Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Grey Bear Can Do (Primarily for Grandparents)

So I thought I'd give all of the grandparents, cousins, great-aunts, and well-wishers an update on what all my Grey Bear has learned to do at this point in his pudgy life.

                   (DJ Grey Bear, spinning tunes.)

He can get around child-proofing:

The first example is the (*ahem* not quite up-to-code) child-proofing we have done in our bathroom.  First, please know, he is NEVER in the bathroom without supervision.  (The 'Vaseline Eating Incident' made quite sure of THAT.)  And generally he is only in there either when I am bathing 2 feet away, or is being bathed himself.  So he's really quite safe, I can assure you.  I SAY all this because the only childproofing we've done in this bathroom is to make CERTAIN we keep the toilet lid down, and to tie ponytail holders (It's ghetto.  I know.  Stop judging me.) around the knobs of our cabinets, thus ensuring that they can only open about 3/4 of an inch.  The REAL issue in this room of the house is the bathroom drawers.  In the bottom one, we keep miscellaneous medical products: medical tape, gauze, tubes of Neosporin and Hydrochortisone creme, and individually wrapped Tylenols, etc.  (*I* can't even open those Tylenol without scissors.  So if HE manages to get one opened, I'm going to make every effort I can to get him enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.)  In the second drawer we house all manner of my girlie things: a hand mirror, the Vaseline, makeups, lotions, etc.  And the top drawer holds toothpaste, tweezers, stuff like that.

So whether he is on-foot, or in his walker, he is at the perfect height to reach at least 2 of the 3 drawers.  And his favorite activity is to carefully take every item out of the drawer, inspect every item carefully ('carefully' here, meaning: 'using his mouth'), and then return it to said drawer.  And we had been letting him do this, as he wasn't able to get the lid off of the toothpaste, or the little sample bottles of shampoo, or anything else.

This week we've had to reassess our stance on bathroom drawer item safety completely.  He CAN get the lids off now.  Off of EVERYTHING.  The almost-empty tube of toothpaste that he LOVES to chew on?  No more.  He figured out how to flip up the lid, and will just roll around sucking Crest all DAY if you'll let him.  The travel sized bottle of Herbal Essences Conditioner?  No can haz.  Because he will twist off the top, and then run (crawl at top speed) away from you while he attempts to suck in every tasty drop before he is inevitably captured and the fabulous prize is removed from his sticky hands.

In the kitchen, where the cabinets (most of them, anyway) actually ARE childproofed, he has discovered that if he is patient enough, he can shove his arm in the tiny crack until he hits something.  This week what he hit was the clear plastic utensil set that we kept in case of outdoor barbecue.  They are forks, knives and spoons, and they are ALL CLEAR.  So what we know is this:  All of the utensils are now gone.  What we need to know is:  Where have they gone?  Because they are CLEAR, YA'LL!!!  It's like we have charmed, invisible objects, most CERTAINLY scattering our home, and yet we can see none of them.  (I really must put on my glasses today and attempt to locate at LEAST a few.)

He can clap, wave, high-five, and point:

If you hold your hands flat, facing him, he will slap them back, in a functional, if not "street legal", high five.  We plan on teaching him an awesome handshake very, VERY soon.  He waves all the time now, but at the moment it appears his waves mean both "Hello" AND "Bye-bye."  (Much like the Hawaiian "Aloha".)  And he claps and points to get what he wants, and to crack us up. 

Example:  He desires Cheez-Its.  They are kept in the pantry.  He rolls into the kitchen and points at the pantry until we open it.  Once open, he points at the Cheez-Its on the top shelf.  You remove the Cheez-Its from the top shelf and he begins clapping.  He claps until you give him a few.  HOORAY!!!  She understood me!!!  At which point he rolls away, mission accomplished, with 4 Cheez-Its in one hand and two clear plastic forks in the other.  So. . . technically. . . I guess that means that he started eating WITH utensils at 13 months old.  Dear LordHe's a GENIUS!!!!!

He's a Cat-Chaser:

THIS is his FAVORITE activity to date.  He prefers to chase them on foot (read: knees), around EVERY corner of the house.  He LOVES them.  Unfortunately, he believes them to be great friends.  Sadly --- this friendship is entirely one-sided.  Still, he has not given up on striking up a great and lasting friendship with BOTH cats.  Muscles, to date, has been fairly patient with Grey in his endeavors.  EVEN when Muscles has been cornered in the kitchen and is being subject to Grey's adapted form of petting. . . which really just consists of the cats being smacked in the face repeatedly, in what I can only assume is the Grey Bear's attempts to be gentle.  Either that, or he is showing them who's boss every chance he gets.  Ash Ferley, on the other hand, is NOT amused by these attempts at friendship.  I have still yet to determine if Ash is simply terrified of the baby, hates him with a passion, or simply does NOT care for children.  He's a hard cat to read. . .

As for other Recent Grey Bear accomplishments, he has grown VERY fond of taking WHATEVER he can find and throwing it in the bathtub.  Only when someone is currently bathing in said tub, naturally.  

It makes for an interesting bath experience to say the least.  At this point, nearly every member of our family has bathed with:  clean clothes, Teddy Grahams, Ritz crackers, toothpaste tubes, Desitin tubes, and the occasional package of GasX (bottom drawer, you know) just for good measure.

So, to wrap up, he is:

Growing fast.

Showing QUITE an affinity for felines, even if said affinity is NOT reciprocated.

A veritable Bathtub Bandit, the scourge of the Bathroom Seas.

May possibly be showing signs of being either a genius, or a wizard.  (I truly believe he conjured up a Pixie Stick for himself last week using nothing but witchcraft and pure force of will.)

More news as events warrant.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Have GOT to Learn to Stop Taking Pinterest Personally. . .

I am not a "bandwagon" type of girl. 

(That's something you should just know about me from the start.) 

I never run right out and buy the newest or most efficient gadget or device (I prefer to let others do the Beta-testing, then I'll pick one up in 6 months, when they're 50% cheaper and come in 8 different colors), and, to my knowledge, I have NEVER been on the cusp of any new trend.  As a matter of fact, 'new trends' tend to smack me rather un-gently in the face, generally several months after everyone else on the planet has become aware of them.  And it always comes as such a surprise to me!  One day I'm out grocery shopping or running errands, minding my own business, and suddenly it dawns on me that everyone ---and I do mean EVERYONE--- around me is wearing neon-yellow hoodies with purple-puffy running shoes.  And I always do a slow 360 degree turn, examining the people around me, and then there's this flash of clarity that comes, and I'm all:  "Hmph.  I guess that's what people are doing now."

The only exception that I can think of to this rule is that brief, beautiful period in the the 90's when the "grunge" look had its little fling with fashion.  I was ALL OVER IT. 
. . . You mean to tell me that I get to wear combat boots, soft, ripped jeans and flannel, and put no effort into my appearance whatsoever, and people will consider me hip?!?  WHERE DO I SIGN?  Ahh. . .  I held on to that trend with both hands for as long as I possibly could.  (Just for the record, if wearing your bathrobe or pajamas in public, or as work attire, ever becomes fashionable then you can all just write me off right then and there, because you will probably never again see me in a pair of actual pants.  And these yoga-chicks, with their soft, stretchy pants, shirts, and insanely comfortable footwear are SO CLOSESeriously ladiesYou are SO close!  Take the next step already!!!  It's called evolution!!)

Another good example of this tendency of mine to completely ignore whatever is currently taking the world by storm is facebook.  Though now it feels as if I have had a facebook account FOREVER, my husband actually had to MAKE me start one.  (I was still on Myspace.  I felt like I wasted enough time on the computer already, and really didn't feel like I was missing out on anything.  Then he starts with the peer pressure, and the "everyone's doing it". . . good thing it was just facebook and not crystal meth.  He was VERY convincing.)  So I've had a facebook account for years now.  I probably started mine right after your Mawmaw figured out "the emails", and her grandson started a facebook account for her and showed her how to use it, so she could log on and keep up with her "babies."

What I'm saying here is that I am roughly as hip as anyone out there's Mawmaw, and I always have been.  It's a character trait, and most probably a flaw.  But, as flaws go, I have much larger and more obnoxious ones to work on, so this one will probably be put on the backburner. 

Where I will probably forget about it until the day I die.

At which point I will be buried in a pine box.

(When EVERYONE knows that the most fashionable material for burial implements of the time comes in Oak.)

So when this whole "pinterest" thing hit, as I'm fairly certain you can guess by now --- I completely ignored it.

People would mention it, and I would sip my coffee and be:  Pinterest.  Hmmm. . .  Yes.  Yes, of course.  That was He-Man's home planet, was it not?  Pass the scones, please.  

(Another thing you should probably know about me is that when I am having conversations in my imagination, we are ALWAYS eating scones.  If you ever show up to my subconscious, it would just be polite to bring some.)

And I would receive those blank, mildly-amused stares that tell me when people don't know if I am joking around, or am actually less socially aware of what is going on in the world, than some child in Zimbabwe that lives in a hut with a dirt floor.  (NOT that there is anything wrong with dirt floors.  My ancestors grew up on them, and they were GENIUS in their own way.  Less to clean, you know:  Wash the walls, the counters, the kids. . . you're done!  Brilliant in its simplicity, really.)

So the pinterest thing happened and I was left in the dust, basically, and I did not care at all. 

Then. . . I start seeing people posting their Pinterest Projects on facebook. . .

And they're REALLY cute!  (Or cool, or nifty, or thrifty, or time-saving.  You get the idea.)  And I begin to think:  I HAVE Elmer's glue!  I could so totally DO THAT!!  Then my friends begin posting about ---literally--- how pinterest has changed their lives.

So. . . it's going to change my life, and it's NOT P90X (I hope I got those letters and number right, because it COULD be Z72Georgia.  I admit to only having a passing acquaintance with the system) and I can do it by using things I already have around the house?  . . . I guess. . .  why not?

'Why not,' indeed.

Seriously.  I hope you're all seeing how very much this is making Pinterest seem like crystal meth.  Am I the only one who sees this?!?  You start off with facebook, and it's your "gateway site," and then people start turning you on to OTHER sites that do more and offer more, and before you know it you're sitting on your computer all day long, repinning this or that but never actually having the time to DO ANY of it, and your ass is the size of a Jeep Cherokee.  (Also: "gateway site."  I just coined that term.  It's mine.  Don't use it.)

So.  I got on the Pinterest.

And you should probably feel more than a little intimidated by me now, because I don't mind telling you:  I know how to do EVERYTHING.

You need to paint your own furniture in charming ways, but first need to strip off the hideous finish that it came with?

I can help with that.  Let me just pull up that little pin.

Need to know how to bind your own books?

I gotcha covered.

Want to crotchet a tea-cozy for your Honda Civic, but you're unsure about about what gauge needle to use?

I'm sorry.  I never learned to crotchet.  However, I DO have a lovely instructional pin saved, and I'm sure it will show you everything you need to know in a clear, step-by-step manner.

This is not to say that ALL of my time on pinterest has been wasted.  Oh, not at all.  (I'd say probably only 84% - 85% of my time was wasted.  And that's a generous percentage.)

I HAVE had a few glowing successes.

There's the old, grubby cookie sheet that I spray-painted to look like a field, and then put all of our little dinosaur magnets on.  That turned out okay.  And the baby and Padawan LOVE playing with it.  I mean, sure, I'm giving the children pieces of rusty old metal coated in chemicals to use as play-things, but who DOESN'T do that these days??

There's the dry-erase board for "notes" that I made using just a sheet of attractive scrapbook paper, an 8 x 10 picture frame, and some dry erase markers.  IT is still hanging on our living room wall!  =)

(. . . with Michael's work-schedule from some random, but very busy, week this past July written on it, but STILL!  It's written with dry-erase markers!  I can erase it ANY time I want!!)

I DID learn how to make my own Febreeze, which has turned out to be a WONDERFUL development in my life.  I had been making my own stuff using essential oils.  Fabric softener in MUCH cheaper.  (And virtually the only reason we buy fabric softener any more.)  I go a little nuts with the stuff.  Walking around the house, spritzing everything that looks like it even MIGHT be covered in fabric. . . all the while thinking:  Sure, it smells nice.  But do I actually FEEL like I am in a fresh, windswept meadow?  Is it making me believe it?  . . .better spray some more. . .

I made what ended up being a passably cute wreath for our front door, using just some old fake flowers and a dollar store wreath, and a cardboard "T" cut from a Huggies box and covered in yarn.

I got halfway through that project before I realized that I would need to hot-glue the yarn to the cardboard to get it to stay. 

And so I did.

And with all of the warnings out there about weapons I find it hard to believe that every glue gun on the planet ISN'T stamped all over with the words:  ARE YOU SURE?  BECAUSE THIS IS GOING TO HURT.

(They say some scars never heal.  So far, the unfading dots that came from the magma-hot glue on my fingertips would seem to bare this out.)

Plus side:  If we ever have a home invasion, and roughly 3 - 5 minutes for me to heat the 'gun' up, and the invading criminal decides to attack me within 2 feet of a working electrical outlet. . . well, let me just say:  THAT perp is in TRUH-BULL.

(I'm so hard-core like that.)

But there have also been the pinterest failures, of which I am reluctant to talk about in great depth.  (The emotional, and fingertip, wounds are just too fresh.)

I guess I can give a couple examples without too much angst involved, though:

The stylish headbands made from woven strips of t-shirt fabric leaps to mind.

They were really cute.

And SO EASY to make!!

So I made four of them before I realized that my head is weirdly-shaped and looks better when my hair is long, and that there is a REASON I have not worn headbands for thirty-five years:  They make me look like a Dumbo-eared 8 year-old on a fitness kick.

But mostly, I will have to admit, the problem lies with me and not pinterest.

(I have issues with follow-through.  Or attention span.  What would you call it when you have about 20 potential craft-projects crammed into a little space beside your couch right now, and they've all been sitting there for at least a month?  I could pick up any one of them and probably have something adorable in an hour or two.  And today's Saturday, so I its the perfect time to do it.  And yet I can almost GUARANTEE that that is NEVER going to happen.)

And do you know WHY that is never going to happen?

Because books exist.

And because I am highly-distractable.

And because I like snacks.  A LOT.  And I bet even Martha Stewart couldn't eat a sausage ball while making an adorable Christmas village out of old toilet paper rolls without gluing her pants to her napkin.  (I ALWAYS use a napkin.  There's a word for that, folks, and that word is: 'fancy.')

And because, after a while, all the things that I could POSSIBLY do begin to feel like a responsibility.  And that's when the 'fun' element completely disappears.

And you know what happens when the fun is gone?


You sit by my side of the couch until next Christmas, when I move you to the coat closet to make room for a guest, and then you are eventually shoved into the Rubbermaid container in the garage labelled "Craft Stuff", which I will not go through again until some time in late July when I find myself bored. 

Or in a garage sale.  You could end up in a garage sale.

So to all of those people out there that actually DO their pinterest projects instead of just THINKING about doing them:  I salute you.

I'm sure your house is adorable.

And I imagine also quite clean.

. . .

You should probably know that I am also judging you.

I am judging the hell out of you.

For being better than I am.

(Which might be one of the most backward ways of being judgemental that I even KNOW of.)

And if everything about your life seems pinterestingly-perfect, I am concocting a fictional backstory for you in my head that is really quite lurid. 

Ohhh. . .  Now I just feel sorry for you.

God, I wish you weren't such a soulless tramp.

Now please excuse me.

It's time for Saturday-Snacks.  =)

. . . .

And, for those people out there that are just as neurotic as I am. .  .

The correct answer is:  Eternia.

He-Man hails from Eternia.

                                      (You're welcome. =)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

HARK, and Behold Me! Tremble Before THE FOOTBALL!!

This will probably come as an enormous shock to everyone currently in the house with me, but

1.)  I am GREATLY excited about the happening of The  Football today, and

2.)  I am not in the greatest of moods.  ("Out of sorts," I like to call it.  Like Mary Poppins would say =)  I am NEVER "bitchy."  Sometimes I am simply out of sorts.  It makes it sound much sweeter that way. =)

I haven't been sleeping lately (Notice how I didn't say "I haven't been sleeping 'WELL' lately"? -- well that's not a typo).  And for a girl that needs 8 hours a night AND two cups of coffee each morning, this recent round of anywhere from 2 to 4 hours a night has been exhausting and nerve-wracking. 

And right here, just because everything in my heart is telling me "YES!!!", I'm going to insert something that I LOVE, that makes me feel all sweetly-nostalgic, AND that I feel perfectly describes me today.  You're welcome.  =)

And I have sausage balls in the oven RIGHT NOW (*an unspoken, but I hope CLEAR apology for any of today's current, or future, hormone-induced transgressions*).  . . .It is regrettable that the sausage balls were even needed. . . but not TOO regrettable, because I plan on chowing down on about 14 of them.  After about 14 I usually start getting sick and have a small sausage ball coma.  (These episodes don't appear to be life-threatening. . . but I'm a play-it-safe-r, so I'll probably just stop at the 14.)  We have 52 balls.  I know because I am just OCD enough to have actually COUNTED them as I was rolling them.  (Please don't judge me.)

***Michael strolls through the kitchen to say "Damn, baby!  These are the best ones you've ever cooked!"  And I feel a surge of PRIDE!!  . . .until I remember that I put the second batch in a few (but I'm sure how MANY!!) minutes ago, and I forgot to set the timer.  BLAST!!  . . . So that was probably the shortest surge of pride in recorded history.  =(  I'm so glad I get to live in such exciting times.***

We also have Little Smokies in barbecue sauce simmering in the crock pot, and several other football-food delights planned.  So, despite the rainy day outside, and despite my own irritable self, I am DETERMINED to make a go of having a good day today.

And, just for a little added insurance in this matter, I just took a bath with SEVEN rubber duckies.  (Six would've been too few; Eight is just madness.  WHO bathes with EIGHT DUCKIES??  Crazy people---that's who.) 

They are, from left to right:  Danger-Duck, his sidekick Bubbles, Cowboy Duckie, his wife Chickie-Duck, their son Wall-Eye, the Baby, and The Imposter.

So have a happy Saturday everybody.  Hope you have a chance to curl up with a good book, or have fun with your friends and family =)

Who am I kidding?  I love you guys too much for a weak sign-off like THAT!  Sooooo. . .

To everyone out there, from the bottom of my heart, I hope your Football People are the BEST Football People! 


Your Friend,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Figuring Out How to Be a Step-Mom, with Several Fight Club References

Hi.  I'm Dani.

(We've met.)

And. . . (*deep breath*) I'm a Step-Mom.

Hmmm. . . so I guess this blog is not going to scream 'encouraging!' when my opening statement sounds like the introduction one might make at a (court-ordered) appearance in an Anger Management meeting with a focus in the arena of Kitten Fetishes, or Narcotics Anonymous.  But, if I have learned ANYTHING from watching 'Fight Club' repeatedly (seriously ya'll:  REPEATEDLY.  I really cannot stress this enough.), it is SEVERAL things: 

1.)  Helena Bonham Carter might be one of the strangest, loveliest women on the planet.

2.)  All NA, AA, MAD, etc. type meetings ALWAYS serve coffee.  And it is okay if you smoke. (Though it IS frowned upon at the Sufferers of Tuberculosis meetings.)

3.)  I am NOT my f*&^ing khakis.  (This one is SO true.)  I don't even like the way my butt looks in them.  At ALL.

4.)  I think Edward Norton is JUST SO MUCH BETTER than Brad Pitt in that movie!!!  (I must say, I feel a bit guilty for even writing that.)  But I just love Ed Norton SO MUCH MORE than the traditionally hunky (and BUILT) heartthrob.  Of course, it could be the fact that Mr. Pitt cheated on his wife.  (Done that girl WRONG!!  . . . WROOOONG!!!)  I don't care that he cheated on her with She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  I don't care that she's breathtakingly gorgeous.  So what?  You made VOWS, dude.  (And, just for the record, I think you'd make a really shitty knight.) 

. . . I guess I'm just one of those people that REALLY loves movies, and when I go, I like to be able to completely suspend reality for the time that I am there.  And even though he is gorgeous and actually CAN act (though I was never TRULY convinced of this until I saw '12 Monkeys'), I can't really do that, or enjoy the experience, if I am constantly distracted by what a screaming pile of turd-monkey the main character is.  Through extensive discussion with peers, I am almost certainly alone in this line of thinking.  It does not appear to be the general social consensus among straight women of a certain age.  Curious. . .  So I am forced to wonder about why this is. . .  But different thoughts for different days.  Moving onward!

So I am, indeed, a Step-mom.  (*Insert hideous cackle here.*)  And we all know that that title carries with it certain. . . shall we say. . . "evil" connotations?  So I'm just going to come right out and pump three rounds of the strongest ammo money can BUY into the damned arrogant White Elephant in the room and just say it:  I blame Disney.


For the whole CONCEPT of the 'Wicked Step-Mother.' I blame them.  I blame them completely.  I don't know what kind of jacked-up mommy-issues old Walt had going on, but just MY personal opinion?  Dude had demons.  Take a quick sec and think about exactly how many Disney heroes and heroines had mothers that were actually ALIVE.  Not to speak ill of the dead. . . I just believe he had some issues.

My step-mother, thankfully, was NOT wicked.  =)  Insane?  Quite.  Completely out of her mind?  (But in a good way.)  Oh, most certainly.  But NEVER wicked.  She was far from perfect, as am I, and she made mistakes, as have I, and as I will most certainly continue to do.  It is just the way of it, I guess.  But I will say this:  I have never seen two people (namely: my Daddy and Step-mom) absolutely lose their minds over and fall instantly and head-over-heels in love with a baby like they have with my son.  =)

 (Nolan and his Pawpaw =)

(Nolan and Lon =)

Step-parents kind of get the shaft, completely unintentionally, but the shaft nonetheless.  I AM a step-child!  I understand it.  For whatever reason, children usually seem to feel that they owe some sort of allegiance to their biological parent, and feel the need to express it from time to time.  I will admit, it took me a while before I realized the REASON for this behavior from Dev, but after that -- I was fairly cool with it.  But OH!  The first time Devin and I were playing in the den and having a good time and then out of nowhere he said, "But I still like my real mommy better." . . . I almost cried right then and there.

So while I was managing not to cry, because Devin had done nothing wrong and I didn't want to make him feel bad about it, I started thinking about how to best respond to him.  So I said to him the only thing I could think of to say:
"Sweetheart, you're SUPPOSED to like your mommy better.  She's your mommy!  I love MY mommy!  Everybody loves their mommies!  So it's okay -- I'm not your mommy.  I'm your Dani.  And that just means that I'm someone else you've got that loves you very much."

And the greatest miracle of all is that, for the child that NEVER stops asking questions about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, THAT actually seemed to be a good enough answer!

. . . I swear, sometimes I even amaze myself with my phenomenal and (to be QUITE honest--'amazing') parenting skills!!  It's like a freaking GIFT from the GODS!!  I should probably sacrifice a goat.  Or sell books that tell everybody else how to raise their kids.  Sadly. . . my twisted and often morbid sense of humor HAS caused 'issues' in the past.  Perhaps I should just speak with a publisher.  Or a shrink.  One of those.  Yes.  Yes, now I'm sure of it.  That's definitely the way to go.)

But were it not for Disney and all their 'wicked step-mother'-mongering, their evil queens, and their poor helpless girls locked in towers (by the way:  WHY were the girls locked in the towers??  Nobody ever TALKS about THAT!  Maybe they did something despicable!  MAYBE they committed a crime SO heinous that the whole town cried out for her death!  And maybe the ONLY ONE to come to her aid was her step-mother!  "Spare her!", I'm sure she cried.  "Just let me keep her in the high tower!  You'll never have to see her again!"  And yet somehow it all got twisted around, and the poor step-mother gets the bad rap.)  Damn you Disney!!!!!  (*shakes fist at sky*)  Were it not for you, then I firmly believe that society in general would probably have a very different view of the women who perform this thankless, wonderful, exasperating and terrifying, for-the-rest-of-your-life feat of magnificence.

And, though I never in a million years expected to feel this way:  These kids are mine.
Nolan by birth, of course.  Devin I met when he was just a couple months shy of his second birthday.  His dad and I had been dating for a few months, and were making a conscious decision to be cautious when it came to 'meeting the children.'  (It was a very big deal.)  We both agreed that before we crossed that bridge, we should decide EXACTLY how it was that we felt about each other.  We had only met at the end of August. . . this was around October or so. . . and that's not a very long time. . .

We were in love.  =)

(One night before we got married.  Our "Getting Hitched" Party =)

There was no wondering and no questioning and no thought of any other man on the planet from the very moment I saw HIM.  He was the one that was made for me.  I found him.  =)

And so it was only after a while that we decided it was time that I should meet them.  (It's so strange to think about now, but when Michael and I had JUST started dating, there were several times when I would talk to him on the phone because we weren't seeing each other because he had both of his boys over that weekend.  =)  I didn't begrudge him for it at all.  Boys need strong male figures in their lives, and Michael is one of the most honest, decent, and deeply KINDEST men that I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.
So I met Devin first, because he got to come see his dad more often (because his mom lives closer). 

I still remember walking into the loft (I had actually DRESSED UP to meet a not-quite 2 year-old!) in my long, billowy, ankle-length white dress.  Official Reason for Wearing the Dress:  It was very hot outside, and its spaghetti straps allowed for cool comfort.  ACTUAL Reason for Wearing the Dress:  It made me feel all swirly and ethereal and charming.  And that is EXACTLY how I wanted Devin to see me.  (I was TERRIFIED!!!!  What if I didn't LIKE him??!?  WHAT IF HE DIDN'T LIKE ME?!?!?!!  As it turns out, I had nothing at all to worry about: for the first half of the evening he just stared at me, and for the second half, after he realized that I would play with him, he COMPLETELY took advantage of the situation. =)

Devin was a pirate, and a knight, and a Jedi, and ultimately a child after my own heart <3

(Devin, lurking around the den wearing my elf-cloak and keeping downtown Birmingham safe from Sith Lords.)

But there was no escaping the fact that it was (for me, at least) a situation fraught with possible perils and disasters at every turn.  And yet we persevered, and continued on our path.  Because we were each just enough of a realist to know that. . . it most likely wasn't going to be easy.  But it was sure as hell going to be worth it.  =)  And hey---  We were in love.  <3

When I met Cana, Michael and I had driven to Montgomery to pick him up from school.  He was just 12.  And the cutest, skinniest kid I had ever seen.  (Michael always called him "Minnow.")  The three of us went to Taco Bell and joked around as I AGAIN tried to get over my terror of "What if he doesn't LIKE me??".  But it turned out that he was a pretty chill kid, easy to get along with, and with a dry sense of humor that I TOTALLY appreciated.  So we went to see 'Casino Royale', and a few months later, after Michael had proposed to me, the three of us stood in our kitchen while Michael asked Cana, "What would you think about us getting married?"

. . . And I held my breath until he answered, in typical pre-teen Cana fashion, "That's cool."

(I am Jack's Enlarged Sense of Self Satisfaction.)

So step-moms sometimes get a bad rap.  And maybe it takes a special type of person to do it properly.  'Properly' here, meaning: with love, patience, and the ability to sometimes have really thick skin.

So though I love all THREE of those boys with every bit of my heart, I am NOT going to pretend that this step-parenting business is easy.  Because it is SO NOT.

But it is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE.  It's hard, and it's head-achey, and fun.  And it is SO MUCH WORK.


And even when I want to strangle them or tie them up by their toenails. . . how unbelievably lucky I am to have them all.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Bring Me Down. . .

. . .Okay, fine.  Yes.  I know its actually Tuesday.  (Wednesday, to be precise, by the time you actually read this.)  But it's a gloomy-as-hell Tuesday, dark clouds, rain varying from light and warm to torrential and vindictive in the span of a few seconds.  So outside time has been SEVERELY limited today.  =(  Which means that I didn't get my 'lose-your-mind-just-be-your-body' walk this morning with the baby. 

Also, I'm finding it harder and harder to sleep at night (and don't know why).  I go to bed at 12:00 to 2:00-ish, and still I sit bolt upright in bed, wide-awake at anywhere from 5 to 6 a.m.  . . . Generally still in the panicked grip of a fierce and grisly nightmare that is only just starting to fade.  It has become, excuse the pun, 'tiring.'  ;)  The reason I am sharing this is because I'm afraid that I might be ('possibly'. . .JUST 'POSSIBLY') prone to have some unpredictable and little bitchy outbursts today, and I am endeavoring valiantly to head them off at the pass.  =)

(This is my unpredictable and slightly bitchy look.  I think the photo really bares that out.)

(I would like to add here, PURELY in the interest of honesty and integrity, that it is NORMALLY my dearest one bitching at me.  His favorite personal subject is that of my smoking.  He had stopped the daily lectures for a while there . . . but now he's returned full-force, which I can only imagine is the same way in which Sylvester Stallone returns in 'The Expendables 2.'  (And I only say 'I can only imagine' because I CAN ONLY IMAGINE.  Because I would rather be pummelled by drug-crazed Pandas, carrying firearms, with nothing left to live for, and looks of grim resignation on their adorable and deadly little faces than EVER have to sit through that smoking loaf of the pony.  You are ALL already QUITE rich.  So for the love of God---just stop. 

And YES.  I KNOW that smoking is bad for me!  But I'm having a rough go of it at the moment, and evil though they may be, they also make me feel (a measure) better.  And I KNOW that he only bitches so PASSIONATELY about it is just because he's worried about me.  And I understand that.  However.  Though this may be flawed logic, and feel free to disagree:  Women live longer than men.  That is a FACT.  *I* don't want to be left here alone without him.  Not ever.  So I guess I just prefer to think about it as levelling the playing field, so to speak.  Long paragraph short:  I WILL quit smoking.  But it will NOT be today.)

So to sum up so far:  I'm not having a super-awesome day, I am stressed about money, and a million other things, I am worried about my husband, and I am a little depressed.  As you readers should well-know by now, this is NOT a new, or even a unique, occurrence for me.

But I know now, not only from personal conversations with friends and family, or just the sheer number of people occupying shrink's offices these days (like so much cattle), that I am FAR from alone in this.  I won't die from it.  (It just feels like it sometimes.)  But I am fairly awesome.  And I can even be brave. . . when I have to be.

(Best pic I can find of me looking brave.  I'm sure there are TONS of other pictures, depicting just that, but I have been unable to locate them at this time.)

And, whether I like it or not, it will most likely happen again.  So I have decided to compose a list of all the odd, and oddly effective, things I do to try to steer away the 'Mean Reds.'

First off, I ALWAYS watch the opening theme to the old 80's cartoon show, The Gummi Bears.  (This was a GREAT cartoon, by the way.  If you've never seen it?  Go out and buy that first season.  It is a decision that you will NOT regret, my friend.  (You'll thank me later.)  Spoiler alert:  The secret really was in the Gummi Berry juice. But those bears were warriorsWARRIORS!!!!)

So I watch this whenever I'm low.  And then I sing the entire theme song.  Over and over again.  ALL day long(*even in the bathtub*)  And, while *I*, and, I daresay the ducks, find it nothing short of delightful,

(Those are, in fact, the MINIMUM number of Duckies required to be by our tub at all times.  It was a law that I was completely unclear on, and in fact completely unaware of.  Devin swore it was true.  But he still has yet to produce the paperwork.)

other members of the family have expressed rather dissimilar attitudes.  And THAT is when I say, in my MOST snooty tone (and I can manage a pretty good 'Snoot'), "It's called 'CULTURE', familyLook it up!"  (It is roughly the exact opposite of eating dinner on trays while curled up on the couch, watching t.v. and checking your facebook every 7 1/2 minutes.)  (*And I'm looking at you, here Michael.*) 

But I have learned that it is just incredibly difficult to look very 'snooty' when you are lying in a bubble bath, and bathing with a Winnie the Pooh bath puppet.  (Sidenote:  I LOVE that Pooh-puppet.  He just seems so. . . HAPPY to be helping get me clean.  =)

. . . . . .  o.0

Wait.  He could . . . not be as innocent as he seems.  . . .EVERYONE has a secret.  Could he be a. . . puppet-perv?  . . .??  . . .Great.  Now I can't use the Pooh puppet again until this whole ugly mess has been sorted out. . .  Guess I'll just resort to the Toy Story wash cloths.  (They make me happy, too, and will do, in a pinch.)

(Innocent bath cloth, or devious predator?)

Gummi Bears and Pooh puppets aside, I find that Christmas lights make me feel good.  Very happy.  =)  I strongly suggest that you try it. 

I also find that peculiar socks are another seemingly magical cure to the blues. . . cheers ya right up  =)  How long can you stay sad when, every time you look down at your feet, you see:

                (And yes --- They're all mine.  It's a sickness, really.  But I swear it helps.)

So if you don't own several dozen pairs of completely ridiculous socks, I still have a few more suggestions.  Keep in mind, though, that this is just what helps ME.  If YOU have any suggestions on things that help YOU --- PLEASE feel free to let me know!!!

I like to play with rubber duckies (or just LOOK at them, even).  I find them soothing.  I like to lose myself completely in the pages of a good book.  (*I'm looking at YOU, Dean Koontz.*) 

I like to walk for an hour in the morning, EVERY morning.  Pushing a stroller, and whether I feel like doing it or not.  I like to get back from an hour of walking, covered in sweat and feeling glorious, and remember that I could've easily skipped today.  I could've just stayed in bed.  Or on the couch.  Or done any of a DOZEN other things that I would SO much rather be doing!!  But as strange as it sounds, it feels even BETTER if you have to make yourself do itKNOWING that you could've just skipped it.  No one would've known.  But you did it ANYWAY, and THAT FEELS GREAT!

I like to color my hair.  I feel it only responsible however, to advise you to NOT permanently color your hair if you are showing signs of depression.  (This is how I ended up, during a particularly morose period as a young adult, with hair that sent me spiraling STRAIGHT into an unintentional Morticia Addams phase.  So just trust me on this, m'kay?)  So now I use a chalk recipe (sidewalk chalk = BRIGHT colors!!) that I found on pinterest.  My husband was not NEARLY as awed and amused with the green and blue streaks as *I* was ("But it washes right out!!  It's a freaking scientific BREAKTHROUGH!!!"), and it is now referred to as 'The Chalk Incident.'  Many good towels were lost.  (Somehow Michael NEVER seems to have 'INCIDENTS.'  How is that even POSSIBLE??  Is he faking?!?  . . . Is . . is he a cyborg? . . .?)


Its just not natural.  That's all I'm saying.

Pressing onward:

I like to curl up and watch REALLY funny movies.  I like to play games with, and take pictures of, my son.  I LIKE to drink coffee, my current poison of choice being Strawberry Shortcake flavored coffee, mixed with a little Chocolate syrup, healthy doses of sugar and non-dairy coffee creamer, and just a dib of Irish Creme flavored syrup.  Stir well while still hot, then pour the contents into a blender.  Add 1 large cup full of ice, and blend for about 8 seconds.  Makes two servings, makes your heart start pumping, makes you capable of doing all those things you wanted to do, if you could just stay awake long enough, and, IF you're ME --- IT MAKES YOU HAPPY.

I like to do something (ANYthing!) completely absurd, like. . . I don't know, standing on my head for no reason whatsoever.  Just cause I can, ya'll  =)  Oh!  And I like to draw!  I call this one 'Purple Magic Demon Kitty'.  (Reviews have been. . . mixed.)


I like to cross stitch, and sew, and play Neopets (AND Pokemon), and it is ALL really just basically the SAME THING:  mindless, therapeutic, meditation.

A chance for me to get my mind OFF my Mind.  =)

So again, feel free to try any and all of these, and let me know what you think, and if you're willing to share any of your OWN oddball tendencies!!  (Also, if you try these, and they WORK. . .  "You're welcome.")

What I like most about depression is remembering that it IS going to pass.  It is not forever.  And, like the most gruesome of nightmares, when you wake up -- and its over! -- ALL you can feel is this awesome, overwhelming sense of RELIEF!!!

Because you DID come out on the other side.

You made it.

And life WILL, once again, be beautiful.

But you MUST remember this!! 

And never, no matter what you EVER do, don't you DARE let yourself get bitter.  (We have a virtual pinkie-promise now, which is a socially binding contract.  That means I'm gonna hold you to it =)


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our Hangout Stories--Part One. (Edited.)


At various times throughout my life, I am reminded of a scene with Val Kilmer (playing Jim Morrison) in the movie, The Doors.  In the scene, Jim is surveying his surroundings, taking it all in and marveling at it all, (I think he's at a birthday party--but I could be wrong) and is heard to say:  "This is the strangest life I've ever lived."

This has always stuck with me.  And I've found myself embracing this exact same sentiment more times than I can count.  So I will openly admit that this same sentiment crossed my mind more than once during our 3-day, hiking, sunbathing (or sun-"scorching," depending on whom you ask), good-vibe, Brazilian Carnivale'-ish atmosphere that WAS our first Hangout Fest.  And it was jam-packed with every conceivable persuasion of person:  Guys dressed like Super Heroes, girls in bikinis with their bodies painted in every beautiful and imagineable color. . .  Girls in tutus, girls in knee-length fur boots, girls in bikinis that appeared to have very personal-seeming, dancing relationships with their oversized hula-hoops.  --("GET A ROOM, HIPPIE CHICK!!!")-- 
". . . It's not just a hoop, man.  It's like. . . it's like an extension of ME, ya know?"  (I DID NOT know.  Not even remotely.  What I did know, however, was that she was pretty obviously on mushrooms, and was probably going to feel pretty gross in about an hour or so.  Just saying.  Now it would appear that I have become the Festival Mom: Been there, done that, and now feel it's my duty to protect the younger generation from themselves.  Also?  That was an actual quote, ya'll.)
And it is ALL I can do to NOT place a smiley face at the end of that last sentence.  

(. . . So I'll just do it here.  =)

And, in any place OTHER than a music festival, you would probably be inclined to stare, glare, snicker, or disdain.  Or, at the very least, believe that each and every one of these people were quite obviously QUITE mad.  (And yes, they are.  You kind of HAVE to be, in order to actually GO to a music festival.)  But the music draws us, all these different brands of weirdos, and in the beat of the drums and the squeal of the guitar. . . we all find each other.  And we all rediscover that we really AREN'T all that different after all.

But I've been chasing rabbits.  This blog DOES have a point. 
Somewhere. . .

Michael and I loaded the car and went down early that Wednesday morning.  (We got to eat sausage biscuits in the car!!!  I was THRILLED.  Not sure why, but for my entire life, eating sausage biscuits in the car has always been the very personification of giddy joy and luxury.  Not to oversell it, but it was awesome.) 

We got there in time to have two full days on the beach!! ---just the two of us!! =)  . . . So we parked our respective heinies in his and hers beach chairs and/or towels,

took shade under the umbrella when needed, revelled in the not-quite-drowned-out-by-the-ocean (and quite AWESOME) playlist that Michael had been kind enough to prepare for us,

listened to the sea, the sand, the surf, the music, the world!  And to add the icing on the cake, my husband was there, enjoying it all with me, not three feet away.  =)

                   And NOT to mention!!! 
                 --People Watching--!! 

Dark-lensed sunglasses were a prerequisite, and were firmly fixed to my face the entire trip,


 in an attempt to deceive other beach-goers into believing that I was NOT, in fact, watching THEM.   . . . "WHAT??  You think you're the ONLY one with a hot body on this beach?!?  Maybe I was simply taking in the majestic scenery!  Maybe I was enjoying a private moment of personal reflection!!!  Did you ever think of THAT?!?  Huh??  Did ya?!?  Huh????"  (But by the way, in the interest of honesty, and because I believe very deeply that truthiness really is the best policy (when applicable), then yeah.  I was totally checking you out.  And, with surprisingly little hesitation, I would gladly kill you if it meant that I could possess a stomach  that flat.  Nothing personal, mind you.  Just business.

Did I just say that?  I take it back.  (Frankly, I'm ashamed of myself.)  How do I know that you aren't currently training for the Olympics, and subsisting on 215 meager calories a day?  Who am I to judge you?!  Really?  You rock that Olympian body girl!!  . . .So what if you never get your period again?  Those things are WAY overrated in my opinion anyway.  You know how the old saying goes:  "People would gladly kill you for a stomach that flat."  I *think* that's how it goes. . .  I forget.  (But I'm pretty sure it's a famous quote, and was probably written by some wry and witty genius.  PRETTY sure.)  Lesson:  Flat stomachs are DANGEROUS.  Life's funny that way. . .

Michael and I came to Hangout Music Festival for the first time in May, 2010.  (Posing on the Hangout Chair was pretty awesome, and pretty much required, and pretty much has the makings of a family tradition.)

This was the first year of the festival, and every music-lover across several states had their fingers crossed that this would become a yearly occurrence.  A music festival?!  In Alabama?!?  As in, only a 4 hour drive from our FRONT DOOR?!?!?

(*Four hour drives are tougher on some of us than others.*)

At the BEACH??  What's NOT to like?  =)

. . . Except for maybe that Gulf Oil Spill, that had happened only one month earlier.  But, if the promoters were worried about it causing turnout to dwindle, they have a LOT to learn about music lovers.  We don't just NOT GO to a festival.  We camp out in the rain, we get filthy, we play in the mud, we survive Nor-Easters from the quite-flimsy safety of a QUITE flimsy tent, we turn over ankles, we sweat, we dress like we were at Carnivale' in Brazil, and we pay WAY too much for Maui Wowies. 
But we GO.  Because the rain, the crowds, the heat---THEY DON'T MATTER.  We only came for the music.  It is our release, and it is our way.

And by God, we are better for it.

But the reaction to the spill, particularly it being as new, and as worrisome, as it was, was, and this is no exaggeration:  insane.  News organizations were set up on practically every corner doing interviews, requesting sound-bites from all the dirty, bleeding-heart hippies, donations were being taken up, and random kids were wandering around with signs that proudly, AND angrily proclaimed:  "CLEAN IT UP!!"

In addition, the weather got rather angry on the second day, and intermittently on other days as well, but Michael and I grabbed a couple of ponchos, parked out butts on the soggy wet beach, and refused to let it ruin our good time  =)

  (*Me.  Being a trooper.  And waiting for Keller.*)

As evidence of such, here I am in my ever-so-attractive poncho, heading BACK out into the POURING RAIN, to see yet ANOTHER show!  (Michael says I look like The Happiest Hazmat Worker in this pic.  I tell him that that sounds like the title of a Disney Movie.)

(Note to self:  Remember to pitch this idea to Disney.  Don't settle for less than billions.)


Sadly, by the time we got back and found a spot on the beach, the rain had turned into a DELUGE.  But Keller Williams TRIED, bless his heart, standing at the very back of the stage, so as not to get drenched.  And every so often he bounced up and down so that we could see him over all the equipment that was now covered in tarps.  And, above the sound of the thunder, we got to hear him play this (which we thought was VERY appropriate):

Anyhoo. . . the official festival didn't kick off until early Friday morning, but we managed to get tickets to a late-night Thursday show of Keller Williams doing his (experimental) 'electronica' show.  And we got to see this show INSIDE the actual Hangout!  It's a restaurant/bar/venue, and has the MOST enormous ceiling fan that I have EVER seen, turning overhead.  And we needed it!  I was hot as hell, people were crammed ass-to-elbows, but, as is the way with most festival-goers, nobody got out of sorts, wanted to start a fight, or got miffed when his girlfriend's butt bumped into someone else.  (We festival people are a fairly mellow bunch.)  But wait. . . did I mention?  WE got to see Keller Williams INSIDE the Hangout!!!  HE was awesome, IT was awesome, and Matisyahu even joined him onstage for a few songs!!  Here's some video that Michael took from the show:

    Me.  Around 2 a.m., after the Keller and  Matisyahu show.  Exhausted, ears-ringing, but SO VERY HAPPY =)

So, when we WEREN'T catching live music, we just ate lots of Buffalo Wings, soaked up LOTS of sun, frolicked in the ocean (in all fairness, *I* was the only one frolicking.  Michael merely 'dipped'.  I shook my head sadly at him.  *sigh*  What a waste of a perfectly good ocean-frolicking opportunity!!), spent time JUST THE TWO OF US, and got to leisurely sit on the beach and enjoy the musical stylings of the Black Crowes, and . . .

(*insert drumroll here*)

WE GOT TO SEE OK Go!!!!!!!  One of our FAVORITE bands at the time!!!!  (And they do still, in fact, rock!)

We were THIS CLOSE to the stage, ya'll!!  And if I had had an extra pair of (clean) panties . . . well, *I would've thrown them.*  It's not something I'm proud of. . . but it's not something I will deny, either.  Michael would probably not be highly enthusiastic about this "tossable clean panty idea," but really, he is just SO unsupportive sometimes. . .  Besides, I COULD throw something else!  Like chocolate bars!  Everybody likes those, right?  But then maybe later OK Go gets back to their bus and they're all, "Who threw the chocolate bar?  Don't they know I'm allergic??   Does NO ONE read my blog?!?!?!!"

And all this could easily be avoided with one simple pair of clean (preferably cotton), pair of panties.  Cotton, NATURALLY.  I mean, come ON!  . . .I don't want them to think I'm a slut or something.  =)