Thursday, December 30, 2010

my favorite things, 2010 edition

Just a list of things I liked in 2010.

1. Accessorizing. Boots, hats, scarves, chunky bracelets, fingerless gloves, and dangly earrings entered my life this year. I also learned to style my own bangs, wear skinny jeans without looking like a moron, and turn lead into gold.

2. Penelope. I just saw this movie for the first time and have a crush on it. I want to put wee James McAvoy in a China closet and knock Christina Ricci over and steal all her coats and dresses.

3. Young Adult books. Honestly, I don't want to read about brave fights against wasting diseases and single mothers and racial struggles. Reading shouldn't stress me out and make me cry. I'll save the whole plumbing-the-depths-of-the-human-soul for when I'm old. Now I want vampires and falling in love and first kisses and basically anything that will eventually become a movie or TV show. It's escapism, pure and simple.

4. Samosas. Brawndo is what plants crave. Samosas are what I crave. And also cupcakes, but that goes without saying. Just like a deaf person's car.

5. Twitter. Granted, I mostly follow writers and editors, so the spelling and grammar are exemplary. But it's a fun challenge, expressing oneself philosophically and wittily in 140 characters or less.

6. Etsy. Anything you want to see in the whole world has either already been made or can be requested via Alchemy. And if you don't believe the "anything" bit, check out Regretsy. If you dare.

7. Writing. I love writing books, and I love writing editorials, and I love freelancing. I love writing so much that I haven't painted in months, because I'm a much better writer than I am a painter. Plus, when writing, the nose is never off.

8. TV shows on DVD. It's been a good year for that sort of thing. New seasons of House, Venture Bros., Scrubs, and True Blood. Season 5 of Futurama. Family Guy's It's a Trap version of Return of the Jedi. And repeat watchings of Frisky Dingo. And now we're getting into Being Human. It's almost like we're real people.

9. My Nook. E-publishing isn't killing paper. It's just making it possible for me to read anything in the world at 11pm on Sunday. RIP, Cap'n Ampersand. Bienvenue, Lft. Interrobang!

10. Getting all oily. With these handy oil slathers. Seriously. Instead of standing around, freezing as you put on lotion after the shower, you slather yourself with oil *in* the shower, rinse off, and go. Brilliant concept. Take that, goosebumps!

Other things I love: Those gigantic white beans in tomato sauce at Trader Joe's, Babo Botanicals hair detangler, The Thinker's Thesaurus, talking to people from high school on Facebook, the mini trampoline my kids got for Christmas, painting clay at one of those strip mall stores specifically for painting clay, peacock feathers, more scarves, fingerless gloves, Sprite Zero, using a French Press, Mumford & Sons, finding all my old ska CDs, Iron & Wine, having my art studio clean, that chair I bought on sale at Ikea, and having a literary agent.

It's been a splendorous year!

I hereby challenge 2011 to stomp it with kickassery.

The gauntlet is thrown. I leave you to it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

parentitis.

I remember a time before kids, when a cold meant sympathy, a trip to Kroger for junk food and magazines, and two days of Paid Sick Time curled up in bed with a bottle of Nyquil and a stack of VHS cassettes.

Believe it or not, I miss those days.

And therefore I present you with:

Top 10 Ways to Know You're Sick With Kids

(...which is different than being sick *of* your kids)

1. You don't just get a cold. You get a weird, crippling, full-body virus that makes you suffer emotionally and physically, ravaging your soul from brain to toenail. But the rest of the world says, "It's just a cold". Even though your stomach is involved.

2. The cold isn't a 4-day affair generally lasting Friday through Monday. It lasts two weeks and leaves you huffing and puffing when you run up the stairs a month later.

3. If it gets bad enough that you go to the doctor, the doctor tells you that you have bronchitis because you didn't "take it easy". He then looks sternly at your maniacal children playing in the sharps box and insists you'll get pneumonia if you don't "take it easy". You laugh.

4. When your daughter says, "Mommy, you've been wearing that shirt since Christmas," you say, "What's your point?"

5. The cold always hits full force on a day when you have great plans or really need a break from being stuck in the house with your kids.

6. You can only eat the McDonalds you crave in the bathroom with the door locked because your kids keep asking what you're eating and if they can have some. The answers are "medicine" and "definitely not".

7. You wake up halfway across the house and realize that the baby isn't crying to nurse-- because the baby is a toddler, he isn't crying, and he weaned in July. You just heard the cat meowing and were on Nyquil.

8. You watch your kids, who share your symptoms, as they jump on the mini-trampoline and play tag and hide and seek and shriek and run around the house like goblins and wonder how they're not curled up in a ball like all reasonable people when their noses are just as green as yours.

9. You can't get to #10 because you are the sort of reasonable person who wants to curl up in a ball and quit blogging during a rare moment of peace. And you keep eyeing the bottle of Dayquil across the room like it's a Five Guys Burger.

Monday, December 27, 2010

dear snow: UNCLE.


Snow Day 1: IT'S A WHITE CHRISTMAS! IT'S MAGICAL! GOD BLESS US, EVERY ONE!

Snow Day 2: Wow, it's so beautiful outside. Life is peaceful and pleasant. It's so nice to snuggle inside, eat leftovers, and enjoy family while we watch even more snow fall, blanketing the world in wonder.

Snow Day 3: THIS IS MADNESS. GET ME OUT OF HERE. I NEED FRESH FOOD, AND TIME AWAY FROM YOU MONSTROUS PEOPLE. THIS IS GEORGIA. I DID NOT AGREE TO THIS SORT OF THING. I DON'T EVEN OWN GALOSHES. AND MY FEET ARE COLD.

(proposed) Snow Day 4: All work and no play make me a dull girl. Bring on the topiary lions and invisible bartenders. REDRUM REDRUM REDRUM. This is going to be my BEST BOOK YET!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

the true meaning of Christmas.

The true meaning of Christmas is...


1. Having the annual mugshots taken at the Christmas Family Reunion. Then eating the annual caramel pound cake.




2. Watching the baby's first "real" Christmas, where he actually gets what's going on. Even if he decides most of his toys are "broke".



3. Genuine wonder while wearing footie pajamas. And knowing that even though she changed her mind fifty times, you managed to get the two My Little Ponies that were ultimately her favorites.




4. The fact that the Halloween toy bought at 95% off by the old lady next door is the biggest hit of the day. And that it inspires booty dancing.



5. Getting your first Big Boy Pants. And filling them with filth within 5 minutes.




6. Seeing the kids' faces on their first White Christmas. And cleaning up the puddles of melted snow five minutes later.




7. Eating 3 pounds of pork over breakfast and lunch and regretting it for the rest of the day.





8. Watching your children share Christmas together. Hearing the older one's first words upon seeing the lit-up tree on Christmas morning: "Hey, brudder! You got a IRON MAN!" Seeing them give each other gifts. Watching them spontaneously hug. Ignoring the fact that they'll spend all afternoon playfully fighting over a cardboard box.




9. Not being in a single Christmas picture, but getting to watch your family filled with joy and love.

Friday, December 24, 2010

making things specialer

So we're trying to focus on making the holiday season fun, exciting, and rich in memories. Or, as the biscuit says:
The only thing I want for Christmas besides presents is LOVE.
Here are some things we've done.
1. First Annual Pajama Jammy Jam Portable Picnic and Parade
That's where we put on pajamas at dusk, get grilled cheese sandwiches and apple slices at Sonic, and drive around to look at Christmas lights while gorging.
Outcome: Big success. New family tradition.
2. Christmas Eve Dinner at Our House
Turns out no one else is coming, and I bought a whole bunch of food for nothing. But my family is going to have one hell of a feast tonight and plenty of leftovers.
Outcome: Day-long depression followed by an overwhelming appreciation of my husband and children and the joy of being our own family unit.
3. Visit my grandparents
Um, we visited my grandparents. t.rex treated them to his favorite song, Baby Jesus. It goes a little something like this: BABY CHEEZITS! BABY CHEEZITS! BABY CHEEZITS!

Outcome: Indigestion from eating too much spicy Chex mix and peanut candy.

4. Family Christmas Eve Eve Movie Day
We gathered together in bed to watch Revenge of the Sith, a heartwarming holiday space drama about a guy who went evil and accidentally killed his pregnant wife and ruined the galaxy.

Outcome: Awesome, especially when the biscuit asked if, much like George Michael, Padme had given Anakin her heart, and he had then given it away, and that was why she died.

Further outcome: This year, to save her from tears, Padme should give it to someone who isn't Darth Vader.

5. Eating One-Bowl Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting
Exactly what it sounds like. I apparently still eat my feelings. But here's the recipe, courtesy of Allrecipes and the empty spots in my cabinet.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup boiling water
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 pan.


2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, and oil, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pan.

3.
Bake 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick.

4. Frost. I also made a random frosting by combining about 3T butter, 3T shortening, 2T milk, and a bunch of powdered sugar. Then I boiled 3T butter with 3/4 cup brown sugar and added that in. I frosted it and sprinkled coarse sea salt on top.

Outcome: It's cake, and it's FREAKIN' DELICIOUS.

So from us to you, HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

Also, if you like 1980's holiday TV specials, be sure to check out BetaMaXmas. It's awesome.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

further pretty things

So I'm on this mission.



I want all the moms out there emerging from the Baby Coma to start feeling pretty again. It took me a long time, but I'm there. So here are some links that I think you might like. All unpaid. These people don't know me, and if they did, they'd probably laugh at me.

But still.

For inspiration:

The Sartorialist - This blog goes back to 2005, and it's mesmerizing. Yes, most of these clothes are a kabillion dollars and tailored, and the majority of the people are model thin. But it's been amazing for me to see things that real people wear on the streets in big cities. The tiny details, the pops of color, the unusual silhouettes. The lack of Uggs, Crocs, and oversized jeans and sweatshirts.

This is the website that taught me that fashion isn't about buying the cheapest clothes possible to hide your potbelly.

To actually buy stuff:

(Disclaimer: Don't get me wrong-- much of my wardrobe comes from the sales rack of Target. But I'm learning that it's better to have 2 amazing pairs of well-made shoes than to have 10 pairs of sucky shoes. When I shop these sites, I shop the sales.)

1. Anthropologie: Beautifully curated collections of clothes, shoes, accessories, and jewelry. I go directly to the sale section, which changes daily. My favorite boots are from here, and I just ordered these adorable shoes last night as a Christmas present to myself.

2. ModCloth: Adorable vintage and retro-inspired clothes, shoes, and accessories.

3. Ruche: Another version of the above two. They have a cool Lookbook where they curate amazing outfits and then list all the pieces involved and related. Serious inspiration.

And lastly, you know what makes me feel really great?

A good haircut and having my eyebrows threaded every week.

Feeling put-together has added a new dimension to my life. I feel more confident and happy, being surrounded by things that are beautiful and of good quality. I love getting ready in the morning and smile a lot more. Of course, it takes time to collect things, and I'm being very choosy. But the perfect scarf, a handmade necklace off Etsy, or just a sale cloche hat from TJ Maxx makes me feel special, which can be difficult once you have kids.

Take care of yourself. You're worth it.

Unless you're Hitler.

Also, if you have some Indian food lying around, please send it over. I'm starving to death.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

knock knock

The knock-knock jokes have hit our house--and especially our car. There is nothing as hilarious to a four-year old as a knock-knock joke, and they don't even have to make sense.

It goes like this:

biscuit: Knock-knock!
me: Who's there?
biscuit: Um... uh... BANANA!
me: Banana who?
biscuit: Uh... BANANA EATS A LEMON! BWAHAHAHAHA!

So last night, Dr. Krog got in on it, too. We tried to find the funniest joke in the entire world. And we've hit on the formula.

ANIMAL + FUNNY ADJECTIVE + BODILY FUNCTION

For example, some punchlines include:

TIGER DOES A STINKY BURP!
TINKERBELL TOOTS ON A TIGER!
MARMOSET MUCUS MUNCHER!
BABOON BUBBLE BOTTOM!

But the funniest one of all:

me: Knock-knock!
biscuit: Who's there?
me: Hippopotamus!
biscuit: Hippopotamus who?
me: HIPPOPOTAMUS POOKY-TOOT!

Seriously. That's the height of hilarity. The biscuit still laughs if you mention a hippopotamus. And, to be truthful, Dr. Krog and I laughed a good bit, too.

I guess my point is... um...

I don't have one.

Just try HIPPOPOTAMUS POOKY-TOOT on your kid and see if it works. I've never been very good at telling jokes, since I start laughing long before I forget the punchline, but I've finally found my metier in random nonsensical knock-knock jokes.

Having kids is great for that sort of thing-- someone finally appreciates your most pathetic talents. She even told me (once) that she likes it when I sing.

That's magic, folks.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

pre-holiday haikus


tree fell down again.
needles gone, lights broken, looks
like it lost a fight.

*


nothing says homemade
like germ infested cookies
covered in green slime.

*


the newest Cullen
likes his deer blood on cookies.
or straight from Rudolph.

*


handmade presents done.
hopefully everyone likes
...whatever those are.

*


holiday cheer rocks.
but the greatest gift of all
is my new teal hat.

*

oh. and my new coat.
but i'm too tired and cozy
to take a picture.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

in which holiday cheer can suck it.

So tonight was pretty much the opposite of a Christmas miracle.

We were supposed to go shop for the kids, but the roads got all icy and everyone in Georgia went insane and starting crashing into each other. For no good reason.

Then t.rex woke up crying and continued crying for an hour until everyone had a headache, including the cat. For no good reason.

Then the phone rang, and I was upstairs coloring Grumpy Bear orange just to torture my daughter, so Dr. Krog hobbled over to get the phone, and he knocked down the Christmas tree, and the water spilled on all the presents and ruined them, and the lights and ornaments broke, and there was glitter and glass and pine needles all over the front hallway, and I very nearly cried, because I already felt like I was going to barf, and now I keep getting poked in tender places by rogue pine daggers. For no good reason.

So here's my message to the holidays:









Kurt Vonnegut was right.

It doesn't really matter in the long run, does it?

Monday, December 13, 2010

pretty things

For the first... oh... 32 years of my life, I spent most of my time in jeans and t-shirts. Not baggy ones, at least not after high school. Okay, after college, because that's when they started putting stretchy stuff in jeans. But nothing fancy, and almost no accessories.

And then, all of a sudden, I took an interest.

I started noticing awesome shoes, statement necklaces, and interesting bracelets. I started wanting to shop. I started gazing longingly at Etsy shops.

And now I'm full-on obsessed. I'm actually daydreaming about this coat I tried on at Target yesterday, counting down to the day it will go on sale.

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ME?

Today, for example, I was in Harry's Farmers Market to get some vitamin D drops for the kids and smell the winter selection by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfumery.

And then I saw THE SCARF.

Even surrounded by other beautiful scarves, it spoke to me.

I touched it. It felt LIKE BUTTER. Like butter made out of soft string spun from rainbow-colored lambs cavorting across a meadow of Turkish carpets.

I had to have the scarf. I was already wearing a perfectly nice scarf, one I knitted in 2003 of gorgeous Noro yarn. But it itched. IT DID NOT FEEL LIKE BUTTER.

I expected THE SCARF to cost about $30. After all, it was Harry's. Everything there is expensive.

But lo, THE SCARF was only $13.

And there was a 20% off sign.

So now, we are frolicking.


That picture honestly doesn't do it justice. For $10.49, I have something beautiful, hand-crafted, and lovely that will match most of what I own. And it feels?

Like butter.

My main point here is that it's important to surround yourself with beautiful things that make you happy on a daily basis. Try a hat. Put on your scarf. Buy some new eyeshadow. Get out of your comfort zone.

Because every time I wear THE BOOTS, I feel great.


The last time I felt special wearing a piece of clothing was my wedding dress, and before that, my prom dress. But when I put on my favorite things, I feel awesome.

You should go buy something awesome, too.

Pretty things are good for your soul.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

our day in pictures

Our day went all cattywampus, about halfway through.

It started out good. But then it went bad.

So instead of showing you all the smily posed photos of meeting Santa on a fire truck and decorating my grandparents' tree, I'm going to show you all the weird photos that make no sense.

Why?

BECAUSE I'M FEELING OFF AND MISANTHROPIC, THAT'S WHY.


Something weird with the flash there. Little jerk won't hold still.





Yup, that's a fence.



Yes, I gave the ornament an eyeball. SO SUE ME.



When fairies attack.

And lastly, my favorite. The one of my lad with Zuul, Hound of Hell.



Oh, wait. I'll show you one good one. Since we never actually have pictures of us together because we're always chasing our riled-up spawn, here's a good one of me and my beloved Dr. Krog.


He stole my pea coat from high school. And he looks better in it than I do.

He's a jerk, too.

I'm going to go off and be grouchy now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MEATY CHRISTMAS

tDr. Krog: C'mon, family. Who wants to see my incision wound?

the biscuit: I do!

Dr. Krog: (shows 2 week old incision wound from arthroscopic surgery)

the biscuit: IT LOOKS LIKE HAM!

Dr. Krog: Yeah, it kinda does. That's because people are made of meat.

the biscuit: OF MEAT?!?

Dr. Krog: Yep.

the biscuit: No, Daddy. That's turkey. Turkey is made of ham.

me: No, dude. Ham and turkey are both meat.

Dr. Krog: And people is meat. And soylent green.

the biscuit: NO. WAY.

me: And reindeer. Don't forget people eat reindeer.

Dr. Krog: Mommy, we agreed we weren't going to discuss eating Santa's reindeer again.

the biscuit: So people and turkey are made of THE SAME THING??

me: Yes, all animals are made of meat.

Dr. Krog: And I'm a turkey! GOBBLE GOBBLE!! (dances around kitchen on bum leg)

the biscuit: DADDY, YOU ARE NOT A TURKEY! Your leg just looks like ham, is all.

Dr. Krog: And after my next surgery, it'll look EVEN HAMMIER.

the bicuit: Oh, Daddy. You are such ham. I mean a turkey. A FAT TURKEY.

Dr. Krog: I'm not fat. I'm lean.

the biscuit: No. All turkeys are fat.

Dr. Krog: There most certainly are skinny turkeys.

the biscuit: You are wrong.

Dr. Krog: So what do turkeys eat?

the biscuit: Uh, turkey sandwiches.

Dr. Krog: THEY EAT THEMSELVES?

the biscuit: No, they eat chickens. 101 chickens!

Dr. Krog: You are being a big sillybones.

the biscuit: Yes, and I can say OODLE *or* POODLE.

...and that's how family dinner works around here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

sorry

Partially true reasons I haven't blogged in over a week:

1. Aliens ransacked my room.

2. I decided to give the house a good cleaning and bake some scones.

3. My children are insane and suck the life out of me.

4. I have a draft of my second manuscript due to my agent and couldn't rest until it was completed, at least without Unisom, and the stuff I write on Unisom makes no sense.

5. I have the idea for the next book and am cogitating all the time.

6. The title is awesome, by the way.

7. I just keep buying hats. I'm trapped in a gigantic pile of hats, floundering in felt, choking on feathers. I almost suffocated last week, but I didn't. That was a cloche one!

8. My daughter and I are constantly fighting for the position of alpha female, and I can only glare so much. She's not saying cute stuff right now. Mostly growling.

9. My son keeps taking off his diaper and pooking on things. Honestly, that's what he calls it. POOK. I have been scrubbing pook for hours, and I never want to see pook again.

10. I've got a whole bunch of Christmas magic to fabricate.

11. I'm slogging through a YA book on my new Nook, and even though I want to edit it instead of enjoy it, I keep going back to it.

12. I'm writing for a local paper and a web site and some Etsy artists and don't really have time to think, much less think about being funny.


I'm pretty sure two of those are actually lies.

More later.