Friday, December 28, 2007

A Complaint Letter

Dear Father Time,

I thought with the new year fast approaching, that this would be a good time for me to write you a letter, and let you know something. I'm on to you. You think that you are so subtle, leaving traces of your existence gradually, and in small doses. You think because I am so busy raising a toddler, that a wrinkle here, and a gray hair there will go unnoticed. YOU ARE WRONG.

When my first gray hair arrived at the tender age of 26, I shrieked, and pulled it out with enough force to give myself whiplash. But, then, I thought about it, and I'll have you know I took pride in that gray hair, Father Time, because I had earned it that year. Throughout these past nine years following that day, you have been rather kind, dispersing the gray hairs sporadically, and only a few at a time. I could just yank them out and go about my days, not giving them much thought. But, lately, the multitude of tiny regrowth hairs sticking straight up, making me look like Alfalfa, is making me angry. So, you want me to start dyeing my hair. Fine. I get it. More work for me, but whatever.

Let's talk about the noises. I don't recall my knees making that noise when I stood up before. What's that popping noise I sometime hear in my lower back? Come to think of it, didn't I used to get up a lot quicker and move more gracefully? You know what? That's not a problem either. I'm sure it is just a result of carrying around a 25 lb squirmy toddler, and bending over thousands of times throughout the day to pick up toys and books, so I don't trip on them - wouldn't want to break a hip, you know.

Let's talk about my eyes, Father Time. It's bad enough that I have to wear glasses or contacts. It's bad enough that my eyesight gets slightly worse with each eye appointment. It's bad enough that I've actually given the phrase "blind as a bat" thought. I understand where the dark circles come from - I used to sleep until noon! But, these wrinkles under my eyes and at the corner are unnecessary, don't you think? So, I've entered the days of standing in a grocery store aisle, poring over the thousands of ingredients I've never heard of, and that probably don't really exist, to decide which 40 dollar eye cream to buy. Fine. Less money for me, but whatever.

My ears really worry me, Father Time. Since I started out with bad hearing, I don't have a lot of leeway in this area. Could you just please be gentle with me? I know I'm teaching my kid signs, but I think I might need more than "milk", "more", "shoes", "car", "dog", "fish", and "eat", to communicate with my family, at least in any kind of meaningful way.

I remember when I was young, and I dreamt of getting a skateboard or a boom box for Christmas. (Shut up! Yes, I did say boom box). This year one of the presents I'm most excited about is the Zoom teeth whitening process that my husband bought for me. So sad, but so true.

And what about...(whispering)..the mustache. That's not even funny. Stop laughing! You are cruel and inhumane, Father Time, do you know that? I want you to know that I have noticed all of these things, and that's fine, I'll age, but I'm going to age gracefully, and with as much dignity as I can muster up. I will hold my old, tired head up high, and I'll go, but I'll be kicking and screaming. Hope you're up for a fight. And, listen, since we are apparently going to be on such close terms, mind if I call you "Dad"?

Friday, December 21, 2007

The One You've Been Waiting For

Well, the Christmas cards have been rolling in. How nice to finally get mail that isn't bills, fliers, or catalogs for a few weeks out of the year! I love to get cards, but of course, I have a few opinions on Christmas cards. I know, shocking, right?! Now, those of you who have already sent me a card, please don't take this too seriously. I love getting ALL the cards, so please, keep them coming, and feel free to ignore this particular rant.
But, here are my thoughts...

1. This might be the most important one. Glitter Sucks!! I hate glitter. No glitter, No where, No how! I think my hatred of glitter began when I taught preschool. It seems that in a preschool classroom every craft must be made by pouring lots and lots of glitter all over whatever you happen to be making that day. Glitter on the table that you will put your arm in for months, because you can never get rid of all of it. Glitter on the floor that you will step on, then track everywhere you go until you swear someone is messing with you, because "How did it end up coming home with me!!" Glitter in your hair, your clothes, your food! So, that is why, when I open a Christmas card with layers of glitter on it, I cringe.

2. Cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. James (and our last name). I know, I know, that is the proper way to do it. But, to being proper I say "Phllbbtt!!" I am not just an extension of my wonderful husband, James. I have a name, too. I gladly gave up my last name, (didn't care for it, anyway), but could I at least keep my first name?

3. As an only child, I have been complaining about this one for years... Cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. So and So & Family. And Family! It was just me. If they couldn't remember my name, they could put "& Daughter", although remembering my name would be good for my ego.

4. I actually kind of enjoy those hokey Christmas letters people send. I like to know what people have been doing. What upsets me are the ones written by the woman of the house (most of them are), that gushes about each of her kids achievements, and her husband's new promotion, but there is not one thing written about her year.

5. Cards addressed just to my husband! Yep, some bleepity bleeper actually neglected to even acknowledge both me and Dylan on the card! This bleeper got a card from us last year, so she knows of my existence and Dylan's, so that is just so bleeping rude. When I expressed my disgust to Jim, he said, "What does it matter? You're never going to meet her anyway, since she lives so far away." "Lucky for her"-my reply.

And now, without further ado, this year's card...

If you can't read this, click on it to see it bigger.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Three Candles

My grandfather on my dad's side was a man of few words. He didn't quite know how to relate to a child - what to do, or what to say. But, I knew he loved me. I didn't really see him much, but my dad always went over to visit him, and he told me that every time he went, my grandpa, (I called him Pop-Pop), would ask a bunch of questions about me. Once, when I was about 11 or 12, my dad took me over for a couple hours, and left us alone with each other. I looked at him, he looked at me, I looked at him again. "Well, what now?", we both thought. "Would you like to watch tv?", he asked nervously. When I said, "Sure", he handed me his TV Guide. He had gone through the whole evening, half hour by half hour, and circled the shows that he thought I would like to watch! Even at that young age, I remember being touched by that small act of love. The biggest act of love, though, that I remember, is when I was older. When I was in high school, I was very interested in art, and one year for Christmas I drew or painted something for each member of my family. When I went to his home a little after Christmas, there was my drawing, proudly displayed in the middle of his living room...upside down! He didn't even know what the heck it was, but he was so proud of it!

We spent a lot of time with my grandparents on my mom's side, as I was growing up. My grandma was one awesome lady. She was real - a here I am, this is me, no bullshit type of person. (I'd like to think I inherited that trait from her). She was all about her family. She would do anything for us. We could do no wrong - she was always on our side. I swear I could have said, "I kicked a puppy", and grandma would have said, "Well, I'm sure he had it coming". She was always in the kitchen cooking, and would warn us all, "Eat up, cuz that's all yer gonna get!" Then, an hour later, she would be shoving more food at us. She was funny, without trying to be. We like to play games in my family, and one favorite was a card game, Pit. If you've never played, basically you shout out the number of cards you want to trade, "TWO! TWO! TWO!", trying to get all the same cards, without ending up holding the Bear or Bull cards. We would all be yelling, "TWO! TWO! THREE! THREE!", and grandma would yell, "BEAR! BEAR!" I knew that more than anything, she wanted me to be happy. She was so thrilled when I married Jim, because she liked him, which was no small thing because she was tough on anyone who wasn't family. After only about a year of Jim and I being married, she asked me, "Has everything checked out with you two?" "What do you mean, grandma?", I asked. "Well, WHY haven't you had a baby yet?", she exclaimed, perplexed. She was so anxious for another great grandchild! I wish she could have met Dylan. I wish I could see her face light up when he walked into the room, but I feel that she does see him, and she is smiling.

In July of 1998, my fiance, Doug, was killed when a car hit his motorcycle. What can I say about Doug? He was fun, friendly to everyone, and passionate about life and those he loved. He cherished me, and made me feel safe, beautiful, and sexy. He was like a child, experiencing life with such joy. I remember when we went to a wave pool once. It was his first time going to one. When the bell rang, and the waves started, he ran towards them, along with all the kids, riding wave after wave. He would get up after being slammed by a wave, and turn to grin at me. He was affectionate, and wore his heart on his sleeve. When we were out together, people either looked at us like, "Oh, that is so cute", or "Oh, God, get a room". When Doug asked a person "How are you?", he really cared what the answer was. He understood me - I mean really understood me. That is not to say that we didn't fight. I think because we were so much alike, emotionally, we fought quite often, usually about hurt feelings, but we resolved them with love and understanding.

When Doug died, I started going to a Catholic church near my home, to light a candle. I'm not even sure why. I'm not Catholic, and I've never done that before. But, there was something symbolic about lighting that candle. It said that his memory lived on. That I would never forget. At Christmas, I lit a candle and kept it burning all day, symbolizing his presence.

At Christmas time, I often think of the people who have meant so much to me. I think of all the people, and the memories I have of them at Christmas. I think of what they have added to my life, and how they have shaped me. Maybe this year, amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas day, you will find three candles lit at my table. But, even if they aren't on the table, they are shining brightly my heart.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Cards from the Past - Part 2

Back to the Christmas card festivities...

This card Jim made himself. It's the typical picture of the husband, wife, and cat in front of the fireplace, with a twist.

On the back of the card was the same picture, only with me giving the cat a dirty look. Those who know us well, know that that cat drove me nuts, but I did grow to love it in my own annoyed way.

Here is the card we sent out last year. I took the picture, and Jim designed the labels.

What a peaceful, angelic scene, don't you think? But, you didn't hear the screams(ours and Dylan's), or see the madness involved in getting that perfect shot. Here are just a couple...

Wow, that boy could scream!!

To rave a bit, my wonderfully talented and creative husband always makes the Christmas card he gives me. I love each and every one! I'll leave out the really mushy stuff, for those of you who can't handle it. We are sappy people at this house! We met in 2000, and I have one for each year.

It is 3 dimensional and says "I Wuv Yu..Thif Muth! Mrry Mifmufff!!!"

Now, for 2001...

The one for 2002 hangs on our wall each Christmas...

The one for 2003...

I'm sure I was the one saying "Hey, watch it!".


Sometime after I received this card, I think I began to complain that while yes, I do love snowmen, that sooo many people had given me snowmen as gifts that they were taking over the house. My snowman affection was dwindling, which resulted in this card for 2005..

The "Official Snowman Free" Christmas card had a bunch of sappy sentiments inside that makes me all warm and gooey, but would make you all "Blabbity, blabbity, yappity, yappity, Blech, Blech!!"(finger on tongue), so I will spare you.

I can't find last year's, but Jim has the graphic on the computer. Inside it said something about him being thrilled with our new little snowball.
I'll end with a Christmas song I sent in a card for a friend of mine a long time ago. The back story is that the guy she was dating still hadn't said those 3 crucial words every woman waits to hear..."No, I'll clean", oh sorry, I mean "I love you".

Tis the season to be naked, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Liquor him up and get him wasted, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Don we now our lingerie, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Make him forget the time of day, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
See the blazing hormones raging, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Suddenly he is exclaiming, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
That he really loves you dearly, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
And he's been a fool clearly, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Then you call me, scream and shout, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
While the poor guy passes out, fa, la, la, la, la, LA, LA, LA, LA!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Cards from the Past

Survivor is on, people!! Why am I posting? Because I have the best invention known to man - DVR. Also, after that depressing game we endured this afternoon, I know Pam and the Burgh Baby's Mom need to get back in the holiday spirit.
And hey, I hope these make the rest of you happy and joyful as well.

I took the photos and drew the picture for this one, and Jim used his awesome computer skills to put it all together. Inside it said, "Hope you get want you want for Christmas this year!" Jim wanted me dressed as a french maid, bringing him beer and chips. Here's a close up of Jim - cleaning our toilet -what I wanted for Christmas...

The color is totally off on here, but you get the idea.
I was gonna do more, but I really need to go watch Survivor now. More tomorrow.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Freaky Friday

For those of you wonderfully compassionate people who were wondering how the rest of my week was going, let me just say this, it didn't get much better. I was in a seriously bad mood - you know it's bad when I can't even find the humor in my crazy life. But on the upside (to quote my blogger buddy Kellan), I didn't buy a bazooka and go postal either.

Then, came today. Did you ever have a day that feels like you are living in a Bizarro cartoon? First off, the switch over from formula to regular milk has been so smooth for Dylan, that I decided today was the day to attempt milk in the sippy cup. He has been happily drinking juice in his sippy cup for a long time, and he likes the taste of regular milk, so how bad could it be? Honestly, I expected it to be bad. I was prepared for bad. He LOVES his bottle, and I know this. So, when I put the cup down, my hands practically shaking with anticipation, and he immediately started drinking, I was ecstatic! YES!! Woo-hoo's!! High fives!! Ooooh yea, ooooh yea. Hey, Dylan! Hey, Dylan! But - it is Freaky Friday - and he suddenly realized "Wait! I'm drinking milk, out of a cup?! Where's my da*& bottle?" Then came the meltdown of all meltdowns, resulting in choking and then throwing up on the rug.

Jim missed the fun, because he had an appointment at the Mac store with "The Genius". No kidding, this guy's job title, as it reads on his business card, is "Lead Genius". At first I was all "I want that job!", but then I was all "That's a lot of pressure!" The Genius was very busy when Jim got there, (as a genius should be), so Jim had to wait. He sat in a beanbag chair and played with some kid's software (wish I could've seen that). While the Genius, and his not so genius coworker were looking something up for Jim on the internet, the power went off in the store, and the alarm started going off! Freaky Friday, folks.
When he came home, (with no answers to his questions - what kind of a genius is that?!), I tagged out, and left for a couple desperately needed hours of ME time.

First I headed to the bank to cash my work check. Now, I will attempt to tell this story without offending anyone. I will be totally PC, and use the terms Caucasian and African American, but I'll shorten it to C, and AA, since I'm lazy. This particular bank is in a part of town with mostly AA's. When I went in, there was a long line, and I'm not very patient during ME time, so I was crabby. There was only one other C, other than me, in the long line of people. Everyone was behaving as one does in a line of strangers, staring at the wall, or the ground, fidgeting, and shifting from leg to leg, when suddenly the C starting talking. Just random stuff, about the weather, or something. I don't know. I wasn't paying attention, and was kind of weirded out that she was talking in general. No one was answering her, either. Suddenly, everyone was staring at me! Staring! Do I have a booger, I was thinking. Then, I realized because I am a C, and she is a C, that they assumed she must be talking to me! Why isn't she answering, they were all thinking.

After the bank, I went to the post office and got stamps, then went to ONE store, where I got almost all of my Christmas shopping done in less than 2 hours! Before I walked into the store, I had no idea what I was even getting anyone! Freaky Friday, I'm telling you.

For dinner, the 3 of us went to King's. We were sitting there attempting to feed ourselves, hold an adult conversation (for once), and throw the food at Dylan fast enough to keep him eating and more importantly, quiet, when suddenly this guy started talking to us. He commented that Dylan has a great smile. People are often commenting about Dylan, so this wasn't strange at all. What was strange was that he kept talking...and talking...and talking. About the time I thought he was going to move his family over to join our table, he started talking to other people sitting nearby. Then, to other people. Hey-ay, it's a party, at Ki-ings, we're all he-ere.

Maybe some people are really feeling the Christmas spirit, or maybe I woke up this morning in another town where people are actually friendly. Either way, I'm a little freaked.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This Isn't Good Either!

When I left for work this morning, my dad remarked, "Have a good day". Then, he chuckled, and said "Well, you'll either have a good day, or some more blog material for tonight!" Does the fact that I'm here blogging again give you a clue how my day went?

I was only supposed to work from 11 - 2pm, three hours wouldn't be so bad, I reasoned. I was to go to the house by 11:00, pick up the car seats, get to the school by 11:30, and pick up the girls. We would get back to the house around 12:00. I'd give them lunch, clean up lunch, then we'd have a little free time until we had to leave at 1:15 to meet their mom at the doctor's office where Bella had an appointment at 1:45. That was the plan. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

Instead, when I got to the house at 11, there was a note asking me to turn the oven on before we left to cook the chicken in there, and have the girls clean their playroom. I knew the "have the girls clean the playroom" part would throw a kink in the plan. The playroom is a M.E.S.S., with far too many toys, and not enough places to put them. The girls HATE to clean the playroom. It usually results in whining, bargaining, threats, screaming, stomping, crying, and lots of eyerolling (you guess who does which).

I picked them up from school. Grace had colored two pictures - one of a Christmas tree, one of baby Jesus in a manger. Bella immediately upon getting into the car demanded to know which one Grace had made for her. Grace, being ever so gracious, said she could have the Christmas tree. "I DON'T WANT THE CHRISTMAS TREE!! I WANT JESUS!!", came Bella's ever so appreciative reply. I remarked, "If I offered to give someone something, and they yelled at me, I wouldn't give them anything", to which Grace remarked, "Yea, Bella, now I'm not giving you either one!" That resulted in about 10 minutes of crying, fighting, pulling hair, and screams of "I WANT JESUS!!" over and over. After so long of that, I was wanting Jesus myself - to come and take me away, far away from there.

When we got home and I fixed lunch, I handed Bella a plate with her order - a hotdog. Then I watched as she lifted the plate to move something under it, and the hotdog rolled right off the plate, onto the floor, where the dog scarfed it up whole, like a vacuum cleaner. "Lovely", I sighed as I pulled another hotdog out of the package to cook. They were finished with lunch by about 12:30. I told them "I brought something really cool in my nanny bag, and whoever does the best job of cleaning up the playroom gets to use it first!" That actually worked pretty well, and they were done cleaning by about 12:50.

As we came downstairs to get my cool thing (Fashion Plates - remember that? I still have mine.), I stopped short, and just stared momentarily in horror...There was a huge pile of dog barf on the living room rug. You know how I feel about cleaning up kids' barf, how do you think I feel about cleaning up hotdoggy dog barf of a dog that isn't even mine? I set the girls up in the kitchen with the Fashion Plates, and mentally prepared myself for the cleaning task. I walked into the dining room to find another pile of hotdoggy loveliness on that carpet. It was now 1:00, and we needed to leave the house by 1:15. Oh, and I forgot to mention that immediately upon entering the house each day, the girls run upstairs and Grace puts on a cheerleader outfit, and Bella becomes a princess. That is what they were wearing at 1:00, while I was cleaning up dog barf.

When I realized that is what they were still wearing at about 1:10, I suddenly became a lunatic. I yelled, "GO UPSTAIRS AND GET DRESSED!!! WE HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE IN FIVE MINUTES!!" with the eyebrows in full force. When Grace came down a few minutes later still wearing the cheerleader outfit, I yelled, "GRACE!! GET DRESSED!!". She started to cry, and I wasn't far from it myself, when Bella traipsed down the stairs wearing a very interesting getup that she had picked out all by herself. I didn't have time to care.

We left the house, and when they starting bombarding me with questions in the car, I said "I need to think. I have to follow these directions, and no one is to say another word until we get to the doctors, understand?". The fact that I was breathing fire, and my eyebrows were about to pop off my face, must have got the point across, because they were silent.

When we got to the office, (only 5 minutes late!!), their mom asked, "Could you stay with Grace while I take Bella in to see the doctor?" "NOOOOOOOOO!!!! I WANNA GO HOOOME!!" (in my head). "Sure" (out loud). An hour later, I finally went home.

No offense to all of you, but I really, really, really hope I'm not blogging tomorrow night. By the way, I never did turn that oven on. Wonder what they had for dinner?

Monday, December 10, 2007

This is BAD!

My day didn't start out well. As I left for work, Dylan had a meltdown, crying pitifully and reaching out for me as I left for work. Ouch, my heart! When I got to the car I realized I didn't have my cell phone, but there was no way I was going back in to redo that goodbye, so I left without it.

When I got to my employers house, there was a note reminding me that Grace had speech today, so I would have to take the girls straight there after I picked them up from school. Their dad had packed a lunch for the girls to eat before speech. I had forgotten about speech, and packed something for myself that needed microwaved. So, I got to sit there, my stomach growling, my mouth salivating, while they picked at their enormous lunch time feast like birds. They left almost 3/4 of the food uneaten, but knowing where those hands have been, and the fact that they had touched all of the food, kept me from eating a single bite of it. So, I was grouchy. I had only eaten a granola bar for breakfast. Oh well, we would get back to their house around 2:00, and I would eat then. Not exactly.

When we got to the house, I grabbed the assortment of papers, drawings, notes, stuffed animals, etc. in the car, instructing each of them to carry one item. (Any more than one, and you get drama and papers flying all over the yard). We ran in the pouring rain to the door, and I put in my key, and pushed the door - BANG! "What?!" The chain lock was on. "Oh, come on!!". We ran over to try the other door. The storm door was locked. I exclaimed, "This is BAD. This is very BAD"! Cue the parrots.."This is BAD. This is very BAD. This is BAD. This is very BAD", and so on. "Okay", I said. "The sliding glass door in the back is never locked. Let's go back there". "This is BAD. This is very BAD"...from the parrots. The gate to the yard was locked! I pulled a lawn chair over to the gate, climbed onto it, climbed onto the gate, then over the banister to the stairs, while the parrots were squealing "Miss Jen, we're getting all wet!". "Yea, me too", I replied, before finding the sliding glass door was also locked. Reverse climb. "What are we gonna do, Miss Jen?", asked Bella. "I gotta pee", exclaimed Grace.

We ran back to the car, and I cursed myself for not going back in for my cell phone earlier. I tried to quickly think of a place that would have a phone, a bathroom, and would tolerate 2 loud preschoolers. "To McDonalds!" That started the chorus of "Can we eat there? I wanna eat there! Can we?". Well, taking children to McDonalds and not letting them eat, is like taking a kid to Disney and not letting them ride the rides. "First, we pee. Then, we make a phone call. Then, we eat!" As soon as we got into McDonalds Bella grabbed a whole handful of straws and put them in her pocket. "I'll deal with that later", I thought. Grace was nearing the point of peeing her pants, so we all rushed in to the ladies room. While Grace peed, Bella passed out straws to women as they came out of the stalls. "Here you go. A straw for you". "Um...thanks", replied the first victim. "It's a new service McDonalds is offering", I explained.

While I called their mom's cell, Bella gave the customers entering the building their straws. No answer from their mom. "Guess we'll eat", I said. They ran over to the counter, and started telling the guy what they wanted. He barked at them, "YOU'LL HAVE TO WAIT YOUR TURN! THERE'S A LINE!" I thought, "Geez, chill buddy". When we got up to him again, the girls were grabbing and touching everything, and he again barked "DON'T TOUCH THAT! LEAVE THAT ALONE!", before I could even tell them to put stuff back. "Wow, this isn't a museum, it's McDonalds. If you aren't kid friendly, go work at my Giant Eagle where nastiness is expected" (I said in my head, unfortunately). Since I only had enough cash for their lunches, I didn't order anything.

After we ate, I called their dad's cell, and found out that the right side of their garage door is always open. I had checked the left side, and upon finding it locked, assumed the right side would also be locked. "There's a lot of stuff in there, but you'll be able to get in", their dad told me. When we got back to the house, and I opened the garage door, I realized "a lot", stood for "A LOT!!!" I literally had to climb into the house, as the girls shouted, "Be careful, Miss Jen! Don't hurt yourself!", from the driveway. I finally ate my lunch at 3:30pm.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bah Humbuggin'

Let me start out by saying, I DO like Christmas. Christmas is good. But today I am just so NOT IN THE MOOD! I looked at the calendar this morning, and it suddenly dawned on me that Christmas is in about 2 weeks. Two weeks?!? How the hell did that happen? I envisioned bringing Dylan downstairs, all "Dylan! Look at the tree! And the lights! And the snowman! And the wreath! And the lights!" His eyes would get wide, his smile would get wider, and he would toddle around from one wonderous decoration to the next. Instead, it's "Look, Dylan. It's all the same old crap you've seen every day for the past 12 months! Yippee." We haven't taken a single decoration out of their carefully organized and labeled boxes.

I bought two gifts so far. Two!! Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I made a well intentioned and admirable pledge that is "ruining Christmas for everyone else" (Jim's words). At first he was all "Jen, I admire you for taking a stand, and sticking to your beliefs". Then, after about the fifth thing he wanted to buy said Made in China, his tune took a drastic turn.

We decided since Dylan would surely redecorate anything within reach by promptly putting the items in his mouth for a taste test, that we would start a new tradition. We would buy a small tree to put on a tabletop that would be Dylan's tree. Each year when he is old enough we would let him pick out an ornament for his tree and decorate his tree. Sounded good, until we searched every darn store in the vicinity for a tree and discovered the Chinese have cornered the xmas tree market. Grrrrr.

Moving right along to the Christmas card merriment. Every year, or almost every year, since being married, Jim and I have designed our own cards to send out. We both went to school for art, although Jim is a MUCH better artist than I am, we both are creative, I love photography, he's great with design, I write poetry. It should be simple. It's not. NOT, NOT, NOT! If I am designing the card, Jim has to have his input. If he is designing the card, I have to have my input.

So today was the day to complete the card. I took the photo of Dylan last weekend, with Jim's help keeping the subject in the shot - not an easy task with a newly walking toddler! I finished the poem to go with it last week. All we had to do was choose a layout on the Target website and order them. But, the 300 or so (I exaggerate a tad, but there's a lot) designs were snubbed, poo-poohed, and deemed unacceptable by my fussy, must have the best card ever, husband. He spent the better part of the day coming up with his own design, thank you very much, while I bit my tongue, and counted to..oh hell, I lost track. But, the card is done, and now we just have to pick them up, print out the poem, cut them out, find envelopes, label them, buy more stamps, and send them. Then, to decorate, string the lights, buy the gifts... I'm going to need alcohol - lots of alcohol.

I know you are dying to see the card now, but you must wait, like everyone else! (Evil laughter)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

An Introduction to Snow

Last year at this time, we were bundling Dylan into his car seat, throwing a blanket over him, and booking it to the usually already warmed up car, because he was little, fragile, and brand spankin' new! Needless to say, he didn't exactly get a proper introduction to snow, not that he would have noticed or even cared. But, this year, I was eagerly awaiting the moment there would be enough snow on the ground that I wouldn't look like an complete loon if I took him out and made the introduction.
Today was the day, after a quick call to "daddy" to make sure he wouldn't be pissed about missing this first.

I approached it methodically, as if planning a battle. First, I went through my winter box, finding my snowpants (that now need to be held together with a safety pin - YIKES), hat, gloves, thermal wear, turtleneck, heavy socks, boots, and ski coat. I put the first layer on, then moved on to Dylan. I got his stuff ready, a turtleneck, heavy fleece pants, warm socks, snow overalls, hat, and jacket with attached gloves. I bought 3 pairs of boots at a consignment store a few months ago anticipating this very event, so after changing his diaper, I starting trying them on him to decide which ones would work best. The first two I couldn't even get on his feet, which makes no sense because they are actually a size bigger than what he wears in shoes. The first of the third pair, went on no problem, but by that time, he was over trying on boots, and decided to take it off and hightail it out of there. Cue the corny music they play in old movies where one person is chasing another. I chased him around the house, trying desperately to get those *&^% boots on. He decided this was great fun, and giggled and hee hawed through every room in the house.

When I finally wrestled, (in this corner - Sweaty Mommy! In this corner - Annoyed Kid With Too Many Layers On!), him into all his clothes, and got my own on (while he sat there looking pissed, cute, and ridiculous all at the same time), I made a decision about the boots. They wouldn't stay on, and he couldn't walk in them at all, so I put on a pair of his shoes, and put a zip lock bag around each one, securing it with a rubber band. "A little piece of genius, right there", I smugly thought to myself. Then we were off. "Snow, Dylan. Dylan, Snow. Nice to meet you".

After my poor kid slid halfway across our back deck, on his zip lock iceskates, before the big crash and burn, I had a vague recollection of my mom doing the EXACT same thing to me when I was a kid, with the EXACT same result! Holy Crap! We really are destined to repeat our parent's mistakes, aren't we? Luckily, my parents didn't make very many, (right Mom and Dad?XXOO). I had a great time, and my newly signing smartie pants kept signing "More" when we came in, so I guess he enjoyed it too!

"Yea, Mommy. I can't move OR see. This should be fun".

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Past, Present, and Future Meme

Okay, so Burgh Baby's Mom, at , decided to get creative and come up with her own holiday meme, then she tagged me! I like the fact that she didn't just follow the crowd, but took initiative, and did her own thing, so I'll gladly play along. (Well, sort of. I'm not tagging anyone. I still don't know how to link to someone else, and I hate to play favorites anyway).

So, I'm supposed to list my favorite childhood Christmas gift, my favorite gift that I received as an adult, and a gift that I would like to receive in the future.

Past: I'm an only child, but I spent a lot of time growing up with my two male cousins. Combine that with the fact that I have never been a girly girl - never liked to wear dresses, braid my hair, paint my nails, buy shoes(size 11, remember?!), swap recipes, etc. So, every year when Christmas rolled around, I was dreaming of matchbox cars, skateboards, and machine guns, and every year, I seemed to get...dolls. But, one year I got a toy I truly loved. You got to be a pilot, and look through the scope at the slowly spinning disc that had various targets. Then, you would pull the trigger and drop a bomb, KABOOM! What fun! Wish I still had that. (Inside my soft spoken, laid back self, is an inner bad ass vigilante just waiting to escape).

Present: As an adult, my best Christmas was last year. Dylan was only a month old, and I was basking in the glow of new mommyness. Since Jim and I are both only children, holidays were small, quiet gatherings, but adding a baby to the mix has made holidays more exciting, more joyful, and much LOUDER! I love it. The best gift, other than my son, was a gift certificate to Nemacolin for a 1 hr. couples massage. Wow. After enduring Dylan's colic scream torture for months, that massage was heavenly. When we walked out, I turned to Jim, and informed him "I'm leaving you for Heidi. Sorry".

Future: Somewhat along the same lines of Burgh Baby's Mom's answer, I would love for someone to give me a trip for Christmas. Not necessarily to Disney - I would be thrilled with just about any trip. The reason for this is simple. Sometimes I think I should change my name to "We". Let me explain. I don't really think of myself as a leader, but it is a role that I always seem to find myself in. In high school, my group of extremely different from each other friends, would all turn to me and ask "Where are we all going to go this weekend?" In college, more of the same, and on and on in just about every relationship I ever had. My family, (my parents, aunt, cousin, and I), once went to Sea World for my birthday. I felt like a sheep herder. I was screaming, and running around them in circles, "People! There is a show in 10 minutes all the way across this park! Let's go! Can we talk and walk at the same time? Is that possible?" My husband, Jim, is no different. He calls me the activity director because I plan, well, everything. When we go on vacations I hear this from Jim..."Jen, did WE make the reservations yet? Did WE remember to pack the suncreen? Did WE remember the tickets? Did WE cancel the mail? Do WE know how to get there?" "No, Jim. WE didn't, but I did". Having all the details of a trip planned for me would be AWESOME! If all my stuff would magically pack itself, that would be good too.

If any of you would like to take this one on, go for it, it is a lot of fun. It put me in the holiday spirit. Where's that spiked eggnog?

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Old Couple And The Leaves

Last week, on a day that was exceptionally warm for November, I found myself observing people, as I often do. Bella and Grace, (the kids I'm a nanny for), and I, were outside on their front porch. The girls were painstakingly searching for the perfect leaves and sticks to use for their "taco stand", and I was enjoying the fact that I was sitting, and absentmindedly munching away on my "taco", when suddenly an old man and his wife emerged from the house across the street. I always love to watch old people. There is just something so interesting about them to me. I wonder about their lives, what joys and sorrows they have experienced, what parts of the world they have been to, what amazing stories they have to tell. There is something so beautiful about an older couple who have spent their lives loving each other, and are still holding onto each other lovingly after years of commitment. So, of course, I was riveted to the scene unfolding across the street.

They walked down the few steps to their driveway slowly, the woman's back hunched over, probably from osteoporosis, the man holding her to keep her steady. They didn't appear to talk much - they had a job to do. They each grabbed a rake and began to ever so slowly rake the huge amount of leaves all over their front yard towards the driveway. Every so often they would stop, and sit down awkwardly on the steps, breathing heavily, but still determined. The more they worked, and the longer I watched them, I found myself wanting to go over and help them. I even thought briefly about telling the girls we were going over to help, when I had an image of them running and screaming through the leaves, scattering piles that had already been raked, and thought better of it.

The couple worked for a long time, and I found myself looking at their house and the ones that surrounded it. I suddenly noticed that their yard did not have any trees in it! Not one. I wondered "Where did all those leaves come from?" Then, I saw the huge tree, two houses over from the one I was at. "How unfair!", I thought, "that they have to rake all the leaves from a tree that isn't even theirs!"

Suddenly another old man came out of the house with the huge tree. He walked over to the couple, and I could see they were exchanging pleasantries, chatting and laughing, and hitting each other on the back as old men often do. He pointed to his house, then left and went home. At this point, the old man, (I envision his name to be Stanley), started stretching a blue tarp out across the driveway. He raked the piles of leaves they had made into the middle of the tarp. Then, the old woman, (I envision her name to be Gladys) and Stanley started fiddling with the rope, and pulling and pushing at the tarp, trying to figure out how to wrap it around the leaves and tie it up. This is how the conversation my head, at least...

Stanley: "Grunt, grunt, groan".
Gladys: "Stanley, I don't think this is how it goes. What did the directions say?"
Stanley: "I don't know, Gladys. I threw them away. I know what I'm doing."
Gladys: "Of course you do, dear, but maybe next time you should keep the directions".
Stanley: "Yes, dear. You're right. I will".

Notice two things in my imaginary conversation. One, the wife remains calm, and tells her husband he of course knows what he is doing and lets him believe he is smart and all knowing, she is merely offering a helpful suggestion. Two, the husband, has the good sense to agree with her suggestion and tell her she is "right", regardless whether he will actually take her advice or not. This is why, I imagine, these old couples are still married and in love. They know what works.

Once they gathered the tarp around the leaves in a way that they deemed acceptable, Stanley started to carry the tarp haphazardly across the street, toward the huge tree guy's house. Why, I'm not sure. Meanwhile, Gladys kept up her slow and steady pace, continuing to rake what looked to be one of the last piles of leaves she would have to do. Suddenly, a huge gust of wind blew, and I watched, horrified, (as if in a movie's slow motion sequence), as all of the leaves that were left on the huge tree blew directly into Gladys and Stanley's freshly raked yard! I wasn't sure if I wanted to laugh or cry. But then, I looked at Gladys. She stood in the middle of the driveway, looking up at the sky, shaking her head incredulously. She was saying something - her lips were moving. I laughed out loud, and she glanced across the road at me, and our eyes met. She laughed, waved, and shrugged her shoulders. Then, she picked up her rake and resumed her task.

And this, my friends, is the secret to a long and happy life, as I see it. When life throws another pile of leaves at you, you look up to the sky, say a prayer or curse God, (whichever works for you), shrug your shoulders, and then...get on with it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Can't Handle the Cuteness

Since turning one, Dylan has been the pinnacle of cuteness, learning new tricks, and doing cute stuff all over the place. My tombstone will read something like this..."Here lies Jen. Her son was so cute, it killed her". He's cute with the helmet on, don't get me wrong, but when I take it off it's like looking directly at the sun. Must.Shield.My.Eyes.From.The.Cuteness. What I don't understand is, how did this happen? I never thought of myself as ugly, but I'm no Angelina, and Jim, while Gorgeous in my eyes, is no Brad, but when I look at Dylan I suddenly feel more Angelina-like, (lips poofing and boobs busting out of my too small bra).

This child, (who for the first four months of his colic filled life, cried with such intensity I thought my head would explode and splatter all over his meticulously painted nursery), can now make me melt with just a smile, or a laugh, or a touch. I'm weak at the knees and my heart's all a flutter. I haven't felt this way since I discovered Johnny Depp on 21 Jump Street! Love - what a miraculous emotion.

He's been cruising around the furniture for a long time, and taking a few steps before tumbling awkwardly to the ground. But, on Thanksgiving, he started walking! Dylan's walk is comparable to that of a drunken sailor, or a guy doing a line dance. A few steps to the front, two steps to the left, two steps to the right, one step back, and shimmy, shimmy, shimmy! The look of pure glee when he does it is what gets me. Who knew walking could be so exciting?

This kid LOVES praise. When he figured out how to get his blocks into the square hole, on one of his toys, Jim and I were sitting there watching him, and we were so excited, we raised our arms up in the air and shouted "YAY!". You should've seen the look on his face, like "Now that's what I"m talking about!". He did another one, and looked at us. "YAY". Another one. "YAY"! Jim: "You realize we're going to have to do this EVERY time now?". Yep, and we do, and he still LOVES it.

Another thing he loves is books. As a person who would probably rather go to a bookstore than an amusement park (Yes, I am a nerd), the fact that he loves books makes me float around in mommy euphoria. He will sit and look at one after the other, after the other, and he is very discerning about it too. Not just any book will do. It has to have style, substance, and wit. Well, okay, the criteria might actually be tastes good to chew, has bright colors, and has pages that are easy to turn, but whatever. I read to him before his naps, and his daddy reads to him before bedtime. As soon as I sit in the chair he squeals, grabs a book and tries to climb up my legs into my lap.

He also likes to sit on the floor, surrounded by ALL of his books. I say ALL, because he never leaves any books on the shelves. I envision my clumsy self, stepping on a book and sliding across the floor on it, my body airborne, my arms flailing, so I put the books back on the shelves. This is what I imagine is going on in Dylan's brain. He is lying in the crib, snuggling the bumper pad, about to doze off into dreamland, when suddenly he senses something isn't quite right. His eyes shoot open, and he quickly scans the room, when suddenly he sees it! A clean floor! "Now how the heck did that happen"?, he thinks. "Who the hell put the books on the bookshelf? They don't belong there! What are these people trying to do to me? I am going to get out of this crib right now and put them back where they belong - ON THE FLOOR. If I can just lift my head. Oh, I'm so tired. I'll do it in a minute". His eyes start to flutter. "There is no way I'm going to be able to sleep with those books on the ....ZZZZZzzzzz".

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bringing Back The Funny

Okay, so I didn't start a revolution with my last post. I didn't receive 1000 comments saying "We're with you. Let's organize a protest, and march down at the city hall". The local papers didn't call to ask if they could print it, and I didn't receive any interview request calls. I got 11 comments, and I'm not sure if anyone else even read the post, or cared enough about the situation to give it a second thought after they finished reading. But, hey, you don't have to care about what I care about, when I care about it. You don't have to care at all, really. I don't mind. I don't sit around dreaming that I am the person who will single handedly change the world. I don't get upset when people don't join in my crusade. I don't sit around and cry, you know.

I know what you were all saying - "That Jen, she's lost her edge. She used to be fun and funny. Her blog used to make me laugh. Lately, she just writes sappy lovey dovey stuff to her husband and kid, and now she's off on some rant about China. Poor thing. She's obviously slipping. Wish she'd go back to the funny stuff".

Well, it is all about you, after all, so you want funny? Okay, funny....I can do funny...
I know! A joke...

Giving up Wine

I was walking down the street when I was accosted by a particularly
dirty and shabby-looking homeless woman who asked me for a
couple of dollars for dinner.
I took out my wallet, got out ten dollars and asked, 'If I give you this
money, will you buy wine with it instead of dinner?'
'No, I had to stop drinking years ago', the homeless woman told me.

'Will you use it to go shopping instead of buying food?' I asked.
'No, I don't waste time shopping,' the homeless woman said.
'I need to spend all my time trying to stay alive.'

'Will you spend this on a beauty salon instead of food?' I asked.
'Are you NUTS !' replied the homeless woman. 'I
haven't had my hair done in 20 years!'

'Well,' I said, 'I'm not going to give you the money.
Instead, I'm going to take you out for dinner with my
husband and me tonight.'

The homeless woman was shocked. 'Won't your husband
be furious with you for doing that? I know I'm dirty
and I probably smell pretty disgusting.'
I said, 'That's okay. It's important for him to see what a
woman looks like after she has given up shopping, hair appointments,
and wine.'

HAHAHAHA. Wait. Some of you aren't laughing.

How about someone getting hit in the face with a pie? That's always funny.

What about this?

Or how about this?

Or this?

You won't be satisfied until you see a funny video of Dylan, will you?

Hope you're satisfied. I'd do more, but I gotta look for some tissues.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Pledge

So, hopefully if you have been reading my posts for awhile, there have been some that made you laugh. Maybe some have made you think. Maybe some have even made you cry. I sincerely hope that this one will make you think, at the very least, but I also hope it will make you ACT.

Those of you with children, or those of you who read newspapers or watch tv, or those of you who haven't had your head buried in the sand somewhere, know that lately there have been several recalls of various children's toys. But, maybe you haven't seen the list. I got an email with a list of toys that have been recalled recently, and I was appalled. It would take me 2 days to go through this entire list, to make sure I haven't bought or received any toys that could harm my one year old son. I don't have 2 extra days to spare, and I'm betting everyone else with kids doesn't either.

Where are the majority, if not all, of these toys made? China. I decided to do a little research, and this is a sampling of what I found in just 20 minutes of online searching...

-"The Asian and Pacific regions harbour the largest number of child workers in the 5-14 age group, 127.3 million in total. (19 per cent of children work in the region.)" - found on

-"At least 1,000 children aged between eight and 16 years have been enslaved in the illegal brick kilns in Shanxi province.
The letter, signed by 400 fathers from the central province of Henan, pleaded for help in their self-organised campaign to rescue the kidnapped children. It said the children had been kidnapped or forced into cars in urban Henan centres such as the capital Zhengzhou, then sold to factory bosses for about 500 yuan (65 US dollars) each." - found on

-"Over the last ten years China's economy has been growing at double-digit rate thanks to the labour of millions of migrant workers churning out goods for export in exchange for low wages. But, as the economy boomed labour disputes multiplies. more and more workers have gone to court or taken to the streets to protest poor working conditions and overdue pay." - found on

-"The Chinese government sees child labor as one way to combat poverty and does little to enforce the
laws against it. The companies are more interested in their economic investments than the status of
their workers. So far there have not been any convincing signs that the situation will improve or that the
issue has become a priority for the Chinese government." - found on

Am I the only one who thinks that this is not OK? I am MAD. I am mad as a mother. I shouldn't have to worry about the toys I buy having lead in them. Parents have enough to worry about. I am mad as a consumer. I should have the choice to buy a product that is made in the USA, or one that at least isn't made in China. I am mad as an American. These American companies are obviously turning a blind eye to what is going on. They don't seem to be concerned with our children, instead they just worry about the all mighty dollar. I refuse to believe that Americans would rather save a few bucks, and make a company rich who is using children as slaves to make their cheap ass products, than to spend a little more for a product that is safe, and made legally. Please tell me I am correct in this assumption.

After doing the research, I started looking around my house, turning over toys, books, and clothing. It makes me sick to tell you how many of the items in my home say in teeny tiny lettering "Made in China". Too many to spend my time counting. I don't know if you have heard the radio ad yet about Walmart. It says that 70% of the items in Walmart are made in China. That wasn't a big concern to me because I try desperately to avoid Walmart as it is - the place gives me the creeps. But, I was shopping in Target recently, a store I like, and every single item I wanted to buy was "Made in China". I left the store disgusted and with no items in my cart. Today, I found a bunch of items I would like to buy in a catalog. One problem - there is no way of knowing where they were made. I would have the same problem if I shopped online. Consumers are left in the dark about this issue. Well, I for one refuse to be left in the dark anymore.

So, this is my pledge. I will not buy or accept ANY gifts this Christmas that are manufactured, printed, or "Made in China". Even if that means I don't buy or receive any gifts this year. At least I will have the gift of peace of mind and a clear conscious.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for many things, but these two are at the top of my list.

1. I am thankful I have the Poison Control number easily accessible on my refrigerator. (If you don't, please think about doing so. Trust me.)

2. I am thankful eating silica gel is not harmful. Groan.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Two days before Dylan's actual birthday, we had a big party for him, complete with animal themed decorations and favors, a cake with his picture on it, and 37 people all staring at the birthday boy! As I looked around at all the people, I thought, "How great that Dylan has so many people in his life already who love him!" Despite being warned that a big party would overwhelm him, I'm glad we did what we did. It was fun, and a great memory.

On his actual birthday, just Dylan and I spent the day together. How appropriate, really, since that is how his life began. I took him to the mall, so we could go to his favorite place - the Mr. Rogers Playspace. Dylan LOVES that place. I put him down and whooooosh, he's off, like a rocket, crawling through tunnels, climbing the slide, toddling into the middle of the chaos that is a crowd of running, squealing older kids, and loving every minute of it. By the time we leave, I am a sweaty mess, and my back aches, and I have decided that if one more kid asks me why he wears a helmet, I'm saying "He's an alien. He is from Mars, and if you don't walk away, he will eat you!" (I make friends wherever I go).

While we were at the mall, I figured we might as well do some shopping. For Dylan, of course. I might hate shopping for clothes for myself, but I love shopping for clothes for Dylan. There are some women who are still dressing their 3 year old boys in cutesy wutesy teddy bear overalls that say "Too cute". Not me. I am not a girly girl - never was, never will be. I wanted a boy, a full throttle, rough and tough, down and dirty boy, and that is what I got. He's not a baby anymore, so for his birthday, he got some big boy clothes.

The skull hat might be a bit drastic, but my husband loves it! After the mall, we went to a consignment store. We walked in and I saw it (musical notes, harps playing, and angels singing). I moved closer cautiously, so as to not attract attention. I looked to my left, looked to my right, looked at Dylan, shrugged, and quickly pulled it into our cart. Then, I checked the price tag. Two dollars and fifty cents!! I looked around again expecting Ashton to jump out from somewhere, yelling "PUNKED!" I hightailed it to the checkout counter before he got the chance, while inside doing a victory dance and squealing like a little girl. This is what Dylan got for his birthday, for $2.50...

He is excited too...

Later that evening, Jim drove home like a maniac breaking possibly every law regarding operating a motor vehicle, for one thing. To sing Happy Birthday to Dylan at precisely the time he was born. What a sweet daddy! Me, I let him eat cake BEFORE dinner, so I'm pretty cool, too. What a great day.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Baby is One

Dear Dylan,

One year ago your daddy and I were watching the Steelers play football and you kicked me really hard, as if to say, "Look out Mommy! Look out world, here I come!" Just three hours later, I was holding you in my arms, and I knew my life would never be the same. It was the most exciting day of my life, and my heart was overflowing with love for you.

You've been through a lot your first year of life - colic, ezcema, daily stretches, physical therapy, specialists, x-rays, doctor visits, and a helmet, and you have taken it all in stride. Those first four months that you had colic were rough, Dylan, but I knew there was a happy boy in there somewhere just waiting to get out, and you have! You are such a pleasant, happy kid, who loves to laugh, and who does so passionately! I love to make you smile, and hear your infectious laugh, and I love watching you make all your discoveries and reach each amazing milestone.

My life certainly has changed since you came along, but I love it! I love that every morning when I come in to get you out of your crib, you are smiling, and excited to see me. I love how excited you are to go anywhere, when you don't even know where we are going! I love hearing you babble in the backseat and see you smile at yourself in the mirror while I'm driving. I love watching the affect you have on the men in your life - your daddy, both your grandpas, and even your great grandpa. They all light up when you are in the room. I love taking you new places, and introducing you to new things. I love your little shoes lined up by the door. I love your little coat hanging next to ours. I love your tiny toothbrush (for your 6 teeth!), that sits amidst our giant ones. I even love the toys that have taken over the house. I love being a mom. More specifically, I love being YOUR mom. Even more specifically, I love YOU! More than I can possibly say with words.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm Engaged!!

Jim and I met online in March 2000. I stumbled across a dating site by accident, and saw that they were offering a free 2 week trial. "Why not?", I figured. At the time, I didn't even have a computer. I was visiting my parents, and using theirs. I did a search, entering certain criteria, like that they couldn't be a smoker, they had to be at least 5' 10" (I'm 5' 11"), they had to have a job, not live with their mommies, not be criminals, you know, just the basic stuff. Then from the ones that matched my criteria, I chose a few and sent them emails. When I saw Jim's picture, I thought he was cute, and he looked really confident, and he had a sexy expression. I sent him an email, along with a few other people, then came out to talk to my parents before leaving. "I joined a dating site online, and I wrote to some artist guy", I announced.

I started going to the library on my 1/2 hr break at work to use their computers and see if I got any responses. When I got his reply this is what it said..."Hi Jen, I read your profile and must say that I enjoyed it. It's good reading. It was like looking into my own mind and soul. I have very similar views. (Hopes and dreams, plans and schemes). Only you're much cuter."

Fast forward to March 2002. We were staying overnight at The Log Cabin Motel. Our room had a jacuzzi, so we were going to relax in the jacuzzi for awhile. Jim got some candles out of his bag and started setting them up around the jacuzzi, and I thought "I love how romantic this man is!" We got in, and I noticed that Jim's face was getting red, really red! It was getting really hot, and I was worried he would pass out, so I suggested we get out. "NO!", Jim yelled. But, he kept getting more and more red, so finally I got out, but he refused to get out. He begged, "Jen, please get back in, please". It seemed really important to him so I did. I leaned my back against his chest, and he wrapped his arms around me, then whispered in my ear, "How would you like to make me the happiest man in the world?" "By doing what?", was my retarded reply. I honestly thought he might say "By giving me a half hour back massage". He showed me the ring, (which he had been hiding on his finger - that's why he couldn't get out), and said "By marrying me".

Fast forward to September 2007. Our home is broken into, and my engagement ring is stolen. I am heartbroken. I loved that ring, and the memory that went along with it.

Fast forward to this morning, November 18, 2007. I was in the kitchen washing bottles, (my favorite past time), when Dylan came in holding a piece of paper. Jim was following him. This is what it said...

My ring finger has a beautiful new ring, with a new memory to go with it. One I'll never forget. Of course, my answer was a resounding YES! Yes, I will, Jim. For now, and for always. I'm so proud to be your wife, and I'm so happy to be sharing this journey with you. I Love You.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Ride To Preschool

Those of you who have children who are talking, know that in order to survive a car ride to, well, pretty much anywhere, you must create your very own "happy place", that you can retreat to when necessary. Mine is a Dr. Pepper commercial. Today's ride went something like this...

First, the characters.
Grace - 5 yrs old
Bella - 4 yrs old
Lambie - a stuffed lamb that goes everywhere with Bella, and is in a VERY sad state of disrepair
Me - Dylan and I were up at 6am, and I'm tired, but I'm still smiling

Me: "Ok, everybody in!"
Grace & Bella: Plop, plop, THUD, THUD. "AAAHHHH!!!...GRACE!!!...BELLA!!!" (Climbing over each other to get to the preferred carseat)
Me: "Wait, Bella, don't shut the door until I..." SLAM! (Open door. Put her seatbelt on. Go around to put Grace's on. Roll eyes.)
Grace: "Miss Jen, you should get a haircut". (As my hair falls into my face, as I'm straining to get the X*&% seatbelt to click).
Me: "Yes, Grace. I should cut it all off, and go bald".
Grace: "Nooooo! Don't do that. Just cut it, Miss Jen!"
Me: "Ok, Grace". (It's much easier to just agree).
(Driving down the road)
Bella: "Miss Jen!?"
Me: " Yes, Bella?"
Bella: "Did you know it's Lambie's birthday today?"
Me: "No kidding! How old is Lambie? Four?"
Bella: "No, Lambie is thirty six seventeen!"
Me: "Wow! Hey Lambie! I didn't know it was your birthday! (Breaking into song) Happy Birthday to yooooouuuu, Happy Birthday to yooouuu, everybody sing.."
Everybody: "Happy Birthday to Lambie. Happy Birthday to yooouuuu!"
Lambie: ....
(Tap, Tap, Thud. - Bella starts kicking the back of my seat. Happy place time.)
Me: (Singing in my head) Ma, na, Ma na..Doo-Doo, doo-doo-doo.
(Tap, Tap, Thud)
Me: Ma, na, Ma, na..
Grace: "GREEN LIGHT!!!"
(I jump. The light has turned green. They laugh).
Bella: "We better tell Miss Jen when the lights turn green, okay Grace?"
Grace: "Okay".
Me: (To myself) "Goody."
(Tap, tap, thud.)
Me: (In my head) "Ma, na, Ma, na..Doo-Doo, doo-doo-doo..."
Me: (Upon feeling a cold blast of air on the back of my neck) "What the, Grace! Why is your window down?!"
Grace: "I want it down".
Me: "Grace! It's cold! Put it up!" (Upon feeling a cold blast of air from the other direction) "Bella! Put yours up too! NOW!"
Bella: "I put MINE up, Miss Jen".
Me: "Thank you..Grace?! Put yours up!"
Grace: "I tried. It won't go up".
Me: " Okay, move your fingers away from the window". (I press my button to get it to go up). "LEAVE THEM UP!"
Grace & Bella: "O-kay...GREEN LIGHT!!!!"
Me: (After I jump) Ma na, Ma na..
(Tap, tap, thud).
Me: Doo-Doo, doo-doo-doo.
Bella: "Miss Jen?!"
Me: "Yes, Bella?"
Bella: "Am I being good?"
Me: "Yes, pretty good, so far."
Bella: "My daddy said if I'm nice to you today (unlike yesterday), I can get a rainbow popsicle!"
Me: "Oh, really?"
Bella: "Yep! I love those!"
Me: "Who doesn't?"
Bella: "Huh?"
Me: "Nothing". (Note to self: Sarcasm is lost on preschoolers).
(Tap, tap, thud).
Me: Ma na, Ma na...
Grace: "Miss Jen? Is this your daddy's car?"
Me: "Yes, Grace".
Grace: "Why did you bring your daddy's car?"
Me: "Grace, I've explained this, like, 100 times, but here we go again. My car has Dylan's huge carseat in it, and I couldn't fit you and Bella's carseats too. I take my daddy's car and leave him with mine so if he needs to go somewhere with Dylan he can. Make sense?"
Grace: "Uh, huh".
Me: "Hey, Grace, don't forget to ask me the same exact question tomorrow, okay?"
Grace: "Okay".
(Note to self: Hello? Don't you listen?)
Grace & Bella: "GREEN LIGHT!!!"
Me: "Aaarrgghh! Stop doing that!)
(Tap, tap, thud)
Bella: "Miss Jen! Lambie wants to go on the rocky side!"
Me: "Hey Lambie! Just sit back and enjoy the ride."
Lambie: .....
Me: "That's what I'm doing". Ma na, Ma na. Doo-Doo, doo-doo-doo. Ma na, ma na. Doo-doo-doo-doo. Ma na, ma na. Doo-Doo, doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Smell Beer...And Testosterone

My wonderful husband scored us two free tickets to the Steelers football game today, (Thank you, Monica!). Two free tickets only four rows back behind the team, baby! (You must add the word baby to everything for emphasis when discussing football - apparently). Try not to cry with envy, you fellow Pittsburghers, it's very unflattering.

I don't get to go to games often, but when I do, I am always incredibly amused - drunk guys and football, is there anything funnier? Us Steeler fans, we are passionate! I honestly didn't see a single soul who didn't have some sort of Steeler gear - jersies, shirts, and crazy hats... scarves, terrible towels, n'at. Well, I take that back, there was a blond chick wearing a fur, and high heels. I repressed the urge to scream "BOOOOO!!", as I looked around for some red paint. This is a football game, honey. You don't belong here.

There was quite possibly the only Browns fan sitting right next to us. He arrived drunk, and he got, well, drunker. He was too drunk to realize that he might want to keep a low profile, so he kept screaming and jumping around when the Browns did anything good. I was impressed with the Steeler fans around us. No one cursed him, or threw beer on his head, (I was waiting). He did manage to spill half a cup of beer on himself because he just couldn't get the hang of drinking out of a cup, I guess. That was really funny, or as Jim put it "You were laughing your ass off!" Check out this yahoo...This is him when he was putting a hex on our players and talking in tongues.

I am very thankful that the guy didn't puke on us.

Then there was this guy...

That, there, is Jesus, complete with the long flowing locks, robe, and a sign that read "Believe - Be Loud". Nice of him to take time out of his busy schedule to support the team. We appreciate that. He was pretty fired up, too.

The game was really, really close, (31-28), which made it all the more exciting, and we won, so it couldn't have been any better. Well, it could have been warmer, and not rained the whole second half, but whatever. The best conversation of the game didn't even involve football.

Jim: "Jen, why didn't you insist I bring my gloves?"
Me: "Hey, it's not my fault. I got them for you". (They were in the winter box - Jim didn't know where it was). "You decided not to wear them".
Jim: "You know I never know what I am doing".

Oh, man, why didn't I have my cellphone on Video for that? Crap! I love football. GO STEELERS!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'm Joining The Nudist's Colony With Dylan

I am apparently a freak. Wait, didn't I start a recent post, "I am a moron"? Note to self: Be nicer to self. Look in the mirror each morning and repeat the phrase, "I am beautiful and smart and I can do anything". It's hard to feel beautiful, though, when you can't buy clothing that fits. This is a struggle I have had all my life, or at least since I started caring if my clothes fit. I try, I really do. I have watched many, many episodes of Stacy & Clinton on What Not to Wear. I know the rules - No pleated pants. No mini-skirts over age 35. Items don't have to match, but they do have to "go". I want to look modern, hip, and stylish, but I'm just happy if my boring clothes are clean at this point.

I picture myself strutting around confidently with my cashmere black turtleneck sweater hugging my curves in all the right places, my oh so chic denim skirt that makes my ass look HOT, and my kickass black leather knee high boots. The ensemble screams, "Look at me! Damn, I look good, and I know it"! Instead my black cotton turtleneck sweater is 2 inches too short in my monkey arms after only two washings, and my denim skirt that only makes my ass look so-so is still hanging in my closet waiting to be worn, because I CANNOT buy boots with my freakish size 11 Narrow feet. That's right, I said 11 Narrow. Luckily you aren't here, because I just know you'd be staring at my feet right now. It is bad enough that all shoes everywhere only go up to size 10. I can always order shoes in 11, but not in narrow width. Apparently if your feet are that long, they should also be FAT. Sorry, I missed that memo. I finally, after scouring the universe, found a store that could order my only boot option in a size 11 Narrow, and they came in, and we went to the mall yesterday, and they actually fit! My feet, that is. They were way too big in my calves. Jim said "You either need fatter feet, or fatter calves". Yes, Jim, fatter calves would just about make life - perfect.

Every year around this time I do the switch. I put away my summer clothes and get out the winter stuff. This year, I decided to go through all my clothes and get rid of the stuff that either doesn't fit, is out of style, or I just haven't worn for years for whatever reason. This morning I tried on every pair of jeans I could find. I discovered to my shock and dismay I have 17 pairs of jeans! Seventeen! That is ridiculous, people! These are 17 jeans that I tried on and said "These fit". After my initial shock, I thought about it, and I know why I have so many jeans. It is a never ending quest. The quest for the "perfect pair of jeans". The ones that fit like a glove, that are so comfortable that you would even sleep in them if you could. The problem is, and ladies please come closer as I am about to tell you a secret that will truly rock your world....THEY DON'T EXIST!!! Now you know.

The problem is, if you are anything like me, and you have a strong desire to be hip and not look like a grandma, you have tried on the jeans that are now in fashion. Low rise. The term also applies to your self esteem when you try these on, do the sit-down test, and your belly flabs out over the top of the jeans. Lovely. Then there is the inescapable fact that you WILL be exposing your butt crack to innocent passersby each and every time you sit down. You will feel a cool breeze between your cheeks, and you will give yourself a wedgie trying to pull your underwear up enough to cover your butt crack. You will wear these jeans for awhile, and make the statement "There is no way people can wear these and be comfortable"! Then you will put on a pair of your old jeans, the ones that go up past your belly button. You will look in the mirror and see an old, out of fashion, woman, who strangely resembles your mother, and you will put the low rise jeans back on. You will sigh, turn on another episode of What Not To Wear, and mutter, "I am beautiful and smart and I can do anything".

Friday, November 9, 2007

Don't You Hate It When

Don't you hate it when you get yourself into a predicament that you can't get out of?

Dylan: "I HATE that".
(Don't you love how after awhile, he decides to just make the best of it! He's got his bottle. What else does he need?)

Don't you hate it when you laugh so hard, you fall over?

Dylan: "That wasn't me. I don't know what you're talking about".
(Everytime he laughs, he gets the hiccups, that crazy kid!)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Farts Are Funny

When I taught preschool I dreaded the "ketchup lunches". We all ate the same meal prepared by the culinary genius they had hired from the Pennysaver. Yes, the teachers also. We were supposed to "model good eating habits", thus being required to eat preschool sized portions of whatever crap they were serving. The days that the ketchup bottles arrived on the rolling carts holding our cuisine, I always cringed. They seemed to always have just enough in them to make THE NOISE. I would squirt some ketchup onto my mini sized fries, "Ffhhpptt", followed by laughter, snorts, and a regular giggle fest. I would try to keep my cool, while passing it to one of the many kids screaming "I WANT KETCHUP!" "Ffhhpptt" - more fits of laughter. Over and over the ketchup bottle would be passed, it would make THE NOISE, and I would try in vain to regain control of my lunch table.

When I was in my twenties the guy I was dating had me pinned, and was tickling me mercilessly, when suddenly he let loose the loudest fart I ever heard. The horrified look of embarrassment on his face was so funny, that I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. My laughing got him laughing, and we both were clutching our sides, gasping for air, by the time we regained our composure.

The first time I met his parents we went over for dinner. During dinner, his parents' dog suddenly decided to plop his big fat body down on my feet, (I had my shoes off), and farted on my feet! I tried with every fiber of my being to keep from snorting and spitting my drink out. I was doing a good job of controlling the laughter waiting to erupt, when the smell hit my date's nose. He gave me a look, like "You've got to be kidding me!", and that was it. I lost it. "It was the dog!" I exclaimed, while laughing hysterically. That broke up the whole table. We were all laughing so hard that their other dog went berserk. She ran around the table over and over, barking as if to say "What's wrong with you people?"

Even Dylan, at only 11 months apparently thinks THE NOISE is funny.

It is one of life's little mysteries. I don't know why, but let's face it, farts are funny.

The Boy In The Box

Jim and I had a much needed date on Friday. (Thank you, Rachel!!) We went to dinner, and saw the movie "Martian Child". In it, John Cusack plays a science fiction writer, who decides to adopt a little boy who thinks he is a martian from Mars, on earth for a mission - to learn how to be human. When he first goes to see the boy, he discovers that he spends his days in a big carboard box! He decides he is not cut out for that kind of drama, and rejects the idea. But, he can't stop thinking about that boy in the box, and he returns. I won't ruin it and tell you the whole story, but I will tell you, it is a must see.

This little boy (although just a character in a movie) got to me. There have definately been times in my life that I would have liked to just climb into a big box to keep from getting hurt again, or just to escape the harsh realities of the world. We've all had those moments. And, it IS hard to understand humans, especially ones who give up their children, or ones who harm children. As an adult, I am perplexed and horrified at the way some people treat children, so imagine how difficult it is for a child to understand!

I am blessed to have been born to two wonderful, amazing parents who showered me with love everyday. But, what if I hadn't been? What kind of person would I be today if I spent my childhood in an orphanage, or worse, moving from dysfunctional foster home to foster home? Watching the movie, I couldn't help but think, what if Dylan were that little boy? There are thousands of kids out there who are just as easy to love as my precious boy, and they deserve to feel wanted, to feel special and loved, and to be part of a family.

My husband and I looked into adoption. I searched tons of websites, did tons of research, and went to seminars. But, we felt that we couldn't afford it. At the time, I hadn't even considered fostering a child and adopting that way. Since then, a friend of mine decided to foster a little boy, with the plan to adopt him. When he was just a few days old, a friend of ours and I were going out, and she asked us to babysit him while she took her dog to the vet. When I held him for the first time, I remember looking down at this tiny person, so fragile, so innocent, so full of possibilities. When I thought about the life he might have had if he stayed with his biological parents, my eyes teared up. He deserved so much more! I held him up and whispered in his little ear, "You're going to have a great life, kid. I can feel it!" And here it is, over a year later, and he IS having a great life with my friend and her husband. When I think about it, my heart is happy. I feel in my soul that one day I will do the same thing for a child, and that thought makes me happier still.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

7 Random Things - My Way

Okay, so I was "tagged" by Shellie (at , to list 7 random facts about myself. Oh the horror! The rudeness! The injustice of being told what to write about! (I'm kidding, Shellie. I don't mind at all). But whoever thought up this particular cyber chain letter should at least be a little more creative. Seven random facts?! Suh-Nore! How about 7 things that make you go "Hmmmm?", or 7 scenes in movies you totally relate to, or 7 things that make you shoot milk out your nose they are so funny, or 7 things you've done that made you feel completely exhilarated, or 7 things you did you wish you hadn't, or 7 things you wish you would do, or 7 things you can't live without, or even the 7 kinkiest places you've ever had sex?

Since I am a rabble-rouser and don't like to color in the lines, I'll list one for each of those.

1. I gave my son macaroni and cheese for the first time today. This kid will eat anything - squash, rice and lentil dinner, fuzz, books, cat food, whatever. Macaroni and cheese he spit out with a face that would sink 1000 ships! Whose kid is this? I would probably eat roasted pigs feet if you smothered it in cheese.

2. One scene I totally relate to these days is in the movie "When A Man Loves A Woman", with Andy Garcia and Meg Ryan. In case you haven't seen it, Meg Ryan plays an alcoholic who goes off to rehab, leaving Andy's character to take care of his job as a pilot, the house, and the two kids. One evening he is on the phone with his boss, the kids are running around the house screaming at each other, and something spills. There are no paper towels. He starts carrying on like a lunatic about paper towels. "Where are the paper towels!! I NEED paper towels! When we're out of paper towels I need someone to go get me some paper towels!!", (he screams at the annoyed nanny). I can totally relate. You don't realize how wonderful paper towels are until you have children, and suddenly they are worth their weight in gold.

3. The scene in "Money Pit" with Tom Hanks where the bathtub falls through the floor, and he just stands there laughing at it, makes me snort milk out my nose everytime! Well, that is, if I'm drinking milk, which I don't - I'm allergic, and it's gross.

4. I could definately write a whole post on this one, but one of the times I felt completely exhilarated and alive was when my college roommate and I went to France and Italy on a whim, with no set plans or reservations for 2 weeks. Amazing.

5. Wish it wouldn't have taken me 3 1/2 years to realize "The Bozo", was just that. Then again, maybe I wouldn't appreciate Jim as much as I do, if I hadn't made that mistake. Also, thank God I didn't marry him. Wheew.

6. This one is easy. I wish I would publish a book. I wish I would publish MANY books. I wish I would be such a successful writer that I would actually turn Oprah down when she calls to ask me to be on her show. That would shrink her big head a bit, or just royally piss her off.

7. I just realized the other day I am an addict. I am addicted to Blistex. Don't laugh! It's true. I always carry a tube of it in my pocket, so I can put it on throughout the day. One day this week, I wore pants without pockets and went to work without my trusted tube of joy. I thought about it ALL day. I looked in my purse 3 times for a tube I might have put in there. All day I could just feel my lips starting to chap. I went out and bought several to stash all over the house. I need help.

8. Are you nuts?! My parents read this blog. I already gave you 7 anyway!

Feel free to take my "7 Things" list ideas and run with them, but at least give me credit for thinking of them, or you'll be on another one of my lists. I won't say which one.

(I tried to figure out how to link to other people's sites - I even asked a few people for help, and they tried to explain it. Either I am brain dead, or they are using PC's and on my Mac I need to do it a different way. If anyone is using a Mac and can shed some light on this, let me know, please. Sorry!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monkey Butt & Flying Poop

I started the day out in a bad mood. I won't go into why. Maybe another time. Anyway, when I arrived to start my day with Grace(5) and Bella(4), I was praying they would make my day easy, not hard. Grace immediately started asking if we could go to the mall after preschool today. The last time I watched them, I avoided going to the mall by saying that we didn't have money to buy lunch there. This time, Grace had a fistful of change - lunch money, if you will. "I have money for lunch, Miss Jen!" (These things always come back to bite me in the ass!) I chose to change the subject - "redirect" being the technical term.

Meanwhile, Bella disappeared upstairs, and returned wearing lipstick, not just on her lips, but on her cheeks and nose! "O-Kay!" We were on the fast track to that hard day I spoke of. As we were leaving the house, Bella was carrying a backpack full of toys. "Where do you think you are taking all those toys?" " school?" "Uh...No. You are only allowed to take toys to school on trick or treat day, err, uh, uh, what's that day called?" (It's hard to win an argument with a four year old when you can't use your words). "Show & Tell day! That's it! You can only take toys on Show & Tell days". She was already on her way to the car with the backpack, by that point. I restated my position, saying "You can have them in the car, but that is where they are staying". Didn't matter. By then, she was crying because Grace was sitting in the carseat that she wanted. "Grace will sit in it on the way to school, and Bella will sit in it on the way home! That's it!". She fired back, "Your not my best friend, and you're not watching us anymore!" Oh, great. Fired by a four year old. That will look great on my resume.

When I picked them up from school, Grace immediately stated, "Now, we are going to the mall!", as we walked up the stairs, parents in front of us, and behind us. "No, we aren't Grace. We're going home". "But, I wanna go to the mall!", she whined. "I want lots of things, but we don't always get what we want", was my philosophical reply. The parents were chuckling around us. "But, sometimes we DO get what we want", she retorted. "But, NOT TODAY", I stated. Now the parents were stifling laughter. She was quiet until we were almost at the playground. "Miss Jen, if we can't go to the mall, can we go to the playground?" "Sure!", I agreed. (I'm not horrible, you know).

I am convinced that they hold all their bodily functions in throughout the 2 1/2 hrs they are at school, because they are ready to explode when I pick them up. Since finding this out the hard way another day, I have started keeping a potty chair in the trunk of my car. Sure enough, as soon as we stepped onto the playground Grace announced she had to poop. I got the chair and she sat there for quite a while, while I gave her plenty of space. I looked over after a bit, and saw her wiping her butt with a pile of leaves! Quite resourceful! Then she shouted, "Miss Jen! I pooped!" As I started walking over to her, I told her "Okay, Grace. I'll empty it". "I pooped a lot, Miss Jen". "Oh, goody.", I exclaimed to a giggling Grace. "How much poop can come out of a 5 year old?", I thought, as I looked inside. She watched as I flung the poop over the fence into the woods, and she laughed at the image of the flying poop. A big gust of wind sent the smell straight back to my nose like a right hook! "OOOHHH!", I shouted, making a face and shaking my head. "Thanks, Miss Jen". "You're welcome", I whimpered.

My stomach was hurting, (probably from being hungry), and I just didn't have the energy to push them on the swings, push them on the merry go round, or go on the see-saw. I just wanted to sit. Grace was on this bouncy thing, jumping up and down, and I told Bella, "Doesn't she look like a monkey?" Then, I called out to Grace, from my seat, "Hey, monkey, want a banana?" I pretended to throw her a banana, and she pretended to catch it. That bought me 20 whole minutes of sitting! Bella and I pretended to throw her different foods, she pretended to eat or reject them. Then, Bella was the monkey. Then, Grace was the monkey and she escaped from the zoo. I called the zookeeper (Bella), "HELP! A monkey is on the loose! Come quick!" The zookeeper chased the monkey and put him back in the cage, and on and on. At one point, Grace bent over to pick up something, and I said "Ew, I don't want to see monkey butt!" That resulted in hilarious fits of laughter. Follow any word with "butt" and the result will be the same.

The day wasn't half bad, and my bad mood lifted, and hey, I had some blog material with a great title.