Saturday, December 31, 2011

I will be SO PISSED if this all works out and then the world blows up at the end of the year.

Every year I come up with a few resolutions. Lose weight, become more organized, convince The Man we should take Salsa lessons... and every year I fail.

This year I'm going to make some similar resolutions and I have the utmost optimism that 2012 is my year. So behold my list:

2012 New Years Resolutions:

1. Become more organized. It's no secret that I'm about as disorganized as they come. But I am getting better. No, really, I am!  My kids have only been late to school this year once and it was only because my alarm clock was set for 7 PM instead of 7 AM. I did set the alarm, so it can't be blamed on disorganization. Just plain stupidity, really.  So this year I plan to make schedules and stick to at least half of them. This would be epic.

2. Eat vegan whenever possible. I've posted about it before. And I have no problem with vegan food. I love my veggies and I don't even have a problem with most vegan cheese. But it's my family, y'all. They have problems when I try to take all the animals out of their diet. They're all "Mom, can we please get hot dogs at the store?" and "Not beans and rice, again, mom!"  So I break down. I buy the stuff and inevitably I eat the stuff. But this year, I'm going to really buckle down. I'm not going to be militant about it, though. If I find myself as a guest at someone's table I'm not going to turn down a meal they've made for me if it includes meat. If I'm at a birthday party at a restaurant that offers no vegan options, I won't sit quietly drinking iced tea with lemon. But I will do my best.

3. Walk my poor dog in the mornings. Sudo needs exercise. I need exercise. Together we will triumph. I've said I was going to do this so many times and I start out really well. Sometimes I go for one, two, even three weeks at a time waking up a bit earlier every morning and taking Sudo for a nice, brisk, cool morning walk.  But then one thing will put me off the schedule and it's all over. And Sudo and my ass both suffer.  So this year, I'm really going to make that effort. Because I love my puppy and my ass is taking on a life of its own.

4. Take a little more care in my appearance. I am the queen of the ponytail and no makeup look. That worked great for me in my teens and twenties, but I'll be turning 35 this year and au natural isn't quite as beautiful as it used to be. So this year I'm going to blow dry my hair every time I shower instead of just crawling into bed with it wet so that it's all strangly flat on one side and horridly frizzy on the other in the morning. I'm going to put on a little eyeliner and mascara and lip gloss before I leave the house and make sure my eyebrows are under control at all times. I'll avoid chipped toenails and keep my hands moisturized. That's probably enough for this year. I certainly won't be turning into glamor mom any time soon.

I think we'll stick to those four solid resolutions. I wouldn't want to overwhelm myself.  Happy New Year, y'all!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

If I title this post "Milk Bags" you'll probably think you're clicking to see something more exciting

It was brought to my attention a little while ago that Canadians purchase their milk in bags.


Milk bags.

I'll wait while you giggle at that phrase.

I know... I giggled, too.

Okay, all composed now?

I was so taken back with this that I had to google it and found out just how Canadians use their milk bags.

I found this very informative video that explains it all.

I'm impressed. Because in this house we always have this giant gallon container of milk in the fridge and for a lot of the time (about half of the time, I'd venture) it's less than half full and taking up a bunch of unnecessary space.

Not just that, but unless people recycle them, those giant containers are taking up a ton of room in landfills. The bags, evidently, use 75% less plastic and use less energy when making them. I'm all for the bags.

The bags come in a larger bag that has three 1.33 liter bags inside of it. So you only open a third of your milk at a time, extending the life of the milk. Theoretically, it would be less expensive to package the milk and therefore less expensive to buy the milk, too. So maybe we'd pay less than $4 a gallon for it.

I found this recent article stating that Tesco stores (primarily in the UK) are carrying a brand of bagged milk and an accompanying JUGIT re-usable jug designed to make the milk bags easier to use. Because evidently Canadians are the only ones who can manage this whole bag thing without all kinds of nasty spillage.

I can see the infomercials now.

Anyhow, I'm really hoping bagged milk makes its way to the states soon. With the way my kids go through milk, I'd welcome a more environmentally friendly and space saving package.

And maybe they'll expand to soy milk, too!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In which the Spaz decides that Comcast sucks. Big time.

Yesterday I had an appointment scheduled with Comcast to come out and install super high speed Internet for our house. Like, mega high speed. So fast that Bug can play video games and I can upload eBay listings and Munchkin can stream Hulu and The Man can do whatever the heck it is that he does. All at the same time.

Our appointment yesterday was between 3 and 5 pm. Around 4, I received a call from someone saying that the technician was running late and would need another hour. No problem, I said. We'll be here. 

When it was quarter to 8 and no one had shown up, I called. They apologized and rescheduled for today from 11 to 1. I was a little irritated, but not steaming mad. Yet.

At 11:30 this morning I received a call from someone at Comcast letting me know that the technician would be a little late. At this point I was really getting frustrated. The technician finally showed up at 1:30 and let me know that the line was cut outside of our house and he couldn't do anything. So he was going to send out a supervisor to "take pictures".

Take pictures?? Take freaking PICTURES?

On day 2 of waiting around the house for Comcast to show up and install this super mega fast Internet, this guy has the nerve to tell me he can't do anything and he's going to send someone out to take pictures.

Guess what? The Spaz officially got pissed.

As the technician pulled out of our driveway, I called Comcast. The automated service prompted me to press 4 for the option of "the technician has already been here and I am still having trouble". I waited on hold for a long time and then talked to someone in the technical department. I verified my information, complete with full address including city, state, and zip code, and explained the situation and was told that they couldn't help me, but they would transfer me to sales.

Again, I waited on hold for a long time and then talked to someone in the sales department. I verified my information, complete with full address including city, state, and zip code, the last four digits of my social, and my full name. I explained the situation and was told they couldn't help me, but they would transfer me to billing.

I begged them to make sure that billing was the department I needed to talk to... because it sure didn't SOUND like I should talk to billing for a problem with the line outside. But I was assured. Billing would help.

So I waited on hold for another eternity and then talked to someone in the billing department. I verified my information complete with full address including city, state, and zip code, the last four digits of my social, my full name, my date of birth, and the number of times my dog peed on a tree today. I explained the situation AGAIN and was told that they needed to contact the technical department for my area and that I would receive a call back.

In a panic I unleashed a fury upon poor Jasmine of the Comcast billing department. I apologize, Jasmine, I know it's not your fault. I told Jasmine how this was day number TWO of waiting around for Comcast and that I did not want to wait ANOTHER DAY for this. I demanded that someone come out TODAY and fix this issue.

Jasmine said there was nothing she could do. So I demanded to be transfered to someone else.

I got the standard, "I can transfer you, but they're just going to tell you the same thing." By the way, Jasmine, when people say that to me, it just pisses me off more.

In my pissed off Spaz mode I spat back "That's FINE, let me hear it from THEM."

So then I talked to Maxine. Jasmine had already explained my situation to her so I didn't have to explain it again. She told me the same thing. Maxine promised that she would contact the head of the repair department in my area and that I'd receive a call back probably within a half hour to an hour from him.

In the meantime, I tweeted.

And almost immediately received a response.

Ah, the power of social media. I explained my situation to @ComcastWill in three different tweets of 140 characters or less. He requested I send him (via direct message) our address and phone number and he'd see if he couldn't help out.

Unfortunately, I guess he couldn't help out because I never heard back from him.

The next call I got was from Maxine again who said that she'd schedule a supervisor to come out tomorrow between 11 and 1 to see if there was a way to run a new cable and if there was a way, a technician would be out just after him to install it.  But, she was doubtful that a cable could be run without cutting down some TREES.

So it's more than likely that we'll be waiting for several days. Tomorrow for the supervisor, another day for a tree cutter, and then finally (cross your fingers) for a technician to install our mega lightning fast connection.

Now, I know it's not Comcast's fault that there are trees in the way. But it is their fault that they can't seem to do anything in a timely manner. It is their fault that no one showed up yesterday and it is their fault that the technician was late again today. It is their fault that they can't get a supervisor to come by today and look at this situation and it is their fault that they didn't know this might be an issue when I placed an order. So over all, it is their fault that I'm still using a ridiculously SLOW connection. And therefore, they suck.

Update - the next day - The supervisor came by today and  let us know that we need to cut the trees outside of our house. Problem being that the trees that need to be cut are surrounding the power line that feeds electricity into our house. So now we wait for FPL to come out and assess how to cut the trees. Hooray!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Spaz thanks her lucky stars for sending her someone as amazing as The Man

As I've mentioned before, The Man and I never legally married. We have numerous reasons for not going the white dress route, some are his reasons and some are mine, but mostly we just don't feel that it's important to us. We do, however, have an anniversary. And that day is today.

Today The Man and I have been truly committed to each other for a decade. Ten years ago today, we promised that we'd always be there for each other. The Man officially accepted Bug and Munchkin and me as his family and promised to love us, unconditionally.

When I think back to that time, I remember trying to convey to him what he was really taking on. I was a single mom with two tiny children. Bug and Munchkin would never know their biological father as their dad. They would grow up calling The Man "Daddy" and looking to him for guidance and love and support. I wanted him to understand what kind of astronomical responsibility that was going to be and to understand that once he committed to it, he was truly committed.

In one moment, The Man accepted that. He promised he would be there for us, be there for them, and that no matter what happened between The Man and I, he would always be their dad.

I think it's a rare person who has that much love and commitment in their heart and sometimes I just can't believe I found someone like him.

In the past ten years he has never wavered. He has celebrated all of their accomplishments and struggled through all of their hard times. He has held my hand through hospital visits and late night illnesses. He has held video cameras through recitals and ceremonies and first steps and birthday parties. The Man has spent hours talking with the kids and helping them to become better people. He has perfected magic tricks and corny jokes just to make them smile. He has volunteered his back for the scouts and watched diligently at karate classes. He has done everything that a father should do and more.

And through it all he has never stopped loving me.

I don't know what amazing act of kindness I must have done to win me the karma it must have required to have him in my life. But I can't tell you how thankful I am for him. Happy Anniversary Mr. Wonderful. I love you so much.

Monday, December 26, 2011

In which Tofurky does not suck - it's a Christmas miracle!

We had a very Merry Christmas here in Spazland complete with a helium filled flying shark. But I am glad it's over.

Christmas is such a whirlwind of activity for us. On December 26th I always sort of feel like I've just completed some type of strange Olympic Triathalon where the objective is to continuously clean up torn wrapping paper while stuffing my face with food while driving from one house to another and trying to fit more toys in the vehicle after each stop.

Highlights of Christmas in Spazland 2011:

  • Tofurky Italian Deli Slices are a WIN! They were delicious and I feel so loved that a very special family member had them available for me this Christmas. I'm going to have to add them to the "always have in the fridge" list for our house.
  • Playing at the park in perfect 80 degree weather on Christmas Eve with the kids and family was a wonderful South Florida treat.  It's times like these that I can't imagine living anywhere else.
  • My sister's reproduction of my grandmother's 7 layer salad was spot on! It was like Grandmommy was right there with us. 
  • The kids and The Man let me sleep until after 8 AM on Christmas morning and when I was finally woke up, coffee was ready. 
  • The Man got me a Ninja! So far I've made pancake batter, scrambled eggs, and a delicious smoothie in it and I am thrilled. Our old blender was an evil contraption of misery that required me to shake it violently while blending in order to actually get things to blend. The Ninja is my new best friend. I am proudly displaying it next to my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. 
  • I got to bond with my new dog niece. I wasn't feeling so great for a good portion of Christmas Day so I spent a lot of time chilling on the couch watching A Christmas Story with my brother-in-law's absolutely adorable dachshund, Molly. She's so sweet and cuddly and precious it hurts.
  • Brussel sprouts. My aunt made these brussel sprouts that were amazing. I tell you this because I hate brussel sprouts. I've never once, in my entire life, liked one. But since I'm not eating meat, I decided to give them a go. And they were superfantastic. I'm going to get her recipe and post it when I can. Incredible.

    Now it's time to test the capacity of the garbage truck that will come by our house in a couple of days and get our lives back to normal.  As normal as they can possibly be when the kids don't go back to school until January 10th. I hope y'all had just as wonderful a Christmas as I did!

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    If this place ever goes out of business I will seriously cry tears of pure misery...

    We live in a very rural part of South Florida. We've got one gas station, one grocery store, and a good 15 minute drive to anything resembling a real shopping situation.

    There are times when I lament that 15 minute drive. Like, when the kids have a birthday party to go to right down the street but I have to drive all the way "in to town" to pick up a birthday gift. Or when I have to find a replacement tree stand 5 days before Christmas. You're getting the idea.

    But most of the time I absolutely love where we live. I love that we still have roadside stands for all kinds of things from dreamcatchers to cheesecakes. I love that when I go to the grocery store people smile and say hi. I love that my kids go to a good school where all the teachers know them. I love that Bug fishes in canals with his friend who lives right up the street and Munchkin can ride horses all day long just a few minutes away.

    And lately, I love our new U Pick It farm.

    There was always a U Pick It farm located there, but before it was just strawberries. And it was just U Pick It. Now some new owners have renovated the place and it's all kinds of veggies and herbs and everything you could ever want. And you don't have to pick it yourself, they have a little market.

    I went there for the first time about a month ago and I was blown away by everything they had. Almost everything is grown right there on the farm, but they bring in other stuff they can't grow, too. I picked up locally grown lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon. I also grabbed some apples and grapes. I think my total was something like $8. Which is so amazing I almost cried.

    Since then I haven't bought any produce at Publix. It's all from the U Pick It farm. And I am a happy happy camper. Saturday I stopped in after their posted closing time and they were happy to let me shop. I hadn't seen any fresh herbs in the market before so I asked the wonderful lady who runs the market if she had any. She was happy to walk across the farm and snip me some fresh basil and parsley. I can't even explain to you how amazing those herbs smelled in my van. I nearly stuck my head in the bag. And the bruschetta I made with those herbs and the fresh tomatoes I bought at the same time? TO DIE FOR.

    So when they had a Ladybug Release party last weekend I was geared up to go release some ladybugs on the farm. Evidently, ladybugs eat other bugs that are harmful to the crops. So they invited the community to come out and help them release a whole giant mega mess of ladybugs.

    When we walked outside of the market the kids were each handed a brown paper sack full of ladybugs.

    After all of our ladybugs were free as cheezy bread, we decided to walk around and look at the other parts of the farm. I was really eager to see what else was growing in there since we had only been in the strawberry portion. So we wandered a bit to see what we could find.

     Just before we went into the market to purchase an apple for Munchkin and a few honeysticks for The Man and the kids, we stopped at the bounce houses that were available for all the kids on ladybug release day.

    It was a truly wonderful family day. Perfect weather and a perfect activity. I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful place right down the street. Maybe you have a great farm like this local to you, too. If so, I highly suggest it. Nothing tastes better than produce that's off the plant and on to your table in less than a few hours. And how wonderful to be able to support local businesses like this!

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Lessons from The Spaz: Why you shouldn't wait until the last minute to put up your tree

    Today's post will be my final installment of Christmastime with the Spaz until after Christmas when I'm sure to update you about how all the craziness went down. So savor it. 

    When I discussed this with one of my favorite friends, she said "So are you going to title this post Spaz vs The Tree?"

    It would make a great title. But I don't think I can fully capture the fun that was our Christmas tree this year in a Spaz vs type of post so I'll just tell the story.

    I'd like to preface this by letting y'all know that I am an expert tree decorator. I'm so darned good at it that my mom and dad commission me to decorate their 9 foot beauty every year. And every year they ooh and aah over it, so I know I'm good.

    This year we planned to use the artificial tree we've been storing in the attic since the last time we used it a few years ago. You may remember my ambivalent feelings about it back in 2008 when it last made its appearance.  I warmed up to that tree nicely after we put ornaments and bows all over it and I decided it would do well for us this year.

    So last week some time The Man brought the tree down from the attic and it has been sitting in the living room since then. Tonight the kids were all "Mommy, when are we going to put up the tree?" and "How will Santa know where to put our presents if we don't have a tree up?" and "All our friends have Christmas trees up."

    So I was like "Quit whining or I'll tell Santa we're Jewish!"

    And then we decided to put up the tree.

    I opened up the box and discovered, much to the dismay of my little angels, that the tree stand that comes with the tree was missing.  We searched the attic (well I searched the attic... I typically don't let the kids go in the attic. Only when they're bad.) and found nothing. We searched the boxes and boxes of ornaments and other Christmas things. No tree stand.

    So I unearthed the tree stand that holds real trees and attempted to prop it up in that.  It promptly fell over.  I wedged a towel in there with it in order to give the artificial tree stump some girth.  It fell over again, though this time not quite as promptly.

    So I googled and discovered that Walmart carries replacement tree stands for just this type of predicament.  Goober and I jumped in the van and headed off to our local Walmart, 5 days before Christmas, in the hope of locating a replacement tree stand for our tree.

    We parked the van in no mans land outside of the garden center at Walmart. Goober, carrying a fistful of pennies, nickels, and dimes that he called his "spending money", was hoping to score himself a new LEGO minifigure with all his change. He jumped out of the van and dropped about ten coins on the ground.  I took his change and traded him for some quarters I had in the van and he promptly dropped them on the ground, too. After I allowed my child to climb halfway under the van to retrieve all his change, we braved the Walmart parking lot, hand in hand.

    Once inside I was mortified to find out that they were sold out of replacement tree stands. Evidently we're not the only people who somehow lose these invaluable parts to the tree. I was about to leave the store in defeat when I spotted in the far corner of the garden center a sign. It said "Christmas Trees - $17!"

    And I was all "SWEET!"

    So I dragged Goober, whining about his lack of minifigure, over to the real Frasier Firs wrapped up in their blue twine encasings and picked what appeared to be the best one. I tore the tag off that sucker and we went back into the store to locate said minifigure and pay for our new tree.

    After we had paid, I grabbed that tree, put it under one arm ala Paul Bunyan, grabbed Goober's hand with my free hand and we made our way to the van. I felt quite "Independent Woman" carrying that tree through the parking lot like an Amazon Lady. Evidently Christmas trees aren't nearly as heavy as The Man has been leading me to believe all these years. I did get some odd stares from other Walmart patrons. But seriously, who were they to judge in their hot pink spandex pants and zebra striped tube tops?

    I digress.

    With a touch of a button I opened the hatch to the back of the van, threw the tree inside, and away we flew like the down of a thistle.

    Upon arriving home, I filled our real tree stand up with water and securely fastened our new tree inside. We freed it from it's twine prison and watched as the tree dropped about half of its needles onto the floor.  As I attempted to fluff the tree out a bit more, even more needles dropped. It was as if it was raining needles in the house. Oh, the joy that is Christmas.

    Munchkin and I then went about searching for the tree lights, which we located in a festive red and green plastic bin. They were a tangled mess, but I was feeling triumphant and strong and knew I could handle it.

    Until I plugged them in. 

    You guessed it.  Nothing.  We checked the bulbs, we made sure they were tight. We twisted, we tried a different outlet.  But it was to no avail.  We had no Christmas lights.

    "We can have a tree without lights, Mommy" my sweet little Munchkin said as she looked up at me with her big blue eyes.

    "Not for us, sweetheart. We shall have lights!"

    So, after I washed the sap off of my hands and brushed the needles out of my hair, we headed off to Walgreens where we found an abundance of lights. (I had actually checked Walmart for lights when we were there thinking this might be an issue, but much like replacement tree stands, Walmart is sorely lacking in Christmas merchandise right now.)

    Armed with four brand new boxes of lights, we were back in the van and determined to get our Christmas on. We sang to "Rockin Around The Christmas Tree" and "Jingle Bells" and "O Holy Night" all the way home.

    But y'all, by the time we got home and I unwrapped those lights and put them on the tree, my Christmas cheer was depleted.  I looked at our pitiful needle shy tree and I exhaled.  I opened up the three boxes of unbreakable Christmas ornaments and I said to the kids "Go for it, guys."

    And that was it for me. 

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    How to buy the perfect gift for mom on Christmas - Spaz style

    This is the time of year we try to find gifts for those special people in our lives. We try to be thoughtful, try not to break our bank account, try to find the perfect thing that will let our loved ones know just how much we care.

    Moms can be difficult ones to buy gifts for. If you do a Google search for "What to buy mom for Christmas" you'll come up with a plethora of ideas.

    And I'll be the first to say that all those ideas are horsepucky.


    A massage. Mom doesn't need a massage. She doesn't have time for a massage. What day, do you think, can mom just whisk herself away to the spa for a Swedish rub down and a clay mask? NO DAY. That day doesn't exist. That gift certificate is going to be shoved in a drawer as a reminder to mom that she doesn't have any time off and it will expire before she ever finds that time.

    Gift cards. Sure, this may seem like a great idea. Let mom spoil herself. Except chances are that mom isn't going to use this card on herself. It will go to buy Little Johnny a pair of shoes when he runs through mud puddles in the only pair he owns that are acceptable for school. It will go to purchase a birthday gift for some birthday party that her kid tells her he wants to go to on the DAY OF THE PARTY.  Maybe she'll be happy she has it when she finds herself in a bind, but if your idea is to have mom treat herself to something sweet, you're out of luck. Not going to happen.

    Homemade gifts. Sure. Add that glittery Christmas ornament or macaroni art to the pile of other homemade gifts she gets throughout the year. Sure mom will put on her happy face and get all teary eyed when she opens her hand knitted sweater with one sleeve shorter than the other, but the only day she'll wear it is the day you give it to her - and it won't be out of the house.

    Chocolate. Great idea. Give mom some more body issues and guilt about that gym membership she's been paying for all these years and never using. Hooray, mom can now feel remorse after eating her jumbo sized box of chewy chocolatey goodness while sitting on her jumbo sized ass. Thanks, sweetie.

    Bath products. Listen, mom doesn't get to relax in that tub. She's in there noticing that the grout needs to be cleaned and that the hamper is overflowing. She's lucky if she gets enough time to shave her legs. Calgon isn't part of the picture and your smelly bath salts aren't going to do anything more than sit on the side of the tub looking pretty and being one more thing she has to dust.

    Magazines. Oh yes, give mom a subscription to Good Housekeeping or Oprah. Now she has more crap lying around her house filled with articles that make her feel like she's not doing a good enough job. How does Martha Stewart make that perfect Cordon Bleu? Who cares?

    If you want Cordon Bleu you need to take mom to a French Restaurant and pay for it yourself. Chic Fil A is not french, by the way. There had better be stuff on that menu you can't pronounce and a waiter you can't understand.

    Here's some stuff that mom might actually use.

    Noise cancelling headphones. Nothing says "I love you, mom!" like giving her a way to shut out the screaming and nonsense going on around her at all times. She's about ready to pop a nerve if she has to hear the carnage from another video game or the sweet sound of Selena Gomez filling the house. Let mom shut it all out to her own tunes with some headphones sure to keep the sweet sounds of Journey in her head and the wretched sounds of her ever-escaping youth out.

    Clean up your own darned mess for once. It will bring absolute tears to mom's tired eyes if she wakes up on Christmas morning and there are no messes. Maybe you could even let mom sleep in on Christmas morning instead of waking her up at the crack of dawn so you can tear open the presents she was up until 2 AM carefully wrapping.

    A month's supply of Red Bull or any other good solid energy drink. Mom needs to get moving. Sometimes a shot of gurana and caffeine and crack cocaine are just the thing.

    Change her oil. Don't give her a gift certificate to get her oil changed. Take her minivan to the shop and have it changed. Pay for it yourself, not on her credit card. While your out, get it detailed. You probably spilled a soda in that back row at some point and she's too scared to go back there to clean it up.

    Leave the house. But only if it's clean. That's right, everyone get out of the house for a few hours. Let mom enjoy her own space all by herself. Make sure she has a bottle of good Chardonnay at her disposal, a good book, and some chick movies on DVD. Better yet, get everyone out for the whole weekend and let mom take some time to do whatever she wants in her own home without having to do anything for anyone else.

    Make her bed with nice clean linens and big fluffy pillows and then let her go to sleep. There's nothing mom loves more than freshly cleaned sheets on the bed and an uninterrupted night of sleep. Let her sleep until she wakes up all by herself. That might mean you have to be quiet in the morning and avoid fighting with each other for a few hours. I bet you can handle it.

    Think out of the box. Mom doesn't want a framed photo of you or a foot massager. She wants a break that doesn't leave her filled with mom guilt. She wants to just not be the mom for a little while. She'll come back refreshed and happy and maybe a little less crazy.

    The Elf on the Shelf is the creepiest thing since windowless white vans and that weird rabbit costume scene from The Shining

    Apparently I'm a little behind the radar on the newest sensation of the blogosphere. But just in case you are, too, I knew I had to share.

    People I Want to Punch in the Throat

    This amazing little tidbit of actual reality is like a breath of slightly polluted air... and I love it. I haven't had the opportunity to read Jen's entire blog because I've got this silly little thing to attend to that I like to call work, but she is bookmarked and ready for me to enjoy at my next available opportunity to procrastinate.

    If you have some time, I highly recommend the post that made her famous, Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies, and her latest post SOME Mall Santas. Guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and probably think "Oh thank GOD it's not just me."

    Because as y'all know, I'm all about taking the rose-colored glasses of motherhood and not being afraid to let the world know that it's not all rainbows and butterflies up in here. 

    I'm actually proud of Jen for even having an Elf.  It's December 20th and my tree is still not up so the sheer ambition it takes to have an Elf in the house and actually follow through with moving the Elf impresses me.  We don't have an Elf in the Spaz house because, frankly (and I know I'm not alone in this), the Elf creeps me the hell out. But if we did have one, I'm sure I'd forget to move him every night. In fact, I can almost bet I'd forget to move him most nights. My children think our house is on some sort of weird tooth-fairy rotation schedule for all the times I've forgotten to leave a buck under their pillows on lost tooth nights. 

    But don't worry about that, y'all. The kids end up making out because I have such mom guilt about it that the tooth fairy pays double around here.

    I'm sure if I attempted the Elf thing, that Sudo would either murder him while we all slept (how do you think Santa would take to his Elf's face being ripped off by our lovely Christmas dog?) or he would literally collect dust sitting on whatever shelf I put him on the first day he came out of the package.

    "I don't know Goober. Maybe the Elf is so disappointed in your behavior that he can't bring himself to go back to actually tell Santa."

    Whoever came up with this Elf concept is a genius. Far more of a genius than I am because if someone had approached me with this idea a few years ago I would have stared at them in shock and told them that not one mommy I know would dare to do this to their child.  Because the Elf horrifies me. The idea of a creepy little guy watching me inanimately all day long, coming to life the minute I go to sleep, magically flying to the North Pole in mere hours (from South Florida, y'all... I don't think so), tattling on me to Santa, and then making it back before I wake up.  The mere thought of it gives me literal heebie jeebies. 

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Spaz vs Morning: fun for the whole family! Or not.

    Last night I was up late working and writing up an investiture ceremony for our Junior troop to perform tonight (in my defense, I can share the procrastination on the last minute ceremony with two other moms) and didn't get to bed until an embarrassing hour of the morning. So my delirium when I was awoken by The Man this morning with one of those loving nudges that said "the dog needs to go out" only seven minutes before my alarm was scheduled to go off began what I'd like to refer to as Spaz vs Morning.

    Spaz vs Morning is a little game I like to play with myself. However the game goes really sets the tone for the rest of the day. Shall we tally up how the game went today?

    Dog needs to go out 7 minutes before alarm is scheduled to go off:  +1 Morning
    Spaz stupidly decides to lay back down in bed with only 2 minutes left before alarm is scheduled to go off: -1 Spaz
    Spaz unconsciously hits snooze: -1 Spaz
    Three more times: -3 Spaz
    Spaz wakes up: +1 Spaz
    At the exact time that the kids are usually dropped off to school so they have time to eat breakfast there: -1 Spaz
    Munchkin is already awake: -1 Morning
    There are no groceries in the house, therefore no grab and go breakfasts: -1 Spaz
    Kids get dressed on their own with no help from me: +2 Spaz
    Spaz throws cardigan and sweatpants on over  nightgown: -1 Spaz
    Spaz finds 3 Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes in pantry to feed kids (and one for self): Draw
    Goober drops his Little Debbie in dirt on way to car: +1 Morning
    Spaz hands hers to Goober: Draw
    Goober drops his 2nd Little Debbie in dirt on way to car: +1 Morning
    Goober cries: +1 Morning
    Family is in car with 15 minutes left to get to school: +1 Spaz
    Flagger stops traffic for 2 minutes so some slow piece of construction equipment can cross the road, twice: +1 Morning
    Get behind school bus that stops three times: +3 Morning
    In drop off circle, chorus teacher pokes head in car to say good morning. She sees, incredibly messy van: -1 Spaz 
    And nightgown peeking out from under cardigan: -1 Spaz
    And hair that has mind of its own after going to bed with it wet: -1 Spaz
    As Goober walks away, Spaz notices that his shirt is inside out: -1 Spaz
    TOTAL: Morning: 7; Spaz: -8

    I'm going back to bed. I need a do-over.

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    I wonder how many well-intentioned vegans have been driven to meat by the Tofurky...

    In a follow up to my previous post, I'll report on how Thanksgiving went with my aversion to eating things that had parents or things that come from things that had parents.

    It all started well enough. I decided that instead of just sitting at the table eating green beans and rolls while everyone else told me how wonderful the turkey tasted, I'd go ahead and make myself a mock turkey out of tofu. I found a recipe, made a grocery list, and almost bought all of it.

    B2 and I went to the grocery store together and in the produce section next to the tofu was a Tofurky... already packaged and stuffed for $12.99. Since the kitchen was going to be a bit monopolized, we figured this was a great alternative and we added it to the cart.

    I also purchased the ingredients for a vegan pumpkin pie and made it along with the regular pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and Jello Heath Bar Pudding Pie (which I hear was fantastic). I even attempted a coconut whipped cream topping for it, but that failed miserably. I'll have to try it again some other time.

    The good news is the vegan pumpkin pie was fantastic. I even forgot to add the brown sugar and it was still delicious.

    The bad news is that it would take a vat of cranberry sauce and four more glasses of wine to make that Tofurky edible. I sincerely apologize to Turtle Island Foods who makes the Tofurky Roast, because I know they have the best of intentions and I'm sure they did their very best to make it taste as good as possible.

    But it is not tasty. The Tofurky Roast, in fact, was the one thing this Thanksgiving that truly made me want to eat meat. I don't know if it would have been better if I had made my own stuffed tofu roast... but I tell you this, I'm a lot more hesitant to try after taking a couple of bites of that Tofurky. I would venture to say that the Tofurky is the reason a lot of vegans don't stay that way.

    It wasn't just the taste... but the smell... I can't even describe it. You'd have to go out and purchase one and smell it yourself. And I don't recommend doing so.

    I wasn't a perfect vegan on Thanksgiving. I did not eat the turkey or the gravy (though I'm sure that gravy would have improved the taste of my Tofurky), but I did have some of B2's amazing stuffed mushrooms that contained sausage and I had a generous helping of the stuffing that my brother-in-law soaked in chicken broth. It was delicious like you can't imagine. I ate B1's mashed potatoes that probably have my arteries clogging as I type this and they tasted heavenly and I even put some cool whip on top of my vegan pumpkin pie since my coconut whipped topping was a failure.  Baby steps.

    I have a month to figure out how I'm going to handle Christmas (the food of choice for Christmas in my family is a standing rib roast, potatoes cooked in heavy cream and garlic, and asparagus smothered in Bearnaise sauce... we keep paramedics standing by) and I'll spend some of this month researching recipes that I can bring along with me to share. Perhaps a creamy butternut squash soup? We shall see.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    The Spaz questions Thanksgiving, her morality, & cranberry sauce

    Over the past several years I've been an on again, off again vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, etc. I go back and forth, struggling with my morality and my love of cheese and my hatred of my ever expanding ass. In the end I always come back to the fact that I don't like the meat industry. I don't like any industry that causes harm to any living creature. 

    So where am I now?

    I'm not going to try to classify myself. I guess I'll just say I'm doing the best I can. I'm trying to be mindful of what I buy, what I eat, and what my role in it all is. I'm trying to be honest with myself.

    And honesty isn't always easy, especially when it's yourself you have to be honest with.

    Every once in a while someone recommends a documentary or a website or something that reinforces my decision to try not to contribute to these industries. Someone posts a link or talks about it in passing conversation and I think to myself... oh no, I'm going to watch this or read this and I'm going to have more information and more moral dilemma.

    Most recently it was Food, Inc. and Forks Not Knives. Both of these are incredible films that really have opened my eyes to what I'm really feeding my family and myself. They're also both available on Netflix and I can't recommend them enough.

    In this time in history, we have so much education about food and the reality of what goes on in the meat industry. We have a wealth of information right at our fingertips about everything, really. It seems irresponsible to just shut my eyes and buy a package of ground beef at the grocery store when I know that I'm really buying a package of cruelty.

    I hear people reason with me... or maybe with themselves... about how industry standards have improved or the cow doesn't think like you and I do or how all those films are sponsored by radical groups like PETA.

    The industry is one that kills animals. Let's be honest with ourselves. They're not bringing Bessie into a nice, calm barn after she's lived a happy life grazing in the field and giving her a sedative so she falls into a happy, dreamy sleep before she's painlessly euthanized far away from any other cows that might witness the deed.

    It's slaughter. There's a reason why they call it a slaughterhouse. It's scary, it's painful, and it's ugly.

    And I really don't want to be a part of that.

    I type this in the wee hours of the morning on the day before Thanksgiving. A day when I'll attend family functions where more than one turkey will be served, perhaps a pig, an overload of dairy products and probably a few chicken or cow parts thrown around, too. There was even talk this year about getting a Turducken. That's right. Why just kill one animal for our glutenous celebration when we can kill three and tie them all together!

    And I'll be a part of it this year. I can't save the turkey that's being served at my in-law's or the one that's being served at my mom and dad's house. They're both already purchased and defrosting in a sink somewhere as I type.

    This year I'll make pies. Pumpkin, Pecan, and Chocolate. And they'll contain evaporated milk and eggs and whatever they put in those Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts.*  We'll top them with whipped cream and everyone will be joyous and merry.

    What will I eat? I don't know. Perhaps I'll try to pick around and do the best I can with my options. Maybe I'll try to make a vegan pumpkin pie and top it with some coconut whipped cream. Perhaps I can find a couple of side dishes that aren't accented with bacon or heavy cream or cheese or italian sausage. There's a slim chance. I can have cranberry sauce, right? Or I might just have a couple of glasses of wine and dig in.

    Maybe I'll try to bring a couple of vegan things along with me and hope that my family will give them a try and maybe, just maybe, not ridicule me too much for being "such a hippie" or just plain difficult.

    It's not just outside of the home that I feel like I'm fighting the battle. It's within my own home, too. The Man is opposed to eating anything that doesn't involve things that had parents. Sure, he'll choke down a salad before his steak as long as it's got some creamy dressing, parmesan cheese, and bacon bits. He'll eat broccoli covered in melted cheddar. Asparagus? Bring on the Bearnaise sauce!

    And the kids think they're being punished if they don't have cheese pizza, macaroni & cheese, grilled cheese, or cheeseburgers on a regular basis.

    It's a constant battle. With the people I love and with myself.  The last time I really went for a long stretch without meat, I cried because I wanted a hot dog so badly it hurt. Of all the things in the world, it was a hot dog that broke me.

    So I'll try again. I'll do my best and if I fail I'll just pick myself up and try again.

    Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. I truly hope you have a wonderful day filled with family and friends and laughter and love and all that makes a holiday wonderful. I know I will.

    *Partially Hydrogenated Lard - mmmmm... pig fat pie. I can't wait!

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Mom and Dad wanted to say something

    A bit of dialog from the first evening with my mom and dad after they've returned from their North Carolina home:

    Mom: Beth? You know how you write about things you don't like? Well I want you to write about something. I want you to write about shampoo bottles. Why don't they write it really big on the bottle? I want it to say SHAMPOO in really BIG letters!

    Me: So you don't wash your hair with conditioner?

    Mom: YES!

    Dad: No, you know what you should write about? How hard it is to find cranberry juice. Just plain cranberry juice. I ended up getting some blend of three different juices. At least it was all juice.

    I'm so glad my mom and dad are home again. I missed them so much. :)

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    So much more than just praying hands

    When I was a little girl I spent a relatively decent amount of time at my Grandma and Granddaddy's house. My Granddaddy was one of my favorite people in the whole world. He was always happy to see me and always had time for me. Even though he had 10 other grandchildren to love, whenever I was with him I felt like I was his whole world.

    Granddaddy, much like my own dad, was a big story-teller. Being Catholic, my grandparents had a little statue of praying hands sitting on a side table in their living room.

    I didn't know they were praying hands. I didn't know much about them at all, actually, so one day while Granddaddy sat peeling potatoes at the dining room table I asked him what that statue was.

    Granddaddy smiled and told me a story of two brothers. The two brothers came to this country, poor as could be. They came here on a boat from a country far away and their dream was to make it in America.

    Those brothers struggled at first. They were poor, hungry, and looking for work. They had no place to live and were dirty and slept out in the cold. In time, they both found jobs and worked hard to make something of themselves. They helped each other and before long, they both had successful businesses and homes that were warm and clean. They each got married to beautiful girls and had children who became great people.

    In the end of the story those two brothers were so proud of themselves that they gave each other a high five. And that's what that statue was, their high five.

    When Granddaddy died I was barely 9 years old and he was the first person I had ever known to die. It was unbelievable to me that he was gone forever. No more trips to Cumberland Farms to pick out ice cream from the cold case, no more being thrown on the bed over and over again until poor Granddaddy was exhausted but still did it "one more time" just to make me laugh, no more sitting in his lap as he watched one football game on the television and had another on the radio, no more of his stories, smiles, or laughter.

    I remember so clearly my dad telling me that Granddaddy had died. We were sitting in my mom and dad's bedroom and I stared at him blankly and said "Okay" and left the room.

    I went into my sister's old bedroom, which had been turned into a guest bedroom at the time and I sat on the bed with my back to the door and stared out the window. My mom came in and said "Honey, it's okay to cry."

    But I couldn't cry. I couldn't even fathom it being a reality that he was gone.

    Days later, after the funeral, my Grandma sat me down and gave me those hands. "Granddaddy wanted you to have these."

    It was then that I cried.

    I still have those hands, over 28 years later. They went with me to multiple apartments in college, home again, to my first home, and now to our home here. And every time I look at them I smile and remember his story.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    The Spaz checks the calendar a few times and freaks the hell out

    Last night as I was letting the dog out for his before bed pee, I looked upon our 4 bedroom, 2 bath ranch house with the minivan parked in the driveway and thought to myself "Holy crap, I'm a grown-up."

    It's true. I really can't deny the fact that by my age I should be a grown-up. The odd thing is that I don't really feel any older than I did 10 years ago. I honestly just feel dumber and more frazzled.

    Because it's true what they say about the older you get, the more you realize you don't know. 10 years ago I thought I had it all figured out. But the last decade has gone by so fast I feel like I should be nauseous from the ride.

    I don't have a damn thing figured out.

    In just a few months I'll be turning 35. I had to count back to make sure that was right, because it doesn't seem like it should be. 35 sounds like someone who should be accomplished, know where she's going, have a plan, a retirement fund, and an expensive watch.

    Not I, my friend. Not I.

    I'm nervous that the last 10 years have gone by so quickly, that the next 10 years might sneak by even faster and I could quite possibly still be sitting here with no accomplishments (besides the fact that I will then have raised three children to adulthood, hopefully with at least some mild success), have no idea where I'm going, no plan, no retirement fund, and most importantly, no expensive watch.

    35 years old, y'all. What the hell?

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    The Spaz speaks out for moms EVERYWHERE!

    From: Domestic Spaz (
    Subject: Windex Commercials - here's a FREE advertising pitch from a real mom


    To Whomever Decided It Was A Good Idea To Show A Mom Cleaning Up After Her Entire Family:

    I'm a real mom of three kids in a messy house. I buy Windex. Never once has picking up a spray bottle of Windex Multi Surface ever caused time to stop so that I could merrily go around cleaning up all of the messes my family makes before they even hit the ground. In fact, the idea that it's the mom's job to clean up all the messes in the house is so overdone and irritating that it has caused mothers from around the country to convene on facebook and discuss how irritated we are with your ridiculous commercial.

    And really? A commercial where a lazy ass man sleeps in a lounge chair while his wife washes the windows? Who runs this ad agency? Mr. Cleaver?

    When y'all decide to run a commercial where those irritating birds look through the window to see a 15 year old kid saying "I use Windex Multi Surface cleaner to clean up all the sticky and nasty messes my self-entitled and irresponsible ass makes in the house that my mom and dad work their tails off to pay for. I love using it so much I think I'll clean up the rest of the house and still have time to do my homework and empty the dishwasher!"... well THAT'S when I and mothers across America just like me will be flocking to the stores to buy your products.

    Beth Hubbard
    aka Domestic Spaz

    PS: Upon further research, I discovered that DraftFCB no longer holds the SCJohnson (the makers of Windex) account. Ogilvy & Mather currently holds the Windex account. Perhaps their ads will be less misogynistic. :)

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Are you listening to Ego Leonard?

    In this house, we tune into all things that have anything to do with LEGOs. Our house is LEGO aplenty. Goober loves his LEGOs like I love a nice chardonnay and a hot bubble bath. They're his happy place.

    So when I heard that an 8 foot LEGO man washed ashore in Siesta Key, I had to check into it.

    What I found was a website for Ego Leonard.  I absolutely can't wait to share him with Goober when he gets home from school today. 

    I would like to introduce myself:

    My name is Ego Leonard and according to you I come from the virtual world. A world that for me represents happiness, solidarity, all green and blossoming, with no rules or limitations.

    Lately however, my world has been flooded with fortune-hunters and people drunk with power. And many new encounters in the virtual world have triggered my curiosity about your way of life.

    I am here to discover and learn about your world and thoughts.

    Show me all the beautiful things that are there to admire and experience in your world. Let’s become friends, share your story with me, take me with you on a journey through beautiful meadows, words, sounds and gestures.

    And all I can think is... Ego Leonard knows what's up. Ego Leonard has the right idea. Ego Leonard is awesome.

    We all have a lot to learn from Ego Leonard. As far as I can tell, thank you Google, Ego Leonard was created by artists. Possibly these artists? Or maybe these artists?

    Or maybe some other ones? I'm sure the mystery will be solved by someone with more investigative ability than myself. But just as is my opinion on how the heavens and earth came to be, my opinion on how Ego Leonard came to be is that it doesn't really matter. It's more important to figure out what he's trying to tell us. And, in my opinion, Ego Leonard is trying to tell us this:

    You're doing it wrong.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Fifth Grade is when the mean girls claws come out...

    Today Munchkin and I ran into a local pizza place to grab a few pizzas and there was a girl about Munchkin's age sitting with her mother waiting for their order. The girl said hi to Munchkin twice and Munchkin turned her nose up and solidly ignored her. After the second time I turned to her and said "Aren't you going to say hello?"

    Munchkin gave me a look that meant "Be quiet, Mom!"

    When we left the restaurant I pressed her further. I was fully anticipating having to admonish her for being rude.

    "What was up with that? Why wouldn't you say hi to that little girl?"

    "She's MEAN to me at school, Mom. She calls me names. She's a mean girl."

    Now, Munchkin is slightly younger than the rest of her class and she may be a little bit immature even for her age. Her birthday is in August so she started kindergarten when she was just barely 5 years old so most of her peers have all had at least a few months on her. When I look back on it, I always think I should have probably kept her in Montessori school for one more year before she started kindergarten, but that's just one more of those parenting decisions I can't change now.

    So I think she might be a little more susceptible to bullying from more mature girls. She's in 5th grade now and, let's face it, girls are just learning to be catty and mean at her age. To top it off, Munchkin is sensitive. She doesn't let things roll off her back very well so she's probably a fabulous target for a practicing mean girl looking to get a reaction.

    So how do I toughen up my little girl? How do I teach her to ignore those mean girls and understand that everything they say is only to make themselves feel better because they have their own problems with self-esteem? Bullies just really, really suck.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Children are a treasure...

    There are some days when having children is a blessing. Days when you get to wake them up from their beds and they're groggy and smell like sleep and they smile at you. Days when you get to teach them something new and watch the wonder in their eyes. Days when you can just relax and watch them happily play at a park, without a care in the world. Days when you watch them accomplish something great and days when you realize you're doing a great job raising them.

    Today is not one of those days.

    Today is one of the days when I wonder what I was thinking when I allowed myself to get pregnant once, and twice, and thrice.

    It begins with the sinus pain brought on by seasonal allergies. Today they were so bad that my teeth hurt from the pressure and I had to just lie down and close out the world. Children don't like to be closed out, though. There were nerf gun fights and Munchkin's ear piercing screams when she got shot in the eye by a nerf dart. Seriously, how do 10 year old girls even make that high pitched of a noise? There were children searching in vain for kittens that didn't want to be found and fighting over them once they were found. But eventually, some twist of fate smiled upon me (it's name was Claritin) and the pressure subsided allowing me to rise from the darkness and attempt to take on parenting again.

    After a couple of hours of child neglect, I was confronted with milk filled cereal bowls and general mayhem around the house. Nothing had been done. No homework, no chores, nothing. And when I expressed my discontent, I was greeted with whining and gnashing of teeth. Being a mother is a thankless job.

    Bug is overwhelmed with his homework and wants all of us to know all about it. He goes from maniacally throwing papers to the ground in an angry rage, to crying, to just plain ignoring the fact that he even has homework. If one of his siblings gets near him while he's attempting to do it, he threatens their life. I don't really know how to help him and I wonder if it's time to take him to a doctor to prescribe him something. We've cut out almost all preservatives and artificial colors, aside from what he gets at school, but it doesn't seem to have been helping him with his anger issues. The homework will always be hard, but his inability to deal with it in any sort of normal manner is the real problem.

    It's always difficult to know how to make the best decisions for your children.

    Operation Kitty Liberation Day

    Today is Operation Kitty Liberation. Today is the day I set the kittens free. Free to roam about the house, that is.

    Since we got Mordecai and Rigby, they've been contained to the Master bedroom and bathroom. They're so little that I've been worried they would get lost somewhere or caught between the cushions of the couch or fall down the crack between the bunk beds and the wall.

    With good reason, too. Just last week Rigby got himself lost in the few minutes we let them roam around the house to show them off to my brother-in-law, E. After a good ten minutes of attempting to locate the source of the muffled cries we heard from the general location of our TV viewing area, we realized he had gotten himself trapped inside The Man's theater style chairs.

    The Man was on his way home from work at the time and I very much wanted to rescue Rigby before he arrived home as I was sure I would hear crap from him about how the cats were running around and getting into things. E was belly down on the floor attempting to pull Rigby out of a tiny little hollow in the chair by his tiny little paw, when we heard The Man walk in.

    "Everybody act natural!" E cried out as The Man walked in and saw his chairs tipped on all sides and the family room torn apart.

    It's always an adventure at the Spaz house.

    So I wanted to keep them safe in the bedroom where the worst they could do was climb to the top of the closet (and encourage Goober to climb to the top and retrieve them, causing the entire shelf and rod to fall out of the wall... taking bets on how long it will take for that to be repaired), but when I settled in for a nice bubble bath the other night and found tiny little flecks of kitty litter suspended in my cucumber-melon scented bubbles, I decided it was time for the kittens to explore the rest of their natural habitat.

    So far they're enjoying the space to roam. They're chitter-chattering at the birds outside through the windows, taking Superman sized leaps and bounds from one flat surface to another, and enjoying the giant expanses of open space to run maniacally from one end of the house to the other.

    I see broken glass and spilled liquids in my future.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Just wait til Britney's 15 years old and rebels because she never got a french fry like all the other kids...

    If you're a mom, like me, and you watch any sort of television that is geared toward moms, you've probably seen this commercial for PediaSure SideKicks:

    When the commercial first came out, I was immediately angry at that condescending bitch of a brunette soccer mom with her condescending arm touch at the poor blonde mom. Blonde mom was probably running herself ragged and had no time for anything other than a happy meal to feed her sweet Tyler before soccer practice. In fact, I bet there's a half eaten cheeseburger in the 3rd row of blonde mom's minivan along with a few random french fries right now.

    And brunette mom thinks she's so high and mighty because she elected to feed her darling Britney this processed sugar milk drink instead.

    Britney's nice soccer moves aren't because she drank Pediasure, brunette mom, they're just because she lives in constant fear of disappointing you with your unreasonable expectations.

    The second ingredient in that junk is SUGAR, along with several ingredients I can't pronounce, artificial flavors, and something called FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDES (wtf is that??). Something tells me the protein in a cheeseburger and fries is probably a lot more beneficial than that sugar water. So take that, brunette mom.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Ups and Downs and All Arounds

    The Spaz is back!

    I'm alive and well and so is the rest of the Spaz clan. Life is busy around here and when life gets busy I don't seem to have any blog worthy thoughts. I guess when I'm trying to keep up with the day to day, I don't spend a lot of time pondering the life, universe, and everything so the blog suffers.

    In the past couple of months we've taken a trip to North Carolina, kicked around the idea of moving there and then decided to shelve the idea for the foreseeable future. It's beautiful up there and the idea of raising the kids in a small town environment is definitely appealing, but for right now we think it's best to stay put.

    Though, when we returned home to find that we needed to drill a new well, fix our air conditioner, and replace our stove, I almost got back into the minivan, pointed it north, and refused to come back. A nice, new house in the gorgeous Great Smokey Mountains sure beats a messy, hot, and humid one with no running water in the middle of hurricane season in South Florida.

    But responsibility won out and we got to work fixing the home owners nightmare we had returned home to. At this point, the biggest issue has been repaired (we dug the new well), the AC is in the process of being fixed, and the stove has been put on the back burner. Literally... that's the only burner I can use. The back one. But it's so hot I don't want to cook anyway. See how things work out?

    This is the time of year I start obsessively checking and wondering when we'll get our first cold front. I do it every year, knowing full well that we'll be sweating while we trick-or-treat at the end of next month and I need to just give it up. In January I'll be complaining that my feet are cold and that my winter coat (aka ratty old hoodie) isn't warm enough.

    The kids all went back to school in August and it's Bug's first year of middle school. He started making farting noises playing the clarinet with the beginning band and seems to be adjusting relatively well to the new, HUGE, middle school. Aside from his ridiculous new schedule that doesn't get him home from school until around 4:30, he seems to like school. We're having a bit of a hard time with homework since he doesn't appear to have enough time to complete it all before any reasonable hour, especially with karate three days a week, but we're working on getting it all organized. I have hope.

    Munchkin is currently enjoying her "top of the school" fifth grade status and has found her passions lie with horses, skinny jeans, and this glam-goth style that would have been the height of cool when I was in high school if only we'd had the foresight to figure it out ourselves. She brought home a poster of Taylor Lautner from school today so I fear that she may have discovered boys.  Is it too early to start crushing birth control pills into her oatmeal?

    Goober has started second grade and has joined the chorus. He's having a bit of a rough time because his best friend moved away last week and he's feeling a bit alone and sad at school. I'm really hoping he finds a new niche to settle into soon. His best friend has been in his class since kindergarten and to say they were tight is an understatement. He just celebrated his 8th birthday and the main focus of the day was, again, on LEGOs. He has amassed a LEGO collection worth several thousands of dollars I imagine and could probably build us a new house out of them if he put his mind to it. So we'll always have that to fall back on.

    Two weeks ago we were mourned the loss of our beloved cat, Felix. His death was sudden and heartbreaking to our family and the kids were truly crushed. You might remember reading about him when our dog, Sudo, found him outside in a nest of kittens with his brothers and sisters causing him to be abandoned by his mother and then adopted by us. He will always hold a special place in our hearts as we bottle fed him and raised him from a little ball of fur with barely an eye open.

    Without missing a beat, we decided to adopt two new kittens from the animal shelter to help heal our broken hearts. It's been a little over a week since we welcomed our new babies into our family and they've provided a great healing joy in our house. The kids have named them Mordecai and Rigby, but I call them Buddha and General Tso. The Man has decided to call them Sneezy and The Free One (kittens were buy one get one at the animal shelter... I kid you not).

    So we're all getting back into the swing of the day to day here at the Spaz house. It's go-go-go around here with an activity every day. Between school, the barn, karate, eBay, girl scouts, and chorus, the minivan is getting a work out and so are we. I'll try to get back into a regular posting schedule soon. :)

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Did we really, like, say "like" quite as often as, like, that?

    I happened to catch an episode of My So-Called Life today while flipping through channels in an effort to find something to entertain me as I measured clothing.

    I probably haven't watched it since I was in high school... maybe I caught a few episodes of it on MTV or wherever it may have resurfaced when I was in college, but viewing it now as I am quickly approaching my (hold me, I'm about to type it) middle age years, it is a totally different experience.

    The main character, Angela, is every confused, white middle class American girl in the mid-90's. She is confused, trying to find herself, bathed in cranberry colored hair dye and swabbed in a flannel shirt. She is artistic and full of angst and in love with a boy that isn't good enough for her.

    When I was 17, my heart ached for Angela. I loved her, I identified with her, I felt that she and I could have been best friends. If only she were real.

    There's Rayanne, funky and free-loving. Seemingly unafraid of the world or what anyone thinks of her. She was the girl we all wanted to be on the surface. Filled with talent and beauty, yet deeply troubled and misunderstood.

    And we can't forget Rickie, oh Rickie. Rickie, who was battling the world's perception of homosexuality in the 90s when being different was only beginning to be embraced.

    Back in high school, I couldn't believe how real this show was. Angela, Rayanne, Rickie, Jordan, Sharon, and Brian would have fit right in (or beautifully not fit right in) at my high school. I could have cast the show right from the halls of good old John I Leonard.

    It's too bad it was so short-lived. By the time I was out of high school, My So-Called Life was already canceled and future generations of high school students had to make do with shows like Beverly Hills 90210, That's So Raven, and Boy Meets World.

    My So-Called Life went the way of River Phoenix, Kurt Cobain, and Sassy magazine... beautiful, amazing, insightful, and taken from us way too soon.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Evidently I'm still a long way from enlightenment...

    Today was Back To School shopping day. We dropped Munchkin off at the barn and headed out to do our school shopping with the boys. Munchkin really didn't need to be with us because she has fifteen thousand pair of shoes... and the only reason I really need a kid to ever be with me when purchasing them anything is if the thing I will be purchasing is shoes.

    The boys, however, both needed new shoes for the upcoming school year. So we loaded up in the van and headed out to brave the crowds.

    Our first stop was Marshall's. We drove a bit to find a parking spot and stepped out of our air conditioned bubble and into the oppressive heat known as August in South Florida. The shoe selection there was a bit of a drag, but we did find a pair of cool jeans and a backpack for Bug, a hat for Goober, and a hug from my Girl Scout co-leader who happened to be shopping in the store with one of my favorite girl scouts. :)

    After Marshall's we stopped at Old Navy where we grabbed a belt and some tee shirts for Bug, and a couple of uniform shirts for Munchkin. Next door was Famous Footwear where we found really cool shoes for both Bug and Goober. Goober loved his shoes so much he wore them out of the store. All that was left was the actual school supply list, which we elected to pick up at our local Walmart.

    As we were driving to Walmart, the rain started to fall. By the time we reached the Walmart parking lot it was a torrential downpour. We drove around for a while, waited for the rain to slow a bit, and then we all huddled underneath the umbrella and made our way into the store.

    Shopping for school supplies at Walmart on a Sunday afternoon may actually be a version of hell. Seriously, when really bad people die, they may have to push a rickety cart through a crowded Walmart on a weekend in August before school starts with 3 different lists for 3 different children and they must find the exact specifications and combinations of supplies for each child. They must find two red, two yellow, one blue, and one purple (purple?!?) folder for one child - all bearing pockets andprongs. They must find marbled composition books. They must find pencil sharpeners with covers for each child and they can't all be pink because two of these children are boys and OMG I CAN'T SHARPEN MY PENCIL WITH A PINK SHARPENER OR I WILL BE THE LAUGHING STOCK OF THE WHOLE SECOND GRADE!!!!

    And the Walmart they go to will not be organized and it will already be picked over by ten thousand other people on the same exact mission and glue sticks will be put where the expo markers should be and red pens will be put where the post it notes should be. Oh! And don't forget the gallon ziplocs and baby wipes and boxes of tissues to donate to the class.

    So anyway, we made it through our third level of hell with me passing off a pink folder for purple and two black composition books for marbled (I had reached my limit of patience, marbled composition books do not exist in my realm of reality and any teacher who requests purple as one of the colors for a folder is just asking for trouble) and we piled ourselves into a checkout line.  Thankfully the checkout was a quick one, which was something short of a miracle, and we ventured back outside where it was still raining.

    I took the umbrella and got the car and forced The Man to stand with the mobs of people waiting for their loved ones to pick them up under the overhang. When I got to the van I noticed that one of the sliding doors had been left open throughout the downpour. I won't say which kid did it... because he feels really, really bad already. And as the parents, The Man and I should have double checked that all the doors were shut. But it had been raining and we were simply in a hurry to get inside so it happened.

    The inside of the van was soaked... but all my change was still in the van and I didn't think I had left anything of value in there (no ipods or cell phones or anything) so I just did a big heavy sigh and went to pick them up from under the overhang.

    The Man loaded up the back of the van with all our shiny, new school supplies and we headed off to the barn to pick up Munchkin before heading home.

    After dinner we unloaded the car and the kids started to load up their backpacks with their new goodies. But Bug had left his new backpack in the car, so he headed out there to grab it.

    But it wasn't there.

    That's right. It wasn't there.  It had been sitting in the van in it's shopping bag with his new jeans in it, next to the shopping bag with his new shoes in it (and Goober's old flip flops that he originally wore out), next to the shopping bag from Old Navy. All three were gone.

    Stolen while our van door had been left open in the Walmart parking lot.

    And I am mad. So freaking mad.

    The Man asked me how I should view this as a Buddhist, reminding me of a story we had been discussing a while ago about how someone who is free from attachment would view their coat being stolen out of their car.  They would be thankful that someone who obviously needed the coat had a coat.

    So I'm trying to be thankful that some kid out there who is Bug's size has new shoes for school and new tee shirts and a new belt and new jeans. I'm trying.

    And I'm failing. Right now I'm just so freaking mad.

    **Edited the next day** I replaced the shoes (and the other stuff) today and it happened to be the store manager who rang me up. I let her know what happened just so she could keep her eyes open for the same pair if someone tried to return them without a receipt and she felt so bad she gave me 20% off my entire order. So I bought myself some shoes, too. :) I really needed some shoes, too.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Maybe I can just take a nap... till 2012

    It's August. August is always that time of year when I feel like I'm gearing up for a sprint to the finish line. I feel like I can pretty much kiss 2011 goodbye at this point because in a few days the madness will begin and before I know it, The Man and I will be eating hot wings and drinking champagne and watching the new year roll in again.

    It all starts with Munchkin's birthday. August 9th. This year, her celebration actually started a little early because we went to visit Bubby and Granddaddy in North Carolina. B2 and her family were there and since none of them would be seeing Munchkin on her actual birthday we decided to have a little party for her. Cake, candles, ice cream, and presents... and over 2 weeks before her actual day.

    But at that point I wasn't feeling the pressure.

    No... it will all start next week. First we'll have her day where we'll do something special just for her. Then there will be a party with a few of her closest friends, and after all that is wrapped up we'll have to start thinking of back to school.

    We'll gather up supplies and new clothes and new shoes and we'll sharpen all our pencils and make sure we have the appropriate sized zip loc bags and unscented baby wipes and dry erase markers to donate to our teachers. We'll attend "Meet The Teacher" night and try, once again, to make a good impression and hope this year's teacher hasn't heard too much from last year's teacher.

    And just as we're starting to get the hang of school being back in session it will be time to celebrate Goober's birthday.  This year he wants to go to LEGOLAND.  Which is opening in our beautiful state on October 15th. Goober loves Legos like no kid I've ever known. He's playing with Legos right now as I type this. He's a Lego freak. Do you remember those commercials when we were kids?

    "Zack, Zack, he's a LEGO maniac!"

    Well, Goober's real name isn't Zack.... but they were singing about him.

    October will bring (other than a probable trip to LegoLand) Halloween, which is my favorite holiday of the year. We will spend the better portion of the month obsessing over what the kids will be... should they match? Should they be pirates? Should they all do their own thing? Where will we go trick-or-treating? Will it be hot? (yes) Will it rain? (double yes)

    And when we wake up the next morning it will be November and I will sit straight up in bed and instantly begin to freak out.

    It's November, NOVEMBER!! I haven't even bought ONE Christmas present and OMG Thanksgiving and the kids need to update their Christmas lists and where will I find a Turducken??!? 

    So really, I need to start getting prepared. Now. Before the sky begins falling.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    I'm wittier on the Internet

    It's true. My Internet persona is way cooler than my real life one. In real life I never come up with the best responses at the appropriate times. People say things to me that are plainly just asking to be ridiculed and I can only stare at them blankly.

    It's not until much later as I'm speeding away in my minivan that the perfect retort comes to mind.  Don't you hate that?

    But on the Internet I'm awesome. I say funny things, I make people laugh, I participate in forums and groups and I have friends. They love me here on the interwebz. Some even love to hate me. That's sort of awesome all on its own, you know?

    I sort of love my haters. <3

    I wonder if my haters would be shocked to know who I am in real life? I wonder if they'd be surprised that I'm not so quick witted when quick wit is necessary? I wonder if they'd hate me less? Or maybe more?

    At any rate, I try not to be a bitch online. I try to be diplomatic and nice to everyone. But evidently I'm a bit forward and it can be off-putting. Who knew?

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    If only Sassy was still around to help guide Munchkin through those crazy years of puberty and adolescence...

    I remember it so well. It was 8th grade... or maybe it was 7th. Okay, so maybe I don't remember it that well. Anyway, it was one of those magazine drives in middle school. If you went to a public school in the 80's you might recall that they would pull us out of class for an hour or so (sweet! no math today!) and corall us into the gymnasium or the cafeteria or whatever other large meeting area there was available at the school. There would be a highly energetic guy with a microphone up front and he would get us all excited about winning crap prizes.

    "You'll get a prize even if you ONLY SELL ONE magazine!!"

    It was one of those fuzzy guys with the sticky feet and the googly eyes. You know the ones. 


    And there was always some super fantastic amazing prize available if we sold some ridiculous amount. Back in my day it was a Nintendo. Nowadays it's probably an iPad. Every kid would mentally calculate how it could be possible for them to actually win the super amazing prize and formulate a plan.  Unless they were spoiled and already had whatever the super awesome amazing prize was, in which case they smugly told every jealous kid around.

    "I already have a Nintendo with Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. And I have the Legend of Zelda and Tetris, too."

    That was me, by the way. I had all that. But I wasn't spoiled... I actually saved up my modest $5 weekly allowance for months to get the original NES. It was a hundred bucks and when I was up to $75 I happened to get a stomach virus and my dad felt sorry for me and pitched in the extra $25 so I would have something to play with in between vomiting.  It was the best stomach virus I ever had.

    But I digress.

    So it was a magazine drive and I had to sell like three magazines to get whatever little stupid thing I was aiming for. I sold my mom and dad on renewing their bathroom subscription to Reader's Digest and I think I managed to get B1 in her new adulthood to fork over the money for Cosmo or something like that. Just one more subscription was needed.

    I reviewed the options and decided to fork over $7** for the cheapest subscription on the list.


    I hadn't heard of Sassy magazine. I didn't know what it was other than the description on the order form which was probably "Magazine geared toward 13 to 21 year old girls" or something equally bland and non-descript.

    Whatever, it was only $7 and I was getting my prize!!

    By the time my first issue of Sassy arrived, I'm sure whatever the doo-hickey was that I so desperately wanted was already broken or forgotten in a drawer under a pile of brightly colored scrunchies and those blue rubber keychains that came with my Keds. Little did I know, my life was about to be forever altered.

    Middle school was a time of identity crisis. I moved all over the social status ladder in middle school, never quite hitting the bottom rung, but never being really anywhere close to the top, either. I wasn't sure where I should fit in, where I wanted to fit in, or what my options were.

    Sassy said "screw that noise and be yourself" and it was like Jane Pratt personally reached out from the pages of the magazine and flicked me in the nose. I was instantly in love, devouring every page of it within a day of its arrival in my mailbox. Sassy taught me to think for myself, to make my own decisions, to open my mind to the possibility that what "everyone was saying" might not be the right thing.

    It wasn't a teen magazine that told me what to wear or what kind of boy to like. It wasn't about what lip gloss to wear or how to banish the flabby parts on my thighs. Sassy told me I could embrace my flabby parts and if the boy I had a crush on liked a skinnier or blonder girl, then so be it. There were plenty of boys who would like me for who I was.

    And even if they didn't, that was okay.

    Every month Sassy would throw out new definitions, some of which I still use today.

    I can't tell you how many times I've used "Party Hats" in that context over the years.

    There was a page in every magazine called "stuff you wrote" and it featured witty observations, thoughtful poetry, and rhetorical questions from readers. It was probably my favorite part of the magazine and usually the first page I turned to when it arrived. It opened my mind up to the humor in irony and showed me a glimpse into the minds of other girls who were thinking the same weird thoughts that I was thinking.

    So when Sassy was taken over by Petersen Publishing my junior year of high school and the whole thing changed I was hurt. It was the first time I had to deal with the death of some type of media that I loved. (Later I would feel the pain again with Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me.)  My February 1994 issue of Sassy arrived and it felt.... wrong... dirty... gross.

    It felt like my best friend had been replaced by a clone of my best friend who looked a lot like her, but without any pimples or split ends. And she had forgotten all of our funny inside jokes and didn't really know me anymore.

    All of a sudden Sassy was telling me how to get rid of my flabby bits and which lip gloss was going to look good on me.  I canceled my subscription and took a long, hot shower that didn't make me feel any less violated.

    Over the years I've thought a lot about Sassy. Whenever I pick up my old scrapbook and see the pieces I clipped and pasted in there. Lots of glossary definitions, a piece on the Gore girls and their silent mockery of poor Chelsea Clinton, tons of poetry and some Converse ads... I miss Sassy.

    So it was with a giddy pleasure that I discovered the other day that Jane Pratt has a site where a lot of the old Sassy writers are still writing and kicking ass. We're all a little older now so things are geared a little differently, but reading the articles was like going to that monthly book club meeting with the friends you never get to see. You know, the one where no one actually cares if you read the book and you drink wine and talk about whatever comes up.

    **Yes, I'm well aware that whatever little prize I was going to be awarded could probably be purchased elsewhere for so much less than $7. However, this was the 80's and we had no Internet and I'm sure whatever little forgotten gadget they had bribed me with wasn't something I had ever seen before and I was blindsided by its gimicky crapness.