

Scout started school a few weeks ago. It's just three mornings a week, but it gets her out of my hair the house for a few hours and presents an opportunity to develop some much needed social skills. Her teacher, Mrs. W, keeps telling me that Scout is doing great and having a good time, and I'm inclined to believe her since we never have tearful mornings or "I DON'T WANNA GO!!!" fits or anything like that, and she's usually smiling and happy when I pick her up after class. She loves to talk about her "best friend Paige" and the games she plays with the other kids. However, if you ask Scout directly, you will quickly discover that she is, quite literally, too cool for school. "How was school today?" someone will ask. "I dunno," she'll say, with a shrug and that face you make to indicate the same. Or you'll say, "Did you have fun at school today, Scout?" and she'll start out with a grin and say, "Ye-" and then she'll catch herself, become somber and say, "Well, yes, but not too much fun," or, "Only just a little fun." I'm not sure what this says about her future. I fear it means she's going to be a lot like I was as a teen. (Please, Jesus, I know I probably deserve it, but don't punish me with that.)

Anyways, after picking her up at school today, we had to swing by Walmart to pick up a prescription and a few groceries. It was apparently "run into everyone you know" day at Ye Olde Wal Marts (one teacher and two moms from preschool, one girl from my high school, one sister-in-law, and one friend from church). Later, when we were back home and having some lunch, I asked her about one of the families we had run into.

Me: So, do you like Brinley? Are you and Brinley friends? Do you two play together at school?
Scout: Yes, I like Brinley, but I call her Kelsey.
Me: Why would you call her that? You shouldn't call her Kelsey. She probably doesn't like that; her name is Brinley.
Scout: Yes, but I call her Kelsey because I can never remember what her name is.

So matter of fact. As if she was saying, "Of course I just make up a random moniker for someone when I don't know their actual name. What would you do, Mother?"

Lord, help me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Forget BEDA; I'm doing BODA

Have y'all heard of BEDA/VEDA? In case you are unfamiliar, it's Blog/Vlog Every Day in August. Actually, I think it was originally Blog/Vlog Every Day in April, and then someone realized that there are two A months, and thus BEDA/VEDA the Second was born. Anyways, as you can probably tell, I am not doing BEDA this year. I have never done BEDA. I like to tell myself I'm going to do BEDA in April of 2012, when I'm totally done with grad school and have had three
months to adjust to a textbookless, research paperless life, but let's face facts. We've all seen my track record. Remember that, "I am going to blog all the days!" promise I made a long time ago? And the time after that? And the time after that? I rest my case.

So, instead of BEDA, I am doing BODA: Blog One Day in August. That way, even if I don't write another post after this one, I have still succeeded at BODA. Go, me. Finishing something. For once. Woohoo.

So ... as you might have guessed, I'm back in school. Have been for six and a half weeks now. It's inarguably the worst class I have ever taken. Tons of busy work, rude professor, unclear assignment instructions ... it's really everything I've ever disliked about any class I have ever taken, but all piled into one eight week course. Its suckitude is beyond impressive.

What else can I update you on? Ah, the Ravenclaw scarf. (Don't look at me like that; we already knew I was a nerd of hopeless proportions.) If this is what it looked like before:

All in a 3-day weekend's work.

Then I'd say this is what it looks like now:

At this rate, I should be done by Christmas ... of 2015.

As you can see, I am making excellent progress.

Hmmm ... What else? Ah. The Host. Just finished reading that. It was surprisingly very good. If her name wasn't right there on the cover, I never would have guessed it was the same author as the Twilight series. I have two theories about this discrepancy:

Theory the First: Stephenie Meyer thinks teenagers are stupid... or at least she has no idea how to write for them. She apparently thinks that teens just want to read their own cheesy vampire fanfiction or something and that they don't understand complex things like plot and internal consistency.

Theory the Second: Stephenie Meyer is an evil genius who can actually write well, but who chose to slap together a piece of hackneyed crap because she knew it would make a bajillion dollars based solely on Angel Marble Cupcake Adonis Edward Sparklepire's twinkly good looks and creepy, borderline abusive charming personality. She didn't try at all when writing that series and is laughing her way to the bank while people try to dissect the "deeper meaning" within her glitter-filled Twinkies series.

So ... yeah. The Host. A good read. It was a little predictable, but there were no rip-my-hair-out, "Seriously, why are we still talking about this?", "Do you even understand how relationships work?", "No one would ever like this protagonist in real life" situations, gaping plot holes, or internal inconsistencies. The romantic relationships are still kind of weird/unhealthy, but nothing to the degree that Twilight's were. All in all, not bad for an alien-apocalypse-meets-romance novel. I give it one and a half thumbs up... or 3.5 stars, whichever you prefer.

So, that's it for BODA. Stay tuned. Maybe if you're lucky you'll get BOMTA (Blog One More Time in August). But I'm not making any promises.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Holy parentheticals, Batman!

What? Don't look at me like that. Yesterday counted as a non-weekday (and apparently Friday did too because when B called the garage about our brakes, they were out Friday through Monday). So ... there.


(Real mature, self. You're resorting to "neiner-neiner face" emoticons now? When this whole thing fails and all of your readers have left you, don't come crying to me ... who is also you... or something.)

Long story short, I was out having a nap fun-filled holiday weekend, and I don't plan on apologizing for it.


Yes I do. Please forgive me. All I want is for you to love like me and keep coming back here to read my inane blathering thoughts and witticisms and to be best friends forever and braid each others' hair and have sleepovers and pillowfights and make waffles in the morning and tell your friends that I am positively adorable and not at all crazy or RainMan-esque.

*pointing in the distance* What's that over there?

*Runs away*

*Shoves medicated clone with minimal social anxiety in front of the keyboard*

Ahem... nevermind; you can come back. It must have just been a squirrel or a mongoose or something (depending on where you live). What were we talking about? Oh, right. My unexcused absence. [Sidenote: That phrase always gives me flashbacks to high school gym class. I was ... shall we say ... not an athlete. Or coordinated. At all. I also had a "stinky attitude," as one of my teachers once told me. Thanks, Mrs. Dinger. I'll bet you were just trying really hard not to drop an F-bomb on the whiny, foul-mouthed, Goth brat who was throwing a fit about how "math class step aerobics is HAAAAARD!!!" Little did you know how that one innocuous, on-the-fly euphemism would provide more than 10 years of laughter.] So, I failed to uphold my strict "blog every (week)day" promise. Have you been here long? (If not, I can hardly blame you. This thing is updated so infrequently that [insert witty joke that I'm too lazy to come up with here].) You should know by now to neither listen to what I say nor do as I do... or something. Let's move on before we get lost in the seemingly neverending labyrinth of asides within sidenotes within parenthetical comments.

I know I promised pictures of the guest room/office remodel, but I only got everything officially "photo-worthy" this morning, and I wanted to take the pictures in the daylight so they turn out better, and I have this whole "work" thing that I have to do during the day, so ... maybe tomorrow? We're aiming for tomorrow.

Tonight I want to share with you a song. (Warning: Earworms Ahead) I heard this little ditty probably close to a month ago, and I just cannot stop laughing at (or humming) it. It's catchy; it's nerdy; it's got ukulele; it's everything I hope for in a YouTube song. Plus, as someone who used to have a MySpace (back in the day when facebook was still new and cool and people still Yahooed instead of Googling things... you know, way back in 2005 or something), I think the "inside" jokes are just hilarious. My favorite line has got to be: "I hope your cynical kids say, 'Holy crap! This is great!'" One of the best song lyrics of all time... or something.

(Drinking game idea: Go back through this post and take a drink every time I say "...or something." [For you hardcore lushes players, go back a second time and take a drink every time I start a new parenthesis, bracketed comment, sidenote, or interjection.])

So, without further ado, I give you "My Hope" by Molly Lewis (YouTube account sweetafton23):

If you like this song and/or Stephen Fry as much as I do, you'll also want to check out her "Open Letter" song for him on her channel. I prefer the version where she performed it live for him at Harvard. I've never seen a gay grown man look so flattered and embarrassed at the same time.

*For those of you playing the drinking game at home, you might want to call yourself a paramedic because by my count, you've just consumed 17 shots of alcohol, and that is one shy of a Dylan Thomas.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Useless internet connection is useless.

I had big plans, internet. Great, big plans. I was going to tell you all about our guest room/office remodel and include a bunch of reveal pictures... but then our internet connection decided to party like it's 1999... by which I mean it decided to act like a dial-up connection instead of the high speed, broadband, wi-fi that it is. Lamesauce. Considering the fact that I've been trying for 30 minutes to load a two-minute YouTube video, I'm guessing that a picture-heavy post would be sort of like Tolstoy sending War and Peace word by word via Pony Express from Russia to Miami (let that one sink in for a minute). In other words: It's not happening. Does this count as a blog post? Let's pretend it does because B just got home, and I haven't actually talked to him yet all week.