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.