Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crazy, crazy and more crazy...

Dear Internet,

I have a tale to tell, a cautionary tale of home improvement, borderline obsessive compulsiveness and hands deformed and misshapen from nine hours of sanding and scraping.

It all began when my husband took my children to the mountains to partake in any number of horrors outdoor winter sports. Three days of quiet and relaxation. Ahhhhh. So lovely.

At least it was for about three minutes until I decided that I should do all of the home improvement projects which have been vexing me for months. I had this idea, this notion, that if only I got everything organized and properly cataloged I would never waste another moment of my life looking for anything again.

I could see my home recreated as the love child of Ikea and The Container Store. The perfect combination of tidy and chic.

It seemed very logical in my addled mind that I should begin by repainting Rebecca's floor. I removed the contents of her room and put them into my room, the hallway and Lily's room and began to scrape and sand.

This took many, many, many, more hours than I imagined it would. To pass the time I listened to Jim Dale read aloud the seventh Harry Potter book, and even though I have read this book several times, I still sobbed great saw dusty tears into my face mask when Harry walks to Voldemort, ready to die.

There was no one to stop me from from my crazy so I went ahead and sanded in a tank top and underwear. I cannot recommend this outfit for sanding unless a butt full of saw dust is a desired outcome for you and if it is, please do not tell me about it.

I finished the sanding at about 10pm on Tuesday night and got the first coat of paint on by 10:30. It was going very well until just as I was finishing the floor, I stepped in some paint. I hadn't the foresight to have some paper towels handy so I was forced to crawl through the hallway on my hands and knees and then flip myself into the tub so I could properly clean myself of paint and sawdust.

Day Two began with me realizing that my hands had taken on the appearance of crone's hands, or perhaps those of a very evil witch. They were in a permanent clutch from so many hours spent scraping the floor. In addition to my deformed hands, every other body part hurt as well from being hunched upon the floor alternately cursing my inferior tools and crying for poor Fred Weasley.

Not one to let good sense get the better of me, I plunged into the day anew. Four motrin and a hot shower gave me the strength to put two more coats of paint on Rebecca's floor. While the floor was  drying it was time to tackle Lily's room. I sorted all four hundred and fifty seven Littlest Pet Shop animals, Polly Pockets and Monster High Dolls into separate buckets and as long as Lily never actually plays with her toys, her room will stay nice and tidy.

It was by midday Wednesday that I began to have some nagging doubts about my master plan. I could see that achieving the organizationgasm which I desired would prove elusive as long as I had other people living with me. Plus, handling all of these objects was making me very tired. All the bins, the toys, the books- I could feel my dream crumbling.

I'd be lucky if it stayed tidy for ten minutes once my family came home.

Nonetheless, this project had become too big to simply abandon it. I could only go forward and hope that there was chocolate on the other side.

I began putting Rebecca's stuff back in her room which helped clear out the hallway and my bedroom a bit.

Meanwhile, I had "borrowed" two bookcases from the master bedroom for Lily's room which meant that I needed to sort through all of the books which I had dumped on my bed.

This is when a miracle happened. It was the miracle of "Law and Order" on television for four hours straight. I don't watch much television, so this was a revelation and it got me through the mind numbing boredom of book sorting. Once the books where sorted into the boxes of giveaways and the keepers, I had to find new homes for the keepers. These I brought downstairs and put on the shelves.

By the time I was done with the books it was time for me to clean out my closet. By now it was evening. I ate some nachos and by then "Bones" was on. It turns out that I love that show! Who knew?

By the time I was done with the closet and the nachos, I had solved two murders and was almost done for the night. I swept and vacuumed, cleaned the bathrooms and washed the kitchen floor.

I declared myself done.

As I lay in bed last night I tried to reconcile the death of my dream. My basement is still a mess, worse than ever really since I hauled two bookcases and a dresser down there yesterday. I had wanted to begin the new year completely organized- everything in its place and a system for everything. The fall and winter felt so chaotic to me- like I was always trying to catch up.

I think I have caught up a bit, but it will never live up to my dream. Happy families, it turns out, are not tidy things.

Love often leaves its toys out and forgets to hang up its towel.

Today I took it easy. Ran a few errands, but mostly I rested. I made peace with reality and found contentment in lying in bed with the dogs and watching Law and Order.

So, I am ready to begin 2011 with a slightly more organized home and all of the love my crazy heart can hold.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Still an idiot...

This post is going to be short because my hands are cramping.

Oh? Why are my hands cramping?

Well, David took the children out to the Berkshires to see cousins and grandparents and I stayed home so that I could undertake any number of completely stupid household projects which have been plaguing my fragile psyche for the last year.

Remember about a year and a half ago I blogged about how I had just painted the upstairs floors white, but that I hadn't sanded the girls rooms first?

Well, that paint job looked terrible. The painted really hadn't grabbed, which meant that it was peeling and scratched and just looked awful, especially compared to the hallway which I did sand and has held up very well.

Today, armed only with a dull putty knife and a small finish sander I scraped and sanded the hell out of that floor. I had thought that I would just be able to sand the paint right off.

I have rarely been so wrong.

Maybe if I had an actual floor sander and not some dinky four inch sander which loses its paper every ten minutes the paint would have come off. Instead, I spent nine hours scraping and sanding and washing and then scraping and sanding again before I was finally able to get the floor prepped for paint and get a coat on it.

My house has never been so squalid ever in the history of my life.

Do not stop by. I will hide under my bed and pretend not to be home until you go away.

Yours in stupidity,

Shiny Red Idiot

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sister Tree..

We had a small Christmas tragedy today at Shiny Red Houses. In spite of having my act together in virtually every other holiday way, we had somehow put off our annual "run and play through the forest of Christmas trees and feed the goats at the local Fancy Schmancy garden center."

The Fancy Schmancy garden center wrapped up their Christmas festivities over the weekend and shipped the petting zoo back to Siberia. The Christmas trees were largely gone and there was great sadness.
Luckily, our Second Favorite Fancy Schmancy garden center still had its animals, though they were not allowed to be fed by my poor pitiful homeschool urchins who were desperate to nourish the bellies of farm animals.

We admired the goats and even the llama. There were about a dozen big trees left, the rest were the most sorry collection of scraggly dwarf trees I have ever seen. There were definitely not enough trees to play hide and seek in so the kids tried to make the little sad trees more attractive by giving them snow ornaments.

It was pathetic. I had failed my children and ruined Christmas.

They consoled themselves by pretending that they were going to buy a real tree, which while small and full of bare spots would be superior in every way to our nine foot, pre-lit Martha Stewart artificial tree. They propped up the listing trees and encouraged the trees depressed by the weight of being overlooked on Christmas.

Finally, it was time to go. The girls took last sad looks at the forest that Christmas forgot and began to leave.

And there, right as we were heading to the exit, I saw the sign.

"50% off all $9.99 trees! Just $4.99!"

These were barely even trees, more like branches. Each was about two feet tall and clearly needed a home. The girls looked at me. I looked at them.

"Go ahead. Choose a tree."

There was joy and delirium! A tree! A real tree!

Now you should know that I have six lit trees in my house. Each bedroom has a small tree, there is a small tree in the kitchen decorated with vintage cookie cutters, the main nine foot tree in the living room and a tree on the porch which we call the "sister tree". The "sister tree" is a five foot skinny tree which the girls decorate together. The ornaments are pink and lacy and feminine. The lights on this tree gave out last week so I bought some new lights yesterday and planned on redoing the tree today.

Well, our little consolation tree became our new sister tree today.

It still had snow on it when I propped it up in an old silver champagne bucket.

The lights and decorations went up in a flash of giggling and grinning.

The experience reminded me of the purpose of the tree. Bringing in a tree which stays green all year and covering it with lights to ward off the darkness is the essence of hope and faith. Tonight the sister tree means so much more to me and reminds me of all of the light with which I am blessed.

Merry Christmas to you and your families and may your holidays be filled with light!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Peeking out...

It's been a week since I've posted and I've been trying to understand my own reluctance to bring my thoughts here to share with you. This month marks one year since our family went through some really serious hardships. We were healthy and our family was strong, but the recession had hit us far harder then I ever imagined it could.

I was terrified. I was terrified by the very real possibility of putting our kids back in school, not because school was a bad place, but because of the amazing educational experience the girls and I were having together. I was coming to understand them in new ways and teaching them had become one of the greatest joys of my life. Every night for months I went to bed feeling scared and sick, knowing that if things did not improve the dynamics of our family would have to change so that I could get a job.

It would not have been the end of the world. I know this. I know how this sounds. I just loved my job of teaching them, of being with them and the thought of giving it up was sheer heartbreak.

We tightened our belts and then tightened them some more. We watched every dollar and made choices about what really mattered.

And then, slowly, things got better.

There were setbacks, but mostly things got better and the sick feeling in my gut slowly went away.

This month has been a difficult one, not because our circumstances have changed. On the contrary, our outlook is quite good.

December has been difficult because of the remembering. The approach of Christmas is linked in my mind like a shackle to those days of worry and stress. I worry that December will be ruined for me forever and that every year I will feel the tightening squeeze of anxiety pull at my heart.

I like to blog about the funny, the happy, and the triumphs, but sometimes I need to peek out from behind the curtain and invite you in and ask you for comfort.

Come round my table. I'll pour the tea and we'll share our troubles. We'll shoulder our burdens together with friendship and hope and we'll leave the table with lightened hearts.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The effects of rain in December when it should be snowing...

Well, here it is mid-December, a time year when a New England girl likes to look out of her window to gaze upon the beauty of snow falling gently from the sky.

When that snow defies the rules and falls out of the sky as rain, it casts a gloomy fog upon the residents of Shiny Red Houses and makes them very, very cross.

Why Rain in December is Bad:

1. Must take out dogs in the rain. Dogs do not like being out in the rain. Bad dog chooses to wait until she is inside and poop on the floor. Bad dog!

2. The rain causes each family members most annoying traits to be amplified. This creates the need to find ever more creative places to hide from them.

3. Most effective hiding place is the basement which is dark and gross. It is however, the hiding place for all of the leftover Halloween candy.

4. While hiding from hideously annoying family members in the basement it seems like a Very Good idea to sample leftover Halloween candy.

5. Must then both hide in the basement and attempt to do difficult math to calculate the caloric damage of eating twelve mini butterfingers.

6. Find yourself eating m&m's while realizing that caloric math is hard.

7. Go upstairs and decide to give Lily an impromptu hair cut. Regret this decision almost immediately. Assure her that it looks "spunky".

8. Eat more butterfingers.

9. Attempt to make some Christmas ornaments to give as gifts. Upon viewing the ornaments, pray that friends and family are kindhearted or at the very least possessed of poor eye sight.

10. Take soothing bath with youngest child. Have youngest child ask, "Mommy, are your boobs going to keep getting droopier? I am a curious child and want to know."

11. Get out of tub and check weather report. More rain.

12. Huddle under pugs and wait for snow.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Homeschooling: A day of Innovation...

Today at the Shiny Red School Room we did some unconventional learning- the kind of thing for which there really isn't the time or space in regular school.

We had a day of Innovation.

What is innovation? Innovation and its soul mate inspiration are the sparks which have led to every cool and interesting invention and idea in the world. The car? Innovation. Cell phone? Innovation. Salad Spinner? Innovation!

To accomplish this goal I took out lots of supplies like wood pieces, glue, paint, fabric, pipe cleaners, ribbons, crayons and paper. Onto the table it went and in no time the girls and I became engineers.

Lily decided pretty quickly that she wanted to reconstruct the Great Hall from Hogwarts.

Rebecca began to construct a fairy house with columns and a cobblestone floor.

We worked for hours learning the sorts of things which can not be quantified on standardized tests. 

There was a lot of engineering involved. What makes a fairy house roof stable? Will glue alone do it? Will additional supports need to be added? 

Problem solving plays a starring role in innovation. We ran out of one size of wood. What could  be used as a substitution?

We allowed our projects to take as much time as was needed. Innovation can't be rushed. The brain has to be allowed time to consider different ideas and to then move forward with a great one.

I made a fairy house. I love fairy houses!

I made this fairy family. Those are real birds nests that we found while on the cape at Thanksgiving!

Rebecca is very pleased with her creation.
Check out the sink!

Lily's Hogwarts Great Hall and characters kept her busy for a long time. 

I like it when Lily is busy for a long time.

There is such value in unstructured learning- in allowing kids to use materials without instructions and without a specific end in mind. 

From the outside our day looked like arts and crafts, but on the inside I was creating tomorrows great inventors.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I hold the cookies. You must pee on the lawn...

Dear Dogs,

Yes, it is cold outside. I understand that you are unhappy with this situation. However, sitting on the lawn and shivering instead of doing that which must be done will only prolong our mutual dissatisfaction with the temperature.

This is not a battle which you will win, unless you learn to use the toilet, in which case I will feed you cheeseburgers every night.

Shiny Red Treat Holder

Friday, December 3, 2010

What homeschooling can look like...

Before we went on our trip to Arizona, we suspended many of our usual studies so that we could focus on learning about Arizona, its history and culture.

We took out a heap of books about Arizona from the library and read through them. The internet was a great resource too.
Each girl has a field trip fact and sketch book. They wrote and illustrated these books and then brought them on our trip to add additional facts and pictures.

Rebecca decided to do a page in her journal entitled, "Venomous Creatures That Can Kill You".

We didn't see any of these creatures, but it was good to know the many forms which death can take.

Homeschool your kids and you will avoid death by spider. The end.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An apology...

Dearest Tooth,

I was wrong, oh so wrong. I judged you. I abandoned you without a backward glance, so sure was I of your betrayal. I did not listen to your quiet pleas that I listen to your side of the story.

Tooth, I was a fool. I should have known that you would never turn your back on me. When the dentist informed me that my dear sweet tooth was fine, but that it was the crown which failed, well, I nearly died of the shame.

The dentist praised your pluck and determination."That," she said, "is a healthy tooth!" She fitted you, and reassured you and tonight you are encased in a temporary crown, a crown which comes not even close to capturing your majesty.

But soon my sweet, soon you will be enrobed in the finest and strongest crown of which my insurance will cover 50%. It will be your finest hour.

Please tooth, take me back. I grovel at your gum line, will kiss the plaque between your teeth. I am at your mercy dear tooth.

With love and a humble heart,

Shiny Red Sara

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A traitor among us...

Have you ever had the experience of having a perfectly lovely day?

You know, you teach your kids and decorate your home for the holidays. Maybe you even roast a turkey that you got on sale at the Market Basket for .49 a pound.

Yup, it's all going great.

Sure, you've noticed a little twinge of pain in your back molar this week, but nothing to get concerned about. Just put on some Johnny Mathis and relax.

And it's all great, really great, until that one evil, traitorous molar decides that it's too good for your mouth. Maybe it wants someone who flosses more frequently or uses unflavored lipgloss. It doesn't really matter why the tooth has decided to ruin your life because all that matters is that your tongue has gone on alert. It is prying and poking and running along the offending tooth and sending some pretty bad news to your brain.

Tongue: "Um sir, there appears to be a problem with the tooth."
Brain: "Go ahead soldier, what's happening on the field?"
Tongue: "It's bad sir, real bad! There seems to be a crack extending from the gum line all the way through to the other side of the tooth."
Brain: "We are at DEFCON 1! I repeat! We are at DEFCON 1! Alert the stomach to begin anxiety pains and unease! THIS IS NOT A DRILL- well, not yet. The drilling will happen tomorrow when we take that tooth down!"

So there you are. That tooth is dead to me. After all of these years together- the chocolate, the ice cream, the cheeseburgers, it just decided to turn tail.

I've got news for you tooth, tomorrow I'm going to go to the dentist and she will make you pay.

Actually she will also make me pay, but I'd rather not think about that...

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's very dark at 5am...

When my children were babies they never slept.

No really, they didn't.

They had ear infections and they teethed in a constant cycle of exhausted misery. I would lie awake with them in the night, nursing them and comforting them and I would imagine a future life for myself in which I was able to sleep for more than an hour at a time. My fantasies about REM sleep were vivid. I could just imagine what dreaming again would be like, the things I might accomplish once I was rested enough to think complete thoughts again.

Those days are thankfully far behind me and one of the greatest gifts of homeschooling is that we never wake up in the dark. The children often sleep until 8:30- even 9:00 and this may in fact be my greatest accomplishment as a parent.

These thoughts went through my mind as I set my alarm for 5am on Friday morning so that I might make my way into the ocean of consumer abundance known as Black Friday.

Why did I want to be at Toys R Us at 6 o'clock in the morning? I really have no idea. It was certainly not rational, but like a salmon compelled to swim upstream, I felt that I must participate in this frenzy of avarice and possibility.

When my alarm went off it was very, very dark. It was quite like nighttime actually, the kind of deep cold nighttime favored by serial killers plotting to carve innocent bargain hunting housewives into tiny bits.

I was kind of freaked out by the dark and the wind, so I wrapped my coat tightly around my body as I made my way into the car. Once inside I looked in the back seat, certain that something sinister must be waiting for me back there. My inspection only revealed the usual suburban minivan detritus of candy wrappers, pretzels ground into the floor and the broken promises of no eating in the car.

Once on my way I tried to chase away my fears by playing some Christmas music. The dulcet sounds of Johnny Mathis comforted me all the way to Toys R Us.

I arrived.

Inside I found cheerful bedlam and heaps of cheap plastic toys. There were lots of mothers and inexplicably to me, entire families doing their shopping. Why someone would take their husband and children with them to Toys R Us at 6am is a mystery to me.

I began manically throwing things into my cart making my selections carefully and soon I was completely broke finished with my toy shopping.

Then I went to the mall, which was crowded, but manageable. Well, it was manageable except for The Gap which had 40% OFF THE ENTIRE STORE which made shoppers insane. People had armloads of clothes which they heaped onto the counters in an orgasmic frenzy. I left, because really, I like to buy my Gap stuff for 3.99 at the junk store.

After the mall, I went to The Christmas Tree Shop (20% OFF YOUR ENTIRE PURCHASE!), Bed Bath & Beyond (20% OFF YOUR ENTIRE PURCHASE!), Marshalls, Michael's (30% OFF YOUR ENTIRE PURCHASE!) and finally Kmart (DOORBUSTERS! 50% OF ALL KINDS OF CRAP!).

After Kmart it was time to make my way back. It was noon and I was done. My Christmas shopping was complete and I was both exhausted, which made me feel saintly, and smug, which made me feel like a sinner. This is the defining conflict of my life and the direct result of being taught by nuns.

Friday night I fell into bed and did not move until the sky was light. I shall make it my goal to not see the morning darkness for at least another year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sled dogs...

Thanksgiving arrived on Cape Cod delivering French Canadian pastries, french onion soup and perfectly cooked prime rib.  It was, to put it simply, perfection. We took the dogs for a long walk on the beach to prepare Pugsley for his starring role as Balto: The Dog Who Saved Nome.

He is really quite the heroic beast.

Sophie spent time at the beach learning an important lesson: Pugs who eat sand, barf sand.

Once we returned from the beach it was time for the big performance!

A sign indicating the destination of the noble Balto was painstakingly prepared by Pepere.

The sled carrying the life saving vaccine was attached to Pugsley and we described his mission to him.

Go straight!
Do not get distracted!
Do not eat the life saving vaccine!
It is not nap time!

Finally, it was time for his trip to commence.

Rebecca read aloud the story of Balto beginning with the story of his trip to Nome and ending with his taxidermic (Is taxidermic a word?) final resting in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

There was much rejoicing in the house as Pugsley completed his epic journey across the room. We celebrated by eating the life saving vaccine, which in this case, as in many cases, was chocolate. The dogs were released from further responsibilities, acting or otherwise and were rewarded with a nap by the fire and copious table scraps of prime rib.

After we had all eaten our fill, it was time for bed. I tucked myself in early in preparation of the big event, Black Friday.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Conversation with Nana, Rebecca and Lily...

Rebecca: "So Nana, you know what I would love? A fairy house that looks like a cottage, with some stairs, and maybe some flowers. Some cute fairy mushrooms would be great!"

Lily: "Nana? You know what I would love for you to make for me? A tank! With guns!"

My children in a nutshell.

Excuse me, I'm off to research tanks.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Perhaps the weird is not so unexpected...

Yesterday I called Nana is discuss Thanksgiving. Just as I was about to ask what I should bring, I could hear my dad shouting in the background.

I could make out bits. "Balto! Pugsley! vaccines! snow!" were the words which I caught.

My dad has announced that for Thanksgiving he would like Puglsey and Sophie to perform a dramatic reenacting of Balto's heroic run from Ancorage, Alaska to Nome, Alaska to bring a lifesaving vaccine to the people of Nome.

Does this dog look like a Siberian Husky capable of completing the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race?

So as we approach this quintessential American holiday of overeating and joy I will be searching for sled dog props sized to fit pugs.

Please send chocolate and dog harnesses.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A touch of ADD...

This week has been spent rather haphazardly.

For example, my room was pure squalor, but I did not really feel like cleaning it because honestly, cleaning is so boring. You know what is not boring? Rearranging all of the furniture in your room thereby confusing both pets and husband alike. The room gets tidy by default, but not before the squalor is transformed into pure chaos.

I applied the same technique to Rebecca's room which is now 50% devoted to an elaborate American Girl sleep/primp/learn area. Pure awesome.

I am going to annoy you all a little here by being a bit smug and boastful which will surely result in me developing a hideous facial lesion or suddenly gaining fifteen pounds. (Twelve years of Catholic school has left me a firm believer that God punishes those who boast.).

I have purchased and wrapped nearly all of the Christmas and Channukah presents for my family, and by family, I mean children. There is still a bit left, but only enough to be fun, not enough to keep me up at night imagining the christmas that mommy failed to make the magic.

I have also become obsessed with socks, you'll be delighted to learn. The socks which I want and can picture so perfectly in my head, are thick chunky warm socks, knee high with lovely patterns which peek over the tops of my boots. This happens to me all the time. I become completely obsessed with a product which I should be able to find quite easily only to be completely stymied by its complete lack of existence.

Okay, I took a break from writing this and found exactly what I am looking for. Except that these are $62. Which is not how much I am willing to pay for socks, no matter how perfect.

 David was away all week which meant that meal times have been a bit unorthodox. I roasted a turkey (.59 a pound!) on Tuesday and have been eating it all week. Except for when I was eating nachos. The children are quite sick of turkey and refuse to take another bite so it is very fortunate that Thanksgiving this year will feature prime rib, which let's face it, completely trumps turkey every time.

I just remembered that I have some actual news which is not about housework or socks!

My children are now athletes! It is true! My baby, my little Lily scored two baskets at her basketball game on Saturday. Two baskets!!! Those of you who knew me in high school and witnessed the precision with which any ball in an athletic setting would hit me in the head can appreciate the miracle which is Lily throwing a ball at a hoop and getting it in.

I think that seeing Lily become a future Olympian has inspired Rebecca because she has now signed up to play lacrosse. My husband is positively bouncing with excitement. Finally, the day has come when his children will fulfill their genetic legacy and catch and throw balls towards intended targets.

Finally, I need to know what everyone's Black Friday strategy is. What are you planning? Where are you going? I must know!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bathed in the glory of the ordinary...

Today Lily broke the toilet seat
And the defrosting turkey leaked raw juice
Into the vegetable crisper.

We are nearly out of groceries
And have no more light bulbs.
When I dropped a glass it shattered on the floor
And the shards scattered under the table and chairs
Daring me to find them.

There are overdue library books to return
And the cat box must be cleaned.

And yet,
My heart is full tonight.

My children
Please me with their sounds
And smells.

They delight me
When they breathe
And laugh
And hold me close.

All that I will remember of this day
Will be this:
I am blessed.

My only prayer
Will be:
Thank you.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Get away from the edge!" or Our trip to the Grand Canyon...

You know what that huge hole in the ground in Arizona should really be called?

Heart Attack Canyon because that what mothers have when they take their children to this national death trap.

It's a wondrous hole all right. Majestic even. But the fact remains that the Grand Canyon is nothing more than a than a deadly siren luring children towards its edges and aging mothers as they are forced to save their children from their own idiocy again and again and again.

I pointed out signs like this to my family.

I even pointed out this book which I found in the bookstore.

Luckily, the day we visited the Grand Canyon the weather was kind of chilly so everyone was all done with the majestic hole in the ground pretty quickly. I have never been so happy to leave a scenic location in my life.

A few days later we visited a location which was only slightly more deadly than the Grand Canyon but loads more fun, because at this location I got to feed a giraffe with my mouth.

Specifically this giraffe, which when viewed up close, is undeniably strange looking. His looks are unimportant however, because he was very kind and ate the carrots which we offered to him and he allowed us to pet him.

I did spend a few moments trying to figure out how I might smuggle this baby zebra home with me.

Look, I know that a lioness would not be a very sensible new pet for our family, but just look at her.

We could lay in bed in the evenings eating cubes of raw steak and watching Law and Order reruns.
Did you know that if you are willing to hand over five dollars to the folks at Out Of Africa they will let you feed the white tiger?

Things you should know about my family:
We are not afraid of snakes.

We even kind of like them. I do not however want one as a pet. Must be clear about this. No snakes in the house.

I bet a prairie dog would make a great pet though!

After our exciting adventures and brushes with death we arrived home on Wednesday night where we gratefully fell into the arms of our dogs and into our soft and familiar beds. 

What have you been doing while I was trying to smuggle animals onto planes and avoid falling into the earth? Also, if you are a regular reader and would like to friend me on Facebook, I have a nifty button at the top of the page. Press it and we'll be connected like a lioness to a fleeing antelope!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Arizona! Montezuma's Castle! Sedona! Nachos!

Would it be wrong if I ordered the grande nachos with extra guacamole at every restaurant we eat in on this trip? Because if eating nachos every day is wrong I don't want to be right.

You'll be happy to know that our little band of fragile travelers made it out of my mothers fifty-five and older community and Saw The Sights.

Our first stop was Montezuma's Castle. It has nothing to do with Montezuma and is not a castle. Discuss amongst yourselves.

It is an amazing cliff settlement dating back to 1200 AD.

This was a perfect location for the kids to take out their sketch pads and get all homeschooly.

We also saw the second lizard to escape my clutches on this trip.

Why must you run little lizard? I only want to smuggle you home and knit you a sweater study you.

After our tour of the ruins it was nacho time! Yay nachos!

Nachos were followed by two things:

1. A trip to Sedona to see the red rocks.

2. A stern warning to the children to quit ruining my nacho buzz with their whining and bickering.

The best part about Sedona is that it is impossible to take a bad picture of the scenery. I got a million shots- each awesome.

Is it just me or does my arm look gigantic in this picture?
Speaking of gigantic, tomorrow we are off to the Grand Canyon where I hope to eat more nachos.

Friday, November 5, 2010

In which Arizona tries to kill me...

You guys know that I am not a great traveler right?

I could tell you a long story about our flights, my sore throat, my coughing and congestion, Rebecca's sore throat, Lily's sore throat and my altitude nausea, but really, who needs to hear that sorry tale?

Suffice it to say that we have now been in Arizona for three days. I have been in two Walmarts. Once for a booster seat for Lily (she chose the camo print, thanks for asking) and once for some cold medicine. I went to Goodwill (junking is healing) and two other junk stores. On route to one of those junk stores I walked briskly up a hill which nearly caused me to pass out from altitude sickness.

There has been jetlag.

I have seen a grasshopper, a lizard (which I tried to catch and failed) and my mother's cat who has only one good ear.

We are optimistic that tomorrow our health may actually permit us to venture into a genuine Tourist Area of Interest.

If not, I hear that's there's another Goodwill (Firearms are not permitted inside!) nearby. And I still need to catch a lizard.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The women with whom I share a genetic link are all a bit...well, odd.

There's my cousin Cheryl over at Deckside Thoughts. She is growing out her armpit hair for testicular awareness. I think. Total wacko.

There's Rebecca who recently wrapped a Barbie in toilet paper and announced that she was now Dead and Mummified Barbie.

There's Lily who weirdness is epic.

I might be a little strange.

Right now though, my mom is wearing the crazy crown.

A few months ago my mom emailed me with an idea. She wanted to honor my husbands fortieth birthday by making him a pink fluffy bunny suit identical to the one worn by Ralpie in A Christmas Story.

Why did she want to spend two weeks drowning in pink fluff? She is a mystery to me, though I suspect that she both longed for the challenge and knew that David is the only man she knows who would wear such a thing.

The timing was perfect. David's birthday is on October 30th which meant the pink bunny costume would also make a perfect Halloween costume.

Nothing says sexy like a man in a bunny costume.

I think that the man purse really gives the look some extra panache.
He walked through about three neighborhoods dressed like that. The kids loved it and in the 32 degree night, David was the only person out who wasn't cold.

Who needs dignity when you can be warm?

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Here we are, an entire week has gone by with nary a shiny red peep.

I was not blogging because I was planning a surprise, a surprise which was both thrilling, exhausting, and time consuming.

My husband turned forty yesterday and I threw him a surprise party. This has been a tough year for many people. The economic uncertainty made for a real roller coaster of a year and I wanted to do something special for David for having weathered it and for our friends who have been in so many ways the backbone of our survival. Since money is tight I knew that this party would require some ninja party planning skills to create an event which was both thrifty and totally crazy fun.

First, I spent a lot of time worrying about where to have the party.

Once I was done worrying and decided to have it at our house, I got to do what I do best- find creative solutions to tricky problems.

Yesterday, Rebecca and I sent Lily and David out to the movies and dinner. We didn't tell Lily about the party because she has a poor record with secret keeping. Rebecca, you will not be surprised to know, is a champion secret keeper and I could not have thrown this party without her.

David and Lily left the house at about 4pm yesterday. As soon as they left I got out my screwdrivers.

We took apart the dining room table and then proceeded to move it and all of the rest of the dining room furniture into the backyard.

Once the room was cleared out...

We got busy with lighting!

We put up one of these...

And some of these...

Add some food...

 And you've got a dance party!

I dressed for dancing. Also David likes trashy women. Happy Birthday honey!
David did a great job of acting surprised, but mostly he was happy to have our friends together for some crazy dancing!

Lily and Rebecca hate to be left out of a party so we invited them downstairs for some dancing.

Why is Lily dancing with Incredible Hulk boxing gloves? I have no idea. She is a strange child.

I have never in my entire life been able to do a split and yet my child makes it look easy.

David and Lily brought down the house with a synchronized worm.

The craziest dancers of the night were David and Amy. Holy cow- those two danced for hours!

Happy 40th birthday honey!

Make sure you check in tomorrow to hear the story behind this gift...