Monday, August 26, 2013

When I Was A Kid, We *Feared* Gypsies...

The boys are sitting at the giant island having their fifth pizza lunch in as many days.  Obvious hint for future birthday party throwers: just buy pepperoni.  Any pizza with veggies goes literally untouched.

Regardless, the boys are wolfing down their pizza in preparation for a playdate.  They've gone to this house a few times so far, but it's not yet a regular thing.  We go through the pre-delivery drill.

"Remember your pleases and thank yous and give a big thank you for the birthday gift".

The big one nods solemnly.

"What's going to happen when we drop you off?"

It's the little one's turn to nod seriously."We'll be on our best behaviour."  We've yet to ask him to define behaviour, but it sounds good in the moment.

He stops then asks, "Are you going to stay there?"  It's a totally loaded question. Why should it matter?  The question makes me nervous.  

"No, but I'll make sure to hook up my secret cameras before we leave.  Carol, do you have them loaded up in the van?"

The little one pipes up, "I'm gonna find them, then punch them out."

"Oh, but they're secret.  Some look like buttons, some look like light switches.  You'd have to punch out all the buttons and switches in the whole house."  

This is going to a weird place.

"I'll find them all and punch them all right in the middle."

My mind races.  Studies show that kids act better when working with conscience type motivation, which works perfectly with the idea of God.  We haven't pushed the idea of God too hard, but now seems like a perfect time.

"You know who you can't punch right in the middle?  God.  And God is always watching you to make sure you're doing the right thing."

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Carol turning her back to us.  Her body is convulsing and periodic snorts send bursts of pizza at the wall.  The kids look to her and little questioning smiles spread across their faces.

Dammit.  One more parenting tool lost to the inability to keep a straight face.  We lost, "we're going to sell you to the gypsies" that way too.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

{scripted} : Sardine gotcha

Lee: Hey, there's a potluck coming up at work. Can you make something awesome?

Carol: Sweet awesome or savory awesome?

Lee: Let's go with savory. Everyone does sweet. Anything in mind?

Carol: Um, it would have to be something that you won't need to heat up.... what about something like ham roll-ups?

Lee: Yeah, they're pretty standard and recognizable.

Carol: They are. I'll look up some recipes and see if I can add something that will take 'em to a whole. notha. level.

Lee: Like sardines. You could add some chopped sardines and after people bite into it I'd be all like, 'Ha! There's a sardine in there! You're eating a sardine!'

Carol: [staring]

Lee: It would be like the ham-roll Crying Game. Awesome.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Page Wreath (or, one dollar's worth of awesome)

A couple weeks ago, I asked Lee to give me a book that he didn't really care about - I had big plans after seeing all of the book page wreath tutorials out there. It seemed like a super-cheap and super-easy way to add something dramatic to a wall. Never mind the perfect color combination of black ink on a creamy newsprint-ish paper.

I can seriously say that this is now my most favorite project ever. My four-year-old helped with twisting the pages and the two-year-old helped to take all of the ornaments off of the tree, put them in a big pile and lick each and every one. Fun for the whole family.

I started with a regular hardcover book, ripped the cover off and painted the outside of the pages with a combination of blue, silver and brown craft paint. I just wanted to give it a dirty, time-worn look. I didn't really achieve said look, but it still came out nice.

Then came the folding and gluing, folding and gluing, folding and gluing....

The finished product is GORGEOUS. It's a monster of a wreath -- that thing's over two feet wide. It's just perfect.

Whaddya think? Do you want one, too? Have you made one?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Because I love coffee *that* much + FREE SHIPPING WEEKEND

So, I figured three and a half months was a long enough hiatus for blogging. I wasn't sure how to dive back into the swing of things so a crafty post is as good as any.

Has anyone seen those crazy coffee filter wreaths lately? Seriously, Google 'coffee filter wreath' and you'll get exactly 49,300 results. Well, now it'll probably be 49,301. When I first saw them, I got this crazazy wild hair and was dying to make one, or fifteen. I picked up the supplies that I needed yesterday (ummm, coffee filters and a wreath form) from the dollar store and got to work.

Everyone's got a tutorial out there, so I'll spare you with too much detail. Essentially, take a coffee filter, fold it up a couple times and hot glue it to a wreath form. Proceed the burn the everlovin' skin off of eight of your ten digits.

I loved them INTENSELY when they were initially finished. I couldn't believe how perfect and beautiful they were. I think I may have had a teensy bit too much coffee this morning because I was even talking with a friend about making and selling a bunch of them because OHMYGODTHEY'RESOBEAUTIFUL. In fact, I made the decision that everyone in my life MUST own one of my beautiful wreaths.

Lee's mom came over for dinner tonight and I was still pretty-gushy about them. I asked her what she thought of the most beautiful wreath on the planet and her response? "Coffee filters?" She wasn't impressed. How did she know they were coffee filters? What has happened to the world?

Then the caffeine started to wear off.

Now, every time I look at them, all I see is coffee filters. I feel so jaded....

It was super easy to make them and only involved about two hours of neglecting the children while they attacked each other with plastic fishing poles. I'm still going to keep them up and maybe tomorrow morning after I have a couple cups o' joe, I'll love them all over again.

Now, that you've read this far, you deserve a TREAT! Head on over to the shop and get FREE SHIPPING all weekend. just place your order like usual and we'll refund your shipping right back into your account. Happy shopping!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

When "Awkward Family Photos" meets Etsy...

 2010 08 Knitmare

I think it speaks for itself..

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Maybe I Could Rate And Review Pillows... Or Earplugs...

I find it interesting that the market is being flooded by books from people who made money in the internet 10 years ago.   They've reverted back to the old media to tell the rest of us how the new media works.

Their first usual lesson?  The old media sucks because it can't keep up with the pace of how fast things are changing in the world today.

Ironic, no?

Their second lesson?  Make a presence with your passion.

It's very Kevin Costner/Field of Dreams.  Build it and they will come.

On one hand it makes me feel bad, because of all the people who are out there who are eating this advice up, wholesale and bland, without a single grain of salt in sight.  

On the other hand it makes me wonder: what is my passion, that is so strong that I won't leave for 2 month stretches without a peep?

There's nothing quite as depressing as assessing your life and realizing that the thing that most excites you is the possibility of getting a full night's sleep.

8 hours??  Uninterrupted??   ...where did the kids go?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Love Is Patient, Love Is Kind...

Inspired by the quintessential wedding reading, this card may be suitable as an everyday card for a partner with a sense of humor or possibly for that special someone who's taking just a bit too long to propose. You'd have to be pretty ballsy to use these as wedding invites, but how *awesome* would that be?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Home Office Redecorationpalooza 2010

What you're about to view may burn your retinas:

This was my office back when JunkMail Greetings was just a twinkle in my eye. Also, I clearly hadn't had kids yet because there was enough shit on the floor to choke all of the Gosselin kids. The office is made of solid redwood (I think?) so it was really dark and made me slightly claustrophobic. I have some other 'before' shots of the office, but to be honest, I'm too ashamed to post them. They're that bad.

Would you like to see what it looks like now? Welcome to the Ikea showroom!

Wanna know a dirty, little secret? Behind the shelves you see below is a fireplace. Yes, I have a fireplace in my office *and* I covered it up. All the years that I've had this office I think I only used it once or twice. Plus, it was taking up some major real estate. By covering it up, I gain an entire wall's worth of storage. Plus, when the wind changes and I all of a sudden must. have. a. fireplace. in. my. office, I can just move the shelves.

I used a pretty fabric from Joann's to line the back of the shelves. It creates a ton of visual interest and it also hides the above-mentioned fireplace.

I also set up a nice, little orders center next to my desk so that I can keep my shipping basics and orders all neat and tidy.

I painted out the bay window and made a bright and breezy area for the boys to hang out while I work. This window tends to attract a few ladybugs here and there, so they're usually climbing all over the place harassing their bug friends. The seat is the perfect height for Jack to stand and work on his important projects. It's also got a *sweet* view of the lake.

So there you have it. It seems all serene and lovely, but even as I type this, I'm yelling for them to stop pulling the curtains and throwing the books and drawing on the wall and smooshing the ladybug and knocking over the lamp and .........

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Should I Be Worried About The UPS Guy?

Do kids draw what they see?

I remember Jack used to draw people who were just heads. And I wondered if that was his perception. Do kids only see heads? Are torsos completely out of the range of recognition?

Slowly the heads grew arms and legs. It was a huge day when he drew the grandma from "Sid the Science Kid" complete with glasses.

The other day a friend sent me to this site. They take kids' drawings and have artists professionaly render them. I want to send him one of Jack's pictures and see what he can do with it. Maybe I'll send the one where Jack has drawn a family portrait, but replaced me with the UPS guy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Got The Lincoln, I Just Can't Pick Which To Choose...

I've been made aware of a new service on the interweb.

The site is called  On the site, it lists a whole bunch of people, who are willing to do a whole bunch of stuff for $5.

I love it.  It's ghetto outsourcing for the masses.  I was introduced to the concept of personal outsourcing in "The Four-Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferriss.  But this makes it accessible to any Joe Schmo, who for example, might have five bucks burning a hole in his pocket and happens to be in dire need of someone to translate a 1000 word essay into Thai.

I love the initiative.  The gumption.  The entrepreneurial spirit and the pure drive of capitalism.  I wish I was clutching a fistful of fives, just so I could commission my own "If They Mated" combo/blend picture for $5.  (Sandra Bernhardt/Mick Jagger mix.  They look so similar already, it'd be easy for the guy.  I just want to reward him for trying.)  Get another to write a love letter to Carol.  Nothing says "I love you" like a random stranger.  Who wants five dollars.

But then I came across this life coach.  There are so many things that I love about this guy:
First: for $5, he'll listen to your problems and secrets, with no speaking, for 5-15 minutes.
BUT, for $5, he'll give you a life coaching session for 30-45 minutes.

Wait a minute.  According the upper-end math, this guy is saying it is three times as painful for him to listen to you whine, then it is for him to tell you what to do.  Lower-end math?  His time is 6 times more valuable as an ear, then it is as a voice.

Unless his voice is transmitting the messages of the Angels.  Then that's an even five too.

I call him a visionary.  Literally.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Peep Show

I can't really say too much about this project, but here's a little taste of what's goin' down here at JMG. I should be able to provide more details next week, but I'll keep throwin' a few bones your way until then.

It's a cover-up

We've got three slipper chairs sitting in our Florida room (yes, a Florida room in Canada. Sun room?). And it's killing me to see them looking like this:

Especially since I've been trolling Target's sites for ages oggling their slipper chairs.

Product Image
So in the spirit of cheap-or-free DIYness, I got to work. I had a couple HUGE drapery panels that I was going to use at the New York Stationery Show last year, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I had gotten them on sale for about $9.99 (I think) for the pair. I took a look at the existing upholstery job on the chairs and it was in really good shape. Just ugly as sin. And sin's pretty ugly. Sometimes. If it's the bad sin....

Anyway, I decided to just cover over the current fabric because with two little monsters running circles around me, it was just the easiest thing to do. Plus, I didn't really want this project to take more than an hour.

As always, I had 'help'.

After a few coronaries involving a potential shortage of fabric (I only wanted to use one drapery panel per chair), this was my result:

Not bad, eh? I fancified it up a bit and nailed in some upholstery tacks, too.

And do us both a favor and don't mention how out of line and wonky they are, okay? I'd still like to stain the legs a nice espresso color and possibly do the third chair in a funkier, more colorful fabric - like the background in this photo:

But for now, I'm pretty pleased.

And while I was on my psychotic covering spree, I decided to do our oh-so-nasty dining room chairs. The kids have an incredible way of getting every. piece. of. food. they eat on these chairs so I needed a way to camouflage it.

Before, in all of its stain-y glory:

And side-by-side:

What do you think? Too busy? I think they'll cover up most of the garbage that gets dumped on them every day.

What about you? Any cover-up jobs of your own?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The part where I wax poetic about Rustoleum

I think it's safe to say that I'm a little obsessed. Only a little. I love redecorating. Rearranging. Re purposing. Just about re-anything. However, it's gotten to the point that Lee has absolutely no idea how the house will look when he comes home. I'm willing to bet that if the entire house were painted turquoise when he rolled up into the driveway, he'd just sigh. Because he knows I've got the crazy like that.

Lately I can't really take on any huge projects because I'm busy with Thing 1 and Thing 2. So, I'm forced to do little things to appease my need for environmental change. Today, I attacked a little nightstand that's been sitting in our hallway waiting to be stuffed away in the basement. It had it coming. It was looking at me all sideways and taunting me. So I pounced at the opportunity to put my .87 can of clearance Rustoleum Aqua Spray Paint. Who knew .87 could provide such therapy.

So, in between loads of laundry, dishes, building snowmen and baking low-fat brownies made with applesauce (gag), I tackled the nightstand.

Here's the before. I hired a model to to help me with the pictures:

Clearly, he likes to DIY as much as I do.

After a few coats of the aqua-colored-heaven-in-a-can, I drilled some holes for the smaller 3" centers on the new hardware and voila! I gots me somethin' pretty-like.

I probably have a million and one projects in the pipeline (including a housepainting project, but don't tell Lee), so I'll do my best to throw a couple your way every week.

What about you? Do you tackle projects in teeny tiny bites, too? Do you ship the family out for the day so that you can get it all done at once? Do you just say 'screw it' and hire someone?

The Sad Part Is: If You Know What I'm Talking About, You Need Improvement Too...

As I sit in church, I'm bothered by how much the new priest reminds me of someone.

Not a good someone.  

Not a friend or some trusted confidante.  There's some real negative emotions attached to this.

I have a bad habit of doing that.  I see physical similarities in people, mistake the similarities for auras, then pre-judge people based on what the other person was like.  I once told girl she reminded me of Bono.  At the time I thought it has something to do with auras and how they were both outspoken activists who advocated for a crapload of causes.  Turns out, it was really only cuz they both share that weird little bump on the bridge of their noses.  Either way, I don't think she was impressed.

But I'm staring at the priest and looking at the slightly greasy, balding pate.  The round cheeks that don't fit in with the rest of the face.  That little smile after every sentence like he just said something really insightful.

And then it dawns on me.

He looks like "The Situation".   

I want to poke the old lady to my left and whisper, "Hey.  Doesn't the new padre look like Mike "The Situation" from Jersey Shore?"  but it seems inappropriate.

Not to mention she'll have no idea what I'm talking about.

Then I wonder, who here *would* know what I was talking about?  How many people who watch Jersey Shore, also show up for mass at 9 am on Sunday morning?  I might as well ask if anyone recorded last night's South Park, no?

There's a part of me that tries to justify this as having a complex personality.

But I think you and I both know that I really need to upgrade my TV viewing. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Thought That "Bubonic Blanket" Had A Much Nicer Ring To It...

Approximately 3 years ago, we bought a red velour-y throw.  We thought it'd be the perfect car blanket to wrap the big one in, when he was little.

You might know the type.  It's about 5 by 7, it's super-lightweight and almost furry in its softness.  And if you drape it over a kid and pull it over them quickly, the static'll beat any Van DeGraff generator you've ever seen on Bill Nye.

It ended up being a bit too big to drape over a baby carrier, so it made its way into the house as a sofa throw.  But from there it's come to take on a whole new purpose.

It's played some type of comforting role in every single sickness that's taken place in this house in the last three years.  Any time that PJ's on the couch and Nyquil/Advil have been combined, this blanket has made an appearance.  Light, soft, warm.  Totally synthetic and puke washes right out of it like it ain't no thing.

Carol calls it "the typhoid throw".  I'd like to think she means it affectionately.  But I can't be sure.

It's been a solid year since the typhoid throw has made an appearance, but tonight I wrapped the big one up in it and tucked him in.  

101.  We're gonna be in for helluva night.

Monday, February 8, 2010

End-Fray. It's Awesomeness By The Bucketful In So Many Ways.

We've been considering coming up with a new line.  Something similar, but nicely (and nichely) complementary to the HateMail line.

HateMail was our baby.  It's what got us started.  We were HateMail, long before we were JunkMail Greetings.

But then we tried to look into the future and came up with the JunkMail brand to be the umbrella under which all of our products would stand.

And now we have a few different branches of products: HateMail, HateMail for the Holidays, HateMail Minis and JunkMail's Defined, Unsolicited and Invited lines.

And now we need a new one.

Brainstorming session.  (done while two kids are laying on the floor crying and yelling "Mine! Mine!")

 - something paper related - or even more specifically "junkmail" related.
        -flyer?  no.  insert?  no.  phone book.
                   - goddammit.  derail the train.  different direction.
- something print related - 
         -  ink.  press.   Gutenberg...   goddammit.
-  something elegant sounding.  maybe latin.
         - um..  I don't know any latin.  pax.  lux. veritas.  carpe diem.  pluribus unum.
                   - what about pig latin?
                                 - otesnay?  emomay?  goddammit.
- something signifying our second coming of HateMail
         - deux,  deuce
                   - maybe we can call it dooce, then call up dooce and tell her we named a whole card line after her and hope for free promotion?
                              - deux, deuce, douche.  goddammit. 
- something old and snippy sounding.  maybe an old lady's name.
         - mildred, gertrude, bertha, goddammit.

BREAK.  and so we stopped and took the children for random runs around the kitchen/dining/living room loop until the little one squealed to be put down.

And then it hits me.  End-Fray.  

"End-Fray!" I yell to Carol.  And the way she looks at me makes me put a big "goddammit" next to that one too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eats, Shoots and Leaves? Eats Shoots and Leaves?

For anyone who's ever seen the book "Eats Shoots and Leaves", we understand that the English language is a minefield of misunderstanding waiting to happen.

I recently took out a book titled "What Every Body Is Telling You - A Guide For Speed Reading People".  It's a terrible book.  Written by an "ex"-FBI agent, it's supposed to help you understand body language, but instead it just makes you question the caliber of the people in the FBI.

But it sparked a conversation that went EXACTLY like this:

Carol:  So, what makes that book only for speed readers?  I opened it up and it looks like a normal book to me.

Me: What?

Carol:  The book says it's for speed-reading people.  Why's it only for speed readers?

Me:  What?  Nonononono... it's not FOR speed-reading people, well it is, but, it's to help you speed READ people.  Like READ their body language.

Carol:  Oh...  Don't look at me like that.  You can see where the misunderstanding could come from.  Anyways, is it good?  Have you learned anything so far?

Me:  Nah.  It's fairly obvious stuff.  It has some interesting stuff where it links body language with innate physiological responses though.  Like that whole thing about crossing arms being a fairly hostile gesture.  It's supposed to be a protective thing when you're in an uncomfortable situation, you protect your major organs, blah, blah, blah.

Carol:  I always thought that was crap.  I cross my arms all the time.  I cross my arms because it's comfortable.  What else am I going to do with my arms?

Me:  But what makes it comfortable?  Maybe it's comfortable because subconsciously you've moved to protect yourself?  And that display of protection is kind of a passive-aggressive thing?

Carol:  Are you calling me passive-aggressive?

Me:  No, sweetheart.   You're very clearly aggressive-aggressive.  Let's not get it twisted.

The English language, ladies and gentlemen.  A minefield of misunderstanding.


Friday, November 20, 2009

...And May Allllllll Your Christmases Be Short.

Hey *Mocha*! You know. That's pure genius. I should have timed one of the boy's birthdays to be on Dec. 1. One month of Christmas and that's *it*.

Would you believe that when we got married, I "demanded" that Carol have any and all Christmas decorations down by Dec. 26th? Daunted by the prospect of such a tight deadline, we spent the first three years together with only two stockings on the fireplace and a creepy looking nutcracker on the mantel. Not even a tree! It was heaven.

But in the fourth year, a gust of "Who-the-hell-are-you-to-be-harshing-my-Christmas-mellow?" blew into the house. And the tree went up. And the wreath went on the garage. And cinnamon scented pinecones went on the heater vents. And none of it came down until around New Year's.

I admit I appreciate it now with the kids. Thanks, dear.

But anyways, Mocha, with your $50 credit to the JunkMail Etsy Shop, you can get your Christmas cards, maybe some bulk packs as Christmas gifts and even a birthday card for your son. (Though you might not want him to "screw the happy", y'know?)


The rest of you, thanks for entering! Make sure you're a fan on Facebook and possibly you could win the same thing as Mocha, but only one card at a time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reader Giveaway : O' Christmas Tree

This year's prize?

A $50.00 gift certificate good toward anything in our Etsy shop!

That could be a quite a few holiday gifts scratched off your list.


Answer one question: When do you start decorating your home for the holidays? Do you start one minute after Halloween? Or do you wait until the day before you have company over for ChristmasHanukahEidKwanzaSantaLuciaDay?

Post your response and we'll announce the winner on
Friday, November 20th.
Winners will be chosen at random
***Photo courtesy of Awkward Family Photos

Saturday, November 14, 2009


For a very limited time only:

We're clearing out last year's designs and are offering this holiday pack of ten cards for $5.00! Yes, that's only .50 a card! I did the math myself! With a calculator! Shut up!

This generous set of 10 matching cards features the following HateMail favorites:





You'll pick your own combination of quotes to make up this fun set. If you have a favorite and would like the same quote on all cards, please let us know in the 'message to seller' when you check out.

If you'd like a larger number of cards, shoot a convo our way and we'll make it happen for you.

Awesome. I know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pipeline Dreams

We've got a slew of new products making their way down the pipeline this winter. The release was actually supposed to be during the summer, but this whole stay-at-home-and-work-from-home-with-two-toddlers-literally-clinging-to-your-legs thing is a lot harder than it looks.

For me.

Don't judge.

So, here's a little sneak peek at a couple new designs gracing the Etsy circuit right now:

And They'll Vote Howie Mandel As Their King...

Leaving the pediatrician's office, we got on the elevator with the product of swine flu mania.

We walk up behind this guy, his wife and their brood of three, as they're making their preparations to leave. Alcohol sanitizer up to the wrists and hands held up in front of their faces to let the goop dry.

"Don't touch anything!" he yells at the little one, who looks to be about 3ish and probably has a long history of touching (and eating) things he shouldn't. When the green arrow dings, the five board the elevator like a crack team of surgeons; scrubbed and waiting to be gloved.

The smell of the citrus and rubbing alcohol is strong in the elevator and I wonder if the guy is concerned about the superbug he's creating with his enthusiastic use of hand sanitizer.

I find the idea of a superbug a totally fascinating concept. It's like Darwinism at its finest. Only the strong survive, so eventually we're left with only the ultimate of the species.

Then a thought hits me. What if neurosis is the ultimate trait for humans? What if I'm sitting here mocking this guy's paranoia and *I* end up being the guy who gets knocked out by H1N1 on some random elevator button because I wasn't phobic enough? What if the ultimate specimens of our species, and therefore the only survivors, are knuckle-bumping sleeve-sneezers who use Clorox wipes for Kleenex?

How silly.

But I've started washing my hands whenever I can. Just in case.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Next Year, I'm Giving Out Silverware...

As the big one comes back with bags of goodies, I feel almost cheap for giving out only four of the snack-sized chocolates to each of the trick or treaters who've showed up at our door.  But quite frankly, I've been cursed with small hands and four boxes of Milk Duds pretty much constitutes a handful.  And I don't think I could give out a handful and then one more.  It would have to be two handfuls.  Which seems creepily generous.   Suspiciously generous.  What-are-you-trying-to-prove/hide generous.

I'll stick with my four.  So far it's been sufficient to appease the little thugs enough to avoid any kind of vandalism.

We're not getting many kids this year.  We're not even getting close to touching the "emergency bowl" of candy.  (The stuff I've set aside for personal consumption, but leave close to the door just in case the regular stuff all goes.  In the past four years, a Reese Cup has yet to cross the threshold in the wrong direction.)  

The big one makes three return trips, each time dumping a full bag.  I do the "floor sort".  I'm 26 years rusty, but it's like riding a bicycle and the muscles fall into that familiar groove.  Chocolate in one pile, chips in another, good gummies and candies in a third, then two more unclassifiable piles; one good and one bad.  When we were kids, the black-white-and-orange "witch" candies, toothbrushes and raisins got put in the bad unclassified pile.  Caramel apples, McDonald's coupons and money went into the good unclassified pile.  The McDonald's coupons didn't really belong in the good pile, since no one ever used them, but there was just something good about anything from McDonald's.

This year's unclassified piles were rather odd.  A full size can of warm Coke.  LOTS of full size chocolate bars (which are excluded from the regular chocolate pile based solely out of sheer respect for the awesomeness they represent)  A few KoolAid Jammers.  And a clock. 

A clock.  The kind that tells time.  And hangs on the wall.  I'm not sure how it compares with a caramel apple, but it was definitely at the top of the good pile and the kid was bananas about it.

With my tiny little hands, I can't beat that.  That's worth two handfuls for sure.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Or What About "You'd Better Recognize..."

When our first child was born, we worried about normalcy.  We compared against everything: percentiles, checklists that our doctor gave us, kids of friends now, memories of kids of friends in the past, what our moms told us that we used to do, etc., etc.  (I was apparently a very early bloomer, by the way.)

With the second kid, not so much.  We've learned that everything comes eventually, every kid is different, and that there's enough to get grey hair over without seeking it out.  (If tapping dinky cars on LCD screens is a milestone, our kid's got it covered.)

But if we're comparing, with language the little one is definitely behind where the big one was at his age.  He's really only clung to and used about five words for the past six months.  Everything else is communicated with a violent head and body wagging which means "no".  I'm guessing that since 93% of what he wants to say is "no" this has been particularly effective for him.

But in the last week, it's been an explosion.   He's been repeating everything.  And those words that don't sound like they're supposed to are used consistently enough in context to determine what they are.  Case in point:

Carol:  I love the fact that Sammy says "thank you" every time you give him something.

Me:  But he doesn't.  He says "gai".

Carol:  Yeah, but he'll say "peeez" and you give him what he wants, then he says "gai".  It means thanks.

Me:  You can't be sure of that.  It could mean "go to hell"  or "haha, I got you again, bitch".

Carol:  You're a jerk.

Me: Gai.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Leave Me Alone. It's Like The Scariest Frickin' Movie Of All Time.

I remember watching some benign show where they happened to use the "stabbing violin" track for some purpose.

My niece, who was 4 at the time, totally freaked. I was surprised since she was too young to be socially conditioned into thinking that sound was scary. Therefore there must be something inherently stamped into our wiring that tells us that stabbing violins are a scary sound.

Or the Grudge sound. (Now, I wanted to put a clip here to remind you what that sounds like, but jeezus, they don't have youtube clips without shots of the girl's face and frankly, I can't take it. And to put it up and have to see it every time I come here would be too much. But here's a stand-in. You get the idea.)

Along the same lines, there's another sound that brings a bit of panic: rattling doorknobs - that sound of someone trying to get into where you are.

Wanna know what makes that sound really well? Little hands spinning those childproofing doorknob thingies. And even though it happens at the bathroom door at 7:15 every morning, I have to admit, it still freaks me out a little bit every time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

JunkMail Greetings. This Is Lee. How Can I Help You Today?

I think I first started really using the phone in fifth grade.  Maybe that's when you realize that other people have lives outside of yours and that maybe you'd better call before showing up at their door shouting, "Can John come out and play?"  I think it was also the first time I had a real friend who was not in my neighborhood or school.

My parents were real sticklers for phone etiquette.  Much like a telemarketer selling vinyl siding, I had a set script to open every conversation with.

"Hello Mrs. Brown.  This is Lee calling.  Is Ricky available to come to the phone?"

No alterations except the substitutions of names.  My parents hated picking up a phone and having some kid blurt out, "Lee there?" and forbade me from ever doing it.

This made me sound like the biggest dork, but endeared me in the hearts of all my friends' parents who were also sick of picking up the phone to "Tammy there?"  It also probably groomed me a bit for my stint in the business world and my briefer stint in telemarketing. 

The other day, watching Law & Order SVU, Benson opens up her phone and says, "Benson. Go."   And it sounds so natural.  Like that's the way people should answer phones. So I thought I'd give it a try.  

Ring, ring.  (actually, my personal ringtone for Carol is the little snippet from Newcleus' Jam On It, where the little guys are yelling "Wiki, wiki, wiki, wiki... Shut up! Yeah, we know, we know."  Mind you, it's a personalized ringtone and Carol's face pops up on the screen and Carol is the only person who calls me, so I'm fully aware who's calling.)

Me:  "Lee. Go."

Carol:  (pregnant pause)  "Um.  What the hell was that?"  

Me:  "It's the way I'm going to answer my phone from now on.  Go."

Carol:  "Um, no?  You know who's calling and I know who I'm calling, so you just sound ridiculous."

Me:  "Okay, then what about, 'Your loving husband. Go.'?"  ( I don't know if that punctuation is right. I started getting lost when I started using apostrophes for quotes.)

Carol:  "Quit telling me to go.  You keep answering the phone like that and if you don't already know who's calling, you'll know it's me because I'll be the one hanging up.  It'll be like "Ring, ring.  Lee. Go.  *click*  Oh shit, now I gotta call Carol back.""  (again, sorry about the quotations.  I just figure they travel in pairs.)

And thus went my attempt to break from the ranks of formality and join the ultra-efficient world without cellphone hellos and goodbyes. 

I'm still going to use it on the telemarketers though.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekly Contest Rules

So we thought we'd institute a running contest.  Every week, we grab a name off of facebook and send them a free card.  Simple, right?  

But in order to make it seem all official and stuff, we thought we'd better set some ground rules.  (This part is especially difficult since we don't really want to commit to anything, y'know?  We don't want to miss some promised draw date and have you sending your lawyers after us.)


Once a week, probably on the Monday or Tuesday (But maybe the Wednesday or Sunday.  Never a Friday.  Except in emergencies.) we will open up our facebook page and look at the little box that shows our fans.  Whoever happens to be on the top of the list gets a card!

Easy, right?

We'll practice reverse-discrimination and if you happen to be someone we know or see at least twice a year, we won't send you a damned thing and we'll move on to the next person on the list.  It sucks, we know, but we figure our friendship should be reward enough.  And you get cards from us anyways.  It's called Christmas.  (Except last year.  Sorry, we were busy.)  

No other rules.  

Sound good?  


Sunday, August 2, 2009

If I Was A Cop, I'd Just Park At The End Of A Taco Bell Drive-Thru Starting At 11 Every Night...

As we drove home from a day of Home Depoting, Lowe'sing and Harbor Freighting, we stopped to get a bite to eat.  

Not knowing the neighborhood, we grabbed the first thing we saw; Del Taco.  The big sign says "39cent tacos from 11am to 11pm".  So, being cheap,  I order 4 tacos.  Carol orders a combo.  Carol's order involves all sorts of extravagance as well as fries.  This apparently was too difficult for the people working, so they just shoved 7 tacos in the bag and sent us on our way.  By the time we had sifted through the bag of cheap meat and wilted lettuce to notice that all the items were exactly the same, we were too far to turn around.  Cost of gas versus the cost of tacos, it would've been like 3 tacos worth of gas to go back and complain.

And who likes spit in their food?  (You can't see, but my hand's not up.)

So we continued on our way, with our eyes peeled for something that might replace Carol's quesadilla.  The options were crazy and it struck us that if you don't mind eating crap these days, crap is plentiful and cheap.  $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza.  3 buck Whopper Jr meals.  2 for $4 subs at Arby's.  A buck for something which is apparently crunchy and covered in bacon and cheddar at Checker's.  (The meat wasn't specified.  I'm not sure if they're hoping that some people will eat anything covered in bacon and cheddar?)   

I'm just finishing my $1.56th taco and starting on number five when Carol pulls into White Castle. 67 cent sliders.  Minus pops and fries, we could manage to make two adults grotesquely full for less than five dollars.

And as we pull back out into traffic, I scan the array of food and wrappers in the front of the car and pray that we don't get pulled over for any stupid reason.  Cuz the drug dogs would be getting a call for sure. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

From Wikipedia's Pacer Page - "A Jellybean In Suspenders"

Growing up, we were all about the road trip.  Not that we were averse to flying, but if there wasn't an ocean in the way, chances were we drove.

And the 70's were a great time to be road-trippers.  Cheap motels with pools, greasy mom and pop diners and the total absence of seat-belt laws made for an atmosphere that embraced the Britney Spears in all of us.  Or maybe we just spent too much of our time travelling south.

My dad had actually considered buying the AMC Pacer as our family car, purely for the "fishbowl/greenhouse".  He wanted us kids to spend every minute looking out and taking in the world.

Thankfully we dodged that bullet and got a full-sized Chevy van instead.  Fully carpeted interior, floors AND walls. (Don't come a-knockin')  The ceiling had cork tile with a roof vent.  The middle was empty, but the back had two facing benches with a table in-between.  (Therefore, passengers in the back rode sideways and would knock their heads against the wood banisters marking the ends of the benches, if the driver stomped on the brakes too hard.)  On long road trips, we would actually throw one of those cheap foam sofa bed into the middle section, open it up and just roll around for 1400 miles.  

The amount of distance between the driver and the back allowed for more "experimentation" as well.  I remember making a kite out of McDonald's straws and napkins and trying to fly it out the back window doing 70 mph on I-75.

We sold the van before I got to driving age, as the family trips dwindled and it became less practical.  But now, almost a quarter of a century later, things have come full circle and we find ourselves with a van (though mini) again.  And I'm absolutely amazed by it.  There's absolutely no selectiveness required in packing for trips.  If the thought crosses our mind that it might come in handy, it gets thrown in.  Three strollers for two children?  Why not?  

And now that we're potty training, we've designated one back corner as the literal port-a-potty.  And when he gives us the two minute warning of "I gotta pee" it's just a matter of pulling over, unbuckling him and getting him into the back.

My biggest love?  He sits so high with those huge side windows and spends every minute looking out and taking in the world.

And yelling "Mighty Machines!" whenever he sees a truck.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Retro-Bloggage : Oh, Why Bother...

Originally posted on July 29, 2007
I've never been one for small talk.  I think it's the insincerity of it all.  Meaningful conversation or nothing at all.  Very rarely do I actually care how you're doing when I ask "How are you?"  so why bother?
In addition, I've mentioned that I have nine friends.  Nine friends is enough.  There's guys in there I haven't spoken to in 8 months.  I can barely keep up with the friends I have, so I'm not at all in the market for any more.
This all adds up to a frightening degree of anti-socialness.  I like to think I put off an aura like a hissing cat.  Strangers don't approach me.  (Carol on the other hand, seems to invite and welcome all kinds of *witticisms" from people who pass within five feet.)
So I'm standing in the return line at Marshall's, in my cocoon of don't-talk-to-me, when I hear, "Excuse me.  Excuse me."  And since it's so odd for strangers to approach me, my mind doesn't even register the possibility that someone's talking to me.  Then I feel a punch on my leg.  I look down and there's a sweet little girl, about 1 or 2, looking up at me.  Now she's not the one who's talking, so I look up at the mother, and she asks me, "Don't it look like she got a touch of the pinkeye?"
I'm not sure if it was the flipflops, four days scruff, or the fact that I'd been waiting 20 minutes to return a $9.99 shirt which made her think I was a pediatrician, but what could my response be?  I decided to give it my best shot.  I knelt down and said, "Hey sweetie, have you been rubbing your eyes too much?"
She gives me a big smile, licks her hand and punches me again.  (After some observation, it became apparent that the hand licking was a *thing* she did.  Which might not explain the pinkeye, but would be my first suspicion if she had any other ailments.)
So I tell the mother, "There isn't any discharge, and even the tearing doesn't seem abnormal.  I wouldn't worry too much." 
To which she replies, "Yup, looks like the pinkeye."
I went back to my cocoon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's A Good Thing I'm Not A Profiler...

The lady slid into the seat in front of us and stared intently at where the speaker would come from.  She looked to be in her mid 40's and had on a rather nice white suit jacket, a pair of those jean/capri things with the wide cuff and those slipper shoes everyone's wearing these day.  She had an olive-ish complexion and a straight, mid-length brown hair.

Well, almost straight.  There was a fist-sized shock of it standing straight up out of the back.  If you were looking down from the top, and her nose was 12 o'clock, it would have been at around 7 o'clock.  And absolutely perpendicular to the rest of her head/hair.

And it made her look crazy.  Not metaphorically crazy.  But not mass murder crazy either.  Just that hint of too-many-cats, government-conspiracy, voices-that-don't-say-to-kill-him-,-maybe-just-trip-him kind of crazy. 

And I couldn't get over it.  She was well-dressed, apparently clean, and for all I know, she just couldn't see the big clump in the mirror.  But something in my mind had her chalked up as absolutely nutty.  When she turned our way, there was a pre-judged whack of "crazy" that I could see in her eyes.

So I scanned the crowd.  What other characteristics make a person look unstable?  And my eyes settled on the guy with the perma-grin.  What the hell *was* he smiling at?  Didn't he realize that the problems of an adult life should be prominent enough that random grinning was not allowed?  I regret that unjustified happiness should count as a sign of skewed perceptions, but frankly, it does.

So.  So far, bed-head and smiley-faces are quick visual cues pointing towards mental instability.

Aw, hell.  My kids must look nuts.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Eyes! My Eyes!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm completely addicted to The Superficial. It's a guilty pleasure. Shut up.

This had me...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Who Invited Pauly Shore?

It's ironic (in a non-ironic Alanis Morissette kind of way) that when I didn't need a lawn, I had a great lawn.  But now that I have kids I get grubs and moles and big-ass picker weeds that grow 3 feet tall.

I once considered covering the entire property with astroturf.  What an incredible expense, but in the long run I think it would pay off.  Coincidentally, this was also the time I was considering shaving my head and wearing wigs, and pulling out my teeth and getting dentures.  I was going through a real "pro-artificial" phase in my life.

I've just read a story about people in the UK using wallabies as lawn maintenance.  And I thought to myself, "Why aren't we doing this?"  Well maybe not wallabies.  But sheep at least.  Currently, I mow the lawn and bag the clippings and let them compost.  I could be saving on gas, time AND getting a big mutton by the end of the year.  This really flows with my whole "hyper-efficient' philosophy.  It would be even *more* hyper-efficient if I actually liked mutton. 

I could potty train the sheep to only poop in one corner and then have a whole pile of fertilizer to work with.  Which would go back into the grass, or into the garden to help grow tomatoes and cucumbers.

I know that goats make feta, but is there a special lamb cheese?  I'm trying to work things towards the ultimate goal of ending up with a gyro-and-greek-salad biosphere.  Whilst wearing wool socks.

The best part of biodome living?  The grubs and moles wouldn't be allowed.  Well that, and the fact that I could walk around telling Carol, "Hey, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," and it would actually be kind of double entendre-ish.