Saturday, October 31, 2009


Well, since our landlords specified that we do not have a dog, Caroline figured she'd just BE a dog, instead.

Meet Spike.

From what we've gathered, Spike is either a Muttweiler or a Labrador Muttriever. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is something about Spike's ears that reminds me of the dog in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Spike's not sure either.
Papers? Who needs papers?

Spike might not need AKC papers, but she sure does understand the importance of properly accessorizing. Any respectable dog of the female persuasion knows that a pink camouflaged collar is this season's "it" thing.

Spike sure does know how to rock the pouty look.

Here she is practicing her begging, er Trick or Treating skills.

Evidently fetch is Spike's favorite game because she sure did manage to snag a whole lot of candy.

Too bad chocolate isn't good for dogs!

It's a good thing Spike has two loyal owners who will help deplete the candy stash in her honor.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fears, Phobias, Freak Outs and Cookies

Guess I flunked the alliteration portion of Language Arts.

This morning, I strayed from my usual routine, which includes going to the gym after Caroline goes to school. Instead, I set my alarm for 5:45 (!), gave myself a good pep talk while trying to pry myself from my warm, cozy bed, drank some tea and drove to the gym in the dark.
When I arrived, the gym guy (I've been going there for 15 months and I still don't know his name) looked at me and said, "It's not 9am!?!"

No kidding.

I had to start my day so early for a number of reasons:

1. I needed to spend the morning icing and decorating pumpkin shaped sugar cookies for Caroline's class Harvest Celebration. They're not supposed to call it a party. I baked the cookies yesterday, but wanted to frost them without any "help." You know how helpful little helpers can be. Or not.

2. If I wanted to get some exercise in, I needed to be done and home by 8:15 so that I'd have time to fix Caroline's hair before she left for school. She can brush it fine, but doesn't care one iota about the rest. It's bad enough that she has been known to arrive at school with schmutz on her face more often than I'd care to admit; I have to draw the line on grooming skills somewhere. If she can't remove the milk mustache, the least I can do is make sure her hair isn't puffy, ratty, wild or askew. I try, anyway.

3. Besides my cookie decorating plans, I also could not go to the gym at my normal time because I'm trying to rest my injured hip and the lower back pain I somehow managed to acquire on Monday. I've put the kibosh on running and now Body Combat. I love punching and kicking the crap out of pretend people as much as the next girl, but I need to refrain from lots of jarring movements and impact, so that my aches and pains will go away. Class starts at 9:30 and if I'm in the building, there is no way I could resist joining in on the class, even though I know in my head I shouldn't.

And that is why I went to the gym so early. Not that you really care.

So, on my way there. In the dark. I noticed I had a couple of cuts on my fingers, which could most likely be attributed to our pumpkin carving extravaganza Wednesday night. Just yesterday Craig and I had an interesting conversation about MRSA and staph infections. Naturally, as I noticed my little, teeny tiny cuts, I decided that I should ask the gym counter guy for some band aids to insure that I didn't make my little owies susceptible to contracting some horrible gym disease.
On a side note, our gym has "community mats" which means that lots of people, with unknown hygiene practices, use the same mats. One of the instructors calls them "MRSA mats."
So, in an effort to not contract MRSA or staph through my teeny tiny cuts, I thought it would be wise to use band aids.

It was a good thought; too bad I didn't remember to ask the gym counter guy.

As I was on the elliptical, I remembered, but it was too late. I just tried to focus on not letting my fingers with the cuts in them come in contact with the gym equipment.

Easier said than done. I hope my fellow gym patrons didn't think I was flipping them off!

After my elliptical session, I washed my hands. Then washed them again after I used the Stairmaster and again after the rowing machine. And one final time, with an extra application of hand sanitizer for good measure, after finishing up with free weights.

All the while I was obsessing over the fact that I had cuts on my fingers. I day dreamed about antibiotics and horribly painful infections. Such motivating stuff!

Seriously, I fretted about MRSA the whole time.

The funny thing is, this is the ONLY time I've ever thought about it. I totally blame it on the conversation I had with Craig yesterday. I typically tend to under react to health epidemics such as MRSA and H1N1. I don't know why? You'd think an obsessive, neurotic person would be first in line to buy a bubble suit and never touch another human or inanimate object again.

Au contraire.
I'm a walking contradiction.

While we're on the topic of weird freak outs/phobias/fears, I have many.


Flying over large bodies of water

Public speaking

Dying a slow painful death

Running out of milk, bread, produce or diet coke

and the newest......

Staple guns

Yes, I'm afraid of the staple gun.

What if I shoot my eye out?

We have a staple gun that has stayed in the hermetically sealed plastic packaging for quite some time. We bought it in Georgia for a trampoline restoration project, but ended up just buying a replacement trampoline part. I wonder why we didn't return the staple gun?
Who knows? I probably threw away the receipt or something.

All I do know is that since the trampoline was fixed, I haven't been in a single situation in which a staple gun would have come in handy.

As it so happens, I'm in the process of putting together a Halloween costume for Caroline. In keeping with her animal theme (elephant, butterfly, lady bug, cat, Super Girl (?)), she is going to dress as a dog this year. Using a great suggestion from my dad (who knew he had Halloween costume constructing talents), I cut out floppy dog ears from cardboard and covered them with felt. All I need to do is staple the ears to a headband and the look will be complete.

We don't have a regular stapler, but we have a staple gun.
Yesterday I took it out, opened the package and loaded the staples.

And nearly 24 hours later, I haven't gone near it again.

I'm generally a tough chick. But this staple gun has me all spooked.

I'm sincerely fearful that if I squeeze the trigger, staples will come flying out, hit my eye and leave me blinded. Or that I'll shoot one in my foot or in the wall. Clearly I have limited comfort in my aiming ability.

Last night I put my glasses on and contemplated just doing it, but I chickened out.

I'm really baffled by this irrational fear. Like I said, I can be tough.

Craig is supposed to come home early tonight; maybe he'll step up and be the man I apparently cannot be.

Otherwise, the costume is almost complete. I couldn't find a PLAIN brown sweatsuit, so I bought black leggings and a black top and told Caroline she could be a black lab. We purchased a dog collar and leash and black mittens with brown spots on the insides to mimic the pads on a dog's foot. Oh....and I made a tail. I sewed! It ain't pretty up close, but it's a tail. We'll have to safety pin it to Caroline's pants, but, it's a tail. A tail *I* sewed.

We're still thinking through the application of spots on the clothing. Guess I'll have to think faster, Halloween is tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This past Sunday was a big day in the Smith family household. Craig ran in his first (and probably not his last) marathon.

The Marine Corps Marathon.

I'd say "oorah" or whatever the jar heads say, but in the Army the saying is "hooah." Not that Craig says hooah, or anything. That's reserved for hard core folks and infantry types. As he puts it, he's a simply a civilian in soldier's clothing. Nevertheless, he donned his Army running shirt and participated in an event he has been painstakingly training for. Lots of planning, lots of miles logged, lots of money spent on shoes and gear, and lots of wear and tear on an already worn and torn body.

In my very limited knowledge of marathon participation, if you're going to pay money to torture yourself run 26.2 miles, THIS is the marathon to sign up for. With over 20,000 runners and 100,000+ spectators, the Marine Corps Marathon puts on quite a show. And, not to mention, with the national monuments in the Federal City as your backdrop, how could you resist?

Well, I'm sure I could think of many reasons to resist, but for those with their eyes fixated on the marathon prize, the Marine Corps Marathon is the place to be.

Just like the Army 10 Miler three weeks ago, Caroline and I stepped into our official cheerleading roles, minus the short skirts and pom poms, and took the metro down to DC. Or is it up? I don't know. Yep, it's up, I think we're south of DC. Oh, who cares....

What did kids do before the Nintendo DS to keep them occupied?

Pretty Day

Our stylish H1N1 infested ride

First stop: Smithsonian Metro Station


I changed my mind mid ride and we got off at the Arlington Cemetery station instead. This eliminated a whole lot of walking. When you have a 7 1/2 year old, there is a whole lot less whining when there is less walking involved. Although, I must say that Caroline was quite the well behaved trooper the whole day.

We walked across the Memorial Bridge and found a huge gathering of spectators behind the Lincoln Memorial. Craig consistently ran with the 3 hour 30 minute pace group, which happens to be a VERY LARGE group, so we weren't sure if we'd be able to spot him in the crowd. He wore a grey shirt and black shorts, hardly easily identifiable clothing in a large group. We did see an older runner wearing neon pink shorts, a man in a cow suit and a man running in a kilt. When Caroline spotted that she yelled, "there's a man in a skirt. There's a man in a skirt!"

Thankfully we arrived in time to see Craig run by the 10 mile marker. We waved furiously, but he didn't see us.

After our first Craig sighting, we crossed the street and sat on a street located on the side of the Lincoln Memorial, to catch him on the 16th mile.

We waited.

And waited some more.

I had the camera ready. And, for the record, it's really hard to have your camera ready when you have no idea when your runner will appear. Thankfully we used the neon shorts guy, cow suit guy and skirt wearing guy as reference points. Still, it's hard to catch them at the right time.

Oh, there he is!
Can you see him? He's in front of the guy in red.

Craig saw us, we saw him, then it was off to the 19 mile marker down by the Smithsonian.

Time to walk.

Caroline pondering the depth of the reflecting pool/duck pond.

Me looking rather windblown with the Lincoln Memorial in the background.

Note to self: Get a hair cut.

Here's Craig around mile 19. Again, my camera wasn't ready. I was too busy yapping with the lady next to me who was cheering on her son.

But still, we saw him, he saw us and I asked him the dumbest question ever, "Are you ok?" Like anyone is "ok" on the 19th mile of a marathon. He said he was fine; he didn't look defeated or rundown or on the brink of death, so I took that as a good sign.

We had originally planned to see him at four different stops, plus the finish line, but time was clearly of the essence and the crowds were not making travel very quick or efficient. Still, Caroline and I booked it to the Metro Station, intending to make it to

Crystal City.

Um, the Metro was PACKED. Like in a "aren't you glad you used Dial?" sort of way. And yes, I was glad that I was smelling like roses (sweet pea and violets in my case), just like our fellow Metro riders. Once I figured it would take us too long to get to Crystal City in time to see Craig at the 22nd or 23rd mile, we quickly changed our plans and decided to get off at the

Rosslyn stop, which is the Metro station nearest the finish line.

And this is where my pictures end.
Why? You might ask.

Not because I lost my camera or not because it ran out of batteries but because Caroline and I had to book it to the finish line. We walked through wet muddy grass, dodged runners who had already completed the race (Craig is fast, but not THAT fast!) and wound up at the finish line. Along with 8 zillion of our closest friends.

We couldn't see a thing.

We waited for a bit, hoping that if I stood on my tippy toes, I'd see the top of Craig's head, but no luck. After a long wait, staring at the backs of the heads of the people in front of me, I began to worry that either Craig sped up and finished earlier than expected OR he was hurt on the side of the road. Not long after, I saw a man dressed as a devil, with his bald head painted red and adorned with two little devil ears. Knowing that I hadn't seen the devil dude before, I figured that Craig had finished already.

So, Caroline and I trudged through the mud again, back to where we started.
And we waited.
And waited.
And waited some more.

We looked for Craig, but there were SO many people there. Unfortunately we hadn't devised a meet up plan, so I was clearly winging it. After a while, I called Craig's phone, which I figured he had with his personal belongings being held by the event staff. I left him a message saying that we were waiting for him in the Family Meet Up Area by the big "S" sign. "S" for Smith, of course.

He didn't respond for a while and I was getting worried. Eventually, Caroline cried out, "mom, your pants are ringing" so I grabbed my phone.

As it so happens, Craig's phone was not with his belongings.

Instead, his phone was here:

In his car.
At the Metro station by our house.

And guess what?
So was Craig!

In his car.
At the Metro station by our house.

That's right. HE LEFT US!

He left us, waiting for him for almost two hours. He "claims" he couldn't find us, was (justifiably) deliriously tired and sore and he left us.


Defeated and ever so slightly annoyed, Caroline and I stopped inside a deli and grabbed a quick sandwich before joining 7 zillion of our closest friends on the Metro to head home.

I'm bummed that I didn't get a picture of Craig post race wearing the really awesome medal they award Marine Corps Marathon finishers. But still, he did really well.
As a first time marathoner, carrying the baggage of two knee surgeries and various other over use injuries, Craig ran the course in 3:35:41.

To top off the great effort, he did what he hoped to do: beat the DC Mayor, Adrian Fenty's time.

In previous races, namely the Army 10 miler, Craig has come close to the mayor's time, but hasn't beaten him. It's a small internal goal, but to find out that hewas faster than the mayor, was just icing on the cake.

I'm really proud of this huge accomplishment. As expected, Craig is a wee bit sore and slow, but he's feeling better every day.

And yes, I've forgiven him for LEAVING US!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tales From the Cigarette Counter *UPDATED*

Don't you find it annoying that dishonest people ruin things for honest people? This is a silly rant, but I've been hopelessly searching the recesses of my brain for blog fodder and I'm just going to go with it.
Craig uses a very specific type of razor blade: Gillette Mach3 Turbo. They're expensive, but they work well and he makes an 8 pack last about 8 weeks. Being clean shaven is a requirement for those who wear a military uniform, and for those with discerning tastes (cough...Alison...cough) so it's not like there is much choice in the matter. Yesterday I was made aware that a new package of razor blades was required. Since Craig failed to give me fair warning (or perhaps my razor blade replacement intuition is beginning to fizzle) he was forced to either use an older blade yesterday , or he may have used one of my disposables. I don't know, I forgot to ask. Anyway, since I'm playing hooky from the gym this morning due to the fact that I'm beginning to fall apart in my old age, I paid a visit to the commissary for a few items, including those heavily needed razor blades.

I like to buy them at the commissary because they're cheaper than any other place; cheap is my love language, in case you were wondering. I also buy them there because Wal Mart keeps them locked up in a cabinet, presumably because dishonest people steal them, and it's darn near impossible to find an associate to unlock the cabinet. I like the razor blade aisle as much as the next person, but I really do have more interesting things to do with my day (well, maybe) than stand in the aisle, staring at shaving cream bottles wondering why there are so many choices, all the while waiting for a less than enthusiastic Wal Mart worker to attend to my razor blade needs. I may have a pitiful social calendar, with gaping holes between scheduled events, but even I have limits on how I'd like to spend my time.

So off to the commiscary I went. First stop: razor blade aisle. And there next to the packages of cheapy disposables was a sign. A sign that told me to go to the cigarette counter to ask for razors (because that makes PERFECT sense) if I didn't see my brand of choice "stock" in the aisle. Clearly, possessing the skill of proper sentence structure and verb tense is optional for the sign makers at the commissary. Knowing full well that they must have experienced a lot of razor theft, I trudged to the cigarette/refund counter to get the razors. After waiting ten minutes for the slowest man in the world to receive a refund for Dr. Scholl's insoles from the slowest commissary worker ever, I asked the lady for Gillette Mach3 Turbo razor blades. She looked at me, slightly puzzled, and had me write the brand down. As it so happens, they don't carry them AT the cigarette counter; she had to use her walkie talkie to contact "M14" whoever that is. Only M14 didn't reply for a very. long. time. Seriously, I waited at least 15 minutes for M14. When M14 arrived with regular Mach 3 blades, I nicely asked if they happened to have Turbo, since, you know, that's what I asked for. He said no. They had Fusion, but not Turbo. M14 wasn't very happy when I told him that I didn't want the regular ones. It's only fair; I wasn't happy that I had to wait 25 minutes for razor blades. Besides, Craig likes Turbo, and if Craig wants Turbo, he'll get Turbo. After all, I make it my life's mission to make sure Craig gets EVERYTHING he wants. Um, I think my nose just grew a little. Trust me, if you've never seen my nose in person, this is not a good thing. I have very little growth room left before I reach freak show status. "Mommy look at that lady's pointy nose." "It's scary."

I've grown somewhat accostomed to people looking at me and then asking "Are you Greek or Italian?" And yet, I still find that question less than amusing.


I just find it so annoying that honest people are punished because a bunch of losers out there steal razor blades. I understand that stores need to protect themselves from theft; I really do. I just wish that people were more trustworthy. Not just because it's the right thing to do, but mostly because I seriously despise being inconvenienced. And it is, after all, all about me.

After my encounter with M14, I quickly grabbed the rest of the items on my list. Despite the commissary's failure to stock the razors I needed, they did have honeycrisp apples for $1.50/lb. Trust me, that's a steal. Normally they're at least $2.49 a pound. And worth every penny.

After I used the self checkout and yelled at the talking computer lady because she wouldn't accept my coupon, I stopped next door at the PX and bought Craig his razors. They were not locked up. The type I wanted was fully stocked. I did not have to wait 25 minutes.

I just love a happy ending.

UPDATE: Mere minutes after I hit the "publish post" button, Craig came traipsing through the door. Well, he traipsed just as well as someone who ran a marathon two days ago could possibly traipse. But anyway, I told him that I bought him his blasted razors. And then, he said "oh, I meant to tell you not to buy any razors because the disposable I used yesterday was awesome."
The disposable, the pink one he scoffed at upon my suggestion that he use, was awesome.


I spent 25 minutes of my life, 25 minutes I'll never get back, waiting at the cigarette counter for Gillette Mach3 Turbo razor blades. A LONG, futile wait.

The disposable was awesome.


Craig is going to test the longevity of the disposable before making any permanent razor blade decisions. No need to make hasty decisions when the smoothness of one's face is concerned.

And HE WILL use the razors I bought.

Oh yes, he will.

I'll make sure of it.


Friday, October 23, 2009


I've been stewing about something for a week; something I read on another person's blog. By nature, I'm not one to react too quickly. I read or hear something and then take a few minutes (or a week) to soak it all in and think about it. I find that if I speak to quickly, I end up regretting it. Therefore, I take my time. It's been a week since I read that ire inspiring blog entry and a week later, I'm still on fiiiiire about it. I'm definitely the recipient of the hot headed Italian gene and while I stated above that I don't react too quickly, it's safe to say that the thoughts inside my head, while stewing all week, have not been kind.

The thing is, the blog author, the one that set me on fiiiiire, is 16! A child. An eager, zealous, God fearing, Christ loving teenager. I won't link back to her blog because I truly believe that she's well intentioned, however, she's completely brain washed and has been force fed some sort of Patriocentric, legalistic goo that has completely distorted her thinking.

I don't mean to sound harsh (although that sort of did); like I said, she's very earnest, sweet and well meaning. She just simply doesn't get it. She's caught up in this thinking that young girls should not go to college, should stay home and remain under the care and protection of her father until the day she marries. I don't begrudge her the right to believe this or to put it into practice in her own life. What fired me up so much is her assertion that since God told Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply" that we are all called to have copious amounts of children. And if we don't, we're egregious sinners, brainwashed by raging feminists, who are guilty of "rejecting children" and having "disdain" for them.

That's what she said.



Those who limit family size, reject children and have disdain for them. Of course she offered the caveat that some women are unable to have children and other women are called to remain single, but if you don't fall into either of these categories, you're sinning if you do not fulfill your God given role to fill your quiver with many arrows.

Now, this is a sensitive subject for me because I do carry around a tremendous amount of only-by-choice guilt. There isn't a day that goes by that Caroline doesn't ask or wish for a baby brother or sister. Craig would be happy to have another child, but has kindly left the finality of that decision up to me because it's a choice that would change my life the most. And to top it off, I have a friend, who so desperately wants a child and as of yet, cannot have one. I hesitate to write about this because I do not want her to feel badly. But, the truth is, I feel complete with one child. In theory, a large family would be nice; for family holiday celebrations; for the prospect of having lots of grandchildren later on. But, if I don't feel the pull or the desire to have more, why should I? I like having an only. It's easy. Caroline is the queen and that suits her (and me) just fine.
With that being said, maybe I am sinning. I'm certainly guilty of being selfish; in all areas of my life, not just this one. But I would argue that having another baby to please others, when I'm not firmly committed to the idea, wouldn't be so great for the baby.

I'm certainly not a biblical scholar, so I enlisted the help of my pal, Google, and did a little research. From what I found online, it's hard to find evidence that limiting family size is sinful. Obviously Catholics and hyper-fundamentalists would disagree, given their stance on birth control and letting God decide family size. I personally think that husbands and wives should have as many children as they want. Be it none, one or twelve. I simply do not care. I do not begrudge anyone the right to have many arrows in their quiver and also wouldn't dream of suggesting that parents of one, two or three children are child "rejectors" or full of "disdain" for children.

It's ridiculous that a 16 year old would suggest such a thing. She's 16! I've been married for nearly as long as she has been alive. She has a glamorized view of marriage, submission and child rearing. It can all be wonderfully fulfilling, but life isn't a fairy tale. Real life is, well, REAL; she just doesn't have the benefit of life experience under her belt to warrant her the right to judge my intentions and life choices.
When she's married, I hope she is the mother of many, as that's what she clearly wants. At the same time, I hope she'll open her eyes up to the fact that not everyone subscribes to the same legalistic thinking she professes. And that those who do not are not any more sinful than the next person.
I don't wear dresses. I do not home school my child. I cut my hair and expose my knees. I'm not meek, mild, gentle mannered. I'm not always a submissive or attentive wife.
But, you know what? God loves me just the same. We're ALL egregious sinners. Broken and dirty. Thankfully by his grace and grace alone, we're set free. God loves me and my jeans and New Balance running shoes as much as he loves that blog author and her feminine dresses and long hair.

I tried to write a comment on her blog, to refute her assumptions that I'm a child rejector, but I had a hard time writing something kind. There goes that hot headed Italian temper again. I just wanted her to see that even though I have an only, I'm still a committed mom. If I rejected my child or harbored great disdain for her, I wouldn't volunteer at her school every week. I would not have lost my voice on Tuesday at Field Day while trying to get kids to throw the rubber chicken into the burlap sack. I wouldn't have baked cupcakes for our neighbor's 11th birthday. If I rejected children I wouldn't welcome the neighborhood into my home, feed them snacks, take them to the pool, talk to them about their lives and then clean up the messes they've made. If I had disdain for my child, I wouldn't read with her at night, makes sure she eats nutritious foods, encourage her in her schoolwork and sit through very cold soccer practices. If I didn't care about Caroline I wouldn't take the time to instill the importance of obedience, kindness and good attitude in her.
As I see it, God doesn't look more favorably upon Michelle Duggar than me because she's pregnant with her 19th baby and I only have one. He loves us all the same.

I know I'm stubborn. Maybe I am refusing to see the truth. But I have a hard time believing that God frowns upon small families. I guess I figure that if God wanted me to have more children, it would have been done already. He's bigger than birth control and if it were in his plan that we have many kids, it probably would have happened by now.


Thanks for listening.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Complaints Between Timer Beeps

I'm baking a massive amount of pumpkin cookies right now; I'll try to blog something, as I get up every 12 minutes, to pull a batch out of the oven. Tomorrow is Caroline's schools "Croctoberfest" celebration (the school's mascot is a crocodile, in case you were wondering) and I've volunteered to donate baked goods for the bake sale. Well, duh...that's certainly not an unexpected piece of news, if you know me well. I'm making iced pumpkin cookies and outrageous oreo brownies.

I talk a lot about baking on this blog, but I can't really help it. I just enjoy it so much and am happy to have found a hobby that others appreciate as well. Sadly, knowing that I have something to bake is the highlight of my day. With a life filled with daily routine, which offers very little in the variance department, it's nice to have a fun task to look forward to. Something to keep my hands busy. Sure I have plenty of tasks on my daily to-do list that I *could* look forward to, but I have a hard time considering tackingling piles of laundry, retrieving used dental floss from everywhere BUT the garbage can and sweepimg up wayward Grape Nuts as events which offer great excitement and/or contentment. I enjoy my low key lifestyle, but even introverted homebodies can feel bored and isolated sometimes.

It's been one of those weeks, I guess. The kind of week where I feel bored and restless; where I find myself wondering if I'll ever have a real life friend again. To fulfill my chatterbox tendencies, I talk to people at the gym and after school, but for the most part I stay to myself. 95% of the time I'm totally and completely happy with this; but every so often I even start to annoy myself.

But, you know, I'm not a very good friend. I'm a decent conversationalist, but I'm horrible at keeping in touch. I think about people very often, I just can't seem to do anything about it. Maybe I'm doing others a favor by keeping to myself. Besides, no one wants to deal with my neurotic tendencies. Just like Craig; he humors me, but probably thinks I fell off a crazy truck and landed right at his feet for the sole purpose of adding a little, um, interest to his life.

It's just been a restless few days for me; I'm itching to shop, but don't really have anything to shop for. There is something about the fall season that gets me in the mood for some hardcore recreational shopping. Maybe it's because I know the holidays are quickly approaching? Actually, I have been shopping a lot lately, but for necessary items, not fun stuff (read: nothing for ME). It seems that every time I turn around, money is required in one form or another.
I try to practice some self control and make it a habit to remind myself of my disdain for clutter before rushing out the door to buy more junk solely for the sake of buying more junk.

Sheesh, I must have mixed a spoonful of cranky into my oatmeal this morning. Otherwise, I'm not sure I have an acceptable excuse as to why I'm feeling so obnoxiously whiny today. Like I said, it's been one of those weeks.

If it weren't for the fact that I have 48 cookies waiting to be iced, sprinkled and wrapped up (in baggies and ribbon with candy corn on it!) and brownie ingredients patiently waiting to be morphed into something truly outrageous, I'd happily close my eyes and take a nap. I got up early this morning to run before Caroline went to school. The weather is much milder this week compared to last week's freezing rainy days, so I took advantage of a rather balmy fall morning to get out and move my legs. The only problem is that I hurt my IT band last week and while I thought six days without running would be enough to heal the problem, I was wrong. I'm hobbling around right now and sad that I'll have to take more time off to allow for my body to heal.
Maybe that's why I'm so cranky.

Between hip pain, my concerns for Craig's physical ailments and the impact they'll have on the marathon he's running on Sunday, I'm feeling a bit fretful, uneasy, concerned. Eep.

OK, enough griping. I do apologize for being such a Debbie Downer.
Hopefully I'll wake tomorrow with a better attitude.

Until then....hopefully the brownies I'm off to bake will produce such a lovely aroma that I won't be able to keep myself from smiling any longer.

Behold the power of the baked good.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend Update

And other tales of a very! boring! weekend!

Not sure what those exclamation points are about; I just felt like emphasizing the very boringness of our weekend.
It rained. And rained some more.
I happen to enjoy rainy days, so this didn't bother me much. It was, however, nice to see the sun this morning. And, not to mention, temperatures over the 50 degree mark. I'm not quite ready to kiss fall goodbye. Winter can take it's time, for all I care.

Due to the rain, soccer was cancelled on Saturday. Craig arrived home from his concert pretty late Friday night (Saturday morning) but I managed to sneak out and partake in my Saturday morning beating at the gym. The more I take the class, the less of a beating it is, so I guess that means my endurance and stamina are increasing. That's a good thing. However, the top of my IT band (or hip?) did take a beating in class and I've been a little tight and limpy on the left side ever since. I used the elliptical this morning to take a break from running and allow my hurt to heal. I'm not a big fan of the elliptical. It's a passable form of exercise, but kind of boring. Also, with my extraordinary good luck, I managed to hop on a machine located next to a stinky guy. I realize it's unreasonable of me to expect gym members to come in smelling rosy, but you know, there are certain measures you can take to make sure you don't gross out your fellow exercisers. Or, maybe that's just me.
All I know is that the guy was stanky. To top it off, he text messaged and piddled with his ipod the whole time. What's the point? If you aren't going to put an effort into your workout, you should stay home. And shower.
At our gym in Georgia, I remember a young girl (age 16 or so) walking on the upstairs track at a snail's pace, talking on the phone and drinking a Coke. Obviously it would be unreasonable for me to expect everyone to take exercise as seriously as I do, but come on. Coke at the gym!?


The remainder of Saturday involved Caroline and her friends constructing the world's largest fort in our living room. I thought about taking a picture, but truthfully, I couldn't bare to look at the disaster head on. It wasn't the blankets and chairs that bothered me; it was the scraps of paper strewn about, crayons in piles on the floor(instead of in their designated 'crayon bucket'), stickers stuck to my fake ficus tree and all of my decorative items rearranged. Despite the forts ability to kick my neurotic, neat freakish ways in to overdrive, the kids had fun.
Once the mess was cleaned up (and I was able to breathe easily) Caroline grabbed her sleeping bag and headed off to the neighbor's house for a birthday/slumber party.
And would you care to fashion a guess as to what Craig and I did on our child free night. Well, if you guessed ate eggs for dinner, watched college football and fall sleep around 10 then you're the winner.
It's sad, but true. However, we live a life of lowered expectations, so it was actually a fine evening.

Sunday involved a trip to the commissary and more tent building.

And pot pie for dinner.

And there you have the the rundown of a very uninspiring weekend.

Hopefully I'll have something more interesting to blog about soon. I actually have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow: Field Day at Caroline's school, a trip to Trader Joe's and Target and baking a German Chocolate Cake for Craig's co worker's birthday.
Maybe something exciting will happen.
You never know....

But, don't hold your breath.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hells Bells

Nah, I'm not cursing. You know I'd NEVER do that.
Nope. Never. My mouth and vocabulary are as pure as the wind driven snow.

Hells Bells is simply a randomly picked song from the list of AC/DC's greatest hits. Not because I'm a metal head, but because Craig is going to an AC/DC concert tonight. Wha?!? You might be thinking. That's what I said when he told me.
Craig is a music aficionado. Old rock, new rock, 80's music, 90's grunge rock, old school rap and hip hop and whatever he finds on my pink ipod of music awesomeness, However, in the 14 years that I've known him, he has never once expressed interest in attending a concert. Not that it matters any; I was just taken aback by his sudden desire to attend this event.
As it so happens, Craig's friend, and fellow classic metal/rock lover, was the recipient of an early Christmas present: tickets to the AC/DC concert. And Craig, always looking to have a good time while simultaneously subjecting himself to the possibility of bursting an eardrum or two, thought it'd be a rad idea to join him.

I like music, too, even some good old fashioned, head banging rock and roll. And yet, AC/DC is not high on my list of favorite bands. Our Body Pump shoulder track song is to Hinder's cover of Thunderstruck, and that's somewhat enjoyable. I also remember a song from step class that mixed together My Humps by the Black Eyed Peas and You Shook Me All Night Long and that was all kinds of awesome. I don't know, though. I think there is something very creepy and unsettling about watching aging rock stars living and touring like they're still young and hip. Can the guys from the band stand up for a whole set? They're all old. What if their arthritis impedes their guitar playing and microphone holding? I feel the same way about the Rolling Stones. Oh, and Aerosmith. Time to pack up your peacocking ways Mick and Steven.
Oh, and you too Ozzy. He's pretty awesome, I admit, but yikes. Maybe they should build a Assisted Living Center for Aging Rock Stars somewhere in Beverly Hills. They can share stories from the past and receive special medication to undo whatever harm they've done to their livers, lungs and vocal cords.

So while Craig is out sowing what is left of his wild oats, Caroline and I will be shopping for birthday presents for the slumber party she's attending tomorrow evening and for some of the components to her Halloween costume. Caroline wants to be a dog and I need to make dog ears. I'm trying to remain positive, but I have a feeling I'll muck it up big time. Sewing is a skill that I do not possess. Nevertheless, in the words of the estimable Tim Gunn, I'll make it work.

Speaking of making things work, I had a light bulb moment yesterday and was able to repurpose an old framed print and create a new picture for my bedroom. I've been itching to mix things up lately and have been bothered by a blank wall in our bedroom. I knew I wanted something there to fill the void, but didn't really want to spend any extra money. Yesterday, I put on my thinking cap and went "shopping" around my house. I have this huge tub in my garage that houses decorative items that I don't use, probably will never use and should give away, but am afraid I might find a need for someday. In the tub I found a small 8 x 10 picture of a lamp with some French words under it. Perhaps the French word for lamp? My brilliant description is not doing it any justice, so just go with me here. It's color and simple design would fit beautifully in my room, but I didn't have an appropriate frame. Well, I had an 8 x 10 frame, but for the space, I needed something bigger. It's all about scale.
I decided to use a print that I had hanging in our hallway that really just kind of bugged me. It didn't fit; it was just there. The only problem was that the mat had a blue strip that framed the print and the blue simply wouldn't go. Would you care to guess what I did with the blue stripe. Well, I grabbed my trusty Sharpie marker and colored over the blue. I know that sounds totally cheapskate and trashy, but it worked. The next problem I encountered was the wrong color frame. To remedy that, I hopped in the car and booked it to Wal Mart for a bottle of black paint.

I painted the frame, matted an old picture I found deep in the recesses of my garage and had a new-to-me picture for our bedroom. All for $1.97--the cost of the paint.

Yay for repurposing.

And so this concludes the most random post I've probably ever composed.

Tomorrow, I might tell you why I have a feeling God is going to smite me someday soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Neighbor of the Year

I'm just so awesome sometimes.

And modest!

Actually, if you know me at all, you'd be well aware of my humility. It's kind of strange, though. I like to make people happy (stop rolling your eyes, Craig!); I want to know when I've done something that others like, but I don't feed off of praise. I don't need words of affirmation or a pat on the back; praise makes me feel more awkward than usual. I do, however, expect those around me to inconspicuously make themselves aware of my awesomeness, quietly comment to themselves about level of awesomeness I've obtained and, most importantly, never criticize my lack of awesomeness, even when it's abundantly clear, to me and to others.

I suppose it's safe to say that I live in a strange little bubble. A bubble where I am too hard on myself and hope that people will like me, but fully expect them to think I'm the obnoxious twerpy whiner I've portrayed myself to be on this blog. It's alright if they think bad things about me, but it's never kosher to verbalize those thoughts. Like I said, I reside in the ignorance is bliss bubble. Come on in, denile is a warm and welcome environment.

I have finer moments. And some really not fine moments.

Today was a day in which I had one of those finer moments. A moment in which I made the birthday dreams of a soon to be 11 year old come true.

Or something like that.

Or not at all.

It's not like I bought her a motorized scooter or an iPhone.

I merely helped her bake cupcakes to share with her class tomorrow.

Here's the thing: Sarah, the birthday-girl-to-be, and one of Caroline's best neighborhood buddies, wanted homemade cupcakes to bring to school tomorrow. The problem is that Sarah's mom doesn't like to bake. She just plain doesn't. That's ok. I have no beef with that. We can't all be like me, after all.
So, Sarah approached me on Monday with the idea of baking cupcakes at our house. Her mom would provide the ingredients and I would provide the want, desire, skill and Kitchen Aid mixer.
Knowing full well that she has soccer practice on Thursday evenings, I replied with a very non committal "sure" even though I figured it wouldn't happen due to her schedule.

And then the rain came. Cold, wet, field flooding, soccer unfriendly rain.

This afternoon I dropped Caroline off at her friend's house and as I walked in the door, Sarah's mom called and told me I was about to be accosted by an eager, baking loving 10 year old with a grand plan. I assured Cindy that I honestly didn't mind at all. I mean, really....I love to bake.
She apologized, told me the sad tale of her own personal baking disasters and I told her not to worry. Because this girl loves to bake. I haven't any marketable skills, I probably couldn't financially support Caroline on my own and I'm a college dropout, but dagnabbit, I can make cupcakes from a boxed cake mix.

So bake we did.

Cake mixes are fool proof, but I've learned from the Cake Mix Doctor that homemade frosting is a must. I tend to agree.
So, we baked the cupcakes and I sent Sarah home to do her homework, with plans to whip up the frosting after dinner; this also provided ample time for the butter to soften. Butter cream isn't butter cream without.....butter. Besides, Caroline would be very hurt and undoubtedly resentful if she was not included in the frosting portion of the cupcake baking process.

After dinner we dusted my entire kitchen with powdered sugar made butter cream, tinted orange, for a fall inspired cup cake. The four of us (Sarah's sister joined us), made quick work of the cupcakes. Because I always like to be prepared, I made extra frosting, and the girls and I did a good job licking the bowls clean. It's like the prize at the bottom of the cereal box.
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I'd like to think that this was a baking success.
The birthday girl is pleased and that's all that matters.

Well, that, but more importantly, now I'm like the most awesome neighbor EVER.

Yay me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And To Think She's "Gifted"

So Caroline was getting ready for her bath, and by getting ready I mean, standing in front of the tv in our bedroom, channel set to Disney, volume blaring to decibels uncomfortable to adult ears, staring mindlessly at the screen with mouth agape, all the while ignoring my demands of "get in the tub already" shouted at 30 second intervals, until a commercial comes on and she says "ok, ok, I'm getting in already" Easily distracted like her dad; stubborn, with a smidgen of sarcasm thrown in for emphasis, like me. Perfect combo.
Anyway, after I got Caroline to stop roller skating in the basement, she found her way upstairs to start the bath process and she yelled down to me, as I was unloading the dishwasher,

"hey mom, you finally put that soft thing on your bed."

And I replied, in my usual sarcastic manner gentle motherly tone ,

"you mean the BLANKET?"

"Oh yeah, that's what I meant" she said.

The good news is she could probably balance my checkbook better than I could. For that reason alone, I'll forgive the fact that she allowed the oh-so-difficult word "blanket" to escape from her vocabulary memory bank.

Silly girl.

Caroline makes life fun. And busy.
Today we made two different trips to two different dentists. The first stop was at the endodontist to have the teeth, with the fractured roots, evaluated. The good news is that the roots are healing as well as expected and six months post injury, it appears that she still won't need root canals. However, the endodontist noticed an iffy spot on the back of the tooth that was broken and built up with tooth colored composite. She suggested a trip to the regular dentist to have that evaluated.

The endo appointment was EARLY, so I dropped Caroline off at school, only five minutes late, believe it or not. Once I got home, I called the regular dentist. Worried that the spot might allow decay to seep in and create a painful situation, I wanted this taken care of ASAP. Surprisingly, they had an afternoon appointment open. I quickly said yes, all the while knowing that Caroline wouldn't be all that amused to be picked up early from school.

She wasn't. But she got over it.
Because it's not like she had a choice. Life is like that sometimes.

The doctor took five minutes to patch up the iffy spot and we were on our merry way. She said that in a year or so they'll completely redo the broken tooth to make it look more aesthetically pleasing, but for now, they don't want to irritate the healing root.

Thankful that this wasn't an occasion where fluoride was applied, therefore banning eating and drinking for 30 minutes, sweet talked her way into patronizing the McDonald's next door. I ordered a latte, but half way through I decided it was kind of gross. The first few sips were fine, so I'm not sure what happened. Caroline, on the other hand, was introduced to the deliciousness of the pumpkin milkshake. She was impressed. As she should be.

I'm happy to report that everything is going well on the health front. Caroline's teeth are in working order and she received the all clear from the pediatric Pulmonologist we visited this summer. I guess we can classify her two bouts of pneumonia in nine months as a medical mystery, especially since she's always been such a healthy kid. Caroline produced a clear chest xray a few weeks ago, which means she doesn't have any lung abnormalities, so who knows what went wrong. All I know is that I'm mucho paranoid that any fever she gets will signify another bout of pneumonia. To top it all off, this endless talk about the flu/H1N1/ DEATH/EPIDEMIC/PLAGUE has me all knotted up and yet, being the stubborn person that I am, I'm resistant to the Government's relentless insistence that we vaccinate. Vaccinate or DIE. It's hard to decipher between TRUE fear and concern for a REAL problem and government issued panic for the sake of getting people to comply to guidelines a select few have deemed important.

Great, now I sound like a conspiracy theorist.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Gourd-eous Day

Craig, Caroline and I took a wild ride on Sunday and visited the Cox Farm Fall Festival. We went for the first time last year and had so much fun that we thought it warranted a repeat visit. It's kind of pricey, especially on the weekends, but you get free apples and cider, which we forgot to partake in, and the scenery and all around family fun atmosphere is worth it--both cost and drive time.

Aside from lunch plans that went awry due to a Quizno's going out of business since we last visited (on the way to the festival last year) and a missed turn, we found lunch (eventually) and had a nice time. The weather was about fifteen degrees warmer than it was last year, which was quite welcomed. Fall is great, but a mild fall is far more comfortable than the chilly, wind that plagued our visit last year.

Big feet!

A boy in a cage asking the patrons if they had any bananas.
I didn't. But the gorilla didn't seem to care.

Cow pile!

Cow girl?

Piglets!!! Forget a puppy, I want a piglet for a pet.

A tired mama pig. With all her piglets (atleast 10) I don't blame her for taking a rest. I guess the old saying about being happy as a pig in slop rings true.

The Cornundrum corn maze.
Oooh, it sounds perplexing.

Debating which path to take.

Wait, are we in Florida? Whatever you do, don't ask this guy for directions.

There were lots of activities for kids.




Falling down.

Feeding goats.

A real smile from Caroline! It's hard to get her to smile naturally for the camera. I was happy to capture it, despite the off centeredness of the picture.

Big chairs.

We also ate pie, but the only decent picture I got of Caroline eating had Craig in the background with a mouth full of food. Not exactly a flattering shot for the internet. The three of us shared a piece of apple and a piece of pumpkin pie. I wanted a gigantic cupcake (no surprise there) but Caroline wanted pie. I didn't want to knew I shouldn't eat a whole cupcake, as they were seriously large, so I went with the crowd and ate some pie.
I like pie, but not as much as cupcakes.

That sentence reminds me of our little neighbor, Jonathan. If you ask him if he likes something he says, "yes....but not that much."

He'll say "I like kindergarten.....but not that much." He's cute.

We each got to take home a small pumpkin as a prize for visiting.
I like prizes.

SO many choices. Caroline had trouble making up her mind.

Not me! Which is a huge surprise because I truly could spend hours searching for the perfect pumpkin. But, alas, I wanted to set a good example for Caroline and picked one of the first few I picked up. To be honest, I'm not entirely happy with it, but I kept it. A teachable moment for everyone.

Ah, pumpkin patch success.