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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanks for Thanksgiving... original, eh?

Well, tomorrow is Turkey Day. And although I really get tired of seeing the daily posts on FB announcing what you're thankful for, I figure that I can get them all out here.

First, the sappier stuff:

I am thankful for my mother.
The woman brought me into this world and she's never left my side. She's there when I need her and there when I don't. And even though we don't see eye to eye much, she's my biggest supporter.

I am thankful for my husband. Seriously, the man is my rock. He calms me when I need it and makes me laugh when I'm down. And without him, I'd either be in jail for maiming someone or an asylum for going absolutely bat-shit crazy.

I am thankful that my kids are sweet and loving and not heathens. The fact that other moms comment on how well behaved they are in public is something that helps me sleep at night. It's far better than being the mom that people side-eye in the grocery store.

I am thankful for my sister/BFF. No matter how long it's been since our last visit, it's like we just pick up where we left off when we reunite. I know that I can tell her anything... even the stuff that other people would judge me for and laugh.

I am thankful for my nieces. They make me laugh so much and are such sweet girls. Watching them grow up has been a pleasure and some of my best memories feature them. They make me feel loved and wanted even when I feel like the rest of the world would like to see me leave.

I am thankful that even though I've had back surgery and my back is tricky.tricky.tricky, I am in good health. Hell, I'm thankful that I'm alive.

I'm thankful that I get to see the world through the eyes of my kids and that makes me stop and pay more attention. My kids aren't old enough to be jaded and seeing things through their eyes is fun.

I'm thankful that I alive right now, to see change happening. (The good stuff, like legalizing same sex marriages.) It's about time, you know?

I'm thankful for the roof over my head, even though I hate my house. Even though we are living on top of each other, I know we have it better than a lot of other people.

And now for the stuff that isn't sappy:

I'm thankful that I have websites like Pinterest to make me feel like I might actually be able to achieve craft nirvana. Although I realize that pinning it does not equal doing it.

I'm thankful for IMDb for being there to help me figure out why I know "that guy", the guest star, on my shows each week when my mind goes blank. One website can clear up my brain farts.

I'm thankful that I finally nailed a recipe for cornbread dressing. I was beginning to think someone would come to revoke my southern membership card if I didn't perfect it... it's kickass good.

I'm thankful that I mastered how blinkers work and have the ability to use mine without thinking. Apparently, that knowledge is sparse in this country.

I'm thankful that now that we homeschool our kids, my laundry duties are once a week. Although, I still have a hard time remembering to get the clothes back out of the dryer within 48 hours.

I'm thankful that I married a man who doesn't expect me to make dinner for all of us each night. Then again, I would have never married a man that expected that of me anyway.

I'm thankful that life really isn't as hard as it's made out to be in infomercials. Seriously, calm down and use the product right and you won't need a new gadget. It's a hanger, not rocket surgery.

I'll catch up with you all again on Monday.
Have a great Thanksgiving! Eat too much and take plenty of naps.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Black Friday is almost here...

.... and I won't be anywhere near a mall.

I have absolutely no urges to line up hours before a store opens or wake up at some ungodly hour to score a television set or a blender. I don't need these things. And if I did, I'd catch them on sale on a day where people aren't beating each other to death for the last one.

It's always struck me as strange that a day after everyone is gathered around a table claiming that they are thankful for what they have, the next morning they are in the stores buying more stuff.
And let's be honest... a lot of people shop for themselves, not their loved ones or friends.

I went out on Black Friday ONE TIME and that was enough for me. And even then, I didn't actually get to the mall until almost 8 am.
Why did I go?
I was promised breakfast at Shoney's by my then-boyfriend's mom if I went with her.
And I'm not about to pass up a buffet full of crispy bacon. (Plus, I loved that woman.)
I just wasn't impressed with most of the deals and people were rude as hell. Not to mention, the employees definitely were not in the Christmas spirit.

As a rule, I don't go to the mall unless I have to go to the mall. I'd rather go to Old Navy, which is normally on the perimeter of the mall or in a strip mall.
OR I hit up Zappos or Amazon. Between those two online stores, you really don't need to leave the house.

Normally by now, I have all the presents for my kids under the tree. Yup, all of them. Wrapped. But now that we homeschool the kids, it's a tad harder to go shopping for them since they are with us while shopping.
Fear not, I will get them... and go nowhere near the mall or anything related to a Black Friday sale.

How about you? Do you partake in the craziness of Black Friday?

Monday, November 25, 2013

There's tights... and then there's leggings.

Genie, the people that brought you the Genie Bra, want to give you Slim and Tone Leggings.

Can I just say.... no.
From the commercial, that's some shiny ass material and they look like tights.
You don't wear tights with just a shirt or sweater. You wear skirts. Or pants. ANYTHING.

Leggings are thicker and still make me uncomfortable.
Not since the 80's when we wore shirt clips have I worn leggings in public with a shirt or sweater only. And I refuse to go back to the fashion of that decade. Music and movies, yes. Fashion? Hell no.

The Slim and Tone Leggings use "comfortable compression". You know, compression usually ends up anything BUT comfortable. You might as well wear Spanx and wait for your spleen to pop out of your nose.

I can't. I just can't. The commercial made me want to laugh, vomit, and scratch my head at the same time. Sadly, it wasn't as bad as my first reaction to Pajama Jeans.

Go to their website, scroll down, and watch the commercial.

You tell me.... are those leggings or tights?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Hell House

A couple of years ago, my husband and I purchased a falling down house with intentions to restore it and sell it. You know, flipping.

And for a little while, we were making progress. But then we hit a snag when building a loft bed for Button led to redoing our kitchen and floors. Yes, we made our home more livable before fixing up a house that we don't live in. It's the only reason I have any sanity left at this point.

Here we are two years later with the house from hell.

Last winter, we sort of didn't do much renovation over there. Okay, we barely went by the place at all. And now, we are paying for that... literally.

A pipe burst last winter and water went everywhere. Since the furnace flooded out, the water froze... all over. The living room was a sheet of ice. The walls did soak up some water but thankfully, the ice slowed the process. With a few machines to rid the house of the moisture, we were left with no water but a hell of a lot of clean-up.

We had to tear down every wall in the living room, all the walls and ceilings in one upstairs bedroom, and part of the kitchen ceiling. The furnace was replaced already and after a service call to the heating peeps and the gas company, the heat is working just fine.
(The heat was fine earlier in the year but this winter, there was a snag. We spent a few hours over there Monday and we damn near froze. No heat in Minnesota heading into winter. My toes were icicles and I was miserable.)

No, we aren't happy.
Yes, I felt like I was drowning when I saw the work ahead of us.
No, we will not give up.

It's sort of a blessing in disguise, if you look at it the right way.
The old walls were disfigured in some places (too many patch jobs over the last 96 years). At least once we are done, they will all match and look great, which equals more money when we finally get the house on the market.

Here's the living room. Isn't it beautiful?
Button is smiling but feeling our pain

And here's the beautiful kitchen!

The one thing that I got done the other day before the temps bottomed out and the snow fell:

The Vine from Hell at Hell House:

For over an hour, I clipped and cut and pulled and fought that damn thing. Button was awesome and collected the remnants and piled it all up for me, never complaining one time. She actually enjoyed it. (Although I'm pretty sure what she enjoyed was helping me, which makes me happy... and babbling while working.)

The Vine met it's death:


The Vine tried to kill the fence but the fence only ended up slightly wounded. With a little pulling and reshaping up top, the fence will live a longer life than The Vine intended. (And now that it's clear, we can get that damn sign off of it. No clue where that came from and when. It was on it when we bought the house.)

It's going to be a loooong winter. And the house will take a little while to fix, too.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Careful: Don't defend some while screwing over tons of others

Warning: Rant ahead. Proceed with caution.

Recently, there have been a lot of posts on Facebook complaining/ranting about the fact that some of the retail stores will be open on Thanksgiving this year.

I've seen people urging their friends to go nowhere near these stores because it's so wrong/mean/capitalistic to make people work on Thanksgiving. And I can see where some people might feel this way.


Have the people pushing for the empty stores actually thought about what they are saying?
If you are one of those people, or even if you're like me and didn't get all in a tizzy about it, read carefully.

If you are going to boycott the stores simply because making someone work on Thanksgiving is wrong, then you might want to think of alternatives for certain situations that may arise:

1) On Thanksgiving while you are making your feast for your family, if your power goes out....deal with it by stopping what you are doing and making a PB sandwich. Why?
Because if you call the power company, who do you think is going to answer that call?
That's right... the person having to work ON THANKSGIVING simply to answer your calls.

Also, who do you think will be dispatched to fix the power? A robot?
Nope. The people on call ON THANKSGIVING. The people that had to leave their family dinner to make sure that you have the dinner you want to have.

2) If your family is gathered around to watch the football game that night and your cable or dish goes out... deal with it by enjoying the company around you. Why?
Who do you think is answering your call at the cable or dish company?
That's right... the people at the company that have to work ON THANKSGIVING in case you have a problem with your television service.

Also, who gets called to fix it if the lines are down? Is it always done remotely?
Nope. The people on call ON THANKSGIVING. The people that have to leave their family dinners to make sure that you get to watch the game.

3) Speaking of the football game... who is at that stadium that night? Just the fans?
Nope. The concession people, security, event staff, janitors, television crews, announcers, etc. are all there ON THANKSGIVING.

4) When you have to leave the house to visit your in-laws or own parents or other family, don't stop for gas. Why?
Because that guy or girl working in the gas station ON THANKSGIVING is there in case you need gas to get around instead of staying home... or maybe filling up the day before.

5) If you have to fly to your holiday destination, make sure that you arrive before Thanksgiving. (Cross your fingers for no layovers or canceled flights the day before.) Why?
Because the airports are open ON THANKSGIVING. TSA, baggage handlers, security, flight attendants, pilots, food vendors, shuttle drivers, etc... they are all there for you while you are on your way to your fabulous Thanksgiving.

6) If you live in an area that can/will get snow on Thanksgiving, don't leave your home. Why?
Plow drivers are on call ON THANKSGIVING so that you can get to where you need to go.

7) Don't get hurt, set anything on fire in the kitchen, or get robbed or crash. Why?
Because police officers, EMT's, and firefighters are working ON THANKSGIVING because... well, they work every damn day of the year. How safe would you feel if they didn't?

8) Don't need immediate medical treatment. Why?
Do you think those nurses love having to work ON THANKSGIVING so that they can treat/tend to you when you do something to be admitted or taken to the hospital?

9) Don't wake up and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Why?
Sure, most of the entertainment is loving being in the parade... but what about the people busting their asses to make the parade happen, while having to work ON THANKSGIVING so that you and your kids are entertained?

10) If you burn your turkey or some other dish, deal with it by eliminating it from the menu. Why?
Some grocery stores have always stayed open ON THANKSGIVING so that if you have a mishap, you can fix it.

Not to mention, not everyone celebrates American holidays. (And for those of you that just went all racial on me and started sputtering "well, this is 'Merica and if they don't like our holidays, they should go home"... I pity you. Go away.)

Some folks are without family and spend the holidays alone. Every. Single Year.
Go to a local hole-in-the-wall bar on Thanksgiving or Christmas and see how many people are drinking to forget that they are alone in the world.

Some folks cannot stand being home all evening after an entire day with their families and maybe they want to get out.

Before you start taking it personal that other people might have to work on the holidays this year, stop and think. How many people are you causing to work on the holidays this year?

K... rant over.
Is it time for turkey and dressin' yet?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The 10 films you should have already seen

These days, we have so many ways to watch movies.
Gone are the days that you had to go into a Blockbuster and then deal with a huge late fee penalty when you inevitably forget to return the VHS on time. (Don't act like you don't know about the late fees.)
Gone are the days that all of the new releases were out of stock at Blockbuster and you had to wait until someone finally got tired of racking up a late fee and returned the tape.

We've got Netflix.
We've got Red Box.
We've got movies available on Kindle and Nook.
We've got the iTunes store.

So with all of those options, some of them free (especially older movies), why haven't you put more effort into seeing these classic films?

1) Real Genius - 1985
When I first met my husband, I almost had a heart attack and died when he told me that he'd never seen this movie. I had to educate him.
Geniuses in college trying to score with chicks make a laser that can vaporize a human target from space. It's awesome. And it stars Val Kilmer.
And the end song is by Tears for Fears. Score!

2 ) The Wraith - 1986
A desert town run by car enthusiasts/gang is rocked by a futuristic car that no one has ever seen before. Soon, the gang's numbers are dwindling and it's getting mighty eerie. Love the 80's rock music in this one, especially Ozzy.
Charlie Sheen before he was 'winning'. Sherilyn Finn before "Twin Peaks".
And Randy Quaid during his time as 'Cousin Eddie'.

3) How I Got Into College - 1989
Marlon Brown and Jessica Kailo go through the hell that is getting into the college of your dreams. (Or for Marlon, getting into the college of his dream girl's dreams.)
Lara Flynn Boyle before we started seeing those pics of her sickly skinny body.
Anthony Edwards, after Revenge of the Nerds but before "E.R".
Tichina Arnold before she starred in "Martin" and "Everybody Hates Chris"

Come on, it's Christian Slater right after he tried to blow up Westerburg High with Winona Ryder in Heathers. It's about skateboarding, family, and making things right. TONY HAWK IS IN IT AND DRIVING A PIZZA HUT TRUCK!

5) Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael - 1990
Veronica Sawyer becomes outcast Dinky Bossetti and we feel for her. She just wants to be left alone and figure out if she was abandoned years ago by a teenage girl that her town worships all these years later. Featuring Jeff Daniels, Francis Fisher, and Needle Nose Ned!

6) Singles - 1992
I adore this movie. 20 somethings in Seattle trying to figure out life and love with a kick-ass soundtrack.
Kyra Sedgwick before she was kicking ass as "The Closer". Matt Dillon, Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, Jeremy Piven, and Campbell Scott with members of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden making appearances. How can you get better than that in one movie?

7) Indian Summer- 1993
Imagine going back to camp 20-30 years later and having nostalgia wash over you like a tsunami. 7 friends from the golden age of Camp Tamakwa are invited back by their old camp director, Uncle Lou. Each person is dealing with old ghosts and current life problems.
Diane Lane, Bill Paxton, Elizabeth Perkins, Julie Warner, and Kimberly Williams right after she captures our hearts in Father of the Bride.

8) Home for the Holidays - 1995
Claudia is going home for Thanksgiving after getting fired, making out with her boss, and worrying her daughter will give up her virginity. If you think your family is dysfunctional, you need to watch this. It could make you feel better.
Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Steve Guttenberg, Dylan McDermott, and Claire Danes after she made us all feel better about teenage angst as Angela on "My So-Called Life".

9) Hackers - 1995
Curiosity was their only crime.
This movie starred Angelina Jolie before we knew who Angelina Jolie was, before we knew what hackers could actually do with computers.
Plus, it stars my man Jonny Lee Miller, the star of one of my favorites shows on CBS, "Elementary".
And even though I usually hate techno, it has a kick-ass soundtrack.

10) Mother - 1996
I love Albert Brooks, as a writer and actor. And the Mother in this is Debbie Reynolds, whom you might recall was Grace Adler's mother in "Will & Grace".
Anyone that has ever had a problem communicating with their own mother should really identify with this film. The sense of humor is dry, the way that I like it.

What are you waiting for? Go download and get to watchin'!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's all in the enunciation

Growing up in Tennessee, I picked up habits involving the way I speak.
And those habits are not about to die, hard or any other way.

For fun, I thought I'd share with you how I say certain words and why every single time I speak to a cashier in Minnesota, I always get the "where are you from originally?" thing.

It depends on the situation.
Sometimes, if I am talking about a caramel apple, it comes out  as care-amel.
If I am talking about caramel sauce on ice cream, it comes out as car-amel

Look, I never claimed to be normal.

I have always called them pajamas, rhymes with llama.
Apparently this is common more in the south but still sprinkled around the north.

Again, it varies.
If I am talking about a handful of pecans, it comes out pah-cons.
If I happen to be talking about my dislike for pecan pie, it's then pee-can.

It either rhymes with root or gout.
I think the only time I use the word route and rhyme it with root is in reference to Route 66.
When I order a Route 44 sweet tea from Sonic, it's route-rhymes with gout.
If I'm in the car setting the navigation, it's always route-rhymes with gout.

I know, you're thinking "how in the hell can you pronounce that differently"?
Because when I say it, especially fast, it comes out as mah
Mah hair... mah eyes... mah car...etc.

Grandpa or Grandma:
This one caused my husband and me to almost roll across the floor laughing...at me.
Up in Minnesota, I here people (including my kids) say gram-pah. There's not an 'n' or 'd' in the word.
When I say either of those, it comes out as gra-maw and gra-paw.
Or at least I thought it did.
According to my husband, when I say 'paw' (as in my grandfather) it sounds like I threw an 'L' in there so he hears Paul or pall. Same with 'saw' but not with 'paw' as in a dog's paw.
Last night, I kept trying to say 'saw' without an 'L' sound. To me, I was saying it right and then couldn't stop laughing to talk at all.

Shopping cart:
It's a buggy. I don't ever/have never/will never call it a cart.
I actually did try for about a second and just couldn't do it.
My momma said it was a buggy so it's a buggy.

How about you? Do you say things in a different way that maybe sticks out where you live?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Minnesota, you're catching up... slowly

WARNING: This post contains information about unhealthy food/addictions and could possibly give you terrible cravings. Please proceed with caution.

Being from Tennessee, I am accustomed to certain restaurants, sit-down and fast food. So when I moved to Minnesota, I had to adjust my cravings for certain foods.

http://www.bojangles.com/       http://www.hardees.com/
For breakfast (when I don't care about healthy eating) I want a good biscuit.
No, not a McDonald's frozen biscuit.
I'm talking about a buttery, melts in your mouth, so good you wanna slap someone biscuit.
And the only 2 fast food places I know that serve that kind of biscuit are and Bojangles and Hardee's.

Just a note: You'll never catch me anywhere near Hardee's after breakfast is over. Not a thing on that menu appeals to me and their commercials make me want to simultaneously punch someone and vomit.

Sadly, the closest Bojangles to me, here in Minnesota, is back in Tennessee.
The closest Hardee's is over in St. Paul and I just don't want to deal with that kind of traffic for a biscuit, no matter how good it will be.

I do love an egg and cheese biscuit from Hardee's but I would walk across hot coals to get the same thing from Bojangles. Seriously, if you are EVER near a Bojangles location, GO EAT A BISCUIT.
And it's always Bo Time.

I have mentioned Krystal before in this post. It's good and it's cheap. Haha.
When I loved to Minnesota, I was introduced to White Castle.
And I swear, I did give it a chance. I mean, they made a movie about people going there so I thought I would be open minded.
Yeah, I don't prefer it at all.

My husband has tried both and he even says that Krystal is "like White Castle but better".
Low and behold, it seems that Rody Davenport Jr, the mind behind Krystal, visited White Castles while planning to open a burger joint and made notes about what he liked and then wanted to "make it better". Congrats, Mr. D. You did just that.

But hey, Minnesota is trying to win me over, slowly but surely.

When I first got here, the closest Sonic was in Iowa. Now, I love my Sonic but I'm not driving 4-6 hours away for some tots.
But within the first year of living here, there was one being built in St. Paul and I was in heaven. (The wait time the day of the opening was 1 hour and 45 minutes.)
Now there are 5 Sonic restaurants in the state.

And now, it appears that the state of Minnesota has opened in 5 Chick-fil-a's. (News to us last month. My husband saw an update by a friend talking about eating at one of them and he thought they had driven hours away to partake in the wonderful chicken nugget goodness. Google told him that we now have them, too.)

I started eating Chick-fil-a in the mall when I was growing up. And when I worked in the mall, I always craved it on Sunday... when they are closed.

Minnesota, you seem to be trying to to win my love with the unhealthy food.

But until I see a sign in the Twin Cities saying that it's Bo Time, my heart will never be truly yours.

Friday, November 15, 2013

My husband, the birthday man

The love of my life has circled the sun one more time.

I want to say Happy Birthday to the kindest, most loving man on the planet.

I have said to him, numerous times, that he is the only person I can be around for days at a time and not want to strangle. He makes me laugh and he is really the only person I feel that I can truly be myself around.

Before him, I was sure that only my mother could stand by me through my attitude problems, bitchy times, bad hair days, lazy days, and weight gain.

And then I met him and my life changed.

So in honor of his trip around the sun, these are a few of the reasons that I love my husband and hope that he has a day as wonderful as he is... or even better. (I could never list them all. It would be the longest post in history.)

1) He has a great sense of humor, even though there are times that his puns make us all groan.
Example: The kids had these little Polly Pocket things one year and one of the toys was on the kitchen table. The little doll was in this little bubble container that could hang on a belt loop. We were eating dinner and my husband looks down at it and says "if you kill someone with that dolls container, would you be an accessory to murder?". Yes, it made me groan in pain at the same time that I burst out laughing.

2) He's a wonderful father. He loves his girls with every ounce of his being. He never makes a decision without first thinking about how it will/might affect his kids. The kids absolutely adore him. He plays Disney Princess Chutes and Ladders with them. He has even let them dress him up in their tiaras and stuff, smiling the whole time. I wish my father was half the father that my husband is to our girls.

3) He makes me things. The latest thing was my jewelry display.
A few years ago when I went down south to visit family on my own, I came home to a surprise. He had built me a little table to put next to the couch and he made it all on his own, start to finish.
He built the table to fit perfectly next to my side of the couch. It has a cubby underneath in the front and both sections you see with the tile mosaic lift off and there is storage inside. I love it. And it's the only one in existence.

And then when I saw a Home Depot commercial around Christmas a few years ago and mentioned wanting to try and make the ornament frame featured, he looked up the commercial and he went to work building me my own frame.
I love this thing. It's one of my favorite Christmas decor items that we own. And I took great care picking out the ornaments and rigging them up to hang on the pegs.

4) He's a smarty. In high school, he was one of those kids that never did homework, might have napped in class, but still passed every test. Yeah, the kind of kid I hated in school. Hahahaha.
I feel like I learn something new everyday being with him.

5) He kills bugs. I could do it but I don't want to. That requires me to get closer to them than I'd like and well... I don't like to get that close. He is the official bug killer in our house and I am extremely grateful for that.

6) He always makes me feel pretty, or at least he tries to make me feel that way. I have horrible self esteem due to years of bullying but he does his best to get me to see the good things about myself, emotionally and physically.

7) He goes to the grocery store, alone. Do you know how much I love that he doesn't make me go? I HATE grocery shopping. He has even gone out to get butter when I was having a hell of a time attempting to make toffee one night. I was ready to scream and ran out of butter. And he comes up and kisses my forehead and says he'll be right back.  He went to the store to get more butter. I know, I  got lucky. :)

8) He's my best friend. I can tell him anything, even if it's something that I think I could be looked down on for thinking or judged for feeling. He lets me be me and I couldn't ask for more than that. He has never once tried to change something about me, even if that thing got on his nerves. He lifts me up when I'm down and once wrote about me, "and when she hurts, I can't breathe".

I hit the jackpot with my husband. I can only pray that my girls find someone later in life that is as wonderful as their father.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's the most wonderful/miserable time of the year

Why, yes... I do have my Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving. Every year.

I know. Some of you are the "decorate the day after Thanksgiving" people.
Yeah, I'm lucky if I can move the day after that feast. And if I do have any energy, I go into the kitchen and fix a plate of leftovers. Isn't that what you do?

And some of you are the "put up the decor on December 1 and down on January 1" people.
Since my birthday is December 1, I object.
There is no way I will be schlepping around boxes of ornaments and cussing a blue streak, tangled in lights on my birthday.

No, I am the "inside of the house gets decked out after Halloween" and "outside is done before the end of October" person.

Let me explain about the outside: (and no, they aren't actually on yet)
I live in Minnesota. That means that by the early part of November, I am in danger of freezing to death if I stand outside for hours hanging lights. Or at least have frostbitten extremities.
Monday, this week:

My husband and I usually put up the lights and stuff outside before Halloween, when it's still warm enough to stand out there for over an hour. But this year, we got a late start. We didn't do it before the October trip due to getting ready for the October trip. But they are up now and it's gonna be beautiful once we can turn them on.

And the inside? The tree went up Sunday night.
We rearranged our living room a few months ago and due to the new living room furniture configuration (which works so much better with the small space that we have) we couldn't put up our normal tree... the 7.5 foot tall, fat and wide tree that takes up half the living room. Instead, we found a 7.5 foot tall, slim and skinny tree and we put it up that night, mainly out of sheer curiosity. It looks great.

Having the decorations up makes me feel better about the impending doomsday arrival of snow. It already snowed a little and then melted. And I've lived here long enough to know that when it comes back, we'll probably be stuck with it until sometime in spring... like June. (Dark, frigid, and snowy. I'm in hell.) Then throw in my depression from leaving Manda, the twins, and my mom and you've got one emotionally exhausted lady.
The lights and decorations give me a little joy each day and the joy helps my winter mood.

Our new tree, the Mickey tree, with store bought and homemade Mickey ornaments:

Button's wreath, made by me (she chose the ornaments):

Peanut's wreath, made by me (she also picked her ornaments):

My wreath, which I have been in love with since I made it two years ago:

Our stockings and the ornament frame our whole family loves
 (my awesome husband made the frame):

All of these things make me feel happy, knowing that it's almost time to ride around looking at lights, eating Christmas feasts, and seeing the smiles on the kids on Christmas morning. I can almost forget that it's dark and frigid outside.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Back to reality

I moved to Minnesota a little over 5 1/2 years ago.
The worst part of leaving was knowing that I was leaving people behind, people that I love with every ounce of my heart.

I miss seeing my mom. And I want my kids to get to know their grandmother. (She was beyond thrilled when they officially became her grandchildren.) I miss going to lunch with her and talking about life. We have a weird relationship. We fight a lot and butt heads due to being so alike but she's always in my corner, no matter what I do or how bad I screw up.

My mother has told me (and it was confirmed by her mom a few times) that all she wanted was a baby girl. And she wanted the baby to be tall and not have red hair. (Check and check.) And since I'm an only child, I have always been in her vision... even when you think she's not looking.
Even at my age, I always want to call her when something is wrong or life seems to be twisting me into a pretzel. I miss her so much.

Manda is not actually my sister and the twins aren't really my nieces. I met them when the twins were only 7 months old. Manda and I quickly became friends and by the time the girls were around 1 and a half, Manda started calling me "Aunt Jaime".
The twins don't remember life before me and I cannot imagine a life without them.

Over 13 years later, Manda is the sister that I never had but always wanted. She has my back no matter what and I can talk to her about anything and never feel ashamed.
I learned so much about kids and being a mom by being with the girls and Manda almost daily when I still lived in Tennessee.

I saw the twins go from toothless, hairless little drooling machines with poopy diapers to 14 year old freshman, navigating the rough world of high school. (Sometimes, I still picture them back in the day, wearing their onesies and drooling on me while eating cookies.)

I only get to see all of them a few times a year and when I do, we seem to be trying to squeeze months at a time into one week. And the week never lasts long enough.
When it's time to come back 'home' to Minnesota, my heart begins to ache. (And it's not just the weather we are coming back to.) Many times as we are driving away from their house on the last night, I burst into tears and curse that I have to leave.

This year, we have only seen my mom 3 times and Manda and the twins twice. In June, we saw my mom for less than 24 hours passing through town. Back in August we saw my mom, the twins and Manda for a few hours on the way home from Hilton Head and then in October. It just wasn't enough.

We have been home less than a week and I already miss them so much that it takes my breath away when I think about them.
I miss going shopping with my mom and arguing over what I will never wear (usually the stuff she picks out).
I miss sitting with Manda drinking coffee, talking about whatever happens to come up.
I miss listening to the girls talk about high school and thanking god I am not in it anymore.
I love that as the girls get older, they understand a lot more (including dirty jokes).
And I miss Poopy. Their Weimaraner is 8 years old and he's spoiled rotten. (Manda's fault not mine. Nope. I had nothing to do with that. Not a thing.)

How could you NOT miss this face?

Leaving Tennessee to come back to Minnesota gets harder and harder to do each time.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How should I know what a fox says?

While visiting my family down south at the end of October, we attended one home football game, one band competition, and one away football game. For the away game, the band was paying tribute to their seniors.

Each section of the band dressed as a different animal: cows, ducks, foxes (seniors), zebras, etc.
The color guard decided to be peacocks and I got to make tutu's. Yay. Just kidding, I enjoyed it.

Manda, the twins, and I went to Joanne Fabrics and picked out some tulle for their no-sew tutus, which I knew how to make due to making one each for Button and Peanut a couple of years ago.
The skirts are pretty easy to make but 2 of the different colors of tulle had glitter and I'm pretty sure it's still on my tennis shoes.

Here's Noodle in her tutu, warming up:

And here's Bug, doing her warm-up:

The band did most of the normal show:

But towards the end, there was a twist. All of sudden, the all dropped their flags and instruments and went towards the home sideline and lined up, like this: sorry for the crappy pic, I only had the iphone with me

Over the loudspeaker, you could hear the song What Does the Fox Say? start to play and then the band started to boogie. (I had never even heard the song until the girls starting showing us the dance and talking about it. Yeah, I'm not in the loop.)

It was funny and the home side of the stands cheered pretty loud.

Manda and I were breaking it down in the bleachers when during a time out, Tom Jones' 'It's Not Unusual' began to play. And again a little while later when House of Pain's 'Jump Around' came on.
Good times. I love that she will be a complete idiot with me. That's true friendship.

We had fun and it wasn't freezing. Can't wait until next season!

Funnily enough, that week was my first introduction to 'What Does the Fox Say?' and the Saturday after the band did the dance, SNL had a skit featuring Kerry Washington doing a parody of the song.
And that song was stuck in my head for days.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Your mom... tricky.tricky.tricky.

The first Saturday of our trip down south was a blast from the past for me.

The twins are in color guard and the band was in a competition. I have been to band competitions before, back when I was one of them.

Hi, my name is Jaime and I was a 'band geek' for 2 years, 8th and 9th grade.

But I haven't been to a competition since I was IN a competition. So, I was really interested to see what had stayed the same/changed. And since my husband and kids had never been to a band competition, I knew it would be fun for them to see the other color guards and hear the bands.
(Manda is a fellow ex-band geek so she knew what was up.)

We had to drive a little over an hour south of their house to get to the stadium where the competition was being held. And thank GOD is was about 10 degrees warmer that night than the night before.

When we got there, we headed in to try and find a seat.
Um, I don't remember that many spectators at the competitions of my youth.
We ended up getting food and standing around the track and watching the other bands.

The twins were pros at competitions by then since they'd already been to 2 others this season (Grand Champion of the first and second place in the second one.)
We watched with rapt attention and cheered on the band and the guard, who did fabulous.

During the break between each band, there was an announcer doing "Shout-outs" for those people that paid to get one. And the announcer could not have been more monotone. Not Ben Stein bad, but close. That's were the title of this post came from... imagine hearing someone over the speaker ending a shout-out from "love, your mom" in an almost Ben Stein voice.
And I don't think I've heard anyone say "tricky, tricky, tricky" with that small of an amount of enthusiasm. But it made us laugh... and still is!(By the way, after that night and all of the tricky, tricky, tricky jokes, I have been singing RUN-DMC It's Tricky almost non-stop.)

After the performance, we went to stand in a loooong line to get the twins a t-shirt to commemorate the night. Sadly, it was a long line that moved sooooo slow. They were making the shirts right then and there with whatever design you chose. I think we were in line for half an hour.

BUT it gave a great place to view the college exhibition band that night which was great. And huge. That band had over 420 members!

When the awards were given out, we yelled pretty loud.
The twins band received 1's in every category and won GRAND CHAMPIONS!

We went out onto the field to meet the twins after the award ceremony was done and took tons of pics of them with their family and friends at the last competition of the year.

My four favorite kids, EVER:

The twins and their proud Momma:

The twins and me:
(I swear, I feel so short. How did they grow so much, so fast? I am 5'7''!)

Yes, I realize I am wearing sweatpants.

Can't WAIT until next football season when the twins will be sophomores (sob!) and the show and costumes are totally different.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Football, and flags, and frozen cheese.... Oh my!

Our trip to TN/GA started off with a great surprise and just got better. We had already driven to Scottsboro and hit up Unclaimed Baggage by midday and then we had to get to the field.

That first Friday we were there, the twins had their last home game of the season and we finally got to see their halftime show.

This is the first year the girls have been in color guard and I am SO proud of them. From practicing outside each day wearing their softball helmets to avoid head injuries to tossing those flags high on the field, they have improved so much!

This is from the beginning of the season, before we could get down to visit:

It was so great to see them perform. Sadly, the football team only won one game this year so the game wasn't that fun to watch. And it was SO cold.
And that may sound weird seeing as we were in GA, not MN... but the windchill was seriously around freezing that night. (Meanwhile in MN that night, in the 40's. Are you kidding me?!?) Whenever people down south ask about living where it's always freezing, I always respond the same: "Yes, it's cold but it's not like we sit outside in the frigid night for hours."
Well, that's pretty much what we did.

We sat through the first half and halftime. Peanut and Button LOVED seeing their cousins out there and were so happy, other than the fact that Peanut was shivering. During the 3rd quarter, we got up to get food and I swear it cold colder the more we were up walking around. My nachos and cheese? 30 seconds after buying them my cheese felt like it just came out of the FRIDGE.

We spent the last quarter in the car thawing out. (It didn't last long. They used the mercy rule and let the clock tick away.)

Then we hit up Steak-n-Shake after the game because that cold cheese did nothing for me.
Have you been there lately? If you go, get the Garlic Double Steakburger and prepare to almost die from food heaven.

By the time we got into bed that night, I barely remember turning off the lights.
And the next day was even better.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why yes, I would like to buy your lost clothing

Not long ago, I read about Unclaimed Baggage on Grasping for Objectivity.
I immediately called Manda and told her that on our trip down in October that we had to go there and see what we could find as far as deals.

Plus, I was really curious as to what all people pack and lose in their luggage.

I also knew that I wanted to find Weathington Park, which Rachel from Grasping for Objectivity wrote about in the blog linked above.

So on that first Friday of our trip down south, 5 of us headed to Scottsboro.
(Manda was off that day due to our arrival but the twins were at school.)
 My husband and my girls were with us on our pilgrimage to the shopping destination.

When we were in route, just miles from Unclaimed Baggage, we all happened to look off to the left as we were atop Sand Mountain in Section, Alabama. I ended up jerking the car into the entrance to Weathington Park at the last moment.
And what we saw was beautiful.

The sun was out which made the wind more bearable. (That wind sucked.)

Here are my husband and Peanut on the bluff:

My husband and Button:

And then we have Manda and me.
But first, an explanation:
Two years ago when we were down south visiting for the twins birthday, we all went to Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain. Out of the 5 of us (me, my husband, Manda, Bug, and Noodle) only I had ever been to the Falls. I went once as a kid and then worked there in college.

We all had photos taken together at the Falls and when Manda and I looked at ours, we started to refer to it as 'our moment under the Falls'. That was 2 years ago and we still joke about it.

Our Moment Under the Falls, 2011:

And since a photo had been taken of Noodle and her boyfriend recently from behind when they are holding hands, we felt the need to incorporate that into our moment on the bluff. (Cause we are just not normal people. Normal is boring.)

Our Moment on the Bluff:

And as for Unclaimed Baggage... wow.
People put a lot of stuff in their luggage.
Stuff you couldn't pay me to put in my luggage.
Cell phones, iPads, iPods, NICE cameras, jewelry.... that  goes in CARRY ON LUGGAGE.

But the clothes. Oh, the clothes.
We found a scarf for Noodle, a pair of jeans for Manda, a pair of almost never worn Brooks tennis shoes for Manda (usually about 100 bucks a pair or more), 2 shirts for me, and 3 scarves for me for right at 100 bucks. Yes, all that for the price of a brand new pair of tennis shoes.

 The light blue on the right is 100% cashmere. The one on the left 
had the actual Limited tag still on it, brand new.

The shirts:
This one is from Express and still had the tag on it. Express marked it at 32 bucks 
and I got it at UB for 15. Not bad for a brand new shirt.

 I think I got this one for less than 5 bucks.

I was amazed at how much stuff still had the original tags. I guess people like to shop on vacation.
But can you imagine how irritated you'd be getting home and finding that shirt you bought, the one you fell in love with, was gone?
While we were there, they unpacked a new bag of kids clothes. Most of the stuff in it still had tags on the clothes, tags like Aeropostale and Banana Republic.

We saw a pair of Manolo's on the shelf for less than $200. I know enough about those to know that's a steal if they are your size.

We are going back on our next trip and taking the twins this time. I think Noodle might blow up when she sees the amount of scarves in that place. And if Bug's head doesn't spin around at the amount of clothing on those racks, I'll pass out.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I live to surprise people

So, I didn't mention our road trip to TN/GA before leaving for one reason:
I love surprises.

My twin nieces knew we were coming into town but we always danced around the exact date of our arrival. I talked to them on FB leading up to the trip and always gave the answer "before the last game" when asked when we were coming into town... which was true.

The girls were expecting us right before Halloween and instead, we came into see them on the Thursday BEFORE Halloween.

Night one, we drove to Peoria, Illinois.
Day two, we were pretty much no nonsense about getting to their place in Georgia before they got home from color guard practice. And thanks to no traffic, we did just that.

We parked in the driveway and I stood right behind my car looking up the street, waiting to see their family car come over the hill. When I saw it, I started laughing because I saw 2 figures in the backseat writhing around like they were about to explode. Their mom told me that as they saw our van, one of the twins (Bug) started making her 'I'm excited' noise.
They couldn't get out of the car fast enough.

And oh, how I love seeing them smile like that.

But having them fly at me across the driveway is a little different than it used to be. They are only 14 years old and Bug is about my height while her sister Noodle is an inch TALLER than me. (I'm 5'7''!)
I swear, they almost knocked me on my ass.

When we all caught our breath, we told them how long we were staying and what all we'd be doing with them. You'd have thought it was Christmas in October!

We spent the first evening in town at their house, catching up and laughing, and I got to see my neph-poo, General aka. Poopy G.
And of course we had to get something to eat and as per usual on our first night down south each trip, we hit up Krystal. (Think White Castle but soooo much more yummy.)

I wish I had a photo of the twins when they saw us but alas, I actually dropped my phone when they pulled in because I was dancing a jig. :)

But I do have this wonderful pic of Poopy and Noodle:

Yes, he will sleep on anything/anyone.