Sunday, September 7, 2014

Table for two with a +1

Now that Ben has decided to be a responsible young adult and start working, it really puts a damper on Chris and me being able to cavort freely about town, nary a care in the world. That's never actually happened, but the potential was certainly there. 

Our 12th anniversary is tomorrow, so we decided to go to dinner a night early. I'm not sure why. Why do anything early? I guess it makes more sense to do it early rather than after the fact. The anticipation is still there before the event. Afterwards, it's like...meh...it's already over -- why bother now? It's best to capitalize on the momentum and do it early. Surely there's a science behind it. Maybe I just discovered it.

Since Ben was working tonight (Sunday for those keeping score), we took Sadie along with us. We've toted Sadie around with us billions and billions of times, all over town. Eating meals, playing at the park, library, going to the grocery store. You get the idea. All three of us. But when tonight crossed over into "anniversary dinner," it was determined by Sadie that it was some sort of sacred meal time. She wanted to sit at another table so she wouldn't bother us, but we wouldn't allow that. 

Then she said she was just going to eat at home so she wouldn't...I don't know...eat on our date. I told her she would have to make her own thing when we got home because I wasn't cooking tonight. She said she would go ahead and eat at the restaurant. Good choice. 

When we got there, they sat us at a table for six, and Sadie still wanted to sit at the end of the table with the plastic drink display, ketchup bottle, and paper towel roll between us. Yes, because that makes it way less conspicuous. It was the weirdest +1 we've ever had. We forced her to sit next to us and be social, and she balked the whole time at having to be the third wheel to our meal. I'm not sure I understood the discomfort since JUST YESTERDAY we ate lunch at Sam's, just the three of us, and no one was complaining. I'm not sure how a special event status propels it into Make It Awkward for All Involved Time. It's still just eating.

Me (trying to get to the bottom of it): "We ate lunch at Sam's yesterday, and it wasn't weird for you."

Sadie (trying to enlighten me to her brand of science): "Because it's AN ANNIVERSARY DINNER."

Still not sure I understand. We wore the same clothes all day.

It was a fun meal in spite of the anniversary aspect, and quite possibly one of my favorite with Sadie. She's about to turn 10 in a couple of weeks, and she's crossing over from the little kid phase into fun big kid stage. I remember Ben pushing through that age, and how much more relatable he was from there on out. It's like they become more of a main participant rather than a bystander on the periphery. Their sense of humor is more developed and they're less of...little kids. 

I see their personalities developing and their thought processes emerging and they're such fantastically wonderful people to be around. Our days with them are so finitely numbered, why wouldn't I want to spend an extra day with one of them? I would be foolish not to take every opportunity to spend with either one. Chris and I will have the rest of our lives to spend together without these precious faces. We should soak up every minute we can now. I know I would kick myself later on down the road for not having taken Sadie on one meal with us.

I should probably get Chris a card for our anniversary. The traditional gift is linen or silk. Sounds like he needs a new set of sheets. He changed my oil and washed my car for me. I'm such a slacker. Gah. I need to whip out a pie or baby or...that's about all I can do but not from the same place. I couldn't even come up with a third thing. I did wipe down all the blinds in anticipation of company on Saturday. They were fuzzy. What a waste of a woman.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Interacting in the real world and not behind a computer screen

My first day Facebook free started to be a productive one. I'm not saying FB is bad or evil or of the devil, but it is definitely implied. I also recognize my own failings in relying upon it for social interaction and passing time.

I cleaned up the kitchen and went through my recipe binder. For years and years I've been hoarding collecting recipes for a day when...I don't know. I suppose I wanted to be prepared for any situation, much like the Boy Scouts if they hosted impromptu dinner parties. I took clothes upstairs that were hanging in the laundry room for weeks. Turns out all the time I wasted on the computer was time I should have spent cleaning. Ahem.

I cleaned out a tube of lip balm that had melted in the car. Now it's good as new. I showered and shaved my legs to go to a cross country booster club meeting. Maybe they're not a booster club yet. Perhaps I'll find out at the meeting. I normally wouldn't go to anything like a booster club meeting with people I didn't know, but my lack of reliance on Facebook has forced me to seek alternatives for seeing actual, live human beings. I met one of the moms at a parent meeting the other day, and she was so lovely and I thought, hey! I'm interacting! 

We ran errands and ate lunch at Sam's because I'm incredibly cheap frugal. Yes, let's go with frugal. That sounds way less stigmatizing. Chris, Sadie and I wandered the aisles of Sam's and the library and...I think we went somewhere else. I was really tired so it's all slightly fuzzy.

I took a nap because Saturday afternoons were made for napping. Then we went to visit Chris' parents for dinner and football. The whole time I was present and engaged in the moment and with the people whose company I was keeping because I knew I couldn't run home and hop on the computer to interact with online personas. I had to make the most of my time with people because, I'm telling you, THIS IS IT. This was real life.

The whole day I felt heady and so alive, practically giddy that my time felt like my own. I wondered if this is what it was like for smokers after they quit smoking and can taste real flavors again. My senses were heightened in that I was no longer in bondage to a virtual reality. I had zero desire to return to my previous state. My desire for such things had been conquered by an all-consuming Savior.

That sounds like such a dramatic thing to say, but there are only two states in life that matter: Dead and alive. And I'm not talking about whether you're alive and breathing or dead in the ground. It's whether you're dead or alive in Christ. Nothing in this world matters more than whether you are conducting yourself with the knowledge and grace of Jesus or whether you're pursuing things of this world and the flesh.

I am chief of the latter. I am ashamed to admit how much time I wasted on Facebook. Ashamed. I want to fall on my face on the floor and weep for the beautiful moments I threw in the trash because I was a slave to my own sin. I have deliberately neglected tallying the amount of time I've spent on FB because I don't know how I would live with myself knowing that number. I'm already ashamed of my gluttony, numbers add nothing but more remorse.

Today we went to church and I had to consciously think to myself, Make this time count. This is your interaction with people. THIS IS IT. I loved it. People matter. Relationships matter. Relationships on the other side of a computer screen are empty and unsatisfying. It's looking like I'm on my way to becoming a hugger.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I quit Facebook: My epiphany

I've heard of these mysterious creatures who have walked away from the all-powerful pull of Facebook. I used to think, They're crazy. How do they keep in touch with people? How will they know what's going on? I would be missing so much if I quit Facebook! The Fear Of Missing Out is a crippling addiction.

But over the last several months to a year, I started to envy them. I started to wonder, Would I really be missing out if I didn't know all this stuff? I wanted to be that person who focused on the events at hand whether they were my events or your events as we're walking through life together. I no longer wanted to waste precious minutes that are bestowed upon me from God by flicking through a web site designed to suck you in to waste more time. I have become my own stumbling block in squandering my time on things that have no value.

Facebook has been a great tool for reconnecting long-lost friends and allowing people to communicate about events in the neighborhood, births, engagements, whatever. But for me it became a huge pit of nothingness that sucked all my attention from a million other things I could be doing. Things like:


  • Telling others about Jesus or learning how to be a more effective witness
  • Reading the stack of books beside my bed
  • Watching a movie with full attention rather than split between two screens
  • Playing a game with my family
  • Taking the dogs for a longer walk
  • Investing time in others 
  • Letting Real Life be my Facebook and talking to people in the line at the grocery store
I've tried to be careful not to overshare on Facebook because I have this platform of a blog, but I found myself reading about what YOU were doing or eating or going. It made me sad. It made me sad that I would focus so much of my attention on whatever else was going on in the world. It made me sad that after getting home in the evenings and things settled down,  I would sit down with a cup of coffee with the intent of seeing what interesting things were happening while I was away. Feeds, status updates, news articles, pictures. I finally asked myself: Would I be missing out if I didn't know this?

We did some really wonderful things as a family over the summer, and at various times it would cross my mind to post something to Facebook so people would see that I was and could be an interesting and engaging person. But it was a stronger sensation to just let my events be my events and my memories. I didn't use my phone to capture images of things the kids were doing because I was actively engaged in our journey. 

Then I had a life-changing realization: I was so much happier when I wasn't on Facebook. It was such a freeing epiphany that I can exist without the lure of Facebook. I realized that I want to get to know YOU in real life and investing time in Facebook/virtual relationships is not how I want to continue. I want to be intentional in my pursuit of relationships. I want to develop a real, authentic relationship with you that involves walks around the neighborhood or meeting for coffee or watching the latest episode of The Bachelor. It doesn't have to be anything fancy because I'm not fancy. Life isn't about being impressive. Life is about loving you and where you are in your journey.

Here's my call to you: Call me. Send me an email. I've put my address in the Contact Me tab at the top of the blog. Text me if you have my number. I would be delighted and honored to get to know you. I'll buy you a cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate or frozen yogurt -- you name it). I would love to chat with you long distance and maintain our connection that way. And if our paths do not cross to develop a meaningful friendship, then I wish you well on your journey.

Please forgive me if I seem a little over exuberant if I see you out and about at work or Target or the various thrift stores I frequent. I'm not sure how to interact in real life because my social skills are a little rusty and/or nonexistent. I'll get the hang of it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

When life gives you a freezer full of thawed fruit against your will, you make fruit salad

Why do dogs come in so smelly? Are they out there absorbing all the funk in the neighborhood? They're living odor eaters that take wretched smells and wrap it in hot dog. It makes me happy when they come in and try to lay on my lap. Yes, I didn't have a smelly hot writhing creature on my person while minding my own business. THANK YOU. Yes, lick my hands while I try to type. That's what I was missing.

I came home from work today to find that someone had left the freezer door open. Ajar, if you will. Just enough to thaw everything in there. Beautiful seasonal summer fruit I've been collecting for smoothies this winter, bananas to be used for bread this fall, vegetarian stew for a quick meal one night, all the bread I'd made for school lunches. All defrosted into a puddle of mush. I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do.

I don't know what it is in kids where some are easy to accept the rules and some fight the system with clenched fists every step of the way. Some are logical thinkers and say, "Oh, okay. That rule makes sense because it keeps us all safe and my parents have my best interests in mind. I'm glad they love me so much to protect and guide me." 

Then you have independent thinkers who as soon as you tell them the rule, they throw down with, "F**K YOUR RULES! I HATE THEM! I SPIT ON YOUR RULES! YOU ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO RUIN MY LIFE!" I've had one of each, so I'm kind of like an expert on chaos. Both types are my favorite.

In preparing for the next year and ease the transition for the 5th grade teachers to have Sadie in their classes, I asked her what was the strategy for next year.

Sadie (hates rules): "Skip school and not get in trouble."

Me (I probably should have picked up one of the truancy flyers while at the back to school bash): "Well, you have to go to school, so try again."

Sadie (sees your rules and raises you): "Go to school and hide in the bathroom and not get in trouble."

Avoiding all responsibility to avoid confrontation is definitely an interesting strategy. Avoid to avoid. That could be the Next Big Idea. I'm going have it put on t-shirts. That sounds like a lot of work. Maybe I'll just write it on this here sticky note. I can't find a pen. Maybe I'll just remember it. I should start dinner. Something casseroly.

Okay. I'm back. I made chicken tortilla casserole. It's supposed to be chicken, soup, taco cheese, and Rotel tomatoes layered with corn tortillas, but I just cut everything up, mixed it all together, and dumped it in a baking dish. "Layers" are something of a bygone era. No one has time for that. Well, actually, I do. I got home at 3:45.

I decided to quit fretting over my first world problems of thawed freezer items and put on my big girl panties. I made a fruit salad with mango (freezer), blueberries (freezer) and toasted almonds (freezer) and toasted coconut (pantry). It was fantastic. Maybe I need more accidents in life. Just to clarify, good accidents. Babies, found money...stuff. I don't know what else constitutes happy accidents, but I'm open to receiving them. Good. Not bad. Just so we're on the same page.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You know, whatever.

For the third time in one day, I've heard the word "convo." As in the shortened form of conversation. What? When did this become a thing? "How did the convo go?" There's no second "o" in conversation, so I don't understand. Yet another thing in this world that has escaped me. That should be about No. 5,020 on the list.

This weekend there was a forced clean out of Sadie's room. Every time I walk past her room, I think, That hurts my eyes. Sometimes I say to myself, "I should really be better at parenting." We broke through the threshold for dirty, though, and went into full-on clean. We weren't kidding around. During the upheaval, we found six books that Sadie had borrowed from her 4th grade teachers' class libraries. I usually get suspicious when I find a book that doesn't have a library barcode on it.

Me: "Whose is this?"

Sadie: "My teacher's."

Me: "Whose is this?"

Sadie: "My teacher's."

I'll spare you the rest of the convo (yeah, I'm not feeling it), but you get the idea. I surreptitiously returned them to her teacher's classrooms when they weren't in there. Surprise! Half your library is back...mysteriously. Today while looking for money, I found THREE MORE BOOKS in her dresser. She's like a literary squirrel.

Me: "Whose are these?"

Sadie: "My teacher's."

I've already warned one of the 5th grade teachers not to let Sadie take home any books next year if she values them at all. I spied her library of endless rows of colorful paperbacks, looking like brain candy to the voracious reader set. It looked dangerously appealing.

School starts next week. I'm ready, but I've been at work for a while so it doesn't bother me. Hopefully the toilet paper supply will get a break. Go use Public School's toilet paper. That's why it's there. Education, yes, I suppose. But toilet paper mainly. And socializing. And lunches. And recess. And access to libraries. Public school is good for many things.

Monday, August 11, 2014

An enumerated list of things at which I fail (cont'd from the previous 35 years)

I love coming across articles that give some sort of womanly advice or tips. Chances are, I'm not following them, wasn't aware of them, or have violated them in some way. Fashion, shoes, home decor, makeup, anything mainstream, socializing, or being successful at any of the aforementioned lady hobbies are generally a good place to start in the List of Things at Which I Fail on a Regular Basis. We're on year 36, people. It's bound to turn around at some point, right?

While perusing the Internets this evening, I saw the article 13 Things a Woman Should Never Have in Her Home. I got excited because I thought I might have all 13 things and I would definitely be winning at something. I like winning. Let's give it a go.

1. Excessive frills. Too much of a good thing goes bad. “Don’t paint your whole house pink and put ruffles on everything,” says designer Nicole Fuller. “It’s not sexy.”
I don't even have minimal frills that would get me to a chance to cross over into a violation status. I need to work on my excessive frills skills. Thrift stores are usually filled to the gills with ruffled frills.

2. Silk flower arrangements. “Silk flower arrangements say ‘I have given up and there is no hope for me’,” says designer Susan Ferrier.
What? That is EXACTLY why I have silk flower arrangements in my house BECAUSE I have given up and there is no hope for me. Whenever I'm contemplating purchasing a new arrangement for the house, I specifically pick something I cannot kill. Chris bought a Christmas plant -- what are those? with the red flowers? gah -- Poinsettias! -- at or around Christmas. That would make sense. He's managed to keep it not only alive but actually thriving since November. Had I been in charge it wouldn't have even made it to December 3. It would have been compost fodder.

3. Collage type photo frames.  
So I didn't even know what this thing was. I'm actually safe on this one. I haven't framed a picture in years and years. I do have a collection of empty picture frames that I painted white and hung "decoratively" in our front room. I don't know if that's still a thing. Probably not since it's in my house.

4. Stuffed animals (especially on your bed).  
I have to agree on this. The only stuffed animals we have in our house are some beanie baby type things I got from the thrift store for the dogs. Those last until they rip their faces off and tear out the insides. Then I get more and begin the defacing process again.

5. Inspirational quotes. It’s self-help at a glance. “Inspirational quotes of any kind, especially in needlepoint, read as a cry for help under every circumstance,” says Ferrier.
My whole life is a cry for help, so I have this quote in every room to remind myself to be a better person: "Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud." -- Maya Angelou

I'm just kidding. I'm not 12 and don't think of life in terms rainbow potential.

6. Cheap bedding. Quality bedding will make you feel like a queen! “A refined woman should have nice linens,” says designer MA Allen.
I guess it would help if you started out as a refined woman. Why spend money on linens? That just seems wasteful. Does it cover your nekkid mattress? Does it keep you warm? Could you wrap it around you and flee the house in the middle of the night? Sounds like it's doing its job. Save your money.

7. Cosmetics and personal products spilling out everywhere.  
I have all five pieces of my makeup in a basket on my counter. I'm not sure where that leaves me.

8. Doll collections from childhood.  
I think a doll collection is a good introduction for men learning to handle eccentricities. How will they get used to the cookbook collection? Shoe collection? Makeup? Dishes? Tea towels? Black shirts? Sweaters? Start with the doll collection! It's like the gateway drug.

9. Family photos by the bed. 
Hey, now. I have a family photo by my bed. Well, technically it's on the wall by my side of the bed where I can't see it.

10. An abundance of pictures of your pet. 
So I should cancel publication of my new coffee table book Penny and Nickels: Dog Currency for Happiness?

11. Cat trees/homes.
Again, I fail to see where this is a problem. You have a home, right? Why can't cats have homes? And what's wrong with Crazy Cat Lady? Maybe she should room with Doll Collection Lady and Pet Picture Collection Lady and have a commune dedicated to love and all things wonderful.

12. Sorority memorabilia.
I guess slacking it in life until finally getting my act together in my 30s has behooved me once again. I do not have memorabilia with which to deal. I do have this awesome doll collection though.

13. Too much mismatched furniture.
I'm going to go on record here and just say nothing in my house matches. It's a collection of things given to us, found at a discount, found in the alley, things covered in bad paint jobs, whatever. Who needs matching when you can have chaos? Life gets messy. Your furniture should reflect that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to work needs its own shopping season

But it would need to take place at thrift stores, Dollar Tree, and Big Lots. Maybe every day is back to work shopping season then.

Today was the first day back to work. It wasn't as big of a shock to the system as I thought it would be. I didn't have a child unit with me at all times, so that was a little disappointing. I did see some other kids, but they weren't mine so it really had no effect on me. Maybe if they'd offered me a Dr Pepper when I needed it most I could have upgraded them some sort of favored status.

I've made it a goal to not pack 16 snacks with me this year. I usually pack my lunch like I'm going on a 6-week sabbatical in the mountains. Whole watermelons, a dozen tacos, three pizzas, 12 containers of yogurt, a dozen boiled eggs. I pack it all. What if I get hungry? I get panicky if I feel hungry, like I might start crying like a baby. What would be the harm in riding out the hunger until the appointed eating time? Well, I could likely die waiting for that time to arrive. 

They say that you should snack or eat 6 small meals a day in order to maintain your metabolism. I'm not sure who "they" are, but they are liars. I do nothing but gain weight when I eat snacks. And six meals really means six teeny tiny snacks, not six Hungry Man TV dinners carefully spaced throughout the day. There should be a disclaimer on all medical advice.

Since this was my first year to ever have a chunk of summer off, toward the end I kept thinking that surely I was supposed to be back at work. Hopefully someone would have called and been all, "Uh, Rachel. The hell? Why aren't you here today?" I need reminders. It's all scrambled eggs up in the ol' noodle.

I picked up Sadie from summer camp and she informed me that she felt horrible all day, feeling generally pukey. Could be a virus, could be the hot dog lunch they had at camp. I'm not a doctor or a mathematician. Mmmm...questionable meat logs. Nothing says violent stomach cramps like "meat" of indeterminate origin cooked and handled by non-food service industry personnel.

Hopefully more things will happen tomorrow so I can regale you with stories of my life and make yours seem so much better, like it's been rolled in glitter and magic sprinkles. Well, this post should have taken care of that.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Last day of summer vacation

My last day of summer vacation was spent running errands and working at the food pantry. Normally, I love doing both things (shopping and volunteering), but I had to go it all alone because Sadie went to summer camp and Ben went to work. No summer companions to accompany me. Boo. I would have bought them a treat, too.

I started off the day with a long, long list of Things to Accomplish. It had very well near 10 things on it. I called the insurance company, exchanged our modem at the cable company, went to the library, went to the bank because I don't know how the online banking industry works, and successfully crossed over four lanes of highway traffic. I felt very kick-assy. If my days had been this productive during my whole summer break, I would have been really tired.

Then I went to the bread store to buy coffee. I'm kidding. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. I bought bread. I was told by Ben this morning, "You need to buy bread. Lots of it." Done. I bought 6 loaves of bread and a package of pitas for $11.03 and got two packages of bagels for free. You're supposed to buy $6 worth of bread to qualify for a freebie from the free rack, but he said I could go ahead and get two. I have clout! It's like being a regular Cheers only this Cheers doesn't know my name. And they sell discounted bread. And have frequent shopper cards. And freebies. But still like Cheers in a lot of ways.

I was tired from all the work at food pantry yet I still had errands to run. I sought sustenance from Whataburger in the form of a chocolate milk shake. The frozen dairy confection spurred me on to Dollar tree in search of bargains. I think I love Dollar Tree a little too much. This morning I made the realization that we needed pens for our pencil cup. It's a sad realization to most, sure, but to me it was practically life changing. You know how when you do without for so long and then you finally acquire or replace the item in limbo? And then you feel like, “Finally. I’ve arrived in life.” That’s how I felt when I bought pens. Our pencil cup had paltry offerings. Take a look:
Seriously? That’s ghetto. We’re adults. We should have Real Pens at this point in life. 

I heard some suspicious sounds coming from the floor. I looked down at the dogs to see that they were sharing an old Q-tip they'd gotten out of the trash. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

One time we when we were at the library I saw the book Grace Based Parenting, and I walked around with in my hands for a while. I held it and looked at it and read the flaps. I thought, Clearly a book written for me. But then I wondered if a book of parenting advice/techniques would really make a difference at this point since one is almost out the door and I could really just wing it from here on out. So I quietly put it back on the shelf because the kids were with me and I didn't want them to think, She has absolutely no idea what she's doing, does she? Maybe they already know and would think, FINALLY. It's about time she get some real help.

The milkshake was a bad idea. Apparently you don't just "get over" adult onset lactose intolerance.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The chocolate incidents. With an S.

Before we went on our walk, I made Sadie some hot chocolate because the temperature had dipped below 85 during a July day in Texas. When we came home we received the news.

Sadie (dramatic announcements are kind of her thing): "I hate hot chocolate. I'm never drinking it again. I was drinking it and choked on it. I spit it out all over my bed. I have hot chocolate on my sheets."

Me (it tried to kill her??): "Were you laying down when you were trying to drink it?"

Sadie: "No, I was sitting up."

Me (trying not to be a contender for Hoarders): "You need to change your sheets before you go to bed. You can't sleep with hot chocolate on them."

Sadie (unimpressed with things like cleanliness): "Eh. It will be fine."

Me (ummm...no): "No. You will change your sheets. This is not going to be another drop chocolate shake on your leg and let Penny lick it off because you didn't want to get a towel."

Chris (I wonder if he's ever curious about what fills our days): "THAT HAPPENED?"

Me: "I can't make this stuff up."

Today is the last Friday of my summer break. I go back to work on Tuesday. I'm not sure I'll know how to function in the real world (the real real world, not MTV's The Real World in case you were confused). I've been getting up every day close to my regular time to be able to take the dogs for a walk before Ben left for cross country practice, so the morning routine has been fairly consistent. There are many hurdles to overcome, however. Things like wearing different clothes every day, napping at various points during the day, and having that third cup of coffee while watching the 9th hour of the TODAY show.

Why do the dogs like to jump up on the bed and start wrestling next to my person? There's the WHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLE house available and yet the 12" next to me is far more appealing. Sometimes they don't even give me the 12" of bubble space and wrestle directly on my lap, flopping against my legs, knocking my cup of coffee, creating a general ruckus.

Sadie and I spent her last day of all-day home life doing a significant amount of nothing. We hit the library first to get the 2nd in a series of awful Eddie Murphy movies. After doing a little bit of research (read: Google search), I found that several of his movies have been on the list of worst movies ever. I have Meet Dave and A Thousand Words, both of which have been critically panned by reviewers, audiences, people with eyes, people with good taste, and people who hate wasting perfectly good money. We're waiting on Pluto Nash, which I think I saw was No. 3 on the worst and least grossing movies ever made. This is going to be the best or worst movie night ever.

We went to the park where we played on the toys. We played a balance game where you stand on the wobbly post to meet in the middle and then jump until the other person falls off. That doesn't sound like a safe game to play with old ladies who possess bad hips and didn't wear their white sneakers to the park. 

We swung on the swings that, even after I finally hoisted my big old lady bottom into the seat, my feet still dangled 18" off the ground. Is this a playground for giants? Maybe just regular sized people? 

Then we went up the rocket ship and saw where someone had written "F**k you" to all the little kids who happen to come play. Thankfully, I have a child who can read so this was not lost on her.

Me (covering her eyes): "Sadie! Don't look at that! It's a bad word!"

Sadie (who can read like a champ): "I already read it. I know what it means."

Me (but she's NINE): "What?!? How did you know?"

Sadie (AND SHE KNOWS THINGS): "I've heard it before. I figured it out."

Well, thank you, Public School, for teaching her how to use context clues.

As we continued in the rocket ship, I saw her eyes dart back to The Bad Word. 

Me: "SADIE! Stop reading that! It's a bad word."

Sadie (torturing me): "I just wanted to make sure I understood it. My 4th grade teacher said if you don't understand something you should keep reading it until you do." Great. NOW she chooses to put school to good use?

We went to Sam's because that continues to be my happy place despite no longer being a member. I'm officially just an outsider. A moocher. An interloper. They should have cards for my people. We split a pretzel combo because no one human should have that many carbs and that much salt in one sitting. I looked around to see if there was anything for which I needed a membership and needed to pester Chris about getting one. Luckily, I found these:
Yes, yes I DO need those. I visited their web site, and it says they're sold at Kroger. So...yay? I still want a membership. I want to belong to something exclusive.

Today was my favorite kind of day to be a parent. The days when there's really nowhere to be or any reason to be out other than to just be together. It was just us, me and my constant companion, with nary a care in the world. Our time was unrushed and unstructured. When we were at the library, it hit me that today is August 1, and that means it's going by so so quickly. I feel like the years are slipping through my fingers and I can't grasp them fast enough. Every time I turn around it's another Christmas and we've blown through another year at warp speed. 

Our days are filled with these precious souls and dogs and long walks and family game nights and I don't want it to ever end. Before I know it, it will be Christmas and the house will be empty because they have families of their own. I know that's the ultimate goal of parenting -- to turn out these magnificent people into society -- but it makes me so sad to not have them under my roof on an everyday basis. You can't ask for a better life than this. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Big bowl of word salad

Sadie: "One time when I was in 4th grade and we were sitting on the carpet, I farted in front of the group. I started laughing, and it smelled SO BAD."

Me: "Sadie! I would have been mortified if I farted in front of anyone in 4th grade!"

Sadie: "Well, luckily, it was a group of boys, so they didn't know any different from them. If it had been a group of girls, they would have been, 'Ewwww....gross! Stinky!'"

Me: "If a girl farted would you have been like --"

Sadie [raising her fist for girl power unity]: "I would be like, 'YAY TEAM!'"

Ben is at the point where he has expressed a vague interest in dating.Ugh. Dating. What a horrid thought. Well, really just the asking out part. What a wretched rite of passage for anyone of any age. I do not envy them at all.

Well, sometimes I do. I wish Chris and I could go back to our dating days and have that excitement of getting ready and riding in someone else's car. The excitement of a new person, no idea where you're going to go or what you're going to do. You know, when described like that, it almost sounds like an abduction. Now we're all old and married and have a kid who's interested in dating and we're just old brown shoes.

It's almost dinnertime and I've yet to start making dinner. It sounds so very, very hard. I had the brilliant idea that I should make chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. Chicken nuggets are homemade but the mac and cheese is Pirate's Booty, so it's from a box if you didn't make that connection. It all sounds like so much work with the cutting and breading and zzzzzzzzzz. I'm over it.

We have a date night coming up. We go on approximately 1 date night every 6 years. We don't even have little kids or babies that need to be sat upon. Somehow we just never find the time? Maybe we're waiting until the kids move out and every day is a date night all. day. long. I'm sure Chris is looking forward to that and all the talking that has the potential to occur. There's a Greek restaurant I've been wanting to try and then I want to go to Half Price Books. I'm telling you, old brown shoe dating.

Me: "I need another baby so I can have some more writing material. What if I run out of things to say?" 

Chris: "I don't know if having kids for writing material is a sustainable model."

Me: "You don't like that? How could I improve my pitch?"

But seriously. What if I run out of things to say? That why I keep this running commentary of a blog so that the words keep flowing. I tried using alcohol once to keep the words flowing but that lead to just wanting to go to bed after one glass of wine and then a wicked upset stomach the next day. Hemingway I am not.

I want to start a new dating site. It will be Old Brown Shoe Dating and will focus on people who just want to get married and settle down into blissful yet predictable married life. Your house, your cars, your job, your chicken nugget dinners. None of that flashy Match[es to Burn All Your Hopes for Finding Compatible Mates] or eHarmony [was the Name of My 10th Shelter Cat] or BeautifulPeople [don't Put Their Profiles on This Site]. A quick Google search returned a list of dating web sites. Sounds like the market is open to new ideas.

I pulled it together and made dinner. Then I helped Sadie clean out her crayon/colored pencil/marker box. I like sharpening pencils. Nothing is happier than a big cup of sharpened pencils. There's so much potential.  

I took the dogs for a 4-mile walk to offset the cracker weight I put on today. Now I smell like one of the dogs.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I should talk to more people (outside of my head) on a daily basis

I have this fantasy where a small town newspaper editor runs across this here blog. Think Texas or Iowa or Arkansas. Or the east coast or New England. Small town. He sends me an email or certified letter if they don't have internet inviting me to write a daily column for their small town newspaper. Like a day-in-the life feature of small town living. Then I get to write about small town living and I will know that I have officially made it in life. This fantasy is really sad. It's also very real.

I can hear the dogs breathing outside the closed bedroom door. Their noses are pressed up against the door, and I can hear, "Hsssssshhhhh" through the crack. Is that exasperation? Desperation? Hopelessness? Sometimes I hear soft pawing. Now that I think about it, I really hope it's the dogs and not monsters, vampires, zombies, aliens, small dinosaurs, centaurs, or minotaurs. When I open the door, they're always there, just waiting like big stalkers. I try to tell them that there are other live humans in the house and to go stalk them, but they don't understand because they lack the ability to reason with logic, understand higher math concepts, love conditionally, and open cans with opposable thumbs. After all, they're dogs.

Swype has to be the most ridiculous texting invention ever. It never ever ever ever gets it correct.  It's not even trying 159% of the time. It's like trying to get a lazy teenager to run errands for me.

Me (to Swype): "Pretty please text Ben to get some beef fajitas."

Swype (lazy ass): "Get neef Fayyad."

Me (for the 6,000,000,000 time): "No, beef fajitas."

Swype (going to his room): "Gah! Neef, beef. Close enough. You're such a buzz kill. I HATE YOU! YOU ALWAYS RUIN MY LIFE!"

Maybe I should switch the translation language to English.

I think there's only so much staying home I can do. Every time I turn around there's yet another basket of laundry to be folded or load of dishes to be loaded in the dishwasher for washing. Seriously? Didn't I just do all this two weeks ago? Being a productive member of the workforce is a good way to avoid doing everyday chores every day. Why do today what you can put off until two weekends from now when you haven't had clean underwear for three days and you're eating pot roast off party napkins because you still haven't started the dishwasher?

Sadie and I got out today. Wheeeee! We went to the thrift store for the 50% off sale, but the dressing rooms were closed during the sale. While I normally wouldn't mind whipping it all out in public to try on clothes outside of the confines of a dressing room, I wore old granny panties so my options for killing it at the thrift store were severely limited.  I saw Person I Know No. 1 there as well. Then we went to Target where I saw Persons I Know No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4. I talked to three of my four encounters. Is this what it's like out in public? I forget that people are out there. I should go out there more often. That was nice. Humans = good.

I'm pretty sure I ruined dinner. I made what was supposed to be vegetarian stuffed zucchini, but I took out the corn element and replaced it with sausage. I tasted it a little while ago and it tastes a lot like dookie. Even I'm not sure I can convince everyone that it's delicious. We might have to resort to hard boiled eggs and smoothies.

The two baskets of laundry have still not been folded all day. I should probably fold them before Chris gets home to dispel any rumor he might have heard as to my daily productivity. We'll see. Pretty sure I'm not fooling anyone.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm going to talk about pants

I left the neighborhood today. My hermitude was shattered by actually having an official place to be on Thursday night. Otherwise, I'm not sure I would have seen the light of day. I saw the crack of the light of day this morning when I took the dogs for a walk. I scurried inside before the sun rose over the rooftops.

Two pairs of my pants have officially died, both khakis. I've had them both for well over 10 years now, so clearly they've been good pants. Faithful even. Probably not very classic because who am I to recognize and/or afford a classic piece of clothing. The khaki pants developed some mysterious stains down the front that I could probably get away with wearing in sketchy lighting. Maybe the General Public would wonder if they had spots in their eyes and not that I retrieved my pants from the dumpster behind Big Lots.

The khaki capris, however, were marred by the errant avocado that slipped out of my hand the other night while making dinner. Said avocado also ruined a perfectly lovely turquoise and white polka dot Old Navy blouse. I treated the stains several times with Super Clean and washed them but to no avail. There were still faint stains down the front. Sure, I could have made them my Avocado Pants and worn them when a festive mood struck or I hosted Fiesta Night and served nachos and claimed, "I'm wearing my Avocado Pants! Let's party!" Avocado Pants had the potential to join the ranks of my Saturday Pants and Painting Pants, but the reality is they would have been the What the Hell is Wrong With You, Why Can't You Just Buy New Pants? Pants.

Now I'm on the search for new khaki pants in varying lengths. I like having things for which I need to go shopping. It really gives my life meaning. Tomorrow there's a 50% off sale at one of the thrift stores, so it sounds like I could score some bargains. That's college level thinking right there.

I made Eggplant Parmesan for dinner. I thought it was delicious, but I'm afraid to ask everyone what they thought of it because they'll invariably make retching sounds. I like eggplant. No one else does. I keep making it though because I like to beat a dead horse. You've seen my wardrobe, right? This blog? All horses.

Two people to whom I didn't pay any money at all said it looked like I lost weight. I don't know about that. Perhaps. I haven't stepped on the scale in months because I'm scared. I do try to eat less and move more, always a magical combination. So is not stuffing yourself like a Thanksgiving turkey at any given opportunity. 

I hope this blog has given your life meaning. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I haven't left the neighborhood all day

Why don't introverts have a social club? Well, I guess I answered my own question. But why don't they have at least a gathering? We could just meet at Starbucks, nod a cursory hello, and read our books by ourselves. We'll agree to meet again next week. Maybe by week 26 we'll be almost acquaintances.

I'm savoring my last couple of week and a half of being home before I have to go back to work. It has been mostly uneventful for the summer. Deliciously uneventful. We took a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas last week. It was all levels of magnificent. So much fun and so pretty. 

You know how you visit a city/town on vacation and loudly think to yourself and then holler at your husband when you can no longer contain it, "WHY AREN'T WE LIVING HERE?" I didn't think that once on the whole trip. I entertained the idea, but never fully committed to actually speaking those words. I think my actual words to Chris were, "I could never live here. How do you survive? What do you do? Where do you live?" 

The area by the bathhouses was really, really pretty. Quaint even. Like walking around on a movie set but in real life. Other than that...I'm not sure what you do for a living. Walmart, tourist shop, or...and I'm out. I would offer national park ranger as an option, but those are hard to get according to the park ranger.  The architecture was cool to look at, and the web site Abandoned Arkansas offers a peek into some of the buildings around Hot Springs that stand in disrepair.

We did a lot of walking. No, like A LOT. Miles and miles and miles each day. That's my favorite thing to do on a vacation. Walking/hiking, looking at things, eating, and drinking coffee. My first biggest fear was being eaten by a mountain lion, but it turns out there aren't mountain lions in that area of the US. Then I shifted my fear to being consumed by ticks and contracting Lyme disease, but it turns out that Lyme disease is only in a handful of states, and Arkansas isn't one of them. All my worrying was for naught. I hate wasted efforts.

The best part of the trip was the breakfast at the hotel. I love hotel breakfast buffets. It's like a surprise every morning that someone lovingly set out for me. It was a little disappointing to get back home and not have an entire spread of cereal, belgian waffles, pastries/bagels, eggs, breakfast meats, french toast, a vat of oatmeal, a selection of juices, milk, and coffee sitting out for me. Talk about a let down.

I swiped several bars of hotel soap and a couple extra bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. Each day I would ask for two additional bars of soap on top of what was already put in our room. It was the best soap ever -- Neutrogena French Milled bath soap. Why can't they sell hospitality items to the general public? 

There you have it. A month's absence and this is all I can offer. You deserve better than this. Only slightly better, though, so as not to inflate your ego and give you a sense of entitlement.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Posty McPostykins

Me: "I think I would like another baby."

Chris: "You just told me you were too old."

Me: "That's just what I say to make myself feel better. I could do it."

Chris: "Let's just get another dog at the pound."

I do want another dog (a buddy for Penny) but I'm leaning to wanting another baby. I just need to convince Chris that at this stage in our lives (I'm 36...ugh) that starting all over is what I want. Gladly. Baaaaabyyyyyy feeeeeveeeerrrr. The kids are 16 and 9. 16 and 9. This baby fever needs to be replaced with someone more productive like shopping or movies or anything that gets my uterus' mind off of procreating.

Chris is currently helping Ben with his Algebra II homework. They were just discussing a program that Chris wrote for one of his classes on how to find a prime number. I stayed out of that conversation out of respect for math and science. I might hurt its feelings that despite being an older college student, I cannot participate in discussions such as these. I do remember the quadratic equation. Small victory.

I took Penny for a walk by myself tonight. The children didn't want to come with me. They wasted a perfectly beautiful evening staying inside. See? I need smaller children who actually want to spend time with me. We did play Scrabble Slam when I got home, so family values were restored. Ben informed me that I smelled like I went for a walk. I asked for clarification later, and he said I smelled like BO. I guess that better than saying I smelled like a dirty diaper. Small victory? Probably not.

I've given up on cooking dinner. I used to make 16 course meals that took several hours to make and were lovingly prepared with wholesome ingredients. Tonight, though, I dumped out tater tots and mini corn dogs on baking sheets and heated them up. I used the oven, so that's almost like homemade. I rounded it out with some peas and carrots.

Me: "How can I get rid of this baby fever? What can I do?"

Chris: "Look at how much it costs to buy a minivan. Look at the cost of daycare."

It would only be $5000 per school year. That sounds doable, right?

This post was pointless and I've solved none of the world's problems. I've failed humanity. Par for the course.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

When crap spills out of my head it becomes words

Yesterday was the millionth snow day of this school year. By 11:50 a.m. I'd achieved a grand total of zero things. A whole lotta nothing. I consumed most of my daily calories in pretzel rolls and hazelnut spread. At one point I was calculating when Chris would leave for work so I could eat more rolls and spread. It was quite the balancing act to enjoy mere bites at a time yet not so much to horrify Chris but still leave enough to fully engage in the gorging later.

You know when people say, "What's your biggest fear in life?" and they mean it all deep and philosophical like you're going to say, "I want to be a good role model." That's not even close to mine. I'm sure I'll disappoint legions of people. You'll survive. No, my biggest fear (or within the top 3) is slipping and falling directly on my face in the cold icy weather. Why wouldn't I land on my ass or use my hands to break my fall? I don't know. I have a face? My fear is I'll use my mouth and/or teeth to cushion the fall. (In case you were wondering fears No. 1 and No. 2 are driving off the side of the road into a construction zone and coming out of the bathroom with my skirt tucked in my underwear.)

The TV in our bedroom has a big green glowing spot on it at various times. There's no rhyme or reason as to when it will appear. Tonight it looked like Bobby Flay had encountered Slimer from Ghostbusters (RIP Harold Ramis -- you were my first movie star crush when I was a kid). Our last TV died so we walked around Sam's for DAYS and DAYS trying to convince ourselves that -- as adults in our 30s -- we were worthy of spending $200 on a semi-decent TV for our room. After hours of deliberations and price comparison, we talked ourselves out of it and put the TV back on the shelf. A friend from work knew a friend who wanted to make a quick $25 selling their old school TV to frugal schmoes. It's very beasty. Nothing sleek or modern about it. But it was cheap, so that pretty much fits our MO.

I would like to go on the show Worst Cooks in America. Surely I can make something atrocious. Once I made a chicken paprikash dish that most closely resembled chicken vomit. I could fumble my way through a couple of challenges and then by challenge three just start nailing it and be all, "I don't know what happened. It just...clicked [26 years ago when I started cooking because I was bored staying home all day during the summer]!" I could use $25,000. I wouldn't even gloat. Much.