Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Fish that Got Away

I'm not the type of parent who micro-manages.  I know too many parents who are constantly in their childrens' faces, managing every second of their day, obsessing about their appearance, and making every decision their child needs to make.  I take more of a laid-back approach, allowing my children to make choices - sometimes the wrong ones - so they can learn and grow.

The same is true for projects.  With three children, one in his senior year, I've seen my fair share of projects.  I don't micro-manage school projects either.  I'll help with ideas, buy supplies, help with research, if asked, but I don't take over the project and the ultimate product - good or bad - is up to the child.  I can't tell you how many times I have seen other children's projects - especially for science fairs - where it is 100% obvious that the parent did most, if not all of the work.  That annoys me to no end!

So now take everything I've said above and apply it to projects that involve artwork and twist it inside out and backwards and throw it in the trash.

I LOVE ART PROJECTS.  Unfortunately my children did not inherit that gene.

A few weeks ago, The Crazy Clown brought home an art project where he had to research the history of mandalas.  He had to come up with a theme for a mandala, look at examples, plan and draw a mandala, color it, write an essay about it, and present it to the class.

As soon as I saw the paperwork, I immediately got out my mandala drawing book because I have one and I am a geek like that.  Long story short:

Instead of "helping" my child, I became a complete control freak, monster parent who obsessed over the project and did the ENTIRE thing. (He chose the fish/ocean theme). 

The Crazy Clown: "Wow, Mom.  That is freaking awesome!
It's so awesome that if I turn it in, I will definitely get a F.
  My teacher knows I could never do anything like that!"
So yeah.  NO restraint when it comes to art projects.

The Crazy Clown ended up creating his own mandala.  He traced a dinner plate for the outside circle and traced a coffee mug for the inner circle.  The mug handle made the circle warped, but apparently that was ok with him.  He used a crappy blue Crayola marker to color some water and used an orange marker to make dots to represent fish.  I pretty much kicked his ass in mandala drawing.

Since you're begging, I'll post one more picture of my beautiful artwork, but then I have to go get started on the clay pot for the Ancient Islamic Artwork project.  It's due on Friday and I'm running out of time!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Can you get herpes at the grocery store?

This is the white board I keep on the side of the fridge.  When someone in our family needs something, they write it on the board.

Score: paper towels: 3, jelly: 3, glass cleaner: 2, herpes: 1

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I have Cinematic Dyslexia

I'll confess.  I'm not even sure if Cinematic Dyslexia exists, but it totally should because I have it.

Last night I told my husband I wanted to watch a movie, but I couldn't remember a single detail about it.  "I can't remember the name of the movie or who is in it, but the cover has a picture of a boy on the front".  He had no idea what I meant.  He sucks.  

I often describe movies like this, "We should watch that funny movie we watched that one time that had that guy from the doctor show and that girl that you saw at Harvard once and it's about weird people in New York."   

I also completely confuse names of actors and actresses.  "We should watch that movie with Will Farrell and Jennifer Aniston.  I think it was called Spotless Sunshine". 

I often confuse two actors on a consistent basis.  Morgan Freeman was awesome in Jurassic Park.  Samuel L Jackson is the voice of God in all those Will Farrell movies.  One of them is in the Die Hard movies, but I have no clue which one. The other guy in the Die Hard movies was really awesome in Sixth Sense, but I didn't like him in Cheers.

And sometimes I'm really amazed at the connections I make.  We were watching that movie where that really tall guy who sings funny songs and plays with puppets was in Hawaii trying to get his girlfriend back and that girl who worked at the hotel had the exact same voice as the girl from Family Guy! And I seriously can't even give you a IMDB link for that movie.  I'm sure the movie is called "Saving Sarah Marshall" and the only thing coming up is "Saving Silverman".  I've never seen that movie, but I do see that Jack Black is in it.  I'm not a fan of his, but I did like his version of Gulliver's Travels with that girl who was in that tv show about a tv studio.  She was also a dental hygenist con artist in that movie with the guy from Friends and the guy from the Die Hard movies. So hey - Six Degrees of Separation with the paragraph above.  Yeah, me!

My husband was watching that Fox show where the entire season is 24 hours long and I couldn't believe how much that guy looked like the guy in the original MASH movie.  Turns out they're father and son!  Yeah me, again!

I also can't watch certain movies because I fixate on something about the actor.  I've tried to watch Lord of the Rings a million times, but I fixate on that short, pudgy dude.  I know he is the son of Patty Duke and every time I see him my mind plays this on a continuous loop:
"Yes, they're cousins, identical cousins and you'll find...They laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike..."
And then I get angry because Patty and Kathy didn't walk or talk alike and anyone who thought they did, obviously was not paying attention!

Then I remind myself that I'm watching Lord of the Rings and I should pay attention to the movie, but then I think about Gandolf and he reminds me of Gargamel from the Smurfs and I wonder what ever happened to all those little rubbery Smurf figurines I had when I was a child.  My brother used a Sharpie to color Smurfette's bra-top red and I was soooo mad at him!

Then I remind myself that I'm watching Lord of the Rings and I should pay attention to the movie.  When the short, pudgy dude comes on the screen again, I wonder how he can be so short and pudgy.  I know Patty Duke used to be married to John Astin and I think that John Astin is the short, pudgy dude's father.  How the hell can he be so short and pudgy when Herman Munster was so tall?

So I think they need to develop a test for Cinematic Dyslexia.  I should call Conan O'Brien and see if he will do a segment on it.  CNN often does health-related stories and they could put it on his 360 degrees show.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Toto, Pteradactyl Cats, Tomato Salsa, and Jason

Last week I had a brilliant idea.  I recently bought this new kick-ass Ninja blender and while the thing is awesome for making smoothies, I wanted to try making something new.  Let me just say that I LOVE fresh cilantro.  I could eat it by handful.  But sometimes it needs to be mixed with something.....enter the SALSA.

When we were ordering groceries the other day, I carefully researched salsa recipes online and added the following items to my online shopping cart:
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Limes
  • Red onion
  • Fresh jalapenos
  • Fresh serrano peppers
  • Fresh garlic
Sounds good, right?  Right!

This is totally NOT what my salsa looked like.

So while I had all the necessary ingredients, I didn't really think through my idea.  I chopped the onion in half and threw it in, threw in a whole clove of garlic and all the other fresh ingredients.....including the tomatoes.

I pressed the button on my Ninja and within seconds everything had turned into SALSA BABY FOOD!  Yeah.  I realize now that I should have chopped the tomatoes by hand.  They were complete mush.

So today I had a second chance.  I recently met a neighbor at bus stop.  Our sons ride the middle school bus together.  Jason, the father, talks about his garden a lot and first he asked me if I'd like to come to his house and see his cucumbers, (Yeah, it's not what you think....) then he asked me if I'd like some of his cucumbers (still not what you think...)

Yesterday he arrived at our house unannounced. During the work day.  While THE LION TAMER and I were working.....  He brought a bag of fresh produce from his garden.  He apologized for not having any cucumbers, but he did have fresh Roma tomatoes, fresh jalapenos, and fresh serrano peppers.

So while I was making small talk and being polite, all I could think about was SALSA.  I knew I still had onions and cilantro in the fridge, but I also knew the clock was on countdown. I had a work conference call in 30 minutes.  Would I have enough time to chop everything and get it in the fridge before the call?

I made small talk for a few more minutes and then thanked him again for the wonderful produce. I slowly started to walk toward the doorway.  Instead of following,  he proceeded to tell me about the different strains of green peppers and which ones thrive in certain soil conditions and temperatures.

I decided to be a little more direct.  I apologized and told him I had a conference call in 25 minutes.  That's when he sat down in the middle of my kitchen floor and said that my black pug dog looked a lot like Toto.  Then he cackled like a witch and said "I'm going to get you my little Pretty!"  In my dog's face.  And then he did it again.

Not to be ignored, my fawn pug went over and pawed at Jason's leg.  She wanted attention too!  Jason ignored her and cackled at the black pug again.  The fawn pug pawed again.  Jason told her that he refuses to acknowledge negative behavior.  He cackled at the black pug one last time and then turned to the fawn pug and whispered in ear ear.  I didn't really get what he was doing until he turned to me and told me that he's watched every single episode of The Dog Whisperer.

And then I was smacked in the face.  No, not by Jason.  He was incredibly sweet and harmless.  I was smacked in the face by my own lack of observation and the realization that Jason has Aspergers.

 Here I am - the mother of a child who has Aspergers, the wife of a man who *sometimes* admits he has Aspergers - and I was being a judgmental, impatient ass.

At that point, I said "to hell with the conference call".  Seriously, I said it out loud.  No one heard me though.  My husband had come in the room and he and Jason were debating the theory that cats evolved from dinosaurs - specifically Pteradactyls.  They also talked about gene mutation and virus evolution and antibiotic resistance and encephalitis and strep strains and the version of syphilis that has no cure.

For Jason

Today I finally had time to make the salsa.  And the tomatoes didn't turn to mush.  I put the large bowl in the fridge so the spices can blend together.  Tomorrow I'm going to take it to Jason's house.  He wants me to meet his wife.  I want to see if we have anything in common.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Food Producer/Packaging People are Assholes

Dear Food Producer/Packaging People -

I am writing to tell you that you suck.

Tonight I decided to make my family a special treat in my new, kick-ass Ninja Prep Professional Blender.   While my husband and I fondly remember Orange Creamsicles from our childhood, my children have never tasted them.  I was positive that there MUST be a way to replicate this smooth, tart, orange, creamy goodness in a healthy smoothie drink format, so I devised a recipe with the following ingredients:
  • frozen orange juice concentrate (100% juice)
  • milk
  • vanilla whey protein powder
  • stevia
  • ice cubes
  • liquid vanilla flavoring
This looks yummy, right?

So I put all the ingredients into my kick-ass Ninja blender and the result was absolutely HORRIFIC 

*I* simply grabbed the liquid vanilla flavoring from my spice cabinet and poured a smidge (or two or three...) into the blender.

One of these things is not like the other.

Is it MY fault that two almost identically-shaped clear bottles with brown liquid were side-by-side in the cabinet with their labels facing backward?  Hardly not! 

*You* failed to label BOTH sides of the containers.

And now, because you couldn't spend that extra $.20 to label both sides, my children will basically be traumatized for life and will probably never, ever taste an Orange Creamsicle smoothie.  Way to go, assholes!

Yeah, I did.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What should I be when I grow up?

When I started college, my major was Speech Pathology, but I didn't like that and I switched to Psychology.  But I had a habit of taking courses that weren't actually on my career track.  If it was new and interesting, I had to take it. Entomology - fun!  Psychology of Death & Dying - fascinating! The Study of Women's Sexuality - interesting!  The English Bible as Literature - what the hell was I thinking?

After six years in college (yes, six) my adviser told me I was never going to get a degree unless I followed a certain track. So while I no longer had any interest in psychology, I followed his advice and ended up with a BA in Psychology with a minor in English.  And no career goals.

I went through a series of jobs then - cashier, cashier, cashier, and annoying person who calls you and tries to convince you to do a phone survey.  And then the job after that was mommyhoood.  I don't think my salary was market value there.

Then this really neat thing called "the internet" appeared. And I was determined to be a part of it.  I bought an HTML book and a copy of Front Page and I was off!  I learned, coded, learned, coded, and learned some more. And then I started building websites for friends.  And then for businesses.  And I added flashy graphics that were cool and blinky.  (It was 1996, people!)  I designed websites for about two years and I was a damn good designer, I just had a really hard time with the business end - I always volunteered to do things for free!

Then I decided I wanted to work with people, not computers.  And I decided to go back to school and get my certification in hypnotherapy.  Yes......you are getting veeeeery sleeeeepy!  I found a great instructor who took me under her wing and taught me so much!  She shared everything she knew with me, sent me to conferences, shared her research with me, let me work with her clients, and really trained me well.  So I decided to open my own private practice.  And that went really well, except for the business part.  I always volunteered to do therapy for free!

Then I decided that the thing I really liked the most about hypnotherapy was writing scripts for different psychological and physical conditions.  So I wrote over 50 different scripts and asked my instructor to read them and give me feedback.  She was more than happy to do so because we were so tight.  And then she stole them all and published them as a book.

Then I realized that my passion was really in writing, so I went back to school and took writing classes - fiction, children's literature, copywriting, technical writing - lots and lots of writing.

And then I landed a job with an educational publishing house and I wrote educational children's stories and copy-edited books and collected submissions for anthologies.  Then one day I pointed out a typo on their website.  And then another.  And another.  And then they asked me to fix them.  And then they asked me to make a page look better.  Then they asked me to redesign the whole site.  And I did.  And then the publishing company went under.

And then it was 1999 and it was the big .com boom.  And when I put my resume online, people called me and offered me outrageous amounts of money and big signing bonuses.  And I accepted a technical project manager job with a start-up company that created websites for child care centers and pediatricians.  And I loved the people I worked with and I loved all the venture capital money we wasted on $150 bar stools for the break room and $80 bottles of designer perfumes for in the women's bathroom.  When I started there, I was a technical project manger - responsible for scheduling, etc.  But in a start-up, you roll up your sleeves and do what is need to be done even if it isn't part of your job.  So that's what I did.  And during my time there, I wore many hats. And as the company grew and reorganized, I had many job titles.

I quickly moved away from just project management and was involved in many hands-on roles: I performed QA and reported bugs, I designed pages, I did UI testing with focus groups, I wrote requirements docs for new products, I wrote functional specifications, I wrote web copy, I managed teams, I copy-edited, I answered customer support calls, I researched competitors, I studied the market, I approved marketing materials, I coded new pages, I ordered pizza, and I cried when the company suffered the .com fate and went under.

Then I became a teacher.  To my own children.  I learned all about educational concepts and learning styles and teaching styles and curriculum and I researched and I learned and I made lesson plans and I homeschooled my children.  For many years.  And I did it for free.

Then we moved to another state and I did some online jobs in writing and web design, but I was lonely and didn't know anyone so I decided to get a job outside the house.  And I started working as a technical writer for a social science research firm.  And I read 200 and 300-page social science research final reports for government contracts with the US Dept of Education and The EPA and The DCD and The Dept of Homeland Security and if I tell you anything more, I would have to kill you, and I summarized the reports into 300 word marketing briefs for on the company website.  And I started pointing out bugs on the site and ways things could be enhanced and I started doing QA's job for them and then they asked me to fix their site and I did and I made it better and they loved me.  And then they asked me to redesign the corporate intranet and I did.  And while I was there, they asked me to post a job opening on Craigslist and while I was on Craigslist, I saw a post from a man who was looking for homeschool bloggers.  And I responded to him.

And he emailed me back a rambling 10 pages of blogging ideas with absolutely no cohesive thoughts and I wrote back and told him he needed a copy-editor and he hired me and I worked for him for the next 4 years.  I started copyediting his work and gave him ideas and he asked me to take a look at his new website and I told him it sucked.  He asked me to interview web development companies with him and I ended up managing the development team and hiring writers and managing a team of 30 people as the Director of Operations.  And he took me under his wing and taught me all about business development and business plans and goals and marketing and metrics and SEO and affiliate advertising.   And when he asked me if I knew how to do something, I said no, but I will learn how.  And I did.  And I researched and read and watched videos and taught myself.  And I managed people and consulted with experts and designed blogs and researched social media practices and performed QA and created web tours and coded new sites and coded new blogs and learned more about online elementary education and guest starred on radio shows.  And then he got a new job and was running out of money and asked his friend if she was interested in hiring me.

And she said yes.  And she asked me to do research for her.  And I offered ideas and suggestions and offered more help.  And she took me under her wing and taught me all about the wholesale trade industry and ecommerce.  And I designed a wholesale website and helped maintain an ecommerce site and wrote marketing copy and planned campaigns and did social media.  And I researched best practices and implemented them.  And then I decided to take more classes and learned graphic design principles and brushed up on my html skills and learned Illustrator and learned InDesign and learned how to use Photoshop to fake people into thinking I'm not colorblind and I can see colors.

And she sent me to ecommerce conferences and taught me all about email marketing and list management and segmentation and campaign planning.  And I designed a million and one emails.  And then the company changed focus and my role was more on the business development side and I worked with some large companies that sell lots of things.  And then I decided that I make a horrible salesperson because I always give my own time away for free and I paid sticker price for a used car I bought once because I didn't want to negotiate with the salesperson.  And I said I was done with business development and sales and I can only design weekly emails.

And now it's today.  And I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  

And when I try to figure it out, my brain hurts.   And it refuses to turn off when the work day is done.  And I get mad when people are excited because the weekend is here because my brain is still working - thinking of ideas, finding improvements, planning for the next phase, making recommendations, figuring out issues.  And my brain never stops.

And right now, I think the ideal job is to pack boxes onto a UPS truck.  Because it doesn't require a lot of thinking.  But I know I would eventually tell them what is wrong with their system and offer suggestions and make improvements and then they'd ask me to manage something and re-design something and implement new policies and I'd be back where I started.

So if you've made it this far, please tell me.  What should I be when I grow up?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Best Birthday Gift Ever!

Last week I celebrated my 22nd birthday (seriously, shut up).  On the day of my birthday, THE CRAZY CLOWN and THE FLYING MONKEY decided they wanted to walk to the local pharmacy and buy me a gift.

As they were preparing to go to the store, they started asking me all sorts of questions about what I wanted for my birthday, what kinds of things I like, my favorite color, etc.  They were very excited about buying something for me.  Knowing that their options were limited at the pharmacy, I gave them a not-so-subtle hint that I could really use some sort of container to hold my pens and pencils on my desk.  I figured this would give them many options - school supply box, pencil pouch, coffee mug - even a small flower pot would work.

And here is my beautiful gift:

They said they couldn't find anything special enough for me, so they decided to make something on their own.

They bought a bottle of Smart Water to use as the container.  Apparently they planned to drink the water on the way home, but THE FLYING MONKEY was complaining that he was hot and THE CRAZY CLOWN decided that dumping the entire bottle of water on THE (unsuspecting) FLYING MONKEY in the store parking lot would cool him down.  I'm told that this entertained the other store patrons, so there are definitely some bonus points there.

Then they came home and decorated the water bottle, using something that represented each member of the family:

  • Limited Edition My Little Pony figure - THE FLYING MONKEY is a closet Brony.  I was  completely touched that he sacrificed his favorite figure for me. (note: he has since told me that I need to give it back in a week...)
  • 3 packets of Splenda - THE CRAZY CLOWN has discovered that he loves Splenda.  On everything.  He even put 2 packets on the peanut butter on top of his turkey avocado bacon sub the other day.
  • A piece of cardboard - They wanted a piece of cardboard to represent the cardboard boxes that our kitten, THE LION CUB, loves to play in.  We had just taken the recycling out and didn't have any spare boxes, so they decided the best thing to do was to cut a piece from the box where I keep our family photos.... seriously.
  • A penny - THE LION TAMER gave them a penny earlier in the day and told them to "invest it wisely".  Apparently *I* am a wise investment :)
  • Black electrical tape - They went into THE RINGMASTER'S room, but they were afraid to go in too far - or to touch anything.  So they grabbed the first thing they saw.  They admit they're aren't even sure if THE RINGMASTER likes black electrical tape, but it was in close enough range for them to grab it and run.
  • A Milk Bone dog treat - They tried to tape a dog treat on the gift to represent THE BEARDED LADY and THE HUMAN PIG, our pug dogs, but they had to take it off because the dogs kept trying to eat my gift.
 Best birthday gift ever!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

I am a HERO

--well, at least I'm a hero in my own mind--

When I was a child, I was considered "shy", painfully shy. It wasn't that I was afraid to talk to people.  And it wasn't that I didn't have anything to say.  Believe me, I had plenty to say!  It's just that I was worried that if I said what was truly on my mind, I'd end up in some sort of group home.

What?  Well...yeah....  I've always had these weird thoughts and ideas in my head that I never express out loud. (Btw, the voices stopped when I hit puberty. Apparently I traded the voices for the monthly curse. I'd really like the voices back, please.)

When I went to college, I began experimenting with expressing some of the weird thoughts I had.  I became known as "the quirky girl" and landed a spot in a sorority.  Go figure.

I also have this thing where I act out certain situations in my head.  Daydreaming?  Call it what you will, but I always end up being the hero.

Weird, I know.  Psychologists would have a field day with me.  But I've rescued people from burning buildings, stopped run-away strollers from plunging into oncoming traffic, reunited dogs with their owners, helped deliver babies - you name it.  I'm a hero.  At least in my own mind...

It even happened this morning.  I was taking a bag out to the curb because today is trash pick-up day.  As I was rounding the corner, I saw this guy who visits us every Monday.  He rides an old 10-speed bike with his clothing and personal possessions hanging from Walmart bags on the handlebars.  He visits all the recycling bins and takes the deposit-worthy cans and bottles and returns them for 5 cents each.

When I saw the guy at our bins, I waited and hid behind the corner of the house and watched him.  I expected him to grab some cans and continue on to the neighbor's bin, but instead I watched as he opened one of our trash bags and fished out an old piece of pizza.  And took a bite.

And then I became a HERO....

I ran forward and said, "NO!  Wait!  I have some fresh pizza in the house.  We just ordered it last night.  Now, I'm not sure if you like Brazillian pizza - I don't because they put this gooey white cheese on it that looks and tastes like cream cheese but they insist on calling it something I can't pronounce and they put hard-boiled eggs on absolutely everything and I'm deathly allergic to egg whites, and oh my.....Next time you go through the trash, please be careful sir, because I threw away an epi-pen not too long ago and I sometimes have to test my blood sugar because...well, I'm old and borderline diabetic and I totally wouldn't want you to get pricked by a needle."

And then I went in the house and got the homeless man some fresh pizza and he didn't get salmonella or botulism or intestinal parasites or anything.  And I was a hero.

The pizza I gave the homeless man.  Except ours didn't have onions.  And it had green olives instead of black.  And it had five pieces missing.  And it was in a cardboard box and not on a wood board.  Otherwise, exactly the same.

But really, I just stood there and watched him eat and when he looked up at me, I bent over and pretended to tie my shoe, but I wasn't wearing any shoes and I should probably schedule an appointment to get a tetanus shot since I'm walking on a porch with rusty nails holding together boards from 1915.

And then I said a prayer that the homeless man won't get salmonella, botulism, or intestinal parasites or anything bad and I swore to myself that I would start putting left-over food into goodie bags so it won't be contaminated by other trash.  The End.

P.S. If you all promise not to band together and commit me, I'll share more of my hero stories in the future.  The time where I stopped a man from putting poison in a girl's Dunkin while she was getting money from the atm is a classic that you won't want to miss.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tom from Home Security

<ringing phone>

Me:  Hello?

Phone:  Good morning!  This is Tom from Home Security.  How are you today?

Me:  Hi Tom. I’m fine, thanks for asking.

Tom:  That’s great to hear.  I was calling to see if you’re aware that the number of home burglaries in your area has increased by 7% in the last year.

Me:  Actually, I was aware of that.  I just read about it in our local newspaper.  I also read that our teacher’s union just submitted a vote of no confidence for our superintendent.  Were you aware of that?


Tom:  Uhm.....no.  I wasn’t aware of that.

Me:  Well, you should be, Tom.  I mean, this is pretty serious.

Tom:  Right, I agree.....  Actually, I was calling today to let you know that we’re offering a 20% discount on home security systems for homeowners in your area.

Me:  I thought you were calling to let me know about the increase in burglaries in my area?

Tom:  Right, well....that too.  It’s why we’re offering a discount on our home protection services.  

Me:   Is this the part where you tell me I can buy a home protection system for 52 monthly payments of only $39.99 and then I find out all you really sold me was a sticker that says “this home is protected by....” to put in my window?


Tom:  Oh, definitely not, Mam.  I think you will find that our system is quite reasonably priced and we offer a full home protection security system.

Me:  But do you have a sticker?

Tom:  I’d have to check with my supervisor on that, but if you bought one of our systems, I’m sure we could make a sticker for you.

Me:  I just want the sticker.  How much is that?

Tom:  I’m sorry Mam, but we don’t offer a package that only includes the sticker.

Me:  Well, do you know where I can buy a sticker?  I already checked Walmart and....well, let’s just say that it ended with me meeting the Walmart security team and they didn’t
want to talk about stickers...

Tom:  Oh.  Uhm....I’m sorry to hear that.  I’m afraid I don’t know where you can buy a sticker....

Me:  Tom, are you suggesting that I steal a sticker from a neighbor’s house?  I thought you were in the home protection business?

Tom:  Uhh...I am, Mam and I was definitely not suggesting that.

Tom from Home Security.  -- or at least this is what he looks like in *my* mind.  I had to go with this one.  The other version was an old guy sitting at home in his coffee-stained wife-beater, trimming his nose hair while cold-calling people and frightening them into buying home protection systems.  I know you didn't want a visual of that.  You're welcome.

Tom:  Let me ask you another question.  Do you feel safe in your own home?

Me:  No.

Tom:  And wouldn’t it feel nice to know that you’re protected in your own home?

Me:    Oh, yes.  That would feel wonderful.

Tom:  With our home protection system, you would have peace of mind knowing that you are safe and secure in your own home and no one can get in without your permission.

Me:  Getting in isn’t the problem.  They’re already here.

Tom:  I’m sorry?  Is there already an intruder in your home?

Me:  I guess that depends on how you define “intruder”.

Tom:  Uhhhmm....are there people in your home that you don’t want to be there?

Me:  Oh yes.  Definitely.

Tom: <panicky voice>  Have you alerted the authorities about this?  <more panicky voice>  Do you need me to call someone and report this?

Me:  I’ve already tried. The police won’t do anything.


Tom:   I’m not sure I understand.  There are intruders in your home and the police will not help you?

Me:  No, I didn’t say they were intruders.  I said they were people in my home that I don’t want here.

Tom:  <sigh>  So is this like a domestic issue?  Like an issue with a spouse or something?

Me:  No, definitely not.  I like my husband.  Well, not so much today because he ate a can of Chef Boyardee and put the can in the trash instead of the recycling and I told him I didn’t like him because he doesn’t like our planet.  And he was all “Yeah, but the recycling bin smells bad” and I was all “Well, that’s because you need to RINSE the cans before you put them in the bin.”  

Do  you rinse your cans, Tom?

Tom:  Uhh...yes.  I do.

Me:  Good, because smelly cans are the worst.

Tom:  I agree...  So back to the unwelcome people in your home....Have you called anyone else to help you?

Me:  Yes, I called TAPS, but they put me on a waiting list.

Tom:  TAPS?

Me:  I guess you don’t watch Scfy?

Tom:  Scfy like the tv station????

Me:  Yeah, I was pretty pissed when they changed the name too.  I mean, SciFi was totally fine.  But they had to go and be all cool and add that Y in there to make it look all technical and be like “Oh, look at us!  We have a Y in our name so we must be all hip and everything.”

Tom:  So you called a tv station?

Me:  No, Tom.  That would be silly!  I called the guys from TAPS on the tv station.  You know, the TAPs Ghosthunters?

Tom:  Wait a minute.....are you telling me the intruders in your home are ghosts?

Me:  No, Tom, we’ve been over this before.  Were you not listening?  I said they’re NOT intruders.  I mean really, they’ve been in my house for centuries.  I guess you could technically say that I’m the intruder.  They were here first.

Tom:  Is this a joke?

Me:  Why would I joke about something like this?  So are you going to help me out or what?

Tom:  I’m afraid to say we don’t deal with ghosts.

Me:  Actually, they prefer to be called ‘entities’ or ‘spirits’.  The whole ‘ghost’ thing went out with Casper.

Tom:  Ok.....I’m afraid we don’t deal with ‘entities’ or ‘spirits’.

Me:  Bummer!  Ok.  I guess I’ll have to wait for TAPS to get back to me then.  

Tom:  Right, uhhh.. good luck with that.

Me:  Thanks.  So are you still going to send me a sticker?


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

One Man's Trash....

Every Monday, THE FLYING MONKEY and I leave a little early for school. I tell him it's because traffic is heavier on Mondays.  But really, it's because Monday is trash day.  And on trash day people put all sorts of treasures out in their yards. 

This week, I found this nice piece of furniture.....or at least it was nice until I got ahold of it....

 I *believe* this is an antique china cabinet, but I may be mistaken.  I drove past it at least six times and then decided to run some errands and come back to see if it was still there.  It was.  Fate.

Part of my reason for driving past so many times was because I wasn't sure if it would fit in my vehicle.  I drive a Honda CRV.  They're not known for excess cargo room.  The other reason was because I didn't want other parents see me loading someone else's trash into my car.  I DO have an image to uphold, you know?

So when I got back to pick it up, I did my standard procedure to make sure it would fit in the back of my car.  I stood next to it.  You see, I know that if I flatten the back seats in my CRV, I have exactly 62 inches in length available for cargo.  And I just happen to be 62 inches tall.  So anything that is taller than me won't fit.  Brilliant, huh?

As I was performing my scientific measurement, the owner of the house came outside and offered to help me put it in my car.  I asked him if the piece of furniture was taller than me.  He thought I was odd.  I told him I didn't think it would fit.  He said we'd make it fit.

I asked him if it was an antique.  He told me his mother bought it when he was a child and then asked if I thought he was an antique.  I almost said "YES", but instead I spilled my Starbucks all over his driveway.

So we made it fit.  It's 64 inches tall.  I've measure it since then.  With a ruler.  We had to move the driver and passenger seats forward.  We had to push it in.  Hard.  But we got the tailgate/hatch closed on my car.  I was happy.

Happy until I heard a gigantic C-R-A-C-K as I was driving the 2.2 miles home.  The glass in the door shattered as I was driving.

I probably deserve an award for not thinking things through:
  • The cabinet should have had some sort of padding around it.  
  • I probably should have taken out the removable shelves. 
  • I should have thought about how I was going to get the furniture OUT of the car, by myself.  You see, I was home alone that day and I had to return to the school to pick up THE FLYING MONKEY at 3pm.  And there was nowhere for him to sit.  And there was glass all through my car.
I thought about knocking on a neighbor's door and introducing myself and then asking for them to help me.  Nice and neighborly.  I eyed up the UPS man when he came to deliver a package.  No, probably not a good idea.

Then the school called to tell me THE CRAZY CLOWN was sick and I needed to come get him.  And bring a vomit bucket, because I may need it.  Great.  For one quick second I thought about having him ride atop the cabinet so he could vomit into it if needed.  But then I realized he's too tall and there wouldn't be enough headroom.

So I did what any insane person would do.  I backed up car up onto the sidewalk (totally illegal) and pulled this monstrously heavy piece of furniture out of the car BY MYSELF.  And left it on the porch.  In the rain.  With the FREE sign still attached.  As I was driving to get THE CRAZY CLOWN (with vomit bucket in tow), I had an insane moment of panic when I worried that someone might drive past my house and see the FREE sign and take my beautiful piece.  Then I laughed.

When I got back home, I realized why you shouldn't shove an antique piece of furniture that is 64" long into a 62" space.  It cracks the wood.  Like the whole back piece of the thing.  Cracked.  Broken.  

The furniture sat on the porch in the rain for a little over 24 hours.  I couldn't get any of the MANLY MEN that I live with to help me get it inside and my back was already hurting from lugging it out of the car.  I finally bribed them with Dairy Queen Blizzards and my piece is in the house.

But now the glass is missing.  And the back is cracked.  And it has water damage.  And last night I was removing the shelves and got the top one wedged in at a weird angle and it won't budge.  I'm thinking of pouring melted butter on it.

I had grand dreams for this piece of furniture.  I've refinished antiques before, quite successfully I might add.  Strip, sand, prime, paint, decorate.  I planned to use it as an accent piece.  I was thinking of painting it a bright color and covering the shelves or backboard with a coordinating wallpaper, then replacing the pulls and handles with shiny new ones.

Or I may just move the piece back to my front porch and hang a FREE sign on it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I should be banned from buying curtains

20 second update:
  • I'm a blog slacker, but I have a good excuse.
  • We moved into a very old mansion.
  • I'm 99% sure it's haunted, but that's a story for another day.
  • We're in the process of fixing the place up - it needs a lot of TLC.
So this old house has TONS of windows...and no curtains, of course.  I took all the window measurements before we moved in, thinking I'd run to the store and pick up some curtains.  HA!  As I said, the house has tons of windows - and that means tons of curtains.  And of course the curtains need to match and of course none of the stores seem to stock more than 4 panels of any particular style.  On top of that, every single window in the house is a different size.  I kid you not.  One bedroom has four windows with lengths of 55, 63, 65, and 68 inches.  Ugh.

Also,  I'm color-challenged and I have no sense of style.

I've been kind of overwhelmed at the thought of buying all these curtains, so in the meantime, we've thumbtacked pretty much every bit of fabric we have over the windows in order to have a little privacy - fabric shower curtains, fabric tablecloths, wall tapestries, and even bedsheets.  I'd show you a picture, but it's pretty darn embarrassing.

This weekend, I decided to tackle one room at a time.  I figured I'd start with the kitchen first, as I spend a lot of time there (ironic, considering the fact that I rarely cook...) and I'd like it to feel "homey".  And like all things, I've been obsessing a bit - searching millions of websites for the perfect curtains.  Note: for some reason, I've been obsessing about black mold too.  There's no sign of it, but given the age of the house, I'm convinced it's here. I actually had a dream last night that these gigantic spots of black mold kept appearing on the bedroom walls.  We'd wash them off, then return to the room and what did we see again?  More black spots.  I also had a dream about a Dalmation.

THE LION TAMER also requested I start with the kitchen. "I'd like to be able to walk through the kitchen naked without scaring the neighbors.  I mean, it's not like I usually walk through the kitchen naked, but I'd like to keep my options open."

So here's a "before" picture of the kitchen.  I've been reading a lot of DIY home improvement, crafty type blogs.  And this is what these people do.  They show you a "before" picture so you can Ohhhh and Ahhhh over the "after" picture.  Yeah, don't get your hopes up.

This is what I call the "nook area" of the kitchen.  One large wide window, and one long narrow window.  Yeah, there are two other windows in the kitchen too - above the sink and over a countertop, but you know....baby steps.  I figured I'd start with these first and then buy matching things for the other windows later.

Let me just say right now that I HATE KITCHEN CURTAINS.  Seriously.  Everything looks like it should hang in my grandmother's kitchen.  Gee, which one should I buy???

No offense if you have any of these curtains, they're just NOT my style.  I wanted something elegant, yet stylish, dressy, but casual.  

Time for a confession.  I love thrift stores.  I love the Salvation Army.  I love to dig through their shelves and find all sorts of treasures.  I particularly like it when I find genuine Delft pottery, hand-painted in Holland for $.99.

I was at the Salvation Army the other day, digging through bins and found some window valence scarves, complete with tags still attached.  And they were sage green!  I bought four of these scarves for $4 each and then came home and looked them up online. They're regularly $49 each!   I was positive they would look great in the kitchen because the walls are a lighter color and the scarves are MUCH darker.  Yeah, remember that color-challenged thing?

The scarves are the same freakin' color as the walls!!!  I tried to hang them.  No way.  Boring and bland.  I'm hoping to use them in another room.  Back to the drawing board...

After pouring through tons of curtain and home decor websites, I decided that Roman Shades were the way to go.  I totally love this look:

Photo credit: bossycolor.com

Great, but here's the challenge - MY WINDOWS ARE ALL DIFFERENT SIZES!  It's not just that each window is a different size, it's also that the top, middle, and bottom of the windows are different sizes!  So a shade that fits perfectly at the top is going to let light in at the bottom.  And with the big kitchen window, I'd need side panel shades 17-19 inches wide.  And that means custom shades.  And that means more $$$ than I want to spend (don't forget, I still have about 73 other windows in the house to cover...)

Then I was googling and found a Martha Stewart pattern for making your own Roman Shades.  And while I'm pretty good at sewing a hem, the list of supplies overwhelmed me and I think I made it to step 3 of the instructions before I was completely intimidated. 
Back to the drawing board...

I finally decided to avoid all of the crafty DIY sites and just look for an overall color scheme that I liked.  I came up with this:

Picture this man as a curtain.
Do you see it?  No?  Ok, I'll spell it out for you.

I was convinced this was it.  Stylish, but elegant.  Dressy, but casual.  Right?  Right.  So I set out to buy everything I needed.
  • White sheer panels
  • Rods for white sheer panels
  • Tan panels
  • Black rods for tan panels
  • Black room accessories.
Unfortunately there were some major flaws in my plan.

Always a ham, my cat only does hand-stands when I'm taking photos.

PROBLEM #1: I bought tension rods to hang the white sheers and hung them inside the frame in the 18 inch width, 43 inch width, and 17 inch width frames.  In hindsight, I should have bought one long cafe rod (I think that's what you call it) to hang the sheers the entire way across the window.  As they are now, the window looks very choppy being broken up into sections and the curtain comes out at the bottom where the windowsill is.

The rod boxes match the walls perfectly. I should chop them up and hang them!

PROBLEM #2: I bought two really nice black rods with round ball decorative ends to hang the tan panels.  When I got home with them, THE LION TAMER balked.  What? New rods?  The previous tenants left rods here for us!  Uhmmm, yeah, the white expandable ones that cost $1.99 and bend in half when you put any weight on them.

Once I gave a visual on what happens when you put two heavy panels on a cheap-o rod, THE LION TAMER went to get his drill to help me install the rod brackets.  That would be the drill that he took into work to drill holes for network cables.  At the office.  In Boston.  An hour away.  On a Sunday evening.  Ok, not happening tonight.  So for now, I decided to work with the white rods just to see how everything looks when put together.

PROBLEM #3:  Because the white sheers were hung INSIDE the window frame and the tan panels were hung OUTSIDE/ABOVE, the white sheers are longer than the tan panels.  I have no desire to hem the white sheers.  White duck tape anyone?

PROBLEM #4:  I always forget to hold curtains up to the light in the store to see the weave/ pattern.  I forget that they look very different when the light shines through.  And in this case, I don't like the tan panels AT ALL.  The weave is very checkerboard boxy.  And unattractive.

I am going to try to install the black rods tomorrow, once I have the drill, and see how this looks.  In general, I don't like any of it. The kitchen looks very bland and I'm not sure if the black rods will be enough.  I am wondering if the tan panels should be darker.  Or longer.  Or not tan.

And of course we're putting the cart before the horse, getting the curtains set up before coordinating with an eventual rug for the room, but that's ok.  THE LION TAMER's feet are always naked and I don't think the neighbors will mind that so much ;)

So what do YOU think?  Tan panels? Black rods? More colors? Longer length?  (the other side of the kitchen has dark appliances - black fridge, dark stove, black oven, dark wood cabinets).  Suggestions and advice appreciated!