Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tempting Fate

Whilst being forced to watch "Sharknado 2" with Little Kid, I perused the fourth grade school supply list, inventoried what we had left over from last year - and discovered that we have 70% of the list knocked out.

His backpack is in good condition, and Big Kid's will at least get him started.  Don't think he wants to be the first-day freshman with the shiny new backpack, anyway, so it's a win-win if I wait until his rather overpriced go-to pack goes on sale in early fall.  (He will only consent to one model, the Element Mohave Duo Skate-Pack.  Current version looks like the one below.)

Little Kid did manage to outgrow all of his school clothes, so he has, like, one size-appropriate navy polo to his name.  Make that had one size-appropriate navy polo, because now he has several, in both navy and white, plus jeans and shorts, because Old Navy decided to put polos, shorts and jeans on sale for $5, $8 and $10, respectively.  I usually miss out on their sale, and the prices tend to slide up a bit going into tax-free weekend, so I hit the "buy" button several times and am not sorry that I did.  Threw in some solid colored polos for Big Kid, applied a 25% discount coupon and finished 70% (or more) of our back-to-school shopping in a couple of clicks.

I should be looking upwards, right?  For the other shoe that is about to come crashing down on my head?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Mom and a Teenaged Boy Walk Into An American Eagle Outfitters

In a month, the Big Kid will be in high school - and, for the first time since kindergarten, he will not be constrained to wearing only navy and white polo shirts.

You would think that this would be viewed as a positive development, but not so much. 

"Honestly, I'd be happy just to continue wearing navy and white shirts, Mom."

Understood, but fairly sure that you don't want to be that guy, so let's look through your closet.  Anything with a collar and smallish logo (regular Polo pony but not "Big Pony") is fair game.

Found seven shirts:

1 orange/white-striped Polo ("Too small.");
1 turquoise Lacoste ("WAY too small.  I don't even know why that one is still hanging up.");
1 purple Lacoste ("People will think I go to [name of rival high school].  No way I'm wearing their color.  THAT would be social suicide more than just wearing navy and white shirts all of the time.");
1 coral Lacoste ("Too close to pink.");
1 navy/pink/white-striped Lacoste ("It's, like, a thin stripe.  A golf stripe.  A DAD stripe.");
1 turquoise/multi-striped Hollister ("That one I like."  [DUH, you've worn it twice a week all summer.  I get it.]); and
1 navy Hollister with tipped collar, shoved in a drawer ("Oh, I forgot about that one.").

I lobbied hard for the coral, which looks killer on him, and the navy stripe, which is similarly attractive.  We compromised:  he'll wear them to church, "some, but not a lot."

So, because swim season is over and we didn't particularly have any other place to be, we went to the mall, and walked through a couple of stores, trying to figure out what his personal style will be (aside from "Howard-Wolowitz-from-Big-Bang-Theory-esque geek tees," which I imagine will still be the uniform on the weekends but are verboten at school).  It was slow-going at first.  First stop:  the Lacoste section of the department store.  (Okay, so I have a problem.  If you hear of an appropriate twelve-step program, let me know.)  He was only meh about the selection, and I was meh about the pricing. 

Walked past the Izod section:  "I like that belt."  Huh?  "In the poster."  Yeah, okay, they don't actually carry the belt here.  "Oh, well, never mind.  I just liked the belt."

Continued past a display of plaid shirts:  "I like SOME plaid.  But long-sleeved only.  Short-sleeved plaid shirts are dorky.  [YES!  A glimmer of hope that I am raising a bro-grammer, as opposed to a garden-variety programmer or engineer who thinks that short-sleeved buttondowns are nifty.]  Except I think I might like the less boxy ones with the pockets and the pearl snaps?  [NO!  MAYDAY, MAYDAY!  D-BAG ALERT!]  On second thought, I don't like those.  They're too swag."

["Swag" is teenage-speak for "d-bag."  Crisis averted.]

On our way out of the department store, he pointed to a couple of things:  "Maybe that one [Guess, full price], or that one [Calvin Klein, full price]."

Crud.  Indicators pointing to personal style being "expensive."

We ended up at American Eagle and were immediately pulled into the tractor beam of Hipster Employee (shaved head, handlebar mustache, beard that screamed "lute player in indie band playing brunch gig at artisanal cheese shop in Brooklyn").

"HI-THERE-WELCOME-TO-AEO-WE'RE-HAVING-A-SPECIAL-PROMOTION!  If you try on a pair of jeans, we'll text you a code for 20% off of your purchase.  Except clearance items - the code won't work on those."

Got it.  Mr. Levi's 514 Straight Fit requests a pair of slim straight denims to try on.  [UGH, what happened to "I hate skinny jeans?"  I was so on board with your skinny jean-hatred.]  Boy and jeans disappear into a dressing room.  I find a neon green polo shirt on the clearance rack.

Hipster Lute Player:  "Now, those are on the clearance rack, so THE SPECIAL CODE WON'T WORK ON THOSE."

Yes, Hipster Lute Player.  I.  GET.  IT.

Boy walks out to model jeans.  While pretty darn skinny, they are not overly "swag," and I give them a thumbs up.  Hipster Lute Player selects this moment to go on break.  Boy seeks to return to the dressing room to try on the neon green shirt and discovers that the door has locked behind him.  Boy starts to panic.  "My phone is in there, and my regular clothes.  I WANT MY REGULAR CLOTHES." 

It's okay, kid.  Hipster Lute Player is bound to return eventually.  Except that he was very slow to do so, so we went out in search of other AEO personnel, wherein we discovered Tiny Elfin Girl folding t-shirts.  She unlocked the dressing room, and we experimented with a couple of different styles of polos.  All had their baggage: 

"I LIKE the color-blocked one, but the seam rubs right across the nipples.  [Huh, never thought of that.  Bras are a wonderful thing.]  So I'd have to wear a t-shirt under it."

"I like the IDEA of that one, but I refuse to wear those colors together.  Because they're the Nerf colors."


"It's just that particular orange - it screams Nerf."


We picked out two polo shirts in addition to the clearance one, I authorized the purchase of another pair of aviator sunglasses that he can mangle or lose, and we went up to the register. 

And that's where the fun began.

Tiny Elfin Girl:  "Okay, so you text JEANS to this number.  But type JEANS first, and then the number."

No.  The order in which we type these things is irrelevant, provided that we type them in the correct fields.  Believe it or not, we HAVE texted before.  We start on Big Kid's phone, because my phone was turned off due to low battery issues.  Big Kid's phone informs him that it is blocking the text.  Kudos, Samsung Galaxy, for taking a hard line against trendy retail gimmicks.  Except, I kind of want my 20% off, so I restart my phone, which take eons to reboot, and the whole time Tiny Elfin Girl is just staring at me, and unfolding and refolding our purchases like she's moving deck chairs around the Titanic.  The text doesn't go through the first time, because SOMEONE (no one will admit to it, but I suspect Spouse, who is always installing battery-saver apps) has set up my phone to turn off mobile data without asking.  I enable data, try the text again (each time, she tells me to "type JEANS first"), and the status icon just cycles and cycles and cycles.

I lose my patience a bit.  "Isn't there something that you have at the register that you can swipe to give us the discount?  I mean, what happens if a customer doesn't have a smart phone?  How do they get the discount?"

Tiny Elfin Girl's brain clearly cannot compute the concept of SOMEONE NOT HAVING A SMART PHONE.  She looks close to crying.  Then she brightens:  "I'll ask my manager."

Yup, you guessed it.  Hipster Lute Player returns to the scene, just as the text goes through.  TEN STEPS LATER, I get a scan code.  I have to check out twice, because THE SPECIAL CODE WON'T WORK ON CLEARANCE ITEMS, and apparently some combination of the register and the sales staff can't process everything on one ticket.  I am asked for my email address both times.

I kind of want to kill someone. 

Fortunately, Big Kid gets, and shares, my frustration, and we make fun of the experience on the way home.  At home, we show Dad our purchases, which he actually approves of (even the neon green shirt), and then Big Kid tries on the aviators and screams:




No, they are sort of purplish.  Which I actually kind of get, because the frames are chartreuse, and yellow and purple are across from each other on the color wheel.


YES.  I try them on, to demonstrate that they are way too big for a female head.  Spouse points out the second-bar-across-the-nose-thingie that they don't put on girl glasses.  It takes, roughly, TEN MINUTES for Sunglass Emergency to resolve itself.

And I find myself reconsidering the "navy-and-white-shirts-only" idea.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Best Boys (And Their Melty Mom)

Some background:

Prior to last year, the boys' summer swim team had won the city's country club league championship something like 43 years running.

Last year, a few teams that were struggling with numbers asked to merge, and bring in "another small Fort Worth country club" to further augment their team size.

We (naturally) assumed that they would bring in - well, the only club in Fort Worth that wasn't already in the league.

Instead, we were surprised when a team from outside of Fort Worth showed up.  A not-small team.  A huge team, if we're being technical, the composition of which almost entirely corresponded to the membership of a select swim team that the boys compete against in the regular season.

Not so surprisingly, we lost to the "super team."

Notwithstanding that we had prepared the kids for that outcome, they were devastated.  No one wants to be on the team that lets the streak drop - certainly not a streak four decades long.  Every end-of-the-year swim banquet, since time immemorial, has begun with the parade of championship banners.  Some years, depending on camp and vacation schedules, we wouldn't have enough kids to carry all of the banners. The kids would get a chuckle out of that.

Such a silly, inconsequential thing - a winning streak in a country club swim league.  And yet:  devastated.

Actually, factually, enthusiasm was flagging before that season, but the loss (and league realignment - Mega-Team stayed around of their own accord) didn't help.  A bunch of kids who hadn't settled on swimming as a forever sport elected to drop it from their repertoire in favor of other activities.  Others who had settled on swimming as "their" sport opted to take the summer off.  Several families took their respective shows on the road and transferred to other summer leagues.  Our remaining team:  a shadow of its former self.

So, going into last Thursday's final, the deck was stacked against us.  After Wednesday night's 8-and-under meet, we were in third place out of six teams.  In years past, the "little kids" were our cushion:  even if our bigger kids stumbled, we still won on total points based on the performance of the farm club the night before.  Not much of a farm club these days, and our big kids were unlikely to make up the deficit.  Our best swimmer (I call him "Mini Phelps"- six-foot-three before he was thirteen!) had qualified for the state meet in Austin, which happened to fall on the same night.  His little brother made the trip with him, leaving us with twelve swimmers.

Twelve swimmers.

The not-small, not-actually-in-Fort Worth team - now competing on their own - dwarfed our team in sheer number of competitors, and other teams had us on numbers as well.  Our kids noticed, and we - all of the parents - said what needed to be said:  eras end.  Teams change.  You can't define yourself by what came before, or allow your life to be dominated by forces that you can't control.  All you can do is do your best, and, regardless of the outcome, your best will always be good enough.

And then it happened:  the paradigm shift.  Maybe it was having the pressure of maintaining a streak taken off of their shoulders, but the mood lightened.  The kids got loose.  It was the most relaxed meet I have ever attended.  Little Kid (known for overthinking things and seizing up in the clutch) stayed calm, finished strong in all events, and handily won his heat in butterfly.  Other kids stepped up as well - particularly Big Kid, who due to time and attrition is now the elder statesman.  This was probably his last meet with the team (although he plans to return as a volunteer coach), and he knew it.  He swam the best that I have ever seen him swim, winning first in all events for his age group and shutting out another area swimmer who has, in the past, been the thorn in the side of not just Big Kid but Mini Phelps as well.

And then it was over, and I told the boys (honestly) how proud I was of them.  Nothing could make me prouder, I said.  And then they started announcing the final team rankings over the PA.  Brutal truth:  usually, there's a bit of a delay between the end of the meet and that announcement, and although I was by no means sprinting to get the kids away from the pool, had we managed to clear the building before the announcement, I would have been sooooooo okay with that:  the parents knew that we started the night in third place and were therefore steeled for a finish of fourth or lower, but the kids had no idea.  While I want to raise children who are gracious in defeat, the momma bear in me did not relish the thought of seeing my babies blindsided.

In the end, I didn't get to choose.  Here came the numbers.  We weren't in sixth, or fifth - or fourth.  Mega-Team was in fourth.  Huh.  We weren't in third, either. 

And then there were two - our team and a team with a rather similar name.  So when they announced the second place team, you could see the moment of hesitation on the faces of all of our parents:  did they really just say the name of the other team?

They did. 

That means . . . we won?  Twelve kids, without one of their captains, facing a pretty significant deficit, and - we WON?

Yup.  By nine points, 419-410.

The elation - you have no idea.  Not because we won, but because we won under those specific circumstances.  For the duration of Big Kid's tenure on the team, and probably for about thirty years before that, the refrain has always been the same:  "Well, of course you always win.  Anyone could win with that many kids on their roster.  It's a numbers game."

But this time - for the first time - that explanation didn't hold water (small pun intended).

Adding to my personal elation:  we won under those circumstances with Big Kid at the helm.  I was almost crying when I found him, and I'm definitely crying as I type this.  All I could do was point at him and mouth, "YOU.  This was you."

His response:  "No, it was me, and M., and A., and everyone."  (This, in front of M.'s parents, who beamed.  M. has been on the fence about wanting to continue with swimming.  A few minutes before the announcement of the standings, Big Kid took him aside and stated the reasons why M. should consider joining Big Kid's select swim team.  His finish was akin to Julia Roberts' "We think you got a lot of potential, Kit De Luca" speech from "Pretty Woman," and just as heartwarming.)

Okay, so now I couldn't be prouder.  Except the boys didn't stop there.  How did they want to celebrate?

In unison:  "Let's rent a movie, pop popcorn and all pile on the couch for a movie night."

Stop it.  Seriously, you're killing me.  You, the one who towers over me:  you are forbidden to go to high school, and graduate, and leave.  Neither one of you has permission to age.  You must stay just as you are at this moment, because at this moment, you are perfect.

And then they got more perfect.

"We've consulted, and we don't think the movie we want to watch is available on demand or on Red Box.  It's kind of old - but we've seen it at Target for, like, five bucks."


"You know 'Airplane!'?  The one where the guy wears two pair of glasses and the other guy says, 'I am serious, and don't call me Shirley'?"

STAHHHHHHHHHHHP.  First, you demonstrate all sorts of grace under pressure and care and concern for your teammates, then you admit to liking us and wanting to spend time with us, and now you remind us that you have impeccable taste in films?

"I love it when that one dude is handed a report and asked, 'What can you make of this?' and he responds, 'Well, it could be a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl.'"

TRUE STORY:  that line was at the crux of one of my favorite high school memories.  That RANDOM line . . . that one of my children just quoted, apropos of not much.

We went to Target.  We acquired "Airplane!" and its sequel, along with an animated Batman film for old time's sake.  We popped popcorn.  And I felt a certain kinship with the popcorn butter.

Melted, through and through.

Culturally Mormon(ish): Second Week Post-Facebook

I remembered what I did before social media.


For reals:  once upon a time, I was hardcore into it.  And then I fell off of the wagon.

Needlework reentered my life when Big Kid advised me that the new couch throw, which (eureka!) had proven itself Dorgi Dog-proof, was unraveling (sob!) due to "child abuse."  (Neither child would admit to such abuse, but the evidence, nevertheless, was there.)  In my search for a needle with an eye large enough to facilitate my darning-based rescue efforts, I opened the needlework kit that was shoved into the back of the craft closet for the first time in, maybe, ten years?  I didn't immediately find a needle - but I did take note of an unfinished needlepoint canvas, six large pieces of cross-stitch fabric and beacoups of yarn and embroidery floss.

I resolved to pick up needlework again, as soon as I procured an appropriate needle.

I "fixed" the unraveling throw blanket with a couple of messy knots.  (Meh, it's not like we're fancy around here.)

And then, as I started packing up the needlework kit . . . I found a needle.  So I began to stitch.

I'm still stitching.  Working on a Christmas gift and a baby gift, with other projects in the on-deck circle.   And thinking that "Culturally Mormon(ish)" is morphing into "Culturally Amish(ish)."

Culturally Mormon(ish): Church Lady

Huh.  Two Dana Carvey-related posts, almost in a row.

Everything old is new again.

Spent my first week post-Facebook making robots out of recyclables.

Lots of robots.

32 of them, to be precise.

They were part of the room décor for First Methodist's "Workshop of Wonders" VBS.  I also made:

32 copies of this door poster:

32 "Scan Your Hand Here" signs (also for classroom doors);

Several hundred W.O.W.-related photo props:

Hanging LEGOs like these (mine were more 3D):

along with hanging Tinker Toys (made from pool noodles and white Styrofoam plates); and

Giant pool noodle pencils and countless cardstock gears and paper airplanes:

Favorite VBS-related things that I have made?  Probably these guys (teacher's aide in a kindergarten classroom and fourth grade camper, respectively):

The fourth-grader is looking (1) ridiculously like his maternal grandfather in this picture and (2) also somewhat sour, because evidently making him pose for this photo caused him to drop a pepperoni roll on the pavement.  (We got him another pepperoni roll, and tossed the original one behind a bush for the birds to enjoy.  All's well that ends well.)

All total this summer, I have spent:

1)  Approximately 40 hours on VBS exec board-related stuff;

2) Another 40-plus hours as a member of the youth minister search team; and

3) One memorable evening making sliders for the middle school youth mission trip (and almost catching the oven on fire in the newly renovated Justin youth building - long story).

During this time period, I have maybe stepped foot in the sanctuary three times?  But I think that, under the circumstances, I am excused.

Not bad for a former "Christmas-and-Easter-only" Catholic with a deep-seated skepticism about organized religion?  If, twelve years ago, you would have told me that I would have first-name privileges with the senior staff of a Protestant church, OF WHICH I WAS A MEMBER, I would have laughed.  Or checked you for a fever.

Me as a church lady.  Isn't that special.

Culturally Mormon(ish): It's a Dry Happy

I went to happy hour and didn't drink (well, I drank - one club soda with lime, one San Pellegrino - I just didn't drink-drink). 

And I enjoyed myself.

Because I am a perverse person, I have to say that I enjoyed the reactions of my friends almost as much as I enjoyed their company.

"So . . . no drinking, at all?"

"I mean, I'm not saying never.  I'm just not having anything today."

"But there's no reason?"

"Well, not an 'I'm an alcoholic' type of reason.  Or a liver-related one.  But, yeah, overall health.  That's a reason, right?  The fact is, I'm not an alcoholic.  I've always been able to stop drinking when I wanted to.  And I want to start taking advantage of that."

And then I ordered a happy-hour plate of caprese salad, hold the mozzarella, because that sounded better than requesting "a mound of tomato slices with a little basil, olive oil and vinegar."  Waitress still gave me an odd look, and my friends looked even more confused.

"Want a shrimp?"

"No, thank you."

"They're good."

"They look good.  And you are sweet to offer.  But I'm only eating veggies today.  And, to anticipate your next question, no, I'm really not a pod person.  I'm me - just a trying-to-be-healthier me."

For those scoring at home, I did have a drink later that week.  Two, actually - on National Tequila Day.  True to my original threat, I was "that" girl and asked for an on-the-rocks margarita, made with fresh lime juice and no mix.  The bartender at the country club's poolside bar had zero issue with my request and handed me the tastiest marg that I have ever consumed on the premises.  Huh.  All of this time . . . and so many borderline-palatable mix-based margaritas consumed, when I could have been drinking tasty fresh ones instead.  Live and learn.

I think I am evolving towards a "once a week" rule.  Had a margarita on Thursday?  Don't have another alcoholic beverage until (at least) next Thursday.  Attended a birthday party and had a cupcake on Saturday?  Absolute prohibition on sweets until next Saturday, up for negotiation after that.

But I will continue to be social on the in-between days.  And probably continue to confuse the heck out of people in the process.

Culturally Mormon(ish): Choppin' Broccoli

So the astute among you probably identified the chopped food above as non-broccoloid in nature.

Kudos to you.

(What you are looking at is onion and baby bella mushrooms.  But Dana Carvey never sang about "choppin' onion and mushrooms," so - yeah.

Link to Dana Carvey singing about "choppin' broccoli" here.)

Contemporaneously with my clean(er)-drinking kick, I switched to clean(er)-eating mode.  The goal, as always, is to get the entire fam on board (I'll let you know when/if I ever get there), but there isn't a snowball's chance in Hades of a program catching on around here unless Mom gets on it first.  So days 1 through 10:  juice and smoothies.  Lots of healthy veggies and fruits with other healthy stuff (Greek yogurt, flaxseed and coconut oil, spirulina and chorella) mixed in.  Never felt hungry, lost 12 pounds.

Now I'm back on solid foods, which meant spending a good bit of my Saturday morning choppin' - not unlike a certain lady that Dana Carvey knows.  (And if he didn't know her?  She'd be the lady that he didn't know.  But I digress.)

Made several kinds of couscous and eggplant moussaka (ready to tote to work for lunches), a chicken, mushroom, onion and guajillo pepper taco filling and my new favorite dish - chicken Abruzzi.  Had it at Olive Garden and was overjoyed to find a copycat recipe online (see it here). 

Here is a more artistic photo of it from the Web site:

And here is what it looks like when I make it. 

My version had less kale.  Reasons?  (1) Spouse?  Not a kale fan.  (2) After my ten-day juice-and-smoothie cleanse, I'm up to my eyeballs in the stuff.  (Little Kid remarked that "it's just been a kalestorm around here lately," which I thought was a pretty good pun coming from a nine year-old.)

But, ingredient ratios aside, you've got kale, zucchini, red bell pepper and cannellini beans in a thyme-scented broth with sliced grilled chicken on top.  Olive Garden serves theirs with lemon, and to me, the lemon is key (hence the half of a fruit plopped on top of the dish in the photo above).  Squeeze a large quantity of juice into the broth, and then prepare to overload on freshness.  SOOOO good.

More healthy recipes are on my "Healthy Lifestyle" Pinterest page.  I'm commenting on the ones that I make as I go.  Lots more to try . . . .

Ain't That a Kick In the . . . Stomach?

I've been having tummy troubles.  The last couple of days have been less than pleasant.  But I am improving.  For starters, I am no longer praying to die.  I take that as a very good sign.  Also: I had my first food craving, followed by my second.  Food cravings are a good sign that your stomach has decided to rally?

My first craving hit at 2 am this morning.  By midnight, I had managed to string together three "sleeps" - two hours, then another two hours, and then four - and since (even when sick) I have trouble staying down for more than eight hours at a clip, I was wide awake during the 12-to-2 slot.  So I watched Sarah Silverman's "We Are Miracles" and got caught up on "So You Think You Can Dance," and, as I was thinking about drifting back to sleep, I had a highly specific craving for - fried chicken.  Which is totally weird, because I don't actually like fried chicken.  I decided to ignore this first craving and wait for one involving avocados.  I always crave avocados after anything stomach-related.  I think it's a replenishment-of-potassium thing.

Sure enough, about 10 am this morning:  Jersey Mike's #7 (turkey and provolone) sub on white bread (I never eat white bread, either, but what the hey?) with avocado, served "Mike's Way" (lettuce, tomato, oil and vinegar).  Spouse was heading to a client meeting and told me that he would be finished around 11:30 and would check on me at that point, and I told him to call first, because I was pretty sure that I would be calling in a sandwich order that he would need to pick up for me.

He did.  I did.  He did.  And it was just what the doctor ordered.  Feeling much more human.  And back to blogging.

The downside to getting off of Facebook?  I don't turn on my computer as much, for anything.  So I have a backlog of things to blogs to post.  But there's never a better time for playing catch-up than when you're bed-ridden, so I declare today Blog Catch-Up Day.

Olly, olly, oxen-free.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Culturally Mormon(ish): Achieving the Mormon Glow

Mormon(ish) Project #1: 

Skin.  Glorious skin.  Well, the promise of glorious skin.

Bye, bye, caffeinated and carbonated beverages.  Hello, water.  I had to add a couple of drops of Mio to the first glass, as a chemical additive step-down.  Thereafter:  pure water, with the occasional addition of cucumber, lime or mint.  One "cheat," several days in, but not an absolutely horrid one (a Route 44 diet green tea with mango and mint, so a little caffeine, and a little Splenda, but I justified the splurge on the basis that (a) Big Kid and I had just finished VBS decoration load-in/installation, (b) it was Sonic half-price happy hour and (c) requesting a free glass of water during half-price happy hour would defeat the purpose.

I kid you not:  48 hours later, not only had my skin started to take on a healthy glow, but my face had taken on different proportions.  Apparently, what I had mistaken for "fat face" was WATER WEIGHT.

Ick.  But, also, yay.

The night before VBS load-in, I decided to treat myself to the spa session mentioned in a previous post - as a back-pat for finishing all of my projects by a decent hour, and to see if I couldn't take my skin rebound to the next level.  In keeping with my newly Mormon-ish ways, I resolved to use only products that I already had at home and/or DIY stuff.

My regimen:  makeup removal; deep cleansing with exfoliation; mask application; pore-steaming (the old-fashioned way, with a really hot wash cloth); and moisturizing.  For the mask, I decided to follow a suggestion that I saw on Lauren Conrad's blog and add the contents of a probiotic capsule to Greek yogurt.  Reason:  I have been advised that I am a "yeast carrier" (ick, again) by:  my general practitioner; my mother (a day late and a dollar short - she has a tendency to forget to relate relevant childhood medical information until AFTER I learn about a condition on my own); and my aesthetician, who insists that the occasional bump on my chin is yeast lurking under the skin, not oil.  So, if there's yeast on or in my skin, why not apply the cure topically?

The result:  well, to be honest, a little redness and puffiness, but I don't think that this had so much to do with my mask choice as with the fact that, after steps one and two, I engaged Spouse in a conversation about Big Kid that morphed into me being a big, blubbery mess over what a sweet and thoughtful young man he has become, how alarming it is to think that he will be leaving us in four years, etc.  Today's tip:  don't sob and then put YOGURT (with or without added probiotic) on your irritated, tear-soaked face.  Your skin won't like it very much.

Thinking that I'll try it again when I'm feeling less emotional - or maybe limit application to Mount Yeast Ball when it makes yet another fabulous appearance on the right side of my chin?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Apropos of Not Much: Meandering Musings for a Monday (July 21st Edition)

Personal injury attorneys amuse me.

(Clarification:  some of their ads amuse me.)

Among my favorites:

1.  The Risperdal class action ad.  This is the one that tells you that if you or your son took Risperdal and have symptoms of gynomastia (development of female breast tissue), you may have a cause of action.  The ad then offers you a "discreet evaluation."  Disclaimer:  I am not in any way making light of (a) men with gynomastia issues (Risperdal-related or otherwise), or (b) anyone who may have been harmed by Risperdal.  That being said, every time I hear the "discreet evaluation" reference, my mind flashes to a stereotypical law office (lots of mahogany and walls of leather-spined statute books), wherein the following exchange occurs:

Attorney:  Ms. Jones, if you wouldn't mind closing the door on your way out, to allow the client and I to have some privacy?  [Door shuts.]  Now, if you could just lift your shirt a bit . . . .

[Male client lifts shirt.]

Attorney:  Yup, those are some tig ol' bitties.  Here's an engagement letter - just sign at the bottom.

2.  Any ad that informs you that, if something killed you, you should immediately contact the law firm running the advertisement, somehow overcoming in the process the significant logistical obstacle of being a dead person.  I am referring specifically to any ad that phrases the pitch as:

If you or a loved one suffered a seizure, OR EVEN DIED, you should contact the law firm of X.

No.  Just, no.

If you or a loved one suffered a seizure, OR your loved one DIED, you should contact the law firm of X.


Dead men tell no tales.  And they usually don't engage legal counsel.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Culturally Mormon(ish)

I'm fascinated by Mormons.  Specifically, I'm fascinated by:

LDS "mommy" and lifestyle bloggers; and

The LDS ballroom dancers on "So You Think You Can Dance."

(Highly scientific) conclusions (okay, based on casual observation of a sampling of less than 100 Mormons, of admittedly rather specific types, but, still):
  1. Mormons have flawless skin.  This is actually an acknowledged and accepted thing (referred to as the "Mormon glow").  (I want to have flawless skin!  Clarification:  I want to have flawless skin again.  I have always been blessed with unblemished skin, but lately it's looking older and tired-er than I would like.)
  2. Mormons like to get their DIY on.  And they are darned good at it.  (I like to get my DIY on!  And I'm darned good at it, too!)
  3. Mormons aren't perfect angels.  (They use words like "damn" and "crap" on their blogs!  I want to use those words on my blog - although I usually don't.  But I just did!)
So, after returning from our summer vacation several pounds heavier and looking decidedly un-Mormon in the facial area, I decided that I needed to kick added sugar and bread products to the curb, along with (at least temporarily) caffeine and alcohol.  I also returned from summer vacation to a mountain of Vacation Bible School-related projects (more on those in another post), necessitating several late nights in a row.  I vowed to treat myself with a spa night at the end of "VBS H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks Week," and for no particular reason (well, other than the fact that I'm cheap) decided to consult Pinterest and other sources for DIY scrubs and facial masks.  And then I got irritated with Facebook (more specifically, with people who think Facebook is all about them and actually go on record that no one should EVER post anything that they deem remotely offensive, annoying or not-interesting-enough).  So I got off Facebook.

For a few days, I thought of the foregoing in general terms as a full-body-and-mind detox.  And then, while I was watching a SYTYCD episode we missed while on vacay, it hit me:  all of my behavioral choices were decidedly Mormon.

I was drinking water and fruit juice, to the exclusion of Coke, coffee and wine.

I was putting lots of healthy, and homemade, food into my body.

I was taking care of the outside of my body, too - on the cheap, and DIY.

I was staying away from Facebook (which, let's face it, can be a bit of a mutual whine-fest) in favor of Instagram and Pinterest - Web sites which tend to be more about sharing beauty, and joy, and helpful information.

While on Facebook sabbatical, I was throwing my free time into crafting - FOR MY CHURCH.

So I announced to Spouse, apropos of nothing:

"I have decided to embrace secular Mormonism."

Then I self-corrected (and then some):

"Um, but not entirely.  I'm going to be more Mormon-ish.  Mormon-esque?  Is there such a thing as reform Mormonism?  Whatever.  I don't share their religious views - definitely still Methodist - but I want to adopt some of the more secular aspects of their culture, but I don't want to be married to them, either.  Like, I still may have caffeine or alcohol, but only occasionally, and I'll make smart choices like ordering a glass of red wine instead of a margarita.  Or, if I HAVE a margarita, I'll be one of those annoying people who asks if the margaritas are made with fresh lime juice instead of a mix."

Spouse gave me that look that says "you're morphing into that combination of Leslie Mann's character in 'This is 40' and Mindy Kaling's character in 'Mindy Project,' which really bugs the crud out of me."

I ignored him - and proceeded to the kitchen to make myself a healthy smoothie.

I'll be reporting on my progress in subsequent posts.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Two Reasons We Can't Have Nice Things (One Human, One Canine, Both Anti-Decorative-Accessory)

Come on down, Turquoise Chevron Throw!  You're the next contestant on "Little Kid Carelessly Shoves Stuff Off of the Couch That the Dorgi Dog Sleep-Chews a Hole In."  Of course, Little Kid proclaims zero knowledge of how you got on the floor.  Same stuff, different day (and different piece of home decor). 

At this point I don't think there's a throw pillow left in the house that has all four of its corners.  But that is about to change, because I have decided to turn YOU into two pillow covers.  Dorgi Dog was nice enough to chew a hole in your exact center, so I've got some yardage to work with.  While the sewing machine is out, I'm going to take the time to triage all of your throw pillow brethren.

I'm intent on salvaging you, because I really like you - a point that I drove home to the Little Kid:

"Do you know how long I searched to find a blanket that was just the right color, weight and fabric?  I WILL LIKELY NEVER FIND AN EXACT REPLACEMENT.  And, ironically enough, last night I saw a blanket that I almost liked as much - ALMOST - but I didn't buy it because I ALREADY HAD A BLANKET THAT I LIKED.  So now I have to go BACK to that store, when I could have taken care of business LAST NIGHT."

[Yeah, yeah.  Hashtag-firstworldproblems.  Reader, your reaction was probably the same as Little Kid's.  Eye roll much?]

The annoying thing, Turquoise Chevron Throw (yes, even more annoying than HAVING TO DRIVE BACK TO THE STORE - in a RAINSTORM, no less) was that when I logged on to the World Market Web site to see if they had anything similar to you, THERE YOU WERE, still in stock a year later.  So much for my "I'll never find this item again" speech.  I considered repurchasing you, but I decided that I kind of liked the idea of Throw Pillow You better.  So I bought this:

Well, not this - this is actually the Jonathan Adler version that I covet, but is no longer in stock, and even if it was, I would never buy it, because that would be the equivalent of shoving several hundred dollars down a wood chipper - or into the mouth of a small dachshund/corgi crossbreed, which is basically the same thing.  Instead, I got the Max Studio knock-off, which is sweater-knit, like this:

Sweater-knit intrigues me, because I have no idea what Ace the Batdog thinks about sweaters as a food source.  He has never attempted to ingest one, but that might be less of a no-motive thing and more of a no-opportunity thing.  So, kind of morbidly fascinated to find out how he will react if when Little Kid tosses Green Greek Key Throw his direction.

In my mind, I tell myself that all of the chewing will go away once we replace Little Kid's loft bed with bunks, making it physically possible for Dorgi Dog to sleep with Little Kid in the lower bunk and elevating his happiness quotient to amps-on-eleven.  Dorgi Dog LOVED napping with Little Kid on the old couch, which was low enough for Mister Stubby Legs to access.  The new couch is too tall for him to jump on - by design, because he ATE THE LAST COUCH.  Seriously, chewed the welting off of all of the back pillows.  So why, exactly, do I think that giving him access to LK's bed is a good thing?  Because (1) I am delusional, (2) I really do love both of them (home décor damage notwithstanding, they are both good eggs), (3) they REALLY love each other, and (4) seeing them happy together warms my heart.

And so it is that I have THIS on order:

A duvet cover that looks like chevron but is actually a repeating pattern of waves and shark maws!  For my shark-obsessed child's lower bunk!  And for my adorable-but-orally-fixated dog to tear to pieces!

Meh, it was on sale.  And did I mention that I really like seeing them happy? 

(Happy Little Kid + Happy Dorgi Dog) > Intact Textiles.