I'm only mildly crafty. Got it Pinterest?

Pinterest projects that turn away only mildly crafty people.

When you take something that is 3 steps and make it 20.  Nutter butter ghosts need no more instruction than this. - Step One: Dip Nutter Butters in white chocolate and put in the refrigerator. Done. Don't make 8 steps out of going to the store and opening the packaging.  You are just insulting my intelligence.

Taking things that kids have no problem eating and making it “fun”. – There is no need to make hot dog art.  Ever.  Your kid probably has no problem eating a regular looking hot dog and if he does…all the better.

When any of the steps say “drill a hole” like it’s totally natural.  Here’s the natural sounding sentence:  “Now all you need to do is spread the cheese on the cracker”.  Here’s the not natural sounding sentence, “Now all you need to do is drill a hole in the wood”

Don’t act like that’s normal.  Like I have a drill and its components sitting next to my coffee maker.  The actual step should read something like this: “Now, you do have to drill a hole next so send your brother-in-law a quick text asking him to bring his drill over the next time you have a holiday meal at your house, when he texts back with some sort of follow up dimension-seeking drilling inquiry, tell him to come prepared for a variety of scenarios because you don’t understand his question.  Put the project aside in the hall closet.  In three years, when you are packing to move, dust it off and put it in a box so you can continue to not finish it in your new house.

Don’t tell me to get out my double boiler.  Just say, microwave.  Chances are that people who know how to use and own a double boiler will come to this alternative to the microwave on their own…you’re just making us all feel bad. (see also: “Now, pull out your pre-seasoned cast iron skillet").

When it shows a craft with 27 license plates making something.  Yes, I love it…but where do you think I should go find 27 licenses plates of varying shapes and colors?  Also can I use lefty safety scissors to then 'fashion' them into the shape of the state they represent? No? then forget it.  I'll wait for the Rooms to Go knock off and spend 8 years paying for it with no interest.

When the instructions start with “All I did was this” then tells me to go to 4 different stores for supplies. There are some weeks I don’t even make it to the grocery store once.  Also, for the last time, I DON’T KNOW WHERE A HOBBY LOBBY IS.  If its not found at Target, I’m not doing the craft.

I am never going to get something ‘specially cut’ at Home Depot.  Everything about that step intimidates me.  Home Depot. Specially Cut.  I don’t go to Home Depot unless I need a Christmas tree and they sell those in the parking lot.

When you ask me to ‘repurpose’ something I don’t even own.  No, I don’t have an old map lying around that I’m just itching to modge podge (whatever that is) onto all my extra wooden letters in the attic.  Nor am I wondering what do with all these extra mason jars.  Also, why do people just ‘have’ clothespins? I don’t even know where you buy clothespins if it’s not the year 1909.

So there you have it.  I wish I was this all-crafting do it yourself-er...but, alas, I'm just not that girl.

Andy and Rachel on Vacation

Andy and I went to Savannah/Tybee Island last week.  As seen here:

and here...

Here is a picture tour of our adventures.  

First things first: Buy a bottle of barbecue sauce at the Chevron station.


Second order of business: Buy a coffee crumb cake from that very same Chevron station.  

Check. Check.

Try to eat and end up getting crumbs all over Andy's car.  Be nonchalant as you pick crumbs out of your shirt and dust off your pants in the hopes that he won't notice the mess you are making.

He looks over at you and says, "I know what you're doing." 

Feel Chevron Station crumb cake eating shame.

Once you are in Savannah, go on haunted pub tour.  

Feel the need to buy a drink at every pub to support the local economy.  You, after all, want to do your part.

Unfortunately, in this case, supporting the local economy leads to talking to pirates, and being, what the tour guide called 'insensitive' about the dearly departed.

At the conclusion of the Haunted Pub Tour do these things:
Fling last drink into the bushes at the oldest landmark in Savannah (Andy). 
Go to Jimmy Johns and spend 20 minutes thanking the employees for your sandwich (Rachel).  
Lose your room key (Andy and Rachel).  
Go to sleep at 8:30 (Andy).  
Start texting your friends (Rachel).  
Vacation/Romantic Getaway Losers (Andy and Rachel)

Now...For Andy and Rachel's worst souvenir contest (this is a contest we started on our honeymoon when we found and purchased a delightful light up Jesus picture...with the idea that every time we got away on a trip we would keep up the tradition...after 7.5 years of marriage this is the 2nd time we've played this game).


1. Shell boxes are not new...but they are not good souvenirs unless you are decorating your coastal timeshare...and even then although they may fit in a little better, it doesn't make it right.

2. The hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil monkeys...you have to buy all three.  Otherwise, you're just tacky...

3. As previously stated on FB: Now it IS a reproduction of a pirate coin necklace but according to the packaging it's an authentic reproduction. Which as far as reproductions go is what you want to look for.

 4.  Can't...look....directly...at...it.  Certainly don't want it opening my bottle.

5. My personal favorite.  Life sized gas station pump gum ball dispensers.  Here's what the electric pink signs say more or less:              
Gas Station Pump Gum Ball Machines

Sale Price...............$995
Reduced Sale Price........$749
Cash Price..............$543
Reduced Sale Cash Price............$356

There were 8 of them in the store...I guess it was a slow year for gas station pump gum ball machines.  The economy hurts everyone, people.

6. And finally, you all can expect to get this for Christmas...who doesn't want...

A Shark in a JAR!!!!

This concludes everyone's favorite vacation game! Tune in in 7.5 years for more souvenir fun!

Next we went into a store with gigantic signs that said NOTHING OVER $9.99 and EVERYTHING $9.99 OR LESS.  This is where I bought a swimsuit cover up for $23.99.  Things that make you go hmmm....

Finally, we ate at that Pirate House!  Delicious!

All in all, a good trip!
Bye, Y'all!  ARRRGGGGG

Because I'm lame

There is Nothing Wrong with Lying to Your Children

This weekend I was hit with a barrage of unanswerable questions from my son.  I know this is kind of what you sign up for when you decide to become a parent, but somehow I just wasn't prepared and didn't know how to answer some of these questions...and when I did...he didn't always accept my answer. So I did what every responsible parent does...I started making crap up...because that is good parenting.

Sam: Mom, what does the letter "R" start with?

Me: Um..."R"

Sam: No but what does it start with "R"rrrrr..."R" (He has started sounding things out slowly for me when I don't seem to "understand" him.  It's been a charming addition to an already lethal arsenal of unintentional sarcasm - but look at his parents)

Me:  Sam...the letter "R" is a letter so it starts and ends with an "R"

Sam: UUUUGGGGHHHH.  Mom, but WHAT does it start with.

Me: (thinking) What is on 2nd base. 

But instead I say: Look is that Batman?

Sam: Where?

Me: Over there...you have to look real hard and not ask questions and maybe you'll see him.

Sam: Mom, What are pumpkins made out of?

Me: Pumpkins are made out of pumpkin.  

Sam: NO MOM....what are they made out of? 

Me: I'm not lying to you...they are made out of pumpkin.  They grow in a garden.

Sam: They grow in a garden?  But what are they MADE OUT OF???

Me: (exhale in exasperation) Um...Orange candy and happy thoughts.

Sam: (pause then sarcastically) Really mom? Really?  

(Driving by a cemetery)

Sam: What's that mom?

Me: It's a cemetery.

Sam: What's a cemetery?

Me: Um...it's a...um...it's like a garden.

Sam: Like a garden? Like where pumpkins are? 

Me: Yep, it's like a very old...very dead pumpkin garden...without any pumpkins.

Sam: Oh. 

Come All Ye Women and Let me Interpret Your Dreams

I would like to propose something. 

Last time I made a proposal, it was to create a task force of women whose sole purpose it is to bring you a bra to the emergency room for those times you erroneously thought there “wasn’t time” when rushing your child there. Once you arrived, saw the piles of children in the waiting room, watched your own little one jump from chair to chair while squealing and tried to find a position to sit in (short of holding them) that didn’t make you feel, well, jiggly, you realized that you should have taken the time.  That’s when you call the “Bra Squad”. 

I’m still waiting for it to catch on.

Anyway, back to my current proposal.  This one has to do with dreams.

This morning, I woke up extremely anxious, mentally exhausted and sore.  Not sore like, my right arm hurts from Bunko...but all over sore.

I hobbled over to the Keurig (which is, by the way, the only member of my family I will talk to before 9AM) when it dawned on me.  I had had a really stressful dream. 

Now, women, let me interpret your dreams…yes all your dreams.  With the exception of the never-happens-enough fantasy dream where you have a run in with your favorite celebrity who, for some reason, looks more like a kid you used to ride the bus with, all your dreams mean one thing.  In one sentence, your dreams mean this, “you feel inadequate”.  It’s true. 

All of my dreams involve a situation or task that I just can’t control.  It’s usually something simple that in real life, I can actually do, but evil lives in dream world. It’s a place where even the simplest of tasks has an elevated and completely unrealistic level of complication preventing accomplishment.

It’s very frustrating…like a few of those Angry Birds levels.

Running from something?  Not so fast…literally
Screaming?  Never loud enough, it seems.
Trying to bake a cake?  Not with the infestation of ninja vampire spiders trying to bite your fingers off unless you successfully complete all the Macarena dance moves. 
Trying to talk to your husband? He’s not listening. 

Okay sometimes its realistic.

You wake up mentally exhausted, emotionally drained and you're trying to figure out why your left foot is inexplicably numb. 

You see, I don’t’ see why I have to delineate between dreams and things I physically did.  Why? Because they feel the same on my body. 

Maybe I should be doing more P90X. 

Last night I was trying to navigate a gypsy carnival to find my son while dodging the creepy little girl ghost who kept popping up in front of me.  It was way stressful.


So why am I at work this morning?

Okay, so here is my two-part proposal:

Proposal Part One:  Please put a drop down choice on my LiveStrong App under exercise that says, “Particularly Active Dream = 400 Calories (or) go ahead and get a chicken biscuit on the way to work”

Proposal Part Two: In addition to vacation days, sick days, short and long term disability, there needs to be some time off given to “dream recovery”. 

Yes, I feel like an elderly wimp requesting this.  Dreams used to be no big deal.  You could go to bed, spend the entire night ‘running in place’ from a gigantic helium balloon named “Bonecrusher” and still have enough energy to put on eyeshadow and jewelry.  Now, I have a dream about spilling a cup of coffee on my favorite chair and I wake up needing about six Advil (the multi-vitamin of choice for moms).

So all I’m asking are a few understanding conversations like the one below from places of employment:

“I can’t come in to work today.”

“Why?” <–----- in my hypothetical situation, you are allowed to ask probing questions that are typically shunned by HR professionals.

“My husband is cheating on me.”

“With who?” <–------ see, like here.

“Charlize Theron”

“Seriously?” <–------ and you can make judgmental one-word responses.

“Most definitely…except she looks like our pharmacist.  Anyway, I’m exhausted, emotionally drained and my left foot is numb…I’ll be in tomorrow.”

See, you don't have to Ferris Bueller your way to a sick day and everyone is happy!  Except your husband, who you are punishing with the silent treatment even though you are fully aware of the fact that it was a dream.  

I'm the Kind of Girl Who Leaves a Trail

“You’re the type of person who could never have a secret double life somewhere,” My husband was telling me one day.

“Yes, because I am a good person who loves my husband.”

“No, I mean you couldn’t pull it off…because you always leave a trail. I would totally know.”

I sighed.  Sadly, he was right.  I mean, not sadly because that’s the only thing keeping me from a whole other family, but it means I just can’t pull off secrets in my house…good ones or bad ones...not happening (to quote "you Germans") :)

It’s because of things like this.

Minutes earlier, we had been sitting in the driveway watching our son play.  I was texting my mom a Christmas gift idea for Andy and I was being really obnoxious about it being a secret and that it was about him and he’d have to ‘wait and find out’.  As usual, I went back to read the message after it had been sent (I’m not sure why I do this…but I do it…and so do you).  It was then that I noticed that I had sent the message, not to my mother, but to Andy

I panicked but tried to be nonchalant…he can’t know I’m alarmed, “Hey honey,” I said breezily, “where is your phone?”

He looked at me suspiciously. 

Darn it, he knew

We bolted up out of our seats at the same time and raced into the house, leaving our 3 year-old in the yard to fend for himself.  Whatever, don’t judge, it will make him tougher.  

I had no idea where I was going…I didn’t know where his phone was, but I was hoping he didn’t know either.  That would, by the way, be the only reasonable explanation as to why he never answers it.  He doesn’t know where it is…ever. 

After a lot of racing around the house and yelling at him, I was finally allowed to delete the incriminating message. 

I wish I could tell you that this was the only time I’ve ever done this.  I wish.  But I’m not going to get into Textgate 2010 because we’ve just now started speaking again.    

But, he’s right…I am the sort of girl who leaves a trail.

In one instance, I “secretly” had my sister’s two dogs over at the house while Andy was at work one day.  I was SURE I’d get away with it.  I carefully collected their leashes and dog toys.  I meticulously combed the floor for chew treats and left the house exactly the way it was found so certain that he would never know.  And I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for the dog dish of water and the baby gate blocking the stairs that I left on my way out.    

Yes, I’m like the Jason Bourne of wife sneakiness. 

Last night I told Sam we would play some music through the surround sound in the den that was somehow hooked up through the DVD player and looped into the speakers with the help of the 1.21 Jiggawatts of electrical power…I don’t know what I’m saying. All I know is that Andy had turned it on the other night and played his iPod through it…so I was sure that I could ‘figure it out’. 

Sam waited patiently while I confidently hit buttons, turned things on and off, switched red and green wires behind the tv, turned light switches on and off, spun the batteries in the back of all 6 remotes and blew imaginary dust out of crevices in the hopes of playing one Foster the People song. 

All of it was to no avail. The stereo kept looping back to the Finding Nemo DVD that was in the player and all I was doing was losing my patience and punching the buttons even harder. 

Because, despite what they tell you, punching buttons harder totally helps. 

Then I made the problem worse when I decided it was not a button-pushing problem (because I was pushing all of them) it was a sequence-of-hitting-those-buttons problem. 

Fast forward fifteen more minutes, the remote I was holding was hot from overuse and at this point I had hit so many buttons in the process that the display started questioning my abilities.  I hit input four times only to see the words, “you done yet?” flash up on the display.  “GAHHHH…” I yelled at the tv and tore up the paper I was using to track the button pushing sequences. 

Finally, Sam brought me a pumpkin spice latte that he had run down to Starbucks to get (I guess...I don't know, I was screaming at the t.v.) and suggested we take a breather. It was only then that I gave up.  I couldn’t even get the t.v. to turn back on correctly.

I was, as we say in America, screwed.

I had NO idea how to fix what I had just done. 

So I did what every honest, loving wife does.

I waited until my husband got home and said breezily, “Hey, can you teach me how to play the iPod through the stereo system?  Sam wanted to hear some music tonight but I told him that I wasn’t sure how to do that and I obviously didn’t want to mess with the t.v. and just hit buttons randomly.” I laughed at such a preposterous idea.

In addition to the nervous/guilty laughter, I was also holding my breath and crossing my fingers that whatever realm I had sent our electronics into could be easily undone with a few buttons being pushed and no knowledge that I had ever been involved.

But that was not to be.

Andy grabbed one of the remotes, hit three buttons, frowned, looked at me and said, “What the hell did you do?”

My eyes narrowed. How does he always know?

Below is an Actual Marital Conversation of the MOST DANGEROUS KIND

(my phone rings at work...its my husband)

Rachel: Hi Honey!

Andy: Hey...do you have a second?

Rachel: Sure...what's up?

Andy: So I was separating the laundry and wanted to know if you needed me to throw away some of these shirts.

Rachel: (pausing to process) Whose shirts?

Andy: Yours.

Rachel: Which shirts?

Andy: You know, just some of these shirts of yours in the laundry. I was going to help you throw them out.

Rachel: Are they shirts I currently wear.

Andy: (silence)

Rachel: Andy?

Andy: Yes, they are in the rotation.

Rachel: Crap, he's onto my weekly shirt rotation.

Andy: I'm not trying to say anything...its just that some of these shirts have lost their...um.

Rachel: (defensively) Their what?

Andy: Spunk.

A Letter from Lola

Dear Mom,

Hi, it’s me…Lola! 

I hope you’re having a super fun time on your trip.  You will be happy to know that I haven’t tried to sneak out once while you are gone.  No parties.  No boyfriends over. I haven't even worn my collar that you called "skimpy". It’s been hard, but I want to make sure that you know you can trust me so that when I go backpacking across Europe myself when I’m 18, you won’t worry. Also, I am not interested in other dogs since the “surgery”.  I'm still kinda mad about that.

I’m having fun with Aunt Rachel.  She’s into all the girly stuff.  She must wash her hair twice a day with your Wen products.  I like her. 

Cousin Sam has insisted on changing our names to Rojo and Gwenfripp the Super Dogs. I told him my name was Lola...but he told me that it wasn't.


Do I look like a Gwenfripp?

Anyway, Bailey is getting on my nerves.  He won’t let me sleep in the bed.  Aunt Rachel and I chatted about it over Pumpkin Spice coffee and she said it reminds her of the time when you were kids and you made her sit in the back of the tub at bath time and wouldn’t plug up the drain so she could get water.  She said she used to sit in the back of the tub freezing and dirty.  Man, mom...you were a bossy little girl.  

Well, anyway.  I’m having a blast…except for the part where Cousin Sam won’t stop calling me Gwenfripp. I hope none of my friends try to come over…I’ll just die. 


A Letter from Bailey

Dear Mom, Dad and Cece

Aunt Rachel says you are far away on a trip.  That sounds fun.  I wish we could go too.  I know that you are having a good time. Lola and I miss you guys.  Aunt Rachel is nice, but she doesn’t really understand dogs, I think.  She keeps putting us in time out.  I’m not really sure what it is, but when she tells cousin Sam to go there, he puts his hands on his hips…which I think is weird that she asks us to do this since we don’t have hands (duh).

Things here are fine.  Aunt Rachel says it must be nice to be able to flit off to Europe on a whim. And that we were staying home because we were just the “little people.”  Obviously we are little…but people? Aunt Rachel isn’t very smart.  Also, I’m not sure what “flit” means, but it sounds fun. She also says its okay though because it gives her a chance to wear your clothes, play in your makeup and drink all your wine.  Oops, she told me not to say that. 

Anyway, don’t worry about us, we’re fine.  We are spending a lot of time under the bed hiding from Cousin Sam because he’s…well he’s 4.  He keeps calling me “his dog.”  It’s really starting to scare me because instead of Aunt Rachel setting him straight, she just sort of sighs and says, “whatever you want.”  I don’t want to be Cousin Sam’s dog.   

Bring me back a Waterford Crystal dog bowl!


A Post with Chapters

The Part Where I Bit It At the Marriott
The Part Where I had to go to Bagdad, KY
The Part Where My Sister is a Freak of Nature
The Part Where Buffalo Flavored Bugles Suck

 The Part Where I Bit It At the Marriott

At 7:30 AM bright and early on Friday, I went to checkout of the hotel I was staying at in Chattanooga.  I had a 5.5 hour drive ahead of me as I was headed to Bagdad, Kentucky for work (more on that later).  I was staying in a two story Marriott with no elevator (I feel like someone didn't think that one through).  

As I was coming down the stairs with all of my luggage, my ankle, which apparently couldn't handle one more step, rolled and I tumbled down the stairs onto a landing. I'm sure it looked cool.  It felt cool.  In addition to the awesome points I was earning, there was a disconcerting popping noise that came from the general vicinity of my right foot. 

"This weekend is going to be excellent." This was my first thought as I was lying on my stomach in the stairwell of the Courtyard Marriott and waiting for someone to find me.

No one heard me fall, however.  Apparently there were no other guests at the hotel that day.  

I was that tree that fell in the forest with no people.  Only I was lying on the landing in a stairwell at the Marriott in Chattanooga...and I'm not a tree.  Other than that...its exactly the same thing.  I was poking my hand into my right foot in the hopes I could self diagnose and was doing that Blair Witch Project breathing that you do when you hurt something as an adult and are trying to keep from screaming like a child.  

And I waited.  

And no one came.  

Because other people stay at hotels with elevators. 

So I did what every survival expert does…I called information. I did this to get the number for the hotel in whose stairwell I was currently lying in.  

I spoke to a nice lady in reservations named Nancy who put me on hold for five minutes after I told her I was lying in her stairwell.  

She transferred me to Nicole at the front desk and Nancy felt no need to let Nicole know the reason she was putting call through.  Fifteen minutes after my fall, a nice employee named Ben helped me get my bags, found a wheel chair and parked me in the lobby of the hotel as I tried to figure out what I was going to do.  

Option 1: Call family member to come get me.
Option 2: Live in Chattanooga.
Option 3: Update my Facebook status.
Option 4: Wait it out and see if I could still make it to Kentucky since I'm so tough (or I'm afraid that someone will be mad at me if I don't show up).

In the end, I wrapped my foot really tight in a bandage, took a lot (a lot) of Motrin and cruise controlled it to Kentucky to a scary campground located in a city that shares its name with the scariest place on Earth.  

Which leads me to…

The Part Where I had to go to Bagdad, Kentucky. 

I rarely blog about work because, well…I’d like to keep my job, but in this case, I feel like it is my duty to educate the people in my life about a place known as Bagdad, Kentucky.  I had to train some Peer Leaders in the great state of Kentucky at their annual training conference this weekend.  This conference was being held at a facility that, to help you put it into perspective, was where you would go for church camp or to film an installment of Friday the 13th.

Got a visual?  

Now, I have stayed at similar facilities, in the middle of nowhere for miserable, long weekends where all I wanted was a Starbucks and a bed that didn’t make me want to sleep in my car.  Those places, however, were all in Georgia.  Driving in remote locations in Georgia, for the most part, doesn't scare me.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I feel like if I ran into some scary country people, I could flash some red and black at them and they’d let me pass in peace.

But when I had to leave the state of Georgia, cross over Tennessee and wind my way through Kentucky…it was a different story.  I mean that’s several different college football territories and honestly, I’m not even sure which ones.  I am liable to flash the wrong colors in an attempt to make friends with the natives and get myself shot.  

Also, Kentucky is where the Bourbon trail is…enough said.

I wound through back roads ignoring my GPS and instead using a set of directions I was given.  GPS is an amazing invention…most of the time.  The problem I have with GPS is the fact that this instrument will lead you down roads you could be on…not necessarily roads you should be on.  I kind of wish GPS came with a feature that factored in the level of creepy or the likelihood that you might disappear forever when making its road recommendations. 

For this reason, I used the handwritten directions I was given once I got off the highway. 

A few times, my GPS, which fully understood that I wasn’t following it, would recalculate, not with routes, but with messages like…”You got me…I don’t know where we are either” and “It’s been a pleasure knowing you.”  It was a little unnerving.  More unnerving was the fact that these messages corresponded with passing places like Buffalo Lick Baptist Church and mobile homes with do-it-yourself-with-plywood additions that had signs posted in the yard that read, “I’ll shoot first and then ask you what you’re doing on my property later” and “Beware of the angry white man with gun”. 

It was that type of drive. 

I locked eyes with my GPS several times as if it were a person who was in this with me.  GPS responded telling me I was on my own with this one since I chose to go rogue.

GPS's are extremely sensitive.

The ride was an adventure...and not in a good way.

To sum up the ending, I found the campground, put in my 24 hours of talking to teens about sex, downed 13 more Motrin and drove home. 

Which leads me to… 

The Part Where My Sister is a Freak of Nature

When I arrived home late last night, I went directly to my sister’s house, who is in England (it's like a whole other country), which is nothing like Bagdad, Kentucky and where she saw my best friend Nicky (Nicky is English).

Well, first I got O’Charley’s curbside to go then I went to Anna’ house, poured a humongous glass of New Age wine (it’s a wine people, not a religion) to help combat my bitterness and unwrapped my foot that looked nothing like my other foot in size or shape (perhaps I should be going to the doctor at some point). 

Since my sister is out of town, I am taking care of her Westies this week, seen here:

They are wild.

For 72 hours before she left town, she obsessed over whether or not I understood how to open and close the kennel door since she had not shown me how to do it.  I mean she obsessed. She left me detailed instructions on my voicemail, drew me pictures and even demonstrated it at a restaurant using knives and forks and sugar packets. Obsessed.

I assured her that I could handle it…or I could Google it…or I could call in a professional.  Yet, this continued to be thing that stressed her out before leaving out of town. 

I ignored her.  She was acting like a freak of nature. 

Friday, I got this texted to me:

 I’m not sure if I should be grateful she REALLY wanted me to understand how to open the kennel door OR offended that she thinks a visual demonstration is the only way I might grasp the latch/unlatch process. 

Which leads to…

The Part Where Buffalo Flavored Bugles Suck

I have nothing else to say about this.  Buffalo flavored Bugles just suck.

House Hunters Now...and Then

Dear 2011, your forefathers and mothers think you are ridiculous.

And here’s why.

House Hunters International

With a budget of $500,000 Brent and Ashley are 30-somethings who have decided to spend time off from their busy lives by kicking off the dust of San Antonio and planting down secondary roots in Turks and Caicos.

(I hate you, Brent and Ashley).

House #1 is four times their budget, but has the 360 Degree ocean views they wanted and used to be owned by Sylvester Stallone.

Ashley: So house #1 is a little more expensive than we were hoping, but you couldn’t ask for more character.  I’m a little disappointed that the 8 bedrooms are so small, but I do love the views.

House #2 has the desirable ocean location that the couple is looking for but there is a catch.  Can Brent and Ashley get past the strict community guidelines long enough to view the house’s potential?

Brent: So House #2 doesn’t allow me to set up a music studio for my island jam sessions, but I like the fact that it has crown molding and a lot of counter space in the kitchen.  I am a little worried about living so far away from civilization.  It’s kind of remote.  We’d be like 15 minutes from the airport…I’m not sure about that.

House #3 is a fraction of what they want to spend, but will the lack of granite counter tops and the construction going on next door be a deal breaker.

Ashley: House #3 is a steal…but I can’t vacation without granite.  Also, the ocean is so close to the house that there’s no place to put the pool.  How can we live in the islands without a pool? 

This decision is going to be tough.

House Hunters 1800-ish

Nathanial and Elizabeth have decided to kiss city life goodbye, quit their dangerous mill jobs, sell all their belongings and one of their children so they can head to the prairie for a new start.  This young family wants adventure in the great outdoors, fresh air, wide open spaces and the occasional adrenaline rush that comes with prairie fires, wedge tornadoes and of course the random hostile Indian tribe.

House #1 costs two more chickens than the couple wants to pay, but it’s a finished house and the previous owners will be leaving their cook stove and a set of wagon wheels. 

Nathaniel: House #1 is my favorite.  I would gladly give up a few extra chickens to not have to chop wood in the forest several miles away and lug it back to the prairie being that I only have one arm thanks to a recent accident in the mill back East.

House #2 is a steal of a good deal, but it would mean that Nathaniel and Elizabeth would have to start from scratch being that there is no house on the property at all.

Elizabeth:  As far as big mounds of dirt go…it’s a good one.  The location is great, but I would worry about the children being dismembered and eaten by coyotes and wolves since we’ll be living out side for the next 6 months. 

House #3 is free but will the recent Cholera outbreak nearby dash their dreams of owning their own little piece of “amber waves of grain”?

Elizabeth:  The recent outbreak and death toll does bother me a bit about house #3.  Also, we have to consider the prospect of dragging the previous owners out of their beds, burying them and then burning everything they owned lest we get Cholera.  I do like the fact that there is garden already here.  It will keep us from starving to death for a few weeks.  I don’t know the more properties we look at, the harder the decision is…this sure is a tough one.  House hunting is hard.

Too Many Words

Sometimes I don't understand my husband.

There I said it.

Every time we have a day off together, he will inevitably look at me at some point and say, "You have two more questions to ask me for today...that is all...use them wisely."

Apparently, some people (pointing to husband), think that I use too many words.

Today he was on a mission to pick up the clutter downstairs.  Let me translate.  He was on a mission to either 1.) put things without a home in the trash or 2.) put things without a home in the attic.  These are the two fates of all clutter standing in the way of Andy and a relaxing afternoon of watching the flat screen and drinking a Dr. Pepper.

Let me correct myself...these are the the two fates of all of my clutter.

He does not own anything classified as "clutter."  At least that's what I'm told.  By him.  Regularly.

So in the midst of this de-cluttering frenzy, he holds something up to me and says, "Do you need this for something?"

He was holding two bottles of brand new Softsoap that I purchased the day before and were still in the bag on the counter.

My eyes narrow.

What I really wanted to say was, "what if I said I don't need it for anything?" just to see which of the two fates the hand soap would receive.  Would it make more sense to him to throw it away or store it in the attic?

I'm not sure why basic human instinct wasn't already troubleshooting this one for him.  After all, it was hand soap.  The very same kind that sits on the ledge of every bathroom sink we have.  The hand soap that lives in the linen closet or under the sink until needed.

It was extra hand soap, people.

It's every discount shopper and couponer's number one stockpiled item.  If you can't swing buying bulk loads of Kix and Ramen noodles...you at least have the linen closet full of Soft Soap.

Women...come clean (no pun intended).  That stuff drops to below $1 and you are loading your buggy like you will never have this opportunity again.

For the sake of the de-cluttering conversation with my husband, I left it at, "Yes, I need it."  Simply because the questioning I wanted to put him through was going to yield one of those awesome, "women say too many things," eye-rolling or exhaling moments.

Those, by the way, are my favorite.

And, yes I wanted to interrogate him in a tiny room with a two way mirror to find out why he didn't just 'know' to put the soap away. So?

"So, tell me, Andy is it?  If that's your real name. What do you think two unopened bottles of hand soap were doing on the kitchen counter? Have you ever seen 'extra' household supplies in the house before?  Is there a special place that your wife, we'll call her Rachel, keeps things that she, perhaps, doesn't need right now, but will probably need in the next few weeks?"

I didn't do this.  I said, "yes" and took my hand soap to the secret hand soap holding room that I don't tell my husband about.  


See, women, actually care that you think we're nagging.  Well, no so much the fact that we're nagging...we want men to admit that we are justified in using the number of words that we are using in any given hand soap conversation.  We want to set you straight by over explaining why we feel the need to over explain.  We want a, "oh, I get it," moment at the end. But there's a problem.

Men don't care.

They just want you to stop talking as soon as possible. I said as soon as possible.  Not only do they not care about you justifying the fact that you are, yes, still talking, they don't even care that you are then writing a blog post about it so that someone, somewhere, will listen to all of your words in the hopes that another woman will send you an FB message and say, "Girl, that is so my husband too."

Men, these are the moments when you take a swig of your beer and say to your buddies, "Dude, I love her, but she is psycho sometimes."

We are, in turn thinking, "I wonder how many bottles of unused hand soap have been throw away? What if I hadn't been here?"

I don't even want to think about that.

I Took the Plunge...

Okay, so I decided to release a "Greatest Hits" ebook.  And I use the term "hits" loosely.  I have published my best blog posts and my award winners for sale on the Kindle.  If you follow my blog, you will have read most or all of what I've included, but I thought $1.99 wasn't too much to ask if you wanted to support it as I work on "new" stuff and patiently await the release of My Funny Valentine, the Valentine anthology of which I'm going to be a part.  Also, I removed most of the stories I included in the book so if you ever want to see the story about Andy and I going to bed mad again, you have to fork over $1.99.  I know...I'm cruel...or maybe you don't care.  Whatever! :)

The ebook is a 'test' of direct to kindle publishing for me so currently there is no cover for the book (got my people working on that - totally don't have people, but it's coming) and I'm learning the format of kindle publishing.

The book is simply a compilation, which means, it's short, there are no chapters and its just a stream of consciousness style telling of true stories broken up by quotes.

You can go here to buy the book!

If you don't own a kindle, you can download the Kindle app for free to your iphone and then purchase from there.  I'll need to figure out how to make this available to Nook and Reader owners as well as to my mom who, "hates all this electronic crap."

Anyway,  I appreciate any purchases, feedback and publicity via twitter and Facebook that you do for this scary step!


Dad on Vacation

My mother wasn’t the only one with her unique traveling identity. My father had this inner tolerance clock on all things uninteresting to him during any given vacation.  

On any normal day, there were certain things my dad would simply not do. He didn’t do anything that required him to be outside for long periods of time...especially in the heat.  This means we didn’t camp, picnic or go to Braves games in the summer.  Which was fine by me...where's the Hyatt?  

This also meant that he didn’t mow the lawn or wash his own car which my husband found fascinating when we first got married.  We might have owned a lawn mower once, but I don't remember.  Mostly this was due to that fact that my father worked 16-hour days, 6 days a week in his dry cleaners for the better part of his childhood and ours so, I for one, feel like he was justified in outsourcing his lawn mowing and so did Johnny Czerwinski, by the way, the kid who got paid handsomely to take care of that chore for us...cuz we all know, I wasn't gonna do it.  

My father also had strict guidelines about restaurants.  He did/does not believe in standing in line for a meal. You go in, you sit down, people bring you stuff...restaurants should be run no other way in his opinion.  I think this rule was a late in life rebellion over the fact that his parents lived at the Picadilly and he used to wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares about being pushed through the tray line so fast that he had to settle for chicken livers and lime jello.  Look, we all have our childhood baggage and my father's meant that he believed meals at restaurants were meant to require as little work as possible on the part of the customer.

These days, my father is a relatively easy person to please.  After years and years of slaving over a hot presser in an even hotter cleaners, his needs boil down to one basic rule...he just wants his rear end to be comfortable.  That's all.  This shows itself in the cars he drives, the chairs he owns, the restaurants he eats at and the vacations he takes.  

On vacation, when we were younger, my father had a little more tolerance to being hot, standing in line and having an uncomfortable place to sit, as he gladly would play dutiful, patient father who seemed happy just to let us have fun.  We never knew how much he actually hated playing in the ocean, riding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and whale watching when there were no whales in sight, but he did have his limits.  

After all, it was his vacation too and he had paid for it. 

I remember one time, while visiting Sea World, we were just finishing petting the Stingrays when I begged to go back and see the dolphin show again.  Unbeknownst to me, my father had just reached his tolerance for fish.  It was, after all, day 4 of being in Orlando, standing in lines in the hot sun and spending more money than budgeted on things like "Minnie Mouse dolls on a stick" and other such souvenirs that we just had to have but would not be able to even find two days after we got home.  

By the way, my father might have actually introduced legislation to do away with those tissue paper flowers on a stick that you could buy at Six Flags.  I'm not saying he did, but he was awfully tired of stepping on broken sticks and pulling wet colored tissue paper off his foot every summer.  

But I'm distracted, back to the fish.

“Look,” he said.  “I don’t want to see that again.” 

I felt like I’d been slapped. Did dad just say, "no?"  Who didn’t like dolphins?

He looked at my mother in desperation  “I want a beer…and a ball game.”

“Wayne.” My mom started.

“At Sea World?” I thought. 

He looked at all three of his girls staring as if he had just said he was leaving us for good. 

“Look, you guys go back to see the dophins again.  That’s fine, but I’m not going.”

We continue to be silent as we tried to process what my dad was saying to us.

“Look, how can I put this?” He was trying to make us understand his level of misery, 

“I have seen dolphins do this…” He made a jumping gesture with his hand as if it were a dolphin jumping out of the water and back down again.

“I have seen whales do this…” Jumping hand motion.

“I have seen seals do this…” Jumping hand motion.

“I’m done. I’m hot, tired, broke and I don’t want to see any more fish do anything. I want a beer and a ball game.  Come find me when you're ready to leave.”  

He started to walk off from his stunned family, but suddenly turned back to add, “Oh, but if a shark eats an employee, come find me because that I would like to see."

We stood there for a good five minutes watching my father walk off into the sunset in search of the only bar in Sea World in 1985, and I'll be darned if he didn't find it.

Things My Mother Said

Lately, I've been catching myself using a variety of phrases to get my son's attention when he is doing something he shouldn't.  Most recently, when Samuel knowingly disobeys, I find myself looking at him and saying in exasperation, "Seriously, Samuel?" or "Really?"  To which he replies, "Sorry I'm fusterating (his pronunciation, not mine) you Mama."

Just last week I was dancing in the kitchen when I looked down to see him, with his hands on his hips, looking at me like I was, well, crazy.  "Really, Mama?  Really?" was the comment I got from this too-smart-for-his-own-good-but-its-what-I-get-for-being-so-gifted-with-sarcasm-myself at that very moment.

Apparently he wasn't into my choreography.  I told him that when' he's 18, he can come up with his own, but while he's under my roof and unemployed...I was the Cheryl Burke of the kitchen.

I realized I sounded like my mother, I sounded like your mother, I sounded like all of the mothers of the world...when did this happen?

It made me think of some of the things my mother would say when I was growing up to get my sister and I back to "right livin'" and even though I pinky swore to my 6th grade BFF that these would never come out of my mouth...I am resigning myself to the fact that they most likely will.

It's just a matter of time.

Here are my mother's top six discipline statements:

1. I didn’t say you had hairy thighs and didn’t love the Lord - My mother used to say this whenever we took her guidance too personally.  It was like, "yes, your behavior sucks, but your thighs are smooth and you do love God so what are you so mad about?"  Don't ask, I don't know where she got this from.  

2. It’s gonna be me and you, but mostly me. - This was always a pre-spanking threat.  It was like, "If you do that one more time..."  

3. To the moon, Alice, and I guarantee it ain’t gonna be in no rocket ship - I'm not going to lie.  I don't know what this one meant.  Perhaps the worst punishment in life is being made to go into space without any special equipment.  Being that kids are so literal, I always wondered...would she catapult me into space?  Would she just throw me with her bionic Inspector Gadget Arms?  Would I have to find my own way?  All I know was that if my sister and I continued to go down the path of disobedience, we were going to the moon...and we weren't going to like it.

4. Do we need to have a prayer meeting? - Gosh, my mother was spiritual.  In the midst of our meltdowns in the ladies department of Rich's, my mother's first thought was to go a nearby dressing room and take our problems to the Lord...unless of course I go ahead and let you know that a "prayer meeting" was code for a spanking.  Looking back though, I'm not exactly sure why it required a code.  In the 80's my other could have bent me over her knee at the intersection where the Big Chicken stands and all the passing drivers would have honked in approval.  Public spankings in the 20th century were the modern day public beheadings that bored families packed a picnic lunch for and waited all day to see.  There was no need to drag God into it.

5. I’m gonna knock you naked (neck-ed) and hide your clothes. - This was my mother's way of saying, "Y'all, it's getting on my nerves. Enough"  When I was little, I wondered how hard you had to hit a person so that their clothes would actually fly of their body.  I assure you that I didn't really want to find out.  Mostly, though, this threat did not really refer to actual hitting or public nudity...again it was simply a scary and colorful way of saying "STOP IT."  

6. I mean, a nun. - The threat of sending me to a convent was usually the result of doing something wrong the first time and the consequence of doing it a 2nd time, I was told, would be dedicating my life to the Catholic Church...as soon as we looked one up in the phone book because we were Southern Baptist and there is no threat equivalent in our church.   Just saying, "you do that one more time and I mean a job setting up the bi-monthly potluck dinners on a table as to give each chicken casserole equal distance from the last" just doesn't have the same ring to it. If we were going to be thugs...the Pope was going to have to deal with us.  

I hope all my peeps born before 1990 can relate to some of these methods.  I am so thankful for a mother who loved me enough to discipline me and keep me on the right road.

I love you Mom!  

Happy Birthday Blender!

Great news.  All of my small kitchen electric appliances (except the toaster 2004-2008), stainless steel silverware, every day dishes, fancy dishes (wherever they are), living room furniture and bath towels all turn 7 today!

It's also another way to say, it's my anniversary!

Seven years ago, Andy and I planned and executed a wedding.  We said our vows, exchanged our rings, kissed our families and left on a jet plane. We went on our honeymoon where we drank wine in the vineyards of Napa and dined on steak several nights in a row. Our wedding was July 18th and by the end of that week, we were certain we had gotten the hang of this marriage thing.

Well, perhaps honeymoons should come at the end of the first year as sort of a reward for not killing each other and not as a way of setting unrealistic expectations in the beginning.

Marriage, after all, is not always wine in a vineyard, so to speak.

We had odd habits that went previously unnoticed.

For instance, I was raised by a father who could not go to bed until the doors and windows were triple checked and all the house keys were accounted for.  Andy called this inherited quirk of mine...well...being neurotic.  He, in turn, felt there were certain questions that I asked that required audible answers and most that only required grunts if any noise at all.

Who am I kidding...he still feels this way.

I look back at our first year and see how far we've come. How much of a learning curve two people raised in different homes had.  We also had many wonderful adventures, laughed a LOT and had a whole bunch of fun.

As we look at year 7, I'm grateful that this man is in the foxhole of life with me. There is no one I would rather have not answer my questions.

Happy Anniversary to my sweet husband.

Also, happy birthday to all of my home goods.


Don't Go a Changing...

So this week has been full to say the least, however, in the midst of the stress and chaos, I got a bit of good news and I'm excited to share it with you.  No, it doesn't cause cravings, overwhelming nausea and lower back pain.

A month ago, I submitted a short story to be considered for publication in a humor anthology. I wrote it, read it, thought I was the funniest person on the planet, submitted it, didn't hear anything, reread it, composed an apology to the editors for submitting such a pathetic attempt at humor, ate some chocolate, deleted email apology draft, got mad at the editors for not realizing my genius, read through all my blog posts, contemplated deleting my blog entirely, wrote a post about bears, strained to hear the groans and eye rolling as people across the world (or the few people who read my blog) read it, reread anthology submission, sank further into depression, had some more chocolate...

Then came July 2.  An email arrived from the editors the morning we were slated to go out of town and the morning after spending a hectic evening in the ER with my mom.  I had foolishly slept in my contacts and my eyes were so dry I literally couldn't read the email.  It was the single most frustrating moment of my life. (I know, "Watch Band of Brothers, Rachel and it will put the I have dry contacts and can't read my emails problem into perspective.")  Finally after much eye-rubbing, forced yawning and squirting contact solution directly into my eyeballs, I saw the word..."Congratulations."  It was glorious and so validating.

So...I am going to be published.

The book I'm going to be a part of is an exciting concept, really.  I can't wait to read it.  It's an anthology of humorous stories about Valentine's Day called, My Funny Valentine.  It will feature several, very funny, writers with their own story/take on Valentine's Day. When I sent the submission, I told the editors it would be great if I could be included, but really I just didn't want them to think the story sucked.  I know, so professional, right?

So that leads me to changes.  With this book coming out in February and my focus moving toward becoming a humor writer, I am changing things 'round here.  I started this blog to capture the moments of my precious son.  I enjoyed having an outlet and I love going back and following the evolution of me as a clueless crying, hormonal mess into a confident mom who still doesn't know what she's doing, but really doesn't care.

The conflict is that I want to bring more traffic to my blog and therefore will be removing some stories and really reading my blog over to remove the personal info.  Right now, I'm not searchable, because I was once and found Sam's picture on some Danish photo database.  Just kind of made me nervous.  I am getting someone to help makeover my blog (contemplating a move to Wordpress, but not sure) and have officially changed the web address to:  www.rachelshumor.com

I have had a tremendous amount of private and public feedback from a lot you who read my blog regularly and it has really helped encourage me and it has challenged me as a humor writer to keep going.  So, THANK YOU!!!! While this opportunity to be a contributing writer to this anthology is not going to put me on par in fame and fortune with the cast of the Jersey Shore, say...It is an amazing resume addition and it has encouraged me to keep on keepin' on.

Favors to ask:
-Keep reading my blog.  I will keep writing in my current genre/style (which includes stories about me an Andy)
-Comment as you can/feel.
-Keep an eye open for the book (I will publicize here)
-If you are on Linkedin and you are familiar with my work as a writer/entertainer with my murder mystery business, Make it a Mystery, I need recommendations!
- Make a note, this blog has had an address change to www.rachelshumor.com

Many thanks!

A Guide to Bear Proofing: One Woman's Fight to Keep the Bears Away

Apparently there are bears in my neighborhood.  BEARS.  Okay, one bear sighting, but I’m pretty sure this was not a selling feature of the community.  All winter long, I listened to coyotes howl in the nearby woods and thought that was the extent of our wildlife…well, and the daddy long legs who spin their webs in corners that can’t be reached, angled in such a way that no broom handle can fit into the corner to kill them.  But Coyotes and Spiders…I can handle that.  I can’t/don’t handle bears.

A bear sighting has made me realize, I’ve got to take some precautions to protect my family.  Being unprepared is no excuse.  We have to bear proof…now. 

I read up on bears immediately.  I wanted to find out their feeding habits, predators, likes, dislikes, Twitter handles…anything I could use against them in the event of a bear invasion. 

Here are the precautions I’ve taken and maybe you should do the same.

The only thing I did know about bear proofing prior to becoming Wikipedia certified on the subject was that you have to keep food away from them.  That means I had to get my food up off the ground…and quickly. 

I know technically you should hang your food up in a tree or from hooks, or buy bear proof containers (which is apparently not a feature of the Lock and Lock), but I thought using the second floor of our house was basically the same thing.  I spent the morning dragging all of our groceries upstairs.  All the cereal, crackers and pasta noodles are now upstairs in my master bathroom.  I put up a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs for good measure (if I can't figure out how to open a baby gate, a bear's not gonna either) and figure that by encasing the food in the shower, there is an extra layer of protection by having the door there.  

I did leave a box of Spanish rice and a can of fat free refried beans in the pantry in the off chance that the bear did come in the house.  Perhaps he would think that was all we had and leave quickly, keying our cars on the way down the driveway for having such lame food. Also, since I don’t like Spanish rice and refried beans I thought this would be better than throwing it away and being wasteful.  It’s the circle of life, people.

After that, I figured it was time to get educated.

Allegedly, bears have no natural predators…except humans.  Their main hunting predators were Native American groups who used their teeth and claws and such for ceremonial dressing.  After a failed attempt at getting my yard declared a national reservation to attract hunting parties and being told I was culturally insensitive I decided to go another route. It wasn’t a great plan anyway because any Native American group agreeing to live in my front yard to scare off bears would have to pack up and move over a few feet to guest parking every time we wanted to back out of the driveway since I live in a townhouse and technically have no front yard.

I thought about an alternative to this plan and learned bears’ other natural predators are other bears.  Not having any real bears on hand, I took one of Sam’s Berenstain Bears books to Kinkos and had bear-sized cardboard cutouts made of the whole Berenstain family and set them up in my driveway. 

I figured that in terms of dominance, a bear family already living there and civilized enough to be wearing clothes and accessories would certainly speak volumes to the other bears in the area.  After all, bears in clothes who are standing in front of a home is an indicator of superiority...or at least that they have a larger line of credit at their disposal. 

These bears obviously have a mortgage and probably a big fat 401k.  The child bears obviously go to a private school…which ain’t cheap and clearly, they’ve won over the neighborhood. Yep, this should speak to the wild bears' feeling of inferiority and send them on their way…maybe down the street to Rita’s where they will drown their bear sorrows in frozen custard and wonder why everyone seems to have more money than they do. 

Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work.  All I can say is that if our home is attacked, I’d like to hear the HOA defend its stance on extravagant and gaudy yard decoration in court.  That is all I’m, legally, allowed to say about that. 

Oh and remember that every animal doesn’t get the same lawn display rights as flamingos, deer and bunnies.  The fight will never be over until a person can display a fake bear in their yard without persecution (and strongly worded letters).

And since the HOA is against large cut-outs of wild animals, I’m guessing they would object to our having a pet Cougar even though I intend to keep it in our fenced-in patio and no one would be the wiser.  Cougars are not predators of bears, but they are competitors.  I think the layered strategy of a Cougar in the backyard and food upstairs in the master bath would be too much work for the bears and force him to move on to other townhomes in the area.  Alas, I was forced to scrap the Cougar idea as well given the red tape involved with wild animal purchases. 

In doing additional research I learned that bears are attracted to people who speak nicely to them and that people should only show aggression in order to dissolve tense bear situations.  In real life, this does not work when dealing with human road rage, however apparently bears are very sensitive and their love language is words of affirmation. 

Since I don’t intend to stand outside and engage any bears in conversation, I’ve decided to find a symbol that let’s the bears know that my household means business.  Sam and I practice scowling from the window upstairs, and I have to say, that my little three year old is intimidating.  We practice hours on end and even though Sam cries the whole time and begs to go watch Super Why, I know he will thank me one day for teaching him this important life skill.

I thought long and hard about what I could use to really communicate that our house is an aggressive one and not welcoming of bears and I think I came up with the greatest solution possible.  I have had all the sod removed from my side yard and in its place an Ultimate Fighting Cage is being built.  This way the bears will know that professional fighters live and train here and they will move on - not wanting to "go there". In my mind, there is nothing more intimidating than messing with an ultimate cage fighter…nothing, that is, except Vin Diesel. 

This led me to get a cut-out of Vin Diesel.  And who, other than bears, doesn’t love Vin Diesel?

Don’t worry, I am being smarter with this one.  I’ve decorated the perimeter of Vin Diesel with red, white and blue streamers and fastened him to the side of the house outside of our master bedroom window.  I did this so that the bears will think they just woke him up and he grabbed his gun and fourth of July streamers and is coming out the window to kick some bear butt.

I preempted the HOA’s sure-to-come strongly worded letter, by reminding them that holiday decorations are allowed and since its close to the 4th of July and Vin Diesel is a national symbol of action movies and he played a character who got killed in a movie about a war for our freedom that it would be UNAMERICAN (yes I all capp-sed that) to request me, a veteran (okay I lied about that) to take it down. 

I made sure that I used the words “emotional distress” in my letter…a lot.

Luckily, the form of legal action that the HOA is choosing, will take a good portion of bear season to organize and round up witnesses and such so for now, Vin Diesel stays. 

All in all, I'm pretty proud of my quickly gained expertise on the subject of bear-proofing.  All it takes is a few extra steps and you too can have the peace of mind that I have in knowing my family will not fall victim to senseless and random bear violence.


Last time, I was a semi-finalist, today I am a finalist.  One day, maybe I'll place!  Click the ribbon to read the award winner.  It's a slightly altered version of "A Victorious Loss".

Go to Bed Mad...Please!

I have a lot of marital advice to give.  I think when you are an expert at something, you should share your expertise…plain and simple.  Give what you can give and what I can give, is remarkable wisdom about a topic that has eluded so many. 

Some advice I’d like to give out about marriage to all my Decent Enough Women includes:

1.) Very early in your marriage, dye his favorite shirt pink…it will save you years of having to do his laundry.  No one is going to divorce you over your lack of laundry skills so set the expectation now that you are incapable of laundering things properly.  In a few years, when he starts to think you’re capable of doing laundry again, wash his favorite belt while still looped into his pants.  It will work like Windex to ants and stop him in his tracks. 

2.) Shave your legs so infrequently, that when you do, he thinks something is up.  You have to keep your man guessing.  He’ll spend hours trying to figure out what you have up your sleeve.

3.) Finally, overall, I recommend just keeping his expectations really low.  He thinks you’re going to cook every night.  Don’t.  Cook every third night.  Sure, it will be rocky at first.  Just like the army, you have to break them down before you can build them back up to your liking. 

It’s so worth it when one night, you turn off The Real Housewives long enough to throw a Stouffer’s lasagna in the oven and cook some Texas toast.  He’ll take you into his arms and declare what a lucky husband he is.  

That’s how you’ll know it’s working.

I think the most valuable advice I can give to all married people out there has to do with amending advice we were given when we got married.  Every married person we spoke with while we were engaged, would pat us on the arm and declare (as if it were easy) that we should not, under any circumstances, go to bed mad. 

“Don’t go to bed mad.” They would say.
“Apologize before bed.” We would hear. 
“Don’t let the sun set on your anger.” A movie I saw, but can’t remember the name of, spoke to me.*

We were totally on board.  We never asked what dreaded thing would happen to us if we dared slip into a slumber while still stewing over a first-year fight, that let’s face it, was going to be over something like a Christmas card picture or the temperature in the apartment.  Perhaps it might have been over someone’s favorite shirt being dyed pink.  Whatever.  The details are not important (to me).  The point is, I was not going to be a statistic…we would go to bed happy, or we would not go to bed at all. 

I had consumed the proverbial Kool-Aid on that topic and since I was a rules follower, we were going to do what we were told. 

So with that information, here is an example of what one of our fights looked like then:

At 2AM EST, we were sitting on opposite ends of the living room, my eyes were red as I wondered who this man was that I married.  His were spinning in a permanent roll, that I wasn’t sure he could stop without some sort of medical intervention as he dreamed of a world without women with emotional outbursts.  Oh, and there was silence…a lot of it. 

The fight had begun five hours earlier over something as important as the thermostat and had now escalated into something much more personal.  We were fooling ourselves into thinking a sentence existed in the universe that could be said that would magically make our anger disappear, our resentment vanish and our dreams about driving our cars in opposite directions until the gas ran out seem silly and ridiculous.  

If only one of us could think of that one blasted sentence. 

One thing was certain, we were not going to bed until someone thought of that sentence.  The great sentence of compromisation (again, no it’s not a word) that would make us forgive each other, and we could go to bed “knowing” we “did it right” and oh how the well-meaning people before me would be so proud of us. 

We mumbled apologies of some type, eventually and went to bed.  

The next morning, we were still mad and now sleep deprived and somehow the apologies we forced ourselves to make meant nothing because we made them so we could get some sleep. 

A year into our marriage, we decided that this bit of wisdom wasn’t working for us. 

Let me give you an in-depth mathematical and scientific analysis of why this didn’t work, see below:

1. Mad People + Sleep Deprivation (divided by) Dumb Argument = Saying More Stupid Stuff

2. Saying More Stupid Stuff + 2AM EST = This Fight Will Last A Month

So we gave our fights a “Go To Bed Mad Makeover”.  Here is the mathematical explanation for this:

1. Dumb Argument + Going to Bed Mad = Avoidance of Saying Stupid Stuff at 2AM EST

2. Avoidance of Saying Stupid Stuff at 2AM EST + Sleep = Don’t Care About Dumb Argument Anymore


3. Don’t Care About Dumb Argument Anymore = Someone Buys Chicken Biscuits for Breakfast.

Sometimes people say, "you never know…one of you might not wake up in the morning and you don't want to have gone to bed mad." First of all, yes you will wake up the next morning.  Second of all, yes you will wake up the next morning. Thirdly, why are these people not waking up?  Who did this first happen to that has made it a 'thing' to say to young engaged people?  And, why do they tell this to newlyweds who are statistically not likely to die in their sleep?  Maybe they are being abducted by aliens...and if one of us was abducted by aliens after going to bed mad, I guarantee neither one of us is still thinking about the thermostat.  

And finally, when you take the following into consideration as it relates to importance, it just brings it home:

4. Potential for Chicken Biscuits > (is greater than) Risk of One of You Not Being There in the Morning Because You Were Abducted by Aliens

I don’t really think you can argue with science and math…or chicken biscuits.