Thursday, April 30, 2009

Witty, observant, fun, smart-assy (and probably a little boring, too)

I was tagged by Laura at Are We Nearly There Yet, Mummy? and A Mum Shaped Hole, with the following meme. This came at just the right time because I have not had much to blog about lately and the things I could blog about are so chock full of information and details that it would turn into a soap opera of sorts, with less sex, money and makeup.

1. What are your current obsessions? Anything on the DVR
2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? PJs
3. Last dream you had? I have had some wild ass dreams lately and I am not going to share them here.
4. Last thing you bought? Spring clothes
5. What are you listening to? The clanking of dishes as my family finishes up their meal.
6. What do you want to be when you grow up? I'm not really sure, but I think I would like to incorporate being a doula into my massage therapy work.
7. Favourite holiday spots? anywhere with a beach and the ocean
8. Reading right now? Lipstick Jungle (sorry, you caught me during a time when our bookclub was mentally and emotionally exhausted from all the heavy reads and we decided to pick something light hearted and smutty.)
9. Four words to describe yourself. Witty, observant, fun, smart-assy (and probably a little boring, too)
10. Guilty pleasure? Naps
11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? The Ladies Lounge ladies
12. Favourite spring thing to do? Watch my boys play baseball games
13. Planning to travel to next? St. Louis with myself and my three boys - hooking up with three other friends and their kids, who are coming from Kansas City, in June. In September - HAWAII!
14. Best thing you ate or drank lately? A big juicy cheeseburger with portabello mushrooms and swiss cheese.
15. When did you last get tipsy? I can't remember. The last time I drank too much was at our Christmas Party and the hangover was so bad I have had no desire to drink since!
16. Favourite ever film? A few -The Godfather (I & II), The Graduate, Because of Winn-Dixie, Juno, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire
17. Care to share some wisdom? Stop worrying about what others think of you.
18. Song you can't get out of your head? Whatever the last irritating commercial I see is.
19. Thing you are looking forward to? Summer break

Rules of the meme. Respond and rework. Answer questions on your own blog. Replace one question. Add one question. Tag 8 people.

As for the tags, I am going to choose eight bloggers who are new to my little spot of blogland. I'm not sure how you folks feel about memes, so run with it if you want, and if not, no worries!

Liz at A Mom on Spin
Deb at Life with Birk
Mariah at Manic Mariah
The Flavored Mom
Jenjen at Gotta Love Mom
Melinda at Melinda Arnold
Texas Holly at June Cleaver Nirvana
Deb at Let Me Go On and On

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The last check

Yesterday I wrote my last check ever for preschool.  My youngest, CJ, will be graduating from preschool this May and we will be "saving" some money each month as he heads to kindergarten in the fall.  I say "saving" but we all know all that will really happen is the money will get used on some other fees that we are not currently incurring - therapy of some kind for who knows which family member, sports, dental/medical bills, etc.  You know the drill, just when you think you are going to have some extra money to spend on something fun, along comes some drama or unexpected scenario to take it away from you!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How much is that doggy in the ... stroller?

I wrote about the topic of dog strollers here.  That was almost seven months ago.  Seven months have passed and I still don't get it.  I think dog strollers are the stupidest fucking things I have seen in I don't even know how long.

Someone in my neighborhood has one of these ridiculous contraptions.  I shake my head and chuckle every time I see it parked on her front walk.  I gave her the benefit of the doubt that maybe the dog was old or handicapped.  However, I have seen her out walking the dog in this damn stroller twice now.  That dog looks as peppy as any puppy.  Does this woman realize she looks like a total moron with her little dog in this stroller with it's zipper cover? (That zipper is obviously a necessity, because heaven forbid the dog actually jump out of the stroller and walk, or worse, RUN!) 

I'll admit, I am not the "pet" person that many people are.  I love animals and I have loved having pets over the years.  But they are pets.  I don't consider them people and while they were a PART of our family, I didn't exactly consider them a MEMBER of the family.  Does this make sense?  I cried when they were gone, I was concerned when they were sick, but I drew the line at treating them like they were humans.  They were well loved, but they were animals.  I wonder what on God's green earth possesses people to totally lose sight of the fact that their pet is an animal and not a person?

And now for your visual entertainment, I present a variety of pet strollers:

First we have the dog stroller.  This is the exact stroller the woman in my neighborhood has.  Clearly, this woman doesn't know what to do with her money, because based on the website I looked at, she wasted a $100 bucks on this!

My entire life, up until about 8 years ago, I have had cats for pets.  That means I had cats for about 33 years.  I know enough about cats to know this thing should be considered a torture chamber and anyone using this should be reported to the SPCA and/or PETA immediately.  I can't imagine any cat that I have ever owned looking forward to this.

For the truly neurotic pet owner who can't buy the typical travel kennel for their beloved pet, you have this.
This is the Pet Gear Travel System and includes a pet carrier, stroller and car seat.  It can be yours for $99.99.

So go on now, run out and buy one of these little delights.  Then, of course, be sure to video tape your human pet riding along in this and post it on YouTube, your blog and don't forget Facebook, so we can all see.  And get a good laugh at your expense.

Monday, April 27, 2009

She wants my husband!

Big E's baseball season recently started.  This is the second year his team is playing together.  They lost a few players to other teams and have a few new players, but overall, it's the same team. 

I was talking with one of the moms, S, on Friday night and we were discussing who left, who came back and who some of the new players are.  She then said, "I am glad B is gone." (B is the mom of one of the boys who switched teams.)  In my usual manner, I didn't say anything and just looked at her.  She then continued, "She was a little too attracted to E."  E is S's husband.  Are you with me? 

I honestly can't remember the last time I had to physically, mentally and emotionally stifle a giggle, a smile or anything remotely related to a giggle or a smile.  Actually, let's just be honest, I was struggling to not burst out with hysterical laughter.  Thank goodness I had a drink in my hand, because I just started sipping to try to give my face something to do!  She made this comment with a totally serious expression and maybe even a little bit of anger.  All I was thinking was "Have I missed something?"  E is a nice guy and all, but I find it hard to believe B would be interested in him.  Oh, and B is married.  I am not naive enough to think any of this would stop a wild love affair, but it just seemed so comical and I am laughing just typing this out.  I don't think I will ever be able to look at S the same again!

I also thought she was taking a bit of a risk sharing this information with me and I am reminded why I often don't respond to comments like this and just let the person keep talking.  She and I do not know each other well at all.  She has no clue who I am friends with.  Reality is, B could be my BFF and S would not know that.  So she really took quite a risk telling me that.  I have really learned to filter what I say.  With two relocations in three years, I have learned to keep a lot to myself until you really get to know people (and then I still keep a lot to myself!).  I have learned to observe a lot and say nothing to casual acquaintances.  Save that crazy, gossipy stuff for your nearest and dearest, TRUSTWORTHY friends.  Or you could just put it on your blog.  No one will find out about it there, right?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Fragments

It's been a slow week in the fragments area.  Visit Mrs. 4444 for some other Friday Fragments.
  • "Grey skies are going to clear up!  Put on a happy face!"  C'mon everyone, sing along with me!  It's about damn time.
  • Last night I went out with friends to an AWESOME restaurant.  The Summit is run by the Midwest Culinary Institute.  Staff, including the sous chef, are students of the school and the menu changes seasonally.  It was delicious and I look forward to going back soon.  The menu changes next week!  For any of you locals reading this blog, you definitely need to check it out!
  • My neighbor bought a spunky little sports car.  We were outside when he pulled up in it for the first time.  He asked me if I wanted to take it for a drive and before he could change his mind, I grabbed the key and hopped in the driver's seat.  His wife hopped in the passenger seat and we put the top down.  As we pulled away MG and the neighbor were making Thelma and Louise comments.  Lorraine and I were wondering where Brad Pitt was.
  • How is it possible to NOT lose weight, or at least maintain it, when you go up and down stairs a gzillion times a day, almost always carrying something heavy - a laundry basket full of clothes, clothes on hangers, blankets and pillows and/or a child?  Not to mention the bending over and standing up to straighten up a room and pushing a vaccuum cleaner or carpet shampooer.  Why doesn't that count as an aerobic workout and strength training all at the same time?  Why doesn't my body recognize this as calorie burning?
  • I'm all for being politically correct, but when did saying Indian (as in American Indian) become a bad thing?  I told CJ to sit Indian style and he looked at me like I was crazy and said "WHAT is that?"  So I then said, "Criss cross applesauce?" and he knew what I was talking about.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bad momma!

Some days, I am reminded that there are some things I seriously need to improve on.  My oldest son is very social and always has been.  Because of that, he is constantly planning activities and inviting friends (notice the "s" on friend, because his planning always involves more than one child!) over for a variety of activities and sleepovers.  I have said it before and I will say it again, this kid needs to live on a commune.  And he can be "Julie" (of the Love Boat for you young'uns) and keep everyone's social and activities calendars organized and full.

As for the other two, well, I'm not as good at making sure they have friends over.  Sous Chef recently had a friend stay all night.  This was the first time he has done this, not counting the neighbor friends.  He was so excited and I wonder why I didn't start encouraging this a little earlier!  CJ is not ready for sleepovers, but I don't even do a good job of making sure he has regular playdates.  Thankfully, he hangs tough and doesn't mind getting knocked around with the big boys.

I want my kids to have long lasting friendships with kids from school, sports teams and other kid activities.  I want them to have friends over and to get invited over to their friends' houses, but honestly, I have SUCKED at guiding them into this.  I do hope to do better.  I even reminded Sous Chef he should think about inviting another friend for a sleepover.  He already has picked out who it will be.  Now if we can just find an open weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh the HAIR!

One of the things I have had to adjust to now that my hair is quite long (for me) is not only how to control this massive amount of hair on my head, but how to get control of the hair that falls out of my head.  It's gross!  I have gone from extremely short hair, which doesn't clog anything, to shoulder length hair, of which I have a TON of according to my stylist, which I find everywhere.  Every day I clean the shower drain.  Between my hair and Big E's, which is as long as mine but it's curlier so it looks shorter, the shower drain is working over time.  This is what I find on a regular basis in our shower.  (Oh, this might be a couple of days buildup, but GAG!)

My sink has not been draining properly at all and I finally got my husband to look at it.  This is what he found down in the drain.
I'm dry heaving just looking at this picture.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday's Tribute

Tuesday's Tribute

You may have noticed with Jay's semi-retirement and Deb's busy schedule (she's still writing her own blog AND she's one of the cool contributors over at Moms Without Blogs!) they have turned over the reigns to Angie at the Seven Clown Circus and Tuesday's Tribute lives on!  So on with my tribute:

I woke up this morning and you were gone.  Thank goodness, because I am sick of your ass.  I even bounced down the stairs making chirpy comments about your absence.  I wasn't sure how much more I could take.  Then, out of nowhere, you crept up on me like an evil monster!  They say it will get better, but those folks have been wrong before.  They make promises they can't keep and think it's no big deal when they have lead me astray or changed their minds.  Well, it is a big deal because I am tired of this nonsense.  Six months and I have had it.  Done. Finished. Finito. Ecouter. Fini.  (Sorry if I have slandered your language!)  I can't take another day, but it looks like I have no choice.  If these grey skies don't blow over soon, I think I might break down and cry.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Stellan McKinney

Please say a prayer this evening for little Stellan McKinney.  He is the little boy at the left and below.  He was flown to Boston last week and is facing a rather risky heart surgery, originally planned for Tuesday, but it is starting to look like it may be this evening.

I have changed my blog color to orange and MckMama and friends are asking everyone to wear orange tomorrow (his original surgical date) and keep him in your thoughts. I do not personally know this family, but like so many others, I have been touched by this story and this baby.

Prayers for Stellan

Girls getaway!

I mentioned recently that my BFF and I are heading to Hawaii this fall for a girls only trip.  We have been best friends since college.  For as long as I can remember, we have talked about going on a trip for our 40th birthdays.  This decision was made long before husbands and kids.  Well, almost two years ago, our 40th birthdays came and went, but no trip.  Each of us had just relocated to new states and were getting settled and it just didn't happen.  She is now living in Guam and I am in Ohio and Hawaii is half way.  We decided this was the perfect time and place for a trip, otherwise we would only see each other once over the next three or so years.  Plus it was a good reason to go to Hawaii!  We had struggled at one point about where to go and this kind of made the decision for us. 

So now that we are in the early planning stages of this trip, I have been asked by many people "Your husband is allowing you to go on a girls only trip for that long?  To Hawaii?"  "How did you convince your husband to let you go on this trip?"  "What does your husband say about you going away for that long?  To Hawaii?"  and the big one "Who is taking care of your kids while you are gone?"

To that last question, I always find it hard to keep my mouth from dropping to the ground.  Let's see.  I am married and my kids have two parents.  When one parent is gone, who usually takes care of the kids?  THE OTHER PARENT!  It seems so obvious to me that my husband will be taking care of our kids while I am gone.  Will he have some help?  Maybe.  He may hire a sitter once or twice.  He may ask a neighbor to get a kid off the bus.  He may even ask his parents or mine to come help out for a day or two.  But all of that will be up to him.  Mainly, he will be the one taking care of the kids while I am gone.  I am surprised when people are surprised by this.  He did agree to parent these kids and that means taking care of them in my absence.  I don't think I would have had kids with someone who wouldn't do that.

As for the other questions, MG and I don't "allow" each other to do anything - we don't ask permission and we don't do a sales pitch to "convince" one another.  We do discuss and then we make decisions based on one another's input.  And the decision that's made is NOT always the one that each would have preferred, but is generally accepted by each of us.  That's called compromise and we are pretty good at it.  His input to this trip?  "Go!  Have fun!  I can't wait to see the pictures."  I don't think I would be married to someone who reacted any differently.

PS:  My hubs also gets away with friends for vacations, so don't think this is a one sided event! : )
PSS:  We also enjoy vacationing with just the two of us and as an entire family!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ice cream for dinner!

Yep, that's what we do here at the House of Jo.  Friday, we were under the influence of ice cream.  It's been a while since we have been to our favorite ice cream shop, I had no clue what to fix for dinner and we had a gzillion places to be from 3:00 until 7:30 (ok, not a gzillion, just one Ultimate practice and game and two baseball practices), so I decided we would just have ice cream for dinner.

After all the games/practices, we headed to our favorite frozen dairy spot - Graeter's Ice Cream.  They still make French Pot Process ice cream, just two gallons at a time.  They also have flavors of the month, with April/May/June being my favorite flavor - Strawberry Chocolate Chip.  Check out this link to see how they make their chocolate chunks.  These aren't your typical wimpy chocolate chips!  Their other flavor this month?  Blueberry Pie and the proceeds for that flavor go towards fighting pediatric brain cancer.  Oh, and by the way, you can have Graeter's shipped to you anywhere in the continental US (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii!).

I bet you are wondering what we all decided to order.  I had the make my ass as big as you can Double Scrumptious Sundae with hot fudge, two scoops of strawberry chocolate chip ice cream and all the yummy toppings.  Sous Chef and Big E each had a milkshake, CJ had a raspberry chocolate chip ice cream cone and MG had a cherry chocolate chip ice cream cone.  Notice who the pig robust eater in this family is?
At the end of all that eating, licking and sucking (get your minds out of the gutter people, this was a FAMILY dinner!), Sous Chef declared "all of our meals should be dessert!"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fragments

First, thanks to Mrs. 4444 who awarded me as one of the Favorite Friday Fragmenters! She said my post last week regarding the Parmesan cheese stinkin' feet was one of her favorites! Check her out for other Friday Fragments.

  • Do any of you watch The Real Housewives? I have only seen a couple of reruns for the New York City housewives. I am wondering - are these women friends who decided to do this show together or does the show put these women together and now they are "friends" (sort of)?
  • Sous Chef cracked me up this week with a comment about Spring Break. It went something like "Spring Break, my favorite time of year. Just me, my video games, the TV, the couch, and a stay at the Great Wolf Lodge."
  • A friend of mine auditioned and was placed into a speaking role in an upcoming George Clooney movie (Up In The Air, directed by Jason Reitman). She had several different scenes she auditioned for. One was George Clooney's character (at least it would be him in the movie, don't think he was at the auditions) cutting in line in front of her at the airport and she would look at him and say "Fuck off" or "Fuck you", I can't remember which and does it really matter? I don't think so, it's George Clooney! Thankfully, I am glad she is not doing that scene because I know if it were me, we would have to do a gzillion retakes due to me saying "Fuck ME!" to George Clooney instead of what I was supposed to say.
  • Based on my Tuesday's Tribute to my favorite things, it seems most of us are amazed that we were ever able to exist without DVRs! I wonder what the next technological advancement will be that we can't "live without"?
  • There are a lot of things I like to be big, but you know one thing I really like to be big? Tips from my massage therapy clients. I like those to be really BIG!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And the fun starts with a missing shoe...

My kids are on Spring Break this week. We didn't go anywhere because I couldn't convince my three boys that the warm sunny beaches of Florida were more fun than ... wait for it ... the Great Wolf Lodge. If you are not familiar with the Great Wolf Lodge, you are probably familiar with the same concept of a different name; AKA indoor waterpark with an overpriced hotel room. This is our third year going to the GWL for a spring break visit. The fiirst time we went was when we lived in KS. Now we live within ten minutes of a GWL and we pay several hundred dollars to stay one night, and swim and eat for two days just TEN MINUTES FROM HOME! We were joined by two sets of neighbors and their kids, so you know a good time was had by all!

This year we spent the few extra bucks for a separate sleeping area for all three boys. In the past, CJ would sleep with us, and the older two in their area, but this year we thought he would enjoy being with the big boys. Ha! He layed in his sleeping area for about ten minutes, watching TV with the big bros and then appeared next to my side of the bed and said "Can I sleep with you?" "Why?" was my response. "Because I want to sleep close to you." So I made him a bed on the couch. He's so cute.

Oh, and about that missing shoe. I needed to exchange a pair of swimtrunks for CJ, so we did it on the way to GWL. I had him change in the parking lot by the van and then we were off to the hotel. We start piling out of the van and all of a sudden we hear "Where's my other shoe?" What? Other shoe? Isn't it on your foot? I often wondered how one loses ONE shoe. You know, when you see one shoe on the side of the road. Didn't the shoe owner notice it go flying out of the window? Didn't they notice they were wearing ONLY ONE SHOE? Apparently it's not a big deal, because when I got back to the parking lot of the mall, there was CJ's ONE shoe right where he left it. Back to the hotel and we were good to go.

There are so many things to learn at a place like this. I am reminded that while I do not have the body of a stealth athlete, I do look better than the majority of women who are at GWL, many who are a good 10-15 years younger than I am. My husband is reminded that he does not ever want to achieve man boobs. I am reminded that some people should use that several hundred dollars they just spent on a hotel room, indoor swim park and meals and instead buy themselves a set of teeth.

This year, immediately after walking into the indoor water park, I felt like I was suffocating. I am not sure if it was the smell of chlorine or that my swimsuit is a little tighter than last year and it was doing a great imitation of a boa constrictor and squeezing my ribcage so tight that my lungs were collapsing. Either way, I survived and it felt good to get out into the air, sans swimsuit.

Here are some photos from our GWL adventure. We took our pocket sized camera instead of my awesome new camera. It's just pictures of the kids. If you want to see the waterpark, click on the Great Wolf Lodge link in my first paragraph.




Apparently Sous Chef didn't hear me say "smile!" I promise, he really did have a blast!

CJ on the lily pads.

Within five minutes of walking in the door this afternoon, Big E got a message that a friend of his is going to GWL and wanted to know if Big E could go, too. So he gets another trip to GWL before Spring Break is over.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday's Tribute: My Favorite Things

Tuesday's Tribute
Yet Another Jay and Deb Production.

Tuesday's Tribute is a day to pay tribute to something or someone.  I've done tributes to the good, the bad and the ugly.  Ok, maybe not the ugly and I won't be addressing that today, either.  I am having a hard time picking just one thing, so I thought today I would share some of my favorite things.  Obviously, my family would be at the top of the list, but I am leaving them out because I talk about them enough and I just posted photos on Sunday and quite frankly, that's enough visuals of us for now.

So here goes, in no particular order:
Germano's - Mama Germano still makes the desserts every day!
Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse - LOVE this place.

This little flavorite (yes, I did really mean to type flavorite!) explains the extra pounds I have packed on recently.  And dammit, I just had a coupon for "buy one, get one free" so I won't be putting them down anytime soon!  Oh, and I don't even like potato chips ... until now.

Yum.  If you are going to make iced tea, these are the ONLY tea bags to use.  Don't forget the filtered water, that nasty tap water will ruin your flavor!


Splash a little coke in with this guy and YUM. Warning:  too much causes stupidity during use and mind numbing headaches the following day.





Hmmm...I'm getting a little concerned that all of my favorites have to do with food and drinks.  Maybe I should think of something else.

This represents SPRING with all of the trees that are in full white bloom lining our subdivsion streets. 

I love a warm, beautiful beach and a relaxing vacation.  I am SO looking forward to a Hawaiian vacation this fall with my BFF.

Not only do I love this book, but I love to read in general!  Hand me a good book and I can disappear for quite a while.  Often, my kids are running totally amuck, making all kinds of noise and living off of pop-tarts while I sit on the couch totally entranced with a good book!







DVR.  Does there need to be an explanation?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Here they are, dressed in their Easter tie-dyes.  We don't let Easter get past us without projecting our hippy selves onto our kids!  The suburbs may have gotten us to conform somewhat, but never 100%.

Here we are using my new camera with the timer.  We weren't really sure what we were doing and therefore my husband looks like he is thinking "hmmm...I wonder if this will work?" and I am thinking "I just need to keep smiling because I can't tell if the camera is taking our picture or not!"

Here we are outside.  Our neighbor took this photo.  It was windy and we were rather cold!

Here are my Easter toes.  First toe painting of the year.  (Yes, I do have a 5th toe just like everyone else, it's just inside my shoe and doesn't peek out of this shoe with the rest of my toes!)

What?  You're thinking "I thought she had all boys?"  The answer is "As a matter of fact, I do have all boys."  But one of them, CJ, couldn't bear not having his toenails painted last night when I did mine.  They looked lovely with his sandals today for church.  He was in the bathtub playing so long this morning that some of his nail polish started "drying up" as he called it.  I'm not sure why he has his toes all curled under, he really doesn't have toes that go in all different directions like this picture shows them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

1 out of 3

Clickety clack, clickety, clack.  Or wast it more of a clunkity clunk, clunkity clunk?  I'm not sure, but at one point, I thought my grocery cart sounded like it had a square wooden wheel.  Oh, maybe better luck next time.  Nope, squeak, squeak, squeak.  Or was it something else I can't even describe?  The third time?  My cart purred like a kitten!

Why is it almost every time, well, apparently 66% of the time, I go to the grocery store, I get a disabled and noisy cart?  And you know what else bugs me? You never really know it until you have pulled far enough away from the cart corral that you would look like a total idiot returning your cart and trying out different and better ones.  Is that better or worse than walking through the entire grocery store with a cart that draws attention, not just to you, but to what is IN your cart?

Three stores yesterday.  Three carts.  Two were noisy and disabled.  I was thankful it was just the noise and the bumping.  It's really a pain in the ass when you get one that doesn't steer correctly and you don't realize it until you have gone down the straight aisle all the way to the end of the store and then tried to hang a left with a cart that doesn't know how to turn!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Fragments

Check out Mrs. 4444 for other Friday Fragments fun!
  • I have decided over the next month or so, I am going to visit all of my followers blogs and leave at least one comment! Look for me to visit your place.
  • I am really good at multi-tasking. I think it has to do with my (self-diagnosed) ADD. The bad part is that I get so many things going at once, I move from one thing to the other and it may take a while to come back to where I started. Also, do you know how many times I move clothes from the washer to the dryer, start a new load of clothes and then walk away? Do you see what step I missed? STARTING THE DRYER. I come back when the washer dings so I can switch the clothes over only to find a dryer full of wet clothes. That sucks big time and slows me down, which I don't like.
  • If you have feet that smell like stinky parmesan cheese, please for the love of God, spray them - with Lysol, bug spray, ANYTHING - before coming to me for a massage.
  • Speaking of massages, one of my colleagues came into the breakroom carrying the sheets from his table, his face contorted in disgust, and screaming "Look at this!" to anyone who would listen, and look. Oh, how I wish I had not looked. The sheets had human skidmarks on them. It looked like the client had wiped his ass with the sheets before leaving the room. My guess is he had a dingleberry or two and when he slid off the table, he left that little trail of grossness. Gag.
  • CJ told me "You are a good mom." This is a new phrase in his line of maternal affirmations - "You're hair is pretty." "You are pretty." "I love you MORE!" "I like x" and the "x" is whatever I am wearing that day. I love this kid.
  • Thursday, I laid down on the couch and fell asleep. When I woke up, I noticed a kid at the other end sound asleep. CJ had crawled onto the couch with me, without waking me up and he fell right to sleep. I am guessing that was somewhere around 2:30 because at 2:15 I was awake and at 3:15 I woke up and he was there and looked like he had been there a while. He slept until 5:15, woke up and said "Can I have some waffles?" because he thought he had slept through the night and it was breakfast time.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Entertaining

I really like to have people over to my house for whatever reasons.  I try to host something at least once a month, but often more than that.  It might be something simple like book club or a small dinner or it might be something big, like a Holiday Party.  I know many people who don't like to entertain.  They think their house isn't big enough or not decorated nice enough or they can't cook or their house is perfect and they don't want anyone to mess it up.  Well, my house is not huge, it certainly has not been decorated by a professional nor is it anywhere near perfect.  And anyone who would turn their nose up to any of that is welcome to leave at any time.  I can cook, but don't always do it.  (Example, last night at book club, everything I had was bought at the store - desserts, dips, etc.  I did put them out on pretty plates, though!) 

You may be thinking I like to entertain just because I am social.  That is part of it.  But I will let you in on a little secret.  Don't tell anyone.  I entertain at my house because it FORCES ME TO CLEAN.  There, I said it for the whole world to know.  I hate to clean.  I love a clean house.  But often, as in the last few weeks since this event, I haven't cleaned. I've picked up a little here and there.  I've loaded and unloaded the dishwasher.  I've done laundry.  But things were starting to clutter, crumbs were building up in the carpet and hiding out in the tile grout, not to mention the little splashes and spills lingering on the tile.  And the toilet.  Well, I won't even go there.  There is nothing worse than a dirty bathroom!

I hosted book club last night so I cleaned.  I vaccumed, dusted, cleaned the bathroom, mopped, cleaned up the clutter and threw out most of it.  (Why do I even let it pile up?  Am I really going to need that shit?  Apparently not, because after it sits there for a while, it all goes in the trash, where it should have gone to start with!)  Now my house is clean. And for the next few days, I will be motivated to keep it that way.  I will enjoy every minute of walking into my house, into a room, that is clean, straightened and I can see the vacuum marks in the rug.  And then the weekend will come, Spring Break will start, and all hell will break loose.  I will be back where I started until I host another get together at my house.  I better get that on the calendar right now so I can guarantee my house will get cleaned later this month...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

E & C people

Growing up, there were those families/people who were E & C people - Easter and Christmas church goers.  You know your church has them, too!  Recently, I thought I was going to have to confess to being an E & C church goer.  But I realized I can't even confess to that.  Since moving back to Ohio, we have officially become E church goers.  Yep.  Shame on us.  We didn't event attend church during the advent season OR on Christmas.  That leaves us as Easter church goers.  That was the last time we were at church - last Easter.  I would like to do better, but I am having a hard time of it.  I LOVED our church in Kansas.  The pastor was awesome, we knew people there, the kids had friends in Sunday School that they went to elementary school with, it was a six minute drive.  We sat with the same people each week and I loved hearing her voice.  I often just mouthed the words so I could listen to her sing.

Now we are back in Ohio and officially members of the church we left when we moved to KS.  It's a nice church and I do know people there.  Many from before we left, some are good friends from my old neighborhood.  I still chat with them, but not at or about church.  I need to get over comparing our current church to our KS church, but I can't.  I sit there and think "oh, I liked the way we did it at Holy Cross much better" or "this is nothing compared to the music at Holy Cross" or "our pastor at Holy Cross rocked.  This one, not so much."  I won't go into all of the details about my husband and his views on church, but I can say, he actually liked listening to our pastor in KS.  Our pastor here?  Eh.  Let's just say he doesn't motivate us to get up early on a Sunday morning and get prettied up and load three kids into the car on a cold Sunday morning. 

And now that I have said all that, I also need to admit I haven't given this church much of a chance.  I am still mourning the loss of Holy Cross.  So this Easter, we will attend church.  And I hope my husband and I can start making it a Sunday tradition again.  I want my kids to be there.  I want them to know the Bible and the history and the lessons.  If we can't get back into the swing of it this year, though, in the fall my oldest will start Confirmation Classes and then we will be forced to be involved.  I hope it doesn't take that, though, to get us back into the swing of going to church.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday's Tribute: Lands' End

Tuesday's Tribute
Yet Another Jay and Deb Production.

God bless Jay at Halftime Lessons. For those of us who are not creative enough to come up with our own topics for a Tuesday's Tribute, he is now assigning a topic for us slackers. He's polite and calls it a "prompt" but I think it's meant for people like me who have been writing horribly lame posts. (I kid, Jay! Not about my horribly lame posts, but about your reasons for coming up with a prompt.) It's a little blah over here at Under the Influence these days and I am glad I have Jay to prod me along.

So the assignment prompt Jay gave us today is: Someone in retail that really helped, OR who REALLY pissed you off...

Since lately most of my shopping has been online and the shopping I have done in stores has been quite pleasant (well, I mean the service has been quite pleasant. The ability to find something I like AND that fits me has not been so pleasant.), I will focus on retail help via the telephone. This person is known as the Customer Service Rep. (For some really funny CSR stories, visit Soggy-Doggy Bloggy here and here. She is a CSR and she makes me giggle when she tells stories of crappy customers. Because of her industry, I KNOW I am not one of them!).

Lands' End has the most awesome CSRs and service in general. Buy something you don't like? No problem, send it back with the preprinted return label that comes with your item(s). Call them to tell them your child's backpack, that is gently used, as in three years old but well taken care of!, has a broken zipper and ask for help how to fix it/get it fixed and voila, a brand new backpack is on it's way, PRONTO and with a smile. Don't have your receipt? Just give them your name and they can pull up all of your orders for the last two years or so. They rock!

I recently had to call them twice in a very short time span. First, I ordered a bunch of stuff, got FREE shipping, and then the very next day, everything I ordered went on sale. One quickie phone call and I was reimbursed over $40.00. Once I received the order, I realized I will need to send some stuff back and order some different sizes. No problem. A five minute phone call and my items are on their way. They'll be here in approximately three days, FREE shipping again. The best part is, it is always hassle free. It's not like other places, say, oh, the cable company, where you have to throw a fit, curse and threaten to hunt them down in a dark alley to go to the competitor before you can get what you want. At Lands' End, you just tell the CSR what you need, what your problem is and they take care of it. I wonder what else those Lands' End CSRs can do? I need help in a lot of other areas, too.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm fried.

I am. I had a super busy week last week with lots of "responsibilities" on the list. I hate having a "to do" list. I managed to get through it all but did skip miss a meeting.  To do lists are so much pressure for someone like me who feels like I have to scratch everything off or move it to the next list.  I am getting much better though and admitting when something on the list just isn't going to get done and so I scratch it off anyway.  At least it looks like it was completed when I do that.

And what's up with this shitty weather? I wouldn't consider cold and snow shitty if it was December or January.  Hell, at this point, even if it was March! Come on Mother Nature, it's APRIL and I am looking out the window at fucking snow flurries. We couldn't get a lick of snow at Christmas and now that April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, what do we get? SNOW. It's only flurries and I think that's all it will be, but still. I've been so peeved about this that last night I dreamt (is that word?) that I got up this morning and there was about six inches of snow on the ground. I woke up all sweaty, panting and wild eyed all because of a dream about snow.  Ok, it wasn't really that bad, but you get the picture.

Here are some pictures from the outdoor adventure camp.  They had a blast, so that is some good news I can write about instead of all my bitchy, whiny stuff above.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

It's a party!

Sous Chef turned nine in December.  December 20 to be exact.  A birthday at that time of year makes it hard to have a party.  So we did it today.  We don't go all out every year by renting a facility geared towards kids and enteraining them.  Gasp.  Choke.  Shame on us.  I know many parents find this appalling, but that's the way it is.  (And to add insult to injury, we don't do goodie bags either.  Really, what nine year old wants a baggie full of stickers, pencils and other shit?  If the two games of laser tag and the gzillion tokens to play video games wasn't enough, too bad, kids!  Most of that gets thrown out anyway.  C'mon, admit it parents, you THROW IT AWAY.  On a sidenote, when we have done "goodie bags," it wasn't a bag but we gave each child three gift certificates to McDonald's, which would get them a kids meal.  We heard so many THANK YOUs from parents who were so glad to not have goodie bags and crap to clutter their house and end up in the garbage.  Several times I was told, "I'm going to steal your idea!")  We don't blow off birthdays, we do it up nicely the day of and we have the family over for dinner, etc., we just don't go all out every year. In 2007, which would have been Sous Chef's year for a party, he did not have a party at all.  We had just moved, we were getting settled, getting ready for Christmas and decided, like always, to have it later.  We thought we would have a pool party, which was great and didn't even really fall into the "large" party category as we have a subdivsion pool at our disposal all summer at no cost (at least not beyond the oodles we pay in HOA fees).  Well, summer came and went and the poor kid never got to celebrate his b-day with a "friend" party. 

So this year, when he normally wouldn't have anything big, we did it.  We had ten kids total (which included ours) to go play a couple of rounds of Laser Tag and video games.  It was so fun and Sous Chef had a blast.  Which is good, because starting next year he is back to the no "smaller" celebration of having a friend or two stay all night and play video games or go to a movie!  As it turns out though, that is pretty much like every weekend at our house...

Here are some pictures:

This is the whole group.  Sous Chef is in the white shirt, Big E is in the front with all the hair (my hubs said he Big E is starting to look like Jim Morrison!).  CJ is behind Big E with his hands covering his face.
Here is everyone again.
Sous Chef putting out a fire in a video game.
CJ getting vested up for a game of laser tag.
Sous Chef showing off how he can put his foot behind his neck.  He's a limber little guy!  Maybe someday he can turn that into a money maker and MG and I can retire in style.  Or maybe not.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thoughts in my head...

(If you are looking for Friday Fragments, please scroll down.)

I have two major thoughts in my head today that I just can't shake.  They're not something I expect y'all to be interested in or to pursue further information on, but since I started this blog to be able to clear my thoughts, that is what I am going to do.

I found out this morning a guy I grew up with passed away last night.  I knew this was coming and have been waiting for the news.  I have known him since kindergarten.  As time went on, we were not necessarily friends, but we did run in some of the same circles in HS.  In elementary school, he was the cute boy that everyone wanted to hang with.  All the girls giggled and got flustered when he was around.  In 5th grade or so, I lost out to a student council election to him!  Other things I remember about him is that he was quite the accomplished soccer player in our HS years.  He was also still a cutie.  He was nice and fairly soft spoken, but had a wild side. (Okay, maybe it was ME who had the wild side!)  I remember being at his house for a party in HS and puking on his driveway because I drank too much.  He is also one of 13 or so kids in his family.  When we were in late elementary or early junior high school, his mom gave birth to their youngest child on the same day as one of their daughters-in-law.  The mothers shared a room.  Imagine, having a baby on the same day you welcome your first grandchild into the world!  He came from a family of doctors.

So where did it go wrong?  After HS he abused and became addicted to drugs.  I don't remember which ones, but I remember them being the "big" ones, meth or something like that.  Right before our 20th HS reunion, he had a major stroke and barely made it through that.  He never totally recovered, from what I heard.  His family has a history of heart disease and the combination of it all finally took his life.  It's sad and I don't know 100% of the details.  I don't think I have seen him since HS, just have heard the stories.  There are more, but I don't think this is the place to go into it, especially since I don't know if everything I hear is true.  But I can say this, it makes me sad.  Not just that he seems to have wasted his life, but that his family is having to deal with this.

The second thing I can't stop thinking about is this case.  I have been following it pretty closely.  I was so sure they would find him innocent.  I wanted them to be able to say without a doubt that he was innocent.  I do not know this man, but I know a couple of people who know him, the victim and the parents.  The people who know him and knew them as a couple don't believe he could have done this.  The evidence seems "iffy," to me, for a conviction.  Of course, I've only heard what the news has reported, but still.  I'm glad I was not on this jury, but I would like to know what they heard or saw the convinced them this man murdered his young wife.  And I can't keep thinking "what if he is innocent?"  How awful to be charged with the murder of a loved one when you know you didn't do it.  The frustration, the anger, that must go with that.  How does one live with that?  How do the family members live with that?  How do the jurors live with that?  They must have been convinced 100% or they wouldn't have convicted, right?

Friday Fragments

TGIF!  Visit Mrs. 4444 for other fragmented Fridays!
  • I am a little disturbed by the government being so involved in businesses.  Bailouts everywhere, first with the Bush administration back in the fall.  Now more bailouts with our current administration.  Earlier this week, after the forced resignation of the GM CEO, I heard there will actually be government officials in Detroit to help the automakers with their business plans to help them prevent bankruptcy.  Hello?  Has anyone taken a look at our government - current and past?  They aren't exactly the epitome of getting their shit together.  I'm just not sure they should be the ones telling the executives how to run a business.  If the companies go bankrupt, so be it.  That's what happens when you lie, cheat, steal and make an inferior product at the expense of the consumer.  I realize it may not be in the best interest of the country, or the global economy, to allow these huge corporations to go under, but I don't think the government stepping in and running the show is the best answer either.  As you can see, I don't know what the answer is.  I guess if I did, I could be hired and make the big bucks like all these other people...
  • Our Coldplay tickets came in the mail this week!  I also noticed New Kids on the Block tickets are going on sale.  Do people really pay to see them?
  • I have talked to MG while he and Big E are on a school field trip to an outdoor adventure camp.  They have been scoping out places in the woods for their roles in the Underground Railroad re-enactment.  I was informed there is "no way" I would do the zip line because of how high it is.  I don't like heights.  I don't mind as long as I am in something - building, plane, etc.  Anytime my feet are dangling or I feel like I could fall, I about faint.  The big excitement was one of the kids in MG and Big E's cabin had a bloody nose episode.  It was so bad he had to be rushed to the hospital.  MG said he had not ever seen so much blood, which is saying something since he as watched me birth our three kids.  Thankfully, the other cabin chaperone is the asst. principal of Sous Chef's school.  His daughter is at the camp, too.  He knew exactly what to do in such a situation.  The kid eventually made it back to camp and has some meds to help his nose.  Apparently nosebleeds for this little guy are fairly common, but this one was particularly unstoppable.  I am surprised my husband didn't pass out, bump his head and also need to be rushed off to the ER.
  • Stop by Julie's place at 47 And Starting Over. It's her blogiversary and she would like to receive 100+ comments today!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Skyline Chili

Here in my little part of Ohio, you can't drive down the street without seeing a Skyline Chili.  My burb alone has two of them.  What is Skyline Chili, you ask?  Well, it's definitely a local, and now regional, thang.  It's not chili like most people know it.  It's more of a sauce that originally was poured over spaghetti (called Ways) and hot dogs (called Coneys).  With the spaghetti, you can get a 3 Way (spaghetti, chili and cheese), 4 Way (a 3 Way plus onions OR beans) and a 5 Way (a 3 Way with onions AND beans).  Over the years, their menu has diviersified to include salads, sandwiches, burritos and potatoes.  All incorporate the chili into them.  Sous Chef and CJ both love Skyline.  My husband is a huge Skyline fan and I like it, but not as much as the others in my family.  Big E could do without, but he is so damn picky about food that we don't take his tastebuds into consideration when deciding if somehting is good or not.

I have my own theory about people who like Skyline.  There are two kinds of people who like it.  The first are those who grew up in this area (years ago, this was the ONLY place to get Skyline.  It has now branched out to most of Ohio, a large part of KY and parts of Indiana.  There are even several Florida locations.). 

I fall into the second category of Skyline eaters - those who were drunk the first time they had it.  There is a Skyline location right by University of Cinti's campus and it stayed open until 4:00AM to catch all the drunken college kids on their way home from the bars and parties.  I remember the first time I went there and my BFF started screaming "I got two weenies!" because there were indeed, two weenies in her bun.  (That sounds kind of naughty!)  (I am sure she would chime in here with a more clear version of this story since I was probably sitting at the table with my head down trying not to pass out.  However, she is in Australia for her family's Spring Break!)

Anyway, if you don't fall into one of these two categories, you'd probably do what my transient friends from the nether parts of the country do after they eat Skyline.  Vomit.  Yep, I have at least three friends in this category.  They were pregnant at the time, so that may have something to do with it, but nonetheless, they are not Skyline eaters and can't even stand the smell.

I can also attest to the cleansing effect that Skyline has on one's colon, especially when eaten after a night of gluttonous drinking!

When we lived in Kansas City, my mom would bring cans of Skyline to us.  You can buy it in the stores here, including places like Sam's Club and Costco.  I think Sous Chef would have had detox issues if he had not been able to have Skyline while living away from here.  Here he is after eating some homemade Skyline.

Notice he even has some up under his eye!  He LOVES this stuff.

Here are pictures from our meal the other night, taken with my new camera, of course.  I think the employees thought I was a little odd taking pictures of our food!

5 Way over a Baked Potato
Sous Chef eating his oyster crackers with hot sauce.
CJ's Hot Doggy Platter (two hot dogs and some cheese)
5 Way Chili Spaghetti
5 Way Spaghetti all mixed up.  Looks delicious, eh?
Maybe next time I'll write about Graeter's Ice Cream, another local favorite.  They make French Pot Ice Cream and only make two gallons at a time.  I can attest to the fact that this ice cream is THE BEST EVER!
What types of foods are exclusive to where you live?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Outdoor Adventures

Big E left this morning for a three day field trip with his class (not all 850 kids in his class, but his team, which is about 75 kids).  It's at an outdoor adventure camp - zip lines, obstacle courses, dirt, mud.  Thank the heavens above my husband volunteered as a chaperone for this trip, because I would have HATED EVERY MINUTE of it.

I am a bad mommy when it comes to stuff like this.  I don't mind the outdoors, when it involves the 85 degree weather with a slight breeze, the beach, cabana boys and drinks wtih umbrellas.  I can do an amusement park like nobody else (even if I can't ride the rides thanks to the permanent brain alteration of two surgeries!).  I can walk 20 miles a day for three days and sleep in a tent, shower in a semi-truck that has been converted to a shower truck, and eat on the ground - two years in a row.  I can do a lot of things  But the thought of sleeping in cabins with a group of kids (I assume they would have put me with 6th grade girls, which I have to say, would have been fun to hear their night time talk and all) and having to climb, jump, run fall, zipline and who knows what else, all outside, makes me so happy I didn't sign up for this one!  My husband will love it though!

The one part I would like to see is when they re-enact the Underground Railroad.  Here in SW Ohio, being that we are just across the river from "the south" (Kentucky), this area was alive with the Underground Railroad and getting slaves out of the south.  We even have the Freedom Center, which addresses not just the Underground Railroad and past slavery, but slavery in our current times as well.  Anyway, they will role play what it was like - hiding, being a slave, being the people who were trying to hide and protect slaves and provide them their passage to freedom.  Apparently it's pretty intense and they will wear bandanas to signify how much they want to participate at any given time.  If they are "in" the role play, the bandana is on their head.  If it gets too much and they only want to observe, they place the bandana around their neck.  If and when they want to join back in, they put the bandana back onto their head.  I would have liked to have seen this, to participate in this, to see how the kids handle this.  Our community is so sheltered, our kids are so sheltered.  It will be good for them and I believe it is something that will stay with them for a long time.

I can't wait to hear about it.  I hope that part at least makes me a good mommy!