Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Adventures in Party Planning: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Loved having the opportunity to decorate for the ADPi Founders' Day breakfast this morning, because I have wanted to play with a "Breakfast at Tiffany's" theme for awhile, and what better tie-in for a sorority whose colors are blue and white and whose symbol is a diamond? I will admit to getting a bit of a kick out of watching the TCU ADPi's photographing the tables: "I HAVE to pin this to my Pinterest board." Guess that's a thumbs up. Maybe we will make "Tiffany's" an annual thing? Diamonds are forever, after all.

(Alphie is the name of our lion mascot.  I couldn't resist.)

The "diamonds" in the vases are glass chips.  Credit Friend Cynthia - fellow UT ADPi (and this year's Founders' Day chair), my executive advisor when I was Junior Woman's Club president, and one of my regular partners-in-crime - for coming up with that idea.  Helps that her family is in the glass and mirror business.  [Insert plug for AAA Glass & Mirror here - oh, wait, I just did.]

I couldn't resist setting up a props table.  And I have to say that, after posing for a few photos myself and then leaving on my tiara and cat-eye sunglasses while taking down the decorations, I totally get it now:  tiara plus dark shades equals instant mood brightener and look picker-upper.  Making note of that for my next bad-hair and/or bags-under-eyes day . . . .

Next up:  C's post-Confirmation lunch tomorrow AM.  Then the Junior Woman's Club Past Presidents' Luncheon, Friend Robyn's baby shower and Woman's Club Magnolia Luncheon . . . .  And then the NEXT party I hope to host after that is an open house IN OUR ACTUAL HOME!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kid Stuff: The Guyble

[Scene:  The backseat of Mom's car.]

Little Kid, apropos of nothing:  You know, getting into a fight with a girl is a lose-lose.  If you lose, you're a wimp, and if you win -

Little Kid and Big Kid in chorus:  You're a jerk.

Little Kid:  JINX!  You owe me a soda.

[Editor's note:  I have told him a thousand times that the correct phrase is "buy me a Coke."  He insists on paraphrasing.  On account of how he is not a big fan of Coke, and, also, on account of how his brother is unemployed and possessing of limited funds, so realistically his brother won't buy him a soda so much as hand over one that he has appropriated from us.]

Mom from the front seat:  Okay, you both said that like you'd heard it somewhere.  Was it on a TV show?

Big Kid:  Nope, it's from the Guyble.

Mom:  The . . . Guyble?

Big Kid:  Yup.

Mom:  As in, "guy Bible"?

Little Kid:  Yes.  It's a thing, Mom.  IT EXISTS.  ON THE INTERNET.

Mom:  So, it's a Web site?  Like Bro Codes?

Big Kid:  Bro Codes is a CHAPTER of the Guyble, Mom.  Like Dude-a-ronomy.

Mom:  Is Dude-a-ronomy really a thing?

Big Kid:  Yup.

Little Kid:  Mom, is there such a thing as a Girlble?

Mom:  Did you say gerbil?

Little Kid:  NO.  GIRL-BLE.  Like, a girl Bible?

Mom:  Yes, it's called Seventeen Magazine.  Well, that's the Old Testament equivalent.  I guess Cosmo would be your New Testament.  Never mind, let's not get into that.

On my to-do list:  checking out The Guyble.  Suspecting that it is targeted to a slightly older audience than my boys, but kinda intrigued, and also more than a bit amused.

[Gerbil anatomy chart courtesy of]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Countdown to the New Old House: I Hate Lowe's With the Fire of a Thousand Suns

Recap:  After enduring the Bataan death march that was my Lowe's promotional coupon shopping experience, and after they inexplicably sent us two of everything that we special-ordered (imagine, if you will, Noah's ark, but filled with hardware), and after we endured the colonoscopy that is the Lowe's returns process, we decided that we needed to return one last thing, being the too-brassy faucet for the bar sink.  So Spouse braved Lowe's once again, returned a $200 faucet, and then, 15 minutes later, attempted to buy a $150 faucet.  AND THEY REFUSED TO LET HIM PURCHASE IT.  Spouse pointed out that this couldn't be a credit limit issue, because (1) we were well below it and (2) even if we hadn't been below it before, HE HAD JUST RETURNED SOMETHING THAT COST MORE THAN WHAT HE WAS TRYING TO BUY.  "Helpful" Salesclerk confirmed that it wasn't a credit limit issue, but, rather, her computer had prompted her to verify our address.  When Spouse tried to give her the information, HS stopped him and said that The Computer needed to talk to me, because I had opened the account and was therefore the "primary cardholder."  (Note that I am only the primary cardholder because, when we first bought the house and concurrently made our first major Lowe's purchase, I ended up filling out the credit application because (a) Spouse was busy doing manly stuff at the other end of the store and (b) I have vastly superior handwriting.  Mostly, it was (b).  Because I filled out the application, I put my name first.  So, while both of us are authorized users, The Lowe's Computer will not talk to Spouse.  PRIMARILY BECAUSE I HAPPEN TO PRINT LIKE A DRAFTSMAN.)  Spouse called me, I tried to call Credit Services, but they were closed for the evening.  And then Spouse decided that Home Depot really deserved our faucet business, anyway, all things considered, so the calling Credit Services thing got pushed.

Until today.

Someone in Bangalore:   Thank you for calling.  We needed to speak to you, as the primary cardholder, because a piece of mail was returned to us, so now we need to verify your address.

Me:  Well, as the notes on The Computer may tell you, we are mid-home remodel, and during the remodel, we have been out of the house, which means our mail has been forwarded.  Except that junk mail doesn't seem to get forwarded [which, as an aside, has been GLORIOUS], so given that, and given that all of our billing statements arrived just fine, I'm guessing that some kind of promotional mailer that we didn't want or ask for [given our GLORIOUS experience with the LAST promotional mailer] is the source of my current troubles.  [Okay, I didn't say all of this to her, but what I didn't say out loud, I said in my head.]

[Then I confirmed that, in fact, our billing address has never changed.]

Someone:  Thank you for confirming that information. You and your spouse will now be able to use your cards.

Me:  Yeah, about that:  I want my spouse to be able to talk to you about our credit line.  So can you please make a notation that I have given you that authorization, so hopefully we never have to go through this again?

Someone:  I'm sorry, but we will still need to verify important information through you as the primary cardholder.

Me:  And there's no way that we can get around that?

Someone:  There is, but it is complicated.   You would need to provide a document called a power of attorney.

Me:  Oh, well, as it turns out, I'm an attorney, so that's not that complicated of a prospect at all.  It's totally assinine, but not complicated.   Give me your physical address.

Someone:  Oh, a fax would be fine.


Me, out loud:  Then let me get that number from you.

I related this story to some of my coworkers, who were as nonplussed as I was.  Then one of the associates - God bless him - took it upon himself to take the Texas statutory business power of attorney form and modify it to address TRANSACTIONS WITH LOWE'S ONLY.  I say God bless him, because:  (1) he understood without me having to say it that the only thing that would make submitting a power of attorney to Lowe's more absurdly amusing would be for me to STAFF IT OUT TO SOMEONE; and (2) if I had drafted the document, I probably would have found a way to work in a few mild curse words.  And, possibly, an F-bomb.

The statutory form is basically a check-the-box form:  it lists lots of standard powers, you cross out the ones you don't want to give, and then there is a blank for "other."  He checked the "other" box.  So, the result was a statutory form with all of the run-of-the-mill powers crossed out, and then in the "other" category the words "AUTHORIZED TO TALK TO LOWE'S ABOUT CREDIT ACCOUNT #___________________ ." 


Another coworker advised me that, before I swear my allegiance once and for all to the power of Home Depot, I should consider the following:  her husband forgot to bring his American Express card to the store.  He called her, she gave him the number over the phone, and he provided his social security number and driver's license to the Home Depot clerk.  That should have been the end of that, right?  WRONG.

"I'm going to need the phone number of the primary cardholder."

"Okay, that would be me, so . . . ."

"Sir, I need the phone number."


But he gave her the phone number.  And then watched her dial the phone at the checkstand.  His phone vibrated.  He answered it.


"I just needed to verify that it was you."  

I suspect that his Home Depot clerk probably has Lowe's on her resume somewhere as well.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kid Stuff: Brother-Free Weekend

It's kind of exciting when your big brother leaves town to attend a church retreat.  Because that means having Mom and Dad all to yourself.

It's less exciting when Mom and Dad drag you to the house-in-progress and make you wait while they inspect bathroom tile:

Continuing the downward spiral:  Mom drives you back to the apartment, and doesn't realize that she left her  apartment keys at the house until you have pulled into the garage.  Fortunately, Mom doesn't clean out the trunk of her car that often.  It only took a few seconds of digging to locate a still-in-the-package Star Wars kite:

By the time Dad showed up with a backup set of keys, the kite was assembled and aloft, and Mom had shed her work shoes and was enjoying the feel of grass between her toesies.

We had a little bit of a meltdown at bedtime, when it clicked that we would be sleeping alone, without a brother for company . . . in a bedroom on the other side of the apartment from Mom and Dad's.  But slumber ultimately was achieved.  Around 7 am, Mom opened her eyes to find a small face inches away from hers.  Mom managed not to scream.

"You're up early, PJ."

"No, I'm not.  We always get up this early.  And we keep each other company until you guys get up.  But this morning YOU have to keep me company."

Fair enough.

Mom and Son watched a new episode of "Young Justice."  Cereal was consumed.  Dad ultimately was roused, and Son was dispatched to Nana's for a few hours while Mom and Dad tackled various yard and carriage house projects.  (Son was given the option of helping.  Son declined.  Mom and Dad were less than surprised.)

After dinner on Saturday, it was time for an epic superhero battle.  Mom was assigned the villains:  The Riddler, Joker, Clayface, Ra's al Ghul and his League of Assassins (okay, technically, they are Imaginext ninjas, but Mom thinks they count), a not-to-scale Penguin (we couldn't find his action figure, so we substituted a Pillow Pet) and . . . um . . . the alien from "Alien Versus Predator."  No, not part of the DC Universe, but since PJ took some artistic license, Mom was entitled to take some as well.

Oops - forgot Metallo with the kung-fu grip:

PJ got Batman and Robin - of course.

He also got Hawkman, The Flash, Green Lantern - and Obi-Wan Kenobi, several Stormtroopers and a handful of Transformers.

(Yes, I pointed out that Stormtroopers are bad guys.  I was told to stop being so technical.)

PJ got the newer of our Bat Caves and Planet Oa, and I got Joker's Fun House and the old Bat Cave (which we decided was "Bizarro Bat Cave").  Then we got down to business.

"Not so fast, Ice Batman.  Your beefy bicep is no match for my kung-fu grip."

PJ retaliated by taking out one of my ninja assassins.

And then he unveiled his secret weapon:  Ace the Batdog.  Being our actual dog.

Round 1 of "Penguin Versus Ace" went to Ace.

Round 2 went to Penguin:

The battle ultimately was declared a draw.

Then Clayface ate Robin:

Then PJ ate Clayface.


Mom attacked with a lethal blow - she made Batman wear a floppy red hat.

Victory was declared.  Not really.  There's only one rule to epic superhero battle:  the Little Kid must win.  Mom conceded defeat.  Cookies were consumed.  Justice League videos were also consumed.

Brother-free weekend was pronounced a success.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Big Kid had a church retreat this weekend, so the grandparents kept the Little Kid occupied yesterday while Spouse and I worked in the carriage house and backyard.  Container plant pots were evaluated for cracks.  Plants were transplanted.  Weeds were pulled.  A metric ton each of trash, recycling and "garage" sale were sorted through.  And, in the process, I came in contact with a variety of materials - some organic, some not - that my immune system did not appreciate.

Killer hives are back.  They woke me up an hour after I fell asleep.  I managed to get back to sleep, and slept until 7 am, when the thunderstorm started.  Elbowed Spouse, who took the dogs out before things got nasty.  Then I requested, and was presented with, two Benadryl, and promptly lapsed into a Benadryl-induced coma.  Spouse eventually vacated our room, but not before putting the small dog on the bed with me. (The small dog, being half dachshund and half corgi, cannot get on the bed on his own, so it's a big treat to be placed on the bed.)  I slumbered, with a small dog curled against my side, and a rotating cast of felines camped out on my feet, until just before 11 am (which was pickup time for the Big Kid), when I was awakened by Spouse frantically searching for keys.

"I have to meet the bus.  But I can't find my house keys, which have my car keys on them, and I can't find the  keys to your car, either."

"Okay, I had them last - no, wait, I had your house keys last.  You dropped me off, and I used your keys to get in, because I left my house keys at work by mistake.  Then you drove to my parents' to pick up the Little Kid and the dog, so you have my car keys."

Dig, dig.

"Oh, okay.  Here they are.  You can just lock me out, then, and let me back in.  Wait - I still need my keys, because I put your car in the garage, and I can't get into the garage without them, and I also can't get into my car to get the spare clicker without them."

"Did you try looking where I always put keys?" 


"Did you look in my purse?"


I sighed.  I got out of bed.  I looked where I always put keys.  And there they were - only, Spouse had put a bag of kitty litter pellets on top of them.  Funny thing about Spouse - when he looks for things, he doesn't think to move other things and look underneath.  There is a name for this disorder.  It's called "being male."

Then I remembered that Spouse went to Petsmart last night, which was the point of origin for said kitty litter pellets, and I remembered that Spouse let himself in and out of the house, which means that - after I put the keys were they are supposed to go - Spouse retrieved said keys, used them, returned them to their rightful spot, and THEN COVERED THEM WITH KITTY LITTER PELLETS.  I (narrowly) avoided telling Spouse that he was, in fact, the source of both of our problems.

Spouse left.  I tried to go back to sleep.  No luck.  I realized that I was hungry.  I called Spouse to demand reparations - in the form of a Subway sandwich, or takeout Chinese.  AND MY CALL WENT TO VOICE MAIL.  So I left a message:  "You woke me up.  For no good reason.  And now I demand reparations. Call me back."

Five minutes.  No return call.  I called again.  This time, he picked up.

"Where are you?"

"In the Sonic drive-through line."

"I demand reparations."

"I figured you might.   I ordered you a Route 44 diet cherry limeade."

"It's a start.  But I also require lunch."

"What do you want?"

"Chinese.  Or a sandwich.  Not Sonic.  SURPRISE ME."

He went with Panda Express.  Sweet-fire chicken and beef with broccoli, side order of lo mein.  And I agreed to cease killing him in my mind.

Taking more Benadryl.  To counteract the MSG.  And then going back to bed.  But not before making sure that all car and house keys are in ridiculously conspicuous locations.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Countdown to the New Old House: Ambiguity

[Text in Italics reflects Spouse's half of the conversation.]

I went by the house.  Tile is halfway up the walls over the bathtub.


It's fine.

It's . . . just . . . fine?


You do realize that you're scaring the crud out of me right now, don't you?

Why?  I said it was fine.  Fine is a perfectly good word.  Like "fine wine."  

Um, "fine" is - well, fine - in the context of "fine wine."  "It's fine" has a slightly different, and less positive, connotation.  Is it not what you expected?  Do you not care for the tile?  Or do you not care about it?


So you don't like it?
It is what it is.


It's not a shower stall, but I think you'll like it. 

Ah, so this is about you not getting a shower stall.

No.  It is what it isAnd, for what it is, it's fine.

I am killing you in my mind right now.  For the second time since this conversation started.

They also painted baseboards.

But they haven't put the hardwood floors down yet.

I know.  The baseboards are up on sawhorses drying, ready to be installed.  It will save time.  Assuming that they don't get damaged before installation.

These are long lengths of baseboard?  Floating in space in the middle of a room?

Pretty much.

Yeah, I don't particularly like their chances.  By the way, I just killed you again in my mind.

Fair enough.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Weed Block Versus Round-Up: A Theological Discussion

Loving Hey Miss Awesome for posting this on her Tumblr account.  And thinking about, maybe, having it embroidered on a pillow.

This morning, Spouse and I were praying together.  Yeah, we actually do that.  We also hold hands during the Lord's Prayer on Sunday mornings.  We laugh/lament that the 9:30 am service at First Meth - I have decided to start shortening it to "Meth," because it's kinda ironic and edgy-sounding - counts as a date for us, because the kids are usually both in Sunday school, so it's just the two of us, holding hands and saying "Our Father" together.  But I have heard that, among couples who pray together regularly, the divorce rate is 0.3%, which - if I'm doing my math correctly - is A DANG SIGHT LOWER than the 50% divorce rate applicable to the general population.  That's not why we pray together, but it's certainly a bonus.


Among my prayer requests was that I could personally find the inner strength to eliminate hate from my heart.  Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word - let's go with resentment.  I have been harboring a lot of resentment against various and sundry people who, let's just say, do not treat others as they probably would prefer to be treated themselves.  And let's also just say that the construction process has brought a number of these folks out of the woodwork.  Hence my present baseline resentment level, which I would classify as "fairly toxic."

And resentment is a toxin, and I know that, and so I want to wave it goodbye - because it's self-destructive, and counterproductive.

So I decided that praying for peace on this subject was the equivalent of putting down weed block fabric.  You know, that black plastic stuff that you put in your flower beds?  I decided that every time I prayed to rid my heart of resentment, I would visualize another layer of weed block being put down, and then, when confronted with not-nice behavior, I would visualize the not-nice person attempting to plant a weed in my internal backyard, AND THE WEED WOULD NOT GET ANY PURCHASE, ON ACCOUNT OF THE WEED BLOCK.

Nice visual, right?

Except my mind only seems to be seizing on that image fifty percent of the time.  The rest of the time, the quote about mental murder pops up.  And then the thought occurs to me:  weed block fabric is only one way to skin the proverbial cat.  Admittedly, it's a healthy option, but it's also a time-consuming and labor-intensive option.  WHEREAS GOING SCORCHED EARTH WITH A BOTTLE OF ROUND-UP . . . not healthy in the least.  Horribly bad for the environment.  But quick, and instantly gratifying.

And there you have it.  In this corner:  New Testament Me.  Committed to putting down the weed block, and pledging to cover it with good topsoil (which, for purposes of this metaphor, I equate to eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and otherwise doing all of the things that I could do and should do to put myself in an optimally accepting and philosophical frame of mind).  And then I should just move on to other pastures, on the strength of my conviction that the weed block will do its thing.

"LAAAAAAAME," Old Testament Me scoffs.  "HERE's your visual:  a big ol' bottle of Round-Up.  With one of those old-school Mr. Yuk stickers on it, for full effect.  [Apropos of nothing:  can you still get Mr. Yuk stickers?  I recall them being incredibly effective, back in the day.]  Now imagine a reaaaaaaaaallly big spoon.  Not a soup spoon - a serving spoon.  Now imagine yourself force-feeding Yuk Juice to all of the turkeys in your life.  See?  Satisfying."

Well, not entirely.

But incredibly tempting.  At various times, more than others.

Going home to eat with my family, get a little exercise and unwind.   Gotta put some topsoil down on that weed block, so it doesn't blow away . . . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spoke Too Soon . . . .

Only one slab of Cambria "Windermere" is immediately available in the Metroplex.  Second slab is on order.  Dates will slip as a result - hopefully by only a few days, a week at most.

Hell's bells.

Countdown to the New Old House: Momentum

Last Friday:  Realized that we miscalculated the total square footage of our kitchen countertop - not in our favor, in terms of overall cost.  Cursed.  A lot.

Yesterday:  Got revised bids - one for a 2 cm countertop, and one for a 3 cm.  Was advised that the only difference between the two was a matter of aesthetics.  Decided to go with the 2 cm, since I didn't particularly like the chunky look.

Today:  At the last minute, said "what the hell," ordered the more expensive 3 cm, and then ordered an edge that will make it look skinnier.  Yes, I realize that this makes absolutely no sense and is totally out of character for both of us, as we generally don't opt for "more" simply because it's "more."  Did I mention that after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we learned that the total cost of our mistake in calculating square footage was $200, even if we went with the more expensive option?  Yeah, so, moving on.

Broke land-speed records to get the contract and half of the contract price to the contractor.  And in return, contractor agreed to fast-track some stuff for us (see below).

Also today:  Ordered the backsplash.  Pressed tin, in a creamy white satin finish, with a clover design; like this, but, you know, NOT COPPER:

Spouse and I both immediately gravitated to the clover, which I attributed to our shared Irish/Scotch Irish heritage - until Easter morning, when I practically ran into this fountain in the church courtyard:

So now I'm thinking it's a Methodist thing.  Or maybe just a Gothic/Tudor Revival thing.  Or maybe we gravitated to a Tudor house because of the other two things?  Whatever.  It works for us.

Backsplash is MUCH less expensive than the countertop - ridiculously so.  On the plus side, it allows me to justify my countertop.  AND it goes up with just a little Liquid Nails, which makes me tremendously happy, because SOMETHING about this process should be easy as pie.

Of course, at the last minute, I added switchplate and outlet covers (to match the backsplash) to the order, which nearly doubled the cost, and which means that various covers already purchased (as part of the Bataan Death March that was my Lowe's shopping experience) will have to go back.  But that's okay, because we changed up some outlet configurations, so some returns were a given.  And, also, I have rethought the faucet for the bar sink, and I have to make that exchange immediately because . . . well, keep reading.

Tomorrow, at oh-dark-thirty AM:  Template for countertop is being prepared.

Friday:  Countertop is being fabricated.

Next MondayCountertop is being installed.  How's that for service, peeps?

After next Monday:  Appliances go in.  Hardwoods go down.  Carpet goes down in Spouse's office.  Baseboards are installed.  Etc.

Is it soup yet?  No, but we're moving from a simmer to a rolling boil.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Big Day for Me and JC

Title of this blog comes courtesy of Spouse's law school roommate, who, in his Facebook birthday wish to me, remarked on the fact that today was a "big day for me and JC."   I would say that, all things considered, JC's day was a wee bit bigger, but nevertheless I was humbled and honored to get to celebrate my birthday on this, the most joyous day on the Christian calendar.

Somewhat bittersweet was the realization that this is the last of four birthdays, and the last of seven major holidays, that we will celebrate in the apartment.  If you had told me, when we moved in and I was finding a place for our Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations, that I would still be here on Easter, I would have laughed at you - as it was, I felt pretty silly about bringing a couple of boxes of Christmas stuff and only justified it on the basis that we might have to stage some Christmas card photos in November.  The idea of being here in December - LET ALONE APRIL - was beyond me.

Nevertheless, here we are - and I have to say that we have had some fun times.  I gave myself - and the bunny - permission to phone this one in.  I actually could have accessed the Easter decorations, which are in the attic, which is now accessible, but I decided that it didn't make sense to drag over stuff that would almost immediately need to be dragged back.  So, instead, I cut some decorations out of paper, threw in a couple of stuffed Peeps that reside in my office the rest of the year, and planned on calling it good.  But then at the last second I decided to freestyle a bit:

Yes, I put bunny ears on family photos. I also dragged PJ's Bat Caves (plural), Joker's Fun House and Planet Oa into the living room, to give the bunny some creative egg-hiding options:

Before going to bed, I realized that we needed Robin - you know, on account of how Batman smells and Robin lays an egg?  Except our Robin didn't lay an egg, because that would just be too cliched:

He laid a giant carrot.

The bunny brought C "The Brick Bible," which is a faithful retelling of the major stories from the Old Testament - utilizing LEGO dioramas.  Here's a tip:  if you have a LEGO-obsessed boy, "The Brick Bible" is exactly what the doctor ordered if you want said boy to consider the Bible a real page-turner.  (As the parent of a LEGO-obsessed child, you will appreciate the clever use of LEGOs from various building sets - for example, Sampson's hair, pre-haircut, is Hagrid's hair from the Harry Potter "Hagrid's Hut.")

PJ was partial to the invisible ink pens with black lights in the caps.  We let him take them to church, in light of the facts that there would be no Sunday school and that we would have LOTS of Sanctuary time, since we had to get there early to hold seats for the confirmands.  When things dragged, we wrote secret messages to each other on the church bulletin.

As alluded to above, Easter morning started early for us, as C's confirmation class had to meet at 8:30 to stud the Easter cross with flowers.  Saturday had also started early for me, because I had to accompany C to his interview for a junior camp counselor position at the Zoo.  (Big week for C, too, I guess?)  Thus, one of my favorite gifts from my family was the opportunity to take a nap between church and Easter/birthday dinner.  (Equally exciting was coming home to a clean[er] house after my Saturday afternoon grocery run.)  We had a great dinner with my parents and grandmother that was heavier on the "Easter" than on the "birthday," which was just fine with me.  Thanks to my parents, grandmother and mom-in-law, I cleaned up in the gift department, crossing off twelve or so items from our Container Store housewarming registry.  (Okay, I caved and registered, primarily because I couldn't believe that such a thing as a  housewarming registry existed, and also because it was a way to keep track of items that I wanted - but people took me seriously, and now I have my expandable bamboo utensil drawer, and the matching knife drawer insert, and a bunch of stacking bamboo boxes for the drawer that will hold serving pieces, and a TON of refrigerator bins, and three types of drawer liners.  (Leave it to my mother to intuit that I would want off-white in the upper cabinets, brown in the lower cabinets and the clear ribbed stuff in certain of the drawers.)  I also got a folding bamboo chair to match my other folding bamboo chair,  so now I have two matching ones to pull out when we need extra seating.  (Since the breakfast room furniture is going bye-bye, I no longer have four matching Windsor chairs to press into service as needed.)

Apparently, birthday #42 is the "bamboo" birthday.  And I'm okay with that, since bamboo is a renewable resource, and I would like to think of my birthday as being something that is going to be repeated year in and year out.

Spouse and the kids didn't buy me gifts to open, on account of the big-ticket "gifts" that are getting delivered to us on pretty much a daily basis.  But Spouse did give me a card that I plan on holding onto for awhile.  It says: 

The castle gets messy,
the little peasants sometimes revolt,
and we both know your prince isn't always so charming.

Thanks for making every single day feel like
Happy birthday to the QUEEN of our home,

That's just the preprinted part.  He wrote his own message about sheetrock and 2x4's occasionally failing us and kids growing up and embarking on lives of their own, and opined that, no matter what life might throw at us, he would be okay as long as he had me to call "home."

Needless to say, I bawled like a baby - in part because it was so sweet, and in part because it didn't feel particularly well-earned.  Let's just say that I haven't been Princess Charming much lately, either.  His ability to see past all of that is pretty much the biggest and best gift that I could ask for.

Onward - and looking forward to celebrating Easter and my birthday back at the castle next year.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Catching Up Is Hard to Do

Things I have failed to blog about, because I have been consumed with house stuff:

The pizza-off:  It was awesome.  I think my favorite was the entry from Missouri.  (You read that right.)  Loaded with greasy sausage, but not too filling, because they kept the crust thin.  Seriously, you could eat several slices and feel like you had room for more.  On second thought, this is a HORRIBLE pizza concept, destined to put you in an early grave.  If you live in Missouri. If you live in Texas, then I guess it's acceptable as an occasional taste treat.

My entry did not win points for taste.  I followed the recipe to the letter, down to the made-from-scratch dough, because I didn't have time to experiment with other dough products.  The result was way too dense, and the dough-to-filling recipe was off.  Next time, I will use refrigerated dough - if there is a next time.  Because I don't really see myself introducing these into the rotation. Way too labor-intensive.

But they won style points:

Yes, those are pizza cupcakes.  With Batman toppers - and grape tomatoes masquerading as cherries.  Icing is ricotta, and sprinkles are dyed sea salt.  There's mozzarella, pepperoni and sauce hiding under the "frosting."  Cool, huh?

Not delicious - just cool.

St. Pat's:  You saw the Lucky Charms treats - but I did not share with you the s'mores.

Because s'mores are traditional St. Patrick's Day fare.  Corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, a stiff pint, and a S'MORE.  Right?  Okay, PJ totally thinks that s'mores should be part of St. Pat's, YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT:

That, ladies and germs, is a happy kid.  Do you like his green shirt, with the Star Wars "Class of '77"depicted on the front?  Big Brother immediately pointed out that Yoda was not part of the Class of '77; he was Class of '80.  Here are the thoughts that ran through my head immediately prior to his comment:

Cute shirt.

Except Yoda wasn't in "New Hope"; he didn't show up until "Empire."

C's totally going to say something about that.   In three, two, one . . . .

It's fun sharing a brain with your twelve year-old son.  Most of the time. 

Spring Break:  St. Pat's capped off a fun staycation week for the McGlincheys.  Couldn't leave town, due to frequent command performances at the house - plus, the last time we went out of town, THE HOUSE ALMOST DROWNED.  So I feel like I need to be around, to administer CPR when and where appropriate.

We couldn't go out of town - but we could, and did, go bowling:

And then we played putt-putt:

And drove go-karts:

And navigated bumper boats:

And hit the batting cages:

Not pictured:  trips to the arcade and the movies.

Just to clarify:  all of the above did not rate me "coolest mom ever" accolades.  That took two teaspoonfuls of chocolate frosting.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Countdown to the New Old House: The Challenge

So Spouse and I have decided to make it our goal to zero out the pantry, refrigerator and freezer before we move, in the interest of having to move the smallest quantity of items possible from the apartment to the house. Actually, we have been working on this since we moved, but now - it's crunch time.  And I am getting WAAAAY too much satisfaction out of figuring out recipes that utilize the maximum number of food items in our current possession.

While whipping up a batch of sun-dried tomato alfredo pasta with chicken (six items!) for Spouse to nosh on while I'm at Junior League, I came across a can of chocolate frosting in the fridge.  Chocolate frosting is sort of a novelty in our house; we're a homemade buttercream family.  However, while simultaneously preparing green buttercream for St. Patrick's Day cupcakes and grounding the 12 year-old for failing to turn in a major project and, essentially, lying to us about it (long story - I'll spare you), I got distracted and over-added milk. Despite valiant attempts to regain control over my wayward frosting (add more butter, add more powdered sugar, repeat), I never got the consistency right.  So Spouse departed for the nearest retail outpost (Walgreen's), because we were running late for a party as it was, and a trip to an actual grocery store wasn't going to cut it.  Spouse returned with what they had, which was chocolate frosting in a can.

I made the best of it.

(Yes, those are Lucky Charms treats in the front - like Rice Krispie treats, but with yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers . . . .)

Anyway.  There was just a wee bit of chocolate frosting left in the can, and I decided that I would have a teaspoon or two - for the sake of Operation Kitchen Clean-Out, of course.  After indulging in two spoonfuls of what may be the most white trash dessert "EVER," I realized that there were still two spoonfuls left - two spoonfuls that I didn't want (okay, full disclosure, I totally WANTED them but did not NEED them).  Putting the can back in the fridge was not an option, because I had been eating directly out of the can, and homie doesn't play "grow your own mouth bacteria," so the remaining contents had to be consumed right then and there.

Fortunately, my youngest child loves chocolate - and had not yet had dessert.

"Hey, PJ.  Want to eat chocolate frosting out of a can?"

The Big Kid's head snapped up.  Not because he was left out of  the offer.  Homie doesn't do dessert - and, if he did, it wouldn't be chocolate.

"Mom . . ."

I waited for the rebuke.  Yes, I am feeding your darling younger brother shortening-based fudge icing in a can.  Because I am the worst -

". . . you are the best mom ever."

Okay, that's sarcasm, right?

"And, before you ask, I'm not being sarcastic. I'm serious.  That is quite possibly the coolest thing you have ever done."

Reaaaaaaaaally?  Even cooler than buying you the box of candy in the forefront of this picture, which you proclaimed  "the best geek Valentine's gift of all time"?

Wow, I'm firing on all cylinders.

We'll see how cool they think I am when I run out of chocolate frosting and start pushing salmon.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Things I'm Digging: Nice People and Hex Values

So a few weeks ago I blogged about the awesome-sauce "Sharktopus" poster that we purchased from Wonderbros' Etsy site.  Not only was the poster fabulous, exactly as advertised, but the proprietors (the aforementioned Wonder Bros) proved themselves to be super-nice when we had a momentary panic about the poster going to the wrong address and, maybe, getting rained on.  They actually offered to send us duplicates on the house.  That's customer service, peeps.

So I blogged about Sharktopus, and I mentioned that I had - um, not buyer's remorse, because that implies that you bought something - REGRETS that I did not throw "Picasso Wonder Woman" into my cart when I bought art for my own little Wonder Bros.

Today a second delivery arrived from the WBs, and for a minute we thought that they went ahead and sent duplicates anyway - but then we opened the tube and found the divine Ms. WW, in all of her Cubist glory, face smushed up against the contours of her invisible jet.

Given that my birthday is on Sunday, my first thought was that Spouse bought her for me - but he said that he didn't, and when he said it he used his "I'm actually being serious" voice, which, after eighteen years, is easy for me to tell apart from his "I'm being cute and coy" voice.  So then I suspected that one of my girlfriends saw the blog post and decided to surprise me.  I attempted to call her (whoever "she" was) out on Facebook - but all I got was a series of messages that read, essentially, "You'd better safeguard her, or else I'm stealing her."

Then I got on Etsy (for reasons I shall explain later) and found a lovely note from the Wonder Bros, thanking me for taking the time to blog about them, and letting me know that they had sent me a little sumptin' sumptin'.

How flippin' cool is that?

As it turns out, the reason that I was on Etsy was that PJ is so enamored of Sharktopus that I decided to have two "Keep Calm" posters ("Keep Calm and Love Sharks" and "Keep Calm and Call Batman") custom-printed IN COLORS TO MATCH SHARKTOPUS.   Specifically, the Batman print will be the dark blue that's in the background behind Sharktopus, and the shark one will be the gold color that's in the text on the poster and also on PJ's ceiling.  Oh - did I mention that we painted his ceiling to coordinate with Sharktopus?  BECAUSE I AM - I MEAN, WE ARE - JUST THAT AWESOME?

Anyway, to make sure that everything coordinated, I downloaded Color Detector 2.0 and then pulled up Sharktopus and pointed my cursor at strategic areas, and Color Detector informed me of the hex values of each color highlighted.  So now I can inform the folks who are printing the Keep Calm sign of the exact "formula" for Sharktopus blue and Sharktopus gold.

Total awesome-sauce.

So here's the plan for new indie art for the new-and-improved casa:

KitchenTwo eye-chart prints - one with the lyrics to "You Are My Sunshine" and the other reading, "No Pressure, No Diamond."  The latter is easy to explain:  diamonds are a sorority thing for me.  The former is a little weirder.  When Spouse and I were dating, he used to sing "Sunshine" to me.  And I told him to stop, because the song is all kinds of depressing:

The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried

THAT part is depressing; the rest is just desperate ("please don't take my sunshine away").  Nevertheless, it kind of stuck in my head as one of "our" songs, so now it's going on the wall.  Unless I decide to go with "I love you more than ice cream," which is more of a PJ concept.

On second thought, PJ already will be represented in the kitchen, because he picked out a tyrannosaurus rex butcher chart (you read that right) after I informed the kids that WE WERE HAVING SOME VARIETY OF DINOSAUR BUTCHER CHART IN THE KITCHEN, AND THEY GOT TO PICK WHICH ONE.  Personally, I was leaning towards the triceratops, because I think that they would be juicier.  I mean, they were the cows of their day, right?  Eating a T-rex would be like eating a puma - stringy predator meat.  Not that I have ever eaten a puma, but you can kind of imagine.

[Insert joke here about raptors tasting like chicken.]

Spouse does not particularly see the need for a dinosaur butcher chart in the kitchen.  But Spouse was outvoted, 3-1.

Big Kid's room:

Awesome retro "Ghostbusters" movie poster print from the Wonder Bros.

Eye chart (red with white lettering) reading "All You Need is Love is All You Need."   [Kid's crazy about the Beatles.]

"Keep Calm and Grow a Stache" sign (in navy and white).  [If Spouse appeared nonplussed by the dinosaur, he REALLY looked at me crazy-like over the stache.  BECAUSE HE DOES NOT GET THAT HIS TWELVE YEAR-OLD SON THINKS THAT FINGER MUSTACHES ARE THE FUNNIEST THING EVER - with the possible exception of lolcats, which has me thinking that instead of the stache, we could go with the "Keep Calm" poster featuring Ceiling Cat?  I threw this out as an option, and Spouse merely shrugged - but I know his body language, and the shrug translated into, "WHAT IN TARNATION IS A CEILING CAT?"  Yes, Spouse sounds like Foghorn Leghorn in my head.  And one of our cats is totally Eric Cartman from "South Park."]

Retro-looking boxing-style poster featuring a matchup between Cad Bane and Boba Fett.

The Danish Modern-looking "New Hope" poster (in a greenish-gold color palette to match HIS ceiling) that I referenced in a prior post.

The last two items are giving me fits, because they are A3 (European) sized, and I am striking out at finding A3 frames short of having them shipped across the Pond.  (Okay, they probably have them at IKEA, but I am really trying to complete this project without having to go to IKEA, because if getting our restoration project across the finish line is already stressful, injecting an IKEA trip is a sure recipe for "triple murder-suicide.")

Little Kid's room:

Sharktopus.  Duh.

The aforementioned "Keep Calm" posters.

The two Warhol prints of himself that he created.

Yes, I realize that these clash with Sharktopus.  But he was insistent about using green, and you just don't argue when you're dealing with a small, temperamental artist.

If you were wondering about the bottom photo, those are iced sugar cookies that he is holding to his head like ears or antlers. They were fleur-de-lis-shaped, for Mardi Gras.  And they were delicious.

I really have no business buying art right now, or anything that could wait until after we move in,on account of how it's crunch time, and we are pulling triggers like crazy - on  countertops, appliances, etc., etc.  And everything is coming out of our pockets, because we can't get our mortgage company to release insurance funds to us until we achieve substantial completion and obtain lien waivers, and obtaining lien waivers translates into making final payments to subcontractors, so that's more money out of our pockets.  I knew that this day would come, and I guess I should be glad that (1) it's finally here and (2) for the last seven months we've made purchases and paid draws out of monthly cash flow without having to access savings even temporarily, which is pretty remarkable when you have a remodel foisted upon you with zero warning and/or time to squirrel away funds. Nevertheless, writing so many big checks in quick succession unsettles me - and when I am unsettled, I find myself wanting to nest. So I have made a deal with myself and Spouse:  as a reward for turning in reimbursement receipts at work, I am permitted to retain a certain small portion of my reimbursement check for application to quirky art (and framing therefor).

And now I can add Picasso Wonder Woman to the framing list.  But she's not going to the house - nope, she's going right over my desk at work.  And if anyone wants to read "glass ceiling" subtext into her face being smushed against her jet, well, that's up to them.

More Stuff My Seven Year-Old Says - Or How My Husband Almost Drove Off of a Bridge

Halfway across the Hulen Street bridge (which, as Fort Worth residents know, is currently two-lane), PJ announces that one of his friends is "s***ting on this girl."


He repeated himself.

The third time, he enunciated.

"He is CHEATING on her, Dad."


 I am informed that I am very lucky that they made it across the bridge alive, because it took every ounce of Spouse's concentration not to drive off of the bridge, or veer into oncoming traffic.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Kid Stuff: Stuff My Seven Year-Old Says

"Mom, you need to do check my homework A-S-S.  Wait; that's not right.  What's the thing that people spell that starts with A-S?  OH.  A-S-A-P.  You need to do that for me A-S-A-P."

[Upon being reminded by his mom that his essay about the winter holidays was supposed to be heavy on adjectives] "I said CHRISTMAS Eve, Mom.  Christmas is an adjective in that sentence.  Which Eve?  CHRISTMAS Eve.  Not New Year's Eve, or Easter Eve, or Birthday Eve, or Tuesday Eve.  CHRISTMAS.  Okay, here's one:  'My uncles bought me righteous presents.'  Does 'righteous' work for you?  BECAUSE 'RIGHTEOUS' IS A RIGHTEOUS ADJECTIVE."

[Yes, I am raising a small surfer dude.  He is number two in a series.]

[Upon his mom confirming that his homework for the evening was complete] "PUH-EACE! I'M OUT!"

God love him.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Adventures in Party Planning: Playing Catch-Up

As promised (um, two months ago), some tablescapes from Reading Rocks:

Fancy Nancy. Love her.

Pinkalicious. More girl power.

Now a few for the boys:

Table was "Dragon Slayer Academy"-themed, but the concept could be adopted for anything knight-related.

LEGO Harry Potter! Credit my friend Melissa Hickman (and her boys) for this one. Imagine adapting this for a party: the kids get to build, and Mom gets her centerpiece built for her. Win-win.

One more from Melissa:

Um, the doubloon-covered display pedestal? Yeah, it turned. AND lit up. Because Melissa's husband is amazing and dedicated. (My spouse would probably like me to mention that he hauled wallboard for murals for weeks prior to the event, and fetched tipis and saddles and stuff from parts west. So his failure to construct a spinning, glowing LEGO display platform is excusable. Somewhat.)