Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last Day to Vote For Me!

Today is the last day to vote in the Talbot's Denim Contest. If you have a second, click on over to Red Chair Confessions and click "Like" on my story. After you get done voting, check out some of the posts there. I have recently been bitten by the Talbot's Love Bug (more on this later) and I would love to share some of the love with you. I absolutely adore this jacket (that color is divine), this coat may be my dream come true, and I just drooled on my desk while looking at this dress.

Product Reviews: Benefit Magic Ink

I consider myself a smart girl. I went to college (you can imagine me saying that a la Plankton from Spongebob), I read, I like correcting other people's grammar on Facebook. But. I can be swayed by any kind of above average marketing. Got a product that you think is awesome? Talk to me about it in an excited tone, and get out your wallet. I'll pony up. I'll stand there all bright eyed and accept everything you are saying. Even if I know better. Yup. Couple this with very poor impulse control, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Another thing that I just fall for hook line and sinker is cute packaging. I would buy a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich (with arsenic sauce) if it were packaged in a becoming way. Not kidding. Perhaps that is why I am mildly obsessed with Benefit Cosmetics.

Well, I take that back. I came to them because I liked the cheeky packaging. I stayed for dinner because they are actually good. When I lived in CA, I went to their Berkeley store to get my eyebrows done and to purchase goodies fairly regularly. The first time I went in, I had just moved, and I was a 22 year old CA newcomer, fresh out of college. The girl behind the counter took pity on me (she should have--I was a mess) and told me that every bit of make-up I had on was just wrong. Then she redid my face. This, my friends, was a turning point for me. My self-confidence went up about 800,000 points. I will never forget that day. So even though Benefit constantly charms me with their packaging, I can safely say that they back it all up with amazing products and awesome people staffing their stores/counters.

The bad news about all this is that I now live in the Middle of Nowhere. The closest Benefit counter is an hour and a half away. Therefore, as with the case of most of my prestige make-up collection, Benefit has been replaced by things I can just pick up wherever. I know, I know...Sephora order. And I do that for things that are a sure thing. But there is something about picking up make-up when you are seduced by a color, a package, a promise. That is why I prefer doing it in person. Just a personal preference.

However, I got the Ulta mailer last month and saw that Benefit had some new liquid eyeliner out. I immediately thought, "That looks like something that I would have bought back in CA." And then I thought, "And why not buy it here?" No, I haven't been doing my make-up as much as I did before--experimenting with new things, breaking out the smoky eye on the regular. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't start. I ordered it. And I got a free lipgloss for ordering it through Ulta. Free stuff = awesome stuff.

Benefit Magic Ink is a liquid liner. A stay proof one. This should absolutely scare the pants off of me. But, for some reason, liquid liner to me is very easy. I have a much harder time with an eyeliner pencil. In fact, I think I have just two eyeliner pencils in my whole collection (one from Bourjois and one from Avon), and they don't see the light of day that much. I have used other liquid liners in the past (Maybelline and L'Oreal), and never had that much of an issue. In relation, Magic Ink reminds me of the Maybelline formula. It is the same kind of brush applicator (not the felt pen kind) and goes on just as smoothly. The thing about Magic Ink though, is that it lasts. Forever. It doesn't flake, it doesn't budge. It is just ON. I wore it to a concert and it was still on when I returned home at 4 am the next morning. Plus, the black stays true. It is just as black when you take it off as it when you put it on.

Here's a secret: I am thinking of trying it and doing winged eyeliner. Has anyone else done this? How crazy would that be? I am thinking winged eyeliner, light pink lipstick, black turtleneck and this skirt. Maybe a messy updo on top. Who is with me?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Sam!

Today is my son, Sam's, 7th birthday. I am taking shark cupcakes to his class and then I am picking him up early from school and we are going to Toys R Us and Chuck E Cheese's. You can totally tell he is my child because this morning in the car, he said, "Mom do you have that coupon to that place with the cool shirts in the mall? Because I might like to get a cool shirt for picture day." He is talking about the Gap and their 40% off Wednesday coupons. And yes, Sam, I do!

I don't want to be all sappy Mom on here, but Sam amazes me every day. He is bright in a quirky, fun way--never pretentious or self-aware. He is also incredibly sensitive, a feature that doesn't often jive with his tough, boyish exterior. His feelings can get hurt remarkably fast, and he is always thinking of those around him. This is probably my favorite thing about him. I remember the day he was born--I was reading The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I joked around that we should name him Ernest or Jack (after the protagonist in the book) because of it, and how I wouldn't do that to him because I didn't want him to turn out as some super-masculine dude. It pleases me that he is not, but I do worry about that sensitivity sometimes. Some girl will break his heart someday. Actually, probably a lot of girls. And I will have to go to jail for murder when I catch up with her (just joking--violence is not the answer).

Anyway, last night Sam showed me this book he has where he writes down his favorite things and makes predictions and things like that. I loved a few of the things. Here are some of the things that he has written:

I officially predict that 20 years from now, cars will run on ham instead of gas and underwear will be made of wood. (I kinda hope he's wrong on this.)
Favorite TV show: Batman
Band: White Zombie (yup)
Sports Team: A's
Food: Hot Dogs
Celebrity: Elvis (he he)
Smell: Bacon
Shoe Brand: Skechers
Store: Toys R Us
Cereal: Cocoa Puffs
Super Hero: Batman

I am going to make a copy of this list, and when he turns 18, I'm going to show him. I'm eager to see how much things change. Or actually, I'm not eager. I want him to stay like he is, this perfect little being of light and hope, forever. Since I know that isn't possible, I'm content to just watch him grow and blossom and change and be eternally happy that I get to spend my life with him.

One thing I hope doesn't change is that sports team. Because if this kid became a Red Sox fan, I would die 10,000 deaths. And then I would go on a murderous rampage. In that case, violence, indeed, would be the answer.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

30 B4 30: Red Lipstick

As part of my 30 Before 30 list, I have "Wear red lipstick." This is something I have tried very briefly before. When CoverGirl came out with that lipstick that is supposed to look good on everyone (well, 99% of people), I bought the Valentine Red version. Turns out I was the 1% who looked like ass in it. I chalked it up to junk science and the tendency I had for putting my lipstick on in a car that is hurtling down the freeway at 75-80 mph. I did it that one time, forgot about it, and moved on.

I put this on the list though because I love the classic-ness of red lipstick. It is one of my favorite looks, no matter the season, no matter what. I always flock to that page in the magazine, to that character in the movie. Red lipstick is just what I like. And the funny thing is, in my regular life, I'm a pretty non-red lipstick kind of girl. I generally wear neutral shades of make-up and lipgloss is what I almost always buy for lip cover (I actually think that last tube of "lipstick" that I bought was that Valentine Red crap). But, whatever, the case, I'm a tinge obsessed with red, so it is on the list.

I read an article in Bazaar or some such publication a while ago about red lipstick and they had all kinds of tips for achieving the look. I went out and bought one of the products they listed: Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in Top Tomato. I liked it because it was listed as "the classic shade" and because the liquid formula wasn't so unlike the gloss that I normally go to. I thought it would be easier for me to apply if it was a familiar formula.

Well, not so much. I put it on carefully, but still it looked kind of...blotchy. In places it was very red, but in others it was thin. I tried to go back over it to even it out, but that didn't look the best either. I think I need to get some lipliner (EEK!!! LIPLINER!--Is anyone else irrationally afraid of lipliner? Because I had this cousin with that ubiquitous brown ring around her mouth--EEK!!! LIPLINER!!!) to give myself a clearly defined border around the lip. There's a thin line between "artfully applied" and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, you know? Anyway, I got it on. But I still wasn't so sure. Some of it, I think, is the shock factor. It is something to get used to, looking in the mirror and seeing something so...bright. Especially when you are the Queen of Planet Neutral. And then...well, I think it changed colors.

In this picture (from a previous post), you can see what it looked like about an hour or so after I put it on. And it is kind of...pinkish. Like fuschia. Like old lady fuschia. Amirite? Part of this, I think, is because I tried to wipe it off a bit. And honey, this shit wasn't about to budge. ColorStay? Try ColorForever Until You DIE. After I noticed the fushia-ness of it all, I tried rubbing my lips with everything save a porcupine. Like your unemployed brother in law with a severe video game addiction, it wasn't going ANYWHERE. My lips were still pretty bright when we arrived at Ikea, a 3 hour drive and several drinks and one meal later. Revlon is all up on that truth in advertising stuff. Perhaps if I had reapplied instead of frantically trying to get it off, it would have looked more red and less "Are you bringing that chicken casserole, Hazel?"

The other issue is how I did the rest of my make-up. Because I'm a little afraid of the red still, I tried to tone everything else down. I did some kind of matte foundation (Loreal True Match but in a paler shade than I might otherwise do in the late summer/early fall), pearly eyeshadow (Cover Girl French Vanilla, I think) with a very, very thin line of black liquid eyeliner (Benefit Magic Ink--review to come) and Maybelline The Falsies mascara, and the smallest smattering of Nars Orgasm. I think I needed more Orgasm (and really, who doesn't?). Usually when I wear this shade of make-up, I brighten the whiteness with the blush to make everything look more natural. I was scared to do that with the red. In the future, I'm going to add more of the Nars. And the foundation will look better as we get deeper into fall and the small bit of sun I got over the summer fades even more. I did like the eyes.

Now, despite this experience, I'm not giving up on the red. At all. I'm not even giving up on this particular tube. Next time, I'm going to use lipliner, and add more, more, more. Yup. It's going to get CRAZY up in here. But not cat-lady-fuschia crazy. Lenin and Mao go out for cocktails RED crazy. If that doesn't work, I'm going to go to a professional and have them show me what I'm doing wrong. And possibly pony up for a full on red makeover.

Because it it is on a list, by crackies, I'll do it. For science! And awesomeness! Away!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

Our weekend started early because the kids (and I) got out at noon on Friday. The kids went up to my mother in law's house for a while, and I went shopping for birthday party stuff. I was fully planning to find my son a Star Wars cake pan to make his cake. Yeah, that didn't happen. I ended up doing ok with what I had, but I was STRESSED THE EFF OUT. I finally came home (after spending way too much money and time) and cleaned and baked until I went to bed at midnight.

The next morning I cleaned and cooked more. The party was 12:00, so it was a mad dash to get everything done. However, when the kids and family members go to the house, thing went smoothly. You can read more about my son's birthday party in the following post if you are super interested. It was definitely a fun party. We ended up having guests until 4:30 or so. After that, I folded some laundry that I had done pre-party and then took Gabby to her ball game to cheer.

Now let me make a special note to all you parents out there: Try not to make an ass out of yourself at children's sporting events. Please? For me? The game was just all together uncomfortable. I happened to be sitting next to this real gem of a guy who just lost his ever loving mind on a kid who looked to be about 6-7 years old. Here's the thing guys--kids They are going to do some pretty crazy shit. And it is not going to make sense to you or me. Some of it will be pseudo-dangerous and the rest of it will just be insane. However, no matter what they do, it is not ok to get down and yell in their blubbering, sad little faces about what a disappointment they are. Especially when you are in public. Now, if you want to yell at your kids in private, ok, sure. That's not my choice in parenting, but whatevs. It is your kid. But in public? Come on, now. I'm pretty sure that that is how serial killers are made. In what possible universe can embarassing your child and making everyone else incredibly uncomfortable work as a discipline method? Yeah, there's not one. So, Football Game Douche, chill out. Maybe just sternly tell the kid what they are doing wrong, explain why it is wrong and then quietly tell them that you will talk about it later. They will get the message. And in 18 years, there won't be a Very Special Dateline about some kid who carves "I AM NOT A DISAPOINTMINT" into the backs of drifters, or at least, if there is, it won't be about your kid. Oh, and a note to the same family--it is September, folks. Let's maybe put shirts and shoes on our kids before they attend an outside function. Cool? Awesome.

*stepping off soap box*

Anyway, the game was wretched and awful. We lost 30-12 to the town's biggest rival. One mother almost got thrown out for yelling at the ref's. Sigh. I came home, ate some cake to assuage my nerves, watched some TV and went to bed.

On Sunday, it was rainy and gross outside. We stayed in during the morning. Alice and I catnapped and watched a truly awfully delicious Lifetime movie starring Hillary Swank as a rebellious teenager who swings a corded phone at her alcoholic mother and gets locked up for assault. After Alice got up from her nap, I took the girls and we went shopping. I had to get a blazer for a meeting I have later this week. We went to TJ Maxx and JESUS CHRIST ON A RUBBER CRUTCH! Now, I'm not what you would call a Maxxinista (or I haven't been in the past). I can pretty much count on my fingers the times that I've been in there even though I'm in that shopping center all the time to go to Target, Old Navy and PetSmart. It just seems like too much of a chore to go in and sift through the stuff looking for treasures. But I found SO MUCH STUFF. I ended up finding a Martin + Osa blazer for $20, a tweedy Calvin Klein dress with a studded belt for $50 and a pair of Enzo Angiolini peep toes in black suede for $30 (I have a pair exactly like those in orange croco and love them so you can imagine my happiness in finding the black ones). I was incredibly ecstatic. I am tempted to go back over there this afternoon without the girls (who were getting a bit restless) and see what other treasures I can turn up. I know they had some boots in the $70 range that looked nice, but I didn't really have the time to inspect them. And there was a London Times dress that I needed in the next size up that I didn't go back to look for but now think that I might be dreaming about it. There are a few trendy pieces I was thinking about looking for (military jacket--I have one that is a bit too baggy--fur vest, etc.) that would be cheaper there and probably cute. Anyway, it made my weekend. GET THEE TO A TJ MAXX!!! We then went to Target and I got some earrings and some socks for Alice and Gabby got a book. Gabby and I tried on some things, but no winners there. However, I only tried on two dresses and in one of them, someone had broken the zipper in the only one that was my size. Guess it just wasn't to be. We also did a quick walk through of Old Navy, but I had left Alice's stroller in the car and she was wiggly, so we didn't stay long. They looked to have some cute chunky cardigans if you are looking for that kind of thing. I might go back and look more if I go back today.

I stopped on the way home and got pizza and then we came home and I relaxed with some baseball and some magazines. All in all, it was a great weekend. Except for the fact that Alice is cutting not one, not two, NOT EVEN THREE, but FOUR teeth right now. Usually the only real way that you can tell that Al is teething is that she is up a lot to nurse during the night. So I'm pretty tired today (and my boobs are thinking of running off to join the circus), but I am wearing my Gap Modern Bootcut pants, and the twisted neck shell from Loft (no longer online) so at least I look cute. I would have worn the new dress and heels, but you should see the outside of my house--all rainy and muddy and blech. I didn't want to put my new shoes through that. So it is the old BR black slingbacks for today. They've lived through far worse!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to Host a Kid's Birthday Party Without an Anxiety Attack

That's my son in the middle, annhilating you with Silly String.
My son's birthday party was yesterday. We cleaned up our house, furiously cooked and decorated and then allowed it all to be eaten and demolished. Seriously. Right now, I am sitting in a pool of toys, deflated balloons, half-filled trash bags and sugar. My beautiful windows that look out onto a lovely view of the mountains below are speckled with Silly String. But, you know, it is fine. I don't care. Because Sam had an awesome, awesome party and it was something that he'll always remember.
Tips for having an amazing party:
1. Get thee a theme. At first, my son wanted to have a "History Party." This, my friends, was terribly tough because you can't find stuff to match that theme at a party store. You are probably thinking, "Well, Southern Belle, just use those creative juices and cook up some stuff." And that what I was going to do. But then we went to a party store, and Sam discovered the Star Wars stuff. This was perfect. We got the stuff we needed, all Star Wars themed and in 3D! It was easy to pick up and made the shopping/planning easier. If it wasn't Star Wars, we decided, we didn't need it. The only problem is that I couldn't find a cake pan for a Star Wars themed cake, so I had to improvise on that a bit. I ended up just drawing two crossed light sabers on the top of the cake which was about the easiest thing I could do (I can bake and ice a cake like no one's business, but a professional cake decorater I am not) and then plopping a Darth Vader toy that I found in the $1 section of Target on the top. Instant Star Wars.
2. Decide what is important. You can't do it all, surprisingly enough. Decide what is important to you. To my husband, it was making Sam's room clean and easy to play in, so he spent a lot of time making sure that Sam's toys were out of the floor and organized for easy playing. For me, of course, it was the food/cake. I seriously have nightmares about a member of my family having to eat some shortening shellacked monstrosity from a discount grocery store for their birthday. Decide what is important to you, and get help on all the other stuff.
3. Plan on not-planning. Kids will do what they want, regardless of what you have planned. What we did was to buy some "activites" (no planned games) and put them up on the bar (read: out of reach) from the kids. They could see them, and let us know what they wanted to do at any given time. We had Silly String, those little firecracker popper things that shoot streamers, a Darth Vader pinata and Star Wars coloring books and crayons. Try to pick at least one "quiet" activity they can do while they wait on the next sugar rush to hit. Also, don't forget that your kid has toys that they will want to play with. For instance, Sam has some light sabers and lighted sword thingies that were perfect for a party. We forgot about them, but Sam pulled them out to play with and the kids loved them. Go with what you got. Your kid may even find some discarded toy from years past that suddenly becomes SO FUN when played with with others. Or, they can take turns locking themselves in a wardrobe. Yup, they did that. But they had fun, so who gives?
4. Make sure you have food for kids and parents alike. The kids might want to sit down to some kind of actual meal (we had hot dogs), but chances are, the adults will just be sitting/standing around talking and will want a little snack. Plan on finger foods for them. One hit that we had for both age groups was fruit kabobs. Yup, just cut up fruit and put it on a stick and serve with some kind of dip. The adults liked it because they could eat it while standing, and the kids liked it because it was...on a stick. I just left the fruit out in my kitchen and made kabobs when I had a chance--they disappeared quickly and easily. Another thing to consider is dessert. Yes, you have to have a cake. We had two kinds--yellow cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting and the big cake that was chocolate with white buttercream. But some kids (and adults) are not wild about cake. At one of my daughter's parties in the past, I made a simple berry pie (with frozen berries, natch) and everyone loved it. It was a nice counterpoint to the super rich cake and ice cream. Other ideas are cookies (this is what I fixed for Sam's party), banana pudding, or chocolate dipped frozen bananas. The good thing about cookies is that they can also be little munchies for the kids to nosh on as the party is ending up. If you are worried about leftovers, just send a bag home with each family. They will be appreciative, and you don't have to worry about having a lot of extra sweets hanging around.
5. Invest in a cute apron. I have a great one from Ikea with cupcakes on it. The reason this is on the list is that you don't want to be that parent who ended up not having enough time to shower because they were getting ready to party and lost track of time. You also don't want to mess up your new True Religion jeans with flying cake batter. So take a shower early in the day, pull your hair back into something nice and respectable, put on earrings and lip gloss, and then strap on the apron. This is not just for cooking. The apron can also comes in handy for last minute cleaning and planning. And it is a good reminder to folks that you made the stuff at the party, so to aim their comments at you!
6. Give your kid one present from you that they really wanted, but save the rest for later. We allowed Sam to open his gifts from the party participants at the party, but didn't want to make them watch him open all his other stuff. Plus, his actual birthday is on Wednesday, so we wanted to wait for that. We gave him one pack of Pokemon cards that he really wanted from us. He was excited, but it wasn't boring to the other kids. I have been at parties where the kid's present time took a good 30 minutes. This isn't fun for anyone but the kid getting the presents. Think of your guests and also the fact that your kid will want to have some excitement even after the party ends.
7. Relax! Adopt a laid-back approach to the whole thing even if you are not laid back in real life. Just let everyone do what they want and sit back and enjoy it. It is a party for Chrissakes, not a Middle East peace summit. Just be calm and those around you will adopt the same laissez faire approach.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Have you ever heard about that Texas cheerleader mom who paid for a hit on a rival cheerleader mom and daughter? She really, really wanted her daughter to be a cheerleader, so she thought that she would eliminate the competition.

I totally am not going to do that to my fellow competitors in the Talbot's Denim competition. As some of you may know, I have a near Spencer-Reed-like ability for remembering odd factoids from old shows hosted by Bill Kurtis. I just randomly thought of that lady because if memory serves me right, she bought pencils for her daughters classmates that said "Vote for my daughter!" or something. And I kinda wish my mom had some pencils to hand out. Because I want you all to vote for me. As many times as humanly possible.

Because I want a coat. A new winter coat. Or a trench coat. Or a one shouldered LBD. And also, I want to WIN. Because winning is good.

Here is the link to go vote. Obviously, I am Southern Belle. I truly appreciate you taking time out to vote for me.

I am thinking of taking a picture of my kids everyday making sad eyes to remind folks to vote for me. Would that be exploitative? Probably.

Anyway, VOTE FOR ME!!! YEA!!!

Debby Downer

This week has sucked. Like major, no holds barred, BLOWN. My husband is waiting to hear from his company because he may have a promotion, which would be AWESOME, but he hasn't heard from them and the waiting is sucking for all of us, there is drama at my daughter's dance studio, Sam is having a birthday party on Saturday that hasn't been properly planned for, I want an intravenous drip of chocolate and have yet to get one, etc, etc. I thought about posting something jolly today, about the new make-up that I have, but I'm not in the mood. So I am going to post about things that I dislike. Because when life gives you lemons, you should let them go rotten and then complain about it. On the internet.

1. I hate Farmville updates. And I hate when people post status messages and say "I need this for my farm," and I start thinking "Do they really own a farm? Can I buy some eggs?" and then I realize that it is for Farmville. I don't care what you need for your fictional electronic farm. Why don't you just send a message to the other people you know who play Farmville? Geez.

2. Alice has learned to remove her BumGenius's. I was going to send them to be converted to snaps, but that was going to be a huge production, so I started putting onesies and things over them at all times to keep her hands off of them. Then she started pulling them off through the onesie. Now, she has started pulling them off JUST to pee in the floor. I wish I were kidding. A couple of times, I have seen her take them off and have run her to the bathroom, but she ends up peeing on my leg as I run. And she laughs about it. I am starting to think she is an Evil Genius. She is potty training herself at 12 months, just to make my life a living hell. Thanks, Alice. Remind me buy you something really heinous to wear for school pictures when you are about 10. Just for this, I'm also going to refuse to cut the crust off of your sandwiches. So there. Pull it off again, sister. Let's see what else I can get out of.

3. I hate how anyone who can pony up for a fancy camera fancies themselves some kind of photographer. Um, that is an art form folks. Setting up some kind of "fall scene" in your unfinished basement and shooting pictures of your kids trying to eat fake leaves does not equal art. Nor does constantly sending me Facebook messages telling me that I can bring my kids to a local hiking trail and you will take pictures of them "professionaly." Oh, ok, sure. Tell you what: my 6 year old will teach you how to spell in exchange for some pictures that I could take myself. Cool? Thanks.

4. I hate that the ball just fell out of my mouse. WTF? When I was in high school, people used to steal the mouse balls just to throw at other people. Now, I'm pretty sure someone has been in here, taking out the mouse ball and hiding meth up in the mouse. Great. My mouse is a drug mule. The times they are a-changin'.

5. And finally, I hate that the high temperature is 91 today. 91. And it is September. Granted, it is cool this morning, and I'm sure it will be tonight. But in the middle of the day, it will be melt-your-face-off hot. And I'm stuck wearing the same old things because I don't want to get my new stuff all sweaty. Sigh. Sometimes I hate VA.

Stay tuned--I promise to be a bit more...sunny in future posts. Plus, at some point today, the voting will go live for the Talbots contest that I'm still involved in, and I would appreciate any votes! I will post the link on here when voting starts. Until then, Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mean Mommy

Last night, as I was driving Gabby home from cheerleading practice, she asked me if she could watch a movie she had tivoed on Saturday while she was at the football game. I tell her that we still have to eat dinner and she needs to take a shower and get ready to take a social studies test in the morning. She agrees and asks to watch it today (Wednesday). She ends up going, "Yeah, I'm the only one of my friends not to have seen it, and I really want to see it." I ask how they had seen it if they were at the game as well and since I know most of the parents haven't discovered the wondrous invention known as tivo just yet (BOONIES, PEOPLE). She ends up telling me that they had all watched the midnight showing on Saturday night.

By the time we get home, I have discovered that Gabby is the only kid in her class to have a bedtime and to not have a cell phone. Surprisingly, she is not upset on either account, and like me, finds this to be disturbing and interesting. We have previously talked the cell phone issue to death and decided as a family that she will get one when she turns 13. It is at that age that she will be doing more activities away from family and will need to contact us more to keep us aprised of her whereabouts and when I think that she will be responsible enough to deal with juggling friends and all of the other issues that having a cell phone can bring. Last year, several girls in her class were caught in a HUGE cell phone conspiracy that yes, involved "sexting." The girls were in 5th grade and were talking to 7th grade boys. This prompted the parents to not take the phones (which is what I would think the logical thing to do would be) but to blame the other party (the girls blamed the boys, the boys blamed the girls). Nice. At that point, we said that she would get a phone when she turned 47 or when Hell froze over, whichever happened first. Since then, we have cooled off a bit, but remain firm on the 13 thing. The 13 thing is contingent on Gabby maintaining good grades and otherwise conducting herself with a modicum of self-respect and maturity.

The bedtime thing just floors me. Bedtime is an essential in our house. If we didn't have bedtime, I would end up maiming someone (probably someone under the age of 18) with a cleaver on a daily basis. I love that time that the kids are in bed and the house is quiet and Matt and I can actually do things, whether it is watch TV or just have a normal conversation that does not involve cheerleading or Boy Scouts or who is so mean to me, do you know what he did today?!!? It is not that I don't love my kids--I adore them--but I just need that break. On a daily basis. And somedays, as bad as it sounds, I just need to look at the clock and go, "Two more hours. Just make it two more hours!" Sam goes to bed at 9, and Gabby goes to her room at 9, but is allowed to watch TV or play Nintendo DS or read for 30 minutes. Alice, at this point, is used to the routine, and starts nighttime nursing at 9. Then it is lights out. How people live without this VOLUNTARILY is inconceivable. Plus, if my kids don't get in bed on time, the next morning they are zombies. In fact, zombies probably have more social skills. Late bedtime equals total and complete meltdown for Sam (you ask the kid to brush his teeth, and he.falls.apart) and the snarky craziness in Gab ("WHERE ARE MY SKINNY JEANS? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY'RE NOT CLEAN? I TOTALLY GAVE THEM TO YOU LAST NIGHT. WHY CAN'T YOU WASH STUFF, LIKE OFTEN AND STUFF?"). So I choose to not even chance it. Mornings blow enough without pushing the issue.

Now it goes without saying that I am the youngest mom of my kids' friends. Mostly, people are in their late 30's, early 40's. And here we are. And we are the strict ones? How did that happen? If when I was in 6th grade, if one of my friends had parents who were in their late 20's, I would think that that house would be the fun, crazy house. In a way, I think we are the fun, crazy ones. We make That's What She Said jokes a lot and have been known to have silly string battles that involve our ceiling fans. Maturity is not exactly paramount around here. But I also prefer to give my kids a little structure. How am I the only one? Am I just crazy? I am starting to feel like Kyle's Mom from South Park.

But, you know, better to be Kyle's mom than this:

Viva la Mean Mommy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up: Rock Out Edition

Let's see if I can stay awake and actually type this out...

On Friday night, I took Sam to a birthday party and Gabby went to spend the night with a friend. I also went to pick up Gabby's cheerleading uniform. That means that I no longer have to hear the daily, "When is our uniform going to be heeeerrreee?" So yea for small victories. The uniforms this year are warm up suits (as opposed to the usual skirts) which I think is awesome since it gets cold. Gabby was less than jazzed. However, when she saw the outfit (and the matching hairbow) things got better.

Sam, all hyped up on birthday love, got the great idea to go shopping for his own party on Saturday. We had planned on going to get invitations anyway, but since he was so excited, we went on. Since it was "his day," Sam requested to pick the restaurant. He picked an Asian restaurant that we had never tried. It turned out to be AMAZING, and we were super jazzed to have found it. Matt and I got bento boxes and tempura veggies and the kids got noodles and California rolls. It was very fun and we had the best time. Sam now says it is favorite restaurant. He managed to get noodle sauce all over himself. Alice fell in love with tempura broccoli, so we had to order her some extra, which the wait staff found to be very funny. Now I need to make her some at home.

After our meal, we went shopping for birthday stuff. Sam had wanted to do a "historical party" but it was proving very hard to find stuff to fit that theme. He ended up finding a Darth Vader pinata and getting excited, so we decided to change to Star Wars. We found a lot of cute stuff, and even got some 3-D wall hangings and plates and stuff. After that, we ran to Target where we funned around with the Halloween stuff. I found a George Bush mask and put it on, and Alice LOST HER SHIT. I mean, screaming, crying, trying to break out of the Target cart. I felt bad, but it was also incredibly hilarious in a sad, sick way. We found a bendy spider and put it on her back and let her ride around with it, which I think she thought was funny. She kept laughing and then petting it like it was a lap dog or something. It must be interesting to be a baby. Must be kind of like riding a roller coaster with all the ups and downs.

After that, we grabbed Frappucinos and then went to Gabby's football game. We ended up having a good time although the bleachers were treacherous to say the least. The football team managed to score 20 points. This is about 36 points more than I expected them to score all year. The highlight of my FREAKING LIFE came when this girl on Gabby's cheerleading squad looked at me and goes, "Hey Gabby's Mom! I like your shirt!" I was wearing Gap Long and Leans, the J.Crew rolling ruffles tank in charcoal and a lavender Jackie cardigan. I thanked her, and kept pushing Alice over to the concession stand. I then heard her say, "Gabby, I just love your mom's clothes." Gabby's head didn't spin around and she didn't vomit green soup. She just goes, "Thanks!" I'm serious: I can die a happy woman. I told Matt that now I want to step up the game to be even more of the Fierce Mom and he gave me a worried look. We drove home (the game was in the middle of nowhere) and then went to bed.

On Sunday, we got up and took the kids to meet my mother in law at church and then Matt and I hit the open road to go see ZZ Top and Tom Petty! My husband loves classic rock (I don't think he listens to anything post 1990, except for maybe Muse and the White Stripes which I didn't know about until I was flitting around with his iPod yesterday and just happened to find albums by those artists), and I also love Tom Petty. Who doesn't love Free Fallin'? Is that not a perfect little pop song? I adore it. Plus, I have all these great memories of listening to Mary Jane's Last Dance the summer it came out. It became kind of a little parlor trick because I memorized all the words and would repeat them at a moment's notice. Anyway, we had tried to get the tickets earlier this summer, but thought it was sold out or something because we couldn't get the Ticketmaster page to work. Turns out that they were just updating the site. So we found tickets last week and decided to take the plunge. We drove to Charlotte, NC to go to the concert, and ended up getting their plenty early so we went to Ikea to look at entertainment centers. We don't have Ikea here (obviously...) so I was super stoked to get back to one. I saw it beside the road and made this loud gasping sound which Matt misconstrued to think that I had seen a wreck or a fender bender and was a little frightened. He was a little less than pleased to see that it was just a store, but I think was a little happier when it turned out to be Ikea. We ended up eating inside the store and spent plenty of time snapping pictures and picking out stuff. We are going to go back and get the stuff maybe next month. I'm jazzed!

After that, it was time to rock out! The night was a little balmy (made the Miller Light taste so, so good) and we were in an amphitheater, so I was glad that I had brought three pairs of shoes to choose from. I wanted to wear my new Merona riding boots with my Gap Forever skinnies, but since it was still a little warm, I ended up wearing the Gap City Flats. They have turned out to be rather durable, so I'm a little sorry that I thought that they wouldn't be. I also wore a Liberty of London halter top and I took a navy Jackie cardigan. I really can't say enough about the Gap Forever skinnies--they were so comfortable ALL DAY long and they looked super awesome! Plus I didn't wear a belt and didn't have to worry about rocking the plumber look one time. Ladies, we have a winner. Run...don't walk to The Gap! I also tried out some new make-up for the day, but there will be more about that later!

We were super tired on the way home, but I was so afraid to stay overnight and leave Alice alone with my mother in law. So we trucked on, relying on singing and McDonald's iced tea to keep us going until we got home. We ended up getting back at about 4. The alarm went off at 7:30, and it was AWFUL but we're up and back to normal. Matt has a meeting at 2:30 that is important, I think, so I hope he will be ok. He seemed pretty spry this morning. I know I always wax philosophic about the weirdness of my life and you're probably totally sick of it, but I love that I have a life where I drive 3.5 hours to go to a concert, stop and look at entertainment centers and organization systems along the way, and then drive home all in one day and then get back to normal the next day. Well, kind of back to normal. I'm pretty tired and I look like I was hit repeatedly with a bus last night. Oh well.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feel Good Friday

This week, we found out that my son Sam, who is in first grade, has been overperforming at his grade level, and is going to be moved up a grade. We are excited, obviously, and especially happy that the school is doing their best to make the move easy for all of us. Sam is going to start off going up to the second grade just for reading class (since that is his strongest subject) and then slowly transition to other classes and activities. At the end of the year, he will be a second grader, but he will still do some first grade activities so that he will still get the social benefits of being around friends and his first grade teacher (whom he loves).

It all started when he was routinely tested for reading ability at the beginning of the year. Matt and I noticed that Sam was becoming a strong reader, but I don't think we realized how strong. After the test, we got a note saying that Sam had tested on a 3rd-4th grade reading level, and that the reading specialist was now talking to teachers, the principal and other school administration about what to do for him. There was a danger of him getting bored in class, as many students around him are just starting to learn to read. He took subsequent tests in math and although he wasn't as strong, the results were very much the same. At that point, we started to realize just how awesome all this is.

The whole thing is interesting and wonderful because until this point, I would be up late at night worrying about Sam and his cognitive abilities. Sam was born while I was a junior in college and Matt was a senior. Gabby was 4 years old. Matt and I were living in our first apartment, a tiny place where the main redeeming quality was the addition of a full-size washer and drier. It was the cheapest place we could find that offered that, and with a kid and full study schedules, we knew that was the one thing we needed. Matt was working in the Modern Languages Dept. as an aid to the professors, and I was a waitress at a fine dining restaurant. We kept our money in a latte mug. When I got pregnant, we were shocked, but soon became excited. We resolved to finish school and have our baby and keep on keepin' on.

But then Sam was born. And things were crazy. There are quite a few pictures of me, sitting in the papasan chair in our living room, holding Sam with one arm and a Norton Critical Anthology in the other. There are just as many pictures of us asleep in the same position. Sam went with me to class sometimes when the babysitter canceled and I knew that he would sleep through it. I used to joke that he liked 18th century British lit the best because he could sleep during it. Matt wrote his honors thesis with Sam sitting beside him at night, asleep in his swing. Matt was inducted to PBK while Sam crawled around in the courtyard of the Wren Building, and I sat at the door, listening to the proceedings inside while watching Sam and trying to keep him from eating pinecones. When I went up to get my diploma, I carried Sam with me, and made sure that the "My Mom Rocks" t-shirt I had bought was prominently displayed (I graduated on Mother's Day). Then we moved to CA. And instead of rushing off to class, I was rushing off to work. There are pictures of Sam playing with cars inside the Slavic Library, where Matt was working a student aid job.

And in the middle of this, a lot of my plans for him fell to the side. I had planned to read to him every night. That didn't happen. I had planned for him not to ever watch tv. That didn't happen either. I had planned to actively teach him things, to make everyday a learning experience, to make sure that not a day went by where I didn't sit down with him and teach him something. That happened sometimes, but not every single day. There were many days where I was just happy to get through and get him fed and hugged and kissed and bathed. Forget the teaching. I was happy to just be with him, falling asleep beside of him as we both watched Cars for the 20 millionth time. It was only when I laid awake at night that I thought of all the things I wasn't doing. And it was then that I felt like a horrible, over-extended, crappy parent. All too often I felt that.

But, now I realized that despite all the craziness, Sam spent his early years surrounded by people who adored him. And by people who loved books. So even if we weren't always reading to him, if sometimes plans fell through, we were there. And he saw us reading. Perhaps too much! So now, despite all my worries, here he is, this little reading beast, a self-described "nerd" who wants to have a historical-themed birthday party (which sounds sweet, but seriously, you try to plan a cupcake for each president...yup. That's how I'm spending my time these days.).

So the moral of this (sloppy, disjointed) story is that kids, despite all our worries, usually have a way of turning out ok. As long as they are loved, kids don't have to have perfect parents. They don't have to be surrounded by perfection every day, they don't have to have every day go according to plan. It sounds like an easy concept, but how often do we beat ourselves up because we aren't doing everything perfectly? Sometimes I feel like there is something every single day that I go to bed worried about because I didn't accomplish for my kids. But things have a way of working themselves out, I've found. As long as there is love, there can be a lot of non-perfection along the way.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Winner Winner Roast Chicken Dinner!

I was just notified that I won the jeans and Talbots gift card from Gigi's awesome contest at Gigi's Gone Shopping! YEA! As you can tell, I'm kind of excited. I don't win many things un-elementary school related. In elementary school, I was crazy--I won every science fair, essay contest, whatever. Who woulda thought that those would have been the halcyon days of Morgan winning stuff? I sure wouldn't have. I mean, I turned 12, and there went all my luck. In fact, here is all I have won since:

1. A limo ride to the prom that I won via an essay contest sponsored by a funeral home. I wrote a really horrible essay where a girl gets knocked up on prom night only to see her love get killed because he...wait for it...drank one beer and then drove. DRINKING IS BAD. I could have done the world a favor by just writing that right there and leaving out the theatrics.

2. A $26 door prize when going to see The Princess Bride at W&M. I used it to buy groceries.

3. A Baby Bjorn baby carrier for writing a story about my son peeing in his toy box. Repeatedly. I would have given up the baby carrier for him not to have done that.

ANYWAY, I am so excited. I want these lovelies....

Will they replace my size 14 J. Crew Holy Denim Trousers that I loved more than life itself and only stopped wearing when my husband walked in the bathroom after I put them on one day, took one glance at me and then said "Why are you wearing a diaper?"? Only time will tell. I loved those pants...but my heart is big enough to accept another pair. And I'm thinking of using the gift card toward the purchase of a coat. I need a new coat this year. Or, I will just use it on a sweater. Because, as we all know, Morgan can't resist a cute sweater. Or really, let's just be honest here, a cute anything.

So, thanks Gigi and thanks everyone who read the entry! I'll stop the self congratulations now before it just gets really obscene.

From the Mouth of the Husband

This will be short, because well, I need to feed my family and drive my daughter to dance practice and nuzzle the baby and ask my son about his first day of moving up to the 2nd grade (more on that later). And really, there is no need for many words. This, my lovely croque madames, is my lovely husband. Unedited. Uncut. We went shopping this afternoon, and these are but two of the many gems he had to share.

"$70 for a pair of shoes?!?! That's insane! They don't even pump up!"
--on dress shoes for dudes and the fact that they can't all be this awesome

"I bet he pulls down $150k a year. And he doesn't even buy his own shirts!"
--on his favorite college professor, who lacks style but is much loved. Apparently, this guy only wears (free) t-shirts from various Russian language camps. He is Matt's mentor in life.

This, ladies, is what I'm up against. Big, economy-sized sigh.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weight Watchers Wednesday: What's In My Grocery Cart

Woot woot! Matt and I have both buckled down and lost weight this week! Matt has lost 2 pounds, and I lost 1.5. Yea for us! We both are starting to notice a change in our clothing. Matt says that his pants feel looser in the thigh area, and I have noticed the reduction in muffin top that was starting to emerge in some of my favorite skinny pants.

I'm not going to lie--it has been a bit hard to buckle down again. Around Labor Day, we indulged in some of our favorite things, and then getting back on track proved harder than we expected. Matt, who had given up regular Coke, bought a 12 pack to have when he fixed BBQ, and then lovingly drank them all over the next week. I told him that they would taste nasty after having given them up (all sweet and syrupy), but he said they were all equally delicious. I, of course, baked a lot, and then lovingly devoured buttercream laced cupcake after buttercream laced cupcake. So that wasn't good. I actually had a headache the day after because I wasn't getting all the sugar! I told Matt that sugar was proving to be our biggest danger, and he said that of course, it is because we are from the South. Probably true. Sugar and bacon....yum, bacon.

One way we have gotten back on track is by making good choices at the grocery store of things to just have around the house. Here is a list of some of our "greatest hits." I hope they give others some good ideas to help get back on track!

1. Wee Brie. Now, on no Weight Watchers Wednesday should there be any mention of brie. Right? Wrong! Wee Brie is Laughing Cow-esque cheese, all pre-portioned and ready to go. Each wedge is 70 calories. Now, that is double what Laughing Cow is, so why bother? Well, because Wee Brie is delicous (and because Wee Brie is one of the most fun things to say EVER), and because it fulfills any cravings for delicious, high quality cheese. Plus, it is great with a glass of wine at the end of a long day.... I have been pairing it with Town House Flatbread Crisps in Sea Salt and Olive Oil , which is delicious in a totally indulgent, yummy way. I think 7 crackers is like 80 calories or something, so you are getting a great, I-am-so-not-on-a-diet snack for 150 calories or so. OR, the Wee Brie and Flatbread Crisps are delicious in what we call "Snacky Supper" which is when our schedule is just nuts and I don't have time to cook something. I'll get some Wee Brie and crisps, whip up some bruschetta with some (hopefully homemade) bread and a few tomatoes that are lurking about, some grapes, maybe a bit of proscuitto and some cantaloupe, roasted red peppers, veggies and hummus--whatever looks good at the store. Then I just put it out on the table and let everyone fix a plate as time/hunger dictates. Although this could be a recipe for disaster with all kinds of food sitting around, I've found that if I have a little bit of something I find to be indulgent and delish (here, the brie and crisps), I'll eat more of the more low-cal fare to round it out. And it is so easy, and definitely more diet friendly than ordering out!

2. Plain nonfat yogurt. Yeah, everyone everywhere tells you to eat this when you are on a diet. But rarely do they mention just how versatile it is. Last night I was really wanting something chocolately and sinful, but I purposefully did not buy that kind of thing at the store. What I did, was mix a cup of yogurt with some frozen raspberries and a tablespoon or so of mini chocolate chips. I let the raspberries melt a bit and voila. Instant yumminess. Plus it wasn't too sweet so I didn't get that icky mouth feeling. Then fast forward to this morning. Yogurt and breakfast is a no brainer. I had it with frozen blueberries and a bit of Special K granola. Totally yummy and totally diet friendly. Plus, how economical is that? Breakfast and dessert in one package.

3. Canned beans. Yes, you could buy dried and let them soak or whatever, but it is so easy to buy canned. And you can use these for so many things as well. Last night I made black bean soup, which was delish, but that's just the basics. Stirred with some corn, tomatoes and cilantro, they are an awesome salsa. Mashed up and mixed with spices they make a great sandwich spread. Make your own hummus, make your own dips, whatevs, they do it. And they are so affordable and yummy. And fiberful! Yea for fiber!

4. Sparkling Water. Matt and I were draining the Coke Zero like woah since we started WW, and not only was it an expensive habit, I was wondering what kind of icky sweetness we were getting ourselves into. I used to just have one Diet Coke per day, at lunchtime at work--kind of a midday pick me up with my Lean Cuisine and Greek yogurt. However, it had bled into evening time as well. I would have one before dinner or after dinner while watching TV. Too much sweetness, ya'll. So I got some sparkling water this week, one with black cherry essence. And we like it. I like that fizziness, and the black cherry is just enough without being cloyingly sweet. We are still drinking the Coke Zero/Diet Coke, just not as much, and in much smaller portions.

Finally, I am trying to recenter my baking habit by trying some new recipes. Tonight, I'm fixing some spicy curried shrimp with mango salsa and coconut rice. I'm kind of jazzed about it, and the whole thing is much more WW friendly. Although it is tempting to go in and make a big batch of cupcakes, I'm holding off until I have lots of friends around to share them with!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gap Reviews--I've Got Your New Skinny Jeans Right Here

Do you want skinny jeans? Are you afraid that you can't pull them off? Well, have I got the pair for you. I recently ordered the above jeans, Gap Forever Skinny Jeans, and yes, they are awesome. They are more awesome than the Loft skinnies that I have worn for two years now. They are awesome. What makes them so awesome?
One word, ya'll: midrise.
Yes, you read these right. You will not flash your ass crack at passers by. These are midrise jeans. And they are also skinny. Didn't think that could happen? Yup. It can. And when it combines, it is like peanut butter and jelly. Dora and Boots. Method Laundry Detergent and Downy Spice Blossom Dare.
That said, these are incredibly skinny. I find the fit to be more like leggings (or...ick, jeggings--HATE that word) than like the Loft skinnies. I can't wait to tuck them into boots this fall (still a bit too warm for that here in VA). However, when I put them on and was thinking that they were, indeed, pretty slim, Matt walked in and goes, "Dude, those make your legs look incredibly skinny!" Now, in terms of clothes related compliments from my lovely husband, this is right up there. Usually, the best I can do is, "Uh, yeah, that looks nice" or "Sure, I like it. How much did it cost?" Boy just does not pay that much attention to clothing (which is probably the reason why his favorite shirt is a shirt with Kramer on it that was mangled by the drier when we were in college). So SCORE. Second jeans-related comment I've ever gotten from that man, so I'm happy. I love these pants.
A note about sizing: Gap jeans are really hit and miss with their sizes. I am pretty much a 6 in everything, but I wear a 4 ankle in my trusty Long and Leans, and I tried a 4 in the Sexy Bootcut in store (per the SA) and they work. I got a 6 Petite in these, and they work very well--the length is pretty damn perfect. Again, you have to buy a petite online, and when I tried the Always Skinny in store, they didn't even have ankle sizes in those. I asked the SA about ankles, and she said that every once in a while they got an ankle, usually a return from online or another larger store. So if you are short (like me), you might be out of luck in store. Which kind of sucks. C'mon Gap, us shorties need love too!
Another thing I purchased at Gap is their city flat shoe. Now, if you prefer heels, this is the flat for you. I know I should embrace the flat, given my lifestyle, but it is hard. I find some flats to be more uncomfortable than heels because of their lack of support--I feel like my feet are having to "work" all day just to keep my shoes on. These are a ballet style with an elasticized foot opening. Therefore, they stay on very well, and yes, they are ridiculously comfortable. I got the metallic ones because I thought a bit of silver peeking out from under black pants might be cute, and might be a good go-to work look. I'm pretty jazzed about them, and I'm not usually that way with flats. The only thing is, I'm not sure how well they will hold up. I'm not planning on wearing them everyday, but if you are looking for a pair of everyday, go-to flats, then these might not be the ticket. If they do hold up, I'll eat these words. Maybe it is just because of the way they are packed and how they are foldable, or maybe it is the material that the metallic ones are made out of that makes me think this--they just don't seem super sturdy. I am thinking of getting a pair of the non-metallic ones if they go on sale again, so we'll see.
An in-store note--my store had them, but the sizes were really picked over, and they only had a bunch of 6's. I think they are running a bit small (I got my normal 9, and they work for me, but I can also wear an 8.5, so I'm a smaller 9), so the only shoes left were really small. Maybe they got another shipment since I was there, but if you want your choice of colors, maybe order online and get a couple of sizes to try.
This boyfriend sweater is on mucho sale right now, and it is cute. I saw it in store, but the way they have it folded, it looks like a whole lotta nothing. I saw it on Gigi on Gigi's Gone Shopping , and decided to give it a try online. Especially for the price. I like it. I got a Small because I have a boyfriend tee from Gap, and the S is HUGE, but I might wish I had got the M (my true size) so it would be a bit more slouchy and boyfriendy. I have to say though, the S works, and I LOVE the neckline in it, so maybe the M would have been too much. Who knows? If I see it in store again, I'm going to try the M just to see. The sweater has some silk in it, and is very soft, and I like the red color--really pops with dark denim. I'm a sucker for a good red. Unrelatedly, when Matt and I were in college, there was this girl we knew who only wore red and black. Talk about personal style! We called her the Red and Black Girl because we couldn't remember her name, despite the fact that she was in a bunch of our Literary and Cultural Studies classes. I'm bad with names. Now, anytime I look at this sweater and pair it with black pants, I will think of her. If you are reading this, Red and Black Girl, you were very stylish in college, and I hope you still are!
I am thinking of going to the Gap tomorrow and getting my son some stuff since I have that 40% off one item on Wednesday. I have two coupon books, one for the kids, and one for me. I'm actually jazzed about getting myself something, and that is different because I haven't been able to find myself things from the Gap in a while. Does anyone else think the Gap is getting better? Or is it just me? I'll admit...I have a little "thing" for the Gap because it was my favorite store when I was younger, so I sometimes tend to see things that aren't there. Know what I mean? But, I don't know. I've gotten the black pants and the jeans and a few tops, and I'm loving them all. Good job, Gap!

Monday, September 13, 2010

This Month's Heinous Offering From ShoeDazzle

This is Kim Kardashian's pick of the month from Shoe Dazzle. Yes, it is pretty damn ugly. But, what makes this pick of the month particularly...interesting is Kim's little blurb about it:

"I also love fringing, so the fringe detail on the zipper makes them that much more stylish. You can team these with some dark skinny jeans or a cute pair of denim shorts" (italics mine). Cute denim shorts? Oxymoronic? Or just moronic? What kind of denim shorts is she talking about? Daisy Dukes? Bermuda shorts? Dexy Midnight Runners' overalls?
SO MANY QUESTIONS!!! But seriously...can you imagine seeing someone out, like grocery shopping or paying their water bill or picking their kids up from school wearing those shoes? Those shoes do not exist outside of the Kardashians' world. And thank God for that. Perhaps that is what Kim is selling when she sells these shoes...a slice of her inappropriate, made for reality-TV life. When you buy them (and goodness knows that I hope you don't), you're not buying shoes. You are buying the whole, gaudy, hot mess that is the Kardashian clan.

But these shoes...These shoes remind me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine is walking down the street, trying to think of a blurb about J. Peterman's Himalayan walking boots. These are Himalayan walking boots. For prostitutes. Let's hope homegirl decides to "leak" another sex tape soon because her styling skillz are just not going to pay the rent.

Weekend Wrap-Up

You already know about my Saturday--washer overflow, teething baby, yada yada yada. I cleaned up the living room only to have it torn asunder again, I ended up not changing out of my yoga pants until 5:00 pm because Matt carted Gabby and Sam to their birthday parties/picnics/other social obligations. Gabby had her first cheerleading game of the year on Saturday night. Despite the fact that it was raining. Well, allow me to rephrase--it had been raining all day, but momentarily stopped about 30 minutes before we had to go. Given that Matt was still working on the washing machine and Sam didn't want to go because he had been at a birthday party/play date all day and was tired, Alice and I decided to take Gabby on our own. Because of the rain, I didn't wear the cute skinny jeans and cardigan ensemble I had planned, and instead wore a W&M sweatshirt (it is fitted, so not that horrible), Old Navy Weekend Jeans, and my old running shoes. I did manage to put on make-up. Alice wore a shirt that says "I'm the Little Sister" that my grandmom bought her at JC Penney and Gap straight leg jeans. She was cute. Gabby, seething that her uniform has not come in, wore a purple t-shirt, jean shorts and sneakers. I put her hair up in a high ponytail, and since it just barely came to the nape of her neck (because of the cut and the highness of the ponytail), she spent the rest of the game yanking on it to try to pull it down farther. Great.

We got to the game, and had been there for maybe 30 minutes (the game before Gab's was still going on) when it started POURING. Alice had fallen asleep, and I (of course) did not have the rain cover for the Maclaren. So in a feat of superhuman strength, I picked up the stroller (with Al in it) and slid it under the bleachers. Over the line of stuff that is supposed to keep teenagers from going under there to sniff glue and conceive children. What? It was the driest place around. I go under there too. Now, I live in a small town where the police do not have much to do, but I wasn't expecting to get hasselled about it. I'm under there for maybe 5 minutes when a cop who is patrolling the area pulls down the alley below the bleachers and sees me sitting there. He parks his car, and comes and talks to me.

Cop: Ma'am, you're not supposed to be back here.
Me (whispering): Yes, I know, but it is raining, and I'm trying to keep my daughter dry. She's asleep.
Cop: (moving around to look at Alice, because as well know, I could be carting a load of Oxycontin and condoms in an umbrella stroller) Well, I see, but, you're not supposed to be here.
Me: Ok, as soon as it stops raining, I'll be glad to move.
Cop: Just who are you here to see? (because it is obvious I'm a pedophile at this point. Where's Chris Hanson? I've got all these condoms and this Mike's Hard Lemonade. Isn't this where FunkyGirl16 wants to meet?)
Me: My daughter. She's a cheerleader for the next game.
Cop: And just where is she?
Me: (OH SHIT. I HAVE NO IDEA.) She is with her coach, getting ready for the game.
Cop: (sticks his hands out from under the bleachers) It has stopped raining. I can help you get her out of here.
Me: Oh, I think I can do it...
Cop: (goes to pick up the stroller and wakes Alice up in the process) Let's see here.... (smacks every bar under the bleachers trying to get the thing out, when all you have to do is just lift it straight up) She's awake.
Me: Oh, ok.
Cop: Now, don't get back under here. I don't want kids seeing you and thinking that it is ok. We had a lot of trouble before we put that fence up.
(Note: The "fence" is a piece of black shoestring that has been tied to the fence behind. A 27 year old woman was able to lift a Maclaren Quest over the "fence" and place her sleeping 25 lb. infant on the other side. Something tells me a couple of horny teenagers aren't going to be paying much attention to the "fence".)
Me: Thank you for your help.

In other news, if you would like to commit a crime, let me know, and I'll be glad to give you my zip code, because obviously, you can get away with murder down here. The cops are too busy catching all of us wanton criminals.

The football team ends up losing 45-0. They move a total of 10 yards the entire game. The 11 year old quarterback (who I think my daughter has a crush on and tells her daily about how he is going to get a football scholarship to Virginia Tech) could probably be replaced by Alice if, by chance, he gets hurt trying to get his helmet off. Alice gets fussy during half time, so I quickly drive her home to Matt (who is triumphant after fixing the washer and doing two loads of towels) who gives her a bath. I then go back to the game. The girls do not have a lot to cheer about, nor do they know the difference between defense and offense. The cheerleading parents are all ecstatic because it doesn't look like we'll be making the playoffs this year, so that is just one more Saturday we can add back to our calendars. One of the girls threatens to quit.

After all the excitement, I go home and watch the A's pwn the Red Sox and drink some hot cocoa. I end up falling asleep on the couch.

On Sunday, I was supposed to bake a pie and make a pot roast and do the 5.7 tons of laundry that managed to accumulate in the 8 hours or so that the washer was out of commission. However, my husband's grandparents come to visit his parents, so we leave laundry and meat alone and drive up to their house for a visit. My husband grew up on this huge mountain, and it is actually really pretty once you get up there (getting up there, however, can be a bit challenging), and yesterday did not disappoint. The kids spent most of the day playing outside in the crisp air (it is also colder and windier up there) and setting off smoke bombs. Matt and I watch football and baseball with his dad, and then we order out and get cheeseburgers for dinner. Sam finds some old Childcraft Encyclopedias of Matt's (did anyone else have these? I had them too, and they were awesome!), so we spend the rest of the night talking about the seven wonders of the ancient world. We have a huge moonlit match of tag before driving home. Then we bring the kids home and put them to bed. I had left a ball of dough sitting in the kitchen to rise while we were gone, and by the time we get back it is HUGE, so I punch it down and bake it and Matt and I eat fresh bread and watch more baseball before finally turning in.

It is funny--Matt and I are both nerds. Always have been, and always will be. Therefore, it is so hard to believe that we now live a life where a weekend can include lots of football and one/both of us fixing a major household appliance. I asked Matt about the washing machine and how he fixed it, and he just shrugged and said something about it being common sense. If you had told me that the 15 year old boy I first saw all those years ago, the one with the huge glasses that slid down his nose constantly, the one who I never saw go anywhere without a book, would someday fix my washing machine, I would have laughed. But yet here we are. And life is everything and nothing like what I thought it would be.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Will you be my friend?

Yesterday I was supposed to go to a jewelry party hosted by a girl that I used to run with before she got pregnant. I was looking forward to it, although I don't have a huge desire to buy a bunch of mail order jewelry. What I was looking forward to was meeting a bunch of girls for a bit of time without the husband and kids. I had my outfit planned, had even volunteered to make a batch of cupcakes to share.

But then our washing machine flooded. Like "3 inches of standing water in our laundry room" flooded. Matt and I are both so over everything in our house deciding to die, so I just said, "Hell with it, let's just call someone to fix it or go buy another one." Matt briefly thought about it and then reminded me that it is Sam's birthday this month, so we shouldn't be spending any money that we don't have to. Grumble. So he retreated to the laundry room to try to fix it (he did, and everything is peachy now). And then Alice, who I had considered (under duress) taking with me, has a tooth coming in and was Capitol C Cranky. Since Matt was working on the washer and my mother in law had taken Gabby to a church picnic, I had no other choice but to stay home with Al. I called to let the hostess know why I wouldn't be attending and to apologize. She ended up talking me into buying some jewelry anyway. Great. So now I'm on the hook to buy jewelry but without getting to go to the party. Awesome.

This is a great representative of my life with friends. I have great intentions, but absolutely no follow through. Something always ends up coming up--a sick kid, a home emergency--and I end up forsaking my plans to deal with it. And then when it comes time to reschedule, I find myself so tired or over committed in another area of my life, that I decide to use my free time to just relax with my husband and kids. Or with the Kardashian sisters and a glass of wine. There are so many Friday nights where I think, "I should call X or Y and we'll go out for dinner." But then I walk in the door and set my bags down, and all of a sudden I can't conceive of ever stepping foot out of my house ever again. I put on the yoga pants and find solace in making some bread. On a Friday night. Awesome. The excitement is palpable.

I have a friend--let's call her S. She moved to my high school when I was in 11th grade, and we were fast friends. We graduated together and then went to the same college. However, we had different friends in college and lived in different places, so we actually didn't see each other that much. However, I always knew she was "there." When Sam was born, she brought me a big basket of baby stuff and helped to line up some of her friends who needed cash and wanted to babysit. She and her now husband (who, interestingly enough, was my 7th grade prom date) were the only non-family guests at my incredibly small, intimate wedding. She moved to NY right about the time that I moved to SF, and we talked over Google Chat at least every week about our new lives as country girls in the city. When I moved back here, she returned within a year with her baby daughter. It was her stash of newborn diapers that I used when Alice was born. We used to run together, but now she is pregnant, but we still see each other nearly every week at the Farmer's Market where she helps her mom distribute food vouchers for seniors. Every time we see each other, we have a great time talking--we have shared viewpoints on many family/social/parenting issues, and we are both working moms who try to balance that role with being cool.

I want to invite her and her family over for dinner one night. I even have the menu picked out. But I never seem to have the time, and I wonder if she does. And I always think--I have so little time, so little precious time to do stuff with my kids--what if she is the same way and would much rather spend the evening lounging with her family than eating Moroccan couscous with me? Plus, our house is small, and with all of the kid stuff around, not that conducive to entertaining. I don't know. How did I turn into such a hermit?

I have daydreams about emailing a bunch of girls one Friday with the subject line "Girl's Night Out--WOOHOO!!!" But I don't. When I lived in CA, it was so easy to hop on the BART and ride to Berkeley to my favorite bar and meet up with friends. Here, we would have to drive an hour to get to a chain restaurant. Is it even worth it? When I probably need to be spending that time making sure my kids don't turn into sociopaths? And making sure that I get enough sleep so that I don't drive off the side of the mountain one day?

This is a dour post for a Sunday morning, I know. So, to lighten the mood, I'll give you a little snippet of life with Sam, my son. This morning, I went out to the car to retrieve our diaper bag. A turtle was on the porch. I picked him up and inspected him and then went back in the house. When Sam got up, I told him about the turtle, figuring he would be still on the porch. Because he's a turtle. And they are slow. And it is a big porch. Sam and I went outside, and the turtle was gone. I am looking for him and saying things like, "It has to be around here somewhere!" and Sam goes, "Well, Mom, it takes a turtle three hours to crawl a mile, and if it was an hour ago, he's probably 1/3 of a mile away by now. So he's probably not around anymore. Sorry, Mom." Then he walks back into the house. Ok then.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why Living in the South Rocks

Every season I go to a children's consignment sale to get my youngest daughter's clothes. I also buy her things in store or online (usually on sale), but I try to get a good number of things used. She doesn't get out a lot (no daycare or school), so she needs things that are comfy for just wearing around the house and that can be changed easily and efficiently. That said, I am a bit of a clothes snob for her--I don't do yard sales or anything like that, and there are only a few brands that I buy because I know they are good quality and won't fall apart in the washer (cheap kids clothes are the WORST for that). So this sale works for me--I can usually find lots of Gap and Gymboree togs for not a lot of scratch. For instance, today my goal was to buy 10 items for $40.

However, I was a bit nervous about going this time around. I had just read about Allie's experience at a similar sale at Me & Emerson Elaine, plus I had seen fliers for this season's sale that said how it was bigger this time, with more consignors. Plus, it had been hyped quite a bit through Facebook and signage around the area. I had a feeling it was going to be much more crowded and probably not as fun. Also, in the past, I've had a friend who was working it and gave me her extra pass for the "preview" night on Thursday. This time, we have a mutual friend who is expecting and also has a three year old boy. I told my friend to give it to her, that I could just go on Friday with everyone else.

So today I took off to take Al to the dr., and to go to the sale. I wanted to get there at 9:00 when it opened, but my husband made me late. He is bad for that. The boy has not sense of timing. At all. Drives me batty. Anyway, I ended up getting there closer to 10:00.

The parking lot was full, and I was about to just turn around and leave. But the scent of a good deal kept me going. Because I am a selfish, awful person, I had just splurged on a top that I wanted from Loft, paying full price for it (when it will surely go down in price later) just because I wanted to make sure I got my size. I also want to get some other stuff with the savings cards I have. This means I need to make up for it in other ways. So, I got out, put Alice in the stroller, and went to it. It was definitely bigger this year--in the past, everything had been in one large gym type room of the church, with a few larger things in the hall outside of that room. However, this year, toys and gear was in its own large room, with clothes, shoes and baby blankets and stuff concentrated in the gym. Alice and I beelined to the 18-24 mo. rack, and I made a clean sweep, quickly sorting through what was cute and what was utter garbage. I was pretty happy with what I got, shoved it in my Ikea bag and moved on. I was super stoked about a Gymboree cardigan and pant set I got with strawberries on it. Cute!

About this time, Alice decided to start making this awful sound she makes. It is a growl/screech/moan, and can be approximated to the sound a very horrible mythical creature would make as it slowly dies. Very hard to explain, and absolutely HORRIFYING to hear. I'm pretty sure that Sam has something to do with her doing it--he thinks it is hilarious when she does it. She seems to do it for no particular reason and at odd times. I quickly started telling her to hush, knowing that people were probably staring at us. Alice is sitting there with this goofy grin on her face, and I want to hold her up over my head and exclaim, "LOOK! She's happy! I'm not beating her! You can stop trying to contact social services now!" Out of nowhere, this lady who volunteers at the sale walks up to her, and I'm pretty sure she's about to tell me to take her out, preferably to the next county over.

"She's a pretty baby," she says. I want to say, "Yeah, but have you heard that decidedly not pretty sound coming from her?" I don't. I just thank her. She smiles at Alice, who is now transfixed, and goes, "Would you like me to take her in the toy room while you shop?"

Now normally, my go-to answer would be "No thanks." Alice is very attached to me, and has been known to scream bloody murder if she gets 5 feet from me, even if she is with Matt or another family member. But she's just staring at this lady, and I think, "What can it hurt?" The woman looks like Aunt Bea, ya'll. And I know that it is always the one that you don't expect who turns out to have a murdered hooker under his/her mattress, but I'm pretty sure this woman smells like sugar cookie dough, Yankee candles and love and has never even thought of the words "murdered hooker" in the same sentence. And besides, Alice would be very close to me. If I hear her go nuts, I can get to her easily. So I say ok. I finish shopping a bit as Alice is wheeled away, even finding some things for Sam, and then make my way to the toy room.

Alice is sitting in the floor when I arrive, happily playing with two other kids this woman has acquired. Aunt Bea is also sitting in the floor, making beaded necklaces for the two girls with a vat of beads and yarn that must belong to the church. She puts Alice's on her right as I walk in. Alice smiles really big. I am able to walk around the room a few times, and then I check out my stuff and come back and get Allie, who is all sunshine and flowers. No more evil Hell calls, no more whininess. I briefly wonder if she has been slipped Ecstasy. At any rate, I get out of there with eight clothing items for $37, a Dora See and Say that sees and says in Spanish ($3), a shirt and pair of jeans for Sam ($7), a pair of New Balance tennis shoes for Al ($10) and a pair of Stride Rite Mary Janes ($4).

Then, this afternoon, I took Gabby to get her hair cut. The day that we all thought would go down in infamy. My normal hair stylist (who I played t-ball with as a kid) is out on maternity leave, so I had made an appointment with this other lady whom I had never met. We go in, and Gabby is already getting twitchy. When I see the lady who will be cutting our hair, Gabby and I both immediately start talking. I want this, she wants that. The hairstylist just sits there and smiles. Then, really slowly, she goes, "I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to cut it to where she wants it (motioning to the spot where Gabby said she would "accept" a trim to) and then I'm going to cut long layers in the rest of it so that it will lay better. You'll both like it." Just really matter of fact. I should note that she has an accent like molasses. I take Alice and sit down and she gets to work.

Moments later, Gabby is done and she's got this big smile on her face. And it really is better than I even dreamed. Gabby's hair looks healthy, and there sure was a lot of it pooling around her feet, meaning that I will not have to deal with that hair come Monday morning, so I'm happy. And it is still long, so Gabby's happy. I go over for her to cut my bangs (since I had to bring Alice along, I decided just to get a quick and dirty cut), and she shapes every thing up and we talk. As we are talking about our daughters and their quests for long hair, she starts asking me where we live. I tell her, and she says, "Did you see that car wreck a few days ago near the produce market?" I answer that I had, that I had driven down the other side of the four lane as they were cleaning it up. She goes, "Do you know who that was?" I answer that I did not. And I'm thinking, "This is a crazy place that she would assume that just because I live in a certain town that I would have both seen the wreck and know who was involved." And once in my life, if someone had asked me such a question, I would have rolled my eyes and found them to be so quaint. But today, I just smiled. And I liked it. There is this assumption that we are all in it together and all sort of watching out for each other. It is nice. She only charged me $15 to cut both our hair, but I gave her a $5 tip for working us in and being so nice.

I don't want to spend the rest of my life here, Lord knows. Matt and I consider Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run to be our "song" because neither one of us really wants to ever settle down. He figure we might stay somewhere (maybe wherever we move next) for a little while and get the kids grown, and then move around more--we have a long list of places we want to live and do. That's just our personalities--what we like. We're both a bit itchy, and the thought of staying in any place for the rest of my life scares the absolute shit out of me. I complain about living here in the sticks--finding decent food is trying at times, and one can be encountered by a bit of closemindedness. But...the people are genuinely caring. And nice. And I know there are nice people everywhere. But there is just something about Southerners. Their pace, their attitude, everything is just so damn comforting to me. Probably because I am a Southerner myself. But still. I love it.

The next time I complain, I will try to remember this post, and the fact that someone, somewhere got Alice to quit making that godawful noise so I could shop. God bless her.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

Just so you know my life is not filled with pure unadulterated pre-teeange angst, I will give you a glimpse into what turned out to be a very nice, very fun, relaxing Labor Day weekend.

On Saturday, I went to the Farmer's Market in my hometown. Our Farmer's Market is awesome, albeit pretty quiet. I am probably the only person under the age of 55 that frequents it (unless you count Alice, who always accompanies me). This nets us a lot of free, fun stuff from the farmers (who are, mostly, also over the age of 50). This week, my favorite two farmers were waiting for me with a big bag of apples, and an even bigger bag of concord grapes. As they were bagging this (and taking my $6--seriously, how awesome is that???), I asked if either had any tomatoes. One said that he did, but that they weren't pretty and were pretty ripe. I said I'd take them all. Something just siezed me at that moment, and I knew I wanted them. He was excited and gave me about 8-10 pounds of tomatoes for $5. He also threw in a bag of cute yellow cherry tomatoes for Alice.

So I came home and made homemade tomato sauce. It took me a long time to peel, seed, and process all the tomatoes, then to cook them down and thicken up my sauce. It turned out heavenly, and I was immensely proud of myself. I think the fam liked it too--we had it that night with fusili and homemade bread and topped with a good scattering of fresh basil. I tried to take pictures of the whole process, but our camera hadn't been charged in forever, and just refused to do it anymore. Oh well.

On Sunday, I took Gabby and Alice shopping. Gabby likes to shop at Justice, which is the Mecca for pre-teen girls. It is a touch expensive, but they run great sales, and we always get all the deals because I'm signed up on every possible coupon giving list they have. She had had her eye on an argyle cardigan and some jeggings. I was about to refuse, just because I consider the word "jeggings" to be a total afront to the English language, but I acquiesced, because well, I had a 40% off coupon. So we went. We stopped at Panera Bread to eat, which sadly enough, just may be one of my favorite places to eat. I mostly like it because it is fast enough to where I can go and enjoy my meal without one of my children exploding and because I can get healthy stuff there relatively cheap. Also because the Mediterranean veggie sandwich rocks my socks. I love peppadew peppers. Anyway, sated from lunch, we went shopping. Gabby found the sweater, along with another sweater, an argyle long-sleeve shirt (she's feeling the argyle this season, she says), and a dance jacket. Then she tried on the jeggings. Cue hilarity. She wasn't able to get in the first pair, even though they were her size. I got the next size up. She put them on, and walks out with the most hilarious look on her face. Then she goes, "I HATE THESE PANTS." I thought they were quite cute, but she wasn't having it. She considered it a personal affront that the jeggings didn't work. So now, it is Gabby vs. Jeggings, Round 1. My money is on Gab--she is wiley. We tried to forget the great jeggings debacle by indulging in mall cookies and then going to Old Navy and picking up some treats at Sonic before heading home. We stopped by my grandmother's house for a while, so I could dop off some tailoring work (one of my grandmother's friends was a professional seamstress and now does tailoring for me) and so we could have a little visit. Yea for finally getting to wear the Rock and Republic jeans I got off Ebay that were way, way too long! Gabby ended up spending the night at my grandmother's house.

On Monday, I had to go to a family reunion that I always go to on Labor Day weekend. I go because my grandmother wants me to, not because it is so darn fun. As Gabby will point out to anyone who indulges her by listening, it is mostly old people. Really, really old people. But, my grandmother asked me to go and to make scalloped potatoes, so I did both. I have made scalloped potatoes maybe 2 times previous in my life, but for some reason, my grandmother thought that I should make them. I bought some smoked gouda to jazz them up a bit, which turned out pretty nice, if I do say so myself. We had some lunch there, where my family members (the vast majority of whom I do not know) picked at the kids and discussed the various prescriptions that they take. Ick.

While we were there, my kids went out to the playground next to the meeting hall where the reunion was. While out there, they saw my cousin and her daughter. This is a cousin I grew up with, have had countless exploits with, and have just lost touch with over the years, except for the odd holiday/birthday. Gabby came in and told me, and I went out and chatted with her for a while. We had a lovely time. She snapped a couple of pictures with her phone as we talked:

The kids with their cousin, Kayleigh. Notice Gabby mugging for the camera, while Sam closes his eyes to make himself invisible until he gets a drink of Coke. Blackmail doesn't work, buddy.

Also know that I had been wearing a cardigan all day, so the look wasn't as nearly as "HELLO BOOBIES!" as it is in that picture.

Then I came home. Matt had been smoking a pork butt all day for bbq, so I made some baked beans, deviled eggs and rolls (I had already made the dough for the rolls and let it rise while I was gone--I just put it in the pans for a second rising). Then I made these beauties: banana pecan cupcakes with caramel buttercream. They were, in a word, amazing. I made homemade caramel to put in the frosting, so now, I might be a teensy bit obsessed with homemade caramel. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to make at least 17 batches this weekend. Or maybe just one. We'll see. I want to try my hand at some sea salt caramels like the kind that Matt and I had on our anniversary trip this year. Yum-mo. My father-in-law and brother-in-law stopped by to eat with us, and then stayed for a while to play with the kids. After they left, Matt and I shared a bottle of $2 Chuck on the couch and giggled at the LA Dodgers.

I am very excited for fall to get here, but part of me will miss weekends like this--the ease, the sun, the family. This summer has been truly fun and I am sad to see it go. I wore my white jeans on Monday (albeit with a Jackie) and felt kind of sad knowing that it would be the last time. The funny thing is, I was sitting outside, though, and I looked down and there are quite a few little faded pinpoint stains on them--most of them look like bbq sauce or something like that. You can't see them when I'm not in direct sunlight, so I wasn't that stressed. They just reminded me of the fun of summer--the food, the memories, the trips. The jeans are a good reflection of all of that.

Mama Drama

I apologize for my absence. My husband and I somehow got computer viruses on our two home computers and they proceeded to DIE on exactly the same day. One of these computers is very old--we bought it my husband's first year of grad school. It was one of our first "BIG" purchases as a married couple and we were so proud of it, so we have been careful over the years to take care of it. We were very sad because we thought it had gone to the Giant Harddrive in the Sky, but one of my husband's old high school acquaintances was able to bring it back! Yea! So now I am sitting here typing on it. This pleases me.

Anyway, I am writing this short post because I need to, because if I don't, I might pull out all my hair, or acquire a drinking problem, or become one of those people you see in grocery store parking lots talking to themselves and eating fried chicken off of the bone. As you may know, I have an 11 year old daughter. If you also have (or have had) one of these beings, you are shaking your head in agreement right now because you know what I'm going to say. If you haven't, allow me to explain. Having an 11 year old daughter is like waking up every morning and staring at a blender. Some days you make yourself a nice smoothie with strawberries and chocolate soy milk and bananas and life is good. And some days you stick your hand in and turn the thing on. You don't know why--it just happens. And just when you think it couldn't get any worse, you wake up the next day and have to face that same damn blender again. And again.

So it goes.

I adore my daughter, I really do. I'm not one of those parents who honestly wants to ship their child off to boot camp or something. My daughter is amazing--she's a straight A student, she is easy to get along with (mostly) and she is caring and kind. 95% of the time, I stare at her, and I'm just giddy thinking that when I was a kid her age, I would have loved to hang out with her. But 5% of the time, living with her is like living with the cast of Days of Our Lives. Especially during that summer when Stefano cursed Marlena so she was possessed by the devil and had those green eyes and then John was possessed by it too, and Kristen had something to do with it too, but I can't remember what, and then I had to go back to school for the school year and never found out exactly what happened. SO MUCH DRAMA. Something is always going on in this kids life--someone she knows is being wronged, she has been wronged, OMG OUR CHEERLEADING UNIFORMS HAVE NOT COME IN AND I CAN NOT FACE ANOTHER DAY. Mostly we just ride the wave and occasionally share eye rolls among the other (sane) members of the family, but this week it has just reached fever pitch. Because of two events: the County Fair and a hair appointment.

I'll start with the fair. The fair here is a BIG DEAL. One of the local counties lets their students out of school early just to go to the fair. People plan their lives around this thing. Me? I hate the thing. It smells bad, the ground is muddy so I have to wear sneakers with jeans (THE INHUMANITY!), the rides are manned by people who have, at best, 3rd grade educations. Seriously. Go to the fair and count teeth, folks. You'll end up in the double digits at best. ANYWAY, Gabby has talked for about 3 months about it. How all her friends are going, what rides she will ride, who broke their arm at the fair last year (hint: it was more than one person!), what they will wear. She informed us that she absolutely positively had to go on Wednesday because that is Ride Unlimited night (for the low, low price of $20 per kid) and that is when all her friends are going. We kind of tacitly agreed to take her. But then she has dance on Wednesday, so my husband quietly asked her if maybe it wouldn't be a better idea to go on Friday night. This is when we became The Enemy. In fact, some day, if Gabby develops, God forbid, some sort of addiction and we are all on Intervention, this is when the Black Screen of Judgement will come on and say, "When Gabby was 11, her father suggested she attend the Fair on a Friday. She wanted to attend on Wednesday. Things changed." She proceeded to tearfully recount why this is the WORST IDEA ANYONE HAS EVER HAD THAT DIDN'T INVOLVE INVADING RUSSIA DURING THE WINTER (my kids are interested in Napoleon lately for very strange reasons). We ended up having this huge Conversation where she ended up sobbing, I ended up biting my lips, and my husband ended up raising his voice and blinking a lot.

And the hair appointment. My daughter has very, very long hair. She loves it. No one else does. Along with it being very long, it is also thick, sometimes a bit coarse, and very easily tangled. We have tried all kinds of remedies on it--from Aussie Three Minute Miracle to Aveda smoothing glosses to Moroccan oil. It remains hard to deal with. However, when she was 7 years old, I got it cut right before picture day and she hated it, so she refuses to cut it more than an inch at a time. Because she is very busy with after school activities, and she is getting older, I can not honestly take it any more. So I made her an appointment for us both to go and have a girls beauty night out where we would both get our hair cut and then go out for dinner and hopefully have a grand old time. Except for the fact that when I told her about it (we had been talking about getting it cut for a while now), she threw one holy fit and said she would not get it cut shorter than about two inches off the end and that I would "RUIN [HER] LIFE" because she would be "SO UGLY." I was floored. Matt said that after that, I should just take her to a cheap place in Wal Mart and have it all chopped off. Uh, yeah, I'm not going to do that. The truth is, I don't know what to do. Any time I mention the appointment now, she cries. Like crazy. I have tried explaining that I'm not going to get it hacked off, that I am going to let the stylist find a great cut for her that will be shorter, but not necessarily short and that will work with her lifestyle. She doesn't want to hear it. She has started saying that Friday (the day of the appointment) will be the worst day of her life.

So I am utterly at a loss. I don't want to indulge her behavior, nor do I want to do something that will seriously upset her (i.e., taking her to Wal-Mart to hack off her her hair). We ended up letting her have her way with the fair (Matt and the kids are there as we speak--Al and I are chilling at home as Al does not like to have Guns and Roses' greatest hits blasted at her from all directions), and the whole afternoon, Matt has said, "We shouldn't be doing this." But we are. Because ultimately, I understand that a lot of this is hormonal. And because she is my baby, and I want her to be happy. But I worry. I don't want to be one of those moms that just indulges their child willy nilly and ends up with some sort of sociopathic crackhead (see Lohan, Lindsey). I want her to know there are limits to what we will do to insure her happiness, and I want her to know that those limits are in place for her own damn good. But it is hard. Parenting is hard. And it is hard not for all the reasons that people bitch and moan about. Yea, changing diapers is not that great (especially when your cloth diapered baby has recently discovered an obsession with grapes--ick), and kids are a bit expensive (although not as much as many people think with inventions like the internet and Craigslist and coupons and the like). But the real trouble happens when you just don't know what to do. When your head tells you to do one thing, but there stands the kid, and my God, she's so beautiful and you only have like seven more years with her before she goes to college and has some professor who tells her that you did everything wrong and that her parents are just horrible, horrible cogs in the patriarchal, post colonialistic, post modern hegemony-wheel. Sigh.

Anybody out there got a beer? Could you send it my way? Thanks.