09 October 2011

Organizing Your Military Home, Part One

Fall has arrived, everyone! Things are apple and vanilla scented, stores are boasting everything from frozen turkey to Christmas trees, and neighborhood porches are encrusted with maniacally grinning orange gourds. It’s also getting chilly, which signals the beginning of the Great Winter Couch Potato Race! Rather than save your cleaning for spring, why not get some of it done now? Make some room for those holiday gifts, and decluttering will make the house much more bearable during those dark winter months. I promise.

1. Set it up the night before.

I know this sounds simple, and I know it’s something that a lot of people do. But taking it to an extreme is easier at night, and leads to a MUCH simpler morning. Need your morning cup of go juice? Preset your coffee maker. Kids scrambling in the morning to find their backpack stuffers?

Suck up the extra energy it takes to find all the homework and permission slips, and get it all in there the night before. Do the kids eat at home in the morning? Set out bowls, spoons, oatmeal packets, etc. For kids that can’t pick out their own clothes and get dressed (or for kids that will come downstairs in a tutu and cowboy boots if left to their own devices), set aside a drawer or use a cloth hanging organizer in the closet. Then, when folding the mountains of cartoon underwear and t shirts, set aside a week’s worth of outfits. Slide them into the drawer or organizer; and you’re set for the week!

2. Look at your coat closet.

Seriously. Open it up, tilt your head, and squint one eye. Pretend you aren’t you, but a neighbor/friend/family member. Okay, maybe not friend, because it is a cardinal rule in female friendship that you may not judge another Mom’s coat closet. Anyway, take a gander at it. How many coats are hanging? How many shoes are scattered around? Backpacks? Purses? Crayons, kites, neighbor children? Figure out what you need in that closet, and set it aside. What else is in there? Set aside the items that should be put away in other places. Be honest, we don’t need seven pairs of shoes per person in the coat closet. Or, if you do (and you have the type of door that permits it) buy a plastic shoe organizer and hang it on the door. Presto –change-o, floor space! Next, are there extra coats that are in there, but don’t get used? Perhaps they have been outgrown, or one of the munchkins decided they hate purple now. If you can use them again, pack them away. Now, I understand that letting go of things is hard. We love our children, and many times have emotional attachment to the memories that happened in the clothing. Repeat after me: “Getting rid of a BLANK does not make me a bad parent, and does not take away my memories!” Now pack that purple jacket in the donation box mentioned in the next tip, and move on!

3. Boxes, boxes everywhere….

Got some boxes? Cardboard, plastic totes, or footlockers? (We Military folk move a lot, so we all know about the empty boxes hidden away.) Grab a few empties, and designate some general purposes for them. Now that many of the Armed Services require members to arrive hauling every green and tan piece of equipment known to man, it is likely that there are many oddball pieces floating around. And, if you are like me, the stray pieces left after deployment packing were shoved into a closet. Unfortunately, out of sight, out of mind doesn’t work when the stuff ends up teetering precariously on a shelf of an often-used closet. Empty footlockers? Start by putting the equipment in there. If you’re feeling particularly froggy, you can separate the equipment from the clothing, separate it by seasonal use, and even label them with the contents. Voila, packing for the field no longer requires a prayer and a 10 digit grid coordinate!

4. Storage is a Mom’s Best Friend.

Plastic bins are great for seasonal decorations, crafts, and clothing that aren’t immediately necessary. If you don’t have plastic totes with lids, I suggest acquiring some. They aren’t super cheap, but they are worth their weight in organizational gold when you’re getting your life streamlined. They can be found at any Wal Mart or Target, and occasionally on places like Craigslist and Freecycle. Keep your eyes open, and opportunities for these sweet, stackable babies will cross your path.

5. Donate, Donate, Donate!

Big cardboard boxes (like those left over from household goods shipments) are great for donations. Toys, clothes, jackets and shoes are always appreciated this time of year, as are decorations that no longer fit your home and costumes that no longer fit your ankle biters. Drop them off at any ARC, Salvation Army, or Goodwill, and they will be thrilled to have them. Or, if you are busy and selfish about your free time (like I am), the Yahoo group Freecycle allows you to create a free local account. Then you post your offerings, and people will come pick them up. Not at home when they’re coming, or don’t want strangers in your house? Close the box, slap a note on top and let them know it will be a porch or curb pick up. Easy peasy!

6. Dress your closets for success.

I l I liked the snappy title of this, but it by no means applies only to closets. This is also for dressers, bureaus, and overflowing laundry baskets. We all have our “skinny” jeans, the shirts we don’t wear anymore, and the holey granny-panties. Start by going through and pulling out things you just don’t wear. I don’t care how much your BFF swore you’d be able to wear that mint-green bridesmaid dress again, she was wrong. Reach down and grab the inner seething you endured when you had to buy it, and set it free. Shoes that fit before you had your kids? I don’t care how much weight you lose, your feet aren’t going to shrink. Let your foot misfortune bring joy to someone else, and donate them. Purses from yesteryear? If they are too small to hold everything you need and aren’t dedicated to a specific outing (clutches for dress up occasions, for example) lose ‘em. After all that is gone, take out the things that you don’t wear often, and put them into a storage container, and put the storage container away from your closet. Wait thirty days. After thirty days, keep only the clothes you had to retrieve during the month and actually wore. If you didn't need anything, donate the box. Don’t open it, don’t double check. If you didn't get it out for a month, you don’t use it.

Okay, we’ve gone through a lot of information. And just thinking about organizing everything in your life can be exhausting, let alone actually doing it. Take it a bit at a time, or get on a roll! However you choose to streamline your life, remember that your hard work will pay off!

13 September 2011

A House Is Not a Home

There are days the panic starts to take over.

You know it won’t last. You know it’s just a bad day, and bad days are bound to happen. They will creep in, unexpected, like a frost that heating off of your car makes you late for work. They will rear their tiny, ugly heads, like an English folk creature that won’t leave your kitchen until you provide the object it’s been looking for, or a cockroach that has taken up residence under your refrigerator.

Days that you wonder what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and if it’s what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s so easy to ignore the big questions and just keep pushing forward, because momentum is good. It makes you feel like something is getting accomplished.

But at what point do the cold cups of coffee, and trips to the potty, and term papers start to become blurry and inane? At what point do you simply avoid reaching out for comfort or solace? Because when you really, really needed it from the one you’re working so hard to emotionally support, and it’s not returned. It’s not rational, not logical, not fair. And when you ask, you’re scoffed at.

Scoffed at.

That bad day…that gnawing, aching pain that rests in your shoulders, your stomach. That bad day that makes you feel like you could crawl out of your skin. That bad day that caused a fight, and then the phone line stopped working. Stupid third world cell phones. Stupid Fights. Stupid bad days. Stupid that I didn’t say I love you before the phone died. Sorry I brought up anything to cause a fight. Sorry that unless you’re here, a house is not a home.

I’m sorry for my bad day.

06 September 2011

I Like Free Stuff Too, But Damn! (Colorado Springs Edition #1)

Well, guys, it’s that time. I know I said I’d do this earlier, but I didn’t get around to it until now. Turns out, those degree thingies take work. Oy.

And now? Onto the Freecyclers of my new city of residence, Colorado Springs!

I'm looking for a bike so I can learn to ride. Something in good condition, since I know nothing about bicycles. I don't need anything huge.

Like a circus unicycle. I’d much prefer something with a daisy encrusted wicker basket and a ring a ding bell. That’s what I wanted when I was FIVE, when my parents should have taught me. Douchebags.

Want two carseats for tolddlers as well as a toddler bed with mattress if possible, also an old style school desk, white paint, end tables outdoor toys like swing set, also want a powerwheels truck or car that runs for my sons birthday next week.

Oh, and then some party invitations, some kids to come to a party, a house to have the party in, and spellcheck. And for God’s sake, it has to be by my son’s birthday. Otherwise he’ll think I’m unprepared, and have nowhere to sleep. Or do his homework. Or swing. Or a power wheels vehicle to drive away from me in.

OFFER: some pink and some purple toole (Fountain,CO) some small bits of pink toole some large parts ofpurple toole toole= see through lacey stuff like ballet dancers wear or decor around windows.

Eh, thanks anyway. I just hung a ballerina from my curtain rod. It got the job done.
P.S. Toole=YOU.

OFFER: Pillows One standard size and one travel size pillow, both used.

You’re fucking gross. Nothing about this is okay.

WANTED: CRICKET PHONE (CENTRAL) Hello,Does anybody have a cricket phone??? Im going insane!!!

Yeah. The Cricket store. They called to tell you that their phones are, like, three dollars and don’t require a plan. They said that they are basically the meth dealers of cell phones. But your minutes will probably expire when you’re in crazy phone-withdrawl lockdown.

WANTED: 99 Ply Voyager parts (manitou ) Both visors w/brackets,drivers headlight assy., full size rim/spare, travel/stow gear,window sunscreens,tires, hubcap if match or 2 or 4. Thanks Freecycler

So, the bottom line is that I need a fuckin’ car. With matching hubcaps. Why a 99 Plymouth Voyager? Don’t fuckin’ question me.

OFFER: 2 twin comforters (Springs Ranch ) I have two holey twin comforters. One is GI Joe and I think the other is blue and green. A dog we were watching got a hold of them. They are washed.

Hey, I know a broad with some pillows you should link up with.

WANTED: Recliner that swivels (westside )I am looking for a recliner that swivels in good condition for an elder. Thanks in advance!

An elder what? Tree? Person of importance in the Mormon church? One of those guys from the Matrix?

WANTED: gps navigator (80923) get lost all the time.

You have no idea how much I believe that.

OFFER: organ (80132 monument) Lowrey organ, nice piece in very good condition and works, don't have specific information on it but can send pictures. Need to be
able to move it out yourself with at least 1 or 2 other strong persons, very heavy.

Okay, there’s not a single thing wrong with this post, aside from the fact that two people probably couldn't carry an organ. I just thought it was super cool.

OFFER: pencils (80910) pencils - enough that I can't get my hand around them all. The erasers are hardened. When responding, please include a window of time on which day(s) you'll be able to pick up.

Day(s)?!?! What the FUCK? Someone is going to need to make extra trips to pick up your crusty ass pencils? I know you said you couldn’t get your hand around them all, but is a Ziplock bag and some well-wishing for a single safe, pencil filled trip out of the question?

OFFER: full sized futon matress ( rockrimmon) Also have a frame at seperate location

Bring unmarked bills. And NO COPS. If you don’t listen? The frame gets it.

OFFER: box of books (union & boulder) I have a mid sized box of what appears to be Christian books.

They appear to be Christian books? What, are they wearing masks?

WANTED: Wanted beekeeping supplies ( 80831) any beekeeping supplies.

Like some fuckin’ bees.

OFFER: manual breast pump & pads (80910 ) had a no show. good condition.

You know why they were a no show? Because they came to their goddamn senses, and realized that they were supposed to be picking up a USED BREAST PUMP.

WANTED: FeaTHERS, FEATHERS, FeaTHers, (central) Does anybody have any feathers?????

Okay. I’ve racked my brain, and I’ve got nothin’. (Insert scene from Hook here, with Tootles searching for his marbles....)

28 August 2011

It's As Though The Candy Should Belong To Him....

I’m fully aware that this is the first blog I’ve written in, like, six months. It should probably be a piece riddled with beautiful, Soldier adulating prose.

Maybe next week. Today I’m pissy, I haven’t talked to my husband, and the underwire broke in my bra. The clouds keep coming in, and there's just a tiny bit of rain. Then the clouds part and we're back to the miserable hot that makes me grumpy enough to punch a kitten.

Despite the oven-like heat, the fall semester has started, which means a few things:

I am already officially frustrated with the classes that I thought would come most easily to me.

Campus is swarming with every 17 year old flippy haired, patchouli smelling high school graduate in Colorado Springs (except for those going to actual colleges).

I can now purchase candles and plug ins that make my house smell like baked goods. Fall and winter are the only two seasons where cinnamon, apple, or coffee scented things are allowed in my home. Otherwise, I'd gain another hundred pounds and you'd find me sitting in my closet, eating carrot cake mix out of the box. I'm just saying.

We're almost ninety days into this CRAPCRAPMEGACRAP deployment. It feels like it's moving at a snail's pace (if the snail were on crutches and in high heels). But ninety days is three months, and three months is a quarter of the deployment down. I guess 25% isn't so small, percentage wise. Hells bells, those math classes are paying off.

It also means that we're creeping up on the Midget's third birthday, and the first Halloween that he'll actually have some understanding of what's going on. It's a double edged sword, though, his understanding Halloween. Sure, he can walk on his own, he's old enough to pronounce “trick or treat”, and he's decided to dress as Daddy, which is the cutest EFFING thing I've ever seen. I know, I know, it really seems like any down side would be simply overshadowed by all of this, right? WRONG.

“Why?” You ask?

Because, people, genetics are a BITCH. He loves all the candy I love, which means that I either have to sneak the good pieces out (hello, Reese’s, you delicious mofos) or actually share. I think it’s crap, to be honest. I thought that one of the simple pleasures of parenting a toddler was getting the good candy. I mean, I bought the costume, I’m the one taking him out in the cold and making sure he doesn’t get hit by a car or doesn’t end up on a milk carton.

I think I may have found the only acceptable solution.

I’m telling him the good candy tastes like vegetables.

11 May 2011

The Breezy Fireplace Conundrum

The new glasses felt funny on her face. Not bad, exactly. Just something different that catches attention. Like a different brand of margarine, or when a razor has dulled itself into nicks so small you don’t notice to wipe the blood away.
She needed the glasses, though. As the years had progressed, her close quarters vision had become less effective, presumably due to the years of oddly colored computer screens that had burned through her retinas. But there was going to be enough trouble getting that degree. No sense in being stubborn about visual necessities.
She sat, watching the red stripe shrouded reason for stretch marks simultaneously perform Batman and cow air assaults on unsuspecting couch pillows and dump trucks. As she watched, she listened to the sound of the Air Force as their aircraft played amongst the clouds like seals in the waves. She wondered when the green tin can of Americana would come for her husband. She thought of other families, and wondered what it must be like. To feel safe, to not be paralyzed by the fear that the news could easily hold information that could change life, instantly and permanently.
The planes continued their afterburner frolic, and she watched smiled quietly at the juxtaposition of their roars with the light breeze toying with the sheer curtains. The fireplace flickered, and she knew that she should close the window. Somehow, though, the counter production didn’t matter as much as the peace that came from having a cool, rainy breeze while enjoying the flames. It was times like these that she felt alright. Creative. Thoughtful. Normal, even. It was times like these that let the potty training, the schoolwork, the cleaning and cooking and laundry fall to the back of her mind. They lay there, dormant, if only intermittently so. Soon enough, the world would rear its ugly head once again, and she would be forced to remember that peace comes in small stretches. Like a beach cove or a vintage thrift shop, you don’t stumble across it every day. As well as she understood that you must have bad to understand good, she just as fervently wished that the bad could come in smaller doses, if it need come at all.
As the time of her muse slowly drifted back into her now chilled coffee cup, she again watched the red clothed diaper demon. This time with affection, fear, and anticipation. She was soon to be his only world…his yearlong, singular connection to those which created him.
The thought weighed heavy on her mind. She sighed, sipped the cold coffee, and willed herself to return to the world of overpriced community college textbooks and toddler urine carpet spots. As she slipped back into reality, somehow, the fireplace stayed lit, and the breeze continued to stroke the curtain.
Perhaps she was distracted by those damned glasses. Or, perhaps, she wanted to stretch the peace just a bit longer.

23 April 2011

But What If I Suck At It?

My time, of late, seems to be divided pretty equally between the vacuum, the Dollar Tree, and various school errands. Throw in the occasional grocery schlep and the Diaper Demon’s constant whining for mommydaddycheesemilkieatiwantcatigobyebye, my schedule is pretty full. I could probably even fill up a wall calendar with some to do’s, but...well, who wants to write crap like that on a calendar?

I’m not a huge fan of the “Me Time” phenomenon; at least, not in the weekly Mani Pedi, Coach VS Dolce eyewear debate way. I try to take little bits of my day to chill out, you know, here and there. It’s less “Me Time”, and more “Don’t Beat My Child Time”. I find a few minutes here or there to grab a cup of coffee, watch fifteen minutes of Top Chef, or pretend to be using the bathroom (when I am, in fact, trying out my new can of Veet).

The mother of all my time outs, though, is working on my blog. I love to write, you see. No, seriously, I fucking LOVE to write. Not about anything important, really. I don’t think I could even be placed into a specific blogging group. I don’t write enough about being a parent to be a Mom-blogger. I don’t write enough about current events to be a News Blogger. I don’t purchase anything regularly enough to be a Review Blogger. Mostly I just am inspired by a line, phrase, or picture, and the words start to flow. And boyohboy, do I love when those words start to flow.

Problem is, without a specific focus, you can’t much expect for your writing to project itself. There’s nothing instantly recognizable enough to attach itself to any one subject. That places me squarely in the land of Weblog Ambiguity, of which I am not queen, princess, or jester. Hell, I’m not even that handmaiden that gets to wear those kick ass low cut velvet Renaissance dresses. Which is why the recent suggestion to begin a resume consulting business really set my gears to turning.

“I hate that you did her resume,” she said to me one day (referring to a leader-by-title of ours). “I mean, she’s worthless, and now her resume is going to make her look kick ass.”

It was at that point that I began to feel the tug-of-war between “Shit, she’s right!” and “Hey, wait a minute, my resumes kick ass?”

I guess it’s not too much of a stretch, really. Blogging is just a way to creatively impose your opinion on unsuspecting victims, and there is little that I enjoy more than shoving my obnoxiousness into the great wide beyond (unless you count excessive commas, coffee, or reality television). I’ve noodled the idea around for awhile now, and this morning seemed the right morning to check some stuff out. As the web tabs multiplied, I came to some startling realizations:

You need a name for your company. Then you need a website. What if your name is taken by another website? Do you risk taking a .net or .org, or do you think of another name? Should you take the bull by the horns, and look at making business cards, or is that getting too cocky (no barnyard pun intended). Do you talk to people you’ve helped in this aspect before, and look to them for endorsement? Is electronic communication the best way, or should you include paper copies? Watermarks? Trademarks? And what if I end up sucking at it?

Any accomplished (fully, quasi, delusional, or otherwise) entrepreneurs, please feel free to chime in. Seriously. Please. Chime in, like, NOW.

21 April 2011

Your Devil Better Not Wear Prada....

Recently, Jennifer Egan won a Pulitzer prize for her newest fictional work “A Visit From The Goon Squad”. While I am not a fan of works that are (in my humble opinion) some kind of love child that could have been spawned by a brief, drunken tryst between Palahniuk and Grisham, I am pleased for the praise that the writing of a novel should receive, particularly because women have not been as recognized in this avenue that I believe they should have. I am not, however, pleased with her interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The interview began benignly enough, with all the appropriate statements about how things are unreal, uncanny, and how she had to leave her lunch reservation because it was just all too much. The dialogue continued, filling the page mostly with the interviewer asking repeatedly how winning an award of this importance made the author feel, and Egan giving modest replies, like “nutty” and “fantastical”, and stating that now that her book has received such attention, she feels like an outsider, as if she should go back and reread it.

Seems pretty harmless, right?

The last question she was asked referred to the difference in how men and women “come off” in the media. Her outlook on the subject was not focused on the differences in voicing opinions from a gender based standpoint. Rather, it focused on women remaining quiet and aiming for the literary stars. She went on to compare “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht, to Kaavya Viswanathan’s quasi-plagiarism of “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life”. She called Obreht’s type a “young, ambitious writer”, and then blasted Viswanathan not for her plagiarism, but for plagiarizing works Egan considers to be “derivative, banal stuff”, and for utilizing the authoresses of “Chick-Lit” as role models for the written word.

“My advice for young female writers would be to shoot high and not cower”, ended her article.

I wonder how Egan would have felt if the Pulitzer Foundation had decided that her words were unworthy because…oh, I don’t know, they didn’t like her font? Or her chapter titling preferences were not theirs? The picture over the blurb-ography on the back cover was a bit too hippy-dippie?

Of course, the idea that a foundation dedicated to the existence, fostering, and praise of extraordinary works of art could be capable of (and willing to) degrade an author’s brainchild is insane.

Additional insanity, in my opinion, is the idea that a woman so keen on the idea of female authors would tread so heavily across not only other published, award winning female authors, but also across those who read the above mentioned, and are just finding the best way to let the ink flow from their pens.

Be it Jennifer Weiner, Peter Beagle, Norman Mailer, or the shadow writer for Nicole Richie, if it is inspiring to you, it is inspiring.

Whether your tastes lie with Kinsella or with Tolstoy, when you write, your words are your own, and let no one take your muse from you.

12 April 2011

Move It. There Is No "Lose It" Option.

I’ve stumbled over my typed words more than once today, trying to think of a witty way to start up this “We’ve Settled” blog. As my backspace key is getting a bit abused, I’m just going to get on with it.

For those that have sipped the Zuckerburg cocktail, you were no doubt slapped about the face repeatedly with my pictures of the diaper demon (in various states of distress and/or shenanigan), Check-Ins in towns where Wes Craven is no doubt Coming Soon.

If you don’t follow my status abuse or visual pollution, here’s your chance to catch up.

First? Maryland is FREAKIN’ BIG. Seriously. I didn’t know it was that big, and that it’d take that long to get across. You look at a map, and you’re thinking “Oh, little Maryland. You’re so sweet and little. Would you like a lollipop or a balloon? How about a hug? Ohhh, you….”

Stop it. Maryland isn’t little, and it doesn’t deserve a lollipop or a hug. It deserves a poke in the schnoz for being huge, having crappy roads, shitty drivers, and having the town of Hancock. Why do I have a problem with Hancock, MD, you ask? Google it. And when you’re done, send me the lollipop and balloon.

The next few days consisted of: WestVirginiaPennsylvaniaWestVirginiaOhioIndianaIllinoisMissouriKansas. I’d like to offer nice tidbits about each place. I can tell you (without having spent any significant amount of time in any of these contributors to the good ole Stars and Bars) is that their part of highway 70 seems to run pretty straight, and their traffic is us usually not bad. We drove on through Wyandotte County, Kansas, which I hadn’t seen for a few years. Looking at it in the early spring with late winter tendencies brought the move to (and quick move from) Kansas City to mind. It was then (and pretty much only then) that I did a quick and silent shout out in gratitude that we were not being stationed at Fort Riley. My gratitude and smiles were short lived, as we quickly passed through Wyandotte County and were greeted with a sign stating that we were passing the last “Free Exit”.

Last Free Exit? What the French, Toast? My husband and I exchanged panicked Walkie Talkie transmissions as we struggled to search for loose change while navigating vehicles laden with a thousand pounds each. Vehicles jerked in and out of lanes as he yelled at me that I’d LIVED here, how could I not KNOW that there was a toll?!, as I screeched back that I’d never BEEN past Kansas City, and did he SEE the landscape? Why would I GO out there?” Our shriek fest was short lived, however, as we only needed press the button to retrieve our ticket, and pay at the off ramp. Three whole dollars later, we had washed our hands of our current Midwest highway debacle, and we continued through…well…nothingness.

Our last travel night was spent in Oakley, Kansas. We were met there by a three story truck stop, and the first warm meal that didn’t come with a supersize option. We took the Prince of Processed Cheese swimming, and slept a little more easily than the previous nights.

We woke early and drove through one of East Kansas’ famed April snowstorms. As I bobbed my head to Esthero, suddenly the clouds parted, and Pikes Peak came looming beautifully into view.

About Effing Time.

13 March 2011

All The Whos Down In HooHoo Ville....

I attended a party Friday night. It was a bachlorette party, and it was…shhhh…a party for dirty birdies.

Now, I know this sort of thing is old hat to most, but I’ve never been to one. I was kidding about the shhh, though. I think once you give birth, the majority of your bathing-suit-area couth kind of goes out the window.

And that, my friend, is where the fun begins.

The evening started off like most other Friday nights. I took the boy over to T’s, so that her groom-to-be could wrangle the McSpidermonkeys out of the house. There are very few commands our sons will not obey if they think there are Golden Arches in their future. As he walked out the door, a curly haired twentysomething walked through the door. She was in the chubby club, too, (of which I am the treasurer). That was a bit of a relief. Being talked to about masturbation and beginners bondage, well, that would just be humiliating if the speaker was skinny and gorgeous. Call me crazy, but that’d go from Anal Beads to Amway in 3.5 seconds. I’m just saying.

As the guests arrived, we ate crackers and cheese while we watched the hostess hang up lingeree. She then brought out the hanging shoe holder full of the widest array of Lube’N’Tune products I’ve ever seen. Are you curious what they are? No worries, fellow gutter-mind-dweller. I will be soon be highlighting what will soon be either my favorite products, or the worst way to spend $77 I’ve ever encountered.

As we all settled in, the hostest with the mostest brought out the first product I purchased, which we’ll call…um…Moochie. It’s a shave lotion that keeps razor bumps and ingrown hairs off of your cha-chadoodle! SHUT UP! I was sold.

By the way, I’m going to use different names so I don’t provoke any copywrite shenanigans. We’ll just say that the hostess of this soiree works for a pyramid organization that rhymes with Mumbler Smarties.

Anywho, product two in my bag of goodies was available in stick or tub form, to not only make your headlights shine on high beam, but also to make them taste like either raspberry or watermelon. And, if that wasn’t enough, IT DOUBLES AS A CHAPSTICK. I bought raspberry in a tube, and it rivals every lip balm I’ve ever owned, to include color, shine, smell and taste.

Next up is a loose powder container of yummy body dust, scented like (seeing my theme?) raspberry. So I’ll smell good, taste good, and get to look like a fairy? Where do I sign?

Number four was a roller tube of a perfumey kind of substance that works with your body chemistry, and contains pheromones. The hostess said that in blind testing, women that wore the product were hit on three times as much as the women that weren’t wearing it. Don’t misunderstand. I am a very happily married woman. But a wink or an ass check out every once in awhile would be a kick ass proverbial high five. Yeah, I know that she was probably lying out of her (what she referred to throughout the party as) “back door”. Just put me on the next flight to River City, Iowaaaayyyy, and sign me up to buy my kid a fluglehorn.

Five? Five I’m not going to get super descriptive with. I’m just going to put out that it changes temperature with breath and friction. Oh, and it’s carmel flavored.

All in all, as silly as this all was, this party was the most funI’ve had in a long time. It was enjoyable, quiet, calm, and pretty f-ing funny. Some things were just a bit more intense than I would ever consider (the words “Japanese motor” were bandied about more than once), and some just looked downright painful. All in all?

If you’re ever having a f***erware party, consider this my immediate and affirmative RSVP, baby.

10 March 2011

The Missing Puzzle Peace

One of them hates Thomas Kinkade. Thomaskinkadepainteroflight, she calls him. I did a puzzle of his once, when we were roommates in Virginia. It glowed in the dark. That’s when I first found out she hated his paintings. I found one of his works online once. I thought it was pretty, and put it up on my social network page. Another of the she’s told me about his DUI in Monterey.

I haven’t done a puzzle in years. I mean, a puzzle that has more than six pieces and a moo cow on it. Putting them together was peace for me once. She got me into them when I came home for a visit from Afghanistan. It was hard to be peaceful or still, and focusing on the hundreds upon hundreds of tiny splashes of color somehow took some of the pain away, made the post trauma less stressful. I like the feeling of accomplishment when you're done. I also like that there's a picture on the top of the box. Just prop it up, and you know what the outcome is supposed to be. I haven’t done a puzzle since I left from that visit. I guess it just doesn’t feel right…like I don’t deserve the peace, I guess. Like I haven’t earned it, or that there’s too much to do to feel peaceful. The house never seems clean enough, but the energy to take it apart and clean is just beyond grasp. And if the energy is summoned, the job isn’t ever done well enough. The kitchen floor might be clean, but I didn’t clean behind the fridge. Or I could have mopped the bathroom. Or there’s a pile of clothes in the bedroom that needs to be folded.

Reprieve comes in small doses. In the form of uptake inhibitors, coffee, cleaning, music, or TV. I look at my son, and hope that he never feels this kind of anxiety, or pain, or fear of being alone. I think the alone is the worst part. Being alone is hard, but being around people is harder. Thinking that stupid conundrum has made me tear up a bit. Not in a bad way, really, just in a confused sort of way. Sort of like there’s an answer that everyone else has, but I didn’t buy the right handbook. The boy is so young, and I hate to think that he’ll ever feel the helplessness of being unable to stop the pain, or the fear. The fear of being left alone. The fear of being the boring one. The one with the issues. The fat one in the wedding pictures. The one that yells too much at her kid. The one who has a husband gone, and can’t handle it. The one that can never focus on anything. The one that won’t join a book club and is afraid of junior college at thirty, because she can’t concentrate on a movie, let alone two years of school.

I stopped writing for a minute to light my candle. It smells like sweet pea. Another of the she’s got it for me, because she knows I like sweet pea. The smell makes me feel peaceful sometimes, like if things smell flowery and pretty, that they will look and feel flowery and pretty, too. It usually doesn’t work that way, though. I wish it could. I needed to get more coffee, too. I feel like if I can get enough coffee, I can get up and move through the gloom. Then maybe this feeling wouldn’t wash over like a wave. Sometimes it’s a little wave, and I can ignore it. Sometimes it’s a tsunami, and I just have to pretend it isn’t there. I tried a few times to go to a place where other people hurt, too. You stand up in a room of absolute strangers, and talk about what you feel makes you vulnerable. I can’t seem to make it work, though, because sometimes I feel so vulnerable that talking about it makes the lump in my throat act like a mute in a trumpet. Then the tears come. Then people want to hug you, or be encouraging. Who wants encouragement when you’re talking about what a loser you feel like? It’s like the band playing while the Titanic went down. No one enjoyed the music, and the cello just ended up waterlogged in the end.

I’m afraid even while I’m writing this. It started as a blog about my friends. I’m lucky to have them. They’re an amazing group of she’s, and I’d be in a state of loss without them. Some are new-ish, and some have been here…well, forever. We’ve dressed up, driven through the hills, eaten junk food, cuddled, lived together, spent every day together, and stood solid as mothers, as wives, as daughters, and as friends. And somehow, despite all of this, I wonder why they’ve stood next to me. It feels like “It’s A Wonderful Life”, but the creepy “without him” world should have won out. I can’t even tell if I’m writing this for bravery’s sake, or a cry for help, or just to be self serving. The tears and the words just keep pouring out, and I’ve always been a bit of a slave to both.

I needed something to keep my mind occupied while I waited for the man to assess our house for packing.

I guess I wasn’t ready for the puzzle peace. I wish I was.

I wonder when I will be again.

I wish I knew how to fix this.

08 March 2011

Just Like Pullin' A Double Wide With A Scooter.

I think my real mistake was bringing the f-ing coffee cup in here.

“But, Sandra…” You say. “You need the coffee!”

You’re right, reader. You are ever so right. But the coffee and the laptop? Just a plain bad idea. It's like giving a seal a ball and a fish, and then expecting him to do a little algebra. That algebra just isn't going to get done when there is fun afoot.

So here I sit, on the floor of my step-chick’s room, bored with going through Barbie camping gear and miniscule stickers. Can you imagine? Bored with stickers? Who (or what) the hell have I become? Procrastination is SO much easier than actually packing my fourteen hundred square feet of absolute insanity. I should really quit whining, though. I don’t have to pack it this time, and fourteen hundred square feet really isn’t all that big. I just have to get rid of the loads of crapcrapcrapMEGAcrap we don’t need so that the packers can make sense of my shenanigan-filled house.

“What, Sandra?” You ask, alarmed. “You CAN’T be moving again!”

I assure you, gentle reader, we are.

Although this time, we’re not leaping four hours north. We are going to Griswoldit across the US, with the final destination beckoning us as the land of Rocky Mountains, beer, and that hotel they filmed The Shining in. And for the fifth time in as many years, we are packing up the house, midget, and cat, and driving our happy asses to a house we’ve never seen, in a state we’ve never lived in. It’s cool, though, for a few reasons. Wanna know what they are? I’ll bet you do….

On post housing this time around? SUCK. Balfour and Beatty? I’d like to find your mothers, and then punch them squarely in their noses for participating in the creation of such ineptitude. How on this expansivegreenearth are we number 107 on your wait list? We were number 107 in October. OCTOBER, Balfour and Beatty. It’s March. I may not have been the best relocation specialist this post had ever seen, but I could damn well move a wait list more than NONE in four months! Dumbasses. It’s fine, though. I’ve learned my real estate and rental lessons. We’ve found a house that’s pretty, has a basement, comes with a washer and dryer, and costs a third less than what we’d have paid you. You like apples, right? Well, how do you like THEM apples? So there.

Next up? We’re driving an Explorer and a pickup, rather than a pickup and a flingin’ Cobalt. More room to bring crap we’re going to need, like plates and paper de toilet. Bonus, I I’ve gone through the house, and begun getting rid of the supermegacrap that we really don’t need. It’s a bit of a slow process, but I’ve found that caffeination helps. The Prince of Poo seems to think that he is helping by bringing me one…Army…Man…at…a…time (and then telling me it’s Daddy, and making me kiss each one). He also likes to help by rearranging the carefully separated Craigslist boxes, and putting the items I’ve so carefully sorted back in their original locations. Seriously. Locations all over the house. We’re talking under sinks, into closets. All this from a kid that can’t seem to grasp the concept of picking up his toys and moving them into the adjacent basket. It’s cool, though, because there seems to be some comic relief in watching him dance around talking to his toy soldiers, and then trying to sneak them into his room.

Moving on…I’m not working anymore. I left the Pit of Despair…er…office last week, and have been doing some resting, some cooking, some cleaning. I feel pretty flingin’ smart for posting the items I want to set free on Craigslist and Freecycle, rather than dragging them and the Sultan of String Cheese to the drop off point at Good Will. For some reason, Good Will is never happy to see my shit, and they seem to feel that they’re doing me a favor by taking it. And I’ve gone into the store…our shit is a lot nicer than the stuff in their store. At least I’ve not tried to hand them a stained ‘70’s fondue pot or half of a yellowed doily. Plus, the responses on Craigslist and Freecycle are either polite and friendly, or they’re just colorful enough to make you snort and giggle. And, when I want to take a break from separating and cleaning? I’ve got four words for you: Coffee and Top Chef.

In the words of the beautiful, beautiful George Carlin, “Off you go…to Colorado!”

05 March 2011

Representative Bobby Franklin, Can I Have Your Baby? An Open Letter Toward Anti-Choice Douchbaggery

Dear Representative Bobby Franklin,

How did you date all the women in Georgia? Aren’t there, like, a lot of women in Georgia? Seriously, it’s a pretty decent sized state. And, from what I hear about them, some are pretty damn cute. You know, Southern Belle and all that. How did you get through them all? And at such a young age?

You did date them, right Bobby? I mean, you must have been personal with them at one point.

Because you seem to be really, really busy writing legislation about their peaches.

House Bill 1: “The State of Georgia has the duty to protect all innocent life from the moment of conception until natural death. We know that life begins at conception.”

This latin-fulled nugget of epic proportions must be your baby. Ha. Get it? I have to say, this is one of the most beautifully worded revocations of personal choice and human rights I’ve ever read. In fact, allow me to highlight my faves:

“…by deleting the words "an induced termination of pregnancy" and replacing
them with "a prenatal murder”…"

“…so as to provide that prenatal murder shall be unlawful in all events…”

What happens if I fall, Bobby? Or I was raped? What happens when John Boy up in those georgeous Georgia hills wakes up and yells “Hello, Blue Ridge Mountains, I’ve got a mighty pretty little sister and one set of webbed toes!”? John Boy’s sister must have wanted it, right? She couldn’t have been a casualty of perversion.

At least there’s a bit of reprieve here. Miscarriage doesn’t count. I mean, just “…so long as there is no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such event.” (Just when we thought the Medical Examiner on CSI couldn’t investigate anything creepier.)

Anyway, Betty Jo’s presumed lust for brother John dovetails nicely into your next Opus. Play it for me, Mr. Holland:

HB 14: A Bill to be Entitled-
Rape victims are not “victims”, but “accusers”. Oh, and who else aren’t victims? Children that pick up the phone to heavy breathers or foul mouthed pervs. People that have been stalked, whether it be regular old stalking, or aggravated. People that have been domestically abused. None of these people can be referred to as “victims” until the asshat that committed the “alleged” crime is convicted.

I’m beginning to sense a pattern with you, Bobby. I’m starting to think that maybe, just maybe, you think that rather than writing this, I should be keeping my filthy mouth shut and not thinking about Roe or Wade, while standing in front of the dishwasher in bare feet. You know, because then I’d be two thirds of the way into your warped domestic, crucifix encrusted, the-wife-is-the-helpmate suburban rung of hell. I’m also starting to think that you are harboring the conception that if something comes near my vag, it’s because I’m a big ole’ ho, and I wanted it there. Do you want a belay device, since my nether regions are so vast and cavernous that apparently, you can spelunk in them?

Detective Olivia Benson is crapping her pants right now, Bobby, and Ice T is ready to punch you in the face, talk about your mama, and then put you in a cell with Jorge the Jersey Man Lover. And I’ll only have four words for you when he woos you with his Shank ‘O Love, courtesy of the great Dan Akroyd:

“Bobby, you ignorant slut.”

24 January 2011

Can I Still Carry a Cute Trapper Keeper? (The Adult College Student)

There are a thousand things that make it inevitable, really.

Recently, my stepdaughter heard Yale mentioned on TV.
“What’s Yale?” She asked me.
“Well, Yale is a really good college. It’s one of those colleges you want to go to if you’re going to be a doctor or lawyer.” I answered.
“Oh, so really smart people go there?” She asked.
“Yes, usually. You could go to Yale, if you wanted.” I smiled.
“No, thanks. I just want to be a Mommy.” She twirled her hair. (No, she really did.)
“Well, you know lots of Mommies that are Mommies and do other things, like college and working.” I countered.
“Yeah, that’s okay. I just want to stay at home with my kids. I don’t want to work or anything.” She confirmed.

There the conversation paused, because it was at that point I learned (unfortunately) that I was out of all stomach acid reducing medication in my home had mysteriously misplaced itself.

This conversation sparked more thought that she’ll ever know. You can’t for ONE MINUTE tell me that woman at home vs. woman at work (with the exception of Ivanka) isn’t a learned behavior. The majority of her time and adult influences are not spent or gained at our house. Without trying to sound snide, draw your own conclusions.

Next up? A few days ago:
Husband: “So, do you want me to get out of the Army, or do you want to have another baby?”
Me: “I thought you were going to get out of the Army anyway.”
Husband: “I just think it’s more responsible if we’re going to have another baby, if I stay in and retire.”
Me: “You’re the one that brought having another baby to the table, and I got onboard. Now I have to choose?”
Husband: “Well, maybe you need to start looking at getting your degree again, so I we can have the baby and I don’t have to go on any more deployments.”

Yeah, you don’t need three box tops for the decode-r ring to figure out the underlying meaning in that conversation.

So I have these transferrable credits, right? The Army didn’t give me bunches, but they did provide me with about fifteen semester hours toward various culinary degrees. Good Eats, right?

My dad: “Putting a culinary degree on your resume and not working in that field looks like you wanted to cook, and then changed your mind.”
Me: “That seems fair.”
My dad: “English and Math degrees always get my attention on a resume. You could get an English degree standing on your head.”
Me: “Probably.”
My dad: “I thought when I went to college that I couldn’t study something that came easily to me, because it would make it less valuable. That was a dumb way to think.”
Me: “Yeah.”

So it was decided.

The inevitability seems to be this:

I want to have another baby. I want to make my husband proud. I want to be a financial supporting partner in this family, rather than being the “wife that works”. I want my daughter to look at me and see me as a role model because of accomplishments other than the child bearing variety. I want my sons to look at our life, and realize that joining an armed service isn’t the be all, end all. Or, if they are going to, that they at least begin through an Academy of sorts, rather than at an entrance processing station.

And I really, really want my kids to fill in the bubble on standardized testing that says their parents graduated college.

The true inevitability?

It’s all for them. They deserve everything we can give them, and they deserve our tireless efforts to be the best parents we can be.

Even if going back to school terrifies me.

23 January 2011

I Like Free Stuff, Too, But Damn... (I Think It's Time For A Flood)

Hello All! (Well, all four people who will read this, anyway.) I’ve been slacking on my blogging lately, I know. It’s just been busy in my ‘hood of late. So for my funny, ranty blog, you get another FoFree blog! And if this isn’t enough fun for you, later on I’ll light some sparklers and do some kicks.

“i am renovating a house and need a shower, a kitchen sink, cabinets, and carpet. im would love anything that is functional. thanks from 21921, elkton.”

See, here’s the thing…it doesn’t sound like you’re renovating a house. It sounds like you’re building one. You may want to rethink the reno…just for now. Maybe start with something small, like building a toybox or something.

“Toothbrush holder. 4 slots, one single rosebud decal. Fastest pickup gets them. State day and time in your email...all others will be deleted. “

Yeah, I know for sure I wouldn’t want to wait around for days and weeks on end for someone picking up my funky ass old toothbrush holder. I might respond, but only if the dentu-grip is still stuck in the bottom. But if I forget to put the date and time, I’ll certainly meet with the disappointment of being deleted. Shit.

“Offer: 6 pez dispensers. I know some people collect these. There is a which, a pumpkin, a panda, a lady bug, winnie the poo and cinderella. Must take all if you want any.”

What if I don’t have room for all six? What if I only wanted the which? (Witch which?) Does the lady bug have spots? Who the hell has a panda Pez dispenser?

Oh, and “winnie the poo”?


”i have a cockitail who ever wants it please contact me aslap i cant afford him anymore please let me knopw aspa i want him gone this wook hes on his last bit of food my jamie i want him gown before with in the next day ty “

Holy shit, dude.

”My mother in law would love to have another ferret and I was hoping to have one for her for Christmas we would also need the cage and accsoroes for it she would also love to have another female kitten with extra toes! Your help would be much appreashiated! Thank you all again! Have a happy and safe holidays!



Amanda, I absolutely understand your want to please your mother in law. But before you take the path to Chernobyl to find these animals, might I suggest finishing third grade? Also, stop wishing kittens to have extra body parts. I'm pretty sure that people who wish kittens to have extra parts have a special rung in hell. That’s a BIRTH DEFECT, you fucking idiot.


”HEllo... Does anyone have something I can mix cement in? “

I hear my jamie’s cage will be free soon.

“I have a box of 8 track tapes that have been in storage forever. Haven't had an 8 track player in years.”

You don’t say.

”I am looking for a mini horse for pet”

Oh, good. As long as it’s for a pet. If you were looking for a mini horse to play Gulliver, I might worry.

”I have a little lady that is in need of a ride to hockey practice. if someone is involved in the ****** **** high school field hockey and is going past south queen st and has room i will pay for gas?? thanx for reading”

Also, thanks for kidnapping my little lady. They should do a Sixty Minutes on this broad, and then call Child Protective Services. At least you can’t call her a cheapskate. She is willing to pay for gas.

“I Just got a new puppy for my boyfriend and i am looking for supplies such a toys, crate, or leashes or collars for him, thanks”

Girlfriend, didn’t the checker stop you at PetSmart? Did she tell you that real puppies aren’t like the cute, battery operated back flippy puppies? Did you at least get food? And the food is going to need a bowl. Oh, make sure you water it. Shit, that needs a bowl, too. If you go to buy two bowls, you’re going to need your wallet. Oh, you might need a car. Jesus, it’s like an MC Escher painting. There’s no beginning or end.

Why Should Raising Your Kid Require A Battle Hymn?

Is it just me, or does “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” media infection set your nerves on edge?

Now, I don’t mean to be judgemental, I just have a bit of a hard time understanding the lifelong personal benefits of “Old World Discipline”. We’re pretty progressive ‘round these parts. So progressive, in fact, that when my sick kid balked at his pancakes this morning and wanted a lollipop, I gave it to him. Quit judging me. I bet you put syrup on your kid’s pancakes. I was just smart enough to cut out the carbs and maple flavored handprints on my IKEA couch.

Recently, my husband came home from work and warned me:

“If you’re in the PX or Commissary and the boy acts up, don’t discipline him. The Army is going around posts making sure that people aren’t abusing their children. If you swat him or yell in public, I can get in trouble at work.”

Is there a happy medium here? Up to what point is appropriate and “effective” child rearing a matter of personal, familial, or cultural opinion? Should my slapping my kid’s hand in the grocery store for screaming and grabbing candy be a “punishable” offense? And, if yes, who should be made punishable? Assuming I am a lollipop giving, hand slapping harpy, why should my husband be reprimanded for having the misfortune of having children with me?

While it’s clear that this woman is pleased to be at an educational and social stature that she views to be both intellectually and socially superior, I can’t help but feel that she’s lost out hugely. Not only as a mother, but also in the simple joys of life. I’m sure that saying I find a published, accomplished Yale professor “pitiable” will highlight me as slightly ignorant. I mean, I have no college education, I have yet to be published on anything other than public forums (and am the only one doing the publishing), and my children do not yet excel at anything other than dancing and singing raucously while making a gigantic mess. Despite those points, I wouldn’t trade my son running up to me and hugging me as tightly as his tiny arms allow, for no reason that I can see. I can’t imagine my stepson not wanting to color or read with me, snuggled on the same IKEA couch. I think I might fall apart without my stepdaughter wanting to cook with me, or spend time simply hanging out and talking.

Obviously, being pushed to be “stereotypically successful” can be sporadically beneficial. But at what cost? Does this person think this is fair for her children? How many times have you heard of the criminal and derelicts “they weren’t hugged as children” or “those are ‘mommy’ issues”? Is hearing your kid flawlessly fingering Mozart or Basie (assuming they are allowed to have fun once) a fair trade for the child/parent relationship?

Before you get too worked up, this is not a book review. To be honest, I have about as much intention to read this book as I have to read…well, anything else with the word “hymn” in the title. I have a bit of a hard time finding it acceptable to equate a culture knows for it’s strictness to marketed child abuse. While I’m sure it can be rewarding watching your child excel so immensely at a task, I find it counterproductive to society as a whole to publicly laud the berating and emotional beating of our loinfruit.

I suppose that if your goal is to raise the prodigal child (and possible subject matter expert on the Triad of Sociopathy), then the “Battle Hymn” is an acceptable route.

Me? I’ll take cupcake baking messes, hugs, and explaining what “Under the name of Sanders” means. But, then again, my kid shakes his ass to Count Basie and Drowning Pool.

What are you gonna do?