Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolution Reconciliation

I actually don't remember what resolutions I made last year, or if I even made any.  So, instead, I am reporting on positive developments achieved over the last twelve months:

I lost twenty pounds.  And then gained, roughly, ten of it back due to stress eating and a general lack of attention to my health while we have been dealing with house issues.  But I can report that I am back on the wagon.  Last night, we went to Del Frisco's as a family.  Everyone else ate red meat and potatoes.  I ate tuna tartare, steamed asparagus and a nice tomato and onion salad.

Everyone else looked at me like my hair was on fire.

I started cleaning the house.  Myself, versus hiring it done.  Okay, so this wasn't initially a conscious choice - when the floors started to buckle after The Event, we waved off our housekeeper for a week, and then two weeks, and then the insurance company informed us that we needed to move out, and then we started to pack, at which point cleaning the house didn't make a whole lot of sense, because we were messing things up faster than she could clean.  But then we moved into the apartment, and I could have recalled her, but I decided that even I could handle 1200 square feet, and it might be therapeutic, and with the money that we were saving I could pay for some of the things at the house.  Update:  It has been therapeutic, and continues to be so, and by my count I have saved enough moolah to pay for my built-in microwave and fancy granite sink, plus a couple of other bells and whistles.

I swore off Neiman Marcus.  The sum total of my 2011 purchases, I believe, consists of a pair of Kate Spade sunglasses and a shhhweet Alexis Hudson suede hobo bag, which I purchased at Last Call for 80% off of retail, on a day when I had mentally given myself permission to purchase a Tory Burch bag at a much higher price point.  So I think that I deserve a TREMENDOUS pat on the back for this one - given that, in 2010, I jumped several InCircle levels on the basis of a couple of shopping trips alone. 

Really, I haven't done much recreational shopping this year at all.  Even my Montgomery Plaza Super Target activities have declined.  As noted previously, having to pack up all of your belongings on precious little notice adds a new sense of perspective - I really don't want to have a lot of stuff anymore, because having stuff means that you will be accountable for that stuff if, say, you have to move it.  No bueno.

My good friends say that they don't know me anymore and that they suspect that, possibly, I have been replaced by a pod person.  (They said the same thing when I told them that I selected a neutral palette for the kitchen and the boys' bathroom.  Predictions are that I will paint everything orange within six months of moving back into the house.)

Right now, I have a little Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket, and I am committed to not spending a dime of it on anything other than stuff that we need for the house.  Thus far, I have purchased two induction-friendly cookpots (because all of the Circulon stuff that we registered for isn't magnetic and therefore won't work on an induction cooktop - but, you know, good riddance, because I hate my Circulon stuff, plus it's fifteen years old) and two oil-rubbed bronze towel rings for the kitchen.  I have big plans for the weekend - cabinet hardware, wall-mounted soap dish, a lazy susan for my new craft closet.  It's gonna get all kinds of crazy up in here.

I have said "yes" more often, specifically to the kids.  Yes, I will color with you.  Yes, we can bake cookies.  Yes, I want to see the magic trick that you recently perfected.

I am also perfecting "no."  "No" does not come easily to me, but after the year that we have had, and in light of various issues that still remain, I am prepared to say "no" - no, I don't need a committee chair position in Junior League.  Or an officer position in Woman's Club.  Been there, done that.  Taking a break of indeterminate length.   I deserve it.  And, also, I need it.

I'm sure that I have made other positive strides in 2011.  I just don't remember what they are.

25 of 25: Christmas Recap

We came, we saw, and - like Milton's squirrels - we were merry.

(Did you get the "Office Space" reference?  Did you know that there was actually a spirited debate within our family as to whether the Stephen Root character describes the squirrels that he used to be able to see out of his office window - when he actually HAD an office window - as "merry" or "married"?  For the record, they were merry.  Which probably means that they weren't married.  Heh, heh, heh.)

Evening of the 23rd:  Festive holiday celebration at Friend Melissa's.  You have to appreciate a hostess who:

Puts out a separate buffet spread for the kids (not pictured, but totally cute).

Sets up a Christmas photo booth.

Hangs a Christmas pinata in the garage.  And then, an hour or so later when kid attitudes were starting to flag, hangs another one.

Also not pictured:  my spouse encouraging the adults to roundhouse kick the pinata, Chuck Norris-style, after the kids were initially unsuccessful in taking down pinata #1.  Yes, at least one mom (wearing spike-heeled boots, no less) took him up on the offer.  By the time pinata #2 appeared, Spouse and I were enjoying a lovely champagne and cassis beverage with friends and were utterly unmotivated to poke at a pinata, because that would have involved getting up and separating ourselves physically from the lovely champagne cassis beverage.

Evening of the 24th:  Dinner and presents at the in-laws.  Lots of fun now that there is an adult niece and a soon-to-be-sister-in-law in the mix, in addition to sister-in-law #1.  Throwing in my mom-in-law, the adult guy-to-girl ratio was 1 to 1.  This is unprecedented in the history of the McGlinchey family.  Have I ever mentioned in this blog the fact that there hasn't been a female born to the McGlinchey line since 1889?  This is my answer when people ask why we stopped at two children:  because I only wanted two boys, not three.  I would not be surprised if you told me that these people did not actually possess X chromosomes.  Somehow, they have been getting by, for more than a century, on just the Y.

This would explain why I occasionally feel like the house mother in a frat house.

Okay, not occasionally.  All of the time.

Nephew Brandon and wife Courtney scored major points with our boys by presenting them with the Nerf functional equivalent of a machine gun.  Times two.  It was immediately suggested that we label the guns in Sharpie marker so that when someone (ahem - PJ) broke his we would know which one was broken.  Spouse printed PJ's name unobtrusively on the underside of the gun.  Then I jokingly asked PJ if he wanted me to monogram the gun in Sharpie marker.  Spouse was appalled when PJ said yes, because this is proof that the monogramming thing is so ingrained in them that they actually think it is appropriate to have a monogrammed gun.

I thought it was hilarious.  And I gave PJ the monogram that he requested:  "The three letter kind, Mom, with the last initial big in the middle."

Morning of the 25th:  Major explosion of LEGOs in the living room.  I am still stepping on shrapnel.

Santa brought PJ a ginormous LEGO Hoth Ice Base set, a Commander Cody Transformer (the #1 item on his list - actually, it was the only item) and a bunch of Imaginext Batman villains complete with lair.  We now have an entire Imaginext Batman village going on - low-rise Bat Cave, high-rise Bat Cave, Planet OA and Joker's Fun House.  The little dog is overjoyed, because this means increased opportunities to decapitate action figures.

Fisher-Price really needs to market a "Superhero Triage Hospital" and sell replacement heads and feet.  Just sayin'.

Santa brought C:

The even more ginormous LEGO Ewok Village set, which he constructed in a nanosecond before moving on to appropriate the Ice Base from PJ;

A Spy Net video watch, which is a source of much continued amusement - to his parents (see below); and

The Hoodie Buddie that the elves had to work overtime to secure.

In the pockets of the Hoodie Buddie:  an iTunes gift card and a Target gift card.  Because the elves remembered on the 24th that the charger to C's iPod is missing.  Given that it would be kind of cruel to give a tween a Hoodie Buddie that he could not enjoy because his iPod was nonfunctional, the elves set out on Christmas Eve morning to secure an iPod charger, only to be told by the Apple Store geniuses (genii?  Whichever term is appropriate, I use it loosely) that said charger never existed.  At that point, the elf in question decided that he would be damned if he would give the Apple Store his business and set out to procure a new iPod, except that the desired model was no longer in stock at the North Pole.  So C got a Target gift card, and his mom's iPod as a loaner.

Santa also threw lots of cool boy-appropriate stocking stuffers the boys' way, including Batman and Star Wars comic books, a folding six-foot carpenters' ruler for C, and erasers shaped like mustaches.  I think that the stocking stuffers got a better reaction than the other stuff, which is amusing to me, because I was always a stocking stuffer girl.  Guess it's genetic.

PJ received an Uglydog keychain in his stocking, to add to his Uglydoll keychain collection.  (I think that we are up to six or seven.  None of them actually have keys on them, but he likes to attach them to his belt loops and wear them out in public.  He can get away with this, because he's seven.) 

C got a Star Wars keychain that plays sound clips of Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2D2 and an Ewok.  And this is where things got amusing:  at some point late on Christmas Day, C discovered that the video watch, in addition to shooting video and taking time-lapse photos, can be used to record sound clips and turn them into alarms.  So he held up the keychain to the watch and recorded various noises.  Then he came in all excited, with brother in tow, exclaiming that he had figured out how to record things by holding a recording device up to them.  It was apparent from his demeanor that he considered this to be a significant innovation in technology.

Holding back our laughter - well, a little bit - we explained that THIS IS HOW PEOPLE RECORDED THINGS BACK IN OUR LITTLE KID AND TWEEN DAYS.  YOU TURNED ON A RADIO, YOU HELD A CRAPPY TAPE RECORDER UP TO IT AND YOU MADE A CASSETTE TAPE.  And if someone walked in during the middle of your recording session and said something, then their voice - or the sound of your dog barking, or the sound that the tape recorder made when you fumbled and dropped it - would be recorded for posterity.  Not an innovation - a REGRESSION, and proof that all things are circular.

Afternoon of the 25th:  Roast beast and wild rice casserole at my parents.  A generous helping of wild rice, plus two loaves of fresh-baked bread and two bags of homemade candy, went home with us, to join the Kentucky Derby pie that my mom-in-law sent home.  You never totally grow up, do you?  Further proof that you don't grow up:  as is the case every year, I got stocking stuffers, too.  Grown-up ones - no mustache erasers, but I did get an eyebrow pencil.  In excess of 40 years old, and still getting makeup from Mom for Christmas.  Gotta love it.

Mom also procured several items off of my Pinterest wish list for the house - cabinet and pantry organizers, glass canister jars, and THIS bad boy:

Ladies and gents, I present to you the Kik-Step rolling step stool in the copper finish.  Guaranteed to immediately add 18 inches to your height.

The Kik-Step was actually presented as a gift to Spouse - on the theory that when we move back into the "not-new-but-definitely-improved" house, with its 42-inch to-the-ceiling upper kitchen cabinets, I will be able to retrieve things on my own, without disturbing Spouse with annoying requests while he is attempting to watch a ball game.

Both mothers offered to store various Christmas gifts for us until we move back in, which was incredibly thoughtful - but I insisted on taking the Kik-Step back to the apartment.  Currently it is in the master bedroom closet.  And I can report that it is totally awesome.

PJ walked by it and asked:  "Why did you steal a step stool from the library?"

Because it is totally awesome.  And, also, because I am short.  Duh.

Hope that everyone out there in the blogosphere scored the number one item on their Santa list as well . . . .

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Recent conversations between myself and the seven year-old:

[As we are walking downtown on a Wednesday afternoon, heading to see the Jaycees holiday tree and procure a cupcake from The Cupcakery.]

PJ:  Mom, I'm ready to go home.

Me  [assuming that this is a complaint about our displacement - by my count, complaint number one zillion and twelve]:  Honey, the house doesn't have a floor.  We can't go home.

PJ:  No, Mom, I'm ready to go back to the APARTMENT.

Me:  Oh, okay.  Well, you know, no one's at the apartment right now, because Mom had to come into the office and Dad is volunteering with your brother at the chili lunch for the homeless.

PJ [stopping in the middle of the sidewalk and doing his best Justin Timberlake impression]:  GIVE IT ON UP TO HOMELESSVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLE.  [Yes, jazz hands were displayed at the end.]  Hey, Mom.  I just realized something:  chili is soup.  And that's what they serve at Homelessville - soup.

Me:  Right, except that there's no actual charity called Homelessville.

PJ:  That's what Santa says, but Justin Timberlake tells him that it's only one of the oldest soup and free-coat facilities in the northwest.  So, it's totally real, Mom.

Me:  I stand corrected.

[While I am scrubbing the toilet and he is taking a bath in the master bathroom.]

PJ:  Mom, what kind of girl do you think I am going to date or marry?

Me:  I don't know, hon.  That's kind of up to you.

PJ:  NO, Mom.  When we walked in while you were watching the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, and the angels were talking about the one angel who's super-smart, you said, "That's the kind of girl you need, boys - a hot geek."  So I have to look for a hot geek.

[So my children are familiar with the Victoria Secret Fashion Show.  Sue me.  And, yes, it's possible that I advised them that hot geeks are the end-all, be-alls of girlfriends.  Because they totally are.]

Me:  You don't have to do anything - but I think you would be happier if you find someone who enjoys doing the things that you like.

PJ:  Right.  So I need a girl who's nice, and funny, and smart, and active, and who enjoys ACTIVITIES.
[By the way, this is a good summation of PJ himself.  Kid's pretty self-aware.]

Me:  Sounds like a plan.  What activities?

PJ:  Ummmmm . . . sports.  And . . . .

Me:  Travel?  [This was kind of a joke.  As noted in a prior post, PJ's not a big fan of the concept.  Because we have museums and stuff AT HOME, so why inconvenience yourself by going out of your way to look at someone else's?]

PJ:  Ooh, that's a good idea.  Hey, Mom, know where I want to go?

Me:  I have no idea.

PJ:  Florida.  [Wow, dream big, kid.]

Me [anticipating that the answer is going to be "Disneyworld"]:  What's in Florida?

PJ:  Sharks.  Sharks in the ocean, and sharks in aquariums, because there are sharks in the ocean and it's easy for them to catch them.

Me:  Hmm.  So you want to go to Florida to look at sharks.  What else?

PJ:  Um, pretty much just look at sharks.

Let the record show that, while I may exhibit questionable parenting skills by exposing my children to SNL and Victoria's Secret angels, I must be doing something right, because at least one of said children did not drink the corporate consumer Kool-Aid.

But he is a big fan of marine biology.

Friday, December 23, 2011

23 of 25: A Serious Moment

Because I can be serious when I want to be.   No, really, I can.

I gave the attorneys in my office beautiful wooden candlesticks made of reclaimed natural wood - very Pottery Barn-looking ones - along with white pillar candles.  Each one was unique, and each was accompanied by our family Christmas card with the following note affixed to the back.  And, yes, I quoted Scripture, because - irrespective of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof) - there's truth in the statement, and it is a truth that, I think, transcends all philosophies.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 
- John 1:5

There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in. 
- Leonard Cohen

Between my dad’s illness, 130,000 gallons of water gushing under our home and more insurance adjuster and general contractor problems than you can shake a stick at, the McGlincheys have had their share of dark moments in 2011. Thank you for being patient and for providing me with a much-needed sense of normality during “interesting times.”

When you have to pack up your entire life on a week’s notice, you develop a different relationship with tangible objects. I find myself buying less, and I am constantly asking myself and my children: “Do you care enough about this object to be willing to pack and move it?” If the answer is no, the item doesn’t make the cut. What does make the cut: things that are useful, unique or beautiful. This candleholder carved from reclaimed wood satisfies all three criteria – and, on a personal note, after many hours spent dealing with the realities of warped beams and joists, I find it therapeutic to be reminded that not all old wood is bad wood.

May you always see light at the end of the tunnel, and when you find yourself fretting over cracks, remember that that’s how the light gets to you.

I hope that the light always finds you, too.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

22 of 25: I Want a Hippopotamus Party for Christmas

Because I am trapped in a crappy apartment, of course I am thinking about the parties that I could be having if I was not trapped in a crappy apartment.

Toying with the idea of creating a new holiday, tentatively named "Re-Establishment Day," to commemorate the day that we move back into our house - whatever day that turns out to be.  Re-Establishment Day will be celebrated as follows:

One:  I will decorate the house for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas simultaneously - being the three holidays that we spent in the crappy apartment.  (I am studiously ignoring the fact that we will also be celebrating New Year's in the apartment, and perhaps Valentine's Day, and I'll stop there in the interest of preserving my Christmas spirit.)  I probably will refrain from putting up the big tree, but the tabletop tinsel tree will be somewhere - perhaps decorated with measuring tape and hardware.

Two:  I will invite our friends to come see the "new and improved house" and, perhaps, return a family photo or piece of artwork to its rightful place on one of our walls.  As nice as it would be to have everyone help us unpack, I really think that that's an unrealistic proposition, given that unpacking is a pretty personal process - both in terms of the order in which you unpack things and in terms of not wanting people to see your underwear, or the contents of your kitchen junk drawer.  I speak from experience:  we had folks help us unpack when we moved in the first time, I left the room for a couple of minutes, and when I returned my glassware had taken up residence where I'd planned to put my dishware.  ELEVEN YEARS LATER, MY GLASSWARE WAS STILL MISPLACED, because I never mustered the energy to shuffle everything.    This time, everything's going to go where I want it to go. 

So . . . that leaves the family photos and such, which are conveniently boxed and stored in the corner of my office.  We'll move those over last, anyway, in the interest of not seeing them get broken, so I thought it would be a nice touch to have people help with that last step in the moving in process. 

If we don't involve people in the rehanging, maybe we'll have them flatten a ceremonial box or something.  I'm still in the planning stages.

Three:  Liquor will be served.  Also, possibly, some food.

In subsequent years, Re-Establishment Day will be recognized with another open house, which may or may not involve a multi-holiday decorating scheme, but regardless I will serve people liquor and say, "Look, we've been here X years since the diaspora ended, and we haven't cluttered things up too much."  (Or, if we have cluttered things up, might I suggest that the looming specter of a Re-Establishment Day open house will motivate us to get our rears in gear?)

So, I'm getting myself through this out-of-sorts holiday season by focusing on celebrations to come - including Re-Establishment Day, but also the "nexts," as in "next Halloween" and "next Christmas."  Having new finish-out will necessitate revisions to how I decorate and will perhaps inspire new party concepts.  I have already come up with two for next Christmas:  a hippopotamus party and a boy mom cookie swap.

The inspiration for the hippo party should be obvious.  LOVE that song, and - let's face it - the Santa/reindeer/snowman motifs are played out.  So, next year, I'm going with hippos.  Hippos wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers and/or smoking corncob pipes.  One way or the other, I will make them festive.

The inspiration for the boy mom cookie swap is the Star Wars Christmas cookies that I made with my boys last week, and the plain-and-simple peanut butter blossoms that we made Monday night.  It occurs to me that boys like to make - and eat - cookies just as much as girls do.  It also occurs to me that girl moms get to do the whole smocked-dress-and-hairbow-and-matching-bags-of-cookies thing, but there is no equivalent celebration for boy moms.  So I'm going to have a boy mom cookie swap, but the rules will be different:

There will be no smocking of any sort, and obviously no bows.  Nor will there be sweater vests paired with ties, which (I am informed by a twelve year-old) are the functional equivalent of smocked dresses.  Dress code will be t-shirts, cargo pants and tennis shoes.  (I predict that my oldest will wear his skull and crossbones tee, where the crossbones have been replaced with candy canes, and my youngest will wear his red-and green tie-dyed tee featuring a pirate dog wearing, I believe, a Santa hat.  Because, apparently, nothing says the holidays to my children like pirates.)  Cookie selections must appeal to boys, meaning that, at a minimum, they must be tasty, and also, preferably, they shouldn't be shaped like angels, or iced in pink.  Awards will be given to the most boy-appropriate cookies.  (With our extensive Boba Fett shortbread-and-gingerbread dinosaur experience, we would have this one in the bag, so I feel that we must recuse ourselves from the competition.)  Oh, and the ice ring in the punch would have boy stuff frozen into it.  Like Matchbox cars and LEGO minifigures.

Tell me I'm not onto something.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

21 of 25: Tasty Holiday Beverages Invented By Yours Truly

Seriously, what did we do without smart phones?

Standing in the juice aisle at Super Target, staring at a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry pomegranate blend and wondering how I can turn it into a festive non-alcoholic beverage for a Christmas party.  So I Googled "cranberry pomegranate punch," and I was rewarded with Giada De Laurentiis' recipe for virgin pomegranate and cranberry bellinis, which you can access here.

Excellent.  Except that I had already put a bottle of ginger ale in my basket, on the theory that many a festive holiday beverage begins with ginger ale, and I didn't feel like returning the ginger ale to the end cap from whence it came, so I decided to eschew the sparkling water line-item and wing it with the ginger ale.

And it was good.

I give you my recipe for:


2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 (64-oz.) bottle Ocean Spray 100% Juice Cranberry and Pomegranate Blend
1 (2-liter) bottle ginger ale
3 limes
Frozen cranberries for garnish, if desired

Chill the juice and ginger ale in refrigerator.  In a saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and allow the syrup to cool.  Mixture should reduce to 3 cups and can be kept in the refrigerator overnight.  When ready to serve, combine juice, ginger ale and syrup in pitcher or punch bowl.   Add juice from 1 lime; slice remaining limes and float slices in punch.  You can add frozen cranberries for additional color, but HERE'S A TIP:  there is no such thing as frozen cranberries unless you freeze them yourself. 

True story:  several years ago, I was trying to reproduce a friend's punch recipe, which called for frozen cranberries, and being that I am blonde I spent a good half-hour searching the frozen food section for frozen cranberries.  I finally complained to a store clerk - it's the holidays, dammit, and therefore peak cranberry season, SO WHERE ARE YOUR CRANBERRIES? - and store clerk blinked a couple of times, then said in a quiet voice (so as not to further disturb the crazy woman), "Um, we have bags of cranberries that can be frozen, so perhaps you could buy one of those and put it in your freezer?"

Well, duh.
While I was making my simple syrup, I enjoyed another tasty holiday beverage, the recipe for which I am reproducing below.  Consider it a holiday bonus.


Coffee Mate peppermint mocha coffee creamer (the kind that they sell in bottles in the dairy section)
Vodka (I used Grey Goose)

That's it - just creamer and vodka.  There are no other ingredients.  Keep reading.

Pour some creamer into a cocktail shaker.  Just eyeball it.  Add some vodka.  Add more vodka.  Remember that the ice-maker in your craptastic temporary apartment is broken, so the cocktail shaker is kind of superfluous, because you won't be straining anything over anything.  Shake it anyway, and "strain" mixture into plastic tumbler left over from your 40th birthday party.  Because you didn't bother to bring martini glasses to the temporary apartment, and you're all out of red Solo cups.  Consider rimming the glass with crushed peppermint candy but then remember that (1) you don't currently own any candy canes and (2) the drink is already in the glass, so the decorative rim ship has sailed.

It's good just by itself - promise.  No fancy crushed candy or straining over ice required.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

20 of 25: The "E" in E-Mail Stands for "Elf"

Reproduced below is an e-mail from me to Spouse, dated 12/19.  I'm sure that those of you with children may find the general subject matter familiar.  As to the specific subject matter, a "Hoodie Buddie" is a hooded sweatshirt with a jack for your MP3 player in the pocket, and the drawstrings to the hood have earbuds on the tips.  Yes, it is washable.  Big Kid requested a sweatshirt that would accommodate his iPod (I think he was talking about one with a cutout for your earphones to come up through the neck), but this is that theoretical sweatshirt gone "amps on eleven."  I immediately liked the concept of the built-in earphones, because THAT'S ONE LESS THING FOR THE TWEEN TO LOSE.  If something can be separated from something else, it will be lost.  Period, paragraph.

Here's the e-mail.


The Hoodie Buddie people apologized to Santa: sweatshirt ordered by his elves (in the tween-approved, eye-assaulting black and turquoise graphic print) is no longer available, and the system was not even supposed to let the elves place their order, but somehow the order went through, and the Hoodie Buddie people did not notice this until the elves e-mailed it to their attention. Santa has now received a refund confirmation in his inbox.

The elves in Santa's information technology department located the same item (different print, but still tween-acceptable - eye-assaulting dark gray and green digitized plaid) at JC Penney. Evidently, Penney's has restocked since the elves' last recon trip. Not sure if restocking is online only or if units are available in the store as well. The IT elves have our Upromise account information on file, and one of the links through Upromise indicated "standard shipping by 12/20 for holiday delivery," so the elves bought a sweatshirt and requested that it be delivered right down the chimney at our current residence. In an abundance of caution, they also ordered one "ship to store." We'll see which one arrives first. The elves have promised that they will return the extra one.

The elves will not be denied. They still remember the Christmas of 2003, when C requested a Power Rangers toy that was a Wal-Mart exclusive - and that, evidently, sold out in early October. As you may recall, due to patent issues the elves were not able to duplicate said toy in the workshop, so they had to pay a man on eBay an obscene amount of money to ship THE ONLY POWER RANGER MEGAZORD WHATZIT IN NORTH AMERICA to our home - except it didn't arrive on time, so the elves were forced to spring for an I Can Play electric guitar. For a four year-old.

That four year-old is twelve now. And he WILL be getting a Hoodie Buddie, if the elves have to die trying.

Love you - K

Monday, December 19, 2011

19 of 25: More Guilty Holiday Music Pleasures

1.  "Christmas Is The Time To Say 'I Love You'" by Billy Squier

Apparently, this song was originally the B side to Squier's "My Kind of Lover," which is another guilty pleasure of mine, in that he repeats the phrase "My Kind of Lover" AT LEAST thirty times in the course of a two-minute song.  Just when you think he's finished saying it - he says it again.

So.  Awesomely.  Awful. 

2.  "Elf's Lament" by The Barenaked Ladies.

Speaking of repetition, check out these lyrics about a labor dispute at the North Pole (detailed from an elf's perspective):

We're used to repetition, so we drew up a petition

We, the undersigned, feel undermined
Let's redefine "employment"

We know that we've got leverage, so we'll hand the fat man a beverage
And sit back while we attack the utter lack of our enjoyment

It may be tough to swallow, but our threats are far from hollow
He may thunder, but if he blunders, he may wonder where the toys went

Loves me some Barenaked Ladies, and so do the kids:  we listen to "If I Had a Million Dollars" and their version of "The Other Day I Met a Bear" on a continuous loop in the car.  Except at Christmastime, when we switch to "Elf's Lament."

3.  "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid.

If you are a child of the eighties, you HAVE to do all of the voices:  Bono, Boy George, George Michael, etc.

I am a child of the eighties.  I do all of the voices.  And my kids look at me like I've gone daft.

4.  "Hard Candy Christmas" by Dolly Parton.

Awesomely cheesy.  Made even more awesome by the fact that it was written for the "Whorehouse" movie.  Which makes me think of sorority rush - OKAY, BEFORE YOUR MIND GOES COMPLETELY INTO THE GUTTER, HEAR ME OUT.  One of our rush skits was a salute to Broadway musicals, and one of the songs was from "Whorehouse," BUT WE CHANGED THE LYRICS:

Texas has a sorority house in it
[Lord have mercy on our souls]
Texas has a sorority house in it
[Lord have mercy on our souls]

We'll expose the facts because it fills us with such pride
What goes on in the house of ADPi
[What goes on in the house of ADPi]

Rush is goin' on inside
And can't you see, we're having fun
We've inquired, no one's denied it
ADPi's are number one

Singing, dancing, drinks are shared
No other house compares
No one can compete with ADPi
They wouldn't dare
[No one can compete with ADPi]

Do you know UT has more sorority houses
[Oh, no]
Filled with green-eyed
Peroxided blondes?
[Oh, no!]
Not to mention some types
That you'd never want to venture near
Acting all depraved, loose and wild
Half a mile from here

Texas has a sorority house in it
[Lord have mercy on our souls]
Texas has a sorority house in it
[Lord have mercy on our souls]
Welcome to our house
We hope that you will linger long
Lots of love and friendship goin' on
[Goin' on, goin' on, goin' on, GOIN' OOOOOOOON]
At A D Pi [bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum] YEE HAW!

BOO YAH!  From memory, peoples!  Because "Hard Candy Christmas" makes me think of "Whorehouse," it also makes me think of ZZ Top's "LaGrange," which was a song inspired by the actual Chicken Ranch in LaGrange, Texas, LaGrange also being home to the Bon Ton Bakery, which was the favorite bakery of the parents of my pledge class BFF, and her 'rents always stopped there on the way up to Austin for Parents' Weekend, and one time they brought me this particular kind of sweet roll that I did not enjoy because the bread-to-raisin ratio was way off, but I pretended that I liked them, and FOR THREE YEARS THEREAFTER EVERY TIME THEY CAME INTO TOWN THEY BROUGHT ME THOSE SWEET ROLLS BECAUSE THEY WERE "OUR THING," AND I NEVER HAD THE GUTS TO SAY, "I'D REALLY RATHER HAVE SAUSAGE KOLACHES.  SAUSAGE KOLACHES ARE MY ACTUAL THING."

A couple of years later, when Spouse was finishing his last year of law school, and I was planning our wedding, we spent a lot of time on the road between Austin and Houston, which happens to cut through LaGrange - and if we happened to be in the car together, as soon as we saw the Bon Ton, we would start humming the guitar riff from ZZ Top. 

It was our thing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

18 of 25: Fashion a Festive Christmas

Fun with clothing, courtesy of my holiday Pinterest board.  (Check yesterday's post for the link.)

Elf leg warmers made from Christmas socks, courtesy of Haydie Potatee's Etsy site:

Also on my Pinterest board - socks turned into coffee sleeves.  These would make a great gift for a neighbor or teacher, wrapped around an empty paper coffee cup with a Starbucks gift card tucked inside.

If you get invited to a tacky sweater party this year, consider bringing the host or hostess a bottle of wine tucked into its own Cosby sweater.  Love these cozies from ScrappyLynn's Etsy site:

And, finally, if you are giving someone two shirts for Christmas, consider putting one shirt in a box, and then wrapping that box with the other shirt.  Saw this idea in Country Living Magazine; love the vintage brooch pinned to the shirt in the picture below.

Holiday fashions:  they aren't just for wearing anymore!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

17 of 25: There's SNOW School Next Week, MAN!

Methinks that a celebration is in order. A snowman-themed celebration. Starting with donut snowmen:

(Image courtesy of Family Fun.)

Can't have donuts without milk:

(Image courtesy of the Bakerella blog.)

The Little Kid would get a kick out of an ice cream snowman with a marshmallow head:

(Image courtesy of Luxefinds.)

Big Kid doesn't care for ice cream, but I bet he'd like one of these cookies:


(Image courtesy of the Be Different, Act Normal blog.)

We also have a snowman cookie cutter on hand. And - law of averages and all - at least one of them is bound to break. In which case we totally oughta ice it like this:

(Photo courtesy of Glitterdeli on Tumblr.)

(For links to the sources referenced above, visit my holiday Pinterest board:

Friday, December 16, 2011

16 of 25: Self-Gifting

Let the record show that I tried to apply my Pottery Barn "$25 off of a $50 purchase" reward coupon towards a gift for a loved one . . . other than myself.

Really, I did.

But they didn't have the little pewter server thingy that I thought that both of our mothers would enjoy.  Appears that I missed the boat on that one.  I saw several mercury glass items that my mother might like - but I already filled this year's mercury glass quota at another retail establishment.

Picked out a tree ornament, but because of a current promotion on ornaments that only got me me $5 of the way towards $50.  I had all but settled on a holiday centerpiece that Mom didn't particularly need, but might enjoy, when I decided to swing by the linens section in the back of the store.

Where I encountered an embarrassment of pillow cover riches.

See, the Spouse and I have reached an agreement.  No more throw pillow purchases.  Because, really, enough is enough.  The boys think that the "throw" in "throw pillow" is to be taken literally, and once a pillow hits the floor, then it's fair game for the little dog, who thinks it's super-fun to lift his leg on things left at ground level.  It's kind of ironic, actually:  my favorite game as a smallish child was "Don't Touch the Ground."  Did you ever play that when you were little?  Basically, the goal was to get all of the way across a room without touching the ground.  Meaning that you walked on furniture . . . until you ran out of furniture, and then you were permitted to toss throw pillows in front of you and hop from one to the other until you could reach the next piece of furniture. 

Now, as an adult owner of a male dorgi dog with some combination of an overactive bladder and an inferiority complex, I find myself playing a variation of "Don't Touch the Ground," called "Don't Let Anything That Can't Be Thrown in the Washing Machine Touch the Ground."  It's not as much fun, believe me.

Memo to file:  adopting from the pound an adult male dog who is set in his ways is not the world's greatest idea.  Stick to puppies.  Female ones.

But I digress . . . .

I can't buy any more throw pillows, but no one said anything about throw pillow covers.  Throw pillow covers are the loophole to the throw pillow moratorium.  They take up virtually no room, and they allow me to get two different looks from the same throw pillow, which only makes the throw pillows that I already own THAT MUCH MORE RELEVANT.  Or, from Spouse's perspective, ACTUALLY SOMEWHAT RELEVANT.  How can Spouse object?  He can't.  Which totally ticks him off. 

He is predisposed to hating throw pillow covers, anyway, because (I am informed) they fall under the category of "inexplicable girl obsessions-slash-things men are blissfully ignorant of until they get married."  Also in this category:  charger plates and non-functional window treatments.  You know, like valances.

For the record, I can take or leave charger plates.  I own them but never remember to use them.  But I am a fan of valances, or at least the ones in my kitchen, and when we move back into the house I AM TOTALLY REHANGING THEM.  My mother made them for me, for Pete's sake.  Out of a tobacco leaf linen fabric that I searched for FOR, LIKE, A BAZILLION YEARS.  And so I am being careful to pick a paint color for the walls that will harmonize with the valances, WHICH ARE STAYING, DAMMIT.

Spouse predicts that the valances (or, as he refers to them, "the dust-catchers") may "disappear" during the move.  I told Spouse that, if they do disappear, he will be the "only person of interest" in the ensuing investigation.

Back to the pillow covers. 

This is one of the pillow covers that I previously purchased from PB (on clearance!  with free shipping! and they threw in the monogramming!), not realizing that they are ginormous.  24" square, which is only 2" off of a Euro bed sham.  (Begging the question:  do we really need a 26" pillow concept AND a 24" pillow concept?  Apparently, we do.  Even I, as a carrier of a girly girl card, find this somewhat dubious.)  The kids like to lounge on them, and I have been thinking for awhile that I needed a second set of covers for them - in part, because the first set is summery-looking, and also because having a second set of covers would justify the fact that I now own two 24" pillow inserts.

This is one of the 24" pillow covers that Retail Santa bought for me.  (That's Retail Santa in the foreground.  I just named him.)  33% off, plus the $25 discount on top of that.  These colors would actually look good on our bed, when we are reunited with our actual bed, and with the quilt that normally goes on our bed but that somehow went to Blackmon Mooring instead of the apartment.  The quilt is, actually, sort of Retail Santa-ish.  So I know that the pillow covers will look good with the quilt, because they look good with Retail Santa.  And, thus, I think that, going forward, the 24" pillows will summer in the living room and overwinter in the master bedroom. 

Which means that the "his side" and "her side" pillows that normally grace our bed can make a lateral move to the living room:

But what should they wear?

Aha.  These bad boys were 67% off, prior to the discount.  They are a darker teal color than what I normally display in the living room, which I think makes them look winterish.  Winter-adjacent?  Let's go with that, because they are linen.  But they are a dark teal linen.  And, at a glance, they could be burlap - which is, in my humble opinion, an all-season fabric.  Not that linen can't be multi-season, situationally; I mean, we practically live in the tropics, people.

But back to the pillow covers.  They are slightly bigger than the "his side" and "her side" pillows, which I knew going in.  But I also knew that I would find a way to make them work, because they were scandalously priced, and did I mention that they are a DARK, WINTERISH TEAL?  So here's my elegant solution:  every fall, I will wrap some quilt batting around the pillows.  One piece side to side, the other top to bottom, and I will handstitch nice running seams to keep everything in place.  What's that?  Do I own quilt batting currently?  Not in any usable quantity, no.  But the moratorium is against throw pillows, NOT AGAINST QUILT BATTING.  Another loophole.

I'm going to have my monogramming guy embroider them in a dark russet, or maybe a golden tan. You did know that that was coming, didn't you? What's the point of a throw pillow - or throw pillow cover - if you don't personalize it? Anyway, one is going to say "The McGlincheys, Est. 1996," and the other is going to have our address and "Est. 1999, Re-Est. 2012." Because I assume that I will be allowed to move into my house at some point next year.

Spouse approves of the embroidery plan.  See, that's the way I get him:  a throw pillow, by itself, not relevant.  But a throw pillow with something relevant embroidered on it:  UH, OH, MOMMA FOUND ANOTHER LOOPHOLE.  All it takes is a witty or sentimental saying, and he's on Team Throw Pillow.  Sort of.  As much as he possibly can be.

Now, about Retail Santa:  I bought him for a dollar at the Junior League resale store.  Trust me when I tell you that the Junior League resale store is a treasure trove.  It's like going to the antique mall, if the antique mall owners went all crazy-altruistic and started slashing prices.

Purchased in the same shopping trip (okay, not so much a shopping trip as "Kathryn going off of her volunteer shift and purchasing things on her way out"):  this trifle bowl with wire and glass jewel embellishments in holiday colors.

You can't tell in this picture, but it's a generous size, and it was FOUR DOLLARS. I currently am using it as a repository for Christmas cards (both cards that we have received and cards that I am in the process of addressing), but eventually I will put a trifle in it.  You know, after I remove the cards.

If only my shopping for others was going as swimmingly as my shopping for moi.  (Yes, "swimmingly" was an intentional reference to the merman ornaments from yesterday.)

16 of 25, Part Deux: The Real Elves of Cowtown

This one just makes me happy.  So happy that I might try to keep it, if it weren't for the fact that it's "promised" to the manager of a local Western couture shop.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

15 of 25: Probably NSFW, But HI-flippin-LARIOUS

I was too efficient in my "friend gift" purchasing.  If only I had learned about these first, I would be putting them under several trees.

Regretsy featured these "Diamonds of the Sea" ornaments the other day, and I just had to share.

This is Salty.  Salty Merman.  But, given that it appears that Salty has enlisted in the Navy, it would also be totally appropriate to refer to him as a seaman.

 Salty Seaman.

This is Logger Merman.  I can totally see one of the "American Loggers" from the reality show bringing this fellow to a holiday ornament exchange.  If loggers have ornament exchanges.  And enjoy getting beaten up in connection therewith.

This Merman's name is Mario.  The glasses-on-the-head thing does have a certain Mario Lopez-ish vibe to it.  Am wondering if it's an homage.

Pretty clearly, Zircon Merman is an homage to the kid from "Blue Lagoon."  And, seriously, how sad is it to be the Diamond of the Sea named after a fake diamond?  A guy really knows where he stands in the pecking order.  (Heh . . . heh . . . heh.)

This is White Tuxedo Groom Merman.  Looks a wee little bit like Anderson Cooper.  Just sayin'. 

There is also a Black Tuxedo Groom Merman.  (That would be a Caucasian merman - if it's correct to refer to a merman as Caucasian - wearing a black tuxedo, not an African-American merman - again, if my nomenclature is correct - wearing a tuxedo of any color.  Just to clarify.  Caucasian merman is brunette, because, evidently, it is important to match one's hair color to one's tuxedo.)  Together they would make for a lovely anti-Prop 8 statement . . . particularly if you are a political activist with an aquatic-themed tree. 

The Web site says that either of the Tuxedo Groom Mermen would look lovely with Bride Mermaid.  (Yes, there are mermaids, too.  Any resemblance between said mermaids and drag queens is, I'm sure, completely coincidental.)

I'm not convinced.  I think Bride Mermaid is a natural counterpart to Tuxedo Bride Mermaid.

I could go on.  Yes, there is a cop, and a construction worker, and an Indian.  You can totally build your own collection of Village People mermen.  There is also a hairdresser named Bruce.  Oh, did I mention that the construction worker's name is Jack Hammer?

Of course, Spouse immediately asked about pricing.  ($23.95 per unit.  Heh . . . heh . . . heh.  "Unit.")  This is exactly the sort of thing that, at a lower price point, he might buy for his brothers as a gag gift.  (Heh . . . heh . . . okay, I'll stop.  For now.)  For the record, his brothers have earned a lifetime supply of gag gifts.  Spouse still hasn't gotten over the trauma of our first married Christmas at his parents' house.  The younger siblings asked for a gift suggestion for me, and - naive boy that he was - he provided them with a serious suggestion and told them that I wanted a Charles Barkley-autographed basketball.  (No, for reals - I have a Hakeem ball in my office, and I wanted a Charles to go along with.  Because, for years, I was forced to pretend-hate Charles when he played for Phoenix, because Phoenix was our Western Conference nemesis, but pretending to hate Charles made me feel dirty, because I LOVED Charles, the way I loved Bill Laimbeer.  Unapologetically and whole-heartedly.  Thus, I wept tears of pure joy when he got traded to the Rockets - similar to the happy tears that I wept when Hakeem and Clyde Drexler were reunited, and again when Clyde got his championship ring.  Man, I wish we'd gotten Charles a championship ring.  Hopefully, the fact that I named my cat after him is small consolation.

Have I mentioned that?  That my oldest Maine Coon's full name is Charles Wade Barkley McGlinchey?  Have I mentioned  that I acquired him on Human Charles Wade Barkley's birthday but DIDN'T ACTUALLY KNOW THAT UNTIL A YEAR LATER?  Seriously, it was a total coincidence.  Clearly, he was destined for the name.  It suits him to a tee - he's my "round mound of rebound," and he's "not a role model.")

I digress.  McGlinchey Sons #3 and #4 were, at the time, quite young (#4 was still in high school) and therefore not flush with cash, and, also, they each had (still have) a wicked sense of humor.  So they bought me an actual gift (I forget what it was), and then they went up in the attic, MAYBE five minutes before we were supposed to exchange presents, and they retrieved a somewhat deflated, ancient basketball, and wrote fake autographs all over it with a half-dried-out red Sharpie marker.  Not all of the autographs are from basketball players - some MLB and NFL greats are represented - and all of them are misspelled in kind-of-hilarious ways.

Needless to say, Spouse was scandalized (he did not know me then as well as he knows me now), and I thought it was the greatest gift ever.

While they were in the attic, the boys ran across a ticket to a Billy Ray Cyrus concert.  Yes, the "Achy Breaky Heart" Tour.  Was there another one?  Allegedly, the ticket belonged to Spouse.  So his brothers "framed" it in a cracked cassette tape case that they also found up in the attic, and hastily wrapped it, and gave it to Spouse immediately after presenting me with my non-autographed basketball.

Spouse was not amused.  At the time, I was still Catholic.  He probably was worried that Billy Ray Cyrus concert attendance was grounds for an annulment.

When I showed the Seamen - I mean, Mermen - to Spouse, I pointedly refrained from telling him that one of the ornaments is called the "Legal Briefs Merman."  The two brothers in question are both attorneys.  I am quite confident that presentation of that information would have gotten Spouse over his $23.95 sticker shock.

You're welcome, guys.  Now buy me my damn basketball already.

14 of 25: When Fanboys Bake

These are what pass for Christmas cookies at Casa McGlinchey:

On the left:  Yoda.  Duh.

On the right:  Jango Fett.  See, he's Jango, because his helmet is bluish instead of greenish.  If he was greenish, he would be Boba Fett.

It's really quite tragic that I know that.

I tend to keep things simple when I'm decorating cookies with the little kid:  add the color directly to the dough, and decorate with just one color of royal icing.  Well, a non-color.  Specifically, white.  Sprinkles:  also white.  Nothing to stain the counters or little hands.

We also baked shortbread "message cookies" (featured above) and peanut butter cookies - the old-fashioned kind with the criss-cross fork marks.  Very boy-friendly, and definitely boy-approved.

Next on the baking agenda:  gingerbread dinosaurs.  A McGlinchey holiday tradition.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Further Reflection

It's getting all "Good Will Hunting" up in here.

Seriously.  The Little Kid MAKES THIS FACE.  Complete with the furrowed brow and the divot between the eyes.  I was just too lazy to search very hard for an appropriate photo, and settled for this overly smiley one.  But you get the general idea.

Maybe they'll collaborate on an Oscar-winning screenplay.  And then take their mom to the Oscars.

A girl can dream.

Apropos of Nothing: OMG Moment While Watching Glee And Surfing Google Images

With apologies to Jimmy Kimmel:  I'm raising Matt Damon.

13 of 25: Top Ten Lists and Favorite Things

In lieu of a "year in review" Christmas card letter, I am once again resorting to image boards. (Hey, I'm a visual person.) I may get around to creating some for the grown-ups in the family at some point, but let's be realistic - these things are never about us, are they?

Top ten 2011 milestones and memories for the Big Kid:

1.  Signing off as an elementary school Stu Co rep.
2.  Demonstrating how tornadoes form and winning the group Science Fair prize along with two of his buddies.
3.  Trip to Camp Carter and luau party to mark the end of fifth grade.
4.  Winning the academic achievement award.
5.  Second year on the dive team and first year to swim the individual medley in competition (but we're still a backstroker at heart).
6.  Spending the majority of his summer at Ridglea (shown here participating in the Memorial Day bellyflop competition - in a fake mustache).
7.  Science camps galore - LEGO robotics, Battle Bots and computer animation.
8.  Last summer as a day camper at Camp Thurman.
9.  First day of sixth grade at the JP Elder Academy of Science and Art.
10.  Whiz Quiz as a blood sport.

Some of the Big Kid's favorite things in '11:

1.  Horseback riding.
2.  Anything science-y.  (Shown here puzzling over aeronautical things at the Museum of Science and History.)
3.  Skateboarding.
4.  His cat Max.
5.  Diving.
6.  Swimming.
7.  His buddies, new and old.
8.  Apparently, growing out his hair.  (We have stopped calling him Justin Bieber, because his coloring is too fair.  Instead, he is "Trouty Mouth" from Glee.  He does not object to the comparison, because he knows that it is dead-on.)

Top ten 2011 milestones and memories for the Little Kid:

1.  First year playing soccer for the Jedis.
2.  Limo ride to Chuck E. Cheese (along with big brother) in recognition of being a top PTA fundraiser seller.
3.  Having his art featured in a public display at the Fort Worth Library's main branch.
4.  First year as a Camp Thurman camper.
5.  Really starting to swim and dive, after flirting with the idea of following in the Big Kid's footsteps.  (Early indications are that we have a small butterfly specialist on our hands.)
6.  Shark birthday party.
7.  Bye, bye, baby teeth!
8.  First day of first grade in Ms. Teichelman's class (and first year to fly solo without the Big Kid at our campus).
9.  Moving out of the house and learning more than he ever wanted to know about apartment living.  (Hey, he'll be ready for college.)
10.  Cutting the front of his hair and not telling anyone about it.  (Mom had her suspicions, and Hairdresser got him to fess up.)

Some of the Little Kid's favorite things in '11:

1.  Batman and all things Batman-related (pictured:  The Joker).
2.  His buddies.
3.  Reading chapter books, particularly scary ones.  Goosebumps are a go-to favorite.
4.  His great-grandmother and Ace the Batdog.
5.  Ice cream (pictured here on a stick, but he'll take it any way that he can get it).
6.  NERF guns.
7.  Drawing.  Drawing anything, on any surface, using any medium.  Kid's an artist.
8.  Star Wars:  The Clone Wars.  (Pictured here wearing a clone trooper helmet that his brother made for him out of paper.  Not making that up. Brother's an artist, too.)
9.  Trying out his brother's skateboard - for a nanosecond here and there.  He has a healthy fear of it - and that pleases Mom to no end.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Apropos of Nothing: RG3 Is Super, But He Picked The Wrong DC Comics Metaphor

For the record, I was cheering for Robert Griffin III to win the Heisman before he showed up sporting DC Comics footwear.  And he didn't really need the socks to prove that he was a superhero.  To paraphrase a friend from high school who attended RG3's alma mater, he did the impossible:  HE MADE BAYLOR RELEVANT.  (That's not coming from me, people.  I am quoting an actual Baylor alum.  Don't hate the player, hate the game.)

But I do question his choice of DC Comics footwear.  Not simply because he went with Superman, and, IMHO, Superman is WAY inferior to Batman.  I just don't think that Superman is the correct metaphor for a quarterback.

Batman is the general.  The quintessential team leader.  The play caller.  The guy with a multitude of weapons in his arsenal who is flexible in his thinking and knows when to go with an exploding batarang and when to break out a can of bat shark repellent.

Substitute "the run" for "exploding batarang" and "the pass" for "a can of bat shark repellent," and you have RG3, or Vince Young (the UT Edition, not the NFL Edition).

Superman is all about brute strength.  Superman plays on the line.  And Flash, clearly, is a running back.  But Batman is the QB.   Period, paragraph.

12 of 25: All I Want for Christmas Is a Truckload of Money From the Tooth Fairy, Some Non-Crunchy Breakfast Food and a Way-Back Machine

Big Kid turned twelve, and apparently his twelve-year molars got the memo. He lost tooth #1 on the drive to school on Thursday, and this morning I awoke to, "Oh, good, you're up. LOOK," followed by a bloody tooth being shoved into my field of vision. Today's tooth was not a molar. It was the lone eye tooth that was hanging on in his mouth.

Now he has a gap on one side that you could drive a truck through, and I am informed that other teeth have provided their notices to vacate, so good thing that we took family photos when we did.

Of course, I was called upon to make pancakes on the spur of the moment, "because I just don't think I can chew anything else, Mom." Fortunately, I have the assembly-line pancake thing down, and I always make extra to warm up in the microwave the next day, so that's Tuesday's breakfast taken care of. Dad inquired as to the breakfast options available at Big Kid's school and was informed that, "Everything's too hard to chew."

Do they have eggs?

"Yes, but the eggs are crunchy."

Excuse me?

"You know, like an omelet?"

What the heck kind of omelet are they serving you? Oh - it's the FILLING that's crunchy. Bacon, apparently, is involved.  But do they offer anything else? Scrambled eggs, maybe?

"Only way you can get scrambled eggs is in a tortilla, and I don't think I could tear a tortilla with my remaining teeth."

Have you considered OPENING the tortilla and just eating the egg filling, perhaps with a fork?

Never mind. This is my blonde child we're talking about. (It's okay - I was once a blonde child myself, so it's totally not racist when I say it.)  The same blonde child who was watching a three week-old recorded episode of "Modern Family" in the living room this past Saturday and came running into the bedroom, wanting to know what we were doing on Sunday at 8 pm, "because the American Music Awards are coming on, and I totally want to watch those. I love the AMA's, and I never miss them."

Yeah, um, except that apparently you're not THAT big of a fan, and apparently you DO miss them, because later in the day Mom and Dad got around to watching the same three-week recorded episode of "Modern Family" and took note of the ad for the AMA's that was embedded therein. Ad established that the AMA's were to take place the Sunday immediately following the three week-old recorded show, meaning that THE AMA'S WERE ALSO THREE WEEKS AGO. Big Kid apparently forgot that he was watching something from the not-so-distant past. Spouse and I registered what had happened at the same time, I looked at Spouse and opened my mouth to speak, and Spouse cut me off: "Don't you dare tell him. Wait until tomorrow at about 7:59 pm."

Spouse was never a blonde child.  Clearly.  Spouse is also of the opinion that it's not child abuse to have a little fun at your child's expense.  As it was, being that this is my blonde child, he forgot all about the VERY EXCITING NO-LONGER-UPCOMING AMA'S, and they were never mentioned Sunday night.  But it's entirely possible that we'll be treated with a forehead slap and a "I can't believe I missed them" comment later in the week.

And then the parental units will communicate silently with their eyes and attempt to reach a consensus as to whether to tell him that he missed them by roughly a month.

Not sure if blondes really do have more fun, but others certainly have more fun when they are around them.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

11 of 25: Fifth Street Angels

[Photo of Chrismon tree at our church.  If you don't know what a Chrismon tree is, you may not be a Methodist.  Or a Lutheran.  But that's okay - to each his own.]

My mother-in-law, herself the mother of FOUR boys (and a card-carrying United Methodist Woman with mad Chrismon-making skeelz), has a phrase for the phenomenon where a (boy) child is a hellion at home but comports himself completely differently in polite company:   "House devil, street angel."

We experienced a miracle on Fifth Street last Sunday:  the Small One sat essentially perfectly still for three hours.  He participated in the 9:30 "Children First" service and enthusiastically listened to the three choirs and 40-piece orchestra that were part of the 11:00 "Music Festival" service.  HE EVEN LISTENED TO THE SERMON.

He only spent fifteen minutes out of the three hours playing on my Blackberry, and that was between services. And he played "Word Mole," which is an educational word-building game, for Pete's sake.

I checked him for fever roughly ten times over the course of three hours.

The Big Kid lucked out:  he had confirmation class first hour, so he was stuffing toiletry bags as part of a mission project until about 10:45, but he, too, was respectful and attentive during the music service.  Not one punch was thrown.  Oh, and he voluntarily wore a coat and tie.

I also checked him for fever multiple times.

If I were cynical, I would say that they knew that Santa was watching.  But, really, I think that they are just growing up.

We'll see how they do today . . . .

Saturday, December 10, 2011

10 of 25: First Annual Holiday Music Awards

(I say "First Annual" like there's an actual chance of a "Second Annual," but, really, I don't see my opinions changing on any of these.  But here goes.)

BEST TRADITIONAL CAROL - "YES, I USED TO BE CATHOLIC" DIVISION:  O Come, All Ye Faithful.  Except, when it comes out of my mouth, it's Adeste Fidelis. Even if we're standing in the middle of First United Methodist, and hundreds of people around me are singing the English version in perfect unison,  I have been known to sing it in Latin.  It just sounds better that way. 

Old habits die hard.

BEST TRADITIONAL CAROL - "YES, I AM AN AUSTRIAN-AMERICAN WITH NINE YEARS OF GERMAN INSTRUCTION UNDER HER BELT" DIVISION:  Tie between O Tannenbaum and Stille Nacht - I mean, O Christmas Tree and Silent Night.  More songs that I sing in a foreign language, to the chagrin of my older child.  "It's just weird, Mom."  You think that's weird?  In college, during midterms and finals, my sorority sisters knew that I was some combination of sleep-deprived and overcaffeinated when I started listening to show tunes while I studied.  They knew that I had reached a new level of sleep-deprivation and overcaffeination when choreography was involved - and they knew that I was AMPS ON ELEVEN WHEN I STARTED SPONTANEOUSLY TRANSLATING SHOW TUNES INTO GERMAN.  Ditto the greatest hits of the Eighties:  "Es Macht Spass UPSILON-EMM-TSEH-AH Zu Bleiben!"  Stumped?  Here's a hint:  the literal German translation of "Village People" is Dorf Volk.  True story.  More hints:  upsilon is Y in German, and emm is the phonetic pronunciation of  M.  Now you've got it, right?

One of these days, I'm taking my immediate family back to Austria at Christmastime.  We'll hit all of the Christkindlmarkts and drink wassail and eat roasted chestnuts, and then we'll attend the traditional reenactment of the first performance of "Silent Night" in the tiny church where it originated.  And then we'll go sledding.  Yes, I realize that I sound like a Teutonic Buddy the Elf.

BEST TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL - "BECAUSE IT MAKES ME THINK FONDLY OF HUGH GRANT" DIVISION:  Good King Wenceslas.  Because, good, sweet Heaven above, I loves me some "Love Actually."

BEST TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL - "BECAUSE IT TAKES ME BACK TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL" DIVISION:  The Friendly Beasts.  Because, once upon a time, I was Dove #2.  One of the many reasons why I love "Love Actually": 

"We've been given our parts in the Nativity play, and I'm the lobster."

"The lobster?"

"Yeah, first lobster."

"There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?"


My mother lived that scene, when I was roughly in third grade.  But whereas Emma Thompson got to make a papier mache lobster head (which she pronounces all Euro and cool - "pah-pee-AHR MAH-shay"), my mother got to make a dove costume with articulated wings, and a hood, and a polyester fiberfill dove badonkadonk that would make Kim Kardashian feel inadequate in the booty department.  If pressed, I could probably do my bit for you today, from pure muscle memory:

"I," said the dove from the rafters high [gesture with left wing]

"I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry" [gesture with right wing].

Et cetera.

BEST TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL - "BEST TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL, PERIOD" DIVISION: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.  "And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here. Until the Son of God appear."  Seriously, they don't write lyrics like that anymore.

MOST DEPRESSING TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL:  In the Bleak Midwinter.  It's all there in the title, isn't it? 

MOST "SILENCE OF THE LAMBS-ISH" TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL:  Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.  "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see."  It's . . . just . . . the head?  With skin sort of loosely draped over it?  I'm confused. And a bit creeped out.

MODERN CHRISTMAS SONG THAT MAKES ME WEEP LIKE A BABY:  Mary, Did You Know?   No, that's the title - I'm not asking a theoretical reader named Mary if she knew what song renders me blubbering and incapacitated.

You thought I was going to say The Christmas Shoes, didn't you?

MOST EMBARASSING SONG FROM MY TWEEN'S PERSPECTIVE - "OH, NO, MOM IS SINGING" DIVISION:  I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.  I sing it very enthusiastically.  I.  Am.  Fully.  Committed.  And the big kid.  Is.  Mortified.

MOST EMBARRASSING SONG FROM MY TWEEN'S PERSPECTIVE - "OH, NO, MOM IS CAR DANCING" DIVISION:  Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi.  You know, the "Charlie Brown Christmas Special" song.  I cannot help it:  when I hear it, I start doing the Peanuts dance.  If I'm in a car, I dance from the waist up.  Hence, the tween's mortification when we stop at stoplights.

MOST EMBARRASSING SONG FROM MY SPOUSE'S PERSPECTIVE - "OH, NO, MY WIFE THINKS THAT SHE'S KAREN CARPENTER/SERIOUSLY, SHE IS CHANNELING KAREN CARPENTER OVER THERE" DIVISION:  Merry Christmas, Darling.  Except you have to sing it like this:  "Merrrrrrry Christmas, Darrrrrrrrling."  All drawn out like you just popped a Valium.  And when you sing the line, "Holidays are joyful," it is important to eliminate any traces of joy from your inflection.

GUILTY PLEASURE - "EVEN THOUGH IT'S PRETTY DAMNED DEPRESSING" DIVISION:  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  Specifically, the Pretenders' cover version.  Nothing better captures the "is-that-all-there-is?" mood that settles over the house around noon on Christmas Day:  "Okay, so all of the gifts are open, and now I have to deal with recycling the packaging, and then I have to choose between finding places to put all of the new stuff (which basically means CLEANING MY HOUSE ON CHRISTMAS DAY) or shoving it artfully back under the tree, except it does not look at all artful, because unwrapped gifts are not NEARLY as aesthetically pleasing as wrapped ones, and I REALLY just want to take a nap because the kids got me up at oh-dark-thirty, but we have a command performance at my parents', and is it really worth going to all of this trouble for a half hour of frenzied package-opening, and yada-yada-yada?"

GUILTY PLEASURE - "YES, I AM A CHILD OF THE EIGHTIES" DIVISION:  Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses.

Hmm - never tried to translate that one into German.  Ooh, a challenge.

Friday, December 9, 2011

9 of 25: Progressive Partying

Last Saturday night was party-hopping night for the McGlincheys.  Don't know what it is about the calendar this year, but events that normally don't coincide are ending up right on top of each other.

But that's okay.  When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, and when life hands you conflicting invites, you McGyver a progressive dinner out of it.

Stop 1:  Our neighbors' open house.  Nice to actually see our neighbors.  Nice to ACTUALLY BE ON OUR STREET.  We parked in our driveway and walked over two houses.  Sad that parking in our driveway was kinda novel?

Neighbors had a jazz trio at their party, which I realize is not outside of the norm during the holiday season, but it's where the jazz trio performed that screamed, "This is an Arlington Heights party."  Like us, our neighbors have a carriage house that is entirely inaccessible by horseless carriages but is, instead, marooned at the back of the property line.  Unlike us, their carriage house is two stories.  (Once upon a time, ours had a second story, but then there was a fire, some time during the 1950's.)  Also unlike us, they don't utilize their carriage house for random junk storage but, instead, have turned the first floor into a microbrewery and the second floor into a man cave.  Except you can't call it a man cave if it's in the air, so instead everyone refers to it as "The Treehouse."  Their adult son lived in The Treehouse when he was in grad school and, as of this weekend, our Big Kid has inquired about rental rates.  "You know, not for now, but for in a couple of years - like when I'm fifteen."

Keep dreaming, kid.  (Actually, I fear that when he is fifteen the thought of foisting him off on the neighbors may be tragically appealing.)

If the Big Kid wasn't fascinated by The Treehouse before, he is really fascinated now, because that's where the jazz trio performed.  Why not?  Lots of performance space up there, it was out of the way of the traffic pattern, and they opened all of the windows, so the music wafted out and down over the rest of the party.  (It had been raining all day but stopped long enough for us all to congregate out-of-doors.)

They served pumpkin ale from the Wet Dog Brewery (AKA the microbrewery that the host and his next-door neighbor run out of the carriage house), and you had to go out to the carriage house if you wanted seafood.  I have no idea why, but that was the buffet dividing line:  meatballs and roast beef upfront, salmon and boiled shrimp in the back yard.

Works for me.

After the pseudo block party, we headed west to Friend Melissa's annual dessert open house.  We always enjoy her open houses, but this one was especially enjoyable because, over wine and desserts, Spouse and I determined that Friend Melissa's kitchen is EXACTLY AS WIDE AS OURS, and her island is placed roughly where our island will be placed.  Yup, you guessed it - the measuring tape came out, and many horrible kitchen re-enactments were staged.  It's okay - by the time we party-hopped over there, most of the other guests had gone, so we weren't in anyone's way.   They weren't in a hurry to kick us out, and the kids weren't in a hurry to leave, because they were upstairs with Friend Melissa's kids, staging an EPIC BATTLE involving, among other weapons, light sabers and a set of X-Men Wolverine claws.

Please enjoy these festive images of freestyle kid-centric holiday merriment with my compliments.

(Doesn't the above image just SCREAM "Merry Christmas"?  Okay, but you agree that it might inspire screaming of some sort, don't you?  Screams of terror, or screams of hysterical laughter - the important thing is, screaming definitely is involved.)

Thumbs up to a great night of progressive partying.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

8 of 25: Improvised Cookie Recipe

Bought cinnamon M&Ms as an impulse purchase at the Super Target checkout.  Thought I might try baking cookies with them, utilizing the Toll House recipe.  Small problem:  I was one stick of butter short to make Toll House-type dough.  So I utilized what I had on hand (namely, Duncan Hines cake mix and cooking oil) and modified a cake mix cookie recipe.  Didn't particularly love the batter when I tasted it, and didn't particularly love the cookies right after they came out of the oven, but once they cooled I became a fan.


1 box butter-recipe yellow cake mix
1 bag cinnamon M&Ms
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dried coconut
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, combine all ingredients; blend well.  Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. 

Yield:  at least 2 dozen, depending on how you define "rounded."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

7 of 25: Merry Christmas from the Family

As my early Christmas present to you . . . please enjoy these awkward family photos.

Okay, pretty clearly the Little Kid got his mom's smiley gene.  Our eyes crinkle and our cheeks dimple.  The Spouse and the Big Kid are sort-of-smilers.  (And it's getting worse now that the Big Kid is a tween.)

Again, Mom and Little Kid are cooperating, and Dad is actually cooperating.  Big Kid - not so much.

This one isn't bad of Big Kid and might have been a favorite if Little Kid wasn't so intent on standing ramrod straight.  "Look at me!  I'm on a box!  I'm almost as tall as my mother . . . WHEN SHE'S SITTING DOWN!"

This sums up the boys pretty well.  Little Kid says, "Look at me!  No, seriously - LOOK AT ME, because I'm waggling my eyebrows at you in a comically adorable way."  Big Kid says, "Please don't look at me.  And, also, can we please go home now?"

We settled on this one.  Little Kid is doing his cheesy (but sincerely cheesy) thang, and Big Kid is sporting his patented "I am twelve and therefore way too cool to be into this" look.  In other words, it's an accurate depiction of our boys at this particular stage.

I'm a big fan of realism.

The photographer also attempted (somewhat foolishly) to get a shot of just the boys.  This one would have been cute if Big Kid's big melon (made bigger by the Justin Bieber 'do) wasn't casting a shadow on the Little Kid's face:

Midway through the shoot, the Little Kid decided to adopt the Big Kid's non-grin, meaning that we got a lot of images like this:

We went with this one:

Photog even managed to get a picture of the 'rents, and it ALMOST looks like we're happy. (Believe me, we weren't - photos were taken in the middle of a particularly bad "house week," lots of added stress, and then family photos on top of all of that. What's the phrase? Fake it 'til you make it? Well, it worked, because we're in a much better mental place, collectively, and now we have this memento of a darker time that we can laugh at, EVENTUALLY. Still a little too soon.)

We're on a roll, in terms of actually getting photographed together - also had our picture taken at the "65 Roses" wine and food event benefiting Cystic Fibrosis:

Yes, it looks like I'm knocking on his chest.  I have no idea what that was about.  Hiding a sloppy manicure?  Spouse's expression clearly says, "Let's get the red carpet thing over with, so that I can start eating and drinking and bidding on silent auction items that I don't actually need."

That's two - count 'em, TWO - photos of us posing as a couple, in a span of two months. This is unprecedented.  Hoping to continue the trend.

Merry Christmas from the family.