Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Morning Coffee

The alarm goes off at 6am. I try to smack at it, but realize that Flake moved it out of arm’s reach. Somewhere inside my groggy mind I’m wishing for a  hockey stick. Eventually I am able to find my screeching nemesis and slap the snooze button. I only sort of squash Flake’s head in the process.

6:15 and it’s at it AGAIN, and somewhere in the foggy recesses of my brain I remember Ace has to be at school 45 minutes early for a practice. Crap. It’s five degrees outside but it feels about -35 outside of the covers as I’m trying to locate my slippers, robe, and mittens to make the trek upstairs to awaken the slumbering wildebeest of a fourteen year old. Four times. Four times until he finally springs from his bed in blind panic and hurls himself into the shower, all the while screaming WHY DIDN’T I WAKE HIM UP EARLIER?

I start the coffee.

7:10 and Flake asks where I put the keys; he wants to start the car. We share a hearty laugh at the idea that I actually KNOW where the keys are. Fifteen minutes later and five minutes before Ace has to be at school we locate them in a bin of GI Joes. I’m sure there’s a good reason for that. I offer Ace a coat I know he won’t take but feel I HAVE to offer in order to be a Good Mother. Secretly praise myself for having at least instilled enough sense that he’s wearing pants rather than shorts. Rescind this as he tells me he brought his laundry down because he wants to wear shorts tomorrow.

I drink some more coffee.

7:45 and Flake is back as the Z stumbles downstairs, loudly proclaiming he is FREEZING. Sometime in the night he has swapped his super warm and fuzzy fleece Ninja Turtle jammies for a pair of boxers and a t-shirt from four years ago. Z is NOT a morning person and I work quickly to present him with his customary bowl of Lucky Charms. The milk is chunky. He is not amused. Neither am I, as I’d been eyeing the Honey Nut Cheerios with some interest. I send him to the shower with promises of pancakes. After I finish this coffee.

8:30 and I can hear Z singing about how much he hates Mondays while he brushes his teeth and combs his hair. I make his lunch, same as every school day- peanut butter and grape jam, an apple, a yogurt, chips, and V-8 Fusion pouch. I check his backpack to make sure I didn’t miss anything, extracting a half eaten granola bar and something glued to a clothespin. I fill up his water bottle and throw in a wrapped, uneaten granola bar for snack. I manage to find BOTH gloves, but no hat. Where’s his hat? I can’t send him to school without a hat. I ask if he knows where it is… he might have left it at Grandma’s house this weekend… two hours away. I make another cup of coffee and go try to find the Emergency Backup Hat so the office staff doesn’t call CPS for my kid having frostbitten ears.

8:45 and I’m back downstairs with the Emergency Backup Hat and what appears to be the 453 changes of clothes my children have made since Saturday evening. Deposit laundry in laundry room on top of OTHER laundry and remind self NOT to wash Ace’s basketball shorts. Argue with Z about wearing Emergency Backup Hat (“But it’s SPIDERMAN and NOBODY is wearing SPIDERMAN” is not a valid reason when Morning Meteorologist Kaylee Dion is telling me that four people have been reported having just frozen in place outside… just FROZEN. Like THAT.) and eventually smoosh it on his head with assorted empty threats. Is lunchbox in backpack? Yes. Are water bottle and uneaten granola bar in backpack? Is library book? No. Crap. What library book? Am reminded that, two weeks ago, he checked out a book on the Winter Olympics. Tear house apart trying to find said book while wishing I could start my own caffeine IV drip. Make note to ask nurse friends if this is doable.

9:05 and Z remembers that he took the book back LAST week, after he’d finished it. Give kisses and send him out the door with Flake and a reminder that we’ll be picking him up a half hour early for his doctor’s appointment. Retreat back to kitchen to clean up morning routine shrapnel and… start a cup of coffee. Decide the laundry and dishes can wait while I read the news… or rather play on Facebook and Buzzfeed while pretending to read the news.

9:15 and Flake returns from the school dropoff run and prepares to head down to his home office to start the day’s conference calls.“Didn’t we just buy coffee? We’re almost out… how is that possible?”

“Not sure,” I murmur, taking another sip of hot, delicious coffee. If I concentrate, I can see sounds. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Beach

The vast majority of what I write here is for fun. I love to make people smile, I love to make them laugh. I’m all about the happiness. Because of that I’ve wrestled a long time with this posting, on whether or not to post it here, on whether or not it belongs. In the end, though, this is my space… and as much as I love to create happiness, that’s not ALL of who I am. For those who truly just want something light, I suggest checking out some of my other posts. But I do hope you’ll come back to this one eventually.

A lot of very important people in my life are dealing with grief right now… some are right in the middle of the storm, some feel like helpless bystanders. This is a post that I realized NEEDED to be written… not just for myself, but on the off chance that it DOES make a difference to someone. That can be just as valuable as laughter. These days are not easy ones… but they are ours.

It’s Sunday and I’m probably at the grocery store, pushing my cart from aisle to aisle, throwing in the usual bits and pieces that make up my family’s diet: hamburger; chicken (always chicken); apples for the boy whose only fruit or vegetable consumption is apples, peanut butter and jelly for the lunchbox. Bread. I will smile and chat with the few people I see that I know before heading to the checkout lanes. I’ll hand over my coupons (not many; I still can’t get the hang of couponing), swipe my card as I accept their thanks, and then trek out to the car to load the bags into the trunk. I’ve deliberately parked at the edge of the parking lot, and not to prevent someone from dinging the doors of our lovely Honda, or for the extra steps I can ratchet up on my pedometer. It’s so when I sink into the leather seats I can just sit for a while, absorb the quiet, and close my eyes without anyone staring at me, or impatiently honk as they wait for my parking spot. It’s so I can take a deep breath before turning the key. Today is a day that requires extra breaths, even all these years later. Today is a day that requires more quiet time.

It was sixteen years ago today, January 26th, that we held our daughter for the last time. Sixteen years ago that my husband and I crossed the threshold into a parallel universe. That she was only twelve days old when we said goodbye has no bearing on our grief, nor does the fact that she was premature, that she was ill, that the cards were stacked against her from the beginning. In a parent’s eyes there is always hope, there is always something worth fighting for… until it’s taken away. There is truth in the statement that a parent’s heart grows to accommodate all the love she’ll feel for her child. It’s just that when that child is gone your heart doesn’t shrink. That piece just feels empty.

Many of the people reading this will know little to none about our journey, even those whom we consider close, personal friends. We were young when this happened; newlyweds. We were still figuring out how to live a life together when it was all torn apart.  Some that do know may not think about it. It’s been sixteen years, closing in on two decades, another lifetime ago. We don’t talk about it… so why should they? Why don’t we talk about it?

Of all the things that have been written about grief, in books and online, I seldom see how damned LONELY it is. How isolating. How, even when you are in a room full of people, you can feel utterly and completely alone. Grief is a lonely journey because it is a SOLITARY journey. No one else can know your grief, not your parents, not your best friend, not even your spouse. No one knows because they are not inside of your head, they have not had to make the choices that you have made. No one has the same questions, the same guilt you carry. Those that grieve with you will often grieve differently, need different things, things that neither of you can give. Grief is lonely, and loss has become a four letter word. As a society it makes us uncomfortable. Dealing with someone’s loss is a minefield that no one wants to traverse, and that’s understandable… but it’s also why eventually we stopped sharing our story, our daughter. Eventually you grow tired of your heart dropping over the averted eyes, the condolences, the sense of not support but pity that you know will eventually become a reason for people to avoid you. And so you stop. At least that’s what we did. We relied on our closest and oldest friends and our family for the support we needed and we tucked our daughter inside of our hearts.  And then times passes… and suddenly it’s sixteen years later and you realize that while everyone talks about how to handle the immediate aftermath… no one talks about how to survive the journey. They tell you to find your “new normal”, they tell you to find your blessings, and some may have the gall to tell you to just “move on”. They’ll tell you all of that, but no one talks about how. No one talks about the path from devastation to restoration.

Imagine that you are on vacation. Everything is going well, you’re having a great time. You decide to go parasailing. You’re flying along in the air, looking at the beach and the sea below you… when something happens. Something completely unexpected, something everyone told you could never happen while parasailing. Suddenly you’re plummeting down, falling to the sea, the world a blur of water and sky over and over and over again until you hit. You fell from just the right height for the impact not to kill you, but not so close that every part of your body doesn’t feel completely broken. The seas are rough, horrible, churning and sucking and spinning you as if you were caught in God’s own washing machine. You can’t find your way to the surface, and when you finally do you realize it doesn’t matter as wave after wave hits you, beats you, throws you back into the abyss. You can’t breathe. You can’t see. You can’t scream. All you can do is exist.

Eventually there is a break, a small break in the waves and you are able to catch your breath and get upright, just long enough to find the beach. It’s so far away it seems you’ll never make it back. You can see people standing there, waving to you, screaming. You see just enough before another wave hits you, and then another, then another. This goes on for a while… the brief break before the waves start again. You don’t know what’s better or worse… the chance to catch your breath or the repeated realization of where you are.

Then there’s a break that’s a little longer… long enough that you can paddle in a bit, until your toes touch the sand. You’re still too far out to help, but this time when the waves cease you can wiggle your toes into the sand and regain your equilibrium. Your head is above water enough to shout back, even if what you’re shouting is lies: I’m okay. I’m going to make it. No, there’s nothing you can do. I’ll be fine. Just give me time. I’ll make it back.

But eventually… eventually it feels less like a lie. You go from digging your very tippy toes into the sand to standing flat footed… to taking steps. The waves still hit, they still take your breath away, they still choke you and make you wonder if you’ll ever make it out. Sometimes they knock you to your knees, dragging you back under water, threatening to carry you back out to sea. It’s hardest to stand back up after those. But you do. And, when you can, weak in the knees and exhausted from the battle,  you take another step.
Eventually you realize that the waves aren’t dragging you under as much. You realize that you’re not staggering… but walking. You realize you’ve made it to the beach. When you look around, you notice that some of the people that were there at the beginning have gone, and you’re not sure when that happened. But you’ll notice others that never left, and when they take you by the arms and pull you to the sand you’ll discover that sometimes it was their shouted words that kept you fighting towards the surface when the waves would knock you back down again. In that moment you take a deep breath. You have survived.

You have survived… but the beach is now your home. Others don’t understand that… after what you went through, don’t you just want to leave? Don’t you want to go home? Of course you do… of course you want to go back to what was familiar and comfortable… but you can’t. This place is yours now. You build your house, and as you do you see other little houses along the beach… others who have been trapped in the waves and spit out on the shores.  Eventually you may walk down and say hello, see their house, but not yet.  Time passes, and the beach becomes comfortable. You grow used to the sound of the sea roaring so close by. You grow used to the way the water still laps at your toes, never really going away. Storms come… some worse than others. Some threaten to drag you back to the ocean’s depths… but you find a way to hang on, to fight back, to wait until the waves recede and you can catch your breath once more. And when strangers marvel at how you do it, how can you live your life so close to what almost killed you, you just shrug. There’s no other way. The sea has become a part of you now, both its fury and it’s gentle nostalgia. You are not the person you were before you plunged into its depths. You belong to it now, and it to you. It is up to you to figure out how to handle that relationship.

My house on the beach has grown over the years. With work and with time my husband and I found a way to merge our houses into one, we found a way to give each other what was needed. We added on two new rooms for our boys. Their rooms are far away from the water but they can see the waves. Their sister is not an unknown entity to them. They celebrate her birthday each year with us. They visit her grave, bringing her Winnie the Pooh statues and flowers and even baseballs. They have not grown up without her. Our friends visit and we’ve even invited new friends in to see over the years… and those closest to us did not avert their eyes. Instead they asked for a tour, asked to see our pictures and our momentos. Some even held our hands and walked along the water’s edge with us. They taught us not to make assumptions about how people will handle our struggles.  Our home has become one that, while created in grief and in anguish, is full of love and happiness. We have our sandbags against the storm. We have learned how to evacuate when the seas threaten to rise too high. But that doesn’t mean we don’t still wade into the water sometimes. It’s just that we know to hang onto each other now… and we know how to find our way out.

For those who are still in the waves, for those who are still struggling just to get their heads above water… we are on the beach waiting for you and we will be there as long as it takes. We will throw you a floatie when you most need it, but we understand that finding your feet is something only you can do. We will tell your friends to keep shouting, keep encouraging, to just KEEP LOVING YOU, because it matters, the voices in the darkness matter so very much.  Each step forward you make is a victory. How long it takes you to reach the sand is not important… just know that the sand is there. That we are here. That we are here, and we love you, all of the broken and bruised pieces of you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


A few years ago the Z was standing beside me at a gas station ATM, eyes wide as money spit into my hands. A few days later when I told him I did not have the cash to purchase yet another set of neon vampire teeth he told me to just find another one of those machines where I won all that money the other day. It’s for this reason and others that it’s probably a really good thing that his school gets to send classes to the school of economics each year.

When I was a kid it seemed like all of the other elementary schools in the area got to go to some kind of economics/supply and demand fun day … but mine. I went to a tiny parochial school that did seriously awesome things like slumber parties in the school basement and “Let’s talk about Aztec human sacrifice!” But we didn’t get to go to Exchange City, and after hearing all of the neighbor kids talk about working in the bank or owning their own shop or buying bags of candy with their pretend paycheck I was feeling pretty gypped. So when Ace first started attending SoE when we moved here in 2nd grade, I was pretty psyched for him. But not so much that I volunteered for it. I volunteer for a lot of stuff at the kids’ schools; I’ve gone to literature festivals and concerts and plays and planned parties and served vats of Hawaiian Punch. There are just some events I’ve opted out of. But right now…. What else am I doing?

Besides laundry. I am ALWAYS doing laundry.

I want you to imagine a room a little larger than a two car garage. Put eight shop booths around the perimeter and cafeteria tables in the middle. Stock each booth with four third graders and a large amount of kool-aid, sugar, and/or glitter. Then unleash 50 first graders with wads of play money. They are excited. They are anxious. They need a hot dog RIGHT NOW. They are LOUD. Now, take half of the 50 third graders working the booths… and set them FREE! Give them their “wages” and send them among the masses to consume. Watch as they all line up at YOUR SHOP because you are not only the first store inside the doors, but also the only one with potato chips and pixy stix. Do this in cycles for two hours. Consider, more than once, hiding in the staff bathroom. Don’t because you fear for the kind grandmother who was suckered into volunteering your booth as well. Consider, more than twice, using duck tape on the kid who keeps trying to take all of the money out of the drawer and just clapped chalk dust over the drinks. Don’t because… well, because you don’t have any duck tape.
But then watch as something really cool happens… and these four or five third graders start working as a team. They’re setting prices and mixing Kool-Aid and cooking hot dogs all on their own. They do the dishes and sweep the sugar dust off the floor. They know they have an $85 loan from the “bank” and that, in addition to paying it back, they have to pay rent, taxes, and utilities. Try not to snort coffee through your nose when the kid in the Uncle Sam hat comes around for the tax checks and you hear a third grader mumble about “big government”. And I dare you not to smile when Chalk Dust Boy is shilling the booth’s wares for all he’s worth, determined to be the first team to sell out of product... or when the kids realize that not only did they make enough money to pay back their loan and the overhead costs, but enough to turn a real profit. That they were successful.

And while it wasn’t like I'm sure Ye Olde Exchange City was back in the day, I had my moment of commerce. I bought a hot dog, four cups of kool-aid…. And a purple eye patch. It’s awesome and I refuse to take it off. It feels like a childhood dream is coming true.

Would anyone like to hear about Aztec human sacrifice? It’s the least I can do.

Vaguely amused? You can follow The Pirate Mommy on Facebook... like living right inside her addled little mind... now with 50% more insanity and absolutely no High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I'm With the Band

While I'm writing this I should be working on another cover letter. I've gone back into the job hunt full tilt. I'm like the Crocodile Hunter of job hunting I'm that dedicated (except I really hope nothing kills me, no matter how ironic it is. That would suck). I've loved the Mom-time the last few months (the excessive wearing of comfy pants has been especially pleasing). If I'm going to keep up with the Care and Keeping of a Teenager, though, Mama's got to make some money.

(Some of my friends have suggested I do the sex toy parties. While I admit I think I'd be pretty freaking hilarious at that endeavor, the truth is ... who do you beg to host your first few parties? Who are your first customers? That's right, your friends, your family, your co-workers. Look, I love you ALL, but there are simply SOME THINGS I don't need to know about your lives. There would have to be an AWFUL lot of rum.)

High school is going to be freaking expensive. It's not like this is a NEW development or anything, but it's all new to ME.   Up until now the only thing that's been expensive are the extracurricular things the kids have wanted to do, sports mostly. Well, sports and supplies of Axe. Axe is to this generation what Drakkar Noir was for mine. Ah, Drakkar, the smell of so much pubescent embarrassment, set to the soundtrack of a Pearl Jam/Boyz II Men soundtrack. So besides baseball, football and bad body spray, there hasn't been much.

And now... now there is band. Not *A* band. Band. As in marching band.

Truth: At my small town, middle of nowhere high school band was NOT a big deal. There wasn't a culture around it. I had a friend or two in band... and all it meant is that first or second hour they were in band class... and on certain Friday nights in the fall they played the school fight song while the student body sang along in Latin (not kidding). So when Ace chose band as his music course for sixth grade, I was just "whatever". He'd never expressed interest and neither Flake nor myself are musicians (I take that back- I do play a SPLENDID one-string-at-a-time version of Ode to Joy on the guitar. It's truly moving). We figured he'd do his one and done and that would be it. He was into sports. He played football and baseball. Except... that WASN'T it. Suddenly he's auditioning for a different instrument and then we're downloading sheet music and buying saxophones in the parking lots of McDonalds and it just got a little crazy. But still... I honestly figured it would be one more year... okay, maybe all through middle school. He was going out for 8th grade football and in high school you can't do both marching band and football... and our high school team is one of those obnoxious ones that wins a lot while the packed stadium screams for the blood of its victims.

Except... the stadium is that full in major part because of the band. The marching band. They're really good... I mean, they're the kind of good where you'll actually sit and watch at halftime. They travel all over the country to compete and march in parades and inaugurations and Waffle House openings. There are almost 300 members. You can buy hoodies and polos and caps and earwarmers with their logo. They have customized pens and shade tents. They have THEIR OWN CUSTOM SEMIS. For God's sakes, THEY HAVE THEIR OWN TRAFFIC CONES.

Traffic cones are hard to beat... so in October, after the final 8th grade football game of the season, Ace announced his intent to leave football behind and formally announce is candidacy for Band Geek. And being a Band Geek is FREAKING EXPENSIVE. All of those FEATHERED HATS. We had our first Insane Band Parent meeting on Tuesday to begin planning for next year's BIG TRIP (I'll admit, I can think of worse ways to spend New Years Eve than in California...) and they hand out this packet that has a WARNING LABEL on it: Do not open if you have heart problems, are having a bad day, operate heavy machinery around your child, or have ever considered injuring someone with a band instrument. Let's just say I could buy my kid a CAR with what band will cost next year. Not a NICE car, but I wouldn't be using Bondo and Duck tape on it either.

But there at the meeting, you look around and see all of these other crazy parents... and then they start talking about prop construction parties with beer, and trivia night fundraisers where a drink is named after the band director, and you realize that... that "Hey... I might actually fit in around here." And, like I said, there are worse things than spending your New Years in sunny SoCal, right?

So my kid's a band geek... which needs I need a job. And my own traffic cone. Seriously, those things are BAD ASS. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pardon the Interruption

A letter to the lovely folks that sat behind us at the hockey game:

I'd love to start this off by saying "wow, what a game!", but I"m sensitive enough to realize that, as fans of the opposing team, you didn't have such a hot hockey experience. Quite the butt-whooping that went down, huh? But, as one of your party drunkenly exclaimed at least nine times during the last period YOU ARE STILL IN FIRST. So there's that.

I hope you enjoyed your stay in our lovely city. From the sounds of it, you had quite a few things you wanted to do besides the game. In fact, you shared SO MUCH with me during the course of the game that I just couldn't help but feel invested in your lives. If I hadn't been hanging out with my eight-year-old son I could have just jumped right into your conversation and provided new, in depth analysis. Because while you were talking (loudly) in your little groups, I was getting to hear EVERY single conversation... and I think I really could have helped y'all out. It would have been the good thing to do, even, to reach out to you road-weary travelers and lend a conversational hand.

For example, Kim... Oh Kim. You seemed awfully excited to tell Pam about how things are going with Charlie. I'm really glad Charlie is finally getting his balls back... must have been terrifying for him to lose them. Oh, wait, no, Charlie is just starting to MAN up and treat you like a woman again, I get it now. It's been so hard on you while he's been working so hard and just, like, totally not wanting to get freaky during the day OR EVEN AT NIGHT. You have needs... we all understand this now. ALL of us. But hey, tonight Charlie took your panties and hid them so you'd have to go commando to the game and OH MY GOD HE IS BACK!

Except... while you were gone (hopefully working to avoid chafing in those jeans... ouch) Charlie was telling someone he would only call "Bro" that you were "sucking (him) dry... and not like I want it, Bro! Know what I'm sayin???" Trust me, Charlie... WE ALL KNEW WHAT YOU WERE SAYIN. You, Kim, are apparently wearing poor Charlie down to his last nerve and his last dollar. HE wanted to stay at a more reasonable hotel... but NO NO... KIM NEEDS THE HILTON. Kim wanted to go somewhere "nice" for lunch, Kim wanted a cute little rink bunny shirt for the game, KIM HAD THE FREAKING AUDACITY TO WANT TO A BEER FROM THE CONCESSION STAND!!!!!! "Look at this! Dude, I didn't spend this much on booze on New Years, Bro!" (SO beer was either REALLY expensive at the game or Charlie buys really cheap shit for his New Years parties). Charlie just can't do it anymore Kim... and he KNOWS you're going to want to go out for dinner after the game and HE CANT EVEN USE HIS NOODLES COUPON THAT JUST DROPPED FROM THE RAFTERS.

And Kim's probably going to be so chafed from those painted on jeans he's not even going to get any... AT NIGHT OR OTHERWISE.

It wasn't all about Kim and Charlie, though... Greg is trying to convince Pam to fly out to Denver so they can try recreational weed together. Pam, on the other hand, wants no part in it... she's a little worried about her "license or whatever...." Apparently things just AREN'T the same since they got married and Pam finished school. "Where's the adventure?" (The adventure was in your suitcase, big Greg.... Pam finally got the nerve to act on her Christian Grey addiction... you can't do THAT stoned, my friend. Well, others may, but according to Pam YOU specifically CAN NOT.

Meanwhile poor "Bro" can't get a word in edgewise, and Cindy? Cindy down on the end? Would someone PLEASE talk to her before she drinks another margarita and yell-slurs "USE THAT STICK!" again? Please?

I think about all of the misunderstandings and miscommunication I could have cleared up if I'd just followed my heart and stepped into your conversations. You were putting it out there... OBVIOUSLY you were searching for guidance. But alas, I instead spent my time distracting my 8 year old and mentally counting how many times Charlie could say "fuck" during the break after the second period (I counted 42, but I know I missed a few). So let me use this public forum to say this: Kim, Charlie- I suggest sitting down and having a good heart to heart. You guys obviously aren't on the same page... I'm not even sure you're in the same library. Kim, I suggest Groupon... Charlie seems like a real coupon and savings kinda guy.Also, corn starch. Greg, Pam... I, uh... hope it worked out and that the "adventure" is back. Bro- you have the patience of a saint. Someone get Cindy a friend. And Charlie... please buy better booze for your next party. Frugality has a time and place...

And next time? Consider talking a little freaking quieter. Not everyone needs to know the exact status of your douche canoe.



Thursday, January 9, 2014

Organized Chaos

Despite the fact that it was colder than the Abominable Snowman's snowballs the kids went back to school this week. It's so quiet without the pitter-patter of smelly feet. For the first time I wasn't shoving the boys out the door the second break was over... maybe it's because they're older and it's just plain EASIER now. Maybe it's because I drink more.* Who knows? Honestly, though, I wouldn't have minded another purpose free day with the kids. Flake might have killed me, but I wouldn't have minded doing nothing with the boys. The problem with doing nothing, though (and trust me... this break we did a WHOLE stinking lot of absolutely nothing)- at least for me- is that it's really easy to go from "I'll just watch a little bit of the "Today Show" while I finish my coffee, then we'll get laundry going and be productive!" to "Sweet! Another six-hour marathon of Barney Miller!"

Truth: I love Barney Miller. And Magnum PI. I wish I really could find a six hour marathon. Sometimes, for no reason, I'll break into the Magnum PI theme song. Sometimes I even do it in public. I want a Detroit Tigers baseball cap to wear with my fake mustache. 

As Queen of Distraction (see my tiara?) I know the only way I'm going to get crap done is by making lists and then actually looking at the lists and doing what's on them. I'm big into lists, especially lists I can make on lined paper with good pens. Purple ink preferably. I looooooove making lists. Even my lists have lists. No, really:
From this summer. I told you so. 

Anyway, a couple of days ago I got on Pinterest in search of a biscuit recipe. Five hours later I'd downloaded 37 forms from Life Your Way to organize my life and my lists into one convenient binder. I love it. See, I'm also somewhat addicted to organizational items and concepts, most of which I never end up using... oh, but I love me some Office Depot and Staples and Office Max. I love the smell of Franklin Covey in the morning. I've been pretty much forbidden to ever purchase another planner- EVER... but I figured printing all of this stuff out was fair game, right? And it's pretty bad ass. It's like my lists got all juiced up by Jose Canseco, but with less chest pounding and morally repugnant behavior.** I've got personal information forms, places for insurance papers, pet shot records, weekly menus, and utility records. You could pretty much take over my life if you got your hands on this bad boy. (But please don't. I like my life. Except for toilets. I live in a house with three guys... you can TOTALLY take over cleaning toilets. There are four bathrooms in my house and NO ONE WILL JUST LET ME HAVE ONE TO MYSELF.)

Let me amend that... you could take over my life (toilets only, please)... AFTER I actually get it filled out. Because right now all you'd have are a bunch of neatly organized blank forms and a lovely list of our family's "Go-To Meals" (Hint: We like tacos) (Truth: Yes, I have 'sauteed zucchini and summer squash" listed... but I wouldn't advise it unless I'm the only person eating. Look, no Mom, Pirate or otherwise, wants a printed meal list that essentially says "Screw you vegetables!") Eventually, though... eventually my binder WILL be chock-full of informational goodness.

Later. Today I am getting a facial from my friend Mary Kay Heather. Dewy skin trumps bathroom cleaning lists. You know how I feel about the toilets.

*- Stop trying to send me to rehab, people. I don't really drink that much. Unless you're sending me to Promises Malibu or Crossroads in Antigua ***

**- I do not advocate the use of steroids, even for binders. 

***- I was not making fun of rehab or those with legitimate problems. But I wouldn't mind a trip to either Malibu or the islands, frankly. 

In all seriousness, a family binder or it's ilk isn't a bad thing to have. In the aftermath of the May 20th tornado, one of the things that struck me as I tried to help my friends was how MUCH there is to do... and how much they had to REMEMBER in able to do it. It was hell. Having your documents, utility information, even car insurance, VIN numbers, etc in one place- and then duplicated and stored securely in a secondary location as well- could be a lifesaver... or at the very least, a sanity saver. But you've gotta actually fill the stuff out. I recommend a nice purple pen.   

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Every once in a while I'll get an idea. No, not an idea... an IDEA. You can hear the capitalization in it. And, true, to form, they NEVER come at a good time. Case in point: on the Sunday before Christmas I decided I wanted to make HOMEMADE gingerbread houses with the boys. When I told the Flake he didn't try to convince me otherwise, bless his heart. Instead, he somewhat frantically suggested I go ahead and take the next 36 hours to go visit my bestie in another state. I'm sure he hoped that the 12 hour round trip drive and estrogen-fueled squeefest would deter my architectural pastry dreams.

Silly Rabbit. Like I can be deterred that easily.

DAY 1: I at least decided to use a mix (they were 50% off at Target, how could I not?) and just add more flour to stiffen the dough. I believe the exact measurement was "more than what ended up on the counter". As my piece of crap Not A KitchenAid mixer tried not to burn out it's motor, I called the Z up to check out the dough and experience the wonder of family togetherness.

"It looks like dog poop." OK, so maybe it did, but oh, the heavenly scents of ginger and cinnamon! "It looks and smells like the dog ate the homemade ornaments off the tree."

Fair enough. After effectively spilling flour over half the kitchen and before the smoke from Not A KitchenAid could set off the detectors I wrapped the dough up and stuck it in the fridge to set.

DAY 2: And sit. It was New Years Eve. Unless it involved fun beverages or fake mustaches I was having none of it.

DAY 3: The Flake shows up after a shopping expedition with not one, not two, BUT THREE GINGERBREAD KITS. Not, of course, because he DOUBTS my prowess as a Gingerbread Goddess, oh no... but because he has the FORESIGHT to see we may need more than one house to decorate! BRILLIANCE! I lay out the pieces... I snip the tip off the pre-bagged royal icing.... I call the children up to begin a beautiful afternoon of craftsmanship.

The children are busy defeating the forces of Blarg.

I'd like to say that I calmly went downstairs and invited them again to join in my wholesome fun. I'd like to say that they happily put down the video game controllers and joined me in brotherly love. I'd like to say all of that, but I'd be lying. I'd also be lying if I didn't admit to the frisson of glee that sparked in my Pinterest-inspired heart at the idea that ALL YOUR GINGERBREAD ARE BELONG TO ME. In fact... IN FACT... what seems like a GREAT idea is to DESIGN MY OWN TEMPLATE FOR A HOUSE! And cut it out of shirt boxes! And add doors and windows... and not just ANY windows, but STAINED GLASS WINDOWS MADE OF CRUSHED CANDIES! My God, I am GENIUS!

Three hours later I am covered in a thin crust of hardened sugar and have third degree "stained glass" burns on my fingers. I hate you, gingerbread. Why can't I quit you?

DAY 4: HOW MANY EFFING DAYS DOES THIS SHIT TAKE? The houses, to my credit (thank you) are glued together. Nothing has collapsed. Once again Not A KitchenAid is in action, this time on icing detail. I have to admit, the homemade New Orleans style shotgun house is pretty bad ass, with it's stained glass windows, covered porch, and staircase. I'm feeling pretty awesome. Obviously the house can't be BROWN. It needs to be pink! I'll frost it pink!

Pirate Note: Frosting around adorable stained glass candy windows is a pain in the ass. Within ten minutes I"m spackling the crap on with my hands. But it works! It's adorably covered in pink royal icing! Next comes the alternating chex roof tiles... the gum stick shutters... THE RICE KRISPY TREAT BUSHES! No lie, by the time I put my icing gun down, I had one fine looking gingerbread house. A work of art really. It was worth the burned fingers, the fine sheen of icing on every exposed surface (including my skin). I needed a shower but first, first I would call my family to view my creation, no, my MASTERPIECE. As I swelled with pride, my family gathered around to admire my creation. "When do we get to start ours?"


Admit it... this kicks Gingerbread Newbie ASS.