Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Nostalgic for our chili bowl haircut days - no doubt because some chili-appropriate weather finally blew in last night?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Tech Support Story

(Subtitle:  "Why I love Spouse.  Like, really, REALLY, love Spouse.")

Direct TV receiver in our bedroom generated the equivalent of the "blue screen of death" this morning.  After the system attempted to reboot, unsuccessfully, six times, Spouse dialed Direct TV and was connected to Siri's Evil Twin.  Over my backseat-driver protests, Spouse initially chose "I can't see a picture" from the menu of prompts, at which point Siri's Evil Twin (we'll call her Eve) helpfully pointed out that oftentimes when you can't see a picture it's because of a problem with your set.  Like, it might not be turned on.

Spouse started to lose his temper.  Quite understandably.  (My "I TOLD you that was the wrong prompt to go with" probably didn't help the situation much.)

We started over.  I'll skip the stuff in the middle and get to the good part:

Eve:  Can you tell me what you would like to get out of this call?

Spouse:  Contact with a live human being would be nice.

Eve:  I'm sorry.  I didn't get that.

[Snorting from Spouse and me.]

Eve [trying again]:  Can you tell me what you would like to get out of this call?

Spouse:  A back massage and a baloney sandwich.

[More snorting from me.]

Eve:  Okay.  I got that.  You want tech support.

Me:  Is THAT what they are calling it these days?

[Sound of Spouse rolling off of his side of the bed while I bury my head under a pillow.]

Who says customer service is dead?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Playing with PicMonkey: Holiday Gift Tags

Everyone in the immediate family got a monogram, or an initial, this year:

Mustache for the Big Kid.

Uglydoll for the Little Kid.  Did you notice the addition of the little "c"?  Much as I love my "M," I love "Mc" exponentially more.

A simple K for moi, in my favorite colors.

And a P for Spouse.

Printed multiples on cardstock, cut 'em apart, glued 'em on boxes.  Happy, happy, joy, joy.

I Elfed The House

I needed something teal and red and chevron for a corner of our living room (to tie existing art and accessories in with Christmas decor). Decided to do something subway art-ish, but instead of Christmas words, Elf quotes immediately came to mind. The challenge was limiting myself to just a few.

Image below should suffice for reprinting in high-res, should you wish to steal.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Eat This: Monster Cookie Dough Dip

Made this for a cookie exchange the other day. Credit for the original recipe goes to Something Swanky, but the cute recipe card is all mine.  Well, mine and PicMonkey's.  How do I love PicMonkey?  Let me count the ways.  It's a mash-up of Illustrator and PhotoShop for lazy people who don't want to bother with tutorials.  And, right now, it's free.  Apparently, it won't be free for long - but I'm okay with paying a reasonable monthly subscription, because it allows me to create things like this on my lunch break:

I bought a bunch of Rubbermaid containers with red lids at Dollar Tree and glued green tinsel around the tops, filled festive bags with mini pretzels for dipping, and clipped the recipe card to the pretzel bags.  Came in second place (failed to mention that it was a competitive-but-also-philanthropic cookie exchange, wherein people voted for their favorites with dollar bills, and the winner got all of the money to donate to a charity of her choice).  I was beaten out by a coffee shop owner, who basically bakes stuff for a living, so I felt good about my second-place finish - and, also, her cinnamon rugelach was totes amaze-balls.

If you have a family member who doesn't see the "point" in "baking perfectly good raw cookie dough" (I call him "Spouse"), whip up some of this dip, and give the gift of "no salmonella" this holiday season.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

THAT House

So I have decided that I want to be THAT house.  The one where the teenagers hang out, because if the other teenagers are here, then my own teenager is likely to be on-premises as well.  Oh, by the by, I have a teenager now.  Still coming to terms with that - and, also, actively seeking out opportunities to be THAT house.

Hence, the Xbox party that we threw for the Big Kid last Saturday, as a belated birthday celebration, which was immediately followed by our hosting of the appetizer portion of the church youth group's progressive Christmas dinner.  (Added bonus:  after the function on Sunday, the house was still reasonably clean and neat, and we had food left over, so we invited my family over for a midweek dinner to take advantage of said cleanliness and surplusage.  Am now contemplating hosting some sort of event every third day, indefinitely, to ensure that the house stays neat and the fridge gets cleaned out on a regular basis.  Which plan, actually, fits neatly into my larger plans to be THAT house.)


The Xbox party was a source of more stress than it should have been, given that it consisted of: picking up a cookie cake and some soft drinks; locating teenager-acceptable plates, napkins and cups in the cupboard; opening the door for the Xbox Man, who in ten minutes' time set up three utility tables, six monitors, six gaming systems and twelve controllers; and reminding Spouse (who kinda got caught up in the Halo-ing) that he needed to order pizza.  Said stress stemmed from Big Kid's insistence to handle his own invites, which resulted in half of the guest list never being invited at all, and a quarter of the guest list being invited in the sketchiest manner imaginable ("Oh, by the way, I'm having a party on Saturday, and you should come" - I have to say that I was pleased that none of the kids in that column of the guest list showed up, because I would have had to take their parents to task).  My angst proved to be for naught, because the number of kids that did show up was exactly right, and the party basically went off without a hitch.  (Glossing over that moment towards the end when A's younger brother, who came as Little Kid's guest, slammed into a shadow box of the Big Kid's childhood art that hangs - apparently too low - in the hallway, knocking it off of the wall and shattering the glass.  Laser tag weapons were involved.  We had the glass vacuumed up in a nanosecond, and I hung the shadow box back up without the glass, and life went on.  And, also, I got to chuckle at a nine year-old's version of a party-foul apology:  "I did NOT mean to do that.")

By the way, if you have boys, and you are looking for a party concept that ensures almost total silence, I highly recommend an Xbox party.  Until the Xbox Man called time and started packing up his equipment, I don't think that any of them spoke directly to each other.  Each one walked in, immediately grabbed a controller and selected a character, and MAYBE every five minutes, someone would say something like "P, is that you?"  "No, I'm on your right."  And then more silence would ensue.

It was eighteen different kinds of awesome, and more than made up for a little broken glass in the hallway.  To sum up, little kid birthdays:  hostess-as-Julie-the-cruise-director.  Bigger kid birthdays:  hostess-as-referee.  Big kid birthdays:  hostess gets to sit in a comfy chair in front of her Christmas tree and drink wine with her neighbor while looking over photos of past child-centric events and reminiscing about how horrific they were.

I did suffer two distinct moments of existential distress at the end:  moment one, when I realized that I didn't get any pictures of the festivities other than this Instagram shot:

and  moment two, when Big Kid informed me that I am off of the birthday party photography clock, and if he wants photos (which he did) he will take them himself (which he also did).

Wow.  I have a kid who takes his own photos now.  That's okay, because not only did he allow me to put "Not a Turkey" on his cookie cake  (an allusion to the fact that I am under strict orders not to put the image of a turkey on a cake for my Thanksgiving-born baby EVER AGAIN), but he actually chuckled and said, "YES.  THAT IS PERFECT.  MAKE SURE THAT IT SAYS THAT."

The next day, seventeen 13 and 14 year-olds in tacky sweaters and Santa hats invaded Casa McG and inhaled a bazillion macaroni and cheese shooters in two minutes flat.  See?  I HAVE TEENAGERS.  We were expecting eleven of them, but apparently kids showed up without RSVPing, and the youth director brought them our way, with a heartfelt apology, a lovely hostess  poinsettia, and the explanation that Big Kid had assured her that, "My mom's cool when extra people show up, and she always makes more than enough food to go around."  This last part made me happy - as happy as the fact that Big Kid asked to go to his house for appetizers instead of one of the other four "appetizer houses."  Apparently, he is okay with the plan to be THAT house.  Even though it meant listening to his squealing female friends gush over:  (1) his dog; (2) his baby pictures; and (3) his little brother.  Hopefully, he is developing enough game to realize that cute dogs, baby pictures and brothers are assets - as are moms who cook too much.   

Friday, December 14, 2012


Know what's fun?  When your eight year-old announces that he is completely overhauling his Santa list, "and all of it's custom stuff, Mom."

Greatness.  It was hard enough dragging a "list" out of him the first time.  I use "list" loosely:  we were at our church's Advent kickoff, he abruptly announced that he wanted to sit on Santa's lap after all, and Mom and Dad used the pretense of taking Santa pics to eavesdrop.  The sum total of his requests:  "a live shark and other shark stuff."

More greatness.

And then, apparently, he had a change of heart - the result being eight pages of names of Clone Troopers:

CW Arc Trooper Havoc
CW Arc Trooper Echo
7th Airborne Trooper
Flame Commander
Flame Trooper
Blue Flame Trooper
CW 141st Sniper
CW Lieutenant Dan

. . . and on and on.

Me:  "Um, what are these, exactly?"

Little Kid:  "Custom LEGO minifigures."

Me"  "So, you're asking Santa's elves to just CREATE these for you?"

Little Kid:  "NO.  You - I mean, Santa - can ORDER them.  From"

(Big Kid swears that he did not turn Little Kid on to Clone Army Customs.  And I believe him.  Little Kid has his ways.  Let's just leave it at that.)

For the record, the proprietor of Clone Army Customs is a true artist.  His work is amazing - and pricey.  As in minimum-twenty-bucks-an-inch pricey.  Imperial Commando Rawlins is a bargain at $26, but some of his buddies retail for $65.  For $65, Santa could provide a sack full of regular Clone Troopers, and some Sharpies!  Customize your own, kid. 

I am somewhat tempted to recommend that Santa spring for Lieutenant Dan - just because I appreciate the Gary Sinise reference.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Procrastination-Fueled Philanthropy

I have always wondered about THOSE women - the ones who casually toss the ginormous, sorta pricey toy under the tree at Junior League, or Woman's Club, or similar.  Did they benefit from a toy donation drive as a child and are now eager to pay it forward?  Are they childless and looking for opportunities to toy-shop?  Or childless and clueless to the fact that a considerable number of perfectly good toys are sold at a ten-dollar price point?  Are they actively trying to show up persons such as myself, who tend to gravitate toward the ten-dollar price point items?  Are they, perhaps, the heir to the Hasbro fortune?  Was their maiden name Mattel?

I can now add another possible scenario to the list.  Perhaps - and I'm just spit-balling here - Ms. Philanthropy procured a toy for her child at Toys R Us last Christmas, in her capacity as Santa's Official Helper, only to find it on sale at Target a few days later.  So she bought the item a second time, intending to return her first purchase - except that a return trip to Toys R Us proved more inconvenient than usual, in large part because Ms. Philanthropy found herself residing in a temporary apartment in the OPPOSITE direction from the Toys R Us.  So Purchase #1 hung around in her car trunk for awhile, until Mr. Philanthropy got tired of seeing it in there and threw it into a box in the garage of the temporary apartment.  Said box faded into the background with all of the other moving boxes, and - five months after Christmas - made the move back home.  Some time in Month 7, Purchase #1 resurfaced, sans receipt, and got thrown back into Ms. Philanthropy's trunk.  In Month 9,  it was discovered by Ms. Philanthropy's then-seven year-old son, who wanted to know why a duplicate of a 2011-era Santa item was in Ms. Philanthropy's trunk in the third quarter of 2012.  Ms. Philanthropy's on-the-fly answer:  "Well, I bought it for you, but then Santa brought you one, so I put mine up to give to charity.  And I am storing it in my trunk so I will be sure to have it on hand when I go to the Junior  League general membership meeting in December."

And that is how I happened to make a very generous donation of a Fisher-Price Imaginext Joker's Funhouse to the Junior League of Fort Worth today.  Ladies of JLFW, please do not mistake my incompetence as anything other than what it is.  I was not trying to one-up anyone -  I JUST WANTED THE DAMNED THING OUT OF MY TRUNK.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Adventures in Party Planning: Fun With Graphic Design

Once upon a time, Santa surprised the McGlinchey children with an Alienware laptop (slightly used - those suckers are expensive), just like they use on The Big Bang Theory. Santa also surprised their mother with the gift of a second Alienware laptop, also slightly used, which came fully loaded with Photoshop, Lightroom and other cool editing software. Said laptop was purchased for a song - less than the software would have cost off of the shelf - and the idea was that Mom and Little Kid would share the tricked-out computer, with Little Kid to use it for little kid stuff and Mom to use it for design. However - more often than not - Mom (AKA "the creature of habit") would default back to her trusty Dell, leaving the Little Kid with full rein of the Alienware. Stupid, stupid, STUPID mom. Needless to say, the Little Kid (AKA "Godzilla") worked his special magic on "his" computer, which is no longer "operational." (It didn't take long for Big Kid to trash his, either.) All of that lovely, bleepin' expensive software - trapped, for all eternity. So Mom makes do with what she's got these days. Created and "sent" (electronically) the invitation for our Halloween party, above, via Paperless Post.  The Shining theme seemed like a natural fit:  "Redrum" became "Redtag" (a reference to the stupid City inspection tag that decorated our front window for most of the duration of construction - by the end, after months of sun-bleaching, it wasn't a red tag so much as a soft coral).

And we do intend to live in our new old house "forever, and ever, and ever."

While I was in a crafty mood, I made new Halloween totes for the boys, via Zazzle.  The Big Kid wanted to trick-or-treat "one last time" (yeah, right), but he made it clear that he was too mature for his old candy bucket.  For the record, it's not like I had saddled him with something cute and kidlike; his old bucket was a soft-sculpture zombie head, with glowing eyes.  Pretty timeless, if you ask me.  But he didn't ask me.  So - I opted for a canvas tote bag (the gusseted kind - like an LL Bean tote, with LOTS of candy-carrying capacity).  And, on that tote, I added:


Like a lot of boys his age, he's fascinated with mustaches.  So this was a hit.

I also took the liberty of starting a Paperless Post invitation for his thirteenth birthday party - but then waffled over whose phone number to fill in for the RSVP.  He was T-minus-two-days to smart phone liftoff at the time, so I just left a blank, and I guess we'll fill in his number.  IF he even e-mails the thing out to anyone.  He's on the fence:  "Mom, I could just call people - or tell them in person."  Yes, yes, you could - but that would involve Mom going cold turkey on the birthday invite thing.  The same mom who agonized for hours over handmade construction- and Thomas-themed cards (multi-layered!  tied with coordinating ribbon!) for you, and who killed a bazillion brain cells trying to think of text for the invitation to your "Aloha Scooby Doo" party. (Seriously?  Aloha Scooby Doo?  Out of all of the themes that you could have come up with?  Because there's nothing more "fun" than throwing a luau in November - at a bouncy-house place.  Trust me on this.  Yes, "fun" is in quotes for a reason.)

So, believe me when I tell you that the attempt below represents a tremendous amount of restraint on the part of your mother, and sensitivity to the fact that you are turning thirteen and are, therefore, all kinds of classy and mature.

Keep pushing me, kid, and I may ask you to reimburse me for that first Alienware laptop - and spot your brother the money for the second.

Kid Stuff: Turkey Soldier

From the first-grade archives:


Once upon a time Mr. Turkey was at army bace [base] win all the suden a hunter came for a turkey.  He walked over to Mr. Turkey!  And said your coming with me.  Mr. Turkey tried to get away but the hunter finealey catcht Mr. Turkey.  All of the solegers ran after the hunter.  He took him to his house.  He opened the door.  When they got in the hunter pulled up a chair and he told him come sit next to me.  So you arn't going to eat me?  Oh no I just wanted some one to eat with me.  The End.

You know, it's not too late to invite an anthromorphic turkey to your holiday gathering.  You know, just so he can eat with you.  It's really not necessary to find one with a military background - although Thanksgiving would be a great time to thank a turkey veteran for serving his country.

I'm just saying.

Monday, November 19, 2012

This New Old House: Baking Sunday

So the verdict's in on the new old kitchen:  it rocks.  I have now entertained three times for groups of twenty or more, and I give the kitchen five stars in all categories:

Work space for food prep;
Storage space for ingredients bought in bulk;
Staging space (bar area, appetizer layouts, etc.); and
Traffic flow.

On Sunday, I decided to do some further testing and bake cookies and pumpkin bread for the neighborhood.  Nine dozen cookies and seven loaves of bread was the plan.  Seven loaves of bread was achieved:  all baked at once, on multiple racks, with good results across the board (although the ones on the top rack came out slightly puffier, with a prettier crack across the crown, so the next time that I am only baking a couple of loaves that's gonna be my go-to).

Nine dozen butter brickle and pecan cookies ended up being six dozen butter brickle and pecan cookies, because I like to make 'em big, and they didn't end up going to the neighbors, because the kids appropriated them.  If my kids ask, they were JUST BUTTER BRICKLE COOKIES.  If told that they have pecans in them, Little Kid is likely to respond, "Cool - I like pecans," but Big Kid (having just inhaled several of them, without complaint) will say something like, "Okay, I knew that I tasted pecans.  I don't want to have any more."  Because, evidently, Big Kid has an intolerance for protein-rich foods.  Except for cheese - cheese, he loves.  Carbs?  Lives for them.  Vegetables?  No problem.  Protein?  Not if it comes in the form of meat, beans or nuts. 

Somehow, he's still growing.  It's rather inexplicable.

I am delighted to report that I had six large cookie sheets in rotation, and there was place for all of them on the counters while still leaving room for other food prep.  This is a novelty.  The old kitchen was definitely a two-cookie sheet joint.

Photo 1:  Pumpkin bread ready to go in the oven. 

Photo 2:  Cooling cookies, and pumpkin bread packaged with simmering spice mix and oranges.  (Big loaf in the front was for our brand new neighbor, Med Student Morgan, who was in the process of moving in on Sunday - thought she could use a little extra sustenance.)

I forgot to take an "after" photo of the bread, pre-packaging. The spice mix-and-orange idea came from:  (1) my rediscovery of a container of mulling spices in the pantry; (2) my rediscovery of the "Keep Warm" burner on my cooktop (the PERFECT place to keep mulling spices mulling all season long); (3) a surplus of mulling spice additions that revealed themselves when I got out the cream of tartar for the cookies; and (4) a similar surplus of tiny oranges.  Little Kid would eat them until he gives himself the runs (no danger of scurvy with that one), so I have to ration them out, but if I do that and Spouse happened to buy the big bag, then some of the oranges go bad before we get around to eating them.  So neighbors got bread, mulling spices and oranges, with a note:  "We are thankful for having you as neighbors.  Have some pumpkin bread on the McGlincheys (because you can never have too much pumpkin-based food this time of year), and - when the turkey and pie are a distant memory - add these spices and a few slices of orange to water or apple cider on the stove, simmer and continue to enjoy the scents of the holiday.  May your bird be moist and your leftovers plentiful!"

I had to modify the note a little bit for our vegetarian neighbors, for whom poultry humidity levels are a non-issue.

If you want to trick out mulling spices for your own use this November, take the usual stuff (which is heavy on the more Christmas-y smells) and throw in a little ground nutmeg and allspice, a handful of bay leaves, and perhaps some sage for full turkey effect.  I was pleased with the results.

Almost as pleased as I am with the new old kitchen.

I promise more photos of the kitchen will follow . . . now that I have a better cell phone camera.  And Instagram.

Bye, Bye, Black(berry)bird

Haven't been posting much lately.  Still having hand problems.  Suspecting the beginnings of arthritis.  Scary stuff for someone who spends 99% of her waking hours drafting legal documents/blogging/painting/drawing/creating stuff with her hands.

Sort of in denial about the whole thing, and waiting for a consult with a specialist, which is going to have to wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Also on my denial radar:  the predicted demise of Research in Motion, makers of my beloved BlackBerry.  One minute, RIM's already dead; the next minute, they are on life support.  The federal government has made the switch, and service providers are pushing every product but BB in stores, so the handwriting is definitely on the wall.  Still, I could not help but feel like I was personally driving the last nail in RIM's coffin this weekend when I accepted my sleek new Samsung Galaxy S3.  See, Friday was "Magenta Friday" at T-Mobile:  S3's were free on Magenta Friday (and Magenta Saturday), except that they weren't really free:  you had to pay $200 upfront, you get a $200 rebate in four to six weeks, and then they charge you 20 $20 installment payments after that.  Translation:  S3's were $400 on Magenta Friday and Magenta Saturday - although I could never get Cheerful T-Mobile Girl to acknowledge this fact:

"You pay a $200 deposit, but then you get your $200 deposit BACK.  Since you're buying three phones, you will actually be getting THREE deposits back.  That's $600.  You could apply $400 of that to your account, and you wouldn't have to make the 20 $20 payments on one of the phones, so that phone would be free - AND you have an additional $200 to spend on whatever you want."

Um, no.  I have my $200 back.  Because I PAID $600.  And I'm getting back that $600, but then I'm paying $1,200.   You aren't "giving" me a phone, and you aren't "giving" me spending money.  I'M "BUYING" THREE PHONES FOR $1,200.  But that's alright, because re-working our plan this weekend still made fiscal sense:  even with the installment payments on the hardware figured in, we will be getting three phones (with unlimited data and more-than-adequate minutes) for less than what we have been paying for two phones under the "classic" T-Mobile plan.  Adding that third phone was a necessity, because Big Kid is turning thirteen on Sunday, and we had put off his "requests" (by "requests," I mean "begging") for a phone long enough.  Also, now that he is (1) attending school across town (versus around the corner), (2) frequently having to stay after school for extracurriculars and (3) allowed to have a little more freedom to roam, and the ability to stay at home by himself for short spurts, it will be RIDICULOUSLY convenient to have him attached to the other end of a phone line.

So a phone for Big Kid was a definite must, and Spouse also wanted new hardware, but it was a game-day decision as to whether Yours Truly would part with her BBB (beloved BlackBerry).  In the end, I pulled the trigger out of fear:  fear that the BB 10 phone would be a bust, RIM would go belly-up, and I would find myself abruptly without phone support, having not taken advantage of the great giveaway not-so-great non-giveaway on S3's.  With the benefit of hindsight, I recognize that this was a totally emotional reaction. If/when RIM does go belly up, no doubt all of the other phone manufacturers, in tandem with their cell carrier partners, will offer scandalous deals in an attempt to capture the BB market wholesale.  Oh, well - a little fear is a good thing, because it pushed me into the 21st century, and my last (last?  yeah, probably last) BB had joined my other BB's in the BB graveyard.  Although I reserve the right to keep it charged, and play Sudoku on it occasionally - just for old time's sake.

As I predicted, the first 24 hours with a touch screen were rough, rough, ROUGH.  I could type 80 wpm on my BB.  After 48 hours of practice, I'm now up to around 60 on the S3, and it's getting easier.  Also easing the sting of the transition:

1) A fully functioning Pinterest app.  Sorry, RIM, but your version kind of sucked.

2) Ditto Facebook.

3) Instagram.  Instagram?  INSTAGRAM.  I thought it was just one of those iPhone things, but NO - I can haz Instagram.  And I DO haz Instagram.  And I love it.

I also had very little trouble setting up my work e-mail account via Microsoft ActiveSync.  Honestly, that was what kept me tethered to my BB (well, other than the amaze-balls keyboard):  the Enterprise Server.  I would not take Spouse's word that the S3 was the first Enterprise-enabled Android phone; I had to research it for myself.  But he was right, and after a couple of minutes typing in domain names and protocols, that bad boy started pushing work e-mails like a mad fool.

I was a little irked that my ringtones and other downloads didn't transfer, but it didn't take long for me to get those set up.  Spouse's incoming calls have always been accompanied by the dulcet tones of Mark Morrison singing "Return of the Mack."  Private joke:  my husband, rather inexplicably, mispronounces our last name "MACK-LINCHey" instead of "Mc-GLINCHey."  Begging the question of whether it's ever a mispronunciation how HE says it, given that it was his name FIRST.  But, any-who, "Mack" came from that.  When I was setting up this phone, though, I decided that "Return of the Mack" ought to get handed down to his progeny (get it?  The "Return" of "The Mack"?), so now Big Kid gets that song, and Spouse is Gnarls Barkley's cover of "Gone Daddy Gone."  Because Spouse and I agree on all things Violent Femmes, and also because he is our daddy, and when he is calling me, pretty much by definition, he is "gone."  Or I'm "gone."  Whichever.

Yeah, I put WAY too much thought into ringtones.  Sometimes I don't put ENOUGH thought into a ringtone, and I still fall bass-ackwards into a good one.  Example:  Friend Robyn is "Shake Your Tailfeather," a song that I selected for her because (1) she likes to dance and (2) I really like that song.  Then Big Kid pointed out that [Robyn] equals [robin] equals [something that, actually, factually, shakes a tailfeather].  At which juncture I responded, "Yeah, I totally was thinking of that when I picked out her ringtone," while mentally kicking myself for not being as clever or perceptive as my tween son.

This go-round, my parents are Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair" (because I got tired of searching for their old ringtone - the theme from "The Odd Couple"), and my mother-in-law is Carl Carlton's "She's a Bad Mama Jama."  Yes, my taste in ringtones is straight out of a Solid Gold retrospective; thanks for asking.

Wallpaper was easy:  I remarked that I needed something Batman-themed, Big Kid seized the phone out of my hands, and five seconds later I was looking at a moving wallpaper of Batdroid (pictured above) standing on a cliff, staring at a Batrdroid-shaped signal in the distance, while a bunch of tiny Batdroids and bats with "Batdroid" logos tumble off of said cliff.  Cute.  And, also, done - and done for me.

We actually ended up with four phone lines, because Cheerful T-Mobile Girl assigned me a new phone number before I could tell her that, like Spouse, I was an existing T-Mobile account holder.  Long story short, for one of those reasons that regular people can't understand and that only make sense to phone carrier employees, the new number, once assigned, could not be unassigned, so Little Kid is now on my account, and for zero dollars and zero cents per month, he has a phone number that cannot be called, because his "new" phone (Dad's old Android) has been stripped of all semblance of phone service.  What he can do is access WiFi, so when he's at home or we're at a restaurant with a hotspot, he can get on the Internet, and he can play games.  This is enough for him, sort of.  Last night, he demanded to check out my new plaything.  I was in the kitchen, he was a room away, and I hear him ask, "Mom, where's the game hub on your phone?"  I tell him I have no idea, because, as a BB person, I'm not up on phone-based games (see "Sudoku," above).

A few seconds later, Spouse (who is one room removed from me, and two removed from the Little Kid) asks, "Why are you calling me?"

"I'm not.  Your son must have dialed you by mistake."

Nope; not a mistake.


"Dad, where's the game hub on Mom's phone?  MOM DOESN'T KNOW.  Call me back.  Thanks."

Oy, veh, Maria.  Welcome to the technology age.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Kid Stuff: Scenes from a Day Off With Well-Child Exam

No school today, so Mom and Dad took the day off.   Well, sort of - telecommuting is our shared middle name, so neither of us were completely unproductive.  While Spouse got some documents out for a client, I took the kids to the Museum of Science and History, where we looked at exactly zero exhibits.  See, Mom was on a mission - Groupon for Christmas cards was set to expire, necessitating a quick photography shoot.   The wardrobe:  the boys' backstroke and butterfly hoodie sweatshirts, which happen to be red and green, respectively.  I decided that we needed a bright blue backdrop, to simulate water.  The Museum happens to have a very striking cobalt blue wall - it even has a water feature.  Of course, I ended up selecting the photo that Big Kid insisted I take against a vine-covered wall around the corner from the Big Blue Wall as the main image, defeating the whole "water wall" concept - but one of the Big Blue Wall photos is going to be on the back of the card:

It's kind of become a thing:  if we are lucky enough to snap a posed pic, one of the outtakes ends up on the back.  Or, some years, all we get is outtakes, in which event I collage 'em and call 'em like I see 'em:  hence, one of my favorite holiday cards (I believe Big Kid was seven and Little Kid was two), which bore the message, "Our attempt at a holiday card.  Next on the agenda:  herding cats and nailing Jello to a tree.  Merry Christmas."

Anyway, total elapsed time at the Museum:  twenty two minutes.  We had planned on eating in the Museum cafe, but for some reason, hot food service was closed, and the kids weren't feeling takeout cold sandwiches.  So Mom allowed herself to be talked into separate trips to Sonic and McDonald's before cruising by the casa to pick up Dad.  Destination:  Doctor Young's office.  The newly minted eight year-old was due for a well-child exam, and the Big Kid needed his second HPV vaccination.  (Yes, we have explained to him - in round terms - what the HPV vaccine is for.  Can I tell you how much easier life is after you have had "The Talk"?  Now, when the occasion arises where we need to veto an excursion to a sketchy locale, or deny participation in an online chat-type environment, we can explain ourselves with one word - "PEDOPHILES" - instead of mumbling vague stuff about strangers who like to kidnap kids because - um - they don't have kids of their own, and really don't want to bother with the adoption process?  Yeah, that's it.)

Sonic and McDonald's constituted the pre-needle-stick parental bribery phase.  (What the heck?  It wasn't like he was going to test them for cholesterol or anything.)  The post-needle-stick parental bribery phase consisted of a trip to the mall, where Vans footwear was procured:  black denim lace-ups for Big Kid, slip-ons that looked like sharks for Little Kid.  They were only mildly scandalized (more perplexed) to learn that Mom and Dad used to wear Vans (the checkered kind) back when Vans were new.  Little Kid also acquired a wristwatch from Gap Kids - and is now annoying everyone by providing them with unwanted time checks.  ("Okay, you got in line at 5:50, and we finished checking out at 5:54.  That's four minutes, Mom.  And now it's 5:55 - wait, no, 5:56.")

But I'm skipping over the best part:  the doctor visit.

I have to give a shout-out to Dr. Young's nurses, who have been looking over my guys since birth, and who are endlessly patient and indulge the variety show that is C and P at the doctor's office.

C:  When you are finished measuring my brother, can you measure me and then measure my mom?  Because I think I have grown an inch since I was in here for my well child exam in August.  And I want to establish once and for all exactly how tall Mom is, because I really do think we're the same height.  [The verdict:  Mom's 5' 2 3/4" he's 5' 1 1/4".  An inch and a half to go.]

P:  I want to know how much I weigh.  Because I'm thinking 58, maybe 59 pounds.

Nurse:  Well, let's see - yup, you're 58 pounds.


Then we proceeded to the questionnaire.

Nurse:  Is P active?  Does he play sports?

P [interrupting his mother]:  I play soccer, and I'm on swim team.  I'm planning on diving next year.  I'm pretty darn good in basketball.  I am GREAT at art.  Seriously.  And I'm on Stu Co.  You know, like Student Council?  And I can do THIS.  [Assumes the fifth ballet position.  Kid's got sick turnout.  Kinda wish he'd let me enroll him in a ballet class, just for grins and giggles.]  I can actually turn this foot ALL OF THE WAY AROUND so that it points backwards.  [True story.]  And look at what I can do with my elbows  [Hyper-extends those suckers.]

I finally managed to get a word in edgewise, as did the nurse.  We progressed to the stuff about drug interactions.

Nurse:  No known allergies to medicine for either of them?

C [without looking up from my Blackberry, which he was using to play 'Brick Breaker']:  Gardisil vaccine.  I'm HORRIBLY allergic.  Particularly to the second vaccine in the series.  I might stop breathing.

Nurse:  Nice try.

Then she lowered the boom:  C was getting injected, but P was not.  This devastated the Big Kid, who had endured his brother's taunts en route of "Ha, ha, you have to get a shot" secure in the knowledge that the Little Kid would be getting a flu shot, just as C had gotten one during his well child exam.  The phrase, "I KNOW SOMETHING YOU DON'T KNOW" was thrown at Little Kid's head more than once on the car ride over.  Except - Dr. Young's nurse was offering the Little Kid FluMist instead of a shot.

C:  NUH-UH.  NOT FAIR.  I got a shot, HE gets a shot.  Mom, lifetime, how many times have I gotten a shot, compared to him?

Me:  Apples and oranges.  You're older, and you have had more boosters.

C:  Okay, but I'm SURE that by the time I was eight I had been stuck with more needles than he has.

Me:  Wrong.  He got allergy tested, you didn't.

P:  Yup, I'M WINNING.  Take your shot, C.  TAKE IT LIKE A MAN.

Dad took Big Kid out of the room while Dr. Young conducted his exam.  Dr. Young also got to see fifth position, and the twisted foot thing, and the hyperextended elbows.  And then he got schooled when he asked P to "breathe in and out."

P:  Um, shouldn't you be telling me to inhale and exhale?  Because those are the technical terms.

In the end, Little Kid did get stuck with a needle - finger prick to check his iron levels.  His reaction was, based on the nurse's answering reaction, somewhat unique:

P:  Hey!  Why did you do that?  Look!  I'm bleeding - a lot.  See, if I squeeze my finger - blood.  Lots of blood.  Look, if I squeeze it REALLY hard, it REALLY bleeds.  See?  Now it's gushing.  What are you going to do about THAT?

Nurse:  Um, ask you to stop squeezing your finger?  SERIOUSLY - STOP THAT!

[I had to explain to him that it wasn't a matter of squeezing until the blood stopped coming out, because he had a pretty limitless supply.  He finally quit touchingit, and allowed it to start scabbing over, but the nurse looked pretty wiped - as she discarded multiple blood-soaked paper towels in the biohazard bin.]

At some point during our mall excursion, the Big Kid asked what his iron levels were at his well child exam, and for the next five minutes I listened to my children argue over who had the better quality blood.  Proving that brothers literally will try to one-up each other over ANYTHING.

I love being a Boy Mom . . . .

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Adventures in Party Planning: pARTy Visuals


Details to come later, but here are the visuals from the Little Kid's art-themed eighth birthday party:

Adventures in Party Planning: Back from Hiatus

Somehow, while preparing food for this tailgate, I did . . . something . . . to my hand. 

I blame the two bags of apples that I chopped for the caramel apple bar.

Anywho . . . an MRI and almost a month with a half cast on my left (writing) hand later, I am most of the way over what appears to have been a bad tendon strain, and am getting back into the swing of things.  "Swing of things" including, among other activities, blogging.

It's been an interesting - and challenging - few weeks.  I learned about this new thing called "patience."  Still not sure that I'm a fan.  Also experimented with this other new thing called "sitting still and not doing anything with your hands."  DEFINITELY not a fan of that one - although I am pleased to report that I have now watched EVERYTHING on our DVR - including "Game of Thrones," in its entirety.  Good show.   Big fan of the Khaleesi, and the Imp.  Not a fan of the rest of the Lannisters.

Anywho again.

I also have this great MRI report to show for my troubles.  It says, among other things, that the radiologist found "no evidence of internal derangement."  Fairly sure that this refers to the fact that all of my flexor tendons were still fully attached to the bones in my hand  - but I like the way it sounds.  "No internal derangement."  Thinking of framing it and hanging it somewhere in the house, so when my spouse says, "Are you crazy?" I can say, "NO, I am not - see?  NO INTERNAL DERANGEMENT."

We now return to this blog already in progress.

Adventures in Party Planning: Halloween Returns to Thomas Place

I didn't realize how much I missed our house last year until we started decorating for Halloween.

(Pictured above:  the twelve year-old's alter ego, "Pimp Ghost," helping me decorate the front yard.  I added some friends to the image.   Gotta love Picmonkey's Halloween tool kit.)

I missed seeing my owls in the living room.

Whoo.  And woo hoo.

And my cats in the dining room.

Thanks to our forced remodel, I found new nooks and crannies for stuff this year - like this shelf in our bedroom, which acquired a spooky sock monkey friend.

The hallway is now Grand Skull Central Station.

And the new kitchen provided some excellent decorating opportunities:

Kitchen 2.0 got its first test drive when we had some folks over the weekend before Halloween - and passed with flying colors.  Plenty of room for storage, great layout for staging.

And lordy, lordy, did it feel great to get back in the entertaining saddle.  Even with one hand in a half cast or, as I chose to look at it, my "partial mummy costume").  

For the record:  Friend Robyn assembled the sausage eyeballs for me, I bought pre-sliced apples this time for the caramel apple bar (since it was the apples that probably did in my hand in the first place), and the cupcakes were store-bought, although the toppers were homemade.  See?  I really did learn a lesson about patience and discretion. 

I missed seeing my kids running through the house with their friends, like competing packs of wild dogs, eating all of the party food and clowning around with prop vampire teeth. 

I missed setting a table for Frimily Halloween Dinner (well, in my actual dining room - we still had Frimily Halloween Dinner last year in the apartment, but it wasn't the same).

I missed trick-or-treating in my own neighborhood with these ladies and their families.

I was so happy to be back in our house, and our 'hood, that I didn't pay - much - attention to the somewhat alarming fact that I no longer have cute Halloween children.  Our days of tiny pirate and brave knight costumes are long behind us.  Instead, I have these dudes:  a werewolf and "young, thin King Kong."  (Better than the red morph suit that he wore to a church youth group party the week before, and far more appropriate than Pimp Ghost.)

Luckily, Friend Robyn was gracious enough to birth this cutie, so I will still have someone to photograph in a pumpkin patch in the coming years:

See?  Some change is good.  Really, most change is good.  And, while the last year was a royal pain in my tuckus, the payoff is we got our house back, and in a lot of ways it's better than it was.

Looking forward to many more Halloweens - and Halloween parties - to come.