Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Bucket List

... is a movie I haven't seen starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman *I think... because, you know, I haven't seen it.*. But that's not what I'm talking about. Though I've heard it's good... maybe Netflix later...

DAMN IT. CONCENTRATE.

It's the end of the year, so we all know what's coming. Resolutions, goals, possibly a hangover this Wednesday for some lucky folks. I'm as prone to a case of the "New Year, New Slate!" mania as anyone else so it should come as NO surprise that I'm sitting here with a list entitled "Crap I'd like to do in 2014." I try to be immune to the idea of setting myself up for failure every year, but I just can't stop myself. And who says I have to fail? I mean, I was intelligent this year- there's not one goal/promise/resolution/"Love note to myself" (who the eff came up with that term anyway? Love letter to myself? Lord.) that involves weight OR gym induced exercise. So it's a start.

Instead, I thought of stuff I actually WANT to do. I'm sorry, I don't WANT to go hang out on the eliptical for an hour a day, every day. My draw to the gym is the free 8 minute aqua massage I get when I'm done, or lathering up in some SPF 90 sunscreen and lying in the tanning bed while pretending I'm in the islands... and sometimes not even THAT is enough. So it's not making the list. Screw you, gym and health. You've been beaten out by cupcakes, firepits, and pinterest. (DAMN YOU PINTEREST).

So here it is: The Pirate Mommy's 2014 Bucket List

1. Go to a Saints game in the dome: I live in Chiefs country. My husband, a former SoCal boy, is a diehard Raiders fan. I've smiled and watched games for the last several years before almost accidentally falling in love with my Who Dat boys. Now I spend my Sundays swearing at the television like all Good Americans. I'd like to call the Refs "EFFING BLIND-ASS MORONS" in person, along with several thousand of my closest friends.

2. Paint something and actually hang it up. I didn't say it had to be good, or that I have to take credit for it... just that I want to DO it. "My god, what is this... this THING on your wall?" "It's a Flaffenheimer original I picked up. Bound to be worth millions someday." "It looks like your cat vomited on canvas."

3-4. Perfect screen printing and open the Etsy shop:  IT WILL HAPPEN. DAMMIT.

5. Learn a new dance. So, every so often I go out with friends and see people whirling and twirling on the dance floor or moving in boot stomping synchrinousity* and I am mad jealous.

6-7. Hike 6 trails in Missouri/Hike in Colorado. OK, I guess there is something fitnessy on there. I like hiking. I like it so much that I often wonder why I don't do it more. So, um, I guess I will do it more.

8-9. Geocache stuff- place 10 caches of our own and geocache in four states other than MO. It's like hiking... we're always saying how much we like geocaching and should do it more. What is geocaching? Mad family fun, yo. www.geocaching.com

10. Embrace my Inner Rock Star like Connie. My friend Connie is SUCH a rock star. If there's an artist in town, she meets them (and not in a ho-groupie way either. Connie is the MASTER of the meet and greet). She is utterly at ease with who she is and I love that about her. I wanna be Connie when I grow up.

11-21. A bunch of Happy Housewife Shit.  Yeah, yeah yeah. So sue me. But I am intrigued by you coupon Nazis, and we all know my obsession with Pinterest. DAMN YOU PINTEREST. However, I WILL NOT USE GLITTER. I can not make the same promises about Mod Podge.

22-23. Photo stuff.  Now that I"m not teaching people how to use their cameras on a weekly basis, I've rediscovered my mad love for my camera and creating images. So once a month I want to run away and have a mad affair with Lucille** for a day. I've also learned this year how important pictures of my family are. We had family portraits done (for the first time in EIGHT YEARS, the first time in TEN that someone other than myself has done the set up) this fall... I want to do a mini-shoot with my boys every month. It goes too fast... I want to hang onto it.

24-26. Get the Party Started. We started doing some entertaining this year, which was scary as  hell but also great. Our little Halloween party turned into over 30 kids and 20 adults and no one gave a shit that my furniture is worn and my carpet needs replaced. So in 2014 we're going to host more parties. We're going to finally tear down the swing set (SADFACE) and put in the firepit area and have a summer deck party. And once a month there's going to  be a girls' night. 2014 is about friends and family and memories.

27. And on that friendship thing... it's too easy to say you'll get together and then you don't. Screw that. There are a few people I WILL see once a month this year, with no excuses.

28. Check out two new baseball parks.  My Dodgers are coming to town (!!!!!) but I still have the goal of visiting EVERY major league park. This summer we're going to tick two off of our list.

29. Find a spiritual home.  I don't talk about religion because I'd like to stay friends with people... but this year I'd like us to find a place where the grey spaces of our personal beliefs can find a resting spot.

30. Build Gingerbread Houses. Lots of them.  So, every year my kid's school has a Gingerbread house competition in late November/early December. The Z REALLY wants to participate, but there's some stout competition. So we're going to prepare. While you're at the gym, we'll be chilling dough and perfecting our royal icing. Valentine's Day cottages. Lake Cabins with licorice rope swings. And when November rolls around WE WILL DOMINATE. Go big or go home.

31. Maybe, actually do something with this blog.  I'm not really sure what that means, but I'm sure it means something. A lot of the people (by which I mean five) that read what I write tell me that they kind of enjoy it. It, on occasion, makes them giggle a little bit. I like to write. I've been writing stuff to make people happy since second grade. I'd like to develop the discipline to actually do it on a regular basis. If you approve, you can donate $10 to the cause. If  you don't approve, you can donate $10 to get me to stop. I'm just kidding.*** If you like it, you can leave me comments here on the blog... because like 99.9% of the population, I'm an attention whore at heart. Me likey the comment button.


*I know "sychrinousity" isn't a real word... because I looked it up. I like the way it sounds though, so kiss off. If  "twerk" can make the dictionary, I can  bastardize the English language at whim.

** Lucille is my camera, an aging Nikon D300 with whom I've had a nearly 7 year affair. She's not an actual female human. My husband wouldn't enjoy me going off and having an affair with a real live human female unless I videotaped.

***I really was kidding, unless you want to send me $10. Then I wasn't kidding AT ALL. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

It Seems Like a Good Idea at This Time...

So, it's been a month since I left the retail world.  Leisurely mornings with a cup of homemade (read: Not $5.72) Peppermint Mocha; random lunches at the elementary school with the Z; Friday nights at football games.... not bad, not bad. Lack of a regular paycheck...well, I won't get into that.

I knew it would likely take a while to find a replacement for my former role of Technology Pimp. I figured in the meantime I'd slip back into stay at home motherhood like slipping on a favorite pair of Reef flip flops... homemade meals every night. A nice, tidy, sparkling clean house. Homework done in a timely manner. A new blog post every other day or so.

(Pause for hysterical laughter.)

Seeing as how my last blog post was a FLIPPING MONTH AGO... yeah. Didn't happen. The homemade meals? Only if frozen pizza counts... clean house? HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

So what have I been doing? Football. Youth football. Lots of it. Pinterest. Damned Pinterest. And lots of it. But it's these two things that have me all fired up for this week and ready to put my currently unemployed status into good use. See, the Z has a good buddy whose birthday is this week (today, actually... HAPPY BIRTHDAY G!), and after some discussion (and, admittedly, a few Jaegerbombs on the back deck....) we decided that HOW FUN WOULD IT BE(!) to get all of Z and G's mutual little football friends over to our house for a combination birthday/Halloween bash. We could have dinner, play some games, go trick or treating in the mutant Halloweentown subdivision next to ours, then come back and roast some marshmallows over the ole firepit. Just some good family flavored, Pinterest approved fun times, right?

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I'm an idiot for mixing a butt-trunkload of 8-9 year old boys with my house/candy/FIRE. And you're not wrong. But for some bizarre reason whenever I am presented with the opportunity to entertain ANYONE on Halloween... I lose my mind and all powers of reasonability. Case in point: the Great Halloween party of 2010, the One Nobody Speaks About. There were FIRE ENGINES, people. Not at my house, but STILL. FIRE ENGINES ON THE CUL DE SAC. (Lesson to all: don't leave party treats on styrofoam plates that can be microwaved into smoking toxic lumps by your 3 year old.) Point being- as long as no one ends up incarcerated and nothing ends up on fire, this party will be a success.

But, see... I need a COSTUME. Okay, I don't NEED one, I guess, but I WANT ONE. Okay, in truth, I didn't even want one until yesterday when I was down in the warehouse district and saw THIS:
Take me home so I can SUCK OUT YOUR SOUL!


Is that not the creepiest freaking thing EVER? Those two dolls, sitting there in that dusty storefront window, STARING OUT AT YOU??? Isn't it FABULOUS? So I'm thinking... broken, dejected, partially psychotic (because really, why not?) old Raggedy Ann doll! I've certainly got the, ah, STUFFING for it, so to speak. But of course, rather than heading out to Spirit or Halloween Express or whatthehellever to actually PURCHASE said costume... I will be MAKING MINE. COMPLETE WITH PLASTER MASK. A mask I will MOLD TO MY OWN FACE. EPIC CRAFTING.

Why? Because I can. Because if (okay, when) the plaster gets stuck in my hair I don't have to worry about getting it out before my shift. Because I have no good sense when it comes to purchasing things from Hobby Lobby/Michaels/JoAnn's. Because PINTEREST, DAMMIT.

Crazy, abandoned Raggedy Ann doll. That's about right.


**BONUS! Post your halloween costume (or a really cool one you made for your kid this year...  Voltron- has anyone made their kid a Voltron costume this year? I have, so far, talked Z out of that EVERY year, thank God.)... this year or a year past if your creativity has been sucked dry by Parent-Teacher conferences and endless football games.  I'll pick one and send you something ridiculous. Like... like.... a decorated Cowbell of Awesomeness. Or something else. **

Monday, September 30, 2013

No MILF Left Behind!

If you were to ask me on a NORMAL, AVERAGE DAY to take it down low, drop it like it's hot, work it down (read: drop my ass rhythmically to the ground in some approximation of dancing) I would laugh my ass off at you and reference The Great Cement Wall Incident of 1996 as the reason why this Mommy keeps her booty high and dry off the dance floor.

HOWEVER... if you add a couple hundred drunk women (a large proportion dressed in either tutus or superhero costumes), nekkid bartenders, and $2 Titos vodka drink specials, I'm suddenly Nikki-freaking-Minaj. Shawty got low, low, low, low,low. Now Mommy's in pain, pain, pain, pain, pain.

Worth every twinge. If you weren't at the Million Milf March put on by The Hot Mess Mom I am actively feeling sorry for you. I mean, really, there's a little bit of pity going on right now. If you had the means and chose not to go, though, I may just openly mock you. Because you missed out on the best damned time in the history of badly behaved womanhood. You can atone, however. Just start planning for 2014 NOW. Yes, now. It's not a sprint, dammit, it's a marathon and you have to TRAIN for it like a marathon. If you sprint you end up passed out in your hotel room by 10pm like the poor 27 year old bachelor party boys that tried to hang. Note that I said TRY. 

Because No One Parties like a MILF.

Pictures and video to come later... until then, where the hell is the ibuprofin? 

Bottoms up, bitches!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I don't think so...

The scene: The Pirate household, post Third-Grade football game excitement. Mom is informing the Z that he smells like spoiled yak meat and needs a shower, stat, when 13 year old Ace pops out of the basement game room

A: Check it out, yo! GTA! (translation- Look, Mother! It's the video game Grand Theft Auto!)

Assorted squeals from the Z while Mom tries to regain the power of speech. WTF?

FLAKE: Oh... yeah, I picked it up the other day. 

Continued squeals of joy while I try to make sense of this all in my head, all the while thinking "Please God, please don't let my kid go to school and talk about picking up hookers and selling crack. We are way too suburban for that shit." 



Monday, September 16, 2013

So..... now what?

I think it's safe to say that just about EVERY retail worker, at some point, begins to think about... no, begins to outright FANTASIZE about the day they say "Adios!" and kick sales promotions and credit apps and crab-ass customers to the curb. Even though I've actually enjoyed my work (or, at least, the anecdotes. You really can't make some of that shit up) and the people I've worked with, I have DREAMED of the day I'd hand over that two week notice and kick the retail habit to the curb. 

It's just that I thought it would be more... DRAMATIC. And I was pretty sure it would involve the use of Muppets. 

I did it. In nine days I am done. No more Black Friday (which isn't really Black Friday anymore, more like Depressingly Gray Thursday Night), no more hating the holidays, no more getting stopped by random strangers asking about the new iWhatsit  when I go to the grocery store after work. Right now it's safe to say that my utter and complete GLEE over those positives are outshining the stuff I'll miss... like seeing certain people each day... the jokes that ONLY another employee can get. And the crazy... My GOD the crazy.   

People ask me, with this loaded expectation, where I'm 'going'. See... I don't really have an answer for that yet. Thus far the answer is "Home". OK, well sometimes it's "To the Bar". And if I really want to be specific, the answer is "Well, first to New Orleans. Then we'll see." But after that? I have no idea. I didn't jump from one job into the next. I sort of cannonballed off the dock without a life preserver. 

But that's okay. I tend to float. 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Family that Feuds together...

Who's Ready To Play???


My family doesn't get a lot of "downtime", time that isn't scripted out, where we can do anything we want or nothing at all. Between football practice, baseball practice, music lessons, tutoring, tai chi for cats... it just doesn't happen all that often. So when the opportunity DOES arrive, you'd better believe my butt is finding it's way into a recliner.

(as long as the kitchen is clean. Oh, and the laundry is folded. And I can wrestle control of the remote. OK, OK, it mostly hinges on that last one. I AM NOT WATCHING ANY MORE "Austin and Aly" or "Jessie" or goddamned freaking SPONGEBOB than I absolutely have to! NO MORE! Whew. OK. Feel better.)

Last week we had an unexpected free night when the Monkey's football conditioning camp was cancelled due to heat. Instead of using the time to be productive human beings, we fastened our butts to the sofa and watched FOUR HOURS OF FAMILY FEUD. Game Show Network, I love you. Four straight hours! We got to see one family come back FIVE TIMES before finally being eliminated by the Schumacher family of Sandusky, OH. Impressive.

What I forgot, though,  is that the Feud isn't always proper family fare.The categories can, at times, lend themselves to discussions you're not quite ready to have with your young progeny. I should have known- look at the original host, the man himself, Richard "Nice to meet you...aaaand my tongue is in your mouth" Dawson. Did you know that he supposedly kissed over 20,000 women in his Feud career? That's a lot of chapstick. And mouthwash. At least, I hope. So it shouldn't surprise me when the categories lend themselves to things like "We surveyed 100 Americans and here are the top four answers to!- Name something you might use both at the office AND in rrrrrromance!"

However, what was surprising was the complete and total idiocy of some of the contestants. Look, I know you're under pressure and Steve Harvey is just WAITING, just SALIVATING to make fun of you... but did you really think the answer to "Name something you throw out in the morning" was "grandpa!" Really? Then there was the question "Name something a man wishes he had in his hands right now." I'm sitting there going "A beer! The answer is a beer! A beer!" They family has two strikes. The game and the money are on the line. It is the number two answer for crying out loud! And it's a GUY ANSWERING. So obviously his answer is "his future, in the palm of his hands."

Really? REALLY? Personally, I WEEP for the future.
(For the record, the answer was "A beer/A drink!" Ha. I so rule this game.) 

But back to the whole sex thing. In our fifth episode of the evening, we had the category "Name a food that can be used for... romance!... that can get stickier than you thought!" All the obvious answers were on the board: chocolate syrup, whipped cream, strawberries. It's Grandma's turn... this little round Grammy with her neat floral print dress and her helmet of purple hair. She doesn't blush. She doesn't hem and haw. She looks Steve Harvey right in the eye and belts out, without a BIT of hesitation....

"JELLY! GRAPE JELLY!"

 Well... Peanut Butter will never be the same anymore, will it? Can  you even imagine the ad campaign? The lights are low.... the music is soft... he takes her by the hand, leads her to the kitchen... she smiles and pulls out.... the concord grape jam. Ohhhh yeahhhhh.

*shivers* These are after 9pm marketing campaigns that I do NOT want to see. I feel dirty even making my kid's lunch now.

And don't get me started on all of the other product possibilities.... BAD! BAD! NOOOOOOOOOO!

Image snagged from collegehumor.com ... well, actually from Google Images, but then it linked back to collegehumor.com. You picking up what I'm putting down? 






It didn't end for Grandma there.... "If you were in Las Vegas... name six things you'd be shocked to see your Grandma doing!" It should be noted that the number one and two answers were "Gambling" and "Drinking," to which D and the Monkey both chorused "Not our Grandma!" Busted......
 But thank God they didn't say that for the number four answer "Working the strip clubs!" What the HELL? I mean, yeah that would be shocking, but how the hell did 16 people even wrap their brains around that concept enough to put together the answer?

Image from Google Images.... artwork from my own sick and twisted mind....




Truth be told, while the premise of the Feud is fun... it's not a REAL family feud. The families don't interact. No one spits at anyone. No one gives the cold shoulder. Now, a real show would be "Your Family Feud!" Your family, Mom, Dad, siblings, Aunts, Uncles, grandparents, that shady cousin that everyone knows is skimming money out of Great Granny's bank account but no one wants to confront? You all gather together for a chance at great prizes and bodily harm.



Now that.... would be a show. 




Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sydney

On May 20th, I got off of work early, strangely early. On the drive home, I was musing about some blog ideas for the upcoming summer. See, i'm always looking for a way to be better disciplined when it comes to writing, a way to make myself write more, post more. I thought I had it, an idea that could produce two, three pieces a week. 

And then everything changed. 

This is my first time logging into Blogger since the day the world turned upside down. Moore, Oklahoma may not have been where I was born or raised, but the nearly six years we lived there made it, undeniably, my hometown. My friends there are not just friends... they are family in all but name. Losing Sydney ... there aren't words. There weren't then, there aren't now. I don't know when there WILL be words. But I do know that I can't just jump back into writing without saying SOMETHING. So here it goes. Bear with me, friends. I'm a little rusty. 

I've thought of dozens of ways to take this on. I've come at it in anger, in frustration and rage. I've approached it from a place of emptiness, of desolation you can't see the end of. I've stared at the screen through tears and even the bottom of a beer bottle a time or two. When there aren't words, though, there aren't words. Language has always been my closest friend, but for the first time in my life it has left me these past 57 days. Eventually, though, you have to look for the words, find them in whatever way you can. You (and by 'you' I mean 'me'.... YOU can do whatever the hell stirs your cornflakes, friends.) have to find whatever voice remains, no matter how cracked or broken or hesitant.

And frankly, if I didn't... I have a feeling Sydney would be PISSED. After all, she was never one to mince words, never one to hold back... regardless of the outcome :)

It's things like that, thinking about Syd's point-blank assessments, that brought my hands to the keyboard. Because as angry as I am and as broken hearted as I am.... I am so damned grateful. I can't ignore it anymore. Every time another story, another picture, another memory pops to the surface I am just... I'm just grateful that I was blessed enough to be a part of Syd's life, and she a part of mine. It's this tiny, irritating little nugget that pushes its way through the sadness, demanding I pay it attention. With every story that is told, every picture that I find, every memory that plays through my head in full HD... it gets a little bigger. A little brighter. Demanding, like she might, my full attention.

I figure I have two choices. One- I can ignore it, shove it down, deal with it another day. Or B- I can accept it. I can accept it, even embrace it, and let it shine a little brighter. So there it is. I'm grateful. I'm grateful that her Mom chose me to do newborn portraits, starting our friendship. I'm grateful for messy diapers that had to be changed while she flipping squirmed all over the place, blowing raspberries the whole while. I'm grateful for every playdate and babysitting opportunity, for Halloween nights and first day of school walks that made my youngest truly believe that we were actually related. For Christmas villages and manger scenes that turned into Army outposts complete with snipers in the manger. For rolling eyes. For every argument I refereed, for every stuffed animal that ended up lodged under my butt (no matter HOW MUCH I CHECKED UNDER THE BLANKETS!) when I'd stay the night. For llamas and emus that needed "kisses". For arguments over lifejackets in wave pools and laughter over waterslides. For every time I had to watch just ONE MORE music clip from a Disney movie or series.... for all of it.... I am grateful.

But I am also greedy, and it wasn't enough. It won't ever be enough. How could it be?








Monday, April 29, 2013

Hey, I can see my lunch from here!


Last night while having a conversation with my friend The Doc, he forced me to realize the fact that I am, indeed.... AGING. Me. I'm sorry, Doc, you must be mistaken. There is no way I'm getting older, nuh-uh, no way. I mean, I'm wearing a Muppets t-shirt and Karate-Kid esque headband (don't ask. No, really.)! You can try and remind me all you want that I'm sliding down the southern half of my thirties, careening towards middle age, but I will reject that assertation and replace it with this picture of a trout.

I don't feel like I'm supposed to be in my mid-thirties. Maybe that's the problem, that a piece of me hasn't caught on (or caught up) to where I "should" be. But my body is trying on a near constant basis to remind me to get with the damned program and take another vitamin. Or maybe some Boniva... because Sally Field says it's good stuff and M'LYNN DOESN'T LIE.
What do you mean I'm iron deficient????
(Oh God, I just made a Steel Magnolia's reference.... someone, a hipster injection, STAT!)
It really doesn't matter, though, what my mind thinks because my BODY is all to happy to remind me that I am, indeed, edging a little further away from the joys of youth each and every day. It's the knees with their Snap! Crackle! Pop! symphony EACH. AND . EVERY. MORNING. It's the squint as I try to read the fine print on a box at work only to have to cart over that damned ladder to climb up and take a closer look. And today... today it was the roller coasters.

I've never done spinny rides. My heart goes out to those of you who have ridden on the "Hurricane" style rides with me before. But roller coasters? Please, child. One of the few times I'll tell you that the faster, the better. I LOVE roller coasters. Love them. Front car, back car, doesn't matter. My kids share the love, and today... today was a rite of passage for the Z Monkey.

Ah, my Z, my little adrenaline junky. When he turned four he announced that, due to his advanced age, "I guess I ride roller coasters now." One by one he ticked off the rides as he grew... Spinning Dragons at 42". Mamba and Prowler at 48". Next stop: 54" and Patriot. Upside down, spiral looping, free hanging Patriot. And sure enough, on this our first visit of the 2013 season, Z hit not just 54", but 56". Would he shatter the current "youngest in the family to go upside down"? mark held by his brother at 8 years, 6 months?
First he needed to think on it. So big brother and I bounded up the stairs while Z stayed back with Dad. First coaster of the season! Starting it off right with the big one, right out of the hatch! No hands, flying through the air... so, so good. And as we ran down the stairs to the waiting area I may have mentioned something about him being glad that he had a Mom that was still a coaster junkie... oh, my youth! My fabulous youth!

Next came Mamba ("Hey, I can see my house from hereeeee---yeaaaaaagh!") which has always been Z's favorite. Because what 7 year old doesn't like to be thrown down a 205 foot hill at 70 mph? Then we looked at dinosaurs. Then the boys did that "stick to the wall while the floor drops out" ride. I hate that thing. How can an adult do that and NOT end up with a colossal wedgie? And after all of that fun, Z made his decision (well, he made the decision that he was not letting his big brother do something alone with Dad). He was riding.

And if he was riding, I was riding. A glorious family experience!
And when he wanted to ride again immediately after, we rode again! Togetherness!


And when he wanted to ride AGAIN immediately after round two, my husband had the good sense to sit out. I did too, until I heard the words "front row".... aaaannnd then I could actually FEEL every bit of common sense that I possess leaving my body. Just exiting through my nostrils as I said "OKAY!"
Look, I am the woman who once rode Wildfire at Silver Dollar City FOURTEEN TIMES IN A ROW WITHOUT GETTING OFF. What a fabulous day THAT was! Ride the ride! Pull in! No one in line! Adorable ragamuffin in 1880s Ozark garb shrugs and asks you if you want to go again? Is there any other answer but YES? Not when you're 25. But thirty five?

It's eleven pm as I write this and I am STILL SOMEWHAT NAUSEOUS.

The kid? The kid did great. Says he's riding EVERY roller coaster up front now. No fear. Bigger, faster, stronger, better, all of that. The mom? Apparently the mom needs to remember that while 35 isn't exactly old.... well, it might not be such a bad idea to listen to the old body every once in a while, especially when zero gravity is involved. Moderation. Moderation is KEY.

Anyone in the mood for Cedar Point?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Honored


A quick note- I wrote this originally back in February, but for some reason it didn't post. So I'm posting it now. Why? Because I can. 

I'm a pretty lucky parent most of the time. My kids are pretty well behaved (well, except when around each other for more than a few minutes at a time. But we haven't had bloodshed in, oh, minutes!), they're pretty well liked, and they do pretty well in school. And that last part? That's pretty important to us. It's not so much the grades, but that they are performing at their own personal best. Sometimes it can be a struggle, beating back the procrastination beast, letting a few things slide for a while. It's a lesson our 13 year old is beginning to learn as advanced classes and a social life battle for supremacy. Somehow, though, he made it work, and here we are again at honor roll awards night. 

Secretly I'm just in it for the awesome bumper stickers... HOW I LOVE THOSE BUMPER STICKERS!
I made him dress up this year, which pretty much turned me into a mix of Stalin and your choice of North Korean leaders. He almost had a reprieve when we discovered not a single Mom-Approved item from HIS closet was going to work, unless the Urkel look has come into fashion. 

I should have known. He's taller than my 5'8" these days. But discovering that he and his dad have the same inseam was a little much for me. Upside? No last minute shopping. That was an upside for both of us. His father owns enough button downs and pairs of dress slacks to outfit the entire seventh grade. His closet space is twice that of mine, for crying out loud! OK, I'd better stop before I start retribution shopping at Gap.com


These nighttime assemblies move pretty fast, given the amount of kids they go through. Sixth and seventh grade go in the evening. Eighth grade gets breakfast. I wonder if they'd switch that to a lovely after-school snack for my sake? I don't do well with mornings. Ah, well, the things we do for our kids....

"Maybe if I don't look the principal directly in the eye I can stay under his radar
and avoid turning into stone..."

Nine semesters in a row of straight A's, Kid. Not too shabby... not too shabby at all. 


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Egg-Cam


So, after much thought and speculation and research into what tablet I should get for myself (since everyone else in the family has one), I finally decided what to buy with my little stash. 

A Go Pro. 

Yeah, a Go Pro, one of those wearable cameras. No, I don't jump off of buildings or race cars or surf or do anything cool like that. But... well... see.... I've wanted one for a REALLY LONG TIME. And there's real potential here! Seriously!

Well, that's what I'm telling my husband. And to prove that it has real use, I give you The Easter Egg Hunt. I figured if my thirteen year old was beginning to find himself too fabulous to hunt for free candy I could at least strap a camera to his head for some fun. 

video

Because that's what Moms do. You'll hunt for that candy and you'll LIKE it, and you'll 
produce "top quality" entertainment while you're at it. 

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Soft Kitty, Psycho Kitty, Purr, Purr, Purr

When your kitten has ears the size of satellite dishes, that does not mean they'll "grow out of it".
It means they'll grow INTO them. 

And when your 25lb Maine Coon cat looks at you like this, he is not 
searching your eyes for signs of your love. He is trying to figure out
how to kill you and make it look like an accident. 


The quick look away is a sure sign. 


Doesn't matter. I still adore the punk. Now, can someone
hand me a bandaid? I'm sure he didn't mean it....

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tulsa


4 hours, 256 miles, three bad cups of coffee, and a raging snowstorm awaiting me
for the drive back tomorrow. 

TOTALLY worth it. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness

Your brackets mean nothing to me. I'm fairly confident I've got the inside scoop
on "March Madness"....



In the first round, the hallway clock will try to hang on, but will be knocked out in the end. 


The second round will find the ceiling smoke detector being demolished by a last minute 
jump shot from the line. 


No wall art will be safe as we move deeper into the tournament. 


And the walls can expect a sure beatdown in the final push to victory.

Final: Monkey-children- 329; House structure- -32



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cheese Negotiations


Some nights I like to be that fun, spur-of-the moment Mom that marches in the door and announces "We're going out for dinner!" Usually this is because I am either A- too lazy to cook; B- realizing I forgot to go to the grocery store, or (most likely) C- a combination of both.

Tonight was one of those nights. So we went to Minsky's Pizza.


Even though we've lived here just over five years, we still hadn't made it to the pizzeria just down the road. Which is odd, because we're kind of a pizza lovin' family. Well, mostly. 


Sometimes it's hard to try new places with the Z in tow. Not because he's a terror, and it's not like he has allergy issues. He has major food aversions. Not "I'm going to throw a fit because all I want are nuggets!" We're talking hyper-ventilating, absolute terror over.... say.... a hamburger. But he likes pizza. Correction- he likes cheese breadsticks, or cheese pizza, no sauce. 


He was still pretty nervous, though. He's old enough to realize that different places do even the simplest of things, like cheese breadsticks, differently.  "What if it's too different?" 
"It smells different in here." "What if the cheese isn't right?" "Are they bringing sauce? 
Will you take it away if they do, please?" It's a lot of worry and tension over some bread and cheese. 


In the end it worked out just fine, even if he was a little nervous about it all. 
So that's one small step for Z, one giant leap for our dining options. 







Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Don't sweat the small stuff... cherish it.

Sometimes, no matter how much I adore those two boys of mine, I end the day wanting to pull my hair out. 

It's simple, really. All I asked was that they pick up the living room while I folded the laundry. Such a simple task, especially divided between the two of them. So is it any wonder that I felt my frustration grow, little by little when I walked down the stairs...


It's little stuff, but it drives me nuts. Was it really easier to step over the monkey rather than pick it up and put it away? 


And are we going to take bets now on the frantic shoe search that will occur just minutes before the bus arrives tomorrow morning? 


I suppose I should be grateful that at least ONE shoe made it over by his saxophone case. 
One. No clue where the other one is. I suppose that could be his jazz musician name. 
One Shoe Tupin. Has a nice ring to it. 


Pretty sure the water jug isn't the dog's, that is,
unless she's laying off the more understated "whine until 
they fill my water dish" method and is going with 
the time honored "guilt and manipulation" method. 


Don't get me started about laundry. Please. 


And I know we're all super excited that we're getting the Imagination 
Movers episodes again, but did we really need to leave the TV on? Who's
listening, the cat? 

It just wears on you, you know? I walked through the house, the frustration building, reaching a resounding crescendo as I walked into the basement and heard the video games. Sure, I thought, do as little as you can and then run downstairs and turn on the XBox. Not likely, kids. 

And then I stopped. I stopped when I saw this:


It doesn't look like anything... just two boys, on the sofa together, hanging out. For me, though, it was a reminder that there are more important things in life than making sure each sock made it into the basket. There's almost six years of age difference between my boys, six years that seem even farther apart with each day. When those quiet moments of togetherness come.... I'm not going to stop it. 


Sure, maybe they should have double checked their work before heading downstairs. And no, it isn't anything life altering that they're doing- just talking together while one plays and the other watches. It's those kind of quiet moments, though, that I want them to look back on someday. I want them to look back and smile. Because they're special, and they grow more special every day. They can pick up their shoes on their way back upstairs, after all. Moments like these don't come back. 


And neon green vampire teeth trump putting socks away any day, I suppose. 




















Monday, February 25, 2013

In need of focus... After Focus (App review)

So for the second time in, oh, FOUR DAYS we're about to get socked by Snowzilla. Really? Really Old Man Winter? Do I have to throat-punch you to make it stop?

*sigh* At least snow gives great opportunities for pictures of the kids, right? Well, when they'll comply. Which isn't often. Thank God for my phone. And the thing is, I HATE my phone. Passionately. Hate isn't a strong enough word... neither is loathe. In fact, my feelings are so strong that after I finish this post I'm going to dig out a thesaurus and find new ways to describe how much I hate my phone.

But right now I"m stuck with it... at least until I can decide if I'm staying with Verizon and if I'm going to go iPhone or Android or smoke signal, or perhaps learn semaphore. So I'm making the best of a meh situation and loading this rockin' Samsung Fascinate out with apps... and wouldn't you know it, I found one I REALLY like.

Ever taken a great selfie shot only to discover you got that pile of (clean! I swear, it's clean!) laundry on the bed behind you? Or taken a truly lovely photo of your child only to find out AFTER posting it that some CHARMING PRANKSTER in the house decided to hang your bra on the banister for all to see (thanks. Thanks A LOT. Not that it's ever happened to me... *cough*) Stop worrying about it. Let After Focus take care of you. After Focus can be downloaded for either iOS or Android platforms. There's also a Pro version ($1.99 through Google Play) which I have downloaded, if only as a thank you to the creators for making such a great app. Seriously, this thing rocks out.

The After Focus App allows you to take
pictures within the app or select from your
phone's gallery. I tend to choose the
latter so I can fully control how
my images look. Yes, I'm a control
freak. What, are you new?
Once you choose "Select from Album"
you'll... well, you'll select an image
from one of your phone's albums.
What did you expect? 
Choices! After Focus has two methods
in which you can control your focus
areas: Smart focus allows you to
choose generalized areas for primary
focus, mid, and background; Manual
gives you full control. Without a
stylus (You go, Note 2 users!)
I recommend Smart.


Your bottom toolbar allows you to
start by chosing your primary focus
area with white lines. You don't have to
be overly precise. 
Your primary focus zone will remain
red. Midrange is denoted with
the grey line, and background with
the black. If you screw up, no worries-
that's what the eraser is for. 


Since "smart" modes are seldom
Ivy League in nature, you'll likely have
to do some fine tuning. The zoom feature
lets you get in and do that, so half
of your kid's head doesn't end
up a blurry mess. 

Once you're satisfied with your focal zones,
click on the "play" button and see what you
think! Not happy, hit the "rewind" button
on the top left and do it again. 


Now you can fine tune- Adjust your
level of blur (and choose motion blur
if you prefer), as well as other
aspects of 'aperture control'. 




And if you're twitching because NO
PHONE PIC IS COMPLETE WITHOUT
A FILTER APPLICATION, chill. There
are several to choose from, from
high contrast black and white...
...to sepia tones...


... as well as antique and cross-processed
finishes. 
Your last stop can add a vignette or
even sharpen up your image a bit.


After Focus allows you to save your
edited image to your camera's
micro SD card as well as shoot
it out to others via instagram, gmail,
facebook, twitter, flicker, and picassa
uploads. Now everyone can see how rockin'
that roast beef sandwich really was!

While it may not be GREAT ART, for this Mama it's a happy rememberance
of a day on our favorite sledding hill with their new sleds. And really,
isn't that all that matters?


After Focus is remarkably easy to use, though you do get your best results working in manual mode with a stylus as I did on the photo below. While there aren't as many filters as in, say, Instagram, there are enough to satisfy (and more options available through Pro). Simply put, if you're wanting to achieve that shallow depth of field look- or want to make those bright pink unmentionables disappear (AGAIN... THANKS)... give it a try. 

You've gotta admit... that's kind of cool :)