Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FIVE YEARS

So, um.

Five years ago, I started this blog. I didn't really take up blogging as the Great Love Of My Life, feel-like-doing-it-every-day-and-twice-on-Sunday until I had my foot surgery in 2007, but I STARTED it on this date in 2004. It began on the day I left on my trip to New York City to meet my girlfriends from the Mothers of March 1998 Babies, which began as a ParentSoup forum about, oh, a hundred years ago.

And here I am, living 30 miles from New York City now. It's kind of weird how things sometimes happen that you couldn't possibly foresee.

But anyway, I digress. (Some things never change.)

I feel like I should do something to mark this auspicious day. Not counting this one, I've posted 622 blog posts --and probably written at least 1,000, not counting the ones that I've only written in my head. I should--I don't know, revamp my header or colors or start accepting ads or...meh. Why mess with a good thing? (I would hold a contest but since I STILL haven't mailed the relish to the winners, I would feel even worse.)

I know! What if I post some sort of link to the top ten blog posts of the past five years? I looked into doing some sort of poll but can't figure out how to make it open-ended so that y'all could add any posts I've forgotten. Here are the ones that come to mind, though:

Big and Meaningful Post

I Don't do Linear

Socks and Life Lessons

An Unexpected Love Thursday

Memories Do Not Convey

They were Mostly Stuntmen

If You Give A Mom Some Coffee

Edward's Tale and Tail

Joy Rush

Requiem for an Old Dog


Just leave a comment and tell me which ones you like best. OR, tell me which ones I've left off of the list. And while I'm at it, a lot of bloggers open up the comments for questions periodically. I can't think of anything I don't already tell you all but hey, I'd be glad to entertain any questions you might have. You can also send me e-mail if that feels easier or more private or something. Barb@sothethingis.com

I think blogging has helped me connect with readers I really like and admire during a time when I've had some of the greatest challenges of my life. You have become so dear to me. I love my blogging family. Five years in, I still don't quite know what I'm doing but I still know that I LOVE it and my readers and that I'm always talking to y'all in my head.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Things to Ponder

One day this week, in my efforts to avoid eating leftover birthday cake from Jane's party, I ate a yogurt for breakfast. It was a fancy Greek yogurt. I was looking at the packaging when I noticed something. (Might have to click to enlarge.)


Really? Do you think that was really what they were trying to say? "0% authentic?" (Snort.)

So, then, the next morning, in my efforts to avoid eating leftover birthday cake from Jane's party, I ate a yogurt for breakfast. It was a fancy Greek yogurt. I was looking at the packaging when I noticed something. (Might have to click to enlarge.)

Really? Do you think that was really what they were trying to say? "0% Non-fat?" (Eye-rolling.)

(I have this whole post about things I'm taking away from the experience of having my beloved Coop in the hospital for a week but I can't tell if it's just too boring to post or not. You can be sure, however, that it will be 100% authentic and 100% fat free.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something to Ponder

My husband had to have an emergency appendectomy yesterday. He's doing fine after it but will be staying in the hospital at least until Saturday because his appendix ruptured before he had the surgery.

Here's the thing, though: The guy drove himself to the hospital with a ruptured appendix.

I KNOW!

What kind of Crazy On Legs is THAT? It's not like he HAD to, either. There were plenty of people, myself included, who were standing by, ready to drive him once he gave the okay. But instead what he did was text me from a gurney in the hospital as he was being wheeled into surgery.

Y'all, I have given more notice before removing a HANGNAIL.

So, aside from the fact that once I got to the hospital, everyone greeted me with a certain amount of coolness (no doubt thinking that I'd made the poor guy drive himself because I was busy eating bon-bons and watching soap operas,) the other thing that came out of this was how many women have similar stories about their husbands. The first nurse I met said her husband had done the same exact thing. (Because naturally I told her as soon as I could in an effort to get her to diffuse the lynch mob.)

I heard from other people who had similar stories, too. And I started thinking, "Well, dang, maybe this is the KEY to the whole "Men are from Mars, Women Want Them to Stay There" dialogue." Maybe if we could get to the bottom of why men think it's better to risk their freaking LIVES by driving themselves to the hospital instead of accepting a tiny bit of assistance, we'd be able to solve all marital discord and misunderstanding.

I have no idea what the answer is, though. Frankly, I think men are weird.

And when Coop gets out of the hospital, I'm going to smack him hard.

Except, you know, first I'm going to kiss his whole head.

Monday, October 19, 2009

And We All Lived Stickily Ever After

I think it was a good party.

I never actually KNOW, the same way I never knew if I'd done well on a test in school, but I THINK Jane's Ninth Birthday Chocolate Extravaganza was a success.

If it were measured by sheer volume of chocolate available and consumed, I'm pretty sure we'd have won some sort of prize. (As always, click to enlarge.)

I had made shirts for the kids and they decorated them with fabric paints.

We played some games, like stack the Oreos and guess the number of M&Ms in the jar.

Jane opened presents:

Probably the best thing I did was "hire" my older daughter and two of her friends to help run the games. ("Hire" in the sense that they got to eat as much chocolate as they could stand.) I made shirts for them, too, and called them the Oompa-Loompas. They were pretty helpful, even if they did have a tendency to disappear and do their own thing every once in a while. (The nerve!) But they did a great job and even wrote the "Who Gave What" list during the present opening.

In the end, the guests took home these little goody boxes (Yes that's a toothbrush. I must have my little jokes.)

And Austin and I cleaned chocolate off of things like the basement door.

A side benefit to throwing this party is that I had no problem at all starting (RE-starting. Sigh. AGAIN.) my diet today because, LORDY, I am SICK OF CHOCOLATE.

Hey, I guess that means it really WAS a good party!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The CEO Speaks

Today has mostly been spent in preparation of the ten twelve fourteen eight-and-nine-year-olds who will be attending Jane's Ninth Birthday Chocolate Extravaganza tomorrow.

In my house.

For two hours.

When it's raining outside.

(Not that I'm bitter.)

So, part of those preparations were, naturally, the making of the cake.

Jane expressed her distaste for any icing that isn't chocolate and since the cake is chocolate with chocolate frosting, this left little in the arsenal for decorations of said cake.

I decided to use M&Ms.

In fact, I decided to make the CAKE an M&M, only instead of a lone "M" on the top, I would make a "J." For Jane. Because that's the birthday girl's first name.

I got a little carried away and Ana (11) and I started making a beautiful M&M mosaic.


We had gotten this far when the birthday Sergeant girl happened by, burst into tears and ran to her room.

This has happened before but this time I could NOT figure it out. What the heck? There was nary a sprinkle in sight!

Well.

It turns out that when I floated the idea of doing a giant M&M as the cake, Jane assumed the caked would have a "M" on it!! I mean, HELLO??!! If it has a "J" on it, it's not an M&M, now, is it? "J" does NOT EQUAL "M," now, does it?

NOW. DOES. IT.

WELL?

WELL?

So, I wiped the "J" off and wrote an "M" and then the CEO had her way with decorating the rest of the cake.

Because, you know what?

It's HER cake. I should have let her decorate it in the first place.



Say it with me now, "Process vs. Product. Process vs. Product. Process vs. (freakin') Product."

I am finally learning to let go of control (it's only taken me 45 years to do it) and to keep the end in mind. And the end I was hoping for here was a happy birthday memory.

Tune in tomorrow and I'll let you know how that turned out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Too Much Chocolate? Too Many Parentheses? Too Many Capital Letters?

I'm Live-Blogging my Latest Crisis.

Jane's ninth birthday party is on Sunday. Since we couldn't find a pool for a pool party (her first choice), she decided she would like a repeat of her seventh birthday party, which was a chocolate party. (It actually was a pool party, so the chocolate just served as fuel for lots of swimming. That party was also made memorable by the chocolate fountain, which was susceptible to gusts of wind and ended up blowing sheets of chocolate all over the place.) We are having this year's party at our house.

Okay, let me sit here and put my head between my knees for a second. I just read through my account of Jane's LAST chocolate party and, frankly, it scared the bejesus out of me. {Smacks self in head, repeatedly.} What was I thinking having ten 'tweens' over for a chocolate party IN MY HOUSE??? TWO HOURS! Two hours of kids HOPPED UP ON CHOCOLATE!!!

And the thing is, Jane went to a birthday party yesterday. It was, get this, a CHOCOLATE party. Only THAT mother has some sense because she had it at a chocolate SHOP. Everything was perfect--there was a chocolate fountain, the girls poured chocolate into molds and decorated it, and then decorated cupcakes. In order to avoid insulin shock, they ate pizza.

Also, did I mention that it is supposed to rain on Sunday?? So, any idea I had of them racing around outside and jumping on the trampoline is but a mere fantasy. (Plus, now we have to do something with the dogs during the party. Not just because they are large and can knock the littler kids over, but also because Austin is eating SOMETHING that gives him gas and WHOO-EE, the dog can clear a room faster than you can grab the air freshener.) (I know, I know, the glamour never ends around here.)

So, seriously? I need to get a grip here. Kids' birthday parties are WHAT I DO! Must immediately find ideas for what to do with the kids.

For TWO HOURS.

Because I don't want to repeat everything most of these same girls just did yesterday at a different chocolate party. (Except the chocolate fountain, Jane insists we have that.) (I don't believe we've used it since her seventh birthday.)

TWO HOURS OF INTERNET RESEARCH LATER...

I'm thinking that I'll buy brown T-shirts and we'll could decorate them and that maybe, I could get the goody-boxes from the same chocolate store where yesterday's party was held... We'll play speed stacking of Oreos and we'll guess how many M&Ms are in the jar...

Okay, I'm on it.

(But y'all could send some good vibes anyway, if you don't mind.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time to Reflect

Yesterday, my friend and fellow Texan ex-pat Sherry took my mom and me to a nature preserve so that my mom could do some birding and Sherry and I could be amazed at her encyclopedic knowledge of our avian friends. Sherry's no slouch, either, but I am hopeless. ("Look, that's a bird, right? Oh. Oh no, it's a chipmunk.")

Anyway, I took some pictures and made a little slide show. Here, you can watch it in silence since the fine folks at YouTube have removed my soundtrack.



It was a very quiet place and as we stood there and watched a storm move across the sound, I had a little talk with myself. Do you ever need to find a moment just to center yourself and renew your resolve to do and be better?

The Wednesday before my parents came, I was crazed with the cleaners at my house, etc., and I emailed my friend Linda to tell her that I wouldn't be able to help out at the knitting class from 10 -11. I heard from her yesterday and she said that it had been hard to find a last-minute replacement but she had found one and that person wants to continue to help with the class. She was as nice as possible but I still felt like I got sent to the principal's office and deservedly so. I'm glad Linda found someone who is actually reliable.

I get so disappointed in myself for letting my friends down or backing out of a legitimate commitments because I am already over-committed and not managing my time well. And because I fail to set boundaries because I think I should be able to do everything. Y'all, seriously, I used to be able to do it all! No, really! Now I no longer have the energy nor the mobility to do so. (Also, I find I need sleep and I never used to need THAT either. Man, this getting old stuff is way over-rated.)

Not only do I let my friends down when I get all frazzled and disorganized but, um, there's another issue, too. (Never short of issues in MY world.) I have a To-Do list the size of a barn and because I am always pressed for time, the things that I do just for me tend to get put at the bottom of the list. Things like exercise and, um, mammograms. Getting to the post office to mail relish to blog winners (sorry.) Finishing my novel.

So, anyway, I took a moment there to regroup and to pare down my list a bit. I moved a few things (getting my mammogram (only two years overdue) and getting my NY driver's license (yup, 18 months after the move)) to the forefront, just after planning Jane's ninth birthday party (which happens this weekend) and sending out tomato relish to you lovely winners who have been so patient (really, really sorry.)

Maybe my fear of disappointing my friends will motivate me to do better. Because I truly love Linda and I am truly sorry to have let her down.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jane Evolving

Dear Jane,

Happy Birthday, my little love. It seems hard to believe that you are nine years old today. (And yes, I thought seriously about smacking our friend Mike when he reminded me that you are now "half-way gone." It's a good thing that he looked as anguished as I felt, and, also, that his daughter is older.)

It was a wonderful day with you. I wish I had been able to take more pictures but most of my favorite moments could not be captured on film. My favorite memories are of you rolling out of bed and heading for the bathroom, turning on the light and announcing, "Whoa, Mom, my face has evolved."

(I wish I was so conscious of the various evolutions of my face, and that they happened on dates I could remember.)

For the rest of my life, I will see you sitting, small and resolute, under your headphones on the bench at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. In front of the John Lennon documentary, you sat singing "All we are saying is give peace a chance" over and over again, full voice.

And then again, at the end of the Broadway production of West Side Story, when Tony has been shot and Maria is insane with grief, you sat crying real tears. Because, Jane? There is nothing wrong with your heart --it is bigger than Texas.

It seems fitting that today, on your Ninth Birthday, that I can honestly say that I love you more than I ever have. Less than tomorrow, yeah, but more than ever. I can't wait until you take over the world, girlfriend.

love,
Mommy

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I'm Not Sulking

But my heart is just a lee-tle bit sore. These milestones are killing me--I just KNOW she's off to college tomorrow.


And here I thought she couldn't BE more beautiful.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

And Just Like That, It's Over and We're On to New Glamour

Okay, so I woke up yesterday and that weird kind of malaise I've been feeling was just...gone. Good riddance, I say. I've got things to do!

My parents are coming on Thursday so I am completely freaking the frak out. Since I can't A) lose 30 pounds or B) finish my book and have it published and appear on Oprah charming the world with my wit and...um...wit (?), I decided to completely gut my office and turn it into my yarn/creative space.

My husband talked me down off of the "Tile An Entire Room Before My Parents Get Here on Thursday" ledge, though. He's very wise. Because somewhere along the line when I was making all of my plans, I forgot that I would still have to, you know, PARENT, not to mention, um, sleep.

Whoopsie.

(I did manage to sneak in a little bit of tile work, anyway. Want to see? This is the Butler's Pantry, which has had a plywood counter-top for a year-and-a-half-now. (Shaddup.) (It never DID have a Butler.) (I'm going to grout it tomorrow.)

But then, horror of horrors, Edward the Kitty got sick with HIS familiar malaise. The one where he can't go poop and his meow gets all "crooked," as Jane (almost 9) says.

I called to make an appointment for him but I had to wait to make it until my husband could come home and help me get Edward out from under the guest room sofa. Which my husband did, because he's a prince of a guy. We shut Eddy into our bedroom with food and water until time to see the vet.

Ana (11) and I STILL had to get him out from under the bed--that was fun--and then load him into the carrier. Which was equally fun--although those orange tabbies are so nice. He was fighting like a tiger to keep from going into the carrier but he never scratched me, not once.

He did, however, FART at me.

You know how I feel about that word. (Look at Number 93.)

After I recovered consciousness and Ana stopped laughing, I said, "Let's never speak of this again." (Except, of course, I'm telling y'all because it's so funny.) (And nauseating.)

Then I took him to the vet.

There was some additional feline flatulence on the way there and now I think I have to sell my van.

Also, I told the people at the vet's office that I had tried to buy the low-residue food (which is supposed to make this constipation issue much better) but the pet store required a prescription for it. They were all, like, "Yup, yeah, I know."

And I looked at them. Finally I said, "Well, what is THAT about? How many people abuse CAT FOOD?"

They just looked at me. And then the tech started laughing like crazy.

Y'all? Why are vets writing prescriptions for pet food? I mean, there is nothing MEDICATED in the food. I don't get it. Who would willingly abuse getting some cat food at six times the price without a prescription? Is there a black market for pet food? Do thieves break into veterinary offices and steal cans of bland, tasteless, low-residue food to sell on it?

Seriously, I want to know.

Friday, October 02, 2009

In All Honesty?

I have been reading books from bloggers who have gotten book deals because of their blogs. (Not just because I'm a bitter and jealous woman, either (much.)) Reading these books, though, has got me thinking about the trade-offs and the ethics and a whole raft of issues that I never think about when I sit down to write my blog.

The Cake Wrecks woman released a book which is hilarious. The only thing is --and I hate to be picky-- the editors have edited out a lot of her humor in order to make the book entirely non-offensive or non-actionable, whichever. I understand why they did it and as the book goes on, a little of her edge starts to show. All humor has a bit of an edge, in my not-so-humble opinion. (Another tiny complaint is that my 11-year-old really wanted to read the book and I let her, but I had to warn her that there is an entire chapter on icing that looks like penises. (Penisi?) This was not my favorite conversation of the day. There are already a lot of pages devoted to icing mistakes that resemble poop --maybe that was enough? Just, you know, sayin'.)

And then I did my version of going to the movies, which is when a movie comes out that is based on a book and instead of actually seeing the movie, I read the book. (Because leaving my house to see a movie would be unheard of.) So, I read a good movie when I read "Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously." The book is a little depressing to me (probably an emotional echo of my own days of trying to find myself on no budget while living in semi-squalor and working a dead-end job) and Julie Powell has a seriously foul mouth, but it's an interesting premise. The thing I loved the best about the book was the depiction of her relationship with her husband, which sounds a lot like MY relationship with Coop.

So, then I got into full fan mode and I read the actual blog that the book is based on, and I read Julie's latest blog. I find her writing style a little all over the place, but it's entertaining and she's got a good turn of phrase and I got really interested in her story/success.

Unfortunately, in the course of reading all that, it turns out that Julie Powell has a new book coming out about how she had an extramarital affair.

Which just really made me...sad. And disappointed. In fact, I felt somewhat betrayed that this person in whom I'd become invested had turned out to be someone completely different from who I thought she was.

So, let me see if I am getting this right: I discovered a writer who is putting herself out there, blogging about cooking and life and marriage, who turned out to be someone different from the person she is IN MY MIND (since I've never met her) and I feel misled.

That is Crazy on Legs right there.

I mean, it happened after the time span covered by her book and the cooking blog and certainly, I wouldn't have read or wanted to read a blog about an extramarital affair.

It's just that I have this ...THING about honesty. And as I get older, the less tolerant I become of dishonest people, especially cheaters. Even little white lies make me re-evaluate my feelings for the person who just uttered them.

Then, of course, I started playing Devil's Advocate in my own mind because that's what I do--not content with being just generically crazy like most people. I started thinking about how honestly I portray my own life when I am writing on my blog. Because, you know, I don't detail every spat I have with my husband, or the times when our long marriage has gone through the doldrums. In the same way I don't post truly unflattering pictures of myself (much), or write in excruciating detail about my battle with depression and clutter and endless, endless dog hair. I do this purposefully because I feel like I don't want to add any more cynicism/bleakness to the world. But mostly, I try to practice gratitude and a sense of wonder as a way of life. It seems to me that the more you complain about your life and your spouse and your particular travails, the more common it becomes to see that and only that. My working theory is that the opposite is true, too--the more you exercise your Wonder Muscle (get your minds out of the icing), the more wondrous the world IS.

But is that dishonest? Would you feel betrayed if I reveal to you that things are not always so rose-colored in my world?

I don't know.

And more to the point, does it make for good reading? Because look what happened to Cake Wrecks when it got (mostly) sanitized for our protection --it lost some of its humor and interest.

Discuss amongst yourselves. I'll be over here cleaning up the dog hair...